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December 21, 2006

Vol 4 • No 49

The 'hospitality' business -- UPDATE

David Koon reports that things weren't so hospitable over at the LR Advertising and Promotion Commission today.

And speaking of sinning

Here the subject is drinking, not gambling. The powers-that-be of the River Market (you know who we mean) are hot to allow street drinking at night in the district, to create a Beale Street-type entertainment zone.

Words

Why do they call it a Dopp kit?

This Modern World

Little change with Cheers

The menu and decor are the same at the downtown Cheers, now under new ownership, but we couldn’t help but notice the distinct lack of competition for tables when we visited on a recent Friday.

Stuck in neutral

With a Democratic governor taking office next month after more than 10 years of a Republican administration, you would think lots of things would change. You would be wrong.

Smart Talk

This week: The Brotherhood; a pig for Christmas; Sunday drinking.

What's cooking/Capsule review, Dec. 21

New wine and cheese bar; update on Ciao Baci

The Observer

Though The Observer can’t take a photo without somehow getting our thumb, the camera strap, or the backside of the lens cap in it, we’re a big fan of capital-A, capital-P Art Photography. What some folks don’t know is that Arkansas was once home to

Editorial cartoon

Till it hurts

I was a grown man and an old man before I really and truly came to believe that at Christmastime it is more blessed to give than to receive. I believe it now. I know that it’s the truth. But there were many years, many Christmases, when I only mouthed the

Orval

Ask us about our governor

If Bill Clinton’s experience is prologue, the media and Mike Huckabee’s opponents will soon give the governor his first measurements for the history books — that is, if he begins to be counted as a serious candidate for president.

No cause for ‘Happyness’

While "The Pursuit of Happyness" is a forgettable piece of tear-jerky fluff, the performance by leading man Will Smith is spare, soulful and mature.

Fill ’er up with ethanol

Gasoline mixed with ethanol is so common in some large cities that it’s sometimes referred to as “summer blend” — the fuel of choice during the hot months when smog is especially troublesome. But it hasn’t even been available in Arkansas — until this

Benny Petrus' bright idea

Benny Petrus has a point, but Mike Beebe is in a box. Petrus, the incoming speaker of the state House of Representatives, says that repealing the sales tax on groceries — Beebe’s centerpiece of a campaign promise — is not the best way to help Arkansas’s w

The week that was Dec. 13-19

It was a good week for: HOUSTON NUTT. No matter what fans think, Frank Broyles likes him. He really likes him. The athletic director gave the football coach a new six-year contract at higher pay. Sorry, Mitch.

Ball three, strike two, tax

The new Dickey-Stephens baseball park in North Little Rock apparently will be tax-exempt, which means no taxes will be assessed for support of the schools or other public purposes.

I like Mike

Thank you for noting my support for Mike Beebe. I came early and stayed late!

Calling all bands

Want to bring your band acclaim and a few bookings? Enter the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase contest, scheduled to begin in late January at Sticky Fingerz.

Overreaching

If legislators had been just a shade less grabby, had exercised some mild restraint, they might have gotten away with their use of state funds for local projects indefinitely.

Get in the spirit

As we ride the rough final days into Christmas vacation bliss, let us soothe our wounds and overworked ears not with the soul-sucking sounds of Christmas songs, but with the smoky heat of punk and the riff of a guitar.

So little space

So much to rant about: • The Little Rock Airport Commission. This newspaper, and later the FBI, once gave state Sen. Bill Walker the third-degree for landing the minority contractor’s portion of the Little Rock National Airport concessions contract,

How to help the poor

Judging from all the lamentations about the burden that grocery taxes impose you would assume that the poor are suddenly in fashion and that the state government is going to ride to their rescue.

Music Review

Check that list

As promised, this week I headed into the wilds of West Little Rock on my great Christmas gift hunt.

Cats’ meow

It may seem unusual that a rarely seen band’s Friday appearance at the Revolution Room is the big news this week in local club music, considering this group plays together only once or twice a year.

Tax relief

John Brummett talks to House Speaker Benny Petrus about targeting income tax relief at poor people as an alternative to a grocery tax reduction.

