The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

RIP, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

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Actor, producer and musician Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. has died. Zimbalist starred in the tv series FBI and 77 Sunset Strip. He had roles in Airport 1975 (1974) and Wait Until Dark  (1967). He had recurring roles in Remington Steele and Babylyon 5.  Zimbalist was the voice of Alfred in the Batman, Static Shock,  Justice League […]

RIP, Sid Caesar

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Comedian, actor and writer Sid Caesar has died. The New York Times and Variety have obituaries. Time has gathered clips of his work. The Archive of American Television has an interview with Caesar here. Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Deanna Durbin

Actress and singer Deanna Durbin has died. The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Audie Cornish and Melissa Block remember Durbin on NPR.  Here Deanna Durbin sings, “Good-Bye” in Because Of  Him (1946) Like this:Like Loading…

The Glorious Struggle!

North Korean haircuts acceptable to the Communist party, photographs of Madame Mao’s Cultural Revolution operas and ballet and songs dispelling Fascist threats and Communist lies. (via @WFMU and @HollyHunt913) Like this:Like Loading…

Weird R. Kelly Tales

Tales from R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet told by actor Michael K. Williams and drawn by Kagan McLeod. Like this:Like Loading…

Computer & Spaceman: A True Space Opera

Computer & Spaceman is a French space opera performed in English about an astronaut who is really focused on cooking up aliens as hamburgers and yearns for space friends.   Like this:Like Loading…

Maurice Sendak and the Strange Wild Things of My Childhood

“The magic of childhood is the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don’t see.” “I’m just clearing the decks for a simple death. You’re done with your work. You’re done with your life. And your life was your work.” –Maurice Sendak, TateShots: Maurice Sendak and Tell Them Anything […]

When to start laughing: Homicidal hillbillies and absurd horror-comedies

Sometimes life is uncooperative. The consequences extend from our highest functions to the lowest corners of the cultural gutter. Here, friends, is the result of my non-compliant life situation: a list of things that make me think of other things, loosely organized around the theme of absurd horror-comedies! I’ll start with Tucker and Dale vs. […]

“Why Do People Hate Rap and Opera?”

At NPR’s classical music blog, Deceptive Cadence, Tom Huizenga discusses the results of a poll asking readers to “name their musical blind spot.” Over and over, people disliked rap and opera  and Huizenga ponders why that might be and what rap and opera might have in common: “Opera and rap take work to appreciate — […]

Ennio Morricone Conducts

Ennio Morricone conducts and soprano Susanna Rigacci solos on themes from three Sergio Leone Westerns:  Once Upon A Time In The West, A Fistful of Dynamite and The Good, The Bad, The Ugly–including, “The Ecstasy of Gold.” Like this:Like Loading…

Robot Opera!

Robots are replacing human tenors and divas.  It is Robot Opera and the robot apocalypse is nigh! Like this:Like Loading…

Big Damn Heroes

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For all his various meanings, attributes and forms, the hero of a Romance novel is really just the male protagonist.  He can be heroic in nature, of course, and he often is, but it isn’t required. Sometimes the actual heroism, should there be any, falls to the heroine.  And sometimes it falls to the writer. […]

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Klingon opera has finally happened. Get an earful at Cinematical. (The musical part begins at about 2:15). Like this:Like Loading…

Les Aventures de Madame Merveille

Cecil Castellucci, Minx comic artist and Canadian nerdcore icon, has cut the middle brow out with her fusion of low and high art, the comics opera,  Les Aventures de Madame Merveille.  See it in Montreal with art from Pascal Girard, Michael Cho, Scott Hepburn and Cameron Stewart. Like this:Like Loading…

A Century of Cinematic Horror

Decade by decade, the Movie Morlocks look at 100 years of cinematic horror, starting with the 1910 silent, Frankenstein. Like this:Like Loading…

Alan Moore Knows The Score

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“It’s nice to hear all the old songs, isn’t it?”–the Devil, The Black Rider I was surprised to hear the old songs in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 (Top Shelf, 2009). I probably shouldn’t have been. The chapter title, “What Keeps Mankind Alive” distracted me, but I kept […]

Romance Done Right

Battered and beloved.

This week’s piece on a maligned artform is by Chris Szego. I read, on average, ten books a week. Seriously. In fact, I consider reading a physiological necessity like sleep, or chocolate: you can skimp on the proper amount for a while, but sooner or later, you have to get enough, and in the meantime, […]

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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.”

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    Zack and Steve go through and review Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module S-1: The Tomb Of Horrors at WTF, D&D?!…so you don’t have to.

    “Steve: Most of the opening paragraph is a warning about difficulty. ‘You’ll never find the demi-lich’s secret chamber’ and the tomb is fraught with “terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections.” It’s telling you not to play the adventure.

    Zack: Not just in that part. In the DM’s notes section at the start, Gygax explicitly warns Dungeon Masters that if your players enjoy killing monsters they will be unhappy with the adventure.

    Steve: ‘This module is only for parties that enjoy dying immediately and repeatedly.’ Oh, man, we’re not going to play though this thing are we?”

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    Dr. Nerdlove takes a brief break from helping the nerd get the girl to address something that’s been bugging him. “Pardon me while I go off on a bit of a media criticism/ rant here. So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is screen death; every time she’s around, everything comes to a screeching halt.

    The problem is: it’s not her fault, it’s the writers. Rather like Laurel Lance in the first two seasons of Arrow, she has Lois Lane syndrome. Her (like Laurel and Lois) entire character arc is based around being ignorant of events that literally everyone else in her life is aware of.”

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    Get your own copy of the Satanic Temple’s The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities!

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    At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”

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    Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (2005).  The Japan Times, The South China Morning Post and The AV Club have obituaries. Japan Subculture has an interview with Takakura. Here Takakura sings the theme to Abhashiri Prison (1965)

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