Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'm A Travelin' Man

“Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about…”

So I’m back in good old sunny Massachusetts, and I am offering you up some ramblings. The NFL and college previews will be done on Friday and Saturday respectably. I know you guys are on pins and needles waiting for it. Not to worry, Mell-o hears ya. Anyway, here’s a random thought about air travel: The Sky Magazine. Have you ever seen a more random array of product selection in one catalog? It’s insane. On one page, you can buy a watch, on another, a floor steamer, and the next, a marshmallow shooter. I’m serious, that was pages 24, 25 and 26. So what to make of all of this? I present to you my top 10 of the most clever and most stupid ideas found in the Sky Mall Magazine. Again, all these items are real…at least they are pictured and have names, so I guess they are real. Anyway, here goes, these are in no particular order:


1. The Upside-Down Tomato Garden, $70, Hammacher-Schlemmer. The boys at Hammacher have numerous entries in this list, so they will hereby be abbreviated H/S. Here’s the concept: It’s a stand made with a plastic base that is to be filled with something to keep it stable, preferably sand, and held together with PVC pipes. The reason this is useful is that the tomatoes hang in the air and not on the ground, where there is more likely a chance that the roots will rot. Also, the top layer can hold up to 8- lbs. of soil, meaning that, besides tomatoes, you could plant other herbs, which could be used to make a tomato sauce or whatever you want.

2. The LP-to-CD Recorder Stereo System, $400, H/S. Here’s the answer for anyone who has a massive record collection and wants to preserve it onto CDs without having to buy all the albums. The recorder supports every kind of vinyl, and has a CD playback function.

3. The Heated Vest, $130, H/S. This runs on batteries and can produce heat for up to four consecutive hours. The batteries are rechargeable and “unobtrusive,” so it won’t get into the way if you’re a biathlete trying to take out some targets with your sniper rifle. The whole biathlon thing is a whole different issue for a different column. It’s an old Seinfeld bit, but you can’t help but wonder how cross-country skiing and shooting targets ever got mixed into the same category of competition.

4. The Waterproof Picture-Taking Binoculars With LCD Screen, $80, H/S. Does anyone notice every item these guys make starts with “the?” I’m almost expecting to turn the page and see “The Contest” and “The Jimmy” or something. Anyway, this item is great for any underwater enthusiast looking to capture some amazing aquatic moments. The binoculars can store up to 40 pictures in its internal memory, and, it can capture up to 90 seconds of viewing with its camcorder function. The LCD screen allows you to view your pictures. There is also a slideshow feature, which allows you to view pictures that can be taken of something from as far away as 50 feet.

5. Secret Security Camcorder Hidden In A Clock, $180, Sharper Image. This is pretty good, almost in a “Scarface” motif of sorts. The clock features a camera that is no bigger than the butt of a pen. The camera turns on when there is any motion and automatically shuts off when the motion stops. To view the video, there is an included USB cable, so you can stream the video on a compatible PC. I’m not sure what kind of range this covers, but I can almost see someone getting one for each room, then you have to believe the robbers will know something is up when there is the same digital clock hanging on the wall of every room.

6. Phillips 9-Inch Rechargable Digital Photo Frame, $250, Sharper Image. Also included are four colors for the frame: white, red, silver, and black. This comes with an AC adapter and runs for 50 minutes on a lithium-ion battery. This also allows for slideshow viewing and has a zoom function. This is perfect for someone who has no stability in their lives. Just keep changing in and out with no cost to you.

7. Alcohawk ABI Blood Alcohol Content Breath Screener, $120, Sharper Image. Ok, now I’m wondering if there are gift certificates available to Sharper Image, because I’m thinking that if you’re thinking of any kind of graduation present for me, that would be a lock. Anyway, who among us has not thought about having one of these? This isn’t even that cleaver of an idea. I mean it’s been around for a good, long time. But, still, you can never underestimate an alcoholic’s dream of seeing how far they can raise the bar. $120 is still a little pricey for me though. I think I’m waiting on the Wal-Mart/Target version to fit my budget.

8. Stereo/Clock/Speaker Tower With An IPod Dock, $130-$500, Sharper Image. Anytime you combine anything with the word “IPod,” it’s basically dynamite right off the bat. This is no different. The speaker system is my personal favorite. It runs you $200, but the thing looks so good it could conceivably be worth it. Imagine something 42” tall, but is probably, I don’t know, maybe 6” wide. It’s pretty sleek looking.

