The Ultimate Cool & Strange Christmas Catalogue 2005

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Thanksgiving is over and now you are faced with the ultimate annual chore: Buying Christmas presents. This ritual is usually like voting for president; you pick the least of two evils. But fear not! For today I have lined up a quick list of several very cool items that anyone would be proud to give and even more excited to receive.

Buying an important gift for that special someone requires time and thought. But who has enough of either one nowadays? The items I have listed here are definitely not your run-of-the-mill Christmas bought-at-the-last-minute-junk. This stuff is world class. So if you are serious about buying a Christmas present that will never be forgotten, then you have found the right place. Even if you are not in the market for a "Holy-Toledo!" type of present, I promise you that a gander at today’s items will make you drool for more.

Shopping through today’s article will show you some of the hottest items going today and, if you do buy through the links provided, you also can help out Lew as LRC gets a small finder’s fee. So you can help out the cause and cut out the middleman all the while saving gas, money and time — All at the same time!

Apple 60 GB iPod with Video Playback Black
List Price: $399.99 On Sale Now: $399.00 You Save $0.99 and get Free Shipping!

Well, last year it was iPod Internet radio broadcasting. Next year here comes Internet iPod video casting. It’s the beginning of the end of major corporation mass media television. You might as well get in on the ground floor with the one item that will most certainly be the most sought-after piece of equipment for the next two or three years. This is it.

Earlier in 2005 I was asked by a Japanese magazine to write a review of iPods. I’ve checked just about all of them out. Trust me here, folks, if you are going to buy one of these devices, you’d be wise to "go Cadillac": this is the one you want.

Better Yet

It’s time for the world’s best music player to take the stage for another encore. In a 60 GB model that hold up to 15,000 songs, full-color album art and up to 25,000 photos, the new iPod makes the most of your music and more. Yeah, you’ve heard that tune before. Only now, you can watch it, too. With support for up to 150 hours of video and a 2.5-inch color display, the new iPod lets you take music videos and TV shows on the road.

More and Less

The new iPod boasts up to 20 hours of battery life, five hours more than before. Plus, you get a bigger display and one more iPod color — sleek black. But here’s the kicker: The new 60 GB model is 10 percent thinner than the fourth-generation 20 GB iPod. More features in less space? Sounds like iPod.

The new iPod is thinner than ever before.

Hold Everything

Now you can put all your music in your pocket and still have room for, well, practically everything else. Catch up on your reading with audiobooks. Browse your memories with photo slideshows, complete with music. Watch video podcasts, music videos and your favorite TV shows. Consult your calendar or look up an email address. Even check the time in another city or time your fastest lap. The new iPod keeps it all close at hand.

Spin Some Tunes

The Apple Click Wheel gives you access to your entire music, photo and video library — from one thumb. Control volume and browse using the touch-sensitive surface. Play. Pause. Rewind and fast-forward. Rate your favorites. Create playlists on the go. Launch photo slideshows. The Click Wheel puts everything at your fingertips, so you can keep your eyes and ears on the music.

Sync, Look, and Listen

Playing your iPod is only half the fun. Try filling it with downloads from the iTunes Music Store. Choose from over 2 million songs, 20,000 podcasts, 2,000 music videos or your favorite ABC and Disney television shows, download them to your Mac or PC and sync them to your iPod. Add an optional audio cable to play music from the iPod to your home stereo or use an optional S-video cable with iPod to play VJ on your TV. You can perform the same big-screen feat with iPod photo slideshows. Oh, and you can do it all from across the room using the optional Universal Dock and handy new Apple remote.

YOUniverse Amazing Money Jar
Price: $12.99

I wrote a while back about how to teach small children the value of saving money. Since then, I’ve had many people asking which Piggy Bank was best. Well, I actually think that if you can find a heavy duty large plastic jug and cut a hole in the top, that would do fine — but perhaps that would be a tad bit tacky as a Christmas present (Imagine the grandkids’ faces when they see crazy old uncle Mike giving them a used plastic jug. Well, actually, I would do that, but maybe not at Christmas time.) It used to be that people gave kids Piggy Banks for presents. I think it’s high time we bring back that good old custom. And here’s the best bank I could find.

The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set — C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (Illustrator) [Box Set]
List Price: $45.00 On Sale Now: $28.77 You Save $16.23 (36%) and get Free Shipping!

Besides giving small children the Piggy bank above, they’ll also need this: Hey folks, forget Harry Potter. This is what you want your kids to read!

From Amazon: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the very few sets of books that should be read three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope.

Epson Moviemate 25 Projector DVD & Music Player Combo
List Price: $1,399.99 On Sale Now: $1,2151.14 You Save $148.85 (11%) and get Free Shipping!

I’m a DVD player holdout. I mean I have a DVD player on my computer, but what fun is watching movies in front of a computer? None, if you ask me. I wanna sprawl out on the floor or slouch on the couch and eat popcorn and watch movies with my family and friends. So. I haven’t bought a player yet; and I didn’t intend to, until I saw this. Now, this and the next one will give you a space aged home theater system that will blow everyone’s mind!

Product Description:

The Epson MovieMate® 25 takes home entertainment to the next level, combining a portable, high quality projector, a CD/DVD player and speakers all in one simple unit. Achieve a widescreen performance anywhere — in the living room, your neighbor’s, or show movies outside on the garage or side of the house for an outdoor cinema. Enjoy watching DVDs, displaying digital images or larger-than-life video games and sporting events, or even listen to your favorite CDs. Just plug in the Epson MovieMate 25 and let the show begin! There are no video or audio cables to connect, so you’re up and running in no time. And, with offset lens shift functionality, you get crystal clear images no matter where you set it up. Project an 80″ image from just 6.6′ away. Epson 3LCD technology ensures true, continuous color and exceptional detail that’s sure to wow your audience. Plus, with 1200 ANSI lumens, it’s bright enough for inside daylight viewing. The Epson MovieMate 25 comes with a two-year warranty. It also includes a powerful external subwoofer, plus an 80″ pull-up floor screen that rolls into a compact carrying case.

Yamaha YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector
List Price: $899.95 On Sale Now: $799.99 You Save $99.96 (11%) and get Free Shipping!

Product Description:

Yamaha YSP-800BL Black Digital Sound Projector provides true Multi-channel surround sound enjoyment from a single component with IntelliBeam auto setup! A perfect match for 32″ and other video displays. No need for extra wiring or speakers. A wider range of optimum listening positions thanks to the proliferation of audio “sweet spots”. The YSP-800 can be wall-mounted (with optional SPM-K8 wall mount) or placed on a shelf or rack. The design is more elegant and less obtrusive than multiple speaker boxes. There is no need for numerous speakers and cables. IntelliBeam Automated Calibration System automatically sets up the product for your room. It ensures optimum multi-channel sound reproduction with accurate image location by monitoring and analyzing the sound with the microphone included with the system. Intellibeam automatically sets the best beam angles and modes, while optimizing the level and frequency response of each beam. This makes initial setup extremely simple while acoustically perfect. Manual setup is also possible. The YSP-800 features 3 Cinema DSP Programs, Dolby Digital and DTS sound formats. The original Yamaha Digital Amplifier provides 2W each to the 21 beam drivers and 20W each to two woofers. A total of 82W of power. The advanced digital design is highly efficient and keeps distortion to an absolute minimum. The YSP-800 also features On-Screen display, 0.1W standby Power Consumption, and a preset remote control. It features 21 1-5/8″ drivers and 2 3-15/16″ woofers.

Alfred Hitchcock — The Masterpiece Collection DVD Box Set
List Price: $119.98 On Sale Now: $89.99 You Save $29.99 (25%) and get Free Shipping!

Well, I guess with this new-fangled awesome home theater system, you are gonna need some fantastic ammunition to keep the troops happy. Here you go!

