The Fourth Annual Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide
Now, of course, I stand by all of the recommendations for years past if you’re looking for a good gift for the person who usually has everything but time to shop for him or herself. 2014, however, had a bunch of awesome stuff come out too. As such, it’s incumbent upon me to point out a handful of awesome movies, shows, albums, books, and vidja games that, with a little bit of luck, will have you hearing “Oh, awesome! I meant to get this!” and not “I got this back in July.”
Now, when it comes to movies, the biggest one of the year is, of course, Guardians of the Galaxy. The other big comic book movie Blu-ray event from this year was X-Men: Days of Future Past. If you haven’t seen it, ask the person you’re giving it to about the scene with Quicksilver. You’ll dig it even if you usually hate comic book movies (you might not want to see the rest of the film, mind… but you will dig that scene). Now, if you want to get an action movie for someone who hates comic book movies, there’s Noah. We can discuss that one in the comments, if you’d like (no obvious jokes, please). If your friends are the type to want to watch a movie and then argue about it, I thought that Her was thought-provoking even if many of the thoughts involved “why didn’t they do *THIS*?” Our very own Kimmie recommends Welcome to the Space Show. She says that it “unfolds with a sense of wonder, sheer joy at the worlds that they’ve built” and that it is “cotton candy and champagne, light and airy and wonderful”. We could all use a little bit of that.
When it comes to television shows, Maribou and I have found ourselves addicted to Person of Interest. It’s a show that has us turning to each other after an episode and saying “do you want to watch another?” the way that the first couple of seasons of Chuck and Burn Notice did. True Detective was a surprisingly smart cop show that had monologues worth the price of admission. Now, for kids, Maribou tells me that The Legend of Korra is an awesome show that carries on with the story from Avatar: The Last Airbender. (After finishing Season Two she pre-ordered Season Three that same day.)
When it comes to albums, I thought that Alt-J’s This Is All Yours was as good as last year’s An Awesome Wave. Pink Floyd’s The Endless River is the last Pink Floyd album and it’s an album from another era. If it reminds me of anything, it reminds me of Wish You Were Here because almost the entire album is instrumental ambient music. It’s a good album to listen to when you have company over for dinner. It’s the last time you can listen to a Pink Floyd album for the first time.
Now, I also know that my taste in music might be stuck in a previous era so I asked Chris to give some recommendations for music and he pointed out Ice Age’s Plowing Into the Field of Love (punk), Mr. Twin Sister’s Mr Twin Sister (disco), Lykke Li’s I Never Learn (electronica), Ought’s More Than Any Other Day (post-punk), Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron (hip-hop), Talib Kweli’s Gravitas (hip-hop), Music Go Music’s Impressions (pop), The Juan Maclean’s In A Dream (electronica), Fear of Men’s Loom (dream pop), Vince Staples’ Hell Can Wait (hip-hop), Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead! (free jazz), tUnE-yArDs’ Nikki Nack (world beat), Lee Fields’ Emma Jean (soul), Hundred Waters’ Moon Rang Like a Bell (folk), and Luluc’s Passerby (folk) as all being awesome albums. I’ll quote him: “The music industry may be dying, but music itself is thriving.”
So if “Pink Floyd” doesn’t sound like an awesome idea, get one of those.
When it comes to books, I’ve been reading stuff for CCNAs and, so, I don’t really have any suggestions beyond Dungeons & Dragons Volume 1: Shadowplague HC (a D&D comic book that is really quite charming) so I asked my peeps for their suggestions. Murali pointed out Skin Game , the latest Harry Dresden novel (seriously, it’s an awesome book from an awesome series). Kazzy recommended Cutting Teeth: A Novel and he said that it ” was an interesting book, particularly for parents of young children, New Yorkers, white 30-somethings, and middle to upper-middle-class folks. It gets more interesting the more of those boxes people can check (I’m essentially 4-for-4!).”
Going to Maribou, I asked her recommendations and she recommended Jo Walton’s My Real Children for adults (“her best yet”, she told me. “Alternate history that’s about the people but with lots of fascinating world-building bits that feel intrinsic to the story rather than glommed on.”) She told me that Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 is a YA novel in the vein of The Hunger Games that is impossible to put down. For the kids in your life who love the Percy Jackson novels, she recommends the Olympians Boxed Set. It’s a comic book collection retelling the original Greek myths. She also points out The Marguerite Henry Complete Collection as being “the very BEST middle grade horse books”. (We bought this set for a loved one to read to her daughter.)
As for Video Games, I haven’t upgraded to the Xbox One or the PS4 yet, but I’m really enjoying Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor on the 360 and I love Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX on my PS3 (they’ve updated the graphics for these games while keeping the awesome gameplay you remember from your PS2 days). For PC gamers, I’m enjoying the heck out of Legend of Grimrock II (it reminds me of Dungeon Master… you know, back from the heady days of the Apple IIgs?).
Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to be spending that much on a shirt, it should be embroidered.
And, once again, from us and ours to you and yours: Happy Holiday, everyone.
So… what are you recommending?