Gone to the great mall in the sky
January 23, 2015 8:42 AM   Subscribe

America's favorite in-flight purveyor of ridiculousness, SkyMall, has filed for bankruptcy, blaming the increased use of electronic devices on planes for the drop in sales.

SkyMall's unusual offerings have been the subject of various listicles over the years: Cracked, Gizmodo, HuffPo, BuzzFeed.

Also for your enjoyment: parody site SkyMaul (home of the Condo Pony), the SkyMall Kitties song.
posted by Metroid Baby (187 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aw, man. That was SUCH an awesome diversion on long, boring flights.
posted by Melismata at 8:44 AM on January 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


Aw! One of my favorite ways to pass some time while flying with my partner was to play the "If you HAD to buy something from this page, what would it be?" game.
posted by amarynth at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2015 [35 favorites]


DAMN YOU, METROID BABY! I was just about to make a post about this!

Extra links: I saw the future in Las Vegas and it is Skymall


Skymall loses its captive audience.

posted by josher71 at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Where will I get my Garden Yeti now?
posted by leotrotsky at 8:49 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


Someone on facebook linked this Buzzfeed list of ridiculous SkyMall items today.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:50 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


NO MORE LIFE SIZE ANUBIS STATUES WHY
posted by poffin boffin at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2015 [20 favorites]


Paging through the parody SkyMaul is one of the hardest times I've ever laughed. Just hit all the right notes. Also from the same comedians: Khraigslist.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:54 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


This was pretty predictable. I used to always flip through the SkyMall; I never bought anything, but occasionally I'd see something and think "I wonder if that actually would work" or whatever. But since I got an iPad I've not looked at it once. It was always a business model which required a captive and desperately bored audience.
posted by yoink at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


And here I was seriously thinking of switching airlines because my last couple of flights had no SkyMall. Now I guess I'll just bring my own ridiculous assortment of catalogs with me on any flight I take.
posted by asperity at 8:56 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Coulton was right -- the only reason for SkyMall to exist was that you should have brought something to read. However, I bought this stroller from them, and it is terrific. Also, like all right-thinking people, I consider myself a failure for never putting a life-size Bigfoot statue in my yard.
posted by Etrigan at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Turns out, the most useless contraption peddled by SkyMall was... itself.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:58 AM on January 23, 2015 [22 favorites]


One of the most enjoyable things about Skymall was watching the maturing of the marketing department for the guy selling those bouncy shoes with the spring in the heel (literally) - the early ones were all shots of him with mystical hand gestures and (something like ) "Alexander Tech WIZARD" shoes and how TOTALLY FUCKING RAD he was to later ones with boring and sober discussions of how they helped you walk better and some doctor recommendations.

I can just imagine the boardroom discussions: "So, about these ads. We TOTALLY agree you are a tech WIZARD and all that, but it does make you come off as a bit of a kook/nutball and we think it's damaging sales. Can we just... try an advert without your weird starey eyes in it? Like a proof of concept? Please?"
posted by Brockles at 9:02 AM on January 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


SkyMall, has filed for bankruptcy, blaming the increased use of electronic devices on planes for the drop in sales.

I always bring a book on flights and hardly pay any attention to SkyMall. I guess in general books and magazines weren't distracting enough?
posted by Gelatin at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2015


Oh the Sky Mall, let it crumble....

I bought something from skymall! It was a computer stand that fit the dimensions I needed perfectly. Then it broke. I did not buy anything else from them (I did buy a watch from the Air France inflight catalogue, it was an exclusive!)
posted by The Whelk at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2015


They can still keep producing just the catalog, right? Right?? I'd happily buy a copy of that instead of whatever stupid thriller I picked up before my flight.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:06 AM on January 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


But where am I going to get my replica Harry Potter wands now?
posted by Roentgen at 9:07 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


I guess in general books and magazines weren't distracting enough?

The problem with books and magazines was the dreaded "I didn't bring enough." You find yourself sitting on the tarmac for two hours because "oops, we forgot to put one of the engines in!" or whatever and suddenly you're thinking "hey, I guess I do want to read that '10 Best Llama-farm Tours in Rural Idaho!' feature in the in-flight magazine. I mean, sure, it was always an option to bring "more books" but that also means more weight and more bulk in your carry-on.
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


Petition to carry the J. Peterman catalogue in its stead.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Incidentally, one of the founders of SkyMall is in the Arizona Senate, where he is only barely wackadoo enough for his district.
posted by Etrigan at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


They had sales?
posted by orme at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had always just assumed that the whole SkyMall catalog was a joke and I'm amazed to hear anyone ever bought something out of it because come on LIFESIZE BIGFOOT GARDEN STATUES.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:11 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


But doesn't it take like, at most 15 minutes to read a Skymall? It's not exactly a challenging text.

(petition for a literary experimental catalog for airlines, dense tomes of wordplay, metafiction, truth and lies, puzzles, interlocking and cryptic mystery and free shipping.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Speaking for myself, when I fly I bring a ton of things to distract myself... my iPad, phone, 3DS, books... but I always find myself pulled by some primal force to go through the entire SkyMall catalog. It's become such a big part of the "flight ritual" that I don't know how I'll handle it not being there if the catalogs do eventually disappear. Of course, I never once bought anything from SkyMall, so I guess I'm part of the problem.

Sorry guys. My bad.
posted by tittergrrl at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2015 [26 favorites]


Sorry, it's Alexander Innovation Wizard. I had to look him up and found his Ninja Innovation Hand Gestures on his website there.
posted by Brockles at 9:14 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


those bouncy shoes with the spring in the heel

The Gravity Defyer shoes! Their old logo was probably the most ill-advised thing in a catalog full of bad ideas. They eventually changed it from a sperm to a butt with something stuck in it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh no! Where have you gone, Alexander Innovation Wizard? Our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you!

