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October 2007

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 31, 2007

It shames me to admit this, but as a high school junior, I thought Purple Rain was a cinematic masterpiece.

Now, we all have skeletons in our closet when it comes to popular culture -- particularly when it involves movies and musical tastes. My best friend in junior high believed that Loverboy was going to change the world of rock and roll. At the same time in my life, I thought Hall & Oates were rock and roll trailblazers -- never mind the fact that the duo was the furthest thing from rock and roll since Pat Boone covered "Tutti Fruitti."

But Purple Rain, the overblown and incredibly dated musical odyssey through Minneapolis nightclubs featuring a diminutive, Jheri curled, eyeliner- and high heeled boot-wearing hero named "The Kid" played by the diminutive, Jheri curled, eyeliner- and high heeled boot-wearing dude named Prince, was, to me, the Citizen Kane of rock and roll movies. It had familial drama, sexy women, dynamic intrigue (if you call the rivalry between Morris "Jungle Love" Day and The Kid "dynamic" and/or full of "intrigue") and centering it all, the tortured musical genius, cryptically known only as "The Kid."

The story, for those of you fortunate enough to have missed Purple Rain, follows The Kid, raised by an overbearing father (who, as it happens, also used to be a tortured musical genius), fighting for musical respect and true love (with Apollonia, who somehow loves to perform with her girl-group clad only in tiny pieces of lingerie) in the supposedly rough and tumble world of Minneapolis music clubs.

It is, in fact, just a rehash of all the old Elvis Presley movies, only this time, instead of wearing tapered slacks and loafers, our hero wears fluffy lace and mascara.

Why my 16-year-old self fell for Purple Rain escapes me to this day. I came across it the other night on VH1 Classic, and I cringed all through it. It is a truly horrible movie. To begin with, the movie is filled with enormous space-age perms that only Marie Osmond can get away with wearing these days, all types of neon eye shadow, and acting that would make a Paris Hilton performance look like one delivered by Meryl Streep . Prince's acting simply consists of whipping his mullet perm around to face the camera and giving some type of ridiculous, supposedly emotional look to his particular acting partner. Happiness, anger, or melancholy -- it's all in the whip of the head and the look in those mascara-lined eyes.

Sean Penn: eat your heart out.

The climax of the movie features The Kid performing a composition by his father that he discovered after his dad attempts suicide. The name of that composition? You guessed it: "Purple Rain."

While our tiny hero performs the ballad -- and cements himself as a Minneapolis musical genius, all in the crowded club begin to slowly sway, hands in the air, to the anthem. It is, to be clear, a moment of pure cheese.

Yet, when I was 16 and in anguish over my first instance of puppy love gone awry, Purple Rain touched everything that was in my broken little heart. I mean, after all, I only wanted to see my long-gone sweetheart dancing with me in the purple rain -- whatever that was.

The fourth or fifth time I went to see Purple Rain, I took my two best friends to it. Hoping they could sense how this magical musical poem related to my heartbroken situation, I sat excited beside them in the crowded Little Rock theatre. And when the big musical climax finally arrived I slowly and emotionally turned to them in the hope of seeing tears in their eyes, and yet I only saw two guys standing in the theatre with big goofy grins on their face, sarcastically swaying along to "Purple Rain."

They were making fun of my emotional touchstone. How dare they!

"This is serious!" I half whispered, half screamed. "This is a serious part of the movie!"

They only kept swaying and kept laughing.

"You guys are jerks! This is Prince!"

Re-watching -- or, rather -- suffering through Purple Rain again the other night, I realized how far ahead my high school pals were in terms of maturity. I've always thought of myself as a late bloomer, but this solidified it. I was an idiot to ever take such nonsense seriously.

Now, the emotional significance of Footloose...that's another story.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at, and check out his blog:

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 24, 2007

Pictured above is Ginger Johnson. Ginger is the office manager here at W.R.D. Entertainment. Some of you might know her as "Office Lady Ginger" from her occasional guest stints on one of the radio stations.

The little black furry thing Ginger is holding is her new puppy. It is a poodle. The poodle's name is Sophie Elizabeth.

