Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Human-Puppy Taxonomy: Updated

I know it's been a long time since I've done any serious thinking out loud on ye olde puppy blog, but I recently had a lovely conversation with a guy about puppy play, and it got me in the mood to ruminate again...

I've been teaching or helping to teach human-puppy play classes for 5 or 6 years now at various clubs and events around the South. Over that time I've developed a taxonomy of human puppies, based on one originally began by Sir Loki, but which I've continued to adjust and expand. I wrote about this many years ago (here http://pupemrys.blogspot.com/2012/05/puppy-typology.html ), but I think I haven't published an updated version in a while.  So here, updated, are my four types of pups (which roughly also yield four types of pup scenes):


The Slave-Pup

Chad Helder (HelderHorror.com) summarized Stephen King’s The Shining thus:  “In the book, the man in the tuxedo is revealed to be Derwent, the corrupt playboy, jet-set owner of the hotel.  According to one of the ghost-guests, Derwent is bisexual, and he has a fling with Roger in Cuba. Now, Roger is desperate to continue the love affair while Derwent is finished with Roger. As a way to torment and humiliate his former lover, Derwent asks Roger to dress as a dog for the masquerade ball, and the entire evening Derwent forces him to perform degrading tricks while everyone laughs at him, including pouring a very phallic bottle of foaming champagne all over Roger's dog mask.

A slave-pup is someone who doesn't really go into puppy headspace, but is forced to act like and be treated as an animal while retaining their human awareness of that degradation in status. Slave-pups are submissives who enjoy being humiliated by being “forced” by a Dominant to behave like a “less than human” animal.  “Get down on all fours and crawl, bitch!”  Along with humiliation, discipline and obedience training are a focus in play with slave-pups.   This is where pup plays started – as a punishment for misbehaving boys in leather bars – but then it turned out that some of the boys liked it…  And so the gay scene (in the US) has shifted away from the slave-pup, and today this form of pup play is more common among het Fem-Domme BDSM.  (In Europe, there are still many more gay pups who are into the humiliation and obedience aspect of pup play.)

One way to spot a traditional slave-pup: if you ask them how they got their pup name, and they reply, "My Master/Mistress named me."


The Play-Pup

A “play pup” is one who enjoys pupping-out as a form of play: like with bondage, gear fetish, boot-worship, or flogging.  They will “do a pup scene.”  It’s essentially a role-playing game.  These pups tend not to go into a deep pup-headspace, and will often talk, laugh and joke around during a mosh.  I think for the play pup it’s primarily an opportunity to let-lose, be goofy and uninhibited, and… well, playful.  As my pack-mate Hunter once said:  “It eliminates the pressure to talk. I hate talking. I hate vocalizing anything. Hell, I even dislike barking. In pup mode, I can meet new people and go [past] awkward conversations of, "Oh, I've been in the lifestyle this long, and my hanky is on this side, and I'm un-collared at the moment, not due to lack of trying." I just sniff them, and if the don't freak out, I get scritches.”


Play pups tend to be the very opposite of slave-pups in terms of discipline.  Play pups may be in D/s relationships, but they are likely to be ultra-low protocol, and tend to be relatively disinterested in Leather traditions/history.  They may also be uninterested in, or even incapable of, deep puppy headspace.

Many play-pups, I also refer to as "Rave Pups," because they tend to mostly turn-out at rave/disco clubs more than traditional leather bars: young, twink boys who like to go out in sexy pup gear to dance, flirt, and act silly (and sometimes "party and play").  There are a growing number of pup-themed nights at various gay clubs around the country, e.g. Puppy Pound in San Francisco, Arf! in Seattle, and The Kennel in LA.


The Innate-Pup

Leather-dog Brue once said: “[Some] may experience a spiritual awakening, enlightenment or discover an animal spirit guide/totem when they go into pupmode. But for many, being a pup/Dog is who they are, it is their core being or soul… I would make barking/growling noises during sex. This had a tendency to unsettle some people and arouse other people even more. I definitely fantasized about being a dog when I was young. Where others wanted to be the soldier or Indian or whatever when playing, I wanted to be a dog: to romp, protect and be near someone. I remember I used to have vivid dog dreams (running in fields, chasing things, etc).