I have to admit a sneaking fondness for Alexander Innovation Wizard, and kind of wanted to live in his outrageously silly, and very, very bouncy world. I mean you couldn't take it seriously at all, but it seemed like a nice and harmless world of goofy fun where everybody was happy and bouncing around like Springheeled Jack for no particular reason.


Also, I think the trick is to follow the customer base. If they're not captive and desperately bored on airplanes anymore, go where they are captive and desperately bored. Watch this space for my upcoming venture: CubicleMall!
posted by Naberius at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wanted one of those isolation pods for my cat. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GLORIOUS
posted by Kitteh at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2015


Their old logo was probably the most ill-advised thing in a catalog full of bad ideas

Wait...why was the logo a sperm? I mean, it's pretty clearly genuinely meant to be a sperm, isn't it? It's not just a "ha ha, if you look at it just right it's kinda sperm-like!" Was it a kind of "this is a seminal idea" thing or a "you'll love these shoes so much you'll splooge!" thing or what?
posted by yoink at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Someone on facebook linked this Buzzfeed list of ridiculous SkyMall items today.

So THAT'S where my cousin found me that wine glass holder necklace! (Number 3 on that list)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


They can still keep producing just the catalog, right?

I love the idea of buying the SkyMall catalog and keeping it running, filling it with offers full of random crazy shit that doesn't and shouldn't exist. Crosswords big enough to blanket a house! Chihuahua wineglass-holders! Solar powered groin-cooling "fan-derwear"! All this could be yours for this very reasonable price!
posted by mhoye at 9:22 AM on January 23, 2015 [25 favorites]


*puts her hand over her heart and gazes toward the horizon as a bald eagle sheds a tear over the all-time greatest SkyMall offerings, terrifying six-foot-tall headless woman lamp and garden zombie*

#NEVERFORGET
posted by divined by radio at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Good riddance. Considerably less oil and rare-earth elements being turned into junk objects that break after two weeks and end up in the landfill and/or oceanic garbage patch.
posted by acb at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you had kids, SkyMall was good for playing an impromptu treasure hunt to pass the time.

"Okay, now find Bigfoot".

Now I gotta ask them to find a picture of Jeff Smisek? Wonderful.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:28 AM on January 23, 2015


There goes my dream of getting one of my-year-of-living-biblically type book deals, where I live for a year in an apartment furnished only from the SkyMall catalog.
posted by thelonius at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2015 [21 favorites]


Dammit, I was so gonna buy that yeti sculpture.
posted by ocschwar at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2015


I know the Garden Yeti is the general favorite, but I've always had my eye on the Easter Island statutes myself, at least in a "wouldn't it be funny to buy this and have it shipped to a friend's house" kind of way.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm guessing a big part of their market was very, very busy frequent travelers who don't have time to ever go shopping but who still need to buy gifts for clients and family. A savvier company would've seen the writing on the wall with Amazon's improving delivery infrastructure and set up something were they could deliver catalog offerings to airport lockers (exclusivity pre-arranged) and/or had people actually meet travelers at baggage claim with gifts from the country they just flew back from; 'hey kids, look at this folk art thing I brought back from Slovakia'! As a bonus they could've maybe sold a boatload of overpriced toiletry kits after the TSA cracked down on all that junk. Nose hair trimmers, nail clippers, and 4.0 oz shampoo bottles only $49.99.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:30 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Good riddance. Considerably less oil and rare-earth elements being turned into junk objects that break after two weeks and end up in the landfill and/or oceanic garbage patch.

*crosses acb's name of "Loves to party" list*
posted by josher71 at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2015 [23 favorites]


A savvier company would've seen the writing on the wall with Amazon's improving delivery infrastructure and set up something were they could deliver catalog offerings to airport lockers

...that .... is actually a pretty good idea. Make arrangements with the TSA and you'd be golden. Food, even! ("Thank you for your business, your mildly overpriced food products will be in Unit #1234. The entry code is ABCXYZ. Today you saved $123 by not purchasing from concourse vendors.")
posted by aramaic at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


I love the idea of buying the SkyMall catalog and keeping it running, filling it with offers full of random crazy shit that doesn't and shouldn't exist.

So, like, a paper version of Apple Cabin Foods?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


.
posted by Sheppagus at 9:40 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


RIP the greatest diversion for three-year-olds on planes ever—find all of the dogs in the SkyMall catalog. Then, find all of the cats in the SkyMall catalog.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:42 AM on January 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


See also: SKYPAUL (Paul F. Tompkins comments on Skymall products.)

Why bother buying a lifesize Bigfoot statue when you can get the real thing? Just by move to the rural Pacific Northwest, sit in your backyard and wait five minutes.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Didn't SkyMall have some ridiculous business dealing that almost sank them a couple of years ago? Or am I misremembering with some other publishing snafu?

Ah, looks like I was thinking of the Xhibit deal. Yes, all companies should be trading at 30x revenue! Perfectly fine, nothing to see, move along here.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:47 AM on January 23, 2015


Awww...SkyMall was the best diversion during "please turn off your electronic devices" time.
posted by kjs3 at 9:47 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


For those of you lamenting that you missed your chance for a garden sasquatch or celebrating the lessened production of petroleum based products, never fear because skymall was simply a catalog that aggregated those products from other manufacturers and suppliers. They had simply built a business model predicated on selling to travelers.

Garden squatch and oil based junk is still very much available and acquirable to your hearts content.
posted by Karaage at 9:50 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


But doesn't it take like, at most 15 minutes to read a Skymall? It's not exactly a challenging text.

