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December 30, 2010

Vol 37 • No 17

Read the print version

2010: Best and Worst

There was the summer from hell ... and then things got worse

Happy New Year — here's to your health!

The New Year brings activation of some significant portions of the new health care legislation.

Arkansan of the Year

I repeat my call for reader contributions to our list of notable Arkansans in our Arkansan of the Year issue scheduled Jan. 20.

Add Arkansas to this list

The New York Times today says at least six states will consider legislation this year that mirrors the Arizona effort to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

Blackbirds dead, not singing, in the night

The state Game and Fish Commission reports dozens of blackbirds falling dead from the sky over Beebe on New Year's Eve.

The line is open

Fire away b

Squabbling in Saline County

Jason Tolbert rounds up a little local dispute in Saline County, where Circuit Judge Grisham Phillips refused to swear in the new circuit clerk, Dennis Milligan..

Hillcrest's swinging bridge

Leslie Peacock's Eye Candy blog reported recently on a piece of public art that emerged recently on the piers of the former suspension bridge that once spanned the forested depths of Hillcrest's Allsopp Park.

Nelson talks gas severance tax

Sheffield Nelson, who jump-started the legislation that increased the state severance tax on natural gas, talks to Rob Moritz of Stephens Media about his growing inclination to start an initiative campaign to increase the tax so that it will at least cover the cost of damage drilling rigs are doing to state roads.

Predictions for a momentous year

If John Brummett's predictions for 2011 hold true, it will be something of a momentous year, if not necessarily one to celebrate.

Prisoners in the City Hall 'hood

News comes from the Downtown Neighborhood Association that the feds are proposing a new site for what sounds like a halfway house for federal convicts.

Sunday thoughts here

The line is open.

Wanted: More guns on campus UPDATE

A pro-gun group is up in arms so to speak because some Arkansas colleges prohibit students from carrying concealed weapons on campus.

Health care: the second round

Republicans are spoiling to begin holding House votes to repeal or cripple the landmark health legislation.

An autopsy of an Iraq image

Want something to read? Try Peter Maass' reconstruction in the New Yorker of the most famous image of the war in Iraq — the toppling of a massive statue of Saddam Hussein after troopers rolled into Baghdad.

City board bows to Hogs

The Little Rock Board of Directors will meet at 6 p.m. tonight rather than Tuesday so as not to conflict with the Sugar Bowl.

City opposes halfway house

The city planning staff opposes conversion of a building at 615 W. Markham Street a block west of City Hall, for use as a halfway house for federal convicts making a transition back to the free world.

Are women artists as good as men?

Of course they are, but you can get work by women cheaper.

Mr. Griffin goes to Washington

Tim Griffin has been tweeting regularly about his ascension to Congress representing the 2nd District.

Breaking blackbird news

From NBC: Ark birds died mid-air due to "multiple blunt trauma to their vital organs," preliminary autopsy results show, state veterinarian tells NBC Some 5,000 redwing blackbirds fell dead from the sky over Beebe New Year's Eve.

Drive-by paintball shootings

Little Rock police report a rash of paintball shootings, two from a light-colored SUV. A 59-year-old woman was struck in the eye by a paintball fired along Baseline Road about 6 p.m.

Is Texas the new Ireland?

I pose the question because the Celtic Tiger is pretty much a bedraggled pussy cat now.

Prison proposals come tomorrow

The results of a year of study of the Arkansas correction system and recommendations from a working group will be announced at 10 a.m. tomorrow by Gov. Mike Beebe and others.

Monday, Monday

The line is open. How'd your working year start?

Watch: Ear Fear's 'Facebook Fraud'

Ear Fear start the New Year out right with another high concept, low budget video.

Thanks a heap, Mike

Does Mike Beebe give a crap about the political shape of Arkansas in the future after his governorship? Some.

Argenta Restaurant Week begins again

The umpteenth semi-annual Argenta Restaurant Week kicks off next Monday and runs through the 22nd (which makes it more than a week, but who's complaining?).

Why birds matter

The head of the National Audubon Society explains why international attention has turned to the dropping dead blackbirds of Beebe, as well as the oil-soaked birds of the Gulf of Mexico.

Charles Portis examined

Today's reading: Charles Portis fans old and new should enjoy this extensive biography/critical analysis, including healthy references from some of his lesser-known work.

Bourbon Street beat

Thanks to Scott Faldon for directing me to this webcam of Bourbon Street (rain-wet and quiet at this hour).

Arkansas hits the Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cDead Birds Drop From Arkansas Skywww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook Jon Stewart and the Daily Show returned from holiday hiatus last night and first up was Arkansas, as this year's "leading exporter of bat-bleep crazy."

Government by The Book

David Barton, the bogus Texas historian who makes a living giving speeches about our Christian nation, has a return engagement in Arkansas.

