All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 30, 2009
Longtime Batesville school teacher Audrey Seibert recently passed away. She was a much loved educator and resident, and it goes without saying that she will be missed. At the request of some of her friends and family, I'm re-running a column from March of last year regarding this beloved woman.
Here's something you don't read every day.
I once had a high school teacher that threatened her class by telling us she was going hang naked from the chandelier.
Of course, she never did. Perhaps that's because there wasn't a chandelier in the classroom.
But if there had been a chandelier in the classroom, it's quite possible this teacher would have carried through with her threat.
Audrey Seibert, my former typing teacher at Batesville High School, probably won't appreciate the fact I printed her continual threat in the pages of Arkansas Weekly, but then again, many BHS graduates were the targets of such a warning. I would bet some of you reading this right now would remember Mrs. Seibert saying those very words.
Mrs. Seibert is nothing but a jolly, silly and fun woman. She's been retired from teaching for many years, but I still hear from her time to time. And she's always quick to remind me that I wasn't the perfect student.
For instance, the one and only time I was sent to the principal's office in my years of schooling came courtesy of Mrs. Seibert. I kept forgetting to bring typing paper to class until she had enough. Off to Vice Principal George Snelgrove's office I went, where his stern, no b.s. manner convinced me that it would be best to stock up on Mead typing paper -- pronto.
There was also the time when she came into class and there I was in front of her potted plant with my back to her, and my hands held in front of me, below the waist.
"Roooooooaaaaaaaab Guuuurace-ah," she screamed (Mrs. Seibert has the tendency to add more syllables than necessary to certain words). "Are you tinkling in my puuulannnt-ah?!?"
Of course, I wasn't. I simply wanted to get a rise out of the woman. Besides, I had no worries because I could quickly get on her good side if I brought her some Snickers. She loves Snickers.
Audrey called me the other day to check in. Her health isn't what it used to be, but you certainly can't tell it when you talk to her. She still has that vibrant and zany personality that made her the favorite teacher of many BHS students. She and her daughter, Patricia, also like to drop into the W.R.D. Entertainment offices from time to time and grace us with a big box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
When she called, I told her I just might write a column about her, she said, "You better not-ah! I'll tell everybody what you did-ah to my potted plant!"
Mrs. Seibert, I beat you to the punch.
by T. Blanston, Jr.
September 23, 2009
Due to his recent hospitalization after being viciously attacked by his daughter's new pet monkey, Rob Grace was unable to write his column this week. Instead, award-winning journalist, adventurer, and handsome international playboy, T. Blanston, Jr. -- Rob's good friend and comrade in print as well as life -- has graciously offered to contribute a column in his friend's absence.
It is with a heavy heart that I write my trademark salutation: Greetings from Rancho Paradiso on the shores of the beautiful Loch Greers Ferry.
I have been at the hospital bedside of my dear friend, Rob Grace, for the past few hours. As you may have noted last week in the picture below Rob's column, he finally relented and purchased a monkey for his daughter.
The monkey, named Wizzy, initially seemed to take a liking to Rob, but the other night as Rob watched a re-run of What Not to Wear, Wizzy sprang onto Rob's face and proceeded to claw his eyes and bite his nose.
"It was horrible," Rob's daughter, Hannah, told me later. "Clinton Kelly had just made a cutting remark about a blouse a lady was wearing on the show. Dad chuckled, and said something like, ÔThat Clinton is so sassy,' and then, before you knew it, Wizzy was all over Dad's face like white on rice."
I paused while Hannah held back her tears.
"I've never heard Dad scream like that," she continued. "It was like a little girl except more shrill and high-pitched."
I placed my hand on her shoulder.
"He's gonna make it," I said. "Your dad's strong. By the way, did they ever find the rest of his tongue?"
"Yeah," she said. "It was under the recliner."
It took ten minutes for authorities to arrive and pry Wizzy off of my friend. By then, the damage had been done. Paramedics found various parts of Rob's face around the living room, and Wizzy was wearing my friend's treasured hairpiece. Unfortunately, Wizzy escaped and was last seen driving a white 1973-model Chevrolet El Camino toward Tunica. Witnesses said that Wizzy had two female companions in the vehicle with him, that the trio was consuming large amounts of Colt 45, and that Wizzy was still wearing Rob's toupee.
