2014 has been a tumultuous year full of Ebola scares, random shootings, and rampant racism, sexism, and classism. And seeing as how, Santa be damned, all that might keep on happening right through this holiday season, The A.V. Club has decided to embrace our fear instead of cower behind it. Thus, our two-part 2014 holiday gift guide is packed full of terrifying and highly contagious items available to the masses right this very second. Each item below can absolutely kill you and/or your loved ones given the chance, but isn’t knowing you have to leave a lasting legacy part of the fun of holiday cheer?
So grab some duct tape and some surgical masks and lock and load for part two, below. Part one ran yesterday—but you’d already know that if your brain wasn’t full of toxic fracking chemicals and subliminal messages from ISIS.
Trying to think of the most harmless thing, something you loved from your childhood, Sony briefly set aside the notion of Ghostbusters 3 to focus on repackaging a collectible edition of the Ghostbusters theme song for the movie’s 30th anniversary. Both the pleasingly puffy white gatefold and the vinyl are marshmallow-scented, and the inside is crammed with photos of the iconic Stay-Puft climax, including several beautiful 3-D and motion lenticular stills of Manhattan getting crushed by a giant marshmallow spokesman. The limited-edition version also features a set of transparencies, allowing you to choose the form of your Destructor by changing the Marshmallow Man’s facial expressions. Whenever you’re done playing with those, you can listen to Ray Parker Jr.’s still-infectious “Ghostbusters” theme, as well as Run D.M.C.’s rap remix version from Ghostbusters II.
How will it kill you? Asphyxiation from huffing that fake marshmallow scent. Or disappointment that the second track isn’t Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own,” instead of the Ghostbusters II song no one remembers.
Known antidotes: Crossing the streams, getting this Mr. Stay Puft guy laid (he’s a sailor, he’s in New York), a protective shell of cynicism formed by fatigue with Ghostbusters nostalgia.
Sensationalist news headline: “Who Ya Gonna Call? An Ambulance”
Did they send us one? When someone asks you this, you say YES. [Sean O’Neal]
Dracula. The Mummy. The Wolfman. Uh, Invisible Agent. The ghoulish gang is all here in this (mostly) comprehensive DVD box set, which includes a whopping 30 monster movies released by Universal from 1931 until 1956. Those who purchased the studio’s previous “Legacy Collection” DVDs will notice no difference in the transfers, save for the ones afforded to eight famous films Universal recently released on Blu-ray. But the new set does away with the annoying double-sided discs of the Legacy Collection, as well as those awful Van Helsing teasers, while also finding room for a few new titles (including three Abbott And Costello vehicles). While Universal’s silent-era monster titles would have been a nice addition—why include the 1943 Phantom Of The Opera, and not the iconic, 1925 Lon Chaney version?—no fan of the dark and stormy would object to finding this under the tree.
How will it kill you? Sleep deprivation incurred during a foolhardy attempt to marathon the whole damn collection. That, or monsters are real, and binge-watching all of these movies in succession will release them from your TV set, Ringu-style.
Known antidotes: Wooden stakes, silver bullets, torches, pitchforks, flammable scrolls, decreased susceptibility to 80-year-old makeup effects.
Sensationalist news headline: “Monster Mash Catches On In Flash; Death Count Rises”
Did they send us one? Yes. [A.A. Dowd]
Dana Scully altar candle ($13)
The X-Files heroine Dr. Dana Scully is known for her level-headedness, and would likely tell you that burning candles as a religious practice is an irrational superstition at best. But she is still worthy of adoration, and the Chicago-based Etsy store LastCraft has devised an illuminated tribute to Scully, billed here as “Our Lady Of Common Sense.” Stare into the flame and contemplate the mysteries of science under Gillian Anderson’s intense gaze, surrounded by goth-chick appropriate florals, UFOs, Mars, and even some killer bees, for fans of the first The X-Files movie. Other pop-cultural idols available for worship include Beyoncé, Morrissey, the cast of My So-Called Life, and the witches of The Craft, for those not inclined toward sensible suits and skepticism.
