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FEBRUARY 13, 2014



Focus on public schools I have no idea who Leeann Bennett is, whose letter to the editor was published last week, but her extensive review of the problems with education in Arkansas hit the nail on the head! What an outstanding diagnosis of the problems from cultural factors of: family involvement, teacher impotency and incompetency, failure of classroom discipline, and abandonment of one of our country’s basic tenets, universal education in public schools. If we ever have a “czar” for genuine public education, she should be considered. I am a volunteer in the Arkansas Literacy Program and the last three students I tutored are graduates of local high schools, but “Dick and Jane” would be a struggle for each of them. However, one was a good linebacker and the other could shoot 3-pointers. It was my good fortune to attend a hot shot high school in another state and over the stage in the auditorium was inscribed: “The spirit of a people is to be seen in the education of its youth.”   And therein is either the glory or the curse of this community’s education of our young men and women for their future. James Daniel Sanders Little Rock

Case for private option The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce says businesses in our state will face $27 million to $40 million in tax increases if the legislature doesn’t renew the private option. Arkansas’s private option, approved by a bipartisan supermajority of the state legislature, uses federal Medicaid funds to provide insurance-premium assistance to Arkansas families living near or below the federal poverty line. With the private option, Arkansas set an example that is attracting national attention. For the first three years, the federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost of providing premium assistance for these policies. If Arkansas chooses to continue the program after that, a small state share would begin in 2017 and top out at 10 percent in 2020. Most of these 250,000 people who will receive this insurance are working Arkansans who can’t afford insurance or those whose employers do not provide health-care benefits. As of February 2014, more than 100,000 Arkansans have gained health care coverage through the private option. Arkansas families need and appreciate the opportunity to finally get health insurance. A study by RAND Corp. shows that increased health coverage through the private option 4

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


will save an estimated 1,100 lives every year. The private option means access to regular check-ups and preventive medicine. One death from lack of access to healthcare is one too many. Arkansas families need and appreciate the opportunity to finally get health insurance. The private option will reduce the burden of uncompensated care that we all end up paying for in the end. There will be jobs created and billions of dollars injected into our state’s economy. As a relatively poor state, Arkansas will see a net increase in payments from the federal government of about $430 million per year by 2016. In

2014, we will begin to see savings in current Medicaid spending that can help fund tax cuts. Gov. Mike Beebe has warned lawmakers they’ll have to repeal tax cuts or reduce services if they don’t continue the state’s plan to expand insurance coverage to thousands of low-income residents. The private option means growth for Arkansas business in several ways. If workers are eligible for private plans through the private option, there’s no obligation for businesses to offer those employees health plans through the business — that saves businesses money. Furthermore, reimbursements to providers are much

higher in private health insurance plans than under traditional Medicaid. Doctors, hospitals and others involved in healthcare will all benefit. As we continue our bold initiative to revamp our healthcare system, we are becoming a model state that others may emulate. Unfortunately, there are still some who for political reasons are rooting for its failure. You can dislike the Affordable Care Act all you want to, but you can’t change it unless you go to Washington, DC. In Arkansas, we must stay focused on the health of our people.  Victor J. Rojas De Queen

From the web

Planting a beautiful garden this spring? prepare Your IrrIgatIon sYstem for effIcIent WaterIng. A broken or missing sprinkler head could waste as much as 25,000 gallons of water. Before you ramp up your watering this spring, spruce up your irrigation system by remembering four simple steps. 1. Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads. 2. connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. Check for water pools or large wet areas. 3. DIrect. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape. 4. select. Update your watering schedule with the seasons.

For more information and tips for preparing your lawn and garden, visit the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show Friday through Sunday, February 2123, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. You may also visit or

In response to last week’s Arkansas Reporter, “Creationism in the classroom in North Little Rock”: Sorry to hear about this in the hallways I used to roam (back when Principal Tackett was Coach Tackett). The ACLU will teach them. Hopefully they don’t waste too much district money trying to fight it. Creationism versus evolution is a religious (mostly Christian) concept, not an academic concept. I love how the quotes from Tackett and Brazear show their total ignorance (and obvious bias). “Both” sides are presented, they say. Of course they totally misunderstand that a discussion of creationism should examine creation stories from dozens of cultures and religions not just the Hebrew (or mono-theistic) story. These stories span the globe and could easily be integrated into a social sciences or world history course. This would be a more legal way for these educators to insert their religion into the curriculum. Creationists view evolution as the enemy, as an offensive attacker. Anthropologists (and their philosophy professor friends) hiss and growl and want to confuse young, Christian, wide-eyed college freshmen into atheism. The fact is, anthropologists study data and base their conclusions on them. The data supports evolution, but not creation. I know Dr. Dino and his friends come to church and say that the anthropologists’ own data opposes the idea of evolution. Unfortunately, they use the same old data that either has been debunked or has never passed scientificmuster in the first place. These educators do their students a disservice. They are critical of the ideas they have been told are wrong without being critical of the ideas they have been told are right. If they would be objective they would come to the same conclusion as those who wrote the curriculum they object to (without betraying any of their religion). scs217


As me no thans They don’t go together like a horse and carriage: “Nowhere is the proposed rule change as emotive a topic than in Sweetwater, a town of 10,600 that swells to 35,000 during the ‘world’s largest rattlesnake roundup’ each month.” “Emotive” is OK, I guess, though I would have said “emotional.” Yoking  as  and than is not OK; the words are not interchangeable. If you start out with as, you need a second as like you need a second sock. Make it “Nowhere ... as emotive a topic as in Sweetwater” or “Nowhere ... more emotive a topic than in Sweetwater.” Dive! Dive! “Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the night before and watched a ‘suspicious’ man scope out the jewelry case before walking into the sports department, where he grabbed a rain jacket and pellet gun ...” Scope out  began as slang (to study, examine, for purposes of evaluation), but it’s been around so long, maybe it’s been accepted into standard usage. That happens. Young people may not know it was ever anything else. But at least one old person was surprised to see it in an otherwise straightforward newspaper account of a robbery.

Put some lotion on it: “When she did return to court, she was an hour late DOUG with a typed-out SMITH apology. She said her consternation was inflamed because she mistakenly believed her son was in court on his shooting case.” Most of us don’t think of degrees of consternation (“a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion, dismay”). I doubt this woman did, either. (“Your honor, my consternation is inflamed! Call the nurse!”) I’m sure the reporter is paraphrasing. Awkwardly, in this case.   All that glitters is not gold bullion: “An anonymous donor dropped a triangular, 1-ounce gold bullion in a red kettle outside the J.C. Penney store along U.S. 65 on Thursday.” Can you drop a one-ounce gold bullion? It sounds like dropping a sterling silver. I think it has to be a gold bullion something — bar, coin, piece. I’m sure the Salvation Army was glad it wasn’t a goldbrick (“a brick made to look like gold, sold by a swindler.”) Goldbrick is also a slang term for “a person, especially a soldier, who shirks responsibility or performs duties without proper effort.”

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It was a good week for ...

TIM GRIFFIN. He’s expected to announce for lieutenant governor on Thursday. From Congress and the supposedly powerful Ways and Means Committee to the most irrelevant state constitutional office? Griffin badly wants to become governor; the Lt. Gov.’s office would put him in position to make a challenge for it in 2018. LEGISLATIVE ETHICS. A proposal to suspend an Arkansas House of Representatives rule prohibiting campaign fundraising during the legislative session won’t reach the House floor despite approval by a House subcommittee. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs), a candidate for Congress in the Fourth District, first raised the issue. A LONG DUE ARREST. After weeks of rumors that action was expected soon, an arrest was made of a suspect in the string of arsons that did millions of dollars in damage to the Forest Place apartments on University Avenue. The suspect, Lacey Rae Moore, 43, was taken into custody Monday. She was charged with five counts of arson, two counts of arson that caused injuries to firefighters and possession of an explosive device.

It was a bad week for ...

DRIVING IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS. Friday’s snowstorm caught drivers off guard. Hundreds of accidents were reported. Dozens of cars were abandoned. Some drivers were forced to spend the night in their vehicles, road conditions were so bad. MICHAEL LAMOUREUX. The Senate president took control of former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s orphaned four-person staff based on a constitutional reading that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and many others say is incorrect. MARTHA SHOFFNER. The federal government tacked 10 new mail fraud charges on the former Arkansas treasurer for allegedly transferring campaign contributions to pay for personal charges on her credit card, including cosmetics and clothing. The news has to be unsettling to other Arkansas politicians who, evidence suggests, have used campaign money for personal expenses, including clothing. To varying degrees, former Sen. Paul Bookout and former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr were found to have charged personal expenses to credit cards paid with campaign money before ethics investigations ended in sanctions and agreements to pay back money.

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FEBRUARY 13, 2014



Bad judge!

ustice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The life of the law has not been logic: It has been experience.” He might have added that the life of the law has not been doggy doo, either. He may have assumed people already knew that. But some Little Rock judges apparently don’t know it, or at least not well enough. Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has sent a memo telling the county’s circuit judges that he’s received complaints about dog urine and feces in the courthouse’s hallways, and that if he receives more, he’ll ban dogs from the building. Villines said in the memo that he’s “long been aware” that some judges take their dogs to work, but he tolerated the practice until people began to complain recently. “On at least one occasion, the canine culprit was witnessed in the act,” Villines wrote. “The dog’s owner was seen walking away without attending to the mess.” A personal note: We have ourselves seen a circuit judge walking his dog in a residential neighborhood, and not picking up feces left by the dog on or near the sidewalk. We considered a citizen’s arrest, but refrained. It’s dangerous to make enemies of judges and doctors. A conscientious public servant with authority of his own, Buddy Villines accepts the risk. Would there were more like him.


Bad senator!

staff without a boss is like the infamous bridge to nowhere. It’s outrageous that public money should be spent on such things. Yet there are those in state government who want to retain on the state payroll the four employees in the lieutenant governor’s office, though there is no lieutenant governor. The person who last held the office, Mark Darr, resigned this month after being caught violating state public ethics laws, and fined substantially for his misdeeds. Three of the four employees receive salaries that are quite handsome by Arkansas standards. All are Republicans, presumably. Darr was yellow-dog Republican. The office of lieutenant governor is itself useless, by the way, a leftover from the 19th century, when transportation and communication were primitive. The four employees had nothing to do even when the office was occupied; now they have even less. Republicans these days are raising an even louder hue and cry than usual over spending. Some oppose expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. Thousands more low-income Arkansans could be covered if the program was expanded. Some highranking Republicans want to cut spending on the food stamps that feed poor children. One would assume then that Republicans would be demanding dismissal of the four employees. But a Republican, state Sen. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville, president pro tempore of the Senate, is chief spokesman for legislators who want to keep the four on the payroll. Prominent Democrats, including Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, are opposed. Lamoureux says the four can help him — by fetching coffee, perhaps. To taxpayers, that will be very expensive coffee.  6

FEBRUARY 13, 2014





CLIMBERS: Vines surround a window at Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack in Little Rock.

LAST WEEK’S WHERE IN ARKANSAS WINNER: Was Spencer Jansen, who correctly guessed the photo of Hart’s Shoe Store on Cherry Street in Helena West-Helena.

Yon Tim: lean, hungry, dangerous


t’s easy to go Shakespearian on Tim Griffin. He’s an ambitious and dangerous man, as anybody who’s been on the receiving end of his “unleash hell” political war room tactics can attest. Ask Al Gore. Ambitious? Ask Bud Cummins, ousted as U.S. attorney in Little Rock by a Karl Rovian plot so that yon Tim could be employed. Griffin’s poison infects his friends. Remember when a gang of doctors’ wives set upon U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder and his wife, braying at a Little Rock restaurant about the hell their boy Tim would be unleashing on Snyder. Snyder’s growing young family eventually prompted his decision to retire from Congress. Now, high irony, Tim Griffin has made the same decision, citing too much time away from kids. But he’s not leaving politics. Later this week, despite have said contrary several times, he’ll announce for lieutenant governor. Griffin wants to be governor. For now, he’ll settle for a job with no meaningful work requirements. He can use tax money to employ a big staff to advance his brand and pocket almost $4,000 a month in spending money, for himself. Plus, there are occasional junkets to exotic locales. The office platform allows him to issue news releases on whatever moves him. What will Griffin do for real money to maintain his wife and kids in proper style in their Tara-style Heights mansion? He’ll probably go back into “public affairs,” as he has before. It’s sure to create an odor. A public affairs strategist is not necessarily a lobbyist working to influence legislation, but the differences are so slight — and the special interest paymasters so similar — that it’s a distinction with little difference. In 2009, Griffin knocked down $440,000 in public affairs and legal work. He claimed a big portion of that was from work in commercial litigation in Texas, but I’ve been told a close examination would find much

of the heavy litigation lifting was done by the Quattlebaum law firm of Little Rock in that case. That public affairs work? Who knows who all employed him? He made some headlines at MAX one point by working in Alaska BRANTLEY in behalf of the mining industry to defeat a ballot measure to protect a prime wild salmon breeding ground from open pit mine pollution. Miners won. If such work doesn’t create a direct conflict for an Arkansas public official, it’s still likely to create indirect conflicts. A political issue in Alaska might well have a similar parallel in Arkansas. It’s why Arkansas law, in theory, explicitly prohibits legislators from working as lobbyists. Whatever the legalities, Griffin’s resume isn’t a populist brag sheet. He was chief counsel on a $35 million snipe hunt by Republican congressmen to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton. He was enmeshed in Bush campaign efforts to suppress minority votes in Florida. He was linked to the Swift Boating of John Kerry. He’s been slavish in his devotion to the mineral extraction business, notably the environmentally fraught Keystone XL pipeline. And now he wants to live in Little Rock while he plots his next power grab. Asa Hutchinson should brush up his Shakespeare. Should he and Tim make the winning dream Republican team that many in the party see (sorry Charlie Collins and Andy Mayberry, the big money won’t be coming your way in the GOP primary for lite guv), he might want to watch his back. The notion of Tim Griffin sitting quietly in the second chair of Arkansas government for eight years seems uncharacteristic. Ask Bud Cummins.


Why majority rule is legal


ould more uncertainty about whether the legislature will slay the private option for Obamacare bother anyone? Let’s try anyway. As every Arkansan knows, a knot of nine or 10 senators plan to vote against the appropriation for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and end Medicaid in Arkansas. The Constitution seems to allow a tiny minority to block an appropriation supported by huge legislative majorities. Here’s the added uncertainty: The legislature can pass the appropriation by a majority and not the three-fourths vote of each house that has been the story thread for the past year. Mind you, that is only an opinion, and not one from an appellate court, but one that nevertheless has some standing in the law. The Constitution is confusing as are the few court decisions that have tried to make sense of it. It is a view that some would rather not ponder publicly for it might take the heat off those who have vowed to block the private option, even if it ends Medicaid and throws thousands out of nursing homes and leaves hundreds of thousands of Arkansas children, pregnant women, blind and disabled people with no resources to pay for medical care. The nine or ten can say, “Hey, Med-

icaid funding might be authorized by a majority vote, so I can vote ‘no’ without harming a fourth of the popuERNEST lation of Arkansas.” DUMAS But let’s raise the question anyway. It starts even before our hero, Gov. J. Marion Futrell, comes on the scene in 1933. The 1874 Constitution said the legislature could pass appropriations by a majority as long as the money paid for schools, just debts and the state’s necessary expenses or repelled invasions and insurrections. Anything else took twothirds. But there was no reliable definition of just debts or necessary expenses. There still isn’t. Futrell took office in 1933 and put Amendment 19, which he had written, to the voters. It said a majority could pass appropriations as long as they spent taxes that were levied to pay for education, highways, Confederate pensions or the state’s just debts. Other spending would need three-fourths. Well, all the taxes going into the general fund pay mostly for education, so you could argue logically that all appropriations from general revenues (like state Medicaid funds) need only a majority,

