Salon's 2011 Gift Guide

Salon's 2011 gift guide

We shop for the year's most memorable fictional characters, so you can please all the crazy characters on your list

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    Walter White — from “Breaking Bad” (the hard-to-please dad)

    Even when he’s not cooking in the lab, Dad’s an expert with open flames. Because you know how he hates when his tools go missing, this handsome set of stainless-steel grilling tools (basting mop, fork, slotted spatula and tongs) features handle shanks suitable for monogramming with three initials ($99.95).

    H(2)O + CO(2) might not be the most lucrative chemical reaction, but this gift might help him break his high-fructose corn syrup addiction. The Sodastream Pure Seltzer Kit ($129.95) sports a 60 ml carbonator, a sleek modern design and is easy enough for a home cook to master.

    He’s a mad scientist behind the bar, too. Watch him whip up his own signature combinations with “Bitters: a Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All” ($16.15) by food writer Brad Thomas Parsons.

    New careers demand new skills. Help Dad tap into his ambition with this gorgeous Penguin Great Ideas edition of “The Prince” ($8.50), Niccolo Machiavelli’s seminal handbook on political power that feels as relevant and practical today as it did in 15th century Florence.

    If the heat comes down, he might need to make a quick getaway. This rugged yet stylish J. Cook leather weekender bag ($249) from Pottery Barn is luxe enough for a kingpin, yet subtle — sometimes, it’s best to keep a low profile. If you spring for the monogram, consider an alias.

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    Cersei Lannister — from “Game of Thrones” (the merciless queen)

    The classic V-neck Italian cashmere sweater ($168) from J. Crew for a classic beauty. Make it “dark poppy,” the closest color available to Lannister crimson. Because winter is coming, of course.

    She’s a proud mother (and sister). Put her family love on display with this Family Keepsake Quilt ($89.95). Clear photo pockets allow her to customize this embroidered family tree quilt with her many prides and joy, and a family name — or motto? — can be added for an additional charge.

    She’s not one for the cloistered life, but this 24k gold overlay Mustard Herb necklace ($110) from the Met Store’s Cloisters-inspired line is delicate enough for even the worldliest of queens.

    Embroidery lessons are for little girls. When Mom’s ready to embrace her inner warrior, she’ll treasure this collector’s edition of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” ($14.50), complete with two translations — one straightforward, one annotated with original critical commentary by definitive English translator Lionel Giles.

    Maybe it’s poison, maybe it’s a bold cabernet. A skilled hostess never tells. The sleek teardrop shape of this oval wine carafe with oak sphere stop ($36) allows for perfect aeration — so important for those afternoon heart-to-heart talks.

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    Kyle Timmons — from “Win/Win” (the troubled young prodigy)

    Light up his early winter morning workouts and late-night practice with a solar-powered illuminating water bottle ($34) made from BPA-free plastic and LED lights.

    A winning season means away matches and tournaments. It’s time he graduated from the plastic baggie for his toothbrush. Made from repurposed mountain bike tires, this machine-washable travel dopp kit ($29) can take a beating, just like his opponents.

    He might as well have them surgically implanted, but until that day, the Rusty Wired sweat shirt ($49.50) lets him have his hoodie and his music in one zip. The built-in earphones are machine-washable, which his appointed guardian will appreciate.

    The indestructible, 100 percent recycled plastic Jimi Wallet ($15) keeps his cash and ID safe, won’t be mistaken for a grandpa billfold, and won’t fall apart when he puts it through the wash.

    He can take you down in a fight, but he’s still a kid in so many ways. Remind him of what screens used to look like with the Etch-a-Sketch iPhone case ($25).

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    Prue McKeel — from Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis’ “Wildwood” (the cool sister)

    A daydreaming girl goes on a quest to rescue her stolen baby brother. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The two-disc anniversary DVD of Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” ($5.99) is must-see film for any budding adventurer.

    What self-respecting Portland kid wouldn’t want Wild Flag’s eponymous debut album? Vinyl, please. Throw in a show poster ($44.07 for both) for bonus cool-aunt points.

    She’s a girl on the go. The Crosley Keepsake USB record player ($149) is a three-speed turntable in a handy carrying case and a portable vinyl-to-mp3 converter for when she has to travel light.

