Saturday, February 28, 2009

See? I do like a bit of M/f once in awhile

Really, Secretary should not be at all up my alley. It's about sado-masochism, which I absolutely do not get into; and the "sado" half of the pairing is male, while the "maso" half is female, which could make for an extremely chauvinist picture. And yet....

Well, for starters, the two main characters are played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. If you're at all a fan of quirky-great acting, that should grab your attention right there. Then there's the fact that the movie is played at least partly for laughs. Add in an excellent script that actually turns the female sub's story into a journey of empowerment, and you get a great big ding-ding winner for me.

Lee Holloway (I had forgotten that was her name until I started this entry, and now I'm realizing that I must have subconsciously had her in mind while writing A Tenpack of Trixies) begins the movie as a very depressed and damaged person; in fact, she's a cutter. The only way she can find any release from her psychic pain is to literally bleed (or sometimes burn) it out of herself. Then she takes a job with Mr. Grey, a lawyer who has just the opposite problem. The only way he can find any release is by venting his rage and pain on someone else - which leads to his losing a lot of good secretaries and experiencing incredible guilt about his actions. So Lee and Mr. Grey are a match made in BDSM heaven.

Or not quite. Lee quickly discovers that Mr. Grey is the perfect safety valve for her; when she allows him to tie her up and/or spank her, she totally loses the need to inflict pain on herself, and in fact experiences a bliss beyond anything she's ever known before. Mr. Grey, on the other hand, can't get past his guilt, which eventually forces Lee to take matters into her own hands...a bit like a couple of heroine subs in my stories, now that I think about it.

Anyone who knows anything about the various forms of bondage play (MC included) knows that, appearances to the contrary, it's really the sub who is in control. This movie proves that - to Lee as much as to the viewers. That "Assume the position" tag line in the poster above could apply as much to Mr. Grey as to Lee, as she almost forces him to accept his nature the way she accepts her own. Of course the fact that Mr. Grey is ethical enough to have to be forced, and to only want to inflict pain and bondage on a willing partner is a big part of what makes this story appealing. If he were just an arrogant ass, I'd want to see him taken down; but Spader makes him as much a victim of his neuroses as Lee is. They each become the savior for the other, and that's a beautiful thing.

A little something to keep you busy while I write my next entry

It's been a very busy week, folks. I'm still recovering. But I do have one (or possibly two) blog entries in mind for the weekend; I just have to sit down and write them. In the meantime, though, I just found this tasty little treat on Asudem Latex's Doll's Realm and had to share. The actual title, which you only see in full once you start the video, is "Cocoon Trance Meditation." And yes, it does give off a very strong, very lovely mind control vibe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I'm working gobs and gobs of overtime this week, so unfortunately I don't have the time or mental capacity to come up with a really thoughtful post right now. Therefore, I've decided instead to give you a couple more screen grabs of my recent site stats. People do seem to like them. ;-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Once I get started, I just can't stop

There are plenty of things I really ought to be doing with my Sunday other than googling for more Beksinski artwork, but I just can't seem to help myself. The more I see, the more I want to see. So here you go: seven more images from several other sites I've found. Some are just random pictures I picked up from various blogs, and others come from galleries of Beksinski's work. In many cases I've found larger, more detailed versions of the pics I posted yesterday and others from his official website that I didn't post. These new versions are usually darker and duller than the "official" ones, but that can easily be fixed with any decent picture editing program - as I've done with some of the ones you see here.

Below are links to some decent-sized Beksinski galleries; I'm not bothering with the links to pages where I only found one or two pics.
once again, the official website

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Art Appreciation 103: Lovecraftian Linkage

You know how one link leads to another on the Internet. Well, last week at some point, I found myself directed toward the sites of the two artists below by another artist who thought their work was nicely Lovecraftian. I definitely agree. :-) In fact, I've spent the last few days collecting picture after picture from these two sites and have had a very hard time selecting just a handful of each to share with you.

Up first is Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński, who is clearly channeling both Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith in at least half of the many paintings in his three galleries.

