Archive for television

Sea of Ice

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2016 by sethdellinger

Famous people I know I would be good friends with if we ever got to know each other:

–Werner Herzog
–Kiefer Sutherland
–Anderson Cooper
–Emily Wells
–Dave Eggers
–Joaquin Phoenix
–Rachel Maddow
–Adam Savage

Oh hey, Karla and I were in line at a store last week.  We were next to be rung out.  We were standing kind of arm-in-arm.   We looked at each other and gave each other two or three quick, successive peck kisses.  The man behind the register threw his arms up in the air and bellowed, “FOLKS!  There’s other people here,” at which point he motioned to the other people in line behind us.  Then he said something along the lines of “Stop that” although I can’t remember his exact wording there.  We were flabbergasted!!  We hadn’t even been close to making out or kissing in any excessive way–whatever that would be!  It’s fair to say my anger was intense.  Karla pointedly asked the man behind us, “Were you offended?” and he said “I’m too tired to be offended.”  We were silent while he rang up our items.  As we walked out I said a very mean thing to him, which I do not feel bad about.

Oh hey, watch this video of Kay Ryan reading her poem “The Turtle”.  I mean wow.  “Her only levity is patience,/ the sport of truly chastened things.”

 

It’s not something you really wanna think about very much, but what songs would you want played at your funeral?  I actually used to think about this a lot, back when I was much more sad all the time, but even now the topic will cross my mind every few months.  Naturally my selections have varied wildly as time goes on and my tastes changed.  For many years I held tightly onto “Light Years” by Pearl Jam being one of the songs played, but that finally slid off the list a few years ago.  And thank goodness–in retrospect I can see that would have been gratuitously sad.  Just way TOO SAD.  Currently I am going with “A Three-Legged Workhorse” by This Will Destroy You, “I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time” by Hey Rosetta!,  and “Brian and Robert” by Phish.  I recommend trying this exercise yourself.  I think you’ll find it is quite revealing, not just about your musical tastes, but about the entirety of your life.

Here is a (partial) list of things I would try to get good at if I had unlimited time on this Earth:

–playing the guitar
–hiking/camping/climbing
–painting
–the yo yo
–acting
–ice skating

Oh hey, I’m reading a book about the earliest art to depict the polar regions after human exploration had begun there.  It’s a truly intriguing topic and some of this art is just spectacular.  Somewhat realistic based off the descriptions of the men who’d been there but also rather exaggerated and mystical as the place was still one of imagination and perceived danger and death.  Check out “Sea of Ice” by Caspar David Friedrich:

309fried

 

 

We’re Cutting the Cord

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 4, 2016 by sethdellinger

We are going to do it.  We are “cutting the cord”.

Very soon, our household will no longer have cable TV.  To me (although not to my love, Karla), this seemed almost unfathomable until recently.  Not that I am SUPER into television; I usually have a show or two that I am keeping up with at any given moment, but other than a select few, I’m never really passionate about them.  I don’t typically turn on television and just watch whatever is on—I turn it on at appointed times to watch something specific.  Karla has almost never been that way, so this won’t be a huge change for her.

While I don’t really *watch* a whole lot of TV, I do turn it on sometimes just to feel connected to the outside world.  If I’m all alone in the house, I have often simply turned on the TV to feel less lonely—and I’ve always been quite aware that was my motivation for doing so.  In recent years, as I’ve become more aware of this opiate-type usage of TV, I have tried to curtail it and now will read with music on more often than with TV.  Silence, however, is still somewhat rare for me.  But I’m a work in progress.

The good (?) news is, we have so many streaming and DVD options, we still have more to watch than we could properly accomplish in a lifetime.  Our household alone has Netflix as well as Amazon Prime, so even those two services alone offer more than we need.  Factor in free streaming services like Crackle and a dozen or so other channels we have loaded on our Roku and the approximately 500 DVDs we own—including numerous seasons of TV shows–continuing to pay for cable seemed silly and wasteful.

Yes, there are a few shows (at this point, really just The Walking Dead) that I still HAVE to see.  Luckily, each episode is available to rent for 2.99 the day after it airs via Amazon.  Pricey?  Perhaps—but much cheaper than our cable bill.  I will just be avoiding Facebook on Sunday evenings for awhile :)

I hear you:  BUT SETH!  What about live TV?? News?? Sports???

