Monday, October 31, 2011



"Only communicates anxiety"

Radio Three's Halloween concert, which you can listen to for a week on line here, supports David's assertion about the limitations of modern musical forms. Or at least some of them... It's called "Disturbia". Pretty spooky, huh? As described:

The BBC Concert Orchestra present a spine-chilling Halloween alternative. Poulenc's La Voix Humaine is a classic psychodrama based on the play of the same name by Jean Cocteau. Soprano Ilona Domnich performs the role of a fragile young woman, thrown into a nightmare as she makes an agonizing last attempt to establish contact with her ex-lover over the telephone.

Penderecki's Polymorphia for 48 string instruments is famed for its use in films 'The Exorcist' and 'The Shining' and evokes nameless terrors. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood presents a 21st-century spin on the work in the UK premiere of his 48 Responses to Polymorphia.

The edgy world of contemporary electronica comes into focus with Aphex Twin's Nannou, as orchestrated by Patrick Nunn, before the audience faces the extreme emotions of Berio's spine-tingling electro-acoustic fantasy Visage. This iconic recording features the disturbing and erotically charged vocal improvisations of Cathy Berberian and was originally banned from the airwaves in Italy.


Taking bets they won't hire Iain Glenn

Their loss.


A Tulkinghorn Holloween


"Strike Back" Strikes Back

Re-runs already?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend listening...


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Not the book we're waiting for...

...but still.


How patterns emerge...

Some authors methodically prepare for the novels they write by researching, planning, visiting locations and assembling material. Others, including me, go about it in a less rational way. The first drafts of my novels evolve rather as a plant grows. Like a gardener, I can do a certain amount to facilitate the process -- to extend the analogy I can prepare the soil, water the seedling and pray for the right sort of weather. But, also like a gardener, I have to accept that there are elements I cannot control. (The rearing of children and the writing of novels have much in common.)
         --Andrew Taylor, "Writing A Stain on the Silence" (2006)


Friday, October 28, 2011

Motion Capture Tintin

Of antiquarian interest perhaps, but to my eyes this seems more successful than the current offering. Certainly cheaper and less pretentious.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grandmaster wisdom

"What was the date?"

"It's in my memory book. April 14, 1945. Why does it matter?"

"Because you can't explode reality. Life hangs together in one piece. Everything is connected with everything else. The problem is to find the connections."

She said with some irony: "That's your mission in life, isn't it? You're not interested in people, you're only interested in the connection between them. Like a--" she searched for an insulting word-- "a plumber."

-- Ross Macdonald. 1965. The Far Side of the Dollar.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Small World Dept.

Posted to Facebook as "the best Diwali scene in Hindi film" by someone Tulk and I went to college with.

See also:


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Best Chinese Meal Ever

The offspring's sense of adventure pays off in food.

Tenchong speciality, guohuo, in the region itself, at the home of fellow TFC fellow Zumei. (Click to enlarge.)



...programs thrillers and horror films.


Politics in Perspective

"According to the White House pool report, Obama first helicoptered to a landing zone in Brentwood and the motorcade made an “off-the-record” visit to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. The president ordered at the counter for himself (and nearby aides) the No. 9 “Country Boy” – 3 wings with choice of waffle, potato salad or French fries ($8.90). He then started chatting with diners. I say who cares if you like Obama’s politics or not: he’s got good taste when it comes to LA’s favorite eats."


Monday, October 24, 2011

"Walking Dead" 2.2

Shuffling through the underbrush.


Andrew Taylor on James Sallis

In The Spectator this week, an appreciation of James Sallis (who wrote the book on which "Drive" was based and who has a new novel out) by the wonderful crime writer Andrew Taylor. Makes me wonder if the relative failure of the movie was a case of pearls and swine. I thought this was interesting:

As a young man, he spent a good deal of time in England at the invitation of Michael Moorcock, who asked him to become the fiction editor of the science fiction magazine, New Worlds. During his time there, the magazine became increasingly experimental and literary, before lurching into bankruptcy.

He began writing, too — surreal, intense short stories. He became something of a linguist: he has published translations from French, Russian and Polish poetry. He is himself a poet, as well as an expert on blues and jazz who has written extensively about music.


Back from Boston

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Strike Back" - Season Finale


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Good, clean writing

From this week's "Castle" episode, about an art theft:

"Somebody stole 'The Fist of Capitalism'? Anyone check up the ass of Socialism?"


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Birthday in China


Like White on Kael


“Perhaps more deeply than any other writer, Kael gave shape to the idea of an ‘age of movies,’” art critic Sanford Schwartz writes in the Library of America collection he edited. “Deeply” is a Kael euphemism; she actively attacked the lofty heights of intellectual pretense. Her style transformed the once staid New Yorker—and culture writing in general.

