Keepin’ it local and lazy

Compare costs, spring breaker: buying cool stuff = cheaper than going lame places

Unless oneâÄôs been living under several rocks and a tarp for the past year, itâÄôs universally evident that hard economic times are afoot. Because of the grim financial forecast, spring break travel may not top the to-do lists of many college students. Although wholly lamentable, God closing the door on shouting âÄúWOO! SHOW ME YOUR BOOBS!âÄù and choking on vomit in Ixtapa may, in turn, open a more affordable and equally enjoyable window: sustained entertainment via consumer electronics (and alcohol)! As odd as it may seem, thereâÄôs actually been a surge in Americans purchasing high-end electronics. Industry analysts figure that given the extreme expenditures associated with travel (airfare, hotel, drinks, food, etc.) many are opting to hunker down at home with fancy new gadgets for a fraction of the price and enjoy their purchases much longer than they would a week of blurry beaches. Because A&E always has the wallets and interests of its readers in mind, the following provides both hot retail deals and almost unimaginably good used deals. For the thrifty/slightly risk-taking spring breaker, though, used items on Craigslist may be the best bet. Operating as a glorious free market in and of itself, practically new electronics can be nabbed for a fraction of store costs. At its best, buying things on Craigslist is opportunistic; at its worst , vulture-ish. Either way, folks are coming out in droves, selling things in order to pay the bills. Translation: buyerâÄôs market. Also, because itâÄôs Craigslist, Uncle Sam canâÄôt take a cent of taxes. Do some searching, and while the deals may be exceptional and most people on Craigslist are genuine, always be wary of scammers. High-def Televisions âÄî To buy a non-HDTV at this juncture (2008) would be foolish and backwards. Thankfully, because so many tech-savvy folk have already purchased HDTVs, the market is saturated and prices are beginning to plummet. To buy new, the best bets are as follows: Best Buy: Sharp 32âÄù LCD 720i HDTV – $499 Circuit City: Samsung 50âÄù Plasma HDTV – $899 (Originally $1,399) Craigslist: Currently, the going rate for an HDTV around 50âÄù is a mere $500! The bulkier tube models are cheaper, but thereâÄôs value in saved space. Video games âÄî The chain of buying, logically, goes HDTV straight into next-gen video gaming system. Lately, and especially in the case of Xbox 360, prices have been coming down on these puppies, as well. ThereâÄôs little variation in price among retailers, but, as always, the deals are on Craigslist. Best Buy: Xbox 360 Arcade (no hard drive) – $199 Much cheaper, has more and (arguably) better games than PS3. Best Buy: Playstation 3 (80 GB) – $399 Unlike Xbox 360, PS3s boast a built-in Blu-ray player and thereâÄôs no charge for online play. Craigslist: Xbox 360 – For around $200 there are plenty of 360âÄôs with hard drives, extra controllers + games. Be cautious of 360s older than a couple of years, though. Microsoft had a major product glitch dubbed âÄúThe Ring of DeathâÄù thatâÄôs since been corrected in newer models. Craigslist: PS3 – Systems with a few extras are going for around $300. Of course, thereâÄôs always haggling to be done. Blu-ray âÄî What has been a curse for pockmarked actors is a blessing for the rest of us. As skeptical as some may be regarding how substantially superior the picture quality of Blu-ray is vs. basic DVDs, the difference truly is night and day. As an added extra, owners of Blu-ray wonâÄôt have to leave the house on movie nights âÄî friends flock to them. Best Buy: Panasonic 1080p Blu-ray player – $229 (originally $300) Wal-Mart: Memorex 1080p Blu-ray Player – $178 Craigslist: Bare-bones models like those above are running around $150. Tropical Booze âÄî Spending the week enjoying new toys is well and good, but this never-fail âÄúimprover of everythingâÄù can add a little extra kick: sweet, sweet liquor. To promote the illusion of having left the living room, here are three tropical drinks thatâÄôll blur the fantastic resolution of any new TV screen. In keeping with the low-cost nature of the rest of this stay-at-home vacation, bottom shelf booze is heartily recommended. Sex on the Beach – 1 1/2 oz. Schnapps, peach – 1 1/2 oz. Vodka – 2 oz. Cranberry Juice – 2 oz. Orange Juice – 2 oz. Pineapple Juice Toss the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a glass. Beach Comber – 1 1/4 oz. Irish cream – 1/4 oz. Banana liqueur – 1 1/2 oz. Piña colada mix – 3/4 oz. Light rum – 1/2 Banana – 2 scoops Vanilla ice cream – 1/8 cup cream Blend and serve. Rum Punch – 2 1/2 Cups unsweetened pineapple juice – 2 1/2 Cups unsweetened orange juice – 1 Cup 151 white rum – 1/2 Cup dark rum – 1/4 Cup coconut rum (Malibu) – 1/4 Cup fresh lime juice – 3 tbsp Grenadine Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, shake and serve.