Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Woo Pop Sooie!

I made an interesting discovery at the supermarket one day. The entire shelf display at the end of an aisle was taken up by this:

Limited edition Arkansas Razorbacks Pop Tarts. If I remember correctly, I didn't even put any thought into whether or not I should buy a box. Honestly, I don't even remember doing it. I must have put a box in my cart directly after snapping this photo. It wasn't until later, when I was checking out, when I saw them again and thought, "Oh yeah, I guess I'm buying these."

I get the feeling that by buying these Pop Tarts, I've already shown more school spirit than for Arkansas than for any school I've ever attended. Sadly, I don't think the technology for custom printed Pop Tarts was available 15 years ago during my days at the University of Delaware, nor do I think they'd waste the technology on some Division II school.

After doing some light Internet research, I've discovered that The Razorbacks are one of five schools that earned the Pop Tart honor. The other schools are UNC, Florida, Michigan and Georgia. I'm not sure why those five schools were picked. It would make sense if they were going to do a few schools a year, they'd go with colors that match the flavor that year. So since this was a strawberry year, they'd do a bunch of schools with red logos.

Nope. That theory goes out the window with the inclusion of Michigan.

I don't know. I would think "Go Blue berry" would make more sense to me than "Go Blue Strawberry," but no one asked my opinion.

As an added bonus, the football schedule was printed on the back of the box.

However, I'm thinking that if you're buying the Arkansas Razorbacks Pop Tarts, you're either a big enough fan that you're able to recite the schedule from memory -- or at least have it plastered on a half-dozen surfaces around your home -- or you're someone like me who bought it specifically so that I would be able to say, "Holy crap, you're not going to believe what I bought today."

Weeks later, as the special Pop Tart inventory decreases, the supermarket has been using the space for another Razorback-themed item.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Toys, Tusks & Trotters

We've been spending more time up in Bentonville lately, which is the apex of Walmart Country, mostly because.....well, that's where Walmart Home Office is.  Some friends of ours bought a house up there, a few blocks off the Bentonville Square, so we've found ourselves making the half hour drive up to B'ville fairly often in the last several months.

One of those recent adventures was to revel in the glory of First Fridays, a similar town-square event to Fayetteville's own First Thursdays.  No idea what the Bentonville event normally looks like, but I can tell you that the first Friday of November, First Fridays is a toy fair extravaganza.

Toy booths were everywhere along with delicious fair foods (cotton candy, corn dogs, fried pickles, etc.).  Folks were demonstrating remote control planes, some poor schmuck was dressed up as Barbie taking pictures with kids, they had a Mystery Machine bus you could wait in line to walk through (we didn't), and Batman was there taking pictures near his camouflage Batmobile and Batmotorcycle.  There was a stage with perky teens singing Radio Disney songs, a lego tent, a Play-doh tent, and all kinds of other tents with toys to look at and play with.  It was a kid's paradise.

Of course, we went with a group of childless-adults (OK, to be fair, one of our party was 8 months pregnant, so there were some impending parents in our midst) and meandered through the throngs of visitors.  And it did feel more "throng-like" than any other event I've been to in Walmart Country save the Wild Hog Convention.  It was pointed out to me that the Toy Fair makes for excellent people-watching, between the Walmart execs and the "local hillbillys."

Others might have also enjoyed watching us, as we took pictures with the cardboard Disney princesses, the cardboard Bratz dolls, the Scooby Doo gang cutouts, and one very special picture of Doug looking at the One Direction (excuse me, 1D) dolls.

After wandering through the fair, we headed over to Tusk & Trotter, the only restaurant Doug and I have been to on the Bentonville Square (we tried another place but the wait was an hour and we were too hungry for that).  It's a great place, good atmosphere if you can ignore the HUGE hog paintings everywhere, and delicious food.  As our little Canadaphile, Doug had the Poutine, and I had one of the best burger's I've ever had called the "Charcuterie burger."  Description: Housemade sausage patty, duck pate, housemade bacon, pickled vegetables, housemade roasted garlic-red grape cheese, brioche bun.  YUM!  Oh, and their pub food comes with your choice of salad, veggies, or three kinds of fries.  Salt and pepper, truffle or glazed.  The glazed fries are delish--slightly sweet but not overpowering.

The Sunday brunch menu looks phenomenal.  Perhaps some day we will have a reason to go up to B'ville for brunchy-goodness and have a carrot cake waffle or lemon souffle pancakes or duck pastrami eggs benedict.

Just goes to show that we have some good food and some entertaining culture here in Walmart Country. Time to visit, ya'll, time to visit and give us a reason to go out to brunch. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Award-winning runner!

