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Fall Arts

Fall Arts

September 13, 2018

Vol 45 • No 2

Fall Arts 2018

The cultural preview for the season.

Fall Arts 2018 calendar

Art, music, film and more.

2018 fall Arkansas fine arts preview

Crystal Bridges completes the American story with "Art for a New Understanding."

2018 fall Arkansas film preview

Film offerings come into focus.

2018 fall Arkansas music preview

From Salty Dogs to Squirrel Nut Zippers

2018 fall Arkansas theater preview

Phantoms, elves and Frank N. Furters take the stage this fall.

Las Delicias is

Humble hole-in-the-wall has authentic Mexican food.

AGS' unique mission

The state Board of Education will be voting Thursday, Sept. 13, on the location and curriculum for the Arkansas Governor's School for the coming four years. Both setting and curriculum are absolutely critical to the success of the Governor's School, and changing both would be detrimental.


The Observer, who knows a thing or three about anonymity, found our self nonetheless shocked by the recent New York Times op-ed by the anonymous King or Queen of the White House Molepeople, the person who appears to have responded to the Emperor having no clothes not by telling his Nekkid Excellency to put some damn pants on, but by getting buck nekkid, too, and calling his or her junk-out bit-waggling a sacrifice for a nation that oughta damn well be grateful for it.

'The Nun' delivers on the monster thrills, even if they're cheap ones

Starring creatures of habit.

Big Piph takes 'The Glow' to ACANSA

Inspired by Hasan Minhaj and Michael Jordan.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Criminal Masterminds Edition

Play at home, while resisting the temptation to shamelessly rip off the taxpayers who elected you!

'First Ladies of Arkansas: Women of their Times' opens at the Old State House

And much more.

McCain, and money better spent elsewhere

I had hoped to refrain from criticizing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) until after his corpse was delivered to the landfill, but, for all of your blathering about how wonderful the recently departed McCain was, you've seriously missed McCain's greatest legacy: President Trump.

Arkansas Children's Asthma Choir


Unless you're a serious tennis fan, you probably don't know that exactly one player was expelled from the 2017 U.S. Open: Fabio Fognini, for calling a chair umpire a "whore" and worse in Italian during a losing match. He was also fined $96,000 and threatened with banishment from Grand Slam events if he didn't quit acting like a punk on the court.

Sixty years ago, Little Rock closed all its public high schools rather than desegregate them

The tossed year.

Throw the bums in the legislature out

Jon Woods, the former state senator, got a whopping 18-year federal prison sentence last week from Judge Timothy Brooks, who described Woods' criminality as "grotesque" and "depraved."

Woods sentenced

And much more.

Banana Moonshine Salon comes to White Water

And Shonen Knife comes to Stickyz.

High crime

Since President Trump has been terrifying us about a huge national crime epidemic, it's time to mention that we have a doozy in Arkansas. There's been nothing like it in at least a hundred years.

Work requirements don't work, no matter how often governor says it

The heartless Hutchinson administration is feeling the heat from its likely illegal and punitive Medicaid work requirement, made doubly punitive by a computer-only reporting requirement for people without computers, broadband access or transportation to get to computers to log into a system that doesn't operate 24 hours a day. But the governor and his mouthpieces doubled down yesterday, insisting this is all about making deadbeats better, more productive citizens. One key problem: Work requirements don't achieve these aims.

Work requirement bars over 4,000 from receiving Medicaid coverage

In the first round of coverage losses.

Trump declares thousands of deaths in Puerto Rico fake news

There's growing sentiment that this is the worst tweet by Trump ever. Fierce competition, for sure.

Arkansas among seven states that limit aid to crime victims with records

Another national notice for Arkansas: It is one of only seven states that deny aid to crime victims if they've had a criminal past.

Supreme Court reverses murder conviction on insufficient trial record

The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed the conviction of Eric Darnell Thrower in a Ouachita County murder and arson case and ordered a new trial because of an insufficient record of trial proceedings. The court said there was sufficient evidence to convict.

Arkansas's gender pay gap: Could be worse. Also a lot better.

The AAUW has used Census data to calculate the gender pay gap and it shows Arkansas ranked 30th in the disparity between pay for men and women.

'Unprecedented' cooperation results in home confinement for Micah Neal

UPDATE: Former state Rep. Micah Neal has received a probationary sentence, including one year of home confinement, for what Judge Timothy Brooks called an "unprecedented" reduction in sentencing guidelines for his cooperation in the case in which he's pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from more than $600,000 in state money he helped direct to Ecclesia College.

