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December 2008

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008.

It goes without saying that as one gets older time zooms by, and 2008 has been the first year I can remember where a year ago literally seems like a month ago.

I was in the Arizona desert a year ago today, and the memory and details are still vivid, crisp. I saw Springsteen in August, and it seems like last month. Thanksgiving seems like last week.

Zoom. The tick tocking has hit turbo speed in my middle age, and I can't kick it into a lower gear. Such is life.

I'm ready for 2009. This year has been nuts, to say the least. Goodbye to high gas prices (for now). Goodbye to Obama vs. McCain. Goodbye to a yucky economy. And, I hope, goodbye to some horrible habits I've picked up in the past year.

My eating habits have gone to hell. I've been stuffing so many burgers and fried foods into my expanding belly that I'm afraid my cholesterol is probably somewhere in the 4,000 range. I haven't jogged or taken a good walk since the beginning of this year, so I'm slowly morphing into the Marshmallow Giant from Ghostbusters. And, I haven't been to a dentist since 2007. (No...that's not deviled egg stuck to my teeth; I just haven't had them cleaned in a while.)

There are some other ridiculous bad routines from which I would love to wriggle myself free, but I won't get into them here. New Year's resolutions and the failure to keep them have become cliche. The best thing I can do is take one day at a time (speaking of cliches), and try to be a good man to others as well as myself.

The Devil is in the details, however. Literally.

***

By the time you read this, I'll be home from New York City. This Christmas, our entire family -- mom, dad, brother, sisters, wives, sons, daughters, etc. -- decided to forgo gifts and head to Manhattan for a few days.

Our kids are seeing Grease on Broadway, which -- God bless 'em -- I hope they enjoy. Being the irritating elitist cultural snob I am, I'd rather pull my fingernails off than sit through "Look at Me (I'm Sandra Dee)." I plan on catching a lot of movies I can't see yet in Arkansas (Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino and Mickey Rourke's comeback, The Wrestler), and again, being the irritating elitist cultural snob I am, I'll be seeing a four-and-a-half hour subtitled film about the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara (called, unsurprisingly, Che) starring Benicio Del Toro.

I know the kids and I are going to be consuming some NYC hot dogs from a sidewalk vendor. (There's nothing like the smell of a hot dog stand in NYC...yuuummm.) And, I'll probably continue to abuse my body by overeating at some Big Apple restaurant. But, maybe I can get some much needed exercise by shunning the cabs and subway and simply walking to my destinations.

Who knows? I'll give you a report next week.

***

Esquire magazine is reporting that our new president might take a page out of Franklin Roosevelt's handbook and increase some much needed governmental income by legalizing marijuana. When FDR repealed prohibition, according to the article, one brewer alone had hired over 600 employees and generated $10 million in taxes in just two days. And one study from a Harvard economist states that legalizing pot would generate between $10 billion and $14 billion in savings and taxes.

But before all you Cheeches and Chongs take out your bongs to celebrate, Esquire notes that decriminalizing marijuana is still a long shot in the Obama administration. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is against it, and Vice President-elect Biden has taken a hard line on drugs during his days as a U.S. Senator.

As for me, I'd rather smoke a big fat Cuban cigar legally. That'd be the smoking ban I'd like to see lifted.

But smoking anything is a nasty habit, and if I'm going to make an effort to rid my life of some negative routines, a stop to polluting my lungs would be a place to start.

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
December 24, 2008

Twas the night before Christmas, and Mrs. Claus was not happy.

"What do you mean you can't find him?" she yelled into her iPhone. "He's supposed to leave in two hours, and you can't find him?"

"Uh...Mrs. Claus," the head elf stammered, "we're at a loss. We've tried his cell, but it just goes straight to his voice mail. The reindeer are hooked up, the sled is full, but no one at the workshop has seen Mr. Claus since he left for lunch."

"Lunch? I packed his lunch! He never goes out for lunch the day before Christmas!"

"Oh," the elf said, "well, the Easter Bunny dropped by the workshop around noon, and they left in the Easter Bunny's Porsche. They said they were heading to the Olive Garden. Haven't seen him since."

With a huff, Mrs. Claus ended the call from the head elf, scrolled her iPhone's contact list and tapped on the Easter Bunny's number.

After a couple of rings, the Easter Bunny answered.

"Hel-l-l-l-l-l-lo," the Easter Bunny slurred.

"Super Freak" by Rick James blared in the background along with the sound of men hooting and hollering.

"Easter Bunny!" Mrs. Claus yelled. "Put Santa on the phone right now!"

"Oh, uh..." the Easter Bunny sputtered. Mrs. Claus heard the scratchy noise of the Easter Bunny's receiver being covered. Through the muffled sound, she thought she heard Santa say, "Oh, no." Mrs. Claus was not happy.

