Thursday, August 30, 2007

What is the MENS?

Rich was reading my Training Episodes, and was asking me what "MENS" was an acronym for, and said that the all caps was "throwing him off".

I explained it was just "mens" in big capital letters. You know, to emphasize importance, and the fact that the training is not for BOYS.

But, we can't have Rich being thrown off, as it might induce random dancing:

So I thought "Hmmm, maybe we should make up an definition for MENS". And when I say "we" I mean "you".

Fire away.

Notsosavvy Travelers

I have been inexplicably short-tempered with clients this week (I blame the month of August, which has sucked). But when you give the clients forms to fill out for their Antarctica trips, and the forms, very clearly, in large block letters, ask you to write your name AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR PASSPORT, and you write "Dave Herman Johnson" on your form, and your mother (who is paying for the trip) has been referring to you as "David" during her many phone calls... I would like to point out that Dave/David is 26 years old. Not 6.

So I have to follow up with Dave Herman Johnson and send him a quick email:

ME: Your forms have your passport name as "Dave" - is this right? Or is it "David"?

DAVE: I have David on my drivers license

So, not only does he not really check his passport (which, I'm assuming has his legal name which is obviously David), and checks his drivers license instead, but he doesn't even acknowledge his error in filling out the forms. Not even an "oops, sorry about that".

I don't understand why this is so complicated.

My past client, Norma Miller, had the opposite problem, in that she wanted to attend to every single detail possible before she left for her trip to the Galapagos. Every single detail, right down to what she would be eating, each day on her trip, and what she would be wearing, each day on her trip. Norma had the added handicap of being 76 years old and living in an email-free household, which meant she had to call me. Nearly every day. For six months, before her trip.

Norma would envision every malady/disaster possible, and ask me how she should handle it if it happened. I understand wanting to be prepared, but I think if you are expecting the very worst to happen, and obsessing over it on a daily basis, maybe traveling just isn't your thing?

She would also call and say things like "I received this Recommended Packing List you sent, and it says I should bring long pants and a sweater for Quito (Ecuador)."

And I would say "Yes, Quito can get quite chilly at night, sometimes in the 50s, and dressing in layers, and things like sweaters are recommended."

Then she would say "Well, what did YOU wear?" And I would think about my cute lime green fleece zip-up jacket that I bought in the children's department at REI, and wonder if Norma would understand "fleece jacket", or if she would immediately rush to the children's department of her nearest store to find something similar. I really thought "sweater" would be pretty easy for her.

She asked me the same thing about when I was on the boat in the Galapagos, and I began to explain that the temperatures can be quite hot - in the 90s- and she would want to dress in her warm-weather clothing, such as bermuda shorts or light-fabric skirts/pants. Then she said "Well, what did YOU wear?" I tried to explain that we probably did not have the same items of clothing in our closets, and that she should bring clothing she was comfortable in, for the types of temperatures I had described to her.

She continued to ask what *I* wore. So I told her I wore tank tops and a sarong, to which she barked into the phone "A SARONG? What is a SARONG?" So I explained the large piece of fabric that you wrap around your waist, to which she said "Well, I don't HAVE one of those."

I can't imagine what her reaction would have been if I had told her that I actually spent most of the time on the boat in a bikini. This is why we send out the Recommended Packing List.

The Final Documents we send out usually include paperwork, and baseball hats with "Galapagos Islands" stitched on the front. I'm going to suggest replacing the hats with sarongs.

Training for the MENS - Episode 2

We are now on to Episode 2 in the Training.

Today's episode: Please, no ambushing. MENS, when you have pseudo-date with neighbor, and pseudo-date very obviously does not go well (painful, awkward silences, lack of common interests, retainers on counter), subsequently pre-empting possibility of second pseudo-date, it is best not to seek out another "chance" encounter with said neighbor.

Although MENS' apartment may be directly over building's garage, and MENS will most likely hear particular automobiles as they pull into their parking spaces, immediately beneath MENS apartment, under no circumstances should MENS take it upon themselves to stage calculated ambush by exiting apartment into stairwell at precisely same moment that former-pseudo-date is entering stairwell from garage, resulting in completely unnecessary, and not-so-pseudo awkward encounter in stairwell.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

If I Were Trouble (the fluffy, white Maltese)

This is what I would have had for lunch. And five of them, thank you very much. It's just that kind of day, week month.

Fluffy, white Maltese dogs can drink mojitos right? I mean, it's not like feeding them chocolate. Oh crap, if I were Trouble-the-fluffy-white-Maltese I would automatically be allergic to chocolate, so scrap that. I'll just have the five mojitos anyway.

Mom & Dad - please note, there are LEAFY GREENS in the mojito.

Nothing But Trouble

August 29, 2007
NEW YORK — Leona Helmsley’s dog will continue to live an opulent life, and then be buried alongside her in a mausoleum. But two of Helmsley’s grandchildren got nothing from the late luxury hotelier and real estate billionaire’s estate.
Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12-million trust fund, according to her will, which was made public Tuesday in surrogate court.

(photo is not necessarily Trouble, but is very cute fluffy white Maltese). I'm sure you can understand how a little fluffy white dog would benefit from $12 million, what with the expensive cars they drive, and all the travel to exotic places, and the rising costs of canine education. Harvard's PhD program? Expensive! (Pooch-havin-Degree. Sorry, couldn't resist).

Leona, you was crazy.

And speaking of trouble, whilst trolling around the internet I saw a link that said "Sexless marriage led Zahn astray", and I was like "WHAT? Steve Zahn was having a sexless marriage???" I love that Steve Zahn, and will watch any movie he is in.

Even that awful disaster with McConaughey & Penelope Cruz, whose title I have mentally blocked out. Something like "Romancing the Raiders Of the Lost Gold With a Boat That Goes Really Fast". Steve Zahn would have saved that film if they had focused more on his character, and let him have 95% of the on-screen time.

Well, the "Zahn" who was in the sexless marriage was not Steve, but Paula-the-news-caster-on-some-show Zahn. Apologies for being too lazy to look up which news program, but I try very hard to avoid news programs altogether. Unless they are focusing on fun, happy topics like sunshine and lollipops. I would LOVE to see that program: "Sunshine & Lollipops, with Brian Williams". I'd put it on my TiVo if I had one. Or if the news programs would at least balance all the gloom and doom with the sunshine and lollipops. One story about how more lives have been lost in the Iraq war - one story about all the people who are building eco-friendly houses in New Orleans.

Or even better - one story about how Trouble-the-fluffy-white-maltese turned right around and donated that $12 million to the Midwest flood victims.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Owen Wilson - File Under "Whaaaaa???" and "Noooooo!!!"

Miss Teen South Carolina owes Owen Wilson a "Thank You" note for taking the focus off of her televised disaster. From FOX News:

LOS ANGELES — Police were called to Owen Wilson's home because of an attempted suicide report, according to a police log of weekend calls.
The Calls For Service report from the Santa Monica Police Department doesn't indicate who made the 911 call, but lists "attempt suicide" as the reason for the call.
Click here to see the report (pdf)
The call was received on Sunday at 12:08:16 p.m. The incident was “cleared” almost five hours later at 5:07:16 p.m.
Wilson was found bloody and dazed after trying to commit suicide by overdosing on pills and slitting his wrist in the wake of a blow-up with a close friend, a source told the New York Post.
A source close to the "Wedding Crashers" actor, 38, also told "Extra" that the actor did indeed attempt suicide over the weekend, saying Wilson has been depressed for the last few months, but not over a broken relationship.
The source also told “Extra” that Wilson’s famous younger brother, Luke Wilson, found him and that Wilson’s family and friends are shocked."

And since I pretend that Luke Wilson is my boyfriend, I am also shocked. I would even be shocked if Luke wasn't my pretend boyfriend.

Owen, as a huge fan of "Bottle Rocket" and "The Royal Tenenbaums", I am protesting your recent decision to end your life. The world is challenging enough, with guys like Kevin Federline procreating all over the place, professional athletes running horrible dog-fighting rings, and the ongoing drunk-driving sagas of Paris, Nicole and Lindsay.

You are far too valuable a personality to just disappear. If you try this again, I'll have you arrested for Grand Theft. Grand Theft of the Funny. And not just the Funny - the REALLY Smart Funny. You think that crap grows on trees? Do you want Hollywood to make even MORE versions of "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle"? Because if you're not in there, wondering "was it Ramses? Or Tutenkamen?", we are going to have to suffer through endless fart jokes instead. Put on your thinking cap:

Give yourself a little pep talk:

And then take your shirt off:

Okay, that last part might not help YOU so much...

But seriously. Don't try that again.

"My Boys" - My Recovery

I was able to recover from Miss Teen South Carolina's mind-numbing soliloquy by watching "My Boys".

MANY thanks to Commentor Jenny for the reminder, and the use of the phrase "douchebag intervention".

It's the little things.

What Are They Teaching in The Land Of Cotton?

Oh my God, you guys. I don't really know what to do with this. I have now watched it 5 times in a row, and my eyebrows are still soaring up under my hairline, and my mouth has been in a petrified "O" for the past four and a half minutes.

What I WANT to do is to sell her these very expensive designer magic beans I've been saving in a shoebox in my closet.

But what she probably needs is a hug, for the humiliating fallout of that moment; and a seat in Mrs. Pihl's kindergarten class - preferably right up next to the board - for everything else she has very clearly missed throughout her school years.

I have been reading several blogs on the subject of Miss Teen South Carolina's platform on "U.S. America's" learning, and there seem to be three - pardon the pun - schools of thought on the subject:

1) Oh, the poor girl - she's just a teenager, and was on TV, and must have been so nervous! (this view was a miniscule minority - possibly 2 out of 50 commentors).

