Oddly gifted

Times Staff Writer

Don’t insult your loved ones by giving them iPods, espresso machines or other lame holiday gifts. Use our handy shopping guide to ferret out this year’s essential under-the-tree treats.

Moby-Dick: The action-figure industry continues to boom. The lineup of bendable dolls includes Sigmund Freud, Jesus, Ben Franklin, Cleopatra, Moses, a librarian, a coffee barista and Pope Innocent III, to name a few. But they all pale in comparison (figuratively speaking) with Dick, the Albino Bowler Action Figure. Sporting a large white Afro and a push-button-activated white bowling ball, he sells for $8.95 at

Napa Big Gulp: At last, a wineglass big enough to hold an entire bottle of vino -- so you can truthfully say “I only had one glass, officer.” Stands nearly 13 inches tall. The Big Bold Red Glass is available for $99.95 at A knockoff version goes for $13 at Britain’s

Bedtime for Bowser: As if dogs needed another reason to lie around and sleep all day, now a luxury mattress company has created lavish beds for canines. The $350 McRoskey Airflex mutt mattress is designed to “caress the dog’s body from head to toe” using innerspring coils that are “crimped and laced together with wire helicals that render a unique hinged flexibility,” a feature demanded by today’s discriminating pooches. It’s also a relative bargain compared with McRoskey’s human beds, which retail for about $3,000. Optional canine slipcover costs $150. Showrooms listed at www


Mermania: Get your hands on a giant can of tuna and you’ll be able to impersonate the Chicken of the Sea mermaid with Neiman Marcus’ new $10,000 mermaid costume. The handcrafted urethane suit comes with its own repair kit, maintenance instructions and expert training on how to swim in it. Or, for mermaids on a budget, designer Thom Shouse -- who dressed Daryl Hannah in “Splash” -- rents mermaid costumes (for $1,000 to $1,500 per week), along with wigs, clamshell bras and life-size fake dolphins at his Web site, www.mermaid Sadly, there is no McRoskey mermaid mattress.

Ostrich Dog: No backyard is complete without a weather-resistant fake half-beagle that appears to have its head buried in the ground. If anyone asks why the dog is semi-submerged, tell them he’s ashamed about not having a McRoskey Airflex mattress. Digger dog available for $19.98 at www.harrietcarter .com.

Extraterrestrial Still Life: If space aliens knew anything about art, they’d stop making crop circles and start creating “environmental art installations” like the kind offered by Neiman Marcus. For a mere $160,000, agricultural artist Stan Herd will plant indigenous crops on a half acre of land to form an original tableau visible by plane -- or saucer.

Luncheon Meat Underwear: What’s the only thing better than Spam boxer shorts? How about glow-in-the-dark Spam boxer shorts. Decked with phosphorescent silk-screened Spam cans, these cotton briefs sell for $15 at


Eau de Switchblade: Swiss Army now sells cologne (available at Each bottle is also a multi-tool pocketknife, magnifying glass, screwdriver and tiny plasma TV. OK, not really. It’s merely a bizarre attempt to cross-market a brand that previously had nothing to do with fragrance. And Swiss Army isn’t alone. Mont Blanc, the pen company, also has its own cologne. Can Eau de Bic be far behind?

Manolo Menorah: From, home of the Mr. T chia pet, comes a menorah made from high-heeled shoes -- enough to outfit an octopus. Nothing says Happy Hanukkah like flaming footwear.

Liquid Gobbler: Seattle-based Jones Soda Co. (www, maker of such thirst-quenching brews as Strawberry Manilow, D’Peach Mode and Bada Bing, has introduced Turkey & Gravy Soda. Yum. As Jay Leno quipped: “If this doesn’t get Elvis to come out of hiding, nothing will.”

As for stocking stuffers:


* Air fresheners that look and smell like strips of bacon, $4.99 at

* The Amazing Christmas Truce of WWI, as told by Walter Cronkite and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (was ABBA not available?). Titled “Silent Night, Holy Night,” it comes in your choice of video, or book with accompanying CD.

* Air-conditioned computer mouse. Prevent sweaty palms with Nyko’s Air Flo Mouse, which contains a built-in fan.

* His-and-her robots. A bargain at $400,000, these 6-foot-tall programmable slaves read poetry, serve drinks and even greet visitors at the front door and give them a ride to your den. From