Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last Minute Holiday Shopping Still Needs Some Law and Order

The Holiday Gift Giving Season Needs some Law and Order.

It's the last weekend to go shopping for the Holidays. What the fuck were you doing with your time that you've waited this long? Well, enough questions on what you were doing. More along the lines of what will you do now? Don't forget to pack a cyanide pill with your wallet as I'm sure going two miles near a mall or shopping center this weekend will bring you to the point of insanity.

This last minute gift shopping leads to the easy out. That is, folks just grab the closest random crap on the shelf that isn't blocked by shopping carts and call it a day. This can lead to some pretty bad gifts. Sure you try to justify them to yourself as it being something the person may like if they open themselves up to it but it's just something that will get turned into one of the three R's; Returned, Regifted or Recycled.

I have had my share of terrible gifts. Enough that even though I know you total strangers will give me nothing for Christmas, I still feel the need to write out a helpful guide to point you away from getting anyone any of these things. That and I also wanted to comment on these because they were just so damn insanely out there that I felt the need to get an audience while I lampoon them. So enjoy while I talk about awful gift ideas!

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Field Kit

Who is letting their kids watch CSI that there would be enough interest to market a personal field kit to anyone? I get the idea. You want to get your snot nosed brat from playing that blasted ol' Playstation wii 360 and get into something educational. But exactly is this going to teach them? Perhaps how to enhance their digital photos. I can't wait to hear some 12 year olds discuss if the semen stains on the victim were left postmortem and what blunt object was used to kill them. It's like clue, only with more dead bodies!

If this kit doesn't come with a big book of Gil Grissom's witty one liners to use whenever you find a dead body, it would be a crime. A terrible terrible crime. If that's the case, someone better get the field kit ready cause I feel like killing whoever dropped the ball on that one. Also look out for the CSI: Miami field kit. It comes with sunglasses that need to be removed whenever you get to a "crime scene" and it comes in an orange-ish color case. There's also a CSI: New York field kit, but no one ever plays with that one so don't bother.

This gift is terrible for many reasons. If you have a kid, don't let the watch CSI. If you have someone who has a strange obsession with death that would lead you to think this would be good gift, you should just head over to the Los Angeles County Coroner since they actually have a gift shop. Remember the day you identified that dead body or dropped off the dental records with a shirt and a lapel pen! That's a discussion in itself best saved for another time.

I'm waiting for whatever Without A Trace will try to market towards the kids market. How about some Dexter plastic sheets for kids? Now that'll sell!

Exclusive Police Officer Knife Replica Honors Those Who Serve and Protect!

What better way to show your sensitive side than with a deadly weapon. It's like saying, "Hey, I'm sensitive, but not so sensitive that I won't stab you in the gut if you even so much as suggest that I'm gay, because I'm not gay. I just like really gay art."

While I'm an avid opponent of stabbing in general, I would seriously recommend giving this knife as a gift to anyone who has the potential of going off their rocker and stabbing someone. It just seems appropriate to me that such a poorly conceived symbol of justice be co-opted for the dreadful business of stabbing. If this knife ended up a murder weapon, then it would truly be art.

For some reason this is labeled as a replica. I guess police really do carry these things around, which seems impractical, but I'm never one to question the law. I don't know if the miniature gun on the knife actually fires, or if those little belt pouches the knife is wearing contain any useful crime fighting instruments. I would hope so, otherwise why on earth would they even be there?

Even if you did some have family member who seemed off the beaten path and had some samurai sword fetish, would you really want to supply them with a knife? You do realize YOUR prints are now on future exhibit A, right?

AQUA DOTS (My first GHB Lab!)

I sometimes question the existence of a God.. Ok, not really. I seriously don't believe in that big fairy tale. But if I did, this would be that sign that he has one hell of a sense of humor. This was Toy of the year. On paper, it looks pretty neat. It's dots and water. What could go wrong? As we found out in just one of the many recalls this year, a whole lot!

The comedy behind this toy is that the dots that make up the toy of this, when consumed by stupid children who like to eat anything and everything, act much like the date rape drug. I'm sure this could be a better way to transition to the game of playing Doctor for young children, but it seems that parents didn't really want their kids preparing themselves for the future club/dating scene.

On the other hand, compared to the mass amount of toys being recalled because of lead these days, Aqua Dots seems like the safer alternative. What's the worse that can happen? Your kid gets knocked out for a couple of hours and you get to do whatever it is you wanted to do without the need of a baby sitter. Win/Win! A whole lot cheaper than buying NyQuil to buy you some alone time with the significant other.

