Ageism - scientifically speaking.

You are too old/too young to participate.  Sorry.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space - Umberto Boccioni - MoMA  - 122813

In my last post a about Santa and Dollars, I wrote about many of the "isms" and the hope that they are fading away.  Friend UL wrote about an often overlooked type of discrimination - ageism.  It made me think upon a recent example of ageism I learned about that is part of science and clinical trials of medications.

As I've mentioned before, I work for a large pharmaceutical company in the pharmacovigilance (PV) department (Drug Safety).  We are the group that makes the list of all those nasty side effects that you hear listed in prescription drug commercials (e.g., dizziness, nausea, oily discharge, liver damage, etc.).  Most of these lists come from what is discovered as side effects during the three phases of clinical trials for the product.  When conducting these clinical trails, especially phase 3, you have to have very tight controls on subject selections so that  the product is being tested against the disease and eliminating outside variables, as much as possible.  To determine who gets the treatments (and depending on the target population of the medicine), you have to create a list of the Special Populations  of those that will be excluded from the study.  For most studies, the first two groups most often listed as special populations are pediatric and older patients.

Scientifically, it can make sense to exclude these two groups.  For too long, children were thought of as little adults when it came to medicine.  You just adjust the dose for the body weight.  This was a big mistake since the metabolism, brains, and organ systems of children are developing and are much different than adults.  In the past few decades, the FDA and other health regulatory agencies (MHRA, EMEA, SFDA, Health Canada, etc.) have increasingly emphasized the need for special clinical trials for children.

The older excluded group is a different issue.  Older humans tend to have multiple issues that can affect/draw questions to the clinical trials.  At 44, I am starting to age out of some studies.  That can be attributed to my needing two different asthma medications along with being on the verge of high blood pressure and cholesterol.  If I start taking meds for those, it would further complicate any clinical trials because of the potential issues of drug interactions and other pre-existing conditions becoming exacerbated.   As we age, we become more medically complex.  All of this can make medical testing very tough and is understandable for filtering out during clinical trials, but on the other hand...

The other hand is that by excluding these special populations, we don't learn what health issues the new product can introduce to the populations.  It may greatly help them, hurt them, or do nothing at all.  The danger can come though when the drug is approved and it gets out to the general population, which includes these special populations.  We often learn more about the side effects of drugs for these groups from reports of adverse events from marketed drugs than those in clinical trials, especially for special populations.  Sadly though, that meant a sick patient had to live (hopefully) through the adverse drug reaction.  Because we didn't test on these subjects, we may not know the issues caused by more-complex health profiles of children and our older communities.

When practicing PV, we don't only list the side effects, we build up a benefit/risk profile for the product.  We want to help the prescribing physicians, patients, and other healthcare providers by giving them the best and most current information on the drug.  This enables them to weigh the benefits and the risks of the product.  Many risks can be reduced or mitigated by taking special actions, so this knowledge is crucial for making the correct treatment plans.  To truly understand this, we must include special populations in the clinical trials and determine how the medicines work within them.  Sadly though, this isn't done, mostly due to the cost and time.

Currently it costs north of a billion dollars, not including production/manufacturing costs, to get a drug approved by regulatory authorities.  With the short trademark life on the product and that it takes 8+years to get approval, doing further clinical trials aren't deemed cost effective or time efficient.  For many products, warnings go out stating that data for special populations is incomplete or missing and that doctors should be very careful prescribing to them or should avoid prescribing them at all.

We (industry, regulatory authorities, insurance companies, advocacy groups, patients, etc.) need to determine a way to require further clinical trials that include special populations to ensure better data across all patient populations and yet makes it financially feasible for the drug companies to do so.  I think all sides need to be flexible and working toward a solution rather than trying to protect only their own interests.


Santa and dollars. What is real?

If you are under 12... you shouldn't even be reading this blog until you are 18

It happened on Easter Sunday when I was seven.  My family was staying at our Montana cabin out in the woods and my older brother and I were looking for all the goodies that the Easter Bunny had hidden for us.  At one point I had stopped looking and started playing with a toy when my mom said, "I bet the Easter Bunny would hide something behind that chair."  She pointed her finger and I ran off too check it out and found another small toy.  As soon as I picked it up I looked at my mom and the whole belief vaporized into myth.  

"Mom.  You are the Easter Bunny, aren't you?"  I asked with a sudden flush.

Her shoulders dropped and she said, "Yes.  I am."

It all hit me then and I kept asking and she, my brother, and my dad kept replying.

"Tooth fairy?"
With the biggest hesitation, "Santa too?"

