Cloister Commentary, Day 170: Crackle and Zoom

We took a nice hour-long neighborhood walk, discussed some small-scale home improvement plans, snagged some items at Westlake (including his-and-hers “crackle candles”), finally tracked down the September issue of Vanity Fair, toasted a fine Sunday with “tomato time” (a Bloody Mary, a tomato-and-mayo sandwich, and Zapp’s), then did our respective things for most of the afternoon. My respective thing was studying up (via reference books and streaming) on the inimitable jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn. I tell ya: I cannot get enough of her and Carmen McRae’s music. Am I wearing you down yet?

We also Zoomed with our friends Rex, Jill (accompanied by her wonderful Mississippi beau John Roy), and Isaac (now dubbed, due to his unexpected appearance, “SurprIsaac”). Nicole brought her big monitor home and figured out how to link it with her laptop, so this Zoom felt almost like we’d moved from a mini-TV to a cinema screen. My highlight from the Zoom was expounding with John Roy about Natchez history and Richard Grant’s relevant new book The Deepest South. We also sang the praises of Bobby Rush and his excellent new album.

After our Zoom, we dined on a vegan variant on Brazilian black bean stew that Nicole prepared. I had two helpings–I especially liked the chard she cooked up in it.

Streaming for Strivers:

It’s Celebrate Sonny Rollins Day.

Cloister Commentary, Day 42: Weather Reps

One of our shelter rituals has been watching the local and national news at 5 and 5:30. Alas, to that we must put a stop. After 30 minutes of local “coverage’ during which we saw the same advertisement three times, had the weather POUNDED into our brains via four reps–I got it the effin’ first time, people–and consumed maybe 30 seconds of actual information during the last 10 minutes of the program, WE CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I assure you, enough vital news (not even counting pandemic stuff and the beginning of campaign feces-flinging) is out there to fill 60 MINUTES. I’m not naive; I know the TV exists to sell, that it’s the “shows” that support the ads, not the other way around. But still. What a waste. We can always use more time for books and music, I guess.

Ok, then. Perhaps in response to this frustration, Nicole and I jumped in the car and just drove: out to her workplace, Battle High School, past her mom Lynda’s old house, down 63 to the AC exit, up Providence to downtown (sad to see Lucky’s lights still on but no cars in the lot), through the Stephens College campus (“Look! There’s where I park! And there’s the library window I’d jump out of in an emergency!”), onto I-70 and across the Missouri River bridge, then back home, the last 20 minutes accompanied by a mellow but vivid sunset. Soundtrack: Novo Baianos’ Acabou Chorare (a late-Tropicalia masterpiece from Brazil), Thelonious Monk Trio (if you don’t know Monk’s brilliance, a great starting point), and Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus. It was a redemptive little trip, but it left us sad to think we have no clue when or where we will actually be able travel to see people and places.

A ritual we are practicing that I’ve forgotten to mention is periodically ordering something neat to give ourselves something to look forward to arriving. I think we’ve made four Powell’s Books orders, I have some Soul Jazz-labelmusic coming from the UK, and Nicole got a box of nice stuff (soap, incense, a Shiva scarf, and a cone incense diffuser) from Nag Champa. We are fortunate to have leisure capital to spend, but at least we are spending it with quality merchants and avoiding Amazon like the plague during the plague.

Still keeping your eye on the ball regarding our Republican “legislators”‘s ongoing attempt to subvert democracy and overturn Clean Missouri while we’re distracted? Creeps. Not much noise about THAT at all on the TV news. Cheating in plain sight is the new political normal.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Curious about that Novo Baianos record? Here.