Okay, one down and one to go. I m referring, of course, to the holidays, and depending on which ones you celebrate, you may have none left or you may have more. And I was going to try to be more cheery and festive this year, but after witnessing that day-after-Thanksgiving spectacle of people clawing their way through the aisles of Wal-Mart, then turning absolutely white when a couple of friends became very insistent that I actually put a tree and that they were going to get it and leave it on my porch, I m wondering just how in the spirit I can get. The one thing that I do look forward to every holiday season is the arrival of a certain catalog, Archie McPhee: Outfitters of Popular Culture. This is heavenly one-stop shopping and you can do it either through the catalog or at www.mcphee.com. There s just no reason to waste time looking anywhere else. The very first item in the catalog, in fact, is the McPhee Jesus Action Figure, which notes: Everyone has a different take on Jesus. Muslims and Jews saw him as a prophet; Buddhists say he was enlightened; Hindus consider him an avatar; while Christians hail him as the Son of God. But wherever your theological compass points, you will agree that this is the coolest action figure since G.I. Joe. See? Perfect for anyone. Add to cart. In keeping with the spiritual theme, the 2-inch tall Nunzilla is a wind-up sister who trudges forward like a determined disciplinary force, shooting sparks from her mouth. Set of two for $6.95? Add to cart. There s the evergreen gift that s perfect for any occasion: the Smoking Donkey, a 7.5 long by 5 tall plastic donkey with a pack on its back to be used as a cigarette holder. To dispense a cigarette you simply push down the donkey s ears and the cigarette shoots out of its butt. I have purchased many of these and they have always been received with great excitement. At $6.95 each, add 10 to cart and not worry about anything else. Unless you just can t resist the Corporate Whore Briefcase; the Leopard Fez ( you will be the talk of the town and your name will synonymous with haute couture ); the Albino Bowling Action Figure (maybe he and the Jesus Action Figure could form a team); the size 98-to-100 World s Largest Underwear; the Glow-in-the-Dark Lady of Guadalupe; the Don t Mess With Texas Lunchbox (why do I suspect this is very popular around the Bush household?); the Whom Have You Exposed to Syphilis Public Service Snackbox; the Virgin Mary Bamboo Curtains; and so, so much more. These are just a few of the things in the catalog and the website as described by the company as being a stunning visual experience that is the greatest single achievement in the history of mankind is loaded with even more. So forget the Wal-Mart stampede and simply click on mcphee.com and may your holiday shopping be ever brighter. In the meantime, here s a brief look at some of what s going on around town this week. Tonight, there are a couple of art openings. One is a reception for The Arts Bridges Holiday Show and Sale
at 74 Flicker Street, featuring mosaic cafÇ tables, end tables, mirrors, and trivets created by BRIDGES students; the other is at Perry Nicole Fine Art
for an exhibition of works by Adele Sypesteyn. And there s a Pickin Party with Nancy Apple
tonight at Kudzu s; Apple just made the cut in the final top 60 in a major international songwriting competition.