pieces of change

All together now!

meet the team

According to the schedule, I should be hearing from the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival about whether my submissions made the cut… tonight? Tomorrow? Cynically, I’d be amazed to hear anything, but I remain quietly optimistic.

Because dammit, my Lego kink should be appreciated by more people!

Yes, Lego kink. Because I saw some of the figures in this picture and I just knew what I could do with them. The ideas came in a torrent and I’ve been doing my damnedest to get them out of my head and into the world.

Why? Because I think so much of the kink art out there is too serious and too grim. I’ve been jokingly calling it the “GrrNyar” school of kink because it tends to be grim faced men or sharp edged women being very intimidating while standing over some hapless fool who’s had the misfortune to be tied up like a side of beef. I want to see something more. I want to see a comedy of errors or two people who are deeply into each other as well as their scene. I know it happens, I’ve seen it. So why is all the art grim and shadowy?

So I submitted some to SEAF. I’m still not a fan of the event and I think it’s a little stuck on its own reputation and history to grow beyond lowest common denominator “sexy”, but if I can offer something that flies in the face of that expectation, fantastic. Even better to do something that’s silly or sweet or comedic. Or all three. Hell, when my friend Maddie told me I got more emotional content with minifigs than she’d seen in some of the SEAF catalogs…

I’ve also been making cards of these little figures and finding places to sell them. First there was my Etsy store (along with my more mundane Lego cards) but in addition to getting them into a local sex shop, I’ve been sending out emails and line sheets and the responses have been mostly positive. Including a leather shop in town that wants a couple dozen and a queer sex shop up in Vancouver, BC.

And more to come? Unless something goes horribly awry, I’ll be vending down in Tacoma at the end of March. Quoi?

So in this I’m going to be the change I want to see. I’m going to offer the weird in my head and see what the response is. Weirdly enough, I think this may have a bit more momentum than some of my other projects. We’ll see…


anatomy of a comic

names matter

The reason I love toy photography is that it appeals to my desire to tell stories. Sometimes it’s as simple as sticking two figures in a scene, whether they’re dinosaurs fighting or superheroes. There’s enough in the picture that what’s happening is either clear as day or offers enough clues that you can find your own interpretation.

Sometimes, that’s not enough and you have to bring in panels and word balloons. Which is where the real fun begins because now it’s more than just a picture. It combines my favorite parts of writing (I love dialogue, can’t stand writing all the descriptive bits and “he said excitedly” and whatnot), photography, composition and design into one usually quick and dirty project.

So I figured I’d discuss how this comic came together, from concept to completion.

The idea first came together when I saw that there would be a Clock King in the next wave of Lego Batman figures.

That’s how I look at most Lego, as a story telling tool. Whether it inspires on its own or gets filtered through my ever expanding collection, that determines my interest in buying a kit. I mean, as cool as the mondo-uber-deluxe Millennium Falcom is, it doesn’t do much for me. But the Lego book that came with Emperor Palpatine? Oh I can work with that.

Same thing with the Clock King.

I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, so I already had the TARDIS set from a couple years ago, which is all about Time Lords and… well that’s the first glimmer. Throw in the Calendar Man minifig that came out last year and there’s definitely something there. I hit Bricklink for the Calendar Man figure, waited for the new wave to come out and then waited for a semi-nice day to pull something together.

Which happened to be today.

Next up: I have my characters and a rough “setting”. What’s the story?

Two villains, one Doctor. Probably nothing good. Did I want to show that? Have an “unconscious” Doctor in the scene? Not especially. I want these comics to be relatively streamlined, especially when they’re gags.

So they’re driving the TARDIS? I like the interior set, but I’d done something like that recently. And it was a really nice day today.

There’s still a lot of room here. I wanted a narrative so something more than the two of them standing outside the TARDIS with a caption about the “real” time lords. So a walk and talk (sorry Mr. Sorkin!).

What are they walking and talking about? One of them got the TARDIS, the other is impressed and… then… magic?

Calendar Man. Clock King. Such seriously ridiculous names. Nothing cool as the Time Lords I liked… like… there you go.

