I guess the last year and change doesn’t mean anything to them. “The health of other people? What’s that?”
On the plus side, I think I found my new favorite Los Angeles Times writer. Richard Read reports:
The protesters appear to inhabit an alternate reality, one in which they claim that the coronavirus is no more dangerous than the flu and that public health directives based on science are dictatorial.
That’s some top-notch truth and shade this man is throwing.
I’d ask these people what they think of their fellow citizens’ right not to become infected by the callous actions of these dumb crusaders, but that sort of thing would mean they’d have to think of someone other than themselves.
Dr. Francisco Velázquez, Spokane Regional Health District interim health officer, in an interview for this article:
I don’t think the intent is to violate anyone’s rights, the intent is mainly to protect all of us. I do respect their opinion, but the facts are the facts.
The facts are the facts, but their opinion isn’t respectable. It’s harmful.
This video by Pogo, called Scrumdiddlyumptious, is a great way to start your day. Heck, it’s great at any time of the day. It’s been around for ages, but it’s still delightful. The music, editing, and imagination of it continue to astonish me.
Enjoy the sweetness! 🎵
Paramount+ is now a thing. Best that I can tell, except for swapping out a logo and adding some SpongeBob SquarePants stuff, it’s the exact same thing as CBS All Access.
It still doesn’t even have a watch list! Isn’t that kind of table stakes for a streaming service these days? 📺
Ruby’s been great company for me today, so I wanted to recognize how cute, fun, and delightful she is, even while sleeping. She’s got the stinkiest toots in all the land, but I won’t hold that against her. She’s been a wonderful part of my life for going on eleven years. 🐶
I took my dog to the vet today for a much-needed allergy shot and it turns out she’s about seven pounds lighter than the last time I was there to see her get weighed. She’s still healthy, and is in fact kicking my butt in the weight loss department. 🐶
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I believe is a tendency for men to feel compelled to give their opinion on a topic just because it’s there. How instead can I bring value to discourse? I worry that my pendulum is swinging too far in the opposite direction: complete silence.
I’m unable to draw like him, but it’s still always nice to hear an expert talk about what they love.
Last year, I tried my hand at the Theme System. It was conceived by CGP Grey of YouTube fame and Myke Hurley of Relay FM fame. I first heard about it while listening to their Cortex podcast. The goal is to throw off the high-pressure, low-results shackles of annual resolutions and instead embrace, as they say, “an idea of how we would like to approach each year or season.”
I think it can be a stellar system if it’s done the right way. In fact, it’s quite hard to do the wrong way, which is nice. Instead of deciding on a single make-or-break goal to complete before the end of the year, you give yourself a guiding principle, or theme, to live by throughout the year. There are no other objectives than to do right by yourself, however that means to you.
Want to live a year of less? Then feel good about cleaning out your closet, buying fewer things, or decreasing the amount of stress you have in your life.
Think a year of gratitude is more up your alley? Be mindful of the things you appreciate and the people in your life.
Or maybe it’s even something like a year of elevation. Raise the needy people around you, or heck, climb a few mountains.
Whatever the case may be, try to adhere to these suggestions:
I tried to live a Year of Growth in 2020. When I came up with the idea, I had my business in mind. I wanted to grow Dandy Cat, garner some attention, and start earning some money. In this way, I did not succeed at living a growth year. The business stagnated,1 and I didn’t grow its audience any larger than it already had been. That was a real disappointment.
It’s taken me a while to understand that a lack of growth in my business doesn’t mean I didn’t live a year of growth. That’s sort of the beautiful thing about the Theme System. It can be vague. Maybe not too vague—there should be some measurable success—but pretty vague. My then-fiancée/now-wife and I moved in together. I learned a lot about my country’s government.2 I started podcasting with a great friend of mine. If that’s not growth, then I don’t know what is.
Getting over the feeling that I didn’t live up to my hopes for the year is a hard thing to accomplish, though. I did a lot of great stuff, but I didn’t achieve what I was hoping for. Did I fail, though? Ultimately, no, I don’t think so—I did a lot of growing!
