High speed ‘Ham…

May 23rd, 2010 by Uncle Flip

The weekend started off big for me in the metro. I slept too lat,e then headed out to Barber Motorsports Park for Legends of Motorsports, a Bobby Rahal Signature Event. It was my first time out to the park, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have planned on going had I not been given free tickets. Now, I can confidently say I plan to go back- but perhaps not on such a blazing hot day.

I arrived at parking lot C, and went across the street to a hillside on one of the turns. I went as far down the hill as I could, and got some shots through the fence. These are obviously NOT the same race.

Race 1

Race 2

It quickly got too intense for me out in the lack of shade (I tend to burst into flames in direct sunlight), so I climbed the hill best I could (I am NOT in shape), and took the tram over to the other side of the track. There, I found a nice shady spot on a hillside with large rocks on which to sit, and watched a few more of the short races. The new spot allowed for some tighter shots- a bit too tight in the first one!

too tight!

McLaren in the lead.

After a while, I decided to hop the tram again and head over to the paddock area and race control. Along the way, I spotted a sculpture that seems to pay tribute to the thing that inspired Barber in the first place, the motorcycle.

Hail the cycle!

My destination turned out to be the place where I should have started- and is where I spent the rest of the day. On the way down to the track, I could walk among the teams as they prepped their cars for the races (or did maintenance after the races, as in the first pic, which features a car you recently saw trailing the McLaren). I could also see some historic racers. The second pic is the March/Cosworth in which Bobby Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500.

off the track...

Rahal's ride...

Next, I took a trip down to the staging area where the cars are lined up for the races. There’s a bevy of young ladies there who have one purpose: to hold umbrellas over the drivers before the races to keep the sun off them. One of them didn’t even manage that task too well, and seemed to be keeping the sun off herself more effectively.

Sunny side of the ...oh, nevermind....

It was pretty impressive hanging out down there, among the racers. I enjoyed seeing the lineups of some awesome cars before they hit the track. That’s the first shot. The second is a line up of the drivers waiting for the following race.

Lineup 1

Lineup 2

If you’ve never been close to these cars when they start their engines, you can’t get a feeling for how loud they are. One of the umbrella bearers, however, did!


This side of the track seemed to be a good spot for watching the races, as there’s a second floor observation platform in the shade. It’s the perfect place to be for the fall of the checkered flag.


In one of the final races of the day, there was a lovely old fellow who was last in the lineup- but first in being cool. He and his wife had toured around Europe in his little blue racer before he turned it into a racer- and they actually got five bags in that thing with them! Unfortunately, he had some sort of trouble, and had to exit the track before the race finished.

Cool cat...

Finally, one more shot of one of the ladies. This one didn’t get an umbrella. That’s because she has one big talent- she can show the racers which way leads to the track. :)

THAT way.....

It was a fun day out at Barber- and if you have even a passing interest in racing, I encourage you to go!

Lots O’ Ham Ahead….

May 21st, 2010 by Uncle Flip

If you’re in the greater Birmingham megalopolis this weekend, there’s lots on tap. First, the events that started today, and continue all weekend:

      Imagicon is on at The McWane Center, Old Car Heaven, and a few other locations. It’s a sci-fi and fantasy con featuring performances, parties, and workshops on a variety of things ranging from anime to costuming to…..hard science! I hope to drop by to gawk at the guys dressed as Lord Vader, who are passing out form the high heat we’re expecting this weekend.

That’s hardly everything this weekend, though….

      Saturday night after barber I hope to stop by to see the Tragic City Rollers take on the Columbia Quad Squad. It’s been a while since I went to a roller derby bout, and hopefully, this time I won’t arrive an hour late like I did last time.

So…if you’re not in the ‘Ham this weekend, you should be!

The Lessons of Do Dah Day.

May 21st, 2010 by Uncle Flip

Sorry these pics are a bit late. It’s been a busy week. Last Saturday, my dear friend Kate (whom I hadn’t seen in far too long) came into town, and we went to one of the silliest-named fests ever, Do Dah Day. It’s actually a very good fest, as it raises money for The Greater Birmingham Humane Society. Unfortunately, there were some things going on that weren’t entirely humane to the dogs or the humans. Let’s get started with the nine lessons of Do Dah Day.

