Thursday, March 29, 2018

Triumph of a Czar - a stellar alternative history about the Romanovs

Greetings, commies!
I came across this gem by reading a discussion in the Historical Novel Society. If you love alternative history along the lines of The Man in the High Castle, do not miss Triumph of a Czar

Triumph of a Tsar is a work of alternate historical fiction in which the Russian Revolution is averted, and the hemophiliac Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, comes to the throne. In August, 1920, sixteen-year-old Alexei is enjoying his birthday celebrations when Nicholas dies suddenly. Overnight, Alexei becomes tsar of an empire that covers one-sixth of the world’s landmass. The Great War is over, but Russia is still suffering from the devastation and poverty that it brought. Communists such as Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky view the political situation as ripe for revolution, but they realize that the popular Alexei stands in their way. To make matters worse, Alexei’s hemophilia, the disease that has threatened him his whole life, returns to haunt him. With his life in constant danger from internal threats, Alexei must also navigate the external threats of fascism and Adolph Hitler. Slowly, Hitler’s menace increases throughout Europe until he tries to kill Alexei himself. Only then does Alexei realize that another World War is the only way to stop his German enemy.

My thoughts:
The October Revolution is regarded by many as one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history, and the murder of the imperial family one of the cruelest regicides. (Growing up in the 1980s in what is now the former USSR I was told the opposite - that it was an act of justice). Tamar Anolic creates a gorgeous, eloquent, convincing revenge fantasy.  I am so grateful for this novel, because it fills a gap in the pantheon of alternative history. My husband and I are both into alternative history and have often discussed the various what-if scenarios. What if the Russian Revolution never occurred? Or what if the Whites had won the Russian Civil War? I am so glad that someone has finally written an alternative history novel about post WWI Russia. Czar Nicholas II is given a dignified natural death. His beautiful daughters go on to marry and have offspring of their own. And his son Alexei, the fragile hemophiliac child so coddled by his mother becomes the next Czar at the age of 16. The first thing he does is shoot Lenin and fire the chief of police for negligence. His actions may seem shocking and impetuous, but they really make a lot of sense. The teenage monarch certainly does not pull any punches. He is more prepared to roll up his sleeves and embrace his new role. His determination to serve his empire and bring it on par with other Western European nations often makes him forget about his own illness. At times he tries to downplay the severity of his affliction. At any given moment, he is one cut or bump away from bleeding to death. So he cannot afford to be impetuous. His illness has taught him self-restraint. On one hand Alexei had been coddled his whole life, but on another hand he had been forced to mature faster. It's a two edged sword. It is common for people who are used to deal with a life-altering illness. 

I am very, very finicky about historical accuracy and cultural authenticity. I've read too many novels and seen too many movies depicting a cartoonish cardboard Russia speckled with cliches, and this novel definitely gets my stamp of approval.  So many authors think it's enough to throw in references to bears, balalaikas, samovars and ushanka hats to create a sense of authenticity. Thankfully, this author does not resort to that. He does not need to rely on cliches. His knowledge of the era shines through his sharp, eloquent prose. For an alternative history novel to be effective, it has to be rooted in reality. The author has to be a political scientist and a military strategist. I cannot believe that this gem was not picked up by some major publisher like Random House. I would love to see it turned into an Amazon series. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Help young journalist fight cancer


This is the first time I post about helping a fellow Commie, a young journalist. Christina is a beautiful and talented woman who is battling stage 3 sarcoma. She is undergoing treatment in Moscow. If you are so inclined, please share this post and/or support her treatment.

This is her story:

Christina is a vibrant young girl, she is a journalist for a popular youth magazine in Central Asia ( Kyrgyzstan)
Her passion is ballroom dancing and she has won numerous awards and competitions.

Christina is a smart, positive young lady that has been recently diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.

Unfortunately, Christina lost her mother when she was just 17 and the only family she has is her stepfather that has left his job in Israel and rushed to be by her side. The doctors are optimistic and currently put her chances of survival at 80%. However, after the first set of chemotherapy she is very weak and is currently in intensive care.
The treatment is very expensive and has cost the family £20,000 so far.
Her stepfather has used up his savings and we are relying on support to get her the treatment she so desperately needs.
Please find it in your heart to help this young beautiful lady survive and live a full life that she deserves.
She is currently being treated in Yusupov Hospital in Moscow.
The money is needed for a second set of chemotherapy followed by an operation to remove the tumour.
Without your help she will not be operated on.
Thank you for your kindness.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Popular Stud Syndrome - why it is a systemic problem

Greetings, commies!

