Archive for November 2008

I Spent my Life as a Pack Mule

November 30, 2008

        Someone blogged they were a thoroughbred.  I thought about that, and decided I spent my life as a plow horse, or maybe a pack mule.  I guess I was like a ‘King Wilkie’ (Bill Monroe’s horse) or maybe a wheel hoss.  (that single minded beast who spent a whole lifetime going in circles.)  I like dogs too, ’cause mine have always been loyal.

        What kinda animal were y’all while here on earth?  For example, I would assume Ms. Cindy was a loyal canine and spent her days running with Ranger.

       I’m trying to get my MS done by Jan 1- still on track, but might run a week or so past goal.  How y’all cranked out a whole novel in one month is beyond me.  I am just too slow.

Dr. B


Golf and Music- The Ties That Bind

November 29, 2008

        Now I know you might wonder.  What could be the common threads of  golf and music?  Before the Mandolin Case comes out in 2009, I wanted you guys to have a leg up on the rest of the world.  

        One time I had a case of the hooks.  There is a guy on the East Coast who is a very serious amateur golfer who got them straightened out.  He was not only a golfer, but knew a little music too, so I thought he might be able to get inside my head and solve the problem.  Here’s how it went.

        “Say you got a hitch in your swing?”

        “Yeah.  I’m fighting the hooks.”

        “Hmn.  Better learn a fade.  Like Trevino said, you can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen.”

        “He’s right.”

        “Tell me about your music, Doc.”

        “We play bluegrass.”

        “A lot of that is pretty fast isn’t it?”


        “There’s a reason they call ’em breakdowns.”

        “Sure.  Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Bonnie and Clyde.”

        “Oh even beyond that.  You see, if you get too quick your swing will break down.  Let me see your set-up.”

       I stood over the ball.

       “Hmn.  Not too bad.  Grip’s a bit strong though.  Turn your left hand to where only one knuckle shows.”

        “Like this?”

        “Yeah, that’s better.  And you’re too tight, too.  Sam Snead said hold the club like a small bird you want to return to the nest.  You’re gonna strangle the sumbitch.”

        I flopped my wrists in a lazy way.  “How’s that?”

        “Much better.  Now, take a back-swing.” 

        I took it back as near parallel as my old back would allow. 

        “Ah there’s part of it.  You need to finish your back-swing.  If you don’t you’ll get too quick and come over the top.  From there either you’ll hit a wild slice or trap hook it and go left.”

          “Trap hook- that’s it.  I never slice.”  I swung again.  “I guess I’m impatient.”

         “Golf’s like all the good things in life Bibey.  You have to be patient and give it some time.  Wait on it.”  He took the club out of my hand and demonstrated.  “See how I let the club lag?  Patience, my boy.”  He handed it back.  “You don’t double cross do you?”

        “Heck no.  I ain’t that bad.”    

         “Good.  Now about setting it to music.  Snead said he would think in terms of Waltz time- three quarters.  You know any waltzes?”

        “Sure. Tennesse Waltz, Kentucky Waltz, I know a bunch of old ones.

        “Older than that.  Think Lawrence Welk.  A one and a two..and a…”

        “Man if I think Lawrence Welk I won’t hit it 200 yards.  I’ll be like those old guys at the Club I used to make fun of as a kid.”

        “You wanta beat the hooks or not?”

        “O.K.  A one and a two… and a….”  I drew the club back.  Pow.  240 with a gentle draw.  Wow. 

        “See, told you.”

        He cured my hooks.  And as it turned out this guy knew a lot about medicine too, and was very influential in the Mandolin Case.  As to how golf and music intersect with medicine, well that’s anther story.  But it’s in the book, and it is real.  I’ll get to it another post soon.

