Category: Huntsville

Life In Zeta Theta Theta (ZΘΘ) House

School’s out for summer, and that means fraternity life at the Zeta Theta Theta (ZΘΘ) House is in full swing. Personally, I have no problem believing we humans share 99% of our DNA with the apes.

Rush Week in the primate cage is what you get when you throw together 17, 19 and 21 year-old territorial, testosterone-saturated brothers who aren’t used to sharing the same living space. They screech, pound their chests, burp, practice various olfactory assault techniques on innocent passersby, trash the kitchen and endlessly debate the age-old question, “Who da man?”

So far, they haven’t flung any dung at each other, but it’s only early June.… Read the rest

Bama Fans Storm State Capital in Montgomery

In the most stunning political turn since Fort Sumter, University of Alabama football fans have ringed the State Capital Building in Montgomery with a barricade of RVs and double-wide mobile homes in an attempt to seize control of the state government.

They are demanding that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James cease and desist from his campaign and that Governor Bob Riley establish a new executive office, Beloved Athletic Ruler (B’AR), which would be co-equal with Governor and occupied by Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban.  Riley, an Alabama alumnus, is reported to be seriously considering the ultimatum.

The movement began suddenly this past week after James, an Auburn grad, allegedly made intemperate and ill-advised remarks regarding Saban in which he questioned the coach’s maternal bloodline and threatened to reduce his salary or even outright “fahr his a**!”… Read the rest

Raising Arizona One Dale Peterson and Two Tim Jameses

Dear AZ,

Nice try, but no cigarro.

We know you’re a little sore because “L” comes before “R” in the alphabet. And you probably felt a little trampled upon when we drove an armada of Crimson, elephant-festooned RVs with horns that blare “Yea, Alabama,” not once, but twice, through your state in early January on our way to the Rose Bowl and back (Roll Tide!).

But did you really think you could captivate the attention of the entire country with your so-called “controversial” new immigration law? You call that “controversial?” You call yourself “conservative?” Do the names “George Wallace” and “Bull Connor” ring a bell with you people?… Read the rest

Alabama Casera Dulce?

I don’t always speak Spanish, but when I do, I prefer having Jose Rafael Rodriguez (aka, my translator “Danny”) somewhere in the immediate vicinity. I am neither the most interesting man in the world, nor the most bilingual.

I tried to memorize enough Spanish eye care phrases to get by on my recent trip to Guatemala, but despite my best efforts and intentions, I found myself leaning hard on Danny. I would usually start out the day doing a passable job-abre sus ojos (“open your eyes”), mira arriba (“look up”) –but as things got hot and busier and I became increasingly fatigued, I started to mangle my rote phrases more and more.… Read the rest

The Road to Montellano Leads Straight Through My Heart

The road to Montellano, Guatemala started in a small, dingy-gray room on the 11th floor of Roanoke Memorial Hospital on April 2nd, 2009. It was there around 5:00 AM that I held my mother’s head in my hands and shouted words of love and farewell over her as she drew her last breath in this life.

You don’t travel into the Valley of the Shadow with someone and then back out again without being changed forever. The Reaper’s sickle passes so close to your own skin that you feel its wind. It cuts, and if you’re standing near enough, you bleed.… Read the rest

Confessions Of An Old Cold Warrior

I had a very smart man, a rocket scientist in fact (we have a few in Huntsville), tell me recently that America was going to hell in a hand basket. He didn’t say it quite that way because a respectable Christian, Southern gentleman would never drop the “H” bomb in front of the ladies unless he was reading it out of the Bible. But that was the basic gist of it.

He said a lot of things, that we had strayed from the intent of the Founding Fathers to establish a “Christian Nation,” that widespread belief in evolution was the root of much of society’s evil and ills, including increasing teenage suicide rates, and that really things had grown much worse since prayer was banned in public schools.… Read the rest

Waiting on the Crumbs From Steve Jobs’ Table

I had a Close Encounter of the Creepy Kind with my iPhone this week. This has caused me to pause and reflect on our relationship with all our bright and shiny electronic doodads.

It happened last Sunday as Eyegal and I attended early service at a local Episcopal parish, as is our habit from time to time. It was the First Sunday in Lent (Note to my Baptist and Church of Christ friends: Lent is a 40-day period of repentance preceding Easter. It is part of the church calendar, which is actually pretty official and has been around a long, long time–like, several centuries before the founding of the United States–and has more on it besides the date of the Ladies Retreat and the next church-wide potluck.… Read the rest

We All Bear the Mark

“Have a nice weekend,” I called out to my technician last Friday shortly after 4:00 PM. “Off to get a haircut. It’s getting a little out of hand,” I chuckled. I patted the top of my crown where a shock of unruly hair shot straight up, trying in vain to press it down flat. I looked like Einstein after sticking his finger in a light socket.

