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Get High in the Sky at Pinnacle Mountain State Park Today

Explore the comparative size of the solar system during a hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

Find out what can be seen in tonight's sky at Amazing Astronomy from 2-2:30 p.m. today (June 26) at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road, Little Rock.

Discover amazing software that lets you see the night sky at any time and location, then learn about constellations, stars, planets, and more that will be visible when the sun goes down.

Wait, there's more: Learn how to read a star chart and get one to use at home. No experience necessary; perfect for kids and beginners. 

Then head out on a one-mile hike to discover the size of our solar system (hint: the earth is the size of a peppercorn) with park interpreter Susan. Although the hike does not require climbing, you might want to wear sneakers or hiking boots. Bring water and insect repellent.

Admission is free. For more information call (501) 868-5806.

Last Chance to See The Impressionists and Their Influence at Arkansas Arts Center

Autumn on the Seine, Argenteuil (1873), oil on canvas by Claude Monet


You've got until 5 p.m. Sunday (June 26) to view The Impressionists and Their Influence at the Arkansas Arts Center -- one of the AAC's most appealing shows ever -- before it closes.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children ages 6-17.

Organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Arkansas Arts Center, the exhibit displays more than 100 works by the Impressionists, a group of off-the-grid artists working in late 19th-century Paris at capturing the world around them in new ways.

You'll see master paintings and intimate works on paper by French artists such as Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro, as well as works by major Post-Impressionist artists Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Paul Signac and more.

In addition, the show features works by Americans including Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam and Theodore Robinson.

Admission to this special show is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children ages 6-17. Hours are  10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to other galleries at the AAC, Ninth and Commerce streets, Little Rock, is free.

IABC Summer Camp Hosts Marketing, Communications Presenters

Communications professionals filed into the Engineering and Information Technology Building at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Friday (June 24) for the third annual International Association of Business Communicators’ Summer Camp”seminar. 

John Foley, founder of online marketing firm Grow Socially, Inc., discussed the state of today’s marketing techniques in the face of new technologies. He emphasized the importance of being familiar with available marketing channels -- the Internet, smartphones, direct mailing and more -- and the necessity of having a plan no matter what the medium. “The biggest failures are because people are doing it without a plan,” he said.

Other points included the need for measuring outcomes, listening to customers and delivering relevant messages. Foley cautioned against ignoring traditional media when branching out on the Internet since some customers aren’t reachable there.

Jeff Weidauer, vice president of marketing for marketing company Vestcom, talked about marketing opportunities made possible by a new wave of technology such as smartphones and QR codes, barcode-like images with embedded data like URLs.

With these advancements, customers can scan codes located on store shelf labels to visit a web page about the product, compare multiple products or access special web content. While Weidauer emphasized the usefulness of the technology, he cautioned against its overuse. “The code is a means to an end,” he said. Another thing to remember: Optimizing web content for mobile phones. “You need a marketing strategy that includes mobile.”

Finally, Marla Johnson Norris, CEO of Little Rock-based marketing firm Aristotle, spoke about the explosive growth of new devices such as smartphones, tablets and e-readers and how marketers can reach the people using them.

Among her tips: Integrating search, mobile and social, and having a strategy when marketing with this wide range of new tech. “If you aren’t strategic, you can waste a lot of money,” she said. While many companies want to create mobile apps, Norris emphasized first understanding the mobile app market and how businesses can leverage existing mobile apps and services.

Movie Review: The Tree of Life

Brad Pitt plays a father who has a complicated relationship with his sons in The Tree of Life. 

The Tree of Life, written and directed by fabled Terrence Malick, has two components: An enigmatic and bittersweet recollection by a boy named Jack of growing up with his two brothers in mid-1950s Waco, Texas under the stern hand of an increasingly domineering father, and a purely visual experience based on creation and evolution. 

The first of these two is expressively engineered from a child's-eye view, with stiff-jawed, buzz-cut Brad Pitt portraying a loving, affectionate dad to three scrappy boys and protective husband to his gentle, free-spirited wife (Jessica Chastain), then gradually transforming into a grim-faced dictator through a misguided sense of wanting his sons to grow up tough. "You can't say 'I can't,'" he instructs them, then makes sure they don't. 

There's lots of cheerful roughhousing, happy neighborhood dogs, and romps through wildflowers before the hammer comes down. That's when stunning scenes of nature accompanied by whispered voice-overs pleading for enlightenment, presumably from God and others not of this earth, gain momentum. Example: "Why should I do good when you don't?"

Then there's the beginning-of-life sequence, which many critics assert is intricately bound to the human story. Maybe so, but don't beat yourself up trying to figure out how. I found it to be all about emotions -- mine. And yours. No two people will interpret these strangely beautiful and sometimes unsettling images, illuminated by a soaring classical music score, in the same way -- except for the dinosaurs, which really don't fit in very well with the elegant power that surrounds them.

With a running time of 138 minutes, beauty and philosophy might not be enough to keep a bit of boredom from setting in. So don't feel bad if, every now and then, you consider wandering over the next theater to catch Cars 2 in 3D.  I sure did.

