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Your Weekly Hoodoo Thread

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Hoodoo - 1, Voodoo - 0...stay thirsty, my friends.

Hoodoo-ing to a championship standard since 2009...
Hoodoo-ing to a championship standard since 2009...

Well, folks, now we know the score: Hoodoo - 1, Voodoo - 0.

If that last weekend wasn't near about as pure and unadulterated a display of the power of the Hoodoo, then I guess there ain't such a thing existin' under the sun. Bama grabbed ‘holt of those dang-ole swamp Tigers last Saturday, and deluge be damned, skinned them from tip to tail. I don't remember seeing a defense as dominant (against a fairly stout LSU team at that) since these boys in crimson took the field in the 1992 Sugar Bowl against the Fightin' Torettas of The U.

In conclusion, I can best sum up the Tide's performance last Saturday evening with a quote from 19th century Victorian poet of repute, one Sir Ric "Nature Boy" Flair: thusly said Mr. Flair "WOOOOOOOOOO...woo."

Now, not a people to live in the past (unlike some other fan bases we know...lookin' at you Tigers of all stripes), let us sally forth into a brave new world of football possibilities, shall we? With an Ole Miss loss that can only be the work of an giddily-pleased Football Loki last weekend, the Tide's victory over the swamp people has set our boys up as the odds-on favorite (you pronounce that last "i" in its long vowel sound incarnation, just in case you're not working with OWB's Hoodoos on Tape...) to win the SEC West and face swamp people of a different breed in the SEC Championship Game.

But alas, though it is fun to forecast the future, it is also folly. For as Our Dark Lord Nick Saban has instructed us on many, many an occasion, the most important game is the next game. And this next game will pit that ferocious Tide defense against easily the most accomplished quarterback in the SEC, one Dak Prescott (we Southerners pronounces that surname "Press-cut," just in case the more northerly inclined of you were wondering.) Now though he has a name reminiscent of canned Danish ham, the feller can flat play ball. And as we know from past run-ins with these Bulldoggish types, our beloved Crimson Tide tends to struggle after an always-physical confrontation with LSU the week before.

Therefore, let not your Hoodoo guard down this week, folks. While we all threw our Hoodoo sacrifices at the foot of Loki's throne to ensure victory over the Whovians in the previous week, that Hoodoo is even more needed this week, the next week and in the final week of the season against those cotdanged animal husbanders from across the state. As ODL has implored us, the faithful, the team goal is to go 1-0 each week. Now get your Hoodoo on now, ya heeyah?

Now this week, given the geographical proximity of Starkville to Tuscaloosa (the two schools are the closest two SEC schools in regard to geography), I have elected to pull a Hoodoo tale from my own childhood days spent in the Tuscaloosa-orbit berg of Vance. Now most of you may know the gas-station-and-a-catfish-pond known as Vance from the presence of the Mercedes plant wedged up there on 1-20. But any old-schooler of central Alabama knows that the real Vance sits down there on Highway 11, a straight shot between Bessemer (pronounced "Bess-muh" in the local vernacular) and T'Town, just a junction of rural highways right there between Coaling and Woodstock, down just a piece from Brent.

As a child, we spent our Thanksgivings in this dot on a map many drive by and never notice, unless of course those same folk need gasoline or an icy cold Mountain Dew. How did this Bayou-born azalea-cuddler from Mobile end up in the brick-baked red-clay hardpan of central Alabama, you may ask? I have my grandma-ma to thank for that (the 4.4 -40 runnin' Heisman Trophy winnin' baller grandma-ma with the mad hops, killer crossover and mean jumper). You see, my grandma-ma, now about to strike her 95th year on this God-blessed earth, grew up in her formative years on a 40 acre piece of the greenest, rollin'-est little piece of earth this side of Eden. The only girl amongst three older brothers, my grandma-ma weathered the indignities of such, serving as the tackling dummy when one was called for, or being launched from springy trees bent to the ground by her older brothers (among other such backwoods early-century devilry.)

That said, my grandma-ma loved her brothers dearly, and though she has outlived them all, as a boy they still haunted their hometown there Vance, AL. Her eldest brother, Drury, he died from the cancer when I was but a wee bit. Her youngest brother (still her senior) Lloyd, well he was a different bird, an Alabamian who, after serving in Navy in the Pacific during Dubble-ya Dubble-ya Two, decided to forsake the emerald goodness of Alabama for the frozen gray of Chicago (of all places.) After a life spent in the City of Broad Shoulders, he was an anomaly in the backwoods of Vance when he returned after retirement: a pale skinned, Yankee-affected fella who despite his best efforts, never really totally reacclimated himself to life in the Southern latitudes. Loved him to death, he was a good man, but that Yankee accent always was just a touch, well, unsettling (you people know what I mean.)

