The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

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

Bava-Thon

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In honor of director Mario Bava’s birthday, Shudder TV is having a Bava-thon with nine of his classic horror films chosen by friend of the Gutter Colin Geddes streaming free online all weekend. See the line-up here and watch here.

Strange Men and Magic

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This week’s Guest Star Kate Laity writes about the television adaptation of Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Laity is an author, Medieval Studies scholar and History Witch. At Edge-Lit 4, my publisher, Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books, was on a panel about Grimdark. What is ‘grim dark?’ Well, that was the first topic. It […]

“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!)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Rob and Mike watch Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) at The Projection Booth. “The first big American studio film — and last big American studio film – directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, The Black Cat is, uh, ‘inspired’ by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in a taut game of life and death.”

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    Gentleman’s Gazette has a piece on the sartorial splendor of Hercule Poirot and of Captain Hastings in the BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries.

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    At Pitchfork, Barry Walters writes about Grace Jones. “One night in 1993, I finally got my chance to see Jones perform at a local gay nightclub and took my friend Brian, whose partner Mark was too sick to join us….She didn’t back away from the elephant in the room: She dedicated one song to artist and AIDS casualty Keith Haring, who had used her body for a canvas on the occasion of her legendary 1985 Paradise Garage performance. That night’s show was remarkable for the simple fact that Jones just kept on going, granting one encore request after another, waiting patiently while the sound man scoured backing tapes to find the fans’ offbeat choices. When Jones got to such minor numbers as ‘Crush,’ it became clear that she didn’t want to leave. She was giving as much of herself as she could to the beleaguered troops, knowing full well that many wouldn’t live long enough to see her again.”

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    At Pornokitsch, The Gutter’s own dame with a shady past Carol writes about five films noir.  “Do you want to watch some film noir? I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant.”

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    At The Alcohol Professor, The Gutter’s own Keith writes about Billie Holiday in a fantastic two-part piece. Part one traces “the history of Billie Holiday and NYC nightlife through the Harlem Renaissance to Café Society.” Part two covers “Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and the jazz scene in New York City clubs of a bygone era.”

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    The New Yorker has a profile of author Gene Wolfe. “His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.”

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