Christmastime — or Hanukkah-time or whatever the hell quasi-religious reason you come up with to give and receive gifts as the northern hemisphere’s daylight wears down — is perhaps the greatest time of the year for the geek-minded. Especially in this, the seeming Age of Geek Cool (ushered in by our properly-elected leader, Barack “I read Spider-Man and Conan comics” Obama), the gift options are nearly endless, and if you have great friends and loved ones as I do, you may have found your Christmas morning/eighth night of Hanukkah/Kwanzaa dance of joy to be as memorable as the time you received the Jabba’s Palace playset from Return of the Jedi back in ’83*.
I figured I’d share some highlights from this year’s take, as this was possibly the first year I celebrated a right proper Christmas, beginning with a lovely, intimate gathering of strays at our house on Christmas Eve — where we enjoyed home-cooked food, light cocktails and gingerbread cookie decorating (I kid you not) — and ending with a sitting-on-the-floor-by-the-tannenbaum, wrapping paper-tearing celebration of awesomeness.
I typically don’t like to receive gifts, much preferring to give — both on holidays and throughout the year to various charitable organizations (including redirecting my so-called “stimulus check” to six different charities). But as I was a good gift-giver this year, I felt less guilty receiving. So now, for real, without further adieu, share with me in the goodies Santa left under the tree:
500 Essential Graphics Novels: The Ultimate Guide (by Gene Kannenberg, Jr.) – It is what it says it is. A guide to (subjectively) the best sequential art books ever published, categorized by genres and including both standalone volumes and those that collect works previously published in serial form. Like another reference volume I recently bought myself, The Supervillain Book, this sort of thing makes for great reading while eating.
Electronic Drum Kit Shirt (from ThinkGeek) – For anyone who hasn’t caught on yet, I play drums in a rock band. It’s not my first instrument (I guess that would be guitar, followed by keyboards), but it’s my favorite. And possibly my most comfortable, as I seem to always be drumming on whatever is within arm’s reach — steering wheel, table, lap, whatever. So it makes perfect sense that someone gave me this, a T-shirt rigged up with a fully playable picture of a drum set. When you tap on any of the seven active drum parts, a speaker unit hidden in an internal pocket blasts the respective drum sound. I am totally wearing this under all my clothes now. Here’s an awesome video demonstration:
Flip Mino Camcorder – Bleeding Neon pal and CineVegas web guru Roger Tinch turned me on to this overly simplified digital video camera (as he bought it for himself as an early Xmas present). It’s streamlined and sleek: Powers up in three seconds, runs for four hours per charge, shoots up to 60 minutes of video and plugs directly into either a computer (via USB) or a TV (via RCA connectors). Expect to see some terrible homemade videos captured with the Mino here soon. You poor suckers.
Lego Mindstorms NXT kit – Anyone who knows me should know I love robots. I have robot art all over my house, including a robot planter. I have a robot tattooed on my left arm. And now, thanks to my girlfriend who tirelessly supports my geek obsessions, I have the building blocks for intelligent robot design, courtesy of those crafty folks at Lego. To go one step further, she also grabbed for me Creating Cool Mindstorms NXT Robots, a book authored by a 24-year-old
Now, Mindstorms claims to be made for ages 11 and up, but I’m telling you, this is some intimidating stuff, even right out of the box. I mean, I haven’t opened it yet, but it sure looks scary. However, I did flip through the accompanying book, which is even more frightening, apparently authored in some sort of alien techno-language or perhaps by a math professor. But I’m up to the challenge and expect to be creating peanut butter-serving, dog belly-rubbing, world-overthrowing robots any day now.
There were other goodies, of course, including a gift
cardtoken to my local comic shop, 3-D notebook paper and random gift cards, but the aforementioned items are the pearls of the geek oyster. And as we know, I totally need more distractions from actually, you know, writing.
*Yes, I totally did get that Jabba set for either Christmas or a birthday back in ’83. It came with Jabba on his throne, which slid back to reveal the opening to the dungeon or whatever, as well as that annoying sidekick bird looking thing. Sadly, Slave Leia was sold separately.