How will it kill you? A fire ignited by a stray candle tipping over would be quite deadly indeed, and common enough for investigators to overlook minor details like the man in black spotted near the scene.
Known antidotes: Science is the enemy of superstition, and the science behind proper candle-burning safety is well documented.
Sensationalist news headline: “Lady Agent Ignites Murderous Menorah”
Did they send us one?: Yes, delivered by a very rude man who chain-smoked in our offices, even when we asked him to put it out. [Katie Rife]
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery ($90)
Twin Peaks is coming back in 2015, which means it’s time to watch, re-watch, and obsess over David Lynch and Mark Frost’s small town murder mystery TV show. Helping us obsess is Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery, which includes all 30 episodes alongside the movie prequel, Fire Walk With Me; a documentary of that film’s cast and crew; and an hour and a half of extended and deleted scenes. Of special interest is a recently filmed 10-minute segment of Lynch interviewing the actors in character, providing a window into where they would be today.
How will it kill you? Viewing these DVDs may result in your imprisonment in the Black Lodge. Beware for your soul.
Known antidotes: It’s likely there is no antidote.
Sensationalist news headline: “Who Killed Laura Palmer? Answers On Page Six.”
Did they send us one? Unfortunately not. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
The Snacking Dead ($14)
The best television show to stimulate hunger is a tie between Bones and The Walking Dead, but Walking Dead has a cookbook to pique the appetite of the cannibal inside of you with Sweet-ish fleshballs and elbows casserole. Not only for cannibals, there’s also dire ham biscuits, tuna salad meltdowns, and for dessert, try the gratuitous violence Jello-mold. On the book’s website is The Drinking Dead, a (free!) Walking Dead drinking game. Suggested drinks are recipes from the book: Bloody Walkers, Ass-Kicker Punch, and, naturally, the Corpse Reviver. Stare blankly after consumption, wondering what has happened to your humanity.
How will it kill you? Zombies will kill you first.
Known antidotes: Putting your trust in the natural leader with a comforting Southern accent. He’ll save you and dinnertime.
Sensationalist news headline: “Zombie Flesh Higher In Calories Than The Cheesecake Factory”
Did they send us one? Why else would we be eating gutted mushrooms with our post-apocalyptic po’boy? [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
The Shining blanket ($119)
Just in time for snowstorms that leave you trapped inside, cozying with and/or killing your family, Sin In Linen debuts this blanket inspired by the famous rug seen covering the halls of the Overlook Hotel. The soft, heavy knit throw boasts the familiar geometric pattern seen in your nightmares (and more recently, Mondo’s similar line of Shining products), and is made entirely of recycled organic cotton—like the ghosts of thousands of murdered cotton fibers, asking you to come lay with them forever, and ever, and ever.
How will it kill you? Suffocation seems most logical—though there are some theories that The Shining blanket is actually a metaphor for the slaughter of the Native Americans, in which case it may be ridden with pox.
Known antidotes: Work, play, or generally anything Jack can do that doesn’t involve lying around under a blanket.
Sensationalist news headline: “Teknalb Redrum! Teknalb Redrum!”
Did they send us one? Yes, they sent us a Shining blanket. We’ve always had a Shining blanket. [Sean O’Neal]
Totoro knit gloves ($63)
With winter setting in and another polar vortex on the horizon, it’s crucial to stock up on warm and sturdy winter gear. These knitted mittens keep your hands as warm as if you were nestled deep inside Totoro’s fluffy down. After ordering the adorable mittens, we learned that the producer, WoolMagic, is a social start-up with the aim of creating meaningful work opportunities for older women, some of whom have become financially solvent for the first time in their lives through selling their knitting.
How will it kill you? These only keep your hands toasty warm, so the rest of your exposed, mittenless skin is at high risk of exposure and frostbite.
Known antidotes: Covering yourself in a mound of knitted mittens, creating a hermit hut from which you never emerge.
