My brother and his fiance have a new cat - which is also an old cat. It's a rescue cat named Mini, and here's her and Rosie, doing what cats and dogs do best.
Rosie's three days old, about seven inches long, and seems to get larger and fatter every time I see her. I suppose this means we're now a five-dog family.
Three puppies. Two dead. I never want to go through this again.
The first stage of giving birth in dogs is rapid short panting - it can last hours, and often it's a false start. The second stage is pushing - which can also last hours, though not usually. And the third stage, is the actual birth.
Sadie spent most of the day in stage one, then did stages two and three without difficulty in in just seconds.
Puppies come out in little grey sacs, which sometimes have to be broken open if the puppy can't or the mother doesn't. The delay between births in a papillion litter is typically two hours, but six isn't unknown.
I saw the first one come out - I didn't know what to do. Father always insists that he knows what to do about every situation and spends most of his words giving advice - almost always obvious, or obviously wrong. He panicked, and shouted for mother.
Mother has a little experience with whelping - she broke the sac and rubbed the puppy gently in a towel. It was a girl - we called her Rosie. Rosie is white with a dark brown head, and dark brown spot at the base of the tail. She makes squeaking noises when she's cold or hungry,
She's big for a papillion puppy - six inches long. Her whole body flexes when she feeds, but she's got a habit of latching onto a nipple, then falling off to one side. She gets warm by almost crawling under her mother.
We've had to move her quite a lot, as blankets get wet - and she goes quiet when I hold her in my hand, curling up in the warmth.
Then two hours later, the second one. I saw the waters break. It was born feet first. With it's intestines hanging out. Alive and mewing in agony. Father blustered with irrelevant advice. Mother left the room to be sick. I didn't know what to do.
Dad may be useless at most things, but just occasionally his blustering attitude is useful - as when you've got a newborn puppy that can only live maybe an hour, all the time screaming in pain, and the most humane thing you can do is drown it.
Mum cried a little and went off to be alone for a while. I did the same - but in the reverse order.
Then the third. It came out with total ease, the sac broke...and it looked like the second. Silent, but alive, with...trails of red and purple hanging out. Not afterbirth, but what? There was nothing in the books like it. What organs were we looking at? What were we looking at? Could this puppy be saved? How?
We didn't know. We had to decide. It took maybe thirty seconds to decide between us that it looked non-viable. Father took it away and drowned it quickly.
Now it's just gone midnight. Mother's going to bed, Father's watching Rosie and Sadie, who have curled up to sleep. I take over the watch around four.
Rosie is amazing. We're all happy to sleep and take care of her in shifts. But none of us want to do this ever again.
UPDATE: It turns out the birthing problem is very common in papillions- occurring in about one in three - but none of the books on breeding and whelping mentioned it because it's a problem specific to the breed - like the bulldog problem of overlarge heads.
Here's Rosie at twelve hours old, plugged into her mum.
People talk a lot of crap about pornography.
Once when I was at school, a group of pupils got together to describe the porn film they'd all seen the night before, entitled Animal Farm. Exactly why they felt the need to explain to each other what they'd collectively seen was a little unclear.
One scene involved using the cardboard centre of toilet roll as a speculum, wedging open the lips of a woman's vagina, so a mouse could crawl up the tube and...scrabble about, while the woman made delirious moaning noises of pleasure. A few points about that:
* A cardboard tube is too weak to be used as a speculum.
* If you actually did this, what you'd get in quick succession would be a panicking mouse trying to dig it's way out, a lot of pain, a lot of screaming, a lot of blood, and a suffocated mouse.
* The 'infamous' porn film called Animal Farm is a myth. There was a series of four titleless German films, which some wag collectively christened under that name. They showed one young women having open-air sex with various farm animals
In fact she really had grown up on a remote farm with an abusive mother and no affection except from animals she tended. Her sexuality formed around in this situation, and in her twenties she was discovered by a porn producer.
So, surprise surprise, a bunch of thirteen year old boys talked a load of implausible crap to each other. But adult and serious journalists are a different matter, aren't they?
