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The Observer, Sept. 30 

A local business set off a grumble when it switched from time cards to a fingerprint scanner to monitor the comings and goings of employees.

How disgruntled were they?

Reports an insider:

Come the day to start fingerprint scanning, they had to stop the process partway through to expressly state that employees could no longer use the middle finger.

Free to good home: Large Art. It was a few years back when The Observer's kid first saw the painting, propped up beside the dumpster behind his school and destined for destruction. It was a big 'ol thing, a stretched canvas with a sturdy wooden border, maybe five and a half feet by two and a half. It depicts two boys — one black, one white; one shirtless, the other in bib overalls — making their way across the grounds of a stylized Arkansas state Capitol. Overhead, a surreal pastel sky. Around, a spray of delicate dogwood flowers. In the corner: the name Sarlo. The only damage seems to be a round, pencil-sized hole poked in the canvas near the edge, maybe the work of some grade school miscreant. Everybody's a critic.

Though we've since learned from a little Internet sleuthing that it's probably the work of Little Rock artist and art teacher Thomas Sarlo, we don't know anything else about the painting — where it hung before, or why it ended up shipwrecked among the boxes by the dumpster. It is a pretty thing, though a little grand for our humble abode. What probably appealed to our kiddo that day was the startling style of the thing: bright rays of washed-out color that cut across the image, obviously done by some careful artist with a whole lot of patience and even more masking tape. It is artistically cunning enough that we have no idea how ol' Sarlo did it in the first place, but it does make a statement. Too, Junior — an artistic type himself, who habitually squirrels back everything he creates, from drawings to clay figures — couldn't quite stand the idea of someone's work being trucked off to oblivion. Given that we heard that one of Van Gogh's paintings was once used to patch a chicken coop before being rescued and later sold for millions, we couldn't help but indulge our young preservationist, even if this particular masterpiece wasn't quite The Observer's cup o' noodles.

We loaded it into the back of The Mobile Observatory, carted it home and hung it on his biggest wall. And there it has hung, over his bed, a little askew, until last month, when we repainted. At Junior's insistence, the room went from a pea green to a cheery sky blue, and now even he admits that the painting just doesn't look right anymore, with its palette of muted tones.

Junior will be glad to see it go to a loving home. His mother, meanwhile, will just be happy to get it off the front porch, where it has been standing on end for weeks, blocking the living room window and giving all passersby the impression that we are either art thieves who lack storage or hippies trying to beautify the neighborhood one porch at a time. In short, if you've got a big bare wall that needs prettying up, give The Observer a call. We can make it happen.

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