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: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms: Pick Two: This week's MC Masala advertises neither alcohol nor tobacco nor firearms nor fish nor game. It's just a consumeriffic "offbeat holiday gifts" tip sheet.

Soap might seem old hat, but it's new to me. Lots of people give special scented soap. My freshman year of high school was the first time a friend gave me a bath soap basket for Christmas. I wondered for weeks whether she was trying to tell me I smelled bad. The Irish Spring in my shower disappeared in a week as I scrubbed like a post-"Fear Factor" Lady Macbeth. But now I understand that if people want to passive-aggressively tell you that you stink, they'll put a plastic ribbon on a big bottle of Dial and leave it on your desk, and not shell out for artfully arranged shells.

As long as you're spending money on holiday stuff, you should read the Frontline credit expose, even if you've seen it before.

Seen in a Garment District shop window today: various signs, handwritten and printed. "Sale," "Going out of business," "Must sell inventory," "We're serious."


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