Thursday, May 28, 2009

For The Loser Now...

"Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'."
- Bob, of course.

I'm playing this song over and over again right now. I'm feeling down about the job hunt, seriously down. A few people have told me that I'm not going to find another job in my field and I need to think of something else to do. It certainly seems like this is the truth. I have next to zero prospects right now and nothing seems to be coming on the horizon.

I have no idea else I can do that's viable. It seems all the things I've come up with requires training/schooling or a risk. I'm really not up for taking a big risk right now. If it was something really incredible I'd consider it but I can't really think of anything that would work.

Here are some things I've come up with:
  • Some kind of art tour guide or art teacher (at least 4 years of school for me).
  • A sommelier (at least 2 years of school for me.)
  • A contract worker (the most obvious thing to do but it's not making me happy to consider the idea).
I've always wanted to work for a while and then travel for a period of time, then work some more and then travel, etc. A contract position would work for this lifestyle change but the thought of having to deal with the instability and the change in my lifestyle is incredibly stressful to me.

I'm so fucking upset about having to figure this shit out right now. I know, I know. I gotta figure something out, I have to think outside the box. I know. I know.

I feel like such a loser. I keep telling myself the wheel's still in spin. It's not going to be this way forever. I know it won't. I can't believe the only solution out there right now is to either become an entrepreneur or to completely change careers. Fuck.

Oh, and if you know me, don't bother calling. I'm not going to answer my phone for a while or my email. I'm sick and tired of being told I HAVE to figure this shit out. Leave me alone.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Movie Musings: In Bruges

"In Bruges" is a black hole of a comedy. Two hitmen have to leave town (London) after screwing up a job to lay low in Bruges and wait for the boss to call. Ken (Brendon Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Ferrall) have very different reactions to the town. Ken finds himself drawn into the enchantment that is Bruges, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. Ray is suffering from guilt and is restless and bored.

Eventually, Harry the boss calls (Ralph Fiennes) and then the trouble really starts. The script is funny, sad, and disturbing. The profanity in the film has been raised to an art form, especially with Ralph Fiennes' character. Bruges itself is shown off to gorgeous advantage. The film is violent and gory, and the characters show a tremendously flawed humanity.

The quote below made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a very long time. I was laughing so hard I had to keep stopping and rewinding this part. Ray (Ferrell) is in a bar hopped up on a gram of cocaine and goes to talk to Jimmy, an American dwarf in town for a film shoot. Jimmy happens to be accompanied by a good-looking prostitute named Denise.

Ray (looking down at Jimmy and Denise, very wide eyed, pupils dilated): Why didn't you wave hello to me today when I waved hello to you today?
Jimmy: I was on a very strong horse tranquilizer today; Wasn't waving hello to anybody. Except... maybe to a horse.
Ray: Huh? What are you talking about?
Jimmy: Just horseshit.
Ray: You from America?
Jimmy: Yeah. Don't hold it against me.
Ray (eyes getting wider): Well, that's for me to decide, isn't it?
Ray: [to Denise] You from America too?
Denise: No, I'm from Amsterdam.
Ray (scoffs): Amsterdam! Amsterdam's just a lot of bloody prostitutes, isn't it?
Denise: Yes, that's why I came to Bruges. Been trying to get a better price for my pussy here.
[Jimmy is sipping his beer, he nods knowingly]
Ray: Huh?
Ray: You two are weird. Would you like some cocaine?

The next scene where everyone is doing drugs includes Jimmy's cocaine fueled, politically incorrect comments about race relations. What makes this scene so funny is that Jimmy is an angry dwarf who smokes, lounges around with his shirt open, says the word "fuck" as much as the others (but not more than Ralph Fiennes' character), and has a streetwise weariness about him. As odd as this scene is Jimmy's character feels like a real person to me, and he belongs in this story world even if he was originally conceived is a caricature from a Bosch painting.

I can't stand Colin Ferrell but he does well here. Brendan Gleeson is wonderful as warm-hearted Ken, as is Ralph Fiennes' sociopath boss with an iron morality. I recommend it but you have been warned about the violence and relentless profanity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

City Life: North Beach

I had to get out of the house last Thursday and decided to wander around North Beach. I haven't been on a neighborhood walk in a long time. North Beach is considered the Little Italy neighborhood here in SF. The unofficial beginning of the neighborhood starts at the top of Columbus Ave. where the Transamerica Pyramid is located.

