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April 2007

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 25, 2007

I tire easily.

I don't mean physically; although in our household, I do manage to attribute my daily habit of napping to being plain tuckered out. Meaning: "Honey, I need to take a nap. Walking the dog just wore me out." Or: "Honey, who knew that clipping my fingernails would make me so darn tired? I think Daddy needs a nap." And most times, my sweet angel doesn't mind a bit.

It's either that or she's used to my need for daily siestas.

But, as I noted, it's not the physical act of weariness about which I write.

I am tired mentally.

To paraphrase a Waffle House order, my brain is scrambled, scattered and smothered.

There are the usual suspects: the never-ending aspects and responsibilities of work and family. But, the main culprit is the by-product of our wired and digital culture.

You see, I'm addicted to the endless stream of news, gossip, sports, business and pop culture nonsense that's delivered 24/7 through the Internet, e-mail, and television.

If I hear or read one more story about Iraq or global warming or Don Imus or Sanjaya or Anna Nicole Smith or Houston Nutt, etc., etc., etc., -- then there's the very strong possibility that my brain will blow up.


Someone could walk by my office at that one unfortunate moment of overload to see my head spontaneously explode and splatter all over my computer monitor.

Now, please understand: I know this addiction is my fault. I'm the one pushing my kids out of the way when I get home from work.

"But, Daddy," one of our children will say, "I have to finish my computer research for homework."

"Get the encyclopedia, rugrat," I'll snap. "I have to read an op-ed from the New York Times regarding the new military deployment guidelines set by the Department of Defense!"

"But, Daddy!"

"Then, I need to see if Larry Birkhead's new hairstylist is the same stylist that gave John Edwards that $400 hair cut!"

"But Daddy!"

"Then, I need to find out if Al Roker really lost his weight through a diet or gastric bypass!"

"But Daddy!"

"Then, Daddy needs to post a comment on Hogville! I think they found another list of text messages Houston made!"

"But Daddy!"

"Then, I need to check out the new photos of Erik Estrada receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!"

I could go on, but really, what's the point? I'm the one to blame. I'm the one who stuffs my mind with trivial nonsense that doesn't matter a whit.

I'm the one sitting in front of the computer screen, the newspapers, and the television sets obsessively following all of this stuff.

And it's finally to the point that my addiction is putting me in a foul mood. Iraq, Imus, Pelosi, gun control, Birkhead, McCain, global warming, Spears, Nutt, Sanjaya, Gonzales, Broyles, O'Reilly!



I should've given up all of this stuff for Lent!

So, I'm going to do the next best thing: I'm going cold turkey for one week.

Sort of.

For one week, I'm not going to touch a computer or check my e-mail. Now, I do have to read a newspaper and watch the news, but I may simply limit my broadcast news intake to the network evening news.

It will take stamina. Resolve. Grit. Determination.

But I can do it.

I lived without the Internet and e-mail for 30 years; surely I can make it for seven days.

I might go through withdrawal. I may snap at friends and family. But, by golly, I'm going to do this!

Goodbye Obama. Goodbye Britney. Goodbye Alberto. And, best of all, goodbye Sanjaya.

I will see you all in a week.


You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at You can view Rob's blog at Or just click the link on the front page of, the web site for The Max 93One FM.


All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 18, 2007

The caterpillars always come out in Spring. Fuzzy black crawlers with yellow stripes along the lengths of their bodies.

The two boys had collected them around the fringes of their grandparents' yard. There were seemingly hundreds of them, slinking around the driveway, sidewalk and grass.

With their little fingers, the boys delicately plucked them from the ground and dropped them into a plastic container that had been swiped from their grandmother's kitchen. Soon, the plastic was stuffed with caterpillars, crawling and snuggling among each other, likely wondering what in the world was happening in their small world.

The boys, cousins around the age of nine, looked at the container of insects and wondered what to do next.

"Let's sell them," the slightly older one said.

"Hmmm...for how much?" the slightly younger one asked.

The older one thought for a second.

"A dollar?"

The younger one scoffed. "No! Five dollars!"


By now, their friend, also around the boys' age, who lived two doors down had ventured into the yard.

She looked at the container full of caterpillars.

"Wow," their friend said.

"Wanna buy some?" the older cousin asked.

"How much for two?" asked the friend.

"Ten bucks," said the younger cousin.

The little girl thought for a moment.

"Sure," she said. "Let me go get the money."

She walked back to her home, walked past her mother, and went to her room. She found a twenty dollar bill from her stash of saved money and walked back to her friends up the street.

"I only have a twenty," she told the cousins after she returned. "I need a ten dollar bill back."

"That's cool," the older cousin said. "I can get change from our grandmother."

He walked inside the house to ask for change.

"Where did you get that twenty dollar bill?" the grandmother asked.

"Ummm, Allie wants to buy two caterpillars, and...ummm...they're five dollars each,...and...ummm...I need ten dollars for change."

The grandmother put all of this together.

"You two boys are charging five dollars for those caterpillars around the yard?"

Her grandson nodded.

"You go give that little girl her money back," she said.


"No sir! You don't sell caterpillars to little girls, particularly for five dollars!"



The older cousin stomped back outside and thrust the bill back to the girl.

"Here!" he said. "We can't charge you for the stinkin' caterpillars!"

* * *

The story you just read is true. Names have been withheld to protect the innocent.

However, I can tell you that the older cousin happened to be my nine-year-old son -- the same mini-capitalist who was selling free Cardinals schedules from ESPN 1340 AM for fifty cents to his buds the week before.

What surprises me is that my kid was the one who first thought the caterpillars were worth a dollar while his cousin was pushing for the five bucks.

A true capitalist would surely see that, no matter what his grandmother would later say, a living, breathing caterpillar is worth much more than twice the value of a paper baseball schedule.


You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at You can view Rob's blog at Or just click the link on the front page of, the web site for The Max 93One FM.


All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 11, 2007

Many skeptics scoff at psychic powers, yet, I've come to the realization that I might have the gift of supernatural foresight.

An example: One day last week I consumed a breakfast burrito, one large pizza for lunch, an afternoon snack of chocolate ice cream, and a dinner that consisted of fried catfish, french fries, raw onion and a fried pie for dessert.

After dinner, I predicted to my wife that I might come down with a serious case of heartburn later that night.

Sure enough -- by the next morning I had eaten an entire role of Rolaids.


So, in honor of Miss Cleo, Jeane Dixon and the Amazing Kreskin, I've decided to make some predictions for the future.

(Actually, I don't believe in psychic powers. I just thought it would be fun to pretend like I was Miss Cleo. In fact, when you read these, think of me reading them to you with a thick Jamaican accent -- just like her.)

PREDICTION ONE: In 2007, the University of Arkansas will not only have a new men's head basketball coach, but also a new head football coach.

PREDICTION TWO: The city of Batesville will have a new wastewater treatment plant within three years.

PREDICTION THREE: One major new industry will announce plans to locate in the area within a few years.

PREDICTION FOUR: Despite the ever-increasing traffic headaches due to its expansion, expect more development and new businesses along Harrison Street in the future.

PREDICTION FIVE: A Walgreen's will soon be built in Batesville.

PREDICTION SIX: A major restaurant chain will open an outlet in Batesville.

PREDICTION SEVEN: This year will solidify Mark Martin's standing as one of the classiest drivers in the sport and a legend in NASCAR racing.

PREDICTION EIGHT: Starbucks will have an outlet in Batesville within five to ten years -- maybe sooner. Don't laugh -- I'm quite serious.

PREDICTION NINE: Ethanol and bio-diesel production in the United States will continue to increase, and a serious campaign will mount to require new automobiles to raise their gas-mileage average.

PREDICTION TEN: Besides Harrison Street development, expect some major moves along our other main thoroughfare: St. Louis Street.

PREDICTION ELEVEN: A Waffle House will open in Newport or Bald Knob, and Batesville residents will be filled with jealousy...

PREDICTION TWELVE: ...until a major restaurant chain with similar food opens in Batesville.

PREDICTION THIRTEEN: Another sales tax -- a valid, clearly defined and much needed sales tax -- will be added in Batesville within a year or two, but this time, it will not be brought down by a certain group of citizens who always oppose such taxes and don't even live within the city limits.

PREDICTION FOURTEEN: At least one more Mexican or Chinese restaurant will open in Newport as well as Batesville.

PREDICTION FIFTEEN: And finally, for all the classic rock fans in the area, look for a well-known rock star to make their debut as on-air talent on Classic Rock 93 -- KZLE.

* * *

Our nine-year-old son has become quite the entrepreneur.

St. Louis Cardinals broadcast schedules are always in demand this time of the year at W.R.D. Entertainment since we carry all of the Cardinals play-by-play action on ESPN Radio -- 1340 KBTA-AM.

Down at my office the other day, the boy picked up about 100 of the wallet-sized schedules and plopped them in his school back pack.

"Hold it there, Little Bubba," I said. "You can't take all of those with you."

"No, Dad -- listen," he said. "I'm going to take these to school and sell them."

"What? No one is going to buy those from you when they can get them free here."

"No, Dad," he told me. "You watch. I know a bunch of kids at school who would buy these."

Skeptical, I dug further.

"How much are you going to charge? A nickel?"

"Nope. Fifty cents."

"Yeah, right," I scoffed at my little Donald Trump wanna-be.

The next day after work, he bounded up to me with a handful of quarters -- his day's income for selling free Redbird schedules.

"See, Dad. Told you."

I hired him then and there to sell advertising at W.R.D. Entertainment -- yet I later regretted the decision.

If he can sell free Cardinals schedules for fifty cents, heaven knows what he'll do selling ad space.

And at this rate, he might knock me out of a job in a hostile takeover.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at You can view Rob's blog at Or just click the link on the front page of, the web site for The Max 93One FM.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 4, 2007

By the time you read this, the University of Arkansas should have a new basketball coach.

I think.

It's March 29 as I write this. This past Monday, Razorback coach Stan Heath was unceremoniously dumped by Athletic Director Frank Broyles. Something about low ticket sales.

At least that's what Frank told Stan.

On the Internet, however, the scuttlebutt was a tad different. Message boards on fan sites such as and have been on turbo drive with countless rumors and speculation. The main rumor had Frank moving Stan out of the way to make room for Texas A & M coach Billy Gillispie -- a man who had just wrapped up his team's season in the NCAA tourney, a team he had revitalized with a vengeance.

For days before Heath's firing, the web grapevine had Gillispie swooping into Fayetteville to restore the Razorback basketball program to its mid-1990s glory days. When the ax fell on Coach Heath, posters on and assured Hog fans that it was only a matter of time before the Aggie coach became an official Razorback. Happy times were ahead.

Then word spread that Coach Gillispie had spurned Coach Broyles.

Across the Web, the shock turned to anger then to embarrassment.

How, in the name of everything swine, could such high hopes be dashed? After the Mitch Mustain/Gus Malzahn disaster, here now, was another shining ray of light cruelly extinguished in Razorbackland.

(Of course, remember: I'm writing this on March 29. For all I know, Gillispie might now be the head hog.)

Hog Webheads called for Gillispie's neck. Said he wasn't that great of a coach to begin with. Started posting that the University of Southern California coach Tim Floyd was the guy we wanted all along. Then they started calling for Broyles' neck. Said that he was losing it in his advanced years.

And it was in the middle of reading all of these posts at about one in the morning that I realized it was about one in the morning and I was reading all of these posts from grown men obsessed over a stupid basketball team. Earlier today, I couldn't leave my car because I was glued to Sports Rap with Chuck Barrett on the radio, absorbing all of the latest head Hog possibilities. And last night, I sat in a movie theatre checking my e-mails on my cell phone for any potential breaking news regarding the Razorback coaching dilemma.

What the heck's wrong with me? There are other things in life on which my attention can be focused. Things like...oh, I don't know...maybe MY FAMILY! WORLD PEACE! WHEN IN THE WORLD SANJAYA IS GOING TO BE VOTED OFF AMERICAN IDOL!

Besides...I need to save my energy for the next big Hog scandal -- which, according to the online Razorback fanatics, has something to do with cell phone records, expense accounts and another prominent Hog coach.

Or so say the Razorback fans that are always online...

* * *

The legendary British band The Who played their first show in Little Rock a few days ago, and it was a night of tight, loud and energetic rock and roll.

With drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle long gone, vocalist Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townsend carried on with a superb backup group of musicians that included Pete's brother, Simon, on guitar and Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey, on drums, bringing to life Who classics like "I Can't Explain," "Baba O'Riley," "My Generation," "Who Are You," "Pinball Wizard," and "Won't Get Fooled Again."

It was my first Who concert, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. I had always been a fan, particularly after I came across the 1979 documentary of the band, The Kids Are Alright, when I was a kid. Yet, as I grew older, it was always the new music that captivated me. Besides, at the time, The Who's last album was released right when I headed to high school. With no new stuff, the band had simply moved into the back of my mind in the last 20 years or so.

(The current tour by The Who is in support of their first album in over 25 years, Endless Wire.)

But the concert completely revitalized my interest. My car is now stuffed with classic Who CDs. When a Who cut plays on Classic Rock 93 -- KZLE, my volume goes up. And I recently revisited The Kids Are Alright on DVD with my nine-year-old son.

Now, he's a fan -- wanting "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" on his iPod. He's even practicing the Windmill, Townsend's signature guitar move, on his Guitar Hero.

Of course, on a real guitar, Townsend regularly shreds his fingertips after a few Windmills. Thankfully, the Guitar Hero guitar is plastic and void of strings.

Otherwise, our boy's hand would be a bloody mess.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at You can view Rob's blog at Or just click the link on the front page of, the web site for The Max 93One FM.


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