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December 9, 2010

Vol 37 • No 14

The Damascene Horse Dealer's Daughter

...or How I Came to America

About Mohja Kahf

Hunka Pie moving to Cantrell Hill

It'll take over the old Hop Drive-In location.

Fiscal responsibility

More in the Talk Is Cheap department about the new wave Republicans: Democrats note that the House Republican Conference today supported Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky to head the House Appropriations committee.

Mushmouth Lincoln

How hard would it be for Sen. Blanche Lincoln to issue a simple declarative statement on discrimination against gays in the military and what she intends to do about it?

Ignore Boozman whining

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has advised President Obama to ignore whining from Rep. John Boozman and pals about Obama's references to the national motto.

Merry Christmas, Coach Petrino

Between a winning season and a Florida coaching opening, do you think Bobby Petrino can look at a $1 million increase in his $1.9 million base pay?

Day of reckoning for lottery?

Will Ernie P. be on the hot seat when the Arkansas Lottery Commission hears from state auditors tomorrow?

Argenta Holiday Show TONIGHT!

Now I can post that the Argenta Holiday Art Show is tonight, between 5:30 and 8 p.m., so head over.

Open line

Sorry. Been busy.

Renauds return to the front lines

Belatedly, a plug for the latest mini-doc Little Rock filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud shot for the New York Times.

'Monster' mash

Old skool movie, slick new FX.

Orval, Dec. 9, 2010

There he goes again

Huckabee might have set a new standard for exaggeration last week by suggesting a punishment not allowed by law for the Wikileaker who revealed U.S. diplomatic communications.

Pre-bowl bullets

Ah, the fallow period between conference championships and the Udrove Humanitarian Bowl between Fresno State and Northern Illinois. What are you going to live for over the next two weeks?

'A Christmas Story'

Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Dec. 3

This Modern World, Dec. 9, 2010

The To-Do List, Dec. 9-12

Red Octopus Theater, T-Model Ford, Arkansas Chamber Singers, "The Nutcracker," "The Jam Session," Glen Campbell.

The Televisionist, Dec. 9

On 'The League,' 'Bridalplasty' and 'Mythbusters: The Presidents Challenge.'

What's Cookin, Dec. 9

Koto, a Japanese restaurant at 17200 Chenal Parkway, is soon to be reborn as Papa Sushi, with a tagline that reads Bistro-Teppanyaki-Sushi.

The Week That Was, Dec. 1-7

Good week: state employees, the Razorbacks, Little Rock School Board, plea bargains. Bad week: Mike Huckabee, Fayetteville, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, U.S. Reps. Mike Ross and Marion Berry

Words, Dec. 9

The best name I've heard so far in the new basketball season belongs to a player on the Baylor women's team — Odyssey Sims.

The Observer, Dec. 9

It's rare that The Observer doesn't shoot straight with you, Dear Reader. But this time, for reasons that will soon become clear, we're going to have to obscure some of the facts.

Eye on Arkansas, Dec. 9

All dogs go to heaven

A tour of Pet Land, Little Rock's only pet cemetery.

New on Rock Candy, Dec. 9

Little Rock director Jeff Nichols'second feature film, "Take Shelter," has been selected to compete at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

Razorback revenues – an imprecise science

Different requirements explain $18 million gap, UA says.

On this rock ...

Little Rock over the years has found itself cast as one of the meanest cities in America. Why? It has too often elevated image over humane treatment of the homeless.

Game, fish, turkeys and irony

I am about to decide that the best way out of this Sheffield Nelson-related soap opera is to reinstate fall turkey season. That is when we eat 'em, anyway.

Truckin', at Green Cuisine

Bring extra napkins

A broken system

Is the system broken? Can one political party be so crafty and the other so inept that their skirmish over a serious policy issue produces such a perverse result?

Ghost of Senate Future

Blanche Lincoln's service in the Senate is almost over and John Boozman's is just about to begin. The difference will be profound and unpleasant.

In Brief, Dec. 9-11

Aloud at Sticky Fingerz, Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers at the Mallard Bar, The See at White Water Tavern, The Freds return to Juanita's

Huck's mansion

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is building a $3 million house on Blue Mountain Beach just east of Destin, Fla. The three-story house will have 8,224 square feet of living space and 2,969 square feet of decks and porch.

