Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A crusading board game, a devastating record, and some peachy ice cream

Jeni’s Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam ice cream

Yeah, it’s kind of weird to write up ice cream for a staff pick, especially with summer slowly leaving us behind. But I finally tried Jeni’s ice cream for the first time over Labor Day weekend, after everyone in Chicago telling me it was insane I hadn’t gone there yet. They were totally right: I kind of regret not moving next door when I got here 10 months ago. Or moving into the kitchen. I ordered Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, and I think it may have changed my life. According to the website, Jeni based the flavor off of Zelda Fitzgerald’s favorite snack, a biscuit with peach preserves. Now I need more—or perhaps I need to try everything else. Fortunately, Jeni’s will be serving scoops at A.V. Fest, which I’m going to anyway. Nothing really stirs the senses like Death Cab For Cutie and a bottomless cup of incredible ice cream. If you’re going to A.V. Fest, see you in line for ice cream. If not, Jeni’s is in several major cities, though Death Cab may not be in attendance at all locations. [Sonia Saraiya]

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Cymbals Eat Guitars, Lose

The first two Cymbals Eat Guitars records—2009’s Why There Are Mountains and 2011’s Lenses Alien—are both excellent, but now they sound like warm-ups for LOSE, a crushing, complex collection from the New York band. The album is purposefully devastating, from the epic album opener “Jackson” to the frenzied, harmonica-assisted “XR,” on which Joseph D’Agostino sounds perpetually on the edge of losing control completely. In that one, he just nails the perfect combination of desperation and humor and the nostalgic power that songs can have. (Favorite lyric: “We watched Faces Of Death / and we regretted it,” which is way more biting in context than out.) It’s nine perfectly pointed songs, and one of the best albums of the year. TL;DR? Imagine an angry young Superchunk. [Josh Modell]

Lords Of Waterdeep

I get frustrated when playing Dungeons And Dragons with friends who have been embarking on campaigns since they were kids. I know the basics, but don’t yet have the background to unlock the game’s full potential. Lords Of Waterdeep is my answer to that. An accessible board game with a D&D feel, Lords Of Waterdeep has players assume the role of Waterdeep’s powerful figures, embarking on a Game Of Thrones-like crusade to gain power and notoriety in eight rounds of game play. Players send out agents to do their shadowy bidding, and must stay abreast of their own plots while keeping tabs on the other players, as it’s just as important to foil their plays as it is to orchestrate your own. Scheming and strategizing are necessary to win, but there’s just enough luck involved to keep things interesting. And while players can pull ahead on the board, each Lord has a secret weapon that isn’t revealed till the end. As a result, it’s never clear who will gain control of Waterdeep until the final points are tallied. This is my sort of game: quick, conniving, and highly competitive. My friends and I usually play by candlelight and low music to get the feeling right. But be warned: Every part of gameplay—even the factors outside the game borders—is an opportunity for sabotage. Ignore your friends’ helpful-but-actually-not-helpful advice and don’t let your husband change the mood-appropriate Jascha Datsko to the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. I’m convinced this was my undoing the last time I played. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

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