Unique Gifts From the Comfort of Your Own Bum
The top 8 catalogs to order from this X-Mas.
By Jessica English
NOVEMBER 24, 1997: 'Tis the season of the catalog. And although I think Christmas shopping provides most of the fun during the holidays, there is a growing faction out there who loathe it, waiting until the last minute to even think about what they'll get. Rather than all the overdone droll you end up with on Christmas Eve, like Mallard Duck armchair remote control holders and Old Spice, ordering from catalogs--as late as Dec. 23 (!)--may be just the answer for one-of-a-kinds for everyone. Here are my favorite catalogs this year, along with my wish list from each (deliver to the address in staff block on page 5).
Most expensive item: Twin Seat Sirenetta Quadricycle Surrey
This is where eccentric people with way too much money shop; God, I wish I had a million bucks. "Hammacher" is full of high-tech, high-class, high-priced gadgets like the Handmade Celestial Orrery, a working 18th century model of the solar system ($669), pictured on the cover. If you've got a lot of cash, you'll find unimaginably sophisticated but weird gifts galore, like the Sleep Sound Generator, the Self-Sustaining Ecosphere or the Most Accurate Atomic Radio-Controlled Watch plus many eclectic and rare Christmas items.
Most expensive item: Aeron Chair ($979), the "World's
Most Comfortable Task Chair"
"Levenger" is now my favorite catalog in the world: full of paper, pens, lap desks, journals, furniture and organizational tools for bookworms and writers.
Most expensive item: "A McQueen Thing" Double
Breasted Leather Peacoat ($595)
"J. Peterman" is entirely romantic and literary. I spent hours pouring over the capsules, which read like proems, descriptive vignettes of passing moments that somehow incorporate the product by embodying its character. Each product is also represented by very classy full-color illustrations. The description, titled "Breathing like a bagpipe," for the Australian Wool Shirt ($148) reads: "The sky is ready to drop more water. Puddles are full of leaves and weeds, floating. The branches of an oak groan. Everything he writes he just rolls into a ball and gives to the cat. He finishes one of only four cigarettes he allows himself daily. He stubs it out and puts it in his pocket. He could walk for miles and miles ..."
"J. Peterman" also offers a housewares catalog, available from the same phone number.
Most expensive item: Nothing over $99.95
I want pretty much everything in this catalog for myself or someone I know. Someday, I will have it all, by God. "Wireless" is full of intellectual kitsch, like a book and CD-ROM containing a collection of e-mail cartoons to send, funny mouse pads, clever sweatshirts, 3-D puzzles, music, videos, games and replicas of symbolic rings from other cultures and time periods. "Signals: A Catalog for Fans and Friends of Public Television" is basically the same as "Wireless" and equally cool (available by calling 800-669-9696). These two catalogs are the catch-alls for unusual gifts anytime.
Most expensive item: Nova Dreamer Set ($219), "Wireless
Nova Dreamer is worn while sleeping and detects when you are dreaming
by sensing the movements of your eyes. You are given a light or
sound cue to enter your dream without awakening. With your new
lucidity, you are free to embark on unlimited adventures."
This is truly, truly weird stuff. And I want it all. My favorite is the Deluxe Fart Detector ($39.98), "Industrial quality gas detector really detects many common gases, including 'noxious human emissions.' Produces loud warning and siren!" Johnson Smith has everything: from fog machines to body gadgets to make you thinner, attractant cologne for men and women that contains pheromones and the Alien Autopsy game, a version of good ol' Operation. Plus funny T-shirts, gags, magic tricks, cool masks, spy gadgetry and plain old kitsch.
Most expensive item: Cat Tree ($108.95)
I consider myself a "cat person," and this catalog still gives me the willies. See, I love my cat. But I don't love my cat. Of course, our feline friends deserve a Christmas, too! And surely you know someone who'd dig all this crazy crap for Fluffy. Stuff Fluffy will hate--like the Hairball Remedystick ($7.95), a lik-em-stik flavored like barley and shaped like stick deodorant, or the Laser Tease toy ($49.95).
Most expensive item: Duke of Burgundy Hand-Forged Suit
of Armor ($2,495)
Witness one-stop shopping for Society of Creative Anachronism members. But everyone loves to play dress up and loves rapiers. The cape ($94) and cloak ($89) are timeless but still out of the ordinary. And who doesn't feel manly in mail? I absolutely love the Poison Ring ($23.50); the concealed hollow beneath the top stone would allow me to slip poison into my enemy's drink--how very Shakespearean!
Least expensive item: Warning Signs & Stickers (60
cents), examples: "If you come through this door you will
be killed/Si vienes por esta puerta te mato" or "I
§ Killing Communists"
You may have one of those hard-to-shop for folks who believes consumerism--especially during the Christmas season--is a plot by Big Brother. If so, any normal Christmas present you give would most likely be summarily smashed for suspicion of thought control. "Delta Press" is the perfect place to find a gift for those paranoid folks (or any sociopath or serial killer type). Basically, it's a survival catalog, full of books on booby traps, revenge, surveillance, changing your identity, doomsday theories and making your own bombs, guns and poisons. They also offer videos, Vietnam ID cards and patches, dog tags, T-shirts (one with the image of a mushroom cloud reads: "Made in America, Tested in Japan"), self-defense devices and posters. Among my favorite titles are Screw the Bitch: Divorce Tactics for Men; The Predatory Female; Sharing the Road with Idiots, and Screw Unto Others. You can also order a custom photo ID claiming you are a mercenary, firearms dealer, member of the American News Service, a special investigator and more. Scary but original gift material.
Arts & Leisure: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
© 1995-99 DesertNet, LLC . Weekly Alibi . Info Booth . Powered by Dispatch