Category Archives: Entertainment

Holiday Gift Ideas For the Bibliophile, the Movie Buff, the Geek, the Nerd

Happy holidays!

I apologize for the delay. But it’s up now. Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of holiday gift ideas for the bibliophile, the movie buff, the nerd or geek (or all of the above, as I would lay claim to). If you’re curious about what I included on my Holiday Gift Idea for 2010, check it out here.

Books:

  • Any Empire by Nate Powell. I read Powell’s Swallow Me Whole in 2011, and it was one of my favorites. Powell tackles difficult subject matter (mental illness, war, drugs) in a very unique way, both visually and linguistically.
  • Arguably by Christopher Hitchens. His way with words never ceases to astound me; he manages to intertwine the eloquent, the most delicate, with the most biting and critical sentiment. It routinely makes for an evocative, thought-provoking read. Even if you are a believer (he writes of his atheism quite often), his books are important, I think. Arguably is a collection of his essays, which I presume to be inclusive of religion, politics, et al.
  • Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. I learned of Oliver through Jessica. She always went on and on about him. Now I see why. His writing is funny, heartfelt. His illustration is beautiful, inspired. I’ve read most of his books since my initial introduction. Plus, we’ve met him!
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. This is an older book, published in 2007, but I am including it because of Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation, Hugo. The book is wonderful, magical and inspiring. It’ll make your heart leap. As for the film adaptation, which came out a few weeks back, it’s also quite wonderful. Read the book, see the movie. The order doesn’t matter. Just do both.
  • Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey by Bob McCabe. If you love the world of Harry Potter (I do!), this is for you. The books are great, the films are excellent. Great production all around.
  • Stick by Andrew Smith. After reading Smith’s The Marbury Lens, I knew that I’d continue reading his books. Stick, his latest, is wonderfully wrought with genuine, believable character, emotion, relationship. One of my favorite books of 2011.
  • Ghost Lights by Lydia Millet. I haven’t read this one–it’s the second book in a trilogy–but I do feel comfortable recommending Lydia Millet. She’s a stellar writer. I’ve read My Happy Life, Everyone’s Pretty and Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, all of which are outstanding. If you haven’t heard of Millet and you want to get a taste, start with Everyone’s Pretty. Then pick up the first book in this trilogy, How The Dead Dream. You won’t regret it. She also had a Middle Reader book come out this year, titled The Fires Beneath the Sea. Adding to my ever-expanding to-read list!
  • Habibi by Craig Thompson. This is another book I have yet to read, but we do own it (isn’t this the predicament for most bibliophiles? sigh). Thompson is most known for Blankets, which I thought was unique, and a solid bit of storytelling. Habibi looks to be the same.
  • Feynman by Jim Ottaviani. Okay, this is the last book I haven’t read, and the last of the books. I added it because I want to get it myself! This is a graphic novel about Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Color me intrigued! This past year I read the graphic novel Logicomix, which was a biography about Bertrand Russell. I really enjoyed it. Feynman seems to be similar, at least in its style and approach.

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

DVDs/Blu-Rays:

  • Harry Potter: The Complete 8 Film Collection on Blu-Ray. Now, the purists would probably hold out for the inevitable release of the more special features-laden edition, some time next year. But I think this is a great collection if you want the movies, and aren’t as interested in the special features. Still, you have all 8 movies in one package. That’s hard to beat!
  • Bridesmaids on DVD. I went to see this with my wife, mom-in-law and sis-in-law. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It’s hilarious. Great gift for friends, or brides t0-be!
  • Beginners on DVD. One of the more emotional journeys of 2011. Great acting by Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer (or, as I always see him, Captain Von Trapp). Truly unique look at coping with loss, and finding one’s way.
  • X-Men: First Class on Blu-Ray. My favorite “superhero” movie of 2011. The design of the sets are pretty and right for the time period. The choice to cast McAvoy and Fassbender to play Xavier and Magneto, respectively, was perfect. The side characters are fun. The villains are cool, especially Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. Sharp, quality writing, exciting action, good film all-around.
  • Super 8 on Blu-Ray. I think my overall favorite film of the year. It does, as many of the critics have said, bring you back to the magic and wonder of some of the earlier Spielberg movies. It’s frightening at  times, heartwarming at times. A must see.
  • Buck on DVD. This, I have yet to see. It’s on my to-see list. But I have heard such wonderful things. Inspiring things. Happy things. It’s a true story, it has horses (yes, please) and it’s great for the whole family.
  • Community Seasons 1& 2 on DVD. One of our favorite T.V. comedies (along with Psych). Quality writing, gut-busting comedy, genuine and likeable characters. Must watch. Also, there’s a bit of uncertainty about the next season, so this could be your way of showing support!
  • Justified Season 1 on DVD. Timothy Olyphant cannot do wrong. I even liked him as Hit Man. This is a great show. Protagonists you love to love; antagonists you love to hate. Western-like elements, and super suspense! Season 2 will be out on DVD January 3, 2012.
  • Sherlock Season 1 on DVD. Sherlock Holmes in the modern day! Brilliant. Martin Freeman (of The Office and soon to be The Hobbit) plays Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, Cumberbatch, and a superb actor) plays Holmes. Truly great show. And mysteries we haven’t seen before.
  • The Rocketeer on Blu-Ray. The Rocketeer! On Blu-Ray! I adore this movie. One of Joe Johnston’s best. Great family fun and adventure.
  • Jurassic Park Trilogy on Blu-Ray. I remember seeing the first film in the movie theater. My mother sat beside me and dug her nails into my arm at a constant. Rightfully so, I think. It’s genuinely scary. I think it still holds up today. The next two movies in the trilogy (The Lost World and JP 3) aren’t as great, but they are surely enjoyable. To me, if it has dinosaurs, I’m going to watch it.

