Thursday, January 30, 2014

Poly, Parents, Puppies, and being Incognito

So this is about a fun weekend w/ my family and also about being poly – ups and downs.  (And it’s also about how to tell if a dungeon/club is cool or not.)

Last weekend, Ma’am, Poet and I were invited to a “private” party in Atlanta Saturday night.  (We’ll come back to the quotes.)  Friday night, we got invited to dinner at Poet’s parents’ house. I was really excited to have a chance to meet his folks, about whom I’ve already heard a lot about from Shdwkitten – all good.  Now, there’s one odd part here, and it’s one of those things you will probably have to deal w/ if you are poly.  His family all know Shdwkitten as his girlfriend… but only his mom knows that Kitten is also married to another guy, so I had to be introduced as Kitten's “housemate.”

I’m basically cool w/ this.  I understand that not everybody is going to be comfortable w/ polyamory – especially if it’s their son involved.  But I didn’t want to never be introduced to his family, so that means playing the role of the “housemate.”  Sure it’s a tad dishonest… but I think each adult individual has the right to decide how much they want their parents to know about their private/dating life.  Around Ma’am’s parents, we are completely out about being kinky, poly – everything.  Around my family, I can be Kitten’s husband but not her puppy.  Around poet’s family, I have to be the housemate and we’re all vanilla.  So I think there are situations where such “white lies” are justified.  What do you think?

For my part, it felt awkward pretending to be Kitten’s housemate and not her husband – or her huspup – mostly b/c we usually tend to be affectionate a lot by holding hands, petting, nuzzling, etc.  But it was great to meet Poet’s family.  His folks are pretty cool and the conversation was always interesting.  I really enjoyed the evening.

Saturday started off w/ me buying Ma’am a HUGE, freaking stuffed tiger – as in, barely fits in the back seat of the car huge.  We saw him in the window of a furniture shop, and she had to have him.  I loved watching my Owner giggle and do a happy dance I paid for it.  Then we hit the road for Atlanta.

So here’s where another one of those challenges of polyamory comes up.  We were talking about poly relationships in the car.  (The previous weekend the three of us drove to Chattanooga to visit friends and family, and we listened to the NoSafeWord podcast on poly along the way – so we’ve had enough to think and talk about.)  One thing we’ve been dealing w/ is the issue of having or not having a “primary” relationship.  For many years, Ma’am dated other people w/ the explicit understanding that I was always going to be her primary relationship.  She even had that on her profile on one of her dating sites: something like, “I’m not looking for my ‘one true love;’ I’ve already found that.”  Even when she got married to another woman in 2011 (while she was already married to me), it was made clear that her relationship w/ me would come first – and her wife also had a husband so it was also clear that that was her primary partner.  Either Ma’am or I might date other people, sleep w/ other people, or even love other people – but at the end of the day, we came first, our marriage came first.

That kind of changed for Ma’am over the last few months.  I think it started b/c when things began to go south w/ her now-ex-wife, her wife began to use this “Well, I’m secondary, so I come before any other people you might want to date” bullshit as a way of keeping Kitten from dating/loving other people.  (Ma'am's ex had jealousy issues and really didn’t need to be doing poly – which for her was just a way to step-out on her husband w/o “cheating” b/c she didn’t love him any more and they ended up getting divorced anyway… but that’s another story entirely.)  It came to leave a bad taste in my Owner’s mouth.  She started saying she wasn’t comfortable w/ the term “primary” anymore… and while we were driving to Atlanta Saturday, she went further and said she “detested the term.  Strong word.

Okay, let me pause here and clarify, for those who don’t know, that “poly” means different things to different people and there are many ways of doing poly.  The most common model has a couple who are in a primary relationship who also, individually (more common) or together (less common), date other people.  One relationship trumps others in terms of time, resources and commitment level: this is the one I share a bank account w/ and share a mortgage w/ and will grow old and retire w/… and if I can come back in the next life w/ someone, it will be this one.  There’s another, less common, form of poly that usually takes the form of a triad or a quad (I question if it’s really possible to do this w/ more than four people involved) where everyone is equally involved w/ everyone.  This is the version that looks like a parent of multiple children: you don’t put anyone first; everybody is on an equal footing.  This poly structure is less common, and I imagine it mostly occurs in situations where either everybody lives together or nobody lives together.  In my mind, the first version looks more like a molecule w/ two “primary” atoms bound-together at its core, holding the center, and other relationships branching off from those… and the other version is just more like those auto window stickers w/ the stick-people representing the family: everybody is standing together in-line on an equal footing.