    Smartphones and GPS don’t work in the Impassable Wilderness, but a well-made compass ($99.95) will guide her for years to come. Styled like an old-fashioned pocket watch, the interior features a world map for planning future quests.

    Lomography’s La Sardina El Capitan ($99) 35-mm wide-angle lens with Fritz the Blitz flash will make documenting uncharted lands and waters a breeze.

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    Ray Hueston — from “Bored to Death” (the adult slacker)

    The new anthology “Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915” ($125) will bring him back to the turn of the previous century, when color printing first made gorgeous comics available for the masses. Fans of Winsor McKay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland” will love meeting, in their original size and color, old-school fantasy strips like Henry Grant Dart’s “The Explorigator.”

    Whether he’s a new dad or just underemployed and bored, “Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)” ($18.99) is full of great ideas for slow days at home.

    Video games don’t have to be garish or gross. In “Limbo” ($26.40 for XBOX 360, part of a set), the haunting, monochromatic debut from Danish designers Playdead, a young boy must rescue his sister from a forest on the edge of hell. Styled with monochromatic, film-grain effects and ambient music, “Limbo” is more art-house than arcade.

    His girlfriend will hate it. This leather beer-bottle holster ($29.95) is perfect for tailgating the new Transformers movie or reenacting key scenes from “Tombstone.”

    Three words: Boba Fett Hoodie ($59.99). It’ll kill at Comic Con.

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    Daryl Dixon — from “The Walking Dead” (the survivalist)

    He should have a decent set of steak knives to eat that buck he brought down. Laugiole might be French, but they’re the best. This handsome set ($199) features olive wood handles and the signature curve of the polished, rust-resistant stainless-steel Laugiole blade.

    If a man’s going to wear rings, they ought to be functional. These stainless steel bottle opener rings look like a fashion statement but will make him the hero of the campfire. $9 for a set of two (one for each hand).

    Indulge his inner caveman with a subscription to PaleoPax ($20/month), a jelly-of-the-month snacks club for Paleo dieters.

    Tuck a roll of camouflage duct tape ($12.69) into his toolbox for emergencies.

    That ratty kazoo isn’t cutting it anymore. The Primos Classic wood duck call ($14.99) is beautiful and irresistible to the (delicious) wildwood drake.

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    Carrie Mathison — from “Homeland” (the mysterious woman)

    She’ll love snuggling up on the couch to watch illegal surveillance footage in this luxurious cashmere tank top and short set ($149.95).

    So she’s a little hard to handle at times. She’s working on it. Help her along with a three-book etiquette set from Kate Spade ($60) that covers “Manners,” “Occasions” and “Style.” She’s a quick study.

    Her fridge is a disgrace. Harry and David’s Bear Creek Gift Box ($59.95) is filled with fresh fruit, cheese and snacks to help her keep up her strength so she can save the world.

    She’ll stay stylish on the stakeout with Rag & Bone’s wide-brim fedora ($150) in incognito navy wool felt with a grosgrain bow.

    The brass Slowpoke Nutcracker ($14) — maybe it’s a whimsical kitchen utensil, maybe it’s an interrogation tool. We’ll never tell.

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    Gil Pender — from Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (the budding literati)

    Drink in the Belle Epoque at home with these absinthe bistro saucers ($9 each), replicas of the dishes Paris barkeeps used to serve drinks and keep track of the tab.

    He’ll fall in love with the understated vintage romance of Field Notes notebooks. Start him with the Kit ($44.95), featuring steno books, an actual paper calendar, mini-notebooks, pencils and more.

    He loves it when you call him Big Papa. The Hemingway Cap ($59) is a Lost Generation classic.

    If he’s going to expatriate, he’ll need to practice his petanque game. This polished alloy boule set ($49.99) and handled case is the only carry-on luggage he’ll need.

    Larger than contemporary boards and twice as beautiful, the vintage Scrabble Giant Set ($279) will take its rightful place in the center of his office.

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    Henry Skrimshander — from Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding” (the fantasy baseball nerd)

    Poet Dan Beachy-Quick’s “A Whaler’s Dictionary” ($20) is a highly personal, cross-referenced, wildly associative reader’s guide to Melville’s “Moby-Dick” and a meditation on myth and the self.

    Go Harpooners! Subvert the expected college tie with Zombie Whale in skinny navy silk ($68).

