Page 1

Mature Arkansas DECEMBER 15, 2011

the loft’s poetic past is but a prelude it's a hot springs story Page 8

ALSO in this issue

Countdown to Christmas page 6

Recognize Holiday Depression page 11

Comfort Foods pages 12 & 13


decemBER 15, 2011


from the editor

guest E D I T O RIA L

Holiday Health, Wealth, Food and Music

Don't Drive Doctors Out of Medicare



fter our last good nerve, our Christmas savings and our patience, many of us lose good health at this time of year. December can be a dangerous month for health, especially mental health. The majority of suicides happen in December so it’s important to be aware of depression in your loved ones. Read “Recognize Holiday Depression” on page 11. It will help. Need an idea for an unusual and fun holiday get-together? Gather your friends for an afternoon of Celtic music at Little Rock’s Hibernia Irish Tavern. Read Cal Wasson’s music review on page 4 before you go. Two great ideas for winter comfort food are on pages 12 and 13. In the interests of full disclosure, we’re also included the secret to avoiding holiday weight gain. Still shopping for the grandchildren? Read Kelly Ferguson’s advice about the newest and smallest computers on page 14. If you’ve already finished your shopping, you deserve to settle back with The New York Times crossword. Since many Medicare beneficiaries fall into the doughnut hole with their prescription drug costs at this time of the year, please read Sally Johnson’s tips on saving money on your drugs on page 11. Don’t forget to try Paige Parham’s seven ideas for holiday enjoyment on page 6 and her Calendar Picks on page 7, so you won’t miss anything at this most wondrous time of the year.

We Want To Hear From YOU MATURE ARKANSAS welcomes letters or emails from readers on any subject of interest to older Arkansans. Letters to columnists are also welcome. Email your letters to and include “letter” on the subject line.

phone 501-375-2985

Mature Arkansas Publisher Jim Gray Editor Anne Wasson Art Director Mike Spain Assistant to the Editor Paige Parham Account Executive Erin Holland Production Manager Weldon Wilson Production Assistant Tracy Whitaker ad Coordinators Roland Gladden, Kelly Schlachter

Graphic Artists Bryan Moats, Katie Cook Photographer Brian Chilson Controller Weldon Wilson Office Manager Angie Fambrough IT Director Robert Curfman Billing and Collections Linda Phillips Circulation Director Anitra Hickman

Mature Arkansas is published each week by Arkansas Times Limited Partnership, 201 East Markham Street, 200 Heritage Center West, P.O. Box 34010, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203, phone (501) 375-2985. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents without the written consent of the publishers is prohibited. Manuscripts and artwork will not be returned or acknowledged unless sufficient return postage and a self-addressed stamped envelope are included. All materials are handled with due care, however, the publisher assumes no responsibility for care and safe return of unsolicited materials. All letters sent to Mature Arkansas will be treated as intended for publication and are subject to Mature Arkansas’ unrestricted right to edit or to comment editorially.

2 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

By Herb Sanderson ore than 400,000 older Arkansans rely on Medicare. With just 11 practicing physicians per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, Arkansas is tied with one other state for the lowest ratio in the country. Unfortunately, many older Arkansans are at risk of losing their doctors if Congress fails to stop a nearly 30% pay cut to doctors before the end of the year. In 1997, Congress created a new formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate to control Medicare provider payments to doctors. It didn’t work. Congress has long recognized that the Sustainable Growth Rate is a flawed method for establishing Medicare payment rates for doctors. Since 2002, Congress has voted 11 times to override the cuts mandated under the formula. The most recent “doc-fix” only appropriated enough funding to keep doctor salaries stable through this month. AARP, along with the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Medicare Rights Center, is urging Congress to avert looming payment cuts to the doctors that millions of older adults and people with disabilities rely on for their care. Reform of the Medicare physician payment formula is long overdue. It is essential to ensure stable access to healthcare for people with Medicare. We need to move away from the current payment formula that year after year relies on Congressional action to postpone scheduled payment cuts. Another temporary patch to avoid next year’s cuts does not deliver the stability that people with Medicare need. Stop-gap measures have served to increase the size of future cuts, the cost of long-term reform, and the insecurity among people with Medicare about their ability to see the doctor of their choice. It is time for Congress to act to provide seniors with stable access to healthcare. AARP members believe it is Congress’ responsibility to find a bipartisan, fiscally responsible solution to protect beneficiaries’ access to care and keep doctors in the Medicare program.

The most recent “doc-fix” only appropriated enough

funding to keep doctor salaries

stable through this month.

Mr. Sanderson is associate state director for advocacy with AARP Arkansas.


Switch From Watts To Lumens


hen shopping for light bulbs, one of the first things you check is the wattage. Starting in 2012, “lumens” will be the measure consumers should look for when shopping for light bulbs. “Wattage only tells you how much energy a bulb uses, but that is not as helpful with the new energy-conserving bulbs that have entered the market during the last decade,” according to Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. “Lumens measure brightness, so it’s a better way to compare how much light various light bulbs will provide.” Newer bulbs—like halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)— last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, saving money for consumers. Lumen listings will range from“450 lm,”which is equivalent to the brightness of a 40-watt standard incandescent light bulb, to “2600 lm,” the equivalent brightness of a 150-watt-incandescent bulb. A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb produces about 800 lumens of light. By comparison, a CFL bulb can produce the same 800 lumens using less than 15 watts. Once you know how bright a bulb is, you may want to compare the yearly energy cost, the bulb’s light appearance or color temperature. Light appearance ranges from warm to cool. Warmer light looks more yellow, like the light from a traditional incandescent bulb. Cooler light appears bluer.

You have some very good Choices in Living. u Do you need help for aging parents? u Are you looking for alternatives to living in a nursing home? u Do you need assistance for yourself, a family member or friend? If so, the Choices in Living Resource Center may be able to help you.

