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The Beachwood's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide

Sometime between my 20th and 30th birthdays, my mother got it into her head that Christmas wouldn't be complete without giving me one gift that I have absolutely no use for. Lately, she's taken to gifting me with a huge bucket of three-flavored popcorn. This might be fine for others, but my yearly consumption of popcorn wouldn't keep a refugee alive past breakfast.

My sisters do not get such tokens of affection, so I'm not sure whether this is my mother's statement on the sibling pecking order or that she genuinely can't figure out what to do with the remaining ten bucks she budgets for my gift-buying. So every year my big-ass tin of popcorn sits forlornly in the corner of my apartment, the modern-day equivalent of the Texas Fruitcake my great-aunt would give my parents every Christmas throughout the 60s and 70s.

The way I see it, if you're going to give someone something goofy, at least make it something that's goofy and inherently useful. That's one of the foremost reasons why, when it comes to my own kids, I make it a point to break this cycle of madness by giving them something full of dumb fun and love that they'll actually appreciate - which is the spirit behind the Beachwood's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide.

*

Item: Screaming Slingshot Monkey
Price: $7.95.
Why: It's a slingshot. You can shoot it around indoors. It screams as it flies through the air. And it's a monkey. How much more fun can you pack into eight measly dollars?

*

Item: Holiday Toilet Paper
Price: $4.95 per roll.
Why: People like Martha Stewart make a bazillion dollars a year showing everyone how to create the perfect Christmas centerpieces, assemble hoity-toity appetizer spreads, and mull all the spices needed to put everyone in the mood to go a-Wassailing. Yet, they always seem to totally neglect perhaps the most important household necessity: the roll of bathroom butt wipe.

Fear not, Walmart warrior. Not only can you choose from a "Seasons Greetings" or traditional Santa motif, but you'll have 200 squares of 2-ply to let your holiday guests know you care.

*

Item: Black Legion Battle Axe
Price: $169.99.
Why: Everyone in the world knows nobody fucks with the Barumen Axemen of Lokonia, so nothing says you mean complete balls-out business like dragging along this huge-ass piece of rompin' stompin' messenger-of-death on a stick.

*

Item: Super Caffeinated Chocolate Rocks
Price: $3.99 - $8.99.
Why: Who cares if the FDA has banned Four Loko? Just toss in a bottle of Jagermeister along with the 600mg of caffeine packed into every box and you'll be back on the party train in no time. And the candies are shaped like rocks, which might loosen up any geologists in your Christmas crowd. Added bonus: Available in coffee flavor too, making this the perfect morning-after parting gift for hangovers and walks of shame.

*

Item: Fun Slides Carpet Skates
Price: $15.99.
Why: Because every college kid still needs a hero, and the ten-spot you've been stuffing in your niece/nephew/grandkid's Christmas card the past 15 or so years doesn't go as far as it used to. In fact, spring for a few pairs of these bad boys and you'll be a superhero to everyone in their entire dorm complex for, like, fuckingever.

*

Item: Fisher Chrome Bullet Space Pen
Price: $21.95.
Why: Back in the day, nothing said you've arrived at an important station in life like The Grownup Pen - traditionally a highly ornate, expensive fountain pen befitting college or high school graduates, and traditionally gifted by proud grandparents or absentee uncles on Merchant Marine shore leave in Fiji. Problem is, ornate fountain pens tend to bleed an ornate mess of ink all over the damn place.

Luckily, in 1967 the same NASA engineers who came up with Tang came up with the Fisher Space Pen, which was able to write upside down, underwater, on top of grease, at the North Pole, and on the surface of the sun.

*

Item: An authentic Barcalounger
Price: Priceless.
Why: Only the Chevrolet Corvette is a truer American Classic than the authentic, TV-watchin' Barcalounger, a brand name that has been embedded in every man's Dad DNA since we were inventing fire and dragging our knuckles on the ground.