Sensationalist news headline: “Polar Vortex Kills Everyone Without Knitted Winter-Wear”
Did they send us one? Yes, and they are delightful. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
All 86 episodes of David Chase’s masterful gangster series get “made,” with a crisp, 1080p high-definition transfer that will finally show you every crag on Silvio Dante’s face. There’s not much to be said about The Sopranos that hasn’t been said already, but this new box set adds new interviews with cast, crew, and critics anyway, all weighing in on why the HBO drama is one of the best TV shows ever created. The addition of never-before-seen archival footage and lost scenes is certainly another selling point—as is the fact that the slimmer Blu-ray packaging means less muscling in on the rest of your DVDs’ territory. But above all, it presents this amazing piece of television in the best possible light, allowing you to bask in the clear, sparkling beauty of New Jersey.
How will it kill you? Panic attack from realizing that all those DVD sets you spent years and hundreds of dollars collecting are now worthless.
Known antidotes: Fuhgettingaboutit.
Sensationalist news headline: “Legitimate Businessmen Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny Anything”
Did they send us one? Whether HBO sent us one or didn’t is not the point. The Blu-ray set raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer. (But yes, they did.) [Sean O’Neal]
Usually around this time of year we’re inundated with DVD and Blu-ray sets that are lovingly packaged with extras, notes, and annoying elaborate packaging. Not so for the hilarious red-headed stepchild of Comedy Central, Reno 911! The show had its ups and downs, sure, but it was generally consistently weird and wonderful. Its DVD set looks like somebody had some spare Chinese packaging from DVD’s early years—it’s a clamshell monstrosity that somehow manages to be both bare-bones and large. Still, it’s what on the discs that count, and everything is here except the underrated feature film, Reno 911!: Miami.
How will it kill you? You’ll die laughing.
Known antidotes: Laughter, which is also the best medicine.
Sensationalist news headline: “Cops Shoot Civilians, Then Laugh About It!”
Did they send us one? Yes, but our nicer box sets are already talking shit to it. [Josh Modell]
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—a gourmet brand launched in Ohio about a dozen years ago—knows that the way to The A.V. Club’s heart is through our stomachs. They’ve been on hand for A.V. Fest the past couple of years. They send us pints of new flavors in the mail on occasion. They opened up a scoop shop in Chicago just so they could be near us. (Okay, maybe not just for that reason.) They even sent an ice cream truck out to our Melvins video shoot, which ended in amazing ice cream-fueled chaos. On a recent trip to our office—in which they brought new flavors, including Rum Ball—they told us about their Pint Club, in which they’ll mail people three pints of ice cream (“one signature flavor, one perennial flavor, one limited edition flavor”) four times a year. Sounds like the perfect gift (for us, anyway).
How will it kill you? A combination of pleasure and cholesterol.
Known antidotes: Willpower, which is abundant in America this time of year.
Sensationalist news headline: “What You Get In The Mail Might Kill… Your Appetite If You Eat It Before Dinner!”
Did they send us one? Vague promises have been made. [Josh Modell]
Everyone’s had, at some given point in time, a shitty boom box perched precariously near their shower, thus enabling the bather to both listen to NPR’s Morning Edition and/or Taylor Swift while shaving or shampooing. And while that gets the job done, we’re all getting a little older, so why not get something better? Kohler’s Moxie Showerhead syncs up with any Bluetooth-enabled device, meaning you can listen to playlists, ESPN Radio, or the latest episode of Serial with absolutely no hassle. Moxie’s wireless speaker pops out for recharging, and you can even carry it to another room should you want to keep listening once you’re done showering. The future is now.
How will it kill you? By falling and knocking over your old radio, which you were too lazy to move.
Known antidotes: Anyone committed to both Rover’s Morning Glory and the lo-fidelity sound produced by a clock radio set in a steamy room.
Sensationalist news headline: “Could NPR Be Spying On You… In The Shower?”
