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There really is a media conspiracy, one that involves us getting countless great tips we never tell you about. Those tips typically come in the form of press releases touting miracle cures, futuristic technologies and great deals. We shred most of those press releases, but we save the best ones for this annual roundup of the Absolute Weirdest Press Releases of the Year.


Comfort and validation for Dad: Freudian slippers may just be the gift of the Father's Day season as dads still like to relax (traditional accompaniments such as a pipe and the evening newspaper may be lost to health concerns and the Internet). Freudian slippers ($28, plus shipping), musical Freudian pillows (plays "Memories"), and a 50-minute-hour watch are among scores of offbeat gift ideas available. . . .


Max, the crystal skull, invites you to meet him in "person." Max is the largest of the human-sized ancient crystal skulls. It is touring the USA and is said to have the power to heal and perform miracles for those who ask for its help. . . . Many researchers feel that the skulls are from other dimensional realms and can be used for interdimensional contact between Star Beings and the human race.


[H]ave you ever wished it was your "enemy" in the bull's eye as you toss that dart directly toward the center? If your answer to that is yes, then you will enjoy the Therapy Dart Board. This unique new type of board has space to insert a photo of that nasty ticket writer or maybe the salesperson who talked you into signing for something you don't want, or perhaps even the mother-in-law who insists on calling shots in your family.


How can you not feel affection for the Crock-Pot? You fill it and forget it, then come home to dinner. What other household appliance says to you whenever you use it, "See you later. Have a nice day!"?


What are your children hearing as they fall asleep? High-tech meets the power of prayer in the form of Angeleece, a soft, cuddly fleece angel doll that plays happy harp music and speaks the bedtime "goodnight prayer" for children. "Angeleece is designed to bring a comforting message to children, to help parents teach their children about saying their bedtime prayers and getting in touch with their guardian angels," says artist Steve Beck, the Berkeley designer of Angeleece. . . . "This may be the first time that and [sic] electronic voice chip has been used to say a prayer. I was inspired in part by the Arthur C. Clarke short story 'The Ten Billion Names of God,' in which a computer enumerates all the names of God," says Beck.


No one watches the SUPER BOWL in solitude . . . it would be un-American. So while Americans of all stripes prepare to gather around the blue hue of the TV, a story on Super Bowl Etiquette for the Savvy would be a fun and timely piece. . . . Aside from tending to the menu, there are a multitude of other etiquette concerns. The foremost is keeping the peace between opposing fans. We suggest a separate TV viewing area should things get too hot.


It's the holy grail that every back-yard barbecuer dreams of: the "Perfect Steak." You know the one we mean—thick and juicy, charcoal-seared on the outside, done to perfection inside, and with a tenderness and flavor so compelling that lots of people will pay a bundle to eat one at their favorite steak-house restaurant. But when it comes to grilling at home, these same folks find the ideal steak to be as elusive as true love.


Enclosed, please find press material on Hollow Hills recording artist Human Drama. The LA-based band's newest release [is] titled Solemn Sun Setting. In listening to each song, you'll feel a soothing blanketed feeling that can only be compared to the same embrace and comfort each sunset brings after a long, hard day.


Advantage flea control hosts the singing pet contest. . . . Look for the 30-foot inflatable flea, and listen for the 1998 winner and opera-singing poodle.


"Orange County Bands" receives about 700 hits a day from people across the country and has helped new bands get noticed. The new TV show will surely assist in this process. Having a sexy model from "Orange County Models" . . . host the show will not hurt matters either.


Not just pennies from heaven, more than 35 meteorites with a total estimated value of $750,000 will hit the auction block . . . at Butterfield & Butterfield. . . . Said David Herskowitz, Butterfield's natural-history specialist, "Meteorites are becoming the hottest contemporary collectible today; after all, we are in the age of Armageddon, the film . . . and perhaps otherwise." . . . Extraterrestrial highlights . . . include: . . . an African meteorite that strikingly resembles the head of a woodpecker ($27,500-$40,000).

The new Y2K Nite Lite Umbrella is a 21st-century-designed combination of lantern and umbrella. Should the much-talked-about Y2K computer crash thrust the world into darkness on Jan. 1, 2000, this Nite Lite Umbrella will provide comfort, safety and style during any dark and rainy night. . . . And remember, should computers crash after the New Year's countdown . . . don't leave home without the Y2K Nite Light Umbrella. You will always have light in your darkest hour!

—Compiled by Anna Barr


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