Last year, when Orlando Weekly's editorial staff learned that we'd be publishing our personal Christmas wish lists as a holiday gift guide, the idea initially struck me as unforgivably crass. But by the time New Year's Day rolled around, I realized that I had scored an impressive 60 percent of the items on my list from attentive friends and fans. (And one suggestion – "power of attorney" – was beyond almost anybody's ability to provide.)

With that kind of success ratio staring me in the face, I was suddenly singing a Homer Simpsonian chorus of "Great idea, boss!"– while fighting off the temptation to really test my readership's devotion next time by appreciably upping the dollar value of my choices. But with few exceptions, this year's picks won't set you back any further than last year's. I'd rather set my sights on $25 worth of love and get it than shoot for $250 worth and go down in flames.


Best Buy, various locations

Neglected on both the UPN and Cartoon Network, Home Movies was probably too subtle and mild-mannered an animated series to earn the attention of an Aqua Teen Hunger Force. But a fanatical cult of converts already knows what this first DVD collection is meant to teach everybody else: There's no viewing pleasure greater than watching elementary schooler Brendon Small work out his embryonic angst by pursuing his muse as an independent filmmaker.

What I want most out of this boxed set, though, is a never-ending supply of classic exchanges with Brendon's hilariously unscrupulous soccer coach, a brusque ex-con named Jon McGuirk (voiced by the world-class improviser H. Jon Benjamin). Something about the guy's unfettered, semi-alcoholic didacticism just clicks with me, for reasons it's probably best not to dwell on. Onward.

Family Comics and Cards, 505 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 628-4779

I stopped buying comic books last summer, in what I thought was an overdue display of adult frugality. After all, responsible gentlemen who are pushing 40 don't waste their discretionary income every two weeks trying to find out if Spider-Man is going to fry Carnage's bacon, do they? No, siree. They just wait until said adventures are compiled into trade paperbacks and ask somebody else to foot the bill. That way, they get to have all the fun of perpetual adolescence while experiencing none of the shame.


Urban Think Bookstore, 625 E. Central Blvd., (407) 650-8004

In the periodicals pantheon, The New Yorker's cartoons occupy a position roughly analogous to that of the beaver shots in Playboy. You may say you subscribe for the articles, and you may even be telling the truth. But 'fess up: What part of the publication do you always look at first?

This mammoth retrospective volume obviously can't incorporate every hilarious sketch that's ever graced the magazine's pages; that's what the attendant CD-ROMs are for. To make full and proper use of the latter, I'd need a replacement for my long-dead home computer, and I know you can't afford that, dear reader. So I'll content myself with sneaking in to the office on weekends and counting on you to vouch for me if I get popped.

$5 per set

Guitar Factory, 2816 Edgewater Drive, (407) 425-1070

Having recently started to play music in public again – after a 19-year hiatus – I was reminded that the cost and inconvenience of having to change guitar strings regularly has probably driven more talented instrumentalists out of the business than any major label's standard "new band" contract. Having a steady supply of strings at my disposal will ensure that it isn't another two decades until my next gig – especially if you're willing to foot the meager cost ($15-$25) of having a professional put them on and check my ax's intonation every time I wear out another set. Because wasting my precious time on that kind of drudgery is so not rock.


New Metropolis, 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 539-1531

I already have one of these stylish and functional retro-futurist end tables flanking my sofa, but my loved ones swear I need another. And they're probably right. After all, in the words of Spinal Tap's Viv Savage, "I've got two hands here." In Black finish, please, not the attractive but incompatible Honey. And, no, I don't mind waiting for post-holiday delivery.

Cheaper than you'd think

Just open your e-mail

I'd never wanted a Rolex watch until a few weeks ago, when I started coveting one to beat the band. I can't figure out why.

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