If I ever write a self help book, I think I’m going to call it Don’t be That Guy. You know that guy? He’s the one who took two brownies even though everyone was asked to only take one and then there weren’t enough for everybody. He’s the guy who completely failed to notice you standing there and took your turn. He’s the guy who totally didn’t think through the thing that just came out of his mouth and then compounded it by failing to apologize. No matter how great he is the rest of the time, nobody likes that guy when he’s being That Guy, and I definitely do not want to be in his shoes if I can help it. Continue reading…
This site is updated Thursday afternoon with a new article about an artistic pursuit generally considered to be beneath consideration. Carol Borden draws out the best in comics, Chris Szego dallies with romance, alex MacFadyen stares deeply into the screen and Keith Allison probes science fiction.
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Since DC’s reboot, I have hinted publicly about the comics I want other people to make so that I can read them. And by hinting, I mean, “talking about them endlessly until I inevitably lose friends.” However, hinting doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. So I’m harnessing the inconceivable power of The Cultural Gutter to advocate for my desires. These are comics that should be. These are comics that I would like to read. These are comics that humanity deserves. And even with my love of marginal characters and comics, I can’t imagine them being much more marginal than this. Continue reading…
I read, not so very long ago, an article intent on wringing its hands over just how dark and bleak and apocalypse-obsessed modern young adult fiction tends to be. It’s all full of kids getting oppressed, leading uprisings, getting hunted down for sport, surviving the destruction of the earth and trying to make a new life. And while there may be a certain bleakness to be sure, I was wondering if the author of this article had ever read any previous generations of young adult fiction. I mean, I grew up in a time when “child must kill a beloved pet” was a whole genre, and while that may not be apocalyptic, you can’t tell me Old Yeller isn’t substantially more devastating and dark than the destruction of the world.
Young adult fiction, in all its iterations from Robinson Crusoe to The Hunger Games, often explores dangerous, tense, and sometimes downright horrifying scenarios. And it’s no surprise that these tales, whether they are adventure or post-apocalypse, appeal to kids while puzzling the adults who forgot how to appreciate such stories. Their sense of adventure appeals to a yearning for freedom at a time when children are straining under the yoke of parental and academic rules. Their forays into apocalypse speak to the feeling that something is wrong with the world, that the older generation has done a terrible job, and that struggling to survive in a ravaged aftermath is preferable to doing what aged and corrupt politicians command. Continue reading…
(…because Famous Penultimate Words just doesn’t have the same ring…)
Next month I will write my last column for The Cultural Gutter.
I wrote my very first column as a Gutter Guest way back in 2005, about Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson. Although Ibbotson died in 2010, she was then and remains today one of my favourite writers, and Magic Flutes is still one of my favourite books. A lot of things have changed during my tenure with the Gutter: it’s good to know my feeling for that particular book is still the same.
I came on board as a Gutter Editor back in… holy crap, was it really 2007? How is it that I’ve been writing this column for so long and yet am strangely no older than when I started? Weird. We’ve covered a lot of ground since then. Author profiles; book reviews; comparisons and contrasts; lists; patterns; likes and dislikes; recurring themes; new advances — there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the largest slice of the fiction publishing pie. And I’ve had a great time doing so.
But now it’s time to say goodbye.
Or just about. Next month is December, which is the perfect time for a listy, best-of-the-year sort of column. I want to keep that spot open for the chance to highlight the books I’ve liked most and possibly even make predictions as to what might come next. So this month I thought I’d enumerate some of the reason I read Romance. Those are some of my own personal reasons: your mileage may vary. I hope it does. Continue reading…
Alex’s excellent article last week prompted Gutter Overlord Carol to suggest we each use this month to write about masculinity in our own particular capacity. Having been by odd coincidence right in the middle of reading The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine (a fascinating look at the physical and hormonal characteristics unique to, um, the […]
It’s the end of the year; I work in retail; I have the flu. All of which means that for the past couple weeks I’ve been re-reading rather than reading. Mostly Eva Ibbotson, whose warmth reminds me not only that I love reading, but why. Which makes this a good time for a retrospective list. […]
I make a conscious attempt to not repeat myself with this column. It would be easy to do: my favourite writers are my favourites for a reason, and yay, they keep writing great books. But I figure that wouldn’t be terribly interesting for anyone but me. Besides, there are so many Romances published every year. […]
I was a little disappointed by how many Romances I liked this year. Mostly because I wanted to love so many more of them. But as always, some titles managed to rise above the rest. Here are some of my favourites from this year. Like this:Like Loading…
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Of Note Elsewhere
At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”
At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).
At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip. Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident. If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”
The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”
At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)