An “innate pup” is one for whom being a pup is a constant state… like being a slave, or being a Christian, or being gay, or being a African-American.  It’s a part of who we are and how we interact w/ the world.  When I do pup play (get down on all fours and romp), it’s a matter of letting the hound that’s always under my skin come forward and take over for a while.  For me, pup play is a very shamanic kind of thing.  It’s a spiritual transformation that is aided by the physical transformation (i.e. the body-suit and hood).  Getting suited-up and pulling the hood on is also a gradual, ritualistic shift in head-space.  Mythologists like Joseph Campbell have addressed the importance of our animal within, and the way civilization and Judeo-Christian culture has divorced us from it. 

Innate-pups are primarily interested in the puppy headspace: a form of self-hypnosis in which one can, for a brief time, really come to think one's self to be a dog, and lose language skills almost entirely.  They may avoid moshes because it can be very hard for them to get deep into a puppy headspace in such a public setting.

How might you spot an innate-pup?  The tend to be very specific about their breeds and strongly identify with these dogs as a kind of totem/spirit animal.  (e.g. I have an Irish wolfhound tattoo, wolfhound knot-patterns on my wedding ring, and a dozen wolfhound-themed tee shirts in my closet.)


The Gear-Pup (or Rubber-Pup)

As a comic book geek and budding pervert, I discovered (and fell in love w/) the work of Michael Manning, who I eventually got to meet at Fantasm in 2003.  But years before that, I discovered his comics: which are super-super-HOT!  And one of the hottest things he drew were these amazing images of (often androgynous or gender-queer) rubber/PVC pups.  Woof!

Gear puppies come more from the rubber fetishist tradition.  Here, the aims are primarily erotic.  The puppy gear itself (the hoods, the leashes and collars, the body-suits and harnesses) is a turn-on, and the purpose of pup play is to get one's dick hard and act as a stimulant for sex.  Gear-pups often combine their pup play with bondage, edging, breath play, and poppers.  The rubber-pup scene is much bigger in the UK and Northern Europe, but it is growing over here.  However, as of 2018, I still tend not to run into a whole lot of fellow rubber-pups in the States.



Note:  These are not exclusive categories, but are like an overlapping vinn diagram.  Many pups will fit into two or even three categories.  My Hunter, e.g., is part slave-pup, part play-pup, and part innate pup... but he has no gear fetish side at all.  However, Hunter calls me 400% pup because I fit very well into all four of these types, and can engage in all these types of pup play, depending on the context.  (I think that might be one reason why I often get called on to teach puppy play classes: I understand all these different approaches to puppy play.)

Of course this taxonomy isn't anything definitive, and there are any number of other ways you could divide up the human-pup community.  However, I've found it to be useful, especially for a Handler negotiating a scene with a new puppy.  It can be quite disappointing if, e.g., a Handler is expecting a heavy degradation and obedience slave-pup scene and his puppy just wants to cut loose and be silly.  This is not a bad framework for thinking about one's style of being a puppy and what one wants to get out of a puppy scene.

I've noticed that (especially) some slave-pups and innate-pups look down on play-pups and gear-pups as "not real," "fake," "superficial," "not serious," etc.  I'm not supportive of this attitude.  I always teach that everyone can find his own level to play at.  Not every pup has to be an innate pup and sleep in a dog kennel every night.  People can get out of pup play whatever it is that they get out of it... and leave the rest.  I think this also cuts through the (frankly) bullshit debate over: Is puppy play sexual... or is it all about the headspace, or whatever.  Yeah, for some it's entirely sexual.  For others, it isn't sexual at all.  Bottom line: There isn't one way to be a puppy.



Monday, January 15, 2018

2017 Year in Review, Part Two

Twenty more questions about my year...

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Saturday we had friends and family over to the Treehouse.  Unfortunately, Hunter, Daniel, and Cuddles were all unable to make it, and that did make it a little odd.  Christmas day we spent with Poet’s family, but bailed early to hang w/ Blaze and rock out to loud punk music: the Stooges, the Ramones…  It was: How the Misfits saved Christmas.

22. Did you fall in love?
I still love my beautiful Owner and my wonderful pack-mates.

23. Have any one-night stands?
Had some sexy-fun time w/ a coupe of one-off guys at the direction of my Alpha, including his Sir.  (Also spent 48 hours in latex having sexy-fun time w/ my Alpha.)

