Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tom Waits and Bob Dylan: Immersive Listening

In the past my album listening went something like this: listen to the song(s) I really liked over and over (mostly the popular ones), listen to the first few seconds of other songs to see if the song "grabbed" me, and ignore the songs that didn't. This practice could brand me as shallow but many of the albums I bought when I was younger had only a couple of good songs so it's not surprising that I adopted this technique.

There were a few albums where I didn't follow this practice: "Pink Floyd The Wall" and "Stop Making Sense" by the Talking Heads are two that come to mind. Between junior high school when I bought "The Wall" through the end of high school when I bought "Stop Making Sense" I didn't buy any albums at all. Sure, I would have been perfectly happy with "Diary of a Madman" (Ozzie Osborne) and "The B-52s" but I just never plunked down the cash for them.

My album listening technique changed when I started getting into Tom Waits. I started out with his second album "Heart of Saturday Night" and it's a wonder to behold in its entirety. After that, I bought his first album "Closing Time," another wonder, then I bought "Mule Variations."

"Mule Variations" came out in 1999 and was completely different from his early work, even his voice was different with its growling rasp. The first time I heard the album my thought was "What is this shit?" I immediately put the CD away and didn't listen to it for months afterwards. However, and this is a testament to Tom's songwriting and performing, certain phrases and melodies kept floating through my mind. Eventually I gave it another listen and it now remains as one of my favorite Waits albums.

All of this prepared me for Bob Dylan, and I'm finding songs that didn't grab me right away on his albums tend to latch on later. This is why I believe complete immersion in his albums is mandatory for me. I listened to "Highway 61 Revisited" for at least a month before I moved on to "Blonde on Blonde" then I listened to both albums for two more months before moving onto "Bringing It All Back Home."

On "Highway 61" the songs "From a Buick 6," "Queen Jane Approximately," and "Highway 61 Revisited" didn't grab me right away. "From a Buick 6" had a smeared out, diluted sound to me that I didn't like, I didn't know what to make of "Queen Jane" as Bob seemed pushed his vocal capabilities to their limits, and "Highway 61 Revisited" had a jarring quality with a whistle that punctuates parts of the song.

I love all these songs now and the entire album competes with "Blonde on Blonde" as my favorite album of all time knocking "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" off its pedestal where it had been since I was a child. None of this appreciation would have been possible had I not first heard "Mule Variations" and changed my ideas about the necessity of immersing myself in new albums.

It helps, of course, that both Tom and Bob are noted for their superior songwriting capabilities. Sometimes I think both men appeal to me so much because they are storytellers. Many of their songs have characters who move through a story even if it's a very short one. I also think that I love the surreal lyrics to some of Bob's songs because I enjoy writing my own "surreal" blog posts.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Blog - Mock Turtle's Life In Immersion

I decided to start a new blog devoted to the many subjects I like to immerse myself in. You can see the link there on the right next to Fainting In Coils. As I mentioned before one of my best friends remarked that I like to immerse myself completely in a subject while I'm learning about it. My obsession with Bob is a good example.

My current immersions are The Films of Akira Kurosawa and The Ramones. Bob is an ongoing immersion.

While pondering this trait of mine I realized I was making tremendous effort towards learning these subjects but never writing down my thoughts about them and what I learned in the process. It seems I'm selling myself short so I decided a new blog would be the best way to track these projects and surveys. I don't know how often I'll be posting but I'll try to make a note on the right with the current post title.

I'll probably continue to post things about Bob on this blog as well as on the new one depending on the subject matter. In addition, I moved the first post about the Ramones to the new blog because it seemed appropriate.

I would be honored and happy if you all would join me on my new blog but the primary purpose of it is to provide a place for me to gather my thoughts about the current immersions.

Thanks for reading.

The Ramones: First Album

I can't resist posting the iconic cover from this first album (1976). I love it! From left to right: Johnny Ramone (lead guitar), Tommy Ramone (drummer), Joey Ramone (frontman), and Dee Dee Ramone (bass).

Based on the first album alone The Ramones really knew their own minds.

A list of what they want:
  • to "Hey Ho, Let's Go."
  • to be your boyfriend.
  • to sniff some glue.
  • to beat you up ('cause you're a loudmouth).
  • to listen to their hearts (so well, they can be smart).
  • to dance (Baby, won't you take a chance?).
  • to make them loco, to make them mambo.
A list of what they DON'T want:
  • to go down to the basement (Hey, Romeo).
  • to walk around with you.
  • to be learned, to be tamed.
In addition, they give out some advice:
  • beat on the brat (with a baseball bat).
  • the difficulty of turning tricks (on 53rd and 3rd).
  • you should never open the door (while they're holding the ax).

