Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 Inappropriate (or Awesomely Cool) Gift List

And suddenly the season is upon us. How quickly we go from eating our sun-ripened tomatoes while trying to give away the excess basil we have grown in the garden and spending our weekends swimming in the pool or at the lake to roasting turkeys, decorating trees, and desperately searching for gifts to please our loved ones.

Americans are obsessed with shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving. Pictures and videos of the chaos and mayhem caused by crazed shoppers trying to get one hundred dollars off a television or Cabbage Patch Doll sends shivers down my spine. I can't imagine standing in a line in the wee hours of the morning to get inside a Wal-Mart.

We also now have Cyber-Monday, which is today, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday. Supposedly, this is the day one can reap extreme savings on items purchased via the internet--my preferred method. The problem with this is that for the past week most of the online stores have posted "Cyber Monday Sale Prices Today" on all their merchandise. So I am never sure if I should go ahead and purchase the annual Chia Pet for my sister on Saturday and trust I will get the lowest price available or if I will discover on Monday there was an extra two percent off had I waited. Then there is the possibility that may have the item for a dollar less than even though has free shipping. It's all too much. It brings me down. It ruins my holiday buzz.

What usually ends up happening to me is that I freeze. The pressure is too great. I can't go to a mall because it is too crowded. The internet has too many choices. I panic around December 20 and randomly purchase items for friends and family without any regards for their wants or needs. My only criteria becomes will it be delivered by Christmas. And my gifts end up being stupid.

If you can relate to any of this, then you will need my list of this year's inappropriate (or awesomely cool) gifts. In all the hustle and bustle for the perfect item, sometimes we lose sight at what is an acceptable present for someone. There are also those of you who just don't have very good taste in giving gifts (Aunt Mary, I'm looking at you and your sock/fruitcake combo). This list will help you in avoiding a few of the more controversial things that you may see through your glazed-over-been-up-for-two-days-straight-eyes after shopping this weekend. You may want to print this list out and keep it with you during the holiday season and refer back to it before making any hasty purchases.

And before you say it, you are welcome.

2012 Inappropriate (or Awesomely Cool) Gifts

1.  Dog Snuggies
Yes, if it isn't bad enough that Fido has to wear your crazy sweaters and rain boots out in public, now you can further humiliate him by insisting he wear a snuggie that matches yours while you curl up on the couch and watch Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo together. It comes in a variety of colors including blue, pink, tye-dye, and animal print.

Click to Purchase

(This dog is saying, "Please someone call the ASPCA.")

2. Diva Dish Sponges & Punk Rocker Scrubbers

Okay, this one falls in the Awesomely Cool category. The Diva Dish Sponge is the ultimate way to do your dishes.  Pair her up with Mr. Punk Rock Scrubber and you now have the ultimate dish washing set. Word of warning here: Although very awesomely cool, many significant others may be offended by receiving a gift that is to be used for cleaning, which is why they made the list. It's your call.

Click to purchase

3. The Santa Dreidel

Ah yes, nothing brings back memories of childhood Christmases long ago in the hills of southeastern Kentucky than a classic Santa Dreidel. The hours of fun my cousins and I...wait, what?

Click to purchase

4. Gangsta Rap Coloring Book

(See? The flower makes it fun!)

Christmas is for kids. Coloring books have been used by baby-mamas far and wide to keep their precious little ones busy while they tend to other business. Now, there is something to color other than tired ol' Dora the Explorer or Winnie the Pooh, yo. Nothing says I love you quite like a coloring book full of thugs. After all, Junior didn't choose the thug life, the thug life chose him.

Click to purchase

5. Dress Pant Sweats

That's right, ladies. You have had a lock on getting away with wearing "leggings" and "yoga pants" to work, BUT NO MORE! This one is for the fellas! Holla! Sorry, I am still in Gangsta Rap mode, let me compose myself.

Now when your man feels bloated on Tuesday morning after all the wings and beer he consumed at Buffalo Wild Wings watching Monday Night Football, he can be comfy and stylish at the office. In your face, Brooks Brothers, in your face!

Click to purchase

6. Can Be Global
(These are steeping in the essence of Big Ben.)
Paris in the spring? Got it! London in, er, the fall? Got that, too! Can Be Global captures the very essence of your favorite European city and sends it to you so you can share it with your loved ones. By capturing the essence, I mean they basically take what appears to be a paint can, fill it with air from Paris, London, Vatican City, etc., seal it up and charge you money for it. They offer Prague, but really, why would you want to smell Prague?

Click to purchase

7. Subtle Butt Excessive Gas Neutralizers
Is there someone on your list who just has that not-so-fresh scent? Perhaps someone who enjoys an abundance of spicy foods or pinto beans? If so, search no further for the perfect gift. Subtle Butt is a carbon patch that helps neutralize those small "mishaps" that sometimes happens. As their website states, "It won't stop gas from happening, but it will stop the ugly consequences and enable you to ride in elevators or nosh at cocktail parties without being worried." Nosh away, my friends, nosh away.