 Yes.  This is the only part that hurts.  First, we will be keeping the cable through the election.  Once that whole fracas seems settled, we’ll cut the cord.  Yes, I will miss sports.  However, I already gave up football.  But I will surely miss seeing my Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers play.  I will certainly follow their seasons via print and internet media.  I imagine in the vanishingly rare event that one of my teams would be having an amazing year and look headed to the playoffs, I might cave and get the cable again, but for just a limited time.  I will very much miss special events like the Oscars—but a local theater here shows it on the big screen every year—so maybe there’s an opportunity for a new tradition.  Or, maybe, it will become one more item in the growing list of things I used to care about, but now, maybe not so much.

I can’t claim that this change is occurring because we don’t watch filmed, scripted entertainment.  We do, and we don’t feel ashamed of it.  It’s just that there’s filmed, scripted entertainment coming out of our ears, and we pay more for all of it than we do for our electric and gas bills.  This seemed askew to us.  In addition, we get an actual newspaper delivered, as well as about ten magazine subscriptions, and I am kind of addicted to fivethirtyeight.com and The New York Times online—so as much as I love CNN and MSNBC, we don’t really get our information from the television.  The fact of the matter is, getting rid of cable stands to change our lives very little—a realization that made it seem truly ludicrous for us to keep it.

Something About Airplanes

Posted in Snippet, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2015 by sethdellinger

1.  Weather!  During the last month or so, as the average temperature was dipping into the teens and single digits, I found my weight harder to manage (this phenomenon is far from unheard-of).  I found it harder to motivate myself to work out, was often craving more food and worse food, and often couldn’t even ride my bike to work like I normally do.  My goal weight is 150–which I have achieved and am currently staying at, but for a few weeks I lingered in the 155 area as the temperatures made life almost impossible.  Now this week we get a warm-up into the 50s and 60s and within days I’m back to waking up at 149.  Isn’t that wild???  The weather and temperature affects everything.  Oftentimes, even as these things are occurring to us and affecting us, we don’t truly realize the size of the impact they have.  I’m excited to be escaping the winter with my weight loss intact; I feel as though I almost lost my grip on it there for a minute (and for the record, I’m at my goal weight but not my goal body; the plan being to keep adding muscle mass while losing more fat–almost all belly, now–while staying at about 150.  Yeah, it’s kind of a bold plan, but it’s the only plan I have).

2.  I just heard that some “Breaking Bad” fans are frequently throwing pizzas on the roof of the house the show was filmed at.  And apparently an elderly couple lives in the house, and they have lived there for 30 years.  I know none of them are going to read this, but still: you gotta stop that.

3.  Today my mother and I planned on going up into the observation tower that is atop City Hall here in Philadelphia.  However, when we arrived at the office to purchase tickets, we were told the observation tower was closed that day, due to flooding!  Now, I grant you, it had rained quite a bit the night before, but how in the world does an observation tower, which is one of the highest points in the city, get flooded?!  Now sure, I can think of some plausible explanations, but still.  Annoying.  But here is a nice picture we managed to take during a perfect leisurely stroll on a gorgeous afternoon near Rittenhouse Square:

IMG_0972

The Lock Just Keeps Spinning

Posted in Memoir, Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2014 by sethdellinger

I sure do like blue skies, clear wide-open blue skies and the wind on my face.  Getting tan.  Getting tan is like taking the outside world into yourself and then shooting it back out.  And all those vitamins and good vibes.  Also I like movies.  I like watching movies in air conditioned rooms while sweat dries on my skin.  I like rice with salt on it, and dogs who smile.

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I’ve been watching a lot of cable news lately, but I don’t necessarily think it’s good for me.  I’ve just become addicted to it, as I’ve been known to become addicted to just about anything from time to time.  I suppose it must just be cable news’ turn.  I mean, there is plenty that I like about it.  It really does inform you, and depending on what you’re watching, you usually learn about stuff you might not otherwise be following, like that shit in Iraq.  CNN is the way to go.  Typically they’re gonna tell you about the stuff that’s important, not just the tabloid stuff.  But regardless, most of it is rot.  You’re better off reading newspapers.  Please read newspapers.  They need you, and it’s still the best thing going.