First, a human being makes excellent furniture for a large dog. Don’t try to fight it. The dog will win.

Human Furniture

Second, dogs have two expressions – overwhelming joy, and nothing at all. Even with an arm in the way, I think you can guess which one this is.

Happy happy joy joy!

Third, you should never dress your dog like a hot dog. Even they know it’s not clever at all.

Hot dog...in more ways than one.

Fourth, you should also never dress your dog like a hooker. It was really disturbing that there were two dogs in the same outfit. This is horribly humiliating for them on at least two levels.

Hooker hound.

Fifth, don’t show off canine cremation urns when the bowsers are about. They get really creeped out by it….

Canine cremation urn.

Sixth, it’s for drinking, not for swimming.

Drink or swim...

Seventh, never get the same hairdo as your dog – especially if it looks better on the dog.

Dog 'do...

Eighth, one-eyed chihuahuas can be every bit as creepy as two-eyed chihuahuas.

The curse of the one-eyed chihuahua...

And finally, dog spit is good for the skin. Just let ‘em at it.

Spittle spa.

If you’re ever in town on Do Dah Day, definitely stop by. The music is good, the people are good, and of course the dogs are good. In fact, they’re some of my favourite people.

Dueling demonstrations.

April 22nd, 2010 by Uncle Flip

I’m a couple of days late with this, but it’s been a couple of busy/eventful days.

Tuesday morning, I was out having a coffee and reading, when I ran into my friend Rev. Jack Zylman. He mentioned he was there for a Birmingham Peace Project event, so I followed him over. A group of BPP folks were there to welcome marchers headed north to draw attention to the plight of the poor.

Peace Project

A photographer from the competiton showed up, and interviewed Jack….but there’s something else happening in the background….

Jack Interview

On another street corner, PETA had nearly naked women in a shower, to promote a vegtarian lifestyle…

Dueling demonstrations!

Fortunately, I have a good lens. Here’s a closer look.

Nearly naked PETA ladies

I was going to head over to get some shots of the showering ladies, but things got interesting on our corner. A city worker showed up and asked if Peace Project had a permit for a protest. They explained it wasn’t a protest, but they were merely gathering to wait for the marchers. He seemed satisfied with that, and asked only that people spread out so they didn’t block the sidewalk.

Do you have a permit?

Shortly after we fanned out, we saw smoke coming for a drain grate in the sidewalk. A fire truck rolled up shortly after, but first turned to go toward the PETA folks (wouldn’t you?). Eventually, they came over and inspected the drain. A fire extinguisher solved the problem.

White smoke...they've elected a new Pope

Our next visitor was a guy with a bag of burgers. He apparently showed up to offer them to the PETA folks. (It was at least his second PETA event. Last time around, he offered them fried chicken.) Of cours,e the peta folks refused- bt there were some hungry non-vegetarians in Peace Project. Here, he’s trying to get rid of his last burger.

Free burger...

I finally decided to go across and visit with the ladies. I noticed they had a visitor, as well. Apparently, this police officer’s only job is to videotape demonstrations such as this.

Camera cop

It turns out, my timing was bad. Just as I arrived, the ladies were suiting up (note the robes inside the shower) to break down and leave.

Shower's over

BTW, the PETA folks were really nice people. I never did catch the name of the following lass, but we chatted for a bit, and I found she’d been at the previous PETA event in Birmingham. Maybe we’ll meet again. Either way, it’s very rare that on my second meeting with a young lass, we part ways with her in a bathrobe. Gotta fix that.

Rolling up to go...

Your admin is an idiot.

April 22nd, 2010 by Uncle Flip

I think I just bulk-deleted some comments by mistake. Many apologies.

And this is free? Yes, please!

April 18th, 2010 by Uncle Flip

Tabla and sitar and sarangi, oh my! Tonight, the Birmingham Museum of Art host a free concert of Indian music- and even threw in some good Indian snacks (provided by Taj India) during intermission. This is the sort of thing I love to attend: events that show there is culture in Alabama.

