Top books to read

January 30, 2009 A Lyon graduate e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago for advice. A former English teacher, she is now homeschooling her own kids. She was forming a list of up to 100 novels kids might read by the time they graduate from high school.

A ‘Steeler’ connection

January 29, 2009 There's a reason the Super Bowl is such a big deal. There is no city in the country in which it is a bigger deal this year than in Pittsburgh. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. As a kid, I never understood the deep connection my father had to the Pittsburgh Steelers. His mood soured when his team lost. He was elated when they won.

No icy trees, roads

January 29, 2009 Tired of cold. Tired of icy roads. Tired of being out of electricity because of ice-covered limbs falling on power lines. Thinking of Florida. Had about all of this global warming I can take for now. (I know. I know. The argument is that global warming causes weather shifts, so that in some places, it gets colder instead of warmer. Sounds like baloney, or at least bologna, a word that an English professor once wrote on my final test paper.)

Legacy of pain, despair

January 28, 2009 A friend of mine just got the news that another man in her neighborhood killed himself. He's the fourth in 12 months. Another man who decided that his family would be better off without him. Another man who will never walk his daughter down the aisle or be the best man at his son's wedding.

American Idol edition

January 28, 2009 Most of the concerts I have ever attended have been either at Altell Arena in North Little Rock or at the Convention Center in Hot Springs, and almost all of them have been of the Christian variety. I have noticed in recent years that metal detectors, wands and bag searches at these venues have become as much a part of the experience as the loud music itself. Gaining admission is no longer a simple matter of buying your ticket and strolling through the turnstile on your way to the T-shirt stand. After all, we can't have concert-goers with controlled substances, knives or, especially, guns on their person when they enter the arena, right?

Arkansas tax issues

January 28, 2009 LITTLE ROCK - The Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation will have an important role during the 2009 legislative session. Senate Bill 88, to reduce the state sales tax on food by a penny, has been referred to the committee. Also, any legislation to raise taxes on tobacco and liquor will be referred to the committee.

Eye on Arkansas

January 27, 2009 There were a lot of reasons I decided to move to Arkansas three years ago. I was familiar with the area from family vacations growing up. The great fishing at Greers Ferry and Bull Shoals lured my dad. My sister and I loved the forbidden fruit of legal fireworks, which are strictly verboten in Illinois. Since we were all happy, my mom was happy, too.

Week of disaster

January 27, 2009 I think I have been channelling my friend Camille this past week. She used to, and still does I think, have things happen to her. I can't explain it, and neither can she. Stuff just happens. And last week, Gary and I had a series of, shall we say, mini-disasters at our house, just one right after another, and that never (or rarely, anyway) happens.

Uncertain but hopeful

January 26, 2009 A new year. A new Monday. A new president. A new hope. I couldn't help but feel excited last Tuesday when watching the millions of people, young and old, of different backgrounds and races, crowding Washington, D.C.'s National Mall at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Beebe takes risks

January 26, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) - In late 2006, Mike Beebe said he was prepared to battle legislators, if necessary, to fufill his signature campaign promise - cutting the state's sales tax on groceries. "I think it would be a mistake for people just to assume this is a done deal," the then-incoming Democratic governor said. "I think it's a fight. We've got to be prepared for a fight."