I've taken this picture of the Pyramid before for this blog but here's an updated one that's actually in focus.

The day was beautiful. Sunny, slightly cool, and breezy. My walk consisted of taking MUNI to Embarcadero Station and then walking to the Pyramid where I pulled out my camera and started my stroll.

North Beach is bordered by Chinatown and you can see a few Chinese restaurants along the way as well as the numerous Italian restaurants.

Here's a quick side view at the top of Grant Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Chinatown.

The first major retail landmark is City Lights Bookstore and Publishers. City Lights is the world famous bookstore and historical landmark that published Allen Ginsberg's book, Howl and Other Poems. City Lights was considered a major center, or the epicenter, of the Beat Generation.

I've always felt that City Lights is infused with a feeling of austerity and seriousness about it. This is where serious literature happens, folks. There are chairs and they encourage reading. The upstairs section is devoted to poetry, very fitting. The main part of the store is mostly fiction. Downstairs has more non-fiction books like philosophy, music, film, etc. The store has beautiful dark wood shelves and staircases. There's a rich wooden, slightly oily polished smell about the place. It also encourages a slow progression through the main part of the store because there a couple of small flights of stairs which I am always in danger of tripping over.

I sat for a bit on a long wooden bench downstairs and read parts of Bob's "Chronicles, Vol. 1." I'm practically drooling over getting it but I can't spare the $15 right now. No matter. I'll get it later.

Part of the storefront.

On Columbus Ave. looking back at the Pyramid. You can see the long City Lights storefront on the right side there.

I love seeing this sign in Italian.

Nearby at the intersection of Columbus and Broadway is a small area devoted to strip clubs. The area used to be much larger but has been gentrified. The world famous Condor Club was located on this corner and has the distinction of being America's first topless, and later bottomless, bar. The Condor was bought out and turned into a restaurant but now it's back to being a topless bar again.

Although you can't see it in this picture The Beat Museum is located right where that light yellow building is. I should have popped in for a visit.

While walking further up the street I saw the wonderfully muralled building you see below. Also, there are a bunch of plastic replicas of books hanging up above that corner. At first I thought someone had hung up a bunch of those Styrofoam take out containers (after all there's a profusion of Chinese restaurants right around the corner) but they are meant to be fluttering books. On the pavement below them are letters and words scattered around. It's made to look like the words just spilled out of the books during mid-flight. A little odd but charming nonetheless. Reminds me of Harry Potter.

You can see a couple of the white plastic books on the right there.

Fluttering, fluttering...

Some of the words that have "fallen" on the pavement.

The Stinking Rose is a famous restaurant devoted to copious quantities of garlic. I've eaten there once and the food was all right. My friend ordered chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. The chicken was cooked well but the 40 cloves of roasted garlic were so outstanding that I was popping them into my mouth and eating them straight. No one wanted to be around me after that. I had garlic coming out of my pores for at least two days afterwards.

North Beach is a prime restaurant neighborhood and the number of Italian restaurants and Italian style cafes is overwhelming. It's pretty expensive too but there are a lot of tourists who come here to visit. Parking is generally bad, but on a Friday or Saturday night it's impossible. It can take more than an hour to find parking here. Better to take MUNI or a cab.

One of the many cafes in this neighborhood.

The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi is located here. A lovely little church, I used to come here at lunch when I was really stressed out. The church itself was closed but the former gymnasium was open. A docent welcomed me inside and told me about the lovely new chapel, the "Nuova Porzincola" which had just opened late last year. It is an exact replica of the original "Porzincola" in Assisi but built to three quarter size. Everything has been reproduced including the chips on the stones that make up the building and some graffiti carved into a fresco on the outside! The frescos inside are also properly chipped. It's a sweet little space, lovingly built.

Outside of the National Shrine.

The docent, standing there in orange, asked me not to take photos while inside.

Up the street from the church I walked past this wonderful Italian deli. Super sumptuous!

Z Cioccolato, a fudge/candy store is across the street. A very friendly and welcoming place, they give you small slivers of free fudge. I tried Tiger fudge with stripes of chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter. Yum! They also sell fresh caramel popcorn for 25 cents for a small bag. Great for people like me on a budget!

The sign that hooked me!

Inside the store...

Next up, Washington Square Park and Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Much larger than the National Shrine, this church has a wonderful interior. The pictures are a bit dark because they didn't have the lights on and I try to be respectful about not taking pictures with a flash inside. I don't want to disturb others in meditation and prayer.

