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November 26, 2009

Vol 7 • No 46

Bear Kingdom Vineyard

On a rainy October afternoon, Dennis Kolb was working on a fresh batch of muscadine jelly, pouring in just the right amounts of juice from muscadines from the vineyards on his property and adding in sugar and such.

Touring the Delta

Shopping for specialty products from Arkansas’s Delta — what better place to find rice? — can be done from the comfort of your home computer, by going to

Petit Jean Meats

Petit Jean ham, bacon, bologna, hot dogs ... these are a staple found in grocery stores, fridges and on menus across Arkansas in all seasons, not just the holidays.

Arkansas-made stocking stuffers

It never fails. Come the holidays, there’s a scramble for what to do, what to cook -- and most importantly, what to give.

Obama mocks U.S. tradition

Trust me, the White House spoof video about the annual presidential turkey pardon will not be received with a chuckle from the haters.

Norris to retire as Correction chief

Larry Norris, director of the state Correction Department, notified the governor's office earlier this week that he intends to retire Jan. 4.

Judicial name dropping

Recent news articles have reported on the slow pace of President Obama in nominating candidates to fill federal judicial openings.

The Thanksgiving line

Be thankful out there, y'all. To help:  In case you missed it on our video player, Gerard Matthews has a film piece on some folks' favorites for the day.

Ear Fear is here

So far this year, 607’s landed a song on, one of the most influential DJ blogs in the indie world; appeared on a panel with industry bigwigs at Harvard Law School’s Black Law Student Association’s spring conference, and guest-starred in a Russian rap video.

Insane Clown Posse

For the uninitiated, the Insane Clown Posse is a contemporary, impossibly dumbed-down rap version of Alice Cooper.

Words, Nov. 26

“BENTON — The former Shannon Hills police chief who has been fighting a sexual-assault conviction for five years has admitted to molesting a girl in exchange for a shorter prison sentence.”

A reformed health executive speaks

Wendell Potter became visibly emotional once in our nearly 90-minute visit. It happened when he talked about Nataline Sarkysian.

Arkansas-made stocking stuffers

Dive into our comprehensive shopping guide to an edible Christmas.

The Observer, Nov. 26

One of the biggest applause lines during former President Bill Clinton’s speech at a lunch celebrating the fifth anniversary of his presidential library began this way: “If they repealed the 22nd amendment and I could run for a third term as president ... .”

Orval, Nov. 26

Smart Talk, Nov. 26

North Little Rock has been named a Bike Friendly Community by the League Of American Bicyclists.

Money talks to Blanche

That $3.3 million that the insurance companies and Republican groups spent on advertising the past few weeks trying to terrify Arkansas voters into making her stop health-insurance reform, Sen. Blanche Lincoln explained Saturday, was all wasted because she does not bend to political pressure, being guided solely by what is right for Arkansas.

This Modern World, Nov. 26

Not so standard fare

We noticed Santo Coyote going into the old Firefall Grill location a few weeks ago and the “Mexican Food and Tequila Bar” sign piqued our interest.

Grace, 2009

Thanks for the water tasting like fish so much of the time now. What’s up with that?

Bridge work

President Clinton announced in Little Rock last week that renovation of the Rock Island bridge in front of his library as a pedestrian link would begin in 2010.

Editorial Cartoon, Nov. 26

A&E News, Nov. 26

The schedule of the annual Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase has been finalized.

Try substitution

Mike Ferguson in his letter Nov. 12 applauded Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s leaning toward opposition to a bill making it unlawful for private employers to discriminate against the hiring of homosexual or transgender applicants.

Young love

“An Education,” with its rare indefinite article-plus-unmodified noun title, softly portends a lesson learned.

Nov. 18-24, 2009

It was a GOOD week for … HEALTH CARE. More than 1,000 volunteers turned out to staff a free medical clinic in Little Rock that served more than 1,000 people who couldn’t otherwise afford attention.

In Brief, Nov. 26

Pickin’s are slim for all those anxious to escape the grip of family togetherness. Local R&B diva Nikki Parish headlines at Revolution, 9 p.m.

A different star every week

The most amazing thing about our football team right now is that I can make it through this entire column without mentioning our most famous player by name.

What's Cookin', Nov. 26

SuAnn Scales Haupt is working towards opening Simply Seafood, a seafood import business on Ninth and Izard streets, in unused space at Capital Automotive, which her husband owns.

To-Do List, Nov. 26

Hayes Carll, Brian Posehn, Thanks For The Laugh Comedy Tour, Big Silver / Love Ghost, Real Estate, Malcolm Holcombe and R. Kelly are this week's top picks.

