Opinion: Spring into these gift ideas


I just received my greatly anticipated spring edition of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, which provides a new opportunity to skewer their latest array of gifts.

 The HS catalogs always begin with a letter from the chairman, John MacArthur. This issue’s introduction includes, “Discover our quality products, innovative products, products that are one of a kind, and unusual products….”  One product they obviously don’t sell is a thesaurus.  

 Here are a few of my favorites from this spring edition:

  •  The Year of Your Birth Folding Knife: There is a brand new uncirculated penny embedded in the handle that was minted in the year of your birth. Murderers, you should avoid leaving a weapon like this behind, because it could help police identify you…unless you look great for your age. Or terrible. 
  •  Voice Clarifying TV Speaker: This not only boosts the sound of dialogue but also “amplifies speech frequencies.” I have no idea what that means, but it might be the perfect gift for friends who love British mysteries. They never know who done it, because they can’t understand a word the English actors are saying.
  •  The Silent Speaking Dog Toy: OK, hang on to your shih tzu. These are toys that make a soothing sound only your dog can hear. I think this is a fair question: How do you know when it’s broken? Or if it ever worked?
  •  The Barber Eliminator:  Sadly, it’s not what I thought. It’s just an electric hair trimmer. I was hoping to find an easy way to tell the guy who’s been cutting my hair for 40 years that I’m ready to move on. 
  •  The Gorilla in the Room: This is a 96-inch, inflatable PVC gorilla for those people who love the expression “800-pound gorilla in the room.” OK, this might be a funny conversation piece the first time your friends see it, but it will quickly become the 19-pound gorilla on eBay.
  •  The 36-in-One Pocket Tool: This Swiss Army knife includes scissors, file, pen, beer opener and a screwdriver. Out in time for Christmas will be the French ArmykKnife, with 36 different corkscrews.