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Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And many philosophies contend that our world is one consisting of opposites. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that for every good gift you could get someone this Christimas, there is an equally terrible one lurking somewhere in a store. That is why Dish is not only supplying its readers with a list of things to get this holiday season, but also a list of things not to get. We feel it keeps with the natural rhythm of things—and more importantly, it keeps you out of the doghouse/from being blacklisted/in the will. 

Ficus, Puppy

Puppies, Kittens, Four-Legged Creatures. Many years ago, friends of my family’s decided it would be nice to get a puppy for Christmas. When the puppy decided to eat ornaments and drink the water in the tree stand, they fenced off half of their downstairs with chicken wire. When the puppy got through that first line of defense, they put up another line of chicken wire closer to the tree. Still, she got through. Their Christmas card that year showed all four of them standing in front of a tilted tree with no ornaments below three feet, with two rows of chicken wire behind them, a gnawed sofa, and a puppy at their feet with some paper in her mouth. On it they wrote “Merry Christmas from the Kozors!!” But we all joked it would have been more fitting if had they put, “Merry Christmas from Kosovo!!”

 

A Ficus. Putting a tree next to another tree on Christmas morning is overkill. Even with a bow on it. Especially when the person you have gotten it for has to drive home the next day in a VW Bug. Or is a dendrophobe.

Vacuum

 

“HINT HINT” gifts. In Christianity, there’s the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In HINT HINT gifts, there’s the vacuum, the treadmill and the cookbook. The other less obvious choices are pants a waist-size bigger, a stick of deodorant, and mouthwash. And remember, nothing says “I love you” like a year’s supply of male enhancement pills. 

 

Anything in Sky Mall. So you’re on a flight home—it’s December 23rd—and you still haven’t bought gifts for anyone. That’s when you notice the newest Sky Mall in the seat in front of you. You start glancing at it and think, “Oh, ‘Basho the Sumo Wrestler Glass-Top Table’ is just the thing mother needs for her sunspace.” You pick up the Airfone and order it. You throw in some jewelry from Avatar for your sister and “Cherish” the Lifelike Baby Doll for your grandmother. Perfect, you think. They’ll love it. Two days later you’re flying home with Basho sitting next to you in the window seat and “Cherish” on the aisle.

Sky Mall
Nose Hair Trimmer

Nose-Hair Trimmer. On second thought, you might keep this one as a stocking stuffer. Just write on the tag:

 

TO: MARTIN

 

FROM: THE REST OF HUMANITY--WHO MAY HAVE TO SPEAK TO YOU AND WATCH AS YOUR NOSTRIL HAIRS DANCE WHEN YOU SAY THE WORDS HOME, SCONE, AND ORNERY.

 

A Musical Instrument for Someone Who Has Never Played Anything and Has Never Expressed A Desire to Play Anything. This includes the banjo, the trumpet, the drums, the guitar, and most importantly, the clarinet. As the astute lexicographer, Ambrose Bierce, defines it, “Clarinet, n. An instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments that are worse than a clarinet—two clarinets.”

 

Skecher’s Shape-Ups. NFL legend and four-time Super Bowl Champion, Joe Montana endorses these podiatric paradigm-shifters. "Hi, I'm Joe Montana,” he says on the commercial, “I spent sixteen years in the NFL and whatever form of a legacy I had has been completely ruined by my wearing of Skecher's Shape Ups. These things look retarded….wait are we recording right now?  Shit." Ok, so Montana didn’t really say that, but he doesn’t have to. We know, Joe. We know.

 

Go, Go Useless Gadget! The only time you’re allowed to order items like video-recoding sunglasses, the portable Wikipedia, and lawn aerating sandals is when you order them together. Because the person who would buy one of these items is the same person who would walk around his yard with 1.75-inch spikes strapped to his heels, while reading Wikipedia for truth, and recording the whole thing with his sunglasses.

Gadgets
An Original Vinyl Recording of John Cage’s 4’33”. In 1952, American composer John Cage performed for an audience in Woodstock, NY, his most radical composition to date: 4’33”. The three-movement piece was Cage’s meditation upon his firm belief that any sound constitutes music; and, thus, was written for any instrument, in any combination. All that was required of the musician or musicians was to do absolutely nothing for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. 4’33” is now considered his most famous, most controversial, and by him, most important work to this day.  Next to, of course, his book without words, 433 Pages. The track list for The Original Recording of 4’33” reads:
 

First Movement (00:30) Mr. Cage sits down and adjusts the position of his seat; he sniffs his nose and clears his throat; he cracks his knuckles. Silence. “Oh for Christ’s sake,” he says; Mr. Cage has forgotten his sheet music; he stands up, opens his piano bench to look for it and does not find it there.

 

Second Movement (02:23) Mr. Cage closes his piano bench and yells to the recording technician, “Hey, I forgot my music!” The recording technician does not hear him, so he repeats himself, “Tony, I forgot my music!” Still nothing. “HEY I FORGOT MY—oh for heavens sake,” he leans into the microphone, “TONY, I FORGOT MY MUSIC.” There is an inaudible discussion occurring in the control room. The recording technician holds up a piece of paper. “No, that’s not it.” He holds up another piece of paper. “Nope, not that either…It should say 4’33” on the top of it.”  More inaudible discussion occurs. Mr. Cage coughs. “Is it there?” Silence. “Maybe I should come help—oh, yes, that’s it. Bring it in.” Silence. A door opens. “Hey where was it?” “Right next to the console, on the table,” the recording technician responds. “Sounds like a place I’d leave it. Thanks.” Paper rustles in the pass. The recording technician walks away. A door opens and closes. Mr. Cage sits down again and adjusts the position of his seat; he sniffs his nose and clears his throat; he cracks his knuckles; paper rustles as he puts it on the music stand. “Ok…” he says to himself, exhaling. “Let’s try this again.” He clears his throat. Silence. “Wait a minute...this is just a piece of paper with 4’33” written on it!” Faint laughter is heard coming from the control room. A high-five as well. “Very funny, guys!” Mr. Cage stands up and pushes his bench back. “Hold on, I’m going to come in and look for it, myself!” Footsteps walk away, a door opens, laughter pours into the room briefly. Mr. Cage responds, “Yeah, yeah, you got me… you got me.” A door closes. Silence.

 

Third Movement (01:40) Continued silence, finally punctuated by a door opening and Mr. Cage saying, “I’ll have two sugars. No cream. And—” 

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 198 - December 2017
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