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September 28, 2006

Vol 4 • No 37

Fat police

New York, which led the way in limiting smoking in restaurants, now is moving to limit the amount of trans fats in food served in restaurants.


Bush trotted out his house toady, Condoleezza Rice, to claim Clinton had given the administration no anti-terrorism plan.


Bush trotted out his house toady, Condoleezza Rice, to claim Clinton had given the administration no anti-terrorism plan.

More politics

A$a says Beebe should pull ads saying he'll eliminate the grocery tax because he's said -- properly -- that it wouldn't be prudent to promise to eliminate it all at one whack on the back of a surplus that might include non-recurring revenue.

Busted in Conway

Randi Romo, a local activist, tells us that eight were arrested for refusing to end a protest at the armed forces recruiting center in Conway today. Two lesbians tried unsuccessfully to enlist in the Navy in defiance of the don't-ask-don't-tell policy.

The company Huck keeps

The Dobson/Falwell/etc. summit that Gov. Mike Huckabee attended last week was ground zero of the Christofascist Republican base.

Worst since Grant

The George Bush administration had six years to prove one theory: If you populate an entire government with cronies you will inherit corruption and incompetence on a biblical scale. We should not have to test the idea again. It works.

We're getting a Supercenter

Sources tell me Wal-Mart is preparing to open a government affairs office in Little Rock to lobby state legislators.

This Modern World

Doing Dallas

Arkansas native Harry Thomason tells us that he and his wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason are in production for a pilot for an HBO series, “12 Miles of Bad Road,” that could air next year on the cable channel.

The week that was Sept. 20-26

IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR … HOUSTON NUTT. The Hog coach needed a win worse than the fans did. Even if it was a gift courtesy of the hapless Alabama kicker, the record book will say 24-23 Hogs.

Democratic ex-president on Republican TV

You could call it a perfect storm. From one direction came the epitome of political partisanship masquerading as journalism, meaning Fox News. From the other came a former president obsessed with his legacy, incapable of shutting up and famously tempera

Editorial cartoon

Unjust but popular

Mike Beebe, Asa Hutchinson, a bunch of legislators, and the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette saying that removal of the state sales tax on groceries is a good idea doesn’t make it so. (Not a profound observation, but appropriate in this cas


Smart Talk Sept. 28

This week: Preaching and part-time students at UCA; poetry in Fayetteville.


Can Mike Beebe talk like that?

Undocumented workers

I read the Sept. 14 account of the 11 Latinos arrested at the Country Club of Little Rock. This event seems to be the part of the unfortunate trend of deportations, which in my opinion are not exactly for the purpose of reducing the numbers of undocumente

The Observer

It was the Observer’s turn to usher at church last Sunday, which meant we had plenty of time to read through the bulletin as we waited out the sermon in the narthex.

Who to torture

What we could do is round up all these gays — the ones who want to get married and raise children and all — and put them in these secret CIA torture prisons that President Bush is trying to legalize.

Give me a 'W'

Hooray for Wal-Mart for taking a big first step to reduce what people are now having to pay for the ridiculous costs the medical drug makers require. Pfizer, Inc., with a revenue of more than $51 billion last year, and several other companies in the Unite

Talking the talk

Can presidential candidate Mike Huckabee rouse the conservative base necessary to win the Republican nomination without scaring away the moderates who decide elections?

Remembering 1957

New books are in the works to mark the anniversary of the school crisis.

A sport for the rest of us

Barring any last-minute controversy, bowling is about to become the newest varsity sport at Little Rock high schools. The school board will vote on the proposal at its meeting tonight, Thursday, Sept. 28.

Readying the Bates home

Work continues to preserve the home of civil rights leader Daisy Bates.

The gap

Forty-nine years after desegregation, a racial gap in education exists in test scores.

Crisis calendar

The calendar is slowly being filled with events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1957 school desegregation crisis.

Give him a 'W'

Opposition to Wal-Mart in some places -- the Boston mayor, particularly -- moves Brummett to say it has gone beyond differences on policy to class snobbery.

Gone blogging

The Morning News has rolled out a blog, Down Dickson, which will focus on NWA entertainment, beginning with "live blogging" the big biker, barbecue and blues fest.

Review: 'Second City' at the Rep is great fun

Joy Ritchey got a lot of laughs out of opening night of The Second City's improv show at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Even at last

It only took the better part of seven years, but the stock market, as measured by Dow Industrials, is trading above its high recorded in January 2000.

More polling

Zogby has a new edition of his Wall Street Journal battleground polling out. It continues to put Mike Beebe ahead -- 45.7 to 43 over A$a Hutchinson in the race for governor, within the 4.2 percent margin of error and a hair narrower than a 3.3-point edge in the edition two weeks ago.

Big oil

The chamber of commerce announces that -- courtesy of wholesaler Mike Coulson -- John Hofmeister, the president of Shell Oil, will be speaking to members at 11:30 a.m.


Check out my reviews of Quinceañera and Trust the Man this week in the Arkansas Times.

Spain picks Volver

Spain has chosen Volver, Pedro Almodovar's latest film as its entry into the Oscar foreign film contest.  It's safe to assume that Volver will be nominated and will, most likely, win this award.  Pan's Labyrinth will represent Mexico and probably stands the best chance of knocking Volver out of the top spot.  I still think this prize is Volver's to lose and I think we'll see it receive noms for writing, acting and perhaps even Best Picture.

Who will win Best Actor?

