Friday, April 30, 2010

"Sign of the Apocalypse:" Thelma Lou Robbed in Mayberry

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (AP) — The actress who played Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show" was robbed in the town that inspired the show's idyllic Mayberry setting, after moving to the area to avoid big city crime.

Betty Lou Lynn (show above in Mount Airy in 2006 by an Andy and Opie statue) had her wallet stolen at a shopping center in Mount Airy, the birthplace of Andy Griffith.

The Mount Airy News reports that police arrested Shirley Walter Guynn of Cana, Va. He's being held in Surry County Jail on a $10,000 bond. It was not immediately clear Thursday if he has a lawyer.

In an earlier interview with the newspaper, the 83-year-old Lynn said she moved to Mount Airy after being robbed three times in Los Angeles. In the TV series, Thelma Lou was the girlfriend of Deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Basketball Buddy!

The Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches let me write the release this week about the most recent honor earned by Buddy Davis, a guy who writes right and plays big...The state's most recent "Mr. Louisiana Basketball" is shown above at Squire Creek Country Club with two other Louisiana Tech Hall of Famers, Karl Malone and Terry Bradshaw. Buddy will be presented the award Saturday in Baton Rouge at the LABC's annual banquet...

RUSTON – “Mr. Louisiana Basketball 2010” Buddy Davis is 6-4 – if he stands on his typewriter.

O.K. “Buddy” Davis, sports editor of the Daily Leader in Ruston since Pete Maravich was a senior at LSU, has built his game more around grammar and heart than height. He’s 5-9, but in basketball lingo, “he plays like he’s 7-3,” said Northwestern State men’s basketball coach Mike McConathy.

Covered by Davis both as a player at Louisiana Tech and as a coach, McConathy said the game has remained just as important to Davis now as it was when the Ruston native first started writing.

“He wants to be in the gym just like we want to be there,” McConathy said. “The most successful people are the ones most passionate about what they do. Buddy’s passionate. He loves basketball. He’s one guy who can make you feel like you’re special because he believes the game is special. He honors the game.”

Given annually by the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches (LABC) to someone who has made a significant, long-term contribution to the game in the state and at any level, the Mr. Louisiana Basketball award will be presented during the LABC’s 36th Annual Awards Banquet Saturday in Baton Rouge.

“There is no one more deserving of the award,” said Sporting News Radio and CBS Sports journalist Tim Brando, “than Louisiana hoops’ Little Big Man, Buddy Davis.”

A graduate of Louisiana Tech and Ruston High, Davis has played a major role for the past four decades in telling the story of sports in Louisiana. He’s served as a voter for national basketball polls and awards, covered 13 women’s Final Fours, 26 NCAA women’s tournaments, three men’s NIT and two women’s NIT tournaments.

He’s covered everything basketball from NBA All-Star Games to preseason high school tournaments. His estimated number of bylines? Try 42,000, give or take. At least 10,000 of those have been about basketball.

And while he’s won more than 100 awards in statewide and national writing contests, one of his biggest awards was received in June when the Louisiana Sports Writers Association recognized him with its Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism during the LSWA’s annual Hall of Fame Banquet in Natchitoches.

Now, he adds Mr. Louisiana Basketball to his resume.

“I’m appreciative that there’s no height limit involved with this award,” deadpanned Davis. “Really, it’s surreal getting this because of having written about so many winners through the years. The tables have been reversed. It’s a strange – but nice – feeling.”

“Buddy is finally getting the recognition he richly deserves,” said Hall of Fame coach Leon Barmore. Like Buddy, Barmore was on the ground floor of the explosion that would come in the women’s game, in large part through Tech’s Lady Techsters. Davis was there to chronicle it all.

“Buddy has made so many players and teams well known because of his stories about them,” Barmore said. “He made us look better than what maybe we sometimes were. He took the high road. As a player and especially as a coach, I appreciate that and respect him dearly for it. ‘Legend’ may be a word that’s overused, but he really is a legend to so many people, and he’s really made a lot of people legends. He’s made us all look good.”

Besides the Techsters dynasty, Davis counts as extra special the 1985 Tech men’s team of Karl Malone and Wayne Smith and others, “the best Bulldogs squad I ever covered.” And for pure fun and excitement, there were the Mike Green-led Tech teams of the early 1970s coached by Scotty Robertson, a former Mr. Louisiana Basketball who will introduce Davis Saturday.