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I’ve recently come across two different poems about turtles that really floored me.  It makes sense that turtles would make such rich poetic subjects: ugly, slow, and capable of withdrawing entirely into themselves.  They’re just begging for the poetic treatment.  The first is “Turtle” by Kay Ryan.  Watch her read it here, and the text of the poem is here.  The other is “To a Box Turtle” by John Updike.  Watch me read it to you!  Right here:

To a Box Turtle
by John Updike

Size of a small skull, and like a skull segmented,
of pentagons healed and varnished to form a dome,
you almost went unnoticed in the meadow,
among its tall grasses and serrated strawberry leaves
your mottle of amber and umber effective camouflage.

You were making your way through grave distances,
your forefeet just barely extended and as dainty as dried
coelacanth fins, as miniature sea-fans, your black nails
decadent like a Chinese empress’s, and your head
a triangular snake-head, eyes ringed with dull gold.

I pick you up. Your imperious head withdraws.
Your bottom plate, hinged once, presents a No
with its courteous waxed surface, a marquetry
of inlaid squares, fine-grained and tinted
tobacco-brown and the yellow of a pipe smoker’s teeth.

What are you thinking, thus sealed inside yourself?
My hand must have a Smell, a killer’s warmth.
It holds you upside down, aloft, undignified,
your leathery person amazed in the floating dark.
How much pure fear can your wrinkled brain contain?

I put you down. Your tentative, stalk-bending walk
resumes. The manifold jewel of you melts into grass.
Power mowers have been cruel to your race, and creatures
less ornate and unlikely have long gone extinct;
but nature’s tumults pool to form a giant peace.

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You may have noticed, on various and sundry platforms of social media, that I am losing weight (again!).  There will, of course, be a larger blog entry devoted to the subject once I hit a certain milestone, but I wanted to stop officially ignoring it on the blog.  So yes, I am once again losing weight.  If you’re a long-time reader, you may recall we’ve been down this road once before.    I’ll stop short of saying I’m a chronic “weight bouncer”—I’ve only done the up and down once, now going on twice—and I do think I’m going to be able to maintain it this time, seeing as how I actually do enjoy the “lifestyle” one must switch to in order to stop gaining the weight back.  I don’t want to go into too much detail, as the first of the “milestone” blogs on the topic should be coming soon.  But if you’ve noticed that I’m a little more energetic, happy as an idiot, and generally manic lately—this is the main cause.

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I don’t like, any more than you do, the way that things in our culture seem to have gotten so divisive.  Everything appears to be very “black and white” or “us vs. them”…either you agree with me, or I hate you.  All issues divided into two sides—usually liberal and conservative—so that most critical thought is now not required; you just have to know what team you’re on.  I don’t like it any more than you do.

But there seems to be, to most people, a thought that this is a terrible deviation from some Golden Era of American discourse.  That, not long ago now, everyone just kind of got along and accepted divergent opinions and engaged in a spirited and lively debate of the issues, before saying, ah, forget it! and heading out back for a barbeque.  This fever dream is made possible by the fact that nobody actually knows anything about our own history, and is cursed with the widely-held human belief that all things have just recently been much better than they are now.

Things have, of course, never been like that.  We’ve always been a country at one-another’s throats.  That’s because the issues that we disagree about are pretty fucking important and are not trifles.  If the biggest debate in America was chocolate vs. vanilla, I’d say some of us might be overreacting, but we debate about matters of deepest morality, life and death, and core philosophy.  If you’re not passionate about these things, get out of the ring.

The division seems more pronounced now that we’re on the internet all the time.  The biggest factor that plays into that is that we routinely interact with many people who we would previously not have been interacting with.  Before the internet, we just naturally and gradually gravitated to people of like-mind.  Now, we, in small ways, interact with dozens of people “on the other side” daily, which can cause little internet skirmishes which then, in turn, feel larger and more intense than real-world interactions, because we can’t gauge how the other is talking, as well as these skirmishes taking place in front of our 300 or so “friends” and remaining to view long after the words have been said.

The ease with which these divisive interactions can occur has given rise to something even worse than the “cultural division” itself: the everything is hunky-dorey crowd.  This “crowd” includes just about everybody.  We’re all so tired of having these online skirmishes with people with opposing views, almost nobody engages the argument anymore.  Nobody wants to appear “divisive”.  Everyone wants to make sure they are “accepting of other people’s views”.

