The Way Forward

Oh. Hello.

Last year I experimented with starting a podcast. It didn’t go so well. I found it awkward to talk without an audience to listen, and couldn’t get straight in my head who my audience was anyway. The actual process was frustrating because I kept stumbling over words and having to re-record and deal with technical complications.

I have been, and always will be, a word-monger. Writing is my “first, best destiny” to quote the great Mr. Spock. Therefore, I am reviving my blog. I have so many things I wish to say, and desire to add my voice in a constructive and positive way (I hope) to the global conversation. What I had intended for the podcast will be written up here.

It may be, after some time, I will attempt the podcast again. I am still intrigued by the platform. What I may do at that point is use my blog posts as a script for an audio-blog. Vlogs exists, why not a public personal log? I imagine myself as Lando Calrissian (though nowhere near as handsomely as Donald Glover) with my feet up on the dash of the Millennium Falcon speaking into a holo-recorder. I now suddenly want an office that is a recreation of the Falcon cockpit. Dreams!

Anyway, this is my re-launch of a regular posting schedule (TBD). Update your feeds and subscriptions, or simply watch this space. I have much to say, and can’t wait to say it. By the way, I don’t want to merely monologue. Let this be a dialogue, a discussion. I have a gmail that you can send any and all thoughts to. With your permission, I may respond in a future post. I do have a social media presence, but I don’t use anything but Instagram regularly and that is only for my photography and fun. For the moment social media is much more of a depressor than a stimulator. In the before times, it was a way to meet and collaborate and to be inspired, but not so much anymore, sadly.

Now, I send this little announcement out into cyberspace and trust to follow this humble beacon with a fleet of explorative thoughts. Thanks for listening.

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a dusty road, indeed

The door creaks open, and the light behind me breaks into broken shafts illuminating the darkness ahead. Swirls of this and bits of that dance in to and out of those bright beams. A thick layer of dust lays upon the floor, undisturbed and thick, like the blankets of cosmic clutter that litter the moon.

The room? This blog. Unkempt, silent, waiting. Quietness now shattered by paragraph and thought. Life, depression, business and busyness – all, inch by inch, closed this door and locked it tight.

Wetness coalesces in my eye’s corner until critical mass ensures a well that breaks the dam releasing an ocean in a tear, crawling down freckle and into beard.

I miss this room, this blog. A space of my own, to write and reflect, and send little nascent parts of myself whirling across the hyperspace of cyberspace. I miss these little bits of me, scattered behind doors my psyche has locked and left bolted around me. Some, I’ll never access again, their treasures hidden for an eternity in my mind, never to be discovered by another. Intense Sadness sits there, her hand caressing each door in turn. A tactile love you are not forgotten she whispers. She looks at me with my eyes, and I turn from my stare, unable to bear the fact that some part of me locked these doors and threw away each key, leaving me to comfort my own fadingness with just a soft touch upon rough wood and flaking paint.

A repeated refrain echoes in this room, as I look over posts from ago, sitting now piled in corners like old cardboard boxes, their sharpie labels faded: “I stare down the barrel of my own mortality….” It’s my voice, a line I wrote once upon another age, perhaps in misery or mired in depression’s mysts. I believe it still. I stand now on the cusp of 32, wishing it were 22 again, feeling old without right, used without purpose, and so terribly tired. Weary. Worn. Done. Not from age, but from life. A life I never wanted, still do not understand, and yet that stretches out before me. I have decades yet to see, but not the passion to walk the road that binds them.

All I want to do now is reforge keys and throw open each locked barrier and spill my creativity in a loud, glittery, cacophony of me. I fear I never will. Even were I to be able to live an eternity, I don’t know this soul could endure it. I don’t know this soul will endure another night, interminably alone, let alone a year or more. Arms to hold me tight, lips to whisper love and plant love, and eyes to look into my wounded heart and pour healing…those would get me through, spark me into a burning ember that might outlast the fusing sun. Without? I am the moon. Dusty. Cold. Forgotten, without light of its own.

I hope this blog, this room, remains open to me. All the old familiar places… I’m leaving sooner than I want to, but these little sylabs I’ve strewn across the dust are all I have, right now. They sit, impossibly shiny, in the weathered ageness, hoping they, too, will not become relics to comfort spiders who sit in webs and grow old from hunger.

I step away, a fading footfall down a desaturated hallway, where at the end, a door remains a crevice into a further universe of possibility.

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60 Brick by Brick: Portrait 2.0

I didn’t have any idea about this week’s #60BrickbyBrick until I was bumming around Target a few days ago and found an old LEGO polybag containing a minifigure I hadn’t previously been able to acquire. Then, with my new street baseplates, I saw a picture in my head. My mood lately has been a little dark and solemn, so I wanted to capture that as well. What follows I call “Melancholia“.