Now the third brother...the third brother was a whole different story. My Uncle Ellard WAS Alabama, especially the rural parts of it. A leather-skinned, broad-shouldered gnarled hickory trunk of a man, my Uncle Ellard was equal parts grit, gravel, sap and spit. He was as tough as the cowhide he tanned and tacked to the backside of his smokehouse, and as wise in the ways of country life as a cow-pokin', truck-drivin' Confucius. Uncle Ellard (Lord rest his soul) had a shock of yella-white hair a-flarin' from his jug-shaped head (which, more times than not, was covered with a straw broad-brimmed hat or his favorite Caterpillar mesh-backed ball cap if he was outside), his chapped lips and nose dotted with the pasty-white blotches of pre-melanoma. He squinted through the owlish plastic-framed glasses that rested on the previously broken bridge below his eyes, his eyes sagging slits that had seen more life in a decade than many saw in a lifetime.

Uncle Ellard was Coach Bryant and John Wayne blended into a razor-sharp, creosote post-tough sage who those in his hometown called upon whenever there was some particularly tough predicament on the table. For example, when the town of Vance elected to extend sanitary sewer up Bama Rock Garden Road after years of the residents depending on long-drilled wells and septic systems, the folks who were undecided came to ask Uncle Ellard what he thought. Sure, Vance had a mayor, but many in that neck of the woods depended on Uncle Ellard for advice, a man who cheated death more times than a tomcat, a walking Lazarus raised from the dead so many times folks figured the Grim Reaper just gave up and said "Hell with it."

Uncle Ellard was the drill sergeant who brought many a boy in my mother's family from childhood to manhood. Those transformations from boy-chrysalis to man-moth happened right there at the family homestead, 40-some-odd acres of pasture and timberland fed by an ice-cold, limestone-filtered spring, complete with a century old farmhouse that had a broad front porch and pecan and hickory trees to throw shade across the tin roof. We boys would get shipped up to Vance unceremoniously, typically in the heat of the summer, where Uncle Ellard would proceed to work our asses like a passel of Hebrew slaves, doing everything from stringing rusty barbed wire, to corralling cattle, to slangin' ripe watermelons into the back of his pick-up as he trolled slowly among the vines planted months before in the holler.

During these times with Uncle Ellard, I was privileged enough (in between my aches and pains and bouts of absolute dehydration-induced exhaustion) to witness several acts that I consider formative (just so happens these same acts are personal waypoints, the stars connected in the constellation that explain some of the history of my development.)

For example, I remember plinkin' cans and old jars with my cousins in the bottom land a few hundred yards from the house one Thanksgiving. We were pot-shotting, hitting and missing, leaving far too many of those Nazi cans standing than Uncle Ellard could stomach. Out of the blue and in a fluid flurry, he whipped his gold-receivered Browning Humpback to his hip and unloaded a barrage of birdshot into our make-shift shootin' gallery, pulverizing everything with a few pulls of the trigger. He chuckled and offered this as his only explanation: "Better shoot when you can shoot, never know if you'll get ‘nother chance to pull the trigger." Sage words, indeed. As an adult, I see the wisdom in this lesson that he taught us in a tempest of lead shot and burnt gunpowder that singed sour in our nostrils, as decisiveness is one quality I possess in abundance (even to my own detriment at times.)

Then there was the time that we (my two uncles, Uncle Ellard, and the five of us boys) took to the hardwood forest on the homeplace in search of turkeys for the Thanksgiving table. We broke into three groups, the young'uns pairing off with adults of repute. I, of course, was hitched to my Uncle Ellard and my cousin Marcus.

As we walked through the leaf-strewn woods, scanning for signs of turkey trespass, Uncle Ellard's sharp eye caught movement in the top of a chestnut oak tree, and in one fluid movement, he swung his shotgun to his shoulder and tapped a brushy-tailed critter above. The squirrel flopped from the force of the shot, wallowed over onto his back, and dropped towards the moist floor of the forest, hitting and hanging on the limbs of the tree as he tumbled.

