Archive for this will destroy you

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

 

 

Favorites, 2016

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by sethdellinger

Back in the old days of the Notes, I used to write a lot more about music, movies, and books, and I would every so often post updated lists of my absolute favorites of things.  Not due to any pressing interest from the public, of course–mostly just because it’s fun for me, and also because having such a blog post can be quite handy during discussions online; I can just link someone to the entry to aid in a discussion of favorites.

Of course this is not to be confused with my annual “Favorite Music” list, where I detail my favorite music released in the previous calendar year; these lists detail my current all-time favorites, which are (like yours, of course) constantly changing.

Looking back at my entries, it appears as though I haven’t done a big posting of lists since 2012, so I’ll make this one fairly comprehensive.  All of these lists have changed since 2012–some very little, some quite dramatically:

My top ten favorite poets

10.  Jane Kenyon
9.   Robert Creeley
8.  William Carlos Williams
7.   Sylvia Plath
6.  Billy Collins
5.  Denise Levertov
4.  E.E. Cummings
3.  Philip Levine
2.  John Updike
1.  Philip Larkin

My top 10 favorite film directors

10.  Federico Fellini
9.  Sidney Lumet
8.  Alejandro Inarritu
7.  Christopher Nolan
6.  Paul Thomas Anderson
5.  Alfonso Cuaron
4.  Stanley Kubrick
3.  Werner Herzog
2.  Alfred Hitchcock
1.  Terrence Malick

My top ten bands

10. This Will Destroy You
9.  My Morning Jacket
8.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor
7.  Radiohead
6.  Seven Mary Three
5.  Hey Rosetta!
4.   The National
3.  Band of Horses
2.  Modest Mouse
1.  Arcade Fire

 

My top ten music solo artists

10.  Tracy Chapman
9.  Ray LaMontagne
8.  Father John Misty
7.  Leonard Cohen
6.  Jim James
5.  Nina Simone
4.  Willis Earl Beal
3.  Emily Wells
2.  Paul Simon
1.  Neil Young

My top ten favorite (non-documentary) movies

10.  Citizen Kane
9.  Night of the Hunter
8.  Fitzcarraldo
7.  Magnolia
6.  The Trouble with Harry
5.  Children of Men
4.  Where the Wild Things Are
3.  The Thin Red Line
2.  I’m Still Here
1.  The Tree of Life

My ten favorite novelists

10.  Malcolm Lowry
9.  John Steinbeck
8.  Isaac Asimov
7.  Ernest Hemingway
6. Oscar Wilde
5.  Kurt Vonnegut
4.  Mark Twain
3.  David Mitchell
2.  Don DeLillo
1.  Dave Eggers

My top twenty favorite books (any genre, fiction or nonfiction)

20.  “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole
19.  “Slade House” by David Mitchell
18.  “The Terror” by Dan Simmons
17.  “You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers
16.  “Point Omega” by Don DeLillo
15.  “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
14.  “Fallen Founder” by Nancy Isenberg
13.  “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
12.  “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
11.  “Under the Volcano” by Malcolm Lowry
10.  “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
9.  “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
8.  “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut
7.  “Dubliners” by James Joyce
6.  “Letters From the Earth” by Mark Twain
5.  “White Noise” by Don DeLillo
4.  “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
3.  “Your Fathers, Where Are They?  And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?” by Dave Eggers
2.  “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer
1.  “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

My top twenty favorite albums

20.  “Funeral” by Arcade Fire
19.  “Nobody Knows” by Willis Earl Beal
18.  “High Violet” by The National
17.  “The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine
16.  “Swamp Ophelia” by Indigo Girls
15.  “Mirrorball” by Neil Young
14.  “Dis/Location” by Seven Mary Three
13.  “Abbey Road” by The Beatles
12.  “Graceland” by Paul Simon
11.  “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis
10.  “‘Allelujah!  Don’t Bend!  Ascend!” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
9.    “Kid A” by Radiohead
8.   “Strangers to Ourselves” by Modest Mouse
7.   “This Will Destroy You” by This Will Destroy You
6.   “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
5.   “Secret Samadhi” by LIVE
4.   “Infinite Arms” by Band of Horses
3.   “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire
2.   “RockCrown” by Seven Mary Three
1.  “Into Your Lungs (and Around in Your Heart and On Through Your Blood)” by Hey Rosetta!

 

My top five composers

5.  Philip Glass
4.  Cliff Martinez
3.  Hans Zimmer
2.  Felix Mendelssohn
1.  Carl Nielsen

My top ten painters

10.  Edgar Degas
9.  George Bellows
8.  Mark Rothko
7.  Johannes Vermeer
6.  Mary Cassatt
5.  Maurice Prendergast
4.  Thomas Eakins
3.  Henri Rousseau
2.  Andrew Wyeth
1.  John Sloan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Music of 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2015 by sethdellinger

Here we go again.  This yearly list is one of the last remaining rituals from when this blog was much more focused on reviews of and discussions about current art and media; I used to post frequent movie and music reviews, and slowly over the years it morphed into a much more personal blog.  Early on, I posted multiple year-end “favorite” lists (I avoid calling them “best of” lists, but only because it seems to piss some of you off).  One year I went as far to make a Favorite Poetry, Favorite Television, Favorite Magazines, Favorite Movies, and Favorite Music lists!  The last 3 or so years, I have only made a music list.  I still like to closely follow new-release movies, but I can no longer make a pointed effort to see enough of them in a timely fashion to make a comprehensive yearly list.

