Stories for December 2005


Saturday, December 31

My New Year's Resolutions for 2006

My New Years Resolutions are:

Click here to get your New Years Resolutions at

New Year's Twosome

It's a toss up—go out or stay in to celebrate New Year's Eve? Pair Shrimp Fettucine with your favorite Pinot Grigio, an unoaked Chardonnay or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for the perfect celebration.


On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Pink Floyd will release their much anticipated DVD, PULSE, on Columbia Records. This landmark release, captures the last Pink Floyd Division Bell tour in 1994, and was filmed at London's Earls Court during their record breaking 14 night residency. The two disc release contains the full concert performance with rare backstage footage and previously unseen extras.

Melton Resolves (Again) to Implode King Edward

Mayor Frank Melton laid out his immediate resolutions Friday afternoon:

Head's Political Prognostications for 2006

2006 is going to be a really big year for politics--city, state, and national. Here's my take on what to expect.

Friday, December 30

Look! It's the dude fron the doughnut commercials - what's-his-name!

Did anyone know that the name of the actor in the Dunkin Donuts was the late Michael Vale? Unless you're one of the nastalgic types who get a kick out of trivia questions, probably not. However, for all the other what's-his-names, AKA character actors, there is a way to find out who these kinda-sorta-famous people are.

ARTICLE: Fitness Industry Woos Black Consumers

Thanks to this title, I now have that Jeffery Osborne song in my head now: "And ya WOO WOO WOO, and ya WOO WOO WOO..." (That's also a clue to the rest of the story.)

Big Brother Investigating Who Told On Him

The New Colin Farrell

I can harldy stop giggling long enough to post this story.

Sweden: New Pants "Hate Christians."

This AP article was highly entertaining to me. Mainly because Sweden comes off as being the Twilight Zone version of the United States.

Thursday, December 29

Give It Up, Mr. Interception

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, aka Mr. Interception, talked the other day. Some interpreted his whining as a signal that Sunday's game will be his last in the NFL. Brett even wondered aloud if the Packers really want him to return. They insist they do. Doctor S has to admit that watching a future Hall of Famer throw 28 interceptions (so far) is entertaining, but it might not be the best way to run a football team. (Favre hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since Thanksgiving.) Meanwhile, at least one blogger says Favre is a publicity addict and wishes that he would just shut up. He's not the only one.

Wednesday, December 28

Miss Keke

Growing up gospel—that's Miss KeKe, aka the Queen of Mississippi's "Fokus." This 25-year-old Jackson native says her faith in God and hard work brought her to where she is today. She is a promoter in the music industry, helping local artists launch their careers.

2005 Year In Review, Part One: The First Six Months

No doubt about it, 2005 was the best of times, and the worst of times in Mississippi. We end the year sorrowful about our state's massive losses due to a wrathful hurricane and thankful that the old girl didn't take even more lives with her. We bid 2005 adieu with gratitude to Neshoba County citizens for finally starting to heal a festering old wound, and hopeful that the same thing will happen in upcoming months in Franklin County to bring justice in the 41-year-old Henry Dee-Charles Moore case. We close the year in awe of how far Jackson's renaissance has come since the JFP started publishing in 2002, and a bit concerned about the leadership of the city continuing that march toward our rightful place as the Deep South's most promising creative-class city.

What To Do This New Year's Eve in Jackson

Traditionally New Year's Eve means a celebration with family and friends. Here's the lowdown about your favorite spots around town. Our advice is to call right away for reservations.

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

Last year began on a high note for the Jackson Free Press, and it's closing on a high note—with our readership at an all-time high, our position as the city's most-read weekly publication cemented, and the biggest advertising issue we've published to date.

[BoozeTalk] DIY: Make Twists For Fifty

Even ugly people look refined when they're holding martinis with bright yellow twists on their rims. While Champagne is a must for your New Year's toast, most people don't want to drink bubbly all night, lest they succumb to an embarrassing fit of hiccupping or the dreaded Champagne migraine. Martinis, by contrast, convey all the elegance and good cheer of the holidays at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, nothing beats back a horde of thirsty revelers like a round of ice-cold martinis.

