Murky AI “art” displayed in the Level 4 corridor of Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Murky AI “art” displayed in the Level 4 corridor of Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Another Week: Number 34

by | August 20, 2023

More headaches and nausea for Amy, and another indictment for former president Donald Trump (just looking at those four words is like a slap in the head) — this time in Georgia, along with 18 co-conspirators.

This was another week of driving to Froedtert for Amy’s chemo treatments, then hiding out at home to ride out her symptoms.

On Monday, we got over two inches of rain, which has not happened in a long time. On Wednesday, we got the news that the drug being used in Amy’s head has not produced the desired results. She’ll switch to a Plan B drug.

On Saturday, we had a very enjoyable backyard party with Amy’s family in the sunny countryside north of New Munster. It was good to see everyone.


The Collection: Jason Isbell

I love guitars, but I don’t know a lot about them. I play my Martin D-1 acoustic at least a little bit almost every day. My 1975 Fender Telecaster is sadly corroding in the basement, awaiting the day when I can finally restore all the things to their former glory.

We both like Jason Isbell a lot, but Amy is an enthralled fan, so I thought I would subject her to this 76-minute show-and-tell from Gibson TV with Isbell talking about guitars and sampling his collection with host Mark Agnesi — including the 1959 Gibson Les Paul “Red Eye” that had belonged to Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King until he died in 2018. Isbell reportedly paid as much as $650,000 for that instrument.

I learned a few things watching this.

For one, I had never heard of a 335 before, and now I have Isbell’s opinion that it would be the one single guitar he would choose to make a living with.

He also corroborated my brother-in-law’s advice to get my guitar professionally set up as soon as possible. I have only procrastinated for 20 years.

As for Amy, try though she might, she started snoring about halfway through.


Justified: City Primeval

We were big, big fans of the original Justified series (2010-2015 on FX). The characters were richly drawn and the dialogue was knife-sharp. One standoff involving “a spot snipers call ‘the apricot’” will stay with me forever.

Now the show has been resurrected on FX & Hulu as a limited series called Justified: City Primeval. It’s set in Detroit instead of Harlan County, Kentucky, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) has his daughter in tow. She’s played by Vivian Olyphant, the star’s real-life daughter.

The older Olyphant is still very watchable — but unfortunately, this revival is really not.

Compared with the original, City Primeval feels more like a standard police procedural from decades ago. The setting is your standard urban crimescape. The characters, including psychopathic bad guy Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), are flimsy and routine. Things take far too long to unfold and scenes completely stall at times. Vivian Olyphant feels like an add-on.

We’re three episodes in and may not continue.


How To with John Wilson: Season 3

Sometimes, in between serialized dramas and harrowing documentaries, it’s nice to have a half-hour of semi-silliness you can turn to for relief.

How To with John Wilson fills this hankering perfectly.

Over 29 or so minutes, Wilson fashions visual puns from random glimpses of disgusting or pathetic daily life, mostly in New York City, and weaves them into a meandering theme — usually leading to some larger, quite surprising real-life moments as well. There’s plenty of wry irony, cushioned by his gentle compassion.

Wilson has decided to end his HBO/Max series with the current season, his third batch of six episodes each.


The Donut King (2020)

The title and artwork for this documentary, currently available on Hulu, make it look cute and quirky — and there are those aspects to it — but it’s more complex and poignant than I had expected.

After fleeing the Khmer Rouge when they seized power in Cambodia in 1975, Ted Ngoy, his wife, and their three children settled in Orange County, California. There, after training with the Winchell’s chain of donut shops, he and his wife built Christy’s Donuts into a hugely successful Southern California donut chain and a path to success for countless Cambodian immigrants.

In addition to all this, there’s also a human drama that plays out in the Ngoys lives.

The Donut King is a well-constructed look at the American dream, in all its human glory and its hollow cravings.


See How They Run (2022)

This was an odd experience: a professionally produced movie featuring top-level actors that, in the end, is absolutely pointless. To add insult, Adrien Brody‘s character admits the whole sham at the beginning of the picture, and then the rest of the 98 minutes simply wraps the turd in pretty layers until — surprise! — it’s exactly the turd you were warned about.

The story revolves around Agatha Christie’s wildly popular play The Mousetrap. It’s 1953 and as the show is marking its 100th performance in London, an American director (Brody) has been hired to tackle a film adaptation.

So now we have a movie about a movie version of a play — a whodunnit — and this movie very quickly gets its own murder committed by a person unknown.

See? It’s all very meta, and the script includes plenty of winking meta jokes which quickly become tiresome. See How They Run also includes Sam Rockwell, who’s usually better than he is in his role here as the world-weary detective.

The only redeeming feature of this purported spoof is Saoirse Ronan, who plays Rockwell’s inexperienced sidekick, Constable Stalker. Ronan lights up the screen whenever she’s on it, implying with her eyes and her smile that something interesting may happen at any moment. Without her, this movie would just be footage.

We streamed it on Hulu.



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