Thursday, December 9, 2010

Santa's list

If you're like me, and need to buy presents for kids or young teens, it can leave you rather flummoxed. Nobody wants to be that pathetic Uncle or Aunt who always gave disappointing gifts that you just wanted to toss back at them.

I detest purchasing any video games, clothing that I'll never get the right size for, or any electronics (iphone, wii ....), that will only rot their brains and make them blind by twenty five.

It's hypocritical of me.

I've been lodged into an industry that creates games, sells crap, and squashes any inkling of a creative and imaginative mind. So why add to the monster I've helped build? My family has marvelled that I have managed to "hoodwink" their children into reading, and have pushed them to go outside and actually move their North American lazy asses.

Maybe I'm a jerk, but I think too many kids are coddled and spoiled in this day an age. I was horrified to see playgrounds levelled to a safe, yet dull world. Jungle gyms were both dangerous, crazy, vivid, and astonishingly well planned only a few decades a go. If a child was injured, they learned not to be an idiot and put their tongue to a frozen pole. They would break their arm and suffer the consequences of it.

Here's my list of gifts to kids that want a bit more pizzaz in life.

1. Chemistry set. This can be expensive, but if you look on the internet and find out how to make fun, strange items, you can probably use ordinary kitchen or bathroom supplies.

2. Binoculars/ telescopes. All right, you don't want a peeping tom, however gifts for stargazing can hopefully spin a child into something else.

3. A tool kit/model set. Yeah I know. What the hell? For boys or girls, if you give them something to learn to build such as a working miniature train, a parent will have an excuse to actually spend time with the child.

4. Tickets to a play/musical/local band/sporting event. This doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't need to be Superbowl tickets. For an eight year old child, going out at night, to where all the adults are... IS PART OF THE EXCITEMENT!! For them, they are let into a special world, they can stay up late, eat different food, and just watch.

5. Get them a mentor/hobby/class. Yeah this is weird, but unfortunately in life, kids can't get ahead without an advantage. I've actually paid for a drama class.

6. Books. Look on the list below.

7. Sports equipment. Depending on the kid, it can be a Boxing gloves, soccer ball, skateboard, frisbee, skates, even a weird rhythmic gymnastics ribbon. I prefer taking a kid camping, but that's a lot of work.

8. A bug kit. Always wanted an ant farm? Okay, some kids may not be into this, but maybe they love Grissom from CSI. Magnify glass, a few bottles, and a small guide just to start.

9. Sewing kit/fabric + pattern. This is super weird but I haven't a clue why some of my hip/trendy friends are into knitting and making bags or purses.

10. A blank diary. I know everyone twitters, has facebook etc. etc. but sometimes nothing beats putting pen to paper.


Starting out: Ages 8-12 reading Adventure/Series

Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson Series
(The Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, Titan's Curse, Battle of the Labyrinth, Last Olympian)
The Chronicles of Vlad Tod by Heather Brewer
The Keys to the Kingdom Series by Garth Nix
Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday, Lord Sunday
Nancy Drew/Anne of Green Gables (girls)
The Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Northern Lights/Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

For book worms, novels are a bit riskier

1001 Arabian Nights
Greek mythology

For young teens moving to Adult level novels. (12 - 15)

Abhorsen series
Lord of the Rings
The Book Thief
Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
(The Amulet of Samarkand, Golem's Eye, Ptolemy's Gate) Prequel: The Ring of Solomon
Battle Royale
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
(The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men, The New World)
Poirot mysteries by Agatha Christie
The Hunger Games (A bit too angst-blah, but it scores well for action)

Angst ridden melodrama / popular writing (ages 13+)

Maze Runner by James Dashner (soon to be a movie by Catherine Hardwicke maybe???)
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer (The ultimate source of the whiny heroine and sullen Vampire on the map)
Women of the Underworld series by Canuck writer Kelley Armstrong (Bitten)
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Remember Macgyver? I don't know if it's kosher teaching the public how to steal, rob, swindle, and con people, but done in a very entertaining way I guess it's all right.

Burn Notice has the campy fun feel that suits Bruce Campbell like a glove, and has enough serious moments that it keeps things interesting. If you love Mission Impossible, but tire of the drama, I gotta say... this show delivers the dish quite nicely. I'm curious to see how the spin off, starring Bruce Campbell will turn out. Will he do double time?

Dilute a great dynamic? I hope not. It'll suck royally.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

TV pee

What happened to The Mentalist? What is up with the Walking Dead firing all their writers after the first season. Can The Good Wife get even better?

I stick to 2-3 shows per week. I really don't watch anymore than that... after all, shows are usually best during their sophomore seasons after that... it's downhill from there. (Mentalist being the next on my chopping block... talk about losing their edge!)

I'm one of the disloyal watchers. I gave up LOST after they opened the hatch, got bored with X-Files after it became overly obsessed with Alien conspiracies, and dropped Mad Men when it got to the point where... well... not one of the characters are likable.

When the writing goes south and crap just recycles, it's hard to care anymore. Few drama shows can last beyond 5 seasons, and when spin offs are green lit prematurely, it just dilutes a talented show into "yuck".

Next year I'm happy to see yet another slew of fresh faces, and many "film" actors migrating to the small screen.

The BORGIAS : Known as the first crime family, the infamous Borgias mix religion, politics, and greed just the way Shakespeare would've loved it. (Jeremy Irons)

GAME OF THRONES: George R.R. Martin's version of Lord of the Rings + sex + death. No wonder it's HBO. (Sean Bean)

SHERLOCK season 2: I hope Martin Freeman will not be replaced as Watson, since he'll be busy on the HOBBIT. The chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Martin Freeman (Watson) manages to upstage the recent film duo. Sizzling.