You take the good, you take the bad...

Tiana - 123112
... because you have no choice.  
I recently heard on NPR a great show on meditation and mindfulness.  While I do need to include much more of each into my life, I heard a sentence or two that hit home.  In essence the spokesperson said, "In Buddhism, you must acknowledge that both change and tragedy are unavoidable in life.  This is something that was forgotten by many Americans prior to the financial collapse."  This was true for me and 2012 was a great reminder of the changes.

I am going to briefly describe the good, the bad, and the changes I experienced in 2012.  One overall influence was Las Vegas.  You will see my new part-time city as a reoccurring theme through the year.

The good.

I got to meet up with blogger buddy Terrell in Las Vegas a number of times, once as recently as this week.  On top of being deep in the local Las Vegas photography world (he is a local legend with the old timers - I learned of an interesting story of him and park ranger), he is a genuinely nice and true guy.  I hope we get to collaborate in the future.

I got to know my new sister city better by spending the equivalent of a month total time here in 2012.  I initially had a crush or infatuation with it.  It turned into a steamy affair quickly.  I am now in the growing in love with it, while starting to see the warts in the relationship.  Sometimes it is the flaws that are most attractive.  During that time, I got to meet three lovely ladies who modelled for me.  Thanks to Gabbi, Fae, and Jolene for blessing me with your beauty.   You will see a few fresh photos of those beauties below.

Starting in January, I included alternative processes into my art.  These included cyanotypes, van Dykes, digital negative to chemical paper printing, gel transfers, Polaroids, toy cameras, assemblage, collage, and multiple other fun techniques.   I am pushing my art into areas I've never considered before.

Below is a small portion of my "I objectify women..." series, where I used discarded packaging as surfaces to affix my photos of women I have taken over the year.  It was a very personal series for me as I know I am part of the objectification of women.  I am going to take higher quality photos of these pieces and present them here.

IOW - 123112 - Photo by Jackie Pruitt

In October my family gathered to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary with 100 of their friends.

In the last three months I got my work into four shows.  That was great exposure.  On the downside, a woman called asking to buy one and balked at the price.  She needs to learn there is a difference between a fine art print and a photo calendar.  Let us see her get an original Ansel Adams for the price of the cheap copy she could get at a book store.

I went to England and Switzerland for work in May.  While the working situation was good, the trip was pleasant, and not much more.

In February, I worked again with the great Candace Nirvana.  This September and October I worked with Tiana and Rain deGrey.  I hope to work with all of them again in 2013.

I am helping a friend start her blog.  I am also starting a new blog with an old friend.  More news on that in the 2013.

The bad.

My health is slowly deteriorating.  It is starting to get noticeable.  Sadly, the cause is purely self induced.  I need to get in better shape and take care of my self before I pass the point of no return.

My relationships with my family are drying out.  I am starting to realize that there is a reason my friends are close, we chose each other.  As my relationships with my family age, they contain less commonalities or areas for us to be close again.  I don't know which is more sad, the fading relationships or that I am not as bothered as I probably should be by the situation.

A close friend of mine died within a week after visiting us in Las Vegas.  LV had nothing to do with it. That was just a month ago and still feels raw.

The changes and the neutral.  

My wife and separated due to her starting a tenure-track position in Las Vegas.  We see each other a couple of times a month.  I am proud of her getting the position.

It is interesting being quasi-single again.  I have a home in California all to myself.  I find I spend almost all my time in my home-office, bedroom, or kitchen.  The rest of the home stays dark.  This time alone makes the times when we are together both fun and difficult.  It is hard to go from single to instantly together again.  On a positive side, I have more time than ever to work on art.

I want to thank my blog friends - Carla, Terrell, C.D., D.L. Wood, Joe, and many others (sorry if I didn't include you.)  You continue to inspire me to create and write more.

I will be back in 2013.  There is much more art to create, life to live, sex to be had, and just general life stuff.  Happy New Year and Ciao.

Some new stuff.
Candace Nirvana - 123112

Fae DeCay - 123112

Gabbi- 123112

Jolene- 123112

Rain- 123112

A little party music for dancing into the new year.  I really like a quality remake like this.


A day of Rain.