[Stiggers] The Spooks Outside Yo' Door

The following is an excerpt from the script, "The Spooks outside Yo' Door" by Kunta "Rasheed X" Toby:

‘Twin Lakes' All Over Again

Almost 60 years ago, flood waters utterly inundanted the city of Jackson, swelling up out of Town Creek, which is now contained and flowing under the Hood building. Then, in 1979, the waters of the Pearl River rose up to reclaim the ancient swampland upon which Jackson is built. That 1979 Easter flood caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage and sparked a number of desperate anti-flood plans by the Army Corps of Engineers and private investors looking to protect their assets. One was the $84 million Shoccoe Dry Dam Project and later the 1996 Levee Plan, neither of which got off the ground—killed by disagreement among residents and designers.

Anderson Goes Down ‘Perception' Road

After weeks of holding out on crime statistics, Jackson Police Chief Shirlene Anderson handed over two-week-old COMSTAT reports to city council members at the Dec. 20 council meeting. Anderson's initial defense for withholding the numbers was that the figures did not give an accurate portrayal of crime in the city.

Felons Are (Back) In

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, who refused to sit next to a "convicted felon" at a campaign forum back in April, is now a fan of granting second chances. Melton did a philosophical about-face last week when he hired former City Councilman Robert Williams as a mayoral assistant.

[Greggs] Ali G's Magnificent 2006 Predictions

Last year on New Year's, I made a resolution against resolutions. My logic for this decision was knowing that if I truly wanted to change something about myself, I could wake up some random Tuesday in March and make the same promise with the same results. I guess this gives a pretty good idea how well my resolutions have previously been integrated into my life. Yes, like hurricane relief in the Senate. Empty. Freaking. Promises.

[Kamikaze] The CNN Of The Streets

Over the years hip-hop music has been effective in uncovering many truths. The L.A.-based group NWA shined a bright light on rampant police brutality in songs like "F_*ck the Police." Rapper-turned-actor Ice T practically predicted the L.A. riots that followed the Rodney King verdict on his sophomore album, "Rhyme Pays." Quite frankly, rap music has been, as Public Enemy front man Chuck-D once said, "the CNN of the streets."

The Best 10 Movies of 2005

This was a great year for movies in terms of quality, though 2005 will probably be remembered by the film industry for its hugely disappointing box office grosses (it marks the first year since 1991 in which ticket sales have actually decreased from the year prior). This list, which does not include certain positively reviewed December releases that have not yet opened in the Jackson area (such as "Brokeback Mountain," whose enthusiastic reception indicates that it probably would have earned a place on this list, and "Munich," which is reportedly even better), looks at the 10 films from 2005 most worth seeing.

[Music] Random Acts Of Chaos

Three misconceptions must be cleared up about Champagne Heights: They do not like Champagne, they are not influenced by Radiohead, and they are not from Rhode Island. So what is Champagne Heights?

Tuesday, December 27

Break Out The Sparklers

It has toasted new marriages. It has christened ships before their maiden voyages. It has been raised in honor of those no longer with us. And year after year, it has been guzzled wildly at the very second each new year arrives. It is Champagne!

City Ends Precinct-by-Precinct Crime Stats

Not that it made the front page as any story about the previous administration and crime stats used to, but The Clarion-Ledger has a story today about how the new police chief is officially ending the weekly precinct-by-precinct crime stats, so she can supposedly take a more "holistic" look at crime in Jackson. Of course, this is direct defiance to the Maple-Linder recommendations that the Metro Crime Commission/SafeCity (with Melton as chairman) pushed so hard and for so long. And it brings to mind all those angry editorials the Ledge wrote about the last administration's handling of crime stats. So, why is the city closing ranks on crime statistics? More from the Ledge:

Sex Shop Goes Up In Flames

This takes care of one of Melton's issues.

