The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

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 […]

The merits of space cowboys and vengeance demons

Realism has a lot to answer for. For instance, the number of raised eyebrows I’ve received when recommending tv shows like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even when I talk about them in terms of artistic merit, interesting narrative structure and social relevance, more often than not I get a pause followed […]

A Pie in the Face is Still Funny

Wipeout makes me laugh. It’s absurd and an appalling waste of water, but I’ve been watching it with a friend ever since we stumbled onto the “blind date” episode in season three and were still tuned in two hours later. It reminds me of how much I enjoyed American Gladiators when I was a kid. […]

Maybe Reality Isn’t the Point

Define reality. I’m not a big follower of reality tv shows, although I find myself sucked in to an episode if I start watching. Sometimes I appreciate the talent and sometimes I’m just rubbernecking at the train-wreck drama or the otherness of other people’s lives, but when my favorite contender on The Glee Project was […]

Heroic Trio

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Every April at the Gutter, the editors write about something outside their usual domains.  This month, Comics Editor Carol Borden writes about stars of action cinema. I like ladies of asskickery, women who can throw a punch or wield a sharp pointy weapon, preferably both. Since it’s April and we mix things up here at […]

Highly Animated

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Every April at the Gutter, the editors write about something outside their usual domains.  This month, Romance Editor Chris Szego writes about animated movies.   When I was a kid, cartoons were a real treat. I didn’t watch much TV, but Bugs Bunny and friends were mandatory viewing. We watched the show as a family, […]

Minoru Kawasaki: Look Back in Fun Fur

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Every April at the Gutter, the editors write about something outside their usual domains.  This month Comics Editor Carol Borden writes about movies. This is not even close to a full retrospective, because while Minoru Kawasaki doesn’t have a huge number of films, many of them are not available with English subtitles and I don’t […]

In Living Colour

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This  last month at the Gutter, we’ve been mixing things up, with the editors writing outside of their usual domains. This week, instead of romance, Chris Szego will talk about movies or comics. Hey, wait! How about movies AND comics? Or rather, comic book movies? Recently, the theatre’s been a good place for comics. Not […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Over at Teleport City, Keith takes a look at live-action and animated adaptations of Takao Saito’s manga, Golgo 13.

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    Friend of the Gutter, Todd from Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! joins the Pop Offensive to share two hours of fine global pop. Listen here.

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    At Monkey See, Libby Hill considers RuPaul’s Drag Race and the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Monday Night Raw. “To compare WWE’s Monday Night Raw to RuPaul’s Drag Race may seem like an easy punch line to those who dismiss both as lowbrow entertainment pitched to niche audiences. But those who indulge in both (almost assuredly a very small sliver of that particular Venn diagram) know better than to reject the notion out of hand.” (via @kalaity)

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    Tin House has published an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness illustrated by Matt Kish, an interesting follow-up to Kish’s project, Moby-Dick In Pictures; One Drawing For Every Page. See more of Kish’s work here.

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    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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