January was a busy month. I started a great new job and my Philadelphia Eagles made the Super Bowl. I would be lying if I did not say that my favorite TV moment of the month came courtesy of NBC’s coverage of the Eagles-Falcons NFC playoff game. In the closing montage of the telecast, NBC waited for the crowd to belt out one last “E-A-G-L-E-S” before cutting away (cut to 7:35). It was a brilliant touch from their production crew.
There is also an overwhelming amount of great new music (Sunflower Bean, Curtis Roush, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats). I am also behind in my podcast and television queue, but here is some of what I was able to catch in January:
My Guest Needs No Introduction – What looked like a way for Letterman to pass the time during retirement may be an unexpected revelation. The first episode featured interviews with President Barack Obama and Congressman John Lewis. Instead of a straightforward interview format, the Netflix show alternated between the two guests and images of the Civil Rights Movement. The result was a powerful must-see television. Letterman’s next interview will feature actor George Clooney.
The Boys of ’36 – I finally caught up with this 2016 American Experience documentary. It tells the surreal story of the 1936 University of Washington crew team. The longshot team from the Pacific Northwest brought home gold medals during the Berlin Olympics. The hourlong documentary is augmented by stunning newsreel footage that made me feel like I was in the racing shell.
American History Tellers – The new podcast just completed a series on the Cold War. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (not the senator), the podcast took an immersive approach to presenting the Cold War. Graham creates one-off hypothetical characters to explain certain situations to his audience. Through these characters, he is able to relay how aspects of the Civil Rights Movement, the Great Society, and NASA relate to the Cold War. The six-episode series was also augmented by bonus interviews of historian Audra Wolfe and history podcaster Patrick Wyman.
Forkin’ Bullshirt – I love The Good Place and searched for a podcast that focuses on the show. Forkin’ Bullshirt is co-hosted by Jason and Vivienne of Multiverse Radio. Each episode features a comprehensive breakdown of the NBC sitcom. Most network sitcoms do not require an extensive look, but the moral philosophy and character development of The Good Place warrant such attention. Both Jason and Vivienne were kind enough to answer a few questions in a Flat Circle Interview this month: Forkin’ Bullshirt Interview.
Oscar Nominees – I crossed off two Best Picture Nominees in January: Lady Bird and Get Out. I enjoyed both movies and reacted to them in different ways. In each instance I was amazed that two rookie directors could helm such great movies.
I liked Lady Bird, but I have appreciated it more since leaving the movie theater. It is greater than the high school movie I initially thought it to be. The people surrounding Saorise Ronan’s character are just as interesting as the high school teenager. The stories of her family and friends were told in such a relatable and non-excessive way that I was stunned by the compact nature of the movie. Lady Bird may be a movie that grows on me after a few re-watches.
Get Out was a different experience. A comedy-horror film directed by Jordan Peeel, the movie hits you immediately. The social satire is undeniable. Watching Chris interact with the Armitage clan is more painful than the bloody horror scenes. Jordan Peele is a genius. Not only did he make a horror film funny and socially impactful, but he also gave the TSA their best-ever PR.
“Sunday,” Geowulf – You are missing out if you are not familiar with Geowulf. Their most high-profile piece to date is “Saltwater.” That charming song was used as a part of a Corona commercial. The indie band hails from Australia and is currently working out of the U.K. “Sunday” is one of many singles that Geowulf has released since 2016. Like much of Geowulf’s work, “Sunday” features a lush, overproduced sound. Their debut album Great Big Blue drops on February 18.
The War On Drugs – There are some bands you catch hold of early, but the fan experience devolves as they become more prominent. This has not been the case for The War On Drugs. I have been a fan of the group since hearing Slave Ambient in 2011. They have continued to produce great music ever since. Success and a major label deal have not changed their identity as a rock band. They continue to produce great music. I am thrilled that an indie band of their talent was recognized as Rock Album of the Year at the Grammys. The fact that a band from Philly won Rock Album of the Year is pretty cool too.
The War On Drugs “Strangest Thing” live from Amsterdam:
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