More Dogs on Main Street |

More Dogs on Main Street

Tom Clyde, Record columnist

Though you’d hardly know it by looking outside, Christmas is barreling down on us, fast. Because the ski season got off to a slow start, I was able to get most of my Christmas stuff done early. I might be able to avoid that last week of wandering around shopping centers dazed and confused. It will be an interesting change. The big question on Christmas shopping this year is whether Americans will keep spending. Between $3 gas and the constant news about mortgage problems, there is some concern that the consumer has finally been fully drained of spare cash. A slow retail season will just add to the general slowness. It may put the economy in a ditch. Depending on the pundit talking, we are on the brink of an economic collapse that will make the Great Depression look like a kid’s birthday party, or not. Nobody knows, but apparently the fate of the world depends entirely on whether you buy a new flat-panel TV this year. I trust you will do the right thing, and get two.

I did more of my shopping online this year than ever. Partly that was a result of having spent Thanksgiving with my sister’s family. She has 11 grandchildren – precious little angels, every one. But each little nose was snottier than the one before, and through the course of the long weekend the kitchen became a regular virus buffet. Whatever biological weapons we were looking for in Iraq, they couldn’t hold a candle to what got sneezed into the chips and salsa. There were men in hazmat suits standing by. The older kids are in school and distributed whatever is going around in several school districts. The toddlers might as well have been radioactive. So by the time they went home, I was knocked out flat with everything from restless leg syndrome to Bird Flu. One nasty virus at a time is bad enough. I had a delightful cocktail of bugs. It’s a scientific fact that a 3-year-old can produce twice his body weight in snot every day without running a fever. I’m over it now, just in time to do it all again on Christmas.

So between fevers and chills, I hit the Internet and got Christmas wrestled into submission.

There were some interesting gift items out there. One popular gift is the "Hillary Clinton Nutcracker." The 10-inch plastic action figure comes dressed in a stylish pant suit and features stainless-steel thighs for cracking the hardest of nuts. They are widely available from many dealers for prices between $20 and $30. One can assume it is made from the highest quality Chinese plastic and lead paint. The manufacturer says the next model will be the Ann Coulter nutcracker, because if anybody knows nuts, it’s Ann Coulter. There is an official Hillary Nutcracker Web site, with T-shirts, a Hillary nutcracker song, and a collection of souvenir photos. (In related news, Bill Clinton announced this week that he would not attend Hillary’s Cabinet meetings unless she invited him.)

After the last six years, it’s hard to imagine there are still people out there who admit to being Republicans, or that you would still have such people on your gift list. But if you are in a position where you have to give a gift to a Republican to maintain domestic peace, you can’t go wrong with the "Senator Larry Craig Talking Action Figure." Nothing celebrates the party of family values better than the poster child of airport toilet sex. The Larry Craig action figure would go nicely with last season’s hit from the Congressional page scandal, the Representative Mark Foley action figure. Why not complete the set with the Rev. Ted Haggard action figure?

The Larry Craig action figures have sold out everywhere. There’s a secondary market for them at considerable markups on eBay. The action figure shows Larry Craig’s head attached to a very muscular super-hero action-figure body (which appears to be the generic body to which various heads are attached, including a pencil-necked Barack Obama). The action figure takes a very wide stance and proudly announces that he is not gay, never has been. Especially not in the Minneapolis airport bathroom.

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A company called Hero will custom-make your own action figure. All you need to do is send a photo, indicate the scene or costuming, and they will crank one out for you. Imagine having a full set of plastic action figures of the Utah Congressional delegation. Come to think of it, that’s kind of what we have back in Washington right now.

I searched all over for a Mitt Romney weather vane, but couldn’t find one.

I think the most popular item will be the flying monkeys. I first saw these at a party where people were shooting flying monkeys across the Heber Bowling Alley. The monkey’s hands have little straps that fit over your fingers. Then you pull back on its legs and tail, stretching the rubber bands inside. When you release, the monkey takes off, soaring across the room while making a frightening screech sound. This is a perfect gift for anybody on your list who has been confined to a cubicle at work. What office atmosphere couldn’t be improved by a midafternoon attack of flying monkeys?

One item I found very strange was a modern farm play set. They crank out the old-fashioned farm play sets, with majestic dairy barns with happy free-range cows and lovely Midwestern-looking farmhouses. But right there in the middle of the toys was a modern "hog confinement" play set. In other words, a model factory pig farm. It included a regiment of pigs in different sizes, all lined up like soldiers on review, four sows with piglets nursing, and a sheet metal building without windows. The 40-acre sewage lagoon was not included. There is a farmer carrying two buckets of unknown contents. I’m not sure what kind of child would enjoy playing with a model hog confinement farm set, but it sounds like something from the "Addams Family."

Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for nearly 20 years.