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Swimming With Wholphins

Swimming With Wholphins (photo)

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It’s time again to note the landing of a new Wholphin, number ten this time in the biannual subscription series from Dave Eggers’ McSweeney‘s mill, and now more than ever it seems a vital project, even as our free time becomes increasingly consumed by watching and sharing viral “shorts” on YouTube.

Actually, what often spurs YouTube popularity isn’t so far from the aesthetic-ironic rationales employed by Wholphin — aside from newsworthiness and blooper moments and stupid people tricks, the genuine viral videos that catch on can have an odd, otherworldly sense of amazement to them, showing you something real that you never thought you’d see. Wholphin does better than that, of course, curating with not only the OMG factor in mind, but also duration, real wit and the amazement that can come with new visual perspectives. But there’s also a rabid hunger at work for what’s brand new not only in filmmaking but in science, in design and in conceptual performance art. Nothing is off the table — in past editions, multiple dubbing options are common, and in every issue, pieces of odd footage or sometimes entire films are used as rotating menu screens.

Building since 2005, the back library (which can be bought online) includes, amidst eye-popping nature footage (trap-jaw ants, drunk bees, etc.), redubbed Russian sitcoms and excerpts from idiosyncratic features, some of the most spectacular and vital shorts of the last few years (Anthony Lucas’ “The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello,” Bill Morrison’s re-edited lost film “The Mesmerist,” Ray Tintori’s junkyard-Oz neo-myth “Death to the Tinman,” and so on).

02012010_ILoveSarahJane.jpgNo. 10 is paradigmatic — the rotating menu-movies run the gamut from microscopic images of bizarre aquatic lifeforms to the chronicle of a handmade contraption that allows a windblown kite to manufacture its own very distinctive artwork. A segment from Michael Jacobs’ doc “Audience of One,” in which a Pentecostal preacher who devotes the resources of his megachurch to shooting the science fiction movie God told him to make, seems superfluous (it’s out on DVD in its entirety), but Spencer Susser’s “I Love Sarah Jane” is the McSweeney‘s-impish Aussie zombie film we’ve been waiting for, if we’re not just done with zombies altogether.

It’s easier to love Malcolm Sutherland’s “The Astronomer’s Dream,” a hand-drawn/computer-animated freakout that irrationally recalls early Métal Hurlant comics (Wholphin can always be depended upon to rope in whatever new flabbergasting animation style appear in the short-film festival void), and Eric Flanagan’s “Teleglobal Dreamin’,” which conjoins a young Singaporean telemarketer and the ugly American consultant/ex-actor she has to escort, eventually getting him mistaken for Brendan Fraser by the entirety of Singapore, including some whimsical death squads.

02012010_HeWasOnce.jpgAn episode from Jonathan Demme’s doc series about post-Katrina New Orleans, “Right to Return,” is eloquent if unsurprising, but the pearl might be the only vintage film on the docket: Mary Hestand’s “He Was Once,” from 1989, a fascinating post-punk reimagining of the old Lutheran animated TV show “Davey & Goliath,” only semi-animating real but post-dubbed actors (including producer Todd Haynes, right after “Superstar”) wearing giant clay hairdos and addressing real dramatic issues, like child abuse. Performed with that voguing, absurd semi-conviction that typified New Wave bands, in a kitschy style that both alienates and destroys distance, the film is hilarious and distressing at exactly the same time. You’d never see it anywhere else.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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