All Things Printed & Recorded: Video Games Come Into Play

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For August, it’s all fun and games—video games, to be exact.

Super Mario gamesTIMELINE
1940  A computer playing the traditional game Nim is displayed at the World’s Fair.
1958  A tennis game played using an analog computer and an oscilloscope is demonstrated at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
1962  Spacewar, the first computer-based video game, is invented by an MIT student.
1975  Atari partners with Sears to release its arcade game Pong for the home market.
1985  Nintendo’s NES revives an ailing American video game industry two years after its original release in Japan, where it was called Famicom.
1995  Sony releases PlayStation in the United States. When PlayStation 2 debuts in 2000, it becomes the dominant home console.
2001  Microsoft enters the market with Xbox and hit games like Halo. Xbox 360 would debut four years later.

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Smart Patriotic Sounds for July 4

Independence Day is fast upon us, and if you’re like me, that means you’re planning what patriotic American music to play at your cookout or family gathering. I mean, I’m not literally doing a cookout, because I live in Texas and it’s a bazillion degrees out. But I do enjoy making a good themed playlist.

Problem is, you likely don’t own much patriotic music. Besides Sousa marches, the national anthem, songs people think are the national anthem and that one Lee Greenwood tune…what even is patriotic music?

You could take the easy route and play any American music. (For that matter, you could take the super easy route and play literally any music, and no one at your cookout or indoor air conditioned food-eating event would bat an eye, but I’m writing an important blog post here, so don’t do that!) Sure, any American music would do, but this being HPB and all, let’s dig deeper in the crates and find some music that celebrates America, but perhaps not in the obvious flag-waving ways. Continue reading

All Things Printed & Recorded: Children’s Books–Adventures in Wonder

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For May, we’ve stepped through the looking-glass to learn about the history and development of children’s literature.

PokyLittlePuppy.png

TIMELINE
1658  Orbis Pictus, the first children’s textbook with pictures, is published.
1744  John Newbery releases A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, considered the first children’s book.
1942  The Poky Little Puppy is among the first 12 Little Golden Book titles.
1963  Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are raises the level of artistry in children’s picture books.

Alice vintage bookDID YOU KNOW?

  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, was a watershed in children’s literature. Its emphasis on fantasy and childlike imagination was a departure from earlier works for kids, which were largely educational and reality-based.
  • Competition with the Soviets fueled US efforts to create more engaging books for young readers. One result was the Beginner Books imprint, founded in 1957 by Phyllis Cerf, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Helen Geisel.
  • Released in 1942 and still in print today, Seventeenth Summer by Maurine Daly, is often cited as the first modern young adult (YA) book.

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Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The History of Children’s Books in 100 Books, Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad
book Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History, Peter Hunt, ed.
book 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks, Martin Salisbury
book John Newbery: Father of Children’s Literature, Shirley Graham
book 75 Years of Little Golden Books, 1942-2017: A Commemorative Set of 12 Best Loved Books
book The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
book Theodor Geisel: A Portrait of the Man Who Became Dr. Seuss, Donald Pease
book Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, Bruce Handy
slate_film-512 Miss Potter
slate_film-512 Finding Neverland

Tree-mendous Books, Movies and Music

Arbor Day is April 27, so we’re going out on a limb to highlight a few of our favorite trees in literature, film and even music. There’s no shortage of choices, given that humans have coexisted with and been fascinated by trees—sometimes even worshiping them—for all of history.

To_Kill_a_Mockingbird
The Radley oak tree in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Trees loom large in Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 novel, so it’s no surprise that most editions of the book feature a tree on the cover. Trees, after all, are where mockingbirds hang out. And, as Atticus Finch tells us, “it’s a sin” to kill a mockingbird because all they do is make music for us to enjoy. Furthermore, a tree plays an important role in the plot, as the mysterious recluse Boo Radley uses the knothole of a neighborhood oak tree as a place to leave small gifts for the Finch children, Scout and Jem.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Revolutions in Recorded Sound

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For April, weve got some groovy info on the history of sound recording. 

Record.png

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Thomas Edison’s phonograph, using a rotating cylinder wrapped in tinfoil, was the first machine to play back recorded sound. The first recording was Edison himself reciting the opening lines to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
  • Columbia Records introduced the 12-inch, 331/3 rpm long play record in 1948. Lighter and less brittle than its predecessors, the vinyl LP would come to dominate the recorded music market. Musicians took advantage of the LP’s extended playing time to create album-length artistic statements.

Sgt Pepper and Thriller

TIMELINE
1877  Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.
1889  Emile Berliner’s gramophone, which uses discs instead of cylinders, debuts.
1949  RCA Victor introduces the 45 rpm single a year after Columbia debuts its 331/3 LP.
1957  Stereo records appear.
2007  Vinyl, long considered obsolete, resurges in popularity.

old victrola

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

slate_film-512 High Fidelity
book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting, Eilon Paz
book Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age, Dominik Bartmanski & Ian Woodward book The Vinyl Detective: The Run-Out Groove, Andrew Cartmel
book Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology, David L. Morton, Jr.
book Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP, Susan Schmidt Horning
book Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music, Greg Milner
book Old Records Never Die: One Mans Quest for His Vinyl and His Past, Eric Spitznagel

A Celebration of the Quiet Beatle

The extremely talented lead guitarist of the Beatles, George Harrison, would have turned 75 this year on February 25. Although he passed away in 2001, Harrison’s legacy continues to thrive. George was the youngest of the Beatles, and was often referred to as “the quiet Beatle” since he wasn’t as boisterous as Paul or John. His talent for playing guitar, singing and composing music made him a legendary contributor to the music scene and how “classic rock” is viewed today. His appreciation of the Indian classic style and focus on universal love would stay with him throughout his lifetime. In honor of this rock god’s (and my personal favorite Beatle) birthday, here are some of the more well-known songs he composed.

