The Cultural Gutter

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

Interview with Jim Jarmusch

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At Soundcheck, John Schaefer talks with Jim Jarmusch about “making music for someone else’s films, and a penchant for walking the tightrope between narrative and abstract art in his own movies. And if you thought his C.V. was looking a little thin, Jarmusch is also working on an upcoming opera about the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, with Robert Wilson and composer […]

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.

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)

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)

Weird R. Kelly Tales

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

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.  

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.”

Robot Opera!

Robots are replacing human tenors and divas.  It is Robot Opera and the robot apocalypse is nigh!

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).

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.

A Century of Cinematic Horror

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

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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  • 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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