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Image of alligator snapping turtle

An encounter with the enemy

The Observer first saw an alligator snapping turtle in the wild when we were about 5 — a massive old sumbitch one of our distant kinfolks had transferred from the Arkansas River to a 6-acre stock pond up near Quitman as a kind of joke a few years before John Kennedy was felled in Dallas.

Belief

I believe there is no better smell in all the world than old books, a lifelong addiction that keeps The Observer rifling through pages at pretty much every moment when we're not rifling through old bookstores and haunting book sales, even though our shelves back home in the parlor and study and specially constructed Reading Toilet of The Observatory are already groaning with enough tomes that I'll never get 'em all read unless I live to a well-seasoned 306.

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Beginnings

The Getaway

It's been 10 months since The Observer hung up our cleats after 15 years as a reporter and took a job with a little more pay, a little less stress and a lot better insurance to take care of our various health bugaboos.

Phoenix

If you're reading a paper copy of this esteemed publication right now, you're holding something special in your hands: the last weekly print edition of the Arkansas Times, the end of an unbroken chain that goes back and back, week by week, every week, to May 1992, when the Times became what the hep cats call an "alternative newsweekly."

Ramblin' Jack

The Observer, like a lot of folks, is drawn to the real places: barbecue joints and honky-tonks, seedy truck stops and greasy little diners where the waitresses and clerks still call you "Hun," used bookstores that have been there since Faulkner was still drinking mint juleps, bait shops hung with dusty-eyed bass pulled up from the deep when Eisenhower was in the White House.
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Phillips

After many years of faithful service, it seems as if the transmission in Black Phillip — our trusty 2006 Honda CRV — is in the process of giving up the ghost.

Long December

Thanksgiving in the rearview, with all the leftovers either consumed or thrown out to the dogs and/or opportunistic raccoons, we slide, inexorably, into December.

Thankful

It's that time of year again, when we are supposed to turn a bit inward to find and count our blessings.

Breathe

It feels like The Observer hasn't been able to breathe this deep since Nov. 7, 2016. That's a long time to be holding your breath.
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Tomorrow, Part 2

So here we are again. It's the morning of Nov. 6, 2018, as The Observer writes this, a cup of coffee going cold on the edge of the desk, Election Day just a flush of light at the edge of the world.

I saw the light

For Halloween a few years ago, we 'fessed up in this space to a secret that would seem to run afoul of our aversion to flim-flam: Once upon a time, reeling from the untimely death of our father, The Observer and his brother spent five full years searching for evidence of the paranormal all over the state.

Back 40

The Observer right now is, as the old timers used to say, "down in the back." Specifically, it's the lower back, which has us hobbling around The Observatory like the cranky, broken version of Charles Foster Kane after his off-key caged songbird flew the coop.

Fair to middlin'

The Observer and Spouse got out to the Arkansas State Fair the other evening thanks to a couple of free tickets and a parking pass we'd scored, the latter helping us bypass the $10 parking fee they're now instituting just to get in the gate.
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Endorsements

FOR: Warwick Sabin for Little Rock mayor.

Memento

Remember when the world made something like sense, back in that long, dreaming summer of two years ago, before the coming of this walking, talking embodiment of the misshapen original sin America has held to her bosom since before Thomas Jefferson touched quill to parchment, manifested into a human being the way an idea might be hammered into a two-dimensional villain in the clumsiest of B-grade comic books?

Tribal

The Observer, Junior and our young nephew from down in Lower Arkansas got down to Hot Springs for SpaCon over the weekend, the multiday geekfest that's one of the bigger pop culture conventions in the state.

Fuel and fire

The Observer is a person who always needs some new adventure out there on the horizon to look forward to. A trip booked a few months out, a class to teach or take at some point, even a new restaurant we'd like to get to and get thrown out of after they catch us filling up a Ziploc bag with free ketchup. So it goes.

Anonymous

The Observer, who knows a thing or three about anonymity, found our self nonetheless shocked by the recent New York Times op-ed by the anonymous King or Queen of the White House Molepeople, the person who appears to have responded to the Emperor having no clothes not by telling his Nekkid Excellency to put some damn pants on, but by getting buck nekkid, too, and calling his or her junk-out bit-waggling a sacrifice for a nation that oughta damn well be grateful for it.

September

September is here at long last, the doldrums of summer moving toward an end. This is the time of the year when we begin counting the seconds before we get to take our jacket down from the back of the door in the mornings. Knowing Arkansas, there's a fair chance that day won't arrive until mid-November.
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