Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gift Giving Advice from Rick Kaempfer*

(Celebrity Snippets will return next Saturday to it's regularly scheduled time slot with a memorable story about Larry King. I'm pre-empting that feature to bring you this very special holiday announcement.)

I know you're busy shopping for presents, so I wanted to remind you of an inexpensive option for that special someone on your list. You're probably one step ahead of me here, but have you considered giving the book "$everance"as a gift?


1. The Writer's Guild is striking.
Everyone on your list is already starved for comedy—and $everance has been called "whiplash-fast choke-on-your-coffee funny" and "a brilliant satire." (And much more: Praise for $everance)

2. Christmas is for Children.

And I have three of them…who will be getting every dime that I make from this book. The littlest one (Sean) literally steals the money right out of my pockets. (And the Writer's Guild thinks they have problems).

3. It's only $16 if you buy it online from my publisher.
Look at your list again. Do you really want to spend more than $16 on most of those people? Give them $everance. They get to laugh. You save some cash.

I know what you're thinking, you've looked for $everance before, and it's hard to find in the stores, and it's…oh look….here's a direct link. (

Quick, click on the link before it's too late. It's like the Wii videogame system this year. When you find it, you gotta buy it. If you can't give it to someone you love (or don't love) as a gift, you can still make a fortune selling it on eBay. If not, at the very least it can level out that wobbly table in the basement (Simply place it under the slightly shorter table leg, and voila!)

I'd like to see the Wii do that.

*If you've already received this advice via e-mail, I apologize for the redundancy. I only have a few hundred e-mail addresses, and about 10,000 people read this blog every week. I'll officially stop hounding you now, and return you to the free entertainment I provide without advertising support or pledge drives. (hint, hint. sniff.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Suburban Man: 2007 Toy Guide

By Rick Kaempfer

When my kids handed me their Christmas lists this year, my mouth dropped open. After I regained my composure, I said what any sane parent (not named Rockefeller) would have said: "Sorry kids, Santa told me he's not bringing anything this year that costs more than $100."

"But Dad…"

But nothing. Don't tell Santa there isn't anything worthwhile out there for less than $100. We found a ton of gift ideas, and we don't even have Santa's extensive connections in the toy world.

Some of these toys are for girls, some are for boys, some are for younger kids, and some are for the "But Dad" crowd, but every single one of them costs less than a hundred dollars.

Ten Toys Under $50

(FatBrain, Suggested Retail price: $15)
This hand held quiz game is for kids 7 and up. It has all the features kids love in their handheld gizmos, including flashing lights and beeps, but it also clandestinely educates them (Quizmo answers 693,135 questions). Why isn't it for kids under 7? It doesn't answer their favorite question: "Why?"
Quizmo is available at Smarti Pants Toys in Highland.

Cranium Zooreeka

(Cranium, Suggested Retail price: $17.99)
In our family we've always found the Cranium games to be a step above the other games on the market. Cranium's latest effort, Zooreeka, was voted the Best Game of the Year at the 2007 Toy Fair, and it's easy to see why. It's perfect for kids who have trouble maintaining their own habitats.
Zooreeka is available at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and Target.

Cranium Sounds of the Seashore

(Cranium, Suggested Retail price: $17.99)
This is a Cranium game for little kids (3 and up). It's a matching and memory game featuring the sights and sounds of the sea. It's just the thing for America's global warming generation.
Sounds of the Seashore is available at Toys R Us and Target.

Hannah Montana Singing Doll
(Disney, Suggested Retail Price: $29.99)
If you have a daughter, you know all about Disney Channel's biggest attraction: Hannah Montana. This Hannah doll even sings her hit song "Best of Both Worlds." Ear plugs for parents not included.
Hannah Montana Singing Doll is available at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart & Target for around $20.

Rubik's Revolution

(Sevens Town Ltd, Suggested Retail Price: $34.95)
The makers of the original Rubik's Cube have come out with a new handheld electronic version of the cube that has six built-in-games (and no cubes to turn). It's also not quite as challenging as the original because it's aimed at 5-10 year olds, but that just means that the rest of us have a chance this time.
Rubik's Revolution is available at Toys R Us and Target (for around $20).

Motion Detector

(Snap Circuits, Suggested Retail Price: $21.95)
This motion detector is aimed at the 8-10 year old crowd. It's a Snap Circuits toy, which means it must be assembled, but it's really not that difficult. And once it's assembled, anyone who walks in front of it is greeted with the sound of a laser and a flashing red light. Unlimited fun for families with cats and dogs.
Motion Detector is available at Smarti Pants Toyz in Highland

Bathtub Car Wash
(Alex Toys, Suggested Retail Price: $25.00)
Finally a bath toy that actually makes sense. This toy has received the National Parenting Seal of Approval. It comes with little washable cars, and a squeegee that needs to be filled with liquid soap. It's virtually impossible for a child to play with this toy without getting clean.
Bathtub Car Wash is available at Smarti Pants Toyz in Highland.

Barbie Chat Diva

(Mattel, Suggested Retail Price: $29.95)
The most realistic Barbie on the market. This one talks on the cell phone all day.
Barbie Chat Diva is available at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart & Target.

TMX Elmo
(Fisher Price, Suggested Retail Price: $39.99)
Winner of the "Best Toy of the Year" award at the 2007 Toy Fair, it's similar to the earlier 'must have' Tickle Me Elmo. This one, however, performs new tricks when he's tickled, including falling over on his side, shimmying on his back, and lying on his belly and slapping the floor next to him.
TMX Elmo is available at Toys R Us and Target.

EyeClops Bionic Eye
(Jakks Pacific, Suggested Retail Price: $49.99)
Point the eye at anything and it magnifies it by 200 times, displaying the image on your television screen. Kids will be amazed by close up looks at things like hair and salt, and will be grounded if they try to get a close up look at dad's bald spot.
EyeClops Bionic Eye is available at Toys R Us and Wal-Mart.

Five Toys Under $100

Fold 2 Go Trike
(Radio Flyer, Suggested Retail Price: $99.99)
Winner of the "Best Outdoor Toy" award at the Toy Fair 2007, this is a tricycle that comes completely assembled (my prayers have been answered!). It folds up, is made of sturdy steel, has real rubber tires, and can handle any terrain. Did I mention it comes assembled?
Fold 2 Go Trike is available at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart & Target at prices ranging from $39.99 to $64.95.

Kid Tough Digital Camera

(Fisher Price, Suggested Retail Price: $69.99)
An actual functioning digital camera with 1.6 inch color display, built for little hands, and much, much, more durable than a grown up digital camera. It was chosen as the best electronic/entertainment toy at the 2007 Toy Fair. It comes in both pink and blue, and is the perfect present for a little brother or sister who can't fight back without incriminating photos.
Kid Tough Digital Camera is available at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and Target at prices ranging from $49.99 to $64.99.

LEGO Creator Monster Dino
(LEGO, Suggested Retail Price: $89.99)
The Dino LEGO has batteries, motors, remote controls, censors, and easy to follow instructions. He can walk, move his head, and roar. Engineering degree not included.
LEGO Creator Monster Dino is available at Toys R Us and Target. Alsip Nursery in Frankfort and St. John also carries Legos products.

Smart Cycle
(Fisher Price, Suggested Retail Price: $99.99)
This toy was featured on the Today show a few months ago. The smart cycle is a child-sized stationary bike for 3-6 year old kids. Simply plug the jack into the TV, insert the software cartridge, and voila, your child is riding in a video game. Instead of turning his brain to mush, however, this video game forces him to exercise.
The Smart Cycle is available at Toys R Us and Target.

Spy Video Car
(Wild Planet, Suggested Retail Price: $174.99)
Winner of the "Best Toy for Boys" award at the 2007 Toy Fair, the Spy Video Car has an infrared night-vision video camera attached to it's front bumper. When the child puts on the special spy goggles, he or she can see what the camera sees. It works indoors and out, daytime and night, has a range of 75-feet, and almost certainly will see something it's not supposed to see.
Despite the suggested retail price, Spy Video Car was available at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and Target for less than $100 at press time.

Aren't we forgetting something?

You might have noticed that we've mentioned several award winning toys, including the winner for "Best Toy", "Best Outdoor Toy," "Best Game", "Best Entertainment/Electronic Toy," and the "Best Toy for Boys."

What about "Best Toy For Girls?"

You might not be surprised to learn that the "Best Toy for Girls" (FuReal Friends Butterscotch Pony) doesn't qualify thanks to Santa's "Under $100" rule this year. It retails for $299.99. We only mention it now because we know the truth. Dads are suckers for their little girls. (They have it at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Target, Dad.)

We'll even give you a free rationalization. It's cheaper than a real pony.

This article appears in the Nov/Dec issue of NWI Parent Magazine. There's another piece of mine in the same issue.

Also, check out my blog at NWI Parent. It's called "Father Knows Nothing"