Gifts for my Conspiracy Theory Obsessed Friend!
December 1, 2009 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Every year I am at a loss of what to get my best friend for Christmas. He is a man who really has everything. He likes electronic gadgets but they are usually fairly expensive, and he usually wants something very specific that he ends up buying himself. When I ask him what he wants, he hems and haws and just says, “Nothing, I don’t need anything.”

I always struggle for material things to give him, so last year for his birthday I wrote him a very heartfelt letter detailing some lovely memories I had of him from our times together. He loved it!

He is not into reading a lot, but loves watching tv and movies. He loves science fiction and tv dramas. He likes movies like Contact, The Last Mimzy and Braveheart and tv shows like Battlestar Galactica, The Closer, 24, Big Love, Law & Order and Burn Notice. He listens to music by Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen and Jewel. He enjoys spending time with his family, and eating out. He is not very active at all. Every once in a great while he plays a game on the Wii.

His big interest of late is conspiracy theories (and the like). I am thinking that this may be the way to go regarding the gift(s). He is big into people like David Wilcox, Alex Jones, David Icke, Keith Olbermann and Ron Paul. He likes watching movies online about 9/11 truth, preserving the US republic, one world government, the Bilderbergers and radio shows about “The Creature from Jekyll Island.” His latest acquisition is the movie “Zeitgeist”.

I may just resort to a gift card or offer to take him to dinner, but I wanted to see if you all could help me come up with something creative. I'm open to any and everything in the $50-$150 range. Thanks!
posted by batonthefueltank to Shopping (46 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:09 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by toodleydoodley at 7:10 PM on December 1, 2009

A donation to a charity close to his heart.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 7:10 PM on December 1, 2009

Are you talking about me? It sounds like me, at least the above the fold stuff. I essentially have everything that I want, especially in the "under $150" price range. And for everything else, I'm very particular about what I want, and would not be happy with surprises. So the word goes out that, in general, no presents.

The one thing I don't have enough of is good times with good people. I could never get enough of that. So my friends give me experiences. They throw a party, or cook me dinner, or take me out to eat, or take me out to drink, or invite me over to their house for drinks, and we make new memories together.

These are the best gifts and I treasure them.
posted by Ookseer at 7:15 PM on December 1, 2009 [12 favorites]

I'm a big fan of experiences as gifts. Do the legwork, figure out something that would be fun to do together -- maybe ice skating, maybe a concert, maybe a camping trip, whatever -- make sure he can make that day available for you both, then spring for the tickets and do all the organizing. Bonus: maybe he'll get the idea to do the same for you.
posted by amtho at 7:19 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

He may be unaware of this site. Its author has a book you can get. All that is in direct dialogue with much of Alex Jones, 9/11 truth etc..
posted by flavor at 7:20 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hopefully the over 650 AskMe posts tagged with gift might help you out.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:24 PM on December 1, 2009

Photos of good times go over well.

If you are exceptionally good at making something that he likes, anything from art to desserts, give that.

Anything that you can buy in a store, especially a gift card, will not be something he wants. Exception: things that act as a voucher for experiences, like a pair of movie tickets and a note inviting him to pick a movie.
posted by yohko at 7:24 PM on December 1, 2009

Are you my fiancee? :)

I'm a guy that basically gets what he wants when he wants it, and for anything technical I usually have specific criteria for anything I want, if not a make and model in mind, before I buy it. I also don't like gifts that aren't specifically useful. When it comes to my interests, I'm usually plugged-in enough that I've got purchases planned out well in advance or have already dismissed a potential purchase for reasons that I might not share (because who'd want to hear them?).

I'm apparently kinda hard to shop for.

So, the best gifts for me are things that are non-technical, and that I need but wouldn't ever buy for myself. Like a spice grinder for the kitchen. Or nice luxurious wool socks. Oooh, or the second volume to the cookbook that I don't really use any more because I'm sick of all the recipes. My favorite gifts - and this is where it gets hard - are the ones that I can incorporate into my routine or that are things I've meant to get around to but haven't yet due to priorities.