Tom O'Neil breaks down the actors and the roles that could lead Oscar gold.  He suggests that the race is between Peter O'Toole (Venus), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed or Blood Diamond).  From all of the other buzz out there it makes sense, but I have not seen any of these films, so I really don't know.Rumor has it that LR will get The Last King of Scotland on October 20th (thanks, PM). 

Did you see The Illusionist?

if not, you should.  Here's an MSNBC commentary on why Paul Giammati should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Jim Holt is a liar

So suggests a Bill Halter news release on the jump.

Holmes to CNN

We're late in reporting this (judging from this Aug. 15 press release), but we just heard that former KTHV reporter T.J. Holmes joined CNN as a weekend news anchor.

Still more polling -- Mike!

Subscribers to Survey USA apparently are getting results of the latest reading in the Arkansas governor's race, not yet aired on local media subscriber KTHV.

John Ford and the Duke

If you like John Ford and John Wayne, this is the DVD collection for you.  Here's some commentary from Slate. 

Dana Stevens on The Queen, The Last King of Scotland

Slate critic Dana Stevens weighs in on Stephen Frears' The Queen and Kevin Macdonald's The Last King of Scotland.The Last King of Scotland never rises to the standard set by Forest Whitaker's fearless (and fearsome) performance as Idi Amin.

A.O. Scott has lots of love for 'Little Children'

Mr. Field, with his second feature — his directing debut was “In the Bedroom” — proves to be among the most literary of American filmmakers, one of the few who tries to find a visual language suited to the ambiguous plainness of contemporary realist fiction.

The Festival Circuit

I reported to you on what I heard via the web on the Toronto International Film Festival (check out Philip Martin's blog for additional information).  I wasn't blogging for Sundance or Cannes, Tribeca or Venice, but the New York Film Festival is happening now.  It sounds like a nice festival with some good films, notably The Queen and Little Children.Thanks for to "first time caller" for the Sundance demand.  I received some information on Sundance in the mail today, but as or to whether I'll get to cover one of the major festivals, that's up to all the readers of this blog.  If you want it, call the Arkansas Times.

Big Dam Bridge

For those of you who used it to beat the jail tax, here's a Brian Chilson photo to put on your refrigerator.

Don't vote

Those of you who read the print edition of the Times perhaps noticed the big ad for In case you were wondering: It leads you to the AARP's useful voter guide website, with state-by-state reports on where candidates stand on issues.

A man, a plan, college

Woody Anderson (in case you didn't know, he's a Democrat running for Third District Congress) has a plan for higher ed.

And in Washington

By now you know the Senate has passed Bush's terrorism bill, eroding still more of the sorts of liberties leaders back to George Washington held dear.

Rocking Cowboy, cowboy rock

Friday offers an ironic setup in Little Rock club music, with New Orleans rock by Cowboy Mouth at Juanita’s and cowboy rock (if you will) with Jack Ingram at the Revolution Room.

Masterful weaving

The transition from girlhood to maturity in Mexico is marked with the celebration of the Quinceanera, or the 15th birthday. That is the subject of the feature film of the same title by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, who also penned the film’s scri

Happy anniversary?

In a little more than a year, all eyes will be on Little Rock. Again. It’s hard to know yet whether the gaze will be gentle or glaring, but national, even international, attention will undoubtedly turn this way as the city commemorates the 1957 school

Scaling back

Bids on the Witt Stephens Jr./Central Arkansas Nature Center to be built in Riverfront Park came in high — more than twice than what was budgeted — so it’s back to the drawing board on what will be the state Game and Fish Commission’s most visible, and vi

Take that exit

You know those odd little shops you come across on two-lane highways that have all kinds of strange things in the yard and you always think you’ll stop by on your next trip but you never do? I Liket All is that kind of store, only it’s at the bottom o

Wildwood opens with Gilbert and Sullivan

“H.M.S Pinafore,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s first great opera, will mark the opening show of the 17th season for the Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts. At the Robinson Center, Bonnie Raitt appears.

Trio’s ages gracefully

“I don’t think there’s another restaurant in the world that ever sold bing cherry Jell-O mold and sea asparagus on the same day,” says Capi Peck, head chef and owner of Trio's Restaurant.

St. Joseph’s opens pain clinic

In response to a “physician needs” study that identified a significant demand for pain management services, St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center recently opened the Mission Pain Medicine Consultants clinic.

TV highlights, Sept. 28

EYES ON THE PRIZE: 1957-1962 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2 AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2) UFO FILES: TEXAS’ ROSWELL 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2 The History Channel (Comcast Ch. 70) HEROES 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2 NBC (Comcast Ch. 5, Broadcast Ch

Stadium addresses tailgating mess

Something seemed amiss when I glanced at my University of Arkansas football scholarship parking tag for the two War Memorial Stadium games this fall.

UAMS researcher receives grant to study HPV virus

A researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a grant of $913,000 from the American Cancer Society to study how the immune system of some women spontaneously clears the body of human papilloma virus (HPV).

Nice to have friends in tow

Let’s get one thing clear about the Chris Brown concert at Alltel Arena on Saturday night. The ladies were in love.

What's cooking/Capsule reviews, Sept. 28

What's cooking: Wine and chocolate benefit at Lilly's Dim Sum; Gabriel's opens in Sherwood. Capsule reviews: Burge's, Reno's Argenta Cafe.

The real Jersey boy

Frankie Valli never stopped touring and performing, whether as a singer or on stage or even on “The Sopranos.”

