Cloister Commentary, Day 286: Hey 2020–Don’t Let The Doorknob Hit You in the Ass!

What were you doing on New Year’s Eve?

Well, for myself, I can see I over-posted! And I didn’t even wish people a Happy New Year–instead, I let loose with a Gene Vincent “quote.” I’m odd.

I got in a friendly cyber argument with my friends Kevin and Eric (definitely not Tim and Eric)! Evil Kevin was trying to make me pick between the Stones and the Velvets; my stance was “Why do I have to choose?” as well as “Why even compare these bands?” You cannot win an argument with anyone who has Eric’s backing (he’s that smart), and I guess I argue so infrequently they thought I had a case of the red-ass, which I didn’t. To get Kevin’s teeth out of my leg, I chose VU because they seem less colonial to me.

Nicole and I sampled the amazing cuisine of Pasta La Fata here in Columbia! You order, they make the pasta and sauce and everything and run it out to you, and you get to have the fun of assembling and cooking it! We had not had authentically Italian food in forevz and Pasta La Fata’s was scintillating. What did we order? Mostaccioli in Sugo sauce with salsiccia meatballs and cheese tortelloni in a brown butter and herb sauce. How’s that grab ya, darling? We will call them up again.

Nicole beat my butt in Scrabble as usual. My game-long paucity of vowels eventually led me to resign–can you resign in Scrabble? Seemed like the only thing for me to do to stop the bleeding, as I was also holding a Q and a J.

We also mourned the just-revealed Halloween passing of Daniel Dumile, the skilled rapper and producer better known as MF DOOM. I’m still somewhat skeptical due to the unusual announcement, but 2020 just had to be an ass one more time. His music kept the blues at bay for us, though.

No one karaokes like my old pal Brock, and we got to watch him “do a show” for his family in the Boland lair. He appears to be training his talented daughter Fay to take over her dad’s business; it was almost as fun as being at a club!

We didn’t call anybody. Nobody called us! It’s fun to do on New Year’s Eve, but apparently not that fun.

Though time and calendars are constructs of human beings, I am damn glad 2020 is over. It was the worst year of my life, easily. I’m not even totally sure what the damage is; I know there is some. But, I tell you what (what’s the origin of that phrase? it cracks me up!), in our 30-plus years together Nicole and I have seldom been apart–this year, we were more together than ever, and not only did I truly enjoy it, I’m not sure we ever argued seriously, and I am sure I’d have not made it without her. Also, I think thumbing out these entries helped, too. It’s not like I ever bare my soul; it’s just a record of what happened, plus a way for me to keep pushing music. But when things seemed to be falling apart, I could write one, read it back, and see some order. Thanks for bearing with me.

Streaming for Survivors:

Everybody / Loves a winner!

Cloister Commentary, Day 147: Jai Alai 1985

The sun did come up yesterday and it is coming up today, albeit on a land where an election is being blatantly threatened with obstruction by one of the candidates. Freedom is a constant struggle, and I hope we’re up for it.

Compared to the day before, my attempts to complete important tasks were like as unto shooting fish in a barrel. Great customer service by four different reps for three different companies helped me resolve three important posthumous issues before 10:30 in the morning. I asked one of them if there was a way for me to give specific feedback to her supervisor and she put me right through to him. “Give her a raise or promote her,” I said, simply. I celebrated by trying two IPAs I’d not heard of (later, in the afternoon!) and getting caught up with my reading.

After the day before, they tasted like the nectar of the gods.

Nicole, Jane, and I played two rounds of Scrabble (my highlights were “dojo,” “wane,” and “radar”–not too stunning, eh?) after a dinner of turkey tetrazzini–it’s not just for post-Thanksgiving meals!–listened to some superb music (Lori McKenna, Bonnie Raitt, Ann Peebles, and Joni Mitchell), and watched the first two episodes of Last Tango in Halifax, which my mom had not seen and really enjoyed. You need a human show? Try it.

Streaming for Strivers:

A ludicrous cover photo, yes, but within is proof that the Ferriday Flash knew early American music like the back of his hand from his teens–and could rock and roll it all.

Cloister Commentary, Day 84: The Return of Ponty Apers

Nicole and I participated in two outings, one a sort of outdoor committee meeting at the Hickman labyrinth to finalize some important details, the other a catch-up, hangout, beer-slurp, wine-sip with a dear friend in West Columbia. Lawn chairs and tree-shade came in mighty handy.

We got home and my body twisted my arm (a tangled metaphor, that) and hissed in my ear through gritted teeth, “You will take a nap!” I did.

Just when I get really comfortable with Zoom, the company shuts down a celebration of the Tiananmen Square protest. Remember, the one with the man standing down the tank? We cheered that one as a nation, I think. It was so long ago. I may have to pursue an alternative teaching method.

I am closing in on finishing two series: Chester Himes’ nine-book “Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones” Harlem Cycle, and Gilbert Hernandez‘s Love and Rockets/Palomar Stories graphic novels. No regrets about either undertaking: those worlds are fascinating and enriching.