The initial bill was Pandit Ramesh Mishra, Pandit Joydeep Ghosh, and Pandit Subhen Chatterjee. Unfortunately, the volcanic ash cloud over Europe stranded Pt. Ghosh and Pt. Chatterjee at an airport in Germany. Fortunately, that meant they were replaced with five awesome Indian musicians, all residing here in the metro. Culture AND local talent? They could charge for this….

First up, an awesome father & son act…


Next up, an equally talented local trio. I didn’t manage to get them all in one shot.



Finally, the man we’d all been waiting for…and he was brilliant!


Number one son also got to play with Pt. Mishra. Dad apologized in advance for his tabla skills. Nothing to worry about- your boy did just fine! Pt. Mishra seemed very happy with his new-found precussionist.


All of the locals seemed to be apologetic for the quality of their playing (especially in the presence of a talent such as Pt. Mishra), but I’d be happy to have them play for me any day. Well done, guys!

Dragging Birmingham into the 20th century.

March 24th, 2010 by Uncle Flip

I just watched a local news anchor interviewing a guy about what Twitter is. Yikes. It’s been huge for a good long time now. How can one not be at least mildly familiar with it by now? I even see Twitter’s popularity fading a bit already. Once more, Birmingham brings you last decade’s news!

Overheard at J. Clyde…

March 24th, 2010 by Uncle Flip

“I want a Mary Poppins!” – Shana

Good people on the move.

March 21st, 2010 by Uncle Flip

I had a chance to stop by Good People Brewing Company (the name is no accident) on Saturday. I was there for a small, informal beer tasting to celebrate my friend Joseph’s birthday. The tasting turned out to be in two locations, as GPBC is on the move. This is the current brewery, below street level in Five Points South (complete with Free The Hops president Stuart Carter jokingly scolding Joseph):

No more snorting the yeast, young man....

We didn’t get past two beers before we went on the move to the future location of GPBC, which is down by Railroad Park. Note that it’s just slightly larger, and this picture doesn’t even take it all in.


Joseph found a tricycle, and took off with a sack full of world-class beers in tow.


He eventually came back, and we sampled the brews. We also got to try a beer GPBC hasn’t yet rolled out. Hopefully, you’ll get to try it soon. The move is in two weeks or so- and after that, I expect some really big things from the brewery. GPBC has blown away lots of people already, and it just keeps getting better.

The wearin’ of the green…or the black…or the red & blue…

March 21st, 2010 by Uncle Flip

The magic city finally got around to its St. Patrick’s day celebration on Saturday. Some folks might say the city was late, but I look at it a little bit differently. The city is trying to keep in the current tradition as it is in Ireland- in which you have a week of activities, including parades (more on that in a very short moment). Also, you can’t really blame organizers for waiting until the weekend. There probably wouldn’t be too much of a crowd mid-day on a weekday.

When I got to the parade, the first thing I saw was rather odd. I’m still not quite sure what Darth Vader and a bunch of Ghostbusters have to do with St. Paddy’s, but it was amusing to watch.

Vader and the gang pass on pizza...

My amusement faded quickly, when the metal cover in the following picture tossed me on my bum on the sidewalk. (Here, it’s still sitting at a cocky angle, celebrating its victory over me.) I’m fine, but my SLR and both lenses got scraped up. Darth Vader threw me an evil look, but that’s the only kind of look he has.

Evil!  Impolite and evil!

Oh yeah….I’m also not sure what Spiderman has to do with St. Patrick. :)

St. Spidey....

The Tragic City Rollers don’t really have much to do with St. Patrick’s day either…but I’m not going to argue too much on this one. :)

GOing green is kinda cute....

OK, so on to the more traditional stuff. You’ve gotta have pipers…

St. Paddy's pipers...

…and fiddlers…

Fiddlin' around...

…and dancers…

What goes up....

…and parrots. Wait. Parrots? Well, it is green- and that seems to be the only requirement.

St. Patrick was a parrot....

It was a fun time, with a little oddity. That’s just the way I like it.