It’s camera time, state Senate


ome key moments in my early education about Arkansas politics came from sitting in the gallery of the state Senate. During my college years, I’d come to Little Rock to watch an afternoon session of the Senate and see the leaders of that body — Max Howell and Knox Nelson — masterfully marionette their colleagues using a combination of procedural expertise and personal cajolery. While the personalities and theatrics of the state Senate today are perhaps not as colorful as in that era, watching the Senate’s action live remains fascinating, particularly on days when there are close votes on important topics. As much as Arkansans should take the opportunity to come to the cramped galleries on the top floor of the state Capitol to watch their senators at work, it’s simply not feasible for hundreds of thousands of them significantly affected by some of the votes cast there. But because the presence of cameras in the Senate chamber and commit-

tee rooms has been fervently resisted, as this publication has noted across the years, Arkansans are unable to see their JAY elected officials at BARTH work. The Senate’s recalcitrance to basic transparency is particularly frustrating now because in the coming weeks, the body will be casting a close vote on one of the most important public policy decisions in the state during the past decade — reappropriation of funding for the public option. It’s an important moment for determining whether the pragmatic, bipartisan innovation will survive or be undermined in a system where a small minority has veto power. Moreover, the actions in Arkansas have ramifications beyond the state’s borders. Increasingly, the Arkansas experiment is seen as a path towards expansion of

but the Supreme Court has not extended the challenged act) voted 6 to 1 that the it that far. bill had needed 75 votes and thus all 500 After Futrell got his amendment rat- or so appropriations were invalid. Clinton ified in 1934, his philosophy changed called the legislature into a hasty session overnight when President Roosevelt to pass the general appropriation and all threatened to cut off all aid to Arkansas. the others again. The special court tried to make sense From rabid foe of taxing and spending he became a pleader for more of them. The of the muddle of opinions deciphering legislature obliged. “just debts of the state” and “necessary But a number of his spending bills expenses of the state” and made a worse couldn’t get the three-fourths majority muddle of them. Six of them posed the in one house or the other. On one day the hopeless logic that even if the spending Senate passed seven appropriations that bill was for “just debts of the state” it were not for schools, highways or Confed- somehow still took three-fourths despite erate pensions but fell short of the three- Amendment 19. They misread the amendfourths vote. Lt. Gov. Lee Cazort declared ment to say all two-year appropriations them passed anyway as just debts or nec- over $2.5 million required three-fourths. essary spending. His view was that Gov. The seventh special judge, Lonnie Futrell wrote Amendment 19 and if he did Turner of Ozark, said they were plainly not think the bills got enough votes he wrong. The bill took only a majorcould not sign them. Futrell signed them. ity because it was for the “necessary A legal test came in 1989, when a hand- expenses of government.” ful of mavericks in the House called “the The court had always held that the legwhite lights” kept the appropriation for islature should be allowed to determine executive offices, the legislature and what was a “necessary expense of govthe courts from getting 75 votes. Under ernment.” Would health care be deemed Amendment 19, the general appropria- one? A huge majority of the legislature tions must be signed into law before the would say yes. legislature can pass any other appropriaArkansas has enacted laws obligattions. The speaker declared that it was ing the state to subsidize the medical a just debt and needed only a majority. expenses of many categories of vulnerA lawsuit followed and 11 days before able citizens from the elderly poor to the new fiscal year began, a special children. Should there be a lawsuit, it is Supreme Court appointed by Gov. Clin- hard to imagine that an Arkansas court ton (the seven elected justices recused would not hold it to be a just debt or a because their salaries were paid under necessary expense.

access to health coverage in states that have resisted expansion so far, including the megastates of Texas and Florida. Now the decisions of a handful of Arkansas Republicans may help shape the future of health policy across the country. The debate and votes on this key measure, however, will not be broadcast. The absence of cameras in the Senate contrasts with the full embrace of video technology by the legislative chamber at the other end of the Capitol’s third floor. Indeed, the House of Representatives just made a major upgrade to that technology this week to allow the streaming of the work on the floor of the House and in committees on a variety of devices. Other state boards and commissions stream their proceedings and then archive the tapes for later viewing. One can also watch oral arguments in front of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Across the state, city council meetings are broadcast on community access channels, allowing constituents to watch what is often highly entertaining and insightful democracy at the grassroots level. Yet even as video technology becomes cheaper and more omnipresent, the Arkan-

sas state Senate continues to resist this basic measure of openness, with many members claiming that placement of cameras in the chambers would entice members to show off for the cameras rather than soberly doing the people’s business. Let’s not be naive — much of the deal-making that drives decisions in the state Senate will always take place in the hallways and conference rooms of the Capitol, or in the buzz of the Capital Hotel Bar and Grill. But, the state’s citizens should have the opportunity to watch live, via video, the debates and public actions of their state officials, and then the video should be preserved as a record of what happens in those sessions. If you want to have the opportunity to watch the state Senate make decisions on the crucial issue of public option and many smaller matters in the years ahead, I’d urge you to call or email Senate President Michael Lamoureux. I hear he has plenty of staff to answer the phones these days. Or call your state senator and let her or him know you want full access to the workings of this chamber from wherever you may find a good wireless connection. It’s simply time.

FEBRUARY 13, 2014



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Reasons for optimism


od-awful weather notwithstanding, last week wasn’t so bad in Razorbackland. For one thing, Bret Bielema’s football staff cobbled one of those recruiting classes that seemed utterly modest until you squinted a little. What may not have been ranked among the country’s elite hauls was still eminently warranting praise because, to be blunt, it addressed some dire needs and did so in the kind of context that normally makes closing on prospects a nightmare. A program coming off its worst season in the modern era, on the heels of a hellish 2012 with a short-term goon at the helm, doesn’t commonly amass an incoming class meriting commendation. Recruiting rankings are nebulous beyond description as a general rule, but at the risk of giving them credence at all, consider that programs with seven combined wins and a 13-game SEC losing skid aren’t all that likely to thrive on the first Wednesday in February. For Arkansas to secure the signatures of the likes of interior monsters like Bijhon Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Brian Wallace keeps with Bielema’s philosophy, but swaying guys like JoJo Robinson and Kendrick Edwards here from the state of Florida proves again that this staff will forge into challenging territory to locate playmakers. There is, of course, the expectation that Jim Chaney will be under the edict to make the quarterback job open again this spring after Brandon Allen was perpetually underwhelming last fall. Again, critique the staff freely for some minor missteps last year, but 3-9 teams aren’t just lacking in one area. Allen wasn’t sharp, but he wasn’t given much in the way of perimeter assistance, either. Brandon Mitchell could have accepted another conversion back to receiver but left for NC State, Mekale McKay bolted to Louisville and Demitrius Wilson tore up a knee — maybe the influx of fresh targets will give the rising junior a degree of confidence next year that he wasn’t afforded in 2013, or maybe he will truly fall behind Rafe Peavey or his own brother in competition. Regardless of the outcome, there’s abundant cause to believe that the most important position on the field won’t again be the weakest for the Hogs this fall. If this batch of football signees didn’t get you a little feverish about fall, at least the basketball team finally showed it isn’t quitting this spring. Bobby Portis gets all the credit for willing the squad to a narrow, ragged home win over an Alabama team that continues to be mysteriously awful under onetime coaching prodigy Anthony Grant. The 35-point outburst by the Lit-

tle Rock Hall product was machinelike on a night when the rest of the team was a creaky mess of bricks and flatlined effort. It went in the books as a freshman record, topping Scotty Thurman’s BEAU two 34-point games WILCOX from 1992-93, but what it may have also done is spurred a sagging team to get its collective arse in gear. Portis fought the battle against Bama nearly alone — and I don’t just mean that his 8 for 40-shooting teammates gagged out there, but also that the mid-week crowd was pitiful, too — and was at the height of his brilliance doing it. He took a total of 23 combined shots from the floor and the line, and nailed 20. The immediate and direct evidence of that effect was on display Saturday at Vanderbilt. Against a thin Commodores team, the Hogs pushed tempo early and weathered Vandy’s usual barrage of longrange missiles. Kevin Stallings has astonishingly made this a competitive team in spite of having only seven scholarship players, and they rebuffed every single surge that Arkansas made in both halves ... except the last one. The Hogs trailed by multiple, whisperthin margins in the waning minutes, having squandered yet another late lead, and then it once again became Rashad Madden’s moment. And the junior guard found three such moments: He answered one Vandy surge with a tying three, then hit another jumper in response to Kyle Fuller’s goahead shot for the Commodores. Finally, with about five seconds left and the Hogs down 75-74, Madden pierced the lane, elevated, and realized immediately that any bid for a shot was going to be nullified. So he swung it out to a waiting Michael Qualls, who continued his pogo-stick season with another spring upward, elevating for a pretty 22-footer from the wing that put Arkansas in front with 2.6 seconds left. Vanderbilt got a great final look for gunner Rod Odom, but it glanced away, and there it was: a Razorback road win. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly that it seemed fraudulent, like maybe the officials were about to hatch a cruel joke at the end about the scoring being incorrect or that someone in the Hogs’ bizarro blue-grey jerseys got an obscure dead-ball technical foul for excess elation at a modern miracle. Thus ended a few heartening, and hardly believable, days for the cardinal and white. Stick around for a few more days, because the mood can shift just like the climate.



IT HAS RECENTLY COME TO THE OBSERVER’S ATTENTION that the city of Conway has canceled this year’s iteration of its most profound and widely beloved annual tradition: Stuck on a Truck, held each May at the city’s Toad Suck Daze Festival. It was a test of mettle and endurance, but it was also more than that. It was a story about people, about what we are capable of as a species, and what we are willing to do to earn free stuff. Stuck on a Truck, which allowed poor souls to win a free truck by simply keeping their hand on a truck — and keeping themselves awake long enough to cause psychosis — was a vital component of the cultural life of a city that notoriously lacks what most discerning outsiders would deem “cultural life.” Looking back now, it seems like a dream: all those long nights, cheering crowds, and free vehicles. And then there were the participants, those chosen few, each wearing matching T-shirts and each stuck, in more than ways than one, on a truck. They were gladiators, and all of us envied them and their courage. Five-minute breaks every hour, 15-minute breaks every six hours, no exceptions, no loopholes. Most people left empty-handed. Last year’s winner, Jacob Odom, remained stuck on the truck for 93 hours. Now Jacob owns that truck. Where are you now, Jacob? Stand up and speak for yourself. This is history. If you’re looking for someone to blame — and who isn’t? — direct your chagrin toward Centennial Bank, bookkeepers with prim bottom-line efficiency. “Bank officials,” according to the Log Cabin Democrat, “said the parking lot of its downtown branch would instead be used as a command center for all emergency services during the yearly festival.” What is the cancelation of Stuck on a Truck if not an emergency? Of course the people of Conway aren’t standing by peacefully as decades (or one decade anyway) of tradition is razed. Like any good Americans, they’ve gone and started a Facebook group in protest: “Bring Back Stuck on a Truck.” So what if this approach lacks any chance whatsoever of having an effect on the issue, or if the group itself, as of this writing, has only 93 members? They have raised their voices! If The Observer doesn’t exactly sound impartial here, keep in mind that Yours Truly doesn’t have a truck and does des-

perately want one. We’ve never come close to winning the contest, but we also always figured we’d have another chance. See, this particular Observer has lived in Conway for a time, and it’s rough out there. We used to sit out on the patio of Bear’s Den, nursing $2 well drinks and watching frat kids shoot pool. We wanted a truck and still want a truck, and more than anything else, we don’t want to pay for a truck. We want to earn it the old-fashioned way: The Conway Way. The good news is that we’ve seen this movie before. They won’t get away with this, because the people always win. There’s more at stake here than a simple contest: This is about faith. To quote the rapper and noted truck-aficionado Rick Ross: “Hold your heads high, we had a nice run. Let the bankers know we have just begun.” SPEAKING OF CARS: The Observer was out and about when Snowpocalypse 2014 hit on Friday night, motoring over to the far side of the river to meet some friends. By the time we got to downtown from The Observatory in Stifft Station, what had been a sparse, blowing snow had turned into a gatdang blizzard, so dense that it swallowed the skyline. Still, we pressed on. Having inched our way to the gettin’ place, we dashed in, said our hellos and goodbyes in short order, and soon headed out to meet our assured doom. Luckily, Spouse’s Honda is all-wheel drive, a surefooted little billy goat. After Saturday night, we’re confident that we could drop that baby down in second gear and summit Mt. Everest given enough kitty litter and under-the-breath cussing. Still, we knew not to dare the freeway in such weather, so, the roads a solid blanket of white fleece by then, we crawled down McCain to JFK, then through Argenta. There’s some hills in there, folks, and the sights we saw! Pickups trucks with Marlboro Men at the wheel, immobilized and impotent. Jeep pilots grimacing into the skid, big-wheel hubris for naught. Toyotas turned bumper cars. Meanwhile, our little goat puttputted right on through the carnage. The car that we saw spun out the most? Those new Dodge Challengers, including one that we saw rendered moot at a red light downtown, having attempted a take off on what looked to be perfectly flat surface. Shoulda put that Hemi in the trunk, fellas. Did we beep-beep our Honda’s meek little horn at his steroidic musclecar bulk as we putted past? No. That would have been beyond even our pale. But we wanted to.

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FEBRUARY 13, 2014


Arkansas Reporter



The Washington Free Beacon, an online source of news and comment written from a right-wing perspective, this week published a lengthy article on Hillary Clinton based on papers of the late Diane Blair, a University of Arkansas political scientist and Clinton’s long-time friend. Links to reproductions of many of the documents cited were included, too. The article focuses on statements Clinton made privately, according to Blair’s recollection in her journal, at variance with things she has said publicly. It is, of course, not particularly unusual for positions to evolve over time. These instances include intervention in Bosnia and the failed health care initiative of Bill Clinton’s early presidency in which Hillary Clinton was said to have privately expressed skepticism about managed competition versus single-payer. Publicly, she advocated the managed care approach. The article and its supporting documents include a great deal of Blair’s account of Clinton’s reaction to reports about her husband’s infidelity and his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. It was a nuanced sort of reaction, wholly disapproving of her husband’s actions, but defensive in some respects. She didn’t see her husband as a predator, for one thing. Notably for Arkansas readers, the article recounts Clinton’s private resistance to the appointment of federal Judge Richard Arnold of Little Rock to the U.S. Supreme Court. The article indicates at least part of the reason was the potential that his confirmation process could delve into personal issues in the divorce that ended his first marriage. She saw this potential as a byproduct of the focus on personal scandals that were besetting her husband. She did write that both Clintons also had concerns about Arnold’s health because of his treatment for cancer. This was ultimately cited as the reason the nomination wasn’t made, an assertion a full reading of the papers supports. Arnold died 10 years after his nomination was under consideration in 1994. But the papers also reflect other concerns: Clinton argued that rejecting Arnold would send a “message” to the judge’s ally, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman Jr., whose paper often printed unflattering stories about the Clintons. “Goddamn Hussman needs to know that it’s his own goddamn fault; that he CONTINUED ON PAGE 11 10

FEBRUARY 13, 2014



Blair on Clinton

QUEBEC EXPLOSION: A runaway train carrying crude oil exploded last July in Canada, killing 47 people.

Crude question Oil transport by rail carrires risks. BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK


rkansas is sensitive when it comes to crude oil, thanks to the estimated 210,000 gallons of it that spread through a Mayflower neighborhood when a crack in ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline sent a gusher up through two feet of soil. Arkansans even know how to pronounce PHMSA, the agency that regulates the transport of oil and other hazardous materials. Crude is also shipped by train, and just since last July, there have been these accidents: A runaway train explosion in July in Quebec that killed 47 people. The derailment and explosion of 11 oil cars in Alabama in November, an accident that witnesses said sent flames 300 feet into the sky. A train collision in Casselton, N.D., in December that required the evacuation of the entire town. The derailment in January of a train carrying oil through New Brunswick, Canada, causing the evacuation of 45 homes. These incidents, the fact that oil transport by train has increased exponentially in the past few years and concern that the tanker cars the oil is carried in are unsafe, has put a national

spotlight on safety issues. As it happens, crude oil is transported through Arkansas on Union Pacific lines that crisscross the state, running through Conway, Little Rock and Pine Bluff; on Burlington Northern Santa Fe in Northeast Arkansas, and likely on Kansas City Southern in Southwest Arkansas, though that could not be confirmed by press time. Almost certainly the cars carried by those trains — which, as common carriers, are required to transport the oil — are DOT-111 tank cars, which railroads and safety advocates say are inadequate to transport oil safely. The National Transportation Safety Board and the American Association of Railroads have recommended to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that it enact stricter tank car construction regulations, such as requiring thicker, more puncture-resistant steel shells and head shields, valve changes and additional protection on the top of the cars. Finding out how much oil passes through Arkansas is problematic. The

names of the companies that ship it are proprietary, according to Raquel Espinoza, a spokesman for UP. However, Gonzalez was able to provide these statistics: In 2013 nationwide, UP shipped 163,000 car loads of crude, which happened to be an increase of 35 percent from the year before, thanks to the boom in oil production in the Bakken Shale of North Dakota and Montana. Union Pacific picks up tank cars from other carriers — Canadian Pacific and BNSF — in Missouri for transport to El Dorado and St. James, La. El Dorado, the home of a Lion Oil refinery, received nearly 8,500 carloads in 2013. Each tank car carries about 30,000 gallons of crude oil, Espinoza said. Espinoza said Union Pacific works with first responders along rail lines and coordinators at the Arkansas Emergency Management Department on what to do if there is an accident involving hazardous materials. One of those emergency managers is Shelia McGhee, who is coordinator for Faulkner County. “It’s a concern especially now since we dealt with the crude oil pipeline rupture in Mayflower; we have hands-on experience now,” McGhee said. “Rail has always been a big concern to me because it runs through the heart of our community, Conway, the home of three colleges.” McGhee has attended two rail car emergency sessions, one sponsored by UP and another by TTCI, a hazardous materials training facility in Pueblo, Colo. She said that the Faulkner County emergency planning commission will discuss the handling of hazardous materials when it meets in March and that a quarterly meeting she has with Fire Department chiefs in April will do a “table top” train derailment exercise with a hazardous materials coordinator from UP. Because Conway and Mayflower’s first responders — their fire departments — worked on the Pegasus leak, “I think we would be a step ahead of people that have never dealt with crude oil. ... We have an understanding of how to deal with it,” McGhee said. “I feel comfortable we could handle” an oil car emergency, she said. The Department of Transportation put out a warning in January that CONTINUED ON PAGE 22




LOVE NOTES For our Valentine’s Day issue this week, we heard many tales of love, loss and lust. Here are a few tidbits: marriage, divorce, sex and some memorable pickup lines.