2) Miss Teen South Carolina is most definitely one of those 20% of Americans who are unable to locate the United States on a map.

3) That girl is hot and who cares if she can even tie her own shoes? (I am loathe to say that this was a solid 50% response from the commentors - from

As Otto, from "A Fish Called Wanda", would say..."what was that middle one again?" The middle one was my reaction, and it is just a sad sad thing. On my second viewing, I listened very carefully to the question, and tried to imagine what my response would have been, upon hearing that 1/5 of Americans cannot locate their own country on a map. And it would have been something like "Are you kidding? You're kidding right? Am I being Punk'd? Where did you get that information?", all the while leaning away from Slater, who would have been trying to lick my earlobes and rub up against my sequined gown.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Constructive Criticism From Gordy

Email from my dad:

"I enjoyed your blog on Ho Chi Minh City shopping; but your health tips are a sign of adolescence that is unbecoming of a person of your years..."

(Ed. note: ouch)

"...Your body is your temple and should not be treated as a sewer for sweets. Go to your health care provider and get a complete blood count to assure that you are not having systemic breakdown. You may have had a virus running through your system. Also, instead of Ben and Jerry's pick up a thermometer and use it..."

(Ed. note: I'll tell him where he can put his thermometer)

"...You do write well although I wish you spent more time with "The Economist" than your current reading fare.
Love, Dad"

That last sentence reminded me of a scene from my childhood:

Interior - parents bedroom, 11 yr old me brushing out freshly curled hair, before a piano recital, as mom rummages through closet and dad sits on bed, putting shoe-trees in his shoes (or whatever it is old people do with their shoes).

DAD: You know, kid, if you spent as much time on your schoolwork as you do on your hair, you'd be a damn sight smarter.

11 yr old Me: But I wouldn't be a damn sight.

And then my dad just started sputtering/laughing and saying "Sue? Sue? Did you hear that? Did you hear what she said?"

And yet he still thinks I would appreciate a subscription to "The Economist".

I would if they had a September Fashion Issue.

The Healing Power of Ice Cream

I had been some-kinda-sicky since last Thursday, which was an awful nuisance as it caused me to miss several Very Fun Social Outings.

This past weekend's activities consisted of me laying on the couch and pushing buttons on the remote, in between naps. I think I was awake for maybe 7 hours the entire weekend. What is that? I thought I had "Sleeping Sickness" (even though I'm not really sure what that is); my coworker thought I was pregnant. I'm pretty sure neither of us was right.

On Sunday, my mom said she thought it must have something to do with my diet. Was I getting enough iron?

(This kind of question always reminds me of the Geritol commercial from the 70's with Australian tennis pro Evonne Goolagong saying "I have AYAN POOAH BLOOD").

Mom's suggestion was to "eat more leafy greens", which she knows I hate. I said "Mmm, mebbe", and then when I hung up the phone I decided to get some dinner. And when I say "dinner" I mean a pint of Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heathbar Crunch ice cream.

And you know what? Today I woke up feeling like a million bucks. Coincidence? I think not. Another non-coincidence? Coffee Heathbar Crunch is number 9 on the Top 10 Flavors list. 9 is my lucky number.

Who has goosebumps?

Ben & Jerry's Top 10 Flavors:

1) Cherry Garcia® Ice Cream
2) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
3) Chocolate Fudge Brownie™ Ice Cream
4) Chunky Monkey® Ice Cream
5) Half Baked™ Ice Cream
6) Phish Food® Ice Cream
7) New York Super Fudge Chunk® Ice Cream
8) Cherry Garcia® Low Fat Frozen Yogurt
9) Coffee Heath Bar Crunch® Ice Cream
10) Peanut Butter Cup™ Ice Cream

Just a random curiosity: does anyone else have a problem with the Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor - as in, the brownies are always very dry and crumbly? If you are having this problem, let me know, and we will band together and contact Ben or Jerry Tout de Suite (Or someone at Haagen Dazs, since they bought B&J). That used to be one of my Top 3 flavors.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm Slutty in Vietnam

I spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in March 2001. Apparently, The Thing to do whilst in one of the larger Vietnam cities is to have clothing made at a tailor. There are tailor shops all over the place, and you just have to pick one that has fabric you like, and take the plunge. Or not take the plunge - follow along with me.

I found a great shop, wandered inside, and began picking through various gorgeous fabrics, trying to find one that would make the perfect dress. We were having an "event" on the big ship we were sailing on, and it required a dress.

