1. This will sound odd coming from me, but I am just being honest. Do not buy me expensive things, as I am, by nature, ungrateful and will likely return what you've purchased in exchange for cash, which I will then lose gambling and/or whoring. And do not buy me something expensive thinking I will then feel it necessary to purchase you something of equal worth. I am more inclined to think, "Sucker." But if you must, I do need an iPod.
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.
Not long ago, we at Full Frontal received Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art. Hill, the erstwhile Orlando Magic small forward with an ankle held together by Scotch tape and spit, has amassed a rather impressive collection over the years, including pieces by Romare Bearden, Phoebe Beasley and John Coleman.
We did a little digging and found that Hill isn't alone. There are many local athletes who also have rather unique collecting tastes. Here's a sample:
Troy Hambrick, Cowboys: Most running backs have trophy rooms full of footballs, each commemorating a personal achievement: a touchdown, perhaps, or maybe a 100-yard game. Possibly a record-breaking run, if the player is, say, Emmitt Smith. Hambrick, on the other hand, keeps a ball from every gain of one yard or less. It's quite an accumulation: Recently the back had to add a separate wing to his home just to house the balls. "I take a pounding to get these balls, but man, it's worth it," Hambrick said after the Cowboys' ass-whupping in Philadelphia as he cradled a dozen or so pigskins headed for his wall.
Mike Modano, Stars: Modano's money troubles shouldn't come as much of a shock if you've ever been in what he calls "The Ten Grand Room." The centerpiece of his tricked-out estate, the room has only one unifying theme: Everything in it cost Modano at least $10,000. Dozens of Fabergé eggs, including some that lay broken next to Modano's platinum-and-emerald hockey stick. A wristwatch that's as thin as a sheet of paper and strong enough to withstand a .45 slug at close range--even while submerged at depths up to 20,000 feet. A stack of torn and dirty $10,000 bills Modano used to write down phone messages. The phone, by the way, is made of diamonds and titanium, but can't dial out. "I might not have any more money," Modano says, "but how many people can say they own a replica of the Elephant Man's skeleton? Made of white gold? Huh? Tell me."
Shawn Bradley, Mavericks: Being a good Mormon, Bradley has an incurable taste for one thing: wives. "Just got this one last week," Bradley said on a recent Sunday afternoon as he shyly pointed his chin at a petite blond woman who introduced herself as Tammy Bradley. When she leaves the room, Bradley lowers his voice and adds, "Her name was Michelle, but I already have a Missy and a Shelly, not to mention another Michelle, and it would've been too confusing." He plans to add a redhead in 2004.