Before we begin this year’s holiday gift guide, I need to clarify a few things.
For those who weren’t around in the old days, I started the holiday gift guide to give people, well, a guide for buying gifts for the holiday. It coincided with the RROY REPORT Holiday Gift Drive, in which I encouraged my readers to send gifts to, well, me.
It worked about as well as you’d expect. A few people did send me stuff for a few years, but that didn’t last long. But one loyal reader — we’ll call her My Favorite Fan — has continued to send me presents every year. The problem is occasionally she’ll send something off the list that I already have. So to avoid that problem from now on, and the hassles of gift exchange that come with it, if I already have the item in question, I will note it in RED ALL CAPS.
Once something becomes a fixture of pop culture, usually through a TV or movie, there is no end to the amount of crap you can find in the likeness of that favorite character. Funko Pop is currently king of such tripe but there’s also Mopeez, Dorbz and many others. For the most part they’re ugly and not something I’d want sitting on my shelf.
The one exception is the Itty Bitty collection from Hallmark. They’re small, simple and adorable. They come in Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and DC varieties.If my Batman shrine wasn’t full I would probably grab some of the Batman characters, but my focus is now on The Avengers: Thor, Hulk, Captain America, IRON MAN, BLACK WIDOW and HAWKEYE.
Mr. Potato Head is one of toyland’s most enduring items. To survive this long, the spud has had to adapt and now you can find Mr. Potato Head represented as just about any character in pop culture. Still, I was surprised to discover that there is actually a Hawkeye version. Sure, I’ve seen Spider-Man Potato Head in stores, and even a Thor version, but never a Hawkeye. And now that I know he’s out there, I want him. In case you’re wondering, yes, they make a Black Widow version as well.
Ugly Christmas sweaters are all the rage this time of year. There are plenty of ugly Christmas sweaters with superhero designs (and some neat Star Wars ones) but this one is my favorite. It’s available in XXL – the only size that matters – on down to small.
Sister2 doesn’t think the bat is well defined but I say that’s because it’s old school Batman. Or the seamstress just isn’t that good at bats. I don’t think it’s an ugly sweater at all, actually. There are a lot of holiday sweatshirts out there with Marvel and DC designs if you want something more comfortable and easier to care for than a sweater.
Former Journal friend Susan Sagarra published her second book earlier this year. Bus Stop Angels marks the return of former reporter Meghan Murphy in another mystery, this one about missing children. Available on Amazon, along with Susan’s first book, Cracks in the Cobblestone, in case you weren’t paying attention when I was promoting it last year.
Adult coloring books have swept the nation and naturally the major comic book companies are getting in on it. Marvel and DC offer a variety of different coloring books now that are basically made up of artwork from comics and posters.
They are more expensive than the traditional coloring books you’ll find for kids, but the art is much sharper.
I normally take this segment to recommend some graphic novels that came out this year but I can’t think of any worth your time. Oh, that “Dr. Strange” trade I talked about a few weeks ago — The Way of the Weird — was pretty good.
College buddy Chris Brashear has a new CD out as a member of the Piedmont Melody Makers. Wonderful World Outside is a collection of bluegrass and olde tyme tunes that I am confident is mighty fine.
Elsewhere in pop music, 2016 was not a great year. The only new CD I can remember buying was GOOD TIMES! by The Monkees. If you don’t have a copy already — and why not?, I told you about this months ago — it would make a great stocking stuffer.
I already have a copy of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and if you don’t, well,that’s why God invented Christmas. Also recommended are the horribly raunchy yet hilarious Deadpool; the not-as-bad-as-everyone-says-it-is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which you should have in your collection for historical purposes if not for quality (and if you’re springing for it, you might as well get the Ultimate Edition with 30 more minutes of film. Probably none of it has Wonder Woman, but we can hope); and the extended cut of Suicide Squad, which probably has more Joker because there was a lot of Joker that showed up in the trailers that never was seen in the movie. Sadly you will have to wait until next Christmas for Dr. Strange — or just take the family to see it Christmas Day, if you’re the strange type of person who goes to movies on Christmas.
Somebody somewhere decided to take old vinyl records and turn them into clocks. The end results are pretty cool and I want one for the RROY Cave. They come in a wide, wide variety of styles — pretty much anything out there in pop culture, from the Beatles to Star Trek, has been made into a vinyl clock. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!