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by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & Our Lives and a Dog & r & Fifty years ago Saturday, Laika died. She was a 3-year-old mixed-breed dog rescued off the streets of Moscow. Because Russian scientists didn't know if life could be sustained in orbit, Laika was put through months of training until Sputnik 2 launched.

Many theories about Laika's death have circulated. The truth is that within seven hours after liftoff, she died from stress and overheating. Her remains circled around the Earth nearly 2,600 more times until April 1958, when "Muttnik" burned up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.

Today, at an aviation institute just outside Moscow, there's a plaque honoring Russian cosmonauts who died in the cause of space exploration. Down in one corner is the image of a 13-pound mutt. Her ears are pointing straight up.

Poetry: Bam!

They packed the joint at Empyrean on Saturday night -- for poets! Some of the slammers were just bizarre, and some descended into mere stand-up. But as good as most of the cosmological/spiritual/self-improvement word-torrents were, the real show was the audience: high school kids up front, a smattering of middle-aged folks standing in back, hipsters circulating all over.

Even in some tattooed-and-nose-studded circles, the beatnik habit of snapping your fingers in approval (instead of clapping your hands like a hick) has evidently made a comeback. It was like a time warp, daddy-o.

Click Your Ruby Heels

Sure, there's dinner and drinks, but the real draw at the Red Shoe Benefit (Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 5:30-10 pm at the Convention Center) is the silent art auction. Bid up the prices and you'll help local students in visual and performing arts, photography, graphic design and more. Call 328-5855.


Sweet Baby James charmed the crowd at the Star Theater on Monday night. His post-intermission opener, "Steamroller Blues," was a highlight, and he and his ba nd rocked out on "Mexico." It's kinda scary to contemplate just how many Boomer brain cells are occupied by JT's lyrics, based on the warblers nearby, but after watching him in action, it's clear this is a man who loves what he does.