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decemBER 15, 2011


M USIC REVI EW n By Cal W asson

The Joyful Sadness of


rish music depresses me. Maybe it was the big Irish cop funerals growing up in Chicago: A half mile of bagpipes honking

“Danny Boy.” Maybe it’s Sinead O’Connor singing about cannonballs, swords, amputations, and raping lords as if these were everyday things. n Maybe it’s the current fate of Ireland. Severe, unyielding austerity measures from the European Union are crushing Ireland’s still vibrant economy. About $4 billion in mandatory cuts were added Monday. Housing prices have halved. Ireland’s sin? It’s Anglo Irish Bank failed under abysmal management. Now all the Irish must pay. Sound familiar? As sad as I find this music, for most it's a peppy, fun, "happy" music. That’s what keeps the Arkansas Celtic Music Society thriving. While the 11-year-old nonprofit sponsors concerts, classes and such, it is just playing--the Session--that matters. These amateurs, some highly skilled, some learning, have regular central Arkansas sessions. Some of the seisuns (sessions in Gaelic) are large with a dozen or more players: Rarely fewer than six. All ages and all backgrounds join in. If you go to one of the great Saturday night “pickings” in Arkansas—Saturday nights in the Square in Mountain View is the best known-you’ll hear Irish music. It can be wrapped in hymns or carried by a bluegrass ballad but it’s unquestionably there and has been since the great Irish potato famine of 1840. The Celtic Music Society carries on a solid part of our state’s musical heritage. The New Hibernia Irish Tavern, 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, is a remarkably perfect venue for a session. It touts allIrish ownership and the fit, courteous, 50-ish, Irish bartender could have come from central casting. Owners Gerry Lambert and Gerry Ward are veteran New York pub owners. 4 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

Irish Music

The pickers, squeezers, bangers, bowers and tooters come to play on weekends at New Hibernia. There’s a surprising intensity, more than you’d see with a comparable group of bluegrass or rock players. On a beginner’s level, the music is straightforward, repetitive and relatively easy. The group is friendly and supportive of amateurs. For the experienced musicians, the music can be challenging and there’s an almost classical seriousness at times. The twohour sessions are nearly non-stop and the audience loves it. Regular session listeners, Jim and Beverly, a couple in their 70s from Hot Springs Village, The players say it reminds them enjoy the of bluegrass and session Z yd e c o . To m e, at New zydeco is a happy Hibernian music played by Irish Tavern. grim people. Celtic music is grim music, played by happy folks. Many of the i n s t r u m e n t s a re antique and unusual. A top concertina can bring $5,000 and simple drums over $1,000. These folks

are serious. Even with the intensity, the musicians seem to be having a lot of fun. I’m not. It just keeps getting sadder and sadder. Even the jigs and reels are in minor keys. “Happy minors” they call it. I hear tragedies in comic wrappers.

Does chronic constipation worry you?

Celtic Music Society Schedule


he sessions of the Arkansas Celtic Music Society are open and anyone can attend to play traditional music or just listen.

Arkansas Gastroenterology is conducting a research study of an investigational medication for chronic constipation.

Hibernia Irish Tavern, first and third Sundays of every month, 2:305:00 PM, 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock. Something Brewing Coffeehouse, first and third Wednesdays of every month, 7:00-9:00 PM, 1156 Front St., Conway.

Khalil’s Pub & Grill, second and fourth Mondays of every month, 7:00-9:00 PM, 110 S. Shackleford, Little Rock. (Must be 21 or over.) The Last Chance Lakeside Café, last Saturday of every month, 7:009:00 PM, Hot Springs Village. There are also sessions in Altus, Fayetteville and Fort Smith. Go to or call 501-680-2530 for details.


At one time, fiddler Robin Lowe of Hot Springs Village, 67, was a rocker in an Australian bush band. “We started playing Celtic music and it just hooked me,” he says. Decades later and a half world away, Lowe sports a kilt while playing fiddle and is known for a vast Celtic repertoire. He says it’s his Scottish heritage that brings him to the music. He’s been with it for close to 40 years. Peg Roach-Loyd of Little Rock also says it’s in the blood. In her case this was amplified by Irish parents who took her to lots of Irish sing-alongs. Like many Americans raised in ethnic households she tried to ignore it. “But the music kept calling me and it wasn’t just to listen. I had to play,” she says. Her playing emerged in college when she started hanging out at an Irish pub. Already a musician, RoachLoyd says this lead to a long study of Irish music. She’s easily one of the top session players. About all the music is Irish. Celtic can cover everything east to Switzerland. Ireland’s music is as isolated as the island. It’s said that England’s music runs about a century behind Europe and Irish music a century behind that. Like all jam sessions, from string trios to drum circles, The Society is about invoking that magical trance only a musician knows. James Joyce regularly played this music. Maybe that’s why “Finnegan’s Wake” is ultimately so sad. Mr. Wasson is a retired, mostly, journalist.

