Yuletide greetings folks. Even in these tough economic times, the annual rite of holiday gift giving must be performed to appease the mighty snow demons. So here are a few ideas…

There are three absolute “Can’t Miss” gifts – Booze, Books, and Vinyl.


Who doesn’t love booze? A bottle of moderately priced wine or a good-sized bottle of hootch will light up the face of anyone weary of yet another Borders gift card. A good bottle of Italian wine, a rare spirit, or a limited seasonal release beer is always a winner. Best of all, they might even share some of their gift with you!

The makers of 1800 Tequila can produce a 750ml bottle of their fine nectar emblazoned with any custom artwork or photograph you wish. No copyrighted images, please, no matter how friggin’ sweet a big bottle of tequila would look with the cover of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast on it. 1800 also makes a line of bottles featuring work by various artists from around the way (Josh Ellingson and Hannah Stouffer – OAKTOWNNNN!) and they’re absolutely gorgeous to look at. 1800 makes a damn fine tequila; now if only they could get name-checked in a rap song or two, they would be set.

In a similar spirit, but for the more buttoned-up type, the folks at Johnnie Walker will be happy to engrave your holiday message into a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. They can engrave in everything from English to Hindi, although I’m told that the Hindi script is not entirely accurate. Make one for yourself for the home or office and impress and perhaps even intimidate, friends and colleagues.


Nothing says “holiday spirit” like Love All the People: The Essential Bill Hicks, which is the best antidote I’ve found for the madness of the holiday season. Your loved one will rediscover the true meaning of Christmas with this treasure trove of Bill Hicks’ stand up routines, observations, essays and letters. It’s like ‘Hicks Flesh, Hicks Bones’ – Intensely pointed, hilarious, and all at once profoundly sad. When you realize that Bill Hicks has been gone from us 15 years this February, it will really put that holiday depression into perspective.

Oh Id hate to be a dustbin in Shaftesbury tonight...

Oh I'd hate to be a dustbin in Shaftesbury tonight...

Comic Book Tattoo: Tales Inspired By Tori Amos takes me back to the shiny days of the mid-’90s when it seemed that everyone loved Tori Amos, everyone loved comics, and everyone drank a lot of coffee and talked about how much they loved Tori Amos and comics. It’s been said that Tori herself was Neil Gaiman’s muse when he created the Delirium character for his Sandman series. There are 80 artists here. All assembled to turn selected Tori Amos songs into brilliant and bracing slabs of sequential art. Some are delightfully literal and others are imaginatively interpretive. Even if your friend or loved one fell out of Tori’s favor after they received their liberal arts degree (or when ‘Boys For Pele’ came out), they’ll be likely spellbound by this phantasmagorical tome.

You don’t even need a turntable to enjoy 12 inches of sexy vinyl wrapped up in a colorful sleeve. A lot of new releases on vinyl come with handy little codes you can use to download to your iPhone/8-track player/whatever. And it just looks cool to have a few choice selections up on the bookcase. Besides, a working turntable is only a Craigslist search away.

Dave Gilmour’s massive Live in GdaÁ…”žsk is resplendant in its 5-LP box incarnation. It includes a “web pass” and some bonus tracks exclusive to this version.

2008’s The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, by drone doom gods Earth, is now available from Southern Lord in a beautiful “family bible” edition. This was one of my favorite albums of the year and this extremely limited edition includes an exclusive bonus track.

(I used both of these albums as examples as they figure into my favorites of 2008 post)

Amazon has really stepped up its vinyl selection, and a lot of goodies can be found there; oddly enough, Circuit City’s online store has a immense collection of vinyl. Music Direct never disappoints, but remember, folks: as with your produce, think locally. The holiday season is a perfect time to get acquainted with your local independent record store. (If you’re indeed lucky enough to have one.) My old place of business, Streetlight Records, and my SF hangout, Aquarius Records, both do mail order and both have great selections of eclectic and rare music.

Oh, and Season Two of Metalocalypse is out, and is a perfect gift for that cousin or nephew who loves World of Warcraft and is just getting into metal. If you’ve seen the show, you probably already know what to expect. Wacky highjinx, explosions, inside jokes, and cryptic DVD menus. Until this gets made into a series, this is the best metal cartoon, like, ever.

Happy holidays, folks. I’ll meet you back here in 2009.

About the Author

Ben Wiser

Test of the Boomerang is an in-depth exploration of some of the best material found on the Live Music Archive.

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