“I am not a lonely person. I love solitude. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. Writers know that. I have never met a writer who does not crave to be alone. We have to be alone to do what we do.”
—Mary Ruefle (via sometimesagreatnotion)
On the last road trip, someone mentioned he was getting old.
“Old? I’m getting better,” he said.”
“Across the country, there were thousands of places just like it, places that were not only isolated but insulated, places that had gone through the growing pains of America without anyone paying attention, places that existed as islands unto themselves with no link to the great cities except that they all sang the same national anthem to the same flag at sporting events. They were the kind of places that you saw from a plane on a clear night if you happened to look out the window, a concentration of little beaded dots breaking up the empty landscape with several veins leading in and out, and then bleak emptiness once again.
It was a view that every traveler had seen a million times before, and maybe if you were a passenger on a plane bisecting the night, you looked down and saw those lights and wondered what it would be like to live in an Odessa, to inhabit one of those infinitesimal dots, to be in a place that seemed so painfully far away from everything, so completely out of the mainstream of life. Perhaps you wondered what values people held on to in a place like that, what they cared about. Or perhaps you went back to your book, eager to get as far away as possible from that yawning maw that seemed so unimaginable, so utterly unimportant.”
—H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights
As a Seattle-based site, we can’t not make some mention of the Seahawks on here this week.
So: GO HAWKS.
(We strongly advocate taking one day off from watching movies to instead watch the Seahawks dismantle the Broncos in the Super Bowl this Sunday.)
I whole-heartedly endorse this statement.
I wasn’t born into a football family. My father apparently loved it, so I might’ve been introduced to the sport sooner if he hadn’t passed away.
As it was, my mother and I were first and foremost a baseball family. I knew the Kingdome as the home of the Seattle Mariners, the place where Ken Griffey Jr. would knock off homeruns to the tune of exploding fireworks.
We would regularly catch games for as long as I could remember, and eventually had the lucky timing of being season-ticket holders during one of the most exciting times to be a Mariners fan. I recited stats like I was constantly being quizzed. I knew how each player did against righties and lefties, who their best and worst match-ups were, if they were better in certain uniforms, certain stadiums, or times of day. I even skipped going to my senior prom in favor of watching Freddy Garcia beat the Yankees, and have zero regrets about that decision to this day.
Football was another world. It was big, burly men getting drunk and screaming at the television while watching other big, burly men hit each other. A few people who were into the sport passed through my circles, but no one I was close with, and no one who ever seemed interested in explaining the finer points of the game to me. I was a geeky, shy girl who hung out with a lot of geeky, shy kids. In high school, the only reason I went to football games was to look at butts.
I got to college, and more people I knew were into it. At some point, they began commenting to me on how well the Seahawks were doing. So, yes, I first started paying attention to the Seahawks during what would eventually become their first Super Bowl run. I watched the game, I saw the questionable calls (which, admittedly, I only understood were questionable thanks to a friend I was watching with), I came away wanting to know more about football, anyway.
I remained a casual fan for years. I was afraid of being labelled a band-wagoner (I have plenty of feelings about this, too), still didn’t know a ton of football fans, and still didn’t fully understand the game and how it was played. I watched from afar, picking up pieces of football knowledge here and there, catching Hawks games when I could (which is plenty hard on the East Coast). Occasionally, a friend and I would get together for a game.
But the team just didn’t feel like mine. Coming around to the Seahawks when I did, it felt like I was peering in on something as an outsider, watching a film that was halfway over. I didn’t know all the stories and struggles, and with limited access to games, and limited knowledge of the sport, it felt like I would never catch up. As an obsessive, that just didn’t sit right with me.
Everything changed for me when Pete Carroll came to town.
Even as someone who didn’t know much about football, Pete Carroll was fascinating to me. His rah-rah enthusiasm and positive attitude, his past failures as an NFL coach contrasted with his unparalleled success at USC, his rivalry with Jim Harbaugh… The Seahawks’ slate was wiped clean, and from that point on, I started following football more closely than ever. I learned more about Carroll, about players he and new GM John Schneider brought on, guys like Marshawn Lynch, and Richard Sherman.
Most people who are Seahawks fans right now will tell you that when Marshawn Lynch had his “Beast Quake” run against the Saints in the first round of the playoffs that year, that was the first time the tone for this team was set. Most of us probably remember where we were when that happened. They were the losingest football team in history to make the playoffs that year. Then they got their hands on Russell Wilson. This year, many pundits predicted them to make the Super Bowl before the season even began. And here they are.
If the Seahawks’ resident chatterbox Richard Sherman doesn’t do it for you, try Marshawn Lynch on for size. Lynch has been previously cast in negative light by the media, and these days avoids it to the extent that the NFL nearly fined him for not participating in mandatory media sessions.
Now when he speaks, it’s in charmingly short, candid statements like these.
Deion: “You’re kinda shy.”
Deion: “You just don’t wanna talk, really.”
Marshawn: “I’m just ‘bout that action, boss.”
Deion: “You’re ‘bout to go get it, you just like to do it.”
Marshawn: “That’s what it is. I ain’t ever seen no talkin’ win me nothin’.”
On harnessing my (sports) emotions.
