The Cultural Gutter

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"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). Like this:Like Loading…

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”

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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. […]

“Fact and Fiction in Criminal Case File 002″

Andrew Nette writes about the trial and death of Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary. Like this:Like Loading…

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) Like this:Like Loading…

“Protest Style”

HAPS puts PSY’s protest style in context. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

“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. Like this:Like Loading…

Shatner on Shatner’s World

William Shatner talks about his book on CBC Radio’s Q and his world on NPR’s  Fresh Air. Like this:Like Loading…

The History and Art of the Title Sequence

A couple of looks at the art and history of film title sequences. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

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    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

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    Neill Cameron has re-imagined the characters of Parks & Recreation as members of Starfleet. (Via @neillcameron)

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