24. What was your favorite TV program?
We watched Hannibal S1, The Punisher, Back Sails S1 & 2, Stranger Things S2… but my favorite was American Gods.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
So many new jerks on the public scene, I’ll just name-drop Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein as being particularly grotesque.

26. What was the best book you read?
March, the graphic novel by John Lewis was probably the best new book.  Also liked Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant.  But mostly I re-read a lot of favorites from Dune to ZMM to Doctor Faustus (T. Mann) to The Sandman.

27. What was your favorite new music of 2017?
Discovered The Go-Betweens and Alice Merton’s “Roots.”  Listened to a lot of REM this year. 

28. Best new podcast?
Three:  The Art History Babes, Unspoiled (Sandman and Dark Tower), and Conversations w/ People who Hate Me

29.  What did you want and get?
An Irish wolfhound and a Spider-man zentai

30. What did you want and not get?
Tickets to Europe (we decided to delay our trip one year).  Also, a new latex suit.

31. What was your favorite film of this year?
I missed: Logan, It, Get Out, The Foreigner, Professor Marsten and the Wonder Women… as well as The Big Sick, Three Billboards, and Ghost Story…  I missed a lot!
And yet, I did see, and really like:  Shape of Water, Bladerunner 2049, Loving Vincent, Spider-man Homecoming, Star Wars: the Last Jedi, Atomic Blond, and Baby Driver… but I think my favorites were Hidden Figures and Coco.  (Plus, Poet and I went to see Close Encounters on the big screen.  Woo-hoo!)

32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Forty-two.  It was Code Night at the Woodshed and I got to pup out!  *wags*

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Some of my closest people had some rough times this year.  I wish they had it a little better.

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
I got a fuck-ton of neckties from my uncle and a cool new cap from my Owner.

35. What kept you sane?
“If I were a robot, I would short-circuit and explode… but I’m human, so I drink.” – Cody Johnston

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Either Ana Kasparian from TYT News or Grant Gustin from TV’s Flash (because his ass looks very nice in that Flash costume)

37. What political issue stirred you the most?                           
It’s something every fucking week:  the Russian investigation, the Muslim ban, Charlottesville, Roy Moore, pardoning “Sheriff Joe,” openly violating the emoluments clause, taunting North Korea like a child, more/bigger mass-shootings, stories of sexual harassment & assault, the most insane tax bill ever, the Puerto Rico disaster, and the mountain of open racism and bigotry!

38. Who did you miss?
Hunter.  Not like I didn’t see him at all, but we had to cancel 3 or 4 of our scheduled get-togethers.

39. Who was the best new person you got to know?
I don’t know. I met a few new people (Neil, Blaze, Chad…), but don’t feel like I’ve “got to now” them yet.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017:
This one is really hard b/c while 2016 was largely just shit for most people I know… this year has been, in some ways, tougher… or at least it feels like the year everybody is picking up the pieces and trying to keep everything from just completely blowing up.  On the macro/political level things have never been worse in my lifetime.  And while last year sucked, at the end of it I knew where things stood, but this year feels really shifty, shaky and uncertain.  I don’t know… I worry more than I used to – about my job, my house, my friends, health, the environment...  L

I guess the lesson is:  Hold on to your butts.



Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Year in Review, Part 1

20 Questions About My Year

1. What did you do this year that you'd never done before?
Sued someone (successfully) in small claims court.  Took my Kitten to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in concert.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
“I want to try this project whereby, in 2017, I revisit some of my favorite/most influential books and documentaries more or less in order of how I encountered them from roughly 1993 to 2003.”  Largely successful! 
Resolution for 2018:  This year I slightly took-up meditating again.  I’d like to keep that up and also get back in the habit of doing yoga once a week.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Bishop and Gwynn.  Plus, Oberon was born at the beginning of the year, and, at the end of the year, my German friend is having a daughter any day now!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Uncle Joe

5. Did anyone close to you get married?
No, but R.M. got engaged.

6. What places did you visit?
We didn’t go to many places this year, but we went to Brookgreen Gardens, the Knoxville Zoo, and the Asheville Nature Center.

7. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?
I need new latex and zentai suits

8. What day from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Kitten’s pain ritual.  Also: Spending the day in Asheville with my Alpha this summer – I really enjoyed that – and going hiking with him in the mountains with him.  (Technically that’s two days w/ Hunter.)

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
We won the “Most Spirited” float award in Charlotte Pride, and I think I had something to do with that.

10. What was your biggest failure?
It wasn’t exactly a failure, but CAPEX did a puppy workshop and mosh w/ an internationally known guest, and I tried to help promote that…but none of the local pups or Handlers came out for it.  That kind of sucked.

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope.

12. What was the best thing you bought?
Oberon

13. Whose behavior merited a celebration?
Every woman who was a silence breaker and #MeToo – and everyone who participated in the Women’s March on Washington

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Easily Donald Fucking Trump.  I don’t even know where to start…
Also: the arborist we hired to take down a dead tree, took our money but wouldn’t do the job, and we had to sue him in small claims to get our money back.  He was such a chauvinistic, immature, vulgar, lying jackass!  (Basically: Donald Fucking Trump on a smaller scale.)

15. Where did most of your money go?
Oberon.

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Oberon…  Frolicon…  The Pup event we had at CAPEX…

17. What song will always remind you of this year?
Brand New’s “Play Crack the Sky.”

18. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Beta to a wonderful pair of omega-pups (which is exactly what I wrote in 2015, funny enough)

19. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Quality time with Hunter.  A lot of our scheduled time together this year got cancelled for one reason or another, so he missed the CAPEX camp-out, pup class, the Halloween party, Treehouse Christmas…  None of it was his fault; it was just that kind of year.

20. What do you wish you'd done less of?
House painting.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad.  We did a lot of repainting at both my mom’s old house and the newly acquired South Tower.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Frolicon 2017

For you to preview and okay...

Frolicon is our favorite con every year, and this was one of the best Frolicons I’ve had in years!

THURSDAY

I drove down w/ my omega.  My lovely Owner, her boyfriend, my Alpha, his boyfriend, and his Sir were all already on site.  (Did you get all that?)  Actually, when I walked into our room, Alpha was naked and in hypnotic bondage.  His Sir is a professional erotic hypnotist.  Personally, I have always had a HUGE fantasy-fetish for mindcontrol/hypno/brainwashing, so watching him control Alpha through hypnotic triggers all weekend was incredibly, fucking hot!  Wolfhound was so envious!  Also fucking hot:  my Alpha didn’t waste any time before he had me on the floor worshiping his feet w/ my tongue and mouth.  I was in beta-puppy heaven.

No special costumes Thursday night: just leather pack vests and jeans.  We went out to dinner:  My family, three of our friends, another pack-mate of ours, and two friends he brought… and Nitro.  Unfortunately, it was karaoke night at the restaurant we choose, so we had to endure some painful sounds.  Ug.

Back at the con, we went to some show… I can’t even remember what the hell it was b/c I was back on the floor worshiping my Alpha’s feet the whole time – w/ him occasionally slapping my face to keep me in submissive headspace.  He’s been training me to fetishize his feet for about a year now, and the training is really starting to take root: I see/smell his naked feet and I start drooling and getting hard.  I ended up back in our room for some sexy fun w/ Alpha, his boyfriend, and his Sir.  Alpha did the most amazing job of staging a different kind of sexy-fun scene each night!  This night he reduced me to a brainless sex-animal.  He started by getting me sucking his alpha-cock.  I should pause to say: I’m locked in chastity and at this point it had been 144 days since Alpha had let me out to cum.  Yes… 144 days.  So obviously I was already a very horny wolfhound.  So, I’m sucking his alpha-cock and he spits on my face.  I’m sucking cock and feeling this huge, warm gob of spit slowly sliding down my face and eventually reaching my mouth…  fucking heaven!  That sent me into such a sexed-up subby headspace!  For the next several minutes there, I couldn’t think of anything but to obey and suck cock at Alpha’s command!  Seriously, if 10 strangers walked into the room and Alpha said, “Suck each dick,” it wouldn’t have occurred to me to question or hesitate.  My Alpha put me to work rotating among sucking him, his Sir, and his boyfriend, until they all got off (and I was left horny and frustrated, of course – locked in chastity like good betas are supposed to be).  That will probably go down as a lifetime memory of one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever had!  And it was only Night One…



FRIDAY

I pulled on one of my latex body suits and my rubber puppy mask, inserted my tail, and taught my Puppy Play 101 class w/ my Alpha and omega playing on the floor in pup mode.  Alpha managed not to hurt himself or knock anyone out of their chair this year.  Actually the class went very well.  We then did family photos in the dungeon sans Owner b/c she had something else she had to go take care of.



