Time again to save you the trouble of reading through this year’s holiday edition of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. These are actual gift selections from their brochure…
The Best Talking Watch: This is the perfect gift for people who find it inconvenient or troublesome to have to actually look at their watch. You’re in your car, one arm around your lover, the other hand texting, another holding a cup of coffee, and still another might be on the steering wheel. Don’t jeopardize your safety by glancing at your watch.

The Only Heated Outdoor Cat Shelter: According to HS, this shelter keeps your cat warm in the winter and cool in the summer. “There is no reason for your little feline friend to ever go in your house,“ says the manufacturer. So I have a question: Why do you have a cat?

The Handcrafted Hippopoptamine: This is a huge handcrafted sofa that is the same size and shape as an actual hippo, complete with head and tail. HS says it took 400 hours for the artist to complete the project, which is why this monstrosity costs $95,000. If you are a big fan of this enormous creature, a real one is only $82,500.

The Darth Vader Pancake Maker: The state-of-the-art thermostat ensures that each pancake or waffle will be a golden brown and cooked in the shape of Darth Vader.  But be warned: Breakfast guests will say their waffle is a little Chewie.

The Single-handed Barber: The typical affluent HS shopper will love the idea of giving himself a haircut. On the Internet, buyers comment it’s a great product but requires practice. Who do you practice on? Don’t worry, if you have compliant children to humiliate, the kit includes include two baseball caps.

The GPS Homing Device: This is a device for people who travel, so they can find their way back to their hotel. I mean, really, only a total loser would need one of these. My wife is getting me one.
The Self-finding Wallet: Again, a gadget for space cadets, with an integrated tracking device that you pair with your Bluetooth so if you misplace your wallet, you just go to your iPhone and you can locate it. Okay, now where the heck did I leave my iPhone?
The Children’s Weber Grill:  A great gift choice for kids who already have iPhones and computers and high-tech video games. What fun, to have a fake plastic grill where you can pretend you are cooking a plastic hot dog on pretend coals.  Learn to be just like Dad, who in 17 years behind the barbecue still can’t figure out medium rare.

The Electric Kazoo: Just when you thought that the world’s most annoying musical instrument couldn’t get any worse, the folks at HS electrified it.  Apparently they partnered with the last kazoo manufacturer left in the United States, but this idea should pretty much finish them off, too.

The Instant Portable Soccer Game:  Introduce your children to this international sport with two portable nets and regulation-size balls. Teach them the rules, how to move the ball down the field and how to start a small neighborhood riot when the game is over.

Finally, the Table-Top Fireplace: provides all the sights and sounds of a real fire, but the whole thing is 100% fake—the perfect gift for your friend who is romancing that cute blow-up doll.

Happy Shopping!

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What’s the longest known chest hair?  The heaviest pumpkin on record? Or the longest time a person ever whistled? See a list of these superlatives by reading the newest edition of the Guinness World Records Book. I skimmed the entire 250 pages in three minutes, 6.8 seconds, which I am told gets me in the next edition.

Here are some actual categories along with a few snide asides by me…

The unluckiest man in the world is Ray Sullivan, who survived seven separate lightning strikes. Ray says he won’t buy a lottery ticket because he doesn’t like his chances.
Ben Pridmore of the UK memorized 884 playing cards in a row. He actually set the record two years ago but wasn’t in last year’s edition because he forgot to mail in his entry fee.

Roger Squires of England has compiled almost 80,000 crossword puzzles in 50 years. Asked why he developed this passion, Squires said, “Not a clue.”

Devandra Suthar of India has 14 fingers, evenly divided between his right and left hands. Devandra is a carpenter by trade, but he must not be very good at it because he used to have 16 fingers.

The oldest divorce in history was between two people in England, both over 90 years old. Said the unhappy couple, “We were waiting for the kids to die.”

The heaviest thing ever pulled by a woman in high heels?  Lia Grimanis of Canada lugged a 14,000-pound truck across a football field. Second place goes to Rosie Frobisher of Peoria who hauled her fat, drunk husband out of a Hooters restaurant.

Dinesh Upadhyaya of India crammed standard-sized lit taper candles in his mouth. Actually, his name is Denny Undermeyer but it sounds like Dinesh Upadhyaya when you have 15 lit candles in your mouth.

The shortest bull in the world is named Chegs and he lives in Ramona, California. The longest bull in the world was a 40-minute speech that Donald Trump gave in Des Moines, Iowa.

The largest collection of people dressed as Batman in one place was a convention in Alberta, Canada in 2014. It seems the 514 participants were unhappy with the accommodations.  There were only three working Bat Rooms.

Takeru Koyashi of Japan holds the record for eating 12 hamburgers in three minutes. Second place goes to almost everyone who has ever eaten at Golden Corral.

Mahade Bhujal of India held 23 tennis balls in one hand. In the book, he said he owed his success to the support of his family. I have no idea what that means.

The oldest living parrot is Cookie, who is 80 years old and lives at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. She’s very sensitive about her age, and when asked about it, she says she’s not talking.

Bruce Campbell of the United States owns the largest home in an airliner, an old 727 that still has its wings, landing gear and some seats. Bruce’s wife divorced him because after dinner he kept telling her to put her tray in the upright and locked position.

Michael Lindsay of New Zealand holds the record for Most Wool Sheared from a Sheep in a Single Shearing. That’s also the only category in the entire book considered a tongue twister.

The largest gathering of people dressed as pirates was in the UK in 2012. Approximately 14,000 buccaneers gathered from all over the world. British Airways directed their airline captains to break in every five minutes over the PA system and say: “This is your pirate speaking.”   

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