A Store Of Oddities

Shopping for its own sake rather than searching for a specific item can be fun. A way to spend time absorbing creative ideas by provoking curiosity and imagination hopefully evoking a sense of humor depending on what one sees.

57thst.jpgSpending an hour at Hammacher Schlemmer, the landmark store on 57th street, just off of Lexington Avenue in New York is always a treat for curiosities made for the “inner geek”, especially those with an aristocratic taste for innovation. Well chosen oddities with new and creative applications often of old ideas that consume the hidden recesses of one’s mind with an unusual variety of things to focus on that are not found anywhere except in obscure novelty catalogs.

This is where I first encountered the Eco-sphere, displaying the wonders of the universe on earth, a science tool for children and an artistic statement: ecosphere2.jpg“It is a complete, self-contained and self-sustaining miniature world encased in glass, carefully crafted to achieve an aesthetic, meditative beauty that can soothe any environment, exploring the inter dependence of animal and plant life with Earth’s most precious element – water (see the picture).” It survived over four years and had these tiny creatures that swam around in the water. A reflection of life enclosed and perfectly balanced under my total control. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, spherical for the scientist at heart or an egg-shape for those with a philosophic sense. Perfect for the home or in a conference room at a business meeting, possibly on Wall Street, to distract from the erratic behavior of the Stock Market. As one would expect, the larger ones cost more money.

Hammacher Schlemmer also has a vast array of time pieces and innovative alarm clocks, confirming the existence of a cultural obsession with time, a necessary evil to draw our attention from life’s sleep to shift gears and deal with each day’s agenda, a tick-tock perception of movement through space aka The Fourth Dimension.

75884.jpgHere for example is a truly bizarre time measuring device. It is known as The Temper Throwing Alarm Clock reviewed on nerdapproved.com also found at Hammacher Schlemmer. Anyone with young children will understand its effect. This is the alarm clock “that pounds its fists and opens its mouth while ’shouting’ its alarm. As your selected wake-up time approaches to within five minutes, its feet and body will begin to glow, and when the alarm sounds, it begins tapping its arms lightly, but if you are dilatory in touching its snooze sensor by more than one minute, it launches into its full whining tantrum. A sensor on its head also allows you to ‘pet’ the clock, causing it to “smile” and move its fists in appreciation. Its eyes will flash red when its four AA batteries (required) get too low, or it can plug into AC. 9 1/2″ W x 7 1/2″ D x 5″ H. (2 1/4 lbs.), 49.95.” A wonderful reminder that dropping the kids at their grandparents house can provide a few hours of relief.

70460.jpgFor the same price of $49.95, there is yet another variation of clock. It is called the Peaceful Progression Wake-Up Clock, designed for those with an ‘OM’ in mind and who revere Transcendental Meditation and a soft gentle awakening from your very own subconscious reality. A stark contrast to the jarring noise of the temper tantrum alarm. “This clock uses a gradual increase in ambient light, stimulating aromas, and peaceful sounds from nature to awaken sleepers. Easy to use, simply set the desired wake up time, place some aromatherapy beads (included) into the supplied aroma bowl, and choose a natural sound setting (Nightfall, Thunder Storm, Zen Melody, Mountain Stream, Songbirds, and Ocean Surf). Thirty minutes before wake-up, the clock’s light begins to glow softly, subtly brightening over the next half hour. As the light increases, the warmth from the lamp releases the faint scent into the air to stimulate the olfactory senses, speeding the waking process. Fifteen minutes before wake up time, the clock’s speaker generates the sleeper’s choice of nature sounds.”

cutecat.jpgPerhaps it’s possible to create your own sounds, intimately unique, a reflection of inner thought, personal fantasy, or an after life experience communicating with someone on the other side. But wait, there is more. “This clock can also be set to operate in reverse, gradually diminishing light, scent, and sound at night to usher sleepers into a relaxed slumber. The clock has a night light setting as well. ‘What’s more, this keeper of time plugs into a standard household outlet, and uses two AA batteries for backup power, ensuring that time and alarm buzzer functions remain operable in the event of power loss. It measures 7 1/2″ H x 5 1/4″ W x 6 1/4″ D. (3 1/2 lbs.).”

All this and so much more at Hammacher Schlemmer, New York’s premiere department store for the unusual aesthetic sensibilities.

My Percepto Rating is : Insignificant . This store is on 57th street and Lexington avenue, the location speaks for itself…