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December 19, 2013

Vol 40 • No 16

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Big Ideas for Arkansas 2013

Suggestions on how to make the state a better place to live

FOCC: Brad Cushman

On the "Face to Face" exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Hye-Young Go, in Russellville

At the River Valley Arts Center.

Thursday: Hornucopia, Bridge Lighting Ceremony, 'Because of Winn Dixie' and more

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of "Because of Winn Dixie" continues this week.

Arkansas 2013 entertainment from A-Z

Our annual year-end roundup.

Vacation catchup

Just back from a long vacation, I don't feel my usual dislocation. Internet connections were sketchy, but I read the Arkansas Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and stayed up with e-mail.

Votes count

The 6.1 percent turnout for the $73.5 million bond issue to renovate Robinson Center resulted in 5,183 votes supporting the project. In effect, each vote for the project supported the issuance of over $14,000 in bonds.

It was a good week for University of Arkansas officials under fire

It was also a good week for a bipartisan budget deal and Mark Martin. It was a bad week for Mark Darr and Arkansas State football.

Here, too

The world, through the magic of television, saw the bizarre incident at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela: A supposed interpreter for the deaf stood next to President Obama and other world leaders as each delivered a eulogy.


The Bentonville Tigers celebrate their 39-28 victory over the Cabot Panthers in the Arkansas Class 7A high school championship football game last Friday at War Memorial Stadium.

'The Desolation of Smaug' forgets story in quest for everything else

It's missing magic.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to Verizon Arena

Also, the 103.7 Buzz Christmas Celebrity Karaoke, AETN's Roaring '20s Cocktail Reception, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Holiday Fantasy at Robinson Center Music Hall, Zodiac with DJ Rap at Verizon, Smoke Up Johnny and The Canehill Engagement at White Water Tavern and the 33rd Nightflying Anniversary Party at Stickyz.

Teacher Nicholas Seward's 3D printer designs are pushing the tech envelope

And helping stretch young minds.

Where in Arkansas collection

All of this year's answers.

Populist Huckabee may turn off bucks

Everyone but Mike Huckabee seems to have forgotten that he finished second in the 2008 Republican presidential sweepstakes, ahead of Mitt Romney, and most people, notably excepting Huckabee himself, are now writing him off as an anachronism.

Overcoming playing down to the cupcakes

It's at least anecdotal evidence that Arkansas basketball is on a meaningful upswing, in this columnist's opinion, that a 29-point demolition of a MEAC school is your low point to date.

The activist pope

Somewhere in the midst of an avalanche of sickening revelations about child sex abuse by Catholic clergy it occurred to me that if the Vatican sought an appropriate penance for its sins, it would go mute on issues of sexual morality for about 100 years.

Butterball up creek

"A 26-year-old North Little Rock man who told police he abandoned a woman 'butterball naked' outside an empty house after breaking a promise to pay her for sex was sentenced to life in prison Thursday by a jury that convicted him of kidnapping."

Rodney Block at The Joint

White Water hosts Collin vs. Adam.

Samaritans on ice

A final entry from the Icepocalypse Diary 2013, delivered late by a Deputy Observer and thus after our press time last week.

The 3 Best: Pancakes

Until it becomes socially acceptable to eat actual cake for breakfast, we’ll just have to settle for pancakes instead. Here are our favorites.

Lies at the University of Arkansas: Chancellor Gearhart's water gets hotter

Evidence has long been overwhelming that Chancellor David Gearhart and the University of Arkansas propaganda apparatus have been, at least, disingenuous in response to the financial disaster in the Advancement Division and fired spokesman John Diamond's assertion that Chancellor David Gearhart was resista

#Republicanhypocrisy in Mark Darr cheating case

For the initiated, the headline mimics a Twitter "hashtag" by which the pound sign is used to mark recurring themes for ready reference for Twitter followers interested in specific subjects.

Friday To-Do: Zodiac: Fuzzy Toys Edition with Raydar & Shaolin

Raydar & Shaolin perform Friday at Revolution.

Duck Dynasty: Homophobia is one thing, pure ignorance is another

The interview by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has set off a tempest. His homophobic remarks — comparing being gay with bestiality — got him suspended by A&E. But let's bend way over backward and give his perverse religious views some reason for 

Arkansas PSC Chair Colette Honorable emerges as potential FERC leader

I'd mentioned some weeks ago that the name of Colette Honorable, chair of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, had been floated as a potential appointee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Donuts worth a drive

An Eat Arkansas writer's pastry expertise is put to the test.

Blake Anderson new football coach at Arkansas State

Terry Mohajir, the athletic director at Arkansas State, has announced via Twitter and Facebook that Blake Anderson is the new football coach at ASU.

