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April 2009

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 29, 2009

Rob is taking the week off this week.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 22, 2009

Should you have a leg ulcer anytime soon, your friendly neighborhood physician might want to consider the new craze in treating such an affliction: maggots. Yes, friends, some doctors are now utilizing maggots instead of medicinal hydrogel to help heal leg ulcers. Of course, maggots have been used for centuries to help treat wounds, but more civilized times brought less gruesome forms of therapy. But last year, the British Medical Journal did a study that noted maggot therapy worked just as well as the hydrogels utilized in conventional therapy, according to the Associated Press.

Maggot therapy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so any doctor can prescribe it. However, one negative side effect to maggot therapy is that some patients report a tickling sensation as those little dudes gobble away the dead tissue.

Oh, and in other instances, the maggots can wriggle out of the dressing that covers your leg ulcer, but all medicine has side effects, right?

So, the next time you suffer from a painful leg ulcer, use maggots.

Maggots. Let them eat away the pain! (Use as directed.)

***

Last week on April 15, groups of disgruntled citizens held T.E.A. (Taxed Enough Already) Parties across the nation. Spurred on by media personalities such as Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck from Fox News, as well as CNBC's Rick Santelli, thousands of folks gathered to protest the manner in which President Obama's administration and Congress have handled the country's economic crisis.

Many of the participants in the T.E.A. parties told reporters they had a genuine concern for the state of our nation, and insisted they were protesting in a ÒbipartisanÓ spirit. If so, good for them for utilizing their First Amendment right to voice their worries.

But of course, there were also many protesters across the country who were, well, wacko.

Here's a rundown of some messages displayed on signs at some of the rallies: OBAMA'S PLAN-WHITE SLAVERY; THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS ARE THE JEWS FOR OBAMA'S OVENS; and BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA-THE NEW FACE OF HITLER.

Tasteful and intelligent, no?

Uh, no.

One moron even displayed a sign in the background of a Sean Hannity broadcast from a T.E.A. Party that compared the president to a Somali pirate.

If John McCain had been elected instead of Barack Obama, we would still most likely be in the same situation we are now. And this begs the question: would all of these same people and media personalities have held these protests if McCain was sitting in the Oval Office?

Witnessing at the venom, racism and sheer idiocy of a few of the protestors, as well as the message and tone of most of the more sane and decent protestors, I think the answer would be no.

Look: this economic mess in we which find ourselves is a bipartisan mess. The entire American political machine -- populated by Democrats and Republicans -- is a corrupt and infected institution that has divided the country into schoolyard factions who only see black and white and no shades of gray, no spirit of simple cooperation. And, thousands of the T.E.A. Party participants realize this and voiced their concern in this spirit. It's too bad they were overshadowed by the immature and hateful voices of some of their fellow partygoers.

But, everyone on both sides should take a deep breath. Relax. Everything's going to be O.K. America will survive, all right? Simmer down, everyone. And, I mean everyone.

Mr. Hannity and, particularly you, Mr. Beck: take a chill pill. Hey you -- Rachel Maddow and your fellow MSNBC smart-aleck, Keith Olbermann -- not every Republican is an idiot or intolerant bigot. I think the two of you, Beck and Hannity, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell -- and, heck, let's throw in Rush Limbaugh and the editorial staff of The New York Times, as well -- I think all of you should take a weekend retreat to Vegas or some spa together and just get to know each other, unwind, talk about each other's families and friends, and then all have a big, warm and fuzzy group hug.

This ridiculous and single-minded division that is promulgated and encouraged on both sides is the real enemy. That's what we should be protesting.

***

Actually, wouldn't it be nice if Maddow, Olbermann, Limbaugh, Madonna, Chris Brown, Lindsay Lohan, Rosie O'Donnell, Hannity, Beck, Pelosi, McConnell, Nancy Grace (not you, Mom!), Paris Hilton, the Octomom and Barney Frank all went on a nice luxury cruise for a long and relaxing trip...to the coast of Somalia?

Seriously, we should look into that.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 15, 2009

Below is a reprint from the October 31, 2007, issue of the Arkansas Weekly.

It shames me to admit this, but as a high school junior, I thought Purple Rain was a cinematic masterpiece.

Now, we all have skeletons in our closet when it comes to popular culture -- particularly when it involves movies and musical tastes. My best friend in junior high believed that Loverboy was going to change the world of rock and roll. At the same time in my life, I thought Hall & Oates were rock and roll trailblazers -- never mind the fact that the duo was the furthest thing from rock and roll since Pat Boone covered "Tutti Fruitti."

But Purple Rain, the overblown and incredibly dated musical odyssey through Minneapolis nightclubs featuring a diminutive, Jheri curled, eyeliner- and high heeled boot-wearing hero named "The Kid" played by the diminutive, Jheri curled, eyeliner- and high heeled boot-wearing dude named Prince, was, to me, the Citizen Kane of rock and roll movies. It had familial drama, sexy women, dynamic intrigue (if you call the rivalry between Morris "Jungle Love" Day and The Kid "dynamic" and/or full of "intrigue") and centering it all, the tortured musical genius, cryptically known only as "The Kid."