Maybe I can consider coming to that realization a moment of growth. Hey, extra theme points coming in out of nowhere. Score!
I’m planning on making this year a different story.
2021 is my Year of Understanding.
Last year was rough on just about everybody. I wish it could have been a lot better, but that just wasn’t in the cards for us. Instead, we’ve gotten a rampaging virus, shaky governments, and insane unemployment rates. We’ve all had to face many tough truths about the world and the people in it. It was a banner year for getting smacked in the face by the cold, indifferent hand of the universe.
2020 also gave us all the opportunity for self-reflection, and I hope you took the time to ask yourself some tough questions. Reflecting on the answers you give can allow you to learn more about yourself.
I tried to take advantage of that tumultuous year to ask myself a few questions. These have been on my mind because they’re the most important ones I need to answer at this point of my life. They’re also damn tough to crack, but I’m going to give them a go. I want to answer those questions because I want to gain a greater understanding of the world and my place in it.
To feel accomplished with my Year of Understanding, I’m going to tackle at least four topics:
There’s a lot I don’t understand about my life and the world. Usually, I’ll just feel upset that I don’t have any answers. I’ll also feel upset that I let my lack of understanding get to me. It’s a pretty unpleasant cycle.
Instead of just feeling frustrated about my ignorance, it’s important to do the harder work of learning about these issues. Gaining understanding without trying to earn it is a rare thing. It’s not worth counting on. Instead, understanding is something that needs to be built, maintained, and allowed to flower.
My Year of Understanding may end up being a difficult one. Asking yourself tough questions and giving yourself tough answers is a hard thing to do. Most of the time, we don’t ever want to broach these subjects. They’re painful. There’s a fair chance they’ll take the shine off the images we hold of ourselves.
But what good is living in this world, and surrounding yourself with other people, if you don’t try to be better than you were before?
I want to be a better person, and the first step I need to take is understanding myself more than I do now.
Onward: This one’s probably thought of as a “lesser” Pixar film, but I thought it was heartfelt and a lot of fun. They’re able to do that like no one else. (★★★★)
The Good Liar: A heist-drama for the older crowd (of which I count myself amongst). I could watch Helene Mirren and Ian McKellen play off each other all day. (★★★½)
Avengers: Endgame: This one is as thrilling, engaging, and affecting as it was the first time I saw it. This time I got to enjoy it with my wife, and even she enjoyed it nearly as much as I did. (★★★★★)
In & of Itself: I fell into the hype around this one and I’m glad I did. I had no idea what it was going to be going into it, and I think that’s the best way to watch this magical (in many ways) performance. (★★★★½)
A Hidden Life: This should really just be required viewing for everybody. I didn’t know the story of Franz Jägerstätter and his family before watching it, but my life has improved in great ways since. (★★★★★)
An American Pickle: I think I appreciate the technical accomplishment of this film more than I do the story. It was okay—not that funny, but not painful to watch. (★★★)
The Little Things: This might have been Jared Leto’s most appropriate role. Did he even have to act at all? (★★★)
WALL•E: I don’t think WALL•E will ever get old for me. It’s an evergreen film that never fails to move and delight me. (★★★★★)
What If: Or The F Word, I guess? Can’t make the MPAA blush, so I guess the original had to go. I wish I had seen this one when it came out. Mid-20s me would have loved it. (★★★½)
Heavy Metal: This film was certainly of its time and clearly made by a bunch of guys. It was more entertaining than I thought it would be, but I doubt I’ll be remembering it too fondly. (★★½)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: I can’t say enough great things about this, the best animated film of the last decade. It breathes fresh life into the character of Spider-Man, and shows that another adaptation doesn’t have to be tiresome or stale. (★★★★★)
The Girl with All the Gifts: I’d call this a halfway decent adaptation of a halfway decent novel, although the novel had a slightly better ending. The entire concept is fascinating and has echoes of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. (★★★½)
By the Sea: Aside from this one being far longer than it needed to be, I don’t understand why it was received so poorly. My best guess is that it felt like an old French film, appropriate considering its setting, and people just aren’t used to that anymore. (★★★★)
6 Underground: I had more fun watching this movie than I had any right to, and I place that honor squarely on Ryan Reynolds’s shoulders. Was the story and the editing great? Nah, but that’s what you should expect when you start a Michael Bay film. This was just a fun way to spend some time. (★★★½)
Loving Vincent: A relatively simple story makes way for a truly astonishing work of art. The entire dang thing is done in oil paintings. I was invested and wowed in this film the entire time I was watching it. (★★★★½)
Total movies watched this month: 15.
I really like Letterboxd, and I think you might enjoy it, too. You should sign up for it if you haven’t already. It’s a great and friendly, movie-based social site. If you’re new or old to it, you should definitely give me a follow on there. 🎥
We watched and talked about Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity in the latest episode of my podcast, More Movies Please! This was a good chat, and I was pleased to find out that the film still holds up since the first time I saw it.
Give this one a listen today! 🚀
I’ve just spent a good hour and a half cleaning up my website’s CSS (but I still have a long way to go with that endeavor). I also removed a sneaky bit of HTML font code in my site’s theme that was communicating with Google Analytics. Now it’s all tracker free!
Time for bed. 😴
In the latest B-movie bonus episode of More Movies Please!, we had a couple of very lovely guests on the show. It’s always great to have Johnny and Greg on.
This month, we watched and chatted about A Low Down Dirty Shame. It was… quite the experience.
I’ve been a fan of the podcast, Reply All, for a long time, having started listening to the show since nearly their first episode. The quality has always been excellent and many of their stories have stuck with me since listening to them.
But that appreciation was shaken a couple of years ago when Gimlet, the company that produces Reply All, responded to its staff’s unionization efforts by, essentially, giving them the middle finger. At the time, I didn’t stop listening to the show because I felt that the union would eventually be recognized. This feels like a mistake now, especially since they’re still fighting for recognition. I could and should have supported the Gimlet Union in ways other than continuing to subscribe to a Gimlet show. My presence in their podcast analytics would suggest that Gimlet’s actions are acceptable.
Then this episode popped up into my podcast feed this morning:
Given Gimlet’s actions, it wasn’t a surprise. Is it much of an apology? Eh, kind of. I appreciate that they’re taking time to evaluate themselves, but it also sounds like hosts/producers P.J. Vogt and Sruthi Pinnamaneni are just being allowed to lie low until the heat of this story wears off.
I wanted to investigate this further, so I followed the story, being led to a Twitter thread by former Gimlet employee, Eric Eddings. I encourage you to click through and read it all.
Last week I got an email from Sruthi about Reply All’s Test Kitchen series. I had been avoiding listening but once I did I felt gaslit. The truth is RA and specifically PJ and Sruthi contributed to a near identical toxic dynamic at Gimlet. This will be a longer thread, apologies.— Eric Eddings (@eeddings) February 16, 2021
This is a moving and frustrating story by someone who was ignored, passed over, and insulted by Gimlet and some members of its staff. It’s sad to know that Eric wasn’t the only one who had to deal with this institutional bullshit at Gimlet.
I’ve since unsubscribed to Reply All. It’s the most meager action I can take, but it is something. If playing a part in hitting them where it hurts—their subscriber numbers—is what I can do, then I’ll happily do it. There’s also this post, which I hope will encourage others to look into the wild power imbalance at Gimlet, understand how their people of color and pro-union employees are treated, and hold Gimlet and its founders, Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber, accountable for their abhorrent actions. Throw in Gimlet’s parent company, Spotify, as well. They certainly don’t appear to be doing anything to help the Gimlet Union. I also encourage you to follow the Gimlet Union on Twitter. They’re doing good work.
I enjoyed Reply All, but I can’t continue to support it when its success was built off the backs of the unrecognized and spurned. What I will continue doing is try to learn more about that of which I’m ignorant, such as I was about the toxic culture at Gimlet. And I’ll always appreciate help with that endeavor from people who know more than I do.