The Easter Bunny came back on the line.

"Uhh...," he said. "Santa's not, uh, here with me currently." He hiccupped.

The cheeks of Mrs. Claus flooded red.

"Now, you listen to me, Bunny. You put that fat tub of guts on the phone right now or else I'll be serving some rabbit stew to the elves this time tomorrow night! I know the two of you are at some club, and I want him home NOW!"

"Oh...uh," the Easter Bunny said. She again heard the sound of his paw covering his phone. Suddenly, she heard Rick James once more, and the sound of the phone being passed to someone.

"Honey," Santa's voice appeared over the noise. "Darling. Uh...did I tell you this morning how, uh, beau...beaut-t-tif-f-ful you looked when I l-l-l-l-left?"

"Don't you try that nonsense with me, buster!" Mrs. Claus yelled into the phone. "You and that no good troublemaker, the Easter Bunny, have been hitting the bottle at some club, haven't you!?! And on Christmas Eve! The most important day of your job!"

"H-h-ho-on-ney," Santa slurred. "L-l-l-lis-sten, I hasn't seen the Easter Bunny s-s-s-since that party at the Tooth Fairy's house, and he was in town, so we j-j-just thoughts that we would take a long lunch. Everything's f-f-fine. I'll be back in t-t-twenty minutes...t-t-tops!"

In the background, Mrs. Claus heard Rick James segue into "Little Red Corvette" by Prince. Then, she heard the Easter Bunny yell: "Amber! Where are you g-go...where are you g-going?"

Mrs. Claus was not happy.

"Amber?!?" she yelled. "Who is Amber, Kris Kringle! Who is Amber?!? You answer me right this instant!!!"

"Whooa," he said. "Hold on, baby. Hold on. Don't get all upsets with Big D-d-d-d-daddy. Amber is some dancer-friend or pal, or something, of the Easter Bunny's. No biggy. Everything's c-c-cool."

"Everything is NOT cool! You get your fat self back to the workshop right now! I'm brewing some coffee to get you sobered up before you leave!"

So, a few minutes later, the Easter Bunny's Porsche pulled in front of Santa's workshop. The passenger door opened, and out fell Santa into the snow. Mrs. Claus, standing on the front porch of the workshop, had her arms folded and a look of extreme anger frozen across her face. When the Easter Bunny saw Mrs. Claus, his eyes grew large and round from fear. He reached across the passenger seat, pushed out some empty Bud Light bottles onto Santa's back and slammed the door shut. And in a flash, his Porsche zoomed off into the winter dusk.

"Yeah!" Mrs. Claus screamed. "You better run! You better get your tail out of here! If I ever see you around here again, you're roasted! Literally!"

All the elves scampered out into the snow, and with a big heave-ho, pushed Santa to his feet, and gently guided him to the workshop. And as Santa passed by his wife on the porch, she slapped him on the back of his head.

"Jerk!" she said.

Yes, boys and girls, Mrs. Claus was not happy that particular Christmas Eve -- especially when, later, Santa couldn't explain the lipstick smudges on his white fur lining. But all of the kids, all over the world, still received all of their presents the next morning.

And the Easter Bunny never visited Santa again.

Oh, and that's a good thing, boys and girls, because if the Easter Bunny ever came back around the North Pole, he would've ended up in the bellies of all the little elves from Santa's workshop.

And then you wouldn't receive your Easter baskets.

So, it all works out in the end.

Which it is -- "The End," I mean.

Merry Christmas!

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
December 17, 2008

Late at night, sitting around a table with friends in a smoky room, ready for bed, but not quite ready, weariness from the long day slowly envelops. And as we each get tired and run out of conversation topics, some loopy talk begins to emerge.

"Hey!" Bubba One says. "You fellas ever seen that new Hulk movie?"

"Huh?" Bubba Two asks. "Hulk? Big green dude? Lou Ferrigno?"

"Nah, man," Bubba One says, shaking his head dismissively. "That dude was on the TV Hulk. This be the new Hulk movie."

Bubba Two shakes his head as does Bubba Three (that'd be yours truly), who is sitting across from Bubba Two.

"Aw...man," Bubba One says. "You guys are missing out on a great movie."

"Yeah," Bubba Two says. "I need to see it."

"Ain't that realistic," I say. Bubbas One and Two both lean back and scoff.

"What you talking about, man?" Bubba Two asks, pointing a finger at me. "Hey! HEY! What are you talking about? Hulk is all business. He's all business!"

"All I'm saying is that when I get mad, I don't turn green and stuff," I tell them.

"Hey," Bubba One says. "Hey. Hey. Slow down, Hot Rod. Hulk got exposed with all that gamma ray s#@%. Hey! Answer this question, Hot Rod. Answer this question."

