Cloister Commentary, Day 272: The Immediate Present

I awakened feeling a ton better physically, but still a bit stressed mentally and emotionally. I mean, December usually weighs heavy at the same time that one is about exhausted from the (albeit arbitrary) year, but this one has been a doozy. I was worried about a claim that had hit a snag, about my mom’s arthritis, about my decision to kick a clinic visit can down the road…Nicole could see it on my face, hugged me around the neck, messed up my perfect part, and told me she understood. My favorite moment of the day, and it moved me into the immediate present. I knocked out another 20 holiday cards, mailed ’em, and read four CDs’ worth of sleeve notes that I’d been putting off.

Thursday is Movie Night here, of course. We ate Bangkok Garden leftovers (does anyone else send holiday cards to your favorite eateries?), popped some poopity-popcorn, poured a couple ginger beers with bourbon and lime, and watched episodes 3 and 4 of the amazing, hard-hitting, and seriously educational Steve McQueen series Small Axe. I cannot recommend it enough. I told Nicole that we are sure to look back on this series of films as major cultural landmarks; I hope we will have another Zoom discussion about them with Rebecca and Frank!

Streaming for Strivers:

Relative to Episode 4 of Small Axe. I was wondering when LKJ would make it onto the series’ stimulatin’ soundtrack–it was inevitable–and last night was the night. Final track from this record (I may have posted it previously, but it’s worth it–it isn’t streaming on Apple Music and I wonder why)…

…and I’m not forgetting your full album stream!

(6) Linton Kwesi Johnson : Reggae Greats (Full Album) – YouTube

Cloister Commentary, Day 260: Rituals To Be Continued

I have come to love a COVID ritual that I will probably extend into the next world (if we ever get there). I drove Nicole to the grocery store ultra-early for provisions, before it got too crowded, and just sat in the truck cab meditating and thinking (those aren’t always the same thing). I know it looks like I’m lazing there blissfully while she’s endangering herself, but it’s not what it seems. My spouse would probably agree.

The blower–the telly-phone, as Elvis once sang (he stole the phrasing from Jackie Wilson)–has become a welcome alternative to Zoom for many lately, I just read in The Week. I spoke to two loved ones who are suffering via that technology myself yesterday, and I definitely understand.

I don’t mean to torture readers with constant reports of my good fortune due to my wife being an incredible cook, but she spent the afternoon preparing delicious black bean-stuffed poblano peppers with queso fresco and they delivered serious satisfaction. We bought some fresh tortillas from the Tortilleria ” EL PATRÓN ” Group and, as is my wont, I spied an improvisational opportunity to combine the stuffed peppers and the lettuce, onion, and avocado salad she’d also prepared into a scrumptious soft taco. I am not completely culinarily worthless!

You no doubt have heard of Steve McQueen’s limited series on Amazon Prime, Small Axe. If not, you’re hearing about it now. How many of you learned about the lives of black men and women in England when you were in school? I didn’t, either, and you can catch up here. The second installment, titled “Lovers Rock” (after the warm and romantic strain of golden-age reggae of the same name), is simply beautiful. There is no plot; it’s one night in the life of a group of (mostly) young black youth at a blues dance. The performances, soundtrack, and cinematographical brilliance of the episode will dazzle and inspire you, possibly to joyful tears. That’s what we watched last night; it was just a shade better than dinner.

Streaming for Strivers:

Up for sampling some lover’s rock?