Sky Mall vs. Pimpinone

Sky Mall

Where else can you buy a robotic shark and Harry Potter's wand all in one place?

Yes, Sky Mall. Some morning, when you least expect it, the random Wikipedia gods smile on you and provide you with the ACTUAL BEST THING EVER. If you’ve ever flown on an American airline, or if you’ve read Susan Orlean‘s collection of travel essays My Kind of Place (and if you haven’t, you should), you know exactly what I’m talking about. (Ok, you can go read her Sky Mall essay on Google Books, but you should really buy the book, Thiefy.)

For those of you who have never done either of those things, Sky Mall is a catalogue found on airplanes. “Some lame mail order thing for bored travelers?” I hear you ask. “How is that possibly a contender for Best Thing Ever?” Sky Mall isn’t just any mail order catalogue. Sky Mall is a catalogue full of the most absurdly specific and unnecessary items that it is hard to believe that it is for real and not satirical. Reading Sky Mall is like peering into an alternate universe where people need many types of hair trimmers, and where a terrifying robotic panda is considered an appropriate gift.

But it’s not just pandas that are robotic in the Sky Mall catalogue. So are litter boxes. Golf cups. And every possible type of Roomba. Magnets are also huge in the Sky Mall universe: magnetic wallets, magnets to cure your migraines and carpel tunnel symdrome, magnetic door stops and tools, magnetic jewellery – you name it, Sky Mall will stick a magnet on it. And where else can you buy yourself a box of applause?

Sky Mall is kind of like the future envisioned by WALL-E, where everything is automated and humans no longer have any reason to move. And I have barely scratched the surface of what Sky Mall can offer you. I didn’t even get into the theme sections, where you can accessorize like you’re Harry Potter or a Hobbit. Or all the things who can get that are waterproof. And I can’t find it on their website right now, but I swear Sky Mall used to sell a robo-monkey. Opera is great, and Pimpinone looks awesome (heh. Pimp.), but is it magnetic or performed by robotic pandas? I don’t think so.

I can only hope that Sky Mall continues to baffle airline passengers for years to come.



Culture. You won't find it in Sky Mall.

It’s true that with Sky Mall, Alison may very well have stumbled upon the one thing more random and absurd than our very own site. But it ain’t over till the chambermaid sings. The story of Pimpinone involves a chambermaid, Vespetta, “wheedling her way into marrying her employer, Pimpinone.” According to the Hutchinson encyclopedia, “Once married she shows her waspish nature (the name Vespetta means ‘little wasp’) and completely dominates her husband. Vespetta persuades elderly Pimpinone to employ her as a servant. She then makes him promise to marry her, after which she seeks pleasure elsewhere.”

Composed by Georg Philipp Telemann (only one of the most prolific composers in history, I’ll have you know), the comic opera was initially intended as light relief between acts of his more serious work, Tamerlano. Ironically, the success of Pimpinone overshadowed the other work completely. So what does this all mean? Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. I know virtually nothing about opera. But I do know that in the 18th century, people weren’t getting their cultural intake through television or movies. It was through works on the stage such as this. Give it a watch and judge for yourself. There are always silly shopping catalogues to flip through if you don’t like it.

Published in: on February 18, 2010 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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