Spilling My Guts

Hopefully just some of them--that's what I'll be doing, literally, in a couple of hours.  I'm headed out for some surgery, where some things will be removed, other things will be excised, and still others could be "damaged" by the surgical process and then "repaired" (really - doesn't THAT sound like the fun part?), and expect to be hospitalized at least through the weekend (best-case scenario has me coming home on Sunday, which is what I'll be trying for).  Laptop's going with me, so if anything interesting presents itself, I'll sure blog it.  Or I could just drift in and out of consciousness for a couple of days.  Either way.  I did my final bit of navel-gazing already, and now it's time to actually get dressed and get over there, so...send the good thoughts, prayers, or vibes my way, and I'll catch up with you later!

Spreading democracy

Is Iraq a model for the Middle East or what? Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Drug babies

Many months ago, we had some spirited talk here prompted by my criticism of drug warrior legislators thumping their chests about passing laws to snatch children away from mothers suspected of being drug users.

The president's man

Bob Woodward, the famed Washington Post reporter who in recent years has been White House scribe, trading flattering books for privileged access, has apparently nipped the hands feeding him in his new book.

The company he keeps

The Huckster is apparently heading to Virginia this weekend to campaign for state legislative candidates.

Clinton pushes back

More and more, I think E.J. Dionne's interpretation is correct. Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.

Line of the day

From Michael Kinsley: But it is hard -- indeed, I would say it is impossible -- to reconcile Bush's absolutism over allegedly human life when it is a clump of unknowing, unfeeling cells with his sophisticated, if not cavalier, attitude toward the loss of innocent human life when it is children and adults in Iraq.

What are you seeing this weekend?

Half Nelson opens at Market Street.  The Guardian, Open Season and School for Scoundrels open in commercial theatres.  Philip Martin in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has this to say about Half Nelson, It says something about the times we live in that the most controversial thing about the protagonist of Ryan Fleck's remarkable independent film Half Nelson may not be his recreational freebasing but his radical politics.  As the touchingly messed up junior-high-school history teacher/girls basketball coach Dan Dunne, Ryan Gosling delivers a staggering human performance, one of the most accurate portraits of an un-heroic but well-intentioned young American we've seen in a long time.

Where's my Sherrybaby?

Another week without Sherrybaby starring BSR It girl Maggie Gyllenhaal. 

Film Celebrity Political Play of the Week

from none other than conspiracy man and World Trade Center director Oliver Stone, ''This war on Iraq is a disaster.

Takeover talk

Roby Brock reports takeover attempt at Van Buren-based USA Truck.

KTHV polling

KTHV last night aired the latest Survey USA poll results, which, as we mentioned early yesterday, show a Democratic sweep in the making for top statewide offices.

Those college bonds

An editorial by Ernie Dumas in the Leader suggests Mike Beebe has stepped in it with his idea of using the state surplus to pay off bond debt.

Those college bonds

An editorial by Ernie Dumas in the Leader suggests Mike Beebe has stepped in it with his idea of using the state surplus to pay off bond debt.

The Mind of Matt: More from Detroit

Rock and movie fan Matt Smith checks in with more from his trip to Rock City Detroit:

Will you be packing?

A$a gets some rare Arkansas campaigning from Gov. Mike Huckabee tonight. The Huck headlines a $100-a-head "sportsmen's" event at the Peabody.

Will you be packing?

A$a gets some rare Arkansas campaigning from Gov. Mike Huckabee tonight. The Huck headlines a $100-a-head "sportsmen's" event at the Peabody.

Leech protection

U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder reports that Congress is about to provide a measure of protection for service people from blood-sucking payday lenders.

Teachers like ...

Woody Anderson, Democratic candidate for Third District Congress. He's won the National Education Association endorsement.

No holiday for crime ...

Not with a mayoral race to be decided. Mark Stodola is the latest to attempt to capitalize. His  new ads apparently are designed to scare the pants off voters about Little Rock's murder rate, then offer voters the reassuring prospect of electing a man with crime-fighting credentials as a former prosecutor.

What a night for music in Little Rock

All of this tonight in river-rock city: Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Sticky Fingerz. Cowboy Mouth at Juanita's.

Best of T Tauri Films on Saturday at Market Street

The "Best of the T Tauri Film Festival," featuring short films by young filmmakers including one from Little Rock, will be shown Saturday at the Market Street Cinema.

Open seat

A Republican family values congressman bites the dust. Sexually explicit texting with underage pages appears to be the last straw.

Open seat

A Republican family values congressman bites the dust. Sexually explicit texting with underage pages appears to be the last straw.

Who you calling little?

Somebody asked the other day whatever happened to the Little Rock nickname contest. The city will announce preferences in balloting on six finalists at 10 a.m.

Two can play that game

As we all know by now, the major-party gubernatorial candidates Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson signed an agreement for three debates that exclude Green Party nominee Jim Lendall and independent candidate Rod Bryan.

Snyder, Lincoln push benefits for Guard, Reservists

U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder gets attention from a prominent military affairs columnist for urging defense officials during a contentious congressional hearing to increase benefits for National Guard and Reserve soldiers under the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB).

Free at last -- or not so long last

Gov. Mike Huckabee issued a batch of commutations and pardons today, some to shorten dramatically the sentences of meth manufacturers.

Freedom of Speech for Me but not for Thee

As I mentioned in my last entry, I did some door-to-door campaigning this weekend in a local race for the first time in years.

Open line

Have at it.

Big Dam weekend

The world’s longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge, the Big Dam Bridge linking Little Rock and North Little Rock over the Murray Lock and Dam near Interstate 430, will be dedicated this weekend with parties, a 5K fun run/walk and what has turned into the l

Ovarian cancer survivors gather at UAMS

One-day retreat offering education and support for women with ovarian and other gynecological cancers and their support persons

Arkansas schools compare notes on obesity fight

Local school leaders from across Arkansas will attend a day-long conference in Little Rock to compare notes and learn about innovative ways their colleagues are combating childhood obesity on their campuses.

