This month’s compilation ranges from the absurd to the poignant. From “Left Shark” to a fascinating exploration of the brain to our must-see Oscar pick, here are Leff’s January recommendations.
With Sunday’s Super Bowl looming—and a bad case of New England Patriots fatigue sweeping the nation—there’s no better time to revisit the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show, which brought us “Left Shark.” Oh, Left Shark. Almost everyone watching wanted to know what was up with Left Shark. Stage fright? Too many pre-show drinks? Just the perils of being in a giant shark costume? In this short article and recording from NPR, Left Shark speaks. Let’s just hope that 2018’s halftime show brings us something as entertaining.
It will surprise no one that one of my favorite things I read recently was an article in National Geographic Magazine. In January’s issue that was primarily about why birds matter and how we can go about protecting them, the magazine took a break to examine what goes on in the brains of extreme altruists—those who are compelled to do good and help others, especially in crisis—and psychopaths, such as those guilty of history’s most harrowing and despicable acts, including the Las Vegas and Sandy Hook shootings. Recent research points to the presence or lack of empathy as a key driver of these people’s behaviors. Researchers also found that abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that restrains impulsive behavior, could predispose a person to violence. Read the whole article for more on how the brain works, as well as uplifting stories of people who stepped up in someone’s time of need.
This article is an up-close and personal narrative of what the changing economy and jobs market means for a big subset of the population. The relocation of companies to international cities and the increase of automation was something I intellectually knew, but didn’t grasp the human side of it until I read this piece.
I don’t get out to the movies often for a couple of reasons: if I have a spare two hours, other options typically win out; and I read all the reviews beforehand and then feel like I don’t need to go to the movies. With Oscar season upon us, I felt pressure to educate myself on the contenders, starting with Three Billboards. Although Frances McDormand has deservedly gotten most of the press for her performance (writer/director Martin McDonagh created the part expressly for her), the rest of the cast shines as well. Sam Rockwell has already taken home a few awards this season, Woody Harrelson brings a ton of personality to his role as the small-town police chief, and Clarke Peters (you’ll recognize him from The Wire and Treme) pops up in the third reel for some tasty scene-stealing. Three Billboards is an insightful meditation of how we grieve and what’s next once we realize the pain will never really go away.
What captured your attention during this first month of 2018? Let us know in the comments.