Dr. B

Kindred Spirits/Country Docs

November 27, 2008

        Hey guys, remember how I told y’all about Dr. Zink’s Country Doctor Compilation?  I heard from a fellow contributor today, and linked him up on my blogroll.  We both have an article in Dr. Zink’s 2009 publication. 
        I only have one request.  Just because he’s younger and better looking don’t ditch me.  Read us both.  If you have interest in the reality of the Doctor world, his perspective is worth your time.

Dr. B

Country Doc Says:

November 27, 2008 at 9:32 am e

Dr. Bibey–

I am that fellow country doctor that wrote for Dr. Tzink’s books with his office right next to the liquor store in Elma, WA! Wonderful to see a kindred spirit here. Would love it you would consider reading my blog, The Country Doc Report ( , and even posting from time to time as I try to expand the number of contributors. At any rate, look forward to seeing our work in print some time next year.

Country Doc Says:

November 27, 2008 at 9:32 am e

Y’all make him welcome.  His link is:

Cowboys and Indians and Redemption

November 26, 2008

        When I was a little boy we all played Cowboys and Indians.  My mom has a picture of me as a kid sitting on the back of horse.  I’ve got on a big ole Indian headdress and the girl next door- we called her Dale Evans- sits right behind me in some kinda fake sequined outfit brandishing a pistol.  Lord knows what kind of stereotypical roles we mighta all played- this was long before I knew what the word meant.  Heck it was before stereos, at least in our household.

       I am 100% nonviolent guy, but sometimes I wonder how.   Back then I had a toy gun and holster set.  I’d put them on first thing every morning, and each night I’d take ’em off and hang ’em on the bed post.  Maybe I got it all out of my system before kindergarten. 

        I have ALL respect for our service people, but I know I’d be a terrible front lines solider.  If a man asked me to charge across an open field waving a gun and start shooting a bunch of folks I don’t know, I am confident I’d say, “Hmn.  I don’t know boss.  Why don’t we radio one of those cats and see if he wants to have a cup of coffee and talk this thing over?  I wonder what kind music he likes?”  I guess I’d wind up in the brig.

        I thought a lot about Indie after our visit the other day, and why he has meant so much to me.  I guess the biggest reason is Indie always led me to the truth.  My agent always says there are only a few truths that have stood the test of time, and my job as a writer is to find them.  I wasn’t able to find them alone, but through Indie I at least found enough to make a little sense out of a crazy world.

        Early on my agent asked, “Son, do you read the King James?”

        “Yes sir, I ain’t as good as my wife, but yeah, I do.”

        “Well, don’t forget the King James is the bedrock of Southern Literature.”  Then he’d say he had to go, and leave me to my own devices to figure it out.  I guess he figured if he told me instead of showed me it wouldn’t be as powerful.

        He also knew I’d get it after a while.  He understood me right off.  I wasn’t the quickest one around, but I was relentless, and couldn’t stand not to find it.    

        As Docs, trouble is our business.  That’s all we see.  And to make sure we know we are human, our first pal in medicine is the cadaver.  Even the slowest student gets it after a while.  We are mortal, and in the end we will fail. 

        And here’s the thing about Indie- he got it, and better than any Doc I know.  As Buck Owens would say, he came by it naturally, too.  Indie didn’t have to go to a refresher course on honesty in disclosure.  He was just Indie.  He didn’t claim to be anything but human, and made no apologies for it. That’s why I loved him so.

        And to go back to the King James, I think Indie was all about redemption.  Plenty goes wrong in medicine on a regular basis, and the problems could add up over the years if you didn’t find a way to deal with it all.  Indie wasn’t as good as Jesus of course, but for a human being he had that forgiveness thing down pretty good.  Poor Indie will sit on some dusty library book shelf for eternity and carry all those burdens for me.  Little Tommy Bibey gets to unload it all on poor Indie’s shoulders and enjoy life.  Then after I get to heaven Jesus will look after me.  Pretty simple huh?

       I’m sure my agent will read this and say, “Yeah, and it took you two years to get there, son.  How’d I ever get roped into this?”

