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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Chumped

Full Disclosure: I know Chumped, so I’m probably biased here, but I’ve also been to enough high school basement shows to know that being friends with someone rarely equates to liking their music. I would whole-heartedly recommend Chumped to anyone who’s a fan of pop-punk. Their debut EP — six quick songs with lyrics that will creep up and slay you — was catchy enough but it’s their newest song, “Hot 97 Summer Jam” that I’ll keep on repeat even long after the summer ends. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor

How to Respond to Criticism

Listen carefully as Toast co-founder, Flavorwire hero, and general national treasure Mallory Ortberg dispenses wisdom on how to deal with people criticizing your work. As ever, her work is a mixture of biting wit and flat-out hilarity, and there’s a whole lot of truth here amidst the comedy. — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

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David Rees at Huge in Brooklyn

While I quite enjoyed talking to David Rees about his TV show “Going Deep With David Rees,” it was even better to hear from him live and in person, talking with The New York Times Magazine‘s deputy editor Bill Wasik. It was a night dedicated to curiosity, minutia, why “Going Deep” is kind of the opposite of being a political cartoonist, cool robots, and what sort of specific mundanity creates a great “Going Deep” episode. Also he drank “super pure” water (just hydrogen + oxygen, no minerals, none of what gives water its “flavor”) and apparently it was like “drinking a ghost.” — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

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Philip Pullman — Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm

I’m teaching a writing class this fall, and while planning a day on story shapes, I pulled out Philip Pullman’s recent collection of Brothers Grimm fairy tales. I was looking for “Cinderella” (a very shapely story that fits right into the glass slipper of my intentions, etc), but got sucked into the book’s vortex (witch’s oven? magic pond?) and started reading it through again. The fairy tales are a delight, of course, and so is Pullman’s excellent commentary and discussion of each one. — Emily Temple, Literary Editor

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Love Streams from the Criterion Collection

Love Streams (long absent from U.S. home video, out this month from the Criterion Collection) was one of John Cassavetes’ final films, a prestige production for ‘80s schlock slingers Cannon Films, and the smooth, professional look separates it from his ‘70s efforts (some of this camerawork is even stylish). But it is still very much in the vein of his earlier work, with all of the difficulties and brilliance of those films; he’ll wander, he’ll meander, he’ll try your patience, but then he’ll end up with scenes that are extraordinary in their rawness and honesty. It contains one of his most compelling performances, as a seemingly together guy mere moments from falling apart, while wife/muse Gena Rowlands, as his emotionally needy sister, is brilliant (again, and obviously), and the impatient rhythms of their dialogue are downright musical. Also, as is so often the case, Criterion’s special features nearly overshadow the main event; the hour-long making-of documentary I’m Almost Not Crazy, shot during the production, captures Cassavetes on the set, relaxing at home, hanging out with his kids, and giving verbose, searching interviews about the work that he does, his accidental innovations, and the idea of treating the film as an organism with a life and mind of its own. “Very few movies are really interesting to me anymore,” he sighs. “Most of them are just fluff.” And those words are even truer now than when he spoke them three long decades ago. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Robbie Basho — “Blue Crystal Fire

So this isn’t at all new: this song is from the 1978 album Visions of the Country. I, however, just heard it for the first time, and perhaps this will likewise be your first. When my friend played it for me, I was first struck by Basho’s voice – which is off-puttingly beautiful and evokes images of jiggling goat waddles and/or Antony in a cowboy hat – then struck by Breaking Bad‘s egregious oversight in never using it (clearly a certain “J.D. Beatz” shared this sentiment). I mean, come on – it’s called BLUE CRYSTAL FIRE and it sounds like a lonely fucking desert. — Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice