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July 2009

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
July 29, 2009

Eat This, Not That! is a popular weight loss book from David Zinczenko, the editor of Men's Health. The premise of the manual is to take two similar meals -- whether from popular restaurants or supermarket items -- and compare the nutritional value.

For instance, the book recommends that one should eat a Big Mac rather than a Whopper because the latter has over 240 more calories and 20 extra grams of fat than the popular McDonald's sandwich.

It also says that a Sonic burger with mustard is healthier than a Sonic Chicken Club Toaster sandwich; that the Prime Minister's Prime Rib from Outback Steakhouse is better for you than an Ayers Rock Strip Steak from that same restaurant; and the Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffle is better for you than the Eggo Buttermilk Waffles.

I've done some nutritional research over the years, and I have a master's in nutritional studies from Harvard. (Actually, none of that is true. But for the sake of this particular column, work with me.) So in the spirit of Eat This, Not That!, here are a few comparisons of my own:

EAT THIS: For a healthy mid-morning snack, a banana is a fantastic and tasty opportunity to sneak in one of your servings of fruit during the day as recommended by doctors and nutritionists.

NOT THAT: A mid-morning snack of Twinkies is simply full of fat, calories and processed ingredients.

EAT THIS: If you're at the movies, non-buttered popcorn would be a fun snack to enjoy the latest film with the family.

NOT THAT: A snack of popcorn lathered in butter, nacho cheese and chocolate syrup you've smuggled inside the theatre is not the best way to enjoy the latest Johnny Depp blockbuster. It's full of fat and calories, and it's also very messy.

EAT THIS: A dinner of salad with oil and vinegar dressing plus steamed veggies as the main course can be a wonderful and extremely healthy meal to wrap up the day. And with all of that roughage, you're sure to be regular through the night, the next day and into the weekend.

NOT THAT: A dinner of consisting of a fried Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll appetizer and hash brown-covered batter-fried sausage topped with cream gravy and nacho cheese as the main course should effectively clog most of the conduits in both your circulation and digestive systems to the effect you'll need at least one heart stent and extensive colonics for a two week period.

EAT THIS: Sashimi is a delectable and healthy meal, particularly when it's dipped in low sodium soy sauce mixed with wasabi. Yes, it's sliced raw fish, but don't knock it until you've tried it.

NOT THIS: Raw cobra eaten while the snake is alive not only tastes disgusting and bleeds profusely, but it can also be a painful dining experience -- particularly if the snake sinks its fangs into your left eyeball while you try to bite into its belly. Trust me. I know this from experience.

EAT THIS: A chicken soft taco served fresco-style is a delicious fast food alternative from Taco Bell.

NOT THAT: Gidget, the Chihuahua mascot from Taco Bell, who went to doggie heaven last week at the age of 15. That would be just wrong -- unless you lived in rural China.

EAT THIS: A dessert of frozen yogurt in an ice-cold glass of Fresca is not only virtually calorie-free, but also very refreshing on a hot Summer day.

NOT THAT: A peanut butter ice cream float made with Colt 45 malt liquor in a 7-11 Big Gulp cup is full of fat, and it could cause you to walk into a retirement home clad only in white underwear briefs, black socks and a Razorback Hog Hat. Trust me. I know this from experience.

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
July 22, 2009

I'm late as usual.

Hours past deadline, and the sweet, angelic and patient woman who physically puts my column onto the page you are reading now has suddenly turned into the girl from The Exorcist.

"WHERE'S YOUR COLUMN?!?" she screamed in a voice that would make Godzilla scurry away with his tail between his legs. She even spewed green bile all over my office, and her head did a complete 360.

Scary.

See, it's been a week from Hades down here at the W.R.D. Entertainment offices. For the second time in about ten years, lightning struck our building and fried all types of equipment and computers like a KFC chicken leg. When you're running six radio stations out of one building and something this drastic happens, we lose satellite feeds, music comes out distorted from one channel on some stations, and our usually jovial studio engineer contemplates just walking away from it all and joining a monastery.

