Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Dining Review

A diner that's the real deal

October 19, 2017
A diner that's the real deal
Littlefield's on JFK. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Comedy of bad manners

October 19, 2017
Comedy of bad manners
A sugary Moliere remix helps the medicine go down at The Rep. /more/


Max Brantley

Caution: government at work

I have several government targets this week. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Tax tales

The easiest task in the world may be to persuade people that they are paying higher taxes than folks in other communities, states and countries, but there is never a shortage of people taking on the task. /more/

Gene Lyons

The casting couch

Long ago and far away, I had an academic superior who enjoyed sexually humiliating younger men. There was unwanted touching — always in social situations — but mainly it was about making suggestive remarks, hinting that being a "hunk" was how I'd got hired. /more/

Movie Reviews

American Made' is as swift as Seal's hustle

October 5, 2017
American Made' is as swift as Seal's hustle
It's a Reagan-era romp from director Doug Liman. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Thumped again

October 19, 2017
Seems like a bad prescription for beating the all-pro assemblage of talent that dons Alabama garb year in, year out, but the Arkansas Razorbacks started their third quarterback in three years against the Crimson Tide, and the end result was predictable. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Arkansas Blog

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 15:46:00

Brad Cazort to head Crime Information Center

Brad Cazort has been named director of the Arkansas Crime Information Center.

A news release from Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he'd recommended Cazort for the position and the Board of the Center voted for Cazort Friday.

Cazort, a lawyer and former Little Rock city director, has worked at ACIC since 2005. He succeeds Jay Winters, who the governor said stepped down for health reasons.


Monday, October 23, 2017 - 15:26:00

Another week, another open line

The Monday open line and today's news and comment.


Monday, October 23, 2017 - 15:21:00

Criticism arises on Hutchinson appointee to dental board

Criticism has arisen of Gov. Asa Hutchinson for not taking the Arkansas Dental Association's recommendation for a dental regulatory board appointment and appointing instead someone with a record of dental practice violations in the early 1990s. An account that is being widely circulated called the governor's action "unprecedented in modern times."

According to the memo (which I originally identified as being from the Dental Association, but whose origin is not clear or confirmed) the Association recommended Dr. Lauren Harmon of Jonesboro for an open seat on the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners. Instead, Hutchinson named Dr. Richard L. Smith of North Little Rock, who practices with Monarch Dental. Said the memo:

Dr Smith had been found by the ASBDE to be in violation of the practice act on three occasions in the early 1990's, the first being overprescribing of narcotics. In light of the national focus on opioid abuse, the Governor's office promoted legislation in the 2017 to monitor the overprescribing of class II and III narcotics.

The other charges and penalties enforced against Dr Smith were for performing dentistry in a professionally incompetent manner and working without a valid license. In all three instances, Dr Smith's dental license was suspended. There have been no further actions by ASBDE against him, and his license to practice dentistry in Arkansas is active.

The memo faulted the governor for breaking with "tradition" in rejecting its suggestion for the board. It said its nominee had been "vetted at the district and state level." Smith is not a member of the Association, the memo noted.

The dental examiners meet next on Nov. 17.

I've sent questions to the governor's office about the memo and have left a message for a comment from Smith. An employee of the Dental Association took messages for its director, Billy Tarpley. He did not return calls or an e-mail message, but the employee said at one point that he'd "taken care of" questions about the statement, which had prompted several calls to the association.

The memo was received by Association members in the group’s email list, I have been told.

The record of  Smith's disciplinary issues is available on-line.

According to a January 1990 document, he admitted overprescribing a Schedule II narcotic. His license was suspended for 30 days, he was fined $1,000 and he was placed on 18 months probation.

An order in September 1991 said he'd performed root canals on three patients in a professionally incompetent manner. had administered nitrous oxide on one patient in an incompetent manner and allowed an unqualified employee to scale teeth. He was reprimanded, given a suspension of four months and fined.

An order in 1992 said Smith continued to offer dental services during the time he was on suspension. Smith contested this.