Without ceremony, Uncle Ellard walked over to the fallen rodent, plucked an Old Timer Stockman from his pants pocket and with a flourish, unzipped the white belly of the squirrel, revealing his wet crimson insides. He dug in with his gnarled, arthritic fingers, scraping out the animal's entrails with his bare hands, hollowing out its gut to the rib cage, then tossing the carcass in the game fold on the back of his shooting vest, where it continued to bleed through the roughed fabric in a maroonish depth of color.

Seeing that we "city-folk" were a little taken aback by the graphic display, his only explanation was this: "Better ta go ‘head and do the dirty work now, won't get any less dirty in the waitin'..." Again, if this ain't good old-fashioned country wisdom, then call me peanut butter and spread my ass on a saltine cracker.

Needless to say, this man was bigger than life to all of us who found ourselves learning the rites of manhood at his side (or beneath his whip...man would work John Henry pert-near to death). So when my time came for the ultimate test, a summer alone at Uncle Ellard's house, I was half-excited and half-petrified. I mean, sure, I always loved being on the farm, loved huntin' and fishin' and seein' the stars at night. But then I knew there'd be the Spartan part, the 14 hour workdays in the blazin' Alabama heat, the early mornings, the lack of air conditioning and other modern conveniences like cable teevee. And to compound matters, I wouldn't even have the consolation of the only woman outside of my Grandma-ma who could put up with the constant barrage of my uncle's hard-assishness, his German-born wife Gerda. Aunt Gerda would be travelling home to Dusseldorf that summer to visit her family for the first time in a decade, so it would just be me and the old man for the duration of the trip.

Uncle Ellard apparently saw my presence on the farm as a chance to get about four years' worth of work backlog done in a month's time. From the time I got there, he busted my ass. He made me learn how to drive (I told y'all that one before), he made me dig a cotdang water line trench through the iron-ore laden soil of central Alabama with nothing more than a mattock ax (I told y'all about that one too, time I got eat-slap-up by fireants, pronounced in those parts as "fahr-aints"). We painted the house, replaced part of the roof on his barn, helped his buddy Billy raise the poles on his pole barn (doing the latter during one of those mean-ass lightnin'-slangin' purple-gray thunderheads that roars across the hills of the middle part of the state in relief of the summer heat.)

As I awoke one morning, the smell of fried salt-ham drifiting into the bedroom in greasy peels that called me from slumber, Uncle Ellard informed me that the coming day would be different.

"We goan take'er easy today, boy." I wasn't even sure if he knew my name, as most of the time his declaratives and imperatives weren't cluttered up with foolishness such as names. "Takin' ‘er easy" sounded great to me, though I admittedly had never known him to do any such thing, particularly when there was perfectly good manual labor to be done.

"Okay Uncle Ellard, what we gonna do?"

"We gonna go through that shed, fix what we can fix, scrap what we can't."

Well...damn. That didn't sound like takin' ‘er easy at all, no siree. Matter of fact, that sounded something akin to building the cotdang pyramids with a few rollin' logs and a passel of ropes. You see, this shed he was talking about wasn't your typical eight-by-eight toolshed common in the landscape of suburbia. No, this thing was much larger, but even then, its size didn't belie the sheer depth of detritus Uncle Ellard had shoved, craned, wedged and forced into this plank-sided structure located on the edge of a falling bank that sloped out into the south pasture. It was like a dust-covered steampunk country mad scientist's laboratory, truth be told: there were hundreds, nay, thousands of trinkets and scraps and machines (working or not) collected over decades of mechanical pack-ratism. Being a child of the Depression, Uncle Ellard kept every machine he ever owned until its outright uselessness and obsoletism could no longer be denied. Then, upon such an occasion, he'd strip it down to its elemental parts in an act of mechanical fission, thinking at some point those parts could be of some use.

There were no fewer than 850,000 tools, parts and gadgets hanging from the rafters, tucked into boxes and leaning against the walls of that building. I tell you, though I enjoyed the treasure hunt aspect of the proposed endeavor, I knew it would be hard (and ridiculously pointless) work, to be sure.

We began the arduous task of working through the piles of stuff, rats scrambling from pile to pile as we made headway through the thicket of rust and weathered gray wooden handles. Uncle Ellard happened upon a long-handled gadget with a yellow and green aluminum cover and one end and a braided piece of line on the other. This item caused him to pause for a moment, as he turned it around, staring at it with a crooked eye as if having trouble discerning its potential usefulness.

"What's that?" I asked.

"What's this? Aw boy, you don't know what this is?" He held it out for my closer observation, a look of disgust on his face, apparently disappointed that in my citification, I didn't recognize the nature of this medieval torture tool with which he had presented me.

