Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: October, 2018

A Peculiar School, by J. Schlenker – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

A Peculiar School, by J. Schlenker.
Olive Hill. KY, Binka Publishing, September 2018, trade paperback, $11.95 (326 [+ 2] pages). Kindle $4.99.

“Miss Ethel Peacock strutted and proudly displayed her plumage as she paced around the waiting room of Mr. Densworth Lion. She had come unannounced, but she was so excited about the idea she had received in a dream, that she dared not lose any momentum. She could have called ahead, but what if he refused to see her? No, she decided not to risk it.” (p. 3)

This is an animal fantasy, but not a furry one. The peacock plumage is on the male, but hey, this is a fantasy. Besides, Jerri Schlenker knows that.

“‘A peacock? A peacock, you say? What is a peacock doing here?’ Mr. Densworth Lion asked his secretary, in disbelief.

‘Technically, she’s a peahen. Her husband is a peacock. That is, if she has a husband. I don’t think she does as she introduced herself as ‘Miss’. But together: they would be peafowl,’ his secretary [a lioness] corrected.

Mr. Densworth Lion uttered a slight roar of impatience.

‘She’s a teacher at the aviary,’ his secretary added.” (pgs. 3-4)

This is at Cub Academy, run by principal Mr. Densworth Lion, in a nature preserve. The animals are civilized; Mr. Lion wears eyeglasses and sits at a desk with papers and a candy jar upon it.

But not too civilized. Or, not into the 21st century:

“‘What I propose. Mr. Densworth Lion, is that we use your school as a model – a model for a bigger school, a university of sorts, one that houses all animals.’

‘All animals?” he roared. ‘We teach cubs here – lion cubs. Such a proposal is ludicrous.’” (p. 11)

Mr. Lion will not even listen to Miss Peacock’s proposal for a school in which all animals are treated equally. Well, maybe not the animals domesticated by humans, like dogs and cats. They’re different:

“The dog barked for a good solid hour almost every night. What was he trying to say? Since dogs had taken up with humans, their language had become garbled and unrecognizable. It was obvious the humans didn’t understand them either as every night the human came out on the porch and yelled something to the dog in the scrambled tongue of humans.” (p. 13)

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Civilized Beasts Volume III, Editor-in-Chief Laura Govednik, Editor Vincent Corbeau – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Civilized Beasts volume III, editor-in-chief Laura Govednik, editor Vincent Corbeau.
Manvil, TX, Weasel Press, September 2018, trade paperback, $8.00 ([vii +] 109 pages).

Here is the third annual volume of animal poetry from Weasel Press. It contains 98 pages of poetry, of mostly one page or less. Several authors have two or more poems. There are far fewer familiar furry fan names this year than there was last year; other than the editors, I recognized only Michael H. Payne. There are five poems by Larry D. Thomas, the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate.

Civilized Beasts is popularly advertised as an anthology of furry poetry, but it is almost all about realistic animals or the wonders of nature. Many authors have written poetic portraits of their own dogs, cats, horses, or goldfish. To be fair, it’s hard to write a work of furry fiction of one page.

There are some rhymes and a lot of blank verse. The cleverest poem graphically is the one chosen to end the volume: “Telltale” by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal. It’s in the shape of a wagging tail.

Civilized Beasts volume III (cover again by Darkomi) is another charity for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “All proceeds from this anthology go towards the Wildlife Conservation Society.”

Full disclosure: I have five poems in this.

Fred Patten

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A financial fuss about FurFlight – can it fend off a fandom fiasco?

by Patch O'Furr

Distressing news has come out about a furry-organized travel service, which appears to be in trouble with some big financial obligations at the moment. The fur is flying, and not in a good way.

FurFlight bundles furries together for group air travel from highly-active fandom regions to highly-attended conventions, most notably from Seattle and San Francisco to Midwest FurFest. The idea is to improve the boring parts and the endpoint arrangements. It happened successfully in 2017. (As far as I know, no fellow travelers complained about fur allergy flareups or the plane smelling like a zoo – score for fandom image!)

FurFlight isn’t affiliated with Midwest FurFest. One of the con staffers told me about previously advising people not to buy in because of no accountability for an independent operation. Trusting other fans comes with risks known to anyone who’s been burned by bad art commissions.

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Mechanical Animals: Tales at the Crux of Creatures and Tech, Edited by Selena Chambers and Jason Heller – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Mechanical Animals: Tales at the Crux of Creatures and Tech, edited by Selena Chambers and Jason Heller.
Erie, CO, Hex Publishers, November 2018, trade paperback, $19.99 (417 pages), Kindle $5.99.