SPEED STACKS or simply plastic Cups...

Seriously... What the fuck! What kind of shitty gift is this. Cross that, what kind of shitty toy is this? Christmas time or any other time. What the hell is this abortion of a toy? It's cup stacking and it's claiming it's a sport. I'm sure you can put the words Competitive in front of anything but it wont make it a sport. It's plastic cups. Green plastic cups. That's not a toy, those are party supplies. The two wouldn't have any use as a gift anyway. No one will want to drink from cups used to stack anyway. You don't have to be Monk to be deathly afraid of drinking from these cups.

Imagine little Timmys mindset on Christmas day. He's hoping for that Guitar Hero III and he unwraps this. You might as well go around the mall screaming that Santa isn't real as that's the only way you can shatter someone's Christmas any worse. I'm sure you would get a better reaction having them open up some underwear or a poorly made sweater than you would get after giving this awful gift.

If you have the terrible idea to get anyone this, you should just forget going to Toys 'r' us and head down to the local party supply store and buy those red plastic cups. At least with those your kid could make five bucks a cup at any given college kegger.

Even with them glowing in the dark. You're better off just getting drunk with the cups than try to fumble around in the dark with them. Yes, they may glow in the dark. Everything else around it, namely the table you're stacking them on, does not. Use the dark for something more productive if you get this gift. Crying in one of the corners comes to mind.

Spider-Man's Awesome to the Max Bike WebWorld Racers!

Spider-Man 3 was such an epic film. That fight scene with Venom in the construction site and then that really wicked bike race with the Sandman after.... Oh, you don't remember that scene? Well, neither do I since it never happened. Perhaps it remains on the cutting room floor taunting us like some itch on your gum you can't scratch. Perhaps it's better that we never saw that scene.

Let's take a few moments to figure out what is going on in this toy anyway. You have the Sandman, a character who has the power to make himself sand and some other stuff, and Spider-man, who can swing by webbing he produces out of his hands, riding motorcycles in what can only be described as Webworld Racers. Now that I think about it, the film's conclusion would have been a whole better resolved if Spidey and Sandman decided to settle their dispute on the streets, like real super powered freaks do!

I know there's crappy movie tie in products but this is just awful. Not even getting into the typical "nerd rage" but why is Spider-man even on a motorcycle? He can swing around the city. Is this some sort of attempt to make kids less violent but much more interested in illegal street racing? I'm sure the marketing for this went down with someone really happy finding out that kids like Spider-man and Motorcycles. Let's put the two together and get the ultimate toy possible! Enjoy your six figure salary, Mr. Toy Maker.

If you have to get your kid an action figure, just get him the action figure. Forget the bells and whistles as it's just pointless gimmicks. The kid is going to have a better time using his imagination creating whatever wacky situations and street races he wants to put the action figures in. I knew someone who made an epic 13 part story with a single Tie Fighter toy. This was in High School mind you. Amazing what an imagination can do. You don't even have to pay for one.

Double Dragon Figurines on "Flaming" Crystalline Bases! Or anything else as nerdy as this.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that I'm geeky. Not to mention Double Dragon was a pretty fun game back in the day. There was no Grand Theft Auto during that time so it was the only way I could wander the streets bicycle kicking lesbians and whipping people. Although, there was that time when you were in a helicopter and somehow there were like 40 guys crammed into the front of the helicopter and they would come out to fight you one by one like it was some sort of clown helicopter. That was pretty great, at least up until Abobo showed up and you had to stop messing around and get serious.

What I'm trying to say is that there comes a point in life when you are in the back of a helicopter and you've just been tossing punk after punk out the open door without any hassle, then suddenly this huge dude comes out and you start to realize that you could easily wind up like one of those helicopter-defenestrated punks if you don't start taking life seriously. Up until now this has all been fun and games, but this crap has to stop before we degrade humanity any further.

This huge ridiculous sculpture depicts two dragons that are either getting ready to kill each other, or getting ready to perform the physical act of love. To be honest, it's kind of hard to tell what exactly is going on because the artists seem to be 12-year-olds with ADD. I think the dragons are either shitting fire, or the fire is reaching up to give them some kind of magical enema. For reasons beyond me, you can see a picture of two heroic humans and also another dragon in the fire. I can understand the fiery depiction of the humans, since that serves to remind the viewer that somebody out there might want to claim the mysterious sword in the middle of the figurine. I don't know what the depiction of the other dragon is for, since there are already two dragons getting ready to go at it. That third one is really one dragon too many. Fire is pretty intense by nature, so there is simply no justification for painting monsters on the side of it.

