Let's cut the pretense, shall we? Christmas "gift guides" are nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse for newspapers to suck up to advertisers in an attempt to rake in a few more bucks during the holiday season. There's always a conceit: the "hot" gift guide, the "practical" gift guide, the "what-to-buy-your-jerkwad-boss" gift guide, the "gadget-lovers" gift guide, and on and on and on. It all amounts to the same thing: getting brand names and photos of products in the paper. Free advertising. Booty. Loot. Swag.
Rare is the newspaper honest enough to admit the journalistic bankruptcy of the whole endeavor. Orlando Weekly is such a newspaper. We freely acknowledge that our gift guide is all about pleasin' the people who keep us in fineries. (Merry Christmas to you one and all!) And thus, having removed the hairshirt of producing meaningful, socially responsible journalism, we are free to wallow in the holiday trough like the rest of America. So let's get to it.
Below you will find lists of what we, your cherished Weekly scribes, have on our lists to Santa. We've also included a handy address to which you can mail our gifts. President Bush says shopping keeps us free, so who are we (or you?) to argue? Do we need to pass your name on to John Ashcroft? Huh, do we?
If it's guilt you need to get shopping for us, try this: We bring you joy and happiness 52 weeks a year and ask so little in return. The least you can do is buy us something.
Yes, this whole exercise is crass, but this ain't Bedford Falls and we ain't George Bailey. Only 14 days left.
Jeffrey C. Billman, staff writer
Apple Power Mac G5
(dual 2GHz processor)
A tech-head friend turned me on to the G5 a few months back; he spoke of the machine in almost godlike terms, which seemed a bit odd until you saw what it could do: everything. Well, OK, not everything. It can't cure cancer -- at least, I don't think it can. But as my friend describes it, "It's friggin' stupid powerful. It whoops the shit out of everything."
It has the world's first 64-bit processor, which means it can process exponentially more information, faster, than any other computer on the market. You can open 40 applications -- enough to crash my PC for sure -- and this Mac will have them all running in 10 seconds. I'm not sure what I'd actually do with a computer this insane (after all, how much power do you need to run Internet and word-processing applications?), but it would be pretty sweet to find out.
LaCie 4x2x12 DVD+/-RW, 16x8x32 CD-RW External FireWire/USB 2.0 Combo Drive
If, for some reason, you don't deliver a G5 this year, perhaps you can at least wrangle up a decent CD burner for me (the G5 comes with one). Well, since we're angling for a CD burner, let's go for the DVD burner as well. Then, there will be no limit to what I can illegally pirate. As Mr. Monty Burns would say, "Excellent." (I'm kidding, as far as you know).
I really don't know anything about DVD burners, so I went to Comp USA's website and sought out the fourth most expensive one the site listed. Why the fourth? Above that seemed a little extravagant. Below that, well, I don't do cheap, especially on wish lists.
Almost two years ago, my Honda Civic began to falter in its old age. Figuring every Southern-born American male needs to own a pickup at some point, I traded it in for a brand new Toyota Tacoma. The truck is great, but it has no CD player. Let's be honest here. FM radio in this town, with a few exceptions, sucks. I am so tired of it, in fact, that I've started listening to the right-wing talk shows that take up the AM dial. At first, listening to those morons was funny, though as the months have passed, I've come to think they are a contributing factor to my high blood pressure.
For those reasons, and because I have hundreds of CDs being put to no good use, I need a CD player. And not some piece of pooh, either. I want a CD changer, in which I can dump all the CDs I'd care to listen to for the upcoming week. The JVC listed above meets all the criteria I had in mind, and as an added bonus, it's a CD burner too. I can burn CDs while driving. That may not be safe, but it's cool.
Fender American Telecaster, $695;
Vox AC-30 amp, $1,295
5515 S. Orange Ave.
In keeping with this wish list's musically minded theme, I'd like to request perhaps the greatest guitar/amp combination known to rock & roll, the Fender American Tele and the Vox AC-30. And since I'm such a nice guy, I'll even point you to Guitar Den, where you can buy this merchandise for me used, at a distinct markdown.
The Fender Tele is among the most versatile guitars in the world, used in everything from classic rock to punk, rockabilly to country. Combine it with the venerable Vox AC-30, the British rock amplifier, and you get sweet tones that go from dirty to beautiful with the turning of a volume knob.
DirecTV Total Choice Premier with
Local Channels Package
$87.99 per month
I am among the dwindling number of Americans that relies on the public airwaves for my passive entertainment, and am I disappointed. I mean, what is TV without full-frontal nudity and repetitious use of the word "fuck"? I need cable -- and not just basic cable either. TNT is not good enough for me. I need the real deal: HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, MTV (OK, just MTV2), ESPN, Comedy Central, etc. Dammit, folks, I need entertainment.
