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Jewish Journal

A wish list of guilty pleasures and goofy gifts

by Shoshana Lewin-Fischer

December 7, 2006 | 7:00 pm

We've all been there.

You go to the store, turn on the TV or pick up a catalogue and see something incredibly silly that you never in a million years would buy for yourself (it's also called a "guilty pleasure"). But you can always say you are buying it for someone else. So in the grand tradition of the Pet Rock, the Moses action figure and the snow cone machine, The Journal presents the Chanukah gifts you really want but won't admit it.

Just when you thought Barbie has done it all ... the blonde anatomical wonder now comes with Tickle Me Elmo Extreme (TMX) in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the beloved "Sesame Street" character. The 12-inch doll, wearing an oh-so-trendy TMX Elmo shirt, is joined by a knee-high version of the huggable red monster that giggles when you press his belly.

If Elmo isn't your thing, why not Barbie with a dog -- a soft, fuzzy pooch named Tanner that does everything a real dog should, everything. We shouldn't give away too much ... but this Barbie comes with a minimagnetic scooper!

And if Tanner gets lonely, you can buy her Mika the cat, owned by Barbie's gal-pal, Theresa. The feline (and her owner) come with bowl, toys and -- I think you know where this is going -- a litter box that Theresa gets to clean. Something tells us that this isn't quite what creator Ruth Handler had in mind.

Each Mattel doll will run you $19.99.

Attention closet Fanilows: This one's for you. "Copacabana" king Barry Manilow pays homage to the "classics" in "The Greatest Songs of the Sixties." The follow-up to his "Greatest Songs of the Fifties" includes renditions of "Cherish"/"Windy" (with The Association), the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and the Beatles' ballad, "And I Love Her." We don't think these are all the "greatest" hits -- but it's sure close. And if you are itching for some authentic Manilow, rumor has it that when you play "Blue Velvet" backward, it sounds like "Mandy."

Arista, $18.98 on CD (but a lot of online stores have it on sale).

Minsk and Pinsk. Just try to say the words out loud without smiling. See, it's funny because they sound alike -- "The Big Book of Jewish Humor" says so. The 25th anniversary of the Jewish humor canon, by William Novak and Moshe Waldoks, doesn't just offer jokes, it gives the methods behind the shtick with the help of some of the biggest names in Jewish humor, through clever cartoons, famous one-liners and stories you just have to use your hands to tell. Why can we make fun of ourselves when others can't? Because nobody does it better.

(Collins, $24.95) Available in bookstores -- probably in a front display marked "Chanukah," next to the blue-and-white wrapping paper.

You've seen 'em hang with Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats and Snow White ... now come see the team built by Abe Saperstein for yourself. What? You've never heard of Abe Saperstein! How about the Harlem Globetrotters?

One of the best-known franchises in the world has been around since 1927, and they're coming to L.A. Monday, Feb. 19, for a night of laughs and lay-ups. While you won't find Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Goose Tatum, Marques Haynes or "Sweet" Lou Dunbar at the game, we dare you to not start whistling "Sweet Georgia Brown."

Staples Center at 1 p.m. on President's Day. $16-$135. Ticketmaster.com.

They say dogs sometimes look like their owners -- so how about you, your honey, your baby and Fido get matching T-shirts for a good cause? Friends of Pups for Peace sells the cutie couture, whose proceeds will help stop terrorism around the world by training dogs to sniff out the bad guys. The pups logo comes on tank tops, long sleeve tees, sweatshirts, ties and hoodies -- as well as doggie bowls. So you'll look cute and do a mitzvah.

1-800-699-8930, www.pupsforpeace.org.

X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk. You've seen the movies, you've read the comics, you've dressed up and acted out their fight scenes in your backyard (don't try to deny it). Now Stan Lee, the man behind Marvel Comics, and Rob Thomas, Lee's assistant editor, let fans see -- and hear -- how it all began in the coffee table book, "The Amazing Marvel Universe." Throw in the added scoop of "Marvel vs. DC" and the "Women of Marvel" and it's an out-of-this-world present. And because it comes in such a cool display case, you can take off that mask when you read it and let your true identity shine through.

$50. $75, if you are an evil genius hell-bent on taking over the world.

You know you loved them the first time, as much as you try to deny it. Now all that e-mail campaigning has paid off, and they are out on DVD, to be enjoyed all over again. Judy Graubart and friends on "The Best of The Electric Company, Volume 2" remind us all that grammar is fun ($39.98); "Northern Exposure -- The Complete Fifth Season" features the episode where Dr. Fleischman's parents come to Cicely for the first time ($59.98); Blanche discovers her Jewish roots (Did I mention her name was Feldman?) in "The Golden Girls -- The Complete Sixth Season" ($39.99); and the awesomest '90s show around, "Beverly Hills, 90210 -- The Complete First Season," taught us two things: They went to West Beverly, and her name is pronounced Ahn-drea ($54.99).

Not sure if they are supposed to be Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero's favorites or our favorites, but "Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites" is just too unique to resist. The "Where the Boys Are" chanteuse puts her vocal chords to a dozen songs, including "Hava Negilah," "My Yiddishe Momme" and "Tzena Tzena." Believe it or not, the album hit No. 69 on the Billboard charts (it was 1961, but still). So maybe the boys were at the deli knocking back a few egg creams.

$19.99. www.thejewishsource.com.

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