Sex hormone receptors and brain tumors

The presence or absence of receptors for sex hormones on the surface of a brain tumor can indicate if the tumor is more likely to recur or to grow aggressively, reported University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researchers in the August issue of

St. Jospher's cardiac program recertified

For the second time since earning national certification in September of 2000, the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center has been re-awarded national certification by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Re

AETN explores improvement in Arkansas medicine

The Arkansas Educational Television Network explores the quality improvement movement in Arkansas health care in "Remaking Arkansas Medicine," airing Thursday, Oct. 5, at 6:30 p.m.

For Beebe, swift boats lurk

When Bill Clinton came to Little Rock the other day to campaign for Mike Beebe — this was a couple of weeks before he reared up on Chris Wallace — he told a crowd, “In Arkansas, Democrats don’t get swift-boated.”

Say goodbye to the tarpaper shack

Image stuff was fine before Republican attack groups took after Mike Beebe. Now, Brummett says, with Swibt Boats lurking, it's time for Beebe to fire back on misrepresentations of his record.

The Northwest miracle

People are still flowing into Northwest Arkansas, but there's evidence of some cooling of the boom, if home sales are a measure.

Brutality R Us

The New York Times examines the Deep South's continued preference for whipping school children, a practice that apparently causes some discomfort for newly settled suburbanites from places with more enlightened child-rearing policies.

And the attendance was ...

Yes, he's praised Mike Beebe effusively. Yes, A$a would tear down his praiseworthy school initiatives.

Crime IS an issue

Barbara Graves doesn't appear to get it. That's the only conclusion that can be drawn after reading the Democrat-Gazette's account of mayoral candidates' response to Mark Stodola's new TV ads, which emphasize his experience as a prosecutor and in shutting down drug houses, still a real and present danger in many neighborhoods, if not in serene West Little Rock.

I'm Not Fat, I'm Big Boned !

    I'm not politically correct and in general political correctness annoys me. I'm also not naïve enough to know that I don't routinely censor myself The wrong phrase or description can quickly bring the wrath of a whole religion, race, nation, or minority group.

Hollywood Reporter: "Thank god we have Martin Scorsese back."

Hollywood Reporter heaps heavy praise for Scorsese's latest film The Departed.Says Kirk Honeycutt, After a couple of films where one of the best directors ever seemed more intent on pleasing Academy voters than millions of admirers, Scorsese returns to contemporary crime fiction with a hugely satisfying bang.

Variety: "Scorsese cooks up a juicy and bloody steak of a movie"

More praise for The Departed from Variety.  This should give the film enormous buzz leading up to it's wide release this Friday.  If the major papers review it the same, look for DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson and Scorsese to catapult into the Oscar picture.  Mixing it up with modern mobsters for the first time since "Casino" 11 years ago, Martin Scorsese cooks up a juicy and bloody steak of a movie in "The Departed."

Maggie Gyllenhaal, "definitely in control."

So says The London Times.  They profile the BSR IT girl and her four films out this year: the already released World Trade Center and Trust the Man, as well as Sherrybaby (out everywhere but LR, it seems) and Stranger than Fiction.Here's the story. 

Tee it up

Oscar talk is in full swing.  And why not?  The Toronto International Film Festival is over and critics have had the opportunity to view almost every film in contention with the exception of Dreamgirls and Flags of Our Fathers.  These two films seem to be frontrunners for the Oscar.  Why?  Bill Condon was the writer of Chicago and he brings together a very accomplished cast (Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson).  20 minutes of this film was shown at one of the early festivals and critics were very impressed.  Flags of Our Fathers has all the makings of Oscar gold.  Clint Eastwood, Paul Haggis and the story behind the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima (it's an adaptation of the James Bradley book of the same name).The other film that seems to have a lock on a Best Picture nomination is Babel, the latest collaboration by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams).  21 Grams was one of the best films of 2003 and I have every reason to believe Babel will be just as good, if not better.  After that, it's wide open.I'm sentimental about The Departed because I think Scorsese is an exceptional filmmaker.  Internet buzz and early reviews are out of this world.  Little Children, the latest from Todd Field (In the Bedroom) and starring Oscar darling Kate Winslet, should make it in.  I did not read the book, but following the buzz on the web, it looks fantastic.  Whether Little Children actually does all seems to depend on how much momentum other films have heading into the holidays.  There is intense buzz for Stephen Frears' The Queen and Helen Mirren is a lock for Best Actress.  The Queen feels to me a lot like Vera Drake did a few years ago, but Helen Mirren seems to have the gravitas to withstand the intense Oscar publicity race.Steven Soderberg's The Good German with George Clooney, Kevin Macdonald's The Last King of Scotland with Forest Whitaker, Robert DeNiro's The Good Shepard with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, Volver, Pedro Almodovar's film that's currently leading the pack of best foreign films are all in the mix.  Bobby, The History Boys and one of the 9-11 films, either World Trade Center or United 93 all have an outside shot it seems.Little Miss Sunshine should win a slew of critics awards as well as a Golden Globe nomination if the HFPA sees it as a comedy.  That will keep it alive for Best Picture.Everyone seems to be formulating their early Oscar picks and I've posted most of them here.  You can track them on some other sites,,, and some of the major publications, USA Today's Oscar Oracle for example.If you want to track the awards race, here's another good site.  I throw out my predictions later on in the year when I've actually had a chance to see some of these films.  Until then, I'll pass along what others are saying. 

