Jim Dalton: Academic and Human Being

Again, you have choices:  

General Interests        TV Freak        Film Buff        Music Listener

                                        Reader of Books  Facebook Page

Some of the Things that I like to do  

  • Computers:  a surfer of the Web, a teacher about the wonders of cyberspace, a user of computers in the classroom including Blackboard. In short, a gadget freak.
  • Postage Stamps:  I have a huge junk collection (about 100,000 stamps) with some specialized collections in France and the French Colonies, India, Albania, Bulgaria and others. My impossible dream: to have one copy of every stamp ever printed. My realistic goal: to fill some of the spaces in my albums. At least I'm good at geography and history now!
  • Golf:  I currently sport about a 22 handicap, possessed of a beautiful swing but a head that gets into my game (the paralysis of analysis). Everyone tells me I should be shooting in the 80's but I manage to think myself into the 90's. I play around the Capital region in the "University Swinger's" league and for a group that styles itself "the royal and ancient order." I'm often seen at French's Hollow Fairways improving my vocabulary.
  • Sports:  A season ticket holder, I'm always optimistic about the Siena Saints! I played basketball and football in high school and still follow by favorite teams, The Chicago Bulls (when will Michael come back?), the Chicago Cubs (alas! hope springs eternal!), and the Chicago Bears (wait till next year!).
  • Wine:  I like my wines, especially red wines. My tastes run international (French, Spanish, Italian, Australian, Chilean) and national (California Cabernets, Merlots and Zinfandels). I like good food, good companionship, good music and good wine in combination. Currently I am drinking a lot of very good Australian and Italian wines.
  • Beer:  My taste runs to experimenting with micro-breweries and international beers. But I like Yuengling a lot. I especially like Belgian beers and have found one in the Belgian style that is brewed in Syracuse, New York with a Franciscan name -- Hennepin. It's really good!

A Card Carrying Member of the TV Generation 

  • The Serious stuff:  Arts & Entertainment, Bravo, the Discovery Channel, the Independent Film Channel, the Learning Channel, PBS. I watch literary miniseries and the Lehrer News Hour. I revel in documentaries. I record a bit and buy a lot of DVD's. Love to use them in class and share the goodies! I'm currently a devoted fan of "Deadwood" and am still in mourning with the passing of "Carnivale."
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  I love fantasy and special effects! My all-time favorite is "Babylon5" but I also have seen all of "Star Trek," "Star Trek: the Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine," and "Voyager." I watch the oldies, too, like "Max Headroom," "Alien Nation," "My Favorite Martian," and so forth. My current favorite is "Battlestar Gallactica" which is getting interestinger and interestinger!
  • Music:  I've followed MTV from the beginning but find its current "lifestyles of the young and bored" a bit much. Now I prefer music videos so I've been buying more DVD's.
  • Comedy: Not a Seinfeld fan (as a matter of fact have not been turned on by most of the "contemporary" sitcoms. I love the great classics (for me) are "Taxi," "I Love Lucy," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Cheers," "Mash," "Cid Caesar," "The Ernie Kovacs Show" (speaking of an old oldie!), "Third Rock From the Sun" and "Frasier" and so forth.
  • Movies:  Thank the Lord for Cable! Movies! Movies! Movies! Especially the older ones appeal to me on the American Movie Channel, Bravo, The Independent Film Channel, and Turner Classic Movies. My Tivo has been working overtime for me and my students.

Movies! Movies! Movies!