In the early nineties, a slew of lip-smacking TV documentaries stoked up public paranoias about paedophilia, pornography, snuff films, organised crime and horror movies. The issues were smeared so much into each other, that any discussion of pornography became a discussion about child abuse, and every time a child disappeared it was automatically suspected they'd been kidnapped by gangsters to be killed on camera by...literal wankers. And there was vast army of Other People out there who'd pay to watch it.
The first of these I saw claimed to have unprecedented access to the archives of the Metropolitan Vice Squad - depicted as an enormous warehouse of VHS porn. The presenter described how one 'typical' film showed a young boy being gang raped then clubbed to death.
It only came out years later that the Vice Squad had, in their history, seized exactly zero snuff movies. In fact there was and is no evidence that these things existed. I know of no reliable 'sightings' of such films, or any police force anywhere in the world that claims to have found one.
The deeply serious, respectable, concerned journalist, presenting disturbing information about things he'd been traumatised researching in the higher cause of public understanding...was Making Shit Up.
This was also the time of obsessions concerning alien abductions, the internet, government conspiracies...and covens of satanists. So it's not surprising the mass media invented mass child abuse rings - hinting at the possibility of satanic involvement over the internet and a coverup.
There were other permutations too. One scare was about a 'video nasty' (ie horror film) called I Spit on Your Grave, supposedly about a psychotic women who kills four men with fire. In fact, it's about a woman who's raped and beaten four times by four men, and takes somewhat overcomplicated revenge on them, one of which involves fire. If anything, it's a feminist revenge fantasy. A minor one was all about gerbiling, the equally impossible male equivalent of the cardboard tube trick.
Another film that thirteen year old boys claim to have seen is Deep Throat - a seminal (so to speak) classic of 70s porn. Some people will tell you that the star, Linda Lovelace, was a battered wife forced to do the movie by her abusive husband - and that you can see the bruises on her body in the film.
I've seen Deep Throat, and I can tell you two things about it. First, there's no bruises visible, and second, it's the campest porn film I've ever seen. There's a self-consciously preposterous plot, and a lot of OTT acting, with some terrible jokes. It's...fun.
In the 80s and 90s, a lot of academic feminists decided the main issue in the oppression of women was photographs of them having sex. Childcare, low pay, the glass ceiling and gross sexism were seemingly 'not as important to ordinary women'.
Some of them suggested the main issue might be rape, or domestic violence, so many - like Andrea Dworkin - fudged the issue by saying all three were the same thing really.
Her classic work Pornography: Men Possessing Women - which I've read and had to stop myself throwing out of the window - argues that pornography doesn't lead to rape, pornography isn't a practice run or an instruction manual for rape, pornography is rape. Though she never quite explains how.
She used a lot of highly selective examples, presented as typical and implicitly stating that all men can't grasp the difference between fantasy and reality. Oh, and at one point she claimed that gay male porn is abusive to women because it excludes then. Headdesk.
In later life she famously claimed that a group of male colleagues at a conference had abducted, drugged and raped her in a hotel room. When the colleagues proved it couldn't have happened because they weren't there, she went quiet. That was not the only time she'd claimed to have been drugged and raped.
I don't know about you, but I find it disconcerting that probably the best known and most cited radical feminist in the world was severely delusional and in need of psychiatric help - which she never got.
She wasn't exactly helpful to the cause of human rights for half the human population. I should mention that I think her book on Right Wing Women is worth a look.
Now we have a new porn fear - crush movies. There are various definitions - here's one from PetAbuse.com:
Crush videos, also known as squish or trampling videos, cater to fetishists who gain sexual gratification from watching women torture and kill small animals by stepping on them.
Typically, those crushing will use their buttocks or feet, making this fetish popular amongst many foot fetishists, as crushing by feet is usually the main focus. The foot (barefoot or in shoes) is thus often idolized by someone with a crush fetish.
So...this is porn for foot fetishists...who are also turned on by animal cruelty. Clearly a burgeoning market. Not only that, it's explained with cod-psychology a five year old could see through.
