Dandy Cat

Letterboxd Diaries—January 2023

Total movies watched: 24.

Favorite movie of the month: Bringing Up Baby.

Worst movie of the month: Red Dawn.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

I read Past Tense by Lee Child. While it wasn’t the best Jack Reacher novel, it was a new take on the old formula. This refreshing change made for a propulsive and enjoyable read. 📚

I’ve long lamented the fact that I’ll probably never be able to become a stealthy ninja or renowned super spy, given the way my knees and ankles crack when I walk.

I read Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy. This was a wildly different book than The Passenger, but it does a good job of informing much of what was in it. A fascinating pair by one of the greats. 📚

I just found out that a somewhat local independent bookstore, called Cellar Door Bookstore, is being evicted from their Riverside, CA location of ten years. Here’s their announcement. At the time of their eviction notice, they were given a meager forty-one days to clear out their entire inventory and hand over their keys.

Since they’ve received no explanation for the eviction from their property management company, speculation about this terrible surprise is all anybody has right now. Cellar Door has long held reading events led by local drag queens called “Drag Queen Storytime.” It’s hard not to feel that this harmless and supportive event is the cause of their eviction. No official reason has been given, so it wouldn’t be right to condemn anybody for their actions yet. However, the timing of everything—so soon after a recent Drag Queen Storytime—is telling. If that’s the reason, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest. Upset, but not surprised.

Hateful actions from ignorant people happen all the time, and often it’s especially hurtful when those actions happen so close to home. Luckily, Cellar Door is not run by people who will take any of this lying down. They will have to vacate, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached the end of their story. They’re sure to find another location (hopefully close by and run by good management) and will continue providing their community with a welcoming and loving book-centered experience.

In the meantime, I’ll be going there as soon as possible to give them some of my money during this rough time. I’m also excited to soon have the opportunity to continue supporting them at their future location.

I encourage anyone who reads this to purchase as many books as you can from them—they have an online storefront—or make use of companies that support local bookstores and other worthwhile literary causes, such as Bookshop.org, IndieBound.org, ThriftBooks, Better World Books, or really just anywhere that isn’t Amazon.1

UPDATE: According to a poorly written article in The Press-Enterprise, Cellar Door has been given until March 31, not February 28 as they were first told, to relocate. A small kindness, but one only given after this story attracted a fair amount of backlash from the community. The store will still be moving and will still be better off for it.

  1. Especially now that Amazon ended their AmazonSmile program because it “has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped.” Yet another disappointing load of corporate cruelty. ↩︎

I read The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay. A fascinating, high-concept idea. Unfortunately, much of the first half is full of tiring exposition dumps and a misunderstanding of the maxim of “show, don’t tell.” 📚

Apple released a new full-size HomePod today, and it’s sadly not the HomePod I was hoping it would be. I bet it’ll sound great, but at a still prohibitive $299, I’m hoping it won’t suffer the same sad fate as its predecessor.

When I think of the difficulties some of the older people in my life have with technology I then wonder about what I have trouble with. What challenges me?1 How can I avoid being overwhelmed like I’ve witnessed with them?

  1. It’s probably anything related to social media. ↩︎

I read The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy. Like all of his work, this book was dense, expansive, and demanding of deep attention and thought.

I’m really looking forward to reading its companion book, Stella Maris. 📚

What I’m Subscribed to in 2023

This has been a week full of reviews for me, so let’s keep that momentum going with another look at what I’m currently subscribed to this year. I did the same thing last year and learned a lot about the apps and services for which I’m regularly paying. I’ve continued using a Numbers spreadsheet for tracking these things, but have updated it for 2023’s various finances.

This year, most of my subscriptions have remained the same, but I’ve dropped a few media services. Naturally, I’m paying far less than I was last year. The majority of my subscriptions now appear to be computer utilities and productivity services. Looking at the list below, it’s beginning to feel like I’ve whittled things closer to only the essentials; I wouldn’t expect the list to change all that much from now on (but we’ll see what the future brings).

Categories of need:

  • Essential: It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Nice to have: The world won’t end if I get rid of it, but I’d miss it a whole lot.
  • Needs to go: Working on the courage to get it out of my life.

