December 21, 2007

The Weeklies #16

The Weekly Best Moment. It is Friday morning. Early. I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee and a day of work laid out before me. But I'm working from home and, after today, I'm off for a little over a week. Happiness.

The Weekly Most Horrifying Threat To Mankind. Zombies. Or George Bush. Six of one...

The Weekly Reads. I read two startlingly wonderful books this week. Bloodthirsty is Marshall Karp's follow-up to his first novel, The Rabbit Factory. Karp's debut was fabulous and Bloodthirsty doesn't disappoint either. It's a taut, well-written mystery featuring The Rabbit Factory's wonderfully rendered characters. And for all Karp's hilarious dialog and blood-soaked crime scenes, there's something at Bloodthirsty's heart - as there was in The Rabbit Factory - that's just very nice, in the true sense of the word. Finding a worthy follow-up to Bloodthirsty was tough so I turned to Iain Banks to do the job. I've been a fan of Banks' novels since I first stumbled on one about ten or twelve years ago. He's widely published in the UK - he's a native of Scotland - but his books are hard to find on this side of the pond. However his most recent novel, The Steep Approach to Garbadale was recently published in the US. I'd have hated to miss it - it's fantastic. The book, while only 400 pages in length, is an epic family drama composed of all the ingredients that make a good story so compelling - money, greed, sex, death, and family secrets. It might not be Banks' best, but it certainly is good.

The Weekly Time-Waster. Well, how about The Official Time Waster's Guide?

The Weekly Music. You saw Wednesday's post right? Consider that my weekly music report.

The Weekly Worst Television Show To Be Broadcast. When Surgical Tools Get Left Behind 2. Seriously? Not only was there one hour of this crap but someone decided we needed a second hour? The only way I'm watching is if they discover that a surgeon left Jimmy Hoffa in someone's spleen.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Were any of you shocked that Britney's little sis is all kinds of knocked up? Yeah, I didn't think so. But still, schadenfreude gold, people.

The Weekly Question. What's the most bizarre gift you've ever received?

Posted by Chris at December 21, 2007 6:54 AM

I dunno if it was the most bizarre, but it's one I certainly remember. For our wedding, my husband and I got a decorative bag filled with sand..and a note "Wyoming Sand". I knew there had to be some significance, but wasn't sure what it was til my dad later gave us the deed to a parcel of land in my home state, Wyoming. The bag of sand gave us a good laugh, but the realization that even though I'm now living thousands of miles away in Europe, I still always have a little piece of "home" was enough to send tears trickling down my cheeks. I filled alittle bottle with some of that sand from the bag and still have it sitting in my bedoom. Every time I look at it, it reminds me that a piece of me will always be home. So, bizarre, yes, but absolutely beautiful.

Posted by: Tera at December 21, 2007 7:32 AM

Oh this is a good one - when my husband and I were living together, not married or even engaged, his mom gave me a jar of "Body Chocolate" in my Christmas stocking....not sure if maybe she didn't read the label? I mean, I like chocolate, but not that kind from her!

Enjoy your day from home :)

Posted by: Danielle at December 21, 2007 8:08 AM

My in-laws give me x-mas ornaments every year. And I am Jewish. And We are raising our son Jewish. I used to get really mad, now I just donate them.

Posted by: jodi at December 21, 2007 8:18 AM

Hey, thanks for turning me onto the Time Wasters Guide. It's not like I didn't already have enough to keep my time wasted...

As far as the most bizarre gift...I have no idea. Likely something from my brother. One year he bought me a little Woody Woodpecker doll. Completely random, out of the blue.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at December 21, 2007 8:22 AM

Okay, while so many others were so envious of this gift, when Hubby & I first started dating, he gave me tickets to Aerosmith for a Christmas gift. Lovely, right? Except... I don't really *like* Aerosmith, save for a few select songs, and certainly didn't like them enough to go suck in second hand pot smoke and actually end up with an injured ear because of the volume.

But Hubby had a good time.

