The Walt Disney Co. paid $4 billion for the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise, and now it wants the Force to make good on its investment.
So when you see “Star Wars” bottled water at Food 4 Less, a “Star Wars” crochet kit at Michaels or “Star Wars” multi-vitamin gummies at CVS, understand that it’s not just to promote “The Force Awakens” — which, you might have heard, opens this month. Since the merchandizing blitz does include some fun items, we’ve included a couple things from that galaxy far, far away in this year’s holiday entertainment gift guide. Yet we know that not everyone knows the difference between a wookiee and a gamorrean. So our recommendations include plenty of non-“Star Wars” gift ideas:
“The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki” on Blu-Ray
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Price: retails at $215
Speaking of Walt Disney, Miyazaki has been compared to the famous animator. Born in Tokyo the month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his anime films often feature anti-war themes. The films also feature gorgeous backgrounds, mystical creatures and settings that recall bygone eras.
While anime still has underground appeal in America, mainstream animation shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Bob’s Burgers” have offered subtle homages to Miyazaki’s work. This set features all 11 Miyazaki movies, including “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” with art books, interviews and other features.
Miroir Micro Projector MP60
Price: retails at $300
Where: Best Buy, San Luis Obispo
This device can project movies, videos and photos on the side of a house or a garage door, yet it’s small enough to stick in your pocket. Popular for business presentations, micro projectors can also give you a theater experience in your home. You can use it to view your own creations or connect it to watch YouTube videos and streaming movies on Netflix and Hulu.
“Mark Twain Tonight!”
When: Jan. 9, Cal Poly
Remarkably, actor Hal Holbrook has been performing his one-man show about America’s most famous author since 1954. Holbrook has kept the show fresh by mixing up the performances, but Twain is always Twain. “I don’t have to modernize Mark Twain,” he told the New York Times in 2001. “There are just as many idiots today as there were 100 years ago.” Now 90, Holbrook has easily outlived Twain, who once wrote, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”
Chewbacca adult onesie
Where: Target, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo
Why should kids have all the fun dressing up? With this Chewbacca hooded onesie, you can be a wookiee in the comfort of your own home. Ever since Target kicked off its “Star Wars” campaign in August, the stores have been teeming with “Star Wars” products — everything from vintage shirts and Legos to cereal, snow globes and salt shakers.
Samsung 120-watt soundbar with subwoofer
Price: retails at $148
Where: Kmart, Atascadero and Arroyo Grande
Remember the old days (a couple of years ago, really) when your home sound system came with several speakers and wires that cluttered your living room like a jumble of spilled spaghetti noodles? Well, now you can get that cinematic audio experience without the mess. You can find a soundbar at any large chain or local audio store. And once you do, those action movie explosions will have all the thunder they need to enhance your experience.
Robert Cray in concert
Where: Jan. 29, Chumash Casino
Cray, who lives on the Central Coast, is known for his blues guitar skills, but this guy can sing. Cray has been around a while — he had a bit part in the 1978 movie “Animal House” — and his biggest success came after he released his 1986 album “Strong Persuader.” But his more recent albums prove he hasn’t lost his songwriting touch. If you haven’t seen Cray, who has performed at the Avila Blues Fest and the Chumash, trust us — 20 bucks is a steal.
Price: retails at $13
Where: Cheap Thrills Records, San Luis Obispo
Sales of CDs now are less than half what they were 15 years ago. But Adele proved the industry wasn’t dead by selling a whopping 3.5 million copies of her new album in one week. According to Billboard, that easily shattered the previous record. Here the 27-year-old Londoner with the big pipes ruminates on life after a quarter century in an album heavy on piano ballads. Other new music offerings include a David Bowie box set and ELO’s “Alone in the Universe.”
“The Beatles 1/1+”
Where: Boo Boo Records, San Luis Obispo
For true Beatles fans, the release of the 2000 compilation “Beatles 1” didn’t offer anything new. After all, what serious Beatles fan didn’t already have their 27 most popular songs? But this package includes an additional 50 promotional films and performances, including one for each of the 27 songs. While the advent of music videos is usually associated with MTV in the ’80s, the Fab Four was combining film and music long before, as evidenced by the surreal film for “Strawberry Fields” or the performance video for “Hello Goodbye,” which features the Beatles donning their Sgt. Pepper gear and lip synching.
Price: $15 a month
We spend so much time in our cars, it’s nice to have something good to listen to. The basic Sirius package, with 140 channels, offers scores of music stations, comedians, Howard Stern and every NFL game. Music channels include stations dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead and Jimmy Buffet.
Music Motive’s Rock Lab
Price: $60-75 a month
Where: San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles
This “band coaching” program assembles students in a group with the ultimate goal of performing gigs in public. Kids and adults are assembled by age. Bands will collectively create a set list they will learn with the help of Music Motive instructors.
“Star Wars Battlefront” for Xbox One or PS4
Where: GameStop, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles
When you’re finished watching the latest “Star Wars” installment, you can get further lost in the fantasy at home. In the latest “Star Wars” game, players can control characters from the films, including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader, traversing various planets, including Tatooine, Hoth and Endor. Visually, the game is stunning, and players can easily switch from first to third person. Just remember to use the Force.
“Sick in the Head” by Judd Apatow
Where: Barnes & Noble, San Luis Obispo
Apatow, known for side-splitting movies like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” has long been a comedy nerd. As a teenager, he had a radio show featuring interviews with some of his favorite comedians. Thirty years later, he continues those interviews in a book that features conversations with comics like Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Steve Martin and Jon Stewart. Newsweek calls it a Bible for fans of stand-up comedy.
Where: The Sub, San Luis Obispo
For the high school or college student (or the young-at-heart middle-aged guy), nothing ties a room together like a movie or concert poster. Although posters are readily available at chain stores, the Sub in San Luis Obispo has a large collection — everything from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to “Scarface” to “Reefer Madness.”