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Scott Buckner's 2008 Beachwood Gift Guide

Really, there's no Christmas gift worse than a shirt. Nothing says you don't have an original thought in your head like giving one, and nothing says your girlfriend or wife is ready to dump you like getting one. Little plastic reindeers that poop whatever little candies you've loaded into them when you tug on their tail won't really endear you to anyone either, so in the spirit of Cyber Monday marking the official start of the online Christmas shopping season today, I've found some inexpensive gift suggestions for anyone with the ridiculous notion that nothing says you care like a lumberjack flannel from Kohl's.


Item: Weener Kleener Soap
Price: $6.95, from Baron Bob
Why: Because no man's sausage can be clean enough. This also proves that anyone with a bright idea can still make it in America. You'd think the folks at Irish Spring - with millions of R&D dollars at their disposal - would have come up with stimulating personal hygiene for under seven bucks by inventing a round bar of soap with a hole in the middle a long time ago. But they didn't.


Item: Sonic Bomb Clock
Price: $39.99, from Think Geek
Why: If the bed that dumps George Jetson out of bed and disappears into the floor hasn't been invented yet, it never will. That's why the Sonic Bomb Clock is as close to The Jetsons as it gets for that certain someone who can't seem to drag their ass out of bed in the morning.

According to the folks at Think Geek, "The Sonic Bomb Clock has an adjustable volume alarm with a maximum loudness of 113 decibels (just for reference, a jackhammer is about 100 decibels!). And the bed shaker does just that. Slip it under your mattress and your ears will bleed and your bed will shake, and there is no way you will oversleep. Or, you could turn the sound alarm off and tape the bed shaker to your office chair. You'll be vibrated awake without disturbing the drones."


Item: Magic Fingers
Price: $79.99 delivered, from Magic Fingers
Why: On the other hand, if you want to go with something more upscale that shakes the bed and is a true American icon, Magic Fingers would be it. For decades, nothing was a beacon to budget-motel traffic along trans-American highways like big lighted signs saying, "Air Conditioning, TV, Pool, Magic Fingers." Any dumb motel owner could draw traffic with pool and cool during the blazing summer months, but the true visionaries got traffic all year long by wiring up their beds to a Magic Fingers. You dropped in a quarter, waited for the unmistakable "clink," and off you floated to bed-vibrating nirvana.

Now you can re-create the same cheap-motel experience long enjoyed by traveling salesmen and cheap prostitutes alike with the home version of Magic Fingers. It's hard to tell from the corporate website whether this is the original Magic Fingers company, but if it is, it shows how a company can survive by overhauling its marketing strategy. The modern version doesn't include the iconic bedside quarter machine, but there's a pre-set 59-minute cycle, a programmable clock timer, and it installs in minutes. Yet it's portable, which means you don't have to go out of your way looking for a mom and pop motel along Route 66 or U.S. 30 with the last surviving machine in the entire United States still in service.

Hook one up to a Sleep Number bed and there's no telling what might happen. SheDaisy might even show up.


Item: Christmas in the Air
Price: $9.99, from Prank Place
Why: Sooner or later, everyone runs out of kids to sucker into pulling their finger, and few of us have the internal resources needed to belch or fart an entire Christmas carol. That's why a CD that includes "Jingle Belch," "O Can of Beans," and "Belchers We Have Heard on High" is considerably more entertaining than that singing fish your white trash brother-in-law has hanging on the wall of his basement bar.


Item: Electric Paper Plane Launcher Educational Aid
Price: $15.95, from Online Science Mall
Why: Nothing rocks like educational stuff that's fun and dangerous. The last time a parent bought their kid a chemistry set to blow up the house with was 1958, so it's about time someone came up with a more inventive way than a Red Ryder BB gun for a kid to shoot someone's eye out.

OSM's copy for the launcher states, "This kit was designed at Middlesex University by specialists who teach teachers. Each kit is thoroughly researched and encourages young people to stretch their skills and thinking." Then again, each issue of Penthouse is a thoroughly-researched educational aid that encourages young people to stretch their skills and thinking, but it's hard to argue with this sort of marketing logic.

OSM goes on to say, "Kit contains everything you need to learn how spinning motors and plastic discs are used to launch a paper plane at up to 31 mph (50km/h). An ideal kit for exploring paper plane designs." As it happens, this is the exact setup that allows anyone to step inside an amusement park batting cage and get clocked in the head with a fastball from the pitching machine.

Still, it's pretty awesome, and involves less hassle than building a catapult to launch squishy rotten pumpkins off your apartment balcony.


Item: Bacon of the Month Club
Price: $12.50 per month to $18.75 per month; from Grateful Palate
Why: Why annoy someone you love by sending them a bag of fruit 12 times a year when there's a whole world of artisan bacon out there waiting to be appreciated? According to the folks at Grateful Palate, this has been going on for 10 years. Who knew?

Not only that, but you get a tricked-out bacon-themed T-shirt, a toy pig, a pen, a monthly recipe, and a comic strip. And a pig nose, which is worth the price all by itself.


Item: The 7-Foot Upside-Down Pre-Lit Christmas Tree
Price: $599.95, from Hammacher Schlemmer
Why: At first, this seems to be what might happen if you put engineering students or a large corporate committee in charge of Christmas decorations. You'd end up with an artificial bush wired for light hanging upside down with a $600 price tag hanging off it.