I found a beautiful silver silk fabric with a sort of black Asian plants pattern (fronds and such), and decided that would be The Dress. The little Vietnamese tailor-ladies in the shop then ushured me over to several large, flopping books full of patterns for the dress type. This was much more fun than when I was 7, and my mom made me go to Jo-Ann Fabrics with her and look through all those musty Butterick books, surrounded by suffocating rows and rows of ribbon, buttons, and rounders with lace, and blah blah. This shop was just so much more elegant, intimate, and exotic. I was fancy-shopping in Vietnam.

The pattern I selected was fairly basic - mid-calf length column dress; close-fitted to the body, with thin shoulder straps. Easy, right? Yes. Easy until you get to the part where you have to explain to the little Vietnamese tailor-ladies where you want the neckline of the dress to fall.

I was pointing to a spot a couple of inches south of my sternum - nothing racy, as I am devoid of cleavage, but I wasn't going to be wearing the dress to church either. I would point to that spot and say "here", and then the two little Vietnamese tailor-ladies would look at me, shake their heads, and point their fingers 3 inches higher, at collarbone level and say "No - HERE". So I would point my finger back down 3 inches and say "Um, I'd like it HERE". And then they would do more of the vehement head-shaking and move the pointed finger back up to my collarbone and say "HERE". We went through this 3 times, before the little Vietnamese tailor-ladies stepped back, nodded and said "Okay, okay". I was happy to leave the shop as I was beginning to feel a bit like a hussy. Slutty Americans.

I returned to the shop 4 days later, and the dress was ready and waiting for me, hanging on a small rack next to the cashier's desk. It looked fantastic! It was bizarre to me to have chosen my very own fabric, and then see it turned into a dress - I realize this is what people who sew DO, but since I don't sew, it was like magic. I stepped behind a heavy velvet curtain into the small dressing room and tried the dress on to make sure it fit.

And the neckline was right there. Up at my collarbone.

Well, last year I finally showed those little Vietnamese tailor-ladies. I had my friend Sally turn it into a strapless dress. Neener neener neener.

Ed. note: the dress cost $27 - crazy! If you're in Vietnam, definitely have something made for yourself. If you ask nicely, Sally will alter it when you get back. And you can be slutty wherever you want.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

September - Studying My Fashion

September is approaching, as was announced by the thirty pounds of magazines I recently received in my mailbox. And I don't even subscribe to Vogue.

I know Vogue is the be-all, end-all, Official Bible of Fashion, but frankly it is just too elitist and pretentious for me. When I had a subscription to Vogue, I would file the issues under "Things That Make Me Feel Bad About Myself".

I do, however, completely relate to and enjoy Harper's Bazaar

And InStyle

I can't quite put my finger on why these publications affect me differently than Vogue (fewer photo montages of society people I've never heard of, but who are apparently100 times more fabulous than I), but they do. And I love them.

This month, InStyle weighs in at 618 pages, and Bazaar at 574. One thing that stood out in these two issues is that Kate Moss is featured in no fewer than four major ad campaigns. Although not in photos like this:

Note to Britney Spears:

Find out who Kate Moss's publicist is, and hire her. Immediately.

I mean which is worse: a cocaine addiction or a bad hairdo?

So this is what I learned from my September magazines:

1) It is possible bounce back from a drug scandal, and make more money than you had ever made before in your modeling career (hopefully not to support the supposedly cured drug habit).

2) You will need a full 12 hours to get through Bazaar and InStyle in one sitting.

3) Peep-toe, lace-up booties are hot footwear for fall.*

*This was the most disappointing news I've had since Lindsay fell off the wagon. Fall was supposed to be the time I could let my pedicures lapse. Pfft.

4) Invest in all kinds of patent leather...

And to show that I can apply what I've learned (in this case, even before I read about the whole patent leather thing):

Retail - $99

Marked down - 80%

Coupon - 15%

I paid - $17

I'd like to request some extra credit homework now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Reality TV Follow Up

I had previously posted about several reality shows, which I then neglected to do any sort of follow up on.

Here are the reasons.

REASON: I had no doubt Bachelor Mark would choose 25-yr old Amanda, and he chose 25-yr old Amanda. Ergo: no exciting upset to speak of.

SHOW: Sunset Tan

REASON: If I watch it too much I start thinking that not only is Vivid Tangerine a great color for a Crayola crayon, it isn't such a bad shade for skintone either.

SHOW: Scott Baio is 45 and Single


Bill Murray, Sweden and A Golf Cart

Alternate title: "Three things I love".

1) Bill Murray: When I was in high school I wanted to marry either Bill Murray, or David Letterman. Both are now married, so is a moot point.

2) Sweden: I am 1/4 Swedish, and therefore love All Things Swedish. Except those stupid Ikea dressers that you have to put together yourself, and then the drawers don't open and close properly, so you are cramming them too full of clothes, and yanking them open, and trying to shove them closed, and your pajamas are spilling out of the top of the drawer, and you end up swearing a lot. My neighbors think "F*cking dresser!" is the name of a constantly misbehaving pet.

3) Golf cart: Who doesn't love golf carts?

