The holidays are a super-busy time of year, and it’s too easy, with all the hustle and bustle, to forget about what this season is really all about. So we will remind you: It’s about purchasing high-tech consumer devices at retail.
This is a tradition that dates back to the Nativity, as we can see in this dialogue among the Three Kings, taken verbatim from the Bible:
FIRST KING: OK, we just have to follow that star, and it will guide us.
SECOND KING: Really? That seems kind of vague.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
THIRD KING: Why don’t I get directions from this new technological device I bought at retail?
FIRST KING: What is it?
THIRD KING: It’s a primitive GPS, powered by olive oil.
SECOND KING: What does “GPS” stand for?
THIRD KING: I have no idea. But it has turn-by-turn directions!
GPS: Turn left at the Sphinx.
FIRST KING: The Sphinx?
SECOND KING: Apparently it thinks we’re in Egypt.
FIRST KING: OK, like I said, we follow the star.
THIRD KING: I’m glad I bought the service agreement.
We have come a long way since those primitive times, but the basic idea hasn’t changed: Each holiday season, we throng to the malls and purchase the absolute latest high-tech items, defined as “items that will be technologically obsolete by Valentine’s Day.”
Perhaps you’re thinking, “But my kids already have every kind of gadget! What else can I possibly buy them, especially if they are boys and therefore likely to use any technology they get hold of for evil purposes?”
How about a drone? That’s right: Drones are no longer just military devices used by the government to conduct foreign policy in the form of vaporizing selected foreigners. Today, relatively inexpensive consumer drones are sold everywhere, and they’ve become more and more popular. Recently I was with some friends enjoying a quiet lunch next to a peaceful pond, when suddenly there was this buzzing sound, and we looked up and saw, flying above us, a consumer drone, which we determined was being controlled by a young man in the distance. He was quite skillful, able to make the drone swoop all around us and hover over us, buzz, buzz, buzz. Haha! Watching this miraculous little machine dance around the sky under the masterful control of the clever youngster, my friends and I all had the same fanciful thought: I wish I had a shotgun.
For the drone, of course.
But what if you want to go “old school” this holiday season? What if instead of giving your loved ones high-tech devices that will, in time, become obsolete and useless, you’d prefer to give gifts that are already useless?
In that case, you have come to the right place: our annual Holiday Gift Guide, which has been a beloved American holiday tradition dating back to the dawn of time. Each year, we scour the entire solar system, looking for unique and tasteful gift ideas. Each year, we fail utterly and wind up with a collection of random crap we found on the Internet. This is our holiday gift to you.
As always, we guarantee that the items in this guide are real products that you can actually buy if there is something seriously wrong with you. We further guarantee that each of these items has been subjected to our rigorous Holiday Gift Guide Quality Testing Program, under which we remove the item from its packaging and expose it directly to light rays so that Bob the Photographer can take a picture of it. Then we put it back in its packaging and, ideally, never interact with it again.
Sound enticing? You bet it does! So let’s “cut to the chase” and take a look at the items that “made the cut” for the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, starting with:
NIGHT GLOW TOILET SEAT
$50 plus shipping and handling from http://www.nightglowseats.com. Suggested by Bill Hudgins of Gallatin, Tennessee.
Don’t you hate going into a dark bathroom at night? You stumble around blindly, feeling for the light switch, and then, when you finally turn the light on, it’s way too bright. And then you notice that both the toilet and bathtub are missing. And then you realize you’re actually in a closet.
At least that’s what happens to us. But it won’t ever happen to you or some lucky person on your holiday gift list if you buy this glow-in-the-dark toilet seat. It gives off an eerie greenish or bluish light all night long, thanks to a well-known scientific phenomenon that we do not personally understand, although we’re hoping it’s not atomic radiation.
This thing is amazingly bright. If your electrical power went out, you could actually use it as a flashlight, provided you wouldn’t mind walking around holding a toilet seat, which could be embarrassing.
Although not as embarrassing as going to the bathroom in a dark closet. Not that we have ever done that.
$75 from www.burntimpressions.com. Suggested by Laura Barry.
If you’re like many people, you enjoy taking “selfies” of yourself every few minutes and sending these via social media to all your friends, who are likewise sending selfies to you and everyone else they know, so that as a group you’re spending 70 percent of your waking hours either producing or looking at images of each other grinning like idiots, not that we are being judgmental.
But perhaps you’re getting tired of the plain-vanilla selfies. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Isn’t there some other medium I can use to capture images of myself?”
