Tree, Meat, Cake, Gum, Birds.

We’re three weeks away from Christmas Eve. That’s too little. I want five weeks. At least, I did until I remembered that it’d place me squarely at the point where I was going crazy trying to find the ingredients for Thanksgiving’s stuffed mushrooms. That wasn’t fun. Nobody had pine nuts.

Fearing that the speedy calendar will screw me out of covering everything I’d wanted to before Santa comes, today, I’m going to spew red and green until it kills me. Assorted holiday thingamajigs, ahoy!

Philips USB Powered Miniature Christmas Tree: God, yes! Something reasonably “adult!” I’ve become so accustomed to writing about things intended for the pre-tween set that this stupid tree feels like an issue of Playboy. The comparison only works if their December centerfold has silver hair and light-up nipples. Does she?

It’s a six-inch Christmas tree powered by a USB cable, ensuring that your “web time” will be festive even when you’re not looking up recipes for mince pies. It’s seven bucks and worth every penny, and it’s the only thing that has ever made me yearn to work in an office again. I’d gain instant credibility with my co-workers with this on my desk. Nobody with a USB tree could be a tyrant or vulture.

The tree was easily the highlight of my week, which is both a testament to Philips and an insult to me. I could not love it more. Target had ‘em in various colors, but if I’m going to have a computer-powered tree from Christmas Future, I don’t see why I’d pick green over space age silver.

I want more of them. A dozen of them. My printer, scanner and camera cables can wait until January. I want an entire Christmas village surrounding my monitor, casting a disco glow on my pasty skin. I write this because one of Santa’s elves could be taking notes. It’s a hint, Elfie. I don’t need any more zip-up hoodies from American Eagle Outfitters. I hate their logo and would never be their billboard.

Hickory Farms Beef Sausage Snacks: Target has an amazingly chaotic “stocking stuffers” section, generally filled with the kinds of things you’d expect to find in Christmas stockings. But, somewhere in that sea of peppermint candy and small toys, there they were. Eight-packs of oily meat rods.

They’re a bit hard to see in the photo, but they’re there, and there were way too many packs for it to have been a mere case of misplacement. No, we’re really being urged to stuff stocks with meat, and the potential for innuendo is almost larger than Christmas itself.

There was a point in my life when I would’ve been absolutely elated to get oily meat rods for Christmas. In middle school, I channeled all of my angst into eating as many beef sticks as possible. It may have been my favorite food, and the proof was in my size, which was nearing that of the forgotten planet of Pluto.

I don’t eat things like that anymore, and yet, I knew that a passing mention of Hickory Farms Beef Sausage Snacks wouldn’t be as righteous as an in-hand review. So, I bought them. Since I wouldn’t eat them, my compromise was to use them as materials for a 100% beef log cabin.

Things didn’t go quite as planned. My beef log cabin looks more like a beef tent, or a beef Kon-Tiki, or an ornament on an all-beef miniature golf course.

The rods are unbelievably oily. It has to set some record. If you’re thinking they’re like Slim Jims, no, they’re at least twenty times greasier. Were you to eat the entire eight-pack, you’d be three hours away from Baby Cloverfield blowing out of your gut. Of course, theories like that make me want to swallow my entire log cabin immediately.

Oh, to be a twelve-year-old with superheroic metabolism. Christmas morning would be so much merrier if my teeth were peppered with sausage casings.

Spumonster is Dead: “Spumonster,” star of this year’s most singularly focused X-E entry, IS DEAD.

Look, I tried. We kept him in the freezer for as long as we could, but the thing only has so much room. Plus, every time I wanted ice, I had to go through a whole vaudeville act, with Spumonster edging perilously close to falling out and crashing on the tile.

Don’t feel bad. Most spumoni ice cream cakes don’t get to live the kind of life that Spumonster did. He may have ended his journey looking like a dying gremlin, but I’ve never known another cake who could play Left Center Right with me.

Spumonster, this sip of nuked coffee is for you. It tastes like ass.

Big League Chew: It’s as if the Christmas spirit wanted to become something tangible, and chose a pack of gum as its avatar. This seasonal sensation from Big League Chew adds the “oray oray oray” to “ho ho ho.” I’ve been waiting three weeks to use that.

The main point of interest is the snowman, whose look of determination betrays an obsessive fixation on pitching perfect games. But really, isn’t it incredible enough that a snowman can pitch at all? This guy shouldn’t be so hard on himself. The stress is making him hold water.

I was going to blast the flavor, because “Swingin’ Sour Apple” does not at all make me think about reindeer. Upon further consideration, I realized that green gum is Christmassy enough to render any complaints unfounded. Which makes this entire paragraph moot. Should I delete it?