 Click to purchase

8. Images You Should Not Masturbate To by Graham Johnson

Everyone needs a good coffee table book. Ideally the book should not be controversial or sexual in nature. Images You Should Not Masturbate To fulfills both those requirements making it perfect. However, if you find a guest (or yourself) locked in the bathroom with this tome, then you may have a problem. On the bright side it could lead to another gift. Perhaps Groupon will have a deal on discounted therapy sessions.

One review from a reader of the book: "I love a challenge but this book is the ultimate."

 Click to purchase

9. i-Tattoo Electronic Tattoo Pen (for ages 6 and up)

Want to help your children get over their fear of needles while training them for a career at the same time? Then this educational toy is right up your alley!

Oh sure the product contains toluene, a chemical that "reportedly" do severe neurological harm, but if it is still on the market, it has to be safe.

There is nothing more heart-warming than seeing your eight-year old niece inking up her granny while the glow of the Christmas tree lights reflect off the tattoo gun. Good times.

Click to purchase

10. Squirrel Feet Earrings

There is nothing a lady hates more than walking into a holiday party and having the same dress or jewelry on as someone else there. Worry no more, fair lady. I venture to say not many others will have these pieces of taxidermy glamor. Even if she does, hers will be from an entirely different squirrel and completely different from yours. It's a win, win. Show the world how you do with this rodent bling. They see you rollin,' they be hatin.' Let 'em, because you're worth it.

Click to purchase

There you have it! If you have any more to share, I would love to see them. Share it with us below!

I am working on a literary version of the gift list for my book-loving friends, so keep an eye out for that this week.  Happy Shopping.

(Shut up, James Vanderbeek. I did not.)

Link to last year's Inappropriate Gift List:
2011 Inappropriate Gift List

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Healing Through Anger

Elections bring out both the best and the worst in America. We are an example to the world of how democracy works. We argue, debate, and fight our way to election day, then accept the results without violence or civil unrest. We prove to other nations that our system, while flawed, is still the best method for government. On the flip side, the ugliness of the campaigns, the unchecked amount of money that is now spent on running for office, and the in-your-face-24-hours-a-day-news that we are privy to makes us all bat shit crazy by the time November rolls around.

This year's election cycle brought us the longest, nastiest, and most vile campaigning anyone had ever seen. I was so sick of it all by election day, I just wanted it to be over. I longed to see feminine hygiene commercials on television. I missed Jamie Lee Curtis explaining to me how I could regulate my digestive system by eating her yogurt. I would have even settled for a Sham-Wow! infomercial.

Because this election was so very close, there are inevitably a lot of people who are now upset their candidate or issue or amendment didn't win on the ballot. That is understandable. Having to live through the relentless campaign season only to see your vote lose sucks eggs. It makes you feel bitter. I know. I lose a lot.

One great thing Americans always do after tense elections is come back together. Sometimes it takes a while, but eventually we get there. The political pundits say it often takes a "national scare or threat" to do it, but I don't think that is necessary. I believe that just good, old-fashioned shared misery does the trick just as well.

This weekend I started thinking of things that I hated more than the election, and was surprised to find a good number of items. I narrowed down my list to the top seven and thought I would share them with you. After reading these maybe you will think, "Hey, things aren't so bad after all. At least I don't have to suffer through #4 on the list."

You may even have better items than I listed that make us all more miserable. If so, please share with everyone in the comments. The more things we find in common to be mad at, the more alike we will become in each others eyes. Right? Am I right? I'm right. Right?


There is nothing quite like the anticipation of opening a new bag of Grippo's Bar-B-Q potato chips. As I hold that metallic, shiny, air-filled bag in my hands, my mouth begins to water. The rest of my body is jealous of the taste buds on my tongue because they are about to experience a storm of spicy, sweet, and salty like no other food can provide. But occasionally, you get a bum bag of the junk. Here is what I am expecting to see when I look into that open poke:

When I see this, though, it instantly causes rage to course through my body. I think bad thoughts of revenge and havoc-wreaking on the Grippo's factory and/or the person who bought the bag of chips at the grocery store (read: Andy):
A true Grippo is slathered in the spice mix until the just looks, well, almost hairy. It is a true sight to behold. The hairless Grippo is a sad thing that may as well be a Lay's KC Masterpiece chip. I'd just as soon not have a chip than be disappointed by this phenomenon. Thankfully, it is a rare occurrence. Most bags of Grippo's are delightfully coated and wondrously delicious.

For those of you who do not live where Grippo's are available and do not know what I am talking about I can say only two things: (a) Bless your heart, and (b) you may want to consider moving to an area where Grippo's are available.


