Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Artists dreams hit the paint

In Art, UAF on August 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm

This afternoon I sat down with Jenny Day (literally, on the floor of the Art Gallery) to discuss her thesis exhibition Copulated Nightmares Androgynous Daydreams. We didn’t have chairs, but who needs chairs when you have art?

A non-rhetorical question: what do dreams have to do with Day’s art? Honestly, quiet a bit. While Day cites life and it’s experiences as fodder for her canvas, her biggest influence is her dreams.  For more on that, however, you’ll have to flip open next weeks issue of the Sun Star.

While both the Daily News-Miner and our own college paper are covering the event, there is no way that some of her more visually interesting (and more “risque”) pieces will be published in a mainstream publication. It is for reasons like this that my blog exists. Below is a sample of 8 of her 53 pieces (which are all for sale, by the way) that I thought were pretty damn cool and worthy of mention.

For further reading:


Things you see at a college paper

In UAF on August 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Heather Bryant is always working. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

Things happen in an office; cool things, busy things, mellow things, hectic things. The office of the UAF Sun Star  (located in the Wood Center, suite 101G) is no different.

Last evening saw the crew “put the paper to bed”, slang for “we got the issues done.” Our editors (Andrew and Heather) were here until 3AM.

Now is the Wood Center Live event. Myself, Andrew, Heather and Kelsey are all gathered here. “Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers” is playing lively music on the record player (yes, record player). We feel…cool.The gang talks about cigars, fedoras and dancing. Are all newspaper families teams families like this?

Heather is already tackling the new issue. Next weeks issue. If there was an award for MVP she would get it.

Andrew is trying to figure out how tomorrow’s Fred Meyer Student Night is going to work with us not having press passes. Do we print temp ones? Do we go in lanyard-free, so to speak? He decides to print temp ones.

Kelsey is cruising XKCD and listening to her own tunes. She keeps an ear out to us, following our late night planning-babble.

Earlier in the evening we had two new faces stop by – a writer and a photographer. Our cool ASUAF president, Nikki C, stopped by to chat. She was also handing out condoms.

Is there a cooler campus in Alaska? – I don’t think so.

Cadywumpus: A Sun Star Webcomic

In Webcomics on August 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Another webcomic update! That must mean it’s Friday!

Half of this weeks dialogue is in Spanish…you know, as a treat for all of my cool bi-lingual-in-Spanish friends. If you don’t speak/read Spanish note that Zorro is making fun of Edward Cullen and, you know, maybe Babelfish the words if you need to. ^^

Zorro’s dialogue was translated from English to Spanish by the delightful Jamie Hazlett, B.A. Yes, that is short for “Bad Ass.” Please click the image for a larger rendering.

The Cost of 3D

In Alaskana, Cinema on August 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

While director-chic has always been in style, the double-spectacles look never will be. Photo by Jamie Hazlett.

I have a problem with 3D films.


While I want to say “because if I wanted things to be in 3D I wouldn’t be in a movie theater,” that is not an acceptable answer. However, here are three responses that I believe are acceptable.

1) It raises the cost of the cinema going experience. The current price of an adult (non-matinee) ticket at the Regal Goldstream Stadium 16 & IMAX in Fairbanks, AK is $10.75. The price of a 3D ticket is an additional $4.00. The total ticket price to see a 3D film after 6PM is therefore $14.75.

For contextual purposes, according to the user updated Alaska Gas Prices website, the current cost for a gallon of gas at the Airport Way Fred Meyers is $3.52. With the help of a little basic math, that means that…One 3D movie ticket is worth to a ticket-buyer 4.19 gallons of gasoline.

Is seeing (not even renting or buying) one film worth over four gallons of gasoline to you? Many of you probably think that it depends on the film. If so, fair enough.

2) You can only watch it with specialty glasses. This is a problem primarily for those who already wear glasses, don’t like them, or are afraid of them. Regretfully, however, the blogger was not able to find a satisfactory name for “fear of glasses.”