I do my comics in an iPhone app called Halftone 2. It’s a funky little program that was clearly designed to be used for tourist pictures and wacky captions of your dog. I figured this out when I contacted them about a glitch involving a comic of some twenty odd pages and they responded with mild shock. So there you go. But it’s super easy. Drop in your images, throw in some speech bubble “stickers” and some sound effects and you’re set.

Before I got to the park I threw some speech bubbles on the layout, which established the pictures I’d need. I took a couple pictures against the low angle of the winter sun, pasted them in, adjusted tails, cropped the images and, lo, I was done. A month of spitballing, fifteen minutes of photography, five minutes of editing.

I dig the hell out of this system. There are some serious limitations, beyond the tendency towards smaller file sizes. Most importantly, while the layouts are varied and you can make your own layouts in a related app, this is not really good at making super complex pages like Art Spiegelman or Alan Moore. I mean, there are options in the app, but I’ve never made them work for anything.

The learning curve on this app is less about learning the app itself and more about figuring out how to make it work for your vision. Or, to put it in a more visual form:
"Tutorial"Yep, that’s the long and short of it. You can have a big clear picture or a lot of words, but not both. Not really.

So yeah. My brain and welcome to it. And maybe you should try it yourself? Tell a dad joke in two panels. Recreate a Far Side strip in minifigures. Go nuts!

And, hey, Juicy Bits software? Call me. I’ve got some notes.

Welcome to 2018

tumblr_nxrm46oD4w1r5v028o1_1280.pngCan we agree that resolutions kind of suck?

They’re so easy to self-sabotage. Getting a gym membership doesn’t mean you’re actually going to use it, which gyms frequently count on. You may have the best intentions ever to write that Great American Novel, but writing?

It’s daunting as fuck. And for everyone who finds motivation in their artist’s journals and their scheduled times or whatever, there are countless others who just can’t make it stick no matter their intentions. Myself included. The Artist’s Way might as well have been a guide to anxiety for me. “Did I…? Oh god no, and then I have to…”

That said, I have taken a photograph almost every day for the past two years but it wasn’t a challenge or a resolution. I just noticed that it was kind of happening after I got my first iPhone, so I kept doing it. They’re not all great artistic works, but they’re pictures. They force me to keep my eye open, even if I have to make the tableau myself with a bunch of Lego. It’s so regular it’s practically a barometer for my mood. Did I take a picture? No? Something’s up and I should mention it to my therapist at the next appointment.

And that’s what works for me.

So yeah, no novels here. No Great Works. And I think we would all do well to not get bogged down in Big Epic Dreams With No Small Steps.

That said…

I think we should stop being tired. I think we could maybe stop with the excuses and justifications for why we aren’t doing something. Anything. Stop saying that because the rest of the world is doing the same thing or doing something to a larger audience than you that, really, why bother?

And maybe… do it instead?

Instead of automatically bingeing the next show on Netflix, take five or ten minutes every day to do whatever the hell it is you want to be doing. Take pictures? Write the novel? Learn the dance? Sketch?

Plot, plan, scheme and then do!

Because as tired as we are, as weary or drained as we are from the day’s efforts, I think we owe it to ourselves to do something. Anything. And by breaking it down into manageable chunks, we can build up our tolerances and our endurances and our instincts to a point where we might be able to do these things with pleasure or instinctively or better or longer.

You don’t win a marathon the first time you put on a pair of sneakers. Hell, you don’t run a marathon with your first pair of trainers. I have friends who run marathons, they trained and practiced and watched their diets and so on and so forth. And we hear about that and think yeah, well, that makes sense for running.

But I want to paint! And the museum is already full.

I want to dance! And I’m not going to be cast in Swan Lake.

I want to take a picture of a woman wearing that outfit in that lighting… but someone else took it and I think it sucks but it’s been done so fuck that.

And we’re all… so… tired…

Me too. Take five minutes. Take a picture. Sketch a coffee cup. Write a scene of dialogue between two characters. Then try for ten minutes. Then write a chapter. Try NaNoWriMo! I did that years ago and had a blast.

