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Season of Lists: 6 Last Minute Gifts

December 24th, 2007 by Celeste Fremon


Homicides figures in Los Angeles are lower than they’ve been in decades,
which is a really great piece of news to hear going into Christmas.

And now on to other pressing issues: As we all know, our chance for holiday gift buying has officially dwindled to zip. So, with this emergency in mind, today’s list eschews serious topics in order to get down to the business at hand—namely last minute gifts.

Below you’ll find six of my off-the-top-of-my-head gift ideas.
But please be sure to fork over some good ones of your own.

NOTE: Try to avoid making suggestions like the Hillary Nutcracker—or the George W. Bush 2008 out of office countdown calendar, as we all know the ensuing discussion will NOT go anywhere good.)

Okay, here’re my six:

1. A Homeboy Attache bag .
(Surely everybody needs one of those.) At this late date, you’ll have to drive down to the Homeboy store on Alameda in order to acquire one, but hey, you can also have lunch at the Homegirl cafe, and get a snazzy Homeboy trucker hat or a Homegirl spaghetti strapped t-shirt for yourself.

2. The soundtrack to the Great Debaters.
A very cool CD filled with a range of classic blues, gospel and jazz sung , by Grammy Award-winning blues singer/guitarist Alvin ‘Youngblood’ Hart and soul diva Sharon jones. Lovely stuff. (Anybody who doesn’t like it—in the future just demote ‘em off your gift list and into greeting card-only status.)

3. A pound of Grizzly Blend coffee
- Yes, if you order it it’ll show up after Christmas, but it could be worth it. The coffee is a rich, dark blend roasted in Montana. The best part of the deal is the fact that a healthy percentage of the proceeds from Grizzly blend sales are dedicated to acquiring and preserving land as grizzly habitat through he non-profit group Vital Ground. (Virtue AND caffeine. Hard to do better than that!)

5. R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz, & Country
– This was commenter reg’s idea, and it’s a very good one. At his rec, I went out and nabbed one of these books (with CD) as one of my own last minute gifts. It was given out on Saturday night, and its recipient appeared to be satisfyingly blown away by its sheer fubulosity.

6. A Bologna Chub - Yes, there is such a thing, and I have it on good authority that a certain mega-star actor (with a new film out) gave bologna chubs as Christmas gifts to his closest friends in the biz, including other mega-star actors. I think frankly that much of the reason for the actor’s choice of gifts had to do with the fact that he liked getting to say “bologna chub” over and over again. (And who wouldn’t????) Most of these puppies are mail-order only for us LA people, but the Spring Street Smoke House does make them for their bologna sandwiches, so maybe you can weasel a few gift-sized chubs out of them. (And think of the number of times you too would get to say “bologna chubs” while doing so.)

Alright, now over to y’all.

Posted in 12 days of Lists, Season of Lists | 18 Comments »

18 Responses

  1. Text God Says:

    fubulosity? I of course googled* it right away and found several uses of it…on MySpace. Still I am flummoxed by fubulosity. Is it a variant of fabulous? Inquiring minds… Celeste, do tell!

    *Years ago, Xerox and Kleenex raised issues with people using their brand names generically. Can Google be far behind as people google this and google that?

  2. Woody Says:

    The perfect gift for reg, rlc, and Randy…fruitcake.

  3. "reg" Says:

    I’m gonna toss in 2 DVDs that I got as early Christmas gifts – one from a buddy and one from …me!

    The Other Side of the Mirror – Bob Dylan live at the Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1965. (I’m not suggesting that one avoid the anti-biopic “I’m Not There” at all costs if you’re a diehard Dylan fan, but this is a hell of a lot better way to spend your time and money.) There’s a lot of great music on this – most of it not seen before, including a cool appearance by Johnny Cash – but the amazing thing is seeing the transformation of Dylan from scruffy folky to “about to be” rock icon in the space of two years. (A bit more Joan Baez than suits my taste, and there’s a a hilarious recurring cameo by an increasingly clueless Peter Yarrow as “Mr. Jones.”)

