Joyeux Noir

Ah, it’s that time of year again… when I wonder whether I should just throw in the shopping towel, wander up Telegraph Avenue here in Berkeley, and settle for buying a random three dozen tie-dyed shirts for those on my gift list and call it a day.

If you, like me, have waited far too long to get your consumerial butt in gear, and/or if you have a darkly snarky sense of the holiday spirit (and/or/or are buying for those who do), I have the following suggestions to offer. 

Granted, not all of these are gettable in time for Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and that other holiday with the tree and everything, but you can either consider them New Year’s gifts or get a head-start on next year, mmmkay? (click on prices for ordering info links)

To begin with, my top choice for a holiday gift myself, in case you’re feeling generous:


Yes, from–the people who brought you the custom pink “Hello Kitty” AK-47–it’s the “Motha T,” a Mother-Theresa-themed rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. The item bears a genuine photographic portrait of the lady herself, and a relevant quotation from her body of work:

“Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.

Amen to that… for just $3670.95

For the bowler in your life, here’s a great way to let them say, “Die, you moth#%$^&@ing last pin in the spare, DIE!”


Yes, a clear Lucite bowling ball with a skull inside. Doesn’t that just scream “holiday cheer”? I thought so.

Cranium tribal skull bowling ball, a mere $129.99

Continuing with the skull theme, here’s another one I’d really like to find in my own shopping, since I have decided my New Year’s resolution is to become a Somali pirate and take over a tanker filled with ice cold Veuve Clicquot–Yo heau heau!:

Three-by-five foot pirate flag, suitable for flying from the yardarm of my imaginary boat, La Pol Roger Jolie  $11.95 (CHEAP!)

For the person who does NOT believe it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, thank you very much:


Nihilist mints. These are the Omar-from-The Wire– Bad-asses of the mint world, and they have no flavor, because we nihilists don’t need no steeking flavor, you feel me?

Set of two sleek, black boxes of angst-ridden candy, a mere $4.95

And if you feel like you’re being a little skimpy, only throwing unflavored mints in somebody’s stocking, add a box of these:


Gummy maggots. What’s not to like?  If you get bored you can always pretend you’re eating palm grubs, like the Tasaday. Set of two $4.95

For the serious crime writer in your life, I offer this ineffable desktop reference companion:

Practical Homicide Investigation

I’ve found it an invaluable writing resource, and reading it’s also a great way to get a whole row of seats to yourself on just about any subway car in the world, especially if you have a companion copy of Practical Sexual Homicide Investigation resting in your lap to boot.

Lots of pictures in both. Not for the faint of heart… $99.95

For those concerned about the current direction of the publishing industry:


A compass hip flask. Sure, there’s no needle on the thing, but it comes filled with whisky, and besides which with a hip pocket full of brown liquor, we don’t need no steenking directions. £35.00, so you KNOW it’s fancy

For those who’ve never seen the aforementioned Hello Kitty AK-47 (because I know you’re wondering):


This baby fires 7.62 mm 125 or 150 grain ammunition with a muzzle velocity of approximately 710 meters per second and a maximum effective range of 300 meters. Faster pussy cat! Kill! Kill! $1072.95

For your next MWA pot-luck party, consider the classic Jell-O brain mold:


My sister has this, and she made some brain Jell-O (one package of lime, one of grape–for authentic-looking gray matter) for the disgusting-food competition at a weekend house party near Donner Pass up in the Sierras a few years ago. (She lost out to the couple who brought the meat-loaf baby in mashed-potato diapers, but got an honorable mention). Talk about brain food… $7.89


Here’s an ice-cube tray worthy of all your most shaken-not-stirred libations. Way cool, especially if you freeze them with an ice pick sticking out of the eye socket, ho ho ho. 




A bargain at only $6.49


If you want to schmancy up your memento-mori on the rocks, try these silver plated skull swizzle sticks, which come packaged in a handsome black resin presentation box:




Set of four, $195.00


And what will you drink with all those dark accoutrements? How ’bout some absinthe for making the heart grow fonder…




Mythe Absinthe Traditional is distilled with aniseed, hyssop, vervain, badiane, and–of course– wormwood, for that extra-special creative blur. Touted as having “a creamy lemon character which appears on the finish,” you can have a bottle all to yourself for just $59.90


But what does one wear to drink absinthe? I recommend the Micheline dress in red with leopard trim, from the neo-retro Film Noir line at Pinup Couture:




It’s made of stretchy bengaline and leopard chiffon with a ten-inch slit up the back, and comes sized from XS to 2X, for you and all your best gal pals. I mean, damn… you could drink a Shirley Temple in that dress and make it sizzle $89


Complete the look with a kickin’ pair of Envy stiletto peep-toe pump:




Get vampy for the low, low price of $42


And, of course, you can’t forget the hat:




They only have one in stock and it’s vintage, so act fast for $35.00


And for later, why not go all out Barbara Stanwyck?






A vintage forties lace-halter negligee, yours for a mere $64


Is your gender more Sam Spade than Effie Perrine? Go for a nice Stetson fedora, in one of six colors:




Impeccably cool for just $140


And should you need shoes go with, try a sharp pair of spectators:




And don’t forget to wear socks with clocks in them. Feets don’t fail me now… $289.25


Finally, a present I think I’d like even more than the Motha T grenade launcher:




It’s an 18k gold antique French poison ring, circa 1814-1830, with a secret compartment for all your nefarious needs–done up with blue enamel and rose-cut diamonds in a sterling floral setting.