State Board votes to transfer Arkansas Governor's School to Arkansas Tech

The state Board of Education today ratified a committee recommendation to move Arkansas Governor's School, the summer residential program for bright high school seniors, from Hendrix College to Arkansas Tech.

Mike Pence sets Arkansas visit to help French Hill

Mike Pence is coming to Little Rock Sept. 21 to help Republican Rep. French Hill of the 2nd District, whose re-election challengers include Democratic state Rep. Clarke Tucker.

UPDATE; Chief justice gets off case over lawsuit limits amendment

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Dan Kemp today filed a one-sentence letter announcing his recusal from the lawsuit seeking to remove Issue One from the ballot. By Kemp's standard, Justice Shawn Womack should follow.

Thursday: News roundup and open line

The news roundup and the open line.

New episode of Out in Arkansas: "T&A talk the 'V' word"

This week Traci and Angie navigate vulnerability from within and without. They discuss their own vulnerability and the need for “safe” spaces and the importance of being an ally both in and out of our community.

State Board takes over Pine Bluff School District

The state Board of Education today voted unanimously for the state to take over the Pine Bluff School District. KARK reports.

A glimmer of hope for return of local control of Little Rock School District

The state Board of Education meeting today included an exchange of information that indicates there could be a return of local control of the Little Rock School District by 2020, which would require a school board election in November 2019.

State to seek repayment from Ecclesia College. At last.

Doug Thompson reported in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today that the state Finance and Administration Department has asked Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to sue to recover at least $600,000 of the $700,000 in tax money sent to the private Ecclesia College in a scheme orchestrated by legislators who took kickbacks from the money. It's about time.

Asa's government transformation plan is looming. People are talking

The Democrat-Gazette's MIchael Wickline today quoted Gov. Asa Hutchinson as saying he hoped to rejoin the Correction Department and Community Correction Department, a merger forecast here back in July when Sheila Sharp was sacked as boss of Community Correction. Brother, that ain't all the governor has in mind.

Kemp also gets off casino lawsuit

Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp also yesterday said he would not participate in a case seeking to toss the casino expansion amendment off the ballot. He did not give a reason.

Manafort cooperating with special prosecutor

The Washington Post reports that Trump campaign manager has struck a plea deal with Special Prosecutor Robert Muller that includes a cooperation agreement. Lock them up.

Democrats go after Rutledge security spending to attend political events

Democrats have produced an ad slamming Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for using multiple members of her cyber crimes unit as personal security for political travel. Noted: She also used office money to buy some binoculars, apparently to better watch the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Recommendations made on balancing court caseloads; Womack targets Pulaski

A committee of judges has made recommendations for adding judgeships in five districts with heavy growing caseloads by subtracting them from other districts. Noteworthy: Supreme Court Justice Shawn Womack continues to play a heavy role and his knives are out for Pulaski County.

No Small Talk, Ep. 28: Fosse's "All That Jazz"

If you missed last month's sold-out screening of "The Red Shoes," you're in luck; Consider this month's Arkansas Times Film Series screening of Bob Fosse's gritty, glitzy 1979 fantasy "All That Jazz" the B-side, and join us Tuesday, September 18 at Riverdale 10 Cinema to find out why.

Friday: Open line and the news roundup

Another week done. An open line and the daily headline/comment roundup.

The Beginning of the End of Governor's School Edition

Max and Lindsey discuss the latest court hearings in the sprawling public corruption case that’s rocked Arkansas politics; various educational dealings including a change in Arkansas Governor's School and discussion on the return of local control for the Little Rock School District; and government transformation.

Hot Springs agency strikes deal to acquire Preferred Family Healthcare assets

Preferred Family Healthcare, the behavioral health provider that is shutting down in Arkansas following the loss of Medicaid contracts as a result of the public corruption scandal, apparently has a potential buyer for assets in Arkansas. It is Quapaw House, whose operations include  inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment at Hot Springs and Russellville and a prisoner re-entry program.

A belated Purple Heart for victim of Elaine Massacre

Thanks to research by UA-Little Rock history professor Dr. Brian MItchell, the World War I heroism of a black man who was a victim of the Elaine massacre will be recognized this month.

Research says the midterm election is all about Trump. Could it help in Arkansas?

Dana Milbank, the Washington Post columnist, writes here about research that suggests midterm elections this year will be more heavily weighted than ever by voters' evaluation of the president. The question: Do Arkansas Democrats dare rely on Trump's low rating among voters? It is Arkansas, after all.

