The Observer put on the hot seat 

The Observer is a great lover of our fair metropolis — City of Vines, City of Sweatstained Undershirts (summertime only), City of Clapboard and Shade. Our campaign to coin a secondary name for her is a labor in progress. We're working on it.

Whatever you want to call this place we live other than Little Rock/North Little Rock, it's the people who make it great. Those great people spawn great things, like the Little Rock Film Festival, which screened 100 movies and brought in thousands of cinema lovers for a four-day shindig a few weeks back.

As luck would have it, The Observer had a couple of flicks with our name in the credits that were showing at the LRFF, a short called "Ballerina" that we wrote with our brother, and another called "Seven Souls" on which we did some writing touch-ups for our brother-from-another-mother. As luck would further have it, the two shorts showed back-to-back during a screening. The Observer was there, watching from the cheap seats, waiting breathlessly in the dark for the first cry to hang the writer.

After the first screening on Friday night, there was a filmmaker Q&A with the audience. While The Observer works mightily to avoid that kind of thing, and would have been happy to skulk at the back of the hall by the trash cans, there came a question about the writing on "Ballerina." Suddenly, we found our self holding a microphone, standing before the amassed faithful, asked to explain our inspirations.

"Ballerina" is a strange sort of thing — a kinda-science-fiction movie whose tone owes a lot to both Hitchcock and the old "Twilight Zone" series. As The Observer told the audience, when we heard Netflix had put 138 episodes of Rod Serling's low-budget masterpiece in their Instant View menu, it was like Christmas had come early to The Observatory. We watch two or three of them every night before we go to bed, to plant the seed of fruitful dreams.

Beyond that, we fear, our answer to the eager questioner was a bit muddled and rambling. Though we've been teaching classes for more than 10 years, we don't perform well before crowds. So, we stood there, and muttered, and tried our best to explain Where It Came From, a question which has been the bane of writers since ol' Will Shakespeare first fielded it about The Scottish Play. We hope we made at least a little sense, because our recollection of answering the question has been reduced by the buzz of our nervousness to something that sounds in hindsight like the gibbering of a chimpanzee.

For the folks who were there, though, here's what we really meant to say: Stories come from wherever they come from, and God bless whoever or whatever sends them. Beyond that, it's probably best not to look too long into that light, lest ye make it go out.

Fletcher Larkin, a locavore potter, is looking for red clay.

Larkin, who gave a demonstration in front of the Laman Library's Argenta branch last Friday night, is using local materials for the firing and glazing process, rather than ordering them from out of state: White clay from Acme Brick in Malvern, novaculite from a mining company in the Ouachitas (it makes a translucent white glaze), syenite from Granite Mountain and wood ash from Whole Hog Barbecue. Now he's looking for a plentiful source of Arkansas red clay for his stoneware teapots and cups and bowls, which he sells from Fox Pass Pottery, his family's business in Hot Springs.

Imagine it, food locavores — eating your Arkansas farm vegetables off a plate made of Arkansas mud and rock. It doesn't get more local than that, I guess, unless you carved your fork from the fallen oak out back, blew your own glassware from Arkansas River sand, and wove your own napkin from Arkansas cotton. Why not?

A few nights back, with Spouse and Junior gone to visit relatives in South Arkansas and the house to our self, The Observer dreamed someone was knocking at our front door — a series of four or five urgent raps. We got up and went to the door; peered out through the diamond-shaped window, but the porch was empty. Though we live in the city and know its dangers, though we know better, we opened the door anyway, but found only the summer night and warm air, with empty Maple Street shelving away down the hill in the yellow glow of the streetlights.


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