It's less than a week until Christmas. The weekend has come and gone. You have bought nothing, and are panicked. Listen: I understand, and I can help, as long as you follow this simple rule. There is no problem in life that cannot be fixed by throwing money at it. It works for the economy, it works for health care, and it can work for Christmas.
To help out you last-minute shoppers who can only salvage this season of giving through one last ostentatious display of consumerism, we have uncapped the amounts and unrestricted the category. Any gift, any price, anything to make your loved ones forgive you for a year of neglect and abuse. Happy X-Mas!
As with most nerds, I've laughed at the PS3 for years. Who can forget that it retailed at six hundred United States dollars?
Or that exclusive after exclusive turned out to be a bust? Remember
Lair? I didn't think so. Then even after HD-DVD died Blu-Ray movies
still didn't take off.
Well all of that has changed. The price is reasonable. The
exclusives are good: Uncharted 2, Little Big Planet, God of War 3.
Blu-Rays seem to have finally settled in and the catalog is expanding
reasonably quickly. If you had to pick one, I'd probably still go with
an Xbox, but I don't think most of our readers are hobos (Jesse's hair
Also, there's one trump card that makes it damn near impossible to
ignore: The Last Guardian. If you're wondering what the hell that is,
it's the upcoming game from the studio behind Ico and Shadow of the
Colossus. You're drooling now, totally understandable. Look at this trailer from E3,
and make sure you click the HD button. It's an early build, hopefully
they will rework the model for the kid since it looks like ass right
now. I don't even know what the gameplay is going to be, I guess you
ride around a giant flying rat and maybe solve puzzles? The one thing
I do know is that it'll be amazing. Also that the rat will end up
sacrificing itself for you at the end in a touching scene that will
make grown ass men cry like small children with skinned knees.
I read alot of advice columns. This time of year, a very common question is: I have a complicated relationship with my mother/father/step-father who raped me but I was kind of into it/baby mama's mama and I want to know what I should get this person for Christmas. Through a combination of copping out, wanting to look magnanimous, and not having any actual good ideas, the advice columnist will invariably say: make a charitable donation in their name!
Charitable donation in there name? In other words, nothing. You get nothing. Its the ultimate "fuck you" present. Hi, what did you get me for Christmas? Oh, I gave some strangers a bunch of money and said it was from you. Oh, that's great, but what did you get ME for Christmas. That WAS your Christmas present, FUCKER.
Alright, I know that everyone's purse strings are tight this
year.. but if you're like me, you listen to the This American Life
podcast every week. (If you don't, you should start. It's an amazing
radio program. I blogged about it before.)
The podcast is free, but the radio station still
has to pay to produce the show and cover bandwidth and web hosting
costs. According to host, and tall Jew, Ira Glass, if every podcast
listener donated a dollar it would more than cover the costs of the
bandwidth. So skip the Quad Venti 3-Pump Soy White Chocolate Peppermint
Mocha latte at Starbucks for one day and give the five bucks to Ira. Or
do like I did, get the latte anyway and give ten bucks to Ira.
Being mostly guys (the Suze isn't a guy, but swears like one), we could spend the entire week filling your stocking with nothing but video games, DVDs, and DVDs of movies based on video games. But maybe you have somebody in your life who wants something... actually, why don't I just let these guys say it for me?
In other words, maybe you have to buy a gift for a hobo who lives behind a Gap outlet.
You all know about the Snuggie. It's a blanket with sleeves. You
can pretty much get any copy of Snuggie you want. A Weezer snuggie, a
leopard print Snuggie, a Philadelphia Phillies snuggie. But why should
*you* be the only one in your house to enjoy the amazing comfort
provided by a blanket with sleeves?
Your dog deserves a Snuggie too. So get her a
Snuggie for Dogs! Available in blue or pink, and in multiple sizes, for
a little more than a Hamilton... this is a gift that even Aaron Burr
wouldn't deny his puppy. Get your puppy a Snuggy and you'll be loved
forever and ever. Don't? Your dog will hate you.