Subscriptions I’m keeping

  • Apple One: This has once again proven to be the most needed subscription. There’s too much good stuff here to ever drop it. Essential. $32.95 a month.
  • Backblaze: I’ve not yet had to use it for data recovery, but I’m happy to keep giving them money. Essential. $70 a year.
  • Carrot Weather: This amazing weather app got even better last year. It brings me joy. Nice to have. $14.99 a year.
  • Drafts: The more I feed text into this app, the more important and useful it becomes. Essential. $19.99 a year.
  • Fantastical: Still the best calendar app out there. So good that I got my Mom to use it, too. Essential. $89.99 a year for a family plan.
  • Google One: I thought I could get away with not paying for this, but I’ve got too much stuff to back up. Essential. $19.99 a year.
  • Hover: My domain is utterly important, but the email tier I’m on isn’t. This price will be going down this year. Essential. $50.17 a year.
  • Infuse: I use this to stream all of my Plex media. I could use the Plex app, but it’s given me audio issues. Nice to have. $.99 a month.
  • Letterboxd: Considering how much pleasure I get from this service and how much I enjoy tracking data, this has become important. I want to help them stay alive. Essential. $49 a year.
  • Micro.blog: It’s still the best place I’ve found for hosting this site. Essential. $5 a month.
  • 1Password: I’d really like to switch over to Apple’s password manager, but family members depend on it. Essential. $59 a year.
  • Overcast: Considering how many podcasts I listen to each week and how terrible Apple’s app still is, this app is important. Essential. $9.99 a year.
  • Parcel: The world wouldn’t end if this had to go, but until it does, I can easily track my packages. Nice to have. $2.99 a year.
  • Patreon - Do By Friday: Merlin Mann and Alex Cox are delightful and bring me joy. Nice to have. $5 a month.
  • Relay FM - four supported shows: These shows are also delightful and bring me joy. Nice to have. $20 a month (four shows for $5 apiece).
  • Trakt.tv: The interface could be a bit nicer, but for tracking my tv shows this has proven to be the best option. Nice to have. $30 a year.

Amount spent on monthly subscriptions: $63.94

Amount spent on annual subscriptions: $326.12

Annual total for all subscriptions: $1,158.39

Subscriptions I’m letting lapse

  • Castro: I’ve written a lot about what’s happened to this once amazing app. It’s a damn shame how the developers have let this app wither and it’s inexcusable that they keep taking people’s money. Was $8.99 a year.
  • Mimo: This is a decent app (and reminiscent of Duolingo), but my Python future is up in the air. Was $39.99 a year.
  • Bearable: I thought tracking everything about how I’m feeling would be a worthwhile endeavor. Turns out that it was a fiddly distraction from life. Was $18.99 a year.
  • Widgetsmith: I was mostly using this for the extra themes on my countdown widgets. I’ve since found a lovely new countdown app to replace the widgets. I still have Widgetsmith, but it’ll be less artsy now. Was $1.99 a month.

My Favorite Books That I Read for the First Time in 2022 (and the Ones I Disliked)

Books have always been an important part of my life. I consider myself a big reader, not voracious necessarily (I don’t know if I can read that fast), but it’s always been a part of my identity. However, between school and life, the amount that I read throughout any given year fell for a long time.

That sad fact of my life changed in 2022. I surprised myself by finishing thirty-two books last year, a feat that I haven’t accomplished in at least a decade, if not longer. I’ve been making books an integral part of my life again, and I’m happier for it.

Listed below are several of those thirty-two books that resonated with me (and a couple that felt like wastes of my time). I’ve been tracking them in a Notion database, which has worked out well and feels better than using Goodreads.1

My favorite books

  • Billy Summers by Stephen King.
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. I was a big fan of Station Eleven, so I was predisposed to enjoying this book. I didn’t expect how enthralled I would be by its end. It may be the best thing I read all year.
  • Kissa by Kissa by Craig Mod. I love everything this person does, so supporting his work by purchasing this book about walking, Japan, and pizza toast was a no-brainer.
  • Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel. Their first novel. While it’s not as grand or affecting as their later work, I enjoyed the trip it took me on.
  • The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. This one took me forever to finish, but it was stellar. I’m so glad Donna Tartt is enjoying renewed interest.
  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami.
  • Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. In the world of unique books, this one may be in the top three. I’ve never read anything like it. The experience of unraveling its mystery was one of the best I’ve had in recent years.
  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. I don’t think this was quite as good as The Glass Hotel, but I blasted through it in a few short days and it stayed with me long after I finished it.
  • A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss.