Finally, in October 1993, the State Board entered an order settling the pending issue by acknowledging two months of suspension that had been served and giving Smith an 18-month probation.

He's had no further appearances before the board for disciplinary reasons in the 24 years since and the board confirms he is licensed to practice.


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Monday, October 23, 2017 - 16:56:00

Review: Bruno Mars at Verizon Arena

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Well, they say you should dress for the job you want, and Bruno Mars is dressed to the nines, musically speaking, like the masters of melisma that precede him: Sly Stone, Michael Jackson, D'Angelo. No doubt because he has a preternatural gift for flirting with people from 50 yards away, the crowd of 15,806 stood for nearly an hour and a half before we collectively remembered that our ticket price included a chair to sit in. There were explosions, full cold stops, endless (and flawless) choreography, Guns N' Roses-style guitars playing in thirds together, more explosions, giant Lego-esque stage mechanisms with rotating blocks of light, champagne fountain fireworks, and several dozen synchronized pelvic thrusts for emphasis. It was loud, proud pop perfection, packaged in a clean, '90s-inspired stage design, ripe with color blocking and patterns that looked like the front cover of a Trapper Keeper.

I'm way-past-fashionably late to the Bruno Mars party, so once I got myself past being stultified by the clarity and charm of Mars' voice (and that it was powerful enough to cut short a 15,000-person hog-calling session), I could afford to marvel at his backing band, The Hooligans. In keeping with Mars' newest, titled "24K Magic," they donned jerseys and baseball caps; all of them, in solidarity, were No. 24, and managed to put down some JabbaWockeeZ-level choreography for nearly two hours like the world's tiniest and funkiest marching band, and they mostly did it while playing their instruments. John Fossitt's elegant keyboard solo brought the house down. Philip Lawrence, whose technical job title is "background vocalist" but who operates as more of a bandleader, was endlessly charismatic, and bassist Jamareo Artis' footwork could have occupied any audience members' attention singlehandedly. Also, seemingly, everybody in the band can sing, and inserted dense, Boyz II Men-ish harmonies at twists and turns; I guess if you're gonna roll with Bruno, your triple (or quadruple) threats need to be multiple and robust. If I, a Bruno Mars novice, discovered tomorrow that each of The Hooligans had their own action figurine, complete with a stylized mask and fictional superpower, I would not be surprised. And, to his credit, probably because he occupies center stage so securely himself, Mars was quick to shine the spotlight on The Hooligans when the time arose.

Speaking of those whose names weren't on the top of the bill, two nods are due: one to opener Jorja Smith, whose vocal ease blends the best bits from Andra Day and Erykah Badu; and two, to the Dancing Guy in Section 109, who managed to get the attention of the entire arena with some world-class, vigorous booty grinding ("I bet he's sober as a jaybird," the guy behind me said) and who was inexplicably escorted out by security, then back in, eliciting cheers from a crowd already gathering pre-show momentum. You're the best, Dancing Guy. Don't ever stop.

As for Mars, he's sort of a modern-day Carmen, sauntering through his set as if "That's What I Like" were a rehash of Bizet's famed "Habanera" and blending cocky swagger with a pleading, vulnerable sensuality. Evidently, he's got the vocal and physical stamina to do this nearly every night for months on end, too. What's more, he makes his aesthetic crush on Motown and old-school showmanship work for the audience; I mean, he basically sang a heart-wrenching ballad into a bedazzled cordless phone, and I bought it hook, line and sinker. Suddenly, I understood why people had been securing their seats to this spectacle since last November. I was a mere beer away from issuing a full written apology to my listening companion, who'd been patiently trying to extol Mars' many virtues to me for years. I'd been told the guy had been an Elvis impersonator since around age 4 and, after seeing him live, that made perfect sense; it's a little difficult to imagine the Honolulu native doing anything else but entertain.