Monday, December 26

Internet Gambling: Illegal But Profitable

What grabbed my attention was this:

The New York Times has an interesting piece on Internet gambling that I thought would spark interest. Who knew? Even online poker appears to be illegal -- I'm not sure if that extends to the type of Texas Hold-em tournaments that I've been eyeing on (I haven't yet had the guts to play one for money...but are the tourneys legal, technically?)

From Kicking Ass To Hooking Bass

Former bodyguard Robin Babb has given up her career of threat assessment for the world of competitive fishing. Feel free to submit your own joke here:

Call Him Mr. Interception

Is this the end for Brett Favre? The Green Bay quarterback threw four interceptions in the Packers' 24-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. And, for the second straight week, Favre didn't talk to reporters afterward. That gives Favre 28 interceptions this season, a career high. Is he even trying anymore? Or is he trying to throw a touchdown on every pass?

Sunday, December 25

Not-So-Classic Classic

They played the Magnolia Gridiron All-Star Classic on Saturday, before an announced crowd of 100. The I-A seniors team beat the I-AA seniors team 10-7. Everybody said they had a good time. One can't help but think that there might have been more fans on hand if a) it hadn't rained, and b) the game had been publicized more than a week ahead of time. Better luck next year.

Grisham: Silent Nights on the Gulf Coast

This may be the best thing John Grisham has ever written, today in the New York Times. This is the last section, but read the whole thing:

Merry Christmas!

My blog is usually pretty serious, so here are a few random stocking stuffers to throw my karma back into balance...

Saturday, December 24

ABC's "Monday Night Football" ... Good Riddance

From The Mighty MJD: "The last 'Monday Night Football' game ever on ABC will likely turn into a 3-hour self-congratulatory pat-on-the-back for ABC. And I can't begrudge ABC for that; any network would do it. But there is one guy who's not going to miss ABC's expert presentation ... Dr. Z pretty much gives them the finger in his latest column."

Silent Smoot

From Provine High to Hinds CC to Mississippi State to the Washington Redskins to the Minnesota Vikings, defensive back Fred Smoot has left a trail of words. Smoot loves to talk. What he says is often brash and sometimes funny. And usually his play has backed up his words. But now Fred is quiet. And depressed. On the bright side, his antics on Lake Minnetonka have earned him a unique place in the history of a league full of freaks. (Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.)

Friday, December 23

He Sees You When You're Sleeping, He Knows When You're Awake

Whether you've borrowed Mao Tse-tung's Little Red Book from the library or like to hang out at gay-themed events, the Bush administration wants to know about it.

Have a Wonderful Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah

The Jackson Free Press wishes you and yours a loving, safe and peaceful holiday. Look for our next issue out on schedule on Dec. 28, 2005—our New Year's issue and 2005 Year in Review, one of our biggest issues of the year. Cheers, the JFP Staff.

Christmas on the Coast

I have just finished wrapping the last present and laying it on the ever growing pile in the corner. There is only a "pile" because I have no tree. I have cats. Cats eat trees. If they don't eat them, they kill them. And, if they don't kill them, they knock them over, chew the lights up, and electrocute themselves. The house would then smell of melted cat fur and cinnamon for the next week. Ask me how I know this.

Clarion-Ledger: ‘Melton Should Know Better'

The Clarion-Ledger is upset at Mayor Frank Melton's latest controversial move. In an editorial today, they take him to task for trying to give former City Councilman, and convicted felon, Robert Williams a job in his administration:

Thursday, December 22

Do Not Take Revenge, My Friends

Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Wednesday, December 21

Chassity Dykes

This is what you'll likely hear seconds after you step into Chassity Dykes' consignment shot, Nu 2 U.

Loving Thy Neighbor

Last week, the day after the JFP's first "Race, Religion & Society" panel discussion, I looked at two e-mails within a couple hours of each other. The first, from a white man in Brandon with a subject line of just "Donna Ladd," opened by dressing me down for devoting so much ink to young Emmett Till's life and death.

