Excess may be wretched, but that doesn't stop us from wanting to consider its overblown possibilities. Call it a guilty pleasure.
In that spirit and given the season, behold the annual holiday Neiman Marcus gift guide and the Robb Report gift list as the arbiters of the perfect florid present. The Robb Report magazine's logo is "For the affluent lifestyle," and for 10 years, the December issue has included "The ultimate gift guide."
"After all, someone has to take on the challenge of gathering together on an annual basis those items created without compromise, which make no apologies for simply being the best," writes Robert R. Feeman in his editor's column.
The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book rings in the holiday season each year with gifts from the fantastic to the, well, fantastic. Each year, the upper middle class and assorted aspirants and wags eagerly await the catalog to see what the over-the-top gift of the year is. The catalogs (there are two Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogs) include gifts under $25, but who looks at those?
From the Robb Report
* The $100,000 Solitaire Royal fountain pen. The pen, by Mont Blanc, is studded with 4,200 diamonds and made of 18 karat gold. The diamonds form a smooth surface due to a technique that takes nine months to complete.
Wouldn't you just hate it if someone borrowed this baby and forgot to return it?
* The $400,000 Sega AS-1 motion simulator. "Trekkies" who have always dreamed of soaring on the Starship Enterprise will probably swoon over this motion simulator. Eight people can rock and roll in this "entertainment pod" while high speed images flash before their eyes.
Of course, the bill for this expensive toy might bring on a touch of motion sickness.
* A $150,000 to $200,000 reproduction of . . . YOU! AVG Inc. of Valencia, Calif., will create a standing or sitting robot that's a life-sized, walking, talking creation of your own spitting image. It can be programmed to simulate your facial movements and to "speak" phrases spontaneously or at your command.
An idea: Dress it up in a favorite outfit, plop it down at your desk, program it to say, "Yes, boss. I'll have it for you next week."
Then spend the next seven days lolling on a Florida beach.
* A $20 million Fantastic Park.
Love Disney World but hate the crowds? No problem! Have a theme park built in the family back yard. If there are a spare eight to 10 acres around the old homestead, the McBride Company will design an amusement park according to your specifications.
The park includes a racing village, roller coasters and a virtual reality center.
But children being children, after a few weeks of frolicking, what do you want to bet they will still look you in the eye and with straight faces whine, "There's nothing to dooooooo!"
From the Neiman Marcus 1993 Christmas Book:
1993 Christmas Book
* A $65,000 to $100,000 train set. The "miniature outdoor railway universe" is individually designed and landscaped. The theme of this G-scale Huff & Puff Garden Railway universe can be a historical park or any fantasy imaginable. Add tiny people, animals, mountains, buildings, whatever.
Calling this just a train set, though, is like lumping Yugos and Jaguars under the heading "cars."
* A $93,000 Triceratops and $63,000 Baby Tyrannosaurus. These are dinosaurs (for those not in the know -- or for those who missed "Jurassic Park.") These "robotic reptiles" from Dinamation stand 6 foot 8 inches high and 12 foot 10 inches long (the Triceratops) and 6 foot 1 inches high and 8 foot 4 inches long (the baby.) Computers make their tails move, eyes dart back and forth and mouths open and shut. The same computer will have them growling dinosaurlike.
Placed in the front yard, they can be a most effective way of getting ridof unwanted guests.
* A $75,000 electric car. Described as "the ideal second car," the fiery red convertible can accelerate up to 80 miles per hour. At night, park it, plug it in for a few hours and it's ready to zoom around town again sans the pollution of gas-guzzling cars.
Perfect for that environmentally and politically correct yuppie who still gets off on traveling in the fast lane.
* A $150,000 Flarecraft. Is it a boat? Is it a plane? It's sort of a hybrid of both. The four-seater craft can skim the water like a boat at speeds up to 50 mph. Or it can fly up to 6 feet in the air. Naturally, it's equipped with the latest in computerized navigational technology.
A tres chic way to commute to the Eastern Shore but -- "Flarecraft?" Definitely worthy of a spiffier name.
Santa Claus is coming to town. And to the mall. and to other shopping centers near you. We made a list(and checked it twice) locations and times where the Jolly One will take requests from kids both naughty and nice, its on page 9E.
By dialing Sunfax at (41O) 332-6123 and entering the code 5353,you can receive a free fax copy of the list.