EVERY DAY the Mercury editorial staff produces great, entertaining, and informative content for you, the reader. And what do you give us in return? (Other than mean internet comments?) BUPKIS! That's why, during this holiday season of giving, you should think about giving something to US. To make it extremely easy, we've provided a "wish list" of perfect holiday prezzies to purchase for us—and perhaps they would also make terrific gifts for your loved ones as well! (BUT BUY US OURS FIRST. WE DESERVE IT.)



1. Glamour Photo Session

It's been years since my last "glamour photo" (see inset), and while I have not aged one iota, I still love seeing my face in every possible permutation! That's why I'd love for you to buy me (or yourself, or a loved one) a photo session at Super Shots in the Lloyd Center Mall. For a mere $39.99 one can procure a "One Pose Package" that includes one 8"x10", two 5"x7"s, two 4"x6"s, and eight wallet-size pictures featuring any glamorous pose one can imagine! AND! Since it's taken in front of a green screen, you have a multitude of backgrounds to choose from, including "sparkling rainbow" (That's the one I chose! See inset!), "angels" (if you're dead, or planning to be that way), "speaker wall" (featuring comically huge speakers), and graffiti wall (if you count yourself among the urban/hiphop demographic). The mind reels with possibilities! Get me or any narcissistic personality in your life a gift of a photo sitting from Super Shots—and give them the gift... of themselves!

Super Shots, Lloyd Center Mall, supershotspdx.com, $39.99

2. Vintage Pajamas and/or Robe

In public, I am the very definition of "swanky." Passersby marvel at my street-smart clothing choices—so why do I spend eight hours a night dressed like Porky Pig? (Which is to say, sleeping in a soiled T-shirt and nothing else.) I need some sweet-ass vintage pajamas and a robe, which can easily be procured at one of my fave local shops, BillyGoat Vintage. This place specializes in immaculate vintage women's and men's wear (not a weird stain in sight!), which includes perfect suits and dresses from the 1940s and up, as well as hilariously cool neckties (one picturing trout fishing), and other fun old-timey stuff. BUT! Their vintage pajamas and robes are to die for, and they're in surprisingly fantastic shape. If you want me to look as good in bed as I do out of it, buy me the time-honored PJs I crave. (Goodbye, Porky Pig!)

BillyGoat Vintage, 200 SW Broadway, billygoatvintageclothing.com, robes $38-76, pajamas $22-40

3. Ukulele

Though accurately regarded as one of Portland's top all-around entertainer/performers, I do have an Achilles' heel. When asked to perform a song or dance routine on the spot, I am often left without accompaniment. That's why I need to have a musical instrument that's easy to learn, and small enough to transport wherever I go. I know... A HARP! No. A TROMBONE! No. Ahhh! A UKULELE! Yes! Everyone loves the ukulele (unless you're a bastard monster), plus compared to other instruments, they're easy on the pocketbook. For the best I've seen, check out Apple Music's acoustic store for a very wide variety (they also have harmonicas, jaw harps, and banjos!), and pay special attention to the Kala Mahogany Soprano Uke—which is a great beginner model that sounds gorgeous and will last for generations. Get me this uke, and I will write and dedicate an entire song to you titled, "Most Awesome Gift-Giver Ever!"

Apple Music Row, 225 SW 1st, applemusicrow.com, $53.99

4. An Ass-Load of Candy Packed in a Diabetes Kit Bag

IIIIII want cannndy! (Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap-clap!) In fact, I love it so much, I'm about 257 heartbeats away from adult-onset diabetes. So why not kill two birds with one stone this holiday season, by buying me an ass-load of candy and packing it in a bag intended to carry diabetes supplies? First, the candy: I suggest going to the overwhelmingly sugarific Rocket Fizz, which has every kind of candy imaginable (including saltwater taffy, lollipops, candy cigarettes, and soda pop). They even have candy imported from Japan and England, as well as pop culture-inspired non-candy treats (such as classic Marvel superhero playing cards!). Anyway, after buying me at least one of every candy in the store, order an absolutely darling "Diabetic Hypo Kit Bag" online. When it arrives, cram all the candy inside (maybe leave the insulin syringe), wrap, and serve! I will thank you—though my pancreas probably won't.

