Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nothing says "Xmas Cheer" like a spreadsheet: It's your 2012 NONGift NONGuide!


Every year, on my now-defunct-again sports blog, I ran a post called "The Nonsportsmanlike Conduct Nongift Nonguide," a guide to what NOT to give the sports lover in your life.  Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! will be an ongoing feature on this blog, now, but in the interests of justice (?) I'm expanding the Nongift Nonguide to people other than sports lovers, as well, in a feature I call:

NONGift NONGuide 
To Holiday Shopping For The Loved Ones In Your Life!

Here is how, if you were raised in my family, you choose what kind of gift to get for someone: You learn one thing about that person, and from then on for the rest of your life you give that person something from that one thing category.

Take my Mom, for example.  According to legend, my mom, when she was little, had a dream one night about a tiny little elephant that came and played with her.  She told her dad (my grandpa) about it, and from then on, whenever he could, my grandpa would buy a little toy elephant for my mom.

"Is this the elephant you dreamed about?" he would ask.  It never was the elephant she'd dreamed about, but he kept trying.

That is a sweet, sad little story about an attempt by a man to give his little girl some happiness, and had it been left there, it would have stayed a sweet, sad little story. 

But it could not be left there.

Because this is my family, you see.

So what my family took from that story is that my mom liked elephants.

I should note, for the sake of accuracy, that it is almost completely untrue that my mom liked elephants.  I don't think she cared for elephants any more than she cared for any other animal, or thing, in her life.  Having lived with my mom until I was 19 and then visited her off and on for the next 20 or so years until she died, and having during that time observed my mom, I would have to say that what she loved, really (besides her kids because you are supposed to say that because NESTLR)  was Coca-Cola and ham sandwiches.

But for my family's sake, she loved elephants, because we all learned about that story early on and stored that in the tiny, single-cell of our brains we were willing to devote to knowing something about another person (each person gets one cell, at least in my mind, which leaves the rest of my brain free to think up stuff like this)  and from then on out, my mom got elephant-themed presents, up to and including the 40-pound hand-carved wooden elephant I bought in a tiny room in a bazaar in Morocco where I thought I was going to get my throat slit because that's how all the stories I know about naive college students who don't even speak the language following some guy down a dark alley in a foreign country end.

That, too, is how I ended up with a collection of sports-themed t-shirts and sweatshirts and even jackets and hats: Because I sometimes like sports, and when I sometimes like sports, I sometimes root for the Packers or the Buffalo Bills and so when it comes time to buy me presents, people default to he likes sports and therefore I will get him this Packers snowglobe of Aaron Rodgers, a thing I just now made up but which I am 100% certain will exist if I search engine it.   

Wait here for me...

It does:

And you could've bought it for just ninety-nine cents.  But you were too late.  TOO LATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry. I'm back.

Anyway, all that stuff is neither here nor there, as they say, or at least as I say, or possibly it's here and there, given that some physicists say that since the Universe is infinite that means that every possible combination of atoms exists all at once, and so somewhere out there, trillions and trillions of light years away, there is (they say) a pocket universe in which you actually were able to buy that snowglobe.

They say that.  I don't.  I know that just because the odds say that eventually all possible combinations of atoms will have occurred doesn't mean squat: the odds say that if you flip a coin it'll come up tails half the time, but there is no physical law that says it has to, and you could, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, flip a coin an infinite number of times and have it come up heads every time.  That's the difference between probability and reality and it's why there's not another you out there somewhere scratching her head and saying "Why did I buy an Aaron Rodgers snow globe?" which brings me to the first of the NONGifts in the NonGuide:


The real theme of every Nongift Nonguide was that if you have someone in your life who loves sports, just give him or her a shirt with the team logo on it, instead of trying to get all creative with it, because getting creative with a sports gift ultimately sends only one message, and that message is: "I know you like sports, but I myself know nothing about sports and also nothing about you, so here is a gift that vaguely relates to sports."

Past NonGuides have featured terrible Fatheads, skateboard ornaments and inexplicable toys, but they've never featured knockoff inexplicable toys like the OYO Sports figures:

 To the uninitiated among us, the Oyo figure may appear to be a knockoff of a Rhymes-With-Eggo toy, but you are probably saying that just because you have eyes and can see.  See, whereas those other kinds of toys, whatever their name is, I can't remember, are made to build all kinds of things, the Oyo figure is specifically sports-based, as the copy on their website tells you:

OYO minifigures are building toys made for the sports fan in all of us.
OYO Sportstoys are minifigures designed to resemble MLB and NFL players, and are new to the roster of officially licensed MLB and NFL products in 2012.
Did you get that? They are officially licensed.  So somehow, that other toy company lost out on the bidding to be the officially-sanctioned NFL building block toy.  HOW IN THE WORLD DID OYO, a company nobody knows existed, PULL THAT OFF?