I could go with the cable company, but DirecTV is a better choice for two reasons: NFL Sunday Ticket ($169 per season) and ESPN GamePlan ($119 per season). Sure, both the college and pro football seasons are almost gone, but by next fall I fully expect to spend my weekends flipping between a cornucopia of football games. I'll make you a deal: if you cover the monthly fee, I'll pay for the football extras out of my own pocket, and throw in a 12-pack of Schlitz.
If it's the root of all evil, then I'm far too good. Let's be honest: You could buy me all the stuff I've listed here, but that means you have to go out, find the right model, pay for it, then ship it. And that means that I have to spend my precious time returning the items that you screw up. And, of course, dear readers, you will screw it up. Sending money is a lot easier. I prefer $100 increments.
Jason Ferguson, music editor
Apple iPod, $499;
Griffin iTrip FM transmitter, $34.95
The Apple Store
The Mall At Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Just having the iTunes program on my home PC is joy enough, as Apple's Music Store has helped me get reacquainted with much of my musical youth (and even some of my Musical Youth). But the biggest thing being able to shuffle through a library of songs has helped me do is get reacquainted with my own CD collection. You know, The Behemoth That Intimidates Even He Who Owns It. The miracle of AAC compression has allowed me to cram thousands of songs onto a tiny little hard drive, many of which had been neglected in deference to the never-ending wave of new stuff that The Behemoth eats. Matching Mole and that disc of Cambodian pop have been plucked from their dusty niches, while hoary classics are equally reinvigorated (I had almost forgotten that the Faces were the most debauched rock band on the planet). But damn, "The Humpty Dance" sure sounds like crap coming out of those little computer speakers. And it's a bitch to hook the VAIO in the car.
So, I need an iPod. Need, I tell you. A sleek, sexy little 40-gig number. With the little adapter that "broadcasts" the signal to my big stereo and my car stereo. Monogramming not necessary.
Hoover Floor Mate SpinScrub
$179 to $199
DVDs, CDs and books
Gifts like DVDs, CDs and (egads) books are snootily frowned upon by those obnoxious, "innovative" gift givers. You know, the types who insist on giving something "special." You know, the types that piss you off because there's no way in hell you can return the handcrafted mink fur coaster set they picked up at a New Mexico truck stop and "just knew it was perfect?" Screw those people.
"Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines" ($32.99, Buena Vista Home Video) isn't that expensive, but a double-disc set of Walt's WWII propaganda machine is just too weird to actually spend my own money on. Thirty-two cartoons like "Education for Death," "Food Will Win the War" and, my favorite, "Commando Duck," in which Donald Duck gets all patriotic and thinks he's an American kamikaze. Thank God the Mouse lives right down the road ... maybe one of the really cool people down there will send this to me.
I really want the 75-pound, 800-page, photo-book monstrosity that is "GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali," but I know I won't get it. Because it costs $3,000. So, the relatively cheap "Diane Arbus: Revelations" ($100, Random House) will do just fine for holding down the coffee table.
People are under this stupid assumption that, because of my job, I'm somehow immune to the joy of receiving a great CD (or 20) for Christmas. Fact: the barrage of promotional CDs I endure is 90 percent crap. And although I certainly indulge myself every now and then in the occasional purchase of a CD (or 20), my collection is by no means complete. In fact, a bizarre logic meltdown occurred about a year ago that prompted me to sell most of my CDs -- "Hey, CD-R comps are the same thing, right?" Wrong. So, in an effort to bring The Behemoth back into proper Zen balance, I need (need, I say) "The Wumme Years: 1970-1973" ($87.98, Recommended Records) by Faust, a five-disc box set that came out three years ago. Somehow, all my Faust music ended up on vinyl, which is cool for the house, but not so iPod-friendly (hint). This set collects the best of these German freaks: all of their early, collectivist prog-insanity, with pretty much every good bit of music they recorded included. ("Faust IV," their last decent album, isn't here; obviously, none of the "reunion" material is either.) Superior sound quality -- all the discs are in HDCD format and have been meticulously remastered -- almost makes it a shame to know I'm gonna burn most of it to a hard drive (vinyl still sounds better at home), but the idea of driving down Colonial listening to "We Are the Hallo Men" is perversely exciting.
Almost as perverse as "The Crown Jewels" ($135.98, Hollywood Records), an eight-disc box that collects all the good albums by Queen in an appropriately overblown package that's much nicer looking than the 3-CD-R set I replaced my Queen discs with a while back. (Stupid technology.) Everything from the debut through "The Game" is here in remastered glory, but without those stupid dance remix bonus tracks the label tacked on when they rolled out the reissues in '91. (This box is from '98.) I think it's really cool that Hollywood Records is owned by Disney. Have I mentioned how cool I think all those people at Disney are?