She then told me not to tell any of my friends because I shouldn't ruin these things for them. The trip back home that day was quiet.  I had the last of my magical loot in the seat beside me and I felt suddenly much older.  The magic of belief and the belief in magic had evolved into knowing neither magic nor belief existed.  The fences going by and the telephone poles were more real than anything else that day.  

I don't judge the value to perpetuate the myth of Santa and his gift-bearing siblings.  It is up to parents to decide if they want to keep these magical myths going.  I wonder though why we create a *magical belief that is so rooted inside our culture to uphold.  If I say there is no Santa, people shush me and look to see if any kids are around.  It feels like I almost said "fuck and rape" by the responses and dirty looks I get.

Santa is based off of Saint Nicholas of Greece.  Over the years, he has morphed into his current version (and even that is changing with stupid debates over his skin color and his portrayal of obesity) that we perpetuate.  Along with him, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny continue to evolve and give better inflation-rated gifts over the years.

So again, why does our culture need these magical beliefs?  Are there other similar beliefs that we hold so true in our hearts, even as adults? 

I started thinking of things that once were not true, but now have become believed as true over the years.  I also started thinking of things that once were beliefs that are now gone or fading away.  Here are some of the first that came to mind.

  • Inferiority in intellect/moral fortitude of a gender, sexual orientation or race.  (Probably everything racist, sexist or homophobic is part of this)
  • Fear mongering of the enemies of a nation over the years - Communists, Soviets, Muslims, etc.
  • The sins of sex
  • Dick Clark never aged.

Along with all of these I came upon the biggest magical belief that almost every country holds.  It is so pervasive that our existence holds its value to be so important that wars, murder, and mayhem go crazy over it to hoard.  It is the dollar, yen, euro, pound.  It is money.

I have an old twenty dollar bill from the 1950's.  On the front it states:
This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private, and is redeemable in lawful money at the United  States Treasury, or at any Federal Reserve Bank.

If you look at one printed now it says.
This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private. 
As many of you know, American money was once based on the Gold Standard in which the paper money was representative of actual gold held in reserve as the backer of value.  At one point though, this was done away with.  That new twenty dollar note is not worth that much because the paper it is printed on is not made of expense materials.  The ink is pretty cheap as well.  It isn't a note that can be directly exchanged for gold stored as proof of value.  That twenty dollar bill is only worth twenty dollars because we have ingrained it into our minds that it is worth it.

If I went to the store today and bought twenty dollars worth of groceries tonight and still had forty left in my wallet and then the zombie apocalypse hit, which could I use to exchange for other goods or services, the left over money or the groceries?  The can of spam would be worth much more than the piece of paper with $20 on it because it truly would have value as a consumable.  In that moment, aside from fighting off zombies, everyone would have the same realization that I had at seven about Santa.  Money isn't real.  Fence posts and telephone poles are real.

I started to see this a few years ago during the recession.  My 401k dropped in value by 75%, as did my home.  One month I had x dollars invested, the next I had 1/4x.  I didn't see any of this stuff happen.  It just disappeared.  On the other hand, my home was still there.  Even though it was worth much less money than it was a year before, I didn't lose an actual 75% chunk of it.  It is still 1410 square feet, two stories high, with a detached garage.  It is the magic-belief-paper-money value of it that was lost.

It is things we truly consume that have value.  Food holds value.  Shelter is valuable.  Medicine is pretty good too.  What about jewelry?  That depends on whether its beauty is valuable or its components hold value for use and in other modes.  What about ideas?  Good ideas are valuable, such as the idea of better way to build a wall to keep zombies out.  That would be worth some spam.  Good music would be valuable as an escape and reprieve from existence, as well as books and other arts.  Friendship, family, and human bonds would be worth much too as our ancestors learned by living in communities.  Of course the value, and trade, of the world's oldest profession will never change.

In this season of giving, stop the craziness of thought that the price tag behind the gift makes it better.  I know it is trite to repeat the cliche of "It isn't the gift, it's the spirit of the gift that counts", but it is true.

I had a coworker look at me, mouth agape, when I told her I was getting my wife a massage and making her dinner for Christmas.  She then stated (semi-joking), "There had better be a Gucci something beside that dinner."  I just smiled and walked away knowing that for us, a relaxed and nurtured body massaged of stress and filled with amazing pot roast is worth more than something sold at Bloomingdales.

*I am not addressing issues of faith and religion with this post.


Fundamentals, essential elements, and tennis balls.

Krysta Kaos - 110513 - SideB

Photography and art lifts us up, makes us feel, think, believe, tear us down, change us, challenge us, and make us live our humanity.  All of that is much of the lofty stuff that makes us aspire to creating art and expressing ourselves.  This stuff is crucial to an artist's soul, but to be honest, it isn't the only thing that makes the art.  An artist also needs to keep in mind the fundamentals of craft, classic elements of art, and then going out and doing it, doing it again and doing it better, then repeat.

