The Cultural Gutter

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

Summer Fun Time Reading ’13

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It’s hot and the air already feels like unset Jell-O, but you still have some time to prepare for summer, because all the list-happy magazines and websites tell me, summer must be prepared for. Dig out your seersucker suit! Bob your hair! Find that most fashionable bathing suit–might I suggest a kicky Twenties number? You’ll […]

“‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”

“It’s easier to tell the same stories everyone else does. There’s no particular shame in it. It’s just that it’s lazy, which is just about the worst possible thing a spec fic writer can be. Oh, and it’s not true.” Kameron Hurley writes about lazy writing, cannibal llamas, female soldiers, and women here. (Thanks, James!)

“Enter A Monster”

The Atlantic profiles Spectral Motion, creators of monsters, “effects, and other mechanical grotesqueries that have since become household nightmares, if not names.”

Neverwinter Diary: Tales from the Sword Coast

Rock Paper Shotgun‘s John Walker has been playing Neverwinter, and he’s been playing with other people–and he’s formed a RPS guild. “And for the first time in an online game, I don’t feel like the interfering hanger-onner, muddling my way through with the people who know what they’re doing. I mean – that absolutely still […]

RIP, Ray Harryhausen

Special effects master, Ray Harryhausen has died. Ray Bradbury pays tribute to Harryhausen.  All of Harryhausen’s creatures in 4 and a half minutes. Harryhausen talks about King Kong, Willis O’Brien, George Pal and his own career in 1991. John Landis interviews Harryhausen for the Bradford Animation Festival 2010. TCM remembers Harryhausen. And Leslie Hardcastle interviews […]

The State of the RPG Union

At Functional Nerds, J.T. Evans discusses Open Game Licensing, Paizo the Old School Renaissance and the future of Dungeons & Dragons. “’D&D Next’ might very well be ‘D&D Last.’”

Superman and Transcending Reality

“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true.” Writer Greg Rucka writes more about Superman and […]

“Where Have All The Midnight Movies Gone?”

Midnight Madness Programmer and Gutter Friend, Colin Geddes, is interviewed (along with many others) about the history of midnight movies from El Topo and Eraserhead till now.

Anime in 1987

“1987 was a remarkable year for manga adaptations. Not remarkable in volume—manga adaptations were nothing special in themselves—but for the commonalities that emerged. This year, we would find anime reaching for a measure of subtlety.” More at The Golden Ani-Versary of Anime.

The Dragonlance Chronicles: Innovative, Ubiquitous and Terribly-Written

At Pornokitsch, Jared takes a look at The Dragonlance Chronicles’ influence on contemporary fantasy: “[C]ool or not, Dragonlance has done more than almost any other post-Tolkien property in influencing fantasy. Its narrative and conceptual tropes can be found in every nook and cranny of the genre, and much of the modern low fantasy resurgence can be traced […]

The Sensationalism of Trip To The Moon

“As early as 1929 Kodak identified the potential for colour to affect the emotions. Whilst Kodak developed Sonochrome tints like Rose Doree to ‘quicken the respiration’ and Peachblow for ‘brief, joyous moments’, twenty years before, Méliès applied translucent aniline dyes to create spectacle and to provoke sensation in nascent cinema.” Wendy Haslem writes on the […]

Following How Your Dreams Make You Want To Be

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I’m going to talk a bit about Adventure Time, but I want to tell a story first. When my nephew was a toddler, he liked to play princesses with his mother and me. Usually, we were all beautiful princesses. Once, to show his displeasure, his mother was a “Bad Princess,” which actually was kind of […]

Rereading The Folding Knife

Pornokitsch‘s Jared Shurin is rereading K. J. Parker’s The Folding Knife for Tor.com. “[Y]ou can blitz through this book at face value and it is a hoot. But, as noted above, the fun is in the how. There are a hundred little hints and tricks and repetitions and nods and winks and nudges within The […]

Adventure Time Songs

So many Adventure Time songs gathered in one place!

“The Rape of James Bond”

Sophia McDougall writes about “sexual assault and ‘Realism’ in popular culture.” (via @Pornokitsch)

A Conversation with Kieron Gillen

The first of Colin Smith’s two-part interview with Kieron Gillen, the writer of comics such as Phonogram, Journey Into Mystery and the new Young Avengers. In this part, Gillen discusses Kid Loki and Journey Into Mystery: “I resisted defining myself as a fantasy writer because fantasy tends to be iffy. I became fine with it […]

Elfquest: The Final Quest

Boing Boing is publishing Elfquest: The Final Quest, the latest Elfquest storyline. It’s an ongoing fantasy/science fiction comic by Wendy and Richard Pini that’s been going since 1978. The previous storylines are available gratis for your reading pleasure at the Elfquest official site.

“What Is Your Consensual Sex And Love Doing In My Epic Fantasy?”

In considering a discussion about realism, grittiness and “grimdark,” in fantasy, Kate Elliott asks, “How does epic fantasy–and heroic fantasy, and however you wish to define or parse the categories–do in conveying the realities of consensual sex and love?” She continues: “To my mind, we lessen the story we are telling about human experience if […]

Stepping Back with The Great And Powerful Oz

“With such a rich tapestry on and off the Oz page, it’s depressing that 2013 finds our return to Oz burdened with a reluctant hero (the dominant kind in the 21st century), and not one of Baum’s plucky young heroines. In a bitter reversal of Baum’s stories, ‘Great and Powerful’ casts the women as the […]

Twilight’s Anti-Fandom

Emma Vossen examines Twilight hate and anti-fans, writing: “People have become eager anti-fans of the series, creating an active subculture that manifests in hateful dialogue and value judgements on a seemingly arbitrary slice of a very large pop culture pie.”

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tin House has published an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness illustrated by Matt Kish, an interesting follow-up to Kish’s project, Moby-Dick In Pictures; One Drawing For Every Page. See more of Kish’s work here.

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    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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    Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”

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    Some interesting thoughts on South Korean cinema with “A Dish Best Served Bloody: Revenge In South Korean Cinema” and this Cannes program piece on Arirang (1926) and the history of Korean film.

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    Al-Jazeera America profiles John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a documentary about Cambodian rock’n’roll and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge. “Until 1975, music thrived in Phnom Penh, with clubs full night after night, crowds gathering in the streets around transistor radios to hear the latest releases, and the biggest stars being feted by the king. Enter the Khmer Rouge, communism and the war on intellectuals. Between 1975 and 1979, about 2 million Cambodians, roughly a third of the population, were rounded up and either were killed or died of starvation. Artists were particularly disliked by the Khmer Rouge, which saw creativity as decadence: Almost all of the biggest names perished during that era.”

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