The bottom line I’m trying to get to is this: I keep an open mind about things like calamari, the official naming of snow storms, and the future of the designated hitter in professional baseball.  But I’m an adult now, and I’ve thought a lot about my core beliefs, and I don’t have an open mind about abortion, gay rights, gun control, or even—yes, even the existence of a higher power.  I know what I think about these things.  Not only that, but having an open mind about these things would make me a man of feeble constitution.

Get rid of your open mind.

 

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WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS JOHN SLOAN PAINTING????

sunset-west-twenty-third-street-1906

 

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If you know me (and I think you do) you know that, obviously, I am a man with a ton of opinions.  Well, one of those opinions is that these things that pop up on social media as “photo challenges” are some of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen.  If you’re not familiar with them: they propose to be “30 day photo challenges” that list a thing you’re supposed to take a picture of once a day for thirty days.  First off, if you need a “challenge” to take interesting pictures of the world around you, you’re not interesting.  Period.  Secondly, the items in these challenges are never even remotely challenging or creative.  It’s like, “Day 1:  Selfie.  Day 2:  Food.  Day 3: Car”.  Really?  You spent time creating this, anonymous internet user?  How dreadful.

So, I thought I’d make an interesting one! Some things here are interpretable, whch, again, makes it interesting.  For instance, “Birth” wouldn’t necessarily be looking for a picture of something being born.  You decide what it means. If anyone actually wants to give this a spin, let me know, I’ll put it into a dedicated blog entry so it’s easier to reference.

Actually Interesting Photo Challenge

Day 1: An animal that you want to take home
Day 2: 
Gum
Day 3:  Something Upside-Down
Day 4:  Paint
Day 5:  How you’d like to be perceived
Day 6:  How you feel inside
Day 7:  Something you hate
Day 8:  Birth
Day 9: A chair
Day 10:  The passage of time
Day 11:  Something you love but can’t have
Day 12:  Space, area, void
Day 13:  Underneath
Day 14:  Scar
Day 15:  Home
Day 16:  Your bathtub.
Day 17:  Work
Day 18:  The ground
Day 19: The sky
Day 20: Between the ground and the sky
Day 21:  What you believe
Day 22:  Utensils
Day 23:  Lights
Day 24:  Transportation
Day 25:  Idealized
Day 26:  Action!
Day 27:  Water
Day 28:  Unattainable
Day 29:  Before you were born
Day 30:  Celebrate

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Life, and all that stuff, is sometimes too interesting to bear.  What I mean is, it can be very cyclical, or circular, or appear to be laden with damned meaning.  See, I’m a man who doesn’t believe in much.  I mean, I believe in science, and form and order amidst the chaos, but not in any Fate or creator or grand design.  Just rules and laws that govern the movements and the heat of things, basically.  So when life seems to have plans, folks like me sit up and take notice.  Not because it’s changing the way I think—I have thrown away my open mind—but because coincidence or happenstance on any large sort of scale is just so unlikely.

Take, for instance, a story from my life.  When I first got sober, I was 25 years old.  This was a little over eleven years ago.  I went to live with my mother and her husband in a small town in New Jersey.  This was the first time I’d lived anywhere outside of Central Pennsylvania.  This small town in New Jersey was relatively close to Philadelphia…maybe an hour, I think?  At any rate, it was certainly the closest I’d ever lived to a big city.

Eleven years may not seem like that long ago, but I was inhabiting a very different world back then, and I was also a very different version of me.  I drove a 1983 Ford Escort, named Earl Grey.  This car was a bona fide piece of shit, and it broke down with an alarming regularity (chronic fuel pump issues).  I had no cell phone.  No GPS.  When I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been, I printed out MapQuest directions and read them as I drove.  If I needed to call someone, I found a payphone and retrieved my list of phone numbers, hand-written on a sheet of paper inside my wallet.  It was interesting.  It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.  I drank a lot of Red Bull and wrote poetry almost every waking moment and listened to Pearl Jam like it was my job.

I had a very close friend who I’d been through the addiction wringer with.  She had a similar problem as I did, and we’d gone to the same rehab, and really just been to Hell and back together.  She had landed in a Recovery House in Harrisburg, PA.  After the tumult of the end of our addictions, we now felt very far apart.  Recovery Houses don’t allow you much leeway with visitors and phone calls.  Remember, this is also before everyone was texting and Facebooking (it’s even before MySpace).  I missed her very much.