I recently picked up an issue of of Popular Photography that reviewed the fundamentals of photography such as rule-of-thirds, tonal range, etc., to make your photos better.  Even though all of it was very basic, it reminded me that sometimes I neglect these fundamentals  because I assume I am that good and don't need to be cognizant of them.  One recent example came from a portrait photo shoot where for half of the photos I forgot the golden rule of ensuring the subject's eye closest to me must be in focus.  I should have remembered my fundamentals.  So padawans, learn your fundamentals. Once you master them, you can transgress them, but you must master them first.

A few years ago I enjoyed the opportunity to take an art history course.  We discussed many of the essential elements of art.  Composition, color theory, motion, narrative, perspective, etc.  It made me look at art with an appreciation of the artist's mastery of fundamentals and using the essential elements (and bending them) to create works that transcend the brush strokes and colors to become overtures of emotion, thought, message and life.  So padawans, learn these essential elements and study the art of those who have created before you.  Take those lessons and make your own voice from their inspirational notes.

You know what a coach says about what you have to do to get good at tennis, hit a lot of tennis balls.  Same is true about photography.  You have to take a lot of photos. - Mentor Ron
Creating art is an exercise.  Like the runner, the gymnast, the swimmer, you don't become a great artist instantly and with little work.  You must get out their and create, show, get feedback, create more, refine, explore, and create more. 

As a photographer, you must go out and shoot.  This practice must not be indiscrimate shooting, but with the intent to learn, explore your art and craft, and to create your own artistic voice.  Once you  captured the image, you then have to go and finish the art through editing and printing.  You may do this in a darkroom and grow your ability to create master prints from printing hundreds or thousands of times to learn the craft.  As a digital photographer you must keep learning the tools (i.e., Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) and then practice, push, and practice more. 

I've found from my own experience I learn a new technique (adding digital vignettes was one of my first) and initially over using it in all my art.  After time and practice, I hopefully grow in subtlety and power as I let it enhance the art, not take over it.  This is a normal evolution of any growth.  Exuberance and excitement on the new power and then a deeper learning of how it applies to my art.

One of my greatest weaknesses in art is that this an exercise that needs... exercise.  Like running, it is easier to not do it than do it.  All I can say is that if you want it to be important to you, you will have to get the discipline to keep creating and doing it.  Hopefully your artistic need to create quality and the rewards and lessons will also be motivational to getting off your ass and creating with intent.  So padawans, put down your excuses and make some art, then make  more and more. 


"Hey sexy, nice ass..." and other objectifications

Earlier this year I posted photos from my other blog, shadowsexposed.com, about an art series I created titled, I objectify women (IOW).    In it I present my thoughts on how I objectify women through my art.  For me, there are many different types and degrees of objectification of another human.
IOW Jacqui - gel transfer onto old cotton shirt - 102413

This morning I read an article at Slate.com about the artist Hannah Price who photographed men that cat-called her while she walked the streets of Philadelphia.  I suggest you look at the photos and read the article.  I found that her photos are brilliant in how they transgress the sexist boundaries of cat calls by not returning them with a sharp retort.  She both humanizes the cat callers and also objectifies them in a way.  From what little I learned of her series she engaged the cat callers in dialogue and took their portraits.  I wonder if this has changed their attitudes about their verbal outbursts?  Hopefully.
IOW Jacqui - gel transfer onto old cotton shirt - 102413

Ms. Price is exposing one of the many types of objectification.  Cat calls can be range from pretty subtle (yet in their way still very intrusive) like, "Smile for me, beautiful" to horrifically vulgar, degrading and threatening.  I guess that is true of many types of objectification.

All of this makes me wonder on the intent of the objectifiers.  I think there are a few major categories of objectifiers.

1. They (and society) know they are doing it and it is accepted as normal by most.  This is the most common with advertising, movies, television, etc.  There are dangers still, but until society shifts, it will be there.

2.  They know what they are doing even though it unacceptable to society.  This may be porn, cat calls, comments on forums, jokes, created art, materials, etc.  Much of this stuff has to be kept underground or on special interest websites.  Depending on the content, it may be protected under free speech, but maybe considered dangerous or directly threatening to the "othered".  Some are ashamed they do these things, others do it blatantly and may have ill intent behind them.

3. They don't know it is objectification (both at the individual and societal levels).  I am guilty of this.  Many times it is subconscious, yet pretty pervasive (and may also be perverted?).    Examples of this are the male (and female gaze), unconscious thoughts, jokes, and other subtle and not-so subtle manifestations.

