Froedtert Hospital, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: North Tower courtyard, June 2, 2023.
Froedtert Hospital, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: North Tower courtyard, June 2, 2023.

Another Week: Number 23

by | June 4, 2023

The weather has been beautiful here, but there hasn’t been a drop of rain in over two weeks, so our lawn is turning brown and crisp.

On Friday, we finally learned the cause of Amy’s headaches and vomiting for the last three months. They’re not migraines triggered by barometric pressure or gluten or dairy or anything.

I can’t think of anything worse than hearing the words “metastasis” and “brain” in connection with the love of my life and the breast cancer we have been coping with for 10 years this summer — unless it was the sound of each of her six sisters on her iPhone speaker as we called them with the news.

Of my 3,282 total weeks on Earth, this one has been the absolute worst to date. Reality is a window I don’t want to look through, so I’m using cardboard and paper and anything at hand to try and block it — yet it keeps sneaking around the edges, just like cancer itself. It hits me in paralyzing waves of sobbing and despair.

Here’s hoping things are going better for you.


SmartLess: On The Road

Back in the 1980s, I got drawn into and became part of a Chicago radio show that broke broadcasting conventions and gradually developed into two or three or four people sitting at microphones and joking about whatever rolled by on their shared train of thought or the news of the day.

At the time, the spontaneity was revolutionary. Showbiz veterans — like Rich Little, for instance — would be caught off guard by the unstructured atmosphere, asking, “When do we start?” even though he had been live on the air for some time.

These days, radio is a dim memory and instead, we have podcasts, where countless known and unknown personalities sit around shooting the shit into Shure microphones on a regular basis — entertaining or not.

Among these are TV stars Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett on a podcast called SmartLess which Amy has frequently enjoyed. As I understand it, in each installment, one of the trio invites a special guest without revealing that guest to the other two beforehand.

Before long, they started selling tickets to their SmartLess podcast on a tour of various American theaters, bringing along photographer/director Sam Jones — of Off Camera with Sam Jones and the excellent Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed — who followed the boys around and captured their onstage and behind-the-scenes hilarity in private planes and hotel suites and chauffeured SUVs using gorgeous black-and-white cinematography.

Luxury aside, though, it’s basically three guys firing off random wisecracks and insults regarding each other’s clothing and diet choices, grooming and fitness, and mental acuity.

Or two guys, anyway. Sean Hayes is more of a passive observer half the time.

Is it any good? I don’t know. We have watched a total of two episodes so far. The insults and the aimlessness can get tiresome, and the luxury feels a little bleak at times — but every minute of it is cinematic.


Sarah Silverman: Someone You Love

We have enjoyed Sarah Silverman for decades now, but I guess somehow it’s been six years since her last stand-up special.

This new one on Max — Sarah Silverman: Someone You Love — is a good, standard example of the form. There’s an unnecessary introductory bit, and then Silverman comes out in jeans and stands in front of the Wilbur Theater audience in Boston for almost an hour doing comedy, much of it centered on Jewishness.

She’s funny.

I can’t say the show ever shifts into high gear. Instead, it just rolls along at, say, 35 or 40 miles per hour, with Silverman smiling and observing the traffic signals.


Reality (2023)

Released May 29 on Max, Reality is an odd movie. It’s basically just a reenactment of the FBI interrogation of Reality Winner, the Air Force veteran and military contractor eventually sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison for leaking an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 elections to The Intercept.

The movie opens with an explanation:

The FBI documented the following events with an audio recorder.

The dialogue in this movie is taken entirely from the transcript of that recording.

As Reality Winner arrives at her home in Augusta, Georgia on June 3, 2017, FBI agents knock on her car window and activate the recorder, beginning a long, awkward dance in which they prod her inch by inch, and she tries to remain as natural as possible. So, the first third of the movie is primarily concerned with the location of her dog and cat — as well as her weapons.

Sydney Sweeney, who we know from The White Lotus and Euphoria, plays Winner and has received particular acclaim for her portrayal. She is very good — but the role is limited to her escalating apprehension over an hour or so.

Reality was an interesting 82 minutes — particularly for comparison to the Donald Trump classified documents case — but maybe not essential viewing.


WTF with Marc Maron: Episode 1436 – Warren Zanes

Last month, we saw Bruce Springsteen on CBS Sunday Morning showing off the rented bedroom where he wrote and recorded his masterpiece album Nebraska. The segment was prompted by a new book about Nebraska by Warren Zanes.

This week, I listened to the Warren Zanes episode of WTF with Marc Maron from May 18.

I wasn’t really familiar with Zanes, despite his having spent five years in The Del Fuegos and his having written Petty: The Biography.

It turns out Zanes has lived quite a life as a musician, an academic, a writer, a bicycle racer/mechanic, and a deeply feeling human being — and Marc Maron examines a lot of these facets in this engaging interview.



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