Freedom of information

This could be the start of an important FOI case in Benton County, where an Oklahoma company won a ruling that the Benton County assessor couldn't charge an exorbitant rate to provide real estate assessment information.

Freedom of information

This could be the start of an important FOI case in Benton County, where an Oklahoma company won a ruling that the Benton County assessor couldn't charge an exorbitant rate to provide real estate assessment information.

Call it damp

You know that Craighead County is nominally dry. Alcoholic beverages may not be sold for "profit."

The poor get poorer

A federal education aid program aimed at low-income students favors rich states over poor, such as Arkansas, in distribution.

N.Y. Times weighs in on anticipated films

On "Letters From Iwo Jima," A.O. Scott writes, . . . A few scenes serve as hinges joining this movie to “Flags of Our Fathers.” While “Letters From Iwo Jima” seems to me the more accomplished of the two films — by which I mean that it strikes me as close to perfect — the two enrich each other, and together achieve an extraordinary completeness.

'Little Children'

Todd Field and Kate Winslet talk to Hollywood Reporter in this podcast.  Check it out.

'Children of Men' on NPR

Alfonso Cuaron talks to NPR about his new film.

'Letters from Iwo Jima'

"His latest film, Letters from Iwo Jima parallels his recent Flags of Our Fathers, but it takes audiences to a place that would seem unimaginable for an American director," says Kenneth Turan.  Listen to his review of this film here.

The Year in Movies

NY Magazine film critic David Edelstein elaborates to NPR on his piece in the magazine about the year's best movies.  Listen here. 

Friday

      yuck, except for maybe "The Good Shepherd."

Lobby watch

Rising Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announces that former Sen. Allen Gordon of Morrilton will lobby for the a.g. Sorry.

Convention business

Ron Breeding of KUAR has an interview up with Dan O'Byrne, director of the LR Conventions and Visitors Bureau, about the recent controversy.

Game of the year

You thought it was OhioState v. Michigan? Think again.

The name game

Incoming Rep. Dan Greenberg (R-LR) is already grabbing for headlines, here with a proposed bill to outlaw the naming of public facilities for living people.

Arrest the payday bloodsuckers

Here's the bill filed to make it a crime punishable by a fine of $300  to make a consumer loan with an interest rate over 17 percent. Financial institutions are exempt.

Arrest the payday bloodsuckers

Here's the bill filed to make it a crime punishable by a fine of $300  to make a consumer loan with an interest rate over 17 percent. Financial institutions are exempt.

LR school board wrangling

You have to be an insider to appreciate the following but the LR School Board met tonight to hire a lawyer to represent the board in district employee Karen DeJarnette's appeal of Superintendent Roy Brooks' recommendation that she be fired.

UAMS researchers receive grant to study post-polio syndrome

A team of researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a $25,000 grant to help create a more definitive diagnosis of post-polio syndrome (PPS).

Real jingle bell rock

Word is that the folks who waited too late to get tickets to the sold-out Trans-Siberian Orchestra show Thursday (Dec. 21) at Alltel Arena may get their choice of two shows next year.

Heartland loses

Philadelphians raised $68 million to keep a Thomas Eakins masterpiece depicting an early surgery in Philadelphia.

Issue ads

This court ruling could open the door to still more issue ads by shadowy groups packed with unregulated money.

Manohla Dargis praises 'The Good Shepherd'

Thumbs up to performances by Matt Damon, Michael Gambon, Alec Baldwin and William Hurt.  Here it is.

Philip Martin talks to Robert DeNiro

In today's Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Movie girl spreads cheer for 'Rocky Balboa'

Rumors swirl that "Rocky Balboa" may not be all that bad.  Here's what Stephen Holden of the New York Times has to say, ".

More Top 10's

From Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly1.  Letters from Iwo Jima2.  Borat3.  Pan's Labyrinth4.  Half Nelson5.  The Departed6.  The Death of Mr. Lazarescu7.  The Proposition8.  Old Joy9.  The Queen10.

