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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.