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With any of these gifts under the tree—theirs or yours—this year’s holidays can’t help but be merry and bright
by Steven Foster

And Your Little Dog, Too!

Rufus Butler Seder is famous for large-scale installations that capture the motion of the stars (at the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw) or the rhythms of the sea (for the Taiwan aquarium). But with The Wizard of Oz ($14.95, Workman Publishing), he miniaturizes his magic to capture classic moments from the yellow-brick-road movie. Like his previous New York Times bestseller that graphically goosed Star Wars, Seder’s Wizard unfolds with a jittery optic glee that will delight the kiddies. And the glittering ruby-slippers cover will thrill the queens.

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To a T

Big and bold and graphically gorgeous, the RuPaul T-shirt ($24.99 at http://shop.logotv.com) is, in a word, fierce. Like the cross-dressing superstar, this black and white chemise can be dressed up or cooled down and still maintain maximum fabulosity. Glam it with a jacket, or subdue the T with a pair of jeans. You betta work? No shirt in your wardrobe will work harder.

 

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Bar None

Hand-colored, cut, and poured with the meticulous care of an Anvil-made cocktail, Velvet Rope Soaps are an intoxicating serving of cleanliness with a twist. Velvet themes their fragrant, sexy skin-loving squares with all the fizzy fun of a cocktail lounge. Leather Bar has the rich, heady aroma of a pair of pricey chaps. The evocative Piano Bar manages to evoke refinement and luxury. Gay Bar is, appropriately, a just-right mix of manly and fruity. These bars give new meaning to the term “happy hour.” Available at VelvetRopeSoaps.com.

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Holiday Spirits

Speaking of happy hour, for the spirit-loving recipients on your gift list, nothing beats a good bottle of hooch. Instead of the usual ho-hum brands, we have three innovative gems worthy of a good toast. A constant gold-medal winner, Ron Abuelo Anejo Rum ($15.99/750ml), is a supple spirit with hints of toasted coconut, vanilla, spices, and a mocha, nutty lingering finish that will make you forever banish “the Captain” to the holiday brig. With a rich, sophisticated character, world-renowned distillery Suntory serves up Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey (12-year $49.99, 18-year $134.99) that marries single malt in three different oak casks. And for an artistic alternative to your usual vodkas, we like Van Gogh Blue Triple Wheat Vodka ($29/750ml). Handcrafted in small batches, this silvery delight is gracefully grain-laced with wonderful mineral undertones. Extra points for the knockout see-thru glass picture frame bottle.

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Irons in the Fire

Before Jeremy Irons became famous for playing heat-seeking monsters (see: J. C. Chandor’s stunningly assured first feature, Margin Call. No, seriously, see it.), he was more remembered for his devastating turn in PBS’s nearly 11-hour production of the Evelyn Waugh classic Brideshead Revisited ($69.99 Blu-ray). The benchmark British series about a near-shattered Army Captain (Irons) who falls under the spell of a seductive aristocrat brat played by Anthony Andrews is now getting a proper 30th-anniversary update. Yes, there are gorgeous visuals, the soaring score, and high-class Brit elite cast (Claire Bloom, Sirs John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier, who bagged an Emmy for the role), but it’s the palpable feeling of forbidden desire and doom that made this landmark miniseries so addictive that, every Monday night for weeks, America was glued to their pre-DVR TV sets. Available at select retailers and direct from Acorn Media (888/870-8047 or AcornMediaOnline.com).

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Very Crafty

Decorator Mark Montano follows up his first double-wide mega-seller with The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2 ($19.99, Gallery Books), a 300+ page encyclopedia of home projects that’ll keep little elves and big Santas busy all year. Sure, there’s the occasional ho-hum never-gonna-make-that project in the book (Zip tie earrings? Not gonna happen.), but for all the Bauhaus striped tables, hand lamps, and wish shrines the how-to tome teaches, this book will definitely do the trick for any do-it-yourselfer on your gift list.

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License to Create

After 15 years of recycling urban street castoffs like wood and furniture, Kiki Neumann has turned her artistic eye on the mundane item of auto license plates. Making cabinet tops, custom signs, and dustpans and mirrors (above) from vintage and contemporary state plates, she has truly found another recycling niche. The mirrors and dustpans can be found at Joshua’s Native Plants in the Heights (713/862-7444). Neumann’s website is KikiNeumann.com, or she can be reached at 281/235-9523.Troy Carrington

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Game On

Whether you’re an avid gamer or controller virgin, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception ($59.99, for the PlayStation 3), is this year’s game to beat. The mega-selling, award-winning third installment of the mega-franchise, Uncharted is a puzzler’s dream and sheer adventurer nirvana. Hell, with breathtaking set-piece landscapes, white-knuckle action sequences, and storytelling, scripting, and acting that puts most Hollywood actioners to shame, you could just watch the game and get your money’s worth. The Indiana Jones-like hero’s daring-do even stunned the original Indy, Harrison Ford himself, in a recently released online video.

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Haute When It’s Cold

Feel like curling up with a good book this holiday season? Take Charlotte Seeling’s Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, and Labels to the hearth—if you can lift it, that is. This exhaustive retrospective covers every king, queen, runway jester, and court behind the cloth we crave, starting in the 1800s. Seriously, everybody’s in here, from Gap to Gucci, H&M to Halston, Alexander McQueen to Hiroshige Maki. Informative while never losing its sex appeal, this Fashion will never go out of style. And priced around $35, it’s a TJ Maxximum bargain.

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Birds of a Feather

For little ones on your list, we offer Rainbow Rumpus’s fifth downloadable LGBT-family fiction title, Pigeons Don’t Float. The easy reader follows Lilly, a girl with two mothers, as she discovers the wonders of (natural) uniqueness during a visit to the park, simultaneously tackling the age-old question of the feathered friend’s buoyancy. Available at RainbowRumpus.org.


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Just in Time

No, we’re not talking about the JT movie. We’re talking about Mistura Timepieces, eco-friendly statements of organic, rugged elegance. Faces feature exotic wooden dials and a complementing wood chassis. Hues run the organic gamut from rich, Amazonian-earthy brown to luscious plum red. The polished piece is then anchored to a natural-dyed, brazenly butch leather band. On their badass website, where you can see these beauties in 360-degree glory, you can even customize your timepiece, playing environmentally mindful time designer to create your own unique, sexy statement. Prices vary, available at Mistura.com.

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…And Timeless

Curated and assembled by Warhol co-conspirator Jeff Gordon and his partner Path Soong, 15 Minutes: Homage to Andy Warhol is the companion piece to the traveling exhibition of art and sound that opened at Pollock-Krasner House in August. This exclusive limited-edition 12×12 box set showcases 18 artists who knew, worked with, or were influenced by pop demi-god Warhol. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Carter Ratcliff, Warhol creation Ultra Violet, photographer Christopher Makos, and others contribute a unique silkscreen and a companion audio recording of music, poetry, or spoken-word performance. It’s not cheap ($20,000 will get you one of the 85 copies, or $600 for one of the 1,964 created), but it is remarkable. Patti Smith’s elegiac ode to tragic blonde muse Edie Sedgwick is a heart-rending treasure. For more information, visit FifteenMinutes Online.com.

 

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Steven Foster

Steven Foster is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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