Layton: My Favorite Things, sans Oprah

By Kieran Layton

During the kick-off to the winter holiday season every year since 2002, talk show favorite Oprah… During the kick-off to the winter holiday season every year since 2002, talk show favorite Oprah bestows upon the masses her “Favorite Things” on an episode of her show, subsequently inciting widespread consumer riots of people who want to feel one degree closer to the media goddess.

This year, however, producers chose to yank the popular episode from the lineup, stating that, “For the past couple years, it just wasn’t feeling right, so we didn’t do ‘Favorite Things’ as part of our lineup.”

Housewives around the country, I feel your pain.

So to fill this empty chasm of media-driven product endorsement, I hereby dedicate this column to “Kieran’s Favorite Things.” Original, right?

Now, I know that I don’t have a scandal-plagued, all-girl’s school in South Africa, a borderline creepy relationship with Tyler Perry or a multi-billion dollar media empire, but I hope you will grant me the same respect and adoration that you typically reserve for the big O. If she can do it, so can I, right?

“Under the Dome” by Stephen King

I am a self-proclaimed King fanatic, and the latest novel from the Master of Horror promises to be the literary highlight of my Christmas break. Coming in at more than 1,000 pages, the “Stand”-like epic tells the story of a town that suddenly finds itself closed off from the world by a giant invisible dome. No one can get in; no one can get out. I have only read the first 30 pages (3 percent!), but the novel already promises to include the King brand of character build up and sociological intrigue that you can find only in his best work.

“Nine” Trailer

This Rob Marshall-directed musical opens on Christmas Day, but I’vealready watched the trailer more times than I’veseen his last musical, “Chicago.” The musical itself is a personal favorite, but the uber-sexy cast — Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis and Fergie, to name a few — makes me tingle with anticipation. Plus, who knew Hudson could sing (albeit with the help of professional sound editors)? I see a screening of the film on Monday, but hopefully this will be one that I see multiple times over the holiday break.

Three Olives Bubble Vodka

Sure, the idea of pairing vodka (or any alcohol) with bubblegum flavor initially induces gagging, and I was certainly a skeptic at first. But after one smooth shot and a mixed drink comprising the vodka, Sprite and cranberry juice, I was hooked. It’s fun and original, and at $17.99 for a 750 mL bottle at the Atwood Street liquorstore, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to start a fun night out.

Discovering new favorite TV shows via TV-on-DVD and Netflix

Everyone has heard of shows that friends constantly rave about, yet they never started watching them, and two or three seasons in, they feel like it isn’t worth it anymore. For me, it was “Californication” and “Friday Night Lights.” But thanks to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” feature, I have been able to catch up — and become addicted to — these shows, and I am now scrambling to discover new potential favorites. You don’t use Netflix? The holiday season is the perfect time to stock up on absurdly cheap TV-on-DVD sets, and winter break is the perfect time to waste countless hours absorbing some great television.

The Shadyside bar crawl

Come December, the Oakland bar scene gets very repetitive. The South Side bar crawl, while always including new and exciting bars, grows tiresome because no matter what new bar you go to, it will likely be overcrowded, and you could encounter promiscuous girls and d**chebags. Enter the Shadyside bar crawl: You have a classier (and less prominent) crowd, more variety in the types of available bars and a cheaper cab ride home than one from the South Side. Try Shady Grove for a more upscale spot to scope out potential hook-ups, William Penn Tavern for the Peter’s Pub-type experience or 5801 for a night out with your gay friends. Or try all of them in one night — either way, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

OhMiBod LoveBuckle

It seems like an extremely straightforward concept — pairing a genuine leather belt with a buckle that displays a condom through a clear plastic screen. But when you actually wear the belt, you feel not only like a walking sex-on-a-stick (because you kind of are), but also like the most fashionable safe-sex advocate on campus. The belt comes in black and hot pink, and includes the insanely cool ONE condoms — stylish prophylactics with round packaging any hipster would be proud of.

Pre-holiday vacations

Spring break trips to the beach are overrated — too many drunk college students with poor judgment and even worse venereal diseases. That’s why this year, I will be going on my annual beach trip the week before Christmas with two close friends, not hundreds of total strangers. After the stress of finals and before the stress of spending the holidays with the family, there is nothing better than unwinding on a beach or in a ski lodge, tucked away from the world for a week of pure relaxation. It may not be as warm in Florida as it would be in March, but with cheaper rates and fewer crowds, I think I’ll be just fine.

These are just a few of my Favorite Things. Others include, but are not limited to: Lady Gaga’s “The Fame Monster,” and specifically the track “Telephone;” discovering that it’s okay to both be on Team Edward and Team Jacob (as long as you’re not on Team Bella); having Google Wave but having no idea what to do with it; “Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Series” box set; “Party Down” — the funniest show you’ve never heard of; The Hideout bar in South Oakland; and planning to have a spontaneous New Year’s Eve.

What are some of your favorite things this holiday season? Let Kieran know at [email protected]