All sorts of 'Dreamgirls'

talk on Slate today.  Dana Stevens gives her review.  Jody Rosen weighs in on Jennifer Hudson.  Kim Masters handicaps the Oscar race and wonders if "Dreamgirls" will get the snub? 

Green Hollywood

check out this subpage of the Variety.com site.  You watch video of interviews with Al Gore, Robert Redford and others talking about green initiatives.  Way cool. 

Hazardous to your health

Men's Health magazine ranks 100 cities in the U.S. on the health of men and puts San Francisco  No. 1.

A return to Rubinomics?

Paul Krugman says no. As Brad DeLong, a Berkeley economist who served in the Clinton administration, recently wrote on his influential blog: “Rubin and us spearcarriers moved heaven and earth to restore fiscal balance to the American government in order to raise the rate of economic growth.

Do you see what I see?

SHINING IN THE NIGHT: Kavanaugh and Cantrell --Brian Chilson photo

The Arkansas miracle -- more bureaucracy

Roby Brock at Talk Business mines an interesting bit of info out of the employment numbers for November (our emphasis supplied):

The Arkansas miracle -- more bureaucracy

Roby Brock at Talk Business mines an interesting bit of info out of the employment numbers for November (our emphasis supplied):

State senators forecast session

Tonight's edition of "Unconventional Wisdom" features a discussion of the upcoming legislative session with state Sens. Dave Bisbee (R-Rogers), Steve Bryles (D-Blytheville) and Randy Laverty (D-Jasper).

Is Alabama warming to Houston Nutt?

People who know these things are convinced that Houston Nutt, through is agent Jimmy Sexton, has been politicking for the Alabama head coaching vacancy since the Tide fired Mike Shula.

Is Alabama warming to Houston Nutt?

People who know these things are convinced that Houston Nutt, through is agent Jimmy Sexton, has been politicking for the Alabama head coaching vacancy since the Tide fired Mike Shula.

Now they want consensus

Here's a liberal blogger with no use for the Gang of 14 and Republicans (plus their Democrat enablers) who are now extending the hand of Christian fellowship to the new Democratic majority in the Senate.

Looking for a Stocking Stuffer for Your Favorite Drug Dealer?

"Never Get Busted Again"EX-COP PLANS VIDEO ON HOW TO HIDE DRUGSAssociated Press A one-time Texas drug agent described by his former boss as perhaps the best narcotics officer in the country plans to market a how-to video on concealing drugs and fooling police.

Holiday

About to escape for a few days from my day job.  Sadly, I'll be back in the office on Tuesday morning.  Nevertheless, I'm hoping to catch "The Good Shepherd," "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Dreamgirls" this long weekend.  There are still way too many films to see, including "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Little Children," "Volver" and "The Last King of Scotland."  I can understand not getting a shot at "Letters" but the fact that "Little Children," "Volver" and "The Last King of Scotland" haven't screened here, much less made it to theatres is a crying shame.  I'm also annoyed that LR isn't getting "Children of Men" on the 25th.  Kenneth Turan (LA Times) and Dana Stevens (Slate) both had excellent things to say about it.  Imdb.com reported that it opened nationwide, which I'm beginning to understand means "everywhere but Arkansas."   My interest in "The Good German" has faded considerably, which is a bit of a bummer.  It was supposed to open "nationwide" on the 25th as well.  C'est la vie.  Not much else happening for me.  Netflix' slow ass didn't get any of my shipments out before the weekend so I'll have to trot up to the video store and track down "The Proposition," "Heading South" and "Water," which are what I expected to have this weekend.  The end of the year is always a rush, but why?  Perhaps I should chill a bit.Still engaged in Richard Ford's "The Lay of the Land."  Beautiful book that I have not been able to spend much time with (yep, ending sentences with prepositions today).  Perhaps that too will change this weekend.I'll blog throughout the weekend.  P. Martin hinted that his top 10 may appear in the Dem Gaz on the 24th which should provide for some interesting commentary.  Other Top 10's will trickle in, I expect.

Time Magazine Top 10

from Oscarwatch.comTIME Mag Top Ten 1. Letters from Iwo Jima 2.

