Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Category: Opinion

Representing furries in 2018: Good news on CNN, Sonicfox, and a tiger on Jeopardy. (Part 1)

by Patch O'Furr

In 2018, fandom had so much going on that this needs two parts. Part 1 has the media, and Part 2 is for conventions, charity, art, celebrities, awards, spending, and more. 

Pic: Cecil Shepherd (center) with Mr. Disko and Patch

Ever been on an aircraft carrier? The USS Hornet, in Alameda CA, is docked across the bay from San Francisco. It’s a fearsome wedge of rust-flecked metal bigger than most city blocks, and bristling with guns, planes and artifacts from WWII to the Apollo Space Program. Now it’s a national historic landmark and museum, but if you walk down the cavernous hangar deck and look at photos of Pearl Harbor in flames, it almost tingles with the smells and sounds of a global struggle against the evil of fascism. It made me think of my grandpa in the South Pacific, taking islands from Japan. It could make the world’s biggest hippie feel a sense of pride and humbleness from the history there.

Look ahead a few months, when this ship will be full of furry animals throwing a rave. That’s the cutting edge of turning swords into plowshares!

The second Space Camp Party is coming. On 12/9/18 it started with a photoshoot on the ship that drew a whopping 130 fursuiters just for a pre-planning meet. Previously in March 2018, over 500 went to the first party at Faction Brewing (a converted aircraft hanger on the same navy base). From early demand, the followup is likely to reach the size of a single-day con.

While I was doing silly poses in my rat suit against a giant ship anchor (does Bad Dragon make one of those?) – I thought of furries taking over the ship and conquering the nation. Next, the world. Then the blue skies above, and then the moon.

2018 is an intense year with many furry news stories topping ones that just happened. It’s too much to easily keep up with, and Fred Patten’s death affects publishing here, but on the plus side, I’m now paying for articles. Get in touch about submitting your story. And check out how much cool furry stuff there is to share.

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Sonicfox Just Won Best Esports Player – and the Future of Furry is Bright – by Tempe O’Kun

by Pup Matthias

Welcome to Tempe O’Kun, author of Paranormal Furry Romanceanthropomorphic-animal Westerns, and a frequent guest of the site.

You might not be into pro gaming. Maybe your interest in gaming is limited to what you play yourself and the occasional piece of fan art. That’s cool.

But let me tell you why you should care.

  • Furries are visible.

You might not have noticed, but we’re rainbow animal-people. Midwest Fur Fest just passed 10,000 in attendance, a world record for furry cons. In some ways, the fandom will always be our weird little club, but we’re not some unknown niche anymore. Not when one of us breaks into the trending topics on Twitter.

So somebody is going to be the face of the fandom—or rather, various people are at different times. And we’re lucky that our two recent high-profile furries (SonicFox at the Game Awards and Bucktown Tiger on Jeopardy) have been really upstanding guys.

And it’s not just a public persona. As it happens, I talked to SonicFox at MFF last weekend. I ducked away from my book launch for a few minutes to say hey. And, even in suit, he made a little time to stop and chat with me. Just as you see in the video, he comes off as a sweet and sincere person. He’s absolutely someone we want as a go-to example of a furry.

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CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling: Furry Nation – review by Joe Strike

by Patch O'Furr

Here’s a guest article from Joe Strike, a first-wave furry greymuzzle, writer about animation for Animation World Network, and author of Furry Nation, the first history of fandom in mainstream bookstores. His website shows work with TV cartoons you may know. He sent this in around the time of MFF. (- Patch)

Our community had been buzzing for months about the “furry” episode of CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling before it finally aired on November 18th. I kept my fingers crossed; like most other furs I’ve been watching the media get us wrong for years. (The primary reason I wrote Furry Nation was to correct the record; as I occasionally told people, “I’m tired of outsiders getting it all wrong—I decided it was time for someone in the furry community to get it all wrong.”)

But what really piqued my curiosity was that several people told me the episode was titled… “Furry Nation”!

Okay, what’s going on here? Shortly before the episode aired, I emailed the production company to ask, wazzup? how did you happen to borrow my title?, to which they responded:

Thank you for reaching out!  Your book sounds amazing! We actually learned about this community from Lisa’s viewers. It was a suggestion someone sent in. Our research and facts came from FurScience. 