The one time this was successful was with the Wizard of Oz, exactly 348 years ago. Since then, it has been used to end countless stories of all kinds. And each time it has pissed me off.

In fact, I'm even a little bit ticked at the Wizard of Oz. When this plot twist occurs, I feel like I wasted two hours watching a movie or a television show or significantly longer reading a book expecting a story but the main character took a nap instead, then woke up, felt bad, and decided to amuse me by telling me what she dreamed. I realize that the shows and books are not real to begin with, but still it makes me angry to know that the writer can't be bothered to tie up any loose ends in the story. It's as if he is 300 pages into writing his screenplay and realizes his deadline is the next day. The problem is he had 500 pages planned, but it is also free wing night at the local Hooters. Oh, and he is lazy. So, he picks a character, sticks her in a bed, wakes her up, stretching and yawning, and declaring she had the WILDEST dream. No, no, no, no, no.


Ask anyone who makes the best meatloaf, fried chicken, lasagna, or potato salad and he will likely say his mother. It doesn't matter if the meatloaf is actually the best or not. If mom made it, then it is great. Some of us are fortunate enough to not have to lie about this sort of thing. My mother really is the best cook I know. She can whip up a dinner in no time and it will be a culinary delight, and if she does fry chicken? Watch yourself. So when I see items on menus that say "Better than Mom's Liver and Onions," I know it isn't true because it is impossible. But if I were craving liver and onions anyway, I may go ahead and order it. When it arrives at my table, I would instantly start comparing it my mothers and it would start losing. This process of shaming my liver and onions would continue until I was finished with the meal and called my mother to tell her about it.

 Another example of this is restaurants who are so cocky they name the entire joint after mom, not just a menu item. No, this is not Mom's Kitchen. If it were Mom's kitchen, there would not be tablecloths, fabric napkins, and choices of what to eat. There would be a stack of plates, a roll of paper towels, and a refrigerator overflowing with condiments of every sort and a sign attached to the front with a 1998 UK Wildcat Basketball magnetic schedule that says "This ain't Burger King. You Can't Have It Your Way. You Can Have It My Way. Or You Can Have None At All."

Just 'cause.

5. If Like _____, You'll Love ______ Products

I am the first to admit, I have purchased these products which is one reason I am qualified to say how much they anger me. In fact, I am pretty sure I purchased that exact bottle of "If you like Giorgio, you'll love PRIMO!" for my girlfriend in the fifth grade (sorry, Michelle).

If you love a designer fragrance, save up and buy it, because if truth be known, every single one of those imposters have the exact same smell, and it's the scent of sadness and regret.

I also want to go a step further and say that it angers me when people buy imposter brands of purses, wallets, bags, and totes. If it is being sold in a flea market, out of the trunk of a car, or on a side street in Chinatown, it ain't Louis Vuitton. I learned this, as I did with PRIMO!, the hard way:
The strap broke the first time I used the stupid fake imposter bag.

Please do not mistake "If you love _____, then you will like _______" products with "As Seen On TV" items. ASOTV items are remarkable and golden. They would never make me angry. They bring joy, laughter, and time-saving new ideas into the world.


I am a clean person. I shower regularly. I wash my face and hands throughout the day. I work indoors in a clean environment. So why is it at the end of each day, my iPhone looks as if a teething baby has used it for a chew toy before throwing down in a dirt pile? Perhaps it is the Otter-Box case I have for it, perhaps I sweat out of my ears. Something is happening to this phone, and it is ugly, ruthless, and unforgiving.

Look at it. Nasty. It's embarrassing, and it just makes me angry. Am I the only one that has this problem? If so, it's going to be really awkward.


I don't think an explanation is needed.

So there you have my list of the seven items that anger me more than the election. I think all of us can agree these are some pretty universal miseries. What about you? What angers you more than the election? Leave a comment or picture below. And someone, anyone, please say that #6 happens to you as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Don't Always Get What You Want

I woke up the morning after Ronald Reagan won the 1980 Presidential election with an excitement usually reserved for Christmas morning or my own birthday. I'd concluded by listening to my parents talk at dinner and watching the evening news that the price of everything we bought had been extremely too high for way too long. In the world of a ten-year old boy in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, that meant your weekly allowance (minus what you had used for school lunch and snacks) didn't buy you much at the Magic Mart on your Saturday trip to Hazard. The proof of this inflation, though, hit home in September of 1980 when the laundromat located on Main Street in Hyden raised the price of their Coca-Cola vending machine from a quarter to thirty-cents. I was outraged. A quarter was one thing, but now having to scrape up a nickel as well for a can of pop? It was too much for me. Something had to be done, and from what I could gather, Ronald Reagan was going to fix it. According to my parents, and apparently most of the nation, he was going to usher in good times and lower prices for us all.