[Stiggers] The Night Before Kwanzaa

Welcome to a Ghetto Science Christmas with the Fifth Alternate Financially Challenged and Concerned Citizens Community Choir, directed by Auntie Church Hat. Here's a song from their first Christmas CD titled "Broke, Busted and Frustrated during the Holiday Season."

No. 14, December 22-28

<b><u>Boot Camps Won't Work</b></u>

I have to give the mayor credit for identifying a problem and then attempting to deal with it, even if it is in the mode of Don Quixote slaying windmill dragons. Both he and the judge should know by now that two-week boot camps and truant sweeps waste time and money, accomplishing nothing but media hype.

[Beertalk] A Rogue Among Beers

One of the best choices for a diverse selection of excellent micro-brewed beer is Rogue. In 1988, three guys looking to try their hand at making great beer created Rogue Ales Brewery. Originally starting as a brewpub in Ashland, Ore., Rogue quickly joined the ranks as one of America's finest microbreweries by virtue of the sheer quality and variety of their product. After a flood destroyed their Ashland brewpub in 1997, they moved to their current location in Newport, Ore., thereby enabling them to produce the volume needed to meet consumer demand. However, this has not affected the quality of their product. If anything, Rogue has gotten better.

A Goodie Is A Goodie

Over the almost eight-year-long span that my family spent on the road, we never had a chimney for Santa. Being well-loved, wide-eyed and innocent of grown-up concerns like how late would the stores be open in a new town, my little brother and I knew that Santa'd find us, so we'd write our letter, give it to Mama to mail, and wait, being good.

God's Gift

Imagine being ripped from your culture like a sheet of paper. There is no way to defend yourself; you do not have time to collect your weapons. There is no warning. Fast forward to a long journey over several seas to a place in which you are alien. You ask for a glass of water and are met by a whip. Your language is not understood. Your ankles and wrists are deeply wounded by the constant friction of thick iron shackles. You've learned to cope. You've learned to communicate.

Crossing The Mighty River: Race, Religion and Mississippi

At the climax of the 11 o' clock church service at Galloway Methodist church, the Rev. Ross Olivier assumes the pulpit to deliver his sermon. Olivier's polished demeanor gives no air of being weathered by years of struggle against apartheid in South Africa. He does not let any possible scars from that experience stop him from addressing the hard issues before American Christians. His sermon, which is riddled with messages of the social Gospel, is an open call to Christians to unseat themselves from complacency and work toward living out the mission of Jesus Christ by working for justice.

Mayor, Chief Downplay Crime Stats

Jackson City Council President Marshand Crisler spoke out last week against the city police department's tight lips regarding crime figures, in contrast to Former Police Chief Robert Moore, who provided weekly reports on crime statistics. The computer-generated statistics, called COMSTAT reports, were used to pinpoint what crime was occurring where, and were provided to both City Council and the media.

Rev. Paul Jones

The white double doors of the home of Paul Jones, 63 opened and revealed a man with a welcoming smile, his red hair glowing golden from the Christmas tree lit behind him. He led me into his office, where the walls were blanketed with degrees and diplomas, shelves lined with books.

Mass Firings and A Merry Christmas

Twelve days before Christmas, Jackson employees suddenly received a mass e-mail from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security stating that they were "registered with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security" and that they were, thus, "covered by unemployment insurance."

Dancing Like It's 1984

Developers say the city may have put a project to fund renovations at the dilapidated King Edward Hotel at risk by lingering too long on an application for a HUD loan.

Kwanzaa's coming up

I was excited to see that Yahoo! Avatars had a few Kwanzaa backgrounds.

At least this is something I don't have to keep sending feedback for. I've asked for dreadlocks and for them to move the Afro out of the Halloween section, but I haven't seen anything done yet in that regard.

Fun with Cheney

Join the fun, everyone!

WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled Senate

Tuesday, December 20

Pennsylvania Judge Rules: Intelligent Design is Not Science

The Dover "monkey trial" (discussed in a previous blog entry here) ended exactly as it should have: With a ruling that defends the scientific method from those who would push it aside by force. Somewhere, Galileo is smiling.