The story, for those of you fortunate enough to have missed Purple Rain, follows The Kid, raised by an overbearing father (who, as it happens, also used to be a tortured musical genius), fighting for musical respect and true love (with Apollonia, who somehow loves to perform with her girl-group clad only in tiny pieces of lingerie) in the supposedly rough and tumble world of Minneapolis music clubs.

It is, in fact, just a rehash of all the old Elvis Presley movies, only this time, instead of wearing tapered slacks and loafers, our hero wears fluffy lace and mascara.

Why my 16-year-old self fell for Purple Rain escapes me to this day. I came across it the other night on VH1 Classic, and I cringed all through it. It is a truly horrible movie. To begin with, the movie is filled with enormous space-age perms that only Marie Osmond can get away with wearing these days, all types of neon eye shadow, and acting that would make a Paris Hilton performance look like one delivered by Meryl Streep. Prince's acting simply consists of whipping his mullet perm around to face the camera and giving some type of ridiculous, supposedly emotional look to his particular acting partner. Happiness, anger, or melancholy -- it's all in the whip of the head and the look in those mascara-lined eyes.

Sean Penn: eat your heart out.

The climax of the movie features The Kid performing a composition by his father that he discovered after his dad attempts suicide. The name of that composition? You guessed it: "Purple Rain."

While our tiny hero performs the ballad and cements himself as a Minneapolis musical genius, all in the crowded club begin to slowly sway, hands in the air, to the anthem. It is, to be clear, a moment of pure cheese.

Yet, when I was 16 and in anguish over my first instance of puppy love gone awry, Purple Rain touched everything that was in my broken little heart. I mean, after all, I only wanted to see my long-gone sweetheart dancing with me in the purple rain -- whatever that was.

The fourth or fifth time I went to see Purple Rain, I took my two best friends to it. Hoping they could sense how this magical musical poem related to my heartbroken situation, I sat excited beside them in the crowded Little Rock theatre. And when the big musical climax finally arrived I slowly and emotionally turned to them in the hope of seeing tears in their eyes, and yet I only saw two guys standing in the theatre with big goofy grins on their face, sarcastically swaying along to "Purple Rain."

They were making fun of my emotional touchstone. How dare they!

"This is serious!" I half whispered, half screamed. "This is a serious part of the movie!"

They only kept swaying and kept laughing.

"You guys are jerks! This is Prince!"

Re-watching -- or, rather -- suffering through Purple Rain again the other night, I realized how far ahead my high school pals were in terms of maturity. I've always thought of myself as a late bloomer, but this solidified it. I was an idiot to ever take such nonsense seriously.

Now, the emotional significance of Footloose...that's another story.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 8, 2009

Remind me to never again mention Bud Shreve in an April Fools column.

Shreve, one of the Ss in S & S Liquidations on Highway 167, was a target in last week's 'Corn Dog Capital of the World' April Fools column. Bud didn't take it too well that I noted (joked) S & S would be torn down and replaced by a 10-story corn dog monument.

For revenge, he conspired with a few folks and left about 75 corn dogs in my office. Corn dogs covered my desk. Corn dogs were stuck in my pen holder. Corn dogs were hidden in my desk drawers. Corn dogs were even stuffed in my headphones.

When I opened the door that particular morning, my office smelled like a convenience store deli.

Our office manager -- one of the co-conspirators -- has told me that I still haven't found all the corn dogs. I guess I'll have to wait a couple of weeks and follow the scent.




***

You know, I'm beginning to wonder if President Obama has some contempt for our most important ally -- the Brits.

This is old news by now, but I notice he's done at least four things that seem a little tacky in regard to our friends across the Atlantic. First, he returned a bust of Winston Churchill that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair loaned to the U.S. as a sign of solidarity after 9/11. He also kept the current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown waiting and waiting when Brown first visited the White House. Then, as a gift to Brown, our president gave him a DVD set of classic American movies. Wow. Never mind that Brown's gifts (notice I wrote gifts) included "an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet," according to one report, as well as gifts for the Obama children.

Finally, when the Obamas visited the Queen of England last week, his gift was (drum roll)...an iPod.

A $199 iPod.

For the Queen of England.

Oh, and our president was kind enough to fill the iPod with recordings of (another drum roll, please)...his speeches.

I bet that just thrilled the Queen.

Now, when she goes on her jog (she looks like a jogging enthusiast, don't you think?), she can get all pumped up and inspired by listening to President Obama's speeches on her new iPod.

Those have to be more inspiring than the theme to Rocky, don't you think?

***

I should clarify that, besides the corn dog article, my Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre and Museum column was also an April Fools joke.