Take that damned picture and make it yours!

And if you don’t like it after a chunk of time, if you’re not getting That Rush of Creativity, give yourself permission to try some new thing. And also kick your ass to try some new thing.

I just took a picture a day for a while until that picture a day became two years with a couple lapses. And now, with exceptions because I have some shitty fucking days where I can’t pull my head out of my ass or see anything but my own anxiety, I have my eyes open for a picture. Or an idea after seeing a Lego minifig.

Because I showed up enough that the muse is usually there waiting.

2018: Show up, Show up, Show up.

Porn: I Want To Believe

OK, moment of honesty here: I am fascinated by porn.

I don’t actually like it, though. Most of it sucks. It’s familiar almost to the point of repetitiveness and is so distractingly unrealistic.

But I want to. And I think I’m not alone in that frustration.


I dig the fantasy in the same way that I dig the fantasy of Star Wars or an MCU film. In one I want to see rockets and superheroes. In the other I want to see two (or more) people enjoying the hell out of each other with a little bit of set-up and characterization in a room I can believe in.

Instead I get a twenty minute scene of two people fucking their way through four positions in two rooms of a house. Rooms that are surprisingly lacking in personal details for ostensibly being their dining room and her bedroom. There’s three minutes of awkwardly delivered dialogue to let us know the she’s his step-sister or he’s the plumber and then non-stop hard core banging in awkward positions clearly designed so the camera doesn’t miss anything.

Oh yeah and don’t forget the close-ups. Jesus, has nobody told these directors and producers that there’s a reason one of the slang terms for sex is “bumping uglies”?

It’s really telling that this has been a joke for decades. Not just what I’ve riffed on with countless friends. In the ’90s, Bill Hicks used to joke about how he thought two guys were responsible for ninety percent of the porn out there: “One guy films his own ass, the other guy has a wah-wah pedal and comes up with titles.” Robin Williams joked about wishing for Shakespearean trained porn actors and actresses in the ’80s.

So why is this still the dominant paradigm? Why is it so bad? Why are we still supposed to be excited by yet even more nudity again but different again. This time.

There was a brief moment, the so-called Golden Age of Porn (Wikipedia link, don’t worry), where smut was cracking the mainstream. The films were known for good production values on 35mm film with fairly talented actors and actual plots. It was so mainstream that comics like Johnny Carson joked about it in his monologues.

It couldn’t last, of course. Not in this free-wheeling culture. So this expansion was immediately followed by a period of damage control that was hindered by a non-existent talent pool and the clunky film technology of the time. You know, Boogie Nights. When it takes most of a day to pull together a ten minute scene, you go for the quickest and dirtiest buck you can. Nothing fancy, but it worked and the industry survived.

Fast forward thirty odd years and the mainstream feels familiar. The technology may allow for better close ups and faster turnaround, but the vibe hasn’t changed much since I saw my first furtively rented porn film in high school. There are exceptions, some insanely big productions here and there, but the sets don’t hide the limited subject matter or familiar scenes. Parodies became popular, but I think that’s mostly because it gives viewers some characters they could actually give a damn without having to spend screen time on the matter. I mean, you’ve wondered… haven’t you? Velma and Daphne? Riker and Troi? Well here you go!

But regardless of scale, budget and location, it all feels the same. Whether it’s the biggest studio or someone vending on Clips4Sale, you’ve seen these exact same shots. It’s as if every action film aped Die Hard and ended with the villain falling from the top of the skyscraper. But this time Bruce Willis is played by a blonde, Alan Rickman is played by James Deen (you asshole) and the building is a giant erection.

Are my standards too high?

Because I’m pretty forgiving as a member of the audience. If I can believe a billionaire playboy can engineer a super suit out of spare parts in the mountains of Afghanistan, surely I should be able to believe that $PORNSTAR is absolutely turned on by her step-brother, right?

