Posts tagged ‘Shopping’

About a year ago, my husband asked me to come look at something on his computer.  Not sure how he had stumbled onto it, but he had discovered Steampunk.  Sometimes he’s cutting edge, sometimes he’s late to the party.  This time, I think he was a little of both.  For the uninitiated, Steampunk is that unique fusion of the modern and the antique – technology and Victorian styling.  For great visuals, rent Wild Wild West, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing or Sherlock Holmes (the Robert Downey, Jr. version).   And while it is certainly not something you find in the mainstream, its popularity is prolific.  There is a huge culture surrounding Steampunk, as evidenced by the size of its Wikipedia page.  There are myriad sites devoted to the asthetic – blogs, shopping sites, and music (one of my faves being Abney Park).  If you are looking for it, you will be able to find it, but like many counter-culture things, it is not going to jump up in front of your face and advertise itself.  Usually I find new things because of the variety of sites I surf and things other people send to me.  Tonight I came across the next thing for modern-day authors to covet, thank you Twitter and Roger Ebert.

For your consideration: the USB Typewriter.  Jack Zylkin is a genius and I humbly bow down to him.  I want one of these!  Preferably the Underwood, but I’m not entirely certain about the green.  My sensibilities say it should be flat black.  I remember having to take typing in high school (my mother told me it would be a useful skill, no matter what field I decided to go into, because I could always make money in college by typing other students’ papers for them).  It took effort and deliberation to push down the keys of a manual typewriter (yes, I’m that old – or my school didn’t have the money to get that many electric typewriters – you decide).  And God forbid if you made a mistake.  Your only choice then was to either try and correct it manually or start all over.  That takes dedication.  You really have to be committed to what you are writing, otherwise each time you type it, it changes a little.  I guess that is the beauty of the writing process.  Each draft includes changes, until you just don’t change it anymore.

Anyway, I am ready to shop.  I am wondering if Jack would custom-make one of these for me if I came up with the typewriter.  I am thinking of one of those 50 pound jobs that comes with no warning labels or attorney-drafted disclaimers against such things as strained backs or crushed fingers.  But of course, I would also need to get an iPad . . . which begs the question: if I am old enough to remember manual typewriters, does that mean I am too old to be on Santa’s watch list?

Santa, if you are reading this, you know what I want . . . .

* Based on a true story.

Once upon a time, somewhere in Middle America, lived a woman named Mary.  Mary was a wife and mother, with a loving husband and three intelligent and polite children.  She loved to do special things for her family, especially on holidays.  Every year, she would try to get those one-of-a-kind special presents that she knew her family would love.  As the variety of things available on the internet began to grow, she would occasionally look on different web sites to compare prices or see what choices were out there, but for the most part she would do her shopping locally.  She liked to be able to see the thing she was purchasing, feel it, and make a decision based upon all the lovely intangibles that come with shopping in person.  Every once in a while she would buy something online, but usually it was only when she had already seen the thing in a store and could be assured of what she was buying.  The deciding factor always seemed to be cost – if it was significantly cheaper online, then she would get it there.

Last year at Christmas time, she made what she thought was a simple purchase.  She went to a well-known, popular online retailer called “Nile”.  Everyone shopped at because they carried just about everything, from books to toys to movies to clothing – anything a person could want could be had at Nile.  She figured it was safe making a purchase at Nile, since they were so well-respected and were known for their exceptional customer service.  She didn’t even mind submitting the personal information requested, like her email address.  She knew they would need a certain amount of information in order to ship her purchases.

Mary was looking for a very specific item – a book – based upon a TV series her husband liked to watch.  The show was on one of the cable channels and was all about a former spy who had been fired from his job.  Each week the spy would help a hapless victim get deserved justice, using only his amazing spy skills and the help of two friends – his on-again-off-again pyromaniac girlfriend and a retired spy friend who used to work for a competitor spy agency.  Mary’s husband, John, really liked this show and watched every episode.  John had even bought the first two seasons of the show on DVD so that he could watch it again with cast commentaries and behind-the-scenes features.  Well, when Mary discovered that someone had written a short novel based upon show detailing yet another case of unofficial justice, she knew that John would enjoy reading the book (and she was right).

Several months passed, and Mary did not give any thought to having purchased the book from Nile until the day she opened her email and found a new message from  The message read as follows (this text taken verbatim from Mary’s email):

As someone who has purchased or rated Burn Notice: The Fix by Tod Goldberg, you might like to know that Curious George A Winter’s Nap (CGTV Reader) (Curious George Early Readers) will be released on August 9, 2010.  You can pre-order yours by following the link below.

Now Mary was a smart woman, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not figure out what these two books could possibly have in common, other than the fact that they were books.  It’s not like her toddler son had read the novel or her husband would enjoy reading Curious George as much as he had the novel.  In the end, she came to the conclusion that’s targeted marketing program had just gone haywire.  She shared her observations with John.  Once John quit laughing, he suggested she write about it.

So she did.

The moral to the story is “If you shop online, remember – personal service really isn’t personal.”