We checked out the venders’ room before it was time to teach Puppy 201.  Both classes were well attended and, in fact, this was the best 201 class we’ve ever done.  Lots of great audience participation!  We received a lot of complements.  Off-duty the rest of the night, I put on my black Spider-man symbiote costume, and we tried to find some room parties but failed.  So we mostly hung out downstairs.  Where were all the room parties this year?????



Eventually, we ended up back in the room for Night Two of sexy-fun.  This time, Alpha had gotten me to beg for him to have sex his Sir and not me.  (Alpha can pretty much get me sexed-up enough to want whatever he tells me I want, and at this time it was a matter of convencing me how much better it would be watching him fuck another man.)  So after begging, Alpha did have sex w/ his Sir and had two orgasms, while I, his beta, sat on the floor and watched, throbbing helplessly in my cock-cage.  Alpha then allowed me to sleep on the floor beside his bed, a frustrated but helpless little cuckhound.  *wags*

SATURDAY

We had to get an early start today b/c we co-sponsored the Petting Zoo at 10am.  There was a great turn-out!  Lots of pups, kittens, two or three lizards, a donkey, a horse-girl, and a hucow.  Alpha was the best Hnadler for us all.  After that fun, I went to go spend time w/ my lovely Owner.  We wandered the venders’ room… until it was time for her Endorphin Soup ritual.  Alpha joined us, along w/ his boyfriend, and my Owner’s boyfriend.  I can’t really explain much about the ritual, except to say it was very powerful and everyone involved was touched by it.  I was incredibly proud of my Owner!  She amazes me.

Alpha and I had to run directly from the ritual to our puppy mosh.  Fortunately, my omega and Alpha’s Sir got everything set-up and started.  The mosh was fun and, once again, we had a good turn-out.

 Now we were, finally, completely “off-duty” for the rest of the con.  I spent some quiet time w/ Ma’am while Alpha had some quiet time w/ his Sir… and then I went and relaxed in the hotel’s hot tub w/ my little omega.  (My life does not suck.)  We got out of the spa, met-up w/ Alpha and his Sir and, after dinner, went down to the hypnotist show.  The show was okay if a little schlocky – basically the same show I’ve seen many times at Ren Fair.  The kinky stuff Alpha was programmed to do by his Sir was more interesting.  From there it was back to our room for more sexy-fun time.  Alpha chained me to the bed, removed my cock cage and beat me, bit me, and edged me until I, finally, after 146 days, came HARD!

Eventually I came back to earth.  Locked back in chastity, I put on my rubber shorts and harness, we put the omega pup in a straight jacket, and we went out to find room parties.  We found two.  Drank, talked, reveled…  Once, I let the omega wander off in his straightjacket – Alpha fussed at me. We found him.  At some point we ended up back in our hotel room, and once again Alpha allowed his beta to sleep on the floor at his bedside.  *wags*

This little summery of events just doesn’t do justice to the fun we had (and several important thing I’m omitting b/c they are personal).  My Owner was just awe-inspiring in her strength and always looked beautiful.  Hypno-controlled Alpha was oh-my-gods sexy.  Omega was not only all cute and adorable, but indispensably helpful in his service to me and Alpha.  Very good boy!  And I love Ma’am’s boyfriend, Alpha’s boyfriend… and meeting Alpha’s new Sir was delightful.  Wonderful, wonderful time with my family!

P.S.

