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 email@example.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
Here they come!
- Big Chuck
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.
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.
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."
Selections from the virtual mailbag
Well, it's time to open up the email bag, and it's really full!
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."
- Monday, February 25, 2013
Film clip a window into Oneonta's past
One of my radio listeners sent me an astonishing piece of video recently. I posted it on my Facebook page (go to Facebook, search "BIG CHUCK") and it has been viewed by well over 1,000 people in just a week.
- Monday, February 11, 2013
Many made stop at upstate naval base
My father was in the U.S. Navy. Not for long, but he did enlist out of high school in 1944. He did his naval training at Sampson Naval Training Base in Romulus. Shortly after Dad's basic training, he was honorably discharged because of a health issue. So, although his service was brief, I needed to find out as much about it as I possibly could.
- Monday, January 28, 2013
Local foods worthy of national spotlight
Well, President Obamaâ€™s second inauguration is over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
- Monday, January 14, 2013
Remembering lives of the not-so-famous
I write about 25 columns a year for this paper. And I must admit, this annual one is always my favorite. A lot of famous people left this world last year, including General Norman Schwarzkopf, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, singer Andy Williams and TV's George Jefferson actor -- Sherman Hemsley.
- Monday, December 31, 2012
Canines create unforgettable moments
Last year, I used my holiday column to pay tribute to my dog, Stella. The darn dog actually received fan mail after that, and has insisted that I do a shout-out to her canine colleagues each year around this time. So, to keep Stella happy, here goes.
- Monday, December 17, 2012
Nothing like an old-fashioned movie theater
What is it about a movie theater?
- Monday, December 3, 2012
Chuck's daughter returns to a town full of memories
My daughter Frances, OHS Class of 2000, came home for Thanksgiving last week after not having been in her hometown for nearly five years. I asked her to be my "guest columnist" to share her thoughts about coming home for the holidays. I hope you enjoy her story.
- Monday, November 19, 2012
Time to move on after grueling campaign season
Nobody likes a presidential election campaign better than I do. But this one darn near took a piece out of me.
- Monday, November 5, 2012
One nasty hurricane more than enough for one lifetime
Hey, Sandy! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
- Monday, October 22, 2012
Latter-day stunt men still knew how to thrill
What is it with all these crazy stuntmen all of a sudden?
- Monday, October 8, 2012
Andy Williams, last of the great crooners
When singer Andy Williams died a week ago, it truly was an end of an era.
- Monday, September 24, 2012
Senator's farm was all I imagined
Many years ago, when I first arrived in Oneonta, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the senior senator from New York state. His top aide, Ross Frommer, used to come into the radio station for interviews and to tell my audience about the various legislative efforts involving "their senator."
- Monday, September 10, 2012
Family's history includes ancestor who knew Lincoln
- Monday, August 27, 2012
Making up for lost time on Facebook
If there ever was a true-blue phenomenon, it is Facebook.
- Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old