       My response would be, “Sir, it’s in the King James.  I reckon Jesus sent you.”

        My guess is I’ll get my book published.  If nothing else it is the only way my agent is ever gonna get any peace.  Right now this pesky doctor e-mails him a question every few days.

          Sometimes he’ll get exasperated and reply, “Son, it’s in the King James.  You gotta find it yourself- I can’t just tell you, that wouldn’t do you any good.”

        I’m lucky.  I have the best agent in the world.  He’s right.

        Well, again, y’all have a fine Holiday.  I’m thankful for all of you.

Dr. B

Indie at Thanksgiving

November 25, 2008

        I went by to check on Indie before Thanksgiving.  I’d gotten so busy I hadn’t been by in a while.

        “Bibey, old boy.  How ya been?  Me and Barney (his skeleton) were gonna put out an all points bulletin for you.”

        “I’m sorry Indie.  I should been by- eight days a week you know.”

        “Hell, you don’t have to tell me- I did it forty years.”

        “And you were the best.  How you been?”

        “You mean is that goon ball in my chest giving me a fit- hell, I don’t think about it much.  In Europe they treat cancer as a chronic illness- like arthritis or something.  In American we treat it like a damn football game.  If you ain’t number one you’re a loser- nutty, huh?  It’s just a thing- something to live with.”  Indie hooked Barney in the ribs with his cane and pulled him to his side.  He opened up the skull cap.  “Care for a drink?” 

        “No thanks, Indie.  Gotta work.”

        “Suit yourself.  Don’t forget to smell the roses, though.  You look tired.”

        Ain’t that just like Indie?  There is is with cancer, and he’s worried about me.  “I will Indie.”

        “You been down to check on the cabin?”  he asked.

        “Yeah, she’s all good.  No worries there.”

        “Come spring I want you to get me out of here a day and go down to the river.  I might just go for a swim.  The river’ll cure what ails you, you know.”

        “Will do.”  We visited for a while.  “I guess I better get on to the house.  The kids are coming in and Marfar’s fixing persimmon pudding.”

       “Mm.  That pudding is the best.  Save some for me.  I’ll see you next week.”

        I massaged his neck muscles like Ms. Jenkins used to do.  “Sure enough.  See you then.”

        On the way home I thought about how much ole Indie has meant to me.  Next to family, he was one of the most important people in my life.  Man I was gonna miss him when he was gone.  Better go hug all my people and hold ’em close.  That sure is what Indie would do.

        Y’all have a good Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for my wife and kids, my office staff and my bluegrass friends and golf pals, but I am thankful for all you blog buddies too.  One of these fine days, I’m gonna go on my little tour and meet you guys.

Dr. B

The Ultimate Music Fake-out Mandolin Method

November 23, 2008

        O.K. here it is in one easy lesson.  How to play the mandolin and fake out the world.  I know- I’m an expert!

        Now before we go any further, this will not work for doctoring.  In fact, if your doctor gestalts his way around his right brain like this to prescribe your medical treatment, RUN!

        First of all, as we have discussed, don’t forget the mandolin is tuned in fifths.  Do not confuse this with corn liquor quantities, and whatever you do don’t partake of Galax strawberries.  (That is another lesson- they are soaked in moonshine)  Smell ’em if you aren’t sure – it’ll remind you of lighter fluid.  Don’t go to a doctor who’d eat them by the way.

        Now that you know the thing is tuned in 5ths, you have it made.  Unlike how that ‘B’ string on a guitar runs me crazy, the whole dang mandolin fretboard has geometric symmetry.  (It don’t change)  So, once you learn a chord all you gotta do is move it up two frets and lo and behold you are in a brand new key- ex. ‘G’ to ‘A’.)  It is so easy Bill Monroe made it against mandolin law to use a capo.)

