Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A new album, an old book, and some trail mix

A scene from the Moby Dick movie

Moby Dick
After years of intending to read it, I finally cracked open Moby Dick a few weeks ago—mostly because Gone Girl cost $15 on the kindle, but Moby Dick was free through the Gutenberg Project. I know it’s supposed to be the Great American Novel and stuff, but it’s surprised me by being not just rich and insightful but also very readable. It rivals The Great Gatsby in terms of old books that flow beautifully, even for the modern reader—and it’s a century older. Partly that’s because Herman Melville was preternaturally modern for his era. He understood how corporatism defeats the soul in a way writers like Jack Kerouac would explore over 100 years later. He engages with issues of race in a forthright (if antiquated) way. And though the book so far emphatically does not pass the Bechdel test (a woman has yet to utter a word!), there is plenty enough homoerotic subtext to pass the time. But the best thing about Melville is his sense of humor. Moby Dick is very funny, and that above all makes the pages flip by. [Sonia Saraiya]

Memory Palace by Stone Cold Fox
My first introduction to Brooklyn-based indie band Stone Cold Fox was through its single “American”  from the band’s 2012 EP The Young. The summer ditty became an instant earworm for me. Two years later, Stone Cold Fox has released its first full-length, Memory Palace, and I find it just as engaging. Album opener, “Sold,” sticks closely to the American roots style of earlier efforts, but the album as a whole denotes growth with singles like “January,” a warm synth ride; “Seventeen,” a joyous song about a melancholy breakup; and “Graduation,” which packs a harder punch than previous work. The entire album seems like an impeccable pairing for summer car rides, barbecues, and beach days. I especially like the bopping “Adaptation” with its opening line “Hey there apologies for talking / But I cannot resist your stare”—a nice reminder that this time of year is great for brief flirtations of all sorts. [Becca James]


Great Value Cajun Trail Mix
As I mentioned in my write-up for Good Spread peanut butter, most days I find sharing lunch with a group of folks that’s come to be known as the sandwich club. When in need of provisions we head to the Wal-Mart around the corner (and while I fully recognize that Wal-Mart is a terrible company, I often have to give myself to the quickest, simplest option I’m afforded) to grab sandwich materials and scan the aisles for any new, potentially weird, snacks to try. Through a delightful twist, the members of sandwich club were hipped to the Wal-Mart brand Cajun Trail Mix by the office’s IT Manager who, at the height of his devotion to the snack, claims he was going through three bags of it a week. We quickly embraced the glory of the salty, spicy mix, giving it loving nicknames, and referring to consumption of the snack as “Slinging Caj’” (pronounced with a long a like “cage”).  Though we aren’t racing through several bags a week, it’s become a standard addition to the lunchtime meals, regardless of the potential hazard of consuming that much flavor powder on a daily basis.  [David Anthony]

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