UNWRAPPED

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Posted December 13, 2007 in Feature Story

Analogue Haven


So, you sold your vintage-fresh Commodore 64 with all the peripherals the day you found out that The Rentals reunited, just to cough up enough coin for the best tickets. And you were first in line at the venue, eight hours early, gawking at all the gnarly synth gear the roadies loaded into the venue. And the week before, you scored your third Moogerfooger pedal on Craigslist and even tattooed Bob Moog’s signature on your inner arm (plus, you know better than to rhyme his name with a cow’s moan). Well, if this isn’t you, then you may not be an analog synth aficionado. But if you happen to know someone in your life who drools over keys, modulators, integrators and delays, chances are that a place like Analogue Haven is flippin’ heaven. With more knobs, buttons and switches to click and flip than Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, this Pomona Arts Colony store is stocked with all sorts of electronic musical greatness. Granted, the average person walking in the shop may not know what 99.5 percent of the gear in the place actually does, but the friendly and knowledgeable staff is always able to help sort out such confusion. And with new and used items for sale, the selection’s hard to beat (you can even purchase stuff from the store’s website). So, for the person in your life that’s been scoping that Metasonix TM-1 vacuum-tube waveshaper and ring modulator, Analogue Haven’s all you really gotta know. (Waleed Rashidi)

Analogue Haven, 252A S. Main St., Pomona, (909 622-4556; http://analoguehaven.com

 

Art Rave

Ashley Ashley arrived in Pomona last February and started throwing his monthly Art Raves to coincide with downtown Pomona’s monthly Art Walk. Keeping true to the concept of the rave, Ashley moves to a new downtown location each month, thus circumventing the need to rent the gallery for an entire month. Ashley’s exhibits are a dissertation in frugality and he passes the savings on. His exhibits aim to bring accessible, clever, affordable art—some of the pieces he exhibits would go for a small mint at other galleries—to the broke, art-loving masses. Not to come off like a freaking ad, but check out his site for the gift of art at affordable prices.  (Phil Fuller)

www.metropomona.com

 

Barbara Cheatley’s

Whoever said that fine gift shops are only for chicks deserves to get smacked upside the head with a unique Christmas wreath that features beautiful bulbs of billowing cotton, meshed within an intricate lattice of brown stem work. That’s because Barbara Cheatley’s has such novel items for the holiday occasion—and just about every other conceivable occasion—that’s totally of interest to both sexes. This is an impressive Village mainstay that’s been open for 32 years and it’s stuffed to the gills with all sorts of knick-knacks, books, decorations and housewares. Though as time’s gone on Cheatley’s isn’t really looked at as an antique store, the family-run business has become a wonderful one-stop of primarily new (and some old) items, from holiday decorations made expressly for this year’s season, to porcelain and boxes dating back to the 1860s. Inventory is constantly overhauled, giving each item in the shop a “get it now because chances are you’ll never see it again” deadline (Cheatley even says that the store will close for two weeks after Christmas to prepare for Valentine’s Day). As for shelling out the dough, Cheatley’s features gifts ranging from $1 Christmas ornaments to a $600 Chinese locker chest. And one of the coolest things about this shop: Whatever you buy there will be gift wrapped for free. That should be reason enough to convince any guy to walk through those doors! (Waleed Rashidi)

Barbara Cheatley’s, 215 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 621-4161

 

Boon Companion

Flying monkeys, popper balls, hunting Mr. X and causing a “Ruckus” are all pre-approved items for your Christmas day pleasure by the crack marketing staff at Boon Companion Toys. Now in its 25th year in the Claremont Village, the Johnson family—Reed and Nancy—along with their children and grandchildren, take great pride in assuring customers of the quality of their wares. Whether it’s Calico Critters, Bridgeport Girder and Panel sets, Pixelblocks or a self-counting money jar, Boon Companion has mastered it—and a recommendation from them is worth its weight in holiday fruitcake. This year, the Johnson’s are high on the award-winning board and card games Scotland Yard and Ruckus, and Papo fantasy figurines. But habitués come from near and far for Boon’s vast array of wind-ups toys and old-fashioned dolls (“They don’t do anything,” says Nancy. “They’re just dolls!”) This type of personalized service, plus free gift-wrap, has kept the big-box wolves at bay. Plus, the Johnson’s unparalleled knowledge and enthusiasm will guide you to the special gift or stocking stuffer the kids (big or small) will cherish. (Kevin Ausmus)

