¡Rábanos Radiactivos!
# 2221

Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2221st Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3669, December 6,2007.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:fredpatten@earthlink.net

Denvention 3 in 2008! Anticipation in 2009! Salamander Press #2704


On Wednesday last I got another DVD from Disney, this time of Meet the Robinsons. I am glad to get it since I was unable to attend ASIFA-Hollywood's free screening of it earlier this year. Unless I like some of the songs in it better than the songs in Ratatouille, the latter will still get my Annie Award votes. How many more 2007 animated features will I receive DVDs of for my voting consideration?

On Thursday my sister Sherrill took me to the LASFS meeting, which was dominated by a huge chocolate birthday cake & ice cream for Joe Zeff's & Marcia Minsky's mother, who was present in a wheelchair to blow out the candles on it. The program was a discussion of Loscon 34. Due to the usual LASFS practice of everybody making some kind of announcement (on their health or whatever) before the program could start, I had to leave almost as soon as it began; but I did register my complaint about people rewriting my history of the LASFS and of the Loscon to put errors into them for the Loscon Program Books. Tadao Tomomatsu said, if I understood him correctly, that there is no way to keep the Program Book editors from making changes in any text submitted to them, too late for anyone else to proofread them and take out the errors. I guess that I will have the only correct copy of the LASFS history and the Loscon history in my computer, then, since the Loscon Program Book has different errors each year. The program started with Loscon 34 T-shirts being given out to the Committee. I would like to recommend that a shirt be donated to the Eaton Collection, which does include fannish convention ephemera.

When I returned to my hospital bed and my computer after the meeting, I had an e.mail from Alene Tchekmedyian of the UCLA Daily Bruin who had phone-interviewed me a couple of weeks previously for an article about Furry fandom. She sent me an electronic copy of the article:

Hidden tails

Long misunderstood furry fandom finds its home on the Internet, at annual conventions

Alene Tchekmedyian (Contact)
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ian Martyn spends a typical day attending lecture, practicing with his musical band and chatting online. But as a furry, he often performs these activities while wearing a tail and a collar.

A subculture that arose in the early 1980s, the furry fandom is characterized by an individual's fascination with anthropomorphic characters. Though the furry movement is not as prevalent at UCLA as other colleges, devoted furries on campus such as Martyn express this movement through art, music, wearing fursuits and attending furry conventions.

Furries often adopt an animal name for their interactions with friends and other furries. Martyn, a fourth-year anthropology and linguistics student, identifies himself as Bucker the Fox.

"I like role playing and thought animals were cool, so I gathered information and talked to other furries. Then I got fully into it," said Martyn.

Furries also engage in a unique form of communication with other group members.

"When I talk to furries online, instead of saying 'hey', I say 'arf' or 'woof.' Instead of sending a happy face, I'll say, 'wags tail.' There is a different dialogue online," he said.

Brett Mommaerts, a second-year electrical engineering student, goes by the persona (known in the furry world as a 'fursona'), Bacon the Margay.

"A couple (of) my friends introduced me to it in high school, and I liked it, so I started meeting other furries in the area, and we all kind of jumped in," he said.

Fursuits - full body costumes that resemble UCLA's Joe Bruin - are also worn during furry parades, conventions, dances or fundraising events. Neither Mommaerts nor Martyn own fur suits, mostly because of the dent it would create in their wallets: Fursuits often cost over $1,000.

"I will invest in one eventually, when I have enough money and am willing to spend it," said Mommaerts.

Robert Lemelson, assistant researcher of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, said that the furry subculture has become increasingly popular due to industrialization and the rise of freedom of expression.

"Historically and culturally, humans have had very complex relations with animals. Humans have lived intimately with animals since the rise of Homo sapiens. Now, in modern industrialized culture, we have less opportunity to interact with animals, so that kind of impulse is translated in different ways," he said.

It also provides a network of support and friendships.

"It's a way for them to socialize," Lemelson said.

