V8 juice continues to save lives in Iraq despite fatalities
By Alex E. Limkin
This year in Baghdad is a test. One year beneath the date palms. One year at Section 5 on the west bank of the Tigris where blackbirds balance heavy and thick in the trees wondering where the meat has gone. (The flesh of regime critics was plentiful at Section 5, and the birds feasted, swooping down out of the palms at the sight of raincoats and pails and black rubber boots, not scared of the dogs.)
If I make it through these dark days I will be qualified for something extraordinary, like manning a Frigidaire to Mars (my cheek against the butter dish, feet tucked in the crisper, toes curled against the lettuce heads).
I think the vast emptiness of space, the slow spinning of my capsule (the haunting radiance of the controls) will not unhinge me after this.
Top-placing burger makers to be celebrated June 20 to 27
Inquiring minds want to know: What’s your favorite burger in Burque? Weekly Alibi is hosting our first ever Burque Burger Week, which will showcase the city’s favorite burgermeisters as nominated by you, our lovely readers. The winning restaurants will each craft a special burger that they’ll only serve from June 20 to June 27. Nominations are open now, from May 23 to June 6. Flame on!
Albuquerque-based artist/massage therapist/talk show host Scott Conner recently wrapped up production on the first season of his eponymous TV show. The show features a mixture of Albuquerque-based improv comedians and local celebrities. Conner plans to start taping the second season of the talk/variety show in January and is hoping to go nationwide by selling the syndication/distribution rights on eBay.
From the down and dirty hardcore available at your local Wal-Porn to the gratuitous love scenes of Hollywood, mainstream filmmakers are getting it wrong. The triple-X cinema hidden under mattresses everywhere in America delivers fake nails, fake boobs, fake hair and fake orgasms. On the other end, big-budget movies bring us impossibly photogenic mutual orgasms, sex without work.
For those of you keeping track, this year marks the eighth year in a row that Santa Fe has hosted its increasingly popular film festival. It’s no real surprise that the festival has taken root and flourished in the creative soil of our capital city. Santa Fe has long held an artistic lure for Hollywood actors, several of whom call the City Different home. Of course, New Mexico’s growing stature as a filming location has helped cement the Santa Fe Film Festival in the minds of the movie industry as well.
Outspoken fashion commentator Stacy London is best known for her work alongside Clinton Kelly on TLC’s clothing-conscious makeover show “What Not to Wear.” There are plenty of makeover shows crowding the airwaves these days, but “What Not to Wear” stands out for its personality, its sense of humor and its downright practical advice to some of America’s most poorly dressed individuals. (Plus, it’s just fun to razz clueless people and their god-awful sense of style.)
Barelas' newest organization for performance and the arts, the Mother Road Theatre Company, will be kicking off its first season at the end of the month, and the community has been invited to take part in selecting the company's debut season. This weekend, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, and next, Dec. 7-9, six previews will showcase plays that will make up the 2008 season under the broader theme of “The Open Road.”
The Tricklock Company deserves its stellar reputation. In show after show, they’ve gone way beyond the call of duty. For years, stuffed inside that sardine-can theater in that pathetic strip mall on Washington, they made magic seem as simple as chewing gum, and their regular tours brought that magic to audiences worldwide.
New locally based search engine company lets you point-and-click your way to a brighter tomorrow
By Simon McCormack
A search for "beer pong" on CatchTomorrow.com will bring up a link to a site where pong fanatics can order custom vinyl table coverings for their next frat party with the click of a mouse. But if their fruitful search leaves them feeling thirsty and they decide to click on the ad inviting them to "brew up the überbeer," they might just help the Phi Kappa Phis of tomorrow get a better education.
News Editor Christie Chisholm and I faced a gym full of polite but bored-looking ninth-graders a couple weeks ago during South Valley Academy's media day. "Don't be offended if they don't want to answer your questions" warned teachers before we took the podium for a largely question-based presentation. The teenagers listened attentively, a few among the scores of students calling out responses as we asked about their interaction with media.
The news out of the UNM president’s office last week was good. In the face of the community’s vocal opposition to the scheme, he and the university regents have decided to put their plans to carve a retirement center out of the fairways and rough that make up the venerable North Golf Course near the Law School on indefinite hold.
