One of the Internet's many excellent traits is its desire to sell you wacky, offbeat and downright weird stuff that no bricks-and-mortar store in its right mind would stock.
Thanks to the time-honored custom of unwrapping gifts in full sight of easily embarrassed friends and family members, you should think of each package, box and bag as an opportunity to cause a little holiday mayhem.
What could be better than the surprise of a silly, shocking or wildly inappropriate gift to jazz up an otherwise predictable present exchange?
We here at the sprawling Web Watch Giftplex prefer presents that not only raise eyebrows and cause uncomfortable pauses in the conversation but make the giftee think twice about the intent of the gifter. We're just evil that way. Here are a few ideas:
For the movie fanatic on your list: From www.toothpastefordinner.com, the Web site of an artist and musician who combines stick-figure art with wry observations, is a $15 PoMo T-shirt featuring two wildly gesticulating guys talking at each other. One says, "Movie quote." The other says, "Ha, ha, another movie quote!" Bonus tee for the chemist on your list: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."
For your golfer bud who thinks he's a little funnier than he is: At www.sandtrapgifts.com is an $8.95 three-dimensional car window sticker that looks like a golf ball embedded in cracked glass. Like a real golf ball got stuck in your window! Get it? The site also offers similar baseball and hockey puck stickers. The only upside we can see to these is that at least they're not fake bullet holes, which were all the rage a couple of years ago.
If you're psyched about getting this, it should tell you something: You know what's cool? Moon rocks. Or meteorites. Any rocks from space. You can buy chunks and slices of meteorites and even Moon dust on the Internet. Authentic? Who knows! If you want a piece of something authentic and even geekier, try this: A $19.95 six-inch slice of silicon wafer, "matted and ready for framing," reads www.thetech.org, Web site of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.
Speaking of geek, don't miss the Geek Mall: The site, www.thinkgeek.com, advertised as "stuff for smart masses," at least has a sense of humor about itself. For instance, the $85 Mathmos Airswitch is a table lamp that can be turned on and off by passing your hand over it, "like a Jedi using the Force," the site reads. Chick magnet! But really, what holiday gift can top a belt buckle? What boy hasn't received one from a well-intentioned-if-misguided father who was dead-solid certain that a collection of Franklin Mint brass belt buckles would hold their value better than, say, stocks or actual cash? Well, if only ol' Dad could see this: a scrolling LED belt buckle, starting at $24.99, capable of displaying up to six messages, each 256 characters long. The programming possibilities boggle the mind: What message would you like crawling across your midsection?
Okay, now I'm in it up to my eyeballs. Back in September, I test-drove AirTroductions.com, which promises to bring Match.com to the skies, pairing up travelers who want to meet fellow travelers for fun flings. I input my profile, described who I was looking for and launched it on a couple of bogus trips. Days passed, then weeks, then geologic epochs. Nothing. For grins, I logged back on yesterday.
Got a match.
A certain "crk77, 28, Female" popped up, a very attractive blonde who says she is a consultant in Manhattan who grew up in the Midwest and is "generally very nice." (Generally? What, in between knife-wielding mood swings?) She does not say if she is at least a catalogue-level model (my requirement) or likes receiving jewelry. (Okay, okay. I needed bait.) There's got to be a flaw in the software, however. I listed myself as 41 years old and she said she's looking for a 28-to-32-year-old.
I could lie and say the site misread my age as "41" when I really typed in "31." It's an idea.