Christmas at Graceland

November 30, 2009 Nothing kicks off the Christmas season better for me than the lights of Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis.And, it did just that Nov. 20 with a lighting ceremony and special guests Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Richard Marx and children from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I wasn’t there this year, but in some ways it felt like I was thanks to a Graceland Web cam and live streaming video and audio as Marx and the children flipped a big red switch to make the lights come on.

Nickname came from made-up lyrics

November 27, 2009 “Bulger” Jeffery, born in 1875 at Mount Olive in Izard County, got his nickname as a result of a songfest connected with an old-time camp meeting when Bulger but was a mere lad, according to an article in the Spring 1973, Vol. II, No. 4 edition of The Jeffery Quarterly.His actual name was Robert E. Jeffery.Written by Bulger’s grandson, Hugh E. Jeffery of Brea, Calif., the article tells how young Robert E. liked to sing but was not always sure of the words that made up particular songs, especially old hymns.

Dealing with flawed families

November 25, 2009 It’s the late-night, whispered conversation between you and your spouse when you’re finally alone in the bedroom after an exhausting day of dealing with family holiday drama.“You’ve got to talk to her,” hisses the wife, who has been counting the days until the “holiday” is over.“She’s just trying to be helpful,” says the conflict-avoider husband, who by this point in the visit has started to measure his time in minutes.“How is criticizing everything I do helpful?” the wife seethes.

Reality check

November 25, 2009 The walls are grimy and discolored. The uneven floors creak and yield under foot. Staircases and landings are rickety and black. The door of every room is open. Walk along these corridors. Walk into this room. Here is a sickly boy of 5, deserted by his mother, underfed, solitary in the awful solitude of starved, neglected childhood. “Seldom talks.” Strange isn’t it. Some, many children, never prattle like your darlings. They are already old. They are full, perhaps, of long, hopeless thoughts. There are plenty of other “kids” in this tenement.

Letters to the Editor

November 24, 2009 Upset with Gov.Does hard work and tenacity pay off? The answer to that question is NO! Not in the state of Arkansas when the governor’s office is involved.What I am referring to is the ARRA ice damage grant to the Arkansas Forestry Commission for 1.2 million dollars to be paid to landowners and help them reduce fire danger from the January 2009 ice storm.

Thanksgiving pros, cons

November 24, 2009 Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. Some years, I treat it like a getting a shot or blood drawn: just look the other direction and hold my breath until it’s over. One side of my family enjoys getting together and doing the big kumbaya-group-hug thing where everyone holds hands and says what they’re thankful for. Once you become a bereaved parent, that sort of thing loses its luster and Gary and I’ve boycotted it ever since. Not to mention my family isn’t known for being the idyllic, Norman-Rockwell-painting envy of those around us.

Up and away

November 23, 2009 I was about 16 when I rode on my first plane, and I’ve loved it ever since. My dad, ever mindful that it was important for me to see this great country, arranged a trip to Washington, D.C. in 2001.The plane ride on a commercial jet, for me, turned out to be half the fun. Before ever stepping foot onto a plane, I worried.

GOP harmonious for now

November 23, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — It’s the politest political fight in the state right now — unless you’re Blanche Lincoln.The seven Republicans who are hoping to challenge Lincoln in the Senate race next year have been crisscrossing Arkansas, pumping out daily news releases and giving speeches targeting the Democratic senator as she seeks a third term.But when it comes to their fellow Republicans, the candidates have been hands-off.

Letter to the Editor

November 19, 2009 A lot of rhetoricRhetoric should have meaning. Language should have value.What then is meant by the phrase we are now hearing so often from the politico, “We have a moral obligation to pass this legislation”?Morals must be based on some standard. Among the most frequent standards used as a basis for moral values are scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

Leif Erikson was not Methuselah

November 19, 2009 A caller reported this week that my recent column about Leif Erikson Day indicated Erikson, of Scandinavian descent, was born about 970 B.C. in Iceland. Wow! That would have made him more than 1,970 years old by the time he first visited Vinland (America), around 1001 A.D.That’s more than twice the age of Methuselah as stated in the Bible. Methuselah lived to be 969. Some scholars theorize that the longest-living patriarchs mentioned in the Bible had such long lives because a water vapor canopy, or “bubble,” protected the earth from radiation prior to the great flood.