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August 2008

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
August 27, 2008

Odds and ends this week...

Most Arkansas residents are familiar with Kim Hanke, the vinyl siding magnate extraordinaire of Hanke Brothers Siding. Now, I've always been suspicious of Mr. Hanke simply because we've never seen the other Hanke brother. Does Kim have him hidden in a trunk somewhere near Magic Springs? Where is he? Every Hanke brother commercial features Kim and his folksy smiling self, but never the other brother -- or brothers, if there are any, for that matter.

But now we do know that Kim Hanke has a son, and apparently, the junior ain't gonna be in the siding business.

Christopher J. Hanke is an actor in New York City, and he's making a name of himself as the lead in the current revival of the hippie musical, Hair. He's also appeared in the Broadway productions of Rent and Cry-Baby.

So, there may be some missing Hanke brothers, but Kim's son is alive and well making a name for himself on the Great White Way.

There's also another Arkie -- from Batesville, in fact -- making a name for herself in N.Y.C. Rebecca Anderson will be appearing on All My Children for a few episodes. You can read all about this local gal on the cover of this week's Arkansas Weekly.

Of course, as many of you know, I am a show business veteran. I ventured to Hollywood back in the mid-`80s and starred in many classic films. Let's see, there was my groundbreaking performance as a Jim, the unstable fictional character who stalked Michael Bolton in the movie, You AREN'T Supposed to Live Without Me, Michael. I know everyone remembers my role as Zack, the small town sheriff/solo interpretative dancer who battles mutant possums in Possum and Possum 2. There was also Biff the buff lifeguard in the erotic masterpiece, Tan Lines. And how could we forget my Oscar-nominated performance as Edgar Winter in the story of his life entitled Chalk Rocker?

In 1991, though, I decided to leave it all. My romance with Bea Arthur went south, and I grew weary of all the red carpets, limos and massive amounts of money. Plus, it didn't help that I was also addicted to snorting the cream out of Twinkies. (Yes, I was a Twinker...I'm not proud of it.) I craved simplicity and the good life of a small town America. So, I turned my back on it all.

So, best of luck to Hanke and Anderson. Break a leg. And stay away from the Twinkies cream.

***

Other stuff...

And, I'm being serious here.

Who would have thought that one of the best albums released this year would be from...Glen Campbell?

Meet Glen Campbell hit stores last week, and it's an interesting collection of covers from some of today's great rock artists. Songs from Tom Petty, U2, The Replacements, Jackson Brown, the Foo Fighters (!), Green Day (!!), and even Lou Reed (!!!) get the Campbell treatment.

Unlike the spare arrangements utilized in the brilliant late-career albums of Johnny Cash (where that former and fellow Arkansan also reinterpreted many rock songs), the songs on Meet Glen Campbell are full-blown, vintage Campbell: strings, horns and angelic choruses on some songs. Don't let that put you off, though. He reinvents these tunes, highlighting other strengths and qualities of the songs not readily apparent in the original versions.

It's great stuff and highly recommended.

And, really, you haven't lived until you've heard Glen Campbell cover the Foo Fighters.

Rob 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
August 20, 2008

Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins, right?

Actually, the only way I can remember it's one of the seven deadly sins is because of the serial killer flick, Seven. Didn't Kevin Spacey eradicate one of the unfortunate victims in that movie because of her obsession over her looks?

I think so.

Well, thankfully Kevin Spacey's John Doe murderer is fiction because, let's face it, I'm vain.

Vain. Vain. Vain.

Sure, admitting such a thing is like admitting I have hemorrhoids: It's an unappealing aspect of myself that's best kept secret. Not that I have hemorrhoids, by the way, but I AM vain.

If I pass a reflection of myself, I'm checking ME out. It's like a reflex. And if my hair doesn't look right or, say, my shirt is accentuating my belly when I see myself in that reflection, then I'll stop in my tracks and fix the particular problem. I could be walking down the street, talking with my minister about the state of my soul, and if I came across an offending reflection of myself, the conversation and my steps on the sidewalk would come to a halt until I fixed the situation.

Sad.

And the thing is, I certainly do not consider myself an attractive guy. My hair is prematurely white. I feel like my face is puffy. And, my eyes seem mismatched. I look like the illegitimate spawn of the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls and Connie Chung...with a little bit of late-era Elvis thrown in for good measure.

I have no reason for my ridiculous vanity.

Yet it persists. In fact, the other day I stepped outside the office for a break. The sun was bright, so I slipped on my $7.99 sunglasses from Wal-Mart, and I decided to call a friend on my cell phone while I took in some fresh air.