The site is in English but makes extensive use of Flash, so the biggest challenge for me was in figuring out how to copy the pictures; I couldn't just right-click and hit "save." Making matters worse was the fact that the pop-up window that appears when you click on a thumbnail is itself pretty small and doesn't easily resize; yet the pictures it displays should clearly be larger, as you can see by using "zoom in" function.

Fortunately, I was able to uncover the URL for the pop-up window by hitting the "tab" button. Then I copied that link into a new, full-sized tab and got a much larger, nicer image. A bit of fiddling with the screen resolution helped me determine that the best size to make the picture displayer is 1024 x 768 pixels. That's the resolution the site is designed for, and that's the size the pictures themselves look best in. Any larger, and they start to get blurry.

So anyway, for those of you that want to see or save more of Beksinkski's artwork, I suggest opening his site in one tab or window and navigating to the galleries, then clicking here to open a full-sized version of the picture displayer in a new tab or window. You'll see that right now I have the displayer set to the first image in the first gallery. To change images, you can either click the arrows to browse all the pictures in the first gallery one at a time; or if you want to jump to an individual image, go back to the tab/window displaying the whole gallery and click on the thumbnail to bring up a small pop-up window. Then hit the "tab" button to show you the URL for that image, and replace the number at the end of the URL in the picture displayer tab/window with the number of the new pic you want to view. Voila: a new full-sized image.

Trust me, it's a lot less complicated than it sounds. And it's soooo worth it. All those squicky pods and fungi, things made out of bones, darkly mysterious fantasy worlds....Just fantastic.

Today's second featured artist is Jean-Pierre Ugarte, who has figured out how to translate Lovecraft's favorite word, cyclopean, into realistic imagery. His paintings give me the feeling of visiting earth in either the unimaginably distant past or the unimaginably distant future, where giants used the landscape itself as their building blocks, then abandoned their work to slowly crumble back to what it was. Ceilings of mind-staggering height and weight loom over tropical forests, or vast caverns of eerily regular features hint at unknowable depths that were known by someone...once. But what happened to that someone, eh? What happened everyone? I find it all fascinatingly creepy.

Ugarte's site is in French, but don't worry if you can't read the language. On the splash page, click "Oeuvres" to go to his galleries, then either click on a date at the left to see all his works from that year or else select "Peintures" to see only his paintings - which, IMO, are the best things on the site anyway.

Oh, and also IMO, nothing earlier than 1998 is much worth looking at. He really hit his stride in the 00's, and 2006 and 2007 were especially good for him.

EDIT: I've just discovered that Beksiński has a (very sad) Wikipedia entry with several links to more information, including another large gallery that contains images twice as disturbing as the ones on the official site. Some of them reduced me to blunt cursing because there was just no other way to respond.

I can't find any more information about Ugarte.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are they or aren't they?

SPOILER WARNING: This post is about three movies, two from the nineties and one from 2001, but two of the three contain huge surprises that you might or might not have heard about. So if you haven't seen Heavenly Creatures, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and The Crying Game, and if you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Otherwise, on we go.

Still with me? Well then, you've probably already figured out what these three movies have in common even if you haven't seen them all for yourselves. The marketing campaign for Heavenly Creatures was quite open about its homosexual content; but the other two movies were much more coy. Much. In fact, the famously well-kept "secret" of The Crying Game was only spoiled for me when Jaye Davidson was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. I don't think Y Tu Mama Tambien's secret was spoiled for me at all, but it was pretty clear to me from the get-go where the story was heading. I suppose it is for most watchers. The delight is in reaching that destination, and the tragedy in the results.

Honestly, I could write a whole blog entry on Y Tu Mama Tambien alone; but I'm grouping it with these other two movies to explore a sub-issue common to all three: are these characters really gay and in denial (Dil excepted, of course), or is the truth something more complicated?

I first saw The Crying Game and Heavenly Creatures before I knew I was gay, and Y Tu Mama Tambien not too long after finding out. Throughout that whole time span, I was very aware of gay issues and the ability of some homosexuals to be completely in denial (hilarious, eh?). So watching these movies for the first time, I quite naturally assumed that Pauline and Juliet, Tenoch and Julio, and Fergus were all gay (or at least more gay than straight); but their cultural mindsets prevented them from recognizing it until same-sex love smacked them upside the head.

