August 31: The Great Muppet Caper glass

Friday, August 31, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:53 PM
Given to Jonny from Edwin.

I've come to an inescapable conclusion that I probably won't make it as either a pole dancer or stripper. Just don't have enough bulk around my sitting bones to make it enjoyable for the viewing public or lucrative enough for me to buy the Vespa I've been longing for.

The times when someone will say, "Hey, to figure out your stripper name, take the name of your first pet and the street you grew up" is spaced out enough so you think it's fresh and funny each time you hear it.  By those rules, my stripper name happens to be "Barney Mapleway".  I feel like I'm disrespecting my dear dog Barney's name each time I play along.  I don't like it.  But I probably don't like it because it sounds more like a children's television show sidekick name than anything else.

Speaking of something the kiddos would like, the gift passed along today is a McDonald's Happy Meal giveaway glass from 1981.

His wife likes the Captain Oscar
Sunshine salute 
-Profession: WWE Live Event Producer

-Favorite window covering: Bamboo drapes that roll up

-A Johnnycake is a type of cornmeal flatbread.  I want you to close your eyes and imagine making it, going through all of the steps.  What temperature are you baking it at?:  Medium-high on a grill.  Man, that was a lot of build-up.

-If you and I were on opposing tag teams in a cage match, who would be my U.S. Presidential partner and who would be yours?:  You'd be the Blonde Brigade with Jimmy Carter.  I'd take Teddy Roosevelt.  He seems like the kinda guy I'd go fishing with after.
-What would Jimmy Carter's most feared move be?:  Well, since I was born during his presidency, I would say the Umbilical Elbow.

-Johnny is also the name for a condom.  Does that mean your member cannot have its own nickname?: Oh no!  It's Oscar Jr.  It was passed down from my father.  My girlfriends and my wife have no choice in the matter.

-You're the 19th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  Oh my God--yeah.  In my last job, they called me Captain Sunshine.

August 30: Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie and $10 Giftcard to Joe's Deli (on Sunday)

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:45 PM
Given to Edwin from Fanny.

An auto mechanic being chauffeured in a limo.  A nurse giving blood.  A counselor taking advice.  You get the idea.  Situations of people doing things they "shouldn't" be doing or at least doing things we wouldn't expect to see them doing.  You'd do a double take, I'm sure, if you saw a physical therapist  slouching on a couch.  Or a dentist eating a chocolate chip cookie.

There's certainly nothing wrong with a dentist munching away on a chocolate chip cookie, but it just seemed scandalous.  After I presented Edwin with his gift today, he must have had the mid-morning hungers when he started munching on his cookie.  Behind my placid expression, I thought, "WHAT?!? NO?!?!  SWEET PRINCE OF PERSIA!  SOMEONE CALL PAULA DEEN!!"  I covertly looked around at the office staff and they seemed perfectly fine with it, too.  The fourth wall had been broken.

Now, I want to send a personal note of reassurance to Edwin: I hope you continue your cookie eating habits and please don't change anything on my behalf.  In fact, for my next appointment, I'll bring the milk and a snicker doodle, k?

The $10 gift certificate says it's only good on Sundays.  Har har, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.  Cue the disappointment music.

Brushed between each bite of his
-Profession: Dentist

-Favorite tooth: Anyone without a cavity

-When you get together with colleagues at professional dental conferences, do any of you broach the subject of magazine subscriptions?:  No, not really.  But there are some that would push the envelope.  We get two copies of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and there have been a few Entertainment Weekly covers with nude covers.

-Do you dread your dental check-up?:  No.  I've never had any dental work done.

-There are health education campaigns to encourage young children to brush and floss.  How might you encourage a senior citizen to floss?:  Tell them it's bourbon-flavored.

August 29: Cabana Rd. Street Sign

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 7:21 AM
Given to Fanny from Shelby.
At the Copa...Copa-cabana Rd.

On my way to meet my mom for dinner last night, traffic on the interstate at times crawled to a snail's pace.  Normally, traffic doesn't bother me...except from time to time and it did again today.  I made an abrupt stop because the car in front of me had put on it's brakes--likely in a chain reaction of stops that finally made it's way back to me.  I peered into my rearview mirror to make sure the person behind  me also stopped with enough room.  Oddly, I noticed the woman behind me jawing and contorting her face like she was portraying anger in some kind of psychological test.  It kinda feels like you had to be there to know exactly what I saw, but the closest thing you could probably picture would be Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest going off on R.P. McMurphy.  I thought she was mad at me for the abrupt stop.

I kept looking back in the mirror and grew increasingly scared for my life based on the woman's mouth contorting in unflattering ways.  It dawned on me after several look-backs that this person was on the phone using the hands-free technology that many drivers enjoy.  I don't know if it was someone calling me or a Jack Johnson song that took my attention away from her for a bit, but when I looked back, it was happy psychological testing time with a smile beaming off the woman's face. 

How can a sweet woman like this
be salty?
-Profession: Server

-Favorite breakfast pastry: Russian tea biscuit

-List the top three items found in your fanny pack: 1) money; 2) passport; 3) airline ticket

-If you look at a salt & pepper shaker, who is the man and who is the woman?:  Salt's the woman and pepper's the man.  I think pepper looks more masculine.

-What percent of people ask for a booth and what percent ask for a table when being sat?:  60% for a booth and 40% for a table.