Saturday, December 17

Biloxi Sun-Herald: 'Do Not Forsake Us'

They ask that we remember...That we care.

Let us not forget those that have no home.

Friday, December 16

Times-Picayune: Congress ‘Dishonest and Mean-spirited'

Here's part of the Times-Picayune piece:

The Times-Picayune is running a powerful editorial, trying to correct public misconceptions and rumors about the realities on the ground in New Orleans. This desperate plea for truth is similar to an editorial run last week by the Sun-Herald, which Ali Greggs is discussing on her blog. No doubt about it: The South—the Coast and New Orleans—are getting screwed by national media and political innuendo.

JFP Night for "Santaland Diaries" TONIGHT at New Stage

Join the Jackson Free Press Friday, Dec. 16, for a special showing of "The Santaland Diaries" at New Stage Theater. You don't want to miss the hilarious and irreverent one-man show of David Sedaris' rather twisted mind. For this one, buy tickets at the theater on Friday, first come, first serve. Get there early to get a good seat. $10. Show time is 10 p.m.

Thursday, December 15

Pope Benedict's Moral Compass

In the Vatican's rush to scapegoat all gay priests for the clergy abuse scandal, it has not just disparaged many innocent men. It has also ignored the many female victims of abuse--roughly half the membership of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Wednesday, December 14

The Human Extinction Movement

I wish I were kidding about this. Boy, I REALLY wish I were kidding about this.

There are actually people out there who believe that the best way to protect endangered species is for humans to stop reproducing and die off. Don't believe me, huh? Click

Fair and Balanced

This is interesting.

Wandering into a tunnel to escape the heat at the Mayan site of San Bartolo in Guatemala, archaeologist William Saturno had no inkling that he was about to rewrite the history books.

David Rop

Coach David Rop, 28, may seem soft-spoken and gentle, but his fierce dedication to cross-country is anything but mild. A native of Eldoret, Kenya, Rop moved to Jackson in 1995 after accepting an athletic scholarship to Jackson State University. At JSU, Rop collected copious cross-country and track trophies and set new records as he completed his bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics. After graduating from JSU in 2001, Rop became assistant cross-country coach at JSU and taught mathematics.

House of Spirits

Making a holiday shopping list can be pretty stressful. Fret not: Wine and spirits are the perfect gift for all of your 21 and older loved ones. I guess it could seem like a bottle of booze is a pretty impersonal thing to give someone. You just have to make it a very personal gift. Think of something special about each person and equate it with a wine or spirit. If your buddy took a trip to the Caribbean, get him a great bottle of high-end rum, along with a fun recipe book for fruity cocktails. Not only would your friend enjoy trying some tasty rum drinks, but he would be revisiting his vacation thanks to you.

[Casey's Note] Leaving My Heart In Jackson

When I first saw the Jackson Free Press, something sparked. I had given up hope for local weeklies, but the cover—a grid-like spread of a variety of Jackson folks—called to me. Someone had dropped off about 100 copies outside of the Millsaps cafeteria, and I—the eternal journalism snoop—scooped up two. I devoured the whole preview issue and then Googled "Jackson Free Press," hoping to find some Internet connection to this new paper.

DIY: Build A Gingerbread House

Irwin and Missy Koenig's Cakes & More in Byram might be a tiny place, but the goodies baked in the kitchen come out big in flavor no matter whether you're picking up petit fours or wishing over the wedding cakes. Here's Missy's take on the classic Christmas gingerbread house.

[Stiggers] Finding Philmo

It's time to take your mind on an adventure with Readin' Rain-Bro! Join him as he shares with us a Christmas holiday story.

[Greggs] Hear Me Roar

The other day I was reading a news brief about Heidi Fleiss opening the first all-male brothel in Nevada. It has all the other cathouse owners in the state, the owners of the regular brothels, in high dungeon. They complain she is drawing attention to the sex trade in Nevada. They've obviously been trying to hide the fact that they operate whorehouses from the religious population and don't want her sashaying in and "causing problems."

