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A puppy, while known by some to bring on true happiness, can also bring on true agony. Having a small puppy is just like having a child. It will whine if you are not petting it, and it spends the day sleeping and voiding all over the house. It puts anything and everything into its mouth, and will tear apart furniture and rugs with its sharp little teeth, not to mention the scratching of wood surfaces with its claws. But sometimes, it is worth it just to see the little buggar come running towards you, wagging its tail. That is, of course, until it learns NOT to come to you and instead to run away...

Fluke's eighth (tenth if you include the two best-ofs) album, and first official album release since 1997's Risotto. Released on August 11, 2003, possibly to have the album slip in just under the six-year mark. It's also their first release since Mike Tournier split from the group in 2002. For this album, Fluke consisted of Jon Fugler and Mike Bryant, with some help from Ron Aslan (drum programming), Andy Gray (production), Neil Davenport (guitar), and Margo Buchanan (backing vocals).

Lyrically and vocally, it's closer to Oto than anything else, but musically it's like a very gritty hard-house/hard trance version of Risotto. About half the songs are reworked from the versions on their 2000 demo album "The Xmas Demos", with the rest being either new work or edits of post-Risotto releases. It suffers the same "energy" problems that Risotto had - the first couple of tracks are the faster and arguably 'better" ones, with the rest of the album tapering off about a third of the way in. The other problem is that it's just not innovative enough for something that they've supposedly been working on for six years - okay, so one of them left to pursue a solo career, but they've still had tons of time to work on new stuff, and not just re-hash their old singles and demo tracks. Pulse / Pulsed, one of the best tracks they've made in the post-Risotto era, doesn't appear on the CD version of the album but for some reason appears as the third track on side A (of four) of the vinyl.

The CD itself is the usual masterpiece of art that I've come to expect from Fluke - the cover image is the aforementioned puppy, a 3D sculpture made out of glass beads glued together, on a beach (apparently inspired by a similar sculpture, only 50ft tall and made out of flowers, outside the Guggenheim Museum in New York). The cover booklet folds out to four times the size, and contains not only production information, but also the lyrics to all the songs (which is actually very useful, because Jon Fugler's accent and delivery produce some bizzare mondegreens if you don't know what he's really saying) and a cute picture of the cover puppy in a snowstorm on the reverse side. Sad girl in snow, Fluke-style!

The verdict? It's not all that bad, but considering the amount of time the band has had to work on it (even with the loss of Mike Tournier) it's slightly disappointing. It's worth buying if you can find it for a non-stupid price (if you can find it at all), but I'd also recommend that you find a copy of The Xmas Demos to listen to as well.

  1. Snapshot [4:09]
    "little Suzie's cruisin' for some love and affection... arm in arm with everyone been charmin' the nation"

    A fast, gritty song with Jon Fugler's trademark fast shouted-whisper vocals, and quite strangely, actual lyrical content. It seems to be mostly commentary on the political climate of the world today, or maybe about kids and drug usage (of course, I could be totally wrong, and the lyrics are just there because they integrate well). The music is a nice thumpy breakbeat with occasional siren noises.
  2. My spine [7:22]
    "my head is spinning so my feet don't touch the ground my eyes is blinded by the light my hearin' deafened by the sound"

    A funky dark house/pseudo-disco/trance number (in case you didn't notice, I have a genre differentiation problem) with some nice disco-ish vocals. If this doesn't appear as a single, I'm going to cry.
  3. Another kind of blues [4:37]
    While having the same name as the track from The Xmas Demos, it's not even remotely the same song - in fact, it's yet another freaking remix of "Slap it". I was disappointed at first, as the "original" has great, non-cheap-sounding, female backing vocals (unlike pretty much all of their other female-vocal'd stuff), but it's actually quite a not bad song. It's harder and more progressive than the other recent mix, "Zion", from the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, while being different enough to be interesting.

    The reason that the original version of this song didn't appear on the album is quite possibly that Mike Tournier took the rights to the music with him when he left the group, while Jon Fugler retained the rights to the vocals. So, the vocals were rearranged into Blue sky, and Slap it was remixed into this song.
  4. Hang tough [5:28]
    "hang tough... dream on... hang on..."

