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ON THE RADAR

Wacky ideas, from dance poles to thrones

Not all story ideas are fit to print. Here, a few of the -- how shall we say it? -- most exotic.

December 27, 2007|Craig Nakano | Times Staff Writer

SOME people may call them the year's worst ideas. We prefer to call them singular inspirations -- extraordinary feats of such unparalleled imagination, we couldn't imagine featuring them in Home. Till now.

After all, who could resist a press release that starts off, "Nothing says I love you like a new toilet seat"? Or better yet, a pitch touting "a toilet that will save rocky marriages and the planet all in one flush."

That would be the TwoDaLoo, billed as the first toilet for couples to use simultaneously. Twin seats allow users to face each other -- for good conversation, of course. LCD televisions and iPod docking stations are optional features for those who prefer to triple-task.

Of the 200-plus story proposals and product pitches sent to the Home section each day, a remarkable number this year did center on the bathroom. There was Sudoku toilet tissue, as well as the Toilet Tattoo, the invention of a Cleveland entrepreneur who devised decorative appliques made of electrostatic vinyl film -- "the perfect gift for someone who has everything." Stick some butterflies, roses or a leopard print onto your toilet seat, but alas, no M-O-M tattoo.

The living room's hot trend, we were told, was the stripper pole. Sorry, make that "dance pole." A Fresno-based company shared the news that women are using its Lil' Minx dance poles "to get in shape, unleash their inner sex kitten and give some fun and adventure to their home decor." Available in four colors starting at $229; instructional DVDs and festive hats for an additional cost.

For a different kind of sensory experience, OwenLawrence ( www.owenlawrence.com) pitched scented throws -- acrylic blankets infused with culinary scents such as strawberry, lemon and green apple. Wrap yourself in chocolate? Maybe that's not so silly after all.

Indeed, it makes more sense than an eco-friendly dry cleaning bag, which was the pitch from the HBO Store, the online marketplace hawking merchandise linked to the network's shows.

In its defense, the "Sex and the City" garment carrier is made of organic cotton and does provide an alternative to the plastic wrap that comes home with most dry cleaning. But when one considers the toxic solvents and volatile organic compounds inherent in some cleaning processes, the concept has all the logic of an organic cigarette.

The garment bag would win the Groaner of the Year Award if not for a press release from a geographically challenged publicist who asked: "Would you be interested in a story on Bringing the Safari Home?" Elephant sheets, giraffe-printed rugs and other African-inspired furnishings, she said, were among the many ways Times readers could achieve "Indonesian themes."

Not ready to track rhinos and gazelles in Jakarta? Another product promised homebodies help with one of life's great challenges: pine-cone pickup. Yes, the Coneivore, a hand-held, 3-foot-long tube ($34.95), eases the unbearable trauma of picking up stray pine cones in the yard. The product also can snag fallen apples, magnolia pods and other hazards waiting to strike.

Such are the inventions that brighten home and garden editors' days: the children's soap dispenser that actually puts ink dots on hands to encourage thorough scrubbing, the wedding dress made out of weed-blocking fabric, the wrench pitched as a Valentine's Day gift.

Perhaps the best was a press release that opened with this line: "Aristokraft Cabinetry, a leading supplier to the home builder market, is pleased to announce that . . ."

We never did find out the big news. The rest of the e-mail was blank.

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craig.nakano@latimes.com

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