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January 7, 2010

Vol 7 • No 52

Amtrak's Eagle derails

Two coaches on Amtrak's Texas Eagle derailed about 45 miles north of Little Rock about 3 a.m. this morning with more than 200 people aboard, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago said. No injuries were reported.

The mean streets near Cammack

A note to Cammack Village residents from the police chief: On Tues 01/05 at approximately 6 p.m. in the 7100 Block of Hillwood Road two black males robbed an individual of his wallet and laptop at gunpoint.

Lettuce entertain you

-- Brian Chilson photo Activists from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals donned lettuce leaf bikinis to distribute tofurkey sandwiches in front of the Old State House at the noon hour today.

Who's down on newspapers?

The $20 million sale of the Daytona Beach newspaper to an investment group to end a messy splitup of a shared ownership by a local family and Cox Enterprises would normally not be of much interest here.

Beebe declares state of emergency

The governor's declaration (see jump) allows release of some money to cope with the expected snow and frigid temperatures said to be coming.

Fire it up

I'm off.

A plan for LR schools

The consultants to the Little Rock School District's strategic planning commission have completed a draft report on their ideas for improving education in the district.

King Chamber

"Evening shadows make me blue …” an old song begins, but in Little Rock, it's Chamber shadows that make us blue. Mysterious Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce “contractors” doing who knows what for who knows how much taxpayers' money are given preference over legitimate city functions and accountable city employees.

Arkansan among CIA base victims

The New York Times today reports on the victims in the attack on the CIA base in Afghanistan.

America's changing schools

A report being released today shows that a majority of public school students in the South are poor and come from minority racial groups.

Grab your popcorn

Jason Tolbert reports that the Arkansas House will stream web video of the coming fiscal session and cameras will operate in at least some committee meetings.

About that icy grip

All those people who were madly clearing shelves in my neighborhood Kroger last night? They'll have to wait until after work to do anything with their stockpiles.

Breakfast and Pie.

I'm not even going to pretend I know what that there above creation is. I can tell, as I'm sure you can, that it's egg and ham and bell peppers and bacon and onions and mushrooms and jalapenoes and a couple of different types of cheese.

Willie headed to Spa City

Photo by Brian Chilson. Willie Nelson, taking a break from hanging out with Snoop, comes to Summit Arena in Hot Springs on Sunday, February 21.

Brother-in-law deal for U.S. Senate

Asa Hutchinson (does the former congressman, gubernatorial candidate, etc. need an introduction?) has announced on his Facebook page that he supports Kim Hendren for U.S. Senate.

What's a football coach worth?

News articles recently have noted that the coaches in the Alabama-Texas championship football game make about $5 million each, give or take a few hundred thousand.

What's a football coach worth?

News articles recently have noted that the coaches in the Alabama-Texas championship football game make about $5 million each, give or take a few hundred thousand.

Library to discuss service cuts

The Central Arkansas Library System has scheduled a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, to discuss service cuts to allow whatever repayment plan is ultimately put in place to refund one year worth of a Little Rock property tax increase collected prematurely.

Death sentence overturned

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered a new sentencing for Aaron Miller, convicted in Fort Smith of killing his girlfriend and her two children around Christmas 2006.

Athletics v. academics at UAPB

The thread on college football coach pay prompts a reader to send along Sports Illustrated's story on the basketball vagabonds from UAPB, who played 11 straight season opening games on the road in return for cash guarantees.

The angry left

Funny coincidence. Inveterate reader Chris Gray sent me a link to an essay by the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg about the angry and emotional left-wing response to health care legislation and President Obama's role in it.

Thursday: Kevin Kerby, Ear Fear, Flameing Daeth Fearies, more

Still having a hard time adjusting to Kevin Kerby beard-less and gaunt. Kevin Kerby, one of Little Rock's favorite singer/songwriters, plays a solo show at White Water that will cost you zero dollars, 9:30 p.m.J-One's moved his popular Thursday night Open Mic night from Crush to Juanita's.

Just in from Pluto

Republican Rep. Mark Martin says he's running for secretary of state and he hasn't even put it on his Twitter feed.

Wedding bell news

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee's daughter, Sarah, who runs his Huck PAC, is to be married in May to Bryan Sanders.

The night of the iguana

Actually, it's the night of the open line. But, while you're at it, you might get a laugh out of this iguana story from Florida.

You take Sarah Palin ...

... we'll take these Alaska imports -- Jenna Rutecki and Amber Kelly -- who've rewritten the women's swimming record books at UALR.

Big premiere

"Bloodstone Diaries," the David Koon-scripted web series starring Katy Allen, premieres tonight at Star Bar.