Potential study candidates: • Are at least 18 years old • Have been diagnosed with chronic constipation • Have fewer than 3 bowel movements a week (without the help of laxatives) • Are willing to take study medication or a placebo

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decemBER 15, 2011


entertai ed itor i al nment

Countdown to Christmas By Paige Parham


ere’s our third week of great ways to celebrate the holiday season. Mature Arkansas has compiled a list

of to-dos to help you countdown each day in a festive way. December 15 Holiday movies for the week include some real classics: Dec. 15, on AMC, “White Christmas,” 4:15 PM; on ABC, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 7:00 PM; on AMC, “A Miracle on 34th Street,” 8:15 PM; on AMC, “Holiday Inn,” 10:30 PM. Dec. 16, on Hallmark Channel, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” 3:00 PM; on TCM, “The Shop Around the Corner,” 11:00 PM. Dec. 17, on Hallmark Channel, “The Gift of the Magi,” 9:00 AM; on ABC, “A Country Music Christmas,” 8:00 PM. Dec. 18, on HGTV, “Celebrity Holiday Homes 2011,” 7:00 PM; on TCM, “It Happened on 5th Avenue,” 7:00 PM Dec. 19, on AMC, “A Christmas Carol” (1984), 7:00 PM; on TCM, “Scrooge” (1970), 9:15 PM Dec. 20, on TCM, “Holiday Affair,” 10:00 PM. Dec. 21, on CBS, “A Home for the Holidays,” 8:00 PM; on ABC Family, “The Santa Clause,” 7:00 PM. December 16 n the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year ’s Day, Americans throw away more than 900,000 more metric tons of garbage than average. In addition, giftwrap can be expensive and is seldom reusable. Why not try some interesting green giftwrapping options this holiday season? Brown paper grocery sacks, when cut open and flattened, make an attractive, rustic wrapping. Other options include fabric remnants as wrapping, using string or cord instead of fancy bows, unshelled peanuts for cushioning delicate gifts (instead of bubble wrap) and adding small touches from your

“junk” drawer to give wrapped packages a little pizazz. You’ll be surprised how pulled together you can make your wrapped gifts look with absolutely no extra expense.

December 17 “Happy Holidays with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra,” Robinson Center Auditorium, 8:00 PM. This concert features traditional Christmas tunes and a few surprises sure to warm your heart. It’s perfect for the whole family. Call the box office at 501-6611761 or visit concerts/happy-holidays. December 18 A Christmas Concert, 2:00 PM, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, 503 E. 9th St, Little Rock, sponsored by the General Churchill Chapter of the United


A Kind Note jar is a lasting gift.

6 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

Daughters of the Confederacy, will feature Margaret Wyatt Piano and Vocal Studio. It is free and open to the public. For more information, call 501-375-5197. December 19 Does your Christmas music collection need an upgrade? Josh Groban’s 2007 release “Noel” features the talented superstar crooning classics, original songs and a chilling version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” featuring the Mormon Tabernacle choir. “Noel” is available wherever you buy CDs or via digital download on December 20 The Salvation Army and JC Penney have teamed up this year to put the Angel Tree program online. You can search your city and state to select a child based on age and gender. Donors are matched with needy children to provide them a joyful Christmas. You can also form a group to purchase gifts for multiple angels at one time. To get started, visit angel., and you can find angels on the trees at JC Penney Stores. December 21 A really sweet gift idea--virtually free and simple to put together—is called a Kind Note jar. All you’ll need is your memories and a pen. Simply write happy recollections that involve the recipient, inspirational quotes, or funny stories on pieces of paper and fold them neatly. Place any number of notes into a decorative jar, attach a ribbon and you have a unique gift. The recipient can take a note any time they’re in need of a quick pick-me-up or a smile. Traditionally, 52 notes are placed in one jar so your loved one can have a note each week.


Through Dec. 17 – “Judgment at Nuremberg” at The Weekend Theater, 7th and Chester Streets, Little Rock; 7:30 PM Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $16, $12 for 65+ and students. Call 501-3743761 for tickets.

Excellence Within Reach! Our mission is to provide a quality, affordable living experience to the elderly in a faith-based community committed to the dignity of our residents. Good Shepherd sits on a 145-acre campus located off Aldersgate Road in the heart of West Little Rock and provides convenient access to West Little Rock’s medical, financial and retail business districts. Over four hundred elderly residents live in four apartment buildings surrounded by tree-covered landscape that includes an 8-acre lake. • Affordable housing with no sacrifice to service • Four living facilities - the Moore, the Rhinehart and Shepherd’s Cove, which caters to independent living, and the Roberts Building, a Residential Care Facility • 24-hour Security and/or Staff on duty • On-site exercise facilities • On-site beauty salons • Personal emergency alert pendant systems • Three full-service dining rooms offering home-cooked meals • Transportation with fully equipped wheelchair lift vans • An award-winning wellness program • A family atmosphere in a faith-based community

Through Dec. 31 – “Not Now, Darling” at Murray’s Dinner Playhouse, 6323 Col. Glenn Rd., Little Rock. Tickets are $31-$33 and includes dinner. Dinner begins at 6:00 PM; the show starts at 7:45 PM. Call 501-562-3131 for reservations. Through Dec. 25 – “A Christmas Carol, The Musical” at The Arkansas Repertory Theatre—“The Rep”--, 601 Main Street, Little Rock. Show times are 7:00 PM with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased at Dec. 15 – The Afterthought, 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, presents Wine Tasting with Bruce Cochran, 5:30 PM. Cost is $10 per person, call 501-663-1196 for more information. Dec. 16 – Artist Patricia Collins talks about her piece, “My Sharona” at The Fine Arts Center of Hot Springs, 626 Central Ave., 6:30-8:30 PM. Admission is free. Dec 16, 17, 18 – Arkansas Symphony Orchestra/Acxiom Pops Live! “Happy Holidays” at Robinson Center Music Hall, Markham and Broadway Streets, Little Rock; Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $20-$65, call 501-666-1761 for tickets or more information. Dec. 17 – Holly Trolley Day, 8:30 AM – midnight. The Trolley will offer free rides in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. Special promotions will take place at many area businesses between the hours of 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. To receive the discounts at participating locations, you must ride the trolley and present your Trolley Promotional Card at the time of purchase. For more information, call Summer Toyne at 501-758-1424. Dec. 19 – Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert, The Woodlands Auditorium at Hot Springs Village, 7:30 PM, sponsored by the Hot Springs/ Hot Springs Village Symphony Guild. Tickets are $25 with reserved seating. Dec. 19 – UAMS Gift Shop Countdown to Christmas sale – 20% off on Monday, 30% off on Tuesday, 40% on Wednesday, 40% on Thursday and all Christmas items will be 50% off on Friday, Dec. 23. The gift shop is located on the ground floor of UAMS’ Ward Tower near the patient discharge area. Parking is available in Parking 1. Call 501-686-5519 for more information. Dec. 21 – Broadcast of “Two Jewish Guys Chanukah Special-A Little Rock Christmas Tradition” on KUAR-FM 89, 7:00 PM. Dec. 21 – Lunchtime book group at Fletcher Library, 823 N. Buchanan Street. This group meets the third Wednesday of every month at 11:30 AM. Bring your lunch, drinks are provided. December’s book is Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks.