This is not a furry book, but an anthology of 22 stories and articles about mechanical animals, including a cyborg. Most of them are about mindless clockwork robots. There are a few that feature self-aware AIs in the form of animals. These are close enough to furries to warrant Mechanical Animals to be reviewed here.

Mike Libby, in his Introduction, talks about being fascinated by mechanical animals from his childhood. “When I was ten I wanted one of those battery-powered motorized dogs you would see outside Radio Shack, that was leashed to its battery-powered remote control, and after a couple of high-pitched barks, would flip backwards, landing perfectly, ready to repeat his mechanical trick.” (p. 9) Jess Nevins, in his 13-page “Mechanical Animals”, summarizes them in literature from Homer in The Iliad to real examples in history (“The German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, aka Regiomontanus (1436-1476), was reliably reported to have constructed a flying mechanical eagle for the Emperor Maximilian in 1470.” – p. 29), to the present.

“Two Bees Dancing” by Tessa Kum is the first story:

“Focus. This pain is old and familiar. It is not important. Focus on what is important.

‘We aren’t going to hurt you.’

It is on the table before you. Small. Antennae relaxed, wings spread, legs locked and unmoving.

‘We need your help.’ (p. 33)

A nameless government drone pilot on permanent disability is kidnapped and forced to fly a reprogrammed bee for criminal purposes. Instead, the reprogramming puts him into mental contact with the HiveAI and into a whole new world.

“Brass Monkey” by Delia Sherman is set in a clockwork late Victorian London. The characters in Jenny Wren’s Doll and Mechanical Emporium are elderly, crippled Mrs. Wren, the shop assistant Miss Edwige, and Mrs. Wren’s adopted daughter Lizzie. “If Mrs. Wren was the heart of the emporium and Miss Edwige its back and legs, then Lizzie was its inventive mind.” (p. 53). When the emporium becomes especially busy at Christmastime, “The door opened and out came Lizzie in her leather apron, her magnifying spectacles pushed into her cloudy hair, and on her shoulder a small capuchin monkey, such as commonly accompany organ-grinders, wearing a little scarlet vest.” (p. 54). The monkey is Annabella, Lizzie’s clockwork invention, made to help sort out the beads and ribbons and coins of the business day. When Annabella proves skilled enough to tell real coins from counterfeits, the three women set out to find the counterfeiter – but it’s Annabella who solves the case.

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The Moons of Barsk, by Lawrence M. Schoen – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Moons of Barsk, by Lawrence M. Schoen.
NYC, A Tom Doherty Associates Book/Tor Books, August 2018, hardcover, $26.99 (430 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $13.99.

This is the sequel to Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, reviewed here in 2016. Barsk has such an unusual and unique plot that you should really read it before The Moons of Barsk. Both have interstellar settings and are set in the far future when humanity is extinct and has been replaced by the descendants of uplifted animals.

You also need to read Barsk first because there is no synopsis here. The opening paragraph is:

“Amidst torrents of rain and blasts of lightning, Ryne stepped from his boat onto the shore of the last island, the place where his life ended. The mental beacon that had guided him across the open water faded away. Clarity replaced certainty, composed of equal parts confusion and anger. Flapping his ears against the downpour he muttered a phrase heard by his students at least once a tenday for the past six decades. ‘The math is all wrong!’” (p. 11)

But Chapter One is titled “Nothing But Lies”. Pizlo, Jorl, and Ryne are Fant, elephant-men of the planet Barsk, looking like a human with an elephant’s head; great flapping ears and a trunk. That’s not why Fant is reviled as abominations throughout the galaxy, though. Of the eighty-seven races (species) of the Galactic Alliance, the Fant are the only ones who are not furred. The Yaks, the Prairie Dogs, the Giant Anteaters, the Hares, the Sloths; all the others have respectable pelts. Only the Fant, divided into Elephs (uplifted Asian elephants) and Lox (African elephants), are disgustingly nude, with wrinkly gray, hairless skin, plus those giant flapping ears and the huge mobile nose.

The Fant are not only known for their hairlessness, though. Barsk is the only planet where the wonder drug koph can be found. Koph enables rare individuals who take it to access the nefshons of the dead and to become Speakers to the dead. “He could see nefshons; the subatomic particles of memory and personality would come at his call. If he summoned enough of them that had belonged to a dead person he could even talk to them.” (p. 22) Barsk is partially about some Fant, and the attempts of some individuals of the other races of the Alliance (notably Nonyx-Captain Selishta, a Cheetah) to get more koph.

