By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
2. Do not buy me clothes, as you have lousy taste. Look in the mirror. Really, who told you that shirt looked good on you?
3. If, for some reason (say, you've been in a car accident and sustained head trauma), you feel the need to buy me clothes, make sure it's from a store reasonably close to my house--within walking distance, preferably. I do not like to be put out when returning gifts, and I still have that sweater you bought me last year from Land's End because I can't figure out how to return crap that came from a catalog.
4. Do not think making a donation in my name to a charitable organization is the same as purchasing me a gift. Christmas is about making me feel good, not you. Selfish.
5. Do not buy me compact discs. I've been to your house and seen your music collection, and, yes, I'm still making fun of it.
6. For the love of God, I do not need stationery, picture frames, coffee mugs with inspirational sayings and/or jokes and/or cartoon characters on them, a desk clock, a bar set and/or martini shaker, candle holders, bottle openers, cologne and/or some doll from a '70s TV show I liked when I was a kid. You gave me that shit last year.
7. I, too, shop at Target and know you did not hand-prepare that gift basket of coffee and biscotti, so stop pretending you're "handy."
8. Do not bake me cookies and/or brownies for Christmas. You're not Martha Stewart.
9. Gift certificates make a nice gift. This way, you can help me pay for other people's presents.
10. Porn makes a nice gift, though please stick to the straight-ahead stuff. The amateur bondage DVD boxed set you gave me two years ago didn't do the trick. You were right, though--your mom is hot.
11. If you feel the need to make me a gift, stop right now. It's so much easier to go to the store and buy me something. Besides, I can't return your homemade present, unless I really want to hurt your feelings. And I might.
12. Actually, I would like a nice tie.
It's Christmas every day in the newspaper biz--ask the UPS man, our Santa in the brown shorts. Hey, we get free stuff so you don't have to. Better we do the sorting and judging than the layperson who may otherwise think that just because a DVD didn't cost nuthin' it must be good. (You clearly haven't been to a free movie screening, where the audience will clap at the end of anything, even Cheaper by the Dozen, just because the ticket was gratis.) So I've taken the time to sort through my office and present you with the best presents of Christmas 2003--best just because they're in my office and I didn't have to scour the malls or the Internet or, well, anywhere but my office. Which makes 'em extra-awesome.
100 Years of the World Series DVD: Pretty much what it sounds like, without the boring stuff--namely, baseball--getting in the way. I hope my father doesn't mind getting a gift without the plastic wrapping.
The Art of Marvel Comics hardback book: Oooh, look at all the pretty pictures by Alex Ross, John Cassaday, Andy and Adam Kubert and Tim Sale. For the straight-up geek who likes comic books but doesn't actually have the time or interest to read those...whatchacallem...words.
The Great Escape PlayStation 2 game: Upside: You get to play as Steve McQueen. Downside: You will never actually be Steve McQueen. Upside: You may not die of cancer. Downside: You might.
Robbie the Reindeer DVD: Upside: Features Britney Spears. Downside: It's just her voice. Upside: From the people who brought you Four Weddings and a Funeral and Wallace and Gromit. Downside: See upside, depending on your tolerance of the Brits.
Time Crisis 3 PlayStation 2 game: Just like the arcade version, where you and your life partner shoot at bad guys, duck to reload, then shoot and duck and shoot and duck some more and then retire to your yacht to have sex with each other to celebrate.
Guinness World Records 2004: Buy for the trippy, three-dimensional reflective cover (it's, ahem, dope), keep for the information inside you didn't know you needed to know but won't be able to live without (Most Poisonous Fungi, Most Lethal Smog, Most Hangings Survived, Most People Killed in a Terrorist Act). Hey, what happened to World's Longest Fingernails?
Singing Mr. Burns doll from The Simpsons: Don't know anyone who wants or needs this, so if you've got, like, five bucks, gimme a ring. He sings "For the Love of Money." Ah, Christmas.