ALSO: In a world where Samsung can be sued for making a tablet computer and lose because Apple can copyright a rectangle, is what I got from that whole lawsuit thing, how can Oyo make those figures?

But they can, and lest you worry that your Oyo Cleveland Browns quarterback will not be able to sit in your Avengers' jet alongside Captain America:

What is an OYO?

OYO minifigures feature rotating forearms, bending knees, and the ability to hold a bat, glove and ball, all of which come in a special package that can be used to display your collection.

Compatible with brand name building toys, OYOs come with stands that let you pose the minifigures for display. Every OYO also has its own unique identification code, called a DNA number, that sets it apart from the other figures in each new product release.

 What savvy copywriter at Oyo lost his job for admitting that Oyo wasn't a "brand name building toy?" 

I was intrigued by the DNA Number, though, because none of my toys when I was a kid had DNA, kids today are so spoiled so I search engined "Oyo DNA" and came across this heartwarming true-life story about how Oyo brands Came to steal someone’s copyright   were created:

The Story

It all started at the ballpark. Shortly after building an elaborate starship from a popular building-block brand, a father took his son to Fenway Park to take in a Red Sox game. Taking in the sights and sounds of the park, a true New England rite of passage, the duo would begin to explore the confines of the park in search of more mini-figures for the seven-year-old’s starship and beyond. As their searches went without results, an idea was born: Creating mini-figures of athletes that kids could play baseball with.

Developing figures with rotating forearms, bending knees, and complete with the equipment of a true ballplayer — a ball, bat, and glove — the dynamics of the project were born. After many late nights of extensive patent work and distribution strategies, OYO obtained licenses with Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Association as its first professional sport.

But an OYO goes beyond a figure capable of poses previously impossible for building-block mini-figures. The OYO packaging was intricately designed to be able to fit in a kid’s pocket while looking like both a toy and 3-D baseball card. Following many colors, concepts, and logos, the final OYO package was complete and the rest is history in the making!

 That will likely be a Xmas special next year. So basically, saying "Hey, I wish this popular building-block brand action figure could show how much I am devoted to the Red Sox, and also bend his knees" is enough to get box seats at this year's Super Bowl.  And right now, a guy somewhere is saying to his son:

"I'm sorry, son, but these Oyo-brand sports figurines don't have opposable thumbs... wait a minute, I just had an idea!"

That is the circle of life.

The real fun of Oyos is that you can customize them, making your little Munchkin (TM) all the happier because not only does he get a tiny Oyo Kirk Ferentz under his tree, he also gets an Oyo loosely based on himself wearing his little league uniform!  So for those kids who were good at sports, I hate you, and for those kids who were not (like me) the nightmare of Little League season and overwhelming parental expectations can continue... in toy form at Xmas!

And don't worry: the Oyo figures can come in any one of three different skin tons and up to 10 different facial expressions, just like humanity itself.  If they have one with the "I'd rather be at home reading my Hardy Boys' books" facial expression, I'm going to buy it and send it to 10-year-old me.

"Don't worry," the card will say to Former Me.  "You're going to marry someone who's totally hot."

Speaking of Hardy Boys books, how about 


Being alive today, for book lovers, is what it must have been like to be a foodie living in the 1800s when fat people were considered sexy: the world is just made for us, in that books are more available than ever before: Online, for free, downloadable for your e-reader, and even in  "real" format for those people who for some reason get off on reading stories written on the dried-out, ground-up bodies of formerly-living organisms.

So if you know a book lover, it's easier than ever to give them a book, by going to one of the local bookstores that carry them, or, even better, by simply going to Amazon and emailing it to them!  WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE!

Or, you know, you could go in another, less-satisfying, weird direction instead, and give that book lover in your life something completely useless and inappropriate like, say, a finger-puppet of her favorite author.

Yes, for just $6 or so, you could give that reader in your life something they can't read and won't use, like the Fyodor Dostoevsky finger puppet:


which actually costs $1.50 more than Crime & Punishment on Amazon, but it's the thought that counts, right?  And here, the thought is:  "I know you like to read, so I got you something that you can't read."  

You can also get Ernest Hemingway:

And he doubles as a 'fridge magnet, so that's like two gifts in one and you're off the hook for their birthday.   
For extra fun, click this link to watch a video about all the finger puppets you can buy.  I can't decide if that video is so tongue-in-cheek that it loops back around to being completely serious.

Need a stocking stuffer? Check out the Nietzche Will-To-Power bar they sell on that site. Does Schopenhauer have a candy bar? I think not

If books are not your thing, though, then maybe you are a cook, or foodie!  In that case, let's hope your friends and family avoid the


Look, it would be too easy to just go with the Edible Ant Farm candy that is actually for sale/also a reason why I hate people:

because eating bugs is just wrong and I don't want to hear otherwise and how can you argue otherwise when the description of that product is:

Real ants are cooked into these flavored hard candy rectangles resembling ant farms!
 So it is an ant-flavored Jolly Rancher, and a low point for humankind.