Murray was stopped by Norrmalm (Sweden) police while en route from a restaurant back to his hotel, upon suspicion of drunk driving. In a golf cart.

I just think that is funny.

A Meal for the Unwell

There are food items that you gravitate toward when you are not feeling well:

1) Toast

2) Soup

3) Ginger Ale

4) 7-Up

And then there are food items that you consume, even though you are not feeling well, because you are at Happy Hour:

1) One Chocolate chip cookie

2) One piece tempura shrimp sushi

3) One fried plaintain chip

4) Two mojitos

I have always said "I am not a financial advisor", when doing things like shoe shopping, or trying to talk friends into taking trips when they cannot really afford it.

Now I can also add "not a nutritionist" to my resume.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Separated at Birth?

In recent "news" infamous porn star Jenna Jameson had her breast implants removed. The reduced breast size, along with her diminishing frame, and the requisite overly blonde, overly tan appearance renders her transformation into Paris Hilton nearly complete

Now, if she only had a sex tape of some sort...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Two Chicago Stories

My dad sent me this in an email today (Warning: these stories do not have anything to do with celebrities, shoe shopping, and are only marginally related to travel. But they're Chicago stories. Always good.)

I have taken the liberty of adding a few photos (for my own amusement), and modifying a few sentences, as I found some of the punctuation annoying. Sometimes the exclamation point can seem needy and desperate for attention:



Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.

Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie" who was very good at his job. In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid Eddie very well. Not only was the money big , but Eddie also received special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that surrounded him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Money was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify his wrongs. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

The clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop

At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own.

Live, love, toil with a will.

Place no faith in time.

For the clock may soon be still.


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.

His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.


Viva Chicago! (exclamation point, in this case, totally valid). And don't forget to visit Portillo's Hot Dogs if you're there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why Her Watch So Much TV?

Why? Because it is August in Seattle, and the weather looks exactly the same as January/February/March, etc.

We have been robbed of summer, and I have made several calls to Allstate to see what kind of compensation they are willing to offer.



AMC (American Movie Classics) tends to forget that they are supposed to be showing ACTUAL classics on their channel. Now, as someone whose blog title is "TravelGretta", I understand the reality of a potential, periodic material shortage, specifically related to the purported topic.


They were showing "Raising Helen" the other night. You know. The movie where Kate Hudson plays a self-absorbed twenty-something who is awarded custody of her deceased sister's children, and supposed hilarity ensues, along with some supposedly tender, heartwarming moments? An "American Movie Classic"? Egads. I could only watch the first 10 minutes, and then had to turn to the Cartoon Network for some thoughtful, intelligent dialogue.

Last night AMC remembered who they were, and showed "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".

I will remember what the name of MY channel is, and explain how this is travel-related:

Two kooky showgirls, Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) take a steamer-ship from New York to France. (New York to France - that is traveling). Hilarity ensues. Notsomuch the tender, heartwarming moments, as a lot of flashy song-and-dance numbers.

Lorelei: Excuse me, but what is the way to Europe, France?

Dorothy: Honey, France is IN Europe.

Lorelei: Well who said it wasn't?

Dorothy: Well... you wouldn't say you wanted to go to North America, Mexico.

Lorelei: If that's where I wanted to go, I would.

And then there's the whole "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" musical number, which is both classic and American.

I love all the old Monroe movies, and this week AMC is featuring a whole mess of them. If they really love me, they'll show "Some Like It Hot".

And if they want to punish me, they'll show "Raising Helen" again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Training for the MENS - Episode 1

I am most certainly a self-appointed expert on What Women Want. As I am a Women. I have decided to create mini-episodes here, to help out the MENS. When I think of little tidbits I think might be useful to the MENS, I will post them.

Today's Episode: MENS, please take a page out of Mark's handbook. Mark is my coworker, Betty's, husband. Betty was out on an Arctic trip, aboard a Russian icebreaker, for the past 3 weeks, and while she was gone, Mark stopped by the office just to say "Hi".

The day he stopped in just happened to be my coworker, Amelia's, birthday, which I mentioned to Mark as he stood chatting in the office. He said "Really?", and immediately rushed out to his car, and reappeared with a brand new, unopened box of chocolates.

I found this to be very David Copperfield/David Blaine/Lance Burton-esque, in that they were CHOCOLATES! That MAGICALLY APPEARED! Seemingly OUT OF NOWHERE! "Nowhere" being Mark's car, but that is inconsequential. And don't interrupt me when I'm talking about chocolates.

As it turns out, Mark says he "always keeps a spare box of chocolates in the car - just in case."

That is just about the best thing I've ever heard, in my life. MENS - take note!


Sorry, I Meant If ELVIS Was A Travel Agent

ELVIS, not Prince. There's nothing I love more, when returning to work after being sick, than to have an email from Imed in my inbox. I have been trying to ascertain whether or not one couple (Michael & Katherine Johnson), out of Imed's group of 8, will need a hotel reservation in Cairo on November 7.

