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January 2010

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
January 27, 2010

A recent column by T. Blanston, Jr. that was written in my absence caused quite a stir with readers throughout the area.

Blanston wrote in the December 16, 2009 issue of Arkansas Weekly that he would be leading a campaign to outlaw deer hunting, as well as leading the charge to seize all hunting rifles from hunters who refuse to surrender them.

Since publication of that particular column, Arkansas Weekly has received over 95 letters, over 300 e-mails and over 50 phone calls from readers angry with Mr. Blanston's proposals. There were also reports of pick-up trucks filled with rifle-carrying hunters driving around Greers Ferry Lake looking for Mr. Blanston's "Rancho Paradiso" residence. And, in Thida, a group of very angry deer hunters burned Mr. Blanston in effigy.

Being a longtime friend of T., I thought I would call him and seek out his thoughts on the controversy his column has generated.

ME: T., based on the overwhelmingly negative feedback your anti-deer hunting campaign has generated, do you regret opening this can of worms, so to speak?

BLANSTON: Actually, no. I'm pleased I've brought attention to such a vicious and depraved past-time. I'm not necessarily saying that hunters, per se, are vicious and depraved, but the act of slaughtering and eating such a peaceful animal is vicious and depraved.

ME: Well, one could utilize those arguments for all types of hunting -- even fishing. By the way, I'm assuming you are a vegetarian?

BLANSTON: Me? Oh no, no. I love beef, pork, fish, chicken -- love it! In fact, I'm digging into a bloody rare rib-eye as we speak.

ME: Well, isn't that hypocritical? I mean, that cow was killed and butchered.

BLANSTON: Yes, but you're missing the difference: cows are stupid and ugly. And pigs love to roll around in their own feces. Plus fish and chicken have brains the size of peas, so they don't know what's going on. Deer, on the other hand, are magnificent, majestic animals -- undeserving of the brutal and senseless deaths their hunters bring on their day of reckoning. And deer are intelligent creatures. I would wager that with proper training a deer could learn how to play poker. Somewhat like the dogs that play poker.

ME: Uh, excuse me?

BLANSTON: The dogs that play poker. You've seen that picture haven't you?

ME: T., that's a humorous painting. Dogs can't play poker.

BLANSTON (laughing): Right. I suppose the next thing you're going to tell me is that chipmunks can't sing.

ME: T., are you talking about those Alvin & the Chipmunks movies?

BLANSTON: Yes! Those are fascinating documentaries, aren't they? I can't wait to see those cute little fellas in concert. I have all their CDs. And let me tell you something Roberto, if there was such a thing as chipmunk season, I'd be just as angry over that as well.

ME: T., have you been drinking?

BLANSTON: Roberto, I will admit I was surprised there were so many letters and e-mails over my deer hunting column.

ME: Uh, why is that?

BLANSTON: Well, I was shocked so many of them could read, let alone write or own a computer.

ME: T., that's very insulting! Some of my best friends are hunters! You'll find, if you care to, that ninety-nine-point-nine percent of hunters are intelligent and articulate individuals.

BLANSTON: Oh, really? I bet if I asked the average hunter if they read the New York Times on a daily basis most of them would look at me with a dead-eyed stare, all slack-jawed with drool dripping down their chin.

ME: Oh, please! When did reading the New York Times become a prerequisite for intelligence? That's a ridiculous thing to say.

BLANSTON: You know what? Wait -- hang on...I'll take another Stoli and tonic, please.

ME: See! You have been drinking!

BLANSTON: Where was I? I would also wager that most deer hunters have never watched Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. I would wager that the majority of them have never watched Al Gore's brilliant documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I would even wager most of them have never even listened to Lady Gaga. Instead, I would wager that most of them sit around and listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch wrestling and listen to Kenny Chesney.

ME: I can't believe my ears. What does all of that nonsense have to do with deer hunting? A lot of my friends like Kenny Chesney! And I've never seen An Inconvenient Truth!

BLANSTON: What kind of American are you? You've never seen An Inconvenient Truth? Well, you're going to hell. Wait -- hang on, Roberto...Waiter, bring me a Jagerbomb with my Stoli.

ME: T., I'm hanging up. You're drunk.

BLANSTON: Roberto! If you were a female chipmunk, and you had a chance to date one of the singing chipmunks, would you date Alvin, Simon or Theodore?

ME: I'm hanging up.

BLANSTON: If I were a female chipmunk, I'd choose Theodore. He's so...innocent. I love innocent chimpmunks.

ME: You had it right the first time. It's "chipmunks."

BLANSTON: Your what hurts?

ME: Goodbye, T.

