The Observer is a parent to a toddler who's in that phase of toddlerhood, when, though we know he is constantly changing — from walk to run, blank stares to a sort of ability to carry on conversation — it still happens incrementally enough that we rarely, if ever, catch the change in the moment. Most days, Junior seems stuck in the same damn loop:
Watching volume one of "Lots and Lots of Trucks" on DVD, which is essentially B-roll of various trucks doing truck things over a soundtrack of someone going to town on a drum machine. Drawing pictures of various trucks exclusively using black and turquoise crayons. Lining his fleet of trucks in front of an imaginary starting line and examining them at various angles. Reading Richard Scarry's "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go," or rather, demanding it be read to him. You get the idea. All of that is to say, we got a thrill the other day, when we happened to witness one of those momentous developmental occasions. Or at least we decided it was. Junior told his first made-up story. Here's how it went:
"Mommy was on a walk and saw a waterfall that was coming down and her feet was a firetruck that went 'BOOM BOOM.' "
Gentle nudge from The Observer: "And then what happened?"
"She got a big cantaloupe and she hitted the frogs that burped. Mommy saw the waterfall and the water was in the waterfall and there was a frog burping under the water."
"And then what happened?"
"There was a bear there and a horse and tractor and a firetruck and a BIG cement mixer ran up and a BIG garbage truck ran up."
"And then what happened?"
"They saw a cow, a pig and a frog burping under water. And the burp sounded like a BURP!"
Watch out, Richard Scarry.
The Arkansas Blog noted last Friday that a rack of Walmart-supplied T-shirts in a U of A campus store read "Arkansas" and, underneath, "established 1837." Faculty in the history department, which unlike the education department and the business school has not yet been bought by Walmart, were both amused and appalled. Unlike the pancake-shape theory of earth-shape argued hereabouts, it's not really up for debate that Arkansas gained statehood June 15, 1836.
Depending on your T-shirt for important information is fraught with danger. Along with the great Walmart shirt debacle, historians have detected another sartorial error, this time a map purporting to show which of Arkansas's counties are wet, with the slogan "Know Before You Go!", on a T-shirt made by AR State of Mind. The T depicts a number of counties as wet, when in fact only a few towns in the counties are. Imagine a poor thirsty traveler, with only his shirt as a guide, searching desperately for a beer in Barling (Sebastian County). Or for whiskey in Woodruff County, where according to the Department of Finance and Administration, there's only beer and the beer's only in Augusta. And so forth. Even worse — the shirt shows Benton County as dry! What if someone who was thinking of going to dinner at Eleven in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was led to believe, on the basis of the T-shirt, that they'd be drinking Dr. Pepper?
A solution: Businesses should hire copy editors. (There are bound to be a few around looking for work these days.) Like the Arkansas sign company that sold the street signs to Florida with the state's name spelled Flordia.
Not that the Times never makes a mistake. We're not perfect. We beg your pardon.