Between 12-12s

I use birthdays like Binx Bolling used movies and J.A. Prufrock coffee spoons — to measure my life's progress by what I've learned from one to the next.

Airport expenses

Thank you for the investigative work done on the Airport Commission. It appalled me to read of the abuse of power, greed and selfishness that some members and the mayor showed.

Thursday: Aloud, Cody Belew, "A Christmas Story"

Thursday night has Boston poppers Aloud at Sticky Fingerz, "A Christmas Story" returning to The Rep and both Robert Earl Keen and Kathy Mattea in Fayetteville.

Thursday To-Do: "Pagans on Bobsleds XIX: The Spawn of Santa"

It's a seasonal tradition almost two decades old: Red Octopus Theater, Arkansas's longest-tenured sketch comedy group, pokes fun at the holidays with a revue it calls "Pagans on Bobsleds."

Thursday To-Do: T-Model Ford

Normally, we'd implore you to drop what you're doing and hit White Water Tavern to see one of the last true, raw bluesmen before it's too late, but we're pretty sure T-Model Ford is going to live forever.

Up and gone?

Hopes for the return of favorites such as Satellite Cafe and The Box continue to dwindle.

The case for Obama

Gene Lyons makes the case for measured praise for President Obama in the tax cut deal.

DREAM dies today

The DREAM Act — which would provide a path to citizenship through military or education for people who came to America as children — seems likely to die today in the Senate to filibuster, though it will have majority support (not counting Sen. Mark Pryor).

Friends rally for bomb suspect

When we linked to an article the other day about Mark Krause, the Arkansas blacksmith arrested for allegedly placing an improvised soda can-bomb at a polling place in the June runoff primary, friends rallied to his defense in the comment thread and mentioned a Facebook page set up to support him.

Jeannie Burlsworth is bonkers

Gerard Matthews is doing additional reporting for us on ongoing work on land use and environmental rules for protecting the Lake Maumelle watershed.

One missing in silo collapse

Mike Graves of the Nashville News tells me that a silo at the Tyson Foods feed mill in Nashville collapsed about 2:30 a.m. today and one worker is trapped beneath tons of corn and debris.

Boswell-Mourot monkey business

Silent auction tonight of art made by animals will benefit the Zoo.

Special treatment for Womack's son

Says here (and story will mostly be behind pay wall) that Congressman-elect Steve Womack's son got special treatment from state Correction Department on his sentence on a plea bargained drug charge.

Downtown Arvest robbed

Channel 4 reports that a balding white man, aged 45 to 50, with a pot belly robbed the Arvest Bank at Capitol and Broadway about 9:15 a.m..

Legendary 'cue in DeValls Bluff

I suppose I don't even need to start to tell you about the 'cue at Craig's Barbecue...

Showdown at the Arkansas corral

More good legislation from Denny Altes. A bill to allow open carry of hand guns, no permit necessary.

House Dems unhappy on tax plan

House Democrats voted in private this morning to reject President Obama's tax plan. It could still pass with Republican votes and sympathizers such as Mike Ross and Marion Berry.

How GOP wins the message war

The Republicans win with opinion research, labeling and Fox News support. Fascinating item from Daily Beast: As the health-care debate was heating up in the summer of 2009, Republican pollster Frank Luntz offered Sean Hannity some advice.

LR Schools: It ain't over until it's over

The transition to new leadership of the Little Rock School District is not going to occur quietly.

"Independent for Governor" to screen at Clinton Library

"Independent For Governor: An Idealist's Grueling Run," Huixia Lu's documentary about Rod Bryan and his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, is set to make its Little Rock debut on Dec. 21 at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Passailaigue survives firing attempt

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has been meeting all day on its poor audit and fiscal issues.

Supreme Court gives benefits to smoker

The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed the Court of Appeals and gave workers comp benefits to a Jonesboro woman who broker her arm in a fall while returning from a smoke break.

Republicans filibuster DADT repeal

Sen. Harry Reid has called a cloture vote on repeal of the ban on gay military service.

Enter the 2011 Musicians Showcase

It's that time of year again! We're gearing up for the 2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase and currently accepting applications from local bands.

Whiteside wins

Two awards for Delta Exhibition artist.

Thursday night line

Noted: * Janet Huckabee's father, Angus Bouie "Mac" McCain died over the weekend at 83.

