The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

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

“The Blight of the Honey Bee”

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At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic […]

Number Dumber

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This month’s Guest Star is John Crye, a storyteller, filmmaker and producer and a long time friend of the Gutter. For as long as I can remember, I have loved movies. I consumed all things cinema long before I was involved in the business of entertainment, even before my first jobs managing a video store […]

“The Marvel-Industrial Complex”

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In “The Marvel-Industrial Complex” James Rocchi has some thoughts about Disney’s Marvel movies–and some things to say in response to the responses to his essay. “In the ’80s, Spiderman told me that with great power comes great responsibility; Marvel Studios, via Disney, has money and power both, and we’ve given it to them; as consumers […]

“No Room For Failure”

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MTV News spoke to directors Lexi Alexander, Brenda Chapman and Yulin Kuang about “what they thought of MacLaren’s departure [from Wonder Woman] and how they think it speaks to the bigger problem in the industry – namely, the lack of opportunities women have in film.” If you’d like to know more about MacLaren’s career, including […]

“Unbranded”

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NPR interviews Hank Willis Thomas on his exhibition showcasing images of white women in advertizing. It’s a follow up to his 2008 exhibition, “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America.” “I think what happens with ads — when we put text and logos on them, we do all the heavy lifting of making them make […]

Seijun Suzuki’s Story of Sorrow and Sadness

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“Commercial cinema has predictably chosen not to bite the hand that feeds it, so it’s simultaneously inspiring and also kind of embarrassing to see a movie like Seijun Suzuki’s Story of Sorrow and Sadness. Rarely has a mainstream commercial release been as rabid in its attack, and as thoughtful in its critique, of our dystopian […]

Anything Can Happen In Riverdale

Fiona Staples

I never expected to be reading Archie comics. Archie Andrews’ irresistible appeal to ladies mystified me and I came late to an appreciation for soap operas and straight melodrama. Then there was residual stuff around romance, a punk rock hostility towards the wholesome squares, a dash of internalized sexism mixed with gender dysphoria and a […]

“Churning It All Out”

At Kris Writes, Kristine Kathryn Rusch has some thoughts about “churning out books,” marketing and the publishing industry: “It’s become a cliché. Any writer who writes fast ‘churns out’ material. Or she ‘cranks out’ or ‘pounds out’ whatever it is that she writes. Because clearly, no writer who writes fast can think about what she […]

“How The Death Of The Mid-Budget Film Left A Generation Of Filmmakers MIA”

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“While we weren’t looking, the mid-budget adult-oriented motion picture has all but disappeared. And the gifted directors behind them are in danger of disappearing as well. Movie wonks and box-office watchers have written and talked about the death of mid-budget filmmaking, but mostly in business terms—as opposed to personal ones, contemplating the phenomenon’s effect on […]

The De-Radicalization of American Girl Dolls

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At The Atlantic, Amy Schiller writes about Mattel’s changes to American Girl Dolls line.  from teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness” to customizable accessories reflecting their owners’ own lives. Alexandra Petri writes “Even more terrible things are happening to the American Girl brand than you thought” at The Washington Post. […]

A Little Halloween History

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Rosie Cima writes a little bit about the history of Halloween including a look at seasonal stores, sexy costumes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. (Thanks, Paula!)

“The Ambush At Sheridan Springs”

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Jon Peterson discusses how Gary Gygax lost control of Dungeons & Dragons. “What did Gygax see, in that moment? He saw enough shares in play that he stood to lose control of TSR, a company he had founded and transformed into a global brand. But he surely also saw something even more dear at stake: […]

“Revealing the Secrets of the Modern Movie Poster”

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Former graphic designer for Intralink Film Graphic Design and current Google graphic designer Alex Griendling talks about designing film posters and campaigns at The Art House.

Pirates On One Hand, Privateers On The Other

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Director Lexi Alexander writes about movies and piracy and wonders if studios are more damaging. “I would argue that releasing crappy movies has a far greater effect on the film industry bottom line than piracy ever could. Similar things happen when a hyped TV show bombs or an anticipated game is a letdown. Companies don’t […]

RIP, Massimo Vignelli

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Designer Massimo Vignelli has died. Fast Company Design, The Smithsonian Magazine and The New York Times have obituaries. The Verge shares a gallery of his work from the New York subway system map to Bloomingdale’s bags to American Airlines’ logo. Here Vignelli talks about design and his career.

“The LEGO Movie: Further Evidence of Will Ferrell’s Subversive Genius”

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“To be fair, I have no idea whether [Will Ferrell] had input into the script of The Lego Movie or not. But the mere fact that he was cast as the movie’s villain should have been a giveaway as to its ideology. For more than a decade now, Ferrell’s starred in big, dumb films of surprising political […]

Operation Scraping Netflix’s Data

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“This database probing told me three things: 1) Netflix had an absurdly large number of genres, an order of magnitude or two more than I had thought, 2) it was organized in a way that I didn’t understand, and 3) there was no way I could go through all those genres by hand. But I […]

“Why Marketers Fear Female Geeks”

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At How Not To Suck At Game Design, Anjin writes about marketing, cycles of exclusion and what to do about it: “Yes, excluding people based on demographic data makes sense to a lot of people in marketing. It’s considered a best practice and it actually is a pretty reliable way of increasing profit margins. And […]

“Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm”

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At NPR’s Monkeysee blog, Linda Holmes writes about enthusiasm, the outloud internet, broadcast television, premium cable, the Man and many things worth thinking about. “[T]here is a better way forward. Fall in love with things. Try things; dislike some of them. Love people who love things you can’t imagine loving. Be thirsty and brave. Accept […]

Blurbery

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Ursula Le Guin talks about blurbs: “The trouble is, these days, that any moderately successful author who ever blurbed a book is at this very moment being approached by other authors and probably some editors — and not two or three of them a month, the way it was ten years ago, but many, many, […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At the New Republic, B. D. McClay writes about Shirley Jackson and a new collection containing previously unpublished stories and essays by Jackson. “Let Me Tell You, on the other hand, is for the already-converted fan, who will be delighted to read so many new stories and essays. The greatest attraction is the 15 essays, which touch on subjects as diverse as the travails of being married to a book critic (‘book reviewing is just nothing for a healthy young girl to be married to’), Samuel Richardson (‘no small action is consummated in less than ten pages’), poltergeist-bearing postcards (‘I think it is simply too much for any one house to have poltergeists and children’), and clowns.”

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    At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Carol writes about 12 books that vary in reputability and their harrowing nature. They include books by Shirley Jackson, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Herman Melville.

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    Anne Billson has posted a 1985 interview she did with director George Miller (the Mad Max films). Miller talks about many things including Aunty Entity’s probable past as a hero and Max as, in Mel Gibson’s words, “a closet human being.” (Thanks, Matt!)

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    At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic die-offs before, as recently as the previous winter in California and in regular bouts with a deadly bug called the varroa mite since the 1980s. But those die-offs would at least produce bodies pathologists could study. Here, the bees had just disappeared. In the U.K., they called it Mary Celeste syndrome, after the merchant ship discovered off the Azores in 1872 with not a single passenger aboard. The bees hadn’t even scrawled CROATOAN in honey on the door on their way out of the hive.”

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    Andrew Nette has a pair of interesting pieces on pulp you might be interested in. First, he writes about “the New Pulp” and a bit about Fifty Shades of Gray in “Fifty Shades of Pulp.” Then he writes about pulp and literacy and furthering social advancement in “Pulp and Circumstance.”  “Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.”

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    The Projection Booth interviews actor Ed Asner.

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