Friday, April 17, 2009



Snuggie: $15-$20.

Slanket: $38.

Sruli Recht Blankoat, made from Icelandic sheep’s wool: $330.

Watching people weaving tipsily from bar to bar clad in any of the aforementioned garments: PRICELESS.

Thanks to a ubiquitous, cheesy, low-budget commercial hawking the Snuggie — buy one, get one free for only $19.95 plus $7.95 shipping and handling (per Snuggie, that is) — and a free book light if you order online! — the “blanket with sleeves” has received a warm embrace from customers all over the U.S. and Canada.

As seen on TV (and in select stores for $15), the Snuggie has outsold its predecessors and successors several times over, thus proving P.T. Barnum right: There’s one born every minute — or in this case, every 30 seconds.

According to the ad, blankets are OK, but “when you need to reach for something, your hands are trapped inside.” Oh, the tragedy — millions held hostage by fleece and quilted captors, unable to get to their remotes, forced to watch whatever dreck flashes on the screens before them. That might account for “WWE Raw” doing so well in the Nielsens, but it doesn’t explain why folks can’t simply move their blankets aside for second to use their hands. I’m all for comfort and convenience, but laziness should have limits.

The Snuggie might very well be the new black (though it doesn’t even come in that color), but this consumer ain’t buyin’ it. Whether they’re called Snuggies, Slankets, Freedom Blankets, Toasty Wraps, Cuddle Wraps or book blankets, in my mind, they all amount to the same thing: A backward bathrobe.

“Oh, no,” gasp those quaffing the Snuggie Kool-Aid. “Bathrobes are too short to keep your feet warm!” Not if you buy them in Big & Tall. Besides, there’s this other cool invention that’s been around for centuries. They’re called “socks.” Look into it.

I’ll admit that the Snuggie has the advantage of being suitable for a man or a woman, so it’s easier to bring unisex-y back than you could in a bathrobe. I’ll also concede that Snuggies seem pretty handy for outdoor activities — e.g., sporting events, sitting around a campfire or drunken bar-hopping. But beyond that, it’d take some mighty creative marketing to convince me to open my wallet.

Perhaps I’d be more amenable if the sales pitch included a Top 10 List of Alternative Uses for Your Snuggie. For instance:

10. Earn spare change masquerading as airport Hare Krishna.

9. Wear to graduation from Jedi Knight University.

8. Toga! Toga! Toga!

7. Greet trick-or-treaters as horrifying, life-size Cookie Monster.

6. Every superhero needs a winter cape.

5. Great for full-body floor waxing.

4. Monk-a-palooza!

3. Put your legs in the armholes and VOILA! Hammer pants!

2. Tie-dye it and audition for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamblanket.”

1. Two words: Giant ShamWow.

Friday, April 10, 2009



For a year and a half, readers have asked me periodically, “When ya gonna do another column about cities with weird names? That first one was so funny, I sent it to my aunt (or cousin or prison pen pal), to prove there are places with weirder names than the town she lives in (or goes to college or makes license plates in).”

The aforementioned column, which ran in October 2007, lamented the prevalence of boringly named fictional towns on television, e.g., Mayberry, Springfield and Arlen. I mean, if you’re gonna make up a place, why not call it something catchy like Quahog or New New York? I also suggested situating TV shows in real cities that reflect the programs’ themes – for instance, a legal drama set in Justice, Ill., or a baseball-related show based in Centerfield, Ohio.

I was surprised by the requests for an encore column, as I didn’t realize folks were so interested in geography. Or maybe they just want to giggle some more at place names like Fanny, Buttzville and French Lick.

Whatever the reason, I’m more than happy to oblige, for not only does this allow me to share new and amusing information, it also makes writing easier when my well of column ideas is emptier than a supermodel’s lunchbox.

So, without further ado, I present for your viewing pleasure:

Space TV on Public Access (think “Wayne’s World” for Trekkies and “Star Wars” fanatics), offering shows broadcast from basements in Vulcan, W.Va.; Enterprise, Miss.; Chewey, Okla.; and Vader, Wash.

The Fast Food Network, featuring tours of eateries in McDonald, N.M., and White Castle, La.

Highlights of Fido-Vision include shows based in Dog Town, Ala.; Doghouse Junction, Calif; and Marked Tree, Ark.

On the Church Channel, there’s something for virtually every denomination, with services taped in Holy Ghost, N.M.; Pray, Mont.; Vatican, La.; Pope Crossing, N.C.; The Holy City, Okla.; Mormon Bar, Calif.; and Allah, Ariz.

The chronically pessimistic can get their daily dose of gloom and doom on WWOE, broadcasting out of Cape Disappointment, Wash.; Fort Misery, Ariz.; and Bummerville, Calif.

Every day’s a holiday on Yule-TV, which offers shows set in Christmas Cove, Maine; Christmas City, Utah; Christmas Valley, Ore.; Christmasville, Tenn.; Santa, Idaho; Eggnog, Utah; and Tannenbaum, Ark.

Dust off your white three-piece suit and platform shoes and get ready to boogie with “Solid American Gold Dance Bandstand Fever,” filmed on location in Disco, Ill.

The Gambling Network takes you live to casinos in Keno, Ore.; Black Jack, Ky.; Bingo, Maine; and Jackpot, Nev.

On ParenTV, topics range from starting a family (with advice from doctors in Fertile, Iowa and Conception, Mo.) to potty-training, with a reality show featuring families in Euren, Wis.; Pee Pee, Ohio; and Flush, Kan.

Automotive buffs can tune in to shows shot in Ford, Miss.; Chevrolet, Ky.; Cadillac, Mich.; Pontiac, Mich.; Honda, Calif.; and Accord, Mass.

Whew … all this traveling has left me exhausted. I think I’ll head to Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. – by way of Featherbed, Md.