We were home for Christmas. My boyfriend Jonny Keizer stayed up drinking with my dad and since he had him alone, he asked for my hand in marriage. My dad said, “Shit yeah!” and started taking off his wedding ring to give to him. At that point my sister walked in and saw my dad trying to force his wedding ring off on Jonny. My sister managed to keep the secret but the next day, when Jonny left the house, my dad came up to me. He was drunk and couldn’t help himself: “You’re engaged!” I’m still not officially engaged, but I think a proposal is in the works. Jonny gets a little agitated if I bring it up. As told to David Ramsey.

Heights politics

Fifteen minutes BY ANONYMOUS

Going to the chapel

I was at a friend’s house, a guy who had hit on me a few times, but I always demurred. So one day, he looked at me and said, “If you give me 15 minutes to get as nasty as I want to, I will never bug you about it again.” Well. That got my attention, and I agreed. I wanted to see — how nasty could it be? That line was the only reason I did it. I was thinking it would be crazy. I steeled myself, and I was thinking OK, I might see some stuff and experience some stuff I’m not used to. I prepared myself to be open-minded. Here’s the thing: It was not nasty at all. We didn’t hang out after that. As told to David Ramsey.



It was about 1980, I’m in a bar outside Atlanta and a guy — picture gold chains, a Nik-Nik, and thick mustache — says to me, “You want to go home with me? I have Doritos. Nacho cheese Doritos.” For the record, it didn’t work, but definitely good for a laugh for years. Via Facebook.

A pickup line with bite BY SAMI LONG KOPELMAN

“I’ve always wanted to know how it feels to kiss an adult woman wearing braces.” Via Facebook.

Make cute BY ATLAS999

I thought it was the worst, until I used it once out of desperation. Then, and over time I found that is/was charming, disarming and worked great. “Would you like to see a cute little bed?” Via

INSIDER, CONT. can’t destroy everybody from Ark. and everything about the state and not pay the price for his precious Richard [Arnold],” Hillary said, according to Blair’s account. “He needs to get the message bigtime, that Richard might have a chance [to be appointed to the Supreme Court] next round if Hussman and his minions will lay off all this outrageous lies and innuendo.”

Father knows best


Tune in to the Times’ “Week In Review” podcast each Friday. Available on iTunes &

I tried to back out two weeks before I got married. I told my parents I didn’t want to go through with it. My mom got very angry and said it was just cold feet. My dad offered to go hide me by getting me committed to a mental institution. He said, “I’ll take you to Memphis and put you in Charter Lakeside so you won’t have to get married.” So my options were get married or go in to a mental institution. My mom kept saying she’d invited all these people to my shower, it’s just cold feet. So I did it. I was 30 minutes late. I did my own hair and it looked terrible. I was totally unhappy. My best friend who should have talked me out of it had taken two Valiums and was too out of it to stop me. As I walked down the aisle in the church, I thought, “This is a mistake. How can I get out of this as soon as possible once this wedding is over? How can I end this?” I probably would have ended it sooner, but I felt very guilty about the gifts. Also, my husband was a really nice guy. The nicest guy. I felt terrible. We went to couples counseling just to make sure, and on the very first visit the therapist pointed out that I wanted out of the relationship. I finally left after 10 months. (I was watching VH1 “Shortest Celebrity Marriages,” and I would have been in the top 10, like Alyssa Milano or Pam Anderson territory.) It took me another year and a half to actually file for divorce because I was worried I would do something stupid, like get married again. As told to David Ramsey.


My first real boyfriend once brought a trout to bed. He’d cooked it for my birthday breakfast and I thought it was the sweetest thing. Later on, he went fishing in other ponds, if you know what I mean, and we split, both ending up in happier waters. But I’ll never forget the trout. As told to Leslie Newell Peacock.

A hot legislative race is shaping up for the district that has traditionally been represented by a Democrat from the Heights area of Little Rock. Rep. John Edwards, the Democrat currently representing District 35, is termlimited. Several promising Democratic candidates decided not to make the race and, for a time, City Director Stacy Hurst, encouraged to make the race in part by promises of support from financier Warren Stephens, appeared to be in the catbird seat as the sole announced candidate. As a Republican, Hurst holds the potential to flip a seat from one party to another, which could be critical in the battle for control of the House, where the GOP now holds 51 of 100 seats. Things changed last week when Little Rock lawyer Clarke Tucker decided to enter the race as a Democrat. A lawyer at the Quattlebaum firm, he has good family connections. His father is Rett Tucker, the downtown developer. He also has some political background — student body president at Central High, student government president at the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard. He was editor of the Law Review at the University of Arkansas. Both sides can raise money. Hurst has reportedly already banked $100,000, with help from Stephens and a fund-raiser organized in part by former Sen. Gilbert Baker, a Republican and lobbyist for the University of Central Arkansas who as a legislator worked for $60,000 a year for the Arkansas branch of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The coalition is an offshoot of Religious Right strategist Ralph Reed’s political organization. It spent $200,000 in 2012 to elect Arkansas Republican candidates. Baker is also tightly aligned with the forces working to bring tort reform measures to Arkansas, though he insists his work for Hurst is about electing people “from the middle” who’ll be advocates for higher education. The district covers far more than the Heights. It stretches west beyond Roland and south along Interstate 430 almost to the John Barrow Addition.

FEBRUARY 13, 2014



Arkansans talk candidly about what works, and doesn’t, in their relationships.


ALL YOU NEED IS Bobby meets Destiny On and off, but together forever. IT’S THE WEEK OF VALENTINE’S DAY, friends, and — believe it or not — even the staff of the Arkansas Times is not immune to the charms of Aphrodite. Though we’ve all been burned by that old girl more times than we like to remember, it seems we just can’t stop ourselves from tearing up the restraining order and letting her in every time she comes crawling back with tears in her eyes, asking for just one more chance. So it is with most people, even the most jaded among us. The heart craves love like a kitten craves cream. And the heart must be served. Given that our street date this week falls just before V-Day, we decided to give a waking kiss to a slumbering chestnut that was a favorite back in the good ol’ days of the Times — a special issue on l’amour, in which we explore the red and pink palette of that smooshiest of emotions, speaking with regular folks about what they look for, or what they’ve found, in a partner. So, dearest love, doll yourself up for a blind date with Arkansans of all stripes who are either looking for love (some of them in all the wrong places) or who have found it in spades. 12

FEBRUARY 13, 2014



BOBBY TILLMAN is one of Little Rock’s better known rappers. He often records and performs with his brother, Adrian, better known as 607, under the name Ear Fear. In the last decade, the Tillman brothers have probably played more shows than anyone in town. Along the way, they’ve developed a strong following that rewards them not just by dancing to their music, but often by rapping and pantomiming along to their lyrics. One of Bobby’s lines, from his latest album, “LOL (Live Out Loud),” goes “There’s a lot of ass, baby, you might need to share.” When a female fan hears that and proffers hers in response, a lot of women might not approve if they were Bobby’s significant other. But Destiny Duenas takes it in stride. “We have an understanding,” she said. “I know that he’s not going to let them disrespect me. When women hear [the ass lyric], they’re not

thinking, ‘That’s about his girlfriend.’ I know sometimes, but they don’t know. Because they don’t know, I can’t take it personal.” Destiny wasn’t a girl in the crowd who fell in love with Bobby, the rapper. Their first meeting was inauspicious. They were coworkers at Buffalo Wild Wings. She was in a relationship. The first time she saw Bobby, Destiny said she thought he looked like “the donkey from ‘Shrek.’ ” But they became friends, and before long Bobby told Destiny he was ready to be with her. “I wasn’t sure,” she said. “I left [after he told me], but after five minutes, I came back and said, ‘Yeah, let’s be together.’ ” More than three years later, they’re sure that they’re right for each other, but wary of forcing anything before they’re ready. They readily admit their relationship has been turbulent. They’ve been CONTINUED ON PAGE 22

‘She touched my hand’ And that’s how two women fell in love. BY DAVID RAMSEY

ARTIST KAT WILSON had just moved to Fayetteville and was at the farmers market in line to buy a coffee. The woman who sold Wilson her coffee was Emily Lawson, who now runs Pink House Alchemy, a Fayetteville business which produces craft simple syrups, bitters and shrubs. “She stared into my eyes like a creeper,” Kat said. “She did that thing, most of the times dudes do, when she handed me my money back: She touched my hand.” Like all good stories of beginnings, there is some dispute over the details. “Her story is that I inappropriately groped her hand!” Emily said. “She loves telling it that way.” In any case, the brief encounter made a big impression on Emily: “It was definitely one of those ridiculous moments, where I was like, ‘Who the hell is this person?’ She stayed on my mind for a long time. It was her voice that I heard first, just picked it out of a crowd packed with people. As she got closer … I don’t know how to explain it, it was just like somebody that I wanted to know. I never forgot about those initial reactions to her presence and what that meant for me.” Kat concluded that Emily had a crush on her (Emily points out that Kat often thinks someone has a crush on her). They had a few more chance encounters and a year later, Kat was looking for work and decided to apply at The Depot restaurant, where Emily was then working as the chef and general manager. “I knew she had a crush on me, so I hit her up for a job,” Kat said. “I started working there, and I’m a brat because I could get away with everything. They even had a thing, like, ‘Well, I guess Kat Wilson is allowed to do that.’ She would cater my art events. She was so good to me.” At the time, though, both Kat and Emily were in relationships, so they kept things strictly platonic. “She was always who I wanted to be around, but there were those lines,” Kat said. “When I would hang out with other people, I always wanted to hang out with her. It wasn’t really fun unless she was there.” Both eventually split with their girlfriends, but Kat and Emily were friends for a year before

HEAD OVER HEELS: Emily Lawson (left) and Kat Wilson.

anything happened, something that both say makes them a more solid couple today. “I know Emily,” Kat said. “I’ve known her. It just feels like I’m going to have fun for the rest of my life with her.” Once the dam finally broke, “It was just ridiculous,” Kat said. “We would just lie down and stare at each other. Sitting and, not even kissing, our lips just touching.” “I haven’t really fallen in love like I fell in love with Kat, like I’m still falling in love with her,” Emily said. Emily is different from women Kat has dated in the past. “I’m a very out lesbian, totally in her body,” Emily said. What was Kat’s type before? “Straight girls! You betcha! I think that’s a safer thing to do. I get all of that. There’s a huge coming-out process, and I have a different family dynamic than she does.” While both Emily and Kat didn’t fully come out and identify as lesbians until their mid20s, “the reception was a lot easier for me than for Kat,” Emily said. “It’s a different scenario for her.” Kat said she went through a period at first when she told her friends she was “a non-practicing lesbian” before eventually fully accepting who she was. Now, her sister and father know but, Kat said, “Mom is pretty clueless, and as far as I know my grandparents don’t know.” She’s hoping that her family reads this article so she can skip the awkward conversation. “It’s been emotionally

upsetting for so long that I’m just kind of over it,” she said. “More and more, as time goes, I just don’t care. It would be great if they read about me having a girlfriend, and then I wouldn’t have to tell them myself.” Figuring out love and modern relationships can be tricky, Emily said, for lesbian or gay couples who don’t necessarily have role models within their families. “When you’re learning how to be a lesbian, you’re not really encouraged to fall in love and have babies,” she said. “It’s not the thing that’s on the table, really. Our dynamic as a couple, as far as roles go, this is the most natural I’ve ever felt in a relationship. You don’t ever know that until you’re in it. I think both of us were like … are we both these power lesbians? Who and what and where? The truth is, we fit together. We just fit.” Emily has two kids — a 7-year-old from a relationship with a man and a 2-year-old from a relationship with a woman. While she has tended to initially be guarded about them when pursuing relationships, she knew she wanted Kat to be part of their lives. “Children aren’t dumb,” she said. “Kat and I were falling in love. If I was to have this experience without including my children in some way, that would be like keeping something really important from them.” “I wasn’t intimidated,” Kat said. “We just fell so in love I didn’t have time to think about anything. I guess you could say I’m a step-mommy. It actually ended up being harder than I thought it would be. I’m learning. I thought we were going to be best friends immediately, but we’re just getting to know each other.” Kat and Emily aren’t engaged yet but have been talking about getting married. They’d like to do a ceremony in Arkansas so friends and family can come, but will have to travel to another state to make it official. “Things are so different than they were 10 years ago,” Kat said. “In a lot of ways I forget that we’re gay. We feel pretty normal. But [the law] reminds me. Or my family reminds me.” “I want to build something with someone that is stable and have all the things that means,” Emily said. “I want a foundation that feels solid as hell. The legal part is important to me. We’re both in our 30s. I feel like it’s time to make those decisions and make that stuff happen and I’m really hoping the rest of the country gets on board pretty damn quick.” Whether or not the state of Arkansas recognizes it, these two are head over heels. “When my sister met her, she was like, finally you got somebody that’s badass,” Kat said. “She’s a powerhouse. I can’t imagine anybody better than Emily.” “Kat just lights up places,” Emily said. “She is just like a little light, and I can’t even handle it.”

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


First, a rehearsal marriage But like Barbie and Ken, this couple is for keeps.

IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR THEIR DIVORCE, Tommye and Robert Watts agree, their marriage would not have worked. And the Barbie Room might never have been built. Robert Watts saw his future wife for the first time in 1986, at a filling station in Jacksonville. She was with a woman he knew. “She got out of this big, jacked-up Ford pickup with a chrome roll bar. She bailed out of there wearing a yellow shirt down to here [he gestured to his solar plexus] and tight jeans. She was beautiful. I said, ‘That’s my kind of girl.’ ” He wasn’t her kind of boy, at first, and she wasn’t looking for a man anyway. Soon after that first meeting, however, she was at home with her friend when the friend told her, “I’ve got a surprise,” and Tommye heard a knock on the door. She opened it “and there’s this little short guy. I told him to go home and change into some cowboy boots to make him look taller.” Then off to the Hollywood Country Club for dancing, where Tommye spent as little time with Robert as possible. But Robert kept coming around, “like a stray cat,” he said. She’d go out on dates and find him at her house watching television when she returned. “He kept hoping he’d get something,” Tommye said, provoking a look of consternation on Robert’s face. He was only 21 at the time, after all. “Three months after we met we started liking one another,” Tommye said. In 1987, they got married. In 1988, they got divorced. Tommye, a tech sergeant in the Air Force, had temporary duty assignments that took her as far as South Korea. Robert “acted single still,” Tommye said. So she divorced him. “I was the exact opposite of what he expected,” Tommye said. She was seven years his senior. “I owned my own house and my life was already planned.” And, she conceded, they both “partied too hard” the first time around. But Robert asked her out on dates after they split. “I’d say OK and stand him up,” Tommye said. Robert may be short — 5’4” — but he’s tenacious. Eventually, because they didn’t want to invite their friends’ commentary, Robert and Tommye started to date surreptitiously. “He’d park in back and jump 14

FEBRUARY 13, 2014




over the fence and come in through the back door,” Tommye said. And in 1990, they remarried. They tried for Valentine’s Day, but both had to work, so they settled for Feb. 15. No big white dress this time, just a short ceremony at a friend’s house, and a Chrysler LeBaron convertible for Tommye as a wedding present. The couple considers their first marriage a rehearsal and don’t include it in the 24 years they’ve been wed. In this marriage, Tommye has shown patience and Robert has shown tender caring. Patience because Robert — a builder — laid a foundation for their house in 2000 and didn’t start building it until 2004. It still wasn’t done in 2007. It was a variation of the cobbler’s shoe fairy tale. Caring because Tommye suffered a severe back injury on duty and has had to have multiple surgeries. She has an electrical stimulator implanted in her back that works on remote control. There have been times when she could not get up “and he

has picked me up and carried me,” Tommye said. When she calls in crisis, he drops everything and comes straight home, she said. Tommye fully expected to be in a wheelchair at some point — though so far she has avoided that — and so Robert built their house in some woods north of Jacksonville with wide hallways and rounded corners. And a Barbie Room. Tommye has collected Barbies since she owned her first. She kept the ones she had as a girl — amazingly undamaged, with no haircuts or missing limbs — in a hope chest. Now she has a huge collection, with Barbies, Midges, imitation Barbies, imitation Midges, Kens, and other dolls — a Princess Diana doll in fancy dress, dolls that are several feet tall, monster dolls. She asked for shelves; she got a room, painted pink and white. “I grabbed a Barbie box and took it to Sherwin Williams,” Robert said. “First it was Pepto-Bismol.” They got it right the second time, just like their marriage.


Baby boom Crazy in love for 14 years and married for 13, now they’re expecting kids — plural.  BY DAVID KOON

HAVING A FIRST CHILD at any age is hard. For a couple pushing into their 40s with 13 years of happy marriage behind them, however, the thought of having a pair of newborns seems like an event custom-made to terrify. That’s the future faced by Gerry Bruno and Jennifer Ruud-Bruno, a Little Rock couple who are expecting twins this summer. The road to get there wasn’t easy, fraught with heartbreak and modern medical help, but they believe the hardships and their long relationship will be a rock to stand on as they come (a little later than most) to the world of parenthood. Ruud and Bruno met in February 2000 at a party 16

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in New York City. Gerry, raised in a big Italian family in New Jersey, admits he always thought of the concept of love at first sight as “bullshit,” but found himself almost cartoonishly smitten the first time he saw her. “I saw Jenny from across the room, and I thought, ‘My God, there’s something about this girl!’ ” he said. “I could not put my finger on it.”  Over the next month, Gerry found ways to maneuver himself into Jennifer’s orbit. After attending an off-off-off-Broadway show in which Jennifer was performing, he went out to dinner with Ruud and a group of friends, making sure he sat across the table from her. Though the guy sitting beside

her was trying to make time with her as well, Gerry found he just couldn’t keep it together.  “Halfway through the night, after I’d stuck my foot in my mouth many, many times,” Gerry said, “I was leaning forward talking to her, and the other guy was hitting on her, and I just stopped. I leaned back, and I looked at her, and I thought, ‘I’m going to marry this girl.’ ”  Jennifer admits she didn’t believe in love at first sight either when they met. “I think it’s something everyone wants to believe in, but I guess I’m a little more practically minded. ... I was always the one telling people, ‘Yeah, right. Uh-huh. Love at first sight? OK. Yeah, that’s happening fast, and I can’t believe how fast you’re getting into this.’ But I did the same thing.”  Though the sparks were clearly flying between them, Gerry and Jennifer had agreed to keep things platonic in those first few months, corresponding mostly through emails. To hear them tell it, Gerry seemed perilously close to slipping into the dreaded Friendzone, including helping her through a romantic breakup while secretly wishing she was his. Then they took a friendly day-trip to a New Jersey wine festival during Memorial Day weekend 2000. It wound up being, as Jennifer calls it, an “eight-hour date.”  “By the end of the day,” Gerry said with a smile, “we were not just friends anymore.”  As hard as it might be to believe in this age of difficult romance and long engagements, by July 4, less than five months after they first laid eyes on each other, they were talking about marriage. “I would have never thought I would have done that,” Jennifer said, “that I would have ever, ever done something like that, so fast.” Gerry gave her a month to consider it, and she said she didn’t need it. Gerry insisted, and on the day before the month was up, he proposed. They were married in Florence, Italy, in March 2001.  While their courtship and marriage seems like the stuff of fairy tales, when they decided to have kids, they were quickly faced with harsh reality. After they moved to Little Rock in August 2008, they decided it would be the perfect time to start a family.  “We tried for a while. And it didn’t work,” Gerry said. “Then we were like, ‘Well, screw it ... if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’ ” That worked for them in the short term. Then Jennifer’s sister-in-law became pregnant. Gerry and Jennifer’s nephew, Wesley, was born in 2011.  “We had the opportunity to see our nephew, Wesley, be born and grow up,” Gerry said. “It was so awesome. It was beautiful.”   “And so,” Jennifer said, “that longing comes back.”  With that longing came the decision to seek medical help. In 2012, they went through the very expensive process of in vitro fertilization. Though doctors told them their odds of conceiving were terrible,

even with medical intervention, they couldn’t help but hope. After over a month of shots, appointments, and invasive treatments, they learned that the first round of IVF hadn’t worked. “We were devastated,” Jennifer said. “We were depressed. And after a couple months of that, I was like, ‘That’s it. We’re fine. We’re not going to have kids.’ ”   They both threw themselves instead into what they love: film and stage directing for Gerry, acting for Jennifer. But the longing for children was always there, gnawing at them. Gerry, a diehard Cubs fan, fought back tears as he remembered one of those moments he’d had in Chicago.  “We were at Wrigley Field, watching the game,” he said, “and I see this guy with this little girl, a daughter. She’s no more than two, and she’s got a little pink Cubs hat on. And I’m like, ‘I want that.’ ” Last summer, they took a car trip to South Dakota, where Jennifer’s brother lives. They were driving home when they started talking again about IVF. By the time they got back to Little Rock, they’d decided to give it one last try. After weeks of treatments that included surgery for them both, they went in to have blood drawn for a pregnancy test, then spent five

agonizing hours waiting on the results.  “I’ll never forget, we were watching ‘Back to the Future,’ ” Jennifer said. “Then the phone rang. And I was ready. I was ready. I was like, ‘It didn’t work. It’s OK.’ And then, she said, ‘Jennifer?’ ” “I’m standing next to her and she starts crying,” Gerry said. “I was like, “WHAT!? WHAT!?” Turns out they got not one surprise, but two: fraternal twins. The staff at Arkansas Fertility and Gynecology Associates, they said, are their heroes.  “I honestly still can’t believe it,” Jennifer said. “Even at the last ultrasound, I was like: “Is that? Inside? Me?” And then the first time I threw up, I was like: ‘Woo hoo! I threw up!’ ” The years ahead are full of anxieties and challenges. Jennifer will be 40 by the time the twins are born, and Gerry will be 44. They don’t even like to think about how old they’ll be by the time the kids are out of high school, or college.  “I told her, I guarantee you, Jenny, we’re going to be on the playground, and someone’s gonna say, your grandkids are so great!” Gerry said with a laugh. “Not to her, because she looks so young, but to me, with the gray hair. ... It was one of my concerns, and I won’t lie about that. But then you look

at it, [and] you think, ‘It gives me more incentive to stay healthy, to make sure I take care of myself, and make sure I eat right, and do the right things.’ ” They have had some freak-outs, but they’ve so far been able to talk each other down off the ledge. They’ve developed a good support network here in Arkansas as well, which will help. Mostly, however, they believe that, given how hard it was to get pregnant, they will not sweat the small stuff.  “There were times when I thought I was just too selfish to have kids,” Gerry said. “But I realized as I got older that it is something that I’m so looking forward to doing. Waiting is going to make me appreciate every single moment more. So I’ll tell them now, for when they’re older, ‘If I hover too much, it’s because I want to remember every single moment.’ ” “We really want them to know just how much we love each other, and how much they’re loved and wanted,” Jennifer said.   “We built up 13 years of solid rock to make sure that when they get older, they’ll never see us fighting,” Gerry added. “They’ll never see us disagree in front of them. We’re going to be a tag team. ... We’ve had 13 years to build that foundation.”    

Presidential Pets February 1, 2014 - April 27, 2014

The Clinton Center pays tribute to the presidential pets that helped make the White House a home. From snakes to chocolate Labs, these famous pets provide an enjoyable look at presidential history. The display includes items from President George W. Bush, President Clinton, President George Bush, President Ford, President Nixon, President Johnson, and more. Forty Two Full Service Restaurant 1200 President Clinton Ave. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. • Mon. – Fri.

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FEBRUARY 13, 2014


when I got off, he got off too. “Are we neighbors?” he asked. I explained I was just staying for the weekend. “Well, what are you doing?” he asked. “Would you like to come over for a glass of wine?” Sure, why not? This is the sort of thing I do with my time. We had a pleasant evening. He was 11 years younger than me and had just quit law school in order to train for the Navy Seals. I saw him a few more times. He liked to cook me dinner. He kept showing up with new tattoos. We had the same birthday — between that and the elevator, he thought it was a magical sign. It was sad: He cried when I broke it off. AN ACCIDENTAL DATE OF SORTS: I was walking down the street with a guy — a friend of a friend, visiting from out of town — when someone came up behind us. We noticed he was walking faster and faster. He weaved in front and pulled a gun on us and said “give me all your cash.” The guy I was walking with handed over his cash; I had a stupid purse with thousands of zippers and couldn’t find my money, so after much fumbling, the robber demanded that I just give him my purse, which I did. The robber ran away. The guy and I called the cops and filed a police report. Feeling traumatized, we cozied up together that night. “Everybody’s going to be so nice to us tomorrow,” he said. Then he kissed me. Post-traumatic makeout session.

Jess and the city As the perpetually single friend, Jessica Wurst has been on a lot of dates. Sometimes she gets swept off of her feet. Sometimes things get strange. Sometimes both. We asked the Alma native, who now lives in New York, to tell us about her most memorable Arkansas dates. ON A QUIET FRIDAY EVENING, I had resigned my single self to some binge TV watching when I noticed someone was peering through my window. Panic struck and I reached for the phone to dial 911, but the guy outside the window started calling my name and asking me to open the door. Turns out it was a handsome young musician I had seen about town, but never met — he’d gone around asking various friends, employers, etc. of mine where I lived so he could show up at my window. He told me that his grandfather was in the van waiting with a cooler of beer. Would I like to go two-stepping with him and his grandpa? Did 18

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


I mention he was handsome? I said yes. We went to a honky-tonk dive in Levy (never been before or since). We danced the night away but he kept telling me to reserve a dance for his grandpa. Well, that turned out to be two of the longest minutes of my life. Grandpa had a tremor that only became apparent once we started dancing, and he spent the entire dance leering at me and making dirty remarks. When the bar closed, we went back to grandpa’s trailer. More beer and we sang cowboy songs. There were some oddly placed mirrors and a black hot tub in the bedroom at the back of the trailer. And maybe a waterbed, I can’t quite recall. He drove me home in the wee hours of the morning. It was definitely a more entertaining evening than whatever was on TV. I GOT IN AN ELEVATOR on a Saturday night, going up to a friend’s apartment where I was staying. There was a guy in the elevator with me and

IN TRUE ARKANSAS STYLE, one date took me camping, out in the middle of nowhere. He set up the tent and we started a fire, cooking steaks as the sun set. We were well into a bottle of wine when out of nowhere he pulled out a guitar. He had apparently been hiding it somewhere so he could surprise me. What did he choose to serenade me with? The Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine.” This was such a bad choice that I actually felt, well, afraid. Also, either he wasn’t very musically inclined or maybe he had just learned the song for this big moment (was I giving off an Indigo Girls vibe?). He was well out of his wheelhouse and struggled through the rendition. At this point, we were out of wine and it was getting cold. He suggested we move to the tent and play a game of strip poker. I agreed and immediately started losing. When I was down to the bare essentials I decided it was time to call it a night and managed to hide by zipping myself all the way up inside my sleeping bag. THE GUY I’M CURRENTLY DATING I met because my cousin placed bets on a game of Connect Four and she lost. She had bet that if she lost he could kiss her cousin (me). I was talking to another group of people and some random guy just walked up and kissed me. It was bold. Is he the one? Not sure yet.

31 days of dating Woman gains insight during her ‘Open Dating Month.’ BY DAVID KOON

Drivers Please be aWare, it’s arkansas state laW: Use of bicycles or animals

Every person riding a bicycle or an animal, or driving any animal drawing a vehicle upon a highway, shall have all the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except those provisions of this act which by their nature can have no applicability.

overtaking a bicycle

The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a roadway shall exercise due care and pass to the left at a safe distance of not less than three feet (3’) and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.

anD cyclists, Please remember...

You’re vehicles on the road, just like cars and motorcycles and must obey all traffic laws— signal, ride on the right side of the road and yield to traffic normally. Make eye contact with motorists. Be visible. Be predictable. Heads up, think ahead. 20

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


FOR MANY SINGLE PEOPLE, first dates are like root canal work. Even when everything goes well, they’re still pretty terrible. Sure, dating is hard, but first dates are exponentially harder: letting a new person into your life, figuring out how much to share, sniffing around for those whiffs of all-important chemistry, trying to decide whether the person across from you is a nutcase on his or her best behavior, and finally the aftermath — those hours spent secondguessing everything you said or did on a date. Given all those plates in the air, it’s kind of a miracle that anybody gets together in the first place. At some point, it just becomes easier to put on your sweats, buy a pizza, and get a rom-com from the Redbox. One woman who has mastered those first-date jitters, however, is Melissa Kordsmeier, 27, of Little Rock. Over the past two years, Kordsmeier has managed to become something of a firstdate guru through sheer experience. Since 2012, she’s had what she calls “Open Dating October,” during which she agrees to have at least one date with every person — male or female — who asks her out, no exceptions. During the rest of the year, she’s no slouch. She’s been on around 40 first dates in the past six months. (Sorry fellas, one of her ground rules is to never kiss on the first date.) It wasn’t always this way for her. Kordsmeier didn’t go on a real, oneon-one date until she was 18, and that date turned into a five-year relationship. When the relationship ended, she said, she found herself in a rut. “I had no friends, I had no clue who I was, I was very insecure,” she said. “It took me a few years to discover who I was and to find out what I wanted out of life.” While in the process of finding herself, Kordsmeier didn’t put much energy into finding romance. She admits she could be really awkward when meeting

new people, which led to her reluctance to jump back in the pool. In the fall of 2012, she realized that she hadn’t been on a date in quite a while, and decided to do something about it. “The next month was going to be October,” she said, “so I decided that the next month, I was going to have an open dating month. I was going to force myself to say yes to anyone who asked me out. ... It wasn’t to find that special someone. It was just to get comfortable with dating again.” Though Kordsmeier didn’t exactly go around shouting “I’ll say yes!” a strange thing started to happen. Once she decided to say yes to anybody, guys started asking her out. She went on nine first dates that month. “It was so weird,” she said. “I said I was going to do this, and all of a sudden people started asking, and so let’s do it, you know?” The trend has continued. In October 2013, Kordsmeier went on 17 first dates. She’s more selective the other 11 months, but she still dates a lot during the rest of the year. We had to schedule around lunch dates just to sit down for a chat with her. As you might imagine, being up for a date with anybody has led to some interesting nights on the town. One date took her to a Buddhist meditation class. Another time, after learning they shared a love for gambling, her date took her on a road trip to a Mississippi casino, where they stayed up all night playing craps and roulette. As for the creepiest: “We had gone out to a lovely dinner. We had a lot to talk about and we laughed. It was a really nice date. ... He walked me to my car, hugged me, and then told me he loved me. I had made myself clear prior to the date that I didn’t want to be in a serious relationship, but he took that to mean that I was available. He started crying when I told him I didn’t feel the same, because he thought I was his soul mate. I didn’t know what to do to make him



stop crying so I just stood there.” After skedaddling out of there at warp speed, Kordsmeier woke the next morning to find an email from the guy in which he talked about, among other things, raising their child together. Train wrecks aside, Kordsmeier said that “Open Dating October” has helped her be more confident in who she is, and has helped her realize what she wants out of a long-term relationship. She said a good date is one in which the other person exudes self-confidence, stability and independence. “I like guys who make me laugh by being clever, witty or punny,” she said. “I want somebody who likes adventure and traveling so that someday I’m not doing everything alone. Somebody who is independent is a must. I love taking care of people, but

I need to know the guy will be stable without me. I think I’m easy to please. I know what I want out of life, and I always figure out ways to achieve my goals.” Don’t get the wrong impression. All this first dating isn’t a game for Kordsmeier, or just a place to get goofy dating stories to share with her friends. She’s still looking for a relationship. She recently went on a second date, which she said is rare for her. As important, however, is what forcing herself to say yes has done in areas of her life other than the romantic. “It’s helped me become open to situations that I may have rejected in the past,” she said. “I say yes to all kinds of adventures, and I’m in love with every second of my life.” 

The 2014 Arkansas Baptist College Supper & Soul Gala will be held Thursday, February 27, 2014 · 6:00 in the evening Statehouse Convention Center, Wally Allen Ballroom


Sherra & Eddie Armstrong


will accept the 2014 Arkansas Baptist College Growing Hope Award

Join us for the cocktail reception and silent auction. After the seated dinner, dance the night away to the sounds of the


Dress is cocktail attire. Sponsorships start at $3000, tickets are $250 and tables of ten are $2500.

Arkansas Baptist College is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

For more information contact: Department of Development 1621 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202 501-414-0853 office, 501-414-0861 fax,

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


BOBBY MEETS DESTINY, CONT. Continued from page 12

Now — March 8

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on and off. They lost an unborn child in a car accident where Destiny was injured (“We just cried on the couch together for two days,” Bobby said. “It was terrible.”) Bobby lived with Destiny and her 7-year-old daughter for two years, but he moved out last November. Now Destiny is pregnant, due in late July. Though on the day Bobby and Destiny spoke to a reporter, Bobby said he was working on a column on maturity for Ms. Lady magazine, where he is a contributor (“Not just about being mature in age, but like appreciating flatware and stuff like that,” he explained), both Bobby, 29, and Destiny, 24, admit that they’re immature. “We’re both still learning a lot of stuff, when it comes to ourselves and being in a relationship,” Destiny said. “We’re working out kinks in ourselves still. You have to be content with yourself entirely before you can make someone else content. As far as compatibility, you can’t deny it. Once we get the general maturity thing knocked out, then everything else will mesh perfectly.” Meanwhile, they get looks. “When people see you’re pregnant and look down at your finger and don’t see a wedding band, you’re automatically judged,” said Destiny. Even in 2014, their skin color provokes reaction. Bobby is black. Destiny calls herself a “mutt,” as she has Latino, Indian, black and white forebears, but is often profiled as white. One time at liquor store, a black female clerk, seeing Bobby outside with Destiny, asked him, “What are you doing out there with that white woman?” Bobby told her Destiny is Latina. “So

she’s a white woman who eats burritos,” the clerk said. “It’s just like the roaches; racism isn’t going anywhere, obviously,” Bobby said. “There’s always going to be one person who wants to keep the party going. We just gotta learn how to deal with it. Sitting around complaining isn’t going to do anything but cause more negativity.” Somewhere on the horizon, Bobby and Destiny see changes coming. Down the road, they expect to get married. Bobby said that he knows that’s the only way Destiny will know for sure that he wants to be with her forever. For her part, Destiny said, “I want to get married, but I know now, that me personally, I’m not ready for it yet.” She wants to make sure they’re both ready, because she said she doesn’t consider “divorce an option.” More immediately, Bobby said he’ll get a serious nine-to-five job and push music to the background to better provide for their coming child. (Destiny is a hairdresser.) Leaving music behind altogether isn’t an option, both say. “Music is a necessity for Bobby,” said Destiny. “The look on his face, the joy, the comfort, he gets from it, I wouldn’t ever want him to quit.” But money matters. Bobby said it was a source of tension when they lived together, because he thought he needed to work all the time to provide, while Destiny often encouraged him to take time off for them to spend time together. But now, Bobby said, he knows “time is the most precious commodity. It’s the best thing I can give to her and [her daughter].” “Love is a full-time job that you don’t get paid for ... where nobody’s qualified,” Bobby said.