I’m not saying any one way is right or wrong or “twue” poly.  But as far as my comfort zone, I really am most comfortable w/ the primary commitment version.  I have no issue telling anybody that at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, Shdwkitten is the most important person in my life.  Ours is the most important relationship, the biggest commitment – she is my life partner, my spouse, my Owner, my best friend, the love of my life… that’s a dedication that trumps everything else.  I proudly call her my primary partner.  And I can be up front w/ anyone about that.  I can lay those cards on the table.  I can be in a fantastic D/s relationship w/ Loki, but Sir is perfectly aware that my Owner will always come first in my life (and he’s also married as well, so that works).

Ma’am and I have been together for nine years, and were both were on the same page… until recently, and now I feel like she’s moving toward something that might be a little outside of my comfort zone – or maybe I just haven’t yet figured out how to make it work for me.  However, let me be very clear that this has absolutely nothing to do w/ her other partners.  Both Lilith and Poet are AWESOME!  I love having them in my family, wouldn’t trade them for anything, and if anyone ever messed w/ them, they would have to deal w/ a potentially quite dangerous wolfhound (“Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.”)

So let me break from the abstract and return to my narrative, and talk more about the positives of poly…

We had a good ride to Atlanta where we were attending a party at a new dungeon: Incognito.  We thought it was a private event, and I think it was originally supposed to be, but as it turns out there was apparently some miscommunication or something, and it turned out to be open to the public.  Had we known that, we’d have invited the pack to join us…  This was our first time at Incognito.  It’s a good space w/ a lot of great potential.  Huge!  It’s twice the size of 1763 (Atlanta’s other, older dungeon).  They have about 6 or 8 crosses, 4 or 5 spanking benches, a medical table and a couple of massage tables, 6 or 8 ceiling chains for doing suspensions – and a pool table.  It doesn’t yet have some of the cool, unique equipment that 1763 and LaFortress have (like the spider web, the jungle gym, or LF’s birdcage…) but they are still a new operation.  And the place still looks like a warehouse, but they are slowly working on redecorating.  Other bonuses: It’s more sex-positive than 1763, and it’s also cheaper.  The warehouse is used by a weekly magazine to distribute from – but they only use it one day a week and only use about 1/4 of the space – but since that pays for the building, Incognito doesn’t have to be as profit motivated as 1763; they can charge less and also be more community supportive.  I still also like 1763 and LF, but I think Incognito is going to stay around and grow.  They’re off to a good start.

I got to meet some cool new people – especially MitaBear (on Fet) who is delightful.  What a fun guy!  Ma’am let me get my pup gear on.  I got to wear my tail for the first time since the hernia surgery and my leather pup mask (both from  A couple of strangers introduced themselves and (w/ Ma’am’s permission) gave me pets and scritches.  I heard that earlier that day they had a fursuiter there.  I have decided you can rate how cool a place is by how welcoming they are to pups and furries in the dungeon.  One guy (who gave me a lot of head scitches) recommended I look at – an Atlanta-based operation.  I think I’ve seen them at SELF but don’t have any of their gear – but I’m passing the tip along, so there you go...

I had also requested that Ma’am let Poet start to work w/ me more as a handler.  They have taken to referring to me as “our pup,” so I figured this would help me see Poet more as handler who I belong to. I like being the family puppy… and I figure that if Lilith is going to bugger me then the least Poet can do is play fetch w/ me now and then.  (And since I mentioned this, Ma’am now wants to do a photo shoot w/ Poet in military uniform w/ me on-leash.  What do you think?)

Well, this is getting too damn long.  Quickly:  Sunday, Poet, Shdwkitten and their puppy went over to Loki’s house.  Sir invited the pack over for a cook-out.  Unfortunately we had to hit the road and couldn’t stay for food (which looked yuuuuuumy!), but it was good to see that pack for an hour or two, and Ma’ma fell in love w/ Sir’s foster doggie and wants to adopt him.  (*sigh*)

Bottom line:  Being poly has challenges, complications and compromises… but when you have really wonderful, loving, fun people and puppies in your family and pack, it’s worth it!  And I have the best!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Defense of Political Correctness

I’m a public servant.  I work in a public building.  Today, I was in the workspace of a coworker I don’t usually interact with.  The very first thing I noticed was the (I counted) eight pictures of John Deer tractors hanging up.  I thought it odd, but, okay, whatever.  I guess she has John Deer fetish.  I mean if I had eight pictures of Yamaha motorcycles up in my workspace you might (correctly) assume I have a fetish for them.  (I have only one hanging up, thank you very much.)  The second thing I noticed was the Christian poster and the four laminated Bible quotes on the wall.  Personally, I think that’s inappropriate in a public building.  Just in general, I’m  not big on public displays of religion.  I mean, even bumper stickers and such, I’m like – why!?  Why do you feel the need to put that out there?  I mean, if you really believe in an omniscient god, then isn’t your faith between you and that god?  I don’t know… 

Then…  Then, I noticed the Duck Dynasty mouse pad.