Sports column: JR and Henry miss Hawgball

J.R. and Henry: Hawgball Missed In the past week or so, we’ve watched games involving the basketball teams of Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.

The Mind of Matt: A holiday stop into Juanita's, and TSO rocks!

Matt Smith and I finally made it to the same concert last night, Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

An acorn of an idea

ACORN has weighed in on the hamburger tax, in light of recent Democrat-Gazette articles about handling of the money.

Ho ho ho

We'll try to keep the blog going the next few days, but -- as with this afternoon -- some interruptions are inevitable.

Budget hidey holes

Brummett warns that today's is a nuts-and-bolts government story, but it's interesting. It's how the Correction Department lards its budget with job positions it never plans to fill.

The payday bloodsuckers

The NY Times today offers an overview of payday lending, banned in 11 states but an increasing scourge in the other 39.

Farm welfare

The Washington Post has a long takeout that says new forces are coming together to change the farm subsidy system.

From the clubhouse

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette continues today in full howl over its discovery of financal problems at the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission.

You're fired

Wisdom from Donald Trump? Maureen Dowd gets some in an exclusive interview.

Commission chair resigns -- UPDATE

A reliable source, quoting city director Stacy Hurst, says restaurateur Mary Beth Ringgold has resigned from the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Time to slow down

I did most of my shopping by the Internet, but a couple stops in WLR and the Heights were unavoidable today.

Time to slow down

I did most of my shopping by the Internet, but a couple stops in WLR and the Heights were unavoidable today.

Check that

All is not right. Scanning the Fox 16 headlines on our home page, I just see that a robber killed a bank teller in the robbery of a Metropolitan branch in WLR today.

Christmas party chatter

Heard over the cocktail weenies: 1) It's never fun to get a colonoscopy. But we hear that the procedure last week with Dr. Dean Kumpuris was even less pleasant than usual.

Christmas party chatter

Heard over the cocktail weenies: 1) It's never fun to get a colonoscopy. But we hear that the procedure last week with Dr. Dean Kumpuris was even less pleasant than usual.

Rich stuff

Frank Rich, good as usual, spoofing Time's choice for person of the year and the failure to hold the incompetents accountable for the disasters in Iraq.

A terrible disease

John Brummett calls it Hogaholism and even winning doesn't seem to be a cure.

Inflating the numbers

I'm surprised the LR edition of the Democrat-Gazette didn't carry an interesting article in the NW edition about the imprecision, to put it kindly, of estimates of economic impact of tourist events such as the Bikes, Blues and BBQ festival in Fayetteville.

Compassionate conservatives

A major article in the NY Times magazine spots a political trend -- a kinder, gentler Republican party when it comes to criminals.

Stodola weighs in -- UPDATE

Albert Dentay notes this morning that incoming Mayor Mark Stodola perhaps didn't come up with the perfect sound bite for today's Democrat-Gazette article on the news we posted yesterday of Mary Beth Ringgold's resignation as chair of the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Stodola weighs in -- UPDATE

Albert Dentay notes this morning that incoming Mayor Mark Stodola perhaps didn't come up with the perfect sound bite for today's Democrat-Gazette article on the news we posted yesterday of Mary Beth Ringgold's resignation as chair of the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Philip Martin's Top 10

In today's Dem-Gaz. 1.  The Departed 2.  Babel 3.

NY Times film critics offer Top 10's

Manohla Dargis: 1) Army of Shadows; 2) Letters from Iwo Jima; 3) Inland Empire; 4) Our Daily Bread; 5) L'Enfant; 6) Children of Men; 7) Three Times; 8) Miami Vice; 9) Brand Upon the Brain!; 10) Borat A.O. Scott: 1) Letters from Iwo Jima; 2) Pan's Labyrinth; 3) L'Enfant; 4) Days of Glory; 5) Little Miss Sunshine; 6) Three Times; 7) 51 Birch Street; 8) Volver; 9) Little Children; 10) A Prairie Home Companion; 11) (tie) The Aura; Children of Men; The Death of Mr. Lazarescu; Fast Food Nation; Flags of Our Fathers; Half Nelson; Iraq in Fragments; Marie Antionette; Our Brand is Crisis; The Queen; Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.