CRUDE QUESTION, CONT. Continued from page 10 crude from the Bakken shale seems to be more flammable than oil from other sources and urged shippers to test the oil for gases that could be removed to make transport safer. A PHMSA rule requires cars that carry Bakken crude to be labeled as such. Only about 30 percent of tank cars have been built to the higher standard that NTSB and the American Association of Railroads has recommended the government implement; the remaining 70 percent, or 92,000 cars, are of the older, more fragile design, according to the AAR. The NTSB has been pushing for the changes since 2011, after a car carrying propane exploded. The Rail-

way Supply Institute, which represents car manufacturers, says retrofitting the DOT-111s will be expensive, time-consuming and put a crimp in transport from the Bakken Shale. There is no reason, says Peter Goelz, a former manager at the National Transportation Safety Board who is now a regulatory advocacy lobbyist, to assume that oil moved by pipeline is safer. “Even in the worst disaster, in trains, we’re talking about gallons and in pipelines talking about barrels.” A barrel contains 42 gallons of oil. Trains, however, run through cities; rerouting oil trains around large cities has been suggested as another safety measure — one the railroad industry doesn’t find feasible.

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FEBRUARY 13, 2014


Arts Entertainment AND


Round three coming Thursday. BY WILL STEPHENSON



FEBRUARY 13, 2014


Mad Nomad


t snowed on the day of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase’s second round last Thursday — not a lot (that would come later), just enough to put everyone on edge. I’d never been to a Showcase before and didn’t bother checking the weather report that morning, so I showed up cold and confused. As the night wore on, I’d get even colder and more confused. Strange things happened: At one point, a former hair-stylist for GWAR (judge Stacie Mack) offered to give me a haircut, and later a man I’d never met unaccountably gave me a bear hug and told me he was “a good guy who gives a lot of money to charity.” There were accordions, electric violins, spike-studded bracelets, and frequent random bursts of high-pitched feedback from an embattled sound system. A whole table next to me was outfitted entirely in camouflage, but when I tried pointing it out to someone later on in the night, they’d vanished. The show started off with what Fox Blossom Venture’s banjo-toting frontman Aaron Farris called a “hillbilly christening service,” which sounds about right. Their fiddle-player, Aaron Walton, wore all black, had memorable sideburns, and was one of the highlights of the night. Judge Stephen Neeper’s comments on their set read, in total, “LET THAT BOY SAW THAT FIDDLE!!” “We’re not nearly as bad as we look,” Farris said after a gospel cover, and the audience clearly agreed. Benton, Arkansas, turned out in full force for their hometown band Dead End Drive, which definitely won my own imaginary award for Most Enthusiastic Soundcheck. Their drummer couldn’t wait until the end of their songs to take swigs from his beer, and their guitarist, who you should know is named Rayzr Skinner, played a vicious-looking 7-string Flying V like it was a weapon. He stalked the

camp on Baekdu Mountain in Japaneseoccupied Korea on 16 February 1942.” I looked into this — maybe I was a little skeptical — and was redirected to Kim Jong-il’s Wikipedia page. I don’t know that this tells you that much about these guys, who play jangly, downtrodden indie rock, but it does hint we can’t entirely trust them. Is their lead singer’s middle name really Danger? Is their bass player actually a doctor? These are possibly unanswerable questions; your best bet is to come by the showcase and find out.

stage with expressive long hair and hate in his heart. More than anyone else, these guys embraced the feedback and made it their own. Bombay Harambee closed out the night with what Mack called “spastic energy” (she also noted that the lead singer “looks like a smaller version of the guy from ‘Superbad’!”). Judge Bryan Frazier commended them for “surprising & tasty twists,” while Neeper claimed they had the “best sounding drums of the night.” Fresh off the release of their new EP “You Know Better,” their set was quick, clean, and vindictive. The night’s winner, by unanimous decision, was Little Rock’s own John Willis, who filled out his sound with a band that included Sarah Stricklin, Sydney Hunsicker, Jack Lloyd, and Mike Motley. Frazier said Willis “creates his own genre,” and called their set “blissful and playful yet musically intricate and catchy.” Neeper wrote that he loves “to see people smile when they perform,” and it’s true: Willis is one contagiously cheerful guy. The audience must have noticed this too. In addition to the elite and all-knowing panel of judges, we have a crowd-voting


component this year, and Willis won that contest, too. He’ll move on the final round with last week’s winner, Peckerwolf.

There’s something weirdly nostalgic about Mad Nomad’s brand of thickriffed punk rock. They’ve mastered the art of tuneful and deceptively simple distortion, and wield it heavily and distinctively on wistful, homesick anthems about loneliness and missed opportunities. There are shades of Sunny Day Real Estate and Cap’n Jazz on songs like “The Crowd,” which finds frontman Joe Holland singing and screaming through a smoker’s cough while the rhythm section piles on. Garage rock doesn’t get any more anti-social. As Holland sings on the chorus, “They don’t know my name, they don’t know my face, and I like it that way.” Their debut album is called “Black Out” and you can find it for free at Soundcloud.

The Round 3 lineup:

Chris Alan Craig Band Not to be confused with Conway native and “American Idol” Season 8 winner Kris Allen, Little Rock’s Chris Alan Craig sings barroom country ballads with a voice that wavers between masculine reserve and unleashed sentimentality. He sounds like a guy who, as he sings on “Pack Your Bags,” has “been drinking and smoking now for 14 days.” His group, modestly dubbed the Chris Alan Craig Band, has a new EP called “Gonna Be Rich,” but the songs here seem to insist on the opposite: These are sad tributes to giving up, leaving town and settling down, loaded with tender, boozy Nashville emotionalism.

Flight Machine Fayetteville’s Flight Machine claims to have been “born in a secret military

Flameing Daeth Fearies During a sound check for round 2, a very nice and eager person calling herself the Flameing Daeth Fearies’ “manager and lighting technician” approached our table, asked me if I had a “dog in the fight” for Round 3, and handed everyone at my table each a small, glossy card featuring a neon-lit heart encircling the letters F.D.F. On the back are the band’s full logo and the tagline, “The Gaudiest Show on Earth.” I don’t have a dog in the fight, exactly, but I appreciated the gesture, and having now seen their music videos I understand their pride in gaudiness. They are obsessed with bad taste — it leaps out at you from just about every aspect of their low-brow scuzz-rock. Champions of odd wigs and Viking helmets and brightly colored cartoonish T-shirts, they share an aesthetic as eccentric as their spelling.


7th & thayer, Lr

2014 Arkansas Custom Knife Show

(501) 375-8400

Check out the Times’ A&E blog

A&E NEWS RON HOWARD has signed on to direct “Mena,” based on a script by Gary Spinelli that tells the story of Arkansas’s most notorious drug/CIA smuggler, Barry Seal. For years, while based in Mena, Seal flew his personal plane in the service of Colombian drug lords. In as few as three years, Seal later testified, he imported $3 billion to $5 billion worth of cocaine to the United States. Later, while continuing to smuggle drugs for the cartel, he worked with the CIA to transport military supplies for the Nicaraguan Contras. In 1986, he was shot and killed in Louisiana by three Colombian nationals. Who knew what about Seal and when has been a popular cause for investigative journalists and conspiracy theorists over the years. THE RON ROBINSON THEATER began a new film series last Thursday with a screening of “12 O’Clock Boys,” filmmaker Lotfy Nathan’s hypnotic 2013 documentary highlighting Baltimore’s dirt-bike subculture. The film marked the first entry in an ongoing Thursday night program sponsored by Little Rock native and “Towncraft” director Richard Matson’s Gathr Films, a film society dedicated to bringing independent, documentary, and foreign films to markets that are typically outside of the art cinema circuit. “People in L.A. and New York get to see every movie,” Matson said over the phone. “We’re trying to create a new cultural event for Little Rock.” So far, Gathr is based in 12 cities, from Portland to Tallahassee. Little Rock, though, remains the spiritual center of the thing: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette film critic Philip Martin will be leading post-screening discussions here that, in the future, will be broadcast online. One-month memberships can be purchased for $19, and single screenings cost $10. At 7 p.m. Thursday, the series will screen “Adult World,” starring John Cusack and Emma Roberts. Upcoming screenings include “Next Goal Wins” and “The Forgotten Kingdom.” SINGER/SONGWRITER MERLE HAGGARD, best known for honky tonkin’ hits like “Okie from Muskogee,” “Today I Started Loving You Again,” and “Hungry Eyes,” is coming to Little Rock’s Robinson Center Music Hall at 7 p.m. April 2 for a one-night-only engagement. Tickets, which range from $50.50 to $77.50, are on sale via Ticketmaster or the Robinson Center box office.

Friday, February 14

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Valentine’s Day HIP HOP DANCE PARTY w/ Joshua Asante

Saturday, The Cedric Burnside February 15 Project!

Feb 22 & 23 • Sat 10-5, Sun 10-3 Robinson Center Exhibit Hall

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8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $44.

According to Forbes, Jeff Dunham has been one of the top five highest-paid comedians in the country for the past several years, and can claim the most-watched special in the history of “Comedy Central.” Time magazine raves: “... politically incorrect, gratuitously insulting and ill tempered.” Whatever your stance on meanspirited puppetry in comedy (or in general),

there is no question that Dunham is the most famous ventriloquist in the world, and for a little under $50 you can catch him onstage as part of his worldwide “Disorderly Conduct” tour, interacting with elaborately outfitted puppets including (possibly) Walter, Peanut, Jose Jalapeno on a Stick (a jalapeno pepper wearing a sombrero), Bubba J, and Achmed the Dead Terrorist. A jalapeno pepper wearing a sombrero! Doors open at 7 p.m. WS.



6 p.m. Wildwood Park. $5-$10.

Arkansas’s annual deep-winter outdoor festival returns for its sixth year, celebrating the first full moon of the year with lights, entertainment, and themed food and beverages from Asia, Jamaica, Mexico, New Orleans, Rome, and Shakespeare’s England. What kind of food did they eat in Shakespeare’s

England? This was my first question after reading the LANTERNS! flyer. I’m guessing a lot of cakes and stews. Regardless, there will be plenty of other options. It will be beautiful, with fire pits and floating lights and so, so many lanterns. Also, it’s family-friendly. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and free for children ages 5 and younger. WS.


FOR THE LOVE OF THE WU 10 p.m. White Water Tavern.

FUTURE SHOCK: Miranda July will read at UCA on Thursday.



7:30 p.m. UCA College of Business, Room 107. Free.

Miranda July has published fiction in the New Yorker and The Paris Review, recorded music for the Pacific Northwest labels K Records and Kill Rock Stars, directed and acted in films like “Me and You and Everyone We Know” and “The Future,” and worked in multimedia performance art — interactive online projects and video installations 26

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


— since the mid-’90s. She also, according to a New York Times profile from a few years ago, was once paid $25,000 for coining the doomed brand name Coke II in the early ’90s. There are things both good and evil we can learn from her, in other words, and so it’s our good luck that she’ll be in Central Arkansas this week. After performing at Hendrix College on Feb. 11, she’ll be at UCA Thursday night for a public reading and book signing at the College of Business in Room 107. WS.

There’s probably no less appropriate or more fun way to spend your Valentine’s Day than going to see a tribute to the Wu Tang Clan, and it just so happens that this is an option this year. The night will feature MCs 607, Osyrus Bolly, Bobby, and Bolly Black Star, with live instrumentation provided by the Funkanites and a DJ

set by Joshua Asante of Velvet Kente and Amasa Hines. I imagine it will be something like the video for “I Can’t Go To Sleep,” where the Wu all live and party together in that huge mansion, and Isaac Hayes is there wearing a wizard’s robe, and nobody can go to sleep. Also, I heard a rumor that actual third-tier member U-God might be in attendance, but then again I also started that rumor. WS.



10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.

The grandson and longtime drummer of the great North Mississippi blues icon R.L. Burnside, Cedric Burnside plays jagged electric blues alongside lead guitarist and fellow Hill Country native Trenton Ayers. The two of them, who perform as The Cedric Burnside Project, play a kind of scraping, shuffling reincarna-

tion of the reckless, up-tempo Hill Country sound R.L. brought to Fat Possum records in the 1990s, but the Project isn’t about historic preservation: Burnside is an incredibly accomplished guitarist and drummer (proof: He’s won Drummer of the Year at the Memphis Blues Awards three times) and Ayers’ approach to slide guitar is ecstatic and sensitive and cool. They are natural collaborators and, for a guitar-and-drums duo, louder than the sum of their parts. WS.


THURSDAY 2/13 Gathr Films, the new Thursday night screening series at the Ron Robinson Theater, will keep things going this week with “Adult World,” the 2014 Scott Coffey comedy starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack, 7 p.m., $10. Also at 7 p.m., the poet and spoken word artist Mayda del Valle speaks at the M.L. Harris Auditorium as part of Philander Smith College’s “Bless The Mic” lecture series. Later on that night, White Water Tavern will host New York City Queens, Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth, and Roses (featuring Andrew Tobiassen of Deer Tick) at 9 p.m. Closing out the night will be Verse Simmonds at Club Elevations’ Valentine’s Day Party, doors open at 8 p.m., $10.



8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $12 adv., $15 day of.

A good introduction to Sebadoh is a video you can find on YouTube of the band making their “network television debut” on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 1994. Conan stumbles over the pronunciation of their band name and says their album “Bakesale” has spent several weeks atop the college radio charts (people used to notice these). Frontman Lou Barlow, the only remaining founding member after Eric Gaffney left a couple of years before, looks like an unkempt Daniel Radcliffe and is wearing a Seventeen magazine T-shirt, while behind them there’s a strange video projection of close-ups of children’s faces. It takes them two songs to fill their threeminute slot, and both sound absolutely

FREED MEN: Sebadoh performs at Stickyz Sunday night.

FRIDAY 2/14 terrible. This is a major part of their legacy, this consistent willingness to sound terrible. Their earliest releases, made while Barlow was in the process of being kicked out of Dinosaur Jr., were vast collections of very short and poorly recorded indie rock, and

even when they stepped up the production values in the mid-’90s, they were loose, disinterested and funny. If they lack the name recognition or selling power of peers like Pavement or Guided By Voices, they are as important and as influential as either. WS.

the best of Arkansas art-rap’s youngest generation. The Good Vibes lineup will include Reggie Gold, Rodney Cole, KD, Caleb Stephens, Vile Pack, Blimp, Youngin 10X and BJ Cole, with live production by King Boom and axxxxgxxx. That sounds almost overwhelming, but there’s a lot of energy around this scene at the moment,

and between Rodney Cole’s stoner boombap and Vile Pack’s aggro, Odd Futurelike group attack, there should more than enough good local hip-hop here to be worth your eight bucks. NSOM is doing God’s work for the state’s hip-hop community, and if you haven’t already, you should check out their site at WS.

action-comedy Laurel and Hardy. Hill and Spencer, a.k.a. Mario Girotti and Carlo Pedersoli, a.k.a. the right and left hands of the devil, respectively, here play gun-slinging brothers who team up to take on bounty hunters, scorpions, beautiful Mormons and Farley Granger. It’s a really well-made and enjoyable mess, complete with awkwardly

dubbed dialogue, slapstick fight choreography, and weird insults like “chicken thief” and “horse rustler.” This is an educational, culturally necessary screening, and I applaud Vino’s for performing this public service. No word yet on whether they plan to show the 1971 sequel, “Trinity is Still My Name.” WS.



9 p.m. Juanita’s. $8.

Following up on December’s Trill Clinton showcase, the Natural State of Mind crew will host another event at Juanita’s Sunday night highlighting


‘THEY CALL ME TRINITY’ 7:30 p.m. Vino’s. Free.