*Artist In Residence: Rebekah Potter

In the most fortuitous of natural developments, Rebekah Potter's height sealed her fate as an artist. "I wanted to be a horsejockey," the 31-year-old woman says. "But I grew too tall."

On Creating: Be Daring

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be

[Fleming] Goodbye, My Friend

In the early spring of 1993, I had a serious decision to make. One choice was to become a lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps, having served six months reserve duty in a special program designed to lure African Americans into the Corps' officer ranks. The other was to serve as the campaign manager for a long-shot mayoral candidate whom most people saw as a protester rather than a public servant.

Melton's Honeymoon, Part VI: The Mayor and The Police

Mayor Frank Melton swept into the city's mayor office July 4 with a badge and a side arm, determined to take a bite out of crime. During that time, he's taken part in numerous police raids, parading his image of a gun-toting crime fighter before the television cameras.

Frustrating Democracy

If information wants to be free, it cannot be happy with the administration of Mayor Frank Melton. Since the mayor took office in July, the Jackson Free Press has made a number of requests for information, with decidedly uneven results.

Clarion-Ledger: A ‘Moral Contract' With Melton?

Rarely mentioned in the ongoing lawsuit between Mayor Frank Melton and former Lt. Col. Robert Pierce is the role of The Clarion-Ledger.

Unions: Watch Your Politicians

In 1948, America stepped out of a world war with an economy still glowing from the explosive heat and an emerging middle class that promised great things for the world. Fueled by the optimism, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed Dec. 10 Human Rights Day, in honor of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948, by the United Nations General Assembly.

Monday, December 12

Hate Crime: It's Worse Than We Thought

According to the FBI's most recent National Crime Victimization Survey, generally regarded as the most accurate national crime report, a crime is between 19 and 31 times more likely to be bias-motivated than the FBI's Hate Crime Index has traditionally suggested.

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Texas Redistricting Scheme

AP is reporting today:

Saturday, December 10

Nigerian Plane Crash: Something's not right

Scores of innocent children just lost their lives today in a plane crash, and I am livid.

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (AP) - A Nigerian jetliner filled with schoolchildren going home for Christmas crashed Saturday while landing during a lightning storm in a delta oil port.

Death of Richard Pryor: The World Will Miss Him

I remember years ago when my dad had a record of "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip". My older sister decided to play it, and I heard some words that I wasn't familiar with at such a young age. Fortunately, I had the common sense not to repeat them, so my mother never had to slap the taste out of my mouth, so to speak.

Going-Away Dance Party for Casey TONIGHT

The Jackson Free Press is sending Casey Parks off to grad school with style in the Red Room with a "Please Don't Go" Going-Away Dance Party. Starts at 9 p.m., no cover, 18+. DJs Stephen Barnette and Donna Ladd will help you dance your butts off. Casey Parks Look-alike Contest at 11 p.m. Be there! You're welcome even if aren't yet lucky enough to know Casey personally.

Merry Freakin' Christmas

I saw this letter to the editor in the CL today about the origins of Christmas. There was some debate about certain retailers using the phrase "Merry Christmas" in their seasonal ads. This is obviously a Christian association, so some have turned to using "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays". Christians are upset about the removal of the word "Christmas" from ads.

Thursday, December 8

Local Blues Musician Loses Everything in Fire

Virgil Brawley (of the Juvenators) and his wife lost everything in a fire this morning that destroyed their Belhaven Heights home and its contents, including a very large collection of vintage guitars. The local music community is in the process of setting up a fund at Mississippi Music to replace some of his music gear. However, they need some stuff in the short run. Charly Abraham has volunteered Hal & Mal's as a collection point for needed items and money. Please drop by tonight (Thursday) and donate a few bucks or some clothes or a toothbrush. Lisa Palmer and the Knight Bruce Group are playing. Todd and I will be going there after the Pix Capri benefit. Best, Donna

Wednesday, December 7

[Kamikaze] A Simple Plan

The equation seems simple. In order for society to create productive adults, it must first nurture them as children. Young people are the foundation of our future. Some will be our next teachers, doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, skilled laborers, star athletes and music moguls. Still some will run afoul of the law, becoming yet another crime statistic.

