Undeterred by the lack of popular demand, and inspired by Marie, who put together the finest collection of Lincoln- and Springfield, Illinois-related gifts anywhere, it’s time to launch this year’s Holiday Gift Guide. All of the goods below come with the usual Infospigot guarantee: This is all real stuff, at real Web addresses, offered by public and private entities that will take your credit card number and perhaps deliver the goods before you’ve forgotten you’ve ordered them (four items below; more to come, maybe).
Angry Squid T-Shirt
Remember the plucky Japanese marine biologists who snagged and photographed a giant squid? The cephalopod in question lost part of a tentacle. You can commemorate the event, and perhaps express solidarity with the monstrous sea creature, with the Angry Squid T-Shirt from San Francisco’s Mule Design Studio. I ordered one of these for a college student in Oregon. I can attest it’s as good as it looks. 20 bucks. Also available: Angry Squid hoodies and beanies (what we used to call “sweatshirts” and “stocking caps”).
Rock Paper Scissors T-Shirt
As recently discussed in this space, Rock Paper Scissors has gone big time as a competitive activity. Surely it’ll soon appear as a demonstration “sport” in the Summer and/or Winter Olympics. The shirt, in always-in-vogue black with a fancy-ass graphic, looks sharp and will allow you to say in years to come that you were in on the ground floor (OK–maybe second or third floor) of this worldwide craze. $19.99.
U.S. Mint Medals
The mint is about a lot more than feeding the annoying profusion of coins in that big Tupperware container behind the blender on your kitchen counter. By occasional act of Congress, the mint also strikes commemorative medals. You can get medals celebrating recent secretaries of the Treasury and directors of the mint. For instance, Henrietta Holsman Fore, honored for her “steady leadership” of the nation’s coin factories. A 3-inch bronze medal (90 percent copper, 10 percent zinc) of Ms. Fore will run you $38; and you can almost hear your giftee gazing at this “study in artistic flow and medallic composition” and murmuring, “What the f___ is this?”
But if you think a less obscure personage makes a better gift, the mint offers an eclectic collection of American luminaries. You might choose the handsome Albert Gallatin medal–the medal, at least, is handsome ($38, 3-inch bronze). It’s a terrific first step toward closing your Albert Gallatin knowledge gap. Second step: go look him up on Wikipedia.
Looking for a more recent Great American? That hard-to-please gift recipient–your boss, your bill collector, your recently deceased Great Aunt Flossie–might spend hours (or eternity) fingering a fashionable Gerald and Betty Ford medal ($38, 3-inch bronze; $3.75, 1.5-inch bronze), which is extra-historic now that the former president is now the oldest man ever to have held the office.
The mint sells medals commemorating all the presidents, in fact, including the current incumbent ($38, 3-inch bronze; $3.50, 1.3-inch bronze; the medal would make a fine companion to last year’s Gift Guide hit, George Bush’s Dumbass Head on a String Air Freshener).
Those of us fortunate enough to have spent seemingly endless hours motoring across America’s plains and prairielands have occasionally unglued our eyes from the horizon long enough to glance at fields filled with an alien-looking plant. On the bottom, it looks like a stunted cornstalk; on the top, it’s festooned with bountiful heads of reddish-brown matter of some kind. It’s sorghum, and one thing’s certain: 2006 is as likely as any year to be the one that sees sorghum, an obscure but important cereal grain, replace chocolate, cookies, cakes, pies, egg nog, and fruitcake as the foodstuff of choice among holiday gift-givers and -receivers. You can join in the wild new popularity of this noble crop by giving sorghum and a whole range of sorghum-derived or -related gifts: from organic whole grain sorghum ($6.84 for 5 pounds–boil two handfuls for 1 hour for a gut-cleansing gruel) to Pure Sorghum (Molasses) ($15.95 for 16 ounces–just the thing for sweetening gruel) to sorghum flour ($6.68, 20 ounces–made for your gluten-free lifestyle) to cookbooks, aprons, hats, and T-shirts from the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association.