Why hello, late shopper! You’ve got the wild-eyed look of a man who has once again nearly fucked up Christmas. Really? Bravo. And you’re probably looking for a couple of good suggestions for what to get the people you love enough to shop at the very last minute?

Well, I don’t have any. But in the interest of at least avoiding any unnecessary unpleasantries, I do have an approved list a la conventional media’s incessant fear mongering over dangerous toys.

5. “Steve Harvey Reads From Cards.”

Sure. It’s a cheap gift, which makes it pretty attractive. But you get what you pay for with this one.

With some of the more expensive toys, you get things like warrantees, replacement bulbs and reading glasses. But the no-frills appeal of a Steve Harvey is hard to ignore. But as we can see with this case pretty clearly, leaving it to fate is not recommended.

4.  Trump Co.’s Kamp Kaliphate Play Set

Kamp Kaliphate

Ok, so you say you want your kid to learn counting and letters? At first blush, The Trump Corporation’s Kamp Kaliphate Play Set seems to have it all: characters with prisoner ID tags on their jackets, escapee counting games, even cell blocks with big, colorful letters. But a deeper look reveals that this play set has some serious flaws about it.

For example, even though the set says it’s only for Muslims, why are there so many Christians and Bhuddists in there? And the guy in the 7-11 uniform? Also, having to deal with the included ACLU Lawyer characters is just a pain, when you should really be focusing on the fun stuff like the Waterboard Challenge.

3. The Geoff Marcy “Little Lookers” Astronomy Set for Girls


Who doesn’t want their little girl to grow up to be an inspiration to their someday professor? I know I do! So I was particularly excited for world-famous astronomy professor and recent sexual harassment victim Geoffrey Marcy’s new toy set.

But instead of focusing on the stars, Professor Marcy’s guidebook seems a lot more focused on the astronomer’s choice of clothing, perfume and makeup. There are numerous references to “Cleavage,” “The Gap” and “Muffin Top,” which as far as my research shows, aren’t even constellations. And I’m given to understand that the telescope is nowhere near as powerful as he keeps insisting it is.

2. Straw Purchase! the Video Game


Try use your crappy phone to teach your kid some basic money math and these are the thanks you get. Predictably, this is one of those games you play that says it’s free, but every time you turn around, the costs keep adding up. And least, for about half the players.. Fail.

1. Doc McShkreli’s Malaria Bed Playtime Set


If you’re seriously considering this toy, you probably want to reassess your value system in the first place. But not for us to judge.

The mosquito netting is cheap. The towels haven’t been washed. And of course, the whole thing is about 700% more expensive than it deserves to be. Besides which, Doc McShkreli’s face just makes you want to give him a swirly while repeatedly punching him in the gnads. Till he passes out.

Ooh! Was that my “out loud voice?” Anyway, Merry Christmas to my friends, followers, readers and tweeters. Make it a safe and happy one!

I’m one of those people who has no problem admitting that I adore Christmas, whatever it’s shortcomings. I don’t care if some people get all riled up at the mall (probably more myth than fact). I don’t mind that every television show and commercial is themed to the season. But there is one thing I do mind: shitty movies masquerading as “holiday classics.”

Every season, we are assaulted by all kinds of saccharine, syrupy-sweet Christmas garbage on TV. The whole thing is like Lifetime and Disney Channel had a particularly irritating baby. But DFE is here to help you out. Below is a list of my favourite awesome Christmas movies that get at the real meaning of Christmas: getting shitty with those you love and watching television. Without further ado:

DFE’s Top 10 Awesome Christmas Movies

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas – A classic for a reason

A Charlie Brown Christmas, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesYes, you have to say it. Especially for us X-Gen’ers, there’s simply no quality Christmas without a visit from the ugly kid with the big nose, as Peppermint Patty would say.

This is one of those holiday traditions that I don’t feel the least bit bad about getting excited for as a grown-ass man. It’s got about everything you could ask for in a Christmas movie, plus to be honest, a bit more Christianity that I would have preferred. Let’s skip to the presents!

2. Die Hard – the anti-Christmas choice

Die Hard, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesWhile some may object to citing Die Hard as a Christmas movie, it does absolutely qualify. Without the added drama of Christmas bliss, disrupted, would the movie be the same? I think not. If John was not visiting his lost love on the most sentimental of holidays, would the tension be as high? Clearly not. We could as easily discount it as an action/adventure movie because it is so clearly a Christmas movie.

And speaking of movies technically during the Christmas season…

3. The Poseidon Adventure – the Christmas of watery doom.

The Poseidon Adventure, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesHere again, we can make the argument for the anti-Christmas movie. Does anyone really get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the idea of people climbing (unsuccessfully) for their lives up an inverted Christmas tree? Perhaps, but those are the type of people we like to keep in special rooms.

The Poseidon Adventure is probably the best-done disaster movie of it’s era, yet another one in which a rash of similarly-themed movies came out. Poseidon benefits from a pretty high-calibre cast, including Earnest Borgnine and his character’s Hooker with the Heart of Gold, Stella Stevens. This will not be the last lady of the evening to feature in this list.

But again, the pathos of a Christmas celebration gone horribly awry is just too important to the plot to be ignored. Plus – hey – the Christmas tree thing is pretty bitchin. Amirite?

4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles – the Christmas prequel

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesThis one is really a Thanksgiving movie. But because the T-Day celebrations kick off the holiday season, I really feel like this one counts. Plus, this might be the funniest in a long line of hilarious John Candy movies. So funny in fact that it was completely ripped off just recently in the Galfanaikis flick Due Date.

Steve Martin plays a classically-80’s overworked business man who is trying to get back home to Chicago from yet another string of meetings and travelling when he runs into the obnoxious, hapless mess of a salesman played by John Candy. Candy’s character is everything Martin’s is not: unapologetically goofy and self-effacing. Through the classic “series of unfortunate events,” it becomes impossible to separate the two… however much Steve Martin might have preferred it.

5.  Christmas Vacation – our model of Christmas excess.

Christmas Vacation, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesHow does one blend the self-defined risk of Christmas light electrocution and the existential threat of feeling abandoned by the Big Boss at your second-rate job, then sprinkle in a healthy dose of an alcoholic Randy Quaid and a dash of sewer humor and make it all come out awesome? Well, it helps to be National Lampoon, but beyond that you’ll just need to watch the movie.

The continuing adventures of the Griswold family – featuring a young yet incredibly unchanged Johnny Galeki – take them back to their very own Chicago suburb home, where they will be serving up the Christmas dinner for the family.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – the Whooville follies.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesAnd no. I do not mean that shitty John Kerry Jim Carey movie. The real, original version. With the one and only Chuck Jones directing. What makes this movie so kick ass is that you get to revel in the Grinch’s mean-spiritedness as much as in the “redemption” at the end of the movie. You even get to find Cindy-Loo Who’s crying kinda funny.

And then you get to get the “aww!” at the end of the movie and let your friends know you’re not that mean. No, really.

7. Trading Places – Ophelia the Christmas Hooker

Trading Places, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesWhat could be more Christmasy than a tale of deception, character assassination, social darwinism, racism and of course, the Hooker with the Heart of Gold? If there is such a thing, I don’t know if I could handle it.

Besides which.. whose been putting their Kools out on my rug?

Actually, I’d call this movie much more of a Christmas movie than any of the aforementioned non-Christmas movies, because in this case, Santa plants drugs in Billy Ray Valentine’s office desk drawer. And hey: isn’t that what Santa’s all about? Leaving presents for all the good little boys and girls? I thought so.

8. Elf – Does Santa know you left the workshop?

Elf, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesLet’s just say this and get it out of the way: every Christmas movie in 20 years has gargled dead monkey balls except this one. If that seems harsh, you’re wrong.

Will Ferrell’s guileless, child-like elf Buddy is a pitch-perfect reproduction of the Larry Roemer / Rankin and Bass television shows that dominate all our childhoods (Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, etc). But in the context of a heartless publishing house in midtown Manhattan, his innocence brings everybody around him (save for one 27 year old ex con) to the brink of madness.

It’s just a hysterical romp (if I can say that word) that I’ll gladly watch several times between now and Christmas.

9. Scrooged – because real greed has an American accent.

Scrooged, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesWe get that Ebenezer Scrooge is supposed to be a bit of a jerk. But honestly: being a jerk in Elizabethan English is a lot less impactful these days than it used to be. What we need is an updated Scrooge that speaks to what greed and heedless cynicism looks like. We need someone who shows no real compassion or empathy for his fellow humans. Someone who only treats humans as statistical slaves to their baser emotions.

What we need is a television executive.

Enter Bill Murray as “Lumpy” Scrooge, the once-loved, twice-dejected television executive with a drive for ratings and a complete disregard for the well being of his rodent actors. Lumpy is doing what a lot of us do during the holiday season, and burying his memories of a happier past under mountains of work. But this year, three ghosts, one woman and Bobcat Golthwaite will not let him forget.

