The Cultural Gutter

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

Movies! Movies! Movies!

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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.

RIP, Meshach Taylor

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Actor Meshach Taylor has died. Taylor had roles in Mannequin (1987), Designing Women, Buffalo Bill, Criminal Minds, Ned’s Classified School Survival Guide, The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor and the Broadway production of Beauty And The Beast. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and NPR have obituaries. Here Wendy Williams talks with Meshach […]

Female Friendship and the Slenderman Stabbing

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“[The Slenderman Stabbing] appears to echo patterns of behavior—belief in culturally-supported fantasies, tightly-cathected bonds between young women, an intensity of connection that has occasionally led to violence—that have occurred repeatedly, in various forms, throughout history and around the world. And they happen outside the heterosexual framework we use to understand [Elliot] Rodgers’ misogynistic rampage. This crime is […]

Interview with Brandon Dillon

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Laura Hudson talks with the creator of the game Hack’n’Slash, Brandon Dillon: “Over at WIRED, I wrote about the new game Hack n’ Slash, a Legend of Zelda style game where you use your sword to hack the source code itself. It’s a really clever concept, but the game has something else that Zelda never […]

“It’s Adventure Time”

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Maria Bustillos takes an in-depth look at Adventure Time, an amazingly in-depth look bringing Roland Barthes, video clips and discussing the show with producers Pendleton Ward, Adam Muto, Kent Osborne, and Jack Pendarvis. “Adventure Time is a smash hit cartoon aimed primarily at kids age six to eleven. It’s also a deeply serious work of […]

“Out of Body”

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“As a young stay-at-home father, I gravitated toward Virago Modern Classics because they illuminated the ordinary domestic life to which I was growing accustomed, without becoming sentimental or losing sight of the broader human concerns and higher aspirations of their female characters….They couldn’t help seeing that this world of messy children and dirty floors, of […]

“Saying goodbye to a galaxy far, far away (for now)”

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At The AV Club, Sonia Saraiya bids farewell to Star Wars: The Clone Wars: “The Clone Wars is the best possible outcome of present-day Lucasfilm: a fun, engaging, and surprisingly serialized cartoon aimed at some interstitial demographic between children and adults—which, if we’re being honest, is what Star Wars always appealed to most.”

“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 […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

“Bilbo was definitely a girl”

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“[M]y daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way?” Michelle Nijhuis reads The Hobbit to her daughter and ponders the possibilities of switching characters’ gender in stories.

RIP, Lou Scheimer

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Producer Lou Scheimer has died. Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland and Norm Prescott founded Filmation in 1962 and produced cartoons including, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Star Trek, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, The Archie Show, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and the live action […]

“How Homestar Runner Changed Web Series For The Better”

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At The AV Club, Todd VanDerWerff writes about the influence of Homestar Runner: “The stuff on Homestarrunner.com was really funny, and even if the site hasn’t been updated in years, its surprisingly elaborate mythology and characters still pop up in online discussions from time to time. It also provided a blueprint for web TV going […]

“When Is A Pony Not A Pony?”

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Fellow MOSS Agents at The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast return to Equestria with a look at My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.

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. […]

Little Girls Design Amazing Superhero Costumes

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Fashionably Geek reminds everyone that “Little Girls Design Superhero Costumes Better Than Anyone.”  via @ANappyGirlNerd

Maurice Sendak, Children’s Books and Taboos

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Steven Heller writes about Maurice Sendak and treating “children like the intelligent little animals that we know they are.”

Adventure Time on NPR

NPR’s Monkey See blog shares a look at Adventure Time. “Adventure Time insists on emotional honesty.” (via @profmdwhite)

Summer Fun Time Reading ’13

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It’s hot and the air already feels like unset Jell-O, but you still have some time to prepare for summer, because all the list-happy magazines and websites tell me, summer must be prepared for. Dig out your seersucker suit! Bob your hair! Find that most fashionable bathing suit–might I suggest a kicky Twenties number? You’ll […]

“Bad Kids Jokes”

This tumblr collects many bad jokes kids have invented.

Ray Harryhausen and Me: A Life of High Adventure and Escapism

Mr. Harryhausen with his creations brought down to size.

Ray Harryhausen passed away last week. This has been noted by people more qualified than I to discuss the master of stop-motion magic—Rick Baker, Adam Savage, Todd Masters, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, and more. The superhuman talent and perseverance evident in a Harryhausen effects sequence can easily be seen in countless visual effects artists since […]

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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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