The poodle has a middle name. Cute.

Anyway, I'm quite sure I read in National Geographic or Time or Grit or some magazine that poodles are actually giant rats with perms. They are actually rodents with a fancy hairstyle. Scientists have also discovered a genetic link in male poodles to the DNA of Liberace. Seriously. (I know I read that in Grit.)

Ginger purchased Sophie a few weeks ago, and for some reason I have yet to fully figure out, she brings her to work in a little cage about the size of a toolbox. Apparently, Office Lady Ginger believes that Sophie will undergo some sort of major, life-changing, traumatic event if the puppy is left alone at the Johnson household.

Yet I believe if Sophie continues to be brought to the office, and if Ginger continues to let her out of the cage and walk around the halls, then there is the strong possibility that the poodle will not only suffer some horrible event, but will also become hallway road kill.

The thing is, literally, the size of a large rat. If someone is zipping around the corner and makes the wrong step, then it's yelp/squish/crunch (in no particular order) and suddenly Sophie's on the 3:10 to poodle heaven.

It's better when Ginger carries Sophie around the office next to her chest, like she is doing in the picture. Yes, it does look like our office manager is a Bond villain, walking around cradling the poodle like the bald baddie with the white cat in so many Sean Connery adventures. But, it's still preferable to seeing something furry, black and red smashed flat on the W.R.D. Entertainment carpet.

* * *

Ginger has always believed her dogs can understand every word she says to them. So, today, when Sophie urinated all over Ginger's desk and papers, we can assume that the poodle heard her master say, "Bad girl! Bad girl!" and understood this to mean it was bad for her to relieve herself on our monthly sales reports.

A few days ago Ginger was holding Sophie in my office, and I had to break the news to her that dogs, particularly a puppy who has only been on this planet for one month, do not understand English or any other language.

"Oh, Sophie Elizabeth does," said Ginger with a cheerful smile and giggle. "Don't you Sophie?"

I shook my head.

"Something's not right with you, Ginger," I said.

"Oh no. Sophie understands. She's smart! I can even say 'Time to potty,' and she'll potty."

And, I kid you not, at that moment, Sophie let loose all down Ginger's blouse.

Then and there, I realized that Ginger must be a long lost descendant of the Dolittle clan.

* * *

If you couldn't tell from the beginning of this column, I'm not fond of poodles. They are so pampered, and they strut around with their little bows and painted claws. They act as if they're too good for the mutt or the Labrador or the simple old birddog. Poodles are the Paris Hiltons of the canine crowd.

I like to tell Ginger that one day I'm going to bring a large boa constrictor to work. Ginger would walk into her office, see Sophie's cage door open, and then notice the big reptile stretched out on the desk with a lump about the size of...well, a small poodle right in the middle of his body.

Of course, I'd really be hiding Sophie while all this unfolded.

The lump would simply be another poodle I found somewhere.

Did I mention I'm not fond of poodles?

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at, and check out his blog:

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 17, 2007

By now, the outcome of the Auburn/Arkansas game will be known.

It's the day before the game as I type this, and Wally Hall says in the morning paper the Hogs will be victorious. I've never been a gambler, despite my attempt to grow a beard like Kenny Rogers, but my money at our press time is on Auburn.

Of course, regular readers of this column would have already come to this conclusion. I've never been a Nutt supporter -- eh, let me rephrase that -- I've never been a supporter of Nutt.

First time I laid eyes on the man, he made me think of a pushy door-to-door salesman. I'd like to believe he'd also be fantastic as a telemarketer.

"Ma'am, let me tell ya, the interest rate for this card is terrific! Terrific! Only 25.5%! That's terrific! Gonna be great for your finances. Great!"

Anyway, I'm all for Houston Nutt jokes. So, here are a few that were e-mailed to me this past week.

Q: What do you call two millionaires sitting around a TV watching the Bowl Championship Series bowl game?


A: The Arkansas Razorbacks coaching staff.


Q: What do you call an Arkansas coach with a BCS National Championship Bowl ring?


A: A thief.


