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Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Celebrity (Auto)Biographies (Part One)

After he died in the backseat of a Cadillac at the age of 29, Hank Williams, a frail, flawed man who had become country music’s first real star, instantly morphed into its first tragic martyr. Having hit the heights with simple songs of despair, depression, and tainted love, he would, with that outlaw swagger, become in death a template for the rock generation to follow. Mark Ribowsky’s Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams (Liveright, $35) examines Williams’ music while also re-creating days and nights choked in booze and desperation. Ribowsky traces the miraculous rise of this music legend from the dirt roads of rural Alabama to the now-immortal stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and finally to a sad, lonely end on New Year s Day, 1953. But unlike those other musical giants who never made 30, no legacy endures quite like that of the “Hillbilly King.”

Bram Stoker, despite having a name nearly as famous as his legendary undead Count Dracula, has remained a puzzling enigma. Now, in Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula (Liveright, $35), David J. Skal exhumes the inner world and strange genius of the writer who conjured an undying cultural icon. Stoker was inexplicably paralyzed as a boy, and his story unfolds against a backdrop of Victorian medical mysteries and horrors: Cholera and famine fever, childhood opium abuse, frantic bloodletting, mesmeric quack cures, and the gnawing obsession with “bad blood” that informs every page of Dracula.

From his time as a session guitarist in the ’60s, working with legendary rock groups like The Kinks and The Who, to his time with the Yardbirds and his eventual founding on Led Zeppelin and his post-Zeppelin career, No Quarter (Overlook, $35) is a rich, insightful telling of Jimmy Page’s story. It has all the sex and drugs you’d expect from a rock icon, but Page is widely considered to be a mysterious figure and Martin Power’s biography will shed light on the man who made music.

Historian Betty Boyd Caroli spent seven years exploring the archives of the LBJ Library, interviewing dozens of people, and mining never-before-released letters between Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson. The result? Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage that Made a President (Simon & Schuster, $18) They married with a tacit agreement: This highly gifted politician would take her away, and she would save him from his weaknesses. The conventional story goes that Lyndon married Lady Bird for her money and demeaned her by flaunting his many affairs, and that her legacy was protecting the nation’s wildflowers.
But Caroli shows that she was also the one who swooped in to make the key call to a donor, to keep the team united, to campaign in hostile territory, and to jump-start Lyndon out of his paralyzing dark moods.

Described by his friend Richard Burton as “the most original actor to come out of Britain since the war,” Peter O’Toole was also unpredictable with a dangerous edge he brought to his roles and to his real life. With the help of exclusive interviews with colleagues and close friends, Peter O’Toole: The Definitive Biography (Thomas Dunne Books, $28.99), paints the first complete picture of this complex and much-loved man. The book reveals what drove him to extremes, why he drank to excess for many years and hated authority, but it also describes a man who was fiercely intelligent with a great sense of humor and huge energy. Giving full weight to his extraordinary career, this is an insightful, funny and moving tribute to an iconic actor who made a monumental contribution to theatre and cinema.

On August 16, 1952, Ian Fleming wrote to his wife, Ann, “My love, This is only a tiny letter to try out my new typewriter and to see if it will write golden words since it is made of gold.” He had bought the golden typewriter as a present to himself for finishing his first novel, Casino Royale. “It marked in glamorous style the arrival of James Bond, agent 007, and the start of a career that saw Fleming become one the world’s most celebrated thriller-writers. And he did write golden words. Before his death in 1964 he produced 14 best-selling Bond books, two works of non-fiction and the famous children’s story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Fleming’s output was matched by an equally energetic flow of letters. He wrote constantly, to his wife, publisher, editors, fans, friends and critics; his letters also reflect his friendship with such contemporaries as Raymond Chandler, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham. Enjoy The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters (Bloomsbury, $30).

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Palmer and his yellow lab, Mulligan, riding around his home in … what else? a golf cart!

Arnold Palmer is considered the most important golfer in history. As a follow-up to his 1999 autobiography, Palmer takes stock of the many experiences of his life in A Life Well Played (St. martin’s Press, $22.99), bringing new details and insights to some familiar stories and sharing new ones. He offers advice and guidance, sharing stories of his career on the course, success in business and the great relationships that give meaning to his life. This book is Palmer’s gift to the world–a treasure trove of entertaining anecdotes and timeless wisdom that readers will celebrate and cherish.

Breaking bad, reading well. In his riveting memoir A Life in Parts (Scribner, $27), Bryan Cranston traces his zigzag journey from his chaotic childhood to his dramatic epiphany, and beyond, to mega-stardom and a cult-like following, by vividly revisiting the many parts he’s played. With great humor, and much humility, Cranston chronicles his unlikely rise from a soap opera regular, trying to learn the ropes and the politics of show business on the fly. Discussing his failures as few men do, describing his work as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about innate talent, its benefits, challenges, and proper maintenance, but ultimately the book is about the necessity and transformative power of hard work.

Derailed in the ’70s by mental illness, drug use and the shifting fortunes of the band, Brian Wilson came back again and again over the next few decades, surviving and thriving. In I am Brian Wilson (Da Capo Press, $26.99), he weighs in on the sources of his creative inspiration and on his struggles, the exhilarating highs and the debilitating lows. Whether he’s talking about his childhood, his band mates or his own inner demons, Wilson’s story, told in his own voice and in his own way, unforgettably illuminates the man behind the music, working through the turbulence and discord to achieve, at last, a new harmony.

This is the story of the Beatles’ harrowing rise to fame: Focusing on that seven-year stretch from the time the boys met as teenagers to early 1964, when the Fab Four made their momentous first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. From the boys’ humble beginnings in Liverpool, to the cellars of Hamburg, When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top (Running Press, $24.95) includes stories never before told, including the heartbreaks and the lucky breaks. Included are an eyewitness account of that first meeting between Lennon and McCartney, the inside story of how Ringo replaced Pete Best, an exploration of the brilliant but troubled soul of manager Brian Epstein, and the real scoop on their disastrous first visit to Germany and the death of Stu Sutcliffe.

Amy Winehouse died at 27. With a worldwide fanbase and millions of record sales to her name, she should have had the world at her feet. Instead, in the years prior to her passing, she battled addictions and was often the subject of tabloid headlines. Amy’s mother, Janis, knew the real Amy as no one else did. In Loving Amy: A Mother’s Story (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99) Janis reveals the full story of the daughter she loved. As the world watched the rise of a superstar, then the freefall of an addict to her untimely death, Janis simply saw her Amy, the girl she’d given birth to in 1983; the girl she’d raised and stood by despite her unruly behavior; the girl whose body she was forced to identify two days after her death-and the girl she’s grieved for every day since.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best from PBS Distribution

A Downton Abbey fan? That’s number 567,340,027. This holiday season will be the ultimate celebration for those millions. PBS Distribution has released two all-new complete box sets of the series, as well as a stocking full of officially licensed Downton Abbey merchandise. Visit shoppbs.org for deals that will dazzle fans.

First we tease you with a clip. How many times have you seen this episode?

Downton Abbey: The Complete Limited Edition Collector’s Set is the ultimate gift. All six seasons–52 episodes–of the Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG-winning program are offered. The set contains 13 hours of bonus content including 5 all new hours as well as exclusive collectible keepsakes that lovers of the series will cherish forever. This is the ultimate Downton Abbey box set and a must-have for every fan.download
The beautiful gold keepsake box contains a working Downton Abbey pull-bell, ready to hang on the wall or stand on a shelf. There’s a collectible set of six elegant cork-based coasters featuring the official Downton Abbey crest. There’s The Costumes of Downton Abbey, an exclusive photo-filled booklet featuring a forward from executive producer Gareth Neame. Then there’s a collectible hardcover book with 22 discs featuring the 52 episodes, including each season finale Christmas special, video extras from each season, full color photography and favorite quotes from iconic characters.

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection
Led by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith, the acclaimed ensemble cast brings to life all the drama and intrigue of the inhabitants of Downton Abbey, the lavish English country manor, home to the Earl of Grantham.22409e5a802cdc22a0635db35c15d72e This complete collection set, available just in time for the holidays, includes all 52 episodes of the series of this Golden Globe, SAG and Emmy-winning series, following the Crawley family and their servants through all of the splendor and romance, desire and heartbreak, scandal and rumor that Downton Abbey viewers across the globe have grown to love.

Downton Abbey Resin Castle Ornament
Honor the history and elegance of the grand architectural style of Downton Abbey (actually Highclere Castle) withppbs3-16163847reg this beautifully detailed ornament made of high-quality resin that will allow you to enjoy Downton Abbey’s classic style for years to come. It stands 3.5 inches tall.