Editing watch

An El Dorado reader notes differences in handling wire copy on an important passage in the story about the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley.

Big Dam Bridge

Mayors Dailey and Hays pedal across the new bridge over the Arkansas River, which opened today to a bike ride, foot race and many gawkers.

Rolling Stone calls The Departed "a new American crime classic from the legendary Martin Scorsese, whose talent shines here on its highest beams."

Here's Peter Travis' review of the film.  Damn, the reviews for this film our outstanding.  I don't see how it doesn't become a serious contender for Best Picture.  Sounds like P. Martin's early suggestion (dare I say prediction) that Scorsese will win best director may come true.  Go see this film.


Greet another blog to our lineup of community bloggers -- Dogtownius. As the name implies, it's about North Little Rock, written by a resident of the city who uses the once-hated nickname lovingly for his scrappy hometown. You should know Dogtownius as a frequent Arkansas Blog contributor.

Emanuel Levy, Sasha Stone on Little Children

Emanuel Levy of has this to say about Kate Winslet, This season, Winslet shines (again) in Todd Field’s ambitious and haunting anatomy of American suburbia, “Little Children.” With some luck, and savvy marketing campaign from New Line, Winslet’s brilliant interpretation of a tough, demanding role, that occupies the story's center, should bring her the fifth Oscar nomination and the third lead one.Sasha Stone of says of Little Children, Little Children is unexpectedly funny, unsettling in a way that sets you off your rails for at least a day and more importantly, is one of the few films released so far that holds up a fairly truthful (inconvenient though the truth may be) mirror back at us: this is who we've become.

The Price Of Religious Freedom

$150,000. That's how much it cost the ACLU to successfully win its lawsuit forcing Georgia to remove a religious monument in its Supreme Court.

Tonight and tomorrow

First thing's first. Here's another open line.

A$a: Zero for September

Brummett recounts A$a's bad month. Particularly useful is his explanation of the great candidate survey debate.

It's the coverup, stupid

NY Times: Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.

It's the coverup, stupid

NY Times: Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.

Bush lies

"State of Denial" reporting in Washington Post. Why not just say Bush and his administration lie -- repeatedly?

Calling Amy Lee fans

A major interview/profile of the Little Rocker, pegged to her new album, in the LA Times today.

God's Own Party

Conservative evangelicals are trying to mobilize voters and, despite potential threats to tax-exempt status, making it pretty clear who they favor.

Following Tony Kushner

Noted playwright and screenwriter and now the subject of a documentary film titled "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner" directed by Oscar winner Freida Lee Mock.  Here's the story on the film from the New York Times. 

Half Nelson

Half Nelson, starring Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, is a movie worth seeing.  Ryan Gosling gives an outstanding performance as Dan, a junior high history teacher, who, when not advocating the intricacies and virtues of far-left politics to a class of 13-year-olds, is smoking crack.  I could not imagine Gosling in this role, but he fills it well and his performance should be remembered when awards are dished out by the critics at year's end.  You cannot help but cringe during this film because you know Dan.  You do.  He's a well-educated kid from the New York suburbs who's become so disenchanted with the state of the world and his inability to change it, that he sits alone in his apartment with his cat and gets high.  Enter Drey, one of Dan's students, who finds him on the floor of the girls bathroom after a basketball game so high that he can't sit up.  In one of the most gutwrenching moments of cinema this year, we see, in those few minutes, that Drey isn't shocked.  She's not even surprised.  This is her world; a world where finding your teacher on the floor stoned out his mind is, for lack of better words, not surprising.  Epps dazzles as Drey and we will see her for years to come.  The filmmakers take two difficult issues head-on.  Drug addiction and race are not simple and they are not treated simply in this film.  They rip off the kid gloves and go right to the heart of both, but they don't resolve them.  After all, they are issues unresolved and the filmmakers don't dare ruin our experience with unbelievable solutions to them.  While we don't know what lies ahead for Drey or Dan, we want to believe that it's good.  For many reasons, we have to believe that. 

Opening this weekend

The Departed is finally here on Friday.  It's in wide release, so every major theatre in town should have it.  The buzz is extraordinary and early reviews are phenomenal.

See anything good this weekend?

I saw Half Nelson and I posted my review.  Didn't see anything else.  You? 

Halloween plans?

Matt Smith at Market Street Cinema is bringing back The Rocky Horror Picture Show. 

Fall Preview

Philip Martin has his fall movie preview in today's Arkansas Democrat Gazette.  He's seen a lot of the "buzz" films including Babel, The Departed and Little Children and has some interesting, but brief, comments on them.  Check it out.

Sunday morning . . .

I picked up a copy of Tom Perrotta's novel Little Children today.  Not much seems to be happening in the film world.  I'm on a mad mission to get hooked up with some screeners.  I'm also on a festival mission.  Toronto's the big one, but Sundance, Tribeca, Telluride, New York, and of course Cannes and Venice, all provide interesting opportunities.  Got a festival you're interested in, let me know.

The disappearing surplus

If A$a really thinks the state can afford to remove the state sales tax on food instantly -- and with the surplus all but obligated -- pray tell what spending would he cut or taxes would he raise to make up the lost quarter of a billion dollars?

The Republican coverup

Uh, re the following, yeah. And the Republicans' rush to call for an FBI investigation we trust includes an investigation of the Republicans who sat on maybe years of concern about Rep. Mark Foley.

And speaking of secrets

Yeah, we're sure this was Bill Clinton's fault, too. Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.

And speaking of secrets

Yeah, we're sure this was Bill Clinton's fault, too. Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.

What's cooking?

Lots of our community bloggers are cooking, for one thing. Dogtownius has received a warm welcome.

Asa's September snafus

Asa Hutchinson’s September has been about like that Alabama kicker’s a week ago. Wide right. Wide right. Wide right.

School board runoff

The Arkansas Times endorses DIANNE CURRY in the runoff for the Zone 7 seat on the Little Rock School Board.

More polling

Roby Brock has some new numbers, all more or less following the general trend. Governor Beebe 51 Hutchinson 40 Lt. gov. Halter 45 Holt 41 Attorney general McDaniel 55 DeLay 32   The poll shows approval of the charity bingo amendment and the college bond issue.

More polling

Roby Brock has some new numbers, all more or less following the general trend. Governor Beebe 51 Hutchinson 40 Lt. gov. Halter 45 Holt 41 Attorney general McDaniel 55 DeLay 32   The poll shows approval of the charity bingo amendment and the college bond issue.

Calculating couple

On further reflection, Brummett wonders if Clinton's Fox blowup was calculated. He concludes it's had a positive effect for Democrats.

Wal-Mart in the news

New York Times: Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, is pushing to create a cheaper, more flexible work force by capping wages, using more part-time workers and scheduling more workers on nights and weekends.

The alcohol made him do it

Foley to rehab. This excuse won't absolve the Republican leaders who covered for him, however. Also, here's the St. Petersburg Times' explanation of why it sat on the story -- forced into the open by a blogger -- and a lot of reader reaction.

Big bad Bob

Blog reader Claude Bahls was ahead of the curve on assessment of Bob Woodward's belated discovery that the Bush administration is full of incompetent liars.

It's official

As predicted here last week, this nickname won an ad hoc contest for a new city nickname.

Another school shooting

This one in an Amish school in Pennsylvania, CNN reports.

Round II

I'm reminded that Round 2 of the candidate-designed gubernatorial debates between A$a and Mike! will be at 6 p.m.

Halter fires

And Holt is an inviting target, having stood nearly alone against an increase in the state's minimum wage.

What's right with Kansas

The New York Times' Paul Krugman (subscribers only) today wonders whether the Republican coalition of economic conservatives and the Religious Right could be breaking up.

Tainted spinach?

Channel 5 in Fort Smith is reporting on an e. coli outbreak at a daycare in Van Buren.

Monday night fights

Alapha Phi Alpha Fraternity will sponsor candidate forums tonight at Philander Smith College's Kendall Center.

Geezer rock

The Clinton Foundation today announces a weekend (and belated) celebration of the former president's 60th birthday Oct. 28-29 in New York, culminating with a Rolling Stones concert.


She lied about Clinton leaving no anti-terror plan. She lied when she said the Bush administration had received no warnings about Al Qaeda.

And the Foley scandal grows

A good government group notified the Justice Department -- the Bush Justice Department -- of questionable e-mails by Rep. Mark Foley in July.

It's still Mike!

Opinion Research Associates has completed another poll for Stephens Media, with the governor's race results released first tonight on Fox 16.

Monster Bash to benefit UAMS nursery

Celebrate Halloween early by attending the Tiny Hands Monster Bash, a fund-raiser benefiting the UAMS Family Home and neonatal intensive care unit. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Next Level Events in the Train Station at 1400 W. Markham S

St. Joseph’s in 100,000 Lives Campaign

It has been announced that the 18-month 100,000 Lives Campaign, an unprecedented nationwide initiative that St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center participated in along with other hospitals throughout the country, contributed to an estimated 122,300 saved lives

To do Tuesday: Bonnie and Keb' Mo'

Don't know about you, but I've been looking forward to tonight's Bonnie Raitt/Keb' Mo' show since rumors about it coming surfaced months ago.

To do Tuesday: Bonnie and Keb' Mo'

Don't know about you, but I've been looking forward to tonight's Bonnie Raitt/Keb' Mo' show since rumors about it coming surfaced months ago.

The poll details

Here's the full report on the news we reported last night -- that Beebe leads by 18 according to their latest poll of the race for governor.

Huck down; bingo up

More poll results from Stephens Media: Huckabee favorability rating drops below 50 percent. (Has somebody noticed his appearances in Arkansas are mostly when things are named for him or his family?)

The Hog T-shirt police

Brummett today snorts at Walton University's crackdown on a Hog fan who made T-shirts crtical of Houston Nutt.

Having fun yet?

NY Times The burden of housing costs in nearly every part of the country grew sharply from 2000 to 2005, according to new Census Bureau data being made public today.

Wal-Mart:: pay to play

A number of publications have taken note of Wal-Mart's increased lobbying staff and political campaign finance activity.

Political tipping point?

The Foley case doesn't take a genius to figure out. The House Speaker was warned of a potential problem.

No slowdown yet

State revenue continues to come in well ahead of last year and forecast, according to September numbers from the state DFA which were stronger than the preceding month.

The Mind of Matt: Slaughtering Detroit

Metalhead Matt Smith just woke up from Saturday's Slaughter concert in Detroit and files this report on the Motor City.

What's in your queue?

I've got Reds, The Deer Hunter and A Place in the Sun.  You?

Adios Fort Smith

Whirlpool is cutting 700 more jobs in Fort Smith in favor of a Mexican plant.