Now, having watched each of these movies again within the last year, I see them a little differently. One reason for the change is that now I know about the Kinsey Scale and the fact that sexuality is a spectrum, with very few people being 100% straight or 100% gay. But a bigger reason is that now I know a lot more about human nature and human relationships: how easily friendship-love can express itself as romantic love under certain circumstances but still be primarily friendship-love the next morning.

For Pauline and Juliet, those circumstances were a combination of extreme unhappiness, a dysfunctional home life (in Juliet's case), the camaraderie of outsiders, and an especially vivid shared fantasy world. Or at least, that's how Peter Jackson presented it in the movie. If you're familiar with the story, you probably know that it was based on real events, and today the women in question deny that anything sexual ever happened between them. Now, that, I'm thinking, might be denial. ;-) But who knows? Anyway, I believe it would be safe to say that Pauline and Juliet had at least some bisexual tendencies - in the movie - and might or might not have been lesbians. But their relationship was an unhealthy, obsessive one; and any sexual activity that resulted from it was just a piece of the larger puzzle.

As for Tenoch and Julio, I think their hookup was a case of friendship-love expressing itself in a new way under the influence of alcohol and a powerfully sexual older woman. The whole movie, when you think about it, is about how immature these guys are, how oblivious to the complexities of the world around them. They coast through most of the movie safe behind the windows their car, and when out of it usually employ another screen of drugs and/or alcohol. But Luisa, who doesn't have any more time to waste on screens, entices them to peek at the real world with her. Unfortunately, what they see scares them shitless, and in the end it kills their friendship. This is especially ironic because they do have a gay friend whom they consider one of their "charolastras." They accept him as homosexual, but they can't accept that they might be less than 100% heterosexual. Still, IMO, this isn't a "gay movie." Tenoch and Julio are oblivious to everything, not just the complexities of sexuality. It's life in general that they never learn to face, and that's what the movie is really about. But that doesn't make me like it any less. Besides, holy crap: that kiss!

Fergus, now, he's a tougher nut to crack. He falls in love with Dil when he thinks Dil is a woman; and though he continues to have strong feelings for him/her afterwards, those feelings never translate into sex. It would be very, very interesting to see what direction their relationship took once Fergus was released from prison; but alas, Neil Jordan deliberately left that question unanswered. I'd like to think Fergus was eventually able to enjoy sex with Dil; but from my own personal experience, I know that it's pretty darn hard to get past your natural orientation, even if you do feel deep affection for your partner (Then again, as my transgendered friends can attest, love begun with a person of one gender can continue when that person changes genders). Anyway, I'll just imagine that Fergus is bisexual enough to keep loving Dil in a romantic way and to appreciate the pleasures Dil has to offer in bed. To hell with Jordan's musings about the mysteries of the human heart! Those two deserve a happy ending, so I'm going to give them one. In my head. ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just a quickie

I haven't been blogging much lately because I've just been so damn busy - both with work, and with working on the Mysterious Collaboration. In fact, I just wrote a new segment for that this morning and sent it off to my co-conspirators a little while ago. I hope they enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. ;-P

Anyway, to all the fine authors who've been posting stuff on the EMCSA these last few weeks, to whom I haven't sent any fan mail: nothing personal, folks. I've just been too busy to read. But I hope you'll accept the image at left as a little token of my appreciation. Roperookie's been busy on Deviant Art. ;-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Once again, Watchmen saves the day

Once again, I've been saved from wracking my poor, tired brain for a Saturday blog topic by the arrival of fresh Watchmen goodness. Look! Karnak! Dr. Manhattan on the moon! Rorschach in prison getting ready to whup some ass!* Matthew Goode looking, for the very first time, as if he just might possibly be able to convey the depth of Veidt's character (though I still can't help wishing Jude Law had taken the part). And the best part of this link is that even the dial-uppers can enjoy it; it's just pictures. Lots and lots of yummy pictures. :-)

But if you do have high-speed access, you'll also want to check out the new Black Freighter teaser trailer. Ooh, and look who they've got doing the narrator's voice! :-D

*Guess they're not making much of a secret of Rorschach's identity in the movie after all, judging by all the pictures I'm seeing lately of the character unmasked.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Too cool and funny (not to mention totally on-topic) not to share

A few days ago a friend on another forum shared this video with the group, with little explanation of what it contained. Well, I watched about a minute of it before deciding it was cute but too bland for my taste and hitting the "back" button. Then people started commenting on it, telling me that I, in particular, would love it if I just watched it through to the end.

