We get a lot of tips here in the office — good tips, bad tips, tips that turn out to be the truth even though you would have bet a dollar to a dogtick there was no way that could be true. Tips are the lifeblood of a news-gathering organization, along with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and hard liquor after quittin' time.
Last week, we were lounging around the newsroom when somebody sent an electronic brick through the window saying that a Republican legislator up at the Capitol planned to introduce a bill that he predicted would be the most controversial of the session.
Given that the State Capitol building has become a veritable Kook Roost these days, with its inmates passing laws so out there that even the New York Times has sent reporters down here to make sure they're serious, the idea that somebody would get all superlative on us when it comes to controversy set off a fresh batch of head scratching around the newsroom and, later, when we posted the question online: What could it be?
At the risk of giving the folks up on Penitentiary Hill more ideas to help prod us back to the caves at the point of a crucifix, The Observer cast our vote for the following. It had to be either:
"The You Can Have My Gun When You Pry It From My Translucent, Unformed Fingers Act of 2013," which, if enacted, would require every woman of fertile age to have a small-caliber handgun implanted in the lining of her uterus, so that any potential fetus can immediately begin to fend off abortion doctors.
"The God Done It Act," which will state that while grading a biology or geology exam taken by an Arkansas student, teachers are required by law to accept "God Done It" as an acceptable answer to any question. Also acceptable: "God Dun That," "Gah Dood Dit," or "Werk of the Debil."
As of yet, our mystery legislator and his or her grand social compact have yet to be revealed, but we're currently leaning toward the one about arming the unborn. A law that combines guns AND fetuses, with zero regard for a woman's health, safety or personal privacy? In Arkansas these days, that one's definitely a keeper.
The Observer was out and about the other day, doing The King's Business, when we wheeled into a convenience store in North Little Rock, looking for a caffeine fix. After preparing our beverage, we walked to the counter, where a bright-eyed young clerk looked us up and down before exclaiming: "Are you a writer?"
We'd never been there before, and had never seen her in our life, so the question piqued our interest enough that we 'fessed up to our profession.
"As a matter of fact, I am," The Observer replied. "Why do you ask?"
"You just LOOK like a writer," she said.
Given that writers have a long-standing history of being rumpled and/or drunk, often both, we couldn't help but wonder: Is looking "like a writer" a good thing, or a bad thing?
We might have to get back to you on that one. In the meantime: Does anybody have a comb?
The Observer gets on The Book o' Face quite a bit to commiserate with friends about how all the polar bears are drowning, the world is going to Hades in a handbasket and politics are straight up peanut-butter-and-pickle-sammich crazy. That said, we think we may have actually hit on a solution for stopping some of the senseless violence we've seen of late.
The answer came during a discussion about a recent shooting in Little Rock that took a young man's life. Police soon arrested two men in the crime, both old enough to vote, but neither of them old enough to legally buy a beer. They've been charged with capital murder, which means they're looking at spending the rest of their natural lives in prison.
Here's The Observer's idea, crude but effective: Billboards all over town bearing a picture of a pair of large, naked breasts. Underneath, it should say: "Take a good look. Because if you get life in prison for being an impulsive, homicidal jackass, you'll never see another pair again."
Car accidents would probably go through the roof, but we're thinking murders would plummet to their lowest level in years.