Cloister Commentary, Day 45: Snackery

It was a terrific, peaceful Sunday. A segment on “CBS Sunday Morning” reminded me to ask my small band of readers a question of great importance: since I know all of you, like us, are snacking to beat the band, would you mind commenting with your go-to munchies? Nicole and I are about to turn into Geisha-brand wasabi-coated peas (we’re already like two peas in a pod), we cannot make a bag of Backer’s plain tater chips last more than a day (The Girl with The Golden Curls has her hooks in us), and I believe we’ve gone through five containers of Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts since mid-March. I am warning you: do not buy peanut butter creme Oreos. Don’t do it.

Apropos of nothing except maybe we caught the bug from a vintage concert broadcast Friday night on our favorite community radio station, WWOZ, we cranked up Louisiana music virtually all day long. It. Is. Balm. For. The. Soul. Roll call: Sidney Bechet, Beausoleil, Professor Longhair, Ricky “Shake For Ya Hood”B, Allen Toussaint and Wynton Marsalis (forgive me, but it was his Jelly Roll Morton album, and he can be charming).

Zoomed with my parents, my brother Brian and his best gal Myra. I hope we get to see each other in person soon. Is a 450-mile round-trip drive-by visit silly, or not? It would be 34 hours to Houston and back, though.

My grandpa used to cry watching soap operas, so when I quietly wept watching last night’s wrenching episode of Call the Midwife, I guess I was coming by it honestly. If Nonnatus House gets demolished and that ends the show’s run, I’m going to get mad.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

I’m dedicating this one to my very sharp former student Amann Woldeghebriel in the hope he’s never heard it. Amann loves jazz and is frequently in search of something great he hasn’t sampled. Dig this, friend. You will be asking about the guitarists: John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock. And Miles is ON.

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.