Chewing is fun, but I had other ideas:

Now we’re talking. The beef log cabin now looks so much more livable. Big League Chew doubles nicely as thatching, and the next time I catch a ladybug, it is so going to live in here.

Birds: Growing up, my favorite tree ornaments were those phony red cardinals – the ones with the wired feet who always looked like they’d just got done fighting rabid tigers. I know I’ve written about my fake cardinal fascination before, but no amount of Googling is leading me back to that article. Let’s pretend that this is all-new fare.

Those cardinals never made it onto our Christmas trees. I’d always sneak off with them, treating them like pampered pets all through December. With hindsight, I see that as a cry for help and wonder why nobody did. If you’re taking fake birds to bed with you, you’re probably a hop away from murder.

Old habits die hard, so I was immediately attracted to these birds, sold together at Dollar Tree. I can’t say that my love is boundless, as despite having visual reference, I cannot muster enough passion to look up what type of birds they are. Doves, maybe?

They’re cute, they seem friendly, and they make me want vanilla ice cream. I wonder if there’s any vanilla within Spumonster’s corpse? Is spumoni part vanilla?

Oh, and it’s December 3rd:

We’re gonna go string up the lights now. Everyone else on the street is already done. We feel like grinches, or atheists who won’t bend the rules. This must be changed. I hope these extension plugs are for indoor/outdoor use.

This entry was posted in 2011 Christmas Season, General. Bookmark the permalink.

95 Responses to Tree, Meat, Cake, Gum, Birds.

  1. Daviel McKaye says:

    When I first started college there was a teacher who used to have an article hanging outside her door about a psychological study that was focused on organization. Apparently people who are mentally organized are usually physically disorganized and people who are physically organized are generally less mentally organized. It was a bit of an inside joke since, being an academic, her need for a high level of mental organization usually meant a corresponding low level of physical organization, and therefore a messy office.

    From personal experience, it does seem like people who regularly engage in activities requiring higher levels of mental organization, like writing, are often less physically organized. I tend to be physically unorganized for the most part. I always remember where I left everything because I always remember why I put it there. Relying on an arbitrarily imposed system of organization would make finding things a much slower process for me than finding things intuitively. I think it’s really just an extension of individual personality.

  2. Matt says:

    My 7th grade Italian teacher had a sign on her classroom door reading “Geniuses Thrive on Clutter.” Your version is way more thorough.

  3. Daviel McKaye says:

    I’ve also seen the ones that say “Messy living is a sign of an active mind”. I can only hope that one day being messy joins wearing glasses on the list of things that make you look smarter.

    I’m sure that’ll happen on the same day that monocles come back in style

  4. Daniel L. says:

    I want one of those trees for my desk at work! No one will dare doubt my Christmas Spirit now!

  5. Hoverbored says:

    Annette- I feel the same way about Hoarders. There’s an excellent review of it on DVD Verdict:
    In a nutshell, it’s extremely exploitative. I actually feel that way about a lot of TV shows, even ones that aren’t in the “reality” genre (*cough*cough*DR. PHIL*cough*).

    Me? I’m watching Power Rangers reruns on Netflix. It’s cheap and silly but it still works.

    Bulk and Skull 4 life!

  6. Bill says:

    Oh man. I have been dreading the day when organization topics get to X-E. I can’t seem to leave the house without an ironed shirt and the last thing I do on a Sunday night is spit shine my work shoes. That’s as far as I am going with my need to look like I am in a Joseph A. Bank commercial every day of my life. :(

  7. drew do says:

    I’ll also agree with Annette & Hoverbored: Hoarders is a show that it 100% about exploiting people with serious mental illness. It is the same thing as sticking a camera on a hospital psych ward. Then again people seem to be naturally voyeuristic so unfortunately that type of thing sells.

  8. Carpeteria says:

    So I think that Big League snowman looks extra determined because of the bill on his cap – it gives him a false crooked eyebrow effect thing, which really brings the whole design together in the end. Angry snowmen pitchers really should be used more often in marketing.

    I have to note I’m a bit disappointed this article didn’t pay off the obvious logical progression by having the birds live atop the greasy/gummy log cabin as an earth-shattering finale. In my head, it looks pretty impressive.

  9. Terror Claws says:


    I appreciate the glimpse into your development as a human being. It’s kind of wrong for us to exploit you and your mounds of crap for fun, but it’s been a great run. It does make me somewhat sad to not think there is this massive treasure trove of old 80’s stuff, innumerable commercials and Thanksgiving parades on VHS and mounds of my childhood stockpiled there. I guess XE is kind of the archive for these things, and goodness knows I’ve whittled down a TON myself. Used to have a 900 sq. foot basement lined with shelves. All of MASK? Yup. GI Joe by year? 1982-1983-1984-1985. Literally had EVERYTHING. Including Sears exclusives. Baller!

