By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Neiman Marcus suggests: A pair of sleek Life-Size Robots, fresh out of 2003s factories and/or your most vivid dystopian nightmares. Croons the catalog, Designed and built at International Robotics, these two multifunctional robots were the most advanced adult-size interactive remote-controlled versions out there. With onboard computers for user-friendly functionality in daily use, they stood nearly six feet tall. First of all, was most advanced . . . out there really the most scientific endorsement to come from this companys exacting technological research? These werent toothbrushes, they were the terrifying culmination of a human species enslaved by its own Icarus-like need for advancement. Throw in some stats or something.
And secondly, a present commemorating the deity and/or cult and/or significant other of your choosing shouldnt be designed to look so moronic. Something that will inevitably gain self-cognizance, turn on you, and crush your head shouldnt be cobbled into indignity. The two bots photographed for the Neiman Marcus catalog look like bastardized steel grasshoppers: sleek moss-green and silver, with bright, cold eyes inset in pointed, oblong faces. Their short, spindly arms are stretched toward each other in sort of wanton, pre-coital leap. Bah, humbug.
The Voice suggests: Not prompting the Robots vs. Humans superwar just because your husband has enough ties already. This years technology is next years detritus, so shop affordably for Mr. or Mrs. Vaguely Useless Gadget in the West Village. mxyplyzyk (125 Greenwich Avenue, 212-989-4300) is a cheeky emporium of internationally sourced, spruced-up desk wares. Their popular USB Hubman is a robot-motif cable contraption with four 2.0 high-speed ports for appendages ($20), and the Little Helper magnifying glass and book holder resembles a skinnier, sharper Wall-E ($13). Stereo Exchange (627 Broadway, 212-505-1111) is an audiophiles paradise of custom speakers, home theaters, top-tier computer units, and overall control systems; their Panasonic plasma TVs, Leon loudspeakers, and Da-Lite projection screens guarantee a flashy unveiling, but will set you back less than a cybernetic Jeeves.
Neiman Marcus suggests: A blindingly expensive camera. Introducing the $17,000 Leica M9 Neiman Marcus Edition Camera! Currently available for purchase, The rugged Leica M body and matching Summicron-M 35mm ASPH lens are finished in classic chrome. The body is covered in luxurious brown ostrich-leather trim with a matching ostrich-leather strap. The high-resolution 2.5-inch LCD screen is protected by sapphire cover glass. At least this solves the mystery of what happened to that past years ostriches.
The Voice suggests: A quirky, retro camera for the smartphone-wielding aesthete in your life. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store (Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, 212-570-3894) offers a great deal on quality Diana F+ cameras, the cheeky, sorbet-colored models from the 1960s ($85$95), and the Lomography Gallery (41 West 8th Street, 212-529-4353) shills a vast selection of Dianas and branded Fisheye contraptions ($50 and up). Or if youre looking to upgrade a previous professional unit, B&H Photo (Ninth Avenue at 34th Street) is a cavernous photography superstore offering every brand, edition, and accessory fathomable.
Neiman Marcus suggests: His & hers charm bracelets, festooned in diamonds and gold and this years relative steal at just $248,000. Swoons the catalog, Master jewelers crafted [these] from a one-of-a-kind collection of 11 marquise-cut diamonds. Certified fancy and extremely rare. Pictured charms include a windmill, a robot, and what looks like a Santorum skull but probably isnt, sadly.
The Voice suggests: Attractive jewelry, period. Solange Azagury-Partridge (809 Madison Avenue) toes the line between wicked rock-and-roll influences and pristine, high-quality craftsmanship; her geometric white gold and diamond Bi-star and Tri-star drop earrings are gorgeously unexpected, and her precious stones (i.e., diamonds, emeralds, and rubies) are set beautifully in flower motifs and intricate box rings. (Prices available upon request.) More affordable, but still far from common, baubles can be found at tiny, tony Phoenix Roze (39 Eighth Avenue); their gold charm necklaces ($200 and up) and Cabusion rings ($525) are stunning. For a bargain, hit East Village den Jillery (88 East 10th Street, 212-674-9405), which is stacked to the rafters with new and vintage pieces starting at just $1; their most elaborate and eye-catching boho earrings rarely top $40.
Neiman Marcus suggests: A $6,000 handmade gourd ukulele.The Voice suggests: They get bent.