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

RIP, Al Goldstein

Publisher of Screw magazine and pornography and free speech advocate Al Goldstein has died. The Guardian, The Village Voice, The New York Times and The Miami Herald have obituaries. And here’s a blog dedicated to the appreciation of Screw magazine’s cover art (NSFW & warning: possible triggers).

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

inquiry

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 […]

“Judge John Hodgman: Reckless Endungeonment”

GetDownGutter_Thumb

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. […]

“Fact and Fiction in Criminal Case File 002″

Andrew Nette writes about the trial and death of Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary.

Chester Himes on the BBC

Listen to BBC Radio 4’s production of Chester Himes’ crime classic, Cotton Comes to Harlem. Only available for a short time. (Thanks, Andrew Nette)

“Protest Style”

HAPS puts PSY’s protest style in context.

To Kill A Mockingbird and Horror

“Even if we were to discount the element of Southern small town prejudice and the ugly courtroom trial that occupies the film’s center, this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee is just plain spooky… and it is my feeling that it has bestowed upon us a legacy of horror that we […]

The Unmasking of a Troll

In writing about–and exposing the identity of–Reddit moderator and troll, Violentacrez, Adrian Chen makes an interesting point, well, many interesting points in this excellent piece for The Gawker:   “When it comes to mods, the political model of Reddit is not so much a vast digital democracy, as it’s often framed by fans and users, […]

Cheeseburger Compensation and Settling Hits out of Court

“These days, being a yakuza boss isn’t what it once was. In exchange for supreme status you get blamed for everything. In August of 2008, three months after the countermeasures laws went into effect, the Yamaguchi-gumi boss found himself dealing with one of his low-ranking underling’s unpaid McDonald’s tab. That’s because Japan’s approach to its […]

RIP, Andy Griffith

Actor and comedian Andy Griffith has died.  Boston.com has an overview of his career.  The Hollywood Reporter has memorials from Jim Nabors and Ron Howard. And here is a Griffith stand-up bit from 1953 with images drawn by George Woodbridge.

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

Recently, I’ve been thinking about danger.  Specifically, the kind of danger that runs through a certain subsection of Romance, often called ‘romantic suspense’.  These are the stories that drop the hero and heroine into physical jeopardy in addition to exposing them to all the emotional risks of falling in love.  When done well, they share […]

Leaving DC and Marvel

At Comics Alliance, David Brothers details why he decided to stop reading DC and Marvel comics. Meanwhile, The Comics Journal interviews Chris Roberson on why he decided to stop writing for DC.

“Blood, Kin and Structure”

Writers Joe Lansdale and Andrew Vachss have a conversation about their books Edge of Dark Water and That’s How I Roll, the power of books,  the importance of libraries and librarians, publishing as a fixed fight and a helluva lot more.  Part one and part two.

Shatner on Shatner’s World

William Shatner talks about his book on CBC Radio’s Q and his world on NPR’s  Fresh Air.

The History and Art of the Title Sequence

A couple of looks at the art and history of film title sequences.

My Pretty Pony: Remixing is Magic

Variety has a piece on how Hasbro allows fans to use footage from My Pretty Pony: Friendship is Magic, while other media copyright holders continue to try and squash fan use of media properties. “Really it all comes down to a question of control for big media companies….They can either attempt to clamp down on […]

Plea Bargains and Loveless Marriages

Scholars are combing digitized records from London’s Old Bailey and discovering fascinating trends in plea bargaining, divorce and bigamy in the 1800s.

The Jack Kirby Estate vs. Marvel

The Kirby estate’s copyright case has come to the attention of The New York Times. Kirby’s heirs are suing for ownership rights in his many, many creations at Marvel.  “Of course these court battles are about money. They also force the modern entertainment industry to reckon with the often amoral practices of the old comics […]

Journal of the Witchfinder General

Do you know the disturbing 1968 horror film The Witchfinder General, in which Vincent Price plays Matthew Hopkins a sadistic witch-hunter appointed by Parliament? The University of Manchester John Ryland’s Library is digitizing a 400-year-old diary recording the historical Hopkins’ inquisition.

Navigating the Mores of Fan Fiction

Hal Duncan navigates the mores of fan fiction. With stops at the kerfuffled shoals of Diana Gabaldon and George R. R. Martin’s blogs.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tom Burtonwood has created Folium, a book of three-dimensional printing of bas relief, for the Art Institute of Chicago from its collection. (Via Boing Boing)

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    We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

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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.

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    At We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega interviews friend of the Gutter Mark D. White about the virtues of Captain America. “In this, the ninth episode, of the second season of WARN’s podcast series, we talk about what comic books and superheroes can tell us about philosophy and politics, work through what makes someone ‘heroic,’ the ways that the general public often misunderstands and misreads the Captain America character, as well as how American exceptionalism, race, and identity relate to superhero and other types of comic books and graphic novels.”

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    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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    At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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