The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Secret Agent, Detective, Genius, Jerk: Modernizing Sherlock Holmes

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A man with dark wavy hair wakes up in an iron-framed bed in the middle of a windowless room. He leaps out from under the white sheets and stares intently at a corner of the white ceiling. Suddenly, gracefully, he spins to defeat an invisible opponent in four swift motions, finally falling to his knees […]

Maybe You’re My Love

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[In April, the Guttersnipes like to mix it up a little.  This month, Romance editor Chris Szego writes about anime] Only those with excellent social standing and those from filthy rich families are lucky enough to spend their time here in the elite private school, Ouran Academy.  The Ouran Host Club  is where the school’s […]

the lego mind-set: what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

atari

When I was a kid, my parents got me a later model Radio Shack Trash 80 (TRS-80)  computer, but what I really wanted was an Atari. All my friends had them, so I spent hours in other people’s basements, pushing that one red button and twisting the joystick as we navigated pixellated characters through two-dimensional […]

Catharsis denied: when fiery doom
is an anti-climax

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When I was about 12, my parents took me to see a stage version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings performed with life-sized puppets. As Frodo was agonizing over pitching his precious ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, Sam, exhausted from the epic journey but determined to help his beloved friend, inched […]

Is that a gun in your sweatpants?
Art, morality and The Superbowl

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I told my 3 year old that I’d find a bed for his google-eyed dinosaur. “I promise, sweetheart.” Then, after 45 minutes of ducking in and out of his room with him crying and the senile cat howling in the background while I tried to write an article, I threw the dinosaur across the living […]

How to be a Man in Four hours: The Perils of Instant Gratification

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As a transguy, the question “What makes me a man?” has meant both pretty much the same things to me as to any other guy, and also something a bit different. I had to figure most of it out on my own, going through a second puberty of sorts at a point when all my […]

Some superpowers are just useless enough to be real

astral projection

My best friend growing up had a theory about people claiming to have special abilities like ESP, levitation, or astral projection. She had a babysitter who claimed she could levitate, but only when she was alone. My friend’s theory wasn’t that these things were impossible, but that realistically they wouldn’t be very cool. She figured […]

The Dark Knight and the ACME Bomb: Batman and realism part I

The ending to The Dark Knight Rises left my wife doubled over laughing in the parking lot of the theatre. I tried to take a picture for posterity, but it was too dark. Given that no one else in the audience seemed affected in the same way, I expect I’ll need to explain why: simply […]

A Warning to the faint of heart
And eight year olds

When I was in grade two, my school thought it’d be a great Halloween activity to have a movie screening of old horror films. They showed us the 1931 adaptations of Dracula and Frankenstein, the original 1932 The Mummy, and the 1954 3-D classic, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. At age eight I had […]

Cinematic Narrative and the Ethics of Slaying Monsters

In 1988, I spent more hours of my life than I care to recall playing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on my original 8-bit Nintendo. Combined with Ridley Scott’s Legend, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, it gave me a soft spot for sword and sorcery. Playing Shadow of the […]

Linus and the Real Girl: An Anatomically Correct Security Blanket

Whenever I saw Lars and the Real Girl at the video store, I skipped over it thinking it was a tasteless comedy. I’m not sure how I missed that it was critically acclaimed, written by Nancy Oliver of Six Feet Under, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and nominated for an Academy Award and […]

I Was Raised by Muppets

Of all the people whose art and philosophy have shaped the man I grew up to be, I think it’s possible that I have been most influenced by Jim Henson. The way the Muppets interacted with one another and the values they lived by formed a foundation for an understanding of relationships that has continued […]

Karma Borrowed my Fist: Ayn Rand, Earl Hickey and The Law of Attraction

Earl: I got a weird feeling in my stomach. Randy: Maybe you got stomach cancer. Can karma cause stomach cancer? – My Name is Earl, “O Karma, Where Art Thou?” Season 1, Episode 12   While I was packing returns at the bookstore where I work, a random book on relationships caught my eye. I […]

When to start laughing: Homicidal hillbillies and absurd horror-comedies

Sometimes life is uncooperative. The consequences extend from our highest functions to the lowest corners of the cultural gutter. Here, friends, is the result of my non-compliant life situation: a list of things that make me think of other things, loosely organized around the theme of absurd horror-comedies! I’ll start with Tucker and Dale vs. […]

Becoming Human

Every April at the Gutter, the editors switch things up. This week Comics Editor Carol writes about tv. ‘Ware ye spoilers! “Sometimes I wonder what it would be like for everything inside me that’s denied and unknown to be revealed, but I’ll never know. I live my life in hiding. My survival depends on it.”–Dexter […]

Who’s Your Doctor?

Every April, the Gutter switches things up.  This month, Romance editor Chris talks about television.   Confession time:  Until 2003, I had no idea what Dr. Who was. I mean, I knew there’d been a television show with that name.  My Nana used to watch it occasionally.  I had vague childhood memories of the freaky/cool […]

Murder and Intuition: Overlooking the corpses in the shrubbery

“It’s very dangerous to believe people – I haven’t for years.” – Miss Marple in Sleeping Murder No matter how you cast it – intellectualized, implied, luridly depicted – murder isn’t nice. CSI upped the ante on graphic visuals of murder victims, spawning a host of procedurals which routinely include shots of dangling intestines and […]

Just Leave the Talking Skull Alone

Sometimes you should just leave a talking skull well enough alone. Actually, you should probably always leave a talking skull well enough alone, but that’s not exactly what I was getting at. I’m thinking of Bob from Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels, and the unfortunate transformation he underwent in the tv adaptation, The Dresden Files. […]

On the value of frightening small children

I remember seeing Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in the theatre, and I think it holds the record, in my experience, for the fastest time in making a small child cry. I have no idea what movie the child’s parents thought they were taking her to, but I don’t blame her for deciding immediately that she […]

My brain knows how to creep me out

My wife spends a lot of time thinking about zombies. Recently she posed me a question: which is the more powerful image, a zombie baby or an empty infant car seat during a zombie epidemic? The zombie baby is creepy, sure, and if it’s well done it’s horrifying, but I think for me the empty […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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    Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work.

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    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

     

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    Tim Reis shares ten things he learned from producing his first independent feature The Demon’s Rook. “Making an independent feature film is hard. Making an independent feature film with no money is especially hard. Making an independent feature film with no money, no actors, and a first-time director and crew is almost impossible. It is also the greatest, most liberating thing and you can and should totally do it.” (Thanks, Colin!)

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    The Princeton University Digital Library has digitized three Seventeenth Century Japanese illustrated scrolls and you can view them here. Meanwhile, 100,000 images from Getty Research Institute are now available at the Digital Library of America. (via @BibliOdyssey)

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    The Awl’s Rich Bellis writes about Koh Masaki and the importance of Masaki’s visibility as an out gay man working in the Japanese porn industry. “By the time he died from peritonitis after an appendix operation, at just 29, Masaki had established a celebrity persona in a business where such a thing hadn’t existed before. Japanese censorship laws require blurring genitalia, but social stigma leads many performers (regardless of gender) to obscure their faces, too. Dark sunglasses, hats and blacked-out swimming goggles are common accessories in an industry whose overall value has been estimated at around $20 billion.” (Thanks, Earl)

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