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  • Ross Johnson 7:30 pm on 2016/07/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , get pop cultured,   

    A Galaxy of Books, Games, and Gift Ideas for Every Star Wars Fan 

    You don’t need to travel to a galaxy far, far away to enjoy an adventure with your favorite characters from the Star Wars saga—the action is as close as your local Barnes & Noble. As part of Get Pop-Cultured, we’re celebrating all things Star Wars on July 15 at 7 p.m., with exciting activities, including cosplay, trivia, Star Wars bingo, and coloring activities.

    Make the jump to lightspeed on your way in to avoid missing out on a full cargo-hold of giveaways, including an adorable ABC-3PO poster, a two-sided poster for the new novel Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt, by Chuck Wendig, and a sampler of Marvel® Star Wars comics that extends the magic (and expands the story) of the beloved film series, with excerpts from the flagship Star Wars comic, as well as the Darth Vader, Vader Down, Poe Dameron, Obi-Wan and Anakin, Chewbacca, and Han Solo titles (giveaways while supplies last).

    Still eager for something to tide you over until the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Whether you lean to the light side of the Force or the dark (or even if you’re just a scruffy-looking nerf-herder) you’ll want to take a trip to a galaxy far, far away with these books and games.

    Star Wars: Bloodline (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Claudia Gray
    The Force Awakens took us roughly 30 years beyond the events of Return of the Jedi, leaving a rather significant gap in the timeline. What happened after our pals destroyed the second Death Star? Did that big Ewok party signal the end of the evil Empire? As we’ve seen, there was quite a bit more to the story, not all of it good for our heroes. Claudia Gray fills in some details missing from the new film: it’s the story of the birth of Princess Leia’s Resistance against the sinister First Order, as politics and intrigue leave the New Republic on the brink of disaster. The B&N Exclusive Edition includes a double-sided poster.

    Life Debt: Aftermath (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Chuck Wendig
    Another missing chapter in the Star Wars saga unfolds as Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath saga continues in this book that follows Norra Wexley and her crew of rogues and misfits as they continue to hunt the remaining Imperial leadership following the Battle of Endor. Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is still on the run, but the heroes are forced to take on a new challenge when they receive an urgent request from Princess Leia: save Han Solo! The B&N Exclusive Edition includes a two-sided pull-out poster with Millennium Falcon blueprints.

    The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, by Phil Szostak
    Star Wars fans are very familiar with the work of the late, great Ralph McQuarrie, who was responsible for much of the production design work for the original films. Those drawings and paintings provided a breathtaking view into that far-away galaxy: early versions of ideas that were ultimately realized onscreen alongside concepts that never made it, sometimes because they couldn’t be translated from the page. Veteran Doug Chiang played much the same role for The Force Awakens, heading the team of artists and designers who are shaping that world now and as the series continues. Aside from being a showcase for some really stunning production art, this is as close as you can get to experiencing the evolution of the next era of Star Wars.

    Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, by Adam Bray, Cole Horton, Michael Kogge, and Kerrie Dougherty
    You saw the movie in the theatre a dozen or so times. You’ve burned out the Blu-ray. Or maybe you’re new to the whole Star Wars scene and don’t want to be left in the dark. Either way, it’s time for a little homework, and this book is no dry encyclopedia; it’s a fun and colorful guide to everything Star Wars, including all of the current movies and the TV shows The Clone Wars and Rebels. From the basics, to the obscure, to the downright weird, the book is packed with trivia and cool facts for fans of all ages.

    Star Wars The Force Awakens Junior Novel (Deluxe Edition), by Michael Kogge
    Adventure? Excitement? Maybe Jedi crave not these things, but the rest of us feel a little differently. The galaxy has been at peace since the days of Luke Skywalker, but Kylo Ren and his evil First Order are about to put an end to all that. Kogge’s adaption of The Force Awakens is loaded with adventure and excitement from a galaxy far, far, away, and it’s a fun way for readers of all ages to relive the story.

    Star Wars ABC-3PO: Alphabet Book, by Calliope Glass and Katie Cook
    You’d be hard pressed for a better way to learn the alphabet this side of Mos Eisley. Geared toward Padawan learners in the 4-8 age range, there’s plenty of fun here for older Star Was fans, as well. Each entry (starting with A for Akbar) features a Star Wars character along with a clever rhyme to reinforce the letter for the kids, and to put a smile on the face of full-grown Jedi moms, dads, and teachers as well.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Little Golden Book Series), by Caleb Meurer
    Maybe your wee Jedi-in-training was a bit too young for The Force Awakens, or maybe she can’t get enough. Either way, this Little Golden Book is a perfect way to either introduce the story, or to relive the adventure and excitement while reinforcing reading skills. It’s also a pretty great collectible, with some great retro-style illustrations.

    Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Core Set
    Strategy is key when a your X-wing goes up against TIE fighters in head-to-head dogfights. This tabletop miniatures game set has everything your favorite fan will need to defend and/or conquer the galaxy, but optional expansion kits and options for more advanced rules ensure that the game is almost endlessly replayable.

     
  • Dave K. 3:01 pm on 2015/07/17 Permalink
    Tags: brandon flowers, get pop cultured, incubus, , johnny cash, , nickelback, , , sia,   

    Vinyl Albums Available Exclusively at Barnes & Noble 

    Among Barnes & Noble’s huge selection of vinyl albums by great musicians from all over the world, there are some store exclusives that you can’t find anywhere else. These B&N Exclusives are a great addition to any vinyl collection, offering variant cover art, limited-edition colored vinyl, and other goodies for serious collectors.

    Outlander the Series, Vol 1 [Original Television Soundtrack], by Bear McCreary
    The Outlander TV series centers on a married WWII nurse who gets sent back to 18th century Scotland by magic time-traveler stones, and promptly gets swept up by rebellion and a dreamy Highland warrior. It’s based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon, and it has a killer soundtrack composed by Bear McCreary, who has also written music for Battlestar Galactica, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Walking Dead. The music itself is cinematic and lush, with plenty of strings, romantic flute, and Celtic-style percussion to honor the setting. Bear even brings out the bagpipes on a song or two as well, but don’t worry, he uses them sparingly.

    Trust Fall (Side A), by Incubus
    After Brandon Boyd basically admitted that the band’s 2011 album, If Not Now, When, was a misstep, Incubus fans were left wondering what their next album would sound like, or if there would be a next album at all. Luckily, Boyd and co. went back into the studio fully rejuvenated, and Trust Fall (one of two EPs the band plans to release this year) is a glorious return to form. The title track, clocking in at over six minutes, starts off the album by showing off how well drummer José Pasillas and bassist Ben Kinney work as a rhythm section. “Make Out Party” is unexpectedly sludgy for a song about sex, and “Absolution Calling” (the album’s lead single) is proof that, for all their experimentation, Incubus hasn’t forgotten their classic sound.

    The Desired Effect, by Brandon Flowers
    This album is the second solo effort from Killers vocalist Brandon Flowers, and features an impressive roster of musicians, including Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, fellow Killers member Ronnie Vannucci, Jr., and Carlos Alomar, best known for his guitar work on multiple David Bowie albums. Perhaps invigorated by the positive reactions to his first solo album, Flowers achieves a soaring, unpretentious, and unapologetically big pop-rock sound on The Desired Effect. Flowers’ vocals are sharp and punchy, and so is the production, but the choruses are what recommend this album the most. Literally every song on this album has a huge chorus just begging to be shouted back by a stadium full of people. I can only imagine how good they’ll sound on limited-edition yellow vinyl.

    Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous, by Johnny Cash
    The word “timeless” gets thrown around a lot, and is often applied to musicians who don’t really deserve it, but it’s actually apt in Johnny Cash’s case. This album was his second, originally released in 1958, and features a couple of his best known songs (“Big River,” “I Walk the Line”) along with some others that aren’t as widely celebrated (“Don’t Make Me Go,” “I Guess Things Happen That Way”). Johnny’s country/rockabilly roots are more evident here, but he was already developing his own unique sound: sparse, minimalistic, and more plainspoken than that of his Sun Records contemporaries. Which, of course, is precisely why it still endures 57 years later. There wasn’t much like it then, and there’s definitely nothing like it now.

    1000 Forms of Fear, by Sia
    Australian singer/songwriter Sia is notable for two things: her amazing voice, and a refreshing lack of interest in fame or stardom. After releasing her 2010 album We Are Born, Sia decided to quit being a recording artist and focus her energies on songwriting instead. She went on to pen lyrics for Beyoncé, Flo Rida, and Rihanna, among others, but was still contractually obligated to release another album, which turned out to be 1000 Forms of Fear. As we all know, “Chandelier” blew up huge and has already been certified triple platinum, but “Eye of the Needle” and “Elastic Heart” have proven to be strong singles too, and “Dressed In Black” confirms that Sia’s deep cuts are every bit as good as her hits.

