Archive for December, 2010

No more air planes, or speed trains, or freeways.

Posted in Prose, Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , on December 31, 2010 by sethdellinger

I’m gonna put my cynic hat on here and say that I just really don’t *get* what is often referred to as “New Years” (despite there only being one of them).

You may be saying to yourself something like, This is probably because you’re a recovering alcoholic and New Years is all about drinking, and I say to you that even as a drinker, I didn’t *get* New Years.  In fact, I never really understood any of the “drinking” holidays, a la St. Patty’s, Cinco de Mayo, etc.  That may be because I was drunk every day, but still.  I don’t get them.

In addition, the New Year’s Eve parties I have been to were exactly like every other party I had ever been to, begging the question, what makes this a New Year’s Eve party?  And that ball dropping in Times Square?  The same every year, and those people crammed into that cold place always look like they’re trying really hard to deny they’re bored.  And cold.

I suppose the main point here is that folks use “New Years”—which I suppose encompasses New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day—as a marker of time’s movement, and as a way to metaphorically “wipe the slate clean” with a fresh start, as well as reflecting on the passing year.  And I suppose that any such heady material undertaken on a mass basis is probably a good thing.  But that’s just not the way I personally function.  I think the idea of a (basically) arbitrary date being used to reflect, start anew, celebrate and generally ponder the state of your life is, well…arbitrary.  I don’t know about you, but I do these things more frequently than once a year.  They happen organically, and I take keen note of them as they happen. “New beginnings” happen when…well, when things begin, not with some date.  I reflect on the passing markers of time in my life when…well, when they pass.  Reflection, introspection, and the subsequent celebrations of the positive or changes to correct the negatives are an ongoing part of my life (don’t get me started on the phony uselessness of New Years Resolutions).  I suspect that most people are like me, like I just described.  Yet we continue to pretend that turning over this new calendar is somehow a useful, important, symbolic moment for us.  And I’m sorry to sound cynical, but it just isn’t.

I do not see the need to be nudged into contemplation and celebration by a date.

(I guess I must be a tad cynical to type out such a blog, but I thought…why not actually type what I’m thinking?  I never claimed to be an over-the-top optimist.  Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m sad.  As the great Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” )

Also, here is an amazing song by Death Cab For Cutie called “The New Year”, which contains both my cynical feelings about the day itself, and my feelings that life, in general, is completely amazing:

The New Year
by Death Cab For Cutie

So this is the new year,
and i don’t feel any different.
The clanking of crystal,
explosions off in the distance.

So this is the new year
and I have no resolutions.
No self-assigned penance
for problems with easy solutions.

So everybody put your best suit or dress on.
Let’s make believe that we are wealthy for just this once.
Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
as thirty dialogs bleed into one.

I wish the world was flat like the old days,
and I could travel just by folding a map.
No more airplanes, or speed trains, or freeways.
There’d be no distance that could hold us back.

Seth’s Favorite Poems

Posted in Seth's Favorite Poems (by other people) with tags , on December 30, 2010 by sethdellinger

Poetry
by Marianne Moore

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
unintelligible,
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf
under
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that
feels a
flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician–
nor is it valid
to discriminate against ‘business documents and

school-books’; all these phenomena are important. One must
make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
‘literalists of
the imagination’–above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them’, shall
we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry.

Wednesday’s Picture

Posted in Photography with tags , , on December 29, 2010 by sethdellinger

Monday’s Song, “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service

Posted in Monday's Song with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by sethdellinger

We Will Become Silhouettes
by The Postal Service

I’ve got a cupboard with cans of food,
filtered water, and pictures of you
and I’m not coming out until this is all over.
And I’m looking through the glass
where the light bends at the cracks
and I’m screaming at the top of my lungs,
pretending the echoes belong to someone,
someone I used to know.

And we become silhouettes when our bodies finally go.

I wanted to walk through the empty streets
and feel something constant under my feet,
but all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors,
because the air outside will make
our cells divide at an alarming rate
until our shells simply cannot hold
all our insides in
and that’s when we’ll explode
(and it won’t be a pretty sight).

And we’ll become silhouettes when our bodies finally go.

Audio Poem, “Like it Always Has”

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , on December 26, 2010 by sethdellinger

Year Written: 2005
Collection: The Loosing of Clocks

Like it Always Has

The dog runs away when I come near,
like it always has.
Off to the garage somewhere,
or to nose around in the garden,
maybe.
The skinny gray cat, however,
allows me to stroke him.
I like the cat, with his rough,
sandpaper coat and vibrating
contentment.
The cat meets my gaze with honesty,
commiserating over the heat,
the long days,
and the loud cars
which are ceaseless.