Rocket Fizz, 535 SW 6th, rocketfizz.com, various prices; Diabetic Hypo Kit Bag, wowbands.co.uk, $8 (I prefer pink)

5. Butt Ups

Frankly I don't care what you buy me from clothing/T-shirt store Gen X Clothing on SE 82nd—because I know it will be AH-MAY-ZING. Their walls are covered from front to back with T-shirts emblazoned with every possible marijuana reference imaginable (sprinkled with the occasional picture of a wolf's head inside a dreamcatcher [!!!])—but they also have products that you just kind of need. For example? Butt Ups. Basically they are temporary ass-implants that are stuck inside underwear. You slip 'em on, and your ba-phloomph-ba-phloomph magically turns into a BA-DUNK-BA-DUNK! I want one and I don't even need it! Why? Because it would be a good place to balance a can of soda... in other words, it's none of your goddamn business! So "butt up" or "butt OUT." (Heh.)

Gen X Clothing, 7999 SE Powell, gogenx.com, $9



1. Retro Headphones

How can I get funny-ass podcasts and the relevant sounds of ABBA into my body without annoying everyone around me with aural pollution? How about old-timey headphones! These Eskuché beauties in baby blue are retro pretty, comfortable, and they sound effing fantastic. Plus, I'll no longer have to dig the earwax out of my earbuds! They even make the theme song from Bosom Buddies sound like Swedish death metal... well, at least that's what I'll tell myself when I'm banging head on the bus. And thanks to their noise-reduction properties, no one will know how much I love wuss-rock.

Tender Loving Empire, 412 SW 10th, tenderlovingempire.com, $65

2. Fangirl Twin Peaks Ring

Turns out I'm never not going to love Twin Peaks, so I might as well dress the part. With a class from artist Suki Allen at local crafting store Collage, I can learn the fine art of working with ice resin. With this essential skill, I can create a replica of Laura Palmer's mysterious owl ring. Usually Collage offers an ice resin class for rings, but this go-around they're tutoring on the finer points of necklace pendants. Fine by me, I'll soak up the skills then get to making that spooky ooky green ring myself. Everyone's going to want one of these puppies when I'm sporting it around town.

Collage, 1639 NE Alberta, collagepdx.com, ice resin pendant class on Sat Dec 21, $25

3. Waterproof Boots

You know what Nancy Sinatra says about boots... hmm, actually, I have no idea what she says about boots, we're not friends. FRIEND ME, NANCY! We could go on walks together. I like to walk. But (full circle) all that walkin' wreaks havoc on my favorite boots. I've had three pairs of waterproof boots crap out on me this month, the most recent of which culminated in a midnight boot escape involving a jammed-up zipper and some very sharp scissors. So I need some new boots, lest I go barefoot like a Cletus. I've already owned a pair of these Merrell Captiva boots and loved 'em—wore the soles right off. I'll take 'em in "drizzle," size seven. Now I'm just waiting for your call, Nancy.

Clogs-N-More, 3439 SE Hawthorne, clogsnmore.com, $180

4. Thunderpants

I love Thunderpants! No, not the 2002 kids' movie about a flatulent kid who dreams of becoming an astronaut (co-starring Ron Weasley!)—the New Zealand line of underwear. It seems kinda insane to pay more than $20 for a pair of drawers, but these super soft, comfortable underpinnings are the bestest bum covers ever invented. They never ride, they're made of organic cotton, and they're festooned with robots and space invaders and vintage spectacles! I'll take the ones with bunnies, owls, and artichokes. My butt thanks you.

Radish Underground, 414 SW 10th, radishunderground.com, three for $66

5. Roller-Skating Punch Card

Thanks to a stupid injury, I haven't been fitting in as much roller-skating as I'd like. So how's about a little incentive, like a 10-session punch card from the best roller rink EVAH, Oaks Park! I can work on my fancy footwork and backward skating, or maybe I'll go balls-out and head to the late-night adult skates where the music is bumping and the ankle-biters are nonexistent. Any which way, I want that glorious feeling of the wind whipping through my hair and the wheels rolling under my feet. Who wants to be my partner for the couples' skate?

Oaks Park Roller Rink, 7805 SE Oaks, oakspark.com, $62.50 for 10 sessions on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays nights



1.Cielo Cycles Sportif Classic

There is no Portland-made product I fetishize more than this bicycle.

