SkyMall Monday: Products rejected by Skymall

skymall monday frank former hot dogs rejected productsObviously, we love SkyMall and celebrate it every week right here in this space with SkyMall Monday. We enjoy everything that SkyMall has to offer (with only one exception). It’s no wonder, then, that I was recently quoted in a CNN.com article about SkyMall. Despite being a world-renowned expert in all things SkyMall, even I can learn a thing or two about our favorite in-flight catalog. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the article included a few examples of products that SkyMall has rejected. What horrific inventions would offend SkyMall’s sensibilities so much that they would refuse to peddle such wares? This week, SkyMall Monday takes a look at these rejected items to determine if they truly deserved to be exiled from the skies.

The Frank Former

Pictured above, the Frank Former “turns your favorite hot dog into a smiling “hot dog man” that comes to life before your eyes.” Firstly, I once saw a film entitled “Hot Dog Man” and, let me tell you, nothing about that movie was appetizing. Secondly, unless Dr. Frankenstein is cooking these hot dogs in his laboratory, I highly doubt that they will come to life. Lastly, people love hot dogs because they are simple. Throw one in a bun and eat it with your hands. Cut them up into bite-sized pieces for the kids. No muss, no fuss. The Frank Former appears to be mussy, fussy and full of lies.

Chuck the Yuck

It’s never fun to get airsick (or seasick, for that matter). Thankfully, airlines still provide barf bags for passengers who can’t handle the turbulence and/or “chicken” with “cream sauce.” In fact, those airsickness bags might just be the last free items that airlines still provide. Why, then, would you want to spend your own money on Chuck the Yuck? Perhaps if you wanted to show your style with a “hip line of barf bags, designed to dispose of all pregnancy and kid-related garbage and yuck.” At $4.95 plus $1.25 for shipping for a five-pack, the total works out to more than one dollar per bag. That’s a lot of money to literally throw in the garbage.

GoGirl

Ladies, how often have you envied the fact that men can urinate standing up? We pee on the side of the road when rest stops are unavailable, in the woods on camping trips and in alleys when the line at the bar is just too long. Sure, you can squat in all of those places, but that’s a risky maneuver. Thanks to GoGirl, however, you can now urinate standing up, too! As we typically do, let’s take a look at the product description:

GoGirl is easy to use. Just lower your panties, and put GoGirl against your body, forming a seal. Aim and, well, pee. Pretty simple, huh? GoGirl fits easily in your purse, pocket, or glove compartment…While the concept may be new to you, European women have used female urination devices for years.

So much wrong there. Sure, when you first purchase it, you’ll be caring around a clean GoGirl. After you use it? Why yes, that is a pee-soaked funnel next to your unfinished bag of Combos in the glove compartment (or worse, your purse – as if you don’t already have enough stuff in there). Also, Europeans have done plenty of things for years – ignored personal hygiene, expressed racism openly, kept the mullet alive – that I don’t recommend we embrace as Americans.

The upside to GoGirl? They created a promotional video. Their product may not be good enough for SkyMall, but their video (and the woman in the blazer with some epic 1980s shoulder pads) sure did make my day.

So, at least we have that. And, thousands of products that SkyMall does sell so that we can improve our lives. These products might not have made the cut, but we’re all better off because of it.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Oktoberfest bathrooms (and tips for next year)

With so much beer consumed at Munich‘s Oktoberfest, it’s only logical that urination becomes a world-class activity. The bathrooms at the festival run the gamut from: good, fine, okay, crowded, packed and insane (see below) to convivial, non-existent, trees, bushes, lampposts and grass. Don’t be shocked to find many people — usually men — at the Theresienwiese (festival grounds) discharging in public. Oktoberfest is still a wonderful, memorable experience, but we human beings, well… we do have to go, so try not to be surprised.

Although I was sitting with other “specially invited guests” at of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery on the last night of Oktoberfest, I finally had to head for a much-needed bathroom break. I’d heard about a mysterious “VIP-Pee,” but learned it was reserved for women only. So when the inevitable time came, I boxed my way down a crowded staircase, then out the door and headed for the nearest bathroom.