Gah, that was rambly. Anyway, hope it helps.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:25 PM on December 1, 2009

I have this same problem with a person on my gift list. Over the years the most successful gifts were items I made.

Cook something for him. This does not need to be cookies or sweets. Make a gallon of a special soup like lump crab and corn chowder. Bake a large pan of lasagna. Stuff some artichokes. Make a cheese ball. Most of these food items can be frozen in individual portions.
posted by JujuB at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Find out where he likes to buy his stuff and get him a gift card for that place. This doesn't sound creative or especially touching but I know I would appreciate the depth of the gesture--namely, finding out where said individual sources his purchases and helping him along. The next time a purchase comes up--bang, you got it for him. If he's anything at all like me, he has a constantly rolling list of things he wants/needs/will need. You could joggle him a week or two ahead on his purchasing schedule, and pragmatically speaking, I'd consider that a rather nice gesture.
posted by Phyltre at 7:28 PM on December 1, 2009

My first thought was getting a gift card for There are tons of really geeky and sci-fi stuff on that site, I managed to do all of my Christmas shopping on there. I know you said hes not really into reading but this book is great.
posted by lilkeith07 at 7:37 PM on December 1, 2009

Best answer: It really sounds like this guys needs Connections, one of the best BBC doc series ever. I'm a big James Burke fan, but everyone I show this to has really dug it. It's all about how one innovation led to another, and how we started with the plow, and ended up with the atomic bomb. It's very 1970's, but don't let that dissuade you. It will entirely change how you look at history.

He may already have it but this might work - The Original Prisoner Series. It really shows the tools of the trade for the 'big brother/new world order' scene that was to come into popularity 20 years later. It has everything - government control of the populace, both direct and indirect, the struggle of the individual vs. the society that surrounds him/her, tripped out mind games, the works. (I haven't seen the remake yet, but hey know your roots first.)

Born in Blood a historical theory, that has a reasonable logic to it, but with a good bit of conjecture and guessing, that the Freemasons were the child of the Templars while in hiding after the whole Friday the 13th mess with the Pope and the Kind of Spain in 1309. Not a bad book, but take it with a grain of salt. Not as 'crazytalk' as, say, Chariots of the Gods.
posted by chambers at 7:39 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

He sounds like he needs a massage.
posted by hermitosis at 7:46 PM on December 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

Find a good recipe and bake him something. It takes real effort to do this and is meaningful.
posted by whiskeyspider at 7:46 PM on December 1, 2009

Best answer: Books:

Everything You Know Is Wrong
You Are STILL Being Lied To

And some others to take a look at. The books themselves fairly high quality and good gift quality (at least when I purchased them a few years ago).

I bought them as a gift for someone with similar interests as you described and he enjoyed them.
posted by effigy at 7:49 PM on December 1, 2009

Smartwool socks. Whenever I'm at a loss for what to get someone, I get them Smartwool socks. They're pricey for socks but cheap for a gift, and they rapidly become people's favorite socks ever.
posted by KathrynT at 7:59 PM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

Good booze.
posted by pompomtom at 8:04 PM on December 1, 2009

You could also get him a subscription to Streamlink, that has many years of archived 4 or 5 hour Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell and George Noory shows. It's mostly crazytalk and timecube-like, but every now and then something actually above 5% believable is on there. The pre-Y2k shows are hilarious.
posted by chambers at 8:13 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you make anything? I find that friends really appreciate handmade gifts, even more than things that I buy for them. Otherwise, I think people have the right idea with getting some sort of experience. Take him out to his favorite restaurant, or go see a movie or concert that he would like.
posted by lexicakes at 8:15 PM on December 1, 2009

Response by poster: Great thoughts everyone...

Any more "conspiracy theory" gift ideas? I guess I really want to focus on this craziness that he is into lately. Not just a gloss over or introduction of ideas or theories, but something different, in-depth and varied. DVDs and audio books are great.

I appreciate all the "spend time together," "make something he likes yourself," and "donation to charity" ideas - I have and will continue to do things like this. More creative ideas like this are welcome also.

chambers: he does have The Prisoner Series, and sometimes listens to Coast to Coast. Great suggestions. You sound like you know this guy!

turgid dahlia and pompomtom: booze is ALWAYS good.

