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The Friendly Skies

(I wrote this on Friday, December 3rd, sitting in gate K7 at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.)

I had forgotten how much I enjoy traveling. I have everything down to a science, from where I park at the airport (the North Long-Term Economy Parking lot, generally somewhere near the E1 or E2 markers), to what I drink from the in-flight beverage selection (Ginger Ale). I have learned the odd things I have to remove from my person in order not to set off the metal detectors (my shoes), and the metal objects that do not set off security detectors (my belt with its metal buckle). I just had lunch at my favorite place in the American Airlines section of O’Hare (Burrito Beach—cheap, filling, and very good).

On the flight from Omaha to Chicago, I flipped through the in-flight magazine, enjoying the ever-present “It’s Just Lunch” dating service advertisement (mainly, I just enjoy the freaky-looking women who serve as directors in the company—seriously, their eyes make them all look possessed). I even enjoyed being made to feel stupid by the Mensa quiz; I did not, however, enjoy being made to feel stupid by the packaging of my in-flight snack. Stupid “Open Here” packages…

My all-time favorite thing to do when I fly, though, is to read the Sky Mall Magazine, which is sort of like a catalogue of infomercial products (probably mainly composed of the rejects of late-night television). Wanting to share my enjoyment of this with you, I went through the catalog and made awards for the products. Here are the winners in their various categories:

  • The “Most Tacky Kitchen Appliance” Award: “Pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker: Like a pop-up toaster, this unique kitchen appliance prepares two hot dogs and buns in minutes. Simply drop hot dogs in the center basket, and the buns in the two warming chambers on either side…Crumb basket removes for cleaning. $49.95” I bought my microwave for the same price. I can cook more than hot dogs in my microwave. Furthermore, my microwave doesn’t often cause people to mock me mercilessly.
  • The “Just When You Thought You Couldn’t Get Any Lazier” Award: “Our regulation [golf] putter has a fishing reel, so you never need to scramble after your practice putts again….$49.95” Not only can you now waste time by practicing the art of putting while you are supposed to be working, but you no longer need to exert that extra energy by walking across the room to retrieve your golf balls! You just reel in your putt, which also makes you think you’re actually fishing AND golfing at the same time!!!
  • The “I Treat My Pets Better Than I Would Treat Human Beings” Award: “The Lightweight Pet Stroller: This lightweight stroller is as easy to push as a baby carriage, and keeps pets safe, ventilated, and shaded. Designed for dogs and cats up to 25 lbs. and especially house cats and older dogs with joint ailments….$129.95” $130 to take your dog out for fresh air? I bet, though, that PETA buys these in bulk.
  • The “Where The Crap Do You Live To Justify Buying This?” Award: “The Extended Reach Insect Vacuum: Pests are suctioned by the 14,000 rpm motor and drawn into a sealed disposable cartridge through a flexible nozzle that reaches windows and corners easily….$49.95” Honestly: how many of these can they possibly sell?
  • The “Most Unbelievably Useless Object” Award: “Hug your HugOO: Soft, cool, squishy HugOO pillows are designed for nothing more—or less—than making whoever hugs it [sic] feel better….$24.95” Instead of HugOO (which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever), why don’t we call this “The Desperate Person’s Pillow”? By the way, this is the first (but not last) incurrence of a plurality disagreement (shifting from “pillows” to “it”).
  • The “Best Attempt at Word-Play” Award: “Persnickety kitties (aren’t they all?) prefer water that’s constantly filtered & aerated!...$39.99” I can only imagine the sort of green-eyed monster that would have followed Shakespeare had he read this while he was toying with such frivolities as Hamlet and King Lear.
  • The “Saddest Attempt to Start a New Christmas Tradition By Getting People to Buy a Stupid Object” Award: “The Traditional Christmas Pickle: In Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the tree Christmas Eve was always a pickle, with the parents hiding it deep in the boughs. The lucky child who found it on Christmas Day was blessed with good fortune and a special gift from St. Nicholas….$7.95” Golly gee, I wish my family had done this every Christmas! I mean, I could sure have used some good fortune a special gift from St. Nicholas…
  • The “This Needs To Be Reviewed By An Editor Before Going To Press” Award: “Holiday Good Luck And Health Begins [sic] With A Peppermint Pig....$15.95” – This wins on two counts: not only does it feature subject-verb disagreement, but it also exhibits a textbook example of an extraordinarily unappealing hook.
  • The “Best Product to Increase Automobile Accidents” Award: “Your Passenger Seat Is Now Your Office: Everything you need for increased productivity can be strapped to the front passenger seat with the existing seat belt. The ingenious workstation features a slide out writing surface…with clipboard that pulls close at hand while the non-skid top keeps your computer or planner from sliding. File Master model includes a hanging file section that faces the driver for easy access….$159.95-179.95” – Can they get sued for this?
  • The “Bar None, Absolutely, ‘Who Comes Up With This Stuff?’, Biggest Waste of Money” Award: “A place to rest valuables: Our flexible leather valet is welcome at home and out on the road. The base is 4” x 6”, so there’s space for a watch, wallet, rings, and change. Two side compartments hold pens and glasses. Thanks to a flexible lead pad sandwiched between full-grain leather, the valet folds for packing. A great gift for travelers or those who empty their pockets on the nightstand at the end of each day!...$49.95 [!]; Optional Monogram: $3.95” Who would pay $54 to have a little leather pouch exclusively used to store spare change at the end of the night?
  • The “Worst Use of A Latin Suffix” Award: “Surprise the alumni in the family with slipper clogs that sport their college’s logo [sic]!” Say it with me: “Alumnus is singular; alumni is plural…”
  • The “If You’re Stupid Enough to Buy this Product, You’re Stupid Enough not to Know the Definition of ‘Humongous.’” Award: “…Humunga Tongue is sure to elicit giggles: Cat got your tongue? Imagine the fun you’ll have at the park when you and your favorite pooch play with Humunga Tongue (named after humongous which is slang for very large). Made of non-toxic natural rubber, it’s actually a ball with a long fake tongue attached. Just throw it; when your dog retrieves Humunga Tongue, giggles are sure to follow….$9.50; SAVE: 2 or more just $8.50 each.” I assume that the “giggles” to which the author is referring are either those of people who are openly mocking the person who would buy this, or those of people openly mocking the person who doesn’t know the meaning of “humongous.”
  • The “Product Most Needed to Care for Ben” Award: “End urine marking & vertical scratching naturally: Comfort Zone with Feliway, developed by leading veterinarians and behaviorists in Europe, ends urine marking and vertical scratching in cats by mimicking natural pheromones.” We’re mainly concerned with Ben’s urine marking, but his vertical scratching has increasingly become a problem.
  • The Alchemy Award: “Vintage Express Aging Accelerator Ages Beverages 10 Years in 10 Seconds! The Earth’s magnetic field aligns liquid particles much like tiny compass needles. This alignment is destroyed during the manufacturing process. Traditional slow aging realigns the particles, but is an expensing, time consuming process. Vintage Express uses sixteen Neodymium magnets to accelerate the natural aging process by exposing beverages to a powerful replication of the Earth’s magnetic field. Vintage Express ‘opens’ the flavor or a bottle of wine in only five minutes, and dramatically improves the flavor of Scotch, Whisky, Bourbon, Tequila, Vodka, or any liquor in as little as ten seconds!...$49.95” Uh huh…Sure (wink!).
  • The “Too Many Exclamation Points” Award: “Get Lost! You Can’t! You’ve Got This ‘Talking’ Navigator As Your Co-Pilot!” – No I Don’t! No I Won’t!
  • The “Who Uses Gorillas To Protect Their Vehicle?” Award: “If You Can’t Have A Real Gorilla Protecting Your Vehicle, This Is The Next Best Thing!” I suppose I’ll just stick with my real gorilla.
  • The “You Mean ‘Moronic Readers’?” Award: “Ultra-Thin Electronic Dictionary For Serious Readers:…Define difficult words while you read…A terrific resource for avid readers and travelers.” The reason this product won this particular award was that the example definition shown in the product’s picture is for the word “outstanding.” I’m sure, though, that the product also defines the word “humongous.”
  • The Oxy-Moron Award: “You Can Fire Up This Compact Electric Grill Just About Anywhere!...Just plug the Veranda in…” Judging from the intelligence level of this particular catalog’s clientele, I wonder how many people have brought this grill into the wilderness, only to be unable to find an electric outlet.
  • The “Best Gift For My Mother” Award: “Keep 18 pairs of shoes handy” My mother is the only person I know who would need 18 pairs of shoes “handy.”
  • The “Just What Every Home Needs” Award: “King Tut Life-Size Sarcophagus Cabinet.” I was just thinking the other day how lifeless my dorm room looks without a life-size sarcophagus.

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Jacob wrote: The “Worst Use of A Latin Suffix” Award: “Surprise the alumni in the family with slipper clogs that sport their college’s logo [sic]!” Say it with me: “Alumnus is singular; alumni is plural…”

I'm going to take a stab at a correction here. Suppose in a family there were two members who graduated from the same school (for example, my brothers). If I were to purchase them "slipper clogs," I would be buying the alumni (plural - both brothers) slipper clogs that sport their college's (singular - one college) logo. So is it possible that the ad's phrase is correct in a limited number of scenarios?

Well, you've surely won my vote for "Best (and Most Thoroughly Exhaustive/Exhausting) Post about SkyMall Ever." I do now want a perppermint pig, however.

Only 18 pairs of shoes? What a waste of money!

I think that "Humunga Tongue" WOULD be funny. Not that I'm gonna go buy one, but it is kind of a funny mental picture.

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