Sabbath Interrupted

For the few folks who may still trawl around these parts on occasion, we interrupt this self-imposed summer sabbath to bring you what is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively unimportant message.

Number One Son is back from his adventures in Boston, so all three are home. The house is a little crowded, noisy and smelly, like a men’s locker room. We even have guys walking around in nothing but boxers, sometimes just towels wrapped around their waists, all boisterous and cocky, like they’ve just won the Super Bowl. It’s very authentic.

At times it becomes an epic, Darwinian struggle for square footage, the kind of internecine war you might see depicted on the Discovery Channel.… Read the rest

Three Lessons I Learned At Central High

Last week, I returned to high school.

Fortunately, nobody had rescinded my diploma. Neither had I landed in one of those fish-out-of-water, “impotence” dreams where the hapless, middle-age man, who has long since forgotten the difference between a sine and cosine, is thrown into an advanced geometry class full of National Merit Scholars.

Instead, I visited Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, where nine black students, aka the “Little Rock Nine,” dared to enter her shiny portals of learning in September, 1957, thereby ending ending racial segregation in Little Rock public schools. They were blocked on the first attempt by Arkansas National Guardsmen acting under orders of Governor Orval Faubus who had sworn not to allow the black students to enroll.… Read the rest

X-Men Among Us

Eyegal and I went to see X-Men: First Class last Friday and loved it.

Loved it; as in it was a steamy Friday evening following another day of triple digit temps in Alabama and we just wanted to be in the AC and not have to think too hard and just sit back and lose ourselves in a fast-paced action story. In this case, one resonating with the early-60s James Bond, “Mad Men” period vibe that scratches my nostalgic itch these days. That kind of “loved it.”

You won’t see this movie among the list of finalists in next year’s Academy Awards, but it fit the bill for such Friday night circumstances and was another enjoyable installment in the X-Men movies series which started in 2000.… Read the rest

“Huntsville International”–A Rap Song I Actually Like, Yo!

I’ve never been afraid to embarrass my sons with my bungled attempts at humor and middle age antics–I consider it part of the job description of being a “Dad.” But truth be told, whenever I do something they think is cool, it thrills me to no end. But please don’t tell them that, because that would ruin everything.

For instance, my recent acquisition of a taste for (and reputation for listening to) rap music. Well, not all rap music, but one song in particular–“Huntsville International” by the local rap group, G-Side.

Here’s how a mortuary-white, hopelessly off-beat, middle age, pointy-headed pseudo-intellectual got turned on to a piece of hip-hop:

I’ve a long-time fan of the magazine Oxford American, which is sort of a distinctly Southern version of The New Yorker or The Atlantic.… Read the rest

A Mike Brown’s Work Is Never Done

In a move that shocked the basketball world, the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday hired Mike Brown as their new head coach, replacing long-time court general and Zen master, Phil Jackson.

This was especially surprising since Brown already has several pans on the stove and umpteen irons in the fire, etc. The et cetera includes gainful employment as a top secret government optometrist, gastroenterologist, urologist, pediatric dentist, world-famous astronomer and planetary assassin, NFL owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, and free agent NFL defensive back who recently lost his job with the Kansas City Chiefs to the new kid on the block, former Tennessee safety Eric Berry, (UPDATE 6/3/11) proprietor of a luxury hotel and creator of the “Hot Brown Sandwich.”Read the rest

Getting On Board Bus #18

I was an immaculately-groomed half-pint in September 1968 as I stood by the road in front of our brick rural rancher waiting for Bus #18 to usher me into the next 12 years of mandatory public school education. A book bag in one hand, a G.I. Joe lunchbox in the other, I was escorted by my older sister, a worldly-wise 5th grader who was under orders to watch my back.

I heard the bus before I could see it. It had another stop about a quarter mile down the road, at the foot of a low-grade hill. I listened as its diesel engine geared down, brakes squealing, and then there was a pause that seemed to last forever as my neighbors boarded.… Read the rest

I May Have “Pink Eye,” But I’m No Commie

In the aftermath of the tornadoes in Alabama, armies of Good Samaritans have rushed to our aid with a million good deeds. Taking up their various instruments of mercy, they have come to attention as the Master Conductor has waved his wand, and the resultant symphony of compassion has been sweet, soothing music to our ears.

But they say “no good deed goes unpunished.” “They” are right.

When cell phone service returned to near normal two days after the storm struck, I downloaded my email and saw that a local church was offering an 8:00 AM communion service followed by an opportunity to go into the tornado-stricken areas around Harvest north of town and help out.… Read the rest

Special Edition: The Eye of the Storm

Last Friday, the most powerful man in the world and his wife were walking through the debris-strewn streets of Tuscaloosa, Alabama when they came upon two university students picking through the remains of what had formerly been their apartment. Looking up, the students’ eyes widened in surprise as they struggled to mentally digest this extraordinary development.

