Mike Dunham

A videotape of Alaska Congressman Nick Begich and House Majority Leader Hale Boggs taken on the evening before they disappeared has emerged from the collection of Begich’s family. The tape consists mainly of Boggs speaking at a fundraising dinner at the Anchorage Westward Hotel on Oct. 15, 1972. The powerful majority leader from Louisiana was in the state to help Begich’s re-election campaign. The day after the tape was made, the two lawmakers left Anchorage in a small plane piloted by Don Jonz, headed for another fundraiser in Juneau. Also on the plane was Begich aide Russ Brown. The plane vanished and no sign of the aircraft or its occupants has ever been found. The grainy black-and-white tape appears to have been shot by a camera positioned in front of a monitor. The images are rough,...Mike Dunham
Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate from 2012-2014, will be the keynote speaker at the 2016 Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, to be held June 10-14 at Lands End Resort in Homer. The native of Gulfport, Mississippi, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 with her third book of poetry, “Native Guard,” which included an elegy for her mother, who was killed in an act of domestic violence. She now a professor in the creative writing department at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. State writer laureate Frank Soos, Sherry Simpson and Nancy Lord are on roster this year among 17 notable local and regional authors, editors and agents who will present talks on everything from writing styles to the business of getting published. Additional activities include a special post-conference...Mike Dunham
The deadline to apply for an individual artist grant from the Rasmuson Foundation will be March 1. Workshops to help people apply have already been held in Anchorage and Fairbanks and now, says Rasmuson program officer Jeff Baird, “We’re taking the show on the road.” Workshops will take place at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council building at noon on Friday, Jan. 29; at Sheet’Ka Kwaan Naa Kahidid Community House in Sitka at 10 a.m. Jan. 30; at the UAF Northwest Campus Conference Room in Nome at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2; and at the Yupiit Piciryarait Museum in Bethel at 5 p.m. on Feb. 3. Refreshments will be provided at each event. To be eligible, an artist should currently be producing or performing work, be 18 years or older and have lived in Alaska for at least two years. Grants range...Mike Dunham
First place in the two judged categories at the Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival went to breweries in Kenai and Anchorage. Buffalo Head Barley, from Kassik’s Brewery in Kenai, took top honors in the barley wine style category, besting 30 other barley wines from around the United States. Broken Tooth Brewing of Anchorage won the winter warmer category with Darth Delirium. For the first time ever in the festival, judges were unable to decide between second- and third-place winners. The result was a tie between Old Birdbrain Barleywine from Black Raven Brewing of Redmond, Washington, and Olde Gnarleywine, brewed by Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California. Read about Alaska's brewery boom Only the single first-place award is given in the winter warmer category. Old Birdbrain will...Mike Dunham
Art Photos in wax For the “ShoreZone” exhibit, the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council has asked three local artists to take a look at high-resolution digital images of coastal habitat and translate them into paintings. The images are used by scientists to produce hard data in a searchable form. Janet C. Hickok, Terisia Chleborad and Ness Nouveau -- all of whom work with cold wax or encaustic media -- found inspiration for their muses from the same photos, which are displayed along with the finished product. You can meet the artists at the Adventure Room of the Hotel Captain Cook between 5 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28. The exhibit will remain up on Friday. Theater Dinner with the grandmas Anchorage Community Theatre presents a heartwarming comedy, “Over the River and Through the...Mike Dunham
"Maria de Buenos Aires" has a whole bunch of music but surprisingly little singing. Most vocals are spoken, or rather declaimed, in Spanish. The current Anchorage Opera production used only the sparsest of projected titles giving a few words of English translation. There probably should have been more. At the end of the 75-minute show I heard a man with a Latin accent saying, "Wonderful! Beautiful!" His consort, who did not have a recognizable accent, replied, "You got more out of it than I did." One can understand an audience being confused. The story of Maria is surreal and allegorical, bordering on theater of the absurd. We're in a bar. Patrons drift in and tango. El Duende, the bartender, tells them about the birth of this mysterious and seductive woman. We see a baby being baptized...Mike Dunham
“She was born on the day God was drunk.” That description is one of the first things we learn about the title character of the opera “Maria de Buenos Aires,” which has its Alaska premiere this week. A bit unfocused, perhaps, but Astor Piazzolla’s “tango opera” is a hard piece to nail down. “Piazzolla has had an odd rap,” said Douglas Kinney Frost, who conducts the Anchorage Opera production that runs through Jan. 24. Piazzolla's music fused elements of classical, jazz and Latin pop, but he never fit neatly into any of the categories. Rather, his unique voice transcended all of them. He was his own musical category. Born in Argentina and raised in New York, he could compose exquisitely formal pieces and jam with the most adventurous jazz greats. But his works were always driven by the...Mike Dunham
"She was born on the day God was drunk.” That description is one of the first things we learn about the title character of the opera “Maria de Buenos Aires,” which has its Alaska premiere this week. A bit unfocused, perhaps, but Astor Piazzolla’s “tango opera” is a hard piece to nail down. “...
Tara Young,Mike Dunham
We’re still waiting for the arts season to kick into high gear. In the meantime, thoughts turn to yesteryear and philosophy. So here’s a topic for your next round of meaningless speculation: Who were the most important people in the history of Alaska as part of the United States? It’s a question that’s likely to churn up a litany of names, but few known outside Alaska. There are reasons for that. In most places the important people have something to do with earth-shattering military activities or politics. But Alaska’s big battles have tended to be puny by world standards, with limited ramifications outside the local area. We don’t have a Kamehameha or Sam Houston, much less a Peter the Great or Genghis Khan. Our footprint in national and international history is more like a footnote...Mike Dunham
Nine years after his death, Kurt Vonnegut maintains a reputation as America’s greatest satirist since Mark Twain, with as many fans as ever. Those fans will attend Cyrano's current production of his only play, "Happy Birthday, Wanda June," with two questions in mind: How did this master of novels and short stories fare making a play and how well has the play held up over the past half-century? To answer the second question first, "Wanda June" holds up well in the sense that the writing remains very funny, as it does in his best prose fiction. Lines like, "There stand the loins from which you sprang" or "You feel like a paper bag filled with curtain rods" are deliciously silly, especially when delivered with sharp timing. The plot, a Vonneguttian twist on the last chapters of Homer’s “...Mike Dunham