Tom Ross: Unmistakable signs of the season

Classic TV products that no one really needs make great holiday gifts

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December is that happ-happ-happiest time of year when every third commercial on television is for either electric shavers that squirt lubricating goo, French perfume guaranteed to make anyone appear more glamorous or bracelets encrusted with tiny diamonds that are reputed to have the power to save a marriage.

I know this onslaught of TV hucksterism is wearing many of you down, but there are many wonderful products being promoted on television, and as a special reader service this week, I want to highlight some of them. First of all, it wouldn't be the holidays without commercials for Chia Pets. Those strange little herb gardens in the shape of animals are sold only at this special time of year. For those of you who live on a mountaintop, Chia Pets are little clay figurines resembling sheep that act as a growing medium for "chia " seeds. Chia is the common name for "alvia columbariae," which is a member of the watercress family.

Given adequate water and sunlight, the chia seeds sprout to provide the sheep with a green "woolly" coat. It's fun, and it's educational, too. Now, I know many of you are thinking, "Tom most of my relatives already have Chia Pets."

What you are overlooking is the fact that Joseph Enterprises, Inc., the company that debuted the Chia Pet in 1977, has since come out with many new models in addition to the original sheep. You can give everyone on your gift list a Chia Bunny, Chia Frog, Chia Hippo and many more Chia pets. In fact, the company recently licensed Looney tunes Chias including Chia Daffy Duck and Chia Elmer Fudd.

Didn't I tell you I was going to simplify your holiday shopping? What about that sportsman on your list? I'll bet it has been many years since you saw a commercial for Popeil's Pocket Fisherman. But that doesn't mean you can't still purchase one for Uncle Leroy just in time for holiday giving. Some of you may have forgotten that the famous Popeil Pocket Fisherman is the handy spin casting outfit that folds down to store in a glove compartment. As the Web page www.popeilfamilystore.com kindly reminds us, "This is the famous fishing pal that has thrilled generations!" How many times have you found yourself parked in your rig next to a stream full of spawning salmon only to discover that you left your full-size fishing pole at home? Owners of Popeil's Pocket Fisherman don't have to worry about that nightmare.

Pocket Fisherman attaches to your belt, and the reel is built right into the handle along with a mini tackle box containing a hook, line, sinker and bobber. All you need is stink bait! Popeil Pocket Fisherman is yours for $29.95.

Do you have a relative who loves donuts but shouldn't? Donut Express might be just the thing for him. The special Donut Express pans allow you to bake your favorite jelly and cream filled donuts in the oven, eliminating the need to cook with fat.

At $18.99 for the set, including the pastry injector, what could make the holidays brighter than guilt-free crullers?

While we're talking about healthy living, permit me to recommend "SoundStep," the talking pedometer. That's right, calibrate SoundStep to your walking pace, then just press the magic button anytime you want to know just how far you've walked or jogged and how many steps you've taken. As a special bonus, if you order any time at all, SoundStep will include a selection of seven melodies that pick up the tempo as you quicken your steps. At last, that brings us to the real star in the December firmament, the "MicroTouch" men's personal grooming device.

As the TV commercial points out, this is the perfect gift for any woman who wants to keep her husband free of unwanted body hair. Not much bigger than a penlight, the MicroTouch is a precision device that can zap hair around ear lobes and nostrils. It runs on just a single AAA battery, but it's powerful enough for the big jobs! Watch as MicroTouch plows through forests of unsightly back hair like a Hesston mower in a field of Timothy hay.

I know it's going to be a joyous season for all the people on my list who find a MicroTouch under their tree Dec. 25.

Happy holidays everyone. May all your wishes come true.

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