If you are anything like the unholy secularists here at the OC, you are tired of all the Jesus and preaching getting in the way of your holiday fun. Its time to fight the problem the only way we know how: by throwing money at it! To help you in your quest to put the X back into X-mas, we'll be suggesting gifts you can purchase for friends (or, even better, yourself) (or, even better better, ME). Today is part one, which is all about the Media.
I suggest the Disney/Pixar animated masterpiece, Up (combo pack that has additional
features, the Bluray version, the regular DVD version and even a
digital version that you can upload to your iphone or the like).
Sure--the previews that came out before the big screen release made it
seem like a terrible movie. And yes, it was originally released in 3D,
an experience you can't get at home. But should you watch it? Yes you
should (I think I just pulled a Mary Murphy where I ask a question and
proceed to answer it.)
I fucking love Christmas music. Next to the egg nog, the food, and the presents, it's the best thing about Christmas. Seriously. Christmas music is awesome. And I'm not talking about all the Jesus crap. The good, fun, Christmas music. I refuse to let the Christians take the fun out of my Christmas. I embrace the commercialism, the consumerism, and the drunken revelry for the holiday. Plus it's cool to give presents to people I care about. Even if they tell me not to.
This is one of the reasons that I was absolutely giddy when I saw that Weezer had cut a Christmas EP this year. Seriously, Weezer. Christmas music. How could that not be awesome?
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some, so bring some out here
That's right. Drunken carolers going around to rich people's houses, serenading the with song. What did they want in return? Some goddamned figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer (aka my Mother's egg nog).
In the words of Ira Glass: "[Christmas] was celebrated the way we celebrate New Year's Eve now. [...] Roving bands of toughs went from door to door, demanding drinks and making threats. There was riotous noise making, massive public drunkenness. You can understand why these rich guys just hated it."
Thank you Rivers Cuomo, for singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" with the enthusiasm that makes me believe that Weezer is actually a roving band of toughs.
And it doesn't stop with wonderfully rambunctious secular Christmas music. Tracks 2 through 6 of the EP are: O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, The First Noel, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and Silent Night.
Those are some goddamned religious Christmas songs. To be sung with reverence and solemnity.
Nobody let Weezer know this. They turn these downers into upbeat poppy/angry feel-good and drink some 100 proof egg nog fun songs. (Alright, Silent Night is still kind of downbeat, but I can't stop rawking out to Hark! and The First Noel.)
Christmas With Weezer is a digital-only album. It can be purchased from Amazon or iTunes for less than five dollars. It's awesome, and you should go buy it. You should go buy it right now. Because I want a "Part 2" next Christmas.
As you may have guessed, I'm typically a big fan of giving and receiving presents at Christmas. However, this year, Suzi and I are asking that you do not buy us anything. Please consider the following:
Suzi and I are spending a not insignificant amount of money on plane tickets to fly from Houston back to the Northeast to spend this Christmas with you. Therefore, we do not feel that we can take on the added expenditure of Christmas presents. So, if you buy us presents, we will have nothing for you. That will make us feel bad. Specifically, it will make the Suze feel terrible, and if the Suze feels terrible then we ALL feel terrible.
Houston is warm. Right now it is 70 degrees out. The Northeast is cold. Last I heard, it was actually a frozen hellscape of ice and snow and death. Therefore, we will be packing bulky sweaters, jackets, coats, hats, mittens, scarves, thermal underpants, boots, and possibly blankets. Also, we do not want to check our bags. Our bags will be completely full. There will be no room to pack the presents that you should not buy for me. I will have to leave them behind.
And, finally: the task of instructing all of you to not buy presents has been given to me by Suzi. If you buy us presents, it means that I have failed. Please do not make a failure out of me. The best present you can get me is to not get us presents.
You are panicked. There is only a week left to shop before Christmas, and none of our suggestions have been any good. The people on your list don't like media or clothes or charity. They are wild cards. How are you supposed to know what to get these people unless we help you?
