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Mike Dunham

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It’s easy to walk into the Alaska State Fair through the Yellow Gate and miss the biggest addition to the fair grounds this year. A few heads may turn toward the fish wheel near the pathway and several fairgoers will feel their appetites aroused by the aroma of grilling salmon....

Mike Dunham
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In Anchorage, the Alaska State Council on the Arts unveiled the 11 new pieces recently added to the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank at a reception on Aug. 7....

Mike Dunham

In her program notes for “4000 Miles,” director Krista M. Schwarting says the play has “no dramatic shifts in character.” But shifts are there, though they come about incrementally over the course of the low-key but engrossing story.

“4000 Miles” is a sad and poignant piece convincingly dressed as comedy. The central character is a self-absorbed and pampered young man whose conflict with his family -- notably his mother -- has manifested in a lust for adventure and physical action. Leo hits climbing walls, lives on sailboats and rides a bike from Seattle to New York, where he finds that his girlfriend Bec doesn’t want him any more. So he crashes at his grandmother’s apartment...

Mike Dunham

Sunday’s performance in the Alaska Airlines Autumn Classics chamber music series featured a lot of strenuous virtuosity that drew a lot of loud applause from the audience at the University of Alaska Anchorage Fine Arts Building recital hall.

It didn’t start on a high note. The announced program was rearranged, Smetana’s Piano Trio in G Minor dumped and Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata" brought in. The notes were played competently enough by violinist Bella Hristova and pianist Gloria Chien, but the performance had all the emotional sparkle of a junior recital...

Mike Dunham

Paul Rudnick’s hit comedy “I Hate Hamlet” probes the conflict between art and entertainment. Which is most important, it asks -- feeding your soul or feeding your bank account?

Some productions approach the serious topic with a deliberate sense of nuance; the excellent 1995 rendition at UAA comes to mind. For the current show at Anchorage Community Theatre , however, director Colby Bleicher opts for unvarnished farce, playing up the sitcom stereotypes of the characters...

Mike Dunham

The Alaska Airlines Autumn Classics chamber music series has a new venue. The programs have been held at Grant Hall on the campus of Alaska Pacific University for so many years that I think my car can find its own way there and home again. This year, however, the recitals will take place in the UAA Arts Building recital hall. Patrons -- and my trusty Subaru -- can consider themselves informed.

This weekend’s lineup includes Sitka Summer Music Festival director Zuill Bailey on cello, a second cellist in the form of Nicolas Altstaet, violinist Bella Hristova and pianist Gloria Chien. They’ll perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7...

Mike Dunham

A seismic shift in how spying is conducted took place in the 1950s, and Alaska, an acknowledged front in the Cold War between the U.S. and USSR, was right at the epicenter.

“Alaska represents a time in CIA history when human espionage and technological espionage met and crossed,” said Robert Wallace, author of “Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda.”

The former director of the CIA Office of Technical Service, who retired in 2003, will give the luncheon speech at noon on Friday, Sept. 5, during the Cold War Conference and Nike Veterans Reunion taking place at the Hotel Captain Cook...

Mike Dunham

Sergei Khrushchev’s pale blue eyes have seen a lot of history. His broad, easy smile resembles that of his father, Nikita Khrushchev, premier of the Soviet Union from 1958 to 1964, during the height of the Cold War.

In Anchorage to deliver the keynote address of the Cold War Conference and Nike Veterans Reunion on Thursday, the soft-spoken Brown University professor, now an American citizen, gave a preview of his upcoming lecture.

“We had, in the Cold War, Eisenhower, my father and Kennedy,” he said. “I’ll be talking about how these three people changed the atmosphere in the world.”

All three men were what Khrushchev called “strong leaders,” which he described as one who does not hesitate...

Mike Dunham

PALMER -- “Marmaduke” claimed the title of king of the cabbages Friday night at the 19th annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair. At nearly 118 pounds, it wasn’t enough to unseat the world record of 138.25 pounds set in 2012, but the washing-machine-size vegetable grown by Steve Hubacek of Wasilla topped this year’s closest competitor by 4 pounds.

The expectations of the crowd in the bleachers at the Farm Exhibits Building were high. Hubacek and Scott Robb of Palmer, the grower of the world-record cabbage known as the “Palmer Pachyderm,” had each brought in plants weighing more than 111 pounds when the fair opened. These were for display, not for the Weigh-Off, so many presumed that the growers thought they had bigger offerings for the contest...

Mike Dunham

It’s easy to walk into the Alaska State Fair through the Yellow Gate and miss the biggest addition to the fairgrounds this year. A few heads may turn toward the fish wheel near the pathway and several fairgoers will feel their appetites aroused by the aroma of grilling salmon. But the eight humble plywood cabins with little signage are likely to escape the attention of most visitors as they make a beeline for the giant, familiar livestock exhibits building, established booths and the carnival beyond.

That’s expected to change by 2016, when the Gathering Place, a group of buildings and landscape features showcasing and celebrating Alaska Native art and tradition, takes its final form...

Mike Dunham

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