Dec 5 2011

Christmas Lists

As I worked on this year’s Christmas list, I had to ask myself why I do this; I can’t remember why I started writing a list like this. I think I got in trouble for not providing a list at all, and wrote the 2008 list to be a smart aleck. After that it was entertaining to write, and some people claimed it was entertaining to read.

As I wrote my list this year, I found out that there are some things I don’t really want. I don’t mean to say that I don’t want them at all, as I obviously kind of want them enough to put them on my Amazon wish list. But there were several items I started to add to the list but then realized that I couldn’t make an interesting or meaningful sentence to justify–even to myself–why I wanted them. So they didn’t make the cut.

I mean, what do you say about a book of Alphonse Mucha’s artwork? “I really want to commit suicide, but can’t quite manage to get motivated, what with the wonderful wife and children and nieces and students. If only I had a big book of art by an artist who is better than I will ever be to taunt me with inadequacy to push me over the edge.” Who’s going to buy me a Mucha book after that?

Now, if the book shows up I will know who wants me dead.

There are some things I know people think are a joke. They think my Christmas lists have jumped the shark.

“He doesn’t really love bitter soda that much. He’s just putting things on the list because he knows I’ll never find it.”

They have obviously never tasted Brood. But maybe I did put it on there knowing you will never find it. Same with Dreams of Flight–where the heck will you find it–and at a reasonable price?

I stopped putting black jeans on my list because I was told no-one was going to buy me black jeans–by the person who had once bought me black jeans. Fine.

Anyway, what I realized was that writing things out forces me to really think, instead of just throwing something out. And really, if I ask you for a Christmas list, it’s because I really want to buy you something, preferably something you just can’t live without. One, it will bring you some happiness, or fill a specific need (professional grade network cable crimpers don’t bring happiness per se, besides the quiet happiness of having the right tool for the job does remove the sadness that doing a job with the wrong tools often brings).

But secondly, when you use said gift you will likely think of me–and how awesome I am.

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Nov 30 2011

MadMan Dan’s Amazing Christmas List 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for children and snowmen and reindeer and presents. I believe some of the locals also observe some sort of minor commemoration, something about the birth of someone who would pay for the sins of mankind or something; as a Sunday School teacher I am a pretty busy guy, and I don’t really have time to research all the particulars.

Anyway, it’s also time for for the fourth annual MadMan Dan’s Amazing Christmas List. As I have aged a whole ‘nother year and probably
matured some, slowly making the inevitable transformation from the annoying and peurile Peter Pan to the suave and emotionally complex
Captain Hook (forsooth, mine adjectives have betrayed me! The process must be nearly complete!).

Being, therefore, Officially Old, I will say, “You don’t have to get me anything.”

But, you will no doubt counter, “How will I ensure that you remember me the whole year through?”

And that’s where you have me; in the past year I have recognized that I have several items that remind me of people and events. My green wool ivy cap reminds me of Heather and how we celebrated our anniversary on St. Patrick’s day. My blackthorn walking stick, our vacation in October of last year. And so it makes increasing (though sad) sense why no-one buys me a side of lamb–I would only be reminded of him or her while the Irish Stew lasted–and then they would be forgotten.

MadMan Dan’s Amazing Christmas List 2011

What I really want is a time machine, so I can go back in time and spend more time with my girls. Why, you ask, don’t you just spend more time with them now? Because I’m too busy. At any rate, I have realized how fleeting their time with us is, and I want to hold onto that time while I have it. Which leads us to my first wish on my wishy wish list:

A Camera. Heather and I have already decided what we are getting each other: part of a camera. Our current camera, a Kodak, has been a faithful soldier for several years now; it even survived being left out in the rain for two days a couple years ago. But alas, the camera’s battery has faded, and it is financially inadvisable to pursue maintaining it. Soooo…if you like, you can contribute. If that seems too impersonal or boring….

CD–Dreams of Flight. The year is 1989–I’ll graduate in less than a year. I’m in Best Buy, looking for music in the discount bargain bin, because, sadly, I was poor. In the bin was a cassette (look it up, kids) with a penguin on the cover for only 89 cents. How can you not risk a buck on something with a penguin on it? As I would later find out, it was an album put out by Nashville studio acoustic bass player Edgar Meyer. It turned out to be amazing. What’s the biggy, MadMan? Why don’t you just go buy it for yourself on iTunes? Or even go buy yourself a shiny new CD? Because–Edgar switch record labels, and it’s out of print. If you can find a copy of this CD used somewhere, that would be a grand gift indeed.

DVD–Paradise Lagoon (aka The Admirable Crichton). This 1957 movie starring Kenneth More was one of my favorite movies growing up. I must have watched it a dozen times. The story was written by J.M. Barrie, the guy who wrote Peter Pan (see how I brought that full circle?). This rich aristocratic family is on a cruise and they end up shipwrecked on an island, and the butler is the only one with any skills to do anything. It’s a great movie, but I haven’t seen it since it was on VHS taped off of TV. Does it even exist on DVD? Not that I have found yet, unless you count Australian bootleg DVD.

A Pennywhistle. No giant story; I just want to learn to play Irish music. I guess you better make that a pennywhistle and a bottle of whiskey 😀

Apple Brood soda. Brood is this amazing malt, hops, and barley soda with just a hint of apple sweetness, bottled in Lebanon. It’s soooooo good. ‘How could I find this amazing soda?’ you ask. I dunno. Part of the gift is simply finding the stuff. If you send me a six-pack AND the address of where to order more, you have done me a kingly service.