Botham Jean case draws attention from New York Times

Page One in today's New York Times: A roundup of the controversy that has arisen from a white police officer's shooting of Harding graduate Botham Jean, a black native of St. Lucia, in his own  Dallas apartment.

Medicaid Commission 'alarmed' by lost coverage in Arkansas. What, Asa worry?

While Gov. Asa Hutchinson was touting the character-building aspect of his work requirement for Medicaid, a federal commission was expressing alarm at the first report of thousands of people losing coverage.

Whew pig open line

Next week Auburn

Football fakery fools the Hogs

I don't do much sports but the fake fair catch that led to a North Texas State touchdown against the Razorbacks Saturday is one for the replay reel. Alex Kirshner at SBnation dove deep and explains in detail how they pulled off this intricately orchestrated trick.

The nonprofit route to profits isn't limited to a rogue Medicaid provider

The Democrat-Gazette's further examination today of ill-gotten gains in the corrupt activities of past executives of Preferred Family Healthcare glides over something worth emphasizing about nonprofits such as PFH. They can make huge profits and shield the windfall through arrangements with for-profit management companies.

Kavanaugh accuser steps forward

A woman who says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school more than 30 years ago has stepped forward to tell her story to the Washington Post.

The sex-on-the-Huck's-beach open line

The open line includes a rip of Mike Huckabee by a Florida columnist for his effort to keep the common folk off his beach.

Arkansas outreach to working poor — #nuts

This about says it all about Arkansas's computer-only scheme for reporting required work hours to stay qualified for the expanded Medicaid health insurance coverage.

A change at the top of Tyson Foods; but new CEO got burned today

Tyson Foods, CEO, Tom Hayes is out.

Trent Garner's impeachment train rolls this morning

Sen. Trent Garner, a putative lawyer, won't rest until he can get Judge Wendell Griffen impeached for expressing his religious beliefs in public.

State recommends denial of new permit for C and H Hog Farm

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has recommended denial of a new permit for discharge of waste by the C and H Hog Farm in Newton County.

Mike Lee proposes government ethics package

Mike Lee, the Democrat challenging Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, outlined a detailed agenda to strengthen Arkansas ethics laws.

Worst ever

Let’s get this out of the way: Arkansas hasn’t had two consecutive weeks of football this torturous ever.

Monday's video and open line

Today's headlines: State recommends denial of new permit for C and H Hog Farm. A change at the top of Tyson Foods. Medicaid Commission 'alarmed' by lost coverage in Arkansas. Hot Springs agency strikes deal to acquire Preferred Family Healthcare assets.

Real estate listing removed for Rusty Cranford's million-dollar Florida beach house

As former lobbyist Rusty Cranford awaits sentencing on federal corruption charges, what will become of the $1.1 million beach house in Osprey, Florida, that Cranford purchased in October 2015?

Three convicted on Medicaid fraud charges

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced several Medicaid fraud convictions, one involving over-billing and two related to the abuse of an impaired Medicaid patient.

Arkansas for Fair Wage set to defend minimum wage petition

After a challenge filed by a coalition of big business interests opposed to minimum wage increases — including the Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Hospital Association — the Arkansas Supreme Court's appointed magistrate is set to hear arguments this week on whether Issue 5 can remain on the ballot.

Governor taps Judge Stephen Tabor as replacement Supreme Court justice on Issue One case UPDATE

Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced that Judge Stephen Tabor of Fort Smith will serve as a replacement judge to hear the challenge to Issue One before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Unsealed court documents include kickback accusation against former state Rep. Tim Summers; Summers says "Jon Woods is a proven liar"

The more than 500 pages of court filings recently unsealed by Federal Judge Timothy Brooks in the federal corruption case against former state Sen. Jon Woods include notes from a 2017 meeting between former state Rep. Micah Neal and federal investigators. According to these notes, Neal described what appears to be an accusation by Woods that state. Rep. Tim Summers, then a lobbyist, took kickbacks in exchange for helping to get GIF money for an affiliate of Preferred Family Healthcare where Summers worked on staff.

Government transformation: An idea from the Insurance commissioner

I have been making information requests around state to government to get an inkling of what Gov. Asa Hutchinson intends to announce about reorganizing state government in the name of efficiency. This morning, an idea on that subject from Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr, unearthed by an FOI request.

Sierra Club endorses Clarke Tucker

The Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club has announced its endorsement of Democrat Clarke Tucker for the 2nd District congressional seat held by Republican French Hill.

