"Totally coup, yo."

Consumer BEAST




Modern gadgets, reviewed


Conair 213XP Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Technology Ionic Styler, black, with special 20-foot cord

Being the proud owner of a young granddaughter I often take it upon myself to spoil her with gifts expensive and inexpensive, profound and ordinary. It is not uncommon where, upon visiting my home, she will approach me and say, “Pappy, can I have candy?” or “Pappy, can you take me to UFC in Las Vegas tomorrow?” My answer is always yes. Should she spend the weekend at my house and declare her sincere wish for a chainsaw she would have it within the day. Such is my devotion.

So it was with a great sense of joy I bought for her this hair dryer, or “styler,” on the occasion of her 12th birthday. As a growing girl her interest in cosmetics and all associated things has understandably increased, and when I saw this product on the shelves at Wal-Mart I knew it’d be the jewel of her collection in no time. The price was a burden but nothing will prohibit the happiness of my granddaughter. At her birthday party she received many generous gifts but none widened her eyes like the Conair hair dryer, and she did not allow the product to leave her side for the rest of the day.

Weeks later in the bloom of summer she arrived at my house with stepmother in tow to use the swimming pool. I will not insult your intelligence by asking you to guess what she carried with her. “She’s brought it everywhere,” her negligent stepmother informed me, “even to camp.” I was greatly pleased to learn this and looked forward to a day of relaxation under the umbrella beside the pool, perhaps with a fine Danielle Steel novel.

It was not to be. Hours later after obtaining a painful sunburn I returned inside to change. My granddaughter was still in the pool, her stepmother, supposedly watching her, sat splayed out on the deck reading a magazine. What happened next is not so clear, but apparently my granddaughter became annoyed at her wet hair. Exiting the pool she grabbed her Conair 213XP Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Technology Ionic Style, black, and plugged it in an outlet located on the deck. The long cord afforded her a degree of movement otherwise impossible with other, less prestigious hair dryers. She turned on the device and jumped into the pool. Her stepmother never noticed, and it was I who discovered my granddaughter’s floating lifeless carcass on the clear water. 2/5

IPADApple iPad 64GB with Wi-Fi + 3G

It was not the news I wanted. “You should really consider buying an iPad,” my doctor told me. “It’s better for your eyes when reading because you can enlarge the text.” My reaction of initial ambivalence turned positively violent when he informed me of the price. But my eyes are the only pair I own, and soon I was convinced that in an effort to save them certain purchases must be made. “Welcome to the 21st century,” my doctor said.

I had been using the iPad for a week when I first took it with me on my morning commute by bus. It was a truly wonderful invention, lightweight, shiny, even stylish. I was able to hold on my palm my entire Danielle Steel library, hundreds of fine novels fit in a device smaller than a dinner plate. You may imagine my astonishment at this technological wonder, and my pride in possessing this computer product of limited availability. You may imagine also the desire of others to own it, to take it from whom they could, by force if necessary.

After that first morning commute I began to grow wary of my fellow bus-passengers, who had about them the look of thieves ready to commit violence to satiate their gadget-hunger. I resolved to sit in the back of the bus and to never take out my iPad. But one morning my boredom grew to such terrible heights that I required my Danielle Steel fix. Slowly, carefully, delicately I removed the iPad from my briefcase and pulled up Southern Lights, my favorite of the recent Steel novels. The text was so large that only a few words could fit on the screen, and I think this caught the attention of certain passengers. Next thing I knew I was being attacked by a throng of thugs eager to steal from me what was mine by divine right. Aside from that I do not remember much, but the police tell me I was beaten pretty severely and spent three days in the hospital, and my iPad was stolen from me. I have taken to stapling LOST: iPad posters about town, affixing them to stop signs, telephone poles, the sides of houses. I am offering a reward of $5 and some hard candy. If you happen to come across an iPad inscribed to Myles O’Brien please contact me at your earliest convenience. 3/5

BENTO-BOXVivo Multicolored Square Bento Box

I purchased this Japanese lunchbox despite my reservations, based mostly on my treatment at the hands of Japanese soldiers during World War II which was, to say the least, criminal. Despite this I continue to stand in awe of the accomplishments of these tiny people so gifted in the ways of technology and modern computing and now, apparently, ingeniously designed lunchboxes. After a scripted sales pitch from the store employee, most of which I couldn’t understand (is it necessary to say “y’know what I’m sayin’” so many times?) I decided it was in my best interest to buy this product. As a lifelong collector of foodstuff containers I remain intimately aware of various flaws inherent in the design of all manners of lunchboxes, but upon further inspection of the Bento box I could find none. None! A marvel of modern engineering.