Deep breath. Failure is not yet assured. You may have to dig a little deeper into your pocket, but that is the premium you must pay. Here are the gifts for the wild cards on your list - all for $300 or less.
Sometimes, because of familial, social, or professional obligations, you have to give gifts to people you hate. True, you could fight against the unfairness of these societal constraints, but ultimately this leads to a life spent in isolation in a lonely house in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with no working car while the bears root through your garbage. And nobody wants that. Instead, we here at ObscureCraft suggest that you go the passive-aggressive route: give a gift to charity in that person's name.
What are they gonna say? They have to say thank you, because giving to charity is The Right Thing To Do. But in the end, they didn't get fuck-all from you. Instead of being win-win, it is win-lose; but the win goes to you! So, here to help you help the world and stick it to that person on your Christmas list that you hate, are the ObscureCraft suggestions for passive-aggressive not-really-a-gift-at-all gifts to charity.
The ObscureCraft holiday shopping guide is back for part 2. Clothing is, by far, the hardest type of gift to buy. Entirely apart from questions of taste is the fact that I can hardly buy clothes that fit myself. How in the world am I supposed to buy clothes for you? And with girls it is doubly hard: if you buy something too big, they think that you think that they are fat. And if you buy something to small, well... then they actually are fat.
Thankfully, clothing isn't just Gap sweaters and 7 different pairs of jeans on one Christmas anymore (thanks mom!). Here to help you out are your ever-vigilant ObscureCraft contributors, who are on the lookout for the gifts that will Save Christmas(tm). As with part one, all gifts are $50 or less. (Surfing at work note: there is a picture of a sexy lady after the jump).
The spot: Christmas morning. A girl in a nightgown stands in her posh living room next to a pony with a bright red ribbon on it. The scene is painted in a slight sepia tone, giving you the impression of the past. The girl addresses the camera: "This is Dolly! Don't you remember how excited you were? Yelling so loud the neighbors came over?" Cut to the front door, where the neighbors enter, along with their own little girl. "Remember how jealous Ann Marie was?" the little girl asks with a sly grin on her face, as the neighbor girl drops her own pony doll in disbelief. Closeup of little girl's face: "Dolly was the bestest present ever. Nothing could ever be more..." match cut to face of grownup woman. "...Perfect." She completes the thought, now standing in front of a Lexus sedan with a large ribbon on it. The voice-over jumps in to tell us that we should make this a "December to Remember" by leasing the new Lexus RS-350 for only $399 a month.
The National Bureau of Economic Research released their findings yesterday that the United States economy is in a recession, and has been for the last 12 months. This comes as a shock to nobody who has paid attention to the news: the collapse of every major investment bank on Wall Street, the tightening of credit markets, the precipitous drop in the stock market, and the subsequent layoffs and cutbacks in the workforce have all been making daily headlines for the second half of 2008. The uncertainty in the job market, combined with the unavailability of credit, is predicted to have a devastating effect on the Christmas shopping season.
This time of year typically brings sales and financing deals at all retailers to entice buyers, but there is a desperation in the air that is new. On Black Friday, Jdimytai Damour, an employee at a Wal-Mart on Long Island, was killed when a throng of shoppers waiting in the parket lot shoved in the doors and trampled him to death on their way to discount merchendise. Two other people died in a gunfight in a Toys R Us store in Southern California.
But you know what? FUCK ALL YALL, BECAUSE I AM GETTING A LEXUS. Hey, let's invite the family of that WalMart employee over to my house so I can rub it in their face, just like I rubbed it in the face of that little girl when I got that pony. Remember that? When I got a motherfucking pony for Christmas? I was all like, "daddy, can I have a pony?" and he was all like, "of course you can, sweetheart, cause I want to make sure that you grow up to be a spoiled horrible woman. My dream is that, in a time when people will step on a brother to save $20 on a DVD player, you will have a husband who will drop 40 large on a car without even consulting you. Because you just have so much goddamn money, 40 large on a car is like, WHATEVS, baby."
