You shouldn’t have.

From the way the right-wing blogs are reacting, you’d think the president gave the queen of England a Magic Wand, instead of an iPod and a rare songbook signed by Richard Rodgers. Coming in the same week as Hillary’s “gaffe” — allegedly asking a Mexican priest “who painted” Juan Diego’s “miraculous” cloak, and that remains a one-source story, so buyer beware — and followed by his gift of DVDs to the British prime minister, well, you can just imagine. Rule of three, worstpresidentever, game over.

Yes, I’m sure HRH would have enjoyed a nice crystal bowl, or perhaps a gift basket from Hickory Farms.

Gift-giving is an art that not everyone does well. Take the Queen, for instance — her gift to the O’s was a framed photo of herself, her default gift for visiting dignitaries and, frankly, the sort of thing that makes an iPod look like a deed to one’s own private island. Diplomatic gift-giving is another breed of cat, as there are all sorts of nuances to consider. I agree the DVD set of classic American movies was pretty tacky in comparison to Gordon Brown’s gift to the president, an ornamental pen holder crafted from the timbers of a Victorian anti-slave ship. That’s a perfect diplomatic gift, acknowledging history and the relationship between nations, while being nothing more difficult to find room for in a home than an ornamental pen holder.

Obama needs a better gifting advisor, maybe. But I disagree that the iPod was off-the-charts awful. The key to great gift-giving is empathy, asking yourself, “If I were this person, what would I like to have?” Put yourself in the Queen’s shoes, your daily life a damp ordeal of Duty, Protocol and accepting bouquets from schoolchildren. Maybe you’d like a nifty gadget that would allow you to pop in those earbuds and escape from it all for a while, a symbol of American ingenuity, rather than a tapestry or one more proper token of national esteem. Maybe you wouldn’t. But at some point everything gets logged and shoved in a closet somewhere, so what’s the dif?

Ronald Reagan was a horseman, and over the course of his presidency someone was always handing him the halter rope leading to a magnificent steed. One, I think, actually made it to the ranch in California. Now there’s a gift.

The queen should have given the Obamas a Corgi puppy from her own kennels. Failing that, maybe she deserves an iPod.

Over the years, LAMary has entertained us with many tales of her ex’s lousy gift-giving, but I’m calling on the rest of you: What’s the worst gift you’ve ever given or gotten? Herpes, a praise-music CD, a signed copy of a book by an author you hate? I cannot participate. My husband gives the best gifts ever. He remembers an offhand remark I made in July and it finds its way under my Christmas tree in December. A marvel of thoughtfulness I do not deserve. Oh, wait, there’s probably one, during a bad breakup when a boyfriend said, “Let’s go shopping and buy you something expensive.” Unspoken: So I can then be shut of this relationship guilt-free. I refused to go.

So, bloggage:

I tried to make time to read this story all day yesterday, and failed, so you take a stab at it. Once before I die, I’d like to attend a full production of Wagner’s Ring cycle, which is why it caught my eye. I didn’t realize Wagner has a cast of hangers-on not unlike the Grateful Dead, or Phish. Now I do.

Short shrift today, I know, but that’s why I depend on you guys. Maybe something later. Ciao.

Posted at 9:21 am in Current events |

76 responses to “You shouldn’t have.”

  1. Connie said on April 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

    My husband is seriously gift giving impaired. Every Christmas my daughter drags him out shopping and picks out all the gifts he should buy. Worst gift: maybe ten years ago, a gray cable cardigan sweater that looked like something my grandma used to wear. Once his buddy took him shopping to a favorite store and he came home with the perfect gift – for his buddy’s wife.

    374 chars

  2. derwood said on April 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

    The worst gift recently…not herpes but a fun case of Bells Palsy which is caused by one of the herpes viruses. The emeregnecy room cardiologist is telling us that it is caused by a form of herpes and then he proceeds to say “not the sex herpes” while doing an up and down motion with both hands. I wanted to roll out of the hospital bed in laughter. Things are better after 3 weeks. I can blink and lift my left eyebrow…so I am making progress.

    Worst gift…for our wedding we got a set of 4 Indiana Glass green glasses that had so much dust inside them and on the outside of the box that you could write your name in it. It was a re-gift of the worst magnitude. I would have at least wiped the glasses down and cleaned up the box. Not that I would have re-gifted something for a wedding gift.


    810 chars

  3. judybusy said on April 2, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Worst gift received: At age early 30s: pink sweatshirt with a teddybear on it, from my clueless dad, likely picked out by his wife. Oh, and when I was ten a bracelet with my name misspelled, also from my father. “Dad, it’s J-o-d-i, not y.”

    Worst given: several gardening tools to my partner, until she gently pointed out that these were things I actually wanted. I now give awesomely–honest!

    395 chars

  4. Dexter said on April 2, 2009 at 9:48 am

    My ex-wife was style conscious and she was both mad and incredulous when I returned from Manhattan with a gift for her of dangling earrings from Macy’s.
    I thought I was being considerate…I found out I was a stupid farm boy who didn’t know shit. Damn things cost me a week’s pay …that I remember!
    The worst thing I did, though, was to give my little step-daughter a used bicycle for Christmas. A kid’s first bike should be a shiny new one. At least I corrected my mistake and trashed the never-ridden second-hand bicycle and bought her a brand new one for an Easter gift, which she loved…but I cringe when I remember the look on her little face when, amongst her new toys, there sat that hideous old bicycle. I still didn’t know shit, but I was learning!

    Now as to the worst gift I ever received, I have THE worst…my brother returned from an Alaskan sales trip with a gift for me…genuine Alaskan moose shit in a bag. And I kid you not. He’s usually great with gifts. He gave my my first digital camera and a great bicycling helmet.

    1055 chars

  5. jeff borden said on April 2, 2009 at 9:52 am

    In an office gift exchange some years ago, someone gave me a CD by John Tesh. I thought it was a gag gift and laughed uproariously, only to see a hint of hurt in the eyes of the giver. The CD, she explained, was very relaxing to her and given my hyperness, she thought I would enjoy it, too.

    So, it was an awful gift, but I felt more awful for having guffawed at it. It is currently among the offerings in some dark corner of the Chicago Public Library, among the scores of old CDs I donated.

    495 chars

  6. coozledad said on April 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I had a friend who made thousand island dressing and handed it out in Mason jars for Christmas. He was all “It’s the thought that counts!”, but it must have led to a lot of Samuel Beckett moments. The worst gift I ever gave anyone was “Works”
    by ELP. I gave it to the guy who made the thousand Island dressing.

    311 chars

  7. jeff borden said on April 2, 2009 at 10:00 am

    BTW, the story about the iPod gift being some sort of gaffe has been debunked. The reporter was some halfwit with a blog associated with the Telegraph in London, and it was picked up by the little pecksniffs on the right to demonstrate the ineptitude of the O-Man. Turns out the iPod features footage of the Queen’s last visit to the States and a bunch of other cool stuff. The other gift was a songbook signed by Richard Rogers.

    I don’t want to get all political, but President Obama has been in office less than 90 days and conservatives already are so worked up and angry, you wonder what they’ll do for a second act. Rush Limbaugh gets more disgusting by the day, yesterday opining that Gordon Brown might contract “anal poisoning” for bowing so much to Obama. The lunatic Glenn Beck is actively casting Obama as a Nazi. The stupidest representative in Congress –no mean feat– Michelle Bachmann is an inch away for calling for armed rebellion. The rightwing blogosphere vibrates with quivering rage and talks of stockpiling guns when they’re not contemplating setting up a Galt-like republic on some deserted island.

    Part of me wants to laugh at this as an example of impotent range run wild but another part of me worries about someone acting on these crazy statements.

    If this is how these losers are talking after three months, what level of insanity will they reach in Obama’s second term?

    1408 chars

  8. michaela said on April 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

    One of my best friends from high school to this very day is a guy I will call B. He is the brother I never had — an awesome guy who gives me crap when I deserve it (and sometimes when I don’t) and who would drop everything for my family and me if we ever needed it. We were in and out of each others’ houses all through h.s. and college. After college graduation, I moved 2,000 miles away to work with Native American kids in New Mexico. Came home at Christmas time and eventually made my way over to B’s house. His mom sat us down in the his-and-hers recliners she and her husband favored and gave us matching gift-wrapped boxes. Inside each box? A T-shirt with an enormous photo of the two of us at B’s college graduation. (The clear implication being that we Belonged Together Forever. Which, eww.)

    B looked like he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him for eternity. I think – but can not guarantee – that I stammered something quasi-graceful and then hastily made my exit. Kept the shirt in the bottom of my drawer for a loooong time but eventually put it in a Goodwill bag. I try not to think too hard about where that photo of us might have ended up….

    1171 chars

  9. Dexter said on April 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Thousand island, eh? Wow. The album had Carl Palmer’s artistry, at least; don’t sell yourself short, coozy.

    Once a foreman gave all us workers an “airline bottle” of whiskey for a holiday gift, and we got him a quart of Jim Beam. He handed me mine and I said thanks and immediately opened it and drained it. Ah, the good old days! Do that now and you are tested and fired on the spot.

    391 chars

  10. mark said on April 2, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Obama gifts: They really have been awful. I’ll take your word for it that all of us right-wingers insist that makes Obama worst president ever. Somebody in his office of protocol has no sense of graciousness. An Ipod that includes a selection of Obama’s greatest hits? Nothing says “but enough about you, let’s talk about me”…

    The Queen’s gift: Pretty pedestrian. But, given Obama’s brief gift-giving history, she may have been afraid of upstaging him. Reasonable fear it seems.

    Corgi puppy: Great idea. Delightful dogs. My ten-year old Corgi is stretched out at my feet as I type.

    Immodestly, I’m a great gift-giver. Have to admit, though, that I’m a predatory gift giver at times and access to cash (which I used to have) and connections (which I still have)makes gift giving easier. Best gifts:

    To a depressed sister going through an unwanted divorce- took her to the Banff Springs Hotel and Spa for a four day getaway.

    To a romantic interest- A 140 year-old reproduction of a 1000 year-old Korean medicine box, used by royalty/elite when on the road. Appears to be a one foot wooden cube, inlaid, hinged in the back and locking in the front. When opened, it is a two foot by one foot by six inch medicine cabinet, with 72 separate drawers. Looked cool on a coffee table, functional as a jewelry box. About $100 (15 years ago) through a friend in Seoul in the antique business.