My disliked books

  1. Thanks, Amazon… ↩︎

My Favorite TV Shows That I Watched for the First Time in 2022 (and the Ones I Disliked)

I spent most of 2022 thinking I hadn’t watched much television, and I felt down about that. There was so much good stuff happening on tv, and I was missing out on it! I spent too much time watching admittedly great movies that I let tv fall by the wayside. How could it ever forgive me?

Turns out my concern was overblown—I watched more tv last year than I have since I started tracking what I watch. In 2022, I watched 1,453 episodes of tv shows. It was a good thing I was sitting down when I figured out that staggering number.

I’ve listed my favorite shows below, and also included a few that I regret giving any time. Last year, I started using the pretty excellent Trakt service to track what I’m watching. Check out my profile there.

My favorite shows

My disliked shows

My Favorite Films That I Watched for the First Time in 2022 (and the Ones I Disliked)

In 2022, I watched 333 movies, the great majority of which I hadn’t seen before. Last year may have been the most films I’d seen in a single year up to that point, but this year blew it away. 333 compared to 236? Almost a hundred more movies is no contest. That being said, I did see some amazing things for the first time last year, so check out that post.

This large number of films can only mean three things: I’ve seen a lot of great movies, I’ve seen a lot of terrible movies, and I had more free time on my hands than I thought I would. The ones listed below have monopolized my thoughts. They refuse to go quietly and deserve a special mention here.

Thanks once again to Letterboxd, the best movie tracking/reviewing/social service out there. Make sure to follow me there.

My favorite films

My disliked films

No pressure, 2023


It took me longer than I’d care to admit that my 2022 was actually a rewarding year filled with accomplishments. I spent the first several months wallowing in a funk of my own making. The pernicious ability of those self-made funks blinds any who suffer through them from realizing objective truth. While you could be having the best year ever, the funk will darken your skies and spew bile all over your victories. It’s a deadly beast with razor claws and a hunger for happiness.

I say, “Screw that funk!” What’s it ever really done for anyone? It’s high time that I shout out that 2022 was, on the whole, a success. I may not have achieved everything I set out to do in my Year of Just a Little Bit Happier, but I did live up to the name of my chosen theme: I am just a little bit happier.

It took a lot of work to get there, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge how helpful it’s been to start seeing a doctor regularly again and getting on an effective antidepressant. Thank you, escitalopram! If someone had asked me about taking such a medication at this time last year, I probably would have given it a thoughtful brush-off. I’m glad that I realized how helpful it could be. I won’t give it credit for everything—I think I’ve done some positive work—but it’s been a helpful tool.

As always, this is a journey I’m on, and I don’t think there will ever be a lasting destination, but I’m taking positive steps.


At the beginning of last year, I endeavored to bring positivity back into my life. I figured that positivity would breed happiness within myself. Such a simple math equation wasn’t going to shake the world, but it worked out for me. I had a long list of ideas I wanted to try out that would shape the overall structure of last year. Let’s grade them now.

  • Try to recognize how I’m feeling. Don’t hide from the stress. Confront my frustrations. Consider how I react to myself and other people when overwhelmed. Try again if I slip up.

Success! This will be a never-ending process, but at least I’m starting to consider what’s going on inside my mind a lot more than I ever did before. I need to keep this one up.

  • Get better at respecting the limitations I impose on my social media time.

Success! I’ve gotten this down to an acceptable level, i.e., nearly nothing. It’s had the most profound effect on my life. As much as possible, I’d like to get “nearly nothing” down to zero.

  • Learn and become adept at Swift.

Failure. Learning how to program has been difficult for me. I don’t know if that’s because I’m having trouble comprehending its concepts or if it’s just not for me.

  • Continue watching loads of movies.

Success! Last year, I watched three hundred and thirty-three films. It’s probably the most I’ve ever seen in a year, and I’m proud of this accomplishment; movies are an essential part of my life. I may not go for a similar number this year, but I’ll be watching a lot of interesting stories.

  • Work on planning my honeymoon.

Failure. My honeymoon continues to be a victim of COVID. It’s hard to think about such a grand undertaking when there’s still such a great health risk. Since this illness will go away, I’m going to have to learn to be okay with traveling again.

