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Gifts for a festival of sarcasm

For as long as we’ve been married, my wife and I have been celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah. I have no idea why. We’re not big subscribers to organized religion and haven’t visited a temple in years. For all we’ve invested in one ritual or another, we could just as well celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Nunchaku Day or whatever else brings people together these days. I suppose it’s the fundamentally theatrical nature of Hanukkah that attracts us, what with the Maccabees and the sword fighting and the oil lasting and the whatnot. From a drama perspective, it’s simply a superior holiday.

Hanukkah, in my experience, tends to be somewhat less gift-oriented than America’s dominant winter holiday, Christmas. Yes, there are the traditional exchanges on each night of the festival, but it hasn’t been engendered with the same stark-raving obsession with materialism that our consumer culture has attached to Christmas. Nevertheless, in the spirit of giving, I’d like to suggest a festival’s worth of gift ideas for those of you who need them.

No. 8: For the Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Hey, did you know that Tampa has its own Major League Baseball team? Sure you did – in the same way you “sort of” knew about the hole in the ozone layer; you don’t hear that much about it anymore, and when you do, the news is never good. Anyway, I’ll give the entire team a choice between an NBA-style draft pick of any other MLB player – A-Rod, Albert Pujols, whoever – or a massive, team-wide dose of potassium cyanide. I don’t care either way – I’ve got gift certificates for both.

No. 7: For Ann Coulter: A big, juicy hamburger – if for no other reason than to show her that there is more sustenance in this world than just cocaine, cigarettes and the souls of the unborn. She can even call me a treasonous, slandering, freedom-hating, evil-doing liberal between bites – I don’t care. Just eat something, Skeletor.

No. 6: Fair trade No. 1: Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, both of whom received dubious trials and are considered by Amnesty International USA to be political prisoners, walk. In exchange, both O.J. Simpson and Ken Lay do, like, five billion hours of community service for victims of domestic abuse and financial fraud, respectively.

No. 5: Fair trade No. 2: Acquiescing to years of fevered endorsements, I will sit down and read all 4,000 pages or so of the ridiculously overrated Harry Potter series. In return, a certain number of you freaky anemics will be required to read a selection of actual literature. I haven’t decided on the final list yet, but rest assured, there will be no “Hogwarts,” “Hufflepuffs” or any other higher institutions of dorkmongering involved.

No. 4: A “Make ’em Gay” gun. Okay, it’s a fictitious device – one that theoretically trades anyone to “team pink,” as it were – but come on, some people are just begging for it. If one of these appears under my Hanukkah shrub, I will personally drive to Valrico and zap Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms myself. Locally, no other public official makes such a show of homophobic vitriol and contempt, occasionally edging into “doth protest too much” territory. Nationally, although the field is rife with targets, I’d go for Kansas gay-bashing nutjob “Reverend” Fred Phelps, just to see if he’d follow through with his oft-quoted advice to homosexuals to “get a rusty piece of Kansas barbed wire and castrate yourself.”

No. 3: A “Make ’em Brown” gun. Similar in principle to the above, only this device transforms its target into either an Arab or Hispanic person. This weapon replaces the long-seated champion the “Make ’em Black” gun, as mosque burning has replaced cross burning as “Most Popular Hate Activity,” and Hispanics have become the new favored scapegoat among the weird “border patrol” vigilante crowd. Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft seems a likely candidate to play “Indefinitely Detained Arab-American Muslim” for a day (or a month – or three, and I think it would do U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas), a world of good to put in a few 16-hour days laying brick, picking fruit, cleaning hotels or any of the three-dozen other things we depend on immigrants to do for crap wages.

No. 2: Clearly posted directions to the local Marine recruiter’s office. Apparently, a lot of young people on this campus can’t seem to find it. Daily, I see a yearning to do your part so clearly displayed in your gallant bumper stickers – but students’ doughy cheeks and flip-flop-adorned feet belie this desire. You support the troops, I know; but trust me: The magnetic car-ribbons and lapel pins aren’t cutting it. Our armed services can achieve quite a bit more with actual enlistees than with positive feelings, so get to it, tough guy.And finally,

No. 1: A magical, gnome-like aura of protection and goodwill to shield Bill Gates. He’s guilty of every antitrust violation we have a law for, and his Windows operating system is a complete piece of crap, but the man donates a reported 58 percent of his enormous wealth to charity – so all you Apple snobs can go help yourself to a piping hot cup of shut-the-&^%$-up.Oh, and, uh, God bless us, every one.

Ryan McGeeney is a senior majoring in political science.