Dean Hinton, staff writer
Dell Inspiron 1100
Last year, my foot caught the cord of my old Apple 3400c and the laptop got slammed to the ground. I can still use it for word-processing, but the modem and floppy drive no longer work, meaning I have no way to transfer information off the computer. Computers are so cheap today, compared with five years ago when I bought the Apple used, that I can pay several hundred dollars less than I did for the Apple and get 10 times the computer. I don't need much -- just Internet access and word processing.
So I'll take a Dell Inspiron. At $700 (including a $100 rebate), the Inspiron is quite the deal. It has a 14-inch screen (several inches larger than the screen on my old computer), 500 megs of memory (my old one had less than 100) and 60 gigs of hard drive space (compared with 1 gig, at most). Unfortunately computers still come with cables hanging out the back I can catch my foot on. But that's my deal, not Dell's.
Final Draft scriptwriting software
I want to write and produce my own films. But I refuse to do it until I have the proper tools to unencumber the writing process. A scriptwriting program would go a long way toward achieving this goal. I don't have animation or many technical support needs, so Final Draft will work just fine.
$30 for a 750-ml bottle
Mike Johnson, the Weekly's former publisher, gave me a bottle of Dewar's last year. Most of the liter bottle remains unconsumed, which ought to tell you something about my once-proud drinking habits. Time for a comeback, I say. Dewar's is not as smooth as Pinch, a scotch I first drank on or about my 21st birthday. Then again, Pinch is not free either. But at $30, it's below a comparable-sized bottle of single-malt Ardbeg Provenance, which runs $600, but well within the budget of most of my broke, alcoholic friends.
2004 BMW Z4 3.0i
963 N. Wymore Road, Winter Park
I don't have a wife or kids. But I do have an old Mazda 929 clunker. Time for an upgrade. And what an upgrade the Z4 would be! It's got a retractable roof and a classic, sleek design bachelors like myself prefer. It also has run-flat tires, a fancy way of saying I won't get stuck on the road changing a tire. And at zero to 60 in 5.9 seconds, the Roadster is almost as fast as my Honda motorcycle.
Nag Champa incense
$1.50 for a box of 12
Available at head shops everywhere
I have a lot of smells around my house I like to keep covered up, which is why I keep a steady supply of incense on hand. The best is Nag Champa from India. Its aroma isn't suffocating or overly sweet, as with other incense.
Utopian Yoga Mat
I've had bad luck with yoga mats lately. Several months ago, I left a nice Nike mat in my gym and it disappeared. Yes, somebody out there is actually stretching into an upward dog on a (my) heavily used yoga mat. A second mat given to me on my birthday has begun crumbling to bits; it is a yoga mat with leprosy. I need a stronger, sturdier mat. I need the Utopian Yoga Mat. It is a quarter-inch thick and made of concrete -- or something called cellular vinyl, which is almost as strong. It will be the perfect accessory to forget in the locker room of one of Central Florida's many gyms.
I abuse my sandals so badly they do not last a year. I have no faith that Merrell makes a sandal able to withstand my trampling through mud, glass and barbed wire, but I know someone who works at Merrell and to keep her paycheck coming I figure I should put in a plug for the company. I choose a sandal called the Topo Slice, a weird name for a sandal. They look a lot like my current beat-up sandals, though, so, for the sake of continuity, I'd like to obtain a pair. They're only $60 more than I typically pay for sandals.
Micky Michalec, calendar coordinator
Now that the ads for the must-have toys for the season are running nonstop between every program on television, I'm reminded what Christmas is all about: buying stuff for kids. But being the kid-at-heart that I am, dammit, I still want toys under the aluminum tree; though maybe, as I am older now, my Christmas wish list should reflect my maturity. I know you were wondering what to get me, so here goes -- gifts from my childhood reinterpreted to reflect my sophisticated adult tastes:
"The Young Ones -- Every Stoopid Episode"
"Mr. Show -- The Complete First and Second Seasons," $26.24;
"Mr. Show -- The Complete Third Season," $26.24
To replace all those priceless hours of Weather Channel I captured on tape when I thought I was recording the "The Young Ones" off of MTV (with that Betamax VCR I got in '83), I'll take "The Young Ones -- Every Stoopid Episode" 3-DVD set. And for the blank tape labeled "Mr. Show" that a friend handed me last Christmas, the "Mr. Show -- The Complete First and Second Seasons," and "Mr. Show -- The Complete Third Season" DVDs will suffice as suitable replacements. Did I mention I don't have a DVD player (hint, hint)?
Ludwig Amber Vistalite "Zep" drum set,
$2,995; drum cases and sticks, cymbals
and accessories; thousands more
Drums & More
5285 Red Bug Lake Road,Winter Park
To make up for the lousy Diamond Star drum set I got from Lionel Playworld when I was 8, I'll take a new set of drums. And not just any drums; these are a reintroduction of the drums I should have received back then. Here's a description from Ludwig: "The Vistalite outfit is standard with clear drumheads, Mini-Classic lugs and Vibra-Bands on toms. The outfit features the vintage clear Plexiglas see-through shells, and a blue/green badge. Other vintage features are inlaid bass drum hoops, which are one and a half inches thick and inlaid in silver sparkle." Mmmmm ... Vibra-Bands.
Of course I'll need some accessories to go along with those drums: Along with SKB road cases for all the aforementioned drums, I'll need a new drum throne (and a case for it). A DW 9120 Tripod Tractor-Style Seat Drum Throne will do just fine. Don't forget the drumsticks and heads. Corresponding-sized Aquarian drumheads will work, and I'll take a gross of the Vic Firth American Classic 3A Wood Tip Drumsticks, with cases for each individual stick and head. And rather than wasting your time with more descriptions that you'll only forget -- you've already got a lot to remember with the case, throne and stick specs alone -- just go ahead and get me the entire catalogue of Paiste Signature Series Cymbals (www.paiste.com). Oh yes, and cases for the cymbals.
i-Vibe Pocket Rocket (Strawberry), $43.95; Blueberry Tart Jelly Pocket
1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail
To rekindle those days of brain-buzzing enjoyment from my vibrating Tudor NFL Electric Football game that, at around age 10, I had to have, I'm asking for a Pocket Rocket vibrator and a pocket-sized Blueberry Tart vagina. My plan is to hook 'em together and watch 'em fight it out to the death, like rock 'em, sock 'em marital aids. Which one will pack the most pleasure-inducing bang for my battery? Oh yeah, I'll also need batteries and a tube of lube (you choose the flavor). And while you're at it, why don't you throw in some cases for the sex toys, batteries and lube, as well?
Jesus Action Figure
112 N. Orange Ave.
To replace my long-lost collection of G.I. Joes, my Stretch Armstrong and my library of Brat Pack movies, I want my own, personal, Jesus action figure. You know, Christmas is about Jesus, and the Bible, and giving. So I want to give a little something back to Jesus. His name clearly implies he's ready for action, so I'm going to fix him up with a game of dirty Barbie with my other gift request, a Hokey Pokey Elmo (with case), and watch the hot session of St. Elmo's Fire unfold.
Steve Schneider, assistant arts editor
The best-ever answer to the question "What do you want for Christmas?" came from Crow T. Robot of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," who responded: "I want to decide who lives and who DIES!" After that, we're all pretty much amateurs. But in case anybody out there really gives an ounce of figgy pudding about making all my yuletide dreams come true, here's what's topping my list this year:
"The Honeymooners -- 'Classic 39' Episodes"
Screw Lucy. Forget Seinfeld. The blue-collar odyssey of Ralph Kramden wasn't just the template for the American sitcom; half a century later, it remains the best set of laughs the medium ever turned out. Having the ho-hum "lost episodes" on my DVD shelf never appealed to me in any way, shape or form, but I'll gladly make room for this five-disc set of nothin' but the hits. In episodes like "Trapped" and "The Golfer," Gleason, Carney and company truly stepped up and addressed the ball. ("Hel-lo, ball!")
"Avenue Q: The Musical" (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Park Ave. CDs, 528 S. Park Ave. Winter Park, (407) 629-5293;
UCF Student Union, (407) 282-1616
The score of this "Sesame Street"-inspired musical is so flat-out infectious that you almost don't mind not being able to see the puppets. As for the lyrics -- well, one song is titled "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." Another is called "The Internet is for Porn." I don't think I need to belabor the point here.
"Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light" by Patrick McGilligan
Urban Think Bookstore
625 E. Central Blvd.
Every movie critic worth his salt needs to possess a mental storehouse of Hitchcock anecdotes he can call up at a moment's notice, hijacking innocent dinner-party conversations while referring to the great man with annoying familiarity as "Hitch" (like they were mah-jongg partners or something). Thus far, my own cache of Hitchcock stories hasn't been extensive enough to get me banished from the Central Florida equivalent of polite society. Won't you help? Please?
Live celebrity phone call
$19.95 to $29.95
Nothing says "holiday spirit" better than telephonic contact with Kato Kaelin, Ron "Horshack" Palillo or any of the other washed-up nobodies who are now touching base with their "fans" in calls of up to 30 seconds in duration. Just figure out which trash-culture vulture on your holiday giving list would most appreciate a call from a shameless Z-lister, pay the nominal fee, and said has-been will deliver a live greeting sometime in the next seven days. You may have already read about this service in the Sentinel, which only proves that they're on the OOPS Guys' e-mail list, too. But nobody has thus far pointed out the best thing about the offer: the chance to verbally abuse the star in question until he or she hangs up in disgrace. "So, you're Lorenzo Lamas, huh? God-damn, whatever happened to you?"
Mythology: The DC Comics Art of
Coliseum of Comics (four locations, including Fashion Square Mall)
Ross' entire artistic oeuvre relies on a single genius idea: Paint comic-book superheroes as if they existed in the three-dimensional world. So costumes crease along elbows, pupils show through previously opaque eyeholes and facial details exhibit a diversity far beyond the normal square-jawed stereotype. This essential overview of Ross' work also benefits from the layout skills of designer Chip Kidd, whose "Batman Collected" made simple licensed memorabilia look like priceless objets d'art. Hey, you take your kultchur where you can get it.
Kobe Bryant Keepsake Ornament
I was briefly in the collectibles business, so I know that the value of this sucker is going to hit the roof the minute it's retired. In fact, I'm amazed it's still on the shelves. As an alternate gift, I'll gladly accept a videotape of you asking your local Hallmark rep if her store carries the complementary "accuser" ornament.
Judas Priest boxed set
Not yet available
Erstwhile Orlando Weekly music editor Mark Padgett believes it's no coincidence that the Priest reunion tour was only announced after the Supreme Court legalized sodomy. That said, I fully expect the band's next studio CD to be titled "Civil Union." Until it drops, I'll have to make do with this rollicking retrospective, a multidisc collection of the best metal ever to make a teenager shoot himself in the face. It's not due for release until early '04, but a voucher makes a great stocking stuffer.
"The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies" by Jason Surrell
On the surface, it may seem like just another brazen tie-in to a dodgy-looking Disney picture. In reality, it's a fascinating tabletop history of greater Orlando's one true architectural landmark. (Yeah, I got your Designers' Show House. I got your Designers' Show House right here). Thoughtful add-on gift: A Swingline stapler, so I can permanently seal off any pages dealing with Eddie Murphy.
Boss brand guitar effects
Various price points
912 Lee Road, (407) 599-1222; 4644 E. Colonial Drive, (407) 896-5508
Too many people think Christmas is about personal acquisition and other selfish desires. So I asked my neighbors what they wanted most this holiday season, and guess what? They said they'd like nothing better than to live next door to Rivers Cuomo of Weezer -- unless, of course, they could somehow live next to two Rivers Cuomos. From that oblique answer, I can only infer that they want me to have the MD-2 Mega Distortion, which piles on the brain-frying crunch, and possibly the DD-5 Digital Delay, which fosters the aural illusion that the building has been invaded by Siamese twins, each of whom sorta kinda knows how to play the riff to "Hash Pipe."
Power of attorney
Just give me that, and I can bully my way into the rest.
Lindy Shepherd, managing editor
Shorter Christmas shopping season
If crass commercialization isn't enough to hollow out the spiritual nature of the season, the early-onset Christmas countdown that hits stores by Halloween sure is.
For those of us who have always felt punished by forced tinsel traditions, it doesn't help to hear audio-animatronic angels sing about a silent night every time a door opens to so much as a convenience store, from fall harvest to winter solstice. It's unnatural. The unspoken agreement is that free season for Yuletide marketing opens after Thanksgiving and not a day later. Don't give in to the pressure, and do consider going the more commercially pure, no-jingle Kwanzaa route (www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org).
$5 to $45
F&F Botanica, 801 N. Broad St., New Orleans; (504) 482-9142;
New Metropolis, 480 N. Orlando Ave., Suite 114, Winter Park; (407) 539-153
The soft glow of a flaming wick in fleshy wax is always welcome in my world, day or night -- must be the Catholic in me. If you're particular about the quality of the wax and the use of natural scents, the cost can climb. (Maybe a donation box inside my front door would help.) So a stocked candle cabinet with practical and impractical options is always desirable.
On the cheap end, there's no better supplier than the F&F Botanica, a low-rent haunt for followers of voodoo and religious kitsch. For the most part, it's a church-candle outlet, with every size and shape, including 6-inch-diameter, 12-inch-high glass jars filled with bright waxes of every color. The homemade wax is the kind that catches fire easily and offers no smell, but the candles cost around $5 apiece and burn for an eternity. Afterward, there's a glass vase to donate to the poor.
For the finest olfactory experience, nothing's better for the money than Illume, stocked at New Metropolis in the Winter Park Village. These are the kind of candles that don't burn off chemicals; only natural oils are used to create whiffing sensations such as this season's Orange Cranberry, Raw Ground Cinnamon, Roasting Chestnuts, Mulled Wine, Angel Food and Fresh Pumpkin, along with worthwhile standbys such as Pomegranate and Cucumber. A box of 18 votives runs $45, and a fancier three-wick column is $37.
Euro Day Spa & Salon
800 Formosa Ave., (407) 740-0444
When indulging all-about-me impulses, nothing feels as regal as having those rundown dogs detailed and polished, even if you have to pay someone to perform such a lowly task. (Warning: With many minorities in pedicure service, the experience can feel more imperialistic than regal, especially if you've seen the documentary "Mai's America;" videos available at www.marloporas.com.)
Based on need alone, it's hard to justify the cost of this practice on a regular basis. So what better guilt-remover than a prepaid tab at a spa, such as the standby Euro Day Spa & Salon. You have to love a place that sits next to a convenience store, facing an Interstate overpass, that can transform the everyday into an escape. Spa pedicures cost around $50 -- $10 extra for warm-paraffin therapy -- to sit in a vibrating chair with hydrojets swirling heated water over your toes. Figure that an annual investment of $600 buys a monthly rejuvenating and exfoliating experience fit for a queen. Tip generously to ease the conscience.
$40 to $60
A Mobile Detail Done Right
The same spirit that drives one to worship manicured feet can extend to other modes of transportation. Hard as we try, when coffee splashes around the car, the cleanup is never good enough. There's always the odor, and sometimes things start to grow.
There couldn't be any better way to step into the new year than to stop the mutant molding with a thorough hand-cleaning of the carpet and crevices at the hands of a professional. The guy at A Mobile Detail Done Right offered a $40 to $60 quote to come to a home or office -- a price that's on the low end of car detailing and less than some pedicures.
Stylish women's watch with GPS
Figuring that anything that tickled my fancy could be mine for the having, I was taken aback by my search for a woman's watch equipped with a Global Positioning System. Oh sure, there is a "cosmic purple" Wherify Wireless GPS Personal Locator Watch for children for $199 (www.wherifywireless.com). And several men's watches in the Timex Ironman Triathalon series, designed to be strapped on the upper arm (www.timex.com) come with GPS technology that'll track balls on the course and measure high climbs up the butte. But there's nothing for the modern woman with style who wants to look at a lighted dial any time and know the answer to the question, "Where am I?" Maybe it'll be available next year with an added feature that responds to the follow-up: "And why am I here?"
Bob Whitby, editor
Fire George W. Bush
Available from voters everywhere
Can we just please agree that Junior is a weeping pustule on the butt of history and rid ourselves of him ASAP? You want reasons? I've got more than you have patience: He's gutted the EPA, he wants to destroy public education, he's gutted the USDA (the people who inspect your food), he started two wars and can't finish either, he cuts taxes for the rich and laughs at the poor, he's run the national debt into the stratosphere, he's a draft-dodger, he wasn't elected in the first place, his foreign policy has made America despised the world around, he wants to destroy Medicare and Social Security, he's sent American soldiers to die and lied about the reasons for doing so, he sneers like that kid you wanted to kick the crap out of in seventh grade, he's directed the FBI to spy on people who aren't in lockstep with his warmongering ... and I'll spare you the other 6,349 reasons I can think of off the top of my head. As a big fat bonus, running Little George out of office means shooing John "I-Lost-to-a-Corpse" Ashcroft back to the puritanical cave from which he somehow escaped. Please, please, please. I've been really good this year.
Magellan Sportrak Pro-Marine handheld GPS
West Marine, 5135 Adanson St., (407) 644-8557; 7478 South Orange Blossom Trail, (407) 857-7337
One of those things that I look at and look at and look at, but can't bring myself to purchase. So just buy it for me.
Really, $270 is a meager price for you to pay so that I know where I am anywhere on earth, within 10 feet. This particular model is designed for marine navigation, meaning you'll sleep better knowing that I'm that much safer out on the water. What if I stray from a channel and run aground? What if I get lost while exploring the Caribbean? What if I run out of margarita mix and have no way of relaying my exact position to a resupply ship? How will you feel then?
Not to mention that with 17 megs of memory, this unit can also swallow maps of South America, Europe and other parts of the world whole, and tell me what time the sun rises and sets each day wherever I wander. But I'd be troubled if I believed my wanderings might cause you any consternation.
Chivas Regal 18
$55.99 for a 750 ml bottle
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
It's a blend, but frankly most people who insist on single-malts wouldn't know good scotch if it bubbled up out of the ground. And Chivas is good scotch. Smooth, smoky, dark and it doesn't rip up your throat going down. I have to admit that I've never actually tasted the 18-year-old variant, but at that age it can only be excellent. Here's the deal: I'll get a fire going in the fireplace, you send over a bottle, I'll break out the cut-crystal tumblers and toast your good taste. Sound good?
2004 Audi S4
880 SR 434 South, Altamonte Springs
What the hell, it's a wish list. Why not wish for one of the tightest, baddest, fastest, comfiest, snarlingest, most stylish sedans on the planet?
Last year, the S4 was an also-ran, despite its 250-horsepower, twin-turbo V6. Audi realized this, and shoehorned a 4.2 liter, 340-horsepower V8 into the engine bay to correct the problem. Now this car smokes. You'll want to rev it the 7,000-RPM redline just to hear the engine's beautiful voice. Couple the power with all-wheel drive, and the S4 is unflappable. At night the dashboard glows red like a fighter plane, and the car has four doors, meaning it's at least kinda sensible. The backseat is cramped, but screw it, you're putting the kids back there anyway.
As Freddy Mercury once gaily crooned, "I'm in love with my car." Only it isn't my car yet because you haven't bought it for me. First one to ante up gets a ride to the liquor store.
Sony Progressive Scan DVD Recorder/Player, RDR-GX7
I was trying to hold out until DVDs become the next casualty in the march to screw consumers by making them buy the same crap in a new format every decade or so, thereby leap frogging to the technology forefront, but my VCR is dying. As long as you're buying, I'll take this sweet little Sony that both records and plays DVDs. It's also got 3:2 pulldown technology, whatever that means.
Champion six-pack of socks, black
An aphoristic tale of my sock drawer: Once upon a time, I spent $9 for three pairs of 100 percent cotton Calvin Klein socks. The thick ones, very nice. The mistake I made, however, was getting a package of three different colors. Mere weeks later, I was left with only three socks, one of each color. What are the odds? Where do matching socks go?
The solution is huge packages of single-color socks, preferably black or white. That or wear mismatched socks. Damn socks.
Tornado Storm II foosball table
Back in my foosball glory days (college, a long time ago, don't ask), my partner Ken and I made it to the semifinals at a foosball tournament at a bowling alley. I played defense, as usual, while Ken handled the forwards and the five man. We were flat kicking ass. Then some longhaired dude ambled up, grabbed the handles and gave us a dose of humility I can still taste. Not only could I not stop this guy's shots, I couldn't even freakin' see them. I simply heard the sickening sound of ball after ball draining through our goal.
That evening, after six or seven more beers, I vowed that I would one day avenge the loss, if not on the long-haired dude than on some suitable stand-in. But I play so rarely that I never get any better. In fact, I'm getting worse. I need my own table upon which to hone the craft. Tornados are the standard in American bars. I've spent a lot of time in American bars, so that's the table I want.
By purchasing a foosball table for me, you will be helping to keep a dream alive. And is there anything more important than that, especially in these dark times?
Jessica Young, copy editor
Big Gulp, The New York Times
Which leaves me in something of a quandary when it comes to Christmas. Cultivating a taste for the simple things is all well and good, but come Christmas, I want stuff, like anyone else. So, in the interest of making my loved ones' lives easier, here are a few things I'd like to find under the tree.
I have a little addiction problem ... I read about 15 magazines every month, and when I come across a good newsstand, there are another 10 or so that I buy if I can find them. Subscriptions to Readymade ($14/year, www.readymademag.com), Dwell ($20/year, www.dwellmag.com), Print ($57/year, printmag.com), McSweeney's and the Believer ($100/year for both, www.mcsweeneys.net), BANG (59GBP/year, www.bangmagazine.co.uk), Giant Robot ($15/year, www.giantrobot.com, Bust ($15/year, www.bust.com), Venus ($15/year, www.venuszine.com), The Nation ($30/year, www.thenation.com) or Harper's ($12/year, www.harpers.org) would keep me out of trouble at Barnes & Noble for at least a year.
Where's my robot maid, dammit? I grew up watching "Jetsons" reruns as a tot. Subconsciously, I firmly believed that by the time I was old enough to drive and pay rent, I, like everyone else, would have a flying car, a mod triangle-collared minidress, and a clanky, cranky helpmeet just like the Jetsons' Rosie. I think the Roomba vacuum cleaner is as close as it's going to get this decade. A slick little flying saucer of a machine, it will navigate itself suckingly around the room while I eat bonbons on the couch.
$20 per month
I don't know why I haven't joined yet -- the logic and fairness of the whole Netflix system makes you feel like a chump for ever having paid late fees. Never heard of Netflix, you say? Well, it works like this: you join online, consult their database to make a list of movies you'd like to see, and they start sending DVDs to you, three at a time. When you're done watching, you send them back -- in a prepaid envelope, regular mail -- and they'll send you another from your list. Keep it for two days or two months, no matter. And the selection is pretty damn good -- it's not Stardust, but it blows Blockbuster out of the water.
XM satellite radio
$100 to $300, plus $10 per month
I have a long commute to work -- almost an hour, if traffic's not too bad. I haven't lived in Central Florida for long, but I feel qualified to say this: radio sucks here. It's not great anywhere, but it's just especially bad here, people, and I spend a lot of time in my car. So the question is: XM or Sirius? Sirius is tempting because they have an NPR channel, but I have it on good authority (the Weekly's own music editor, Jason Ferguson) that Sirius is doomed to go the way of the Betamax. XM offers 100 channels of music, news, sports, etc. and just might keep me from plowing my car into a vegetable stand, which I might do if I have to keep fruitlessly scanning the airwaves for another year.
I'm not about the karats -- or the carats (though if someone feels a real need to send a pair of one-carat princess-cut studs, platinum-set, my way, I guess I wouldn't refuse). Anyone can buy weight. That said, that little blue box from Tiffany is always a winner; you almost can't go wrong, no matter what's inside. I've been collecting Elsa Peretti, a jewelry designer who first became popular in the '70s, for almost 10 years, and one of my favorite things about her work is that it feels like you're wearing art, not just some hunk of metallurgy. I've had my eye on her Sevillana pendant as my next acquisition (available at Tiffany, three sizes, ranging from $140 to $210 in sterling silver).
Droplet Necklace from Kiln Enamel
If breakfast at Tiffany's is too much of a commitment, there are all kinds of jewelry designers selling their wares on the Internet these days, and the absence of a middleman means the prices are reasonable. Linea Nervenkitt (http://store.yahoo.com/nervenkitt/index.html), Kiln Enamel (www.kilnenamel.com), Cake Jewelry (www.cakejewelry.com) and DeDe Sullivan (www.dedemetal.com) make my favorite kind of jewelry: handmade but not hippie-ish, delicate but not cutesy-dainty.
CDs, DVDs and books
The closing titles of Sofia Coppola's lovely latest film, "Lost in Translation," reminded me just how great the Jesus and Mary Chain were once. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, Psychocandy has gone out of print, but it isn't too rare; it can be had, used, on eBay or Amazon's z-shops for around $15. BjÅ¡rk's "Greatest Hits" box set is the perfect Christmas gift (for me): I really want it, but I would never spend the money, so I'll be doomed to fondle it in record shops for the next few years and let it languish on my Amazon wish list. At $80, it consists of six discs (comprising almost all of the Elfin One's hits and remixes) and a (VHS? Why not a DVD?) tape with a BjÅ¡rk documentary and an interview.
Available only as a poorly transferred VHS video for years, Jacques Tati's modernist-absurdist classic "Playtime" is finally available on DVD from the Criterion Collection ... and has already gone out of print. But you could find a copy for around $40 if you try real hard. (C'mon, that's what eBay is for!) Unfortunately not a recipient of the Criterion treatment, "My Life to Live" is my favorite Godard film and a huge bargain at $15 (Fox Lorber World Class Cinema).
I have too many books already. But if you insist ... "Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses" (Princeton Architectural Press, $28) collects period photographs of the 60 houses this mid-century architect built in Sarasota. A new biography of Elsa Schiaparelli ("Shocking!," Yale University Press, $46) recounts the life of the Italian designer who hung out with Man Ray, invented the color "shocking pink," designed (and wore) a hat shaped like a pork chop and threatened to kick Coco Chanel's ass. And "Fears of My Life" (Manic D Press, $12.95), which was first published in zine form by Creativity Explored, a San Francisco art-therapy program, is a list of all of the author's fears, from birds to being in the wrong place at the wrong time to his favorite TV show being canceled. It's a good reminder of what's really important in this world (www.creativityexplored.org).
No bath products
And finally, please, for God's sake, no more bath products. If I took a bubble bath every night until I turn 70, I couldn't work my way through the stuff I've got already. You know who you are. Just buy me a 7-Eleven gift card (available in denominations from $5 to $500), OKfirstname.lastname@example.org
Send all gifts to:
111 W. Jefferson St., Suite 200
Orlando, FL 32801
Please note on the package who you are purchasing for, and include your return address so we can send a thank you card when we get around to it.