Florida Film Critics: "The Departed"

from Oscarwatch.com Florida Film Critics Best Picture: The Departed Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland Best Actress: Helen Mirren, The Queen Best Supporting Actor: Jack Nicholson, The Departed Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted): William Monahan, The Departed Best Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro, Pan's Labyrinth Best Foreign-Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth Best Animated Film: Monster House Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth Pauline Kael Breakout Award: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Debating movies at Trio's

It was a leisurely Christmas Eve eve. I caught "The Proposition" (certain to make my Top 10 - one of the best westerns on a long, long time) and "David Chappelle's Block Party" (a riot with some sick tunes).  Then I headed to Trio's for dinner where the owner joined us and we debated movies (with tequila) for well over an hour.  My moviegoing friend was there, annoyed as all hell when I suggested that "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Come Early Morning" might!

Cate Blanchett is everywhere!

On NPR. 

Charlie Rose

is uploading his shows on his website.  Check out recent shows with Clive Owen, Ed Norton, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood and the Big Three: Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men") and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel").

Christmas Day

Go!

Chimney watch

Given the limits of the flue, Santa probably will choose the garage door over the chimney, but coming he is. An open line Christmas Eve.

How's this for a third party

Since many Republicans have turned out to be merely hypocrites, not purely hateful, when it comes to gay people -- Condoleezza's friends, Mary Cheney, etc. -- Brummett proposes a third party movement for the true believers, to be called the American Christian Nation Party.

From the Christmas day mailbag

So far so good at our house. I even got a rainy walk in to prepare for the feast (roast beef, not turkey here).

Stocking stuffer

Sorry about the poor photography. A better version would show that this key chain has a countdown window, to the second, of the Bush term of office.

Stocking stuffer

Sorry about the poor photography. A better version would show that this key chain has a countdown window, to the second, of the Bush term of office.

It's all good

Brummett beholds today this amazing thing -- the dominant pre-legislative session debate is the best way to provide tax relief to lower income people.

Faith politics

NY Times features a political consultant, Mara Vanderslice, helping Democrats reach evangelical voters. Democratic officials in several states said Ms. Vanderslice and her business partner, Eric Sapp, pushed sometimes reluctant Democrats to speak publicly, early and in detail about the religious underpinnings of their policy views.

L.A. Times talks with Matt Damon

star of "The Good Shepherd."  P.S.  This is one of the year's best films. 

Tracking Top 10's

Movie City News is tracking all of the Top 10's.  You can view them individually or in their combined chart.  Here are some interesting lists: David Sterritt, National Society of Film Critics

And so this is Christmas

Very enjoyable Christmas day.  Good food, nice gifts, great people.  Spent the afternoon with my grandfather and my great-grandmother.  Turns out my grandfather reads my reviews in the AR Times.  Who knew?  Didn't see anything yesterday, but I have "Dreamgirls" on my radar for today if my schedule allows (I'm back to my day job).  I saw "We Are Marshall" on Christmas Eve.  Not good, but not bad either.  It's an interesting story (I'll pass along some background from someone else who saw it) with a good cast (it currently has a 46% Cream of the Crop rating on rottentomatoes.com).

Triple murder in Fort Smith

Follow this link to the AP story.

Moonie report

Newspaper junkies might like to read another throw-down on the Moonie Washington Times by another former staffer.

Lobby watch

Add another legislator to the lobbyist ranks, sounds like. Outgoing state Rep. Marvin Childers still hasn't returned our call, but we're in receipt of further indications today that, as we reported earlier, he's in line to succeed Morril Harriman as the lead lobbyist for the Poultry Federation.

Nazi reference II

As promised a couple of days ago, here's a link to the comment by Gov. Mike Huckabee in which he draws a parallel between his efforts as governor and that of Oskar Schindler, the German who saved Jews from Nazi death camps.