"Uh, no sir. Looks like a trollin' motor maybe?"

Yep, further examination of his glare confirmed it...he was disgusted.

"Boy, that ain't no trollin' motor...that there is the first weed-eater I ever bought, least twenty-‘er-so years old, older ‘an you!" That final point seemed to give him a little joy, but it was fleeting.

"Huh, neat." I was ready to move on. Apparently, he was not. He turned and walked towards the open shed door, picking up a pair of channel lock pliers and a flat-head screwdriver on his way out.

"What we gonna do with that?" I asked.

"We goan fix it, get it runnin' again. Still got life left in it."

Sure as hell didn't look like it still had life left in it. Looked like it had died, been reanimated, killed off, reanimated again, then killed one more time for good measure. Thing was shot, had a bent shaft, and was bleeding purple-black sludge from the gasket around what looked like a tiny carburetor. This weed-eater was so old, it didn't have any plastic on it at all, the shroud over the motor was made out of aluminum for crissake. I thought two-cycled machinery the likes of this one had been killed off the planet by some meteor impact eons before the present era, so old and foreign was this particular implement of pre-historic lawn maintenance.

"Uh, Uncle Ellard, you sure you don't want to just buy you a new one? I've seen ‘em up at the Black and Decker store, they don't cost but a..."

"Boy, you don't just cast somethin' aside cuz there's a newer model out there. They don't make ‘em like this anymore, this here's a warhorse, caint put ‘im out to pasture yet, still got fight in ‘im." (That was another one of those lessons I was talkin' about, the man was like the Book of Proverbs or somethin', spit out wisdom the way a meth-head spits out teeth.)

Then he shot me that look I had come to understand meant "Don't push me to say what I wanna say," a hard-frowned visage of frustration tainted with disappointment and just a touch of mean-as-hell. So I resolved myself that we'd spend whatever amount of time he'd deemed appropriate tearing down, then rebuilding, Methuselah's weed-eater.

The taking-apart was the best part, as I had spent quite a bit of time disassembling cast-off electronics and implements of kitchen gadgetry as a boy. I had my own tool set (which in reality amounted to a few screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, some needlenoses and a crescent wrench.) But with that meager assortment of hand tools, I had personal disassembled half of the modern Western World's technological ingenuity just to see how it worked. Now, I ain't claimin' to be in possession of one of those there "engineering" brains. No, if I found myself at the top of the "Knack" tree, I'd manage to fall my ass out of it without hitting so much as a single branch. But I just liked tearin' shit up, which is a preference I've held dear well into my adulthood (if one can call it that.)

So after emptying fuel from the aluminum fuel tank, after carefully setting aside the bolts and nuts in complementing fashion so as to keep track of their order, we were in possession of a full array of non-functioning dinosaur weed-eater parts. We had performed this dissection on the back porch of the old farmhouse, which amounted to a Beautilite cover spanning a deck of planks that were about a foot off of the Alabama dirt underneath.

We determined that the problem with the weed-eater (best we could tell) was that it wasn't getting the spark needed to crank, which we tracked back to the weakly-functioning recoiler that wound the familiar string one would pull to fire off the little engine. After closer examination, we were able to come to the conclusion that the thin coil of flat metal wire that served as the recoiler spring had become so weak during its apparent millennia of usage that it no long held the umph to fire a spark.

"Well that there's the problem, boy. Now we just gotta find another spring. I'ma call the lawnmower shop down in Tuscaloosa and see if they have one in stock, be back in a minute. Hold onto that spring, don't lose it. We'll need it to match the part."

Uncle Ellard went on into the house, where I heard him proceed to holler a description of the part into the phone towards some poor, unfortunate (and afterwards deaf as Helen Keller) individual on the other end. In the meanwhile, I tinkered with the spring, trying to coil it up tightly, unwinding it slightly, manipulating it to somehow reload its phantom tension.

That's when it happened. As if in some slow-motion, freeze-frame disaster unfurling itself before my very eyes, I saw the spring leap from my fingers, I saw it hit the planks of the deck, I saw it half roll while pitching towards its side...and finally, I saw it slip long-ways in between two planks before disappearing out of sight.

"OH NO!" I was terrified. I froze up. Had I really just done what I thought I had done? I peeped through the space between the planks, and sure enough, there glimmering in the broken rays of dimmed sunlight, I saw the worn metal edge of the spring half covered in eons of boot dust that had preceded the spring in falling between the cracks.