Dateline: Angola--Ten contestants will show off their beauty, their brains and their missing limbs in an attempt to capture the title of Angola’s Miss Landmine 2008. The project, created by Norwegian theater director Morten Traavik, is intended to raise awareness of the plight of landmine survivors. The Southern African nation of Angola has a problem with landmines, leftovers of the country’s 20-year civil war. The competitors range in age from 19 to 35 and represent their home provinces. Almost all were injured while tending fields or fleeing soldiers in the ’80s and ’90s, according to their pageant biographies. Along with fame and glory, Traavik announced the winner will receive a golden prosthesis fitted to her specifications.
Listening to free jazz is like gazing into a world beyond reason, lacking discernible form--it's what emerges from the human brain before being rendered by any structural or harmonizing filters, a musical stream of consciousness. This cacophony can also be downright stressful. While challenging, such chaos has the potential to reward its listener with momentary glimpses into unseen transfigurations of existence.
Rising from the ashes of punkers Tsunami Bomb is Petaluma, Calif.'s The Action Design. It's the pet project of ex-Tsunami Bomb members Emily Whitehurst (aka Agent M) and Matt McKenzie, who have emerged from their last experience older and wiser.
Just last year, some mad hot pepper professor stumbled upon the Bhut Jolokia, now nicknamed the ghost chile. Subsequent lab tests have revealed that the little bastard is officially the hottest chile pepper in the world with nearly double the amount of Scoville heat units as the habañero. Apparently, the ghost chile is a naturally occurring species native to Northeastern India, where it's not unusual to use it as a weapon. Armies in India and Myanmar use ghost chiles to make tear gas. It’s also not unusual to gnaw on one between bites at the dinner table.
Fond memories and food go hand in hand. (By far, my favorite cooking-based recollection is being forced to boil 1,200 servings of “fiesta corn” in cooking school because I had the temerity to challenge my instructor’s assertion that grilled cheese is not an entrée.) Memories are made in the kitchens of every culture. And after learning that rasoi means kitchen in Hindi, I was all the more eager to visit the University Area’s newest offering of reasonably priced Indian cuisine in a striking atmosphere.
Socyermom Records and the Launchpad have spewed out a Turkey Purge every year since 2000. The carnival of distended stomachs, local rock music and hooch is nothing short of a pair of open arms for freaked-out scenesters to come running to after Thanksgiving. Your uncle was a creep? Blast the sound of his god-awful voice out of your eardrums. The turkey gave you gas? This booze will kill any harmful bacteria left in your system. You're fat? ... Aren't we all?
An interview with the cast and crew of No Country For Old Men
By Devin D. O’Leary
Since their debut feature, 1984’s cult classic Blood Simple, the Coen brothers have become some of the movie industry’s favorite sons. In writing, producing and directing films like Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Minneapolis-born siblings Joel and Ethan Coen have garnered a rabidly loyal fanbase and one big hunk of Oscar gold (for writing Fargo). After an arguable downturn (The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty), the Coens have found monumental inspiration in the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy, whose arid Western crime novel No Country For Old Men provides the basis for their newest film.
Three rodents singing, two monsters fighting and a senator in a bad war
By Devin D. O’Leary
Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Now get yourself to a movie theater. This holiday season is crammed with cinematic gifts, from the silly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) to the sappy (P.S., I Love You). We’ve got epic fantasies (The Golden Compass), musical slasher films (Sweeney Todd) and animated biopics (Persepolis). We’ve got the work of famed directors like Francis Ford Coppola (Youth Without Youth), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) and Woody Allen (Cassandra’s Dream). We’ve also got Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Surely there’s something for everyone to savor. Keep in mind that all opening dates are subject to change.
Earlier this week, Gov. Bill Richardson announced the recipients of the 2007 New Visions/New Mexico Contract Awards. In its second year, the program is providing 11 contracts totaling $160,000 for New Mexico-based producers and directors to create narrative films, documentaries, animated and experimental works. Prizes were handed out in the following categories:
Back in the early ’90s, a guy named Brian Morton published a now out-of-print novel called The Dylanist. Don’t bother reading it. My wife found a copy on eBay several years ago. I cherish it, but I’ve got to admit: As a novel, it just isn’t good.