    No Fixed Address, by Nickelback
    And speaking of Flo Rida, he makes an unexpected guest appearance on Nickelback’s newest album, released last year on Republic Records. Because Nickelback’s poppy, post-grunge sound is so well established, any alterations they make are going to be noticeable, and No Fixed Address has more than a few. There’s an overtly political song (“Edge of a Revolution”) that the band released as their first single, a song with a horn section and the aforementioned Flo Rida cameo (“Got Me Runnin’ Round”), and other stylistic changes that are obvious, but not invasive. For a band that could very easily coast on past accomplishments at this point in their careers, Nickelback should be applauded for broadening their sound, and even more so for doing it successfully.

    Before This World, by James Taylor
    It took folk-rock legend and one-time Simpsons guest star James Taylor over 40 years, but he finally got a number-one album on the US Billboard 200 chart; Before This World, released in June 2015, holds that honor for him. It was also his first album of original material in 13 years. Before This World was written in almost total isolation, and was partly informed by Taylor’s fear that he couldn’t produce an original album again, but it doesn’t feel lonely or maudlin. Instead, it’s nostalgic and warm, as illustrated by the opening track, “Today Today Today,” and his ode to the Boston Red Sox, “Angels of Fenway.” The production here is spotless too, with sound as clear as the limited-edition vinyl it’s pressed on.

    Man Plans God Laughs, by Public Enemy
    Believe it or not, this is Public Enemy’s 13th album. Their music has progressed a lot since the height of their fame in the late-1980s/early-1990s, but their identity as a group—fierce, clever, angry, unabashedly political—hasn’t changed a bit, and Man Plans God Laughs is proof that P.E. hasn’t lost that inner fire. Producer Gary “G-Wiz” Rinaldo mixes a modern, EDM-influenced sound (inspired by Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Run the Jewels) with the chaotic funk that made Chuck D. and co. famous in the first place; “No Sympathy from the Devil” and “Corplantationopoly” are exemplary of this. Chuck’s delivery is slower and more deliberate on this album than on previous efforts, but his lyrics are more focused than ever.

     

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:53 pm on 2015/06/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , get pop cultured, magic tree house, , , the terminator, , timey wimey   

    10 Times Time Travel Saved the World 

    Time travel is always a complicated proposition. It’s easy to imagine the chaos that would result if someone was able to just flit back into the past and change things, or soar into the future and return with stock tips or laser weapons. That’s why most time travel stories focus on the challenges—should you kill Hitler? What happens if you fall in love with your own grandmother by accident? What’s the rule on repeating a first date 600 times in order to get it right?

    In the ten stories below, all the complications are overcome, and time travel not only works, it actually saves the world. (Warning: spoilers throughout!)

    Doctor Who
    The Doctor has been freewheeling through time since he stole a TARDIS more than 2,000 (subjective) years ago, and he’s saved the earth plenty of times since. Exhibit A: the Season Five finale, “The Big Bang,” wherein the Doctor moves back and forth across thousands of years and literally erases himself from reality in a bid to save the entire universe from destruction (don’t worry, he comes back via the power of Amy Pond).

    Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne
    This magical series has seen its young protagonists Jack and Annie travel from their humble home in Pennsylvania across millions of years, meeting dinosaurs, medieval knights, Egyptian mummies, and soldiers invading Normandy on D-Day, to name a few. What makes this series so special is that it respects children and their capabilities, telling stories of time travel that saves the day over and over again without condescending or doubting for one moment that kids are able to understand complex and occasionally disturbing history lessons—and remaining certain they would rise to the occasion if they were to stumble upon their own magic tree house.

    Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    There’s no clear threat to the world at large in Gabaldon’s fantastic, romantic, adventurous series, but the magic of a time travel story is that you can’t actually say that definitively. After all, Claire and Jamie are embroiled directly in major historical events on several occasions in their adventures. Who’s to say it wasn’t Claire’s presence (or the presence of any number of others who have traveled from the future) who ensured the world’s survival via some unforeseen consequence? That’s a little something called the Power of Love, friends.

    Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu
    Where most time travel stories insist the ability to move through time must be a secret, in Chu’s exciting novel, time travel is the key to humanity’s survival after a disaster drives people off Earth and onto other planets and moons. Traveling to the past to recover necessary resources without altering history too severely, Chronman James Griffin-Mars is stressed to the breaking point, and haunted by the people he has abandoned to the past to die. When he breaks the most fundamental rule of his job by bringing a woman with him into the future, the unintended consequences of his action spur an epic chain of events that ultimately might save the human race.

    The Terminator
    With every new entry in the Terminator film series, the timeline gets more jumbled and convoluted, but one constant remains: people keep traveling back in time to stop Skynet from gaining sentience and trying to destroy humanity…and the robots keep sending back increasingly spiffy Terminators to ensure it does. Since Skynet hasn’t yet launched a genocidal war against us, we have to assume the apparently endless loop of time travel is working so far.

    Donnie Darko
    No one actually understands this film completely, but the fundamental takeaway is that Donnie Darko, by (spoiler alert!) choosing to close his personal time loop and die, saves the world from complete destruction owing to temporal paradox. And you thought your high school years were confusing and difficult.

    Looper
    This underrated film’s internal logic doesn’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny, but up until the final surprise ending it rolls along as one of the best-conceived time travel stories in recent memory, centering on the ultimate personal sacrifice of its protagonist, who realizes at the crucial moment that the only way to prevent his horrifying future is to sacrifice it entirely, thus saving the world from a bloodthirsty madman.

    All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurasaka
    The novel on which the film Edge of Tomorrow is based is one of the best science fiction novels of recent years, telling the story of a futuristic soldier who dies on the battlefield fighting an alien invader—and awakes at the beginning of a stable time loop, doomed to repeat the battle over and over. As in video games, the time loop allows him to hone his skills, learn to avoid deadly mistakes, and slowly figure out how to defeat the alien Mimics who have killed him over and over again. An inventive, modern take on time travel that saves humanity, this is an exciting story that’s equal parts military sci-fi, time travel story, and mystery.

    Lest Darkness Fall, by L. Sprague De Camp
    One of the most influential stories in science fiction history, Lest Darkness Fall is a more subtle example of time travel saving the world. Archaeologist Martin Padway is swept into the 6th century, right before the Eastern Roman empire invades Ostrogothic Italy, unintentionally ushering in the “dark ages.” Using the technological and strategic knowledge of the 20th century, Padway rewrites history, saving Italy and Europe from the ravages of war and saving the world from the Dark Ages altogether—with incredible potential impact on the future.

    11/22/63, by Stephen King
    Another subversion, as King’s story of a time portal to 1958 and one man’s quest to stop the Kennedy assassination ultimately sees him having to save the world from the timey-wimey damage of his own actions in the past. After stopping the assassination, Jake Epping returns to his own time to discover the law of unintended consequences has left the world he knew in ruins—and he must use time travel to save the world by undoing all of his work.

     
  • BN Editors 6:37 pm on 2015/06/19 Permalink
    Tags: get pop cultured, , ,   

    Get Pop-Cultured with Barnes & Noble: Gift Card Sweepstakes 

    Another reason to get excited for Get Pop Cultured in July: customers can enter the Get Pop-Cultured with Barnes & Noble Gift Card Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $1,000 Barnes & Noble Gift Card! 

    To enter, just pop by the NOOK boutique at your local Barnes & Noble store anytime between July 1 and July 31, and look for the specially-created Get Pop-Cultured NOOK App™ on the NOOK devices on display. Need help? Just ask a Bookseller! You must be 21 or older, a resident of the United States, and agree to comply with the Official Rules. No purchase is necessary to enter.

    Now, for the Big Question: What will you buy at Barnes & Noble if you win? 

    We asked some Café customers at our B&N store in New York City’s Union Square what they’d drop a $1000 Barnes & Noble Gift Card on:

    Sharif D.:

    Sharif

    “I’m almost positive I’d spend the whole $1,000 on DVDs, and biographies of movie stars from the 1940s and 50s.”

    What’s your favorite classic movie of all time? 

    “There are too many to list, but probably Rear Window, with Vertigo being a close second. I love the DVD section downstairs—I could stay there for hours. I would just go nuts.”

    Alexey S.: 

    Alexey

    “I would probably buy magazines, books, coffee, and probably some art books as well. Some classics, too.”

    Who are some of your favorite classic authors?

    “The Russians. I’m biased.”