The Televisionist, Nov. 26

When it comes to movies, you can’t do a lot better than the Godfather Trilogy.

Trifles over truffles

Just by walking in to Park Hill Pantry, you can tell the owner, Robert Eaton, is in the Christmas spirit.

On top of their game

Honesty, courage and good sense are things you like to see in your elected officials, and don’t always.

Senatorial politics

I have liked U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln ever since she barnstormed the First Congressional District in 1992 in a sound truck blaring “Pretty Woman.”

Targeting Walmart

This Business Week cover story is of interest as Black Friday approaches. Is the stylish discounter Target aping its larger rival, Arkansas-based Walmart, with heavier emphasis on low prices and groceries?

Got health care?

Be thankful if you do. I got an e-mail last night from Dr. Ralph Freidin of Lexington, Mass., a primary care doctor who participated in last Saturday's free clinic.

Got shelter?

Be thankful if you do. Eric Francis directs me to a fine LA Times feature on the desperate lives and violence that preys on homeless who camp along the Los Angeles River.

Got a country?

Be thankful. Millions of others have risked passage to a separate, unauthorized life in a foreign land to provide for their families.

Thanksgiving eve visitor

I got an e-mail overnight that an SUV had joined the party inside the Cregeens, the Irish pub on Main Street, NLR.

The Thanksgiving thread

Some serious entries follow on the blog, but I'll be busy like many others today cooking for family and friends.

The Gift That Gives... Twice.

What’s the best gift for the person who loves Arkansas food? A gift that not only feeds the recipient but also feeds hungry Arkansans.

Anybody awake?

If so, comment here. Looks like the world is as sleepy as I am.

Leftover Land.

So, what do you do with your leftover turkey?  One suggestion, a recipe of mine on the jump for Smoked Turkey & PurpleHull Peas.  I started cooking up my peas with smoked turkey in an effort to recall the glory of ham in the family pea pot.  What I discovered was even better.  Recipe on the jump.

Little Rock's callin'

Last year, Hayes Carll's third album, “Trouble in Mind,” made him something of a critical darling. His song “She Left Me for Jesus,” which Don Imus called the “greatest country song ever,” won Song of the Year at the Americana Music Association awards, and big name critics stumbled over themselves trying to capture his particular charisma.

Political payday

James Jefferson rounds up some figures on the bonanza in issue-based TV advertising being experienced by broadcasters as interest groups target Congress on health care, clean air legislation, card check, etc. KARK, for example, has pulled in $1 million this year, a non-election year, which more than double its political revenue during 2008, a presidential election year.

What's black about it?

Got a long shopping list but no enthusiasm for plunging into the maddening crowds? Check out this week's Times and Kat Robinson's cover story.

Huckabee haiku

The lineup for Sunday talk shows says that Mike Huckabee will be a panelist on, where else, Fox News.

What To Do With The Turkey.

The ideas and recipes are flowing in.  Norma Bates contributes Thanksgiving Pizza to the mix.  It appears to be a delightful, quick-and-easy application.

Friday To-Do: Hayes Carll

  HAYES CARLL9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $15.

How to Lose a Girl in Ten Texts

So no one is perfect and I get that and all, but sometimes you meet (or re-meet) someone pretty fantastic.

Don't Pass on Pie.

  I recall holiday gatherings from my youth when relatives would spend hours cooking up their specialties, and how I and my cousins could reap the supreme benefit of a family full of cooks.

Slacker Friday

I'm slacking. But not much to report.

Lincoln-health -- hypocrisy and the hurting

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln's pivotal role in health legislation debate remains the political story of the hour.

Ear Fear is here

So far this year, 607's landed a song on, one of the most influential DJ blogs in the indie world; appeared on a panel with industry bigwigs at Harvard Law School's Black Law Student Association's spring conference, and guest-starred in a Russian rap video. It's been a relatively quiet year.

Serious reading on the shale

We've referenced it before, but a reader again points our attention to continued reporting on the potential danagers of gas shale exploration on ProPublica, the nonprofit reporting enterprise.

Who's up? Who's down?

Brummett declares the conventional wisdom today. Obama, Snyder down.

Subsidized athletics

Here's a provocative op-ed as we wait to avidly watch multi-million-dollar coaches deploy semi-pro athletes in Baton Rouge today.

Saturday To-Do: Brian Posehn

BRIAN POSEHN9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $20 adv., $23 d.o.s.Brian Posehn's been a dork for 30 years.

Saturday To-Do: Thanks for the Laughs Comedy Tour

Bruce Bruce. THANKS FOR THE LAUGHS COMEDY TOUR8 p.m., Robinson Center.