More monsters, less misunderstanding: Is that so much to ask?
By Devin D. O’Leary
Nothing says the holidays quite like a claustrophobic setting, a small knot of panicked humanity and a heaping helping of hungry monsters, right? For those who wish to wash down their Thanksgiving turkey with severed limbs, extradimentional creatures and a deadly dose of Stephen King, writer-director Frank Darabont is here to oblige.
There was a major blow in store for viewers at the end of “Battlestar Galactica”’sseason-ending cliff-hanger earlier this year. And I’m not talking about the revelation of the final few Cylon spies. Or the suggestion that somehow Bob Dylan was behind the destruction of the human race. No, I’m talking about the information that we’d be waiting until January 2008 to see more new episodes.
Nearly a year ago, the New Mexico Book Co-op announced it would hold the first-ever New Mexico Book Awards. Hundreds of submissions and a few paper cuts later, the NMBC and its distinguished panel of scholars, booksellers and librarians announced the winners during an awards banquet on Nov. 9. The event honored New Mexico authors and publishers for their hard work and dedication to the written word and included a presentation of lifetime achievement awards to Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman. Since we all couldn't attend, the following is a list of a few titles that garnered New Mexico Book Award-winner status. For a complete list, visit here. Congratulations to all the winning wordsmiths!
Los Desaparecidos/The Disappeared at SITE Santa Fe
By Amy Dalness
Sixty-six human femurs form a 10-foot-tall outline of the Chilean flag. The earth brown of the bones creates a stark contrast within the sterile, well-lit space at SITE Santa Fe. From the door, the flag seems to be made from crumbling pieces of weather-beaten wood.
My girlfriend has more virtues than I could possibly count. Her breath, unfortunately, isn't one of them. She has a love of extremely strong-smelling foods in quantities that are sometimes hard to believe—the other day she made an entire meal of nothing but raw garlic and cabbage, two of the most odiferous foods there are.
I can trace the beginnings of my love affair with all things gastronomic to a very young age. I was an Army brat living in Germany with only one TV channel in English: AFN, the Armed Forces Network. Mixed in with old sitcom reruns and soap operas was the occasional PBS cooking show.
The Useable Cookbook blows prissy tomes out of the water
By Marisa Demarco
Finding the right cookbook is like finding the right shoe. There's the look of the thing, then there's the function of it. Sure, those wingtips are as stylish as all get out, but they pinch at the toes, and you certainly wouldn't want to run any marathons in them. In the grueling race that is cooking for your family, you need a cushioned shoe and a functional guide, one that can hold up to the task of finding something to feed their young faces day in and day out. I'm a sneaker fanatic, myself.
Asphalt-batching plant is a major headache for a nearby business owner
By Marisa Demarco
Steve Finch was riding his bike to work last winter. Wafts of an all-too-familiar smell engulfed him about a block from his office. He felt like he might have to pull over from fear of losing his breakfast.
Every Democratic candidate for president on down is “against the war in Iraq.” But we wouldn’t be in Iraq if Democrats hadn’t surrendered Congress’ constitutional power to declare war. Then once the war got going, Democrats pretty much abandoned the peace movement. They’ve given Bush every dime he’s requested to get hundreds of thousands of people killed for no good reason.
The circulation of newspapers across the country is steadily declining. That's not news. What is noteworthy is how rapidly the readership of two of Colorado's biggest daily newspapers may be dropping and what some newly released research could mean for the future of print journalism.
"Sen. Schumer only wants to fund pay, body armor and chow for the troops if he can put conditions on the money so that they cannot do the mission they have been ordered to do." --Rep. Heather Wilson to the Associated Press
Dateline: Australia--Santas in Australia’s largest city have been told not to use St. Nicholas’ traditional “ho, ho, ho” greeting because it may be offensive to women. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reportedlast Thursday that streetcorner Santa Clauses have been instructed to say “ha, ha, ha” instead. One rather unjolly Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm wanted him not to use the traditional greeting because it might frighten children and was too close to “ho,” the American slang for prostitute. “Gimme a break,” Julie Gale, who runs the campaign against sexualizing children called Kids Free 2B Kids, told the newspaper. “We’re talking about little kids who do not understand that ‘ho, ho, ho’ has any other connotation, nor should they.” An Australian spokesperson for the U.S.-based Westaff recruiting firm said it was “misleading” to say the company had censored the dialogue of its Santas. The “ho/ha” substitution was being left up to the discretion of the individial Santas.
