It’s that time of year, where a fat, bearded man asks you what you want for the holidays. This year, Unwinnable has put together a holiday gift guide so you have an answer for him.
Are you pondering DJing your company’s holiday party? Are you aching to read about Donald Duck saving Christmas? Do you miss Avatar: The Last Airbender? Maybe you’re looking for something more perennial, like a DVD combo pack of Silent Night, Deadly Night and Silent Night, Deadly Night 2?
Here we go…
I always love to get books as gifts – there is nothing better than lounging around on Christmas day, tearing through a good, thought-provoking book (or flipping through, just looking at the pictures). Here, then, are some that will feed brains and entertain!
Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard – Essentially a chronicle of the making of Jaws, this book stands out for two reasons. First, it is immensely detailed. Second, it focuses on the local participants in the film, a viewpoint that has been overlooked until now. Flip through it while watching the Blu-ray remaster of the movie.
i am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Video Games of the ’80’s – A collection of game-inspired artwork from L.A.’s amazing i am 8-bit gallery. This, and just about everything else in their store, is the stuff that nostalgic dreams are made of.
The Lands of Ice and Fire – If you’ve read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, you’ve practically memorized the map of Westeros that is at the front of each of the other books. But what about the rest of the world? This collection of poster maps is the answer. Since it will be eons until the next book comes back, I will take any new material I can get.
How to Do Things with Videogames – Ian Bogost’s collection of short philosophical essays on videogames remains one of the best books I’ve read on the subject. For a gamer, to expand their mind, or for a non-gamer, to show them what they are missing.
As Unwinnable’s resident DJ, my pick is Numark’s iDJ Pro. This device could re-revolutionize DJing. The iDJ Pro is a twin platter DJ interface for an iPad and works seamlessly with Algoriddim’s DJ app. While this is a bit larger than Numark’s iDJ Live and Ion’s iDJ2GO, it is a hell of a lot sturdier. It also has all the knobs, bells and whistles one would expect from a more professional device. If you’re looking to step up your game, then this is the digital DJ device for you.
The first time I heard about Carl Barks, I was working Wizard World 2001 in Chicago. One of the panel theaters was named after the famed cartoonist but I had no idea who he was. So, I asked my boss. He then schooled me on just who Carl Barks was and scrounged up a couple of Gladstone Uncle Scrooge reprints for me to read. I was in awe of Mr. Barks’ storytelling (and excited to find out just where Duck Tales came from).
To know Carl Barks’ work is to know how great comics can truly be. Last year, Fantagraphics released the first in their Carl Barks Donald Duck hardcovers with Lost in the Andes. This year, their collection is a bit more seasonal, but no less classic. A Christmas for Shacktown is the third published volume of Carl Barks’ collected works from Fantagraphics. The book is full of some of Barks’ best adventure strips like “The Golden Helmet” and the first appearance of Gyro Gearloose. If you grew up loving Duck Tales, this is the chance to see where it all came from and to admire one of the most celebrated comic book artists of all time.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It clouds our memories, makes us remember things more fondly than they were. Often, when we revisit things we’re nostalgic about, they’re just not the same. It’s extra special, then, when we can go back to something and have it recall all of the fond memories and feelings we had the first time we experienced it. That’s the case for me with Power Rangers, specifically the first several seasons. That’s why I’m super excited about Time Life’s Power Rangers: From Mighty Morphin’ to Lost Galaxy, a two-box, 40-disc, seven season, 338-episode colossus of spandex-clad martial arts insanity.
The show calls back to a simpler time, when I didn’t have to worry about struggling to pay rent or gaining weight or pulling my back lifting something heavy. When you watched Power Rangers, you felt awesome. After all, the Rangers were teenagers, just like you and me! Chosen for greatness, like so many of us wished we could be. If you can handle the heavy-handed moral lessons and the ridiculous schemes that the big bads come up with, there’s a lot of simple, mindless fun to be had with a massive box of DVDs about kids riding in giant robots and punching monsters to death.
Despite the inroads made by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and Apple (among others) in trying to convince us all that a 7” tablet is ideal, it’s still the 10” tablet that’s king. And with the help of Samsung, Google has produced a tablet worth sharing: the Google Nexus 10 Tablet (available in both 16GB and 32GB models). Built on Android 4.2 Jellybean with support for multiple users, with a desktop resolution and processor both well ahead of the iPad, it looks like the king is dead; long live the king (provided it stays in stock, anyway)!
The three-part graphic novel series Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise was one of my highlights this year. Sure, it’s not as good as the series itself, but for Airbender fans, especially ones who were a little disappointed by The Legend of Korra miniseries that aired last spring, The Promise is a welcome return to the original Team Avatar. I found that the series’ attempt to be political was stifled by its need to remain kid-friendly, but it still manages to capture the characters’ personalities and conflicts, even drawing lovebirds Katara and Aang into opposite sides of an increasingly muddled war. Plus, Toph kicks ass, Zuko has another emo coma, Mai is a flawless bitch and Sokka manages to be both brilliant and idiotic at the same time. You can buy The Promise as three separate paperbacks, or now as a complete hardcover edition, and the best part about it is the third teases the start of another graphic novel series, The Search, which will apparently answer Jinora’s question from Legend of Korra, episode 1: “What happened to Zuko’s mother?”
The best gift you could give to your Mac/PC/Linux tinkerers is that awesome hard drive upgrade. Regardless of your platform, the OCZ 512GB solid state drive screams! It’s simple and it is the wave of the future. Gaming, coding and just general use on your computer choice will be faster and more reliable. People are always looking for that practical thing that you’ll use every day, right? Look no further. Merry Christmas.
Habibi, by Craig Thompson, is one heckuva graphic novel for a gift. It’s massive, it’s beautifully drawn and it obsesses over gender roles and slavery/domination throughout the history of Islam. Ideal for Christmas. But truly, this novel is as dense in script and dialogue as it is in imagery.
And if your ideal gift recipient already has that comic and every other comic you can think of? Get the galoot some nice shoes. Shoes, I tells ya! Shoes make the man, and most men can use a shoe upgrade. My blanket vote for good men’s shoes is Steve Madden. Long-lasting materials; lovely, understated style; reasonable price. Start with these if you’re lost…they DO have the word “gamer” in the name.
While we don’t actually endorse buying the Silent Night, Deadly Night/Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 DVD combo pack, we do recommend watching one of the worst scenes in cinema history. Behold!
There, we just saved you some three odd hours and ten bucks.
@TeamUnwinnable will gladly provide team members’ Amazon Wish Lists upon request. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.