Boon Companion Toys, 145 Harvard Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-1993; www.booncompaniontoys.com

 

Callaway Winery

For the aspiring sommelier or vintager, Temecula’s wine country can’t help but seem like an oasis of salvation in the desert. Callaway Winery’s claim of being a place where the “sun shines through the mist” is dead on accurate—it’s a vineyard overlooking a picturesque landscape that features an elegant tasting room in which to sample the most recent vintage wines. But this is only part of it. Those in the know will head straight to the winery’s shop where they can purchase gifts for any occasion without breaking the bank. For instance, the limited holiday release 2007 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Nouveau comes in at under $20, or $13.50 for Wine Club members. In addition to picking up fine wines such as the Cabernet Franc ($38), logo merchandise is also available such as apparel (for $25) and wine glasses ($5 apiece), as well as accessories for the true wine aficionado—$10.25 for a foil cutter or boomerang corkscrew. With so many selections, Callaway gifts are sure to be a classy way to appropriately toast the holidays. (Shaun Rosenstein)

Callaway Winery, 32720 Rancho California Road, Temecula, (951) 676-4001; www.callawaywinery.com

 

Chick Publications

This is simply a concept gift idea to think about. I mean, the scariest thing about Halloween was always receiving a Jack Chick tract instead of the usual roll of Smarties or a mini-Snickers bar. The scribblings of the batshit-crazy fundamentalists have graced the pages of his propaganda-comics since 1970 and warn against all kinds of things you didn’t know you needed to worry about, like Mormons, Freemasonry, drugs, Harry Potter, rock music, Mardi Gras, homosexuality, witchcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, Islam and, under any circumstance, the pope. Most include graphic illustrations of the horrors that await the unrepentant sinner who dabbles in these things. But having somebody slip these tracts into your potato sack always felt like a complete gyp—partly because the tracts were so righteous as to become thoughtless and partly because they weren’t anywhere near as edible as candy. Wouldn’t you love to give that same feeling to someone for Christmas? (Phil Fuller)

Chick Publications, 8780 Archibald Ave., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 987-0771; www.chick.com

 

Claremont Folk Center

Want to give somebody the gift of ukulele? Nothing gets us pining for an afternoon on a warm, sun-drenched beach someplace near the Equator—Mai Thai in hand, of course—quite like the uber-chilly IE winter. Unfortunately, tropical getaways and exotic destinations usually run a price tag that you’d have to sell a kidney to cover. Claremont’s Folk Music Center, however, offers all the sweetly strange instruments to compose an island soundtrack as well as classes so you can enroll that special friend whose genius for ukulele has henceforth been stunted by missed opportunity. After he’s got those tropical ditties down, all that’ll be left to do for that far-away-on-a-beach feeling is mix up that Mai Thai. And turn the thermostat up to 95. (Phil Fuller)

Claremont Folk Music Center, 220 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 624-2928; www.folkmusiccenter.com

 

Dragon Marsh

So your best friend the Wiccan is hard to buy for because she/he’s not exactly into the whole Jesus and Mary thing—no problem. Dragon Marsh in Downtown Riverside is a veritable haven for practitioners of ritual magicks and herbal healing, and virtually anybody who aspires to reach the upper limits to World of Warcraft sword and sorcery. Even science fiction and fantasy-worshipping geeks will love anything you come up with at Dragon Marsh—costumes, demons, dragons gilded sword and pewter goblets, ankhs—or items outside the normal sensual pleasures that heathens require, such as sparkling crystals, essential oils and bases for divination. In need of Cupid’s arrow or a mood altering spell? Ask any one of the knowledgeable clerks and they’ll gladly point you in the proper direction, both literally and metaphysically. Dragon Marsh is by no means a scary place—it’s just an interesting shoppe of old traditions that might have exactly what your friend—with all his/her pentagrams and chalices—is looking for. (Nancy Powell)