    Carla R.: 

    Carla

    “The first thing I’d do is buy the best NOOK you have—the most expensive! Then I’d fill it with all the eBooks you have on primates—I love primates.”

    Why primates? 

    “I just woke up one morning and started watching this program about orangutans, and from there on it just took off! Chimpanzees, gorillas—I love them all.”

     

     

     
  • Ginni Chen 8:37 pm on 2015/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: get pop cultured, , ,   

    11 Ways to Celebrate the Release of Go Set a Watchman 

    Whoever said “good things come to those who wait” should clarify that the greatest things come to those who wait 161 days. 161 days is precisely the amount of time between the announcement of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman on February 3, and the long-awaited release of the novel on July 14. That’s 161 days of book nerds everywhere holding our collective breath, white-knuckling our beloved copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, and nearly passing out from the sheer anticipation.

    With Go Set a Watchman almost on sale, we’re bubbling over with excitement and planning the perfect way to mark this momentous literary occasion. If you’ve been waiting for this day since you first heard about it, then you’ll want to start planning for these 11 ways to celebrate the release of Harper Lee’s second novel:

    1. Head to Barnes & Noble.
    Visit our Cafe stores from 7am to 10am and get a free tall coffee with your purchase of Go Set a WatchmanPlus, the first 20 customers to buy the book will receive a free exclusive To Kill a Mockingbird reusable tote.

    2. Clear your schedule.
    Call in sick. Very sick. The kind of sick where you can’t possibly be expected to work from home, reply to emails, or take calls. Too conscientious to fake being sick? Fine, take a vacation day.

    3. Call in reinforcements.
    Bring in the dog sitter, cat sitter, babysitter, or the neighbor who waters your plants. You’re going to need them all on this day of celebration, because you will not be doing anything but reading.

    4. Throw a reading party!
    If your friends, family, and book club members are all excited about Go Set Watchman’s release, why not throw a reading party? Fluff up some pillows, round up some comfy chairs, and serve refreshments to your guests. When everyone’s finally done reading the novel from cover to cover, let the discussion begin!

    4. Pack a picnic.
    Feel like enjoying your book outdoors? Location is key. Be sure to pick somewhere with some shade, away from errant Frisbees and distracting noises. Pack yourself a picnic, spread out on a blanket, and slather on the sunscreen. You’ll enjoy your book and the summer weather at the same time!

    5. Build a reading nook for the Big Day.
    You want to be comfortable and cozy for all the reading you’re going to do! String up a hammock, rig a cozy blanket fort, or rearrange your furniture so that your favorite armchair is in just the right place. Heck, you can even build yourself a reading treehouse just for the big event.

    6. Make yourself your favorite meal to eat while reading.
    Fingers foods are a great option while reading, because you never have to put down the book! For the more dexterous multi-tasker, almost anything can be consumed while buried nose-deep in a book if you make it bite-sized—tea sandwiches, chopped salads, spoonfuls of soups, one piece of pasta at a time… Make your favorite snack ahead of time and keep it on hand in your reading nook. You’re going to be there for several hours, so you’ll need the sustenance.

    8. Unplug everything
    I know, I know. You think you couldn’t possibly unplug, but it’s gonna be OK. It’s just one day. You deserve it. No calls, no tweets, no texts, no pings, no rings, no buzzes. Just think of the sweet sound of silence, interrupted only by the soft rustling of paper as you turn a page. Beautiful, isn’t it?

    9. Take yourself and your copy of the book on a date.
    Feel like celebrating but don’t feel like staying at home? Take yourself and your new copy of Go Set a Watchman out around town. Get a mani/pedi while reading your book, take yourself out to a fancy three-course meal with your book, or cuddle on the boardwalk with your book and watch the sunset. You’ll be the envy of every reader who sees you.

    10. Set a reading record for Go Set a Watchman.
    Be the first person to read it at the top of a mountain you hiked up. Or the first person to read it in a kayak, the first person to read it while planking, or the first person to read it while hula-hooping. Make your moment with the new novel fun, unique, and memorable. Then tell everyone you were the first person to read Go Set a Watchman on a trampoline.

    11. Share the literary love.
    Volunteer at a community center or a senior center and read Go Set a Watchman aloud to the elderly or to those in need. You’ll be sharing your excitement for this new novel and making it possible for someone else to enjoy the experience as well.

    How will you be spending Go Set a Watchman Day?

     
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