ME: Hello again!

Michael & Katherine Johnson are arriving into Cairo on November 7. Are they making their own hotel arrangements for that night (and if so, please let me know where they'll be)? Or do they need one extra pre-night at the Four Seasons?

Please let me know - thanks!!

IMED: Hi: lf u look carefully, they depart 11/7 on UA 916 and arrive via FRA on UA 582 into Cairo on the 11/8/07 and will be picked up and taken care of by your rep to arrive safe and sound and so happy at their Ist Residence?/ l hope this makes sense!Thanks - ta very much Imed.

(ed. note - those flights are for a totally different couple in the group, Kari Johnson and Michael Jones - not Michael & Katherine Johnson. "Look carefully". I'll show him how to "look carefully".)

ME: Not Kari Johnson and Michael Jones. Their flights are fine.

Michael Johnson & Katherine Johnson are flying LHR/Cairo on November 7 (British Airways #0155)- ARRIVING on November 7 at 11:05PM. This information is per their Flight Questionnaire that they submitted (page 6 of the attachment). Can you please check with them?
Previous Email:
(pasted my previous email here, hoping that he would actually read ALL the words)

IMED: Hi : Here is the info on their flt schedules!!Imed

(Here he forwarded an email from the clients with the same flight information I had just sent him, as an attachment. Which he clearly did not open.)

ME: Imed, I have this information. I had sent YOU the flight schedule (see attachment from last email).



(I do not typically write anything in all caps, as it looks like I am yelling. In this case, I was yelling.)

IMED: Hi: Sorry for u having to go thru all this, they do NOT need reservations. They will be staying for 1 nite at the CAIRO RAMSES HILTON-per their rq!! So will your rep pick them up on 11/7 at 23:05 and get their Egyptian visa's and transfer them to the hotel at no extra charge??\
As ELVIS would say,"
Thank U very much" Imed

(There are far too many unnecessary punctuation marks in Elvis' emails. "Visas" should not have an apostrophe, as it now appears that "visa is", or that there is something that belongs to "visa".)

Visa Las Vegas. My headache is back.

Staying Home Sick

When you feel like doody, and have only enough energy to drag yourself out of bed, down the hall to the living room, and up onto the couch, there really isn't too much you are able to accomplish.

Being sick on the weekend is annoying for these reasons:

1) You can't call in sick to work. Although I am officially out of sick days until September 4, so that wouldn't have worked anyway. But still.

2) You can't run any of the errands you had been putting off all week. You know, because you'd have had plenty of time to do them on the weekend. If you weren't sick.

3) If you don't have good DVDs to watch, you are completely at the mercy of the programming fairies at the various local and cable broadcasting stations. I got lucky.

Thank you to TBS for showing "Getting Played".

I had no idea that I could enjoy a movie with Vivica A. Fox and Carmen may have been the illness, but I liked it.

And thank you for following that with "Blue Streak" co-starring my pretend boyfriend, Luke Wilson. In one of the scenes I could have sworn he turned to the camera and said "Would you like me to bring you some chicken soup?"

Yes, I would like that chicken soup. And please leave the bulletproof vest on...

And also a huge thank you to the Oxygen Network (for women) for showing what has quickly ingratiated it's movie-self into my "favorites" category, despite the mediocre reviews I had read:

Even the TVGuide channel roasts it a little. I thought the brief synopses attached to the shows and movies were just supposed to be very general, and completely objective. I clicked on the movie title, and it said "Strained romantic comedy charting the relationship of two strangers (Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet) who have a fling on an airplane and keep running into each other over the next several years..."

"Strained"? Like, the way I prefer my orange juice? Without the gross floaty pulp? Which makes it much easier to swallow, and really very delicious? Yeah, that's what I thought they meant.

I a lot like love this movie. The first time I saw it, in the theater, I was like "I totally want that soundtrack". Since then I've seen it, on cable, a few more times. The more I watch it, the more I love it. Compared to so very many other romantic comedies, it is realistic, funny, and totally endearing.

I also a lot like love the soundtrack.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stupid Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

So, Friday? When I pretend called in sick to the blog? Yeahhhh, went home early with a monster headache and the all-consuming desire to pass out on the couch. That lasted until 4PM today.

I'm better now.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

He's Just Not That Into You - The MOVIE

I have no idea how this will turn out, but am looking forward to it anyway.

