Holiday gifts with a Gator connection
December 11, 2007 -- This holiday season there is no need to be stumped for the perfect gift for Gator friends and family. Shoppers can give critically acclaimed books or tickets to performances -- all with a connection to an SF State alumnus or faculty member. The following gift ideas showcase the creative spirit of alumni and faculty.
For the theatre fan
Performing arts enthusiasts will appreciate tickets to the 40th anniversary revival of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming". The Broadway show is directed by Tony-award winning alumnus Daniel Sullivan. Performances begin Dec. 13.
For the shutterbug
Professor Ken Kobre's Lightscoop promises an end to indoor-photography pitfalls like demonic red eye and unflattering skin tone. Simply place the little device over the pop-up flash on a Nikon, Pentax or Canon camera, press the shutter and voilà, the flash bounces off a ceiling to cast soft, even light over subjects. The Lightscoop -- which performs the same basic function as fancy external flashes used by professional photographers, but with a much more affordable price tag -- was just selected by New York Times columnist David Pogue as one of his "Cool, Cheap Gadgets."
For the moviegoer
Why not take your favorite film fan to see "American Gangster" written by alumnus Steve Zaillian? Richard Roeper (Ebert & Roeper), one of many critics impressed by "American Gangster," wrote in his review, "There is not one dull or inauthentic moment in this film."
For the foodie
Olive oil isn't just something one cooks with, it's a culture. That's the message of alumna Peggy Knickerbocker's "Olive Oil: From Tree to Table" (Chronicle Books, '07). The renowned food writer provides the complete story of olive oil along with 112 tasty recipes. The book's color photos by Laurie Smith make the information a feast for the eyes as well.
For the fiction reader
Alumni from the Creative Writing Department continue to produce compelling reads. Here are just a few ideas for your favorite bibliophile: Alumna Carol Muske-Dukes founded a creative writing program at Riker's Island prison -- the first of its kind. Her intense experiences there served as background for her novel "Channeling Mark Twain" (Random House, '07). "The Street of a Thousand Blossoms" (St. Martin's Press, '07), a novel by alumna Gail Tsukiyama follows the lives of orphaned brothers Hiroshi and Kenji Matsumoto before, during and after World War II. Winner of the Associate Writing Programs' Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, "Heavier Than Air" (University of Massachusetts Press, '06), is a collection of short stories by Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and alumna Nona Caspers that focuses on survival and desire.
For the outdoor enthusiast
Alumnus Tim Cahill, a founding editor of Outside magazine and adventure writer extraordinaire, edited "The Best American Travel Writing 2006" (Houghton Mifflin, '06). Anyone familiar with Cahill's books including "A Wolverine is Eating My Leg," "Jaguars Ripped My Flesh" and "Pecked to Death By Ducks," knows Cahill as one of the best in the business. He selected the stories and wrote the compelling introduction.
For the jazz aficionado
"The Code" (Bombo Music,’07), the latest recording from lecturer John Calloway, a critically acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger, makes a great gift for a jazz fan with impeccable musical taste. Or if you're looking for some holiday jazz, consider "A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Original Soundtrack Recording of the CBS Television Special," with music by the late Vince Guaraldi, who honed his talents in the beatnik club scene while studying music at SF State. "Smashed for the Holidays" (Ruby Star Records, '07), the latest recording from alumna Jacqui Naylor, offers a special blend of her trademark "acoustic smashes" -- familiar rock tunes "smashed together" with holiday standards.
For the dog owner
Alumna Claudia Kawczynska, editor of Bark, the award-winning dog magazine, has assembled a gift package for people who love their pooches. Bark's newly released book, "Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit," "Dog Is My Co-Pilot" T-shirt and bumper sticker, a one-year subscription to Bark, and a box of dog treats. Gift givers can go to Bark Magazine's Web Site and click on "Howl goodie bag."
For someone in need of a laugh
Help someone begin the new year on a positive note with tickets to the Seventh Annual SF Sketchfest Jan. 10-27. The legendary series of stand-up, sketch, improv and musical comedy performances is the brainchild of alumni David Owen, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton, a group of talented performers who met at SF State.
For the financially strapped student
Give a Gator a bookstore gift card, the perfect way to help a student purchase textbooks, computer gear and other academic necessities. The Bookstore also offers an array of best-selling books, CDs and DVDs.
For the young and young at heart
What's an elephant to do with his trunk at dinner? Miss Perfect, an avian Emily Post, has the answer in "Dear Miss Perfect: A Beast's Guide to Proper Behavior" (Houghton Mifflin, '07), a children's book that's both entertaining and educational, written and illustrated by alumna Sandra Dutton.
For the rock star
Design and Industry alumni Joe Luttwak and Kyle Wolfe are receiving rave reviews for their Blackbird Rider Guitar, a compact instrument they developed as graduate students. The guitar makes a great gift for musicians who want an easy way to rock out. And for a little extra inspiration, why not include "The Doors" by The Doors and alumnus Ben Fong-Torres, a former senior editor and writer at Rolling Stone magazine. The book (Hyperion, '07) offers an all-access pass to the legendary band's history.
-- Adrianne Bee
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