Lexus holds a "December to Remember" sales event every year, and every year I've thought to myself, "Jesus Christ, are there really people in the world who buy each other luxury cars as presents?" But this ad finally explains it to me. I get it now. If you lived in a huge house with a stone fireplace and celebrated Christmas morning with a pony, then you get a Lexus. Otherwise, you have to trample immigrants to death on the way to the discount racks on Black Friday.
I love the holidays. For the past 5 years, Suzi and I have flown to Florida to have Thanksgiving with her family, and it is always a treat finally having a Senna woman cook for me. When we get back, I put some lights up in the window, and start getting into that holiday spirit. But in between, there is darkness and evil.
There is Black Friday.
The traditional start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is one of the worst days of the year. I hate going out to the stores, and I hate staying home and watching news stories about going out to the stores. The insanity that makes someone wake up at 4am to get a deal on a DVD player is the same insanity that leads to a Wal-Mart employee being trampled to death, and to a gun fight breaking out in a toy store. It is an ugly, ugly spectacle. And the ugliness lasts for over a month.
So, ObscureCraft is here to help. Instead of spending hours shopping for the perfect gift, why don't you just sit back, relax, have some egg nog, string up some lights, and bask in the non-shopping awesomeness of the season and leave the shopping to us.
I've asked our roster of ObscureCraft contributors to make gift suggestions. The first part covers media: that is books, DVDs, CDs, etc. All the suggestions are priced under $50, and can be purchased online. Enjoy!
Jesse suggests: The Watchmen, a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. ($11.99 at Amazon)
I'm going to go out on a limb, and guess that you know at least one nerd. (Actually, its a pretty safe bet that you yourself are a nerd, but I digress.) Unfortunately, chances are that the nerd in your life has already read The Watchmen, because it is a touchstone of the nerd world, like Star Wars and not kissing girls.
But here's the thing: even if you aren't a nerd, you still like Star Wars. Sure, you don't dress up like a storm trooper or know the name of Boba Fett's pet rat, but Star Wars was also #15 on the list of AFI's first 100 greatest films of the last 100 years list. Well, the Watchmen is like that: geek heaven, but also objectively awesome, as indicated by its place on Time Magazine's list of the 100 greatest novels of all time. So, if you know a nerd who somehow has missed reading this, show them you know what's up. And if you are a nerd, show the non-nerd in your life that just because nerds like it doesn't mean its not completely awesome.
Jim suggests: Assassination Vacation, a book by Sarah Vowell. ($11.20 at Amazon)
Asking me to recommend a single media item is like asking Michelle
Duggar to choose her favorite child. There are just so many choices.
I'm going back and forth between such old favorites as the Nic Cage
Wicker Man movie, the very-soon-to-be-released Criterion Blu-ray debut
(Chungking Express), and who knows what else.
That said, my choice is Assassination Vacation, a book
by Sarah Vowell. In the book, Vowell takes historical tourism to the
next level as she retraces the steps of the assassins of Abraham
Lincoln (John Wilkes Booth), James Garfield (Charles Giteau), and
William McKinley (Leon Czolgosz).
You'll find out about the multiple locations that
hold Lincoln's remains, how Oneida cookware is created by a strange
religious/sexual cult, and how that contributed to Garfield's death,
and about a possible romance between anarchist Emma Goldman and Leon
The book is a very quick read-- its tone is light
and funny, despite the dark subject manner. Assassination Vacation is
the perfect gift for friends and family. Assuming your friends and
family have a rather dark sense of humor, and are interested in history.
You know all those movies about how the nerdy kid beats out the douchebag jock and gets the attractive girl? In this version, the nerdy kid is the New York
"football" Giants, the douchebag jock is the New England Patriots, and
the supposedly attractive girl is the Vince Lombardy Trophy. There is
plenty of heavy-hitting, Tom Brady sacks, and several minutes of hot
ball-on-helmet action. I recommend that you watch this DVD before the
sequel comes out in February.
