‘Tis the season in which we receive a sacroiliac-straining blizzard of catalogues in the mail. If you’re in the market to send your loved one a cryopacked styrofoam box of Nebraska beef or another pair of fuzzy slippers, well, have at it. For the good of all, however, I have read every one of the catalogues that arrived in the past week. Here are some items that we’ll be passing on.
Harry and David
This fruit-porn purveyor works hard to tart up its products, which, after all, are FRUIT. Or, as they put it, “Juicy Crunchy Yummy Fruit,” as distinct from that other kind. They must have twenty fruit stylists on the payroll. But, when all is said and done, we won’t be shelling out $69 (more than $10 each) for these six hand fruits (even if one is inexplicably wrapped in gold foil:
It’s almost too easy to poke fun at Williams-Sonoma’s collection of unspeakably expensive doo-dads for yuppie home chefs who are oblivious to the homelessness, poverty, and unemployment all around them. But, here are a few favorites:
The Gingerbread Estate ($249):
The brown-complected fellow locked out of the front door is a nice touch.
Butter Making Kit ($29.95)
For those located in parts of the country where butter cannot be bought in supermarkets, your $30 and a measure of luck will net you a half-pound of butter (retail value $2) and two thimble-sized ceramic crocks. You may think your friends will admire you for making your own butter. They won’t.
Airsoft Zombie Fun Kit, $69.95:
This may seem like four dime-store pellet guns with pellets and safety glasses; but, combine those with the 16 included “paper zombie targets,” and suddenly it’s a training exercise for the Zombie Apocalypse! The connection between zombies and Bozo the Clown is left unexplained.
Like its parent Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn markets very attractive upscale merchandise at splurge prices. One theme in this year’s catalogue, though, is disturbing. Can you identify it?
Let me quote from our guest blogger: “Come the revolution, when all stags rise up against the Pottery Barn oppressors, those antlers will be dug in deep where the sun don’t shine.”
The New York Yankees Slot Car Raceway, $124.95:
Two slot cars with Yankees logos go around and around a thirteen-inch track until key injuries, lousy managerial decisions, and the distraction of women behind the third-base dugout lead them to fly off into futility. Based on a true story.
The Healthiest Potato Chip Maker, $59.95 ($39.95 for six 2-ounce containers of potato chip spices):
Want some baked potato chips? You can buy a massive bag for $3, or with this $60 silicone tray you can slice your own potatoes, arrange about 20 of them at a time onto the tray, and after some effort wind up with a very expensive handful of chips. If you’re still hungry by then.
The World’s Smallest Camera, $29.95
As I said to that performer in the bar in Bangkok once she had put away the ping pong balls and knitting needles: That’s very impressive, but why do it in the first place?
After glancing through so many catalogue images of women pouting as if they are experiencing gastrointestinal distress, it is a relief to read Robert Redford’s catalogue, in which the models are instructed to smile invitingly while posing in front of snow-covered log cabins. I mean, doesn’t this just make you want to open your wallet??
Even a smile, however, doesn’t make these odd hats look good:
Crate & Barrel
This company is not only expert at marketing, but they know how to edit. On page 15 of their Holiday Gift Guide catalog, there is a picture of their “12 Dogs of Christmas Biscuits” in which one dog biscuit is lying on top of another in a way that would make Michael Vick blush. And, on page 25 there’s a “Buri Woodland Creature” fox being strung up onto the Christmas tree by his neck. These images were both replaced on the company Web site version of the catalog.
Merino Wool Ragg Gift Set $29.95
Planning to give your loved one socks for the holiday? Why not make it a lose-lose for both of you, by coughing up $30 for three pairs of socks, “beautifully packaged for gift giving” in a cardboard box?
Vermont Country Store
Good thing “Vermont” has become a synonym for authentically old-fashioned nostalgia items, because the flinty, practical folks who actually live in Vermont would be appalled.
Comfy Car Seat Riser, $14.95
The premise here is apparently that some women are so small, and car seats angle backward so sharply, that they can barely see out their side windows. Though, you’d think the X-ray vision would solve the problem.
Pine Tar Soap and Shampoo, $19.95
If George Brett used it to make his hands stick to his bat, why would you want to put it in your soap and shampoo?
Traditional Granny Gown and Cap, $55.90
My periodontist used to show a film showing a woman brushing and flossing for about fifteen minutes. Here is an even more effective virtue-preserver. Perhaps skip this for Christmas and save it as a Valentine’s Day gift.
Elevated Pet Feeder, $129-199
Frontgate claims that raising your pet’s food between 5 and 14 inches will “eliminate neck strain and aid digestion.” Thank heavens: at last, a solution for all of those dogs that go around moaning about their aching necks and poor digestion from eating at floor level. How did wolves ever survive in the wild?
OK, that’s it for the 2012 catalogs. Merry Christmas to all (except for us Jews, who will be out seeing Les Miz on Christmas Day) and to all a good night.