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Friday, January 23, 2009

Superheroes, Rock and Roll, and Halloween: New Reference Sources.

When you think of encyclopedias and other reference sources, what comes to mind? Dusty, crusty old volumes that expel a cloud of dust when opened? Antiquated, moldy tomes with outdated information? Encyclopedias get such a bad rap! Here are some snazzy new titles we’ve recently acquired in reference that might put an end--or at least, a brief pause--to the traditional view of reference books.

The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television by John Kenneth Muir (McFarland, 2008).

Open this book at random, as I just did, and you may encounter detailed information on Automan, short-lived, live-action series starring Desi Arnaz, Jr. as a nerd whose crime-fighting alter ego, Automan--who, by the way, was a hologram--could infiltrate computers and other mechanical devices in order to beat the bad guys. Oh, man, this sounds awful! There’s even detailed descriptions of each horrendous episode, which surprisingly got pretty low ratings when they originally aired in the 1983-84 season (apparently poor Automan was crushed by both Magnum P.I. and Gimme a Break).

Oh: the book also has information on successful tv and movie versions of superheroes as well.

Led Zeppelin Crashed Here: The Rock and Roll Landmarks of North America by Chris Epting (Santa Monica Press, 2007).

With this handy volume by your side, you can explore not only the sites where rock music was written, performed, and recorded, but also where the covers of some famous albums were photographed, where Courtney Love once beaned a guy in the head with a microphone, and the restaurant where Paula Adbul’s car was stolen. The book also lists various rock and roll museums as well.

The Halloween Encyclopedia by Lisa Morton (McFarland, 2003).

This book can help you out on little known Halloween food superstitions (and who doesn’t love a good antiquated food superstition?). There’s scadding the peas, a fortune-telling game where you cook one lone bean with some peas and whoever gets the lone bean is assured good luck, or the meaner barm brack, which is an Irish cake made of dried fruit and filled with tokens like a ring (the person who gets this will be married in a year), a rag (the person who gets this is doomed to spinsterhood), a pea (poverty), or a bean (wealth). I am all for tokens in my cake and all, but who wants to eat a cake with a rag in it? Mmm, rag cake, hot out of the oven!

As always, if you have any questions regarding these titles, leave them in the comments and we’ll get back to you!

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