14 of the finest works from the universally acclaimed Master of Suspense come together for the first time in one collection. These captivating landmark films boast three decades of Hollywood legends, including James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Anthony Perkins, Sean Connery and Doris Day. The premium packaging and collectible book make Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection the must-own, definitive anthology of gripping works by a true genius.

With 14 films, each supplemented with numerous documentaries, commentaries, and other bonus materials, Alfred Hitchcock — The Masterpiece Collection will be the cornerstone for any serious DVD library. Packaged in a beautiful, conversation-starting velvet box, the individual discs inside come four to a case, decorated with original poster art.

No doubt opinionated fans will argue about what should fall under the rubric of “masterpiece” in Hitchcock’s body of work, but with the bona fide classics Vertigo, Psycho, and The Man Who Knew Too Much, there’s plenty of timeless movie magic here. Eye-popping transfers and gorgeous sound make this set one of the must-have releases of the year.

Should the Hitchcock fan have the energy for more after imbibing on the movies themselves, a bonus disc provides additional documentaries. These include a revealing interview in which the master of suspense discusses, among other things, how much he dislikes working with method actors, going so far as to name names (we’re talking about you, Jimmy Stewart and Montgomery Clift). In an American Film Institute lifetime achievement ceremony, the master of suspense is praised by the likes of Stewart and Ingrid Bergman, and seems to be suffering from severe boredom as celebrities pile on the flattery. Then Hitchcock opens his mouth to accept the award, delivering an endlessly witty stream of perfect bon mots that prove once again that he was a master of high comedy as well. Revealing documentaries about the making of Psycho and The Birds round out the feast of extras. The 36-page booklet, filled mostly with stills and poster art, provides little new information about the films. — Ryan Boudinot

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vols. 1-3 DVD ~ Harold Lloyd
List Price: $89.85 On Sale Now: $62.89 You Save $26.96 (30%) and get Free Shipping!

Harold Lloyd appeared in more than 200 silent movies and would be very well known face to everyone today excepting that he was eclipsed by Charlie Chaplin — Let’s face it, for amount of work and length of career, Charlie is an impossible act to beat. But in his short silent career, Harold Lloyd made some of comedy’s greatest moments. Watch this stuff and you see where people like Woody Allen stole all their jokes. Harold Lloyd is spectacular and awe-inspiring.

And this box set is really special as all feature films and shorts are full frame versions and the quality is tops! Fine work here folks.

The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset — DVD Box Set
List Price: $199.95 On Sale Now: $110.97 You Save $88.98 (45%) and get Free Shipping!

Editorial Reviews:

New for 2005, The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset packs together the original 14-DVD megaset with the two-disc Monty Python Live in space-saving Thinpaks. While more cautious fans may want to pick and choose among the previously released individual volumes of Monty Python for their collection, true Pythonites will want to own this definitive megaset that contains all 45 episodes (in chronological order) of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. This “persistently silly” collection encompasses three-and-a-half seasons of dead parrots, cross-dressing lumberjacks, loonies, upper class twits, and spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, and spam. Click past the occasional clunker and go directly to such signature sketches as the Ministry of Silly Walks, the Spanish Inquisition, the Fish-Slapping Dance, the Dead Parrot Sketch, the Lumberjack Song, the Cheese Shop, the Argument Clinic, and Nudge, Nudge. Taken as a whole, one marvels at how Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam thoroughly subverted television convention with “something completely different,” like sketches with no punch lines (“Your average TV viewer isn’t going to understand this”). A warning to the uninitiated: there is much “material that some may find offensive, but which is really smashing.” Violations of something called the “Strange Sketch Act” are the least of the troupe’s offenses, as witness the Oscar Wilde Sketch, the Dirty Vicar Sketch, and the Most Awful Family in Britain Sketch, all of which achieve “the really gross awfulness” all Python fans are looking for. Say no more.

This unassuming case is packed with 16 tons of funny: 14 discs of MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS, packed with every episode from the program’s four year run, plus 2 MONTY PYTHON LIVE! discs featuring — well, you figure it out. While to the uninitiated they may look like ordinary .65 oz. digital video discs, due to the unique physics of comedy (it’s like quantum but with fewer dead cats), each disc actually weighs a full metaphoric ton! Please remember to lift with your knees.