Now – just in case you don’t know, Duck Dynasty was this so-called “reality” TV show about a family of rednecks in Louisiana that (for some damn reason) was very, very popular before the network (A&E) pulled it after the “cast” made some public statements that were derogatory toward gay people.

“Political correctness” (PC) has a bad rap in America.  Sure, like many things PC can be taken too far.  My mom (who usually has very good taste) doesn’t like Mel Brooks b/c almost all of his humor is chauvinistic, racist, and ethnic.  There is nothing PC about Mel Brooks!  But… I love him.  He can get away w/ it b/c he’s Mel fucking Brooks, and the old rule of humor still applies: humor and irony trump everything – IF you can pull it off (and Mel always does).  But maybe I don’t really think Mom is taking PC too far; maybe that’s just her tastes.  I guess the stereotype of taking PC too far is being soooooo overly-sensitive about offending anybody that you go way, way, way out of your way not to say anything even remotely offensive.  I can’t think of an example right now, but you get the idea.

But I got to thinking, and I think that exaggerated caricature of PC is maybe not what it’s about.  Here’s my theory:  PC is about what is considered acceptable and what is considered shameful to say in public.

I can actually remember the first time I encountered racism, which is probably unusual for a white guy.  I was very small, maybe even just 5, and we were on vacation at the beach, and my Dad asked some guy for directions.  The man replied (I can still hear it all in my head), “Well, like the niggers say, you can’t get there from here.”  Big laughs.  Mom laughed.  Dad laughed.  My brother and I laughed b/c our parents were laughing.  Later, Mom told us that we shouldn’t repeat that b/c nigger was not a nice word.  Okay, clearly this guy was no Mel Brooks, but let me say, in my parents defense, neither of them were particularly racists people – but Dad was born in the ‘37 and Mom in ’44 – that was their generation, and c.1980 that was still acceptable for people to talk like and joke about.

But that’s the point.  See, today it would be wildly unacceptable for casual (white) strangers to just toss off a “nigger” joke – unless they are full-on, KKK-type racists.  Obviously lots of people still talk like that in private, but in our public discourse that has become so unacceptable and shameful that you don’t see that anymore.  Witness: Paula Dean.

Another example.  I love James Bond.  I love Sean Connery as Bond.  But holy crap, there is a lot of stuff in the Connery movies that is so “rapey.”  He frequently goes beyond chauvinistic to misogynistic.  In Goldfinger he physically rapes Pussy Galore – pins her down and rapes her.  In Thunderball he blackmails his nurse into having sex w/ him.  And in several movies he literally smacked girls around and beat them in cooperating w/ him.  Sure I love those movies, but they are so a product of the 1960’s, and thank ye gods that would be totally unacceptable today.  Not that I want to see a fully PC James Bond; Bond should always be a bit of a chauvinist b/c that’s his character – that’s who he is: an arrogant, sexist prick who uses women and tosses them away – he’s meant to be an anti-hero, after all.  But could you imagine a scene in which Daniel Craig smacked a girl around or raped her?  No.  Not in 2014.

One more example.  Just 5 or 6 years ago it was very common to hear “gay” used as a general pejorative.  “That is so gay.”  “This is so gay.” (i.e. It sucks; I don’t like it.)  I still hear that from time to time, but nowhere near as much as I used to.  Gradually, it’s becoming socially frowned upon.  10 years from now, it may even be downright shameful.

So that’s what PC is about.  It’s not about: you can’t laugh at Mel Brooks.  Hell, yeah, you can laugh at Mel Brooks b/c he’s hysterical.  And, yes, you can still enjoy watching Goldfinger and love Sean Connery – despite it being very rapey, you can take it for what it is and when it was made.  But what PC is about is the way the limits of socially acceptable discourse have shifted.  In the 60’s, 70’s, and ‘80’s, people openly did and said things that would be too shameful today.  That’s positive movement.