Q: How do you keep an Arkansas Razorbacks coach out of your yard?


A: Put up goal posts, a first down marker or an end zone.


Q: What do the Arkansas Razorbacks coaching staff and possums have in common?


A: Both play dead at home and get killed on the road.

And, finally...

Q: Why was Houston Nutt upset when the Razorbacks playbook was stolen?


A: Because he hadn't finished coloring it.

* * *

Actually, I don't mean to be so harsh on the coach. I have more things to worry about than college athletics. People who don't have more things to worry about go online and create websites such as where many of the anti-Nutt Razorback fans posting comments come off as racist morons. Or they come up with jokes like the ones mentioned.

* * *

As I noted, it's Friday as I write. October 12. And, here are some of the headlines that greeted me this morning on the Internet.

In Times Square yesterday, a seemingly normal young man (a graduate of Yale, no less) decided to take off all of his clothes and go for a walk buck naked. He even tried to enter a nearby Olive Garden where he was denied entry for obviously not adhering to their dress code. New York's finest finally caught up with the man and took him to the nearest mental health facility.

One man who should most definitely be taken to the nearest mental health facility is an Austrian man named Stelios Arcadious. Stelios is a performance artist -- which, in itself, should start sounding alarm bells -- who convinced a surgeon to implant an ear into his forearm. The ear was grown in a lab from cells and implanted into the artist's arm last year, according to London's Daily Mail.

Pictures of the artist and his third ear accompanied the Internet article, and let's just say this: yuck.

Stelios plans to have surgeons install a tiny microphone into the new ear so people can hear what his new arm-ear is hearing.

These are just two more reminders that there are people on this planet who are actually a bit more insane than your loyal scribe.

October 12 is also my daughter's birthday. Happy birthday little woman! Mom and dad love you dearly...even though I still haven't gotten over your harsh critique of dad's new jet-black hair color. Honestly, I don't think going from white to a color comparable to tar is that harsh of a transition. Yes, perhaps the eyebrows do look as if they have been applied with a black magic marker, but still...

Anyway, happy birthday -- I love you, Dad.

P.S.: Be nice to your little brother.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at, and check out his blog:

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 10, 2007

The following column appeared in the July 31, 2002 issue of Arkansas Weekly. Since it's been over five years, I thought I would run it again with an update of some thoughts I introduced in the piece. I've also made a few edits from the original. The update follows the column.

There is a point in every man's life where youth becomes a memory.

In the teen years, mortality is a foreign word. Aging is a thing one longs for, yet it feels like something that will never occur. For me, 21 could not come soon enough.

In the twenties, there's a sense of thankfulness that the thirties and forties are still a few years away. Poking fun at a relative or friend approaching 40 or 50 is still considered a joyous, gleeful pastime, and with the exception of seriously beginning a career or family, responsibility is still a rarely used word.

Then, when a man passes age 30, the realization of just how short life is begins to knick away at that concrete feeling of immortality that went unappreciated all the years before.

For me, the realization was subtle. I'd find a movie on television, and while watching it, I would think: wow, this came out in 1992...oh, wow...that was 10 years ago when I was...25...wait...that can't be...that was not that long ago...and if that did not seem that long ago...then...10 years from NOW will not seem that long...and in 10 years, I'll be...45...and then, in another 10 years, I'll be 55!

So, if you realize that in ten short years that you'll be 45, then you will start to notice other things, like crow's feet, white hair, saggy breasts (I'm talking about men, not women), pains in your shoulder or chest, and a sudden and newfound appreciation of Frank Sinatra.

And, of course, all of this is happening to me at a rapid rate.

(Well, I'd like to think my chest is not sagging too much -- I try to do at least 20 push ups a day...or, well, maybe...20 push ups a week to help with that part of the body.)

Then, there's the matter of my weight. Or, my seemingly non-stop accumulation of weight.

Now, I can safely say I've been wearing pants with a 34-inch waistline for about the past five years, and that's something of which a guy my age and size can be proud. But, my problem is the fact that the 20 to 30 pounds I've gained since college have all settled in the section of my belly that fits over the waistline.

