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May 2007

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
May 30, 2007

What a week it has been.

Our friends in the oil industry are now saying the government's insistence on increasing biofuel production is one cause for our high gas prices. In a roundabout way, Big Oil says there's no reason to build new refineries or expand old ones since the U.S. is mandating an eventual switch to ethanol. The refinery investments would be worthless because they wouldn't accommodate ethanol production. Wasting all that money -- which is coming in at a record pace -- would also be bad for their dear old stockholders, they say.

So, if I'm following the Big Oil bouncy ball correctly, one reason gas prices are so sky-high is because weaning ourselves off of foreign oil via ethanol might cut into those astounding profits and mess with their almighty stock prices.

On the bright side of things, there are still some analysts out there who insist prices will start to fall sometime in the summer.

It's sad when we look to a price of $2.00 a gallon as the good old days.

Anyway, let us turn our attention to a much more serious matter: poor Rosie O'Donnell.

Her treatment in the press is just horrific, isn't it? Here she is, this ray of sunshine, being trounced and trashed everywhere for comparing U.S. soldiers to terrorists, implying the U.S. was behind the 9/11 attacks, and for being a "bully" toward that bimbo, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, her bratty little partner on The View.

By now, I certainly hope you realize I'm deep into sarcasm territory here.

Hasselbeck may come off a tad ditzy sometimes, but I'm waiting for the day she leaps across the table and rips out Rosie's throat with her teeth.

That would be one catfight to catch on YouTube, wouldn't it?

Let's just phone Don King and schedule a pay-per-view cage match between these two. We could call it X-treme Catfight 2007, get that "Let's get ready to rumble" ring announcer, have Trace Adkins sing the National Anthem and watch these two pound each other's faces into hamburger meat!

Actually, though, I'm afraid Hasselbeck would be toast in the ring. She would be like Richard Simmons going up against Andre the Giant.

Yikes...I'm getting a little too mean-spirited here, let's move onto another Don King production: the Jermain Taylor/Cory Spinks bout that was recently held in Memphis.

Let's get one thing straight -- I like Jermain Taylor. I like his attitude, his sense of humor and his pride for this great state of ours.

But, I recently read a startling statistic regarding the May 19 split decision bout at the FedEx Forum. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a groundbreaking study of viewer's habits during televised boxing matches and found that over 92 percent of the Taylor/Spinks audience fell asleep after the fourth round.

I never thought I would ever see a boring boxing match, but watching Taylor dance around Spinks for 12 rounds was somewhat like watching buttermilk curdle.

Even worse, after the fight, my son actually went through puberty as we waited for HBO's Larry Merchant to pose one question to Taylor.

"Jermain." Pause. "In the." Fifteen second pause. "Seventh round." Two minute pause. "Spinks seemed to." Three days later. "Hit you with." Five days later. "A hard left that."

As of this writing, Taylor is still in the ring at Memphis waiting for Merchant to get the question out. Reports indicate that both now have full beards.

Finally, one of our pets died this last week.

Speedy, our son's treasured turtle, passed peacefully sometime on the afternoon of May 24 in his aquarium. He was at least two months old. Speedy is survived by his sister, Fast Mama, of Polk Bayou; a brother, Slow Poke, of Row Lake; and a mother, Shelly, whereabouts unknown. He was preceded in death by his father, Stripey, who was killed earlier this year in a tragic vehicular flattening off Broad St.

Funeral services were held Saturday, May 26, in our backyard. My wife officiated the ceremony. The pallbearer was yours truly.

Burial was in an empty Nike shoebox.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

 

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
May 23, 2007

Most of us had to read Dante's Inferno in high school, right?

Wait. Let me rephrase that.

Most of us had to read the CliffsNotes for Dante's Inferno in high school, right?

Well, if my memory is correct, this Dante guy envisioned nine layers of Hell.

One layer was for the unbaptized. One was for those overcome by lust. Another was reserved for the slothful. And it seems like there was one reserved for Barry Manilow but maybe I'm dreaming.