This online petition actually links to "THE SHOCKING TRUTH" - a marginally relevant Snopes article, which doesn't support the petition's hypothesis.
Wikipedia talks about the crushing of insects - which amazingly does exist in porn - while a facebook group claims it's about crushing kittens - the only evidence being a link the to the wikipedia article which only mentions invertebrates.
So, is there someone somewhere who gets sexually turned on by images of cruelty to animals? I suppose it's possible - there are certainly enough people who get off in some way watching 24, and enough anti-vivisection websites that wallow in the blood and pain a little too much.
Is there a hitherto unknown mass of people with that taste? Is it somehow contagious? Is there a previously invisible movie industry to serve it? No. This is another tedious moral panic, part of the wider madness of crowds that's been going on for centuries - the fear of other people having sex.
The Kapitano household is on puppy alert.
Our bitch Sadie is extremely pregnant...and due at the weekend. The x-ray showed three (or possibly four) little papillions inside, and we've stocked up on equipment to feed the puppies just in case supermum Sadie can't manage.
So, with any luck expect some unfeasibly cute pictures soon.
In the meantime, I'm doing what I do best - avoiding housework by retreating into a childhood I probably never really had, with the help of YouTube.
There's low budget TV shows which looks great on paper but fail on screen - unless you've mastered the delicate psychology of watching through ironic spectacles. These are the shows you get nostalgic about mainly because you remember them so dimly. That, and your age was barely in double digits when they came out. Cases in point: Manimal and Automan.
And then there are low budget TV shows which fail on paper, but work great on screen - even though you can't work out why. Case in point: Sapphire & Steel [1, 2].
I find stuff.
For instance, this football shirt.
I don't know the sponsor. I don't actually know which bit of the UK the team are from. I don't know who left it lying on the pavement - washed and pressed - or why. All I know is, I've got a football shirt that's a bit too small for me.
And to go with the shirt, a jacket.
I found this one (I think) three years ago, lying in the gutter, in the rain, half buried under a pile of leaves. Um, the jacket was in the gutter, not me. New, it would have cost about GBP60 - not that I would ever pay half that for an item of clothing. Oh, and it fits me perfectly. As you can see, the dogs like it too.
Just one small drawback. When I'm wearing it, people tend to assume I'm
(a) a football fan
(b) scottish, and
(c) a whisky drinker.
Wheras in fact I only drink whisky occasionally with coke, my closest connection with scotland is a great-grandmother I never met, and the closest I've got to a football team was a local team player asking me to wank him off when I was sixteen.
He, uh, played for both teams.
Last month, a pair of slightly torn tracksuit bottoms/jogging trousers/sweatpants/whatever you call them.
Clean, easily mended, quite usable, and they're a good baggy fit. In fact, I had to take them off to photograph them :-S.
Once, I found a big floppy dog. Sitting on an electrical junction box.
Okay, a big floppy stuffed toy dog. Which is now the favourite toy of a small fluffy real dog - though of a toy breed, just to be confusing. The other favourite toy was a two foot long stuffed Daffy Duck - presumably dropped by a young child in a pushchair - now destroyed by four-way tugs of war between dogs with sharp teeth.
I'm sitting on an office chair that was thrown out in a house-clearing just down the street...on the same day as my previous second-hand office chair broke.
One of the wheels was missing, so we replaced it with a wheel from...the broken chair.
Somewhere in the house there's a complete set of screwdrivers and spanners in a specially designed shoulderbag, found next to a park bench at midnight. There's also a post-office shoulderbag which is exactly the right size for carrying this laptop. And there's a laptop that was new about twelve years ago, found in a skip.
I've got a warm wooley scarf that was snagged on some brambles, and last month I found mother an impromptu anniversary present - a pink patterned silk scarf, found in almost the same place.
And yesterday, somewhere to put my feet.
It's a carpet-mat from a car, and it fits snugly under this writing desk, providing just a little extra comfort and warmth, as I sit here in my found clothes - including a cheap pair of slippers which are now held together with carpet tape. Which I found somewhere.
