The Cultural Gutter

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

And They Call It Puppy Love

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I own several shares of a cat. It’s not a weird as it sounds. A friend with a cat travels travels a lot, so the kitty spends a fair amount of time with me. She’s spending this week with me in fact, while her owner is off swimming, running, and cycling hundreds of kilometres at a triathlon […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

“Girls Running Away From Houses”

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A pinterest gallery of book covers featuring women running away from houses. (via @lowdudgeon)

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

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I always enjoy writing a ‘Best Of’ column, and this year it’s particularly timely. Not only do I work in retail (which is category 5 insane right now) but my week also included a bicycle accident and a broken water main. Frankly, I needed some happy time. It did me good to think about and/or […]

Boxers & Saints: Finding People In History

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If, like me, you have watched countless kung fu movies, then you’ll recognize this story: a boy goes with his father and elder brother to a local village festival. An ardent fan of Peking Opera, the boy goes off by himself to watch the festival performances. Hearing some commotion, he investigates and sees his father […]

Joe Sacco’s Panorama of War

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Artist Joe Sacco talks with NPR about his latest book, The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme. It’s a 24 foot panorama of one day. “Each panel in the panorama is dense and detailed. Fresh troops march in looking eager for battle. Some soldiers eat and relax, […]

RIP, Hal Needham

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Director, stunt coordinator  and stuntman Hal Needham has died. Needham directed Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run, but he also performed and coordinated stunts in The French Connection II, Three The Hard Way, Chinatown, Our Man Flint, The War Wagon and Blazing Saddles. and in television shows such as, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, […]

The March: On Chickens, Humanity and Moral Authority

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Other more serious writers have written about Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell‘s The March, Vol 1. (Top Shelf, 2013) . They’ve written about the audacious presentation of solemn historical material in a graphic novel; John Lewis’ contribution to perfecting the Union;  The March‘s importance in relation to American History and the fiftieth […]

Soulless and The Waters of Modern Horror Writing

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At Teleport City, Keith Allison reviewins Gail Carriger’s Soulless and slowly wades into “the waters of modern horror writing”. “An entire ocean of literature that teaches young kids that weird, spooky, awkward, and different people are awesome? I can deal with that.”

The Longing And The Short Of It

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 Ah, mid-February.  That time of year in which Romance authors are hounded by the media for sound bites and wink-wink, nudge-nudge style “advice” for hackneyed articles about Valentine’s Day, most of which will appear under headlines made awkward by ham-handed double-entendres*.  I’m all for Romance writers getting some press, but the box-checking, paper-thin nature of […]

The Many Faces Of Man. Or Rather, Men.

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Alex’s excellent article last week prompted Gutter Overlord Carol to suggest we each use this month to write about masculinity in our own particular capacity. Having been by odd coincidence right in the middle of reading The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine (a fascinating look at the physical and hormonal characteristics unique to, um, the […]

Steve Coll on Zero Dark Thirty

Ghost Wars: The Secret Wars of the CIA author Steve Coll writes of Zero Dark Thirty: “Zero Dark Thirty was constructed to bring viewers to the edges of their seats, and judging by its critical reception, for many viewers it has succeeded in that respect. Its faults as journalism matter because they may well affect […]

Moral Failure, Procedural Success and Zero Dark Thirty

“Recall that Bigelow wanted to make a movie about the failure to capture bin Laden, before the whole world knew, as she puts it, that he’s dead. Consider that she has still made a movie about a failure, a moral failure, our failure, embedded in a procedural success.” Sarah Nicole Prickett has more about Kathryn […]

“Django Unchain My Heart (And Set Me Free)”

Jim Emerson ponders what he finds good and bad in Django Unchained and a lot of the good is Christoph Waltz: “Quentin Tarantino has found his actor in Christoph Waltz — someone who can speak Tarantinian fluently and still make it his own.” (via Roger Ebert)

“Tarantino Unchained”

Jelani Cobb considers Django Unchained and history at The New Yorker.  “Tarantino’s attempt to craft a hero who stands apart from the other men—black and white—of his time is not a riff on history, it’s a riff on the mythology we’ve mistaken for history. Were the film aware of that distinction, Django would be far […]

“Man the Mast-heads! Call All Mates!”

Beloved shipmates, Joe Hill has started a Moby-Dick  big read along. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is holding its annual Moby-Dick Marathon today. And the Moby-Dick Big Read Podcast is still downloading a chapter a day with such dauntless readers as Tilda Swinton and ! It’s enough to keep you from knocking off gentelmen’s hats […]

Top 10 of 2012

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It’s the end of the year; I work in retail; I have the flu.  All  of which means that for the past couple weeks I’ve been re-reading rather than reading. Mostly Eva Ibbotson, whose warmth reminds me not only that I love reading, but why.  Which makes this a good time for a retrospective list. […]

The Measure Of Success

I’ve been thinking about heroes and archetypes again (which is not actually news: story archetype is a sandbox in which I happily spend a lot of time). Feels like it’s everywhere these days.  A few weeks back I was on a panel at the World Fantasy Convention that discussed love and monsters. Alex and Carol […]

RIP, Hideji Otaki

Character actor Hideji Otaki has died. Otaki worked with directors including Akira Kurosawa, Juzo Itami, Masahiro Shinoda and Koreyoshi Kurahara in films such as Kagemusha; Minbo: The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion; A Taxing Woman; Gonza the Spearman and Black Sun. The Japan Times and The Kyodo News have brief English-language obituaries.

Nice Guys, Sewers, And Other Relics Of The Past

I’ve been on a bit of a historical binge recently: testing some new authors, re-reading old favourites.  This trip down the historical record lane is due largely to author Sherry Thomas.  More to the point, to her recent novel Ravishing the Heiress.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Monkey See, Libby Hill considers RuPaul’s Drag Race and the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Monday Night Raw. “To compare WWE’s Monday Night Raw to RuPaul’s Drag Race may seem like an easy punch line to those who dismiss both as lowbrow entertainment pitched to niche audiences. But those who indulge in both (almost assuredly a very small sliver of that particular Venn diagram) know better than to reject the notion out of hand.” (via @kalaity)

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    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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