Anyway, Dante should have made one more layer specifically for oil company executives.

Sure, in the past, we as a country never had the foresight to demand that the government step up to the plate and force some major fuel economy standards and alternative fuel initiatives on the auto and oil industries so we could gradually wean ourselves off the collective teat of the major oil producing countries.

But with oil prices down, prices up, and gasoline companies experiencing record profits, no one in their right mind can seriously swallow the oil industry's mantra that, hey -- it's just one of those things. Some major refineries just happened to shut down for maintenance around the same time -- which also happens to be the busiest time of the year for travel. Who would've guessed?

Believing that nonsense is somewhat like accepting the fact that since Britney Spears is always on Entertainment Tonight, then she must have talent.

Or something like that.

Yet, with all of the news coverage and Congressional hearings over the recent spike in gas prices, I am feeling a tad optimistic. Perhaps all of this outrage and attention has finally exposed the questionable practices of oil companies and forced the auto industry to take fuel efficiency standards to the next level. When all of the consumer and governmental fury over outrageous prices exploded last week, one could see some hedging on the oil industry's part.

"I think we're at the peak," said Joe Petrowski, chief executive of Gulf Oil Limited Partnership of Newton, Mass., to New York's Newsday last week. "I think we'll see declines through August, and I really think prices on Labor Day will be cheaper than they will be on Memorial Day."

We'll see.

Meanwhile, while some of my friends have purchased hybrid vehicles, yours truly is still burning petro galore in his mammoth eight-year-old S.U.V.

I need to check Dante again to see if there is a layer in Hell for hypocrites.

* * *

I've covered this ground before, but...

The P.C. vs. Mac commercials are becoming almost as ubiquitous as the Geico caveman ads. You know the ones. The stodgy, slightly nerdy guy represents the P.C. while the hipster twenty-something dude is the Mac. While they've been parodied in homemade videos on YouTube and some hilarious skits on the Late Show with David Letterman, the ads are undeniably clever and they hit the nail on the head when it comes to making a point., which is this: Windows-based computers stink. And Apple's Mac computers are smooth as silk and dependable as heck.

This was reinforced again in my house about two weeks ago when the entire family almost ripped our old, clunky Dell P.C. out of the computer cabinet and tossed it through the window. Even with up-to-date virus protection and anti-spyware programs chugging along in the background, our Dell was still bogged down in digital gunk that had slowly accumulated through our collective usage. It had become a loud, slow and sputtering junk heap that constantly froze and took an eternity to load.

So, after experiencing total bliss with my MacBook laptop, I decided to purchase an iMac for our new home computer.

To give you an indication of how well-designed a Mac can be, I will present a slight illustration.

It took me about 25 to 30 minutes to completely unplug all of the various parts and add-on components of our Dell and take them out of the computer cabinet in which they had been crammed for the past few years. There were cables, speakers, networking equipment, and extra USB ports I had to remove -- along with the gigantic Dell computer unit and its monitor. This obviously doesn't include the extra hour I took beforehand to back up all of our photos, music and documents from the Dell onto CDs and DVDs.

Yet it only took me 10 minutes to unload the iMac from the box, hook up my old printer and modem, and start using the new computer. The iMac recognized my modem and printer settings, and in no time, I had transplanted the files from the Dell onto the Apple.

The iMac can run Windows Vista or XP (if I want -- the Apple operating system is much faster), access and use my P.C. at work, send our Internet to my laptop, and it is quiet as a mouse. Plus -- there are only about three cables, there's no bulky computer unit, and it has a large bright monitor with superb sounding speakers. (The hard drive and other guts are in the monitor, so our computer cabinet now has a lot of room it didn't have before.)

I suppose what I'm saying is this: If your computer is in need of replacing, you can't go wrong with any type of Mac.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
May 16, 2007

My twin brother, Bob, has been pestering me to no end. You see, Bob thinks he can write a better column than I can. I scoff at such audacity, but this week Mother has ordered me to let Bob write "All Over the Map."