I knew this was trouble...big trouble. There was surely no chance of replacing that damn ancient artifact of a spring, and here I had gone and LOST THE THING! Surely Uncle Ellard would roast my ass for this. I panicked...the kind of panic where one follows his first instinct, that most deeply engrained subconscious action known as "fight or flight." Since there was no sense in fightin' the spring, flight took over and I began to get up and run. Thankfully, logic took over before I could make too much of a spectacle of myself, as this was no time for womanly panic. And honestly, where the hell was I gonna flee? Into the middle of a cow pasture. Com'on...no, I simply had to find a way to recover that damned spring from between those planks, and I had to do so quickly. After all, I couldn't let Uncle Ellard know that I had done the unthinkable, dropped his spring and potentially put his prized warhorse out to pasture. Not only would he be pissed, but I'd lose the little bit of respect I'd worked hard to garner.

The phone hollerin' stopped. I heard his boots thumping as he walked across the floor to the back door.

"Well boy, they said they ain't had that part in stock since nineteen-and-eighty-five," he said, with something akin to a chuckle on the end of it. "They said they maybe could fabricate somethin' that'd fit it if I had the old one to replicate, I reckon they can take that old part and rework ‘im a little. Get that part an' let's go to town."

Shit. Double shit. How we gonna rework a part I just dropped in the Abyssal Never-reaches of the Underporch? I didn't know if it was better to tell him about my betrayal now and face the music, or try to wiggle and squirm until an avenue of escape presented itself. Either way, I knew that there was a high probability of pain in my immediate future, and given the fact I'd seen this man strike dead a fully grown mama cow once with a single blow of his hard-hick'ry walking stick (Hoodoo for another time, boys, that one was a doozy), I was damn sure I didn't want this particular misdeed to lead to anything nearly quite so disastrous to my personal well-being.

"Hey Uncle Ellard, why dontcha call that place over in Bessemer and see if maybe they happen to have one...that place looked decrepit enough to have a part that old."

He looked at me with his head cocked the way his border collies did when they didn't understand his command. Then he grumbled "Good thinkin'" and nodded one bob of his head before walking back to the phone, where he once again yelled for everything he was worth into the telephone at some other unfortunate recipient regarding said part.

I knew I had but a few minutes to figure out a way to fish that damn spring out from between those boards. First, I tried to pick it up on the end of the screwdriver, but that wasn't happening. An act of a desperate man is all that right there was. I tried to wedge the tip of the needlenose pliers between the board (though I knew damn good and well they were too wide), hoping, just hoping, by some divine alteration of the laws of physics (or Indiana Jones Lost Ark spook typa shit) the tips would shrink down and fit between the boards so that I could retrieve that part below.

I saw the futility of my cause, and that familiar heat of panic began to build in my chest like coals blown to flame by the bellows of fear-pressure. "Com'on OWB, man, THINK!"

Then, it came to me. I remembered that there were fish hooks in the tackle box on the corner of the porch, and hearing Uncle Ellard still yelling into the phone, I knew I had a chance to grab one. Maybe if I tied the hook to a screwdriver with a little monofilament, I'd be able to reach down and catch the edge of that coiled steel, pulling it back into my possession and possibly saving my own hindparts in the process.

I pulled a size 2/0 worm hook out of the top shelf of the tackle box, grabbed a piece of loose line and found a screwdriver long enough to reach my quarry. My plan had legs, and I patted myself on the back a little for coming up with such an ingenious scheme under such extreme duress. I began to fish around between the boards for the spring, my hands shaking slightly, the whole act being somewhat blind since there's only so much one can cram through the space between two boards and still see. I'd nip the edge of the part and begin to lift, then it'd drop off. My every hope rode upon retrieving that spring with my invention, but it seemed to always be just a hair short, or a hair too far to the left or right.

Finally, in what amounted to the ultimate in concentration (at least the ultimate in concentration that can be mustered by a terrified young'un with shaky-ass hands), I girded my loins (as much as any pre-teen can gird his loins) and prepared for one final run at it. I could hear Uncle Ellard's boots on the floor, and after finishing his call, he had apparently stopped in the kitchen on his way to the back porch. I knew this would be my last chance before he would be back on the porch and the jig would be up, so to speak.

However, though I gave it my best try, I wasn't quick enough. Uncle Ellard came back out on the porch just as I put the screwdriver back between the planks.

"What you fishin' for, boy?"

