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 (or, in Max’s case, not enjoying) this week.
After years of silence, reclusive “Calvin and Hobbes” creator Bill Watterson has a new 15-panel strip promoting a French comics festival. It’s pretty great. — Lindsey Millar
It’s deer season isn’t it? What better way to celebrate the season than with some cheap beer. Busch, say. They’re selling tall boys outfitted in camo and hunter orange, perfect for your deer camp. A buck-and-a-half (so to speak) at a C-store near you. — Max Brantley
Earlier today I learned about a new Discovery Channel show airing next month about a naturalist named Paul Rosolie, who has designed a custom snake-proof suit with which he claims he’ll become the “first person to be eaten alive by an anaconda.” The show will be titled “Eaten Alive.” Aside from being one of the best ideas for a TV show I’ve ever heard, “Eaten Alive” promises to raise the stakes for the whole reality TV ecosystem in an absurd and dangerous direction, which also seems like a net positive.
For anyone not convinced, there is always Slow TV, which the New Yorker describes as programming that runs “not at the warp speed of narrative drama but at the rate of actual experience.” One of their examples, which they call “iconic,” is a Norwegian epic called “Bergensbanen: minutt for minutt,” the “real-time recording of a train journey, from Bergen to Oslo, in 2009.” If all goes well, the television of the future will exist only at these extremes: real people voluntarily eaten by snakes or quiet, meditative documentaries about time and nothing. — Will Stephenson
One day in 1943 in Carroll County, an Italian immigrant named Elise Quigley gathered her children around her and delivered a game plan: they’d all work together to tear down the entire shack they’d been living in, and they’d have it demolished before her husband returned home from work. This way, the family would be forced to move ahead with Elise’s designs for a new house. After coming home to a pile of rubble studded with live electric wires propped up by boards (Mrs. Quigley and the children weren’t sure how to flip off the electricity to the shack, which was wired for lighting), Mr. Quigley gave in, and construction began on what is billed as “The Ozarks’ Strangest Dwelling.” Quigley’s Castle is half roadside museum, half grandma’s house, and it’s the breathtaking result of Elise’s ingenuity, a labyrinth of oddities: rocks from Beaver Dam, tongue-in-groove woodwork, glass bottle trees, behemoth plants that grow up right in the living quarters, extensive collections of arrowheads, seashells and mounted butterflies, and rarities from Elise’s gem and mineral catalogs. Even the side of the family’s concrete water tank (which makes up an entire wall in the house) is a mural by a family friend, a man named “By Golly.” Should you find yourself out on Highway 23 near Eureka Springs with some toll money and a daylight hour or two to spare, you might give Elise Quigley’s little world a visit. — Stephanie Smittle
I recommend the new Internet Arcade at the Internet Archive, a page featuring over 900 playable classic arcade games that you can play through your PC. It ain’t quite a ticket back to that hot, beloved, feet-smelling video arcade of your 1980s childhood, but it’s close. — David Koon
In the last few years I have found it rather difficult to find Red Vine Licorice candy in stores. Growing up in California, they were a childhood favorite, easy to find and approved by mom. Oh how I loved them so. Almost every weekend I would go see my Aunt, Uncle and cousins across town. My Uncle would always buy the large plastic 4lb jar with a twist-off lid from Costco. As soon as that jar hit the pantry shelf it was being torn open and devoured. There was just something so perfect about that chewy, cherry-raspberry, red twist. I would eat them until my jaw got sore.
Since coming to Arkansas in 2011 for school I have not seen them in any store, that is until this Monday. I was making a quick trip into the Neighborhood Walmart and passed by the clearance candy aisle near paper goods. I saw the wall of discounted candy and tried to find some chocolate that I wouldn’t feel guilty buying because of the price. I started to walk away from the temptations but something on the bottom shelf caught my eye. It was a blue plastic package with “RED VINES” printed clear as day on the front. I looked at the price tag of $1 and knew it was a steal. I grabbed two cellophane packages and sped to the check out, leaving my grocery list unfinished without a second thought. I got in the car and tore the package apart trying to get my hands on just one rope of licorice. They came out of the package and the car was instantly filled with the familiar sweet scent of red licorice.
I took my first bite and was met with a chewy-sweet-cherry-raspberry-yuck-why-is-this-so-dry? What is this? This is NOT a Red Vine! I looked at the package with rage, dismay and feelings of betrayal. This is not the candy I’ve been craving for years. It’s more like the dry-unwanted-cousin of my former candy love. It was almost as bad as a Twizzler, dare I say it. I drove back to campus, booted up my laptop and pulled up the American Licorice Company’s website in a flash. I found the link for reporting a bad tasting product and offered them a piece of my mind. I could not believe that after all these years, our reunion would end with disappointment. In all fairness, the package design was different than I remembered, extremely discounted and being sold on the bottom shelf. All I can hope is that I got an expired package and that my favorite childhood candy is still being produced at the same high quality as it was in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I recommend checking the expiration date and your emotions before you make a purchase. — Kaya Herron
Look, a new song by Sleater-Kinney! And a new album coming out in January, and a tour (they won’t get within 500 miles of Little Rock, though, at least not according to the currently announced schedule).
“Bury Our Friends” sounds about like Sleater-Kinney sounded back in 2005, on “The Woods,” which is nothing but good. They’ve got a knack for pulling off a contradictory sense of raw and polished, maniacal and precise. And yet … like a lot of the bands I venerated in college (eight years prior for me), the idea of a S-K reunion doesn’t provoke quite the same level of enthusiasm from me that it once would have. It’s hard to describe why, but I guess it’s a simple question of relevance: whereas those feral vocals from Corin Tucker once struck my pretentious 18-year-old ears as the sound of something exciting, sophisticated, and distantly coastal, it now sounds like a known quantity. That quantity would be Portland, Oregon, and everything good and bad and irritating that it represents.
Oh well. That’s my own damn problem, and once I roll the song, all is forgiven. Like most Sleater-Kinney, the lyrics on “Bury Our Friends” are slippery enough to be interpreted in more than one way, but in light of the elections this week, let’s consider them political. It makes for a decent enough protest anthem here in newly crimson Arkansas, 2014:
exhume our idols
bury our friends
we’re wild and weary but we won’t give in
we’re sick with worry
these nerveless days
we live on dread in our own gilded age — Benji Hardy