After using ConvertKit for way too long, I’ve switched over to Buttondown and I feel great about it. Is it perfect? Nope, but at least I can opt-out of including insidious tracking pixels in all of the emails I send out. ConvertKit all but told me they’ll never give that option.
This week, Steven and I watched Killing Them Softly, a pretty great Brad Pitt film that kind of flew under the radar when it was released. Enjoy the latest episode of More Movies Please! right here!
What’s the estimate on when Facebook, Twitter, and the like (those that tend now to follow the pack instead of paving the way) implement obviously Clubhouse-type features? What’s a good unit of measurement in this case? Three “Instagram Stories” from now?
A huge issue I was having with Ghost was its lack of easy footnoting. The developers haven’t been any help with this issue. Thanks to the plug-ins available on Micro.blog, I can have my footnotes back (and in nice Bigfoot form, too!). Thanks @manton et al. for this.
I’ve had several Apple TV boxes over the years. Even in the face of rising opposition from the likes of Roku, Amazon, and Google, not to mention nearly every smart television sold in the last few years, I’ve held firm on sticking with Apple’s overpriced offering. I appreciate the interface, the strong integration with Apple’s services, and I’m even okay with the much-derided remote.
These days, there are some massive blind spots that Apple has with this device. It’s lagging hard behind the rest of the competition, and that’s becoming a problem. It’s got me considering if a Roku would make my tv life easier, but I don’t really want to toss my hat into that ring.
I do love the Apple TV, but it’s good to be critical of the things you love.
Even for Apple, a base price of $179 for a device that hasn’t seen an appreciable update in years is verging on the unconscionable. I’m reminded of the trash can Mac Pro from 2013, which never lost its $3,000 starting price tag, even after several years and the definite news that a newer, better Mac Pro was on the horizon. The thing got older and it stayed the same price. It became an issue for Apple.
The Apple TV is powerful, though, even by today’s standards. Not only can it display 4K content in glorious Dolby Vision high dynamic range, it can also play some fairly demanding Apple Arcade games.
The thing is, most other streaming device or tv manufacturers provide a 4K Dolby Vision capable box. They’re also able to do it for, generally, at least half the price of the Apple TV. An equivalent product from Roku is only $99. From Amazon, it’s $119 for their cube or $49.99 for their stick. Heck, you can even get something with a suspiciously Apple TV-like interface from Google for $49.99.
Apple isn’t providing a novel product anymore. At this point, what it has to offer is a nice integration with its other services, and that’s not worth a premium.
Arcade feels half-baked on the TV. By trying to appeal to the broadest set of customers on the widest range of devices, they’re hindering their ability to make the Apple TV a seductive gaming device. When your competition is Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, coming in with a service that distinguishes itself from the rest of its games by, mostly, having no ads1 means that you’re falling short of the competition.
Apple may never pull serious gamers away from their PlayStations, Xboxes, or Switches if they refuse to go all in on their gaming efforts. This means creating blockbuster games that people feel a need to play and including a real controller in the box. Sure, you can connect one from a PlayStation or Xbox if you want to a better experience. However, the Venn diagram of people who own both a dedicated gaming controller and an Apple TV probably isn’t as close to a circle as Apple might hope. Instead, by including just an Apple TV remote in the box, their suggestion is to use that as a controller. That’s not a terrible experience.
I’ve got a PlayStation, so I do all of my gaming on that device. It’s more enjoyable. I use my Apple TV exclusively for streaming. I don’t want to game on it; I’ll hop onto my iPad if I want to play something from Arcade.
As it stands, I paid for potential that’s not being delivered. $179 was spent on this thing, and I’m using maybe only $79 worth of this device. I’d put the remaining hundred on the bet that I’m not the only one who doesn’t care about gaming on Apple TV.
What I want is a different Apple TV, or rather, a few different Apple TVs. Not just storage options. Two, maybe three, different devices:
The stick would be a wonderful option for people who don’t want the sort of audio quality a soundbar can provide. Maybe they’re living in a smaller apartment or dorm room. They want to watch their content, but space is at a premium. A stick that can plug directly into the back of the tv, provide 4K video, and come in under, say, $60 would be an amazing product.