Dragon Marsh, 3643 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 276-1116; www.dragonmarsh.com

 

Division 9 Gallery

While there are a thousand places in Southern California to shop for gifts, there’s always that loved one with a list that might as well say “parking during the holidays.” The Pasadena Flea Market has already passed, all the vintage stores have been ransacked, and you’re starting to hate your loved one. Rather than opting for lotions and shower gel or gift cards, forget the thousand places and search the thousand works of art available for sale in Downtown Riverside. Division 9 Gallery is hosting an exhibit of twenty artists; 50 pieces of work each, totaling 1,000 gift choices. The gallery is open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturdays by appointment. All the works are available for sale for less than, or equal to, $150 each. The best part is that you can take your purchases home with you that night . . . now if only finding parking was that easy. (Lynn Lieu)     

Division 9 Gallery, 3850 Lemon St., Riverside, (951) 682-5990; www.division9gallery.com

 

The Electric Chair

The Electric Chair in Riverside sits next to where the Mad Platter used to sit, in an area that’s become a bit of a Mecca for the alternative, bored, or fashionable youth since the late ’70s. Little has changed since then, as it’s still a cool place for picking up items that are semi-out-of-the-norm, especially around the holidays. If you’re looking for belts, buckles, bandanas, retro shirts, requisite Doc Martins, or something else for that special someone, it’s definitely worth a stop. There are posters and postcards featuring such disparate celebrities as Betty Page, Woody Allen, Joe Strummer, or that familiar old Scarface poster of Al Pacino (reminding you, once again, that the movie was a comedy disguised as a drama). That is if you can find your way through the endless number of items stamped with the Misfits’ Crimson Ghost logo, punk baby clothes and ironic bowling shirts. There’s even a piercing parlor at the Electric Chair, if you want to give the gift of puncture. (Bill Gerdes)

The Electric Chair, 10121 Hole Avenue Riverside, CA 92503, (951) 359-8003, www.electricchair.com

 

Emviem Boutique

Hidden in historic downtown Upland is a quaint shop known as Emviem Boutique that sells clothing and accessories. A former bank, this location is a unique shopping experience—the dressing room is in the vault, for God’s sake. Emviem specializes in the boutique fashion—which is, for those of you wondering, vintage, but not old; sexy, but not slutty; intelligent, but not snobby; conservative, but not prudish . . . you get the idea. The store’s owner, Melissa, claims that many people are discouraged by the look of the store, presuming the price of clothing will be too high. Well, don’t judge a book by its cover—there are entire racks of clothing ranging up to 50% off. Pursues vary from $30 to $50 dollars apiece but, as customers claim, “they don’t look it.” And well, that may be the most important thing. Name brand clothing includes Miss Me, LTB jeans, Michaels Stars T-shirts, Jessica Simpson shoes, and Havianas flip-flops. Accessories range from an ever-changing selection of bracelets, necklaces, ID cases, rings, and hats. (Nicholas Giunta)

Emviem Boutique, 237 N. 2nd Ave, Upland (under the red awning), (909) 946-9002

 

Espiritu

It’s a problem every holiday season—you want to give the gift of mermaids but you just don’t know where to go. Take heart siren lovers, Espiritu in the Claremont Village has it all for you— Puffy Peruvian mermaids, Finger Puppet mermaids, Papier-Mâché mermaids, Cast Iron mermaids, Hanging Wall mermaids. Ahoy, lovers of mythological seacreatures, take your choice! And that’s not the half of it. Espiritu has tons of unique gift items, mostly celebrating Latino culture. No need to make a trek out to Olvera Street for a Day of the Dead Christmas ornament, Sugar Skull mold, Frida Kahlo magnet or Virgin of the Guadalupe temporary tattoo, just get to Claremont. If you’re after hand-carved Peruvian nativities or Zuni style animal fetishes, right here; Tortilla Lover Cookbooks or Jalapeño jelly (excellent with cream cheese and crackers), checkmate; a metal Mexican frog or rooster, who’s your daddy! Looking for your girlfriend a little something? There’s a full line of women’s clothing and locally made t-shirts. (Kevin Ausmus)

Espiritu, 284 W Second St.,Claremont, (909) 447-4726

 

 