Today's rant topic is the infamous Popular Stud Syndrome. Did I get your attention? This term is NOT from a teen sex comedy or the National Lampoon. It was NOT coined by a 20-something gender-fluid Huffington Post freelance contributor fighting the "rape culture". Though it sounds patriarchal and vaguely pornographic, the Popular Stud Syndrome refers to a phenomenon in the world of breeders when an animal with desirable attributes is bred repeatedly. As a Siberian cat breeder with several years of experience under my belt, I have encountered several sought after studs, winners of respected competitions, who juggled the limelight of the show hall with the seductive twilight of the conjugal area. Some particularly desirable studs are bred extensively to many females, creating a large population of half-siblings, thus reducing the genetic diversity of the breed. Also, some undesirable genetic traits in the stud can spread rapidly. If unchecked, certain health conditions such as heart defects or propensity for cancer can be passed along. Sometimes, by the time you discover a genetic defect in a sought after stud, it's too late. Too many babies have been fathered.

With my Long Island market dwindling due to my partner's recent decision to move to Switzerland for work, I am toiling aggressively to build my network in New England. It is March, and my little stud Rory, a ginger Donald Trump look alike who has fathered to date forty-five kittens to to six different females, is feeling the sting of sexual frustration. Major, major pussy withdrawal. So you can imagine how excited I was to get in touch with a breeder in Boston. To our mutual dismay, it was discovered that most of her breeding females were related to Rory through a grandfather. While breeding with first and second cousins is acceptable, it is not desirable. It is a real problem in New England to find Siberians who are not closely to each other, whose inbreeding percentage is under 10%. More and more breeders import studs and dames from Europe to ensure a more diverse gene pool.
Overbreeding of select males nurtures elitism and exploitation. Every day gorgeous male animals are being objectified for their looks and exploited for their genetic traits.Too many back to back conjugal visits exhaust a male, leading to sexual burnout, anemia, hair loss, urinary tract infections, groin injuries and testosterone poisoning. These magnificent creatures who talk to St. Francis are reduced to carnal sex machines.

I know how tempting it is to be able to say: "My kittens were fathered by a world champion so-and-so (fill in the blank." But there is a dark side to prestige. As much as you want to stick to the proven classics, diversity is a beautiful thing! I encourage my breeder friends to go to shows, build new relationships and discover new emerging lines for their breeding programs.

Conservatively yours,
Connecticut Commie

Thursday, March 8, 2018

An average cat can be a tiger mom

Hello, commies and cat lovers!
Today is March 8th, the international women's solidarity day, and I would like to take this opportunity to write a little ode to the cat woman who raised me, whose claws molded me into the creature I am today. Everyone is familiar with the term Tiger Mom. Most of them are of Asian descent. But there is another breed of tiger mom, more subtle but no less deadly: the Russian-Jewish Tiger Mom. I was honored and blessed to be raised by one of those. My mother is just an average size cat with a nuclear purrrsonality. This is NOT going to be a mushy post about "unconditional love" and "forgiveness". Screw that. This is what my Mommy taught.

She taught me to play with my food before ripping its head off
She taught me to fight with my fangs and claws out
She taught me to climb high altitudes without looking down
She taught me to mark my territory with my scent
She taught me to hiss and growl all over the neighborhood
She taught me to attack other females twice my size
She taught me to hide my injuries from my enemies
She taught me to lick my wounds in private
She taught me to pursue the high-ranking tomcat of my dreams
She taught me to bury the remnants of my enemies in the sandbox

Because of her, the word "sacrifice" is not in my vocabulary. Because of her, I put ideas and projects above meaningless relationships. Because of her I never walk away from a fight. Happy March 8th, Mama Cat!

Sincerely yours,
Connecticut Commie

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Cuckoo - a sex comedy set during WWII

Greetings, commies and WWII buffs!

When you think of a bawdy sex comedy, you don't immediately think of WWII as the setting, but that is exactly what "The Cuckoo" is. The action unfolds in September of 1994, shortly before Finland pulls out of the Continuation War against the Soviet Union. A solitary Sami woman, well adjusted to her surrounding and thriving in rather harsh conditions, running a reindeer farm that becomes a refuge for a Finnish sniper and a Red Army captain following a bombing raid. Three people, all speaking different languages, form a peculiar love triangle that eventually turns into a menage a trois.

The doom-and-gloom backdrop becomes a canvas for a hysterical, raunchy, irreverent sex comedy with a heart. Those of you who love "strong, independent, empowered female characters", will drool over the polyamorous Sami girl who brews herbs, talks to spirits and uses several men to satisfy her carnal desires. The two soldiers temporarily forget the fact that they are enemies and become rivals for the privilege to roll with her on deer skin. Here is the bummer. This film is really hard to find.  Neither Netflix nor Amazon have it. I found it on a Russian site without subtitles. I hope this gem becomes available to English speaking audiences.