New Mexico court approves same-sex marriages

There are now 17 states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality. The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstiutional under the state's constitutional equal protection provision to deny marriage licenses to people of the same sex.

Is Arkansas a land of opportunity for Democrats?

Stuart Rothenberg poses the question above in an article for Roll Call. Can Democrats stop their Southern bleeding here?

University of Arkansas names new PR chief

The University of Arkansas has named Laura Jacobs as its new associate vice chancellor of university relations.

The bright lights open line

I'm out early for a family commitment. Remember that they'll turn on the River Lights tonight, an Entergy-government project to festoon downtown bridges with LED lighting, and former President Clinton will be on hand.

Clarification: There's still a chance for Fox's 'Us and Them'

In our annual A-Z roundup of Arkansas-related pop culture news from the year, I made an error in the item about Ashlie Atkinson and the status of the Fox show "Us and Them," in which she stars.

Friday: Collin vs. Adam, Doe Boi and more

Collin vs. Adam performs at White Water Tavern Friday.

Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit challenging Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage, but won't enjoin ban

At this moment, the order above filed today by Pulaski Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is all I know about action in the lawsuit filed by many same-sex couples seeking to strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Saturday: Eric Sommer at Midtown

Eric Sommer plays at Midtown Saturday.

15-year sentence in Little Rock's first federal sex trafficking case

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer's officer has announced that a Little Rock pimp got a 15-year sentence in what it has described as the first sex trafficking case in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The House 'shrunken heart' caucus

It's a tale perfectly timed for Christmas, when people rouse themselves to drop a few alms in a Salvation Army bucket and warm themselves in the glow of the charitable impulse for 12 months until another bell rings for help for the year-round forgotten.

Daughter charged with killing mom outside Searcy retail store

The Democrat-Gazette's Gavin Lesnick reports this morning the arrest of a Searcy woman after a car choose in the shooting death of her mother after she finished work early this morning at a Big Lots store in Searcy.

Saturday: Holiday Celebration, Trey Hawkins, Hogs at Verizon

Trey Hawkins Band plays at Revolution Friday.

More UA trickery: Conflation of two potential criminal acts

The University of Arkansas is conflating two separate criminal issues in Gearhartgate. Plus, a PR strategy for the UA. As if.

Arkansas unemployment rate stays at 7.5 percent in November

No change in the unemployment rate in Arkansas between October and November. It's still at 7.5 percent, though the national rate dropped from 7.3 to 7 percent.

Duck Dynasty and its constitutionally ignorant fans

Here's another one I probably should pass. But ....

Two new Warhols for Crystal Bridges

Martha Southerland donates an early work by her Carnegie Institute classmate.

What is it about Republican skulduggery and Krispy Kreme

You remember, don't you, the clandestine meeting at a Little Rock Krispy Kreme when one Republican candidate seemed to have tried to muscle another Republican candidate out of the state treasurer's race over video of a late-night visit to the state Capitol?

Protest of gay teacher forced out at Catholic high school

No, the headline doesn't relate to local events. It is only similar to the story about the forced resignation of Mount St. Mary Academy English teacher Tippi McCullough after she married Barbara Mariani.

First draft of history: Reference to Gearhart and document edited from final report

I wrote this morning about evidence in Fayetteville Prosecutor D

A “Face to Face” encounter with Curtis Finch Jr.

A walk through his collection of artists' self-portraits at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Another teacher leaves Mount St. Mary Academy

At the end of the school semester Friday, Mount St. Mary Academy lost another teacher as an outgrowth of the forced resignation of English teacher Tippi McCullough after she married her long-time same sex partner, Barbara Mariani.

The holiday eve open line

It's the Friday before Christmas and that generally signals and near-instant decline in news, sometimes until after Jan. 1.

The 5 Best Bites of 2013

We’ve been fortunate to sample many delightful dishes this year, and we’ve choked down our share of less than stellar meals as well. But there are always those dishes that stand out in our minds, the food that lingers around in those pleasure centers of the brain, the flavors that we just can’t seem to stop thinking about. And so, here we present our 5 Best Bites of 2013.

Saturday To-Do: Smoke Up Johnny, The Canehill Engagment

Smoke Up Johnny plays at White Water Tavern Saturday.

The Darr Duck Dynasty Edition

Mark Darr and hypocrisy of Arkansas Republicans, the latest on the University of Arkansas scandal, new polling on races for Senate and governor, "Duck Dynasty" and another teacher departing Mount St. Mary's because of the school's policies and culture — all covered this week.

Food Feedback Friday: Midnight snack edition

Your turn. Feedback.