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Carol Kane.

10. The Ref – familial dysfunction is funny.

The Ref, DFE's Awesome Christmas MoviesThis one is the movie that only I seem to remember. It was a flop. It died an untimely death. And I will make it my mission to bring it back to cultural life, because any movie that stars Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacy, Judy Davis and the inimitable Christine Baranski has got to be worth a watch.

I’m probably showing off my generational roots by loving this movie. It’s about as 90’s as it gets, with all the mean-spirited falseness of that decade on display. The movie’s hero is a crook. The Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote is a shiftless alcoholic Baby Boomer named Gus. The antagonist is all the dysfunctional ugliness of a family that might seem to have everything as they slide by in their SUV. And the conflict is a family trying to act casual while they are prisoners to two jailers: Dennis Leary and their insufferable relatives.

In years past, everybody had to write out their own letters from Santa for their kids. But not this year! Google’s getting into the act by creating Santa’s very own Google Voice phone number and also the ability to create your very own personalized messages from Santa Claus.

Options for the phone message include funny “pet names” for you and your intended recipient, Santa knowing what their profession is, what they want for Christmas (including underwear and stiletto heels!) and a bunch of other wacky business.

Official Google Blog: Ho-ho-hold the phone: Santa’s on the line.

Don’t stress!

Before you go untangling those Christmas lights, maybe you aught to check out a few articles posted today on the RIT news website. Two articles should help you out. One gleans tips from an RIT economics proff about how best to avoid the post-Christmas buyer’s remorse. The second deals with the guy you’ll probably want to listen to more closely: the psychology proff, who offers tips to not, you know, go bat-shit insane.

Among the more helpful hints:

  • Pay cash instead of using credit cards.
  • Do not use service cards (really: don’t ever use them, period)
  • Have some flexibility. Don’t expect everything to go as planned
  • Keep your perspective broad.
  • The brandy is behind the cookies, third cabinet from the left.

That last one was from memory… may not have actually been in either article..

Never fear, noble bankers!  Just because you’ve fucked up our economy and taken our nation’s money to bail youselves out of the mess you made, that’s no reason not to celebrate this Christmas time with 20 billion dollars of bonuses.  God bless us, every one!!!

From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, of which I am watching the 1999 faithful reproduction starring Jean Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart:

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,”tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit. Say he will be spared.”

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.”

Even before the yearly Thanksgiving celebrations have commenced, a yuletide tradition has begun again in earnest. The Christian Right, labouring to find another rallying issue for Conservatives to come together on, have taken up the cause of defending Christmas from the evil doers. Not content with an 85 percent majority Christian population, the Conservative face of religion in this country demands that Jesus be in every single advertisement across the country. Because, of course, Jesus approved of low prices. Failing this, the Right has decided that the other fifteen percent of Americans have started a “War on Christmas,” and have taken up arms to defend her clove-scented loins from the despoiling Atheist masses.

What does the future of this most serious of war zones look like? In years past, I’ve tried to answer that question. But for the last two years, I’ve sat on the sidelines. . . No longer! This blog will once again dedicate itself to bringing you the answers, at great risk to the life and limb of this blogger. We will go out onto the front lines, embedded with the fighting men, in a series I have traditionally taken to calling:

Ho, Ho, Ho, Muthaf*cker!

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Only the geeks among you will get the “pseudo-random” bit!

Yeah, I know it seems early, but if you go anywhere but work and home, there’s all kinds of holiday crap out there.  And I confess to being a sap for the holidays, and it’s got me thinking:

The missus and I are entering our second Yule using our new LED tree lights, and we’re perfectly happy to do a little to lessen the strain on power resources and do minimal damage to the environment.  However, the real problem for me is that I’m very particular about the look of my tree: I don’t like primary colors at all, and prefer more blending, harmonious mixtures.

For years, I’ve used lights I got from some place online that were strings of two different color combinations: one called “Renaissance” and made up of green, teal, yellow and purple; the other was called “Frost,” and had clear, white frosted, teal and blue bulbs.  I put the Renn colors in the center and the Frost around the outside, and it looked amazing.

Well, now that we’ve switched over for environmental impact’s sake, I’m back to primary colors and I kinda hate it.  I actually like the piercingly direct and uniform color of LED lights, and they tend to shoot out long beams of color that make kinda cool patterns and shadows on the wall.

But I see no logical reason to have to sacrifice good color schemes for the environment, except to say that none of the LED manufacturers have managed any level of creativity.  Damnit!  Won’t anyone at GE hear my appeal?