Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Humor Me: Neiman Marcus' Christmas Book

By MATT WIXON

The 2009 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book was unveiled a few days ago, and just in time. I mean, it's just three weeks until Halloween. And then we'll only have -- try not to panic -- less than two months to race from store to store, look for gifts and beg store owners to stop playing "Last Christmas" by Wham!

So what's in this year's book?

Well, keeping in mind the state of the economy, Neiman Marcus said it made an effort to offer more affordable options this year. That's why you'll find an electric motorcycle that goes 150 mph and costs $73,000.

I believe there's one out there with a little more power, but it would've been in the $90,000 to $100,000 range. That's just too pricey.

Anyway, the book is out there for you to check out. But I don't think most of the items compare to the 2007 book, which I "reviewed" for The Dallas Morning News. Here it is ...

OK everyone, let's get busy. We need to raise $1.59 million to fund one of Neiman's greatest offerings ever:

A private holiday concert by the world-famous Kirov Orchestra.

The concert features Regis Philbin as host, but more important, piano virtuoso Lola Astanova and maestro Valery Gergiew. I'm told they are incomparable and had nothing to do with "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

Yeah, $1.59 million is a little steep. But the concert is for 500 people, and if we divvy it up, that's only $3,180 per person. Pretty cheap when compared to some of the other gifts in the Christmas Book.

For example, you'll need $110,000 to have Brazilian artist Vik Muniz create a portrait of you and a friend in chocolate syrup. A lot more, I assume, if you decide it's clothing optional. You'll also need $75,000 for the cutting-edge robot and $73,000 for the mobile phone with 7.2 carats in diamonds.

Even the front-yard dragon topiary is ridiclously expensive. At least for a topiary. It's $35,000, and that doesn't include the legal fees you'll face when you receive this letter in the mail:

"The homeowners association has decided your 100-foot dragon with brown-glass eyes, custom-welded steel frame and gold-leafed horns doesn't abide by the neighborhood covenant."

I'm guessing the HOA also will have a problem if you store your $80,000 Papalotzin ultralight plane in your back yard. Maybe you could cover it with a pair of $9,500 Lippi Cat fur coats, but note that the coats might soon be recalled because they were manufactured in China.

So who buys these fantasy gifts?

Who knows, but the gifts are actually more practical than in the past. Back in 2003, the Christmas Book offered a $555,000 motorcycle so powerful that it was NEVER intended to be driven. Fantastic! I can save a few bucks by not buying a helmet.

In 2005, there was the $3.5 million skycar. Very cool, but there was a minor problem: the skycar was a prototype and had never completed an untethered flight.

Kind of a risky gift. And an inexcusable faux pas if that gift malfunctions while holding someone hundreds of feet in the air.

This year isn't as bad, although the $2 million rocket racing franchise, including a Mark-1 X-racer with 1,500 pounds of liquid oxygen thrust, is a little out there. So is the $1.4 million two-person submarine. But at least the submarine has leather seats, which is a nice upgrade from the cloth seats you find in most two-person subs.

The submarine also comes with a two-day training program, which I'm sure is more than enough time to learn how to operate it.

Hey, who wants to take the first deep dive with me? Don't worry, I'll bring the instructions!

I'll pass on that, but the private concert does sound great. I just need to round up 499 people who want to hear the Nutcracker Suite and the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto. Actually, 500 people, because I can't afford my share.

It's expensive, I know, but what an opportunity. The world-famous Kirov musicians will even allow us to select a third masterpiece for their performance.

That means, in one magical night, you can hear the Nutcracker Suite, the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."

Truly incomparable.

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