Gift Guide 2: Even Giftier

As the holiday season shifts into high gear, you may find yourself with more people to give gifts to than you previously thought. No fear. Here’s part II of our gift guide, which focuses on stuff that we and some of our favorite people like and are passionate about.

Be sure to also check out part I of our gift guide

Comics, of course, are very much in our wheelhouse, but we’re at a loss of what to recommend when it comes to some of the most impressive comics in the world: manga (Japanese comics). Never fear: Melinda Beasi of, whom we interviewed a few months ago, dropped by with a few recommendations. She has three manga in particular to suggest as gifts this year.

“First off, and I know I recommended this in our original interview, but one of the best holiday gift options this year has to be Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata, published in English by Vertical, Inc. It’s flipped and in full color, so it’s an easy choice even for non-comics readers, and genuinely appropriate for all ages. For exclusively grown-up fare, I’d suggest Natsume Ono’s House of Five Leaves, published by Viz Media, an emotionally complex story about an underemployed samurai seeking his place in the world, as well as Fumi Yoshinaga’s single-volume Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! from Yen Press, a charming exploration of some of the author’s favorite foodie-friendly restaurants in Tokyo, filled to the brim with mouth-watering dishes and delicious banter.”

Coffee Chemistry’s Joseph Rivera–a real-life coffee scientist–offers a few coffee-related suggestions. First up, the French Press Mug, of which he says: “This is one of the coolest thing I’ve seen–this cup is essentially a mini French press that prepares coffee by the cup. It was so cool that the guys from Avatar used it in the movie–we are the only ones in the U.S. that sell it.” [$12.95; see pic above]. He also points to the HandPresso, “a portable way to make espresso” ($169), and the French Kiss, and add-on for your French Press that makes clean-up a snap ($17.95).

Doug Jacobson, documentary film-maker of “Faire: An American Renaissance” and more, and Julie Jacobson (of Arouse Coffee, see gift guide part I) have an out-of-the-box gift suggestion: tree dedications. Basically, TreePeople ( allows you to dedicate a tree in honor of a recipient for as little as $25. Your donation is used to help reforestation efforts that combat the aftermath of the Angeles Forest Station Fire.

Jonathan Westoff, writer of the Apocalypse . . .Meh! comic, hosted here on OO, will have his very own special holiday thoughts for you, published on these pages in just a couple days. However, in the mean time, he offers up a unique idea that any true Star Wars geek must have for his or her family members (or self).

“Don’t worry all you proud parents out there,” says Westoff, “I’m a kid at heart and I think I know what your kid wants. Don’t bother searching for boys and girls separately this season. All children, large and small, would love to have a custom Stormtrooper costume. No, parents don’t buy that plastic piece of garbage they sell at the party store; check out the mini costume on [ed. note: photo above]. They even give great tips on how to put together the finishing touches. This will probably set you back $400, but if they don’t grow too fast, you’re all set for Halloween and Comic Con season alike. Santa won’t have nothing on you this year, mom and dad.”

Dr. Carlos W. Nossa, who gave us his insights into being a microbiologist a while back, relates that, “as a poor graduate student, and then a poor scientist, I found that a good gift to give is framed photos.” He elaborates:

“For each of my sisters, and mother, I made a personalized framed photo collage (the kind you buy at the store with many windows for smaller photos) and filled it with old photos of them and myself. I thought it was a nice, personal touch and they all have them hanging on their wall still. Plus it’s obvious who it came from since Im in all the photos with them.

“Of course the photos weren’t originals, but scans and prints of the originals. This took a lot of effort in the early 2000s when I did it.

“Moral of the story, old photos make a great and sentimental (if not inexpensive) gift for loved ones.”

Finally, for your word geek, we offer a little trifecta of Scrabble-related goodness. First, any person that loves compelling non-fiction about top-level competitors should read a copy of Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis, which jumps into the world of competitive Scrabble and should make any reader a fan of both the game and the author (if your giftee is more of a football fan, try another Fatsis book, A Few Seconds of Panic). Add to that a copy of the game (available in board game form, in SuperScrabble form, and video versions on nearly any game system you can think of), and maybe a Scrabble mug, and your giftee’s word freakiness can show from the first cup of coffee until he or she turns off the reading lamp that night.

Gift buying = tough. Gift giving = awesome, especially if you hit your mark. Best of luck, hope this helped, and happy, happy holidays from your friends at Osmosis Online.


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