It's that time of year when the mailbox is chock full of retail catalogs attempting to sell, sell, sell and one begins to wonder how the Postal Service could possibly be $15 billion in the red with all this glossy paper crisscrossing the country and landing on my countertop. There's a Land's End here and a Signals there, here an LLBean, there a Grandinroad, and then, there's the grand-daddy of them all, billed as "America's Longest Running Catalog," Hammacher Schlemmer, "offering the Best, the Only and the Unexpected for 164 years" (according to the cover) -- or, as it's known around my house, "the catalog with things you never knew existed, that you don't really need, at prices you really can't afford." This is the type of catalog where every item is preceded by the definite article "the" -- as in "The Glow in the Dark Driver Ejecting Bumpercrafts" or "The Best Electric Wine Opener." (I kid you not.)
The latest edition of the catalog came over the transom with a strange gadget pictured on the cover, something that looks like a cross between a unicycle and a droideka destroyer droid from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
Unfolded, "The Folding Electric Mini-Farthing" still has much in common with the other two, since encountering any of them could very possibly lead to an excruciatingly painful injury, if not a sudden death.
Moving on from unsafe transportation you really don't need, we have the "and why exactly do I need this?" toy: The 50 Foot Snowball Launcher.
According to the catalog copywriter:
"This toy blaster makes and launches softball-sized snowballs up to 50 feet, allowing rapid, long-range assaults during neighborhood snowball confrontations Simply place snow in the forming chamber and close the lid. It packs three perfectly spherical snowballs. To blast your mark, place one snowball in the muzzle, aim the launcher, and pull back the slingshot mechanism..."
And then there are the oxymorons:
"The Healthiest Deep Fryer," which purportedly uses only one tablespoon of oil and "The Filterless Air Purifier," which uses "billions of harmless electrons that attach to air impurities and convert them to negatively charged ions," and "The Healthiest Potato Chip Maker."
And then there are the WTFs:
"The Powered Pumice Stone," and "The Remote Controlled Tarantula" and "The Thinning Hair Boar Bristle Brush" and "The Pain Relieving Neuromuscular Stimulator System." And I am only on page 21 of 88!
And if you are so gullible as to purchase "The Hands Free Hair Rejuvenator"
(pictured at left, below) at $699.95 a pop, I have some property that used to lie along the Jersey Shore to sell you!
Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you! (Rick Moranis, Ghostbusters)
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