The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

Becoming a Cipher to Oneself

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At Jim C. Hines’ blog, writer Micha Trota writes about what it means when she says, “I don’t see race.” “It means that because I learned to see no difference between ‘white’ and ‘color,’ I have white-washed my own sense of self. It means that I know more about what it is to be a […]

Karel Zeman Galleries

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The Gutter’s Own Keith has posted galleries of charming and wondrous images from Czech animator Karel Zeman’s films: Cesta do Praveku / Journey to the Beginning of Time;  Vynalez Zkazy / The Fabulous World of Jules Verne; and  Baron Prasil / The Fabulous World of Baron Munchausen; Ukradená vzducholod / The Stolen Airship; and,  Na […]

Retrospective: Vive Le Gutter!

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The Cultural Gutter turned ten in May, 2013 and we didn’t make much of a fuss about it. But ten years ago this week, Jim Munroe posted the manifesto that’s guided The Cultural Gutter, even as each subsequent editor has joined the Gutter and added their take on our mission. We thought this would be […]

RIP, Arthur Rankin, Jr.

Animator, director and producer Arthur Rankin, Jr. has died. Rankin is probably best known for his Rankin/Bass studio’s holiday television specials such as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and Mad Monster Party. He also produced and directed The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit (1977), The Return Of The King (1980), The […]

Frozen: Jane Austen Meets The Snow Queen

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My mom raised me with three things: Feminism; “You don’t have to like your sister, but you can’t hit her”; and a dislike of Disney. Writing them down now, I realize that all three are more applicable to Frozen, than I thought when I decided I should state my bias. I respect Disney’s progress in […]

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. […]

Maybe we’ll buy a boat

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In the house I grew up in, at the front of the garage, there was a pair of boat supports on the wall. No boat, just the two long arms sticking out at roughly skull level so you had to manoeuver awkwardly underneath them to reach the cars. My father built them out of 2x4s […]

RIP, Run Run Shaw

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Film and television producer Run Run Shaw has died. Sir Run Run founded Shaw Brothers with his brother, Run Me Shaw. They produced hundreds of films in all genres, but were best known for their revolutionary kung fu and wuxia movies. Shaw also produced myriad television programs for TVB. The South China Morning Post remembers […]

“What Monkeys Eat: A Few Thoughts about Pop Culture Writing”

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Linda Holmes shares some thoughts about writing about pop culture: “Sometimes funny stories are just funny stories, and funny writing about silly things is just funny writing about silly things. But that’s not the whole story.”

“Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm”

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At NPR’s Monkeysee blog, Linda Holmes writes about enthusiasm, the outloud internet, broadcast television, premium cable, the Man and many things worth thinking about. “[T]here is a better way forward. Fall in love with things. Try things; dislike some of them. Love people who love things you can’t imagine loving. Be thirsty and brave. Accept […]

“A Day In The Life Of The Dopeass Tea Wizard”

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“In the land of plenty: that is where The Dopeass Tea Wizard lives. Among bushels of green leaves, he homesteads in a hut that is best described as Burning Man chic. He loves his fucking kettle.” More here. (Thanks, Beth!)

Fantasy Cartography

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Jonathan Roberts mapped Westeros for The Land of Ice And Fire, see his fantasy maps and read an interview with him via The AV Club.

The Dark Crystal’s First Cut

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The AV Club shares a recreation of the original version of Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s The Dark Crystal.

Nancy Collins interviews Devon Grayson and Gail Simone

Nancy Collins interviews Devon Grayson and Gail Simone about Red Sonja, fantasy, gaming and Dynamite’s upcoming, Legends of Red Sonja.

“Judge John Hodgman: Reckless Endungeonment”

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Judge John Hodgman rules in a conflict between friends and fellow Dresden Files roleplaying game afficionados. “Dan’s become bored with what he sees as ‘safe’ gameplay recently and decided to shake it up, taking more risks with his character. Ryan says this type of play doesn’t fit with their style and is ruining everyone’s fun. […]

Mad Science Throwdown: Princess Bubblegum vs Frankenstein

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“No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and […]

“Zero Charisma, The Guild and the Odd Sensation of Nerd Envy”

Peter Gutiérrez has written a fascinating and thoughtful response to the film Zero Charisma and the webseries, The Guild.

The Stephen King Universe

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This week, Science Fiction Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star. Screen Editor alex MacFadyen will return next month. You can easily glance off the top of any book by Stephen King–get a few frights and move on. But there’s a hidden world beneath almost all of his books, and not only is […]

A History of Codex Seraphinianus

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Abe Books has a look inside Codex Seraphinianus, as well as some of its publication history. Dangerous Minds interviews publisher, Charles Miers.

Demanding Better Representation

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At XOJane, Chaka Cumberbath demands better representation for Black girl nerds in geek culture: “We can be spunky. We can be vivacious. We can be complicated and beautiful and emotional and flawed and we might be all of those things or none of those things at all, but we deserve to be written. We deserve […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Jon Peterson discusses how Gary Gygax lost control of Dungeons & Dragons. “What did Gygax see, in that moment? He saw enough shares in play that he stood to lose control of TSR, a company he had founded and transformed into a global brand. But he surely also saw something even more dear at stake: that he might lose control of Dungeons & Dragons.”

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    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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