Kael significantly diverged from the haughtiness of film critic authorities Graham Greene, James Agee and Robert Warshow—men who all harbored mid-20th-century guilt that there were greater, more intellectual pursuits than movies or movie criticism. Kael, no less professional than they were, brandished guilt-free enthusiasm, not because she was illiterate or a vulgar sensationalist but because she was a literate, sensual aesthete who appreciated those qualities in the most kinetic of art forms.
More Kael comments here


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Set Visit


The headline of one of the best Hollywood gossip stories you're likely to encounter this year reads, "Shia LaBeouf and Michael Bay Got in a Really Big Fight Over Feist." To prepare for an emotional scene in Transformers 3, LaBeouf plugged his iPad into a pair of on-set speakers and was vibing to The Reminder ballad "Brandy Alexander" when Bay abruptly shut the song off. Things got heated, "spit [was] flying," and Bay stormed off set. Whatever this incident tells us about Michael Bay (like maybe he's just really impassioned in his opinion that Let It Die was a better record), it tells us even more about where we're currently at, culturally speaking, with Feist. Even among Hollywood titans, she's divisive. She has probably, over the past couple of years, helped an infinite number of jocks and action stars get in touch with their latent emotions ("It's a little feminine," LaBeouf told the Los Angeles Times of "Brandy Alexander", "but it touches me"). But most importantly, the low croon of her honeyed, creaky-door voice has become pop culture shorthand for "the diametrical opposite of what robots blowing shit up sounds like."


Celebrity Tweets (A Headline New to HG)

Actor Michael Gambon, known as Professor Dumbledore from “Harry Potter,” tweeted: “Dear BlackBerry, your networks appear to be going down more often than Katie Price at the moment.” Price is a British model known for a leaked sex tape.
Good actor all the same.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

This sounds like a wonderful movie

Human Centipede 2 (I missed the original, but the sequel sounds better..) One of those reviews that David hates because it makes fun of the movie and its director. But still..... The premise reminds me of Don Quixote, that beginning point of all fiction, in that everybody in Human Centipede 2, just like everybody in part 2 of Don Quixote, has seen the original. Daniel Engberg writes engagingly:

Once you've made a feature film about a lunatic who kidnaps innocent people and then sews together their throats and rectums, how do you raise the stakes? I'll say this for Human Centipede 2: Tom Six has done the impossible. He's created a sequel that's several orders of magnitude more vile, more nihilistic, and more repellant than the original. And he didn't even need to change the premise.

The genius of HC2—you heard me, the genius—lies in the way in which it repurposes the original. Once again, we're following the exploits of a lunatic kidnapper with a fetish for artificially induced digestive continuity. This time, it's a simple-minded parking attendant named Martin who's obsessed with Human Centipede in a film-within-a-film kind of way. He watches it on his laptop, again and again, and takes copious notes for a re-enactment.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Iain Glenn: An Axiom of Premium Cable

Two observations about the aesthetics of TV drama, both prompted by the work of an excellent British actor named Iain Glenn.

The two episode storyline on "Strike Back" in which Glenn plays an international arms dealer is a perfect example of the way this psychologically astute series attempts to braid almost non-stop action adventure heroics together with drama -- though the emotionally squeamish would probably call it melodrama.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Tulkinghorn Coffee

David and I went to Intelligentsia in Pasadena, and I think (even though the coffee was terrific) that he felt like the customers in this video:


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pun of the day

John Podhoretz retweeted a tweet from New York Times reporter Peter Lattman:

The Nobel victory of Tomas Tranströmer has got to be a devastating blow to his archrival, Gerhard Göböt.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How long since you tuned in just for one of these?

Free stream of four songs from album available here. Very nice. ("Understated melodrama"? Never claimed to be a music critic.)


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

George Pelecanos on recent films from Japan, S. Korea and Hong Kong

I first became aware of George Pelecanos, before his first novel was published, as the executive at Circle Films in Washington, DC, who was masterminding the US theatrical distribition of John Woo's "The Killer." He's still on the Asian beat.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Strike Back" Episode 7: Expect the Unexpected

Once more into the breach.


Teach for China

The offspring Facebooks a promo video about the program she's working for in Yunnan. (The province appears in it, but she doesn't.)


The last acceptable bigotry

Used to be religious bigotry -- and with the anti-Mormon rumblings about Romney, religious bigotry seems to be still in style.