Wearing a pair of 3D glasses is a problem for one reason: if you already wear corrective lenses this means you’ll have to wear glasses over another pair of glasses. For anyone who suffers from eye problems this will only mean one word: obnoxious. For those who do not have eye issues, try putting on two pairs of sunglasses and leaving them on for 2-3 hours. That level of obnoxious.

[Blogger’s note: While you can watch a 3D film without 3D glasses, you can only do so at the expense of your own pleasure. To the uncovered eye, 3-dimensional elements will appear blurry and far-away and in a film that depends heavily on 3D for it’s box office sales (see Avatar) blurry and fair away is not what you want. Unless you didn’t like Avatar, then, yes, blurry and far away is what you want.]

3) Adding 3D after a film has been shot is tacky and ineffective. With a rise in the idea that a film can be made “better” when 3D is added to it (think The Last Airbender), the result has been a lessening of the cinema-going experience. Especially when the technique is done poorly.

What do I mean? Steve Persall, a film critic for the St. Petersburg Times, had this to say:

Genuine 3D movies (sometimes called “native 3D”) like Avatar are shot with stereo cameras, with two lenses slightly offset, creating a ghost image that 3D glasses bring into focus. 2D movies use traditional single-lens cameras, and conversion to 3D is accomplished with computers “drawing” a reasonable facsimile of a ghost image. It’s a digital lithograph, so to speak, rather than an original painting.

In my opinion, 3D is fine as a novel effect. If used in the right film, it can even add a certain je ne sais quoi. However, when it ceases to be unique and starts becoming commonplace it will cease to be interesting or entertaining. One candy bar is fine, an entire box all at once is gluttony. Film goers want to see 300 in 3D, not Chocolat.

For Further Reading:

Mrs. King goes to Japan

In UAF on August 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Rauchelle King poses for a picture in the International Travel section at the local Barnes and Noble last week. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

Japanese and Business student Rauchelle King is about to become Mrs. International. No, she isn’t set to wed the world (although she is married), instead she’s about to hitch her wagons and head west to Japan.

Why Japan? “Well, I’m going because I’ve always wanted to…and it’s a degree requirement,” the excited (and pragmatic) King said in a recent interview. King will be heading to Nagoya Gakuin University, a private college, in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan in order to accomplish more proficiency with the Japanese language. “It (Japanese) is really hard,” she said. “The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it.” According to UAF professor David Henry, the average third year student “should be able to converse, more or less” with a native Japanese speaker.

While King’s main goal is language proficiency, she also hopes to help her new Japanese friends better understand American culture. “All they see (of America) is TV and movies,” she said, adding that those from Japan that she has spoken to often have a skewed view of Americans. However, according to Henry, every Japanese student since 1945 had taken at least six years of English. Generally, American English.

“They know more about the states then most (Americans) do,” Henry added.

Ultimately, King intends to start her own consulting firm which would be geared toward working with Japanese businesses and tourists. “I would like to teach a course about Japanese culture and language to employees of Alaskan business[es] so that they can deal with Japanese people [better],” she wrote in a recent email. “[For now], I’ll probably just try to get a job with Chena Hot Springs or Princess Hotels, helping them with their Japanese tourist side of things,” she added.

What’s the worst part about going? Being away from her husband, Josh. “If it wasn’t for him, I’d stay for a year (instead of just one semester).” While she remains enthusiastic about her trip, she is preparing herself for that first day away from Alaska and her beau. “The day (I leave), when my husband drops me off, I’m sure I’ll be bawling my eyes out,” she said.

No word on what she’ll tell her new Japanese friends about Sarah Palin, however.

Murkowski sign vandalized

In Alaskana, Political on August 22, 2010 at 10:31 pm

While there will be a Super Special Weekend Update as promised in last Sunday’s post, consider this something a little different. Something far more graphic, and I don’t mean web-comic graphic. I mean “political protest graffiti” graphic.

My wife and I were on the way to Barnes and Noble at around 9:30 when we spotted these two signs. We returned home, grabbed the camera, and this is what we got…no other signs along College Rd. appeared to be defaced.