And maybe in the not distant future someone would be ashamed to have a Duck Dynasty mouse pad on their desk in a place where they work w/ the public – including, of course, a lot of LBGT people.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Charlotte MAsT: How to be Exclusive w/o Drama

So there’s been a fracas on Fet over the Charlotte MAsT chapter switching to a more exclusive and vetted group strictly for those in live-together M/s relationships.  Let’s start w/ this: Personally, I’ve never been to a MAsT meeting.  I was invited a few times, years ago, by Master_Kevin.  I declined because I’m not a “slave” and I’m not in an M/s relationship – I’m a puppy, the pet of my fantastic Owner and a beta in the pack of my way cool Alpha.  Kevin, at that time, assured me that this was no biggie b/c everyone who had something to contribute of whatever relationship type was welcome.  Obviously the thinking has changed since then and the decision was made to take the group in a new direction – but the point I wanted to start w/ is that I have never been to a MAsT meeting and never really had an interest in one.  This pup has no dog in this fight, okay?

But it does touch on something I’ve been blogging about for a little while.

Here I said: ““It’s stupid to say that every club/event/party needs to be pansexual and inclusive… and it’s stupid to say that none should be.  Not every group or space needs to be open to everybody at all times and that is okay.  Balance is good.  All of that being said, there is a form of exclusivity that, I believe, has no place in our community.  The we-are-better-than-you bullshit.  I’ve not encountered a lot of this first-hand, but I’m hearing (second hand) about this going on a lot more.  This attitude of our way is the TRUE way.  If you don’t do M/s like this then you’re not a TRUE Master/slave.   If you’re not old-school leather then you’re not the real deal – you’re just a kinkster.  What a bunch of BS!  That’s a kind of exclusivity that we don’t need anywhere… I can say “M/s is not any better than other kinky dynamics,” and still support a MAST chapter which is an exclusively M/s group… b/c it’s not a blanket rejection (i.e. 'the rest of you aren’t as good as us'); it’s just a definition of what kind of group you have.”

And here I said: “I love that there are leather folks and boot-blacks mingling w/ puppies and furriers and rubber fetishists and diaper fetishists and swingers and drunken hedonists.  It’s fucking fantastic! … The bottom line is: Don’t be a snob.  Don’t be a jerk.  Don’t be that idiot that Race Bannon rather un-wisely re-posted on his blog.  Don’t be an asshole.  We are all in a sub-group in a sub-group of a minority.  The least we can do is be cool to our fellow sub-sub-sub-groupies.”

Look, I’m Mr. Inclusively.  I’m not “traditional” Old Leather – I’m very New Leather (or, as I prefer, Leather Light).  In my family (recently conveniently flow-charted by Loki – which cracks me up) we have straights, gays, and bisexuals.  Men and women.  We have baby boomers, gen-x’ers, and millennials.  We have furries, puppies, kittens, concubines, Alphas, boys, slaves, primals and poets.  We’re a diverse family and we like it!  As I like to say: Nature loves diversity even when society tends to prefer sameness.  But diversity is healthy.
Does that mean I will never support or attend exclusive venues?  No.  One of my favorite gigs is Atlanta Dominion, Atlanta’s only recurring ALL MALE dungeon party.  Now, it is kind of a bummer that my Owner can’t attend and that my female wolf puppy pack-mate can’t attend… However, everybody understands that Dominion isn’t excluding females b/c it’s some elitist bullshit and the guys who run it (who happen to be my Sir and his Mentor) aren’t just being stuck-up pricks or anything.  Rather, they (Sir and Master Dan) saw there was a need in the community for this venue and they stepped-up to fill that niche.  (And they’ve done it so well that the group has steadily grown; this month’s was the largest turn-out yet.  Go us!)  THAT’S what I meant about “Don’t be an asshole.”  It’s one thing to say, “We are restricting this group to X demographic b/c that’s our niche” – Whippersnappers, for example, is age 20 to 39 only – but it’s entirely different to say (or come across like), “We are superior to you and our way is the TRUE way.”  I’ll say it again, there is no place for that kind of BS in our community and people who act like that deserve to be called out.

A few months ago I lost a lot of respect for Race Bannon b/c, in my eyes, he crossed the asshole line by moving from advocating for the former, okay, reasonable type of exclusivity to the latter, asshole, we’re-better-than-you type.  (To be fair to Bannon, it wasn’t so much what he said himself, but he uncritically lent his support to some dickhead who wrote a sophomoric and offensive tirade.)  You can advocate for the former exclusivity (which I do) while denouncing the latter (which I do).