WHAT? You can get through that in 15 minutes? You don't browse for like an hour, marveling at the wonders contained within? I mean, sure, if it were just an exercise in reading comprehension that would be one thing, but it is not! Skymall is an example of the glorious heights to which humans can rise, literally, through the medium of air travel. I mean, we figured out a way to FLY! We can FLY! And for many people, including me, an integral part of the flying experience was seeing the absolutely hilarious wasteland of nonsense embodied in the Skymall catalog. We take this amazing opportunity to fly and it becomes SO NORMAL to us that, instead of being in a state of constant wonder that we are in an enormous metal tube flying a mile above the ground, we're like "I'm bored. What's next? Massive yeti statue? Branding iron for steaks? Sure, I'll look at that, gee, this flying thing sure is a drag, huh?". We've normalized an amazing human accomplishment in a shockingly small span of time, gotten bored with it, and we're ready to move on to the next thing. The brilliant absurdity of the Skymall catalog and the fact that it is explicitly "Skymall" because we have become so accustomed to the idea of flying that we need to distract ourselves with inanities is a signifier of what made this species great.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2015 [52 favorites]


Someone on facebook linked this Buzzfeed list of ridiculous SkyMall items today.

Thanks! Found one that looked interesting, and it's still for sale. Would be a nice accessory to a cowboy costume.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:54 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wasn't the SkyMall catalog just an aggregator for other catalog vendors? For example, many of the items featured above like BigFoot are from Design Toscano, and the cigar stuff IIRC was from Thompson. But yeah, having all of that in one catalog was fun to page through. I always wondered if my cats would ever use this which, fear not, is still available elsewhere.
posted by foonly at 9:55 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I love how in Skymall they always told you exactly how you were supposed to react to something. If an item was hilarious, they would be very clear about it in the description. "Amuse your friends with this hilarious cocktail glass designed to look like a wang!" they'd say, or "This whimsical gnome will brighten up any garden before coming alive in the night and feasting on your eyeballs" if an item was whimsical. I find determining my own emotional reactions completely exhausting so I really appreciated this handy guide.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:55 AM on January 23, 2015 [49 favorites]


But where am I going to get my replica Harry Potter wands now?

I don't know about you, but I have at least two Harry Potter themed stores within a mile of my house. It's people like you that are killing the small business owner/goblin. Shop local!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 9:58 AM on January 23, 2015


Well then... back to reading Family Incest Taboo Magazine on the red-eye.
posted by Auden at 9:59 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, Skymall was basically an aggregate of the surreal and ridiculous - all they need to do now is merge with Ingress and stick QR codes everywhere and put out an app.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2015


I used to use the Skymall tablet app. It was awful for the longest time, requiring an online connection just to browse the catalog. Then when they changed away from that, their updates became very sporadic. And now this.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2015


I always liked Design Toscano cause not only was everything overpriced AND badly made, it also fulfilled the space of The Objectively Worst Taste In Home Decor - like ancient Egyptian theme rooms and 5 foot tall plastic copies of famous statues that pee - you'd instantly be swept into a world of much money and zero taste that was so complete it formed a new, raw aesthetic of the completely insane.

I keep trying to imagine their ideal customer and keep coming back to a trophy spouse n a McMansion in like a Houston suburb who has 18 extra rooms to fill and desperately needs a day bed shaped like a medevil tomb.
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


Wasn't the SkyMall catalog just an aggregator for other catalog vendors?

Frontgate - they always had a certain amount of outdoor tchotchkes listed.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2015


Man, I'm taking this pretty hard, I feel like I'm losing an old friend. At least I'll still have the ads in the in-flight magazine for the Chester L. Karrass negotiation seminars and the dating services where the matchmakers all look like HR analysts.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:01 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


PERFECT FOR THE FAMILY ROOM
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I also love that's a "Life Size Anubis Sculpture" because, like, how the hell do you know how tall Anubis is?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:05 AM on January 23, 2015 [41 favorites]


Favorite Tweet about it today:

Steve Rushin @SteveRushin
SkyMall has filed for bankruptcy. Creditors are asked to line up by zone number
posted by 724A at 10:06 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


That "Ravishing Rachel" statue wasn't in any Skymall I ever saw. ewww
posted by theodolite at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2015


Look, if we know one thing about Anubis - it's that he was fucking jacked.
posted by The Whelk at 10:09 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I purchased something from the SkyMall once. It was in the early 90s. I purchased some portable filing boxes. I was happy with the purchase except for when I answered truthfully to my teenager about where I got it. I was the subject of derision for years.
posted by 724A at 10:11 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I used to live near a Design Toscano brick-and-mortar store in the suburbs of Chicago.

It's apparently since closed, but I was always curious why they needed a physical store unless it was some kind of IRS loophole to do so.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:12 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


My husband broke this news to me gently this morning. We used to love going through the ridiculous catalog together on flights. When we were frustrated with demands for a wedding registry even though we had been living together and could think of practically no things we needed, I seriously considered looking into whether we could register at SkyMall, just to see what kind of batshit gift roulette we could play. Of course, with regular registries you might get six fondue sets, but that's probably preferable to six Bigfoot statues (Bigfeet?)

PS: Kitteh, never fear, the CAT PODS are still available! (Plus you can get a matching one for yourself for only $10,000 more.)
posted by ilana at 10:13 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Look, if we know one thing about Anubis - it's that he was fucking jacked.

What i knew is, he is safety-minded.
posted by thelonius at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


If they remove Skymall from airplanes they'll have to replace it with something else that has occasional pictures of dogs in it
posted by Legomancer at 10:21 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was recently at the airport with a perceptive teenager who said "what did Brookstone sell before there were iPhone accessories?"
posted by spitbull at 10:23 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Nine years later, I am still chuckling about the Large Black Thing. (It's a Penny Arcade link... I know, I know.).
posted by mochapickle at 10:23 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


(And I should have checked the linked lists first, because of course the cat pod is already on one as the #1 dumbest thing, along with the person pod. They couldn't even Photoshop in a serene-looking cat, and they definitely didn't convince an actual cat to get in there. It's more of a cat punishment device. "Will you get off the kitchen counter, Mittens, or do you want to GO IN THE CAT POD!?")
posted by ilana at 10:24 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


.