Some days, I'll keep a picture of it pulled up on my computer, just because. I once sent Cielo Cycles a tweet asking if they'd consider letting me wash dishes (?) until I'd paid one off. It was the gambit of an ill man, but in my fevered optimism I half expected it to work. They never responded. The Sportif—I'll often whisper to myself—is all I want or need in a bike. It's gorgeous, incorruptible steel crafted by the quality-obsessed folks at Chris King Precision Components over on NW Nela. It's not custom-made like some of the fancy frames welded in town, and it's heavier than some of the shady space-age stuff produced these days. That's great for me, and ultimately cheaper for you. Size 60 in green, please. And thanks!

Cielo Cycles, cielo.chrisking.com, $2,195 for frame, fork, and fenders

2. Paxton Gate Hoof Inkwell

In this city, no one's impressed with your blog—you're just another plaid-bedecked asshole with a MacBook Pro hogging the best booth at Stumptown. I say: Snazz the whole process up a bit. Yes, I'll still write at the coffee shop, but these days I'm rocking a powdered wig and pantaloons, and scratching my insecurities out longhand, J. Hancock-style. As you'd expect, a spotty Bic ballpoint simply won't do in this situation. I'd draw far more inspiration—and ink—from the hollowed-out foot of a long-dead ungulate. The great news? You don't even have to murder an elk. Paxton Gate, a San Francisco company with a location on N Mississippi, has already anticipated the trend I'm only now starting.

Paxton Gate, 4204 N Mississippi, paxtongate.com, $500

3. Innova DISCatcher Traveler

I've been playing disc golf for like 15 years, and I'm still awful. My drives are entropic and mediocre; my mid-range efforts lack grace. But there's one thing I can do with some consistency: putt like my life depends on it. And it sort of does. Anyone who doesn't play disc golf couldn't be expected to understand the near-complete sense of self-worth that can be built, scaffold-like, around a decent short game. It's a powerful thing, let me tell you. But who's got time to practice in these hectic times? Lately, I'm lucky to get out once a month and my putting (read: self-esteem) has suffered accordingly. Buy me a practice basket for my yard, guys. I need this.

Next Adventure, 426 SE Grand, $139.99

4.Queen Bee Creations "Sprout" Panniers

So many amazing technical marvels exist when it comes to on-bike storage, yet almost no one's figured out how to sew an aesthetically pleasing set of panniers? Look at that gorgeous goddamn bike you just bought me and try to say I should strap some Big Bird-yellow Ortlieb abominations to it. Not happening. I'm opting for these lovely bags by Rebecca Pearcy at Portland's Queen Bee Creations. The function is the same as other brands, but in place of neon racing stripes I'll be sporting lovely flora and twee dreams for a peaceful tomorrow. Perfection.

Queen Bee Creations, 3961 N Williams, Ste. 101, queenbee-creations.com, $124 a bag

5. Revolution Design House Boxcar Succulent Planter

I moved into a new place recently, and suddenly there was a cactus-shaped chasm in my soul. But don't buy me a cactus. I've got very specific cactus tastes, and we'd just end up having that awkward conversation where I ask you for the receipt but it's gotten lost and now I'm throwing away a perfectly good cactus. That's a whole lot of needless heartache all around. What you should do instead is buy me one of these sweet, three-piece planters from local company Revolution Design House. Then watch as I spend several long months agonizing over which three cacti to purchase, only to kill them weeks later. Hey, I'm no botanist.

Tilde, 7919 SE 13th, tildeshop.com, $58



1. Film Geek Books

In particular, four fancy-pants hardcovers—all of which are significantly classier than my crappy particle-board coffee table on which they'll sit. There's The Wes Anderson Collection, by New York magazine writer Matt Zoller Seitz ($40), which delves into each of Anderson's films and boasts an intro by Michael Chabon and suitably meticulous design. The Making of Return of the Jedi, the final installment in the Lucasfilm-sanctioned chronicle of the original trilogy's production, by JW Rinzler ($85), which features remarkable behind-the-scenes photos and stuff like production meeting transcripts. Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions, by Guillermo del Toro ($60), which finally, gorgeously collects the stunning art and far-out ideas that have been scribbled by del Toro during the making of his amazing films. And finally there's Terminator Vault, by Empire magazine editor Ian Nathan ($40), which follows Nathan's fascinating Alien Vault in similar fashion: combining a breezy but detailed look at the making of James Cameron's classics The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day with meticulous, removable reproductions of artifacts—like Terminator storyboards and a T2 crew badge. When Skynet finally invents a time machine, that badge is totally going to let me sneak onto Cameron's set.