Yes, there is. And that medium is: toast. We’re talking about a historic breakthrough in toaster technology. The way it works is, you supply an image to the toaster company, and they send you a toaster that will burn that image into every piece of toast it produces.
We used an image of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, because we love him very much and want to elect him president of the United States regardless of what the so-called “Constitution” says. But you can use an image of yourself or a loved one. You can also get a toaster that produces three-line text messages on toast, which, as you can imagine, is a powerful communication tool, unless you smear cream cheese over it.
This year, give the gift that says: “I was really desperate for a gift.” Give the gift of personalized toast.
$99 (price may vary) plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com. Suggested by Frances Biegler of Houston; Mary Wilson of Washington; Russ Thomas of Greenfield, Massachusetts; Cindy Loosterman of Shelby, North Carolina; Rolf Phillips of Key West; Judi Smith of Miami; Rory Clarke of Coral Gables.
This is the perfect gift for the busy executive or airline pilot on your holiday gift list who needs to “get away from it all” by power-napping for brief periods, although preferably not during takeoff or landing.
This is a padded furry hoodlike thing with a hole in the front for your nose and two holes in the sides for your hands. It may look silly, but when you slip it over your head, you appear to be some kind of giant alien squid.
The idea is that the pillow shuts out light and noise, so you can lay your head down, stick your hands into the side holes and take a relaxing snooze in there. We tried it, and although we were skeptical at first, within just a few seconds we were no longer thinking about our cares and woes. That’s because our brain was shrieking GET THIS THING OFF ME.
MERMAN CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENT
$29.99 plus shipping and handling from www.diamondsofthesea.com. Suggested by Elaine Ziman of Erie, Colorado.
Christmas is a time of tradition, and there is no Christmas tradition more hallowed than merman tree ornaments. These have been part of the holidays for centuries, as expressed in the lyrics to this traditional English Christmas carol:
Oh bring us a figgy pudding
Oh bring us a figgy pudding
Oh bring us a figgy pudding
And a merman figurine!
These figurines depict ripped muscular six-pack-flaunting fish-tailed mermen, costumed and accessorized and glittered to represent various professions and lifestyles. We purchased a doctor merman; other options (there are dozens) include cowboy, soldier, police officer, firefighter, rock star, vampire, leprechaun and former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
No, we’re kidding about the Mayor Ford merman, unfortunately. But the other merman ornaments are real, and they will add a festive touch to any tree. Or, at your Christmas party, you can hang one over a doorway and watch in merriment as your guests notice it and, in accordance with ancient tradition, exclaim, “What the hell is THAT?”
$8.99 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com.
If you’re looking to give a unique gift that will definitely “make an impression,” consider coyote urine. It comes in a convenient bottle, and it has countless uses. For example, you can sprinkle some on the ground around your house or garden, and small pests, thinking that a coyote has recently urinated there, will avoid the area. On the other hand, the urine might actually attract coyotes, not to mention larger animals such as wolves and bears that are interested in eating coyotes. So you could wind up having a very exciting yard. And that’s only one of the uses of coyote urine. We frankly don’t know what the other ones are. Maybe if you got called in by the IRS for an audit, you could sprinkle it on your tax records, and maybe that would scare off the auditor. There is only one way to find out.
We don’t know how they collect the urine from the coyotes. But that could explain why they’re always howling.
$8.10 (price may vary) plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com.
It is a well-known fact that the finest food in the world is English food. Every day, literally millions of people eat it on purpose. And one of the most famous of all English dishes is Spotted Dick, which is a kind of pudding that you can buy in a can. We think it should replace fruitcake as a traditional treat that people give to other people during the holiday season but would never dream of actually eating themselves. Why not get in on this tradition at the beginning? Give the gift of Spotted Dick.
COLLECTIBLE ROCKY ACTION FIGURE: THE MEAT
$29.95 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com. Suggested by Jon Harris of Christiansburg, Virginia.
Do you have a collector on your holiday gift list who is a fan of the estimated 47 Rocky movies starring Sylvester Stallone as a plucky boxer with the heart of a lion and the IQ of oatmeal? If so, we have the perfect gift item for you.
This item is part of a series of Rocky-themed action figures that came out in the ’70s. Most of the figures depict human beings — Rocky, for example — but this one is different. This is a plastic replica of a side of beef. Really. It’s called, simply, “The Meat.” It’s inspired by the scene in the meat locker where Rocky punches and eventually defeats a large hanging sector of dead cow. Laugh if you want, but Cracked.com ranked The Meat at No. 21 in its list of the 36 Worst Action Figures.
