Cloister Commentary, Day 203: Fall-Away Day

Nicole and I dropped our absentee ballots off at the Boone County clerk’s office this morning. I wonder how many other counties offer on-line ballot-tracking to voters. That’s a good thing.

I had no school imperatives to deal with, so unsurprisingly I read. I had planned to knock a chunk out of three of the books I’m currently enjoying, but New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, like the other Ehrman books I’ve read have done, held me transfixed. I am not a believer; Ehrman once was, but he is a mere historian now–a dogged, erudite, witty, and indefatigably curious one. Since it’s coming on list season, I also explored music writer Tom Hull’s “1000 Albums for a Long and Happy Life.” You’d think at the rate I’ve listened to albums since ’77 or so I’d have encountered few surprises, but I’ve only made it through the “I”s and Mr. Hull’s given me quite a stack to lean into. In this case, I’m thankful for streaming.

After she finished with school around five, Nicole joined me for one of our frequent Friday Fall-Aways at the kitchen table, when we just relax, fiddle around, occasionally sip something (this time, some good mescal), and listen to something indisputably euphonious (this time, Herb Ellis’ Nothing But the Blues, which I fished out of Mr. Hull’s list).

The evening ended with beers and conversation on our friend Shireen’s back deck, where we also got to catch up with our mutual friend Annell Boland. Her amazingly man-like young son Fred sweetly arrived to pick her up at the end of our visit; I have so many friends with sharp young college age spawn that I’m starting to think I’m old.

Streaming for Strivers:

I also had an amusing and refreshing social media conversation with my old friend and fellow southwest Missouri refugee John Schooley, which indirectly reminded me to play this. You should, too, if you need a jolt.

Cloister Commentary, Day 202: Comrades, Cousins, and Comedians

I had mentioned a few commentaries back that the inspirational Stephens prof Ann Breidenbach and I had teamed up for a fun educational project, but I withheld the details. Yesterday, the project went to ground: after we educated her women’s studies students about absentee voting, we created an opportunity whereby I was able to notarize her students’ ballots that required it. Few actually did need that service, but two of them just happened to be the top students from my virtual summer freshman comp class, whom I’d never met in person. Even though we were all masked, we recognized each other from about 30 feet away! As my friend George Frissell would have said (quoting Chief Dan George in Little Big Man, as was frequently his wont), it made my heart soar like a hawk.

I also had the pleasure of talking with my cousin Gregory on the phone for over an hour. I frankly do not enjoy blabbin’ into the blower for even five minutes, but Greg is one of those few exceptions. His insights, good cheer, sense of humor, and wise perspectives were quite welcome (roiling, rotten stuff happened to have been weighing on my mind at the time), and he’s really an inspirational human being. We traded stories, and I honestly had trouble hanging up the phone. May you have a rewarding weekend, cuz.

Nicole and I both had educational crises dumped in our laps after 5 p.m (it’s an occupational hazard of great regularity for all us edumacators), but we calmed our nerves with an old remedy we had not tried in over a decade: Southpark. “The Pandemic Special” proved Matt and Trey are still great at that thing they do. They have Tegrity.

Streaming for Strivers:

They say it’s his birthday!

Cloister Commentary, Day 201: So Nice We Did It Twice

The first 200 days are over; we are ready if need be for 200 more. I really miss the little things that came with the ease and the seeming thoughtlessness of movement; like my cousin Katie wrote to me yesterday, “I took too much for granted.

But: we do what we can. “So Nice We Did It Twice Division”: Nicole and I drove out to Les Bourgeois Winery’s A-Frame again like we did last Wednesday. She’d had a totally draining afternoon at work and almost decided to simply collapse in a heap, but I coaxed her forward and we enjoyed another gorgeous “smoking sundown” (some dark blue clouds appeared to be rising off the orb’s surface) and another sweet bottle of wine (the name Pink Fox gives me pause, but it went down smoothly). We drove home to the tune of the late Reverend John Wilkins’ valedictory album of gospel greatness, Trouble, released by this week on Memphis’ Goner label, took in a couple episodes of Woke, and glided into sleep.

