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 52: The Beguiled

Having closely read my Day 50 commentary, Nicole broke out her very accurate imitation of What We Do in the Shadows‘ beguiling Nadja (played by Natasia Demetriou). It very nearly persuaded me to quit reading and get off the couch.

The chef needed no mimicry to entice me to dig in to the aloo gobi she prepared for Sunday dinner. Her excellence in the early stages of her exploration of Indian cuisine bodes poorly for me getting down to my high school graduation weight.

Trying Desperately to Stay Hip Department: Seriously, I do enjoy yute music, and yesterday I sampled and very much enjoyed the new Kehlani album, meaningfully titled It Was Good Until It Wasn’t–trials and tribulations, but the gal is tough. Some smart students from a 2018 Stephens class of mine insisted then that I listen to her work, and I’ve truly not ever been disappointed. Also delighting me was the current release by African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique, Amazones, which ranges across several textures and moods in dance music yet holds together exceptionally well. I would have experienced the surprise release by Bad Bunny, but my very new Bluetooth headphones were also bad: they broke. I was taking them off when the right “wing” just snapped in half. What does one do with broken headphones?

Watch Call the Midwife. I ain’t gonna tell you again.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Your turn.

Cloister Commentary, Day 50: The Succor and Sustenance Awards, Iteration I

I inadvertently began this journal on Nicole’s and my 28th wedding anniversary. Halfway to 100, at which point I expect to still be commentin’, I arrive at the 30th anniversary of our goin’ steady. We’d been very good friends for a couple weeks, I was licking my wounds from having been officiously dumped, and I hollered at her one day about going to show with me (the Coctails, Murphy’s, Sprangfield, MO). She’d really been fun and funny, which was helping me heal, and she had stellar taste in music and books, so I stopped by Record Center to say hi to ol’ Mark Vaugine and buy her a present in gratitude (a cassette of Rosetta Tharpe’s Decca label Gospel Train, Volume 1). We met at the show, that band was lively, she loved the gift, we were laughing our butts off–and I just stopped at one point and asked her, “Are we going out?” Her answer: “I guess so!” You know the rest. I hope we have 30 more in the tank!

The 1st Cloister Commentary Succor and Sustenance Awards (links in comments):

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Album: Carmen McRae, The Great American Songbook

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Movie: Duck Soup (“Hail, Hail, Freedonia” indeed….)

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Show: What We Do in The Shadows (I have a crush on Nadja–sorry, Nicole!)

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Book (three-way tie): √Člmer Mendoza, The Acid Test; Fernanda Melchor, Hurricane Season; Martin Duberman, Stonewall

Best Anti-COVID-Blues Curbside Grub: Beet Box

Best Anti-COVID-Blues TV Journalist: Don Lemon (nailed it, dude)

Next edition in 50 days. Have a great weekend if weekends still have definition for you!

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

This isn’t exactly the recording I mentioned above, but it will well and truly suffice. I know Bob Bilyeu will agree!