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Posted at 12:16 PM ET, 05/25/2011

Lunchline: Nice to know you, Oprah

We're going to start things off by wishing a happy belated birthday to one Vanessa Williams, the editor of this newsletter. She's been more than fantastic in creating and shaping the product you all enjoy every day, and I'd like to thank her.

D.C. needs to keep every dollar in its pocket that it can. For a city operating at a deficit in the hundreds of millions, it's important to make sure to take advantage of every potential money-making opportunity. So when two lawyers approached CFO Natwar Gandhi claiming to have knowledge of a well-known practice of avoiding taxes by large property owners, the city paid attention. The Post's Mike DeBonis reports on the inquiry to determine whether the District missed out on millions of dollars in recordation taxes. Also, Mayor Gray is playing hardball with Wal-Mart. Good for him.

Nick Benson, a master stone carver, carved the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in stone for the King Memorial. (Katherine Frey - THE WASHINGTON POST)
The words of Martin Luther King Jr., are figuratively written in stone for most Americans. King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 remains one of the most iconic in the country's history. And now that his memorial, 14 years in coming, is finally close to completion, one man has been tasked with literally putting the civil rights leader's words in stone. The Post's Michael E. Ruane chronicles Nick Benson, "a renowned third-generation stone carver from Rhode Island who did the inscriptions on the World War II Memorial [and] worked with a team of three carvers to chisel King's words into the finished statue."

Carla Hall (Nancy Koval Photography)
It's hard not to love Carla Hall. The Howard alum and D.C. chef took the television food game by storm with her infectious sincerity on "Top Chef." Though she never won on the show, her TV career has continued, and her latest project "The Chew," set to air in September, is actually the program replacing "All My Children" on ABC. But, if you can't wait until fall to see Hall, you can check her out this weekend at Eastern Market. Express contributor Kris Coronado spoke with Hall, who'll be cooking live in Southeast starting Saturday.

Being the word nerd that I am, the Fake AP Stylebook is one of my favorite Twitter feeds to follow. And at Express, the real Associated Press Stylebook is effectively our Constitution. One thing it has no rules on are the use of the em dash. I personally have no problems with them, but some hardcore copy editors find them atrocious. Slate's Noreen Malone explains the case against the em dash and does so with a heavy dosage of irony in her prose.

Say what you want about the Miami Heat, they've gotten it done this season so far. After ridiculously hypothesizing about the multiple championships the team might win with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chrish Bosh, the Heat effectively became the most hated team in America. Well, that team hasn't lost on their home floor yet in the NBA playoffs and The Post's Amy Shipley was there for their win over the Bulls last night. Loss aside, MVP Derrick Rose did completely posterize Joel Anthony.

Extra Bites

• When it comes to alley cats, I tend to learn toward Heathcliff as a favorite. But feral felines are a big problem in D.C., so much so that PETA is actually recommending killing animals, against the wishes of the Washington Humane Society. The Post's Justin Jouvenal has the details on the fierce fight.

• Tornadoes are tearing across the country at an alarming clip. But while families pick up from the wreckage, Slate's Jeremy Singer-Vine wonders: How did "Tornado Alley" get its name?

Oprah, Oprah and yes, more Oprah. Something tells me this isn't really the end.
Winfrey tapes "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular." (AP)

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By  |  12:16 PM ET, 05/25/2011

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