So I did - and I did. Damn, that's an awesome song! Yes, it starts out cute, but give it a minute...okay, a little longer than a minute. Then be prepared to "muaaahaha."

I'll say no more, but the tags below might give you a hint of what you're in for. ;-)

P.S. for those on dial-up: Okay, just because I'm such a nice person and don't want anyone to feel deprived, here's a shortcut to the lyrics. But if you aren't on dial-up, you owe it to yourself to experience the video first.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The right time at last, I think

I've mentioned Neil Gaiman a few times before in this blog and listed his Sandman series among my favorite books. Well, a recent NPR article about Absolute Sandman, vol. 4, has just provided me with the perfect opportunity to rave to you about how spectacularly, mind-blowingly, brilliant this series is.

No, I'm not linking you to the actual NPR article; it contains some pretty huge spoilers. But the article, in turn, links to a graphic excerpt from vol. 4 which offers some more-important-than-they-appear glimpses of Sandman's world and two of its central characters: Morpheus, the King of Dreams; and his younger sister Delirium, who used to be Delight until the weight of the world crashed in on her...or something like that. It's never made clear, and doesn't need to be. Anyway, the gist of the Sandman series is this: alongside all the better-known gods and demigods and other supernatural beings that populate human (and inhuman) mythology are seven anthropomorphic personifications of eternal concepts: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Destruction, and Delirium.

Dream is our hero...or at least our protagonist. Sometimes he behaves in distinctly unheroic ways. The story begins with his capture by some occultists who were aiming for Death but missed, resulting in seventy-odd years of imprisonment for the Lord of Dreams: both the blink of an eye for an eternal being (and for us readers) and an event which profoundly affects both him and the universe over which he presides.

The 75-issue series was first compiled into ten books, each of which is a story in itself, and all of which tie together into an epic of extraordinary depth and weight. There is also a new four-volume Absolute Sandman, as noted above. I believe the only difference there is that the artwork has been sharpened and a few minor errors corrected, but since I haven't seen that version for myself and own the ten-book set, I'll talk about that instead.

The first book is a tad uneven. Gaiman obviously knew where he was going from the start, but he was also still finding his footing, and not all that footing was equally secure. Thus we have some references to and cameos from other DC mainstays like Batman and John Constantine, which are cool in their own way but end up being more of a distraction than a help. Fortunately, things start to gel at the book's halfway-point with an MC tale that is absolutely horrifying and in no way erotic (well, maybe not unless you're Clive Barker); and then the story really takes flight in the book's final chapter, which introduces us to Dream's older sister Death.

Mmm, how to describe Death? She's wise, compassionate, cute, sexy...everything you'd want in an escort into the afterlife, all wrapped up in an adorable little goth-but-not-too-goth anthropomorphic package. And she's quite deservedly become a cult icon all by herself. She's even inspired two spin-off books, one of which people keep threatening to turn into a movie (Death: The High Cost of Living); but I hope that never happens because I don't see how anyone - writer, director, or actress - could do her justice.

But we were talking about Dream, weren't we? Sorry, I got sidetracked. Death does that to me. ;-) Well, Morpheus is the Lord of Stories as well as Dreams, so he interacts with and inspires all kinds of interesting people, not least of whom are the fairy queen Titania and good old Will Shakespeare. Then, of course, there are Dream's siblings (some nice, some not so nice) and his son Orpheus...but now I'm getting close to spoiler territory. Fortunately, the overarching storyline is too big and powerful to summarize easily, even if I wanted to. And I don't. I'd much rather you enjoy the surprises as they come along - and enjoy the artwork. Both become more gorgeous - and more heartbreaking - as the series goes along.