This list doesn't include other wants and don't wants from subsequent albums such as "I want to be sedated" and "I don't want to grow up."

I bought the CD at Borders Books and Music for the bargain price of $7.99, a steal for a new CD with 22 tracks. This is a reissue of their first album and includes eight bonus tracks, mostly demos of the original songs. The entire album clocks in at 44.6 minutes and the average length for each song is 2.02 minutes. The longest song, "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (demo version)" clocks in at 3.02 minutes, the shortest song, "Judy is a Punk," is 1.33 minutes long. Sometimes it's difficult to tell when one song ends and the next one begins.

The demo versions are great! The pace is faster and the songs sound rougher overall. This is a very good thing. Years ago while learning about the history of rock 'n roll I found I appreciated a more raw and unrefined sound for most of my favorite bands. I always felt a ballsy sound had more energy.

Blasting The Ramones at maximum volume in my gray, dented Hyundai while driving through Golden Gate Park at 12:30 a.m. was pure bliss. I felt a great aaaahhhhhh come over me. Hearing Dee Dee's iconic "1-2-3-4" shout and the band's driving guitar both relaxes me and makes me want to jump up and down while furiously shaking my head.

The glee of recognition permeates the music as well as the tongue-in-cheek dark subjects in some of the songs. You can hear a thousand punk garage bands picking up their instruments. You can hear the influences near and far. From The Sex Pistols to Rancid to Green Day, they all started here with this album.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Immersion History

One of my best friends pointed out that I tend to "immerse" myself in subjects I'm interested in. My current obsession with Bob Dylan is probably the most obvious example but there are others.

It all started with my fascination with films. I wanted learn more about Weimar Cinema (that is, German cinema from 1918-1933). I decided to compile a list of films to watch, read three books while watching the films, and watched all the documentaries and commentaries. Most of the films I watched were by director Fritz Lang but there were others. Here's the list of films:

Spiders - The Golden Sea, 1919 (dir. Lang)
Spiders - The Diamond Ship, 1920 (dir. Lang)
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, 1920 (dir. Wiene)
Nosferatu, 1922 (dir. Murnau)
The Last Laugh, 1925 (dir. Murnau)
Faust, 1926 (dir. Murnau)
Metropolis, 1927 (dir. Lang)
Spies, 1928, (dir. Lang)
Pandora's Box, 1929 (dir. Pabst)
M, 1931 (dir. Lang)
The Testament of Doctor Mabuse, 1933 (dir. Lang)
Triumph of Will, 1935 (dir. Riefenstahl)

I won't go into each one but I will tell you Nosferatu, Metropolis, and M are the must see films. Also worth seeing: The Last Laugh, Pandora's Box, and The Testament of Doctor Mabuse. My two personal favorite films are M (with Peter Lorre, one of my favorite actors, in his best role) and The Testament of Doctor Mabuse. I added these films to my collection.

I know, I know. Metropolis used to be one of my favorite films of all time, and it was on my top ten list for decades. For its innovation, beauty, and far reaching influence nothing beats Metropolis. Almost all modern science fiction films are directly influenced by Metropolis, most obviously Blade Runner, but I found M and The Testament of Doctor Mabuse to be far more compelling stories.

Triumph of Will is the notorious Nazi propaganda film which documents the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. Even with the subject matter, Leni Riefenstahl's film is considered groundbreaking, particularly in the area of cinematography.

After my review of German cinema I turned next to the films of Akira Kurosawa. This survey has taken me years to get through and I'm now at the very end of it with one more film to watch: Ran. I'll talk about Kurosawa in a separate post.

I've dabbled in other subjects without personally assigning them to immersion status such as my surveys of South Korean cinema and the Northern Renaissance. I realized I was selling myself short by making all this effort to get into these subjects but I wasn't writing about them and this is why I started this blog.

Thanks for reading.

Bob's New Album "Together Through Life" Released Today

Bob's 33rd album is finally available. I'd been planning on buying a used version later but I may bite the bullet and get the deluxe CD version for full price. It's all about supporting the man and all. Not that he needs my support but it's the principle of the thing, I guess.

Bob's official website offered one of the songs "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" for a one day download. I have it, of course, and I love it.

Bob's also going on a Summer tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp at minor league baseball fields. So far he'll be in Fresno and Stockton. I'm waiting for more dates to be announced to see if he'll be playing closer to home.

City Life: While I Watched Out For A Simple Twist Of Fate

***Note: This was also posted on Facebook. Most people don't read my long-ish notes posted there.

I met a friend for lunch. While consuming hummus out of an environmentally incorrect plastic container we pondered the flakiness of fellow humanity. I threw away the large plastic container with all its cringe inducing squareness but I recycled the Snapple bottle. Does that even things out?

After lunch I deliberately wandered down to the Financial District. I tried to make it look like I was out for a random stroll but not even the strangers who were paying attention were fooled. I saw a former colleague on her way to BART. She tried to pretend she didn't see me. I smiled at her through my oversized Raybans. She looked great in her high heels, shoes I could never wear.

The wind howled through those small concrete canyons of the District. It pushed and blew my long hair around. I gave up trying to get the tangles out. I longed to strip off my coat and throw my arms wide open to the wind as it slammed into me and nearly knocked me over while I stood on the corner of Market and Montgomery. It was all I could do to keep my iPod phones in my ears. Dylan's breakup songs from "Blood on the Tracks" provided my soundtrack.

Later, at the the Ferry Building I sat pondering the waves on the Bay and the construction of the boats. I managed to force myself to not buy a cup of Peets or Starbucks. I kept telling myself I really wasn't doing anything but in truth I was waiting. Eventually my time came. I walked slowly to the Kinkos at Sacramento St. and Davis. I think I might have had resolution to the mission I'd set for myself but I can't be sure. After I made my copies, I stood outside and contemplated that if I were a chain smoker I'd be having a cigarette while watching a MUNI bus parallel park in front of me. Instead, I fiddled unnecessarily with my iPod phones and called another colleague for coffee. No one was around and I turned slowly without looking up and walked back towards MUNI. I walked some more, determined to continue my spell of supposed aimless wandering but then my iPod crapped out from lack of charge plus my legs were tired. The spell was broken.

MUNI underground or above to home? Tough question. It was rush hour, after all.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Movie Musings: The Wages of Fear (1953)

Those guys might have been lowlife scumbags but they sure knew what the hell they were doing.

I just finished watching a film by French director Henri-Georges Clouzot, "Le Salaire de la Peur" or "The Wages of Fear," made in 1953. I had never heard of it before but saw it in the Criterion section at a DVD store. As soon as I read a synopsis of the film I had to rent it.

In a squalid South American oil town, four drifters are recruited for a suicide job: transport two trucks loaded with nitroglycerin 200 miles over a mountainous road to a burning oil field. Any bump or hole could set off their cargo. Their reward if they survive? $2,000 U.S. dollars, a fortune. They meet plenty of obstacles including their own fears and conflicts. Through it all these men show an admirable resourcefulness and courage.

The film is renowned as being one of the most suspenseful films ever made, and it had me on the edge of my seat once the action got started. The first half hour or 40 minutes is slow, showing the men, their circumstances, and the people in the town. The only way to describe the town is that it's an absolute shit hole. You can't blame them for wanting to leave.

The film was criticized for showing an uncaring American oil company in a foreign country that brazenly exploits the local workers. These scenes were cut when the film was released here in 1955. I was surprised at how honest these scenes were and applaud the director for showing what we now know U.S. corporations can be like.

It was also criticized for being sexist because one of the female characters is shown as a beautiful but bullied woman who scrubs the floors while on her hands and knees. Her man treats her badly and pushes her around.

The film is gloriously shot in black and white, and the editing is superb. I found myself rewinding to watch some scenes and pausing to look at certain moments in detail. Part of the pleasure is watching the characters' emotional journeys. They start out with a swagger, high and mighty and self-confident. Soon they become sweaty, dirty, bickering men, terrified of falling rocks and puddles. How each character reacts to this fear varies: wallowing in cowardice and single-minded ruthless survival both rear their ugly heads. Through it all the men are tied together for they can't survive without each other. Towards the end of their journey there is nothing left but compassion and tears. This is marvelous storytelling.

The film comes full circle with a twist proving its existentialist leanings.