Needless to say it was quite a shock to see my friend in the hospital earlier tonight. His head was covered in bandages and his body immobile, but his fists were tightly clenched.
"I thhnew I thouldn't have boughthh tthhat thunkey," he said. "I tthhnew it!"
Trying not to laugh at my friend's new speech problem, I simply placed my hand on his wrist and turned my head away.
"Hey," he asked me, "thid they thind the threst of my thounge?"
By then, I could not hold it anymore. Laughter spurted out between my tightly closed lips. He really sounded "thilly."
His eyes widened beneath the bandages.
"Thwat?" he asked. "Thwy are you latthhing at me?"
The attending nurse in the room also failed to keep a somber attitude, and she busted out laughing with me.
"I'm sorry," I said to her as I gasped for air between laughs. "But he sounds hilarious, doesn't he?"
"Thess!" she said as we now laughed even harder.
"Thwat?" Rob asked again. "Thwat? Thwat?!? Tthhop latthhing at me!"
Fortunately, doctors say the rest of Rob's tongue will be reattached. A quick-thinking paramedic put the severed section in a cherry Icee Hannah was drinking that evening. Surgeons also say they'll be able to fix Rob's facial injuries, ensuring he'll be as handsome as ever (though one doctor says Rob's nose might have to be relocated to his chin while his left eye might have to be placed below his right ear which, by the way, will have to be moved to his left cheek).
As for me, I have to catch a jet to Cancun where I'll be hanging with Kanye West on the beach. Besides Rob, I've never met a more polite and thoughtful man than Kanye. I'm really looking forward to the trip.
Who knows, maybe we'll run into Wizzy and his two new girlfriends at some upscale nightclub.
So, Rob, get well, and remember you're in our thoughts and prayers.
Oh, and thay thello to thannah for me.
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 16, 2009
The riots began around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.
The first reported uprising occurred at the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Staunton, Virginia. According to police records, a band of enraged second graders barricaded themselves in the cafeteria.
"I knew this would happen," said Mary Anne Archer, the mother of one of the students. "When you expose children to the rantings of a mad socialist dictator, you're going to have mass brainwashing and violent anarchy!"
Archer was outside the school a few days after what is now known as the WWES XBOX Party. Wearing a t-shirt that read "End Socialism Now," Archer paced the sidewalk with flushed cheeks and arms tightly folded.
"I mean, he actually told second graders to concentrate on homework instead of playing video games," she said in a voice trembling with anger. "What kind of communist monster would even suggest such a thing to a child!"
"Damn straight," said Tommy Archer, Mary Anne's husband. His hand was on her shoulder in a futile effort to calm her emotions. "Communist. Socialist. That's what Sean Hannity says he is."
"Don't forget 'dictator,' sweetie," said Mary Anne as she slightly turned her head to him.
"Yeah," he said. "Dictator."
The emotional wounds are still fresh for many because of the hundreds of XBOX Parties -- or, XBOX Riots, as some parents are now calling them -- that were held at elementary schools across the country after President Barack Obama delivered his now infamous school address.
The scenes played out the same at most schools: After the Presidential address ended, students usually banded together, forced teachers out of classrooms and cafeterias, and then barricaded themselves inside sections of the school.
Their demand? That parents bring their XBOXs, Wiis, PlayStation 3s and other video game consoles from their homes to the school. And, in a show of solidarity for the President's suggestion that they actually take school and homework seriously, the students would then start a bonfire of the consoles.
Political opponents of the administration immediately took to the airwaves to demand Obama apologize for the incendiary remarks and order the National Guard to the schools where all of this was unfolding.
"Ya see, I told ya this was-a gonna happen," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told reporters outside a Juneau Chili's where she was enjoying lunch on that now fateful day. "Ya get a radical thinkin' socialist in the ole White House there, and he's gonna a-start spoutin' about radical agendas and scarin' little American children, and you know? I just think now is the time we just need to come together in a unity that, uh, just surrounds all our beautiful American, fields of a-grain fed souls and a-bodies and combat this radical socialist agenda, and you know? I don't know about you, but if you don't tie your shoe laces, well doggone it, you're probably gonna trip. That's what America stands for."
After being met with silence and confused stares from the reporters, Palin then offered to share some delicious halibut recipes.
On Fox News, Glenn Beck offered his insight.