A vandalized "Lisa Murkowski for Senate" sign sits unmoved at the corner of Aurora Dr. and College Rd. on Sunday night. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

Another vandalized Murkowski sign. This one on the opposite side of the Aurora Dr./College Rd. intersection. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

LiBerry Music Festival as easy as pie

In Alaskana, Music Reviews on August 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Local musician Jesse Hobbs performs during the 2010 LiBerry Music Festival in Ester, AK.

I arrived at the LiBerry Music Festival at 3:30 PM. The Golden Eagle, the only pub in Ester, was packed and off in thedistance I could hear the tinny hiss of music being piped through a sound system. I heard someone (it turned out to be the “Banana Girls Ukulele Band”) up at Hartung Hall singing  a song about construction. I thought to myself  “…yep, this is it. This is Ester.”

The 5th Annual LiBerry Music Festival is aimed at raising money for the construction of a new public library in Ester. According to, the current library contains roughly 5,000-7,000 volumes and is housed in a small red building next to the Golden Eagle.

Sarie Brainerd, one of the members of the ukulele band, lives in Ester. “The community tries to have a couple of fundraisers a year,” she said, noting that all proceeds go to the construction of the new library. Brainerd has been a member of the band for two years now and both sings and plays the ukulele.

I made my way down to the Golden Eagle where local favorite Jesse Hobbs was playing guitar. Outside the pub, nestled around a small table, were the three members of this years LiBerry Pie Throwdown judging panel: Judie Gumm (a local silversmith), Natasha Beadle, and state senator David Guttenberg.

I asked Guttenberg how he’d been roped into becoming a pie judge. “I’m the celebrity judge,” he said, smiling. An older woman emerged from inside the pub and asked how the judging was going: “It’s trouble, it’s nothing but trouble,” Guttenberg said, laughing.

I know that I personally could never vote for an individual who didn’t like pie.

The all ages music festival will continue until this evening at midnight. The concert list can be accessed at the LiBerry Music Festival homepage below.

For further reading:

Ester Library’s Blog:

LiBerry Music Festival homepage:

Cadywumpus: A Sun Star Webcomic

In Alaskana, Webcomics on August 20, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Enter Cadywumpus 2.0.

I intend on making the webcomic a weekly update, because, lets face it, we all need a little comic relief. Yes, I did just pun up this blog a little bit.

A brief note on the comic: anthropomorphic books doing what such books do, after hours, in the Rasmuson Library. ’nuff said? Enjoy.

Scientists talk science, not buzzwords

In UAF on August 18, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Fran Ulmer, UAA chancellor, speaks at the Princess Lodge on Thursday night. Photo by Jesse Hoff.

While the main attraction at last Thursday’s oil spill listening session was the attendance of retiring UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer, I found that the most interesting aspect of the evening was simply listening to and watching the four member science panel talk about, well, science.


Well, when a topic becomes popular enough (for instance, “Global Warming”) certain buzz-words or buzz-phrases begin to enter into our collective dictionary. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill itself has given rise to several buzzwords and colloquial sayings such as “the disaster in the Gulf”, the “Gulf oil spill”, “BP”, “tar balls”, “cap”, “blow-out” and several others, I am sure. The Deepwater spill has had such an impact on our nations psyche that even at our own Red Green Regatta there were at least two crafts there that shared the spill as their theme.

But what does this have to do with the listening session?

To put it blatantly (and rather clichéd): Everything.

At the session, scientists were there to tell Fran Ulmer, one of seven members of the recently established (and awkwardly titled) National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, just what she needed to know. They refrained from an emotional outpouring and did so without the use of  buzzwords.

In fact, three out of the four scientists on the panel seemed to have been more concerned about letting Ulmer know the importance of the sciences themselves, and in scientific research, then in discussing the oil spill. At least, as it seemed to me, they seemed more interested in the spill as a research opportunity then as a “disaster.” And to be honest, why not make the best out of a bad situation?

