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Fluff Pieces Every Week

Tag: fox

Margaret Cho barks about furries, pride, and costuming on The Masked Singer

by Patch O'Furr

Dogged persistence seems necessary to win success as a standup comedian. In school, the class clown might not be who you expect to become a household name. That’s why one like Margaret Cho can be extra fascinating among mainstream celebrities. She’s got layers. Fabulous, fluffy layers. 

Live touring, TV, movies, fashion and music are all part of her creative canvas, with a palette of adult humor colored by mentors like Robin Williams, 1970’s San Francisco childhood, 1990’s alternative culture, Korean-American experience, female and LGBT identity, and enduring love for non-conformists. Her bio includes Grammy and Emmy nominations, accolades from the New York Times, and awards for representing the LBGT community among other activism for social progress. With such an arsenal of badassery at her disposal, she still graciously got on the phone with a little furry blog. 

Research for our chat turned up a few interesting facts: The show format (guessing the hidden performer) originally came from Korean TV, and she was tuned in to it before being cast. Despite the comedy label, her background includes burlesque and serious study to create comedy music on the level of pros like Weird Al or Flight of the Conchords. You can watch her on Season 1, Episode 4 of The Masked Singer on Fox.comEnjoy – Patch

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River Water, by Eikka – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

River Water, by Eikka.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2016, trade paperback, $9.00 (122 pages), Kindle $2.99.

This is a happy nature novella, like Bambi by Felix Salten – not! (Not that Bambi is very happy.)

Flix is a pregnant young vixen, happily mated to Bracken, a strong but not very bright tod. This is fine with her. She doesn’t love him as much as she feels that she can relax with him as the protector of her and her (and his) kits. This is a great relief after her own orphaned and very insecure childhood.

“His brain wasn’t talon-sharp, if that wasn’t obvious from his idea that shrubberies could spontaneously attack, but that was fine by her. She knew he’d sooner let his bones collapse than let anyone get a strand of fur on her, and she’d given him a litter of magnificent kits growing inside her body alongside a growing feeling of being protected than she’d had in a very long time.” (p. 8)

Unfortunately for her, Bracken is immediately killed while she is out hunting. She does not grieve for him as much as she’s panic-stricken at being without a protector once again. Even worse now that she has a wombful of growing kits to also care for.

Flix is so desperate for a new protector that when she comes across a lone stoat, even younger and more naïve than she is, she grabs him for the job. He takes some persuading at first –

“The stoat blinked open his eyes, and reacted just as expected, twisting, scratching, biting, kicking. Flix, feeling disturbed but making sure she remained calm, called out as clearly as she could.

‘Okay, stop! I’m not going to hurt you! I know you’re lost and I know you’re alone – but that’s why I’m here! I want to help you! But please, I need you to stop!’

The stoat began to slow his struggling, but whether this was because he believed what she was saying or just getting tired, Flix didn’t know – she just continued speaking regardless.

‘Are you listening to me? Are…? Look, what’s your name? Mine’s Flix. What’s yours? Mmm?’

He just stared at her. She asked the question again. ‘What’s your name?’

‘…You’re a fox” the stoat breathed out.

‘Yes, I know,’ Flix said, ‘but there’s nothing I can do about that. And anyway, I’m not an ordinary fox… I’m a good fox.’

‘G… Good fox?’

‘Yes,’ she said, astonished at what she was saying; the amount of animals she’d torn the fur off, she was akin to a good fox as much as a stick insect was to a vicious destroyer of nature. ‘Ground squirrels, tree squirrels – good foxes, bad foxes. So you don’t have to be afraid. Just tell me your name.’

The stoat stared for a while longer, before sliding out the word ‘Nezzick’.

‘Nezzick,’ Flix repeated. ‘Brilliant name. Now… You know I’m here to help you, don’t you? … Just say yes or no.’

He didn’t say anything.” (pgs. 11-12)

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Rise of the Silver Moon, by Kuragari Inuken and K. G. Hobbes – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

rise-of-the-sliver-moon-by-kuragari-inuken-and-k-g-hobbes-206943Rise of the Silver Moon, by Kuragari Inuken and K. G. Hobbes. Illustrated by Shiki Z. Shigls.
Las Vegas, NV, Rabbit Valley Books, May 2016, trade paperback $20.00 (177 pages).