I believe that objectification will always be part of our world and that not all forms of objectification are bad.  Sometimes they are necessary filters to get information quick and make decisions.  The major danger though is when they become the only form of information we gather about the objectified and also how we treat and interact or act upon them.


I am back...

Me(out of focus) - 102013

...finally.  I have not published here since late February and I have missed it.  There are many reasons and excuses for neglecting this space, but as a wizened friend told me once, "There is a difference between reasons and excuses."  Some of these excuses/reasons are superficial and some are deeply personal.

As you may remember, I started another blog with a friend, shadowsexposed.com.  It is going well and  I am enjoying it.  It continues to focus on the life and art erotic.  While that takes some time to create, it should not have pulled me away from this blog and life, and it didn't.  I did that to myself.

Without going into the details,
I had a nervous/psychological breakdown (with even a psychologists diagnosis to go with it) in April and May.  I hit that moment head on and went through the windshield of depression, anxiety and other mental pains due to a mix of my own failures, fractures, and defense mechanisms.  I hurt myself psychologically and hurt those around me as well.

I am not going into the details yet because I want to write about them in the future as part of the putting it into my past and discovering who I really am.  I am planning to explore these parts of me through new art, this blog, further therapy, meditation, praying, introspection, and deep reflection.  Not all will be shared here, because some just wont work well in this medium.

I am doing much better now and I believe the traumatic part of it is behind me.  The next steps are to continue the healing and to make sure it never happens again by learning from what I did wrong.

For my long-time readers; along with these reflective pieces, I still plan to share some humor, a few nudes,and art that has nothing to do with the dark times.  One thing I am learning is that it is important to feed those parts of my life that make it beautiful, fun and worth living.

PS - During that time, a long-time blog friend reached out and shared care and concern, which I deeply appreciated.  Thanks you.

PSS- The beard is for Halloween.  I can't wait to shave it off November 1st.


I objectify women.

Valya - butter wrapper - 022413

Over at my partner blog Shadowsexposed, I just posted the beginning of a series of posts on my own journey and personal sense on how I objectify women (IOW). 

I objectify women through my thoughts, beliefs, and art as well.  Just by tripping the shutter and capturing the image of a woman on film or a sensor, I transfer a real human (not just women) into a 1/250th of a second capture of her and convert her to an object.  

This transfer is similar to what painters, sculptors, poets, and other creative types have done for centuries.  They take a full human and convert them to some sort of partial object, a mere small representation of a fiction or reality of that person. - excerpt from IOW at shadowsexposed.com

Over this series, Miz B and I are going to explore objectification.  For me, it will be about my work, my struggles, and how I am evolving and accepting what I do.  For Miz B, she will write about being both behind the camera as objectifier and in front of it as the objectified.

I have one favor, please go over there and read this, and the following posts in the series, and comment.  You can comment anonymously if you like.  The important thing though is to share your thoughts, experiences, and comments about it.  We don't mind a bit of debate, even if it gets heated.  You can disagree with us as well.  The key part is to raise the issues and help broaden the discussion.  If you don't feel comfortable commenting there,  comment here.

PS - Thanks to D.L. for commenting both there and here.  We greatly appreciate it.  


At last, Friday Night Lite.

Jolene  - 020813

My last post got all deep and theological and shit.  Enough of the deep stuff for this week.  I just turned off my work computer for the evening and it is time to relax with a cocktail, some brie and crackers, and maybe a cigar.

First, I want to say goodbye to 30 Rock.  Tina Fey and her companions gave us 7 seasons of intelligent comedy.  It was never a great popular success, but a critical one.  I thank NBC for giving this smart show a chance when they could have killed it years ago.  It ended well.  Below is a great montage called "Shit Liz Lemon Says".

I am in Las Vegas for the weekend.   Below are a few shots from the inside of my Virgin America flight.  I highly recommend flying with them.  Good prices, great service, and a Rave Party feel inside, minus the drugs, plus the lighting and music.

And here is a bit of music to start the weekend.
I've been living (living) on a dead-end street
I've been asking (asking) everybody I meet
Insufficient data coming through



Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson

*Maybe I should be depressed about this, but while I am not eagerly awaiting my death, I know everything has its time.  I am going through a religious questioning phase right now about the existence and role of a  theistic being.  In other words - do I believe in a God with a big G or not?   For now, I am starting to feel or believe that there is a cosmic greatness out there, but that my existence influences or is known by that great being is about the same as my influence on that ant hill in the yard at my parent's place a thousand miles away.  My universe is too big to know of every life form I have some connection to and potential power over.  Those ants walk their little bits of food and building pieces to their hill and I never know of their existence and will not know of their deaths.

