Dandy Cat

How long will it take for cereal boxes to shrink in size so much that we’re stuck paying normal box size prices for individually wrapped flakes and O’s?

A Quick Castro Update

On June 14, I wrote an entry that discussed several issues with my preferred podcast player app. It seems so long ago now; so many things have changed. We’ve all grown a little older and, I hope, a little wiser. To the second point, I’ve decided to cease an activity that’s proving itself to be a waste of my time.

I don’t want to bury the lede any further: I’ve stopped using Castro entirely and have returned to Overcast.

I’ve also canceled my long-held subscription with Castro because I no longer feel that my money is being used to support the development of this app. Instead, it appears that my money is being taken from me with nothing given in return.

Since writing the initial entry, I’ve followed up every subsequent month with a short update on Twitter. Normally, I wouldn’t care to use that place for anything, but it’s historically been where Castro’s developers have been most available. I figured that a mention there could make its way to their eyes. So far, I’ve been proven 100% wrong.

Not only has there been no communication with me, but there’s been no communication from them with anybody. By all appearances, the Castro podcast app has been abandoned. There’s been no official announcement about this, so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, but the app hasn’t been updated in over half a year. Additionally, it’s been nearly two years since there was any mention of their iPad app and sync service. What else should I conclude from this behavior?

I acknowledged in my original entry that software development is an inherently time-consuming and difficult process. I would never demand that any developer finish large projects in an unreasonable amount of time; we all have personal lives to live. What irks me is the complete lack of communication from a company that provides a product to the public. Castro’s developers used to update and communicate regularly, and now they do not. I don’t find that acceptable when other people’s money is involved.

I’m saying goodbye to Castro and hello again to Overcast. Its developer, Marco Arment, has not only proven himself to be capable of regular app updates, but more importantly, he’s open to communication in several different places. I feel confident that if anything were to ever happen to Overcast, then he would tell everybody.

I see more commitment to and progress made on Overcast than I’ve seen on Castro in a long time. More importantly, I don’t feel like my subscription to his app is being taken advantage of.

This is a damn shame. Not because I don’t like Overcast—I do—but because I really liked what Castro did for listening to podcasts. The episode triage system worked especially well with my listening behavior and it was a well-made app. Unfortunately, it’s become riddled with bugs, the developers have fallen off the planet, and it’s completely missed the boat with the recent iOS 16 launch. Even if they came out with an update tomorrow and renewed their interest in communicating online, I wouldn’t use Castro again. What assurance would I have that they wouldn’t fall back into their bad behaviors sometime in the future?

There comes a time when a person should stop foolish endeavors and accept what’s already there for them. Expecting an untrustworthy company to completely change forever is like expecting chocolate chip cookies to not be delicious. It’s just not going to happen.1

I expect to be done with these entries forever unless a Castro update magically appears, and even then, don’t bet on it. In the meantime, I’ll be busy listening to podcasts on Overcast.

  1. I mean, look at these things! My mouth is watering already. ↩︎

Roger Federer to retire after Laver Cup in September

From BBC Sport:

Roger Federer, one of the greatest players of all time, will retire from top-level tennis after the Laver Cup in London this month.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not played since Wimbledon 2021, after which he had a third knee operation.

“My body’s message to me lately has been clear,” Swiss Federer, 41, said.

“I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.”

I’m generally not a fan of sports, but for reasons I can’t figure out, I love watching tennis. I think the blame for this appreciation can rest entirely on the shoulders of one Swiss person: Roger Federer.1

Watching him play in Wimbledon over a decade ago was a defining moment for me. It felt like I was watching someone excel at something in a way that no other person was, and that’s because he was doing exactly that. It’s something special to witness true mastery at play.

But now he’s forty-one years old; it’s no surprise that he’s going to retire. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t do it sooner, but I’m glad I got to see my fair share of his matches. Along with Serena’s recent retirement, I expect that we’re going to see many of “the greats” stepping away from competition in the next few years. So it goes.

Knowing that there are so many up-and-coming stars to watch takes the sting off this announcement. The next generation of superb tennis athletes is beginning to pick up steam; it’s going to be exciting to watch as they come into their own. There’s something just as moving about that prospect as was watching Federer become one of the best ever.

  1. Rafael Nadal then went and cemented that love for me. ↩︎

Jean-Luc Godard, Enfant Terrible of Modern French Cinema, Dies at 91

I’ve been trying to make this website a generally more upbeat and happier place these days to combat the cesspool of several other internet destinations, i.e., social media sites, but I feel this deserves a mention.

By Jordan Mintzer:

Jean-Luc Godard, the brilliant and polemical Franco-Swiss filmmaker whose work revolutionized cinema, has died. He was 91.

Godard resorted to assisted suicide Tuesday in Switzerland, a family spokesperson told Agence France-Presse.

