Columns » Ranger Rich

Signs of the Shopocalypse


Christmas will be here before we know it, arriving amid a swirl of childlike anticipation and a cascading wave of unabashed goodwill, a time of joy and laughter marked by the voices of young carolers filling the snowy nighttime air. Unless Michael Vick electrocutes or hangs Santa's reindeer.

(Note to startled children: That's not likely, of course. Michael, the NFL superstar quarterback and owner of the "Bad Newz Kennels" dog-fighting operation, has gone away. He was sentenced to prison earlier this week, and for about two years he'll be behind "barz" and will spend Friday "nightz" being dressed up in "womenz" clothes by even bigger and stronger inmates who will have their way with him and then vote him the queen of their "promz.")


The point is, Christmas will be here in less than two weeks, and it's time to get serious about gift-shopping. I am here to help, handing out gift ideas today as freely as the El Paso County Republican Party hands out crack at its meetings. (If you have another explanation as to why this group of old corral-shovelers made Doug Bruce, R-Delusional, a state representative, please let me know.)

So here we go. The following are actual gifts that appear in actual catalogues and can actually be ordered online by anyone who has (a) a credit card and (b) an IQ of 38 or lower.

From fancy-schmancy MacKenzie-Childs, a really big foot stool. The photo shows a big dog sleeping on it, with these words: "An ottoman so grand that it makes Cinnamon, a full-sized Golden Retriever, look like a puppy." It costs $1,750. If my dog were to try to sleep on my $1,750 ottoman, I would shout, "Bad dog!" and whomp him on the head with a rolled-up news ... hey, I think I just came up with a terrific idea for the Gazette's circulation department.

From Stonewall Kitchen, we have old-fashioned maple syrup from ... uh, Maine. From the catalog: "Dip into a New England tradition with our locally tapped Maine Maple Syrup." This, as you know, perfectly complements another longtime New England table tradition: the famous Vermont lobster.

Dean & DeLuca of New York bring us their gingerbread house. "Our artisan bakers start with gingerbread cake layered with a vanilla bean butter cream then add edible windows!" The 6-inch-high gingerbread house costs $175, although the price drops to just $24.99 if you'll take the model that was made in China, where the "local artisans" (crying 8-year-old girls who haven't seen their families in three years) use enormous amounts of lead paint on the edible windows.

Dean & DeLuca also bring us a holiday goose for just $140. The catalog actually says this: "The goose is naturally raised by the Amish and Mennonites." On the downside, on Christmas Day, when everyone gathers at the table and you flick on the dining room lights (or turn on the TV), the Amish goose lets out a frightened honk, leaps off the table and flies to South America for the winter. And you've just been screwed out of $140.

Hammacher Schlemmer brings us "Genuine Elk Driving Moccasins." I, like you, had the obvious question: "Wouldn't his antlers get stuck in the sun visor?" Turns out, though, these are moccasins made of elk hide, which Hammacher Schlemmer says are comfortable on your feet during a long drive. I have a pair. They're great. On a two-week car trip in October, I stepped outside to stretch in Yellowstone, was savagely attacked by a wolf and lost four toes.

The Hammacher folks also offer "The Best Squirrel-Resistant Bird Feeder." It costs $134. Here's how it works: "It thwarts squirrels with a weight-triggered spinning circular perch powered by a motor, flipping the would-be thieves aside before they can steal the seed." The photo shows a squirrel being launched from the spinning feeder above the photo caption, "Spins to gently remove squirrels." As a bonus, the spinning feeder comes with a heavy metal mounting pole that can be used for other tasks, too.

Like prying open the jaws of your Rottweiler, Thor, when you decide he's had enough play time with the dizzy squirrel.

Listen to Rich Tosches each Thursday at 8 a.m. on the Darren and Koba Show on MY99.9. Reach him at

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