Daily Archives: June 29, 2011

Drinking on the Last Frontier: Brewing US history

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter

Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, even as a kid.

The Founding Fathers, as in John Trumbull’s famous painting depicting the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress, knew how to celebrate with fine, locally brewed craft beer. Craft beer aficionados can do the same this Fourth of July.

Sure, you don’t get presents like Christmas, but the weather’s nicer. No turkey, a la Thanksgiving, but I like burgers off the grill better anyway. No costumes like Halloween, but there are fireworks, which are way more dangerous (and therefore much cooler).

Most of all, Independence Day is a quintessentially American holiday. The other holidays celebrate things that people all over the world also celebrate, even if they do it on a different day. But only Americans celebrate the Fourth of July (unless you count those snarky Brits who observe it as “British Thanksgiving Day”). Continue reading

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Art Seen: ‘Intersecting Journeys’ worth a trip

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

This is the first year that the summer visual arts show at the Kenai Visitors and

"Spawned” by Hugh McPeck

Cultural Center was juried rather than invitational, and also the first time informational displays have been incorporated so extensively right into the exhibit space.

We get to see two and three pieces from the same artist in some cases, and we get more of a taste of the curator’s vision, as everything showing has been literally handpicked.

Often in a large invitational show there are at least one or two pieces that are sort of shocking. Not in a Robert Mapplethorpe or Andres Serrano kind of way, but in a way that makes the viewers, and especially the curator, wonder what the heck the artist could have been thinking by entering it.

There are some really fantastic pieces in this exhibit, and none of them are actually disappointing, which is saying a lot. Continue reading

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Plugged In: Focus on priorities in choosing cameras

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

There’s always a lively debate about which new camera is best for you. It’s a bit like buying a car — nearly everyone has an opinion, usually strongly held and vigorously asserted.

Preferring a particular camera brand makes sense if you’ve already purchased several good (read: expensive) lenses for an existing body. Generally, once you’ve bought lenses, you’re locked into a particular brand.

That’s because nearly every manufacturer uses its own proprietary lens mount that may, or may not, be supported by quality third-party lens makers like Tamron, Tokina and Sigma. Only Olympus and Panasonic share common lens mounts, the Four-Thirds (4/3) and Micro-Four-Thirds (M43) standards, and can use any lens made for the 4/3 and M43 mounts. Choosing a particular camera system is thus a long-term decision that should be made carefully.

So, this week, let’s take an admittedly biased and idiosyncratic tour of the major camera systems. First, though, I’ll be candid — my preferred camera system brands are currently Nikon, Pentax and Olympus. I’ll explain why a bit later.

There are always a few hundred small-sensor camera models on the market at any one time. Most are point-and-shoot or long-zoom models that are adequate for casual photographs displayed on a computer monitor screen or made into letter-size or small prints, but that’s it. These me-too models are updated at least once a year, primarily for marketing reasons. Major year-to-year improvements are no longer common, although some recent Sony long-zoom models are a welcome exception.

Although sales of these me-too cameras remain relatively steady in the U.S., they’re dropping by the wayside elsewhere in Europe and Asia. As cell phone and iPod cameras improve over the next few years, sales of lower-end point-and-shoot cameras will probably decline further. Continue reading

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