Streaming for Strivers:

Sometimes physical media you pretty much can’t snag you can indeed stream.

Cloister Commentary, Day 200: The 4th Sustenance and Succor Awards!


Every 50 days of the pandemic, I’ve given out these awards to celebrate stuff that’s getting Nicole and I through this mess. And it’s gotten messier. So the stuff’s gotten tuffer. To wit:


BEST ANTI-COVID-BLUES ALBUMS:
Thelonious Monk – Palo Alto

Jyoti – Mama, You Can Bet!

Bettye LaVette – Blackbirds

The Best of the Sensational Nightingales

Roisin Murphy – Roisin Machine


BEST ANTI-COVID-BLUES SHOWS:
Woke (Hulu Series)

Watchmen (HBO Series)

The Indian Doctor (Amazon Prime Series)

Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright, director)

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK


BEST ANTI-COVID-BLUES BOOKS:
Amor Towles – A Gentleman in Moscow

Hanif Kureishi – The Buddha of Suburbia

Ross Johnson – Baron of Love: Moral Giant

Richard Grant – The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi

Stanley Booth – Red, Hot & Blue: 50 Years of Writing about Memphis, Music, and Motherfuckers


BEST ANTI-COVID-BLUES CURBSIDE EATS (some repeats, but that just testifies to their tuffness)
:
Tony’s Pizza Palace

Shakespeare’s Pizza

India’s House

Cajun Crab HouseTiger Chef

Streaming for Strivers:


Dreamers, awake!

Cloister Commentary, Day 199: Ah, Those Voiceless Volar Plosives

I sincerely hope I am in the company of many millions who are tired of chaos, calamity, callousness, and corruption. Hope, not bet. I am not a betting man.

Yesterday, I did some COVID clean-up: made a doctor’s appointment, a flu / shingles vaccination appointment, and an oil change appointment (to be clear, for my vehicle); watched a bathroom sink faucet replacement video; called three Missouri counties’ clerks for clarification; and listen to a slew of garage punk and hardcore punk albums I’d not checked out for a while (sorry for all those voiceless velar plosives–look it up, I did). It felt good.

Instead of installing the new faucet as soon as I got home, I sat on my ass and read thr new issue of The Week and listened to the first four discs of the recently released expanded version of Prince’s Sign o’ The Times. The excellence of the latter assuaged the despair elicited by the former.

As dusk fell, Nicole and I rejoiced in being able to eat fresh tomato and mayo sandwiches in October (!!!), and finished Watchmen fully satisfied that our time wasn’t wasted in the least.

Streaming for Strivers:

Regarding the above musical reference?

Cloister Commentary, Day 199: Ah, Those Voiceless Volar Plosives

I sincerely hope I am in the company of many millions who are tired of chaos, calamity, callousness, and corruption. Hope, not bet. I am not a betting man.

Yesterday, I did some COVID clean-up: made a doctor’s appointment, a flu / shingles vaccination appointment, and an oil change appointment (to be clear, for my vehicle); watched a bathroom sink faucet replacement video; called three Missouri counties’ clerks for clarification; and listen to a slew of garage punk and hardcore punk albums I’d not checked out for a while (sorry for all those voiceless velar plosives–look it up, I did). It felt good.

Instead of installing the new faucet as soon as I got home, I sat on my ass and read thr new issue of The Week and listened to the first four discs of the recently released expanded version of Prince’s Sign o’ The Times. The excellence of the latter assuaged the despair elicited by the former.

As dusk fell, Nicole and I rejoiced in being able to eat fresh tomato and mayo sandwiches in October (!!!), and finished Watchmen fully satisfied that our time wasn’t wasted in the least.

Streaming for Strivers:

Regarding the above musical reference?

Cloister Commentary, Day 199: Ah, Those Voiceless Volar Plosives

I sincerely hope I am in the company of many millions who are tired of chaos, calamity, callousness, and corruption. Hope, not bet. I am not a betting man.

