The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

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

“Le Bestiare Fabuleux”

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“A mid-20th century collaboration between artists, poets and printers gave rise to a unique book of surrealistic creatures accompanied by complementary typographic art poems.” See more at BibliOdyssey. (Thanks, Andrezo!)

RIP, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

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Actor, producer and musician Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. has died. Zimbalist starred in the tv series FBI and 77 Sunset Strip. He had roles in Airport 1975 (1974) and Wait Until Dark  (1967). He had recurring roles in Remington Steele and Babylyon 5.  Zimbalist was the voice of Alfred in the Batman, Static Shock,  Justice League […]

Blurry Images Coming Clear: Hong Kong Cinema, Censorship and Me

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Every April, we like to switch things up at the Gutter, with the editors writing about something outside their domains. This week, Comics Editor Carol writes about subtitles, censorship and Hong Kong cinema. I don’t remember the first kung fu movie I ever watched. I am terrible at remembering “firsts.”  But I do remember the […]

“On The Trail Of The Golem”

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The Gutter’s own Keith tracks the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem–with some dips into alchemy and art–through Prague.  “So how did Rabbi Loew’s name become associated with the legend of the golem? Well, it’s no surprise, really, given how much weird, wizardy stuff is already attributed to him. It seems more or less […]

Fun! Charm! Thrilling Adventure!

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The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a beacon in a grittily realistic, grimdark pop culture landscape, one guiding lost souls to fun, charm and adventure. And I’m glad to see The Thrilling Adventure Hour adapted from podcast radio play into graphic novel because I like what it portends for fun stories in the future and because […]

“The Fleming Files”

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At Teleport City, The Gutter‘s own Keith examines Ian Fleming’s historical and fictional lives in espionage. “There were many British celebrities who dabbled to some degree or other in intelligence work during the war: Fleming, of course, but also entertainer Noel Coward[,] occult fiction author Dennis Wheatley, even notorious Ordo Templi Orientis leader Aleister Crowley […]

RIP, Hiroo Onoda

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Hiroo Onoda has died. Onoda was the last soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army to surrender, after hiding in the Philippines forest until 1974. Asia News and The New York Times have obituaries.

RIP, Russell Johnson

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Actor Russell Johnson has died. Johnson was best known as the Professor on the television show, Gilligan’s Island, and as physicist Steve Carlson in This Island Earth (1955). Terence Towles Canote has more on Johnson’s life and work at A Shroud of Thoughts. The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. The […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

A Conversation with Lee Epstein

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Daily Grindhouse interviews Lee Espstein, author of the biography, Lee Marvin: Point Blank (2013). “I had several moments when I realized that when you study someone’s career you’re going to see certain themes become prevalent, and with Marvin it was this constant thread of violence. I wanted to know where that came from. I also […]

The Subtle Noir of Dorothy B. Hughes

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At The LA Review of Books, Sarah Weinman writes about fine, subtle and underappreciated noir writer, Dorothy B. Hughes. “In a Lonely Place…blasted my mind open to new ways of reading. I wasn’t only enjoying the story and getting creeped out by the wholly unreliable narrator, Dix Steele, but marveling at the way Hughes let […]

A Man’s Life

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“The type of thing I came up with was what sold at the time: Guys with guns and gals with no pants on.”–Norm Saunders (1983) A man presses himself against the wall of a collapsed mine as a grizzly, reared on its hind legs, swipes at him through a gap in the rocks. A man, […]

“‘We Have Always Fought': Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”

“It’s easier to tell the same stories everyone else does. There’s no particular shame in it. It’s just that it’s lazy, which is just about the worst possible thing a spec fic writer can be. Oh, and it’s not true.” Kameron Hurley writes about lazy writing, cannibal llamas, female soldiers, and women here. (Thanks, James!)

The Spymaster and The Cuckoo

“This, then, is the story of Maxwell Knight—the man called M—and a cuckoo called Goo. Knight was a tall, patrician British intelligence officer in charge of MI5 departments dealing with counter-subversion on home ground. And yes, as ‘M’ he was the inspiration for James Bond’s controller.” Helen MacDonald recounts the story in an excellent piece. […]

The Men of 30AU

“In essence what Fleming was proposing was a team of authorised thieves and looters – mavericks who would operate ahead of the forward troops and who were instructed to do whatever necessary to capture enemy intelligence, equipment or personnel.” James Bond creator, Ian Fleming also created a special unit a commando unit for British Naval […]

Hunting the Hell Portal with L. Ron Hubbard

“It was the dawn of World War II when [Jack] Parsons, who’d also co-founded the missile manufacturing firm Aerojet around the same time as [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory]’s inception, took to the Ordo Templi Orientis….But soon enough the young explosives guru was running with another OTO buck, a young writer named L. Ron. Hubbard. ” […]

RIP, Joe Kubert

Comics creator, educator and founder of The Kubert School, Joe Kubert has died.  The Beat has an obituary.  NPR’s Monkey See has an appreciation with links to many others, including a gallery of Kubert’s comics covers. The New York Times has a slide show including pictures of his workspace and his original art.  Here he […]

Chinese Animation from the 1940s

Princess Iron Fan is the first Chinese animated feature and it stars Monkey, Sun Wu-Kong. The Wan Bros. made it in 1941 in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. LoveHKFilm has more and you can watch it here.  

RIP, Isuzu Yamada

Actress Isuzu Yamada has died. Yamada worked with a range of directors including, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse, Yasujiro Ozu and Kinji Fukasaku. The New York Times has an obituary.  The Gutter remembers her with a scene of her performances as Lady Washizu in Throne of Blood.  

Special Effects Master Eiji Tsuburaya

Just in time for Eiji Tsuburaya’s birthday, here’s a brief video documentary on his career in special effects for films ranging from Godzilla and War of the Gargantuas to Throne of Blood and Chushingura.  

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At the New Republic, B. D. McClay writes about Shirley Jackson and a new collection containing previously unpublished stories and essays by Jackson. “Let Me Tell You, on the other hand, is for the already-converted fan, who will be delighted to read so many new stories and essays. The greatest attraction is the 15 essays, which touch on subjects as diverse as the travails of being married to a book critic (‘book reviewing is just nothing for a healthy young girl to be married to’), Samuel Richardson (‘no small action is consummated in less than ten pages’), poltergeist-bearing postcards (‘I think it is simply too much for any one house to have poltergeists and children’), and clowns.”

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    At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Carol writes about 12 books that vary in reputability and their harrowing nature. They include books by Shirley Jackson, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Herman Melville.

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    Anne Billson has posted a 1985 interview she did with director George Miller (the Mad Max films). Miller talks about many things including Aunty Entity’s probable past as a hero and Max as, in Mel Gibson’s words, “a closet human being.” (Thanks, Matt!)

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    At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic die-offs before, as recently as the previous winter in California and in regular bouts with a deadly bug called the varroa mite since the 1980s. But those die-offs would at least produce bodies pathologists could study. Here, the bees had just disappeared. In the U.K., they called it Mary Celeste syndrome, after the merchant ship discovered off the Azores in 1872 with not a single passenger aboard. The bees hadn’t even scrawled CROATOAN in honey on the door on their way out of the hive.”

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    Andrew Nette has a pair of interesting pieces on pulp you might be interested in. First, he writes about “the New Pulp” and a bit about Fifty Shades of Gray in “Fifty Shades of Pulp.” Then he writes about pulp and literacy and furthering social advancement in “Pulp and Circumstance.”  “Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.”

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    The Projection Booth interviews actor Ed Asner.

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