Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Charles Morgan discussing MATTERS OF LIFE AND DATA to close the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival

CDM-Book-CoverThe 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival comes to a close on Sunday, April 26 with a conversation between Charles Morgan and Kelley Bass.  These two longtime friends will be discussing Morgan’s book, Matters of Life and Data at 3pm in the Ron Robinson Theater.

Here is how Morgan describes the book:

“I didn’t set out to become a collector of your and your neighbors’ information. When I was growing up, nobody but egghead scientists talked about ‘data.’ It was the mechanical age, and I was a gadget geek, taking apart my cousin’s toys and trying to put them back together again. I was especially crazy about cars and engines, and had it not been for a fateful encounter during college recruiting season, I might’ve lived my life as a race car mechanic instead of learning about computers at IBM. As it turned out, pursuing Big Data allowed me the resources to become a professional race car driver on the side, competing against the likes of Paul Newman, who makes appearances in these pages as well.

“Such are the wonders of this journey we’re all on. Mine has taken me from the frontier of western Arkansas, where my ancestors owned a hardware store selling iron tools to westbound travelers, to the frontier of the digital age, where room-size computers have become eclipsed by the power of smart phones. And in a sense, the story you’re about to read isn’t so different from those of the colorful adventurers who stocked up their wagons at my family’s hardware emporium and headed west to make their fortunes. Data mining is the new gold rush, and we were there at first strike, dragging with us all our human frailties and foibles. In this book’s cast of characters you’ll find ambition, arrogance, jealousy, pride, fear, recklessness, anger, lust, viciousness, greed, revenge, betrayal, and then some.”

“It is a messy story. In the big picture, this could be called a narrative of America since World War II. But in the micro telling, think of it this way: The man who opened your lives to Big Data finally bares his own.”

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A full slate for the third day of the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival

2015 ALF 1Many activities today with the Arkansas Literary Festival!

At 10am –

  • Karen Joy Fowler, Janis F. Kearney and Jamaica Kincaid on a panel – Acts of Empowerment at the Darragh Center.
  • Alison Hedge Coke and Casandra Lopez on a panel – Indigenous Grace in the Main Library
  • Stephen Roth, Jay Ruud and John Vanderslice on a panel – Island of Fatal Pride in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Karen Akins, John Horner Jacobs and Ann Leckie on a panel – Science Fiction & Fantasy in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Michael Barrier will discuss his book Funnybooks on the 3rd floor of River Market Books & Gifts
  • Joe Barry Carroll will give a workshop at Historic Arkansas Museum
  • Arree Chung will discuss Ninja! At the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center.

At 11:30am –

  • Scott Simpson will lead a Dinosaur Odyssey in the Ron Robinson Theater
  • Megan Abbott & Ben Percy on a panel – Thrill Me in the Darragh Center.
  • Morgan Murphy & Desha Peacock on a panel – Social Savvy in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Lisa Howorth and James Korne Gay on a panel – Mississippi Two by Two on the 3rd floor of River Market Books & Gifts
  • John A. Beineke & James Presley on a panel – Notorious Crimes at Historic Arkansas Museum
  • Brian Turner discusses Memories of a Soldier at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
  • Tiphanie Yanique and Sefi Atta on a panel – Vital Fusion at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Michele Raffin discusses The Birds of Pandemonium at the Witt Stephens Jr. Arkansas Nature Center

At 1pm –

  • Issa Rae will discuss The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl at the Ron Robinson Theater
  • Michael Kardos & M.O. Walsk on a panel – The Unputdownables at the Darragh Center.
  • Mary Miller & Timothy S. Lane on a panel – Triumph of Youth in the Main Library
  • Jesse J. Hargrove and Janis F. Kearney on a panel – Celia and T.J. in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Cheryl & Griffith Day on a panel – Baking Days in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Jonathan Darman discusses Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan on the 3rd floor of River Market Books & Gifts
  • Joe Barry Carroll discusses Growing Up…in Words and Images at Historic Arkansas Museum
  • Jeff Allen and Preston Lauterbach on a panel – Beginning in 1866 at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Amanda Petrusich and Kent Russell on a panel at the Witt Stephens Jr. Arkansas Nature Center
  • Spencer Reese discusses The Road to Emmaus at Christ Episcopal Church

At 2:30 pm –

  • Rick Bragg discusses Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story at the Ron Robinson Theater
  • Quan Barry and Brock Clarke on a panel – Luminosity at the Darragh Center.
  • Richard Lange, Thomas Pierce & Antonio Ruiz-Camacho on a panel – Short Stories in the Main Library
  • Maxine Payne discusses Making Pictures in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Morgan Murphy discusses Off the Eaten Path: On the Road Again in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Meili Cady discusses Smoke on the 3rd floor of River Market Books & Gifts
  • Frank Thurmond discusses Ring of Five at Historic Arkansas Museum
  • Ted Rall discusses Traveling to Afghanistan at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
  • Jamaica Kincaid discusses See Now Then at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Scott Sampson discusses How to Raise a Wild Child at the Witt Stephens Jr. Arkansas Nature Center

