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

“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…”

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.

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.”

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.

“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.

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.

“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.

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).

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).

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’ […]

The History of the Eye Close-Up

At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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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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