Through this social phenomenon, individuals with common interests can convene. During furry conventions, individuals attend informational panels, with topics ranging from instructions on how to make a fursuit to writing furry music. Organizers also put on art exhibits of anthropomorphic drawings and host furry dances. Martyn and Mommaerts both annually attend Further Confusion, the second largest annual furry convention in the United States, which is held in San Jose.

Martyn has taught a panel at a furry convention on how to write furry music.

"You can sing about how you are stuck in the city and how you just want to go out to the forest and be free. I encourage furries not to hide behind the stereotypes that everyone feels required to conform to do certain things. Some of my lyrics are, 'Don't hide your tail in your pants,'" he said.

As a musician, Martyn feels that his furriness has helped him write music for his band, Illegal Operation, for which he plays the guitar and sings.

"I have broadened my musical horizons through it. I am in a furry band and we perform at conventions. It's an opportunity for me to express creativity in a setting where people are not out there to judge you," he said.

"I also think having a tail is cool."

Furry paintings and drawings are often auctioned off at conventions. Fred Patten, who has been a furry fan since the early 1980s, said of furry art: "The main component of furry art seems to be depicting animals displaying human intelligence, or animals that are humanized in some obvious aspect. Many of the best furry artists draw or paint both anthropomorphized animal art and realistic wildlife art."

Furry conventions have a charitable aspect as well.

"A lot of conventions support animal rescue charities and try to have them bring some exotic animals to the conventions, if their hotels will permit it," Patten said.

The UCLA furry population is small compared to other college campuses'.

"There are about seven furries on campus. There might be more that we have not found," Martyn said. "UC Santa Cruz has over 20 furries, and arts schools also have a lot."

But as the culture expands, Martyn and Mommaerts find that furries are often misrepresented as sexual creatures; they assert that only a small percentage of furries consider it a fetish.

The Internet, however, has served as an effective mechanism to popularize the subculture and introduce UCLA furries to other fans across the nation.

"The Internet gives people who may have some sort of subconscious interest in this (a way) to find interest groups, share thoughts, find companionship and share experiences. Without the Internet, there would be no community or social interest. With the rise of the Internet, people all over the world can find something that fits. We are free to explore different interests," Lemelson said.

Patten also notes the importance of the Internet because it allows furries to meet one another more easily and freely in a comfortable space.

"The Internet has been a great catalyst for furry fandom. After the Internet, new fans turned up whom nobody knew personally, who identified themselves only by their animal names. The Internet has particularly enabled the 'furry lifestylers' to form their own subculture," Patten said.

Lemelson emphasized that the furry subculture is no different from other hobbies, such as sports, theater or gardening.

"It's odd, but in some ways it's just an alternative cultural practice," he said. "It should not be viewed as something deviant, but as something different."

Glossary of Furry Terms

Anthropomorphic: Possessing human characteristics
Dead dogging: The room parties that are thrown after a furry convention is officially over, when participants are still around
Fursecution: Persecution of furries or the furry culture
Fursona: The identity one takes on as a furry
Further Confusion: The second largest furry convention in the United States, held annually in San Jose
Furrotica: Furry erotica
Furvert: A furry who likes furrotica
Scritch: To scratch someone gently; a friendly greeting; an act of endearment
Yiff: A generic way of saying sex, based on the sound foxes make while mating

SOURCES: Ian Martyn, Brett Mommaerts, and captainpackrat.com

On Saturday Sherry took me out to an ASIFA-Hollywood/Warner Bros./Imagi Animation Studios for-awards-consideration screening of TMNT at the AMC Theater complex at the Burbank Media Center. I said last week that I would pass this up because it was at 9:30 a.m., but they changed the screening to 1:00 p.m., which made it possible for me to get there. I suspect that nobody was coming at 9:30 a.m. They only got an audience of 35 to 50 people anyhow, and judging from overheard conversations some of those were the production staff, so I hope that Imagi Animation Studios &/or Warner Bros. considered it got its money's worth for renting the AMC theater for the screening. After the movie and the Q&A we stopped at Chili John's to get a take-out dinner to eat at Sherry's apartment.