So, yeah, that's weird, but not weird enough, and useless, but not useless enough to past muster as the WORST POSSIBLE gift.  To really hit the depths of inanity, you've got to go to a place like Uncommon Goods, where they've got something called a Mobile Foodie Survival Kit:



The product story says:

Don't Leave The Kitchen Without It

For foodies, nothing is scarier than being in a strange place where you're subject to sub-par food. The horror! With this handy Mobile Foodie Survival Kit, you can doctor up even the most repulsive meal. Stocked with organic herbs and spices, plus indispensable extras like wasabi. Containers are unlabeled so they can be re-used for your favorite spices (separate key included).

Kit includes: Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Onion, Basil, Conventional Wasabi, Cinnamon, Oregano, Garlic, Thyme, Curry, Ginger, Dill.
 THE HORROR!  Again, I can't tell if we're being sarcastic here because nobody has yet figured out a good way to convey sarcasm on the Internet.  (Or, alternatively, the Internet itself is the ultimate sarcasm conveyance, with every single thing on it being meant to be ironic, including this post, and including, ironically (?) irony itself.)

If that gift is a real thing intended for real people then there are people out there who would actually carry with them a tube of tiny canisters of thyme and dill in case they show up at a house that has the temerity not to have turmeric.

I am very proud of that phrase.

I was going to go with the Corksicle for this entry.  It was a close call:

 That's not just any old icicle. It's a BPH free plastic icicle that you can put in your freezer and chill and then stick it in your wine to keep that bottle of white wine chilled perfectly, which is great but how about those of us who drink the wine so fast it doesn't have time to warm up? WHAT ABOUT US? Never mind, we're all drunk and don't care anyway.



Getting a movie lover a gift these days has, unlike getting book lover's stuff, become harder, because the fact is, movies are pretty much available for free nowadays; in the past you had to go and buy DVDs or *shudder* go to a theater and sit with other people to watch a movie -- people who probably had not used hand sanitizer and who would wave their butts in your face as they edged by you in the seats, but nowadays every movie is more or less available on demand or on Netflix and so if you are a movie lover, what are people supposed to do, pay a couple months' subscription for you?  BOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRING.

There are lots of sites that will promise to give you tips on what to get the movie lover in your life, like this helpful fella who suggests you get a reclining chair for that special someone  because you have tons of money and, let's face it, people who watch movies a lot are fat slobs who can barely stand up, right?

Um... sorry.

Anyway, you could also go cheap and make a homemade present, such as one of those suggested on this site. My favorite on that list? 

Homemade Gifts for Movie Lovers: Organized List of Their DVDs

This homemade gift is so easy to make, but it's sure to be a big hit with movie lovers. This homemade gift is also easier to make if you live with the movie lover or know them really well. When you have a chance to look through their DVDs, write them all down. Then use Excel to make a list of their DVDs. You can put them in alphabetical order or you could also organize them by genre. That way they always know which DVDs they have and won't buy multiple copies.

 Nothing spreads Xmas cheer like a spreadsheet of stuff you already own.  That idea would really do for every category on this list!  "Hey, Sweetie, for Xmas I got you an organized list of all the foods you like to eat!  It's alphabetical and by category."

But maybe you're not the craftsy type who can create a spreadsheet all on your own.  If that's the case, why not get that movie buff this actual thing you can buy him:

Holiday Gift-Giving Guide for Movie Lovers

The Little Otsu Film Diary, $12, lets you jot down all sorts of things about the movies. Fill in the list of flicks you want to see (and check off once you have), and keep track of movies you’ve seen by filling in the title, director, cast members, and your rating from 1 to 10 (perfect for any film festival-goer). Plus, there’s an alphabetical index to fill in as you go.  

THAT. IS. PERFECT.  How many times have you been at a movie and been really really enjoying it and thought to yourself "You know what this experience is missing? The ability to jot down exactly what I like about this movie right now."  (Zero.)  And imagine the thrill you, the gift-giver, will feel when your giftee pulls out that diary next year, and shows you all the little notes they made about the movies they watched that year:


*Second-dumbest, actually, after the diary.


I'm kind of stretching here.  I'm not sure there are science lovers out there, people who, you know, get into science, so to speakOnce you're a grown-up, you're not supposed to be playing around with genetics or chemistry sets or rockets or stuff, so you have to get your kids into it just so you can blow up a baking-soda rocket on your driveway, but even then, all you can think of is "How is it possible for a little boy to lean over that rocket every single time?"