Not to be confused with the pedestrian, cloth-upholstered things favored by Archie Bunker and the dad on Frasier, this - somewhat sadly - is not your granddad's Barcalounger. Improved fire-safety standards protecting guys who fall asleep with burning cigarettes and over-poaching of the graceful American Naugahyde shortly after internationally-famous actor Ricardo Montalban introduced the Chrysler Cordoba in 1975 took care of that. So now you no longer stick to the chair when you get up on a sweaty summer day when you're not wearing a shirt or a pair of pants.

With due respect to the folks at La-Z-Boy, nothing silently oozes "I love you, man" to the old man like Barca. Frank Barone would approve.

*

Item: Porcelain Dashboard Hula Girl
Price: $5.99.
Why: Sure, there are somewhat-retro versions of this original dashboard Hula Girl, but they're made of plastic resin for cryin' out loud, and they don't have the all-important hand-painted "Aloha" embossed on the base. In fact, the Hawaii Tourism Bureau has been lobbying Congress for decades to ban these plastic dashboard imposters. Little things mean a lot, so if you're gonna expend the effort to go authentic-retro for someone you care about, it's important to stick to the real deal.

*

Item: Office Voodoo Kit
Price: $12.99.
Why: Because everyone's boss is a dick.

*

Item: A quart of Crown Royal. In the purple velvet bag.
Price: Whatever they're charging at the liquor store on the way.
Why: There was a time not long ago when Christmas love to your old man, grandfather, or favorite uncle was expressed with a carton of smokes and a quart - a quart, not that metric nonsense Europeans have trying to confuse us with for the past 50 years - of true Canadian-pride Crown Royal whiskey. A quart of Crown Royal has always been the perfect size and sentiment; giving the half-gallon bottle just meant you were showing off.

Spring for the Christmas gift box if you must, but it should always include the trademark royal-purple cloth bag, which makes all the difference because everyone knows it has a multitude of purposes such as marble bags for the kids, stash bags for 20-somethings, or, in a pinch, a chamois for drying off the car in the driveway. Without it, you might as well be regifting gramps with some everyday Seagram's swill your next-door neighbor brought to your Fourth of July cookout.

*

Item: One-year subscription to Modern Drunkard magazine
Price: $24.
Why: Because every single one of us knows someone with a twisted sense of humor who enjoys the lush life. If someone as dark and disturbed as Charles Bukowski can somehow be anointed the Shakespeare of drunk literature, then Modern Drunkard is the National Lampoon equivalent. Social disease has never been wittier.

As editor Frank Kelly Rich reflects in his "Let's Get Stimulated" essay on the recession: "We drunks, on the other hand, are the very personification of optimism and hope. When Katrina smashed New Orleans and everything went to hell, which businesses remained open, which group kept their wits about them and organized havens of civility and order? The bars and the drunks, that's who. Historically, drunks have always held high the torch of hope where others fell into despair and whimpered for mercy."

*

Item: Neato XV-11 Robotic All-Floor Vacuum Cleaner
Price: $399.
Why: Not only will the XV-11 have the floor of your entire shithole apartment cleaned up hours before you get home with your casual 2 a.m. bar hookup, it'll find its way to its charger when it gets low on juice, and then pick up where it left off and park itself when it's done.

*

Item: Hisonic Signature Series 4518 Snare Drum
Price: $59.99.
Why: Because it is the God-given duty of every uncle to give your nephew or niece one gift during your lifetime that serves no purpose other than to annoy the living shit out of your brother or sister. In the world of annoying things that every kid will love, nothing says you care more than a snare drum. Sure, you can go whole-hog with a whole drum set, but young children have the attention span of a sand flea and the coordination of a rag doll.

You can throw in a set of drumsticks for a few bucks more, but sooner or later, the kid's just going to end up using the kitchen silverware anyway.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on December 15, 2010


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BOOKS - Foxconned.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.


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