Friday, February 27, 2015

Staff Picks: NASA documentaries, The Method Actors, Anthony Bourdain in the Ozarks and more

Posted By , , , , and on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 4:05 PM

click to enlarge NASA's Golden Record, from "The Voyagers"
  • NASA's Golden Record, from "The Voyagers"

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.

If I had been thinking, I would have recommended this on Valentine's Day, but isn't every day a good day to get emotional about space exploration, about marriage, about hurtling into the unknown? Take 15 minutes and watch this 2010 short documentary, "The Voyagers." Actually, this is like my entry into Arkansas Times Insists. I insist that you watch this. — David Ramsey

Next time you're in Fayetteville, I suggest you get dinner at Ginger, a newish restaurant on MLK Blvd just south of Bud Walton Arena. Ginger, which bills itself as a "rice and noodle bar," ignited my suspicions with its vague description; when I hear nonspecific "Asian" food, I think a gloppy pile of wheat noodles drizzled in sickly sweet peanut sauce. But no, Ginger serves bowls of homemade ramen and bibimbap, that iconic Korean bowl of sundry vegetables and meat, fiery chili sauce and rice topped with a single fried egg. I was in Northwest Arkansas this week on a mostly failed work-related assignment, and on Thursday evening I met a couple of friends to drown my troubles in bibimbap. A massive bowl was $8 and fantastically good. Great kimchee. Great pickled daikon. Great eggrolls. Lightning fast service. Give it a shot. — Benji Hardy

click to enlarge Bourdain proudly displays a raccoon penis bone.
  • Bourdain proudly displays a raccoon penis bone.

I have never seen Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations but I have listened to a lot of people telling me stories about things they've seen Anthony Bourdain do on No Reservations. Just the other day, Greg Spradlin told me about one where he interviews Nick Tosches in a dive bar in Manhattan. This, I thought, I gotta see. But loading up the Netflix instant library is about as far I'm willing to go to watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and Netflix only offers a Best Of collection and the one where he interviews Nick Tosches in a Manhattan dive bar is not included. Well, I'm here, I thought, so I scanned the list and settled on the episode called "Ozarks." I'll bite. In the episode, Anthony Bourdain gets himself into some good ole southern Missouri fun: drinking and hunting and eating the things hunted successfully. He also gets swindled and badly beaten in arm wrestling by an old woman, sends best-selling author Daniel Woodrell (Winter's Bone) to the hospital with little remorse, and lands an "at least we're not in Arkansas" jab to the delight of his rural Missouri hosts. It's not great television but, you know, I'm not not glad I watched it. I just have some reservations. — Maxwell George

Historical narratives tend to be lengthy, one-sided and mind numbingly boring, stale if you will. "A Taste of Power" by Elaine Brown is quite the opposite. It is a great read, 500 or so pages that are guaranteed to change the way you look at the Black Panther Party and their first and only female leader. Brown narrates her life growing up as a young black girl in Philadelphia from the wrong side of town — educated with wealthy Jewish girls at her experimental school, hanging out in her neighborhood with her black friends, living with her single mother, aunt and reclusive grandparents. Her transparency creates a real connection between her narrative and the readers and resonates within our own sense of self, our quest for identity and our place in this world. Brown illuminates the contrasts between her "black" and "white" lives and the damage done to her consciousness and self image and the time spent repairing them. Leaving home at 19, Brown moves to California with her savings and a dream of being a songwriter, becomes a cocktail waitress at a night club and begins an affair with Jay Kennedy. Struggling with her identity and her current place in life, she runs into her neighbor and is introduced to a group of young girls that remind her of herself and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Her life becomes a roller coaster of emotion, opportunity, obstacles, experiences and memorable characters — the most notable being Bunchy Carter and Huey P. Newton. Throughout the narrative we are in-tuned with her changing worldview and political philosophies and are challenged by the experiences that shaped them. Ms. Brown writes with admiration and loyalty to the party, and extreme candor, expertly guiding the reader on a quest for truth. This narrative provides an incredible insight into the inner workings and ideology of the Black Panther Party, the leadership of the party and their personal lives, the United States governments involvement in the demise of the party, and the lasting legacy of the party's work around the world. This narrative is a front row seat in one of the most turbulent times in American history from the viewpoint of one of the most revolutionary black female leaders in this century. If it were in theaters it would be a box office hit, don't wait for this one to come to DVD. — Kaya Herron

Recently while quarantined to my children’s bedroom with the flu, I found myself stricken with discomfort and boredom. Which for me, means it is time to watch videos about design and art. I went to my old standby, the Hillman Curtis artist series. 15 (mostly) designer profiles, all running between 3.5 to 10 minutes long, featuring Pentagram, David Carson, James Victore, Milton Glaser, and others. Super good, super recommended. — Bryan Moats
Some days I think The Method Actors were the best band of the 1980s but most days I forget they ever existed. — Will Stephenson

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