  • The Serious Stuff:  Favorite directors include Amador, Bergman, Antonioni, Fellini, the Australian and French New Wave directors, John Ford, Kurosawa, Van Trier, Kieslowski and so on. Some favorites in the foreign film genre include "The Last Wave," "Blue," "Red," "White,"   "Once Were Warriors," (!) "Black Orpheus," "Breaking the Waves"(!). I  taped 18 Kurosawa films and slowly worked my way through them. What an awesome talent!
  • Classics (from the 20's to the 50's):  Among the best are "Citizen Kane"(!), "Casablanca," "Grand Hotel," "Gone With the Wind," "An American in Paris," "The Passion of Joan of Arc," "Singing in the Rain," "The Best Years of Our Lives," the films of John Ford and films starring Paul Muni.
  • Independent Films:  Try watching "The Brothers McMullen," "Reservoir Dogs," "Paris, Texas," "Waterdance," "An Angel At Our Table," and "Clerks" for some real good cinema.
  • Comedies:  For chuckles I like to rewatch classics like "The Wrong Box," "A Fish Called Wanda," "Groundhog Day," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," the "Pink Panther" series, "Good Morning, Vietnam," "The Lavender Hill Mob," and "The In Laws."
  • Recent big hits in the Dalton household are "Syriana," "The Producers," "Crash," "Munich," "An Inconvenient Truth." We're keeping the Spectrum Theater of Albany in business!

They're Playing Our Song

    Tastes in music vary and mine vary all over the sonic spectrum. When people ask me my favorite type of music I can't answer. I just do something like the following:

  • Blues:  Some of the folks I listen to are BB King, Buddy Guy, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, Big Mama Thornton, Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker, John Hammond, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Otis Span, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Brownie McGhee Sonny Terry, and Stevie Vaughn. My tastes run to urban blues with strong guitar and piano.
  • Jazz:  A diehard fan of the Golden Age of Jazz, I lend my ears to Count Basie,  John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis(!), Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Les McCann, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughn, Satchmo and Duke Ellington. More recently, I've given listens to such as Keith Jarrett, Charles Lloyd, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Sample, Spyro Gyra, Grady Tate, and Sun Ra.
  • Classic Rock:  The heady days of youth return to the tones of Little Richard, Church Barry, the Persuasions, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Booker T. and the MG's, the Everly Brothers, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, the Coasters. Rhythm and blues and Motown are also in my sonic range.
  • The 60's and 70's:  Here I don't know where to begin or end. Another "golden age" of music in my book. Just a few of my many favorites are the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Byrds, Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Buchanan, Eric Clapton, Animals, the Band, Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, Canned Heat, Chambers Brothers, Chicago, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple, Dire Straits, Doors, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel, Genesis, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, Kinks, Led Zepplin, Love, Lovin Spoonful, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Mothers of Invention, Pink Floyd, Police, Procul Harum, Queen, Lou Reed, Rush, Santana, Simple Minds, Sly and the Family Stone, Bruce Springsteen, Them, Traffic, Velvet Underground, Who, Yardbirds, Yes, Neil Young, Youngblood, Zombies, ZZ Top.
  • New Wave/Alternative: Or whatever you want to call them in this postmodern age of broken categories! For instance, give a listen to Depeche Mode, the Art of Noise, Peter Gabriel, Kate Busch, Sting, U2, Suzanne Vega, Ani DiFranco, Dead Can Dance, Fiona Apple, Enigma, Blind Melon, 9 Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Crash Test Dummies, Laurie Anderson, Blues Traveler, Havalinas, Hooters, Indigo Girls, New Order, Ken Nordine, OMD, Tears For Fears, REM, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Prefab Sprout, Smithereens, Smiths, Talking Heads, King's X, Live, Fishbone, Sade, Skyskape. It's hard to keep up or categorize.
  • Heavy Metal:  Not all is noise for those who listen closely (but not too closely)! Try Metallica, Pantera, Anthrax, AC/DC, Rage Against the Machine, Biohazard, Scorpions, Primus and even the originators of the genre (Blue Cheer, Led Zepplin, Cream).
  • Country and Country Rock:  I'm not deep into this genre but enjoy the honesty and downhomedness of many country singers. It's one of the channels that my car radio is tuned to. Some folks who have impressed are the Byrds ("Sweetheart of the Rodeo"), Longbranch Pennywhistle, Beau Brummels ("Bradley's Barn"), Grateful Dead, Lyle Lovett, Patsy Cline, Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash, Flat and Scruggs, Earl Monroe and others.
  • Celtic: My 25% Irish heritage (and 100% Irish American wife) have led me to listen and appreciate the musics of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Gallicia. I would especially recommend the Chieftain, Wolftones, Enya, Clannad, Van Morrison, Cherish the Ladies, Tommy Makem, Noel Henry, O'Riada, Paddy Reilly, Planxty, Capercaille, Anuna, Erin's Pride, James Galway, Loreena McKennit, Liam O'Flynn and Paddy Reilly. Modern renditions include Black 47, the Cranberries, Solas and U2.
  • Folk Music: Having gone through a "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" period, I kept listening and it got better. I keep going back to Gordon Bok, Boys of the Lough, Arlo and Woody Guthrie, the Incredible String Band, Donovan, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Phil Ochs, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, Jesse Winchester and Joanne Armatrading. From time to time I get to the clubs and listen to the present generation of promise but not a lot of albums (alas, the record companies are not buying). Fortunately, XM radio has "the Village" that often plays in our household. Even Bob Dylan has a show there!
  • Techno: Although my tastes tend to run to ambient (Aphex Twin, Polygon Window, Vaporspace), I have been listening more and discovering such as Prodigy, Tricky, and Massive Attack. I am liking what I'm hearing.
  • Borderlands Music (my title):  As one who studies what happens when cultures come into contact with each other I like to listen to the music and look at the art produced by these events. What I find are often moments of intense creativity, genius and the promise of new forms. Through folks like Peter Gabriel and Johnny Clegg and Savuku (South Africa), much is coming into the mainstream but listen to the originals like the West Africans (Alpha Yaya Diallo, Jali Musa Jawara, Marje Kanti, Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Ebenezar Obey, Yousson N'Dour, Kondo bonga Man). Tejano, combining Mexican with Country and Western (Selena), Afro-Carribean (reggae, salsa, sosa), even Hindu rock (Jai Uttal's "Beggars & Saints") are resulting from the cross cultural listening of musicians. Currently I am listening to a lot of classic Cuban music including the Buena Vista Social Club, Ibrahim Ferrer, Barbarito Torres, Ruben Gonzales ( a magician on the piano at age 80!), Eliades Ochoa and Omata Portuondo. Give these folks a listen!
  • Rock/Jazz/Classical Fusion:  Musicians are beginning to listen across genres and well as across cultures. Exciting things happen when Elvis Costello works with the Brodsky Quartet ("The Juliet Letters"), when the Hilliard Ensemble sings to jazz sax accompaniment ("Officium"). Back in the 60's the Electric Prunes even tried an acid rock Latin mass ("Mass in F Minor"). It didn't work but was a great effort. More! More!