August 28: Geode and Set of 6 Christmas Wine Charms

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:58 PM
Given to Shelby from Cordy.

We are all subtly influenced by marketing that companies throw at us--to buy the crunchiest chip, the snazziest car, and fastest egg timer, for example.  We'll take the company's dollar off coupons or buy 15 caffeinated beverages to get a free one and slink into mindless consumption.

Every day I check my Yahoo email account to find several emails politely sitting in my spam folder.  I check it just in case I miss an important one.  But usually I get offers for Groupon coupons and dining discounts and penis enlargements or Viagra.  And I've got to hand it to the sly marketing execs (really, it's the clever spammers) who put a subject line as "Make The Ladies Scream With Delight".  Or "Grow Your Penis by 75%".  Much like the Nigerian bank fraud schemes that make their way into my work inbox, the spammers keep sending them because there are the few, the ignorant, the gullible who click on their phony links and get hacked.

One of my wishes when I die is to come back re-incarnated as desk chair, so I can observe the person who sees one of these ads and says to himself, "My girlfriend will be so titillated with my 75% increase.  I'm in!"  I'm actually more fascinated with the people who think some prince in exile trusts them with his 2.5 million rupee fortune and that they just happen to be the one with a bank account he wants to deposit his money into.  I think that's why co-signers were invented or anti-hacking software.

His hunched back is not a distraction
for other poker players
-Profession: Administrator

-Favorite egg: Over-easy

-Do you answer questions, such as "When are you going to meet us at the movies?" with "I 'shall be' there at 7:00?:  No, oh no.  I keep my name out of sentences.

-In your spare time, you play cards.  Can you think of a more personalized mascot that would be fitting for you than a shark?:  I think opossum because I'm a pretty reserved player.  I shy away from the bright light.

-Were you tapping out the letters in Morse code on your mom's belly when she was 8 months pregnant with you on Wheel of Fortune?:  I was helping her out as much as I could.

August 27: Caribou Coffee Mug

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:25 AM
Given to Cordy from Brittany.

No surprise here, I suppose.  Once she was spontaneously asked to participate in the gift exchange yesterday, Brittany found something fast and that quick present was a coffee mug.  Cordy said she needed a coffee mug and bought one last week.  Nothing like a two-for-one special.

What was a surprise was getting a dead battery in my car yesterday when I was leaving work.  I had to get a jump after work and then another two jumps later in the evening--once from Cordy after we met up and a subsequent one from a guy named William (not Bill or Billy or Mac or Buddy) who came via my Roadside Assistance plan.  A car jump feels like a high-five with some meat on it.  I'm not talking a high-five that hurts, but one that has some substance behind it.  A jump is definitely not like a hug; that would be like sharing the emergency heat blanket with someone.  It's not like a kiss either; that's like ditching the blanket 'cause it's getting in the way.  A handpound equivalent is getting an oil change and a handshake is like signing the title.  Nope, someone comes to jump start your car battery and it's like, "Hey man, give me some let's get you on the road again."

-Profession: Paleontologist

-Favorite cruising music: BPM Channel 51 on XM Sirius Satellite Radio

-On your life bucket list, does it include anywhere on it buying, trading, kicking, filling, or dumping a bucket?:  No.  No buckets.  I'm not a fan of buckets.  I just have a list.

-When you're alone--and sometimes with loved ones--you'll sing short ditties.  Say there is a squirrel in your front yard.  What would be a fitting ditty?:  I'd first call him "Squill".  And I'd sing something like "Squilly Squills".  And I would sing it over and over and on the hour.

-In your spare time, you like stamp collecting and paleontology.  What other aristocratic pastime do you want to do?:  Collect small things which I did as a kid.  I had small decks of playing cards and small dice.  I would also find small toads and would catch and release them.

August 26: $10 Target Giftcard

Monday, August 27, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:58 AM
Given to Brittany from Michelle.

Every so often, I get a last-minute cancellation and my intended exchanger today, Bryan, could not make it to meet me at the friendly neighborhood Caribou Coffee.  I waited around the coffeeshop until I heard from him then swirled into deep thought about my next step after his email.  I will admit a certain level of panic when this happens.  I decided to ask the two Caribou employees if one of them would be interested in participating in an exchange.  Brittany happily volunteered.  While she looked for a gift, I came up with her questions below.  Thanks Brittany!

-Profession: Coffee making machine

-Favorite way to see fire: By the fire pit in my backyard

-You love both Disney and fantasy.  Pick a Disney character and place them in a non-Disney fantasy situation: I'd take Ariel from Little Mermaid.  I could see her fighting warlocks and wizards and stuff.  Yeah...I could totally see that.

-Have you ever been the 'Target' of anything in your life?:  I have been the target of unrequited love.  How sad and unfortunate for him.

-When you consume alcohol the conversion to figure out how much alcohol you are consuming is 12 oz. beer = 5 oz. wine = 1.5 oz. hard liquor.  Please do the same for caffeine with soda, coffee, 5-hour energy and meth.:  12 oz. coffee = 32 oz. soda = 1 5-hr. energy = 5 grams meth

August 25: Ultimate Frisbee Disc, Tommy Hilfiger Going Out Purse, and Rite Aid Disposable Camera

Sunday, August 26, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:55 AM
Given to Michelle from Olivia.