William Friedkin, the great director of "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist," did a remake in 1977 called "Sorcerer." I'm looking forward to watching it and doing a comparison with this film.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Life: The Mental Slog

Bob Dylan, around 1965 perhaps

I rearranged my desk to make it more inspirational for writing. There's a postcard of Rembrandt, some of my art books, some of my favorite non-fiction and fiction books, my own sketchbook open and displayed, a picture of me and a statute of a gryphon at Kew Gardens, and pictures of Bob. After careful searching I made the above picture my tiled wallpaper.

I love seeing this picture when I boot up my computer. I don't know what Bob's writing but I like to think he's working on one of his songs. He both hand wrote and typed his music. This picture makes me want to sit down and write too.

Lately I've been thinking of giving up fiction writing even though I've joined a writing group, bought an online writing course, and have been making great progress on my novel. I keep wondering what would happen if I just stopped but stopping doesn't feel right. On the other hand I feel like I cling to writing like a swimmer clings to a rock surrounded by the incoming tide.

I don't know what I would do with the left over void if I stopped. So much of my life has been set up to support it. Maybe that's my problem. I've put too much into it and let it take over my life.

These thoughts come out of the inevitable slog that writing is. It takes a very long time to write a novel, progress is slow, and there are no guarantees you or anybody else will like the finished product. Lately, I've been noticing how much writing wears me down mentally. So much of what I like to do is mentally oriented: writing and learning new subjects are at the top of the list. My brain seems to go on overload lately. It rebels. It wants to ditch writing for something else. "I need rest," my poor brain says.

Tom Robbins, author of "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues," said that a writer needs to do the following things everyday: 1) get at least 30 minutes of exercise to counteract the mental overload, 2) stare up at the sky (day or night, doesn't matter) for 30 minutes a day, 3) read poetry everyday, and 4) do something to keep your sexual energy up and channel that into your writing. He famously said, "Get yourself into that extreme state next to madness. You should always write with an erection. Even if you're a woman." Frankly, all of that sounds even more exhausting to me.

Last Monday I showed up at my writer's group, but no one else was there because of a scheduling mishap. I wrote for an hour anyway but before I did I reread last week's entry from my previous writer's group. I hadn't really thought about it but what I read was lovely! It wasn't perfect, needed more fleshing out and polishing but I loved the way the characters were interacting. It was subtle and poignant. To think I hadn't really thought about it until I reread it was a complete surprise.

Between being on mental overload and having experiences like the one in the previous paragraph makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a major tug-of-war. How on earth do I keep going when it's clear I have to keep moving forward? I'm just so tired, but then I look at the picture above on my tiled wallpaper and I just want to sit down and write some more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"We'll Have To Do Something Off Our First Album Now. TAKE IT DEE DEE!!"

When I was in 6th grade I was introduced to the new music known as punk via my older brother's interesting musical tastes. My brother had a large collection of 8-track tapes and the most notorious one was "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols." As a nervous youngster I took to covering it up when I saw it because of the word "Sex" in the title. Later, I moved beyond my brother's influence with The Ramones.

I was never a punk kid even though I kinda wanted to be. I was very goody-two-shoes, everyone called me a "schoolgirl." I was drawn to punk because I wanted to shock people, I guess. Secretly, I wanted a mohawk haircut and to wear leather jackets. Punk was so pure, unencumbered, and straightforward with The Ramones music being the most straightforward of them all. I was surfing around on youtube tonight and there are several clips of The Ramones performing at the US festival in 1982. While viewing them I was reminded that Ramones songs are economical. Many of the songs are very short, less than three minutes long, so you get lots of songs in a short amount of time. The driving guitar style, the fast pace. It's spare and brilliant. Here's a clip. It clocks in at about 2 minutes.

Years later, sometime in the early 1990s, I was driving somewhere and listening to Live 105 in the morning and the Alex Bennett Show. He was interviewing frontman Joey Ramone and they were having a nice chat. It's strange but his speaking voice** was and still is instantly recognizable to me. I can't remember when and where I first heard it but it's seared into my memory. Alex and Joey were talking about how much they like housework. Joey was saying he likes vacuuming and doing the dishes. Alex was really getting into this conversation thread and ran with it asking him if he likes other household chores like dusting. Alex and Joey then had the following exchange:

Alex: "So what about ironing? Do you like that because I like ironing."

(Joey doesn't answer. A very long pause.)

Joey: "Ironing. I don't know. Does it look like I iron?"

Alex (spoken quickly): "No, no, no, of course not."

