Cloister Commentary, Day 152: Worthy Distractions

I am only tutoring at Stephens, not teaching, this semester. Since January of 1984, only one other semester has passed when I haven’t taught classrooms of kids. That was Fall 2015, and it was agonizing. I missed it in my mind and bones; fortunately, Stephens hired me to instruct in January of 2016. I am already missing it again, but Nicole and I are constructing a plan by which I can best support her as a full-time public school educator and keep us both healthy in a pandemic. I think that will be as challenging and rewarding as teaching–I’m going to give it my all.

I know I promised you the results of the Duke’s vs. Blue Plate Mayonnaise Taste Test, but Nicole left for work before revealing which one I liked better. I will say that it may come down to vinegar and egg yolks.

COVID forced us to cancel a brief trip to see friends in Memphis. I turned to the great Memphis music writer Stanley Booth to distract me from the disappointment. His collection Red Hot and Blue: 50 Years of Writing about Music, Memphis, and Motherf**kers is absolutely essential, and if it didn’t fully assuage my frustration, it surely inspired me to fire up the turntable. Thanks for the gift, Clifford!

I realize I left out my observations on the other half of the NBA Restart Playoffs yesterday. Well, I’d like to see both L.A. teams upset; Utah vs. Denver is the alternating-day equivalent of Indy vs. Miami–seriously interesting viewing/rooting; I’m going to have to flip a coin to decide whether my alternating-day favorite is Boston or Toronto. Oh yes: supposedly the NBA has “lost America.” Bunk. It didn’t lose any fan it couldn’t afford to anyway. Upward, onward.

Old Louis is getting too gimpy to jump into the tub, and he won’t tolerate being lifted, so–soon as it warms up–he may be getting the garden hose. He returned from the dog hotel seriously funky.

Streaming for Strivers:

Another worthy distraction.

Cloister Commentary, Day 127: Brontë and Basketball

My week hanging out with my mom is coming to a close (though I shall return soon). We’ve had as much fun as you can have in a pandemic, and I’ve witnessed her one-woman mask-making factory in action. Melissa Hague and Nicole have recently provided yards of raw materials that will keep the factory humming.

We capped the week with some Mexican food and an unusual evening of viewing: we split up Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 quietly intense adaptation of Jane Eyre with 90 minutes of an NBA preview, which Mom actually enjoyed and I was more impressed with than I’d anticipated. I thought I was well weaned off sports from three months of fasting, but after seeing what the league’s done to help its teams deal with COVID-19 and its players address social injustice? I’ll bite. And if you haven’t seen Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska circle each other in that great, brooding Brontë-take, please do so post-haste. ‘Twas my second viewing, and I had no regrets: in fact, one day I want to venture through Derbyshire, where it was filmed, as well as check out Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire.

Also, Mom had a dinner margarita poured for herself before I had done so for myself. I had secretly restocked provisions earlier in the day but she sniffed them out. You have to move quickly to beat me to that elixir. Funny, but I think my dinner idea was triggered by having listened to David Berman’s “Margaritas at the Mall” in the morning while I was futzing with my car stereo (see comments).

Streaming for Strivers:

It’s not a “full album,” but it’s about a half-hour of a great front man’s trademark get-up-and-get-at-it. He’s been to France, so you just dance, ok?