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.

Major Lazer ft. Ariana Grande — “All My Love”

This track, from the Lorde-curated Mockingjay soundtrack, says it “features” Ariana Grande, but considering her strong yet girlish vocals dominate the three-and-a-half minute track, I’d say it more than “features” her. And all the better. “All My Love” is the pinnacle of what radio-ready pop music can be, with just the right amount of youthful longing that, combined with Major Lazer’s reggae-inspired beats and echoing birdcall, adds a healthy dose of levity to what is otherwise a somewhat grim (but still fantastic) soundtrack. If this is any indication, I can’t wait to see what else Ariana has up her sleeve. — Angela Lashbrook, Editorial Apprentice

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Saga by Bryan K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Recently, I made a conscious decision to start reading comic books again but, after so many years away from the comic book store, I had no idea where to start. A friend recommended Saga, pitching it as a love story about parents from different alien races and opposite sides of a war who are struggling to care for their newborn daughter as they run from assassins and exes. It’s a parenting story hidden in a genre comic; it’s part Romeo and Juliet, part Star Wars, part everything else. It’s really hard to summarize — I recommend David Sims’ recent piece in The Atlantic for a primer about what makes it so brilliant— but it’s necessary reading and beautifully drawn. I raced through the first two volumes yesterday and can’t wait to read the rest. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor
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Couch Slut — My Life as a Woman

Oh, sure, it’s not very festive, but if a few days of wholesome family time leaves you seeking release in the form of rage, aggression, and general loudness, the debut album by Brooklyn’s Couch Slut is something you’ll want in your life this holiday weekend. It’s noise, it’s metal, it’s hardcore, it’s terrifying, it’s feminist — which is to say, it packs a hell of a righteous wallop. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

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Thanksgiving with Mystery Science Theater 3000 

Back in the early days of Comedy Central, Mystery Science Theater 3000 wasn’t just their centerpiece show; it was also a helpful schedule-filler, taking up two hours at a time on a network not yet abundant with original programming. So it only made sense for the network to supplement its multiple weekly airings of the show with a “Turkey Day Marathon,” programming over 24 hours of consecutive MST3K episodes (with special, holiday-appropriate wraparounds) on Thanksgiving, and a tradition was born—albeit one that amounted to movie nerds disappearing from family gatherings to watch whatever television the football fans hadn’t taken over. That tradition is detailed on “Undercooked and Overstuffed: Inside the Turkey Day Marathon,” one of the charming special features on Shout Factory’s new DVD box set Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection (out this week). It also includes, as usual, four terrific MST3K episodes, including the goofy cheapo jungle flick Jungle Goddess, the hoary thriller The Screaming Skull, the dopey hillbilly horror picSquirm, and (my favorite) the uproarious Lassie vehicle The Painted Hills (featuring good ol’ “Pile-On Pete”). But best of all, the set includes some of the funniest and oddest shorts of the show’s run, including the deranged Gumby tale “Robot Rumpus,” the personal hygiene explainer “Body Care and Grooming,” and good Lord, “A Case of Spring Fever” (“NO SPRINGS!”). And if your Thanksgiving MST3K needs are a little more ephemeral, have no fear: with the help of series creator Joel Hodgson, Shout will stream six episodes on Turkey Day at www.MST3KTurkeyDay.com.  I can’t think of a better way for us bad-movie-loving antisocial types to celebrate the holiday. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Okkervil River — “It Was Our Season”

I have a heady and lengthy relationship with the music of Okkervil River, and one thing that they do well, particularly in this season of nostalgia and family, is make music that evokes New England, in its way. In their last album, The Silver Gymnasium, the concept is obvious — frontman Will Sheff said that the album was a trip through his childhood in a small New Hampshire town — and the video for the first single form that album, “It Was Our Season,” is a tribute to a beautiful piece of art in Meridien, New Hampshire. According to Will Sheff’s personal website, this video is a true labor of love. Over the course of the lyric video, we see the klieg lights work through each glimpse of light we see, from the dawn to night’s descent. It’s beautiful and enigmatic and very touching. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

Beverly — “Yale’s Life

This sun-stained slow burner is an odd pick for Thanksgiving week, but it just so happens that Beverly’s excellent, under-appreciated debut Careers, released earlier this year, has been drilling a hole into my head. That whole album is filled with perfectly toned sonic daydreams, but this track is the best, Drew Citron’s croon and those beastly snares somehow managing to accomplish some ASMR shit, seeming to scratch my brain in a way I didn’t know it could be scratched. It sounds hokey, but it ain’t. Just listen to “Yale’s Life,” watch the video, hear the album. It’ll go well with that tryptophan. — Shane Barnes, Editorial Apprentice

Mark Ronson on the Hood of a White Limo, Bruno Mars in Curlers

Sometimes, a music video is so caricatured in its reference points that it strikes me as endlessly amusing. Such is the case with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” New York in the 1980s is the setting, though it’s evident more in their KILLER fashion choices. The image of Mark Ronson cross-legged on the hood of a white limo has not left me since I saw this video. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

“Back Home Ballers”

The very fluffy, very silly SNL jam, “Back Home Ballers” — about young women who return for Thanksgiving to get pampered by their families — elicited laughs without utilizing any raunch, made certain thirty-something female viewers recollect returning home for that first holiday of the season when we were younger, and featured an uncanny Missy Elliot video impression from Leslie Jones. So it was throwback in more ways than one. Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to take full advantage of your mom’s or friend’s or relative’s panoply of bowls. Bowls, bowls, bowls. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

Kneehigh’s Tristan and Yseult at St. Ann’s Warehouse

Kneehigh’s Tristan and Yseult at first almost seems like a Wishbone Classic — an extremely digestible, cute synopsis — with performances exaggerated as though appealing to easily distracted children (or, perhaps a millennial audience). But this first impression quickly subsides: the raucous, children’s television-ish quality reveals itself to be a setup for a startlingly dark (while somehow still singsong, exhilarating and entirely inspiring) piece of theater. While its thematic culmination may leave you crushed, you’ll still have a smile plastered on your face from the goofy, alternating antennae (sometimes they have balloons at their tips, sometimes beer cans!) the play’s musicians are forced to wear. Moze Halperin, Associate Editor