Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
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U is for Unexpected, which is exactly what comedian Dave Chappelle's show at Robinson was. He wasn't on tour; aside from a show the night before in Memphis. By now, Chappelle's disappearing act is nearly as big a part of his story as anything else, but no matter what else he does from here on out, his Comedy Central show cemented his legendary status and remains enormously popular even though the last new "episode" was aired six years ago. Times editor Lindsey Millar reviewed the show, which he found meandering and funny, but overall very loose, with Chappelle leaving plenty of long gaps that the crowd filled by, among other things, calling the Hogs. Fair to say the Hog Call was a new one on Chappelle. "Ladies and gentleman, I've done a million shows in my life," he said. "I've never heard a crowd make that noise before."
V is for "The Velvet Bulldozer." That's the nickname of legendary blues guitarist Albert King who was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 20 years after his death. King grew up in Forrest City and started his long musical career in Osceola. He was all sorts of influential on other blues wailers, like Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield, and he released several classic albums on Stax. He's buried in Edmondson (Crittenden County).
W is for actor Wes Bentley, whose comeback gained traction in 2012, most notably with his role as distinctively bearded villain Seneca Crain in the teen blockbuster "The Hunger Games." The Jonesboro native had a rough patch after his breakout role in the seemed-really-serious-and-meaningful-at-the-time film "American Beauty." He's recovered from drug addiction and seems to be on the rise again. Along with "The Hunger Games," Bentley also starred opposite Frank Langella in the indie drama "The Time Being," and he's also starring in Terence Malick's upcoming "Knight of Cups," alongside Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett and several others.
X, in addition to being a letter that very few words start with, is also the Roman numeral for 10. So in addition to the other 25 alphabetized items, here, in no particular order, are 10 more cool Arkansas entertainment-related things that happened in 2012: 1) The Half Japanese Weekend that Thick Syrup Records founder Travis McElroy put on at Maxine's in October. 2) Laundry for the Apocalypse put out a fantastic debut album (full disclosure: band member Aaron Sarlo freelances for the Times). 3) War Chief released a very satisfying full-length, "Letters from Prester John." 4) The first ever Root Cafe/Arkansas Times Beard Growing Competition, which kicked off this month and concludes in February at the South Main Mardi Gras event. 5) The White Water Tavern Holiday Hangout, a three-day extravaganza organized this month by Last Chance Records, the WWT and Tree of Knowledge distribution. 6) Hollywood producer Courtney Pledger was named executive director of the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute, an umbrella group devoted to promoting cinema in the state. Her first major was to serve as interim director of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, which might not have continued without the joint leadership of her and HSDFI board chair Susan Altrui. Together, despite financial obstacles and being forced from the Malco Theatre, they helped put together one of the strongest festival line-ups in years. 7) Bonnie Montgomery released a fantastic EP and went on tour with Gossip, opening for the band across the U.S. and Europe. 8) Mary Steenburgen was uncanny as right-wing Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in a hilarious Funny or Die! skit about undocumented immigrants "self-deporting," in the words of Mittens Romney. 9) Filmmakers and Little Rock Film Festival founders Brent and Craig Renaud won an Edward R. Murrow Award for a piece they filmed in Haiti for the New York Times. 10) The Holy Shakes won our 20th Musicians Showcase and released a cracking debut. Unfortunately, the band broke up this summer.