All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
November 26, 2008
Rob will be out this week. Check back next week.
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
November 19, 2008
You'll please forgive me if I'm a little cranky today.
I'm just...oh, man...hang on. Let me take a few breaths here. Breathe, Rob. Breathe. Channel the anger. Channel the anger.
All right, I've calmed down a bit. I just...oh, man...listen, folks, I'm all in favor of the new "Welcome to Batesville" billboard that will replace the decrepit one now sitting in the curve on Ramsey Mountain. A beautiful community such as ours deserves a classy welcome sign for all our visitors.
So when I heard that Batesville residents Bud Shreve and his son, Mark, were spearheading an effort to replace the sign, I gladly contributed to the cause despite the fact that Mark held me against the wall in a headlock while his dad TOLD me I would be gladly contributing to the cause or I might wake up in some concrete boots at the bottom of the White River. It was like a scene from The Sopranos.
I kid. The Shreves are class acts; some solid folks who've contributed a lot to this community.
At least, that's what I thought of them until I saw the final design of the new sign.
Maybe you've seen it. It's a tasteful sign with the customary "Welcome to Batesville," and underneath, it reads "Home of Mark Martin."
Which is fine. But, seriously, don't you think it should read "Home of Mark Martin and Rob Grace."?
I mean, I'm sure many people think of our homegrown NASCAR legend when they think of Batesville, but I'm quite positive that many other people -- particularly all the ladies out there -- think of me, Rob Grace, when they think of Batesville.
Oh, well. Perhaps my day will come. You never know. I might become the most famous clogger in America one day. Or I might realize my longtime dream of becoming a professional cage fighter and bring glory to this community because of that.
Or I might find myself in the middle of some type of tawdry love triangle with Barbara Walters and Judge Judy and inadvertently be thrust into the scandalous spotlight, followed by paparazzi night and day. It might be tough at first, but I could probably parlay my newfound infamy into a daytime talk show like Jerry Springer's, and before you know it, everybody would realize that I, Rob Grace, was from Batesville, Arkansas.
So, since they're already getting everything ready, I think those in charge of the new sign should just save some money and go ahead and add "and Rob Grace."
Better sooner than later...
So, Bud and Mark: take care of that, will you? And while you're at it, make sure my name is lit in neon.
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
November 12, 2008
The following column was apparently written after an all night binge of Pop Tarts, Red Bull and scrambled eggs. Either that, or Mr. Grace has gone loco. We apologize in advance. -- The editors of Arkansas Weekly.
I don't know about you, but I'm sick of complaining about gas prices, pondering politics, and trying to explain the genius of a couple of singer/songwriters in this space. Redundant has become my middle name. So, this week I've decided to hold forth on a topic that might surprise some of you. You see, not many people know this, but I'm an avid outdoorsman.
I know. I know. It's likely surprising to many of you. I, Rob Grace -- a self-confessed heterosexual metrosexual who realizes the importance of regularly using moisturizers -- love me some huntin', fishin' and dippin'. In fact, I've been lobbying the editors of Arkansas Weekly to allow me space for an outdoors column. But, apparently, they're quite satisfied with my fellow columnist "The Roving Fisherman," and that's fine. He's written many wonderful articles on the great outdoors, and of course, he has passed along lots of interesting recipes (though I'll skip any dish that includes possum).
Anyway, with deer season in full gear, I thought I would pass along some thoughts about my experiences as a rough outdoorsman.
I was born in Batesville, and my father regularly took me squirrel hunting beginning when I was eight months old.
I remember being in the woods with my Tonka trucks and my hunter-orange Garanimal outfits and my 12 gauge shotgun.
I preferred to use the shotgun to kill the squirrels because at the time I liked to watch them explode off the tree limbs.
It wasn't until I was six that I used to hunt other animals: deer, duck, turkey and poodles. I also changed to smaller rifles because seeing little animals explode from shotgun blasts got old after a while.
I was a founding member of Squirrels Unlimited, and I led the monthly meetings at Kelley-Wyatt's Restaurant. I also realized that I was the only person at the Squirrels Unlimited meetings at Kelley-Wyatt's Restaurant. I basically was talking to an empty room. I did not realize this until a waitress broke the news to me and had a sheriff's deputy escort me from the property. People must not like the proper conservation plans Squirrels Unlimited sponsored. People must not like squirrels.
I like squirrels. Particularly when they are fried.
I disbanded Squirrels Unlimited after my medication was adjusted and my father threatened to send me to military school.
"But Dad," I said. "I'm 41 years old. Is there a military school for middle age men?"
