Thursday, August 11, 2011

It Came in the Mail: Hammacher Schlemmer Fall 2011

Okay, so if you guys don't know what Hammacher Schlemmer (hereafter "HS") is, then this post will certainly let you know. Also, if you have dial-up, it will certainly put a strain on your modem, because hella pictures.

I should also note that I have not "sold out." Hammacher Schlemmer has no idea of my existence and even if they did, I don't get the traffic that would be beneficial to them. I just like talking about catalogs today.

I haven't had much experience with this catalog before, despite getting several catalogs, and I was very excited and interested when it arrived because of a couple things.

It claims to be America's oldest catalog. Short version: it's like SkyMall with class and slightly less silliness. But that doesn't really begin to describe how perfectly odd this catalog is. It's the sort of magical odd that you don't usually think the world has left anymore, but indeed it does, and it is here. Nothing about this catalog makes exactly perfect sense. It's sort of just to the side of perfect. Some products it examines rigorously (more on that later) and holds to the highest standards. At times such as these it appears to be quite the classy catalog. Then other items pop in and make the whole thing look silly.

I mean, what? That's like a... huh?

It's this weird chimera of upper-crust offerings and more-credible-than-infomercial devices. There are going to be products that are very expensive. Products you never even thought you'd see in a catalog. It's going to blow your goddamn mind, bucko.

It does say "unexpected," after all.

So with that, let's dive in. We'll resurface together after you click "read more."

Okay, now if you remember the Hammacher Schlemmer slogan, it's "Offering the Best, the Only, and the Unexpected for 163 years". This tripartite motto is actually the core philosophy behind their catalog. Here, for instance, is a typical page:

It's here that we see one of the three parts: the "Best."

I'm a little surprised the best swim goggles in the world are only that expensive, but they certainly sound promising and if you swim a lot $25 is a good enough wager that they'll work, I'd think. Notice the green box at the bottom. That's what first signaled that this might be a very good catalog.

Now, I know, don't believe everything you read, but there's a way to actually sign up for this panel stuff and it's apparently a technically separate entity from the company. And it's not like they manufacture the stuff; they could have offered any old swim goggles here (price, as you will see in a moment, is no object for Hammacher Schlemmer). So I don't know, it at least sounds promising, and as someone who demands rigorous examination of quality products, I am very much a fan of this idea. I think that, after, all, weWAIT WAS THAT A SHILLELAGH


Okay, so with this they've got me leaning more towards their side. I'd say it's a little cheap to be, like, the Best Shillelagh ever, and they seem to have forgotten to mention filling the head of the club with lead to beat Englishman with, but the process they describe is pretty much that used to create shillelaghs. I mean, this isn't some cheap tourist stick, I wouldn't think. And to be fair they are careful to note that it's a little long to be a "proper" shillelagh. But it at least has the virtue of actually being made of the same wood as real shillelaghs, and although they don't say anything about burying the stick in manure for a year to harden it, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is but they didn't want to scare off customers. And again, if you're dead set on a shillelagh, $60 is not bad for a wager. Especially considering their money-back guarantee, "no questions asked."

I was talking a bit about what made Hammacher Schlemmer different. Well, for one thing, they appear to still have a copy editor (unlike a lot of publications) and I love the quaint, classy, and assured all-caps sentence headings like


Really makes one believe (whether it's true or not) that this catalog is carrying on a 163-year-old tradition. Great stuff.

Anyway, let's take a look at one of those other things that makes Hammacher Schlemmer different.

Here, for instance, is, and I'm not joking, a typical Hammacher Schlemmer spread. It would have illustrated another component of the catalog, "The Only," in the form of THE ONLY HEATED OUTDOOR CAT HOUSE., but it's just to the left of the tarantula and it didn't give as good a juxtaposition. I'm sure I've got another picture with an "ONLY' in it somewhere. Also note how I refrained from making a joke that involved as its conceit the synonym of "cathouse" for "brothel." This is a special occasion and it will not be besmirched by such talk.

Anyway, so that one is a little silly (probably the silliest)--or rather, "eccentric"--but there had to be a concentrated pocket of eccentricity somewhere in this thing, given its leanings. For the rest of the catalog it's mostly spread out. Here's another typical page:

So right there you've got your The Best Commuter Cup:

Which actually sounds pretty cool, and then you've got the "unexpected," on the same page:

Woah, holy crap, you can BUY the same lamps that decorate the New York Public Library? Holy crap!

I mean, just, wow! Wait... it looks like I mistakenly cropped off some important information! Let's see what the price is

Wow, damn, that's expensive. Looks like I'm not going to be getting that lamp after all.

It is here that Hammacher Schlemmer evinces a cruel predilection for showing you cool things and then pricing them way beyond your range.

Now I'm depressed. Let's take a look at another page.

This page demonstrates another facet of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs: an overwhelming desire to cheat time that will infect you with morbidity for at least two days after reading it if you're that kind of person (I kind of am). But on the plus side, science has finally delivered in an area not related to judging states!


It's a little pricey, but considering the lamps, it's not that bad. Also, considering that your ENTIRE PILLOW will be the "cool side," that seems like something worth paying for, if you have the money (I do not). And speaking of bed-related things:

Oh wow, that sounds really nice. If only I had an image that showed the price... no, wait, here it is, silly me.


I mean, I get that it's cashmere, but come on! Don't lull me in with that seductive description and then castrate my dreams!

Luckily, however, not all the expensive products are jealousy-inducing. Some of them are just plain strange. And, well, a little bit absurd:

Yes, it is the Most Pointless Thing in Existence. Why would you buy this? It's a manual scooter without a handle. It's probably more dangerous than an actual skateboard. So how much would you be willing to pay for this strange idea (I mean, seriously, why would you do this)?