    For readers, a first edition of a favorite book. Often quite inexpensive.

    For a life-long friend on his appointment to an Ambassadorship, a humidor (American made, of course) worthy of the position and accomplishment.

    I love giving gifts. And Corgis.

    1678 chars

  11. Mindy said on April 2, 2009 at 10:18 am

    For Christmas a few years I got a fake fur jacket in ghastly shades of burnt orange and maroon, a hideous palette on me. Wore it once for a few moments to ring the doorbell at the home of my BFF. She answered with a horrified look on her face and screamed, “Take it off so I can burn it! Then go home and nail garlic to your doors and windows so it can’t get you again!” Unfortunately, it still lives with me hidden in a portable closet in the basement. Dear old mum never forgets a gift she gave and often asks if whatever she gifted is being used.

    I remember reading that the Japanese are forever giving each other pens as safe gifts, Parker pens in particular. Excellent diplomatic gift and so very safe.

    716 chars

  12. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2009 at 10:24 am

    A friend received a stuffed pink poodle with dancing shoes and a lady-of-the-evening outfit, which she then brought to a white elephant exchange. It was truly the most tasteless thing I have ever seen, and I regret that no one there had a camera. It kept us in giggles for the whole evening.

    And I have received that praise music CD from an aunt. Recorded by her local church choir. ‘Nuff said?

    400 chars

  13. TR said on April 2, 2009 at 10:26 am

    An friend of mine gave me a pair of sterling silver earrings for Christmas 1997. The kicker? THEY WERE SHAPED LIKE SPERM. Needless to say, they never saw my earlobes.

    166 chars

  14. Jolene said on April 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I actually think the iPod was a fine gift. American technology plus American music plus a reminder of the Queen’s connection to the U.S. The iPod was loaded w/ American show tunes, as well as video footage of the Queen’s 2007 visit to the U.S.

    Am still thinking about my worst gift. That nothing comes to mind immediately suggests that (1) I’ve been lucky, (2) I have thoughtful friends and family members, or (3) I have a poor memory.

    715 chars

  15. Peter said on April 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I think I belong in the bad gift hall of fame. I, like Nancy’s husband, remembers what the spouse said sometime in July and it makes it under the Christmas tree. Except in my case I bought her a humidifier. At least my spouse has learned – we go shopping in early November, she’ll hold something up and say “Wow, that would make a great christmas gift”, and a month later my son reminds me what it was and I get it.

    418 chars

  16. Catherine said on April 2, 2009 at 10:53 am

    My stepmother’s gift giving is so extremely bad that my sister has asked her to just stop any gifting whatsoever. One example: acrylic champagne glasses with stems that are shaped like “2000.” In 1999, at least. Sometimes she gets it, though — I have a lovely set of hand-embroidered tea towels that she picked up at a church boutique.

    Judybusy, your garden shears story makes me think of the year I gave my husband a bunch of DVDs with musicals like Guys and Dolls and Easter Parade. He gave me a knife that is too long for my knife block, and can only be used to slice things like grilled tri-tip (carving being his job). Kind of 21st century twist on Gift of the Magi.

    681 chars

  17. brian stouder said on April 2, 2009 at 10:55 am

    once, on a trip to Maryland (Sharpsburg/Hagerstown), before we were married, Pam and I stopped for gasoline in West Virginia, and along with my soda pop (or whatever) I spotted something that made me laugh – a salt and pepper shaker set shaped like little pink piggies, with “West Virginia – One Big Happy Family” (or something like that) printed on them – and I bought them and surprised Pam with them in the car…and she remained mad at me for many, many miles on the interstate! Still, she married me – so she had her forewarning…

    544 chars

  18. Kirk said on April 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I don’t go to church, but there’s definitely good praise music and bad praise music.

    84 chars

  19. msmeta said on April 2, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I received a sweater for Christmas from a “best-friend” work colleague that was used. I’d even seen her wear it. And it was UGLY, not my colors at all. I realized that the gift represented some real work-related hostilities she harbored that I had been oblivious to up to that point. Wake-up call. I wasn’t so chummy after that.

    328 chars

  20. Jen said on April 2, 2009 at 11:46 am

    The uproar over Obama’s gift makes me want to smack my head against a wall. Or, maybe smack someone elses’ head against the wall. Or something.

    The iPod was a nice gift, especially in conjunction with the Rodgers songbook.

    One of the links I saw also complained about how Michelle Obama didn’t curtsy, but apparently the Queen didn’t mind because she put her arm around Mrs. Obama, a rare thing. (The AP story about that is here: The British press liked her, too.

    Were the same people complaining when Bush gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a shoulder rub at the G8 summit a few years back? That was probably more of a break in protocol, though, honestly, I didn’t find that to be a particularly big deal either.

    815 chars

  21. nancy said on April 2, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Americans should never, ever curtsy to a monarch. We fought a war over that one. I am barely tolerant of the you-can’t-shake-her-hand-unless-she-extends-hers-first rule, but I figure anyone who shakes as many hands as she does can set her own policy.

