Last Minute Shopping Ideas

The response to Sundays snowbound shopping list was (surprisingly) encouraging; Many of of you commented or emailed with even more gift ideas; Quite a few of you made specific suggestions in comments. A few of you even asked for more ideas.

In the spirit of (last minute) gift giving, consider this list — many of which can be had or emailed in time for Christmas delivery.

Most of these are personal favorites, or items from my own wish list:

Californication – Season One and Season Two. Amongst the original HBO programming, I enjoy Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I also discovered Weeds via DVD; Anyone who travels for work as much as I do finds these discs make for great airplane companions.

But I think the greatest surprise has been how much I fell in love with Californication. The writing is outstanding, the characters and acting are top notch, and the plot twists are fascinating. I totally relate to the flawed David Duchovny, and his complex relationships with his wife/girlfriends/daughter.

Of all the premium cable channel shows out there, this one has evolved into my favorite — and I cannot wait for Season 3 on DVD.


Skip Barber Performance Driving School: On Sunday,  I mentioned the BMW driving school, and quite a few people suggested Lime Rock. It is my personal favorite track;  I took two of the Skip Barber classes there — everyone should, then go back for a refresher every 5 years.

The nice thing about giving this as a gift, is 1) It is very memorable; 2) Its not 25% off (up to $1000); 3) You can still give it in time for Xmas 2009.

I highly recommend it!


Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert [40th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set] [3 CDs + 1 DVD]

This is pretty much a collectible best suited for Rolling Stones junkies, hard core rock fans, and those especially enamored with the 1960s/70s rock era.

The raw power of the Stones music, the showmanship of Jagger, the guitar virtuosity of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor, all shine brightly here. Not only does this disc capture the Rolling Stones at their swaggering prime, it is also one of the greatest live albums of all time.

Phil writes in: The Padron Annivarsario is a fine cigar, if you like them mild — but I figured you for a Cubano man.”

Sorry, Phil, but that would be unlawful; I would never smoke, um, I don’t know, let’s say Romeo and Juliet Churchills, especially the 2006 Robusto, nor could I cut them with this nor light them with this. Just because I travel in the Caribbean where Cubanos are plentiful and reasonably priced and there is no damned good reason for that embargo anymore — just because of all that is no reason to encourage anyone breaking the law. No sir, that just wouldn’t be right . . .


Drew Friedman :: Frank Sinatra: I love the art work of Drew Friedman, and he captures the Chairman of the Board during the 1950s, when his persona defined sophisticated swinging. “Frank knew how to hold a note, his liquor, and a dame. In button-down mainstream America, Sinatra oozed free ‘n easy; on the opposite side of the cultural divide, Ol’ Blue Eyes didn’t have to behave like a beatnik to convey cool.”

If you have a serious music fan on your gift giving list, I would consider one of these prints. The portrait of Frank Sinatra is hangs in the den near my audio pile.


Charitable Contributions: In the spirit of the season, perhaps many of us should be considering making charitable donations rather than accumulating useless baubles.

When you make such a gift, you can make sure your money actually gets put to good use by using Charity Navigator — which rates charities on their financial health. Their ratings show givers how efficiently a charity uses their money i.e., what percentage of money goes to the intended charity, and how much is burned up on administrative costs.


A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars: This simply looks like a fascinating slice of military history.

I have a date with this book and my hammock come the spring!


Saeco S-TG-ST Talea Giro Super Automatic Espresso Machine: Longtime readers know I am a coffee buff/Caffeine junkie. (If you haven’t read Your Coffee Sucks, go forth immediately). Lately, my caffeinated beverage of choice seems to be some variation of expresso. This machine seems to have all the bells and whistles I want for a lot but not insane amount of money. (The difference between “Super” automatic and “Fully” automatic being about $2000)

And, you can find several really reasonable coffee roasters online: My local NY favorite is Porto Rico Importing, but some friends swear by The Roasterie in Chicago and Intelligentsia in L.A. and Fonte coffee in Seattle.  (Anyone have any other favorite local roasters?)


• I’ve used the Bose Noise Canceling Headphone for years (I like them) but some reviewers prefer the Sony MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Canceling Headphone: (List price, $400, sale price $279)

George Carlin: All My Stuff: George Carlin: Movies & TV: The entire George Carlin Collection, on DVD. Its the sort of thing that you tend to not buy yourself, but love getting as a gift. 14 Discs, ($189, on sale for $89).

Googled: The End of the World As We Know It. Ken Auletta’s book is one of the few business tomes I am interested in that has nothing whatsoever to do with the recent crisis. Chronicling the rise of Google from its auspicious origins within the labs of Stanford University, to its current position as perhaps the most influential technology company in the world today. Auletta has covered media and technology industries for decades, and is very plugged into Silicon Valley. This one looks like fun.

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