Before I hand my computer keyboard to Bob, I must warn you that my twin brother and I do not always see eye to eye on certain subjects, so expect some commentary on items that might run counter to what you have grown accustomed to here in "All Over the Map." Despite being identical twins, we are still two entirely different individuals. For example, he eats Slim Jims for breakfast and wears camouflage - even to bed.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I only wanted you to know where he was coming from. That's all.

So, without further adieux, I give the reigns of this week's column to Bob.

Thanks, bro.

Only you would use the word "adieux" in writin'. I don't really know what "adieux" means. Sounds communist or terrorist to me, but I would expect that from someone who actually paid money to see Hall & Oates when he was in junior high.

Anyways, I'd like to begin this week's column writin' about a recent issue of Time magazine. Personally, I wouldn't read no dad-gum Time magazine. I prefer WWE magazine or Grit. But at the doctor's office the other day, it was either Time or The New Yorker, and I'll be dad-gummed if I'm gonna read something named after the most communist city in America.

Anyways, I got this Time magazine in my doctor's office, and I got time to kill because it's gonna be a wait because - hello? - it's a dad-gum doctor's visit. (It's a good thing I didn't have no emergency like I did last week with those dad-gum cold sores I had in my mouth.) So, I pick up this dad-gum magazine, and here's what it says on the dad-gum cover of that there Time magazine: "The Most Influential People in the World. The Time 100." So, Time devotes an issue to who it thinks the most dad-gum influential people are, and right there on the cover, you got dad-gum Sen. Barack Obama. (Communist.) Sen. Nancy Pelosi. (Communist.) The head of dad-gum China. (Big time communist.) Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Man claims to be a REPUBLICAN. But he's mayor of the most communist dad-gum city in America, so he's an undercover communist.) Al Gore. (Communist/Tree Hugger.) And Leonardo DiCaprio. (Communist/Tree Hugger/Hollyweirdo.)

After seeing all those people on this here cover, I had to look again to make sure it said "The Most Influential People in the World" and not "The Most Communist People in the World."

And it gets worse - particularly when you open up the dad-gum magazine. Not only does it have all those communists I mentioned on the list, but it also has these other communists (or terrorists, or atheists, or Hollyweirdos - whatever, they're all the same) on the list.

People like Sen. Hillary Clinton. (Communist.) Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. (He's the supreme leader of I-ran. I ran so far away. Heh...heh...heh.) Raul Castro. (Fidel's brother. Need I say more?) Osama bin Laden. (Jerkface/Terrorist.) George Clooney. (Jerkface/Hollyweirdo.) Richard Dawkins. (Dad-gum atheist/Of the devil.) Rosie O'Donnell. (Not sure "it" is a dad-gum atheist, but "it" is of the devil.)

What a bunch of clumpy steaming manure.

How can we allow such communist propaganda to be printed in America? It's bad enough I have to read all of the dad-gum nonsense my brother prints in this here space.

Anyways, I've decided to make my own dad-gum list of "The Most Influential People in the World." Most of these need no explanation.

Bill O'Reilly. WWE Superstar John Cena. (Played a Marine in a movie called The Marine. Sigma Chi, my brother. Sigma Chi.) Trace Adkins. (Any man who can introduce the phrase "badonkadonk" into the mainstream American language is my hero.) The Deal or No Deal girls. (Speaking of badonkadonk.) The greatest band in the history of the world: Quiet Riot. The second greatest band in the history of the world: Sawyer Brown. Dawn Scott, that Today's THV newschick. (Badonkadonk with brains.) Donald Trump. (He now has his own brand of steaks. Genius!) Sharon Stone. (Aged badonkadonk - yes, but that's still some Grade-A badonkadonk. Ooh-wee, shut my mouth.)

And, um, who else? Oh - Sean Hannity, of course. I can't wait for the day he slaps those glasses off that dad-gum lizard-lookin' communist co-host of his, Alan Colmes.

