Author: Michael Brown

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

Supercentenarians of the World–Live Long!

On January 31, 2011, Eunice Sanborn, widely believed to be the world’s oldest person, died in Jacksonville, Texas at the age of 115–bless her heart. She handed off the baton to Besse Cooper, 114, who was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee on August 26, 1896. Bless her heart too.

And let’s not forget to bless Frank Buckles while we’re at it. A veritable pup in comparison–he turned 110 on February 1st–Frank is the sole remaining US veteran of World War I, the Last American Doughboy (what cohort of uber-humans, pray tell, comes before The Greatest Generation?).

When the three of them, squirming, grunting, caterwauling little bundles of joy and raw, “FEED ME!”… Read the rest

Confessions of a Tiger Dad

In case you’ve been in solitary confinement on another planet in a distant galaxy far, far away, Yale law professor and author Amy Chua recently threw a full container of kerosene onto the Mommy Wars fire with her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, portions of which were excerpted in The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ article drew the most comments ever for a single story in that publication (as of this writing, 7577 and counting). News flash: People have very strong opinions on parenting! If you want a firestorm of controversy, all you have to do is advocate strongly a particular style or method and then stand back and watch everything blow up like all the props in a Steven Segal movie.Read the rest

Words Fitly Spoken

but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

–James 3:8

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The first time I read that verse was on a the cover of a tract which had been left behind on a shelf inside the pulpit at the Roanoke Church of Christ in the 1960s. We kids weren’t supposed to be playing there, but the adults were too busy talking to notice and the prospect of discovering what mysteries were hidden behind that “holy of holies” was too tempting to pass up.

The tract was fire-engine red and had an animation on the cover depicting a man with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, like a dimply red carpet unfurled.… Read the rest

Like Wool

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

–Isaiah 1:18

I am sending out this dispatch from Ground Zero of The End of Days, Huntsville, Alabama.

Although I have yet to whip out the measuring stick, there appears to be about 8 inches of snow on my patio. To top it all, tonight Auburn plays for the national championship in college football. It appears the Mayans were almost right, just off by a year.

We are warm and toasty.… Read the rest

Christmas Ice

I’ve slid off icy roads twice in my life. In each case it was around Christmas time and my mother was involved.

The first time was shortly after Christmas 1977. She and I were driving to Roanoke in a blue, 1972 Chevy Impala sedan, heavy as an elephant, but rear wheel drive. Most likely we were aiming to exchange some presents or burn up some gift cash at a post-Christmas sale.

I had my learner’s permit, and we had just covered “steering into the skid” in my driver’s ed lecture. I was eager to convert all that theory to some practical experience on the fresh veneer of slick, blue ice which covered the roads around our house and glistened invitingly in the mid-morning winter sun.… Read the rest

A Church of Christer’s Guide To Communion At An Episcopal Church

Recently a Church of Christ friend of mine wrote to me and said that he was considering attending an Episcopal Church Christmas Eve service and that he was a little intimidated by the prospect of having to walk forward and take communion. Could I help out?

Oh yes. Yes I can. Glad you asked.

First off, let me say this: Dude’s got guts. Most Church of Christers I know have never even set foot inside another church except for weddings and funerals. Some may have been taught that “they’re it” and if there’s nobody else out there, why bother? Or even if they don’t believe that, they still feel as if they might be betraying their parents or now deceased relatives by even associating with other “religious people” Christians in an actual spiritual context, as opposed to something more secular and therefore safer like, say, a NASCAR race at Talledega or a football game in Tuscaloosa.… Read the rest