She did manage to e-mail on occasion, and, ill-advisedly, we planned for her to sneak out one night.  We would meet in Philadelphia.  We were going to walk South Street.

I drove old rickety Earl Grey the hour to South Street, paging through my MapQuest directions.  I drove right past South Street at one point and just decided to park as soon as I could.  I found a spot and hopped out of my car.  As I walked away, I realized I might later have no idea where I had parked.  I got back into the car and grabbed my journal, the sacred notebook where I wrote all my poetry.  I looked around for a landmark and wrote it down, and put the journal in my backpack.

I met up with her and it was glorious.  I treasured being in her company, if only for a night.  I don’t remember what we did on South Street.  I don’t remember what we did at all.  But it stands as one of the more significant nights of my life, on my long road to becoming the current version of me.

A week or so ago, I decided to go back through some of my old journals and see if I had missed anything of value, any pieces of writing I could turn into something good.  I never did get around to it, but I threw the two oldest ones into my backpack, planning to look at them the next time I came to rest in some park.  I promptly forgot about it.

This evening, I was riding my bike through what is now one of my favorite sections of Old City (technically, the neighborhood known as Society Hill).  I love this section for it’s old houses, churches with expansive, historic graveyards, and shade-dappled side alleys.  I came to one of the more significant landmarks to me, the house that Thaddeus Kosciuszko lived in when he lived in Philadelphia.  Kosciuszko is my favorite revolutionary.  I feel deeply connected to him across the vast gulf of time.  The version of me from eleven years ago wasn’t yet even interested in history.  He would have had zero interest in this Polish freedom fighter’s house.  But I certainly do now.

I recalled, tonight, how the last time I was in the house, the park ranger had told me the woman who owned it and rented it to Kosciuszko was buried in the cemetery across the street.  I have spent some time in that cemetery before (American painter Charles Wilson Peale is buried there, and so is George Dallas, who was Vice President under James K. Polk), but I thought I’d wander through again and look for her grave.

It didn’t take me long in there before I had to face the fact that I couldn’t remember her name, and my iPhone’s power was getting too low to make Googling a wise choice, so I decided to leave and ride my bike elsewhere.  But as I stepped onto the sidewalk, the shade of sense memory hit me.  I’d been here many times these past six months, but perhaps never at this time of evening, in this kind of mid-summer air.  Suddenly I wondered it I’d been here before, long before.

I sat my backpack on the ground an hurriedly opened it, finding the oldest journal.  I looked at many pages before I found it, scrawled in my own unmistakable hand:

4th St., across from St. Peters Church

I craned my neck at the cemetery gate above me, and sure enough:  St. Peters.

Sure, maybe no big deal.  So what, this is where I parked that night?  If I moved to the city, it stands to reason I would pass by the place I parked that night, eleven years ago.

But the way that it came to me out of the blue, the way I had that journal on me, which was extraordinarily unlikely, the way I’d never noticed before that this was the place.  It has been long ago enough now that it’s starting to feel like deep past; I felt my younger self there.  I felt her younger self there.  I saw me getting out of my Escort, completely oblivious to Thad Kosciuszko’s house a half block away, not caring, not caring, not caring.  And life is crammed full of these bizarre cycles, these glances-back, these cosmic happenstances.  Like combination locks clicking into place.  But then the lock, it just keeps on spinning.

I sure do like blue skies, clear wide-open blue skies and the wind on my face.  Getting tan.  Getting tan is like taking the outside world into yourself and then shooting it back out.  And all those vitamins and good vibes.  Also I like movies.  I like watching movies in air conditioned rooms while sweat dries on my skin.  I like rice with salt on it, and dogs who smile.