I don't know if the red or blue dragons have any plans to try to claim that sword in the middle, but I kind of doubt it. What's a dragon going to do with a sword? If that were a big thing of French bread instead of a sword, I'd wager a pretty penny that they were fighting over it. As is, it seems like it would be in the best interest of both dragons to team up and protect the sword, lest some hotheaded human procure it and then stab one or the other.

The biggest problem for me is not that this is an utterly pathetic piece of shit, but that it's an utterly pathetic piece of shit that you can't in good conscience display anywhere. Believe me, I have a lot of utterly pathetic pieces of shit around my place. Where on earth do you put a thing like this? Unless you have some sort of Altar of Virginity built in your basement, there is no appropriate place for such a monstrosity, and this is coming from someone who has Captain Jack's broken compass up on the wall. And if you can think of a place you would put one of these, please do me the honor of punching your own stupid face as hard as possible.

You see these a lot at stores like Spencer's and that sword store in the mall that you never want to set foot in. Really, this is a terrible gift. And if you know someone who would really love something like this don't encourage them by getting them more of the same. Like a dog who just took a big one on the carpet. You don't encourage him. You grab a newspaper, or in this case a comic book, and you smack him a couple of times.

Gift Cards

While I have recieved many gift cards in the past, used them and appreciated having them. I just don't see the point of a gift card. It's not a very good gift. All you are doing is giving the store an interest free loan. When you get right down to it, you're telling the person one of many things. None of which are really anything very good.
1. I don't know you, but I felt obligated to give you something.
2. I know you, but I don't know anything about you to get you something.
3. I like you, but not enough to get you what you like.
4. I was in line buying actual items for people and remembered I didn't buy anything for you yet.

If you're going to go down that road, why send something of cash value? Isn't it better to just put some cash in their hand if that's the intent? Yes, I'm fully aware that cash seems like the person put in no effort. But is going to Best Buy or Game Stop and buying a gift card that much more effort than putting cash in their hand? Just send best wishes if you really have no idea what the person will like.

What if the store you get a gift card from isn't a store they don't shop at? You are now forcing that person into going to that place and spending money on stuff they normally wouldn't even care about anyway. I know the last few gift cards, the amount that folks have given me was not enough to cover the cost of whatever it was that I bought. So the gift was really just like 25-50% off coupon.

There's a report out that says that 8 Billion a year is lost in unredeemed, lost or expired gift cards. Not to mention the hidden fees attached to them. That's double the amount of loss from debit and credit card fraud a year in America, which is 3.5 billion. Much like that hidden twenty you find on laundry day, people lose gift cards or put them away and they can be drained slowly by all those hidden fees. Only with the twenty, when you find it a couple of months later, it's still worth twenty bucks.

The scary aspect to this is that gift cards are very popular. The same study showed that 88% of shoppers will buy two or more gift cards this season and that gift cards will average over 26.3 billion over the holiday season.

Why bother? With a gift card the person now has to drive down to the mall soon after Christmas and face the mass crowds of returns and post-season sales to find something they may like. Just give cash. It saves you the trip to the store before Christmas and it saves the person the trip after Christmas. Even if it's a buck or two, I doubt they will be offended. At the very least not any less offended than if you were just giving them a gift card.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Christmas season. I love the lights, the seasons tidings and cheer. The return of eggnog and the excuse to eat a ton of Ham and of course get sick from Tamales. I don't like the idea of being forced into giving someone something. Do it if you want to. Do it if you honestly see something the person may like the item. Don't do it because you feel obligated to do so. That's the time you get into the bad gifts. I'd much rather get a seasons greeting than get a crappy gift.

While a crappy gift shows me you had the couple of seconds to think of me, not giving me a gift offers me the ability to not have to worry about what I'm getting you. Think of it as time saved. The gift to me will be that I didn't have to waste any time trying to find you something you would more than likely hate. If I know you well enough, and you knew me well enough, maybe then the gifts would have some personal touch to them. Otherwise, I'd rather not spend my weekend driving around malls and dealing with credit card bills six months into the new year. A simple Merry Christmas and the knowledge that you do not wish ill on me is more than enough.

Merry Christmas!

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