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

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

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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.” Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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!). Like […]

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.” Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

Reporting Live from the Shire

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

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) Like this:Like Loading…

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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.”  Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

Patrick McGoohan is a Free Man

Patrick McGoohan has died. He’s been in movies from Ice Station Zebra to Scanners to Braveheart.  He turned down a crazy number of roles: The Saint, James Bond, Gandalf and Dumbledore. He directed and starred in some smart tv including Columbo. Most people will remember his dreamy auteur tv show, The Prisoner, a show Glenn […]

The Atlas of True Names

They may say they are inspired by Tolkien, but it looks like a lark, of an etymological nature, to me! The Atlas of True Names converts place names into their original meanings. It’s like a whole different world. Like this:Like Loading…

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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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