So, here it is Friday, and I'm just now finding time to write my silly column.

But with my mind focused on lightning damage for the past few days, I'm struggling to find a topic for this week's "All Over the Map."

I could write some more about Michael Jackson, but if I read another story about the "King of Pop," I think I'll jump off a bridge. (I will say that finally seeing the complete video of Jackson's hair catch fire from that 1984 Pepsi commercial mishap was wild and a bit funny, but then when I realized how horrific it must have been and that it was that incident that likely prompted his reliance on painkillers, I felt a bit guilty.)

I could write about the unbelievably raunchy comedy Bruno, but it might spur some people to see the movie, and when they do, some of those people might surround the theatre with torches and pitchforks afterwards. Besides I've already written a bunch of words regarding this film in the "Movies" section a few pages over.

Uh-oh. I hear some stomping coming down the hall to my office.

"WHERE'S YOUR COLUMN?!?"

She's back. Hold on.

"Give me a few more minutes," I tell her. "I'm almost finished."

"HURRY UP!!!"

Aw...man. She just shot some of that green stuff all over my face.

Hang on. Let me get a towel.

Where was I?

Oh. A topic.

Hmmmm...let me think.

Well, how about some interesting facts about Taco Bell? Did you know that in corporate meetings at Taco Bell, executives actually tell their team to "Think outside the bun"? This is according to the website www.11points.com. Other interesting trivia facts regarding Taco Bell I learned from the website: they use over 600,000 cows' worth of beef per year; their franchises struggle in Mexico to succeed; and if you appear in one of their national television commercials, you can eat free at Taco Bell for life (but, apparently, the company does not volunteer this information).

Finally, judging by a television show I recently came across, it might be safe to say that civilization is nearing the end of time.

Half-asleep, aimlessly switching the channels the other night, I came across the new reality television show entitled, Dance Your Ass Off.

In disbelief, I watched a horrid hybrid of Dancing with the Stars and The Biggest Loser as poor obese folks, dressed in flowing blouses and unfortunately tight pants, danced elaborate numbers with a professional partner in order to lose weight and gain confidence.

There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but I hate any dancing reality show. And when I watch one of these weight-loss reality shows, I'm always afraid one of those poor souls is going to permanently fall to their knees clutching their chest while trying to complete an obstacle course.

So what if a contestant on Dance Your Ass Off suffered the same fate? Think about it: if you were a guy, wouldn't you hate to go out face first on a dance floor wearing a sequined blouse to the strains of a Gloria Estefan song?

"ROOOBBB!!!"

Oops. I hear her stomping down the hall. I'll wrap it up before she starts to levitate and throw me out the window.

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
July 15, 2009

I've never really had a fear of most animals -- except the big ones.

Oh, and animals with fangs. If they have fangs or large claws, then...well, I have a problem.

But otherwise, I'm fine with most animals, bugs, and other creatures.

Oh, wait. Furry animals that wear ribbons -- namely, poodles -- they scare me, too. It's sort of like people who have a fear of clowns. That's how I feel about poodles.

And cats! Man, cats are creepy. I picture Satan with a cat on his lap. Plus litter boxes are smelly and disgusting. Yuck.

So, just to re-cap: big animals, animals with fangs, animals with large claws, furry animals that wear ribbons, and cats -- they all scare Rob.

Otherwise, I'm like The Crocodile Hunter when it comes to animals. Bring 'em on!

(Let's not take into account the fact that The Crocodile Hunter is no longer with us.)

Of course, I use extreme caution when I approach any type of creature whether it is the king cobra, a great white shark, or someone driving a pick-up truck with an "Ain't Skeered" window sticker. I've actually never approached the first two, but I've had several run-ins with the latter -- particularly when I'm playing my Yanni CD too loud in my car at Sonic.

Still, I've always been fascinated with people who completely lose their marbles at the sight of a bee or wasp. How such tiny, insignificant insects can spur extremely insane reactions is a mystery to me.