Posted by: Sarah at December 21, 2007 8:22 AM

Two bizarre (well to me) gifts stick out in my mind.

The first was at our wedding: my very Episcopalian church-going sister gave us "The Couple's Devotional Bible". Mind you, while we're not devil-worshipers, we're not wholly into the Church thing but we do believe in a higher power, etc.

My husband tried to make a joke of it (because all of our friends know we’re not of the church going variety) and thanked her for the latest copy of the Karma Sutra. Everyone in the place laughed…except her. ;-p It took her about a year to get over it!

The second was from my MIL one Christmas. We don’t drink except for the occasional dinner out drink. She gave us a wine rack… and the homemade wine to go with it. Bless her heart.

Posted by: Michelle at December 21, 2007 8:32 AM

My hubs step mother (who had never met me yet) sent us a box. Inside was an insane amount of chocolate and two items of clothing. One was a woman's jacket and a man's sweater. They were both obviously used. No tags, a bit of wear...I wear a size small or 4. The jacket was a 10. Who sends clothing (used too!) to someone they have never met??? We laughed and laughed over that one. Oh, and did I mention? They live in an estate back east that is on the market for 2.1 mil right now. $$ is not the issue.

Posted by: DebbieDoesLife at December 21, 2007 8:41 AM

Most bizarre gift... in my early 20's I once had a stalker give me a pair of my own FRILLY LACEY BITS for Christmas...
can you say the real gift was the granted restraining order...

Redheads attract nutjobs...


Posted by: Stephanie at December 21, 2007 8:51 AM

A barbie doll when I was 17. It was from a senile great aunt who apparently thought I was much younger. One of the downsides of being so short I guess.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 21, 2007 8:58 AM

Oh, Chris I love you (in a totally ok non-icky non-stalkerish sort of way). Iain Banks is my favourite author. I met him once and was so tongue-tied I managed "Hi" and nothing else. I am so smooth. The Crow Road is my favourite book of all time. Haven't read "The Steep Approach.." yet but I will shortly.

And my weirdest present? Packets of paper napkins - I get them all the time from my mother-in-law. I'll be getting some for Christmas this year too.

Posted by: Loth at December 21, 2007 9:00 AM

From my mother, when I was 22 years-old: a complete Hallmark Christmas village, with each piece individually wrapped. Can you think of anything I could possibly want more, as a 22 year-old single guy living in a group house in Washington DC? Cash maybe? My mother was clearly excited about it, so I churned up some enthusiasm, but it was really NOT what I was expecting.

In the end, it was a great gift, because I still have it and my son loves it. He gets his matchbox cars and his firetrucks out and occupies himself driving around his "Christmas town".

Posted by: Jeff St Real at December 21, 2007 9:00 AM

Best: I am jealous of your weekly best. :-)
Worst: My worst is that my stress rash has spread all over my body. TMI? Sorry.
Schadenfreude: Not surprised, but definitely GOLD.
Weekly Question: I'm so boring I haven't received any bizarre gifts. The funniest gift (at least it was funny to me and my assistant) was one I received from a vendor I've worked with for many years. She re-gifted an ornament I had made for her two years prior.

Posted by: Maria at December 21, 2007 9:14 AM

Wow. People have gotten some really insane gifts. Almost makes me sad I don't have a story like that to share. Almost.

And Chris, you know anytime something schadenfreude-ish happens I think of you, right? Like, oh, I just know Chris is gonna blog about this!

Posted by: Fraulein N at December 21, 2007 9:18 AM

Yay, you read 'Steep Approach..."! I read it a couple of months ago and liked it too. Like Loth's comment above, Crow Road is my favourite of his novels. I found similarities between the two books, but each went in a different direction.

I am a couple of chapters into "The Bridge" right now. It's very strange, but absorbing. Enjoy your Friday!

Posted by: alison at December 21, 2007 9:26 AM

Last year, my mother gave me this teapot shaped and colored like a cow. It had matching cow teacups. She bought it in hopes it would start to be a regular white elephant gift. I purposely left it at her house.