I trekked down a gravel road in Mesilla, near Las Cruces. Navigating the backstreet past rundown trailers inhabited by rough-looking junkyard dogs, I did my best to avoid sliding into three-foot ditches on either side of the narrow dirt path. I was searching for a music venue known simply as The Farm.
When you listen to a Rat City Riot track, you might think singer Noah Bricker just choked down a handful of glass shards. In fact, his sandpaper vocals (similar to Dicky Barrett's of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) are the result of haphazard fine-tuning.
A groundbreaking dissertation diagnoses metal healthy
By Zak Schlegel
If you've ever been to a metal show in Albuquerque, you're well aware of how rowdy fans can get, particularly the adolescent herd. But since the tragic Columbine High School shootings of April 20, 1999, there's been plenty of speculation about whether or not metal music is actually damaging our kids. Gerald Chavez is a musician, chief instructor ofan Albuquerque martial arts studio and clinical psychology Ph.D. candidate of Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, Calif. He wanted to go further into the mind of heshers, so for his doctoral thesis, he devised a study to examine the negative stereotypes that have been thrust upon the metal music community, using Albuquerque as his research base.
The notoriously impatient Aries will appreciate this vintage Nintendo game on her keychain, a perfect waiting-in-line distraction. Chances are she's also a video game fanatic because of her competitive streak. But if you can't afford to spend $50-plus on the newest hotness, you won't go wrong with the much-loved "Donky Kong." A "Zelda" version is also available at this old-school gamer nerd shop.
Music is a passion to the point of eccentricity for many a Taurus. Appeal to your bull's love of lyric loudness, ladies, planning and local stuff with the 2008 New Mexico Rocks! calendar. Each calender page shows off Burque's most talented beauties with all the proceeds benefiting APS music education.
Holiday treats are the quintessential, never-fail gift. For the explorative Gemini on your list, an assortment of moist, bite-sized cupcakes will appeal to his fickle taste buds. Pick a cupcake in every flavor or stuff the box with his favorite, then add a few others for taste-adventuring. An assortment of fresh-baked cookies, fancy chocolates, a variety of teas and cocoas, or a selection of pastries from a French bakery are other delectable gift ideas.
If you haven’t already figured it out, Cancerians like to take care of things. They also enjoy communing with Mother Nature. If you know a Cancer with a furry hiking buddy (a dog), this cool, practical gift is right on the nose. This clip-on water bottle snaps open into a water tray when Fifi needs a drink. A plus for eco-conscious Cancerians: it wastes less water than a bottle alone, and it’s much lighter and easier to carry than a bowl.
Whether wild and curly or thick and straight, a lion loves her mane. Spoil your favorite Leo with volumizing shampoo and conditioner or splurge on some styling foam. She'll be grateful for the attention you've paid her hair; every Leo knows good grooming is the key to success.
It's important that Virgos comfort themselves after long, über-productive days. These "fortune teas" are wrapped in beautifully folded origami paper, which can be hung as ornaments. Inside, there's an affirming fortune and a flowering tea. White, green or black tea leaves are sewn into a ball that, with hot water, "blooms" into a beautiful tea flower. The tea flower makes up to three pots or can be displayed as a centerpiece for up to five days.
While stamps are of use to nearly every citizen of our nation, unusual stamps help social Libras engage with others. These graphic, colorful and inexpensive Marvel Comics Commemorative stamps (complete with the ripped cartoon abs of Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner) will make for a red letter X-mas. For an extra powerful gift, pair these with pens, postcards and stationary.
If you're looking for a romantic gift, sensual Scorpios are drawn to perfumes with intense musk or floral scents. Perfumes of the Desert have been handmade, hand-mixed and hand-labeled in Albuquerque's Old Town since 1948. Popular scents include piñon, yucca and purple sage, but Scorpios might appreciate the exotic "Midnight Cereus."