So, on Wednesday, November 5, 1980, as soon as school was over for the day I headed to the laundromat to see democracy and free trade in action. I was stunned to find the Coca-Cola machine still operating with a thirty-cent charge. Had no one told the manager of this place about the election? Maybe Coca-Cola had been for the other guy and was now refusing to lower the price of their product. Pepsi had not increased its price, yet. I contemplated my life as a Pepsi drinker, and to be honest, it was bleak. I watched other people causally walk over to the Coke machine, feed it both a quarter AND a nickel, and walk away with a beverage as if Ronald Reagan had not just won and promised us all lower Coke prices immediately.

I turned and left the obviously Communist-led laundromat in a huff. I stomped to my mother's office and told her the news. I wanted her to share in my outrage and disgust. I wanted her to call the newspaper and demand a story be written. I wanted her to get Ronald Reagan down here immediately if not sooner.

(Me, ten-years old)
She tried to explain to me that just because a particular candidate says something while he is campaigning for office, does not mean that it always comes true. There are often obstacles to overcome and new laws to be written. Lots of people have to learn to work together again and this takes time. Though Reagan had promised to help the economy, he had only won the election last night. He wasn't even President yet, and wouldn't be for a couple more months. Even then, there was no guarantee that the price of pop would ever dip below thirty-cents again, and at thirty-cents it was still a pretty good bargain.

I came away from that little civics lesson from mom with the following: Reagan hadn't taken office yet. This would be fixed in a couple of months.
(The joke was on me, wasn't it, Mr. Reagan?)

The price of Coca-cola never returned to a quarter. The letter I wrote to President Reagan fell on deaf ears. The grassroots campaign, "Citizens For Lower Pop Prices," never took off. It was my first experience in being disappointed by a politician. It would not, by a long shot, be the last but I didn't know that then. I decided to make the best of the situation. I certainly wasn't going to become a Pepsi drinker. I loved Coca-Cola and would stick with it no matter what. It was my drink.

Sometimes you don't always get what you want, but you learn to live with it and make the most of it.

My relationship with both Coca-Cola and President Reagan smoothed out over the years. I learned to live with them both in my life, and things were not nearly as bad as I had first imagined they would be. The Earth did not stop turning, and I adjusted to the new reality of living in a thirty-cent Coca-Cola world.

(Oh, HELL NO!)
It wasn't until Reagan's second term that Coca-Cola decided to come out with New Coke and all Hell truly broke loose. But, I am not going there tonight. The wounds are still too deep.

Monday, November 5, 2012

'Twas the Night Before the Election

'Twas the night 'fore the election, when all the through the nation,
Not a creature was stirring, not even news stations.
The voting machines were lined up with care,
In hopes an electric generator would soon be there.

The candidates were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of victory speeches danced in their heads;
And Ann in her 'kerchief and Michelle in her cap,
Had just settled down for an early November nap,

When out in Ohio there arose such a clatter,
Carl Rove sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to Columbus he flew like a flash,
Stopping first in Cincinnati for some much needed cash.

The moon on the crest of Ohio State U,
Gave enough luster to prove that something was askew,
When what to Rove's wondering eyes should appear,
But Dave Axelrod waving, holding a six-pack of beer.

Rove was older, more experienced, lively and quick,
He knew in a moment it must be some trick.
But Axelrod smiled and shook his head so,
And told Rove it was over, it was time to let go.

"Not Barack, not Mitt, not Biden or Ryan,
Not Warren or Brown, they've all stopped trying.
No more campaigning, no more at all!
The time has run out! We've hit the wall!"

As Rove looked at Dave he thought, "What's with this guy?"
Does he expect me to stop? To completely not try?
I've got millions of dollars left to spend
I'm not going to stop and drink a beer with him.

And then, in a twinkling, they both heard a noise,
Suddenly they were surrounded by several girls and boys.
The kids circled the two partisan men,
And one girl stepped forward to politely address them.

She was dressed in the flag, all red, white, and blues,
And her skin was multicolored, both light and dark hues.
The history of our country shined in her eyes,
She glared at the two as if she meant their demise.

"We are the future of leaders of this land.
We have endured your campaigns all we can stand!
You both play dirty, you both play crooked,
You neither tell the truth, and you both cook the books.

“We are tired of the lies and parties of tea,
We are tired of talking about women's bodies,
We are sick of talking about the 47 percent,
This will not happen when I am President.

"You’re both owned by PACs that should be put on a shelf."
Axelrod laughed when she said this, in spite of himself.
"Children, go home and stop this ruse,
Come back when youre rich and we'll listen to your views."

The kids spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
Learning the issues; no response would be knee-jerk;
None of them leaning too far left or right,
They stayed in the middle, with common sense in sight.

This election is done and it was too ugly and hollow,
But it's not the same course future ones must follow.
We must meet in the middle, teach our children to trust,
America is still great, but it’s up to ALL of us.