My So-Called Holiday Column

They say that during the holidays, you're supposed to stop and consider what you're thankful for. (OK, this is starting out cheesy, I know. Work with me here.) Combine that seasonal desire with the fact that Donna assigned me the Publisher's Note this week, and you get what you paid for—a Publisher's Note in which I offer up a laundry list of the things that have me smiling this season.

[Stiggers] Tale Of Two Nations

We interrupt Oprah's Lexus from Texas Luxury Car Giveaway show to bring you a special holiday message from Rudy McBride, C.E.O. of the Let Me Hold Five Dollars National Bank.

[Berger] Merle Haggard, Redneck Renegade

Why don't we liberate these United States

Patti Carr Black

Patti Carr Black's Belhaven living room appears almost square, with built-in, wall-size bookshelves directly across from the front door. A quarter of the way down, surrounded by a portion of her collected books, hangs Walter Anderson's "Magic Carpet," opulent in color and design, breath-taking in its seven-foot width.

Diary of An Actor

Turner Crumbley is spending this season balancing two shows. He starts his nights as that narrator in "A Christmas Carol" then moves to the late-night one-man show "Santaland Diaries," written by noted funnyman David Sedaris.

[BoozeTalk] The Water of Life

Nothing else holds the promise of single malt scotch. Aromatic peat and heather rise from the golden liquor, which has waited in a cask for more than a decade to take its first breath of air. It is the perfect drink for a cold winter night, and it is a gift sure to warm the heart of any whiskey lover this holiday season.

Let Them Eat Oreos

Last Christmas a friend asked me to help him put together a swing set for Santa to deliver for his daughter. I reminded my friend that I am mechanically challenged. One cannot devote one's life to the demanding career of a gourmand and also master screwdrivers or hammers or whatever else those kinds of people use. Nonetheless, in the spirit of the season, I agreed.

Melton To UMC: No Thanks

The University Medical Center is a state-of-the-art facility that has undergone more than $335 million in new construction and renovations over the last 10 years. Now the university can throw $200,000 back on the pile.

Melton's Honeymoon, Part V: Seven Degrees of Separation

Like any governmental body that has to share power, the Jackson City Council is a forum of individuals who can rarely accomplish goals without forming some kind of alliance on issues. A new round of elections, like the one last June, almost always ushers in a new volley of hand-shaking and knot-tying between personalities. Often the personalities share political ideology; sometimes the similarities shared are barely visible.

Two Men And A River

To look at 23-year-old Josh Evans, a Jackson native and Jackson Academy graduate, is to look at an artist, an intellectual, a man with scruffy stubble who fits in well with the aesthetics of the Fondren district. Evans' counterpart is the aptly named Dallis Ketchum. Ketchum, 25, and a native of Memphis, is also a thinker. But unlike Evans, he is lively, considerably animated in conversation, tan and clean-shaven. On the surface, there are few similarities between the two; however, on Sept. 3, three days after Hurricane Katrina's catastrophic landfall and trek up from the Gulf of Mexico, this unlikely duo joined forces in a kayak to battle the most formidable of foes: the monstrous, 2,300-mile Mississippi River.

Ellen Reddy

While Ellen Reddy describes flaws in Mississippi's youth justice system, an 11-year-old draws corpulent cars and squiggly skeleton keys on a large easel pad in a conference room at the Mississippi Youth Justice Program. Reddy, who is co-director of programs and a community organizer for the program, says that children as young as the girl drawing have been taken from their families and locked into a dark cell at one of the state's training schools. Reddy works with the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, which is sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to keep kids out of institutions and in their communities and schools.

