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March 2010

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
March 24, 2010

I have two buddies who have suddenly become fitness nuts, and really, it's making me sick.

I mean, it's not like they were in horrible shape. In fact, before they started all of this exercise and eating right nonsense, they were in great shape. A month ago, they'd stay up late with me and other pals, eating pizza, shooting the bull and stuff. Now, every weekday they rise and shine at 5:30 a.m. and work out for close to 90 minutes to some DVD called P90X.

This morning, I put down my sausage, egg, cheese, bacon, pancake and gravy biscuit, and I logged on to the P90X website -- which, get this, is located at www.beachbody.com.

Puke.

Anyway, the website claims the P90X workout routine can get you "absolutely ripped" in just 90 days through a "revolutionary system of 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts."

Gag.

Some of the 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts include some nonsense called Plyometrics, which is "an explosive jumping cardio routine proven to dramatically improve athletic performance"; the Ab Ripper X, which "sculpts the six-pack abs of your dreams and benefits your health and physical performance"; and Kenpo X, which is an "intense cardiovascular workout with punching and kicking for endurance, balance, and coordination."

See, I can already tell you that a lot of this is probably bunk. You know why? My Microsoft Word spell checker says "Plyometrics" and "Kenpo" are not even recognized words.

Ridiculous.

Then, get this. These two health freaks also hike about 15 miles each weekend. I'm telling you, one of these days they'll be hiking and a giant bear will jump out of the woods and eat them both.

The authorities will kill the bear, open its stomach, and inside will be the "absolutely ripped" and healthy remains of my two friends.

And at the double funeral, I'll address the mourners and hypothetically ask our dearly departed pals, "Hey, how's that P90X system working out for you two now?"

Heck, they could spend all of this time and energy exercising and eating nothing but raw vegetables while spurning the enjoyable things in life such as fried chicken, cream gravy and sleeping until noon.

Then one day, they could get hit by a bus.

And, again, I'd ask their souls at the funeral, "Hey dummies, was all of that responsible eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle really worth it?"

I bet I could eat a fried chicken a day, smoke four packs of Marlboros a day and drink all the milkshakes I want, and still live longer than these two.

Exercising can kill you. Look at Jim Fixx, the guy who, in the late 1970s, made running a national fitness craze with his book, The Complete Book of Running. At age 52, he's on his daily run, and BOOM! -- Jim drops dead of a heart attack.

(Of course, Jim smoked two packs a day until he was 35 and his family had a history of heart problems, but c'mon, work with me here.)

Oh well. I suppose I should mind my own business. Maybe instead of criticizing, I should begin an exercise program. I mean, my 14-year-old daughter recently told me I look pregnant.

(In my defense, I think I was retaining water the day she told me that.)

Maybe I should rise before dawn, do a rigorous workout for about an hour and begin eating everything that's good for me -- like raw broccoli, leafy greens and dry wheat germ with soy milk.

Or -- maybe not.

Now, excuse me, my large pan supreme pizza has just arrived at my door.

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
March 17, 2010
 

Rob will return next week with a new column.

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
March 10, 2010

The following column is a reprint from our Nov. 1, 2006, edition.

Another true story.

Setting: an Italian restaurant in Saint Louis, Missouri -- a tad before lunchtime, just a few days ago.

The dining room is empty except for the wait staff and a single table occupied by a young man, an older gentleman who is presumably the younger man's father, and a frail elderly woman in a wheelchair -- presumably the mother and grandmother of the older man and younger man, respectively. She sits directly across from the older man.

The restaurant matire'd seats my brother and myself across the room from their table.

It's very quiet as we study the menu.

Until...

"They have a wonderful pasta dish with a delicious sauce," the elderly woman tells her son in a sweet, soft, and slightly shaky voice.

"IS THE SAUCE CREAM-BASED?" her son screams to her as I almost jump out of my seat.

"What is it?" the mother asks.

"I SAID 'IS THE SAUCE CREAM-BASED?' I CAN'T HAVE MUCH CREAM AFTER MY INCIDENT!"

"Oh. Yes. It is. I'm afraid so."

The waiter arrives, and the table orders.

 The mother looks to her grandson after the waiter leaves.

"Brady, hon. What did you order?"

"HE ORDERED THE RIB-EYE!" the son yells. I jump again, my hands jolting the menu I hold against my iced tea. "I ORDERED THE PIZZA MARGHERITA BUT I TOLD THEM NOT TO PUT TOO MUCH CHEESE ON IT!"

"Oh yes," the mother says.

A few moments pass. more noon hour diners are seated. Our lunch arrives, and I dig into my pasta.

Then...

"MOTHER! I FOUND A GROWTH ON MY BACK!"

My brother and I exchange "you've got to be kidding" looks. I glance around the room to see other diners looking at their table mates with the same expression.

"What is it you say?" the mother asks with a concerned tone.

"I FOUND A GROWTH ON BACK!"

"Oh my goodness," the mom says.

"MELISSA FOUND IT! BUT IT WASN'T SERIOUS! IT WAS A TICK!"

"Oh dear," his mother says.

