All about love: Recess picks the best culture for Valentine's Day

This one's for the romantics. From movies about sweethearts to literal boxes of sweets, the Recess staff picked pieces of culture we love for a day that is all about, well, love. Happy Valentine's Day!
“The Princess Bride”

When it comes to satirical, genre-bending, fantastical romantic comedies, my favorite has always been "The Princess Bride." With its endlessly-quotable and quippy dialogue, iconic sword fights and touching message of true love's power, the film balances its aspects beautifully. The music, written by Mark Knopfler — of Dire Straits fame — creates a warm and nostalgic atmosphere that anyone, regardless of relationship status, can enjoy on Valentine's Day. Truly, it would be inconceivable that such a warm and iconic film isn't on someone’s Valentine's Day watch list. —Ben Smith, staff writer

Valentine’s Day Mailboxes

Valentine's Day in elementary school always felt like the end-all be-all of my friendships and first crushes. The love, care and precision that went into decorating my shoebox-turned-Valentine-mailbox exceeded any efforts that went into my school assignments at that age. Choosing which of my classmates would get the card with the cutest little puppy dog saying "I dig you" as opposed to the weird-looking cat saying "Ur cool" really weighed on my conscience — probably to an unhealthy extent. And don't even get me started on deciding who got a Valentine signed with "Love, Anna" as opposed to "From, Anna" or "–Anna." Let's just say I'm happy to have made it out alive —  and with my heart in one piece — from those annual stress-inducing, chocolate-consuming classroom celebrations. But I'd like to think they helped make me a more thoughtful friend. —Anna Rebello, staff writer

“Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell”

In one scene from “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell,” Tom Lee shows the documentary filmmakers his late boyfriend’s collection of unfinished records. There are hundreds of them, a stash of cassette tapes preserved in a nondescript country home. Lee excitedly inserts a tape and a suspended acoustic chord sounds from the speakers, the start of Arthur Russell’s “Love is Overtaking Me.” This bittersweet tension, a love suspended over sadness, pervades Russell’s compilation of off-kilter folk songs and his own life story. From his childhood on an Iowa farm to his days in the New York avant-garde art scene of the 80s, until his death of AIDS in 1992, the enigmatic, often difficult artist was nonetheless met with steadfast love from his boyfriend and his parents, who became friends while tending to Russell during his final months. These songs are unfinished, written as love letters to Lee, and they roll out over hisses and blips, the specters of something warped and somber lurking beneath this love. —Stephen Atkinson, editor

Mac Miller, “The Divine Feminine”

Though it’s not explicitly a piece of Valentine's Day culture, one of my favorite albums of all time is “The Divine Feminine” by Mac Miller. The album is a jazzy and soulful exploration of Miller’s perceptions of romance. All 10 tracks see Miller pay tribute to the women in his life who taught him everything he knew about love. The final track features an outro wherein Miller’s grandmother recounts the story of her meeting her husband. It’s a really sweet album that makes me teary-eyed whenever I listen to it. The lyrics really do read like one person’s earnest distillation of love, and for that reason, I will now make it a tradition to listen to this album every Valentine’s Day. —Rhys Banerjee, music beat writer

Talking Heads, "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)"

There is really nothing new to say about Talking Heads' 1983 hit "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" — it is the band's most recognizable song, it's been covered to death and a neon sign of the song's title adorns a wall in seemingly every bar opened since 2019. Regardless, it is a damn good love song. The genre was famously a departure for frontman David Byrne, whose songs tended towards emotional detachment, and that sense of experimentation is apparent in the non-sequitur lyrics and simple (naive) melody. There is no overarching narrative, just a feeling of unease as Byrne stumbles into a healthy, happy relationship. Intentionally or not — most likely not — the song distinguishes itself from a glut of bombastic love songs by performing a testament to the quietude that comes with stability, the most underrated form of love. —Tessa Delgo, Recess editor

“La La Land”

Is La La Land a pretentious rom-com? Well, yes, but it’s a good pretentious rom-com. It's also the perfect Valentine's movie for everyone a little heartbroken but still somehow hopeful. And maybe that's your mood this February! I won't judge. Bonus: it's a musical, and musicals are always bonuses. —Jonathan Pertile, culture editor

Daniel Caesar and H.E.R., “Best Part”

A little R&B and soul goes a long way on Valentine's Day, and it doesn't get better than Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. on "Best Part." The duo complement each other perfectly, juggling falsettos and vocal runs with ease. The way they talk about love is gripping -- even after five years since its release -- I can't help but sing along every time.  Driven by guitar plucks and subtle synth, let this song envelop you in warmth while you think about that special someone.—Devinne Moses, design editor


Chocolaty gifts are definitely one of the crown jewels of Valentine’s season. Normally we don’t even realize how many varieties of chocolate items we can choose from — truffles, barks, chocolate-dipped fruits, the good ol’ bars. As someone who prides myself on being a chocolate aficionado, I love the fact that people feel less guilty eating chocolate during this time of year, meaning more people can join in the fun! Also, chocolate can facilitate the release of neurotransmitters that are involved in the pleasure pathway, so maybe consider giving a chocolate box to not just your valentine but that single friend of yours. —Katherine Zhong, staff writer

Chocolate (again)

My favorite thing about Valentine’s Day is the chocolate. Not only is there an abundance of chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but you don’t have to be in a relationship to enjoy it. It is socially acceptable to eat chocolate even if you bought it for yourself and I love that. —Catherine Esrey, contributing writer


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