“Buddy started out as a little fish in a little pond, and he grew and he grew to the point in his profession that he was winning all sorts of awards, and with that came his chances to leave,” Robertson said. “But he decided he wanted to stay in Ruston and spend his time writing about Tech and Grambling and all the local high schools and North Louisiana athletes, and I’ve always appreciated him for that. He’s a ‘stayer,’ and we need ‘stayers.’

“I found out in the pros quickly that a lot of young sportswriters wanted to rip you up, but Buddy wanted the people he knew to do well,” Robertson said. “If you got beat by 30, he was going to write that you got beat by 30. But he wasn’t going to write that you couldn’t coach a lick. Buddy is a good guy who understands the game and the people who play and coach it.”

Besides McConathy, Green, Malone, Barmore and Robertson, Davis’ list of personal favorite and best players and coaches is an all-star roll call. “Kim Mulkey, Sonja Hogg, Teresa Weatherspoon, Janice Lawrence, Angela Turner, Venus Lacy, Pam Kelly, Fred Hobdy, Aaron James, Willis Reed, Pat Cage-Bibbs…I could go on and on,” Davis said. “See what I mean about the privilege I’ve had to cover so many good folks?”

“One of the things I’ve always found particularly pleasing with having covered basketball in Louisiana is the incredible number of great players,” he said. “Willis Reed, Pistol Pete, Karl Malone, Robert Parish, Bob Pettit…Unbelievable that so many legendary players have come from one state and I’ve been blessed to have written about a lot of them.”

Other players not as familiar to fans but just as passionate about basketball as its marquee names have also appeared under his byline, a distinction treasured by Buddy’s loyal readership.

“Buddy has that ability to deal with the biggest stars in the game - like a Karl Malone - down to the Choudrant girls junior varsity - with equal enthusiasm,” said New Orleans Times-Picayune sportswriter Ted Lewis. “That's why he has the most appropriate name in the world - Buddy.”


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why We're Here

Why We’re Here

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you
created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
Rev. 4:11 (NIV)

My reason for being is to love and worship my Creator. When I’m not doing this,
I’m not happy or joyous. I don’t have the power to be. I wasn’t created that
way. When I try to find contentment in things of the world, I’m trying to make a
car run on honey, when it was built to run on gas.

When I’m not content, I wonder why. I try to find the reason. A lack of money?
Not enough free time? Need a vacation? Relationship woes? My child won’t “do
right”? My friends are letting me down?

Those are temporary situations. My relationship with the Creator is eternal. It
began before I was born, will continue after I’m “dead.” When I’m not content,
it’s this relationship that’s disturbed. It has to be. A loving relationship
with Him is why I was made. If I’m good with God, and He is pleased with me, I
will be happy, joyous and free in Him, no matter the condition of a fallen world
or my physical condition in it.

Always, my relationship with Him is the thing. I allow the simplicity of this to
escape me. But in moments of clarity, I remember.

Eyes on God change human perspective. Eyes off God are rolling the dice.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lava Chronicles

“Now my girl quickly said to me
Man, you'd better watch your feet
That lava comes out soft and hot
You better lova me now or lova me not…”

-- “Volcano,” Jimmy Buffett

Like many of you, I had to cancel much of my European air travel for the past 10 days or so. That’s how it is in the unpredictable volcano game.

You really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about volcanoes. Weathermen students spend less than a day on them in meteorology school. Volcanoes are close to the bottom of the ladder on the Natural Disaster Scale, like beets and the worthless radish hug the bottom rung on the food ladder.

Granted, what I know about volcanoes is ant hill-sized, including only the following:

* Jimmy Buffett, “Sulpher smoke up in the sky, pretty soon we learn to fly!”;

* The history of Pompeii, buried in ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the 1st Century. Historians suggest the residents of the prosperous city didn’t know Mount Vesuvius was a volcano waiting to happen, small consolation to guys like Pliny the Elder and the other 20,000 or so who perished during that single day. Naples-area realtors who’d sold “Beautiful Hillside Lots!” had some serious explaining to do; and,

* For art class in fourth grade I did a chalk drawing of Mt. Fuji. It was put on display in the lobby of my hometown’s First National Bank, which was about the size of the cloakroom in our fourth-grade classroom. I drew Fuji in it’s non-erupting state, mainly because we were out of red chalk.

So I’m in unchartered water here.

But I do know something about newspapers, and while the recent eruption of the Iceland Volcano has grounded air travelers and upped the dry cleaning bills from Aberdeen to Dusseldorf, it has also laid waste to more than one headline writer and television anchor.

The problem with this volcano is its name: Eyjafjallajokull. (Pronounced “eyjafjallajokull.”) Whatever!

