The Cultural Gutter

going through pop culture's trash since 2003

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

Chromatophores + “Insane In The Membrane”

Scientists hooked a squid up to an iPod. This is what happened.

Jane Austen, Master Game Theorist

Jane Austen responds to Michael Chwe naming her a master of Game Theory.

The Spymaster and The Cuckoo

“This, then, is the story of Maxwell Knight—the man called M—and a cuckoo called Goo. Knight was a tall, patrician British intelligence officer in charge of MI5 departments dealing with counter-subversion on home ground. And yes, as ‘M’ he was the inspiration for James Bond’s controller.” Helen MacDonald recounts the story in an excellent piece. […]

Acid Burn, Angelina Jolie and Ada Lovelace

Garann writes a tribute to Hackers‘ Acid Burn for Ada Lovelace Day: “There are real women who did hard, under-appreciated work who instilled in me a belief that computer science was noble and beautiful and that I could be a part of it. They came later, though. I found them only because of an absurd […]

Decay: The Large Hadron Collider’s Zombie Attack!

Scientists make a feature film about radiation zombies and film it at CERN. It’s educational and you can watch it here.

RIP, Nefertiti the Spider

Nefertiti the astronaut spider has died. She had lived aboard the International Space Station for three months. PBS has an obituary.  (Thanks, Andrew!)

Part Human, All Sasquatch

MSN/MSNBC is reporting on bigfoot mitochondrial DNA and here at The Gutter, we really don’t care that there is no evidence shared yet: “For her study, Ketchum obtained three “whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatchsamples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown […]

The Dangerous Dead in Notts

The discovery of a skeleton found with metal spikes through its shoulders, heart and ankles, dating from 550-700AD and buried in the ancient minster town of Southwell, Notts, is detailed in a new report.”More at The Telegraph. (via Disinformation)

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. ” […]

All of Omni

Read Omni Magazine at the Internet Archive. (via io9)

The Gothic Imagination

BBC Radio 4 presents dramatizations of Frankenstein and Dracula, as well as extras including discussions of the difficulty of performing Frankenstein’s Creature, Vitalism, and who Stoker might’ve based his Count on. Click through to The Gothic Imagination. (via @booksadventures)

Vampires of New England

The Smithsonian Magazine investigates the vampires and vampire panics of 18th and 19th Century New England.  “In Manchester, hundreds of people flocked to a 1793 heart-burning ceremony at a blacksmith’s forge: ‘Timothy Mead officiated at the altar in the sacrifice to the Demon Vampire who it was believed was still sucking the blood of the […]

Reading Proto-Elamite

“[T]he Reflectance Transformation Imaging System, which uses a combination of 76 separate photographic lights and computer processing to capture every groove and notch on the surface of the clay tablets.” Dr. Jacob Dahl, director of the Ancient World Research Cluster, and a team of researchers capture images of proto-Elamite to help translate the world’s oldest […]

Kitty Cam Project

Kitties with their own cameras. Find out what they’re doing out there.

RIP, Sally Ride

Astronaut and physicist Sally Ride has died. Dr. Ride was the first American woman in space and flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. has an overview of Ride’s life.  NASA has an obituary and footage of Ride talking about her experience in space.  “Ride left NASA in August 1987 to join the faculty at […]

Protein Patterns

Knit your own favorite amino acids according to these charts of all 20 at ChemKnits!

“The Shy, Elusive Rape Particle”

“One of the unlovely things that has been happening in Anglophone SF/F … is the resurrection of unapologetic – nay, triumphant – misogyny beyond the already low bar in the genre. The churners of both grittygrotty ‘epic’ fantasy and post/cyberpunk dystopias are trying to pass rape-rife pornkitsch as daring works that swim against the tide […]

Mayan Scriptorium

A panoramic view of a recently excavated room in the Mayan city of  Xúltun. (Thanks, Mike!)

Haitian Zombis: Clinical Findings

In 1997, the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published an article, “Clinical findings in three cases of zombification” by Roland Littlewood and Chavannes Douyon.  Mo Costandi at NeuroPhilosophy provides cultural context and discusses anthropologist Wade Davis’ work on the ethnobiology of the Haitian zombie.  And Patrick D. Hahn writes about a Clairvius Narcisse, provides […]

“Jeez, I can write a better story than that!”

At a panel discussion, Octavia Butler reveals how she became a writer, watching a movie and thinking, “Jeez, I can write a better story than that!”  Butler is interviewed by Charlie Rose in 2000. And a clip of her from a television documentary on science fiction.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    In a 1988 Sight And Sound interview, Patricia Highsmith talks about film adaptations of her novels, from Strangers On A Train (1950) to The American Friend (1977)


    Open Culture has a re-vamped trailer for a film adaptation of  Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ comic The Incal. One that never happened. “[Incal‘s] success made it a logical candidate for film adaptation, and so director Pascal Blais brought together artists from Heavy Metal magazine (in which Mœbius first published some of his best known work) to make it happen. It resulted in nothing more than a trailer, but what a trailer; you can watch a recently revamped edition of the one Blais and his collaborators put together in the 1980s at the top of the post.” (Thanks, Felipe!)


    Hyperallergic has a gallery of astronomical and cosmological illustrations from photographer Michael Benson’s books, Cosmographics: Picturing Space Through Time. (Thanks, Stephanie!)


    A homophobic Tumblr post becomes Queer dystopian adventure fiction in two responses. Behold! (Thanks, Adele!)


    Tony Zhou has a new video up at Every Frame A Painting. This time, he looks at Buster Keaton and, “The Art Of The Gag.”


    At Dirge Magazine, friend of the Gutter Less Lee Moore writes about the cinema of Richard Kern. “My introduction to Richard Kern was an issue of Spin magazine from the mid-1980s. Having recently fallen under the spell of the feral pleasures of Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel – a.k.a. JG Thirlwell – I was intrigued by lurid descriptions of pornographic short films featuring Thirlwell and paramour/collaborator Lydia Lunch, whose snarky sound bites I scrawled in the margins of my diaries.”


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