All books available at Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, powells.com

2. Justified: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray

I'm an entire season behind on Justified. Know why? Because I can't bear to watch my favorite show on a stupid week-to-week basis. I mainline that shit. Following the 100 percent badass character of Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens (who was created by Elmore Leonard—RIP), FX's modern-day western is set in the dangerous hollers of Harlan, Kentucky, and is consistently witty, gripping, bloody, and fun. At long last, season four hits Blu-ray and DVD on December 17; in related news, I will be calling in sick to work on December 17.

Special order from CD Gamexchange, various locations, cdgameexchange.com, $65.99

3. Stetson Cowboy Hat

Chances I could actually pull off wearing Raylan Givens' trademark tan Stetson US Marshal hat: JUST ABOUT ZERO. Am I willing to try anyway? Fuck yes I am, given how vastly better my life will instantly become if I somehow do pull it off. (Keep an eye out for that rakish tip of the brim, ladies.) The reliably friendly and helpful folks at the Portland Outdoor Store have a slew of hats that'll fit the bill. It is somewhat less certain if said hats will allow me to survive shootouts with rural drug dealers and/or convince anyone on the planet that I'm a Deputy US Marshal.

Portland Outdoor Store, 304 SW 3rd, $200 and up

4. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

As evidenced by his 2008 Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz is one of the best writers working today. Now his great short-story collection This Is How You Lose Her is available in a slick illustrated hardcover edition, complete with a slipcover, and featuring art by none other than comics legend Jaime Hernandez.

Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, powells.com, $32

5. Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS Watch

So here's a terrible idea: I'm going to do the Shamrock Run again this year! This will make me miserable and exhausted for months on end, driving me through hours of pain, wheezing, and self-loathing before resulting in a few brief, meager seconds in which I will fling my frail body over the finish line and feel a middling sense of underwhelming accomplishment. Fitness! BUT TO ACCOMPLISH ALL OF THIS, I need a way for my math-challenged brain to track how far I'm going on my runs and how fast I'm doing them. Enter this GPS watch, which does all of that for me, all while looking like something Tony Stark would have. Shit. It occurs to me now that I should've put one of Tony Stark's Iron Man suits on this list. Oh, man. Probably should've asked for one of those instead of the cowboy hat.

Foot Traffic, 333 SW Taylor, $229.99



(Or, Gifts for the DIY beverage maker who's getting serious)

1. Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, Sixth Edition, by George A. Burdock

Fenaroli's Handbook is the OED of flavors, the resource that picks up where Harold McGee leaves off. If you work in food and beverage development, you need this 2,000-plus-page resource on your (reinforced) shelf. The chemical makeup, tasting notes, application units, and a host of other data points are provided for thousands of natural, imitation, and artificial ingredients. Want to have coffee flavor in your mouth, but can't be bothered to pop out for a cup? Just eat some 5-methylquinoxaline, and enjoy the "nutty, roasted, peanut, and pyrazine-like [taste] with yeasty corn chip nuance"!*

Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, powells.com, $641.75 (call ahead for availability)

* You probably shouldn't eat this straight.

2. Milwaukee MA871 Digital Refractometer

Forget visual refractometers. If you're a winemaker, home brewer, candy maker, beverage engineer, or just want to sit around comparing the sugar content of your spit to your tears, this device is critical for developing consistency in your product. I like this unit because it can measure the Brix (sugar content) of everything from distilled water to honey—whatever life throws at you. It recognizes Brix levels of 0-85 percent, and features automatic temperature compensation (Brix is also a function of temperature). It's easy to calibrate, measures in two seconds, takes one 9-volt battery, and is easy to clean. Give Portland's own Nurnberg Scientific a call (they are will-call only), and if they can't get this one... well, I just listed all the parameters you need in a sub-$160 refractometer.

Nurnberg Scientific, 1-800-826-3470

3. Milwaukee SM101 Portable pH Meter

A slick pH meter is no longer the exclusive purview of pool cleaners and aquarium dorks. If you're serious about understanding your beer, wine, syrups, or juices, you should be able to record the sweetness (see #2), but also the acidity. This is particularly important if you're going to be working with preservatives: The acidity of your product determines which preservative is the right one for the beverage. My science might be foggy there, but your beverages won't be. This unit has the following desirable features: manual calibration, +/- 0.02 accuracy, and manual temperature compensation.