He pauses. Turning my way, head slightly down, looking to me over his reading glasses.

"You gonna answer my question that I am getting ready to, uh, ask you?"

"Yeah," I say. "Ask it."

"You sure?" He asks again, still peering over his glasses to me.

"Yes. Yes. I'm gonna answer your question."

He turns away.

"OK. OK. Here is my question. Have you...Rob Grace...ever been exposed to gamma rays? Just answer the question. Have you ever been exposed with gamma rays? Simple yes or no."

"I..." I begin.

"Simple yes or no!" Bubba One says. "It's a simple yes or no question. Have you ever been exposed to gamma rays?"

"I..."

"OK," Bubba One interrupts. "I guess he's not gonna answer the question. Simple yes or no, and he can't give me a yes or no. OK. I thought you were a straight dude, gimme a straight answer, but you couldn't do that even though you said you were gonna answer the question. But, I know the answer, anyway, you know? I know for a fact -- for a FACT -- that you, Rob Grace, have never been exposed to gamma rays."

"That's right!" Bubba Two nods in agreement.

"So...you know...you, uh, really Rob, you, uh, really don't know what you're talking about," Bubba One says. "This mofo was all business in this movie. He gets all in Hulk mode, all green and s#@%, big ole muscles all pumped up cause he been exposed to all the gamma rays, and he like, Karate chops this cop car in half!" Bubba One slices the air with a Karate chop similar, I presume, to the manner in which the Hulk did in the movie.

"Then," he continues, "then, check this out. Hulk picks up both halves of the car and slams them together like cymbals with the bad dude's head in between."

"Wow!" Bubba Two says.

"See," I protest. "That just doesn't...I don't know. See that's like Popeye. Popeye eats the can of spinach, and boom! Suddenly his forearms swell all up, and he goes to town on Bluto, and all I know is that when I eat spinach, my forearms have never swelled up like that. Never."

"Popeye was all business on Bluto," Bubba Two says. "All business after he ate that can of spinach."

"You know who else was all business?" Bubba One asks. "The Coyote."

"Coyote on Road Runner?" Bubba Two asks. Bubba One nods. Bubba Two nods back in agreement. "Yeah, bro," he replies. "Coyote on Road Runner. All business."

"Whooah. Whooah," I protest. "Hold on, Hot Rods! Hold on! Coyote on Road Runner never caught the damn Road Runner. Road Runner was a million times smarter than the Coyote. Coyote was always dropping off a cliff, landing in a puff of dust bout a mile down. Road Runner was always all business."

Bubba Two nods, lowers his head and closes his eyes in thought.

"Uhhh, no..." Bubba One says, shaking his head. "No, Rob. I, uh, I don't think that's a factual statement. I don't. Coyote always had that ACME stuff that like, uh, you know, helped him catch the Road Runner."

"No," I say. "That ACME stuff always backfired. Coyote should have been suing ACME. Hey, Hot Rod, answer this question. Give me...you gonna answer the question?"

Bubba One: "Uh...well, if you would give me an opportunity. Are you gonna give me an opportunity? Cause right now I don't see you giving me an opportunity, so, you know, if that's how you roll, that's how you roll...I'd like to answer the question."

Me: "Well, let me ask it first. OK? Can I ask the question? Are you gonna let me ask the question?"

Bubba One acquiesces and nods.

"OK," I say. "Give me one. One! Can you give me one example where the Coyote caught the Road Runner?"

"Ahhh," Bubba One says. "Ahhh...you finished? You gonna let me speak? Cause if you're not done..."

"No," I say. "Spotlight is on you."

"OK," Bubba One says with a nod. "OK. Well, uh, I think...that there's a problem with that particular question. I do. I think that's there's a problem with that particular question. I..uh..."

I raise my hand, stopping him. "Wait," I say, pointing to Bubba Two. "Look."

One looks to Two. Two's head is still down, his arms crossed, and his chest slowly moves up and down, accompanied by a series of snores.

"Oh," Bubba One says. "I, uh, think it's probably time for bed."

"Yep," I say.

Bubba One's answer to my question will have to wait. But I already know the answer. I know for a fact -- for a FACT -- that the Coyote never caught the Road Runner.

Road Runner was all business.

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
December 10, 2008

I need to clear up a few rumors.

First, I am not in contention for any post in President-Elect Obama's cabinet. I realize my name has been peppered about in some Beltway gossip, but I'm happy living in Batesville. Plus anyone with common sense will tell you that I wouldn't be able to work with our presumptive Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, given the fact we once had a torrid love affair in the early 80s.

I will, however, be performing at the Inaugural Ball. Our new president is a fan of my solo interpretive dance routine to various Buck Owens songs, and I know that our future first lady digs how I look in a unitard.

What can I say?