I'm not sure at what point in the last year I stopped hating running. I think it's been since August.  Last year, I ran because it's free exercise, emphasis on "free."  It's not my preferred way of getting physical activity, but there appear to be NO modern/jazz dance classes for adults in this town and I'm thusfar unwilling to join the gym at the University.  Mostly because the gym is a hike from my office--and I mean hike.  Uphill.  A big hill.  So I don't want to walk to the gym in the morning, work out, shower, and then have to sweat my way up the hill to my office.  No way.  And I prefer to work out in the mornings, so...yeah.  I've just avoided joining the gym.

Sometime over the last few months, I've stopped hating it.  I don't look forward to it, exactly, but I don't hate it.  Podcasts are much to do with this.  Running to music isn't fun for me, it makes me think about how I'm running, and that just makes me want to stop. But listening to podcasts makes the time go by quickly, because I'm listening to a story, and I want to find out what happens, so I just keep running.

As Doug noted a ways back, I ran a 10K this fall, only the second in my life.  I did better on the first one (two years ago), but was close to my target time in less-than-ideal conditions (not used to running on gravel, ground was muddy from rain, temperature was in Indian-Summer-ville).  While "training" for the 10K, slowly increasing my milage up from 3 miles to 4, then 5, I stopped hating running.

So, when the opportunity to run another short race came around, the "Down and Dirty" 5K, I decided to do it.  This time I left Doug home, and woke up early on a Saturday morning to sub-freezing weather.  I drove over to the race area (the same place I'd run the 10K!) with a hat and gloves and commenced to run the fastest 5K I've ever run.  I think I clocked in at 26:45 or so (the above link should have the race results posted on the website along with pictures....but they aren't there yet).  Considering my best 5K before this one was 27:50, this means I shaved over a minute off my best time....go me!  And even better...I placed 3rd in my age group!  Apparently of the 100 or so people who ran the race, this was by far the biggest age group, so obviously it's very very meaningful.  Here's my medal:

After the 5K they held a one mile "fun run," populated mostly by families with small children. After Doug's experience and this one, I now understand that "fun run" means "mostly for kids."  But having looked at the race results from previous years, the placers were all adults and I thought I might be able to "medal" in this event too.  As it turns out, I came in second.  Not second in my age group or second for women (though both of these were true too), but second overall.  The top finisher was a marathon-running woman who ran the mile in just under 7 minutes, and I came in at 7:40 or so.  I probably could have pushed myself to run faster, but it seemed plenty fast enough.  The ridiculous plaque I received:

So where does this leave me?  With some silly awards and the possibility of training for a half-marathon.  I have zero interest in a full marathon, but I think I might train for a half.  Maybe.

Also with the knowledge that I like running in the cold.  I woke up on November 4th with an extra hour on my hands due to the time change, and I decided to use that hour for a run.  Of my own free will, I ran 6.5 miles in just over an hour and came back invigorated.

I think Doug is worried I've been taken over by an alien.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Haunted Corn Maze

A few weeks ago, some friends of ours invited us to go to a haunted corn maze.  Considering how awesome my first corn maze two years ago outside of Albuquerque was, I was totally in.

Except, things are done Walmart Country style.

The link to the corn maze website (It's a MAZE-ing!) is here, but as I doubt anyone actually clicks on my links, I will instead steal their picture and post it here so you can see how hog-wild these people are for their hogs:

People, the corn maze HAS A PICTURE OF A PIG IN IT.  Within an outline of the state of Arkansas!  I mean.....wow.

Anyway, we went at night to the "haunted" corn maze.  When we got there, we found all kinds of goofy small-town stuff, namely $20 helicopter rides over the maze and some kind of "corn shooter" where you shoot cobs of corn out of a cannon-y type thing toward a target.  Unfortunately, I cannot be more specific about this because no one in our party wanted to do it, and I just wanted to watch someone else do it.

We waited in line about 10 minutes before getting into the maze, and once we did, it was....well...walking around in a field of corn expecting some creepy creature to jump out at you.  Which is fun, if you like the ambiguity of fear.  The first fella who jumped out at us was very friendly after we screaming, as he said something like "You have a nice night now!" as he backed into the corn.  My personal favorite was when we reached what looked like a dead end, but someone holding a row of corn then jumped out at is.  Sort of the corn-maze version of a false door.

I probably made the mistake of wearing clothing too light in color, because the creepers seemed to like jumping at me in particular, which was mostly fun, but a little scary when a chainsaw was involved.