Melancholia - 1

The figure I acquired is the one you see. He comes with a “hoody” piece, which is new for LEGO and currently only exists on two figures, this one, and another very similar to it. Hopefully we will see more with different colors and hair styles. But for now, it works. Anyway, it took me a while to figure out how to do a background until I noticed that the streets themselves could be my background, albeit, shot with a high enough angle. From there it was just a matter of lighting and focus and voilà! In the editing bay I stripped away all color and lightened up the figure’s face and the street sign a bit as they turned about a little too dark. In all, a very simple picture, but one that was actually a little difficult to get right.

I did a second version, which was just a little clever editing with a transparent gif to simulate rain in case the first version wasn’t sad and goth enough. So I give you “Melancholia with Rain“…

Melancholia - 2

Bad rain effects aside, which do you prefer? If I had the set up, i.e., a real workspace in which I could do anything, I would do actual water for rain, but that remains outside my purview at the moment. Anyway, I like this as it turned out.

With that, another week of #60BrickByBrick is finished! (To read what I’m on about and to see previous pictures, look under the “LEGO” heading at the top of the page.)

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Here is a brief list of what I would like for my birthday, should you feel compelled to gift me something on the occasion of my thirty-first.
These first three are a little expensive, and so might make good group gifts if you know people who know me. To whit:
LEGO Ship in a Bottle ($70) (I actually want two of these…one for display and one for parts).
iTunes Gift Card for movies I want to add to my collection
Cinemark/AMC gift card for movies I want to see in the once and future theater
LEGO gift card for smaller sets I would like to add to my collection
Cash-y Money for various wants that I can’t currently afford.
(No Amazon gift cards please. I don’t have a Prime account and would prefer to shop locally.)
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60 Brick by Brick: Portrait 1.0 (and 1.5)

If you’ve been following along my blog, then you know I am working on a #60BrickbyBrick challenge, wherein I build a new something each month from one of the 60th anniversary sets by LEGO, and in the off weeks, continue my LEGO Portraits. Well, last week I did so and you can see that build in my last post. This week was a portrait week.

I first had the idea for this week’s shoot in the beginning of this week, but didn’t have time, predictably, until today to execute my idea in between loads of laundry. Ah. Such is the adult fan of LEGO’s life. A little adult obligation and a little LEGO fun. Anyhow, there was actually a seed part for this photo, which I will get to in a second, but it was also a chance to photograph a bit of my new CITY street baseplate and do a micro build. First I’ll show you the resulting photograph, then break it down a bit.

60BrickByBrick1 - 2

So this is what I ended up with. I call it “Early Morning Trash Run” and I just love it. A lot of LEGO builders will begin with a single part, usually called a seed part, and build around that, sometimes to force creativity and sometimes just to have fun. In this case, my seed part was the dark colored trash bag you see in the foreground in front of the recycling trash can. For whatever reason that part popped in my head and I decided to use it. Now, that part has been used variously as a Santa’s Sack or a trash bag or just a loot bag for a traveler, but in this case is acting as a trash bag. I then, more or less, imagined the complete scene you see above. All that was left was a matter of building.

The new CITY baseplate is what you see in grey in the bottom of the picture, the extreme foreground, and what all this is built on a little corner of. I will show a behind-the-scenes pic in a minute and you will see what I mean. Beyond that, the fire hydrant was a micro build that needed to be there to give some contrasting color and something more interesting in the photo, and dog about to pee on it is just classic and funny. Add a wine bottle in the recycling trash can and a sleepy person bringing his trash bag and all you need is a wall behind for a background.

There’s the rub: I only had so many “brick” bricks available to me because most were being used in another build I haven’t photographed yet. So I had to build, literally, as much wall as I could and position it just so. SNAP! and a little editing and there you go, a nice little portrait that tells a quick little story.

Here is the behind-the-scenes look.


In this photo you can see that the wall is not very big and all of this is on a very small corner of the baseplate. But that is the magic of photography: you don’t actually need very much in fact to tell a fun story. A creative angle of photography and, as I said, a little editing, and presto! you’ve got what you need. I don’t yet have an idea for next week’s photo, but that is the excitement for me…getting an idea and then executing it.

Anyway, I do have another pic that I took, this just as a practice for a LEGO set I built. I have been wanting a Star Wars Imperial backdrop for a while, featuring the iconic white and grey walls that are all over the Death Star and Star Destroyer hallways. So I found a set that had been released for San Diego Comic Con a few years ago that featured said walls, and then built my own from the instructions. The resulting piece of corridor is delightful, but I had to see if it actually worked in camera. I am pleased to say that it seems to. We will see in the future if it needs to be tweaked for future pics or if it works as is. But enough talk. I give you “Imperial Conversations”.

