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2004 Gift Guide
Gifts for the festive film lover
Holiday gifts for the Paris Hilton wannabe
Musical cure-alls for the difficult giftee in your life
Clutterless gifts
My big fat art books guide
Scandalous gifts for the lusty angel in your life
Expert gift recommendations for your favorite workplace prankster
Holiday happenings


Wish List Nation

Taking the guesswork out of the holidays

By Traci Vogel

THE INTERNET was invented for wish lists. Everybody has one. Nonprofits, bloggers, 16-year-old girls with dubious webcam sites—even fictional characters. Montgomery Burns' Amazon.com wish list, for example, expresses The Simpsons' characters' desire for books like the Loompanics revenge classic Gaslighting: How to Drive Your Enemies Crazy by Victor Santoro, the Harlequin Romance Billionaire Date (Finding Mr. Right)—which makes one wonder if there's hope for Smithers after all—and Moliere's The Miser.

People post wish lists to the Internet not simply because they want the stuff, but because they define themselves by the things they desire. If these wish lists survive as web ephemera, they will bear witness to flash-in-the-pan cultural memes. The website Daypop.com tracks the most desired items on current Amazon.com wish lists. These are mostly predictable of-the-moment must-haves—the Star Wars trilogy on DVD, the Jon Stewart book—things that let people know that you, the wish lister, keep your cool quotient up.

Or, alternately, that you're quirkier than the average wish lister. These are the things that are extensions of your personality, and if someone should buy them for you, they're in essence saying, "You're OK. I like you, and I approve of your wish." It's the gifter's chance to be your Fairy Godmother. There are so many wish list-oriented websites trying to cash in on this notion that nearly any gift-giving phrase—thethingsiwant, alliwantforchristmas, wishlist, find gift, smallwishes, alittlebird—has been turned into a URL.

This is handy during the holiday season, when trying to figure out a present for, say, Uncle Roy From Eight States Away turns into a Sisyphean nightmare in which socks and ties roll down from piled-high department store sales tables. But not everyone is up on the wish list culture, and Uncle Roy is often the last to join an Internet craze. So what to get for those people who wish without a list?

Metro's annual Gift Guide aids the listless. In this issue, we gather gifts for the Paris Hilton Wannabe, the Closet Exhibitionist and the Corporate Prankster. There are ideas for several brands of Difficult Music Lovers and Melancholy Film Buffs. We've got Books for Arty Types and presents for People Who Didn't Want Anything in the First Place.

Make the holidays a holiday from guesswork. Adopt a wish list, or make your own—and let Uncle Roy know that on the Internet even beggars can ride.

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the November 17-23, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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