Sunday, October 22, 2017 - 09:22:00

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's "French Connection" tackles Milhaud, Weill, Ravel and Debussy: A Review

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Okay, so the Brazilian rhythms in Milhaud's "Le boeuf sur le toit" ("The Bull on the Roof") didn't always line up, and perhaps the composer himself pushed what could have been a cute five minutes of dissonant flute and oboe vignettes into a protracted fifteen. Still, Saturday night's concert from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra was an absolute delight. To see the ASO flexing a somewhat auxiliary muscle was fun and refreshing, and I hope people get out this afternoon to hear the raucous program which, in part, recalls the timeframe when early 20th century French composers had major musical crushes on Gershwin, et al.

"Le boeuf," Milhaud's "surrealist ballet," as ASO Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson called it —- was worlds away from the seat-filling safe bets that make up the Greatest Hits of Classical Music and, despite wearing its jazz influences on its sleeve, was simultaneously worlds away from any pops/Broadway repertoire. The composer, perhaps thumbing his nose as Brahms, as Robson said, fashioned a dance that was alternately voluptuous, sublime and goofy, with the aforementioned dissonance working as musical cartoon, like the impressionistic landscapes painted by Oliver Wallace's score for Disney's "Alice in Wonderland." Except, maybe, a "Wonderland" in which the scenery changed every eight or sixteen bars.

Afterward, when the violin section departed to allow for the Steinway grand to be wheeled out for rock star pianist Ji to play Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, it felt like ritual. Like a magician who arranges things before your very eyes to show you he hasn't rigged anything up to deceive you. Ji arrived on stage in a snug, crisp white button-up shirt, impeccable shoes and white pants with a mid-calf hem length and a loud print. Enough of a hotshot to quell any sartorial objections from more conservative patrons, Ji's fingers flew as they do on the Android commercial "Monotune," and the ratio of notes played to time on stage was dizzying.

Ravel was tight with Gershwin, musically, as the second movement's simple but "scintillating engaging melody" (Robson's words) demonstrated. It was given a reverent treatment by Ji, and the unity of the violin section behind him was perfect in this and other moments, like a perfectly attuned hive of bees, humming vibrantly at the same frequency.

Then, as my listening companion described it, a giant vacuum came and sucked every ounce of jazz out of the room. Kurt Weill's "Berliner Symphonie," seven movements played as one 20-or-so minute continuous brooding statement, was utterly serious and desperately inquisitive, fists raised to the sky, a la Jerry Goldsmith's score for "Planet of the Apes."

And then came Claude Debussy's "Petit Suite," otherwise known as dessert. The sweet collection of four vignettes from the man Robson called "the father of modern music" was so festive and sparkly it made me fantasize about a brilliant feat of Christmastide computer hacking, wherein every satellite radio instance of that tired old rendition of "Sleigh Bells" were replaced with this confection from Debussy; I think we'd all enjoy the holiday a little more.


Friday, October 20, 2017 - 14:02:00

Guest Playlist: Alex Flanders of KABF-FM 88.3's "GIRLS!" gives a primer in advance of tonight's benefit show

click to enlarge Alex Flanders
  • Alex Flanders

A while back, we asked Alex Flanders, host of "GIRLS!" on KABF-FM 88.3 and entrepreneur behind Crying Weasel Vintage, to put together a playlist for us, showcasing some favorite rockers from her Thursday night radio show. What we got was a 27-track certified tutorial in rock, pop and punk made by women, not to mention further proof that women are behind some of the most inventive rock and roll being made today.

Tonight, GIRLS! hosts a benefit for the community radio station at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m., featuring sets from DOT, Squelch, and Junkbomb, as well as comedy sets from Brittany Birrer and Cortney Warner and a costume contest celebrating historic iconic women, "musicians, scientists, artists, activists, authors," or others.

We thought we'd share some crucial tracks from the GIRLS! archives ahead of the show. If you like what you hear, listen in on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. 8:30 p.m, and join the host, et al. tonight and dress up as your favorite historic woman.


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Toast of the Town 2017

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The best of bars, beers and booze in Central Arkansas and beyond. /more/


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What's in a name? Plenty, Mosaic Templars supporters say

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