As far as MAsT is concerned, I’ve always supported their right to have such an exclusive group, and I’ll still exercise my right not to attend.  (Although I guess now I’m not invited anyway, but I’m okay w/ that.)  The Charlotte kink community is a very welcoming and over-all inclusive one, so there are plenty of venues for kinksters, fetishists, leatherboys/leathergirls, young and old to come together and mingle.  You still have CAPEX, Lynx, Traveling Munch, Midweek Munch, Bondage Brunch…  And you still also have more niche operation like the Dom SIG, the Sub SIG, the FemDom Society, Charlotte TNG… and MAsT.

Takeaway lesson for community leaders:  Drama doesn't come from having a group/event exclusive to a particular niche - it comes from being or coming across like a stuck-up, judgmental asshole.  If you’re going to create an exclusive group (be it just for men, just for TNG, just for M/s relationships, just for pups and Handlers, etc.) be very mindful that you don’t cross the asshole line or come across that way.  If you do, you probably deserve the blow-back you’re likely going to get.

(And now I sit back and wait to see how many wise-ass comments I get from my gay readers regarding getting "blow-back" from "crossing the asshole line.")

Monday, January 13, 2014

Atlanta Dominion: two orgasms, a 7 iron, and numerous of puppies

Yes, friends, it was one of “those” weekends.  ;)

Friday evening, my lovely Owner and I drove down to SC to the Poet’s house.  He had a home cooked meal and a tasty variety of micro-beers waiting for us.  We watched Pacific Rim (a visually neat, watchable popcorn film, but ultimately forgettable – and points off for clumsy exposition) and the BBC’s Top Gear.  I was very happy to be allowed to snuggle up w/ my Owner and the Poet in his bed for the evening.  Since the hernia surgery 3 weeks ago, I haven’t been able to sleep in my kennel (which sits next to Ma’am’s waterbed at home) b/c it’s been too painful to crouch down and get up (and often I have to climb over the two bio-dogs when getting in and out), so I’ve been sleeping (alone) on the spare bed in the guest room/art studio.

Saturday morning, my Owner got the weekend really started right by edging me in bed for like half an hour before she let me cum.  Orgasm #1.  Later Saturday morning found the three of us sheltering from a serious downpour while enjoying breakfast at Cracker-barrel.  Not long after the rain lifted enough, I hit the road for Atlanta, leaving Ma’am and the Poet to entertain themselves.  (They went out to the Warehouse that night and did a very cool-looking cling-wrap suspension – photos on Shdwkitten’s Fetlife.)

I arrived at Loki’s place early in the afternoon.  He greeted me at the door, I with my suitcase in hand, and I think the first thing he said to me was, “Is that over 20 lbs.?”  Then he took my bag away and carried it upstairs for me.  As you already know, I had surgery for a hernia just a few weeks ago.  They cut open my groin and stuffed a plastic mesh in there.  I’m feeling mostly alright now, but I’m still not allowed to lift over 20 lbs. for another month or two… and until I’m fully healed Ma’am won’t allow me to take a beating.  Sir was already informed of this, and so we just planned on doing some puppy play and bondage… maybe breath play… and my Dalmatian pack-mate, Hunter, kindly volunteered himself to take a beating for me.

A few days ago Hunter posted on Twitter that Sir hits like a girl.  That (1) assured that the Alpha was going to beat the crap out of him, and (2) offended my Owner (“What does he mean – hit like a girl!?”) so that she sent one of her evil paddles to Loki for him to hit Hunter with for her.  But not knowing when to quit our Dalmatian got a hold of Sir’s phone and posted on twitter from Sir’s account, “Apparently I do hit like a girl.”  That was probably not a good idea…

The doomed Dalmatian joined us at Sir’s place for dinner (a last mean) and a movie (Mel Brooks – Yay!).  Hunter went on back to his place for the night rather than sleep over.  The next morning I realized that this was probably b/c he didn’t want to be around when we went downstairs to pack.  Keep that in mind…

So “packing for Domionion” has continued to be one of my favorite games.  Sir keeps all his motorcycle gear down in the basement/dungeon, and while he was gathering his stuff for the party, I – just for fun – pulled on one of his sportbike jackets.  Then I pulled his black latex puppy hood on, which he proceeded to clean while I was wearing it (the fun way to clean your latex!).  Me + sportbike jacket + latex puppy hood = hard-on… so we soon ended up on the floor grinding and: Orgasm #2!