9. Massaging Bed Lounger, $149, Frontgate. This has the look of one of those cushions that have arms on their sides. The lounger is made from memory foam, which is the new “thing” I guess. Here’s a random thought, speaking of memory foam. Anyone remember when Temperpudic came out with the memory foam mattress. You know, that commercial with the glass of wine, and the girl jumps up and down and it’s like, “hey, look, in case I ever have a full glass of wine on the bed, and I’m attempting a Triple Lindy from off the bed, the wine won’t spill…hooray!” Anyway, at the end of the commercial, they would always say something about how this is from “NASA technologies.” Ok…so apparently that’s where the money is going. Not for determining if there’s life on Mars, or different satellite missions, no, we’re concentrating on mattresses. And there seemingly hasn’t been any outrage, because we’re all drowsy alcoholics.

10. DigiMemo $150, Sky Mall Collection. Now this is just cool. Basically, you are given a 8.5 by 11” clipboard. You affix a regular piece of paper to it. Then, you use the wireless pen that they provide you. When you are ready, you attach a USB cable that connects from the clipboard to your computer, and “bam!,” the notes get sent to your computer. This is a great invention. For some reason, I almost believe that this could be in the whole “flying cars and moving sidewalks” movement. Handwritten notes on a computer, quite the concept. The only downside to this is that you have to use the pen they give you, so if the ink runs out, the pen sucks, or if you’re a pencil kind of guy, like myself, then you’re screwed. Hopefully if this will ever be made affordable, there will be some kind of trial offer.

Honorable Mentions: Portable Ice Rink, Marshmallow Shooter, Customizable Putting Green.


1. Icuiti Video Eyewear, $270, Sky Mall Collection. This is actually deemed as a “featured pick for 2006.” Yikes. I think Sky Mall may be over-hyping this one. Basically, this set of eyeglasses allows you to view a wider scope than what your normal vision allows. Ok, maybe Arnold when he’s in the jungle in “Predator” needs these, or Han Solo shooting TIE fighters, but for recreational use? I don’t think so. It’s enough when you’re watching like an IMAX movie or something to that effect, but when you add on to it, it’s going to be an overload.

2. The Pet Staircase, $80-$150, H/S. This has always been one of my “look what we’ve become” products. This needs no explanation. Everyone knows how it works. The only thing I’m going to point out is now it comes in three, four, five, and six steps. Six steps? Unless you have like an eight foot disparity between the floor and the bed, what’s the point?

3. Closet Organizer Trouser Rack, $40-$60. Ok, now this is a good concept on paper. It’s like, “well, we want to create some kind of organization method for pants, like we have with racks or hooks.” Here’s the thing, this looks ridiculous. I don’t care how functional it is. When you see this thing, you’ll know where I’m coming from. It comes in 10 or 20 slots. Who has 20 pairs of pants? Let me tell you something. If someone has twenty pairs of pants, they have butlers and maids to take care of this. They’re not relying on any sort of closet organizer.

4. The High-Capacity Portable Teeth Cleaner, $50, H/S. I mean I hate to crash this party, but I believe this has already been invented, and is known in the common world by the name “toothbrush.” Seriously, 50 dollars? I’m thinking you can probably get the same sensation by brushing with Crest and swishing with some Scope. Combined price: $3.00. Oh I do my market research.

5. The Fish Finder Watch, $140, H/S. This is the lowest of lows. Nothing screams “I have no clue” like wearing a watch to try and find fish. Anyone who buys this was repeatedly beaten up when they were a kid. Speaking of which, I’m intrigued by that new video game “Bully.” I think that’s a great concept for a game. Anyway, the beatings will continue if the buyer has any friends left.

