Friday, February 26, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yet More Reasons Why I Live Here

and not there...

1) The dog races. It's hard to find a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than munching ham sandwiches watching the sprint races on a warm, sunny blue-sky day. And where else but Alaska would sled dogs be treated as centerfolds? This morning found my SO pouring over the FDNM's cheesecake photo-spread of Hans Gatt's winning Yukon Quest team as if it were a Playboy magazine he had surreptitiously hidden beneath the bed.

2) Taco King. Yes, my blogmate has already noted this authentic (and authentically cheap) Mexican restaurant. It deserves mention again. Because after a day at the dog races, I then went on to savor a south-of-the-border dinner with a friend, prior to going to...

3) Fairbanks Shakespeare Theater's production of the The Tempest. Not only it is a treat to be able to go to productions in the Empress Theater (one of the very few old buildings still left in strip mall Squarebanks), but it is not hyperbole to say that FST is rare treasure, not just here, but anywhere in the US. Their sets are always minimal, clever and evocative, and their stagings (with one notable exception, at least for me, of Richard the III set unfortunately in Nazi Germany) witty, bright and polished. This run is no exception. Ariel deserves special mention for his fantastic body paint and green contact lenses, as does the incorporation of the band Good Daze to provide both the mood setting for Prospera's island, and some lively musical interludes throughout the play.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Its February, when the light returns, and it is not such a stretch to envision green trees, gardens and near 24-hour daylight. Everything looks good in February - except inside the house, where once again the returning sun illuminates the incredible scrim of wood ash, dog fur, and other detritus I have been nesting in these past four months. But even so, dogs, the Bard and a darn good adobada - how can it be anything but all good?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In Alaska, You Can Near Always Find a Coffee Hut

As those of you who are regulars here at FBH might have noticed, coffee and beer are among my two favorite pleasures in life.  Behold then, a sight that made my Grinchy heart grow by two sizes that day:

Ladies and gentlemen, possibly the world's northernmost coffee hut: Aarigaa Java in Barrow.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Modern Proposal: For Preventing the Palins from Being (More of) a Burden to Their Country and Relatives

Clearly, as the strange phenomenon that is the national obsession with She Who Shall Not Be Named shows no signs of abatement, those of us who have not drunk the Kool-Aid should consider more drastic measures than the liberal application of reason, evidence and logic. 

The time has come for those of us Alaskans with a political memory going back far enough to remember the days before that someone swallowed up the reputation and image of this fine place to make sacrifices.  For the good of all of us, even those living in Wasilla, we need to make the ultimate sacrifice:

We must, friends, bring her back to Alaska, even if it means electing or appointing her to something.  We must 'take one for the team.'

In the former case, the only caveat, of course, is that it can't be a national position, i.e., a House or Senate seat.  The idea is to keep her, like that crazy second cousin with who thinks the post office is unconstitutional, occupied and far away from things like the cable news circuit and national political office.

We might form a political action committee, the "Bring Sarah Back" PAC, and begin fundraising immediately.  A movement starts with a few volunteers before it turns into a for-profit venture, and personally, I'd be willing to spend a few bucks and some sign waving afternoons if it meant a person could open up a newspaper or take a look at a online news site without being forced to translate English into English.  We could use the money we raise to pay for her 'speaking fees' (in-state engagements only, please.)

Personally, I favor reappointing her to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  I don't know that there really are any qualifications or requirements to be on it, which is a plus, and it pays very well:  $120,000 a year. And what we are buying, really, is peace of mind.

So what is to be?  State office or state appointment? 

If for no other reason, I urge you to support the BringSarahBackPAC so that when a person admits to being from Alaska, the non-Alaskan can think of only one thing to ask about: 

Polar bears.

Friday, February 05, 2010

You've Got Mail

Coming home from ingesting a Teriyaki cheese steak gut bomb (the second in as many days - the blogmate and I finally got together last night at IJ's for burgers and beer), I caught the tail end of Alaska News Nightly.

That little story about the 1,500 Palin emails finally released to MSNBC by the State, after - what - a good year and 1/2 of foot dragging? Now that was a precious thing to hear. It gave me the tiniest glimmer of hope that maybe this is the tail of the rope that will not so much hang her as finally shut her the hell up.

Although I don't usually surf for news, preferring to get mine in the diluted pabulum form that is the News Miner (because I just can't shake the habit of a morning cuppa with news that I can hold in my hand), I had to go to MSNBC to check it out. The story more than satisfied.

Before I veer off into the outrage that engulfed me despite the fact that I should be totally numb to palinography, let me note the network's stroke of genius: its invite to channel our inner muckraker by combing through an online database of the Palin emails, and to help MSNBC reporters connect the dots of this travesty of governance that was the Palin administration. What a nifty way to recruit eyes to help sift the gold from the dross as more and more of these emails start flowing in.

That the State tried to buffle its way out of this public records request by claiming it would cost $15M didn't raise this blogger's eyebrows. As a veteran of many a public records request battle with the State, I know that little trick. I have had some fairly outrageous price tags thrown at me when I wanted records that weren't going to put a particular State Division in a very good light. I also famously once had a notebook hurled at me by [redacted], then head of the Division of [redacted], who shouted at me that from then on, he was instructing his employees to buy their own notebooks for meeting notes so they couldn't be obtained through a public records request.

Obviously Palin isn't the first state official to have the misbegotten notion that if state officials use "private" media to memorialize and communicate state business this makes them immune from the public right to know.

And that is where my outrage just refuses to be stifled. Are the Palins arrogant or ignorant, or some lethal combination of both? I just don't know, but I fear it is the latter - which is the most dangerous to our civil rights and democracy. Because who really buys (other than the Tea Partiers, the Fundys and other extreme right wing nuts) the Palin camp spin on this: that the emails merely reflect the spousal succor that Todd offered his wife in her tough job as Governor.

How stupid do they think we are? Of course, wives and husbands of people in public office are sounding boards and advisors, and yes, they do have a lot more information about what really happens during the execution of official duties and responsibilities than others outside that private circle. But that sure as hell aint the same thing as being in direct contact with employees of the Governor's Office and essentially conducting business the same as if one was the Governor. Which is how a whole lot of those released emails read.

Truthfully, I find the emails from Sarah trying to hide the fact that we Alaskans paid for electrical upgrades for her tanning bed amusing, and as with the Corrupt Bastards Club, a bit embarrassing. If I have said it once, I have said it a 1000 times: our corrupt politicians are sooo petty and cheap. Free wiring, dry-cleaning and flights for their brood, or maybe an electric massage chair and a large propane barby for the king salmon on the newly remodeled wrap around deck; these guys and gals (don't leave Bev Masek out of the mix) barely think beyond the double-wide.

Nope, I got a feeling these emails are going to be a lot like the Bill Allen secret videos. I suspect when its all digested and analyzed, they will reveal corruption and abuse of power. This time around its not a bunch of good ole boys guzzling beer, scratching their nuts and using potty mouth as they talk about who they are going to buy. But its the same vile brew of venality, self-aggrandizement and parochialism.

Sarah may have racked up a $150K tab on her campaign wardrobe, but all too soon I think its going to be clear the Empress has no clothes.