It’s Icelandic for “island-mountain glacier,” something we don’t see a lot of in Louisiana. Looks like a 4-year-old found the typewriter keyboard.

Whatever happened to naming things after simple things, like “Driskill Mountain” or “Caddo Lake”?

“Henrik’s Hill” or “Petur’s Volcano” would have done the trick. You can’t swing a cold cat in Iceland without hitting a Henrik or a Petur.

But that’s another story. The problem here is that Icelandic geographers and city planners fumbled. Names like Eyjafjallajokull make it hard for publicity folk. Besides being impossible to say, words like “Eyjafjallajokull” have a snow ball’s chance, even in Iceland, of getting into a headline. WAY too long.

This is why you’ll often see headlines like “Big Ben in trouble,” but rarely “Roethlisberger in trouble.”

“Tiger” and “Dr. J” and “The Babe” and “Mt. Fuji” and “St. Helens,” those are headline writers’ dreams. Compact. Tell-all. Easy to spell. For hurricanes, three syllables – “Katrina” – is all that hurricane namers are allowed. True.

As tragedies and global problems often do, this most recent volcanic eruption has reminded me how bright our American military is. Because no one could say the volcano’s name without sounding too Icelandic, too drunk, or too smart for their own good, the military shortened it to “E-15.” That’s because it starts with an E and has 15 letters following.

Roger that.


(Reprinted from The Times and The News-Star, 042510)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Birthday!...

... to a special Chicago Cubs fan today. Hang in there! Woooooooo!

Monday, April 19, 2010

(Sermon-on-a-Stick) The Greatest Short Story Ever Told, Part 2 of 4

Luke 15: 11-20

* "a far country" is anywhere away from God

* Where are you?

* v. 17 ... "when he came to his senses..." Some of us need to wake up. Why and how should we wake up?

1. If We're Asleep, We Need To Know That Things Can And Should Be Better
v. 17 -- at home there is food to spare; God has not predestined us to lives of misery

2. Humble Ourselves
v. 19 -- "I'm not worthy to be called your son..."
Don't let pride keep you from waking up
Pride is the path to the mud and the mire

3. Come To The Father
v. 20 -- he went to his Father...
Most everything in life can wait -- except the search for the Father


Southern Blooms...

(Reprinted from The Times and The News Star, April 18)

The maturing Southern woman is a lot like most any other woman, only always with better recipes, usually with better looks, and most times with better seats to your bigger college football games.

Usually better cookware and pom poms, too.

While not perfect, this is a breed that, more than any other, lives really close to that ballpark.

Maybe it’s because I have been around them all my life, but I am particularly hurt when a Southern woman passes away. It’s like a great book going out of print. Maybe worse than that. Maybe it’s more like a favorite picture being lost, and the negative’s gone, and all you’re left with is the picture in your mind.

Part of life in a fallen world is the painful fact that even the fairest of flowers fade.

Dixie Carter, a “Designing Women” star who played a Southern woman both on television and in real life, passed away this week, a young 70. Hurt me. And I didn’t even watch her shows. But her name was Dixie. And she spoke with a tone smoky and assured. She was from a town called McLemoresville in Tennessee, and her parents ran a store that was part grocery, part dry goods.

Can’t be all bad.

Only two weeks ago, another of my favorite Southern ladies died at 70. She was my friend and she’d been sick for a year. But just in that little window of time I got to know her, she made me feel better about myself.

The real pros do that for you.

They give the world a lot of flavor, Southern women do. And not just in the kitchen.

I am no rookie in the Southern Women League. One of my grandmothers was an Inez. The other was a Ruth. My mom is a Vera, but don’t tell her you know that; she prefers her middle name, Lou. When she’s in Rocky Branch, she’s called the more formal “Vera Lou.” Some things, you just can’t run far enough to get away from. Not even mommas.

(Come to think of it, the Southern woman catches a break in that she can be named Fannie and no one laughs.)

Inez could fry chicken and make strawberry shortcake homemade, and when she retired from nursing she sat on a footstool really close to the television set to watch soap operas and on-their-way-to-prison preachers. She was for sure Southern but, since she had to raise five kids alone, she was too busy to put in all the work necessary to earn any sort of advanced Southern woman degree, which requires some leisure.

Here’s where Ruth excelled. She had hats. She had heels. She had vanilla extract.

She had looks and a man who’d dance with her from time to time. She had a temper, a cast iron skillet, a sense of humor, a perfume cabinet and a big handbag. When she was in the area, you knew it. If you didn’t hear the gum smacking, you smelled the Kool filtereds. Or the dark chocolate pie. She made you laugh just about all the time, most of the time without meaning to.

