What to Buy Dad For Christmas: DadCentric's 2009 Gift Guide For Dads Who Are Awesome
This year, as we've done in the past, we're offering up some suggestions on what to get for that special dad in your life. Some of the things listed below were sent to us for review, some we purchased ourselves (don't worry, People Who Worry About Disclosure, we'll sort it all out at the end of this post), and some are just things that we dream about (those will be painfully obvious, like last year's Scarlett Johansson Robot Maid). And now, with the wonder of cell phone Internet browsing, you can peruse our suggestions while nursing a tryptophan and Pinot Noir hangover and waiting in the line to get into your local Wal-Mart, a line that's approximately the length of the Great Wall of China. Happy Black Friday!
While reorganizing my CD collection following a move a few years back, I was surprised to find that I owned every album made by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This surprised me because TP is rarely in my regular playing rotation. Probably becauseI hear his hits on all the rock radio stations around here. But he’s always there when you need him most – for a road trip, for a house party, for a mixed CD or iPod playlist. TP doesn’t get the glory of Springsteen or the accolades of U2 but he’s every bit as important to what’s left of rock and roll today. So I’m definitely interested in Santa leaving The Live Anthology. I’d be more than happy with the "cheapie" 4-CD set (47 songs for just $20) because, though I’ve been good, I’d have to have been a saint to deserve the mega 5-CD, 2-DVD, 1-vinyl super monstrosity they are selling exclusively at Best Buy.
Scalped: This series of graphic novels is the best pure noir I've encountered in any format since... I don't even know when. It's sheer fucking genius, marrying brilliant plotting and dialogue from Jason Aaron - following an undercover FBI agent on an Indian reservation - to moody, gorgeous inks and coloring that pull you gleefully, helplessly along for the ride as a rich and entirely believable group of characters experience their own slow downward spiral through a world defined by dangerous women, violent men, drugs, drinking, gambling, and the knowledge that whatever you do is pointless, because in the end you're screwed. Seriously? Buy the whole series. It's that good.
Mono: Hymn to the Immortal Wind: Best damned album I've heard this year, and something you should make room for in your life. If I give you a quick description of what it is, you're gonna want to walk away - because it's an instrumental post-rock album by a Japanese band - but DO NOT prejudge. Why? Because if you're smart enough to recognize the startling beauty of, say, Explosions in the Sky... you're gonna flip when you hear this. Just a staggering piece of work, and one that bears up beautifully to repeated listenings. Check it out.
Cheese: Good cheese makes you a happy man — which is why you need to learn about Sugarbush Farm in Vermont. Truth be told, there are tons of places like Sugarbush out there in upstate New York, Wisconsin, California and elsewhere... but I went to Vermont on vacation this past summer, which is why you're learning about Sugarbush. Their aged and super/extra-sharp cheddar is perhaps the best cheese I've ever had, and their others (including the incredible blue cheese) aren't far behind. Plus, they make their own incredible maple syrup, and have tons of other great stuff as well, and since they're a real working farm/family business hidden up in the hills behind Woodstock, VT you can feel good about giving them your business. Whether you do it for yourself or as a gift for someone else, you won't be sorry.
I'm a sucker for comfortable footwear. It's a given that comfortable shoes are generally dorky-looking, which is why the ladies refuse to wear them. I don't have that problem (Exhibit A: my well-worn, stained, and smelly Uggs). The Birkenstock Boston Soft Footbed is extremely comfortable; unlike your standard Birks, which require some break-in time, the Boston Soft Footbed can be worn right out of the box with no discomfort. And like your standard Birks, the Boston is dorky-looking. In fact, since it's a clog, it's really dorky-looking. Wearing them is a statement: "I am a person of conviction and depth, and am not interested in appearances - I wish to walk in comfort, and to give my feet the pampering they so richly deserve. Also, I wish Jerry Garcia was still alive."
I also love sweatpants. Really, what dad out there doesn't? Sweatpants are to dads what the Little Black Dress is to the ladies - an indispensable part of the wardrobe that serves a variety of functions. We wear them when we watch TV, go grocery shopping, check the surf, write blog posts, watch TV, do work around the house, go to the gym, and watch TV. My favorite sweats: the Game On, from Lululemon Athletica. I bought a pair a few weeks ago, and I've been living in them ever since. Yeah, they're a bit more expensive than the cheap sweats you get at Old Navy, but the ROI is fantastic. My other pair of Lululemon Athletica pants look as good today as the day I bought them - right around this time last year.
Speaking of watching TV: the holiday season brings tons of new DVD releases. Two are must-owns. First, Season One of Sons of Anarchy. We've sung the praises of this show - Hamlet on choppers - in previous posts, and if you've never seen it, you must. If I had to settle for just one movie, it would be Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut. Geeks will recall that Zak Snyder filmed an animated version of the Black Freighter story-within-a-story, which never made the theaters. That's been edited into the film; the Ultimate Cut also contains other scenes left on the cutting room floor.
And speaking of watching TV: you gotta have beer when watching the tube. And nothing helps stave off the nausea that comes from watching Lifetime's latest gag-inducing Christmas movie - excuse me, I must retch - than a kick in the ass from Santa Claus. That is, Samichlaus - Schloss Eggenberg's ultimate holiday beer. With a whopping 14% ABV, one of these will give you a pleasant holiday buzz. Two or three of these and you'll be cursing your miserable existence just like Jimmy Stewart at the 3/4 mark of It's A Wonderful Life. Four and you'll be pulling a Billy Bob Thornton.
Finally, many of you will be making your way across this nation's great highways to be with friends and family for the holidays. Travel by car can be hard on the kids; they'll get whiny and complain and cry after being strapped into their seats for hours on end. To help with this, I recommend the Sony MEX-BT5700u Xplod Bluetooth CD Receiver. It's a solid, reasonably priced car stereo with lots of features. (Be warned - it will take you a while to figure out how to access and use all of those features. The unit is not very intuitive.) I like the USB port that allows for easy MP3 player hookup (it also works with your iPhone's iPod function). Another feature I like: I can turn it up really, really loud, which drowns out the kids in back.
Finally, on a personal note, every year I ask my wife if I can get a motorcycle. No, she says, they aren't safe. So this year I'm not asking for a motorcycle. I'm asking for one of these.
(Birkenstock Boston shoes provided courtesy of Birkenstock and Sony MEX-BT5700u provided courtesy of Sony and Rocket XL. All other products courtesy of individual writers' wallets or letters to Santa.)