  • Read more fun books.

Success! What a success! Since I started tracking how many books I read each year, the most I ever achieved was twelve. Last year, I read thirty-two. Reading has always been a passion, so I’m thrilled with how this went. I attribute this number to my decreased time on social media.

  • Devote more time to connecting with people on Micro.blog.

Failure. Objectively, I didn’t do well with this at all. Frankly, I don’t feel too bad about it. I love everyone on Micro.blog, but removing social media from my life means I’m missing out on half of the experience there. At this point in my life, that feels like an acceptable trade-off. In a way, this failure is also a success.

  • Say yes to more things and, conversely, say no to more things.

Neutral. Honestly, we should all probably be saying no to more things. Time is precious. I’m going to keep practicing this one.

  • Improve my sleep schedule.

Neutral. I don’t often feel worn out, but my increasing number of afternoon naps probably says a lot.

  • Get more fresh air in my lungs.

Neutral. Not a failure, but I’d still like to spend more time outside (weather permitting).


I feel heartened by my progress with last year’s theme. I found a good direction in which to head, and I’d like to continue this positivity.

That said, there are still some aspects of my life that could use some adjusting. My focus on the areas listed above has meant that I lacked focus on other important parts. While mental health was an important consideration I was making last year, I let my physical health slip further. I may currently be in the worst physical shape of my life. Early 20s Sean would not be happy with mid-30s Sean. He’d probably also be running easy laps around my currently huffing self.

I need to adjust and fix that which has gotten out of balance.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that 2023 will be my Year of Recalibration. I will strive to improve a few key parts of my life that need to head back in the right direction. I won’t have such a long list as last year. Honestly, I think I let it get out of hand. The relatively small number of goals I’ll focus on will be enough of a challenge.


I’m going to spend my recalibration year working on these areas:

  • Endeavor to lose weight.

Ideally, this will mean losing an average of a pound a week throughout 2023. If I can lose fifty-two pounds by the end of the year, then I’ll be ecstatic and proud of myself. As ever, the goal I’m setting isn’t a line drawn in the sand. I want to lose weight; the total amount isn’t the most important aspect.

  • Find a satisfying job.

Many of my mental health issues stem from my lack of a reliable and healthy income. This needs to change, both for my current well-being and my future financial security. If that can be done with a job that’s also personally fulfilling, then all the better.

  • Further explore the world of transcendent music.

Last year, I devoted a lot of time to watching great movies and tv shows and reading excellent books. Most of my listening time goes toward podcasts. But I also love music and would like to find more inspiring audio. If I’m going to pay so much for Apple Music every month, then I should get all I can out of the service.

  • Continue to work on understanding how I’m feeling.

This should go without saying, but it’s an important reminder. I don’t want to squander what I accomplished last year by losing focus on what I feel and how I react to the world around me.

Last year has passed and another year is staring us straight in the face. It’s impossible to know what 2023 might bring us,1 but what we can do is try to make the most out of what happens. The hopeful guidelines of my theme this year will give me a good path to start following.

Here’s to a wonderful year for us all!

  1. Please, please, please no more Twitter nonsense. ↩︎

Letterboxd Diaries—December 2022

Total movies watched: 31.

Favorite movie of the month: Burning. But also, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and Confess, Fletch were absolute delights.

Worst movie of the month: Lucy and Amsterdam. The first was just tripe and the second was a waste of an amazing cast.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

Best of luck to everybody as we all accidentally write 2022 instead of 2023 on our various documents, checks, and other assorted date lines for a while.

Happy 2023, everybody!

Mine started off right: The incessant (and very welcome) rain that’s been falling throughout the night has kept people inside and away from their terrible fireworks.

What better way to ring this one in?

I don’t care about TikTok—I don’t and won’t use it—but the legitimate and renewed concern about its safety is fascinating.

A part of me wants to see it banned in the U.S. for nothing else than to see what would happen when a service of that size is suddenly not available.

Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a lovely day.

I wouldn’t wish for you the frigid and snowy weather that the eastern part of my country is dealing with, but I’m also not wishing for the mid-80° weather we have in Southern California. Winter wonderland, my butt.

