Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season people. The avalanche of goodies has poured into the shops so we can each agonize over what to give to whom. There’s the family, the friends, the romantic entanglements, and a bevy of folks in between. For those people in our life that require more than a card or a MySpace greeting, here are some ideas that may tickle you… If you see something you want, just scroll down to the gift shoppe at the bottom there and add it to your cart at

JoyHog’s Picks for the Best Holiday Gifts of 2006

BOOK: “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die”
Doesn’t this just sum it up? This title came out back in April and covers all the good stuff that we’ll never have time to get through. The selections do favor certain writers a bit heavily (Paul Auster, Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro each make quite a few appearances on the list), but we still love a good list, and this one’s beautifully presented.CD: My Chemical Romance: “The Black Parade”
It’s got rock, pop, marching band, some punk influence. It’s an essential one to have on hand when making your holiday mixes and such. There are more than a few flavors to be enjoyed in the sounds of My Chemical Romance. Take note.

DVD: “Six Feet Under: The Complete Series”
I know more than a handful of people who watched the series finale multiple times. We discovered the music of Sia, critiqued the make-up in the final aging sequence and cried more than a little. Now, in the season of the deluxe boxed set, the entire series is available in one box, complete with the two soundtracks. This set is how you show true love.

NOVEL: “The Stolen Child” by Keith Donahue
Not only was this one of the most beautifully printed books of the year, but there is a mesmerizing story within its pages. It tells of changelings and children, imposters and runaways, and the quickly morphing world that they each traverse in the quest to figure out who they really are. The specifics of the plot require a focused eye, but it’s one of the best books of the year, so slap a bow on it already.

GAME: Monopoly: Here & Now
It’s been quite the Holiday season for video games. After only a handful were injured, trampled, or shot at for a PS3 and Nintendo’s Wii has caused sophomore frat members across the globe multiple trips to the hospital, you would think people would learn that video games are dangerous. This year, why not just settle in with a friendly game real estate and play money.


Everybody likes a nice book. Even those folks who don’t read love a nice book. And this is the time of year when you buy everything from the obvious and practical (the new Stephen King or John Grisham) to the sumptuous and completely unnecessary (really any book that weighs too much and is usually in a window display). Here are the ones we have gathered to have a poke at in the genres of fiction and non-fiction. Coffee table books are so revered in our office that we are giving them their own spread next month.

Fireside Reading

Inés of My Soul by Isabel Allende
It’s Spain in the 1500’s and the leading lady is Inés Suárez, who begins with nothing and ends up running off to South America where the bloody battle to build the city of Santiago, Chile begins. It’s historical fiction from a brilliant storyteller. What’s not to like?Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
It’s been ten years since Charles Frazier turned out the grand, sweeping epic, “Cold Mountain.” Now he’s back with another big one that follows a young boy named Will Cooper from the age of 12 across the quickly developing American landscape of the nineteenth century as it comes to a close. Don’t wait for the movie, people, ‘cause you know it won’t match this.

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
Here’s another one that’s been adored by the literati of late. In “The Emperor’s Children,” Messud takes us into the world of three kids in their late 20’s trying to make it through present-day New York City. Wait a minute – that’s like our lives! One of the characters is even a critic (imagine that!). Take a look…

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
A twenty year-old guy with a lack of direction and a sweet girl named Savannah. Aww. Ain’t that sweet. Sounds like a Mandy Moore movie in the making (and believe us, we’re ready for the DVD and the hit single). You know there’s some 14 year-olds on your shopping list…

Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
For their 60th anniversary, the Penguin Classics collection have taken on a very cool look with graphic covers to these softcover editions. The titles available include “Rashomon and Other Stories,” Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums,” D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” Thomas Pynchon’s classic, “Gravity’s Rainbow” with cover art by Frank Miller, and the Marquis de Sade’s “Philosophy in the Boudoir.”

Sure to stir up some drama (political topics)

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper
There was an awful lot of chit-chat and blogging taking place when Mr. Cooper stripped down to his skivvies to get a spray tan on CNN. Well, before that happened, he came out with this book that shows readers the connection between his personal life and his professional one – both of which are pretty darn amazing.The Confession by James E. McGreevey
It’s sometimes hard to tell whether the headlines of your local news will actually reach the masses in the rest of the country. Here in New York, we see New Jersey’s headlines all the time. So when this NJ governor resigned in 2004, stating that: “My truth is that I am a gay American,” it wasn’t so much his role within a state, but rather the word “American” that resonated throughout the lands. It’s certainly a story worth a look.

We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines who took Fallujah by Patrick K. O’Donnell
This war has yielded a lot of cultural response in the last year, as if the 9/11 period of mourning has given way to storytellers poised at the canvas. This account tells of one platoon that is the band of brothers from our newest war, and the horrors and deaths that occurred in the blink of an eye. Maybe not for Christmas morning reading, but an excellent first-hand account for anyone who wants to pay attention.

The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina by Frank Rich
I look forward to Mr. Rich’s op-ed diatribes in the Times. His background may be that of a theatre writer, but his knowledge and insight into the drama of the American political landscape is unparalleled. Rich is pulling back the curtain on the Bush White House and you know you want to peek at that. Plus, the book has a very revealing timeline of events that’s worth a gander.

The Best Intentions: Kofi Anan and the UN in the Era of American World Power by James Traub
When you want to bring the conversation to a dull roar, bring up the UN. Everybody’s got something to say about it. Maybe you share the opinion that the building needs a facelift or maybe you think the whole organization does. Either way, here is a timely volume that goes from the early nineties to the present.

Terrorist by John Updike
Ok, so this one’s a work of fiction, but it’s still a pretty fiery topic. In Updike’s 22nd novel, he takes on the greatest hot-button topic around. Somehow his words carry more weight than most writers since he is so revered in the literary world. Again, it may not look sexy under the Christmas tree or by the menorah (“TERRORIST!!!”), but your literati friends won’t mind.


You can’t swing a cat (and really, why would you?) in the JoyHog office without hitting a boxed set of some juicy new DVD. As soon as we’re done unwrapping them, there’s talk of having a viewing party to watch nothing but holiday episodes of our favorite shows. For now, though, let’s see what we got…

ALIAS: The Complete Fifth Season
The juicy final installment. JP’s got you review right here

Big Love: The Complete First Season
Ah, the show that made polygamy cool. Or at least as cool as it can be with Bill Paxton playing the lothario. Thanks to its smart writing and fantastic cast, this show is extraordinarily intriguing, regardless of anyone’s thoughts on the subject matter. Maybe give it a test drive if you have HBO OnDemand, so you know what you’re getting into.

Brideshead Revisited: 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
There was talk of a Jude Law remake for a while there, but that fizzled, so this will have to do. Anthony Andrews is quite the character in this great epic that you can often catch on public television. Jeremy Irons is pretty young but still brilliant as ever. All the witty repartee is, of course, owed to Evelyn Waugh for the book, which is also kinda great.

Cinema Paradiso: Limited Collector’s Edition
When you pop open this box, you will discover postcards with images of the film and poster reproductions. There’s also some recipe cards courtesy of Food Network’s Michael Chiarello. On the disc, in addition to the film, there’s two new documentaries, the theatrical trailer, and Chiarello’s Food Network tribute. Delicious.

Da Ali G Show: Da Compleet Seereez
And here on John’s thoughts on this one..

Family Guy: Volume 4
They might be the same old jokes but they still work four seasons later. Besides, the 4th’s green packaging provides a nice accent to the other 3 volumes on your DVD shelf.

Reservoir Dogs
It’s a cult classic with expensive packaging. That’s the end of my review.

Superman Returns
Hey, Patrick liked it..

The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season
Just Buy it. JP says…

Will & Grace: Season Five
We’re not going to let the series finale get us down. Nor are we going to let “The Megan Mullally Show” taint our love for the silly characters on “Will & Grace.” It’s fun to watch those kids try to make babies and tackle their love lives as well.


This year, Instead of getting shot at in line for a PS3 or breaking valuables with a Wii controller, why don’t you just sit down and play a nice game of Monopoly: Here & Now.