Archive for October, 2009

Pirouette

Posted in My Poetry with tags , on October 30, 2009 by sethdellinger

Beyond the house, the moon,
cresting the single pine,
is pale with listening
to branches creak, needles

whispering…whispering.
Whispering…whispering…

in the bedroom, I rest
waiting for her return,
my mind whispering, Sleep,
The sun will bring her home.

Seth’s Favorites of 2009: Poetry

Posted in Rant/ Rave, Seth's Favorite Poems (by other people), Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by sethdellinger

Other favorites of 2009:

Television

2009 was a great year for American poetry (I say American because I just tend to prefer American poetry, both historical and contemporary).  And although I wasn’t able to read a great deal of the new stuff, I got my hands on enough of it to create a top five list!

5.  Joel Brouwer, “And So”

Brouwer’s second collection of poetry, “And So”, is filled with some of the best relationship poetry I’ve read in years, not to mention he sticks to my favorite poem length (half to three-quarters of a page), although a few do run longer, but always for brouwer2good reason, and never long enough to get boring or tedious.  For my money, there is at least one absolutely must-read in this collection, and that is Mona Lisa, a masterstroke of a poem in which Brouwer recounts a visit to the Louvre to see the titular painting…or is he recounting a love affair he had?  Or is he addressing the homeless problem?  Or…wait…just what the hell is going on here?  It never feels like trickery, but then again, it never feels simple, either.

4.  Rita Dove’s “Sonata Mulattica”

SonataMulattica I’ve never been much for the poetry of black women (this isn’t racist, people–it’s truly a variety of poetry, and I just plain don’t usually enjoy it), but I’ve never met anyone who could turn away from Rita Dove’s beautiful lyricism, or her unassuming innocence, or her righteous anger.  This year’s addition, “Sonata Mulattica”, did not disappoint, although it certainly wasn’t “more of the same”.  “Mulattica” is a book-length poem following the career of a real-life violin student of Haydn’s.  Sound boring?  It does sound boring.  It is anything but.

3.  Deborah Meadows’ “Goodbye Tissues”

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I admit, I was very suspect of this from the start.  I thought it was going to be “chick lit” poetry, and nothing sounded worse to me than that!  But it got such a rave review in an issue of Poetry magazine early in the year–written by Billy Collins, no less–that I sucked it up and gave it a shot.  And boy am I glad I did!  Meadows is a tremendous new talent, and this collection, despite it’s hokey title, delivers.  What becomes revealed as Meadows works through this patchwork quilt of her life is that she’s not just referring to Kleenex-type tissues, but the bonding-tissues of life, love, and human relationships (and she’s saying goodbye to them!!  Well holy moly!)

2.  Timothy Liu’s “Bending the Mind Around the Dream’s Blown Fuse”

bending_mind First, I’d like to just let everyone know that I once met Timothy Liu, when he came to speak at my college, Shippensburg University.  I was “in” with the chairman of our English department, John Taggart (himself one of the most famous contemporary American poets), so when he’d arrange for other famous poets to visit, I’d sit with him and then before or afterward, he’d usually introduce me to them.  Of course, later I’d look up their work and find out just who it was I’d just me (this process is probably what hooked me on keeping up with contemporary poetry).  Anyway, Liu’s is the only poet Taggart introduced me to who I’m still following, and he gets more and more interesting as the years pass:  he’s gay, he’s Asian-American, and he’s not entirely OK with what that means for him.  But he’s getting amazing at how he expresses that.  I’ve found a great write-up from Publisher’s Weekly that says things better than I can:

Known since the 1990s for his harsh blend of gay eroticism and visionary fervor, Liu (Of Thee I Sing) continues to pursue his high ambitions, from Whitmanesque odes to American jeremiads. This seventh book begins in a scarred and threatening America: “two boys hustling// in Union Square are Clubbed to death/ by a sack of rocks”;  the southwestern desert shows only topographies of tumbleweed snagged on rusted barbs. Yet it soon veers into apparently autobiographical material, its language quieter and more reportorial, its landscapes much friendlier and mostly European—Athens, Rhodes, Edinburgh, Paris. (Most of the middle of the book describes an apparently fruitless search for a lover who disappeared in Greece.) Liu’s philosophical dealings with his own intensely chronicled frustration, and his tense stanzas, recall Frank Bidart, but his vibrant scenes might just as well please admirers of Philip Levine. These lyrics chase and capture insatiable desire, adrift in a sad and hostile world, with the heart’s purloined/ hermeneutics locked inside a box. A poem called simply Bittersweet begins: “Nothing made you disappear// faster than when I asked/ just what was going on// between us.”

1.  Billy Collins’ “Ballistics”

BOOK_Ballistics

It doesn’t get much better than Billy Collins, and any year when Collins releases a new collection is a banner year for American poetry.  To those outside this tiny little hobby:  imagine there was only ONE superstar novelist–like, say, John Grisham–and he only released a novel once every four years.  That’s what it’s like for us poetry fans (no, NONE of us actually like Maya Angelou).  Every collection by Collins is good.  He’s the only poet I have ever read who manages to be funny, tender, insightful, and sorrowful all at the same time. “Ballistics” just builds on his previous material and actually improves upon it:  the funny bits are even funnier, the sad bits even sadder, and the uplifting parts even upliftinger.  My life would suck without Billy Collins.

