The Cultural Gutter

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

“Strange & Norrell: III–Away With The Fairies”

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John Reppion continues his series on English magic and Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Next up, “Away With The Fairies.”

“Strange & Norrell : II–On Fairies & Witchcraft”

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John Reppion continues his discussion of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at The Daily Grail, “pluck[ing] out some of the more easily disentangled fragments of folklore, magic, and the like from the book (and the show) and takes a closer look at them.” This time, he considers fairies and witchcraft.

Watching Aleksander Ptshuko’s Evenings On A Farm Near Dikanka

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At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Keith spends Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka. “The movie opens as all good Christmas movies should: with a scene of a jolly witch tearing across the night sky astride her broomstick, collecting stars for her eldritch brews, while the devil bats the moon around and eventually slips it […]

“Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power”

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A 1,300-year-old Egyptian book of spells has been translated. “Among other things, the ‘Handbook of Ritual Power,’ as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat “black jaundice,” a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.”

Summer Fun Time Reading ’14

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Summer is almost here, and I can’t tell you how glad I am. So smear yourself up with sunscreen and bug repellent, find your kickiest sandals, put the finishing touches on your Wicker Man and don’t forget to wear a hat because I have some comics to make your summer just a little more fun […]

“On The Trail Of The Golem”

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The Gutter’s own Keith tracks the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem–with some dips into alchemy and art–through Prague.  “So how did Rabbi Loew’s name become associated with the legend of the golem? Well, it’s no surprise, really, given how much weird, wizardy stuff is already attributed to him. It seems more or less […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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!)

“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. […]

“A History of British Folk Horror”

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Spectacular Optical has an overview of British folklore in horror film and television. (Thanks, Colin!)

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.

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 […]

“British Occultists and World War II”

Dion Fortune and the Fraternity of the Inner Light protected Britain from Germany’s occult attacks during World War II. Read more here. (via @mattstaggs)

10 Comics I Liked In 2012

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Tales of derring-do! Girl adventurers! Occult mystery! Infernal foes! Secrets revealed! Pirates! Love, loss & betrayal! Intricate art bound in lovely hardcovers! Indie going mainstream! Original creations! It’s been an incredible year for comics. So many good ones that I can’t even begin to claim to know what would be the best comics of 2012. […]

“What time is it?”

Hero Complex has an algebraic article about Adventure Time!

Hunting the Hell Portal with L. Ron Hubbard

“It was the dawn of World War II when [Jack] Parsons, who’d also co-founded the missile manufacturing firm Aerojet around the same time as [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory]’s inception, took to the Ordo Templi Orientis….But soon enough the young explosives guru was running with another OTO buck, a young writer named L. Ron. Hubbard. ” […]

A Haunted House and a Diabolical Manor

Possibly the world’s first old dark house movie, The Haunted House (1908) by Segundo de Chomón and the first vampire/Satanic castle movie, Le Manoir du Diable (1896) by Georges Méliès. (Thanks, Keith and Teleport City!)

NYAFF 2012!

Who will dare face the New York Asian Film Festival?! Who will dare not to after seeing the festival trailer and reading, “Grady’s Guide to NYAFF 2012?!”  The full festival schedule and ticket information are here.

Ramsay International Horror

“The ‘Ramsay Brothers,’ as they are called, have in these films, and in India’s first horror show on television, featured ghosts, ghouls, monsters, zombies, witches, vampires and every conceivable version of things that go bump in the night. Mostly, they’ve been the first to do so.”  More on the Ramsay Brothers and Hindi film horror […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At the New Republic, B. D. McClay writes about Shirley Jackson and a new collection containing previously unpublished stories and essays by Jackson. “Let Me Tell You, on the other hand, is for the already-converted fan, who will be delighted to read so many new stories and essays. The greatest attraction is the 15 essays, which touch on subjects as diverse as the travails of being married to a book critic (‘book reviewing is just nothing for a healthy young girl to be married to’), Samuel Richardson (‘no small action is consummated in less than ten pages’), poltergeist-bearing postcards (‘I think it is simply too much for any one house to have poltergeists and children’), and clowns.”

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    At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Carol writes about 12 books that vary in reputability and their harrowing nature. They include books by Shirley Jackson, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Herman Melville.

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    Anne Billson has posted a 1985 interview she did with director George Miller (the Mad Max films). Miller talks about many things including Aunty Entity’s probable past as a hero and Max as, in Mel Gibson’s words, “a closet human being.” (Thanks, Matt!)

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    At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic die-offs before, as recently as the previous winter in California and in regular bouts with a deadly bug called the varroa mite since the 1980s. But those die-offs would at least produce bodies pathologists could study. Here, the bees had just disappeared. In the U.K., they called it Mary Celeste syndrome, after the merchant ship discovered off the Azores in 1872 with not a single passenger aboard. The bees hadn’t even scrawled CROATOAN in honey on the door on their way out of the hive.”

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    Andrew Nette has a pair of interesting pieces on pulp you might be interested in. First, he writes about “the New Pulp” and a bit about Fifty Shades of Gray in “Fifty Shades of Pulp.” Then he writes about pulp and literacy and furthering social advancement in “Pulp and Circumstance.”  “Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.”

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    The Projection Booth interviews actor Ed Asner.

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