 

Downton Abbey Trio Pull Bell Ornament
Whether you spent your days upstairs or down, the ringing of bells was a constant sound. This replica of the trio pull bells used by the family and staff of Downton Abbey will help you ring in the holidays year after year.0fe9d670-fc4b-4816-a7dd-d15a695ae81b_1-50d68b43b789808346331535f9f509f2

Downton Abbey Rotating Musical Glitter Dome
This elegant glass glitter dome features a detailed look at the castle and with the flick of the wrist you can see the magic at Downton. This collectible is perfect for every fan in the family.ppbs3-21792925reg

Downton Abbey Porcelain Teacup LED Night Light
This stylish teacup and saucer night light will illuminate your hallway or any room with its bright LED light and easy ppbs3-24064145regon and off switch. It’s the perfect gift for tea enthusiasts and Downton Abbey fans alike.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Coffeetable Books (Part Two)

Something so hot it’s Frozen! Featuring nearly 20 pop-ups from bestselling artist and pop-up guru Matthew Reinhart, Frozen: A Pop-Up Adventure (Disney Publishing, $40), is an eye-popping work of art revisits the enduring story of FrozenElsa and Anna’s remarkable adventure lives on in a magnificent display of paper engineering and artistic devotion. Frozen Pop-Up is a vibrant tribute to these beloved characters and teaches readers of all ages to let it go.


Audrey: The 50s
(Dey Street, $45) is a 
stunning photographic compilation showcasing Hepburn’s iconic career in the ’50s, the decade that solidified her place as one of the world s greatest stars in film and fashion. The tome is crammed with photos during the early days of her career, and in fashion photo shoots by top photographers who adored and immortalized her. Also on call: Beautifully restored advertisements, fan magazine layouts, international film posters and lobby cards.

X marks the spot. Again. Celebrate the return of one of the greatest sci-fi shows of all time with a new, revised edition of The Complete X-Files (Insight Editions, $39.99), a detailed guide featuring exclusive material from the brand-new season. Returning after more than a decade off the air, the 10th season of The X-Files promises to be one of the most anticipated television events of 2016. The book takes readers into the show’s creator Chris Carter’s never-before-seen archives with explanations of unsolved plots, breakdowns of popular episodes, a discussion of the FBI’s paranormal investigations bureau and other insider information.

The Art of Archer (Dey Street Books, $29.99) is a comprehensive, fully illustrated and highly visual guide to everything behind-the-scenes of the award-winning animated series. Bonus!
There’s a foreword by Christian Slater. Featuring concept art, exclusive interviews, script excerpts and the never-before-released original pitch for the series, this amazing collection offers an utterly unique view of the Archer creative process.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the United States Military Academy has authorized a new military history series that will bear the name West Point. That text has been updated repeatedly, but now it has been completely rewritten and The West Point History of the Civil War (Simon & Schuster, $55) is the first volume to result in a new series of military histories authorized by West Point. The book combines the expertise of preeminent historians commissioned by West Point, hundreds of maps uniquely created by cartographers under West Point’s direction, and hundreds of images, many created for this volume or selected from West Point archives.

Missed the red-hot exhibition on the visionary work and fervent imagination of director Guillermo del Tor? Fret not. Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks and Collections  (Insight Editions, $29.99) is the perfect accompaniment to the exhibition, which focuses on del Toro s creative process, including the well-defined themes that he obsessively returns to in all his films, the journals in which he logs his ideas, and the vast and inspiring collection of art and pop culture ephemera that he has amassed at his private man cave, Bleak House. Filled with imagery from the exhibit, including favorite pieces of art that del Toro has chosen for the exhibit, and pertinent journal pages, the book will further delve further into the director s world through exclusive in-depth interviews and commentary from notable figures in the art world.

Since its founding, West Point has taught its cadets the history of warfare, and since 1847 it has done so through a singular text, The West Point History of Warfare. That text has been updated repeatedly, and now through a unique partnership with West Point graduates, the text has been completely rewritten. Volume 1 concluded with the midpoint of World War II in 1942; now the  latest edition The West Point History of World War II, Volume 2 (Simon & Schuster, $55) begins, covering all aspects of the war.  As with previous volumes, the book boasts rich, full-color illustrations with unique tactical maps created by expert cartographers in collaboration with West Point’s military historians, as well as dozens of graphics uniquely created for this volume and hundreds of historical images, many of which are from the West Point archives.

Explore the greatest art from over two decades of Marvel’s Deadpool comics with the Deadpool: Drawing the Merc with a Mouth  (Insight Editions, $45), a nifty (and deluxe) book celebrates more than 20 years of Deadpool comic art, showcasing iconic covers, stunning panels, and other amazing art from the Marvel Comics archives. 91pyas30ehlFilled with stunning art that showcases Deadpool’s off-the-wall comics career, from his origins in the pages of The New Mutants to his outlandish adventures with the Deadpool Corps and his team-ups with Marvel Comics A-listers such as Spider-Man and Wolverine, this book is a visually striking journey into Wade Wilson’s bizarre world. The book also comes with an exclusive print of the Reilly Brown cover art.

A New History of Animation (Thames & Hudson, $85) guides readers through the history animation from around the world. Topics covered include optical toys and magic lanterns; early cinema, magic, and the foundations of the animation industry; the relationship of comics to early animation; animation as a modern art in ’20s Europe; the emergence of the major US studios; animation style at Disney, Fleischer, and Warner Bros., types of comedy; animation during wartime; stop-motion; working directly on film; youth audiences and animation in the ’60s; early television animation; Book Coveradvertising; games; animation from Eastern Europe; the Disney renaissance; creator driven television series; the development of college programs; short films and festivals; the rise of computer-generated animation;  franchising; Hayao Miyazaki and others in the Japanese animation industry.  The book contains 460 color illustrations, ranging from studio productions to independently produces shorts, visual effects, paintings, studio documentation and more.

A beautiful, comprehensive volume of Bob Dylan’s lyrics, from the beginning of his career through the present day—with the songwriter’s edits to dozens of songs, appearing in The Lyrics: 1961-2012 (Simon & Schuster, $60) for the first time.
The Lyrics is a comprehensive and definitive collection of Dylan’s most recent writing as well as the early works that are such an essential part of the canon.41rib8fmsl Well known for changing the lyrics to even his best-loved songs, Dylan has edited dozens of songs for this volume, making The Lyrics a must-read for everyone from fanatics to casual fans.

The star and stunning beauty whose adventurous life and mysterious death still keeps the public searching for answers gets her just due in Natalie Wood: Reflections on a Legendary Life (Running Press, $35), the first family-authorized book on the actress. Featured are original writings by Natalie’s husband Robert Wagner and daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner; reminiscences by Natalie s friends and fellow celebrities;51eckyrfhjl informative essays on the star’s most important films; and a Natalie Wood Fashion Timeline, showcasing Wood s embodiment of each major fashion trend from the mid-’50s to the early ’80s. Most illuminating of all is a lengthy excerpt from a never-before-published text entitled Private Person: Public Property that Natalie hand-wrote in 1966, revealing the star s own thoughts on life, love, family, and her films.

It’s time to get off the beaten path. Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura (Workman, $35), celebrates more than 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world. Talk about a bucket list: Here are natural wonders the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia; Turkmenistan’s 40-year hole of fire called the Gates of Hell; a graveyard for decommissioned ships on the coast of Bangladesh;917e6bdwegl eccentric bone museums in Italy; or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England. The book revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. It is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer. Anyone can be a tourist.

No sounds of silence in this delightful book boasting the lyrics of Paul Simon. Welcome Lyrics 1964-2016 (Simon & Schuster, $35). Consequently, this presentation of all Simon’s songs in chronology (fortunately including all the numbers from Simon’s musical The Capeman, on which he collaborated with 71n1xwghvfl-1Nobel laureate Derek Walcott) is a pleasure to read straight through, like a novel or a biography, although it isn’t autobiographical, for quite often the singer of a song isn’t Paul Simon. Perhaps it’s you?

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Coffeetable Books (Part One)

Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees (Abbeville Press, $49.95) Staking out some of the world’s last dark places, photographer Beth Moon uses a digital camera to reveal constellations, nebulae, and the Milky Way, in rich hues that are often too faint to be seen by the naked eye. 61fkf2c-dxl
These magnificent images encounter great arboreal specimens, including baobabs, olive trees, and redwoods, in such places as South Africa, England and California.

 

This tome will fit you to a T.  The World Atlas of Tea (Firefly Books, $35) covers tea from the ground up, including why the soil in China makes different tea than the soil in India. Tea mixologist Krisi Smith explains what a tea drinker needs to know to appreciate teas of all descriptions. 81ht-jfnkylShe follows tea from the plantation to harvesting and processing to how to make the perfect cup. The book is illustrated throughout with beautiful color photographs taken in the field. Another savor sip:  Black tea is the most popular but green tea sales are growing rapidly–more than 60 percent in ten years–driven by its proven health benefits.

There’s nothing Mickey Mouse about her. Indeed, Minnie Mouse is a friendly (and constant) reminder to girls of all ages to live confidently and express themselves. In the luscious volume The Art of Minnie Mouse (Disney Publishing, $40), Disney artists, designers, illustrators and animators from around the world reimage their favorite MM styles and portray them in a variety of mediums. Minnie’s earliest incarnation, her classic red polka-dot look, and trendy modern styles are all newly incarnated in water color, pastel, oil paint, colored pencil, mixed media, and computer graphics pieces that range from the traditional to the unconventional. The book also features a never-before-published comprehensive filmography of Minnie’s animated appearances as well as a visual timeline of her career milestones.

All life depends on water and we are running out of it, but where exactly is the water and where is it going? Water: Exploring the Blue Planet (Firefly Books, $49.95) is essentially a map of water. It features astonishingly detailed photographs that reveal the watery health of the Blue Planet. The photographs are produced by the highest caliber satellite and remote-sensor imagery that current technology allows.