So I was doing great.  (I can’t tell you the last time I was allowed to cum twice in one weekend.)  However, things were not looking so rosy for pup Hunter.  While packing, Sir discovered that “the little shit” had taken his acrylic paddle and hidden it somewhere.  We searched about but couldn’t uncover it.  So, I suggested we make this a “teachable moment.”  When you hide the Alpha’s toys, he can always find something worse to hit you with.  I helpfully suggested the shovel…

But Sir wasn’t feeling it.  So, spotting his neglected bag of golf clubs in the corner, I suggested, maybe a 7 iron.  That was the ticket!

So, off to Atlanta Dominion! (After stopping for lunch at Chipotle… where we found the environment to be surprisingly cold, so we took our food to 1763 to eat before Dominion started.)  The party was a blast!  Sure, it was a bummer that I couldn’t get the snot beaten out of me…  But I had an awesome time pupping out and snuggling and scritching and cuddling…  And I really enjoyed rocking my PVC puppy suit w/ Sir’s latex hood.  I loved it!  I think I was drooling inside the hood half the day.  It felt so great, and I got lot’s of complements.

Usually I avoid mirrors when I’m in pup mode b/c seeing myself there (instead of the lanky, shaggy wolfhound I see in my head) messes w/ my mojo – but this was a whole different ballgame.  Every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror in the bodysuit and hood I got hard.  Now, is that not like the definition of narcissism?  What can I say?  I’d do me.

So, early on, Sir gave me a job.  He put a new puppy in a straightjacket w/ black-out hood, and told me to stay in body contact w/ the pup.  He said, “You’re job is to be a comfort puppy today.”  I happily took to this assignment!  My pack-mate Bishop joined me, and we spent a couple of hours petting and snuggling the puppy in the straightjacket while he made very contented growling sounds.  I left them temporarily so I could perch on top of the jungle gym cage and watch Hunter get his beating.  I don’t think he liked the 7 iron very much, and he certainly didn't seem to like Sir using Ma'am's paddle on his balls…

When asked if he'd learned his lesson, Hunter replied, "Yes, remind me never to piss off Shdwkitten."  (One doesn't know whether to laugh of cry.)

More snuggling w/ the pup in the straightjacket… and then Bishop set him free, and I quickly found another puppy to play with: Hercules’ beta pup.

(By the way, I LOVE the fact that at Dominion, when Master Dan is going over the rules before the party begins, that he has to specifically mention, “we have a lot of puppies here…”  LOL.  After being basically the only pup I knew of in the Carolinas for like seven years, I can’t tell you how fucking awesome it is to be at a dungeon party where you can’t throw a squeaky toy w/o hitting a human-pup.)

So, anyway, Hercules stuck his beta pup, Hunter (later replaced by Bishop), and I into the jungle gym cage together, and it was sexy fun time!  I couldn’t wrestle b/c of still recovering from the surgery, so if anyone started to get rough I just rolled over and belly up.  But I could snuggle and pet and hump – and there was a lot of that going on in that cage.  There is something sooooooo hot about two pups wearing pup-hoods “kissing” through the hoods.  Let’s just say that, had I permission, I could have had orgasm #3.

Bishop has already requested that we reconvene this scene when I’m fully healed… and Hercules put in a request for some crash mats at the next Dominion party for a mosh area; a good suggestion for an event that attracts so many puppies.

So, while I wasn’t able to get the snot beat out of me, I did have a really great time, felt awesome to be rocking the PVC/latex pup outfit, and really enjoyed my job as the designated comfort puppy.  Still… It’s just so weird to return from a visit w/ my Alpha and not have any bite marks on me…  But I’m hoping to get some of the pack to come up to CAPEX next month for the big February floor party – by which point I should be mostly healed.  Oh, Bishop….

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Golden Rule: Those w/ the Gold Rule

Aside from marriage equality and sexual freedom, I generally avoid bloging about politics.  But I feel the rare need to climb on to my soapbox and issue a warning and a wake-up call.  I live in NC, which recently underwent some dramatic political upheavals.  Folks in other states need to know our story b/c what happened here is coming your way next.

The leading man in this story is a guy named Art Pope.  Pope is the most influential political money man in NC and a close friend of the billionaire Koch brothers.  In recent years, Pope has spent over $46 million on steering NC to the extreme right and spent millions on misinformation about climate change. Pope, owner of chain super-discount stores like Roses and Maxway, is a smaller version of Sam Walton, essentially using the same Walmart strategy.  He uses his power and influence to deliberately depress the economy so the poor have to buy cheap goods at his stores (where workers are paid poverty wages) and then pours their money back into political actions designed to further depress the economy.