Saturday To-Do: Ear Fear

EAR FEAR9 p.m., Village. $5.So far this year, 607's landed a song on, one of the most influential DJ blogs in the indie world; appeared on a panel with industry bigwigs at Harvard Law School's Black Law Student Association's spring conference, and guest-starred in a Russian rap video.

Saturday To-Do: Big Silver - Love Ghost

BIG SILVER / LOVE GHOST9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.The dozen or so dudes playing White Water on Saturday represent the most prolific side of Little Rock pop music.

Hey, hey, ho, ho

Arkansas to the Cotton Bowl, or better, with a win over LSU tonight? Talk about that or whatever else moves you right here.

Real Estate boom

Real Estate comes from the suburbs. Ridgewood, N.J., just a few miles south of New York state. It's a community of “Moms driving Escalades, 14-year-old kids going to Starbucks,” Real Estate singer/guitarist Martin Courtney told the Village Voice last month.

Friends of The Family

The Family, a secretive fundamentalist group with tentacles deep in Congress, has gotten plenty of attention recently --  when its members stray (Ensign, Sanford); when its friends try to restrict abortion rights (Stupak), or when they try to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death in Uganda.

Listen to Dick Morris

Brummett says the reptilian toe-sucker, repugnant though he is, might have some things right about Arkansas politics.

The morning papers

The newspapers get thin toward the end of a long holiday weekend. A few notes: * White County native Beth Ditto, the internationally acclaimed punk rocker, is interviewed today in New York Times.

Huckabee on 2012

Jason Tolbert watched Mike Huckabee on Fox today so you didn't have to. (I know, as if ....)

Tiger talks

The golfter doesn't say much, however. He won't meet with cops.

The line is open UPDATE

Your thoughts here. News dominated today by execution-style slaying of four police officers on coffee break in surburban Tacoma, Wash. At this moment, motive unknown.

We've lost the Juggalos

Insane Clown Posse. If you're not in the habit of trolling Rock Candy's comment section, let me point you to Robert Bell's scathing review of Insane Clown Posse's recent concert at the Village.

Ark. ex-con of interest in slayings

The tip I gave you earlier is panning out. Washington autthorities are seeking Maurice Clemmons, 37, (pictured) for questioning in the slaying of four Washington police officers.

Name you should know

Malcolm Holcombe comes from the Blue Ridge Mountains — Weaverville, N.C., just outside of Asheville. But his folk blues sound more reminiscent of the Delta sounds Bob Dylan's been mining for the last decade or so than any holler-bred folk.

Jobs, now

Paul Krugman criticizes the Obama administration for a "strange passivity" about addressing high unemployment. The country needs an emergency jobs program, now.

Call to action in LR schools

The Little Rock School District will have a strategic planning committee Tuesday, part of process that might or might not lead to some new ways to target underachieving students.

Mike Huckabee's Willie Horton?

(UPDATE: The subject of this item, wanted for questioning in four police slayings, is reportedly cornered by police.

Comments: Mike Huckabee-cop killings

The Atlantic rounds up what no doubt will be a growing list of commentaries on Mike Huckabee's role in commuting the lengthy prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons, a suspect in four police slayings Sunday in Washington.

OA celebrates release of new Arkansas-focused music issue today

It doesn't hit newsstands until tomorrow, but you can get the Oxford American's 11th Annual Southern Music issue at Cajun's today.

Chelsea Clinton engaged

Chelsea Clinton and Mark Mezvinsky told friends they are looking toward a wedding next summer.

Maurice Clemmons' record UPDATE

To clarify matters, here's what state Correction Department spokesman Dina Tyler says the state record shows for a criminal past for Maurice Clemmons (shown in LRPD mugshot), who's being sought for questioning in the slaying of four Washington police officers.

Spice Is Nice.

The problem with any gift guide, just about, is that there's a limit you have to consider.  Space has a way of being just a little too tight to fit everything in.  That's all right, though -- since the wonder of the Internet gives us the power to include more right here in the ether.

Save the alert centers

The Hillcrest Residents Association plans a rally Tuesday at LR City Hall to protest closure of neighborhood alert centers.

Red ink at UAMS

Arkansas Business' Mark Friedman pores over the UAMS books and finds they've papered over operating losses with capital gifts to show a positive outcome for the big medical sciences campus' last fiscal year.

Monday To-Do: Malcolm Holcome

MALCOLM HOLCOMBE9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.Malcolm Holcombe comes from the Blue Ridge Mountains — Weaverville, N.C., just outside of Asheville.

