The Cultural Gutter

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

Strange Men and Magic

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This week’s Guest Star Kate Laity writes about the television adaptation of Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Laity is an author, Medieval Studies scholar and History Witch. At Edge-Lit 4, my publisher, Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books, was on a panel about Grimdark. What is ‘grim dark?’ Well, that was the first topic. It […]

“Strange & Norrell: III–Away With The Fairies”

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John Reppion continues his series on English magic and Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Next up, “Away With The Fairies.”

“Strange & Norrell : II–On Fairies & Witchcraft”

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John Reppion continues his discussion of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at The Daily Grail, “pluck[ing] out some of the more easily disentangled fragments of folklore, magic, and the like from the book (and the show) and takes a closer look at them.” This time, he considers fairies and witchcraft.

“Strange & Norrell: The Language of Birds”

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At Daily Grail, John Reppion writes about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, English magic and the language of birds.

It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past

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I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions. The idea of a chance to reset the clock on things I keep meaning to do more consistently or successfully than I ever seem to manage is appealing, but it seems like a bit of a gimmick to me. It’s never really a clean slate because you […]

RIP, Francis Matthews

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Actor Francis Matthews has died. Matthews voiced Captain Scarlet in the Supermarionation adventure show Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-8). He also appeared in Hammer horror films The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966) and Rasputin, The Mad Monk (1966) and as the suave detective, Paul Temple in the eponymous television series. […]

RIP, Rik Mayall

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Actor and comedian Rik Mayall has died. Mayall is probably best known for his roles in The Young Ones (1982-4), Blackadder (1983-9), The New Statesman (1987-94) and Bottom (1991-5). He also starred in Drop Dead Fred (1991) and Guesthouse Paradiso (1999). The Telegraph, The Guardian and Rolling Stone have obituaries. ITV has clips and lines […]

RIP, Bob Hoskins

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Actor Bob Hoskins has died. Most sources are mentioning Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but Hoskins also appeared in Brazil, Nixon, The Long Good Friday, Pink Floyd The Wall, Unleashed, The Secret Agent and the tv show, Tales From The Crypt (“Fatal Caper”). And Hoskins was Chris Claremont’s first choice for Wolverine (via @Zemrag).  The Guardian, The […]

Black Victoriana

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A gallery of photographs of people of African descent from the Victorian era. (Via Kit Marlowe)

RIP, Kate O’Mara

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Actor Kate O’Mara has died. She performed the Rani in Doctor Who, Caress Morell in Dynasty, Mademoiselle Perrodot in The Vampire Lovers and Alys in The Horror of Frankenstein. O’Mara also had roles in Absolutely Fabulous, The Avengers, The Saint, Danger Man / Secret Agent, The Persuaders and Adam Adamant Lives!  The Guardian, Digital Spy […]

“What’s To Be Done With The Fantastic Four (Part 1)”

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Colin Smith returns to Too Busy Thinking About My Comics to ask, “What’s To Be Done With The Fantastic Four?”

Theater as Seance

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“In 1911, the famed American medium Anna Eva Fay held a public seance at the London Coliseum, inviting audience members to ask questions that she would answer by channelling the dead. Seated in the auditorium was Violet Coward, whose beloved 11-year-old son, Noël, had just begun his stage career after Violet spotted an advert in the […]

RIP, Roger Lloyd-Pack

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Actor Roger Lloyd-Pack has died. Lloyd-Pack appeared in Doctor Who; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Only Fools and Horses; The Vicar of Dibley; Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy (2011); and many other films and television shows. The BBC and The AV Club have obituaries. The BBC is collecting and sharing reader’s memories of Lloyd-Pack. […]

The Graves of Russian Mafiya Bosses

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Denis Tarasov has photographed the elaborate graves of Russian and Ukrainian organized crime bosses. They’re currently being shown at London’s Saatchi gallery. (via @jakeadelstein)

“How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground”

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‘In her excellent and morbidly fascinating book Necropolis: London and Its Dead, author Catharine Arnold describes in detail the subterranean presence of corpses found throughout the British capital. To no small extent, she makes clear, dead bodies were basically buried everywhere, to the point that, as Arnold pithily states, ‘London is one giant grave.”’ More […]

Haunted History

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Just in time for Halloween, The Gutter’s own Keith Allison explores haunted history in New York City; Louisville, KY; Centralia, PA; London, UK; and Sydney, Australia at his website, Teleport City.

RIP, Antonia Bird

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Director and producer Antonia Bird has died. Bird is probably best known for her films Ravenous (1999) and Priest (1994), but she also directed UK television series, episodes and  tv movies such as, The Village,  Cracker, MI-5, Inspector Morse and EastEnders. The BBC has an obituary. The Guardian has collected tributes to Bird. The Guardian […]

“A History of British Folk Horror”

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Spectacular Optical has an overview of British folklore in horror film and television. (Thanks, Colin!)

Teddy Girls

A gallery and some information about the British Teddy Girls of the 1950s. (Thanks, Keith!)

Jane Eyre is a Darker than People Think

“[T]he mainstreaming of Jane Eyre as a vanilla romance, or even as an exploration of a woman’s pure, uncompromising, and uncomplicated (and religious! and feminist!) integrity, says all kinds of things about our inability to speak honestly about violence and sex.” More on Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, consent, sex and submission, here. (via K.A. Laity)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Pitchfork, Barry Walters writes about Grace Jones. “One night in 1993, I finally got my chance to see Jones perform at a local gay nightclub and took my friend Brian, whose partner Mark was too sick to join us….She didn’t back away from the elephant in the room: She dedicated one song to artist and AIDS casualty Keith Haring, who had used her body for a canvas on the occasion of her legendary 1985 Paradise Garage performance. That night’s show was remarkable for the simple fact that Jones just kept on going, granting one encore request after another, waiting patiently while the sound man scoured backing tapes to find the fans’ offbeat choices. When Jones got to such minor numbers as ‘Crush,’ it became clear that she didn’t want to leave. She was giving as much of herself as she could to the beleaguered troops, knowing full well that many wouldn’t live long enough to see her again.”

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    At Pornokitsch, The Gutter’s own dame with a shady past Carol writes about five films noir.  “Do you want to watch some film noir? I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant.”

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    At The Alcohol Professor, The Gutter’s own Keith writes about Billie Holiday in a fantastic two-part piece. Part one traces “the history of Billie Holiday and NYC nightlife through the Harlem Renaissance to Café Society.” Part two covers “Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and the jazz scene in New York City clubs of a bygone era.”

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    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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