This is a Medievalish fantasy adventure with funny-animal warriors and wizards, including “dragonkin”. I’m not sure what the dragonkin are supposed to look like, despite the picture of one on the cover:

“The dragonkin straightened and unfurled his wings briefly, flexing them in the cool night air then folding them against his back. Adjusting his clothes nervously and checking that he was presentable in his reflection from a window he stepped up to the door, and knocked far more quietly than such a large fist would seem to allow.” (pgs. 2-3)

So the dragonkin have large wings plus clothes. How does that work? Are the shirts or tunics backless? If the dragonkin are humanoid, do they sleep on their backs with those wings?

Never mind. For a funny-animal adventure like this, it doesn’t matter.

Khan the dragonkin/dragon is the monk-sensei of a martial-art school. He is determined to climb a cursed mountain for the healing flowers that grow only at its top. The flowers grow at the foot of a stone statue of a humanoid wolf that comes to life when he picks them. After an exhausting fight, Khan throws the wolf off the mountaintop to its death. But when it dies, the wolf’s spirit possesses Khan:

“He felt something bubble up in his chest and rise in his throat, escaping his maw in a loud lupine howl! Khan clapped his hands over his mouth and shivered as he kneeled, feeling extremely weak and shaky. Another howl pierced the now silent night and made the dragon double over retching on his hands and knees.” (p. 19)

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Kitsune-Tsuki / Kitsune-Mochi, by Laura VanArendonk Baugh – book reviews by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten

51Q9XT9YgZL._SY346_Kitsune-Tsuki, by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Indianapolis, IN, Æclipse Press, September 2012, trade paperback $4.99 (v + 96 pages), Kindle $1.99.

Kitsune-Mochi, by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Indianapolis, IN, Æclipse Press, October 2013, trade paperback $8.99 (xiii + 291 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Are Baugh’s Kitsune Tales Books 1 and 2 anthropomorphic or not? It’s impossible to tell until about halfway through Kitsune-Tsuki, defined in the glossary as “state of being possessed by a fox spirit”.

These two books are set in Heian Japan, the historical period from 794 to 1185 A.D. This was the period of the most formal Imperial courts, and when the belief in Shintoism, Buddhism, and Taoism were at their height. The imperial court’s most influential courtiers may have been the onmyōji, the practitioners of soothsaying, divination, astronomy, and other forms of fortune-telling. Hardly anyone, from the emperor to his concubines to their servants, did anything without checking with an onmyōji first to find out whether it would result in good luck or bad luck. The most famous onmyōji was Abe no Seimei (921-1005), who was believed to also be a powerful wizard. See the 2001 Japanese feature Onmyōji (it’s on YouTube) about Abe no Seimei as a good wizard battling evil onmyōji trying to destroy the emperor.

This was also the period when belief in ghosts, demons, and shapechanging spirits was at its height, including belief in nine-tailed kitsune (foxes) and fox-spirits possessing people. The insane were believed to be possessed by a fox-spirit. So in Kitsune-Tsuki a short novella or even a novelette), belief in fox spirits is not necessarily a fantasy about their reality. But yes, unmistakable fox-spirits do finally appear.

Tsurugu no Kiyomori is an onmyōji called to the court of Naka no Yoritomo, a powerful daimyō (regional lord) with a court rivaling the emperor’s.

“Naka no Yoritomo believed that a local kitsune meant to work mischief upon him or his new wife, Fujitani no Kaede. There had been strange incidents in the countryside of late, with objects of value disappearing and irrational stories offered by confused laborers for missing goods and missing hours. There had even been a recent case of kitsune-tsuki in the farmers’ village below, a poor young girl possessed by a fox spirit and driven to madness.” (pgs. 2-3)

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Waterways is why I Love the Furry Fandom

by Pup Matthias

6412912I love the Furry Fandom. I love how weird, crazy, silly, creative, and open-minded the fandom is. Just like how every other fandom says they’re weird, crazy, silly, creative, and open-minded. But in all seriousness, I do appreciate what the fandom is and what it keeps trying to do. I am indebted to the Furry Fandom. My life would not be where it is today because of it. If I had any regrets in life, one of them would be to wish I knew about the fandom earlier so I could spend more years exploring it, but that’s wishful thinking, and in all honesty, would undermine my personal growth.

The first time I’ve ever heard about the fandom was during a countdown on Animal Planet’s “Weird, True & Freaky” around 2008. Before that, I knew I loved the concept of anthropomorphic animals. Mainly through the Redwall book series and TV show, which was my only “Furry” fix growing up. I don’t really remember if there were other factors like Disney’s Robin Hood or Bugs Bunny, Crash or Ratchet, Swat Kats or Road Rovers. But I do know when Weird, True & Freaky showed Furries I wanted to know more.