    The Johnny Cash Show – this is the best “new” music DVD out there. The cream of Johnny’s TV show (with a pretty decent documentary “wrap-around” putting Cash’s unique role in the culture in context.) Includes performances by everyone imaginable – Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Eric Clapton, Tammy Wynette, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Stevie Wonder, Bill Monroe, Louis Armstrong… A great trip through what was clearly a golden era of American music.

  4. "reg" Says:

    Woody’s dumb stuff aside, I did in fact get a great fruitcake for Christmas (a yearly ritual sent from my sister). I know a lot of people don’t like it because most of the stuff you can buy is terrible and even if you have a good recipe it’s a pain to make it four months in advance and age it properly in rum and whiskey. (I’ve always thought of fruitcake as a treat because my mother made an incredible fruitcake – one of the original chefs at Chez Panisse told me it was the best she’d ever had and demanded I give her the recipe!) I might make that recipe myself again some time, but the only fruitcake I’ve tasted that comes close to her home-made ones is baked by the Trappist monks at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri. They’re sold out this year, as always, but you can order one again in February for next Christmas/New Year. I’m a year ahead of the game so the one I’m cracking open right now has been aged since 2006. Trust me…these are great fruitcakes, even if you think you don’t like the stuff. You can google them and they’re also sold annually at Williams-Sonoma, although they up the price rather absurdly.

  5. Randy Paul Says:

    The perfect gift for reg, rlc, and Randy…fruitcake.


    A pound of the Iberico ham, which has just become legal to sell in the US. It’s aged for two years and costs about $50/pound.

    An Illy single cup coffee maker. The culinary thing that impressed me in Italy was how every single cup of coffee was incredible, even from vending machines.

    A 1080i DLP projector with three HDMI inputs. One of my brothers in Alabama sells and isntalls home theater systems. In his house he has a room he calls his “man cave” with blackout curtains, a 1080i projector projecting onto a glass-beaded 96″ screen, two subwoofers, one rated at 1350 watts and the other at 1000 watts and 7 other speakers. It’s as good as a theater.

    The Essential Art House – 50 Years of Janus Films. 50 DVDs of some of the Best Films ever made.

    UA 90th Anniversary Prestige Collection – 110 DVD’s ranging from the Apartment to Hotel Rwanda.

  6. Woody Says:

    Chia Pets!

  7. "reg" Says:

    I”t’s aged for two years and costs about $50/pound.”

    Gee – and I thought my wife had managed to find the most expensive ham available…

    Better not tell her about this one.

    Speaking of illegal products that have recently gone on market in time for Christmas ’07, St. George Spirits – a high-end spirits distiller in Alameda (the town) – made the first legal absinthe produced in the U.S. since 1912 available on December 21st. Unfortunately for last minute Christmas shoppers, it sold out the first day. (They’re cooking up more of the stuff that will be available at the end of January. Recently made legal again in most countries, the duly constituted authorities finally figured out that there’s nothing in absinthe that is addictive or poisonous – other than the alcohol, of which it often has an unusually high proof.)

  8. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Dear Miz or Mr. Text God. No, fabulosity is definitely not a word. But this really should not stop one from exploring the cool-osity of it’s uses.

    Great fruitcakes are indeed a think of beauty. I used to make a killer one, now I can’t for the life of me find the recipe. Amazingly it was something I found published on the side of bottle of one of the ingredients around 25 years ago, and was I surprising winner. (I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could duplicate it, but I funneled those urges into make semi-quirky Christmas decorations, like the brightly painted super-sculpy rattlesnakes I enthusiastically decided to make as tree ornaments a couple years back.

    This year I’m doing….what else? Burning a nice, new, slightly strange Christmas compilation CD for family members and friends (This is all done with your help, of course. I couldn’t have managed such a stellar list without all your great contributions back on the anti-poor Josh Groban thread.)

    Reg, great CD suggestions. Those may need to be downloaded nearly immediately at our house.

  9. "reg" Says:

    Oh, here’s one more last-minute “Christmas gift” from me.

