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DID YOU READ

Portland: The Science Fiction Capital of America?

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While Portlandia just taught us that Ronald D. Moore definitely doesn’t live in Portland, that doesn’t mean that the Rose City isn’t the science fiction capitol of America.

Perhaps it’s the woodsy gloom of our winter months—after all, we can’t see the sky clearly for two-thirds of the year—that has us dreaming of the stars and beyond. Perhaps the high concentration of unabashed geeks, open-source developers, and tech-savvy residents of our so-called “silicon forest” has normalized Battlestar Galactica fandom and Trekkie nitpicking for all Portlanders. Or maybe we just have a lot of time on our hands.

In any case, the greater Northwest area is a veritable vortex of science fictional energy. Don’t believe us? Please, we have the cred in spades. For one, Portland lays claim to the grand dame of science fiction and fantasy, the great Ursula K. Le Guin, who has lived in the Rose City, penning Hugo and Nebula award-winning novels since 1958. Frank Herbert, author of the formidable Dune series, cut his teeth writing for the Oregon Statesman Journal—and, little-known fact—found inspiration for the desert planet Dune while writing an article about the sand dunes of Florence, Oregon. These heads and countless of their brethren, are celebrated at the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, which, OK, fine…is in Seattle.

For lovers of the more macabre end of the spectrum, Portland’s Hollywood Theater plays host yearly to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulu Con, an event as amazingly improbable—how can there even be enough H.P. Lovecraft-inspired short films to populate a festival that grows yearly?—as its cousin institution, the Lovecraft Bar in SE Portland. Yeah, we have an H.P. Lovecraft bar, complete with tarot readings, sci-fi theme DJ sets, and horror movie nights.

To the 80s children: oh yeah, Short Circuit was filmed partly in Portland.

Dark Horse Comics, the largest independent comic book and manga publisher in America, has been plying its particular breed of pulp wizardry from the Portland ‘burb of Milwaukie since the 80s. Hottest selling titles? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, and Mass Effect comic book adaptations, as well as their own invention, Hellboy.

If all this is making you itch to pull the homemade Starship Enterprise costume out of your mom’s closet, don’t fear—you’re not alone. Science fiction nerds in Portland ample opportunities to mingle. If not at the H.P. Lovecraft fest’s “Mall of Cthulhu,” then at OryCon, a convention that has been a staple event of the Oregon science fiction scene for 29 years, growing from a small, one-day symposium on the Portland State campus cobbled together by the then-nascent Portland Science Fiction Society (PorSFiS) in November of 1978, into an elaborate, highly-costumed affair with attendance numbering in the thousands.

John Lorentz, secretary of Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc (OSFCI), the fan-run nonprofit that handles the dirty work of convention organizing, once told me that, “OryCon really has become the nexus of science fiction in Oregon. There are writer groups…gamers, costumers, artists and readers all over the state and many of them come to OryCon each fall. I’ve been amazed at how many people will hop in their car, and drive hundreds of miles to attend. Which…of course. With a “gaming room” well-stocked with men in Utilikilts rolling dice, and late nights of pagan ceremony and hearty rounds of Filking (trust me, you’re gonna want to Google that), it’s the place us Battlestar Galactica victims end up when there just isn’t one moore episode to watch.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.