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September 2007

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 26, 2007

Allow me to introduce you to Willy and Dave.

Willy and Dave are freshmen at colleges that are about an hour apart from each other in central Arkansas. Childhood friends, they also played football together at an area school and both are continuing to follow their gridiron dreams into the collegiate level.

It's fair to say the transition from being cared for to having to take care of themselves has been somewhat rocky for our two heroes. Once, during the first week or two of school, Dave came down with a cold. So, doing what had come naturally all of his life, he called his mom.

"Mom," he said. "I have a cold."

"Okay," she said. "Just get yourself a nasal decongestant."


"You need to go and get a decongestant, honey."

"Uhhh...what's a decongestant?"

His mom sighed and said: "Honey, it's medicine that will clear all of the junk in your nose and head. Helps you breathe better."

"Huh?" A pause. "Oh." Another pause. "Uhhh...where can I get this...uhhh...decongestant?"

"Honey," she said. "Just go to a pharmacy or Wal-Mart."

"Huh?" A pause. "Oh."

It was conversations such as this one that sometimes gave Dave's mother pause. Not three weeks into college, and he had to have his mother tell him the basics of buying cold medicine.

It was, she thought, going to be a long four years.

So, dear reader, keep in mind what we're dealing with as I tell you the following story.

Since they became college freshmen, Willy and Dave decided to start a tradition. Every Wednesday night, Dave would get away from his smelly, messy dorm and drive over to his buddy's college town to have the "All You Can Eat Shrimp" at a local restaurant. Then, after devouring dinner, they would go spend the night hanging out at Willy's ultra-nice apartment until sleep called.

Yet, there was only one bed in Willy's place, so Dave had to sleep on the floor. And, the floor was not a comfy place to sleep. That's when they decided to go and purchase a king size air mattress. They brought the mattress back to the apartment, ripped open the box, and stared at it for a moment.

"Uhhh," one said to the other. "How do we get the air in it?"

A pause.

"Uhhh," said Dave. "I guess I could blow it up."

A pause.

"Uhhh," said Willy. "Okay."

Dave pulled open the air plug, put it to his lips and started blowing up the mattress.

Thirty minutes later, an exhausted Dave gave up. The mattress was not even halfway full of air.

"This sucks," he said. "There's gotta be a better way to blow this thing up."

A pause.

"Hey," he said. "Why don't we take the air mattress to my truck, start the engine, and hook the mattress up to the tail pipe? Then, it'll fill up really quick."

Now, dear reader, it's time for us take a pause.

Because although you might think I'm pulling your leg at this point, I can assure you I am not.

This is a true story. These two college freshmen actually thought one could hook the air plug of an air mattress to the exhaust of a pick up truck, rev the engine and have the carbon monoxide inflate the makeshift bed.

When they got to the truck, they realized the air plug on the air mattress was much smaller than the tail pipe.

"Uhhh," one of them pondered aloud. "How do we hook it up to the pipe?"

They slowly looked down to the air plug. Then they slowly looked to the exhaust.

"Uhhh," one of them said. "I think we just need to keep blowing it up with our lips."

They turned around and walked back into the apartment with the limp mattress.

It's unknown if they ever managed to manually blow it up. It's also unknown if they ever figured out that, for a price less than the "All You Can Eat Shrimp" platter, most stores sell tiny little gadgets that can inflate air mattresses in a matter of minutes.

They're located a few aisles over from the nasal decongestants.

* * *

My playlist this week. Download these songs for your audible entertainment.

"Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup)" -- Mick Jagger. Back in 1973, John Lennon was kicked out of the house by Yoko Ono. So, he hopped a jet to L.A. to hang out with Alice Cooper, Harry Nilsson, David Bowie and others. He also did some recording with these folks. This cut, an old Willie Dixon song, came from a session he produced with Jagger on lead vocals and Nilsson singing back-up. The quality of the recording is a little rough, but it carries a funky, very 1970s vibe with an amazing sax solo by Stones sideman Bobby Keys. One can easily picture a young Mick performing this song in a white polyester bell-bottomed outfit boogying away in rhinestone platform shoes on Soul Train circa 1973. The official release will come Oct. 2 on the compilation album The Very Best of Mick Jagger.

"Dance All Night" -- Ryan Adams. Look, Springsteen will always be numero uno in my book, but Adams is my new musical obsession. His talent boggles my mind along with his ability to jump from steel guitar infused, tear-in-my-beer country to straight ahead solid rock. This tune -- from disc two of his finest work, Cold Roses -- is a breezy and infectious song about a woman finally finding true love. If "Dance All Night" doesn't put a smile on your face, then it's Lithium time for you friend.

