Today in the Morning News Tournament of Books, presented by Field Notes  |   Zombie conclusion! All the Light We Cannot See v. An Untamed State.

Ads via The Deck


Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers

Don’t know what to get your (sorta) loved ones for the holidays? Well, there’s always powdered urine.

These days there’s nothing you enjoy more than watching the squirrels scamper about your backyard, seeking nuts in preparation for the first snow of the year, while you sip brandy in the warmth and security of your home and think, ‘If only they had planned ahead and gathered their winter stores back in autumn, they wouldn’t have to race around at the last minute. Oh, those lazy, lazy squirrels!’

YOU EFFING HYPOCRIT! Here we are, deep in the fourth quarter of the mandatorily festive holiday season, and you haven’t bought a single gift for anyone, aside from your rental of Libidinous Librarian VII as a quote-unquote ‘present to yourself!’ And you have the audacity to criticize squirrels?! You are unbelievable.

I guess it’s up to me to cover your sorry ass yet again. So here’s a list of last-minute, I’m-fairly-certain-they-don’t-already-have items that you can purchase for that special someone in your life, all without expending a single calorie on thought or engaging in any physical activity more strenuous than moving your mouse-hand. This is the last time I’m bailing you out, you leech. Come Easter, you’re on your own.

* * *

Does Batman dress in a cape and cowl because of barely repressed sexual deviance? Do the members of COBRA rebel against G.I. Joe because they view him as a father figure? Can Barbie’s abysmal self-esteem be attributed to penis envy? Find out, with the Sigmund Freud Action Figure! Putting the ‘Id’ into ‘ridiculous,’ this is the perfect gift for the psychoanalytical Jung-ster on your list.

* * *

Trapped in a loveless relationship, but don’t have the courage to break it off? Subtly tell your partner to go to Hell (or the closest Earthly approximation thereof) with the Lonely Planet Guide to Antarctica! If your worser half is too opaque to take a hint, why not select one of the many, full-color photos depicting the harsh, barren ice shelves and write ‘this is what my heart feels like’ on it by way of dedication? As a last resort, you could always fake your own death and head south yourself. At least you’ll know where to find the Youth Hostel.

* * *

Remember back in your American History II class, when, by sheer providence, your friend’s assigned seat was right next to Megan DuBois, the prettiest girl in all of tenth grade? Remember how every time she even glanced in your friend’s general direction his back would sweat? And there was that one day when she turned toward your friend as if she was going to speak, but then she just sneezed politely into her hand and resumed facing forward, but even that was enough to make your friend feel queasy for an hour? And then, finally, on the morning after he’d seen Dead Poet’s Society and decided to Carpe himself some Diem, your friend finally turned to Megan and blurted, ‘Do you know what time it is?’ And Megan replied with a curt ‘ten.’ And your friend, sensing that his day-seizing was about to come to an abrupt end, tried to prolong the ‘conversation’ by asking ‘ten o’clock?’ And Megan rolled her eyes and loudly said ‘No, ten o’chicken, dorkwad.’ Do you remember that day? Do you? Boy, your friend sure does! That’s why you should buy him a Time Machine, which will allow him to go back to 1987 and warn his high-school self NEVER TO SPEAK TO MEGAN DUBOIS!! Or perhaps he could use it kill his own great-great-grandfather, thereby creating a chronological paradox and nullifying reality. After all, the annihilation of the universe couldn’t possibly be worse than the tortuous memories of The Megan Incident that I must endure. I, uh, I mean that your friend has to endure.

* * *

‘What is this so-called ‘Internet?’’ my Grandmother asked. ‘It’s a fabulous virtual realm,’ I replied, ‘where you can buy every imaginable product, with the notable exception of powdered urine.’ Or so I thought, until I discovered’s Powdered Urine Kit. Never again will you have to face your grandparents’ withering disappointment after telling them that the Internet has failed to live up to our wildest expectations. Plus, just think about all the zany Kool-Ade-related practical jokes you could play with this stuff! (Note: You should not, in fact, think about the practical jokes. I have, and now I am unable to stop.)

* * *

And let’s get all of the urination-centric gifts out of the way at once, with the Little Whizzer Liquor Dispenser, a small, plastic statue of a toddler that pees gin into your tonic. The Spencer Gifts website describes this as ‘A great conversation piece with a purpose!’ I have no idea what that purpose could be. Freaking me the hell out, that’s my guess. Guaranteed to elicit exactly one forced guffaw from the gift recipient before he opts to store it in the farthest reaches of his crawlspace.

* * *

Who doesn’t remember the huggable Mr. T, best known for his role as ‘Freedom, Shaman of the Forest’ in the beloved film Goldy III: The Magic of the Golden Bear? Now you can relive all the whimsy of this evergreen classic about young Jesse and her pet grizzly, with the Mr. T Chia Head. Just plant the seeds, watch the Mohawk grow, and soon it will be as if the benevolent protector of all God’s creatures were living in your very own home. Use the Mr. T Chia Head to lovingly recreate your favorite Golden Bear scene (as if you could pick just one!), or place it on a high shelf so that Freedom can watch over you and your 14 cats. Also suitable for use in the ‘D.C. Cab Roleplaying Game!’

* * *

Sure, you could wonder What Would Jesus Do, but you’ve never received a definitive answer…until now! With the Jesus Bobblehead), you can finally pose all your thorny moral conundrums to the Son of Man himself.

You: Jesus, if you were happily married with three kids, but a really hot coworker kept broadly hinting that she wanted you to rock her like the proverbial hurricane, you’d, like, totally sleep with her, right?

Jesus: [nods]

You: Woohoo! High five, Messiah!

It’s like a collectable expiation of indulgences!

* * *

You hate her on radio; you hate her on TV; now you can hate Ms. Schlessinger in the privacy of your own home with the Dr. Laura Board Game)! Sure, you could play by the rules, drawing ‘dilemma cards’ and trying to predict what advice Dr. Laura would give, but I find it much more entertaining to simply invite over my favorite gays, feminists, and ‘mixed-marriage’ couples, set the game on the kitchen table, gather ‘round, and hate it. All components 100-percent flammable!

* * *

Book: How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way? Well, that one pretty much sells itself.

* * *

This year, give the gift of grease with a $5 Denny’s Gift Certificate! It’s the perfect way to say, ‘Even though over 300 days have passed since the last holiday season, I am no longer even pretending that I pay any attention whatsoever to your personality or hobbies or interests, so rather than spend even the slight amount of effort it would take for me to guess what small token of my affection you might appreciate, I’m just going to get you a proscribed portion of food, something that you are biologically required to want.’ Happy Holidays!


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