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The American Caliban

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dear lazyweb: gift advice? [Feb. 13th, 2009|03:01 pm]
The American Caliban
my very cool mother is turning 80. she is a culture vulture intellectual who loves the arts, literature, european travel, all that stuff. i want to get something memorable and appropriate. suggestions?

in lieu of suggestions you can leave "your mom" jokes if you want.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jpallan
2009-02-13 11:06 pm (UTC)
Well, if she's that cool, perhaps a subscription to McSweeney's, although that seems rather mild for an eightieth birthday.

Failing that, I would consider (depending on your budget), a work of art. At the baseline, at least get her a book of Georgia O'Keeffe prints. :)
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[User Picture]From: baconmeteor
2009-02-13 11:06 pm (UTC)
Get her Luxembourg!
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[User Picture]From: kafkateer
2009-02-13 11:31 pm (UTC)

does she want stuff or an experience

this is critical--i know my grandmother (81) doesn't like getting *things* anymore, other than beautiful useful things (cashmere wraps, a silk scarf). she prefers experiences, like tickets to things she enjoys (any show in las vegas, as she is no cultural maven, lol)

michelle
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[User Picture]From: sooz
2009-02-13 11:39 pm (UTC)

Re: does she want stuff or an experience

totally agree with this.

take her to the theater or something
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[User Picture]From: daisyhunter
2009-02-14 01:35 am (UTC)

Re: does she want stuff or an experience

Thirded
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[User Picture]From: tuliphead
2009-02-14 05:53 am (UTC)

Re: does she want stuff or an experience

Fourth'd - my older family members for the most part doesn't want "stuff" anymore, they want experiences and memories.
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[User Picture]From: jonpants
2009-02-13 11:51 pm (UTC)
Take her to Vegas.
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[User Picture]From: jactitation
2009-02-14 12:35 am (UTC)
Or, if not Switzerland, how about a weekend trip with you to a city with real art: a hotel overnight, a play or dance performance, a couple of museums, a nice meal?

Also, since becoming a nominal mom (although I prefer "parent"), my brain has erased all "Your mama so..." jokes. Interesting!
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[User Picture]From: substitute
2009-02-15 07:44 am (UTC)
Yo momma so nominal, she prefer "parent"!
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[User Picture]From: halfjack
2009-02-14 01:29 am (UTC)
Lunch in Cairo. Get yourself a fez.
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[User Picture]From: pilarcruz
2009-02-14 01:51 am (UTC)
Your mom wants some wine.
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[User Picture]From: mrhinelander
2009-02-14 02:58 am (UTC)

Opera

Wagner's _The Ring_ I is coming to L.A., might be here now. Dorothy Chandler, I think.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-02-14 03:24 am (UTC)

Re: Opera

What's your price range?
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[User Picture]From: __procession
2009-02-14 05:59 am (UTC)
my grandmother is a lot like your mother (culture junkie, artistically inclined, nearly blacklisted during the 50s), and aside from items i'd handknit for her, my grandmother loved to receive (a) cashmere items (cashmere socks are great; a cashmere robe is a complete luxury!), (b) high quality alcohol, (c) classical/jazz mixtapes (awesome), and (d) meals at nice restaurants.

my grandmother didn't have much of a sweet tooth, but if your mother does, i'm sure that some high quality, sought-after sweets would be a hit.

so, i say you take her out to dinner, suck up the corkage fee and bring a nice bottle of hooch, and then present her with some cashmere item while simultaneously trying to shoot truffles into her mouth while blasting dizzy in the background. WHOOOO BIRTHDAY!
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[User Picture]From: handstil
2009-02-14 02:41 pm (UTC)
hmmmmmmmmmm.
Rosetta Stone in a language she'd be interested in learning?
Terry Belanger had a bunch of artists do character sketches of him for his xmas cards last year and it was awesome.
Gather your favorite family photos and scan them and make them into a nice hardbound book. Write some of your favorite memories to include.
Personalized letterpress stationary.
Let us know what you choose!
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[User Picture]From: defenestr8r
2009-02-14 05:02 pm (UTC)
there are cheap tickets to london (and lots of other places right now) and the pound is in the crapper, so maybe a trip?
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From: the_angelmoroni
2009-02-16 10:30 pm (UTC)

uh

your momma's so dumb she used newtons second law to solve a coupled oscillator problem instead of the Lagrangian.
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[User Picture]From: steph99
2009-02-17 04:06 am (UTC)
Tickets to the John Zorn show you want to see!!
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[User Picture]From: torgo_x
2009-02-18 04:26 pm (UTC)

