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September 2008

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 24, 2008

It's Thursday, September 18, 2008 as I type these words.

Knowing that, let's take a look at some of today's headlines from the Drudge Report.

Of course, the cash and credit crisis infecting banks worldwide dominates much of the space on the website. A German publication is saying United States capitalism is crumbling. Oh, let's see...here's one about Russia selling Iran missiles. Here are a few about the Palin e-mail hacking. Ummm...let's see Donald Trump is endorsing McCain. Michelle Obama is insisting one shouldn't vote for McCain simply because his running mate is 'cute.' Human breast milk is now on a restaurant menu. Biden is saying paying higher taxes is patriotic. McCain is saying...

Whooah...wait a minute. Back up.

What did I just read?

'Human breast milk is now on a restaurant menu.'

Huh? What? I think I'm gonna be sick. Let me click on that one.

The link directs me to the website of a London newspaper. Headline: 'Swiss restaurant to serve meals cooked with human breast milk.'

The owner of the Storchen restaurant in the exclusive Winterthur resort will improve his menu with local specialties such as meat stew and various soups and sauces containing at least 75 per cent of mother's milk, the story reads.

"We have all been raised on it. Why should we not include it into our diet?" Hans Locher, who has become Switzerland's most controversial restaurant owner, said.

Apparently, Hans is paying women three pounds for about 14 ounces of their milk. And, he has to mix it with whipping cream because human milk doesn't have good consistency.

All right, this is disgusting. I'm moving on. Although, it does make me wonder how a milkshake would taste with human milk. Doesn't it you? No? Okay, I'll move on.

Oh, here's a story that exemplifies how gas prices are affecting all types of businesses. Apparently, an 18-year-old Indiana drug dealer tacked on a $25 fuel surcharge when he sold undercover cops some cocaine, according to the Smoking Gun website. He was, of course, busted. Even so, I suppose every businessman is trying to ensure healthy profit margins these days -- including Scarface, Jr.

Finally, there's some highly irritating-looking movie about a talking Chihuahua hitting theatres soon. It's called Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and the preview alone was enough to make me strongly consider electroshock therapy. Of course, it's a kids' flick and will likely be a big hit, but I'd have to be dragged, fingernails scraping the asphalt, screaming and crying into the theatre to see this junk. Anyway, Drudge has a story about the lead Chihuahua being 'discovered' in a dog shelter. Sweet. Now, let's take him back to the shelter before there are any sequels. Or, just let him out on the side of the road somewhere in the country. He'll be fine.

And remember what my good friend and bowling partner, Bob Barker, always used to say: "Help control the pet population; have your pet spayed or neutered. And as for Chihuahuas, poodles and cats: it's best just to have them all put to sleep or fed to pythons."

Okay. You got me. He didn't say that last part.

***

An apology to my 12-year-old daughter, Hannah. In last week's column about our shopping trip, I mentioned the name of her friend, but not Hannah's name. It was in the original version, but somehow it was deleted from the final print copy. Apparently, Hannah wanted to see her name in print, so I apologize to Hannah for the mistake in last week's column where her name -- Hannah -- was inadvertently deleted. So, Hannah, Dad's sorry.

Oh, and Hannah, if you haven't noticed, your name -- that would be 'Hannah' -- has now appeared eight times in this column alone.

Hope that makes up for the gaffe. Hannah.

Rob is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 17, 2008

It has been said that walking through fire can truly test the inner strength of one's soul. Arduous torment, whether it be mental, physical or both, can either toughen and fortify the spirit, or it completely crumbles a man's resolve and normalcy into a million pieces.

No life is exempt from strenuous times; such periods can randomly pop up much like a summer shower that suddenly forms while the sun still beats down. However, one could argue that intentionally walking into the fire and enduring the pain might result in an even stronger soul when one emerges from the other side.

Men and women join the military knowing they will go to boot camp and, if they make it through the extreme physical and mental conditioning, will leave as soldiers. It takes a special person to willingly put themselves through such severe punishment.

A few weekends ago, I did such a thing. No, I didn't join the military, but I accepted a task that strikes fear in the hearts of many -- particularly men. The mere mention of enduring this particular event has so badly shaken the souls of some adult males to the point where, it's been noted, therapy is almost always essential.

Yet, I knew I needed to do this particular task because I believe I came to a point in my life where I needed to grow...I needed to test my mettle as a man.

You see, dear reader, a few weekends ago, I -- on my own -- took my 12-year-old daughter, and her friend, Elley...to the mall.

I'll give you a moment to pick up the paper again. It likely fell out of your hands as you fainted after you read the above paragraph.

Compose yourself. Get some cold water. There. You all right? You sure? Good.

I am certain some of you who know me personally are likely in a state of shock. This is understandable. My career on the mixed martial arts circuit notwithstanding, I'm not known for being particularly tough. The prospect of taking two tween girls to a mall for the sole purpose of shopping for clothes is extraordinarily horrifying for many fathers. Many men faced with such a job would likely, even if they were teetotalers, drink large amounts of alcohol before embarking on such an outing (taking a taxi to the mall, of course). The thought of standing in clothing store after clothing store, with loud techno music blaring, surrounded by tween and teenage girls bopping across the floor with their potential outfits in hand as they endlessly gossip about the cute boys and the mean girls is enough to make one invest in a flask full of whiskey. I, however, went into this stone cold sober.

Now, let me be clear: spending any quality alone time with my daughter (or my son) is obviously a joyful and special occasion that I treasure. It's just if I had a choice between going shopping with two 12-year-old girls, or say, taking a 25-mile hike through the desert with them, I'd likely choose the latter. As many men will attest, shopping with females is akin to having one's legs gnawed off by crocodiles.

Actually, the two hour adventure to Fayetteville's Northwest Arkansas Mall with these two was a lot of fun for me. Watching one's daughter walk through the various phases of her life (infant, toddler, silly elementary student) is, obviously, a delight and a special time to treasure. Sure, 12-year-olds are entering a phase of individuality that has no patience for unsolicited parental advice, but that's part of the process and something they'll eventually overcome. It's still fun to needle her and her friends, playing the part of the doofus dad to the hilt, and on this shopping day, I did this very well. And taking in the constant girl talk was charming. ("OK," my daughter breathlessly asked her friend as they walked down the mall, "Who's cuter? Nick Jonas or Joe Jonas?") By the time we left, with their new matching Razorback baseball hats trendily cocked aside on their heads, the smiles the girls carried made the techno music and endless Jonas Brothers chatter worth it.

Any dad who thinks such times with their daughter wouldn't be rewarding and special is nuts.

Rob is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 10, 2008

Here's the deal: I'm thinking about purchasing about two months' worth of food and supplies, a nice warm sleeping bag, and finding a big cave somewhere around Cushman. Once located, I'll move everything inside and just hang there until November 5.

Because, really, I'm already nauseated with the 2008 presidential election. I'm so bloody tired of hearing about Obama, Palin, McCain, Biden, questions of experience, big oil, how many houses one candidate owns, Tony Rezko, troop surge, off-shore drilling, George W. Bush, tire gauges, pro-choice, pro-life, anti-Obama e-mails, John Edwards' affair, Sarah Palin's supposed affair, red state, blue state, Palin's teenage daughter, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Joe Lieberman's man-love for McCain, George Clooney's man-love for Obama, and, of course, Keith Olbermann's man-love for himself.

Sure, I get this way during every election season. Politics is a ridiculous, slimy, yet necessary evil -- that's obviously not news to anyone. Slung mud along with tabloid-level gossip and innuendo are hallmarks of American campaigns. But with so many cable news outlets and endless updates from countless internet sites, the 21st Century world of politics is enough to make me throw a noose over a limb. Or at least hide in a cave.

And I'm beginning to think that it's not really the candidates themselves that are giving me that constant car-sick feeling that overwhelms me every time I log onto the internet or go channel surfing. It's the punditry, partisanship, and junior high level of discourse and action on all levels and on both sides that make my insides queasy.

From the Republicans' cries of Obama's supposed inexperience and the far right's incredibly bizarre barrage of e-mails suggesting the Democratic nominee is a radical Muslim, or the Anti-Christ or both, to the other side ridiculing Sarah Palin and their insistence on dragging her teenage daughter through the dirt as well as the far left's rally cry that McCain and Bush are both Satan incarnate -- the 2008 presidential campaign exemplifies playground politics at its finest.

Although some of my friends disagree, I've actually admired the choice of candidates this year. The past four or five elections found me holding my nose when I cast my ballot, yet this time I don't think I'll be voting for the lesser of two evils. McCain and Obama have definitive strengths with which I'm comfortable.

I've been disappointed with McCain's drastic change from a maverick who didn't give a damn what his Republican colleagues thought into a man who seems to be pandering to the far right. And, yes, as much as I've grown to like Sarah Palin over these few days, my immediate reaction to her pick as the v.p. nominee was simple shock. There are, no doubt, many more potential running mates with far more experience than her. Yet, whether it's honorable or not, I wouldn't be surprised (or disappointed) that if he is elected, the maverick side of McCain might reappear with a vengeance. In other words, he might be doing and saying anything to get elected, but once inside the White House, he might just give Washington the kick in the pants it desperately needs. And it's quite apparent that the Sarah Palin back story has infatuated many voters in a similar way Obama's back story has over this past year. She, obviously, has a similar cult, but not on the same scale -- yet. Her choice as his running mate might have been the smartest move McCain has made in the race.

I also think Obama made a smart choice in Joe Biden. No matter what you might think of the Delaware senator, he has the nuts and bolts of Washington and the complexities of diplomacy down pat. And I respect Obama for being the type of maverick McCain used to be in his party. With his slight reversals on off-shore drilling and Iraqi timetables, Obama hasn't been afraid to stray from the Democratic talking points and actually question some stances he has previously made.

But, whatever. All I know is I'm sick of the petty fringes of both parties sullying the waters with extreme and snide tactics. I'm sick of the silly far left protestors who claim to be for free speech, yet obnoxiously shut down any attempt at rational discourse. I'm sick of the ignorant racist and sexist smear campaigns mounted against both Obama and Palin, respectively. And, I'm so sick of the insufferable pompous attitudes that reek from pundits like Bill O'Reilly, Jack Cafferty, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, and God help me, Keith Olbermann. (Radio talker Phil Hendrie correctly noted that if Olbermann grew a tiny square moustache, he'd be a dead ringer in both looks and theatrical dramatic gestures for a certain World War II German leader.)

So, I'm in the market for a good cave. Nothing fancy. Just a place where I can sleep, eat and read a few books for a few weeks.

And, trust me, if it comes with cable television or internet connections, I'm not interested.

Rob is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 3, 2008

There are a few things I need to clear up.

First: I realize that the sentence above is, I believe, grammatically incorrect. Ending a sentence with a preposition has always been a no-no, I think. Honestly, I can't remember. It may be correct. It may not be. But in the interest of my peace of mind, I'm going with incorrect.

Second: This will not be a column about my recent trip to St. Louis to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. I won't be writing about the fact that the three hour and fifteen minute show was likely the best Springsteen concert I've ever seen in my entire life, and that, as I was walking outside the arena at 12:15 a.m., I felt as though I was walking on air. So, no, I won't be writing about that...the fact that this particular Springsteen show was absolutely the best Springsteen show I've ever seen. I just want to clear that up. No writing about the Bruce Springsteen show, or Mr. Springsteen himself, and the fact that he blew the roof off the Scottrade Center on Saturday night, August 23, 2008. Okay?

Next: I need to clear up the fact that I'm not upset with the person who, every weekday morning before 6 a.m., is honking their car horn outside my neighbor's house, apparently signaling the neighbor that the ride is in the driveway waiting. I'm not upset with the fact that the horn usually wakes me, and when the neighbor doesn't get in the waiting car within 15 seconds, the person starts honking again. And again. And again -- until the neighbor finally emerges from the house and enters the waiting car. Never mind the fact that the honker could simply get out of their car and go to the front door and ring the doorbell of my neighbor instead of sitting in the driveway honking every 15 seconds for 15 minutes until the neighbor exits the house. I mean, it's not like people are trying to sleep at 5:45 a.m.

So, I need to clear up the fact that I'm not angry about this early morning honking individual -- even though they wake me up every bloody weekday at 5:45 a.m.

I think it would be best if I would clear up the rumor that Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood regularly engage in vicious catfights over my affection. This is, in fact, true. The press is reporting they are fighting for the affections of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, but that's just a ruse my public relations staff has thrown to the tabloids so reporters and paparazzi will stop hounding my every move.

Have I cleared up the fact that, in this column, I will not be writing about my recent trip to St. Louis to see Bruce Springsteen and the fact that his performance on August 23, 2008 happened to be the best Springsteen concert I've ever seen? Have I cleared up that fact? Yes? I have? Okay. I simply wanted to make sure.

Where was I? Oh, I need to clear up the fact that although I was vetted by both the Obama and McCain campaigns for their respective vice-presidential slots, I refused the requests of both candidates simply because I cannot, in good conscience, serve in any administration that does not recognize we are all controlled by aliens and will soon be delivered to the planet Zonar, right after the inauguration of the 2013 presidential election, Lorenzo Lamas.

I need to clear up the fact that my psychiatrists insist I can safely be around most kitchen appliances and utensils with the exception of manual can openers. However, it's essential that I be kept away from giraffes, any 1977 model of the Chevrolet El Camino and, of course, Channel 7 meteorologist Ned Perme.

Finally, I need to clear up the fact that although Arkansas Weekly columnists are not paid for their services, I, however, pay Arkansas Weekly to print my column.

Which explains many things.

Oh, did I clear up the fact this column was not going to be about the August 23, 2008 Bruce Springsteen concert I attended in St. Louis?

Did I? Yes? Good.

Rob is the president of W.R.D. Entertainment. Feel free to e-mail him at rgmax99@yahoo.com, and check out his blog: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

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