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'Deadspin' Columnist Outlines Hater's Guide To Williams-Sonoma Catalog

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Many of us look forward to flipping through the Williams-Sonoma holiday catalog and the unbearably festive kitchen delights it offers.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Then there are those of us who look forward to scrolling through Drew Magary's yearly guide to those delights called "The Hater's Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog."

CORNISH: And Drew Magary is with us now. He's a writer for Deadspin and GQ. And Drew, I'm hoping you're going to help Ari and I actually pick out some gifts for each other.

DREW MAGARY: Yeah, sure. Why not?

SHAPIRO: All right, Audie and I have flipped through your "Hater's Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog" and chosen a couple things for each other.

MAGARY: Oh, cool.

SHAPIRO: Audie, you want to go first?

CORNISH: Yes. OK, so Drew, the thing I saw in the catalog that I thought would be good for Ari, who brings his coffee mug to the news meeting every morning, is the gingerbread folks mug toppers. Explain to our audience what that is.

MAGARY: All right, so you hang it over the edge of the cup. It's, like, a little - I don't know why they're called gingerbread folks when they're just men...

CORNISH: (Laughter).

MAGARY: ...Or I guess they could be ladies. I guess that's why they call it folks - right? - it would be problematic if they just - if they were just men. Anyway, you hang it on the lip of the mug, and that's supposed to be festive. But it's stupid because if I'm - if I pick up the coffee cup to drink my coffee, the thing's going to slide around and high five me in the face. So it doesn't make any sense.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

SHAPIRO: Also, is the steam from the coffee going to kind of soften up the gingerbread person's arm to the extent that he crumbles off the edge and...

CORNISH: It's supposed to be for dipping, people.

SHAPIRO: Oh, well...

CORNISH: Yeah (laughter).

MAGARY: The thing is, they sell these houses, too, that hang on the lip, and the houses are like the size of the lip of the mug.

SHAPIRO: Also, a house hanging on the lip of a mug sounds like some kind of California disaster movie...

(LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: ...Like, the start of an earthquake scene where the house goes tumbling - like, I don't want a house on a precipice.

MAGARY: It is. It's "San Andreas 2." It's very...

SHAPIRO: Yeah.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

MAGARY: It's very inappropriate. It's not structurally sound.

CORNISH: All right, fine, smarty-pants, what did you choose for me?

SHAPIRO: Audie, I got you a corkscrew but not just any corkscrew.

CORNISH: Oh, boy.

SHAPIRO: This is an electric corkscrew with a digital display that will tell you the exact number of pulls left before it runs out of juice so that you never run out of juice.

CORNISH: Aw.

SHAPIRO: See what I did there? See what I did there?

MAGARY: Oh, look at that.

CORNISH: All right, Drew, so this one sounds very sweet. I mean how can you hate on a fancy corkscrew?

MAGARY: I don't like the electric corkscrews because they're expensive, and they take up too much room. And then if I'm opening wine, I want the - like, the old-fashioned corkscrew so I can be like an Italian waiter. So that's why - I want to look manly pulling it out, like, (growling) - just sheer force of my huge guns pulling out the cork. And the electric corkscrew doesn't let me do that. It does all the work for me, which just doesn't feel appropriate.

Then the charges thing is stupid, too, because it's, like, unless you're a sommelier who's, like, you know - watches the thing like a cellphone dying - oh, my God, I can't open the other dozen bottles of Beaujolais nouveau I have.

SHAPIRO: Also, I know we're not supposed to talk about how much money we spend on gifts for one another, but this corkscrew that I got for you, Audie, is a hundred dollars.

(LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: This is a $100 corkscrew.

MAGARY: Yeah.

CORNISH: All right, well, you know, I appreciate it. I appreciate you, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Thank you, Audie. I appreciate you, too.

CORNISH: Now, Drew Magary, I mean I think you sound like a major Grinch, frankly, and a lot of us like to...

MAGARY: (Laughter).

CORNISH: ...Decorate our homes for the holidays, maybe not...

SHAPIRO: Some of us like to eat gingerbread.

CORNISH: Maybe not from the Williams-Sonoma catalog - not that there's...

MAGARY: I do.

CORNISH: ...Anything wrong with that. But do you have a little bit of, like, a beef with just - with kind of Christmas consumerism I guess?

MAGARY: No, you know, I really don't. Like, I...

CORNISH: Like, what is it about this that's a personal affront to you?

MAGARY: I mean I always do it every year because some of the items are slightly ridiculous. And plus, frankly, like I'm a WASP myself. So, like, I know my people. And I know that at Christmas, it's nice to decorate, but, like, you know, sometimes moms go a little too far.

You know, there's that sort of Martha Stewart syndrome where it's - you're picking elaborate garlands and festooning a house and stuff like that. And it has to look very perfect when in real life, the holidays are a complete mess - right? Like, my kids throw up on the pillow, and it's just a train wreck.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

MAGARY: And there's this sort of aspirational quality to it that I understand why they have it, but it's also a little, like - come on. It gets a little precious, and it's fun to make fun of.

SHAPIRO: That's Drew Magary, who writes "The Annual Hater's Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog." You can find it at Deadspin, where he's a columnist. He's also the author of the novel "The Hike." Happy holidays.

MAGARY: Thanks, guys. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.