    Anyway, it’s gone now and I’m very happy and more organized. Now the house only gets messy from kids. I wish you luck organizing. If something’s truly important, I think you’ll hang on to it.

    Also, although I don’t run a website, I’ve not once sat down and said “Oh man, I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of X” and it’s been 6-7 years since I started the cleanout.

    I know that sounds extreme, but please re-read the part where I had every 80’s toyline for boys EVER.

  10. Neg is a proud sentai snob says:

    Watch sentai, for the love of all that is holy, Hoverbored. I can get you links to subs for Hurricanger (Ninja Storm) through Gokaiger without even thinking. 99% sure Gaoranger (Wild Force) is finished, too. I’d have to fish for it, but I sorta want to watch it myself, so it’d be worth it.

    Everything prior to that is spotty in terms of completion. Then there’s always Kamen Rider to consider~

  11. Rev. Tidy 13 says:

    The show is definitely exploitative. One thing about it that I do like is that they provide funds for therapy and care after the show is filmed, and a lot of help the people wouldn’t otherwise get, in exchange for broadcasting their horrible crippling illness to the amusement of millions. May not seem like a fair trade-off but these people wouldn’t have been able to do it on their own, and in a lot of cases, it’s a matter of them being on the verge of losing their homes, or CPS taking their children away, or their vast number of uncared-for pets dying all over the place.

    So if they keep that from happening in exchange for their footage, I see it as a good thing. They’ve done followups with a bunch of the families a year after their show airs and only a couple of them had negative responses to having been on. Mostly they just seem glad to have not lost their children.

    I wish an outwardly organized personality was always a sign of a stagnant mind. I really do. Because I’m meticulous and neat to a fault, and yet I can’t get my brain to stop coming up with bad ideas, no matter what I do to it. Stupid overactive thinking organ won’t obey my orders to shut down.

  12. I just want to know what became of the AC Characters. In-story, and in real life.

  13. Matt says:

    @Carpeteria: Good call, I really should’ve done that. Oh well.

    @Terror Claws: Socking my old toy collection (I mean, my way old collection, before X-E) is my one regret. Not because I want the stuff, but because it was worth a freakin’ fortune. One summer I quickly sold most of it in lots on eBay, which cut the profits but help me build money quick. I think I was 19 and had three vacations that summer, so, needed the money.

    Now I have an office that I’ve literally not stepped more than two feet inside in years. It’s not like I’ve held onto garbage, but it’s still pointless, and I’m happy to be rid of it. It’s mostly things I accumulated for the site, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you remember that for everything I actually wrote about, there are another 20 things I never got around to.

    @Rev and Hoarders fans: Can we go back to that diaper episode again? I haven’t seen it and, obviously, someone saving used diapers seems fascinating. Did the person have a loose justification for why he/she was doing that? Any reason at all beyond the sheer desire to hoard?

  14. Rev. Tidy 13 says:

    There are tons of diaper episodes. My favorite involved a woman who couldn’t muster the energy to throw them out, so she stacked them. Eventually the stack filled her room, so she had to sleep sitting up in a chair. But she had a hard time doing that, so she did the logical thing and strapped herself to the chair.

    This worked great until Mount Depends fell over on her, and she was strapped to a chair under a pile of her own used diapers. I think it was a day or two until the EMTs came and found her under there.

    The show came and helped her clean that out, and then actually helped her get into an assisted living facility because she was not in a position to deal with her life, obviously. The most recent diaper episode was shot on the day of the earthquake, and Matt Paxton, the cleaning specialist I have a passionate crush on, was on top of her diaper pile when the house started shaking.

    Oof, looks like this is a passionate subject for me. I’ll shut up about this now, but it’s fascinating stuff if you can get past the horror of it.

  15. Matt says:

    I may have to start DVR’ing this. People being enveloped by used diapers during earthquakes. That’s too creative to be real.

  16. Yelinna says:

    I want that USB Philips tree!! It’s freaking cool 😀 😀 😀 😀

  17. DJ D says:

    OMG, What is wrong with these diaper people???

  18. Carpeteria says:

    Matt, dear sir, it’s never too late in life to add artificial birds atop artificially flavored shreds of bubble gum atop an artificial processed meat shack. Don’t let that be one of your greatest regrets in life.

  19. mandy_Reeves says:

    Ok……mandy….breath….it’s not your fault that Matt didn’t know you have a fear of stuffed life like and dead birds and birds in general…..

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