Well, thank you “someone” for the free plug for Furry Nation The Book. (Said title never appeared in the episode by the way; I assume it was only used in the episode’s listings, although a search of cnn.com failed to discover it.)

Lacking cable, I caught up with the episode later via a relative’s DVR. After taking a few days to digest a second viewing, I’m finally ready to share my take on Lisa Ling’s take on Furry.

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Jello Biafra’s Incredibly Strange Interview and dance party with furries: San Francisco, 12/1/18

by Patch O'Furr

Info: Frolicparty.com or Facebook – Frolic with Jello Biafra

Are you a man or are you a mouse?
If you love your fun, die for it!
The Power of Lard by Lard

Man or mouse: why pick just one? Furries can have their cake and eat it too. (It’s cheese cake, of course!)

That line jumped out of my car music on a drive to San Jose’s PAWcon, on the day after Halloween. Besides rocking my giant ears, I was geeking out about just doing a 45 minute phone call with Jello Biafra.

Jello is a punk legend, the singer for Lard and the Dead Kennedys, the founder of Alternative Tentacles (one of the longest running indie record labels)… and he’s friendly to this fluffy fandom. Is that punk? Well, will it annoy purists and/or make you laugh? Then it just might be. And will the average furry care? I’d say it’s cooler than the times when furries infested the White House and assimilated Insane Clown Posse. If you could put all those things together, and let the mayhem commence with cute animals and crazy clowns doing a coup on the Capitol lawn, it would only be half as outrageous as this amazing event.

Speaking of Halloween, that wasn’t just a date on the calendar. Halloween is a classic Dead Kennedys song, and Jello referenced it when I asked for his thoughts on furries. The song rages against social regulations and asks why people don’t express themselves like that day, every day? So, furries, you got compared to a classic punk rager by the legend who wrote it. (He also wrote Nazi Punks Fuck Off. By the way, Nazi Furs Fuck Off!)

See why I was so stoked? Getting in that spirit also reminds me of Ministry’s Every Day is Halloween; Jello’s band Lard is a metal/industrial collab with the guys from Ministry. And when I asked what his fursona could be, he gave the punkest answer:

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Panique au Zoo; Une Enquête de Poulpe et Castor Burma, by Frédéric Bagères (story), Marie Voyelle (art), Jerôme Alvarez (colors) – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Panique au Zoo; Une Enquête de Poulpe et Castor Burma, by Frédéric Bagères (story), Marie Voyelle (art), Jerôme Alvarez (colors).
Paris, Éditions Delcourt, June 2018, trade paperback, €23,95 (187 [+ 5] pages), Kindle €16,99.

Fred Patten and Lex Nakashima strike again!

“Built in 1740, at the far northern end of the isle, the Canon Zoo is the oldest and greatest zoo in the world. Founded in the XVI century by the monk Sylvestre Marie, it is today managed exclusively by its occupants.

“Aimed at an instructive goal, it offers its visitors, through its presentation of natural habitats, the chance to see how they have lived, over the centuries to the present, “animals in a state of nature”.” The sign is defaced with a graffiti-scrawl saying, “Obey!”

The first pages, a general meeting in the director’s office (a tapir), establish that things are different today. (Also that the dialogue is full of French puns and double-entendres.) Something is causing some of the animals to mutate into forms that are embarrassing at best, potentially fatal at worst. The director has hired two private detectives, Octopus and Beaver Burma, to find the reason and stop it.

“Eight months ago, some employees began showing the first symptoms. I think the otters were the first.”

“What do you mean?”

“They became covered with spines.”

“Like porcupines?”

“Exactly.”

“Like ‘otter-pines?’”

“If you like. They’re incapable today of running their stand in the zoo.”

“What are they selling?”

“Balloons.”

[…]

“Next it was the turn of those that your colleague would call the ‘polar urchins’, who are living today in the canteen’s freezer.”

“Then the ‘cat-pony’ that we put into the Asian animal enclosure.”

“And the ‘oyster-constrictor’ who spends his days trying to swallow the ‘rat-engale’ trying to find its voice.”

“The affair took a nasty turn when we found the “serpent-pie-thon’ dead, of self-asphyxiation. The animals began to get scared.”

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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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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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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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