This is how I am seeing the great cosmic force that is out there.  This greater entity, whether it is powers of nature and science regulating everything, a spiritual being, or the combined energy of all life and forces in the universe, shapes our entire origin, life, demise and whatever is next.  It is much like me starting my truck.  I installed the engine, hooked up the fuel, and turned the key.  The engine starts and I drive away.  Even though I am cognizant of the crank shaft pushing the pistons up and down, I am not in control of or care about each rotation in the engine as it spins at 3000 rpm.  It is going on its own.  Along my trip, I may drive over a pebble that spits out into field and later is used to become part of a groundhog's nest.  All of this action is set into motion because I put the engine into my truck.  Am I cognizant of each of these interactions?  No.   It is just the whole system running on what I have done.

I am that little pebble thrown out into field.  God, the entity, the forces of nature, or whatever  don't care about that pebble or don't even know its existence.  This moment of me is just one of the smallest parts of the countless interactions and beings in the universe moving along its own path.

Part of this realization came from looking at the faith I learned along the way.  I looked at all the death, catastrophes (natural or man made) and wondered why an "all loving being" could do that, or at least, prevent them?  Why would an omnipotent being care about such petty things and how it is worshiped?  How could a knowing and loving entity allow different religions to kill in its name?   For me, why would a supreme being care about gender, politics, or different religions, race, sexual orientation, etc.? Is the answer truly "42"?

Some of y potential (but not all-inclusive) answers are:
A.  It acts like a kid having temper tantrums, not knowing the damage it does.
B.  It is something that goes beyond war crimes, genocide, and any crimes of humanity or nature we can understand and makes Hitler, Stalin, and their ilk (speaking of which, why would a deity allow these people to become what they were in first place?), look like doves. (Take the Noah story - why kill every human and animal on the earth, except those chosen few, just to make a point.  That alone is an atrocity that goes beyond anything witnessed in history.  I am sure that at least a few of the humans wiped out in this moment of wrath were good people that were just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place.   I wont even go into the horrors in the book of Job.  
C. It is something that set the whole engine in the universe going and lets things play out by the rules of nature, science, and free will of the mind.  

Maybe it is time for me to realize I am just that speck that Calvin alludes to.  This is not depressing, it is freeing.  I am released from this burden of the exceptionalism of organized religion where each faith knows it is right and all others are wrong.  I get to do what I do, help others, try not to hurt, maybe create a little beauty, make things better and then snuff out and become part of the great cosmos again.

George Carlin summed it all up so well.
See I don’t worry about the little things: bees, trees, whales, snails. I think we’re part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. Know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron…whoooa. Whoooa. Whoooa. It doesn’t punish, it doesn’t reward, it doesn’t judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while.
*I am not criticizing anyone's beliefs.  I am criticizing my own path and analyzing my own journey and what I am slowly learning.  I am not saying what I am sharing is the answer to it all.  No one knows that for certain, but maybe only what is certain to them. 

I promise nudes and shallowness, levity, and other things in my next post.


Not liking!

Mare Island - 020413

One of friends who is now looking for colleges had a very endearing and easily understood experience when she was four years old.  It happened when we watched Shrek together.  There is a scene where Shrek is really mean to Donkey and yells at him to send him away.  My little friend crawled into my lap and said to me, "Not liking!" and turned her head to avoid seeing the sad scene in the movie.  I had to agree, "not liking".

Over the past few weeks I've seen a couple of other friends that were friends before I met them are falling out.  It has probably been brewing for awhile.  It hurts since they once shared a deep connection and both respect and affection for each other.  Now their relationship feels poisoned.  Their growing split is getting harder to witness.  Not liking.

Many of my friendships in my life faded away over the last few decades.  Facebook has helped a few of us reconnect, but that is a rarity.  I understand when friendships slowly flow apart since we all develop separate lives that slowly erode the commonalities we once shared.

It is really sad though to lose friendships over hard feelings and misunderstandings.  I've regrettably been part of those splits and witnessed a few as well. Sadly, this is part is life I guess.  During my witnessing this recent break, I know that my role is probably best to stay to the side and try to love and support them both.  For now though, I want to look away and say, "Not liking."


And in other news.

Jolene - 013113

Over at my shared blog, shadowsexposed.com with Miz B, we have are getting great comments on an Art vs. Porn post.  It is the first of an ongoing series on this topic.  My post about it comes out on today at 5pm Pacific time.

In other news, I am playing with some old polaroid film and haven't photographed nudes in a few weeks.  Maybe February will be better.

Now onto a musical interlude to get us back into the 70's mood.  (Yeah, I know.  I was 8 or 9, but I remember liking this song back then too.
Well I think you know what Im trying to say woman,
That is I'd like to save you for a rainy day,
Ive seen enough of the world to know,
That Ive got to get it all to get it all to grow.


