The Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide
It is the time of year where Maribou tells me that I need to drive her to the post office so we can mail presents to her family. “Holiday” is upon us once again. Whether you come from a background where you deliberately avoid saying “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Channukah”, “Happy Kwanzaa”, “Blessed Eid”, or “Get Bent” in favor of “Happy Holidays!”, we all have one thing in common: at least one person that we know better than to believe them when they say “oh, you don’t have to get me anything.” While I have a Maribou to whom to outsource Holiday, I feel for those of you who are Maribouless this Holiday Season and I would like to help you all out with a Holiday Gift Shopping Guide.
This last year saw a surprising number of really good movies for the kids. Foremost among which was Winnie the Pooh. This is one of those movies that is charming as heck and leaves you wanting more… not just “I wish it were longer” but “I can’t believe that they greenlit Hop.” It’s a movie that you won’t mind being asked to play for the umpteenth time. In a similar vein, Kung Fu Panda 2 delivers pretty much everything that you would expect (even if not everything you might hope for). Perfect for somewhat older kids. If your kids are even older than that, though, they will enjoy X-Men: First Class. Far and away the best Superhero movie this year, it pulls off a difficult trick: it’s enjoyable as a trifle with lots of special effects, it’s enjoyable as a reasonable starting point for a serious discussion about “the real world”.
Maribou tells me that The King’s Speech is really good if you’re into that whole “actual script” thing.
When it comes to video games, there are a number of couplets that I can say are worth exploring. Skyrim is an absolutely amazing American RPG that is chock to overflowing with options for your very own customizable hero, dozens (hundreds!) of sidequests, and hours (like, 80+) of gameplay. If you’re looking for this same kind of gameplay (a cousin, if you’re into the whole family resemblance thing), Fallout 3 gives a “nuclear wasteland” experience of the American RPG for a mere $20.
If you’re not into the RPG thing as much as the action/adventure/platformer/Batman Simulator thing, Arkham City will give you a sandbox to fight in. The voice actors are at the absolute top of their game which works perfectly with how the writers are at the top of their own. Amazing gameplay, amazing story, be sure to stick around for the closing credits to hear the song of the year. Arkham Asylum is the game to which Arkham City is the sequel and it is a pre-requisite, if you ask me. The game of the year version of Arkham Asylum is available for $20.
If you’re thinking about the music lover in your life, there are a handful of albums from the last couple of years that will tickle them pink (no, I’m not going to recommend Pink’s album… that’s probably one that they already have if they’re into that sort of thing).
Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials is absolutely amazing and one of those “perfect” albums where everything down to the order of the songs leaves you impressed. Maribou has been listening to The King Is Dead a lot more often than I would have. Now, I have not heard even a single song from the album yet but I only just found out today that Kate Bush has a new album! 50 Words for Snow is something that I will be getting in this coming week (tomorrow, if possible).
And, when it comes to books, I asked Maribou to give me her recommendations for this year. She said that she had three books and five comic books to recommend:
Fauna, by Alyssa York (apparently a modern-day fable set in Toronto), Among Others, by Jo Walton (modern fantasy set in Wales), and, for you non-fiction fans, Ant by Charlotte Sleigh ( a discussion of us, as a society, using how we have looked at ants as a starting point).
For comic books, she recommends Picture This! by Lynda Barry, The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, Astro City by Kurt Busiek, Bayou by Jeremy Love, and The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay.
While we cannot affirm that these gifts will please everyone on your list, I’m pretty sure that something on here will please everybody for whom a Snuggie would not be a better gift. (Oh, I should mention: For the person in your life who plays a lot of video games? A Snuggie is, in fact, a perfect gift.)
From us and ours to you and yours: Happy Holiday, everyone.