(Ok, Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist was a bridge to far but…)

What I want is something sexy and hot as anything I’ve seen in a mainstream film but a bit more explicit. I put it to you that the opening montage in Deadpool was hotter than most porn I’ve ever seen. Anyone who thinks that William H. Macy and Maria Bello in The Cooler wasn’t hot as hell is probably dead inside. A History of Violence, Out of Sight… even 8 Mile! And as good as Eminem was in that film, he’s not a great actor. But there’s that scene in the factory, him and Brittany Murphy’s character find a quiet spot and fuck like rabbits because there’s a movie’s worth of tension to work out. We didn’t see a damn thing and yet…

I’ve got a friend who says I’m asking for the impossible. That this lowest common denominator sexuality is all people want these days: easily looped scenes of bland personalities that can be turned into animated GIFs for their Tumblrs. But is it what we really want? Or is it what we’ve been told we want because it’s all they’re willing to make?

I don’t think so. I think that porn is so marginalized that nobody has bothered to ask what the audience actually wants. At the same time, most people have written off porn entirely as being boring and/or shameful so they have no incentive to seek out the productions that they may like.

Porn needs its pasta sauce moment!

Yeah. Pasta sauce.

OK, Malcolm Gladwell gave a TED Talk about this about a decade ago and you can watch it over here. My brief summation goes something like this: back in the 80s, Prego pasta sauce was trying to get more market share from Ragu. The logic at the time was that they needed to make the “perfect” sauce. So they hired someone to analyze this and ask people questions, presumably about whether wanted things spicy or spicier, nothing revelatory. Instead, that guy concocted 45 different versions of spaghetti sauce based on a bunch of variables and went out to ask people what they wanted while also presenting options beyond what was already available in the stores. One of those versions of pasta sauce was extra chunky, something that hadn’t been offered before, but what they discovered was that a third of the market wanted this without really knowing that’s what they wanted. The companies were so focused on this platonic ideal of perfect that would make “everyone” happy” that they neglected a huge part of the market.

This is why, in my lifetime, the pasta aisle has gone from maybe three brands of pasta sauce with the same four or five flavors to, well, everything that you can find now including extra chunky, vodka sauce, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes…

So why not porn?

You can’t make everyone happy with the same goddamned images over and over again. There should be options beyond the usual “These Women Are Actually Of Legal Drinking Age But They Look Cute So They’re Almost 18, No Really, I Swear Volume 51”.

But it’s easier to play safe and blame piracy and the PornTube channels for their decline than explore other options in production.

[I’m not saying piracy isn’t an issue. It totally is. But it’s fucked up on its own terms. Fun fact: PornHub is owned by a company called MindGeek which also owns Brazzers, Digital Playground, Reality Kings, Mofos, Twistys, and parts of Playboy and Wicked Pictures. MindGeek also owns YouPorn, Tube8, XTube, and ExtremeTube. That means MindGeek has its fingers in so many pies that piracy actually helps it out while screwing the industry as a whole over. So it’s not especially invested in prevented piracy beyond a particular level.]

Is there a wider audience? I’d say so. I mean, it’s probably never going to be as large as the audience for the Star Wars films, but there are signs if you look for them. Just take a look at the HUMP! Film Festival, an independent festival that started as a one night only showing in 2005 that’s turned into a roadshow of five minute long, independent porn films put together by amateurs. It routinely sells out. There’s an audience.

There are smaller production companies that put out really fun films. Unfortunately they tend to get lost in the dross of the Tubes and require a bit more effort to discover at times, which is asking a lot from a hesitant audience that’s probably already mostly written off porn for being the bland and generic monolith it tends to be.

Then there’s the hassle of buying this stuff, but that’s a rant for another day. This is already long enough.

So if the industry is in crisis (as there seems to be a constant trickle of articles decrying this fact) why not actually change things up? Why not make something interesting or fun or human? It’s still a multi-billion dollar industry for all of the “peril”. Throw some money at an oblique, pasta sauce solution and see what happens if you make it readily available.

If the definition of insanity really is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results…

almost over

let it burn

Are we there yet? I mean, beyond the slow shuffle of linear time and all that.