Folk Music Center & Museum

Need to get strings for that Appalachian mountain dulcimer? What about that person in your life that’s been nagging you about getting a new dayan to complement their bayan? Chances are you won’t find answers to these questions at your local music store as they’re usually wrapped up slinging Stratocasters, Ludwigs and Marshalls during the holidays anyways. But at the Folk Music Center and Museum in downtown Claremont the odds will shift greatly in your favor of getting someone who’ll speak the exotic instrument language. In fact, just about any instrument under the sun that isn’t used by your typical rock band can be found here. Now owned by Ben Harper (purchased from his grandparents), the store features a mind-blowing variety of international tune makers, from music boxes and metal resonator guitars to kalimbas and ukuleles. And they even have a repair shop to ensure that your new twanger or banger keeps chugging along to the next gig. So, if you know of someone who plays a mean keyboard and has plenty of hot air to boot, the Hohner Melodica is the perfect instrument (and probably right here on display). (Waleed Rashidi)

Folk Music Center & Museum, 220 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 624-2928; www.folkmusiccenter.com

 

Generations Antiques & Art

Holiday shoppers attracted to personalized gifts often flock to La Verne-based Generations Antiques & Art, where owners Betty Kalousek and (daughter) Carrie Leeper have operated since 1995. There’s colored glassware, salt and pepper shakers, assorted tea cups with matching saucers or preserved purses, doilies, knick-knacks, and pressed tablecloths arranged in baskets, snowglobes, rows of curio cabinets and jewelry stands, and all sold at darn-near the same price Kalousek originally paid for it. Boxes of postcards, photographs and mini museum prints have proved collector-worthy, but most customers spend time browsing the large jewelry box drawers, labeled according to inside finds—one may find pins, buttons, belt buckles, clip-on and pierced earrings, chains, bracelets and necklaces, not to mention rings and beaded jewelry, all priced at 20 percent to 50 percent off. Gold, silver, sterling, turquoise and pearl pieces, along with large square and triangle plastic cuts reminiscent of the ’80s sell for under $25, though more expensive jewelry is also sold. But the piece d’resistance for many is that anything pulled from one of these drawers, a curio or shelf, is a guaranteed original and doubles as a premium—yet inexpensive—gift. (Kady Bell)

Generations Antiques & Art, 2343 D Street, La Verne, (909) 593-4936

 

Imagine That

For those of us with rugrats, there may be no better bookstore in the area for children than Imagine That in the Canyon Crest shopping center in Riverside. A fixture in the area for almost 30 years, Imagine That carries the usual fare the giant retailers carry but also rare, diverse, and stunningly beautifully illustrated books that your neighborhood Barnes & Noble won’t. Owner Judy Christensen and extremely large but very friendly dog Zozi oversee floor puzzles, play sets, model insects and birds, bead sets, scrunchy toys, squishy toys, hardbacks, soft backs, dictionaries, and a wide assortment of Christmas books, as well as Hanukkah and other religious-themed works. In fact, one of the coolest aspects of the store is the wide and varied set of cultures that can be found in many of the books Imagine That carries. So, instead of grabbing a last minute gift at some giant chain that doesn’t give back the karma, take a quick peek inside Imagine That instead. (Bill Gerdes)

Imagine That, 5225 Canyon Crest Dr., Suite 13, Riverside, (951) 784-0132; www.imaginethatbookstore.com

 

La Bomba Vintage

Shopping at La Bomba in the Pomona Arts Colony this merry season is the equivalent of sharing the style heydays of yesteryear without one of those nifty time-freeze machines the Violent Femmes sing of. A fad-preservation hall of sorts, La Bomba specializes in items for the “clothes-minded,” making it an ideal holiday stop for the music freak on Santa’s naughty/nice list. After all, there’s nothing more fashionably rock & roll than retro garb and frills, and this boutique seemingly sums up both music and fashion in its name (whether it’s an ode to the ’90s slang word for “cool” or an explosive device). You’ll find rarities aplenty at value prices, ranging from band t-shirts, oversized sunglasses, record-shaped earrings, leather boots made for walkin’ and racks of dresses originally dawned in the ’40s-’80s (divided by decade). La Bomba also features custom-designed suits by Valentino Avalos, which, if ordered two-to-three weeks ahead of time, could put the “Yule” in some fortunate gift recipients’ “tide.” (Jessica Bell)