About $80, various online resources

4. Still Spirits T500 Condenser and Boiler

Okay, so you've made wine, beer, cider, mead, and even some tricked-out lemongrass and cinchona syrups for your Soda-Stream. In Oregon, though, it's particularly important that any properly outfitted survivalist be able to distill his own 80-proof liquor, because when this all goes to hell in a handbasket, the OLCC warehouse will be the first place scraped to the studs. I'm using that hypothetical scenario here, of course, because it's illegal to make your own liquor, and you shouldn't—but if you substitute "perfume" for "liquor" you can get around pretty much any law (just say that you like it when your lover smells like cardamom-heavy gin, and you'll likely even beat the lie detector). These two units are all you need to produce clear spirits, excepting your distillable "wash," and, preferably, someone who knows how to make the "cuts."

FH Steinbart, 234 SE 12th, fhsteinbart.com, T500 Boiler $200, T500 Condenser $265

5. A Gift Certificate for a Good Haircut

I am not my grandfather, but I have a pet theory that guys with shitty hair look worse than guys with slick, tight cuts. That's why once a month I get Guil down at Heads High to snap on the #1 clip, shape everything high and tight, and hit my neck with an old-school straight razor. Guil—along with his boys Josh (Master Barber) and Rob—specialize in clean lines, retro styles, and painstaking precision. If you want to talk about the Frenched headlights on your '50 Ford Coupe, or simply the lamentable fate of Cliff Burton, they can do that, too. Their rogues' gallery of customers also seems to indicate that they often trim the front-of-house staff at Lucky Devil, so ladies are clearly welcome in this temple of Dudes and their Concerns.

Heads High, 6006 SE Foster, $20 for a "short cut"



1. The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932, Volume 1

The deluxe new compilation covering the history of Paramount Records isn't billed as a box set—it's a "wonder cabinet" with 800 tracks on MP3, six vinyl records, two jumbo books of liner notes, and lots more ephemera. Paramount Records started in 1917 as an offshoot of the Wisconsin Chair Company, which had begun to dabble in manufacturing phonograph players and wanted to make records to play on 'em. They had an open-door recording policy, recording anyone and everyone they could, focusing on "race" records and inadvertently documenting vital American history—and artists like King Oliver, Charley Patton, Louis Armstrong, and Son House—in the process. This ridiculously sumptuous box of blues, jazz, gospel, and more comes from Jack White's Third Man Records, housed in an oak cabinet and priced prohibitively—at baffling odds with the label's original, record-'em-all, record-'em-cheaply attitude. But it's a thing of swanky, extravagant beauty, and I want one.

Music Millennium, 3158 E Burnside, $499.99

2. Case of Bass

Boomboxes have evolved, thanks to Case of Bass, a Portland company refurbishing gorgeous vintage suitcases into portable soundsystems. These things of beauty add not just bass and volume to the party, but also a touch of goddamn class. They make one-of-a-kind and custom jobs, but any one of the pimped-out cases they've got in stock will do for me—although I'm partial to the smart-looking, über-portable cases in their "Courier" line. Each case can be customized with a rechargeable battery, and you can either attach your iPod or iPhone and slide it in the cute little holder (it looks like a luggage tag!) or cut the pesky cord by streaming through Bluetooth. One thing's for sure: With my Case of Bass, I'm gonna be able to bring the noise everywhere I go.

Case of Bass, 19 NW 5th, Ste. 207 (by appointment), caseofbass.com, $300 & up

3. Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection

Through January 12, 2014, the Portland Art Museum is hosting the stunning, staggering Samurai! exhibit, a collection of Japanese armor and artifacts from the 14th to 19th centuries ["Better Than Some Dumb Sword," Visual Art, Oct 23]. While I'll never be able to afford any of the types of remarkable pieces of antiquity the Barbier-Mueller family has amassed in their collection, I can afford the exhibit's accompanying book. Or, rather, you can afford it. Simply trot over to the Portland Art Museum's gift shop—and, actually, take a good long stroll through Samurai! while you're at it; it really is incredible—and plonk down some cash for Art of Armor, a 360-page catalog with photos of all the gorgeous artifacts and accompanying text by Bernard Fournier-Bourdier.

Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park, portlandartmuseum.org, $45 softcover, $65 hardcover

4. Anything from BlackBook Guitars

BlackBook Guitars opened last year on N Mississippi, boasting a pants-creaming inventory of beautiful and unusual cherry axes. But it's not just vintage guitars and basses—they've also got drool-worthy old amplifiers, effects pedals, and keyboards (they even had a working Optigan, although that quickly found a home). I've got my eye on their Gretsch Clipper, a handsome, thin, hollow-body electric; or the Danelectro Bellzouki, a bizarre pear-shaped 12-string from the '60s. Of course, if you wanted to snag me the gorgeous 1966 Fender Jaguar that they've got in immaculate condition—and priced at nearly five grand—I wouldn't complain. Not one bit. (Be advised: BlackBook is only open on Wednesdays or by appointment.)

BlackBook Guitars, 3624 N Mississippi, blackbookguitars.com, prices vary

5. Third Eye Blind Hooded Sweatshirt

Did you know that shitty '90s alternative band Third Eye Blind—or 3EB, to peeps in the know—have their own motto? Well, they do, and that motto is this: "BORN IN SHADOW. MADE OF LIONS. LOUD AS FUCK." I am not joking. That is their actual motto. ("Made of lions"!!!!!) Those three short sentences of absolute fucking nonsense are inscribed on the back of their fall tour hoodies, which will surely be available for sale at the merch table at their Crystal Ballroom show on Monday, December 16. Here's my conundrum: I desperately, desperately want to wear a hoodie that contains the gibberish phrase "Made of Lions" on it. However, there is no fucking way in the world I am going to subject myself to a Third Eye Blind concert to get one. That's where you come in, dear readers: Go to the show, buy one of those dumb hoodies, and give it to me. Then, I shall proudly flaunt the stupidest slogan ever devised by man, band, or... lion?

Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, Dec 16, $30/show (hoodie probably $50 or more, but you can't put a price on "MADE OF LIONS")



1. The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron

Okay, I'll be honest: I own this book already. But it's absolutely brilliant, and the perfect gift for that friend of yours who's shy about wanting to be a writer—you know, the girl who wears giant glasses and writes poetry on the bus. (I know you know that person, this town has like 5,000 of her.) Nora Ephron was one of the funniest, warmest, and most insightful writers ever. Period. If you only know her as the screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally..., you're in for a goddamn treat. The Most of Nora Ephron collects essays on journalism, feminism, and life, as well as fiction and screenplays; it's essential reading, and a perfect gift.

Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, broadwaybooks.net, $35

2. Membership to the Hollywood Theatre

This year alone at the Hollywood, I've seen top-notch live comedy, a lecture on videogames, indie films that weren't playing anywhere else, and a daytime matinee of an Abbott and Costello film with a bunch of old people and children. The Hollywood's programming is some of the best in town, in terms of both film and live events. And they have the good popcorn, the kind that looks like puffy little brains. So buy me a membership, wouldya? It's only $45 for the whole year, it supports one of the most vital arts organizations in town, and I could use the discounted tickets that come with membership.

Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy, hollywoodtheatre.org, $45 for basic membership

3. Save Me from an Earthquake

This one takes a little work. Maybe you've heard that Portland is in an earthquake zone? And we can all expect our entire way of life to be demolished forever when the big one hits? I'm totally unprepared for this eventuality. Here's what I need: Gallon jugs of water. Nonperishable food. Batteries. A flashlight—a fancy one, not one of those crappy little plastic ones. Some canned cat food (...for the cat). The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management has an online checklist if you need more ideas, and you can buy all kinds of shiny disaster preparedness gear online at the Portland Preparedness Center. I know it's not the most fun Christmas present, but aren't we supposed to buy people things they would never get themselves? And apparently I'm never going to put this together on my own, since I've been talking about it for the last two years and it hasn't happened yet. Really, the gift of post-apocalyptic survival is the greatest gift of all.

Portland Preparedness Center, getreadyportland.com

4. Scrabble Class

As a non-home owning Portlander, I expect I inevitably will be forced into ever-smaller living conditions as the city becomes increasingly unaffordable to all but the wealthy. (Do I sound bitter? I am!) So I don't really need more stuff; at this point, I'd rather acquire skills than possessions. Portland Community College offers some awesome non-credit classes for the self-motivated: I'm torn between Competitive Scrabble: Strategies for Success; Woodworking 101; and an East Indian cooking class. You can take away affordable housing, but you can't take my Scrabble strategies for success!