(And yes, it's RYAN, not BRYAN Adams.)

"War Pigs" -- Cake. The alt-funk-rap-rock band covers the Black Sabbath classic on the new collection, B-Sides and Rarities. It'll make headbangers and too-sardonic-for-their-own-good hipsters unite in metal delight.

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:

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 19, 2007

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking: Rob, since you're such a handsome and dapper young man, why don't you write a column answering submitted questions about style?

Readers, your prayers have been answered.


Dear Rob,


My wife says I should always wear a belt that is the same color as my shoes. But I wear my shirt untucked many days, so the color of the belt cannot be seen. I say matching belt/shoes doesn't matter then, yet she says it does. What should I do?




Confused in Cave City

Dear Confused,

Obviously, if you are wearing something like orange shoes, you do not need to wear an orange belt unless you're going for a mid-80s breakdancing look that only I or El DeBarge can pull off. Yet, I do understand what your wife is saying. You would not want to wear a black belt with brown shoes. And even if you do wear your shirts untucked, you still need to match. It just feels right to know everything is properly in sync. An example: I always wear underwear that matches my socks. If I'm wearing purple underwear, I'm wearing purple socks. If I'm wearing my SpongeBob underwear, I'm wearing my SpongeBob socks. Now, this does bring up another conundrum: aren't your socks supposed to match your outerwear? However, that is a question for another column.

Dear Rob,


I saw you recently at a local grocery store, and I quite admired your outfit. You were clad in a green mesh t-shirt; purple short shorts; neon yellow tube socks; black vinyl zip-up ankle boots; a sun visor; various gold chains; and those large black glasses that some elderly people wear after cataract surgery. How can I pull something like that off?




A Diaz Admirer

Dear Diaz Admirer,

First, thank you. It's a blessing to know that my personal style on that particular day brought a smile to your soul.

However, I vividly remember the afternoon I wore that outfit. After I left the grocery store, I went down to the quik mart/car wash on Chaney Drive and sat on the hood of my refurbished 1984 Chevrolet Citation while blasting my favorite Helen Reddy cassette from the car stereo.

All was right with the world.

Until a band of about seven thugs pulled up in an old Dodge pick-up truck and beat the living phooey out of me with tire irons.

But I will say this. As I recovered in the hospital emergency room, still in my bloody clothes, I remembered that I was wearing my pair of neon yellow briefs to match my neon yellow tube socks. And as the doctors sewed me up and placed my left eye back in its socket, I still knew I was stylish.

So, go for it! Just stay away from quik marts.

Dear Rob,


My girlfriend says linen can be worn after Labor Day even though my mother always told me that linen should only be worn from Easter to Labor Day. Help!




Linen Lover from Newport

Dear Linen Lover,

Hello? In what manure-filled barn was your girlfriend born? Linen after Labor Day is a huge fashion no-no! Just ask Kid Rock. At the recent MTV Video Music Awards (held after Labor Day), the rap rock star was taunted by heavy metal drummer Tommy Lee for wearing a linen Western shirt. The argument became so heated that fists flew and both men were escorted from the ceremony.

So, take it from Tommy Lee and me: post Labor Day linen is a no-go!

And get a new girlfriend!


Dear Rob,


I know you have recently been sporting facial hair, but I have problems growing a full beard. Any suggestions?




Beardless in Batesville

Dear Beardless,

Actually, I shaved over the weekend because our receptionist at work said it looked horrible. (I held my tongue regarding her desperate need for electrolysis above her lip and on that hideous golf ball-sized mole on her cheek. Yet, such is life.)

I must admit, however, that one reason I looked a tad scruffy was because I, too, cannot grow a full beard.

There is hope, though.

Newsweek magazine recently reported that some men who can't successfully grow a beard are having hair grafts from their scalp and back implanted on their face. My problem is that I don't have hair on my back, and I'm sure not messing with my full head of thick, gorgeous hair. So, I've put in a call to my little sister.

She has a forest of reddish blond hair on her back, and I know she would want to have all of those follicles surgically scraped off.

The next time you see me, I'm finally going to look like Kenny Loggins circa 1978 -- and it will all be thanks to a team of surgeons and my wonderful little orangutan of a sister, Mollie.

Until then, stay stylish!

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:

One Headlight
by T. Blanston Jr.
September 12, 2007

Greetings to all from Rancho Paradiso, my beautiful villa on the shores of the gorgeous Loch Greers Ferry.

