Advent Horizon
Screecher Comforts
En Pointe of Purchase
U.S. House of Horrors
Flush Forward
Bells & Wassails
The Haunted Manchin
The Missed of Time
Gift Rapt
Red Meet
Crystal Bawls
The Gift of Grab
Monster Rally 2020
A Hitch in Time
WHAT NOT 2017-2018
WHAT NOT 2014-2016
WHAT NOT 2012-2013
WHAT NOT 2009-2011
WHAT NOT 2005 2

Advent Horizon

Cartoon spoof of authors and singers with books and album available for holiday gifts seen as choices in an Advent calendar decorated with Christmas season icons like a tree, gingerbread man, stocking and candle labeled '12 Days of Vanity'. The eight open windows reveal memoirists and singers Barbra Streisand, Werner Herzog, Reggie Watts, Dolly Parton, Henry Winkler, Cher, Patrick Stewart and Jada Pickett Smith.It's the most blunder-filled time of the year when we regularly overspend on the absolutely wrong gift for a nonplussed recipient who accepts it with all the gratitude of a speeder being issued a summons. There is no way to avoid this seasonal trap entirely, but you can at least put a dollar cap on your inevitable folly. Until you get above three figures in gift-giving it pretty much is the thought that counts, so let us fill your head with cheapish suggestions for the empaths on your list.

We once again turn to E. Basil St. Blaise, our exceedingly ungenerous critic who doesn't really gift a damn (we've received used pre-2010 screener DVDs as stocking stuffers from him for years –– ever since his 'honorary' WGA membership and the statute of limitation on distributing the discs elapsed.) For our part, we email him Amazon gift cards for the holidays because we never know exactly where he's parked his mobile HQ. We do know it's sure to be close to a public library from which he can borrow books and CDs on a permanent basis. And a dog park where he can trot out his diminutive Affenpinscher Josef, at least until the snow reaches above an inch or two, at which point he must be toted.

We Zoomed with St. Blaise to ask him for his picks this year in the Celebrity Memoir and Holiday Hits categories, and found him cosying up to one of his patented Nog-Nog Joke cocktails in front of the TV watching a Yule Log program he'd recorded in 1996. Josef, the congenital mouser, occasionally yapped at the screen as his misaligned orbs mistook dancing flames for scurrying rodents.

Between sips, a slightly groggy St. Blaise offered his review of the crackling scene, "Let's see. Log off? Sizzle real? Yule laugh, Yule cry? My friend Flicker? Hmmm. More to the point, here's a selection of recent autobiographical musings actually written, I'd wager, by the Ghosts of Christmas past. I've arranged them alphabetically by 'author' because I didn't want to be accused of playing favorites (though mad Werner H. might still have a Westphalian witch put a hex on me.)"

Me. Oh My!

Marina Abramovic: A Visual Biography by Marina Abramovic –– Sub-Marina.
Sure, I'll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford –– Kinky sects.
Loosely Based On A Made-Up Story by James Blunt –– Blunt warning.
Down the Drain by Julia Fox –– Fox hole.
Every Man for Himself and God Against All by Werner Herzog –– Teuton common.
Walk Through Fire by Sheila Johnson –– Tootsie roast.
Leslie F*ckin Jones by Leslie Jones –– Too live crude.
My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee –– Rush off.
Sonic Life by Thurston Moore –– Sonic bust.
Did I Ever Tell You This? by Sam Neill –– Jesus, Sam, you’ve bored us to tears.
Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones by Dolly Parton –– Duds reckoning.

Then St. Blaise posed the eternal question, "Paper or plastic? Do we still need the sensual pleasure of fingering a printed page or can we be satisfied with a sterile e-reader –– or ego-reader in this case? Well, OG that I am, I still prefer the feel of pulp and the scent of ink –– particularly when the local librarian unwittingly overlends to me. My counterfeit library cards are impeccable. And my disguises? Impenetrable. But a pirated Amazon Prime account ain't bad either. Funny, but Amazon Prime always has me picturing a voluptuous sword-slinging tigress –– y'know, a Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001 –– Flawful Lawless.) –– leather-clad and looming over me, astride and akimbo… but I digress.

Speaking of showing favoritism and incurring the wrath of divas scorned, imagine if Picky Smith, Da Spears or La Streisand caught wind that they trailed Geddy Lee in this list? I'd end up singing soprano."

Worthy by Jada Pickett Smith –– Of contempt.
The Woman in Me by Britney Spears –– Belongs inside.
If You Would Have Told Me by John Stamos –– To ‘Stop Writing!’
Making It So: A Memoir by Patrick Stewart –– So-so.
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly Stone –– Stone old sober.
My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand –– Barbra bushed.
Thicker Than Water by Kerry Washington –– And a post.
Great Falls, MT by Reggie Watts –– Completely MT.
Being Henry by Henry Winkler –– A Winkler and a nod.
Black Friend by Ziwe –– Afro plop.

"Sweet St. Nicholas, all that reading! Did Babs really need 992 pages to trace the arc of a career that effectively ended in the last millennium? Your bleary eyes will need a rest –– time for an assault on another sense. Thus the unavoidable Christmas album, streaming into our ears like so much tinsel and doing as much damage to our drums as actual polyvinyl chloride coated with aluminum would."

Arggh! The Herald Angels Sing

Christmas / Cher –– Trop Cher.
Christmas With Brandy
/ Brandy –– You'll need a tumbler of Scotch.
The Greatest Christmas Hits / Pentatonix –– Pentatonix scaly.
Christmas With the Tenors / The Tenors –– We wouldn't pay fiver.
Christmas Time Is Here / Johnny Mathis –– Chances aren't.

"I've arranged these helter-skelter and willy-nilly reflecting precisely the level of respect I have for these artists. You can listen to them in any old order and still achieve the same intensity of headache."

Essential Christmas / RuPaul –– Don we now our gay apparel.
A Classic Christmas / Gavin DeGraw –– Degraw nerve.
A Rockin’ Christmas with Brenda Lee / Brenda Lee –– Angst Lee.
Christmas Time / Michael Bolton & Mickey Guyton –– Carol chanting.
Last Christmas / Alanis Morrissette –– Jagged little trill.

"And so to bad. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good nightmare."

Previous St. Blaise gift guides:
En Pointe of Purchase
Bells & Wassails
Gift Rapt
The Gift of Grab
Stocking Suffers

Listen to E. Basil St. Blaise on his Critic's Corner Podcast.