Feminist Art Historian Olesya Turkina on Russia’s Fleet of Canine Cosmonauts


Image Courtesy of FUEL Publishing

“In the aftermath of World War II, the USSR and the USA became locked in an ideological conflict between socialism and capitalism. Determined to demonstrate the superiority of the socialist way, the USSR launched a secret space program. Eventually a human cosmonaut would fly into outer space, but first came Laika—a dog.

Laika’s launch was kept a secret until a few days before take-off. As Russian feminist art historian Olesya Turkina explains in her book, Soviet Space Dogs, “the secrecy of the space program was justified by the notion that socialism could not be seen to fail in any of its endeavors. In this sense, space travel was the most imperative achievement of such a society.” According to the official Soviet story, the valiant little mutt launched into orbit, died a heroic death, and became the first icon of space exploration.”

Thank you to Olesya and Damon for taking the time to answer my questions and for creating such a special book. Check out FUEL Publishing’s “Soviet Space Dogs” by Olesya Turkina, published by Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell.



The Odd History of the Amazing Seattle Public Library

“Rain, coffee, cat ladies, and a robust literary arts community make Seattle one of the best cities in the world to curl up with a book. Seattle’s bookish heritage extends all the way back to the city’s earliest beginnings. Houses were built, a few buildings, a lumber mill, and then — libraries. Stunning, glorious, introvert-friendly libraries.


Photo: Seattle Historical Photograph Collection/SPL

After two decades of book nerd community rabble-rousing, the first Seattle public library opened in 1891 on the fifth floor of the Occidental Building in Pioneer Square. According to Seattle Public Library lore, a lumber company vice-president checked out the first book, a brand new copy of Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad…” 

I LOVED learning about the Seattle Public Library. Read all about it and see some more great photos by clicking HERE.

My Dog’s “Taste” in Books, Movies and Music

We rescued a genius named Jordy from Ken Mar Dog Rescue. He was not in great shape as you can see from his mug shot below, but today we can now say that he is a happy, healthy young pup who enjoys pizzles, kongs that look like butt plugs and humping other dogs faces. He really is a miracle and we share loving moments every day when he’s not busy destroying everything in the apartment and screaming over the sound of the T.V. The truth is that he engages in these activities to disguise his brilliance and the unwanted public attention that would accompany it’s full expression.

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His genius has advanced to a degree that he can now communicate his entertainment preferences to us. I have no doubt that he’ll be talking soon and reviewing for the New York Times. He is truly a connoisseur of eclectic taste and a trend setter for defining culture.







Top 5 Russian Fairy Tales

When I can’t sleep at night, I like to read from this book of Russian Fairy Tales in a Russian accent.

 Russian Fairy Tales

I picked up this book at The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a magical place in Los Angeles that makes no sense, defies all logic and makes the world a better place. The stories in this book usually start with a character who must overcome obstacles involving livestock and produce and end with the character failing or dying. There is something comforting about the predictable futility of their efforts. Below, please find summaries of my Top 5 Russian Fairy Tales:

Top 5 Russian Fairy Tales

The Turnip

Grandfather plants a turnip. The time comes to pick it. He can’t pull it out himself so he asks grandmother to help. She can’t do it so she asks Granddaughter. Granddaughter can’t so she asks a puppy. The puppy can’t do it so he asks a beetle. Then the beetle asks a second beetle. Then the second beetle asks a third beetle. Then a fourth beetle. They all pull and pull, but can’t pull out the turnip. The End.

The Snotty Goat

A merchant had three daughters. He built them a new house and sent them there to have dreams. The first daughter dreams she will marry a merchant’s son. The second daughter dreams she will marry a nobleman. The third daughter dreams she will marry a goat. The merchant was frightened and forbade his third daughter from leaving the house. She snuck out anyway and was captured by a goat. Back at the goat’s place, he had a lot of snot on his face so the third daughter wiped it up for him with a handkerchief and fell in love. Everyone made fun of her for loving the goat, but she didn’t care. Then one day she came home and the goat was dead. The End.

The Old Woman Who Ran Away

An old woman and an old man lament their regrets of not having children. They begin to argue about what their children would or would not have been like. The old man drags the old woman by the braid and hits her face against the stove. The old woman packs a bag and runs away. When she gets really far into the forest, she opens the bag and realizes the old man is inside of it. She promises never to leave home again. The End.


Two brothers lived in a village. One was poor and one was rich. The poor brother asks the rich brother for money because his family is starving to death. The rich brother invites him to come back the next day with his family for his birthday feast. At the party, the rich brother forgets to offer his poor brother’s family anything to eat, so they just sit there with empty stomachs and watch all the guests enjoy themselves. The End.

The Stubborn Wife

Once a peasant shaved his beard and told his wife about it. His wife told him he didn’t really shave his beard, he just trimmed it. The husband thrashed his wife and demanded she admit that his beard was shaved or else he would drown her in the river. The wife insisted it was just trimmed, not shaved. The peasant held his wife underwater till she drowned. The End.

Book Review: The Passenger Pigeon by Errol Fuller

By Errol Fuller

An unexpectedly humorous and enthralling illustrated memorial to the extinct North American Passenger Pigeon.

passenger_pigeon_AudubonNaturalist artist and writer Errol Fuller defies the odds and crafts an entertaining historical narrative on an arguably bland subject, the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The author’s enthusiasm for the bird is infectious and the book reads like a bedtime story or an urban legend told over a campfire. “There are many, many stories like these, all worthy of the telling,” Fuller writes. “But there is one that stands out from the rest, a story so remarkable, so intense, that its elements strain credibility to its limits. It is the story of the Passenger Pigeon, and it is a tale that has everything: great drama, tragedy, intrigue, violence, mystery.”

Passenger Pigeons numbered in the billions at the start of the nineteenth century. The flocks were so large that they blotted out the sun for days at a time. The bird inspired famous writers including Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, artists, and even marthamusicians. Yet by 1914, after years of slaughter and destruction by technologically advanced European colonizers of North America, only one Passenger Pigeon was left. Her name was Martha and she died alone at the Cincinnati zoo.

Fuller’s book is a beautiful and well-researched study of a highly evolved species forced into extinction by human thoughtlessness and greed. The primary source illustrations and quotations engage the reader while demonstrating the fragility of our natural world. An evocative and visually stunning book for readers of all ages.