    250 chars

  22. alex said on April 2, 2009 at 11:54 am

    The mention of Reagan and gift horses above calls to mind a video clip they used to play in a bar in Chicago back in the ’80s. Anyone remember it?

    Reagan was being presented with a horse by Her Royal Majesty the Queen. During the gifting ceremony, the horse sprouted an enormous erection. Everyone was trying to keep a straight face. In his thank you speech, Reagan broke the tension by commenting upon it and everyone laughed.

    431 chars

  23. Sue said on April 2, 2009 at 11:55 am

    My mother in law has excellent taste, except for when she doesn’t. So we never know what’s going to show up. Currently we have to keep a godawful cutesy picture of a girl and her precious precious precious dog handy so we can hang it up quick when she comes over.
    A coworker and I have an ongoing gift giving contest. We are each required to bring the other a tacky gift whenever we go on vacation. An 8-inch red plastic eiffel tower holds pride of place on the shelf above my computer. Oh, I love that thing; it’s perfect on so many levels of tackiness. I can’t compare, he is the tacky gift master.
    I think the Queen would have really appreciated a White Sox jersey.
    Wagner: during high school I had the good luck to have two German teachers who were natives. I didn’t realize until years later that high-school-level German classes did not include a lot of information on the culture and history of Germany. Mad Ludwig with his castles and his love of Wagner are quite dear to me as a result.

    1010 chars

  24. Jason T. said on April 2, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Jolene and Jen, stop trying to confuse us with your “facts” and “logic”!

    72 chars

  25. Sue said on April 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Msmeta: ooh, workplace hostility gift-giving. That one is a comment board in itself. One Christmas at the library where I used to work, staff was so angry at the director (don’t ask, it accumulates) that they gave him a Christmas gift that was designed to piss him off in every way possible. They collected the usual amount, then made a donation to a charity that they cared about but he didn’t. So – he didn’t get a gift (he likes presents), the charity wasn’t to his taste, and he had to express his gratitude for their thoughtfulness. Brilliant and evil – I love these people.

    585 chars

  26. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Kirk, I do go to church, and there is no good praise music.

    59 chars

  27. beb said on April 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    My wife and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary later this year. I think one key to our success, besides not having forgotten an anniversary yet, is my ability to not remember gifts given or received. Can’t harbor a grudge over what you can’t remember.

    255 chars

  28. Jen said on April 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Nancy, I had kinda thought the same thing about the curtsying issue, but then I thought maybe I just wasn’t up on what was the correct thing to do diplomatically. You’re right, of course.

    I’m trying to think of the worst gift I’ve gotten, but I’m pretty easy to please.

    272 chars

  29. Scout said on April 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Chip Reid of CBS News reported: “This evening, the president visited Buckingham Palace for a private audience with the queen and husband Prince Philip. Mr. Obama’s gift for the queen? A video iPod with footage of her 2007 trip to Washington — a gift that “officials say she requested.””

    Yet another self-servative nontroversy. Adult diaper sales must be through the roof these days, as much as these people crap themselves over every little thing.

    451 chars

  30. Linda said on April 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    My sister doesn’t read this site, but she might qualify re: worst gift. When her oldest child was a baby, and her husband had just been thrown out of his job, they got as a gift from her MIL: 2 gravesites in Youngstown, Ohio, where her hubby comes from. Just what a broke, struggling young couple with a baby needed for Christmas. Sis doesn’t even like being there alive and mobile, much less for eternity.

    408 chars

  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Oh, Julie, you’re breaking my heart . . . (i’m on lunch break from my delightful training – hooray for Subway with wifi!).

    I thought the point on the iPod was it was the video function that it was set up for; like giving Her High-n-Mightyness a digital photo album. Sounds good to me. Seriously, you all keep claiming that all conservatives are tuned to the forked tongues of Beck, Hannity, and Limburger, vibrating uncontrollably to their silent tones that only we can hear, controlling our vital bodily fluids.

    Quite a few of us listen to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinski (sp?) in the am, click NRO and, oh, this site during the day, and listen to NPR on the way home (and watch Idol at night, thanking the Lord for sending Megan home, none too soon). I hear more about the Foaming-at-the-Mouth Cartel here than i do anywhere else — be careful you don’t start believing that it really is the ocean you hear in that conch shell you’ve got up to your ear.

    967 chars

  32. Joan said on April 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    My prissy (late) Aunt Edna gave my brothers and me turquoise blue lucite paperweights that commemorated America’s bicentennial. They were hideous and we wanted no part of them. After that, my mother made a sport of putting them in our stockings every year, which gave us a chance to reject them all over again. I was disappointed, however, when they moved to a retirement community and we pared down their possessions before the move, that we couldn’t find them.

    462 chars

  33. Sue said on April 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Someone fill me in on “praise music”. Different from gospel or straight hymns?
    Also, who’s the commenter who occasionally comments on Breaking Bad? How about the stolen tiara baby gift?

    188 chars

  34. Jean S said on April 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    My husband has the ability to give gifts that, at the time, seem a little wonky–and then a year or so later, you realize that they’re brilliant.

    His aunt, however, would routinely regift little bits of crap (think cheap candles that had been part of her golf group). Fortunately, I’m good at the fake “hey, thanks!” response.