So, since I can't share much more of the plot without spoiling any cool surprises, I'll share some art instead...some art with some tantalizing hints of plot. ;-) Enjoy.

Oh, and by the way, if you have already read Sandman, you might enjoy this excellent set of online annotations.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


That Push movie (the big-budget, ESP-themed Push; not the beloved-of-Sundance, pregnant-teen-themed Push) I recommended a few posts ago is getting truly wretched reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes, and even the tits-gore-and-explosions geeks over at Ain't It Cool are giving it a thumbs-down. Guess that means I'd better stay away, eh? Dammit. It seemed to have so much potential - and such an interesting cast.

But I still stand by my remarks about Chris Evans, despite what the reviewers are saying about his work in Push. Don't believe me? Check out Sunshine or...or....dammit, I'm stumped to find another half-decent Chris Evans movie. And come to think of it, he only had a supporting role in Sunshine.

Okay, reviewers, you win. On this one.

a really lovely tattoo

A week of working more than 50 hours has left me with little time for web surfing and little energy for coming up with a really deep and meaningful Saturday blog post. So instead I'll just share this image of one of the most beautiful tattoos I've ever seen. The body in question belongs to Isis Dreamz, who has a nice little gallery on Model Mayhem and who, incidentally, brags in her profile about being married to a woman. ;-)

I don't like tattoos for the sake of tattoos; but when they're real art, like this one (or the ones on Kumi Monster and Aradia Ardor's backs), I really love them.

I've toyed, from time to time, with getting a tattoo myself; but I wouldn't want something on my back where I couldn't see it. My personal ideal would be a bit of intricate Celtic knotwork, green, on either an inner wrist or ankle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Helpful hints

Too busy to talk much right now (work, study, collaboration - you know the drill), but here are a few random helpful hints about viewing and saving interesting pictures:

1. Sometimes Christine Kessler tempts you on her blog by showing you a smaller-sized version (not, apparently, clickable) of one pic that's part of a set from her pay site. However, if you right-click and choose "view image," you can sometimes see a much larger version of that picture.

2. Sites that use Shockwave/Flash to display pictures can make it harder to save them, but I've found three ways around this problem, most obvious (and sometimes least effective) first:
a) Hit the "print screen" button, then paste into a program that lets you edit photos. This doesn't always work well because the picture might be resized for display, causing you to lose resolution; or it might be too large to fit your screen.
b) Hit the "tab" button. Sometimes the status bar will display the URL of the original picture, which you can copy into a new window for viewing and saving.
c) Wade through the code in the document source to find the original URL of the image.

3. High Gloss Dolls adjusts the size of its images according to your screen resolution. If you want to save a larger version of a pic than what you see onscreen, temporarily change your resolution to something larger and/or right click and zoom in.

4. If hiding your stash of kinky photos is an issue for you, I highly recommend TrueCrypt. It's the only freeware program I've found that doesn't put a size limit on your hidden/encrypted folders; and although it's not intuitive enough for you to figure out without reading the directions, once you get the hang of it, it's fast, well-behaved, and doesn't cause any conflicts with other programs.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pleasantly surprised

Judging solely by the comments on the two MC fora and the e-mails I've received, "Spy vs. Guy" doesn't seem to be a huge success, though those who have responded have almost uniformly noted that, while m/m isn't their usual thing, they were pleasantly surprised by how much they liked the story and credited their enjoyment to the MC heat.

Stat Counter, however, tells a different story. Look how far my page views jumped yesterday, after the final chapter of SvG went online.* And then look at the most popular pages on my blog. Number two, with 166 entries in last few weeks (remembering that Stat Counter only tracks the last 500 visits), is the catch-all link for all "Peeks Beneath the Duct Tape" that I've been pasting at the bottom of each new story I submit to the EMCSA. And when I delve down a little further (no graphics for the delving, in order to preserve my visitors' privacy), I see that almost every one of those recent 166 visits linked in from SvG, Chapter 3. So apparently, the story is bringing me a lot of new visitors who prefer to lurk rather than to talk.