Mike Castellini, the Interim Dean of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, felt that what Ulmer’s commission should do is gather information to prevent a spill of the Gulf’s magnitude from happening again. According to Castellini, “having (scientific) information ahead of time is just as important as having it after the fact,” he said, arguing for the importance of oceanographic studies in cleaning up the Deepwater spill. “It’s very hard to describe the after if you don’t know what the before was like,” said the man with the dolphin belt buckle (he was totally wearing one which was super cool). David Christie, the Director of the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, also agreed with Castellini. He was sporting a fantastic necktie with a geographical map of Australia emblazoned across it. Finally, I noted, scientists with a sense of style.

Tom Weingartner, a professor of Physical Oceanography at UAF and the recent winner of the 2010 Emil Usibelli Distinguished Research Award, stressed that the study of ocean currents remains critical in oil cleanups. During the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) scientists (Weingartner among them) realized that much of the oil spilled eventually settled to the bottom of the sea floor, with the implication that the same will happen in the gulf.

What those three men said, basically, was that science reveals an events impact upon the environment and that scientists are needed to interpret such revelations. I felt torn between applauding and saying “yeah, we know.”

For further reading:

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Local tea house offers workshops, a good strong cuppa

In Alaskana on August 17, 2010 at 9:13 pm

The front portico of the "Sipping Streams Tea House" in Fairbanks, AK. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

Over the next week, the Sipping Streams Tea Company will host two unique tea-related workshops at it’s College Road location.

This Friday, a tea basics class will be held which will highlight preparation methods for different teas, the medicinal properties of various mixes, and a history of tea itself. The five basic teas (white, green, oolong, black and pu-er) will also be discussed and drunk by workshop goers. Next Tuesday, a workshop on kombucha (a drink made from fermented tea and sugar) instruction will also be held.

Jenny Downer-Tse, the owner and resident tea expert of Sipping Streams, has made tea something of her life’s work. However, things were not always as such.

It wasn’t until Jenny’s years at Boise State that the energetic twenty-something stopped drinking coffee and started drinking tea. “I drank coffee because it was cheaper,” she said, until the receipts for her daily four-shot venti macchiato’s began adding up. “Not only that, but it wasn’t keeping me awake,” she said. “And sometimes I’d even down a 2 liter Mountain Dew and think ‘Okay, time for bed.'”

Not long after switching to tea (and moving back to Alaska), Jenny began making and selling her own mixes; first at the Farmers Market and later at Pioneer Park. In fact, a recent concoction of hers, Boreal Solace, was a finalist in the 2010 North American Tea Championships. Her first entry (an herbal blend of fireweed and low bush cranberry’s) into such a competition, Jenny spent hours working her mix and researching the championship judges preferences and tastes. She would stay up late at night, sorting through every tea leaf by hand in order to ensure total uniformity in taste and texture. For Jenny, tea is fun, but also a serious business.

Jenny Downer-Tse and the blogger enjoy a cup of tea in the main room of the "Sipping Streams Tea House." Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

Both workshops are aimed at “people who are into different cultures and continually learning,” she said, adding that such people are generally interested in tea and already customers of hers. These workshops will be the first of many this fall, including several advanced tea preparation and enjoyment classes.

Jenny, a Speciality Tea Institute certified tea expert, has also taken her tea classes to campus, having taught such classes through the UAF Community and Technical College (formally the Tanana Valley Campus).

Why host such workshops?

The answer, according to Jenny, is that “every customer should be able to choose the best quality product for themselves.” For her, the more experience a customer has the better they are at identifying “counterfeit” teas from real teas. “Even if you went to Chinatown and didn’t speak Chinese you could at least order a tea!” she said.

Also on the tea houses agenda is an upcoming radio show on 96.9 KYSC. It is set to air next Tuesday (August 24) at 7AM and will run for 10 weeks. The 2-5 minute showette will feature Jenny discussing the histories, myths and legends of tea, as well as sampling different blends with the stations DJ.

Friday’s workshop will be from 6-7 PM this Friday (August 20), while the Kombucha class will be at the same time this coming Tuesday (August 24). The cost for the tea basics workshop is $20/person while the Kombucha class is $25. Space is limited for both as only 12-15 people will be accepted. The events will be held at the tea shop, which is located at 3535 College Rd. Lower Suite B. For workshop information, contact Jenny at (907) – 457 -1660.

For further reading: