Surviving the Bad Times in Style

This weekend, I received a catalog from Brookstone (Motto: Helping People Waste Time at Malls since 1965.). Given the current economic climate, the catalog seems curiously passé. Yeah, we'd all really love to buy the $200 video glasses, but you know we're thinking of using our money to buy some food instead. I suppose there will always be a clientele for Brookstone, but their customer base has to have taken a hit. Already, this year, The Sharper Image went out of business, and I worry that Brookstone might be next.

For example, I wonder whether there is really a market left for a $199.99 "multi-media chair." How does this differ from the "single-media" chair you're sitting on right now? Well, this chair comes with "stereo headrest speakers and a built-in power subwoofer." I'm impressed, except that I only buy subwoofer chairs that are portable. Hopefully, Apple will come up with one soon that I can carry in my pocket. One can only assume it'll be called the iChair.

Still, I do feel bad for the subwoofer chair manufacturers. I would think that subwoofers for your chair would be the first thing to go in today's economic climate. Coming soon to a Congress near you: The Subwoofer Chair Industry Bailout Plan. After all, we can't afford to let this critical industry fail.

Another "Home Theater Recliner" for $399.99 seems to include a remote control, which will at least solve the problem of the lost remote control. If you lose this remote, then you have other problems than not being able to turn on your television. Along these lines, there is a wireless key tracker that will help you find your car keys. I wrote about needing something like this in 2001, so I'm glad to see someone is listening.

For $249.95, you can get a device to watch iPod video on a big screen. It's a radical new device, though Widescreen Dock for iPod is a somewhat clunky name. Apparently, they were going to call it a television, but it turns out that the name was already taken.

For the drunks in your life, you can get a $79.95 Digital Alcohol Detector (Alcohol not included). It's a great way to be safe, though if you play your cards right, you might be able to get the courts to give you one for free. I'm not sure what this is doing in a Christmas catalog. It doesn't exactly scream "Merry Christmas," although those who drink to cope with their family can now tell when they have sobered up enough to drive home from the holidays.

Speaking of drunks, the $99.95 Electronic Drink Caddy will dispense drinks directly from your golf bag, so you can stay liquored up for all 18 holes. Together, the two might make a nice combo gift.

I do actually like the $69.99 Voice-Activated Alarm Clock, which will respond to your directions. Say snooze, and the clock will automatically snooze -- excellent for those times when you're too tired to reach out your arm and swat. Best Feature: You can record memos to go off in the morning. I would use mine to scream, "Get the @#$% out of bed!" every morning, and I think that might just work.

There is also a Sound Therapy Device ($129.95) that will let you fall asleep to one of 12 tranquil sounds like ocean surf, summer night, white noise, or thunder storm. My girlfriend suggests that they should add a 13th sound called "Joe talking about baseball," but I can't imagine how that would be effective.

Meanwhile, the Travel Toothbrush Sanitizer ($39.95) will use UV light to sanitize toothbrushes. I'd get one, but, as a redhead, I don't want to get a sunburn while I brush my teeth.

Luckily, the Brookstone people are not entirely deaf to the economic conditions. I'm sure their LED headlamp ($29.95) will be great for when those with desk jobs get laid off and have to go work in the mines. And the most useful item may well be the $85 Stockcast Wireless Market tracker. With this, you'll know exactly when you become insolvent without all the trouble of hooking up to the Internet. Thank you, Brookstone!

    A periodic humor column, disguised as a blog. New columns published on Tuesdays or not as the case may be.


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