Vino’s continues its great spaghetti western screening series with E.B. Clucher’s “They Call Me Trinity,” a 1970 comedy starring Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, who made 20-something films together and earned a reputation as Italy’s own



7 p.m. Jack Stephens Center $10

The Ledge-ends of the game are back! The Senate will try to avenge last year’s loss to the House of Representatives at Hoops for Kids’ Sake, the second annual legislative charity hoops game. All fans of high-quality basketball should come out to

the game. OK, that’s not true, but political junkies should enjoy a chance to see newsmakers trade in the slacks for gym shorts and huff and puff up and down the court. Supposedly the Senate has recruited former Razorback Scotty Thurman as a celebrity ringer to try to counteract the built-in advantage on the House side: Rep. Fred Smith, a former Harlem Globetrotter. Key questions: Will hyper-competitive House Speaker Davy “The Baby-Faced Killah” Carter take things too seriously and pick

up a technical foul? Will Sen. Jeremy “The Round Mound” Hutchinson injure himself, another player or both? Will there be a side bet on the private option so we can wrap the session up early? Get in the spirit for the game with our “Ledge-ends of the Game” basketball cards from last year: arktimes. com/ledgehoops. All proceeds from the game will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas (BBBSCA), Boys & Girls Club of Bryant and Boys & Girls Club of Saline County. DR.

At 6 p.m., the Old State House Museum will screen King Vidor’s “Hallelujah,” his first sound film and one of the earliest Hollywood films to feature an all-black cast (much of it shot on location in Arkansas). Market Street Cinema will host a Valentine’s Day dinner and movie night featuring “Tortilla Soup,” Maria Ripoll’s 2001 comedy about a Mexican-American chef and his three daughters, and a seven-course meal inspired by food in the movie. Reservations required, 7 p.m., $33. Country singer Granger Smith will be at Revolution with Backroad Anthem, 9 p.m., $10 adv., $12 day of.

TUESDAY 2/18 The Oxford American magazine and South on Main will host Little Rock poet and Pulaski Tech professor Sandy Longhorn Tuesday night to celebrate the release of her new book, “The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths,” 7 p.m., Free. Also on Tuesday, The Celebrity Attractions Broadway Series will begin its three-night run of the award-winning hippie-Broadway classic, “Hair,” at Robinson Center Music Hall, 7:30 p.m., $16-$47.

WEDNESDAY 2/19 Jacksonville, Fla., swamp rock group JJ Grey & Mofro will be at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville with special guest Cody Canada, 9 p.m., $20. At Juanita’s, Nashville’s The Howlin’ Brothers will share a bill with Asheville group The Honeycutters, 9 p.m., $10. Meanwhile, late ‘90s, post-Danzig Misfits frontman Michael Graves will perform at Vino’s with The Muddlestuds and Jeremiah James Baker, 8 p.m., $13. On a very different note, concert violinist Oksana will be at South on Main as this week’s Local Live guest, 7:30 p.m.

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


AFTER DARK All events are in the Greater Little Rock area unless otherwise noted. To place an event in the Arkansas Times calendar, please e-mail the listing and all pertinent information, including date, time, location, price and contact information, to

President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Ramona Smith and the Soul Rhythms, Richie Johnson. Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 and 9 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-375-5351. www.cajunswharf. com. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 9 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. Tragikly White Band. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 9:30 p.m., $8 adv., $10 day of. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707. www.stickyz. com. Valentine’s Party Karaoke with JB. Prost. 322 President Clinton Blvd. 501-244-9550.



2014 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 3. Round 3 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase semifinals featuring the Chris Alan Craig Band, Flight Machine, Mad Nomad, and Flameing Daeth Fearies. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 9 p.m., $5-$7. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707. Bluegrass Jam. No cover. Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 8 p.m. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. “Inferno.” DJs play pop, electro, house and more, plus drink specials and $1 cover before 11 p.m. Sway, 9 p.m. 412 Louisiana. 501-907-2582. Irish Traditional Music Sessions. Dugan’s Pub, 7-9 p.m. 401 E. 3rd St. 501-244-0542. www. Jim Dickerson. 7 p.m. every Tue., Wed. and Thu., also Feb. 14. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. Krush Thursdays with DJ Kavaleer. Club Climax, free before 11 p.m. 824 W. Capitol. 501-554-3437. Live at Laman: Cruz Way Band. Laman Library, 7 p.m. 2801 Orange St., NLR. 501-758-1720. www. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Mayday By Midnight, Steve Bates. Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 and 9 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501375-5351. Michael Eubanks. Newk’s Express Cafe, 6:30 p.m. 4317 Warden Road, NLR. 501-753-8559. New York City Queens, Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth, Roses. White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. 2500 W. 7th St. 501-375-8400. Open jam with The Port Arthur Band. Parrot Beach Cafe, 9 p.m. 9611 MacArthur Drive, NLR. 771-2994. RockUsaurus. Senor Tequila, 7-9 p.m. 10300 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-224-5505. www. Summertime Jazz. Free jazz concert featuring Gary & Sylvia Summers, Dean Cato, Bill White, and Darin Hood. Faulkner County Library, 7 p.m. 1900 Tyler St., Conway. 501-327-7482. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 7:30 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. Verse Simmonds. Verse Simmonds performs at Club Elevations’ Valentine’s Day celebration. Free buffet until 11 p.m. Club Elevations, 8 p.m., $10. 7200 Colonel Glenn Road. 501-562-3317.


Collin Moulton. The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m., $7-$10. 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-228-5555.


Art of Motion: Tango. Arkansas Arts Center, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., $10 for non-members. 501 E. 9th St. 501-372-4000. 28

FEBRUARY 13, 2014



Jeff Dunham. The world’s most famous ventriloquist returns to Little Rock on his worldwide “Disorderly Conduct” tour. Verizon Arena, 8 p.m., $44. 1 Alltel Arena Way, NLR. 501-9759001. “Winter Sucks.” Original sketch comedy by The Main Thing. Call to make reservations. The Joint, 8 p.m., $20. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501-372-0205.


NASHVILLE SOUND: The Howlin’ Brothers will perform at Juanita’s Wednesday night with The Honeycutters, 9 p.m., $10.


“Fashion Hour” at the Capital: Where Fashion and Happy Hour Come Together. The Capital celebrates the last day of New York Fashion Week with cocktails and a fashion show. Capital Hotel, 5 p.m., $25. 111 W. Markham St. 501-3747474.


“Adult World.” Screening of the 2014 Scott Coffey comedy starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack. Ron Robinson Theater, 7 p.m., $10. 1 Pulaski Way. 501-320-5703.


“The Bible and the American Prison.” Lecture, reception, and book signing by author and Duke Divinity School professor Lauren Winner in Mills A. Hendrix College, 7 p.m. 1600 Washington Ave., Conway. Bless The Mic: Mayda del Valle. Poet and spoken word artist Mayda del Valle speaks at the M.L. Harris Auditorium as part of Philander Smith College’s “Bless The Mic” lecture series. Philander Smith College, 7 p.m. 900 W. Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive.


Horse racing. Oaklawn, through April 11: 1 p.m., $2.50-$4.50. 2705 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501623-4411.


Lovebird Happy Hour Fundraiser. With Loblolly Creamery, Southern Gourmasian and Rock Town Distillery. Benefits the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas. Green Corner Store, 4 p.m. 1423 Main St. Suite D. 501-374-1111. www.


Miranda July. Public reading and book signing at the College of Business in Room 107. University of Central Arkansas, 7:30 p.m. 201 Donaghey Ave., Conway. 501-450-3344. writers-in-residence.



Almost Infamous. Markham Street Grill And Pub, 9 p.m., free. 11321 W. Markham St. 501224-2010. B-Flats. Classic rock covers played by local physicians. Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 9 p.m., $7. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. www. Club Nights at 1620 Savoy. Dance night, with DJs, drink specials and bar menu, until 2 a.m. 1620 Savoy, 10 p.m. 1620 Market St. 501-2211620. DJ Harm. Deep Ultra Lounge. 322 President Clinton Ave. “For the Love of Wu.” The Music of 36 Chambers and Beyond. Velvet Kente presents a Valentine’s Day tribute to the Wu featuring The Funkanites, 607, Osyrus Bolly, and a DJ set by Joshua Asante. White Water Tavern, 10 p.m. 2500 W. 7th St. 501-375-8400. www. Granger Smith, Backroad Anthem. Revolution, 9 p.m., $10 adv., $12 day of. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501-823-0090. Jason Greenlaw & The Groove. West End Smokehouse and Tavern, 10 p.m., $5. 215 N. Shackleford. 501-224-7665. Jim Dickerson. 7 p.m. every Tue., Wed. and Thu., also Feb. 14. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room. 500

Ballroom Dancing. Free lessons begin at 7 p.m. Bess Chisum Stephens Community Center, 8-11 p.m., $7-$13. 12th & Cleveland streets. 501-221-7568. Salsa Night. Begins with a one-hour salsa lesson. Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $8. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228.


AmeriStamp Expo 2014. The nation’s largest winter postage stamp show, with an opening ceremony speech by Gov. Mike Beebe. Statehouse Convention Center, Feb. 14-16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 7 Statehouse Plaza. 814-933-3803. LANTERNS! Festival. Wildwood Park’s annual Outdoor Winter Festival returns with lights, entertainment, and food from Asia, Jamaica, Mexico, New Orleans, Rome, and Shakespeare’s England. Free for children 5 and under. Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts, Feb. 14, 6 p.m.; Feb. 15, 6 p.m.; Feb. 16, 6 p.m., $5-$10. 20919 Denny Road. LGBTQ/SGL Youth and Young Adult Group. Diverse Youth for Social Change is a group for LGBTQ/SGL and straight ally youth and young adults age 14 to 23. For more information, call 244-9690 or search “DYSC” on Facebook. 800 Scott St., 6:30 p.m. 800 Scott St.


“Tortilla Soup.” Valentine’s day dinner and movie night featuring “Tortilla Soup,” Maria Ripoll’s 2001 comedy about a Mexican-American chef and his three daughters, and a sevencourse meal based on food from the movie. Reservations required. Market Street Cinema, 7 p.m., $33. 1521 Merrill Drive. 501-312-8900.


Horse racing. Oaklawn, through April 11: 1 p.m., $2.50-$4.50. 2705 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501-623-4411.

The Bigg Fat Tuesday Party Is Coming Back! SATURDAY, FEB. 15


Abandon All Ships, The Browning, My Ticket Home, I Am King. Juanita’s, 9:30 p.m., $14. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228. www. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra: “Best of Broadway.” An evening of Broadway show tunes. Robinson Center Music Hall, Feb. 15, 8 p.m.; Feb. 16, 3 p.m., $18-$59. Markham and Broadway. Big Stack. West End Smokehouse and Tavern, 10 p.m., $5. 215 N. Shackleford. 501-224-7665. The Cedric Burnside Project. The grandson of Mississippi blues legend R.L. Burnside and winner of the 2013 Memphis Blues Award for Drummer of the Year. White Water Tavern, 10 p.m., $10. 2500 W. 7th St. 501-375-8400. www. Club Nights at 1620 Savoy. See Feb. 14. DJ Harm. Deep Ultra Lounge. 322 President Clinton Ave. Jeff Coleman. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room, 7 p.m. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. Karaoke at Khalil’s. Khalil’s Pub, 7 p.m. 110 S. Shackleford Road. 501-224-0224. Karaoke. Casa Mexicana, 7 p.m. 6929 JFK Blvd., NLR. 501-835-7876. Karaoke with Kevin & Cara. All-ages, on the restaurant side. Revolution, 9 p.m.-12:45 a.m., free. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501-823-0090. K.I.S.S. Saturdays. Featuring DJ Silky Slim. Dress code enforced. Sway, 10 p.m. 412 Louisiana. 501-492-9802. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Moonshine Mafia, Greg Madden. Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 and 9 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-3755351. Open Fields. Bear’s Den Pizza, 9 p.m. 235 Farris Road, Conway. 501-328-5556. Pickin’ Porch. Bring your instrument. All ages welcome. Faulkner County Library, 9:30 a.m. 1900 Tyler St., Conway. 501-327-7482. Ramming Speed, Abandon the Artifice, Human Bashing, Descended From Wolves, Slamphetamine. Vino’s, 8 p.m., $7. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466. Singer/Songwriters Showcase. Parrot Beach Cafe, 2-7 p.m., free. 9611 MacArthur Drive, NLR. 771-2994. Strangelove with Lance Daniels. Prost. 322 President Clinton Blvd. 501-244-9550. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 9 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces. Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 9 p.m., $7. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. Valentine’s Pops Concert. Symphony of Northwest Arkansas performance. Walton Arts Center, 7:30:30 p.m. 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-443-5600.


Collin Moulton. The Loony Bin, 7:30 and 10 p.m., $7-$10. 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-228-

5555. “Winter Sucks.” See Feb. 14.


Little Rock West Coast Dance Club. Dance lessons. Singles welcome. Ernie Biggs, 7 p.m., $2. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-247-5240. www.


2014 EVOLVE Rio Carnival. Hosted by the Centers for Youth & Families Foundation, featuring Rodney Block & The Real Music Lovers. Little Rock Marriott, 6 p.m., $100. 3 Statehouse Plaza. 501-906-4000. travel/litpb-little-rock-marriott. AmeriStamp Expo 2014. See Feb. 14. Falun Gong meditation. Allsopp Park, 9 a.m., free. Cantrell & Cedar Hill Roads. Hillcrest Farmers Market. Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd. Historic Neighborhoods Tour. Bike tour of historic neighborhoods includes bike, guide, helmets and maps. Bobby’s Bike Hike, 9 a.m., $8-$28. 400 President Clinton Ave. 501-613-7001. Insure Affordable Care. Get free help enrolling in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. Laman Library, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., free. 2801 Orange St., NLR. 501-758-1720. LANTERNS! Festival. See Feb. 14. Pork & Bourbon Tour. Bike tour includes bicycle, guide, helmets and maps. Bobby’s Bike Hike, 11:30 a.m., $35-$45. 400 President Clinton Ave. 501-613-7001. Pretty Things Peep Show. “Valentine’s Hangover Ball,” featuring 22 cabaret and burlesque performances ranging from sword swallowing to belly dancing. Revolution, 8:30 p.m., $12 adv., $15 day of. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501-8230090. Valentine’s Burlesque Show. Featuring the Corsettes, Dominique Sanchez & the Disco Dolls Discovery Nightclub, 12:30 a.m. 1021 Jessie Road. 501-664-4784.


Horse racing. Oaklawn, through April 11: 1 p.m., $2.50-$4.50. 2705 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501623-4411.



Arkansas Symphony Orchestra: “Best of Broadway.” An evening of Broadway show tunes. Robinson Center Music Hall, 3 p.m., $18$59. Markham and Broadway. Good Vibes Hip-Hop Showcase. Produced by King Boom and axxxxgxxx, featuring Reggie Gold, Rodney Cole, KD, Caleb Stephens, Vile Pack, Blimp, Youngin 10X, and BJ Cole. Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $8. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-3721228. Irish Traditional Music Session. Hibernia Irish Tavern, first and third Sunday of every month, 2:30 p.m. 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501246-4340. Karaoke with DJ Sara. Hardrider Bar & Grill, 7 p.m., free. 6613 John Harden Drive, Cabot. 501-982-1939. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Sebadoh. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack,

8:30 p.m., $12 adv., $15 day of. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707.


Make plans now to join us March 4 at the best Fat Tuesday spot in the Rock! Contests, Giveaways, Specials, Good Times and More!

AmeriStamp Expo 2014. See Feb. 14. LANTERNS! Festival. See Feb. 14. “Live from the Back Room.” Spoken word event. Vino’s, 7 p.m. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466. www.


Horse racing. Oaklawn, through April 11: 1 p.m., $2.50-$4.50. 2705 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501623-4411.


33rd annual Soup Sunday. Benefit for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, with Local Lime chef Ben Brainard as VIP chef. Embassy Suites, 4 p.m., $5-$50. 11301 Financial Centre. 501-312-9000.



Daniel Francis Doyle, Biggins Burg. Vino’s. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Monday Night Jazz. Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 8 p.m., $5. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196.

A Chicago style Speakeasy & Dueling Piano Bar. This is THE premier place to party in Little Rock. “Dueling Pianos” runs seven days a week. Dance & Club music upstairs on Wed, Fri & Sat. Drink specials and more! Do it BIGG! Open 7 Days A Week • 8pm-2am Shows Start at 8:30pm

Located in the Heart of the River Market District 307 President Clinton Avenue 501.372.4782


Horse racing. Oaklawn, through April 11: 1 p.m., $2.50-$4.50. 2705 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501623-4411.



High Lonesome, Big Ginsburg. Bear’s Den Pizza, 9 p.m. 235 Farris Road, Conway. 501-328-5556. Jim Dickerson. 7 p.m. every Tue., Wed. and Thu. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. Karaoke Tuesday. Prost, 8 p.m., free. 322 President Clinton Blvd. 501-244-9550. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Lucious Spiller Band. Copeland’s Restaurant of Little Rock, 6-9 p.m. 2602 S. Shackleford Road. 501-312-1616. Music Jam. Hosted by Elliott Griffen and Joseph Fuller. The Joint, 8-11 p.m., free. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501-372-0205. Tuesday Jam Session with Carl Mouton. Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 8 p.m., free. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196.


“Latin Night.” Revolution, 7:30 p.m., $5 regular, $7 under 21. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501823-0090.