At 4 pm –

  • Marck Beggs, Nickole Brown, Hope Coulter, Jessica Jacobs, Sand Longhorn and Jo McDougall headline a poetry panel at the Ron Robinson Theater
  • Kevin Brockmeier and Tania James on a panel at the Darragh Center.
  • Desha Peacock leads a workshop on creating your style in the Main Library
  • J. Hartley discusses Macbeth: A Novel in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Sam Quinones and Marilyn Wedge on a panel in the Arkansas Studies Institute
  • Seph Lawless discusses Black Friday on the 3rd floor of River Market Books & Gifts
  • Laura Parker Castoro and Adrienne Thompson on a panel at Historic Arkansas Museum
  • Molly Guptill Manning discusses When Books Went to War at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
  • Guy Lancaster and Andrew Maraniss on a panel – History and Sport at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Michael Largo discusses The Big, Bad Book of Botany at the Witt Stephens Jr. Arkansas Nature Center

Evening activities include:

  • Fed, White & Blue at 5pm at the Oxford American annex (1300 Main) featuring author and TV personality Simon Jajumdar
  • Joshua Wolf Shank discussing Powers of Two at the Clinton School at 6pm
  • Pub or Perish, moderated by Bryan Borland at Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack at 7pm
  • Speak Now at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at 7pm
  • John Waters discussing Carsick at the Ron Robinson Theatre at 8pm

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Author! Author! party, sessions and used book sales on day 2 of 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival

2015 ALF 2It is Festival Friday with the 12th Annual Arkansas Literary Festival!

A highlight is the Author! Author! Party at 7pm which allows ticketholders the chance to visit with other festival attendees as well as many of the authors and personalities who are here for the festival.

Earlier in the day, the used book sale continues from 9 to 5 in River Market Books & Gifts and from 10 to 4 in the basement of the main library.

The first session of the day is T. Geronimo Johnson on “Satire of the South.”  It will take place at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at noon.  Johnson is the author of Welcome to Braggsville.

At 6pm Michael Shermer will discuss The Moral Arc at the Ron Robinson Theater.

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Robin Hood Steals in to Ark Arts Center Children’s Theatre

aacctrobinThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre presents The Legend of Robin Hood April 24 through May 10.

“The Legend of Robin Hood takes the audience on an action-packed journey that’s familiar to so many generations,” said Todd Herman, executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center. “The audience will be entertained as Robin Hood and his gang take them on adventure after adventure through Nottingham.”

Swords will clash. Arrows will fly. Truth and justice will be championed. From the treetops of Sherwood, the call rings out: “Come to the forest, all ye of stout heart and true. Rally to Robin Hood and his Merry Band as they outwit and outclass the nasty Sheriff of Nottingham. Now is the time to find your heart and your courage. Now is the time to liberate England’s honest poor from the strangling grasp of tyranny.

The cast for The Legend of Robin Hood includes:

  • Noah Kaplan of Virginia Beach VA, as Robin Hood
  • Katie Campbell of Little Rock as Marian of Lea
  • Jordan Taylor of Little Rock as the Old Woman
  • Drew Posey of Jonesboro as the Sheriff of Nottingham
  • Paige Carpenter of Lonsdale as The Prioress of Kirklees
  • Richard Nelson of Little Rock as Forrester Willie
  • Margaret Lowry of Little Rock as Much
  • John Isner of Little Rock as Little John
  • Mark Hansen of Little Rock as Will Scarlet and Sir Guy of Gisbourne
  • Jeremy Matthey of Little Rock as Alan-a-Dale
  • Genevieve West Fulks of Jonesboro as Ellen of Lea
  • Keara Billings of Little Rock as an ensemble member
  • Kate Kelly of Little Rock as an ensemble member
  • Gabriel Moleta of Brazil as an ensemble member

Bradley Anderson is the artistic director. Keith Smith is the playwright for the production. Sets are designed by MA Hare; costumes are designed by Erin Larkin; technical direction by Drew Posey; lighting design by Penelope Poppers; properties design by Miranda Young; fight choreography by Brett Ihler and Sarah Gasser is the stage manager.

The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre presenting sponsor is Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the season sponsor is Dr. Loren Bartole, ‘Family Footcare’; Pay What You Can Night is sponsored by Dorothy Morris.

Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is supported in part by: The Shubert Foundation, the City of Little Rock; the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees; and the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Performances for the public Fridays at 7pm and Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm.