"Aniston may star in 'He's Just Not That Into You'
Actress in final negotiations to join Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson in the ensemble comedy.
By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times Staff WriterAugust 17, 2007

Jennifer Aniston is the latest actress linked to "He's Just Not That Into You," a new comedy based on the bestselling book of the same title about the seemingly endless ways in which men and women misunderstand each other.Last seen in "The Break-Up," Aniston is in negotiations to star in the New Line Cinema ensemble comedy being directed by Ken Kwapis. If it all works out, Aniston will play a woman in a long-term relationship with a boyfriend who will not commit to marriage.Scarlett Johansson has already signed on: She'll play a Pilates instructor and aspiring singer who finds herself in love with a married man. Also in the cast are Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper and Ginnifer Goodwin. Barrymore is producing the film through her Flower Films company.According to, the film will be set in Baltimore. It follows interconnecting story arcs dealing with the challenges of reading -- and misreading -- human behavior.The film fictionalizes the popular 2004 self-improvement book "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys" that was co-written by stand-up comedian Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo"

And I'm psyched that Bradley Cooper is attached to this!

When Sydney Bristow would just pat Will Tippen on the head, or give him the friend-hug, I would be all yelling at the TV "Dammit, Sydney, come ON! Will Tippen is a total babe, and is so much less likely to try to kill you than Michael Vaughn, who is very cute but very suspicious!"

But then, Will Tippen may have gone crazy/been replaced by a Cyborg/turned into Carrot Top, and I would have been completely unaware as I stopped watching "Alias" after they kept changing the timeslot. I know. I need to invest in a TiVo.

Fingers crossed that Flower Films pulls this one off. Cause We're Just Not That Into It, if we only want to see it when we're drunk.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Taking a Blog Sick Day

Um, she's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Gretta pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

If Prince Was a Travel Agent

I occasionally have to work with travel agents. Their job is supposed to make my job easier - i.e. clear communication with the clients, streamlined processes, etc. This really only happens 50% of the time, and the other 50% is full of headache-inducing emails like this:

"Hi: HOW GOES IT?? I hope well W/U !!

The 3Joneses/Kenneth/Sarah/Kimberly and 2Smiths/Jack/Vicky arriving 11/5/06 will NOT NEED transfer and assist on this one portion as it will cause problems with the pre pkg. l would really appreciate this one leg to be handle with the pre-pkg that l am arranging. I understand that they will receive a Egyptian visa credit of $15.00.p.p. and l hope a one way transfer and assist credit of $ ??for not using the services on 11/8/07-the beginning of the Land tour, Correct?? Please let me know about this , but the rest of the features, services are still applicable i.e no goof up on their meet and assist with visa for Jordan and the transfer back on 11/26/07 from Amman airport with the airticket to Sharm el Sheik! THANK U so much. Imed."

Or as I would have him sign it: Travel Agent Formerly Known as Imed.

You may think that you don't understand the email, because you are not familiar with the Egypt/Jordan program. Trust me, that is not the problem. I'm going to take 5 Tylenol now.

Open Letter to Owner of Pet For Whom I am Pet-Sitting

1) Your mail has been retrieved, and you receive far too many unnecessary catalogues.

2) Instructions to give pet water are confounding...fill up bamboo table centerpiece? Doest Mako take her water from the centerpiece?

3) Your piano needs tuning. And perhaps several more volumes of sheet music for Christmas songs.

4) Box containing something called Weight Watchers Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Bars may have one fewer than your last count.

5) Bag marked "sweet & spiced nuts" from Healdsburg, CA, may or may not be empty and/or completely missing upon your return.

6) Sweet & spiced nuts may or may not have been delicious.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Moment of Silence, Please

For the most part I stumble around the Blogiverse pretty aimlessly, looking for things I find interesting, funny, shocking, whatever. When I find something I like, I am quite pleased, and rightly so - there is a LOT of crap out there.

Remember the whole Capitol Hill scandal with Jessica Cutler:

and her letters to Penthouse revealing blog? (Would someone please accompany Ms. Cutler to the Intimate Apparel department at Nordstrom, where the salesclerk can explain how to wear appropriate undergarments with that transparent white top?) I hadn't really dug into that at all, but saw Cutler quoted on the back side (no pun intended) of Kerry's copy of "Bitter is the New Black", and decided to Google The Washingtonienne to see what all the fuss was about.

After reading a page-full of posts, mouth vacillating between agape and puckered-in-disgust, I went back to Google and started reading a thoughtful, informative, and articulate entry about Ms. Cutler and the scandal on a website called SteveGilliard.Blogspot. I really enjoyed the piece, and was thinking "Oooh, I like this, and I can add it to my blogroll, and read other stuff by this Steve Gilliard guy."

I noticed that the posts on SteveGilliard.Blogspot stopped on January 22, and there was a post about how he and his writing partner, Jen, were moving to a new format, and had a new web address, and it was fancier and blah blah. So I'm doing my exasperated sigh, and I'm all "oh for crying out loud, you mean I need to remain seated on my arse, and type in a whole new web address, that will take me mere seconds, to get to this new site?" How lazy am I? Pretty lazy.

I typed into the browser window and was hit with this:

"Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007
It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.
To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.
Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.
Steve meant so much to us.
We will miss him terribly."

