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It's Not the Gift That Counts, It's....Okay, It's the Gift

Once again the holiday season is upon us, the time of year when our thoughts turn to peace, joy, goodwill towards everyone, and trying to remember where we stashed that mistletoe belt buckle which worked so well last year. It also means buying presents, since it turns out the unshaven red-suited poster boy for the Fast Food Nation doesn't really exist, so it's up to either you or the Keebler Elves to make sure there's something under the tree on Christmas morning. Just in case those elves are too busy auditioning for "Under The Rainbow-2" to help out, here are a few gift suggestions for those difficult-to-shop-for people on your list.

Dungeon Doll Barbie - Like a real-life angel Clarence saving George Bailey's butt just in the nick of time, a U.S. District Court judge has paved the way for excited Christmas morning faces by ruling that Mattel Inc. can't stop an English woman from selling a Barbie dressed up in a "Lederhosen-style Bavarian bondage dress and helmet in rubber with PVC mask and waspie." Of course you may have to go on eBay to find one since she quit selling the dolls and closed her web site a year ago when the suit was first filed. You also may need to go to a dictionary to discover that a waspie is a type of corset. (If you don't, you might consider keeping that information to yourself.) Originally priced at $186, this Barbie is a step up from last year's gift suggestion, the "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" Barbie which came demurely dressed in a fur-trimmed gold satin jacket, black skirt, gloves, hose, and a handbag, an outfit seen on the streets of San Francisco approximately 1/100th as often as Dungeon Barbie's. If this is a success, look for Kinky Ken, S&M Skipper, and Mistress Midge to arrive in stores next year.

Why Cry - Do you have someone on your list who's been begging for a Baby Crying-English dictionary but you just haven't been able to find one no matter how much time you waste in a sex chat room trying to tear yourself away to look on Amazon.com? Now you can surprise them with something even better. Well, as long as you're in Spain. It's Why Cry, a calculator-size device that translates a baby's crying into four languages. Just kidding. Actually it translates it into an image of a facial expression so you'll know whether the baby is hungry, tired, stressed, needs a diaper change, or just enjoys waking you up at 4:00 AM because you're the one who wouldn't let her stay in that nice comfy amniotic suspension chamber for another month or two. Why Cry performs this modern miracle by measuring the volume, pattern, and interval of the cries, very much like the recently released Bowlingual does for dog barks, except those are translated into Japanese phrases rather than Spanish facial expressions. If you need to buy a gift for someone with a baby and a dog, you're really in luck. Buy one of each so they can talk to each other, leaving Mom and Dad more time to dress up like life-sized Dungeon Barbie and Kinky Ken.

Duct Tape - While it's true nothing says divorce like giving your loved one a set of kitchen measuring cups, metric socket wrenches, or a dryer lint screen scraper for Christmas, this is duct tape we're talking about, the gift that's endorsed by Bob Vila, Click and Clack, and now the "Archives of Pediatric" and "Adolescent Medicine" (motto: "It's a phase; they'll outgrow it"). According to a report in the magazine's October issue, duct tape is not only good for fixing anything around the house, but also for removing warts. It's true. A doctor had patients put duct tape on their warts for up to two months, after which time they'd all been ostracized by all their friends for looking so geeky. But they didn't care because their warts were gone. Well, 85 percent of the time anyway. The other 15 percent of the people had to resort to Superglue or red hot iron rivets to get rid of theirs. This new use for duct tape should come as no surprise since it has been used to repair carbon dioxide filters on Apollo 13, tape a defendant's mouth shut in court and, in states other than California, hold heating ducts together. In California, you see, it's illegal to use cloth duct tape for its named purpose. The state is also considering outlawing the use of shoe laces on shoes, pipe cleaners on pipes, and turkey basters for anything other than helping create Michael Jackson's offspring, so hurry and stock up while you can.

Your Ad On A Police Car -Who on your list wouldn't enjoy seeing a personalized ad for them plastered on a police car? Okay, other than Uncle Vito who doesn't want to waste all that money he shelled out for cosmetic surgery. Now you can give this gift thanks to a company in Charlotte, NC which realized that not every square inch of possible advertising space had already been used, in spite of ads showing up on the side of a Russian Proton rocket, imprinted in the sand at the beach, and in the name of the Oregon town that became Half.com in return for a few computers. The company, Government Acquisitions, is offering to give police departments free cars if they can put ads on the hood, side, and rear. The common police department motto, "To serve and protect," will take on entirely new meaning when there are ads for McDonald's and Trojan condoms staring you in the face as you're being handed your speeding ticket. So far 20 police departments have agreed to this, so just think how much nicer it will be to have your loved one's face on a police car rather than a wanted poster in the post office.

Hopefully these suggestions will make your Christmas shopping just a little easier since there's something here for just about everyone. And everything for one person if you happen to know someone who wants to advertise their new service: duct taping crying Bondage Barbies' mouths closed. Happy Shopping!

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email:

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