All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 28, 2009
The Washington Post recently reported that some rock and roll heavyweights have demanded that their songs not be utilized in government interrogation practices at detention camps such as Guantanamo.
"A high-profile coalition of artists -- including the members of Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and the Roots -- demanded (last) Thursday that the government release the names of all the songs that were blasted since 2002 at prisoners for hours, even days, on end, to try to coerce cooperation or as a method of punishment," the Post article read.
"Music should never be used as torture," singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash (daughter of Johnny Cash) told the Post. She said she reacted with "absolute disgust" when she heard of the practice.
One former detainee told Human Rights Watch that he had been forced to listen to the rapper Eminem's song "The Real Slim Shady" for 20 days, according to the Post.
What the Post did not report is that the former detainee is now a huge Eminem fan.
Personally, Eminem's voice and persona drive me up the wall. It's like nails across the chalkboard. I've never understood the popularity of the rapper, and if I was forced to listen to his songs for 20 days straight, I'd be looking for the nearest weapon to use in putting me out of my misery.
Other songs reportedly used in the interrogation techniques included "We Are the Champions" by Queen; the theme songs for Barney and Sesame Street; "March of the Pigs" by Nine Inch Nails; the Meow Mix theme song; and Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." In my view, utilizing a song by the greatest musical artist of all time -- Mr. Bruce Springsteen -- for torture is simply un-American and deplorable.
However, I have to give the military interrogators major props for utilizing the Meow Mix theme song. That's diabolical genius!
(I can just see the detainees pulling their hair out, screaming: "Please! Make the singing cats stop! Make them stop! I'll confess! I'll confess!")
Anyway, this article got me to thinking. If I believed in torture, and I was one of these interrogators, what music would I choose?
At the top of the list: anything by Barbra Streisand.
The other day, I was browsing through the Barnes & Noble in North Little Rock, when the music department started playing her new album. Feeling an intense, almost-homicidal rage building in my gut, I decided then and there to immediately leave the store. To me, the act of listening to the vocal stylings of Streisand is comparable to sticking ice picks in both ears.
I'd get confessions out of the most hardened terrorist if I played "People" one time.
Phil Collins would also be on my list of interrogation ditties, particularly anything post-"In the Air Tonight." Slap "One More Night," "You'll Be in My Heart," or "Sussidio" on the stereo, and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll be in need of some Kaopectate in no time. The same goes for late-period Rod Stewart. How the man who went from singing such fantastic rock songs like "Every Picture Tells a Story" and "Hot Legs" to syrupy slop like "Have I Told You Lately," "The Motown Song," "Rhythm of My Heart," "Love Touch," and those atrocious collections of pop standards he's been unleashing on the world for the past five or six years is beyond me.
Folk music from the likes of Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & (God rest her soul) Mary is incredibly irritating. Reba McEntire is like the country music Barbra Streisand to me while Gloria Estefan is like the Latino music Streisand. And, of course, any torture Top 40 playlist would have to include any song by Barry Manilow, Michael Bolton, The Carpenters and Boy George's Culture Club.
It's safe and sad to say that I would be a fantastic music director for Guantanamo Radio. I'd produce more confessions than the best Grand Inquisitor ever thought about producing. I'd be the Casey Kasem of torture. Just give me the latest Britney Spears CD, and I'll save the free world!
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 21, 2009
There are many perilous activities a man can undertake.
Parachuting. Rock climbing. Bungee jumping. Going to the mall with the missus.
However, I'm convinced that one of the most dangerous and stress-inducing things a man can experience is this: teaching your 14-year-old daughter how to drive.
My adventures in giving driving lessons to my daughter began just the other day. I have to admit that as much as I love my little girl, I was still dreading the round of necessary training. You see, I once watched Hannah try to drive a little multi-terrain vehicle, and her overall ignorance of basic driving abilities that day almost caused me to release my bladder a few times. Picturing her behind the wheel of a SUV on a city road actually did cause me to release my bladder a few times.
Well, I exaggerate. But I did wear Depends for her first lesson. You know, just in case.
And that first lesson was a doozy.