See pcc.edu for schedule, prices varybut are, on the whole, surprisingly cheap!

5. Frances Ha Criterion Collection

Director Noah Baumbach made a bunch of depressing movies about mixed-up people, and then he made a beautiful movie about a mixed-up person: Frances Ha, starring the endlessly likeable Greta Gerwig, is a distillation of youth, energy, and charm that focuses on one young woman trying to find her way in the world. People who dislike this movie are Grinches whose hearts are two sizes too small. It stands up to re-watching, and I want it on my shelf for days when I'm feeling gloomy and uninspired. Bonuses on the Criterion Collection edition include a conversation between Gerwig and filmmaker Sarah Polley.

Special order from CD Gamexchange, various locations, cdgameexchange.com, $39.95



1. Alela Diane's About Farewell on Vinyl

Maybe it's weird that what's perhaps my favorite record of the year—Portland songwriter Alela Diane's devastating, epic breakup/divorce album About Farewell—coincided with the first year of my own (happy, I swear!) marriage, but you really can't plan these things. After submerging myself in a probably unhealthy number of repeat listens for an article earlier this year, I still haven't quite been able to shake it, and unlike much of my iTunes ephemera, it's earned its place in my elite, physical collection of records. (I know this because bits of it still involuntarily play in my head even if I haven't listened to it in a while.) I've seen it performed live, but I've never even heard it on vinyl. Considering my husband shifts uncomfortably and refers to it as "that sad-pants country music" (while still admitting it's beautiful), he's probably not going to buy this for me. But if someone else doesn't, I will.

aleladiane.com, $19.99

2. Balm Chicky Balm Balm "Flavor Orgy"

As far as addictions go, I'd say my dual reliance on lip balm and cute packaging is pretty damn lightweight. And while the giant tub of Vaseline I keep at my desk sees action all day (yes, yes, I know the hippies don't approve, but this tub has lasted me three years and probably has five more left in it, and I'm not about to waste), I'm constantly in need of smaller, portable sources of lip moisture to keep in my purses. Local brand Balm Chicky Balm Balm is an all-natural formula that comes in multiple flavors and colors (I like a variety—to throw a different one in each purse—so I'm after the "Flavor Orgy" package, which includes all five), plus it has cute, retro '70s-style packaging. And while I'm no mysophobe, it also has a "friend end," for when your pals inevitably ask for some. It's literally the back end of the tube, so you can keep your own balm territory free of all but your personal germs. Let your friends enjoy their own collective cesspool, the leeches.

balmchicky.com, five for $50

3. Crazy Wind Draped Jacket

Japanese textiles are having a huge moment right now, and Portland apparel brand Crazy Wind is translating traditional kasuri fabrics into cute, modern silhouettes, from easy-wearing pants to patchy Ts, dresses, and totes. Designer Chiyo Takahashi has a background in the sportswear world (Puma, Converse, Adidas), and works with her mother, based in Nagoya, to source Crazy Wind's materials from family-owned factories and workshops in rural Japan. Her knack for pattern-blocking the fun and subtly colorful patterns only emphasizes the playtime feel of the pieces, and this draped, open-front jacket would definitely be on regular rotation in my closet. I know it ain't cheap, but I would keep and wear it forever! Local boutique Frances May stocks a number of Crazy Wind styles, but act fast! There are only a few of this specific jacket left, and one of them just happens to be my size (small).

Frances May, 1013 SW Washington, francesmay.com, $360

4. French Hand Broom (Pink)

I can get into it, but I wouldn't say that I inherently like cleaning. And it's a rare product indeed that can get me downright excited about the chore, especially while I'm otherwise occupied with casually sipping a glass of wine on a pleasant evening at one of the city's most charming stores. And yet, that is precisely what happened while I was at a book signing at Alder & Co. recently, where I laid eyes on these hand brooms. (Don't ask me about the reasoning behind what such things are for—sweeping crumbs off the dining room table? A substitute for a broom when you don't feel like standing up?). Yes hand brooms! Sometimes you know that there is only one version of an object that will ever, ever catch your fancy, and this hand broom is the only hand broom for me. It's made of French beech and white silk (!), and it comes in pink! And it's made in France! I would totally sweep some shit up with it, or whatever.