How could you not miss a woman like that? She was straight out of a short story by Flannery O’Connor, speaking of solid Southern women. O’Connor knew her kind came in 3D only.

From Scarlett O’Hara to Moms Mabley to Minnie Pearl to Rosa Parks to Aunt Theeta, Southern women leave a mark. Sometimes it’s baseball stitches, but most times it’s lipstick on your cheek.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(Sermon-on-a-Stick) The Greatest Short Story Ever Told, Part 1 of 4

(My notes from Sunday, if you trust my note-taking. Dr. Chris presiding. This is the first in a series of sermons from Luke 15:11-31, often called The Parable of the Prodigal Son, or The Parable of the Lost Son or my favorite, The Tale of Two Sons...)

"Bad Choices Equal Bad Consequences"
Luke 15:11-16

11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

* This parable has been called "a window through which to see God, and a mirror that allows us to see ourselves."
* We make choices, and then our choices make us.

1. Where Do Bad Choices Come From
A. Selfishness (v 12) "give me my share" ... A person wrapped up in self is overdressed...the self-absorbed make bad choices often ... this is why Jesus commands us to "die to self daily."
B. Short-Term Thinking (v 12-13) squandered his wealth in wild living
C. Leaving The Father Out (v. 13) the son left the father far behind...

2. What Bad Choices Look Like
A. Waste: "squandered his wealth..." wasting self is wasting the image of God
B. Falling Lower Than You've Ever Dreamed (v 14-16) ... A famine often follows bad choices, and then you're in the field feeding pigs.

Make a choice to make good choices.


Monday, April 12, 2010


Texas Stadium implodes, years and years too late for Cowboys haters...

I enjoyed this stadium. First pro game I ever went to was here. Cardinals/Cowboys. Dallas wins 17-14, Tony Frisch field goal as time expired. 1974 or '75. The Cardinals had started 7-0, Dallas was 4-3. My dad took me. Unbelievable...


Professor Pickles took this picture on the Louisiana Tech campus this morning...
(If you can't read the WARNING sign, it's "Area May Flood During Heavy Rain")

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sermon-on-a-Stick: "Easter -- Will It Really Matter?"

Here are my notes from the part of the sermon I was able to stay awake for Sunday. (That's a joke! I didn't fall asleep ... until the offering...) These are from Dr. Chris on Easter, if you trust my note taking.

"It's Easter: Will It Really Matter?"
Matthew 28

* Is the resurrection valid
Mark 16:1-3: Jesus' disciples didn't expect His resurrection; they expected to have to roll away the stone.
Luke 24: 37-38: His disciples are startled to see Jesus after the cross
1 Cor. 15:3: Paul's historical account of the resurrection..

* IF Christ is alive, then...
He is Lord -- if you come out of your tomb, you are who you say you are.
He is contemporary -- He is alive today.
He is inescapable -- We have to deal with Him one way or the other, and on his terms.

1. For a lot of people, Easter will not make a difference
Mt 28:11-17: The Pharisees covered up the resurrection, or hoped to and tried to, and even the believers doubted.

2. Will Easter matter for you?
Life continues -- even the 'bad' parts of life, like suicide and assaults and tragedies -- on Easter. Oftentimes, these things are self-inflicted or caused by someone who doesn't care about Easter. It's just another day to them.

3. It CAN matter for you
Mt. 28: 8-9: Jesus met them and they worshipped Him
v. 17 -- They worshipped/surrendered to Him
John 20:20: They were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
1 Cor. 15:3-8: Easter definitely made a difference for James, the leader of the first church in Jerusalem, and for Paul, Christianity's greatest missionary


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Years ago I met some nice nice people in Pleasant Hill. Mrs. Dykes asked me over for supper. Her granddaughters were there; one of those granddaughters, Paula, has a husband and two little girls now. One of the little girls, Alli, was rushed to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in February, diagnosed with a kind of cancer called neuroblastoma. Alli is 4.

A few things...
There is a website called and you can meet Alli there. Log in, choose a password, and then type alli_gator_callender. Paula's former pastor has kept me up to speed, said I would be "pretty amazed" at what I saw, and he was right...In his most recent note he said..."Alli is still at St. Jude, recovering from surgery last Friday; she is now 90% cancer free after having gone through the surgery and 2 pretty hard rounds of chemo. If you check that Caring Bridge site ... you can follow her journey and see the amazing response of people all over the world!"

Click HERE for a recent story from KNOE-TV about Alli, and for more information about the St. Jude Dream Home you could win in support of the hospital, Alli, other patients, and research.


