Here they come!
I am ready to gird myself against the onslaught of junk mail that is starting to roll in for the holidays already. I do not buy from catalogs. Never have. Don't even read them.
North Face? L.L. Bean? Omaha Steaks? Vermont Country Store?
Except for one.
I must admit that I have succumbed to the withering siren's call of one, and only one, holiday catalog. And it just came in the mail. And I have devoured it. Let me preface all of this by saying that as much as I adore this company, I have never spent a single cent with them. But for fascinating reading, it can't be beat.
I speak of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. Talk about entering the looking glass.
This company proudly professes to be the oldest continuously published catalog in America. It began selling useless stuff back in 1848. Al and Bill (that's Hammacher and Schlemmer to you) created a catch-all store in the Bowery in New York City in 1848. Since then, the company has sought to bring middle-class America all the wonders of the rich and famous and useless. Their catalog is a page-turner in every sense (and yes, you once could actually buy a battery operated page turner from the catalog for $29.99).
In this year's compendium of frivolous favorites you will find everything from a 10-person Aqua Totter which "rocks up to 10 people on a water teeter totter that is safe and provides reliable waterborne fun for all;" $4,000, to an Inspiration Archipod "a place to enter and privately contemplate life's challenges;" $40,000." Of course these are the big ticket items.
I like to troll among the less expensive yet still totally unneeded items. Believe me, bottom feeding in the H-S catalog is great fun!
The Wellness Monitor, for example, is under a hundred bucks. It is a little clip-on device you wear on your belt that monitors your general health profile on a daily basis. Among its many wonders, it will "send tiny tremors down your wrists to tell you exactly how long it took you to fall asleep at night." They describe it as "similar to NASA technology."
I always get a little suspicious when something is described as "NASA-like." And besides, I know exactly how long it takes me to fall asleep every night. Twelve minutes into a Law and Order re-run. Twelve minutes, exactly.
Another great item in the H-S catalog this year is "The World's Thinnest 20 Credit Card Holder." This item ($79.95) holds "twenty of your most used credit cards in a flat, efficient, side-by-side nest."
Brother, if you carry twenty credit cards around with you, I can give you an 800 hot line number you need to call, now!
How about this gem. The Sandless Beach Mat ($59.95). "It is impossible to cover this mat with sand. It is used by the U.S. military for helicopter landings. Two layers of polyurethane actually sifts sand back onto the beach and off the mat. You will never have to lay on a sandy beach mat again."
Does anybody really believe this thing works? I gotta tell you, by the time I spread my mat down on the beach at Gilbert Lake, lug a couple of coolers up on to it, unwrap my large liverwurst sub, pile up the kids' toys on one corner, carve out a corner for the dog and then spread out my Sunday New York Times, there is enough sand on my blanket already that I can't even find it.
But hey, the ad says, "the U.S. military uses this." I think if you had to bet between the Sandless Beach Mat and the high deserts of Iraq, well, I'll double down on the Iraqi desert to win.
So of course there has to be one item that is my favorite, right? You knew that was where this column was going didn't you?
My choice for the most fun, most unusual, most totally ridiculously unneeded item in the new Hammecher Schlemmer catalog is the Remote Controlled Rolling Beverage Cooler ($69.95). The copy reads, "This remote-controlled cooler can roll across a patio, deck, rug, or kitchen floor to deliver that perfectly timed beverage to parched party guests. It holds 12 bottles and cans and ice."
I have to admit that $69.95 seems like a steal for this "sure to impress your friends" life-enhancer. I am torn as to whether or not to buy this item and break my life-long personal ban of purchasing from holiday catalogs.
But first, I'll have to find out if the remote controlled cooler can roll across the sandless mat.
If it does, well then, maybe ...
I'll catch you in two ...
'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
Here they come!
- Big Chuck
There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
Winter weather is here. And so are outdoor winter activities.
Vroman's Nose hike is no walk in the park
I haven't gone on a hike since 1961 when President Kennedy asked all Americans to take a 50-mile hike for physical fitness. I did it then. With a large group of my schoolmates and friends. We walked from Sidney to Oneonta and back.
Being a grandpa will be better than just OK
I am going to be a grandfather.
Some hits from the soundtrack of my life
As most people know, I wear two hats at my radio station.
Some book picks from an avid reader
I came to reading begrudgingly. I was an impatient student easily bored with books. Finally an eighth-grade English teacher in Sidney, Kay Jester, figured out my problem. She told me that I had an inquisitive mind and had an affinity for storytelling. She also told me I was reading the wrong books.
- Monday, September 23, 2013
Swapping stories with a sweet centenarian
Marge Mathews is one very special lady.
- Monday, September 9, 2013
Farm honor system can grow on you
What a difference the flip of a calendar makes. I love September and the produce stands!
- Monday, August 26, 2013
My brush with a future president
President Obama came to town!
- Monday, August 12, 2013
Colonoscopy isn't much of a pain in the ...
When a professional looks you in the eye and says, "Sit down, I have something I want to talk to you about," your normal reaction is a flexing of the gluteus maximus and the appearance of sweat drops on the palms of your hands.
- Monday, July 29, 2013
An easy way â€¨to be a hero
It is not much to ask. Plus they give you a cookie and a glass of juice!
- Monday, July 15, 2013
Digging up memories, one box at a time
My Dad kept everything.
- Monday, July 1, 2013
Moms, girlfriends and wives of TV history
I recently saw on TV a birthday salute to actress Betty White. It included many archival videos, celebrity interviews and reminisces from her early days on television. There is no doubt that Betty has found the magic pill. Into her nineties she is still starring in a hit sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland!"
- Monday, June 17, 2013
Upstate theme parks offered affordable thrills
I saw in the news last week that Disney theme parks are raising admission prices to almost $100 a person. Children (who Uncle Walt considers 10 and under) are now $86 a day.
- Monday, June 3, 2013
Getting creative with gifts for grads
Well, it is graduation time again. So much pressure, so many decisions, so many things to take into consideration.
- Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
I asked Cam Morris, head of Eastern Travel/Oneonta Bus Lines, how many years her company has been handling the Safety Patrol trip to Washington, D.C.
- Monday, May 6, 2013
My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital
Ask any hospital administrators if they've ever heard of a closed hospital in New York state that has ever been re-opened. They will say, "Impossible." In a half century of going through records you can't find any.
- Monday, April 22, 2013
Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
We just came back from a weekend in Manchester, Vt., and my wife insists that something "magical" happens when you pass the state sign. "I think they spray 'Vermont Vapor' out of the sign or something," she opined, "something that actually changes us."
- Monday, April 8, 2013
Selections from the virtual mailbag
Well, it's time to open up the email bag, and it's really full!
- Monday, March 25, 2013
Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
In 1969, I was "The Doughnut King" in Sidney.
- Monday, March 11, 2013
Opera great's visit still a thrilling memory
Opera singer Marian Anderson (1897-1993) has been called the "most distinctive American voice of the 20th century."
- There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|