May 29: First movie in Inupiaq

Today's news for the Last Frontier

May 30, 2008 

At a theater not so near you, the first movie in Inupiaq. You'd have to be in New York on Sunday to see the Barrow- and Fairbanks-raised and NYU-trained filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean's latest film, "Sikumi," at the Sundance Institute. It will also show this month in Los Angeles, according to Back Stage.

Deemed an "Arctic Western" by MacLean, the film was shot in six days on the tundra near Barrow - in temperatures to 20 below zero and with polar-bear lookouts.

Sikumi means "on the ice," and the film tells the story of Apuna (Brad Weyiouanna), who is crossing the tundra by dogsled when he sees an acquaintance, Miqu (Tony Bryant), committing a brutal murder.

MacLean explains his move from theater to film: "It was rewarding to do shows, but Alaska is isolated and limited," said MacLean. "There's a real permanence to film, and it can reach a far wider audience."

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Salivating over $40 Copper River salmon. That's the report from Florida's Sun-Sentinal, where the fish get a great review for their "high oil content, rich nutty flavor and velvety texture." Slow returns of fish and closed West Coast fisheries has led to SalmonAid, a two-day festival focusing on the rapidly disappearing Pacific salmon Saturday, May 31 at Jack London Square in Oakland.

Organized by an ad hoc group of fisherman (commercial and tribal) and environmental organizations, according to Washington Post, SalmonAid is a free event that will include live music, plenty of wild salmon on the grill (which is being flown in from Alaska, due to the cancellation of this year's Pacific salmon season) and a rally on Sunday.

Even the local fishing news is grim. Chilly temps have kept the fish at bay in Homer, according to the Homer News: "The water remains high and muddy with low water temperatures."

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If Palin as VP gets you excited... The Daily News Alaska Politics blog Tuesday afternoon had the Huffington Post’s suggestion that Palin might be “the next Dick Cheney," and it wasn't a kind assessment.

More sides of this coin? Catch links at Alaskan Abroad, which points to Wizbang's, claim that McCain's VP advance man Arthur Culvahouse has been spotted in Juneau, and Dennis Zaki-Alaska Report, which ponders how Palin's anti-abortion views will blend with McCain's support of abortion rights. Meanwhile, Palin has been in Anchorage at her gas pipeline school for legislators and the public.

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Even your toilet paper is getting more expensive. The Associated Press followed up on Dow Chemical's recent announcement that it would raise prices up to 20 percent on items it supplies to a wide variety of manufacturers. What does that mean for us consumers? Everyday items like cosmetics, detergent, diapers, house paint - prices are going up. So by late July, prices for Huggies diapers, Pull-Ups training pants, and Cottonelle and Scott bathroom tissue will be up 6 to 8 percent.

This is an Alaska story because, according to industry leaders, ready supplies of natural gas are the answer. Others argue that the only answer is drilling for oil in ANWR. But the main point Dow and other industry leaders are making is this: Government inaction on energy supply is rolling downhill, and it isn't just about the price of a tank of gas anymore.

First barge of the season brings expensive fuel. KTVA reports that "overnight in Aniak on the Kuskokwim River, gas jumped from $4.62 to $5.53 a gallon. And diesel went from $4.38 to $6.19 a gallon."

If cheaper energy isn't found soon in the Bush, Aniak resident Roxanne Longpre says, "I really honestly don't see how people will survive."

Fisherman smarting over fuel bills, Farm Bill. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports that diesel fuel prices nearing $5 a gallon, with more increases expected later in the summer, have fisherman passing a petition for congressional help.

Their ire is focused on the fact that they got booted out of the Farm Bill, which might have given them the money to retool their boats for cheaper diesel.

"There are several ways that fishermen can cut fuel costs," said Mark Vinsel of the United Fisherman's Association. "One of those ways is with repowering (their boats) with newer, more clean-burning, very-efficient Tier 2 diesel engines." Fishermen doing that have experienced a 50 percent decrease in fuel consumption, he said.

Petersburg's Sara Stoner started a petition asking for immediate help for fishermen that is circulating around the state.

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Alaska truly is a state of mind. Look to the music industry to capture the elusive, romantic, somehow freeing allure of Alaska. With nods to blogger Citizen Mom, we watched a Dr. Dog music video to the song "Alaska." It's a cool and arty video about a couple shackled by responsibility. One slips her shackles and seems to be happy; the other never does. Check it out here. Is this what they really think about us?

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Permanent Fund has "worst quarter in over 20 years." The Juneau Empire reports that trustees got sober news - the fund dipped 4.5 percent, mostly due to a poor-performing stock portfolio.

"It was the scariest quarter in my professional life," said Michael O'Leary, a longtime adviser to the trustees.

The flip side is, foreign bond investments did well in the same period. And according to fund managers, April numbers look better. Still, one month doesn't make a trend, managers say.

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Feeling safer in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks News-Miner reports that serious crime is down in their town, two years in a row. Police Chief Dan Hoffman says putting more traffic cops on the beat has can affect all kinds of crime. Fairbanks went from two to four cops in traffic patrol.

Hoffman notes that traffic cops can't stop burglars from breaking in, but they might stop them for a traffic violation and find out there's a warrant out for their arrest.

"One of the most frustrating things about police work ...there's no way of knowing how much crime is prevented through those efforts," he said.

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The last word, from KodiakKonfidential. This blogger calls it "The CSI Alaska quote of the week." It came out of the newspaper's "Talk of the Dock" man-on-the-street column, which asked:

What would you like to see come out of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Kodiak?

The best answer? A lot of bodies.

"That's why I loves me some Kodiak," KK writes, then chastises the NPFMC for meeting in a small venue.

"What up, NPFMC? Afraid of a little public input?"

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Other headlines of interest:

< Alaska mountain makes it into a snowboarding video game

< Old Believers hold 40th reunion

< The FCC gives a digital deadline that may not apply in rural Alaska

< How to get $2,500 to "fire-wise" your house

< Juneau keeps property tax level

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