Yes, that's right. I didn't clip that from somewhere else:

Wow. I can't imagine anyone wanting to pay for that. And yet I suppose there are people who will?

Okay, moving on, let's try

Woah, those are actually pretty neat--and, for sunglasses, affordable. I'm glad they don't look completely stupid like you'd think from the title. Let's look at another cool product.

That's actually really clever, I would buy that for a beach trip in a heartbeat. I hate sand. it's rough and coarse and it gets everywhere.

All right, let's check out TWO products AT THE SAME TIME!

Okay, first off: temperature regulating sheets? Awesome! Over $200 dollars? Aw, nuts!

As for the massage table, I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would buy this either. it seems to be targeted to a very specific market: people who are married to masseuses. I mean, you need two people for this item to actually do anything besides warm you up, right? You... you can't massage yourself. Unless I've been missing something all these years, which is quite possible. I guess maybe they've done demographic research and found out that masseuses comprise 35% of their readership and they figure a lot of them need new tables for their... massage... business? I don't know! This product is so confusing I'm becoming agitated by my inability to explain it!

Let's move on!

Oh wow, that would be a neat, quirky little thing to have in like a dorm or an apartment, really give it some character. It sounds like a really fun sort of

Oh. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


Well, let's see what else we can scrounge up that's more in an ideal price range.

Oh, that's actually pretty neat! I would buy that in an instant. My car especially has an annoying blind spot because part of the car itself is blocking your view. So this mirror would be a godsend.

What other cool, affordable things are there?

This cap checks all the right buttons for me. Irish-made? Fun! Dying art that craftsmen are struggling to keep alive in a world that stupidly cares little for it? I'm there! Hats? Yes please! Possibility that leprechauns will be involved somehow? Why Not?!

Okay, what about binoculars? I've been needing to spy on someone and

Perfect. A little pricey, but if I play it right, using these will lead me to a much bigger treasure. I would have preferred a spyglass, though, honestly.They had a Space Telescope of Some Kind but that was NOT what I was looking for.

Let's try our luck with hats again. What about a hat that you can stuff into a pocket?

Well I'll be. Perfect. One day, I'm going to buy this hat. It's still a little on the pricey side, but again, if the binocular/spyglass thing works out, money will not be an issue.

Which is good, because coming up is a hell of hardcore watch:

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang. I really want that, because MILITARY AND POLICE WATCH, but at the same time it might make me feel like a poser, like hipsters who wear army jackets they picked up from a Salvation Army or by mugging a homeless veteran (you might not have heard of hipsters mugging people, but it's a pretty underground phenomenon).

Next, let's check out something really useful for people who spend a lot of time at the computer, like me, or a high-powered businessman, who is also me, in this fantasy.

Wow, that actually looks pretty useful! I wonder how much it would cost to get that.

No, yes, I understand, it's really neat. But I'm looking for the price. Also, why would you need it to display information for up to 30 individuals?


I'm just imagining an office where they could afford this and then no other computers. People work in fifteen-minute shifts. The lady currently using it is named Wendy, and everyone always says, "Oh, like the restaurant?" when she tells them her name.

Right, so, let's move on to something a little less expensive.

Ah, here we go. Finally we have an illustration of "The Only," the second part of Hammacher Schlemmer's Trinity.

So it's like the all-terrain skateboard, but useful! In fact it sounds like a pretty hardcore bike.

I wonder how mu


I mean


I mean


I'm not kidding, either. I never kid about the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, I have decided.

That was supposed to be less expensive, Hammacher Schlemmer! LESS!

Anyway, there's also stuff like this:

That modular spatula looks pretty cool, and we've already examined the fan, but this also illustrates the health stuff I was talking about. Although I will say that when it says the electric current it sends to stimulate the muscles is harmless and then has a warning about pacemakers, I start to feel like maybe... I don't know. I mean I know obviously that doesn't mean it's dangerous for people without pacemakers, it just gives one pause when one considers ordering.


Well dang, that too is a mite expensive, which is a shame as I'd love to see if my hair could possibly be any more beautiful and luxurious.

Okay, I'll confess something. This was originally supposed to be a running series, and it may still be, but what I'm about to present to you next is a just... it's the best. We've seen hints of "The Unexpected" already, but this will blow your mind so much that you'll give it a tip. This is the apex, the peak, the zenith, the... you get the idea. There is nowhere to go but down from here. It's like losing your virginity to (name of popular celebrity considered attractive and thus sexually magnificent). Where do you go after that? Well, hopefully to the chapel to get married, you fornicators. God will forgive you if you follow him.

Anyway, I've just been stalling this whole time, because what you are about to see will just... it's just perfect. There is nothing more unexpected than this.

Are you ready?

No wait, not that, although that is pretty cool. It's just to the side, on the bottom right corner of the page, waiting for you to discover its magnificence.

Okay, this time for sure. Steel yourselves.

You ready?

Wait what... what is that?

Excuse me, WHAT WAS THAT

No. No way. Okay, Nimby, take a

--take a deep breath. Read.

I'm just speechless.

No way. No goddamn way. I... I wonder if I dare to dream.

Oh, apparently not.

1 comment:

  1. this blog...she's a good blog.

    Thank you for introducing me to the wonder that is Hammacher Schlemmer.

    - Sventington


Your comments are always appreciated (sometimes), and possibly mandatory.

Also, I know the blog has been screwing up logins, so if you aren't able to login, please write a name or something at the end of your post. Or whatever.