"I told you, America, I told you this would happen," he said as he fought back tears. "Now, across this great country, plumes of black smoke rise to God's heaven as these video game consoles burn in a radical act of socialist rebellion the likes of which this world has never seen and committed by these innocent young American children who are now Obama Youth -- their minds wiped clean of rational freedom-loving thought and infected with the desire to learn and actually form their...own opinions!"
Beck suddenly sprang from his seat with clenched fists and wide eyes.
"This is the Apocalypse!" he screamed in a high-pitched voice. "Wake up, America! This is the Apocalypse! And it was brought on by the socialist that resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in our great nation's capitol! Please -- right now -- lock your doors! Load your guns because they're coming! They're coming! The storm troopers are approaching!"
And with that, Beck's head literally exploded.
Of course, as the day wore on, the riots subsided and all of the students were coaxed back home after Miley Cyrus pleaded for calm and peace in a nationally televised address.
Yet, anger and confusion still linger in the minds of many Americans over the XBOX Parties of 2009.
"I really don't know what's gonna happen," said Mary Anne Archer. "Our little Tommy, Jr. just stays in his room and reads. He reads! Books!"
Tommy, Sr. stood and ruefully shook his head.
"And after the money we spent on the XBOX. Pitiful."
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 9, 2009
Odds and ends this week...
Last week's column about my daughter's mission of having her parents buy her a pet monkey prompted a few comments. While I was shocked to learn that my uncle and my great aunt each owned a pet monkey at one time, most agreed with my point of view: that monkeys can be mean little critters that throw poop as well as attack people or inanimate objects.
However, one reader related a highly disturbing story that actually made me feel sorry for a pet monkey. This reader, who most definitely shall remain nameless, told me that he once bought a pet monkey for his daughter, and all the nightmare pet monkey stories came true. The pet monkey had to wear diapers. The pet monkey ran wild throughout the house. And, the pet monkey was mean. So mean, in fact, that one day while the daughter was in school, the pet monkey bit the father.
And that, dear readers, was the final straw for the father. The father grabbed the monkey, stuffed it into a pillowcase, crammed the pillowcase in a box, threw the box in a freshly dug hole, and covered the box with dirt.
Burying your daughter's pet monkey alive is borderline psychotic. There was absolutely no reason for the monkey to go through such a long and excruciating death. I wouldn't be that cruel no matter how insane the monkey had been.
In fact, had it been me, I would have just slammed the stuffed pillowcase against a brick wall a few times.
It's much more humane and quick form of killing a pet monkey should one have the opportunity.
Plus, you're spared the work of digging a hole, and you save a box!
(I kid...I kid.)
And wouldn't you know it? As soon as I complain about local gas prices being stuck around $2.55 per gallon, they drop to around $2.34 per gallon the day last week's column hit the streets.
Which is great.
But with my luck, they'll probably be back up to $2.55 per gallon when this column hits the streets.
We receive some nutty press releases here at Arkansas Weekly. One recent press release came from the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson proclaiming that it had been awarded the prize of America's Best Restroom for 2009. Holy toilet plunger!
I've never been to the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre. My musical tastes sadly exclude Japanese fiddle players with Mr. Spock haircuts and sequined costumes -- though I must admit I'm up for any restroom that features a hand-carved mahogany billiard table.
I mean, there's nothing like a good billiards game after going to the toilet. But then, I'm not sure a billiard game in a public restroom would be very hygienic or nasally enticing.
Another interesting press release arrived in my e-mail box this morning (I'm writing this on Friday, Sept. 4) from author David Conn.
I must say I'm not familiar with David Conn, but his press release notes he's an "astute expert on cult mentalities," a former Defense Department liaison, and a former lead analyst with Chevron's environmental laboratory.
The release also says that when Conn is "...not uncovering some new cult, David enjoys singing and dancing and has had lead roles in several musicals, including having played the part of Captain Von Trapp in Contra Costa Civic Theater's Sound of Music."
Cool. A cult expert with roots in our Defense Department and musical theatre!
Anyway, Conn's recent press release says he's available for interviews to warn America that President Barack Obama has all of the makings of a cult leader. In fact, Conn says Obama is more dangerous than the infamous Rev. Jim Jones, the cult kook who led 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide in Guyana.