A few pounds have also slipped into my cheeks and chin. I used to vainly treasure my thin face and prominent cheekbones, yet now, my weight has only inflated my head to resemble the circumference of a large round melon.

All of this has done nothing but squash what little ego I possessed.

And, you know things are really bad when you are consistently mistaken for your father. I cannot remember how many times this has happened, but I don't exaggerate when I say it's been regularly occurring about once or twice a month for the past year.

My father is 30 years older than me.


Of course, my father regularly exercises, and I do not. I stopped when our first child was born. Before the birth of our daughter, I was jogging two to three miles about every afternoon. I quickly relieved myself of that habit when the combination of work and chasing kids drove me to the couch at the end of every night.

Let's add to the lethargy the fact that I love food -- mainly fatty foods that do nothing but clog and line my arteries with gunk.

And so, what am I at the age of 35? A chubby, lazy white-headed chump often mistaken for a senior citizen.

So, if I currently look 30 years older than my actual age, will this mean that I'll look 95 when I hit 65?

Turning all of this over in my head has left me with the feeling that time really isn't the enemy I should be cursing.

The main enemy of my physical decline is me.

* * *

I bought a motorcycle the other day.

Well, actually, that's not exactly true. It's not really a motorcycle -- although it is a cycle, and it has a motor.

But, it's more commonly referred to as a...motor scooter.

Yes, I know, most men buy souped-up Harleys with bazooka mufflers when they hit middle age.

But I have a gentle spirit, and the 40 m.p.h. offered by my motor scooter gives me all the taste of the wild life I need.

Besides, if I ever straddled a Harley, I would probably drive out of control off the White River bridge in a textbook example of why silver-haired, pot-bellied geeks should never buy a motorcycle.

So, I bought a motor scooter. A blue and white retro-looking Honda Metropolitan. And, it's a lot of fun.

Yes, perhaps you've seen me on the streets of Batesville. Sometimes when I cruise the road on this finely-tuned mother of all motor scooters, I'll have my do-rag tight around my head, my reflective sunglasses covering my steely glare, and my black leather chaps fastened snugly around my taut 501s.

Well, again, that's not exactly true.

I really look like a camel on the thing with my long, spindly legs perched underneath the handlebars while I stoop over the gauges, my second chin flapping in the wind. But, let me say something brothers and sisters, when that needle hits 40 m.p.h., the only thing on my mind is the total domination I have of the road.

I am so in awe of the sheer force and power of this machine that I'm thinking of joining the B.U.B.B.A.s -- the Butt-Ugly Bikers of Batesville, Arkansas.

Oh, sure -- these grizzled veterans of the road might laugh when I pull in front of the B.U.B.B.A. Hut, their hangout toward Cushman.

But, if Pork-Chop, T-Bone, or any of the other bikers that make up this club, ever straddled my Metropolitan and felt the dangerous purr of its engine, I would have a newfound respect that would instantly place me alongside these brothers of the road.

Middle age crazy?

I think not.

How about middle age cool?


UPDATE: I vividly remember writing this column, so re-reading it five years later only solidifies my thoughts that time moves like a turbo-charged 1978 Pontiac Trans-Am let loose on the Autobahn.

Let me follow up on some of the things introduced in this piece. First, I've actually lost some weight. A year after I wrote this column, I had to toss all my 34-inch jeans and pants and move up to a 36. But after my health scare earlier this year, I managed to drop 10 to 15 pounds. I've also started exercising again with walks and jogs and an occasional set of push-ups and sit-ups. And if one wanted to put money on it, I bet I could bench press -- drum roll, please -- a massive 85 pounds. am a weight-lifting MONSTER!

I am sad to report, however, that I am no longer the proud owner of a Honda motor scooter. After a few years of gathering dust, I sold it to someone for whom it is more appropriate: a woman.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at, and check out his blog:

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 3, 2007

Something you need to know before we continue this week: I am not a sports fanatic.

Yes, I lust after the chance to head to Busch Stadium and catch a few St. Louis Cardinals games now and then. Yep, I do enjoy an occasional NBA match-up over at the FedEx Forum in Memphis from time to time. And sure, I thoroughly and occasionally enjoy watching a few boxing matches with a group of folks.