La Bomba Vintage, 195 W. Second Street, Pomona, (909) 629-4247; www.labombavintage.com

 

Mad Platter

For that Juxtapoz reading, customized-kicks wearing, pop-surrealist art obsessed cool kid in your life, a trip to LA’s Melrose strip in search of Munky King or Kid Robot was necessary to find that perfect blind box gift for the holiday season. But thanks to Mad Platter in Riverside, the trip out west is a thing of the past. For the price of a Baker’s Drive-Thru combo meal, Frank Kozik’s Smorkin’ Labbit can grace the desktop next to your cousin’s MacBook all year long. This 1.5” tall toy is a stubble-ridden bunny with exaggerated ears and protruding cigarette, and it provides an appropriate alternative to the Tickle Me Elmo’s that will be flying off the shelves for the less-than-hip uncles and aunts to dole out. Other deviant alternatives include the Mongers and Mongers Menthols, everyday objects (such as watermelons, donuts, bananas or ice cream cones) with Kozik’s signature cigarettes protruding from their mouths sporting an “X” or three across the forehead. If the urban vinyl fails to provide the perfect fit, just browse through the Office Space bobble-heads or enchanted unicorn bandages until you find that gift which will make even the most emo of teenagers let slip a “cool, thanks!” in appreciation for your alternative gift-giving prowess. No? There’s always the rack-n-racks of music. (Shaun Rosenstein)

Mad Platter, 1223 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 328-1600, www.madplatter.cc

 

M&I Surplus

If you have a friend who’s worried that the inevitable collapse of civilization might cramp their style, Pomona’s M&I Surplus could be the place to find them a holiday gift. M&I houses the standard arsenal of military surplus goods—fatigues, flight jackets, pins and buttons, POW MIA hats and the like—but they also offer some serious equipment for that survivalist who’s so hard to buy for. The place is a warehouse of tents, portable stoves, survival knives, bows and arrows and various other things that might prove useful for enduring prolonged periods of time away from civilization in comfort. They cater to fashionista Rambos, too, with a huge selection of bags, backpacks and jackets that also turn up in “edgy” mall stores for a considerable markup. When the whole shizhouse goes up in flames, make sure your friend is ready. (Phil Fuller)

M&I Surplus, 2090 N. Gary Ave., Pomona, (909) 596-1924

 

Mrs. Tiggy Winkles Gift Shoppe

Every bit as whimsical and adorable as its Beatrix Potter namesake, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s is one of those feel good places chicks wouldn’t mind dropping a bundle for during the holidays. A mainstay in the Mission Inn Pedestrian Mall for the last 32 years, CeeAnn Thiel’s cheery wonderland carries contemporary and vintage bric-a-brac for all ages, ranging from youthful innocents to the more seasoned collectors. Cute and cuddly necessities and toys for wee tots, fancy toiletries, candles, greeting cards and unusual wrapping papers, and music CDs pepper the spaces between the Mary Englebreit and Pooh stands, while Danskso Clogs and Hobo handbags manage to occupy a unique spot within its Victorian-themed walls. As the holidays roll around, Thiel’s dazzling array of Christmas ornaments and infectious holiday spirit create a magic all of its own. (Nancy Powell)

Mrs. Tiggy Winkles Gift Shoppe, 3675 Main St., Riverside, (951) 683-0221

 

Needles & Pins Records

You know Dr. Strange in Alta Loma and Rhino Records in Claremont, but don’t skip over—in fact, make a beeline to—Needles & Pins, a cubbyhole joint in the Pomona Arts Colony. Sonny, the owner (with no help from his feisty wildcat, Carolina), handpicks the finest in vintage and new vinyl from swapmeets, Amoeba and anywhere else he can dig them up, offering the IE undergrounders such treasures as blue vinyl from the Damned, 1981 Black Flag, New York Dolls double LPs, a 4-LP Guns N Roses live album from ’87-’93, original Sonic Youth pressings and a 1970’s Velvet Underground Live from Max’s in Kansas City LP. He’s also got the Muffs, Stitches, Detroit Cobras, Libertines, Bauhaus, White Stripes, 7 Year Bitch, Jets to Brazil, need we go on? The little depot has some mighty fine vintage posters tacked up, as well—but you can’t have those, oh lover of all things yesteryear, you just have to stare at them longingly and grunt.  (Stacy Davies) 