Rain - 1222812

Rain - 122812
A month or so back I enjoyed an afternoon photographing Rain DeGrey.  She is a local legend in the modeling industry.  I wanted to photograph her again since the first time we worked together was not an ideal situation (not at all her fault).

Rain is a hardworking, well prepared model.  She has a fun and funny style that can quickly turn to as serious as you desire in the photo shoot.  She is willing to try new things and stretch to what I wanted to try.  Some things worked well due to her.  Others failed, not because of her, but because the idea was weak.

I look forward to working with her again.  This was a pretty vanilla shoot.  She is willing to go dark and gritty and I am thinking about where that will take me in creating stuff.  As with all models, it takes time to get to the level of collaboration and trust.  I feel this is going to be a good partnership.



Valya - 122412

Over three weeks ago I wrote about my growing up with James Bond.  I am only seven years younger than him and to the extent that movies can influence how I view myself in relationship to the world, Mr. Bond was a big part of it.

I now want to write on the recent Bond offering, Skyfall.  I went and saw it alone on opening night and again a few weeks later with my wife.  In it, I noticed four key themes and observations.  Below are my thoughts on each.  Warning - tons of spoiler alerts.  Don't read if you don't want to know.

Bond is aging.  Daniel Craig took up the role in his mid-thirties and is now in his mid-forties.  I feel that Bond is living a parallel age to both Craig and me.  Mr. Bond is still probably in the top 1% of fitness for men his age (and any age) and looks amazing, but all the wounds, bumps, bruises, drugs, alcohol, travelling, stress and age are catching up.  He has to contend with loss of martial mastery, a young quartermaster who thinks he is barely of use, and his own cynicism taking hold of him.

As a man his age and only a small part as fit and adventurous, I feel those wheels grinding too.  I can still do many things I did at half my age, but I will be sore for a long time after.  I know that in the not-so-distant future, I am going to not be able to do those things to the same level or degree.  James was feeling that too.

In Craig's first Bond movie, Casino Royale, he used brute force to get his way through physical trials.  M even called him, "... a blunt weapon."  In this movie, he had to learn that his physical prowess is starting to fade and he has to fight smarter, not stronger.

On a side note, this was the first Bond movie where I saw him shot.  He was shot twice in the first part.

Bond can not love anymore, except for his "Mum".  In Casino Royale, James loved and lost Vesper  after she betrayed him and died.  He spent a good part of Quantum of Solace avenging her death.  In this movie, after he has been shot by a fellow agent and left for dead, he goes into a drug-and-alcohol induced cocoon.  It feels like he can not love anymore until the headquarters of MI6 is destroyed, many of his fellow agents die, and M is endangered.  He slips into her apartment drunk to announce his return.

Both the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig Bonds had the same M, played by Judy Dench.  In the Craig versions, you could feel their complex maternal/child relationship unfold slowly.  She is about the only woman... the only person he loves.  As with Javier Bardem's brilliantly acted villain  Silva, the relationship with M is complicated and not all beautiful.

I first noticed in Casino Royale, and every Craig Bond movie since, all of M's subordinates call her "ma'am", but with the British accent it sounds like "Mum".  She is the tough-love mother that all her people respect, fear, and are very loyal to.  She is the tough mother that knew she may have to sacrifice one of her boys (James) in the beginning by telling the agent with the sniper rifle to take the obstructed shot at the bad guy.  The shot missed the baddie and hit James leading to his above mentioned disappearance.

It is this same relationship that caused Silva, a former agent of M's, to seek revenge.  He was her favorite until he went outside of boundaries and she left him for the Chinese to torture.  Her betrayal of him served almost like a foreshadow for Bond that while she will have his back, if he steps out of line, he will be dealt with.

Bond lost both of his parents when he was young.  M became his Mum, for better and for worse.  When she died in his arms at the end, his tears were for real as he lost another mother.

Bond finally gets a new villain!  In almost every prior Bond, his arch enemy has fallen into two main categories; Dominators or Countries.

The first is the genius villain striving for some type of world dominance, whether with money, resources, or land, he will go to no end to dominate the world.  This is the cliche villain that often has a huge secret base with hundreds of soldiers and scientists working on the plan to rule the world.  He is usually very brilliant, but stupidly sets up some overly-produced death for Bond and leaves before seeing Bond die(why he never thought to just personally shoot Bond himself always confused me).  Bond escapes, grabs the girl, blows up the secret base, kills the baddie and has a post-battle coital reward with said girl.  It is no wonder that Mike Myers channeled this villain so well as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.