Front doors.

The rose window. I shouldn't have taken this shot at an angle but you'll still get an idea for the window colors.

Inside the church. Weddings here must be beautiful. I like the huge painting of Christ over the altar. Something comforting and majestic about it.

As I walked across the front of the church, a little old man was sitting in the front row, praying. He was stooped, with a delicately formed cheekbones, steel blue eyes, white hair, and knotted, arthritic hands. He asked me when Mass was going to start as he tottered on his cane in the pew. I told him I didn't know but it was 4:32 pm. He sat down with a sigh. "It's going to start soon, very soon," he muttered. I went around to the back of the church and a middle aged Hispanic woman with brassy red brown hair, green glasses, and a slightly faded watermelon colored tote apologetically handed me a few prayer cards. I thanked her graciously. I figured I was getting a message from somewhere when one of the cards read "You are not an accident." I had been feeling a bit worthless due to job hunt blues and it was a nice statement to see.

I sat in the last pew as is my usual custom. The only noise was the distant sounds of the street and two young boys in white polo shirts and gray shorts who came into the church a couple times and peered into several of the chapels. Clearly, they were playing a game of some kind. I heard another sound, a distant muttering, and I realized the little old man still seated in the front pew had gone back to saying his prayers.

Washington Square Park bordered by Columbus Ave., Union, Stockton, and Filbert Streets.

A view of SF landmark, Coit Tower, framed by trees in Washington Square Park.

Across the street from the park is a broken down building with a wonderful mural. I especially like the sign "Enough with the plywood." It adds a humorous touch.

A block down from the building above is our famed Lombard Street, the Crookest Street in the World. You can see the cars driving down it.

North Beach ends pretty much at Washington Square Park. If you keep walking down away from the Transamerica Pyramid you'll reach Fisherman's Wharf at the end of the street.

A shot of Columbus Ave. looking back towards the Financial District and the Transamerica Pyramid.

I walked back the way I came and encountered one of our iconic cable cars.

Also iconic is the show "Beach Blanket Babylon," a musical revue that's been running since 1974. They change the show frequently to reflect the current political climate and pop culture. A very entertaining way to spend an evening especially if you have dinner in this neighborhood first.

I walked back towards the Financial District. North Beach in the afternoon is idyllic and beautiful. North Beach at night on the weekends is crowded and exciting. I highly recommend a visit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mike's Earliest Known Painting

Today the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas put out a press release stating they have acquired the earliest known painting by Michelangelo. They are very proud and rightly so. Michelangelo, or Mike as my art teacher was fonding of calling him in lectures, apparently painted this picture when he was 12 or 13 years old. Below is an image of the painting:

The Torment of St. Anthony, oil and tempura on wood, 1487-1488

There was some controversy over the authenticity of the painting but a rigorous examination and restoration by the Metropolitan Museum of Art provided positive confirmation.

Mike was obviously influenced by Martin Schongauer's famous engraving. Check out the image below:

St. Anthony Tormented by Demons, engraving, ca. 1470-1475

Mike's painting has more details like fish scales which the engraving doesn't have. The rocky landscape reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci's landscape in his Virgin of the Rocks. I have no idea if Mike was influenced by this painting or ever saw it, but you can see the similarities. Perhaps it was just a commonly used convention at that time. See below:

Virgin of the Rocks, oil on panel, ca. 1483-1486. This one is in the Louvre. Leonardo painted a second one, virtually identical, and it hangs in the National Gallery in London. I got to see it when I was there for a visit.

I'm having a grand time with these art posts. In the past I've been hesitant to copy images of art onto this blog but it really makes it more fun if you can see what I'm talking about.

Glorious - The Disturbing Art of Francis Bacon

I'm barely acquainted with artist Francis Bacon but when I saw images of some of his disturbing paintings I recognized them immediately. How did I get on this tangent? Tonight I read a featured article on Wikipedia about his "Triptych, May-June 1973" which depicts his lover's last suicidal moments before dying. Not a cheery subject to be sure but the painting is incredibly powerful in its depiction of a human being in suffering.

After viewing many images of his paintings courtesy of Google all I can think of is how glorious they are. While visceral and violent, they also have a tremendous energy and reach down deep into the core of your being. Such images have the capacity to strip away all extraneous garbage so all that remains are your thoughts about life and death. From there you can consider what a life worth living means to you.

