Tag Archives: reference books

The Film Snob’s Dictionary


Written by David Kamp, The Film Snob’s Dictionary is a fun little reference book with a tongue-in-cheek tone that can help readers learn to b.s. their way through an erudite conversation on film or just help readers learn a little more about filmmakers and terms related to film.

Here are a few entries, chosen randomly, to give you a taste of the book:

Film Threat. Surprisingly buoyant, unsmug Web ‘zine (originally a print magazine) devoted to independent film. Where snobs go to read fulsome appreciations of Sam Raimi and interviews of such Queens of the B’s as Debbie Rochon and Tina Krause. (N.B. The website was bought and taken offline so where will we read these articles about people I never heard of?)

Mankiewicz, Herman. Gruff, whiskey-soaked, cigar chomping, old-school screenwriter par excellence (1807-1953)who bolted from his comfy perch at the Algonquin Round Table to write titles for silent films and screenplays for talkies, famously summoning his friend Ven Hecht west with te line “Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition are idiots.” A dab hand at many genres–he wrote or cowrote Dinner at Eight, the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup and The Pride of the Yankees . . . .

Third Row, The. The only appropriate place for a true cinephile to sit, as per the dictum of  the late snob overlord and belle-lettrist Susan Sontag. Though the third row is said to provide the ideal perch from which to comfortably take in the MISE-EN-SCENE while unobstructed by fellow audience members, New York’s Anthology Film Archives, in 1970, catered to the socio-pathology of Film Snobs by opening its Invisible Cinema . . . .

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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in non-fiction


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Homework: Geography

old map

This week’s topic for my Library Science class was geography. I thought it would be easy, but it took hours and hours. We’re not supposed to use Google or Wikipedia, and while I see their faults, sometimes they offer a quick step to finding the right answers. The databases practically hide atlases. The trouble is ‘atlas’ also appears in so many book titles, fiction and non-fiction.

1. Where is Dutch?

According to The Columbia Gazetteer of the World there are several places with Dutch in their names: Dutch Antilles, Dutch Bay, Dutch East Indies, Dutch Guiana, Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, Dutch Island, Dutch New Guinea, Dutch West Indies. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World has details about each of these places.

According to MIT’s START, there’s a Dutch, West Virginia. I verified this by going to x, which was listed on IPL. There is a Dutch (and Dutch Town and Dutchman) in West Virginia.

I found START by exploring IPL (see question 2). I consider it a reliable source because of MIT’s reputation for excellence in scholarship.

“Dutch.” (2014). START. MIT. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014

“Dutch.” (2014). Global Gazetteer. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014.

2. How do you pronounce Tooele? Where is it?

I first looked in the Merriam Webster Geographic Dictionary in Credo because I thought it would contain pronunciation information. However, Tooele wasn’t listed. Then I went to The Columbia Gazetteer of the World because it was mentioned in class. I did learn Tooele is a city and a county in Utah.

Because I want to become more familiar with IPL, I looked under its Geography listings. There I found MIT’s START, an answering service which uses natural language and artificial intelligence. There I got information on pronouncing Tooele (too-ella).

I trust The Columbia Gazetteer of the World because it was mentioned in class and it does offer basic information. MIT’s reputation for scholarly and technical excellence make me trust START.

“Tooele (city).” Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. Retrieved from on 17 Mar. 2014.
“Tooele (county).” Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. Retrieved from on 17 Mar. 2014.

“Tooele.” START. 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014.

3. I need to do a report on Peru and need to know about religion, language, population, imports & exports, etc. Evaluate the information for depth & currency.

I wanted to investigate Culturegrams so I used the Northbrook Public Library’s subscription. Culturegrams provided facts on all the information needed. To find the import and export data, I had to go to “Graphs and Tables,” which had that information and allows users to customize their presentation of data. They also have a kids’ edition, slideshows, interviews, recipes and much more. For quick facts and brief descriptions, Culturegrams is easy to use and offers a lot of information. The PDF World Report is 8 pages long.

The problem with currency is that each country’s section doesn’t have a definite date or specify when the information, e.g. population was obtained. The site does explain that collecting data from some countries takes more time than others. This is true and would be a issue with any source.

“Peru.” CultureGrams Online Edition. ProQuest, 2014. Web. 16 Mar 2014.

4. Are there any fjords in the U.S.? If so, where?

I went to the U.S. Geological Survey and found that there are fjords in Alaska. Several documents mention Kenai fjords, Glacial Bay fjords, and Alaskan fjords. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World lists one fjord in the U.S. so that wasn’t terribly useful.