As I waited for my friend to answer, I noticed the Harrison Street traffic backing up from the stoplight just past our office. Lots of passengers and drivers were looking my way while they waited for the light to change.

Heh, I thought to myself, I must look cool chatting on my cell with my $7.99 Wal-Mart shades. I mean, why else would all these folks be checking my bad self out, right?

So, I stayed on the phone for about 10 minutes, then thought it'd be best if I got back to my desk. Walking inside the office, my office manager stopped me with a puzzled look.

"Do you have a black eye or something?" she asked.

"Uhhh, no," I said as I tried not to be a smart aleck. "It's sunny. I usually wear sunglasses when it's sunny."

"Well," she said, "do you usually wear sunglasses with one lens?"

Blood suddenly flushed my cheeks. I slowly took off my sunglasses. The left lens was gone. I had been outside wearing sunglasses with one lens completely gone, thinking the entire time I was looking like God's gift to hip. Instead, I was looking like Edgar Winter's one-eyed brother.

The moral? Vanity is a fool's pursuit.

Oh, and when it comes to $7.99 sunglasses at Wal-Mart...you get what you pay for.

Rob 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
August 13, 2008

Later this month, I'll be in St. Louis seeing another Bruce Springsteen concert. (I've only seen him about 347 times.) But it got me to thinking of my concert adventures and misadventures throughout the years.

I'm somewhat fortunate in the fact that my very first concert happened to be Elvis Presley. My father was as much of a fanatic for The King as I am now for The Boss, so if EP was ever TCB* in the South -- whether it be in Memphis, Dallas, Little Rock, Houston or St. Louis, Dad was always taking the family to see Tupelo's most famous son. Bragging to most rock aficionados that your first concert was Elvis has always been a selfish and conceited thrill.

Unfortunately, my first genuine concert experience, one without any parent, was...gulp...Shaun Cassidy. Now, I must confess: I was simply invited to see Shaun Cassidy perform at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock when I was a pre-teen. It wasn't like I was going to go out of my way to see Shaun bloody Cassidy. Squealing teeny-bop girls made up most of his target audience, and with me being an 11-year-old Aerosmith fan at the time, I obviously didn't fit his main demographic. Like I said, I was invited. But here's the deal: I could have turned down the invitation, but I didn't. And I'll forever be scarred by being about the only boy in Barton Coliseum watching Shaun bloody Cassidy dance for the little girls in his satin jacket and Dorothy Hamill haircut.

My next concert was Ted Nugent in Barton, and because Mr. Nugent performed much of the night clad only in a loincloth, that show was just as disturbing for a now-12-year-old concert veteran.

Yet, I'm convinced the most embarrassing concert I've ever attended was the Mr. Roboto show by the `70s cheese rockers, Styx. This was in the early `80s, and Styx had topped the charts with a ridiculous "rock opera" about robots taking over the world, imprisoning rock stars, or some nonsense like that. The "hero" of the album was a robot, personified by Dennis DeYoung -- the power ballad-loving Velveeta slug who eventually split from the band after this particular tour. The thing was that particular concert, at the time, was a huge deal for my group of buddies and me. The band's sold out appearance in Little Rock made MTV News because a bunch of Arkansas Styx fans actually petitioned the group to bring the Mr. Roboto tour to the city. Having tickets to the show was like a badge of honor for rock geeks like my pals and me.

But when the concert started, and DeYoung was dancing around in a robot suit, it didn't take long to realize that a) we were watching a grown man dance around in a robot suit, b) the grown man in the robot suit (that'd be DeYoung) was taking this rock opera thing very seriously, and c) we actually paid money to see a grown man dance around in a robot suit thinking this would be a great rock concert.

I also got the feeling that the other members of Styx were sort of embarrassed by their band mate dancing around in a robot suit. Needless to say, the Mr. Roboto tour happened to be the beginning of the end of Styx, as well as the beginning of the end of my appreciation of that particular band.

***

That said, I've seen countless other fantastic concerts. I don't need to mention that any Springsteen show is like a rock and roll tent revival, full of insane energy and life-affirming performances. The Rolling Stones and U2 obviously provide terrific shows. I've seen Tom Petty twice, and he can deliver some kick-butt burning down the barnhouse rock. And, one of the absolute best shows I've seen in the past two years was Ryan (not Bryan!) Adams & the Cardinals at the Germantown Center for the Performing Arts in Memphis.

My daughter, who's been raised on the Disney Channel, is now a concert veteran seeing Hillary Duff, Hannah Montana and, the Shaun Cassidys of 2008, The Jonas Brothers a few times. And, I'm afraid our son has discovered the music of heavy metal dean Ozzy Osbourne and has gone so far as to learn Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" on his guitar.

Ozzy really isn't my cup of tea.

