Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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CALS-Con 2015 today

cals_conFans of superheroes, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, comics, and gaming will converge on the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) 2nd Annual CALS Con on Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m on the Main Library campus, 100 Rock Street. All CALS Con events are free and open to the public.

CALS Con is a family-friendly celebration of all things fandom. The event kicks off the library’s 2015 superhero-themed Summer Reading Club, Every Hero Has a Story. Fans of all ages may come dressed as their favorite character. The day will include six panels, a social media scavenger hunt, table top gaming, LEGO display and open building, drop-in gaming area, and a meet up area. The first 700 people to register for the event will receive a special CALS Con swag bag.

CALS Con will conclude with a cosplay contest at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Avenue. Attendees are encouraged to post about their CALS Con experience on social media using #CALScon2015.

Main Library 1st Floor Events

Event Description Time
Registration 9 am – 4 pm
Cosplay Contest Registration 9 am – 3 pm
SRC Registration 9 am – 3 pm

Darragh Center Lobby

CALS Con Meetup/Photo Op Area 9 am – 4 pm
Social Media Scavenger Hunt Participate in CALS Con on a whole different dimension. Seek fun items all over the library campus and digitally document the finds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #CALScon2015 to be entered in a prize drawing. 9 am – 4 pm

Darragh Center

Table Top Saturday Check out games of all sorts from our collection or bring personal copies to play. Light snacks provided. 10 am – 3 pm

Youth Services

Open LEGO® Build Members of the Arkansas LEGO Users Group will present a giant LEGO display. Plenty of bricks are available for building. 10 pm – 12 pm
& 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Color-Your-Own Super Hero Mask 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Level 4

Drop-In Gaming 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

Ron Robinson Theater

Frozen Panel Can’t get enough of Elsa, Anna, and Olaf? Panelists and attendees will be discussing favorite characters and what’s next for them. 9:30 am
Game of Thrones Panel Winter is coming! Join us for a fan discussion of the George R.R. Martin novels and the popular HBO television show. Topics include the divergence of the television adaptation from the novels and the role of prophecy in the story. Bring your own pet theory! 10:30 am
Harry Potter Panel Bending All the Rules. Panelists will discuss various controversies, issues, and even conspiracy theories that have come to light since the last book was published. 11:30 am
Lego Panel LEGO has produced more than 500 billion pieces and inspired generations of builders and makers. Discuss the past, present, and future of this powerful brand. 12:30 pm
Doctor Who Panel Doctor Who has a fandom that spans generations and decades. The panel will discuss what is loved about Classic Who as well as New Who, and talk about how the Doctor helps people understand their own place in the universe. 1:30 pm
Star Wars Panel Episode VII – The Force Awakens heralds a new era in the Star Wars saga. The panel weighs in on the original series, the prequels, and the highly anticipated sequels. Scoundrels, princesses, and Jedi of all ages are welcome. 2:30 pm
Cosplay Contest The CALS Con finale event. Register to participate by 3 p.m. or attend to cheer on favorite costumes and characters. 4:00 pm

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Tonight it is the Tales from the South Annual Fathers Show at Stickyz

talesfromsouthDoes Father know best?  Tonight, Tales from the South offers stories which may prove or disprove that old adage with their annual Fathers Show at the Stickyz Rock N’ Roll Chicken Shack. The storytellers for this edition are Lee Lyle, Marjorie Lacey and Brad Pierce.

Music is by the Salty Dogs as well as blues guitarist Mark Simpson.

“Tales From the South” is a radio show created and produced by Paula Martin Morell, who is also the show’s host. The show is taped live on Tuesday. The night is a cross between a house concert and a reading/show, with incredible food and great company. Tickets must be purchased before the show, as shows are usually standing-room only.

“Tales from the South” is a showcase of writers reading their own true stories. While the show itself is unrehearsed, the literary memoirs have been worked on for weeks leading up to the readings. Stories range from funny to touching, from everyday occurrences to life-altering tragedies.

Dinner is served from 5pm to 6:30pm, the show starts at 7pm.  Admission is $15 in advance.  Dinner can be purchased separately.

You MUST purchase your ticket before the show. Any tickets available at the door will be $20.

Previous episodes of “Tales from the South” air on KUAR Public Radio on Thursdays at 7pm.  This program will air on June 18.

Little Rock Look Back: Rabbi Ira Sanders

SandersIraE_fOn May 6, 1894, Ira Eugene Sanders was born in Missouri.  After receiving an undergraduate degree and rabbinate degree in Cincinnati, he was ordained a rabbi in 1919.  He served congregations in Pennyslvania and New York before coming to Little Rock in September 1926.

Shortly after arriving to lead the B’nai Israel congregation, Rabbi Sanders became active in the Little Rock community.  Among his projects were the Little Rock Community Fund, Little Rock School of Social Work (which he founded), Central Council of Social Agencies, and University of Arkansas Extension Department. During the Great Depression, he helped organize the Pulaski County Public Welfare Commission.  Other areas of involvement over his career included the Arkansas Human Betterment League, Urban League of Greater Little Rock and Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind.  On November 3, 1930, Rabbi Sanders debated Clarence Darrow about the existence of God in front of a packed house at Little Rock High School.

For his many involvements, he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1951 from the University of Arkansas.  Three years later he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion.

A lifelong supporter of a Jewish state, he participated in nineteen bond drives for the state of Israel.  In August 1963, he retired as the leader of B’nai Israel after over 35 years. He would remain as Rabbi Emeritus until his deal in 1985.

