The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

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

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. […]

“Character and the Audience: The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow”

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Debbie Moon ponders the “Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow” and Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow is always male, and he’s that guy who can kill a roomful of people without breaking a sweat – but who is massively emotionally vulnerable, has no social support system, and is incapable of interacting with civilized society. […]

“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 […]

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, Ruby Dee

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Actor and activist Ruby Dee has died. Dee appeared in many roles in film, television and on stage. She appeared in St. Louis Blues (1958),  A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Guiding Light (1967), Peyton Place (1968-9), Buck and the Preacher (1972), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991),  American Gangster (2007). Josie Pickens […]

Godzilla Noir

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The Gutter’s own Carol shares a bit of her hardboiled Godzilla detective fiction at Monstrous Industry. Here’s a segment from “Three Kings” and two from “A Mark In Blue.”: ‘“Hell,’ I muttered, glancing down. My side was a mess of rearranged gears and blue coolant weeped from a broad gash. There was another smear of […]

Homer Simpson’s Last Theorem

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Attention mathematicians and Simpsons fans: On Numberphile, Simon Singh and Brady Haran discuss Fermat’s Last Theorem’s appearances in culture and evaluate Homer Simpson’s solution.

Default Setting

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In writing about Watch Dogs, Samantha Allan discusses white male characters as a default setting in games: “Games released at the start of a console cycle (like Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved for the original Xbox) tend to push the technical characteristics of gaming forward, while trotting out the same staid characters and story lines. Late […]

Irony, Art and Writing

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At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city […]

Fan Theorizing and True Detective

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“Fan-crafted theorizing is fun enough – it’s a solid way to keep up audience engagement over a show’s run and even inject excitement into series that might be flailing on its own (see: that horrifying “dead mother” theory that’s been circulating amongst How I Met Your Mother fans, which is either entirely insane or decidedly […]

The Desire For Certainty In Film

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“In the world of online film discourse, there’s a veritable cottage industry devoted to bringing certainty to ambiguity.” The Dissolve has more. Meanwhile, Film Critic Hulk writes about film logic, plot holes and “THE ONLY ANSWER THAT ACTUALLY MATTERS.”

RIP, Harold Ramis

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Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis has died. He is probably best known for  SCTV, Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Groundhog Day. He also had memorable roles in As Good As It Gets and Knocked Up.  The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. The […]

“The LEGO Movie: Further Evidence of Will Ferrell’s Subversive Genius”

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“To be fair, I have no idea whether [Will Ferrell] had input into the script of The Lego Movie or not. But the mere fact that he was cast as the movie’s villain should have been a giveaway as to its ideology. For more than a decade now, Ferrell’s starred in big, dumb films of surprising political […]

RIP, Sid Caesar

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Comedian, actor and writer Sid Caesar has died. The New York Times and Variety have obituaries. Time has gathered clips of his work. The Archive of American Television has an interview with Caesar here.

Forty-One Black Women In Horror Writing

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Sumiko Saulson shares a list of twenty Black women in horror writing. “February is Black History Month here in the United States. It is also Women in Horror Month (WiHM). As an Ambassador for WiHM, and as a woman of color (I am Black and Jewish) who is a horror writer, I am poignantly aware […]

Farewell to Too Busy Thinking About My Comics

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Colin Smith says farewell and shuts down his excellent, inspiring and thoughtful comics blog, Too Busy Thinking About My Comics. We’ll miss it very much.

“What Monkeys Eat: A Few Thoughts about Pop Culture Writing”

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Linda Holmes shares some thoughts about writing about pop culture: “Sometimes funny stories are just funny stories, and funny writing about silly things is just funny writing about silly things. But that’s not the whole story.”

RIP, Ida Pollock

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Author Ida Pollock has died. Writing under multiple noms de plume, Pollock published 120 books and was a founder of the Romantic Novelists Association. The Mary-Sue has an obituary. NPR talks with her daughter, Rosemary Pollock. The Telegraph has an overview of her career.

Ask Chris #173: The Trouble With Harley Quinn”

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Chris Sims writes about Harley Quinn, Batman: The Animated Series, and the problem with getting Harley wrong. “See, that’s the tragedy of Harley Quinn, the thing that makes her so compelling underneath all the bright, poppy cheer. She’s in love with someone who will never, ever love her back. Someone who can never, ever love […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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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 by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

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