It's been a while since I've entertained you with the phenomenal adventures from my life that is, without a doubt, more exciting than yours. But then, that's why I have such a large fan base: the men want to vicariously live through my extremely envious life; the kids want to grow up to be like me; and the women, of course, simply want to marry me.

So, it is my duty to please you all with my written word.

Grace, the punk who usually writes in this space, is off this week (again). Someone mentioned he's having some digestive issues that came about when he drank about nine Red Bulls and mixed that with some oysters he found in an abandoned box by the side of the road near Diaz. Apparently, he was walking home after a hard night on Front St. in Newport, forgetting that he had parked his vehicle inside someone's home.

But that's just the scuttlebutt around the Batesville office. Don't tell anyone.

Anyway, the past few months have been fabulous.

In March, many of you may have heard that I went on tour with country sensation Carrie Underwood. Now, I'm not really into country music (it's been that way since I ended my relationship with Shania Twain back in 1996), but once Carrie and I laid eyes on each other I knew that it was my destiny to be with this woman -- if only for three weeks. During the tour, her soothing country ballads and my mix of death metal, gangsta rap, and bluegrass mesmerized audiences across the country. Musical magic doesn't come along often, yet our co-headlining tour was an exception.

But in April, I realized my attention was moving away from Carrie and toward Waffle House. I have always been delighted with Waffle House's delectable dishes such as the Waffle Stack Extreme, a health-conscious concoction with six waffles covered in cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, sliced Slim Jims, grilled onions, bacon, American cheese, six fried eggs, grits, tater tots, oatmeal, ice cream, six sausage links, hash browns, a slice of Spam, and tuna fish salad. Or then there's the Sausage Patty Meltdown: ten sausage patties stacked high and saturated in cheese, onion rings, cream gravy, brown gravy, chicken broth, mashed potatoes, deviled ham, sour cream, chocolate yogurt, and then completely fried in a thick, chunky batter. Or, finally, there's my personal favorite that's not on the menu: a big bowl of five scoops of pure lard smothered in butterscotch syrup. Yum.

My passion for the Waffle House cuisine prompted a vicious month-long battle for ownership of the popular restaurant chain. Apparently the owners were not satisfied with my initial offer of $1,000,000 and a VHS box set of classic Lawrence Welk episodes. So, I upped the ante and threw in a gift certificate to Orange Julius that I found in my vast collection of assets. Still -- no dice.

So, I then entertained the idea of simply beginning a new chain of waffle eateries and building one beside each Waffle House in America. First: I had to come up with a name for my new restaurant chain. My first choice, Waffle Home, sounded too bland. I thought my second choice, Waffle Condo, was the keeper until someone told me that if a vandal painted an "m" after the "o," we'd have problems. I agreed. So, I decided that Waffle Apartment was the name of my new chain that would bring Waffle House to its knees.

Next, I went to work on my financing arrangements and my business plan. After weeks of planning and crunching numbers, I realized the amount to build a Waffle Apartment next to every Waffle House in America would be close to $980,000,000.

This, I told myself, was not a feasible plan.

So, as of this writing, I have a proposal into Warren Buffett asking for his help in financing my ingenious scheme to dominate the world of waffles.

Warren, you know my cell number.

Onto other things about my summer that I know you want to know...

Yes...that was me whupping some butt in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Close friends know that I've been a cage fighter extraordinaire since I dallied in Thailand kickboxing matches back in the early `90s. I've never been comfortable with the commercialization of cage fighting, and the televised matches do nothing but exploit a sport that, at its heart, is a gentle and wonderful reminder that men can beat the living crap out of one another in a ring surrounded by a fence. But the money was too good to pass up.

In July, after my UFC matches ended and I realized most of my teeth were missing, I had extensive dental surgery. To recover, I went to the lovely resort town of Camden, Arkansas. There, I decided to mount a one-man show to highlight my skills as a solo interpretive dancer. Utilizing the song canon of Dionne Warwick, I delighted local audiences with my smooth dance moves and my impressive array of one piece spandex-based costumes.

Opening night went well, yet after I went to the local Waffle House for an after-party things took a turn for the worse. Entering the restaurant, still clad in my gold spandex unitard from the finale, I was attacked by five truckers who were apparently jealous of how smashing I looked in my outfit.

My new set of teeth fell out of my mouth, and a Waffle Stack Extreme as well as large amounts of my own blood simply ruined my costume. Nevertheless, I still made the point of going back into the restaurant and ordering my scoops of butterscotch-covered lard.