Yesterday, I did some COVID clean-up: made a doctor’s appointment, a flu / shingles vaccination appointment, and an oil change appointment (to be clear, for my vehicle); watched a bathroom sink faucet replacement video; called three Missouri counties’ clerks for clarification; and listen to a slew of garage punk and hardcore punk albums I’d not checked out for a while (sorry for all those voiceless velar plosives–look it up, I did). It felt good.

Instead of installing the new faucet as soon as I got home, I sat on my ass and read thr new issue of The Week and listened to the first four discs of the recently released expanded version of Prince’s Sign o’ The Times. The excellence of the latter assuaged the despair elicited by the former.

As dusk fell, Nicole and I rejoiced in being able to eat fresh tomato and mayo sandwiches in October (!!!), and finished Watchmen fully satisfied that our time wasn’t wasted in the least.

Streaming for Strivers:

Regarding the above musical reference?

Cloister Commentary, Day 198: Returns


We returned from Monett via State Highway H –> I-44 –> State Highway 5 –> State Highway 54 –> State Highway 63. Don’t ask me why I had to map that out–maybe it’s “COVID Mind.” We drove non-stop, which was easy, as we were listening to Octavia Butler’s mesmerizing short story collection Bloodchild and Other Stories. Nicole had not experienced Butler’s work before, and I do believe she may be hooked.

I guess we’re still adjusting to our dog being gone; it’s strange returning home from a trip and having cats in your face instead. The hurt caused by Louis’ absence was assuaged by a wonderful sympathy card from his clinic, All Creatures, that was signed by purt-near everyone, including a former student of mine who has been his favorite over there for quite awhile. They also sent along a nice card with The Kid’s pawprint–we’ll frame it, because that’s how we roll.

The dirty martini also played a role in the assuaging.

Streaming for Survivors:
When The Ruler returned…



Cloister Commentary, Day 197: Respite

Yesterday was so nice it temporarily made me think nothing’s wrong.

Festivities opened at my mom’s breakfast table with cinnamon roll and coffee. Fortified, Nicole and I hiked around Monett, Missouri’s gorgeous park. I knew the city pool where I’d worked for a few years while I was in college had been closed, but I was shocked that it’d been “disappeared”–the space where it was would be perfect for a sandlot football game now. We saw several woodchucks, Nicole practiced identifying trees, and we sat with our ancestors and our dematerialized friends and pets for some meditation by the pond.

When we returned, we made a honey crisp apple run to Marionville, Mom gave Nicole a lesson in homemade chicken and noodle preparation (a family legacy) and I hauled the recycling to the city processing center–that doesn’t seem too exciting, but my brother Brian had ingeniously organized the receptacles in the garage and they hadn’t been emptied since he did so in August.

As afternoon unfolded, we had cocktails and played three hands of Canasta, I got some reading in, and Mom and Nicole talked about some family history. We wolfed down the chicken and noodles (two helpings for me!), then watched a drive-in(side) double-feature: Kingpin and Pride and Prejudice (the Joe Wright and Keira Knightly version). You can see how those go together, right?

That was enough to convince me all was right with the world until I started thumbing this out a few minutes ago. I’ll take any respite at this point.

Streaming for Survivors:

Speaking of the dematerialized, we might have invited this one.

Cloister Commentary, Day 196: Elasticity

While trying to finish up an audiobook yesterday that we started four months ago, Nicole and I pondered the strange elasticity of time in this pandemic:

“Where the hell did September go?”

“Yeah, but January seems two years ago!”

All the things that make time seem to slow down are in play in this weird era, but that’s not been the effect. And, as I’ve gotten older, though I think staying very engaged in life also plays a part, I’ve frequently gotten the feeling that my days are rushing by. Yet, again, the last two road trips we took with friends early this year–“It was just yesterday that we went to Springfield and Joplin with Janet and David,” I should be saying–almost feel to date from the middle of last decade.

How is time playing with you?

By the way, that book is Marjorie Spruill’s Divided We Stand, which explains much about how we became like we are in this country–and we still have five minutes’ worth of it to listen to. We recommend it.

Apparently COVID-19 is, as Willie Nelson once wrote, “extremely real.”

Streaming for Strivers:

It’s the anniversary of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s arrival on this plane, but I don’t think he’d mind me passing this along.