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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 11:28 p.m.

Welcome to a super-early Thanksgiving, hence an early start to the shopping season.

This is a gift in itself compared to the election season (way too long) and the fiscal cliff season (dragging still).

Gifts are special, the pre-eminent consumer product you wouldn't buy for yourself but would for someone else, or hope someone else buys for you. There's a built-in mutuality.

Even gifts you wouldn't dream of giving or getting have their place, along the lines of “what will they think of next?”

Maybe you've seen brave souls riding around on a two-wheeled contraption like a lawn mower. Solowheel does this feat one better. Standing up, you straddle a single small tire. Gyro sensors and an electric motor keep the thing rolling, but an economy way to go this isn't. The price: $1,799.

This and other marvels were discovered during a long-distance airline flight while leafing through a seatback catalog, “SkyMall.”

You might have never thought, for instance, that for $169 a householder can “stun your neighbors and keep your garden free of all kinds of intruders.” All it takes is a crocodile, four feet long, made of plastic, and mechanical. It walks.

Or, if you're tired of shopping for carbonated beverages, you could “turn water into soda in seconds” at home with a $99 SodaStream machine.

In short, there are gifts for the lazy and energetic, the overweight and overworked, hunters, golfers, lovers, travelers and stay-at-homes, deep sleepers and tossers ‘n turners, big spenders and budgeters.

Human vanity moves mountains of merchandise. Somebody who's putting on a few pounds might well appreciate the thought behind an “Insta Slim” T-shirt ($24.95) designed to take five inches off anybody's silhouette.

Likewise for a “full head of hair in 30 seconds,” Toppik, at $21.95, scatters “thousands of color-matched hair fibers” across a scalp's thinning areas. Having to walk through a rough neighborhood might call for “Pick-pocket Proof Pants” at $89. But even cyberspace can't be trusted. Foil those “digital pickpockets” with a $64.95 RFID Security Wallet.

There must be nothing like “transcendental relaxation” at the end of a grueling day. Sogno DreamWave by Inada offers it — reclining in the “world's best massage chair,” merely $7,799.

Any old chair might do for watching sports on television. But for true fans can anything be as authentic as a matched pair of Yankee Stadium grandstand seats for $999? Especially if placed under a Major League Baseball “Parks Map” of the United States ($349). That comes with 30 small containers, one from each ballfield, of “game-used dirt.”

Family pets appreciate a gift no less than other people. For dogs and cats are all sorts of toys and beautifying, feeding, playing and napping appurtenances, even a snug-fitting shirt ($39.95) whose “gentle, constant pressure” relieves an animal's occasional bouts of “anxiety.”

Hundreds — thousands — of examples could be cited. What they add up to is one fact unequivocally clear about Thanksgiving 2012:

Whether catalog-driven, Internet-induced or Black Friday frenzied, there is no excuse this year for “not knowing what to buy!”

Jack Markowitz writes on Thursdays for Trib Total Media. Email him at

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