The Cultural Gutter

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

“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 […]

Comics about Comics

Comic Book Attic talks about comics about comics, with plenty of pages from Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s The Newsboy Legion for your enjoyment.

RIP, Deanna Durbin

Actress and singer Deanna Durbin has died. The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Audie Cornish and Melissa Block remember Durbin on NPR.  Here Deanna Durbin sings, “Good-Bye” in Because Of  Him (1946)

Superman and Transcending Reality

“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true.” Writer Greg Rucka writes more about Superman and […]

Bruce Lee is Kid Cheung

Watch 10-year-old Bruce Lee in his first film role, The Kid (1950).

RIP, Annette Funicello

Actress and singer Annette Funicello has died. The New York Times has an obituary and The Los Angeles Times has an appreciation. NPR’s Fresh Air has reposted a 1994 interview with Funicello. Here she sings, “Pineapple Princess.”

Following How Your Dreams Make You Want To Be

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I’m going to talk a bit about Adventure Time, but I want to tell a story first. When my nephew was a toddler, he liked to play princesses with his mother and me. Usually, we were all beautiful princesses. Once, to show his displeasure, his mother was a “Bad Princess,” which actually was kind of […]

“Persepolis is aimed in part at kids”

“[Persepolis is] aimed in part at kids–not despite the fact that it includes charged material, but because it does. Satrapi shows herself, as a child and then as a young woman, dealing with violence, with sexuality–with moving away from her parents, and failing, and trying again….But even if their exact experiences don’t map onto hers, […]

Stepping Back with The Great And Powerful Oz

“With such a rich tapestry on and off the Oz page, it’s depressing that 2013 finds our return to Oz burdened with a reluctant hero (the dominant kind in the 21st century), and not one of Baum’s plucky young heroines. In a bitter reversal of Baum’s stories, ‘Great and Powerful’ casts the women as the […]

“On One Single Panel in Batman, Inc. #8”

At Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, Colin writes on the murder of Robin, Damian Wayne, as it is depicted in a single panel. “Why does this scene exist? It exists to make entertainment out of a boy’s last, baleful moments. Beyond that, it has no purpose at all. If an objection to that needs […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The New Yorker has a profile of author Gene Wolfe. “His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.”

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    Remezcla has a gallery of Lourdes Grobet’s portraits of luchadores with their families and a bit of an interview with her. (Yes, the luchadores are in their masks and often wearing suits or casual wear, which is the best thing). (Thanks, Matt!) “Father and warrior, the masked wrestler is the perfect metaphor for the duality that Grobet’s photography wants to depict. Her work is resonant because she doesn’t try to demolish the myths that envelop lucha libre – she simply nurtures and expands them in an offbeat way.”

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    At Autostraddle, Heather Hogan has “a Recap of Jem and the Holograms’ Truly Outrageous Lesbianism.” (Thanks, Sara Century!) “If you are a woman over the age of 30, I have some information that is going to send you cartwheeling back to 1987 to high five your young self and shout “We knew it! We knew it!” right in your own tiny gay face: Stormer and Kimber from Jem are truly, outrageously, canonically queer….This is good news. Great news. But it’s not really news news. Of course Stormer and Kimber are gay. They’ve been in love since 1987!”

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    “Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been binge-watching one of the most innovative series on television. Like many of the gems of the current TV renaissance, it features extended narratives with complex plots, intricate backstories, and layered characters. Its approach to storytelling is remarkably adventurous, shattering television, and even cinematic conventions.

     I’m speaking, of course, of General Hospital.” Noah Berlatsky writes about the influence of soap operas on “prestige television” at Quartz. (And make sure to click through to Akash Nikolas’ “Yes, Mad Men is a Soap Opera and that Shouldn’t be an Insult”).
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    Here’s the first Gutterthon 2015 Geektastic Song–“Fortune Cookie” by Chica Non Grata. Chica Non Grata kindly offered to write 3 songs based on topics offered by 3 lucky backers. So listen up and get down. “A song about pop-up ads and how creepy they are and how they seem to be reading your mind and maybe there is actually an artificial intelligence who is stalking you.”

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    Friend of the Gutter, Nitrate Diva writes about 13 women who helped shape cinema. “Hollywood is, in many ways, a more male-dominated environment today than it was 90 or so years ago. Scary, huh?

    In order to perpetuate a culture where more women make movies now, we need to recognize the women who made movies in the medium’s formative years. Let’s take our editing shears and snip the ‘boys only’ myth right out. It belongs on the cutting room floor.”

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