    Fairly mellow, and closer to a "tech house" feel than anything else. The vocals (which take a background role) are laid back, like something off one of Risotto's slower tracks, and there's an actual guitar being played. The first single from the album.
  5. Switch / Twitch [9:33]
    "all the love that you made, all the joy and the pain, all the anger and hate, rewind and erase..."

    Back to the Risotto-style dance track. There's a piano sample in it that I vaguely recognise from one of their earlier songs, but I can't place it exactly. This is also the second single released off the album.
  6. YKK [6:45]
    "new rules, new names, new ways, new games"

    A slow, darker, Oto-type song. There's some parts that sound fairly similar to Orbital's cover of the Doctor Who theme, but it's otherwise quite ordinary.
  7. Expo [5:18]
    Ron Aslan takes over the drum programming for the rest of the album at this point, and it's quite obvious - the beat is something vaguely like what Frank Klepacki would come up with if exposed to a sufficient amount of 80s pop. The "melody" also follows a poppy, 80s feel, but there's also some buzzing noises and phaser effects in there, so the song doesn't really end up all that upbeat. Overall, it's pretty damn nifty.
  8. Electric blue [6:34]
    "out of love, out of fear, out of hate, out of here"

    Ah, more actual real guitar. This track is actually quite guitar-oriented, with two or three kinds providing most of the individual pieces of the track. This track also shows off Alan Gray's production skills, by mixing in from the previous song so neatly that I didn't actually notice anything until about a minute and a half in.
  9. Baby pain [5:44]
    "i'm meek and mild, baby, from head to toe... i've tried to be the best i can"

    Another hard house number, with what sounds like a synth guitar and a tambourine. There's some vaguely annoying vocal samples in the background, but they're quite ignorable and don't detract from the actual lyrics too much.
  10. Nebulus [5:57]
    A nifty, vaguely downbeat steel guitar (maybe even a filtered sitar), bass, and (maybe) bongo drum number that sounds almost like it's been played with real actual instruments. It rather unfortunately lacks the vocals that the Xmas version has, but there's a version of it on the Switch/Twitch single that has the Puppy-type music and the Xmas lyrics to it. I wish they'd used that version here and left the instrumental to the single.
  11. Blue sky [5:48]
    "i can't breathe, i can't see, i can't be too good for me, i can't seem to find my feet now, somebody help me please"

    After the dark-and-gloomy feel to the rest of the album, this track kind of makes me wonder if the band had just discovered a really good source of black market morphine when they were writing this. It's a wonderfully happy and upbeat song using the non-chorus parts of the lyrics from the Xmas version of "Another kind of blues". Quite a weird choice to end an album with, but it's still pretty nifty, with a poppy, vaguely country-ish sound and a choir doing the backing vocals. Even if it does sound like it was rejected from Six Wheels for being too cheerful.

    Called "Come back to me" on the promo.

I'd have liked to have had this writeup ready to go by mid-August, but it seems that Amazon massively underestimated the demand for the album, proceded to screw up the backorders, and wouldn't give a reason for not shipping (the listing was still showing as "ships in 1-2 days" a week after my copy was supposed to have been sent out) until repeatedly and angrily bludgeoned asked about it. All this meant that I didn't actually end up getting my copy until September 19.

I still have no idea if the title is a reference to the movie "Fluke", which has a puppy as its main character. Effective way?


<< The Xmas Demos || Sleeping Beauties >>


We see and hear about puppies everywhere we go. They are in pictures shared on the Internet. They are in ads with small children selling pants and other merchandise, and at one point there was a puppy pulling down a little girl's bathing suit bottom in order to sell suntan lotion. They are at family gatherings making everyone happy with their wet noses. We know all this, but where do puppies come from?

This is a very good question. I am glad you are interested in knowing more. This is a factual writeup.

A puppy is basically a child dog. This is different than a man dog, which is a cruel type of non-medical experimentation that has no place in our society. A child dog is like a child man. It is basically a dog that has not yet reached physical maturity. It is a wee dog. Think about your standard sized hot dog and then think about knockwurst. Same thing.

Since there are no female dogs in existence (extinct since the 1720s by most accounts), dogs developed a different way of reproduction. Once dogs reach maturity, they gather in packs and force the weaker dogs into accepting anal intrusions from the entire pack. This causes things to happen inside them that is similar, but very different, from the way humans give birth.

When it comes to humans giving birth, the mother basically gives birth to a creature that has no skin. It is covered with highly sensitive nerves and screams in agony and terror for months until the skin grows and it stops being in horrific pain and can begin to have ideas and do drawings and act in school plays. It becomes functional. Puppies don't have that long and they are born not whole, but as components. When that dog poops at some point down the road, in that poop will be found the parts of a puppy. The dog will know by instinct how to push the actual poop aside and put together the various pieces: arms, legs, head, pancreas, heart, cock, and so forth. This is why you always see dogs sniffing at piles of poop. They are looking for the lost children of the Empire of Dog. It is a ritual thing but also necessary as some dogs don't realize they were pregnant until after they poop and may not have been brought up to check for puppy in the poop. It is something that is learned. Other dogs will pick up the slack by smelling piles of poop to make sure.

So, the cute puppy with the eager child being playful is not entirely what you think it is.

How do you acquire a puppy? Another good question. There are three primary methods:

  1. Puppy Mills: This is not recommended because they are insidious and awful. What these puppy mills do is gather up stray pregnant dogs and bring them into a room with a toilet that is custom designed for dogs. They dispel their pop and puppy parts into the toilet and it goes down a pipe into a holding tank. When a dog is ordered, a pimple-faced geek wearing a lab coat, glasses with tape on them, and a hat, will reach into the tank and get the parts needed to build the requested type of puppy. Some breeds are harder to assemble than others and there are no pure breeds in puppy mills. Those puppies are assembled from random parts fished out of a holding tank by a kid who can't get laid in a cathouse with a fistful of hundreds. Buyer beware.
  2. Classy Breeding Joints: Unlike puppy mills, these places take care in making sure bloodlines stay pure. They only put the poop of a single dog into a tank and assemble it based on that, and to maintain the breeds they have fenced in "zones" where dogs of the same breed can form packs and dogpile on the weaker ones for the profit of the classy breeding joints and their illustrious owner. This is a good way to go if you care about master race type dogs.
  3. Natural Birth Dogs: The best way is the natural way, as they said back in the day when I asked for margarine at a family social (not my family). These are puppies where the mother pooped them out with last week's Ken-L-Ration and assembled them with care. As you know, dogs poop out a litter of puppies, not a single puppy like most people do, and there is a lot of assembly required to put together the right parts in the right way. Do you want to walk around with your brother's arm stuck to your head permanently and as a way of life? No, you do not, so if you love puppies, choose this way. It is the best way. It is the natural way. Like casing-free wurst. Tasty.

Now that you've gotten yourself a puppy, there are many things you can do:

  1. Become best friends
  2. Get the puppy neutered
  3. Hunting and fishing sojourns
  4. Reading books to each other
  5. Take selfies with each other and post to Facebook and Instant Gramma sites so others can see
  6. Other stuff

So, many benefits if you decide a puppy is right for you, but be aware of the origins and what your puppy may have been subjected to before coming into your care. Perhaps you are a general or someone who has built a fort in the woods and is planning an insurrection. A puppy may not be of great value to you. Generals and insurgents don't have much time for rubbing wet noses with puppies, but what they do need are dogs to enforce their will upon intruders and prisoners. Puppies need to be trained early for this and to be feed raw meat that was killed within an hour of their dining so that it is still warm and pulsating (human flesh continues to pulsate for up to four hours after dismemberment). This gets them in the mood for blood later in life and makes it easier to train them to take the kill order seriously. Don't do this if you just want a cute puppy that grows up to be a goofy house dog that everyone loves petting.

Enjoy your puppies, my friends. May they love and comfort you.

Pup"py (?), n.; pl. Puppies (#). [F. poup'ee doll, puppet. See Puppet, and cf. Pup, n.]

1. Zool.

The young of a canine animal, esp. of the common dog; a whelp.

2.

A name of contemptuous reproach for a conceited and impertinent person.

I found my place taken by an ill-bred, awkward puppy with a money bag under each arm. Addison.

 

© Webster 1913.


Pup"py, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Puppied (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Puppying.]

To bring forth whelps; to pup.

 

© Webster 1913.

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