The Observer's kid was scheduled to appear in his school's annual Geography Bee the other day, an occasion that Junior ap-proached with much trepidation and gnashing of teeth. Don't worry, ol' Dad assured him, before helping No. 1 son drill on his state capitals, his rivers and his oceans.
The morning of the competition, Jr. was not eager, but he was at least willing. Our first hint at how he would fare came during the endless hour we spend every morning trying to coax him into putting on his socks and shoes. In his most somber tone, he expressed his absolute anguish at the terrible suffering being experienced due to the earthquake in Hawaii.
Right sympathy, kid. Wrong island.
History was made in Russellville last Saturday night, closely observed by you-know-who. For the first time ever, three top-10 college basketball teams played in an Arkansas arena on the same night. The site was Tucker Coliseum at Arkansas Tech University, where the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys, ranked no. 1 in NCAA Division II, played the Delta State Statesmen, from Cleveland, Miss., and the Arkansas Tech Golden Suns, ranked no. 9 in Division II women's basketball, took on the Delta State Lady Statesmen, ranked no. 2. (The Observer would have picked “States-women” over “Lady Statesmen” if he'd been asked. He was not.)
An appropriately large crowd turned out for the competition — 4,122, a sellout, the first ever at Tucker Coliseum. More history, made with The Observer's help. The 4,122 was the announced crowd for the men's game, played second, but there were almost as many fans at the women's game. The men were playing their first home game since being voted No. 1.
History is sweeter when you win, and Tech won both games. The Observer's rooting was of such quality that he might well have been awarded the game ball, but he preferred to give most of the credit to the players.
Division II sports can be rewarding for spectators as well as participants. The Observer was rewarded Saturday night. There's still time, be-fore the basketball season ends, to catch a game at Arkadelphia, Magnolia, Monticello, Searcy or Russellville.
Our friend seldom embellishes, so when she says that she and her husband, driving home from Magazine Mountain, passed three men in a golf cart being pulled by a mule somewhere in the wilds of Yell County, we believe her.
She's a quick thinker, so she quickly called Alex Chadwick, the Slate blogger and erstwhile NPR radio reporter known for his “Interviews 50 Cents” slice-of-life videos, and asked if she should turn around and go back for an interview. No, he told her, that's going to take a pro. It's hard, he said, to interview a mule.
Our correspondent at WordsWorth Books reports that a young man came into the store recently carrying a new hardback book. He asked us to help him place it alphabetically on the shelf. He explained that the book, “A Question for Erin Pressley,” contained a question for his girlfriend.
We led him to the back of the store, shelving the book alphabetically under Pressley (incidentally his own name happened to be Powell, which happened to be right next to Pressley.)
An hour or two later, the couple came in, and she followed him to the back of the store, where he suggested she look for a book under her name. She quickly found it, then she opened it, a look of surprise and joy appeared on her face. On each page, one after another, was printed the question, “Will you marry me?”
As you can imagine, this story had a happy ending.
Where the heck is the winner of the $25 million Powerball ticket sold in January at the Cracker Box store in Mayflower? That's what The Observer's church choir was discussing Sunday morning as we lined up in the room off the sanctuary.
The choristers theorized that perhaps the winner was a criminal on the lam and suddenly afraid to come forward. Or someone trying to fig-ure out how to hide the winnings from a divorce lawyer. Something's keeping the winner back.
A tenor piped up with this suggestion: If whoever it is doesn't want to come forward to accept the dough, couldn't he send the ticket, unsigned, to a charity, or a school or someplace needy? Think, he said, of all the good that cash could do. Allelujahs would go up from the lucky recipients. Ours did shortly after the conversation ended, when the organ sounded.
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.
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."
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.
When completed, the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol lawn will be the exact size, shape and weight of the vaguely humming black monolith that appeared at the foot of Conway Sen. Jason Rapert's bed in June 2010 and later elevated his consciousness from apelike semi-sentience to incrementally less apelike semi-sentience.
No more clinging to material things, unless those material things are life preservers tossed as I go down for the third and final time, the few remaining strands of my once-majestic locks, or the skids of the last helicopter out before the fall of Little Rock.
All I want for Christmas is a wooden boat with a sail. A cozy cabin cruiser with saucer-sized portholes and a hotplate for heating up the grog and a little spoked wheel for The Cap'n to grimly lash himself to when it comes up a blow.