Reward doubled

Metropolitan National Bank has announced it has doubled -- to $50,000 -- the reward for information leading to the arrest of the robber who killed teller Jim Garison (pictured during a vacation to Yellowstone Park) in a robbery of the Rodney Parham branch bank last Saturday.

New Sean Rock vidio on youtube.com

Roland Gladden, the Times' resident McG, has a new music video on youtube featuring local singer-songwriter Sean Rock and his song "Kennedy."

Zoo has new cubs

The Little Rock Zoo has two new additions, a pair of baby sloth bears born to their resident sloth bear Nocona on Dec. 21, according the Susan Altrui, the zoo's director of marketing.

Big local show Wednesday starting Cooper's Orbit

Make plans now to check out a big Sticky Fingerz show on Wednesday, Dec. 27, with Cooper's Orbit, and Stephen Rock will be the opening act.

Big local show Wednesday starting Cooper's Orbit

Make plans now to check out a big Sticky Fingerz show on Wednesday, Dec. 27, with Cooper's Orbit, and Stephen Rock will be the opening act.

Washington regional announces new board members

The new members are (in alpha order) Dan Ferritor, Tim Helder and Anthony Hui, M.D.

The year in food

Gov. Mike Huckabee gets a kind word for his fitness efforts in this NY Times review.

Bank robbery arrests

The police have updated the story on the chase of bank robbery suspects. News release on the jump.

My Favorite Lawsuit Of The Year (and its X-rated !)

  This is great -- an X-rated lawsuit involving the U.S. Seanate ---and....a Little Rock law professor.

Sex on Capitol Hill

Was a UALR law prof's decision to file a lawsuit over a former girl pal's blog containing explicit details of his sex life one of the dumbest decisions, PR-wise, ever made?

He likes Huck

Daily Kos again today suggests Gov. Mike Huckabee is a breakout Republican candidate in 2008 on account of his moderation on some issues.

Can 'Dreamgirls' win?

Ask Tom O'Neil of the L.A. Times.  My response: No.  It's not as good as the other frontrunners: "The Departed" or "The Queen."  And it's lagging behind "Letters from Iwo Jima" in critical acclaim.  Nevertheless, his analysis is worth reading more because it's rather UNbiased (a past problem for the LA Times when it comes to this film and for O'Neil who just ga-ga for Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" as well as "Dreamgirls").

More "Dreamgirls"

Here's an LA Times story on the journey from stage to screen.  And on the choreography of the film. 

'Notes on a Scandal'

Manohla Dargis seems a bit conflicted with it.  One has to wonder if the plot, which stinks of Mary Kay Latourneau, makes it almost impossible to love?  It's got a 90% Cream of the Crop rating on rottentomatoes.com.

Catching up

I saw "Dreamgirls" yesterday and I'm still getting my head around it.  I didn't like it nearly as much as my moviegoing friend.  It's not that it's a bad movie, it's not.  There's very little reason to critique Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy.  They're both fabulous.  Beyonce holds her own opposite Jamie Foxx.  The music is great (thanks in large part to Hudson), but there's nothing in between.  A lot of glimmer and glam, but little substance.  The plot is underdeveloped, a problem of writing and directing.  I mentioned that I saw "We are Marshall," but I also gave in and saw "Rocky Balboa."  Well, after the first hour or so of Rocky talking about I'm not sure what, it turned into a rather pleasant film (which is to mean that the training montage and the actual fight were well choreographed).  It's no "Rocky" but even that "Rocky," which was listed on the National Film Registry this week, wasn't that good (at least not as good as "Taxi Driver").  Rocky had one last fight in him.  But only one.  Thankfully, this franchise has come to an end.

My 'Sherrybaby'

Arrives on Friday at Market Street Cinema.  Here's A.O.Scott's review of the film. 

New reading

Make this an open line. But note that this week's Arkansas Times is now on the web and you can click to any of the features I'll mention on the left rail.

Birth of Madero infant lifts St. Joseph’s to 1,000-baby milestone

Healthcare professionals at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center, the second oldest hospital in Arkansas, have been providing care for area residents since 1888.
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