BLANSTON: Wait! Roberto! Roberto! I would wager that most chimpmunks have seen An Inconvenient Truth and believe in the gospel of Brother Al. Hallelujah! We're all going to drown in melted Jagerbombs! I mean, glaciers! Melted glaciers! Save the chimpmunks! Save the chimpmunks from the melted Jagerbombs!

ME: Goodbye, T.

BLANSTON: Hey, Roberto...Ask me if I'm wearing any pants.

(It was at this moment I ended the conversation.)

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
January 20, 2010

It's been a while since I've had a physical.

Putting off my checkup is the result of procrastination, worry that a long needle will be involved in some fashion, and an extreme reluctance to experience a probable prostate examination.

I'm at that age, you know.

I'm also at the age where I'm experiencing some odd aches and pains, as well as other new ailments that I, unfortunately, feel I'll have to bring up to my doctor.

For instance, I've been having a severe ache in my left shoulder and upper arm. I'm wondering if it's a rotator cuff issue, or worse, an indication of some heart problems.

I mean, don't get me wrong: If I have a serious problem, I obviously have to take the appropriate action my doctor recommends.

I just dread the likely use of needles.

And the shoulder problem is just one issue. I have plenty of others that I feel will need attention.

My fingers sometimes stiffen and ache, particularly in the morning. Arthritis? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Or could it be the result of neglecting to tend to my hand after I slammed it in my car door a few months ago? I think I should have had it x-rayed -- particularly after it turned black, swelled to the size of Mickey Mouse's glove and three fingernails fell off.

And here's something odd: What does it mean if your ear wax is dark green, fuzzy and actually crawls off the Q-Tip? That might be an issue.

I need to ask if there would be a reason why, without any nausea, I spontaneously throw up when I come across Nancy Grace's nostrils on Headline News. (And, of course, by Nancy Grace, I mean the television host, not my mom -- who has beautiful nostrils.)

I've got to do something about my toenails. I really have to start clipping them on a regular basis. They've curled upward so much, I'm having to wear sandals. They also seem to scare small children and, well, everyone else.

There's a constant sharp pain in my right ear, and many times I also have bleeding in that particular area. However, when I remove the ice pick, the pain and bleeding stop. That's odd, isn't it?

I'm losing hair under my right armpit, but I'm growing thick patches of hair under the curly nails of my big toes.

When I sleep, I usually have to go to the bathroom -- 37 times.

I sometimes dress as Bozo, then go to the bank and ask for a loan to build a fleet of Monster Trucks fueled entirely by mayonnaise. Perhaps there is a pill that will stop me from doing this because it's hell to stuff my feet and toenails into those clown shoes.

Oh -- I also probably need some antibiotics of some type. Rascal, my pet opossum, bit my right pinky the other day, and the finger now has the color and texture of a Slim Jim.

I'm not mad at Rascal, by the way. He simply got a little rambunctious when I tried to dress him in his Batman costume.

Finally, I've recently noticed that when I go outside during daylight, my skin burns. I know my pigmentation is extremely sensitive, but it's started to become ridiculous. So, now I mainly sleep during the day and work all night.

I've also noticed an extreme allergic reaction to garlic. In fact, my diet now simply consists of extremely rare and bloody steak, and I'm getting tired of that. I'm craving something else that I can't exactly pinpoint. It's driving me batty.

And, I know this question probably needs to be answered by my dentist, but why in the world would I now have a set of fangs?

Crazy, huh?

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
January 13, 2010

So I was drivin' this propane tanker transport up Ramsey Mountain the other day, and before ya know it...

Kidding.

***

As I write this column, it's about, oh...56 below zero outside.

I'm exaggerating just a tad, but holy moly, it's friggin' cold! I mean, my nose hairs froze today while I walked to my car.

If I were a cow, I'd be highly irritated at this weather.

***

Those of you who know me know that I'm very basic when it comes to my wardrobe: Sweaters in the winter, t-shirts in the summer, and jeans and work boots year-round. I keep it simple so I don't have worry about what to wear in the morning.

However, all of that has changed.

Visualize, if you will, my all-new look: a fur-lined fedora hat; high, thick-heeled zip-up boots; a rhinestone studded jumpsuit and cape; and, of course, a cane with rhinestones embedded at the top.

Oh, and I've colored my hair and eyebrows jet black.

I started to go to the tanning salon, but the women there noted that with my skin tone, I would need at least 457 sessions just to get cream colored.

That withstanding, I still look delicious with my new wardrobe.

And I've decided to change my name from Rob Grace to The Breakdown.

You know -- like The Situation on the MTV series, Jersey Shore. See, I'm The Breakdown because I can break it down. I can break down any situation. I can break down any lady. And obviously, I can break it down on the dance floor.

