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Mike Dunham

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Every other summer, the village of Moosehide in the Yukon takes on the look of a medieval fair. Colorful tents and pavilions fill the space between old log cabins, dotting the grassy field that runs from the hilltop cemetery down to the big bank overlooking the river...

Mike Dunham

There was a flurry of excitement in the newsroom when a call came in last month announcing the selection of the 2014 White House Christmas Ornament. It should be exciting to Alaskans, the initial call said, because it will be a miniature version of “the train that brought President Harding to Alaska.”...

Mike Dunham

PALMER -- A big 1958 BMW R60 motorcycle dominates the waiting room of the Erik Christensen’s State Farm Insurance office in downtown Palmer. A bookshelf has been fashioned from a Honda frame. Along the walls and on desks you’ll spot pictures of bikes, logos and memorabilia.

“It’s a hobby that’s gotten out of control,” he said.

Out of control, maybe, but Christensen’s passion is turning out some beautiful pieces of machinery. It’s also turning heads in the international motorcycling community.

Christensen repurposes the components of older motorcycles to create one-of-a-kind road rockets that give him the ride he wants and look like sculptural art — a subcategory of bikedom called “cafe racers.”...

Mike Dunham

“The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!” will impress everyone who loves musicals -- and delight everyone who hates them. The song-and-dance fest entertainingly and effectively spoofs the conventions of the genre by recapitulating the same plot five times in a row, each time using a style that parodies different Broadway giants.

The story is the old melodrama schtick: Girl (Megan Perkins) can’t pay the rent; villain (Jesse Cayne) says she must; at the last moment, hero (Tyler Andrus) pays the rent. In the middle of each crisis, the girl gets advice from an older, wiser woman (Suzanne Snyder)...

Mike Dunham

As I rearranged my load of road trip essentials near the train station in Cantwell on a recent drive to Fairbanks, a gentleman with a worried expression pulled up and said, with a European accent, "We are looking for a restaurant."

I pointed to the Longhorn Saloon right behind him and he shuddered as if he thought the sommelier might look like Hoss Cartwright. I sent him on to Denali Park, 28 miles up the road...

Mike Dunham
Music

July jam

The musicians of the Alaska Jazz Workshop will showcase some of the music they’ve been working on at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at Organic Oasis. Two groups will perform jazz, funk and Latin styles: the Swingin’ Adult Jazz Quartet and the Hot Middle/High School Jazz Quintet. Admission is $5 at the door for everyone ages 13 and up; musically attentive 12-and-unders are free. Organic Oasis is located near Play it Again Sports, 2610 Spenard Road, Suite B.

Literature

‘Pilgrim’s’ paperback...

Mike Dunham

Longtime Anchorage cellist and music teacher Beth Leffingwell died Wednesday afternoon at home. She was 90.​​

Leffingwell had played in the cello section, usually in the principal first-chair position, with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra for 50 years. She was often assigned solo parts in orchestral works. A number of other cellists associated with the symphony collaborated in a concert in her honor, “Cellobration,” presented in March.

Elizabeth Stiles was born in Denver, Colorado on March 17, 1924. She studied music in her hometown and then at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, from which she graduated with a performer’s certificate, the equivalent of a masters degree...

Mike Dunham

Of the handful of structures that survive from the early years of Anchorage, the Wireless Transmitter Building on Government Hill was among the most important in the development of the city.

The narrow wood facility with living quarters, a generator room and transmission equipment was connected to an antenna array stretched 400 feet between 200-foot-tall masts. Its signal could reach Kodiak Island and ships up to 500 miles at sea. From 1917 to 1931, it supplied the only radio communication link between Anchorage and the 48 states.

It also served as the meeting headquarters for the engineers charged with planning and building the Alaska Railroad. The light on its cupola could be seen for miles down Cook Inlet and navigators used it to home in on Ship Creek...

Mike Dunham

FAIRBANKS -- Intermission was coming to a close at the July 5 performance of Opera Fairbanks’ “L’Italiana in Algeri” when someone drove into a power pole and knocked out electricity to a chunk of the city, including the Hering Auditorium.

Not only did the lights go out, so did the ventilation. The temperature was easily in the 80s...

Mike Dunham

An Alaska Air National Guard pararescue jumper was presented with a Silver Star at a ceremony on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Friday.

Master Sgt. Roger D. Sparks received America’s third-highest award for conspicuous valor in combat for his actions during a battle in Afghanistan on Nov. 14, 2010. Sparks and fellow PJ Capt. Koaalii Bailey flew into the Watapur Valley expecting to extract two wounded soldiers when “they were engulfed in a firestorm,” said Air Guard Maj. Joe Conroy in remarks to the crowd assembled at JBER’s Arctic Warrior Events Center.

Bullets buzzed and rockets exploded around them as they descended 40 feet by cable from a hovering helicopter.

“I thought we had three seconds to live,” Sparks recalled...

Mike Dunham

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