It's that time of the year, a few days until Christmas and you bought everything on that Amazon wishlist but it doesn't feel all that creative. If you are like me, masks everywhere can be a bit of a downer, so you want things you can order. These are not what I like to call "aspirational" gifts, the kinds of things parents want their children to want in order to feel like better parents. They are all good, I have watched, read, or used them all this year, so they aren't yet another 'how to make a piece of paper turn using flame' experiment science, they are actually enjoyable science. And technology. And science-fiction.

The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes - The universe is collapsing and a ragtag bunch all with secret pasts is trying to outrun it and outsmart it. Think "Game of Thrones" except a much faster pace. If you are like me, you may have trouble keeping some of the characters separate but you want this for the excellent plotting.



Ullo wine aerator and sediment remover - the one I got for review not only aerates wine and removes any sediment, but it also does 'instant chill.' Basically, you keep it in the freezer and when you pour the wine through, your actual room temperature wine becomes the "room temperature" recommendation based on basements in France - about 60 degrees. The science behind it is pretty easy. It's instead engineering. A Chemex pourover coffee beaker works because it is designed well, and Ullo has the same care. It also gives you something to talk about while using it.

Chewing gum - It's not a stocking without some sort of treat inside and I have never been much for chocolate, while a small bag of chips isn't going to last very long. A pack of gum, though, will last a few days to a week. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were looking for ways to mitigate risk. While some of it was hygiene theater - wiping down every surface, wearing masks outside - others are both less intrusive and offer more specific benefit. Since  SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the salivary glands, stopping if there makes some sense. A recent study even added the ACE2 protein to gum and it reduced the amount of virus detected.



Chewing gum has been correlated to less stress, better dental health, and even to better grades. Obviously that may just be correlation, smart people chew gum, chewing gum may not make people smarter. But if smart people chew gum, it's not a bad idea to emulate it. That may not work. When I was young I was told to 'dress for the job you want' and NASA never called me up no matter how much I dressed as an astronaut.

I don't know how to pick chewing gum for someone else, I am no miracle worker.

Free Guy - This movie had more heart than every other film this year. Yes, Spider-Man: No Way Home was a blast, but it was a lot of fan service and not everyone is a fan of superhero films. I can't imagine how anyone could dislike "Free Guy." And you can't buy the new Spidey film yet anyway. If you did not watch "Killing Eve" and therefore become a Jodie Comer convert, this will do it.



Y, The Last Man - you don't have to buy the comics, you can get it as a graphic novel, and you will love it. 


Comic books are increasingly being recognized as art, and they should be, modern comics sell terrible compared to 25 years ago but the quality is better than ever. Sometimes I take to social media to celebrate when a master class is being put on in an issue, like with the art of Pepe Larraz in "Uncanny Avengers" or the writing of Tom King in Batman #21.





I know, I know, the former had a writer and the latter had an artist, but the sun don't shine on the same dog's butt all of the time.

Y, The Last Man is pure storytelling. No superheroes, just a biological and immunological mystery - why all the males died. Except this guy whose complex name starts with Y. And Y is a chromosome. Anyway, you will learn things and never realize it. It simultaneously praises and criticizes every demographic, which means it is not wrapping itself in any partisan flag, and we need more of that in 2022.