Well, welcome to all of you. :-) Make yourselves at home, stop by whenever you like, and drop me a line any time. Cheers!

*Note that this "picture" was taken early this morning, so the final page view count for today could be very high, as well. *fingers crossed*

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Spy vs. Guy

Hmm, where to start? Should I begin by reminding you that my model for Guy in Spy vs. Guy is the same fellow I used for Finvarra in Ethna Redux, fetish model Perish (Click the pic for a link to his Model Mayhem gallery)? Or should I begin by telling you that I haven't had this much sheer fun writing an EMC story since Solitaire? Gay men are always a blast to hang out with.

How about detailing all the trouble I went to, trying to find the right sort of EMC fetishists to proof me on my m/m sex scenes, before finally turning to two long-time friends from entirely outside the EMC community? I've done my best to reward the two of them, both with thank-you's in the credits and by addressing their various requests/concerns in the bulk of the story. The slash fan asked if I could let her favorite couple in on the fun, which I did (disguised, of course); and Jordan's "boner" gave my usually-blasé orc pal a literal case of the willies, so I added a "P.S." at the bottom of Chapter One to reassure my male readers that no, it really didn't hurt at all. Certainly not like this would, anyway. ;-P

Speaking of Jordan, I'm sure any of you who've seen The Crying Game know exactly where I got the idea for his big reveal. Oh, and if you happen to like Jaye Davidson (as I certainly do!), you might enjoy this lovely pic.

But there's so much more to this story, so many little geeky references and in-jokes that you might or might not get. The Monty Python and Star Wars shout-outs are pretty obvious, but I wonder how many of you will catch the nod to Stephen King or to the Village People's second-best-known song, much less the "I see your schwartz is as big as mine" moment. ;-) Then again, I suppose many of you are young enough (or Mad-illiterate enough) to miss the significance of the title itself. :-/

I've already discussed the origins of this story in an older post, so I won't repeat myself here. I'll just note the add-on's that occurred to me as I was writing, like the symbolic possibilities of the Samson and Hercules stories (Each of those scenes is "real," though obviously twisted to suit my purposes), and the Freudian connotations of various weapons - which I also played with in "Ethna Redux," as I do hope some of you noticed.

I also toyed with including Jacob's sexy tussle with that angel - it's always seemed to me that the angel let him win, as proven by how easily it disabled him in the end with just a touch - but I ditched that idea before writing a word of it; it was just too much for the story to take. I did, however, sneak in another crypto-homo-biblical reference split into halves, just to make it a little tricker to spot...though I do hope some of you will spot it. I like to add the occasional Easter egg to my stories; unfortunately, sometimes they're so subtle that no one catches them at all (as in Queen Bee Becomes a Drone - I'm really going to have to go back and spell that one out one of these days. In the meantime, please, someone let me know you figured out Morgaine's real identity!).

The design of Wylde's retreat was one of those happy cases where my subconscious did a lot of the work for me, and my conscious only twigged to what was going on toward the end. For those of you unfamiliar with the symbolism of houses (especially in dreams), they signify the totality of a person's soul or self or whatever you want to call it. I didn't realize at first just how appropriate it was that the upper levels of Guy's home are all bright and shiny; while below ground, it's pretty damn freaky. You can thank H.R. Giger for that - and yes, Wylde's sort-of throne in the third chapter is a Harkonnen Chair.

Now, about that ending. Yes, that's two open-ended conclusions in a row for me - though judging by the responses to "Ethna Redux," I'm not sure how open-ended some of you realized that one really was. Both of these stories feature The Lady or the Tiger scenarios, which should be familiar to anyone who grew up in the American school system, at least. I have no idea about the curriculum of other countries.

Then again, maybe "Spy vs. Guy" isn't quite as open-ended as it looks from outside my head. Jacob and the Angel weren't all that got left on the cutting room floor; I had also designed a seal for Wylde, LLC, which would have been a stylized lion's head with the motto split in half above and below the image: "Flexible Ethics - For the Greater Good." Besides, Guy's merry band of brainwashers just ended up being too nice to be true bad guys. Not that I didn't try to make them a bit more sinister in the final scene, but...well, you know. ;-)