IT BEGINS . . . The new all-Republican Senate majority gathered in Girdwood this weekend for an "organizational retreat" at the Alyeska Resort. In case every legislator hasn't already heard his pitch, Gov. Sean Parnell and a bunch of revenue minions were expected to explain why we absolutely must give the oil companies a $2-billion-a-year tax break. (As you know, under current law the companies are barely scraping by.)
Are they really calling the retreat ACES Training 101? (ACES is the tax law they hate.) Is the Alaska public paying for this? Maybe the oil companies are paying. If you know the answer, send Ear an email.
RANK . . . Gallup published the results of its annual "most admired" poll Thursday. Hillary and Barack topped the lists for most admired woman and man of 2012. Not exactly big news, given that this is Hillary's 17th year in the top slot, and the president's fifth.
Alas, Our Sarah dropped to fifth place. (She was second in 2011). The question is, why?
OK, let's be honest. The real question is, Sarah Palin is still one of America's 10 most admired women? You're kidding, right?
Hey, let's be fair. Sarah is gorgeous and dresses great. She convinced us to elect her governor and conned an old man into picking her to be vice president of the United States. Then she parlayed a humiliating loss into reality TV fame and a multimillion-dollar life.
Plus she's the gift that keeps on giving -- to Ear, at least.
What's not to admire?
FILED . . . In other Palin news (because there's never enough), Bristol had to take out a restraining order against some Texas loony who's stalking her and sent her an unsolicited engagement ring. This is genuinely creepy, and possibly dangerous.
Mama Grizzly, get your gun.
FOWL WORDS . . . How do we explain Alaska to an Outsider -- there are so many conflicting goals at play: We want them to visit but not move in. We like to exaggerate how "frontier" we are, but we don't want to seem backward. We hate "their" federal government but we love "our" federal trough. You get the drift.
But sometimes the plain, unvarnished truth is best. An Outsider following last week's Top of the World 350 sled-dog race posted the following question about the Chicken checkpoint, and got the following answer from the race's website manager:
Q. Are the citizens of Chicken close-knit like a family since (I'm assuming) everyone knows each other? -- Megan, South Dakota
A. Imagine one of those Thanksgiving Dinners where the whole family gets together and it's lots of fun, but some people get on other people's nerves and now you're thinking it might be nice if cousin Ethel would just make up her mind about whether or not she wants gravy, and why did Aunt Louise have to bring her kids again, and is Grandpa ever going to stop with those stories about the time he swallowed a live gerbil? Now imagine it's never ending and there's no more cranberry sauce.
BYE LINE . . . Earwigs of the journalistic persuasion report Alaska Dispatch founders/co-owners Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger are calling it quits in their personal and professional partnerships. Apparently, mixing marriage and business still has its risks. At any rate, Amanda's off the team. Why is it always the woman who hits the road in these situations?
Rumor-mongers with a tenuous connection to reality claim Amanda's landing jelly-side down had something to do with a well-known lobbyist.
OUT AND ABOUT . . . Was that Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, watching fireworks from the Crow's Nest bar New Year's Eve with former Sullivan party planner, Joe Miller campaign worker and talk show host Bernadette Wilson? Ear questions this sighting because the lovely Bernadette is usually arm candy for Republicans.
ON THE MOVE . . . C.W. Floyd, long-time military and veterans affairs staffer to Sen. Mark Begich, officially retired on Dec. 21. C.W. started with Begich back when Mark was Anchorage mayor. His main focus was constituent work, primarily helping military folk with benefit issues. Word is he's going to do the snowbird shuffle between here and California.
If you missed the news reports, his replacement is Bob Doehl.
HAPPY NEW YEAR . . . As we practice writing 2013, let's take a moment to celebrate a few 2012 events that continue into the new year:
MOST IMPROVED TENANCY -- Fromagio's Artisan Cheese took over the Spenard shop previously occupied by Drop Zone, the gun-and-guard place run by the Joe Miller bodyguard who handcuffed a reporter trying to ask questions and later became a snitch in the Fairbanks militia case.
MOST SUCCESSFUL REHAB -- After a year, former legislator Tom Anderson's radio talk show has expanded from one hour to two. Tom must be doing something right. The show started out as an hour a week, then expanded to an hour a day. Now it's two hours a day. It's on KOAN FM and Fox AM.
BEST EPONYMOUS PASTA -- Rubini Linguini. On the menu at Perry Green's restaurant in Palm Springs.
Compiled by Sheila Toomey. Message Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org.