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

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Lies, sex and cell phones: The Arkansas roots of Hugh Freeze's demise

    I was going to leave the Hugh Freeze ouster at Ole Miss to the sportswriters but I thought it weird how the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette print account of his abrupt departure (from the AP) made no mention of Arkansas's own Houston Nutt, except as the coach Freeze succeeded.
    • Jul 21, 2017
  • Trump at work on obstructing justice; French Hill dodging questions

    Donald Trump is talking about pardons as the Russian investigation heats up. Closer to home, we get the cold shoulder from U.S. Rep. French Hill on his reported meeting with Russian dealmakers.
    • Jul 21, 2017
  • Suddenly, Obamacare doesn't look so bad

    The New York Times ventured into Trumpland in Pennsylvania to sample opinions on the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. People are singing a different tune.
    • Jul 21, 2017
  • More »

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
  • 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
  • Yawp

    The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.
    • Mar 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in The Observer

  • Dumb and smart, at the same time

    The Observer spent the week at a bar and thought a lot about a joke and its writer.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • -30-

    A newspaper died up in Atkins a few weeks back, not with a bang or a whimper, but with the sound of change jingling in a pocket, just too little of it to keep the printing presses rolling.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Does she know?

    Did Kim Walker-Smith, when recording "Throne Room" for her new record "On My Side," truly understand the power of her music? Does she now know that her song was the one that played on the radio as Michael Reed thumped into the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds and brought it on down?
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

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