“Jean-Luc Godard died peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones,” his wife, filmmaker Anne-Marie Mieville, and producers said in a statement. He will be cremated and there will be no official ceremony, they said.

I saw his revolutionary and still exciting film, Breathless,1 when I was in my 20s—a great age for a film lover to experience it. I was awestruck by the brash confidence and who-gives-a-damn attitude with which it was made. Decades after it was released, I still found myself thinking, Wait, you can do that in a movie?

And he made it when he was only 29! By that age, I’d finished film school but could only dream of being that good.

I’ve yet to see enough of his other work, but I’ll be rectifying that soon.

As sad as this news is, it did inspire this amazing Onion headline: “Jean-Luc Godard Dies At End Of Life In Uncharacteristically Linear Narrative Choice”.

  1. Or À bout de souffle, as it was originally titled. ↩︎

Having to delete and redownload my apps to get their Lock Screen widgets to become available is not a great first experience with iOS 16.

It’s all working well now, but that was a confusing and a little frustrating.

According to many news sources, Hurricane Kay was a real deal weather event. Even in my area of the state, we were told to prepare for flooding and extreme winds.

While it was a considerable problem south of here, particularly in the Baja Peninsula, the forecasted inches of rain turned out to be little more than a warm sprinkle.

I’m grateful that it wasn’t so bad where I live, but after the godawful heat wave we had I would have appreciated more than a misting of water.

Writing this at around 4:42 in the morning makes me miss the days of midnight iPhone preordering with a great and drowsy passion. I’m glad that the rest of the world gets to enjoy a more reasonable order time, but 5:00 am in the pacific time zone isn’t that.

One of the greatest aspects about being enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program is being able to get pre-approved for a new phone and have the checkout experience greatly expedited every year.

It makes the whole fraught process much easier and more enjoyable. Also, I’m super psyched about the new phone!

Second COVID booster finally received!

If it’s anything like the others, I’m expecting to feel pretty damn sickly tomorrow. Worth it!

I got harassed for wearing a mask for the first time today by exactly the sort of science-denying, flag-based-propaganda-on-a-shirt-wearing jerk that you may be picturing in your head.

“You can take that thing off. It’s over!” he said as if I had asked for his opinion.

There’s currently an active Flex Alert in California, meaning that all are encouraged to reduce their energy use from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. They recommend setting your thermostat to 78º F,1 saying, “Increasing your air conditioner 7 to 10 degrees 8 hours a day can save up to 10 percent on cooling costs.”

My question is, Who the hell has their thermostat set between 68º–71º all day? Do people like to live in igloos? How are they able to afford to keep their air conditioners on 24/7, as they must surely do to achieve those frosty temps? Do they just like the idea of needing to wear a sweater when it’s over 100º outside?

I’ve continued to have my thermostat stuck at 78º and frequently kick it up to 80º when I can, and I live in an especially hot area of Southern California. It doesn’t go below that. I guess these air conditioner hogs are the reason why there’s a Flex Alert going in the first place!

  1. About 26º C. ↩︎

Letterboxd Diaries—August 2022

Total movies watched: 26.

Favorite movie of the month: Station Eleven. It’s not a movie, but so what? It was the best thing I watched all month.

Worst movie of the month: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

I hope that whatever mosquito is currently living in my home is enjoying the endless feast that is my feet and legs. I’ve hardly seen so many red, itchy spots!

‘Harley Quinn’ Renewed for Season 4 at HBO Max

If you heard an enormous sigh of relief coming from somewhere in the general vicinity of Southern California today, that would be me when I saw the headline of this article.

I wrote in a footnote in this post that I was concerned that HBO Max, which is currently suffering from some kind of burn-it-all-to-the-ground madness, would kill the hilarious and subversive animated show Harley Quinn. For my money, it’s one of the best Batman-related things ever made. The shake-up happening in the DC area of HBO has been concerning from the start. The thinking there seems to be “screw righting the ship; just sink the damn thing and build a new one!” Had Harley Quinn been canceled it would have been a huge stain on the burgeoning reputation of Warner Bros. Discovery.

And this is all in the name of juicing up their stock prices. Since the chaos started, new CEO David Zaslav has been puffing out his chest and shouting, “Look how good at business I am!” This behavior has been appalling to see play out in real-time.

Well, fear no more for Harley Quinn (at least until it comes time to decide on renewing for a fifth season):

Harlivy shippers rejoice — everybody’s favorite supervillain couple is coming back to fight another day. “Harley Quinn” has been renewed for Season 4 at HBO Max.

In addition to the renewal, the streamer also announced that Sarah Peters, who has written for the show since Season 1 and serves as a consulting producer, has been promoted to executive producer and will take over duties as showrunner from creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker.