The Breakdown, got it?

And I now refer to myself in the third person.

So, The Breakdown went cruising the town the other night with his new look.

The Breakdown cruised through Sonic, nodded to the ladies.

The Breakdown cruised through the convenience store parking lot, nodded to the ladies.

The Breakdown cruised through the convenience store car wash, nodded to his reflection in the rearview mirror.

All eyes, needless to say, were on The Breakdown.

The Breakdown then went to Thida. The Breakdown thought he would hang at the local convenience store parking lot, maybe sit on the hood of The Breakdown's restored AMC Pacer and rap with the locals also hanging at the lot.

The Breakdown did just that.

The locals seemed a little perplexed. Some seemed disgusted at The Breakdown's outfit.

The last thing The Breakdown remembers is asking one of the locals if The Breakdown's jumpsuit accentuated The Breakdown's rear end.

The Breakdown is now in room 9836 at the local medical center.

The doctor successfully reattached The Breakdown's nose this morning.

However, The Breakdown is still missing his ear.

The Breakdown believes it's still somewhere in Thida.

Along with most of The Breakdown's teeth.

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
January 6, 2010

Elvis Presley would have been 75 years old this week.

It's always tempting to consider what The King of Rock would be like if he were still here today, if he hadn't gorged himself to death on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches as well as numerous pharmaceutical cocktails.

I'd like to think, at some point, he would've come to his senses and kicked the pill-popping habit. I would hope the resulting clarity would have struck him like a lightning bolt, and he would have realized just how much of a self-parody he had become.

Now possessing a wisdom that had been smothered by the thick haze of drugs, the first thing Elvis would do in my fantasy would be to fire his shyster manager, Col. Tom Parker. Then, The King would've planted a lawsuit demanding back his swindled millions so far up Parker's wide-load butt that it would've knocked the colonel's ever-present cigar out of his slobbering fat mouth.

Clear-headed and newly freed from the grip of Parker, Elvis would then call his recently-alienated best buddy, Red West, reconcile, and head to the gym with him for fierce Kung-Fu workouts that would put the King back into his 1968 comeback special weight. He'd burn his sequined jumpsuits and slip back into that black leather outfit he wore during the special's loose jam session with his old band mates. (Damn! That look was cool.)

Now, of course, Elvis would have to completely revert back to his musical roots and immediately stop recording those boring lazy albums that dominated his final years. The first person he'd call? Yep, you guessed it: Bruce Springsteen. I mean, after all, The Boss was the dude that all the 1970s-era rock critics correctly predicted would be the King's natural successor. Plus, Springsteen was once busted for trying to sneak into Graceland for an impromptu summit with Elvis.

Talk about a natural fit.

I can see Springsteen writing a glorious batch of songs fit for The King, getting most of his original band back in the studio, and recording a stripped down, kick-butt rock album that would have catapulted Elvis back into the graces of music fans as well as introduced his talents to an entirely new generation.

(Trivia note: The popular Pointer Sisters song, "Fire," was a Springsteen composition written specifically by The Boss for Elvis. In his role as "Gatekeeper to The King," Wide-Load Butt likely vetoed its possible recording by Elvis. That's my theory, anyway.)

With his iconic status now re-affirmed, I could see Elvis recording a bunch of acclaimed albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He might have produced a few interesting collections: a Gospel album, an album full of re-recordings of his classic rockabilly songs, and perhaps an album of duets. Think about that for a second: Elvis teaming up with other legends of the time. I love the idea of Elvis singing with Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, John Lennon (obviously before 1980), and of course, Springsteen.

Elvis might have made another stab at movies. However, this time he would have refused to star in any dumb flick where he plays something like a singing tennis pro fighting off a bunch of women or a singing NASCAR driver fighting off a bunch of women. I prefer to think he would have tried his hand at serious acting, working with Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep or other big stars of the day.

(OK, wait -- I admit it: The thought of Elvis credibly sharing the screen with De Niro or Streep is borderline silly. Maybe he could have teamed up with Burt Reynolds on some buddy movies instead.)

At the arrival of the millennium, The King would still have been cranking out classic albums. In fact, he might have followed the lead of his contemporary, Johnny Cash, and collaborated with producer Rick Rubin, recording vibrant albums where his talents would be matched with younger stars who respected and honored The King's legacy -- folks like Bono, Alison Krauss, Kings of Leon, U2, Pearl Jam, etc.

But, of course, all of this thought is in vain. Elvis will be forever 42, and his last years will always be full of neglected promise. The Hawaii concert should be how we remember his final bow, not the later shows and albums performed by an increasingly lethargic and out of touch man, seemingly exhausted -- or bored -- with his legend.

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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