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BEST OF 2006 / GIFTS

Last-minute inspirations

December 17, 2006

If your holiday shopping is already done, congratulations. If not, consider this collection of stocking stuffers, selected by the arts and pop staffs. The criteria: whimsy (thus, the bowler), utility (who can't get some mileage from another set of earbuds) and beauty (see: 17th century maps of the stars). We'll leave the art of matching object and recipient to you.

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Just because it's a stocking stuffer doesn't mean it has to be stuff. How about an urban experience: A 90-minute walking tour of contemporary downtown. Or historic downtown. Or "behind-the-scenes" Hollywood. Tours run daily. Reservations required.

Red Line Tours, $20 for an "open" gift certificate that allows the recipient to pick a tour. www.redlinetours.com or (323) 402-1074.

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Frank Gehry's design for the Walt Disney Concert Hall, ready to dangle from the tree.

$19.95, L.A. Philharmonic gift shop, 131 N. Grand Ave.

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And I am telling you -- this two-disc CD features the movie's 36 songs,

including Beyonce Knowles' "I'm Somebody," plus a lyric and photo

booklet. And why not check out the Broadway cast recording, featuring Jennifer Holliday as the original Effie.

$24.98, "Dreamgirls: Music From the Motion Picture," deluxe edition; $18.98, "Dreamgirls," Broadway cast recording.

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Isn't it grand? Isn't it great?

A new box set of the classic from John Kander and Fred Ebb.

$34.98, Chicago 10th anniversary CD/DVD box set.

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You're sure to be popular with a "Wicked" "Defying Gravity" T-shirt, $32; baseball cap, $22; and a "Wicked: The Grimmerie" book, $40.

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The perfect stuffer for the cultured classes. These buk booklets feature essays, short stories, pictures and poems by or about architects, artists, actors, composers, critics and other creative types.

$1.49 each or $11.95 a set, www.bukamerica.com.

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For the friend who's having a Surrealist moment: a bowler hat straight out of a Magritte. $36, Los Angeles County Museum of Art gift shop.

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So maybe it's not an iPod, but it's just as portable. These mini-music boxes play melodies from "Nutcracker" Suite.

$10.95, L.A. Philharmonic gift shop, 131 N. Grand Ave.

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Photographer John Deane has captured stunning images of members of the Martha Graham Dance Company. "Acts of Light" (University Press of Florida) combines those portraits with text by Nan Deane Cano. $39.95.

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Three words: Composer. Action. Figures. Choose and pose Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Chopin.

$5.95, L.A. Philharmonic gift shop,

131 N. Grand Ave.

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Put on your favorite Los Angeles Philharmonic CD and do a little Esa-Pekka Salonen-style baton twirling.

$19.95, L.A. Philharmonic gift shop,

131 N. Grand Ave.

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Life wasn't easy in ancient Egypt. Learn why in "You Wouldn't Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy! Disgusting Things You'd Rather Not Know" by David Stewart with illustrations by David Antram (Franklin Watts).

$9.95, Bowers Museum store.

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Got a music fan interested in actually hearing the music stored on his or her iPod? Get them a pair of Sennheiser CX-300 earbuds, which offer sound quality light-years beyond the standard-issue iPod buds (and those aren't bad).

List price: about $80; $45 to $60 at electronics discounters, $30 to $35 on EBay on a good day.

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For the star lover with a big stocking: The "Harmonia Macrocosmica," first

published in 1660, is a collection of embellished celestial maps by Dutch-German cosmographer Andreas Cellarius. Taschen's stunning 12.6-by-20.9-inch re-creation unfolds entire worlds in which to get lost.

$125, www.taschen.com.

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