But at least it ain't Shaun Cassidy.

***

*TCB -- Takin' Care of Business: The King's motto.

Rob 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
August 6, 2008

Suffering with an extreme case of writer's block, I went back in the archives this week and found this column from December 7, 2005. I've made a few edits and changes. -- RG.

Yes, boys and girls -- it's time for yet another Top Ten (or so) List. This time, however, I'm going to do it a tad differently. At the end of each year, Top Ten lists dominate the media. Top Ten Movies of 2005. Top Ten Books of 2005. Top Ten News Stories of 2005. Top Ten...on and on and on.

So, in the spirit of such nonsensical and completely needless lists, I've put together a bunch of miscellaneous Top Ten (or so) things I ponder when I'm bored, stuck at the stoplight, or trying to fall asleep...

My Top Ten Favorite Meals From Arkansas Restaurants Outside Our Area. 1. The Spanish omelet from Herman's Rib House in Fayetteville. 2. The pepperoni pizza from Bruno's Little Italy in Little Rock. 3. The garlic chicken from Herman's. 4. The ravioli and spaghetti from the Venetian Inn in Tonitown. 5. Waffles with hash browns and grilled onions from Waffle House. 6. The steamed Peking Dumplings from P.F. Chang's in Little Rock. 7. The spaghetti and fried chicken from Mary Maestri's in Tonitown. 8. The lemon pepper fried chicken from AQ Chicken House in Fayetteville. 9. Sushi from Shogun restaurant in Fayetteville. And, 10. Baked ham and yams from Franke's Cafeteria in Little Rock.

My Top Twelve Favorite Songs That Johnny Cash Has Recorded. 1. Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" 2. "Folsom Prison Blues" 3. "Ring of Fire" 4. the gospel standard "In the Garden" 5. "I Walk the Line" 6. U2's "The Wanderer" 7. Bruce Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman" 8. "Jackson" 9. Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" 10. Sting's "I Hung My Head" 11. Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me, Lord?" and 12. Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman."

The Top Four Things That Frustrate Me Any Given Day. 1. Driving on Harrison Street in Batesville. 2. Flossing. 3. The inexplicable media coverage still given to Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson. And, 4. Knowing that just about every single meal on my first list will clog a major artery going to my ticker.

My Top Five Most Frustrating Things (Seriously). 1. Any type of mistreatment toward children. 2. The poverty and corruption that reigns supreme in many third world countries. 3. The mega-rich who don't give back at least a small portion of their wealth for the betterment of this world. 4. Gas prices and our world's reliance on nonrenewable resources. And, 5. Terrorism.

My Top Five Excuses for Not Going Jogging Today. 1. The potential for a deadly possum attack. 2. The ongoing problem of women pulling their vehicle over, jumping out, and tackling me in a fit of unrestrained passion! 3. All of my Speedo jogging shorts are in the dirty clothes basket. 4. The possibility my soap-white legs would blind a driver coming my way. 5. One word: gout.

The Top Five Celebrities I Most Resemble. 1. Sting. 2. Brad Pitt. 3. A young Robert Redford. 4. Richard Gere. 5. Did I mention Brad Pitt?

The Top Five Celebrities I Really Resemble. 1. Edgar Winter. 2. The guy from A Flock of Seagulls. 3. Johnny Winter. 4. Christoper Walken 5. Bea Arthur.

The Top Six Mullets of All Time. 1. Dog from Dog the Bounty Hunter. 2. Billy Ray Cyrus circa "Achy Breaky Heart." 3. Daryl Hall circa "Private Eyes." 4. Steve Perry from Journey circa "Open Arms." 5. John Stamos circa Full House. 6. The mullet of the girl who used to pick on me in high school. She always had a dip in her mouth and could've been mistaken for Brian Bosworth. Man...she used to throw me against the wall every morning and make me hand over my lunch money! I hated that Neanderthal! But, I gotta admit: she had a mullet Billy Ray would've killed for.

Top Four Things I Would Do If Had Mystical Powers. 1. Have dinner every Thursday night with James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Yogi Berra, Robert Duvall, Larry King, Junior Samples from Hee-Haw, Jesse Jackson, Slim Pickens, Richard Pryor, Raquel Welch, Tommy Lee Jones, Dean Martin, Judge Joe Brown, Bill Murray, Al Pacino, David Letterman and Tea Leoni. These dinners would be held at my house with me at the head of the table. The sole purpose of these meals would be the lively and stimulating conversation that would undoubtedly occur, as well as a chance to have Ms. Leoni and Ms. Welch sit to my right and my left, respectfully. 3. Three words: President Pamela Anderson. 4. Four words: First Man Rob Grace.

Rob 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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