10th Annual George Washington Birthday Celebration. Featuring guest speaker Wade CONTINUED ON PAGE 32


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AFTER DARK, CONT. Derden, the social science division chair at National Park Community College. Reservations required. Hot Springs Country Club, 11:30 a.m., $23. 101 Country Club Drive, Hot Springs. 501915-0456. Tales from the South. Authors tell true stories; schedule available on website. Dinner served 5-6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Call for reservations. Starving Artist Cafe, 5 p.m. 411 N. Main St., NLR. 501-372-7976. Trivia Bowl. Flying Saucer, 8:30 p.m. 323 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-8032. www.beerknurd. com/stores/littlerock.


“Breathless.” Free screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic as part of the University of Arkansas Libraries’ 2014 Film Series. Mullins Library, 7 p.m. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. “They Call Me Trinity.” Free screening of the 1970 spaghetti western film starring Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Vino’s, 7:30 p.m. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466.


“Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.” Lecture and book signing by Aram Goudsouzian, chair of the History Department at the University of Memphis. Sturgis Hall, 12 p.m. 1200 President Clinton Ave. (501) 683-5239.


Sandy Longhorn Reading. Free book launch for Little Rock poet Sandy Longhorn’s latest, “The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths.” Featuring a performance by jazz group Trio Cabrito. South on Main, 7 p.m. 1304 Main St. 501-244-9660.


Hoops for Kids Sake. Members of the Arkansas House of Representatives square off against members of the Arkansas Senate in the second annual legislative charity basketball game. Proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas, Boys & Girls Club of Bryant and Boys & Girls Club of Saline County. Jack Stephens Center, UALR, 7 p.m., $10. 2801 S. University Ave.



Acoustic Open Mic. Afterthought Bistro & Bar, 8 p.m., free. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. Brian & Nick. Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-375-5351. Heavy Glow. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 9 p.m., $3-$5. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707. The Howlin’ Brothers, The Honeycutters. A night of bluegrass and roots music featuring Nashville’s The Howlin’ Brothers and Asheville’s The Honeycutters. Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $10. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228. www. Jim Dickerson. 7 p.m. every Tue., Wed. and Thu. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. JJ Grey & Mofro, Cody Canada. Soulful swamp rock from Jacksonville, Florida. George’s Majestic Lounge, 9 p.m., $20. 519 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-442-4226. Karaoke at Khalil’s. Khalil’s Pub, 7 p.m. 110 S. Shackleford Road. 501-224-0224. Live music. No cover charge Sun.-Tue. and Thu. Ernie Biggs. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-372-4782. Local Live: Concert Violinist Oksana. South on Main, 7:30 p.m. 1304 Main St. 501-244-9660. Michael Graves, The Muddlestuds, Jeremiah James Baker. Late ‘90s, post-Danzig Misfits frontman heads a bill also featuring The Muddlestuds and Jeremiah James Baker. Vino’s, 8 p.m., $13. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466. www. Open Mic Nite with Deuce. Thirst n’ Howl, 7:30 p.m., free. 14710 Cantrell Road. 501-379-8189. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 7:30 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474.


The Joint Venture. Improv comedy group. The Joint, 8 p.m., $7. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501372-0205. Tommy Blaze. The Loony Bin, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.;

Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 21, 7:30 and 10 p.m.; Feb. 22, 7:30 and 10 p.m., $7-$10. 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-228-5555.


Little Rock Bop Club. Beginning dance lessons for ages 10 and older. Singles welcome. Bess Chisum Stephens Community Center, 7 p.m., $4 for members, $7 for guests. 12th & Cleveland streets. 501-350-4712. www.littlerockbopclub.


African American History Month celebration. Featuring members of the Arkansas National Guard and the Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission, with light refreshments. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, 11 a.m. p.m. 503 E. 9th St. 376-4602.


Vincent Ilustre. Lecture and book signing by Vincent Ilustre, founding executive director of Tulane University’s Center for Public Service. Sturgis Hall, 12 p.m. 1200 President Clinton Ave. (501) 683-5239.


Wednesday Night Poetry. 21-and-older show. Maxine’s, 7 p.m., free. 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501-321-0909.


“Hair.” The Celebrity Attractions Broadway Series presents the award-winning hippie-Broadway classic, “Hair” for a three-night run. Robinson Center Music Hall, Feb. 18-20, 7:30 p.m., $16-$47. Markham and Broadway. “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” The Weekend Theater, through Feb. 22: Fri., Sat., 7:30 p.m., $12-$16. 1001 W. 7th St. 501-374-3761. www. “Steel Magnolias.” Pocket Community Theater, through Feb. 16: Fri., Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m., $5-$10. 170 Ravine St., Hot Springs.




Ave., suite 400: “40 Years — A Retrospective,” work by Win Bruhl, reception 5-8 p.m. Feb. 14, 2nd Friday Art Night. BUTLER CENTER GALLERIES, Arkansas Studies Institute, 401 President Clinton Ave.: Open 5-8 p.m. Feb. 14, 2nd Friday Art Night, with featured artist Russell Lemond in retail gallery and music by Oksana Pavilionis; “Unusual Portraits: New Works by Michael Warrick and David O’Brien,” through March 22; “Reflections in Pastel,” through Feb. 22, main gallery; “Native Arkansas,” early Arkansas through the writings of early explorers and Native American artifacts, including Mississippian period, Caddoan and Carden Bottoms objects, Concordia Hall, through Feb. 22. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 3205790. COX CREATIVE CENTER, 120 River Market Ave.: Thousand Words gallery open 5-8 p.m. Feb. 14, 2nd Friday Art Night. 918-3093. GALLERY 221 & ART STUDIOS 221, Pyramid Place: “Love is in the Air,” work by Gino Hollander, Emile, Greg Lahti and Byron Taylor, reception 5-8 p.m. Feb. 14, 2nd Friday Art Night. 801-0211. HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM, 200 E. 3rd St.: Mid-Southern Watercolorists “44th Annual Juried Exhibition,” opens with reception 5-8 p.m. Feb. 14, 2nd Friday Art Night, music by Kit & Kaboodle; “Chasing the Light,” photography of Brian Chilson, through March 10; “A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America,” through June 22; “Arkansas Made,” ongoing. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun. 324-9351. LOCAL COLOUR GALLERY, 5811 Kavanaugh Blvd.: “Red Wine and Chocolate” Valentine’s Day Show, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 14; work by artists collective. 265-0422. MOSAIC TEMPLARS CULTURAL CENTER, 501 W. 9th St.: “Repurposed Wonders: The Sculpture of Danny Campbell,” reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 13; “Black History Quiz Bowl,” 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 15; permanent and changing exhibits on black entrepreneurship in Arkansas. 683-3593. OLD STATE HOUSE MUSEUM, 300 W. Markham: “Second Friday Cinema: ‘Hallelujah,’ ” reception at 5 p.m., screening at 6 p.m. Feb. 14, 2nd Friday Art Night; “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!”, the state’s ties to Hollywood, including costumes, scripts, film footage, photographs and more, through March 1, 2015; “Things You Need to

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hearsay ➥ Did you know THE GOOD EARTH GARDEN CENTER is having a birthday? Our favorite lawn and garden purveyor turns 40, and they are making some changes in preparation for spring, including a new inventory of outdoor furniture. They have so much furniture that they have converted a whole building over into the outdoor living area, which will have patio furniture, grills, fountains, an outdoor lighting room and an outdoor kitchen model. Good Earth’s first seminar of the year, How to Prune Like a Pro, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 15. Seating is limited so registration is required. Call 501-868-4666 or email info@thegoodearthgarden. com to reserve your seat. ➥ OZARK OUTDOOR SUPPLY’S 16th annual winter clearance sale is underway, with deals on jackets, sweaters and fleece by North Face, Patagonia and others marked down up to 50 percent off. Footwear is 40-60 percent off. ➥ CANTRELL GALLERY is proud to present “Arkansas Weather Report”, an exhibit of recent acrylic paintings by Daniel Coston of Fayetteville. The exhibit will continue through April 27. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. ➥ This unrelenting cold has got us all ready for spring, and you can get a sneak preview by attending the 2014 ARKANSAS FLOWER AND GARDEN SHOW, scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at the Statehouse Convention Center. The show, which benefits educational scholarships to Arkansas horticulture students and beautification programs across the state, features 80 vendors, a display garden competition, demonstrations, how-to sessions and a silent auction. Show times are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors 60 and older. Children 16 and under receive free admission. A threeday pass may be purchased for $12. Participants may park for free at Dickey-Stephens Park and take the shuttle provided by Arkansas Destinations for $1 round trip per adult. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit www. 32

FEBRUARY 13, 2014



Built for everyone ‘Lego Movie’ works for kids and adults. BY SAM EIFLING


he Lego Movie” is one of the funniest, most madcap animated movies of recent memory, and perhaps ever. It’s like pouring Mentos and Diet Coke straight into your brainpan while doing backflips on a trampoline and staring through a kaleidoscope. It’s like being submerged in candy and tickled by seraphim. “The Lego Movie” is like one of those gigantic fast-food burgers that’s really, like, four burgers smashed together and sold as a heart-attack starter kit. There are probably three or four movies’ worth of movie crammed into “The Lego Movie,” such that you could make your own sequel just by watching it a second time and paying attention differently. If it feels as chaotic as a tub of Legos tumped onto the carpet, well, that’s just mise-en-scene you’re stepping on barefoot. The film is animated primarily as Lego blocks and buildings and canyons and space ships and whatnot, giving it the feel of high-speed stop-motion with the chunky pixilation of an 8-bit video game. It looks like nothing that has come before, it builds characters who are distinct and likable, and it runs on pure nitrous oxide, like a drag racer on laughing gas. There is a plot in all of this, too. Let’s see. There’s a construction worker, a pleasantly unremarkable dude named Emmett (Chris Pratt), who’s really into

‘THE LEGO MOVIE’: Chris Pratt provides the voice of Emmett.

the most popular TV show (“Where’s My Pants?”), the most popular song (“Everything is Awesome,” an instantly immoral earworm by Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island), overpriced coffee and hanging out with his friends. Except he doesn’t have any friends, really — he’s so conformist that no one has any reason to remember him. That is, until he stumbles across a fabled block that marks him as the Special, a master builder prophesized to save the world (echoes here of “The Matrix”). He doesn’t believe this himself, but a lovely and mysterious builder named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) is convinced, so he follows her into a resis-

tance against the autocratic corporate ruler, President Business (Will Ferrell), who plans to use a super weapon to freeze the world in place. Other notable characters that will make no sense as listed here: Batman (Will Arnett), a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), and a brutal/kindly cop (Liam Neeson). Suffice it that everyone is awesome. The jokes whiz past like so many plastic laser blasts — you know you’re missing plenty of them, but it’s too much of a trip to care. The pitch of the humor harks to early-’90s episodes of “The Simpsons,” in which some of the jokes were squarely for kids, and others for adults, but generally so accessible that any generational differences shrank and winked out of existence. This is what Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng might’ve attempted had they enjoyed this many moving parts at their disposal for Looney Tunes cartoons. Among its many delights is the sheer fact that a movie explicitly named after a toy by all rights could’ve been nothing more than a crass, 100-minute commercial. Instead, directors Phil Lord (“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”) and Christopher Miller (ditto) steer the story through some big adult thoughts on conformity, commercialism, mass culture, creativity and identity, to a degree children’s movies rarely attempt. Heck, any movies, for that matter. The moral, if there is one, seems to be that you’re special, unless you’re not, but that’s fine, too, because you can be, if you just do things. And at a certain level that’s probably pretty accurate, even if — all right — it totally makes you hanker to go dink around with Legos.

AFTER DARK, CONT. FAYETTEVILLE BOTTLE ROCKET GALLERY, 1495 Finger Road: “Makeshift Theatre,” photographs by Logan Rollins. 479-466-7406. UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: “Wisdom of the Ages Athenaeum,” rare books from Remnant Trust, including a cuneiform tablet (2200 B.C.) to the first printing of the Emancipation Proclamation (1862), Mullins Library, through May 12. 479-575-4104. HOT SPRINGS ARTISTS WORKSHOP GALLERY, 610 A Central Ave.: Work by Pati Trippel and John Keller, through February. 623-6401 BLUE MOON GALLERY, 718 Central Ave.: “My Watercolor Images,” work by Kay Aclin, through February. 318-2787. GALLERY CENTRAL, 800 Central Ave.: Work by Houston Llew, Amy Hill-Imler, Gloria Garrison, James Hayes and others. 318-4278. JUSTUS FINE ART, 827A Central Ave.: Work by Kari Albright, Donnie Copeland, Steve Griffith, Matthew Hasty, Robyn Horn, Dolores Justus,

Rebecca Thompson, Dan Thornhill and Emily Wood, through February. 321-2335. PINE BLUFF ARTS AND SCIENCE CENTER FOR SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS, 701 Main St.: “Glazed with Fire,” ceramics by Joe Bruhin, through Feb. 24. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 1-4 p.m. Sat. 870-536-3375.


ARKANSAS INLAND MARITIME MUSEUM, North Little Rock: 371-8320. ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME MUSEUM, Verizon Arena, NLR: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 663-4328. CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL MUSEUM VISITOR CENTER, Bates and Park: Exhibits on the 1957 desegregation of Central and the civil rights movement. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. 374-1957. CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER, 1200 President Clinton Ave.: “Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America,” from the International Spy Museum in

Washington, D.C., through April 27; permanent exhibits on the Clinton administration. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun. $7 adults; $5 college students, seniors, retired military; $3 ages 6-17. 370-8000. ESSE, 1510 S. Main St.: “What’s Inside: A Century of Women and Handbags (1900-1999),” purses from the collection of Anita Davis, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun., $10-$8. 916-9022. MacARTHUR MUSEUM OF ARKANSAS M I L I TA R Y H I S T O R Y , M a c A r t h u r Park: “American Posters of World War I”; permanent exhibits. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-4 p.m. Sun. 376-4602. MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY, 500 President Clinton Ave.: “Wiggle Worms,” science program for pre-K children 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. every Tue., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun., $10 ages 13 and older, $8 ages 1-12, free to members and children under 1. 396-7050. WITT STEPHENS JR. CENTRAL ARKANSAS NATURE CENTER, Riverfront Park: Exhibits on wildlife and the state Game and Fish Commission.

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


Celebrate Arkansas Artisans! Beautiful handmade quality products by Arkansas artists!

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Includes chemical-free small batch soaps made by hand and crafted with care. Ingredients and inspiration taken from local farms and exotic lands to bring you the colors and fragrances of nature.

The husband and wife team of Wellsmade have combined their crafts to offer this authentic artisan side table. Aaron, a skilled fabricator, and his artist wife, Sarah, collaborated to bring this beautiful distressed wood top with an industrial metal base. The wood, full of surprising rich tone and imperfections, gives each piece individual character.

Hand-painted in a home studio, these original pieces of art are bound to be the quirkiest pieces in your collection. Flaunt your Wearable Artwork Cat Jewelry with your choice of three laserbeaming cats or a normal, but still cool, tabby cat.

This super cozy, lightweight longsleeved Little Rock shirt is the perfect layering piece featuring a map of Arkansas’ capital city in the shape of a heart. Throw it on when the nights get a little chilly and let everyone know which city has your heart. Printed on American Apparel shirts; available in charcoal and orchid.

Love Factory Heart Print by Roll & Tumble Press

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Handpainted Sign

Bouchra Bronze Cuff Bracelet

Handmade Double Lockblade Pruner

Roll & Tumble Press Little Rock, AR

Sleet City Decor Fayetteville, AR

Lauren Embree Jewelry Fayetteville, AR

He Man Tools North Little Rock, AR

Roll & Tumble’s Christie Turk learned printmaking the traditional letterpress way, no plastic plates, all hand-set type, on vintage hand-cranked presses. They’ve done exclusive runs for a gallery in London (Pictures On Walls), and been in magazines like Bust and Neet.

Military banter or clever wording? All we know is that this sign will stand out in any home. The distressed black and white original Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Handpainted Sign design is perfect for expressing how you feel. Whether that’s peeved or just ridiculously excited, this sign communicates what we all know you’re thinking…WTF.

Dress it up with this ornately fabulous large filigree Bouchra Bronze Cuff Bracelet. This statement jewelry piece is perfect paired with your favorite maxi dress or jeans. Stand out in bold bronze.

Handmade in Conway, AR by accomplished knife maker Vernon Red. Damascus straight blade accompanied by a second equally beautiful pruner. Bois d’arc handle. HeMan brand in the handle.