The second is a country/state trying to steal secrets or weapons that will let them hold world power.  There have only been a few of these movies, including For Your Eyes Only (my favorite Roger Moore movie).

In Skyfall, Bond gets a brand new villain with Bardem's Sylva.  As mentioned above, Sylva was one of M's favorites in the 90's, but was left to the Chinese as part of handover of Hong Kong.  While he does create a powerful terror/financial empire.  It is on a tiny deserted island.  It is mainly one big super computer.  He doesn't have a massive army or a bunch of scientists.

Sylva's main motivation is to deeply hurt M by setting the explosion destroying the MI6 headquarters, releasing the names of undercover agents around the world, and eventually hunting her down.  He outright calls her Mommy.  His motivation is deeply personal.  I wonder how his character would have moved on if he had been successful.

I appreciate his complexity.  He respects Bond and feels a kinship to him.  He hates, yet cares for  M when he sees she has been wounded.  He wants her to kill both herself and him at the same time to end the pain.  In ways, he is a more effective agent than Bond because he better  knows his limitations and plans around them and also has far fewer scruples.

During Sylva and Bond's great meet up scene, you learn more about both characters back story, history, feelings through some of the best character development written in a scene lasting less than 10 minutes. This included the great firework...

...Bond is bisexual.  In one very homoerotic scene, Sylva gently caresses and admires Bond's shoulder, chest, and collarbone.  He is caressing Bond as a lover.  There is the sense he is messing with Bond to fluster him and confuse him.  Even though he may be playing mental tricks on James, I feel Sylva was attracted to him for both his great physique, but also their shared life stories.  As he caressed the inside of Bond's thighs, James utters one of the best statements ever in a Bond movie, "you assume this is my first time."  (I am only paraphrasing since I can't remember the exact words).

For many years, I (and many others) have wondered if Bond has every seduced men as an agent, or even for his own pleasures.  From his response to Sylva I get the feeling both are true.

Other stuff - The movie itself had some major reoccurring themes and aesthetics.  They include how it was filmed and nods to Bonds passed.

Blue eyes, blue shirt, golden grass, and an ill-fated Aston Marton DB5 - Movie Still from Skyfall

ColorsThe director, Sam Mendes, also directed American Beauty and Road to Perdition.  Both are beautifully filmed.  In Skyfall, he used color palettes and selected imagery and icons to enhance the story.  I first noticed colors.  In most scenes, there were two dominant colors - either or both blue and gold.  The blue matches Craig's eyes.  You see both Ralph Fiennes and Bond wear blue suits or grey suits with strong blue shirts and ties.  In the assassination bit in the Shanghai high rise,  there is even a scene where Bond enters a hallway with shifting mood lights between alternating blue and gold.  The bar in the Macau casino is a warm gold, as is M's apartment.  The inside of Skyfall is a cold blue, much like Bond's eyes.   After Skyfall explodes and M and the caretaker, Kincaid (played by the great Albert Finney), escape up the hill, the hills are golden in the light of the fire as they run to the old church.  There are many other examples of gold and blue in the movie, but I think you get my point.  These two primary colors are as vital as red was in American Beauty.  Watch the official trailer below to see many of the uses of blue and gold in the movie.

Nods to Bond History- 2012 marked the 50th birthday of Bond movies.  In an homage, this movie had many little bits that referenced many of the older movies, but with new twists.  This is a list off of the of my head and is not all inclusive.  Please share more you observed in the comments section.

Bond shags three women in almost every movie - There is a brunette beauty he is with during his time-out phase after his "death".  We can assume that he and the agent who shot him and turns out to be Ms. Moneypenny was number two.  His last conquest is Sylva's temptress Sévérine.  As a twist though, he doesn't end the movie in bed with any one of them.

Motorcycle chase through a bazar and the obligatory crashes through fruit stands and an amazing jump.-  The twist in this cliche is that instead of jumping the motorcycle onto the train, he crashes it head first into the bridge rail to flip him uncontrolled onto the train.   