Needles & Pins Records, 226 S. Main St., Pomona; (909) 469-4779


Renaissance Bookshop

The Renaissance Bookshop in Riverside is the anti-Borders, missing overly cheerful staff, bright lighting, freshly scrubbed tomes, all the latest magazines, and an overpriced coffeeshop that serves up raspberry scones. No, the Renaissance is simply a fabulous independent bookstore, full of amazing books, music, and videos. Owner Gene Berkman infuses the place with his Libertarian philosophy, so expect tons of titles aimed at less government, not more. There’s also a large collection of science fiction, which Gene explained has an almost symbiotic relationship with Libertarianism. The Renaissance boasts a decent collection of Jazz, classical, and world music CDs, in addition to a nice library of foreign language books and materials. It’s the kind of place where you see a title like Conan of Cimmeria sitting next to an obscure collection of vintage art, next to an anthology of radical essays in something entitled Everything You Know is Wrong. Sitting at the same location at Magnolia Avenue since 1992, The Renaissance Bookstore is precisely the type of small business giant chains have been shutting down over the last 30 years, so this is a good opportunity to holiday shop at an original. (Bill Gerdes)

The Renaissance Bookshop, 6639 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, (951) 369-8843; www.renbook.com

 

Rhino Records

Admit it. You’re broke. And you have a list, checked twice, and too many of your friends were nice, rather than naught. You could give them that Frosty the Snowman necktie you got last year, or you could pop into Rhino Records with a box full of your used CDs—CDs that you’ve burned into your iPod anyhow—and with store credit go on a hipster-friendly shopping spree! Rhino Records, an independently-owned record store in Claremont (the retail portion broke off from the reigning champs of repackaging and reissuing the greats in 1981), sells nearly any recording your heart desires, new or used. When it comes to rare reissues or imports Rhino has a buttload, along with all the music and pop culture-related books, vinyl (yes, vinyl!), cool collector’s toys, stickers, and tchotchke crap that make for perfect stocking stuffers. Need a circa-1971 McDonaldland Grimace doll? They just might have you covered. A very rare Gwen Stefani Harajuku second wave doll? Just hollaback, girl. (Arrissia Owen Turner)

Rhino Records, 235 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 626-7774; www.rhinorecords.cc


The Gift of Wine By Bill Gerdes

 

Want to send that wine connoisseur a on a wine tasting expedition for the holidays? Here’s a look at some of Temecula’s best.

 

Churon Winery

The Churon Winery is a French-style chateau nestled within a wave of green hillocks. They offer an extensive selection of wines and a deli featuring a host of gourmet sandwiches, cheeses, and meats. It’s also an intimate bed & breakfast, if you’re looking to give somebody a romantic weekend getaway. 

Churon Winery, 33233 Rancho California Rd., Temecula, (951) 694-9070; open 10am-5pm; www.innatchuronwinery.com

 

Miramonte Winery

The Miramonte Winery produces myriad sparkling wines, whites and reds, with a special focus on Rhone grape varieties. With beautiful grounds and Flamenco Fridays and Blues Saturdays, Miramonte is a fantastic place to while away a few hours tasting some quality wines, and the recipient will never forget why it’s known as “a place for wine lovers.” 

Miramonte Winery, 33410 Rancho California Rd., Temecula, (951) 506-5500; open Daily 10am-5pm; www.miramontewinery.com

 

South Coast Winery & Resort

The South Coast Winery Resort & Spa has all of the bells and whistles when it comes to wine tasting in the valley. In addition to some tempting vintages, the South Coast rests on some spectacularly scenic grounds with an unforgettable view of Mount Palomar. The South Coast sells gift cards for any amount, and with a tricked-out spa on site these cards make for class gifts. Elegant, relaxing and beautiful.