It took roughly 24 hours for me to get tired of defending Richard Sherman for his emotional outburst following the Seattle Seahawks’ defeat of the San Francisco 49ers in stunning, exciting, glorious playoff football fashion (on a perfectly executed play by Sherman that was sadly over-shadowed by his sideline interview).
This isn’t to say that I suddenly changed my mind that he was worth defending, just that it took that long for me to realize that there’s no point in my trying. While it’s ridiculous that people are condemning him for a few heated words at a key emotional moment – after hours of physical brutality, including NaVorro Bowman’s knee bending in a way that knees shouldn’t bend, the footage repeated ad infinitum – I realized it’s a different kind of ridiculous for me to spend time and energy spewing repeated comments in Sherman’s defense to people that, by and large, won’t have their minds changed by my opinion or by the many links I can provide as evidence that he is an intelligent, talented, team player. Most sports debates, like political ones, have little to do with actual facts and more to do with which side you’re on.
But then, that’s part of why I understand Richard Sherman, because I too am prone to emotional outburst about sports – and in this instance, I’m not even in the game.
Generally, I am fully capable of being a rational person. But sports, and Seattle sports in particular, reduce me to a crumpled mess of emotions. I long to be of the “bend, don’t break” philosophy of the Seattle Defense, but when it comes to the Seahawks, I do reach snapping point eventually, erupting forth after feeble attempts at containment. There have been a handful of times where I’ve cut loose on commenters, particularly on major sports reporting websites, only to come to my senses a few minutes or hours, later, with a mild twinge of regret along the lines of, “I guess I didn’t really need to do that.”
So it was that last night I realized that if I don’t do something productive with my nervous sports energy, I’m going to drive myself and everyone around me totally insane in the next week plus that leads to the Seahawks’ second Super Bowl appearance. (Oh also, I’m going!) Thus, you may actually see some activity on here, while I attempt to harness some of this unwieldy fandom into words, preferably words that might be interesting to those of you not stricken with the same obsession.
You see, I wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t brought up in a football family. Until recently, I hadn’t played any sports for longer than a summer camp or a middle school season. My football addiction just kind of happened. And maybe that’s where this endeavor will start.
Not that you care now that it’s 2014, but here are some things I liked in 2013.
Not necessarily the best, but things that I enjoyed.
The Great Gatsby
Behind the Candelabra
(Some of these started this year, some of these are perennial favorites… the only show I normally love that I didn’t this season was “Mad Men.” I got bored/tired of Don Draper and stopped watching halfway through. I’ll catch back up, eventually…)
"Top of the Lake"
"House of Cards"
"Orange is the New Black"
"Game of Thrones"
"Real Time with Bill Maher"
"Nashville" (but still haven’t seen the new season…)
Black Angels, Indigo Meadow
Neko Case, The Worse Things Get…
Classixx, Hanging Gardens
Haim, Days Are Gone
Crystal Stilts, Nature Noir
Javelin, Hi Beams
Washed Out, Paracosm
Ariana Grande, Yours Truly
Charli XCX, True Romance
King Krule, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
Julianna Barwick, Nepenthe
Lorde, True Heroine
Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana
Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe
Fitz & The Tantrums, More Than Just a Dream
William Tyler, Impossible Truth
There was plenty I missed out on in all three categories, and some things I just haven’t spent enough time with to feel strongly about yet, but there’s a selection of the things that stuck with me.
Of all the films that I saw this year, Room 237 probably stuck with me the most, and I wrote about why in this essay for BWDR.
Excerpt from our December issue: Taylor K. Long on one of her favorite documentaries of the year, Room 237:
"Kubrick’s notoriety as a meticulous, detail-obsessed, perfectionist auteur makes his films ripe for this kind of hyper-analyzation, and a single viewing of The Shining is enough to understand why the film draws so much attention and obsession. It’s a horror film without the usual horror tropes, a claustrophobic thriller based on an almost childlike fantastical premise (what if you lived in an empty hotel?). It’s a balancing act between psychological madness and supernatural terror, and we’re never quite sure which is responsible for what. A little knowledge of Kubrick would suggest that he wanted it this way—he felt that knowing the intentions of a film often ruined it for the audience, that they (we) want to be mystified. And in that vein, it surely seems like Kubrick would’ve taken great pleasure in Room 237.
However, in a recent New York Times interview with Leon Vitali, Kubrick’s longtime assistant, Vitali states that Kubrick “wouldn’t have wanted to listen to about 70 or maybe 80 percent of Room 237,” because it’s “pure gibberish.” Which raises a series of interesting questions. Does it really matter how plausible these theories are? Most of the interviewees seem aware, to some extent, that they’re in the minority when it comes to their interpretations of The Shining. While it’s clear that their beliefs are firmly-held, what comes across most is their enthusiasm. The goal here doesn’t necessarily seem to be convincing anyone else, but simply the excitement at sharing what they’ve discovered. And isn’t the ultimate testament to The Shining not whether or not it’s understood, but simply that it has moved so many people to try to understand it, to research it, to watch it over and over and over again? How important is it, truly, for there to be a right or wrong answer?”
To read the rest of this essay, as well as receive full access to our December issue (and all previous issues and archives), try a free 7 day trial of Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine today.
(illustration by Brianna Ashby)