According to Schlemmer, the tree is actually steeped in tradition that began in central Europe, a place where people drink an awful lot. "Evoking a 12th century Central European tradition of hanging a tree from the ceiling at Christmas, this unique 7' pre-lit fir is inverted to ensure a smaller footprint for less-spacious areas, and allowing more room for the accumulation of presents underneath. Originally designed for specialty stores to display delicate ornaments using a minimum of floor space, the unusual tapering shape allows the tree to stand in places that do not accommodate a traditional holiday tree, such as between two armchairs or in a corner."

You might have to wait until next Christmas for the neighborhood to brand you as those nutjobs who hang their tree upside down, though; the Schlemmer website advises, "Due to the popularity of this item, we are unexpectedly sold out. Please contact customer service at 1-800-321-1484 regarding future product availability."


Item: Glue Cologne Spray, Paint Cologne Spray, Vinyl Cologne Spray
Price:$19.99 each (1-oz. bottle), from Perpetual Kid
Why: Back in the day - before cable TV and the Internet and home video games - we spent a good bit of time building plastic scale models. Model cars, model boats, model planes - we built and painted them all. And once we were done, we carted them out to the alley and blew them up with firecrackers or doused them with a can of dad's lighter fluid and set them on fire.

I was a teenager during the 1970s, so trust me when I say the awesome feeling we got had nothing to do with any sense of accomplishment from gluing together a shoebox full of plastic pieces. The awesome feeling came from gluing and spray-painting with the windows shut and a bunch of rags crammed under the door.

Some of our lazy friends skipped the model-building altogether and went straight to gluing and painting nothing at all, which tended to turn our lazy friends into drooling, brain-damaged friends. So model glue and paint companies formulated the awesome smell of toxic chemicals out of their recipes, and virtually overnight hundreds of thousands of kids left a once-thriving model car industry to a fight over whatever tiny pool of kids was left over from the collapse of the model rocketry hobby 20 years earlier.

This is why anyone between the ages of 40 and 65 will certainly appreciate a gift of Glue Cologne Spray or Paint Cologne Spray, although I'm not sure how many of them would be silly enough to actually use it as cologne. One little spritz - even if it's onto an old rag at the bottom of a paper bag for old time's sake - will bring back all sorts of fond memories. It's non-toxic, so it won't interfere with the recovery of any huffers in the family.

Or if you happen to know someone who has lovingly restored a 1977 Gremlin or a 1968 Ford Galaxy 500, a bottle of Vinyl Cologne Spray will make their year because neither Auto Zone or Pep Boys stocks anything that restores that new-car vinyl seat smell.

For those without substance abuse problems, there are sprays in Crayon, Play-Doh, Orange Cream Pop, Vanilla Cake Batter, and a few others.


Item: Porn For Women
Price: $12, from Uncommon Goods
Why: The Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative has put together a 96-page book full of everything that women swear turns them on, like in-shape men vacuuming and doing all manner of housework while whispering sweet dirty nothings like, "Have another piece of cake. I don't like you looking so thin."

Actually, I think they missed the boat by turning this project into a book instead of a DVD. There's no nudity either, which shows what can happen when you put women in charge of porn.


Item: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
Price: $11.16 (paperback), from Amazon Books
Why: Barack Obama is our nation's president-elect, so you know what's going to happen the second he takes the oath of office, don't you? Yup, the unburied dead are going to come back to life and start trying to claw their way into your house to eat you and your children.

This is the complete survival guide. You've got about two weeks between Christmas Day and Inauguration Day to read up.


Item: 2009 Bubble Calendar
Price: $29.99, from Perpetual Kid
Why: Why? Because everyone loves to pop bubble wrap, and there's no Advent Year calendar with chocolates behind the little door for each day, that's why.


Item: Planned Parenthood Gift Certificate
Price: $25 to $100, from Planned Parenthood of Indiana
Why: If you're still troubled that your unemployed niece in Hammond has had a raging gyno infection festering since last March or that your barfly nephew in Bloomington with infomercial-grade health insurance that doesn't cover STD testing insists on sleeping with every crack whore in the city, you can turn to the folks at Planned Parenthood of Indiana this gift-giving season.

According to reports from the 94,875,987 news outlets in the country that glommed onto the story last week, the certificates can be used for everything from birth control to $58 examinations that include breast exams and pap tests. Men can find them useful, too. "They can be seen for sexually transmitted disease screenings, HIV tests and general prostate exams and those kinds of things," PPI vice president Chrystal Struben-Hall was quoted as saying in one online news account carried by CNN.

The certificates can also be used to defray the cost of abortions, but the folks at Planned Parenthood would rather remind everyone that a single $100 gift certificate covers a whole shitload of condoms and birth control pills at one of their offices.


Happy Holidays!


Posted on December 1, 2008

MUSIC - Muddy Waters Museum Has Mojo.
TV - WGN Now Trump TV.
POLITICS - President Trump Has 3,400 Conflicts Of Interest.
SPORTS - The Big Ten's Blood Money.

BOOKS - Searching For The World's Largest Owl.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - New Mop Shaped Like Taco.

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