Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Now that Mr. and Mrs. Gavo have released a list of their wedding gifts and everyone has had a chance to sneer about the number of picture frames and crock pots, our intrepid staff thought we ought to compile our own list of original gifts we would have given had the Newsom camp had the good taste to invite us to Montana.

Here are the products of our combined left hemispheres. Feel free to co-opt our ideas for your own wedding if you haven’t already done so.

  1. A set of His-Her Condoms mounted in a Genuine Horse Hair Frame
  2. A Thomas the Train Honeymoon Sleeper, Including an Overnight Stay at the Amtrak Station in Winnemucca NV
  3. A Genetically Engineered (fill in heart’s desire here)
  4. A Controlling Share of SFist Stock
  5. An Engraved Invitation to the 2011 Governor’s Inauguration Ball from the Newly Elected Governor Jerry Brown
  6. A Dan Noyes Dancing Doll
  7. An Illustrated Sex Manual for Newlyweds with Captions in Chinese
  8. A Recording of Peter Ragone Singing “Come on Baby Light My Fire”

Personally, we prefer Numbers 1 and 8,


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A vice is something society usually thinks is depraved, immoral, or degrading. On another level, a vice could be something innocent like a bad habit. In the latter sense, most of us have an overabundance of vices. Through the years, I’ve managed to shed many of mine.

For example, I no longer smoke. But, man, I used to consume cigarettes by the case load, and if I ran out, yours would suffice. I finally gave up this one when I looked in the mirror one morning and saw a gray cloud with bloodshot eyes looking back at me. Nowadays, my doctor tells me my lungs are as clear as a newborn babe’s.

I also used to drink like a fish. You name the time, place, and brand of booze. I’ll be there. And the more I drank the more intelligent and sophisticated I became. You want to know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, gimme a pencil pal, and I’ll sketch it out on a napkin. Or how about the prose of William Faulkner? Simple stuff, buddy. Here, let me parse a couple of hundred pages for you. One day, I woke with my usual hangover from hell and said, “Intelligence and sophistication aren’t worth the aftereffects.” I faded into the woodwork of intellectual and creative mediocrity.

But one vice has hung on. I’ve tried to shake it a thousand times without success. It’s such a pleasant vice that I wonder if it’s really a vice at all or just the normal routine of pumping life back into an inert mass of REM’s and wacky dreams. I’m talking about the first cup of coffee of the day. It’s the most delicious beverage ever concocted in the twisted minds of humans. Who would have thought that this 9th Century discovery in the highlands of Ethiopia would one day form the basis of a whole slew of establishments for gathering and twittering while sipping a mocha, an iced coffee, or a cup of just plain coffee of the day?

But my favorite cup isn’t a Starbucks creation. It’s that cup my wife hands to me as soon as I throw back the covers and finish my early morning shower. That cup is pure bliss, and I do not plan to give up this vice. Ever. Unless my wife loses her passion for her first cup and orders me to “Fix your own!” Heating water isn’t one of my life’s skills.

Okay, I’ve had that first cup. Now it’s time to head to the mall. Black Friday. Shop for the essentials. Do our part to pump up the American economy. But, first, another cup of coffee. This one is almost as good as the first.

I love coffee, I love tea. I love the Java Jive, and it loves me.

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A new book, Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, has recently been released by the Center for American Progress Action Fund in conjunction with the New Democracy Project.

The book consists of chapters written by 67 scholars, advocates, authors, and officials, offering solutions to the problems of governance created by the Bush administration over the past eight years.

In 300,000 words, the authors talk about problems and solutions in the organizational structure of the White house, along with economic, domestic, and national security policies for the future. The book can be pre-ordered through Amazon.com for $16.47, but a frugal reader can download 10 chapters for free and think about it before laying out any hard-earned cash.

Or if you want more info, take a look at the full table of contents, which lists the authors. There, you will find chapters by John Podesta, Mark Green, and Henry Cisneros.

If you’re a Progressive and want to know the view on governance by other Progressives, this may be the book for you.

Or if You Prefer the Unchanging World of the Heartland—
—try The Farmer’s Almanac. On impulse, I picked up a copy from the magazine rack at Longs today. My copy and the one at the link aren’t quite the same but, according to the old bureaucratic adage, they’re close enough for government work.

Why did I pick up a copy? Don’t ask me. Motives are too mysterious. I rarely dwell on them. Suffice to say, I like to browse the advertisements, and I found a few good ones.

Like the Italian Tree Tomato that produces over 50 pounds of tree tomatoes for less than one cent each. Grows to a height of 15 feet in one season. The tomatoes are up to two pounds each. You can buy one plant for only $6.98. This sounds too good to pass up.

Or if life as a farner isn’t your bag, how about learning to write children’s books. This must be a lucrative career. There are so many childish books to choose from, your brain might become addled looking through Border’s. You can join thousands of successful authors by just sending in a free request for an aptitude test.

