Thriller Anniversary

The historic, epic, magnanimous album, Thriller, was released this very day in 1982. Our HPB corporate operations director tells a great story about a night he was managing the main Dallas location, around the time of Thriller-mania. A non-descript “large” bodyguard entered Half Price Books and asked if it was ok for Michael Jackson to come in and shop. It was late on a weekend evening, so there were scarce employees or customers in the store. A quiet Michael Jackson did some browsing (JUST LIKE YOU AND I) and left with a few treasures (JUST LIKE YOU AND I). We didn’t have any security cameras to capture the moment at the time and no employees bugged the uber-celeb for a photo or an autograph…we’re cool like that.

What a bummer that such a talent is gone too soon. We’ve sold a lot of Michael Jackson records, cassettes, CDs, books and movies through the years, but Thriller’s top of the list. What a cool moment in history, agree?

— Becky

From the Buy Guy: Cool Collectibles from Austin’s South Lamar Store

Our store at 2929 South Lamar in Austin sees some real treasures come across the buy counter.  Here’s just a sample of the cool collectibles they have recently acquired, and are now offering for sale.

This inscribed first edition of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt is truly one-of-a-kind.  There is a lengthy three-page inscription to “Bob”—identified as Bob Braudis, Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, and longtime friend of Thompson. 

(inscribed first edition, Summit Books, 1979: $1,750) 

This authenticated limited edition lithograph is signed by Looney Tunes animator and director Chuck Jones (1912-2002).

(#220 of 750: $500)


A beautiful treasure from over 150 years ago is Charles Robert Cockerell’s The Temple of Jupiter Panhellenius at Ægina, and of Apollo Epicurius at Bassæ near Phigaleia in Arcadia.  It was published in 1860 to commemorate Cockerell’s appointment as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

 Cockerell began the excavation of The Temple of Aphaea, which he incorrectly identified as “The Temple of Jupiter Panhellenius” in this work.  This piece is in excellent condition for its age.  The cover and spine are still firmly attached.  The prints are very detailed and some are hand-colored.

(London, John Weale, 1860: $1,000)


This copy of Fantastic Four #9 was signed by Jack Kirby, who not only penciled this issue, but co-created the title characters with Stan Lee


 Among the other special items the South Lamar store is also proud to offer:

  • a number of matted and framed signed celebrity photographs, including Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, and Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (price range: $75-$900)
  • a program for the welcome dinner that was to take place in Austin, Texas, for President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the day of his assassination ($400)

 Happy (Collectibles) Shopping!

— Steve, aka The Buy Guy

Legendary Comedian + Harpist Harpo Marx

Wow. Where do I even begin to talk about one of the great comedians of all time? Harpo Marx (born November 23, 1888 – died September 28, 1964) and his comic style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions.

I was first introduced to the Marx Brothers at a very young age, and I can truly say that films such as Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, A Night at the Opera and Animal Crackers still stand the test of time. Their films are funnier than ever, with each member of the comedy team having a distinct role, including Harpo’s as the silent zany one who communicated only with a horn or by whistling! Some of the most memorable comedy scenes in movie history belong to the Marx Brothers.

My absolute favorite is the “mirror” scene from Duck Soup (1933) which shows Harpo at his best. You may also remember a similar scene re-done in an episode of “I Love Lucy” which originally aired on TV in 1955 with a hilarious Harpo and Lucille Ball duo (clip below).

I encourage everyone to sit down and watch a few of these great classic comedies!

Thank you for all the laughs. Here’s to Harpo!

Remember: no talking or texting during the feature presentation.

— Jim

Doctor Who’s Turning 48!

Although the character claims to be approximately 900 years old, the British television show Doctor Who is turning 48 on November 23.  Doctor Who is in the Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the word, and the “most successful” science fiction series of all time.  In fact, more than 778 installments of the Doctor Who program have been televised since its first appearance in 1963. Writers such as Robert Holmes (Bergerac, and Blake’s 7) Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Russell T. Davies (Torchwood, Queer as Folk, and The Sarah Jane Adventures) and Steven Moffat (Coupling, Jekyll, and Sherlock) have all worked as writers for Dr. Who. Moffat is actually the current head writer and executive producer of the show.