Toll booth operator has got to be a rough job, eh?  I was traversing several toll roads this weekend and thought they were a poor lot, not because they're bad people, mind you, but have they a tough job.  First off, they live in a 2 ft. x 2.5. ft. greenhouse.  I think anytime you can comfortably touch each side of your dwelling with your arms partially extended, you've got a problem.  However, the one potential perk would be being able to grow your own tomatoes.

If you wanted to get rich and run off with the money collected, that also would be tough.  When you're collecting $2.75 here and $1.55 there, it would take a really long time to amass some serious coin.  When you did collect enough, you'd need one of those tricked-out Mini Coopers like they use in the Italian Job to haul all that away.  And presuming you have both the change and Mini Cooper, you wouldn't be able to retire on $190.  Then you'd have to come back hat-in-hand asking for your job back.

I know people who've worked check-in jobs before (in larger spaces).  Even it's a little mundane, you can still find time to read a book or a magazine or study if you're a student (I've never seen a college-age student in a toll booth).  But with cars constantly zipping through the lanes, I would think it'd be very hard to follow a narrative for a book or concentrate long enough to get a Cosmo quiz finished.

Was she listening to Sir Mix A Lot
earlier today?
-Profession: PR

-Favorite marinade: Any of the ones at Trader Joe's

-Spell out three other possibilities for what P.R. could stand for:
1) pretty rotund
2) perfect recipe
3) protruding rear

-When's the last time someone's called you "four eyes"?:  Never
-Can someone be called "four eyes" if they wear contacts?: No
-If someone who used to wear glasses got Lasik surgery, would they still suffer from the same stereotype?:  Yes, I would say so.

-Are you impressed with the sound of your own loud crunch of a potato chip?:  I would say yes...especially when I'm eating a Fox & Obel.

August 24: Bottle of Jaegermeister and Stone Earrings and Necklace

Friday, August 24, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 9:14 PM
Given to Olivia from Toni.

From time to time, I'll partake in a Panera Bread sandwich and coffee.  About a year ago, they instituted a rewards card program where you swipe your card when you order and the more you order, the more savings you get.  For example, you may get a free pastry or free coffee or a sandwich for only $3.00.  But after a year, I'm tired.  I'm tired of stuffing my gullet with bagels in order to get a free panini.  If I see another cinnamon bun, my pancreas is going to start looking for his successor.  And I want something new!

I stopped into my local Panera chain this morning, robotically giving them my card to swipe, then getting a couple of bagels.  I posed the question to the unassuming manager if I could possibly expand the normal rewards of food and see if I could get some personalized perks.  For example, use of their lightning-quick toaster ovens for a day or bringing my bagels in for a year if I'd like them sliced by one of the high school help.  I currently don't own a mop bucket, so maybe having someone stop over my place when they're finishing up their chores to give my kitchen floor a once-over would be great.  I can use that!  Someone cutting my lemon into little wedges so I can poshly squeeze one in my filtered water when I'm settling in for an episode of Battlestar Galatica would be great.

The party's got to have eggs,
cheese, and...
-Profession: General Electric Engineer

-Favorite beverage to bring to a party: Welch's Grape Soda

-Olivia is a Finnish women's magazine.  What do you think they poll about?:  The percent of people who travel outside the country.
-What advice do they frequently offer?:  What to wear during the summer in Scandinavia.
[The magazine focuses on career, family, home and fashion.]

-Olivia Tremor Control is an American indie rock band.  Who/what has tremors?:  People that are detoxing.
-What would they sing about to control the tremors?:  Alcohol?

-You love playing ultimate frisbee.  Could you stereotype your ugly cousins, frisbee golf players?:  They wear shoulder bags with all their frisbees that looks like purses--they're purse carriers.  They're too cool for real golf, but too lame for ultimate.

August 23: "Legend" DVD and Jack Link's Beef Jerky

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:06 AM
Given to Toni from Matt.
If your date stands you up, there's always this
Clap your hands together, children, there's a story with today's gifts.  Matt was traveling to Australia a few years ago and, as he was going through airport security, a TSA employee asked him if he had any beef jerky in his luggage.  Believing it to be some kind of security risk, Matt replied that he didn't have any.  He asked the TSA employee why.  Evidently, TSA Paul Hogan said that most Americans travel with beef jerky and assumed Matt had some in his luggage.  His attention now aware, Matt noticed that his friends domestically would seemingly have beef jerky on every road trip, in their glove compartment, etc.  He told me he wanted to pass along something American and, err, I guess he succeeded.

Second is the 1985 Tom Cruise masterpiece Legend where he must prevent the Lord of Darkness from destroying daylight while simultaneously marrying the woman he loves. Matt wanted to pass along a quality flick and I think his inclination for a more fresh-faced Cruise rather than the Eyes Wide Shut version is something I'm sure Toni (and 97% of the known universe) appreciates.

Has had 58 knee replacements
-Profession: Certified Real Estate Appraiser

-Favorite part of a house inspection: Meeting the people who own the house

-T.O.N.I. is an acronym for the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence.  Name two non-verbal communications your husband does that shows he's intelligent:
1) one of those agreeing looks when he shakes his head...urging me to get on with it
2) he's a theater director and he squeezes my knee really hard when the show's not going well

-Is there anything you can act out that would win you a Tony?:  I don't act.  But people will tell me anything.  People will open up when I talk with them.