Books–Thirteenth Night and Jester Leaps In by Alan Gordon. This past summer I picked up a pile of books from my favorite bookstore, and one of them was A Death in the Venetian Quarter. The book starts off with four characters, and each of them has three names, and most of them are all foreign-sounding, and then the author changes narrators in chapter three, and then changes back to the original narrator in chapter four, but you don’t realize that until you are halfway through the page. I was this close to saying ‘taheckwithit’ and putting it down. But I stuck it out to chapter 5 and I was hooked. The book was amazing, a mystery set in Constantinople in 1405, with characters from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. So…the two books listed above are the first two in the series.

Leather. I like to make stuff out of leather, and they have this SWEET chestnut brown half a cow hide at this ginormous flea market in Warrensburg.

Kronus Mini Switchgrip Pliers. Transformers! More than meets the eye! As part of my everyday life, I carry a tiny pair of needle-nose pliers AND a tiny pair of wire cutters. Hold these one way–they’re pliers! Hold ’em another way–they’re wire cutters! I could carry one less item, plus have an infinitely cool tool as well.

DVD–The Importance of Being Earnest (1999). Based on the Oscar Wilde play, this movie is amazing, with a brilliant soundtrack. Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, and Judi Dench.

The Oxford English Dictionary. What Christmas list is complete without asking for an OED? You know what they call someone who loves words? I don’t know either, but I’ll bet its in that dictionary. Yeah, it’s a thousand bucks.

So…to sum up. You don’t have to get me anything. But I won’t be fake and pretend like I don’t love receiving gifts. If you get me one thing off of this list, I will be very fortunate and hopefully thankful (I am always internally thankful, but overcoming my inherent laziness to actually express gratitude for kindnesses shown me is a little harder).

Thanks for reading my not-at-all pretentious Christmas list. I hope it was worth the read.


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Dec 4 2009

My Christmas List 2009

Once again I have been asked to provide a Christmas List. You would have thought that people learned after reading last year’s, but you would be wrong. To you readers who did not specifically ask for or hint at what to buy me for Christmas, don’t buy me anything: this is strictly for your amusement.

You might wonder why I don’t just refrain from giving a list and thus thwart those very generous persons, but the answer is this: I have some stubborn relatives  (which is probably where Heather gets it). Besides, I like to buy people things, and it aggravates the heck out of me when they won’t give me a list either.

At the very least, you deserve something that is hopefully well-written, interesting, and humorous to read.

So at any rate, whether you buy me a thing or not, please enjoy the list. You may notice some repeats from last year. For the repeats that you do not notice, thank you very much for those nice gifts.

MadMan Dan’s Christmas & Birthday List 2009
(abridged)

Delicious Monster. As I have mentioned ad infinitum, I love books. New books, old books, handmade books, you name it. Thankfully, I did receive both shelves and shelving materials this past year. What does this have to do with monsters of the yummy variety? Delicious Monster is software that helps you organize your library, and keep track of your books, especially if you have a habit of loaning them out and forgetting to whom you loaned them. Or even worse, loaning them in and not returning them.

Dress shirts. You don’t want to see me topless do you? I didn’t think so. I just need some long sleeve, button up dress shirts, in either black or green. Neck is 15-1/2 – 16, and the other numbers inside my shirt say 32/33.

Bowler derby hat. The older I get the more I like old things; first it was the handmade journals, then it was the book press to hand-make journals with. Now it is the now-archaic custom of wearing a hat. My favorite is the Belfry Deuce-Stingy Brim Bowler.

Lamb Shanks. No, there is no hidden irony in this request. I really want lamb meat. The reason is that since last Christmas when I first made O So Glorious Irish Lamb Stew, I have been addicted to the dang stuff. Problem is, lamb meat is expensive and hard to come by. At least one day of my typical week goes like this:

Heather: What do you want for dinner?

Me: Irish Stew!

Heather: We can’t afford Irish Stew. Besides, Piggly Wiggly doesn’t have any lamb meat.

Me: Fine. I don’t want anything. I’ll just starve to death.

Set of 36 Marking Punches. Now that I am starting to acquire tools with which to fix things around the house, it would be nice to have some way to mark them with my name and lucky number.

Wireless X-Box 360 controller. Come on; what am I going to say about this? Um…I need this to pwn n00bs. Happy?

Digital Innovations SkipDr. Motorized AutoMax Scratch Repair System. Someone in my house keeps leaving discs out and they tend to get kind of scratched. Someone told me he came to an unhappy end and drowned in the creek, but I could see him if I peered in.

1.1 Liter MSR Stowaway Pot. Someday I hope to eventually go on a backpacking trip that doesn’t start out with me going to the hospital with heart problems. If that ever happens, I would use this pot to cook up some amazing stew.

Apple Brood. What the heck is Brood? It’s this malt-flavored soda pop that’s bottled in Lebanon. Yes, that Lebanon. I don’t know where to order it; right now I just have to buy a few bottles here and there whenever I go to eat at the Habashi House.

Blackthorn bush. Blackthorn is a shrub that grows in the UK, and the Irish use it to make shillelaghs. I intend to do the same thing, but the stuff’s so hard to get ahold of. I tried to grow my own, but it’s too hard. It’s also known as Sloe-berry or by its Latin name, Prunus Spinosa. Where can ya get it? Kick me if I know.

The Oxford English Dictionary. What’s so special about this dictionary? It’s the dictionary. Every word in the English language dating back to the time when Beowulf was the new hot item. This thing is 20 volumes, weighs in at about a Brazilian pounds, and costs about 1,000 bucks. So don’t buy me it. I mean it. So why did I list it? Because how can you not list an item that you have to say in the drooly Homer voice?

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