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Buy Me Happiness, but You Can Buy Me Fraggle Rock

Posted in Philly Journal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2014 by sethdellinger

I sure am happy right now.  I’m going through an extended period of inner peace, tranquility, and contentment.  It rules!  I’m not trying to get all new-agey, or brag about my emotional state.  The fact is, I’m often pretty content, at least moreso than most people (with, as I have noted at length on my blog, a steady undercurrent of fear of death and general despair that has been with me always and always shall020 remain…but it’s usually a little out of sight…my main operating mode is usually “happy”).  I just note this extended happy period here because it seems so very unusual for most of humanity.  This is only based on my very unscientific casual observations.  But even folks who most would describe as happy are, frankly, pretty unhappy.  Or at least uncomfortable, or full of worry or self-doubt or fear.  Isn’t it strange how difficult it can be for us to 046be happy?  Oy vey.  I got tempted to go super-deep on the subject there, but I’ll resist it.  I think it is impossible to go deep on this subject without sounding like a douchebag.  I just want to note that I’m super happy.  Tranquil is an even better word.  I’m under no impression that my life is always going to be easy or that things will stay like they are now, but I’m tranquil with that notion.

That being said, this winter sure does suck.  I know I know, someone wants to tell me It’s winter, what do you expect??? Well you see, here’s the thing: winter is uncomfortable.  Physically.  I do not like the sensation it creates upon my general 001physical being.  So yes, although I am certainly aware that winter is coming, and I know what it is going to be like, that foreknowledge does not lessen it’s wretched impact upon me.  I mean seriously, why does it keep snowing???  What kind of winter thinks it needs to snow this much??  Or be this consistently cold?  It’s all pretty lame.  Oh hey, also, look at this painting, “Chilly Observation”, by Charles Sidney Raleigh:

chilly

 

Another note on my happiness (and again, I’m not trying to get all zen on you here, I’m just thinking out loud.  Except not literally out loud.  I guess I’m thinking publicly), I’ve noticed lately I’m getting much less satisfaction from the acquisition of material goods.  Despite all my cultural philosophizing, I don’t think I’ve ever denied that I derive a lot of pleasure from buying or acquiring things.  Not big-ticket items, usually.  Most of my life I’ve just loved getting more and more books and music and movies and things like that.  And just random consumer goods.  Hats. 014 Backscratchers.  Wall art.  Random shit like that.  Well anyway, lately, I’m getting less and less pleasure from acquisition.  I suspect part of this is because of my natural tranquility right now, so I don’t have to supplement my happiness with the artificial high of stuff.  but I also think that I might just kind of have enough stuff, finally.  For one man, I have ALOT of books, records, DVDs, and the massive amount of random crapola that life in America will allow you to encircle yourself with.  I have so much stuff (note that I am passionate about most of it and find it delightful; I’m not knocking my actual stuff) that I can’t begin to properly enjoy most of it.  So I might need to chill on acquisition for a bit and start really paying attention to what I already have.

(although take note, I still really need some books by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a vinyl copy of Neil Young’s “Mirrorball”, one of these, a really nice digital camera, the complete series of “Fraggle Rock” on DVD [I aint joking about that, and it’s getting pretty affordable], Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” on Blu-Ray, that really nice 027hardbound version of the collected “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books that Barnes and Noble sells, an Ilya Bryzgalov Philadelphia Flyers jersey [even though he doesn’t play for the team anymore…oh and size Large], early editions of the individual collections of Philip Larkin’s poetry [specifically, I’m thinking about “The Whitsun Weddings” and “The North Ship”…first editions only, really, anything else is useless], a year-long membership to the Barnes Gallery…oh I guess there is still some stuff I need…)

Who Needs You to Shovel

Posted in Philly Journal, Prose with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by sethdellinger

My neighbors are obsessed with shoveling snow.  Every time it snows more than an inch, there is continual shoveling going on on my street, in the immediate vicinity of my house, for approximately 36 hours straight.  I am talking about perhaps my ten closest neighbors.  The shoveling NEVER.  STOPS.  Shoveling, scraping, pounding of ice in cracks.  It’s like they need to dust for some fingerprints on the concrete.  photo 5And listen, each one of these houses has approximately a three-foot-wide sidewalk that stretches the length of their house…maybe 20 feet.  Every time it snows, I shovel my sidewalk, as completely as would be necessary on a street upon which nobody travels, in about five minutes as soon as I get home from work.  After working ten hours.  And riding my bike two miles.  I’m saying: it’s not hard to do.  Now, don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not “complaining” about this.  I know I’ve got a reputation for “complaining” about things (I interpret it as “having opinions”, which comes from “being super fucking intelligent and awake to the machinations of the wider world photo 8and structure of reality”, but whatever, if you think I’m a complainer, I’m a complainer), so I don’t want to be seen as particularly complaining about this.  It’s whatever.  You want to shovel your sidewalk ten times after it snows, go for it.  More than anything I just find it peculiar.  Are they just bored?  Or is it a situation of trying to out-do the Joneses?  Plus it is SO COLD right now.  You KNOW I’m a trooper with weather but no way would I be going out repeatedly into that cold just to get my sidewalk–which in all likelihood only the mailman and my own family will walk on—perfect.