WTF??? Now I'm all upset and in shock, and I didn't even know this guy, but I had JUST discovered that I really liked his writing, and now I don't get to read it anymore. And he was only 42???

Did you know this man?

And such a sweet, kind face! I hate stuff like this. It makes me sad. And now I'm quite possibly making you sad. I promise the next post will be very shallow and vapid with photos of shoes and overexposed celebrities, but for now, a moment of silence for Mr. Steve Gilliam.



So photo of Sandra Bullock in chocolate dress is taking the place of belated chocolate birthday cake? There is still time to make that...No?

But seriously, thanks mom =)

Upon closer inspection, the dress is very pretty but I think it's the whole Sandy-presentation that makes it uber-fantastic. Doesn't she look hot?

The winning photo was #2 of 4 emails my mom sent this afternoon. The story unfolded as follows:

Email #1 from Mom: "Is this it?"

Email #2 from Mom: "I like this one"

Email #3 from Mom: "Is this brown?"Email #4 from Mom: "I don't like this one"

My mom is the best.

Best-Dressed List

The September issue of Vanity Fair features their 68th Annual Best-Dressed List, which has been the cause of much dispute/commotion/general silliness.

...which reminded me how badly I want to create my OWN Best-Dressed List, or some semblance of such.

I relish my time spent with the fashion magazines, and televised red carpet extravaganzas. The main reason I ever purchase UsWeekly, Star, InTouch, etc. is because of the big, glossy photos of the fabulous clothing that adorns the Belles du jour of Tinseltown.

My little list here is really just actresses I love, wearing outfits that made me squeal and clutch my hands to my heart when I saw them. I would make an EXCELLENT gay man (or, an excellent charicature of a gay man at any rate).

Okay, now, I must admit, I do not actually love Scarlett Johansson. She is fine, and I did love "Lost in Translation", but must just turn a deaf ear to all other news of her, as the word on the street is that she's kind of trampy. I prefer to think of her as she appears in this photo. This outfit is SO perfectly Old Hollywood. The dress is just gorgeous, and her makeup and hair are perfect.

Jessica Alba always dresses to the nines, and this outfit is no exception, but the reason I chose this, was her earrings. I covet them in the worst way. You may not be able to see them very well, but trust me. They are spectacular. I said the EARRINGS.

Who did NOT gasp in delighted awe when Reese Witherspoon stepped out at the Golden Globes looking like the canary that ate the cheating husband cat? No one. That's who. She looked FINE - the sassy, sharp haircut, and the yellow dress combined with red shoes & jewelry, that was Yellow & Red, but not in the Ronald McDonald kind of way. Nicely done!

Who saw "Dreamgirls"? Me. I did. And Jennifer Hudson deserved every drop of hype that came out of that performance. And just look at her in this sweet number!

Perennial fashion favorite, and my current Netflix maven, Cate Blanchett ("The Good German" is arriving on Wednesday for homework). I'm not typically a fan of black ensembles, but the flowers on the shoes, and the way they complement the neckline of the dress just makes me happy. And did you notice the POCKETS? Pockets on a dress are just about my favorite thing ever.

And when the pockets are on a dress like Renee Zellweger's Carolina Herrera gown, it is like Christmas + my birthday + Chocolate Day. And you can keep chocolate in the pockets of the dress. As long as you keep them wrapped up.

This next one was featured in the "What were they THINKING?" section of UsWeekly or InTouch or one of those. What Debra Messing was THINKING was that this dress is fantastic, and the red hair, gray dress, darling shoes combination of deliciousness would not possibly be lost on anyone with an ounce of style (are you looking at the buttons on the dress, and then the detail on the shoe? Are you?). Does that dress have pockets? It should.

I love Drew Barrymore for making "Never Been Kissed", for dating Luke Wilson, for yanking herself back from the abyss of adolescent addiction, and taking responsibility for herself, and for being a self-described dork, and for a whole bunch of other stuff I've enjoyed hearing her say in random interviews. I also love her for wearing this dress:

I wouldn't say Cameron Diaz was on my list of favorite actors, but I saw this photo and just about died. This dress & accessories combination is like candy. Very, very expensive candy. I LOVE this.

I have been scouring Google for a photo of Sandra Bullock in a gorgeous chocolate brown dress (possibly Oscar de la Renta?) which she wore as a presenter at some awards show a few years ago. This gorgeous chocolate brown dress has become my Moby Dick; my white whale - I cannot find any photos of her in this dress!!! I am now completely bananas, as I have seen her in every other dress she owns/borrowed/whatever. Where is the gorgeous chocolate brown dress??? Help me!!!

This is not it, although this one is lovely.

It is not the gorgeous chocolate brown dress.

My topmost greatness lies in my topmost grief. Stop watching "Hell's Kitchen" and go read "Moby Dick".

And then please find a photo of Sandra Bullock in that dress for me. Pretty please.