The house towers above us,
is taller than even our cars.
It is lit up like a ballroom,
and tonight it promises
to keep all wild things out,
like it always has.

A view of Lake Erie in the process of freezing

Posted in Snippet, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 25, 2010 by sethdellinger

50 More Things from 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2010 by sethdellinger

Due to the severe limitations of “top ten lists”, as well as the sheer amount of crap I love each year, I’ve decided to institute this general list of 50 things I plain-old loved in 2010.  Most will be things that did not appear on my music or movies list, as well as things created, released, or performed in 2010, but I’m not going to limit myself with actual ground rules.  Here are, quite simply, in no particular order, 50 things I loved in 2010:

50.  The New York Times

Hear hear for a newspaper that still dares to have sections devoted to important things like science, business, and art.  I’ve found it difficult to spend less than two hours on a copy—even on a day like Tuesday.

49.  Red Bull Cola

It will probably be a short-lived experiment, but the delicious and almost-natural cola from Red Bull was a tasty shot of adrenaline (even if it was overpriced).

48Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson in “The Other Guys”. 

The movie itself may have been lacking, but these two good sports’ 5 minutes of screen time made the enterprise worth the price of admission.

47.  “Dancing with the Stars”

For awhile, I hated myself for this guilty pleasure, until I realized it was actually genuinely compelling television.  Cynical hipster naysayers need to actually watch a season (I should know–I am a cynical hipster naysayer)

46.  The segment on NPR’s “Whad’Ya Know? with Michael Feldman” where they listed fake WikiLeaks

Far and away the most I’ve ever laughed at the radio.

45.  The new Ansel Adams photographs

Whether or not they are actually Ansel Adams’ is still in dispute—but they’re terrific photographs anyway

44.  This.

43.  “8: The Mormon Proposition”

The documentary that reveals (gasp!) how Prop 8 was engineered by the institution of the Mormon church.  Enraging, and engaging.

42.  VEVO on YouTube

Sure, this music channel on YouTube is 100% a corporate whore, but my year has been exponentially enhanced by concert footage of my favorite bands not shot by a drunk frat boy with a first generation iPhone.

41.  James Franco’s “Palo Alto”

Franco’s collection of short stories is good—real good.

40.  James Franco on “General Hospital”

Yeah, it’s on before I leave for work, so sue me if I watch it every now and then!  Franco’s performance as–ahem–Franco was an over-the-top piece of performance art so nuanced (with nods to the real-world oddity of James Franco being on a soap opera) that I often found myself stunned something so lovely and sophisticated was happening on American daytime television.

39.  James Franco in “127 Hours”

Portraying a not-so-likeable man within a bare-bones script who also has to cut off his own arm, Franco manages to make us like him, and makes us want to be better people, too.

38.  James Franco’s art opening in New York

James Franco opened a gallery exhibit of his art in New York this year, and although not all of it is great, some of it is incredible, and it’s all very valid.  To imagine a Hollywood star opening an art show he says–out loud–is about the “sexual confusion of adolescence” makes me think we may be living in a culture with, well…culture.  See some of the art here

37.  James Franco in “Howl”

So, the movie kinda stinks, but Franco hits an underappreciated home run as the poet Allen Ginsburg, an unlikeable, grizzly gay man with so many conflicting character traits, it’s an amazing juggling act Franco had to do–and a bona fide joy to see.  Also, John Hamm is in the movie, too!

36.  Salvation Army Stores

Thanks to this discovery, the visual palette that is me (it seems absurd to call what I have a “fashion sense”) is evolving for the first time in a decade.  (read: more sweaters)

35.  Joel Stein’s column in TIME magazine

The most self-absorbed man in the newsmagazine business continues to get funnier, even as his subjects get more serious.  Every week, I’m sure he’ll be arrested.

34.  The Mac Wrap at McDonalds

I seem to be the only human alive not disgusted by this, either literally, morally, or some other, more etheral way.  But I’m not disgusted.  I’m delighted.

33.  “Gimme Shelter” performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony by U2, Mick Jagger, and Fergie.

Rock and roll heaven.  An absolute orgasm.  And I don’t even like U2!

32.  The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Because even republicans want to get into Heaven.

31.  Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom”

Franzen is this generation’s Hemingway.  And “Freedom” is his “A Farewell to Arms”.  Read it.  Just do it.

30.  The March to Restore Sanity

I wasn’t there, and I didn’t see a lot of it, but I love it anyway.

29.  The “LOST” finale

It’s much debated, but I was never an “I need answers to X, Y, and Z, and I need them freaking spelled out for me” kinda guy.  I didn’t have LOST theories.  I work more by “feel”.  And the finale certainly felt right.  I still cry, every time.

28.  The “twist” ending of “Remember Me”

Everybody hates it.  I love it.  What’s new?

