Friday, November 6, 2015

Staff Picks: Star Wars, Jimmy Buffett, podcasts, local coffee and more

Posted By , , and on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 3:46 PM

click to enlarge Jimmy Buffett in 1975 - KATHY WILLENS
  • Kathy Willens
  • Jimmy Buffett in 1975

Arkansas Times Recommends is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.

A variety pack of recommendations:

PODCASTS: There is a new mini-season of "Start Up" going on right now. It's amazing. Season 1, which you should listen to if you haven't already, is one of the best podcast seasons in the podcast universe. Then Season 2 was pretty bad. But now this mini-season is better than ever. Also there's a new mini-season of "The Memory Palace" and it's predictably excellent.

LINE OF POETRY: "I dwell in Possibility—"
Emily Dickinson, natch. It's so good, right up to the em dash. Which brings me to...

NETFLIX (STREAMING): My long-awaited recommendation for the Top 15 Scandinavian Movies Available on Netflix Not Including Bergman remains an unfinished dream, but I can offer yet another teaser: "Together" is a really fun, really strange movie that you can stream on Netflix. Oh also "Upstream Color," while not Scandinavian, is fun and really strange as well, and genuinely challenging as art, which I know how that sounds, but you know what, I crave things like that, and really, if we are to use precious hours in our precious lives to watch movies, shouldn't we get that, not every time, but from time to time? Like for example...

NETFLIX (DVD): "Dogtooth."

NBA BASKETBALL TEAM TO WATCH: The Minnesota Timberwolves. Trust me.

ALBUM AVAILABLE ON SPOTIFY TO CALM YOU AS YOU WAIT, MUSCLES CLENCHED, FOR THE NEW ADELE ALBUM TO FINALLY COME OUT: James P. Johnson, "Blue Moods, Sex, & Charleston."

NOVEL THAT IS NOT AS GOOD AS "MIDDLESEX" BUT STILL CRACKLING FUN TO READ: "The Marriage Plot"

— David Ramsey

Selected recent videos from my YouTube "likes" playlist, with commentary:

1. Jimmy Buffett - "A Pirate Looks at 40"

A couple of weeks ago at Town Pump I watched an older man (maybe mid-50s) sing karaoke to this song and found it deeply moving. In the song, Buffett addresses the ocean ("Mother, mother ocean, I've heard your call") and says things like, "I have been drunk now for over two weeks."  It's mellow and pitiful, in a way I find pretty endearing. "I'm down to rock bottom again," he sings. I like it more every time I hear it.

2. Jeanne & The Darlings - "What's Gonna Happen To Me"

This song was written by Tommy Riggs, a North Little Rock native who used to fire pistols and break down crying onstage at his shows in the early '60s, and later released an X-rated comedy LP. I learned about him (and this song) from Harold Ott's most recent column for Rock Candy.

3. KAAY aircheck 1968

Around 13 minutes of Little Rock news radio from 1968, including the report that Robert Kennedy had just been shot.  

4. Roy Smeck & His Paradise Serenaders - "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time"

Roy Smeck was as famous as a ukulele & lap steel guitarist could be in the 1920s and 30s (or anytime, I guess). He played FDR's inaugural ball in 1933. He played the Ed Sullivan Show, toured the world, starred in movies. His nickname was "The Wizard of the Strings." 

5. Young Thug - "Raw (Might Just)"

"A wise man told me nothing" — Will Stephenson


A new, international trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" landed on the Internet today. I watched it immediately and read analyses of scenes accompanied by GIFs, just like I did when the other trailers were released, and, at least judging from my Facebook feed, just like many, many other white guys born in the '70s or '80s did. At least weekly, sometimes more often, I browse Amazon's selection of Star Wars Legos, ostensibly for my 5-year-old son. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a fairly hard to find (at least at normal price) Kylo Ren action figure for my son. He's the new movie's big bad guy, the one with the cross light saber. For two weeks, my son carried that toy around with him everywhere he went — placed in a crouch next to his waffles, with him outside on the swing, clasped tight in his hand while watching "Curious George" — and said the words "Kylo Ren" perhaps 1,000 times. Then the toy disappeared. Miraculously, my son isn't bothered by this, but I wonder and worry about it several times a day.

All of this is to say that the "Star Wars" marketing machine (i.e. Disney, at least lately) is an ingenious, if insidious, force that I — especially as a parent to two fairly nerdy and impressionable boys — am too much of a sap to escape.

This, my favorite Facebook post from 2015, is wise counsel from Graham Gordy for geeks like me:

I'm sure The Force Awakens is going to be great, guys, but in 1999, I went to a midnight screening of The Phantom Menace and watched a theater full of costumed goobers have their dreams pummeled into the ground by Jar Jar Binks a la Liston vs. Ali. You haven't seen heart-rending until you've watched 40 grown men walk out of a movie with their plastic light-sabers dragging on the ground behind them like limp, admonished penises. Again, it will be wonderful, but for your own well-being, you all need to caalllmmm dowwwwnnnn.
— Lindsey Millar

I recommend stopping by and grabbing a cup of coffee from the combination Spokes bikeshop/Orbea Headquarters/coffee shop location on Main Street. It is certainly the best coffee you'll find in the River Market area and easily beats out whatever funk your office is calling coffee. No food to speak of but let's be fair, it's a bike shop. Lay off. Plus, it took no time at all for barista Cynthia to learn my usual drink order as well as the pronunciation of my abnormal name, Cyclesome Drinkabunch. — Bryan Moats

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