The Fifth Annual Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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  1. Does anybody else remember EZ Street (a broadcast TV series from 1996)? It was a noirish story set in a decaying city where there were no good guys: the cops were as corrupt as the gangsters. CBS had no idea how to sell it, and it was cancelled, brought back, and cancelled again for good, without even showing all the episode that had been shot. I still remember tuning in expecting to see it and finding (and I an mot making this up) Walker, Texas Ranger.

    Anyway, it was great, and I’d often wondered idly if it would ever show up on DVD. It eventually did, but only in a weird version that includes a seemingly randomly chosen three episodes. If I felt comfortable advocating intellectual property theft, which of course I do not, I might suggest that a simple internet search for, say, ez streets complete series would find an “unofficial” release of the whole thing. Also that, even twenty years later, it still majorly kicks ass.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Not only do I remember that TV show, but if I’m not mistaken, it was the first of Joe Pantoliano’s handful of failed (ratings-wise TV shows). It used to seem that every couple years, Pantoliano would get a new TV show, that TV show would get cancelled mid-season, if not earlier, suggesting that perhaps he was not the best person to carry a prime time show, which of course would make a TV exec somewhere think, “He’s free! We need another Joe Pantoliano pilot, and we need it now.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        A pretty good actor telling a great story that, unfortunately, is not particularly “feel good”.

        Which means that the critics love it, the ratings will be low, and people will complain that it got taken off of the air even though they preferred watching… huh. As it turns out, it’s more difficult finding the Wednesday Night 1996 Programming Blocks than you’d think.

        Anyway, I think that the whole “Let’s tell this exact same story only sweeten it with some nudity” thing is what is allowing a lot of these deep, rich, nuanced stories that don’t particularly “feel good” to get told season after season. Well, that and the whole “binge watch” thing that allows you to immerse yourself in one heck of a story during a weekend rather than stretch it out drop by drop over six months.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

          Also, in the days before streaming video, keeping up with highly serialized shows was hard — if you missed an episode, you missed it unless it was rebroadcast (or you were such a fan that you had the VCR set to tape it.) HBO got around this by showing each episode over and over the week it was released, but a broadcast network couldn’t prevail on its affiliates to do that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Like Monte Markham, whom TV execs kept thinking could carry a series, but apparently couldn’t.Report

  2. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    We’re (always) in the market for cookware… I went to the brazier link and encountered one of my biggest peeves (not pet- but actual full grown kittykraken peeve) with Amazon.

    The 8 1/2 inch is actually 16 3/4, the 18 inch shows 15 inches, the Large(?) is 18 3/4 and is smaller than the Medium which lists 21 5/8 as its dimensions.

    End result? I don’t trust the vendor to get the order right and no sale. For selling as much as they do, Amazon is actually a terrible, turrible, shopping site; I look at it as purely a delivery service.

    Speaking of which, have you seen the new drone video? As someone with enough land to create a dedicated Amazon landing pad, I approve (though, I expect no end of strange delivery episodes).

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Marchmaine says:

      For selling as much as they do, Amazon is actually a terrible, turrible, shopping site

      I feel they’ve gotten worse of late, probably due to the sheer number of items and vendors they now handle – as you note, you have to be VERY, VERY careful when ordering, because the nominal descriptions are often mismatched.

      I wonder how the drone deal will work in areas with highly-variable weather – are they going to have to enclose the items in more-or-less waterproof packaging, I assume, since the drone doesn’t appear to keep them from the elements, and can’t place the item on your covered porch?

      For that matter, how well will a drone deal with a sudden heavy downpour or high winds?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I’ll say this about Amazon, though. If you don’t get what you ordered, they’re very, very good about returns and refunds. Doesn’t mean it’s not a hassle, ’cause you have to mail whatever you got back, which almost always means a trip to the post office if it’s bigger than what fits in your mailbox, but it does take some of the stress out of possibly getting the wrong thing because of some screw up on their end.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

          Oh yeah, they have been terrific in my experience with returns and refunds, even if it’s an item where they are not the “vendor” – if the vendor doesn’t straighten the issue out right quick, you can go to Amazon, and they will handle it cheerfully.

          I have a UPS drop box right down the street, so generally returns are easy-peasy for me; if the item’s too big for that box, they will have it picked up (though THAT is actually a hassle, because in my experience, UPS is not as good with pick-ups as they are drop-offs, and they will claim they came by your place multiple times, but they are LYING because someone is always there and there were no notes on the door, and you will have to speak to a manager).Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

          Read the reviews… you’ll often catch wind of likely errors, especially with 3rd party sellers.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

            Yep, always skim a few reviews.

            What drives me crazy are their “Sort” options. They carry A LOT of stuff, both in-house and third-party, and you are trying to narrow your options.

            So, if you have it sorted by “Relevance”, the site does pretty good in only showing you, say, ‘Blu-Ray players’, if that’s what you used as your search term.

            But there are pages and pages of those; and you want to (say) sort the players from low-price to high.

            The minute you do that, it throws out “relevance” almost entirely, and you have to wade through ten pages of cheap HDMI cables, to get to any cheap Blu-Ray players.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

              Yeah, that drives me insane as well. I’ve been trying to look for a cheap laptop over the Black Friday weekend, and repeatedly I’ve had to sort through pages of nonsense to find the least expensive laptops.

