10 December Thoughts: New Job, Aladdin 2.0, My Favorite Christmas Movies

It has been an uncharacteristic three weeks since my last blog post. December 2018 has been a month of distractions, both welcome and unwelcome. To make up for lost time, here are 10 thoughts on the month of December:

1)     The good reason that the Flat Circle was set aside in December is that I started a new job. I took a break for a week to acclimate to my new surroundings. The bad reason was a car accident that rerouted some short and long term life plans.

The former is the welcome news. I am thrilled to be at my new company. The latter is a reminder of how things can change in instant. 2018 has been a mixed year. I am looking forward to putting it behind me and starting fresh in 2019.

2)     At some point next year, the Flat Circle will be re-branded as a site more closely aligned with my long terms goals as a freelance writer. This will also involve a change in the frequency that I post. Every month will include a post in the Smart TV series, plus a rotation of film and music-related content.

3)     2018 has been dominated by films with remarkable acting, but very few complete stories. Movies like A Star Is Born, The Mule, and Creed II are good films that lacked a quality finishing touch. My movie rankings are forthcoming, but A Star Is Born looks like the favorite for Best Picture.

A Star Is Born Trailer

4)     One such movie is Green Book. The film probably could have won Best Picture in 1998, but is a mere Oscar tease in 2018. The movie features amazing performances from Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali, but the story lacks the sophistication that a film incorporating social issues needs in 2018. Green Book is a perfectly fine movie, but lacks a challenging new story that audiences have come to appreciate.

5)     Your Smith has a solid EP out with a great pop sensibility. The release’s highlight is “Your Spot,” a song that brings to mind a little Sheryl Crow. The catchy day drinking song is one of four songs on the EP that is strong enough to make build an album around. The band, which grew out of Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps, is an indie band to watch in 2019.

6)     The Nude Party are another indie band with a breakout release in 2018. Their self-titled debut has a great Classic Rock feel that touches on the Rolling Stones. I have not been this interested in a first album with an overt Classic Rock sensibility since the Allah-las debuted in 2012. With songs like the rollicking “Feels Alright” and surf-y “Wild Coyote,” The Nude Party are another band to look out for in the future.

7)     The new lineup for Fleetwood Mac is it bit of a conundrum. Mike Campbell and Neil Finn sound great as a tandem Lindsey Buckingham. Watching clips of the new lineup on their current tour reveals a band with a less-dynamic live chemistry. Despite Fleetwood Mac’s infighting, it is hard to replace decades of playing together as a band. Is it worth shelling out $69-plus for a band that sounds like Fleetwood Mac, but is a quasi-cover band?

8)     One glimpse at the initial Aladdin images only prompts the question, “Why?” I am sure that the onslaught of Disney live-action remakes will make money. I do not know where the audience is for these films. Who wants to see a shot-for-shot remake of The Lion King? A Cruella Deville origin story? The lack of originality in a studio system that was once the center of creativity is scary. 

9)     The War on Drugs closed out 2018 with a fantastic concert at the Tower Theater. The event was part of a three-day swing that also saw the band play intimate shows at Johnny Brenda’s and Union Transfer. I love the idea of having a high-profile local band closing out the year with a unique concert series. It does not have to be just The War on Drugs, but ideas like this promote Philadelphia as a place that successful indie bands can call home even after they find some success.

The War on Drugs at the Tower Theater
The War on Drugs at the Tower Theater

10)    My Five Favorite Christmas movies: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, and Die Hard. No Christmas season is complete without checking each of these movies off the list, not matter how many dozens of times I have seen them.


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