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Dining GLYNDA TARPLEY, co-owner of EJ’s Eats and Drinks at 523 Center St., said that a second location of the restaurant will open at 3604 Kavanaugh Blvd. in May or June. It’s actually a return for the restaurant, which opened in Hillcrest in 2002 before moving downtown.  Tarpley said that she and her co-owner are in the process of securing the liquor license, with plans calling for a full bar pending license approval. Once the license is in place, Tarpley said, they’ll completely remodel the space, next door to Hocott’s Garden Center on Kavanaugh, just before the hill heading into the Heights neighborhood.  EJ’s downtown is popular lunch spot, with more than 25 sandwich varieties, plus wraps, salads, soups, appetizers and big burgers. You can check out the menu at their website, Tarpley said the new Hillcrest EJ’s will have slightly longer hours than the downtown restaurant, but the food and service will be familiar to anyone who has eaten at EJ’s. “The menu’s going to be basically the same,” she said. “We may expand it a little, but not much. We’re trying to make it family friendly, and we’ll have delivery and take out. It’s for people who don’t want fast food, but served food at a moderate price.”  Tarpley said that permits for the liquor and parking for the new space should be sorted by March, followed by a few months of remodeling. ON THURSDAY AT GREEN CORNER STORE, Loblolly Creamery hosts Lovebird Happy Hour, a fundraiser for Audubon Arkansas, whose representatives will be on hand to talk about the Great Backyard Bird Count. Southern Gourmasian will be outside selling food and Rock Town Distillery will also be on hand, ready to make any of Loblolly’s soda fountain creations an adult beverage. The event runs from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.




1620 SAVOY Fine dining in a swank space. The scallops are especially nice. 1620 Market St. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-221-1620. D Mon.-Sat. ALLEY OOPS The restaurant at Creekwood Plaza (near the Kanis-Bowman intersection) is a neighborhood feedbag for major medical institutions with the likes of plate lunches, burgers and homemade desserts.


FEBRUARY 13, 2014




SKIP IT: Ozark Country Restaurant’s ham, egg and cheese croissant with country potatoes.

Sad breakfast Ozark Country Restaurant let us down.


et’s get one thing clear right at the beginning: We wanted to like the Ozark Country Restaurant. On the surface, this seemed to be a restaurant tailor-made for our tastes, as we tend to gravitate toward greasy spoon diners where a stack of pancakes and a cup of coffee are never more than a few minutes in hitting the table, usually served up by a sassy lady who calls everybody “hon.” That may make us sentimental, but we maintain that good country cooking can hit the spot as well or better than any of the fussy, highbrow meals we’ve eaten. So upon entering the ramshackle dining room of the Ozark Country Restaurant, we were excited to get some of that expected country goodness in our bellies ... until we actually began eating. Then things went downhill quickly. The sins visited upon breakfast by the Ozark Country Restaurant are so many that they should be listed on a scroll somewhere as a warning to others, perhaps somewhere in the Old Testament around the book of the Lamentations, or nestled snugly among those hell-raising minor prophets. To say that our meal had no redeeming qualities is not merely an understatement;

Ozark Country Restaurant 201 Keightly Drive 663-7319

QUICK BITE Although we focused on breakfast during our visits to Ozark Country Restaurant, it serves a lunch menu of sandwiches and burgers after 10:30 a.m. daily. HOURS 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. OTHER INFO All major CC, No alcohol.

it’s an indication that no meal at Ozark Country Restaurant could ever have any redeeming qualities, due entirely to the joint’s committing several cardinal sins of the restaurant business, namely poor ingredients, apathetic preparations, and abysmal customer service. Our first bad plate, an order of sweet potato pancakes ($5.99) with a side of bacon ($2.99), was actually the best of the bunch, which saddens us all over again. The pancakes at Ozark Country Restaurant are large, so anyone

heading to breakfast just for quantity should be pleased. The actual texture is decent — the cakes are fluffy without being dense or chewy. From a taste standpoint, though, we may as well have been eating the menus for all the flavor we could discern. The sweet potatoes promised in our hot cakes were barely there, and what few bits we could find were obviously of the canned variety and offered little in terms of flavor. To beef up the sweet potatoes, the cakes were topped with an ample portion of what looked and tasted like pumpkin pie spice, a woefully misguided addition that gave everything a flavor of vaguely burnt cinnamon. Still, cover these things with enough butter and synthetic maple syrup, and most people will be able to choke them down. Our biggest letdown in this dish was in the side of bacon, mostly because it’s really hard to screw up bacon. Ozark Country Restaurant manages to do so by using a low quality bacon not even suited for school cafeterias or prison chow lines, frying it up in advance, then slapping it on a plate when ordered. The result is two hard leather strips of tasteless pork that aren’t even hot, the grease slowly congealing back into solid lard. Like many of the things we tried, it isn’t fresh, and it isn’t prepared with anything approaching care. Moving on from the pancakes, we sampled a ham, egg, and cheese croissant with a side of country potatoes ($7.99) — and again the disappointments mounted. Having been unimpressed with the soft, mealy country potatoes on a previous visit, we asked our server to have the line cook prepare them “extremely well done,” hoping that this would translate into potatoes with a touch of crispness to the outside. What actually happened was that the server either never said a word to the kitchen or was ignored, because if those spuds had been undercooked any more we would have just been eating a raw russet like an apple — only the raw variety probably would have had more flavor. If the potatoes were bad, the croissant was worse, so bad, in fact, that it’s hard to know where to begin. We suppose the greatest flaw in this dish was the ham, or rather the large slab of gristle and fat that the place referred CONTINUED ON PAGE 37

Information in our restaurant capsules reflects the opinions of the newspaper staff and its reviewers. The newspaper accepts no advertising or other considerations in exchange for reviews, which are conducted anonymously. We invite the opinions of readers who think we are in error.

Remarkable Chess Pie. 11900 Kanis Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-221-9400. LD Mon.-Sat. ASHER DAIRY BAR An old-line dairy bar that serves up made-to-order burgers, foot-long “Royal” hotdogs and old-fashioned shakes and malts. 7105 Colonel Glenn Road. No alcohol, No CC, CC. $-$$. 501-562-1085. BLD Mon.-Sat., D Fri.-Sat. B-SIDE The little breakfast place in the former party room of Lilly’s DimSum Then Some turns tradition on its ear, offering French toast wrapped in bacon on a stick, a musthave dish called “biscuit mountain” and beignets with lemon curd. 11121 Rodney Parham Road. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-7162700. B-BR Sat.-Sun. BAR LOUIE This chain’s first Arkansas outlet features a something-for-everybody menu so broad and varied to be almost schizophrenic. 11525 Cantrell Road, Suite 924. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-228-0444. LD daily. BOBBY’S COUNTRY COOKIN’ One of the better plate lunch spots in the area, with some of the best fried chicken and pot roast around, a changing daily casserole and wonderful homemade pies. 301 N. Shackleford Road, Suite E1. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-224-9500. L Mon.-Fri. THE BOX Cheeseburgers and french fries are greasy and wonderful and not like their fast-food cousins. 1023 W. Seventh St. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-372-8735. L Mon.-Fri. BUFFALO GRILL A great crispy-off-thegriddle cheeseburger and hand-cut fries star at this family-friendly stop. 1611 Rebsamen Park Road. Full bar, CC. $$. 501-296-9535. LD daily. CAFE 5501 New American cuisine in sleek setting. 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-603-0080. LD Mon.-Sat., B Sat.-Sun. CAFE 201 The hotel restaurant in the Crowne Plaza serves up a nice lunch buffet. 201 S. Shackleford Road. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-223-3000. BLD Mon.-Sat., BR Sun. CHEERS Good burgers and sandwiches, vegetarian offerings and salads at lunch and fish specials, and good steaks in the evening. 2010 N. Van Buren. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-663-5937. LD Mon.-Sat. 1901 Club Manor Drive. Maumelle. Full bar, All CC. 501-851-6200. LD daily, BR Sun. DAVE AND RAY’S DOWNTOWN DINER Breakfast buffet daily featuring biscuits and gravy, home fries, sausage and madeto-order omelets. Lunch buffet with four choices of meats and eight veggies. 824 W. Capitol Ave. No alcohol. $. 501-372-8816. BL Mon.-Fri. THE HOP DINER The downtown incarnation of the old dairy bar, with excellent burgers, onion rings, shakes, daily specials and breakfast. 201 E. Markham. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-244-0975. LASSIS INN One of the state’s oldest restaurants still in the same location and one of the best for catfish and buffalo fish. 518 E 27th St. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 501-372-8714. LD Tue.-Sat. MADDIE’S PLACE If you like your catfish

B Breakfast L Lunch D Dinner $ Inexpensive (under $8/person) $$ Moderate ($8-$20/person) $$$ Expensive (over $20/person) CC Accepts credit cards



breaded Cajun-style, your grits rich with garlic and cream and your oysters fried up in perfect puffs, this Cajun eatery on Rebsamen Park Road is the place for you. 1615 Rebsamen Park Road. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-660-4040. LD Tue.-Sat. MARIE’S MILFORD TRACK II Healthy and tasty are the key words at this deli/grill, featuring hot entrees, soups, sandwiches, salads and killer desserts. 9813 W Markham St. No alcohol, CC. $-$$. 501-225-4500. BL Mon.-Sat. PACKET HOUSE GRILL Owner/chef Wes Ellis delivers the goods with an up-to-date take on sophisticated Southern cuisine served up in a stunning environment that dresses up the historic house with a modern, comfortable feel. 1406 Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-372-1578. D Tue.-Sat. SLICK’S SANDWICH SHOP & DELI Meatand-two plate lunches in state office building. 101 E. Capitol Ave. No alcohol. 501-375-3420. BL Mon.-Fri. VICTORIAN GARDEN We’ve found the fare quite tasty and somewhat daring and different with its healthy, balanced entrees and crepes. 4801 North Hills Blvd. NLR. $-$$. 501-758-4299. L Mon.-Sat.

Daily Drink Specials Weekend Brunch Menu Happy Hour Tues-Fri 3-6pm Open Late Catering Available Sun, Tue, Wed, Thu - 11am–11pm Fri & Sat - 11am–Midnight


CAPITOL SMOKEHOUSE AND GRILL Beef, pork and chicken, all smoked to melting tenderness and doused with a choice of sauces. The crusty but tender backribs star. Side dishes are top quality. A plate lunch special is now available. 915 W. Capitol Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-372-4227. L Mon.-Fri. CONTINUED ON PAGE 37



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FORBIDDEN GARDEN Classic, Americanized Chinese food in a modern setting. Try the Basil Chicken. 14810 Cantrell Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-868-8149. LD daily. FU LIN Quality in the made-to-order entrees is high, as is the quantity. 200 N. Bowman Road. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-225-8989. LD daily, BR Sun. IGIBON JAPANESE RESTAURANT It’s a complex place, where the food is almost always good and the ambiance and service never fail to please. The Bento box with tempura shrimp and California rolls and other delights stand out. 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 501-217-8888. LD Mon.-Sat. KOBE JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE & SUSHI Though answering the need for more hibachis in Little Rock, Kobe stands taller in its sushi offerings than at the grill. 11401 Financial Centre Parkway. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-225-5999. L Mon.-Sat. D daily. VAN LANG CUISINE Terrific Vietnamese cuisine, particularly the way the pork dishes and the assortment of rolls are presented. Great prices, too. Massive menu, but it’s user-friendly for locals with full English descriptions and numbers for easy ordering. 3600 S. University Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-570-7700. LD daily.

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MUSICIANS SHOWC A SE 5 Rounds · 20 Competing Bands · 1 Winner

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Jan 30 - Round 1 Peckerwolf W I N N ER

Artists are

Feb 6 - Round 2 John Willis W I N N ER

competing for cash (and other prizes) in 2014!

Feb 13 - Round 3

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Round 3


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Round 1

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DINING REVIEW, CONT. to as ham. Like the bacon, this ham was cheaply bought and carelessly prepared, and like the bacon, it was completely inedible. An afterthought addition of rubbery scrambled eggs and a slice of neon orange American cheese did nothing to help the plate, and the croissant itself might as well have been a bagel for all the dense, stale chewiness it possessed. We could go on about the lumpy, uncomfortable booths, the weak coffee, or the surly owner who never spoke a single word as he ran our credit card for the check, but we’re sure you get the

point. This was as bad a meal as we’ve ever had, and it wasn’t cheap either. The place obviously has its fans, as it has been full every time we’ve gone, but after multiple trips that have ended in disaster, we can’t remotely see what they like about the place. It’s a dank, uncaring cave of a restaurant where the ingredients are the cheapest available, prepared as fast as possible, and served with no style or skill, and the fact that they’ve been doing it for so long without getting any better at it is just another one of the places egregious crimes against food.

DINING CAPSULES, CONT. SIMS BAR-B-QUE Great spare ribs, sandwiches, beef, half and whole chicken and an addictive vinegar-mustard-brown sugar sauce unique for this part of the country. 2415 Broadway. Beer, CC. $-$$. 501-372-6868. LD Mon.-Sat. 1307 John Barrow Road. Beer, All CC. $-$$. 501-224-2057. LD Mon.-Sat. 7601 Geyer Springs Road. Beer, All CC. $$. 501-562-8844. LD Mon.-Sat.


ALI BABA A Middle Eastern restaurant and grocery. 3400 S University Ave. No alcohol, All CC. 501-570-0577. LD Mon.-Sat. KHALIL’S PUB Widely varied menu with European, Mexican and American influences. Go for the Bierocks, rolls filled with onions and beef. 110 S. Shackleford Road. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-224-0224. LD daily. BR Sun. THE PANTRY Owner and self-proclaimed “food evangelist” Tomas Bohm does things the right way — buying local, making almost everything from scratch and focusing on simple preparations of classic dishes. The menu stays relatively true to his Czechoslovakian roots, but there’s plenty of choices to suit all tastes. There’s also a nice happy-hour vibe. 11401 Rodney Parham Road. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-353-1875. LD Mon.-Fri., D Sat.


DAMGOODE PIES A somewhat different Italian/pizza place, largely because of a spicy garlic white sauce that’s offered as an alternative to the traditional red sauce. Good bread, too. 2701 Kavanaugh Blvd. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-664-2239. LD daily. 6706 Cantrell Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-6642239. LD daily. 10720 Rodney Parham Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-664-2239. LD daily. 37 East Center St. Fayetteville. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 479-444-7437. LD daily. GUSANO’S They make the tomatoey Chicago-style deep-dish pizza the way it’s done in the Windy City. It takes a little longer to come out of the oven, but it’s worth the wait. 313 President Clinton Ave. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-374-1441. LD daily. 2915 Dave Ward Drive. Conway. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-329-1100. LD daily. VESUVIO Arguably Little Rock’s best Italian restaurant. 1315 Breckenridge Drive. Full bar, All CC. $$$. 501-246-5422. D daily.


CASA MANANA Great guacamole and garlic beans, superlative chips and salsa (red and 37

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


green) and a broad selection of fresh seafood, plus a deck out back. 6820 Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-280-9888. LD daily 18321 Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-8688822. LD daily 400 President Clinton Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. BL Mon.-Sat. EL PORTON (LR) Good Mex for the price and a wide-ranging menu of dinner plates, some tasty cheese dip, and great service as well. 12111 W. Markham St. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-223-8588. LD daily. 5201 Warden Road. NLR. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-753-4630. LD daily. THE FOLD BOTANAS BAR Gourmet tacos and botanas, or small plates. Try the cholula pescada taco. 3501 Old Cantrell Road. Full bar, CC. $$-$$$. 501-916-9706. LD daily. LA CASA REAL 11121 N Rodney Parham Road. Full bar, All CC. 501-219-4689. LD Mon.-Sat. LA VAQUERA The tacos at this truck are more expensive than most, but they’re still cheap eats. One of the few trucks where you can order a combination plate that comes with rice, beans and lettuce. 4731 Baseline Road. No alcohol, No CC. $. 501-565-3108. LD Mon.-Sat. LAS PALMAS Mexican chain with a massive menu of choices. 10402 Stagecoach Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-455-8500. LD daily 4154 E. McCain Blvd. NLR. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. LD daily. MARISCOS EL JAROCHO Try the Camarones a la Diabla (grilled shrimp in a smoky pepper sauce) or the Cocktail de Campechana (shrimp, octopus and oyster in a cilantro and onion-laced tomato sauce). 7319 Baseline Road. Beer, All CC. $-$$. 501-565-3535. Serving BLD Fri.-Wed. MERCADO SAN JOSE From the outside, it appears to just be another Mexican grocery store. Inside, you’ll find one of Little Rock’s best Mexican bakeries and a restaurant in back serving tortas and tacos for lunch. 7411 Geyer Springs Road. Beer, CC. $. 501-5654246. BLD daily. RIVIERA MAYA Typical Mexican fare for the area, though the portions are on the large side. 801 Fair Park Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-663-4800. LD daily. ROCK ’N TACOS California-style cuisine that’s noticeably better than others in its class. Fish tacos are treated with the respect they deserve, served fresh and hot. Tamales are a house specialty and are worth sampling as well; both pork and beef warrant attention. 11121 North Rodney Parham Road. No alcohol, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-812-3461. LD Mon.-Sat.

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CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE YEARS IN DINING ATTENTION READERS We’ve tallied your votes and the results are final. March 6 we reveal the favorite restaurants from central Arkansas in all parts of the state ...

Best Overall

Best Chinese

Best Japanese

Best New

Best Coffee

Best Mexican

Best Chef

Best Deli/Gourmet to go

Best Other Ethic

Best Server

Best Desserts

Best Pizza

Best Bakery

Best Food Truck

Best Place for Kids

Best Barbecue

Best Fried Chicken

Best Romantic

Best Breakfast

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Best Seafood

Best Brunch

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Best Steak

Best Buffet

Best Burger

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

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