%Gallery-7107%After turning the corner around the exterior beer garden I encountered a dense, swelling crowd of maleness — guys of all ages and nationalities pushing to enter a small white shack labeled, “WC.” Speaking quasi-German now, “I Hav-en-to-pissen,” I joined a group of about 150 pushing hard to enter the one doorway. I was squished from the each side and back as purposeful masculine energy heaved the group forward. Against this tide, guys were attempting to exit through the one door, looking for a seam and slithering out of the onrushing squirming horde. It reminded me of a fullback attempting a tough draw through a stout defense. Most, but not all, of the guys found the situation funny, and I heard lots of German, English, Danish, Italian, Spanish, French and other languages. Some laughed while others swore with words I could not comprehend. Finally getting in, I went and turned around to get out of this insane WC. Finding some big blockers, I pushed hard against the group and popped out like a kidney stone into the fresh air. Whew, this scene was worse than when I saw Johnny Rotten at the Roseland Ballroom.

By contrast the bathroom inside the Hacker-Pschorr tent was a model of German efficiency as you stood up next to — and facing — fellow urinators standing on the other side of a partition. It was a time for light conversation, a time for reflection and a time to pee. Plus it had an actual exit door – how civilized.

Some insights for next year’s Oktoberfest which runs September 17 – October 3, 2011.

* Visit the beer tents early in the event and early in the day. You stand a much greater chance of walking in and finding a seat than in the evening. Then, you can return to your hotel early, or have dinner elsewhere. Normal, non-crazy times around lunchtime or before 4:00 PM are ideal.

* For evening fun, definitely make reservations for visiting Brewery tents. There is no fee for entrance, and again, walk-ins are welcome, but there are times when every single inch at the Oktoberfest tents are full and you’ll be left outside looking in. My favorite tents were the big Paulaner tent, the Augustina Brewery tent (the oldest brewery in Munich, dating from 1328) and my favorite, the beautiful tent from Hacker-Pschorr. Everyone has their own favorite. Ask around and do some research.

* Remember, tent reservations are free but highly sought after around the world. Use this link for reservation information. The owners of the tents aren’t exactly the breweries themselves, but it matters not for visitors. Sign up as early as possible.

* Try and order a glass of water (wasser) along with each beer. I should have had more water, especially the last night.

* Don’t forget to eat enough. It will help with beer consumption issues.

Until 2011 – Prost!

Previously:
* Oktoberfest by the numbers
* Arriving at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Munich, Germany’s 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest
* Beer logistics at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Oktoberfest: Lots of food and more than 8 million gallons of beer

Bob Ecker is a Napa, California based travel writer/photographer providing worldwide magazines and newspapers with compelling travel, hospitality, wine, culinary, skiing, film and innovative feature content. He is constantly on the go, traveling the world, unearthing new stories and uncorking emerging regions. He is current Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) member and former President of the Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW).

[Images: Flickr | Ethan Prater; mahmut; Herr_bert]

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Photo of the Day (03.06.10)

I’m one of those people who believes that it’s OK to pee in the ocean. And in lakes. And pools. Basically, bodies of water bigger than my bathtub are fair game for urination. But, I’m always worried that pools will have that dye that activates when urine is introduced into the water. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be? Anyway, I was reminded of how nice it is to just pee in the water when I saw this picture by Flickr user JasonBechtel. This sea lion is hidden so perfectly in the dark water. Even if that pee dye were activated, who would notice? Lucky sea lion.

Have a picture of some public urination? Or, even better, any great travel photos? Submit your images to Gadling’s Flickr group right now and we might use it for a future Photo of the Day.

