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True Soul album release party, Zoo Brew and the 2011 Paranormal Expo 

WEDNESDAY 9/21

TRUE SOUL ALBUM RELEASE PARTY
5 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.

In music geek heaven (which is sort of like regular heaven only it looks like an endless, cluttered record shop) there will be a special place of honor for those crate diggers who prize nothing more than turning folks on to the obscure, the unheralded, the you-gotta-hear-this tunes that might otherwise be relegated to the dustbins of wax history. Along with Numero, Mississippi Records, Light in the Attic and a handful of others, the fine folks at Now-Again will surely have prime seats at that table for their efforts. The label specializes in painstakingly researched, lovingly assembled reissues of everything from Iranian psych rock to Zambian funk to all-but-forgotten Southern soul. Now-Again recently compiled "True Soul: Deep Sounds from the Left of Stax," a two-volume set chronicling legendary Arkansas imprint True Soul, which entrepreneur and musical impresario Lee Anthony started in the '60s and operated through the '70s. Now-Again spared no expense on the release, which is available as separate two-CD/DVD sets or as a four-LP box set. Of course beautiful packaging, fantastic photos and detailed, lengthy liner notes don't mean much if the music doesn't measure up. And while True Soul isn't a household name like Stax/Volt, Hi or Motown, the music that came out on a tiny label from the relatively tiny outpost of Little Rock is awesome. Check out "Thank You" or "Wheezin'" by York Wilbourn's Psychedelic Six for some funky, wacka-chicka-wacka-chicka instrumental workouts. "The Real Thing" by The Conspiracy is sweaty, high-octane funk with punchy horns and a frenetic chorus, and Thomas East's cuts, including "Slipping Around" and "Funky Music," offer a glimpse back to a bygone era of soul music. East, John Craig and Clifford Hawkins are among the True Soul alums playing this album release party with the True Soul Revue, which is led by Lorenzo Smith. Arkansas Record & CD Exchange stocks the True Soul reissues, and Bill probably has a few of the original 45s too.

THURSDAY 9/22

'AFROFUTURISM AND THE POLITICS OF POSSIBILITY: RADICAL SOCIAL LOVE AND THE CAREER OF MICHAEL JACKSON'
2:40 p.m. College of Business, UCA. Free.

Man, that, uh ... dang. That's all I've got. That title stands on its own and it doesn't need a thing from me or anybody else. Prof. Lisa Corrigan of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville presents this lecture, which has the most badass, intriguing title ever. If you were wondering how you should go about picking a name for your lecture, this is how it is done, folks. Rock on, Prof. Corrigan.

CULTURE SHOCK: THE '80S
7 p.m. Arkansas Arts Center. $10-$19.80 (yes, really).

Ah the '80s. Remember what you were like back then? All havin' feathered hair and Wayfarers with neon green frames? All sufferin' from a totally tubular case of Pac-Man Fever? All sportin' those raggedy red parachute pants and that fingerless glove while dancing around the room and lip syncing in front of the mirror to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," stopping only to answer your hamburger phone? All sayin', "I Want My MTV!" and "Where's the Beef?"? All havin' '50s nostalgia even though the '50s were terrible and you weren't even alive back then? What's that? Oh, you were born in 1990 and yet somehow you're already old enough to legally drink? [Sigh] Anyways, this right here promises to be a good time, no matter how many miles there are on your nostalgia-ometer. DJ Poebot spins the hits, The Food Truck serves up the grub, Moon Distributing juices the hooch and the AAC shows off works it acquired in the '80s. You can dance if you want to, but please don't touch the art.

ZOO BREW
7 p.m. Little Rock Zoo. $20.

With the exception of Homo sapiens, animals generally do not consume beer or hotdogs in any significant amounts, which is really too bad for them, because beer and hot dogs are among the most sublime sensory activities in which one can engage. Especially when there are several types of beers to choose from and the hot dogs were prepared by Hot Dog Mike. If you're reading this, though, chances are that you are of the species Homo sapiens and therefore can safely consume moderate quantities of beer and hot dogs. But please, be discreet. Don't flaunt your beer-drinking, hotdog-eating privileges in front of those unfortunate lower beasts, whose glassy eyes still manage to convey the inner sadness over their realization that they will never even fully comprehend what vistas of delicious ecstasy lie just beyond the grasp of their beaks and claws and paws and maws. Perhaps the blues music of The Shannon Boshears Band will provide a sonic palliative for the tragically beer-less, hotdog-less creatures. Just kidding, animals don't really want to eat hot dogs and drink beer.

FRIDAY 9/23

LEGENDS BALLOON RALLY
4:30 p.m. Hot Springs National Park Memorial Field Airport. Free.

Hot air balloons are pretty awesome, but when you add in The Charlie Daniels Band and Three Dog Night, plus a classic car show, a Baggo tournament and refreshments and the admission is free, well friends, that's a recipe for a good time if ever there was one. After all, Charlie Daniels played the rally last year, and he's coming back this year. If you want to hear "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," make sure and get there Friday night by 7:30 p.m. If you want to hear "An Old Fashioned Love Song," be there Saturday night by 7:30 p.m. The balloons fly out at 5:30 p.m. each day and they're lit up for a balloon glow at 7 p.m. This will probably be a lot of fun, especially if you've got young'uns. Bring a chair, but don't bring an ice chest or any dogs.

SATURDAY 9/24

2ND ANNUAL WORLD CHEESE DIP CHAMPIONSHIP
1 p.m. War Memorial Stadium. $10.

Apparently there's this dish that's popular in Arkansas and it's called cheese dip, or "queso." I asked around the office here at the Times, though, and nobody had ever heard of it. Some thorough research turned up only a single arcane recipe from the dustiest back corner of the internet. First, you take a bunch of those snack packs with the crackers and the spreadable cheese and the little red plastic spreader thingy and you scrape out all the cheese and pile it up on an oven sheet and throw all the crackers away. It's kind of a pain because there's not much cheese in those little dudes. Anyways, after you've scraped out maybe 150 or so, you go to Taco Bell and ask the manager if you can have 35-40 packets of their sauce. You can ask for only mild sauce, or if you're feeling "spicy" you can throw in a couple of packets "the hot stuff." Take those packets and empty every last one of them all over the top of your cheese pile (squeeze 'em out good, now) and then get a medium sized rubber mallet and smash it until it's all mixed evenly. Stick it in the oven at about 125 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours or until the smoke alarm starts going off. And that's how you make cheese dip. This festival includes lots of cheese dip, live music from Velvet Kente, Bonnie Montgomery and Rodney Block and other stuff, including a competition to see whose cheese dip is the best. Bring canned food donations for Arkansas Food Bank.

2011 PARANORMAL EXPO
10 a.m. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. $5.

Ghosts. It seems like they're on everyone's minds and TV sets. With the exception of soulless, aggressively narcissistic windbags, ghosts seem to be the most popular thing on TV nowadays. Perhaps this is because there are so many real things to be terrified of – high unemployment, a stagnant economy, the likelihood of global economic collapse. Maybe it's just fun to take a break from the real fear and indulge in a little spooky fun. This expo includes a discussion of supernatural goings-on at the museum, as well as experts on poltergeists, Bigfoot, UFOs and a psychic and vendors selling jewelry, tarot cards, paranormal items and Razorback gear. I know I'm terrified the Hogs are going to get whupped in Alabama Saturday.

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