The RROY REPORT Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Good News! The Son’s school is apparently not in a financial crisis this year, so we can return our attention to my favorite holiday tradition — pointing out pointless, useless crap that everyone should have under their Christmas tree.

Theater

Here’s a new category for the RRHGG. There’s a lot of really good theater that goes on every year in the area, so why not treat your loved ones with the gift of the stage? The very popular Book of Mormon will make its St. Louis debut in February at the Fox Theatre. Opera Theater of St. Louis will present Pagliacci this season. Les Miserables is coming to The Muny this sumer.

Oh, who are we kidding? There’s only one reason theater has made this year’s Gift Guide: BATMAN LIVE.  This multimedia extravaganza starring Batman, Robin and all the classic rogues (sadly, no Batgirl) runs Dec. 7-9 at the Chaifetz Arena.

Do you really want to spend another holiday season sitting through The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol? Give Scrooge, and yourself, a break. Tickets on sale now.

Books

For most of the year, Marvel Comics was caught up in a civil war between its two premiere super teams — The Avengers and the X-Men. The entire saga (well, almost entire) is now available in book form. AvsX features the 12-issue AvsX series, the 6-issue Versus series and some stuff that was only available online.

You can get the hardcover pretty cheap at Amazon (definitely cheaper than buying the individual issues when they came out) or wait six months for the paperback. But then it won’t be Christmas, will it?

Over on the DC side, Batman Earth One is yet another retelling of The Dark Knight’s origin story, updated (yet again) to make it more “relevant” for today’s more grim and gritty audience. I think. I haven’t read it so I don’t really know what to expect. It has art by Gary Frank, which is the main draw — besides Batman, of course.

Speaking of buying something for the art, the first story arc of the updated (yet again) Justice League is available in book form. It features sweet Jim Lee art but I haven’t heard a lot of good notices about the writing. And it has Cyborg in it for some reason.

Music

I just finished looking at Wikipedia’s list of albums released in 2012 and, boy, am I out of touch with popular music. Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball was one of the better albums he’s put out lately. I’ve been listening to the new Ben Folds Five album but I’m not impressed enough to recommend it. The always reliable John Hiatt released, Mystic Pinball a few weeks back — it’s decent but not spectacular (I’m going to get around to reviewing these things eventually).

I usually use this space to hawk a new Norah Jones album, and as luck would have it she did put one out this year. I haven’t heard it and I’ve kinda lost interest in her work. I’d probably like it if I listened to it, but I probably wouldn’t listen to it for very long.

Ohmigod, I just looked at this album cover. What has happened to Norah? Deborah Harry called and wants her image back.

So, in the final analysis — and since Springsteen doesn’t really need the money –my 2012 pick for Holiday Gift Guide CD of 2012 goes to Heart of the Country by bluegrass legend Chris Brashear. It’s mighty fine. And if I keep pushing it maybe Chris will come to St. Louis and do a show. It’s the least he could do since he punted Joelfest.

Movies

Is there really anyone out there who doesn’t already own a copy of Marvel’s The Avengers? If so, shame on you. But on the other hand, you’ll have a joyous Christmas morning if you find it in your stocking. Other movies of 2012 worthy of a spot in your collection include The Amazing Spider-Man (Which I really need to see again. I can’t believe I only saw it once in theaters. Busy summer.) and The Dark Knight Rises (Available Dec. 3, late for Black Friday but still in time for your holiday shopping). There were many fine non-superhero movies out this year but you can always check those out at the library.

Calendars

You can’t play What’s On Ronnie’s Calendars without a calendar or two but I have to say I’ve been searching the web for interesting calendars but am coming up short. Apparently something called Underwater Dogs is popular this year. Why you would want to look at dogs swimming every day for 365 days is beyond me.

Amazon lists no less than 9 different Marvel Comics calendars — 12 if you count Avengers and Spider-Man movie calendars. (Uh, what is the difference between a wall calendar and a grid calendar? I know the difference between a wall and a desk calendar, but grid?) None of them impress me. The Women of Marvel calendar is another collection of the usual suspects along with some oddball choices. I’m not even sure who Miss May is supposed to be. At least they’re not rerunning that Medusa picture again.

Interestingly (at least to me), Amazon only lists 2 DC Comics calendars — 4 if you count Smallville (Which I don’t. Who would be buying a Smallville calendar at this late stage in the game?) and The Dark Knight Rises. There is a Wonder Woman calendar (Why Diana gets her own calendar and not Batman or Superman is yet another mystery of the calendar business that I will never understand.) and an Official DC Comics calendar (which is pretty crappy).

The only other calendar of interest I found in my travels is a Jungle Girl calendar featuring the artwork of the mighty Frank Cho. If you’re a fan of buxom blondes in leopard-skin bikinis in jungle settings as drawn by Frank Cho, then this is the calendar for you. At any rate, it’s something I’d rather look at every day over swimming dogs.

Miscellaneous

You say you’re looking for the right gift but you don’t want to go near a comic book shop and you fear online shopping? No problem, many fine items are available at mainstream retailers.

I recommend you go with something practical over something like toys. Everyone sells superhero T-shirts these days. Many places carry Marvel and DC Christmas ornaments. I’ve noticed some nice glass tumbler sets at Target. Spencer’s Gifts has a selection of shot glasses. A shot glass is a cheap and simple stocking stuffer and who couldn’t use a Batman shot glass?

Many years ago my wife (not then my wife) gave me an aquarium for Christmas. It was an odd gift but I was living alone in Kansas City at the time and she thought the fish could keep me company. She was right. I loved that fish tank and used it for many years until I finally got tired of the hassle of cleaning it and the expense of having to buy new fish all the time. It’s stored in the basement now.

I spend a lot of time at Petsmart these days (despite the fact that I don’t have a pet) and, well, I’m thinking about getting the old fish tank back out because now there are all kinds of Marvel items for the aquarium — mainly backdrops and figurines. Why did this stuff not exist when I was using my aquarium? And why is there no Namor the Sub-Mariner figurine?

UPDATE: PetsMart now has superhero (and Dr. Seuss, if that’s your thing) fish bowls. There was HULK, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and Superman (I don’t remember seeing a Batman, but surely there is one). I just discovered this on Monday and it’s so new I can’t find a photo of one on the Internet.

Finally — and much to my surprise — there are three new Hawkeye statues on the market. Now I don’t need another Hawkeye statue, but if you do, they are pretty nice ones. One even has him on his sky sled (It’s my least favorite. I don’t like the arrow between his teeth look. It’s also ridiculously expensive). I like the ones I have better. I can’t believe the market can support five different Hawkeye statues. And of course, they’re all out of date since he changed his costume to make it more movie friendly.

 

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