Only one problem… It’s not for sale.


Too bad they fingerprinted me that time in Boston, or I might consider taking up my career as a stealthy international jewel thief, at long last.


So what’s the best gift you’ve BOUGHT so far, and who’s it for? Share…


And with that, I wish you all a happy happy merry merry–or, in the immortal words of Jose Feliciano, “Police have my dog.”


Here’s a carol, just for you. Bear with me, it starts getting REALLY good about thirty seconds in:


21 thoughts on “Joyeux Noir

  1. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Hmm, I have that little Barbara Stanwyck number, in white. That takes care of one of Michael’s presents. Thanks, C!

    I LOVE Straight No Chaser! Nothing more fun than men hamming it up, a cappella.

  2. Paula Matter

    “Police have my dog.”

    I’m still laughing at that. Thanks!

    Reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

  3. Julie Kramer

    Vernon Geberth is the smartest cop I know. His PRACTICAL HOMICIDE books are invaluable – I recommend them to all novelists and police reporters. I acknowledged him in my debut thriller.

  4. J.D. Rhoades

    “How ’bout some absinthe for making the heart grow fonder…”

    Actually, because of its purported aphrodisiac qualities, I’ve heard that absinthe makes the fond grow harder.

  5. Julie Kramer

    Vernon Geberth is the smartest cop I know. His PRACTICAL HOMICIDE books are invaluable – I recommend them to all novelists and police reporters – they are considered The Bible for homicide investigation. I acknowledged him in my debut thriller.

  6. pari

    Well, thanks for nothing, Cornelia!

    Now my husband wants that Hello Kitty AK-47. I’ll never hear the end of it if it’s not under the Chanukah bush.

    This year, I offered the kids 8 days of trinkets or one private shopping spree for clothes — each individually with Mom — and the darlings both picked option #2.

    I HATE clothes shopping. What was I thinking????

  7. joylene

    OML, lol, Cornella!

    That’s exactly what we need more of: a warped, hilarious and bizarre sense of humour. Reading your posts is the equivalent to taking giggle-pills.

    Merry Christmas.

  8. Cornelia Read

    Alex, I’m thinking white negligee for your next author photo?

    R.J., totally with you on the tourists, dude…

    Dusty, I’m trying to come up with a third option, but “hardness makes the absinthe wander” is the best I can do.

    Terry, thank you!

    Paula, my favorite screwed-up lyrics are from the time my mom started singing along to Donna Summer in the car, and she thought it was “I wanna HOT TUB baby this evening, I wanna HOT TUB baby tonight…” I was about twelve and completely mortified.

    Fran, I think you need a Hello Kitty arsenal… and so do I.

    Julie, I totally agree with you about Vernon Geberth. Brilliant books.

    Pari, I’m so sorry, on both counts. Maybe you could take the kids shopping for the AK?

    Joylene, thank you–and Joyeux Noir back atcha.

    Ah, Louise… you rock as always.

  9. Fiona

    Happy Holidays, everyone. What an assortment of presents you have here.DH was very partial to the Brain Mold and gummy maggots. Who knew? Too late now so they’ll go in his stocking next year.

    He gets the whole week of Christmas off once every 5 years, and this year is it. *snoopy dance*

    We’re off to sunshine and beaches; see you all next year!

  10. Michael McGovern

    Stupendous list! I’ve got to get my wife that red dress. Yowza.

    I’ll take the bowling ball. Is that the same one “The Bowler” used in Mystery Men? Oh, wait, I’m the only person who actually paid to see that.

  11. Allison Brennan

    There is just something SOOOOO wrong about a pink gun. I’m leaning toward the lucite skull bowling ball . . . Now, if they’d put a real skull in it, that might be more of a conversation piece. People do give up their bodies for research, maybe people will give up their skulls for commerce. After they die of natural causes . . .

    And the shoes. Wowza. And they can double as a weapon in a pinch. Very nice.

    Is it a surprise that I actually own the Practical Guide to Homicide Investigation? It’s one of my favorite research books . . .

  12. Cornelia Read

    Michael, I definitely have to check out “The Bowler.” Sounds like my kind of movie, even if I have to pay to see it.

    And Allison, so glad you like the shoes. The pink gun is indeed offputting. They should have their own chapter in the Practical Guide–homicide by hello kitty…

  13. Mothrababe

    I only want the Absinthe if it comes with Gary Oldman in his Dracula get up and I get to wear Winona Ryder’s dress from that scene! 😀

    I have a friend who makes the brain jello every Halloween. I sent him skull cake pans to play with this year. 😀

    Kind of partial to the bowling ball, even if I don’t bowl per se.

    Damn, I might even look good in the Micheline red dress, but hubby might have either a heart attack but or take me to bermuda or something. It’s still freaking snowing – I’ll take Bermuda!

    Straight No Chaser! God, they’re a hoot. We nearly fell out of the car laughing the first time we heard them on the radio a few weeks back.

    Thanks for the laugh, Miss C.! I’ve always loved your warped sense of gift buying/giving. Currently winging their way to Australia are Titonic Ice Cube trays (even number of Titanics and Ice Bergs) for a Titanic buff; plus an alien spaceman boiled egg cup, complete with transparent dome ‘helmet’; and a robot toothbrush holder. We’ve got interesting friends… 😀


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