In January 1978, Rabbi Sanders tendered his resignation from the Central Arkansas Library board of directors.  The City Board of Directors passed resolution 5873 which noted that he had served for 51 years on the Library Board. He was first appointed in 1926.  He served during 19 different Mayoral administrations from Charles Moyer’s first term through Donald Mehlburger’s.

On April 8, 1985, Rabbi Ira Eugene Sanders died of natural causes.  He is buried in the City’s Oakland Jewish Cemetery.  The Central Arkansas Library System honors his memory with an annual distinguished lecture series.

Tonight at Clinton School – Discussion of Thurgood Marshall and 1949 Groveland Boys Case

UACS DevilBefore he was on the Supreme Court, before he supported the Little Rock Nine, before Brown v. Board of Education, Thurgood Marshall was a longtime crusader not just for civil rights, but for human rights.  T

Tonight at the Clinton School, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King, Justice Marshall’s son, Thurgood Marshall, Jr., will discuss the 1949 Groveland Boys case.

Gilbert King is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America. The book, about four black men falsely accused of raping Norma Lee Padgett, a 17-year-old white woman in Groveland, Fla. in 1949, unearthed a largely forgotten chapter in the long history of racial injustice in the United States, and explored, in painstaking details, the tactics used by Thurgood Marshall, the future Supreme Court Justice, to chip away at the foundations of Jim Crow law.

The program will begin at 6pm at the Clinton School of Public Service.  A book signing will follow.

Release Party for new Frank Thurmond book this afternoon

Thurmond photo1This afternoon from 2 to 4, Arkansan 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.
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 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 Tribune; The Best of Tales from the South, Volume 6; Toad 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.  

Poetry Month: Albert Pike and “Night on the Arkansa”

PikeAlbert_fAlbert Pike was a lawyer who played a major role in the development of the early courts of Arkansas and played an active role in the state’s politics during the middle 19th Century.  He was also a soldier, a national leader of masonry, and poet & writer.

Born in Boston in December 1809, he grew up in the greater Boston area.  Pike was admitted to Harvard, but could not afford it. He began teaching school.  In 1831, he left Massachusetts for Mexico. After spending some time in Santa Fe, he headed east and ended up in Fort Smith.  Based on some political writings, he was invited to Little Rock by Charles Bertrand (a future Little Rock mayor).

In Little Rock he flourished as a writer and attorney. He also became involved in military matters first with the Mexican War and then with Confederate army during the Civil War.  He also married and fathered several children.  At the end of the Civil War, Pike moved to New York City, then for a short time to Canada. After receiving an amnesty from President Andrew Johnson on August 30, 1865, he returned for a time to Arkansas and resumed the practice of law. He then moved to Memphis and later Washington DC.

After he ceased practicing law, Pike’s real interest was the Masonic Lodge. He had become a Mason in 1850.  He held several national posts in the Mason organization.  Pike died at the Scottish Rite Temple in Washington DC on April 2, 1891. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery there. His Masonic brothers erected a statute to him in 1901 in Washington DC, making him the only former Confederate general to have a monument there.

The house he built in Little Rock still stands, and is known as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House.  It was the boyhood home of Pulitzer Prize winning poet John Gould Fletcher.  Though he is buried in Washington DC, there is a memorial to him erected in Mount Holly Cemetery.  It can be seen every day, but especially today during the Mount Holly Rest in Perpetuity fundraiser picnic.

Pike began to write poetry as a young man, which he continued to do for the rest of his life.



Night comes upon the Arkansa with swift stride, —
Its dark and turbid waters roll along,
Bearing wrecked trees and drift, — deep, red, and wide.
The heavy forests sleeps on either side,
To the water’s edge low-stooping; and among
The patient stars the moon her lamps has hung,
Lit with the spirit of the buried sun.
No blue waves dance the stream’s dark bosom on,
Glittering like beauty’s sparkling starry tears;
No crest of foam, crowning the river dun,
Its misty ridge of frozen light uprears:
One sole relief in the great void appears —
A dark, blue ridge, set sharp against the sky,
Beyond the forest’s utmost boundary.


Not so wast thou, O, brave old Merrimac!
As I remember the; as thou art seen
By the Soul’s eyes, when, dreaming, I go back
To my old home, and see the small boats tack
On thy blue waters, gliding swift between
The old gray rocks that o’er them fondly lean,
Their foreheads scarred with lightning.  There, around
Grim capes the surly waterswhirl and bound;
And here and there grave patriarchal trees
Persuade the grass to clothe the reluctant ground
And frowning banks with green. Still villages
Sleep in the embraces of the cool sea-breeze: —
Ah, brave old stream! – thou seemest to infold
My heart within thy waters, as of old.


Final day for 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival

2015 ALF 2The final day of the Arkansas Literary Festival kicks off with David Rosenfelt discussing Hounded at the Clinton School at noon.  That will be followed by Arkansas Puzzle Day from 1pm to 4pm at the Clinton School.

The used book sale will continue at both the Main Library and River Market Books & Gifts.

Karen Joy Fowler and Megan Mayhew Bergman will be on a panel at 1:30pm at the Ron Robinson Theatre.

At 3pm, Charles Morgan will lead the final session of the 2015 ALF when he discusses his book Matters of Life and Data at the Ron Robinson Theatre.


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