By now, you’ve already bought most of your presents - hundreds of copies of “Freedom Run” and “Ozark Mosaic” for all your friends, relatives and strangers at bus terminals- right? But even given those guaranteed stocking stuffers, some of us still have trouble finding a gift that has a little more charm than a gift card or the dreaded Old Spice.
I swear, if anybody gives me Old Spice this year, they’d better like how the damn stuff tastes, because they’ll be drinking it. Same with that Stetson crap.
But threats of bodily harm aside, there are still some gifts that I like to buy folks.
And, of course, if you don’t want to buy these gifts for other people, just buy them for yourself. You’ve earned ‘em. Probably more than they have, when you think about it . . .
Any CDs put out by Jori Costello or Catherine Reed. Not every music store in town has their stuff, but you’ll be greatly rewarded if you seek them out.
You’d sort of expect me to put this in, but if anyone in your family is interested in the world of television, why not buy them a couple of workshops at Community Access Television? Even if they just want to be able to take better “home movies” - whatever they are called now - C.A.T. is the place to go. You’d be amazed at how expensive the classes are not.
Books! Who doesn’t need more books? Who doesn’t like to read? And seriously, if you know people who don’t like to read, why do you know them?
“Conservatize me: How I tried to become a Righty with the help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky” is the hilarious - yet thought provoking - story of writer John Moe’s attempt to become a short-term “conservative.” Along the way he manages to skewer such wretched songs as “The Devil went down to Georgia, and the insipid lyrics of Lee Greenwood.
It’s worth the price of admission, just to read the masterful deconstruction of “The Devil went down to Georgia.” You’ll never listen to it the same way again.
Possession,” by A.S. Byatt is a book I discovered when a guest discussed it on Charlie Moorman’s wonderful series, “Hooked on Books” years ago on Fayetteville Open Channel. It’s an intriguing novel about two modern-day scholars investigating the lives of two poets in the 19th Century. Dry and brittle material, you may sneer. Well, you have no soul and no imagination, my friend. This winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize has it all. Love, academic rivalries, bitter secrets, and startling revelations.
The 2002 movie is pretty good, too, actually, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle. I just wish I knew who the hell has my DVD.
“Winter’s Tale,” by Mark Mark Helprin. It is magical, wondrous, and you mean you haven’t read it yet? I wouldn’t have read this book if someone hadn’t put it into my hands years ago and told me that I had to read it. Well, she was right. I had to read it. This is what a reviewer on amazon.com had to say about “Winter’s Tale”:
“Winter's Tale”, a gorgeous masterpiece by master writer Mark Helprin is a book about the beauty and complexity inherent in the human soul, about God, love and justice and the power of dreams, those that take place while we sleep and those that we conceive while awake.
I can’t add anything to that.
Tired of the second-rate series that the once great Spenser mystery novels have become? Well, while Robert B. Parker just continues to cash checks and bamboozle readers, why not treat the mystery lover you know to the Rebus mystery novels, written by Ian Rankin. The Scottish detective series has all the grit of the 87th Precinct novels, plus a whole more more corruption.
Val McDermid’s excellent series of novels about police psychologist Tony Hill are also a treat. They have been turned into a neat series (Wire in the Blood) on BBC America.
I recently did a show with newly elected alderman Matthew Petty, and we talked about "The Green Collar Economy," by Van Jones, which shows an entirely new way of looking at our lives. It’s a book that isn’t heavy on policy, but has examples that everyone in America can relate to, and understand.
Not to be outdone, local film reviewer Heather Drain also sat down with me recently to discuss one of her favorite books, “RE/Search No. 10: Incredibly Strange Films,” which is a book about American underground films edited by V. Vale, Andrea Juno, Jim Morton and Boyd Rice.
It’s easy to sit back to be a snob and dismiss this stuff out of hand, but you may have a somewhat different view if you look through the book.
And who says I don’t learn anything from my guests?
And as for DVDs? Well, four of the best science fiction series currently on the tube are well represented in local stores.
Primeval, Doctor Who, Torchwood and Battlestar Galactica are all available in DVD. I’d write more, but then I’d be writing all damn night, and who needs that? Certainly not you.
Plus, of course, the British version of The Eleventh Hour (with Patrick Stewart) is available.
Naturally, like all writers, I expect you to drop everything and rush out to the stores, clutching my list in your hand.
Do NOT buy a Christmas puppy!
For god’s sake, don’t buy a puppy! I see the previews for Marley and Me, and wonder how many people plan to surprise the family with a Christmas puppy. Millions of words have been written on why people shouldn’t do this, and yet they do.
Dogs aren’t toys, to be put aside when someone gets bored.
As Tracy and I travel between here and Texas. And here and Oklahoma, we often see dogs abandoned on the highways by the morally unfit, because they are “too much trouble.”
What are these people thinking? That someone will think the dog is adorable, and will adopt it? No, they don’t care what happens to it. And you know what happens to it.
These people are literally too stupid or too mean to take the animal to a shelter, where it at least might have a chance at being adopted.
I’m not kidding about the Old Spice
Try giving me some. You’ll be drinking it.
Quote of the Day
You can make more friends in a month by being interested in them than in ten years by trying to get them interested in you. - Charles L. Allen