I currently have an Apple TV outputting its audio to a paired set of HomePods. It’s a wonderful setup, with remarkably few issues. I happily enjoy my movies and tv shows on this every day.
However, it’s clear that Apple’s intention wasn’t to have people pair their Apple TV with a HomePod. It was introduced as a phenomenal (and very pricey) speaker with which to play your music. Audio can also be streamed from the Apple TV and played on the HomePod. Heck, even Dolby Atmos audio can be played through them. It’s a feature that seems hacked together when Apple finally realized that people were using them as television speakers.
I would love to see what Apple can produce when they create an Apple TV+HomePod experience with greater intention. A soundbar offering could be that device. This could become an essential piece of living room equipment, as necessary as the television itself. When smart TVs are becoming more capable of playing high-quality content by the day, you need that sort of selling point to stay ahead of the competition.
I’d also like to see it stay under $400. Not a bad price when companies like Sonos sell a basic soundbar for $399. That one doesn’t even have Apple TV or Siri integration.
The Apple TV has never really taken off because it’s an expensive product aimed at the wrong people. When there are Roku devices that start at $30, pricing it at $179 is a nonstarter for most. They don’t particularly care what the Apple TV offers. They just want to watch The Office and save a few bucks. They’re already paying a bundle each month on streaming services. This is where the stick would shine.
On the other hand, many people would love to have a home theater experience that can come close to replicating a theater. An Apple TV soundbar would get us closer to that dream, and we’d be willing to pay for it. I would love a single device that can act as an Apple TV, HomePod quality surround sound speaker, HomeKit hub, and maybe even another Siri communicator.
A better lineup would go a long way toward making Apple a contender in the streaming device game again. As it stands now, they’re letting competitors lap them by seemingly ignoring their device, and I don’t know what the intention is there. Do they actually think it’s good enough or are they letting it die a slow death? If they’re looking at phasing out the Apple TV because it’s not selling as well as other players in this market, maybe not selling well isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s because the Apple TV isn’t good enough anymore.
I’m currently reading a book that makes a reference to the mass malathion sprayings that took place in California (and other places) during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Tons of pesticide was dropped all over California in an effort to combat a Mediterranean fruit fly infestation. I was in elementary school at the time and I recall my school’s playground had to be covered in plastic sheeting to keep the play surfaces safe.
The whole thing is, in itself, a fascinating story that may have had eco-terrorist ties. Furthermore, the spraying didn’t actually stop the flies; sterilized flies were introduced into the area to help control the population.
It was a remarkable thing. It makes me wonder how well something like that would go over today. I recall it just being an accepted fact of life that pesticide would be dropped all over for a short while.
Now, though? I can just imagine the furor and outrage that would spark up over it. Oh, Facebook and the conspiracy theorists would have such a loud field day over it all!
Going out for a nice, long stroll with my wife was just the thing I needed. This last week felt like a long one. It wasn’t a week where everything was piling on; it just felt never-ending. Fresh air and sunshine are magic. ☀️
On More Movies Please!, we followed up last week’s episode of Blade Runner with its sequel Blade Runner 2049. I love them both equally. I’m especially impressed with how 2049 was able to advance the story and stay so true to the original. It’s truly exceptional.
I just spent the last couple hours restoring my M1 Mac Mini because of a consistent kernel panic issue. I think it may have solved the issue and brought back my great computer. At least, I hope so because that was a lot of work.
I’m working on the show notes for an upcoming episode of More Movies Please! We talked about Terrence Malick’s, A Hidden Life. It’s been a couple weeks since I watched the film, but I still can’t get it out of my mind. Once again, Malick made a beautiful, important film. 🎥
I’ve been using a quip toothbrush for nearly four years. After getting fed up with the company, I switched to a Sonicare. Wow, the vibrations on that thing are crazy. My teeth had no idea what they were in for. Glistening teeth, here I come!
I’ve got my fingers crossed that getting my car’s battery replaced doesn’t turn into anything bigger and more expensive. There’s always that potential, but hey, maybe this could be one of those fabled cheap visits to the mechanic. 🤞