At least that's what I get out of Francis Bacon's paintings just by viewing them on my computer screen. Perhaps that's me and my weirdness.

These images provoke a very different response in me than my favorite paintings by Bosch and Bruegel the Elder. Bosch's and Bruegel's paintings of monsters, death, torture, and the landscapes of hell provide the comfort of recognition for my own dark side. To me they say, "you're not alone, we're right here with you and have been for hundreds of years." They remind me that while I might have nightmares and a sometimes scary overactive imagination so do others and there is a place for such ideas in this world too.

A stunning Francis Bacon image to close out this post:

Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, oil on canvas, 1953

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Absolute Elsewhere

We have precisely 8.28 minutes in this Minkowski space but that's not going to include anything that happened yesterday or tomorrow. 8.28 minutes stands on its lonely own.

"Did you hear that?"

"No," he says. He is sitting on the floor looking at me. We are holding hands. He is smiling.

"Huh. I could have sworn I heard something. Oh wait. I didn't hear anything. Sorry to bother you."

He does not reply. He's already left the room and walks in as tomorrow morning is dawning cold and hard.

"Breakfast?" He is carrying pancakes, blue berries, and raspberries. I smile at him, grateful. I'm famished. I take a pancake and a berry, nibbling gently.

"Have we met before?" he asked. He was so splendid. I can hear the faint sound of a telephone ringing somewhere.

"Wait until tomorrow and I'll tell you," I say but it's too late because last night is upon us again.

"You know, I did hear something just now," he says, "What did you hear?" He cocks his head to one side.

"I haven't heard a thing. Are you trying to confuse me?"

"No, just trying to tell you I heard it, whatever 'it' is." He adjusts his glasses. He is eating a raspberry.

"Are you sure you heard something?" I asked. I'm wondering where he got the raspberry. We are sitting quietly now. I seem to have acquired blueberries from somewhere. I pop one into my mouth.

"We have two and a half minutes left," he says.


The sun goes down again and the moon comes up. Crickets whistle in the dark and it's warm and soft outside. I can smell gardenias.

"Can you?" I ask him.

"Oh yes," he says, "they smell beautiful. White with thick petals. Thick shiny dark green leaves."

Now we have 30 seconds left and I wonder where we're going to end up. It was such a short time but better than nothing. Time seems like a giant wave moving along at top speed at least that's how I envision it when I have to let go of someone.

I smile, "You have a good memory. Do you think you'll remember me?"

He rakes his hair with his hand. He smiles. I sit down in front of him.

"Take my hand?" We held hands, looked at each other, and waited.

"Absolute elsewhere" is a term in special relativity for events that do not occur in the absolute past, present or absolute future. An event is an occurrence that can be measured in space and in time. It takes 8.28 minutes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth. If there was a station on the Sun and it sent a message to Earth, there would be an 8.28 minute delay before Earth would receive the message. Physicists refer to this time delay as absolute elsewhere. Technically speaking anything that happens during these 8.28 light minutes is not an event because it cannot be observed and, therefore, cannot affect anything.

At least I think that's right. Feel free to contact me to correct this explanation. I set my timer to 8.28 minutes and wrote the above post. I took another couple of minutes to put the finishing touches on it.

Today's Funeral

****This is also published on Facebook****

I went to my aunt's funeral today. She was in her 80s and sick. I was able to make a sloppy connection with my extended family but it felt like we were reaching for each other while wearing blindfolds during our conversations. On the way to the church I found myself in the middle of an inexplicable panic. I calmed myself by listening to "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Simple Twist Of Fate" in my car. I feel sad and drained.

I kept fiddling with my Ray Bans and wondering how inappropriate it would be to wear them in the church. I finally put them away. When I walked in, I gave my cousin Fred a wave. He was crying a little. At my uncle's funeral, he and I had shared a close moment when we sat side by side and both burst into tears. He had shared his tissues with me. We've never been close at all; he and my brother were the ones who grew up together.

My father was reading the obituary. My aunt was his older sister. I slid into the pew at the back of the church. My father has a very straightforward delivery consistent with his personality. I hoped the flower shop I recommended to him in the Castro came through. The specter of my family's internment during WWII came alive in all the older Japanese folks sitting in the pews as my Dad talked being sent to camp in Arkansas. I cringed inwardly upon hearing those facts as I always do.

