The Cultural Gutter

building a better robot builder

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

“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)

“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 […]

RIP, Bob Hoskins

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Actor Bob Hoskins has died. Most sources are mentioning Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but Hoskins also appeared in Brazil, Nixon, The Long Good Friday, Pink Floyd The Wall, Unleashed, The Secret Agent and the tv show, Tales From The Crypt (“Fatal Caper”). And Hoskins was Chris Claremont’s first choice for Wolverine (via @Zemrag).  The Guardian, The […]

Kansas City’s Drag Balls

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Private Birthday Party has a collection of photographs from Kansas City’s Drag Balls in the 1950s and 1960s.

Will Eisner Week!

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It’s Will Eisner Week and Sequart is celebrating with a week of Eisner-themed articles. You can find articles as they add them here.

Becoming a Cipher to Oneself

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At Jim C. Hines’ blog, writer Micha Trota writes about what it means when she says, “I don’t see race.” “It means that because I learned to see no difference between ‘white’ and ‘color,’ I have white-washed my own sense of self. It means that I know more about what it is to be a […]

“The Fabulous World of Karel Zeman”

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At Teleport City, Keith reports on his visit to the Film Special Effects Museum / Muzeum Karla Zemana, writes about Zeman and five of Zeman’s films: “If you took special effects film pioneer Georges Melies and combined him with stop motion animation genius Ray Harryhausen and surreal fantasist Terry Gilliam, then taught him to speak […]

“Girl Power: Remembering Shirley Temple”

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In a tribute to Shirley Temple, Nitrate Diva offers a thoughtful analysis of Temple’s career and appeal. “When I watch Temple, it is with the rapt astonishment that one might feel before a great magician. Not because I consider her talents a ‘trick,’ but rather because I find something infinitely more sacred in the strength […]

“The Fleming Files”

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At Teleport City, The Gutter‘s own Keith examines Ian Fleming’s historical and fictional lives in espionage. “There were many British celebrities who dabbled to some degree or other in intelligence work during the war: Fleming, of course, but also entertainer Noel Coward[,] occult fiction author Dennis Wheatley, even notorious Ordo Templi Orientis leader Aleister Crowley […]

RIP, Mae Young

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Professional wrestler Mae Young has died. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cageside Seats and WWE.com have obituaries. WWE.com also has a tribute video. Conan O’Brien interviews Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah.

RIP, Hiroo Onoda

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Hiroo Onoda has died. Onoda was the last soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army to surrender, after hiding in the Philippines forest until 1974. Asia News and The New York Times have obituaries.

“Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story” Comic

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A complete digital edition of  Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story (1956), the comic that inspired Rep. John Lewis to pursue nonviolence and social justice.

“He looks just like what you want a hitman to look like”

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Jeanne Marie Laskas tells the story of an ATF agent who works undercover as a hitman. Hear an interview with her at NPR and read the story at GQ.

“Bettie Page Gives Naughty a Good Name”

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At Newsweek, Gogo Lidz profiles Betty Page and Mark Mori’s documentary about Page.

Blast of Silence: Independent Filmmaking Then & Now”

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Allen Baron talks about making  his film, Blast of Silence, and the differences between making an independent film between then and now. “In the fall of 1959 I returned to NYC and decided to make my own movie. Making an independent feature film then was expensive, extraordinarily technical, and if the film was completed the […]

“Bani Garu: Problems from the start”

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Lea Hernandez has a new webcomic about her time at anime studio Gainax up at Boing Boing.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

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    Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet.

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    At We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega interviews friend of the Gutter Mark D. White about the virtues of Captain America. “In this, the ninth episode, of the second season of WARN’s podcast series, we talk about what comic books and superheroes can tell us about philosophy and politics, work through what makes someone ‘heroic,’ the ways that the general public often misunderstands and misreads the Captain America character, as well as how American exceptionalism, race, and identity relate to superhero and other types of comic books and graphic novels.”

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    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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    At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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    Nerds of Color announces that their own David Walker will be writing Dynamite’s Shaft comic. Denys Cowan shares the cover for Shaft #1 drawn by Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz. Sanford Greene shares some his cover work here and here. Black Comix posts Ulises Farinas’ cover.  Comics Wow has more and previews covers. (Via Black Comix and World of Hurt)

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