Also number 24 on the Buzzfeed list (the bug vacuum) is very popular in the UK. Sold at Lakeland!
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2015


IT GOES INTO THE POD OR IT GETS THE HOSE AGAIN
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


whole buncha unexamined consumerist mindset in this thread, notwithstanding the jokes
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:27 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


.
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dammit....where am I going to get a vibrating tongue cleaner?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:31 AM on January 23, 2015


Look, if we know one thing about Anubis - it's that he was fucking jacked.


Even his head is a jackal.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


My all-time favorite SkyMall product: Animatronic Disembodied Chimp Head
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was always really tempted to get the pierogi Christmas tree ornament.
posted by misskaz at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was recently at the airport with a perceptive teenager who said "what did Brookstone sell before there were iPhone accessories?"

Brookstone: When you need to buy a "personal massager" that doesn't look like a "personal" massager.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:44 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


how the hell do you know how tall Anubis is

You use imdb. He's 6'2".
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tom Haverford is going to be very disappointed.
posted by dave*p at 10:56 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


a vibrating tongue cleaner

This tongue...it vibrates?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:01 AM on January 23, 2015


There are certain kinds of products that you'll never be able to sell again outside of a prison setting. Where else are you going to find someone bored enough to create handwriting samples for their own personalized font?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:02 AM on January 23, 2015


set up something were they could deliver catalog offerings to airport lockers (exclusivity pre-arranged) and/or had people actually meet travelers at baggage claim with gifts from the country they just flew back from

I was reading the Wikipedia article about SkyMall recently (because I was trying to figure out why it hadn't been available on recent flights!), and this is, actually, not that far from their original business model. The aggregate catalog aspect came later.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:03 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I love how in Skymall they always told you exactly how you were supposed to react to something.

Do they, though?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Where else are you going to find someone bored enough to create handwriting samples for their own personalized font?

some comic creators use those to avoid using bad standard fonts or having to hand letter everything just sayin
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I love how in Skymall they always told you exactly how you were supposed to react to something.

Do they, though?


I feel like "Wine not included." tells you everything about how you're supposed to react to that.
posted by Etrigan at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2015


whole buncha unexamined consumerist mindset in this thread,

O.K., I'll bite. How does people laughing at things they would never buy=consumerism? For consumerism to be in play, doesn't someone have to, you know, consume something?
posted by yoink at 11:15 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


The wine glass holder necklace cannot be exported due to ITAR.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:17 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Idk that sounds like something someone who wanted to conceal a recent anubis statue impulse purchase might say to throw us off the scent.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:17 AM on January 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


Several Anubis statues, you know, to make sure your passage into the afterlife is smooth
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


O.K., I'll bite. How does people laughing at things they would never buy=consumerism? For consumerism to be in play, doesn't someone have to, you know, consume something?

If I had more money than sense I would definitely just ship this stuff to people at random.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:32 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Brothercaine touched upon this, but I always thought the biggest hurdle of actually selling dumb stuff to people this way is that on a flight, there is too much time after someone thinks "Yes! I want this. This will be fun!" to loose the weird euphoria of buying a dumb thing because you picture yourself or someone else having a laugh or use for it, or simply buying it for kicks. That feeling passes, and they think a bit more clearly about it, and realize that actually buying it is a dumb idea and chuckle at themselves for almost falling for that.

If you could not only make the impulse purchase from the plane's convenient credit card swipers in the phones that are mounted on the back of each seat, AND the stuff would be there waiting for you at the airport, however, things would be different. For the rest of the flight, you would then either have something else to look forward to when you arrived, or spend that time in existential dread knowing you will come face to face with a physical manifestation of the consequences of your bad decisions and you are trapped in a metal tube traveling at over 500mph towards that encounter, and there is nothing you can do to change that.
posted by chambers at 11:32 AM on January 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


How does people laughing at things they would never buy=consumerism? For consumerism to be in play, doesn't someone have to, you know, consume something?

Well, looking at a catalog is essentially viewing advertising, no? Unless one is truly doing it ironically (and I'm not convinced that everyone in this thread is, or I wouldn't have made my comment in the first place), I think window shopping - both the literal and catalog kind - fall under the heading of "consumerist mindset", yes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2015


Now I gotta ask them to find a picture of Jeff Smisek? Wonderful.

Omg I haven't flown United in a couple years now and I still have a pavlovian fucking shudder reaction at that guy's name. Like next thing you know his smug little face is going to appear somewhere in my vicinity and deliver an Important Stakeholder Message in which Arbitrary Words are Audibly Capitalized for no goddamn reason.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unless one is truly doing it ironically (and I'm not convinced that everyone in this thread is

Oh come on, how is it even possible to view the SkyMall catalog unironically? My late grandmother was the least ironic person on Earth four years running (1937 - 1941), and if she'd ever seen a SkyMall catalog, she would have seen it through an ironic lens that would have deeply unsettled her.
posted by Naberius at 11:38 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think window shopping - both the literal and catalog kind - fall under the heading of "consumerist mindset", yes.

I don't really agree with this overall but in this specific case I think you are miscategorizing "looking at a thing because you are bored (at work, on the actual plane, whatever)" as "window shopping".
posted by poffin boffin at 11:43 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's like you're saying that everybody making fun of Skymall in this thread is taking the "and such small portions!" position in the joke.
posted by rhizome at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whoa! Who are you people who are saying bad things about Design Toscano? My backyard is a menagerie populated by animals from Design Toscano (I think I have 6 of them back there). Ruling over them all is my 6 foot long Galapagos tortoise which looks so lifelike that visitors regularly ask me if it's real! Me and my zoo will not put up with any of this unwarranted badmouthing!

I also have a white owl sitting on a tree in the front yard. From 10 feat away it's freakishly real. I've always been happy that it hasn't been stolen. I think people respect and fear it too much.
posted by HappyEngineer at 11:48 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Whoa! Who are you people who are saying bad things about Design Toscano? My backyard is a menagerie populated by animals from Design Toscano (I think I have 6 of them back there). Ruling over them all is my 6 foot long Galapagos tortoise which looks so lifelike that visitors regularly ask me if it's real! Me and my zoo will not put up with any of this unwarranted badmouthing!