SkyMall Monday: Urine Gone

You might not think that writing about SkyMall is very extreme. But I’m constantly dodging marshmallows, defending my lawn ornaments and hiding from biker gangs. The adrenaline rushes are frequent and intense. And while my SkyMall gadgets make my life comfortable and easy, they’ve also made me a bit of a wuss. Thanks to SkyMall, I’m too relaxed. I’m scared of my own shadow. And that means that every sound startles me. Every challenge seems daunting. And every person appears threatening. When your life is cushy and easy, everything new or different becomes extreme. And extreme becomes frightening. And frightening becomes terrifying. Sadly, I don’t handle fear very well. As such, I pee my pants…a lot. With every bump in the night, I get another puddle on my rug. And trust me, when it rains it pours. Since I can’t expect the rest of the world to calm down and take it easy on me, I have learned to adapt to how extreme everything out there is. That’s why I treat the symptom and not the disease (well, that and therapy is really expensive). Now, when things get intense and I get damp, I simply whip out my Urine Gone.Urine Gone is the answer to my prayers. Now, I can wet my pants, my rugs and my friends without consequence. I simply pee wherever my rapidly beating heart desires and then Urine Gone it away once I’ve stopped crying and come out from under the bed (Author’s note: under the bed is a super hiding spot). I simply locate the pee with the included blacklight (yes, you read that correctly) and the Urine Gone treats the stain and the asparagus smell (just because I pee my pants a lot doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop eating healthy).

Think that wearing a diaper would be a more effective solution? I think I’d look pretty stupid wearing a diaper. Besides, a diaper can’t handle the vast amount of urine that escapes my body when I’m scared. And Urine Gone is way more fun than wearing a diaper. Just take a look at the product description:

A UV black light detects the source – the cleaner removes stains and odors! Just darken the room–the black light makes stains glow.

Who doesn’t want to see their pee glow? Finding the glowing urine becomes a game that’s fun for the entire family!

So, the next time that life gets too extreme for you and you find yourself soaked in your own filth, don’t fret. Because urine comes and urine goes, but hiding under your bed is fun forever.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.


SkyMall Monday: Travel Bidet

Everyone experiences lulls at their job. Work is not always as rewarding as we want it to be. But, from time to time, something happens that reinvigorates us. Something that energizes and excites us about what we do for a living and makes us proud again. I’m experiencing such a resurgence this week. Why? Well, this week’s SkyMall Monday may be the most important ever. Because this week we’re featuring a product that every single person needs to own. A product that may very well solve all of our problems. A product that will cleanse us from the inside out. Yes, my friends, SkyMall once again will purify us and allow us to tackle any obstacle that life puts in our way. I love my job again, people, because I get to share this fantastic information with you. Information that will hit us with a blast of cool, refreshing and disinfecting energy. So, take a seat. Or, even better, squat. Because this week we’re taking a long hard look at the Sanicare Travel Bidet.
We all know how to wipe our own asses (at least I hope so because I shake a lot of hands everyday). But are we really getting clean? I mean, the French clean up using bidets and who are more well known for their hygiene than the French? But a large porcelain plumbing fixture is too cumbersome to take with you. So, how can you inject some water into your filthy backdoor when you’re out and about? Well, just take a look at that picture up there and I think you’ll realize that all of our problems have been solved.

Once again I will rely solely on the product description. The clever plays on words, quotation mark usage and wealth of information will surely convince you that you need this product:

Enjoy the confidence of the fresh and clean feeling of a cleansing bidet wherever you “go”.

See what they did there? Yeah, I’m talking about putting the period outside of the quotation marks. Idiots.

Your Travel Bidet is ready to go, just open the box and install the included AA battery, then when you are ready to use it… “just add water”.

Do I really add water or are the quotation marks insinuating some sort of innuendo?

Traveling means a lot of compromising and unexpected changes from our daily routine. Changes in eating habits, fluid intake, schedules and personal hygiene all affect our comfort level, which can affect our performance and self-confidence in important business and social functions.

And perhaps no change is more unexpected than your new habit of keeping a travel bidet in your briefcase.

Finally, we can all have damp asses and awkward conversations with airport security. It’s about time we as a people cleaned up our acts. And now we can with dignity and pride.

So, if you want to love your job as much as I love mine, start taking a travel bidet with you to work everyday. It may just be the second best injection of liquid into your person you experience all day.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.