But I included this section mainly because I, like you and everyone else, have been, lately, thinking to myself "I wish I could do DNA sequencing at home but I don't have an adequate thermal cycler."

Right? AMIRIGHT?  I am, but now you don't have to worry about that formerly-lacking experience, because you can, at an affordable price, too:


  That is, seriously, a home DNA sequencer kit that is available to just anyone who wants to build a living creature, and since you can order DNA sequences by email now, I am suggesting that everyone get busy and start making your own little creatures for your own little creatures.  (That may or may not be the plot of this story.  I'm not saying.)

Which brings us to the last category here because I am very tired and have a wisdom tooth coming in that has effectively limited my snacking this Thanksgiving weekend but I am about to go try and give some leftover pie a go, so I'll leave you with 

6.  The WORST POSSIBLE GIFT to give ANYONE in your life:

 For twelve bucks, you'd think it would at least be wireless.


Here's 2009'shere's 2010's, and here's 2011's, the latter of which features Selma Hayek in a bathtub, if you're into that kind of thing. 


Let's focus on the future, not the past.  And THE FUTURE IS NOW, as


The first post, PART ONE OF MY ANNUAL XMAS STORY, has been posted on lit, and you can get to it by clicking this link.

ONE LUCKY PERSON will get a free (e)book just for commenting.  And, all readers are eligible to find out what "the BLOOP!" is.


And watch for posts from these authors on these days:

FREE BOOKS will be given away on these days by these authors:

Andrew Leon, on his blog Strange Pegs, (the author of The House On the Corner and Shadow Spinner.

  Author Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, on her blog. (Sandra is author of Lyon's Legacy.)

Tony Laplume on his blog Scouring Monk, author of Monorama.

Lara Schiffbauer, on her blog Motivation for Creation.

PT Dilloway, on his blog "Tales Of The Scarlet Knight,  Author of "A Hero's Journey."

12/1: Vanna Smythe, on her blog, author of "Protector: Anniversary of the Veil, Book One."

12/3: Cindy Borgne, on her blog "Dreamer's Perch," author of "Vallar"

12/4:  Michael Offutt, on his blog SLC Kismet, author of the trilogy "A Crisis of Two Worlds"

12/5: Tony Laplume on his blog Scouring Monk, author of Monorama.

12/6: Me -- or YOU if you want the slot!

12/7:  PT Dilloway, on his blog "Tales Of The Scarlet Knight,  Author of "A Hero's Journey."

12/10: Andrew Leon, on his blog Strange Pegs, (theauthor of The House On the Corner and Shadow Spinner.

12/11:  Me -- or YOU if you want the slot!

12/12: Tony Laplume on his blog Scouring Monk, author of Monorama.

12/13:  Me -- or YOU if you want the slot!

12/14: PT Dilloway, on his blog "Tales Of The Scarlet Knight,  Author of "A Hero's Journey."

12/17: Andrew Leon, on Strange Pegs, (the author of The House On the Corner and Shadow Spinner.

12/18: Lara Schiffbauer, on her blog Motivation for Creation.

12/19:  Tony Laplume on his blog Scouring Monk, author of Monorama.

12/20:  Me.
12/21: PT Dilloway, on his blog "Tales Of The Scarlet Knight,  Author of "A Hero's Journey."

12/22: Vanna Smythe, on her blog, author of "Protector: Anniversary of the Veil, Book One."

12/24: Me  

bloggers like Lara Schiffbauer, and hopefully Rusty Webb's Blutonian Death Egg will put on a show!

And here are the books you can get, for FREE:

Plus, copies of my books:

LEAVE A COMMENT, and I'll draw from the names of everyone who leaves a comment and the winner will get a free e-book of their choice from that list!  TELL YOUR FRIENDS: The Blogathon Of Doom! is here.


Liz said...

So, you mean I'm not supposed to get my Dad basketball cards every year. Even though he says he likes them. Displays them. Collects them. I guess I should just buy him lottery tickets like everyone else in the family.

Why does the idea of the Edible Ant Farm make me think of Jerry Lewis? I think those were chocolate covered ants. Perhaps they were grasshoppers.

The Corksickle was just featured on I Want That! One of the coolest shows. Personally, I think the pizza sleeping bag was stupid, but that grill was kinda cool.

My brother used to keep a film diary. Of course, he just used a spiral notebook.

Gee, Briane, can you make these posts any longer?

Andrew Leon said...

Oh,man, now I want a titmouse! Except, upon looking that up, I'm finding it's actually a bird, and I don't want a bird at all. I'd have to keep it in a drawer anyway.

Now, according to you, because sarcasm is ingrained in the Internet, I don't to explain that comment. Right?

Cindy said...

I'm ready for my post tomorrow, and that's um...that's in interesting mouse. LOL

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