But the first portion of the newspaper I pull out every morning isn't the Sports -- it's the Arkansas section. My first radio pre-set is dedicated to Classic Rock 93 KZLE, not ESPN 1340 AM (it is, however, first on my AM pre-sets). And if someone held a gun to my head, I still could not tell you what the role of a "fullback" is in the game of football.

That said, I still think it's beyond obvious that Houston Nutt, the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, should be history.

Of course, I said this last year during his handling of the Mitch Mustain/Gus Malzahn fiasco. Sure, I think the parents of the Springdale High School crew that the Hogs recruited could have handled the situation in a more professional and mature manner (going to Broyles to complain about Nutt was a completely nonsensical and illogical move), but still: Nutt's handling of the top high school quarterback in America and his respected mentor was a shining example of arrogance.

Now, in 2007, with one of the most respected running backs in the history -- let me emphasize that word: HISTORY -- of college football at his disposal, Nutt's poor coaching skills are more prevalent than ever.

The game against the University of Kentucky certainly showcased his mediocrity. For example, the two personal fouls from Arkansas were not simply the fault of overzealous thugs on the Razorback side. In the real world, a true head coach and his staff would have instilled in their team the respect and pride of ensuring the game of football is played within the boundaries of long-standing rules.

And speaking of pride: I really believe that if we lost every game from this week forward, Nutt still would not have the guts to resign. And Broyles, in his lame duck weeks as the University of Arkansas' athletic director, still would not fire him.

It's almost as if Nutt could drunkenly get behind the wheel of a school bus and run down a group of elderly women in wheelchairs, and still, he would not resign or get fired.

It's almost as if Nutt has something on Broyles. It's almost as if Nutt has something on the board of trustees at the university. It's almost as if Nutt has complete reign on the systematic destruction of the football program at Fayetteville.

Yet, of course, it could also be as simple as pride.

Pride on the part of Nutt.

Pride on the part of Broyles.

Perhaps no one up in Fayetteville can admit to making a simple mistake: the continuing support of a less than middling coach.

The firing of Coach Stan Heath was a disgrace. The continuing support of Nutt is simply silly.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the kicker: in the scheme of things, it doesn't matter one iota. Houston Nutt is the highest paid state employee in Arkansas -- which is shameful. And, I've just wasted over 600 words over his mishandling of an athletic program that rakes in more donations and attention than that of the education program offered by the University of Arkansas.

Meaning that the teachers and the educational administrators of Arkansas deserve more attention, more money, more resources than the football team.

The future of our state and our communities rests on the shoulders of those who have the desire and the fire to positively guide our youth. Yet, Houston Nutt sucks in dollars galore while our school systems struggle to cultivate the children of Arkansas to prepare them for a better future.

So, in the end, who gives a poop about Houston Nutt and what I think about him?

The real problem isn't a below-average football coach.

The real problem is our priorities.

* * *

Well, look at me. Look at my little sermon I've written this week. Aren't I special?

Actually, I didn't mean to be so serious and self-righteous. Heck, I enjoy watching the Razorbacks. There's just something about Nutt that has always rubbed me the wrong way. He comes across as somewhat cocky and simplistic.

Sort of like, well, me.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I identify with Nutt's personality too much. Maybe we're cut from the same cloth.


Is there a therapist in the house?

* * *

Finally this week, I would like to send out some belated condolences to the family of Ben Earls.

The Batesville Daily Guard delivered a wonderful tribute to this upstanding citizen a week or so back, and I can only echo the sentiments that were highlighted in that well-written and very touching piece.

I went to junior high and high school with Ben's sons, Ben, Jr. and Brian, and I genuinely looked forward to seeing them every day at school. If a man's sons are indicative of the father himself, I can tell you without hesitation that Ben Earls, Sr. was a true and fine gentleman.

Batesville will miss him.

Rob Grace is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment -- although we are reluctant to admit that. Feel free to e-mail him at, and check out his blog:


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