South Coast Winery & Resort, 34843 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, (951) 587-9463; open Daily 10am-6pm; www.wineresort.com


Season Tickets, Getaways and Fun Packages for the Hard-to-Please Jetsetters

 

You don’t need to travel far to find that one perfect gift for a hard-to-please family member or friend. If the mall doesn’t carry it, and you still can’t find it online, wow them with a getaway package or season tickets. The Inland Empire offers almost anything imaginable. Listed below are a few to keep in mind this holiday season.

Speed demons and testosterone-driven roadsters are revving up their engines and eagerly anticipating the thrills of the upcoming NASCAR season. Consider the 2 Night Travel Package, just in time for the West Coast premiere of the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the California Speedway. The package includes two nights’ accommodations at the Hampton Inn in Arcadia, round trip transportation, welcome gifts and a reserved upper level ticket to the race on Sunday, February 24. Packages start at $665 per person ($495 for double and $445 for triple occupancy), while a three-night package runs close to $1000 (with the additional perks of pre-race pit access and a reserved upper level ticket for Saturday’s race). If this isn’t enough to quench one’s thirst, there’s always the option of season tickets to all events at the track.

Want to spoil that golfer in the family? The desert area, home to more golfing courses than one could count hands on a Geigeresque alien, offers a variety of golfing packages for those truly inspired sportsmen aching to test the links that might otherwise be untouchable. The Ultimate Golfer’s Getaway Package starts at $459 and includes three days and two nights at the Villa Royale Inn in Palm Springs, two rounds of golf at the Cimarron Golf Resort, dinner for two at Europa restaurant, and a cooked-to-order poolside breakfast. How else can one receive pampering in classy comfort while basking under the glow of the wintry sun?

For those interested in learning the art of wine and wine drinking, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association kicks off the harvest season with its annual Winter Barrel Tasting on January 26 and 27.  Hop aboard for an educational ride through the SoCal wine region, where grape growing and wine production will be the talk of the town. Twenty wineries offer at least one barrel tasting and samplings of new, previous and favorite vintages, paired with a variety of sumptuous foods. Tickets start at $85 per person ($65 for the person acting as the designated driver of the group). 

Of course, not everybody loves tromping in California’s poshest and conservationally-challenged year-round vacation escapes. A yearlong subscription to public radio’s KUOR should hit the spot for the socially conscious stalwart. Starting at $89 per year, stay up-to-date with 24/7 coverage of current affairs, news and awesome music without the O’Reilly bull and pro-Bush rhetoric of the Fox News Network. A yearlong subscription also entitles the lucky recipient to the way-cool KPCC Friends Card (parent of KUOR), which offers discounts to restaurants, arts and culture venues and a variety of fun, educationally satisfying activities. It’s also a gift that keeps on giving—each subscription is tax-deductible and one of the blessings in green living for the upcoming tax season.

Finally, if LA seems a far cry to drive for cultural enlightenment, why not support local talent and the arts scene by purchasing season tickets to the LifeHouse Theater in Redlands? A mere $135 ($72 per child) gains access to nine quality shows. This season’s productions kick off with It’s A Wonderful Life in December, followed by Snow White, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Rise of King David, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, and C.S. Lewis’ Pilgrim’s Progress. This is a wonderful way to replenish the spirit while still satisfying cultural yearnings. (Nancy Powell)

 

 

The California Speedway

9300 Cherry Ave., Fontana

(800) 944-7223

www.californiaspeedway.com

 

The Villa Royale Inn

1620 S. Indian Trail, Palm Springs

(800) 245-2314

www.villaroyale.com

 

Temecula Winter Barrel Wine Tasting, January 26th and 27th, 2008

(800) 801-9463 (Tickets)

www.temeculawines.org

 

The LifeHouse Theater 

1135 N. Church St., Redlands

(909) 335-3037

www.lifehousetheater.com

 

KUOR

University of Redlands

(909) 792-0721


The Gift of Digital Versatile Discs

(Or DVDs to the laity) By Amy Nicholson

 

The right DVD is a forever gift, the disc your special someone puts on when they’re stressed, bored, sleepy, or hungover. Here’s a guide to choosing the perfect one for your target recipient based on the four major film people personalities.

