Strange packages. High anxiety. Low-grade terror. Its holiday shopping time again, with us as your guides


Everyone knows the Israelis are the baddest mensches on the block; now let them teach you the secrets that allow their defense forces to kick ass six ways to Sabbath. It's called Krav Maga and though we're not sure what that means—likely the sound would-be assailants make when their one good eye is shown the eye just scooped from its skull hole—we're sure you'll love it's commonsense approach to self-defense. Forget that Karate Kid wax on, wax off hooey, Krav Maga is totally, ruthlessly utilitarian. It's about turning doughy devotees into groin-grabbing, face-punching, groin-kicking, bear-hugging, groin-punching, choke-holding, groin-slapping, eye-gouging, groin-holding, groin-choking, groin-gouging machines. Krav Maga isn't one martial arts; it's all of them melded with a bar fight, The Jerry Springer Show and Saturday night at the Kennedy compound. At the highest levels, students are taught to handle hostage situations and military techniques for covert debilitation and assassination (you may be asked to provide your own poison umbrella.) So kick it! Krav Maga, that is. You'll be groin you did! Jewish Federation Campus, 250 Baker St., Costa Mesa, (714) 755-5555; Martial Arts Training Center of Seal Beach, 1017 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Seal Beach, (562) 598-2004.


What better gift for the white-collar executive in your home than the security of Talon Executive Services Inc. Founded in 1994 by former agents of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, Talon is comprised largely of personnel with experience in federal law enforcement. If you're in the upper ranks of a big corporation, you may have more enemies than you know—and you probably know a lot of enemies. Talon offers corporate-executive protection, workplace-violence prevention and threat assessment, electronic surveillance countermeasures, forensic investigation, information-systems security, surveillance, background investigation, litigation support, asset protection, and—deep breath—corporate security consulting. Talon Executive Services, P.O. Box 8509, Fountain Valley, (714) 434-7476;


We live among holy men and women, one of whom is UC Irvine medical-school professor Dr. Roger Walsh. Born in Australia, Walsh began his own search for answers to big questions while training for shrinkhood at Stanford University in the 1970s. He began not by running around libraries, but by sitting for hours, days, weeks and months. He has done more sitting on his ass for a week than you have driving, walking and running for a lifetime: he has found answers. Rather than hand you the answers, Walsh hands you the sitting in Essential Spirituality, his 1999 book subtitled The seven central practices to awaken heart and mind. Among those practices especially useful now: chapter 12, "Exercises to reduce fear and anger" ("Most people," Walsh writes, "live spellbound by the belief that they are helpless victims of their emotions"). Note to spirituality freaks: Walsh is a close friend and ally of philosopher Ken Wilber. Essential Spirituality by Roger Walsh, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama; John Wiley & Sons, 1999. Hardcover, $24.95; paperback, $15.95.


The year was 2001. We were stationed in a small hut in remotest Bora Bora. The bombs were dropping like rain, it was around Christmas time, and we were homesick. Then we saw her. The most amazing hairless woman you'd hope to lay eyes on. And not just hairless like a Brazilian swimsuit model, but hairless like completely bald with no eyebrows or eyelashes. She was like a dream, this smooth, post-nuclear creature, and she was eating a most unusual substance that resembled green paste. It was Nad's, the hair-removal gel from Australia. Incredible! Made from honey, molasses, fructose, vinegar, lemon juice, water, alcohol and food dye, Nad's is not only an indulgent beauty treatment but also—should something interfere with your food supply, and you've already eaten your shoes—a tasty snack. Get yours today! NAD'S, P.O. Box 8168, Van Nuys, CA 91409-8168; $29.95, plus $7.95 for shipping and handling (California residents add 8% sales tax).

Photo by Jack Gould

House reduced to rubble? Camping tent gone up in thick, black, toxic smoke? You could curl up in a puddle and shiver and die whimpering. Or you could take a leaf—a willow leaf!—from our brothers and sisters, the Acjachemem people who lived peaceably in what is now Orange County for millennia before the Spaniards. Dig a hole. Create an elaborate willow-branch and tule-reed framework in the shape of an igloo, leaving a hole in the top for smoke. Shingle with dried leaves or the treated hides of small animals. Too primitive? Won't work? Hey, it worked fine for the Acjachemem . . . until they were wiped out by the Spanish. Hole in the ground? Free. Willow branches? Free. Shelter: priceless.


Within three weeks of the Sept. 11 attack, Jerusalem-based Apco Aviation unfurled Executivechute, a lightweight (4 pounds), backpack-type parachute that makes reliable landings from a minimum height of 10 stories (a height requirement that's perfect for the ever-growing number of skyscrapers in Irvine, Newport Center, Santa Ana, Orange, South Coast Metro and elsewhere in OC). The Executivechute's ripcord can be attached to heavy furniture or a special hook that will allow the military-style round canopy to open automatically once Mr. Big leaps out of his penthouse suite. Apco managing director Anatoly Cohn does warn that the landing will be hard and its unlikely the user will know how to do the standard paratroop roll, "but we figure a twisted ankle is a small price to pay for life." Speaking of small prices, you can easily expense the Executivechute: it's only $795 (shipping's extra). Executivechute Corp., 866-EXECUTV (393-2888); www.executive; Product may not be suitable for support staff with incomes less than $250,000.

Next Page »