“Angels we have heard on high, tell us to go out and buy.”

Christmas approacheth, and the e-mails keep coming: Jeff, what should I get for the medievalist in my life?

Come on, people; shopping for medievalists is easy. Here are some ideas for unusual presents, all of which will be more gratefully received than those Medieval Times gift certificates you got for everybody last year.

Tired of people defending the Beowulf movie by arguing that medieval texts are inherently unfilmable? Then hit them, literally, with this: the Icelandic film adaptation of Gisli’s Saga on VHS. (While you’re ordering across the whale-road, why not snag some soda named after Egil Skallagrimsson?)

Men and women of academia, I ask ye: of what use be tenure if it alloweth ye not to herald your arrival in the classroom?

GPS? iPhone? Mere playthings, by Jove! You calculate your own latitude with a noctural, you predict the sunset with your own lovely astrolabe, and then you blow your bosun’s whistle, just because you can.

Let fly the yams! Check out these fully functioning DIY tabletop replicas of a trebuchet, a catapult, and a ballista.

You just know that everyone gets these for R. Howard Bloch, and they all think they’re so clever, and it stinks to be him, because he of all people can’t possibly re-gift pillows, cushions, and curtains based on the Bayeux Tapestry.

If your child’s reenactments of the Fourth Lateran Council with R2-D2 and Spider-Man on a dune buggy don’t feel sufficiently reverent, then you’re in luck: get thyself a Pope Innocent III action figure.

But before your kids order their teddy bears to recapture the Holy Land, make sure those benighted bee-wolves are wearing hand-forged miniature helmets. Ursus lo volt! (Just be careful what you name them if they go native.)

From the “Nightmares of Jennifer Lynn Jordan” Collection comes this enchanting clash of the titans: the Unicorn vs. Narwhal Playset. (My money’s on the narwhal. Nothing escapes its vengeful horn.)

But perhaps you’re thinking bigger than toys and trinkets. If you can trust a Web site that looks like it was designed on a Commodore 64, then why not buy yourself a castle? You can fill it full of fiber-optic flying unicorns that sing “On the Wings of Love” by Jeffrey Osborne.

(No, you can’t have mine. I need it to protect me from the narwhals.)

2 thoughts on ““Angels we have heard on high, tell us to go out and buy.”

  1. Jeff,

    I nearly did a spit take when I saw this post’s title.

    One year I gave my father the complete Tom Lehrer collection on CD and he was deliriously happy.

    And, I must admit that when I sat on a park bench at the Place des Vosges the song “Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park” ran through my head as dozens of those winged creatures surrounded me hoping for crumbs to fall.



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