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Mike Dunham

Former Anchorage resident Walter Joseph Booi died at his daughter’s home in Yakima, Washington, on Oct. 24 at the age of 92. The longtime resident of Spenard survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of his aircraft carrier and found new ways to make long-distance communication work in Alaska. More importantly, he found ways to move beyond personal trauma to stay cheerful, help others in need and forgive the most detested enemy.

Booi, the son of Charles and Mary (Hardebeck) Booi, was born in Yakima on June 3, 1922. The family lived in harsh poverty through the 1930s, depending on welfare and living in a government-issued tent with a dirt floor. Booi read science fiction and technology magazines to help escape the dreariness of the Depression...

Mike Dunham
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Inevitable fragility is, in a way, what “Groundwork,” a solo exhibit by Anchorage artist Keren Lowell, is all about...

Mike Dunham

Artist Keren Lowell began installing the largest piece in her one-woman show last month with no clear idea about how the final product would appear once she had all the parts in place.

“I didn’t know what it would look like,” she said. “It was scary.”

All the scarier when you consider that “Groundwork” would be the first “big” show she’d ever had.

In fact, four of the works in the seven-piece show had never been assembled before they were put up. They were, in a sense, born right there in the gallery on the fourth floor of the Anchorage Museum.

With limited space at home, Lowell did much of the work outside during the summer, creating her fabric sculptures in a series of individual strips to be connected later...

Mike Dunham

Aside from Shakespeare’s, few plays have had as much analysis lavished on them as “Hedda Gabler” and few characters have had more written about them than Hedda herself. Henrik Ibsen’s updating of Medea is variously cited as a study in psychosis, a cry for women’s liberation and an indictment of bourgeois mundaneness, among other theories.

But I think the real reason people have gone to see it over and over again for the past 100-plus years is that it’s a superbly-crafted soap opera, with as many twists as three seasons of “Downton Abbey” but happily compressed into three hours...

Mike Dunham

I’d always thought of yaks as pack animals, but it turns out the meat of the Tibetan cousin of cows is delicious, and it’s now available in Alaska. I picked up a pound of ground yak this month at the Wednesday Center Market in the Mall at Sears.

The meat, at least in ground form, has no wild or exotic taste whatsoever. If anything, it tastes more like cow than cow. It’s leaner than all but the most fat-free cuts of beef or bison, and that’s made it something of a “thing” in Lower 48 restaurants catering to health-conscious consumers.

A few Alaska farmers are raising the big, hairy, horned and oddly cute species, including Anita Hill of Sunny Hill Ranch near Willow, who raised the meat I bought...

Mike Dunham

Randy Tedor stood with a chunk of obsidian in his right hand and a cylindrical rock in his left. He made a quick strike with the stone. It made a dull, grinding, crunching thud. A bit of obsidian dust drifted to the floor.

“I didn’t go hard enough,” he said, using the rock to smooth out the “plateau,” the spot where he wanted to hit the obsidian. Then he struck again. This time there was a sharp, deep "crack" sound.

“You hear that?” he said. “That’s how you know you got it right.” And he peeled off a large flake of razor-sharp volcanic glass from the main chunk...

Mike Dunham

Haida weaver Delores Churchill and filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein will travel to Anchorage from Southeast to host the local premiere of “Tracing Roots” at the Anchorage Museum at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19. The documentary follows Churchill as she investigates the spruce root hat found with 300-year-old Kwaday Dan Ts’inchi , whose naturally mummified remains were found in the glacial heights near the Alaska-Canada border...

Mike Dunham

Anchorage showbiz stalwart Alex Pierce left for Los Angeles last year in search of the big acting breaks that can only happen in one of the great entertainment capitals of America.

He came back to town this week as part of the cast in the production of “Les Miserables” that the Anchorage Concert Association is bringing to Atwood Concert Hall Oct. 17-26. He'll have a busy schedule, with only one day off during the 12-show run, but Pierce plans to make good use of the time to do a little hometown P.R.

“I’m trying to show some people in the cast around Anchorage,” he said. “A couple have visited before, but a lot of them are California natives who have never even seen snow.”...

Mike Dunham

Congratulations to Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free, which marks its first anniversary on Wednesday. To celebrate, they’ll be offering free jars of a special concoction to customers that day at Center Market at the Mall at Sears. Kristin Donaldson said she spent a month concocting the special item and came up with Roasted Banana Blueberry Puree topped with a generous layer of quinoa...

Mike Dunham

Alaska foodies who want to give their cookbook shelves local flavor have no shortage of publications. There are a number of collections of berry and fish dishes, some with a gourmet angle. Several offer indigenous recipes and home-grown ingredients. Many are on the light side, like “Serving the North Slope,” a small, comb-bound collector’s item from 1990 with cartoons and instructions for making Eskimo donuts, salmon sausage and pickled muktuk, among other things...

Mike Dunham

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