        So find a “G” chord, then if you can count from one to seven you got it, at least if remember the phrase one major, two minor, three minor, four major, five major, six minor (relative minor- important there) and 7 is a diminished deal us bluegrassers don’t use much except for guys like Mike Marshall, and probably that Thile guy too.

        The modes are another lesson.  My daughter knows all of ’em , but here’s how to get by.  Think Ionian (ie start on the 1st note of the scale) for most of your western music like bluegrass and fiddle tunes, and the 5th note, or mixolydian, for your darker songs.  Tim Stafford of Blue Highway says most bluegrass bands have at least one murder tune per set to get all that traveling out of their system.  Use you mix mode there, and use a lot of Monroe down strokes.  Shawn Lane does the style very well- musta come from hanging out with Stafford.  Alan Bibey is great on those too.

        And if you get lost just learn to use the Penatonic scales (Five notes, not five sides as in Pentagon for heaven’s sake) and hang out with David Grisman or the Grateful Dead crowd, too.  Gris is an all time expert on the method and will point you in the right direction. 

         If your goal is for a bunch of women to chase you play those big rock n roll Barred Power chords.  They work best if you let out your mandolin strap a few notches so the thing hangs around your knees- a bluegrass Mick Jagger like Sam Bush comes to mind- he rocks.

        Only problem is that doesn’t work so well for gray haired doctors who wear pagers and shirt pocket pencil protectors.  Somehow it doesn’t come out sounding the same- better not give up my day job.

        The only thing I’ve found tough is to get my fingers to walk the talk- that has taken some practice, and is gonna take some more.  As they say about the PGA tour- those guys are good.

        More theory later.  Sorry to cut the lesson short, but my lovely daughter is here to visit and I don’t get to see her enough.  Talk to you soon.

Dr. B

Harvey Billiard and Bowl

November 22, 2008

        If you guys are gonna read “The Mandolin Case,” I want you to be on the inside of local culture.  Now that y’all are my friends, you need to know where to find people in town you can count on in case you were to get in a jam. 

        So, here’s how to get to Harvey Billiard and Bowl, or the B and B as we call it.  From downtown Croatan, the County seat for Harvey County, go east on Main St.  When you get to Bibey Drive (named for my grandfather) hang a right.  That will take you by the old Hospital.  It has been renovated as office space for most of the Docs is town. 

        Follow that to the outskirts of town. You’ll pass a huge old pin oak that lightening splintered last year.  Just past it is Lee Highway.  Take a left there, and the B and B is a mile on the right.

        You can’t miss it.  There is a gravel parking lot and a front end loader sits there most days.  There will be a few used cars for sale, and there is a trailer park out back, where Lou manages thirty units.  We play music there one Saturday night a month.  A sign out front says “Triditional Bluegrass Music.”  Lou realized it was misspelled, but he’d already paid for it.  He said he’d change it next time.

        Lou Bedford is the owner.  He has the best cheeseburgers in town.  A Mina bird named Minne is at the cash register.  Minnie can mimic anything so don’t say anything you don’t want folks to know.  That bird can do the best ambulance siren imitation you’ve ever heard.  The paramedics taught it to her.  By the way, if you want to know where to eat in the South always look for law enforcement or EMS vehicles- they know the local landscape better than anyone.

        In the back Lou has a pool hall and a couple of duck pin bowling lanes.  There is a regular card game there every Friday night.  Indie played every week, but after Blinky died, he didn’t go for a month.  After that he played, but not as regular.

        It’s a dry county, but folks know they can get a Pabst Blue Ribbon at the B and B.  All you have to do is put in a few extra coins in the Coke machine, and press the Tab button.  It’ll spit out a PBR- just don’t tell anyone.

        The B and B is a regular hangout for bluegrass boys, golf hustlers, card sharks, and assorted ne’re do wells.  Most society folks wouldn’t be seen there.  You could count on a fair deal at the B and B.

          From time to time I go to the B and B to conduct important business.  Just don’t tell my mama- it would worry her.

Dr. B