‘Luddite’ Teens Don’t Want Your Likes

From Alex Vadukul at the New York Times:1

For the first time, [Logan Lane, the 17-year-old founder of the Luddite Club,] experienced life in the city as a teenager without an iPhone. She borrowed novels from the library and read them alone in the park. She started admiring graffiti when she rode the subway, then fell in with some teens who taught her how to spray-paint in a freight train yard in Queens. And she began waking up without an alarm clock at 7 a.m., no longer falling asleep to the glow of her phone at midnight. Once, as she later wrote in a text titled the “Luddite Manifesto,” she fantasized about tossing her iPhone into the Gowanus Canal.

Some stories hit you at the right time in your life and bring your emerging (or well-cultivated, as the case may be) worldview into greater focus. You might, for instance, be sitting at your kitchen table waiting for your dinner to finish cooking and happen on an article about a bunch of Brooklyn teens who have eschewed the trappings of modern online society in favor of less technology and more tree-gazing.

Vee De La Cruz, who had a copy of “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois, said: “You post something on social media, you don’t get enough likes, then you don’t feel good about yourself. That shouldn’t have to happen to anyone. Being in this club reminds me we’re all living on a floating rock and that it’s all going to be OK.”

I’m not about to throw my iPhone out a window and replace it with a flip phone, nor do I think it’s particularly valuable to put too much stock into something like the preventably tragic story of Chris McCandless. That’s just me; these kids can take it as far as they please. But I do think that the broader lesson of spending more time with your eyes directed at the world or in a book is a powerful one.

Written in the article is a concern amongst the teenagers about this endeavor being seen as classist by their peers. I feel the concern is overblown and inspired by a misguided sense of what “classist” can mean. Is it not classist to require a phone, especially a smartphone, to be “included in society”? The derision these people are facing surely comes from a lack of understanding. It’s a shame that such a harmless thing would garner such ridicule, but I guess that comes with teenage territory. Again, they should do as they please.

I especially appreciate the closing of the article:

As they marched through the dark, the only light glowing on their faces was that of the moon.

  1. Which surely ham-fisted that haughty title onto the reporter’s article. ↩︎

Cat Clinging To Side Of Christmas Tree Admits That Was Extent Of Plan

“Okay, so I’ve jumped halfway up the trunk of the tree and dug my nails into the bark, but now what?” said the cat, who pondered whether pissing on the trunk or screeching at the top of his lungs would be the best next step forward.

Oh Butterscotch, you furry, gorgeous fool.

After all the global nonsense of the last… Well, let’s just say the last couple of decades, I’ve come to the realization that the only publication worth reading is The Onion. It truly is “America’s Finest News Source.”

Biden signs gay marriage bill at White House ceremony

From Chris Megerian at The Associated Press:

President Joe Biden signed gay marriage legislation into law Tuesday before a crowd of thousands, a ceremony that reflected growing acceptance of same-sex unions.

“This law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms,” Biden said on the South Lawn of the White House. “And that’s why this law matters to every single American.”

Often, the news I read isn’t very happy or life-affirming. This story is not one of those sad pieces. This is a “finally” that is well worth celebrating. With this law, we’re continuing to move in the correct direction.

Love wins, as it always will.

Apple advances user security with powerful new data protections

From Apple Newsroom:

Apple today introduced three advanced security features focused on protecting against threats to user data in the cloud, representing the next step in its ongoing effort to provide users with even stronger ways to protect their data. With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.

For a company that touts a claim of superior privacy protection over all of its competitors, not providing end-to-end encryption of all iCloud data capable of being encrypted1 was a glaring and shameful hole in its messaging. Their marketing said one thing and their actions another. As we should all know, words don’t mean anything when they’re not backed up with action.

While all three features are fantastic, the most notable is the Advanced Data Protection for iCloud. I’m going to turn this on2 as soon as I reasonably can. I feel confident in my safeguards against data loss, i.e., I’ve made sure to memorize my Apple account information and have that safely backed up elsewhere. If I sound anything like you, then I’d recommend doing the same.

Good on Apple for doing this.

  1. iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar are unable to be encrypted. These can’t be to ensure that they’ll work with other systems. ↩︎

  2. It does appear to be an opt-in service. ↩︎

I can’t tell if the movies I’ve been watching lately are genuinely too long for their stories or if I’ve just been getting grumpier as I age.

Letterboxd Diaries—November 2022

Total movies watched: 31.

Favorite movie of the month: After Yang.

Worst movie of the month: High-Rise.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