Did they send us one? Indeed they did, and we can’t wait to employ it for our next Friday night shower rave. [Marah Eakin]
Rumpl high performance blankets ($65-$229)
Outdoor blankets are nice, but they’re always so boring. Wool? Heavy sleeping bag material? Ugh. And what’s the point of keeping a sleeping bag around if you can’t proudly pull it out and show it off every so often, especially when you’ve got an apartment with drafty windows? Rumpl blankets are durable, compact, and surprisingly stylish, meaning they’re cool for both camping and the five months a year you or your girlfriend spends under a blanket on the couch.
How will it kill you? Suffocation, obviously.
Known antidotes: Saunas. Palm Springs.
Sensationalist news headline: “Is Your Blanket Trying To Kill You?”
Did they send us one? What? Speak up. This insanely comfortable new blanket is making us sleepy. [Marah Eakin]
A giant cheeseburger mask ($39.99)
Halloween might only really be one day a year—or weekend, if you’re a popular and alcohol-fueled adult—but there’s no real law saying you can’t dress in costume every day, right? Perpetual Kid’s cheeseburger mask is the perfect head accessory for any backyard BBQs, quick lunch on the go, or whatever caper the Hamburglar might be up to these days. The eyeholes on the latex monstrosity are a little hard to see from, but, really, it’s funnier to see a human cheeseburger just sitting motionless in a chair than it is to see one stumbling around, right?
How will it kill you? Again, suffocation, obviously.
Known antidotes: Whatever melts latex. A hungry person with absolutely no standards or regard for their own life.
Sensationalist news headline: “Have You Seen This Burger??”
Did they send us one: They did, and it’s made everyone in the office think we’re both very awesome and very weird ever since. [Marah Eakin]
Anime glasses ($3.99)
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video is years and millions upon millions of YouTube views old now, but it’s still pretty alarming to see a real, human person sporting big, expressive anime peepers. That’s why we were immediately drawn to Perpetual Kid’s Anime Glasses, which really take that whole easy costume of “Hey, it’s me but with a fake nose and mustache” to a much newer, more modern level. Just throw these things on and you’re a new, creepier person ready for a night full of exaggerated adventures and sound-effect-accented running.
How will it kill you? By getting you shot by some anti-anime vigilante.
Known antidote: Contact lenses?
Sensationalist news headline: “You’ll Never Believe What Regular People Are Doing To Their Eyes Now”
Did they send us one? Not just one, but two. Now we can have anime duo adventures! [Marah Eakin]
Poop emoji shirt ($30)
The pile of smiling poop is a seminal emoji, an addition to our lexicon helping us communicate thoughts that just can’t be put into words. After reading the Fast Company oral history of the emoji, we wanted to wear the poop on our person. Online store Yeah Whateverz is a one-stop shop for your contemporary pop culture needs, including shirts and pillow cases displaying everything from Nicolas Cage and Miley Cyrus to kittens gamboling on a deep-space background and a shirt showing nothing but gummy worms.
How will it kill you? Poop.
Known antidotes: Poop.
Sensationalist news headline: “Poop Poop Poop”
Did they send us one? Sure did, and it makes for a great conversation piece. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
The Beatles In Mono vinyl box set (Around $350, depending on where you get it)
Real Beatles nerds know that, while some of The Beatles’ records sound great in stereo, many of the group’s records were actually recorded and mixed by the band to be heard in mono—or via a one-channel speaker system. Take Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, for instance. The group mixed it themselves to mono, only to have George Martin and company come in a little later, monkey around, and make the whole stereo—a process George Harrison said made the album sound “naked.” And while Beatles records, songs, or anything have never really been all that hard to come by as a whole, the mono mixes have sort of floated under the radar for a bit, existing as something only true fans cared or knew about. That’s who this set is for, really—classic Beatles nerds and recording heads. It’ll be a nice thing for anyone else, but for those people? Holy shit.
How will it kill you? With subtlety.
Known antidote: Area 54-like proof that Paul McCartney really did die in a car crash back in 1967.
Sensationalist news headline: “Could This Beatles Box Set Really Blow Your Mind Out In A Car?”
Did they send us one? They did, because they know we’re nerdy like that. [Marah Eakin]
Custom-made Nickelodeon figurines (prices start at $20)
Sometimes, the best present you can give someone isn’t something you got at a store or ordered via Amazon, but something that shows you really know them well—or, rather, you know the obscure ’90s Nickelodeon characters they like. Etsy user Tim Posey (a.k.a. KokoTBone) sells handmade tiny, hand-sculpted figurines of ’90s Nick characters like Mr. Bighead, Doug, and Krumm on his web store, but he also fills custom orders and will sculpt just about anything you want—though animated characters are probably preferred. They’re exceptionally true to anything you ever saw on TV, full of awesome details, and pretty affordable, all things considered. Plus, they show you care.
How will it kill you? Made with polymer clay, acrylic gloss, and wire, these things would probably break apart into dangerous and pointy pieces if you hit them against something hard enough.
Known antidote: Age. Lack of a sense of whimsy.
Sensationalist news headline: “Up Next: Will This New Toy Kill Your Kids?”
Did they send us one? We made a couple of requests—The Adventures Of Pete And Pete’s Mr. Tastee for Marah, the three “Wacky Delly” characters from Rocko’s Modern Life for Erik—and bam, one week later, they were in our hot little hands. [Marah Eakin]
From the only band that has ever mattered comes this 40th-anniversary collectors’ box set featuring live footage spanning all four decades of Rush’s career with over two hours of unreleased material. It includes footage from the band’s last five tours—Rush In Rio, R30, Snakes & Arrows Live, Time Machine 2011, and Clockwork Angels Tour—as well as previously unseen and unreleased live material dating all the way back to 1974. The DVD set comes in a 52-page hardback book filled with photographs.
How will it kill you? With too much rock for one heart.
Known antidotes: Earplugs.
Sensationalist news headline: “To Mold A New Mortality, Closer To The Heart”
Did they send us one?: YES! [Becca James]
Dickinson Balsam Pillow ($32)
A staple of the American poetry canon, Emily Dickinson is remembered for breaking the conventions of the form in the 1800s. She also had a notable fascination with death that lasted right up to her own demise in 1899, with a funeral service fittingly held in a library.
How will it kill you? It’s a fir pillow funeral for your brain, and it will make you bleed profusely out of your ears—a result of consistently trying to decipher the aphorism.
Known antidotes: A book for Dickinsonian translation to modern English; WordLens.
Sensational news headline: “Literate Pillow Literally Blows Mind”
Did they send us one? Yes, indeed. [Becca James]
The collected works of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have been packaged and re-packaged throughout the decades—but never re-packaged in the form seen here. In addition to newly remastered versions of the duo’s complete studio catalogue, The Complete Albums Collection bolsters its claims of completeness with the never-before-remastered soundtrack to The Graduate and four live releases, including the previously out-of-print The Concert In Central Park. Each CD is packaged in scale-model LP sleeves (with reproductions of the original artwork), and the accompanying booklet features an introduction by one-time Rolling Stone, Creem, and Crawdaddy! contributor Bud Scoppa.
How will it kill you? If you’ve read this far, then you’re already dead, having been wiped out in a mass extinction event that occurred between the end of the Cretaceous period and the dawn of the Mesozoic Era. These words have somehow penetrated layers of igneous rock and discarded Simon And Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits jewel cases to reach you and anyone else who knows the differences between the two studio versions of “The Sound Of Silence.”
Known antidotes: Red convertibles, rockin’ ponytails, a new girlfriend who insists that the kids call her “Barb.”
Sensationalist news headline: “InGen CEO John Hammond Touts Preservation of Dino DNA, CD Market”
Did they send one to us? They did, and we really appreciate the mastering work Vic Anesini has done to make “The Only Living Boy In New York” audible to modern ears. [Erik Adams]
Jumping on 2014’s hottest DVD trend, this collection takes the first 100 installments of ESPN’s jock-doc series and stuffs them in a miniature locker. Is it thematically appropriate packaging or some sort of nerd-revenge fantasy writ tiny in black-and-scarlet metal? Probably the former, since 30 For 30 is a nerdy endeavor in and of itself: Conceived as an all-star celebration of The Worldwide Leader In Sports’ 30th anniversary, 30 For 30 has since expanded to encompass a wide world of sports filmmaking. This fifth-anniversary set comprises 100 feature-length works and short subjects, covering athletes like Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, and Martina Navratilova, and including directorial efforts from Spike Jonze, Albert Maysles, and John Singleton. And for added practicality, the locker houses a branded beanie and T-shirt.
