Compiled by Joshua T. Dies
& F. Daniel Kent
It’s that time of year again and everyone has started looking high and low for the perfect gift—be it for that beloved relative or the strange "friend" your son is bringing home from school this year and insisting they share his old room for the duration. No matter the situation, the solution may be as simple this year as a trip to your local book or music store (alas, Tower..we knew ye well) and picking up one of the latest in book, DVD or CD offerings to place under the tree.
This year was a year for great releases in all three areas making the gift ideas near limitless, guaranteeing something for everyone. Included in the best of the best in entertainment-related gifts are the following:
Dolly Parton: ‘The Acoustic Collection 1999-2002’
The folks at Sugar Hill Records must be feeling a bit jolly this year. "The Acoustic Collection 1999-2002" is a three-disc box set comprised of Dolly Parton’s monumentally influential records “The Grass is Blue,” “Little Sparrow” and “Halos and Horns.” These albums, released after Dolly had signed onto the small indie music label in 1999, almost immediately sold millions. When the world of country music was getting bigger and more about image, Dolly—as usual—forged her own path and released three very basic bluegrass albums over the course of four years that were hailed by critics and fans alike. Parton had reinvented herself better than Madge ever dreamed. Now you can complete your collection or introduce a novice to this beloved music icon in her most ambitious series of recordings ever. So give yourself something a little sweeter than a hard candy Christmas this year and have a little Dolly.
Sarah Brightman — ‘Diva: The Singles Collection CD/DVD’
Twenty years ago a young ingénue stepped out onto the stage of the "Phantom of the Opera," and Sarah Brightman has been a household name ever since. “Diva: The Singles Collection” takes a career-spanning look back at the biggest selling soprano of all time with songs like “Phantom of the Opera,” her moving cover of “Whiter Shade of Pale” and the inspiring duet with Andrea Bocelli “Time to Say Goodbye.” The songs sound as great today as they did when first released, and while you’re at it, pick up the DVD companion piece, with the Divine Miss B’s biggest music videos. The collection is woven together with the singer’s personal narratives recalling each video, and the DVD includes an exclusive Internet component, which allows the user access to Brightman’s Web site, with downloadable bonus materials such as exclusive songs and digital greetings. Whether you’re an old fan, or don’t know the difference between “Phantom” and “Harem,” the CD and DVD offer a great addition to any collection.
DVD Titles from Wolfe Video and First Run Features
Two of the best known distribution companies specializing in gay-specific DVD offerings, Wolfe Video and First Run Features, offer a wide variety of gift choices for the queer cinema buff on your list.
From Wolfe Video you can get the thrillingly fun “Open Cam,” which tells the story of a serial killer stalking gay men over the Internet in a well acted and smart script that will keep you guessing until the end. Also available is “Loving Annabelle,” the single biggest lesbian cinema event of the year. “Loving Annabelle” tells the controversial and award-winning story of a rebellious teenage girl sent to a Catholic boarding school where she begins a forbidden affair with her English teacher.
This holiday season, First Run features brings the discriminating queer moviegoer two unique offerings from two of the hottest and most noted German directors of the past two decades. “Female Misbehaviour” is a collection of five of controversial director Monica Treut’s featuring women who have dared to explore the outer limits of female sexuality and behavior by challenging the status quo. The DVD also features a one-of-a-kind interview with Treut and stills from the various features.
Also from First Run, is “Agnes & His Brothers” from uncompromising dramatist Oskar Roehler depicting the soulful and darkly humorous tale of three brothers—a sex addict, an up-and-coming politician and a transgendered woman—searching for love and acceptance. A fascinating snapshot of Germany’s current state of affairs, “Agnes and Her Brothers” features some of Germany’s top talent in the lead roles and is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating cinema geek.
‘I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence’ by Amy Sedaris
‘Tis the season for dinner parties. Do you know where your salad fork is located? The proper way request more wine? A comprehensive list of inappropriate introductions? Then you’ll need a copy of Amy Sedaris’ new book on the age old art of entertaining, “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence,” this holiday season. Packed cover to cover with useful tips, appealing recipes and the former Comedy Central star’s side-splitting trademark humor, readers get a full-on invitation into the comic’s eclectic life. The book is a visual extravaganza with kitschy illustrations, photos of Sedaris both old and new and authentic food-stained recipe cards. This would make a great gift for fans of “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” and “Strangers with Candy.” And at a hefty 300+ pages, your friends may think you’ve bought them something much more expensive…or at least a really heavy book.
‘Country Music: The People, Places, and Moments That Shaped the Country Sound’ by Richard Carlin and Raeanne Rubenstein
Do you know what famous country legend was born Muriel Deason? What year was the Grand Ole Opry was founded? Which Country legend wrote one of Janis Joplin’s most famous songs? Well, if you find yourself stumped by any of these questions, you need a copy of “Country Music: The People, Places, and Moments That Shaped the Country Sound.” The oversized coffee-table-style book is a voluminous encyclopedic collection of references to every possible person, place, event or thing associated at any time with Country Music. The text is well thought out and revealing without being exhaustive—or exhausting. The beautiful—and at times breathtaking—photography by Nashville photographer Raeanne Rubenstein graces every page and is the perfect accompaniment to such a grand endeavour as this volume. A bargain at any cost, this treasury of country music history is an affordable but impressive gift for any country music fan.
‘Ten’ by Lewis Payton
Available exclusively through http://www.lewispayton.com/, “Ten” is a handsome limited edition collection (3,000 copies) of ten ready-to-frame photographic prints of tasteful iconic male nudes. Payton has a great eye for the male physique and uses light and shadow in his work to masterfully highlight the male form in such a way that showcases the complexity and sensuality evoked by the subject revealing an inner strength and soul that resonates strongly with the viewer. The collection comes in a handy plastic pouch that allows you to take each print out for individual viewing, or it can be mounted on a desk, switching the visible print in the front out every few days for variety. “Ten” is the perfect stocking stuffer for fans of the male form or students of photography. I wish Santa would leave me ten hot guys in my stocking—or even just one, I’m not picky.
‘Conversations and Cosmopolitans: How to Give Your Mother a Hangover’ by Robert & Jane Rave
If you enjoy the works of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, you’ll love “Conversations and Cosmopolitans: How to Give Your Mother a Hangover,” a laugh-out-loud funny book written by a gay man and his mother. Jane Rave tried to be open-minded and supportive when her son Robert came out to her in a novel-esque email. But the surprises keep coming as both mother and son learn what being “gay” is—and in the process, realize what being a mother and son really means. Honest and refreshing, both Robert and Jane Rave let you inside their personal demons and insecurities while making you laugh till your sides hurt. The book develops its own language with terms like “point-if-ication” (Weight Watchers brainwashing), the ultimate idea of a mate for gay men “me-but-Latin” and “M’Lynn moments” (see Steel Magnolias…repeatedly). A great gift idea for your own mother—just give it to her over drinks.
Chippendales 2007 Calendar
It’s bound to happen. Every year like clockwork you do all the shopping early beating the holiday rush. Everyone is covered—or so you thought. Suddenly, three of your closest friends have boyfriends who they are bringing to the holiday soirée, and you’re caught short-handed in the gift department. It’s okay, Becky! Take a pill! We got you covered. Just run out and grab up a half-dozen of these babies and keep them handy for that gift-emergency that’s waiting to happen. What homosexual doesn’t like a whole year’s worth of hunky half-naked men all to themselves? And if there are no gift-snags, then you can give them out at random throughout the year. It’s the perfect back-up gift that keeps on giving.