Why you should care
Because thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, but coveting this stuff? Cool.
Part of OZY’s 2016 holiday gift guide, in which our staffers and contributors clue you in on what they want to give and what they want to get.
Fiona Zublin is an American reporter living in Paris. She writes about Europe and is in the middle of an extensive blue lipstick experiment. She has no time for people who are so over the Eiffel Tower.
Give: Whale Mugs
There’s something comforting about whales. I mean, probably not if one’s bearing down on you, but the shape, the (fictionally) friendly vibe, the bouncy optimism of blowing water out of a hole in the top of your head. These whale mugs (from $30), created by Barcelona artist Annick Galimont, are aesthetically pleasing and can convey coffee to your mouth, which is the most important combination of attributes for any object.
Give: Fancy Editions of Socially Aware Sci-Fi
You’ve read Terry Pratchett’s sci-fi/fantasy/humor/social commentary Discworld series by now, and if you haven’t, close this window, close your laptop, go to the bookstore and buy every single book in the series, and come back in two weeks after you’ve read them all. My God, what have you been doing with your life? Now you’re ready for the grown-up version — embossed hardcover editions ($21 each) — just in time to help you make sense of the year that was.
Give: The Best Way to Hear Hamilton (Almost)
Vinyl sounds better. Or rather, vinyl feels more like living in the real world — no headphones, no Spotify — just a package you can hand to your friend and say, “I couldn’t afford tickets to Hamilton, but this I can do.” Four vinyl albums, the whole Hamilton cast recording ($100), just waiting for you to barge into your friend’s apartment and say, “Hey, can we listen to that album I bought you? Like, 50 or 60 times?”
Get: Cutting-Edge Obsolescence
Let’s hear it for ungodly hybrids. Just as a hippogriff is better than a horse, a lion or an eagle, the USB Typewriter is better than either a typewriter (slow, loud, requires paper) or an iPad (sad adolescent phase in evolution of phone to laptop). But put them together for the USB typewriter, which fulfills all your hipster nightmare fantasies while actually being useful (from $99). Inventor Jack Zylkin created the first one from an abandoned typewriter — “I had it around,” he says. “I thought it was a shame it was going to be just another thing on the junk pile” — and he says that typing on it, the ding of the carriage return and the clack of the keys, gives him more focus. Zylkin makes the machines himself, using four or five typewriter brands, but he also sells a kit that will allow you to turn your own abandoned Underwood into a beautiful hybrid monster.
Get: A Train Trip Fit for a Movie Star
The hellish clatter of the Acela aside, trains are the best form of travel: the rocking, the nostalgia, the buffet car, the murder mysteries. Did I say murder mysteries? Probably not murder mysteries. But the Orient Express, which first became the name of the luxury train game in the 1880s and which closed in 2009, has been resurrected by a private company. You can still take the six-day journey from Paris to Istanbul, stopping in Budapest and Bucharest on the way — but it leaves only once a year, so you’ll have to delay the Christmas surprise until August. Tickets are already sold out, but spots on a similar September journey, running from Istanbul to Venice, start at $8,442 per adult.
Get: Bling Meets Books
I do not recommend buying jewelry for other people, unless you know they like anything shaped like a dinosaur, or something similar. Jewelry is too personal, so you’ll have to buy it for yourself. I’ve coveted this James Joyce–quoting pendant for years ($1,450). A friend of designer Yael Kanarek recommended over lunch that she try turning Yes I said yes I will Yes into jewelry. “I’d never heard [the line] before and was so moved by it,” Kanarek says, noting that she has created several other literary-inspired pieces and is hoping to work with larger blocks of text despite the engineering challenge.