For instance, if my son sees a wasp a block away, his hair stands on end, his eyes pop out of their sockets, and he wildly runs the opposite way as if he is engulfed in flames.

I, on the other hand, am calm and composed whenever I come around a wasp or wasp nest.

For instance, last summer my son discovered a nest of wasps on my deck. After I took the time to peel him off the ceiling, I managed to have him show me where the nest was so I could take care of it. While he stood behind the sliding glass door, I took his pellet gun, calmly walked on the deck, and shot down the nest. Angry wasps scurried everywhere while I slowly slipped back behind the glass door and watched them fly away.

Mr. Cool, I was -- the James Bond of wasp killers.

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted another wasp nest on my deck. The insects were crawling over it and buzzing around, so since I am Marlin Perkins (for those under 35 years of age, you are welcome to Google the name "Marlin Perkins"), I decided to grab my broom and knock it down.

With one jab, the nest plopped to the ground. The next thing I remember is just about every wasp from the nest heading in my direction.

And they looked very angry -- much like the kamikaze pilots in old World War II movies.

I felt four or five of them all over my body.

BAM! One sting on my chin.

BAM! One sting on my thumb.

Then, after I screamed like a little girl, I could feel one crawling up under my t-shirt.

BAM! One sting on my big white belly.

A high-pitched "Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!" came out of my mouth as I jumped around, flailing my arms as if I was on fire. Now, I know why my son runs like that whenever he sees these suckers.

I finally managed to slide back the door and stumble inside, breathing heavy and feeling the stings.

"Holy moly!" I screamed -- though a particular vulgarity was likely used instead of "moly."

Those things are insane, I thought to myself. What was I thinking?

So, I now add wasps, hornets and bees to the list of animals and insects I will not work with should I ever be offered to host a show on the Animal Planet channel.

In fact, I think I should simply host a show that focuses exclusively on goldfish.

Extreme Goldfish with Rob Grace -- coming soon to Animal Planet.

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
July 8, 2009

In this age of 24/7 news and information, it's somewhat mystifying that it still can be tough confirming certain stories.

Take a look at the recent media blackout by Iran of the riots following that country's disputed presidential election. News outlets struggled to get information from the uprising, and as a result, unconfirmed rumors were rampant.

However, a more recent story has been struggling to reach the masses, and it originates not from Iran -- but from America.

And you might want to sit down for this one.

I have yet to confirm this, but after watching many of the cable news outlets as well as reading stories and posts from a multitude of websites over the past two weeks, I think something tragic has happened in California.

And here it is: I think Michael Jackson has died.

(I'll pause here so you can collect yourself from the initial shock.)

Again, I can't confirm it, but after watching hours of CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, CNBC, BBC America, MTV, VH1, BET, E!, Fuse, Lifetime, CMT, Bravo, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Classic, The Weather Channel, HGTV, The Outdoor Channel, RFD-TV, C-SPAN, The History Channel, Home Shopping Network, The Food Network, The Speed Channel, Animal Planet and The Golf Channel, I really think the King of Pop has passed away.

I know what you're thinking: Rob, where in the world did you get such a crazy idea?

It is crazy, right? But all of the cable channels above -- and even more -- have been saying for the past two weeks that Michael Jackson has indeed died.

So, I decided to go to the Internet and see if I could prove that Michael Jackson has left us.

I first went to Google, and I typed in the following words: "Michael Jackson dies."

In 0.27 seconds, Google informed me that there were about 67,500,000 results on the Internet with the words "Michael Jackson dies."

Hmmmm.

I turned my attention back to the television. On CNN, Larry King is interviewing their legal expert, Jeffrey Toobin, about Michael Jackson's "will." I'm still not sure.

I turn to Fox News. Glenn Beck is weeping about socialized health care or something. I'll switch back later.

On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann is blaming George W. Bush for Michael Jackson's "demise." "Are you now, finally, happy Mr. President -- SIR -- that your failed agenda likely drove one of this country's most cherished pop icons to his final resting place?" Olbermann says. "Will that finally make your miserable life complete -- SIR?"

