Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Before we get started, a request: The Observer got a press release earlier this week that said the office of Gov. Asa Hutchinson is asking Arkansans to send in their photos that shout Arkansas! — anything from the great outdoors to festivals to picturesque town squares — for possible use on the gov's new website. "We're looking for images of what makes Arkansas Arkansas," the release said.
Coming off the last few weeks in the Arkansas legislature, we're of a mind that this would be a fine way for our LGBT neighbors to remind Gov. Hutchinson that they're Arkansans, too. So, LGBT folks, if you get a second, please submit photos of you and/or your family enjoying life in fun, scenic or historic spots around Arkansas to: governor.arkansas.gov/photo-submission, making sure to let him know in the description box that you're a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Arkansan. While you're at it, send us a copy at the Arkansas Times Twitter account or Facebook page with the hashtag: #WeMakeArkansasArkansas and we'll post some of them over the next few days. Deadline for photo submissions to the governor's office is March 23.
Now, on with the show:
While The Observer will not cop to being either a Trekkie or a Trekker (there's apparently a difference, apparently, and the last thing we want to do is cause an interstellar diplomatic incident), we must admit how saddened we were to hear of Leonard Nimoy's passing. Of all the characters on the old "Star Trek" series and the movies the series spawned, the character Yours Truly gravitated toward, was Mr. Spock. He made it cool to be smart, but he was also a stranger in a strange land: half-human, and thus the only officer on the bridge of the Enterprise who wasn't fully of Earth. Growing up, The Observer felt like that a lot of the time, too bookish for our own good, never knowing quite what to say in the thick of a conversation, other than to think that most Spockish of thoughts: "That is highly illogical." The struggle of Spock's human half and the Vulcan half was infinitely more interesting to The Observer than which green hottie Cap'n Kirk would teach the Horizontal Prime Directive.
The Observer, as you know, is of the Generation of Three Channels, and back when we were but a lad, one of those channels showed reruns of the original "Star Trek" series after the late local news. Pa, God rest his soul, was a fan. He'd seen 'em all, and knew most by heart. If The Boy Observer had bathed, washed out our ears and brushed our teeth by the time the news went off, sometimes Pa would let us stay up to watch an episode with him, a highlight of our young life and a treasured memory to the old whaling ship captain, hunter of Moby Dick and a passable cheeseburger that we have become here on the front range of our 40s. We were too young to realize it then, of course, but the show was a love song to the way things could be for humanity. Pa was more of a Capt. Kirk man. But even then, I knew the true hero of the show was Mr. Spock. Kirk is cool, sure. But he's flat. He starts out a rogue and ends up a rogue. Nimoy, though, had the arc: going from a distant alien to a being who truly came to love his friends, even though they were intellectually beneath him most of the time. Not that The Observer is some intellectual giant, but we get that.
The Observer was 8 years old when "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" came out, and we begged and cajoled Pa into taking us to see it. SPOILER ALERT: Spock dies at the end, zapped to death with gamma rays after sacrificing himself to save the Enterprise and everybody aboard by going into the radiation-flooded engine room to patch up the bum warp drive. You cannot imagine how bitterly the young lad cried at that ending, especially when Spock, talking to Kirk through the clear blast wall of the engine room, groaned out the line that has, come to think of it, guided so much of The Observer's life, and should guide more of our lives here on planet earth: "It is logical: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." How bitterly indeed.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Nimoy, from a young fan who has grown into an old fan. Wherever you are: Live long and prosper.