Nostalgia Electrics CCP509 Full-Size Popcorn Popper by Bond Helman
List Price: $399.99 On Sale Now: $305.59 You Save $94.40 (24%) and get Free Shipping!

Well, if you have the above awesome home theater setup. You might as well go whole-hog and really blow people away! This addition will make your home the most happening place to watch classic cinema in the entire city! This is a replica of a full sized 1900’s model popcorn popper. Now these things usually run well over $1,000.00. This is a steal at $305.59!

Product Description:

Modeled after antique popcorn carts of the early 1900s, this full-sized popcorn cart pops up to 1-1/2 gallons of movie-house-quality popcorn per batch. Its large, stainless-steel kettle features dual-hinged lids, a built-in stirring system, and a kernel catcher to keep out unpopped kernels. The traditional hot-oil popper sits on top of a full-size working cart, which includes two 16-inch solid-core tires with gold-spoked wheels for easy maneuverability. There’s also a compartment in the base of the unit for storage and a supplies compartment to help keep the cart well stocked and looking tidy. Easy to use, easy to clean, and fun to watch, the popper makes for a nice addition to home theater rooms, game rooms, or parties, and is approved for commercial use.

Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Corn Popper
List Price: $24.99

Okay, okay! Maybe the replica is a bit much. But I’ll wager there are more than just a few folks reading this article who are just crazy enough about their kids or grandkids to go for one! I’m sure my wife would kill me if I bought one of those, but you gotta admit, it is awesomely Cool & Strange! In the meantime, for the rest of us mere mortals…Here’s the Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Corn Popper! Review:

Plug in the Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Corn Popper and the party begins. In less than 2-1/2 minutes you’ll have up to 18 cups — two large bowlfuls — of fluffy popcorn with virtually no unpopped kernels. And because the machine uses hot air instead of oil, the resulting snack is healthier and lower in calories. That’s not to say you can’t add butter; in fact, the 1/2-cup measuring cup on top of the popper doubles as a butter melter. Simply put in the desired amount of margarine or butter (room temperature is best), and it melts from the heat produced during the popping process. The clear plastic cover and cup, which must stay on during popping so the popped corn doesn’t fly all over the room, easily remove for hand cleaning with warm, soapy water. No other clean-up is required. While a few unpopped kernels spring out the chute as the machine begins to heats up, the chute does a good job of directing the popped corn into a bowl. The popper measures 14 by 9 by 6-1/2 inches, and is identical to Presto’s PopLite Hot Air Corn Popper except for color and logo. Presto covers the popper with a two-year warranty. — Ann Bieri Gift Certificate
Price: $5.00—$5,000.00

What do you buy for the person that has everything? Good question. I go through this problem every year. If you’ve waited too long to go out and look for that perfect present, then why throw money away buying that special someone something that they won’t like or won’t use? Here’s the perfect last-minute life-saver: Gift Certificates! You can purchase one at any amount and send it to your loved one so that they can spend it on what they really want. Romantic? No. Practical and smart? Very. gift certificates can be used to purchase almost anything in our store, including most items sold by Marketplace sellers and Amazon Merchants (except The Bombay Company, Circuit City, Eddie Bauer, Newport News, Nordstrom, Spiegel, and Ultimate Outlet Brands).

Well, folks, that’s it for Christmas for me this year. Of course you all know that the iPod listed first at the top of this article will be sold out very soon and the hottest item of this Christmas season (I recommended two iPods that were #1 & #2 last year) so don’t delay. I think this year, with the way the economy is going, you’d be much better off purchasing a few quality items than lots of junky items. That’s why this year’s list is full of heavy hitters. Like I said, anyone can be proud to give any of these gifts and anybody would be thrilled to receive them.

Save your time, stress, gasoline, and money by shopping the smart way: The on-line way that is the wave of the future.

Please use the links provided above to help out LRC and remember to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May God bless you and yours through the coming year

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.

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