    329 chars

  35. Jolene said on April 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Linda, that really is the worst gift I’ve ever heard of. And it would have been so easy to give them any number of things they’d have been thrilled to get.

    Worst gift I ever gave was not a gift, but a Valentine’s Day card for a boyfriend. The boyfriend in question was someone I wanted to break up with, but I hadn’t managed to do it yet. So, I gave him, apparently, a noncommittal card along with, I imagine, a gift of some sort. I’m vague about the details because they didn’t seem important at the time. They only became important the next year when, after having broken up and moved away, I accepted his invitation to return for a visit. He wanted to restart the relationship. (Yes, I really am that wonderful.) I made it clear that I wasn’t promising anything, but I said that I would come.

    When I got there, I inadvertently bought him another copy of the same noncommittal card that I’d given him the year before. His response: Gee, Jolene, it’s nice to know your feelings for me haven’t changed.

    After that, we really did break up.

    1057 chars

  36. Colleen said on April 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I love the Korean medicine box gift. I want one!

    Worst gift? A “certificate” from a boss for an additional vacation day. For a staff that routinely lost vacation days every year, because we couldn’t fit them all in and could only carry over 3 into the next year. The gift that said “I wanted to do nothing, but I had to do something, so this actually IS nothing, but it looks like something, so I am good”.

    413 chars

  37. Joe Kobiela said on April 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I know a great gift we could all send Ms.Nall
    A fruit cake.
    I remember a telling tales, she wrote about her LOVE of fruit cake.
    I actually received a sample of fruit cake in the mail once, it was wrapped in plastic, guess you were suppose to sample it, then order.
    Pilot Joe

    279 chars

  38. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    *Begin rant*
    Praise music: dumbed down music and theology repeated 20 times. Does not worry about fitting the liturgical calendar or the Bible lectionary. Does like to be performed in the front of the church with bad synthesizer, guitars, and drums.
    “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways” 1 Corinthians 13:11
    *End rant*

    429 chars

  39. Allan Connery said on April 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Speaking of Wagnerites, have you ever heard Anna Russell’s summary of the Ring cycle? It still cracks me up, more than 50 years after it was first recorded.
    It’s one of the gems on the Anna Russell Album, available dirt cheap at Amazon (don’t forget to use your Kickback Lounge link!)
    Here’s the product link.

    417 chars

  40. Kirk said on April 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Yeah, seeing as how I don’t go to church, how the hell would I know what the narrow definition of praise music is? I have to trust Julie on this.

    Pardon my ignorance. I thought it just meant gospel music, as in Yolanda Adams, the Mississippi Mass Choir and such, which stirs my soul.

    287 chars

  41. Connie said on April 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I occasionally say that if they would go back to King James and traditional hymns – just for Christmas – I might actually go to church on Christmas.

    Traditional hymns are mostly about grandeur and glory. Praise music is all about “me”. I am here to worship you. I I I.

    My girlfriend and kids showed up for a visit a few months ago and brought along a laptop, a couple of dance pads, and on the laptop was a version of Dance Dance Revolution – Christian Praise version. Who knew.

    488 chars

  42. Dorothy said on April 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I loved the iPod gift. I think it was spot-on. I love imagining the grandkids teaching Grammy the Queen how to use it.

    I can’t recall any bad gifts – I like to dwell on the positives. When Mike and I were dating, the day before I went in to get my tonsils out (at age 17), he took me out to dinner and gave me a Golden Book called “Goodbye Tonsils.” Then very quietly at the table he sang to me “Happy Trails to you, until we EAT again!!” He has an awful voice but I seem to remember him being on key for this one little song!

    beb @ 27 – well said. When is your anniversary? Our 30th anniversary will be 10/27 this year.

    I just have to share this recently-scanned picture of my mom. I mentioned her diphtheria in comments in the last day or two. This was her high school graduation picture (after she recovered.) I had a friend who said she thought my mom resembled Grace Kelly a little. See what you all think:

    985 chars

  43. nancy said on April 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I know a thread is good when I come back and find five newbies I have to pre-approve. (So scan back through and find the ones you missed.) You guys are so best. If we all lived in the same town, I’d have a party with that Amazon money so we could all share.

    That said, the graves in Youngstown wins the thread, hands down. (It helps if you’ve ever been to Youngstown, which is Ohio’s sadder, less picturesque version of Detroit.)

    432 chars

  44. Rana said on April 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Try popular Lutheran religious music for tedium – D. and I once attended the St. Olaf Choir (if you listen to Prairie Home Companion, they’re often featured) and discovered that it featured 400 very talented, beautifully-voiced young people singing in perfect harmony… the dullest, blandest songs in the world. One young man with an astonishing voice even managed to turn “This Little Light of Mine” into a funereal dirge. After the first two we started poking each other and counting the matching Norwegian sweaters to stay awake.

    535 chars

  45. Julie Robinson said on April 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Beb and Dorothy–also 30 years, on 8/18.
    Connie–our church still sings traditional Lutheran hymns with a magnificent pipe organ. But no King James. It is mellifluous but difficult to figure out the meaning.

    Edit: Rana, you just proved why we have so many styles of music. St. Olaf performs the style of music I love the best! I don’t find listening to them dull or bland; just the opposite.

    400 chars

  46. call me "redacted" said on April 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Worst gift ever: An Air Supply cassette, from a man who was cheating on his wife.

