News Archive from 2002

Holiday Gift Ideas
Posted on December 1, 2002

by Eleanor M. Farrell

Don't you wish you had access to Diagon Alley to make holiday shopping as easy as a wave of the ol' magic wand? Well, since most of us are stuck with the usual sources -- and if you're reading this you haven't yet made all your purchases for friends and family -- here are some suggestions.


Always the first choice, right? The MythSoc "Big Three" (Tolkien/Lewis/Williams), older fantasy classics, fairy tale collections, newer genre fiction. Douglas Anderson's new edition of The Annotated Hobbit (reviewed in the October Mythprint) is the definitive version of the Tolkien classic. Mythopoeic Award honorees offer a quality selection of fiction and scholarship: 2002 winners include Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion and Peter Dicksinson's The Ropemaker, as well as Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl Hostetter, and G. Ronald Murphy's The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove. A complete list of past winners and finalists can be found on the Society web site.

Other titles of interest include a new omnibus edition of Evangeline Walton's The Mabinogion Tetralogy (The Prince of Annwn, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon, and The Island of the Mighty), with an introduction by Betty Ballantine (Overlook Press), or the long-awaited The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (Bantam Spectra), set in the Swordspoint universe. Coffee-table books include Brian Froud's pressed fairy follow-up, Lady Cottington's Fairy Album. There¹s a related CD, A Musical Companion to the Art of Brian Froud, a "new age meets electronica" instrumental and vocal collection featuring several Windham Hill artists, that's quite listenable.

Those Pesky Movies

Lots of tie-in books for both the new Harry Potter movie and Peter Jackson's second LOTR installment, The Two Towers. The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy, by Brian Sibley, is an impressive "behind the scenes" look at every aspect of Jackson's filmmaking efforts, sure to please fans of the films. Merchandise abounds: although no new tree ornaments or Hogwarts undergarments are featured this year, you can recreate Harry Potter's academic establishment under your tree, in Legos. There are replicas of just about every accessory featured in the LOTR films. I really would advise against giving someone you love a copy of the One Ring, though -- it's just tempting fate.


Looking over my list of almost 300 films viewed in 2002, this fanatic is dismayed to note the very small proportion of them in English, few of which I'd want to own. (December will be a very busy month at the movies, however Š.) The obvious video gift choices from 2002 are the first Harry Potter film and Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, just out in a dandy special edition package with deleted footage and enough extras to make anyone's head spin. (Check out Scott McLaren's review in the December issue of Mythprint.) For the youngsters, the new Jonah: A Veggietales Movie feature sounds like a real winner. And for the adventurous adult, my recommendation is Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des lupes). It's a werewolf movie, it;s a historical epic, it's a martial arts extravaganza -- it's in French! Great costumes, gorgeous actors, stunning scenery.

Creative Couplets

What's your favorite book -- Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, or maybe the big epic novel from that Tolkien fellow? Why not give a copy as a gift this year, along with a film version on VHS or DVD? Excellent, intriguing, entertaining or provocative (sometimes all of these) film treatments of many literature classics are available. Don't stop with straightforward renditions: Clueless is as true to Jane Austen's Emma as many of the BBC versions, and my personal favorite take on Macbeth is Kurosawa's moody Throne of Blood.


Each year I add another CD to my collection of holiday music: those Christmas chestnuts take on new life when presented as surf music, Hawaiian slack key guitar, big band horn solos or sultry lounge vocals. One of the new releases is Brian Setzer's Boogie Woogie Christmas; the former Stray Cat puts his unique touch on "Winter Wonderland" and other popular seasonal tunes. For a more traditional treat, pick up one of the CDs from Mediaeval Baebes, a London-based nine who harmonize early music and original compositions in an impressive array of languages, from Latin to Medieval Welsh to Russian. I attended a Baebes show a few months ago in a San Francisco club and recommend any of their recordings; their debut 1998 CD, Salva Nos, includes "Coventry Carol" and several other Christmas pieces.

Fun and Games

My favorite new item in the Harry Potter toy line is the Polyjuice Potion Kit. Best send this gift to someone out of town, to avoid becoming a guinea pig for testing new and vile concoctions of jello-like substances. The popularity of fantasy books and films has created some new board games, but it might be safer to stick with updated editions of the tried and true. Besides the original version with Atlantic City locales, Monopoly can now be played in the Star Wars or Star Trek universes (I'd like a hotel on Mos Eiseley, please, just as soon as I can use my "Get out of the Holosuite free" card Š). There are Spider-Man, Wizard of Oz, Scoobie Doo, even Harley Davidson editions. Nothing based in Middle-earth (yet), but you can buy a "Make-Your-Own-Opoly" set and go wild in any number of fantasy settings.


If you can't find an art calendar to suit everyone's tastes, you just aren't looking hard enough! A variety of fantasy artists and topics are available, movie and television tie-in calendars, literary figures and quotes. The 2003 Tolkien Calendar (reviewed in the November Mythprint), again showcasing the work of Ted Nasmith, focuses on scenes from The Two Towers.

Support the Society

Give someone a Mythopoeic Society or Mythcon 34 membership, or a copy of one of the Mythopoeic Press books (Sayers on Holmes is now in its second edition!). Please, if you do any online shopping at, use the link from the MythSoc web site and help us cover our administrative expenses.


Turn a trip to the movies into a festive occasion, or take in a holiday-themed play or concert. Many areas have Victorian Dickens faires, with old-fashioned entertainment and refreshments. Go to your local tree-lighting ceremony, gather some friends to sing carols around the neighborhood, head downtown to explore the window displays. Let the youngsters help bake cookies for shelters or other community centers. We're all in need of a reminder that we share this planet, so whatever you do this holiday season, try to spread some good cheer and fellowship.

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