Friday, March 27, 2009

Tulkinghorn reads Betsy Sharkey (so you don't have to)

I know she's a friend of many -- and that she's reputed to be a good editor -- but what is it with the endless sentences? Proust, perhaps, or Faulkner, maybe, but Sharkey? If I posted these here under my own name, Generic would change them. Or at least want to.

From this morning's paper:

What does it say about the current state of cinema that " Monsters vs. Aliens," animated in a '50s retro style, albeit with an assist from the latest in 3-D technology, and aimed roughly at the under-12 set, turns out to be the movie making one of the strongest statements about female empowerment out there today?

and this:

The film also creates one of the most endearing characters around, and frankly one of the best roles for slacker guys this year, in Seth Rogen's B.O.B., a sweetly optimistic and slightly slow (and I mean that in every way you might imagine) blob of gelatinous blue something, with a single eye and no brain -- and he's better for it, especially the brain part.

and my favorite:

Meanwhile, it's surprisingly satisfying to watch Susan and the boys take on a giant robot, an evil alien lord in the form of the many-tentacled purple Rainn (as in Wilson) named Galaxhar, the military (yet again, it cannot be trusted), the media and self-esteem (Susan's needs bolstering, her fiancé Derek's -- played by Paul Rudd -- needs puncturing) for the good of all man- and woman-kind.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tulkinghorn on The Age of Wonder

I have read and reread Richard Holmes's biography of Coleridge (Link is to volume 1) with delight and something like awe of his skill at creating character and plot. And his short book about the relationship between Dr. Johnson and the rakehell poet Richard Savage is touching -- especially for a cranky guy with a fondness for bohemia. (Amazon browsers beware: There is a military historian named Richard Holmes who is prolific and who is not the same guy.)

There's a new book "The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science", which is not published here yet but which is available here. Joseph Banks, William Herschel, Mary Shelley, Keats: vistas of an intelligentsia capable of integrating philosophy, experimental science, and poetry.

Lots of quotable quotes. One of my favorites so far comes from Coleridge, the perfect Romantic, describing a walk he took with his father when he was eight:

He told me the names of the stars - and how Jupiter was a thousand times larger than our world -- and that the other twinkling stars were Suns that had worlds rolling around them -- & when I came home, he showed me how they rolled round. I heard him with profound delight & admiration: but without the least mixture of Wonder or incredulity. For from my early reading of Faery Tales, & Genii etc etc -- my mind had been habituated to the vast.

Habituated to the vast..... Reading that phrase has made me happy all week.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Tulkinghorn finds a happy man

Yellowbacks were the Victorian version of mass-market paperbacks, cheaply-printed, garish, sold at railroad stations. I've attached a picture of a couple...

Reading about yellowbacks (hat tip to the Caustic Cover Critic), I came upon this description on Abebooks of a man who, I am certain, is very very happy:

Dr. Chester W. Topp is the world’s top authority on Yellowbacks. Now 92, Topp is a former professor of mathematics at Cleveland State University and has written extensively about them. He also owns one of the world’s finest collections of Yellowbacks.

“My study is filled with them,” he laughs. “My living room is filled with them, two upstairs bedrooms are filled with them and they are in the basement too. Michael Sadleir’s book in two volumes (XIX Century Fiction, A Bibliographical Record Based on His Own Collection) got me interested in yellowbacks more than 40 years ago. I was already a collector of Anthony Trollope at that time. I don’t know how many Yellowbacks I have - perhaps 2,000 and if you include all my Victorian paperbacks then I probably have around 5,000 books.”

Topp – whose son Bob runs The Hermitage Bookshop in Denver – has written nine volumes of bibliography on Yellowbacks......


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tulkinghorn approves of Jay Leno, anti-populist

During his conversation just with the President, Leno said:

"If the government decides they don't like a guy, all of the sudden hey we're going to tax you, and, boom, and it passes, that's seems a little scary. It was frightening to me as an American that Congress or whoever could decide I don't like that group, let's pass a law and tax them 90 percent."

I also approve of the "Gossip Girl" joke that Obama told this afternoon in Costa Mesa...


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Previously on "Charbiis"

Dammit, Go Joe!

Slumdog Star To Team With 24's Jack Bauer 18 March 2009 12:20 PM, PDT | From | See recent WENN news

Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor will take on terrorists for his next role, in hit TV drama 24.

Bollywood icon Kapoor will reportedly play an Indian counter-terrorist cop who teams up with Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer in the eighth season of the long-running programme, which is due to start shooting in April.

A source tells the National Enquirer, "Anil would play Jack Bauer's counterpart in India.

"It's not known yet whether Anil will appear in just one episode of whether he'll be a recurring character. Either way the producers are very excited about having him onboard."