UPDATE: Mallett decision today

More sports this morning: Says here that all are expecting Hog quarterback Ryan Mallett to announce today that he'll stay on for another year of college football rather than going pro.

Obama pushes back

President Obama will try again on a batch of nominees, mostly for Justice Department or judicial slots, who couldn't clear the Senate in 2009.

Obama pushes back

President Obama will try again on a batch of nominees, mostly for Justice Department or judicial slots, who couldn't clear the Senate in 2009.

Worst person in the world

Arkie angle last night in Keith Olbermann's daily award: It went to Sherm Frederick, who heads Stephens Media, the Warren Stephens-owned newspaper group, and is publisher of the group's biggest newspaper, in Las Vegas.

Political story lines: No corrections

Al Gore never said he invented the Internet, despite the umptyjillion serious and joking press statements that say he did.

Coon and More.

Everyone knows that if you're planning to be someone in state politics in Arkansas, you have to go to the Gillett Coon Supper.  But how many of you know what's served at that supper?

Friday To-Do: Whale Fire

Photo by Brian Chilson. WHALE FIRE10 p.m., White Water Tavern.

Friday To-Do: 'The Bloodstone Diaries'

‘THE BLOODSTONE DIARIES'9 p.m., Star Bar Lounge. Free.So I'm not accused of burying the lede: “The Bloodstone Diaries” is a new web series that stars Katy Allen, wife of Kris Allen, and there's a good chance that — ZOMG!

Weekend To-Do: Auto Extravaganza

AUTO EXTRAVAGANZA4 p.m., Statehouse Convention Center. $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.It's a souped-up car geek's dream.

Breakfast at Stoby's.

Folks know Stoby's by its cheese dip.  That cheese dip is everywhere.  And it's good.  But that's not all there is to the restaurant.  In fact, there's a lot more than just the Stoby sandwich, too.  There's a whole lot of food on the menu.

How cold is it?

-- Brian Chilson Cold enough to freeze the county courthouse fountain.

Beebe and a school sham

Did Gov. Mike Beebe really encourage the pluperfectly nutty idea that the Weiner school district in Northeast Arkansas and the Delight district hundreds of miles away could administratively merge to avoid consolidation with neighboring school districts and thus preserve their high schools and avoid being polluted by neighborhood  undesirables?

Saviers to state Education Board UPDATE

I'm told Gov. Mike Beebe shortly will announce the appointment of Vicki Saviers of Little Rock to the state Board of Education to succeed Randy Lawson of Bentonville.

Mike Huckabee's mouth -- again

The New York Times magazine this Sunday features the race for U.S. Senate in Florida between establishment Republican Charlie Crist and the teabaggers' darling, Marco Rubio, who's been endorsed by former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee.

All Gone.

Madea's Home Cooking, purveyor of comfort food galore, has been closed down due to non-payment of sales taxes.  A pity.

The Weekend: Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth, Arkansas Shorts, more

Trailer for Warren Criswell's "Moments" FRIDAY 1/8Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth play Town Pump, 10 p.m.Local rockers Bombay Black share the bill with the Blue Meanies, who do hair metal covers, at Revolution, 9:30 p.m., $5.

Saturday To-Do: Lil Wayne

LIL WAYNE8 p.m., Verizon Arena. $61-$93.96.After canceling a scheduled March gig at Verizon due to “scheduling conflicts,” Lil Wayne's back on the books at Verizon.

The end of Arkansas government

If they get the signatures to put this squirrelly idea on the ballot, there will be ample time to discuss its many shortcomings.

Lucero now huge in the Cretaceous period

Hollanda luceria. A newly identified bird, which lived 71 to 75 million years ago, has been named in part for Lucero.According to Alyssa Bell, a researcher in the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County quoted in Discovery News, the new species most closely resembles the modern Southern Screamer, a bird with a call that's been compared to a blaring trumpet.

Beebe: Study lottery impact

Kelly MacNeil of KUAR sends a Twitter from a comment today by Gov. Mike Beebe:

Last call for Showcase entrants

The deadline's tonight at midnight.I've gotten several calls from people having problems with the online entry form.

Child taken along with car

E-mails that circulated wildly around Little Rock today were correct: A Beebe five-year-old was abducted briefly today when a thief stole a parked, running SUV in which she was sitting.

The evening line

It's here.

Wayne's world

After canceling a scheduled March gig at Verizon due to “scheduling conflicts,” Lil Wayne's back on the books at Verizon. And just in time. On Feb. 9, he's scheduled to be sentenced in connection to 2007 gun charges and immediately start serving what's expected to be at least an eight-month prison term.