Alder & Co., 616 SW 12th, alderco.bigcartel.com, $40

5. Group Fitness Flex Punch Card

Fitness-wise, this year has sucked. Just when I was about to go into turbo-mode this spring, I gave myself a stress injury from running, which effectively put me out for a few months and (even worse) completely knocked me out of my rhythm. I limped along with yoga and Pilates for a while, eventually added the odd boot camp, and now I'm back to a much more moderate running schedule (harder to safely do during the winter months, when it's dark 80 percent of the time). But you know what I really miss? Working out at Studio X, the Southeast Portland micro-gym, where the classes are small, the trainers and workouts are tough, and the music is loud. They'll kick your ass, but they'll also make sure you get enough water and stretching, and it's my favorite gym in town to get motivated. But it's been so long! A package of 10 group classes should snap my weakened muscles back into where they should be, and I'll be happier too.

Studio X Fitness, 2839 SE Stark, studioxfitness.com, $130



1.The Golden Age of Wild Chicago

I left my old hometown, Chicagoland, and headed for the West Coast pretty much as soon as I was old enough to drink and rent a car. And now, after all these years, I still find myself missing the place terribly—even though I'm bewildered by all the changes when I visit every few years. How do I cope? By remembering the city as I left it. Powell's City of Books, with a large used collection of Chicago tomes, helps. So does the internet. But this month, the holy grail of nostalgia is finally coming out on DVD. I honestly almost wept when I read the news in the Chicago Reader. The Golden Age of Wild Chicago distills one of the best public television programs there ever was—profiles of weird stores, strange jobs, bizarre scenes—into a time capsule of Chicago-only oddities and oddballs that are gone but never, ever forgotten.

gowildwithben.com, $24.99

2. Clever Coffee Dripper

I'm snobby and particular about the rituals that produce my morning cup of coffee. The beans have to be ground just right. The water has to be poured just right—let the grounds flower, then pour the rest in so you keep the grounds from clumping on the sides. And then the grounds have got to steep long enough—the chewier and oilier the better. The secret to this dance—which annoys my otherwise patient wife, who just wants her goddamned coffee so she can wake up, thankyouverymuch—is the Clever Coffee Dripper. It's part drip cone, part French press. The trick is it's got a stopper at the bottom that opens up only after you rest it on the mug you'll be drinking from. Which means you can steep until your heart's content, but still use a filter so you don't end up, desperate for those last drops, aspirating on a mouthful of bitter coffee silt.

Mr. Green Beans, 3932 N Mississippi, mrgreenbeanspdx.com, $22

3. STM Vertical Laptop Shoulder Bag

Portland City Hall is a cruel and judgmental place where personal appearances matter more than you might think. That's a difficult reality for reporters (actually just me), who are famous for slovenly, schlubby, and wrinkled clothing, along with the rest of the usual stereotype. I've found something, however, that might distract from my ugly pants and scuffed shoes and finally open the doors of access a little bit wider. STM's laptop bags are so sleek and dashing, especially for a work tool otherwise so terribly quotidian, that I figure every front-desk admin in the building will start giving me compliments instead of piteous smirks. And bonus? STM's bags are filled with secret pockets and resist rain beautifully, so I can hide my pens and secret documents without worrying about the rain when dashing off to do my endlessly intrepid work.

Portland Luggage Company, 440 SW 4th, portlandluggage.com, $70

4. JoeBlow Sport II Bike Pump

In other parts of the country, families bicker over things like buying Coke over Pepsi (no one buys either in Portland—ever), or whether Super Mario could kick the crap out of Sonic the Hedgehog (because everywhere else is stuck inside the worst schoolyard debate of 1991). Here, we fight over differences like this: Presta vs. Schrader. For those who just moved here, those are two different kinds of bike tire valves. And, in most cases, if you have bikes with both in the same house, you'll need two air pumps to ably pump both. Which is why I like the JoeBlow Sport II. It's got two heads, for each type of valve—so you never have to choose between them again. Family harmony!

Waterfront Bicycles, 10 SW Ash, #100, $45

5. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Companion by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block

No one laugh at me. Pretty please? I love this show. Desperately. It's definitely the best Star Trek show ever made. It's maybe one of the best sci-fi shows ever made. And I love reading about each episode on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki, as I'm watching it, streaming on either Netflix or Amazon Prime. But this book is the source for so much of what's dribbled into those entries. And I could read it even when my phone's battery is dead.

Used bookstores, if you're lucky, or amazon.com, $25.85 and up

  • Artwork by Jesse Tise