Weekend: The See, The Freds, "The Sixth Ever Nog Off"

The weekend in Little Rock sees The See return to stage after a prolonged absence, The Freds at Juanita's, a fundraiser for drummer Brandon Clendenin and "The Sixth Ever Nog-Off" at the Historic Arkansas Museum.

Friday To-Do: Arkansas Chamber Singers' "Bach to Christmas"

The Arkansas Chamber Singers close out their concert season with "Bach to Christmas," an evening of classic holiday cantatas from "Christmas Oratorio" and "Uns ist ein Kind geboren."

Saturday To-Do: Ballet Arkansas's "The Nutcracker"

Ballet Arkansas's annual presentation of "The Nutcracker" returns for yet another year, with two performances at Robinson Center Music Hall.

Saturday To-Do: "The Jam Session"

The new Mediums Art Gallery hosts "The Jam Session," a night of live music from Epiphany, Gina Gee and Stacey Avery, all backed by the whip-tight live band, One Night Stand.

Sunday To-Do: Glen Campbell

The University of Central Arkansas hosts a special homecoming concert from Glen Campbell, who, let's be real, doesn't need us to tell you who he is.

Assessing the tax deal

Krugman studies further and is still of a mind that the Obama tax deal with Republicans is unwise — it will set up another hostage situation a year from now.

Illegal immigrant drivers

Here's a New York Times story with plenty of Arkansas implications: Because virtually all states don't grant diriver's license to people without proof of legal residence, the roads are heavily traveled by unlicensed immigrant drivers who must drive to get to work.

Womack's new paradigm

Congressman-elect Steve Womack of Rogers, one of the self-professed budget hawks elected in Arkansas this year, has won a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, to be led by the Prince of Pork from Kentucky.

Staffing up for the new Congress

Got a tip today on a key staffer for incoming U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin. A Griffin spokesman says hiring is still in progress and no announcements are expected until after Christmas.

Pelosi: Will get DADT repeal done

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has an "army of allies" ready to pass a DADT repeal in the House if Republicans don't prevent a stand-alone vote on repeal in the Senate.

Aaron Jones gets 10 years for Chenal fire

Aaron Jones, the lawyer convicted of burning his Chenal Valley mansion to collect on insurance, was sentencedtoday to 10 years in prison for the crime, Arkansas Business reports.

PSC orders energy efficiency measures

The Arkansas Public Service Commission today issued a series of orders aimed at promoting energy efficiency efforts of Arkansas utilities and to encourage better technology for electric and gas utilities.

Police detail fatal shooting UPDATE

Police have scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the fatal shooting of an elderly man who was reportedly hitting a police officer working private security at an apartment complex with a cane.

Group opposes LR spending on chamber

The Arkansas Community Organizations, a grassroots group, has called on the city of Little Rock not to include $200,000 in city taxpayer money for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commercr.

UPDATE: "The Last Ride" trailer released

The trailer for "The Last Ride," the Hank Williams biopic, directed by Harry Thomason and filmed around Central Arkansas, has finally hit the internet.

Hard times in Hogland

Chris Bahn at Arkansas Sports 360 has a good post about Gerard Matthews' story this week on the $18 million discrepancy in UA Athletic Department revenue in various reports.

City to settle with Kroger

The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission will meet Wednesday morning to begin the process of searching for a new director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and to approve a proposed settlement with Kroger over the grocery chain's failure to pay the restaurant sales tax on prepared food sales.

The Friday night line

It's open. Final notes: * Central Arkansas Water commissioners will interview five finalists next week to fill an open spot on the important utility commission — Charles T. "Charlie" Crow, George W. "Russ" Gray, Marie-Bernarde Miller, Anne Roberts, and Carolyn Shearman.

A gut full of Ernie P.

John Brummett beholds the Lottery Commission's effective whitewash of lottery director Ernie Passailaigue against a laundry list of management offenses and offers a three-part conclusion: One is that our Lottery Commission is too compliant, in the way of so many of our state boards and commissions that take at face value the self-congratulatory assessments of their trusted and even adored hired hands, the Lu Hardins of the world.

Estate tax anger

The New York Times rounds up deep Democratic unhappiness with the estate tax giveaway — a windfall of immense proportion for billionaires — embedded in the Obama-Republican tax deal.