Barsk focuses upon a few individual Fant on their planet, and a few members of the Alliance, notably Selista the Cheetah and Lirlowil the Otter, a Speaker, who are especially dependent upon koph. The Moons of Barsk is about Barsk’s relationship with the rest of the Alliance, focusing on why the Alliance wants to destroy Barsk.

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Goku’s Furban Exploration goes to inner city Baltimore and Fort Armistead.

by Patch O'Furr

Here’s a sequel to Fursuit photography from the urban jungle: Goku’s Furban Exploration.

Years ago in the Rust Belt, my friend liked exploring decommissioned grain silos and factories of the area. He took me to climb an eight story brewery that closed in the 1980’s. The entrance was a hole in a fence and the inside was covered in spraycan murals, making an unauthorized art gallery. (Hey furry artists, if you’ve done such work, show me!) The stairs were dismantled for the first few floors. Could we climb up on the conveyer belt that used to scoop grain? No, but there was a fire escape with most of the steps still hanging on. Most. The upper floors had stories-tall fermenting vats and a movie worthy view. It made quite an impression to see the afterlife of a place that wasn’t supposed to have one. The place was gone soon afterwards, with a demolition party where people on the street watched it come down. It was an experience to remember.

Creativity in fursuiting gets boosted when you stage it in exciting locations. And for going bonkers with intense photography, street art and abandoned architecture are a class of their own. That’s why I loved the improbable idea of combining both. I put out a call to see if anyone was doing it, and Goku rose to the occasion. He sent in a new update. I love his work so much I’d love to meet him and help some day – and there will be more stories from him! (- Patch)

This story comes with a gallery of 40 photos, see the complete collection here. Photo credit: @seikoliz and @rclatter. Follow Goku: @KasigFuchsGoku

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Zoosadism investigation: Capitalizing on abuse, and the ugly persistence of Kero.

by Patch O'Furr

Investigation continues – October 2018

Last month, furry fandom took a very dark turn. Zoosadism leaks: possibly the worst story to ever hit fandom was a mere introduction to the exposure of hidden networks for abuse and even snuff porn of animals.

The impact of it kicked up murky clouds of misinformation. After the shock, there was the usual speculation that comes with lesser dramas that usually die out in a week or two. There was smokescreening to hide evil that shocked even the most shady corners of the internet. There was rubbernecking, shit-stirring, evidence-tainting, and penny-chasing for views. And beneath it all was natural confusion. The ongoing story still defies explanation after a month, but on the good side, there’s significant work behind the scenes. That should have been done from the start to avoid a botched mess. Most of that work is for future updates. This update is mostly about public awareness.

One thing needs saying up front: you can definitely judge before a court does. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal standard to constrain government, not common sense about the evidence. There’s different standards between criminal court, civil court and society. (For example you don’t get a trial about fitness for employment, election, or safety with kids or animals.) Remember names like Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, or OJ Simpson, and let a lawyer explain:

It’s not just about Kero, but apologism for Kero is the most obvious obstacle to progress.

If you followed so far and understand the evidence, then the name Kero may fill you with disgust and rage. Kero is a Youtuber exposed as a secret animal abuse fetishist, whose complicity got outsized notice due to his 100,000+ subscribers.

[UPDATE] Twitter Moment: “Kero is guilty – Evidence”

Kero had opportunity to own up or shut up. He didn’t. In the most self-serving way, he responded with cherrypicked and inconsistent denials, to brush this under the rug and keep his following, manipulate them to shield him, and even capitalize on notoriety built on puppy killing. I’ve never labeled anything obscene in my life, but making money from this is nothing less than obscene. Of course the info wasn’t leaked to target Kero and there’s a roster of worse offenders to account for. But his failure to at least relieve everyone from apologist bullshit makes him a poster guy for what’s wrong.

Kero dug a bottomless pit for himself, and the rest of fandom is on the edge. If you thought it was bad already, you haven’t seen anything yet.

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The Passage Series, by John J. Sanders – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Passage series.

Rites of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2016, trade paperback, $11.00 (viii + 257 pages), Kindle $1.99.

City of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2017, trade paperback, $12.00 (v + 277 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Voices of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $14.00 (vii + 326 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Passage trilogy is set on Earth in the far future when humanity is turning much of it over to evolved AIs and new anthropomorphic animal clans that live like the pre-industrial native Americans.

Rites of Passage begins with the Otokononeko, the clans of the evolved lions and house cats living in the Great Sequoia Forests of West Coast North America. There are several offhand references to the humans, in San Francisco, Fresno, and other West Coast North American cities, but they are mostly offstage (at first).

