Archive for December, 2013

Philly Journal, 12/31/13

Posted in Photography with tags , , , , on December 31, 2013 by sethdellinger

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Philly Journal, 12/29/13

Posted in Philly Journal with tags , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2013 by sethdellinger

Four things:

1.  Being in the city of the sports teams I root for continues to get more and more cool.  With tonight’s upcoming Eagles game in Dallas being for the conference title, this city is downright electric.  I just rode my bike home from work (it’s about two hours before kickoff) and boy-howdy…people are out everywhere, and yes, they are drinking, etc, but there is no feeling of impending doom or danger.  There is just this energy in the air, like an uncorked celebration.  Of course, if we lose, it will suck.  But now, this right now, is a great argument in favor of the communal bonding agent that professional sports can be.



2.  One of the things that has surprised me about living in the city (and maybe you won’t find this surprising at all) is just how incredibly hip it makes me feel.  To some of you who’ve lived in cities before and think it’s no big deal, or are just hip as heck all the time anyway, this sentiment may make me seem like a doofus.  And don’t get me wrong: I fully expected to feel hip.  Just not THIS HIP.  It’s not just that I live in the city, but also that I am the store manager of a Starbucks in the city (yes, I’m mentioning it publicly for once).  About once every two days, I’m in the middle of something and I have to stop and think to myself, wow, this is me, doing this right now.  I know I know, I’m talking like I’m a rock star or something, and sure, I’m probably still functioning well below my potential in life, but damn if I don’t think this particular version of my life is something special.

3.  Dear Philadelphia bus riders: why do you stand in the middle of the street all the time, looking off into the distance as though it will make the bus appear?  Do you not see me riding a bike directly at you?

4.  With New Years approaching, and with the fact that I live right in the middle of Mummer country, I am beginning to hear the bands practicing from various buildings as I ride my bike around.  It is a very neat thing to experience.  Just now, as I mentioned earlier I just rode home from work.  It is dark and a bit cold but not frigid, and the night was electric already, and every 3 or 4 blocks the sound of a horn or a fiddle would float out to me from otherwise unassuming buildings.


My Favorite Music of 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2013 by sethdellinger

It is time once again, fair blog readers, for the last remaining “year-end” list that I still do: music.  I’ve been making these lists since 2007, but the first few were on my MySpace blog, which has been destroyed, but you can see past Notes From the Fire music lists here:

Favorite Music of 2009

Favorite Music of 2010

Favorite Music of 2011

Favorite Music of 2012

If you are a person who regularly receives CDs from me in the mail, you’ll be getting a mix disc representing this list.  Don’t get discs from me and want one?  Drop me an e-mail/ text/ blog comment and I’ll send you one.  Oh, and just to be clear, this is my favorite music that was released in 2013, not just the music I loved the most during the year.  That list would look a bit different.

I had to make it a top 11 list, I was unable to take any of these artists off the list.  So, without further ado, in order, the albums I liked most in 2013:

11.  Elvis Costello and The Roots, “Wise Up Ghost”

What seems like an unlikely pairing when you first hear about it turns out to be something that seems like it should have happened all along.  All snarl, no filler.

10.  Editors, “The Weight of Your Love”

These British whiners just keep finding ways to whine that feel like they’re punching you in the goddamn throat.  And they keep building on previous albums and boldly evolving.

9.  Kings of Leon, “Mechanical Bull”

We’re obviously never going back to the shit-kicking jambalaya balling rock of the band’s youth, but this new, outsized punching bag swing will do just fine.

8.  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Push the Sky Away”

An album a little short on excitement, but 100% dripping in atmosphere, as well as what this band does best: the saddest sex songs on Earth.

7.  Deerhunter, “Monomania”

The creepy indie shoegazers are back, and NOT weirder than ever! Bradford Cox and company get a little more structured on this disc, which suits them just fine.  Have four minutes?  Watch this.  All the way through.

6.  Kinski, “Cosy Moments”

The little-known drone-rockers (I just made up that term) get all vocal-y on their best album yet.  Unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

5. “Oblivion” soundtrack by M83

The French electronica duo M83 have here crafted the most jarring, emotionally resonant film score since Hans Zimmer’s “Inception”.

4.  Willis Earl Beal, “Nobody Knows”

Willis Earl Beal

Willis Earl Beal

Probably the most thrilling, humbling, disquieting debut from a solo artist that I have ever been witness to.  Please get on the Willis Earl Beal train.  His music is soulful, disturbing, beautiful, and pummeling.  In addition, he’s a personality with clear potential to ascend to the next level in the cultural zeitgeist.  Get on the train early, you heard it here first.  Plus, watch this.


3.  Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”


Perennially one of my favorite bands, most years this album would have taken my #1 spot, but the competition was stiff this year.  Like their previous outings, “Reflektor” is a true work of artistic genius, both analytical and guttural, not afraid to come at modern topics through academic approaches, and canvassing world music and deep rock history for influences, resulting in a rounded, eclectic-sounding collection of contemplative ass-kickers.

2.  trouble-will-find-me-b-iext21843049 The National, “Trouble Will Find Me”


If I were to, right this moment, make a list of my favorite bands, The National would almost certainly be #1.  Matt Berninger’s wickedly free-associative lyrics uncover profound things within me, and the band’s perfectly balanced approach to squeezing life through a hole in a tomato aligns precisely with my temperament.  This album (the first new one to come out since I became a fan of the band) was no disappointment.  I’ve listened to its melancholy bathtub bleedout tunes hundreds of times this year.  Click here to watch the lyric video I made of my favorite song on the album, “Don’t Swallow the Cap”.  It references the Beatles and Nirvana’s “Nevermind”.  You’ll like it, but listen to it twice in a row.

1.  Man Man, “On Oni Pond”



Man Man are a band like no other.  They are most often termed “experimental”, but some of the more memorable labels that have been adhered to them are “Viking swing”, “carnival rock” and “voodoo funk”.  They must be experienced to be understood.

While I am always excited for a new Man Man album, they have always been more about the live experience for me.  I do believe this is even the first time one of their albums has made one of my year-end lists, let alone topped it.  I was never expecting “On Oni Pond” to blow me away the way it did.

Here the band actually attempts to “mature” while maintaining their signature quirkiness.  It works in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible.  Honus Honus (the moniker lead singer Ryan Kattner goes by) sings in turns about seemingly silly things like “pink wontons” or Wolf Blitzer (in the song “End Boss”) and then turns around and gently reminds us “nobody knows/ where the time goes./  nobody knows” (in “Fangs”).  The combination of calculated buffoonery and genuine affectation left me wanting more, dancing around my living room.


Philly Journal, 12/5/13

Posted in Philly Journal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2013 by sethdellinger

I present to you, my video tour of my house and surrounding neighborhood!  As well as me wearing every Philly-sports-themed Santa hat I own (someone find me a 76ers one).  Yes, that is toothpaste in the corner of my mouth in the intro.  I’m not the sort of man to re-shoot it just because of that, though.




That Old One About the Tree

Posted in My Poetry with tags , on December 4, 2013 by sethdellinger

You know that old one about
the tree, the forest, with nobody around
and how it falls and maybe it makes a sound,
and maybe it doesn’t.  The big thing about that one
isn’t whether there was a sound or if there wasn’t—
you get rid of that question, and the part that haunts
remains.  It is still there in the happening,
the clear crashing there, how it encompasses everyone
condemned to missing it by being out of the
immediate vicinity.  Out of it the way
you’re out of all vicinities but one, all the time,
how you’re missing just about everything falling
and all the sounds they may or not be making.
Till presently you’ve gone out of all vicinities to stay.

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