Cloister Commentary, Day 100: The 2nd “Sustenance and Succor” Awards

I had thought I might quit this enterprise on this day, but from the looks of things? NOPE.

I am proud of my brother Brian and me. We have fallen naturally into a cooperative relationship working through our father’s after-effects, much of it instinctive. The division of labor’s even, and understandings are unspoken and keyed to eye contact. But we’d forgotten, really, to deal with Dad’s truck–I had barely thought about it–and since I’ve been driving the same vehicle for almost 30 years, it made sense for me to inherit it. I took it out on the highway, zig-zagged through my old hometown (Carthage, Missouri) and past some significant sights, and this morning gassed it up, cleaned out the console and glove compartment, washed, rinsed, and waxed it. Hey, Brian and Greg Carlin: he had four tape measures in there, a set of chains, very lovingly packaged jumper cables, and something else huge behind the passenger seat I forgot to unzip. Cartel materials?

On my drive, I truly enjoyed Gary St. James on 99.7 FM “The Bull” introducing some classic country by Waylon, Merle, Reba, The Possum, Willie, The Statlers, Keith Whitley, and Dwight. Some people think I’ve heard every piece of music recorded, but would you believe I’d never ever heard “The Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line”? I’d heard OF it, but it had never slithered into my ear. Now it is a fave rave.

Among the sights I visited was the location of the old Carthage High School art annex where my art teacher Howard South taught me to think abstractly and believed in my intellectual potential, despite me being a frequent dipshit. Below, I stand in front of that location; it’s no longer an art annex.

Since my sweetie Nicole has returned to Columbia to tend to our own domicile, it’s just Jane and me hanging out right now. We kept binge-watching Truth Be Told (Octavia Spencer rules!) and had margaritas. I think I could hang with her on the regz.

It’s time for the 2nd “Sustenance and Succor Awards,” which I will give out every 50 days of the pandemic. These artifacts helped get us through


*Hamell on Trial: Pandemic Songs
*Run the Jewels 4
*79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected


*Mrs. America
*Gavin & Stacey
*What We Do in the Shadows (repeat winner!)


Lisa Sandlin: The Do-Right
Octavia Butler: Kindred
Chester Himes: The Harlem Cycle, Volume 3


La Terraza (ohhhhh, those 32 oz. margaritas!!!)
India’s House
Tiger Chef

Streaming for Sustainers:

Something mordant, lively, and wry.

Cloister Commentary, Day 81: Beaumont Noir

As both of our schools (I will actually be negotiating three) edge toward a decision on how they will open in the fall and Covid-19 cases rapidly increase in our locality, Nicole and I are struggling to appreciate each present moment. Part of that increase is due to a barrage of testing we participated in last week, but nonetheless the phenomenon is not a comfort, and it’s just the truth that we will all only be able to control our own responses to the work environments we re-enter. Maybe it’s best to remind ourselves it’s still a marathon, not nearly a sprint, and to reach the fall in strong mind, body and spirit, fortified by not neglecting the moments between, is the right set of actions. I hope I can be disciplined enough.

As always, in times of stress, we turned to deviled eggs. Amazingly, I did not eat all 16 yesterday: eight sriracha, eight wasabi. But I think we’re down to less than half.

Quivering, shivering deviled eggs trying to hide in the fridge.

I am so encouraged by the change already being brought about by our citizens’ constant protest pressure. It is inspiring. At the same time, though I am pro-union, I worry about the defiance soon to be mounted by police unions led by humans who have no interest in change but do have an interest in maintaining a culture of impunity for demonstrably dangerous police officers. There is only one way that kind of leadership can be changed.

If you’re seeking out detective fiction with strong, complex female characters (and at least one reasonably tolerable male one), may I direct you to the “Beaumont noir” of Lisa Sandlin‘s Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan novels? At present, there are two, though I’ve been apprised that Sandlin has a new one in the chute. Phelan is a war veteran and former oil rig worker who sets up as a P. I. in that strange Texas town; Wade, freshly released from prison at 32 after 14 years on a questionable murder charge–she killed someone, but–is, almost by fate, Phelan’s first hire. She’s his secretary, but she’s the more intuitive and observant detective, and she soon transcends that job and mesmerizes her “boss.” Sandlin’s deftness and wit with dialogue, plot, characterization and local color are truly amazing, and she’s fearless, funny and earthy. Compulsively readable, the first is The Do-Right, the second is The Bird Boys. Thanks to Beaumont’s own Frissell Boys for leading me to them. I think Sandlin is a genius.$

Streaming for Strivers:

This came up in my YouTube feed, and like a virus I must infect you.