The Cultural Gutter

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

“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.” Like this:Like Loading…

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!) Like this:Like Loading…

“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!) Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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) Like this:Like Loading…

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! Like this:Like Loading…

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!) Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

Dark Shadows Roundtable

The Cinementals, the Collinsport Historical Society and Monster Island Resort join together for a thoughtful discussion of Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Like this:Like Loading…

If You Leave, How Will I Strangle You?

Computers and I are not the best of friends.  We’re more like work colleagues who really don’t care for one another.  We may act all professional, but secretly we’re each making sarcastic comments about the other’s hair, clothing, and annoying personal habits. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Like this:Like Loading…

Don’t Know How She Does It

Several years ago I went to Disney World with friends who had a small child.  The three of us adults were almost enough to keep the little one from exploding in all directions, but afterwards I needed a vacation from my vacation.  So I headed off to Daytona Beach, intending to spend a few days […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

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    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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