              It helps if you search within a category, though, because you can use their filters. At this point, I’m just looking for laptops with exactly the specs I want, which is a small enough group that I don’t need to sort even.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

              That is when actually navigating through the menus and subcategories can be really helpful. They aren’t ideal and sometimes it is hard to know what path to take but they can help mitigate that very real issue.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Kazzy says:

            Funny you mention reviews… I was looking at a boxed Tolkien set for one of my daughters, and the reviews were *not* specific to the set, but to the book.

            As a result, my questions about boxed set #1 and boxed set #2 were impossible to sort among the 9,076 reviews of every conceivable iteration of LotR.

            Working in the Hi-tech data space (and, ironically, selling Product Management solutions) I am fully aware of the massive curation issues of large eCommerce retail sites… but curation issues they have – and they are getting worse as they morph into Amaz-ebay-baba.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Glyph says:

        There seems to be a very narrow enclosure in the drone which (in the prototype at least) begs the question of what they will deliver other than nick-nacks.

        But yeah, they seem to imply that you will be anxiously standing by to gather your payload when it drops. Hopefully in a manner better than this:

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Glyph says:

        A feature they currently lack, and it seems mind-bogglingly obvious, is to filter by “ships to [location]”

        Currently, the only working way I’ve found of doing that is to search for things in the category I’m interested in, add *all of them* to my cart, try to check out as though I were going to buy 50 food dehydrators for some reason, remove from my cart the 44 of them that resulted in an error when I tried to have them delivered to a Canadian address, and then actually consider the remaining 6.

        I can’t be the only person who would find such a feature useful…Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Marchmaine says:

      Dang, sorry about that, I didn’t check my link.Report

  3. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    If you act now, you may still be able to get 30% off on all Skittles brand televisions at Target.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I dig the shoes Saul rec’ed, though I couldn’t justify spending that sort of dough on them. They do look nice though.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

      The ongoing high-endification of Chuck Taylors continues to enrage and confuse me.

      Enrage, because I have been wearing Chucks since HS, and even the basic canvas ones are no longer cheap.

      Confuse, because some of those high-end ones DO look pretty good, and I want them, even if I have been so far unable to pull the trigger.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

        That’s the best part about Doc Martens. You’re at the age where you can tell anyone who might question your purchase “I require orthopedic support.”

        I can’t even imagine how much audacity it would require to attempt that with Chuck Taylors.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

          My oldest pair of black wingtip Docs has to be at least 15 years old (I wore them all over Europe around 2000, and I probably got them a little before that). They have some small cracks across the top where they flex, but are otherwise fine and if I shined ’em you’d probably not notice. They are tanks, and comfortable to boot.

          I have a similar pair (slightly different finish and sole) that I keep in the closet, for special occasions (they are nice enough to wear with a suit). Those will probably last 100 years.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        Because I could not care less about name brands, I’m usually pretty content to rock knock-offs. It has been a while since I bought new sneaks because I was working at a job for five years that required grown-up shoes, but now that I’m back in the world of the hippies, I will likely be picking up some new pairs soon. And I won’t pay more than $60 for a single pair.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

        Considering how much damage cheap shoes can do to your feet, I don’t consider paying money for a well-made pair of sneakers or shoes to be a bad investment.

        Are you adjusting for inflation? A woman from HS posted a concert ticket from sometime in the mid 1990s and asked “Do you remember when concert tickets cost 12 dollars?” Lee needed to point out that this would be about 40-50 dollars today.

        As to high endification, there seems to be a thing where nominally affordable but well-loved brands will create a sub-line with a high end designed. Converse does it with John Varvatos and Comme De Garcons and Maison Martin Margiella. Addidas does it with RAF Simmonds. You also see places like H&M launch limited lines with high-end designers.

        Sneakers as a high-expense business has been around for a while. There are a bunch of sneakershops in SF that seem to have a new limited edition every week and there is always a line to pick up a pair or two.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          While it is more than true that a well-made and quality set of shoes that provide all kinds of support will be expensive, there are *PULENTY* of shoes that manage to be expensive while also making your feet feel like someone has been hitting their soles with a wooden mallet after a 5 minute walk.

          Chuck Taylors are awesome for power lifters, much less awesome for people who have to actually *WALK*.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Yeah, but the thing about Chucks is, I don’t know that the improved materials really are able to make that much difference in comfort or durability, while still staying enough in the iconic design to be recognizably “Chucks”.

          A $25 or $30 pair of old-school canvas Chucks that last you a year and then become yardwork shoes is fine (I think the basics are up to around $50 now).

          A $120 pair that last no longer, or are no more comfortable? That’s dicey.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

            This. The assumption that price tracks perfectly with quality is wrong. Full stop. I had an ex-girlfriend who insisted that Louis Vuitton zippers never broke because why would you pay $900 for a bag with a zipper that might break? It was a bizarre after-the-fact justification completely unsupported by facts.

            I agree that shoes in particular can derive a ton of value from their comfort. It is why I’m willing to pay a bit more for Johnson and Murphy’s who pride themselves on comfort and actually deliver on that promise. If you are on your feet all day like I am, a pair of shoes that you don’t notice wearing is worth their weight in gold.

            I’m just not sure I believe that those Chuck Taylors are even more comfortable. Or more comfortable than the canvas pairs or the one I wore 20 years ago.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          A woman from HS posted a concert ticket from sometime in the mid 1990s and asked “Do you remember when concert tickets cost 12 dollars?” Lee needed to point out that this would be about 40-50 dollars today.

          $22 if you go all the way back to 1990. Inflation has been pretty low for the past 25 years or so.Report

  5. Avatar Aaron David says:

    By the way, I feel that this t-shirt should be worn by everyone here.Report