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Alaska Life

This Weekend: Critters aplenty with whales, birds and seal hops

Katie: Brother Ben, welcome to "This Weekend," the April 26-28 addition. Come. Sit down, take a break from all that news mining; make yourself at home with the arts and culture weirdos. Allow me to begin.

Big weekend for wildlife related events. Like whales? Yes. Everybody loves whales! Wait, where have I heard that before?

The Whale Fest in Kodiak is a two-week-long festival that pays homage to the Eastern Pacific Gray Whale's seasonal return to Alaska waters. Whale pilgrims from all over the world travel to Kodiak to participate in all kinds of marine-themed fun including, but not limited to, lectures, workshops, seminars, film screenings and various "watchings." It's kind of a big deal, Ben, you should check it out. Because you love whales so much.

Then there's the Stikine River Delta Birding Festival in Wrangell. Fun fact: The festival, which runs April 25-28, was organized around the myriad of springtime birds visiting the Stikine River Delta to feast on the fishy delicacy known as Hooligan. Mmmm, Hooligan. Bird watchers may also see bald eagles aggressively fishing.

Ben: It's funny you refer to me as "Brother Ben," as this week I've been grappling with the realization that someday some little kid will likely be referring to me as "Uncle Ben." Whether it's the guy on the rice box or the dead uncle of Spider-Man, it's not a particularly prestigious moniker.

Also among recent revelations: Eowyn Ivey, an Alaska novelist whose book "The Snow Child" debuted to critical acclaim, was last week named as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It came as much of a surprise to Ivey herself as it did to the rest of the country, and on Friday, she'll be hosting a discussion with fellow author Leigh Newman at Cyrano's Playhouse in downtown Anchorage. It's too late to build hipster credibility by saying you read "The Snow Child" before it was a Pulitzer finalist, but don't let that stop you from attending a talk with a still up-and-coming Alaska literary superstar. The event begins at 7 p.m.

Also on the slate this weekend downtown in the state's largest city is a convergence of more than 500 athletes from all around Alaska who will be competing in the Native Youth Olympics. This event is free and a lot of fun, featuring Alaska Native sporting events like the high kick, the seal hop and the wrist carry. If you don't know what any of those events looks like, check out this slideshow from last year's NYO. Who knows, maybe you'll even see an impromptu display of the most painful of all sporting events: the ear pull. The event ends on Saturday.

And with that, back to you, Medred.

Katie: Anderson, you of all people must know that Peter Parker's late Uncle Ben was an upstanding man, a magnanimous man! If it weren't for Uncle Ben's moral teachings Spider-Man would have turned out to be a total vindictive hooligan (unlike the fish, which are just mindless. It's not their fault).

And from hooligans to hearts, so I make a totally seamless transition from the philosophical into the professional without missing a beat. The Heart Run in Anchorage, everyone's favorite foot race, is Saturday, beginning at some ungodly hour. So strap on your cleats, er running shoes, and hit the concrete beat, Ben. This is an annual affair; a super serious, competitive for-a-good-cause-so-let's-just-have-fun-no-pleasure kind of affair. But seriously, if you don't win your age division I will mock you for the rest of your life.

Ahem. Excuse me. There may be a bit of childhood trauma that slipped out there, but never mind that. What you should mind, instead, is the fact you're going to miss Theophilus London-- that sharp dressing indie rapper from Brooklyn, N.Y.-- play for a crowd of hooligans in Fairbanks Friday night. London is preforming as part of 2013 SpringFest at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Advanced tickets are $15 for students, $25 for the general public and performers take the stage at 8 p.m. Too bad you won't be there. But then again, neither will I.

Ben: Sorry Katie, I'm just not sure I can take any more tips on music from you, after you mocked my excitement over the news that Minnesota bluegrass band Trampled By Turtles (featured in the video below) will be the headliner at this year's Salmonstock festival in Ninilchik. That doesn't exactly take place this weekend (it's actually in August), but you can buy tickets now, so I'm counting it.

Finally, if you need a fix of folksy tunes now, Arlo Guthrie will be making an appearance in Fairbanks Sunday at the Hering Auditorium. A bit of good news from attending an Arlo Guthrie show -- if he plays his biggest hit, "Alice's Restaurant," you're guaranteed a fairly lengthy set, since that song alone clocks in at more than 18 minutes. He's been known to extend it when he plays live, too. Anyway, tix are $40 and available here. Curtain up at 5 p.m.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at) and Katie Medred at katie(at)

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