Call Today For More Information! 501-224-7200

Share the Road

For Cyclists Share the road Tips for SAFE cycling on the road.

• Bicycles are vehicles on the road, just like cars and motorcycles. Cyclists must obey all traffic laws. Arkansas Uniform Vehicle Code #27-49-111 • Cyclists must signal, ride on the right side of the road and yield to traffic normally. Bicycles are vehicles on the road, Code #27-51-301/403 just like must cars have andamotorcycles. • Bicycles white headlight and a red tail light visible fromall 500traffic feet and have a Cyclist should obey laws. bell or warning device for pedestrians. Arkansas Uniform Vehicle Code #27Code #27-36-220 49-111 • Make eye contact with motorists. Be visible. Be predictable. Head up, think ahead. Cyclists should signal, ride on the • On the Big Dam Bridge... go slow. right side Represent! of the road, and yield to traffic other • As younormally pass, say “Onlike yourany left... thankroad you.” • On the River vehicle. CodeTrail... #27-51-301/403 use a safe speed, don’t Share the Road intimidate or scare others. Watch for dogs Give 3 feet ofCyclists clear space when and For leashes.

Tips for PREVENTING injury or death.

For to moreacycling information... Tips for(up SAFE the road. passing $1000on fine!) Bicycle Advocacyonofthe Arkansas • Bicycles are vehicles road, just like Code #27-51-311

cars andLeague motorcycles. Cyclists must obey of American Bicyclists trafficby laws. Uniform Code Cyclist lawArkansas can not rideVehicle on the #27-49-111 sidewalk in some areas, some bikes • Cyclists must signal, ride on the right side can roads of theonly roadhandle and yieldsmooth to traffic normally. Code cracks, #27-51-301/403 (no potholes, trolley tracks). • Bicycles must have a white headlight and a LR Ord.#32-494

red tail light visible from 500 feet and have a

bell or warning devicewith for pedestrians. Make eye contact cyclists. Code #27-36-220

Drive • Makepredictably. eye contact with motorists. Be vis-

ible. Be predictable. Head up, think ahead.

Please ghost bikes. • On the prevent Big Dam Bridge... go slow. Represent!

• As you pass, say “On your left... thank you.” For more information: • On the River Trail... use a safe speed, don’t Bicycle Arkansas intimidate orAdvocacy scare others.ofWatch for dogs and For more information...

League American Bicyclists BicycleofAdvocacy of Arkansas League of American Bicyclists education


decemBER 15, 2011


his story involves an opera singing neurologist, a muleskinner with an English degree, a whorehouse, Allan Ginsberg, an Italian painter and a ghost. Hey, this is Hot Springs. These things happen. It’s about the “world’s oldest continuous Wednesday open-mic poetry reading.” Why this is in a former second floor “cat house,” across from the Lamar on Hot Springs’ Bathhouse Row instead of New York or San Francisco is the result of a disparate crew, with wild ideas, fueled by a love of language. The crew that took The Poets Loft from dream stage to reality in 1989 to one of the country’s most respected poetry venues, reunited this week to try and give it some new fire--The Muleskinner and the Doc are back in town.

it was the Italian’s idea. “I was running a mule trolley down Central Avenue and got to know Benini from seeing him on the street,” Kenny says. Benini was a dynamo of an Italian artist who landed in Hot Springs for awhile and was the sparkplug for the town’s arts renaissance in the 1980s. “He took me to lunch where he laid out his vision for Hot Springs. He saw galleries, a regular gallery walk, a documentary film festival, a music festival and a live poetry venue,” Kenny explains. “He knew I was a poet. The next day I get a call from a restaurant owner who was ready to go with a poetry slam. Benini made

The Poets Loft’s walls are lined with photos of really important late 20th Century writers that have worked the room. The original alliance of Bud Kenny, 63, and Dr. Paul Tucker, 77, brought Allan Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and dozens more poets to this intimate little venue with near perfect acoustics. Its Arkansas Slam in November generally draws 50 of the country’s top poets. Kenny and Tucker made it go but

things happen. The first night we had 200 folks,” he says. The ideas generated at that Benini lunch are still the foundations of today’s Hot Springs art scene. There have been highs and lows but all are up, running and successful. The Loft came into being when Tucker, a published poet himself, threw in on the then floating poetry reading. He owns Historic District buildings and practices