Good news all around for a show that deserves every accolade it receives. It’ll be a while before anybody knows whether the new ten year plan for DC will pay off, creatively and financially, but at least they’re not ruining every worthwhile property they currently have. Keep your fingers crossed that I haven’t spoken too soon.

I was surprised in the best way to read that there’s also a spinoff show in the works, and it looks delightful:

In addition to the main show, the “Harley Quinn” team is currently in development on a spinoff series titled “Noonan’s,” which follows Poison Ivy’s ex Kite Man (Matt Oberg) as he acquires the titular dive bar frequented by various Gotham City villains. Halpern and Schumacker told Variety that the series will also feature the voice of Cathy Ang, who guested in Season 3 of “Harley Quinn,” as Kite Man’s new girlfriend Golden Glider. The series also plans to feature the voice of James Adomian as recurring villain Bane.

Sold. I’m there on day one.

If I were to ascend to the Iron Throne, my first act as king and great ruler of Westeros would be to file down the sharp points and edges of that damned uncomfortable looking thing.

Who wants to cut their butt open anytime they take a seat?

Neil Gaiman Says He Sabotaged Jon Peters’ ‘Sandman’ Movie by Leaking ‘Really Stupid’ Script

I’ve been enjoying The Sandman (save for one specific moment in the show). It’s been a delight to see this grand story finally take shape.

I’m also delighted to see how forceful and occasionally sneaky Neil Gaiman has been in trying to protect the work for which he’s perhaps best known. I’m sure producers have been sniffing around those graphic novels for a long time. At any moment in the past, we could have had a Sandman movie or show that was despicable.

Gaiman declined several movie offers for “The Sandman” throughout the last three decades, but the author recently revealed that he went as far as to sabotage an idea from “Wild Wild West” and “A Star Is Born” producer Jon Peters by leaking the script to the press.

“It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody,” Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

What a delightfully duplicitous thing to do. I would expect no less from him.

I can’t complain when Spectrum increases my internet download speed by 100 Mbps for free, but man, they’ll do anything to avoid installing gigabit fiber in my area.

Texas School District Removes Bible and Anne Frank Adaptation in Back-to-School Sweep

From Amanda Holpuch:

One day before students returned to classrooms in North Texas, a school district ordered principals and librarians to remove books including the Bible and a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” from libraries and classrooms.

Forty-one books were challenged by this backward school district last year with a new policy requiring that they be pulled from bookshelves until they can be reviewed. More than thirty-five thousand students may now have free access to important books taken from them.

Additional books challenged by the district include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe.

These challenges are becoming more frequent, but no less disturbing and sad. Another public banning happened earlier this year, when Maus and others were removed from the shelves of a Tennessee school district. I wrote about it then in a post called The ban of Maus and other essential books. I shudder to think of the momentum that these misguided bans are building.

A notable quote from a speaker during a school board meeting on August 8, included in a CNN article on this story:

“We are very pleased that our new unwoke school board has made these changes. This is just the beginning, I hope.”

For too many people, being “woke” is the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. It’s the boogeyman. A living death. Unwokeness is a quality to strive for and wear like a badge of honor. In other words, compassion, equality, and fact-based learning should be rejected at all costs. Hatred, racism, misogyny, and bigotry are the only admirable qualities (but nobody who bans books would ever put it that truthfully).

How pathetic. Ignorance should be rejected at all costs instead.

Please consider purchasing, reading, and freely sharing these banned books with everyone you know. Especially younger people. They need to read the words that are kept from them. They’re all smarter than they’re given credit for; they can decide for themselves who they want to be and what they want to believe.

As an aside, I feel lucky to have attended school in Southern California when I did. Book bans have long been a blight on this country, but they weren’t so frequent and blatantly hateful when I was younger. I continue to hope that these bans don’t become more prevalent in my area of the state.

I also find it delightful that the Bible was flagged as an inappropriate book. It makes me think of The Satanic Temple and their continued fight against all things religiously hypocritical. Was the inclusion of the Bible their doing?

I woke up to a rude and unwanted surprise this morning which made me immediately think of a previous post where I was dealing with the exact same rude and unwanted surprise. I’d like a year (or lifetime) of no terrible surprises, please.

It’s always a good day when you can wake up early in the morning, have blood drawn, and not pass out in front of a group of concerned phlebotomists.

I’ve only done that once (clammy skin, woozy brain, head banging on the edge of the table), but that’s enough for one lifetime.

Getting a bag of actually salty Skinny Pop popcorn is like winning the lottery: There’s a one in three hundred million shot it’ll happen and it’s remarkably surprising when it does.

It made me sad to see what happened to Gregory the gargoyle in the second episode of The Sandman. A very sweet, loving, and playful as a puppy creature sacrifices its own life, much to the great sorrow of its caretakers, Cain and Abel, to provide Dream with some power to find his stolen tools, i.e., his punch of sand, his helmet, and his ruby.