    Authentic MLB baseballs gave their lives for these sterling-silver cuff links ($170) from Bergino.

    The Brooks Brothers non-iron French cuff shirt ($49.50) is the perfect canvas to show them off.

    E-readers are great, but they lack the romance of the page. Disguise his digital gear with a classic analog Moleskine cover (prices vary depending on device).

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    Annie Fang — from Kevin Wilson’s “The Family Fang” (the daughter of crazy parents)

    Her family is crazy. She is not alone. Fangs, meet the Tenenbaums. The Criterion Collection two-disc DVD set ($23.99) includes a fold-out map of 111 Archer Avenue as drawn by Richie, whose talent as an artist never blossomed.

    You always thought she should write herself a fabulous part. Let her know with Syd Field’s excellent “Screenplay: the Foundations of Screen Writing” ($12.98). She certainly has enough material.

    Every strange girl can reinvent herself with a ukulele. It is not for us to argue. This customizable kit ($40) will put her back in control of her image.

    It’s time for her to make new memories. Suggest the Gobel traditional finish madeleine pan ($16.95).

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    Annie Walker — from Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids” (the single woman)

    A little taste of luxury will keep her going through a tough year. Birchbox ($10/month) will deliver a sweet little package of high-end beauty product samples every month.

    She can hold on for one more day to the Lilly pleated clutch ($78) by Danielle Nicole. It’s a little sparkly, a little off-kilter — just like her.

    Bad boys are so last year. Give her a new daydream (or 12) with the Nice Jewish Guys 2012 calendar ($16).

    During rough flights and after long nights, Kate Spade’s No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn eye mask ($8) will help calm her down.

    Miranda July chronicles her adventures in PennySaving and provides a little inspiration for anyone feeling overwhelmed in “It Chooses You,” ($20) a collection of essays from McSweeney’s.

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    Madeleine Hanna — from Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Marriage Plot” (the Ivy League graduate everyone loves)

    It’s time to replace her old book bag, and you can’t go wrong with a Cambridge Satchel Co. classic (UK 74). Each satchel is handmade to order of fine English leather with Victorian reserve.

    She knows her Jane Austen backward, but she’s never seen “Emma” like this. The Penguin Threads paperback edition ($9.63) features a sculpt-embossed cover of Jillian Tamaki’s evocative needlework design.

    These Hunter wedge wellies ($175) put a modern spin on a British classic and are perfect for tromping around the Cape.

    Add these cable-knit over-the-knee socks ($14) for warmth and speed.

    Was this Recycled Vinyl Cameo ($56) made from an old Joe Jackson LP? Talking Heads? Let her finish the story.

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    April Ludgate — from “Parks and Recreation” (the rising intern)

    She may be just the assistant, but I think we all know who’s in charge. Help her send a daily reminder with the Fisticuffs! Brass Knuckles Coffee Mug ($14.99).

    If she’s going to come in to work hung over, at least she can hide it in style with an oversize pair of House of Harlow 1960 Robyn shades ($138).

    Chuao Chocolatier’s Firecracker bars ($9.95) — dark chocolate chipotle bars studded with Pop Rocks — will keep her from complaining that the break-room snacks suck.

    You’ll look the other way while she reblogs on company time, she’ll text you from across the room to get you out of boring meetings. BDG magic texting gloves ($14) are a win/win.

    You’ve seen her flagging for Regretsy. Encourage her gift with this beautiful wool artist’s attache case ($398) and supply set, because you know she doesn’t want to be your intern forever.

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    Hesher — from Spencer Susser’s “Hesher” (the guy with everything)

    He’s an agent of chaos, yet a gentleman and a scholar. He’ll need this new collection of global metal studies, “Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World” ($18.37).

    Do you want him to fix the pirated cable or not? The multipurpose, corrosion-resistant Pirhana Pocket Tool ($35) fits in his pocket for emergencies.

    Rammstein’s “Made In Germany” five-disc CD and DVD box set ($143.99) is pretty much the Holy Grail for fans of umlauted Neue Deutsche Härte bands.

    He lives in his van. He’s going to need a versatile power source. This portable micro-power inverter has a ($19.99) USB port and a DC plug converter.

    You know it when you see it, and so does he. “Private Collection: a History of Erotic Photography (1850-1940)” ($67.49) will give him the historical perspective his porn habit desperately needs.