Published Sunday, Dec. 3, 2000 in The Miami Herald

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$17.99 plus shipping and handling from Northern Tool and Equipment, P.O. Box 1499, Burnsville, Minn. 55337, 800-221-0516, Internet: www.northerntool.com

Suggested by Bob Tanner of Gwynn's Island, Va., and Arthur Wm. Ritter of Midlothian, Va.

We shall not mince words: This is the finest remote-controlled flatulence machine that we personally are aware of. Using the remote control, the user can generate a realistically electronic flatulence noise from 50 feet away . . . even through walls!

This is not a child's toy, like the so-called ''whoopee cushion.'' This is a serious piece of high-tech flatulence equipment, identical to the one carried by U.S. Navy Seals on top-secret covert operations intended to destabilize foreign leaders. This is also the machine employed by the White House social staff to ''loosen up the crowd'' at formal functions. The legendary night it was used on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is still viewed as one of the diplomatic highlights of the Clinton administration, at least until her bodyguards opened fire.

This device can also be used to add a welcome touch of humor to autopsies and funerals. It is also very effective when concealed inside the bustle of a bridal gown. The Vatican orders these by the gross.

In short, if there is a better gift than this for emitting a true whiff of the holiday spirit, we cannot imagine what it is.

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