    81 chars

  47. judybusy said on April 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed today’s comments. My faves: Scout, for the adult diapers comment; the gravesite gift does win hands-down; and Jolene’s story about the same card.

    165 chars

  48. brian stouder said on April 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Agreed with judybusy and the Proprietress…and Dorothy – that is a GREAT picture! A “Glamour-shot” from when glamour was genuinely glamourous!

    And indeed, your pics of little-you remind me of our daughter Chloe…I can give no higher compliment!

    249 chars

  49. Rana said on April 2, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Julie – I will agree that the music was beautiful in small doses. An hour and a half of similarly paced pieces, all in the same tonal range, was what did us in. (Though the “This Little Light of Mine” part was simply inexcusable. It’s supposed to be a happy piece, isn’t it?)

    285 chars

  50. Jolene said on April 2, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I used to be a pretty good gift-giver (I also used to have more money.), but one of my best was something that took no imagination and didn’t cost much. One Christmas, I gave one of my nieces a stuffed cat. It was nice, but nothing out of the usual; run of stuffed animals that kids get. But as soon as she opened the package, she stuck it under her arm and didn’t let go of it all night–even as she opened more packages and played with other new toys.

    Years later, while visiting my brother and her family, I saw that she still had the cat–and that it was naked. All the fur was worn off, and it really was then only an ill-formed bag of stuffing, with eyes attached. And it still occupied a place of honor in her bed.

    It’s great when something that’s nothing special turns out to be just the right thing.

    818 chars

  51. brian stouder said on April 2, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    “It’s great when something that’s nothing special turns out to be just the right thing.”

    Just like the stuffed cat, that’s the (closely held) secret behind all the undeserved good stuff in my life, too.

    209 chars

  52. Dexter said on April 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I consider praise music to be the music the Maranatha Singers perform.
    I guess gospel music is a different category. ( I am out of my borders of knowledge here).
    Elvis Pressley’s best songs, his best recordings, and his best live performances were the gospel songs.
    A few praise songs cracked the pop music charts…41 years ago Edwin Hawkins Singers did just that with “Oh Happy Day”.

    389 chars

  53. Hattie said on April 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    He should have given her a Kindle loaded with the Complete Shakespeare and other English classics. That would have been perfect.

    128 chars

  54. Dexter said on April 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I used to work for a company that was so large it was in the “Fortune 100”.
    I know, it looks like a misprint to me, and I think maybe that term was eliminated and if you make into the “Fortune 500”, that’s good enough.
    Anyway, times were so good some bigshot decided to snail-mail every employee a hundred dollar bill for a holiday gift. Cash. A benjamin.
    Half the employees thought it was a propaganda newsletter and threw their C-note out with the garbage. Most of them were so ashamed at their stupidity they told very few friends about their gaffe. I spent mine . The next year we received US savings bonds.

    Post #30 by Linda is a good one…I agree, hard to top that. Anyone see the “Curb Your Enthusiam” re-run a couple night ago? Larry David was fighting with Jeff and Susie about grave plots…Jeff had to be on the end of their row because he was claustrophobic…and Larry got back at Susie by giving up his plot to a poor woman’s bankrupt dead father. I love that show. Funny…cuz I hated Seinfeld, and David created that show.

    1053 chars

  55. Halloween Jack said on April 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Nancy, you’ve probably already seen this, but Roy Edroso makes a note of some wingnut who apparently doesn’t know who Richard Rodgers is.

    240 chars

  56. Dexter said on April 2, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Sue: ‘Tis I. I am a devotee of the work of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad. At the website of the show, a wonderful podcast is available, free, with the cut-editor, the producer, and Aaron Paul. The bear in the pool? Still a big mystery…it’s that bear’s second appearance on the show.

    304 chars

  57. Laurie said on April 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    A vessel of such sublime proportion and hue that it would burn your retinas:
    The plastic gas can.
    From the guy I was seeing.
    For Christmas.
    From the hardware store where he worked (= discount) while waiting to hit the bigtime with his guitar.
    He could not understand why I was not thrilled with his oh-so-caring and practical gesture.
    Somehow it was a harbinger of The End.
    A close second would be the imitation Hummel bear, from China, in a dress, paws clasped, lachrymose, from the dollar store. From Mom, who is a more-than-halfway-decent artist. Absolutely No Irony Attached. I’m still confused. I cannot dispose of it, yet I cannot put it out.

    665 chars

  58. Sue said on April 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Dexter, what’s your take on this season? Seems a little repetitive to me. I will be missing the next several weeks and have to rely on my husband for updates. And I agree, I love the work of both actors. Aaron Paul nails it – I know people just like him, where you don’t know whether to hug them or walk away from the wreckage – and I hope he’s nominated and wins this year.

    378 chars

  59. crinoidgirl said on April 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    OK, Jolene, I may be a cynical old ill-formed bag of stuffing, but that made me tear up a little.