If you have any interest, you can see past year’s music lists here (they did go even further back, but they were on MySpace blogs that have unfortunately disappeared):

Favorite Music of 2013

Favorite Music of 2012

Favorite Music of 2011

Favorite Music of 2010

Favorite Music of 2009

As per usual, if you are a person who routinely gets mix discs and other neat stuff from me in the mail, a mix disc featuring a selection from all of this year’s listings is already in the mail on it’s way to you.  If you are not one of these people and want to be, leave a blog comment/ send me a Facebook message/ text me/ call me/ hit me up on Tinder (huh?) and I’ll put you on the list!  Now, the winners:

This was an especially fertile year for music for me; I’d estimate I listened to approximately 80 new-release albums this year, and really loved about half of those.  This was by far the most difficult year I’ve had when it comes to narrowing down my selections!  Some of my favorite artists had no releases this year, so it was easier to not play favorites and just judge what moved me the most.  Here are the top fifteen, in order:

15.  Modest Mouse, “Lampshades on Fire”

This is the first time in the history of my lists that I have included a single song instead of an album, but I didn’t see as I had a choice.  Modest Mouse’s new album doesn’t come out until March 2015, but this lead single, which was released about 3 weeks ago, has been almost the only thing I’ve been listening to since it came out.  An absolute piece of snarling perfection.

14.  Real Estate, Atlas

If you have any idea what “shoegaze” rock is, and you haven’t heard this album, may I suggest you stop being an idiot?

13.  Phish, Fuego

Finally a return to form after a number of disappointing releases, Fuego finds the band weaving tight, crisp jams over sparse but giddy lyrics that start to hint at the pains of being post-middle age, with a little bit of supreme confidence thrown in for good measure.

12.  Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal and Content Nausea

This New York post-punk-post-pop-pre-rockabilly (huh?  Here I am just joking; the music media loves to label Parquet Courts in so many ways it is ludicrous; they just make “rock” music, albeit kinda…punky?  Amateury?) really hit their stride this year, releasing two back-to-back masterpieces (the second, Content Nausea, being released by their alter ego band, Parkay Quarts).  These taut, coiled, short screeds blast at you like beautiful insults; they are loveable songs that you want to run from.

11.  The Orwells, Disgraceland

The Orwells steamrolled onto everybody’s radar this year with this unforgettable performance on Letterman.  That song (called “Who Needs You”) also features some truly daring lyrics: “You better count your blessings/ kiss your ma and pa/ You better burn that flag/ ’cause it aint against the law!/ Listen up forefathers:/ I’m not your son/ You better save the country/ You better pass the flask/ You better join the army/ I said: no thank you, dear old uncle sam!”.  When their full-length album, Disgraceland, was released shortly after the Letterman appearance, it didn’t much matter that it was a disappointing collection of small-talent noise rock: “Who Needs You” was a song debut good enough to buy them a few years of grace period.

10.  The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream

war_on_drugs_lost_in_the_dream_album

These home-grown Philly boys blew me away with the first track on this album (while not their first album, it’s their first ‘major’ album, and the first I’d heard).  The album is aptly titled, as, if I had to name this genre of rock, I’d call it Dream Rock.  Standout track “Under the Pressure” was my anthem of early summer this year, and provided a soundtrack on repeat for my visit home to Central PA and my friend Michael’s wedding.  I have a clear memory of sitting in my dad’s car after arriving to her wedding, blasting the air conditioning, listening to “Under the Pressure” on repeat, and waiting to get out of the car until I saw someone I knew.

9.  El Ten Eleven, For Emily

One of the more unique “post-rock” outfits in the biz, this duo utilizes looping and custom instruments to create full, intensely emotive sounds.  For Emily is just a 5-song EP, but it is far from a toss-off and there is zero filler.  The production is crisper and cleaner than I’m used to from these guys; I can hear the guitarist’s fingers on the strings, a pleasant departure from the more clinical sound of their earlier (and still amazing) records.

8. Willis Earl Beal, Experiments in Time

The supremely “artsy” blues-psychedlia-R&B crooner of last year’s exquisite Nobody Knows came back right away with a solid follow-up; however, Experiments in Time lacks the urgency and necessity of hisWillis-Earl-Beal-Experiments-In-Time-608x605 previous efforts.  Still, Time succeeds where most artists fail: every moment of this is something that could only have been made by Beal.  Everything he does is unmistakably his, a quality that is more and more rare these days.

