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...
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.
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.
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."
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
Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week. In anticipation of Arkansas Times' Festival of Ideas this Saturday at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, we recommend things that make us think. /more/
The podcast Design Matters, published by Design Observer, is celebrating its 10th year and they are revisiting some of their best episodes from the last decade. I just finished this week's replay of the interview with the Scottish born illustrator Marion Deuchars. At the end of the wonderful interview, her two young sons are invited into the studio near where they pitch in some of their own thoughts on art and, in particular, drawing in the art books their mother created for children and adults.
by Will Stephenson, Bryan Moats, Kaya Herron and Lindsey Millar
World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
Check out the trailer for "Shelter," the Renaud Bros. new feature-length documentary about homeless teens navigating life on the streets of New Orleans with the help of Covenant House, the longstanding French Quarter shelter for homeless kids.
"Why do you guys not care about your community? You’re tearing it down, not building it up, especially in the black community … It’s just a simple question — do you care?" one mother asked the superintendent. "Ma’am, I do care deeply about this district, and I do believe wholeheartedly we are making a better district every day," Poore replied.