Cultural Gutter: Understanding the Aliens

Last month on The Cultural Gutter, I wrote about Nalo Hopikinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring the importance of diverse voices and experiences in science fiction. Following that thread, this month I’m looking at one of the grand ladies of science fiction, Octavia Butler, and the first book in her “Xenogenesis” series, Dawn. Understanding the…

The Chairman, The Poet, and The Dancer

West 52nd Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. is today one of those anonymous New York City blocks that seems, at first glance, to offer very little other than the entrances to the Neil Simon and August Wilson theaters that dominate the street.

Shaking Martinis with Nick and Nora

Few things set cocktail aficionados and James Bond enthusiasts against one another with more ferocity than 007’s shaken vodka martinis. But Bond wasn’t the first cinematic drinking icon to prefer his martinis shaken. In an episode of the television show The West Wing, President Josiah “Martin Sheen” Bartlet said “Shaken, not stirred, will get you…

Alexander the Great

The first drink James Bond has in Risico, while meeting with his contact Kristatos, is a Negroni. Risico prominently features one more cocktail, if in a somewhat dismissive fashion. Kristatos identifies himself to Bond at the Hotel Excelsior’s bar with a signal: an Alexander, which amuses 007. “Bond had been told to look for a…

The Least Offensive of the Musical Comedy Drinks

The Americano seems a fairly nondescript drink with which to kick off such a legendary drinking career as that of James Bond, though it’s doubtful that at the time he was writing Casino Royale Ian Fleming was thinking that the Americano would be examined as the drink that started an international phenomenon. Born May 28,…

Popov…Dusan Popov

When journalist and former British Naval Intelligence commander Ian Fleming retired to his modest villa, Goldeneye (“Goldeneye, nose and throat” quipped his neighbor, the entertainer Noel Coward, who was as unimpressed with Fleming’s abode as he was with the fare served to him when he visited) in Jamaica to write his first novel, he didn’t…

James Bond vs. the ’80s

When last we saw James Bond, in 1984’s Role of Honour, we did not part on good terms. It was an awful book in my opinion, with clumsy romance and a tremendously dull plot full of James Bond flipping through manuals about the COBOL programming language before finally ending in an idiotic blimp finale, the…

Cultural Gutter: A Relative Dystopia

Over on The Cultural Gutter, I’m writing about Nalo Hopkinson’s dystopian science fiction novel Brown Girl in the Ring. A Relative Dystopia is a look at how our culture, upbringing, and personal experiences can shape what we define as a dystopian future, and how people of a different race can look at the exact same…

High Adventure and Strange Characters

A Dozen Books that Made Me Who I Am, for Better or for Worse They say if you want to write well, you need to be well-read, and while I may be deficient on a pile of classics and must-reads so vast that it seems hopeless to ever tackle it, I do try to do…

Alcohol Professor: That Whiskey from Indiana

Over at The Alcohol Professor, I talked to Josh Hatton from Single Cask Nation and the Jewish Whiskey Company about their recent bottling of “light whiskey” from Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Distilling. What is light whiskey? How did LDI find itself at the center of all this controversy about fake distilleries and craft whiskey? Oh, It’s that…

Cultural Gutter: Keep Searching

April at The Cultural Gutter is the month we take a break from our usual beat (mine is science fiction) and write about something else. So I wrote about The Search for Weng Weng and how passion for film (or any creative art) can lead to real-life fun and adventure.

Eyes Without a Face

A fan of silent serials and a precursor to the French Nouvelle Vague, Georges Franju was inspired by the early thrillers of Louis Feuillade when he made the haunting, at times shocking, story of a disfigured woman, a driven scientist, and the horror of physical beauty.