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

“Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts: The Longest Jazz Solo in History”

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 […]

“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 […]

“The Pain of the Watermelon Joke”

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Author Jacqueline Woodson writes about her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, growing up in South Carolina and Daniel Handler’s watermelon joke directed at her at the National Book Awards. “I would have written Brown Girl Dreaming if no one had ever wanted to buy it, if it went nowhere but inside a desk drawer that my […]

“Samus Works Alone”

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At Re/Action, Maddy Myers writes about how important the Metroid franchise, in both game and manga form, and its protagonist, Samus Aran, were to her. “Samus still represents a breakthrough. She first took off her armor to reveal a woman’s form back in 1986, the year that I was born. Samus and I grew up […]

On Writing The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

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John Le Carré writes about writing The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. “It was the Berlin Wall that had got me going, of course: I had flown from Bonn to take a look at it as soon as it started going up. I went with a colleague from the Embassy and as we […]

“The truth about the dungeon master who disappeared in the steam tunnels”

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Jason Louv writes about James Dallas Egbert III, who seemed to have disappeared in Michigan State University’s steam tunnels in 1979 and who became the focus of a panic about Dungeons & Dragons. “When Egbert vanished, his parents hired William Dear, a private detective, to locate him. Dear theorized that it was Egbert’s involvement in […]

“Each Metroit Prime Game Begins In Disaster”

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Maddy Myers writes about survival and Metroid Prime 3’s Samus. “My ex-boyfriend of five years had moved out. I had been forced to live with the person who I hated the most: myself. I couldn’t escape her. She was everywhere. I knew a couple things for certain: I wanted to kill myself. And Metroid Prime […]

“Stuff You Missed In History Class: Bela Lugosi”

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The “Stuff You Missed In History Class” podcast discusses the life of Bela Lugosi in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Like this:Like Loading…

Photography’s Antichrist

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At The Guardian, Chris Campion writes about American photographer William Mortensen, who specialized in the eerie, the grotesque, the fantastic and the macabre. “In his own writings, Mortensen invoked Hogarth, Beardsley, Daumier and Goya as his forebears. But he also had much in common – in technique, style and approach – with European outlier artists […]

“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…

“Too-ticky’s Guide To Live”

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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 […]

“Remembering Koh Masaki”

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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. […]

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 […]

“The Strength of Robin Williams”

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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 […]

“How Dolph Lundgren Went From Chemical Engineer to Action Hero”

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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 […]

“The Man Without A Mask”

The New Yorker has a profile of Saúl Armendáriz, the luchador Cassandro, and his fellow exóticos of lucha libre. “Exóticos have been around since the nineteen-forties. At first, they were dandies, a subset of rudos with capes and valets. They struck glamour-boy poses and threw flowers to the audience. As exóticos got swishier and more […]

“Fifteen Years Later: Tom Cruise and Magnolia”

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Amy Nicholson writes about Tom Cruise and the filming of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999). “Cruise leaped into his three-week stint on Magnolia almost immediately after Kubrick said ‘Cut.’ He was in a rush to squeeze in Mission: Impossible II (2000) that same year — he did, after all, have his own production company to […]

Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson

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A BBC documentary on the life and work of writer and artist Tove Jansson, best known for her Moomin books. (via Kate Laity) Like this:Like Loading…

“Sculptress of Sound: The Lost Works of Composer Delia Derbyshire”

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BBC Radio 4’s Matthew Sweet explores the music and life of composer Delia Derbyshire, probably best known for her work on Doctor Who‘s iconic theme song. “Her realisation of the Doctor Who theme is just one small example of her genius and we’ll demonstrate how the music was originally created as well as hearing individual […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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).

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    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.”

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    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.”

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    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)

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    Neill Cameron has re-imagined the characters of Parks & Recreation as members of Starfleet. (Via @neillcameron)

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    Christopher Lee has released a promotional video for his latest album, Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.  You should probably watch everything at Charlemagne Productions.

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