Sunday, September 18, 2011

Late update from last weekend

On Sunday afternoon (last weekend), we decided to enjoy the beautiful day and see some of the Fayetteville sights. We first went to one of the two miniature golf courses in Fayetteville, the Lokomotion. It reminded us of Hinkle Family Fun center in Albuquerque, as it was a family-type joint where one can have a variety of fun, including bumper boats, go-karts, and miniature golf. Unlike Albuquerque, however, this sign welcomed us to Lokomotion:

Who would dip or chew while go-karting or playing skee-ball? Really, Arkansas?

After I creamed Doug in a game of miniature golf, we played the favorite games in the arcade (Lets Make a Deal, air hockey, and a difficult turn on Dance, Dance Revolution), and somewhat sweatier, left Lokomotion.

We'd packed a small lunch and we headed for the shores of Lake Fayetteville, which is about 200 yards north of the Lokomotion place. The lake is close to the mall but on the other side of a hill such that if you don't go over the hill, you'll never see the lake. Doug didn't even know it was there.

We found some shade on the banks of Lake Fayetteville where we spent a tranquil hour eating sandwiches, staring at the waters and planning where to go on the honeymoon. Our view looked like this:

Purdy, eh? It was a nice quiet afternoon with (thankfully) no dipping. Either in the lake or into a tobacco canister.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The hog in all it's forms

It's impossible to go anywhere in this town without encountering a picture of a razorback (or something that is intending to be interpreted as a razorback...more on that in a second). I thought it might be worth devoting a post to the different iterations of the razorback that are seen around town.

The first is the common angry-pig drawing or cartoon that is often on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other printed materials:

Then we have what might be my favorite, the live masoct Tusk, who is one of the only remaining live mascots in the SEC. According to my Wikipedia research, we are now on Tusk III, as Tusk II died in 2010. Tusk is not actually a razorback, but is actually a Russian boar who weighs over 400 lbs. He's super duper cute, though:

Apparently he goes to all of the home games, which is reason enough for me to attend a game, as I'd totally love to see this iteration of Tusk in person.

Then we have what has been dubbed by an ESPN poll as the "most annoying mascot in the SEC," Boss Hog (not to be confused with Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazard) and his band of other random mascots. From what I can gather, we have (from left to right): Sue E., Big Red (the fightin' Razorback), inflatable Boss Hog, Ribby (the baseball mascot), and Pork Chop, the kid version. There is also a lady version of Big Red who didn't end up in this picture.

And last, we have my favorite sighting, the Razorback fountain which is not too far from the psychology building:

When you look at the statue head on, it looks like the pig is drooling water. It's either hilarious or gross, depending on mood. Apparently this statue is a recreation of a classic statue in Florence, Italy from somewhere around the 1500s. This information is posted on a plaque on the ground in front of the statue, and as a random gentleman pointed out as we were reading it, there are also a bunch of other little animals (snakes, turtles, etc.) also bronzed at the great pig's feet as a part of the statue.

As soon as said gentleman announced this to us, he promptly stuck his head under the water and proceeded to wet his entire head. I thought to myself, "Hmmm, this dude is washing his hair in pig drool." Which just goes to show how essential the razorback is to life in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Power of Love (of free concerts)

Last night, we had the honor of having Huey Lewis and the News perform a free concert close to our apartment.

I was pretty excited about that, but Jenn couldn't really share my enthusiasm. Spending the night crammed in a parking lot full of people listening to music she wasn't all that familiar with wasn't her idea of a fun birthday, and I can understand that. But hey, free Huey Lewis and the News concert. Neither of us wanted to miss an opportunity like that. She downloaded their greatest hits album from Amazon and realized that she actually did know a few of their songs. So we were psyched for this show.

Before the show, we enjoyed dinner at Greenhouse Grill. The food, as always, was amazing. It was the kind of amazing that could only be achieved with bacon-wrapped pork loin. I'll even say that the meal was cooked so well that I was able to eat the asparagus.