Put it this way: it took about 15 tries to back out of the driveway in a direction that somewhat resembled a straight line and did not include covering a large portion of the yard.
When we finally reached asphalt and started down the street, the rhythm of her slow acceleration and braking could best be described as herky-jerky, or more appropriately, whiplash-inducing.
"Hannah," I said. "Try to be a little more smooth. And make sure you use the same foot for the gas and the brake."
That first afternoon, we made a few trips around the block, almost hitting the curb about 43 times and narrowly missing a neighborhood jogger who still has no idea how close she came to being roadkill that day.
Still, the maiden driving lesson went without major injuries or vehicular damage.
Unfortunately, her brother's kickball was the victim of a hit and run during her first attempt at backing out of the driveway the next day. I felt the back wheel roll over something, then heard a loud pop. My first instinct was "Noooo! One of the dogs just became the first victim of Hannah's driving!" Thankfully, I saw the exploded carcass of the ball instead of a peekapoo.
"Oops," Hannah remarked in a matter-of-fact manner. "Looks like I owe Hutton a new kickball."
I'm very vocal when I'm giving Hannah driving lessons.
Aside from screaming in fear a few times, I'm usually pretty calm when I'm instructing her.
"Slow down a little, babe."
"Put on your signal."
"Pull up a little closer to the stop sign."
"Stop the car so we can see if the bicyclist you just ran over is still breathing."
You know, stuff like that.
Now when I'm behind the driver's wheel, I get driving lessons from her.
"Slow down, Dad."
"Put on your signal."
"Don't clip your toenails while you're driving, Dad."
It's slightly irritating. And for the record: I only clip my toenails when I'm at a stop sign.
The lessons have been going on for a week, and I have to admit she's getting better. Backing out of the driveway has been much more smooth and straight, and her turns have been nice and even.
The problem is she's gaining too much confidence. She's already turning her head to look out the window when her eyes are on the road, and then in an instant, we're in the other lane.
And this morning, as we pulled in to stop, she slammed the vehicle into 'park' while it was still rolling. My head almost went through the windshield as the gears grinded to a halt.
In time though, she'll become the driver she needs to be.
But until then, if you see a little blonde-headed girl driving a black Suburban and me in the driver's seat, it would be wise to stay out of the way.
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 14, 2009
I've decided to purchase an Airbus A321 jet airliner.
The purchase price is somewhere around $92 million. I might have to refinance my Buick to help with some payment options on the jet, but surely my banker will help me out.
Of course, I'll have to spend about $10 million on the interior design because, hey, I'm fancy.
And this is how I picture the inside of my new jet: I'll have leather seats and sofas, obviously. Shag carpeting will not only cover the floor but also the walls and ceiling. I'll need to add some hardwood flooring somewhere because I like to clog.
Sixty-two-inch high-definition televisions will hang throughout the cabin and in the lavatory. But I will have a master bathroom with a large Jacuzzi, steam room, shower, sink, toilet and bidet. (Note: I will have to remind certain friends and relatives that the bidet is not a water fountain.)
I will also look into opening a Hooters franchise in the back of the aircraft. Those are always good to have in private jets, and their buffalo wings are fantastic.
Having such a large aircraft with a customized interior will really be neat. Think about it: at a moment's notice, I could call about twenty of my friends, and ask them to meet me at the airport. So, in about 15 minutes, we would all enter the jet, take off, and in 10 minutes, land in Jonesboro for a nice meal at Chili's!
Then, if we wanted to go to the mall, we could go shopping and purchase some nice socks at Dillard's! Then, we would get back on the jet, fly back to Batesville, and in 15 minutes be at our houses watching CSI: Miami in our new socks!
And I didn't even mention that during our flight to Jonesboro we would have a buffalo wing appetizer at my Hooter's outlet!
I've got to get to work on this!
Think of all the places I could go in my new jet! Little Rock! Hot Springs! Pine Bluff! Fayetteville! Camden!
Heck, now that I think about it, I could even fly to Dallas!
And I didn't even mention other perks I'd have with my new jet. No airport security lines. No losing luggage. No cramped seats. No one sitting next to you that smells faintly like old cream cheese.