I don’t remember much about the segment. I know it was talked about during a countdown of humanimals, looks at how far humans include animals into their lives. The fandom only made number 4 or 3 out of 7, and while it did bring up the topic of sex, it wasn’t the main reason it made the list. Just the whole, “Can you believe people dress up in fursuits? Look at how quirky and weird these Furries be…” blah, blah, blah. In hindsight, considering what most media depictions of Furries were like at the time, this one was fairly open. But once it aired I didn’t really look into it more. I was a senior in high school. My life was more focused about college, scholarships, and getting ready for our high school production of Grease.

It wasn’t till after I started college in the fall of 2009 that I remember the segment about Furries, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what the fandom was called. So I had to do some really weird Google searches to remember what those fluffy people in suits that pretend to be walking, talking animals called themselves. I began to find results through the web comic scene with works like Better Days, Jack, and Fur-Piled. Which in term lead to me discovering what these weirdoes called themselves and the creative sites dedicated to them. I had found the Furries.

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Spirit Hunters Book 2: The Open Road, by Paul Kidd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

UnknownSpirit Hunters. Book 2: The Open Road, by Paul Kidd. Illustrated.
Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com/Perth, Western Australia, Kitsune Press, May 2016, trade paperback $25.84 (395 pages), Kindle $7.99.

Spirit Hunters. Book 1: The Way of the Fox was published in September 2014, and reviewed here in January 2015. It contains the first three Encounters of about a hundred pages each. I said that, “Spirit Hunters is set in the realm of traditional Japanese mythology, vaguely around 900 or 1000 A.D.” The Spirit Hunters are a quartet who wander throughout medieval mythical Japan hunting yokai — supernatural spirits. Lady Kitsune nō Sura, a fox woman, and her companion Tsunetomo Tonbo, a huge human samurai with “a solid iron staff longer than he was tall. The business end was grimly studded with spikes. It was the weapon of a monster slayer – a thing designed to obliterate helmets, armour and anything organic that might get in its way,” are “itinerant Spirit Hunters, traveling throughout Japan looking for evil Spirits to kill – hopefully for pay.” Asodo Kuno is a young bottom-ranking samurai who hopes that killing demons will gain him a reputation and higher status. Chiri is a shy rat-spirit who Sura persuades to join them. She is accompanied by two little spirits of her own: Daitanishi the rock elemental, and Bifuuko the apparent insect; an air elemental.

Sura and Chiri are the main characters who make this a furry book. Sura is described in the first book as:

“A fox woman lounged upon a fallen log like a reclining Buddha, eating a roasted chicken leg. Beside her, there were the embers of a camp fire and a pair of backpacks ready for travel. The fox woman had a long, clever pointed muzzle, and great, green eyes filled with humour. Her body was human in size and shape – excepting for its lush pelt of fur, her fox head with muzzle and long pointed ears, and her long, elegant red tail. She wore a priestess’ robes decorated with images of peaches – with each peach missing a single bite. The fox called out to Kuno in a loud and merry voice while she wriggled her black-furred toes.” (The Way of the Fox, p. 12) She gets the quartet into their adventures, blithely assuring them, “Trust me – I’m a fox!”

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The Shadows That Linger, by M. Andrew Rudder – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Cyanni-The-Shadows-That-Linger-small

Cover by Randy Thompson

The Shadows That Linger, by M. Andrew Rudder.
Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, July 2015, trade paperback $17.95 (314 pages), Kindle $7.99.

The Shadows That Linger is a superhero comic book in text form, in a funny-animal world.

“Superpowers had begun to appear five years ago, and with those powers came superheroes. With superheroes simultaneously came supervillains, government agencies to try and sponsor, control, or extinguish them, and a different kind of warfare.” (p. 5)

Among anthropomorphic animals or humans. Well, if I suddenly gained superstrength, superspeed, the ability to fly or to phase through solid objects, invulnerability, or anything else like that, I don’t think that the first things I’d do are to design a flamboyant costume and name for myself, and get together with similar individuals to form a club of superheroes – or, if I decided to become a supervillain, to join others in a society of supervillains. But maybe that’s just me.

Let’s see: The Protectors in Seattle are the good guys. They include Thunderwolf, a “muscular wolf” with a “shockingly blue Mohawk crackling with static electricity”; White Magus, an arctic fox with shimmering fur dressed in a tuxedo, “brandishing a ruby-topped cane like a sword”; Pathfinder, the leader, “a husky, tall and muscular, dressed in segmented body armor that gave her freedom of movement while also protecting her from those criminals who preferred guns to lasers” who can track anything; Zahnrad, a diminutive female pine marten with a thick German accent “dressed in functional overalls” who can undo property damage – well, you get the idea. The Consortium are the supervillains, with Puppeteer, “a fox in black leather motorcycle gear” who controls minds; Firestarter, a superfast female dhole dressed in “a tight outfit in red, black, and blue, completed by a streamlined helmet with a tight visor over her eyes”; Dazzlewolf, garishly costumed who can create multiple copies of himself; and others.

