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News Archive from 2005


Holiday Gift Ideas
Posted on December 1, 2005

by Eleanor M. Farrell


Yup, it's that time again, as if anyone could help but notice shop windows festooned with twinkly lights, even before Hallowe'en. Here are some suggestions, eclectic but hopefully inspiring, for the fantasy readers on your gift lists this year!

Books

As usual, we again recommend our annual Mythopoeic Awards selections (winners and finalists) as book choices. Our 2005 adult MFA winner, Susanna Clarke's epic Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, is now available in trade paperback, not quite as hefty but still a formidable weapon while riding the bus. 2005 titles of interest include Neil Gaiman's new novel Anansi Boys, and a slew of Narnia-related tomes in time for the imminent appearance of the new film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Calendars

Lewis attempts to elbow JRRT off the center shelves with an official calendar featuring photos from the new movie adaptation of the new Narnia film. The 2006 official Tolkien: The Hobbit Calendar features drawings by the author himself, and there are also calendars of several shapes and sizes featuring art and movie stills from the Peter Jackson LotR movies. At least two Harry Potter calendars are available for 2006; one of these sports cover artwork with the young wizard in his best James Bond pose (with wand replacing Walther PPK). Art-themed calendars abound, with Japanese woodblocks plentiful this year, perhaps due to publicity surrounding the film version of Memoirs of a Geisha. An Arthur Rackham fairy tale calendar is a welcome treat, as is Angel Spirits, a collection of art from popular fantasy illustrator Sulamith Wülfing. We've just seen the Celtic League American Branch's Celtic Calendar 2006, celebrating 25 years of publication with a retrospective edition. Illustrations by MythSoc artists Patrick Wynne and Adam Christensen from past calendars are included in the collection.

Music

The 2005 addition to my Christmas music collection (an annual tradition) is The Twelve Girls of Christmas from China's hot sensation, The Twelve Girls Band-Western holiday classics performed using traditional Asian instruments. The upcoming Narnia film has a companion CD, Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia; I tend to be leery of these compilation efforts, and most of the artists are unfamiliar, but it could be a winner.

DVD/Video

Be original-let Grandma pick up the "popular" new DVD releases, like The Polar Express or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Lovecraft fans really need the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's new silent version of The Call of Cthulhu (featuring Mythophonic sound and intertitles in 24 languages!). Disney has released an anniversary 2-disc edition of one of its fantasy classics, Cinderella, and-even more exciting-is continuing its releases of Japanese master animator Hayao Miyazaki's films from Studio Ghibli, with new DVD packages of Miyazaki's epic masterpiece, Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind (1985), and the charming Porco Rosso (1992), which include both the original Japanese audio tracks (previously unavailable on most American DVDs) along with the English dubs, plus lots of extras.

Hard to Get ... Presents For

I like giving tree ornaments as gifts, because they are festive, small, and can be easily packed away if the recipient is unimpressed, or even appalled. Even Hallmark has jumped on the fantasy sleigh this year, with a very attractive Gandalf ornament, Harry Potter in flight during a quiddich match, a classic Wizard of Oz grouping, the Grinch, and, of course, Darth Vader (whom I doubt is wishing anybody a Happy Holiday). A bit less traditional is the new collection from Veggie Tales-this year's ornament is "Peas on Earth" featuring the French Peas with a very timely message. Or you can put Batman, Spiderman, or Superman on your tree in a variety of poses, or maybe stage a superhero summit in the basement of Santa's workshop.

For family night during the holidays, you can crack open the Nightmare Before Christmas board game-"Kidnap Santa Claus!" the box entices. Or try something from independent game developers, such as the Beowulf board game from Fantasy Flight Games. I also love this game description from Steve Jackson Games:
"Kill the monsters. Steal the treasure. Stab your buddy. Munchkin is a stand-alone card game that captures the dungeon experience, with none of that roleplaying stuff."
Most of us have someone in our lives who seems to have everything they want, or whose tastes are unfathomable. Best advice for such cases: get something inexpensive but weird, if only for the reactions when gifts are opened (preferably with lots of people watching...). Accoutrements, which continues to expand its selection of Cultural and Literary Action Figures, has a new Jane Austen figure, who comes complete with quill pen and a copy of Pride and Prejudice. (She probably wants to bone up before catching the new Keira Knightley film adaptation.) Or how about an Aslan action figure, from the new Narnia film? Items are available from a variety of online retailers such as Archie McPhee, or try local gift shops or book/comics stores specializing in pop culture items. My very favorite gift selection for 2005, however, is The Avenging Unicorn Play Set. This has everything you need to use the power of the unicorn to rid your life of irritations. The posable vinyl figure comes with four interchangeable horns, which can be used to impale any of three soft vinyl figures provided-businessman/boss, new age lady and mime. Only $12.95!

Support the Society

Give a fantasy fan a Mythopoeic Society membership, or a copy of one of the Mythopoeic Press books. (Our newest book, the previously unpublished Dorothy L. Sayers short story The Travelling Rug, is now available!) The coolest stocking stuffer is our shiny new Mythopoeic Society lapel pin. Please, if you do any shopping at Amazon.com, use the links from the MythSoc web site and help us cover our administrative expenses.

Spread Good Cheer

Find time to visit or at least correspond with friends and family during the holiday season; it's the best excuse to get back in touch! See a play or a movie (or two), explore a local crafts fair or even share a hot drink at the mall. Let the warmth of the season refresh your spirits for the year to come.


Gift Item Suggestions and Shopping Links

For those of you who shop online, here are some useful and fun links for finding the perfect gift. If you want to support the Mythopoeic Society through purchases from Amazon.com, we've included links for items that they carry. Don't forget to use your favorite search engine (or try Shopzilla) if you are hunting for something specific - you never know what treasures may pop up!

Books
2005 Mythopoeic Award winners:
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Amazon.com
Janet Brennan Croft, War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien Amazon.com
Stephen Knight, Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography Amazon.com
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky Amazon.com
New fiction:
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys Amazon.com
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia (box set) Amazon.com
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince Amazon.com
From The Mythopoeic Press:
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Travelling Rug Amazon.com
Janet Brennan Croft, editor, Tolkien on Film Mythopoeic Press
New non-fiction/scholarship:
Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion Amazon.com
Paul Ford, Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition: A Complete Guide to the Magical World of C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia Amazon.com
David C. Downing, Into the Wardrobe: C. S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles Amazon.com
DVD/Video
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Amazon.com
Porco Rosso Amazon.com
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Amazon.com
The Polar Express Amazon.com
Cinderella (2-disc special edition) Amazon.com
Calendars
Tolkien: The Hobbit Calenda 2006 Amazon.com
The Chronicles of Narnia 2006 Calendar: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Amazon.com
Angel Spirits: Art of Sulamith Wulfing Calendar Amazon.com
Music
Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia CD Amazon.com
The Twelve Girls of Christmas CD (Twelve Girls Band) Amazon.com
Weird and Wonderful Stuff
The Call of Cthulhu DVD H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
"Peas on Earth" tree ornament Dayspring Store
The Chronicles of Narnia Aslan Action Figure Amazon.com
Jane Austen Action Figure Archie McPhee
Avenging Unicorn playset Archie McPhee
General Shopping Site Links
Things from Another World
Wicked Cool Stuff
Archie McPhee Online
Games in a Box (independent games)
Wonderfully Wacky: Baron Bob Gifts
KB Toys
Accoutrements (wholesale only but great descriptions!)




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