Holiday Gift Guide 2021

Every year about this time Santa starts making his list, and supply chain issues notwithstanding 2021 will be no different. Here, Santa compiles as always the things he has thought most about and will be happy to receive (and distribute to those who have been appropriately naughty or nice).

Rick and Morty: Seasons 1-4

What could be better than having four seasons on your shelf? You can toggle between this collection and that other great animated series (you already know Santa is talking about the family from Springfield, it is how their very first episode got started). This Rick and Morty DVD and Blu-ray collection assembles myriad special features, such as audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurette sketches and “Inside the Episode” segments. Season 5 now also available. This is one of cable television’s most watch comedies, now you can get down on it and then some.

Almost Famous DVD – reissued and remastered

And speaking of excellent repackaging, now available is the 20th anniversary edition of one of the best fictional rock films ever. Featuring a plethora of bonus materials including director’s commentary, deleted scenes and all sort of goodies, this film makes for great repeated viewing. Santa has already gone long and deep on the film’s expanded soundtrack, but here Paramount Home Entertainment has packaged everything for the first time on 4K Ultra HD, in a limited-edition Steelbook, as well as in a new limited-edition Blu-ray. The film has been meticulously remastered from a new 4K film transfer under the supervision of director / writer Cameron Crowe, whose autobiographical story this is. You’ll also get his critical Bootleg cut (aka “Untitled”). The collectible packaging features a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. Santa strongly urges elders in his age cohort to set the young ones down to be schooled with this film. 

Sitka Salmon

Back in the day, Santa was the only one to deliver goodies to your home. Especially in the post-Covid era folks are discovering the wonder of having fresh seafood delivered. The folks at Sitka bring tasty fresh halibut, king salmon, albacore tuna, crab and spot shrimp direct from Alaska. The elves at Sitka will be happy to deliver various combinations of wild-caught Alaska and sustainable seafood, harvested from responsibly managed fisheries with a 100% money-back guarantee. Mrs. Claus has been pushing the edge of her culinary envelope with some great and super-healthy cooking.

Taylor Shellfish

If shellfish floats your boat, Santa suggests Taylor Shellfish to deliver gems from Puget Sound. Back when Santa was a wee lad, the great great-grandfather of the current folks at Taylor found his true calling in oyster farming. Since then, every generation of the Taylor family has grown up with a passion for shellfish. Santa has treated his elves to some luscious oyster, clams, mussels and crab. Flown in fresh, even faster than Santa travels by sleigh, the Taylor Shellfish delivery has been an annual treat. Santa expects to expand this culinary array throughout the new year; there will be a whole lotta shuckin’ going on. When Santa makes his rounds in Seattle, he always uses the Space Needle as a guiding beacon for navigation. He will soon drop into the Taylor Shellfish retail venue in Queen Anne for refueling.

Campfire Audio earphones

Santa has always leaned into anything that offers greater fidelity in music reproduction and so he’s been very happy with the growth of lossless audio in the streaming world. But Santa hopes everyone, whether they are naughty or nice, has moved beyond the factory included earbuds that accompany most mobile phone offerings. Toward that end Campfire Audio has introduced Holecene and Mammoth to bring audiophile quality to music fans. The bold designs of each pair match the impressive audio quality from such a small package. Precision matched drivers deliver a peerless listening experience in two distinct sonic flavors. Holocene’s sound profile offers an even, balanced frequency response across its entire range, giving listeners exceptional clarity. For those on Santa’s list preferring a more aggressive sonic approach, Mammoth’s sound is bold and vibrant, ideally designed to deliver an enhanced listening experience to the person who likes to turn things up and feel the bass, with mid and treble in all the right places. Plus, elements of each earphone glow in the dark, much like Rudolph can.

HyperSonic DX High-Performance True Wireless HD Headphones

At a slightly lower price point are these new headphones, featuring 3D and Hyper Definition sound, touch volume control, passive noise isolation, with anti-microbial, sweat resistant ear tips and wireless charging. Created by the same engineers that led the development team behind the hyper-successful Beats® by Dr. Dre headphone brand, Santa knows these headphones deliver clarity, dynamics and rich bass usually found at a much higher price point. Whether naughty or nice, users enjoy 6-8 hours playtime per charge, and up to 25 hours with the charging case, which incorporates the popular Qi wireless technology. The company’s HyperCharging technology means that a 5-minute charge of the case provides an additional 1 hour of playtime.

Putumayo: Jazz Christmas

Santa’s travels around the globe have exposed him to myriad styles of Christmas songs. Putumayo has done a grand job gathering music from around the world in attractive collections. The label expands its Christmas offerings with a collection of mostly instrumental tracks from the likes of Charles Brown, Chad Lawson Trio, Dixieland Ramblers, Oscar Peterson, Papa Don Vappie’s New Orleans Jazz Band and Houston Person. Tasteful and often acoustic, the collection moves smoothly across a range of styles. The songs are all familiar, but with sufficiently intriguing arrangements to warrant frequent replays.

Camera Man by Dana Stevens

One of Santa’s favorite film comedians is Buster Keaton. Along with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, Keaton helped build what became the foundation of cinema. Santa was unaware until he read this book how crucial was Keaton in the process. Born the same year the Lumière brothers first publicly projected moving pictures, Keaton’s story is brilliantly assayed by Dana Stevens, the longtime film critic for Slate. Stevens explores how one great filmmaker’s life intertwined with the birth of a medium and of modern American life. Stevens explores broad themes like the changing status of children at the turn of the twentieth century, the mid-1910s rise of the female director/producer/star and the rise of television and the consumer economy after the Second World War. Like a participatory Zelig, Keaton was there. Santa thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Keaton’s lasting influence in the world of film and popular culture.   

A Life in Focus: The Photography of Graham Nash 

Santa has long been a fan of photography and music, and occasionally the two sectors overlap. When Graham Nash was given a camera as a child, it started a lifelong interest in creating and collecting photographs. Amid the ebb and flow of his musical career (which at one point took him to the toppermost of the poppermost), Nash always had his camera within reach. This book collects his images and recollections, with additional input from Joel Bernstein and Cameron Crowe. One particular image taken at the Concert for Bangladesh features George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Leon Russell, and it reminds Santa of a story from his youth when he was at a CSNY concert with his camera. The opening act was Santana, and Santa noticed Nash and Stephen Stills by the side of the stage watching the guitarist’s performance. Somehow Nash and Santa locked eyes, and Santa’s camera was soon in Nash’s hands. The Englishman snapped a few images from his far superior vantage point and Santa was happy with the results.

Miracle and Wonder – Conversations with Paul Simon  

This unique audiobook is only available as an audiobook. It would not work as a regular printed book, and its subject matter deserves far more than a podcast. Hearing Paul Simon banter with Malcolm Gladwell and Broken Record podcast co-host Bruce Headlam is sufficiently enjoyable, but the audiobook format hits it out the park by intercutting snippets of the music they are discussing. And more often than not, Simon picks up his guitar to further explain himself. Any lover of music will find these five hours flying by. Santa’s only complaint was that the understandable reverence paid to Simon’s landmark “Graceland” album fails to completely mention the crucial role Steve Van Zandt’s “Sun City” played in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa. Indeed, in the latter’s excellent autobiography (also just released) Van Zandt calls out Simon on the issue. Can someone arrange a town hall meeting for these two musicians to verbally duke it out? Both are fantastic musicians and both have so much to say on the topic.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.