The Tree of Life is rated PG-13 for thematic material. Find it at Rave Colonel Glenn 18. For showtimes click here. 

Just Engaged: Betsy Torti & Nate Tilley of Little Rock

Gallery by Amanda Moore with Sarah Bussey Photography

Betsy Torti and Nate Tilley are getting married! Betsy, our senior account executive for Arkansas Bride, is just the sweetest! We are so happy for her and Nate.

Their wedding it not too far away - scheduled for Aug. 11, 2011 on the beautiful beach in Destin, Fl. We've previewed her invites and the cake designs, so we know it's going to be an amazing wedding. We'll want to see all the pictures, of course!

Their engagements were shot by Sarah Bussey Photography of Little Rock. You can see more from their engagement session here.

Best wishes to the beautiful bride! And congratulations to Nate for finding her!


Breakfast with the Primates at Little Rock Zoo Saturday

Come to the Little Rock Zoo for breakfast and information about primates at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Enjoy a buffet breakfast from 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday (June 25) at the Little Rock Zoo's Cafe Africa, made special with a chat with the primate keeper.

Price for Zoo members is $12.95 children, $16.95 adults. For non-members it's $16.95 and $21.95, respectively.

To make a reservation click here or call (501) 661-7218.

Get On A Roll with River Trail Bicycle Rentals

Riders on the Central Arkansas River Trail.

Hot weather breezes by on a bike, especially if you go for a ride on the Arkansas River Trail. Don't have a bike? No worries. You can rent one.

The River Trail winds along the Arkansas River banks of Little Rock and North Little Rock near  landmarks, scenic landscapes and outdoor attractions. You can walk the trail if you want, but you'll see more if you explore it on a bike from River Trail Rentals.

River Trail Bicycle Rental locations in the lower-level riverfront entry of Peabody Little Rock and the original shop in the North Little Rock River Trail Station on Riverfront Drive just west of Interstate 30 offer easy access to and from landmarks and hotels. There's also a pickup and dropoff service with two hours' advance notice.

You can rent a variety of bikes. For most riders, a half-day rental of up to four hours provides enough time to ride the entire trail with stops for breaks and events. A full day rental of up to 24 hours enables more flexibility and cost savings.

Available bikes (rentals include water bottle, helmet, lock and trail map):

Cruiser (four hours $16, 24 hours $30) Single speed simplicity, fat tires, a big basket and a comfortable seat make this a fine bike for River Market riding and urban exploration. 

Hybrid (four hours $21, 24 hours $35) The hybird combines the upright comfort of a cruiser with the capabilities of 21-speed gearing and large diameter wheels -- a good choice if you intend to cover some hilly ground. 

Road bike (four hours $45, 24 hours $75) An aluminum/carbon fiber frame and quality components provide a fast riding experience. Perfect for visiting riders as well as novices interested in moving to the next level in biking.

Mountain bike (four hours $45, 24 hours $75) Head off the beaten path on a sturdy, tough mountain bike.

Recumbent (four hours $16, 24 hours $30) The 21-gear recumbent offers relief to riders with back, shoulder and range-of-motion issues.

Tandem (four hours $30, 24 hours $50) Double the fun with cruiser saddles and seven-speed gearing.

Kids' cruisers (four hours $12, 24 hours $20) You'll find kid-sized cruisers, tagalongs, backseats and trailers to let you bring the little ones along for the ride.

River Trail Rentals is open from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 2-6 p.m. Sunday. 

To schedule a ride call (501) 374-5505.

Even More Movies: Tree of Life, Cars 2, Meek's Cutoff, Incendies

Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) takes on the European race circuit in Cars 2. 

To read reviews of these and other films click here.

Bad Teacher (R for sexual content, nudity, language, drug use) A comedy in which Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz), a vulgar, ruthless teacher who enjoys drinks and rugs, sets her sights on marrying a rich handsome substisute teacher (Justin Timberlake) to get out of her day job. With Jason Segel, Lucy Punch; directed by Jake Kasdan. To read's review click here. 

Cars 2 (G) Race car Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. Animated with the voices of Emily Mortimer, Jenifer Lewis, John Turturro; directed by John Lasseter and Brad Lewis.

Incendies (R for violence, disturbing thematic material) Canadian-born twins, following their mother's death, honor her final wishes by traveling to the Middle East in search of their unknown father and brother. In French with English subtitles. With Lubna Azabal, Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Remy Girard; directed by Denis Villeneuve. 

Meek’s Cutoff (PG) Michelle Williams portrays a gritty pioneer who, along with her husband and two other families, leaves the Oregon Trail in 1845 to take an alternate route to the Willamette Valley with a self-important wilderness guide (Bruce Greenwood) who may or may not know where he's going. With Will Patton, Zoe Kazan; directed by Kelly Reichardt. 

The Tree of Life (PG-13 for thematic material) The oldest of three boys growing up in Texas in the 1950s experiences the loss of innocence. With Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain; directed by Terrence Malick. To read's review click here. 

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About The Author
What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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