You can’t hurry love. Nor can you hurry through the music that defined an era. From The Jackson 5 and Diana Ross and the Supremes; from Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy and his right-hand man, Barney Ales, built the most successful independent record label in the world. Motown not only represented the most iconic recording artists of its time and produced countless global hits, it created a cultural institution that redefined pop, and gave us the vision of a new America. In Motown: The Sound of Young America (Thames & Hudson, $60), the first official visual history of the label, new research, a dazzling array of images and unprecedented access to the archives of the makers and stars of Motown lend new insight to the legend.

There’s not a prayer of a chance book lovers, art aficionados and fans of fans could dismiss the importance of The Art of the Bible: Illuminated Manuscripts from the Medieval World (Thames & Hudson, $95). For two millennia the Bible has inspired the creation of extraordinary art. Within this history illuminated biblical manuscripts are among the best tools for understanding early Christian painting and artistic interpretations of the Bible. This extensively illustrated new book, compiled and written by two internationally renowned experts, transports readers, by way of 45 featured manuscripts, across the globe and through 1,000 years of history. Passing chronologically through many of the major centers of the Christian world. Scot McKendrick and Kathleen Doyle shed light on some of the finest but least-known paintings from the Middle Ages, and on the development of art, literature and civilization as we know it.

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Saint Sebastian Jusepe de Ribera, a Prado treasure

The Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum; it houses one of the world’s finest collections of European art, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and is unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture in 1819, it also contains important collections of other types of works.
Can’t afford a trip? Opt for the lavish and hefty The Prado Masterpieces (Thames & Hudson, $125). This magnificent book is the first of its kind to be published in association with the Prado, covering the collection from ancient sculpture to the nineteenth century.

Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist born in 1760 whose legacy remains, some 150 years after his death, as important as ever. His work influenced Impressionism and Art Nouveau, and a range of contemporary artists working today. Realized in jewel-like colors, Hokusai’s simple views of everyday scenes in Japan, his sense of balance and harmony, and his highly stylized but ever-changing techniques seem to capture the spirit and traditions of his homeland. Hokusai Pop-Ups brings this stunning art to life. The six pop-ups will delight and dazzle!

Havana. Just saying the name evokes images of bright Caribbean colors, American cars with fins from the ’50s, and once-glorious buildings fallen into ruin. Now that this socialist island country is open once more, this picture will soon change. Now is the time to pause for a moment and take a closer look at Cuba’s capital city with Havana (teNeues, $65). Bernhard Hartmann starts on the streets, showing us cafes, shops, and boxing clubs, but he also takes us behind the facades of the mansions, whose well-worn charms immediately captivate the viewer. Crumbling plaster, cracked walls, worn stair treads―we see all of this in the pictures, and yet these places are vibrant and alive. Traces of bourgeois life, dignified and stylish, survive despite the adversity, masterfully captured in brilliant photographs.

Enriched by extensive photographs, drawings and diagrams, Paul Farrell’s exploration of the history and function of tugboats ranges from river to harbor to sea, from the first steam-powered craft to contemporary, hyper-specialized vessels. With clarity and clear affection, Farrell illuminates how physics, design, and experience intersected as both boat and purpose were refined. From the deck layout of a nineteenth-century sidewheel tug to the mechanics of cable towing to the operation of an anchor-handling supply vessel, Farrell offers a comprehensive tribute to these beloved workhorses of the sea. All aboard Tugboats Illustrated: History, Technology, Seamanship (W.W. Norton, $49.95).

The legacy of Frank Sinatra’s work stands apart from many of his contemporaries, who essentially based their performances on an extension of a core character type. Sinatra also respectfully challenged contemporary ideals of acting technique. While being humble enough to learn from his peers, he kept his acting style fresh and instinctual, and earned an Oscar at a time when many actors were either classically trained or coached in the “Method.” In The Cinematic Legacy of Frank Sinatra (St. Martin’s Press, $35), David Wills pairs more than 200 first-generation photos with reflections on Sinatra from co-stars and work associates, and including contributing essays by his children Nancy Sinatra, Tina Sinatra and Frank Sinatra, Jr. 

Over  the course of his near-decade at HGTV, Vern Yip has counseled thousands of people on beautifying their homes on limited budgets. He has become a trusted advisor for people wanting to create functional and beautiful living spaces. In Vern Yip’s Design Wise: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home (Running Press, $27.50), his debut design book, Vern introduces his design by the numbers approach,  revealing the optimal measurements that are integral to making a room feel right. Discovering these simple standards will help every reader bring flow and balance to a home, and give them confidence to develop a personal aesthetic. Vern’s key design principles will make any house a true home.

Ten years ago, an unknown 16-year-old released a self-titled debut country album. A decade later, Taylor Swift has reached record-breaking, chart-topping heights. A 10-time Grammy winner, Swift has been hailed for her songwriting talent, crossed effortlessly from country to pop, and established herself as a musician who can surprise, delight, and inspire, all while connecting with her fans in a way that only she can. Taylor Swift: This Is Our Song (Simon & Schuster, $28), a fan-generated celebration of Swift’s first decade as an artist, collects the best writing and images from the past ten years in one gorgeous volume.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best DVDs and Box Sets (Part One)

Rock ‘n roll! Pin-up girls! Hot rods and hotter fashion! Welcome to the documentary It’s a Rockabilly World (Virgil Films). Directed by the award winning Brent Huff, the film focuses on the vibrant scene known as “rockabilly” and the people who follow this subculture religiously.unnamed-2 The term dates back the mid-’50s, where it was coined to describe the rock ‘n roll played by hillbillies, by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The flick details its humble beginnings to the global sensation it is today, not only in the United States but in Europe, South Africa and Japan. The colorful cast brings you right onto the rockabilly scene-describing how and why they fall in love with this cultural phenomenon.

The action of Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures: Complete Season One (Disney) begins after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and before Return of the Jedi and follows a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. Recycling runts!s-l1600-6 When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact—the Kyber Saber—his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and learn the meaning of family. Relive all 13 action-packed episodes in one nifty set. And no, you;re not hearing things: The voice of Lando Calrissian is that of Billy Dee Williams, reprising his role from the original film series.

RuPaul has his queens. And the Kingdom of Avalor has theirs. After saving her enchanted kingdom from an evil sorceress, Princess Elena must now reign as Crown Princess until she’s old enough to become Queen. s-l1600-7She has help: With her sister Isabel, magical flying jaquins, and her friends Naomi, Royal Wizard Mateo and Royal Guard Gabe by her side, this empowered Princess will do her best to rule Avalor with bravery and compassion. Disney’s most inspiring new leader embarks on a heroic journey to restore her kingdom to greatness and prove she’s ready to rule. Such is the wonder of Elena of Avalor (Disney).

We know the story well: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. The story’s highlight still remains the chariot race: Both the 1925 silent film version, starring gay icon Ramon Navarro as Ben-Hur, and the 1959 blockbuster remain memorable with Biblical proportions. (Three were two other adaptations of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace: The 1907 silent film starring Herman Rottger and the 2003 animated film with Ben-Hur voiced by Heston.) ben-hurA new version hit theaters earlier this year, starring Jack Huston in the title role. The breathtaking action-adventure,from Paramount Home Media Distribution, is a great adventures, especially on Blu-ray!

If you missed the critical acclaim (think applause, then more applause) director Andrew Neel’s gripping drama Goat received at its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, ask Santa for the Paramount Home Media Distribution DVD. goat-2016-hollywood-full-movie-dvdrip-1-4gb-download Based on Brad Land’s memoir, the film follows a 19-year-old Brad (played by Ben Schnetzer), newly arrived to college and desperate to belong.  Taking a cue from his older brother Brett (Nick Jonas), Brad decides to pledge a fraternity.  At first, it’s all parties and girls, but as Brad enters into the final stretch of the pledging ritual—known as “hell week”—things take a violent, humiliating turn.  What occurs in the name of ‘brotherhood’ tests both boys and their relationship in brutal ways.

True cinephiles crave everything Cohen Film Collection releases. Trust us and check out the wide array of flicks at cohenmedia.net. Santa will get a long list. One must-have: Merchant Ivory’s undisputed masterpieces Howards End, in a gorgeous new 4k restoration on Blu-ray and DVD. This adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel won multiple prizes including three Academy Awards, with Emma Thompson picking up Best Actress.unnamed-1 A saga of class relations and changing times in an Edwardian England on the brink of modernity, the film centers on the interwoven fates and misfortunes of these three families and the diverging trajectories of the two sisters’ lives are connected to the ownership of Howards End, the beloved country home. A compelling, brilliantly acted study of one woman’s struggle to maintain her ideals and integrity in the face of Edwardian society’s moribund conformist values.

Only producer Lorne Michaels could make our Saturday nights live with laughter. Witness: Brother Nature (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the outrageous new comedy about family, friendship and fish.  Roger, a straight-laced politician, has big plans to propose to his dream girl at her family’s lake house. But everything goes awry when he meets his potential brother-in-law Todd: A full-time camp counselor with a heart of gold and a wild sense of fun, pining to be Roger’s best friend, and ultimately catapulting him into a series of unfortunate events.brothernature-570x300
As Roger tries to take a stand amidst outrageous fishing excursions, propulsive water jetpacks and American history-themed musicals, he realizes that being a part of a new family may be more difficult than he’d thought.