"What?" he said.
"Is there a military school for middle age men?"
"Who are you?" he said.
"I'm your son."
"What?" he said.
Then the nurse arrived in his room. "Time for your sponge bath," she said.
"Oh," I said. "Well, I had a shower this morning at the house."
"No, sir," she said. "It's for your father."
"Oh," I said.
Where was I?
Oh. Anyway. My subject is hunting.
But, I'd like to take a moment to be off-subject and discuss Billy Mays.
Do you know who Billy Mays is?
He's the chubby guy with a beard who is always on television commercials screaming about great new cleaning inventions like OxiClean, Mighty Putty, Hercules Hook and AwesomeAuger.
Why does Billy Mays scream? I can hear him just fine. But this is not why I changed the subject from hunting to Billy Mays. But actually hunting does involve one reason I want to bring up Billy Mays.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go squirrel hunting with Billy Mays?
I'm not sure it would be a good hunting expedition.
Because, think of it: what if you are in the squirrel stand waiting for a big squirrel deep in the woods or in a city park when officials aren't looking and what if you're sitting there, trying to be quiet, and what if Billy Mays starts talking?
"ROB! HAVE YOU SEEN ANY SQUIRRELS YET?!? I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY! ISN'T THAT AMAZING?!?"
Do you see what I mean? Billy Mays would scare off the squirrels if you went hunting with him.
The moral of this story is do not invite Billy Mays to go squirrel hunting.
Or something like that.
Recipe of the week: Fried Poodle.
You will need one poodle. Salt, pepper, flour, milk, one egg.
Skin poodle. Batter poodle in salt, pepper, flour, milk and egg. Fry until batter is crisp.
Serve and enjoy.
Keep fur to make nice toilet lid cover.
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
November 5, 2008
The e-mails and letters keep coming -- although, with my last column on gas prices, the comments have at least been favorable.
You'll remember that my columns regarding the race for President generated quite a few negative notices. Politics divide, but when it comes to pocketbook pains, most people rally together.
Here's one from a reader in Cave City:
"As an old math teacher, it's simple proportions that show if gas were $4.00 a gallon at the pump when oil was $147 a barrel then it should have been at least close to $2.00 a gallon when the price per barrel dropped below $73.50 (which was weeks ago). And it's always amazed me that just the prospect of a hurricane in the Gulf can shoot prices up immediately, while the fall in price takes so very long. Not hard to figure out where the billions in profits that the oil companies post are coming from: our pockets!"
This brings up an important point that I feel I did not properly articulate in last week's column. Dean Baker, an independent owner of the gas station in Southside's Southern Plaza, called me to explain the manner in which he has to purchase gas basically puts him between a rock and a hard place.
He will buy a load about every three weeks from his distributor at a set price. So, for example, he recently purchased gas at $2.81 per gallon for a load at his station. But, when other area stations dropped to around $2.29, he took a big financial hit because his tanks still carried the load that cost him $2.81 a gallon. Gas stations owned by some of the distributors, however, seem to be extremely more flexible at pricing. And unfortunately, independent operators like Mr. Baker get stuck in the middle and have to pay the price for it.
But the questions remain: why are the gas stations in the Little Rock area able to charge prices drastically lower than stations in our neck of the woods when both communities utilize many of the same distributors and distribution methods? Are the distributors making up for the low prices in Little Rock by sticking it to the stations in our area?
More questions regarding another tired subject...
Is the election over yet?
You see, I have to write my column about a week in advance of its eventual publication, so as I type, I have no idea how the election has been resolved. I'm just glad it's over. (I hope it's over; a replay of 2000 would drive many folks over the edge -- myself included.)
And whether it's McCain or whether it's Obama, I simply hope a sincere desire of reconciliation and new beginnings for the good of the country is pursued and realized by whatever new administration is in the White House come next year.
I also hope the lottery amendment passed because I'm gonna win a zillion dollars and purchase a big sedan with spinners and a sticker of Calvin peeing on Bin Laden plastered on the back.
I'll be in a pimping ride when I win that sucker.
Finally, last week saw the release of Cardinology, the new album by my favorite artist besides Bruce Springsteen: Ryan (not Bryan!) Adams & the Cardinals.
As regular readers know, I shamelessly plug anything Mr. Springsteen or Mr. Adams release, so it's my duty to do so again.
Cardinology is a superb, laid back, acoustic-rock album by a band that deserves more attention and acclaim than most of the sub-par stuff that record companies unleash on listeners these days.
I heartily recommend it.