Sagittarians are an inquisitive bunch by nature. Driven by a quest for knowledge, they develop an insatiable appetite for the written word. Though they frequently look to the realm of philosophy and science for answers, they stand to benefit from metaphysical exploration. Masaru Emoto's book Love Thyself: The Message from Water III is filled with microscopic photographs of water droplets that have been exposed to words with either positive or negative connotations. Emoto has one foot in the scientific community and one in the spiritually searching realm, much like Sagittarians themselves.
What could be more prestigious than jotting down thoughts in the same book van Gogh, Picasso and Hemingway used? One-hundred-and-ninety-two lined pages of sleekly thread-bound paper, ready to be swathed with ingenious ideas and master inventions, await your Capricorn's most intellectual thoughts. With the security of an elastic enclosure, this nifty gift provides just the right dimensions to slip effortlessly into the her pants’ pocket or a briefcase.
A lover of social activism with a penchant for unique fashions, your Aquarian is probably already campaigning for a "Screech for Peace" T-shirt. The white design on vibrant purple sends a worthy message. All profits made from this and any other T-shirt sold at the Peace and Justice Center directly fund the efforts of peace projects, putting the ever-aware Aquarian mind at ease.
Pisces seldom need an excuse to languish in the tub. A sign closely tied to fish, they find solace in water and will be delighted by these sapphire-colored bath salts and sea horse-, star-, duck- and moon-shaped bath beads. Just don't expect them to leave the suds anytime soon; Pisces will linger in the water well after their toes become pruney.
Among contributors to the broad New Mexico soundscape, some have been fortunate enough to cross paths with the immensely talented and endearingly eccentric audio engineer Quincy Adams. Over the years Quincy, also known as Q!, has worked on countless recordings for our region's musicians, his eclectic archive of projects including rock bands past and present, experimental artists, and an abundance of local rappers and hip-hop groups. Along with expert sound, anyone who has worked with Q! has probably been privy to his excellent sense of humor, engaging conversation and all-around good nature. Sadly, during the past couple months, Q! has become increasingly sick, and his studio has closed down. He is now faced with a life-threatening illness and the colossal bills that come with it.
An antagonistic interview with the Modest Mouse frontman
By Marisa Demarco
You start an interview easy, with some chill question that allows your source to go on and on about himself, to warm to you. This is, apparently, not the way to go with Isaac Brock, a man who isn't hot on the idea of explaining himself or why his band's latest album is so much better than a lot of the shlock Modest Mouse put on shelves in the last decade.
Home Again chronicles refugee’s poignant 2004 visit to Iraq
By Mel Minter
Home Again (Fast Horse Recordings), the latest solo release from Iraqi oudist/composer Rahim Alhaj, sounds unfamiliar at first. The CD’s nine compositions are played on a 12-stringed acoustic instrument little known in the West, whose recorded history dates back 5,000 years. They’re built on modes (maqamat) alien to the Western ear, and their themes are developed almost entirely melodically.
What’s this? Another bea-utiful silkscreened concert poster from Heath Dauberman and Little Kiss Print Shoppe! And it says The X-Khans (featuring Penny, formerly of the Roxie Harts), will make its garage-folk debut this Thursday, Nov. 15, at Ralli’s Fourth Street Pub and Grill, with Inner Parlors and The Devils Due. Thanks for the good news, magic flyer. (LM)
On Thursday, Nov. 15, Julia Child Cookbook of the Year winner Deborah Madison (no relation to Dolly) will be the guest of honor at this year's Elegant Autumn Evening. Madison is the author of an abundant crop of vegetarian titles such as The Greens Cookbook and Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets.
My experiences with French food and wine have been better than my experiences with the French language. In high school, my Midwestern-accented mispronunciations were second only to my grossly butchered written phrases. But my homemade coq au vin (chicken stewed with wine) was tasty enough to get me out of the class with an A.
As I listen to 13-year-old Ian Jones rattle off phrases like "dynamic attack," "releasing the tension" and a "fully formed endgame," I become less and less confident in his previous assertion that chess "isn't just for super geniuses."
Why is the mayor studying red-light cameras? Who's jumped in the Senate race (that could give said mayor a run for his money)? Why is Downtown suddenly a war zone? What new privilege have we given the city's public school police?