Gift advice

With no consideration to scale or cost:

* Codex Seraphinianus. Maybe a not huge-and-heavy edition. The edition I have is actually kinda large and actually kinda heavy.

* a metal thing from http://bathsheba.com/, one of the mini-metal, non-sharp-edges ones-- bam, bam!... you have to feel it to believe it. You don't want to put it down. You don't want to stop staring at it. Speaking of which:

* a copy of the "FINALLY they put it all in one book" Borges Collected [and complete] Fictions.

* a kalimba: http://kalimbamagic.com has them, tuned properly, for and by actual musicians, as opposed to tourist kalimbas that just go plink plink. I think they're pentatonic, not sure.

* a tangram set: this thing is a book plus a plain-jane wood tangram set. Tangrams are good fun for trying to work against a pattern, or just idly making shapes on your own. Spatial perception brain-exercising stuff. And later, you can get her a nicer tangram set anywhere in the $50 - $50,000 range.

* a piece of Southwest jewelry. The Zunis are the best jewelers on the planet, and they sometimes make stuff that doesn't scream "I'M FROM SANTA FE!" but instead whispers "this is from hyperspace". A particular Zuni bracelet, a crazy one-off, is on my short mental list of "one that got away". I think the Zuni jeweler store (run by the Pueblo) might have a shop in Beverly Hills or Venice Beach or something– at least as of a decade ago when I saw that as one of the place-names on the side of one of their fancy fancy bags.

* As to Southwest pottery: my aesthetic leans toward occasionally Navajo, but then really jumps right at Acoma Pueblo and Jemez Pueblo stuff. You'll know the good stuff when you see it. That's just my recommendation. Also: size, quality, price (and price-where) are often independent variables. My favorite piece in my house is a sort of discus-shaped thing, a "seed pot", maybe four inches across and one inch high, with just two lizards immaculately painted on it, no design. But I've also gone nuts and bought big complicated-patterned pots, before and since.

* Hopi black-on-black pottery– if they still make that stuff. Maybe it's all a jillion-dollar museum pieces.

* Pottery from Mata Ortiz, which is like Acoma/Jemez, but on peyote. Not just the potter being on mescaline, you being on mescaline. But sometimes too much mescaline. A lot too much.

* I would say to get a good sandpainting, but I once scoured all of Albuquerque's shops and, at that moment, found two that were at all worth even considering– buried in mountains of crap. I have a beautiful sandpainting, but I Knew A Guy.  But maybe now all the good stuff is out and about and online.

Getting more minimal:

* a Tibetan "singing bowl". Fun fact: you don't have to WHAM on those to get a forever-resonating effect. You can make a little tap and enjoy just the quiet forever resonances.

* a single, aesthetically immaculate, Depression glass teacup & saucer, or mug, which can be her "Well, I don't know why I use it every morning, I just do" cup. I would be partial to cobalt blue, as having a stronger presence than the other stuff, but it's an open issue.
(Why a single one? a set is vulgar and showy. A single is Just For You, and is quantitative minimalism.)

Super-bonus if it's clear uranium glass, the fancy kind that actually glows– not by radioactivity, but by absorbing ambient UV and dropping its energy into the visible spectrum, right around the color green. (The actual radioactivity you get in holding and drinking from such a thing is lab-gear measurable, but is– supposedly– orders of magnitude less than normal background radiation– at any given moment, not just "well, over the course of a day...". But, ya know, fact check that.)

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