The Judas Cradle

[Posted 6/24/11 ] I’m still a few comics behind. Thanks for your patience.

My wife and I took out daughter to the fancy mall a few towns over because it has a nicer indoor playground than the one near our house. I stopped in the Brookstone to poke, fondle and sit on things I had no intention of ever purchasing, as one does. There was a new massage chair which was marked down from $3499 to $2000. What a deal! [Seriously, though. When you can take $1500 off of the price of a useless gadget that no one needs and it still costs over two grand, mistakes are being made on all sides]

Wil Wheaton and I got excited and made a thing! Check out our University of Gallifrey Fighting Time Lords Shirt over at Sharksplode.

Gallifrey University Fighting Time Lords Shirt - Doctor Who parody, geeky tees, funny t-shirts, nerdy shirts

Before you could say,”Memory foam pillow!” I plopped myself down in the pulsating papasan. If Picard had one of these on the bridge, they never would have stopped to check out any unusual pulsars or gas clouds. That is to say, it was a pleasant seating experience. Not phenomenal, but pleasant.It actually had areas (as illustrated above) to insert your forearms and legs. Getting fully situated in this comfort-monstrosity was not unlike suiting up in a battle mech. I half expected a neuro-piston to be driven directly into my brainstem once my limbs were secured. I pressed the “Full Body” button on the remote, but kept my finger hovering over the “Happy Ending” button, just in case the opportunity for full release presented itself.

Just then a salesman walked over, grabbed the remote and said, “Mind if I make some adjustments to increase your pleasure?” As a rule of thumb, this request should always be denied. Regardless of where you are, or who is making it, just say no. The chair latched onto my limbs more tightly and tilted me back so far as to completely remove any chance of escape. He then pocketed the remote out of my reach (literally making me a captive audience) and started reciting his memorized pitch for this particular chair, which I immediately tuned out. Having been in sales for so long, I can always identify the cadence of words that are meant to sound spontaneous but have been spewed for on autopilot so often as to advertise the damage they are doing to the speaker’s will to live. When a sales pitch is repeated by a mortal over 100 times, it becomes of series of killing words. It’s more of a hex, than a list of product attributes. The salesman becomes merely a bullhorn through which this dark monologue is passed on. With each recitation his soul is eroded just a bit more. So, yeah… I wasn’t listening.

I was actually paying more attention to the guy next to him making the hard sale on some kid and his dad for an RC helicopter. How much could commission on a toy helicopter possibly be? A dollar? Two? He actually said, “What do I have to do to get you to take one of these hone today?” It’s a $40 piece of plastic, not a fucking Honda Accord. After my 15 minutes in “The Machine” were up (I had only intended to be there for 5 minutes or so), I grabbed my shoes and muttered something about sending my wife in to try it out before we made a decision. I don’t know why I play those games. We both knew there was no chance in hell I was going to buy an unattractive, impractical chair that cost the same as the nicest computer Apple makes, two 50″ flat screen TV’s or 5 plane tickets. I should have just been honest and said, “Thanks for letting me rub my butt all over your expensive bullshit. Maybe I’ll come back later and buy a digital picture frame for someone I don’t like because that’s a terrible gift.”

STORE NEWS: The HijiNKS ENSUE Store is closed for a few weeks so I can make some big, exciting changes. [READ MORE HERE] In the meantime you can still get shirts from Sharksplode and HE Book 2 from this very site.

INTERVIEWS: I did a really fun interview with Lauren Davis for Gamma Squad, and the full audio of my interview with ABC Australia’s Nerdzilla Podcast is HERE.

COMMENTERS: Have you EVER bought ANYTHING at Brookstone? No? Of course you haven’t. No one has. They are a front for some sinister organization that plans to overthrow the world’s governments with air purifiers and iPod speaker docks. Have you ever pretended to be interested in buying something expensive just so you could play with it? Give me your absolute worst example.

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  1. I actually once took a 10-minute nap on a memory foam bed in a Brookstone while my friend kept the salesperson’s attention.

  2. I actually got some pretty cool DVD racks at Brookstone once, but of course when I went back for more, they didn't carry them anymore. They're spring-loaded so they spit the case out at you when you tap the spine – always reminds me of the library books at the beginning of Ghostbusters.

  3. My best friend and I once pretended to be interested in (and financially able to) buy a convertible just so we could drive in one. (we were only 18 and it was a pretty day). She talked the salesman into over an hour's test drive to 'go show it to her dad who had promised her a car for graduation'. Then our fire pagers went off and we jumped on the ambulance and left the poor guy lost in the middle of no where. we snuck onto the lot later that night to retrieve my car.

  4. Personally, I prefer SkyMall for my outrageously-overpriced, needless ridiculous crap needs. For example, who WOULDN'T want a Range Of Motion (ROM) Exercise Machine?

    If you're not familiar with it, look it up – it's the first result on Google for "Range of Motion Machine." I promise you that it is worth your time!

  5. I've never heard of brookstone either, I'm guessing it's the physical embodiment of The Sharper Image catalog.

    I once test drove a Mazda RX8 with zero intention of buying it, though afterward I was very tempted. The sales guy that rode along was actually cool, he let me do a couple burnouts and hard launches.

  6. Once when I was at prep school I test drove a Ferrari on a trip to New York City with the blind, retired army officer I was working for. Later, he tried to blow his brains out. Good times.

  7. Its olde Gallifreyean for "Delightfully useless gadgetry you want to fondle but will never use even if bought"

  8. Actually, for father's day I got my dad a turntable that that played not only LP's but cassettes, CD's and could record them all as MP3's from Brookstone. But, yeah, mostly I just go in there to look at the neat thingamajigs.

  9. "Having been in sales for so long, I can always identify the cadence of words that are meant to sound spontaneous but have been spewed for on autopilot so often as to advertise the damage they are doing to the speaker's will to live."

    I've only been in sales for 6 months so I had words before to describe what's happening to me. Thanks Joel!

  10. I used to do phone sales/donations for a local nonprofit theater. If it wasn't for the working for a nonprofit thing, I would have quit much quicker.

  11. It used to be fun to poke all the fancy things Brookstone had to offer, but now the sales people chance you down the hall with remote controlled dinosaurs when you pass by. They can smell boredom from 20 yards.

  12. A friend and I posed as entrepreneurial business men that could afford a refurbished castle / mansion. We were shown around all day. We were shown the battlements, the huge gardens and lake, the VAST kitchens, the two story library, the two ballrooms and so on. The place was immense and a snip at £2M. I was 20 at the time in a borrowed suit, I cannot believe the bullshit I could muster back then.

    • Man, I wish I had the cajones to do something like that. My guts operate on a different end of the gutsy stuff spectrum. It isn't the fun end. 🙁

  13. "chair that cost the same as the nicest computer Apple makes" Are you kidding me? I WISH I could get a new Mac for only $2k! By the time you've added all the essential "optional" features onto your $1500 laptop, it costs $2500…

  14. I have also sat in this same awesome magical massage chair for what was supposed to be 5 minutes and turned into 15 minutes. I used the line…"I'm just waiting for my husband." Which interpreted as, "No, I will not be purchasing this chair, I am just pimping it out. Leave me the hell alone." It worked. And yes, the chair is frackin' awesome.

  15. my dad and I pretended that we were interested in renting a really, REALLY nice apartment in New York City just so we could get info on their environmentally friendly features to write a paper about them. It was fun!

  16. My husband used to work for Brookstone and I can tell you that they get an incredible commision on those chairs. I don't think they get anything for the rest of the crap in the store (maybe the mattress, not sure) but you all should know that they are a horrible horrible company and no one should buy anything from there just on that principle, much less because it's all overpriced crap that no one needs anyway. Go to walmart, they have the same crap but cheaper.

  17. "…tilted me back so far as to completely remove any change of escape."

    Had visions of all your loose coins escaping your pocket but not the chair.

  18. Worst example? A woman.

    Sorry! Sorry, my low brow humor today is terrible.

    I'm a big fan of "go ahead and clean my shoes for me, I will pretend to buy your special-foam".

  19. Brookstone does have exactly one really useful thing: The best nail clippers ever. Seriously, I got their manicure set for Christmas four or five years ago and it's still awesome.

    Way back in our senior year of high school, my boyfriend and I had to do the "flour baby" project. Before we started carrying around a bag of flour cunningly disguised as a baby, this project entailed writing up an entire "budget" for two newlyweds, which also for some reason HAD to include an engagement ring, for which we need a salesperson's initials on a price quote.

    We went to Zales in the mall, and the salesman's eyes were instantly afire with visions of sugarplum commissions: "Do you have a date yet?" he asked us, smiling broadly. I smiled what I hoped was the smile of a bride-to-be and said, "Oh, no, not yet." We pretended to be fiances cooing over the different rings for about ten minutes, then finally broke down and said we just had to get the price of a ring for our project and get his initials. The fire in his eyes snuffed a dejected snuff. To top it all off, the ring we liked the best was $100 and made of titanium.

    (P.S. We're actually engaged now, five years later, and our rings are made of sterling silver. They cost about $30 each.)

  20. Is anyone else looking at this salesman and thinking there might be a bit of family resemblance between him and the Evil Fox Executive?

    Same goatee, similar hair. Though I'm sure this salesman has far more of a soul than his brother over at Fox, they're both clearly well below the human norm for Soul-Ownership…

  21. My college roomie and I once pretended to be cousins doing research for my out-of-town Dad, who, we alleged, had a 3/4-ton pickup, solely so we could check out pretty much every giant RV in the five or so dealerships out on the highway.

    It was awesome.

  22. Actually, two useful things can be had at Brookstone (assuming the nail clippers thing pans out). They make a really nice, affordable, useful, two-alarm alarm clock. No, I mean it. It dims itself. Either alarm is easily turned on, or off, and it is very easy to see if the alarm has been, in fact, turned on, and to what time. It does everything an alarm clock should do, sufficiently well that my wife asked for one, too. And they still had it, by gad!

    The rest of the time, Brookstone is just an interesting place to go in and get ideas for shopping at

  23. So, right about the time my arms started to get trapped, I'd have started screaming. I'm a girl, so I can do that. I'd also start rambling about how "No means NO!", he didn't even know my safe word, and how I'm claustrophobic. Then I'd ask his manager if imprisonment was a typical method of force-feeding their sales pitch down my throat, and equate it to emotional rape. Ok, I wouldn't actually say it, but the fear in my eyes would.

    I think I had a panic attack reading this. Carry on.

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