The Cultural Gutter

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

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!) Like this:Like Loading…

“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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

“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, […]

Pop Culture Propaganda

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Peter Gutiérrez looks at the pop culture propaganda of Ender’s Game, Pacific Rim and G.I. Joe marketing campaigns. “The interesting, if obvious, thing about these marketing posters is that they seem to rely on the viewer’s familiarity with propaganda. Does that mean that the audience for blockbuster movies these days is sufficiently “media literate” that […]

“The Science of Black Nerds”

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Blerdology’s Kat and Amanda talk to Vibe about “The Science of Black Nerds.” “African Americans present a unique set of perspectives and problems that the larger tech world could never completely and accurately tackle without us. Now, we hack to ask how can we get more African Americans to realize the power and influence they […]

Paul Jenkins talks about DC, Marvel, and Boom!

Paul Jenkins explains why he’s leaving DC and Marvel in an open letter at CBR. Bleeding Cool interviews Jenkins about what’s wrong at DC and Marvel and what’s right at Boom! Studios. (Thanks, Mark!) Like this:Like Loading…

Karen Berger and Vertigo

The New York Times profiles Karen Berger, former editor of DC’s Vertigo comics imprint. “When the Vertigo imprint was introduced in 1993, it was a way for writers and illustrators to retain ownership of their work and be free of the restraints that governed superhero stories.” Like this:Like Loading…

Manos: The Hands of Felt

Support Manos The Hands of Felt–The Master will be pleased. Like this:Like Loading…

“The Bullying of Chatelaine Harris and the Wisdom of Neil Gaiman”

“So Charlaine Harris’ last Southern Vampires book, Dead Ever After, is out May 7.  Except it’s kind of out now, which is why the interwebs are exploding.  Some random asshat got their claws on an early copy, which is sneaky enough, but then posted the ending online, which is borderline sociopathic.” Mary Janice Davidson has […]

The Algorithm of Success

The New York Times has a piece on the statistical quest for a sure thing box office hit. Meanwhile, The AV Club pans Netflix’s original series, very much grounded in algorithms, Hemlock Grove: “The genius of Netflix’s computer-programmed, demographic targeting approach to TV is that it doesn’t need to create amazing, or challenging, or even […]

Protesting CISPA

ZDNet’s Violet Blue offers ways you can join the Apr. 22 protest against The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. At The Atlantic, Rebecca Greenfield notes that CISPA has “few friends in the Senate” but has the support of “major tech companies”: “Unlike SOPA which was widely condemned in the tech community,  CISPA has the […]

A Brut Production

Movie Morlocks ‘ R. Emmet Sweeney explores the filmmaking history of Fabergé fragrance CEO, George Barrie: “Barrie produced his films under a ‘Brut Productions’ shingle, while Brut Records put out albums by comedian Robert Klein and Brut Television co-produced the popular spy thriller series The Protectors starring Robert Vaughn. There was even a Brut Publishing […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Zack and Steve go through and review Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module S-1: The Tomb Of Horrors at WTF, D&D?!…so you don’t have to.

    “Steve: Most of the opening paragraph is a warning about difficulty. ‘You’ll never find the demi-lich’s secret chamber’ and the tomb is fraught with “terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections.” It’s telling you not to play the adventure.

    Zack: Not just in that part. In the DM’s notes section at the start, Gygax explicitly warns Dungeon Masters that if your players enjoy killing monsters they will be unhappy with the adventure.

    Steve: ‘This module is only for parties that enjoy dying immediately and repeatedly.’ Oh, man, we’re not going to play though this thing are we?”

    ~

    Dr. Nerdlove takes a brief break from helping the nerd get the girl to address something that’s been bugging him. “Pardon me while I go off on a bit of a media criticism/ rant here. So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is screen death; every time she’s around, everything comes to a screeching halt.

    The problem is: it’s not her fault, it’s the writers. Rather like Laurel Lance in the first two seasons of Arrow, she has Lois Lane syndrome. Her (like Laurel and Lois) entire character arc is based around being ignorant of events that literally everyone else in her life is aware of.”

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    Get your own copy of the Satanic Temple’s The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities!

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    At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”

    ~

    Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (2005).  The Japan Times, The South China Morning Post and The AV Club have obituaries. Japan Subculture has an interview with Takakura. Here Takakura sings the theme to Abhashiri Prison (1965)

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    Producer, writer and director Glen A. Larson has died. Larson was responsible for creating tv series such as Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Quincy M.E., The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and Buck Rogers In The 25Th Century, about which the Gutter’s own Keith wrote here. The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and The AV Club have obituaries. Watch Larson’s interview from 2010 at “Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition”.

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