Arkansas judicial candidates caught by Republican Senate blockade

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal courts, sends word that Republican obstructionism has blocked a group of non-controversial federal judge nominees, including two from Arkansas.

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr: Over his head in a shallow pool. The office should be abolished

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning reported on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's unhappy conversation with a legislative auditor over the findings that he'd abused his office expense account by charging for personal travel, not allowed by the Arkansas Constitution.

Looking for upward mobility? Don't look to Dixie. Little Rock ranks low

Norma Bates directs my attention to Salon and a fine article on income inequality. More specifically, it focuses on how income inequality disproportionately afflicts Southern states.

Change in leadership at University of Arkansas Press

A friend reports that Lawrence Malley has resigned as director of the University of Arkansas Press.

Monday To-Do: Nightflying 33rd Anniversary Party

Stickyz hosts the Nightflying 33rd Anniversary Party Monday night.

Another racial history lesson for Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson

The hits keep coming on Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, this time from New York Times columnist Charles Blow, a black man who grew up about 50 miles from Robertson's northern Louisiana home.

Mark Darr's full whine about following the law

I wrote earlier about Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's petulant whining to state auditors after they finally caught him bilking taxpayers by expense claims to which he was not entitled.

The sodden open line

I'm whistling "Louisiana 1927" as I take a break from ark building to throw open an evening line.

Bill Clinton nourishes his Arkansas roots to help Democrats in 2014

The New York Times' Jonathan Martin writes at length for the big Sunday paper about the amount of time Bill Clinton is spending in Arkansas and the attention he's giving to helping old political friends like Mike Ross, the Democratic candidate for governor, and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

Foxy Huckabee up to 50-50 on a 2016 presidential bid; walks the line on Duck Dynasty

Fox News invited Fox talker Mike Huckabee on TV Sunday and he gave them a headline: His chances of running again for president in 2016 are up to 50-50.

Blue Hog joins the battle over love and hate in Harrison, Ark.

Jeff Woodmansee's blog reports at length today on Matt Campbell's latest work. The Blue Hog Report author is representing the man charged with painting over a racially charged billboard in Harrison, Ark, infamous as a former "sundown town," 

The send salutations open line

It is, by my synchronicity with the great sideral movements by which time is generally accorded, now acceptable to acknowledge the advent of Christmas.

Morning report: Dog whistle politics, Pussy Riot released, charter school messaging

As expected, the week starts slowly and likely will get slower. Some items of interest to me:

In Fayetteville: Tony Tiger, Anita Fields

Tony Tiger, as unlikely a name that is, is a member of the Sac and Fox tribe 

Shotgun blast fatal to man found in car


Two killed on Chenal Parkway

This just in from Little Rock police: Officers worked a double-fatality accident at Chenal and Chenal Club.

Mark Darr's part-time job at full-time expense

Blue Hog Report, whose earned the right, provides some commentary on expense- and campaign-account cheat Lt. Gov. Mark Darr.

Sen. Dismang makes a watch list

Governing magazine has included Sen. Jonathan Dismang on its list of 12 state legislators to watch in 2014.

The Obama surge open line, plus lots of gunfire

Airport time. So I'm closing out.

The Christmas Eve morning report: Chocolate and heart-warming photos are among items under the blog tree

I expect light duty on the blog

See the Rothko show for free

A special offer from the Arts Center.

A win for free speech in freeing of Pussy Riot and more from the morning

The shopping is winding down, except perhaps at grocery stores, where throngs are doing last-minute feast preparations.

The all aboard Christmas Eve open line

What can I say? I still hear the bells and love the imagery of Polar Express.

Merry Christmas to all

When your dog is 13 and your children are 28 and 33, early rising on Christmas is a thing of the past.

Gene Lyons: Maybe Duck Dynasty crew should seek out Bill Russell for comment on the happy, singing black folk of Louisiana

Now that I’ve actually seen a few episodes, “Duck Dynasty” is relatively harmless entertainment. Whatever “reality-TV” means, it’s definitely not that.

Walmart pressures employees into political contributions

Walmart gets busted here for essentially bribing employees to make contributions to the company's PAC, by matching their contributions 2-for-1 for favorite charities of the employees.

Speaking of ducks: NY Times speculates on fate of former Peabody Hotel ducks

Amy Chozick, a reporter who covers the Clinton beat for the New York Times, was in Little Rock recently working up a magazine article on Hillary Clinton and her potential presidential candidacy.

The groggy open line

Over to you. 

'Pedestrian culture' clashes with cars in Los Angeles

Deader than a doornail around here this morning, except for continuing cleanup. This caught my attention in the New York Times:

The night after the morning before open line

Sorry to all for lack of activity. The Arkansas Times is closed this week.