To anyone unfamiliar with my childlike eating habits, it should be noted that I put vegetables like asparagus and broccoli in the complete opposite side of the spectrum as bacon-wrapped pork. Though, since I'm technically an adult, I realize I should start eating as one. So, I've been making an extra effort to choke down the veggies I've always hated. I wouldn't say I was happy to eat the asparagus, but thanks to the fine work of the chef, the gagging was at a minimum.

Jenn gave me a taste of her Gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon, which was as good as it sounds. That came with roasted potatoes and bacon-wrapped veggies. I'm not going to argue with the chef's use of bacon wrapping.
We headed to the concert and got there just in time to catch the first song, The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll. We found a nice spot to settle in that wasn't too crowded but still offered a good enough view of the stage. At this point, the band went into 45 minutes of music I don't know, including stuff from their newest album, Soulsville.

This reminded me of a scene in The Simpsons where Bachman-Turner Overdrive was doing a show. When they said they would be playing their new stuff, Homer yelled at them to play Takin' Care of Business. When they broke into that song, Homer yelled at them to just cut to the guitar solo.

I realize these guys are probably sick of playing the same songs for over 25 years and they're proud of their newer works, but my inner-Homer wanted to stop them so that I could hear the hits. I also realize that maybe I'm getting to be too much of a pill for live music in general, because I get annoyed at charade of the encore.

Hey, I get it. Huey doesn't have the energy he had in the '80s. If he needs a break before getting into the bigger hits, he deserves one. He shouldn't say "Good night, Fayetteville!" as if he really has the audacity to give a concert and NOT play Power of Love. And he shouldn't make me stand there and applaud as if that's going to coax him back out onto the stage. I'm not falling for that nonsense.

Oh, and I also can't stand it when performers, in general, ask me if we're doing alright and then refuse to go on with the night until the collective answer breaks a certain decibel level.
Anyway, back to the show. The band came back for an encore set, which included the bigger hits. An impromptu conga line formed during Do You Believe in Love, which allowed us to snake our way closer to the front. We stayed in the front when the line turned around and headed back, even though this probably goes against the concert etiquette. We didn't stay up front too long because it was too crowded — Jenn and I are big advocates of personal space — and our view was blocked by a wall of two tall drunken bros seemingly intent on recording the entire show on their phones.

All in all, despite their omission of Back in Time and Hip To Be Square — which they actually played the first few bars of before stopping. Oh, what a tease!

Free Huey Lewis and the News concert — I'd have to say, good job, City of Fayetteville.

I'm really bad at estimating the size of crowds. But I'll definitely say there was somewhere between a few dozen and a half-million there. I'm comfortable making that guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Devil's Den

It has finally cooled down here in Fayetteville, to the point that yesterday morning we woke up for labor day to a cool, clear day. The high was only in the low 70s, and we decided to take advantage of the great weather to go hiking at Devil's Den, one of Arkansas's fine state parks. Apparently there are some really cool caves there, but due to White-nose syndrome, they are currently closed. To be clear, that is White nose syndrome, not (as I first thought), white-NOISE syndrome, which doesn't sound any worse than listening to static for hours on end (some people might find that soothing). White nose syndrome is a fungal infection that affects the muzzle and wings of bats, causing them some potentially serious harm. Apparently the human ability to transmit the fungus is currently unclear (says the Wikipedia entry) but for the sake of everyone, human-bat contact in the caves is forbidden.

Despite the lack of caving, our hike was still lovely. Devil's Den is about 20 minutes from Fayetteville, on a road that is so hilly I would not want to drive it during any inclement weather.
We got there and had a small picnic before setting out on our 3-mile hike. Mostly forested, the hike wound up and around a cliff of yellow rock, hence the trail name (Yellow Rock Trail). Here's a picture from the forest-y portion:

And another picture from the lookout:

I must say, as beautiful as this is, the views don't compare to the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico, but I'll take what I can get. The one advantage of this hike was the gentler slope. It was still effortful, but I didn't feel completely winded at the end.