8 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

neurology behind one of them on Summit Street. He likes the readings, likes to read and has the space. For the past 22 years he’s provided The Loft its space and utilities. Tucker has bought himself the neatest poetry venue in the South. “Sure it’s cost me a lot of money. It’s cost others money too. But oh, the poetry this place has generated and the writers it has brought together,” he wistfully pines. This night he reads from his new book of 100 poems, most written recently. He then uses his clear--unbelievably clear given his age--tenor to sing a complex arrangement of Dark Eyes in Russian, then a folksong in its native Korean, followed by English verses he wrote. At other times he sings his newly penned choral arrangements with three sopranos. Dr. Tucker has an active mind. Wednesday is open-microphone night, the soul of the Loft and it can be incredible. Anyone can read. No one is pressured to. The format’s easy. You get one, threeminute reading in the first round; two, sixminute readings in the second. You’re lit in a darkened room. A microphone and lectern are there if you want them. Some of the readings are heavily dramatic and others a straightforward recitation. The

material must be original. You can sing and use a guitar or whatever. Singer-songwriters use Wednesdays to work on new material. Use whatever name you like. A local favorite is the “Geriatric Rapper” and he’s not bad either. Half or more of the crowd will be on that stage themselves. They know what you’re going through and they’re on your side. This isn’t an English class. It’s people using beats and sounds to probe, to laugh, to escape and, for a few magical moments, form an incredibly close sense of community. You’ll look inside people as they try to find themselves. It’s generally an older crowd with a heavy mix of late teens and early 20s. A few of the world’s leading poets have raved about this room and its near perfect venue: Ringed seating, high ceilings, hand drums all around that can be used in an act, flexible lights and sound, coffee and espresso bar, snacks, poetry books for sale in back and, a few times a year when the weather’s right, outside in one of the town’s best courtyards. Some, but not much, of the poetry is just bad. The worst comes from possibly adequate writers trying to be great poets. The worst of those rescue arcane parameters and jam them with stilted language they don’t understand. Next comes those who write of Gods, love, glory and such, of which nothing meaningful can be said. You’ll laugh a lot too. The poems and impromptu routines can be killer funny. These are creative people working loosely and freely in front of a friendly, understanding audience. It can get wild. Some of the Loft’s classic routines are legendary and are regularly reincarnated. The big moments come when the writer grabs something he really knows and lets it drag him into that emotional maelstrom where all decent poetry is born. You’ll see fat girls unscrewing their heads loosing green springy snakes of doubt, remorse, rejection and despair. You’re feeling what it’s like not to fit in anywhere. For that moment you’re inside a suicidal teen and its terrifying. The poem ends. The snakes jump back inside her head and folks cheer not because this is a great poem but because this is real poetry. The words may have been clumsy but the soul is far more important than the gloss. Along with Tucker, some of the writers over age 70 deliver the best material. Some

Bud Kenny is still a muleskinner. His “day” job is ferrying tourists around Hot Springs in his mule-drawn carriage. Ask him about the Russian pencils when you pass The Loft—it will make your trip.


decemBER 15, 2011


Paul Tucker, MD, (left) is The Poet’s Loft benefactor and, most importantly, working poet. Bud Kenny (right) delivers his poetry.

is trivial: “I remember when...” niceties. Some is from people face-to-face with death desperately trying to find meaning beyond the cliché. This isn’t like listening to your dying mother. She never told you things like this, what it is really like. She was trying to keep you cheerful. The truth she spared you is much darker. The most powerful reading I’ve ever heard anywhere came at the Loft. A 18-ish black student in clear, clean prose, with a steady monochrome delivery, told of finding his mother dead of an overdose a few months

night sessions in 2001 with his wife Pat and Della the mule pulling a cart. They were off to see the world. Bud financed this by giving free poetry readings in small towns and selling copies of his poems, that he printed with a solar-powered computer rig. While this wouldn’t win a business plan contest, it gave the Kennys nearly eight years as working, creative poets. Take away the jingle writers and sloganeers and there’s just a handful that can make it as a working poet. The trip wasn’t that big a deal for Kenny.

before, the spike was still in her arm. The three or so minutes of this reading have never left me. Things like this happen at The Loft. While the Loft isn’t in trouble and never was, Kenny wants to bring it back to its glory days and beyond. In this age of unlimited communications potential it could be way beyond. This is a truly unique place. Kenny left Hot Springs and the Wednesday

The Ohio native got to Hot Springs on horseback on another poetry-fueled trip. He has a degree in English but before that he’s a poet. He wants to see participation. “I would tell someone if they want to test the waters, come up and bring a poem or song of yours,” Kenny says. “Maybe you won’t read that night but you’ll learn this is a give and take situation. You give of yourself and it comes

10 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

right back to you,” he adds. Pam Rawls runs the Loft itself. She books a few dozen music acts a year and it’s a good singer--songwriter venue. The coffee bar and its short menu is open for lunch and sees hiplooking teens in the afternoon. There’s no liquor. Rawls tried it one year and didn’t like it. Changed the place, brought in the wrong folks and didn’t make enough to warrant the hassle. You see brown bags and such but I don’t drink so I don’t ask. Before his last great mule adventure, Kenny used to give beer and wine away. There was a jar nearby that recipients were urged to use for “tips.” This somehow got around regulations of the day and went on for years. Kenny says former Arkansas Attorney General Winston Bryant used to get wine this way. One day Bryant said, “Bud, you’d make a lot more money if you just got a license and sold the stuff.” Kenny just grinned and said, “Yeah, but I’m having too much fun this way.” Poets are like that. The ghost: The Loft is featured on the Haunted Hot Springs tour. I doubt there’s anything. The spirits and magic you’ll hear raised in this room on a good Wednesday night will turn a haint. Poets are like that.

healt h

Recognize Holiday Depression D

uring the holidays, older adults can be more sensitive to the passing of time; the absence of parents, siblings and friends who have died; and the distance of loved ones who have moved away. Traditional reunions and rituals that were observed in the past may not be possible, and older people may become depressed. “It is normal to feel subdued, reflective and sad in the face of these losses and changes,” says CareLink Outreach Manager Debbie Gillespie. “But family members or friends may notice that a senior is experiencing the ‘blues’ for a long time. What they thought was simple sadness is actually a serious case of depression.” Family caregivers can take steps to prevent or lessen depression. Gillespie recommends the following tips from the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging: • Invite seniors out and to gatherings. Remember to take into account their needs, such as transportation or special diets. • Lend a hand by offering to help with shopping and preparations for get-togethers in their homes. • Limit alcohol intake because it can actually increase depression. • Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Acknowledge their sadness, including a sense

of loss if family or friends have died or moved away. • Suggest your loved one talk with a healthcare provider and help them make an appointment or offer to go with them. A person who is sad or anxious around the holidays, can, in most cases, continue to carry on with regular activities. Such feelings are generally temporary and the individual eventually returns to his or her normal mood. However, clinical depression causes symptoms that interfere with the ability to function in everyday life. The older person may stay in bed or not bother getting dressed in the morning. Appetite and sleep may suffer. They may show little interest in their own welfare and little interest in doing things that used to bring pleasure. If left undiagnosed and untreated it can last months or even years. Depression can lead to a loss of independence, aggravate symptoms of other illnesses, lead to premature death or even result in suicide.