I know we don’t live in a world anymore—if ever we did—in which a significant amount of people care about the performances of musicians on late night talk shows.  For quite a few years (as should surprise almost nobody) I was such a person, one who actually paid attention to that world.  I knew the performance lineup from all the shows, almost every week, for about 4 years, I stayed on top of that.  Although lately that world has faded from my attention.  But last week, a band called The Orwells (I can only assume named after author George Orwell)

I hate to seem like a bumpkin, but this is a picture from my very first (solo and sober) cab ride yesterday...I think I'm finally a city boy.

I hate to seem like a bumpkin, but this is a picture from my very first (solo and sober) cab ride yesterday…I think I’m finally a city boy.

performed their new song “Who Needs You” on the David Letterman show and it was a pretty authentic, impassioned performance, which made some waves big enough that it made its way to my attention.  Now, there was nothing especially outrageous about this performance (other than the lyrics to the song, which nobody seems to have noticed, which include lines like “You better burn that flag/ Cause it aint against the law”…and for the record everybody…it isn’t against the law), except it wasn’t a cookie-cutter, “Let’s nail this!” performance.  It was just a little quirky, a lot impassioned, and fairly off-key.  I like it, but they’re probably not going to become a favorite band of mine (although I have put their album on my “to-buy” list). Although I don’t want to take too much away from the legitimacy of their performance; it WAS reminiscent of the early days of some great bands (who would later, inevitably, lose steam and passion) like the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, or The Doors before Morrison died (take note: I hate The Doors).   The more pertinent point of discussion, for me, is: what kind of artistic culture have we fostered where a band simply playing with a bit of abandon on a talk show makes the front page of Rolling Stone‘s website?  How neutered has our art become?  How boring are we?  Watch the performance here, and make sure you stay all the way to the end to see how unexpected Dave and Paul found the performance:

photo 6

It’s My Thought That Counts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2013 by sethdellinger

It occurs to me with no lack of regularity that, because of my persistent status as single and childless, that I have significantly fewer opportunities to receive presents as the rest of you romantic and procreating beasts.  And hey, listen, I’m gonna admit something most people avoid saying out loud:  I would like more presents!

So recently, I was thinking, maybe it’s not just the lack of Valentines, Father’s Day, and anniversary (as well as the extra gifts one gets at Christmas and birthdays etc, from your significant other and children) that are preventing me from getting a significant amount of free goods.  Perhaps part of the problem is, when gifting times roll around, many of you potential gifters think my interests are limited to just a few things, like pompous music, post-1930s American and British poetry, and the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and you just don’t know how to buy presents for a guy like that!  And, while it is true that I really love those things, the fact of the matter is, I have literally hundreds of interests, and with the advent of the internet, there is nearly no shortage of ways you can spend money on me! And the internet also means it is very easy for me to re-sell something you may accidentally get me that I already have!

So, in case you have just been hankering to buy a gift for a guy but don’t know who the hell Philip Larkin is, I will here lay out for you a massive list of interests I rarely talk about, but I assure you I am just crazy for!

1.  Soundtracks to movies made before 1980 on vinyl records

2.  Anything to do with early thought on city planning, especially dealing with pioneer Jane Jacobs

3.  I like hats

4.  I like notebooks to write in, but not one with Hallmark-y or sentimental messages printed on the cover

5.  Corduroy clothing

6.  I collect old postcards, preferably with messages written on them, preferably from 1915 and earlier

7.  Single-issue Marvel comics (any title) from between 1993-1997 are usually a good bet

8.  Anything celebrating the state of Pennsylvania, especially including its coat of arms

9.  Back-issues of Discover magazine, pre-2005.

10.  Post-it notes, white-out, index cards, legal pads, mechanical pencils

11.  Owls

12.  Games for the original Game Boy (original only, no Game Boy color!)

13.  First edition of any book by Orson Scott Card, Dave Eggers, Flannery O’Connor, or John Updike

14.  Hoodies or winter coats ordered from the websites of any of my favorite bands.

15.  Anything that you see on this list, if you can find a mousepad that in some way depicts or deals with it, I would like to own that mousepad

16.  I have a genuine interest in the Johnstown Flood.  Aside from the famous book by David McCullough, I own nothing about it.

