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2004 Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers

Every year you show up with a stack of giftcards from Rite-Aid. And every year your family roasts your chestnuts for waiting until the last minute to do your shopping. This year will be different.

On Dec. 7—two and a half weeks before Christmas—The Morning News presented the 2004 G3 Guide, a compendium of the year’s best boardgames. You skimmed it at the office, resolved to pick up a copy of Brewster’s Millions Special Edition Monopoly for your parents… and promptly forgot all about it after spending the subsequent five hours reading Fark.com.

On Dec. 16—more than a week before Christmas—The Morning News ran an article titled Twenty Gifts That Go Easy on Your Budget, itemizing an assortment of fashionable and practical items, each costing less than 25 bucks. The phrase “I should pick up one of those for myself!” flitted through your brain no less than four times while you were reading it, but the recognition that you should buy anything for anyone else failed to make even a cameo appearance, largely owing to the fact that you had repressed all thought of the impending yuletide so deep in your psyche that it could only be extracted from your head with the aid of a hatchet.

And here it is—Dec. 22—and you haven’t purchased so much as a box of SOS pads for anyone on your list.

So let’s sum up: Christ, our lord and savior, up and got himself nailed to a cross to expurgate the sins of all mankind, whereas you haven’t been able to summon the wherewithal to visit your local Circuit City and buy a $5 gift card for your mother. If we were comparing you and the Messiah in terms of selflessness, I’d say you were coming in a distant second.

But there’s time for redemption. Here, for the third year in a row, is your guide to absolute last-minute crap you can buy on the internet. And if you order right now, there’s still a chance these items will be delivered to your home in time for Christmas, assuming you live in Fiji, where Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 23.

 

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Morality was on the ballot in this year’s election, and the people voted overwhelmingly in favor of limiting bastardized versions of Romeo and Juliet to one man and one woman. “The gender of a character cannot be changed,” warns the order page for Customized Classics, which will surgically insert two names of your choosing into Avon Willy’s heartwarming endorsement of teenage suicide. It’s the perfect gift for the couple still so blindingly in love that they are running on an effective combined IQ of 60. And who knows—if they are still together a few decades hence, maybe you can get them a customized Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on the 20th anniversary of their wedding.

 

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Pica, the persistent compulsion to eat bizarre and nonnutritive substances, is a serious psychological disorder afflicting billions of Americas. Indeed, if you have a close friend who steadfastly refuses to accompany you to the local dog park, it’s almost certainly because he fears a humiliating episode of coprophagia while in your company. Why not help him satiate his abnormal urges with the gift of a Pooping Reindeer Candy Dispenser? Or you could go right to the root of the problem and pick him up a 3.5-ounce container of Solid Gold Stop Eating Poop. If all else fails, you can always just let him indulge his perverse cravings with a gift certificate from the Old Country Buffet.

 

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Remember that show where professional asshole Ashton Whatshisbucket would go up to Hilary Duff and be all, “Did you know that the third digit of pi is 7?” and Duff would be all, “Really?” and Ashton would be all, “NO YOU GOT PUNK’D, BEEYOTCH!!!” Do you? Man, Ashton totally stole that idea from God. God was always telling folks to kill their oldest son or whatever, and then, just before they’d do it, he’d be all, “DUDE YOU GOT YAHWEH’D KILL THIS GOAT INSTEAD, BEEYOTCH!!!” Now your child can role-play God’s greatest Punk of all with the Job Biblical Action Figure. And when it gets run over by a car after your A.D.D.-addled twerp inadvertently leaves it in the street, you can chalk it up as faithful recreation of God’s torment of his most devoted follower, rather than simply the result of an ungrateful child thoughtlessly destroying the toys you busted your hump to buy him.

 

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You know how sometimes, while engaged in chitchat with a buddy, you’ll suddenly blurt out a mildly humorous idea, and your companion will chuckle politely, and then you’ll both wisely choose to forget all about it? Yeah, well—that’s you and me. Then there’s the people who somehow bamboozle themselves into thinking that their mildly humorous idea is gonna make them a million dollars. Thus: the Mistletoe Belt Buckle. “This holiday season, put an extra yuletide smile on that special someone’s face,” urges the website—a nice sentiment, I guess, but I personally believe that the maximum numbers of smiles on a face at any given time should be capped at one.