President Obama stuck out his hand in greeting, and the two students quickly gathered themselves, took off their gloves which were coated with a patina of dust and fiberglass, and held out their own in return. In doing so, they touched the hand that only hours before had been lifted in command, setting into motion events that reaped their own powerful whirlwind in a far distant land.… Read the rest

I Am Dr. Michael Brown, Optometrist; I Am Not @plutokiller

My name is Dr. Michael Brown, aka “Mike the Eyeguy,” and I’m an optometrist who has always loved Disney characters and small, remote planets.

I would never kill Pluto. I may be more of a Goofy Man myself, but I have no interest in dissing  Mickey Mouse’s lesser-known pet pooch. Nor have I supported demoting poor little Pluto from the status of noble, outermost outpost planet, guarding the far boundaries of our Solar System from alien invasion, to a mere member among many in the Kuiper belt, a rather shady band of steroid-enhanced asteroids and dwarf planets.

And I think I can speak for the other three Dr.… Read the rest

Is There a Doctor in Da House?

The answer is: Yes. In fact, he’s been “in da house” since Monday. Sick. Out of commission. Down for the count.

It didn’t used to be that way. In my younger doctor days, I would often work through “the crud” because I was convinced that I was indispensable and that my patients would go blind if I wasn’t in the office. So I would trudge in, snot dripping, coughing, wheezing and croaking from the inevitable laryngitis that would set in after a few days. I was careful and often wore a mask, but still, put yourself in my patients’ shoes. I had no trouble getting my patients to open their eyes on days like that.… Read the rest

A Case of Mistaken Identity

It was another morning at Clinica Ezell in Montellano, Guatemala, and another case of mistaken identity.

There had been a lot of that going around that week. Since I was doing all the preoperative exams, I had spent the most time with the patients. Many of them thought I was the Big Tamale, the Chief Gringo–The Top Gun. Once they were sedated and lying under the operating microscope waiting for their cataracts to be removed, Dr. C was merely the Upside-Down Man behind the mask.

In reality I was Goose to Dr. C’s Maverick, monitoring a million different things and make sure young Mav was constantly exposed to a “target-rich environment.”… Read the rest

Señor Gruñon and His Terrible, Rotten, No Good, Very Bad Day

It is approximately 1,436 miles as the plane flies from Huntsville, Alabama to Clinica Ezell in Guatemala, but “Señor Gruñon” was making me feel right at home.

I had once again traveled the road to Montellano, Guatemala to participate in an eye surgery medical mission (Code name: “Operación de Ojos Claros) in conjunction with health professionals representing Health Talents International and a team of students from Lipscomb University, the University of Alabama and the University of West Florida.

I was scooting across the poorly-lit, humid waiting room on a stool which reminded me of a shopping cart with one, misdirected rogue wheel and browsing for the biggest, ripest cataracts in all the land, the kind that literally block out the sun like a noonday eclipse.… Read the rest

Dust In The Wind

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind.

“Dust in the Wind,” Kansas, 1977

Ash Wednesday always makes me think of dust (that’s the point, after all). And I can’t think of dust without thinking of Bobby.

Bobby was one of my best friends at church growing up. He, David and I were either The Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges, depending on who you asked. We often hung out on the elevated front porch of the Roanoke Church of Christ overlooking Brandon Avenue near the “Established in 33 AD” sign.… Read the rest

It’s Not Easy Being Green and Gold

The State of Alabama is not exactly known for being “libruhl.” I truly hope you were sitting down for that one.

John McCain got over 60% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election. There’s a Baptist church on three corners of every intersection and a Church of Christ on the other. Not only do we try to make buying wine difficult–especially on Sundays–we even outlaw artfully and tastefully portrayed nudity on our wine labels (There will be no joy on Sundays in this state!).

Environmentalism? Does picking up that Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle that somebody threw out at the end of your driveway and tossing it in the recycling bin count?… Read the rest

Why The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Reminds Me Of Mom

And now that I have your attention, allow me to explain (you bunch of sickos!).

I’m not talking about Sigmund Freud’s infamous Oedipus complex. I’m talking about that annual rite of passage known as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue which has landed in mailboxes across this great land of opportunity each February for decades, about the time pitchers and catchers report, and the ensuing tug-of-war between those great sentinels of chastity and virtue, Moms, and those eager students of human anatomy, their sons.

I received my first Sports Illustrated subscription in 1974 in sixth grade–for the articles, of course. Talk about perfect timing!… Read the rest