Cloister Commentary, Day 43: “Parasite Plays Be Damned!”

Friday was Game Night! Nicole loves when we play games because she routinely kicks my ass. However, this time she claimed minor reluctance because of her supposedly inferior vocabulary, as we had chosen Scrabble, which we hadn’t played since Christmas ’12, when we spread out the board at her mom Lynda Jo’s kitchen table. I chuckled evilly, anticipating domination.

She poured a Pinot, I cracked open a Bud and backed it with a finger of Four Roses, and it was on. After I slaughtered her by over 100 points in Round 1, I foolishly assumed my losing streak was over, but–alas–I got hustled. Despite my frequent “parasite plays” (adding -s or -ed to high-value words she’d already laid out), she took the last two rounds, killing me in the final one by setting up a three-letter word right where I was going to rack up a 36-point triple word score on my next turn. RAT FARTS!!!! Next time, by Gawd, we’re playing Rook!

My pain was assuaged throughout not only by the beer ‘n’ bourbon, but also, of course, by the music: The Ramones’ classic It’s Alive!, an archival Professor Longhair tribute concert broadcast on WWOZ (from ’74, with Benny Spellman, The Meters, Earl King, Dr. John, The Wild Magnolias, and Fess himself), and two jaw-droppers. Bonnie Raitt’s Give It Up has realllllly grown for me over time (maybe it’s me who’s grown): absolutely stunning singing and playing, spot-on song selection, and a powerful, natural, sexy feminist persona (is that ok?). And…Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story? That album makes our eyes mist up every time we play it–mostly from wonder as we marvel at the humanity it expresses so vividly, but also because ol’ Rodney was one of Nicole’s mom’s favorites. Has there ever been a one-two punch to the heart like “Maggie May” and “Mandolin Wind”? And how’d you like to just chuck talent (or is it genius) like that?

We also had a Facebook drop-in by an old high school friend of mine, Jim Mac. We’ve only seen each other a few times over the years, but he never fails to make a strong impression on us. He’s smart, funny, observant and soulful, and the Scrabble memory he shared was very evocative. I hope we are able to see him in person soon, but I believe our 40th high school reunion will likely be virtual if it occurs at all. I also enjoyed several Facebook appearances from former students who made me miss full-on teaching even more than I already do, but also reassured me that my existence has not been in vain.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Prelude to Scrabble. Did anyone else out there see the Furs at Stephens College in ’82, on the Forever Now tour? I love this band.

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