6. Ok, I’m looking right now, and there are about 5 pet-related things available. I’m just going to generalize them all right now. They’re all stupid, all of them. Maybe it’s because I’m not a pet person and I don’t get it. Maybe, but still, I cannot see any person in their right minds (notice I threw that clause in there) buying any of these. A large capacity feline drinking fountain? For $70? These are the same people being proud that they were named Time’s Person Of The Year…by the way, big up to Time, who realized that 2006 was such a lackluster year for anything positive that they decided to create some delusional tactic of naming everyone person of the year for making the internet huge. Wasn’t the internet already huge to begin with? Just because people are getting ripped off on EBay for a Playstation 3, or because high-speed internet is now available to more porn freaks, this gives some justification for naming us person of the year? You know when the President isn’t even on the ballot, that these are trying times to be an American. Honestly, I think the chick who created Harry Potter should be the default person of the year until someone does something extraordinary to knock her off. Think about it. This book is about kids, and magic, and old people, and other stuff because I’ve never read the books. Anyway, people line up to get these books, and that’s what, like $15 a crack? Then, three box office smashes are released. I mean this lady’s got to be worth more than Oprah now right? And all of that money from such a stupid concept. She’s like the female George Lucas.

7. The Color Pattern Clock, $60, H/S. Seriously, Hammacher Schlemmer covers the entire spectrum in the cleaver-stupid range. This one, however, really pushes the limit of suckiness. This is like Morse code for clocks. Unless you understand what the different nautical flags represent, you will have no idea on what time it is. The clock basically sets up so that each number is represented by a different pattern. I mean you could give me this thing to try and figure out for three months, I would have no clue. This has to be the worst right? I mean, granted, I stopped reading the Sky Mall after 100 pages because there’s only so much I can take, but this, to me, is the come all, be all of the worst catalog-available product ever.

8. SeaScooter XL, $200, Sharper Image. The official height of laziness is when you need a motorized contraption to get around in the water in. I admit, if I tried it once, I’d probably have a good time. However, I can see this catching on, and then it will become something I can’t stand. Therefore, I deem this stupid based on potential fad status, and for establishing a new standard for an already overweight country.

9. Ston-O-Max, $100, Gadget Universe. You’ve seen this, especially if you watch Spanish soap operas. By the way, if you think that’s weird, you’ve obviously never watched them, or you would know exactly what I was talking about. I mean I’m sure all the premises are insane like the ones in the states, but I don’t understand it, and therefore, I only have to look at the girls, so it’s nice…it’s nice.. For a visual interpretation, it’s the thing you strap to your abs, and it vibrates, and then you are suddenly suppose to get a six-pack like the “mimbo” that’s in the ad. So now, fat people will sit around, watch TV all day, and have this thing vibrating against their abs, until the thing starts smoking, explodes, and you’re left with a hernia. Exercise people. That’s how you lose weight. Eat right and exercise. It’s not hard. Are you saying I could make millions of dollars by telling people this? I could have been millionaire. I could have been an exercise millionaire!

10. The Buckner Play…Framed…And Signed!, $99, $199, Steiner Sports. So the great thing about this idiotic memoir is that it’s signed by Buckner and Mookie. And I love the quote above it to entice people: “Back by popular demand!” How 'bout "Go f*** yourselves!", how ya like that little quote? I’m really starting to not like the Mets because of this. Before, I didn’t really have any problem. Ok, so one time, we got screwed at the behest of the Mets, but hey, they play in the NL, and they hate the Yankees, so what’s the problem? Well now the problem is that there’s a demand for this stupid picture. Oh by the way, it’s available in 8x10 and 16x20, so delusional Mets fans can decide how much space of their parent’s basement it takes up. Did I mention that there’s a ball that’s also available with both signatures. How much money are they paying Buckner to, not only have done it once, but to do a second session of signings? I’m really starting to dislike the Mets, and I hate the Drake!

Ok so that was fun…long, but fun. So, there’s even more things to get into. This is gonna cover miscellaneous issues in sports. Get ready…

Ok, I'm going to comment again on what happened at Madison Square Garden and the whole 'Melo incident. Despite the fact that we share the same name, granted there is an extra “l” and a hyphen in mine, I did not approve of the way ‘Melo went about his business. First of all, I applaud his initial efforts to get in the face of Mardy Collins and say that was a bush-league play, because it was. At no point, during any point of any NBA game, should a player try and foul a guy by attempting a chokehold. Then, here’s where I have a difference of opinion. First, the sucker punch. Ok, not the smartest move, but if you’re Collins, you have to expecting some kind of backlash and perhaps a fight to ensue. But the worst thing was when ‘Melo staggered back to the bench. If you punch a guy, you have to stand your ground. Going back to your bench to get behind the rest of the team is not the sign of a leader. A leader punches a guy, then expects the rest of his team to have his back, no matter what the circumstances. I will continue to support my man, I will continue to call myself Mell-o, I will continue to wear the #15, but as far as this incident is concerned, remember that my name’s spelled different, and therefore, I am not that kind of guy.

