Victoria Barber

“Emotional Creature” is a play currently midway through its run at Cyrano’s that sets out to explore the inner lives of 21st century women around the world -- the ways they speak out, stay silent, rebel and conform.

This is not a single dramatic narrative but a series of monologues interspersed with some ensemble pieces and musical numbers. It’s performed by seven young Anchorage actresses who sometimes play the same character in different scenes but more often jump to different roles and cultures...

Victoria Barber

Note: Chinese New Year will begin on Thursday, Feb. 19. We originally hoped to run former state Poet Laureate Tom Sexton’s poem, printed here with the author’s permission, on Jan. 1. But other events intervened. However, it seems that the start of the Year of the Goat is an even more appropriate for this poem given the characteristics associated with the year and those born in it: gentleness, stability, sympathy, inclined toward delicate thoughts, strong creativity, a desire to avoid being the center of attention but instead to experience the world as an integral part of it and spending much time in thoughtfulness. Happy new year.

-- Mike Dunham

Clearing After Snow Over Mountains and River

By Tom Sexton...

Mike Dunham,Victoria Barber

The State Fair has announced the first five acts coming up for the 2015 Alaska State Fair. So far there's a lot of country, a little rock 'n' roll and some classic rock, too.

Among them is Kacey Musgraves ("Merry Go 'Round," "Follow Your Arrow"), whose debut release "Same Trailer Different Park" won Grammys for best country album and best country song in 2014. She'll be joined by Nashville hit-maker Lee Brice ("I Drive Your Truck") and Grammy-nominated David Nail ("Whatever She's Got").

Over on the rock side of things, "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry will bring up his pop-rock band Daughtry ("It's Not Over," "Home"). Rounding out the group is classic jazz rock group Blood Sweat and Tears ("You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel")...

Victoria Barber

So it hasn't been the coldest winter, but that hasn't stopped the usual January woes -- it's dark, it's chilly, the holidays are over and, of course, everyone seems to be coming down with something.

Cheer up these midwinter nights with one of life's great pleasures: a beautifully constructed bowl of soup. From spicy kimchi to savory French onion, our staff lists their picks for outstanding bowls around town. (And there's a bonus recipe for those who prefer to cook their own). Grab a spoon and get comfortable...

Victoria Barber

I want to start by pointing out some of the positives about Hard Rock Café Anchorage. Located where a certain notorious nightclub used to be, Hard Rock has already gone out of its way to create a venue for local musicians (the Whipsaws will be rocking out for the winter solstice). They've also hosted fundraisers for a number of worthy community causes -- Breast Cancer Focus Alaska, Toys for Tots, Bean's Café and others.

It seems that Hard Rock’s management is making an effort to get involved in the community when they could have stuck to luring in tourists walking the Fourth Avenue strip. Good for them.

Now, about the dining experience...

Victoria Barber

Holiday roundup: Favorite recipes for your Thanksgiving table

Looking for a little inspiration for your holiday feast? We've assembled a collection of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes shared over the years by Alaska Dispatch News food writers. From starters and savory sides to sweet and decadent desserts, traditional Alaska foods, and even the next day's breakfast, this list offers something to tempt every palate, impress every in-law, and leave every guest begging to take home leftovers. Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Victoria Barber

Let’s take a moment to remember the old Natural Pantry: that pokey old building attached to the University Mall, with its harsh fluorescent lighting, chaotic shelves and bewildering labyrinth of naturopathic bottles and salves. And how it was just about impossible to walk through the door without dropping a small fortune. Two organic onions? That will be $30, please.

That Natural Pantry -- the building, at least -- is gone. Anchorage’s only organic/natural foods grocery store has moved over several blocks to a different location and a shiny new complex that would be the envy of any Whole Foods...

Victoria Barber
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Let’s take a moment to remember the old Natural Pantry: that pokey old building attached to the University Mall, with its harsh fluorescent lighting, chaotic shelves and bewildering labyrinth of naturopathic bottles and salves....

Victoria Barber

For 10 years, the members of VivaVoom Brr-Lesque have sashayed their way across Anchorage stages, performing more than 150 shows to packed audiences across the city.

While many artistic organizations in Anchorage struggle to fill seats and then fade away, VivaVoom emcee and co-owner Kamala Stiner said VivaVoom has had less than a handful of performances that haven’t been entirely sold out, and many regulars that come back again and again.

VivaVoom often leads workshops, but beyond "boa and glove removal," the troupe offers a lesson in how powerful the combination of good-natured naughtiness and a positive attitude can be. And glitter.

"Everything gets blinged," Stiner said...

Victoria Barber

I've always had a soft spot for the Anchorage Nordstrom. Sure, it's expensive, part of a national chain and attached to a mall, but when I think of the store those facts are veiled by thousands of pleasant memories going back to when I was a young child.

What I think of most is how, growing up, if there was an important occasion, my mom would sometimes take me to Nordstrom to get something special. Then we would take a table at the little cafe, which is tucked away on the second floor. It has low amber lighting and the waitstaff all wear long white aprons. Feeling fancy and grown-up, I'd tell her about school and my friends as we sat with our glossy, dove-gray shopping bags and ate lunch...

Victoria Barber