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Prog Gift Ideas

(Note to my family: This is not a gift list for me. You should have gotten your 2009 Gift List on December 26th of last year, please refer to that and ask me for a new copy if you some how lost or original).

It’s that time of year again, where we all force ourselves to cheer up and see the brighter side of life, and part of that brighter side is giving gifts to all of our coworkers, neighbors, bar tenders, and if we’re feeling super generous, friends and family.

Now chances are that if you know a fan of progressive rock, it’s been a huge pain in the ass to find them an appropriate gift. They already own all the music they want, since they never wait more than 4 hours until after a record is released to get their hands on the limited collector’s vinyl edition with 300 page color art book and band commentary DVD. On the other end, the only things they don’t have that they want cost tens of thousands of dollars (see: Neil Peart’s drum kit from the Test For Echo tour, Robert Fripp’s stage stool, the 2nd neck on Chris Squire’s 3-neck bass, etc). So you usually just end up buying them something from the Apple store and move on.

BUT NOT THIS YEAR! This year you have the Prog Blog’s guide to holiday shopping for the common prog fan. While things like a gym membership, soap, or clothes that they weren’t wearing back in high school may provide more immediate and obvious benefits, I’m here to help you find the gifts that your prog fan boy or girl (ok, lets be honest, boy) truly desire:

Applications for our iPhone that lets us make music as if we were a 3-year old:

This is why all iPhone drum apps fail

Prog fans, like all dirty hippie creative types, love Apple products and probably had an iPhone before Steve Jobs had one. You can tap into this irrational love for a nominal product by getting them one of the many iPhone apps that let regular douche bags sound like cutting edge musicians.

Bebot (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpgxd8bljtg) is one app that lets you create all sorts of noise just by touching and dragging your fingers across the phone’s screen. You can also add tons of effects to make it sound like you’re doing something much more complicated than randomly pointing at the screen. I will commend the creators of the application here because I think they’ve created something that, by default, allows the user to sound at least as skilled as Sigur Ros.

If this is too ‘artifical’ for someone trying to use their iPhone as an instrument, you can get them Pocket Guitar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51cWRrZdkwk&feature=related) which will let them remember why they hated their first guitar teacher AND make them sound like a crappy midi file. Or, if they’re a wind player, you can get them the Ocarina app (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdQvSWXaODs&feature=related) which has already been used to play every single song from Zelda about 8 billion times on youtube, shockingly.

Invent a new audio format

'Rubber Ducky' never sounded so good!

Prog is all about one-upmanship. So you can play the guitar AND bass part to “La Villa Strangiato” at the same time AND do it at twice the tempo Rush played it at? So what, I can do that AND play drums!

One thing prog fans love to one-up each other on is the audio format of their music collection. From vinyl to eight track to cassette tape to compact disc to WAV to MP3 to DVD-A to FLAC to OGG back to vinyl again for some stupid reason, we always want to tell other people how ‘pure’ sounding the music we listen to is. No one ever really wins this battle, but we still all scramble to convert our archives any time a new format appears claiming to be the only true way to listen to an artist’s music. Thus, if you want to give your prog fan a special gift, invent an audio format that no one else has. Then present it to them and tell that that NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD HAS THAT FORMAT. He or she will probably leave immediately to update their collection, half joyful that they will be ahead of the curve and half shameful that they didn’t have format before you invented it.

If you need help with an idea for what format you want to use, here are a few free ones I promise don’t exist yet:

-Honeycombs full of bees

-Wood

-ACTUAL solid gold and platinum records

-Human flesh (depending on the body part, they may REALLY enjoy this one)

-Waffles

See, it’s easy. And no, don’t worry, they won’t question whether or not the bees moving and stinging the listener is a disadvantage. They should have done a better job preserving the media!

The album cover from In the Court of the Crimson King on anything

The Mona Lisa. If she liked prog.

We love this album cover. We don’t care that it freaks other people out. It’s basically our mascot. We’d paint it on our houses and cars if it didn’t kill the resale value. Honestly, if we woke up one morning and found it had been tattooed across our back, we’d love it. Just go over to cafepress.com and stick it on a shirt or a mug or a bumper sticker or baby or whatever and give it to us. We won’t care that we’re breaking numerous laws by owning an illegal piece of merchandise, and neither should you.

Stuff for an instrument we don’t actually play

How did you know I wanted to start playing Normaphone? You're so thoughtful!

The first thing prog fans love feeling is superior, but the second thing we love feeling is eclectic. Chances are we already own everything we can possibly want or afford for our main instrument (because we all play at least one instrument, DUH), but you can encourage that we waste time on a new instrument by buying us something for an instrument we barely play, or even better, don’t even play at all.

For instance I am a drummer, but I own a guitar that I can’t play for shit. It hangs on my wall and laughs at me whenever I try to pick it up. What I SHOULD do is put it in its case and find someone who wants a great Babicz Tribeca acoustic guitar (mmm blatant shilling for Babicz guitars goes here) so that my roommate doesn’t have to suffer needlessly through my ‘practicing’. However when my sister gave me a Rock Band (mmm blatant shilling for Rock Band goes here) song book for said guitar for one of the various winter holidays my family celebrates, I loved it.

You can do the same for your prog fan. If they have a drum kit sitting in their basement that was left their by the drummer in their last band, buy them some drum sticks (and yourself some ear plugs). If their grandmother left them a keyboard in her will, get them a sustain pedal! If you want to be really creative, get them something for an instrument they don’t even play, like slide lubricant for a trombone or bow rosin for a cello. They’ll get the hint, trust me!

Hopefully now your head is full of great gift ideas for the prog fans in your life. Go forth with new confidence that for the first time since they became a fan of the best music in the world, you’ll have found a gift that truly fits their totally awesome life style. It might kind of be like giving a crack addict a pipe for the holidays, but don’t worry, at least one person always loves an enabler!

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