2003.12.17 Christmas shop now or face the consequences

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet, better get with it. The best gifts are going fast, and you don’t want to get stuck choosing from the leftover junk, do you? As usual, there’s no lack of stupid items on which to spend your last-minute holiday dollars. For starters, if you’ve always wanted to look like a long-dead painter, there’s the new Norman Rockwell line of clothing.

Choose from the Norman Rockwell flannel shirt (“It’s just the kind of shirt my dad would have loved!” says Tom Rockwell, son of the late artist), the Norman Rockwell jersey-lined shirt (“It’s just the kind of shirt...etc., etc.” says son Tom again), the suede jacket, the suede comfort boots, the denim jeans, the cardigan sweater or perhaps the three-piece pajama set (which includes a coordinating t-shirt, apparently the way old, dead Norm wore his pajamas).

Just imagine the compliments your gift recipient will receive when he goes out on the town dressed like he just stepped out of a 1947 Saturday Evening Post cover. And think of Tom Rockwell and how happy he’ll be that you fell for this scam.

Or if dead movie stars are more to your taste, how about a diecast replica of Joan Crawford’s 1933 Cadillac V-16 Town Car? The ad claims the actual car “stole the show” at the 1933 Academy awards and was specially built by Cadillac for Crawford.

Features of the replica include deluxe interior and engine, balloon tires, trumpet horns, hood ornament and baked enamel finish. Sorry, “Mommie Dearest” fans, hangers (wooden or wire) are not included.

Or for an even more authentic car gift, how about a clock made from old car parts? A company called inPARTicular offers a line of clocks made from parts such as timing gears or distributor caps.  Or, if a clock wouldn’t do, perhaps a lamp made from an old Volkswagen crankshaft, just $350? Yes, old junk car parts aren’t just for the garage anymore.

If you’d prefer not to have car parts in your home, another company is offering authentic-looking rusty tools made from imported Italian chocolate. When you’re tired of having them around the house, get rid of the clutter by eating them.

The action-figure lineup is getting even more crowded with the introduction of the talking George W. Bush action figure. For only $29.95, you get a 12 1/2 inch tall presidential replica that speaks “25 unique and authentic phrases”. Heck, that’s barely a dollar a phrase.

If you like your action figures cheaper and quieter, there’s the controversial Librarian Action Figure. Just five inches tall and selling for a mere $8.95, the figure has gotten complaints from real librarians around the world because she raises a finger to her lips with “amazing push-button shushing action!”

Many actual librarians complain the figure perpetuates a decades-old perception of librarians. The figure has become a subject of many Internet discussion groups and the real Seattle librarian who posed for the doll has quit reading about it because she’s tired of reading “how dowdy” she is. She seems like a nice lady, maybe the complainers should just shush.

And finally, if you really have lots of money to waste, why not get a “Bow-Lingual Dog Translator?” It’s an “Oprah Recommended ‘O-List’ Product” if that really means anything to you. According to the ad, “your dog wears a collar that contains a wireless microphone that transmits sounds to a hand-held computer. The Animal Emotion Analysis System in the computer analyzes the bark and determines the most accurate translation. Your handheld displays the translation and you see what your dog just said-it’s just that simple!”

Can’t you just picture the first “words” out of your dogs mouth? “You feed me generic dog food because you wasted all your money on this stupid dog translator? I’m going to tear a hole in those crappy-looking Norman Rockwell jeans!”

    – Dec. 17, 2003 
  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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