Opinion: Stinging commentary

Commentary by Dick Wolfsie

The newest edition of the “Hammacher Schlemmer” gift catalog is packed with previously advertised items they still can’t unload (which I have probably made fun of in past columns) along with some brand new items I am about to skewer.

This spring’s catalog cover features a Hypnotic Jellyfish Aquarium. It contains “two synthetic jellyfish that provide mesmerizing ambience.” That doesn’t seem like it would be soothing. Live jellyfish use their tentacles to defend against predators by emitting deadly toxins in a painful sting. Maybe they used leftover copy for last year’s flop, the Teddy Bear Aquarium.

The customary introductory letter from their chairman, John McArthur, welcomes you to his world of unique products. Although Mr. McArthur does not have a gift for writing, he makes upfor it with about 200 gifts in other areas, like inside the magazine. He reveals his favorite items: The Mosquito Zapping Light Bulb (page 10) and the Flameless Candle Lighter (page 55) — except those nifty products are not on those pages. If HS can’t get its stuff on the right pages, how can they get your stuff delivered to the right doorstep?

Hammacher reveals its obsession with mosquitos by offering seven items specifically for the purpose of avoiding bug bites, including the Mosquito Defeating Sports Chair ($79.95).

An attractive couple sits next to each other in their respective chairs, enclosed head-to-toe in netting. HS apparently borrowed this sexy marketing idea from the Cialis commercials. Not nearly as romantic as side-by-side outdoor bathtubs, but it does make a lot more sense than outdoor bathtubs. On a positive note, wearing protection always sets a good example.

If you need a gift for the dog that has everything, the Anti Ant Moated Bowl stops invasions of “kibble-craving ants.” The bowl has a moat surrounding the food. What a waste of money! It takes most dogs less than 20 seconds to snarf down their meals. Even if ants had cellphones, they couldn’t spread the word that fast.

Finally, The Suction-Powered Sinus Decongestor, which removes congestion by flushing a saline rinse through one nostril, then out the other. It’s perfect for anyone with breathing problems. It could also be used to drown ants.