The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

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

“He’s the guitar string that resonates at the frequency of America”

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Danny Bowes writes about Christopher Nolan’s Interstallar, baseball and Matthew McConaughey at Letterboxd: “McConaughey is a great movie star for a number of reasons, but one of which is that the nature of his charisma derives from his singular quantum Zen surfer good old boy state of being. His charisma switch doesn’t just have one […]

“The truth about the dungeon master who disappeared in the steam tunnels”

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Jason Louv writes about James Dallas Egbert III, who seemed to have disappeared in Michigan State University’s steam tunnels in 1979 and who became the focus of a panic about Dungeons & Dragons. “When Egbert vanished, his parents hired William Dear, a private detective, to locate him. Dear theorized that it was Egbert’s involvement in […]

Let’s not realize your dreams…

28 days later bad dream

For our anniversary, my wife and I got a really nice message from my family wishing us good things, including that we would “realize our dreams”. When I’d finished responding, I looked over at her and noticed she had a strange expression on her face. You might think that after I woke up to find […]

The De-Radicalization of American Girl Dolls

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At The Atlantic, Amy Schiller writes about Mattel’s changes to American Girl Dolls line.  from teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness” to customizable accessories reflecting their owners’ own lives. Alexandra Petri writes “Even more terrible things are happening to the American Girl brand than you thought” at The Washington Post. […]

The CIA and Argo

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The CIA’s twitter account fact-checks Argo. Like this:Like Loading…

Thinking About Serial

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At The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance considers whether it is wrong to be hooked on the Serial podcast in which journalist Sarah Koenig investigates a 1999 murder in Baltimore. “But Serial is also a story about storytelling. Listeners ride along with Koenig each week as she does her investigative work. We hear the reportorial leads that […]

Shirley Jackson Reads from “The Daemon Lover”

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An excerpt of Shirley Jackson’s reading from “The Daemon Lover” on Folkways Recordings. Like this:Like Loading…

A Little Halloween History

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Rosie Cima writes a little bit about the history of Halloween including a look at seasonal stores, sexy costumes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. (Thanks, Paula!) Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Gary McLarty

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Stunt performer and coordinator Gary McLarty has died. McLarty performed stunts in many, many movies and tv shows including: Gone In Sixty Seconds (2000), Wyatt Earp (1994), Jurassic Park (1993), Last Action Hero (1993), Days of Thunder (1990), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Rambo III (1988), Maximum Overdrive (1986), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), To […]

RIP, Bob Orrison

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Stunt performer and coordinator Bob Orrison has died. Orrison performed stunts in many, many movies and tv shows including: Speed (1994), Universal Soldier (1992), Die Hard 2 (1990), Hooper (1978), The A-Team, The Dukes of Hazzard, Blues Brothers (1980), Smokey & The Bandit (1977), Three The Hard Way (1974), Star Trek and The Wild Bunch […]

RIP, Elizabeth Peña

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Actor Elizabeth Peña has died. Peña appeared in both film and television including, La Bamba (1987), Batteries Not Included (1987), Blue Steel (1989), L.A. Law, Lone Star (1996),  The Incredibles (2004), Justice League, Prime Suspect and Modern Family. NPR remembers Peña. The Guardian has collected clips of Peña’s work. Latino Review, The New York Times, […]

RIP, Jan Hooks

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Actor and comedian Jan Hooks has died. The New Yorker has an appreciation. Kevin Nealon remembers Hooks at People.com. DListed remembers Hooks. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter have obituaries. Time collected six of her Saturday Night Live sketches. Hooks talks about life after SNL. Here she is as […]

“7 Ways Gilmore Girls Got Women Right”

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“Gilmore Girls probably owes its failure to attract widespread acclaim despite running for seven seasons to the traditional cultural devaluation of female-driven genre media, whether it comes in the form of Young Adult fiction, women’s fiction, or female-led Hollywood narratives. Given that Gilmore combined elements of all of the above, it’s no wonder the only Emmy it ever received […]