Perhaps the most touching and important film of the year: When two pregnant cows were trapped in an over-turned rig on the 210 Freeway in March, the City of Los Angeles’ SMART, a specialized mobile animal rescue team, was called in to save them. The team, the first of its kind in the United States, is a uniquely trained unit within the Animal Services division that risks life and limb to rescue domestic and wild animals in the most precarious situations. An award-winning documentary film, SMART: Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team (Cinema Libre Studio), captures the heart and soul of this team as they battle to save LA’s animals.

Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals . . . domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds. The team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget. Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
A truly remarkable team and their story.

Based on the phenomenal bestselling book series by acclaimed author James Patterson, Maximum Ride has landed on DVD
from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  Patterson’s book series spent 144 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and has spawned 11 Manga comics. 91ze3jndmyl-_sl1500_ The film brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly who are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist.  Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers”, confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.

Time Life is releasing several new-to-retail collections of episodes from the first five years of her  show with The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes–Classic Carol. This must-have series, unveiled by Time Life in 2015, features original, uncut broadcast episodes from Seasons 1-5 (1967-1972), unseen by the public in more than 40 years–no reruns, streaming video, DVDs or any other format. Until now.   Fans  will have the opportunity to restore their CB connections and tune in to rediscover what made the program tick and stick around as one of the best hours on TV.
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The 6-disc set  features 14 episodes, as they originally aired on television, and showcases some of the most acclaimed and beloved moments from “The Carol Burnett Show” including classic sketches “The Old Folks,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Ham Actors,” and “As the Stomach Turns;” TV spoofs including the ever-popular commercials; movie parody presentations from Tearjerker Theatre, Insomnia Theatre, and The Early Early Show; and guest stars including Lucille Ball, Ken Berry, George Carlin, Ray Charles, Cass Elliot, Robert Goulet, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds and Lana Turner. There’s also a 3-disc set (features seven episodes) and the single disc  that includes three episodes.

Specially-created bonus features are also available on both the 6-disc and 3-disc sets and include “A Writers’ Roundtable: A Conversation with The Carol Burnett Show‘s Writers” and interviews with show dancer and choreographer Randy Doney and ballet dancer Edward Villella.  The 6-disc collection also features several bonus shows, including “The Garry Moore Show” episodes featuring the original “Accidents” and “Princess of Morovia” sketches.

Your favorite pizza-loving heroes return in an epic new adventure loaded with wall-to-wall laughs. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the Heroes in a Half-Shell also will be available in a limited edition two-movie Blu-ray giftset with collectible metal lunchbox. Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are back to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones.152bc4ff-842d-4ee6-879c-6a3c4af5e87e_1-26522b32e3088bd56cb2b1bf0f1f9643 After supervillain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater threat with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.

We cannot stand hip-hop or rap or any other such noise. But we did find the miniseries Streets of Compton (Lionsgate) fascinating as we witnessed the rise of West Coast hip-hop. Produced and narrated by rapper The Game, this miniseries brings unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to hip-hop’s origins, exploring the rise of music legends like NWA and Dr. Dre told through the eyes of its current and former residents. unnamed-1Compton is a place most people have never seen and the truth isn’t always pretty. Streets of Compton tells the story of how a city overrun by gangs and violence became a cultural powerhouse. Hip-hop superstar The Game takes us on a dark yet redemptive journey into the heart of his city.

We got out kicks from Kicks (Universal Studios Home Entertainment). In Justin Tipping’s feature debut, nothing is as simple as it seems. Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone — even his best friends.a17ne5ymmgl-_sl1500_ Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Recipe and Food Books (Part One)

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a steak hitting a perfectly seasoned cast-iron pan. No beefing here. Chef Rachel Narins demystifies the caring for cast iron with Cast-Iron Cooking (Storey Publishing, $12.95) a friendly, accessible introduction to the properties, perks and full range of possibilities that come along with this classic cookware.922676cookingcastiron_cover From stove top to oven to campfire to grill, this affordable, long-lasting material is unmatched in its versatility and the tasty tome will teach readers how to take full advantage of it,  from breakfast to dinner to dessert. Full-color photos bring the recipes to life, and tips for outdoor cooking make this a book that will travel to many a campsite or hunting cabin. Narins will leave readers confident and eager to pull their pans off the shelf and get cooking.

Air-frying is the hottest trend in the kitchen . . . fantastic fried taste and texture with up to 80% less fat! Although they are called air fryers, they also roast and bake, making them an indispensable kitchen appliance. Camilla Saulsbury brings her extensive recipe development skills to 175 Best Air Fryer Recipes (Robert Rose, $24.95), and has created recipes exclusively designed for and guaranteed to perform
in an air fryer. airfryeradvancecoverBy cooking with circulated super-heated hot air, you’ll create an amazing variety of recipes—from classics to modern-day favorites. From Classic French Fries and Beer-Battered Fried Fish to Buttermilk Fried Chicken, you’ll get all the fantastic flavor without the fat. Imagine being able to enjoy Old-Fashioned Cake Donuts and Coconut Shrimp without the guilt! Not to mention being able to indulge in desserts like Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Cake and Bananas Foster.

Knives & Ink (Bloomsbury USA, $24) is as sharp as a butcher’s knife and as fresh as some hand-grown radicchio. Chefs take their tattoos almost as seriously as their knives; from gritty grill cooks in backwoods diners to the executive chefs at the world’s most popular restaurants, it’s hard to find a cook who doesn’t sport some ink.9781632861221 Bestselling illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and book editor Isaac Fitzgerald reveal the stories behind the tattoos that chefs proudly wear, along with their signature recipes. Like the dishes these chefs have crafted over the years, these tattoos are beautiful works of art. Knives & Ink delves into the wide and wonderful world of chef tattoos and shares their fascinating backstories, along with personal recipes from many of the chefs.

The French way to savor dessert? It’s a petite treat: Two delicious bites, just a taste, of a sable, madeleine, petit four, nougat, caramel or other dessert that packs a sweet punch. With the tiny desserts featured in Les Petits Sweets: Two-Bite Desserts from the French Patisserie (Running Press , $18), you can have a dessert-tasting party to try them all. _35Classic French techniques explain each recipe from start to finish, and lots of variations yield nearly infinite flavor combinations, all illustrated with full-color photography. Go ahead, have dessert first. Oui!

There’s always something sweet in the oven at Honey & Co., the tiny restaurant in London where the day is marked by what comes out of the pastry section. In the morning, sticky buns are stuffed full of cherries and pistachios; loaves of rich dough are rolled with chocolate, hazelnuts, and cinnamon.s-l400 Lunch is a crisp, crumbly shell of pastry filled with spiced lamb or burnt eggplant, and at teatime there are cheesecakes and fruitcakes, small cakes, and massive cookies-so many treats that it’s hard to choose one. And after dinner? Poached peaches with roses, something sweet and salty drenched in orange blossom syrup, or maybe even a piece of fresh marzipan. Dig in and taste the treats that fill Golden: Sweet & Savory Baked Delights from the Ovens of London’s Honey & Co. (Little, Brown and Company, $30).

Bestselling author, vegan goddess and comfort food queen Isa Chandra Moskowitz is back with The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion (Little, Brown and Company, $32) to prove that making festive vegan food for any occasion can be easy, delicious . . . and superfun. 91g8kyvjlvlGone are the days of stressing over how to please family and friends with different dietary needs. Isa provides everything you need to get your party started, from finger food and appetizers to casseroles, roasts, and dozens of special sides. Then comes a throng of cakes, cookies, cobblers, loaves, pies, and frozen treats to make you feel like the best dang vegan cook in the world.

Prepare a feast fit for a warchief with World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook (Insight Editions, $35), a delicious compendium of recipes inspired by the hit online game from Blizzard Entertainment. s-l400-2Presenting delicacies favored by the Horde and the Alliance alike, this authorized cookbook teaches apprentice chefs how to conjure up a menu of food and drink from across the realm of Azeroth. Featuring food pairings for each dish, ideas for creating your own Azerothian feasts, and tips on adapting meals to specific diets, this otherworldly culinary guide offers something for everyone. Each chapter features dishes at a variety of skill levels for a total of more than one hundred easy-to-follow recipes for food and brews.

Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South (Little, Brown and Company, $40) is a great cookbook, a perfect pictorial storybook and a a hefty tome that could help you keep in shape between cooking. 61xlr7h3islVivian Howard, star of PBS’s A Chef’s Life, celebrates the flavors of North Carolina’s coastal plain in more than 200 recipes and stories, proving that the food of Deep Run, North Carolina—Vivian’s home—is as rich as any culinary tradition in the world. Organized by ingredient with dishes suited to every skill level—from beginners to confident cooks—Deep Run Roots features time-honored simple preparations alongside extraordinary meals from her acclaimed restaurant Chef and the Farmer. Home cooks will find photographs for every single recipe. Fried Yams with Five-Spice Maple Bacon Candy, anyone? A perfect bookend: Season 4 of A Chef’s Life (PBS Distribution), in which Vivian wrangles up sweet spring onions with special help from The Avett Brothers, and then turns a roster of watermelon, sunchokes, field peas, and more into new-fashioned fare. She even cooks up rabbit, which she calls ‘the meat of the future’ makes the menu. That’s all folks!