All Things Considered

Posted in Snippet with tags , , , on October 27, 2009 by sethdellinger

There’s going to be an interesting episode of the NPR show All Things Considered tonight about a guy who just cheated at the national Sudoku champoinships, who may or may not be the same dude who cheated at a national chess championships a few years ago who they never caught.  It’s just an incredibly interesting story.  It airs at 8pm most places.  Stream it here.

Or, perhaps I would be badass exactly like THIS.

Posted in Concert/ Events, Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by sethdellinger

“Black Mission Goggles” by Man Man

The sky is falling like a
sock of cocaine in the
ministry of information.

Subway train’s derailing,
heads decapitating,
catch her reflection and it seems to sing to me,

and i say la-la-la-la.

She’s a warm bodega
high on Noriega
strung out in Brooklyn like it’s 1983!

She wears her legs around her
neck like a piece of ice,
her smile’s a neon marquee. Hipsters eat for free.

And i say la-la-la-la.

I am falling like a
sock of cocaine in the
ministry of information.

I’m a warm bodega
high on Noriega
strung out in Brooklyn cause i fell in love with her!

And I say la-la-la-la.

moon cut moon cuts tiny like eyelash
lonely cat nap whisper lonely cat nap whisper
and I walk around I whisper in her scalp
I whisper on the wind I whisper once again

If I were a badass rock-and-roller, I would be badass exactly like this.

Posted in Concert/ Events, Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , on October 26, 2009 by sethdellinger

“Top Drawer” by Man Man

You need a haircut.
You need a shoeshine.
You need aristocratic
glow-in-the dark erotic magnet.

I know!

You need a moped.
Half-boy half-horse head.
You need a black Cadillac
so death can drive him
or ride in the back

I know!

I am a smoke fire,
scared of holy water!
People claim I’m possessed by the devil,
but Mama, I know, I’m possessed by your daughter.

I know! I’ve been told!
I am dancing through.

I am the top dog, top dog.
Hot dog, hot dog.

You need a new body.
You need a latte.
You need the lingering scent
of holiday men doing hot Pilates.

I know!

You cry wet cement.
You lost accidents.
You wonder where true love went
cause the breeder in your bed don’t butter your bread.

I know!

I am a smoke fire,
scared of holy water!
People claim I’m possessed by your daughter,
but Mama, I know I’m possessed by a problem!

I know! I’ve been told!
I’m passing through.

I’m the top dog, top dog.
Hot dog, hot dog.

Six Picture Sunday, 10/25

Posted in Photography with tags on October 26, 2009 by sethdellinger

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Seth’s Favorites of 2009: Television

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2009 by sethdellinger

May I present to you the first of several year-end wrap-up blogs I will post to attempt to convince myself you all care about my opinions.  First up: television!  Feel free to yell at me in the comments (you will anyway, I may as well invite it).  Notice I’ve finally caved to the pressure and am going to be calling these my “favorites”, not the “best” of 2009.  I hope you’re happy!

#10: Mythbusters

The seventh season of Mythbusters (still in progress) has seen our guys Jamie and Adam quite revitalized, after an admittedly lackluster season 6.  The myths no longer seem forced, and we’ve gotten back into–dare I say it?–good science. Especially exciting were the YouTube special and the duct tape episode.  My favorite Discovery channel show might just have a longer shelf life than I’d thought!

#9:  How I Met Your Mother

Let me address something right up front here that some of you are going to get at me for:  I have not included any of the uber-hip “one camera” sitcoms on my list (The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation).  I DO love these shows.  These shows are very funny and expertly crafted.  But I’ve never felt…I don’t know…close to these shows.  They are hilarious, but their method of filming leaves me a bit cold, at arm’s length, sort of.  And one of the things I need in my comedy is a feeling of comfort laced with a devious amount of “edginess” (asking a lot, I know), and this year, that is what How I Met Your Mother finally managed to do.  HIMYM has always been edgy for a two-camera sitcom, with its over-arching mystery (who is the mother?), its multi-dimensional characters, and its occasionally intellectual jokes. But season 4 ratcheted it up a notch, giving

stock charcter Barney–the token sleazeball–something of a heart, a subplot that never got old, and paid dividends all season long.  And I know I’m not very original when I say this, but Neil Patrick Harris is absolutely amazing, and is one of the best things on television.

#8:  Eureka

This little-seen SyFy network show just keeps getting better.  A quaint but exciting cross between Northern Exposure and The X-Files, season 3 saw Sheriff Carter eureka_promotaking on an interesting, different role in the community, as well as more imaginative, dramatic and–yes–believable phenomena taking place within the town.  Oh, and Carter’s daughter, Zoe?  Yeah–season three practically belongs to her.  And that could never be a bad thing, could it?

#7:  History Detectives

Long the most underrated show on PBS (and hence one of the most underrated on all of television), History Detectives continues, in its seventh season, to be entertaining, informative, and, sometimes, awe-inspiring.  Check it out some time.