I knew my life was over, that my time on earth had been cut all too short. I had made a good run of it, enjoyed a lot of desserts, had seen almost every GI Joe cartoon ever made and had successfully memorized all the lines to the first Star Wars movie. All in all, I had had a good life, albeit a short one.

I wasn't sure what to say, but I was caught red-handed. I burned coal-red with embarrassment, frozen in the paralysis of fear. I looked down at the screwdriver, looked back up at Uncle Ellard, then back at the screwdriver. Through my clumsy sign language, I guess I telegraphed pretty well to him the events that had led up to that point.

"Aw now boy, don't tell me you dropped that part down in between the boards?" There was that look again. I knew what was coming next, and prepared to meet my maker, wincing and closing my eyes the way a whupped dog does whenever someone raises an arm in anger.

I heard boot steps and opened my eyes to find I was alone on the porch, though Uncle Ellard wasn't far off. He was rummaging around in a utility room just inside the back door...a utility room where I knew he kept his shotgun and a .22 rifle for filling the frying pan when he caught squirrels or deer raiding the nearby stand of crabapple trees.

"Oh no, he's gettin' his gun!" I thought. This had escalated rather rapidly, I thought. I knew he'd be angry about my dropping of the part, but was it a crime fit for execution? Surely, these country folks had a more refined system of justice than this? (The humanity!)

That familiar "fight or flight" crept upon ya boy once again, and I decided to make my escape. I started to run, but just then, Uncle Ellard stepped out the back door and caught me by the arm, my fishin' implement still in my hand.

"Where you goin', boy?" He held his left hand up, and in it was something that was...most definitely not a shotgun. Best I could tell, it was one of those little grabby-claw things they sell at hardware shops...you know, the things with a plunger on one end that makes the claws open, then retract. Handy for retrieving lost jewelry, bolts, etc. from between floor-mounted HVAC grates and such.

"Heeyuh, take ‘is and fish that spring out with it." He didn't seem overly mad, which was a pleasant surprise. He walked with me back over to the place where the spring had fallen beneath the deck and gave me a few tips on how to get it out. He saw my crudely devised fishin' implement.

"What's that there? You made that to fish it out? Well, heck, you didn't need my help after all, you had it under control." I couldn't help but burn red again, this time not from shame but from the hot blush of pride I felt. Seems like he appreciated my taking the initiative, pleased that I had learned that lesson and passed that test.

"Well, whatcha waitin' on, boy, go ‘head and get that spring."

After I was able to pull the spring between the boards, Uncle Ellard had one of those sage nuggets of wisdom that he laid on me out of the blue, the verbal curricula to the master level course in the art of manhood that he'd taught to generation after generation of young men in my family.

"Sometimes a man just has to make a way to get the job done..."

Sometimes a man just has to make a way to get the job done...indeed. I've seen it time and time again in my 40 years of life. Sometimes it's on the football field, as we saw in the performance of the Crimson Tide versus Tennessee a few weeks ago. Sometimes it's in finding the resiliency to keep on truckin' in the face of great adversity. Hell, it has been my mantra over the last 18 months since being laid off half way through last year. Nobody has starved yet, as I've continued to remind myself that despite the odds, regardless of the resources one has at his disposal..."Sometimes a man just has to make a way"... I can hear him grumble-growlin' those words to my young ears as if it was yesterday, spiritual manna that keeps me sustained and pluggin' away, knowing one way or another, things are going to work out so long as I don't give up.

Once I had the part, Uncle Ellard summoned me to the truck. "Com'on boy, goin' into town." I figured we were going into T-Town to get the replacement part fabricated. But when we got down to Highway 11, Uncle Ellard whipped the old white Ford truck to the east rather than the west and pointed it's square front directly towards Bessemer.

"I thought Tuscaloosa was that way?" I was puzzled. I mean, I wasn't a navigator of any repute, but I was pretty damn sure I knew the way to the big city.

"Nah, we goin' to Bess-muh, called that shop and they said they had a part in stock...turns out we didn't need that ole spring anyway, coulda left it under the porch." Then he laughed at me, the way he'd laughed at me when a mama cow cornered me in the corral for getting in between her and her calf. I couldn't help but laugh a little myself.

Football Loki, heed my humble request...help the boys in crimson make a way and finish the damn job. After all, seasons (and defenses) like this one only come ‘round so often, gotta pull the trigger while they can. They've damn sure done the dirty work and come out the other side.

Roll Tide, y'all.