“She dreamed of the dancing, songs sung, and stories told around the large fire. Dohi Aleutsi told a hilarious story about a young human male whose flying car was eaten by a Giant Sequoia tree. Her father and mother had undoubtedly heard the story before. Her father at one point in the story remarked that the car was still in the tree.” (p. 68)

The opening focus is upon Kaniko of the Otokononeko’s Anitsiskwa clan. The novel relates – or bogs down, for those who are not interested in such detail – the culture of the feline civilization in the Great Sequoia Forests. There are seven clans; the Anitsiskwa, Aniwaya, Anigilahi, Anikawi, Aniwodi, Anisahoni, and Anigalogewi. The symbol of the Anitsiskwa is bird claws; that of the Anikawi is antler-adorned leather vests; and so on. Kaniko’s parents and brothers are described, and the Otokononeko game of Stick and Rabbit is both described and played. It is around page 43 before the plot starts moving. Yet the first 42 pages are not boring. They are well-written and present the feline native civilization and characters’ personalities in great detail.

“She heard his crow calls and stopped her movement to listen to the forest. Jamel called two more times and silence. Her third-born brother, Domic, was much more patient and quiet. He was the kind of cat that would lie in wait for you to walk by before he’d pounce on you. She felt the summer breeze sweep through the trees and the tops swayed making the light in the forest dance. Still she waited for the slightest sound of movement. When she left her first-born brother on the ground, she had moved a little tangent to the point where she had heard his last call. She knew he had already moved, and she predicted he would move toward the inner parts of the arena. There the trees thinned until they opened up completely to form a loose circle around a small glade. Domic had long legs and could move faster when the trees were farther apart. They both knew this, and she knew he needed to get between him and the thinning trees,” (pgs. 18-19)

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Bass Totem brings ravers and furriends to DNA Lounge in San Francisco, October 26 2018

by Patch O'Furr

If you visit San Francisco and you like subcultural stuff, try DNA Lounge. They’re an anchor for night life that supports unusually cool shows.

It’s Sunday night and I just got back from being on stage there with Rachel Lark. She invited me because I answered her need for a furry in her music video. Rachel’s show was advertised with stuff like “sex-positive, musical theatre, stand up comedy, politically charged rock”, and that’s not even mentioning the circus performers suspended in mid air! For the low effort of jumping around and wagging my tail, I left with an invite to be in Bawdy Storytelling, another wild happening. I love when furries get welcomed like this, and it shows how much potential there is for fandom to mingle with other crowds.

Furries vs. goths, and furries vs. drag queens are among previous DNA Lounge shows covered here. A lot of credit for a thriving scene is due to DJ Neonbunny, founder of Frolic Party, whose activity brings recognition well outside of fandom. But since furries started flocking to Frolic in 2010, Northern California has been heating up with other crews starting new events too.

Midekai, Buster, Mr. Disk0, and Cosmo Coyote are some of the crew who talked to me about Bass Totem, their furry-led crossover with local rave events. The upcoming one is part of the monthly So Stoked party:

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6 Exotic Fantasy Animals To Create A Unique Fursona

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Do you want something different in choosing a furry persona? Are the usual anthropomorphic wolves, foxes, cats, otters, and bears too overused in your opinion, ever with bright neon fur or wings or horns? Even dragons and unicorns are too common in furrydom for you?

There are still a number of exotic fantasy animals that you can choose among that are almost or completely ignored in furrydom. Frankly, some of these are probably unused because they look so ungainly, or are too impractical to exist. Others look too much like other animals. But they’re real in the lists of mythical animals. Some are more prevalent in heraldic art.

Antlered Fish

This is on the coat-of-arms of the municipality of Inari, Finland, in far northern Lapland. The village is on the shore of Lake Inari, the largest lake in Lapland. It is known for its salmon and trout fishing. Lapland is known for its reindeer. A salmon plus a reindeer’s antlers give us this image.

This would probably be more suitable for badge art than for a fursuit. There are not any salmon in furrydom, with or without antlers.

Chakat

The chakat, a 24th-century alien feline centauroid, is the creation of Melbourne furry fan Bernard Doove. He has written several novels set in the Chakat Universe, with covers by furry artists that illustrate the four-legged cattaurs. There are also foxtaurs, skunktaurs, and others, originally created artificially but now (in the 24th-century) breeding naturally. Doove has given another fan, James R. Jordan, permission to write chakat stories. There are no chakat fursuits, but Doove’s fursona is Chakat Goldfur.

Presumably Doove, who is active in Oz fandom and usually comes to America every year for Anthrocon, will give other fans if asked to use his chakats. This is another fursona that is more practical in fan art than in fursuits. (Are there any taur fursuits?)

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