27.  The Chilean miners

Seriously?  This story was too good to be true.  If they made this movie and it was fictional, you’d be all like “No way this would happen like this.”  Just an unbelievable story.  The rare event of real news being real entertaining–and then uplifting.

26.  John Updike’s “Endpoint”

Sadly, this posthumous collection is the last poetry that will ever be released by Mr. Updike.  Luckily, it’s amazing (but, also, terribly terribly sad.)

25.  “The Good Wife” on CBS

I’ve just discovered it, so I have to get caught up, but it is tickling me.

24.  Seeing Art Speigelman give a talk at Dickinson University

Seeing the legendary literary graphic novelist give a highly entertaining and informative talk was one of the live event highlights of my year, and nobody had a guitar.

23.  My super-secret crush, The View‘s Sherri Shepard.

I will do unspeakble things to this woman.  In the good way.

22.  Mila Kunis and–yes–James Franco in “Date Night”

See #48 and substitute these actor’s names.

21.  The comeback of The Atlantic

One of the oldest and most respected magazines in the world revamps itself and somehow does not end up sucking.  In fact, it’s now better than ever, and just announced a profit for the first time in a decade.  And thankfully, it is somehow still completely pompous.

20.  Michael Vick

I sure know when to get back into Philadelphia sports, don’t I???  I simply love this real-life tale of redemption; if I didn’t believe in second chances, my own life would probably look a little bit different.

19.  This.

18.  TurningArt

The Netflix-like service provides you with rotating art prints (and a neato frame).  Sure, they don’t do much but hang there, but it’s a great way to explore what you like and don’t like about art.  It’s interesting to find how your relationship with a piece of art changes as it hangs in your home; much different than seeing it for 5 minutes in a gallery.

17.  Dogs

Still the best thing going.

16.  “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”

Fallon has really hit a stride that is pure magic.  Sure, he’s not breaking new ground like his competition Craig Ferguson (who’s got a bit of briliiance working, as well), but Fallon’s show works miracles within a formula.  Delicious.

15.  The Fusco Brothers

The smartest, funniest comic strip in (or probably NOT in) your local newspaper just keeps getting funnier.  And smarter.  And harder to find.

14.  BuyBack$

A store that is just cheap, used DVDs, CDs, and Blu-Rays?  Yeah.  I’m kinda all over that.

13.  The re-release of new-age symhony In C.

Composer Terry Riley’s experimental, semi-electronic classical piece In C was re-released on CD this year, and it is just as addictive as when I first owned it back in high school.  Shades of just about all my current favorite artists can be heard in this breakthrough work.

12.  Cherry Crush

Because it’s fucking delicious.

11.  “What Up With That?” sketches on Saturday Night Live

This is by far the most enjoyable recurring sketch on SNL I’ve seen in years.  It has a concrete element of the absurd, and a perfect setting for uproarious celebrity cameos.  And Keenan Thompson is a genius, I don’t care what you say!  Click here for a selection of this year’s What Up With That’s on Hulu.

10.  Roles For Women

There’s still not nearly enough meaty roles for women in movies—Hollywood, indie, or otherwise—but this year saw a few choicer roles than before, thanks to dandy’s like “The Kids Are All Right”, “Please Give”, and “Secretariat”.

9.  Dan Simmons’ “The Terror”

One of the most interesting, and also more difficult, novels I’ve ever read.  Simmons’ explorers-trapped-in-icelocked-ships-being-terrorized-by-unseen-monsters-yet-also-slightly-based-on-historical-fact-of-Franklin’s-lost-expedition has got to be the world’s first historical fiction gothic horror novel.  And it scared the shit out of me.

8.  Cleveland

It really does rock.

7.  slate.com

The one-time almost-sad story of an great website gone bad is now a must-read internet newsmagazine.  I have it set as my homepage.

6.  Blu-Ray discs in Reboxes

Hey thanks.

5.  The first fight scene in “The Book of Eli”, where Denzel cuts that dude’s hand off.

OK, so the rest of the movie is kinda hum-drum, but that knife scene by the underpass with above-mentioned amputation is pure badass movie magic.

4.  Free concerts in the square in downtown Buffalo

I got a free front-row Ed Kowalczyk show, courtesy of the city of Buffalo, in a very attractive, quaint little square with a big statue of some dude (Mr. Buffalo?) in the center.  Can’t wait to see next year’s schedule!

3.  Katie Couric doing CBS’s Evening News

I just plain trust her.  A throwback to old-school news.

2.  The poster for The National’s album “High Violet”.

Good art and good music, all affordable?  Sign me up.  Check out the poster here.

1.  “The Expendables”

The movie was pretty bad, but I’d watch these guys pop popcorn.

 

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