Here's a bright idea to deck your halls: Cool Neon wire. It's made of phosphorous -- the same stuff that makes your TV screen so damn interesting. Encased in a vinyl tube that's approximately the width of a speaker cable, the wire can be bent and twisted into all sorts of shapes -- festive or suggestive. It looks like neon, but it doesn't heat up, so you can wrap it around body parts (!), shape it into an eerie alien head and stick it in the window, wrap it around the Xmas tree, or make a cat-o'-nine-tails out of several pieces... You get the picture.
Northern Californians, always hip to twisted brilliance, oooohhhhed and ahhhhhed over this stuff at this year's Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, witnessing the otherworldly phenomenon of an after-dark "school" of 2-dozen bicyclists, each with a giant Cool Neon "flying fish" hovering overhead. How's that for UFOs (Unidentified Fishy Objects)?
The Cool Neon wire comes from the company that put the fish out on the playa, found on the Web at coolneon.com. It runs on a 9-volt battery, or eight AAs, or can be plugged into an external AC or DC power source. It's bright as Rudolph's nose, without all those pesky reindeer-droppings. It comes in Aqua (light blue), Coral (pink), Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green, and White. Plug and Play units come in 5- or 10-foot lengths and are ready to go -- just add batteries, or hook them up to the optional converter. They make great holiday gifts for kids, artists, ravers, or anybody creative. Stick one on your bike to ride safely at night, be the most visible target for the Feds at the New Year's celebration, summon the aliens with a landing strip on your crotchety neighbor's roof, or make a Y2K distress sign for your own house -- just in case! (5-foot Plug and Play: $27; 10-foot Plug and Play: $39; Power-outlet converter: $12)
Amy Rasmussen glows in the dark.