Cultural Gutter: The Challenge from Beyond

In 1935, Fantasy magazine contracted five of the most popular pulp magazine authors to write a round-robin style story, with each contributing a page or two before passing it on to the next author. On The Cultural Gutter, The Challenge of the Challenge from Beyond looks at how these five accomplished professionals created something about as good…

Alcohol Professor: School for Scoundrels

In an admission that will surprise no one, I’m a big fan of the website Atlas Obscura. And not too long ago, worlds collided when my job working for vice beat for Alcohol Professor led me to the streets of Chinatown after dark to cover Atlas Obscura’s Cheater’s Party: A School for Scoundrels. What follows is…

Alcohol Professor: How Dry I Am

September is Bourbon Heritage Month, and while the idea of limiting my celebration of bourbon to a single month is hilarious, I have never the less chose to honor the month on Alcohol Professor by writing about my old home, Oldham. How Dry I Am is a look at how a dry county came to…

Welcome to Cairowood: A Guide to Egyptian Cinema’s Golden Age

Examples of Egyptian filmmaking date back to the beginning of the 20th century, with Cairo becoming a hub of commercial filmmaking in the Arab world with the introduction of sound. It was there that the country’s first “Hollywood-style” film studio, the well-funded Studio Msr was established in 1936.

The Hourglass Sanatorium

Polish director Wojciech Has harbored no desire to make a political film. But in Poland under Soviet rule, where film promoting social realism was the mandate, not being political was the most political thing he could do.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

A fairytale about a young girl attempting to navigate the many predators surrounding her becomes an allegory for the challenges of womanhood and the trials faced by then Czechoslovakia in the face of Soviet aggression.

Cultural Gutter: Whatever Happened to Saturday Night

I’m celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The world doesn’t need another review of the movie, so Whatever Happened to Saturday Night? is instead a mini-memoir about my first time seeing the movie, at Louisville’s Vogue Theater in 1987

Lady Day on Swing Street

There are few moments more perfect than walking into a dimly lit old bar late at night and hearing a Billie Holiday song, either on the jukebox or being covered by the four-piece in the corner. “These Foolish Things” is practically custom made for sliding onto a stool and ordering an Old Fashioned as you prop your elbows up on the bar and think about lost loves and life’s regrets.

The Return of Captain Invincible

A washed-up, alcoholic superhero must pull himself out of depression and obscurity in order to defeat the villainous Christopher Lee in one of cinema’s first deconstructions of comic book superheroes. It also happens to be a musical.

High Spy: The Espionage Fiction of Adam Diment

In the midst of Swingin’ London, and in stark contrast to James Bond, English author Adam Diment created Philip McAlpine, a reluctant, shaggy-haired, dope-smoking spy in the latest Carnaby Street fashions.

The Pan Am Worldport

In Live and Let Die, the first of Roger Moore’s many James Bond films, 007 arrives in New York via the Pan Am Worldport, one of the great feats of airport architecture.

History of Diving Museum

The History of Diving Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of historical diving equipment.