Afterwards, I got lost on my way to the restaurant. I drove around looking for the freeway entrance and ended up by the Cow Palace then on Mission St. then somewhere else. I wasn't worried. My family teased me when I walked into the restaurant but I told them there was nothing wrong with driving around the City because I live here. I didn't know exactly what I meant by that but they seemed to understand.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bob Dylan: The Collection

While surfing around one night I came across a press release that came out when Bob's album "Modern Times" was released. iTunes put together a digital collection of all of Bob's albums from his very first "Bob Dylan" through "Modern Times." In addition, you get 42 rare tracks. The albums include his studio albums, the entire bootleg series, greatest hits albums, all the live albums, plus a 100 page booklet. It's all digital, of course. The price? $200.00. The total number of tracks is 773 or 53 albums (over 3 gigs of music).

Some Bob fans aren't very happy because they already own most or all the albums and they're angry that iTunes isn't offering the 42 rare tracks as a separate bundle. Also, because of the greatest hits albums there are many duplicate recordings. Still, for all the disadvantages I have to admit that my eyes went cross-eyed when I went onto iTunes to check it out. Even accounting for duplications that's still a staggering amount of music. Because Bob's catalog of music is so vast I had to put together a list of 16 albums to start with but since I've only bought a handful of his albums so far getting this collection is perfect for someone like me who's just starting out.

Given my unemployed status I won't be buying this collection anytime soon but it's definitely something I'm planning to work towards. When I get this new collection I'm going to have to buy a new iPod something I'd been planning to do anyway.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Dark Side Of The Job Search

"I can't understand, [h]e let go of my hand
And left me here facing the wall
I'd sure like to know, why [h]e did go
But I can't get close to [him] at all"
- "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)"*** from "Another Side of Bob Dylan"

The job hunt continues, there are bills and rent to pay. Even though I have mixed feelings about Facebook I have been getting back in touch with people and that's been great. I've been writing a lot but not enough on my novel. Still, some writing is better than none at all.

My days are a struggle of too many late nights and late mornings, too much checking of email looking for...something. The doubts and fears crowd around for space.

I read an article yesterday about the difficulty of the job search. The author brought to life the scary feelings that can come up. You start to feel useless and angry. You start to feel outside of society in general. You start to wonder if life is worth living or as his friend put it more succinctly "I'm thinking will it be the neck or wrist?"

I'm not feeling suicidal but I did want to bring it up because these feelings are very real and if you, God forbid, are in a situation where you're looking for a job in this economy for a period of time you may well come up against those feelings. It's better to be aware of these feelings because once you're there it's a scary place to be.

I joined a job hunters group a couple of weeks ago and didn't like the Facilitator. I enjoyed meeting everyone else and one of the members was kind enough to send me a position she'd found. I reviewed the job description and wasn't sure if I fit the qualifications. I wrote her an email and explained this but said I would probably apply anyway. She came back with a response saying she was surprised and I was selling myself short and I was clearly suffering from the effects of lowered self-esteem due to the job search.

I was dying to tell her to go fuck off.

I know she was trying to be helpful and supportive and she was probably right about the lowered self-esteem part but I didn't like having someone who was almost a complete stranger get in my face about it. Instead, I wrote back thanking her for her support and to explaining in detail why 70% of duties for this job is an area of law where I have no experience but I would think about applying.

During job search you roller coaster through your feelings. Some days you're fine and feeling like you're making progress even when it's incremental progress. Some days the search is as I explained to a friend of mine "soul crushing." People don't like to hear such things but it's true. The industry you used to work for, in fact, all industries, seem to be unfeeling, faceless places. We've known for a very long time that there's no loyalty towards employees but it's a shock to experience the ruthlessness of not working in America in times like these.

It makes me want to walk away from my industry altogether but go where? And do what? Everywhere you go it's the same.

I've been doing all things people should say you should do during these times: see and talk to friends regularly, have other interests, keep exposure to the news to a minimum, explore your options, try to get training, be positive, have a plan in place, etc. etc.

These last few days I've learned that even when you're doing all those things you're still going to have these very negative feelings at times. Sometimes they just don't go away. Nobody wants to hear that and nobody wants to think about it.

Ironically, I think I've found some measure of relief by just letting myself feel like shit, to feel angry. And that I may still have them even when I'm doing "what I'm supposed to be doing" to combat these dark feelings. Sometimes the only way out is through and all the damn self-help, pop psychology, artificial routines, pep talks and everything else isn't going to help. Sometimes we have to feel bad for a little while if only so we can relax a little instead of trying to force our emotions into some stupid artificially happy box that's been constructed by everyone.

