DID YOU READ

Portland’s Five Thingiest Bands

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In a city where bands should be considered on the census, for musicians, simply writing good songs isn’t enough. You need to have a Thing. Whether it’s playing toy instruments or making beats from the sound of crying babies or recruiting your cat as a full-fledged member (foreshadowing!), an extra level of ingenuity is required for bands in Portland to rise above the competition. As you’ll see below, some band’s Things are better than others.

MarchFourth Marching Band

Members: Ryan Moore; Jenny Pancake; Richard Cawley; Dan Stauffer; Alex Yore; Aspen Walker; Dan Herrick; Keith Vidos; Ashley Ward; Andy Sterling; Michael Kennett; Heather McGarry; Topher McGarry; Jason Wells; Katie Presley; Joel Ricci; Daniel Lamb; Chris Long; Taylor Aglipay; Andy Shapiro; Michelle Christiansen; Luke Solman; Robin Jackson; Domonic Britton; Jenny Johnson; Matt Moor; Russ Liquid; BennyMo; Ethan Chessin; Eric Miller; Lesilie Kernochan; Katie Colgan; John Avril; Sid Simpatico; Aaron Lyon; Jeremiah Guske; Amy Hotfield; Scarlett Rose; Faith Jennings; Nayana Jennings; Jen Forti; LaTisha Strickland; Nathan Wallway; Aaron Levin; Alex; Eric Quist; StarChadStar; Kevee Balmer; Michael Taluc; Marnee Benson.

Sounds Like: Gogol Bordello’s Traveling Circus.

Their Thing: Fusing a funky, New Orleans-style brass band with a whole host of other sounds, then welding it to a Cirque du Soleil-like spectacle, complete with dancers and stilt-walkers.

Thing Score: 4 (out of 5). Making a scene will always get you noticed in this town, and M4 can make a scene like no other.


Ninja

Members: Throat Rot; Ysan; Christo Bas; Roku; Explorer.

Sounds Like: Heavy, technically proficient, larynx-burning metal.

Their Thing: Dressing like ninjas.

Thing Rating: 3. While Ninja goes all-in with the theme—concealing their identity, creating a whole origin myth—it’s hard to imagine true ninjas playing something so loud, given their stealth and ability is drawn from having zen-like calm. Real ninjas are probably into more loungey, chill-out, downtempo type stuff.


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(Photo by Derek Dahms)

DRATS!!!

Members: Alex Gall; Yoon; Q; Maddog; Chairman; Chad Deitchley.

Sounds Like: Something akin to an Oingo Boingo-Dead Kennedys supergroup covering the Mothers of Invention.

Their Thing: In 2006, the band released “Welcome to New Granada,” a rock opera based on the film “Over the Edge.”

Thing Rating: 2. DRATS!!! has established itself as one of Portland’s zaniest institutions, so nothing it does could be considered a true Thing, no matter how off-the-wall. Insanity is just its style. Now, if it put out a concept album about “Over the Top,” then we can talk about that rating.


mARMITs

Members: Um…not available?

Sounds Like: I’ll pass this over to my friend and colleague, AP Kryza, who wrote of the band a couple years ago, “Did Frank Zappa accidentally eat the brown acid and have an Eraserhead baby? If not, how the hell did Marmits happen?”

Their Thing: Masks and costumes apparently purchased from a Troma Studios garage sale.

Thing Rating: 4. Really, when you make music as frighteningly obtuse and purposely polarizing as mARMITs, you need a good Thing to have any audience at all. Looking like an acid-fried Slipknot and talking like creatures from an ’80s Jim Henson movie is a good Thing.



(Photo by Tarina Westlund)

Portland Cello Project

Members: Justin Kagan; Skip Von Kuske; Gideon Freudmann; Anna Fritz; Allegra M; Sonja Myklebust; Galen Cohen; Kevin Jackson; Douglas Jenkins; Ashia Grzesik; Samantha Kushnick; Robert Brooks; Brian Bruner; Emma Wood; Collin Oldham; Melissa Bach; Sarah Young; John Whaley; Jen Harrison; Teagen Andrews; Jourdan Paul; Jill Coykendall; Leander Star; Elise Blatchford; Matt Berger; John Vecchiarrelli; Rachel Blumberg.

Sounds Like: Your favorite songs, made safe for your grandma.

Their Thing: Adapting everyone from Britney Spears to Kanye West to Pantera to cello.

Thing Rating: 5. If you could see how crazy everyone around here gets whenever the PCP cello-izes a new hip-hop or pop hit (which is a lot), you’d understand why their Thing is the best Thing going in Portland.

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Tell Us Your “Most Portland Thing Ever!”

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Portlanders, you know those moments. You’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and then you see it: The Most Portland Thing Ever. Maybe it’s a group of grown adults in matching knee-socks playing kickball in the park, or a flop of hippies building new community park benches out of peat moss. No, wait, it’s a chicken on a leash, or a woman sitting in a tree weaving macramé pot hangers to raise money for her alternative circus troupe.

(All real things I have actually witnessed, by the way.)

Whatever it is, it makes you spit-take your americano and remember—once again—that where you live is definitely not like other places. People who live in Portland collect and remember these experiences, trading them incredulous conversations, in the hopes of topping one another with tall tales of knitted bicycle lock cozies and vegan mac n’ cheese burritos.

In honor of these beloved absurdities, we ask you this: in the comments below, tell us about the time you saw The Most Portland Thing Ever. At the end of the week, I &#8212by an utterly subjective process &#8212will select the most lovably ridiculous submission, and it will be illustrated in a comic by Portland artist Nicole Georges, a lifelong maker of zines and tragi-hilarious autobiographical comics, not to mention someone who knows a thing or two about the dialectics of Northwest culture.

I’ll keep accepting submissions for this round of stories until Friday. By submitting your Portlandia moment to IFC, you agree to be bound by these submission requirements: the moment must be your own, you will not use names of real people or post any personally identifiable information about yourself or others. All submissions become the property of IFC. We’ll be doing this series periodically over the next few months, featuring some awesome local illustrators taking a crack at your Portland stories.

Portlandia: Help fund a new video on Kickstarter

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What did independent performance art projects, documentaries on obscure rock stars, soon-to-be iconic board games and brilliant cat-oriented straight-to-DVD miniseries do before Kickstarter.com? Luckily we don’t have to imagine a world where true believers in The Adventures of Vampire Kitty and Space Bat can’t micro-finance their favorite comic. The denizens of the world of Portlandia are using Kickstarter, too. In this clip from the all new episode that airs on Friday at 10/9c Carrie Brownstein’s Jayde (you know, from your favorite band “jayde speaks Sevyn”) takes to Kickstarter to help fund her new video. She enlists the help of director Gahvin Quin (Fred Armisen in a delightful wig) to make a video plea to help raise money in the name of art. Want to see more? Tune in on Friday:

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Want the latest news from Portlandia? Like us on Facebook and follow us on @IFCportlandia and use the hashtag #Portlandia.

“Portlandia” airs on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c

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