December 05 2005 12:00 AM EST
November 15 2015 6:16 AM EST
Who doesn't love a pop-up book? Two of this season's best are Matthew Reinhart's Cinderella and Robert Sabuda's Winter's Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey (Simon & Schuster, $26.95 each).
Those Queer Eye guys just can't stop making your life hipper and more fun. Share Ted Allen's The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes (Clarkson Potter, $27.50) with the overscheduled cook in your life. For gender-venturous children and their families, there's Carson Kressley's fun You're Different and That's Super (Simon & Schuster, $12.95), a storybook about an ostracized unicorn with adorable illustrations by Jared Lee.
Stocking-stuffer alert: BukAmerica's series of $1.49 Buks (available from bukamerica.com) offer complete short works in sturdy, handsome bindings. Selections include an Edith Wharton story, Lynn Davis's photo essay on icebergs, and art critic Christopher Knight's essay on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Think "craft fair" is synonymous with "losers' creepy hobbies"? Not so: Greg Der Ananian's Bazaar Bizarre (Viking Studio, $16.95) will speak to the tattooed cross-stitch or print-making artist in your life. It includes profiles of the book's many countercultural contributors and handy directions to make anarchy soap, hair extensions, sock monkeys, and more. And yes, Der Ananian created the cross-stitch art on the cover.
For your friends' coffee tables: Relive the 1970s with the photos and stories in Bar Mitzvah Disco (Crown, $23.95), "with a foreword by the Village People" (need we say more?). Remake your home with Jonathan Adler: My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living (ReganBooks, $34.95). Rediscover the gorgeous abstract paintings of living lesbian legend Joan Snyder in a stunning new monograph (Harry N. Abrams, $50). Rekindle desire with Kal Yee's sensual black-and-white portraits of mostly nude men in Slide ($45 from slidethebook.com).
Bugs, bats, and apes
Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Three (Warner, $64.92) offers 60 newly restored animated shorts, many starring notorious cross-dresser Bugs Bunny. Cartoons go live action in Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 (Warner, $72.92), complete with nippled costumes in two of the four original features. And purists will love The King Kong Collection (Warner: $39.92), which includes the 1933 classic; the sequel from the same year, The Son of Kong; and 1949's Mighty Joe Young.
A-singin' and a-dancin'
Souped-up new packages turn several classics into attractive gifts for the movie-musical maniac in your life. Warner Home Video offers two-disc ($26.99) and three-disc ($39.92) versions of The Wizard of Oz, so you can decide yourself just how good a friend of Dorothy your gift recipient is. Fox Home Entertainment has rolled out sumptuous anniversary editions ($26.98 each) of The Sound of Music (40th), Oklahoma! (50th), and State Fair (60th).
And for song and spectacle, there's always the eagerly awaited Barbra Streisand: The Television Specials ($59.98; Rhino), featuring five classic hours of TV, and Cher: Extravaganza--Live at the Mirage ($14.98; Eagle Rock), a typically over-the-top TV special from 1992.
The boob tube
DVD choices for TV addicts include the 1980s' Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season (Sony, $49.95), on which out playwright Mart Crowley (The Boys in the Band) was a producer, and the comic genius of SCTV: Volume 4 (Shout Factory, $89.98). More recent series sets include the quippy dramedy of Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fifth Season (Warner, $59.98); the underrated (and gay-inclusive) Mission Hill: The Complete Series (Warner, $29.98); the original Project Runway (Miramax, $39.99) with "deleted seams" (get it?); and three versions of Fox's American Idol: "Best Of" and "Worst Of" compilations (Capital Entertainment, $19.98 each) and a three-disc combo set ($34.98). And for friends you'll spend $200 or $300 not to see for weeks on end, there are complete sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Fox, $199.98) and Sex and the City (HBO, $299.95).
For your buddies' macking pleasure, there's Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It? (Stax): Covering his work from Shaft to Chef, this double disc (plus DVD) compiles the finest hard-hitting Memphis soul and '70s soundtrack grooves from the man once christened "Black Moses." The soul train continues with Gilles Peterson Presents the BBC Sessions (Ether): U.K. radio tastemaker cherry-picks in-studio performances from leading lights of neo-soul, down-tempo and hip-hop. Philly newcomer Jazmine Sullivan should give Alicia Keyes fans pause. Keep their booties shaking with DJ Dan's Lift (Thrive): It's a consistently thrilling seat-of-the-pants two-CD set of dark, funky house and techno, programmed by this perennial people's favorite--and gay--club music groundbreaker. --Kurt B. Reighley
Surprise your more eclectic pals with In the Heart of the Moon (Nonesuch), mesmerizing duets by African guitar master Ali Farka Toure and kora (21-string gourd-harp) virtuoso Toumani Diabate. Or go way out there with The East Village Opera Company (Decca), a fab marriage of hard rock and opera: "Nessun Dorma" nails that tricky high note between Rent and classic Queen. Then there's Senor Coconut Presents Coconut FM: Legendary Latin Club Tunes (Essay), a set of distinctive, contemporary South American dance-floor jams; think Fannypack slathered in salsa. --K.B.R.
Whether your loved one likes girls that way or just feels sisterly pride, this year's crop of CDs by, for, or about women will liven up your holiday giving. Start with the sass of Music From and Inspired by Desperate Housewives (Hollywood): A ladies-only lineup (k.d. lang, Indigo Girls, Shania) overhauls pop and country classics like "One's on the Way," and the disc features bitchy dialogue snippets to boot. U.K. songbird Kate Bush is back with Aerial (Columbia)--sublime ruminations, perfect for your favorite yoga mama. Know a Norah Jones or Diana Krall diehard? Dreaming Wide Awake by Lizz Wright (Verve Forecast) hits the spot, and Toshi Reagon guests. Most delicious of all is One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found (Rhino): It's four discs of lip-gloss-smackin' '60s ditties by Lulu, Lesley, Dusty, and future gay icons Dolly Parton and Cher. Deceptive hatbox packaging will confound pesky gift-guessers! --K.B.R.
Singer and entrepreneur Lee Lessack (whose LML Music supports dozens of recording artists) hit a career peak this year with In Good Company (LML), an album of delicious duets with stage and cabaret stars including Susan Egan and Michael Feinstein-- a must-have for lounge lizards and the musical-mad. Not sure what tunes will please a pal? Give the benefit set Love Rocks (www. hrc.org): Out of 32 tracks, everyone will find something to rip onto their iPod.