The U.S. National Park Service has maps for the Kenai Fjords National Park.

“Fjords.” (2014). The Columbia Gazetteer of the World

“Fjords.” (2014). U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014/

“Kenai Fjords National Park.” (2014). U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014

5. What is the literacy rate in Fiji? How does the literacy rate compare with other Polynesian countries?

According to the CIA World Factbook, Fiji’s 2003 literacy rate is 95.5% for men and 91.9% for women. The data wasn’t very current. An article on Fiji’s government website mentioned that the 2011 UNESCO literacy rate for Fiji was 94%. However, UNESCO’s website does not show a figure for Fiji in 2011 on its website.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Polynesia encompasses a huge triangular area of the east-central Pacific Ocean. The triangle has its apex at the Hawaiian Islands in the north and its base angles at New Zealand (Aotearoa) in the west and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the east. It also includes (from northwest to southeast) Tuvalu, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa), American Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia (Tahiti and the other Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands, and the Tuamotu Archipelago, including the Gambier Islands [formerly the Mangareva Islands]), and Pitcairn Island.”

You can view a chart and interactive world map of literacy rates on UNESCO’s website. To compare the rates you can get a rough idea from the map considering that Polynesia is formed by a triangle with Hawai’i, New Zealand and the Easter Island as its corners or by selecting the countries listed by Encyclopedia Britannica and using UNESCO’s data.

I trust Encyclopedia Britannica as a well known, accurate encyclopedia. The CIA World Fact Book is thorough and well respected. UNESCO is a well known non-government organization and part of the UN that focuses on education and culture. I have never used the Fijian government’s website before, but believe it’s good practice to go to direct sources.

“ACS Girls Urged to Bridge Literacy Gap.” The Fijian Government, 29 Nov. 2013. Web. Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

“International Literacy Data.” (2013). UNESCO. Web Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

“Literacy.” (2014). CIA World Factbook. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from

“Polynesian culture.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

6. Choose two geographical points. Calculate traveling directions between the two points using at least two different services. Compare & evaluate the results.

I chose Northbrook, IL and Montreal Canada. First I tried Rand McNally, but it couldn’t provide information for Canada. Then I went to Mapquest, which I’ve used before. According to Mapquest the trip is 869.91 miles and would take 13 hr., 52 min., based on current traffic.
I haven’t used Bing, Microsoft’s search engine much, so I tried it. The distance Bing came up with is 874.8 miles and a travel time of 13 hr. 42 min. (10 minutes faster than Mapquest’s time, though Bing’s distance is 10 miles farther.

Until about 30 miles into Montreal the routes were identical. I’ve never been to Montreal so I can’t say which is better, but I’m satisfied with these routes.

Finally, I compared this information with Google Maps, which offered two driving routes and showed the route a plane would take. One route would be 14 hrs and 12 min. and the other 14 hrs. 45 min.

By looking at the maps themselves it seems that the routes are comparable, though the driving times differ by an hour. I’d suggest the patron take all these maps and ask whomever they’re visiting or their hotel in Montreal to recommend the best route after they’ve gotten on Canadian Hwy 401, which all three use.

“Northbrook – Montreal.” Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Google Maps. Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.

7. Can you help me find examples of how cultures celebrate with food?

St. Joseph's Day March 19th

St. Joseph’s Day March 19th

You can use our subscription to Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary available through Gale Virtual Reference Library. Look in the General Index at the bottom of the “About this book page.) Under food there are numerous references to food used in celebrations. I trust this resource because I’ve looked through it carefully and both Northbrook Public Library and the Univ. of Illinois subscribe to it.

Gale Virtual Reference Library also has Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, a four volume encyclopedia covering hundreds of cultures. Under each country or ethnicity, there’s a section called Special Occasions.
National Geographic’s website has a good slideshow with information on how food is used in 10 different holidays worldwide. I’m very familiar with national Geographic as an excellent source of cultural information with photos and brief descriptions.
NPR had a story with pictures today (March 20th) about the food used to celebrate Persian New Year.
This sounds like a school assignment and if it was, I’d suggest a few nonfiction books,
such as:

Kids Around the World Celebrate: The Best Feasts and Festivals From Many Lands
Jones, Linda
Introduces a variety of festivals celebrated around the world. Includes recipes and hands-on activities to give a taste of what it is like to be part of a feast or ceremony in another country.