I said last week that TMNT got reviews when it was released last March that the computer graphics were okay but that the story was horrible. Yes. During the Question-&-Answer after the movie, the most enthusiastic hand-waver was a kid about 8 years old, and I would not have been surprised if he had turned out to be the writer of the movie. The plot was almost identical to that of the Yu-Gi-Oh theatrical feature of 2004: demons who almost destroyed the world 3,000 years ago mentally influence the present-day villain to resurrect them, supposedly to help him conquer the world but actually to complete its destruction; and must be stopped by Our Ass-Kicking Heroes. I also would not be surprised to learn that this is the plot of umpty-dozen video games as well. But it's the Turtles; whaddya expect? Visually the least-convincing aspect of the all-computer-graphics movie was the humans, which compared very poorly to the humans in Pixar's or Pacific Data Images' movies. Fortunately for Imagi, the camera was usually focused upon the cartoony Turtles, their elderly rat martial-arts sensei, the monsters, the living stone demons, or an army of stylized & completely masked ninjas. Also, for a new studio's first movie, it was acceptable. TMNT is worth seeing for those interested in Albert Speer-ish monumental architecture, especially the set designs of the villain's skyscraper that seem to be inspired by the soaring Art-Nouveau-heroic style of the Polish artist-sculptor Stanislaw Szukalski (1893-1987). The Q&A was with five of the directors & producers who implied that the three-year production had been particularly fun bouncing back-&-forth between Los Angeles & Hong Kong. "When we were going to bed in L.A. they were just starting for the day in Hong Kong, and vice versa, so you could say that it was an around-the-clock production for almost three years." Peter Laird, the TMNT co-creator 25 years ago who had nominal approval of any changes such as redesigning the Turtles to look heavier and more menacing, regularly okayed everything by saying, "Well, it doesn't make me want to puke." Imagi's next productions, not counting more Turtles projects, are anime-based; licensed Astro Boy and Gatchaman theatrical features. Those ought to be easy for Imagi as CGI renditions of Osamu Tezuka's and Tatsuo Yoshida's cartoony art styles that do not have to be realistic. ... I also said last week that I could not imagine, in the year that also saw Bee Movie, Shrek the Third, and Ratatouille among others, what awards Imagi thought TMNT might possibly win. After seeing it, I am more mystified than ever.

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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:

Godzilla Verses #167 -- (DeChancie) How can "The Babbitt and the Bromide" be dated when Are You a Bromide? is a masterpiece which makes you want to crawl through thirty miles of dense tropical jungle and bite somebody in the neck? ## I, too, have seen few Restoration comedies, etc., but I can (and do!) recommend highly a French pastiche of Molière, La Fontaine, etc. "pour les amateurs de théâtre, commedia dell'arte et de cape et d'épée" in bande dessinée form, De Cape et de Crocs, by Alain Ayroles (scénario) & Jean-Luc Masbou (art). "Notre bande dessinée commence à Venise au XVIIe siècle. Deux fiers bretteurs - l'un loup andalou, l'autre renard français - découvrent, grâce à une carte cachée dans une bouteille, l'existence du fabuleux trésor des îles Tangerines. De geôles en galères, nos deux gentilshommes s'embarquent pour une incroyable aventure avec pour compagnon le terrible Eusèbe, lapin de son état! Rebondissements, coups de théâtre, dialogues enlevés : De cape et de crocs évoque Molière, la commedia dell'arte et les romans de cape et d'épée." The series began in 1995 and there is a new volume approximately every two years; tome 8 was published just last month. Up until my stroke I did not just read it; I was attempting to translate it (except for the untranslatable puns) into English to keep up my proficiency in French. Meticulously drawn, hilariously witty - I cannot recommend it too highly.

De Jueves #1559 - (Moffatts) It would be interesting to compare your Mexican restaurant in London with my Mexican restaurant in Angoulême. ## The Mr. Am (versus Boris Sirob) sequence of Little Orphan Annie was from 1937 and was one of the most popular and most reprinted. His resurrection in today's Annie is just incoherent.

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