There is no location information in your profile; please advise whether you are within driving distance of DC.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:52 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


.
posted by ghostbikes at 11:55 AM on January 23, 2015


My all time favorite SkyMall item (which I did not purchase alas) was the thumb & forefinger oven mitt, for pulling tiny things out of the oven. Someone actually designed them, and then had them manufactured! What a crazy free market system we live in. Sweeet jebus.
posted by tarantula at 11:55 AM on January 23, 2015


My favourite SkyMall item: a trio of plastic deer for your lawn. Helpfully captioned "Mother," "Baby," and "Medium."

I seriously think it's worth it to have two kids just so I can refer to one as "Medium."
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 11:58 AM on January 23, 2015 [28 favorites]


and I'm not convinced that everyone in this thread is

You know, assuming that everybody is engaging in a discussion in bad faith is not a great starting position.
posted by yoink at 11:59 AM on January 23, 2015


So far this hasn't shown up on deadmalls.com Although they catalog the dead malls by state and I'm not sure which state "sky" would be in. Perhaps Montana?
posted by TedW at 11:59 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I seriously think it's worth it to have two kids just so I can refer to one as "Medium."

And if Medium happened to be twins, you could have "Medium" and "Extra Medium"!
posted by TedW at 12:03 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is no location information in your profile; please advise whether you are within driving distance of DC.

Sorry, opposite coast. :)
posted by HappyEngineer at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2015


and "Extra Medium"!

You call this one Spare Parts
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you watched hours of TV "ironically", because you're bored and are looking for "diversion", do you think that position of irony would prevent people from calling you a couch potato nevertheless?

I think you are miscategorizing "looking at a thing because you are bored (at work, on the actual plane, whatever)" as "window shopping".

That's what I mean by "unexamined". How can you consider viewing a very silly catalog, or even window shopping as a separate phenomenon (if you insist), as diverting? Even if I didn't think to bring my own book (which I've never forgotten to do), I'd rather stare out the plane window or sleep than waste brain CPU cycles on anything like a catalog, ironically or not. Same with window shopping; there's zillions of other things to do to avoid boredom than stare at stuff to by, no matter how idly.

Maybe my phrasing isn't very clear; by "consumerist mindset" I don't just mean simply "I want to buy something". What I'm trying to point out is a preoccupation with Stuff in a larger sense, which would also include "I don't want to buy that - or that - or that - nope, not that either..." etc.: so why are you continuing to look at it? Why aren't you finding entirely some other way to not be bored?
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you even own a TV?
posted by mrnutty at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


Why aren't you finding entirely some other way to not be bored?

whole buncha unexamined smarmy internet commenter mindset going on in this thread, notwithstanding the boring rants
posted by invitapriore at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


so why are you continuing to look at it?

Perhaps because it so perfectly encapsulates how ridiculous our Stuff-obsessed culture is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:09 PM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


so why are you continuing to look at it? Why aren't you finding entirely some other way to not be bored?

1) If I am alone with my thoughts for too long I become suicidally depressed.

2) Have you seen that shit? Some of it is effing HILARIOUS.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:10 PM on January 23, 2015 [13 favorites]


The real point is who gives a fuck why? This notion that there's some inviolable moral imperative to avoid viewing advertising at all costs, or that viewing advertising is always and unavoidably harmful, is a pretty laughably juvenile position.
posted by invitapriore at 12:12 PM on January 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


so why are you continuing to look at it? Why aren't you finding entirely some other way to not be bored?

I have read the back of a shampoo bottle to pass the time while pooping. I guess I should have taken those 5 minutes to better myself instead.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:16 PM on January 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


so why are you continuing to look at it?

The silliness of it all. It's mesmerizing and amusing. I sit there and think about the people who may buy these items, or have designed them. There's honest creativity in some of those products as well, as ridiculous as some of them are... maybe as much as in any novel. They aren't things I would get for the most part, but they must sell because they've been in that catalog for YEARS.
posted by tittergrrl at 12:17 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'd rather stare out the plane window or sleep than waste brain CPU cycles on anything like a catalog, ironically or not.

Brain "CPU cycles" are both renewable and not able to be stored. Waste away!
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:17 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean lbr it's a little funny that the high road here is "I STARE AT NOTHING AND LIKE IT"
posted by poffin boffin at 12:20 PM on January 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


I mean lbr it's a little funny that the high road here is "I STARE AT NOTHING AND LIKE IT"

Relevant
posted by mrnutty at 12:24 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


i of course have placed both my eyes into mimisbrunnr so that my wisdom will no longer be tainted by commercialism
posted by poffin boffin at 12:25 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing a big part of their market was very, very busy frequent travelers drunks...
posted by ennui.bz at 12:32 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Why aren't you finding entirely some other way to not be bored?

Never change, Metafilter, never change.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:32 PM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


If anyone at Skymall had any sense, they'd have struck some kind of deal with the various airlines' wifi providers to have onboard web access punctuated with Skymall ads a la Hulu or news slideshow/carousel commercials that you have to see and click through. My guess is they'd start making more money than they had with the paper catalogs.
posted by aught at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


If anyone at Skymall had any sense...

they would have put out a publication called "BarMall" and distributed to every TGIFridays across this benighted land...
posted by ennui.bz at 12:39 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a tragedy.