Why Opening Day is a good thing

Sure. My team, Baltimore (they used to be good; really, they did) hit three homers on Opening Day. But they were all solos. And the Orioles lost when Tampa Bay scored twice in the bottom of the ninth. Sigh...

Still, here.

It never gets old.

Sunday's column is a piece of a baseball quiz and observations. (Teaser: Which Hall of Fame pitcher, when asked if he'd ever faced more pressure than pitching in a World Series Game 7, said, "Well, there was the Battle of the Bulge." ...)


Thursday, April 1, 2010

How You Know It Ain't Your Day...

Twins' Span hits mom with foul ball, but she's OK

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Denard Span's mother settled into her box seat, surrounded by 20 family members and friends, to watch her son lead off for the Minnesota Twins.Uh oh. Look out!In a shocking split-second, Span hit a hard foul ball that struck his mom in the upper chest Wednesday. She was treated by paramedics and back in the stands minutes later."Tell everyone that I'm all right," Wanda Wilson told The Associated Press hours later by telephone. "Everyone was so worried, he was so worried. But I'm all right.""We had just gotten there. It happened so fast, you couldn't do anything," she said. "I was kind of in awe. But God is good, I'm OK."Wilson was wearing a Span jersey and sitting a few rows off the field, near the Twins' third-base dugout. In the first inning against the New York Yankees, Span took a late swing on the sixth pitch of the game and sent a line drive that hit his mother near the shoulder."As the ball was in the air, I realized that it was going after my mom," Span said after arriving back at Twins' headquarters in Fort Myers. "When I saw her go down, I just couldn't do nothing but go after her."Span ran into the packed stands and stayed with his mother while she got treatment. Shaken, she'd started to tear up."That's what hurt me the most," Span said, "when she started crying."The split-squad game was delayed for a few minutes as she walked to the first aid station. Span returned to the plate and struck out looking on the next pitch from Phil Hughes.The Twins originally said Span would leave the game, but his mother was sitting in a different seat by the bottom of the first inning and he went to play center field."What the odds of that happening?" Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "I've never seen it before. It's crazy. I'm standing there right next to it and I heard it and it's just, 'Oh no!, that didn't sound good.' She's on the ground and I'm saying, 'Please don't be the head or something' because it sounded so ugly."Span flied out in the second inning. After the top of the third, Span said Yankees star Derek Jeter stopped him on the field and told him that it was OK to leave the game to check on his mother. Span left in the bottom of the third, telling a team official he wasn't mentally into the game."I told her I came out of the game and she got mad at me because everyone came to see me play," said Span, a Tampa native. "She was more mad at me for coming out of the game than me hitting her."The Twins were more than happy to let him go and the mother and son spent time together for the rest of the afternoon."It tore him up pretty good," Anderson said. "They said she was fine and he got a chance to be with her. I'm sure he'll probably buy her a nice dinner tonight," he said.Span tied for the league lead in triples last year, helping the Twins win the AL Central."It's just been a crazy day," he said after the 4-2 win over New York.Anderson said a few inches either way could've made for a much more serious injury."It hit her in the meat. I guess if it got up on the bone or the shoulder blade or something, the trainer said it could have shattered it. No place is good, but if it had to be somewhere, at least it didn't get a bone," he said.Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi: "Very scary and it had to be very scary for him, watching him run over there. Thank God she is OK. She is a tough lady, she stayed. She didn't go to the hospital, nothing. I suspect you are not going to see him come out for many things, either."Spring training ballparks are much smaller than stadiums where regular-season games are held. But along with being more cozy, spring parks can be more dangerous because fans often sit closer to the field.The backstop netting at George M. Steinbrenner Field goes all the way from behind the plate to the roof, and extends toward the dugouts. Span's mother was sitting only a few rows off the field, in the first section where the netting ends."It's kind of a dangerous spot," Hughes said. "I think they should move the net all the way to the dugout because you can get those foul balls like that."Fans are often reminded to be alert for balls and bats that might go flying into the stands. But with objects traveling so fast, such injuries become perils of the game.Hall of Famer Bob Feller heard about the Span accident and recalled the time he threw a pitch that was fouled off and hit his mom — on Mother's Day."She was sitting right next to the dugout at Comiskey Park in Chicago," the 91-year-old Feller said at Cleveland's camp in Goodyear, Ariz. "It hit her right above the eye, broke her glasses and she needed seven stitches. It was in 1939. Some Mother's Day for her, wasn't it? I was pretty upset, but had to keep on pitching."