Christmas presents are great, sure, and always welcome, yeah, but can get really boring, really quickly. Recently, my friend Sarah, an inexhaustible blogger and prolific Tweeter (@erniebufflo), put it best when she took to the social networks to call out holiday dullards, decreeing that "people who ask for gift cards for Christmas deserve switches and coal, period." But even the best of hand-picked gifts, chosen anonymously on the Internet, constructed by strangers and anonymously shipped to your house, can lack personality. That's why we've wrangled up five of our favorite, Arkansas-made wares, all ready to add a little local flavor to your stocking.
1. Matt Owen posters
Websavvy people, you may have seen these posters floating around the Internet tubes over the last few months. We did and, boy howdy, you could have knocked us over with a feather when we found out that not only can you buy them, but they're from the brain of a fellow Little Rocker. Art designer Matt Owen's minimalist posters for classic American movies (from "Cool Hand Luke" to "There Will Be Blood") are stylish, funny and would look great behind glass. Even better, his series for both the "Back to the Future" trilogy (the DeLorean's famous, flaming skid marks on a road, a cloudscape and a railroad track, respectively) and the "Rocky" flicks (different stylized boxing shorts for each film in front of a slate grey background) would look great together as a set. The prints start at $11.40 for an 11"x16" mini-print and run up to $61 for a huge 40"x60" gargantuan. Thirty-five flavors of poster are available at bit.ly/mattowenposters.
2. Bluesboy Jag guitars
Bill Jagitsch, better known as Bluesboy Jag, Little Rock's traditional rhythm and blues torchbearer, isn't just a mainstay on local stages, he's also one of the most prolific, talented designers of hand-crafted cigar box guitars you'll find anywhere. His online store (at bit.ly/bluesboyjag) is full of gorgeous, quirked-out electric cigar box guitars, hard cases, jury-rigged bass drums and beautifully humble amplifiers. (We dare you not to go weak in the knees for his Black Punch Cigar Box Amp.) They're all great for the adventurous musician on your shopping docket, not to mention any wide-eyed home decorator on your "nice" list. It'd be a shame not to play them, but we'll admit that the guitars would look pretty great hung on a wall. To make the deal sweeter, Jag is currently running a Christmas special, knocking $50 off any guitar in stock.
3. Phil Chambliss films
Hypnotically disjointed, gorgeously amateur and infinitely quotable ("Hey pilgrim, this ain't no Mayflower Motel!"), the films of Phil Chambliss, Locust Bayou folk-film director, have long been a part of the line-ups of progressive film festivals around the South that embrace his rootsy, locally cast visions of a twisted South. For more than 30 years, the former security guard has been the Orson Welles of Ouachita County, a backwoods auteur — think Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County directed dirt-cheap by a grizzled Max Fischer from "Rushmore" — whose movies are undeniably unlike anything else around, anywhere. Simply put, Chambliss has more imagination than any blockbuster director, not to mention most art-house critical darlings. Few things this endearing are ever as flat-out entertaining. Get all 10 of his films on DVD by sending a money order for $75 to Chambliss Fables, P.O. Box 571, Bearden, AR, 71720.
4. "We Ate the Book" comics
Founded by locals Michael Inscoe, Philip Huddleston and Thom Asewicz, the small-house publishing company started up last year to quiet but high praise and has since kept churning out chapbook comics that slice down the line of navel-gazing mumblecore, self-depreciating postmodernism (check out their nod to both Kafka and "Imogene's Antlers" in "New Growing Antlers"), and good, old-fashioned Woody Allen sexual neurosis. Radical in their approach, the stories within are more Tumblr than Tolstoy and they benefit from it every page of the way. Consider them great stocking stuffers for your too-cool-to-live cousins. The aforementioned "Antlers," as well as "8FEBAR2010" and "Snapshots," are available at The House, Electric Heart Tattoos and Collector's Edition Comics in North Little Rock.
5. Post Familie Delawine
So Four Loko was outlawed (not that Arkansas got the infamous, full-throttled, 12.0 percent brew, anyway), provoking fiery, certainly slurred, ire from competitive weekend drunks. But there's still Post Delawine, Altus' butt-clenchingly acerbic dinner wine that weighs in at 19.0 percent and tastes like seared grape peels poured from an ankle sock, which, compared to the trendy Four Loko, is a Michelin-starred compliment to the vintner. We at the Times don't endorse binge drinking, but what's a holiday without two too many? May as well get your money's worth while you're at it. Delawine is available at your neighborhood wine and spirits store.