In Slumdog Millionaire, Kapoor, 49, played the evil host in the Indian version of gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?


The Gospel According to St. Pauline

Kael might have been talking about Sontag when she wrote, "I don't trust critics who say they care only for the highest and the best; it's an inhuman position, and I don't believe them." Her own appetite for what she called trash was, according to her, half of what made her (and makes each one of us) a critic. "I think the sense of feeling qualified to praise and complain in the same breath is part of our feeling that movies belong to us," she wrote. "Going to the movies was more satisfying than what the schools had taught us was art. We responded totally-which often meant contemptuously, wanting more, wanting movies to be better." Next to Kael's catholicity, Sontag's high-mindedness-her horror of the vulgar and the low-makes her look thin-skinned and finicky, a kind of modernist Margaret Dumont.

-- Seligman, Craig. 2004. Sontag and Kael: Opposites Attract Me. New York: Counterpoint.


Tulkinghorn Breaks a Rule

"No politics" is not really a rule: just recognition that my political views are right wing enough by the standards of my community to screw up any number of virtual relationships (as they have more than one non-virtual relationship) .

I did enjoy this expression of common sense from Megan McArdle, an economics blogger for The Atlantic. Think of it as radical moderation. She's discussing a number of income flattening tax proposals put forth by an admittedly 'angry and bitter' writer for the New York Times:

I'm not angry and bitter; I'm about as mad as I am at the prospect of people who bought homes they can't really afford getting a bailout while I continue renting--which is to say, not very. Life is rather too short to spend it getting angry at remote strangers.

I also liked this:

Seizing back the AIG bonuses has interesting implications for the banks that have already taken government funds, and certainly, any banks that might be considering doing so in the future. I suspect it would be hard to write a specific tax that applied only to AIG and not, say, to Citibank--and that's assuming that the Democrats in Congress would want to. I think it's safe to assume that if this passes, any banks that possibly can will rush to return bailout funds to the Treasury. And perhaps this is a good thing. But the attempt to shield shaky banks behind a general distribution of funds will be over.

I suspect that it would also not do any good things for whatever future plans Treasury has. All of the plans I'm currently aware of involve substantial voluntary participation from sound financial institutions. I don't think you'll get much voluntary cooperation from banks if you declare that any acceptance of government funds will involve substantial risk that they will appropriate your paycheck.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Tulkinghorn discovers the secret to anti-cool

Roger Scruton carries the anti-cool gene, and with an instinct for contrarian ideas has just written a short book about beauty.

He gives a taste in this morning's Times:

This search for aesthetic order is not just a luxury; it is essential to life in society. It is one way in which we send out signals of humility, and show that we are not just animals foraging for our needs but civilised beings who wish to live at peace with our neighbours. That is why we adopt dress codes; it is why we are guided by taste in our language, in our gestures and in our ways of looking at other people and inviting them into our lives.

Beauty is not popular among professional architects, just as the pursuit of beauty is not popular among visual artists: it suggests costly sacrifices, and a scaling down of pretentions for the sake of people whom they don't need to know. But the controversy over modern architecture remains real and important: for it reflects the need of ordinary people that appearances be respected, so that the place where they find themselves can also be shared as a home.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tulkinghorn takes a vacation from seedy noir

From the Guardian, the wonderfully named Camilla Läckberg gives her list of the ten best Swedish crime novels, including this one: Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson, which seems to be about a female tax attorney....


Deep Thoughts

A couple of tiny observations in lieu of a real post:

A little-remarked phenomenon of our time is the ill-advised Netflix impulse rental. Typical trajectory for me: crushing on a striking actress on some TV show, then digging around on NF for something of hers that's R-rated. You can take it from there.

A fact about writing that just popped into my head today: cutting is pruning. A gardener removes weeds but also some perfectly fine flowers, so that the very best ones can be seen more clearly. This one belongs in the "Well, duh!" column.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This, if not cooler, is right up there

Two more Bolaño novels.


Tulkinghorn Imagines Something Cooler:

Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter,and Miles Davis in 1964:

I do think that the sillier objections to bop and post bop can be met by watching as well as listening.


Tukinghorn reads Ansible. And you?

Ansible is a one person SF fan site,written by a guy named Dave Langford: an evolution of a multiple-Hugo-award- winning fanzine that has been published monthly since 1979 (!) Always worth a look. He mentions something about Vernor Vinge that has bothered me for a while....