Speeding by annihilation

ICBM Missile Silo, Central Montana - 012813

When you zip around eastern and central Montana (and much of North Dakota) you see these places.  The are about an acre of fenced in concrete, asphalt, and a few electronic devices.  They are scattered all over the landscape and often have cattle around them quietly grazing.  Under that bit of concrete though lies the potential death of millions of people.  It is the ultimate potential energy device humanity has every created, the intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, just waiting to become kinetic.

I grew up in the 70's and 80's with these all around me.  As kids, my brother and I would play a game counting the number of missile silos we would pass while on family trips.  Mom and dad didn't say anything about our game, but by the look on their faces we could tell it was not a game to them.

In junior high and high school, we watched movies like The Day After that chronicled the aftermath of the nuclear holocaust.  We read Alas, Babylon.  We were told that if WW3 started, we would be some of the first to know as we would watch the missiles rise out of the earth and go into space to come back down on the USSR.  We also knew that we would have about 20 minutes to live before we would burn up in a flash.

Once after school, a few of us talked about what we would do if we saw the missiles launch.  A few with teenage bravado and hormones exclaimed a desire to die not virgins, so they would go find their girlfriends to spend those last minutes with.  A few said they would race home to family and spend time with them. I just got sad because I knew my home was thirty minutes away and I would die alone.  Whenever I heard a sonic boom (a monthly or even weekly occurrence), I would worry for an instant that a missile had launched and gone super sonic on its one-way trip over the arctic.  I would close my eyes and say a soft, mumbled prayer, "Please. Not this time."

In 2011 I took a long road trip around Montana.   On the third to last day in that state, I started to come down with a nasty cold.  I could only do a couple hundred miles of driving before I needed to rest.  I was sad because I knew I would be sick on the day I would drive my favorite road in Montana, Highway 200 between Great Falls and Missoula.

I love that road because it tickles my fetish for geological boundaries.  It is where the Great Plains runs head on into the Rocky Mountains.  It is my favorite place in the world.  That day though, I was feverish and wanting to both enjoy the beauty and just get to Butte and a warm bed.

About forty minutes west of Great Falls, I saw the deja vu-inducing missile silo site.  I quickly grabbed my camera and shot five images as I sped by at 70 mph.  I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take those photos, so I made it a quick pass.  After I set my camera down, all of those high school memories from a time when our enemy was the USSR came flooding back.  I suddenly felt both lonely in the car and nostalgic for Montana.  I looked in my rear view mirror at the quickly receding silo and and whispered in a horse voice to it, "Please.  Not this time."



Fae DeCay - 012413

I watched the documentary, Thinking XXX.  It chronicles the making of a photo series by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders where he takes two portraits of porn stars (male, female, gay and straight porn), one clothed, one nude.   Much of the movie has the stars talking about the industry.  It also has rich commentary and analysis by John Waters and Gore Vidal.  In it, Gore Vidal shared this great thought on porn and the human condition.

We never seem to tire at looking at naked bodies.  That is true, but they always have to be new ones. Gore Vidal from the movie Thinking XXX.
This quote has two great features, the hook and then the yank of the hook.  In the hook or the first part, he describes how we endlessly enjoy viewing the nude.  I enjoy looking at the nude form.  I prefer female nudes, but appreciate male nudes as well.  For centuries, artists, and many creators lacking artistic intent,  captured the nude form through paintings, sculptures, photography, writing, etc.  We can't help but look when confronted.  For me, I enjoy seeing not only the nude form, but how the artist captured it.

Ludovica Albertoni Cetera - Bernini - my photo 012413

Ludovica Albertoni Cetera - Bernini - my photo 012413
The master sculptors Bernini and Rodin both captured nudes, but in different ways.  The almost-photo realism of the Bernini's art makes me want to touch it and feel the real moment captured.  I want to feel St. Teresa's  ecstasy.  I can almost feel the passion, fear, and arousal in his masterpiece, "The Rape of Prosperpina" where you can see how his hands are pressing into the flesh of her thigh.   As for Rodin, he is not so much a realist as much as sharing the raw emotions and behaviors of the moment.  Whether it is the elegant simpleness of "The Kiss" or the sultry passion of the "Lovers, 1911" or the torn and conflicted pain of "The Tragic Muse" (one of my favorites), I am feeling what is being represented in the work.   I not only want to, desire to, and seek these nudes out, I must see them.  I am drawn to them at both the primal animal self and the intellectual appreciative self as well.
The Tragic Muse - Rodin - Photographer unknown

This desire leads to the second part, the yank and setting of the hook in Vidal's quote about always needing to see new ones.   Even though I have personal favorites of nude imagery, sculpture,  erotica, porn, etc., I will always want to see new ones - new faces, bodies, stories, and themes.   It is lust, need, and appreciation that I need to look at them and want more.