Your tax dollars at work

That was a fine circular firing squad at the legislature yesterday as various took turns blaming others for the county elected officials' double-dipping scandal.

Beebe on the lottery

Here's a good bit more from Gov. Mike Beebe's radio show musings yesterday about whether money spent on the lottery has diverted money from other spending that might have produced general tax revenues.

Those Lincoln poll numbers

John Brummett deconstructs the Rasmussen Poll, which shows even a nutcase unknown Republican ahead of Sen. Blanche Lincoln, and concludes that it tends to favor Republicans because of screening and questioning techniques.

Your Turn: Early Kitchen Closings.

"You don't have to go home, but you can't eat here."  Those words were spoken to me a couple of months ago at a diner in Pope County, eight o'clock at night at a restaurant that used to be 24 hours.  The waitress told me the cook had gone home because work had become so light.  She offered me coffee and said she could pull a sweet roll from the next morning's breakfast, but the kitchen was closed.

Your Turn: Early Kitchen Closings.

"You don't have to go home, but you can't eat here."  Those words were spoken to me a couple of months ago at a diner in Pope County, eight o'clock at night at a restaurant that used to be 24 hours.  The waitress told me the cook had gone home because work had become so light.  She offered me coffee and said she could pull a sweet roll from the next morning's breakfast, but the kitchen was closed.

Tax evader pleads guilty

I'm in the wrong business. (No rude dittos necessary.)

Double Handful.

That's what you'll get if you try the Giant Jerry Double D at Blackwood's Gyros and Grill in Conway.  24 ounces on a French roll with all the trimmings will run you $10, but it comes in halves so it's easy to share.  More on Blackwood's at Tie Dye Travels.

Warm it up

The line is open. Local news?

Farm the Capitol Grounds

That's Nao Ueda's big idea for Central Arkansas. Read it and more suggestions on ways to make Pulaski County a better place to live below.

Motormouth Mike Huckabee

The latest ill-advised utterance from Fox host Mike Huckabee -- torture jokes: In a discussion about whether or not the Christmas underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, should have been held by the military instead of a civilian prison, Mike Huckabee sounded more like Jack Bauer than a former pastor.

Saturday entertainment

Our Brian Chilson joined the thousands who went to Verizon Arena last night to see Lil Wayne's show.

The 'asphalt czars'

Before Arkansas talks seriously about a tax increase for road construction, John Brummett writes, it needs to address the imperial highway commission and the increasingly disproportionate way it spends money around the state.

Open it up

Nothing much here. Not as cold.

More socialism

So far not a single news release from a Republican candidate for Congress and U.S. Senate in Arkansas decrying the $22 million in tax credits (courtesy of the Obama administration stimulus package) that will help a foreign company build a windmill component plant employing 700 in Jonesboro.

Watch: 'The Bloodstone Diaries'

Slick. And already with a plug from "Idol" king no love from Kris Allen?

Tear down I-630

That's Cary Tyson's big idea for Central Arkansas. Read it and more suggestions on ways to make Pulaski County a better place to live below.

Republicans in Wonderland

Jason Tolbert says the Tea Party may provide a ninth candidate for the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Randy Alexander of Fayetteville.

Obama's campaign promise

Televised negotiations on health care? Just campaign talk, Brummett says, and the faux outrage is overblown.

'American Idol' ages

A feature on the coming ninth season of  "American Idol" suggests sponsors ought to be drawn from the pharmaceutical products that dominate the evening news ad segments.

What's wrong with Europe?

Not much, Paul Krugman explains. Universal health care, higher per capita economic growth and lots more.

Marriage case goes to trial

The New York Times sets the stage for opening of arguments today in the case challenging the constitutionality of California's ban on same sex marriage.

Marriage case goes to trial

The New York Times sets the stage for opening of arguments today in the case challenging the constitutionality of California's ban on same sex marriage.

Another car kidnapping

LRPD just sent along a report of another episode of a carjacking with a child inside.

Beebe cuts $106 million from budget

As expected, Gov. Mike Beebe has announced another state budget cut on account of declines in state revenue.

UAMS cancer center gets $10.5 million

A $10.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health was announced today for the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS.

McDaniel: Nix Cornhusker kickback

Belatedly, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says the special Medicaid funding provision for Nebraska in proposed Senate health legislation should be dropped.

State must help Muhammad defense

Channel 4 is reporting that a judge has ordered the state Public Defender Commission to provide financial aid to the private attorney representing Abdulhakim Muhammad in the case charging him with the slaying of one soldier and wounding of another outside a Little Rock military facility.