#6:  24

Sure, the premise has gotten shaky over the years.  Sure, they’ve really pushed the limits of believability and sometimes even respectability.  But 24 remains a vital show to television, because–if you haven’t watched it–its a lot more than what you think it is, and it’s even a lot more than what is has to be.

24 is not just some serialized action series.  If it were that, I certainly wouldn’t watch it and evangelize it so much.  24 explores current, important, hot-button political issues–without even telling you it’s doing it.  But more impressively than that, 24 explores vital philosophical questions.  In fact, I have seen no better exploration of Utilitarianism in all of popular American culture, ever.  24 has been exploring Utilitarianism for 7 seasons now, and I dare say, has had more to say about it than John Stuart Mill ever did.

Season seven was certainly not the best season, but it was far from the worst, and featured one of the most exciting (though too-brief) set-pieces of the whole series:  a terrorist invasion of the White House (which is incredibly exciting when viewed on the surface level, yet also has alot of say when viewed symbolically or allegorically).  Here’s some of the White House hostage crisis:

#5:  Heroes

Yeah yeah yeah, it had a real crappy Season 2.  And Season 3 started off shaky–in fact, it didn’t even gain its footing till halfway through, when the season changed titles from “Villains” to “Fugitives”.  The “fugitives” half of the season was spellbinding, and finally seemed as though the half-thought crap we’d sat through for a year and a half had all been adding up to this, and all this wayward character development finally had a point.  Consider me impressed.

#4:  Big Love

HBO’s Mormon polygamist drama found some serious legs in Season 3, and those legs have a name:  Harry Dean Stanton.  harry-dean-stanton_081606How this show ever scored the elusive, reclusive, least-famous legendary actor we currently have alive is beyond me, but he’s been the main driving factor behind my continuing to watch this show.  Sure, Bill Paxton’s marital woes as the head of an illegal four-way marriage is interesting and at times spellbinding (and I’m in love with wife #3, Ginnifer Goodwin) and would make for a show to check out occasionally, but it’s Stanton’s creepy, Godfather-esque Roman Grant who makes this show must-watch, and has kept it that way for three seasons now.

#3:  FlashForward

OK, so it’s only aired 5 episodes so far, but it has come out of the gates just swingin’ away.  This show is just utterly captivating and frustrating and dramatic and mind-boggling and emotional and plain-ol’-neat wrapped up into one, and I give big kudos to any show that could do all those things all within 5 episodes, all while making me care about almost all the characters (I could do with less of John Cho’s Agent Noh, who is, in a word, unappealing).  Not only is every episode expertly written and acted, but they feature something rarely found on television: careful and thoughtful use of music.  I can’t wait to see where FlashForward takes us, and even if it derails, I daresay these first 5 episodes are good enough to land it in my #3 spot.

#2:  Dexter

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In all honesty, the full breadth of Dexter is, at times, flimsy.  It can run into cliches and predictibility fairly often, and at times seems to throw a twist at you just for the sake of doing it; more than anything, it suffers from not knowing which reality to reside in: the hyper-real reality the show’s viewers live in, or the somewhat unrealistic world the show has created for itself.  It often flip-flops between these realities on an almost whimsical basis.  And, really, Showtime can’t cough up any more money for the Police Department set?  It looks like Who’s the Boss in there!

So why, you ask, do I love it so damn much?  In a word, Dexter.  The character of Dexter Morgan is so complex, sometimes you wonder if he’s not actually simple. So simple he’s complex.  Ug.  To try to know or understand Dexter (even as a viewer) is like trying to know smoke and mirrors, and that’s why it’s so amazing that the writers of Dexter have managed to make him so likeable, interesting, and watchable.  With every episode, we see a Herculean writing task pulled off, but we don’t feel it as a writing task, we feel we’re getting a little closer to our quirky friend Dexter.

Season three got even more exciting, however, as we watched our friends at Dexter try to change their main character without ruining the premise of the show (which pretty much requires Dexter to remain static), and we watched in awe as they somehow managed to change Dexter in a way which showed he was…unchangeable.  Huh?  I’m still not sure what happened.  I only know it was television magic.

#1:  Lost

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For the past 5 years, there has not been a better show on television than Lost. There has not been one year in the last 5 years in which I have not thought that.  It has everything good dramatic entertainment and art needs.  I won’t go on and on, or say much more:  there’s certainly enough being said about Lost all around us all the time, you don’t need me to fill you in.  If you’ve never seen any, every episode is available streaming, for free, right here.

Honorable mentions:

Season 2 of Californication–Duchovny at his smarmy best

Season2/3 of The Big Bang Theory–More 2-camera sitcom ground-breaking

Season 1/2 of Dollhouse–best parts for females on television since…well, maybe ever, but at least since Roseanne or thirtysomething.

Kings, the four episodes it existed for:  incredibly ambitious, engaging, epic.  Too big for television, I’m afraid.

Full disclosure (shows the critics love which I haven’t seen):

Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Fringe, Weeds, Damages, Monk, In Treatment, Brothers and Sisters, The Closer, Ugly Betty



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