Vernor Vinge has been quietly airbrushed out of history, as far as the San Francisco Chronicle is concerned: 'Singularity University, which will be housed on the NASA Ames base near Mountain View and begin classes in June, is the brainchild of Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis. [...] At the core of the university's mission is Kurzweil's theory of "Technological Singularity," which theorizes that a number of exponentially growing technologies -- such as nanotechnology and biotechnology -- will massively increase human intelligence over the next two decades and fundamentally reshape the future of humanity. In his 2005 book, "The Singularity is Near," Kurzweil famously predicted that artificial intelligence would soon allow machines to improve themselves with unforeseeable consequences.' (3 February) [DB] No mere science fiction writer could have conceived such wonders. Especially not in the 1980s.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hard to imagine anything cooler




HOLLYWOOD, CA, March 10, 2008 – The 7th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announces its salute to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE star and Bollywood legend Anil Kapoor. IFFLA also announces YES MADAM, SIR will highlight the Closing Night Gala with Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest ranking woman officer of the Indian Police Service, attending as a special Guest of Honor on Sunday, April 26. The film festival will be held April 21-26, 2009, at ArcLight Hollywood.

The salute to Kapoor will include screenings of his classic films LAMHE (1991) and VIRASAT (1997) as well as the world premiere of the English language version of GANDHI, MY FATHER (2007). Kapoor produced the film, which explores the cost Mahatma Gandhi’s own family bore due to his efforts to free the nation of India.

Kapoor first appeared on the big screen in HAMHARE TUMHARE in 1979. His first lead role followed four years later in the film WHO 7 DIN (1983). Kapoor has appeared in over 100 movies including LAMHE and VIRASAT, prior to his signature turn as the dynamic game show host, ‘Prem Kumar’ in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Other notable titles include CHAMELI KI SHAADI (1986), MR. INDIA (1987), RAM LAKHAN (1989), EESHWAR (1989), TAAL (1999) and PUKAR (2000). Upcoming films include the action thriller RACE 2.

Kapoor said, "I am thrilled to be a part of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and honored that they have chosen to include my work as an actor and producer. With the incredible success of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, the timing could not be better. I feel as though I have come full circle. In November, I attended the AFI FEST premiere of Slumdog Millionaire at the ArcLight Theatre. Now, some five months later, I am humbled and honored that my work as an actor and filmmaker has been chosen to receive such a fantastic tribute at the same venue."

Directed by Megan Doneman, YES MADAM, SIR profiles Dr. Kiran Bedi, the first woman to join the Indian Police Service and a controversial and inspiring figure in India. A former professional athlete with interests in social issues, Dr. Bedi’s career has been marked by moments of physical courage, institutional innovation, and patriarchal prejudices. From fighting back Sikh extremists, modernizing the notorious Tihar Jail, and reforming the corrupt Police Training Academy, Dr. Bedi’s work has been celebrated around the world and vilified by those threatened by a woman’s success in a male dominated field. She has worked with the United Nations as the Police Advisor to the Secretary General, in the Department of Peace Keeping Operations. In addition, Dr. Bedi has represented India at international forums on crime prevention, drug abuse, police and prison reforms and women’s issues.

Doneman lived with Dr. Bedi on and off for six years, gaining unparalleled access to her subject. Narrated by Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, Doneman’s film recently won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Adelaide International Film Festival as well as Best Documentary and the Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. It will be the first documentary to receive Gala presentation at IFFLA - introduces audiences to Dr. Bedi’s extraordinary, path-breaking life and work.

Dr. Kiran Bedi will attend the film festival as IFFLA’s Guest of Honor and join Donerman for a Q&A after the gala screening.

Donerman said, "After filming India's modern-day Gandhi and national heroine, Kiran Bedi's life story for six years, I am truly honored to be invited to close the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles with the finished film, YES MADAM, SIR. Both Kiran Bedi and I are excited to attend the red carpet Gala event".

IFFLA Festival Director Christina Marouda said, “We couldn’t be more proud and excited to shine the spotlight on such striking and dynamic figures as Anil Kapoor and Dr. Kiran Bedi. Kapoor is an accomplished artist and ambassador for the Indian filmmaking community and Dr. Bedi is an absolute inspiration for women around the world. We are honored to place them both front and center at IFFLA this year.”

Hosted by Malibu Family Wines with Chakra Cuisine providing its celebrated authentic dishes reinventing classic Indian cuisine for the most sophisticated palate, the Closing Night Gala will feature a performance by Project Pulse, a Bay Area based performing arts company known for creating expressive sequences fusing Bollywood, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip-Hop, and Contemporary dance into their performances.

For further information on the Festival, please visit

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films, honoring entertainment industry business executives and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora.

Grand Sponsors
Chakra Cuisine, Malibu Family Wines, Raskin Peter Rubin & Simon (RPRS), Wells Fargo

Major Sponsors
Deluxe Labs, Entertainment Partners, Final Draft, GloboSat Entertainment Networks, Lufthansa, Nickelodeon, Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, Prime Focus, Western Liquors

Media Sponsors
Amoeba, Backstage, The Hollywood Reporter, India Journal, India West, LA 18/KSCI-TV, Screen International, Sony Max, Variety


Friday, March 6, 2009

White rocks

Via 2 Blowhards, a pithy profile of Armond White, an American movie critic who is still worth reading, or perhaps the only.

