Hi Tech Toys: Superfluous Novelty Gifts for the Technologically Impaired
by Marjorie Dorfman

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
– Albert Einstein

Are you running out of gift ideas for the technologically challenged loved ones in your life? Do you need help in finding that "one of a kind" present for that special someone? Read on for some advice and help.

If you looking for high tech toys for the loved ones on your gift list this year, you probably won’t find them in your average department store. Oh, there are always those gizmos and doodads buzzing out of the corner of your eye as you bustle by tinsel-adorned counters, but real high tech must be treated with specialized white gloves, if not respect. Before you buy, decide whether you are shopping for children, adults or adult children. This will help qualify your looking time and force you to keep in mind that old adage: "The only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys." (In the case of women, it’s shoes, bags and jewelry.)

The Smoothie Pro is for the woman or man overwhelmed with taking care of things, so much so that pressing even one more button is just too much to consider. The powerful 700 watt pulse-power motor churns ice and fruit into almost instant cool, healthy refreshment. The command buttons "mix," "smooth," "pulse" and "off " keep everything simple. Turning the machine on however is for you to figure out. (Revolutionary concept, unless along the many roads traveled you’ve ever come across a blender.) This machine does offer a specially designed ice-crunching blade that creates a consistent texture, which allows for continuous mixing and serving of smoothies. If you want to make something else, too bad. At a cost of $89.99 (not $90.00 mind you) the Smoothie Pro sounds like a one-trick pony to me. All I can say is: "Et tu, puree and where is my blender?"

I cannot help but include among the "must have" high tech items the new Robotic Massage Chair. "Human touch" rollers accurately replicate the techniques used by therapists and chiropractic professionals; rolling, kneading tapping, compression and, ultimately, bill collection for the hefty $699.95 price tag. A control panel in the armrest lets you decide whether you are in the mood for full, upper or lower back massage. So give yourself a massage whenever your own fingers are too busy to accommodate you or simply whenever another set of fingers simply aren’t at hand. (Forgive pun. I couldn’t resist.)

For the formerly musically uninclined, consider the Saxxy Synthesizer Kazoo for saxophone, tuba, and clarinet. Forget about playing like Harry James or Benny Goodman or Louis Armstrong. Why aspire to greatness when for a mere $49.95 you can be mediocre forever? All you need to do is hum. This is all made possible by pressing a button to choose the desired horn and then humming into the mouthpiece! Revolutionary, my dear Watson. After that the selections get more discerning: synthesized back beat, the sounds of bebop, big band, Motown or salsa. You can play it all if you are at least 5 years old. Why learn the real thing when you can learn to be a fake? This is really instrumental (forgive pun again) in teaching a child about achievement and studying and accomplishment. Just a toy, though my friends, another hi-tech wonder.

For the lazy ones among us, consider the automatic eyeglass cleaner. For only $49.95 it cleans glasses to a brilliant clarity in one quick minute and keeps them free of smudges, dirt, dust and the static that attracts it. It runs on batteries and will keep cleaning as long as you let it while frames stay as perfect as the day they were purchased. It makes you wonder about what people did before. All these new improved things – the old stuff must have really been bad (soap and water and a tissue or damp cloth in this case). This item is a must for intellectuals who have no time to do anything else but read and the busy housewife who needs clean glasses to find her keys and/or her children (whichever she misplaced first).

I cannot resist including the following two novelty gifts, which are too interesting to be excluded from this impromptu and highly questionable study. Alcoholix Lolly and Monkey Picked Tea for the sort-of gourmand in your life. A company known as Edible has somehow managed to encase a genuine Chinese scorpion and a deceased worm in delicious tequila-flavored lollies. Why anyone would want to do this is still a moot point, but the cost of one of these experiences is a mere $6.95. If arachnids are your cup of tea, you’ll like this fine fellow; if they are not, well, maybe you should try the worm. The scorpion glows under ultraviolet light so he can complement any neon wardrobe. If you close your eyes, you won’t feel nauseous or guilty about eating this fine fellow, but even if you keep your eyes wide open, the vodka in the lollipop will help you forget and according to its makers, make it impossible for you to resist biting into his delightfully chewy, segmented abdomen! Although his sting has been removed, it is rumored that this type of scorpion is a potent aphrodisiac when eaten. Let me know. In the meantime, Chacun à son goût and…count me out.

According to the ad, "why not paws for a cuppa?" Why settle for posh tea with hyphenated Anglo-Saxon names when you can get (if you hurry for $13.95) Monkey-Picked Tea? This wonderfully refreshing brew has been hand (paw?) picked by monkeys! (College drop-outs, I suspect.) These simians are cared for at a private resort in China and are specially trained to pick rare, wild tea plants in inaccessible places, such as the edges of cliffs and the bottom of the curio case in your living room. All kidding aside, these leaves are known to produce a pale, golden tea that’s so fragrant and delicious that it is best served without milk or sugar or biscuits or cake. Best of all it is said that the monkeys enjoy their work, which has become a family tradition, as their parents before them also made a living in the tea trade. Order some today and don’t blame me!

The James Bond Stealth Camera (or JBI as it is known to its most intimate acquaintances) packs a powerful technological punch. This miniature digital wonder, which costs $69.95, has so many special features that they can’t all be enumerated here. Some of them include a "Self Timer Mode", a Video Clip with Sound Mode and an Audio Record Mode. The camera also comes equipped with an idiot-proof software package, (how can one ever really be sure?) that allows you to get images in and out of the computer almost as fast as you can take them. Best of all, the JBI has a unique mode button, which can be set to record images at preset interval times of up to 90 minutes. I’d grab this one before the people you want to spy on get tired and move away. Hurry! There isn’t much time! (Maybe you can even sell one to Sean Connery, if he’s still in the market that is.)

For the adult child in all of us, I include "Thinking Putty." Its claim to fame for $8.95 is: "bend me, shape me, any way you want me." According to its creators, Thinking Putty bounces, stretches, squishes, lifts prints from newspapers, snaps, crackles, pops, shears, tears, melts, drips and even shatters. No one however, knows why. It is the perfect product for stress and tension relief and a truly unique experience (so is watching a volcano, but I don’t think I want to be there.) They say that once you pick it up, you will never be able to put it down. It helps with the suppression of nasty impulses in the everyday work place, such as the desire to wrap your hands around a boss’s or co-worker’s neck. Watch the substance carefully if you bring it to work. In the hands of others that don’t own it, it is known to create intense and uncontrollable jealousy. Eventually, so they say, you will want to order more. Get it in Electric Blue, orange, pink, black, red or purple. Develop stronger hands and your imagination. Leave it on your desk and let your unconscious take over. (If it doesn’t, well, then you may have another problem.)

For the technologically stymied busy executive who has everything, maybe its time for a nap. Consider the "Executive Hammock". It’s manufacturers claim that it can be tiring as well as tough at the top. Everyone knows we will all get more sleep than we need when we pass over to the other side of the sod, but why should we wait? With Executive Hammock you can have forty, fifty or even five hundred winks whenever you like. The full size high-tech hammock is crafted in sturdy black nylon and is compact enough to tuck into a briefcase, pocket, handbag or lunchbox. Simply unravel and attach each end of the hammock to something that will bear your weight. Then relax and enjoy. A steal at $9.95, if you can stay awake long enough to buy it!

And now the best part of this exposé: where can you get all of these marvelous, must have and can’t live without things? I am not at liberty to say, but if I was allowed to say I would tell you to check out Sharper Image and Have fun with all these superfluous things and while you are at, have a happy, healthy holiday too!

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Copyright 2003