The Cultural Gutter

hey, there's something shiny down there...

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

Catharsis denied: when fiery doom
is an anti-climax

lego mount doom 2

When I was about 12, my parents took me to see a stage version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings performed with life-sized puppets. As Frodo was agonizing over pitching his precious ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, Sam, exhausted from the epic journey but determined to help his beloved friend, inched […]

The Trouble with Endings, Part 2: The Re-conclusioning

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The trouble with endings, of course, is that they are really difficult to do well. I’ll try to take that warning to heart myself, since this piece will be my last for The Cultural Gutter. And what better way to wrap up a really fun time on a neat project than to look at endings! […]

What Changing An Ending Means

Becky Chambers breaks down the controversy around the ending of Mass Effect 3 in a spoiler-free, accessible and interesting article at The Mary-Sue. Like this:Like Loading…

An Outrageous Farewell

The Aquaman Shrine says good-bye to Batman: The Brave and The Bold, the cartoon in which Aquaman was the break-out star, with a look at the last episode, “Mitefall!,” and an interview with James Tucker, producer of Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Like this:Like Loading…

The Psychology of Spoilers

Science studies whether spoilers spoil. Strangely enough, they might not. Even more strangely, they might make the spoiled story more enjoyable. Like this:Like Loading…

No More Uncertain Endings

College Humor fixes ambiguous endings from The Graduate to The Sopranos to No Country for Old Men. I’d be happier if Anton Chigurh were taken out by Llewellyn Moss’ ninjitsu, though. Like this:Like Loading…

Breaking into the Business by Being Really, Really Disturbing

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Disturbing as hell, an elegantly constructed first-person plunge into the mind of a maniac, a teenager who murdered kids when he was a kid (and got away with it), and now has elaborate rituals that mostly involve killing small mammals. As a first novel, that’s one way to make a splash – The Wasp Factory […]

His Dark Ending

The anti-Narnia has a stinker of an ending

I call it a bait and switch. The first book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass, was an adventure fantasy that was fast-paced and written in an incredibly smooth style. Intrigue, danger, children in peril, armoured polar bears, witch clans at war with each other, and above all, a girl named […]

The Trouble with Endings

Hey Spielberg! Get somebody to finish the script.

I’ve noticed recently that otherwise good stories have been let down by their endings. It’s partly due to the expectations of the audience: you can imagine any kind of ending you want, but when the ending finally arrives, it’s been narrowed down to a single one of those possibilities and it might not be as […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Video of illustrator and character designer Katsuya Terada drawing and talking about his work. (via @aicnanime)

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    A 1,300-year-old Egyptian book of spells has been translated. “Among other things, the ‘Handbook of Ritual Power,’ as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat “black jaundice,” a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.”

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    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?”

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    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.”

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