No Aston Martin goes unharmed.  Ever since the infamous DB5 appeared in Sean Connery's Goldfinger and Thunderball, Bond crashed many Aston Martins as well as they were, blown up, rolled, wrecked, tortured, and destroyed.  Each Aston Martin is tricked out with weapons and protective equipment. I love Aston Martins and cringe watching their many deaths in these movies.  Another one is destroyed in Skyfall.  The twist starts in the appearance of the vintage DB5 with all of the Goldfinger original kit, including machine guns and ejection seat.  The big twist though is that it is the simplicity and age of the old DB5 that is needed.  It can't be tracked electronically.  It is too old and out of sync with the new world, much like the aging Bond as mentioned above.

The return of Q.  I never knew "Q" stood for "Quartermaster".  Q is the master of weapons and gadgets.  There are two twists in this version though - Q is a youthful computer geek/genius that has little respect for Bond and his old, brutish ways.  The only fancy tech he gives Bond is a Walther that will only let Bond shoot it due to a palm print lock and a radio transmitter that broadcasts his location.  As Q says leaving the museum, "Were you expecting an exploding pen?  We don't do those anymore."  Another poke at Bond's age.

A few more things - the women's perspective.  I've talked about this movie with a number of women and below are some of what they shared.

Liked/loved - Bond swimming in the pool in Shanghai.  Bond in a suit.  Bond doing chin ups.  Those weren't shockers, but all of them felt thrilled when the old DB5 appeared.  I tried arguing for how beautiful the new Aston Martin DBS that appeared in the last two movies is.  They just smiled and continued their appreciation for the old car.  One other thing they appreciated was his relationship with M.  It added depth.  One female viewer though felt tired with the continued cliche that it always takes a male (Bond) to save the day.  One last comment from a female - she loved Adele's singing of the theme song, but wondered if the late April Winehouse's voice would have had the grittier edge that matched the movie.

Final thoughts.  It is obvious I loved this movie.  I wouldn't have written all this fanboy stuff about it otherwise.  Look at the list of great actors, Dench, Fiennes, Bardem, Finney, and Craig.  Throw in some of the best dialog, character development, and action of any Bond movie, and add that most of the movie takes place in Great Britain.  This modern noir movie is my favorite Bond movie staring my favorite Bond.  My only hesitation is that I worry about how the next movie will do after the greatness of this one.  


I promise to get back to Skyfall soon.

Rain - 121712
Life is getting back to normal at the personal level.  At a national level we have tragedy, politics, and politics of tragedy playing out around us.  My deceased friend's family came to get her.  She is now ashes and on her way home to the UK.   The authorities are initially saying food poisoning.  What a weird and random way to go.  She was a pretty fastidious food preparer.

I have three shows coming down soon.  It will be good to get onto new stuff.

Speaking of new stuff, I got the chance to work with the beautiful Rain DeGray again recently.  Above is an early image from our recent session.

I will write about Skyfall in next.  Until then, a little Neko Case to keep me in harmony.


It's been a bad week.

Dead Thistles - 1206

A few weeks ago a good friend came to visit us over Thanksgiving weekend.  We all had a great time.  She flew back to her new home in the Pacific Northwest.

On Wednesday morning, I found out this close friend died in her apartment.  She had been a very healthy 36 year old less than two weeks ago and now her light just blinked out.  No news on cause, but the family shared that there were "no signs of violence or self injury".

My friend who died lived her life full of adventure, fun and freedom.  I am trying to figure out how the loss of her will impact me and what I should learn.  The main lesson so far is to never assume I have a tomorrow.

This evening I got a message from another friend that both hurt and pretty much brought back the rift that we had filled in over the past few months that had divided us before.  It is amazing how fast a few lines in a message does that.  The lesson from this event is sometimes rifts just can't be filled without having a little storm wash it out again. 

 My second part of the Skyfall series is on hold.  I will write more when I get back into the mood.

The darkness of this video feels fitting today. 


"Skyfall" and a life in Bond-age. - Part 1

Valya - 120112

I just read a friend's posted review of the newest installment in the James Bond series, Skyfall.   After finishing her well written critique, I wanted to share my own.  It is based on my own Bond history and how I feel about this movie.

