Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A killer box set, useful role-playing app, and Twitter account that makes poetry from data

Little Box Of Horrors box set

Little Box Of Horrors

Horror has a surfeit of great scores. Composers have turned in soundtracks to films that non-fans likely never even realize possess them. And for those of us who can hum the themes to various killers and iconic scenes from memory, the chance to treat our ears to these compositions apart from their source material can often be a difficult task to accomplish. Thankfully, Varèse Sarabande records—the most productive producers of film music worldwide—have taken it upon themselves to try and make a dent in the backlog of out-of-print masterworks and previously unreleased CD soundtracks with a great new collection.


Little Box Of Horrors is a 12-album assembly of some of horror’s more underappreciated scores, often to films not properly appreciated for containing the work of such talented composers. Howard Shore’s work on The Fly, Brad Fiedel’s score for The Serpent And The Rainbow, Marco Beltrami’s work on Mimic are all here, reissues saved from out-of-print oblivion. Additionally, there are first-time-on-CD scores like Charles Bernstein’s music for Deadly Friend and multiple never-before-released works, including Richard Stone’s Pumpkinhead score and Bob Cobert’s contribution to The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. It all comes with a 24-page booklet that delves into each composition, everything hidden away inside a retro black carrying case, making the whole thing feel like some long-lost musical samizdat treasure. It’s already lent the soundtrack to my life the kind of wonderfully eerie feel that my daily activities—like scrolling through images of cute baby goats—don’t deserve. [Alex McCown-Levy]

@censusAmericans Twitter account

Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight have been finding beauty in data for nearly a decade now. Last summer, FiveThirtyEight’s Jia Zhang released a Twitter bot called censusAmericans, which spins strange, small-scale poetry out of census results. Zhang says that “the bot reconstitutes numbers and codes from the data into mini-narratives. Once an hour, it turns a row of data into a real person.” Especially now that the presidential election has cracked us wide open, it’s a reminder that our country—even as we stand together shocked and afraid—is made up of real people with real histories and problems. It’s easy to let your imagination wander based on these little tidbits of humanity underneath the statistics, like with this one:

I got married last year. I was laid off from work. Usually work 70hrs per week. I get to work around 4:50am. I moved last year.

— censusAmericans (@censusAmericans) November 18, 2016

And maybe this account will make you feel kinder toward Nate Silver again. [Laura M. Browning]


Pathfinder role-playing app

Were this an infomercial, I’d show a grainy black-and-white video of some hapless nerd struggling to carry a massive stack of roleplaying books before, in a fit of klutziness brought on by the existential inconvenience of modern life, he trips and, flailing wildly, spills books everywhere. Friend, what if I told you there’s no need to break your back lugging all those books around, when the entire Pathfinder role-playing system lives at your fingertips with the PFRPG rd app?

Image: Nick Wanserski

Pathfinder is an incredibly popular offshoot of Dungeons & Dragons created under Wizards Of The Coast’s Open Games License. The terms of the license basically mean you can design and sell anything you like with the rule set, as long as a bunch of it is also available for free. The Pathfinder rules are all available online, so enterprising PFRPG app creator Lanza Giuseppe plugged all of it into an app. It has so much content that it’s silly: the core books, supplements, and searchable indexes for spells, monsters, and magic items.


Infomercial shtick aside, the trade-off of an app over the books is obvious. The interface is functional, but as minimal as can be. There aren’t any illustrations or clever layouts, and it lacks the tactile quality of a book that’s so enjoyable for just idly flipping through and thinking up ideas. It’s a tool; handy while running a game, but not one that you’ll be curling up by a fire with. What the PFRPG rd app lacks in warmth, it makes up for in sheer usefulness: All the collected material you could ever need to run a robust Pathfinder campaign for half the cost of the six-pack you drink during an evening gaming with your friends. [Nick Wanserski]

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