Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2001

This weekend's a quiet one, but several events stand out as good prospects for entertainment.

Mucho Mojo will perform as part of the Concerts in the Park series tonight. The a capella singing group has a whole new sound this year. Instead of three women and two men, it's four women - Julia Parish, Lisa Ray, Racheal Breiland and Adaira Willis - singing different songs. If you saw and enjoyed Mojo's performance last year, don't fret. There are a few holdover songs, including classics "In the Still of the Night" and Billy Joel's "The Longest Time," and the group members were enthusiastic about their new overall sound.

"It's amazing," said Julia Parish, who also sang with Mojo last summer. "Our voices blend so well."

Other groups performing at Concert in the Park include Stroller White Pipes and Drums, the Big Dipper Square Dancing Club and Caribe, playing Caribbean music and pop favorites. Sharon Gaiptman and daughter Becca Freer are the masters of ceremonies. Rain or shine, it should be a great and varied show. Mucho Mojo performs at about 7:30 tonight, but the show itself begins at 7 p.m. in Marine Park.

Former Alaska author Claire Rudolf Murphy will be in town Saturday, and will sign books at Hearthside Books' downtown location from 5 to 7 p.m. Her latest work, "Gold Rush Dogs," was co-authored with Jane Haigh and continues their series about the lives of Alaska's inhabitants during the gold rush. Previous installments have dealt with the lives of women and children. Now it's the dogs' turn in the spotlight.

Like Murphy, I'm generally not a dog person. However, after reading "Dogs" I can see why she changed her mind. Each of the pets that was brought up or adopted by Alaskans has a special story to tell. In some cases, they played an important role in history. Many readers will recognize Balto, lead dog of part of the diphtheria serum run to Nome. Murphy and Haigh recount the most famous part of his story, but I found the details about the end of Balto's life particularly fascinating. Alaska's hero died in the Cleveland Zoo; his stuffed body remains on display at a Cleveland museum. "Dogs" is full of fun details and historic background, and Murphy and Haigh bring their four-legged heroes fully to life.

"It was an era when dogs were written about almost as people," Murphy said. "It was different even the way they were written about in fictional stories. They were much more written about in human terms."

"Gold Rush Dogs" pays homage to this idea of animals as heroes. Free, signed posters will be given out at the signing, and Murphy's a delight to talk to. It's definitely worth stopping by.

Other entertainment options for this weekend are more traditional and weather-dependent. If the pattern of rain continues, two new movies premiering this weekend might offer a distraction. "Legally Blonde" and "Final Fantasy" both open this weekend at the Glacier Cinemas. "Blonde," a comedy about a fashion-obsessed sorority girl who attends Harvard Law, has been getting overwhelmingly good reviews while "Fantasy," a computer-generated sci-fi story whose creations look eerily human, has generally been slammed. Other well-reviewed movies appearing in town include the family-oriented "Cats and Dogs" and Steven Spielberg's "A.I. Artificial Intelligence."

If the weekend does turn pleasantly sunny, then spending time outside is perhaps the best option. In addition to Juneau's beautiful hiking and biking trails, the Windfall Lake Trail Challenge Run will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday. Race director Ben Haight said it's a moderately difficult 14-mile run over a trail and gravel road. Runners should meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Windfall Lake trail head at Mile 27.5 on Glacier Highway, and should bring their own snacks and drinks. The finish line will be dismantled at 12:30 p.m.

Those seeking less regimented time outdoors can investigate stalwarts such as the Perseverance Trail and Sandy Beach. The latter is absolutely lovely right now, with greenery and berries lining the trails. It's the epitome of summer in Juneau.

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