How will it kill you? With the avalanche of emails that follow in its wake: The collection is available only through a special offer from Groupon. (Estimated savings, which is difficult to verify considering it’s a Groupon exclusive: $850.01.) If that’s not what gets you, then it’ll be the shame of watching so many finely tuned athletic bodies splashed across 114 hours of footage, while your own body grows weak and pale because you’ve just sat there watching 114 hours of 30 For 30.
Known antidotes: The next run-in between ESPN brass and 30 For 30 executive producer Bill Simmons, which will surely lead the network to wipe all traces of Simmons’ work off of the map—including your $150 DVD caddy.
Sensationalist news headline: “30 For 30 Still Batting 1.000 In The Casualty Column”
Did they send one to us? Yes, and we’re not sure what good the beanie will do, since having all this 30 For 30 at our fingertips will keep us from going outside for some time. [Erik Adams]
The benefit/curse of being a long-running TV show is that there are many decades with which to fill with tie-in merchandise. Enter the TARDIS and Dalek cream and sugar set. The packaging asks, “Why exterminate when you can have a cup of tea?” Why indeed, though perhaps these marketers haven’t come face to face with the single-minded Daleks, who exist only to purify their race and destroy everything else. Only now, instead of a cephalopod-like interior, you can fill your tiny Dalek with sugar, and instead of protecting the Doctor and his companion(s), your miniature TARDIS will protect your cream.
How will it kill you? EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!
Known antidotes: The Doctor and his sonic screwdriver.
Sensationalist news headline: “The Doctor Offers No Cures”
Did they send us one? Yes. [Laura M. Browning]
This has been sitting around the A.V. Club office for a few weeks now getting lots of ooohs and aaahs, and has even served its intended function by holding two dozen pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins. And even though the cupcake trend has been long overdone, placing cupcakes on fake records makes them significantly more delicious.
How will it kill you? As you head into the kitchen for a midnight cupcake, a thief breaks in to steal your extensive vinyl collection. A fight ensues, and you lose.
Known antidotes: More cupcakes.
Sensationalist news headline: “Spinning Platters Cause Dizziness, Falling, Cracking Head Open, Eventual Death”
Did they send us one? Yes, you spin me right ’round, baby, right ’round. [Laura M. Browning]
Pigeon post ($35)
You’ve already bought as much Harry Potter swag as your house can hold, but you still haven’t found a good substitute for owl mail. The Chicago-based Letter Writers Alliance has the next best thing with a plastic pigeon that you can mail. They kindly include stamps for the first mailing, label pouches, and instructions that include a suggestion to mail your pigeon in a blue mailbox, because apparently you might get refused by a disgruntled postal worker if you try to mail it in person.
How will it kill you? Pigeons carry a number of scary-sounding diseases that can infect humans: histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, psittacosis, toxoplasmosis, and encephalitis viruses. Plus, have you seen The Birds?
Known antidotes: Snapchat. Email is so passé.
Sensationalist news headline: “You’ll Never Believe What This Person Got In The Mail!”
Did they send us one? Yes, and it is wonderful. [Laura M. Browning]
Whale pencils ($16)
Speaking of letter writers, it’s only fitting that one have a fancy set of writing utensils, and why not one that’s also animal-themed. Sara Lorenz of Etsy’s Social Goods Co. makes all sort of writing accessories by hand out of recycled newspaper (Who said print was dead?) and some even have a little literary inspiration behind them, so grab a few for yourself and friends and let the writing of the great correspondence commence.
How will it kill you? Writers’ block will drive you insane, resulting in a pencil straight to the heart.
Known antidotes: A good ballpoint pen.