IndigoRain: I searched for a very specific gift idea regarding a subject that I know little about (conspiracy theories) and came up empty. Did I miss one? ...Probably.
posted by batonthefueltank at 8:17 PM on December 1, 2009

I'm really weirded out by how in depth you know his TV interests, but I would say, get him something fun and cheap... stop thinking so hard... these are everywhere, and if you spend over $10 you're an idiot. they are neat.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:19 PM on December 1, 2009

He sounds EXACTLY like my dear, departed friend. It's creepy how much they have in common. So, how about a box set of The Prisoner on DVD?
posted by Kloryne at 8:24 PM on December 1, 2009

One last suggestion - I can;t believe I didn't say it before - The Complete Blake's 7 series

I think it's the best sci-fi series. Period. Even better than Star Trek and Star Wars. Excellent story arc, characters, and ideas. The effects are terrible, but it shows how unnecessary expensive special effects are for a great sci-fi show.
posted by chambers at 8:26 PM on December 1, 2009

OK, well, I see I didn't preview enough - my same buddy also enjoyed the following: Jean Shepherd's radio programs; the TV series Nowhere Man; (inspired by The Prisoner) and any kind of cheesy, monster-movie, sci fi film he could get his hands on (particularly ones from the 60's).
posted by Kloryne at 8:32 PM on December 1, 2009

Best answer: Project Censored's "Top 25 censored news stories that didn’t make the news" books, here. The 2010 edition came out receintly, and the previous editions are available too.

"Loose Change" -- 9/11 doc on DVD, here. (Maybe he's seen it, though...)

Perhaps a magazine subscription -- Fortean Times, Skeptical Inquirer, etc.?
posted by sentient at 8:41 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

make him a tin foil hat

or the conet recordings of numbers stations though they look out of stock right now
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:50 PM on December 1, 2009

F for Fake! is Orson Welles' excellent documentary about conspiracies/forgeries in the art world.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 9:03 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Spend time together creating a fake conspiracy, while drinking booze. Promote it, sell products, and donate the proceeds to charity.
posted by yohko at 9:04 PM on December 1, 2009

The Fortean magazine would be awesome. They're the numero-uno source for conspiracy theory. Especially of weird conspiracy theory not based around the NWO/Illuminati/etc.

As for material junk. Just don't do it. I'm exactly like this guy. I have very specific tastes and requirements, and the only reason I haven't already bought the doohickey I want is because it's too expensive or difficult to find. As a result, people hate trying to buy me gifts. My wife especially hates it, since her tradeoff is either to ruin the surprise by getting my advance input, or risk me giving her a very specific that's-what-I-wanted-just-not-the-right-model "Oh... great." I'm happier getting nothing, frankly. And I bet this guy is, too.

And the robotic bug linked above would kind of annoy me. In fact, most "cheap and fun" junk really annoys me. My parents in law insist on sending us a box of "fun junk" every holiday. I dread it. It's just more shit that either sits around totally unused, or it's more waste in the landfill. I'd be wary of this sort of approach.
posted by Netzapper at 9:16 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

How about this lovely Time Cube t-shirt? The site has lots of fun shirts.
posted by irisclara at 9:29 PM on December 1, 2009

Your friend is in dire need of the Illuminati card game! It is a card game all about conspiracies and taking over the world! There are even conspiracy theories about the game!
posted by that girl at 9:53 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding a subscription to Fortean magazine.

My dad's the exact same way, how he never 'wants anything'. However, upon further questioning, he did confess that he did desire a magazine subscription or two. He gets The New Yorker and some race car magazine, and he loves them; every week something new and exciting comes in the mail for him! I just think that magazine subscriptions are a good idea in general.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:52 PM on December 1, 2009

Firearms, obvs.