Several years ago Pope purged NC of moderate republicans by financing candidates running to their right.  Then, in 2010 Citizens United (which I think history will ultimately remember as one of the single most stand out moments in the decline and fall of America) opened the floodgates for corporations and the super-rich to pour unlimited amounts of "dark money" into elections.  In 2010, over 75% of the money spent on right-wing candidates and groups (like "Real Jobs NC" - a Pope front) came from Art Pope.

As a result, the far-right Republicans took control of both houses of the NC legislature for the first time since right after the Civil War.  And 2010 was a census year.  That meant the Republicans were able to re-draw the voting distrcits in ways that would be to their advantage.  Art Pope was literally in the room while the districts were gerrymandered.

As a result of he 2010 gerrymandering (and more Art Pope money), in 2012 the far-right Republicans took a veto-proof majority in both houses and the governor's mansion putting them in a position to pass basically any law they want.  During that election I was getting flyers in my mailbox multiple times a week supporting republican candidates and denouncing gay marriage (which already wasn't legal in NC anyway, but almost every piece of mail I received attacked gay marriage) - mostly paid for by Art Pope's "dark money," I'm sure.  And the Governor appointed Art Pope as Budget Director.  So what have they done w/ their new laws and budget?

They cut long-term unemployment assistance.
They blocked a Medicaid expansion, denying healthcare to 500,000 North Carolinians
They cut tax rates for the rich so that the wealthiest individuals paid 20% less taxes than they did in the year before and corporations paid 27% less.
75% of all tax cuts went to the wealthiest 5%.
They repealed the inheritance tax - a tax which only affected the super-rich; in 2011 it only affected 13 people in the state.  The whole point of the tax is to keep big money from piling up in family dynasties, but they axed it.
They cut earned income tax credits for the poor.
The cut pre-K programs and programs for at-risk kids, laid-off thousands of teachers and teacher-assistants, cut school supply budgets by as much as 60%, eliminated tenure and bonus pay for teachers who have master's degrees... all while using vouchers to funnel public money into for-profit schools where less money is spent on the kids so money can go into the pockets of Wall Street investors.
They cut $64 million from NC's higher education system.
They got rid of jobs for environmental regulators.
They cut drug re-hab programs.
They cut $8 million from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program which will amount to about 900 people w/ AIDS who will no longer be able to get their life-saving medication.
NC used to have public campaign financing for appellate judges (b/c obviously you don't want a judge hearing a case where one of the parties contributed to his campaign), but they eliminated that.  Now, big money buys judges too.
They closed 15 out of 16 abortion clinics statewide.
They have attacked voting rights by limiting early voting, eliminating same-day registration, and eliminating pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds.  Why?  B/c they know that most election day voters are older, whiter, and more conservative; while most early voters tend to be younger and more diverse.

This is Art Pope's legacy.  For those of you outside of NC, take this as a little sneak preview of what's coming your way.  Largely b/c of Citizens United, and b/c of America's version of the Golden Rule, one super wealthy individual can almost rule a state.

(Most of the info on here came from and )

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Year in Review (2)

40 questions about my year (Part Two, 21-40):

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Mostly alone.  LOL.  My Owner went to a dinner I wasn’t invited to, and I stayed home and watched James Bond movies.  But it’s not as bad as that – because a few days later we had our Treehouse Yule celebration which was awesome!  We had Ma’am’s parents, a couple of my packmates, Ma’am’s girlfriend and boyfriend, some other wonderful friends of ours, and my old buddy Randolph flew in from Japan for a visit.  Then, Sunday a bunch of us went to the Biltmore Estate (and neither Ma’am nor Sir killed anyone out of frustration).

22. Did you fall in love?
I fall more and more in love w/ my fantastic Owner every year!!!  *licks*

23. Have any one-night stands?
I had a few “stands” but they’ve all been more on-going than one night.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
My favorite TV I watched this year was the first two seasons of Teen Wolf.  I also mostly enjoyed the first season of Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.  On DVD, Ma’am and I have been re-watching my all-time favorite show: Northern Exposure.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
There’s a couple of assholes in Virginia Beach I wouldn’t mind backing over w/ my car once or twice.  Is that hate?

26. What was the best book you read?
I never pick one.  Lonesome Rangers by John Leonard, Arguably by Chris Hitchens, The Trial of Socrates by I.F. Stone, and In Defense of Sanity by GK Chesterton, to name a few.

27. What was your favorite new music of 2013?
Mumford & Sons, Lindsey Sterling, Imagine Dragons, Atoms for Peace…

28. Best podcast?
This is a new question I added this year to recognize the damnable march of soul-crushing technology.  I received an iPad this year and stared following several podcasts.  Favorites right now are The Partially Examined Life, Pop Culture Happy Hour, James Bonding, and No Safe Word.