I am forty-three years old.  The James Bond movie franchise is fifty.  There have always been Bond movies around me.  I grew up with James as my fantasy uncle that I could live vicarious adventures through.  I love the Bond movies.  I love what he stands for and is.  He is the alter ego I wish I had.

My mom is a huge Bond fan and while raising me, she made sure I was as well.  I can't remember my first Bond movie, but I think it was one of Sean Connery's movies.    My mom has a big crush on that guy, much like her crush on Leonard Bernstein.  I know she enjoyed them both for more than their artistic talents.

My first Bond movies were all from watching TV.  The ABC network would play them on a Sunday night and they would go 2.5 hours instead of the usual 2 that most movies would get.  I had to get special dispensation from mom to stay up to 10:30 to see them.  I watched them for the fantastic action, the exotic scenery, and to try and follow the story.

As I got old enough to watch the movies in the theater with my mom and brother, I saw them on the big screen.  Even though Moonraker was my first in-theater Bond movie, the first one I remember and noticed something new was For Your Eyes Only.  I noticed the women.

Almost every Bond movie has two important bits with women.  The first is the opening title and theme song section where the women are usually naked and silhouetted.  It was the first time I remember seeing a naked woman, or at the negative black field of her, on film.  Seeing that may have been one of the little bits of my sexual experiences that made me appreciate the beauty of women in their natural state.  The second were the Bond women themselves and their silly names.  By my mid-teens, I was rolling my eyes at their horrible character names such as Pussy Galore and Octopussy.

During my young years, Roger Moore was my favorite Bond.  I liked his casual and slightly snarky approach to the character.  As I got older, I went back to liking Connery since he was more of a macho Bond.  In college I watched the subtler Timothy Dalton's Bonds and felt the franchise had gone into a slump.  It wasn't him, it was the stories and over-the-top lines and action sequences.  I had to ask if Wayne Newton should have ever been in a Bond movie (License to Kill).

By the time Piece Brosnan took up the helm, I only watched the Bond movies by renting them on VHS.  He was good, but each story felt like a retread.  Brosnan's Bond was a unique mixture of Moore's snarkiness and a darker side that included hints at James' alcoholism.  While he did well, I lost track and missed the last two or three of his performances.

In 2006*, Daniel Craig took on the Bond role in Casino Royale.  According to a recent Vanity Fair article about him and the role, Brosnan gave him a bit of advice, "Don't fuck it up."  Craig said he learned what that meant after his first movie came out and suddenly felt not only the weight of the role, but also the weight of the whole Bond universe was on him.

Bond's transgressive coming out of the water.

Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale still.

Casino Royale was the first Bond movie I went to see in a theater in over a decade.  I really wanted to see it for many reasons all of which concerned the new Bond, Daniel Craig.  First, he is barely a year older than me.  he is the first Bond my age.  That is important to me.  I feel connected to him because of that.  We were both in our upper 30's when that movie came out.   Second, he is the first blond Bond.  I am a blond too. 

In that movie he broke so many Bond rules.  First, he didn't have the sex with the usual three women in it.  Second, he drove a Ford Focus as his first car.  Third, instead of having a beauty like Ursula Andress or Halle Berry come out the water dripping wet in a swim suit, he came out buff and hot as ever.  I think even every straight man had to feel his privates twitch at that scene.  He represented masculinity and its raw beauty in that magic moment.  Fourth, he was rough.  In the famous parkour scene where he is chasing a villain through a building site, the baddy vaults over a half wall, Bond runs through it.  As M says in that movie to him, "You are a blunt weapon".  Fuck subtlety.  Sometimes you have to break through to the other side.   Fifth, Bond fell in love.  Vesper (which inspired the invention of a great and butt-kicking drink) was played by the unbelievable beautiful Eva Green who becomes his love and his heartbreak loss as well.  Her loss hardened his heart.  You could feel this happen with him and understood why he went cold to love and emotion after that.  This movie soon became my favorite Bond movie staring my favorite Bond movie.

A few years later, Craig's second Bond movie came out, Quantum of Solace.  It sucked for so many reasons I wont go into.  I was worried for the franchise after seeing it.  The only saving bit was Jack White and Alicia Key's them song, Another Way to Die.

In my next post, I will finally write about Skyfall. 

*I always wondered why they didn't wait to release the movie in 2007... as in 007 in 2007!