Arkansas Times Recommends: The Water Edition 

Arkansas Times Recommends is a regular series on our entertainment blog, Rock Candy, in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week. To get folks in the right frame of mind, sometimes we do themes. Amid scorching temperatures, water was on our mind this week.

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Check out the pictures and video from the just-concluded 69-day Deepwater Exploration voyage to the Marianas Trench, the deepest part of the world's oceans, on oceanexplorer.noaa.gov. They're under the link to the Okeanos Explorer, the oceanic research vessel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You'll see bottom fish, bubblegum coral, frogfish, hydrothermal vents and all manner of echinoderms and cnidarians and other benthic delights.

The deepest part of the Marianas Trench, the Challenger Deep, lies about 6.8 miles beneath the surface of the ocean. That's about the same distance between the state Capitol and the Walmart on Chenal and Bowman in West Little Rock.

Benjamin Hardy

Around this point in the summertime, I start pondering redemption. Maybe it's the heat and humidity, the sweat weighing me down; maybe it's the untold quantities of tequila I've inevitably consumed by now in the form of frozen margaritas; maybe it's the voluptuousness of summer produce, the tempting clefts of peaches and tomatoes, the throbbing purples of blackberries. Whatever makes it so, perhaps you'll agree that July is the sinfullest month, a good time to repent and to remember Arkansas's own Greg Alan Brownderville, who will lead to you to the Lord and back with his first poetry collection "Gust," published in 2011. "Gust" has it all: old-time religion, Delta hoodoo, plenty of sweaty Southern nights, Heavenly Highway Hymns, tamales, grills, turkeys ... even a tornado. Highlights for me include "Lord, Make Me a Sheep," which details a Pentecostal conversion experience, and "Holy Ghost Man," a tribute to a charismatic preacher/chronicle of gradually shifting faith, but if you get your hands on "Gust," you'll have to read the whole thing, gripped as you'll be by the spirit of it. I've been variously baptized in my lifetime — sprinkled by Presbyterians, dunked by Baptists — but neither compares to "Gust" as a religious experience.

— Megan Blankenship

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I'm persnickety about cooking eggs. And, no, I'm not just a fussy cook in general; I am slapdash about plenty of culinary exercises (vegetable handling, in particular, comes to mind). But with eggs, the line between repulsive and resplendent is just so very fine. So, I've worked long and hard to perfect (yes, I said perfect) my process for boiling eggs so that the white is solid and the yolk is melted gold. Some people call this preparation "soft-boiled," but for some that means that the white is also not completely solidified. Are they therefore "medium-boiled"? I've also heard them called "ramen eggs." Call them what you want, these are The Goods. And, unlike other "perfect soft-boiled egg" recipes, this one involves no steamer baskets, thermometers, etc. (This process was described — complete with scientific exposition — in a life-changing article I read online, but I've lost the link and adjusted through trial and error.)

Begin with an egg laid by a happy hen. The eggs I use are typically refrigerated (for shame!), which I confess only because it does affect the timing.

Fill a medium saucepan a finger -width deeper than egg-deep.

Bring water to a hearty boil.

Gently submerge your egg(s), one at a time.

Set a timer for one-and-a-half minutes.

At the end of one-and-a-half minutes drop several ice cubes into the boiling water.

Wait for the water to return to a full boil.

Remove saucepan from heat.

Set a timer for five minutes.

At the end of five minutes hold your saucepan under cool, running water until the hot is replaced with room-temperature water.

Peel your perfect eggs.

Consume your perfect eggs.

Ashley Gill

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Water is at the heart of Roman Polanski's classic "Chinatown." Despite being made in 1974, it belongs among the best noir films of the '40s and '50s. The main thing separating it from the likes of "The Third Man" and "Sunset Boulevard" is Jack Nicholson, who plays the detective role with a few more loose screws than Humphrey Bogart or Cary Grant.

In many ways, "Chinatown" conveys the same spirit of Los Angeles that Paul Thomas Anderson's brilliantly unruly movies do today. Polanski's film, which takes place in the 1930s, falls neatly in the time between "There Will Be Blood" and "Boogie Nights," capturing the city after it was barren wilderness but before it became a hotspot for celebrities. What remained consistent throughout that timeline is a tendency toward deviance. As critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review, "the crimes in 'Chinatown' include incest and murder, but the biggest crime is against the city's own future, by men who see that to control the water is to control the wealth." Those men certainly made a profit, but I doubt they had any idea of what Los Angeles would become.

Tom Coulter

I recommend "Life without Water," by Nancy Peacock. Yes, she's my sister-in-law. No, that's not why I am recommending it. It's a novella about a girl, Cedar, who has grown up with her two hippie parents in an abandoned house in North Carolina. Don't take my word for it: The New York Times called the book "deft, sly, unassuming," and able to take on life in the 1960s, which is "extremely tricky to get right." Cross the pond to get the British take on the same theme (though told very differently) by Kate Atkinson: "Emotionally Weird."

— Leslie Newell Peacock



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