Here comes the Mike Huckabee spin

Mike Huckabee tweets that he'll be on O'Reilly's show tonight. What you think the chances are of a Fox host asking tough questions of another Fox host?

Inmate to Huckabee: Turned life around

The Seattle Times has posted documents from the state parole board that bear on the decision by Gov. Mike Huckabee to commute murder suspect Maurice Clemmons' 108-year-prison sentence to immediate parole eligiblity.

Fill Your Pantry.

Any cook on your holiday list is going to be splendidly happy with a gift from War Eagle Mill.

Don't Tase her, bro

Ozark cop who Tased 10-year-old is fired. Not, strictly speaking, for the jolt.

Huckabee insider on commutations

This is a must read by anyone with more than a passing interest in the Maurice Clemmons/Huckabee commutation case.

So, Soup.

Don't let the idea of turning out a great soup startle you.  Kathy Webb of Lilly's DimSum Then Some is serving up a heaping lot of knowledge on all things soupish Wednesday night from seven to nine with a class on liquid sustenance.  She'll be demonstrating the art of Asian Soup Making with six different varieties, including Hot and Sour and Sweet Potato.  You get to take home the recipes, too.  The class is $45 and will be held in the event room at Lilly's.  Call (501) 716-2700 or drop an email for more information. 

Sen. Lincoln fires back

Sen. Blanche Lincoln scores a rare political point. She notes Republicans have blocked her effort to have all health legislation amendments posted on-line before they can be offered and put to a vote.

In memory

In a few minutes, volunteers at the Clinton Library will begin reading names of lives lost to AIDS.

Over to you

The Monday line is open.

Loose talk

For the second time today I've received a tip about an expansion of the FBI's announced investigation of aspects of North Little Rock city government related to the indictment of a Cabot bookmaker who allegedly tried to set up a kickback scheme on city contracts.

Mike Huckabee is through politically

That's the conclusion of NY Times columnist Tim Egan: If this case does not sink the presidential aspirations of Huckabee, a leading Republican candidate, it should.

R returns

R. Kelly abides. A year after a jury found him innocent on all 14 counts of child pornography, in charges stemming from allegedly making a sex tape with an underage female, the Chicago hitmaker is back on tour and, if his LA concert is any indication, ready to address his travails in song.

Clemmons manhunt over

Media are reporting that Maurice Clemmons, the Arkansas ex-con sought in the slayings of four police officers, was fatally shot by police in Seattle about 5:30 a.m.

Gilbert in the gutter

Sen. Gilbert Baker knows how to raise money. And one way is to use the Drudge Report to tell the big lie.

He don't know beans

Pat Lynch calls attention to a story in the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway about the FBI's presumed investigation of the conversion of private money to public funds to supplement pay of UCA football coach Clint Conque.

He don't know beans

Pat Lynch calls attention to a story in the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway about the FBI's presumed investigation of the conversion of private money to public funds to supplement pay of UCA football coach Clint Conque.

You'll be there, won't you?

Last Night: Malcolm Holcombe

Malcolm Holcombe, live somewhere else. If you’ve ever longed to see an extraordinary, under-heralded singer/songwriter perform in an intimate setting at the peak of his craft — say Townes Van Zandt in 1973 or so — then hopefully you were among the 50-odd people who came to the White Water Tavern last night to see Malcolm Holcombe.

The war president

President Obama is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and he intends to do it quickly.

A letter to the mayor

Robert Johnston, a former state representative and a busy activist on a range of public issues, has written a letter to LR Mayor Mark Stodola about pending city budget cuts.

Tolbert departs Huckabee camp

I frequently link blogger Jason Tolbert here for the simple reason that the hobbyist journalist covers an awful lot of political ground, usually with camera running.

McKinnon scores Indie Spirit nomination

The Little Rock actor/director/producer is nominated, in the Best Supporting Actor category, for an Independent Spirit Award, the highest award most indies can hope for.

A Fun(nel) Time For All.

During my research for this week's cover story (Arkansas-Made Stocking Stuffers) I found a lot of neat things that hadn't crossed my radar when I took the assignment.  One of those items was actually in my cupboard.  It didn't occur to me off the bat that Flossie's Funnel Cake Mix was an Arkansas product until I glanced over and saw it on a visit to River Market Grocery.

Tuesday To-Do: R. Kelly

R. KELLY7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $51.50-$67.R. Kelly abides.

Patchwork memories

-- Brian Chilson photo A huge portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt has been on display on the lawn of the Clinton Library today in observance of World AIDS Day.