-What would 'fantasy estate' be?:  Mystical and mythical.  If you wanted something--anything--it would appear.  There would be the sounds of kids playing all the time.  I love that sound.

August 22: Bobblehead Dog and Cat Ears

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:59 AM
Given to Matt from Rachel.
When you see these, what do you hear first in your head--
a cat 'mrrow' or dog' woof'?
As I mentioned yesterday, Rachel wanted to regift some remnants from her family's white elephant gift exchange--this bobblehead dog and pair of cat ears.  A bit surprisingly, I got two diverse reactions from Matt: his workplace name has a dog in it, so he thought the dog doll could fit nicely there, but when I told him I needed to get a photo taken of the items to post in the blog, he said, "I am not wearing them when you photograph me" before I even ripped the velcro strap open.

It must be my week for inciting polar opposite reactions.  At work, the janitors placed urinal pads in the men's urinals and these green wavy air fresheners in the bathrooms in the building I work in.  I'm not a big fan of smells in general, so I was at first turned off by them.  But after my third or fourth trip to the bathroom, I began to wonder if the smell was more pina colada or fruit punch.  I started asking people using the bathrooms what they thought and I got reactions from "wtf?" to "if it was more pina colada, it would probably be more yellow in color than green" to "if bars were smart and these were pina colada, they would put these air fresheners around the bar, which would encourage people to drink more pina coladas".  In my opinion, it probably follows the typical Dum-Dum sucker flavors, meaning a less-than-accurate-color to go with the corresponding flavor.

Questioned faith after parents painted
living room in beige
-Profession: Business Development

-Favorite classic novel: Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse

-One of your previous jobs was painting houses.  If you can't remember one, please make up a New-Agey sounding paint color:  Jesus Rockstar Peach Camomile.
-How about the most non-descript paint color you can imagine: Beige.  I never got anything out of beige.

-In your company bio, you list "sleeping" as a hobby.  Would being in a relationship with an insomniac dissolve over time?:  It depends.  If they are a fundamental insomniac, no problem.  But, if they are a needy insomniac and would need me to spend time with them when they're not sleeping, that could cause a potential rift.

-In what ways are you other peoples' door-matt?:  I'm definitely a people pleaser.  There's a definite customer service quality to my character, most specifically with my family.

August 21: Starting Lineup Drew Bledsoe and Eric Lindros figurines and Bottle of Kasteel Rouge Beer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:18 AM
Given to Rachel from Michael.

I stumbled upon an individual who does a yearly white elephant gift exchange with her family, and in fact, her gifts for tomorrow's recipient were the leftovers from this past year's exchange.  But it was not always a long-standing tradition in her family.  Before the incorporation of the white elephant exchange, her family just gave each other dumpy presents.  Then it was someone's brainy idea to say, "Hey, I'm tired of getting crap from Aunt Joan.  If we call it a white elephant gift party, the gifts won't suck as much."  And really, folks, that's just the way it happened.  Bravo!

Could you imagine if you applied that thinking to other situations?
-"Dad, I think your lasagna tastes bad." [Dad sighs]
-"Well Porter, it's actually Lean Cuisine lasanga."
-"Oh, tastes all right."

-"Rick, how loonnng is it going to take us to get to Seattle?  I hate riding in the car"
-"I don't know, honey, another 27 hours or so." [woman sighs]
-"Drop me off somewhere, anywhere...I don't care."
-"Honey, aren't you looking forward to your shoe shopping trip that we planned on in the city?"
-"This car ride is fun!  Yey!

-Profession: Economic Development Analyst

-Favorite utensil: Spatula

-You once competed in a competitive dill pickle eating contest.  Did the voice of the Vlasic pelican urge you to continue on?:  It didn't.  I think of dill pickles as deli foods rather than grocery store food.  That probably would have helped me as I presume it helped the winner.  [Rachel ate 15 pickles in 5 minutes]

-You like Cleveland because you like an underdog.  Complete this sentence: When Cleveland has _____, it will no longer be an underdog.:  My token answer is 'sports championship', but my non-token answer is 'water taxi'.

-Two part question that centers around your having a motorcycle license.
-A) What famous person--dead or alive--would you like have wrapping their arms around you as you motor down the highway?:  James Dean because I want someone who knows how to ride one because of the weight balance.
B) What famous person--dead or alive--would you like have riding in the side car?:  Vampire-slaying Abe Lincoln.  I think it would be entertaining because of his height.

August 20: Renaissance Fair Flower Bouquet in Pair of Booties

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 7:59 AM
Given to Michael from Amy.

This gift needs a little explanation.  Upon meeting Amy, I told her of my gift exchange to which she happily agreed to participate.  She then set about the entire afternoon trying to find the perfect gift.  I may have inadvertently tipped the scales to a more naturalistic gift when I offered to buy each member of our group a temporary tattoo (of a cauldron, for instance).  I asked a few of the shops if they had temporary tattoos, but they said all the gifts had to be "period relevant", and thus, the only tattoos we could get were the ones an artist had to drawn on a person with washable ink.

Upon hearing this, Amy went about collecting flowers and branches to make a nice Renaissance bouquet for Michael.  Her arrangement was nearly complete and then a small offshoot group of us went to get a complimentary hand scrub (delightful).  In was in the hand scrub woman's tent that Amy told her of the gift project she was undertaking, and the woman gave her a pair of decorative booties that presumably should fit Michael.

