If you've thrown out the avalanche of catalogs and promotional material that lands in your mailbox this time of year, you will have missed some unusual gift ideas for those Sports-Nuts-Who-Have-Everything on your Christmas shopping list. As a public service, therefore, here are a number of suggestions for filling those stockings.
•Wormlike bait you can dispense from an aerosol can. The manufacturers of Instant Worm claim that anglers can now make their own bait from a plasticlike compound that comes in three color and flavor-scented combinations: red/shellfish, gold/bacon and orange/cheese. One can of Instant Worm contains enough goo to squirt out some 60 "worms," each six inches long and ¼ inch in diameter. After setting five to 15 minutes, the ersatz bait will be firm and pliable enough to be threaded on hooks. Retail price is $3.98 per container, and the proud dispenser of this can of worms is Chem-Source, Inc., Dept. PP, Box 597, Suffern, N.Y. 10901.
•The Schmeckenbecker putter ($25.95), says the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog, will make you "the envy of every golfer on the greens," for though it has all the standard features of other putters, it also sports a compass, timer, tapeline, level, candle and horn. The compass presumably will tell you whether your ball flew N by NE or S by SW when it sliced into the rough, and the horn may be used "to command silence or speed up slow golfers." The candle will light you to the 18th hole after dark. However, it would still be prudent to seek shelter in a thunderstorm because—an obvious oversight—the Schmeckenbecker putter is not equipped with any lightning rods. Hammacher-Schlemmer's store is located at 147 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022.
•American inventors and manufacturers have what might be called the "add-on" complex; they insist on taking a perfectly simple device and tacking on something extra. This brings us to jump ropes. Anyone over 40 will remember when Mom used to cut off a piece of old clothesline, and that was it. What has happened to the simple jump rope in the past few years almost doesn't bear thinking about. Ropes now come equipped with digital counters, ball bearings and illustrated how-to books, but the award for the most souped-up version of the season goes to the "Jogger's Rope," which fits into its own handle and may be used for nine different stretching exercises in addition to jumping. But what makes the Jogger's Rope something really special is that it "passes square overhead so it won't hit the ceiling." Dwellers in low-ceilinged houses and apartments take note and heart. A dynamic weight set "squares" the rope, which is lightweight in order to "give you a fast responsive swing." The Jogger's Rope turns on capstan-shaped handles that, manufacturers proclaim, spin as freely as ball-bearing models (whatever they are). The rope can be ordered from D B & K, 18623 Santa Isadora, Fountain Valley, Calif. 92708, for $9.95.
Because noise pollution is one of the curses of modern civilization, the Norton Co. of Cerritos, Calif. (16624 Edwards Road. Dept. RS578, Zip 90701) is distributing silencers called Sonic II Noise Filters for $5.95. Designed, especially for rock concertgoers, they will work just as effectively at raucous football, baseball, basketball and hockey games, not to mention earsplitting boxing matches. The Sonic Noise Filters are, in effect, earplugs that, because of baffles and other doodads, allow you to hear everything you normally would but screen out the high-frequency whistles, shouts and shrieks that cause ear damage. With the Sonic II you can go to a game and sit in comparative silence, while the fans who think that a deafening roar is part of the fun get their eardrums busted.
•Sail Graphics (2500 S. Fairview, Santa Ana, Calif. 92704) will paint or airbrush pictures of birds, butterflies, or whatever a sailor might fancy, on any size canvas in the sail bin. The colorfast, durable artwork, says the firm, won't alter the properties of the sailcloth, and the cost, depending on the art selected and the size of the sail, runs from $100 to $600. Imagine a giant likeness of your mother-in-law—luffing.
•Finally—does the handle of your tennis racket become moist and slippery from your sweating hand after an hour or so on the court? Marius Szafianski, a Polish inventor who's lived in the U.S. for the past 10 years, has patented an idea that may solve your problem. It's a tennis racket with a ventilated handle. Szafianski hollowed out the shaft of his racket and perforated the handle. Inside the shaft he placed a miniature fan connected to an electric motor driven by two 1.5-volt batteries. Flip the switch at the base of the handle and the tiny fan sucks air through the holes drilled in the outer shell, keeping hand and racket dry. Will ventilation improve your game? Probably not, but at least when you shake hands with the winner, you won't be offering him a sweaty palm. Szafianski, who says the device can also be used on baseball bats, has so far been unable to mass-produce his invention and is looking for a manufacturer. So you may have to wait until 1979 before slipping it under the Christmas tree.