Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Christmas haul - or as I call it, "The Christmaul"

I don't want to seem materialistic, and really, I am not. I'm pretty happy with what I have, and during lean years, I go right about my business without complaint. And we have had some lean years.

But this year was actually pretty great. Best Christmas in a while!

I'll start with the big one. Let me first say that I love my wife. I still can't believe how lucky I am; I never think anything otherwise, at any time of year. But guys, you should all be jealous, because this Christmas my wife surprised me with this:

That's a brand new Gretsch 5422T. My first hollow body guitar. It sounds awesome, and very different from my Jazzmaster. (I still love the Jazzmaster, but I wanted to try something new.) To paraphrase A Christmas Story, it's indescribably beautiful! It is really just an amazingly constructed guitar. It plays a little different than I'm used to, but that's kind of the point.

I'd had a Gretsch 5122T on my Amazon wish list for a while, just as a pie in the sky thing, never expecting anyone to actually buy it. So I was quite taken aback when this showed up.

By the way, may I suggest that those of you hellbent on collecting guns for Christmas collect guitars instead? Make music, not war. What holiday do you think we're celebrating here?

Anyway, onward. Some of you may remember an old post I wrote on the "Made in England" Doc Martens. I was not impressed. Well, I gave them another shot - this was originally going to be my "big" Christmas present from my wife:

We usually pick out our own gifts. This was my pick (my old Docs have holes in them and they were having a sale), and the guitar was a surprise. I'm gonna have more on these later. Suffice to say they are quite a bit different from the MIE ones I got a few years ago. I think these are keepers.

My brother's family gave my wife and I an Amazon gift certificate to share, and my stepmother gave us money.  That actually turned out great, because my launch PlayStation 3 (which also happens to be our Blu-Ray/DVD player) gave me the dreaded Yellow Light of Death for the second time this week. I repaired it enough to get the disc stuck in it out and back up my save games, but after two repairs and probably 6 total hours of my time combined with the knowledge that it'll definitely happen again... well, we've got a new PS3 on the way. My wife suggested it! (Honestly, we've been trying to figure out what to do with last year's Christmas gift money ever since then, so this gave us some low-hanging fruit.)  Did I mention I have a great wife?

My mom gave me these books on Lincoln. I will read them - I like history, and we almost went to see the Spielberg film on Christmas day (went to Les Mis instead, just a scheduling thing. Disappointing, btw).  I've always had an interest in Lincoln, and my wife and I actually just visited his memorial in Washington, DC earlier this fall (I didn't write about that here, but have been meaning to).

Side note: my mom also gave my wife this Smithsonian-produced book on fashion, which, let's be honest, I'm probably glad she gave to my wife and not me, but it actually is an absolutely amazing book. It's literally the entire history of fashion by era, with tons of pics. If you ever wondered when powdered wigs went out of style, no doubt you will easily find the answer in this book - it's a massive, impressive reference.

My wife also gave me this. Such a wifey kind of gift, isn't it? The truth is I love this movie. It took me until well into adulthood to appreciate Audrey Hepburn, but I've acquired the taste for her now. I think my wife has kind of a girl crush on her too, though; she also bought me an Audrey Hepburn calendar, and I've always subscribed to the idea that people buy other people the gifts they want for themselves. She's always looking for Hepburn movies we haven't seen yet on Netflix.

I had a huge misconception about this movie until I was about 35, just based on stuff like, I dunno, the title, and maybe that cover photo there, which is blatant false advertising that's been going on since the movie's release. I understand it; make the beautiful lead actress even more beautiful and sell more tickets to the movie. But this is a movie about a poor southern girl pretending to be a wealthy socialite (in the book, she was even a call girl). It's about a confused, immature person learning her place in the world. It's sad and kind of gritty. It reminds me so much of some of the people I knew in college that it actually makes me nostalgic, even though I went to college in the 90's, not the 60's. It's totally timeless and real; there are people just like Holly Golightly walking around New York City right now. Like so many uniquely New York stories, it's not actually a fantasy. This movie happens, in real life, all the time. 

As a counterpoint to that, a movie that could probably never happen in real life:

My other Christmas present to myself. This is the disc that actually got stuck in my PS3. I'm obsessed with this movie. Rooney Mara is the new Naomi Watts and this is her Mulholland Drive.

If you have not seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, please fix that problem immediately. Yes, the American version is superior to the Swedish. I've seen both. I like Noomi Rapace alright (I liked her better in Prometheus)... but Rooney Mara just takes the character to a whole other level. She knew she had to give Americans more than just punk clothes and a bad attitude to make us believe she'd be so completely shunned by society. The borderline autism her Lisbeth seems to have just makes me like her more when she shows flashes of emotion. And she's just a complete fucking badass when she has to be. I want a Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander action figure.

I'm not always a huge fan of David Fincher's directing, but when he's on, he's on. And the source material here was just made for a director like him - somebody who's really good with dark subject matter, high attention to detail, very thoughtful and good with actors. With so much dialogue in this film by so many of the other characters, and so little from Lisbeth herself, it's really important to have an actors' director for a film like this.

Well, that was pretty much it, plus the stocking stuffers (which included Astronaut Ice Cream). I think I'm pretty set for a while, though!

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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