Hen in the Fox house

Sarah Palin to be a Fox News contributor. Fair and balanced.

Change in D-G leadership UPDATE

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today announced a change in leadership. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Inc. announced Monday the appointment of Nat Lea as vice president and general manager for the 63 counties of Arkansas that receive editions of the newspaper printed in Little Rock.

Remaking LR's Main Street

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership is studying ways to revitalize Main Street (our hint: acres of new parking lots do not a revitalized Main Street make).

Monday: Tony Dagradi

The Astral Project leader returns to the Afterthought with Joe Vick and Dave Rogers supporting, 8 p.m., $10.

Penny Lane it's not

North Little Rock is pleased as punch about getting federal stimulus money to build a traffic roundabout at West Broadway and Pike Avenue.

Judge denies slaying case appeal

Federal Judge Leon Holmes today rejected Death Row inmate Terrick Nooner's claim that he'd been mistakenly identified as the killer in the 1993 Little Rock washateria slaying of Scot Stobaugh.

The line is open

Take it away. (I guess, too, that you're as shocked as I am to learn that Mark McGwire has admitted steroid use.)

Review: Lil Wayne at Verizon

Photo by Brian Chilson. Lil WayneVerizon Arena, Jan. 9Lil Wayne may be the best rapper alive, but that doesn’t mean he can charge $51 (or $66 or $76 for premium seats) in Arkansas and expect much of a crowd.


Midlake evolves. The Denton, Texas, band started out, in the early aughts, channeling “Sgt. Pepper's” and other seminal pysch-pop, but with lo-fi presentation. These days, the group draws influence from British folk. Tonight, Midlake plays Revolution.

Ark. gets C for tobacco policy

The American Lung Association's annual report card on states' efforts to reduce smoking gives Arkansas a C average, including a D on taxes (the higher they are the more they discourage smoking and thus the better the grade).

None dare call it fat

Gov. Mike Beebe said yesterday that he anticipated no state layoffs as a result of the latest budget cut.

Flat tax no fair tax

John Brummett begins the exploration process of a proposed constitutional amendment arising in Fort Smith to repeal all taxes levied by the legislature and replace it with a super sales tax, probably in the 20 percent range (though backers, unpersuasively, claim otherwise).

Who's protecting marriage?

Nate Silver crunches some numbers and arrives at this: Over the past decade or so, divorce has gradually become more uncommon in the United States.

For immigration reform

A public forum is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Mosaic Church at 6420 Col. Glenn Road by a coalition working for immigration reform.

Let's you and him fight

The Republican primary race for Senate is expected to grow to nine today with the addition of a Fayetteville teabagger.

If you build it, etc.

The Republicans shortly will be able to put a full baseball team in its field of dreams for the U.S. Senate nomination.

High school grade inflation report

The state Education Department has issued its annual grade inflation report. It ranks high schools on the percentage of students receiving grades of A and B in Algebra I or geometry courses who didn't achieve proficient or advanced scores on end-of-course examinations in the subjects.

Jermain Taylor: 'Time off'

Little Rock boxer Jermain Taylor announced today that he'd be dropping out of a Showtime boxing series to rest his "body and mind."

Ark. budget: No pay raises

The Joint Budget Committee today began talking about the fiscal year beginning July 1 and it wasn't a happy occasion.

And Another One Down.

An eagle-eyed reader alerted me via Facebook that Gabe's Grill in Bryant has closed down.  Phone calls to various Bryant folks turned up that the business closed unexpectedly due to a family emergency last month, and that the shop is now definitely closed.  What a shame.  They cooked a mean steak, and I loved the homemade chocolate cake.

Tuesday To-Do: Midlake

MIDLAKE8:30 p.m., Revolution. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.Midlake evolves.

Bowen has health setback, to leave court

Bill Bowen, sworn into a seat on the state Supreme Court last Tuesday, had a health setback Friday, a stroke-like episode, and as a result will be resigning from the court.

Tuesday: Bowling for Soup, Bluesboy Jag, Charles Woods

Bowling for Soup. Wichita, Texas pop-punks Bowling for Soup sing about the "Girl All the Bad Guys Want" and high school and such at the Village, 7:30 p.m., $20.Local cigar-box blues king Bluesboy Jag shares a bill with Unseen Eye at the Arkansas River Blues Society's night at Juanita's, 9 p.m.At White Water, long tenured local guitarist Charles Woods, who comes from a blues and gospel background, shares the stage with some friends, 10 p.m., donations.

All in the Huck family

Mike Huckabee's PAC has endorsed the Republican candidacy of Rick Crawford against Democratic U.S. Rep. Marion Berry.