17.  Aside from the DVDs, any merchandise or materials related to the film “Labyrinth” would be a home run.

18.  I have a high interest in the European particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC (sometimes also called CERN).  Yes, there is merchandise.

19.  I love Grey Flannel cologne but haven’t owned any in years.

20.  Any DVD that says it is part of the “Criterion Collection”…you can buy me that.

21.  I am a big fan of motorized inclined planes, or “funiculars“.

22.  I love backscratchers.  It is not possible for me to own too many of them.

23.  Books or materials about early American filmmaking are always great (post 1910 and D.W. Griffiths only, I have no interest in Edison’s important but dreadfully boring experiments).

24.  Dr. Strange is my favorite comic book character.  I have plenty of stuff but feel free to take a leap of faith, there’s a lot out there.  Statues, figures, and busts are especially desired.

25.  The easiest thing on the list:  I love all Philadelphia sports teams.

26.  I have an interest in Quantum Physics.  There are tons of books and DVDs on the subject.  I will read and watch them all.

27.  John Sloan, the painter.  That man painted my soul.

28.  I am intrigued by the lost colony of Roanoke and would love to learn more about it.

29.  Post-Revolution, my favorite historical figure is Aaron Burr.

30.  I could always use a new (good) digital camera.

31.  I have an interest in but have not read much about behavioral psychologist BF Skinner.

32.  I am a major evangelist for Dr. Pepper, and even more specifically Diet Dr. Pepper, and I will, without irony, wear, brandish, or otherwise use merchandise imprinted with this soda’s logo.

33.  I have always been smitten with now-deceased scientist Carl Sagan, and any of his books are welcome.  Likewise, his television series, “Cosmos”, and any materials related to it, are high on my love list.

34.  In the realm of living scientists, I have a bona fide man-crush on Neil DeGrasse Tyson and will gladly accept his books, DVDs, or tickets to see him speak somewhere.

35.  I get weak in the knees for Ben and Jerry’s “Late Night Snack”.

36.  Art Spiegelman’s masterpiece of graphic novel literature, “Maus”, is an all-time fave, but is always priced just out of reach.

37.  Toblerones.

38.  Coffee-table sized books featuring the art of Henri Rousseau, and/or merchandise featuring his paintings “The Dream” or “The Snake Charmer“.  If I listed all of these items in order by what I’m interested in right now, this one might be #1.

39.  I have an odd interest in the history of the Mormon religion, specifically the handcart disaster, the Mountain Meadows massacre, and the early life and “visions” of founder Joseph Smith.

40.  I’d love a Polaroid camera.

41.  I love coffee, of course, and there are a few things I still need, primarily a pour-over set for iced coffee and a French Press.

42.  If I hit the lottery tomorrow, two of the first purchases I’d make would be the complete series of “The Fraggles” and “24” on DVD.  Don’t judge me.

43.  My favorite living poet is Billy Collins.  I have all his books.  See what else you can do.

44.  I love riding my bike.  But I’m not a serious biker, like, wearing spandex, etc.  I do it just to cruise around.  But I could use a new lock, gel seat cover, or other biking stuff you might think of.  I could also use a new bike, but if you want to go that far, we should probably collaborate on that.

45.  Anything relating to the old TV shows “Northern Exposure“, “Twin Peaks“, or “Picket Fences“.  I own the entire series of “Northern Exposure”, but other than that, it’s open season.

46.  I find the Donner party very interesting.  I have read this book on it, but nothing else.

47.  I like to use caramel coffee syrup in my coffee and oatmeal.  I can never have too much of it.

48.  I love newspapers, but it’s not easy to find merchandise regarding them, such as hats, shirts, etc.  My favorite newspapers are The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and USA Today.

49.  Museum memberships.  Any kind of museum.  Art, history, whatever.  I can’t imagine a gift I would love much more than a membership to just about any museum.  Currently, I am a member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but no other museums.

50.  Old coinage, pre-1900, from early America or other countries.  Confederate money would be very cool.

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