Madoff's son commits suicide

The son of Bernard Madoff, the convicted Ponzi schemer, has apparently committed suicide. This happens to come concurrently with reporting that, surprise, many more people were involved in the giant swindle than Madoff and one or two close associates.

SCOOP: Payback time at LR Airport

Spurred by the Arkansas Times' investigation of Little Rock National Airport spending practices, officials have begun making reimbursements for questionable past expenses.

Time to bake

Got a recipe to share? Send it in... and check out Kat's recipe for Banana Nut Bread while you're at it.

Locking up Petrino

As predicted a few days ago, a good season and a coveted coaching opening in Florida seem likely to give Bobby Petrino a fat new contract to coach Razorback football.

Saturday night line PETRINO UPDATE

The line is open. But perhaps you'd be interested in some back-and-forth earlier today on Twitter relative to the current front-runner for top time-waster of the session, the legislation to change the nickname of Arkansas back to Land of Opportunity.

As the Little Rock Airport turns

Two small things about Noel Oman's article in the Democrat-Gazette today following our further disclosures about questionable expenditures at Little Rock National Airport: 1.

Save jobs, not money

The Postal Service is studying closure of a Texarkana mail facility in the name of efficiency.

Will it really get better?

When anti-gay bullies, including in Congress, are able to force censorship of an art exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, it is hard to be sanguine about the country's commitment to protection of the sexual minority, including children in the schools.

The line is yours

Over to you. In closing: * Good thing for President Obama, I'd guess, that Michael Bloomberg has definitely ruled out a presidential run.

Walmart's way to New York

For a slow morning: The New York Times looks ahead to Walmart's latest effort to enter New York city.

Monday: Help 'forgotten angels'

The Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary is having its annual Christmas Coffee & Brunch at 10:30 a.m. at the Governor's Mansion.

Levon hospitalized

Levon Helm is hospitalized in New York City after complications from a cold. He's expected to make a full recovery

Judge strikes down health law provision

A federaljudge has struck down a key portion of the health care law, as had been expected from his earlier comments.

OA: Better than The New Yorker

A magazine website survey of the 20 best magazines in the U.S. ranks the Oxford American at No. 5, one spot ahead of The New Yorker.

The caged bird sings

Former North Little Rock Alderman Cary Gaines is testifying against his former pal, Alderman Sam Baggett, as Baggett's trial continues today in federal court.

A tribute to Portis

In advance of the Coens' film adaptation of "True Grit," Charles Portis gets a loving tribute in the New York Times Magazine.

Did Johnny Cash crush on a male Canadian crooner?

L.A. Weekly insinuates that Johnny Cash had a crush on Canadian balladeer Sam Hall.

Stabbing in River Market

A man was stabbed in the River Market this morning, around 11 a.m. or so, in what appears to have been an unprovoked assault.

Entergy overcharges, FERC says

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling has found that the Entergy Corp. sold cheaper power to other commercial customers, leaving retail customers of its operating companies in four states, including Entergy Arkansas, to pay higher rates.

'Pot-bellied' robbery suspect arrested

Remember the robbery of the Arvest branch at Capitol and Broadway last Thursday, in which the suspect was described as a balding, pot-bellied white man, aged in his 40s or 50s?

A new tax for NWA

It is fair to say, I think, that the northwest corner of Arkansas is the hottest of hotbeds for legislative sentiment in favor of tax cutting and government starvation.

Kevin Kerby makes Yahoo! Sports

Did Kevin Kerby try to sway Cliff Lee's big decision with coffee?

Malzahn to stay at Auburn

Or so Fox says here.

Lobbyists circle on mental treatment

The legislative council's joint rules committee will convene tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. to review new state rules governing reimbursement procedures for organizations that provide residential care for the mentally ill. You may recall in years past that we learned Arkansas spent an extraordinarily disproportionate amount, around $250 million a year on residential treatment, in part because of the lobbying influence of the industry.

Looking for Mr. Goodbrew

For root beer aficionados like myself, finding Arkansas-born brews isn't easy. Three places to get that perfect frosted mug beverage... and your chance to share more.

Sierra Club sues EPA over clean air plan

The Sierra Club has sued the Environmental Protection Agency for dragging its feet on approving the state's clean air plan.