NBC throwdown

Conan O'Brien digs in his heels. He won't take a demotion to a later hour to allow Jay Leno into the late-night lineup.

Round and round we go

News of a coming traffic roundabout at Pike Avenue and Broadway in North Little Rock stirred a lot of comment yesterday, so I think I need to pass along: 1) There's been a revision in cost, from $2 million to $1.6 million.

Deja Vu All Over Again.

No, that's not an old sign.  Gaucho's Grill has moved back to its original Rahling Road location.  The churrascaria reopened in its former location January 4th with its original menu.

Social Security office move delayed

All I know is what this newsletter from Sharon Priest at the Downtown Little Rock Partnership says, but that move of the Social Security office from the federal building on Capitol Avenue downtown to a new building out west apparently has been put on hold.

The Tuesday line

It's open.

Bocce bar

That's Graham Gordy's big idea for Central Arkansas. Read it and more suggestions for ways to make life better in Pulaski County below.

Lincoln and the liberals

Do disaffected liberals, maybe 15 percent of the vote in Arkansas, spell trouble for U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln?

Number nine, number nine, number nine

Speaking of base voters, at least six of the nine Republicans clamoring for a revolution in U.S. Senate representation in Arkansas will debate, or something, on a conservative talk show in Mountain Home Saturday morning.

SL Jones is brand conscious

The Little Rock native, lately based in Atlanta, is prepping a new mixtape, "WhYSLJones?"(he's also a member of the Bandana Repbulic, get it?).



State expands career effort

The state today announced expansion of Arkansas Works, aimed at education and economic development. The new wrinkle is an on-line college and career planning program, plus hiring of 43 "college and career coaches" who'll work in 21 "economically challenged" counties.

If only there was a good emoticon for devil fingers

"Sanctuary" live in 1980. Because it'd be appropriate for this post.Paul Di'Anno, the original lead singer of Iron Maiden (as in, pre-Bruce Dickinson), is headed to Vino's in February.

Baker: repeal health reform

U.S. Sen. candidate Gilbert Baker held a press conference today, but didn't have much to announce.  He said the two main themes of his campaign would be to institute term limits for U.S. senators and a balanced budget at the federal level.  Baker also pledged to work toward repealing any health care reform passed by Congress, as some uber-teabaggers have suggested.  Remember, we're talking about legislation that will cover millions of uninsured and keep insurance companies from royally screwing those most in need.

Vampires would royally f-up the health care debate

Collector of web ephemera David Koon passes along this gem:Every year, the first-year students at The Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky are broken up into different sectors of government — Department of Defense, Department of Justice, CIA, Health and Human Services, etc — assigned a diplomatic crisis scenario, and then asked them to make suggestions in the event of that crisis.

Alamo must pay $2.5 million

A federal judge in Texarkana today ordered fringe evangelist Tony Alamo to pay restitution totaling $2.5 million to five victims in the sex-with-minors case in which he was recently convicted.

Wednesday: NeverShoutNever, Octagon, David Slade

Never Shout Never. Popular, super-emo young dude Christofer Drew leads Never Shout Never in a make-up gig at the Village tonight.

The two faces of Republicans

Some of them scrub up pretty good at the Capitol, but get a Republican politician on his own turf -- say the friendly confines of Cabot -- and you get a taste of the real thing.

Dawn Scott on 'The Tonight Show'

Oh, the ol' Weiner/Delight joke. More Conan/Arkansas connections: On Thursday, pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who's performing with the ASO this weekend, accompanies musical guest Hilary Hahn.Also: Team Conan!

Daily Digest: RIP Jay Reatard, Brockmeier gets fantastic and 'X-Factor,' explained

Jay Reatard. Jay Reatard, the biggest talent in Memphis thriving garage-punk scene, was found dead in his house this morning, according to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.

Still time to buy advance tickets for 'Stomp,' do good

The trashcan-banging phenomenon known as "Stomp" is coming to Robinson for three performances in February.

Fox gets one right

Or I should say Shep Smith gets it right, with a simple and sober comment on Pat Robertson's assertion that Haiti is suffering God's wrath for past sins.

"Final" Cash record gets release date

Great cover. "American VI: Ain't No Grave," the final chapter of Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin's "American" series, is due February 26 on Lost Highway.

Preview: New Salty Dogs

Mark your calendar: Local honky tonk heroes the Salty Dogs celebrate the release of "Brand New Reason," their fourth album and first on Max Recordings, on January 23 at White Water Tavern.

Poll warning

Karl Rove hatchetman Tim Griffin, or an ally, is push-polling health care and Vic Snyder. Me, I like government health care.