Photography’s Antichrist

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At The Guardian, Chris Campion writes about American photographer William Mortensen, who specialized in the eerie, the grotesque, the fantastic and the macabre. “In his own writings, Mortensen invoked Hogarth, Beardsley, Daumier and Goya as his forebears. But he also had much in common – in technique, style and approach – with European outlier artists […]

Devil Girl from Inverness

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The BBC’s Steven McKenzie looks at Scotland’s influence on science fiction film and a wee bit of television. (Thanks, Matt!) Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Geoffrey Holder

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Actor, dancer, choreographer, director, designer and artist Geoffrey Holder has died. Besides his iconic role as Baron Samedi in Live And Let Die (1973), he directed and designed the costumes for the 1975 stage production of The Wiz, performed as the Metropolitan Opera Ballet’s principal dancer in 1955-6, choreographed pieces for the Holder Dance Company […]

“We Need Diverse Books”

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The Washington Post has a transcript of American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints creator Gene Luen Yang’s speech at the 2014 National Book Festival Gala.  “We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say. This fear can be a good […]

Interview with Pendleton Ward

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Rolling Stone‘s Neill Strauss profiles Adventure Time creature Pendleton Ward and talks to him about why he decided to stop running the show. “He sighs and looks down at his stomach. ‘It’s nice to just be sleepy and make stuff,’ he says. ‘That’s the root of what I like doing. Make stuff on my own […]

Interview with Michael Keaton

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Tom Chiarella conducts an Esquire interview with Michael Keaton interesting in both form and content: “Keaton. On the versions and versions and versions of himself. Glib young man, mook, weird spook, superhero, villain, operative, hitman, guy with a parakeet on his shoulder, corporate shill, and ex-superhero. He never got caught in any one. How?” Like […]

“Classy Ladies, Scary Movies”

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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 […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Graveyard Shift Sisters, Carolyn looks at Lizzie Borden’s Born In Flames (1983) and the character, Adelaide Norris. “Born in Flames was revolutionary for its time, and I think it is still relevant today. This film has many layers, with both a speculative as well as a science fictional representation of a parallel universe that denies oppression. One of the main characters, Adelaide Norris played by Jean Satterfield, came to the forefront for me because of her race and role in the story. Adelaide is one of the key characters who pulls the female troops together. With the help of her mentor Zella, played by civil rights lawyer Flo Kennedy, this young Black and gay woman tirelessly researches, advises, and recruits women to fight the good fight for equality.”

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    A video tribute to interactive VCR games including: Nightmare (1991), The Fisherman VCR Bible Game (1989), Rich Little’s Charades (1985), Wayne’s World VCR Game (1992), Star Trek: The Next Generation VCR Game (1995) and Skull and Crossbones (1988). (Thanks, Beth!)

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    At The Los Angeles Review Of Books, Suzannah Showler writes about the complexity of the reality tv show The Bachelor and her complicated love for it. “I love The Bachelor the way I love most things, which is to say: complicatedly. On the one hand, I think it’s a fascinating cultural product, one I find great delight in close-reading. But I also love it, frankly, because I just like watching it. I think it’s top-notch entertainment, and I will straight up hip-check my politics out of the way, and give up many hours of my life, in the name of being entertained.” (Via @idontlikemunday)

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims recounts that time the Punisher battled Dr. Doom. “It starts off with Dr. Doom kicking it in an extradimensional conference room set up by Loki to coordinate mass villainy, where he is just ripping into the Kingpin for being unable to kill the Punisher….Thus, in a sterling example of the ‘well then why don’t you do it’ school of super-villain cameraderie, Dr. Doom, a man who built a time machine in his basement, heads off to try his luck at fighting the Punisher, a man who has a gun. He does this, as you might expect, by luring him to a quarry and — after a brief exchange between a Doombot and a minigun — attempting to blow up his van with a tank.”

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    The Swiss Literary Archives have made their Patricia Highsmith collection available online here. (Thanks, Kate!)

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    Andy Kaufman has breakfast with Classie Freddie Blassie in My Breakfast With Blassie (1983) (via @GCDB)

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