The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

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

Knowing is Half the Battle

Cobra Industries promotional video.

Real Life Superheroes

Usually, when the media talks about Real Life Superheros they mean firefighters or EMTs or police.  NPR’s Monkey See blog means something more awesome: costumed superheroes, featuring the World Superhero Registry. If only they’d included the superheroes’ one costumed mad scientist, Professor Widget.

Crocheted Dalek Doom!

Crochet your own dalek with amdown’s pattern–or planetjune’s modifications–force humans to hollow out the earth so you can drive it around the universe. Daleks conquer and destroy!

Marvel’s Kings of the Night Time World

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In 1977, the most powerful band on earth was KISS with their pyrotechnics, monster boots and the largest army a band had ever fielded, the KISS Army, fully prepared to rock and roll all nite, party every day and read comics in between. Marvel had their ever-lovin’ fingers on the pulse of the youth and […]

Perfect Candidates for Costumed Aggression

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Alienated, ranting about how the world could be perfected if only the fools would listen, plotting intricate schemes, focusing great minds on tiny slights, losing their beloved and scarred by experiments gone awry, revenging themselves on the world, supervillains are where it’s at. Here are some of my favorite villains–in alphabetical order to avoid retribution.

10 Comics I Liked in 2007

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The “best of” list is a tricky seasonal form and I’m no master.  I might not know what’s best, but I do know what I like.  So here’s ten good comics I read in 2007.

Stainless

Fearing what he can do.  Fearing what he won

Recently, one of my friends told me that Superman was an inch from becoming a dictator. It didn’t seem likely to me, but I didn’t have any arguments, just a sense that Superman wasn’t inclined toward world domination. Luckily enough, the public library system provided me with, The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at […]

Civil Engineer

Sad citizens? Buy them some entertainers!

Jeff Chapman started playing Civilization (MicroProse, 1991) when it came out and never stopped. He’s played the strategy turn-based videogame series for the past decade I’ve known him. Far from letting it consume him, he’s balanced his job as editor of History Magazine with a plethora of other projects, and so I thought he would […]

Easy Prey

You can

Prey is the latest science fiction thriller from perennial best-selling author, Michael Crichton. It’s been a few years since I read any Crichton novels so I was curious to see if my memory of his work – topical, easy to read in the way that bestsellers have, but flat and unoriginal – holds true for […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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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    Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work.

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    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

     

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