When I stepped outside, I heard the sirens in full, 360 degree surround sound. From every direction came the warbling wail; if the sun hadn’t been shining I would’ve sworn there was a tornado on the ground.… Read the rest

The King’s New Eyes

When I finally worked up the nerve to hand “Hank” some cash, he drew back as if I was coming at him with a knife. This startled me, and for a moment I wondered what kind of fix my attempted charity had gotten me into. Would he lunge back at me in self defense? Or would he start to channel the cacophony of voices inside his head and yell profanities at me instead? I braced myself for just about anything. I suddenly wished I had just left well enough alone and dropped off the money at the checkout counter, just like everyone else did.… Read the rest

It Is A Good Day To Live

Forty-eight years ago today, I made my debut at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. My arms may be too short and my back a little stiffer these days, but that building was torn down in the late 70s to make room for a new medical office complex, and I’m still standing. So I guess that’s saying something.

There was a time earlier this year when I wasn’t sure I would be by now, though. You see, I became quite obsessed with the idea of whether or not I was going to make it past 47 years, 118 days because that’s exactly how long Dad lived.… Read the rest

He Did Jobs No One Else Wanted To Do

Dear Tim,

I don’t usually talk to dead people, but the special circumstances of your untimely death call for unusual tactics. You see, it’s very important for people to know the story I’m going to tell because I think it gives a capsule insight into who you were.

Or are. My apologies; I really don’t know what to say, because I really don’t really know what lies beyond that murky river. I guess that’s why they call it faith. I hope it’s all true, but I can’t prove it. For all I know, you could be sleeping soundly. If so, you can read this when you wake up.… Read the rest

Clarkston 1, Huntsville 0

outcastsunitedEyegal and I had the privilege Sunday night of hearing author Warren St. John (Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer–A Road Trip Into the Heart of Fan Mania) discuss his new book, Outcasts United–A Refugee Team, An American Town.

St. John’s book chronicles a season in the lives of “The Fugees,” a soccer team comprised of teenage boys from around the world who now live in the tiny southern town of Clarkston, Georgia outside Atlanta as a part of a United Nations refugee resettlement program. The central figure in the book is The Fugee’s coach, Luma Mufleh, a young Jordanian woman of privilege and Smith College graduate who, as it turns out, is something of a refugee herself (her father cut her off after she refused to return to Jordan following graduation).… Read the rest

Now Gew Away, Or I Shall Taunt Yew a Secund Time-uh!

I’ve been watching some Youtube clips of Monty Python and the Holy Grail this morning in order to jog the memory banks for tomorrow’s trip down to The Von Braun Center (that’s pronounced BROWN for the uninitiated) to see the Broadway production of Spamalot.

If you were a geeky nerd like me in the late 1970s, chances are you made several trips to the theater to see that irreverant parody of the Arthurian Legend and that it was probably the first movie that you watched on VHS. Eyegal was more partial to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but what do you expect from a girl who waved a Bic lighter while riding some dude’s shoulders at a Boston concert?… Read the rest

Not The Daily Planet, But Close

Since my Huntsville Times gig ended in December, I’ve been casting about trying to find another rag that might absorb some of my overflowing logorrhea, and it looks like I may have a nibble.

Valley Planet is a local, alternative newspaper that’s been around for a few years now. Like The Nashville Scene to the north and Birmingham Weekly to the south, VP has a little more “edge” than the local daily. It tries to focus more on the local arts scene, music, restaurants, movies, books, and other topics of interest to young, urban hipsters, Boomers with more cash than common sense and aging hippies still clinging to their love beads and Jim Morrison LPs.… Read the rest

A “Thin Place”–Right Hand Side, Two Thirds Of The Way Back

“Our pew” is on the right hand side, two thirds of the way back. That’s where we always sit when we attend Christmas Eve services at our second church home, Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Huntsville. I’ve written of our experiences there before, and as longtime readers know, that’s our refuge where we occasionally go in order to escape the tyranny of the modern (e.g. PowerPoint!) and surrender instead to the power and holy mysteries of the liturgy.

Picture in your mind the quintessential Christmas Eve setting: an old, storied building topped with a 150 foot Gothic Revival spire reaching toward the heavens, the nave bathed in soft candle light and bedecked with festive, seasonal greenery, a 12-foot Christmas tree near the front, beckoning with a thousand starry lights.… Read the rest