This year's Arkansas Literary Festival packs nearly 100 authors into three short days, its organizers putting together an encyclopedic event for all tastes and habits of reading. That's a good thing, and a bad thing: Those with a broad range of interests are going to be tearing their hair out trying to decide what sessions to sacrifice.
Summertime almost always makes The Observer think of the dogs of my youth, those constant companions who were always there as I tromped the wilds near Lawson Road in Little Rock, and later the fields and canebreaks of Saline County. It says something about the way that The Observer came up that the memory of summer always smells like wet dog.
I find it particularly suspicious, that when addressing issues that impact the older parts of our city [the ordinance to require conditional use permits for stores that sell beer or wine], the sentiment is always "something is better than nothing."
Sheffield Nelson is an odd person to be waging a one-man crusade against the business and political establishment to raise taxes on the Texas and Oklahoma gas producers who have been drilling in the Arkansas shale.
Sometimes I think that the more time I spend on the farm, the better I understand Washington journalists. Among cows, for example, virtually all decisions are group decisions, although it's often impossible to tell where a given idea originates. Sometimes the bull leads; sometimes he follows.
You have to feel a little sorry for the Arkansas Republican Party. After a lifetime of haplessness nearly unrivaled among state political parties in the United States, it is now in the midst of its first legitimate run for control of the state legislature since Reconstruction.
You know it's an election year, and people have been looking at polls, when politicians start shedding previously cherished convictions. U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of the First Congressional District, for one, is showing a newly acquired flexibility. Democrats think they have a good chance to beat the Republican freshman.
"New York City's new sensitivity guidelines for standardized tests ban 50 undesirable words that might 'evoke unpleasant emotions' in students, including 'dancing,' 'dinosaurs,' and 'birthdays.' Fundamentalists might be upset by dinosaurs and dancing, while Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. Also banned are 'Halloween' and 'junk food ...' "
By the time you read this, Bobby Petrino's judgment may well be wrought, and may have taken the form of outright dismissal, pecuniary loss or some hybrid penalty with a suspension and an in-house checklist by which to abide.
Well, back in Little Rock for one full day. Here's my return open line, including:
* SPANKING FOR JESUS: I ignored the news that the wacky Pat Robertson had endorsed spanking disobedient wives, citing the familiar Biblical support for wifely submission to their husbands.
Damien Echols, freed from Death Row in today's West Memphis Three plea bargain, released the following statement today:
To all my friends and family, my attorneys and advocates, and to those of you from every corner of this earth who have stood beside us these long years, please know that I will forever be indebted to all of you for helping me to become a free man. Each and every day I was the beneficiary of acts of kindness and humanity from people of all walks of life, of all ages, nationalities, religions and political persuasions.
Mike Huckabee, who left Arkansas, where he built the platform for his media success and which, incidentally, has an income tax, is putting down expensive roots in a beach development in Walton County, Fla., east of Destin — a $3 million home.
Over the past three years, his Rogers Photo Archive in North Little Rock has been on a buying spree, purchasing the vast photo morgues of 11 great (and greatly cash-strapped) American newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, the Boston Herald and The Detroit News.