Men, this is for you. You may need a little Vacuum Therapy. No, vacuum therapy doesn’t mean handling the clean up chores for your wife. Vacuum therapy will correct your erectile dysfunction at little or no cost to you without the hassle of getting out of bed to swallow a pill at the most inopportune time. Your wife (or whoever) will thank you and lavish praise on you for your renewed vigor. Call today. Operators are standing by.

And let’s not forget the girls. This is amazing but true. You can have Hollywood hips and movie star butts without exercise, diet, or surgery. You even have a choice of black and white pads. Now isn’t that special? Fill out the coupon today. Credit cards accepted.

These are just a few of the innovative American services and products you will find nowhere else in the world. So, for everlasting happiness, hurry to Longs before supplies of Farmer’s Almanac runs out. You won’t be sorry.

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We’ve been debating our options for buying a new car. The one we have is serviceable, but it’s too small for 21st Century driving.

In the first place, small cars are defenseless on America’s roads. People can get hurt in one. I speak from experience. A pickup with over-sized off-road tires and a 10-ton steel bumper rear-ended my tiny emerald Honda Civic Hatchback. The accident totaled not only my car but my perfectly serviceable set of golf clubs. I came away unscathed except for a rapid pulse rate and a sore neck. Still, it was not a pleasant experience.

I am also sick and tired of inching along an off-ramp or idling at a stop light while gagging on the exhaust fumes from the car in front of me. The exhaust pipes of those huge monsters pump their output right into my radiator. Some of the visible residues of exhaust smoke creep over the hood of my car, little fingers licking the windshield like fog on a cold and dreary moor.

My wife prefers a large, four-door Ford with 8-cylinders and a 360 HP engine. But my tastes lean toward self-preservation. I want the largest pickup on the market. I don’t care if it’s Japanese or American made. I just want to enhance my safety. We all die sometime, but why volunteer?

111808-1947-tobuyornott1.pngAfter a good deal of reflection and a few thousand-dollar bribes to my wife for the purchase of some baubles, I’ve narrowed my selection to a couple of machines. Each of these performs an essential driving function. For example, if I feel mean and in the mood for a little road rage, there’s nothing better than the Road Rage Special shown here with an optional .50 caliber top-mounted machine gun for those trips through the I-80 corridor between Oakland and Pinole. This vehicle may also prove useful on those rare cross-country trips that lead through Texas.

For a second car, we’ve selected the Traffic Delay Special. This sturdy vehicle with its formidable box-like foot-print and treaded tracks is perfect for climbing over the line of cars in front of you as you attempt to reach your office in time for the nine p.m. coffee break. But, wait—This111808-1947-tobuyornott2.png utilitarian vehicle with its spacious bed is adaptable for clearing a parking space at busy malls, too. And, don’t forget tailgate parties at those football and baseball games you can’t miss. Your friends will love riding in the cool night air as you tool to an AC-DC concert. It’s the perfect all-around family vehicle.

Actually, we are in a bind here. We want to demonstrate our patriotism by pumping some money into the economy, providing we can arrange a car loan. But on the other hand, we are torn between self-preservation on the roads of America and doing our bit to conserve energy. We’ve reflected on the issue and finally concluded that we must survive. Otherwise, we won’t be around to stimulate the economy. Country first.

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…as one famous philosopher/blogger might phrase it…

For completely inexplicable reasons, luck seems to smile on me when I surf the net. Last night was another one of those times.

Completely by accident and without any planning or plotting on my part, I found myself looking at the customer wish lists of a major book dealer. OMG!

This was too much even for me to resist. I fell into a reverie. Who did I want to be nosy about tonight?

Ah, yes, that’s it. GN. What does he read?

So I entered his name in the Search bar and, whoopsey doo, up popped two familiar names. Gavin C. Newsom and Gavin C. Newsom. You’ve got to be kidding. Nope.

Well, what else could the nosiest human on the face of the earth, besides Dick Cheney, do in a situation like this? I clicked the first one and, wowee, el Gavo’s wish list appeared. Want to know what he’s wishing for? Of course you do.

The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau.

Quickly, I checked the second Gavin C. Newsom. Hoo boy.

Laughter in Your Soul and Growing Pains by Jamie Owens-Collin.

Let me toss in a disclaimer right here and now. I have no idea if these two Gavin C. Newsoms are the Gavin Christopher Newsom who is a noted San Francisco man about town.

But that’s a minor matter. The point is, there is some damned interesting info on this book dealer’s website including, not just a wish list but, in some instances, a person’s date of birth, city of residence, and a photograph. Most of the entries are restricted to a wish list, but even such limited info is invaluable in rounding out a one-dimensional character.

Did I look for others of my acquaintance? You betcha. What fool would let an opportunity like that slip by. But, not to worry. I will never release personal information on my friends or on private citizens I do not particularly care for. That would be a highly unprincipled act.

