Archive for December, 2011

Song of the Week: “Chanukah in West Virginia” (Scott Simons)

With the exception of The Hallelujah Chorus and the Charlie Brown soundtrack, I loathe Christmas music, partly because most songs are like Katy Perry tunes — fun and catchy the first ten times you hear them, fine for the next twenty to one hundred plays, and irritating thereafter — but mostly because they function as an omnipresent reminder of ALL OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO ACCOMPLISH BY DECEMBER 25, most of which involve spending money on stuff no one really wants.

So. I won’t use this space to promote a Christmas song because we’ve all heard too many of them already. Instead, here’s a fun and heartfelt Chanukah song with a homespun video that I love — it’s like a digital equivalent of the shoe box dioramas we used to make in the days before Michael’s craft stores. Happy Chanukah . . . merry almost-Christmas . . . and a joyous new year to all.

“Chanukah in West Virginia,” Scott Simons

 

The Best Gifts for People You Don’t Like: Wine Hourglasses

I don’t really like to make fun of something from the Uncommon Goods catalog because it supports independent artists, but . . . I will.

First, though, let me say that Uncommon Goods has some really cool, unique, reasonably priced stuff. Like . . . recycled animal accessories! Which aren’t, as the name implies, made from recycled animals (ew) but from from “yarn spun from the leftover materials from apparel and upholstery factories that would have been discarded.” Which doesn’t sound like recycling to me, but whatever. They’re cute! (Also, apparently sold out, but there’s always next year.)

They also have whimsical items like Gummy Bear Lights . . .

. . . and unique jewelry like a Nest Egg necklace that would be perfect for someone who loves birds, who’s about to have a baby, or maybe even for someone just wrote an egg-themed novel. Hey, it could happen.

Finally, for the passionate defenders of the Nosy (which, forgive me, but I think I still think is stupid), they have a wooden eyeglass holder.

But that’s not the best worst gift Uncommon Goods offers. Oh no, if you’ve got to buy something for someone you don’t like, the wine hourglass wins, hands down. From the catalog:

The Sands of Wine

Drink in the moment with these captivating wine glasses, designed with a working hourglass that celebrates the beauty of time spent toasting food, wine and friendship. Flip a glass to spark its timer–and the table conversation–over vibrant streams of sand swishing and crashing for ten minutes a side.

“But wait!” some of you say (hopefully to yourselves). “They’re kind of cool looking!” And they are, sort of. If you like that kind of thing. Or maybe you say, “What a fun conversation piece!” Or: “It’s like a classy drinking game — you’ve got ten minutes to finish your wine before the hourglass runs out.”

Exactly! You flip the hourglass to “spark its timer,” then flip it back so you can pour the wine. You finish the wine in under ten minutes (go you!) and . . . why yes, thanks, I’d love another glass or Merlot. But then — whoops! You forgot to reset the hourglass. So you flip the glass back over, but instead of sparking the timer, you launch the wine over yourself, the couch, the carpet, and your best friend’s boyfriend whom you’ve never really liked.

So: you might not want to put these on your Christmas gift. But if your best friend is looking for ideas for her boyfriend? You know just the thing.

More Best Worst Holiday Gifts

Forever Lazy

Nosy

Zapi Toothbrush Sanitizer

A Pig

A signed book makes a great holiday gift. Click here for free, personalized bookplates.

 

 

 

The Best Worst Holiday Gifts: Forever Lazy

 12 Days Till Christmas

With thanks to my friend Jill Smolinski, today I present Forever Lazy, an adult fleece onesie for those who are ready to move on from the Snuggie to something just a little less dignified. It’s a bit of a challenge to find unintended humor from something that touts “zippered hatches in front and back, for great escapes when duty calls,” because surely the manufacturers know they are being funny, right? Right?

Fellow Americans, consider this: as a nation of immigrants, our ancestors left everything behind to come to a strange and sometimes hostile world. Why? Because they hoped to give their children and grandchildren a better life. So, yeah — they’d be psyched to know that we’ve turned into a nation of 24-hour jammie wearers. Thanks for the better life, guys!!!