Alex quickly moved onto other topics, but even though the topic was over I was laughing so hard in my car I could barely see where I was going. I kept picturing Joey Ramone with an iron, holding it up and looking at it quizzically.

For some reason I seem to be the only person on the planet who heard that interview because I've mentioned it to others who like The Ramones and they've never heard it. I suppose I can count myself blessed.

Joey Ramone died on April 15, 2001 of lymphoma, eight years ago today. Two other members Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Ramone died within three years. Thank goodness we still have their music.

**Note: this link redirects to an interview with Joey about Iggy Pop. Iggy's an extreme performer and his onstage antics are both legendary and groundbreaking. You'll get a small taste of them in this link.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two More Unflattering Self-Portraits

I messed around with the two below. I've printed the first one for my wall, along with the two from yesterday (middle one and last one).

Three Unflattering Self-Portraits

I wasn't trying to take unflattering self-portraits but I have to admit I've always liked the pictures that came out of this particular evening. I was experimenting with taking photos using just the computer screen light to see how they would come out.

This evening I started experimenting with colors, exposure, contrast, etc. and the results are the pictures you see below.

I love how harsh this picture looks. I'm particularly enamored of blue around my eyes and on my hair. I look paranoid.

I love how the pictures contrast with each other, color-wise. The warmish colors really seem to suit my expression in this picture.

This is probably my favorite one. The original is even more unflattering. I love the color on my lips even though I'm wearing lip balm.

There's something oddly liberating about taking unflattering pictures of myself. Never one to shy away from the camera, I'm always ready with a smile so these pictures show a different side of me that I like very much. Besides I love portraiture and I'm always curious about where else you can go beyond the "stand there and smile" shots.

I've been slowly adding more decor to my stripped down apartment and have made good progress with rearranging my desk. I thought about finding some cheap, but interesting pictures to frame for the area above my couch then I thought I'd see if there were unusual photos I could modify and print. I'm not sure if I'll be using the above photos but I wanted to see how they'd look posted.

Oh, and below is another self-portrait from the same night in case you don't know me and think I must be an ugly troll.

Monday, April 06, 2009

2008 River Cruise: My Day Alone in Prague - Prague Castle

The next day my tour mates and I were having breakfast. We had a free day to ourselves and everyone else, it seemed, had booked excursions. I had not and explained this to G and N. They looked at me like I told them I was going to sell drugs in the lobby.

N: "What are you going to do today?"

Me (lying): "I'm not sure. I'll figure something out."

In fact, I knew perfectly well what I was going to do, I just didn't want anyone to talk me out of it or to give me shit so I chose not to share my plans. After everyone left for their excursions I got ready to go. I talked to the concierge and asked her how to get to Prague Castle. The directions were simple enough: take the subway three stops out and get on the tram going up the hill. She paused, looked at me with a little pity it seemed, and then told me to watch out for pickpockets. I rolled my eyes at her and then walked out of the hotel. I may be an American easy to spot five blocks away, but I can handle myself.

The subway was a piece of cake. Very easy to use, easy to figure out which direction you're going in. It was very much like riding on the London Tube even the trains were about the same size, that smaller size, like toy trains. I exited the station and found the tram stop right outside. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out which direction I was going in then I talked to a small group of tourists who were also going to Prague Castle. The young dark haired woman who was serving as tour guide said to exit the tram when they do since we were all going to the same place.

Riding on the tram gave me a nice little view of Prague. It was very much like riding MUNI what with easy to spot tourists, locals who looked curiously at me, unwashed homeless people sleeping in the seats, and students laden with book bags. To minimize attention to myself I chose not to take any photographs on the way up to the Castle. It was a beautiful day. Cold, of course, but very clear and sunny.

Once I got to Prague Castle I went straight to the National Gallery at Sternberg Palace. It was just off the main square located in front of the castle and not very expensive. There were very few people and I slowly wandered through the galleries. They had a nice little collection of art including a few paintings by Durer, Rubens, and Bruegel the Elder. It made me a little sad for although the building the collection is housed in is a palace they didn't have enough money to keep the collection in the proper temperature controlled environment, nor did they have a good control of the sunlight in the rooms. After my visit I found out that the Prague National Gallery collections are housed in several buildings around the city and I had only seen one.

I spent at least two hours walking slowly through and making sketches. Most of the time I had whatever room I was in to myself. After a while the security guards started following me around, taking turns, watching me. I suppose someone like me is a red flag for them.