When we got back to town, we walked down to Dickson Street and enjoyed a late afternoon margarita and some potato skins. Not a bad work-free Labor Day, if I do say so myself!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Football season

As anyone who knows me probably knows, I know very little about pretty much every sport. I know enough to know that in basketball, the idea is to get that round orange ball into that hoop/net, and in baseball it's to hit a small white round ball with a big stick and run really really fast around some bases. And so on and so forth.

Football makes even less sense to me than other sports. First of all, why the hell did we need to steal the name that when translated in most other languages, means what we call soccer? Secondly, as a psychologist I know too much about the cognitive hazards of football, and third, as someone who believes in fairness and equality, seeing athletes get money, fame and fake grades lobbed at them just for being good at one thing feels kind of ludicrous.

But hey, I know that many people love to play sports, watch sports, and root for their favorite teams. I never became one of them, as neither my high school nor my graduate school had a football team, and my college had a team that was so bad we almost made it into the Guinness Book for number of consecutive losses. So, I never really got into the whole football culture. Yet now I live in a town gone hog-wild (pun intended) for football.

Other people wiser than I have talked about the regional differences in states that do and don't have a pro team, but suffice it to say that Arkansas does not have a pro team, and thus all the football-lovin' verve is channeled to the Razorbacks.

Why, you ask, is the Arkansas mascot a feral pig? Well, gentle readers, as Doug and I learned yesterday, the answer dates back to 1909. Back then, the Arkansas team was called the Cardinals, with colors of red (Cardinal red, mind you) and white. The team had an undefeated year, and at the end of the season, the team met it's fans downtown at the train station, where the coach proclaimed that the team "played like a wild band of razorback hogs." The student body loved the line, and voted to change the mascot the following year, in 1910.

We learned this via a plaque on the opposite side of the street from the old train station, which is now a building that houses a Chipotle and a new bar called "The Rowdy Beaver."

Perhaps it is obvious, but I write about football now because Saturday (Sept 3rd) was the first game of the Razorback season. Driving around town yesterday, every other car had tiny little hog flags waving from the windows, and pretty much everyone was dressed in red. (Of note, the official colors are red and white, though for a few years the Collegiate Licensing Co. was making UA gear with red and black.) Doug and I actually had an opportunity to go to the game, but we slacked about asking for the tickets offered to us, so we didn't attend.

Instead, after dinner, we took a walk around campus to see the tents and the stadium. We found a neat hill with an excellent view of the stadium, including a decent view of the field:

I anticipate that getting into the football craze will be a large learning curve for me in this job. I can--and will--dutifully wear red and white the day before and/or the day of a game. I may even attend a game or two if given the opportunity, because I do not yet understand how to "call the pig." Whether or not I will ever truly become a fan of football, or a specific fan of the Razorbacks, well....only time will tell.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fayetteville First Thursdays

Every first Thursday of the month, downtown Fayetteville hosts a little event called "First Thursdays." It's primarily revolved around art, with artists setting up tables and booths to display (and sell!) their work, but there is also music, face painting, and other random crafts for kids. For some reason there is a complimentary wine bar, and a brewery selling beer for fairly cheap. It's nothing incredibly exciting, but it's still nice to wander around downtown for 45 minutes or so, sipping a beer, looking at art (a LOT of which is pig themed) and people watching. Doug's main comment from First Thursdays this week was "People watching is more fun when you don't know anyone in town."

This month, First Thursdays was expanded a bit, as the town joined with the University to put on "The Fest of All." It was intended to be a cultural festival, though that was not apparent from the art, only from the random music and dance numbers performed on one side of the square. We caught a belly dancing number, which was pretty cool.

Not, however, as cool as this:

The guy driving the mechanical purple dragon was tinkering with it when we first saw it, and it was awesome then, but not nearly as cool as when the giant golden tail was flicking around and smoke was coming out of it's mouth. Where is this guy's laboratory? What other kinds of things has he created? I immediately thought of the eccentric retired schoolmaster from Young Sherlock Holmes and his quest to create a flying machine. I mean, the similarities are obvious:

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, go rent the movie, it's worth watching.