Below is the cover of a recent issue of GQ featuring Olympian Michael Phelps:

There is a rumor floating around that the picture on the above cover is doctored. The gossip is the face of Phelps was superimposed on a picture of my body. This is not true. My body looks much better than his anyway.

However, I have been the victim of photo trickery when my face was inserted in the official document below:

That was when my hair was long and black. Oh, and I wore eyeliner.

Another vicious rumor I'd like to address has to do with my possible role in the divorce of Madonna and her future ex-husband Guy Ritchie. This is a truly despicable piece of gossip that is making the rounds of all the tabloids and other forms of gutter journalism. Yes, I was photographed holding hands with Guy, but it wasn't what you think. He was going on and on about a new moisturizer, and he simply asked me to feel how soft his hands were. That was it -- just two macho heterosexual guys talking moisturizer. Nothing else.

Where was I?

Oh, there is a positive piece of gossip: I did recently complete a stint in the third season of Celebrity Rehab on television's VH1. I'd like to thank Dr. Drew and the rest of my fellow patients -- Gary Coleman, Brigitte Nielsen, Betty White, Montel Williams, Jared from Subway, Tony Orlando, and Dr. Henry Kissinger -- for helping me overcome my addiction to picking my scabs. It's going to be the best season of Celebrity Rehab ever. Watch for it in March of 2009. It will be full of surprises. In fact, as a hint of what's to come, let me just say this: Catfight -- Betty and Brigitte.

You'll love it.

Let's see. What other rumors should I address? Yes, I recently lost a finger. (Note to self: check under sofa cushion.) No, I will not be playing the lead role in the upcoming film Dionne! The Life and Times of Dionne Warwick, though I did do some costume fittings for the producers, and might I say, I looked smashing in one strapless sequined gown.

Yes, I retired from the Ultimate Fighting Championship tour because not only have I developed cauliflower ear, but the fights have also caused me to suffer from potato nose, watermelon forehead and Twinkie lips.

And finally, the recent National Enquirer article connecting me with a supermodel from France is false. But there is some truth to the article in next week's Star magazine connecting me to a goat from Cushman, and that's all I will say about that.

I don't want to bring Bessie any unwanted press attention. Camera flashes scare her.

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. This is all satire, by the way.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
December 3, 2008

Walking out of a store over the weekend, I was met by a gentleman with a smile.

"What are you up to?" he asked, beaming.

"Oh, not much," I replied with another smile.

"How'd you do last night?"

"Last night?" I asked.

"Yeah, man. Last night up there."

"Oh," I said. "Up there. Oh, man. Pretty good. Pretty good. What about you?"

"Oh, you know it. Did good. Did real good." He cackled. "You going back up tonight?"

"Yeah," I said. "I think I will."

"Aw right, man. Cool. We'll run into each other."

"Probably," I said. "I'll see you there."

"Cool," the man said, still smiling. He waved goodbye as he walked in and I walked to my car.

I had never laid eyes on the man in my life. I had no clue who he was.

And the only place I had been the night before was my bed.

***

Well, no doubt the drastic fall in gas prices is welcome relief. Granted, Batesville-area prices are still far higher than those in Jonesboro or Little Rock -- something that still confuses me, but then, as many people will attest: I'm easily confused.

What I'm hoping for is some good economic news with the fall in gas prices. Let's not kid ourselves in thinking that the national and even international economic scene is vibrant and healthy, yet it would seem in the long run that the decrease in fuel costs would offset some of the financial doom and gloom.

Some of the marketing representatives from W.R.D. Entertainment -- the folks who sell the ads you see in this paper and the commercials you hear on our family of radio stations -- indicate that a few retailers are seeing an increase in their business from last year.

Of course, there are also some horror stories out there as well. The national media seems to focus on those negative cases more than the positive, and that's to be expected these days. But there are also reasons for optimism. For example, I'm no Warren Buffet (or even Jimmy Buffet, though I do enjoy an occasional margarita), but if you have some cash, I would think now would be the time for some excellent opportunities in the stock market.

And your business is dealing with some economic blues, for heaven's sake, don't dismiss the extreme importance of marketing your business. As one marketing expert recently put it: "When the economy is weak, your business will only get weaker without marketing. It's a vicious cycle. Out of sight...out of mind, and out of mind can mean out of business.

"If your competition is hiding, right now you (a business owner) can have a larger share of mind. Familiarity breeds preference, and preference leads to long term loyalty."

Or, as one other person noted: "A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time."

Of course, by working for a media company, I have an interest in reminding business owners that advertising is in their best interest. But my belief in marketing your business in troubled times and good times is rooted in my grandfather's business philosophy: "Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise."

I try to live by at least the last two pieces of advice.

The early to bed and rise thing is a tough nut to crack, though.

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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