Doctor Who has become a hallmark of British pop culture and has begun to greatly affect those of us “across the pond” as well. Caitlin Moran, a television reviewer for The Times of London, wrote that Doctor Who is “quintessential to being British,” and director Steven Spielberg has commented that “the world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who.” A number of spin-offs have been produced, including K-9 and Company, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and the current K-9 television series, currently airing on Disney XD.  Plus the show has been referenced or spoofed on shows like Saturday Night Live, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Family Guy, South Park, The Simpsons and Community.
Now, some of you may ask “Who is Doctor Who?”  Well, for those of you who do not know, neither does anybody else.  Oh, sure, you could say that he is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who journeys through time and space with his companions saving the earth, or whatever planet he happens to be on. However, the Doctor’s past is shrouded in mystery and his true name has never been revealed, though he has gone by many pseudonyms, including  “Dr. Foreman,” “Dr. Caligari,” “Doctor von Wer” (a German approximation of  Doctor Who), “Dr. Bowman,” “Dr. James McCrimmon,” “The Lonely God,” “Bringer of Darkness,” “Destroyer of Worlds,” and most frequently “John Smith.” Sometimes, it seems the Doctor himself has no idea who he actually is. In “The Lodger,” the Eleventh Doctor says, “I’m the Doctor. Well, they call me ‘the Doctor.’ I don’t know why. I call me ‘the Doctor’ too; still don’t know why.”
So, although, you may never know his true name, especially if the Silence has its way, let’s see what all you “Whovians” out there do know. (Note: Questions on top, followed by answers).

1. Eleven men have principally portrayed the Doctor. Can you name them?


2. Which actor is the youngest actor to have played the Doctor?

3. Which actor played the longest lasting on-screen incarnation of the Doctor?

4. How many times can a Time Lord regenerate?

5. What does TARDIS mean?

6. Where should you never materialize the TARDIS?

7. What is the Eye of Harmony?

8. Who was the Doctor’s first companion?

9. What is UNIT?

10. In the episode “The Doctor’s Daughter” (2008), what actress played the Doctor’s daughter, and how is she connected to two different Doctors?


1. Eleven men have principally portrayed the Doctor. Can you name them?

1.     William Hartnell (1963-1966)
2.     Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
3.     Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
4.     Tom Baker (1974-1981)
5.     Peter Davison (1981-1984)
6.     Colin Baker (1984-1986)
7.     Sylvester McCoy (1987-1980, 1996)
8.     Paul McGann (1996)
9.     Christopher Eccleston (2005)
10.   David Tennant (2005-2010)
11.   Matt Smith (2010-present)

2. Which actor is the youngest actor to have played the Doctor?

The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, is the youngest actor to have ever played the Doctor.  He started playing the part when he was 27.  The second youngest was the 5th Doctor, Peter Davison, who started at age 29.

3. Which actor played the longest lasting on-screen incarnation of the Doctor?

Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, played the part for 7 years.

4. How many times can a Time Lord regenerate?

According to the serials “The Deadly Assassin” and the “Mawdryn Undead,” as well as the 1996 TV film, a Time Lord can regenerate 12 times for a total of 13 incarnations.  However, at least one Time Lord, the Master, has managed to get around this according to “The Keeper of Traken.” Hopefully, The Doctor will discover this trick, or his time may soon run out.

5. What does TARDIS mean?

Time and Relative Dimensions In Space

6. Where should you never materialize the TARDIS?

You should never materialize the TARDIS inside itself.

7. What is the Eye of Harmony?

A black hole that powers the TARDIS’ time engines.

8. Who was the Doctor’s first companion?

Susan Foreman, the doctor’s granddaughter, is traveling with the Doctor when we first meet him.  They are on the run from their people.  While the Doctor learns to control the TARDIS, Susan attends Coal Hill School in London until two of her teachers (Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton) become intrigued by her and follow her to a junkyard, where they find Susan, the Doctor and the TARDIS.  Susan and the Doctor then kidnap them in order to keep the TARDIS safe.

9. What is UNIT?

An intelligence task force dedicated to protect earth from alien threats.  The third Doctor worked as their scientific advisor while trying to repair his broken TARDIS.  Since then UNIT has popped up in various episodes.  In fact, one of the Doctor’s companions, Martha Jones, ended up working for UNIT after leaving the Doctor.