This desire for change, variety, and novel experiences applies to my art as well.  Once I create and refine an image, or set of images, from a photo shoot with a model, I start getting inspired for the next shoot.  If it is with the same model, I focus on where can we go deeper and change it up.  If it is a new model, what new things will she bring that I haven't seen or created before.  Regardless, I tend to then lose some interest in the work I created and completed and desire the next one, and then the next one.

Am I shallow for continually wanting and not being satisfied with how I create and consume the nude form?  On one hand, this insatiable desire sometimes leads me to feeling it is more of an obsession or thirst that can never be quenched.  On the other hand, if this desire ever stopped or was denied to me, would I become less of who I am?


No Nude Mondays

Heading west toward 95 - 012113

Inauguration day.  I have only a few thoughts on the President's speech.  It's about fucking time he grew a set and chose to address big issues head on.  Some of these include financial equity, marriage equity, and the progressive agenda.  This will make us discuss it and push forward.  I hope we grow to be a better nation and not see the gridlock and absolutism of our political nation.


That reminds me...

NYC - 011613

A few days ago I was listening to my iPod on the bus.  It was set to randomly choose the next song.  After a few songs, I heard the first bars of a silly dance tune that brought tears to my eyes.  It reminded my of a close family friend that died in December.

We went to Las Vegas with our friend Cassie a few years ago as a consolation/celebration of her getting laid off from work.  The many crazy outings included going to a number of night clubs.  Most of the d.j.'s played this song.  It must have been a fresh tune getting lots of club play at that time.  It is a very silly sampling/homage to an old song with lots of electronica thrown in.  All of us downloaded it and declared it the theme song to our trip.

In honor of Cassie, below is the song we all danced like fools to.  It is a great tune to clean house with and bust out a little dance move. 

We Speak No Americano


No-nude Mondays and why do we make voluntary suffering a virtue?

Colorado River - 011413
In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. - Leonardo da Vinci
I had a great weekend scoping locations, photographing a model, and gallivanting around the northern California area.  You will see photos from those experiences in the next few days.

Part 1 - Water

I really like photographing boundaries.  The photo above is the Colorado  River, a few dozen miles south of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.  Across the river is Arizona.  While being a geographical boundary, it is also the boundary between parched desert and water.  We are drawn to water, especially where water is the rarity and not the usual.

Part 2 - Suffering snobbery.

It has been cold in this area of California for a few days.  Many of my Montana family and friends would not bat an eye at the temps, but I felt the cold.  Since I left Montana, family members love to brag about the extreme cold, heat, dry, or snowy conditions it is back there and how it makes them a tougher group; ergo, better than those living in temperate locals. .  If they get into how they are underpaid for doing jobs that reward much better elsewhere while also suffering such weather hardships, they condescend to others from their saintly perches.

I live in the state with the most Americans in it (roughly 1 out of 8 Americans live here).  It has the highest and the lowest points of the lower 48 states.  California's economy trades places with France as which is larger.  We have snow, ocean coast, and desert.  I drive through traffic and by cities that have more people than Montana.  Does this make me a better person than anyone else. Nope.  I chose to live in a place where the weather is much more moderate and the traffic sucks.  I chose to live in a state that has well-paying jobs.  I now have a home in Nevada, where the summer temps are above 110 and only cools to mid 90's at night.  Does that make me a tougher person and better than others?  No.  It was just a choice.

In this age, migrating between states is not that hard compared to a hundred years.  If you choose to live in hardship areas and have the ability to move, then that may say more about your judgement.  As a friend once told me, "In most parts of life, suffering is optional."



Our banner

Shadows, by definition, are areas shrouded from light - but created by that same light. In shadows there are form and fantasy, secrets and sins, truths and teases.  - shadowsexposed - Miz B.

I've been hinting at it and it is now a reality.  I am proud to introduce a new collaborative blog I am half of, shadowsexposed. This new blog will be looking into our arts, eroticism, creation, and what we expose through it.  At times, it will be much more explicit and hit harder themes than this blog.

I don't want to go to much into the back since it will be a part of the blog's growth, but since you are my devoted readers, here, I will give you a bit.  Miz B. and I went to high school together.  As is usual, we drifted our separate paths after graduation and found each other on Face Book a few years ago.  After lots and lots of messages, we developed a trust and understanding that we both work in similar worlds, have similar issues and rewards, yet both have unique stories to share.  This is a blog about that.  I highly suggest you get over to the blog and read more.   Comments are always appreciated and add to the discussion.  To avoid confusion, we are both using pseudonyms (for a while).  You will recognize my old "Side B"  or "SB".

As for this blog, I love it and it will not really change or go away.  This is my personal journal, exhibition, and thought muse.  It is very personal and important to me.  I love my readers and want to keep this going and growing. 


Wanton, Wanting, Wonton Wednesday

Jolene - 010913

Rain - 010913
Tiana - 010913

Wanton - adjective (of a cruel or violent action) Deliberate and unprovoked.  Noun - A sexually immodest or promiscuous woman.  Verb - Play; frolic.
Wanting - adjective 1. Lacking in a certain required or necessary quality: "their products would be found wanting in a direct comparison"  2. Not existing or supplied; absent.
Wonton - noun - (in Chinese cooking) A small round dumpling or roll with a savory filling, usually eaten boiled in soup.   - Dictionary.com
 I find all three of these words apropos to today.  Each fit a mood, desire, or need for my Wednesday.  Starting from the bottom.

Wonton - For me, there are few soups that taste as good on a cold, rainy day.  It warms the body and soul.  It also helps decongest the sinuses. 

Wanting - I sometimes feel like I am lacking in a certain required or necessary quality.  This hits hard on Wednesdays because the week has evolved far enough to know what must be done, but the realization hits on what I am capable of doing.  I feel like the black horse in this gif today. 

Wanton - I wonder why that word has different meanings, whether as an adjective, noun, or verb.  Other than not being a woman (and why is it only directed at women?), I sometimes feel like all three variations at the same time.   Today I may feel sexually immodest or promiscuous with a desire to play or frolic cruelly.  Ok, that is a bit of a stretch, but I can see that it could happen.

Along with the wanton label, I wonder if I described the ladies in the images as "wanton" or "wanting", how would they be perceived compared to "empowered", "aroused", or "erotic"?


A change in diet?

Nelson, NV - 010813
Yesterday I posted some new photos that didn't have any nudes... or even humans.  I jokingly called it "No Nude Monday".  D.L. shared a great comment:
Focusing on nature can be a rewarding and sometimes healing adventure. Noticing the beauty and details of the outdoors can enhance and renew the pleasures of exploring the nude form again.
 I had to think on it a bit and realized I have fallen into a gluttonous diet of photographing erotic and nude subjects. Like eating too many In and Out burgers, this filling over indulgence only leaves me craving the next one.  Where is the next model? What are we going to create?  What mood and feelings do I want?  Will there be a narrative or concept or is it to be for more base desires? 

As with any gluttonous craving, it feeds upon itself at the exclusion of a more well-rounded diet that is healthier for the photographer.  I find that I get tunnel vision on a topic, subject, or genre.  I no longer notice all the amazing photographic opportunities around me and go for the rib eye steak of my art, the erotic nude. 

A few weeks ago I went out with my wife into the desert around Las Vegas a few times.  I photographed the buildings, landscapes, and little things that caught my eye.   Along the way, I jokingly shared, "I can't publish these.  I am a portraitist, dare I say eroticist or pornographer.  I can't do landscapes."  She didn't like that joke.

When I use a computer too long, I notice that I have a difficulty seeing things clearly at great distances because my eyes are too used to an object about 24" from me.  While photographing a landscape that was over 40 miles deep, I realized my photographic vision was out of shape. I am used to focusing on a the exquisite beauty before me and worrying about depth of field, bokeh, light, fine focus, and other aesthetic choices.  Once I stepped out into nature and the grand views, I had to notice those mountains way off, the quickly spreading clouds, and the little cactus near my feet.  I had to see depth.  Instead of cropping out the world to get to the subject, like I do with nude photography, I had to decide what to include in the grand photo and try to make it work.

As D.L. wrote,  "Noticing the beauty and details of the outdoors can enhance and renew the pleasures of exploring the nude form again.", I need to refresh my view and get more vegetables, starches, and fruit into my photographic diet.  I need to enhance how I see the whole world in the frame, not just the luscious content my id wants in it.  Maybe it is time to see the forest again and not get obsessed with only seeing the breasts. 


Wow. Seven days in...

Nelson, NV - 010713

... and all those resolutions to simplify and try to go at a healthier pace have vanished already.  Oh well.  I guess my resolution to listen to more music is working though.

Nothing deep here, just winding out my day.  This post should be called, "No Nude Monday.  Here are some recent photos from Nelson, Nevada.  Thanks to Terrell for introducing this place to me.

West of the Colorado River near Nelson, NV - 010713

I can do the occasional landscape if needed.  My thanks to nature for beautiful clouds and earth.