"And if anybody asks me
'Is it easy to forget?'
I'll say 'It's easily done, you just pick anyone
And pretend that you never have met.'"***

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A New Story on Fainting in Coils

I knew I had to write a new story featuring Mr. Gryphon and had been trying to figure out how to get it started for about a month now. What surprised me is that I've made the story public by starting it on my other blog Fainting in Coils (See "The Tower, Part 1").

This is going to be a very personal story that offers a glimpse into what goes on in my head like nothing else I've posted here. I've written even more personal stories than this one but I've never made them public before. For example, I wrote a 52 page story featuring Mr. Gryphon and myself called "The Coda" and only one person has read it (my therapist). The other stories and characters I make reference to have never been read by anybody. I don't what's gotten into me.

This is going to be a long story and I'm planning to work steadily on it. Hopefully I can finish it this next week. I'm not going to publish each section as I write it. I've written up to Part 3 so far and will likely start Part 4 tonight. I'll probably post every other day.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments. This is going to be weird stuff.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde

"Blonde on Blonde" was released in May 1966 as a double album with 14 songs. Nine out of the fourteen songs are over four minutes long and many are seven plus minutes. "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is the longest at over 11 minutes.

The album is characterized by the blues rock Bob started on "Highway 61 Revisited" and more surreal lyrics. It's a complete departure from Bob's folk music where he played his songs with just his acoustic guitar and harmonica.

The entire album is amazing but I only came to this conclusion after absorbing it for months. I was familiar with "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" with its "Everybody must get stoned!" refrain and "Just Like a Woman" from my junior high school and high school years of listening to rock music stations. The rest of the songs were all new to me.

Songs that blew me away at the first hearing:
  • "Visions of Johanna" is clearly one of Bob's finest compositions, and possibly one of the finest songs written in my lifetime. I heard it while driving home late at night through my empty city streets, a perfect way to hear it for the first time. It's a quiet song with beautiful thought provoking lyrics like "But Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles."
  • "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" has an upbeat tempo and playful lyrics. The song tells very short stories of odd characters. The opening line is "Ah, the Ragman draws circles up and down the block. I'd ask him what the matter is, but I know that he don't talk."
  • "Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" is a great break-up song with its jaunty melody and truthful lyrics ("Time will tell just who has fell and who's been left behind").
  • "Temporary Like Achilles" has a languid piano melody that expresses longing with strange lyrics like "I watch upon your scorpion who crawls across your circus floor." Bob leaves no doubt about his feelings with the chorus "You know I want your lovin.' Honey, why are you so hard?"
  • "Absolutely Sweet Marie" is a bouncy song with odd lyrics of a man waiting for a woman. It has images of railroads, white horses, and broken promises. My favorites are "To live outside the law you must be honest" and "Well, I don't know how it happened but the river-boat captain, he knows my fate. But everyone else, even yourself, are just going to have to wait." I don't know why but those last lines seem to sum up my current transitional situation perfectly.
Songs I didn't like at first:
  • I had a tough time with "I Want You" because I felt the chorus "I want you, I want you, I want you so bad" was too simple and abrupt. The song has latched onto me after many listenings and I think "I Want You" is a glorious declaration of exuberant love. It's a beautiful song with lyrics like "The cracked bells and washed out horns, blow into my face with scorn, but it's not that way, I wasn't born to lose you."
  • "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" is a blues song with jarring guitar about an attractive young woman and her new hat with strange lyrics like "You know it balances your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine." Once again Bob leaves nothing to the imagination with lines like "Well, you look so pretty in it, Honey, can I jump on it sometime?" Again, after listening to the song over and over I just love its energy and humor.
The other songs are great with "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" achieving epic status and not just because of its length. It is a gentle, steady stroll of a song that rises and falls like so many rolling hills Bob walks up and down on his journey though this song. Bob comes up with many surreal descriptions for his "Sad-Eyed Lady" while circling back around to meet her. The "Sad-Eyed Lady" is a reference to his wife at the time, Sara Lownds.

For me personally Bob's music requires that I pay attention and focus on the lyrics, meanings, and music. I can't just sit here mindlessly letting the music go in one ear and out the other. I can't just hear the songs I have to really listen to them too but in doing so I get so much out of them and they really speak to me.