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Racing season wraps up with Arkansas Derby 

FRIDAY 4/13

2012 OZARK UFO CONFERENCE

8 a.m. Best Western Inn of the Ozarks. $90.

Scoff all you like, all you scoffers and skeptics and naysayers and demanders of peer-reviewed studies. But you cannot deny this fundamental truth: It's way more fun to believe in aliens and past lives and ESP and ancient Mayan calendar predictions than it is to lumber stiffly through existence insisting that the Official Version of reality is the only one that's real. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But why should I believe in something for which there is no physical evidence?" To which I would say: "People do it all the time. It's called religion. And astrology. And Powerball. And anyway, aren't I reading your thoughts? DUN-DA-DUN-DUNNNN!" But I realize that's not gonna cut it for most folks. Therefore I submit for your consideration the 2012 Ozark UFO Conference in — where else? — Eureka Springs. This three-day examination of all things extraterrestrial, extrasensory or otherwise extraordinary features a bevy of experts delivering lectures such as "UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities," "The E.T. Agenda: Why Don't They Land on the White House Lawn?" and "The Choice: Using Conscious Thought and Physics of the Mind to Reshape the World." The conference opens with an introduction to the art of dowsing by Dowser Dan. In all seriousness though, hanging out in Eureka Springs and drinking with a bunch of UFO experts? Yes, I want to believe.

FRIDAY 4/13

NATE POWELL'S 'CROSS SECTIONS'

5 p.m. Historic Arkansas Museum. Free.

When I first met Nate Powell, it was on a sweaty summer night back in nineteen-ninety-something, at one of those plug-in-and-play concerts at Belvedere Pavilion. I'm pretty sure most of those shows weren't officially sanctioned by The Man, which made them that much more fun. Nate's old band, Soophie Nun Squad, was the product of a group of bright, enthusiastic, hyperactive kids who all had a million projects going on at any given time: other bands, zines, comics, activism, art projects, sketch comedy shows, you name it. I can't remember the specifics of what Soophie's songs were about, but I'm pretty sure some of the major themes were: having fun, doing what you love and not letting the awful, gray burden of workaday life grind your dreams into a bitter dust. As much as anyone I can think of, Nate has embodied that ideal, still playing in bands and making comics long after so many of our peers abandoned their erstwhile obsessions. The interesting thing is that when you work on something you love for a long time, you'll often become really, really good at it. And Nate is really, really good at what he does. Over countless pages — Xeroxed and stapled in the early days, offset printed and bound in beautiful hardback editions lately — Nate has strengthened and refined his craft, creating an instantly recognizable style. His graphic novels "Swallow Me Whole" and "Any Empire" have earned glowing praise from critics both within the comics world and from more mainstream publications such as Booklist and the Los Angeles Times. The awards he's won — Eisner, Ignatz — are some of the most prestigious in the field. By living his ideals, working hard and doing what he loves, Nate has realized enormous success. That's about as inspiring as it gets, friends. At this show, he'll be exhibiting and selling works from his graphic novels from the last five years and will also have copies of his books. There will be music from Isaac Alexander and soup from Sharea Soup. Nate will sign books at The Comic Book Store at noon on Saturday.

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