7.  Hey Rosetta!, Second Sight

Those of you who have followed my blog for years now may be surprised by this band’s new album ranking seventh on my list this year (they’ve released two albums since I started making lists, each one ranking #1 on their release year).  I continue to maintain Hey Rosetta! as my favorite band (although it keeps being by thinner and thinner margins) and my discovery of them about 6 or 7 years ago remains a defining event of my life; alas, nothing stays perfect forever.  There are lots of moments to like on Second Sight, and a few of these songs would turn up on mix CDs I might make of the band; however, the breathless, emotion-drenched moments I crave from them are a bit too infrequent, and the times the band tries to stretch and evolve often sound too under-developed.  Nonetheless: solid, earnest, and soulful.

6.  Mono, The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness

Mono_Rays_review

The premier Japanese post-rock band has finally made their masterpiece in these two simultaneously-released twin albums; Dawn explores the light, uplifting possibilities of this genre, and Darkness its depressing underbelly. Both albums are instant post-rock classics; when listened to back-to-back, it can be a damn-near enlightening experience.

5.  Delta Spirit, Into the Wide

Finally this band, who I have always loved, completely lets loose.  They get big and epic.  These are songs about hearts as big as prairies, unchecked regret, the loss of innocence, and the decay of America.  The tales are told through booming guitar loops and underlying synth structures, long atmospheric intros and cacophonous crescendos.  Singer Matt Vasquez’s voice breaks in just the right places, just the right amount of times, like a pubescent boy finally learning to control the caged beast within.

4.  This Will Destroy You, Another Language

This year, This Will Destroy You entered the small league of BANDS THAT ALWAYS MESS ME UP EMOTIONALLY.  This intense, emotive this willpost-rock group from Texas (where else have we heard of a Texas post-rock band?) started out my year amazingly, as I worked my way through their back catalog and they made my life better.  I was caught off guard late in the year by the release of a new album!  Another Language doesn’t often reach the sublime levels of their early work, but some standout tracks (“Newtopia”, “Dustism”, “Serpent Mound”) can make a comfortable home with their best material.

3. Stars, No One is Lost

Stars-No-One-Is-Lost-608x547

This band just keeps on growing on me.  They are wholly unique.  They fuse an indie/alternative vibe with a pop sensibility and then throw in melancholy, defeatist lyrics for a sound and feeling you simply cannot get anywhere else.  No One is Lost absolutely has to be their best album yet.  You leave it dancing your ass off, but with no idea what to feel.  The emotional confusion that Stars provokes is completely intentional and positively riveting.

2.  Warpaint, Warpaint

Warpaint_-_Warpaint

The album is self-titled, but it isn’t their debut album (it’s their third).  This album slithered under my skin from moment one.  It is sinister, sexy, and deliciously complex.  It is bombastic, mathematical, dynamic, coiled.  It punches, swerves, licks, plays.  The four women in Warpaint refuse to make “chick rock”, but they also do not ignore that they are women; this is rock music made from a woman’s perspective, but for everybody.  It’s not about being a woman, it’s about the experience of life, of living in bodies, the depth of feeling, the smell of smoke, the touch of a raindrop, barely felt.  This album is a sensual gut-punch.

1. Silver Mt. Zion, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

TheeSilverMtZionOrchestra041213

This is not music for everybody.  This band–and especially this album by this band–is a pretty unhappy affair.  It does not focus on the good things in life.  It’s about dirt, pain, rot.  It is, at times, about rising above these things, about triumph–but it is about triumph as afterthought, as happenstance.  This is perhaps not a complete and accurate portrait of life: but it is not a perspective without its truth.

This downtrodden thematic perspective is accompanied by the band’s usual lengthy, repetitive, droning postpunk post-everything mess rock, but with a little (a little) more typical song structure than usual.  Like I said: this isn’t for everybody.  But you know who it is for?  Me.  While not a single song on this album could ever come even remotely close to being played on the radio (I think most radio stations would pay money to keep it away) it is, to me, one of those rarest things in modern music: true art, worthy of museum display.

 

 

The Foxes

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by sethdellinger

Here is some audio/ visual accompaniment I created to supplement my recent poem “The Foxes”.  The text of the poem is underneath the video.  I apologize for my sweaty face at the beginning; it kind of looks like snot running down my face.

 

The Foxes

The thrift store was having a sale.
How forlorn they looked,
the two red foxes dangling over a hanger,
sold separately.
They were whole bodies—
heads, legs, tails, even claws
except on one leg.

My friend giggled
as I wrapped one
then both around my neck.
They seemed alive
chasing each other around my shoulders.
They were warm,
nuzzling my ears.
Sold—the pair.

To celebrate their rescue
I wore them to coffee
at a nearby diner.
My friend said the woman at the register
grimaced when we walked in,
the foxes and I.
No, I said.
Yes, I’m certain, he said.

I gently laid them down
together, by my side in the booth.
A waitress brought a menu.
Oh no, she said when she saw them.

Do these people think
I could kill these babies next to me?
I would have freed them,
opened the trap,
nursed the severed paw.
I wear them as a tribute
to their beauty, their existence.

Does anyone think it was my fault?
Monica killing herself,
so alone there in Chicago.
I wasn’t there and she had called
the night before but I never answered
and now it’s been four years,
she’s long since dead in the ground
and I’ll never even visit the grave.

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