Grab your friends and get cooking in the land of Ooo with Adventure Time: The Official Cookbook (Insight Editions, $29.99), featuring recipes from all your favorite characters and kingdoms. In the Founders’ Island Library, Finn discovered the remains of an old cookbook filled with dishes such as “lasagna” and “boiled eggs.”919poqkywzl And he was pretty sure that the cookbook had belonged to his mom at some point. Weird. So Finn took it upon himself to fill up the book with as many crazy delicious food ideas as he could. And since that only filled around six pages, he recruited Jake, Marceline, Princess Bubblegum, and the other citizens of Ooo to help complete the cookbook. There was pouring! There was mixing! There was a pasta-related Wizard Battle!

Is there anything more romantic that the primal rush of slurping a raw denizen of the sea? With yummy text by Rowan Jacobsen and lavish four-color photos throughout by renowned photographer David Malosh, The Essential Oyster (Bloomsbury USA, $35) is the definitive book for oyster-lovers everywhere, featuring stunning portraits, tasting notes, and backstories of all the top oysters, as well as recipes from America’s top oyster chefs and a guide to the best oyster bars. _35Spotlighting more than a hundred of North America’s greatest oysters, the book introduces the oyster culture and history of every region of North America, as well as overseas. There is no coastline from British Columbia to Baja, from New Iberia to New Brunswick, that isn’t producing great oysters. For the most part, these are deeper cupped, stronger shelled, finer flavored, and more stylish than their predecessors. Some have colorful stories to tell. Some have quirks. All have character.

We won’t clam up about another nifty book about oysters: Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw (Abbeville Press, $24.95) is true to its title from start to finish. Chapter One is a primer on all things oyster. Chapter Two introduces readers to legendary oystermen and women from around the country.71f6zqvauol Chapter Three offers exquisite photographs of more than fifty varieties of North American oysters, along with flavor profiles and ”merroir.” The book concludes with highlights from the oyster timeline, depictions of oysters in art through the ages and stories of oysters as aphrodisiacs, and parses oyster myths and metaphors. The book also features an oyster glossary and resource list. It is the only book of its kind—a definitive visual companion to this iconic, much loved mollusk.

True rye bread―the kind that stands at the center of northern and eastern European food culture―is something very special. With over 70 classic recipes, The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America  (W.W. Norton, $35) introduces bakers to the rich world of rye bread from both the old world and the new. 616cmhxfgglAward-winning author Stanley Ginsberg presents recipes spanning from the immigrant breads of America to rustic French pains de seigle; the earthy ryes of Alpine Austria and upper Italy; the crackly knäckebröds of Scandinavia; and the diverse breads of Germany, the Baltic countries, Poland and Russia. Rounding out this treasury are reader-friendly chapters on rye’s history, unique chemistry, and centuries-old baking methods.

Damn Fine Cherry Pie: And Other Recipes from TV’s Twin Peaks (Harper Design, $24.99) is a damn fine collection of 75 mouthwatering recipes, inspired by iconic scenes and characters from David Lynch’s groundbreaking cult classic series Twin Peaks—returning to television in 2017 with 18 new episodes on Showtime.  81rsin8i6zlThe show has also impacted popular culinary traditions; there are Double R Diner copycat diners, pop-up dining experiences, doughnut-eating contests, and David Lynch’s signature coffee. Now, fans hungry for a Twin Peaks fix can sate their appetite with this quirky cookbook that pays homage to the show. Lindsey Bowden, the founder of the Twin Peaks festival in the UK, has gathered dozens of recipes inspired by its most memorable scenes and characters, including Percolator Fish Supper, the Log Lady’s Chocolate and Chestnut Roulade, and the Double R Diner’s famous Cherry Pie.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best in Music, CDs, Vinyl and Spoken Word

Simply put, the best box set of the year has nothing to do with music. Or singers. Or orchestrations.ssssssssssssssssssssssss Decca has released Shakespeare: The Complete Works, an unabridged collection of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, performed by The Marlowe Dramatic Society and Professional Players. In addition, there are all of the 154 Sonnets combined with the four narrative poems comes together to create an ultimate collection in one box set.

The recordings feature celebrated actors such as Sir John Gielgud, Richard Pasco, Dame Prunella Scales, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Trevor Nunn, Peggy Ashcroft, Patrick Wymarck and many others. It’s big and heavy and could also serve as a murder weapon. Just in case.

The ideal gift for those who want to keep the “Christ” in Christmas. Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Hymns is a true blessing from Time Life. This must-have 10-disc set is packed with 150 inspirational performances, a bonus 20-song CD and a collectible 48-page hymns book with lyrics.  Bonus content also includes extended conversations with Bill and Gloria Gaither, Behind the Scenes featurettes about the “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” DVDs, and an exclusive, new interview with Bill  talking about hymns.gaitherehyms
Since his early days with the Bill Gaither Trio, Bill  has enjoyed a love of hymns. That love has grown stronger over the years, and these sacred gems have reached new levels of popularity during the last 20 years of Homecoming concerts featuring stars of country and southern gospel music.  Time Life invites fans of gospel and Christian music to enjoy an unforgettable collection of the world’s most beautiful hymns personally selected by Bill himself.  The tunes are enlivened by guest performers including George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Gatlin, Marty Stuart and Alabama. The set is only available currently through TimeLife.com or by calling 800-950-7887.

Since he made his Billboard chart debut in 1964, Hank Williams, Jr. has amassed one of the most prolific catalogs in the history of the music business. Curb Records now celebrates that legacy with the release of Hank Williams, Jr: A Country Boy Can Survive, a four-disc box set that stands as one of the most comprehensive Williams sets ever released.
Focusing on his superstar era that kicked off with 1979’s “Family Tradition,” 29 of his 30 Billboard Top-40 Country hits from 1979-1990 are featured on the collection, which also includes nine of his ten number one hits (including his first 1970’s “All For The Love Of Sunshine,” with The Mike Curb Congregation.)hankjrsetThe set also contains fan-favorite album cuts, such as ‘”Outlaw Women,” “Dinosaur,” “The Blues Man” and concert favorite “My Name Is Bocephus,” which originally appeared on his million-selling 1986 set Montana Café. The fourth disc of A Country Boy Can Survive focuses on Williams’ legendary live show, including performances of such classics as “I’m For Love” and “If Heaven Ain’t A Lot Like Dixie,” as well as the iconic title cut–which will celebrate its’ thirty-fifth anniversary in 2017.
The set is available at Walmart, flyt.it/HankJr

With the holiday season in full swing, UMe has several new Christmas collections sure to get you in the spirit and to soundtrack all your yuletide festivities. With classics on vinyl, new CD and digital compilations and an official Spotify playlist, there’s truly something for everyone in every format preferred by you or the ones on your good list.

In honor of Capitol Records’ 75th anniversary, A Capitol Christmas presents some of the most cherished holiday classics from Capitol’s vast catalog and legendary artists. Available now digitally, on CD and as a double LP housed in a gatefold package, the 24-track album brings together beloved Christmas songs from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and many more. Liner notes by compilation producer Jay Landers tell the story of each song in beautiful detail. Order and stream A Capitol ChristmasUMe.lnk.to/ACapitolChristmas

xmas-cdsThe album that started an international movement is now available back on vinyl. Released 29 years ago in 1987, A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1 brought together some of the biggest musicians of all time for a holiday album to support the Special Olympics and their mission. Founded by David Geffen, the first in the AVSC series featured a who’s who of artists including Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Madonna, John Cougar Mellencamp, Alison Moyet, Stevie Nicks, The Pointer Sisters, The Pretenders, Run–D.M.C., Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, U2 and The Eurythmics contributing a variety of seasonal staples along with original songs. With their iconic covers by Keith Haring, the A Very Special Christmas album series has become a perennial favorite on the radio and for holiday celebrations over the years.
Since 1987, the A Very Special Christmas album series has changed lives through generating over $123.4 million in royalties in direct support of Special Olympics programs, thanks to the generosity of top internationally acclaimed recording artists. Since its inception, more than $70 million has helped support 159 countries and territories resulting in more than five million new athletes participating in and benefiting from Special Olympics year-round sports training and competition programs. Each successive album in the series has honored the quality of its predecessors with timeless recordings of holiday music by some of the most influential and talented artists of their time.  Order and stream A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1UMe.lnk.to/AVerySpecialXmasVol1PR

NOW That’s What I Call Music!’s festive new holiday collection, NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmas, brims with 20 evergreen holiday favorites spanning more than 60 years, from Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby & David Bowie, and Elvis Presley to Wham!, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Pentatonix, Justin Bieber and Josh Groban. Order and stream NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmasnow.lnk.to/MerryChristmasPR

For more music to get you in the mood for the holiday season, UMe has you covered with the ideal Christmas playlist. The 70-song collection features some of the biggest songs and artists in the holiday music canon and pairs timeless classics from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Vince Guaraldi Trio with modern staples from Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Diana Krall, Dave Koz, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige and many others for an eclectic and festive playlist sure to be the perfect soundtrack for your holidays. Stream the playlist on Spotify: smarturl.it/UMeXmasPlaylist

And so the music is flowing, from A to Z, with the emphasis on Z . . . as in “Zappa.” Following this month’s release of three new Frank Zappa albums, the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are continuing their extensive reissue campaign by releasing five iconic works of the musical innovator on vinyl for the first time in decades: zappaCruising With Ruben & The Jets, Joe’s Garage, Lumpy GravyWeasels Ripped My Fleshand We’re Only In It For The Money. The albums spanning Zappa’s incredibly fertile late ’60s-late ’70s period will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Talk about rockin’ around the Christmas tree!