But now it's dislike of the fat. Michael Kinsley, a center-left type, lays it out:

Unfortunately, the symbolism of Christie’s weight problem goes way past the issue of obesity itself. It is just a too- perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch. And it’s not just symbolism. We don’t yet know much about Chris Christie. He certainly makes all the right noises about fiscal discipline and seems to have done well so far as governor of New Jersey. Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he got his own under control first.
Jonathan Chait, political blogger at New York magazine responds reasonably:
But why would it help? Why does his weight matter at all? The only real reasoning I see here is that American elites view obesity with disgust, and they’re repulsed at the notion that a very fat guy could rise to a position of symbolic leadership. It’s not a very attractive sentiment.
As for my own opinion, I simply find it another instance of the delight the left finds in abandoning its social principles if justified by political disagreement. (Take a look sometime, if you can stomach it, at the lefty jokes about poor Marcus Bachmann, Michelle Bachmann's effeminate husband.) As often, Megan McArdle at the Atlantic is wisest:
The band (of high and low weight) that your body wants to occupy is no more a sign of virtue than the color of your eyes. Yet people who would be ashamed to argue that Barack Obama should be excluded from the presidency because of the amount of melanin his skin contains, feel no compunction at all in declaring that your genetic predisposition towards adiposity is an intolerable fault.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gotta love him...

Who else thinks, much less writes this way? Armond White on "Moneyball" and "50/50."

Like the moment in "Moneyball" where a guy promises, “I’m going to be praying for you and your family,” and Pitt dismisses him, “No problem,” "50/50" normalizes a new kind of feel-good atheism. Adam’s attraction to his therapist (Anna Kendrick) substitutes religion, faith and thoughts on the hereafter with godless cuteness.
As a sometime fellow-traveler of Catholicism (a more sensuous form of Christianity than the one AW subscribes to, perhaps) I'd be inclined to argue that cuteness, far from being godless, is one of the more plausible proofs of His existence. Not as key as truth, beauty, justice, and like that, but fairly close to the top of the B list.


Essential, seems to me.

This seems definitive...

The Weird: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Three quarters of a million words, 110 short stories and novellas, forward by Michael Moorcock (of course) and afterword by China Mieville (of course). Tediously in tune with my genre interests, I suppose, but I can't help myself. Supposed to be published in a couple of weeks, but the Amazon listing is ambiguous.. A sample of the table of contents. (amused to see "A Town of Cats", which is a story that features in the new Murakami novel.)

Clark Ashton Smith, “Genius Loci,” 1933

Hagiwara Sakutoro, “The Town of Cats,” 1935 (translation, Japan)

Hugh Walpole, “The Tarn,” 1936

Bruno Schulz, “Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass,” 1937 (translation, Poland)

Robert Barbour Johnson, “Far Below,” 1939

Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost,” 1941

Leonora Carrington, “White Rabbits,” 1941

Donald Wollheim, “Mimic,” 1942

Ray Bradbury, “The Crowd,” 1943

William Sansom, “The Long Sheet,” 1944

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph,” 1945 (translation, Argentina)

Olympe Bhely-Quenum, “A Child in the Bush of Ghosts,” 1949 (Benin)

Shirley Jackson, “The Summer People,” 1950

Margaret St. Clair, “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles,” 1951

Robert Bloch, “The Hungry House,” 1951

Augusto Monterroso, “Mister Taylor,” 1952 (new translation by Larry Nolen, Guatemala)

Amos Tutuola, “The Complete Gentleman,” 1952 (Nigeria)

Jerome Bixby, “It’s a Good Life,” 1953

Julio Cortazar, “Axolotl,” 1956 (new translation by Gio Clairval, Argentina)


Good clean writing

From this morning's Wall Street Journal review of "The Outlaw Album", a new collection of short stories by Daniel Woodrell:

Mr. Woodrell encourages readers to discern the blurred outlines of possible motives beneath official facts, and his stories often seem like palimpsests, with the deeds of generations overlapping. The author's gaze is unflinching, whether surveying a trapped farm animal ("the cow screams at me again with those eyes") or a stabbed man's final moments ("the kid's bare feet were slapping the wood floor, slapping down hard like he was clambering to the crest of a hill that wasn't there"). Such stories are not for the squeamish, but in the classical sense they evoke terror and, after a while, pity too.

The Journal's guy on genre fiction is Tom Nolan, who wrote a biography of Ross MacDonald.

In the meantime, for those who look elsewhere for their comforts, Bloomsbury in the UK has released about seventy-five books electronically, mostly all quiet fiction published in the forties and fifties, under the name of Bloomsbury Readers. Half a dozen books by Ivy Compton Burnett and a bunch by V.S. Pritchett, Monica Dickens, Rose Macaulay, and mysteries by H.R.F. Keating.