Sensationalist news headline: “Writer Driven Insane By A Whale Of A Task”
Did they send us one? Yes, we were sent numerous goodies—more pencil packs, erasers, and pencil sharpeners—from Social Goods Co., all of which would make excellent stocking stuffers. [Becca James]
Dark Matter coffee (varies)
Chicago-based Dark Matter Coffee doesn’t just roast killer coffee, they also do some killer collaborations: In September, they released Black Blood, presented with Mastodon. The bag copy proclaims, “Through the power vested in Black Blood, the Mastodon shall reclaim its throne of world domination,” and we don’t doubt it. Dark Matter is also producing beans in conjunction with Thrill Jockey; called Doom Chuggy, it promises to be a “dark offering for the valiant warriors who fight against the plague of mundane existence on cold winter days.” There’s also Prince Of The Chocolate City, celebrating a new biography on Gil Scott-Heron; Evil Matters, a collaboration with Margot & The Nuclear So-And-So’s; and Dream Cuts, which will accompany a memoir of Viv Albertine.
How will it kill you? Drink all of it in one day and enjoy a free one-way ride to the morgue.
Known antidotes: If you’re supposed to drink coffee to help sober up, shouldn’t you drink whiskey to help get over your caffeine high?
Sensationalist news headline: “Scientists Can’t Determine Whether This Coffee Even Exists”
Did they send us one?: Supposedly we’ve got five pounds on the way. We look forward to caffeinating ourselves into oblivion. They might send you a bag of Black Blood, signed by all the members of Mastodon, if you’re lucky. [Laura M. Browning]
We tried to get Brookstone to send us a $1,400 pair of headphones. They politely declined, but offered to send us this modern-day boombox instead, which does look like it will come in handy if/when beach weather returns, or if/when it’s warm enough to work on our office rooftop.
How will it kill you? You’ll attempt to reenact Say Anything, but instead of having your cassette tape cued up to “In Your Eyes,” your new Big Blue Party speaker will accidentally shuffle to Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The particulars of your ensuing death may vary.
Known antidotes: Small orange nap.
Sensationalist news headline: “Noise Pollution Is Back!”
Did they send us one? “In your eyes / The light the heat…” [Laura M. Browning]
Crosley Director CD recorder ($300)
It’s a problem faced by any serious audiophile: You want to buy vinyl (it just sounds warmer, you know?), but your dusty record-store finds don’t match the aesthetic of your ugly, modern, thoughtlessly designed turntable. But retro meets the future in Crosley’s Director CD recorder/turntable/cassette deck/AM-FM radio/CD player. We’re not sure we’ll ever actually use some of those features, but cassette culture is making something of a comeback. Plus Crosley’s highest-end product looks really, really good.
How will it kill you? Analog-to-digital radiation poisoning
Known antidotes: Listening to your music on your shitty off-brand earbuds.
Sensationalist news headline: “Harmless Musical Fun, Or Potentially Dangerous Time Machine?”
Did they send us one? Yes. [Laura M. Browning]
Belle & Sebastian burst onto the scene with a mere thousand copies of Tigermilk in 1996, one of which you can own for around $800. Or spend a fraction of that and buy Matador’s vinyl reissues of nine Belle & Sebastian LPs (including a double LP of The Third Eye Centre), which look beautiful and will sound great on that Crosley turntable.
How will it kill you? With kindness.
Known antidotes: Swedish death metal.
Sensationalist news headline: “SCOTLAND INVADES AMERICA”
Did they send us one? Nine, actually. One of each. [Laura M. Browning]
This was sent to us with the Big Blue Party speaker, and though it was the subject of mockery for some time, we finally slipped a few spray bottles in the women’s bathroom. Far from the chemical shitstorm we’d anticipated, the Onion Inc. restroom now smells faintly of bergamot. Boasting some of the most groan-worthy puns we’ve seen in a while, the “North Bowl” and “Poo-Dolph” promise to make your shit smell like Spritzmas, which apparently involves a proprietary blend of natural essential oils in scents like eucalyptus and spearmint. They came beautifully/ridiculously packaged with a his and hers spray, so you and your significant other can just keep pretending that the other one doesn’t poop.
