Favorite

The Observer April 7 

The Observer does silly things so you don’t have to. Lately we’ve focused our silly spectrometer on the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” chestnut hidden among the legal ads in the back of the daily paper. We used to enjoy the old “Strange as It Seems” cartoon in the Arkansas Gazette. We liked the name, which implied, “Strange as it seems, this is true.” We remember genuinely strange things, like the woman who stepped on a needle when she was young and, many years later, the needle emerged from her daughter’s abdomen. Or the little girl who could crook her index finger and make any wild bird come down out of the trees and sit on her shoulder. (She lost this ability when she turned 12, if we remember correctly.) We always accepted “Strange as It Seems” as fact, whereas “Believe It or Not!” tells us right there in its title that we don’t have to believe it, allowing us to make our own decisions. Given that license, The Observer went through some recent panels of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and charted whether we believed it, or not. This exercise led to the discovery that there is an undeclared third option — maybe we could believe it but there must be a whole lot more to the story. We usually place these into the Not! category by default. So let’s get down to business. Here are some verbatim items from recent “Believe It or Not!” offerings along with The Observer’s decision as to whether the item falls under one of three categories: Believe It! or Not! or (on rare occasions) Maybe! “Wayne Newton was paid $5 for his first professional gig at age 6!” Believe It! (This is a prime example of the lack of quality control in the postmodern Ripley’s.) “While on shore leave during World War II, Bamse, a St. Bernard stationed on a Norwegian mine sweeper, would go from pub to pub retrieving the ship’s partying crewmen!” Not! (We don’t believe dogs get shore leave, and if they do, Bamse was clearly on duty while retrieving sailors. OK, scrambled grammar aside, this item is a Maybe! that defaults into a Not! Way too many questions, starting with the Norwegian mine sweeper. Were the sailors Quisling Norwegians or were they Germans on a Norwegian ship? Does the word “pub” indicate they were Resistance Norwegians being trained in England? Maybe a dog could retrieve a partying Norwegian. But no, a dog could never fetch an intemperate German.) Again: Not! “It takes 55 dung of kangaroo poo to create 400 sheets of a special type of paper made in Tasmania!” Believe It! (The chary euphemisms are the clincher for us. And who knew dung was a unit of measurement?) “As a tribute to bluegrass singer Ally White, Carroll Sanders of Hawesville, Kentucky, carved her initials into his toenails — with a chainsaw!” Maybe! (The ambiguous first names and pronouns are puzzling, but the illustration shows a man holding a 4-foot Stihl chainsaw. Kentucky chainsaw toenail carving is too much for us to contemplate. We’ll let you think about it.) “Those caught speeding in the Indian state of Bihar are not fined. Instead they must frog-hop alongside the highway while chanting the name of a political leader!” Believe It! (The way the current session of the Arkansas legislature is going, we expect them to pass a similar law any day now.) That’s how the game works. Play nice. Fayetteville kicked off its first farmer’s market of the spring last weekend, and it was so … Fayetteville, which is to say it was a product of a vigorous and involved community undistracted by crime or the General Assembly. Women with their long gray hair tucked up with brass pins and their long skirts worn over bare legs greeted the twenty-somethings and their dogs. A man in a suit and dreadlocks headed clockwise around the square, twins in a stroller were pushed counterclockwise. A self-published author hawked his book about corruption in the Ozark constabulary. Shoppers balanced pots of perennials with espresso and the fanciest French pastries this side of New Orleans. It’s so civilized — especially the big board. On the big board, the farmer’s market organizers maintain a running tally of various pieces of valuable information. Visitors indicate with little circular stickies why they’ve come to the market (for the free trees handed out at 6:30 a.m.? for the herbs?), how they learned about the market, what they like best about the market, etc. The hills are alive, y’all.
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Snake stories

    The Observer's boss, Uncle Alan, is something of a gentleman farmer on his spread up in Cabot, growing heirloom tomatoes and watermelons and crops of chiggers on property that looks like the perfect farmstead Lenny and George often fantasized about in "Of Mice and Men."
    • Aug 27, 2015
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Constituents go Cotton pickin' at Springdale town hall

    Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.
  • Stand up for Little Rock

    If Little Rock deteriorates because of substandard schools, there will be blame aplenty to share. But some elected leaders deserve special mention.
  • Hating the media

    Presidents, with the exception of George Washington, never found much joy with the media, although Donald Trump is the first to use the scarily freighted words "enemies of the people."
  • What's new and coming soon to Argenta

    A riverfront hotel, new residential development, food, drink and more.
  • Downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock are back in business

    Main Street and beyond bustles.

Latest in The Observer

  • Bang

    The Observer, who has lived in Little Rock many a year now, has a complicated relationship with this city.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Love is a verb

    It is Valentine's Day as The Observer writes this, the day of chocolates and lacy underthings past for you, but still the present for Yours Truly.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • #resist

    First off, great job out there, everybody, with the marching and the sign-making and just getting out of bed and showing up when you could be binge-watching "Dexter."
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation