Opinion: Doug Thompson, Daddy Warbucks, Tune In

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Daddy Warbucks

The New Yorker calls Wal-Mart parsimonious

Daddy W. predicts that Wal-Mart won’t be selling copies of The New Yorker. The high-toned weekly magazine took the world’s largest retailer to task in its April 6 issue. The piece by Jeffrey Goldberg was a peek inside Wal-Mart’s ‘reputation management’ bunker in Bentonville. It was short, but had plenty of inside information that no doubt has many heads swimming. Wal-Mart executives seem to think they can recruit high profile “fix-it” political hacks to help with their image, but now they have high profile reporters and others spotting them at places like Fred’s Hickory Inn and McDonald’s. Daddy W. especially enjoyed the mention of the Wal-Mart VP who was asked to show the reporter an employee who made the publicized Wal-Mart wage of $10.51 an hour. That employee, was not found—imagine that! The article is entitled “Annals of Spin.” Imagine that.

The Dana Mystery
Did the UA have to pay former one-day basketball coach Dana Altman for his 24-hour stay on campus? One wonders. Daddy W. is trying to calculate the pay on the reported $1.6 million deal, dividing it by 365, to get what the UA might actually owe Altman. Bet they (the UA) won’t send a check or a bill to the former and now present Creighton Fighting Blue Jays coach. Maybe that was as they say a “priceless” lesson. Even if the UA is piddling $90,000 using a search firm to blame if the next hire fizzles.

Got a Milk Board
Arkansas, by virtue of a new state law, now has its own milk board. And, hopefully, just in the nick of time. The state’s dairy farmers are in a free-fall, down from more than 800 dairy farms some five years ago to less than 170 today. It’s time to grab those teats and pull together for the local dairy farmer.

Sweet retirement
As Don Tyson was selling off multi-millions in his private stock portfolio, some other Tyson execs were retiring with sweet deals. The first came to light this past week, when long time Tyson man Greg Lee, 59, worked out a 10-year retirement payout of more than $3.6 million. Look for more to follow suit, with older Tyson folks (not necessarily in age, but years with the company) hanging up their khaki’s and leaving under a brilliant golden parachute.

Fire at AERT
Once again, blazes have delayed the manufacturing process at AERT. The Springdale based company that produces a form of particle based building materials, has had a “hot” history with fires and the insurance companies. The manufacturing process and its components do lead, experts say, to fires.

Good rankings
The UA Law School had some good news recently. The school was listed on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best law schools. The magazine ranked UA law 51st out of 73 public law schools.

More rankings
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock also came out well in the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings. The highly touted geriatric program ranked among the Top 10 in the nation, taking the number 10 spot, the same as last year. The school itself ranked 45th best in the nation, while the UAMS School of Nursing was ranked as the country’s 40th best.

New name, new cuisine
Coming soon to the former Acropolis location on North College Avenue, will be Sook and Sung’s Korean BBQ.

New downtown
Thanks to Eureka Springs bakers, Hanna Withers and Ben Gitchel, a bakery will return to Block Street in downtown Fayetteville. The duo will open a branch of their very popular Eureka Springs’ Little Bread Co. in the former Arsaga’s spot.

Tune In
Brian Matthews

It has become fashionable in the last few years to make a farce of Chuck Norris. You might remember the stubby, bearded human weapon for movies he did in the 1980’s like Missing in Action, The Delta Force, and Firewalker. But a quick search on Wikipedia will reveal that Norris actually started as a tournament karate competitor in the late ‘60s. He even invented his own style of hand-to-hand combat he calls “Chun Kuk Do.” When he did get into Hollywood, it was alongside stars like Dean Martin and later Bruce Lee.

But these days, Norris is most known for selling exercise equipment via infomercials and a cheesy TV drama he used to star in. His name and career have become common punch lines and his martial arts background a target for parody. There is even a website referred to as “The Chuck Norris Random Fact Generator” (http://4q.cc/index.php?pid=fact&person=chuck) that offers visitors a stupid joke concerning the star every time the page is refreshed.

Norris himself seems to think this phenomenon is as funny as everyone else does. He has even joined in on it, recently making a cameo in a Mt. Dew commercial where he gets even with characters who are lampooning him. But there is one person in front of whom I don’t plan on mentioning these Chuck Norris one-liners: my grandma.

It was just recently, a few days after my birthday, when I decided to call Grandma and thank her for a thoughtful card she had sent me. She was at my mom’s house, and when she picked up the phone everything seemed to be normal. She asked how my birthday was, how me and my wife had been fairing down here in Arkansas. She told me a few things about her visit with my parents. But shortly into the conversation, I started to tell that something was off. Grandma seemed preoccupied, distracted. And I started to get a little worried. Just when I was about to ask her if everything was all right on her end, she told me she was going to hand the phone back to my mom.

“Is everything okay, Grandma?” I asked, a little concerned about her unsettledness.

“Oh yeah…,” she trailed. “I’m just trying to watch Chuck Norris here on Walker: Texas Ranger.”

I had to laugh. I thought about telling Grandma about Will Ferrell’s twins in Talladega Nights or Conan O’Brien’s old “Walker: Texas Ranger Lever” joke. I even almost offered to email her a link to “The Chuck Norris Random Fact Generator.” But I just didn’t have the heart. Writer Phyllis Theroux once said her grandmother was the one person who knew how to “bless [her] despite the evidence.” I think I now understand what that means.

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