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The Observer, Jan. 31

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The Observer goes to a lot of movies, and — like everybody in the universe, we guess, except for the dingbats who indulge in it — we can't stand people who talk on their cell phones during a film.

The other night out at the Rave, following a movie that wasn't worth the eight bucks we paid for a seat, we saw cell-phone rage finally come to a head. As the lights came up and The Observer and Compadre were getting on our coats, we noticed an altercation on the other side of the theater. Two burly men were having a conversation that quickly escalated into a shouting match. Apparently, we gleaned from the back-and-forth, the guy in Row 14 was talking on his cell phone during the movie, which didn't sit well with a guy in row 15. As folks filed out of the theater, the argument continued, with Row 15 suddenly going Cop on Row 14. He'd go get his cuffs out of the car and take him to jail, buddy! Finally, they made their way to the exit, still goading and sniping at each other. It was, by a long shot, much more entertaining than the film we'd all just sat through.

While we'd rather enjoy watching one of those movie chatters getting a phone installed somewhere “hands free,” The Observer can't endorse vigilante-ism. In lieu of that, we say it's time for the legislature to get involved. “Use of a Cell Phone During a Movie with Intent to be an Insufferable Jackass” has a nice ring to it. First offense: community service (a pair of knee pads, a butter knife, and six hours cleaning the floor of your average movie theater). Second offense: public flogging. Third offense: restrained and forced to watch — Clockwork Orange–style — the films of Larry the Cable Guy until your frontal lobe is the consistency of a movie-theater hot dog. That should be enough for —

Wait. I gotta go. There's my phone.

Now to that other obsession, the World Wide Web. For those who like to bury themselves on-line, check this out: Nearly 10,000 images of headstones in Arkansas cemeteries can now be found at arkansasgravestones.org.

The Arkansas Gravestones Project was begun a decade ago by Nancy Jane Sharp Odom of Black Rock and her niece Ira Sharp Dennis, who started taking photographs of graves at cemeteries in Sharp, Lawrence and Independence counties. Their theory is though the information — a simple record of the life and death — is carved in stone, it has a better chance of survival in cyberspace and is more accessible there to the genealogically inclined as well.

There are a lot of headstones out there, and the project is seeking volunteers to add images to the digital graveyard. The Observer didn't find any relatives, but we did turn up some great boneyard names: Turkey Pen, Parsley, Steep Hill, and, our favorites when it comes to the idea of eternal rest, Duty (Randolph County) and Mount Pleasant (Prairie County).

Every two weeks, Rob Stal, a high school teacher in the Netherlands, takes flowers to the grave of Ssgt. Odis M. Isaacs at Henri-Chapelle, a Belgian cemetery for nearly 8,000 American soldiers who died during the advance to Germany in World War II. “I know that without the American soldiers my life in Holland would be very different,” he wrote The Observer.

What Stal knows of Isaacs is this: His name is on the war memorial at the Lonoke County Courthouse and the Randolph County Courthouse. He served in the 119th infantry, 30th division. He died Dec. 19, 1944. He was single.

Stal says his students are deeply interested in World War II — quite a contrast from most American high school students — and he'd like to know more about Odis Isaacs. When he talks about the war, he e-mailed The Observer, “I wanted to make it more personal for the children and not just the big picture.”

If you know more about Odis Isaacs, e-mail Stal at rob.stal@hotmail.com.

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