Judge acquits teacher on charge from TV station; new complaint today

Lance Fritchman, a Little Rock School District teacher, was acquitted by District Judge Hugh Finkelstein Monday of a criminal trespass charge filed after a series of contentious visits and messages to KARK and Fox 16.

Ben Dickey gets Talk of the Town treatment in the New Yorker

Little Rock's Ben Dickey, continuing to ride the wave of good press from his starring role in "Blaze," gets a Talk of the Town piece in the New Yorker this week, including a killer illustration of him.

The New Yorker profiles Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Paige Williams, profiling Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the current New Yorker, describes the pugilistic Sanders as "Trump's battering ram." Bottom line: As defensive as ever.

More reorganization news

Some further news on the government reorganization front includes a memo sent to agencies by the governor's chief of staff, Alison Williams, last week.

Jeremy Hutchinson pleads not guilty

Former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson appeared briefly today before a federal magistrate to enter not guilty pleas to a dozen wire and tax fraud charges that he spent campaign money on himself and didn't report income.

Supreme Court expedites Issue One challenge

The Arkansas Supreme Court has expedited the appeal 

Bryant High School band withdraws from French Hill campaign rally

The Bryant High School Band has withdrawn from a planned appearance at a campaign rally Friday for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill after learning it was a political event.

Tuesday's open line and the daily news roundup

The open line and the day's news roundup.

Jared Henderson outlines health goals

Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, has released a list of ideas to improve access to health care and reduce costs, leading with an end to the computer work reporting requirement for participation in the expanded Medicaid program. "Our focus needs to be ensuring that Medicaid funds are spent appropriately and effectively, not making it harder for citizens that need coverage to get it," he said.

Sorry, haters, Hillary Clinton won't shut up

I spoke briefly with HIllary Clinton Sunday night after her talk at the Clinton Library and encouraged her to keep giving the opposition hell. "What else is there to do?" she replied.And, boy, has she.

Supreme Court sheds some light on dark political money

This could be big. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a conservative political group must disclose donors who pay for its explicitly political ads in the coming midterm elections.

Tom Cotton believes Brett Kavanaugh

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton appeared on a conservative radio show yesterday and said, "My opinion of Judge Kavanaugh has not changed. He's made an unequivocal and categorical denial of these 36-year-old allegations and every known fact so far supports that denial".

State prisons' water under boil order

The Arkansas Department of Correction's Tucker Unit and Tucker Maximum Security Unit have had limited or no water flow since Saturday, a prison spokesman said.

New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: 'Know Your Why'

Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the City of Little Rock’s initiative to find jobs for our homeless population, the State Board of Education’s decision to take over the Pine Bluff School District, and Governor Hutchinson’s press conference on Arkansas Works. They also discuss the entrepreneurial mindset with local business owner, Lydia Page.

The LR mayor candidates on the big ballot issues

Some big elections face voters this year, including the hot race for Little Rock mayor and, depending on court actions, as many as five very big statewide ballot issues. I decided to sample the five mayoral candidates on the ballot issues. In the end, the big three candidates — Frank Scott Jr., Warwick Sabin and Baker Kurrus — were more alike than different.

300,000 would benefit from minimum wage increase, Advocates say

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says 300,000 Arkansans, or 1 in 4, would benefit from the proposed increase in the minimum wage.

Cody Wilson, the Arkansas-born plastic gun promoter, charged with sexual assault

Cody Wilson, the Little Rock native who burst into national prominence with plans for printing plastic guns, has been arrested for sexual assault in Texas.

Governor appoints Finkelstein to hear casino amendment challenge

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed Little Rock District Judge Hugh Finkelstein to sit as a special justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court to hear lawsuits seeking to have the casino expansion amendment removed from the ballot.

John Brown released after 26 years in prison for murder judge said he didn't commit

The Midwest Innocence Project filmed the release in Fordyce today of John Brown, who spent 26 years in prison for a murder a federal judge decided he did not commit.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

Here's the roundup of news and comment. And this is your open line.

Trump: 'I don't have an attorney general'

Donald Trump went off on Jeff Sessions in an interview today. Sounds like the attorney general is on a short rope.

Ascent closing three centers for children

Ascent Children's Health Services is closing facilities in Arkadelphia, North Little Rock and West Memphis that provide Medicaid-covered early intervention day treatment and outpatient behavioral health services to about 400 children. Other providers will be sought, though Clark County at the moment has no early intervention program.