So, there you go. It ain't 100, but there ain't no communists on that there list, either.

Anyways, I would like to thank my brother, Rob, for allowing me this space. I would like to thank my girlfriend, the Queen Badonkadonk her fine self - Ms. Velvet Peabody, who has been unemployed since they closed Platinum Plus in Memphis a few months ago, but can still crash at my pad any day of the week as long as she gives me at least two hours notice. And, I would like to thank my mama, Nancy Grace, who is not related to the Nancy Grace on the CNN Headline News - a frightening woman who has zero badonkadonkness and is always flarin' her nostrils.

But now, mama Nancy has some badonkadonkness, that's for sure.

OK - I'll stop before this gets too creepy.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
May 9, 2007

In last week's issue of Arkansas Weekly, more than a few grammatical errors and fumbled sentences found their way into print.

For instance, the last sentence of my column read as follows:

The floors might be clean enough for Goofy could eat off them, but not me.

This, of course, makes no sense unless one is drunk.

The sentence should have been this:

The floors might be clean enough for Goofy to eat off them, but not me.

Which, in retrospect, still seems clunky. My point was that if the Disney folks were in charge of highway quick markets, the bathroom floors would be so clean that even Goofy could eat off them. I, however, would never eat off any bathroom floor no matter how clean.

Aw -- who cares...the joke stinks anyway.

* * *

There was one other major error in last week's column regarding my family's trip to Disney World, and it too involved another lame (not to mention tasteless) attempt at humor.

I had mentioned that after drinking one Bud Light on an empty stomach at the Magic Kingdom, I had tried to make the move on Minnie Mouse, only to be pulled away by Donald Duck and Pluto.

This, obviously, did not happen -- for two reasons.

One: while beer is served at the other Disney World parks, it is not sold at the Magic Kingdom.

And, two: I obviously would not try to "make the move" on Minnie. Now, if we're talking about Cinderella, then that's a different story.

* * *

Before we departed Orlando, we made a stop at Disney's Blizzard Beach, a water park with soaking wet thrill rides and an enormous pool.

I'm not of fan of water parks and swimming. Ever since I was a kid and something that resembled a Baby Ruth floated past me at one of the local pools, I've been reluctant to swim in any pool. So, needless to say, I kept clear of the massive and crowded pool at Blizzard Beach.

I did, however, zip down some of the slides. One, the Summit Plummet, sends you soaring down 120 feet at close to 70 m.p.h. Disney claims it's the tallest and fastest free-fall body slide in the world and is the fifth highest point in Florida. And after sliding down this sucker, I can only hope that the Blizzard Beach chlorination process was in overdrive after I stumbled out of the water.

* * *

I didn't realize until the other day that Tommy Newsom had passed away last month.

For those who were born after 1980, Newsom was a saxophonist in the house band for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Whenever the flamboyantly dressed band leader Doc Severinsen would be off for the night, the talented but bland Newsom would step in his shoes and become a target of Carson's humorous sarcasm during the opening monologue.

According to his obit in the Los Angeles Times, his boss once called Newsom "the cover boy for Oatmeal Illustrated," and Carson also once introduced him as "the only person to reach puberty and senility at the same time."

Rimshot, please.

Newsom was 78 and suffered from liver and bladder cancer.

* * *

It is also with great regret that I mention the passing of the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam.

Excuse me, the dancing Statue of Liberty and the dancing Uncle Sam that had stood and waved to drivers outside a tax service business since the beginning of the year.

Yes, with the closing of tax season, Harrison Street's two favorite mascots have apparently been retired until next January.

No more will I see their bright and giddy smiles as I attempt to navigate the insane traffic on Harrison Street. No more will I see Uncle Sam standing on top of a parked car, pretending, for some odd reason, to play the electric guitar. And no more will I see, as I did one afternoon, a bored Statue of Liberty taking a smoke break while leaning against a telephone pole.

