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HOT TIPS : AUDIBLE COLLECTIBLES.

Another miracle of the computer age: Talking baseball cards.

OK, miracle may be pushing it, but Protalk ``talking cards'' are still pretty cool. Tiny computer chips store about 15 seconds of sound. Choices range from slugger Mark McGwire's historic home run No. 70 to NASCAR racer Mark Martin's victory celebration after taking the checkered flag at Bristol.

Each card comes with a 6-inch-tall standup of the featured sports hero, or car in the case of NASCAR drivers. The sound quality is tinny and far short of digital, but it's hard to expect more from a speaker that is smaller than the end of a pinky finger. It's clear enough to get the point.

Protalk cards also win extra points over the other tiny sound devices now being implanted in everything from toys to greeting cards because it's not too hard to change the batteries. The cards cost $7.99 at most major retail and collectible stores and are recommended for ages 4 and older.

- Phil Davis

Jack outside the box

There's low-key New Year's Eve celebrating ... and then there's a hot slab of beef, melting cheese, crispy sourdough ... and the party-hearty image of everybody's famous fictional fast-food promoter.

Beginning Monday at all Jack in the Box restaurants, diners who buy a Sourdough Jack combo will also get a celebratory millennium antenna ball, a just-for-the millennium version of that familiar round-faced fellow who comes with his own festive party hat and noisemaker.

So it's not Dick Clark. But with Millennium Jack, you can chow down - and celebrate 2000 - all year long.

- Carol Bidwell

Blanket coverage

Some like it hot . . . some like it less than toasty . . . and that's what triggers undercover battles among sleeping partners.

Sunbeam's new Blanket With a Brain might solve the tug-of-war over the temperature controls. Queen- and king-size electric blanket versions have not only a heating system that senses two sleepers' body temperatures and regulates controls independently and automatically, it lets both snoozers dial one of 22 temperature cycles to control their side of the blanket.

And there's no sliding between ice-cold sheets on cold nights; just like your oven, it preheats the covers before you climb into bed.

There's no more driving to work and wondering all of a sudden if you've remembered to turn off the blanket, either; this brainy blanket turns itself off automatically after 10 hours. (Guess that means it also doubles as an alarm clock for late sleepers.)

The Blanket With a Brain is available at most major retailers. Prices start at $39 for a twin-size blanket; dual controls are available for queen- and king-size models.

- Carol Bidwell

Adding a little Zip(loc) to your holidays

Bachelors and procrastinators rejoice.

The neat freaks who invented plastic sandwich bags that zip closed have created something that's going to make your holidays so much easier.

Forget festive wrapping paper and ribbons and bows that are impossible to manage, just stuff the gifts in a plastic bag.

The new Ziploc Brand Slide-Loc Holiday Bags come in three sizes and designs. You'll find three to a box in the jumbo size, five per box for the medium (shirt box) size and eight bags per box in the smallest size. Each box sells for about $3. Find them at food, drug and mass-merchandise stores.

These flat plastic bags wouldn't exactly meet Martha Stewart's presentation standards, but it's a lot better than giving the gift without any wrapping.

After all, half the fun of receiving a gift is the suspense of not knowing what lies within.

- Betty Kwong

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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 27, 1999
Words:623
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