The Rocketeer on Blu-Ray

Music:

  • Ceremonials by Florence + the Machine. To be honest, I haven’t heard this album in its entirety yet, but I did love what I listened to. I very much love Lungs (one of their other albums), and I don’t see this being any different. Powerful vocals, good pop sound.
  • A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him. This, we have. It’s lovely. M. Ward, with his guitar work and the gravelly intonation; Zooey Deschanel, with her silky, soft, makes you want to dance giddy-like through fields of dandelions voice; the two of them combined, well, it’s simply magical.
  • Tumble Bee by Laura Veirs. Whimsical folksy music. This one for kids! Beautiful music, fine strums, storytelling language.
  • All Eternals Deck by The Mountain Goats. This came out back in March of this year, but if you have not listened, please do. The Mountain Goats, led by the unparalleled John Darnielle, creates mesmerizing folk rock. Darnielle’s lyrics are truly one-of-a-kind. Poetic, bold, lush in sentiment, intent.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, score by Alexandre Desplat. I love the HP film scores. Both whimsical and intense. I have most of them on CD. Definitely worth a listen.
  • Super 8, score by Michael Giacchino. Think adventure and fright and childhood. Wonderfully apt score for a wonderfully pleasant movie.
  • The Muppets, music (for the most part) by Bret McKenzie. Very enjoyable, fun, happy, makes you want to do cartwheels-type of music. Fun for the whole family.
  • Hugo, score by Howard Shore. Okay, I love film scores. I love to listen to them in my car and perhaps act out the scene. For instance, if I’m listening to Raiders of the Lost Ark, I am Indy. So, Hugo. Wonderful tunes. Get it.

Tumble Bee from Laura Veirs

General Geekery, Nerdery, Tomfoolery:

  • Bearmageddon merchandise. If you haven’t read the ongoing web comic, Bearmageddon, you are a butt face. Read it. It’s fun. I mean, hell, it’s replete with crazy bear octopus evil villain types. And it’s free! You can support the writer/creator, Ethan Nicolle, by purchasing a t-shirt or poster.
  • Knock Knock Notepads. We love these, and use the All Out Of shopping list all the time. They have notepads for the practical, the funny, the neurotic. Great stocking stuffer gifts.
  • Amazing Breaker. I didn’t think I’d enjoy a game more than Angry Birds. I do. It’s this. Only 99 cents!
  • Firefly Les Femmes Posters. I’m a self-professed browncoat. Yes, I am.
  • Captain America Hoodie. Do you love America? Do you love being cozy? Then you’ll love this!
  • The Walking Dead Board Game. If you’re into the comic and/or the television show, I think this is a fun purchase. Zombies! Survival! Christmas!
  • GRID-IT! Organizer. Fits your iPod, digital camera, wires and such. Keeps things neat and tidy.
  • Rory’s Story Cubes. This is great for kids and adults. Super imagination, creativity outlet.
  • Curiosities – Vintage Inspired Adornments for Correspondence. This is perfect for those fond of handwritten letters, crafts and vintage-style decor.

Bearmageddon by Ethan Nicolle

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Books, Movies, Cereal for Dinner

Sometimes I’d rather spend money on books and movies than eat. It’s true. And I suspect that this desire would be much more pronounced if I were, let’s say, a hermit. Oh man. I would be starving, yet my home would be made of books. Literally. But only those big, throwaway hardcover John Grisham novels. Yes, I’d eat cereal for dinner three times a week, but I’d have so much money to spend on books and DVDs and all of the finest relevant accoutrements: cozy reading chairs, library ladders, decadent decanters, entertainment centers, special/limited/for-one-time-only blu-ray/dvd movie packages.

Thank goodness for Jessica. While we may eat cereal for dinner every once in a while, it’s not on par with hermit-hood. And I am especially thankful that she loves movies and books too. We can immerse ourselves and still find a good meal, here and there.

But we will have our Beauty and the Beast library, so help me Santa Claus.