Jimmy Buffett has a brand new Christmas record guaranteed to get you in the holiday mood. Tis The SeaSon, released on Mailboat Records, features many classic Christmas favorites, as well as three new songs written especially for the album.
61ux-3alphl-_ss500-1The 13-track record also includes an updated Parrothead version of “The 12 Days Of Christmas.” Be warned.

What verve! On Sarah McLachlan: Wonderland McLachlan sings classic Christmas songs including Winter Wonderland, O Come All Ye Faithful, Let It Snow, Silver Bells and more. Her signature voice and gorgeous arrangements make this a perfect holiday album.saragmc

The reissue of the  2-disc Christmas With Pavarotti (Decca) features some of the most beloved Christmas recordings from star tenor Luciano Pavarotti, including “O Holy Night,” “Panis Angelicus,” “Oh Tannenbaum,” among other arias and songs.pavarotti

Christmastime in New Orleans is a new album featuring some of the Big Easy’s finest jazz musicians in custom instrumental arrangements of holiday includingneworleans “Silver Bells” & “Jingle Bells,” the latter given a slinky, finger-snapping treatment like none other.

Breaking stereotypical expectations of a ‘seasonal’ album, Voces8’s new Decca release Winter paints a portrait of the season through a sparse and powerful aural landscape, invoking a meditative, inspiring feeling of solitude and union. voicesThe CD includes four world premiere recordings, notably a brand new work “Winter”, written exclusively for the album by award-winning composer Rebecca Dale.

A film as enigmatic as Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth is always going to conjure up mysteries in its wake and one of the biggest for the past four decades has been the fate of its much-talked-about soundtrack. Long sought after and highly celebrated by fans, the soundtrack of the David Bowie-starring film, has up until now never been available as a body of work. In celebration of the film’s 40th Anniversary and Studiocanal’s 4K theatrical release, UMe is releasing for the very first time the original movie soundtrack, featuring seminal and original pieces by Stomu Yamash’ta and John Phillips, who composed specifically for the film. fellfromearthThe full 25-track soundtrack is available now digitally and on CD. On December 16, a 19-track vinyl edition of the soundtrack featuring just Yamash’ta and Phillips’ score will be released as a double LP. For the collectors, a limited edition dual format deluxe box, which pairs the vinyl and CD releases with a 48-page hardback book with rare photos.  Order and stream The Man Who Fell To Earth: UMe.lnk.to/TMWFTE A limited collector’s edition arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus Digital HD) January 24 from Lionsgate Home DVD.

Theatre queens, die-hard fans of show music and those who simply cannot listen, not even for one more second, rap, rock or hip . . . enter Broadway Records. Van Dean is the mastermind behind masterful CDs, especially his series of evenings taped live from Studio 54/Below (which also goes under the name of the highly overrated MF). Santa baby, if you cannot bring us the inimitable Charles Busch Tony nominee and drag legend (so brilliant in Auntie Mame), then we’ll take Charles Busch–Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below. On the CD, Busch brings his unique blend of songs both contemporary and from the pas. sdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdaAs our pal, New York Times critic Stephen Holden, raves “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” PS) Charles returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below on New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. Hey, Santa . . .

Carmen Cusack’s debut album, If You Knew My Story, is brimming with the deeply emotional stories and songs that brought her to Broadway. Carmen has been widely recognized for her sensitivity to past pains and joys during each moment onstage. After her time on London’s West End as Fantine in Les Misérables and Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Carmen toured as the leading lady of both Wicked and South Pacific before arriving on Broadway as Alice Murphy in Bright Star, earning her a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut. ddddThe album includes songs cut from Bright Star, as well as duets with Katie Rose ClarkJoe JungPaul Telfer and Grammy Award winner Edie Brickell

Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp celebrate their 20-year friendship with Acoustically Speaking: 20 Years of Friendship–Live from Feinstein’s/54 Below. The intimate unplugged show feature songs that have influenced their lives. ttttttttttRecorded over eight nights in October 2016, Adam and Anthony strip down songs fans know and love, while also offering new and familiar stories of their lives, careers and friendship. Featuring songs from MemphisSweeney ToddCabaretHedwig and the Angry InchOnce and much more, Acoustically Speaking is the perfect celebration of two decades  of friendship.

Two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (and star of Netflix’s acclaimed series, Bloodline) has followed  up his critically lauded first album Memory & Mayhem–Live at 54 Below with Girls, Girls, Girls (Live at 54 Below), a live album of the show that The New York Times hailed as “brilliantly audacious . . . deeper and richer than any conventional Broadway musical.” 61loopkvxkl-_ss500Inspired by Greek female deities, the show illustrates the treatment of women in classical myth and contemporary society. The song selections range from Loretta Lynn and Elvis Costello to Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Johnny Cash.

Set in the wildest decade ever, Disaster! delivered earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and unforgettable ’70s hits like “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I Am Woman” and “Hot Stuff”–plus, and outrageous cast of Tony winners. Audiences and critics went wild for this hilarious homage to the era of bell-bottoms, platform shoes and the hustle.91mvtdemwrl-_sl1500_ From the moment the glitter ball started spinning, there was dancing in the seats . . . and rolling in the aisles.

Jay Armstrong Johnson blew the roof off of Feinstein’s/54 Below with his personal eclectic solo show. Broadway Records has released Jay Armstrong Johnson–Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below, his debut album capturing the electric show, featuring songs from Broadway to radio pop to gospel, with fresh arrangements, a full all-star band, and duets with Todrick Hall, Lindsay Mendez and Billy Lewis Jr. Expect everything from Sondheim to Dixie Chicks.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Toys & Games

There’s a good reason—a very good reason—Build & Imagine Founder Laurie Peterson was named Rising Star Toy Inventor of the Year by Toy & Game Inventors Awards and why the products she has invented, created and sell are top-notch.

laurie_trike
Laurie, always having fun!

We’ll let her speak:Toys help to shape our view of the world and develop important skills. Building toys have been one of hottest categories, and I just wasn’t seeing a lot of options that are especially engaging for girls. So what I did was combine several things girls have historically loved. Build & Imagine StoryWalls are like building blocks meets dollhouse meets dress-up dolls. It’s a unique mashup featuring adventurous characters and rich illustrated details that inspire girls and boys alike to build and imagine.
In the past, toy companies designed their construction toys almost exclusively for boys. Thankfully, they are now starting to invite girls to build, but many are doing so by taking their existing construction sets and turning them pink. I call it ‘pink think’.
We can approach toy design in a more thoughtful way, and doing so is important. The simple act of combining shapes to form a three dimensional structure helps kids to develop foundation skills for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Skills like spatial reasoning, problem solving, creativity, and design. Toys can make a difference. Let’s invite all children to Build and Imagine.”

We invite you to try and test her products. We vote them the Best of the Year because we asked  kids to play with a Draw & Build Dollhouse and a Pet Portrait Studio. The dollhouse is a far cry from those nasty Mattel messes: The kids got to make this magnetic dollhouse their own by drawing their decorations and scenes with the four write-on/wipe-off markers that are included. They customized each magnetic panel with your own artwork; drew hair and clothes on the included wooden doll and combined panels magnetically to form a dollhouse (and whatever else their imaginations desired.1_draw_build__024_edited_web-800x575 After a solid five hours of play, we had to nicely remind them their lunch was getting cold . . . and nap time was a-approaching! Recommended for ages 4-8. $24.99; buildandimagine.com

The next day they spent six (!) hours playing with Pet Portrait Studio.  They helped prepare the local shelter pets for adoption day by providing each pet with a special portrait.
pets_195_web-800x602 They built a studio with the illustrated magnetic panels, then dressed the wooden pets in crazy outfits and arranged wacky scenes for the dolls to capture with their camera and paintbrushes. It’s the fun of a dollhouse with the enrichment of a building set. $44.99; buildandimagine.com

The prescription for fun and games . . .and some scientific knowledge? With Dr. Eureka Speed Logic Game the brilliant Dr. Eureka has important experiments for you to complete. Pick a challenge card, 3 test tubes and 6 colorful balls to solve his scientific formula. c2820264-6a7c-4c22-a2ec-413d3ff368e4-jpg-_cb283032652__sl300__Carefully move your materials from tube to tube without dropping them and position the balls as illustrated on the challenge card. This game is a great, hand-on, dexterity-based, brainteaser that can be played with friends or by yourself. For 1-4 players, ages 8 and older. $19.99; blueorangegames.com

Wanna try and Top That!? Put on your hat, break out your props and hide your rabbits in this magical match up. When the challenge card is flipped over, players race to stack their objects in 1 single pile following 3 simple rules: objects printed in color must be visible on the stack, objects printed in grey must be hidden inside objects on the stack, and objects surrounded by stars must be kept empty.t604_x1_cfed86be0d5b9d51a321c02940b23586 Do you have what it takes to master your magic in this grand stack ‘em up finale?  For 2-4 players; ages 6 and older; $19.99; blueorangegames.com

Everyone is trying to get their claws on something called Hatchimals. And that’s no yolk.  The people at Zeno, who do the PR for Spin Master, the toy’s manufacturer, tell us “ the consumer response to Hatchimals has been extraordinary, exceeding all expectations. Spin Master has increased production and expedited shipments to ensure stock is arriving every week and will be right up to the holidays. We encourage consumers to check with their favorite retailers. “
Yet they are sold out in every store we visited and/poor called . . . yet on Amazon and eBay they are selling for upwards of $500! How sad people have snatched ‘em up and those greedy grinches are making a profit instead of making wee ones happy.

