The Cultural Gutter

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

“How To Write A Thriller”

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Ian Fleming writes about writing: “We are all fed fairy stories and adventure stories and ghost stories for the first 20 years of our lives, and the only difference between me and perhaps you is that my imagination earns me money. But, to revert to my first book, Casino Royale, there are strong incidents in […]

“It’s Okay To Be The Uncool Black Girl”

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“I find it amazing how much you appreciate being a nerd once you get older.  Adding two cups of wisdom along with a pint of experience and mix it all together with maturity gives you a bewitching concoction of someone who is secure in who and what they are.  My security and confidence may not […]

“The Big Idea: In Conversation with LULZSEC”

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The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. Like this:Like Loading…

Interview with Alison Bechdel

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NPR interviews cartoonist Alison Bechdel on the occasion of her MacArthur Genius Grant. “I guess I’m proudest of just really sticking with this odd thing I loved and was good at — drawing comics about marginal people (lesbians) in a marginal format (comics). I never thought much about whether that was responsible, or respectable, or […]

An Interview with Gordon Parks

In an interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project, the late Gordon Parks talks Life Magazine, photography, racism, his hometown and offers advice to young Black people. Like this:Like Loading…

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s “Black Rainbow”

Ryan Holmberg reads Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s Black Blizzard closely with Tatsumi’s memoir, A Drifting Life, and discovers Black Blizzard is an adaptation of pulp mystery writer Shimada Kazuo’s story, “Black Rainbow,” then puts Tatsumi’s work in the context of other mass entertainment of its time.  The piece itself is worth it for the discussion of Shimada […]

Big Damn Heroes

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For all his various meanings, attributes and forms, the hero of a Romance novel is really just the male protagonist.  He can be heroic in nature, of course, and he often is, but it isn’t required. Sometimes the actual heroism, should there be any, falls to the heroine.  And sometimes it falls to the writer. […]

Afghan Notebook

Ted Rall documents his travels through Afghanistan in Afghan Notebook. (He also gets himself added to the list of artists like Joe Sacco, Guy Delisle and Emmanuel Guibert). Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Harvey Pekar

Famous curmudgeon and writer of the comic, American Splendor, Harvey Pekar has died. The Cleveland Plain Dealer blog has more information. Like this:Like Loading…

“Total Nowhere Emotion Expansion”

What is “Total Nowhere Emotion Expansion?” It’s a digital art exhibit on the back of a trailer in Australia. “Eight artists from five countries have mashed together snippets of online culture – chatrooms, Second Life, online dream journals, first person shooters and more – to make some interesting observations about what cyberspace has become.”  See […]

Portrait of the Artist (with the Sound of Cicadas)

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Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s A Drifting Life is all the proof anyone would ever need that comics can be serious art. It will show up at the top of year end lists and on syllabi. The fanciest of blurbs will be written about it. Comic fans will hound the unsuspecting at parties and in their homes to […]

SHOPPING FOR PANTS WITH MARTIN KOVE

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There’s a pair of pants in the bottom drawer of my dresser. They don’t fit me. In fact, they’re kind of ugly. They’re chocolate brown with thick vertical half-hound’s-tooth white stripes, a trio of faux-bone oblong buttons (non-functional) running up the side of each pocket and belt loops wide enough to accommodate a belt half […]

Author abducted by Aliens!

Ah, the anal probe as metaphor.

Aliens rarely abduct the authors of mass-marketed paperbacks. Once in a while, though, a writer drives along an Interstate highway or recklessly vacations in a remote mountain cabin. Whitley Strieber, the author of The Hunger and most-recently co-author of The Day after Tomorrow, was one of the first to capitalize on the alien abduction memoir […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Graveyard Shift Sisters reviews Adilifu Nama’s Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film and looks at the history of race in science fiction films from teh 1950s to the present. “Adilifu Nama concocted a thorough read that blends a critical look at science fiction cinema’s milestone works in conjunction with American sociopolitical history, specifically with some of the most profound shifts in American race relations and policy.”

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    There’s a fine piece at Nitrate Diva about the 1935 film, Kongo. “In this monument to morbidity, nearly all the taboos festering at the edges of pre-Code cinema come out and play: blasphemy, drug addiction, prostitution, torture, slavery, bestiality, and (spoiler alert!) incest. The movie positively wallows in depravity. Degradation is its subject, its project, its study.”

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    At Bitch, Liza Dadoly writes about Never Alone. “Never Alone’s plot is based around Alaskan indigenous folklore, specifically the story ‘Kunuuksaayuka,’ a tale told by storyteller Robert Nasruk Cleveland of the Inupiaq people. ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ tells of a young boy who goes out into a blizzard to discover its source and, by doing so, save his people and their way of life from the terrible storm. According to Never Alone’s website, nearly forty Alaskan Native participants, including storytellers and elders, were involved with the development of the game. These Inupiat representatives and Never Alone’s development team worked together to turn ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ into the game, notably changing the protagonist from a young boy into a young girl, Nuna, and giving her an adorable fox to accompany her on her quest.”

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    Quartz has a gallery of Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s photographs of the skater girls of Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    PBS’ Newshour has a gallery of Norbert Ostrowski’s amazing automotive design sketches from 1946 to 1973. “The designs were never meant to leave the studios. Automakers routinely destroyed early sketches for fear they would fall into the wrong hands. But some of them made their way out of Ford, GM and Chrysler, as well as now defunct Studebaker, Packard and AMC. According to one designer, they were smuggled out in boxes with false bottoms. One employee famously hid his sketches inside the liner of his trench coat.”

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    Swell songs on disreputable topics: “Gom Jabbar “ by Chica Non Grata and “Bad Clone” by Victoria Squid.

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