I've always been inspired by the SkyMall copywriters. To come up with such over-the top banal crap day in and day out, and thinking up titles for each and every object that fit the "The Inflatable Garden ___ ____" model is a literary triumph that we will all be the poorer for losing.
posted by MetropolisOfMentalLife at 12:41 PM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'd rather stare out the plane window or sleep than waste brain CPU cycles on anything like a catalog

Really? I'd be jonesing to browse bullshit magazine text rather than not be reading at all when bored; I guess that makes me a compulsive reader, even if it means reading crap. (Like poffin boffin I'd be pointlessly reading toiletry bottles in the bathroom or cereal boxes at the breakfast table too if I didn't have a book at hand.) Besides, the view from the plane is often quite amazing, but you can only stare out the window at cloud tops for so long. But I am very anxious to have a book or ebook reader with me at all times, so it's rare that I personally have resorted to Skymall on a plane in recent years, when I almost certainly have a novel in some paper or electronic format at hand.
posted by aught at 12:42 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Doesn't Cheesecake Factory put ads in its menus? Selling tchotchkes wouldn't be far off.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:42 PM on January 23, 2015


Why would you waste time reading a catalog full of products on a plane, when you could be building your own plane that doesn't have any catalogs in it? That's what I do whenever I fly on a plane. I build a second plane, better than the first plane, and I do NOT allow advertisements to be on my plane. I also don't allow mindless consumers to "buy" tickets for my plane, thus keeping it free from advertising's influence. I also don't allow myself to get on the plane, because that would be giving in to the plane's ability to persuade me that I need to be on a plane. Consequently, I have never flown on a plane. Maybe try it, sometime, sheeple.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2015 [50 favorites]


What I'm trying to point out is a preoccupation with Stuff in a larger sense

Why do you assume its unexamined though? I would certainly fall under your definition but its not like I'm not aware of it or haven't thought about it. There's plenty of "examined" consumerism out there.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2015


omg this computer itself is a stuff
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:04 PM on January 23, 2015 [13 favorites]


Or maybe you just mean "not examined in this thread", which makes sense given this really isn't a post geared to larger discussion (IMO).
posted by thefoxgod at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that when someone makes a grand sweeping commentary post that ends with a rhetorical question like "why would anyone ever do X?" and then people post a bunch of comments with sincere, reasonable answers as to why someone would do X, I never see the original commenter reply to say "great, hadn't thought of any of those; thanks for setting me straight."
posted by savetheclocktower at 1:07 PM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


This notion that there's some inviolable moral imperative to avoid viewing advertising at all costs, or that viewing advertising is always and unavoidably harmful, is a pretty laughably juvenile position.

That is pretty juvenile, but that's not my notion. My notion is simply that a lot of people are entertained by a lot of advertising, and don't seem to be noticing the forest for the trees. And they're getting quite defensive when that's pointed out.

I mean lbr it's a little funny that the high road here is "I STARE AT NOTHING AND LIKE IT"

How can you call the astounding view out an airplane window (well, during the day, anyway) "nothing"??
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:08 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I never see the original commenter reply to say "great, hadn't thought of any of those; thanks for setting me straight."

Great, thanks for setting me straight that those answers were "reasonable". Very enlightening.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:10 PM on January 23, 2015


And they're getting quite defensive when that's pointed out.

Oh, good, we've reached the point where defending one's actions is evidence of those actions' indefensibility.
posted by Etrigan at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


No, I think we've reached the point where this is something Metafilter "doesn't do well", so I'll drop it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:12 PM on January 23, 2015


metafilter: no looking at things
posted by poffin boffin at 1:13 PM on January 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


How can you call the astounding view out an airplane window (well, during the day, anyway) "nothing"??

What if you have an aisle seat?

Perhaps there is a larger percentage of Garden Yetis and "World's Biggest Crossword Puzzle" owners among people who sit on the aisle than the window. That's data mining you can use!
posted by tittergrrl at 1:29 PM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


My notion is simply that a lot of people are entertained by a lot of advertising, and don't seem to be noticing the forest for the trees. And they're getting quite defensive when that's pointed out.

It's also possible that we see both trees and forest, and SkyMall is pretty laughably ridiculous, and we're focusing more on the ridiculousness here because not everything has to be a serious discussion.

'Advertising is a scourge' isn't exactly an unfamiliar discussion on MeFi and I'd say the vast, vast majority of people around here are totally on-board with that idea. And like I said, for me at least a lot of the enjoyment of something like Skymall is very much about the whole Stuff culture and how the excesses throw it all into sharp relief. Like... Eurovision does with pop music, maybe.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:32 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


not everything has to be a serious discussion.

YES IT DOES DAMMIT
well, except for whale poop
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2015


Why isn't reading Skymall because it is silly and amusing a reasonable answer?
posted by Area Man at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love looking out the window of planes; somewhere on the internet is a response someone gave to the request to lower their window shade during the movie to the effect that mankind has dreamed of flying for thousands of years and only recently have we been able to see this view, so there is no way I'm closing my window to watch a crappy movie on a tiny screen. But when I fly lately it is often with my daughter and so if I try to look out the window all I see is the back of a nine year old's head. So I look at Skymall then; it is vastly more entertaining than the in-flight magazine (which seems to always have the puzzles already done).

Given the tone of this thread I am surprised we have gotten this far and no one has said:
"Is this something I would need to fly on planes to know about?"
posted by TedW at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2015




I want that pod bed. Perfect for blazing and reading a book, listening to some music.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:02 PM on January 23, 2015


Guess which links I'm not gonna click...
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:09 PM on January 23, 2015


Guess which links I'm not gonna click...

Any site with banner ads, I'll wager.
posted by mrnutty at 2:11 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Adblock/Flashblock/Noscript have made my online life immeasurably more relaxed; not looking at catalogs is my IRL version of those. Y'all go on ahead and do whatever floats your boat (plane?).
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2015


Adios, SkyMall. You were a boon when the newsstand didn't have a new Games Magazine.