But I’m not done!  I have a post-credits sequence.   Few days after con, Alpha joined me for a date-night in Chattanooga, TN.  I needed some quieter, one-on-one time w/ my Sir, and he was kind enough to oblige me.  We walked together and talked for a couple of hours, had dinner, walked a little more (he even let me hold hands some b/c he’s such a romantic - Not)…  Eventually we ended up in bed for a post-Frolicon bonus sexy-fun scene!  More humiliation… Alpha broke me down hard and fast that night before aggressively, painfully milking me.  This orgasm was even better than Saturday night’s.  He let me sleep w/o my cock-cage, and even the next morning I woke-up rock hard and in a floaty, subby headspace…

Summery:  great sex, erotic hypnosis, transformative ritual, brave and lovely Owner, wonderful chosen family, so much love, successful classes and moshes… and more great sex!  Woof!  Wolfhound is happy.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

2016 Year in Review, Part Two

Twenty more questions about my year...

21. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas home at the Treehouse this year; Ma’am was road-weary and wanted to stay home.  We had a lot of great friends and chosen family come visit us between Christmas and New Years including Poet, Cuddles, Hunter, Daniel, Randolph, and more!

22. Did you fall in love?
I still love my beautiful Owner and my wonderful pack-mates.

23. Have any one-night stands?
Sex was very good – again – this year!  Starting with a really hot hook-up at MAL and continuing on though some very sexy scenes with my Alpha, and along the way there was sex with a rubber boy in a vac bed.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Jessica Jones and Stranger Things were really impressive and I finally got to see Avatar … but I think I might have to go w/ Outlander as number one b/c – Scotland!

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
One jackass doctor; one lying sociopath in Tennessee; the lazy, narcissistic, pathologically lying, racist, man-baby who is our President-elect – and his cabinet of horrors!  (Too much hate in 2016!)

26. What was the best book you read?
Read lots of Scotland stuff: Scottish history, travel, Rob Roy, Robert the Bruce… Outside of that, I gobbled up both of Glen Wheldon’s books on Superman and Batman.

27. What was your favorite new music of 2016?
Leonard Cohen and David Bowie’s final albums were both really good.  We’ve also listened to a lot of electro-swing this year.

28. Best new podcast?
I enjoyed binge listening to Now Playing while painting the kitchen ceiling.  Also shout outs for Code Switch and StoryWonk’s Story and Star Wars.

29.  What did you want and get?
A second latex bodysuit…  and I wanted to get my Alpha into a sexy, latex bodysuit, and I got that, too.  (And even the omega got a spandex bodysuit.  Yay!)

30. What did you want and not get?
A president-elect who isn’t a narcissistic, misogynist, islamophobic, racist man-baby

31. What was your favorite film of this year?
What a good film year!  Jungle Book, Captain America Civil War, and Arrival were all A+ films!  But my very favorite is Kubo and the Two Strings.

32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Forty-one.  Spent the weekend in Chattanooga with Hunter, John, and Daniel, and Daniel’s son had a psychotic break and cussed out the people living in the ceiling.

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less psychotic drug users in Chattanooga!  Seriously.

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
I got a really nice, second-hand leather vest in Glasgow, Scotland.

35. What kept you sane?
Scotland!  And some other good times spent w/ friends and loved ones.

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
It could be Tom Holland’s Spider-man, but he might be a touch too young for me. So, the winner is Catriana Balfe’s Clare Randall – two years in a row for a strong, smart feminist protagonist.  (But Tom Holland does look very nice in his Spidy underoos.)

37. What political issue stirred you the most?                           
Oh, god – oh, god – we’re all going to die.

38. Who did you miss?
Timm.  Wish he could have joined us in Scotland.

39. Who was the best new person you got to know?
I don’t know if I got to know any new people this year…?  Except online.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
Fuck 2016.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review, Part One

20 Questions About My Year

1. What did you do this year that you'd never done before?
Visited Scotland, got a doctor fired from our local hospital, marched with Cuddles in NC Pride, and pissed off my friend, Daniel.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
“Do a new comic book review each week [and] write a couple of adventures for a new game system my friend John is developing.”  Nope.
Resolution for 2017:  I’d love to try a do-over on those resolutions… But really, I want to try this project whereby, in 2016, I revisit some of my favorite/most influential books and documentaries more or less in order of how I encountered them from roughly 1993 to 2003.  So I’m going to re-read Dune, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Jung’s Man and His Symbols, etc., and re-watch The Power of Myth and the Day the Universe Changed…etc.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Sir Alan.  We also lost a lot of celebrities this year, from Alan Rickman to Leonard Cohen.

