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

“The Myth of the Medieval Setting: Masculinity and Heroism in Modern Film”


Friend of the Gutter, Kate Laity writes about medieval settings, ideas of heroism and masculinity, and “how people use history to veil the way they think about how things are now.”

“The Anti-Tolkien”


The New Yorker profiles writer Michael Moorcock. Moorcock’s influence is nothing like Tolkien’s, at least on the surface, but his vision of a speculative-fiction genre that can be psychologically complex is evident in how very sophisticated some of it has become—from True Detective to Jeff VanderMeer, from David Mitchell to Under the Skin. But Moorcock […]

“Real Human Beings: The Shadow of Mordor, Watch Dogs and the New NPC


At Paste Magazine, Austin Walker writes about non-player characters, failure, autonomy, The Shadow of Morder and Watch Dogs: “And here, then, is the largest problem with these systems as they stand. No matter how many songs the Orcs of Mordor sing, no matter the desperation of [Watch Dogs‘] out-of-work Chicagoan teacher, all I can do […]

Trinity Syndrome

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“For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.” Tasha Robinson writes more about this in […]

RIP, Arthur Rankin, Jr.

Animator, director and producer Arthur Rankin, Jr. has died. Rankin is probably best known for his Rankin/Bass studio’s holiday television specials such as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and Mad Monster Party. He also produced and directed The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit (1977), The Return Of The King (1980), The […]

White One Hundred

BadAzz MoFo debuts, “White One Hundred: 100 Great Films Starring Only White People”: ” The entire purpose of this project is not to condemn the films and the filmmakers as being racist, but merely to point out the incredible extent of omission that goes on in film, and is accepted as being perfectly normal.” (via […]

Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits

An armorer has some suggestions about balancing functionality, character and story in “fantasy armor and lady bits.”

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 […]

Happy Birthday, JRR Tolkien

BBC 2’s  “In Their Own Words: British Novelists,” with J.R.R. Tolkien.

Ulysses vs Lord of the Rings

Orson Scott Card writes an impassioned defence of Lord of the Rings (and the type of popular book championed by readers) against Ulysses (and the type of difficult book espoused by academics), complete with call to action to make your own family canon of beloved literature (scroll down past a long rant about chocolate!).

High Fantasy for Young Adults

At The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes about The Lord of the Rings and its influence on young adult fantasy, how Tolkien’s fusing of the epic and the familiarly domestic brought us Eragon and Twilight. “Kids go to fantasy not for escape but for organization, and a little elevation; since life is like this already, […]

“5 Things I Hate About D & D”

Get ready players, Jared at the ever-excellent Pornokitsch shares the 5 things he hates about Dungeons and Dragons:  “As a result of Tolkien’s Middle English Mary Sue, generations of gamers have been saddled with Tylenol Applebottom, Laxative Spottypork and their size-Pathetic sling attacks.”

Fandom is Magic

In the year 2001 I discovered a magical world. Not Harry Potter (that was a few years later) and not the Internet (although it was responsible), but a world that captured my attention and hasn’t let go ten years later. It has to do with fanfiction; unpaid fiction that is written by fans of a […]

Hobbit Production Video 2

Hobbits on film! Well, not quite yet. Here’s Peter Jackson’s second production vidoe for The Hobbit.

Runes and Elvish Fonts for all your Typographic Needs

Needs some nice lettering for your tabletop gaming, LARPing, epic fantasy, Sindarin memoirs or sinister rings? DaFont has a whole section devoted to Elvish and Runic fonts.

Reporting Live from the Shire

Reporting live from the Shire, Peter Jackson records his first videoblog from the set of The Hobbit. (Thanks, Drew!)

The Chambers of Guillermo del Toro

The New Yorker tours Guillermo del Toro’s Los Angeles mansion and gets a look at Smaug and The Mountains of Madness. (via @Propnomicon)

Summer Fun Time Reading!

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It’s summertime and all the happenin’ sites have advice about bikinis, manscaping, quick cool meals and reading lists. I have no idea what to tell you about beachwear, other than you do look cute in that, but I do have some reading suggestions.

Klingon vs. Esperanto–Sindarin Wins!

Andrew O’Hehir reads a book about artificial language and decides: “Tolkien’s languages, one might say, form the missing link between Esperanto and Klingon.” 

So Many Fan Films!

The monkeys over at See Monkey round up a whole whack of fan film action including “the greatest fan film of all time,” which “def[ies] all laws of God, man and intellectual property and cramming vastly different fictive universes — Marvel, DC, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, you name it — into one great big ball […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Michael Aguilar discusses The Giant Claw and making the stop motion wonder of “Godzilla 2014 vs. The Giant Claw, Part I!” (Thanks, Kate!)


    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.”


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