Racine, Wisconsin: Despairing American Robin on birdbath
Racine, Wisconsin: Despairing American Robin on birdbath

Another Week: Number 22

by | May 28, 2023

As we arrived home after her chiropractor visit on Monday, Amy spotted a robin hanging its head over our birdbath. The poor thing could barely balance.

At first, I thought she was sick — but then I realized what must have happened. The nest in our crab tree was empty. A predator had undoubtedly turned her weeks of work, persistence, and hope into breakfast. It was likely the enormous crow I had shooed away a week or so earlier. Perhaps there had been a fight.

This robin is an icon for our week. Three months of intensifying migraines have produced the same trembling despair in my wife at times. We have both been bashed and battered.

Some things can never be repaired. We’ll have to focus on the ones that can. After a few hours, the robin was pacing around in the grass sorrowfully — but also eating a little here and there.

This week included one day-long trip to the emergency room, as well as some TV.


The Secrets of Hillsong

Amy loves cult shows. She watched all 37 episodes of Leah Remini’s Scientology series. Together, we have watched two different series on NXIVM, one on Heaven’s Gate, The Way Down, Stolen Youth, and a bunch more.

But the first episode of The Secrets of Hillsong may be the longest hour of TV we have ever endured, and I don’t think we’re going back for the remaining three.

All you need is a few minutes of watching Carl Lentz‘s act to lose all sympathy for anyone taken in by him — or by Brian Houston‘s international Christianity franchise.

Sorry, but I remember the days of The PTL Club, when deceitful preachers were at least compelling.


Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman

This special was released on March 17 on Disney+, but then it came to Hulu as well on May 11. We watched it Tuesday night.

Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman is a decent little musical grab bag featuring the two frontmost members of U2 on their home turf reminiscing and performing, along with the talk show host formerly known as David Lettermen.

You get a lot of assorted goodies in these 84 minutes — origin stories, old footage and nicknames of U2’s members, a dash of Dublin travelogue, a little of Ireland’s political history, some snatches of an acoustic concert featuring Bono and The Edge performing “reimagined” versions of their classic songs, a visit with Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard, and a sing-along with the whole gang at a Dublin pub.

Acting as our unworthy guide for all this is Letterman’s “Dave” character — a doddering, overly self-effacing dope with a Mr. Natural beard who’s amazed by this “rock and roll” music these kids are creating.

On the one hand, you’ve probably heard these U2 songs before, and heard Bono yammer on about having “the courage to jump off the building and believe you can fly.” On the other hand, you may not have heard about The Edge’s distaste for Bono’s cooperation with Jesse Helms, “who personally dismantled the National Endowment for the Arts.”

While it may not contain anything truly transcendent, this special is a comfortable hang with some familiar folks.


Bama Rush (2023)

Wednesday we watched the documentary Bama Rush on Max. I understood only that it was some sort of exposé about the sorority recruitment process at the University of Alabama, and expected maybe some sort of hazing revelations or … I don’t know. I didn’t go to college.

What we got was a very intimate look at the intense efforts of several women to gain acceptance into the best possible group among a group of exclusive groups.

As someone who has always followed more of a solitary artist path, this aspiration is completely foreign to me. But obviously, it’s practical training for corporate and social success that has escalated over time into a punishing gauntlet.

A bit of this history is included, but mostly we spend time with four students trying to polish their fashion choices, their conversational topics, and every other aspect of the way they present themselves in hopes of getting into their favored sorority. Hiring a professional rush consultant to guide them through the $8,000 process is commonplace.

As a sidebar to all this, director Rachel Fleit includes her own experience of being completely bald since being diagnosed with alopecia universalis at just 18 months of age, and her painful struggle to fit in by wearing wigs through much of her life.

Unfortunately, Fleit’s filming of this documentary was disrupted by social media paranoia about her intentions. Also, she does not dig much into an on-campus secret society known as “The Machine” which reportedly controls … things?

But Bama Rush is still worth watching for its scrutiny of the need for acceptance.



As I have repeated here a few times, we keep sampling shows on Apple TV+ but frequently find them to have no point beyond their own peculiar, stunted reality.

Two episodes in, Platonic seems to be yet another example.

It stars Rose Byrne and Seth Rogan — an odd pairing right away. You wonder how the creators will make it work.

Byrne plays Sylvia, a married, stay-at-home mom with three kids. Will (Rogan) is an old friend of hers who recently got divorced so — encouraged by her husband — Silvia reconnects with Will just to provide support on a platonic basis.

The thing is, Will is possibly the most obnoxious human being on earth. From his hat to his clothes, to his nonstop, hyperactive juvenile pestering and goofing off, this supposedly grown man is a cheap, one-man circus — but no one really acknowledges his obnoxiousness except his ex.

Silvia, meanwhile, tolerates him. She registers irritation. She even gets angry at first. But mostly she remains polite and willing to be in his vicinity.

Platonic is the second concurrent Apple TV+ show starring Rose Byrne — the first being Physical, another weirdly aimless exercise.

Admittedly, I will watch Rose Byrne in anything, at least for a few episodes. So could someone please write her something worth everyone’s time?


Kathleen Madigan: Hunting Bigfoot

As noted last week, we’re big fans of Lewis Black. He is very close with another comic, Kathleen Madigan, whom we have not seen very much of.

So when Kathleen Madigan: Hunting Bigfoot popped up while browsing Amazon Prime Video, I immediately hit play.

It’s a fine hour and fifteen minutes. Madigan is a relatable, unpretentious middle-aged woman with a funny, knowing take on all sorts of everyday encounters. The laughs keep coming in a nice, relaxing stream.


Shutter Island (2010)

I browse lots of online “What to watch on your chosen streaming platforms” articles, and I was intrigued to read that Amazon Prime Video has added a Martin Scorsese movie I had never even heard of starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Max von Sydow. How is that even possible?

Based on the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name, Shutter Island begins with U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) vomiting with seasickness aboard a boat headed for a hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor in 1954. He and his partner (Ruffalo) are investigating the disappearance of a patient.

Daniels has a complicated personal history. He is haunted by what he saw as a U.S. Army soldier liberating the Dachau concentration camp in 1944. He dreams of his wife Delores who died in an arson fire. He suffers excruciating migraine headaches.

I mean — we’re watching a completely unknown movie as a distraction during Amy’s migraine headaches, and here’s a lead character with migraine headaches.

Amy enjoyed Shutter Island a lot and said it felt like a “real movie” from Hollywood’s classic era.

I liked it as well. It has a lot of things going on — some strong Alfred Hitchcock influence, detective elements, psychological twists, a hurricane, and a super-moody soundtrack of modern classical music assembled by Robbie Robertson. Had I not known beforehand, I wouldn’t have guessed it was Scorsese’s work.



Please add your thoughts: