Our Columnist Gives Thanks to Media -- and Gives 'Weeds' to You

Here's Your Chance to Win the Stuff Media Guy Loves (Please Read Tedious Caveats Before Entering)

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Brace yourself: In recognition of a certain upcoming holiday, I'm offering 100% sincere, snark-free thanks for some of my favorite media products of the year (so far). And because I'm especially thankful to you, dear readers, I'm giving away copies of everything listed below to randomly selected readers.
Cassette courtship: Memoir recalls a music-filled relationship and a world without iPods.
Cassette courtship: Memoir recalls a music-filled relationship and a world without iPods.
(See tedious caveats at the end of the column.) Incidentally, in the nostalgic spirit of the holidays -- and because I know I tend to overemphasize new media in this column -- I'm focusing herewith only on old-media stuff, thank you very much.

'Then We Came to the End'
I was an early supporter of this novel -- upon its publication in the spring I ran a Q&A with author Joshua Ferris in this column -- so I was very gratified when critical adulation followed. (Most notably, it ended up being one of the five National Book Award fiction finalists.) Set in a foundering advertising agency during the dot-com-bust days, "Then We Came to the End" is in the vein of "The Office" in that it's a very dryly funny look at cubicle culture. Totally spot on in its observations about ad-industry insanity (and inanity), this first novel is also deeply wise and compassionate about human nature. (For your chance at one of two free copies, e-mail me -- [email protected] -- by midnight EST on Nov. 30. Please put "Then We Came to the End" in the subject line.)

Showtime's 'Weeds'
Sensing opportunity after reading my recent column in which I was improbably kind to HBO, the VP of corporate PR at HBO competitor Showtime, Stu Zakim, sent over a care package of Showtime DVD screeners. Which is how I belatedly came to grow addicted to "Weeds," the cult series about (improbably) a suburban California drug-dealer mom played (brilliantly) by Mary-Louise Parker. I'll confess that I've been resistant to the show precisely because of all the hype, but turns out it's been every bit deserved. It's a sad, funny, nerve-wracking, entirely original and frequently flat-out great deconstruction of the suburban American id. And the just-wrapped third season, especially, has been devastatingly effective. (For your chance at one of two second-season "Weeds" DVD box sets, along with full-season box sets of fellow Showtime series "Sleeper Cell" and "Brotherhood," e-mail me by midnight EST on Nov. 30. Please put "Weeds" in the subject line.)

'Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design'
You expect a book about design/culture to be all about the visuals. Refreshingly, this text-heavy book by legendary graphic designer Michael Bierut (of the also legendary global design conglomerate Pentagram) is all about the words -- and ideas. (The only precious thing about it: Each essay is set in a different typeface.) I was rewarded every time I dipped into this elegant, thoughtful compilation of stand-alone essays, many adopted from the "Design Observer" blog, particularly whenever Bierut plumbed the depths of the creative ego ("I Am a Plagiarist," "How to Become Famous"). (For your chance at one of two free copies, e-mail me by midnight EST on Nov. 30. Please put "79" in the subject line.)

With its alphabetical, starkly shot visual lists of all kinds of stylish stuff -- men's sneakers, watches, jeans, T-shirts, etc. -- Antenna magazine transcends the "shopping guide" genre to function as a sort of street-smart design museum on paper. Straying far beyond fashion, this launch title from Harris Publications cleverly includes all kinds of unexpected run-of-the-mill consumer items -- drugstore painkillers, office supplies, toothbrushes -- and presents them in the same deadpan, gallery-like display, which makes the magazine as much a critique as a celebration of consumer culture. The second issue, just out, is even better than the first, which was a Media Guy "Pop Pick" this summer. (For your chance at one of two four-issue subscriptions to Antenna, e-mail me by midnight EST on November 30th. Please put "Antenna" in the subject line.)

'Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time'
Remember analog music, recorded onto cassette tapes? Specifically, mix tapes? This memoir by Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield recalls his music-obsessed, mix-tape-making courtship with and marriage to his wife Renee, who died of a pulmonary embolism in 1997. The book is short, sweet, heartbreaking -- and, in its own idiosyncratic way, a love letter to music culture before the Age of the iPod. (For your chance at one of two free copies of this book, e-mail me by midnight EST on Nov. 30. Please put "Love Is a Mix Tape" in the subject line.)

TEDIOUS CAVEATS: You're not eligible if you're a friend or family member or colleague or my dentist. Some of the items that I'm giving away I've purchased myself; others have been kindly supplied by the publishers (or network). You must have a valid U.S. mailing address -- which I'll request from you by e-mail should you happen to be selected in one of my random drawings -- mainly because I don't want to be mailing stuff overseas. Obviously, no purchase is necessary, though you must have an e-mail account in order to participate. I'll print the names of the winners sometime in December.
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