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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  • 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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