Why 'All the King's Men' tanked

The L.A. Times has a story which discusses why Steven Zaillian's film All the King's Men topedoed at the box office.  Zaillian stated  "it's a bit of a surprise — a surprise like getting hit by a truck."  Come on.  This is the same guy who won an Oscar for writing Schindler's List.  You mean to tell me that he thought that final cut of All the King's Men measured up to that film or any other film he's been involved in?I'm not buying.  The moronic reporter seems to be surprised as well.  I'm not sure why, because the reason the film did poorly at the box office is simply because it's not any good.  I've seen it and it's disappointing.  Zaillian failed to capture any of the political or moral issues well - and instead left us with a film where Sean Penn just yells all the time.Scott Martelle, who wrote the story, concludes, "Given the current political climate, one would think — as does Zaillian — that Warren's core exploration of means and ends would resonate today.

Tough on immigrants

The Arkansas Republican Party is very proud of A$a Hutchinson's plan to crack down on illegal immigration.

Copycat -- not funny

A notice from the Fayetteville School District's news office today:  A rumor about a supposed planned shooting circulated widely through FHS and the community earlier today via text messaging, cell phones, and email.

This is kind of funny

After we posted our item this morning about the University of Arkansas's heavy-handed crackdown on a T-shirt it didn't like, we heard about someone else who'd had an unpleasant experience (as we have) with the Walton University legal department.

This is kind of funny

After we posted our item this morning about the University of Arkansas's heavy-handed crackdown on a T-shirt it didn't like, we heard about someone else who'd had an unpleasant experience (as we have) with the Walton University legal department.

Well, let's HOPE so

G. Wingrove Bush's pick for the attorney general of the United States of America, the flamboyantly insane John Ashcroft, has written a book.Its title is "Never Again."

Speaking of The University

We belatedly notice a Morning News scoop this morning on announcement of a 1.14 percent budget cut at UA because enrollment fell short and thus revenue won't be sufficient to produce a balanced budget.

The Amish Country Shoul Not Be Dangerous.

Confidentially Dismayed This Week: Lots going on in the world, most of it ridiculous and disgusting, and that's my harp today, school shootings.  Apparently they are back envogue or something, there have been three in the last week, two carried out by adults with some sick need to attack female youngsters.  Yesterday, and if you haven't heard you've been under a rock, some insane dairy driver decided to kill some Amish kids as revenge for something someone did to him 20 years ago when he was twelve....

Negotiated plea

 Warren Overton entered a negotiated guilty plea today to a single count of bank fraud.

The movie everybody loved but me

Here's a piece in Entertainment Weekly about films that everyone seemed to like but "me" (certain members of the EW staff weigh in).  There are some sensible picks: Dances with Wolves, Jackass: The Movie, Titanic.  Here's my list:1-4 - Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Return of the King, King Kong (yes, all directed by Peter Jackson)5-6 - The Sixth Sense, Signs7 - My Best Friend's Wedding8 - The Blair Witch Project9 - Moulin Rouge10- Forrest Gump

Favorite Boston-based movie

Got one? has a piece on the best Boston-based movies.  The Departed, another Boston-based film, opens this weekend.It's hard not to give the nod to The Verdict, but Mystic River and The Paper Chase are also great Boston-based films.  Good Will Hunting is up there as is Jaws (if you consider that part of Boston).

Writing Boston

Sticking with the Boston theme for a moment, here's a piece on William J. Monahan, the screenwriter for The Departed.`` Boston is what I knew.

Leo vs. Leo?

Will the nomination be for The Departed or for Blood Diamond?  These are the two films Leonardo DiCaprio has out this fall and both performances are getting excellent reviews.  TIME magazine says,This year, DiCaprio's toughest competition for a Best Actor Oscar may be himself — he's pretty sensational as a Rhodesian jewel smuggler in Edward Zwick's "Blood Diamond", due out in December.

Anderson calls out Boozman -- UPDATE

Democrat Woody Anderson calls out his opponent, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Boozman on his failure to join principled conservatives in demanding changes in House Republican leadership for their part in the coverup of the Mark Foley scandal.

Clooney says Oscar for Cate Blanchett

This is the first anything we've heard about The Good German -- George Clooney, speaking to Vanity Fair, says:"I will tell you right now — (Cate Blanchett) will win the Oscar," he says of his co-star in the upcoming drama The Good German.  "She's the best actor working today.

Tuesday night open line

Anybody else see the opener of NBC's "Friday Night Lights"? Maybe I'm just a sap for football stories.

UAMS receives minority nurse recruitment grant

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Nursing has received an $820,418 federal grant to finance a minority nurse recruitment and retention program for three years.

The latest polling

For Stephens Media in the race for lieutenant governor: Halter 53 Holt 34 The president's approval rating Somewhat or strongly approve 41 Somewhat or strongly disapprove 55 The Arkansas senators' approval rating Pryor 64 Lincoln 56 The college bonds For 70 Against 19

The Hub drubbed

The Hub, a Wal-Mart webpage aimed at attracting the youth market, apparently has flopped. It's no more, the Morning News reports.

Huck: also ran

Hard as he's been working, The Huckster isn't yet scratching in national polling on presidential contenders.


Or maybe delusional would be more precise. Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.

Responding to comments

Amy writes, "I would have to agree-- all of those movies are pretty boring in my opinion.

Reminder - Debate Tonight 6:00 P.M.

Don't forget, for you political junkies, the Goverornor's race second debate will be in the Fort Smith/Fayetteville/Rogers market on tonight, Oct. 4 and the last one is set for Little Rock on Oct. 17.

AFI Film Fest

is loaded with quality films.  If you're in Hollywood November 1-12, be sure to check it out.  The opening night film, as I already posted here, is Bobby.  The fest recently added Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain (which hasn't received much buzz) and David Lynch's Inland Empire (it's David Lynch, after all).  Volver, Bug (starring Ashley Judd), The History Boys, Come Early Morning (dir.