I did manage to find several books of temporary tattoos at the book store and we all affixed ourselves with either a Norse or magically-themed tattoo.

-Profession: Test Accommodations Manager

-Favorite psychological test: Weschler Test

-Given your love and possession of many toys, along with your now jaded view of politics, please pair the current President and Vice Presidential candidates with what you think their toy representative should be:
-Obama--basketball (athletic)
-Biden--toy train (reserved, but outgoing)

-Romney--Game of RISK (competitive)
-Ryan--set of cups and game of table tennis (adult frat boy)

-You enjoy Japanese comic books.  Is there any onomonopia that exists in those books, but just wouldn't fly in a U.S. edition?:  Yes, you would never hear someone here give a primordial scream, such as RAWR!  No one vocalizes how they feel.  And no one would ever make the sound 'Yiiii' in the U.S.

-You have a company that brings film shorts from around the country to local screens.  If someone made a 10-minute short about your shopping for a new pair of shoes, what would the focus be?:  It would be about searching for specific footwear.  I don't really care about the shoe--I care about the memory of having the shoe I liked at one point.  I'm on a journey to find this pair of shoes again because I met someone important in these shoes.

August 19: University of Chicago Leatherbound Notebook

Monday, August 20, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:11 AM
Given to Amy from Mary Beth.

My friends invited me out to a Renaissance Fair today and I think I'm going to need some sort of transition-back-to-reality program to return to regular functioning in society.  For all those of you who haven't had the pleasure, there are a TON of shops with period-themed items--clothing, jewelry, statuary, etc--and a TON of places to eat a lot of meat (you had to be there, but the girl who was with us today accentuated her words extremely well in general, including my favorite "barbecued beef sandwich"; the words just shot off her tongue like little catapulted spears).  Then they have programs that can ooh and aah the crowds--from fire whipping to jousting.  The performers and patrons dress up in period clothing to make it the 16th century version of a Star Trek convention.

With all these period clothes (for the women), there were a lot of boobsicles showing.  I finally understand why men were so insistent on women wearing corsets at the time.  Most of the guys there looked like Neanderthals in their kilts with swords at their sides with more flesh that we'd all care to see, as well as some interesting smells to go around for all.  I think my favorite snapshot of the whole day was one of the women in said corset gnashing on a giant leg of meat.  Nothing says nookie time like tearing off the boiled meat of an animal with your bared teeth.

How Amy fits into this whole deal is she is a friend of a friend of a friend, who I just met today while we strolled around the grounds.  She was a delight to me and I hope a delight to you.

"And can you also feel my eggplant,
good sir?"
-Profession: Landscape Architect

-Favorite water sport: Swimming

-You've spent a lot of time creating and developing community gardens.  Is the experience people have with their fruits and vegetables at the supermarket more sensual than what they have in their garden?:  Not at all.  People love their veggies growing in a way they never imagine.  They're connected.

-Here we are at a Renaissance Fair.  Tell me a good pick-up line from the period: Good Sir, may I have a moment of your time?

-Yesterday you purchased a lawnmower.  How many square feet did you expect to mow with it per use?: Probably 150 x 100 sq. ft.

August 18: The Classic Cookbook, Cinco de Mayo stuffed Monkey, and a Deck of Travel Tips Cards

Saturday, August 18, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:09 PM
Given to Mary Beth from Jenny.

Jenny brought a power-packed trio of gifts for Mary Beth: a cookbook she was willing to part with from her collection; a stuffed monkey she got from Chicago's Cinco de Mayo festival two years ago, which had been residing on her dryer; and a deck of travel tips cards, which jumped out as Jeopardy categories to me when I was thumbing through them.

Here are some sample question responses based on the categories above:

Road Tripping: What is an illegal activity college students do on spring break in Mexico?
Pack Rat: Who is Martin, Dean?
Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: Where the hell is Burt Wolf?
The Waiting Game: What is the runs without Immodium?
Women with Wanderlust: What is an easy score?
What Watt?: Who is James, the inventor of the steam engine?

Burt Wolf should not sleep with my
Cinco de Mayo monkey
Mary Beth
-Profession: Programs and Public Relations

-Favorite perennial: Iris

-You have a zucchini.
% you steam it: 10
% you fry it: 30
% you grill it: 50
% you eat it raw: 5
% you bake with it: 5

-When there's no one in sight, how do you think businesses tow non-patrons from their parking lot?  What if they are taking a long time shopping in their store?:  I think they all have someone who comes out.  You could probably put a little pressure on them if you get one, but if you're a no name, there's no chance you'll get out of it.

-What's the acceptable age limit to sleep with stuffed animals?:  No age.  If it feels good, do it!  But it would be a little weird if a guy was doing it.

August 17: Umbrella, Keychain Rubik's Cube, and Pack of AA batteries

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:53 AM
Given to Jenny from Andy.

I love saving the day!  In the course of doing this gift exchange, I have been the intermediary that has passed on critically-needed gifts (i.e. a fishing rod and reel, garden water nozzle, etc).  Superman Santa struck again today!  Guess who needed an umbrella?  Jenny!  Guess who gave an umbrella?  Andy!  Jenny had one umbrella, but it is in need of repair and she was actually looking to buy one.  That gave the situation a turbo-boost of excitement when I presented her gift one.

Gift two was a pack of double A batteries that Andy told me like five times to tell the recipient were "dusty, but they work great, so don't worry".  The last gift is a keychain Rubik's cube, which he also advised me to say he solved on his own and, that if the recipient knew what was good for them, they would leave it well enough alone if they wanted order.

-Profession: Unemployed

-Favorite tire: The last one on my Dodge Neon

-What fringe unemployment benefit should be offered to those seeking work?:  A free meal at the person's favorite restaurant

-In your previous positions, you traveled a lot.  Please answer 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' on whether the following items could be purchased on a business trip:
-Skymall item--acceptable
-oil change--acceptable (if needed only)

-You are three weeks into your brand spanking new marriage and wrote your own wedding vows for your ceremony.  If you used traditional wedding vows, please elaborate on the following:

-for rich or for poorer: what is the financial ceiling and basement your spouse has to make?  rich-$200K/year; poor-$35K/year

-in sickness and in health: what ailment(s) would you most want him not to get? nothing more than a sore throat; for his good health, what should his resting heart rate be?  80

-in good times and bad: what are you good times?  being healthy and together; bad times? being apart

August 16: Sombrero, "Six Feet Under" Season 1 on DVD, $15 giftcard to Tommy's restaurant

Friday, August 17, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:49 AM
Given to Andy from Nicole.

It's amazing what can happen in 24 hours.  I was leaving my gift exchange with Nicole yesterday and was pressed to fill the void that was left today as someone had an emergency come up and had to cancel their exchange.  Stepping out of Starbucks with sombrero and other gifts in hand, I immediately saw someone I knew--that someone was Andy.  I hadn't talked to him in a while, but caught up with him and his lady friend Rosie and found out he was moving out of town within a week!  Happy trails, team Andy!

Acting fast, I asked him what he was doing today (he replied he had no plans prior to 4:00 p.m.--the big winnings at bingo don't start until 5:00 p.m. anyway) and asked him if he wanted to swap gifts.  No problem, said he with a shrug.  I believe he committed because he knew he was getting at least one sombrero (I wouldn't tell him the other two gifts).  Heck, I'd do just about anything if I was getting a sombrero.

-Profession: Healthcare Software Consultant

-Favorite Disney Princess: Ariel

-Think of a mountain range.  Now think of a second.  Now think of a third.  Which one are you thinking of?:  The Alps?  [Sorry, we were looking for The Andes.]

-Andie MacDowell (my boyhood crush that still continues) starred in Groundhog Day.  Which of the following was a true statement that revolved around the film?:
[A] Bill Murray became addicted to painkillers while treating plantar fasciitis
[B] A family of groundhogs was raised for the film
[C] Andie and Chris Eliot got engaged for five months after the filming was complete
[D] The residents of Punxatawny boycotted the film

I think it's [D] because they felt the movie misrepresented the town...and Phil.  [Sorry, it was actually 'B']

-What kind of person is a sombrero looking to sit atop?:  Anyone who's looking for fun or working in the sun.  A mustache helps, but it's not necessary, though.

August 15: "Mother Knows Best" Mug

Thursday, August 16, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:07 AM
Given to Nicole from Paul.

There is a litany of TV, film or radio programs over the last 80 years of certain people knowing best: Father, Mother, Brother, Hogan, Blondie, Joan (with a question mark), Godfather, Randy, Mary, Nanny, Brooke (Hogan's daughter) and Noah.  Who the hell do you turn to?  Upon reviewing the choices, I'd say it's gotta be Hogan, as in former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

If you're unaware of his credentials, please review the highlights:

  • Had roles on Walker, Texas Ranger, Muppets from Space, and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, among others
  • Readily admitted to anabolic steroid use
  • Has a trademark on
  • Announced he was a candidate for U.S. President (no joke) in 1999 on The Tonight Show
  • Body-slammed 520-pound French wrestler, Andre the Giant
  • Daughter had own TV show (Brooke Knows Best)
  • Won 2 consecutive Royal Rumbles

Certainly with that resume, you can easily see why taking advice from this man makes a lot of sense.

-Profession: Library Supervisor

-Favorite branch of science: Botany

-Since you work in a music library, what news would be music to your ears?:  Universal health care, universal student loan forgiveness, and someone to offer me my own private greenhouse.

-Here's a 'chicken or the egg' problem:  Which came first in a music library--the shelves or the music?:  The music.  In order for a place to house it, the music has to exist.

-You love plants, even weeds?:  No, I tear them out of the ground.  But I think carrion flowers are cool.  It blooms once a year and emits a smell similar to rotting flesh that attracts the right insect.

August 14: Decorative Glass Candle Holder

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:38 PM
Given to Paul from Chip.

I went shopping for a new pair of tan pants this evening and I stereotypically went to the Gap.  I hadn't been to the mall for at least a year and a half when I was at the Gap the last time, also shopping for (gray) pants.  It appears that I'm caught in some sort of Gap pant vortex that keeps me connected to shopping malls against my will.  If you're wondering where I get my clothes from--because I do buy new clothes--I will tell you: I get the Maxx for the Minnimum at TJMAXX (it's one more 'x' from becoming a strip club) or their sister store, Marshalls.  On a continuum, here's where I would rank my clothes shopping, from least enjoyable to most enjoyable:

--> strip malls --> shopping malls --> --> Goodwill/Resale shop --> the Maxx/Marshalls

Shopping malls are such depressing places, methinks.  Teenage girls trying too hard, inflated prices that make sales irrelevant, every passerby harangued by fresh college grads at their cell phone kiosks, predictable Hot Topic clothing items, midget trains ferrying kids in a predictable oval, littered candy boxes, make-up counter employees looking bored, the Structure-turned-Express for Men-turned-Hallmark store, and the tired polished granite floor squares that have seen their fair share of Doc Martens soles.  Ah, it's too much.  If you're wondering why I didn't just go to my favorite chains for some pants, well, they didn't have any that looked nice.

-Profession: Special Events/Sales

-Favorite key: The one to my heart

-Paul of Aegina was a Greek surgeon (625-690).  What do you think was his most difficult procedure?:  He had to grow hair on Telly Savalas' head.   It was tragic.

-Saul converted to Christianity and changed his named to Paul (the apostle).  If you, Paul, changed to the DISH network, what would your new name be?:  Gaul.  The Time Warner people would be hurt.   It would take a lot of gall to switch.

 Paul of Aegina grafted all of his hair
onto his chest
-You produce murder mysteries.  What do you think are the top 3 ways to die in one?: 
-1) Have Paul of Aegina work on your hair
-2) Take a monologue of Jerry Seinfeld's and do it front of an audience
-3) Eating the food at wherever the dinner theater is being performed

August 13: Old IBM Laptop, "Family Guy" Stewie T-shirt, Cleveland Browns Yearbook (signed by Brady Quinn), and Tote Bag

Monday, August 13, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:37 PM
Given to Chip from Justin.

As Justin and I left the smoothie shop on Sunday evening, he said, "I hope there's at least one winner [of a gift] for the person getting these tomorrow."  And I wasn't sure which one tickled my white elephant bone, so it was fun to see if and which one Chip gravitated toward.

As a graphic designer, he thought the Cleveland Browns book, signed by former Browns and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn when the team returned as a franchise in 1999, was really well done.  Give the book to anyone else and I'm the sure the reaction would be five degrees colder than lukewarm.  The IBM Laptop actually worked and Justin thought he had "stripped it clean" before giving it up; Chip said his friends would get a kick out of him even being photographed with one since he is a Mac user.  The Family Guy t-shirt was chuckle-worthy for 67% of the Earth population with the words, "Kill Broccoli" written above Stewie's head.  We end on a high note with a tote bag and, honestly, who doesn't love a tote bag to store their essentials in?

 He's erased seasons 10 and 11 of
American Idol from his mind
-Profession: Graphic Designer

-Favorite tree: Lilac

-What do you think the relationship is between Jenny from the Block and Chip off the old block?:  They're both about reminding themselves about where they're from.  Although, I'm kinda mad at J-Lo right now with the split from Marc Anthony.

-Please match the chip to its corresponding dip:
Chips: Potato, Corn, Tortilla
Dips:  Pico de Gallo, Salsa, Guacamole

Potato-Guacamole; Corn-Salsa; Tortilla-Pico de Gallo

-Do you feel a greater responsibility to give more money when you and your friends are chipping in to buy a pizza?:  Yes

August 12: Afghan quilt

Sunday, August 12, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:24 PM
Given to Justin from Carrie.
He says this will keep him warm when he shaves his beard
Justin's a math teacher, but you don't need to know your way around fancy figures to realize that a 3-to-1 afghan to person ratio is too much afghan and not enough cool.  It was an easy decision for Carrie to give up this afghan--one that was won by her daughter at a reverse raffle recently and temporarily bumped the ratio up to 3.2 afghans per person in Carrie's house.  They're now back in the critical, but not emergency, zone of 3 to 1.

You won't find many math teachers who write poetry and who minored in it in college, which is exactly what he did.  He wrote a poem a day for five years and will take the math we all loved in high school and rap about, like he does here.  I'm sure his students 'like the way he works it', 'so to all you other kids across the land, take it from me, parents just don't understand' that a guy like Justin makes it fun in the classroom.

What is 4 quilts divided by 2 quilts?
-Profession: Teacher/Poet

-Favorite sweetener: Honey

-Given you mad skills as a poet, write one about either the Pythagorean Theorem or exponential numbers: do I figure out the area of circle?

She planted a seed and counted
the days, but she was only
in Kindergarten, so it went
something like 1, 2, 4, 8, 16-
all exponential without knowing.
April came and there it was,
a sunflower taller than her,
sunshine in a garden,
hope in a little girls smile,
and the numbers working perfectly
as they should.

-You enjoy doing interesting things with your facial hair.  Have you done anything creative with your back hair?:  Not at all.  I don't have too much of it.  If I did, I would probably do a peace sign.

-Each day at school, you wear a different tie.  Was there one that was justin credible?:  A toilet paper one made by a student.  It was a one-time use and not with extra absorbent sheets.  I also like the one a student made with an exacto-knife using pop cans.

-You're the 18th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  Absolutely.  Last Christmas, I had a three month beard and spray painted it white.

