The Cultural Gutter

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

Forget the consequences, just get me
a sandwich

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Over the past several months I’ve been working my way through all of Pendleton Ward‘s Adventure Time, in part because it comes in 11 minute segments that are easy to squeeze into tiny cracks of spare time, but mostly because it’s awesome. There are lots of things to love about it – the humor, the weirdness, the […]

Strong Female Character

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A little while ago, a friend told me that I was a “strong woman.” It was a compliment and I took it as one. Part of me knows what he means, that I keep trying, that I pick myself up as best I can after things go to hell, that I try to keep moving. […]

The Empire of Crime: Mabuse vs. Wertham vs. Marston

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When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.” –The Testament of Dr. Mabuse “[W]hatever factors come into play in the cases that we have studied, the conclusion is inescapable […]

Maurice Sendak and the Strange Wild Things of My Childhood

“The magic of childhood is the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don’t see.” “I’m just clearing the decks for a simple death. You’re done with your work. You’re done with your life. And your life was your work.” –Maurice Sendak, TateShots: Maurice Sendak and Tell Them Anything […]

RIP, Maurice Sendak

Illustrator and author Maurice Sendak has died.  There are obituaries in The New York Times, The Guardian. The Onion has an obituary as well as reader responses that Sendak would likely appreciate. NPR’s Fresh Air devotes an entire program to Terry Gross’ interviews with Sendak, reflecting their unique relationship. Check through our archives for some […]

On the value of frightening small children

I remember seeing Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in the theatre, and I think it holds the record, in my experience, for the fastest time in making a small child cry. I have no idea what movie the child’s parents thought they were taking her to, but I don’t blame her for deciding immediately that she […]

Interview with Maurice Sendak

Listen to Fresh Air‘s interview with Maurice Sendak about his secret stash of work, death, this time that is for him and him alone and his favorite lines in his new book, Bumble-ardy

Just In Time

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“and somehow / giving to all her questions just one answer: / In you, who were a child once—in you.” –”Die Erwachsene / The Grown Up,” Rainer Maria Rilke trans. by Stephen Mitchell. Please don’t let Rilke scare you off. Jim McCann and Janet Lee’s Return of the Dapper Men (Archaia, 2010) is a thoroughly […]

Betty Draper Is Not Going To Be Saved

Tiger Beatdown has a poignant post about Betty Draper in Mad Men: “We wanted Betty to read The Feminine Mystique and get her mind blown and rise above; or, we wanted her to stay a victim, so we could relate to her better, or at least keep feeling sorry for her. But sometimes, people just […]

Tumbling for Boy George in Baghdad

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This month the Cultural Gutter features the first of two articles by Katarina Gligorijevic about growing up with Western pop culture in Baghdad and Belgrade. My first time setting foot on North American soil was in 1989, when my family arrived in Toronto. It has remained my home ever since, and I credit the ease […]

What Does the Protagonist Want?

What do the Venture Bros. want? Todd Alcott asks and has some interesting answers.

LEGO Harry Potter Trailer

Gamers and Harry Potter fans rejoice! It’s the LEGO Harry Potter trailer! (thanks, Dan!)

MAURICE SENDAK! I’M WITH YOU IN ROCKLAND

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Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is not, thank god, a film about growing up.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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