Furthermore, I do not intend ever to reveal how I managed to stumble across the wish list site except to say that the link was on another site, one of many, that randomly appeared when I Googled a generic term.

Now, will someone in the know verify the Gavster’s reading preferences?

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Now that Christmas day is behind us and all that remains is to return those gifts we hate, I think it’s safe to reveal the things that really bug me in the run-up to Christmas.

  1. Drop Bys. Too many people dropping by to leave a thoughtful gift, an act that mobilizes the old “in-kind” response, thus taking time away from the latest Diane Lane rerun. This may surprise many people, but I prefer a one-dimensional freeze-frame of her legs to a tiny lapel pin that says “Support Doggie Bags.” You know I don’t own a dog, Clarence.
  2. Gifts by Mail. I am sick and tired of pecan pies, especially the ones that say something like “Mom’s Authentic Good Ole Made-in-the-USA Texas Pecan Pies.” A little research reveals that Mom cranks out 900,000 homemade pecan pies every holiday season in Mexico and delivers them on an underground assembly line between Juarez and El Paso, Texas. Please, Mom, make it a fruitcake next year, or a can of salted Virginia peanuts.
  3. Gift Certificates. Most of them are for redemption in stores offering 19th Century goodies like Karo Syrup and hog jowls. Not only that, you must redeem the full value of the cert or lose any remaining balance. It’s mathematically impossible to locate a combination of goods that add up to the exact amount of your gift cert. Send a check next year, Auntie.
  4. Books. Let’s face it. There isn’t a human on the face of the earth who wants to read The Top Selling Political Science Textbooks of All Time. You can’t even find one in a Borders trash bin. That’s why the title is sold only in Murphy’s Bar, Exotic Grill, and Used Books. Who but a faithful bar habitué would lay out a dime for one? Try Superman comics next year, Uncle Harold.
  5. Office Parties. You have to fake the Christmas spirit with people you despise. Well, this is one of those grin-and-bear it situations, good training if you aspire to become a politician.

Okay, family members, try to do a little better next year. And in return I promise never to recycle any more flashing neckties.

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That means “Merry Christmas” doesn’t it? Whatever. It’s one of my favorite songs. Some others—Jingle Bell Rock, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and the one about Santa being up on the rooftops or something like that.

But my all time favorite is the First Noel because I was forced against my will in the 6th grade to recite the song while a Christmas pageant unfolded behind me. The pressure was too great. I forgot most of the lines. But the song stuck and today, my early humiliation has become a treasured memory.

These days, Christmas is a time to celebrate shopping malls and internet catalogues. And, of course, the corner liquor store, as pints, fifths, and quarts of booze rapidly disappear from the shelves. Every day of the year is perilous, but we can expect a surge in drinking during the holiday frenzy with a concomitant increase in booze-related mishaps. We no longer worship Jesus but a double shot of VO.

To give you an idea of booze-induced insanity, I once consumed enough rum balls at a booze-free on-premises office party to feel a buzz. And then, fully primed, headed out for happy hour, which lasted until the bar closed.

If you want to read some startling statistics, check MADD’s website. Here’s a very brief summary:

  • Last year, almost 18,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes.
  • Three in every ten Americans will be in a drunken driving accident some time in their lives.
  • In 2003, there were an estimated 159 million alcohol-impaired trips.
  • In 2001, about one person per minute was injured in an alcohol-related crash.

Given the prevalence of alcohol-impaired people on the roads at any given moment, the miracle may be that more people aren’t killed.

And given that several American icons are constantly in the news over their own drunken driving and subsequent escape from the consequences, it’s no wonder young Americans drink and drive. As much as we celebrate the myth of our individuality, we are merely followers in real life. And that can be dangerous.

A recent highly-publicized drunken-driving death was front page news in Hawaii this morning. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that a well-known playwright had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit when she drove the wrong way on a freeway at 3 a.m. and rammed a car head on, killing herself and seriously injuring the driver of the other car.

One wonders about the motivation of this woman until it dawns on us that she was simply too drunk to have a motive. Booze robs the brain of reason.

How do I know these things? I’ve driven drunk more times than I can count and been involved in several accidents when I was so drunk I didn’t even realize what had happened until a passenger informed me that we had just been involved in a head on collision. The other driver left the scene. He or she was obviously drunker than me. The accident didn’t teach me anything.

With boozing so prevalent, somewhere, someday, someone reading this will be killed in a drunken driving accident. You’re safer in Iraq than you are on the roads in America, especially during the season of merriment.

As I write, there are seven more days until Christmas. Some of you may prefer another name, Hanukah, perhaps, or the generic Holiday Season. It’s each person’s call. The meaning of the season can be summed up in many ways. I prefer “sobriety on Earth and good will toward men and women.”

You might think about trying my own approach to a sober lifestyle. For more than twenty years, my preferred drink has been a double Diet Coke on the rocks. I’ll take a caffeine habit over a booze habit any day.

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