P.S. Goddammit. How did I wind up with nine open Cracked tabs? Every freakin' time!
posted by ob1quixote at 2:59 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


P.S. Goddammit. How did I wind up with nine open Cracked tabs? Every freakin' time!

oh thank fuck I'm not the only one. It's almost as bad as Wikipedia holes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


My dad's game for my brother and I on planes when we were younger and him was to find the item with the least practical utility currently running in the catalog. I usually lost by going for funniest purpose rather than completely devoid of purpose. It was a pretty fun game because it involved trying to block your opponents play by trying to think up uses for entirely useless items.
posted by edbles at 3:10 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


What about the bob tshirts?
posted by oceanjesse at 3:24 PM on January 23, 2015


Over the summer, I kept a sky mall catalog and kept threatening my family that I was going to buy the six-foot Easter island head and stick it in our living room. We live in a 900-square-foot apartment. Does this mean I can now get it... AT A DISCOUNT???
posted by AJaffe at 3:30 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Absolute favorite SkyMall item: That blue inflatable wedge pillow that you blow up and put on your tray table to throw yourself forward on and sleep against. I can imagine every detail of the ad in my mind's eye: it's a small ad, poor photo quality, middle-aged white guy with salt-and-pepper hair, terrible Hawaiian shirt (blue with pink highlights?), face turned to the right, just fake snoozing away. Not even gonna Google it. Just knowing that ad is out there is enough.

Aw, heck, I'll Google it. Photo number 2. (I was pretty close! A little off on the shirt, though.)
posted by whitewall at 4:04 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Y'all go on ahead and do whatever floats your boat (plane?).

You seem to be laboring under the misconception that we were waiting for your permission.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Who actually buys mail order steaks?!
posted by wuwei at 4:56 PM on January 23, 2015


If being entertained by Skymall is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:57 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


You seem to be laboring under the misconception that we were waiting for your permission.

Let me be clear: that was not permission. That was dismissal!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2015


[Maybe we can drop the "is Greg_Ace interested in this, and should he be?" line of discussion here?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:18 PM on January 23, 2015


I was, originally, and I still think my notion has some merit; but to be honest it's now descended into pure silliness, so I'll go away.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2015


This news has devastated my ambition of one day living like Ray Smuckles.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's as though there's no such thing as the ability to read in a detached, critical manner. You are either totally credulous, or you don't read at all. You're a slavering, moronic consumerist who is numb to the exhilarating epiphany of soaring above the clouds (even when it's your 18th business flight this year, you're hemmed in by wet fog so the view out the window approximates gray felt, you're 3 deep on the aisle and the person by the window has lowered the shades, and you just finished the last page of War and Peace, plus the preface and the back-cover blurbs and the "Also by this Author" and the "Book Club Discussion Guide") or you don't fly a lot.

Count me among those who will read the fine print on a package of toilet paper or a box of tampons when I'm in the bathroom and there's nothing else, those who read the backs of cereal boxes and junk mail envelopes over morning coffee, those who peruse the bulletin boards and rack cards of visitors centers, and anything in print within any radius of me. Reading is almost always better than not-reading. Few experiences offer as little to the not-reader as the intelletual, sensory, and experiential desert that is flying - especially frequent flying. You may have to take my word for it, but if you're smart enough and reflective enough, you can read on more than one level at a time, and get more out of it than the writers ever intended. SkyMall, we hardly knew ye.

On another topic, here's what's always puzzled me about SkyMall. I get that they're a catalog aggregator. Their big idea was always, obviously, being in a bored/distractable space where there was little competition. But what was preventing other companies from being in that space as well? Why was it only SkyMall, and not Restoration Hardware, or Williams-Sonoma, or Wal-Mart? What was the arrangement with the airlines that meant they were the only catalog retailer in that space? I always wondered why they got to dominate this zone, when they had so little useful stuff to offer.
posted by Miko at 7:39 PM on January 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Know what's even better than SkyMall? The similar catalog on the shinkansen. It has that bonus touch of WTFJapan that always makes me seriously consider buying something in it, just to see it in real life. (example I'm pretty sure I originally saw there)

Now I can't remember what that catalog is called or make an effective google search.
posted by ctmf at 8:29 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy did I not steal a copy the last time I was on a plane? Whyyyyyyyy? This is right up there with my mom making me dispose of a bunch of my Sassy magazines.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:27 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


ctmf: “[E]xample I'm pretty sure I originally saw there”
That… seems like it's not actually a face exerciser, huh? I mean, otherwise why isn't the model wearing clothes? Then again, as I've noted before, at least they're still maintaining plausible deniability. Unlike their American catalog counterparts who don't even bother calling them "massagers" anymore.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:14 PM on January 23, 2015


Their big idea was always, obviously, being in a bored/distractable space where there was little competition. But what was preventing other companies from being in that space as well? Why was it only SkyMall, and not Restoration Hardware, or Williams-Sonoma, or Wal-Mart?

My guess is the model wasn't really sustainable, even if it hadn't been exclusive.

I really liked this Slate piece by a flight attendant, which mentions that the captive audience angle seemed to be the big idea at the start, but over the past dozen years or so, the company has more and more depended on revenue from credit card partnerships & reward programs: So whenever you accrue so many points on whatever credit card, you get to pick a zombie garden ornament or a heated foot massager from the Skymall catalog, no airline ticket required. Catalog sales now account for less than 20% of the company's revenue, and yet Skymall is universally recognized. It's kind of amazing.
posted by mochapickle at 10:26 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nooooo! SkyMall is the highlight of my transatlantic flights. Friends beg me to bring them copies when I'm coming back to the UK.

My favourite ever SkyMall page was in the pet section. They had a little set of steps for dogs ("Is your dog unable to get up on the couch or the bed any more?" Here's the solution!") right next to a sort of dog taser. ("Does your dog keep getting up on the furniture? A quick zap with this and he'll soon learn not to!") Imagine the hours of fun you could have with a particularly stupid dog...