    97 chars

  60. Dexter said on April 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Sue, I was confused at why the Tuco dealings went bad so quickly. The heros were getting rich and then it all went south so fast.
    I am finally used to the over-dramatic acting, and it seems normal now. I mean, look at Aaron Paul’s “Big Love” work (as the boyfriend) and compare it to his work on “Breaking Bad”…he is unrecognizable.
    I don’t feel like it is repetitive; I wonder how they are going to be able to cook and sell product since Jesse (Paul) is under surveillance, and Skyler has such high suspicions about Walter.
    Here’s your recap. I bookmarked the site on my browser.
    Oh…I finally saw the show at 3:00 AM—somehow I forgot it Sunday night…we get one repeat showing after Sunday night, and Time Warner does not have an option for OnDemand AMC.

    835 chars

  61. paddyo' said on April 2, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Another “BB” fan here, a little put off by the way they dragged out the silent-Skyler routine with Walt in Sunday’s most recent episode.
    I mean, she’s obviously making a see-how-YOU-like-it statement, and rather than confront it (since it mirrors his own disappear-all-day demeanor of the recent past), the writers have Walt acting — I dunno … Clueless about why she’s doing it? Really?
    Anyway, a rather unsatisfying waste of time, seems to me, in this episode.
    However … the one a couple of episodes ago out at Tuco’s place, with Uncle Bell Ringer, was priceless. Rich. Ghastly. And I gotta say, I came to like Walt’s shlub of a DEA brother-in-law in that installment.

    Wish Tuco were still around, though … I guess this just means we’re gonna get a different set of thugdruglords for our boys to deal their blue meth to, no?
    BTW, didja see “BB” got a Peabody Award again?\

    938 chars

  62. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Well, whatever else some may say about praise & worship music, i see that “People We Love” by Laurie Solheim is up to number one at Indieheaven with five stars. (Hope she’s feeling encouraged, Moe!)

    I currently serve my primary ministry at a Methodist church with both traditional pipe organ, robed choir, and lectionary usage, and a contemporary service with the evil drum set and preaching that tends to walk about a bit and use graphics on the same projector that displays the lyrics that seem to appall a few. Why not have both? Why get so emphatic about one or the other? The Presbys across the street do traditional and Taize, which works for them, and the Episcopalians are in a Greek Revival marvel, 1835 and pristine to the day Bishop Philander Chase dedicated it, and the American Baptist/UU church on the fourth corner has the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus three times a year, doing traditional sacred choral and show tunes.

    Live and let worship, i say, but it’s all out there, just find a community that can annoy you just enough to remind you why being human is so interesting. And just walk away from the U2 cloned praise band if you want, but don’t run ’em down for not being the Bach Chorale. “Humani nil a me alienum puto.”

    1250 chars

  63. Catherine said on April 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Jeff, that American Baptist/UU church on the 4th corner… do the UUs and the Baptists worship together? I so cannot imagine my local “Yes on 8” Baptists even stepping foot in Neighborhood Church here, with its giant “We Support Marriage Equality” banner right out in front on Orange Grove Blvd. Maybe things are different in Ohio…

    (Hastening to add, I agree with your point even if I got hung up on the Baptist thing)

    426 chars

  64. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Well, our First Baptist Church got “read out” of the Ohio American Baptist district (or region, or whatever they call it) for being too liberal*, but they got recognized by the Genesee-Rochester New York district, so they’re still American Baptist, but with a Unitarian-Universalist pastor who received Baptist/UCC standing when she came here with her partner (and has a Southern Baptist upbringing; i did the PR flackery for them when she was installed, and they have a semi-staffer that works for Sojourners/Call To Renewal, and we had Jim Wallis preach there when she was ordained).

    So they’re a hybrid, which is becoming the default norm for congregations that are surviving into these interesting times (denominational structures having balance sheets like the Auto Big 3). Our Methodist congregation have lots of folk who wouldn’t know a bishop if he or she walked in and asked them why they raise their hands during the [koff] praise music at the 9:20 service, and the Episcopalians have folk who left our church not because they could even spell liturgy if they had to, but are made uneasy by 6 out of 180 at the 9:20 service raising their hands occasionally. Like i said, it’s a complicated world, but enjoying the complexity as best you can is better than wishing it were tidier. IMHO.

    *Bus full of supplies to Nicaragua every year since 1982, and lots of LGBT activism that made Ohio rural ABC congregations nervous, so they got stupidly cranky and pitched ’em over the side — they’d be a UCC congregation by now, and do more with them even so than with other ABCs or UUs except they still like to dunk ’em good when they bring in the sheaves.

    1664 chars

  65. LA Mary said on April 2, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I have an aunt who thinks I stopped aging at 16 and sends things like cute jammies every year. My kids get subscriptions to National Geographic kids magazines aimed towards 6 year olds. My kids are 15 and 18. I give the magazines to the rec center up the street.
    One of the best gifts I ever got? A Le Creuset Dutch oven. I got it when there was no way I could spend hundreds of dollars on a pot, and I use it very frequently. Same person gave me a Cuisinart 22 years ago and it still works, a KitchenAid mixer about 15 years ago, and some of the best knives I have. This is my good brother I’m talking about.

    610 chars

  66. beb said on April 2, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Julie Robinson at 45 — OMG! Double OMG, we were married on 8-18 thirty years ago. What are the odds of that!