So we turn to a trio of other delightful toys that Spin Master has spun out. The series of Zoomer Hedgiez are interactive hedgehogs with lights, sounds and sensors. The one seen here has the name “Whirl”, and he (she?) looks as if his (her?) “fur” was designed by Andy Warhol. These critters move on their own, making cute sounds while they perform tricks.91mggh2ohil-_sl1500_ When you pet their heads they’ll walk, roll, do headstands; Hedgiez love to cuddle—tickle their bellies and they’ll curl up and giggle. Each Hedgy has soft, pet-able “fur”, perfect for brushing (they even come with their very own comb). Each needs 4 AAA batteries (not included) to hatch to life. $40+ each; spinmaster.com

Kids don’t remember I Spy, but they can learn the art with Spy Gear: Spy Go Action Camera. Prepubescent snoops can spy and record anywhere with this portable surveillance camera that features three camera modes: burst mode capture, single frame capture, and video capture mode. 91qy7pl5yql-_sl1500_Those who want to be more recognizable can clip the camera anywhere with the included clip mount. $40+ each; spinmaster.com

Not as hard-to-find as Hatchtk but a close second are Brightlings. These interactive singing and talking 15-inch tall plush “things” love to chat! She says more than 100 things, including “I love you” and “I’m getting sleepy”. To get Brightlings talking, just lay her on her stomach or place her upside down (Sounds a bit, perverse, no?) Activate new phrases the more you play with her—there’s never a dull moment with your new friend Brightlings! Unlike most kids, she listens to what you say, records it and repeats it back in her quirky voice. de8ca1ce-3513-40de-9c74-ea582ed0a6c8-jpg-_cb282237268__sl300__Squeeze Brightlings’ ear to record your voice, a song on the radio or just about anything for up to 15 seconds. (Yes, she can even curse!) Now press her tummy for her to repeat it back to you. Have some fun and tilt Brightlings while she’s repeating back and her voice will change pitch from super high to down low. This talented musician also creates songs in sixunique music styles. Select the music mode by squeezing Brightlings hand, and then press her ear to select the style. $42+; spinmaster.com

Endless Games truly lives up to their names. They continue to offer an endless supply of must-have games that give a new definition  of” family game night!” hashtagit_content-180x180The best new item is Hashtagit! Each round begins with a completely ridiculous photo. Play the best Hashtagit caption from the cards in your hand. Be voted the best Hashtag and win the picture card.  Play continues until one annoyingly lucky player gets seven cards. For three or more players, 18 years and older. $19.99; endlessgames.com

A perfect stocking stuffer: Ochos Locos Card Game. Think of this as a crazy game of eights with a spicy twist.  The object is to play all of your cards first by matching the color or number on the discard pile. Ochos (8’s) are Wild and can be played at any time. Other “Pepper Cards” spice up the action by creating new rules and different strategies. Ochos Locos is a new twist on a classic game that is instantly addictive! ochoslocos_3d_right-381x600Ole! Ochos Locos is a game for 2 or more players, ages 7 and older. $7.99; endlessgames.com

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Gifts for the Home and Garden

Somewhere, over the rainbow, Judy Garland will be asking Santa to bring her Kikkerland’s Solar-Powered RainbowMaker. The genuine Swarovski crystal rotates and refracts sunlight to create a swirl of rainbows in any room.rain2 A few tips: Always place the RainbowMaker in direct sun. You may have to adjust its placement at different times of the year depending on how the sun shines through your window. Not only does it case many pretty colors, the must-have device brings good Chi into your home according to Feng Shui . . . and the God(dess) of Rainbows. Item 1588; $37.50. Visit Kikkerland

If musick has charms to sooth a savage breast, it can do the same calming to any beast. Kikkerland’s innovative Make Your Own Music Box hits all the right notes. And you create them! Create your own melody by punching holes in the music paper strips provided. musicboxThe Happy Birthday melody is included for you to get started. The kit also includes an instruction booklet to help you get started. And when the music has ended, start a new one: Kikkerland also sells paper refill strips. Item 1200; $23. Visit Kikkerland

We freely make asses of ourselves when we steer you to the cat’s meow: Kikkerland’s Cat Butt Magnets. Their whimsical wonder, from the hand and mind of Steph Mantis, have no ifs, ands or buts about it . . . instead, six hilarious animal butt magnets, plastic animal butts perfect for displaying everything. mg53_cat_butt_magnets_action1_1024x1024 Sizes vary but approximately 1 to 2 inches.  Item MG53; $15. Also available in Safari Butt MagnetsDog Butt Magnets and Farm Butt Magnets. Visit Kikkerland

Ever since we were littl’ sprouts, we have firmly planted the Gardener’s Supply Company’s catalog closer to our hearts than, say, the Sears Gift Book. To this day, we unearth nifty, necessary and never-been-seen must-haves for the garden and home . . . the heap of thank you notes will grow from everyone who receives any of these treasures.

Whether you live in a palatial home or teeny balcony apartment, the VegTrug Patio Garden is just the thing to go green. So innovative is the VegTrug that it was named winner of the 2012 Green Thumb Award for Outstanding New Product. Grow plants at an easy working height in this unique patio garden; no bending or kneeling to plant, tend and harvest. The elevated bed means no weeds and fewer pests, too. The V-shape makes efficient use of space and planting mix—grow deep-rooted plants like tomatoes in the center, shallow-rooted crops like salad greens along the edges.gs40331_01_vegtrug-patio-garden
The Veg-Trug boasts quality construction and easy assembly and is meant to last. (The solid wood is FSC-certified, sustainable plantation-grown fir with non-toxic stain; with dovetail joints and a food-safe finish.) There’s also a fitted fabric liner to keep soil contained while letting excess water drain; plastic feet protect wood from wet surfaces. Get growing! Item 40-331; $279; gardeners.com

Hot dog! Those who like to DYI will relish the Gardener’s Supply exclusive Make Your Own Zesty Homemade Mustard Kit. Created and assembled in Vermont, it includes everything you need to make three different varieties, including mustard seeds, spice blends, vinegars, jars and more. A fun family activity with delicious results: The mustard will be made from natural ingredients, no preservatives and GMO-free.8593911_7445_homemade-mustard-kit-for-dijon-brown-and-yellow This is just one of the crop of  new, exclusive Gardener’s Pantry do-it-yourself homemade food kits. The three you’ll make? Sweet Brown Mustard ( featuring maple syrup, brown and yellow mustard seeds); Dijon Style Mustard (a classic Dijon style with onion and garlic); and Grainy Yellow Mustard ( yellow and brown mustard seeds give it a medium-aggressive kick). Weiners not included! Item 8593911; $29.95; gardeners.com

When Gardener’s Supply promises something is for the birds, that’s a major compliment. Witness this Natural Birch Log Bird Feeder—carefully handcrafted from birch logs, this feeder is not only beautiful, it also provides natural camouflage to protect birds from predators. There are six entrances for small birds to access seed. The overhanging roof protects the seed inside from getting wet.8589118_029 And the center lid lifts off for easy filling. Ready to hang with a built-in braided rope loop. Made from sustainably harvested birch trees from Latvia. Holds 3/4 cup of any kids of seed. Item 8589118; $19.99; gardeners.com

We now chime in with news about Gardener’s Supply’s Butterfly Wind Chimes. This delightful, nature-inspired decoration features  graceful chimes and adds interest to any porch or garden. A gentle breeze sets this flock of butterflies in motion, accompanied by the sweet chiming of handmade bells.8586392_02 Light dapples off the hand-painted sculpture, adding to its allure. Hang on a porch, door or branch to enjoy the captivating sound and movement. Item 8586392; $39.99; gardeners.com

Can’t stand plants all over the house? Take a stand: This Glass and Metal Branch Plant Stand is the most gorgeous solution. Plants and cherished curios take center stage when displayed on this nature-inspired plant stand. The sturdy steel frame has a rustic bronze finish and holds three glass shelves. The compact footprint fits easily into any indoor living space, and is ideal for use in a corner. It’s 52 inches high; folds flat for easy storage.gs37315_04_branch-plant-stand Item 37-315; $84.95; gardeners.com

Yes, Virginia, you can fence it in. Neatly. Easily. The Gardener’s Supply No-Dig Garden Edging creates a polished, 1-1/2″ high border with Ease . . . not the capital “E”.  Use this easy-to-install edging to create a tidy border on garden beds, tree rings and walkways. Keeps mulch and gravel contained. No-dig edging installs on the soil surface using the included spikes. Easy to bend into curves. 8592452_001v_dimex-easyflex-no-dig-edging-garden-lawn-landscape-recycled-plastic There’s 50 feet of edging made from recycled polyethylene,  16 eight-inch spikes and two connectors. Item# 8592452; $49.95;  gardeners.com

