All I Want For Christmas

Here a buying guide, there a buying guide, everywhere a buying guide. It’s the holiday season and it’s time once again to think about the things others want more than you do. And since I count myself as someone who is not you, I thought I’d share my own list of “Most Wanted” in case you were sitting there by your lonesome trying to figure out the perfect gift for Lance.
I am not actually expecting you to run out and spend your hard-earned money on me, since I can almost guaranty you that I’ll be spending my own hard-earned money on me anyway, and even though I’m providing you with the easiest way possible to actually buy things for me (online) and all of these things are things I would totally purchase for my own humble abode if I could possibly somehow manage to talk myself into proceeding further down Debt Boulevard to fill my small apartment with even more glamourous, beautiful, weird and awesome junque.
So, here for your edification and bemusement are a half-dozen of the fantastical things I have found that have been personally selected as fulfilling a role in Lance’s Neverending Pursuit of Conspicuous Consumption.

Item One: Newtown Creek Sewage Processing Plant Calendar
Newtown Creek Sewage Processing Plant CalendarI am enamored of industrial design, and you can hardly get more industrial than a sewage processing plant. The beauty here is real, and it is contained in images of rusted pipes, azure skies, chain link and graffiti. As a rule, I don’t buy calendars from year to year. When I was still living at home, I bought Miss Piggy and Ansel Adams and one year, when I was feeling naughty, one called Men in Denim or something like that, even though the point was they were all shirtless. That one I kept in my closet (a real one, not the one I occupied with my Miss Piggy fetish).
The calendar is a steal at $17.99, and printed on nice glossy heavystock paper. I imagine I would hang it in the kitchen near my original Breen and start a whole trash-as-art space.
Item Two: Monacca Bag designed by Takumi Shimamura
Monacca BagExclusivity is a hallmark I quite believe in. Whether that means buying an enormous, embarrassing amount of shoes or picking out a limited edition of the latest Radiohead CD in photobook packaging, I like having something individual (or at least limited in edition) to me.
I also have a bag fetish. Or, not really fetish so much as affection. From my Jack Spade messenger bag to my Kenneth Cole black leather backpack to my Chrome metallic silver vinyl camera bag, I am not above adding yet another carry-all to my collection.
This, though, is something else altogether. Just as I sometimes gasp and sigh when I see what sort of offense my Mandarina Duck luggage has taken at the hands of a surly pack of handlers at Denver International, I imagine I would faint dead away the day I discovered a mar or dent to the blonde wood covering this amazing and beautiful attaché. Covered as it is in Japanese cedar (imagine the scent!), Shimamura’s Monacca Bag is probably more attractive than anything I’d put inside it — and what more could ask for in a bag?
Item Three: NEO KAIJU Toys Set of Ten
I semi-collect vinyl toys, having discovered the remarkable Michael Lau’s artistry during a stroll up Haight and into KidRobot. For those of you still uninitiated, vinyl toys have come a long way from the squeaky frogs you give your dog to chew on. The latest are sculpted by artists and usually occupy mysterious and fantastic places filled with benevolent monsters and small children who rule the world.
NEO KAIJU ToysThe latest collection of toys comes from the master builders at Strangeco, who also manufacture my other current fave rave, Scary Girl designed by Nathan J. (Anything from the Scary Girl line would make you immediately among my Favorite People should you wish to send something my way. They’re all available at KidRobot, conveniently.) is a set of ten different fun monsters that hatch out of blue translucent eggs.
If you’re into comic art (by that I mean art that looks like a comic rather than art based on comics or from comics) you’ll recognize the names Gary Baseman and Tim Biskup. They’re just two of the designers of this line, and they’re all greatastic!
Item Four: Bradley W. Schenck’s Retropolis Archival Prints: Retropolis Rocket Works #1 and Retropolis Rocket Works #2
Retropolis Rocket Works #1Normally, I’m not a fan of sticking something up on your wall that is not an original. You have to support your local artists since the government seems overly concerned about Piss Jesus making a big comeback on the scene. But once in a while I find something I can’t pass by because the quality and artistry are first-rate and, well, you can’t get (or afford) the original.