2017 was:


  • I’m submitting to SEAF and have some kinkier offerings in the works.
  • I really want that new job
  • Lots of fire, more open flow shoots.
  • Did I mention a studio? I’m going to hustle.
  • I plan to hustle.
  • At least two more shows this year, preferably one of my fire photos.
  • And I think I’m going to be ranting about smut here a lot. Stay tuned.

Now if I can just keep posting somewhat regularly? I’ve got a fun rant about porn coming up…


I meant sexually.

merry kinkmas

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Two things about these images.

First, yes, I know I’m going to a very special hell when I die. Obviously. But there’s something appealing and fun about coming up with such odd things.

Second, this is why I kind of love Lego photography.

I had the idea for the first image, set it up, snapped it and walked away. Then some marketing part of my mind kicked in and thought that, y’know, there’s probably an audience for the same sex/leather daddy version of this image. A quick swap (and no small amount of angry muttering as things kept falling over) later and I took the second picture. And I was done.

What happens next? Eh, maybe cards next year? Or at SEAF? I dunno. But I dug the hell out of the process.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

let’s get critical

I fancied myself something of a poet when I was in college. I wrote a lot, hit a bunch of open mic and went through the standard cliched Bukowski phase (because of course). When I moved to Seattle in 1999 I imagined that here I would find my artistic transformation and take over the scene. I got published a couple of times, which was cool, but after a while I just drifted away and got bored. Shades of things to come.

But I think of it all now and again, particularly in terms of constructive criticism and the best bit of advice I ever got as any kind of creative person. Something I still use to center myself and wish I had the chutzpah to pass on in the proper setting.

Long story short, I was a member of an online writer’s forum and I had just posted my Epic to a criticism group. Looking back, it was an angsty bit of twaddle full of adolescent rage and “You don’t understand MAN!!!!” rhetoric. At the time, though, I thought I’d cracked something and the praise would just come pouring in.

The first comment has stayed with me to this day, decades later.

“I’m glad you got that off your chest. Now go write a poem.”

Of course I was furious. Didn’t he get it? Didn’t he see? OMG!!!! I had feelings!!!!

But eventually I calmed the hell down and I thought about it. And while, at the time, I was still quite smitten with what I’d written, I began to see it for what it was. That it was trite and monotonous and, ok, yeah, fine…

It wasn’t a poem. It wasn’t good.

But maybe next time…?

In a weird way, I think this is the best constructive criticism I’ve ever gotten. I’m serious. It didn’t faff about talking about the imagery or the emotions involved. It was blunt and it knocked me on my ass and it made me think. Eventually.

And I think about it now whenever I’m in any kind of creative group or community that doesn’t have room for constructive criticism. Where everything’s great and everyone’s amazing and, oh my god, where did you get your ideas to post yet another picture of a naked girl by a waterfall? Again?

On the one hand, everyone has different goals in their artistic journeys. I get that in my fire spinning groups. I’m pretty content to flow and call it good while others will practice for hours at a time to perfect every move. Hell, there’s room for fine art and coloring books, selfies and studio photography, Bob Ross and Pablo Picasso. Who am I to critique someone who’s just having fun taking pictures? Hell, honestly I wouldn’t like people to inundate my Instagram feed with unasked for criticism.

On the other, I think a little criticism would do us all good as creative people, especially in groups or communities dedicated to the arts. It doesn’t have to be mean or dickish, but a little bit of bluntness maybe? Or even the freedom to respond to someone asking “what do you think?” with something other than just a polite “nice!”

Or, more frustrating to me, being silent because, as we all know, if you can’t say anything nice…

I’d like to say something honest. I’d like to say something constructive. I’d like to say that I can’t make out the model in the chaos of the background. That the photo isn’t “mysterious” so much as I just can’t tell what the hell is going on. Or that it’s minifigure on moss. That the colors are great but how is this different from the last picture? Or the pose is great but the composition could’ve used some work.

On the one hand, the artist doesn’t have to do a damn thing about any of it. But maybe the next time they approach a concept, something will resonate? Or maybe someone else will read it and think of it the next time they plan a shoot? And maybe we can all develop thicker skins and grow?

Just by being honest.