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Author Frank Thurmond reads from his new book tonight, this weekend

Thurmond photo1This April, Arkansas native and Central Arkansas resident Frank H. Thurmond, local author, filmmaker and musician, celebrates the release of his second book, Ring of Five: A Novella and Four Stories, published by Et Alia Press.
His new book will be launched at the Arkansas Literary Festival held April 23-26, where Thurmond will be discussing the book and his film adaptations of several of his stories. Further, a kick-off reading will be held Thursday, April 23 at 8:00 pm  as part of the “Lit and Libations” author series at Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro in the River Market.  Thurmond will be reading from the new book. This event is free an open to the public.
In this historically grounded thriller, Ring of Five recounts the Cold War intrigue of real-life British master spy Kim Philby, the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s James Bond.  When the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) discovers a mole is betraying deadly secrets to the enemy, it assigns its best agent to investigate.  But what if this spy hides a shocking secret of his own and the investigator becomes the investigated? This riveting story is a thrilling and timely adventure blending espionage, politics, and love and betrayal.
Of Thurmond’s book, celebrity actor Michael York, whose films include Cabaret and Austin Powers, and author of Accidentally on Purpose, states, “I’m enormously impressed with Ring of Five. It is a beautifully constructed story that holds the attention—and the tension—to the end. This is all the more laudable as it’s a known story, but Thurmond makes the historical facts come dramatically alive. Ring of Five is a most engrossing and enjoyable read. ” 
Thurmond learned of the story while living and studying in Oxford, England where he was intrigued to hear of the so called “Cambridge Spies,” known as the most notorious double agents of the Cold War era.
A formal Little Rock release party with the author will be held Saturday, May 2 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at By the Glass wine bar in the Heights.  Entertainment will be provided by the Ted Ludwig Trio, a local jazz ensemble. The event is free and open to the public.
Thurmond was born in Paragould and grew up in Crossett and Little Rock, where he attended Hall High School.  He studied English and music as a Donaghey Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and pursued graduate degrees at Southern Methodist University and Oxford University. Thurmond is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is a visiting writer in residence at Lyon College in Batesville.
Thurmond’s first book was a memoir entitled Before I Sleep: A Memoir of Travel and Reconciliation, which recounts his adult experience of meeting his previously unknown birth father.  It was featured in the 2014 KUAR’s Arts & Letters Father’s Day special, which is available on
Previously, Thurmond’s work has appeared in various publications, including the International Herald TribuneThe Best of Tales from the SouthVolume 6Toad Suck Review; and in William Safire’s language book, No Uncertain Terms.
Thurmond writes for both stage and screen as well. As a filmmaker, his first film, “The Spymaster,” was adapted from the Philby story in Ring of Five and premiered at the Little Rock Film Festival last year.  Based on the success of this short film, a feature film of the story is now in development with a Los Angeles production company. He hopes to premiere his new short film “The Dealer’s Tale”—also adapted from a story in his new collection—at this year’s Little Rock Film Festival in May, directed by Little Rock filmmaker Justin Nickels.  
Ring of Five: A Novella and Four Stories  will be available after April 23 at Wordsworth Books in the Heights, the UALR Bookstore, other local book sellers and

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Rebecca Wells headlines first day of 12th Annual Arkansas Literary Festival

2015 ALF 1The 12th annual Arkansas Literary Festival kicks off today.

  • From 5pm to 7pm, there will be a book sale preview party at River Market Books & Gifts in the Cox Creative Center.
  • At 5:30, the exhibit “Page Turners” featuring Bryan Collier will open at Hearne Fine Art.
  •  At 6pm, there will be a Summer Reading Club Preview on the 3rd floor of the Main Library.
  •  Rebecca Wells will discuss “Divine Secrets” at 7pm on stage at the Ron Robinson Theatre. She is the author of the “Ya Ya Sisterhood” books. She will also return to Little Rock in 2016 to perform her one-woman show at the Arkansas Rep.

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System, Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL), Arkansas Humanities Council, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, ProSmart Printing, Little Rock Family, KUAR FM 89.1, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sync, Arkansas Life, Clinton Foundation, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Windstream, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Times, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Hampton Inn Downtown/McKibbon Hotel Group, Capital Hotel, Historic Arkansas Museum , TransAmerica, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Arkansas Library Association, Pulaski Technical College, Union Pacific, Sequoyah National Research Center, Gibbs Elementary School, Rockefeller Elementary School, Hendrix College, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, Arkansas Women’s Forum, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, East Harding, University of Arkansas at Little Rock English Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing, Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Christ Episcopal Church, and Lamar Advertising. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System. The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Katherine Whitworth is the 2015 Festival Chair. Other committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; Laura Stanley, Hospitality Gifts; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.

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For Poetry Month – Epilogue

Since April is Poetry Month, here is a poem written by the Culture Vulture.  It was inspired by visits to the Old State House Museum and Women’s City Club buildings before they were renovated.


scratched oak floors
plaster peeling off of the walls
banisters smoothed by time’s sandpaper
the chandelier–Arachne’s loom
dank, dusty, musty odors permeate from
the drapes hanging
like Babylon’s gardens
the ballroom is lifeless.

But, stop and listen

Strains of music
The rustle of taffeta and satin as
Women practice Terpsichore’s art
Whirling and swirling around with
Men in white tie and tails.
The clinking of glasses
To toast triumphs…and future hopes.

All of these are as much a part of the room as

scratched oak floors
plaster peeling off of the walls
banisters smoothed by time’s sandpaper….


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