The Cultural Gutter

taking the dumb out of fandom

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

One Million Images

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“The British Library has uploaded one million public domain scans from 17th-19th century books to Flickr!” (Thanks, Kate!)

10 Comics I Liked In 2012

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Tales of derring-do! Girl adventurers! Occult mystery! Infernal foes! Secrets revealed! Pirates! Love, loss & betrayal! Intricate art bound in lovely hardcovers! Indie going mainstream! Original creations! It’s been an incredible year for comics. So many good ones that I can’t even begin to claim to know what would be the best comics of 2012. […]

Vampires of New England

The Smithsonian Magazine investigates the vampires and vampire panics of 18th and 19th Century New England.  “In Manchester, hundreds of people flocked to a 1793 heart-burning ceremony at a blacksmith’s forge: ‘Timothy Mead officiated at the altar in the sacrifice to the Demon Vampire who it was believed was still sucking the blood of the […]

Sexcula!

“Shot in Vancouver by one-time producer Clarence Neufeld and a cast of unknown exhibitionists, the adult monster spoof Sexcula is not only an almost lost piece of undeniably sleazy Canadiana, it’s also one of earliest monster movies made north of the border, a spoofy take-off on the Universal classic horror films.”  More at Canuxploitation!

Plea Bargains and Loveless Marriages

Scholars are combing digitized records from London’s Old Bailey and discovering fascinating trends in plea bargaining, divorce and bigamy in the 1800s.

Cartographic Curiosities

Step right up for your glimpse of Slate Magazine’s slideshow collection of cartographic curiosities!

Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Oh, to live in the era of the Regency Romance or the epic medieval adventure! Oh, except that life would suck: “No painless dentistry, eccentric provision for sewage, no penicillin and no concept of asepsis, and the condition of most women was not one that I aspire to.”

Crashing the Party

Wacked out prose, never to be repeated

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash is a book that requires some warning for unsuspecting readers: it’s so wacked out and demented that it’s beyond over-the-top and way beyond anything you can take seriously. The book works because you eventually realize that Stephenson’s approach suits the future that he is talking about. By throwing literary caution to […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Actor Richard Kiel has died. Kiel worked in both film and television, including performances in The Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”; Eegah (1962); The Barbary Coast with William Shatner; Happy Gilmore (1996); Pale Rider (1985); as Vlad in Tangled (201); and as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).   The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times and Variety have obituaries. Here he is interviewed with Britt Ekland. And David Letterman interviews Kiel here.

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    Open Culture has a round-up of eight free and complete films by Dziga Vertov, including Man With A Movie Camera (1929) and the first Soviet animated feature, Soviet Toys (1924). (Thanks, Earl!)

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    Matt Zoller Seitz has written a lovely meditation on Robin Williams at RogerEbert.com: “Williams wore the invisible garments of depression. He carried that burden. A lot of the time we didn’t see it, because he was a bright and enthusiastic comic performer and a great actor. But the weight was always there.

    Somehow he lived 63 years.

    What a warrior he was.”

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    At Kaiju Shakedown, Hiroshi Fukazawa interviews director Ringo Lam. “Not as flashy as John Woo, never as hyperkinetic as Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam is one of Hong Kong’s most underappreciated directors. He made his name with sophisticated, downbeat crime dramas that came to define a certain style of urban Hong Kong cinema in the Eighties and early Nineties. After getting his start in television at CTV and TVB, he directed five features before finding his stride with 1987’s City on Fire, the movie that provided the blueprint for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.”

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    “[Grace] Jones — who was famous not just for her music, but also for her acting and modeling — took Lundgren to New York, where they partied at the legendary Studio 54 and Andy Warhol took pictures of Lundgren. Jones introduced Lundgren to the world of show business. Meanwhile, Lundgren was still set to begin his Fulbright scholarship at MIT. ‘I started sort of thinking, “Wow, this is kind of cool,”‘ Lundgren remembers: ‘”I don’t know if I want to go back to engineering after this.”‘ More at NPR.

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    “A mid-20th century collaboration between artists, poets and printers gave rise to a unique book of surrealistic creatures accompanied by complementary typographic art poems.” See more at BibliOdyssey. (Thanks, Andrezo!)

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