Digital debate

Contrary to what we'd  been told previously, KHBS/KHOG now says it will "livestream" its signal of tonight's semi-debate between the major gubernatorial candidates.


Warren Beatty's 1981 film Reds is finally coming to DVD on October 17th.  Nominated for 12 Oscars and awarded 3, including Best Director for Beatty who wrote, acted and directed the film, Beatty plays radical journalist John Reed.  Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Maureen Stapleton all star.  Reds was the last Hollywood film to be show with an intermission.Says, A.O. Scott of the New York Times, “Reds” remains a superior history lesson, thanks to Mr. Beatty’s thorough command of the material and to his inclusion of real-life “witnesses” to the life and times of Reed.

Ask the governor

Nobody asked The Huckster on the radio this morning about the Foley case.   Otherwise, he said he remains supportive of a state tax cut or rebate, given the surplus, but says there’s no legislative interest in a special session.

Trouble in Babel - land?

Scriptland, the weekly feature from the L.A. Times which chroncles the lives of screenwriters has a piece about a rift between Alejandro González Iñárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga, the director - writer creative team behind Amores Perros, 21 Grams and the upcoming Babel.  Here's the story. 

Review: Raitt and Keb' Mo' were sensational

I had high expectations for the Bonnie Raitt-Keb' Mo' "Souls Alike Tour" show last night at Robinson Center, and they were exceeded by a spectacular performance from both artists, who displayed both their wonderful pipes as well as  their exquisite finger-work on their variety guitars. I left feeling as good about a show as any I've seen.

Washington Post on Whitaker's Amin

As Amin, the American actor Forest Whitaker is extraordinary. He makes you see Amin's charisma and cunning and understand the way in which he could (not that there's any record he ever did) reach out and embrace a younger, more impressionable man and woo him with sexual opportunities and luxuries and fast cars, until the young fellow himself is all but a party to the activities of what Amin called the "State Research Bureau," which seemed mostly to involve bayonet use in the presidential mansion basement.

More praise for Nicholson, The Departed

From Stuart Levine writing for MSNBC.comPlaying Frank Costello, the head of the Boston mob in director Martin Scorsese’s glorious return to wise guys — and, amazingly, the first pairing of the actor and director in their long and brilliant respective careers — Nicholson is menacingly beautiful, doing whatever it takes to make sure he stays one step ahead of the cops.Here's the full story. 

Kate Winslet, deserving of the Oscar?

So writes Joe Tirella for Ah, but “Little Children,” is another story.

All this Nicholson talk

has me evaluating my ten favorite Nicholson performances (I anticipate The Departed will make this list, but until I see it . . .)1.  Chinatown2.  One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest3.  Reds4.  A Few Good Men5.  Terms of Endearment6.

Dream honeymoon

Tony Poe at Poe Travel has designed two of the dream honeymoons being voted on this week by NBC Today Show viewers as part of its annual dream wedding feature.

Big weekend ahead

       Unfortunately, The Queen and Little Children won't be in Little Rock just yet.  Each of these movies is scoring off the charts on the critics tomatometer. 

Explosive in school

KAIT reports that a Nettleton junior high student brought a Molotov cocktail to school today.

What a weigh to go

R.W. Apple, the legendary NY Times reporter who earned our undying envy for his recent years as a galloping gourmand, chronicling the best food in the greatest cities in the world, died today of cancer at 71. In his final hours, he cranked out his final piece, a report on the great chefs of Singapore.

The Huckster stumps

At last, The Huckster does a little campaigning for Arkansas candidates. Stubby Stumbaugh, soon to be thrashed by U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, reports that The Huckster is taking a break from Iowa long enough to do a little traveling with him Thursday and that he'll also make appearances for Chee Chee Tamburo in Heber Springs and Billie Sue Hoggard in Jonesboro.

Tavern crackdown -- UPDATE

Because of mulltiple complaints, including a recent shooting, city officials have scheduled a 4 p.m. news conference today to announce a "plan" to deal with Legends, the after-hours joint on Rodney Parham.

Gunning for DeLay

Can you pile on too much? We wonder because Dustin McDaniel seems likely to be cruising to an easy win in the race for attorney general, but the Democratic Party keeps beating up on Republican opponent Gunner DeLay.

Live debate blogging

The debate is streaming nicely here. Early scoring: Beebe.

Plaintiffs' judgment on Prempro

Unlike Little Rock, a Philadelphia jury has found that Wyeth's hormone replacement drug Prempro caused a woman's breast cancer.

What'd I Miss?

I'm fresh off a five-day hospital stay following a pretty heinous, involved surgery--at 3.5 hours, I'd say my surgeon earned his Health-Advantage-decreed flat fee.  If your life is totally devoid of melodrama, or you'd just like to know how the less-stable half lives, you can hop over to my home blog and read the last 5-7 posts.

State Medical Board to meet

The Arkansas State Medical Board will meet Thursday and Friday, October 5th and 6th at the Medical Board Office.

St. Joseph’s Sanchez completes forensic interviewing training

St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center’s Tracey Sanchez, BSW, recently completed Finding Words training – the state of Arkansas’ new forensic interviewing protocol for child abuse cases – at the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies in Rogers.

St. Joseph’s names chie operating officer

Tim Johnsen was recently named the new Executive Vice President-Chief Operating Officer (COO) at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center.

Washington Regional honored for homebound program

Faith in Action has been named to receive the Eldercare Intergenerational Volunteer Award from the Arkansas Gerontological Society.