Has the mall haul hurt your feet? Are those arches and heels and toes aching? Two offers of advice: Stop doing the mall haul. Do you really want to fight for a parking spot and then fight with those other shoppers for that gift for Sweetums? Second bite: Receive a stimulating foot massage from the HoMedics Shiatsu Pro Foot Massager. Using soothing heat, 4 rotational heads and 12 massage nodes, the Shiatsu Pro Foot Massager delivers a deep kneading, relaxing massage for both feet.fms-250h-lifestyle_final_1 With its easy to use toe-touch control, you don’t have to bend over to adjust the settings. It’s time to give your feet the rest they deserve in your own home. Model FMS-250H;$49.95;
homedics.com

 

Are your kitchen counters cluttered with just too many appliances? Here’s the recipe for being clean and tidy: KitchenAid’s 4-Quart Multi-Cooker , with more than 10 cooking methods and 4 step-by-step modes. We consider the Multi-Cooker the ultimate in versatility for cooks of all levels–unlimited versatility, exceptional control and consistent results with every dish. Serve up Irish Porridge with Berry Compote for breakfast, enjoy Fennel and Potato Bisque for lunch, and then close the day with Asparagus Parmesan Risotto.  2aa4890e-aae2-4900-9bcd-995b290256c0-jpg-_cb317811252__sl220__All meals are done to perfection, thanks to the even heat technology. It’s so simple to operate: Digital display guides you through simple step-by -step instructions, and displays temperature and timer for up to 12 hours of cooking. Once the tasty treats are finished, keep the grub warm for up to 24 hours! The Multi-Cooker comes in Stainless Steel, Candy Apple and Onyx Black,  boasts a soft grip handle with clear tempered glass lid; there’s even a dual purpose steam basket and roasting rack. Model KMC4241SS; $245; kitchenaid.com

The Battle of Gettysburg won’t compare to the battle over the great gifts offered by GettysGear. We don’t advocate smoking, but we do think this hand-cast, hand-finished aluminum ashtray is smokin’.  Made in the centuries old sand-casting method, the finished pieces yield exceptional detail and a wonderful patina.
img_2949_1024x1024Weighing in at more than one pound, these hefty 6 1/4-inches pieces feature a deep ash bowl as well as two cigar slots. Available in our antique pewter or antique black finishes they come gift boxed and ready to use.  Since all of their ashtrays are hand made, no two will be exactly alike. Made in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. $24.99 each; gettysgear.com

If you are a connoisseur of gourmet coffee, then we have a treat for you.  Great Gettysburg Coffee Company procures the finest high mountain, shade-grown beans possible.  The beans originate from Central and South America and are locally hand roasted in small batches and then packaged to ensure the freshest and most aromatic cup of coffee you can imagine. fullsizerender_medium All of their coffees are packed in high quality, foil lined bags that are heat sealed with a one-way valve to ensure freshness.  Each bag also has a resealable tape to help maintain freshness while you are enjoying your coffee.  An extra bonus:  These bags are a full 16 ounces of coffee rather than the more common 12 ounce bags that you might find elsewhere. Good to the very last drop! $14.99 per pound; gettysgear.com

We don’t mean to be a drip when it comes to making a fresh and hot cup o’ Joe. Skip those enviromentally unkind K cups. Enter KithenAid’s Precision Coffee Maker. It’s a classic French press without any of the hassle. 81c3pfukppl-_sl1500_This 25-ounce wonder is enchaned with an intergrated scale and timer. Model KCM0512SS; $265; kitchenaid.com

Arm your favorite Civil War buff with this non-firing replica of the famous Colt revolver.  This hand-cast piece is made of solid aluminum and does an excellent job of representing the revolvers that were generally carried by officers during the American Civil War. After the piece is cast, the gun is laser etched “Battle of Gettysburg” on the barrel and “July 1-3 1863” between the grip and cylinder. img_3757_1024x1024 Then a hand-rubbed, two-part finishing process yields the final result.  This is a great conversation piece for a desk, bookshelf or wall hanging.  It weighs in at more than 1.5 pounds, is 14″ long and has a great feel in your hand.  As these pieces are hand made, no two are exactly alike. Made in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. $34.99; gettysgear.com

Attention! GettysGear offers two sets of Guardians of Gettysburg, mini statues that pay tribute to the valor, bravery and commitment to all those that have served. img_3045_1024x1024Hand-cast and hand finished in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, these solid aluminum figures weight in at more than 6 ounces and make a great accessory for your mantel, desk, bookcase or shelf. The 5 1/2-inch tall statues are available in four different finishes:  Antique Bronze, Antique Butternut, Antique Pewter and Antique Silver.fullsizerender_medium-1  Be sure to check out their Union counterparts! Remember, since they are hand made, no two are exactly alike.  $12.99 each; gettysgear.com

 

 

Bissell has done it again. That’s “Bissell” with a “B”, as in “best”. Get your hard floors cleaner than you could have ever imagined with the Bissell CrossWave—a groundbreaking new machine that vacuums and washes your floors at the same time.

http://https://youtu.be/VbAgKrFV2Yo

With a Dual-Action Brush Roll rotating at 3,500 RPM and an innovative multi-surface cleaning solution, the CrossWave cleans better than a sponge mop and bucket, in less time. Plus, with the touch of a button, you can seamlessly switch from cleaning hard floors to vacuuming and washing your area rugs. This one-of-a-kind tool removes debris, spills, and sticky messes from hard surfaces and it freshens area rugs, too. Get a fresher, deeper clean the quick, easy way with the amazing CrossWave. $249.95; bissellcrosswave.com

UMe rushes the great news: Three collectible, expanded editions of Rush’s classic “2112”

We don’t mean to rush things, but the news from UMe deserves a push. Big time. After celebrating over 40 years together with the same trio line-up, UMe continues the celebration of the Rush catalog with the release of three 40th anniversary expanded editions of the band’s classic 1976 album 2112.

On December 16, just in time for the Jolly Fat One to put under the tree or bush, 2112—40th will be released in three distinct variations. The 2-disc/DVD edition will include a newly remastered CD of the original album by Abbey Road Studios, along with an additional CD of rare, live and previously unreleased material including newly-recorded tracks from 2112 featuring Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters along with Nick Raskulinecz, Billy Talent, Steven Wilson, Jacob Moon and Alice In Chains.unnamed-1The set’s third disc is a DVD featuring a newly restored vintage 1976 Rush concert recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, plus bonus videos of the Grohl/Hawkins/Raskulinecz track and Billy Talent track, and a new 25+ minute interview featuring Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and longtime producer/engineer Terry Brown. The new 2112 remaster originally appeared on the much-acclaimed 2015 hologram vinyl edition of the album; this marks the Abbey Road Studios master first time on CD.

UMe is also releasing a three-LP 200-gram vinyl edition incorporating all of the aforementioned audio material, plus a special laser-etched LP side, the 2015 hologram on 2112‘s  B-side and a unique turntable mat featuring the band’s iconic Starman character. Fans will also have the option of purchasing a Super Deluxe edition, incorporating both CDs, the DVD, all three LPs plus its bonus items, and several exclusive collectible items including two 12-inch x 12-inch lithos, one featuring Hugh Syme’s original Starman pencil sketching, the second showcasing a 1976 Massey Hall ticket stub; a reprint of the 1976 Massey Hall handbill and three buttons featuring each band member, all housed in a box lined with velvet flocking.download

For the first 1,000 Super Deluxe pre-order purchases at Rush.com, us.udiscovermusic.com and udiscovermusic.com,  the purchaser will receive a limited edition 7-inch pressing of the album’s first single “The Twilight Zone” (b/w “Lessons”) and a custom red star 45 large hole adapter ring, both newly designed by Hugh Syme.

All three versions of 2112—40th feature extensive liner notes by renowned rock historian Rob Bowman, and newly designed artwork by longtime Rush art director Hugh Syme. The set’s rare recordings include “Solar Federation,” spotlighting the isolated Neil Peart vocals that close the song “2112” in “Grand Finale,” two outtakes from the 1976 Massey Hall concerts including “Something For Nothing” and a nearly complete 15+ minute performance of “2112,” as well as a recently-rediscovered live version of the album track “The Twilight Zone,” which has only been performed twice in the band’s long history.

The epic 2112 album which guitarist Alex Lifeson described as “the first record where we sounded like Rush,” is widely regarded as a crucial landmark in Rush’s body of work. Although it was the band’s fourth album, it’s generally considered to be the one on which the band’s epic sound and ambitious conceptual approach blossomed. Resisting record-company pressure to focus on shorter, more radio-friendly songs, the band stuck to its guns and constructed the album’s seminal seven-part, 20-minute title piece, a conceptual suite set in a dystopian future.

In addition to its status as a creative landmark, 2112 was also Rush’s commercial breakthrough, becoming the band’s first album to reach the Billboard LP chart and the first Rush album to achieve Gold sales status in the U.S. (it was subsequently certified Platinum). 2112 was also Rush’s first platinum album in Canada, spawning a now-legendary Canadian tour that culminated in a three-night stand at Massey Hall in Toronto, which was recorded for Rush’s first live album, All the World’s a Stage.