Posted by: Claire at December 21, 2007 10:03 AM

The weeky threat: George Bush leading the zombies.

Posted by: Poppy at December 21, 2007 10:18 AM

Have you read Dean Koontz's The Darkest Night of the Year? It is FAB! Really want a golden now :-) Weirdest gift...hmmmm lets not go there...Ill spare you and the blog world.

Posted by: Cheryl at December 21, 2007 10:31 AM

Have you read Dean Koontz's The Darkest Night of the Year? It is FAB! Really want a golden now :-) Weirdest gift...hmmmm lets not go there...Ill spare you and the blog world.

Posted by: Cheryl at December 21, 2007 10:35 AM

My brother once gave me an old t-shirt. It was really old. And also in dire need of laundering. In return I gave him a knuckle sandwich.

Posted by: GreenCanary at December 21, 2007 11:05 AM

My sister-in-law gave me a trio of glass bottles that had matching glass disks (with holes) that I'm supposing were intended to balance on top. There were no instructions or examples of how they were to be used ot displayed. I was afraid to ask and I've never known what they were for.

Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen at December 21, 2007 11:23 AM

It may qualify as bizarre only to me. My sons' dad gave me a navy blue blouse with large white polka dots and ruffles on the bottom. If you take a look at my photo, you'll realize he never did see me as I am (even though I was thinner 40 years ago).

It was the first (and last, thank God) clothing item he ever purchased for me. I finally wore it when I was pregnant with my younger son under a maternity jumper. Only the sleeves and collar showed.

Have a wonderful week off and a Merry Christmas. Hugs to all of you.

Posted by: ann adams at December 21, 2007 11:26 AM

Enjoy the time off from work!

Most bizarre gift I've ever received needs some context. I went to my Sr prom with a guy I worked with (2 years older - had gone to my same high school). We ONLY worked together at a movie theater and once or twice went to see a movie with other people from work - we weren't dating. At the prom - he ignored me and danced with teachers all night.

At an after party - he said he wanted to talk with me about something and we went for a walk on the beach where he proceeded to "break up" with me because he thought we were getting "too serious".

Then he said he had a present for me... it was in a little jewelery-sized box so I was getting some mixed signal. I opened it to find a wallet-sized picture from GLAMOUR SHOTS of him, framed. eek.

Posted by: Sue at December 21, 2007 11:46 AM

I read "Rabbit Factory" based on your review and enjoyed it very much.

I see Iain Banks books everywhere here. Maybe because I wasn't reading them in the US and didn't notice them before? Or maybe because they are more popular in Canada?

Posted by: jodi at December 21, 2007 12:11 PM

Most bizarre gift......a rusty coffee can filled with lumpy laundry detergent powder.

I received this stellar gift from my mother-in-law several years ago for Christmas. Apparently, some 10 years prior to that Christmas, my husband had left it behind when he moved out to his first apartment.

I had no idea how to respond. It does; however, tend to be a fantastic story to retell when someone else thinks they got a crappy gift from their mother-in-law.

And yes, that is all I got from her that year.

Posted by: Jen at December 21, 2007 12:26 PM

Seriously? There was an actual television show about surgical instruments that got left behind, and then a follow-up? Please let the writer's strike end soon!

I was just looking at an Iain Banks book the other day, but did not buy. Now I know to pick it up!

Weirdest gift I ever got -- well, one year my aunt Marietta apparently forgot what I look like and gave me a deluxe curling iron with multiple attachment for curling my ridiculously curly hair.

Posted by: bad penguin at December 21, 2007 12:32 PM

My father gave me a hugemungous black di*#o and a box of colored condoms on my 18th birthday and told me to keep it safe...oh, er, you meant Christmas?

Posted by: Mr Lady at December 21, 2007 12:58 PM

White Elephant stuff. This year I got a hideous looking, potpourri-stuffed wire fish. New. Someone made that thing.