Blackbird watch

Interesting note in Baton Rouge newspaper's coverage of mass blackbird deaths Monday in Louisiana: USGS spokesman Paul Slota said Monday afternoon he was unaware of the mass deaths in Louisiana, but he expects bird samples taken from the Arkansas occurrence on New Year’s Eve to arrive Tuesday in Wisconsin.

Congressional hypocrisy watch

House Republicans have created a budget czar in Paul Ryan and will use a procedural dodge to adopt a budget, a procedure Republicans decried when Democrats tried to use it last year.

You think we don't need the ERA?

Think again. Justice Antonin Scalia (no longer a right-wing outlier on the Supreme Court but now a frequent part of a ruling majority) thinks the Constitution's equal protection clause does not prohibit discrimination against women (or, by extension, any number of other abused classes to which it has been applied.)

State revenue still moving up

The state revenue report for December showed income up over the same month last year, though below forecast because a drop in corporate income taxes and increase in corporate tax refunds.

Alleged bombmaker in Ark. jail

Talking Points Memo speaks with friends of Mark Krause, accused of making a soda can bomb left at an Arkansas polling place, who's being held in the Washington County Jail in Fayetteville pending a federal court detention hearing Thursday.l

Proposals for Arkansas prison reform

The Pew study on Arkansas's correction system was unveiled this morning by Gov. Mike Beebe and his working group.

Lincoln gives papers to Butler Center UPDATE

Blanche Lincoln is giving her senatorial papers to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studiesat of the Central Arkansas Library System.

Briefs set for West Memphis Three hearing

Lawyers for the West Memphis Three appeared before a judge in Jonesboro today to set a briefing schedule for the hearing ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court on whether the three men deserve new trials in the killings of three West Memphis children in 1993.

Gov. Beebe throws a party

Still time to buy tickets to Gov. Mike Beebe's second inaugural festivities next week. (But wait.

Enterprise commander loses job

The breaking news is that Owen Honors, the commander of the carrier Enterprise, will permanently lose his job over the sophomoric videos he produced several years ago for showing to the 6,000 people on board the nuclear-powered vessel.

Home cookin' at Eunice's

A good plate lunch can be the difference between a good afternoon and a strung-out, digestively rugged one.

Fourth death in New Year's Eve tornado

A fourth person, a 95-year-old woman, has died from injuries in last Friday's tornado that ripped through the rural Washington County community of Cincinnati.

Democrats rebound with independents

The heavy turn of independents to Republicans in 2010 was just a blip, not a movement, this polltaker indicates.

Shane Broadway lands state job

Gov. Mike Beebe's help couldn't get Sen. Shane Broadway elected lieutenant governor, but he ends up with a much more lucrative job and I doubt Beebe was a bad reference.

Halfway house plan shows LR priorities

Kathy Wells of the Downtown Neighborhood Association has gotten some answers from the GEO Group about the private contractor's proposal to put a halfway house for federal convicts in a former office building on West Markham Street a block west of City Hall.

The Sugar Bowl open line

It's Tuesday and I presume computer time will be down some tonight. They tell me there's a football game in New Orleans.

Child porn, armored car robbery charges

Late news from the U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock, two indicments: * Searcy banker Tom Mueller was indicted for possession of child pornography.

Death to death panels

Republican sloganeering wins again. The Obama administration is caving on Medicare regulations that provide for coverage of end-of-life counseling as part of annual physical exams.

Dead birds — again

Dead birds falling from the sky. It happened again Tuesday, in Sweden.

Editing Huck Finn

A publisher is bringing out a version of Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" with the word "slave" replacing 219 uses of the word "nigger" and Indian replacing "Injun."

Jeannie Burlsworth: taking names

Jeannie Burlsworth, leader of Secure Arkansas and the Foil Hat Society, has requested an electronic copy of the names of all state employees, the agency where they work, their job titles and their pay.

Blytheville plant announces expansion

Aviation Repair Technologies in Blytheville announced today its long-discussed expansion, said to be a $10 million investment that will employ an additional 300 people doing aicraft maintenance work.

Michelle Bachmann for president

Yes!

Day of the doughnut

I have been challenged... to find the best doughnut in Arkansas. This shouldn't be too hard, right?

See images from new Jeff Nichols' flick

Some nice shots, via Collider, of Jeff Nichols' new movie, "Take Shelter," which is set to debut at Sundance in a couple of weeks.

Sneak peek of Mary Lambert's coming masterpiece

I trust you're all Xing out the days on the calendar in anticipation of "Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid," Helena native Mary Lambert's monster mash for SyFy.

Looking to the legislature — LIVE

Legislative leaders and Gov. Mike Beebe are meeting with reporters today. I'm hoping to go live with the Beebe session at 12:30 p.m., via Gerard's JustinTV link.

