Cloister Commentary, Day 173: Extraction

I completed my on-line notary public profile, which can help folks who need me find me. In the process, I studied my seven steps to good notarization and explored Missouri’s new legislation regarding RON: “remote on-line notaries.” I don’t trust much our ledge passes, but this looks decent. Should I or shouldn’t I?

My Stephens College colleague, the legendary art history prof Jim Terry, invited me to judge his annual Punctuation Day Celebration, which of course I accepted. He may feel sorry for me that I don’t have a class, and this in fact will make me smile.

I took a gander at my young friend Benjamin Ruffin’s current rough draft and passed along some feedback. He has sights on being an architect, and he’d be a great one.

A few years back, we paid a guy a very reasonable fee to powerwash the house and stain our deck, and he was fast and skilled. I tried in vain to locate him, so we have need of someone new. Any suggestions?

I have mentioned this in a past entry, but I am reading and loving Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia. It’s a less annoying Catcher in the Rye, very much updated to post-Sexual Revolution (is that capitalized?) social living and transplanted to just-post-punk Eighties London. I bring it up again for people who think everything ever filmed is streaming. Sammy & Rosie Get Laid, for which Kureishi wrote what must be a very similar screenplay, is not streaming. It is not available on DVD; it never made it to DVD. Used VHSes run in the $80-100 range; I tried to Christian a guy down to a decent price for his copy on eBay, but got denied. Word to the wise from a dude that still likes physical media.

I resumed my battle against corporate labyrinths in trying to settle minor affairs in the wake of Dad’s death, this time against an old dragon, AT&T. They had promised to send my mom a paper bill–they did not. They sent her instead a form letter seeming to imply that she had to participate in their AutoPay program (she does not). Also, they owe her $14.99 but that can’t be deducted from her phone bill because it’s from her old internet bill, which is under their auspices. Hammering a way for 70 minutes, I actually wore down a chat agent to do the unthinkable and start sending her a paper bill and cut her a check for the amount, even though I was initially unable to breach Fort Knocks with a passcode I couldn’t remember (I knew all 15 of the other secret digital handshakes). My dad also had paid for an accidental death policy with a company that, after six contacts with them, has not moved to act (for example, mailing me paperwork), though they have acknowledged the policy is in effect. I literally did scream when they, again, did not “call in one to two business days.” These a-holes are terrific at extracting; stingy when it comes to being extracted from. The American Way. Nicole brought me a spearmint candy and I quieted down.

The day ended on a great note, with a classic double-overtime clash between two teams I love, the Raptors and the Celtics, leading to a Game 7 that should be equally classic, and an episode of The Indian Doctor in which an amoral kleptocrat gets his (it’s a fantasy series).

Streaming for Strivers:

I need something catchy, funny, smart, weird, and absurd sometimes, don’t you?

Cloister Commentary, Day 171: Reading is Exciting, Bananas are Boring

My sweetie Nicole starts school today, and she put in about 12 hours of organizational work at home yesterday. After she finished in the evening, she showed me a deeply detailed spreadsheet of all the students she works with; I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s necessary, I think, given the strange new world she’s entering. But it puts the lie to the ridiculous “lazy” claims some are making about teachers (us, I should say) lately.

For myself, I’m missing the work, but at least I have good books handy. My favorite phenomenon in reading is encountering something in one book that leads me to another book that leads me to something non-literary. I have been strolling through a Zadie Smith essay collection for over a year (her best pieces are like a glass of good bourbon: strong, a little spicy, with unique notes), and in a piece I read recently she wrote about the influence a book, The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi, had had on her–she was re-reading it after having first wrestled with it as a kid. The chunks she excerpted were delightfully wicked, like Wilde, so I had to read it myself. 15 pages in, I had to look up Kureishi; I hadn’t known he wrote the screenplays for two movies that were wildly popular when I was a video clerk but had never gotten around the seeing, My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy & Rosie Get Laid. I may have missed the boat thirty years ago, but it’s docked and ready for me now (if I can find the latter streaming somewhere). I love reading–it’s incredibly exciting, simple as that.

A teacher friend of mine started his classes the other day with a counterintuitive ice-breaking query: “What’s one boring fact about you?” Takes the pressure off having to dare to be interesting! Let’s play: you share in the comments, and here is mine.

I completely peel a banana before I eat it.

Thanks, Kevin!

Streaming for Strivers:

Soul, jazz-style, courtesy of two masters.