Reader of Books

    As a scholar I am a professional reader. But the young man (about ten years old) who got embarrassed when caught reading Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt to improve his table manners could read anything! A book is a world to grow up in and a place to find new worlds to travel to. Some books that I'm reading lately.

  • Novels: The History of the Seige of Lisbon (Jose Saramago), The Ground Beneath Her Feet (Salmon Rushdie),  The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Roberto Calasso), The Arcades Project (Walter Benjamin -- not really a novel but a kind of cultural/critical history), and all of the Harry Potter novels (they keep getting better and better!). I just finished Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy, all 2700 pages of it. Couldn't put it down--missed a few meals!
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Towing Jehovah (Morrow) and various Philip K. Dick novels. I am an admirer of the works of authors such as CJ Cherryh, JRR Tolkein, Stephen Donaldson, Evangeline Walton, Patricia McKillip, Andre Norton, Roger Zelazny, Sheri Teper and the multitude of Jordon fantasy novels.
  • Native literatures:  I have found that the best way into a culture is through its art and, when available, its literature. Thus I find myself reading works like Silko's Ceremony, Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Welsh's Winter in the Blood, Erdrich's The Beet Queen, Momaday's House Made of Dawn, Seal's Powwow Highway, Vizenor's Griever: An American Monkey King in China, Hogan's Mean Spirit, and Mudrooroo's Master of the Ghost Dreaming.
  • Poetry:  Thoughts for days and thoughts for years and images for forever come from folks I read like Dylan Thomas, Eavan Boland, John Montague, Seamus Heany, Sylvia Plath, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, William Carlos Williams, Chaucer, Dante, Tsaetaeva, Rimbaud, Aime Caesaire, TS Eliot, Rilke and many others.


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                                                                                          Last updated on August 21, 2006.


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