The following evening after returning home from a difficult day’s work and, too exhausted to prepare a proper meal, I put into the microwave my Vivo Multicolored Square Bento Box which contained the remnants of my favorite meal, pickles and mayonnaise. (This meal must be always consumed hot.) I set the timer for five minutes on HIGH. After thirty seconds breathing became difficult, labored, and I felt dizzy. My tongue felt swollen and was racked by a terrible burning sensation. My eyes leaked tears and I could see just enough to activate my Life-Alert box. The HAZMAT team would later inform me that microwaving the Bento box had set in motion some terrible chemical reaction, and poisonous chlorine gas filled my kitchen. Life-Alert contacted the authorities just in time, and for that I have sought to swell the coffers of C. Everett Koop, leaving to him all my possessions when I die. 0/5


Myles O’Brien, a lifelong resident of the lilliputian State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, lives on the coast where he works in a bicycle factory. He has contributed previously to Lá Nua, The New York Times, El Pais, Izvestia and The Guardian. His hobbies are bicycling and honest reporting.

More of Mr. O’Brien’s expert reviews can be found here.

  • Phil

    I understand the need for your reviews to be humorous, but every new hair dryer for the last decade has has a GFI on the plug end. She could of jumped in the pool with it going full blast and the GFI would of tripped off in a tenth of a second. Also the outdoor plug on the deck is probably off of a GFI in the basement as most are these days. Maybe she could of used it to dry a Barbies hair and caused a house fire instead. Leaving her horribly burned of course… Have a good one Gramps

  • admin

    We’ve contacted Mr. O’Brien regarding this very sad matter and he explained:

    “The criminal investigation into my granddaughter’s death concluded that the Conair 213XP Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Technology Ionic Style’s GFI (ground fault interrupter) had indeed worked to satisfaction, which is why I do not begrudge this fine product or the Conair company, for her tragic passing and recommend it to anyone who demands style.

    “However, it was also determined that the electrical work inside and outside of my home was originally installed in the ’40s and, therefor, had no GFI. Stool samples taken from my pet ferret Danielle Steel (named after my favorite author Danielle Steel) revealed trace amounts of rubber insulation, which explained the frayed cord of the Conair 213XP Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Technology Ionic Style.

    “I do regret, now, that I thought the term “circuit breaker” was urban slang for “fuse box.” When my generous stockpile of fuses — collected in anticipation of nuclear conflict between the USA and the USSR — ran out some years back, I asked a colored gentleman at the hardware store why they had stopped selling my brand of fuses. He told me that they didn’t have those anymore. That they were illegal. “Now you just flip the circuit breaker,” he said. Naturally, I presumed he meant that I should flip some 1943 pure copper pennies into the fuse plugs, because if you just placed them in the hole, you’d be electrocuted. I spent nearly four months without electricity, sitting in my dank basement and flipping coins into the holes. It was a very difficult task, for my aim is less than stellar.

    “In summation, the autopsy confirmed that my granddaughter’s cause of death was indeed electrocution. At trail, the jury determined that I could not be held accountable on account of my advanced age and occasionally severe confusion, which defense experts testified was exacerbated by my doctor-prescribed dosage of Ambien and my “advanced state of dementia.” Sadly, Danielle Steel was put down on order of the court.


    We hope this helps, Phil. And we’re sorry, Mr. O’Brien, for forcing you to bring up the painful death of your ferret.

  • Phil

    That did help, and one does hate to lose a ferret. But why was the ferret’s death painful? Did the court order Mr. O’Brien to use a shovel? Anyhoo could you ask Mr. O’Brien if could I trade him a nice shiny new penny for a dirty old 1943 Copper penny?

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