 

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The only thing you know about your brother-in-law is that he’s way into Dungeons and Dragons. Like, way way into it. So last year (at the last minute, natch) you rushed into your neighborhood comic book store and grabbed a copy of the Palace of the Silver Princess, a module designed for use with the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set and suitable for characters of levels 1–3. But when he opened it on Christmas Day, he looked crestfallen, offered up some patently insincere thanks, and then muttered about how Elfstar was level 11 Master Thief-Acrobat and he played Advanced D&D anyway. Well fuck, how are you supposed to know anything about his freakish “look at me I’m Harry Potter” la-la crap??! Can’t he do normal things like giving a shit about basketball? Fortunately, you recently read a religious tract at the bus station that addressed this very subject, and you now understand that the whole “popping a boner over a Cudgel of Sharpness +2” thing is just a front for a worldwide cabal of devil worshipers. So this year, show him that you’ve made en effort to really understand his hobby by giving him a copy of Satanic Rituals. He’ll no doubt be thrilled that he can drop the elaborate pretense of taking about his “campaign” at family functions and instead practice his faith openly. After all, he doesn’t want to be Elfstar anymore. He wants to be Debbie.

 

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When you and your girlfriend were first courting, a gift of perfume was the perfect way to say, “Even though I claim to see into your soul, the only present I could think to get you is something that implies you could stand to smell better.” Of course you ran the risk that her new-’n’-improved aroma would attract other suitors, but that was a chance you were willing to take. Now that you’ve been together for almost six weeks, though, the thought of her even sharing a zip code with another man fills you with a miasma of jealousy and rage. What you need now is something that will repel other contenders for her affection. That’s where Buck Stop’s Natural Skunk Scent comes in. A few spritzes on her wrists before the office Christmas party and even those desperate leeches in IT will steer clear of your girl. Simply purchase, pour into one of the many empty “Glow by J-Lo Eau de Toilette” spray bottles you have lying around your apartment, and assure her that, malodorous though it may be, it is packed with enough pheromones to attract Ben-Affleck-caliber men.

 

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If there’s one thing all Americans can agree on, it’s that you can’t really be a Goth if you rub some glop called “Pert” on your head every morning. Thank goodness that some entrepreneurial mistress of the night finally thunk up Goth Shampoo. The only drawback is that having manageable hair will give the recipient one less thing to mope about, but if that translates into a net decrease in the amount of maudlin and self-indulgent poetry he posts to his LiveJournal, then, really, it’s your gift to the entire internet.

 

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I have had the pleasure of consuming Jägermeister exactly twice in my entire life. The first was in my freshman year in college when a friend assured me that it was the smoothest booze available. Taking him on his word I threw back a shot, said, “Guhuhuh, that tasted just like–” and threw up. The second time was 24 hours later, when, eager to prove I wasn’t some kind of alcohol-intolerant pussy, I offered to help “finish off the bottle,” started to pour some into a plastic cup and, based on its smell alone, threw up. So perhaps I am not in the target demographic for the Jägermeister tap machine. But it would be a perfect gift for a frat boy or bulimic and would make a great beard for the alcohol-intolerant pussy on your list.

 

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Sphincterine! I only added this to make the list an even 10, there’s no way in hell I’m describing it!




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In the eyes of today’s jaded kids, everything in the world falls into two categories: things that are “Xtreme” and things that are worthless horseshit. Sadly, the traditional gift of an ant farm falls into the latter category. That’s why you are obligated—by law—to purchase your nephew an Uncle Milton Ant Farm Xtreme! “Watch as live ants carve out rad tunnels… climb the radical rock climbing wall, challenge the ragin’ street luge speedway and catch Big Air in the BMX biking arena,” says the ad copy that I swear to God I am not fabricating. Ant Farm Xtreme! also features skate loops, a bungee ravine, and other “totally” “bitchin’” attractions that the old farts at Uncle Milton Incorporated imagine young people consider cool. And after watching his plucky band of Xtreme! ants toil endlessly for 10 straight days before abruptly dying for want of a Queen, perhaps your youngster will inadvertently learn an important lesson: When the cynical veneer of marketing hype is peeled away from our culture of consumerism, you are left with a society devoid of purpose, where “individuals” are little more than drones enslaved by the instinctual comfort of numbing conformity. It’s antertainmentucational!

 

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And on that note: Happy Holidays! In fact, I’m gonna go whole-hog and wish you Happy Holidays Xtreme! What the hell, it’s Christmas.
 

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TMN Contributing Writer Matthew Baldwin has haphazardly updated his site defective yeti for more than a decade. He is also responsible for Infinite Summer (an internet-wide reading of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest), A Month of Son (a blog about raising his autistic son), and Seattle Gamenight (a monthly tabletop gaming group). More by Matthew Baldwin