DID YOU READ

Let The Portlandia Activity Book Teach You How to Write an Online Review

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The upcoming Portlandia Activity Book is chock-full of good, old-fashioned, Wi-fi-independent fun by the combined publishing and television powers of McSweeney’s and the IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia. Read an excerpt below, and pre-order here.


ONLINE REVIEWS FOR THE FLEDGLING CRITIC

Critique is no longer an activity reserved for mothers and journalists. Today we’re all critics capable of turning our subjective experiences into incisive, factual data. The Internet is the critic’s playground, providing ample free space for brutal overshares and expository tales of health-code violations. As a critic on a quest to preserve truth, your writing skills will serve you more than all the other skills you list on your resumé. Here, we’ll concentrate on the various approaches to a successful online review.

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The Enthusiastic Self-Promoting Review
MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN
★★★★★

My mother’s the best and I love everything she makes. The meatloaf—amazing. The casserole—forget about it. And her Bundt cake! That’s the only thing that matters. It’s been three months since I graduated from college and I’m not sure about anything these days but when I’m alone with that Bundt cake and my childhood toys, I don’t need anything else. I don’t mean to sound like I’m doing marketing for my mother’s kitchen, but I can’t help it. And since I’m here, if anyone out there reading this is hiring, I would give up the Bundt cake for full-time or part-time employment.

The All About Me Review
STARDUST LOUNGE
★★★★✩
Last Tuesday I was doctor shopping when my big toe started to hurt (I figured it was trench foot). I was near the Stardust Lounge and wanted to check it out for a while (before WebMD diagnosed me with leptospirosis) so, I stopped in. I ordered some jalapeno poppers, thinking the Vitamin C and antioxidants might soothe my glandular phrenitis, which started to throb a little that afternoon. While I waited for my food to arrive, I got one of my migraines (my mom says it’s Epstein-Barr, but I’m not sure). In the end, the jalapeno poppers made my migraine disappear (however, I did get a weird rash that evening, though it might have been a mosquito’s concentrated attack on a three-inch area on my neck). No major developments on the trench foot so far.

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The Strictly Hypothetical Review
BILLY’S ORIGINAL BURGER JOINT
★★✩✩✩

I have not yet stepped foot into Billy’s Original Burger Joint but the walk-by vibe I got was, to put it nicely, less than welcoming. Assuming Billy is an actual person and not someone’s idea for making a crappy restaurant seem more personable, would it kill Billy to fix that awning? The g in Original seems to have peeled off. I’m not sure what exactly is original about that place. Is it the first joint in Billy’s hamburger franchise, or is it the joint itself that’s original—I’m not sure. I don’t have much time or patience for misplaced modifiers, and I’m not sure what that says about the integrity of the ground beef patties. Smelled delicious, though, and I will recommend it to friends.

The Wrong Website Review
SAFEWAY ★★★★✩

I saw you in the parking lot the other day. You were wearing all black, so it’s likely you’re goth. I couldn’t tell if it was, like, a laundry day type of thing or if you’re in mourning or if it was a lifestyle choice. Anyways, watching you unload groceries into your trunk, I couldn’t help but notice your canvas bags, which made me think we share a moral platform? I don’t know if you remember me, but you turned to me and said, “Can I help you? What are you staring at?” I’d love to get coffee with you sometime. Please message me if you’re interested.

Illustrations by Joana Avillez

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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.

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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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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.