29.  What did you want and get?
A working hot tub (thank you, Max!), a sexy new motorcycle sportbike jacket, and a sexy PVC body suit (which unfortunately, although I custom ordered the size, its still too short in the arms… but it fits better than my last one which I donated to Dominion’s Lost N Found Youth fundraiser).

30. What did you want and not get?
A rubber puppy hood and rubber pup suit.  It would have to be custom tailored given my Wolfhound stature (6’3”, 160 lbs., and long limbs).  One day…

31. What was your favorite film of this year?
Best A-list film:  It’s either The Hollow Crown series (Richard II, Henry IV 1 & 2, and Henry V) or Saving Mr. Banks (overtly sentimental, but very enjoyable) or Before Midnight (not my favorite of the trilogy, but still great dialogue and fantastic acting).  No, wait.  My favorite was the Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing.
Best B-movie:  Ender’s Game.

32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
There’s a progression here…
2011:  “Thirty-six.  Went to Frolicon, and I got a great pup tail for my birthday!!!  Then I got beat by Loki.”
2012: Thirty-seven.  Went to Frolicon and got a great leather puppy hood, and then got accepted into Loki’s pack!!!
2013: Thirty-eight.  Went to Frolicon and was gifted a fantastic leather-pup vest from Sir and Ma’am!!!

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I will not say “immeasurably” more satisfying, but… the book project Max and I are working on is about 4 or 5 months behind schedule; that’s a bit dissatisfying.  Oh, and more sexy fun time w/ the Kitten would always be more satisfying!  *Makes puppy dog eyes at Shdwkitten*

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
I found a website that has dozens of different Irish wolfhound t-shirts.  Slowly, I’ve been collecting them.  :)

35. What kept you sane?
 My Owner.  Every so often she would say something like: “I know I haven’t always made this an easy year for you, so thank you for being so awesome,” and that little bit of acknowledgement & encouragement means absolutely the world to me.  *wags*

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Oh, watching Miley Cyrus twerk really does it for me.  *maintains a straight face*

37. What political issue stirred you the most?
What Raleigh has done to public education in NC: massive budget cuts, more and more teacher lay-offs, pay-cuts, eliminating tenure and benefits, eliminating bonus pay for teachers w/ a Master’s degree, and shifting money into for-profit schools to line the pockets of Wall Street investors and big technology companies – generally at the expense of the poorest school districts.  *Growls*

38. Who did you miss?
Well I reconnected w/ my old friend Jay.  My ex-girlfriend and her husband came down for a weekend visit.  Randolph flew-in from Japan to spend Christmas w/ us.  We even briefly saw Cheryl… and Hunter moved back to Atlanta.  It was actually a very good year for re-connecting w/ folks.

39. Who was the best new person you got to know?
Got to better know a few great people this year: notably Gareth and new pack-mates Hunter, Gwynn, and Bishop.  All cool people I hope to spend more time w/ in 2014.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Well… I’m 38 and a half.  Assuming I make it to the expected 77 (the average in North Carolina – the top state is Hawaii at 81 and the bottom is Mississippi at 71, by the way) then exactly half my life is already gone.  I don’t feel bad about that – but ambivalent, I guess.  We just finished watching Before Midnight, and one of the themes of that film (which is about a couple in mid-life crises) is the transitory nature of everything.  The setting sun is a dominant image in that movie, and there’s one bit of dialogue I wish I could just quote at length here.  This older lady talking about her late husband observes the paradox that someone can be the center of the universe for another person, they can be so important, and yet in the march of time and history they are totally forgotten and irrelevant.  Meaning (if you find it) comes mostly from being important to other individuals.  Friends and family.  I’m 38 and have a list of things I haven’t (yet) done or places I haven’t seen, but…  Happiness isn’t found in having things or accomplishing things but mostly in being a part of things.  But another side of this impermanence is the idea that how we relate to people changes.  In an interview, Richard Linklater, the director of Before Midnight, says that this is still a romance movie, but love and romance at age 41 after living w/ someone for 9 years isn’t the same as what love and romance was at 32 or 23 (the ages of the characters in the previous two films in the trilogy).  But maybe the point is that at a certain stage of life (mid-life), love becomes about stability w/in impermanence, love becomes ‘I’m not going anywhere.’  There’s an odd paradox in that which I can’t fully tease out just now…  But it’s something worth thinking about…