“We always went to the movies, every Saturday at least,” White says. “I used to love to see stuff like The Long, Hot Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. To me, this was a window into the adult world. Now people watch movies so they can stay kids, which proves how infantilized the culture is.


I knew I was different … Our parents raised us Baptist, then they got saved and became Pentecostal. There was always a lot of religion around. It had a big effect on me. I’m a believer. I think God is the force for ultimate good in the universe. He made the movies, didn’t he? If you cut me open, that’s what you’d find: the movies, Bible verses, and Motown lyrics.”


Despite his occasional soft-on-Bushism (and less-than- triumphalist celebration of Obama), it is his belief in “core values … the stuff I was brought up with” that is responsible for his reputation as “a hard-ass conservative,” White supposes—a characterization he rejects as a “smug and typical” reaction on the part of knee-jerk liberal readers and colleagues alike.
Here's White on Watchmen.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

The sort of thing we all used to be able to find time for...

Read it and sniffle.


From GoJoe: Johnny To's latest

Johnny Hallyday in Hong Kong!


Who will watch "Watchmen"?: Tulkinghorn did.

In brief: Awful. Not Heaven's Gate or Matrix Reloaded awful, but why-did-they-work-so-hard-when-they-must-have-known-how-bad-it-was awful. Unless you're interested in coming up with opinions about movies instead of watching movies (see below), I suggest that Michael Holroyd's biography of Bernard Shaw will, on any page, make you happier than the entire eight hours -- subjective time -- of this one.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

T'Horn on criticism and joy

Saw this quote from Harold Clurman on Teachout's blog today. Explains a lot about my reaction to some people I know -- not the host here, who's made of better stuff -- who gobble culture and retail their opinions... They are irritatingly free of delight.

"An audience aware of the importance of its own opinion can be dangerous. An audience that seeks above all to have an opinion--and to parade it--is a menace. The audience that believes that one goes to the theatre to form an opinion--that opinion is what the theatre aims to create--is destructive of all real values in the theatre even when its opinion is favorable. The theatre is a place for experience rather than for judgment. An audience's merit is its capacity to feel rather than its disposition to hold court."


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tulkinghorn College: Esse Quam Videri

It's the motto for about a zillion colleges....

"To be rather than to seem"

Close enough to "He doesn't look cool, he is cool." Don't think there's a Latin equivalent to the idiomatic English "You look great..." The play on words is obvious enough that it almost certainly doesn't have an author.

Goes back to Aeschylus, according to Wikipedia.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Tulkinghorn breaths a sigh

It may surprise some, but I have more than a causal interest in The CW Network. Imagine my delight when I saw this. Rescued by a new business model....

(By) focusing on programs with strong off-net and international appeal, The CW—under entertainment President Dawn Ostroff and Chief Operating Officer John Maatta—has turned into something of a moneymaking machine for the studio units of parent companies Time Warner and CBS Corp.
That has allowed the two conglomerates to stick by The CW, even if the network itself is not yet profitable on a stand-alone basis and although its overall Nielsen numbers remain small.

“We no longer receive questions from the creative community (or) from the advertisers (about the future of The CW),” said Bruce Rosenblum, president of the Warner Bros. Television Group. “I think the built-in assumption and the expectation is that The CW is here to stay.”.........

“It’s a really synergistic relationship,” explained Nancy Tellem, president of the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group. “From a studio standpoint, when we look at the whole organism of both the studio and the network, The (CW) has been incredibly beneficial. From out of the gate, it’s been very profitable for the studios. … The value of the network is not just simply based on the relationship with advertisers but the assets that you’re building on the network platform.”


How Tulkinghorn stays calm

The page linked here: midi files of the brief electronic tunes that precede announcements on Japanese trains. Charming, old-fashioned, and retro-modern. Twenty-first century meets the eighteenth. Check out "Tohoku"...

Is there a way to use these for ringtones?


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ken Bruen

In response to this.

Newton Thornberg. Cutter and Bone.

Do yourself a favor, get down to Murder One on Charing Cross Road, buy it. You'll get a trace of who I am, where I'm coming from.

See all that Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie stuff on your shelf, all those wanna-be Booker Prize contenders gathering dust, all that earnest shit:


Get real, buddy.

You wanna know how the world works, get Andrew Vachss.

Not intellectual enough?

Get James Sallis, he'll fry your cells. Or for downright metaphysical, Paul Auster.

Crime writing, bro, it's the new rock 'n' roll.

--Ken Bruen, Calibre (2006)