The Suze suggests: Season 1 of the Showtime series Dexter on DVD. ($28.99 at Amazon)
Bloody funny. That's how I describe Season 1 of Dexter, a Showtime
series. Our main character is Dexter Morgan (Michael
C. Hall). He happens to be a serial killer who's also very hot. The
catch: he only kills bad people. Murderers, rapists, pedophiles and other assorted bad guys meet their (what I consider a well-deserved)
demise with lots of duct tape, saran wrap, oh, and right--knifes. Not as
gruesome as you might think, Dexter is extremely witty and one of the
top three best-written shows I've ever had the pleasure of watching.
The first minute and a half of opening credits alone is enough to buy
the entire season. So buy it. Watch it. Take notes. It's very educating.
I love Christmas. There, I said it. I love it. I love putting up lights, and the presents, and singing the same goddamn songs every year. And I love that I get to enjoy it without all the going to church and believing in Jesus. Christmas for me is like eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream: all the fun and the flavor, none of the guilt!
But I do have sympathy for those of you that get a little tired of the same routine year in and year out, especially now that the routine starts around Labor Day. I get it - I don't want to talk about Christmas before Thanksgiving anymore than you do, but here we are. In fact, bitching about how early the Christmas season starts is one of my most treasured Christmas traditions. Here are my top five:
1. South Park's Christmas episodes. Specifically, the Mr. Hanky hosted Christmas specials with all the incredible music numbers. Cartman singing Silent Night. Hitler in hell, sobbing and singing O Tatenbaum in German. Mr. Mackey singing the Carol of the Bells. It is not Christmas until I hear "Hark hear the bells/Sweet silver bells/All seem to say/Ding dong mkay".
2. Watching people try to make it through the How the Grinch Stole Christmas drinking game. It has one rule: take a drink whenever the word "who" is used in any form (all the Who's *drink* down in Whoville *drink*). It's the alcoholic Christmas version of the gallon challenge.
3. Bitching about how early the Christmas season starts.
4. Putting up Christmas lights in my window, and then leaving them there until the tape wears out and they fall down or Suzi threatens me with a knife.
(I'm just kidding. Suzi would never threaten me with a knife. Suzi is all about blunt force trauma.)
5. The songs from A Colbert Christmas - The Greatest Gift Of All
That's right, after last night, my list as officially been re-written. Sorry, Miracle on 34th Street. Your plot never really made any sense anyway. Why does the post office keep all those bags of mail? Where do they store them? And why would they pay a dozen different mail carriers to bring junk mail to a courthouse? Isn't in the holiday season? I thought the post office was inundated with work! It makes no sense! Did you have the same writers as this season of Heroes?
A Colbert Christmas features musical performance from Colbert, Toby Keith, Feist, Elvis Costello, John Stewart, John Legend, and Willie Nelson. Any guesses who my favorite was?
Toby Keith singing "Have I Got a Present For You". How fantastic was it? After it was done, Suzi said: "I couldn't tell if that was a joke or an actual Toby Keith song."
Separate church and state/That's what some lawyer said/Well I think it's time we separated/Him from his head!
But my favorite lyric of the night went to Colbert and Stewart singing about Hannuka...Channukkah...(hold on let me look it up)...Hanukkah!
JS: We have latkas... SC: What are those? JS: Potato pancakes. We have dreidels... SC: What are those? JS: Wooden tops. We have candles... SC: What are those? JS: THEY ARE CANDLES!
I want that to be my ringtone. Every time somebody calls me, I want to hear John Stewart scream THEY ARE CANDLES! over and over again. I might never answer my phone.
If you want to watch the entire special, I wholeheartedly endorse that. But really, this was about the songs. They were written by David Javerbaum, a Daily Show producer, and Adam Schlesinger, a founding member of Fountains of Wayne. That's right - some of the best Christmas music I've ever heard was written by a couple of Jews. Their mothers must be so proud.