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Take Me to Your Leader by Ian Harrison [$25.00]

Karen Zarker

Recall the day you gazed upon the weirdo in your life and finally accepted that yes, he really is an alien, just like he's been saying all these years? This book, a guide to an alien's first visit to Earth, is your peace offering, for all the years you made fun of him. For example, little alien, if someone pulls a gurning on you, frightening as a "fish face" is, do not fear, it is not a threat. It's just... human. Billed as an "... irreverent, sideways look at the many bizarre occurrences on our sometimes twisted planet...", this book is filled with facts about human behavior and expression that will have the most stout believer in his familial roots wishing he that he, too, were from another planet. Ian Harrison's collection of "arcane and interesting information" is, well, funny and... weird. Just like your little friend.

Monster Spotter's Guide to North America by Scott Francis [$14.99]

I worked with a guy who believed the stories from X-Files were real. I mean really real -- and not just the conspiracy stuff, but the monsters, too. Who doesn't know someone who, despite being well past the age one should hang on to their "child-like imagination" secretly harbors -- or not so secretly harbors -- a belief in monsters? Who still doesn't get that feeling, sometimes, that they're being followed by something under-worldly? With this book in hand, light-weight hiking boots on feet (the better for traction and speed, when he must turn and run), your monster hunter can hop in his Hyundai and be there -- right there... that is somewhere... in the forests of Wisconsin, binoculars in hand, ready to spot the legendary Hodag that chases down and gores lumberjacks, or bird watchers -- whatever. This is a terrifyingly fun stocking-stuffer for the monsterly inclined, be they explorer inclined to see for themselves, or storyteller in need of fresh ideas.

Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science's Outer Edge by Mark Pilkington [$11.95]

And for those who truly believed the stories from X-Files were real, especially the alien conspiracy ones, well, this little handful of a book will prove them right. Just one example: not long after the Wright Brother's first flight, an Ohio teen created the first electrogravity field, causing a glass tube to spin (the prelude to a flying saucer's hover) -- in his garage. But did the US government know about it way back then? Our gentle reader might ask. Well, if it didn't then, it does, now, and it knows a lot more about early inventions, bizarre dreams become reality, and otherworldly phenomena going on about us, right now -- and who's responsible for it. Whatever became of young Thomas Brown is not disclosed... but still, this beats any science textbook your beloved geek will ever read.

'Psycho': The Mother of All Horrors

Psycho stands out not only for being one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, it is also one of his most influential. It has been a template and source material for an almost endless succession of later horror films, making it appropriate to identify it as the mother of all horror films.

Francesc Quilis
Film

The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti (By the Book)

With discussions of characters like Leon Ray Livingston (a.k.a. "A-No. 1"), credited with consolidating the entire system of hobo communication in the 1910s, and Kathy Zuckerman, better known as the surf icon "Gidget", Susan A. Phillips' lavishly illustrated The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, excerpted here from Yale University Press, tells stories of small moments that collectively build into broad statements about power, memory, landscape, and history itself.

Susan A. Phillips
Books

The 10 Best Indie Pop Albums of 2009

Indie pop in 2009 was about all young energy and autumnal melancholy, about the rush you feel when you first hear an exciting new band, and the bittersweet feeling you get when your favorite band calls it quits.

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