Day 568: Skymall’s Spectacular Bounty Of Strange

originally published July 21, 2013

If you have spent any time aboard a commercial airliner, and if while doing so you’ve been able to pry yourself away from the in-flight showing of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, edited for mature content (running time: approximately twelve minutes), then you’ve probably perused the pages of Skymall, the in-flight catalog designed to cash in on the natural distortion of perspective that comes from being thousands of feet above the ground with a credit card in your pocket.

Skymall began its life in 1990, initially offering same-day delivery, as they’d cleverly set up warehouses near the airports of every city into which catalog-toting planes would fly. This idea was soon dropped in favor of offering numerous products from other catalog companies, concocting a selection that lands somewhere between the Sharper Image and the Bradford Exchange.

I thought it might be fun to hop over to their website – much cheaper than buying an airline ticket – and see what treats they have to offer.

Here’s something that already has me scrambling for my credit card. It’s the Torso Toner – it’s a nude-colored (also available in ninja black and snow-ninja white!) shirt-thing that will flatten and tone your abs, chest and upper back. This is essentially gut-Spanx for men.

I don’t trust the ‘tone’ part of the ad copy; there’s simply no way wearing this is going to make your musculature any more effective, but it will contain one’s generous frumptitude in a sleek, less rotund frame. Perfect!

Hey, some people are prone to poor circulation down in their most extreme lower extremities. I understand that, which is why I hesitate (if only for a moment) to scoff at men who wear knee-high socks with shorts. But these men’s socks with the open-toe look… who wants to see that?

Well, one woman does, apparently. From one of the product reviews: “I love it when he lets those piggies out to play. Mmm, so delicious.”

Alright, I can see someone dropping $1750 for the full-size replica of a British phone booth. It’s not practical, but maybe it fits in with someone’s game room motif, or maybe they want a fancy place to store their Costco-size drum of Hellman’s mayonnaise. But who is parting with $1150 for a replica of King Tut’s throne? Yes, the gold leaf adornment is lovely, and at 84 pounds, this is a great way to get back at a moving company you don’t particularly like, but I’d sooner spend that money on three or four chairs that might actually be, I don’t know, comfortable.

Here’s a fantastic gift idea that says, “I really hate thirty of my dollars, and would rather see them wasted on this ridiculous gift for you than to have them stinking up my bank account.” It’s a weather center, which can effectively tell you the time, the temperature, the date and the humidity. For only $29.99 you can get all the same information you could acquire for free simply by looking at an app on your phone. An app that comes with the phone.

It’s best to purchase this for someone who either doesn’t have a smartphone or lives in the 1990’s or earlier.

Do you love music, but don’t like dealing with all this new-fangled technology? For the low price of $155.19 you can own an actual working gramophone. And by ‘actual working’, I don’t mean it’s a record player that features the stylish, old-timey look of a gramophone. No, this is the real thing. You have to wind the crank to run it, and even then it will only play 78rpm records.

This product has the look and functionality of something built in the 1920’s, but with the benefit of costing as much as a new car cost back then. How could anyone not want this?

Skymall is loaded to the overhead compartments with autographed photos, some of which appear to have been gathering dust in someone’s drawer for a long, long time. Here you can purchase an autographed photo of Jamarcus Russell, considered by many (including USA Today) to be the biggest NFL draft bust of all time. Russell was picked first overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 draft, landing a $39 million contract that did roughly nothing for the team.

Had they been a bit more selective, Oakland could have drafted Adrian Peterson, last year’s MVP instead. The good news is that Russell’s autograph can be yours for the weirdly high price of $71.08.

I need to clear something up here. Jewel Akens was an African-American singer who played with Eddie Cochran and toured with the Monkees. He had a top-10 single in 1965 called “The Birds And The Bees,” which is either about animal taxonomy or humping. $63.18 might not be too much to pay for an autographed photo of the guy if you’re a real collector. But if instead you happen to be a huge fan of Alaskan singer/songwriter Jewel, you may be somewhat disappointed if you ordered either of the two photos on the left and received a scribbled-on 8×10 glossy of some black guy.

I’m just saying – this is kind of an important detail.

Skymall has a section for musical instruments. In that section are some music stands, a lovely Celtic rosewood harp for $399, and this $90 Sheng Kwong metal gong. That’s it – that’s all Skymall feels they need to contribute to the world of music.

For the jaunty old billionaire who has everything but an elephant-head walking stick, here’s an elephant-head walking stick!

The worst part about any party is having to walk around holding your drink like a schnook, unable to truly gesticulate to your fingers’ delight, leaving your story about the raccoons and the IKEA ball-pit unanimated and uninspiring. Now you’ll never have to worry about losing half your hands to the necessary act of consuming wine!

Also, this product is very handy when a pickup game of basketball breaks out at your next cocktail affair.

Nothing in the world – and here I’m including genocides and gruesome nautical disasters – is worse than losing your cell phone. Now you’ll never have to worry about that again with the wrist-mounted cell phone holder. When you’re finished your call, just leave the phone strapped to your wrist and go on about your day, blind to the curious stares (obviously from jealousy) that you’ll be receiving.

This product seems to have been formulated with low-end flip-phones in mind, but if you have one of these, you can master the art of flicking your phone open with a yo-yo-esque wrist-twitch, thus impressing your friends, co-workers and fellow yacht-club members.

Thank you, Skymall. You make those dull hours over endless farmland so much more entertaining.

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