    Don’t go see “Sweeney Todd!” – at least not if you’ve ever seen it on stage and enjoyed the experience. It might be a must-see for Tim Burton and/or Johnny Depp fans, but they didn’t do Stephen Sondheim’s show any favors with this nasty thing.

    We had seen a terrific stage production earlier this year and loved it. The movie, once you get past the art direction after a few minuties, doesn’t even begin to match up. Terribly disappointing. They’ve cut much of the best music and the blood and gore of the piece is so in your face that it utterly destroys the stage version’s underlying charm and emotion. It felt like the knives had been taken to Sondheim’s vision with as deadly results as for Sweeney’s customers. (The version to see live is the minimalist one that incorporates the orchestra into the stage ensemble – it’s a delight.)

  10. Randy Paul Says:


    It gets much worse:

    NOTE: This is a deposit only for a traditional Jamón Iberico Bellota ham. Your deposit will put you on a waiting list. Bone-in hams weigh on the average about 15 lb. The approximate cost will be $96/lb – with the FINAL PRICE being about $1500. The target date for delivery of the whole traditional “pata negra” Jamón Iberico is the summer of 2008.

    Like Beluga caviar or Kobe beef, “Jamón Iberico Bellota” is the ultimate of its kind. We have been on a quest for this finest of all hams since we founded La Tienda more than ten years ago.

    The hams come from an ancient breed of pig, Cerdo Ibérico, which has been roaming the woodland meadows of western Spain feeding on acorns for thousands of years. Jamón Iberico Bellota is the pride of Spain, and Spaniards consume the vast majority of the limited number of hams produced in their own country. Some producers have waiting lists for several years for their best products.

    Each fall a traditional group of breeders sets aside a select group of young pigs, allowing them to roam the dehesa woodlands. There they feast upon acorns which are falling in abundance from the holm oak and cork trees. They gorge themselves, putting on at least two pounds of weight each day!

    When it is time for their sacrifice (the Spanish term for slaughter), these genetically unique animals produce Jamón Ibérico Bellota hams that are marbled with rich golden fat infused with the flavor of the Iberico pigs’ favorite food: the acorn -’bellota’ in Spanish. Remarkably, a good portion of which is mono-unsaturated, similar to healthy olive oil. Sliced paper-thin, it glistens at room temperature and provides an inimitable rich nutty flavor and tender texture.

    Each ham will be weighed before shipping. Because of variation in the size of the Jamón, the price of the individual ham will vary. Bone-in hams will weigh about 15 lb. Due to the variations in the valuation of the Euro, the final cost may be slightly different than discussed above.

    Jamon, Jamon, which is not on DVD is Penelope Cruz’s first feature film.

  11. "reg" Says:

    I was considering it might concievably be worth the splurge until I came to this: “Due to the variations in the valuation of the Euro, the final cost may be slightly different than discussed above.” By next summer the damned things will probably cost something close to three grand stateside.

    Makes that UA 90th anniversary collection, at only $651.99 on Amazon, seem like quite the bargain.

  12. Randy Paul Says:

    I’d be afraid to eat it. When I want Serrano ham, I go to Despana Soho, get the despana bocadillo with Serrano, goat cheese and garlic and tomato spread on ciabbata bread: $8 and worth every penny.

  13. Listener Says:

    Happy Holidays to you and yours, Celeste.

    And, best wishes of the season to all who visit here.

  14. Woody Says:

    I don’t understand what kind of friends some of you have who wouldn’t rather have a gift card from Home Depot or Lowes. The sound of a power tool is sweeter than most CD’s. I especially like chain saws.

  15. Randy Paul Says:

    What makes you think I wouldn’t? I have to renovate my bathroom early next year. I figure the tiles, pedestal sink, new towel racks, plumbing fixtures and other supplies will run around 1,200 to 1,500.

    Anyone willing to help out, please feel free to hit the tip jar on my site . . .

  16. Woody Says:

    You can borrow my chain saw.

  17. Randy Paul Says:

    No thanks, Leatherface ;-)

  18. Helen Carver Says:

    good luck

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