Ok, seriously.. has he seen The Wire? even my scifi nerd friends like it.
posted by citron at 11:13 PM on December 1, 2009

"Don't get me anything, I don't want anything" really means "I feel that gifts are optional, not obligated, so if you can think of something you'd like to get me or do for me, I'm sure I'll appreciate it. Otherwise, don't get me a gift -- just give me your regards so that I know you're thinking of me."

disclaimer: i am that kind of person
posted by davejay at 11:28 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and so that's why your heartfelt letter was so awesome. I bet that's the best gift he's gotten in a decade.
posted by davejay at 11:29 PM on December 1, 2009

One of the best presents I ever got from a friend was a hand-made IOU ticket stating "this can be redeemed for a day of my time at any point in the next 365 days. Whether you want someone to go on a road trip with, go to the cinema with, have dinner with, do your laundry, repaint your sitting room, give you a shoulder to cry on, or anything else, this ticket is good for anything". I nearly cried when I opened it, because it reminded me what a good friend she was and how the most precious things in life are good experiences shared with others.
posted by greycap at 12:58 AM on December 2, 2009

Dear God, I'm not alone!

I've had rather ugly "conversations" with the SO about how I'm essentially impossible to shop for on any occasion. If I want it, I probably already bought it or am waiting for a price drop. If I don't own something it's because it's wildly expensive or of only minor interest. An honest response to the "what do you want?" question would be as follows:

"A Pentax k-7 ($1100) or a AM3+ Mobo with DDR1333 support and easy SATA access with oversized PCI-e graphics cards from a reliable manufacturer."

To make things worse I'm actually AFRAID of not paying the lowest possible price. If I didn't pay less than the lowest going rate for something it detracts from my enjoyment. I love the IDEA of Fry's Electronics, but I get panic attacks when I browse. Trying to figure out of bing cashback and no tax would be a better deal if I ordered the same item through Nwegg is a miserable experience.

There are a lot of days when I wish I just gave a shit about sports so everybody could buy me overpriced Seahawks merchandise.
posted by lattiboy at 1:49 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is he a Mac or PC user? I ask because if he uses a Mac and doesn't own 1Password, you could buy that for him. It's a fantastic app, truly indispensable. There's also an iPhone and iPod Touch version available.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:58 AM on December 2, 2009

A copy of The Illuminatus Trilogy. It's not a sincere conspiracy theory book, rather a story that ties together pretty much every conspiracy theory ever. If he enjoys conspiracy theories and has a sense of humor about them, he should enjoy.
posted by electroboy at 5:59 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Conspiracy book extraordinaire: Behold a Pale Horse by William Cooper. Amazon's description: The author, former U.S. Naval Intelligence Briefing Team Member, reveals information kept secret by our government since the 1940s. UFOs, the J.F.K.. assassination, the Secret Government, the war on drugs and more by the world's leading expert on UFOs.
posted by bunny hugger at 6:15 AM on December 2, 2009

This has been highly recommended, though I haven't personally read it (yet) The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. It's like a conspiracy theory but TRUE.

It also sounds like he might enjoy Star Trek: Deep Space 9. It's like the dark and moody distant cousin of TNG, and the grand uncle of BSG. It takes a few seasons to really pick up, but you've got complex plot lines dealing with religion, spies, conspiracy, a society devastated by occupation, shape shifters, an evil axis of power, personal relationships, and great humor thrown in. The whole series is about $300, but you can get him 1-3 for about $150.
posted by fontophilic at 8:14 AM on December 2, 2009

Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea - The Illuminatus! Trilogy

A fun sci-fi/fantasy novel in which many different conspiracy theories are woven together. Described as "a fairy tale for paranoids".
posted by aMeta4 at 12:10 PM on December 2, 2009

posted by mmascolino at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2009

Them: Adventures with Extremists might be interesting to him. (Really I'd recommend the documentary series that led to the book, but it doesn't seem to be available in any easy gifting form.)
posted by grapesaresour at 4:34 PM on December 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your ideas - they are all great!

irisclara: i like the t-shirts on that site, i may get one for myself...

I think I am going with the Connections BBC series for now (thanks chambers!) and maybe put the other ones marked "best answer" on the back burner for future gift ideas.
posted by batonthefueltank at 8:17 PM on December 3, 2009

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