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Bizarro Sleep Jessica

Nary a night passes without encountering the sleeping, alternative, bizarro version of Jessica. It goes like this: she falls asleep, waits 45-minutes, and then either talks in gibberish, screams out, sits up while talking in gibberish or screaming out or both, or gets out of the bed entirely, only to disturb, frighten and off-put myself and Scooby.

It isn’t her fault, of course. But there does seem to be a connection between her stress levels and these occurrences. And that, I’d claim, is within her control.

To better clarify and depict, I am going to present a hypothetical scenario; something that is wholly possible and very much similar to real life.

Jessica falls asleep at 10:30pm. The pillow beneath her head is a haphazard lump, punched and squished and balled up for maximum support and softness. Non is awake, playing with the iPad, or reading a book by headlamp light.

Jessica: “What are you so there No it’s not going to linens! He’s afraid no carpet peanut butter why don’t you stop but…”

Non: “Jessica, Jessica, you’re asleep.”

Jessica: “What, no. No.”

Non: “Jessica, it’s okay. Go back to sleep.”

Jessica: “What are you, no, he’s down here.”

Non: “Who’s down here?”

Jessica: “But he is. No, jellybeans.

Non: “I love jellybeans. Come on, you’re asleep, you need to get back to bed.”

Jessica is sitting up in bed now, reaching over the side for something.

Jessica: “No, but it’s here. No, what are you doing?”

Non: “I’ll just put it out of its misery.”

Jessica: “No, but it’s scared.”

Non: “Exactly. Scaredy cats must die.”

Jessica: “It’s Marmaduke.”

Non: “Dog, cat, same difference.”

Jessica: “But…the yarn.”

Non: “Yarn isn’t going to help this one.”

Jessica: “….”

Non: “Say goodbye.”

Jessica: “But…”

Non: “Jessica, it’s okay, just go back to sleep.”

Jessica: “But, he’s not knowing…”

Non: “Jessica, he can’t know.”

Jessica: “What?”

Non: “He can’t know. He’s only made of polenta.”

At this point, Jessica is just starting to wake, but is still very much out of it.

Jessica: “What?”

And here she kind of groans.

Non: “Polenta can’t reason. No brains in there.”

Jessica: “Brains?”

Non: “That’s right. Brains are good.”

Jessica: “….”

Non: “Yummy, yummy brains brains.”

Jessica: “….”

Non: “Go to sleep Jessica.”

Jessica lays her head back onto the balled up pillow, squishes her pink face blanket into her cheek. Non goes back to iPad or book.

It’s the prodding that makes it all worth it.

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Ellen Page, I Love You

Ellen Page is adorable. Uh-door-uh-bull.

Seriously, she can’t do wrong. Even in Super, in which she plays a disturbingly unhinged sociopath, she remains adorable. I mean, hell, her sidekick name is ‘Boltie.’ Boltie! It’s like if Zeus’ thunderbolt had relations with some trailer trash version of a thunderbolt (let’s call it ‘Bolto’) and then Bolto consequently popped out a mini Bolt, which we can now call Boltie.

Same is true for Hard Candy. Again, her character was somewhat deranged. But an adorable version of derangement!

And of course all the rest of them. Whip It. Juno. Inception! Even the dung lover’s pizza that is X-Men:Last Stand.

Need I say more?

I think not.

Ellen, keep doing what you’re doing. You are wonderfully talented, hilarious and adorable.

Gush.

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My Children, the Troll Fighting, Bloody-Kneed Individualists

I want my children to grow up in a world that provides them with a choice. I want them to weigh options and learn from their mistakes. I want them to grow up and discover what is best for them as individuals. I want them to learn that they alone know what is best for their needs. I want them to choose, without the philosophical meddling of their parents.

I want them to get dirty and break bones. I want them to use their imagination, build forts, fight trolls in the backyard.

But I suppose I’m simply meddling. Yearning for something that is mostly out of my control. As is just and moral. I want my children to be individuals first. Family members second, if they so choose.

Mostly, I want for them to want that too. And so I sit here wanting and wishing, in realization that I am already meddling; in realization that I am romanticizing the entire notion. I admit it. I have a weak spot for troll fighting, bloody-kneed individualists.

*Note: we do not have children. Not yet anyhow. And I am fairly certain Jessica hopes that they wait to brandish swords. You know, at least until the breach the surface.

Wonder King Wiki - Courtesy of Wiki Commons

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Crusty Ovals of Cough Syrup-y Goodness

I have a fondness for jelly beans. But not the Jelly Belly brand jelly beans. I like the ones that are about three times the size of those. The ones with the mildly crusty shell that may or may not be the result of old age, having sat on the store shelf for Easters past. The ones with the purples that taste of cough syrup and the white ones that taste of a mix between the “mystery” AirHead flavor and coconut.

You see, I have what one could claim as an old-fashioned sense of taste in sweets. I adore black licorice. Hard candies. Peppermints. Horehound. And I often joke that I pay young neighborhood kids in lemon drops for mowing the lawn and pulling weeds in the yard.

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