The picture above is an excerpt from my sketchbook. The top sketch is a detail from Ruben's "The Expulsion of Adam and Eve", 1620. This was a small painting, perhaps 11 x 17. The signs didn't say what the medium was but it appeared to oil on canvas. Even so the original has a sketchy, watercolory feel to it. I love the movement in this small picture. You see Death grabbing Eve's hair in a strange kind of twisted dance. His other hand is grabbing Adam's arm but I decided not to draw him. On the far left of the original painting is a sketchy, much less defined picture of the Archangel Michael with his flaming sword and the gates of Eden.

The bottom sketch is a fragment of a marble relief from the 12 Century. It's a gryphon, of course. Since I went on my NYC/Washington D.C. trip alone I've been sketching gryphons wherever I can find them. I added the color later with my new watercolor pencils. You can double click on the picture to see more details. I took the picture at 8 megapixals so it's very large.

I went into one of the side galleries on the way out and wandered through to the end where there was a massive altarpiece with six huge panels. I couldn't find the sign with artist's name but I'm judging it was from the 16th century. At least it was in a darkened room. I spent a long time in that little room staring at this altarpiece. It was very interesting, the figures were brightly colored, and the entire piece had a cartoon feel to it. A security guard had followed me into the room and stood there as I looked and looked at the painting for close to 10 minutes.

I don't take photographs in museums anymore even without a flash but I found a nice website which will give you an idea of what the museum is like.

After I left I went out to the main square at the Castle. The light was perfect for some pictures of the square and the city:

Some very fine street musicians in the square. They are playing almost directly across from Prague Castle entrance.

As you can see Prague is a beautiful city.

To the left of these last two pictures is a big staircase leading to the bottom of the hill. I was happy I wasn't walking up them.

My attempts to get a picture without people in it was in vain. This was the best I could do.

Next post: My Day Alone in Prague - The Charles Bridge.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"If I did sell out, it would be ladies' garments."

So said Bob during his 1965 press conference here in SF. I'm sure all of you have seen Bob's infamous Victoria's Secret ad from a couple of years ago. It features underwear model Adriana Lima and Bob in Venice. Bob's song "Lovesick" is on the soundtrack.

Click here to see it on youtube.

The ad caused quite a bit of controversy when it first aired. It was the first commercial Bob had ever appeared in and plenty of people were upset. Some people said Bob had finally sold his soul.

I think the ad is hilarious and weirdly sexy at the same time.

Although I'm late to the party I have to say that Bob gets to do whatever he wants. Let's say you're a straight male between the ages of 18-99 and Victoria's Secret shows up with the following offer: we'll fly you to Venice for two days all expenses paid, you get to hang out with some ridiculously beautiful women cavorting about in their underwear, and we'll pay you a bunch of money. What male wouldn't say yes to that offer?

Or as Bob himself said, "Was I not supposed to do that?"

Movie Musings: Watchmen

I saw Watchmen last night. Initially, I didn't want to see it because I didn't understand the story from seeing the trailers, but plenty of people seemed to like it and it was getting good reviews.

I really liked it a lot. Even more so now that I've had a day to let it sink in. And it's worth seeing on the big screen.

It started out well for me. The opening title sequence was spectacular. I thought that was just my opinion because they set it to Bob singing "The Times They Are A-Changing" but apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way.

The story is unusual. It's not the typical superhero story so it will take some getting used to. Most of the characters are very well done. Both Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian and Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach turned in great performances. I loved Jackie Earl Haley's vigilante borderline sociopath.

The real star of the movie is the story world itself in all its beauty and gritty awfulness. The sets, the costumes, the story world's technologies, how they used the music, the story world's history, the characters' back stories, and the cinematography all come together beautifully to immerse the audience in the Watchmen universe.

The movie has great action sequences and special effects. It's also really violent and gory even by my standards. A couple of scenes made me squirm in my chair. There's a very explicit sex scene filmed in slow motion. Still, I thought these scenes made sense in the Watchmen story world and made sense for the characters. Nothing was out of place.

I'm probably going to see it again tomorrow on the IMAX. I recommend it highly but you have been warned. The movie seriously earns its R rating.

P.S. Oh, and three of Bob's songs are in it. "The Times They Are A-Changing" as I mentioned, Jimi's version of "All Along The Watchtower," and an abbreviated punk cover of "Desolation Row" by My Chemical Romance.