I would automatically be a member of the "jet set" because many billionaires and celebrities own jets. John Travolta owns a jet airliner. The two geeks from Google own a jet airliner. I even bet that David Caruso from CSI: Miami owns a jet airliner.
See, if I had a jet, these folks would respect me, and we could hang.
I could call up David Caruso and ask him to get in his jet while I get in mine, and then we'd fly off, and meet in Jonesboro for lunch at Chili's!
We would likely order some baby back ribs and the Smokehouse Burger. We'd sit in a booth and talk about how cool we are in our jets. And when we wanted to make a particular important point, we'd slowly put on our sunglasses for dramatic effect like David does on CSI: Miami.
He's cool. Just look at the picture:
So, I have to get to work. My Buick has about 112,434 miles on it. I should be able to get a decent refinancing plan to help with my payments on my new jet airliner.
I wonder why more people don't do this. Are they nuts?
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
October 7, 2009
CNN talk show host Larry King is, no doubt, a broadcasting legend. Yet he is 75, and over the past few years, he’s seemed a bit out of touch.
I mean, after all, this is a guy who once interviewed the heavy metal band, Motley Crue, and fumbled with their names all through the broadcast. He even introduced the band as "The Motley Crue."
Not a big deal, I suppose, and frankly, why a bunch of aging hair metal wankers were even on Larry King Live is beyond me. Try as CNN might, attempts at making a septuagenarian seem hip usually end in embarrassment. Booking rock bands on Larry’s show are as silly as dropping the Duggar family (you know -- the Arkansas family with 47 kids) into a debauchery-stuffed episode of Rock of Love (a VH1 series that’s also known as Fun with STDs – but that’s another column).
Stuff like that doesn’t work.
But lately, Larry’s been a bit more with it than me – meaning he’s become quite the Twitterer. Twitter, for those folks who could care less about Internet communication, is a somewhat trivial little service that allows users to let other people (those who follow each particular user) know what they’re doing at a particular time.
For instance, I might "tweet" to my four or five followers that I’m getting ready to eat dinner. My followers will then get that message on their cell phone or computer.
Of course, tweets can be much more serious. I could send a tweet that my daughter’s pet monkey just ripped out part of my tongue.* My followers would instantly receive that message and, I would hope, become concerned and meet me at the emergency room.
(It’s more likely they would go back to clipping their toenails or whatever else they were doing at the time.)
Larry King has – literally — about a million more followers than me. As such, he tweets like a madman. He seems completely obsessed with this new technology. I receive tweets all the time from Larry, at all hours of the day. He tweets about his kids’ little league games. He tweets about the guest line-up for that night’s particular show.
And most of the time, he tweets some of the most mundane things.
Here, for your reading pleasure, are some Larry King tweets that best exemplify his standard Twitter output.
"The world is unfair to left handed people…"
"The Space Shuttle landed, but did the luggage make it?"
"Do people obey when someone says, ‘Stay Tuned!’??"
"My car doesn’t need a key to start…and I hate it!"
"I threw a boomerang and it has yet to come back – at what point do I give up hope?"
"If you order a bowl of soup and there’s a fly in it – well just remember the fly is not having a great day either…"
And my personal favorite:
"I don’t know why, but I don’t like short sleeve shirts."
Sigh. Some of these sound like bad jokes from a vaudeville comedian. Others sound like the slightly funny musings of a somewhat grumpy geezer.
I don’t mean to pick on Larry. I enjoy his tweets, and his Twitter output certainly eclipses mine. It’s a bit refreshing to see a man in his winter years embracing new technology to its fullest while many of his other contemporaries are still using typewriters and rotary dial phones. It goes against the presumed grain.
Plus you got to hand it to the guy. He recently and mischievously shared this tweet from supermodel and fellow broadcaster Tyra Banks after she taped an appearance on his show:
"Guess what I got Larry King to FEEL??"
It turned out to be Tyra’s scalp, but I believe randy Larry wanted his followers to think it was something else.
Why, Larry…you devilish stud.
*This will be the last pet monkey reference for the foreseeable future. Thank you and goodnight.