In July 2007, a rancher in the small Texas town of Cuero captured a strange creature that had been attacking her livestock. She claimed the blue, hairless animal had been lurking around her ranch for years, and when it was hit by a car, she suggested she had finally captured a chupacabra, the vampiric goat-sucking monster of lore. Tissue samples were sent to biologists at Texas State University for DNA analysis, and while the rancher waited for the results she sold thousands of "2007: Summer of the Chupacabra" T-shirts and caps.
Dateline: The Netherlands--Residents of chilly Terschelling island, 70 miles north of Amsterdam, are getting their recommended daily allowance of potassium thanks to the tons of unripe bananas that have washed up on a half-mile stretch of beach. The fruit fell off a Cuban cargo ship that encountered stormy weather last week. Authorities estimate that six containers were washed off the ship and at least one burst open. Local beachcombers checked out the tropical bounty but weren’t as excited as they were one year ago when tennis shoes, aluminum briefcases and toys washed ashore. Old-timers also remember a nice load of sweaters that was swept onto the beach 20 years ago.
The upcoming Santa Fe Film Festival will present a special “sneak preview” night at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque this Thursday, Nov. 15. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the NHCC (1701 Fourth Street SW) will screen the Spanish-language (with English subtitles) film August Evening. Filmmaker Chris Eska will be present and SFFF director Stephen Rubin will introduce the program. August Evening tells the story of an aging, undocumented farm worker named Jaime (Pedro Castaneda) and his young, widowed daughter-in-law, Lupe (Veronica Loren), as they struggle to survive and find love in Mexico. Tickets go on sale the day of for $10 each. For more information, visit www.santafefilmfestival.com.
With its quick, brutal flashes of violence, its off-kilter characters and its deadpan funny dialogue, No Country For Old Menis unmistakably the work of indie auteurs Joel and Ethan Coen. Except that it isn’t, exactly. The film is based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. The plot, dialogue and characters of this modern-day, neo-noir Western are lifted--frequently word-for-word--from McCarthy’s text. The result is a seamless blending of artistic worlds, a bloody, funny, beautifully shot, faultlessly acted thriller that has to rate as one this year’s best films.
Energetic documentary proves music may evolve, but it won’t roll over and die
By Devin D. O’Leary
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to encapsulate an entire life story, artistic movement or historical era in 90 minutes or so. Thankfully, Punk’s Not Dead, an energetic new music documentary by Susan Dynner, doesn’t really make the attempt. Instead of trying vainly to be the end-all, be-all of punk rock filmmaking, this short, sharp doc acts as more of an endearing tribute to the (as yet) undying spirit of punk.
OK, I admit it. I’m scared. I fully support the Writers’ Guild in its strike against the major movie and television studios. At the same time, with many shows being yanked off the air and many others preparing to go into semi-permanent reruns, I’m a little worried about my job. Three months from now, if the strike is still going on, am I going to have to be penning pithy, philosophical columns about reruns of “Deal or No Deal”? I’m gonna have to do some serious channel surfing to find fresh stuff to write about.
Unlike those highly exclusive, snotty, popular-kids-only PJ parties in middle school, everyone is invited to The Pajama Men's night of flannel-clad hilariousness. You do need to have $15 for a ticket (or $12 for students and seniors), your own ride to the Stove (114 Morningside NE) by 9 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 16, and you can't be a loser (just kidding ... but not really). Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez will be there—in full pajama regalia—to entertain you with their quick wit and schizophrenic character changes along with a special, unnamed musical friend. This is a one-night-only thing, so be there or risk being laughed at Monday morning by your possibly more popular coworkers. To make reservations, call 301-4892.
If the world were only so simple as black and white. No gray stomping grounds between the tinge of our ink-and-paper polarities—only left-wing and right-wing, good and evil, yin and yang. Colors might fill in the dimensions of our world, but it is black and white that define them.
Forget about silkscreened T-shirts, mixtapes or even the Sharper Image catalog of wonders, there’s nothing as personal as a book. For every personality, every reading level, there’s a book out there waiting to provide that lucky Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanza celebrant with a few hours—maybe a few weeks—of pleasure. To help you unlock that potential for joy, here are a few tips for the best books to buy this holiday season.