Hey, FYI, either Bloglines is broken or your RSS feed is. Just a heads-up.

Posted by: Brad at December 21, 2007 1:01 PM

Wait, Chris.... TWO novels! In ONE week!? HOW!? What!? When!? What about TV!? How do you have time for TV!? ;)

And, my most bizarre gift ever? Please check it here -- it's totally bizarre!!!

Posted by: Haley-O at December 21, 2007 1:13 PM

A garish wooden candle holder that looked like a cactus. I laughed, thinking it was a gag gift (it wasn't, and I hurt my Dad's feelings). My daughter liked it, and it still sits on her shelf with other treasured items.

Thanks for the last two book recommendations (Beautiful Lies and The Rabbit Factory). I reserved them at the library after reading your reviews, and they were great books. I just reserved the two you mentioned today. I'm especially looking forward to Karp's new one.

Posted by: Carolyn at December 21, 2007 2:37 PM

I forgot to mention that the second part of your weekly Schadenfreude is the fact that Lynne Spears' parenting book has been put on "indefinite hold". Heh.

Posted by: Carolyn at December 21, 2007 2:46 PM

Chipped Angel-head Butter Spreaders

I think my step-Grandma hates me.

Posted by: Tink at December 21, 2007 5:06 PM

I got a naked barbie doll and a six pack of O'Douls.

Posted by: Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah at December 21, 2007 11:26 PM

Totally, off topic....but I was just watching "Toy Talk" on CNN and they're reviewing toys, and it turns out one of the most popular pre-school toys is "Bobbin Bumblebee" by Mega Brands. Its still available by Christmas at Here's the link:

Maybe this is the elusive "bumblebee" Mia keeps asking for. Of course, if you've figured this out already, please disregard entire comment, and resume your regularly scheduled activities. :)

Posted by: robin at December 22, 2007 9:54 AM

I got a garter belt... this would be a cool with me. Except it was from my grandmother which made it all rather weird.

Posted by: Nat at December 22, 2007 7:54 PM

I have some rather eccentric old uncles who are the lifelong bachelor/farmer types. They went to an auction and bought a box of old crappy books. That year (being engaged to get married) I got a wedding planning and etiquette book from the 1970s and because I'm a graphic designer, I got a book about how to draw Daffy Duck. Everyone in my family got some pretty strange books (which were sweet though because they obviously gave the selections some thought) and Nick, my now-husband, got a pocket knife. Perhaps they weren't sure he could read.

Posted by: angela at December 22, 2007 10:41 PM

one year i got this god awful plant stand. it was ceramic with these nasty ass green flowers all over it. then when i turned it over it had cobwebs in it..and dirt. and a sticker from the goodwill. 1 dollar. yeah. blah.

LOL. I still have it in my closet because my SIL gave it to me. one of these days..the dogs "are gonna knock it over". bummer.

merry christmas to you and your family. enjoy your time off.

Posted by: kimmyk at December 23, 2007 6:45 AM

My ex gave me something in front of his parents. It was embarrassing. 'nuff said. My current Hubby got one of those stupid Chi Pet thing from his ex-inlaws.
This explains why these are our ex's.

The Spears Family? Trailer Park Trash. 'Nuff said...

Posted by: Maribeth at December 23, 2007 6:57 AM

As a teacher, a tooth brush holder. Also a set of champagne glasses. Now that was a cool gift, just in the context of being a teacher, a little different.

Posted by: Heather at December 24, 2007 12:18 AM

I have to add to this after we did the holiday with my in-laws.

Wait for it.


I got a freaking liter of Goldschalger from my SIL.

Goldschalger. Cinnamon schnapps. Very strong and very alcoholic drink.

What is it with my in-laws???

Posted by: Michelle at December 27, 2007 10:41 AM

I had got a dream to make my own organization, but I didn't earn enough amount of money to do this. Thank God my close friend recommended to take the loan. Thus I used the collateral loan and realized my old dream.

Posted by: MelbaGriffin25 at June 28, 2011 1:45 PM