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announces season

As it has in years past, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre takes a two-for-us, two-for-the-masses approach with its 2011 season.

Walking small: Mike Ross

John Boehner was elected House speaker today, as epxected, as the Republican majority took over.

LRPD statement on indicted officer

The Little Rock Police Department issued a brief statement today on Jason Gilbert, a patrol officer indicted on a federal charge of conspiring with others, including a VA and UAMS officer, to rob an armored car service.

New year, "Small Works"

AETN hosts first stop for Arts Council's exhibit.

Prison cell phones confiscated

Mara Leveritt reports that a rising use of illicit cell phones in prisons has not bypassed Arkansas: In 2010, the Arkansas Department of Correction confiscated 277 contraband cellphones inside the state’s prisons.

Media-savvy history buffs wanted

The Old State House Museum has relaunched its podcasting/filmmaking competition for a second year, soliciting both Arkansas students in grades 5-12 as well as adults 18 and up for Arkancentric pieces about anything from 1836 to the present.

Store owner shoots 2 robbers

Police say Josef Alley, owner of Joe's Grocery at 1223 Col. Glenn Road, shot two men who tried to rob the store this morning.

Tonight's the night ...

... for another open line. Noted: * KHBS reports on a woman who got upset about her handling at the emergency room of a Siloam Springs hospital and drove off in an ambulance.

Ben Nichols releases solo vinyl at CD & Record Exchange

Ben Nichols set to release his "Blood Meridian"-inspired solo album, "The Last Pale Light in the West

Thursday art party

At Gallery 26.

Who likes government health care?

The House minority in Congress is pretty limited in power, but Republicans always managed to gin up attention with gimmicks.

Dead birds will never die

The Columbia Journalism Review has offered a round up of the best coverage of dead birds falling in Beebe and elsewhere.

Burger joint of the week: Feltner's Whatta-Burger

There's likely not much more I can expound upon when it comes to Feltner's Whatta-Burger... same flat burgers, same American cheese, same big bag of fries that you've been picking up for years when in Russellville for Wonderboy games.

Friday To-Do: Mockingbird Hillbilly Band-Isaac Alexander

The Afterthoughts treads an off-beaten path this Friday when the jazz bar hosts psychedelic hick-folk act Mockingbird Hillbilly Band and the hyper-melodic songcraft of Isaac Alexander.

Corned beef sandwiches, none cheaper

Tis the season for horse racing. Oaklawn Racing Park begins its season on Friday, which means Saturday is corned beef sandwich day.

All the chocolate you can handle

No kidding... imagine an event where you could walk in, pay $10 and consume all the chocolate you can put in your mouth over six hours time?

Caffeine in the air at Guillermo's Gourmet Grounds

On a rainy day, there's nothing like savoring a latte and listening to the pop and sizzle of the coffee roaster.

Tonight's thread

The line is open. How slow was it today?

The To-Do List, Dec. 30-Jan. 9

Patrick Sweany at White Water Tavern, '1.1.11' at Mediums Art Lounge, 'The Andy Warr Experience' at Ernie Biggs, Mockingbird Hillbilly Band and Isaac Alexander at The Afterthought, 'Arkansas Shorts' at the Malco Theater, Rodney Carrington at Robinson Center Music Hall, Danny Barnes at Juanita's.

LR Club at work

The Little Rock Airport Commission signaled last week that Airport Director Ron Mathieu's job is safe. It adopted some window-dressing financial rules in response to reports in the Times of his egregious misspending, but otherwise sang his praises for cadging freely available federal dollars for airport expansion.

Squeezing the rock

The Chamber of Commerce does not snuggle up only with public officials, though that is some of the dearest snuggling. The chamber fancies opinion-molders too.

Big ideas?

Congratulations on asking our fellow Arkansans to Think Big! It is absolutely amazing what people can come up with when no limits are placed upon their thinking!

The Observer, Dec. 30

On a bright and blustery day week before last, The Observer got across the river for the opening of North Little Rock's new roundabout (or should that be "traffic circle"?), a $1-point-something million-dollar, two-lane European extravaganza at what was previously the not very extravaganza-ish intersection of Pike Avenue and Broadway. Speeches were made. Ribbons were cut.

Words, Dec. 30

I don't know whether it was Henry Kissinger who confused demonstratively with demonstrably, or the Washington Post, which quoted him. Probably the Post, although English was not Kissinger's first language, and after 70 years in this country, he still speaks with a German accent.

Delta-made high society

Tuckerman, Ark., amid the Delta row crops of Jackson County, isn't much known for high-society cotillions. Nonetheless, a son of Tuckerman, Bronson Van Wyck, has become the A-list party planner of choice in New York city and beyond.

Still mysterious

Just who is Arkansans for Common Sense? The independent political group popped up in the Democratic primary, spending a ton on ads blasting Bill Halter, Sen. Blanche Lincoln's opponent.

