Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

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The Vincent Price Collection box set from Shout Factory

It wouldn’t feel like Halloween without watching a Vincent Price film. Shout Factory just released a great Blu-ray box set honoring the gentleman of horror cinema, which I’ll be watching all week. Pit and the PendulumThe Masque of the Red DeathThe Haunted PalaceThe Fall of the House of UsherThe Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Witchfinder General are all included — most of which were created during the impressive Corman-Poe cycle in the 1960s. Price’s relationship with King of the B’s Roger Corman resulted in several gothic chillers based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe — atmospheric, opulent, visually fascinating films that were more sophisticated than their low-budget origins suggested. In Dr. Phibes, Price unleashed one of his most memorable characters — a disfigured doctor who lost the ability to talk and required a machine to communicate. Price’s sonorous voice also happened to be his most iconic trait, but the actor excelled in the role, using facials expressions and his physical prowess to capture the character’s menace. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

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Pok Pok: Food and Stories From the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker with J.J. Goode

When a few copies of Pok Pok chef/owner Andy Ricker’s cookbook arrived in the Flavorwire office earlier this month, a Portlandia-worthy frenzy ensued. Two trips to the Thai grocery store and two undeniably time-consuming yet also entirely satisfying Sunday afternoons of cooking later, and I’m happy to report that our enthusiasm wasn’t at all misplaced. As much an account of Ricker’s travels in the kitchens and markets of Thailand as it is a guide to preparing some of the country’s tastiest cuisine, Pok Pok doesn’t pretend that cooking Thai food at home isn’t a serious commitment. But the stories Ricker tells, the results of my experiments with the book’s recipes, and Austin Bush’s gorgeous photos all managed to convince me that it’s worth the effort — which is no mean feat, because I’m pretty lazy. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Fun Home at The Public

I am a big fan of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, so when I heard Fun Home was being turned into a musical, I was on board immediately. Starring Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn, the stage production follows closely Bechdel’s layered story about her family, secrets and her coming to terms with her own sexuality as well as her relationship with her closeted homosexual father. It sounds dark, and it does have its less-than-cheery moments, but Sam Gold’s production of the musical (with lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori) has as much light-hearted moments as the next musical spectacle. Shining most brightly is Sydney Lucas who plays the youngest iteration of Alison Bechdel, whose age and slight frame hardly keep her from captivating the audience or winning a well-deserved ovation. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

Homestar Runner Halloween Cartoons

I’ve been on a bit of a Homestar Runner kick ever since I read Todd VanDerWerff’s excellent appreciation of the webseries for The A.V. Club. VanDerWerff mentions the recurring Halloween cartoons as one of the website’s best features, and they’re a great display of creators The Brothers Chaps’ immense cultural savvy. The characters’ costumes alone cover several decades and mediums worth of pop culture, from sports, books, forgotten sitcom jokes, and even music video characters. I thought I’d come to understand some of the deeper cuts years after I originally watched these, but so many references still fly over my head. It helps that the show is also really funny, and two of the episodes are choose-your-own-adventure games! Celebrating Halloween with Homestar Runner is well worth your time, whether or not you’ve seen the holiday specials already. — Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I’ve been enjoying Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, which won the Booker a couple of weeks ago. It’s a challenging read, insofar as the language is archaic, but it’s stunningly done. — Michelle Dean, Editor-at-Large

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

This week I started reading David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years. I’m only a few pages in, but thus far I’ve found it a fascinating examination of how the concept of debt has shaped societies past and present. Graeber writes engagingly and perceptively — and, of course, the topic is particularly timely in the ongoing wake of the global financial crisis. — Tom Hawking, Music Editor

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Buttons: From Champaign to Chicago 

In my ongoing attempt to drain my bank account, I’ve been buying more releases by the greatest repress label in the business, Numero Group. The latest 20-plus dollars handed over to the folks at Other Music got me the power pop compilation, Buttons: From Champagne to Chicago, which is a nice change from the label’s untouchable soul compilations. — Jason Diamond, Literary Editor