‘X’ marks the spot
for some oddball gifts
You thought we were going to suggest X-rated Xmas gifts, weren't you? Nope, not going to go there, even if you're sending condolence gifts to Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton. But Googling the phrase "X-rated gifts" does bring up some lovely items for the discerning perv.
And, face it, the X in "Xmas" is a little too obvious.
On the other hand, there's the newly released "X2: X-Men United" DVD, loaded with extras with a suggested list price of $29.95. One of the few sequels that surpasses the original and makes one breathless for the third part.
Or you might try "X-Planes," a high-tech flight simulator that works on both Windows and Mac platforms. It allows you to design your own airplane, and the program figures out its flight characteristics from the shape and power requirement. Demo versions are available at www.x-plane.com/demo.html.
"X" is also the Roman numeral for "10," and Apple Macintosh users can stop whining and step up to the X operating system. OS X is not the Mac's future, it is the Mac's now. Stick to the older system, and things will get crankier for you, including online access. Nicknamed "Panther," the current version is 10.3, priced at $129.
They come under a variety of names, but we found this one under "X-World." What they really are are "sea monkeys." No, actually they're brine shrimp. Well, not really. They're a kind of midget cousin to brine shrimp. Whatever. It was the X-World label that got us going.
Basically, it's your instant pet, a tiny world you control completely, bwah-ha-ha! The little desktop aquariums are designed for those with no sense of responsibility. They're totally self-contained, so you never need to feed the shrimp or clean up the algae they feed on. One such aquarium at the office has been soothing writers for a year, and one out of three shrimp is still thriving. Look for them at Pat's Island Delights and other examples at Shirokiya, starting at $20.
We are sorry to report that Harold von Braunhut, the "inventor" of the original sea monkeys (as well as the equally famous "X-Ray Specs") died on Nov. 28 this year. Reminisce by singing Christmas sea monkey songs at www.seamonkeyworship.com/xmassongs.htm.
Our Christmas countdown continues daily, one letter at a time.
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