    Allan Connery mentions Anna Russell’s glorious take down of Wagner’s Ring cycle. When she finally says, as an aside, “I’m not making this up,” it’s after 15-20 minutes IIRC of the most unlikely plot imaginable. The music is fantastic but I don’t think experiencing the whole 24 hour of the cycle in one fell swoop is a good idea. Better to listen to the major set pieces and appreciate them separately.

    517 chars

  67. brian stouder said on April 2, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Wagner…err..’Vognuhr’ – exists on the edge of my consciousness…source of the stirring (non-Doors) music in Appocalypse Now, home of Brünnhilde, and….something that gray haired old rebel Lutherans listen to on cassette tape in their carefully waxed Mercedes sedans.

    (Many years ago, one of my first girlfriends was a shapely member of a break-away Lutheran sect, who enticed me into going to her church – which was on the rural edge of town, headed by a retirement-aged pastor and primarily bankrolled by a well-to-do family with 6 lanky sons with big teeth, and 3 gracious daughters with their mother’s reserved nature. And – I kid you not – after church one sunny summer Sunday, the patriarch of the moneyed family and the old pastor were marveling at the beauty of ‘Vognuhr’ in the aforementioned [and de rigueur] Mercedes, in the gravel parking lot of the still-smelled-new church on the edge of a cornfield. Say “Wagner”, and those two old guys pop into my brain, everytime)

    988 chars

  68. brian stouder said on April 3, 2009 at 12:14 am

    btw – you should read that Wagner story; it’s pretty good (and only 2 pages; the third is a timeline)

    This bit got me laughing:

    Yet we are also witnessing a terrible coming-of-age: the transformation of an innocent into a mighty man filled with ignorant righteousness. Siegfried embodies conviction without knowledge, courage without compassion, desire without empathy. He is deeply dangerous. Wagner identified powerfully with Siegfried, calling him “The Man of the Future,” which is also how the composer thought of himself. (He gave the name Siegfried to his only son, whose arrival he explained to his not-yet-wife Cosima by saying, “The world spirit wanted me to have a son by you.”)

    709 chars

  69. MaryRC said on April 3, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Laurie, I bet I can top your plastic gas can story. Mine was a kit for polishing silver that he got at an arts and crafts fair we went to. The “kit” consisted of a box of Borax and a box of aluminum foil, packaged together with instructions (you’ve probably all heard this one, but the foil goes in the sink covered with hot water, the Borax goes on the foil and your silver goes on the Borax). And yes, it was a harbinger of the End. There were so many lovely things for sale at that fair, too.

    I thought the Ipod was a thoughtful gift especially since Her Madge is a big fan of Richard Rodgers. I saw Roy Edroso’s take on the blogger who claimed not to know who Rodgers was, and in a way I can understand it. Rodgers was always “RodgersandHammerstein” to me and as for the earlier work with Hart of course everyone knows those wonderful songs but I could never put a face to them the way you can with the Gershwins, Berlin, Cole Porter or Johnny Mercer. It was always Mickey and Judy singing them, not the writers behind them.

    But what struck me was that the guy never even bothered to look it up. He’d never heard of Rodgers and he was happy to leave it at that. There’s such self-satisfied complacency at their own ignorance with these people.

    1263 chars

  70. Dexter said on April 3, 2009 at 2:27 am

    MaryRC you may enjoy this cover of a Cole Porter classic.

    103 chars

  71. Colleen said on April 3, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Good news, opera fans, the last three weeks of the Met Opera radio season are the ring cycle! Starting next weekend, pack a lunch, take the phone off the hook, and settle in for 6 hours of opera every Saturday afternoon! Check your local public radio station for availability….

    280 chars

  72. jcburns said on April 3, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    If anyone is still using Internet Explorer 6, released eight years ago, god help you. That said, I have some CSS tweaking to do.

    145 chars

  73. John said on April 4, 2009 at 1:40 am

    When I worked at a paper in Florida, the publisher decided to reward managers by giving them Zippo cigarette lighters. To encourage smoking, I guess. My dad once gave me a handgun. For Christmas. To remember the birth of the little baby Jesus. Peace on earth and pass the ammunition. Then there was this: For Christmas, the husband of a woman I know gave her bathroom scales.

    375 chars

  74. MaryRC said on April 4, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Thank you, Dexter, I love that song. Interesting how it remains timeless — we can still imagine what Garbo’s salary was — whereas another “list” song that I love, “I Can’t Get Started With You”, that also refers to celebrities and events of the day, is really out-dated now. It’s a beautiful melody but the lyrics no longer make sense — who wrecognises J.P. Morgan, Robert Taylor or “Green Pastures”?

    405 chars

  75. derwood said on April 6, 2009 at 9:45 am

    JC…that might be me. Where I work is in the process of updating from IE6 and we aren’t allowed to download any other browser. At home it’s Firefox all the way.


    174 chars

  76. Carol said on April 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Late to the party, but… A few years after we were married I opened a gift from my husband on Christmas morning. A lovely pair of boots. I tried them on and said how much I liked them, but remarked that the right one seemed too tight. My husband answered, “Well, that’s because they are different sizes. They didn’t have two in your size when I bought them (the day before Christmas).” I was taken aback, but worse, we were at my parents’ house and from the look on my mother’s face I knew she was thinking I should send this guy back.
    I didn’t, and 40 years later he’s much improved.

    586 chars