I know what I did last night. But I don't know what I did right last night.
I got slowly drunk, eventually going on late, tired and irritated after the previous act played 25 minutes of 'encore'...and another act was shoehored in before me. I ate some bad party food, comprising 90% sugar, salt, vinegar and MSG. Oh and I had a cold.
On stage I couldn't hear myself sing so I belted like mad, giving myself a sore throat and guttural speaking growl. And I found that I could inexplicably sing high notes way out of my usual range without difficulty. Half the time I couldn't hear the backing clearly enough to tell whether I was in tune - though apparently I was.
So what do I need to do? Sing on a half-full stomach? Get super-relaxed? Stoned? Shout? Catch a cold? Hurt my vocal cords? Block up my ears? I've tried wearing bulky headphones that mean I can barely hear myself, meaning I have to belt - the result so far is...hitting the wrong notes.
I'm open to suggestions. I'm the meantime, I'll carry on annoying the neighbours and puzzling the dogs.
Oh yes, how could I forget. A serial fantasist I know was also there, drunker and even more delusional than ever.
After my set he went into guru overdrive mode, going on about how he'd hone my talent and turn me into a worldwide megastar. This is someone who knows nothing about music, nothing about the music business, and most especially nothing about why none of his big plans have ever worked.
Zero forward planning, zero finances, zero capacity for self doubt, close-to-zero attention span...and infinite control freakery are some of the reasons.
But now at least someone has uttered to me those classic words: I'm gonna make you a star.
I just hope it wasn't his aura of batshit optimism that was the mysterious magic ingredient of my performance. That would be an irony worthy of any gift from the olympic gods.
I was delayed getting on. I was drunk. I forgot some lyrics. The backing skipped. I couldn't sing loud enough. With the PA I couldn't even tell if I was in tune.
Everyone loved it. Strangers walked up to me afterwards and said I was "awesome" and "totally unexpected". I've got another gig lined up, and a collaboration.
I'm still drunk. I'm exhausted. I don't know what to make of it. I need to sleep tonight and tomorrow work out whatever it was that worked, so I can do it again.
Pictures and more detail later.
I know my place.
First on tonight, an indie rock band playing for half an hour - or possibly (probably) more if they feel like it. Lead singer - the host of the party.
Then after a break, a trio of singers with an acoustic guitar. The kind of highly experienced and practiced consummate professionals who'll tell you they only do it for a bit of fun.
Then later, a hard rock outfit. There's always one act that plays an 'encore' set no matter what, and one act that spends twenty minutes doing a one minute soundcheck. I predict this will be both. But apparently they're very good.
And finally...at around eleven thirty, when everyone with families and commitments has already left, and everyone else is drunk...me.
Just me, a microphone, a bloodstrem full of alcohol breakdown products, and a laptop plugged into a guitar amp. The only act of the evening that doesn't involve guitars or other people.
Someone will be filming it all, for posterity and future blackmail.
And tomorrow...(and tomorrow...and tomorrow...)
Hangovers and promises to babysit a houseful of dogs permitting, I'll try to record a quick studio version of the set - just for you. Call it an EP.
Any suggestions for a title?
Saturday: Start sorting through old file backups.
Sunday: Find a lot of backing tracks I put together for gigs.
Monday: Get invited to play a gig. With five days preparation.
Tuesday: Try to relearn all the lyrics, and EQ the tracks properly this time.
Wednesday: Five songs, fifteen minute set, all arranged.
Small detail - the venue doesn't exactly have a sound system of it's own. So I may end up piping an mp3 player through one of the other band's guitar amp.
Technology. It doesn't so much streamline the creative process as force you to kludge in new ways.
When I was 27, I briefly went out with a younger guy. I stopped because, frankly, I didn't know how to handle the relationship. It made me nervous. Why? Because he was one hell of a lot more mature and confident than I was.
That, combined with him being seventeen.
We'd met at, of all places, a drop-in STD testing centre. I was there because a friend I sometimes had sex with had got paranoid about AIDS, and I was taking the test to reassure him. The other fellow was there to keep someone else company...and wound up discussing music with me. He asked me out.
