When I stayed with CelloGirl in Atlanta, I reveled the famously warm Southern hospitality: the weather was balmy, the city felt familiar and welcoming, and nearly every morning I was treated to an egg sandwich, CelloGirl style. There are an infinite number of variations, but here are the basics:

1. put an english muffin in the toaster. we want crispy here, so crank it.

2. fry an egg over medium, turning off the heat after you flip it.

3. put a little mayo and Sriracha on both sides of the muffin

4. on goes the egg

5. on go any accoutrements you choose: my favorites are sprouts or Thai basil.

6. eat.

It seems many are not familiar with Sriracha. In LA, it’s on nearly every table to help cheer up bland omelettes, underseasoned burgers, feeble sushi/whathaveyou. In fact, I’m realizing that some of my favorite restaurants offer Tabasco, Tapatio AND Sriracha. I hardly ever open them, because the food so rarely needs anything except gleeful consumption. At home, it’s another story. I douse my food with something red nearly every day.

The motto in Atlanta was “Everything tastes better with Sriracha”, and I find it to be accurate. Start with a small amount, and don’t be afraid to mix it with mayo. It’s a devilishly yummy combination, and what sushi chefs use to make your spicy tuna spicy!

Now about that Popper.

I’ve been using the Popper studies to rehab my arm and refresh my technique. Like Sriracha sauce, Popper is exquisitely spicy. I’ve been trying to stagger through the one I worked on the previous day and then a start new one. To use a football term, I’m doing Popper two-a-days. It’s good for note reading, intonation, ear training, and getting over many cello-y neuroses. To help me with my self-flagellation, I bought Yablonsky’s recording of all 40 studies, and I must admit, it’s becoming quite an edifying routine. Play, listen, play, listen, slow it down, speed it up, go for meticulous perfection, go wildly for the larger gesture, listen some more, slow it down, walk around, do it all over again. I wish I had a studio space that shared no walls, because I practice in a very real way i.e., I work on stuff that does not sound very good right out of the box. In fact, Popper is special that way: even when you’re doing it right, it sometimes has a peculiar sound to it that is not always what one would queue up on the ol’ iPod for a rollicking listen.

Unless you’re me. Alas, like my proclivity for tongue-searing spicy food, whose allure is Capsaicin, a compound that teases pain receptors more than taste buds, I am becoming addicted to Popper. I have gone from a grumbling high schooler who considered quitting at the hands of the deadly Nos.17 and 29 to a starry-eyed fanatic who seeks out passages that sound like absolute garbage to worship at the shrine that is the High School of Cello Studies.

If you are a cellist, and would like to stay a cellist, and would like to be the best cellist possible, resign yourself to these studies, and feel the burn.