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

RIP, Polly Bergen

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Actor and singer Polly Bergen has died. Bergen has roles in film and television series as diverse as Desperate Housewives, Commander In Chief, The Sopranos, The Love Boat, Move Over Darling,  Cape Fear (1962), and The Polly Bergen Show.  The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Here Rex Reed […]

RIP, Richard Kiel

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Actor Richard Kiel has died. Kiel worked in both film and television, including performances in The Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”; Eegah (1962); The Barbary Coast with William Shatner; Happy Gilmore (1996); Pale Rider (1985); as Vlad in Tangled (201); and as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).   […]

“The Strength of Robin Williams”

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Matt Zoller Seitz has written a lovely meditation on Robin Williams at RogerEbert.com: “Williams wore the invisible garments of depression. He carried that burden. A lot of the time we didn’t see it, because he was a bright and enthusiastic comic performer and a great actor. But the weight was always there. Somehow he lived […]

The Gentleman Adventurer

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I don’t remember how it was I first came across Adam Adamant Lives!, though I suspect it was the culmination of a plot put into motion the day I was born, my sole purpose for existing being so that I might one day discover a British television show about a swashbuckling Edwardian gentleman adventurer who […]

RIP, Lauren Bacall

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Actor Lauren Bacall has died. Bacall is most famous for work with her first husband Humphrey Bogart, To Have And Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946) and Key Largo (1948), but she also starred in Douglas Sirk’s classic melodrama Written On The Wind (1956), co-starred with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How To […]

RIP, Robin Williams

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Actor and comedian Robin Williams has died. There are many obituaries and remembrances out there, so we’re just choosing a few.  The AV Club, RogerEbert.com and Boing Boing have obituaries. The writers of RogerEbert.com offer tributes. Terry Gilliam talks about directing Williams in The Fisher King. Penny Marshall talks about working with Williams on Laverne […]

“Let’s Be Real”

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“All movies choose their moment. It’s called a release date. Some moments, however, choose their movies. And it looks as if the moment has chosen Let’s Be Cops.” Wesley Morris starts a review on Let’s Be Cops and ends up meditating on movie police and real world police, race, black men, Cops and Do The […]

“James Bond Is No Hero To Him”

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Patrick McGoohan talks about Secret Agent (aka, Danger Man) in a .pdf copy of a 1964 TV Guide.

RIP, Marilyn Burns

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Actor Marilyn Burns has died. Burns is probably most famous for her work in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), but she also appeared in Brewster McCloud (1970), Helter Skelter (1976), Future-Kill (1985), and most recently in Shawn Ewert’s Sacrament (2014). The Los Angeles Times, The Wrap and The AV Club have obituaries. Marilyn Burns and […]

“Sculptress of Sound: The Lost Works of Composer Delia Derbyshire”

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BBC Radio 4’s Matthew Sweet explores the music and life of composer Delia Derbyshire, probably best known for her work on Doctor Who‘s iconic theme song. “Her realisation of the Doctor Who theme is just one small example of her genius and we’ll demonstrate how the music was originally created as well as hearing individual […]

The Rockford Files, The Sopranos and Classic Television

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Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. […]

RIP, James Shigeta

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Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed […]

The Return of a Classic Soap Opera

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Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley writes about his past as a soap opera fan and the return of a classic soap opera, The Doctors, and its significance for the genre.  

RIP, James Garner

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Actor and producer James Garner has died. Garner is probably most famous for his role as Jim Rockford in the tv series, The Rockford Files, but he also starred in Maverick (the tv series and the 1994 film), Support Your Local Sheriff (1969), Marlowe (1969), The Great Escape (1963),   Victor/Victoria (1982), Move Over, Darling […]

Apologizing for “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

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At Salon, Nathan Rabin apologizes for coining the phrase, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” “I remember thinking, even back then, that a whole list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls might be stretching the conceit too far. The archetype of the free-spirited life-lover who cheers up a male sad-sack had existed in the culture for ages. But […]

“The Last Straw”

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Maureen Ryan writes about Tyrant and the lazy use rape as a trope. “I’m just so tired of violence against women being used as storytelling No-Doz–something to juice up the proceedings and then discard at will.”  

RIP, Paul Mazursky

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Writer, director, actor and producer Paul Mazursky has died. Mazursky directed Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice (1969), Harry And Tonto (1974),  An Unmarried Woman (1978), Moscow On The Hudson (1984), Down And Out In Beverly Hills (1986), Enemies, A Love Story (1989). Mazursky was Emmanuel Stoker in The Blackboard Jungle (1955), a tv […]

RIP, Bobby Womack

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Singer, songwriter and composer Bobby Womack has died. The stand-alone importance of his music aside, Womack’s songs were used in innumerable film soundtracks and Womack composed the soundtrack for Across 110th Street (1972). The Los Angeles Times, Time and The Telegraph have obituaries. At Ebony, Gary Harris remembers Womack. The New Yorker considers “The Unimpeachable […]

RIP, Meshach Taylor

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Actor Meshach Taylor has died. Taylor had roles in Mannequin (1987), Designing Women, Buffalo Bill, Criminal Minds, Ned’s Classified School Survival Guide, The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor and the Broadway production of Beauty And The Beast. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and NPR have obituaries. Here Wendy Williams talks with Meshach […]

Self-control and other things that
make it worse later

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Awhile back I had one of those moments where I read something that made all the kaleidoscope pieces shift slightly into a pattern that made more sense: part of our problem in trying to make the best, healthiest choice about everything is that self-control is a limited resource. If you’re constantly forcing yourself to behave […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman.

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    “Japan’s estimated population at the time of their last census was 127 million, and people have been living on this small collection of islands since the Jomon period (~12,000 BCE.) In an increasingly crowded country with a strong traditional belief in ghosts and hauntings, the question of avoiding a marauding ghost becomes impossible to solve, without outside help.”Atlas Obscura has more (with neat illustrations).

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    At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some sort of peril, a melodramatic plot and a title that ends in a question mark.  But there is another, related tradition that goes back further that I think we could place these films in.” (via Dr. Giallo)

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    “I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time—even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible—it wasn’t, not really—but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.” Emmett Rensin writes more at Vox.

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    At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse has some things to say about reading Romance. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.”

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    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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