The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

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

The Hateful Tomb of Horrors

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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.” […]

“The truth about the dungeon master who disappeared in the steam tunnels”

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Jason Louv writes about James Dallas Egbert III, who seemed to have disappeared in Michigan State University’s steam tunnels in 1979 and who became the focus of a panic about Dungeons & Dragons. “When Egbert vanished, his parents hired William Dear, a private detective, to locate him. Dear theorized that it was Egbert’s involvement in […]

Let’s not realize your dreams…

28 days later bad dream

For our anniversary, my wife and I got a really nice message from my family wishing us good things, including that we would “realize our dreams”. When I’d finished responding, I looked over at her and noticed she had a strange expression on her face. You might think that after I woke up to find […]

Writing Comics

Comics writer Si Spurrier shares his process at Forbidden Planet’s blog. “Every writer tackles it differently, of course. There’s no rule book, no Right Way. Still: you’d be amazed at how often the broad strokes match up. Modes of preparation, arbitrary routines, recipes for procrastination…” Like this:Like Loading…

Three Readings from the World Fantasy Convention

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Videos of writers Alaya Dawn Johnson, Andy Duncan and Kelly Link reading from their work at the World Fantasy Convention. Like this:Like Loading…

Writers’ “Lowbrow” Influences

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Writers share their “lowbrow” and gutter influences at Electric Lit: “I love Melville but Melville never wrote me a Choose Your Own Adventure book. And I needed that experience first if I was ever going to get to Melville.” Like this:Like Loading…

Geeky Bounty at the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has archived Starlog, Heavy Metal and they have a collection of Warren Publishing magazines like Blazing Combat, Vampirella, Eerie and Teenage Love Stories. Like this:Like Loading…

“Not A Manifesto”

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At Antipope, Charles Stross shares why he’s moving from writing science fiction to urban fantasy: “Over the past few years I’ve found myself reading less and less far-future SF and more and more urban fantasy. If you view it through the lens of the future we’re living in rather than the future we expected in […]

“Real Human Beings: The Shadow of Mordor, Watch Dogs and the New NPC

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At Paste Magazine, Austin Walker writes about non-player characters, failure, autonomy, The Shadow of Morder and Watch Dogs: “And here, then, is the largest problem with these systems as they stand. No matter how many songs the Orcs of Mordor sing, no matter the desperation of [Watch Dogs‘] out-of-work Chicagoan teacher, all I can do […]

Fiction at Pornokitsch

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Have you been reading the fiction at Pornokitsch? You should. It’s pretty swell. Like this:Like Loading…

Photography’s Antichrist

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At The Guardian, Chris Campion writes about American photographer William Mortensen, who specialized in the eerie, the grotesque, the fantastic and the macabre. “In his own writings, Mortensen invoked Hogarth, Beardsley, Daumier and Goya as his forebears. But he also had much in common – in technique, style and approach – with European outlier artists […]

“Rookie Mistakes”

Tim Reis shares ten things he learned from producing his first independent feature The Demon’s Rook. “Making an independent feature film is hard. Making an independent feature film with no money is especially hard. Making an independent feature film with no money, no actors, and a first-time director and crew is almost impossible. It is […]

“Beauty Is The Beast”

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At Bookview Cafe, Sherwood Smith reviews Rosmund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty and goes on to discuss the history and the many variations on the story of “The Beauty and the Beast.” “At my age, I find that the more interesting versions of the tale are not just about heroine versus sexy-but-dangerous hero/villain. Though that can be […]

“Leave No Black Plume As A Token: Tracing Poe’s Raven”

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At Atlas Obscura, J.W. Ocker writes about Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in monuments, memorials, artifacts and ephemera. “I spent more than a year visiting memorials, mementos, monuments, and more dedicated or connected to Edgar Allan Poe in the places he lived and visited. That meant traveling from Massachusetts all the way down to an […]

“A Crescent Moon Kingdoms Micro Mini-Guide”

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Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet. Like this:Like Loading…

“Women As Background Decoration: Part 2″

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In  Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, “Women As Background Decoration: Part 2,” Anita Sarkeesian discusses “how sexualized female bodies often occupy a dual role as both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence.” It is quite graphic in terms of violence and sexual violence. Like this:Like Loading…

Line Up for the TIFF 2014 Vanguard Program

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Here are the films playing the Vanguard program at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: Spring; Luna; Hyena; Goodnight, Mommy / Ich Seh, Ich Seh; Alleluia; The Duke Of Burgundy; Over Your Dead Body; Shrew’s Nest; They Have Escaped; Waste Land; The World of Kanako; and The Voices. (Trailers added as they become available). Like […]

RIP, Liz Holzman

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Animator, writer, director and producer Liz Holzman has died. Holzman worked on Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain, DuckTales, Smurfs, Muppet Babies and Darkwing Duck among other television series and films. The Hollywood Reporter, Animation Magazine and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. Animation Insider has an interview with Holzman. Here is a gallery of Holzman’s […]

Elves of Color

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Cleopatra’s Weave draws some amazing Elves of color (and David J. Prokopetz shares a story trying to get more racial representation in a fantasy illustration project). Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Menahem Golan

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Producer and director Menahem Golan has died. Golan produced (and sometimes wrote and directed) many, many films including: The Delta Force (1986), Death Wish (1974), The Apple (1980), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Missing In Action (1984), Invasion U.S.A. (1985), American Ninja (1985), Lifeforce (1985), Cobra (1986), Masters of the Universe (1987) Bloodsport (1988), Breakin’ […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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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    Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (2005).  The Japan Times, The South China Morning Post and The AV Club have obituaries. Japan Subculture has an interview with Takakura. Here Takakura sings the theme to Abhashiri Prison (1965)

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