We played Scrabble, sipped mint juleps, cranked up the music of the great Louis Jordan, and just chilled. I cinched a win by adding an “s” to “bowel.” Bastard.

Bess, Susie, Melody, Lee, and Kendra will probably get this, but just before bed, looking out into the backyard, we spied Ponty Apers 🦊. Why yesterday? Indeed.

Streaming for Strivers:

I was once accused by a former friend when I was (politely) unimpressed by his demo tape that I “don’t even listen to rock and roll anymore.” I did, I do, I always will. Also, Black Lives Matter in garage punk!

Cloister Commentary, Day 44: Out Where the Buses Don’t Run

Picked up another robust order from Happy Hollow at the Columbia Farmer’s Market. Up in this mess, we could not live without them.

Dropped by Love Coffee to snag some java, muffins, and scones from their tent in the parking lot. Please patronize them if you do chance to get out–they’re one of the good ones. Methinks it’s a touch early, though, for some of the casual interaction we saw among the patrons, but what do I know?

Worked on both of my blogs, the one I transfer these to in slightly modified fashion, and a music site that pretty much exists for a monthly list of goodies. Why do I need TWO blogs? (Calvinist overtraining as a youthman.)

Had a dirty martini. I’d like to recommend Missouri’s own Pinckney Bend gin.

Chauffeured Nicole out to a drive-by celebration of one of her Columbia Area Career Center peers. Stacey lives out there where the buses don’t run!

Devoured a bowl of a fresh batch of Nicole’s red beans and rice with tasso ham. I have been trying to commit to vegetarianism, and not faring poorly, but we are slowly working through some specialty meats we have in the freezer. Next up: the boudin.

Messaged back and forth with my “nephew” and National Guard stalwart Mitch Carlin, who has discovered The Kinks and The Sopranos. He’s always fun to “talk” to, and he has a nose for the finer works of art.

Beat Nicole in a single game of Scrabble to even my tournament record at 2-2. We played until the last tile was used–my favorite kind of game. Musical accompaniment: Carmen McRae, The Coasters, and Hound Dog Taylor (if you’re a fan and you don’t know Release the Hound, change that pronto).

Had trouble sleeping (I’m struggling with that a bit), and found myself, at 3:15, in my head, planning out the weekly class structure for an on-line composition class I may be teaching this summer for Stephens. Hey! I have a plan! Once a teacher…

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Please enjoy more of the expert percussion of the late Tony Allen.

Cloister Commentary, Day 43: Parasite Plays Be Damned!

Friday was Game Night! Nicole loves when we play games because she routinely kicks my ass. However, this time she claimed minor reluctance because of her supposedly inferior vocabulary, as we had chosen Scrabble, which we hadn’t played since Christmas ’12, when we spread out the board at her mom Lynda Jo’s kitchen table. I chuckled evilly, anticipating domination.

She poured a Pinot, I cracked open a Bud and backed it with a finger of Four Roses, and it was on. After I slaughtered her by over 100 points in Round 1, I foolishly assumed my losing streak was over, but–alas–I got hustled. Despite my frequent “parasite plays” (adding -s or -ed to high-value words she’d already laid out), she took the last two rounds, killing me in the final one by setting up a three-letter word right where I was going to rack up a 36-point triple word score on my next turn. RAT FARTS!!!! Next time, by Gawd, we’re playing Rook!

My pain was assuaged throughout not only by the beer ‘n’ bourbon, but also, of course, by the music: The Ramones’ classic It’s Alive!, an archival Professor Longhair tribute concert broadcast on WWOZ (from ’74, with Benny Spellman, The Meters, Earl King, Dr. John, The Wild Magnolias, and Fess himself), and two jaw-droppers. Bonnie Raitt’s Give It Up has realllllly grown for me over time (maybe it’s me who’s grown): absolutely stunning singing and playing, spot-on song selection, and a powerful, natural, sexy feminist persona (is that ok?). And…Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story? That album makes our eyes mist up every time we play it–mostly from wonder as we marvel at the humanity it expresses so vividly, but also because ol’ Rodney was one of Nicole’s mom’s favorites. Has there ever been a one-two punch to the heart like “Maggie May” and “Mandolin Wind”? And how’d you like to just chuck talent (or is it genius) like that?

We also had a Facebook drop-in by an old high school friend of mine, Jim Mac. We’ve only seen each other a few times over the years, but he never fails to make a strong impression on us. He’s smart, funny, observant and soulful, and the Scrabble memory he shared was very evocative. I hope we are able to see him in person soon, but I believe our 40th high school reunion will likely be virtual if it occurs at all. I also enjoyed several Facebook appearances from former students who made me miss full-on teaching even more than I already do, but also reassured me that my existence has not been in vain.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Prelude to Scrabble. Did anyone else out there see the Furs at Stephens College in ’82, on the Forever Now tour? I love this band.