I have asked a couple of people for five Things that they associate with
me, to ramble on about in my journal. I extend the same offer to anyone
who comments here. These are from tibicina.
Bob Dylan is one of my musical role models: I figure that if he can get up
on stage and sing his own songs, so can I. And for the most part I prefer
his version to any of the more popular covers, though that may just be a
case of what I heard first, or possibly my preference for a more folk-like
style over rock or pop.
My favorite song of his is Desolation Row, which I
transcribed off an LP back in high school or college (which probably
explains why I can still perform the entire thing off-book). It has a
melody that's wonderfully well-suited to my usual picking pattern; I can
sit and noodle on it for a very long time. Lilly,
Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts (which is Colleen's favorite) is
another one like that. It wasn't until this year, when I wrote QV, that I
wrote a song that exceeded DR in both length and pickability.
I think what attracts me to Dylan is the surreal quality of much of his
poetry. Unlike me and Janis Ian, I don't think Dylan makes much of a
distinction between writing songs and writing poems.
I note in passing that Bob is from Hibbing, Minnesota, which (as we used
to say back in Northfield where I went to college) is a very good place to
I started growing my beard when I went away to college and got away from
the high school dress code. I did a lot of experimentation back then,
going through several styles of gotee and a waxed handlebar mustache
before finally settling on a full beard. The fact that my electric razor
disappeared sometime in my first or second year of grad school has nothing
to do with it.
I know of only one person in California (Dave Uggla, who knew me at Carleton)
who's ever seen me without a
beard, and it's not my wife. Colleen has warned me that if I
ever shave it off she won't recognize me, and will probably slam the door
in my face. Which doesn't look particularly good without it -- I
inherited my father's weak chin.
My first guitar, back in high school, was a cheap Harmony with
cheese-slicer action that cut my fingertips to ribbons until I grew
calluses, and sometimes even then. My parents got me a nylon-strung
Carlos when I went off to college; it's currently lent out to (if I
remember correctly) one of the Y.D's friends who needed a loaner to learn
The first guitar I acquired in California was my lovely Martin O-15, which
Colleen promptly dubbed "Snuggles". We found her at an estate sale for
$40; she'd obviously been well-loved (the previous owner had swapped the
outside tuners around to make the strings straighter) and occasionally
I acquired "Plink", my Vagabond travel guitar, sometime in the early
1990's. Plink is small enough that I can play her in a chair with arms,
and she sounds wonderful plugged in and amplified; she's been my
usual guitar for gigs for the last several years now.
The Epiphone 12-string was inherited from Fred Capp when he, in turn,
inherited a Guild from our friend Stripes. She hasn't told me her name
yet, and I don't play her much.
I bought my first Ovation, "Ruby" (named for the color of her soundboard)
just before my Interfilk gig at GaFilk. It turned out that I didn't like
her sound plugged-in, and it turned out that she was really awkward on
plane trips. Last year I replaced her with "Flame Darling" -- that was a
clear case of love at first sight; I was only able to buy her because the
Y.D. had just expressed an interest in learning guitar, and a strong
preference for Ruby.
The chaoswolf's black Little Martin is named "Cindy"; we have
an unnamed Applause on loan from Colleen's friend M, and pocketnaomi's lovely tenor guitar, "Belle", is presently visiting,
hanging around the house and looking sweetly seductive.
Colleen has threatened me with divorce or murder if I ever bring another
guitar into the house. I think she's serious. It doesn't keep me from
looking at banjos occasionally.
I love hugging and being hugged. I'm told I give good ones; I guess bears
are good for that. That leads me to...
I'm not sure how my association with bears first came about, though Mom
tells me I was very attached to my teddy bear as a toddler. I don't
I've always reminded Colleen of a bear, either Pooh or Paddington, though
I've often felt and acted a lot more like Eyore. One of our favorite
animals in the zoo is the spectacled bear, to which I bear (as it were) a
My first persona in
alt.callahans was "The Medium-Sized
Teddybear", a deliberate reference to Cordwainer Smith's Middle-Sized Bear. I became the Mandelbear after describing myself
as the positively imaginary half of the cubic Mandelbrot set, a fractal
which now serves as my default icon on LJ. An infinitely fuzzy, fractal,
alien teddybear suits me well.
Musically I occasionally describe myself as "a bear of very little range".