I have yet to finish the graphic novels, but as far as I can tell, Gregory doesn’t ever die in the original books. He’s allowed to continue living with Cain and Abel, along with a new gargoyle named Goldie (but actually secretly Irving). Perhaps he might in a later issue, but there’s nothing to suggest this.1

Seeing this tragic scene play out in the show was distressing. Not enough for me to stop watching it, mind you; give me as much Neil Gaiman as you can, please. But in the short time Gregory is on-screen, he became a quick favorite. He’s just so dang lovable! It’s clear he brought much joy to those around him.

His sacrifice is graceful and noble, but it didn’t need to happen. That moment would still have worked had Dream taken back any other thing he gave to Cain and Abel, as happens in the book. Instead, the show knowingly hurt both its characters and, I’m betting, large swaths of its audience. It was an effective manipulation. Moments before the terrible death, Gregory was seen joyfully bouncing about and playing with a ball in front of a large, handmade gargoyle house. The show’s creators wanted the audience to see dog-like qualities. What are dogs if not playful, loyal, and easily loved? Who wouldn’t despair seeing something dog-like disappear forever?

Since watching that episode, this sad moment has stuck with me. The cruelty felt immense and unnecessary, made real only to hurt.

I’ll admit that this whole thing is silly at its core: Gregory, or any living gargoyle, is not real. I’m being deeply affected by a made-up creature in a made-up television show. Gregory can never die if he never actually existed. But I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I can’t forget or ignore this sort of pain so easily, no matter how fabricated it might be. This sort of cruelty is not something I want to witness because I know how I respond to it.

I should have checked in on the valuable site Does the Dog Die before watching this show. I was foolish not to; this heartache could have been prevented. I also encourage anybody who may feel like I do about this subject matter to also regularly visit the site. They’re doing good and helpful work.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying The Sandman (it has truly been excellent), but I’m sure I’ll be on edge from now on.

  1. If you know more than I do currently, then perhaps he is gone and I’m looking like quite the fool. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. ↩︎

HBO Max, Discovery+ to Merge Into Single Streaming Platform Starting in Summer 2023

Looks like my fears about HBO Max becoming more like Discovery+ were completely warranted. Since the merger was approved earlier this year, it was always going to end up this way. But it’s one thing to talk about it and another thing to see it happening.

Further evidence from Variety that things are going to get weird: ‘Fixer Upper’ and Other Magnolia Network Shows Coming to HBO Max in September. There’s a fair chance that we’ll soon have to scroll on past enormous banner images of such illustrious shows as 90 Day Fiancé, Alaskan Killer Bigfoot, I Love a Mama’s Boy, World’s Most Evil Killers, and My Five Wives to get to The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.

I enjoy stuff like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives as much as the next person, but I don’t think it should share space with The Wire. Conversely, I’d bet that people who love what’s currently on offer at Discovery+ don’t want to see the sort of stuff that’s on HBO Max mixed together.

More concerning is the recent spate of original programming that’s recently been canceled or removed from HBO Max. These include:

And they’ve also announced that kids’ content will be cut, which is a damn shame. For anyone of a certain age, i.e., my age, the WB cartoon shows from the ‘90s were revolutionary.

I’m sure I’m missing some, but that’s already a hefty list. With the way things have been going lately, I’m sure it’ll grow longer.1

A little over a year ago, I said that AT&T (the former owner of Warner Bros.) CEO, John Stankey, was one of the worst things to happen to the studio and HBO. It turns out that I was too early in that assessment: Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is hard at work destroying what made HBO the powerhouse source of original storytelling it used to be. If former HBO CEO Richard Plepler was dead, he’d be rolling in his grave. Right now, he’s probably just shaking his head in frustration.

I’m hoping that my concerns will end up being unfounded. Perhaps some good can come out of this messiness. Deadline did also report that Zaslav said about HBO and HBO Max:

We’re going to spend dramatically more this year and next year than we spent last year [and] the year before.

Who knows what that’ll actually mean in the long term. I hope it won’t include abandoning all scripted television, as Screen Rant reports. However, given the figurative bloodbath that’s been occurring, I’m not going to hold my breath.

If you’re looking for a new place to enjoy excellent storytelling, I continue to heartily recommend just about everything on Apple TV+. Give Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Severance, and See a try. They’re clearly building a brand focused on longevity and, most importantly, quality. It reminds me of what the old HBO used to be.

  1. My greatest concern now is that the wonderful Harley Quinn will be among the next to go. ↩︎

Letterboxd Diaries—July 2022

Total movies watched: 26.

Favorite movie of the month: Klaus.

Worst movie of the month: Miami Vice.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

Going out to Los Angeles may not be my favorite activity, but it’s nice when the trip is for a family birthday celebration.

And when the place we’re eating at is next to a fancy ice cream shop. 🍦🤤