A person

suffering from depression

cannot just “get over it.” Depression

It is often difficult for a depressed older person to describe how he or she is feeling. Older Americans came of age at a time when depression was not understood as a biological illness. They may fear their illness will be seen as a character weakness. A person suffering from depression cannot just “get over it.” Depression is a medical illness that should be diagnosed and treated by trained professionals. When properly diagnosed and treated, most people recover from depression Older people and their caregivers can get more information and assistance by calling CareLink at 501-372-5300, toll free 800-482-6359 or by visiting

is a medical illness that

should treated by trained


MEDI CAR E MAT T ERS By Sally Johnson


Lower Prescription Drug Costs

couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Part D coverage cap, also known as the “doughnut hole.” The term refers to a period in most Part D plans where beneficiaries get no coverage for prescription drug costs, and instead have to pay everything out of their own pocket. The Affordable Care Act is gradually closing this coverage gap. By 2020, beneficiaries will only have to pay 25% of the cost of brand-name and generic prescription drugs when they reach the coverage gap. Until then, there are several things you can do to pay less for medications while you’re in

the doughnut hole: 1. If you’re using a brand-name medication, ask your doctor if there is a generic or lower-cost brand-name drug that would work just as well. 2. Consider using mail-order pharmacies, which can have lower prices. 3. Some drug companies have assistance programs to help Medicare beneficiaries pay for the medications they produce. Check pharmaceutical-assistance-program/Index.aspx to see if the companies that make your medications offer help. 4. Apply for “Extra Help,” if you have a limited

income and limited resources. Extra Help is a program from Medicare and Social Security that helps pay for prescription drugs. Apply with Social Security by visiting www.socialsecurity. gov or call toll free 800-772-1213. 5. Some national and local charitable groups, such as the National Patient Advocate Foundation and the National Organization for Rare Disorders, may be able to help. Go to Sally Johnson is Benefit/Relations Director with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. MATURE ARKANSAS

decemBER 15, 2011


Restaurant g u ide n By bob wood

A Brotherhood of Beans I

began to suspect something when my lunch companion said our destination would be a “surprise,” and that we needed to get “there before they run out.” What and where were they running? And, why? We parked on a side street off Broadway in North Little Rock, walked around the corner and were welcomed by two locked metal doors with stick-on letters saying “MEMBERS ONLY.” And then, underneath, the vice-principal’s favorite admonition: “WATCH YOUR STEP.” We had arrived at The Brotherhood of Paternal Order of Elks (BPOE) Lodge #1004 for their weekly (Thursdays only) beans, cornbread and soup lunches open to the public. After pressing a buzzer, waiting a bit and wondering if we had the day wrong, the door swung open and we were inside. Go up some stairs (Disabled access is around the side near where we parked), veer left past the large ballroom into a sunny room adjacent to the kitchen set up for the weekly lunches. The lunch room looks as though it hasn’t changed appreciably since the 1960s — the peak of the lodge’s popularity, one member later told me. Along one wall, some Sam’s Club

folding tables held Styrofoam bowls, plastic utensils, napkins, trays, a large tureen of soup (vegetable beef the day we were there), and three crockpots filled with “brown” beans (Pinto), “white” beans (Great Northern) labeled “hot,” and white beans labeled “regular.” Then two warming boxes with cornbread muffins inside--once again labeled “hot” and “regular.” The Elks creed, evidently, places high value on consistency. This is an “all you can eat” sort of thing and I’m glad of it. The vegetable beef soup was delicious, with a little spice heat and delicious broth. As I write “delicious broth,” I fully The Elks Lodge, 123 East Broadway, North Little Rock. realize those aren’t words that the Elks are likely to use to describe their soup. This is basic, hearty, feel-good food, served But, you know, I’m not a member. in about as unpretentious an atmosphere as The first bowl was good and the second you can imagine. As I waited to refill my bowls, even better. And, so were the beans. I ate both I talked with two gentlemen who may not have the brown and “hot” white beans with “hot” moved from their seats since the 1960s. I asked cornbread and a wedge of onion, and became if the cornbread was sweet (I don’t like that; my happy and contented very quickly. companion does), and one of the men groaned and said, “We once had a fella who put sugar in the cornbread, but we ran his ass off.” Get the idea? Six bucks for all the beans, soup and not-sweet cornbread you can eat. Healthy, filling, not-fried food served in a distinctly slow-food-movement style. I liked it. Maybe you would, too. But, remember: Thursdays only from about 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, I think. Just wish the Elks wore hats with little antlers on them. Then it would be perfect.

This is an “all you can eat” sort of thing and I’m glad of it. 12 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

Mr. Wood, a writer and designer in Little Rock, is often hungry.

