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#HauntHillcrest2020

For us, Halloween has become the greatest thing one can do with underpants on, a chance for adults to be kids again and for kids to consider an insulated-by-fun glimpse of all those things that you must confront as an adult: the unknown, the macabre, the unsettling.

9/11 and the Cinema of Revenge

As of this writing, both wars are still going on, if you can believe it, with children born on Sept. 11, 2001, now old enough to legally join the military and fight in the wars that day spawned.

Testimonial

Happy birthday, Mary Jane

Like you, your cousin, your Dutch uncle, Meryl Streep, the guy at the corner store and your ol’ dog Blue, The Observer ain’t getting any younger.
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Beach books

The Observer was a weird little shit who has since grown into a weird old fart, and for several years there in our teens and 20s, serial killers happened to be one of the things in which we were interested — the real-life equivalent of the monsters that haunt the darkest fairy tales, and maybe even the original, unspeakable inspiration for the Big Bad Wolf and Rumpelstiltskin, the Wicked Queen and the Boogeyman, and all the other baddies that lurk in the darkness of closets and under kids’ beds when mom and dad say goodnight and the lights go out.

Revisions

“It is not a lack of talent that keeps most people from becoming artists.”
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.

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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