Such is the case with Bradley W. Schenck’s Retropolis Rocket Works. I was greatly enamored of the look of this past summer’s lackluster blockbuster “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.” The story wasn’t very good and it felt somewhat claustrophobic, but the retro-futurist locale and ultra-neato whizbang machines, rocket ships and robots got my heart all aflutter. It just looked cool. Here in Retropolis, we’re again living in an alternate future where helpful robots fill our petrol tanks and everyone zips around in Cadillac-like rockets with big fins and fat engines.
Mr. Schenck also provides these as posters suitable for bedrooms and dorms, but the archival prints come on heavy stock paper that’ll last 100 years at least. The colors are sharper and more saturated, you can get in with a glossy or matte finish and the presentation just screams “classy!”
Item Five: Singing Birds by Dr. Tsutomu Suzuki
Growing up, I’m sure we all remember some odd, strange and wondrous doodad or kitchy piece of bric-a-brac from Grandma’s house. The thing that reminds us entirely of the time in life when we cannot reach faucets and run into people’s knees and everything smells like baked bread or roses. Or maybe that’s just me.
Singing BirdsAt any rate, in my grandmother’s house, there were the small cracked bottles of colored water in the front window (I think she said they were from Venice and they came cracked by placing them in an oven so they shattered but didn’t break, and then she filled them with colored water to make them prettier), the hateful Cookoo Clock that ticked off all those TV-less hours spent listening to silence while eating Oscar Meyer hotdogs in toasted buns with Bubble-Up Vanilla floats and the prints on the wall from England showing women in petticoats and men in top hats genuflecting and behaving in an oh-so-civilized manner. So isn’t it time to have one’s own odd assortment of unexplained flotsam?
I’ve found the perfect things: mechanical birds from Japan with “true-to-life” chirps via embedded microchips. The motion-activation adds another quirk to their already high “what the hell is that?” quotient, plus when I imagine my cat spending hours home alone with these things trying to figure out whether they’re real or not, I get all goosepimply.
Choose from four different types of birds or get them all. $15 a piece.
Item Six: VillaWare Belgian Flip Waffle Maker
I am not a cook. Rather, I do not consider myself a cook. This is not because I can’t cook, or even that I prefer not to cook. It is simply that I live alone and rarely entertain and cooking for myself alone seems wasteful and silly and time-consuming and golly I hate washing dishes.
My boyfriend, another story entirely. The man loves to cook, and more than that he’s good at it. He recently returned from New York and brought me a cookbook because I had complained (whined, cajoled) that I would cook more if I knew what to cook. And there are just too many cookbooks out there. Every time I pick one up and scan through it, I think “there’s just too much here to ever figure out,” because that’s a convenient way for me to avoid cooking.
After receiving the gift, he pointed out a few recipes that he wanted to try out, meaning that he wanted me to try out on him, so lately I’ve actually been eating food cooked within the confines of my own small kitchen in my old collection of Revereware copper-bottom pans and served on all those dishwasher-safe white ceramic plates I keep in the cupboard. And I must admit, cooking for someone else is not only delicious and satisfying, it’s downright fun.
VillaWare Belgian Flip Waffle MakerThat being said, the one thing that completely bores me is breakfast. When you’re talking lunch and dinner, you have myriad options to choose from. In fact, one of my favorite dinners is breakfast, serving up sausage and eggs and toast with butter and jelly in the dark of night seems somehow right. What you need in the morning, particularly on weekend mornings when you have the time and the hunger, is something that’s just as impressive and interesting as dinner, but it’s still simple and easy to make.
Hence, waffles. Not just any waffles, mind you, but inch-and-a-half thick Belgian waffles served with rich butter melting into its deep pockets, piled with fresh berries, drizzled with syrup and topped off with a fat dollop of whipped cream.
That, my friends, is breakfast! And when you add the weirdly satisfying manual labor of flipping the waffle over while its still inside the waffle maker so it cooks in just the precisely correct manner… nirvana.
And there you have it, this year’s short list of most-wanted items. For those of you who find my endless searches for new things to buy interesting, or at least distracting, I’ll be setting up a new site soon where I’ll waste even more of my time on the Web posting the junk I’ve found, where you can find it, and why I think you’ll want to own it for your very own.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season wherever you are and whatever your belief structure, and let’s all meet in Australia where it’s warm, dry and very, very gay.

December 8, 2004

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