August 11: Organic African Nectar Tea & Set of 6 Tea Cups

Saturday, August 11, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:19 PM
Given to Carrie from Beth.
The teapot's steamed because she's not in the photo
For most any NFL team, yesterday was the start of pre-season American football.  It's a little early, but you'll sometimes hear commentators talk about how the game "slows down" for a player and he's able to make more accurate throws or read the line of scrimmage better than the other players on the field because he understands what's going on.  In a similar vein, the day has slowed down for me today.  Things are moving at a snail's pace in my brain today.  Am I a professional football player?  Nope, just an average Joe with a bad cold.

There are quite a few perks to being under the weather.  First off, I could care less about anything but sleep.  That's all I've been thinking about.  Normally, I'm wondering where my next meal is coming from.  Now, it's bedtime and every time my back hits the cushy mattress, it's sweet surrender time.  Joke punch lines have a lag time of at least 6 seconds, so by the time everyone is done laughing at the joke, I'm just getting it and prolonging the laughter like they do in Austin Powers or the new Casa de mi Padre film, even when the joke isn't that funny.  Also, my cell phone bill usually has some surcharges during this time because I'm calling every girl in my contact list, leaving seductive messages because I sound like Barry White's white cousin.  I've known girls to keep those messages for months after I leave them.  If I wasn't contagious, those messages would keep my place chocked full o' ladies.

#2 pencils can cheer up a piece of paper
-Profession: Joyfully Retired Teacher

-Favorite writing instrument: #2 pencil--it hugs the paper and sets right in there

-Carrie is a type of mango and carrie trees are vigorous growers.  When was your greatest growth spurt?:  When I married my husband.  I grew a lot as a person because he shared so much with me.

-Cary Grant's real name is what?:
[A] Sir Ruffington Lexus
[B] London Cochran
[C] Archibald Alexander Leach
[D] Alfred Sinclair Smith

[C]  He's my favorite actor.  I like to settle in with some popcorn any time one of his movies is on.

-What your favorite part about adding, for example, 19 and 12 together or subtracting 19 from 32?:  Borrowing?  Regrouping?  Is this a new math or old math question?  Ah!  Carrying the 1!

August 10: Promotional Ballcap

Friday, August 10, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:46 PM
Given to Beth from Deidre.

Today's the last day in the "Do's & Don'ts" series, featuring tips on things couples should consider when in a relationship.  I'll bullet these for clarity and emphasis.

1) Avoid riding in zeppelins.  I hear exploding helium is not in vogue these days and I would hate for your relationship to go up in flames.  Ha ha ha.  [Serious face]

2) I'm not a big advocate of picking a song that couples can share.  Most of the time it's "A Lifetime's Not Too Long To Live As Friends" or some bullshit like that.  Play that at the divorce hearing, I say.  No, but really, if you must pick one, okay--fine.  But don't pick "I Love You Like A Love Song".  That just doesn't compute in my cranium.  Or you're just plain lazy.  Could Shakespeare have inspired future generations with "Shall I compare thee to one of my previous sonnets?"

3) I don't have first-hand experience with this one, but don't let your mate pick your nose and vice versa.  I ran into this cat at a Bay Area sporting goods shop who said she and her boy-toy do that.  Seriously?  Find a good book.  Go and paint your own clay pot for an afternoon.  Polish up any brass around the house.

4) Make sure your partner is getting enough fiber.

-Profession: Physical Therapist

-Favorite book-to-film adaptation: The Help

-If a person tells a white lie, are their pants still on fire?:  Yes, absolutely.  I'd advise them to stop, drop, and roll.

-When you were in France, did you find any food that was your 'piece de resistance' and did you call it that?:  No, I didn't call it that, but we all wanted different cheeses and wine.

-Recently, McDonald's revealed the ingredients in their special sauce.  Within 5%, how American homes will try to make the sauce, in your opinion?:  45%

August 9: Maloney & Novotny Hot & Cold Drinking Glasses

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:14 AM
Given to Deidre from Mario.

Today is day four of "Do's & Don'ts" and today we're focusing on GIRL-DON'Ts.  Tomorrow's the last day in the series, featuring things couples should pay special attention to.
Before sailing to the Bahamas, don't forget your
corporate logo-ed cups
GIRL-DON'Ts: I'd say guys collectively refer to girls who wear perfume/scented lotion as girl smell.  I've talked about it before.  But don't wear too much.  If all we smell is black raspberry, we'll think you're one and you may lose your ear by the end of the night.

It would be a grave, grave error to wear anything our mom would wear.  And it would keep a counselor busy.

Lastly, if you still buy glass ketchup bottles, please don't use a butter knife to get the remaining ketchup out.  It's a turn-off, man.

Obama-Romney Debate =
$15,000 chest of drawers surprise
-Profession: Small Business Collective Marketing Manager

-Favorite Jell-O: The red one--cherry

-As an expert marketer, can you tell me who this blog is brought to you by (much like in the vein of Sesame Street; i.e. the letter R)?:  The color orange.

-In your spare time, you enjoy playing tennis.  Do you think if people made requests like they do announcing the tennis score (i.e. 40, love), would more things get done?:  Absolutely!  Everyone would smile much more every day.  Though, it might be a little weird though if my boss would ask me, "Could you write a proposal on this, love?"

-There are about 90 days until the U.S. Presidential election.
-What would you like to do more than watch election coverage?:  Ride my bike
-What would you like to do less than watch election coverage?:  Clean my toilet
-What activity feels a lot like watching election coverage?:  Watching Antiques Roadshow