We got ours on the Internet. The package is a little beat up, but The Meat itself looks as good as it ever did. It is accessorized by a miniature bloodstained butcher coat like the one worn by Rocky’s friend Paulie. Apparently you can put that on the Paulie action figure, which is also available on the Internet, but at a lower price than The Meat. That has to hurt.
ACUPUNCTURE PIG MODEL
$35 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com.
A complaint we frequently hear is: “I would like to perform acupuncture on a pig, but I don’t know where the darned acupuncture points are!” If that sounds like somebody you know, then we have the ideal gift for that person. This is a plastic model of a pig, with one side looking like a normal pigskin-covered pig, and the other side looking like a demon zombie pig whose internal organs are on display. It’s intended for use as a training aid in veterinary acupuncture, which is a real thing that we are not making up. It may sound ridiculous, but this ancient art can do wonderful things to ease the suffering of an ailing animal and restore it to health. Then you can eat it.
ANTI-AGING SAUNA FACE MASK
$59.99 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com. Suggested by Janice Gelb of Melbourne, Australia.
Have you ever noticed how youthful people look in a sauna? Neither have we. People in saunas usually look like they’re about to die. Allegedly, however, saunas make your skin more youthful and beautiful. That’s the thinking behind this scientific product, which comes from Japan, so you know it’s not just some kind of insane fad. The idea is, instead of sitting in a small, hideously hot room with naked Scandinavians, you simply strap on your sauna face mask, and almost immediately, thanks to science, you will look like Hannibal Lecter. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who is interested in healthy skin and robbing convenience stores.
$30 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com (search for “Facial Lifting Bra”). Suggested by Joe Hicks of Kyushu, Japan.
This product — another scientific beauty advance from Japan — is a brassiere that you wear on your head. If we understand it correctly, it pulls your cheeks sideways, thereby eliminating those lines on the side of your nose and mouth that make you look like the old witch who gave the apple to Snow White. Of course, it seems to us that when you take the face bra off, the lines would come right back. But what do we know? We’re just a gift guide. And that’s why we recommend this product as the perfect way to send the festive holiday message: “You’re looking old.”
TUB FULL OF LADYBUGS
$9.50 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com.
Do you have a youngster on your holiday list who wants a pet? Then just imagine the look of joy and surprise on that child’s face when he or she receives this plastic tub containing approximately 1,500 live ladybugs. Gardeners use these because ladybugs eat insect pests, but they also make wonderful pets — obedient, intelligent and fiercely loyal. More than one tragedy has been averted when a sleeping family was awakened in the middle of the night by an agitated ladybug that sensed impending danger. Granted, this danger usually involved aphids, but still. And the real beauty of giving ladybugs to children as pets is that if, God forbid, the child should step on his or her beloved ladybug companion — let’s call it “Heather” — the child will still have a tub containing approximately 1,499 more ladybugs just like Heather. It’s a Tub of Love.
BLACK TOILET PAPER
$36.99 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com.
Why would you give somebody black toilet paper? To answer that question, let’s quote the Amazon Product Description: “Black toilet paper will make a statement in any bathroom.”
Ask yourself: Do you know anybody who would NOT want to make a statement in the bathroom? Neither do we! That’s why we think you should give black toilet paper to everybody on your holiday list. It’s that very special kind of gift that makes everyone say, “I can’t tell whether this has been used.”
DOODY HEAD GAME
$17.91 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com. Suggested by Sue Eckhardt of Gatesville, Texas.
Here’s a great gift for anybody on your list who enjoys competitive sports. To play Doody Head, you and your opponent strap on stylish yet functional Velcro caps, then fling Velcro doodies at each other in an effort to make them stick to the opponent’s head. It is hilarious fun for literally seconds on end. Then it gets old. But those are some memorable seconds.
Thank you list
Lance Dixon, Lilly Echeverria, Nancy Foster, Benjamin Friedlander, Vanessa Gilyard, David Griswold, Kristy Haffer, Marsha Halper, Bob Harksel, Valerie Heller, Ethan Horwitz, Jose Iglesias, Gary Ladka, Susan McAlpin, Emily Michot, Susan Moss, Gail Papscot, Douglas Paul. Amy Lipman Prezant, Joe Rimkus, Felice Shekar, Charlotte St. John, Myra Symons, Noralee Taylor, Pierre Taylor, Larry Wilkner.