10. In the episode “The Doctor’s Daughter” (2008), what actress played the Doctor’s daughter, and how is she connected to two different Doctors?

Georgia Moffett was the actress who played the Doctor’s daughter, Jenny, in 2008. Ironically enough, Georgia is the real-life daughter of the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison and fiancée of the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.  David and Georgia had a daughter named Olive in March 2011.

Got any other Doctor Who trivia?

Let me know! — Julie

5 Holiday Movies to Rev Up Your Holiday Cheer

Thanksgiving is only days away and that means the start of the holiday season– and with that, holiday movies! This is a great time for movies; some of the big Oscar contenders will be hitting the theaters and there are always a list of holiday favorites that just need to be watched. Without fail, each year, we break out a stack of holiday DVDs to get in the spirit. Here are my house’s Top 5 Holiday Movies:

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

How can this not be at the top of everyone’s list? Frank Capra has created a timeless holiday classic starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. This classic takes a look at a business man who, while contemplating suicide, is visited by an angel who shows him what a difference he has made for his family and those around him. A very heart warming holiday classic! And if you don’t own it on DVD, you can count on NBC to air it on TV after the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

It’s good to have a little off-beat fun for the holidays. Bridget Jones’s Diary is very funny with a well written script that will have you laughing the entire time. Renee Zellwegger plays Bridget Jones, who has started keeping a diary and promised herself to always tell the complete truth. Things get interesting when she starts dating her disreputable boss, played by Hugh Grant. Enter Academy Award winner Colin Firth as the mild mannered, engaged-to-be-married Mark Darcy, who starts falling for one time neighbor Ms. Jones. If you have never seen this laugh-a-minute movie, I suggest you put it on your holiday movie list.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Holiday movies include Thanksgiving, and this is THE Thanksgiving movie. Family man Neal Page, played by Steve Martin,  just wants to get home for Thanksgiving. After his flight is canceled, he meets Del Griffith, played by John Candy. Going the same direction, they decide to take the trek together to get home for Thanksgiving by what ever means necessary. Of course they are polar opposites, as Del is never short on conversation and bad jokes– so you can imagine the hilarity that ensues between these two great comedians! A must see classic for turkey day!

Home Alone (1990)

This is the film that made kid star Macauley Culkin. Kevin has been accidentally left at home while his family is off to spend the holidays in France. He milks having the house to himself for all it’s worth, ordering pizza, jumping on the bed . . . every kid’s dream. Discovering that there are two burglars trying to rob the supposedly empty home, he rigs the house with makeshift booby-traps to fend them off. This  fun holiday movie was directed by Chris Columbus (Mrs Doudtfire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and written by legend John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.) Note: This 90s classic is now available on Blu-Ray.

A Christmas Story (1983)

Ok, this one is worth watching, even if you are tired of the 24 hour Christmas Story marathons on Christmas Day. This is a fun story about Ralphie, who wants  only one thing for Christmas: an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! There is something everyone can relate to in this film, whether it is awkward gifts, bullies at school, Christmas dinner or using profanity for the first time. This is a great holiday movie for the entire family!

What is your family’s holiday movie tradition? Your favorite holiday flick?

— Jim

The Idea of a Mouse: 83 Years of Mickey

While traveling by train from New York to California after loosing the rights to Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney began toying with the idea of a mouse.  At first, Disney called the mouse Mortimer, but his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change the name to Mickey because it sounded cuter.  Then, on November 18, 1928, at the Colony Theater in New York, Mickey Mouse whistled his way onto the screen in the cartoon short Steamboat Willie.  And 83 years later, we are still enamored with the simple idea of a mouse.  So, to celebrate Mickey’s birthday, I’ve gathered up some fun facts about the world’s favorite mouse.
Did you know…?

  • Two Buster Keaton films, The Navigator (1924) and Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) provided the inspiration for Steamboat Willie.
  • Animator Ub Iwerks completed Steamboat Willie as a silent film.  Sound was post-synchronized to match the action.
  • Although Steamboat Willie had sound, Mickey did not utter his first word until The Karnival Kid (1929).  Walt Disney himself played Mickey’s voice.
  • The first item of merchandise to feature Mickey Mouse was a child’s school tablet in 1929.
  • After Emperor Hirohito of Japan received a Mickey Mouse watch while visiting Disneyland in 1978, he wore the watch on his wrist everywhere he went.  One day when the watch stopped ticking, he called in Japan’s finest jewelers to solve the problem.  The result was one new battery and a very happy emperor.
  • The first Mickey Mouse comic strip was published on January 13, 1930.
  • Although Mickey has only starred in a few of Disney’s full length feature presentations  – Fantasia (1940), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) – he has found a way to sneak into several others, such as The Rescuers (1977), The Little Mermaid (1989), and 101 Dalmatians (1961).  Can you find where he is hiding in those movies – perhaps do you know of other Disney movies where Mickey has found a way to make a cameo? Put your Disney trivia knowledge to the test and submit your answers in the comments below.

So today, in celebration of our favorite mouse, and because it’s Friday (who doesn’t love Fridays?!), we’re giving away some fun HPB prizes – including an HPB Gift Card, reusable tote bag and a coveted HPB T-shirt. Make a comment below telling us who is your favorite Disney character. Three (3) winners will be randomly selected at 3:00 pm CST on Friday, November 18. Ready, set, go!

Happy Birthday, Mickey!

— Julie 


UPDATE: Congratulations to our 3 winners – Nick Spacek and his adoration of Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove (you’ve won an HPB Gift Card), Veronica Deslauriers and her poem praising our feathered friend Donald Duck (you’ve won a reusable tote bag), and Shellie and her vote for the birthday boy himself, Mickey Mouse (you’ve won an HPB T-shirt)! To claim your prize, please email with “Mickey” in the subject line. This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated. Stay tuned to the Half Price Blog for more news, reviews and free goodies.

An Ode to Robert Pattinson on this, the day of his fourth film as a sparkly vegetarian vampire

Part of me really wishes that IT would come do a virus check on my computer, because they would find the following images/gifs on my desktop (and the resulting conversation would be hilarious and I wouldn’t get in any trouble because it’s for the blog– it’s actually for the blog. Which makes me realize for the zillionth time how much I love working here.)

I call the following: “In which RPattz reads, and other verbs.” Enjoy, and you’re welcome.


In which RPattz reads:


In which RPattz plays instruments:


In which RPattz stands surrounded by bookshelves and talks to someone we can’t see:   

In which RPattz walks:

In which RPattz laughs at my very funny joke:

In which RPattz touches his hair like he does when he’s nervous, which is always:

In which RPattz dances like no one’s watching:

In which RPattz does calisthenics:

In which RPattz bites because he’s a vampire:

In which RPattz broods:

In which RPattz protects: 

In which RPattz smolders:   


T-minus 14 hours till Breaking Dawn, Twihards. Are you ready?

–Kristen D.

P.S. To get you through the next half-day, I leave you with this, entitled: “In which RPattz takes care of business whilst wearing both a pinkie ring and an open weave skinny tie.”

Yes, sir.


This Holiday Season, Give Presents of Mind

Hey everyone –

Can you believe it?  Christmas is only 39 days away!  It always seems to sneak up on me, but not this year – I’ve already bought a few gifts for my family!

Of course, Half Price Books is a great place to find gifts for your loved ones.  With books, music and movies in all genres, you can’t help but find something everyone would enjoy!  This year, you’ll do some extra good when shopping at Half Price Books.  We’ve launched our Million Book Challenge – for every transaction made during the holiday season, we’ll donate a book to an organization in need in 2012.  So the presents of mind you buy your friends and family will give books to kids who may never have had a book of their own.  Keep checking our Million Book Challenge web page ( to see how we’re doing and to find out how to get books for your school or organization.

In the meantime, check out some of the fun gifts you can find at our stores!


A copy of A Christmas Carol is a must for any home.  This lovely red embossed version with gold lettering is $4.98.





Need something for the chef in your life?  How about this book, Holiday Baking, filled with all sorts of fun recipes!  $9.98





Every famous magician had to start somewhere.  Perhaps you’ll find the next Houdini with this set of Magic Tricks from HPB!  $7.98





If your kiddo enjoys painting, get them this Rock Painting Animals book and kit.  You’ll have new art for your home in no time!  $9.98



What presents of mind will you give this holiday season?  (Or which ones do you want to receive?:))  Post in the comments section!

— Emily