5. Did anyone close to you get married?
Andy.

6. What places did you visit?
Scotland!  And a fun weekend in DC with Hunter and Loki.

7. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?
Well, I didn’t lack a motorcycle this year, but I would love to have a newer one next year.

8. What day from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
All seven days in Scotland (good), and the night they kicked us out of the ER then rushed Kitten into emergency surgery the next morning (bad).

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I was a helpful puppy for my Owner and for Poet.  I got the asshole doctor who almost killed Kitten fired from that hospital.  I’ve helped Poet clean and fix up his house to sell.  I tried to be a good tour guide puppy in Scotland.  Helpful puppy was helpful.

10. What was your biggest failure?
Maybe not as helpful to one of my best friends whom I inadvertently pissed off and then there was an unfortunate period of months where he wasn’t really speaking to me.  That was sad

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I think I did okay – everyone else was in and out of the hospital!

12. What was the best thing you bought?
Ma’am’s awesome sweater-coat, “Shadow Roses.”

13. Whose behavior merited a celebration?
I’m very proud of my lovely Owner. She began this year after a brush w/ death feeling very afraid and unsure of herself… by the end of the year I had seen her really conquer her fear: refusing to hide in the closet, bite her tongue or “roll over and take it.”

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Max’s (now ex-)boyfriend who turned out to be a nasty piece of human garbage. …Oh, wait, that’s the same thing I wrote last year.  How about a certain asshole ER doctor who sent my Owner home to die?  Those are two men I wouldn’t mind seeing bad shit happen to.

15. Where did most of your money go?
Scotland.

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Scotland!  Also, we got to see Labyrinth on the big screen, and that was really cool; and I’m also going to add teaching pup classes and doing the mosh and Puppy Olympics at Frolicon.  And I'll add that the CAPEX Pig Pick'n was extra-cool this year: we had our own private island! 

17. What song will always remind you of this year?
I really liked the song “Lost Boy” by Ruth B, “Let’s Hear it for the Dogs” by the Proclaimers, “You Want it Darker” by Leonard Cohen, “Dairy Queen” by Power Bottom, and “Speak When You’re Spoken to” by Spook School.  I think the one that will remind me most of this year will be “You Want it Darker” because I feel like 2016 has been taunting us all with that question since January.

18. Compared to this time last year, you are:
More afraid for the world… and also more of a whisky drinker.

19. What do you wish you'd done more of?
More time in Scotland.  If we had one more day I would have loved to see Loch Lomund and Castle Dumbarton.

20. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Trying to keep the lives of my loved ones from either ending or just going off the rails.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Reality has a Liberal Bias

 This is the third post in, loosely, a series, as I try to process the election on Donald Trump and what I consider to be he most dangerous and fragile state America has been in in my lifetime.  I wrote first about the false equivalence of making Trump the conservative equivalent of Obama/Clinton – i.e. normalizing Trump.  In my second post, I expressed the irritation I have with the Right over its insistence on presenting opinions or faith (or outright falsehoods) as if they are the same as actual, provable facts.  (And I'm not anti-religious and don't de-value faith; but it's a choice and a personal belief and not the same as shared, objective reality.)

Earlier in the year I saw Newt Gangrich being interviewed and he kept talking about rising violent crime, and the reporter challenged him by pointing out that violent crime rates across the country have actually dropped during the Obama administration, and Newt countered with, “But people feel less safe.”  And he stuck by that, repeating it more than once in the interview.  Answering actual facts only with subjective feelings, but asserted as if they were of equal importance.

Much more recently, President-elect Trump claimed (with no evidence at all – i.e. incorrectly!) that there were millions of cases of voter fraud.  (There were 4 confirmed cases.)  Mike Pence went on TV and defended Trump’s baseless claim (i.e. lie!) by saying, “He’s entitled to his opinion.”  He said that three times in the interview, and I just wanted the reporter to scream at him, “OPINIONS ARE NOT FACTS!”  An opinion is like, “Mushrooms are gross,” not, “Millions of people committed voter fraud.”  But the mainstream media is so obsessed with “neutrality” (over factual accuracy) that they have created these nightmares of false equivalences where opinions, tastes, internet conspiracy theories (fucking Pizzagate!!), and baseless claims are put on the same level as actual, provable facts.  So still today 60% of Trump voters believe Obama is a Muslim even though there is literally no evidence supporting this ridiculous claim… at the same time, more than that number denies man-made climate change even though there is a fucking mountain of evidence.

You probably heard about the pro-Trump, white nationalists rally in DC at which the audience railed against the “Lügenpresse.”  That’s an old Nazi term meaning, “Lying press.”  The Nazis were (also) always railing against the “lying press” b/c fascism can’t tolerate reality.  Their whole system is built upon a heap of lies, distortions and nutty conspiracy theories, so part of the trick of fascism is to attack the press as liars and facts as “your opinion.”  This is why one of my favorite sayings of late has been, “Reality has a liberal bias.”

TYT Network posted an extended interview with a white supremacist organizer.  He was very articulate and had clearly thought long and hard about his answers… but at some point, of course, his views all break down for obvious reasons.  Watching it, the third false equivalence of the Trump-right became obvious: white Christians (mostly men) feeling victimized and oppressed by liberal “political correctness” – acting like us asking them not to be a bigot is the same as them taking away the rights of LGBTQs, blacks, Muslims, and other minorities.

Newsflash:  Canceling Duck Dynasty because the stars are homophobic bigots is not equivalent to denying same-sex couples the right to marriage.  Nobody has a special right to star in a TV show, but all consenting adults do have the right to get married… or rent an apartment, or be served in a restaurant, or use a public bathroom.  LGBTQ people aren’t asking for special, extra rights; we are only asking to have the same rights straight people have.

I think I first really noticed this trend with Kim Davis, that obnoxious bitch who, as a Court Clerk, refused to sign off on same-sex marriages because (she claimed) it was against her religion.  You had all these asshole Christens (and, no, I don’t think all Christians are assholes) rally around her claming that us asking the not to impose on our rights and pleas treat us as equal was somehow us oppressing them and us discriminating against them… you know, by removing their power to discriminate against others.  This was so insane – and yet this warped resentment, this sense that the white, Christian, patriarchal majority is somehow being oppressed and having their rights trampled on simply by us asking them not to trample on others and treat others as equals, this resentment became, it seems to me, the energy driving the engine of the Trump machine.
  
In “What Was the Nerd? The myth of the bullied white outcast loner is helping fuel a fascist resurgence,” Willie Osterweil lays out this argument:  “Today’s American fascist youth is neither the strapping Aryan jock-patriot nor the skinheaded, jackbooted punk: The fascist millennial is a pasty nerd watching shitty meme videos on YouTube, listening to EDM, and harassing black women on Twitter. Self-styled “nerds” are the core youth vanguard of crypto-populist fascist movements… The myth of nerd oppression let every slightly socially awkward white boy who likes sci-fi lay his ressentiment at the feet of the nearest women and people of color… The Gamergate movement… engaged in widespread coordinated harassment of women and queer people in the gaming world in a direct attempt to purge non-white-male and non-right-wing voices, all the while claiming they were the actual victims...”

So this is the third big false equivalence coming from the Trump-right.  You have these groups (whites, men, Christians) who have been on top for a long time and now they are pissed off at being asked to let others (blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ, Latino, women) be on equal footing with them… and they twist it around so that THEY feel victimized.  And I think this lies at the hart of the Right’s hatred for “political correctness” – which to them is some kind of oppressive infringement on their rights, and to us simply means, “Hey, don’t be a dick to people, okay?”  Someone points out to you that it’s not cool to make fun of disabled people or use the n-word, and you respond like you are the one being victimized!?

These two things are not equivalent!  If someone with more power and more privilege punches down on you or oppresses you or denies you the same rights and freedoms they enjoy then you are being victimized.  If someone with less power, privilege and clout than you demands that you stop victimizing them, that does not make you a victim!  You do not get to feel righteous anger at not being able to punch down on people; people getting punched down upon do get to feel righteous anger at you for bullying and oppressing them.  Because the oppression you (white, Christian, straight man) feel is in your head (“War on Christmas!?”  Seriously?)  While the oppression and bullying and double-standard experienced by African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and even the female half of the population) exists in actual reality.