On MTV, there is something called The Cast of The Hills Remember the Life of Michael Jackson, but I can barely watch it because I want to reach through the television and strangle Spencer and Heidi with piano wire.

On Galavision, there is a man dressed up as Michael Jackson in an angel costume talking to another man in a bumblebee costume and a beautiful woman with an enormous chest and a big hairstyle. But I can't understand anything because it's in Spanish.

I switch back to Fox News. Glenn Beck is still crying. "I weep because the values of this great country are literally being molested by the Obamas, the Pelosis, the Clintons, the Frankens, and the liberal hippie tax-mongers of this world!" I'll switch back later.

On CMT, Toby Keith is singing a version of Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life" while dressed as the King of Pop. Keith looks like a transvestite on steroids with this look. I will now have nightmares.

On RFD-TV, a farmer is being interviewed. "So," the RFD-TV journalist asks, "how will your crop be affected by the death of Michael Jackson?" In the background, the farmer's cow is dressed like Michael Jackson.

Wow, I think. If RFD-TV is saying that Michael Jackson is dead, then...he must be dead.

How did I go so long without knowing this? I'd think our news outlets would be providing more coverage. I mean, after all, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. He died on June 25, and I'm just now finding out.

I have to clear my head. This is big news that will take a few days for me to fully grasp the significance.

I switch back to Fox News. Glenn Beck is still crying. However, he is now being taken off the set by two orderlies. Beck is clad in a straitjacket. "You see this America?!? These men are the Obama Gestapo!!!" he screams.

I'll switch back later.

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.

One Headlight
by T. Blanston, Jr.
July 1, 2009

A note from Rob Grace.

I'm currently suffering from heat exhaustion after doing aerobics clad in sequined sweats, a knit headband and ankle weights at 1 p.m. down at the White River sandbar in Batesville. (Well, I'm also suffering from a beating five guys from Thida gave me after they saw me in my aerobics outfit, but I'm pleased to report my ear reattachment surgery should be successful.)

Anyway, because of that, I had to call on my dear friend, T. Blanston, Jr., to compose this week's column. So, please enjoy the latest adventure from one of the most popular journalists the world has ever seen.

Oh, and if anyone has seen my JVC beatbox, please call me at W.R.D. Entertainment. It was with me that day at the White River. It's really big, it's loaded with a DeBarge's Greatest Hits cassette, and it has an indention about the size of my head in the left speaker. It was last seen in the hands of those guys from Thida.

Thanks!

Greetings from my large and beautiful Rancho Paradiso on the shores of Loch Greers Ferry! It's been a busy few weeks for me -- T. Blanston, Jr. -- journalist/activist/singer/songwriter/poet/film director/occasional actor/mercenary/president of the Fred Grandy fan club/UFC fighter/lover of many female celebrities/award-winning harpist.

Let me begin with my recent coverage of the Iranian riots. After the ridiculous and blatant rigging of the Iranian election, I decided to head to Tehran to cover the uprising of the courageous Iranian citizens. I snuck through the border via an Iraqi mountain range under the cover of darkness. At the first Iranian town I encountered, I entered the local Cracker Barrel bathroom, where I swiftly changed into my disguise: a simple pair of khakis, cream colored shirt, a light brown windbreaker, a fake beard and then I dyed my stunning mane of silver hair to a dark black.

After making my way to Tehran via a large ostrich I purchased from a villager who looked strangely like a female Rosie O'Donnell, I immediately joined a rowdy throng of protestors who were chanting, "Death to the dictator!" I felt an immense burst of adrenaline and pride to be smack in the middle of these freedom fighters who were valiantly attempting to make history.

Suddenly, a man looked to me and his eyes almost popped out of his head like a character from Looney Tunes.

Knowing the language of Farsi due to my time as an Amway salesman in Iran before the Islamic revolution, I instantly translated his scream of rage while he pointed toward me.