McDaniel takes lead

It's more than four years before Dustin McDaniel, Mike Ross, Bill Halter and more seek to succeed Gov. Mike Beebe.

Tiger Woods gets a ticket

Careless driving. It could nick him for $164.

Tuesday: Slobberbone, Glossary, ASO's River Rhapsody, more

Slobberbone. UPDATE: Travis Hill writes to say that Ben Nichols is a late add to the WWT.

I bet he does UPDATE II

The Huckster thinks focus of the Maurice Clemmons case should be the families of slain police officers, not his commutation of Clemmons.

Judicial politics

Appeals Court Judge Karen Baker has announced she won't accept campaign contributions from lawyers who practice before her through her campaign to win a state Supreme Court vacancy.

Tight times ahead

State officials are predicting a 2 percent rise in state revenues in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.

Tuesday topics

You're on. While I'm here: Roby Brock has an item in Talk Business on FCC filings that suggest reshuffling of telcom industry could preserve some current Alltel holdover workers in new ventures in Little Rock.

Chilly today, hot tamale

Sorry. Bad joke in that headline.


Glad the Jury's not ME! Scan the amusing / amazing "Huckabee Haikus" in the previous thread and TRY to pick just five finalists!

Trifle over truffles

Antiquated liquor laws prevent sale of candy in North Little Rock.

The morning Huck

Seattle columnist, (who goes on to make the cruelest sort of Huckacut, suggesting that Mike Huckabee donate book royalties to families of slain Washington police officers):

NLR accounting

NLR Mayor Pat Hays has floated a budget and it would appear from the account in the Democrat-Gazette this morning that he's going back deep into the well of electric revenues to keep city spending up.

Abolish the lottery?

Sen. Sue Madison is prepared to make a pitch for a legislative study of abolishing the lottery.

Look who's talking

An e-mail from a regular reader and correspondent: On Monday at about 4:30, I saw Kim Hendren (or someone driving a car with Arkansas Senate #14 license plate and Kim Hendren signs on it) talking on his cell phone as he drove down I-40 at the Pulaski/Faulkner County line.  Seems a bit hypocritical, no?

'Pedal Talk' returns with Real Estate

Martin Courtney and Matthew Mondanile. It's back.

Tiger, Tiger: Not burning bright

The rehab begins (in the face of another tabloid exclusive). Tiger Woods says he has let his family down.

Tiger, Tiger: Not burning bright

The rehab begins (in the face of another tabloid exclusive). Tiger Woods says he has let his family down.

Wednesday: EOTO, pay-what-you-can night at the Rep, Love Ghost, Chris Michaels and the Cranks

The duo EOTO — made up of the String Cheese Incident's Jason Hann and Michael Travis — blends live drums with keyboards, bass, hand percussion and all sorts of knobs and pedals.

Baker bangs Bisbee

When a political candidate's campaign leaks a campaign document you can count on a few things: 1) it will put the candidate in the best possible light and 2) it will reveal some information the candidate is anxious to distribute.

Free the Dixie Chicks

A federal judge in Little Rock has dismissed a defamation lawsuit against members of the group by stepfather of one of the victims of the West Memphis Three killings.

Money watch

The state revenue report -- critical to the question of whether state services continue at existing levels -- could have been worse in November.

Arguments set on Proctor case

The Arkansas Supreme Court has set oral arguments Jan. 14 on the recommendation by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission that Circuit Judge Willard Proctor of Little Rock be removed from the bench for multiple violations of ethical rules, particularly in his court's operation of a fee-receiving probation program he started and controlled.

Homeless man dies from beating

The Little Rock police have announced the death Tuesday of a homeless man found beaten Nov. 13 in the homeless camp under the Cedar Hill Road overpass of railroad tracks in Riverdale.

Arkansas music writing round-up: Palmer good, 'Johnny Cash' bad

In the introduction to “Blues & Chaos” (Scribner, hardcover, $30), the new anthology of Robert Palmer's music writing, Robbie Robertson captures Palmer's loves of music in an interview with Anthony DeCurtis, who edited the collection.

Interstate parole tiff

The governor of Washington says her state will no longer accept parolees from Arkansas because of what she sees as Arkansas's unwillingness to work with Washington on keeping an accused cop-killer off the streets after he was arrested on charges in Washington.

As the restaurant world turns...

Scott McGehee. The House has secured Scott McGehee as its executive chef, according to co-owner Nick Coffin.

Two NLR aldermen indicted

Yes, something was up in North Little Rock. The Times of North Little Rock breaks the news that TWO North Little Rock aldermen have been named in a federal indictment -- Ward 3 Aldermen Cary Gaines and Sam Baggett.