How will it kill you? Once you get used to masking your shit with the pleasant scents of cinnamon or mint, you’ll go into a public bathroom and be killed by the smell.
Known antidotes: Actual poop.
Sensationalist news headline: “Shit Happens”
Did they send us one? We’ve got the best-smelling shit around. [Laura M. Browning]
Chicago pop-culture fantasy map ($100+)
Anybody who’s picked up a fantasy book in the past few decades knows the joy of those inside-cover maps of worlds we can only dream of exploring. A Pittsburgh cartographer named Stentor Danielson has taken to Etsy with elaborate Tolkien-esque maps of real cities, and he also takes requests. We were in talks with Danielson about a Chicago pop-culture fantasy map but didn’t get our request in early enough, though that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up where we left off. The A.V. Club’s dream map includes dearly departed hot dog joint Hot Doug’s, the Chess Records Building on S. Michigan Avenue, the Ferris Bueller parade route, and, most importantly, Francis W. Parker school of Poltergeist III fame.
How will it kill you? By the time you discover that the map comes to life, it will be too late. Hopefully you will fall somewhere along the Von Steuben Day Parade and not in the midst of the Dark Knight car chase scene.
Known antidotes: Mapquest.
Sensationalist news headline: “One-Way Streets And Dark Alleys: The Untold Story Of Maps”
Did they send us one? No, but you can commission your own, or you can buy a non-pop-culture Chicago fantasy map. [Laura M. Browning]
The biggest household-name director in cinematic history, excepting perhaps Alfred Hitchcock, has made movies at all the major Hollywood studios. This eight-film Blu-ray package includes only the Universal projects, meaning that anyone hoping for a comprehensive vision of Spielberg’s career as a one-man blockbuster machine will have to assemble their own custom box-set. That said, Director’s Collection functions fine as an introduction to the man’s oeuvre, placing early breakthroughs (Duel, The Sugarland Express) and anomalous missteps (1941, Always)—all available on Blu-ray for the first time—alongside his biggest smashes (Jaws, E.T., and the two Jurassic Park movies). The most glaring omission would be Schindler’s List, the only Universal work excluded from the set, and a perfect representation of Spielberg’s latter-day transformation into a prestige filmmaker. But it’s hard to argue with a package that smuggles Bruce the shark, the towering T. Rex, and a gun-toting Goldie Hawn into your living room.
How will it kill you? Trying to get the iconic, earworm-catchy scores of John Williams out of your brain will result in a complete mental breakdown—followed, certainly, by fatal attempts to fly your bicycle, outrun Texas rangers, or drive a tank through Los Angeles.
Known antidotes: Therapy to resolve long-standing daddy issues, adoption of bold anti-blockbuster stance, steady diet of Jean-Luc Godard diatribes.
Sensationalist news headline: “We’re Going To Need A Bigger Cemetery”
Did they send us one? Yes. [A.A. Dowd]
Peter Quill’s original Awesome Mix Vol. 1 was recorded on cassette tape (and is also available on cassette, for the purists), but we’re quite confident that had the mix been available on 180-gram “Purple Infinity Stone”-colored vinyl, he would have given it a spin on the old turntable as well. Those smooth ’70s tunes just sound so rich and warm on vinyl, you know? But half of the appeal of an artifact like this one is in the packaging, and this one comes with a hand-screen-printed sleeve featuring Tyler Stout’s original Guardians Of The Galaxy Mondo poster reformatted to fit the LP, along with one of nine screen-printed handbills featuring characters from the movie randomly inserted into each sleeve.
How will it kill you? 180-gram vinyl is heavy, and with the edges sharpened to a razor point, the LP could be a lethal weapon in the right (very strong) hands.
Known antidotes: MP3s have no weight to speak of, although the data compression is technically considered torture in audiophile circles.
Sensationalist news headline: “Killer Vinyl Leaves Deep Cuts”
Did they send us one?: No. The LP is still on pre-order, and isn’t expected to ship until early 2015.