Airport reimbursements mount

Ron Mathieu, executive director of the Little Rock National Airport, has now reimbursed the airport for more than $3,000 in questionable expense account charges.

The line is open

Take it away. One last note: * The Game and Fish Commission takes note that former commissioner Sheffield Nelson isn't as open to questioning about his lawsuit over commision practices as he's represented in press interviews.

Womack: I'm a wackjob, too

The far right has always been a little distrustful of Steve Womack, the new Republican congressman from the 3rd District.

American exceptionalism: True or false?

John Brummett engages a topic this morning that's been on my mind a bit since rising Congressman Tim Griffin actually invoked the words American exceptionalism in a campaign release earlier this year.

A closer look at charter schools

More hopeful news from yesterday's state Board of Education meeting. Even the strongest charter school advocates on the Board — such as Naccaman Williams, who's paid in private life by the Waltons to advance the charter school agenda through their billion-dollar foundation, and Vicki Saviers, who helped establish the eStem charter school — were doubtful about expansion of an Osceola charter school and tabled the proposal.

Legal scholars rip health ruling

OK, the legal scholars quoted here are not pizza makers like Mark Darr, but they are conservatives and they think the ethically conflicted Republican federal judge who ruled the health reform law unconstitutional was totally screwed up in his reasoning.

Bobby Petrino's $25 million deal

A reader asked for a copy of Bobby Petrino's new seven-year deal to coach the Razorback football team.

Mental health care update

I mentioned yesterday some rumbling about possible resistance to new rules aimed at improving care and controlling costs for the state's huge outlay on residential mental health treatment.

Happy holidays, you all

The war on Christmas. It's getting brutal out there.

Forest Heights fire run

Smoke but no fire was the bottom line on an alarm about 9:15 a.m. this morning at Forest Heights Middle School at Evergreen and University.

117 neglected horses reported at Ark. farm

Acting at the request of the Fulton County sheriff, the ASPCA says it has stepped in to provide caRE TO 117 neglected horses on the farm of a horse dealer near Viola.

Warhol to cut off Smithsonian

The late artist's foundation is disgusted by the Smithsonian's censorship.

Eldridge confirmed as U.S. attorney

Conner Eldridge of Arkadelphia has been confirmed by the Senate as U.S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas.

Police chase lands 3 burglary suspects

Cue the movie camera: A 16-year-old drove home from school about 10:15 a.m. this morning to find a car in his family's garage on Talais Drive off Chenal Parkway.

Slices of sweetness

Scrumdiliumptious brings back the old fashioned ice cream parlor with unique and entertaining twists.

Beth Ditto to go solo

Beth Ditto's set to go solo next month with a four-track EP produced by London production duo Simian Mobile Disco.

The night is young

But I need to get away early to get in good order to the special early showing of "True Grit" at Rave tonight.

Game and Fish search narrows to four

The Game and Fish Commission has narrowed its search for a director to four finalists, including interim director Loren Hitchcock.Details follow:

Welcome to China

From D-G: The Air Force says it is blocking computer access to The New York Times and other media sites that have published sensitive diplomatic documents released by the Internet site WikiLeaks.

Cliff Lee's decision: Family before money

Lots of reporting today about pitcher Cliff Lee's decision to leave $30 million on the table to return to Philadelphia, bypassing offers from Texas and New York.

Check out your neighborhood

Love the internets. Lots of reporting on the findings of the Census Bureau's rolling five-year survey of characteristics of Ameriican households.

LR and the C of C: Figures lie, etc.

The Democrat-Gazette reporter, in covering Little Rock city budget talks today, duly recorded Mayor Mark Stodola's rote defense of the $225,000 paid in corporate welfare by taxpayers and water customers to subsidize the top-secret economic development activities of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The rich get richer, naturally

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has done an analysis of the impact of proposed legislation to eliminate the state capital gains tax.

Pulaski district on the audit carpet

Pulaski County School District officials are getting a grilling before legislative audit this morning. You can get some of the flavor from tweets by district gadfly Dawn Jackson.

First trailer for Malick's 'Tree of Life' released

And all the film geeks say: "Duuude." The female lead, Jessica Chastain, also co-stars in Jeff Nichols new film.

Nothing like a little bipartisanship

So, OK, President Obama gave the Republicans their tax cuts and in the Senate today Democrats approved them today.
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