Restaurant g u ide n By E r i ca Sweene y

Home Cookin' Fast and Easy V

ictoria Gross, owner of Spinning Plates in Hillcrest, provides made-from-scratch to-go dinners “cooked with love” to people of all ages. Her clients include retired individuals not wanting to cook for one or two and others busy with work and family. Gross’s dinners are an affordable $8 each for a generous portion. Monday through Thursday, there is a different menu each night and can range from chicken parmesan to meatloaf to shrimp and grits. A weekly soup (14 ounces) with bread is also available for $5. Each night’s meal often offers a choice of meats and a vegetarian option. Gluten-free or low-carb options are also available. Gross takes special dinner requests and will even tailor the dinner to an individual’s food allergies or dietary issues. “It allows you to have different tastes every night and be budget conscious,”she says, adding that a fast food combo meal can cost $8 or more and is not as nutritious as her meals. Gross says she uses high-quality ingredients and items from the farmer’s market. “I cook what I want to eat,” says Gross, who enjoys experimenting with different recipes. “It’s my way of showing creativity.” Her most popular menu item is lasagna, available with a roasted garlic cream sauce or with a red sauce. To alleviate some holiday-related stress, Gross is offering a Holiday Feast for $175. It will feed 12 and includes turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, choice of green beans, cranberry sauce and rolls. Additional sides and

appetizers are available and all items may be ordered individually. The deadline for ordering the Holiday Feast is Dec. 21. Ordering Gross’ meals is easy. Every Sunday she sends out an email listing the week’s menu, also available on her Facebook page or website Meals can be ordered by calling or texting Gross at 912-4420 or emailing at by noon. Dinners are available for pick up between 4:30 and 6:00 PM at the Shoppes on Woodlawn at the corner of Woodlawn and Beechwood in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood. A self-taught cook, Gross began cooking when her grandparents gave her and her sister a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. She was a caterer for 10 years and, for three years, hosted a cable-access cooking show broadcast from the River Market.

“I cook what I want to eat.” It allows you to have different tastes every night and

be budget conscious—” Victoria Gross

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain E

xperts tell us that holiday weight gain is not as many pounds as we think and most of it is due to lack of exercise. The average weight gain from mid-November to January 1 is about one pound. However, the more overweight the person, the more they gained over the holidays. Obese people gained excessive amounts during the holidays,

according to a National Institutes of Health study. Researchers say it is the decrease in physical activity that causes most holiday weight gain. Beware of confusing being “busy” with being “active” during the holidays. Researchers said weight stayed the same or even decreased for those survey subjects reporting an increased activity level during the holidays.


decemBER 15, 2011


Evicting geese

they’reyOccupy Wall Street junebugs, Th e Ag e of T echnology n B y K ell F erguson

as flophouse mascots soon to star in their batoning them senseless and bejugging own reality-TV show. Thoroughbred them with pepper spray, whomping with horses find semi-celebrity seasonal employ particular animus the oldest old-timers of at Oaklawn Park, and it pays well even if t’s hard to reason with geese, and just Some of them the bunch and the disabled combat vets it does entail occasional brisk cropping by like it wherever — after which the whole lot of them will little bitty clown-dressed men. We have about impossible to get them to take a be lined up before a firing squat and shot. hint. You try to make them feel unwelthey happen to be about a hundred Arkansas seeing-eye dogs come, and either they will or they won’t, so well that they’ve A select group of fearless “hunters” will working long shifts for subsistence wages, quit migrating or depending on looking the dim algorithms that smaller do thoseof honors. donkeys who’ll play exhibition basketre you for something than —Apple even makes a version its famous Several of and them, Our little gypsy goose troupe won’t be animate geese. forgot their obligaball or lend calm background authenticity a desktop computer, even smaller than a MacBook in the MacBook including the Kindle BOBon a smaller scale You can’t tell them to go do unto themtion to do it, now saved from this ad hoc trigger-happy nimto manger scenes. We have maybe a milLANCASTER laptop? It might be time to look at “tablets” or Air. Prices range from $100 to $1,000. Fire, Barnes &lion Noble selves what Veep Dick told Sen. Leahy to that the glaciers are roddery unless we somehow get it through cats who’ll demouse your premises if “notebooks.” A notebook going to work like a laptop and theyou’ll Apple go and do unto himself — it will roll right in full yearlong retreat. They justishang their mostly empty skulls thatNook the naked act like you don’t want them to. And Here arebecause the facts: but may haveupfewer than tablet. iPad2 also double off their backs it is characteristic apes who runathings nowIdo things differwhere it suits them, dookeying their features at leastas that many pea-brain turkeys who of their genus thatis they simply won’t be whereabouts aswould only geese can, not evena tablet ent,if in you waysare that facilitate but not know that if a Mark Darr can nab himA “tablet,” a general-purpose computer recommend lookingapeness “e-readers.” Books insulted. Theyin hear comments wondering about mightportable, happen secondary necessarily gooseness. self a good job with ritzy benefits and no contained a disparaging single panel. Its distinguishing at awhat small, computer. can be downloaded by other species as appreciative of them, next. There’s even something endearing, For instance, they have strict rules responsibilities, then it shouldn’t be too characteristic is that you use a touch screen to Notebooks do operate like mini laptops, to your tablet at the even flattering, and are likely to go into a against trespass that supplant the ageor almost endearing but not quite, in their much of a challenge for a goose. control it. Modern tablets are operated with complete with USB ports in most cases and touch of the screen. preen. They think the world sees perfecAfter some mulling I’ve come up with insouciance. old notion of free range; you can only loiter your fingers; tablets required a stylus. that’s a plus. makes itone super possibility for our geese. tion in them as theearlier duck-stamp painters do. You’ll perceive thatalways I’m making here where the anthropoids say youThis can. And In simply 2000, beyond Microsoft its first Windows Tablets have no external tojustify save your files,presence easypractito check books It’s theirintroduced capacity to think an ontological appeal for a local resident you way have to Draft them to fly as an honor guard for tablet. 2010, Apple’s iPadacreated agaggle. revoluto sync with a computer or cloudbyservice out of the Tablets fit easily into in as a That’s a except fact. A knot of them have that a cityIn councilman talking about “nuically anywhere showing your papers — library. the Little Rock Airport Commission sance mightAndroid be talkingcame about them. portion Burns Park you have visiblepurse meansor of totethose tion species” in tablets. close onhomesteaded its heels a small (we’ll talkofabout this in apapers futureproving column). bag. worthies leave for or return from Whether thisfrom self-deceit is the result North Little Syndication Rock, puttingSales downbe roots — whenever they’re demanded of tablets one can of their regularly scheduled luncheon The NewinYork Times Corporation with models several vendors. Tablets can great support fun, utilizing appliSome run on 3G/4G bandwidth, Seventh Avenue, New York, N.Y.that 10018 you. In short, lacking a sinecure, an inheriof a conscious decision by some wise500 there under some anserine statute meetings on the Rue de Haut Porc in Paris, A “notebook,” is generally a laptop, but cations (apps) for services from everything which is available in most areas. WiFi versions For Information Call: 1-800-972-3550 old goose of the past, a goose Confucius no human has ever seen or could make tance, or a high-dollar lottery ticket that’s a France. For Release Thursday, December 15,2011 2011 to more recently it means muchBut smaller version. weather forecasts videos and you music. can that offers Forheads Release Friday, 09, betsanyplace are off, of course, if Newtthe Ginor goose Solomon, we don’ta know. nor tails offrom if itDecember were made manifest. certified winner, have to get andbe holdused forAllfree service, like coffee bars and there’s nothing in the ordinary goose weltEven if there were a way for us to a job. Even if you’re a goose. grich manages to slither into restauLa Casa hotels and many anschauung, such as it is, to suggest as understand their lazy hazy crazy terriJobs are scarce these days. Nabbing rants, Blancaairports, after next year. Then all the jobs much. They simply seem to have found torial claim, this flock of Canada geese a fulfilling one, one that you like, is just other will public be filledplaces. by 10-year-old humanthat chilThis means their Happy Place in the rather large zone would have no standing in our courts, and about out of the question. Just a gainful dren, whether the 10-year-old children No. 1110 Edited by Will Shortz 1104 if you buy a tablet, you do not HAVE one — i.e., a crappy one — is a long shot. towant beneath contempt, and see no reason to would find no jurisprudential sympathy fill themservice or not. Call buy to Internet forthem it. Beapprensure venture upAcross out of it into the meaner realm or pity. And unless someone comes forProspects are especially daunting for nontices and they don’t have to be paid. Give 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 4 “Gone Dome light? 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 51 bad 54 With the 28 “In Metaphorical to ask the retailer how the device company,” per Wind” actor 1 despair Snowmen and crowd 5 Onewith may them a whupping if they ask for seconds where andpad, self-consciousness and ward abeplan to14humanely relocate human job seekers.16But not insuperable. 1 Leave the 15 Ambrose Bierce 15 16 Howard snowwomen? will the Internet. smooth sayturtles lurk. 29 Dodges, as an onaccess the gruel. snapping the flock, the Polizei will be on them like The Peabody ducks found steady work 55 1994 sci-fi film 53 Boxcar 6 Analogy words