And it was then, as I sat eating the delicious spoonfuls of pure animal fat, that I realized that no matter what happens, no one can shatter my dreams of becoming the only waffle magnate/UFC champion/solo interpretive dancer in the world.

It is, after all, the reason I was put on this nutty little planet called Earth.

Until next time, stay tantalizing.

T. Blanston Jr. is filling in for Rob Grace this week. Check back next week for more exciting adventures. Hopefully he'll be over his Red Bull overdose.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 5, 2007

The whiskers are back, and my grandmother is not happy.

"Are you growing a beard?!?" she asked me the other day.

"Umm...I don't know..."

I had just returned to town after a week and basically threw away my razor during that time.

"Why would you want to grow a BEARD?!?" she asked me. "Why would you want to cover up that beautiful face?!?"

Now, I only mention that because she is my grandmother, after all. Her little Robbie is like a young George Hamilton in her eyes: thin, tan and Hollywood gorgeous.

Never mind the fact that I'm the opposite of a young George Hamilton. I look more like a Marty Allen type of guy. (Marty Allen, for those younger than me, was a Vegas comedian. Do a Google Image search on him, and you'll see what I mean about Allen being the opposite of George Hamilton.)

Back to my grandmother...

"I just think beards are so ugly," she said.

"I'm probably going to shave it soon," I said.

"Well, I hope so. Don't know why you'd want to cover up that beautiful face."

My little sister saw the whiskers as well that afternoon.

"Are you growing a beard?" she asked in a tone that sounded more like You're kidding, right?

"No," I said with a sigh, "I'm only taking a break from the razor for a few days."

"It's red. That's weird."

At this point in the conversation I wanted to say, Well if you would have read my column from a month or so ago, you would have realized that, though I have had silver hair since I shaved my head, my facial whiskers have always been somewhat red. But then, you don't read my column, do you little sister? Only our mother reads this column along with a few area English teachers who use it as a device to teach students how NOT to write.

Oh, woe is me.

* * *

By now, the Lucero Family Picnic will have come and gone.

Lucero, for those who don't know, is a nationally known, Memphis-based rock band with an enormous following in this area. They're extremely talented and also very nice guys. Steve Thomas, the man behind Batesville Promotions, told me that tickets for the event have been sold to folks from Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, California, Canada -- even Rome, Italy (!). If all goes well, the event will bring the Batesville area lots of tourism cash, will hopefully become an annual event, and will expose a lot of folks to this beautiful area we call home. I'm hoping that I'll be able to meet the folks from Rome. I'll show Ôem a good time in Batesville...maybe take Ôem to the Moose.

* * *

Everybody knows Darren McFadden, correct?

The Razorback running back and Heisman favorite is the Big Man on Campus up in Fayetteville, and one would think that he would like to keep a low profile.

So, it came as a shock the other day to see D-Mac cruising down Fayetteville's Joyce Boulevard in his Razorback red Mercury Grand Marquis. The thing is I don't know what shocked me the most: the D-Mac license plate on the front of the car, or the fact that the Grand Marquis -- a grandmother favorite if there ever was one -- was mounted on monster truck tires.

Not the huge monster truck tires, but tires big enough to keep the vehicle about four or five feet off the ground.

So, the next time you're in Fayetteville, be on the lookout for that car. It's not a senior citizen trying out for the next Monster Truck championship.

It's only D-Mac.

* * *

Now, for all the music folks out there, here's this week's playlist from yours truly -- songs I've been listening to for the past week or two. Download some of these and enjoy..."Radio Nowhere" -- Bruce Springsteen, from his upcoming CD, Magic. It sounds as if Bruce has been listening to some Pearl Jam -- and that's a good thing.

Cold Roses, disc one -- Ryan Adams. A two-year-old double album, disc one of Roses would have been more than enough. This single disc would have made the CD the best album by any artist in three or four years. Magnificent musical and lyrical craftsmanship.

"Silver Lining," "The Moneymaker," "Under the Blacklight," and "Give a Little Love," from Under the Blacklight by Rilo Kiley. I usually approach much-hyped bands with a bit of skepticism, but download these four songs from the California-based band's latest CD, and you'll realize the hype is justified.

Rob Grace is president of W.R.D. Entertainment, Inc. Feel free to e-mail him: And visit his blog this week for his thoughts on the Sen. Craig scandal, new music, and other stuff by logging on to this website:

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at You can view Rob's blog at


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