I saw the best actors of my generation doomed by an unimaginative script

'Howl' and the myth of Ginsberg.

None better than the Coens

"True Grit" opened last week to much fanfare and acclaim. A couple of friends I've spoken to about the film have said it's one of the best movies of the year, but not one of the Coen brothers' best, and I think I would agree with that.

Toys that play with you

The deck headline on last week's Art Notes referred to copy that ended up on the cutting room floor, in case you were wondering. The review of the Delta Exhibition ran so long, the review of the 37th annual "Toys Designed by Artists" exhibit was cut.

Orval, Dec. 30, 2010

This Modern World, Dec. 30, 2010

Upcoming

Here are some predictions for 2011.

Balancing interests in Lake Maumelle

Does county plan go far enough to protect watershed?

Fearless flying

Starting Nov. 12, the Arkansas Times has been publishing articles on-line and in print on spending practices at Little Rock National Airport, revelations that have prompted the city commission that oversees the airport to make wrist-slapping changes in policy.

Capi's detours south of the border

But it's not just another Mexican restaurant.

What's Cookin', Dec. 30

Rosalia's Family Bakery is now open next door to sister-restaurant Cafe Bossa Nova in a space that formerly housed Movie Gallery.

The Week That Was, Dec. 22-28, 2010

Good week for: Arkansas, Maumelle. Bad week for: Little Rock Airport Commission, State Highway and Transportation Department, Highway Commissioner Madison Murphy, State Correction and Community Correction Departments, P.K. Holmes, Aerospace Education Center, Welspun

Murphy's Law for asphalt czars

Until Sunday, Madison Murphy, oil scion from El Dorado, was thought of as a small-government conservative.

To govern conservatively

It will not be long before the big new conservative cohort in the Arkansas legislature — old-line Republicans, Tea Partiers and reactionary Democrats — will be at loose ends and looking for fresh conservative causes.

Eye on Arkansas, Dec. 30

In Brief, Dec. 30, Jan. 1, 7-8

Cindy Woolf at The Afterthought, Magic Hassle at Sticky Fingerz, mojo Depot at Cregeen's, Montgomery Trucking at White Water Tavern, Hungrytown at the Faulkner County Library

NYE party planner

A survey of the best bets for ringing in the New Year.

Hidden Hillcrest

For another slow day: I've lived just downhill from the Ozark Point water treatment plant for more than 20 years, but never had a clue what it might look like inside.

Why the black-eyed pea?

An op-ed writer in the Times writes about the black-eyed pea's place as a food item of good fortune at the opening of the New Year.

Za Za in a nutshell

Consistently good, the pizzaria-salad-shop-gelato-haven packs in the crowds every lunchtime.

Man shot by police in NLR

Fox 16 is reporting that a man was fatally shot by North Little Rock police this morning at a Valero station at 9600 Highway 165, the England Highway.

Who'll check the historians?

There's been quite a bit of reporting lately on errors found in the textbooks used to teach state and U.S. history in Virginia.

No more Bill St.

Dangit. One of the best burgers in Little Rock is gone.

A match made in heaven

Judith Miller and Newsmax. They make Fox like middle-of-the-road.

Those lottery riches

No decision yet, but words were uttered at the Capitol today about trimming back the amount of lottery scholarships.

Sorry, Paul, about that Kodachrome

Kodachrome, the legendary color film, has sure enough been taken away — from Paul Simon and everyone else.

The line is open

The Thursday line begins now. But, first, could we agree that the elusive Fred Smith, the former Harlem Globetrotter of questionable residency and currently facing a theft charge, would do us all a service by declining to take his seat in the legislature?

Burger joint of the week: EJ's Eats and Drinks

1/3 pound burgers and chips made on-site — a great pair to enjoy at this always-packed-at-lunch eatery.

How fancy the inaugural?

The New York Times today weighs the approach of a variety of new governors to their coming inaugural festivities.

Keep an eye on the sky UPDATE

The warm, moist air this morning doesn't bode well as a cold front approaches. Already, a report of a tornado in rural Washington County that hit three homes.

New voodoo is more doodoo

Paul Krugman predicts disaster from the new Republican thinking, to be embodied in Republican House rules: Deficits created by tax cuts don't count.

Farewell to 2010

For this quiet government holiday awaiting the New Year, I'd encourage you to take a look at a few things in the Times this week if you haven't already.

NYE To-Dos

Find out about everything that's happening tonight here.

2010: The year of breakfast

One crazy idea turned out to be Kat's mission throughout the year. Wonder what next year's mission will be.

Thyer sworn in as U.S. attorney

Chris Thyer, the former Jonesboro legislator, was sworn in today as U.S. attorney in a private ceremony by Judge Leon Holmes.

Auld lang syne

It's 2011 somewhere. Kiss somebody.
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