MAD DOG: Holiday Gift Suggestions for the New Millennium!

If you're like me, and I sincerely offer my sympathies if you are, you once again vowed not to wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping. But of course, you will.The key phrase here is "last minute shopping", which has different meanings to different people. To some, it means jumping in the car an hour before the stores close on Christmas Eve so you can snap up the last remaining Al Gore action figure, bottle of Mr. Ed cologne, and Austin Powers Chest Hair Chia Pet, somehow convincing yourself that they're the perfect gifts for Mom, Dad, and your younger brother. To others, last minute shopping means getting started in September when you swore you'd be finished by the Fourth of July.If that describes you I say, "Get a life." But if you're like me and haven't even thought about making a list, better yet gotten around to checking it twice, here are a few gift suggestions which may help ensure that you and your family don't end up on the Fox Network's Christmas special, "America's Best Holiday Massacres Caught on Tape."Pot luck -- This doesn't mean going into Wal-Mart, closing your eyes, and grabbing things at random, though it's true closing your eyes is a good thing to do in Wal-Mart, especially when you have to dodge the gantlet of greeters when entering the store. No, this year's first "Holiday Gift Suggestion for the New Millenium!" is marijuana. And why not? It's on sale and, face it, we all like to think of ourselves as smart shoppers. You can't pick it up at Wal-Mart, but according to an ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian you can get it at The Patients & Caregivers Health Center of San Francisco, CA. They're having their Holiday Harvest Sale! (the exclamation point is theirs) which means you can buy a "Humbolt Ounce Special [of] Quality Cannabis For The Connoisseur." Low on cash? Not to worry, they accept all Cannabis Club Cards: "At Patients & Caregivers Health Center they don't accept VISA or American Express, but they do accept Cannabis Club". The ad says they're only open from 4:00-7:00pm Monday through Friday, so schedule your shopping trip early and remember it's BYOM (Bring Your Own Munchies).Spacing Out -- Suppose there's someone on your list who really wants to space out but doesn't do drugs. What's a harried shopper to do? It's easy: buy them a suborbital space flight. There are several companies actively signing people up do this. Imagine your loved one spending a fun-filled week being subjected to face-stretching G-forces, learning to go to the bathroom in zero gravity simulators, and practicing saying "A-OK, Houston. Roger Wilco. That's a big 10-4 good buddy." Then they'll get strapped into a rocket, blasted up to 62 miles, be weightless for a whopping 2 minutes, and fall back to Earth. All for a measly $98,000 from Zegrahm Expeditions of Seattle. If that seems a little pricey, consider the $90,000 version from Space Adventures of Alexandria, Virginia (barf bag and a photo of you using it extra). The first flights are expected to take off in 2002, so hurry up and order today!The Beetles -- No, this isn't a reunion of Paul, George, and Ringo with John channeled through Posh Spice. These are real, live beetles we're talking about here. You know, the ones people in Japan keep as pets because Tokyo rents are high, living space is at a premium, and their brains are addled from having too many fantasies about Sailor Moon. But beetles really do make nice, low-maintenance pets. After all, you don't have to walk them, they don't need a smelly litter box, and they don't hump your boss' leg while at the dinner table. For most people on your list, a standard beetle will do fine. They cost about $4.50 in Japan and can be bought in pet shops, department stores, and even vending machines. (Note to self: When in Tokyo triple check every snack machine before making my selection.) But what if you have someone on your list who deserves more than a cheap bug for Christmas? Get them a pricier one! You know, something like the 3-inch stag beetle a Japanese businessman recently bought for $90,000. Personally, for that kind of money I'd just as soon puke my guts out in space.Robofly -- What do you get for someone who has everything except, hopefully, a flyswatter? You might consider a flying robot that's the size and shape of a housefly. These are actually being created by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, a school which is dangerously close to San Francisco and -- you guessed it -- the Patients & Caregivers Health Center Cannabis Sale. Thanks to a $2.5 million government grant, these scientists are trying to create a 43-milligram sun-powered robot because, well, they're not real sure, but they figure if they actually manage to get it to work they'll figure something out. Not to be outdone, the Navy's bankrolling the development of robolobster at Northeastern University and robopike at MIT. This just shows how misguided the military is. If they had any brains at all they'd abandon these dumb ideas and concentrate on making robobeetle. It would be a hit in Japan and would help the imbalance of trade caused by Honda, Sony, and Pokemon.Hopefully these suggestions will help make your Christmas shopping a little easier this year, giving you more time to relax, enjoy the season, and be prepared when "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" asks the contestant to name all of Santa's reindeer. (Hints to people like George W. Bush: Think Michael Johnson, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Richard Simmons, Jennifer Lopez, a household cleaner, Eros, cannibalistic pioneers, and a football defense.)Don't say I never gave you anything.

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