A few days later we met up for a drink and a bag of chips - somehow a lot more romantic than it sounds - and later that night kind of...fell into bed together. Later he even met my parents - and went amazingly gay and girly over their cute little dog.
I mean, I've never tried to hide being gay - even at thirteen I couldn't be bothered to lie about it - and I've always gone a bit soppy over dogs. But this fellow - no hangups about masculinity at all, no thought that it might be awkward to turn into a flamer in front of someone's parents they've just met.
And able to give me some wise sage advice that I've later found to be spot on. Like I say, it made me nervous.
At about the same time, I was going through a period of spending all night in chatrooms. Some were about computers or music, some were a kind of group dating forum, some for arranging quick shags, and some were community forums. Though the distinctions between all of these tended to get rather...blurred.
One night, some guy asked to 'go private' - one to one instant messaging - and I said okay. Largely because he didn't start with "ASL?" or "fuck?". We talked for about half an hour.
He was 23, into clubbing, multiple non-serious relationships and having as much fun as possible. So maybe I could be a small part of that fun? Sure, why not.
Anyway, he says, he's got to go soon because he's got school in the morning.
School? He must mean college.
No, he says. School. He's thirteen.
So when he said he was 23, that was a typo. Right. Well it's been nice chatting but I've got to go to so...cheerio!
Mand8 dot com is a site for, well, exactly. Except it's evolved to have more of a community feel to it.
If Mand8 is dating but often community and friendships, Gaydar (last time I checked, years ago) is a quick-shag-arrangement service...that's more communal in practice. OutEverywhere is a gay community site that's essentially a glorified bulletin board, and even Squirt - the archetypal shag 'n' cam site - is going more communal.
So one night a couple of years ago on Mand8, someone logs in and pipes up with something like "Horny 11 yr old boi. Parents out. Wanna sex chat?"
Everyone ignored it. I thought it was probably some lonely troll trying vainly to start an argument. Or just possibly the vice squad trying out an inept new tactic.
Then, "Boi 11 getting naked. NE1 wanna see my cam?"
Oh...kay. So it probably is an actual young boy, on his parents computer while they're out, being hormonal. At eleven I was certainly hormonal - about other eleven year old boys, most of who despised me. Which is one reason I didn't get to do anything about it.
A few patrons said things like "This is a place for men, please leave".
Then minutes later, occasional scattered comments like "[Boy's Username] cam. Srsly hot!", balanced with an equal number like "Too young! Mods kick him off. Where's the mods?"
I left before the issue got resolved.
At about age 30, I was walking down a street at around 9pm. A high pitched voice called out "Hi mate!", and a boy of about 14 skipped across the road to join me.
I didn't know him, so I cautiously said "Hello". He fell into step beside me, talking animatedly about his family. There were some possible double meanings in some of what he said, and over the next one or two minutes they got stronger.
When I was certain they weren't accidental, I stopped and said "I'm not what you're looking for".
He gave a big smile, said "Okay!" and skipped off.
Months later I met a man and we spent a very pleasant night of sex punctuated with cups of tea - or possibly the other way around - and over the tea I mentioned what had happened, and where.
"Oh yes", he said, "That's [boy's name]. He's always doing it. He's got issues with adult approval".
Ah, so you like my frozen frames? There'll be more along next Friday, but in the meantime, an eastertime flurry of bonuses (boni? bones?), just to say thank your for stopping by at my little personal blog.
And more than that, for stopping by more than once. Relax, it's Friday.
Over a year ago, I left a computer running, capturing stills at random intervals of whatever was on TV at the time. On the grounds that I might find something to do with them sometime. This is the Kapitano version of forward planning.
And now I've found a use for them! Freezeframe Friday - my experiment in prescheduled blogging. Enjoy.
So I settle down for a midnight snack, and what do I find? A subtle clue that the mice are getting bolder.
See if you can spot it.
Coming this Friday, my new regular contribution to Television Studies.