A notebook is going to work like a laptop but may have fewer features than a tablet.

Choosing a Tablet or Notebook?



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Tim Croce Puzzle by Patrick Berry

41 La “___ 31 Jolla’s ___ Declassified Institute for School Survival Biological Guide” Studies 44 City on in Hugh 32 Doctor Commencement Lofting tales Bay 33 Lovestruck 45 Assassin 46 Doctrine Comes calling 34 unexpectedly associated with 48 Betty Experienced Friedanwith

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58 Curb Hawaiian 48 handouts 49 Close with a bang 59 Where Al 51 2001 album Yankovic bought featuring a “Dukes “Love of Don’t Cost a Hazzard” Thing” ashtray, in song 53 ___ Redman, 62 hero “The of way” Stephen King’s “The 63 Depot: Stand” Abbr.

For answers, call 1-900-285-5656, $1.49 a minute; or, with a credit card, 1-800-814-5554. Annual subscriptions are available for the best of Sunday crosswords from the last 50 years: 1-888-7-ACROSS. AT&T users: Text NYTX to 386 to download puzzles, or visit for more information. Online subscriptions: Today’s puzzle and more than 2,000 past puzzles, ($39.95 a year). Share tips: Crosswords for young solvers:

Some tablets do more than others. For instance, the iPads, Motorola XOOM Android and Blackberry Playbook tablets are capable of running complete office programs, photo editing and video chats. Tablets range from $100 to $600; ranging in size from 7 to 10 inches in screen width. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions of the retailer. Most tablets and notebooks do not have storage capacities on their own that are sufficient to operate a household or business. They are simply good tools to have in addition to your desktop computer. Apple products can be the exception, so do all the research you can before purchase. Little Rock has an Apple Store at The Promenade on Chenal Parkway where you can look at any Apple product. Any electronics retailer will carry most of the Android and PC options. Ms. Ferguson manages social media for the Arkansas Times and Affiliates and cannot hide from her email. Send her your questions at



to our friends and good neighbors. Visit with us over the holidays. Enjoy FREE COFFEE on New Year’s Eve.

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Sat. Dec. 10 • Jess Odom Community Center, Maumelle • 9am Benefitting Maumelle Parks and Rec and Maumelle Lions Club P H O T O G R A P H Y



e found this little guy wandering along Cantrell near the Episcopal School without a collar, and limping a little. He is about 2-3 years old.  He is a Jack Russell terrier or mix, and needs a fenced yard.  Someone willing to work with him, and make him understand that humans are friendly, would have a wonderful dog.   

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CALL CHALLIS 375-2985 MATURE ARKANSAS December 7, 2011 47

decemBER 15, 2011


16 decemBER 15, 2011 MATURE ARKANSAS

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