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The Art of Zootopia, by Jessica Julius – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

91QvZofgFfLThe Art of Zootopia, by Jessica Julius. Preface by John Lasseter. Foreword- Byron Howard, Rich Moore.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, March 2016, hardcover $40.00 (160 pages), Kindle $16.19.

Here it is! The coffee-table animation-art book that you’ve been waiting for! Note that the blurb says, “This lushly illustrated book offers a behind-the-scenes view of the elaborate artistry involved in creating the film.” The villain is revealed, but if you want the film’s story in detail, get Disney’s Zootopia Junior Noveliation.

The Art of Zootopia presents 160 pages of Zootopia artwork in closeup detail, with commentary by the Disney staff. There are not only finished designs, there are preliminary sketches and models showing early designs that were discarded.

“In an early iteration of the film, prey animals were dominant in Zootopia, so the motifs used in buildings reflected ther reality. We used vegetable patterns, leaf shapes, and flower murals in the architecture. –Dave Goetz, production designer” (p. 21).

“In early versions of the story, this division was overt, with prey animals exploiting their strength in numbers to dominate predators, who were forced to wear collars that prevented accidental expressions of their natural aggression.” (p. 28)

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Losing My Religion, by Kyell Gold – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

51YUeCdXDQL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Losing My Religion, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by BlackTeagan.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, September 2015, trade paperback $9.95 (126 pages), Kindle $7.99.

This Red Velvet Cupcake (a novella) released at RainFurrest 2015 is not age-restricted. Oh? It emphasizes male/male relationships and lots of explicit masturbation, and a close-up of cock-sucking in one of BlackTeagan’s full-page interior illustrations. But as usual with Kyell Gold, the writing is of extreme high-quality. There should be writing this good in the rest of furry literature!

Losing My Religion is a standalone story in Gold’s Forrester U. setting. Jackson Alley, the narrator, is a 25-year-old coyote in an all-male R.E.M. cover band, REMake, on a two-week tour. Jackson (guitar) is bi, Matt (drummer and their manager; wolf) and Lars (singer; arctic fox) are gay lovers, and Zeb (bassist; kit fox who’s just joined the band) is too young and inexperienced to know what his orientation is yet. The living is unrestricted while they’re on tour, and Jackson hopes to hook up for one-night or a couple-of-days stands with a girl, but he’ll settle for a guy if the guy is cute enough. Zeb is, but he hasn’t figured out his orientation yet. Jackson offers big-brotherly advice that he doesn’t intend to lead to any long-term commitments.

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Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, by Juneau Black – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

titleShady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, by Juneau Black.
Philadelphia, PA, Hammer & Birch, October 2015, paperback $12.95 ([1] + 197 [+1] pages), Kindle $4.99.

This is a stereotypical murder mystery except for the funny animal cast. Shady Hollow is a small forest animal town where everybody knows everybody else. They’re all friendly, except maybe for grumpy toad Otto Stumpf.  But he’s considered cranky but lovable – until the morning that he’s found floating face down in the mill pond with a knife in his back.

Almost all the reviews call Shady Hollow “a Murder, She Wrote with animals”. The book begins with a Cast of Characters:

Otto Stumpf: The grouchy, taciturn toad of Shady Hollow. Not many folk admit to liking Otto. The better question is who hates him.

Vera Vixen: This cunning, foxy reporter has a nose for trouble and a desire to find out the truth. Can she trust anyone around her?

BW Stone: The cigar-chomping skunk of an editor of the Shady Hollow Herald. BW (“Everything in black and white!”) loves a good headline. Would he kill to create one?” (p. 1)

The Cast goes on to profile thirteen others such as the lazy bear police chief, his bear deputy who does all the work, the hummingbird town gossip, the moose coffee shop owner, the beaver industrialist, and the raccoon small-time thief. Each is described suspiciously. As the popular coffee-shop proprietor, “If gossip is spoken, Joe has heard it. Maybe he heard too much.” As Vera investigates, everyone turns out to have a secret that he or she would rather keep hidden. But are any of the secrets serious enough to lead to murder? And how would a recluse like Otto have learned them?

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