"IT IS THE EVIL ONE! THE DICTATOR AND LIAR IS IN OUR MIDST! DEATH NOW TO THE DICTATOR!"

Thinking the man obviously had a little too many daiquiris before the demonstration, I at first laughed at his irrational behavior, but then I saw the picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on some of the signs of the protestors and realized that my disguise was a dead ringer for the guy.

"KILL THE DICTATOR!" the crowd screamed as they gathered around me.

"No," I pleaded, "You've got the wrong guy! I'm on your side! I like democracy! I like Western values! I've been to a Jonas Brothers concert!"

"SEE!" one protestor screamed. "HE IS THE DICTATOR! HE LIKES THE JONAS BROTHERS!"

"What?!?" I said. "Ahmadinejad likes the Jonas Brothers??!??"

Suddenly the screams stopped and those that wanted my blood looked to each other in confused silence. One protestor walked to me.

"You're kidding, right?" he asked. "Everyone knows you like these Jonas Brothers. Remember? At your so-called victory party, you started singing 'S.O.S.'?"

"But I'm not Ahmadinejad! I'm a reporter! T. Blanston, Jr. -- award-winning journalist!"

The protestor looked to me.

"The T. Blanston, Jr.? From the America?" he asked. "The reporter who said he once had suffocating love affair with famous Poseidon Adventure actress Shelley Winters? Poseidon Adventure and lovely Miss Winters very big on TV here."

"Oh, thank heavens," I said, realizing they now knew my true identity. "Yes! Yes! That's me -- T. Blanston, Jr.!"

The crowd erupted in joyful cheers, and they began to hug and pat me on the back.

I held up my hands to quiet them.

"But, I need to clarify something," I said to the admiring protestors. "I never had an affair with Shelley Winters. What happened was I was at a club, and she saw me there, and she got up from her table, screaming 'T.! T.! T.! I love you! I want to have your babies!', and she started to run toward me."

The crowd was suddenly quiet, enraptured by my story.

"So, I started running from her," I said. "And I tripped on a busboy's foot, and then Shelley tripped, and she fell on me. She fell right on my face! And, technically, she suffocated me for about two minutes until 10 men pulled her off of me. And these were big guys struggling to get this behemoth off of me."

I chuckled.

"No, I would never have had an affair with Shelley Winters. I mean, everyone knows she was the model for that Borden Milk cow."

Confused looks and glances filtered through the crowd.

I laughed again at the ridiculous confusion of these poor people.

"I mean, come on. Shelley Winters? If I would have married her, I would have had to rent a crane to carry her across the threshold."

Quietly, yet also somewhat quickly, a different mood infected the crowd. Their eyes narrowed, and many of them glared at me with intense hatred.

The protestor moved closer to me.

"How dare you insult the beauty of Miss Shelley Winters!" he said. And, then he screamed to the crowd: "KILL HIM! SEIZE THE SHELLEY WINTERS INFIDEL!"

Hands, fists, rocks, signs, staplers, George Foreman grills -- all sorts of objects rained down on me like deadly chunks of hail. I managed to mount myself up above the crowd and body surf across the protestors as if I were at a Pearl Jam concert. Finally, I reached an unattended moped, straddled it and zoomed off with the mass of protestors running after me before they finally faded into my distance.

I was free.

I reached the border, ripped off my beard and zoomed across. A group of Iraqi soldiers ferried me to the U.S. Embassy where I relayed my terrifying brush with death to an American diplomat.

After I finished my story, the diplomat stood from his desk and walked over to me. He pulled his chair beside me and leaned in closely to my face.

"Mr. Blanston," he said.

"Yes," I said.

"I neglected to introduce myself at the outset of our briefing."

"Oh," I said. I offered my hand. "And you are...?"

"Ernie Winters. Shelley's grandson."

"Oh."

He smiled. "Come. Let me take you on a personal tour of Abu Ghraib. I think you'll enjoy it. Particularly the part where I pull out the electrodes."

He grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the chair.

"Heh," I stammered. "Did I mention I loved your grandmother in Lolita?"

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