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 6: New Day Rising

Things change so quickly.

I’d just set up regular Tuesday Zoom meetings with my freshman comp students at Stephens, and emailed them an update (their last undertaking is a research paper). I signed off by acknowledging that none of us really knows what is going to happen past April 14, when we were slated (but I doubted we’d be able) to return to campus for in-person work. I came back upstairs after hitting “send” to learn that Stephens’ campus operations had just closed down for the semester, and graduation had been moved to August. What a surreal situation for students, and it’s certainly the first time I will not be able to say “So long!” to a class in person. I’ve seen quite a bit, having taught in each of the last four decades, but this truly is novel.

It’s really too late to try it now, but, though I was initially resistant to videoconferencing every day, I am fascinated by how a Socratic seminar might work in that mode. Some of the temptations that can untrack a discussion would seem to be eliminated. If I am assigned a class next semester (I always teach a music-focused comp class in the fall), I’ll have to assign my students an album to listen to and annotate (or let them pick one), and give a virtual Socratic a spin.

Also, I received a review copy of Sasha Geffen’s GLITTER UP THE DARK: HOW POP MUSIC BROKE THE BINARY from the University of Texas, and the introduction and chapter headings alone convince me it could be a great required text for my fall class. Geffen is smart and brave, and her style would be challenging but enjoyable for first-year students. Funny thing is, I was alerted to it by Hannah Ewens, whose great book FANGIRLS (along with her virtual guest appearance in both my ’19 fall classes) had convinced me I needed to use IT–I certainly can’t (or at least shouldn’t) assign both. Or maybe I could…

But who the hell knows what next semester is going to look like.

Is anyone else out there watching either LITTLE FIRES EVERYBODY or HIGH FIDELITY on Hulu? Nicole and I are, and I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Stimulus package: ’bout time, BUT keep your eye on the ball. Myself, I am afraid to look at it closely. Kleptocrats were involved.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: This full album speaks for itself.