LITTLE ROCK | Odds are, you know all about Buddy the Elf—about the artistic merits of Lite-Brite and the proper usage of “cotton-headed ninnymoggins.” Because given his rapid introduction into the pantheon of yuletide titans—culminating this winter with a claymation treatment voiced by Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory fame—it’s tough not to know Buddy. But in case you don’t, just know that it’s a heartwarming tale. And although we hear the musical version—which debuted on Broadway in 2010 and is now in its first season at The Rep—is a tad more peppy and sugar-rushed than the original 2003 film, both versions share the same sentiment. With Buddy, the holiday spirit is alive and well. (Visit therep.org for more information.)
FAYETTEVILLE | Sometimes it’s funny just how quickly a good idea can bloom—or perhaps in this case, the correct word is “explode.” After all, attendance at this indie craft show jumped from a respectable 600 its first year to nearly 4,000 its second, and a jury had to wade through the mass of applicants to select the 83 vendors that will be hawking everything from artisan prints to temporary tattoos at the fourth iteration of this annual show. If that’s not an explosion, we don’t know what is. (Visit thelittlecraftshow.com for more information.)
NORTH LITTLE ROCK | Don’t just call it a comeback. Call it one of the biggest comebacks in country music. After 13 years without an album, Garth Brooks is back in a big way. The country crooner released his latest album, Man Against Machine, in early November, and upon getting word that the supporting tour would bring Brooks back to Arkansas for the first time in 23 years, fans went a little nuts. On the first day of sales for the three-night concert series at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, 44,176 tickets were sold. That’s roughly the entire population of Bentonville coming out to see one man perform. But when that man is the two-time Grammy Award-winning powerhouse behind the hit “Friends in Low Places?” Well, we kind of understand the hype. (Visit verizonarena.com for more information.)
LITTLE ROCK | On a holiday evening years ago, George West had what his wife, Starr Mitchell, describes as “one more of his very good ideas.”
At the home of their friends, Kathy and Bill Worthen, George had been sampling some of the Worthen Family Egg Nog. The recipe had been handed down through the generations, making its way to Bill by way of his great-great-great-grandfather, Nicholas Peay.
“It occurred to George that, surely, other Little Rock families had family egg nogs, and that even more surely, they knew theirs was the best,” Mitchell says.
So why not invite them to a competition? Have them slug it out until one supreme recipe was named winner? With Bill Worthen serving as director of the Historic Arkansas Museum, they had a location. They just needed a name. And George had one.
Proud of himself, George was prouder two minutes later when he exclaimed: “And you can call it a Nog Off!” Mitchell says.
On Dec. 12, the Historic Arkansas Museum will host its 10th Ever Nog Off. For the past decade, the competition has been a free event as part of the 2nd Friday Art Night in December. Over the years, both Bill’s Nicholas Peay recipe and Mitchell’s family’s recipe have won first place.
But the original first-place winner in the First Ever Nog Off in 2004 was William E. Woodruff, a resident of Little Rock from 1821. Most well-known as the founder of the Arkansas Gazette, Woodruff lived from 1795-1885 and somewhere along the way acquired a simple recipe for Egg Nog for one: One egg yolk, 2 tablespoons cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and a teaspoon of brandy.
“It’s the creamiest of any I’ve had,” Mitchell says. “It’s almost like a dessert.”
While most Nog Off competition winners (including Mitchell) prefer to keep their recipes a well-guarded secret, Woodruff isn’t here to complain. Cheers.
(Visit historicarkansas.org for more information)
William E. Woodruff’s Eggnog
16 egg yolks
1/2 cup brandy
(or good whiskey)
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 nutmeg, grated
Beat the egg yolks until they reach a lemon color. Slowly add the liquor while beating; then, still beating, gradually add the sugar. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Mix whipped cream into the liquor mixture. Grate the nutmeg over the egg nog, and mix in well. Chill. Serve in small glasses or cups.
EL DORADO | It’s entirely possible that you’ve never been to the Southern Arkansas Arts Center—or had even the faintest notion that it’s been wrapped up in bicentennial celebrations for the past year. But even if your ties to the center are nonexistent to tenuous, there’s a reason for making the trek there for this month’s variety show: To sit in for a moment as the cavalcade of performers collected from near and (very) far puts on a show that distills that half-century to microcosm, with everything from A Streetcar Named Desire to The Producers, there’s a reminder of just how far the arts center has come—and how far it’s still likely to go. (Visit saac-arts.com for more information.)
12/31 New Year’s Eve
There’s more to the perfect New Year’s Eve playlist than just making sure you queue up Auld Lang Syne at midnight. Here are five must-play songs for every stage of the party:
“New Year’s Resolution” by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas – This soulful ballad is a perfect way to start the night—not too fast, not too slow.
“Funky New Year” by the Eagles – As midnight draws closer and you want to take the party up a notch, just drop the needle on this should-be classic.
“The Final Countdown” by Europe – We can’t think of a better way to, er … countdown the last few minutes until ball drops than with this hair-metal classic. (Ed note: Start the song 4 minutes and 30 seconds before midnight for best effect)
“Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem)” by Mariah Carey – While Mariah’s version of this classic parting song starts off in the traditional manner (read: slowly), a minute in the beat picks up to a level more befitting a celebration.
“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” by Ella Fitzgerald – Cap off the night and slow everything down (just in time to go home) with this holiday jazz standard from America’s “First Lady of Song.”
Nov. 26-Dec. 21: TheatreSquared’s Around the World in 80 Days at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
Dec. 4: Eighth Annual Tie One On at Pavilion in the Park in Little Rock
Dec. 5-6: The Second City’s Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
Dec. 6: Little Rock’s Annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade
Dec. 6: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock
Dec. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21: “Caroling in the Caverns” at Blanchard Springs Caverns outside Mountain View
Dec. 7: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis Big Band Holidays at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
Dec. 9: “Working in the Eye of the Sun: Photographing the Vernacular Architecture of Arkansas” lecture at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock
Dec. 12: Mythbusters: Behind The Myths at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
Dec. 12-14: Ballet Arkansas and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s The Nutcracker at Maumelle High School Auditorium in Maumelle
Dec. 13: Teddy Bear Tea at One Eleven at the Capital
Dec. 19: “Hair to There: Weaving Tales with Textiles” lecture by “State of the Art” artist Sonya Clark
Dec: 19-21: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Swingin’ Holiday Extravaganza at Pulaski Academy’s Connor Performing Arts Center in Little Rock
Dec. 23: Tales from the South season finale at Stickyz Rock N’ Roll Chicken Shack in Little Rock