Speaking of which, the Nuggets threw the switch on the A.I. trade just a few days after the suspensions were handed down. So now the Nuggets will not lose as much as far as points. They gain a guy who is a leader, which they were obviously lacking before. This guy is a former MVP who is a game-changer. Unfortunately, they just lost Camby for two weeks, which is really going to set this team back. Fortunately, they did not have to get rid of any of the size from the team in the trade with the Sixers, so they will still have their reserves, coupled with J.R. Smith, who is currently appealing his ten-game suspension, and Iverson. The Nugs still have Nene to play center, and will somehow have to survive right now in the tough Western Conference until they come back to full strength. I happen to love the trade for the Nuggets. Andre Miller is a hell of a player. The guy is pretty much good for about 8-9 assists a game per year, but he is not the presence that the Nugs were lacking. With Iverson in the fold, they now get a lot of respect as far as being a team with a lot of weapons. J.R. Smith is still developing, but with the core of ‘Melo, Camby, and A.I., there is no reason to think that Denver can at least hang with a San Antonio or a Dallas. As far as Phoenix goes, no one can hang with them.

The J.D. Drew deal is still not done, and if you’re the Red Sox right now, you have got to take advantage and get out of this deal. With the excuse of a failed physical, they have all the leverage right now. If they do sign him, they should be able to knock the amount of guaranteed money down significantly, like $4-5 million a year. Considering the offseason that has been going on in baseball, $9 million for Drew would be considered a bargain. And, if they can somehow get out of a deal with Drew, they should make every effort necessary to get Trot back. Right now, no one, I mean no one, is even touching this guy. Here’s the thing, everyone knows about his history of missing games and all that, but this guy is a born and bred Boston guy. He plays that corner as well as anyone I’ve ever seen, perhaps only Dewey Evans played it better. Still, if you can get Nixon at, say, $7 million for just this year, it would be a fantastic move. All they need is a fix for one year. Ellsbury and Murphy are coming along at a rapid pace, especially Ellsbury. If they can get through this year, and maybe make the playoffs, then that would be a huge success. Then, in next year’s offseason, you’re most likely going to be seeing Torii Hunter, Ichiro, and Andruw Jones available. Jones will be the biggest target by the Red Sox, and they will do anything possible to dump Coco Crisp. Then, you can throw Murphy or Ellsbury over in right field. Also, this year, they should give one of the two some chances out in right this year to make sure they can get comfortable with the corner and the other messed-up dimensions in right.

The Celts are going through a real tough time right now. True, they had a five-game winning streak before it was snapped by Golden State on Wednesday, but in that time, they’ve lost Wally for an undetermined amount of time and Pierce for two to three weeks. So right now, they have three of their starting five from the season opener on the injured list. You know what this means? Hello Gerald Green! This guy is going to see a big bump in the amount of minutes he will play. This could be a litmus scale into determining if this guy is for real or if they should sell high on his tremendous upside. Remember…Joe Johnson or Marcus Banks? You never can tell. I am ecstatic about the play of Tony Allen and Al Jefferson over the past couple of games. Allen has really stepped up and is playing a wonderful two-guard. He is surprisingly physical, which was noticeable at the game I attended in Charlotte last Saturday. And of course, you can never sleep on Big Al, who has been attempting to break through for the last two years, but has been saddled with injuries and other setbacks. Now, it seems that Al is stepping up his game. He looks great, like he lost about 20 pounds. He’s really buff now. He’s been averaging nearly a double-double a night since being re-instated into the starting lineup. I have always been a big Big Al fan, and I’m just praying that he can contain some of this magic for the duration of the season, because with the lackluster play of now-injured Kendrick Perkins, this guy is going to have to become the rock in the middle.

I’m going to try and get my NFL picks in by Saturday’s KC-Oakland throwdown in the Coliseum. Meanwhile, again, my best wishes goes to everyone over the holidays. Take care now.


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