I think it's safe to say that practically no one took my corn dog prank seriously. However, I've had more than a few folks ask if Burt Reynolds really was opening a dinner theatre and museum. There were even some folks halfway excited at the news.

Sad to say, though, it was all an April Fools column. I've never met Burt -- although I was at the Evening Shade press function I mentioned in the piece. And, I hate to say it, but Burt was sort of a snobby weenie at that particular event. Maybe he was in a bad mood.

Now, this is not to say I'm not a fan of Burt. I grew up on Burt's movies and Johnny Carson appearances. He's made some incredibly horrible movies, but he's also made some memorable flicks, as well: Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Sharkey's Machine (an underrated little thriller), Starting Over and Boogie Nights. And his two Gator McCluskey flicks -- White Lightning and Gator -- are guilty fun with superb bad guy performances from Ned Beatty and Jerry Reed, respectively.

So, while I would certainly frequent the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre and Museum were it actually opening in Evening Shade next April 1, I hate to say it was only a figment of my imagination.

Just like Batesville being the Corn Dog Capital of the World.

Oh, and on a related note: I have plenty of corn dogs down here at the office if you're hungry for one.

They come compliments of S & S Liquidations.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
April 1, 2009

It's rare that I utilize my column to break news, but a friend of mine called me the other day and asked if I was interested in spilling the beans on something new and exciting coming to the area.

Knowing who this particular person was and the effect his announcement would have on the area, I gladly agreed to be the outlet to first report this important story.

But first, some history...

I initially got to know actor Burt Reynolds when I met him at a press function at the Evening Shade High School in 1990. The box-office superstar was in the little Arkansas community to speak at the school's graduation as well as to promote his new television series which took place in a little Arkansas community of the same name: Evening Shade.

We immediately hit it off that night when Reynolds favorably commented on my Members Only jacket I had worn to the event. He then went into a long and detailed story about how he wore a Members Only jacket on his first date with his then-wife, Loni Anderson of WKRP in Cincinnati fame. We ended up exchanging phone numbers and addresses (this was before the era of e-mail), and he eventually hopped a plane to Little Rock.

Thinking that he would forget about our little conversation that night, I was surprised to get a phone call from the actor the next week.

"Roberto," he said on the other end of the line. "Burt."

And thus, a long friendship began. I've been Burt's guest about once or twice a year in California and also on the sets of a couple of his films. And he's visited Batesville about three times since 1990. Only family and close friends know of our friendship because I'm definitely not a namedropper; I'm not the kind of guy who says, "Well, my good friend, BURT REYNOLDS told me the other day in Beverly Hills..."

That's just not my style.

So when Burt called me last week and asked me to make his big announcement, I thought I should explain our treasured and much appreciated friendship.

And without further ado, here's the big news:

This summer ground will be broken for the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre and Museum in Evening Shade.

"Roberto," he told me over the phone last Tuesday, "I fell in love with Arkansas when I first visited to film my classic 1974 film, White Lightning. I visited the state almost every year since, and when the television series, Evening Shade, was first proposed, I insisted the original setting of Missouri be changed to Arkansas. I have a special feel for the Land of Opportunity, and in my later years, I want to give something back to the state."

Reynolds and a group of investors have purchased a large section of land off Highway 167 and they are planning a state of the art facility as well as five-star cuisine and productions with some of Hollywood's major stars.

"We've already planned our first play," Reynolds told me. "It'll be The Odd Couple with my good friend, Dom DeLuise as Felix, and I'll be Oscar. Some other friends of mine will be playing Oscar's poker buddies, uh...folks like Jim Nabors, Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis. And, my best pal, Hal Needham, will be directing. Might even add some stunts or something in the play. Hal likes stunts. Maybe I'll throw Mel through a window or something."

The museum wing of the facility will also be an exciting destination for Reynolds fans and movie buffs worldwide.

"Oh, yeah, it's gonna be first rate," he said. "I've got all types of memorabilia in storage now that will eventually be housed in the museum. I can tell you we'll have the Bandit's Trans-Am on display. Dom's Captain Chaos costume from the Cannonball Run films will be there. I'll have my football uniform from The Longest Yard. We'll have a mini theatre that will show nothing but some really wacky outtakes from all of my films. Oh, and we'll have Beatty's tighty whities from Deliverance on display."

Reynolds' trademark good 'ole boy guffaw followed.

"I was, uh, just foolin' you there on that last one, Roberto."

Reynolds will be flying to Little Rock next week for a press conference with Gov. Mike Bebee to officially announce the plans.

"I think it's fantastic Burt will not only be bringing live theatre to Evening Shade, but also his wonderful memorabilia collection for the museum," Gov. Bebee told me. "With Batesville recently being proclaimed Corn Dog Capital of the World, and now the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre and Museum coming, that part of Arkansas will definitely be a travel destination for visitors from all over the world."

The tentative opening date for the facility in Evening Shade is exactly one year from today: April 1.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

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