The Cultural Gutter

dangerous because it has a philosophy

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

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 […]

Top 10 of 2012

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It’s the end of the year; I work in retail; I have the flu.  All  of which means that for the past couple weeks I’ve been re-reading rather than reading. Mostly Eva Ibbotson, whose warmth reminds me not only that I love reading, but why.  Which makes this a good time for a retrospective list. […]

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

Recently, I’ve been thinking about danger.  Specifically, the kind of danger that runs through a certain subsection of Romance, often called ‘romantic suspense’.  These are the stories that drop the hero and heroine into physical jeopardy in addition to exposing them to all the emotional risks of falling in love.  When done well, they share […]

Good Books for Bad Days

By its very nature, a Romance is suffused with positive attitude.  The characters learn who they are, what kind of lives they want, and then proceed to go out and get them. The end result is effort rewarded (which is frankly more interesting than virtue rewarded, because virtuousness can be boring).  We like to read […]

Money Talks

Did you ever bounce off a book when you first picked it up only to discover later that you loved it?  Back in high school that happened to me with To Kill A Mockingbird.  Really.  I’d picked it up during the summer to get a jump on the next semester, but it took until the […]

The Kids Are All Right

Despite my whinging last month, I do in fact both read and love a lot of young adult Romance.  I  may not be fond of the ‘Supernatural Boyfriend of the Week’ subgenre (and no, Stephanie Meyer did not invent it; it’s been out there for decades), but that still leaves me with a large field […]

By Any Other Name

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Despite being the largest piece of the trade publishing pie, there’s a lot of good stuff to read out there that isn’t Romance.  And I try to get through as much of it as possible*.  Funnily enough, though, much of the other fiction I read tends to have some sort of romance in it somewhere.  […]

All That Fairy Tale Nonsense

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One of the many criticisms levelled at romance novels is that they’re a poor model for women when it comes to real-life relationships. All that fairy tale nonsense, detractors say, will make women want the wrong things from their partners. I could list a dozen things wrong with that assumption, but I’ll limit myself to […]

All I Want For Christmas Is A Few Good Books

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In the spirit of the season, here are ten, in alphabetical order by author. Like this:Like Loading…

Ten To Read

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I always enjoy the ‘Best Of’ lists that come out this time of year.  Seems to me that kind of potted commentary, however limited, offers a great starting place.  So in the spirit of year-end helpfulness, here’s a list of ten romances worth reading.  Historical and modern; sexy and mild:  they run the gamut.  I’m […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Graveyard Shift Sisters reviews Adilifu Nama’s Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film and looks at the history of race in science fiction films from teh 1950s to the present. “Adilifu Nama concocted a thorough read that blends a critical look at science fiction cinema’s milestone works in conjunction with American sociopolitical history, specifically with some of the most profound shifts in American race relations and policy.”

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    There’s a fine piece at Nitrate Diva about the 1935 film, Kongo. “In this monument to morbidity, nearly all the taboos festering at the edges of pre-Code cinema come out and play: blasphemy, drug addiction, prostitution, torture, slavery, bestiality, and (spoiler alert!) incest. The movie positively wallows in depravity. Degradation is its subject, its project, its study.”

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    At Bitch, Liza Dadoly writes about Never Alone. “Never Alone’s plot is based around Alaskan indigenous folklore, specifically the story ‘Kunuuksaayuka,’ a tale told by storyteller Robert Nasruk Cleveland of the Inupiaq people. ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ tells of a young boy who goes out into a blizzard to discover its source and, by doing so, save his people and their way of life from the terrible storm. According to Never Alone’s website, nearly forty Alaskan Native participants, including storytellers and elders, were involved with the development of the game. These Inupiat representatives and Never Alone’s development team worked together to turn ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ into the game, notably changing the protagonist from a young boy into a young girl, Nuna, and giving her an adorable fox to accompany her on her quest.”

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    Quartz has a gallery of Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s photographs of the skater girls of Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    PBS’ Newshour has a gallery of Norbert Ostrowski’s amazing automotive design sketches from 1946 to 1973. “The designs were never meant to leave the studios. Automakers routinely destroyed early sketches for fear they would fall into the wrong hands. But some of them made their way out of Ford, GM and Chrysler, as well as now defunct Studebaker, Packard and AMC. According to one designer, they were smuggled out in boxes with false bottoms. One employee famously hid his sketches inside the liner of his trench coat.”

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    Swell songs on disreputable topics: “Gom Jabbar “ by Chica Non Grata and “Bad Clone” by Victoria Squid.

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