spiked-geist, Christmas 2001
Weird gifts, exploding marzipan and bomb 'em with cake - the festive season has arrived.
Some take a cynical view of Christmas – but it’s actually a great opportunity to chill out, forget your woes and relax with friends and family. Here are some tips to make the festive season pass without any hiccups (except the alcohol-induced variety).
For that special gift look no further than Innovations, the catalogue-cum-website that is the very heimat of über-junk (2). Why open your wine bottles with a bottle opener when you can use the CorkPopper? Push the needle attachment through the cork, and use the miniature hand pump to pump air into the bottle until the cork pops off. That’s the Innovations approach: take an everyday task and do it in a new and over-elaborate way for no apparent reason.
Then there’s the Portable Lie Detector. What could the buyer of one of these be thinking? ‘I always knew my friends were really just backstabbing scum who never had a true word to say. But nailing their lies by hooking them up to a polygraph was always a bit impractical – with the Portable Lie Detector I can catch them out anywhere!’ The perfect gift for the season of goodwill – which, worryingly, has already sold out (3).
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has suggested the Stadium Pal in its list of good gift ideas. The Stadium Pal is a bag that a man straps to his leg with a tube connected to his overflow pipe – so that he can watch a game and drink to his heart’s content without having to worry about trips to the toilet. What you do at the end of the game, when you have a bag full of piss slopping around in your trousers, is anybody’s guess. Still it won’t catch on in the UK – where football has been alcohol-free for years and where you can easily go to the toilet during a cricket match without missing a thing.
If you’re travelling somewhere by air this Christmas, please help avoid delays by making sure your bag contains nothing that could be misconstrued as a terrorist weapon – like marzipan.
Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper reports that airport officials have been asking travellers to avoid carrying blocks of marzipan in checked baggage in case it is mistaken for plastic explosive, which is of a similar density and which also contains organic material. They advise that, if you need to carry marzipan, keep it in your hand luggage (5). Thanks to the Norwegian authorities, how long before some cunning terrorist hides Semtex in a block of marzipan to sneak it on board an aeroplane?
Another thing to avoid: picking up the wrong bag at security. Poor old Lolita Austria picked up a shopping bag at the end of the security check and brought it on board her flight – only to realise it wasn’t hers and contained what looked suspiciously like a hand grenade. As the 57-year-old tried to alert staff, the grenade rolled out of the bag and into the aisle. It turned out to be a fake, but that didn’t stop the flight being delayed by three hours as a result (6).
Create the right atmosphere
The days when people in the UK enjoyed the traditional trappings of Christmas (snow, open fires, tuberculosis) have passed – but New York residents are more fortunate, with the return of the traditional Yuletide log on channel WPIX. Every Christmas from 1966 to 1989, the channel showed a tape loop of a burning log accompanied by kitsch Christmas music – for three hours, without commercials, for instant atmosphere. And now it’s back by popular demand (7).
Of course, there have been videos of this sort of thing for years, but maybe it’s the sense of a whole city tuning in together that makes it so marvellous (8). But I thought the traditional Yuletide log was the result of a half-hour on the toilet on Boxing Day. Or is that just me?
Think of others less fortunate than yourself
Having suffered terrible privations over the past 20 years, and particularly over recent weeks, the people of Afghanistan need immediate and practical help that identifies and meets their needs swiftly. So the US military announced plans to drop 46,000 pounds of cake on to Afghanistan’s major provincial cities to mark the festival of Eid (8).
‘It’s the end of Ramadan, and we thought that after all the Afghan people have suffered, this could be one way to show our respect’, said Sergeant Major Raymond Cordell. Or ‘let them eat cake’, as Marie-Antoinette would have put it.
Have yourself a very scary Christmas, by Brendan O’Neill
‘Sensible celebrating’, by Munira Mirza
(1) Buy the CD, Songs and More Songs by Tom Lehrer from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)
(3) See also GadgetBargains.com
(4) When you care enough to give the scary best, Washington Post, 16 December 2001
(5) Marzipan confused for explosives, Ananova, 18 December 2001
(6) Fake grenade delays flight, Salon, 17 December 2001
(7) TV rekindles an old flame, New York Times, 9 December 2001
(8) For example, you can buy Your Christmas Yule Log Fireplace Video from Amazon (USA)
(9) US forces to bomb Afghanistan – with cake, Yahoo News, 17 December 2001
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