1. BOOK THE PHAIDON ATLAS OF CONTEMPORARY WORLD ARCHITECTURE ($160)
This man-size volume—it comes in its own briefcase—showcases megacool buildings like Frank Gehry's funky Experience Music Project in Seattle.
2. BOOK HIP: THE HISTORY BY JOHN LELAND ($26,95)
Leland's brainy survey makes you see hip as not just a marketing label but as a way of life, demonstrating the surprising links between topics as diverse as pulp fiction and Snoop Dogg.
3. CD LONDON CALLING THE CLASH ($29.98)
For the first time fans of the seminal punks learn how a masterpiece was made: A DVD documentary and a recording of a long-lost rehearsal tape accompany the 25th-anniversary reissue of this classic work.
4. DVD COFFEE AND CIGARETTES ($29.98)
Indie king Jim Jarmusch spent 18 years shooting these 11 deadpan shorts, which feature stars such as Cate Blanchett
, Bill Murray and Iggy Pop gulping java, dragging on ciggies and jawing over life's problems.
5. iPOD U2 SPECIAL EDITION ($349) AND ULTIMATE EARS ($550)
You too can get close to Bono and band-mates with a limited edition iPod engraved with autographs and a $50 coupon that can be used for the $150 downloadable box set The Complete U2. And take a cue from Britney Spears
: Soak up sound with custom-fitted earphones modeled on impressions of your ear canal (made by a hearing aid center or audiologist). The price is steep, but the sound quality is stunning.
1.CD CONFESSIONS USHER ($ 18.98)
American Music Awards champ Usher, the flyest of the fly, has beefed up his 6 million-selling album—2004's biggest smash—with this special edition. It features four new songs, including "My Boo," his duet with Alicia Keys, as well as a hip-hopping remix of his No. 1 hit "Confessions Part II." Now everybody say "Yeah!"
DVD ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND ($29.98)
The rubber-faced Jim Carrey gets serious in this edgy film about a loser who hires a team of dicey scientists to expunge his painful memories of ex-squeeze Kate Winslet
. Things start getting weird when he decides he wants to bag the project while he's being reprogrammed. Also starring Kirsten Dunst
and Mark Ruffalo; screenplay by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich).
OLDMAN'S GUIDE to OUTSMARTING WINE BY MARK OLDMAN ($18)
Glib and unpretentious (sort of like a Gallo Chardonnay), Oldman—a 30ish charmer who was an attorney before he became a wine geek—decodes wine-tasting lingo and shows how to spot a bargain bottle in this fresh, funny guide to the world of Merlot and Meursault. Wine-wise celebs, such as rapper Ludacris and author Jay McInerney, pitch in with their tips too.
CD WITH THE LIGHTS OUT NIRVANA ($59.98)
Hallelujah! Things will smell like teen spirit all over again thanks to the grungiest gift of the season—a long-awaited box set that the irrepressible Courtney Love and the surviving members of Nirvana have been sparring over for years. These three CDs, packing 68 (!) previously unreleased tracks, along with a DVD featuring never-before-seen-concert, rehearsal and studio-recording footage, comprise an intoxicating time-capsule for Kurt Cobain-heads.
CD O-GÊNIO: RAY CHARLES LIVE IN BRAZIL, 1963 ($14.99)
Six months after his death, the timeless Ray Charles is hotter than ever: His final CD, Genius Loves Company
, is being snapped up at music stores, and his biopic, Ray, has taken off at the box office. Now Charles gets more posthumous props with this DVD capturing a 1963 performance in São Paolo, Brazil (O-Gênio means "The Genius" in Portuguese). Hear him sing "What'd I Say" and "Hit the Road Jack" and bask in the cool-cat vibe all over again.
AUDIOBOOK CHRONICLES VOLUME ONE BY BOB DYLAN, READ BY SEAN PENN ($29.95)
An iconoclastic Oscar-winner gives a riveting reading of the new memoir by rock-iconoclast Bob Dylan. The six-CD set includes the unabridged text, which focuses on the storied Greenwich Village folk scene in the '60s but also covers Dylan's early years playing in coffeehouses in Minnesota. There's also a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the recording sessions for the 1989 album Oh Mercy in New Orleans.
DVD THE UP SERIES ($99.95)
This groundbreaking serial-documentary by director Michael Apted is strangely addictive. Beginning in 1964 with Seven Up
, Apted followed a group of 14 English schoolchildren at home and at school, chronicling their small victories and deeply felt defeats. Every seven years, Apted caught up with the group in a new documentary. Over the decades he has caught every surprising, sometimes heartbreaking twist in their lives. In this package: Apted's audio commentary for 42 Up, the latest installment.
CD FRANZ FERDINAND FRANZ FERDINAND ($18.95)
These sharp-dressing postpunkers are the coolest thing to come out of Scotland since Sean Connery. An expanded limited-edition version of their 2004 self-titled debut, this 2-disc set features four new tracks, a rerecording of the grooving "This Fire," as well as their hit "Take Me Out." It all rocks.
DVD SEINFELD, SEASONS 1 THROUGH 3 ($119.95)
This long-awaited eight-disc box set is definitely splurgeworthy: It includes 40 episodes, along with the requisite deleted scenes, more of Jerry's stand-up, a gag reel and commentary from the cast and crew. Perfect for Festivus.