Kitschy Hipsters
The big news for retro girls this year is that an affordable set of the first (and sadly, only) season of
My So-Called Life finally got released on DVD ($69.99). For hours of Jordan Catalano (and the accompanying 36-page photo book), there ain’t a chick between 24 and 30 who wouldn’t chop off her arm. Only slightly less cool would be a season or two (or three) of Beverly Hills 90210 ($35.99-$46.99) or—dare to dream—The Good, the Bad & the Beautiful box set that mashes up a season each of 90210 and its trashtastic cousin Melrose Place ($103.99). And hipster dudes all want to be the first on their Brooklyn block to own the straight-to-video Futurama movie Bender’s Big Score. And whether your cool kid goes to Anaheim every month or only wishes they could, Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic ($22.99) will let them hold court on all things Walt, Mickey, and Donald and the early days of animatronics with Mr. Lincoln. 

Brainiacs
For holiday revelers who between cocktail parties need to balance their brandy and eggnog with a dose of learning, some of this year’s best documentaries have just made it to DVD. 
Manufactured Landscapes ($22.99) is an eerily beautiful portrait of industrial China that says more in a tracking shot of the Three Gorges Dam (so large it’s changed the tilt of the earth) than most bloggers do in a page of ranting and Future Food ($21.99) makes the story behind your dinner seem positively sci-fi. But if you need to steer away from politics, Helvetica ($19.99) starts with a universal, if bland font (think American Airlines and American Apparel) only to venture out into the global marketplace. And surefire winners for anyone already blessed with the David Attenborough-narrated Planet Earth box set ($54.99)—my vote for most amazing nature series of the decade—are The Universe ($24.99), the History Channel’s 11-hour interstellar journey through the cosmos, and BBC’s The Power of Art ($34.99) which blends museum gossip with the best elements of Unsolved Mysteries and E! True Hollywood Story in reenactments of the real dirt behind pivotal works like Picasso’s Guernica and Caravaggio’s gory David and Goliath, painted after the rogue artist slashed up a man in an alley.

Popcorn Fiends
For now, only folks with Blu-ray can enjoy the gristle and sweat of the four-film Die Hard Collection ($90.45), but real Bruce fans don’t mind ditching the pretty box for the two-disc unrated version of Live Free or Die Hard ($23.99), especially when you can scoop up the first three films for a grand total of $14.99. Back before Mel Gibson went gonzo, he made a couple damned good action films and the Lethal Weapon: 4 Film Favorites ($10.49) covers the bulk of them. As a companion piece, Sylvester Stallone: 4 Film Favorites ($14.99) looks (and is) cheap, but serves up a gorgefest Over the Top, Demolition Man, The Specialist, and Tango & Cash. More deliberately funny, Steve Martin—The Wild and Crazy Collection ($16.99) offers two zingers (Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and The Jerk) and the overlooked The Lonely Guy with Martin’s patented prickly pathos. In 1964, The Last Man on Earth ($10.99) cast Vincent Price in a role that Will Smith is now popularizing at the multiplex—Price puts a completely different spin on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend that’s just as creepy and gut wrenching.

Pretentious Snots
With 21 discs and 24 films, The Ford at Fox collection ($224.99) is only for those devoted to a cineaste with a John Ford obsession. If in doubt about your loved one’s commitment to the classics, start small with either John Ford’s Silent Epics ($39.99) or his American Comedies ($44.99) which includes the vital Will Roger’s kneeslapper Steamboat Round the Bend. For those who prefer a more modern take on Ford’s timeless pairing of bullets and barren countryside, the Coen Brothers’ Gift Set ($25.99) of Blood Simple, Fargo, Barton Fink, Miller’s Crossing, and Raising Arizona is a no-brainer. Ditto the exhaustive five-disc Blade Runner Ultimate Collector’s Edition ($54.99), a prim suitcase-shaped box set in honor of the cult film’s 25th anniversary that includes Ridley’s definitive director’s cut for folks who missed it this fall during its brief whirl through the theater. And if your lovable geek is more active than the average nerd, consider Hossam Ramzy’s Bedouin Tribal Dance ($21.99) because nothing says cultured like being able to shimmy along to the nightly news.





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