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, Robert Drew


Filmmaker, cinema verité innovator and journalist Robert Drew has died. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Grantland has a memoriam of his work and life. “Drew died last week. He was 90. His genre was cinema verité, which is a much more artful way into truth. He made portraits […]

“Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm”


At NPR’s Monkeysee blog, Linda Holmes writes about enthusiasm, the outloud internet, broadcast television, premium cable, the Man and many things worth thinking about. “[T]here is a better way forward. Fall in love with things. Try things; dislike some of them. Love people who love things you can’t imagine loving. Be thirsty and brave. Accept […]

“The Aesthetic Politics of Filming Black Skin”


Ann Hornaday discusses “The Aesthetic Politics of Filming Black Skin”: “For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards […]

Prosthetic Instruments


Dancers create music with prosthetic instruments.

“The Changing Shape of Cinema”


A history of the aspect ratio. “John Hess traces the evolution of the screen shape from the silent film days through the widescreen explosion of the 50s, to the aspect ratio of modern digital cameras.”

“The Science of Black Nerds”


Blerdology’s Kat and Amanda talk to Vibe about “The Science of Black Nerds.” “African Americans present a unique set of perspectives and problems that the larger tech world could never completely and accurately tackle without us. Now, we hack to ask how can we get more African Americans to realize the power and influence they […]

“Enter A Monster”

The Atlantic profiles Spectral Motion, creators of monsters, “effects, and other mechanical grotesqueries that have since become household nightmares, if not names.”

Protesting CISPA

ZDNet’s Violet Blue offers ways you can join the Apr. 22 protest against The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. At The Atlantic, Rebecca Greenfield notes that CISPA has “few friends in the Senate” but has the support of “major tech companies”: “Unlike SOPA which was widely condemned in the tech community,  CISPA has the […]

The Sensationalism of Trip To The Moon

“As early as 1929 Kodak identified the potential for colour to affect the emotions. Whilst Kodak developed Sonochrome tints like Rose Doree to ‘quicken the respiration’ and Peachblow for ‘brief, joyous moments’, twenty years before, Méliès applied translucent aniline dyes to create spectacle and to provoke sensation in nascent cinema.” Wendy Haslem writes on the […]

Dystopian Future Round-Up!

This week in Dystopian Future Round-Up: Panopticon Edition: Wired reports on the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s work on recording and storing everything people say; and Google Glass is more than unflattering according to Mark Hurst. (Thanks, @oafbot)

A Talk on 3D Comics

Jason Little talks about 3D comics from Wheatstone to Duchamp to now at Dare2Draw. (via Becky Cloonan)

What’s New At No Media Kings?

CG Co-Founding Editor Jim Munroe and Matt Hamill have a new text game, Guilded Youth. Meanwhile, Jim’s latest movie, Ghosts With Shit Jobs, is now available on Xbox.

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 […]

The Rise of Women in Tech

Sarah Wenger has made a neat infographic about women in the tech field.

King of the World 3D

David Bordwell tells the story of digital projection, 3D and how James Cameron lobbied theaters to buy the technology to show the films he wants to make. Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan wants to save 35mm film.  (Thanks, Kimberly Lindbergs!)

Doing Something Different with Epic Fantasy

Adrian Tchaikovsky plans to scorch epic fantasy’s rolling hills and verdant forests, joining other restless fantasy writers in a revolt against the eternal Middle England of Middle Earth: “In traditional epic fantasy, nothing ever changes. The only person trying to alter the world is the Dark Lord, and to defeat him is to restore the […]

“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.

A Marriage made in cinematic heaven

Kubrick’s producer sends him a letter about the new discovery of 1976: the Steadicam.

The Ocean’s Secret Paths

An interactive map of fiber-optic cables running beneath the world’s oceans (and seas). (via etsy)

Movies and the Joy of Being Alone, Together

Peter Gutierrez writes about the pleasures of watching movies, alone and together: “The more we curl up next to our smart phones and tablets whenever and wherever we want to; the more we crave the spectacle of the premiere, the excitement of that first midnight screening, the sharing of a movie’s emotional ride. Likewise, the […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    There’s a free audio book adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ Locke & Key at


    At Actionland, Heroic Sister Achillesgirl writes about subtitling the 1964 wuxia film, Buddha Palm. And she provides you with the subtitles and a link to the film!


    At Bleeding Cool, Cap Blackard writes about the contested homeworld of Howard the Duck. “If you’ve seen the much maligned Howard the Duck film or read any Howard the Duck stories published since 1979, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Duckworld. You know, an alternate Earth where everyone is ducks and everything is duck-themed: Ducktor Strange, Bloomingducks, etc, etc. Sounds like a recipe for a finite barrel of bad jokes, right? It is, and it’s also not Howard’s real point of origin. During his landmark initial run, Howard’s creator Steve Gerber had the down-and-out duck hailing from a world of talking animals, but all that changed when Gerber was kicked off the book and Disney flashed a lawsuit. Now, after decades of backstory fumbling, Mark Waid has reinstated Howard’s point of origin in a one-shot issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Thanks, Mark!)


    At The Village Voice, Jackson Connor writes about the making of The Warriors. Amid the refurbished boardwalk and laughter of children, it’s easy to forget that Coney Island was once a place where tourists did not venture. For much of the latter half of the twentieth century, street gangs dominated this neighborhood. They ran rampant through the area’s neglected housing projects, tearing along Surf and Neptune avenues toward West 8th Street. Those gangs, or gangs like them, and that incarnation of Coney Island would form the backbone of author Sol Yurick’s 1965 debut novel, The Warriors, about the young members of a street gang. More than a decade after the novel’s publication it would be optioned and, eventually, turned into a major motion picture of the same name.” (via @pulpcurry)


    Edith Garrud taught Suffragettes jiu-jitsu and formed Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard. “The first connection between the suffragettes and jiu-jitsu was made at a WSPU meeting. Garrud and her husband William, who ran a martial arts school in London’s Golden Square together, had been booked to attend. But William was ill, so she went alone. ‘Edith normally did the demonstrating, while William did the speaking,’ says Tony Wolf, writer of Suffrajitsu, a trilogy of graphic novels about this aspect of the suffragette movement. ‘But the story goes that the WSPU’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, encouraged Edith to do the talking for once, which she did.'”


    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


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