Mark Sherman: Vibrating forks and talking thermometers

Mark-Sherman SQUAREI hadn’t gotten one in a while, so I was a bit surprised when a couple of weeks ago my mailbox contained the Brookstone Holiday Gift Guide. I hadn’t bought anything from Brookstone in years, so I guess they figured it was time to tempt me again.

And tempted I am. For example, how hard it will be to resist getting the “Heated Aqua-Jet Foot Spa,” which is one of eight products pictured on the cover of the Guide. Not only does it come with dual massaging hydrojets, but it also has an exfoliating pumice stone, which is something I’ve always wanted! All this for only $99.99.

Someone wrote in from Ohio saying that this was the “best foot spa EVER! I tried 3 other brands….” Tried 3 other brands? Until I saw the cover of my Brookstone catalogue, I didn’t know there was one brand!


Actually, the cover seems to have a foot and leg motif, because not only is the foot spa pictured, but so too are the “uSqueez App-Controlled Foot and Calf Massager” (at only $349.99) and “Tempur-Pedic Slippers” (a virtual steal at $49.99).

Is this what happens when you start encouraging people to get out there and walk? They wind up needing foot spas, calf massagers and state of the art slippers?

Ah, but feet are only the beginning when you open up your Brookstone catalogue. Who could resist the Grill Alert Talking Wireless Meat Thermometer? Or the Electric Char-Broil Patio Bistro Infrared Grill?

If I were a drinker, I’d certainly want “Perfect Drink,” which involves a free app for IOS and Android (whatever those are) and provides “real-time pouring instructions” as well as a “virtual glass” which “fills on your screen as you pour.” Not only that, it “even adjusts for over-pouring!”

I don’t drink, but I do eat, and I tend to eat more than I should. In fact, lately I’ve been on a moderate diet. Apparently, though, one way to eat less is to eat more slowly. So I suppose I should think about getting the “HAPIfork.” Yes, I do eat very quickly, and this $100 fork will help me slow down, as it “alerts you with vibrations and LED lights when you are eating too fast.” But wait a minute, I know I eat too fast, but food just tastes so good, how can I slow it down? I’m careful about everything I do. I am even careful about how much I eat and what I eat. I don’t drink and I don’t drug, so what other pleasure is there? I’m not going let any vibrating fork with flashing lights tell me to slow down! Even if it only cost $75.

Now if I had an iPhone, I might be tempted to get the Romo — an “app-controlled robotic pet for IOS devices.” But there’s a lot working against me wanting to get one, starting with the name: Romo. I’m a Giants football fan (which has been an altogether miserable experience this season), and like most Giant fans, I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys, whose quarterback just happens to be named Tony Romo. Now if this little robot were named Eli, it might be a different story (though this has not been a good season for Giant quarterback Eli Manning).

But even if “he” were named Eli, do I really want an “adorable digital creature”? I tend to reserve the word “adorable” for actual living things, like babies, kittens and even small turtles. But I refuse to use it to describe a robot. The catalogue says you can “train him to recognize your face and greet you with a smile.” Yeah, this will help me on those rare occasions when my wife doesn’t even want to see my face, let alone smile at me.

But perhaps I’m being a bit hasty. If I got Romo, maybe I could also get another robot from Brookstone, the “App Attacknid,” an “app controlled combat creature.” It’s supposed to “fight” other Attacknids, but maybe I could get it to go after that smiling Romo. That would put a frown on his ridiculous little robot face.

I guess I’m not made for this century. Some 30 years ago a U.S. Army recruiting ad on TV, which promised to educate enlistees in the latest technologies, featured a voice-over which said, “Technology is taking over the world. You can try to keep up with it or be left behind.”

I am so left behind.