"MELISSA DID SOME SURGERY ON ME AND PULLED IT OFF!"

"Oh, that's good. Yes. How's Darren?"

 "VERY WELL! HE'S OPENED AN ART GALLERY DOWNTOWN!"

"An art gallery...I see."

"HE'S VERY AMBITIOUS!"

By now, I realize the grandson hasn't said a word. His head is down as he quietly eats his lunch.

His grandmother turns to him.

"Brady, hon. When are you leaving?"

"Um," Brady says, as he puts his fork down. "I'm leaving tomorrow."

"What, sweetie?"

"She can't hear you," his dad says with a hint of irritation.

"UM..." He coughs and clears his throat. "I'M LEAVING TOMORROW!"

"Oh yes," the grandmother says.

Now, I am not making light of the frail state of the woman. I was, however, slightly astonished at her son's screaming and his total state of oblivion to the other diners. The man was well dressed, seeming to indicate, at least, some sense of respectability. Yet, if you're in any type of restaurant, yelling your conversation at the top of your lungs, you have to be in some type of zone where manners take a backseat to a certain disregard of other people.

And I don't feel as if I'm being snobbish in my thinking.

Because, really, I would think the last thing one wants to hear while they try to enjoy their lunch is a man screaming about finding a tick on his back.

* * *

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
March 3, 2010

I finally got around to seeing this Avatar thing.

You probably know the movie. Apparently, it's the biggest box office hit of all time. Of course, if you throw in inflation bucks, the real champ is still Gone with the Wind. Or is it Benji Goes to Rural Korea and is Served Stir-Fried with Steamed Rice and Cabbage?

I forget.

Anyway, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, this Avatar thing has made almost $2.5 billion worldwide, and it's nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture.

I'm not a science-fiction dude. I prefer crime films, brainless comedies, quirky dramas as well as any movie that involves a hot tub and Pamela Anderson. And I'm definitely not a big fan of James Cameron, the guy who wrote and directed this Avatar thing, as well as that Titanic thing. Sure his two Terminator movies were fun, but his subtlety as a filmmaker is non-existent: He hits you over the head with an anvil to make sure you get his point.

Cameron is a special effects genius, however, and this Avatar thing apparently had jaw-dropping 3D imagery. So it was that and the hype surrounding this Avatar thing that finally made me go see the damn movie. And to get the full effect, I saw it at the Chenal IMAX in Little Rock where the screen is about three stories high.

I'll admit the special effects in this Avatar thing are amazing. Much of the movie takes place on a moon called Pandora where the natives -- called the Na'vi -- are 12 feet tall, Smurf-blue and fly around on these prehistoric-looking dragon-like creatures. Mountains float in misty air, neon-infused vines sprout from tree branches and roots, and mean military dudes from Earth zip around in ships and helicopters blowing the beauty of Pandora into a million flaming bits.

See, this Avatar thing is about a ruthless corporation strip-mining Pandora for a valuable mineral and utilizing the U.S. Marines to drive the peaceful Na'vi out of their forest. Cameron obviously wants you to think of past and present exploitation of native people (read: Native Americans, Iraqis, etc.) by heartless Western capitalists, and he goes well out of his way in portraying most of the human characters in the most despicable and ruthless manner while painting the people of Pandora with an immaculate, peace-loving glow.

Basically, they're blue New-Age hippies battling The Man.

The hero of the movie is Jake Scully (there's a Hollywood movie hero name), a paraplegic Marine who is recruited to infiltrate the Pandora folks through an avatar -- a genetic mixture of human and Na'vi DNA. Scully, encased in what looks like a very comfortable tanning bed, can use his brainwaves to control his avatar on Pandora and then he --

Wait. I'm getting bored trying to explain this stuff, so let's cut to the chase: Jake's avatar becomes enraptured by the ways of the Na'vi, he falls in love with one of these blue giant chicks, and then he leads the natives in a rebellion against the Man.

It's Dances with Wolves on Another Planet.

We've seen it all before, and while the special effects are worth the price of admission, after the umpteenth scene of Na'vi mumbo jumbo about being one with nature, I wanted to leave the theatre, get in a truck and drive it off a cliff.

I know. I know. I'm sounding like a cynical weenie. I'm not for strip-mining or exploiting people (unless it involves a hot tub and Pamela Anderson), but with this Avatar thing, Cameron is strip-mining cinema cliches and trying to exploit viewers with every trick in the book including cardboard characters, a been there-done that story and those special effects.

Oh, and then it ends with some horrible, someone-please-stick-ice picks-in-my-ears syrupy love song that sounds exactly like that Celine Dion dreck that ended Cameron's Titanic.

Ugh.

Well, I guess I'm in the minority. It'll win a load of Oscars Sunday night (except Best Picture -- I think that'll go to the superb Iraqi war drama The Hurt Locker), and it'll end up making a billion more bucks when it hits DVD.

And...sigh...we'll likely have Avatar 2 in a few years.

And I can promise you, I'll skip that one.

Unless, of course, it features a scene involving a hot tub and Pamela Anderson.

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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