60BrickByBrick1 - 1

In the foreground a pair of Imperial Officers talk, while in the background a pair of Stormtroopers stand sentry. Why? I don’t know. Anyway, behind them is my Imperial wall, completely brick built. As I said, I am happy with this little build and it yielded a bonus pic for this week, so win-win as far as I am concerned.

I hope you enjoyed my pics and and a look at how they were created. Come back next week for more #60BrickbyBrick!

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60 Brick by Brick: Build 0.1

I posted earlier today about LEGO, and without rehashing, this is my first LEGO build of my #60BrickbyBrick challenge. To read what I’m on about, hit the LEGO link at the top of the page and find the article “Brick  by Brick: 60 Years in the Building”.

IMG_2851So here is the LEGO set I started with, the second smallest of the new 60th Anniversary LEGO sets available, with only 186 pieces. The challenge is to build something with only those pieces available. This turned out to be quite a challenge! The set actually came with an instruction booklet, which would have allowed me to build the car, robot, and parrot shown on the box, but I didn’t want to go the curated route. I wanted to build something unique and fun, like I used to do before all the pieces in the world were available to me. So I did.

Earlier today I received another fun order of swag, and with it something that got me in mind of the post-apocalyptic. You can see the box is already asking about the future, so I went with that theme for this build. IMG_2852

With these pieces, I began. First, a minifigure emerged, part of the reason I bought this set and not the smallest of them, this one came with a person.


This person begins androgynous, with a choice of either “girl” or “boy” hair. I opted for the helmet, because the air is probably a little toxic in the post-apocalyptic environment this person inhabits, but the boy look because I am a dude. So…what to build, little man?


I decided on a vehicle, after first deciding that I didn’t have the requisite pieces needed for a shelter of some kind. So I tinkered and built and rejected this piece for that. IMG_2860Eventually I decided to go as eye-searingly colorful as possible because I wanted to hearken back to a time when I couldn’t color coordinate an all-black or grey vehicle with artistic color touches. Also, all I have is ALL THE COLORS so that works. Any vehicle needs wheels, so I got a few. Interestingly, the largest tire manufacturer in the world is LEGO, not any of the brands meant for larger, human-size wheels. I find this hilarious. Anyway, I continued to build. Halfway through (and forgive my lack of iterative pictures, I always get caught up in the build and forget to take interim pictures) I decided my post-apocalyptic man needed a robot companion, so I built a simple, if sad looking, robot.


At last, the vehicle, too, was finished.


With seat for my little pilot and room behind for his robot companion. It’s difficult to see, because, again, I didn’t document well, but my robot wouldn’t actually fit without some modification to the vehicle, so I had to remove the seat. However, the rest of the vehicle is as appears here. So what next??


Only time will tell. I seriously had fun, like I was 9 again, building with LEGO on my bedroom floor, only this time I was at a table like a sensible adult because my knees won’t do floors anymore.

I hope you enjoyed the February #60BrickByBrick. Come back for more in March!


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Brick by Brick: 60 Years in the Building

red-brick--201606--gl--footerThis year is the 60th anniversary of the LEGO brick. As any of you know who know me, I love LEGO. I find it interesting that I have been around for half the life of the LEGO brick given how much joy and entertainment LEGO has brought to me, personally. My love of LEGO really took off when it bought the license from Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars LEGO, though I had been building X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon long before. Suddenly my two favorite things coincided and I was in geek heaven.

For nearly 31 years I have built, photographed, bought and sold, and enjoyed LEGO in many different ways. This year, for their anniversary, LEGO has produced several new sets, each with a different theme, to return to their roots of unlimited imagination and creative building. Sure, constructing an X-Wing according to the directions is fun, and you end up with a cool (dis)play model, but sometimes just staring at a pile of bricks and putting two and more together until you create something unexpected is even more fun.

To that end, and to foster a new era of LEGO building and photography for myself, I bought one of the smaller 60th anniversary sets. To commemorate LEGO, and challenge myself to be creative throughout the month(s), I want to use the set to construct a random creation and photograph it. Given the 60th anniversary, I want to create 6 unique builds from this one set, one build per month for each decade of LEGO, debuting at the end of the month. For the other three weeks of the next six months, I want to continue to photograph my minifigures in unique ways. When I finish, I should have built and documented six builds and eighteen minifigures.

This sounds like fun! And, I will start building today! Follow my instagram @philredbeard to see iterations of my builds, but for each final model and minifigure photo, I will post them here on my blog.

Perhaps join me on the journey, #60brickbybrick and if you do, contact me on social media and let me see your creations!


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