More Best Worst Holiday Gifts:

Nosy

Zapi Toothbrush Sanitizer

A Pig

Wine Hourglasses

A signed book makes a great holiday gift. Click here for free, personalized bookplates.

 

 

 

The Best Gifts for People You Don’t Like: A Pig

18 Days Till Christmas

Every couple of years, my husband and I get so disgusted with the commercialism of Christmas that we threaten to give everyone a goat. No, not an a real goat — at least to the gift recipient — but a donation of a goat in their name through Heifer International, which does amazing work building communities in developing nations. From their website:

With gifts of livestock and training, we help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. It’s called Passing on the Gift – a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace.

Cool, huh? Well, maybe not to a kid who was hoping for a Wii, but for a business associate drowning in Harry & David pears — you can do good and look good at the same time. (So what if your business associate thinks you’re a liberal fruitcake. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.)

Heifer doesn’t stop at goats. They have sheep, llamas, rabbits, heifers (of course) — even honeybees. They also have pigs.

A friend who relies on Heifer for all of her holiday gift giving confessed that she saves the pigs for, well, the pigs. In a perfect world, no one would give gifts to people they don’t like, but business is business (or so people tell me), and necessary gestures are necessary gestures. So how do you do good and look good while leaving someone with the creepy suspicion that they’ve been dissed? You got it, Babe.

More Best Worst Holiday Gifts:

Nosy

Zapi Toothbrush Sanitizer

Forever Lazy

Wine Hourglasses

 

A signed book makes a great holiday gift. Click here for free, personalized bookplates.

 

The Best Worst Holiday Gifts: The Zapi Toothbrush Sanitizer

21 Days Till Christmas

Reader, I was feeling discouraged. I perused the Frontgate catalog: no ridiculous gifts. I checked out L.L. Bean: nothing non-essential for a self-sufficient, dog-loving, fashion-averse New Englander (none of which I am — but a girl can dream).

I’d just about given up when I just finished reading a back issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and bingo! I fell across an ad for a Violight Zapi Toothbrush Sanitizer.

What? You don’t own a toothbrush sanitizer???? Oh. My. God. I can’t believe you’ve gone all these years without the ninjas. No, wait: I can’t believe you’ve survived with all those nasty dirty ickies on your toothbrush. You should be dead by now.

Here’s the ad copy from the Times:

A Spa For Your Toothbrush. Give the gift of health this holiday season. Violight’s Zapi Toothbrush Sanitzers keep your toothbrush germ free. UV light eliminates 99% of strep, staph, e.coli, salmonella, listeria, and even H1N1.

Wait — woah. H1N1? Presumably, if you’ve got swine flu on your toothbrush, it’s because . . . you’ve got swine flu. When did toothbrushes become communal property? Unless you’ve got a full-body sanitizer, zapping your toothbrush with UV rays won’t accomplish much. As for the other stuff, here’s my advice: don’t store your toothbrush in the toilet.

You’re welcome.

I applaud personal hygiene. And I’m all over the Purell thing. What’s more, having contracted the chicken pox at the age of 28, when I  not only didn’t have children, I didn’t even know any children, I appreciate that supermarkets supply antibiotic wipes so you don’t pick up stray viruses from the carts. But unless you’ve got some recurring oral infections, sanitizing your toothbrush seems a little silly.

Also, what kind of a gift is this? “The family couldn’t help noticing your breath issues (though we’ve tried). Here’s to a sweet smelling 2012!”

Then again, while I have neither the time nor the inclination to validate Violight’s claims (hey, I’m a novelist, not a journalist), others have given it a big thumbs up. According to the Violight website, esteemed medical professionals including Oprah and — wait for it — Rachel Ray!!!! have endorsed this product. So you can make the call for yourself.

As for me, if I’m looking for a way to keep my toothbrush clean — or at least cleanish — I’ll opt for something like this:

 

More Best Worst Holiday Gifts:

Nosy

Forever Lazy

A Pig

Wine Hourglasses

 

A signed book makes a great holiday gift. Click here for free, personalized bookplates.