“Don’t Bother Me”
This song was featured on the second Beatles album, With the Beatles. It was released in the U.K. on November 22, 1963 and a year later in the states. It was George’s first official Beatles song. He wrote it while he was sick in bed at a hotel room. He considered it an exercise in whether or not he could actually write a song.  The Beatles never performed the song live or at any of their BBC sessions, but it sparked Harrison’s desire to compose future songs.  The melancholy lyrics weren’t standard Beatles style, but they would eventually became a characteristic of a George Harrison song.

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All Things Printed & Recorded: Readers Flip for Magazines

This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores.

For February, we’re covering a product that’s been a mainstay at HPB since we first opened: magazines.

3 Magazines.pngTIMELINE

1731  The Gentleman’s Magazine debuts in England. Its publisher invents the word “magazine” based on the Arabic word “makhazin,” meaning storehouse.
1741  Early American magazines include Ben Franklin’s General Magazine.
1842  The Illustrated London News is the first magazine with illustrations.
1898  Ladies’ Home Journal becomes the first US magazine to have one million subscribers.
1923  Time ushers in the weekly news magazine
1944  Seventeen, the first magazine targeted to teens, debuts.
2015  Approximately 7,300 different magazine titles are published in the United States.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In the 19th and 20th centuries, American magazines spread trends nationwide and helped create a shared pop culture.
  • Around 1900, popular magazines like McClure’s began publishing pieces by reform-minded investigative journalists. Known as muckrakers, these writers aimed to expose corruption in business and government.

McClures.pngDISCOVER MORE

book Life: The Classic Collection
book Memos: The Vogue Years, Diana Vreeland
book Covering the ‘60s: George Lois – The Esquire Era, George Lois
book Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, And Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, And Invent Investigative Journalism, Ann Bausum & Daniel Schorr
book How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, Marisa Meltzer
slate_film-512 The Devil Wears Prada
slate_film-512 Funny Face

Holiday Albums You Love—And Others You Should

Now that it’s December, it’s time to dust off those records that live in the back of your collection, the ones that only get played one month out of the year: Christmas albums. In this post, I’m taking a look at some of the albums on Billboard’s list of the ten top-selling holiday albums of all time. Chances are you own some of them, and maybe you can’t imagine Christmas without them. But the thing about traditions is, you have to add new ones from time to time. In that spirit, I’m offering some alternative holiday albums that might be less familiar and a little fresher to your ears.

Gigantic Bestseller:
ElvisElvis’ Christmas Album – Elvis Presley
Released in 1957, Presley’s first Christmas album—the top-selling record on Billboard’s list— features secular tunes on side one and sacred fare on side two, including a few non-Christmas gospel songs that had been previously released. The King is solemn on the religious tunes but loosens up for the secular stuff, including originals like “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me).” Personally, I can’t stand Elvis’ version of “Blue Christmas,” but it’s here, too.

Alternate Choice:
James Brown’s Funky Christmas – James Brown
Let the King rest in heavenly peace this year and invite the Godfather of Soul over for Christmas instead. This compilation features tracks from the three holiday albums Brown recorded at the height of his funky powers between 1966 and 1970, including “Go Power at Christmas Time,” “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” and “Soulful Christmas.” Brown shows his socially-conscious side on tracks like “Let’s Unite the World at Christmas.”

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Totally Random Lists: Auld Lang Syne

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we celebrated the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ve found books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our final random list for December 2017!

Dec titleAs we bid adieu to another year, HPB would like to remind you that old acquaintances shouldn’t be forgot—unless they’re always posting offensive stuff on Facebook: Then forget ‘em! Did we mention we’re terrible at goodbyes? Here’s a list of titles related to endings & farewells.

BOOKSDec visual
Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
The Garden of Happy Endings, Barbara O’Neal
This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, C.J. Box

MOVIES & TV
Bye Bye Birdie
The Day After Tomorrow
The Long Goodbye
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

MUSIC
The End, Nico
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
Leaving, Pet Shop Boys

Not ready to say goodbye just yet? Keep the story going at HPB.com/auld.

Totally Random Lists: Eat, Drink and Be Merry

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year at HPB, we’re celebrating the random. Actually, we’ve been doing that every year since our founding in 1972. And we mean random in a totally good way, as in the random treasures you come across when you’re browsing our stores or website—and the wonderfully random stuff we buy from the public every day. In this series of posts, you’ll find books, movies and music collected in some very random ways. So here’s our list for November 2017!

Nov title

Half Price Books isn’t a grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find tasty stuff on our shelves. This month we’re giving you a menu of nutritious & mouthwatering titles inspired by food and drink. Enjoy. Nov visual

BOOKS
The Hundred-Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Sideways, Rex Pickett

MOVIES & TV
Chef
Julie & Julia
Ratatouille
Soul Food

MUSIC
Meat is Murder, The Smiths
Milk and Honey, John Lennon and Yoko Ono
The Spaghetti Incident, Guns N’ Roses
Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Hungry for more of our food-related favorites? Whet your appetite at HPB.com/eat.