Food and Festivals of China
Liao, Yan
An accurate, comprehensive, and balanced understanding of China, past and present through food and festivals

Festival Foods
Vaughan, Jenny
Presents recipes for foods associated with various festivals and holidays around the world.

Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary: Detailing More Than 3,000 Observances from All 50 States and More Than 100 Nations. Ed. Cherie D. Abbey. 4th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2010. 47. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Ed. Ken Albala. Vol. 3: Asia and Oceania. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011. 73-81. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Persian New Year’s Table Celebrates Nature’s Rebirth Deliciously. (March 20, 2014). NPR. Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

World Celebration Foods. (2014). National Geographic. Web. Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Library and Information Science


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Word(s) of the Week

I’m taking a course in Reference services in grad school. Our first assignment focused on dictionaries. Here’s a part of what I had to find:

1. What is a ‘trustafarian’?  Evaluate the authority of the source you used to locate this definition.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘trustafarian’ as: A wealthy young (white) person with a bohemian lifestyle, typically one who adopts aspects of the appearance and culture of other ethnic groups (esp. Rastafarians) and lives in or frequents a fashionable, multicultural area. Freq. mildly derogatory. Also as adj.

I first tried the slang dictionary on UICU’s library’s website, but found no results. Since I expect OED to have almost every word and impeccable accuracy, I went there. I like that it defined this word, gave sample sentences and states that it’s somewhat derogatory, which helps a patron understand its use more completely.

“Trustafarian, n. (and adj.)”. OED Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. Web. (accessed on February 3, 2014)

2. What is samizdat literature?  Where did the term come from?  When was it first used in the English language? Where was it first used?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, samizdat literature is: The clandestine or illegal copying and distribution of literature (orig. and chiefly in the U.S.S.R.); an ‘underground press’; a text or texts produced by this. Also transf. and attrib. or as adj. Phr. in samizdat, in this form of publication.

Samizdat comes from Russian and was first used in 1967 in The London Times as shown below:

1967   Times 6 Nov. (Russia Suppl.) p. xxii/4   A vast and newly educated [Soviet] not pass around the precious samizdat (unpublished) manuscripts.

Since the question asked for etymological information, I immediately went to the OED, which I learned to use as an undergraduate. It’s a favorite dictionary of mine and well known for its etymology.

“Samizdat, n.”. OED Online.</cite Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. (accessed February 1, 2014).

3. What does IMHO stand for?  Does it have multiple meanings?
According to several dictionaries IMHO stands for “in my humble opinion.” Gale Virtual Reference offers more terms:

Idiots Manage High Office
I Make Humungous Overstatements
Inane Marketing Hold-Over
In My Honest Opinion
In My Humble Opinion [Internet language] [Computer science]

Internet Media House
Inventory of Mental Health Organizations [Department of Health and Human Services] (GFGA)

I searched Credo and found Webster’s New World & Trade Computer Dictionary had a definition. Since “Webster’s” is a name that is no longer copyright protected I wasn’t sure of the source’s credibility, but I was curious about a dictionary of computer terms. Since the patron wondered about multiple meanings I wanted to insure I found all possibilities. Gale Virtual Reference, which I found through Credo and therefore trust, offered a number of meanings, which should satisfy the patron.

“IMHO.” Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary.  Ed. Kristin B. Mallegg. 44th ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. (accessed February 3, 2014.)

“IMHO.” In Webster’s New World & Trade; Computer Dictionary. Hoboken: Wiley, 2003. Web. (accessed February 3, 2014.)

4. What can you tell me about onychotillomania?

According to American Heritage Medical Dictionary, which I accessed through, it’s a noun referring to “a tendency to pick at the fingernails or toenails.” Stedman’s Medical Dictionary confirmed this definition and added that it’s derived from Greek.

Since the term sounds psychological, I consulted a medical dictionary. First I tried because I have never used it and I want to investigate as many sources as possible during this course. While I got a short definition, I wasn’t sure of so I accessed the ebook version of Stedman’s Medical dictionary through UICU’s library. I trust that they offer an accurate medical dictionary.

“Onychotillomania. (n.d.). American Heritage Medical Dictionary. Web. n.d.[accessed February 3rd, 2014].

“Onychotillomania.” Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 28th Ed. Stedman, Thomas Lathrop. Philadelphia : Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2003. Web. [accessed February 3rd, 2014].

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in words


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