The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

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

To Say Nothing of the Hitman: Romance and Sci-fi meet the comedy of errors

Every April the Gutter switches things up. This month Screen Editor alex writes about Romance. I admit to being a romantic, but I don’t have much experience with romance novels. Like most teenagers, I had a knack for finding the dirty bits in any likely looking books I could find on the shelf, and at […]

The Power of Paper!

Artist Yusuke Murata displays the awesome power of paper in an amazing comic about an artist avoiding his work.  (Thanks, Andrew!)

The Kids Are All Right

Despite my whinging last month, I do in fact both read and love a lot of young adult Romance.  I  may not be fond of the ‘Supernatural Boyfriend of the Week’ subgenre (and no, Stephanie Meyer did not invent it; it’s been out there for decades), but that still leaves me with a large field […]

Congratulations Bruce Leung Siu-Leung!

Fantasia Film Festival honored Bruce Leung Siu-Leung with their Legendary Kung Fu Star Award. He started his career as one of many Bruce Lee imitators before moving on working as an actor and action choreographer in films and television throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  In the 2004, Leung returned as the Beast in Kung Fu […]

Whine. And Cheese.

Shakespeare claims it’s April, psychologists say it’s December.  But I think July is the cruellest month.  It’s hot; it’s grossly humid; I never manage to swing a proper holiday.  This year I have the added irritant of lacking air-conditioning both at home and at work.  Argh.

Heroine Addict

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Apparently, once I get started on archetypes, I can’t stop. So having touched on the archtypes found in stories and in heroes, I’m going to have to complete the trifecta. Theories about the nature of the modern Romance heroine are legion. She’s a placeholder. She’s an expression of modern femininity. She’s an aspect of human […]

Holding Out For a Hero

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I recently read a column by Ilona Andrews about heroes, which A) though light-hearted was also informative, and B) I immediately decided to steal use as a springboard for an article of my own.< There’s a lot of discussion as to the role of the hero in modern Romance. Is he a placeholder for the […]

Doing it Wrong on the Right Side of Town

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Once a year this column turns cranky. Lucky you: today’s that day! The Romance genre sells a lot of books. It dominates the paperback trade. When it comes to mass markets, Romance outsells every other genre and subject combined. It stands to reason, then, that it would likely also contain more bad books than any […]

More Real Fight: Raging Phoenix starring Jija Yanin

Jija kicks organ-stealing gangster ass with hip  hop and drunken Muay Thai. It’s Raging Phoenix with Jija Yanin, B-Boys Thai, Kazu and champion bodybuilder Roongtawan. (via Wise Kwai)

These Are A Few Of My Least Favourite Things

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Every now and again, I like to pause in my appreciation of the romance genre and take the opportunity to bitch about it instead. I know it’s not perfect. As the largest genre in the world, it also contains the largest collection of bad books. I don’t review books I think are terrible – mostly […]

Love, Pain, and the Whole Damn Thing

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Oprah’s Book Club had a massive impact on the literary landscape, and I mean that in a good, non-dinosaur-killing way. The huge surge in the trade paperback market owes much to Oprah. I was working for Chapters when it went nova, and the number of times we were asked for “y’ know, that book Oprah […]

Now vs. Then

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Generally speaking, Romances are divided into two broad groups: contemporary and historical. Those distinctions are somewhat fluid. For instance, although it used to refer to anything set after  1900, ‘contemporary’ now encompasses anything set after World War II. ‘Historical’, meanwhile, covers everything else.

The Last Thakur

It’s a good time to like Westerns, especially Asian Westerns, with good-looking movies like, The Last Thakur.

All I Want For Christmas Is A Few Good Books

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In the spirit of the season, here are ten, in alphabetical order by author.

  • The Book!

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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    Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”

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    Some interesting thoughts on South Korean cinema with “A Dish Best Served Bloody: Revenge In South Korean Cinema” and this Cannes program piece on Arirang (1926) and the history of Korean film.

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    Al-Jazeera America profiles John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a documentary about Cambodian rock’n'roll and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge. “Until 1975, music thrived in Phnom Penh, with clubs full night after night, crowds gathering in the streets around transistor radios to hear the latest releases, and the biggest stars being feted by the king. Enter the Khmer Rouge, communism and the war on intellectuals. Between 1975 and 1979, about 2 million Cambodians, roughly a third of the population, were rounded up and either were killed or died of starvation. Artists were particularly disliked by the Khmer Rouge, which saw creativity as decadence: Almost all of the biggest names perished during that era.”

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    Architecture Daily has an excerpt from City of Darkness detailing the development of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. “By the 1970s, the City had filled out to its maximised form, with buildings of up to 14 storeys in height, and virtually no ground level daylight penetration save at its centre. Its density was estimated to have reached a mere 7 square feet per person. The yamen area had somehow remained an exception to the vertical development, leased to a missionary society in 1949 for use as an almshouse and old people’s home. Eventually, it defined the sole substantial void within the Walled City, with visible sky above it.”

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