I thought something was up on my last flight home in early December. No Sky Malls. I asked the flight attendant and she said the winter catalogue hadn't been delivered and lots of people had been asking where it was.
posted by essexjan at 1:02 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


When HOV lanes first started showing up on California freeways Skymall was there offering a life-sized dummy available as a companion for drivers visiting "dangerous areas" (wink wink). Who will provide us our cheesy non-compliance items now, eh, smart guys?
posted by telstar at 2:54 AM on January 24, 2015


I just woke up my husband laughing at Roswell.
posted by theredpen at 5:43 AM on January 24, 2015


As long as Magnamail exists and comfort massagers continue to be available then I'll be happy (this is nothing compared to the amazing phallic shaped vibrator, advertised as a facial massager with rounded edges perfect for under the eyes that I've been laughing at since I was a teenager, but it's close enough).
posted by h00py at 7:49 AM on January 24, 2015


That… seems like it's not actually a face exerciser, huh?

It's more of a throat exerciser. The exact same toy is available from any number of BDSM suppliers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:37 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always amused myself on airplanes trying to imagine the personalities of the perfect consumers of SkyMall products. He or she has, of course, more money than they know what to do with. They're also probably elderly, with numerous health problems. He is a consummate fanboy who will buy life-sized statues of Lord of the Rings characters or the toaster that prints Darth Vader onto the toast. He or she is also a self-employed business person who is constantly attempting to beat the competition (but very gullible, so it isn't clear how they made so much money). They both have a phobia of germs and insects, sanitizing jewelry and never daring to touch any stray bugs without the SkyMall bug vacuum. They dote on and anthropomorphize their dog and cat.

I'm afraid that future archaeologists will attempt to reconstruct American society and culture from a fortuitously preserved copy of SkyMall, and they might just be correct (for the well-to-do).
posted by bad grammar at 6:19 PM on January 24, 2015


Oh, and I would choose SkyMall over the airline's official magazine any day. The former isn't taking itself so seriously.
posted by bad grammar at 6:22 PM on January 24, 2015


never daring to touch any stray bugs without the SkyMall bug vacuum

Do not diss the bug vacuum. I had one (not from Sky Mall) because I'm scared of spiders, moths and crane flies. It worked great, except that once the critter was in the tube, it never wanted to come out again and it was really hard to get it out without, you know, touching it.

Now I have one of these, and it's the absolute bollocks. Don't know how I lived without it.
posted by essexjan at 7:56 AM on January 25, 2015


As amusing as SkyMall was, there were a hell of a lot of rip-offs in there preying off elderly folks who didn't know any better. The worst one I ever saw was for this "MAGic" software package featuring a screen magnifier and a text-to-speech tool. You know, those super-basic accessibility tools built for free into every modern OS. The asking price? FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY FIVE UNITED STATES DOLLARS. Plus shipping (I assume they send a physical CD). But they weren't total vampires. You could forgo the TTS and get the screen magnifier by itself for a mere $395.

(And speaking of inflight magazine WTF material, check out this ad for an intellectual property firm. Great fable guys, love the bon mot the Crow tossed the dying Duck for daring to infringe on his exclusive right to drink water. Like patent litigation isn't loathsome enough already.)
posted by Rhaomi at 11:12 PM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


HOLY SHIT THAT AD
WHAT THE FUCK

i am reproducing it here simply because it is so deeply fucked up:

A Crow, dying of thirst, happened upon a pitcher of water. Alas, the water was so low that the Crow could not reach it. Having gathered all the rocks he could find, he dropped them into the pitcher, until the water had risen enough to drink.

Upon passing by, a Duck saw this technique and attempted to later claim it as his own.

Thankfully, the Crow relied upon Watson Rounds to protect and enforce his ideas.

And so, the unethical Duck was thwarted.

The Crow looked upon him with a discerning eye as he said,

"True wit always has an answer."

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: ALWAYS GO WITH WATSON ROUNDS

posted by Greg Nog at 8:49 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


And speaking of inflight magazine WTF material, check out this ad for an intellectual property firm. Great fable guys, love the bon mot the Crow tossed the dying Duck for daring to infringe on his exclusive right to drink water. Like patent litigation isn't loathsome enough already.

I should think that an intellectual property firm would know that they don't have the right to infringe on Aesop's original tale.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:58 AM on January 26, 2015


Yeah I mean Aesop's def gonna sue them now right.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:30 AM on January 26, 2015


Clearly Aesop should retain the services of Watson Rounds.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:38 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


That ad is ridiculous everyone knows Crows always represent themselves in a court of law.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on January 26, 2015


That ad is ridiculous everyone knows Crows always represent themselves in a court of law.

Note that the ad does not contain any pictures of Watson or Rounds; therefore, we cannot say to a legal certitude that one or more of them is not a crow.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on January 26, 2015


Bird law has a ridiculous pro-corvid bias.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Smithsonian Magazine: How SkyMall Captured a Moment of Technological and American History

This sort of implies that SkyMall invented drop-shipping, but that can't be right, can it? Or can it?
SkyMall also showed a particular obsession with multi-functionality. “It seems to be part of a time and place in American culture: this multi-purpose, multi-solution, combined Swiss army knife of products; it’ll not only wash your floors but clean your drapes … it heightens the sense of ridiculousness, amplifies the sense of absurdity.”

It wasn’t just the products themselves, Topol says, that often made SkyMall seem absurd: it was the way they were presented. “This sense of the strange but familiar really came through in the pages of the magazine,” Topol says. “You recognize fragments of language … pieces of things that you know are squished together in new combinations, like ‘the shower shelf’ or the ‘Dough-Nu-Matic’ [a mini-doughnut maker]. Things that you almost recognize but that are slightly twisted, I think to give a sense of the new or the novel. … The word absurd came up a lot.”
posted by Miko at 4:05 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Adele" Sings "Skymall"

This is much, much better than it has any right to be.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:55 PM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Holy crap that's amazing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:45 PM on January 29, 2015




Part of me thinks being SkyMall Science Vandal is somewhat amusing, the other part finds it obsessive and arrogant and feels sorry for that person's family.

It's just this side of outsider art in that it doesn't feel fully under the artist's control.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on January 31, 2015


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