Conn cites Obama's "eerily Big Brother-type broadcast to students across the country on Sept. 8."
Conn will "look inside the mind that would dream such a stunt as giving a national address to the youth of this nation, which to some sounds Hitleresque."
Interesting. So, a speech televised to American school kids by the president of the United States reminds Conn of the mental machinations of Hitler and a cult leader who engineered the suicide of his followers.
I wonder if Conn and others of his ilk thought that way when President George H.W. Bush did the exact same thing in 1991. Of course, back then, ultra liberals were in an uproar when Bush's speech was televised to students. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and ultra-conservatives have their panties in a wad...so to speak.
You'd think the mentalities of these political factions were stuck in fifth grade.
Still, to quote one Lee Greenwood, I'm proud to be an American. Any country where a Japanese fiddler with a Mr. Spock haircut can have a hand-carved mahogany billiard table in his bathroom and where cult experts can also experience exciting careers in musical theatre is my kind of place.
All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
September 2, 2009
I'm not sure if I should be concerned or not, but my 13-year-old daughter wants a pet monkey.
She's very insistent about having a pet monkey. When I pick her up from school, she asks: "So...when are you going to buy me my pet monkey?" When I talk to her on the phone, she asks: "So...when are you going to buy me my pet monkey?" And when I open up a Facebook message from her, it says: "get. me. the. monkey."
I told you she was insistent.
Her mom is adamant that she will not have a monkey. And, I've pointed out that monkeys are not domesticated animals -- in fact, they're quite insane. A monkey would pull her hair. It would jump on the curtains. It would bite people. It would throw its poop at her friends. It would hide the remote control. It would attempt to take the car keys and drive her mom's SUV into the neighbor's swimming pool. And it would try to mate with her dog -- which would thoroughly confuse the dog because the dog is currently having relations with a large fluffy cat doll. (Unfortunately, I'm not kidding about the large fluffy cat doll. It's quite frightening.)
I've also tried to explain to her that the monkey would need to wear diapers and that she would be responsible for purchasing and changing those diapers on a regular basis. Once she forks over the money for a pack of Pampers as well as wipes up some smeared monkey poop, then she might change her mind.
The monkey has become a topic of interest on my Facebook page. Many friends have told me to remind her that monkeys are notorious creatures, that they can carry diseases, and as I noted, that they might have relations with other unwilling household pets.
Two Facebook friends wondered if she wants a monkey because of Michael Jackson. You see, she's become quite the MJ fan since his passing. (She recently wrote on her Facebook page the following: "My name is Hannah, and I love Michael Jackson! Too bad he is dead.") MJ, you'll remember, had a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles. Maybe Hannah wants her own Bubbles. What she doesn't realize is that Bubbles is now very old and thinks he's an accountant from Des Moines.
OK -- I was kidding about the accountant part, but Bubbles is at a monkey rest home. And elderly monkeys can go really bonkers as the years pass.
Take, for instance, the horrible case about the Old Navy chimp. Travis, a 200-pound chimpanzee who had appeared in a television commercial for the clothing retailer, escaped from his cage one day last February and savagely attacked a woman before he was shot dead by police.
The key adverb above is "savagely." Monkeys may be cute for a while, but it's important to remember they're also savages. They have fangs, and when they're in a bad mood, those fangs do a terrific job of ripping flesh from bone.
It's important to remind my daughter of such things, and it doesn't help when she sees snuggly little monkeys on television or videos of Michael Jackson carrying around a chimp like a toddler. The dark side of these primates must be exposed!
Oh, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. I mean, I hate to break it to Hannah, but there's no way she's getting a pet monkey. She may pout for a few days, but she'll grow out of this phase. And really, it's somewhat reassuring to know that the main impression she has received from a troubled and recently deceased pop star was that he had a chimpanzee as a pet.
It's not like she's wanting to have nose surgeries every other week.
A few folks are starting to e-mail me again regarding area gas prices and the fact that they've been stuck around $2.55 per gallon for about a month or so.
I went to Little Rock on August 24 when Batesville gas stations were all around $2.59, and the further south I went, the prices dropped accordingly: $2.49 in Pleasant Plains; $2.42 in Bald Knob; and $2.33 in Sherwood.
For some fun, go to this website: www2.arkansasonline.com/gas. A reader pointed it out to me, and it's quite interesting to see the comparison.