Farewell and Godspeed you mighty marketing marvels -- I shall still miss you.

And, by the way, I am very thankful you both made it through the season without being mowed down by a runaway semi.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
May 2, 2007

Greetings from Walt Disney World!

I write to you all as my family celebrates our summer vacation a few months early. And it's a good thing: the temperature is nice, the weather breezy and while the parks are crowded, Disney regulars insist they are at nowhere near the capacity they reach during the summer months. In fact, as of today, the longest we waited in line for a ride was around 25 minutes.

Which brings me to this handy tip to all of the fathers out there planning for a Walt Disney World family vacation: Gentlemen -- let the wives handle everything.

And I mean everything: plane tickets, resort reservations, restaurant reservations, transportation plans, money plans...heck, even packing plans. Just move out of the way and let Mama take over if you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World.

The Lucky Wife -- as she will now be known because, a) she no longer tolerates her name in print, and b) she's "lucky" because she is married to me -- handled every single aspect of this trip, and it's been perfect. With a nice non-stop flight, efficient transportation from the airport to the resort, dinner reservations, easy-to-use park passes, and just about every meal paid for in advance, the Lucky Wife handled it all.

It's quite likely that had I been in charge of everything, we would be still be at the Orlando airport waiting for our bags. Either that, or at some point during our stay, I might have strangled Goofy in frustration over details that could have been handled better had LW been in charge.

Here are some recommendations for a successful and fun trip to Walt Disney World via the Lucky Wife.

First: Purchase a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. It was LW's bible during this trip. It is stuffed with all types of tips to help make your stay smooth, cost efficient and full of fun.

Second: Buy a Disney Dining Plan. If you're staying for a week, you might, for example, purchase one for $600 (don't faint), but it will likely cover every single meal and snack your family eats throughout your stay. And, trust me, a dinner here ain't cheap. We could have easily spent above and beyond $600 in meals in three to four days if we had not put aside money for the Disney Dining Plan.

Third: If the waiting time for a line to a ride is less than an hour, stand in line. The most popular ride at EPCOT is called Soarin'. The line wait was 60 minutes, yet we made it to the ride in 25 minutes. If the line wait is longer than 60 minutes, then grab a Fast Pass -- which is an appointment for the ride later in the day. When it's your time to ride, you go straight to the front of the line.

Fourth: Use a travel agent. With the aforementioned guide and the nice folks at Four Seasons Travel/Carson Wagonlit (the agency we utilized), all of your bases will be covered.

And finally, this one tip from yours truly: Stay away from the beer. After one Bud Light, I found myself making the move on Minnie Mouse outside Space Mountain. It was really an ugly scene. Pluto and Donald had to pull me off the poor woman. It was not a good way to start off our visit to the Magic Kingdom. And it was all because of one beer on an empty stomach.

* * *

I must confess I was not looking forward to this vacation.

My idea of vacation involves a beach, a comfortable couch, good seafood, and lots of naps. It does not involve getting up to have breakfast with adults dressed as Winnie the Pooh, endlessly walking through crowded parks until sundown, and being surrounded by other dads crankier than me.

However, I was mistaken. Granted -- my feet have blisters, but our kids are at the age where they can truly appreciate the fun a well-run theme park can offer. And that in itself -- watching your kids enjoy themselves -- is worth it all.

Finally, every Walt Disney World park we've experienced this trip has been sparkling clean. Nothing looks worn or dirty. Trash is nowhere to be found. Heck, I watched one service employee shower a stop sign with a high-pressure hose for over five minutes. A stop sign, for Pete's sake!

Imagine what Disney could do if they owned all the gas stations from Bald Knob to Little Rock. The bathroom floors would likely sparkle so much one could eat off them.

Well, I take that back. The floors might be clean enough for Goofy could eat off them, but not me.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at max@maxfm.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com. Or just click the link on the front page of www.maxfm.com, the web site for The Max 93One FM.

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