Truant ‘Sweeps' Obscure Progress

After a setback last Tuesday, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton went through with a campaign promise to attack the Jackson Public School drop-out rate and get school-age children off the street. On Friday, Melton organized an attempted police round-up of more than 300 truants and drop-outs, to be carted off to see a judge.

Just Rewards

Christmas came early for Thomas Moore when Mississippi religious leaders agreed to offer a reward for tips about the 1964 murders of his brother and his friend.

Gov. Barbour's Niece Racks Up FEMA Contracts

The New York Times is reporting today:

Lott, Cochran: $20 Million Approved for Katrina Recovery

[verbatim statement] WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Hancock and Jackson counties were granted more than $20 million to restore public infrastructure and remove debris as the Hurricane Katrina recovery continues, U.S. Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran said.

How The West Was Won

A Review of "Gun"

This is my third review of a Western game, and the last for a while. Scout's honor. But "Gun" is such a fun game, building on the successes and failures of previous attempts to make an experience out of the Wild West, that I had to go West one more time. Like many games set in the time period, the theme of "Gun" is a mix of revenge, greed and sadness. Starting out in the wilderness, hero Colton White is thrust into a frantic search for a sacred artifact that took the life of his father. With only a couple guns, a horse and a token to a place called the Alhambra, he sets out for Dodge City.

Monday, December 5

Saving Lives: One Month of Torture At A Time

I saw the title of this article and just laughed and laughed...

Holiday Arts Mixer TONIGHT

As a board member of the Greater Jackson Arts Council (formerly the Arts Alliance), I'd like to personally invite each of you to tonight's Holiday Arts Mixer at the old Capitol Inn from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Come enjoy free wine, beer and creative cheer. You can also see wonderful and artistic gift ideas by local artists and artisans, and meet some of the artists who are making this a wonderful creative class city. Please join us tonight (Monday). 226 N. State St., 601.960.1557.

Sunday, December 4

Seattle's Former Top Cop Says End Drug War

In an op ed this weekend in the Seattle Times (and, it seems, the LA Times, since he's bylined as "Special to the Los Angeles Times"), Norm Stamper, former chief of police in Seattle, says he's not for decriminalization of illicit drugs; he's for legalization. Of all of them.

9/11 Commission Warns: Safety ‘Not a Priority'

Saturday, December 3

Judge Alito's Abortion Views

Franz Ferdinand DVD

Franz Ferdinand release DVD bursting with exclusive new footage. Need a little more Franz in your life? To the excitement of fans and critics alike, today Franz Ferdinand release a two-disk DVD to the US through Domino Records. The band recently enjoyed a top ten hit with their sophomore album YOU COULD HAVE IT SO MUCH BETTER. (#8 in the US & top ten in 15 countries around the world, including #1 in Britain.)

Friday, December 2

The New Symbol of ‘Lapdog Journalism'

WAPT Interviews Adam Lynch TODAY at 5 p.m.

Thursday, December 1

More Allies Pulling Out of Iraqi War

AP is reporting:

Two of America's allies in Iraq are withdrawing forces this month and a half-dozen others are debating possible pullouts or reductions, increasing pressure on Washington as calls mount to bring home U.S. troops. Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December. If Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland and South Korea reduce or recall their personnel, more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Thursday, Dec. 1

College football, MAC championship, Akron vs. Northern Illinois (6:30 p.m., ESPN): Who vs. who in Detroit. For college football addicts only.

No. 11, December 1-7

<b><u>Give Wal-Mart A Break</b></u>

Y'all should give Wal-Mart a break. I love Wal-Mart on Highway 18. The people who work there are friendly and very helpful. The range of goods is low to moderate. I'm a fan of their housewares section. Now if we all had the income to shop at McRae's, then their stores would not be closing. Overpriced is overpriced. Another set of stores that do compete with Wal-Mart's food is New Deal. The secret to New Deal and Wal-Mart is the working people speak with their feet, their cars or buses. Service is a major reason both stores are successful.