The city was a madhouse today. The crowds were enormous, traffic a crawl, pedestrians everywhere, tourists underfoot. Why anyone would wait last minute to buy gifts, then fight their way through Manhattan is beyond me. (Goyim — go figure).
Its especially perplexing when the alternative is to sit at home, sipping hot cocoa by the fire, and take care of all of this. We’ve been suggesting this strategy all month (see this and this and this, plus the audiophile guide).
Which brings me to our very last set of suggestions for you procrastinators. You guys are really running out of time — if you order this stuff tonight or tomorrow (overnight FedEx) maybe you get it by December 24th. Maybe.
For those you who wait for the last minute, here are some final gift ideas:
• For the oenophile on your list: Wine: The Culinary Institute of America’s Guide to Wines of the World: We have had terrific experiences at the CIA in Hyde Park NY. Their restaurants are wonderful training grounds for future chefs.
I was thumbing through their Wine guide — its encyclopedic, well organized, and looks like fun to read.
“Written by the experts who train today’s leading chefs and sommeliers…” ($35)
• Clifford Bailey is a California artist who paints a broad variety of subjects, but I am tickled by his Jazz Musician portraits. I picked up The Black Cat (2003) for Missus Big Picture’s birthday this summer, framed it (72 x 24); It now hangs in our media room (aka the den).
What Say You Now (1998) is the print that first caught my eye; it hangs in a nearby restaurant (Fork and Vine) that features live Jazz (UPDATE: It is SOLD OUT).
Prices vary; inquire of artist
• For the hard core Jazz fan, check out Will Friedwald’s A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers. The author of Sinatra! assembled this encyclopedia of old-school virtuosos of the American songbook.
Over 200-odd performers of jazz and pop standards, from the mid-20th-century titans–Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra–to latter-day acolytes like Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr., with a raft of unjustly obscure singers in between.
ABGGJPS is about the music, and includes a substantial career retrospective, selected discography and wonderfully pithy interpretive essays. ($30)
There, we met Joel of Cascadia Soaps. Born on a small farm/vineyard in the South of France, Joel learned old fashioned soap making from his family’s tradition. Rich, long-lasting, and moisturizing goat milk soaps.
Mrs. BP bought the Royal Jelly Eye Cream, a very light, penetrating and rich, moisturizer filled with vitamins and plant extracts.
I sometimes use it as an aftershave moisturizer. Excellent stuff . . . ($28)
• Lomography Spinner 360° I had no idea these things even existed: This film camera has one heck of a trick up its 35-mm sleeve. Pull the string attached to its base and the lens twirls to capture a full circle of action.
The resulting photos’ exaggerated perspective and exposed sprocket holes look both retro and futuristic.
• Speaking of gear: I’ve been very pleased with my Lumix camera; Last week, I mentioned the DMC-LX3 (and LX5) with Leica lenses at $350/$400. (Zoom buffs should check out the DMC-FZ100 shown at right — 24x Optical zoom!)
But you can spend appreciably less and still get excellent electronics and lenses. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 (and Zs5) are $249 and $188 respectively — solid electronics, and those terrific Leica lenses.
These have become my favorite sunglasses — the lenses are outstanding. The design itself is very comfortable, extremely lightweight, with a snug fit, the titanium arms stay put on my giant noggin no matter what. The titanium arms are essentially unbreakable, but if they somehow do, Maui Jim will replace the whole thing for $10.
• The Minds Eye: I am a big fan of Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who has made a second career for himself writing about neurological affectations.
In the Mind’s Eye, he examines how vision works, and what happens when it doesn’t. Ironically, Sacks himself suffers from prosopagnosia- the inability to recognize faces. Once assumed to be a purely psychological problem, its nopw understood to be a genetic issue.
Dr. Sacks himself is diagnosed with cancer in his eye, undergoes surgery and radiation, and finds that his vision is changed in strange ways.
I am looking forward to reading this book. ($14)
• Heritage Kayaks RedFish 14 Kayak ($671) I prefer the sit on top Kayaks to the traditional ones — you can fish, take photos, be more engaged on a more stable water platform.
I live near the LI Sound, so the longer stable boats work better with more boat traffic and bigger waves and tidal action.
Sometimes, you can catch a “free shipping” sale from shops like Back Country.
(PS: Don’t forget the paddles)
• Coupling (Seasons 1-4): ($54) I rec’d the BBC version of The Office last week, and apparently, many of you are huge fans already. So let me get a little more obscure: The BBC show Coupling is simply one of the funniest tv shows you will ever see.
The show centers on the sexual misadventures of six friends, often depicting the three women and the three men each talking about the same events, but in entirely different terms.
Far more sophisticated, urbane and witty than Friends, its much closer to a raunchier Seinfeld. (NBC tried to bring it here with disastrous results — BBC America ran the original British versions after the US equivalent episodes on NBC aired, showing how inferior the NBC product was).
• Buckyballs: Don’t ask me why people love these goofy desk toys — they are just fun to play with.
• Finally, for that blogger you just don’t know what to get for: Rolex GMT Master II Black Index Dial Oyster Bracelet Stainless Steel Mens Watch.
You should buy this for no other reason than the sole Amazon review:
“The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT Master is part of the Rolex Professional Watch Collection. It was launched in 1954. Every good jungle fighter should have one.
This is the same model of watch as was stolen from the body of Che Guevara after his murder and shown off by the CIA snitch Philip R. for years thereafter. Designed for the revolutionary, it allowed Che to have an awareness of the time in the Cuban time-zone. It’s rugged design was a prerequisite for anyone involved in a battle to the death. Every merchant banker should have one on each wrist, if not more.”