All in all, though, it was a fun small town adventure, a night that ended up in our sitting in a friend's backyard roasting giant marshmallows over a fire pit and chatting...just what a fall weekend night should be like in a small town.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fossil Cove

Recently, Doug and I "discovered" a new Fayetteville tap room called Fossil Cove Brewery.  And by "discovered," I mean that one of my new faculty friends (from teaching camp!) invited me to go there for a trivia night with her and one of her colleagues.  Of course I invited Doug, but they wanted more of a "ladies night" thing, so I met them halfway. I went first and told Doug to come by later, to help us at trivia and to drive me home.

I walked there from the office, about 1.5 miles achieved in half an hour.  It was a lovely fall day, and I just put on a podcast and strolled up the trail.  The actual location for the tap room is in an industrial-feeling part of town, though right near to residential neighborhoods.  In terms of location, it felt similar to our favorite Albuquerque brew house/tap room owned by some friends of Dougs, La Cumbre.  Seriously, if you're in Albuquerque with a car, check it out, especially if you like IPAs.

Anyway, Fossil Cove was really cute!  Very small, with a bar counter and maybe 5-6 tables, it's a one room venture adjacent to the actual brewing room with big ole beer barrels.  The tap room has local art on the walls, is painted a cheery color, and just seems like a happy place.  They have outdoor seating as well which I'm sure we'll take advantage of next summer.

And the beer.  The beer is good!  I particularly like a Belgian brown they make.  There are a bunch of IPA-types as well, which I didn't try because I'm less of an IPA fan, but others said they were good.  The trivia was difficult and we didn't get a question correct until Doug came--though I knew the question they asked immediately before he walked in (Which president had the shortest term?). Mostly because of The Simpsons.

We've been back to Fossil Cove since, after my winning race (more on that in another post!), and enjoyed it just as much the second time.  Yay for local brews!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween in Walmart Country

As anyone who knows us knows, Doug and I love Halloween.  We both had Halloween pictures posted on our internet dating profiles, and recognized early that Halloween (and other associated events that allow for ridiculous dress-up opportunities) was an area of common interest.  The first year were were dating, our costumes were equally ridiculous in different ways--Doug went as Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons and spiked his then-long hair out in mohawks all over his head, and I went as "Baby got Back" (Yes, the Sir-Mix-a-Lot song!) by dressing up as a baby and padding my ass out as far as I could.

Naturally, we both feel we have a lot to live up to for Halloween, and last year we did.....nothing.  We had nowhere to go, no reason to dress up, other than possibly dressing up as a farm animal to get a free burrito from Chipotle, which ultimately felt too sad to actually do.  Since then, we've talked repeatedly about what we should be this year, but conversations stalled when we realized that yet again, we really had no where to go and no Halloween parties to attend.

That is, until the week before Halloween, when some friends of ours said they would be holding a chili-party the night of Halloween.  The cook of the house makes a damn fine chili, so we decided to go, and heavens forbid if we are going to go out on Halloween night and not dress up.

So, we scrambled a bit to come up with some last minute costume ideas.  We ended up going as George Bluth and Kitty Sanchez from the TV Show Arrested Development.

Or, to be more specific, Doug put on an orange jumpsuit and a black do-rag type thing to emulate this:

And I sewed foam false boobs to a white T-shirt so that I could have weirdly mismatched nipples like this:

Also, importantly, the character of Kitty is known for saying some kind of line akin to "Say goodbye to THESE!" and then flashes one of the other characters. She does this a lot.  So, I thought it would be funny if I could do the same, which is the other reason for the foam false boobs on the white t-shirt....I could "flash" people during the party.

As it turns out, the majority of the party-goers were Walmart and Sams-Club folks who are lovely people, but I don't think they watch much Arrested Development and they looked highly uncomfortable with the flashing.  Eh, this is what they get from a creative academic type.

In other news, trick-or-treating in Walmart Country is a weird event.  According to Doug, who manned our door until he left to come pick me up for work, we got no trick-or-treaters at all.  There was a trick-or-treating event downtown, a few blocks away, so perhaps all the kids went there.  Or they got smart and went to the fancy neighborhoods.  My colleague, who lives in the historic district, said that he spent $35 on candy and it was all gone by 7:30pm.

The same thing apparently happened near downtown Bentonville.  Friends of ours, who live 4 blocks from the square, said they got almost no trick-or-treaters, but people they know who live right off the square had over a thousand trick-or-treaters.  There may be a bit of hyperbole going on here, but not as much as you might think.  I guess there are some zones for candy-getting and some zones of safety.  As usual, Walmart Country does things its own way.