Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Travelocity

Now that my phone is permanently attached to my ear (oh, wait--for some people, this is probably a reality)...I mean, that's what happens when you're on hold for 1-1/2 hours.


With nothing resolved.

See, I guess my first mistake was booking a package on-line through Travelocity, because here's the deal: now that the sh*t has hit the fan, I can only deal directly with them. And, for some reason, changes have to be made via telephone which, you may be surprised to discover, ain't very convenient.

First, you call the toll-free number, WAIT FOR A HALF-HOUR, during which they play the MOST ANNOYING music, then you get one of those cheerful but useless guys from India on the line. You tell him your problem.

Okay, I'm sure you've all heard the airlines are being real generous--waiving the penalty to change flights into and out of Mexico--but, it turns out this isn't the problem. Because...well...you need a date to change TO, doncha? Like, I dunno...a week from now? Two? How about four months? Oh, and there's this little rarely mentioned (and less understood) caveat: you have to pay the difference in class if the class you purchased is no longer available (and guess what--somehow, it's a CINCH it's no longer available).

So Sahib puts you on hold to contact the airline and check on the date you've grabbed out of the air--your birthday in September. When he comes back, he informs you that you only have to pay an additional $229 to change the flight. (See? So much for waived penalties.)

Next, he puts you back on hold in order to contact the hotel. (This is after you've already been on hold off and on for an hour and a half.) Comes back to say the hotel reservation people are at lunch, and you'll have to call back later...putting you at the ass-end of the line again. (I'm really not understanding why these agents can't use computers.)

Anyway, I decided to try Citibank.

After all, they have a big old sign on their website that says I automatically qualify for trip cancellation/interruption insurance. So I call their gal in India--only I discover that in fact I'm NOT automatically qualified for these benefits. (I guess because the planes are still flying and, technically, I can still take the trip I'm scheduled to take.) Anyway, from what I gather, they WILL however cover that pesky $229 addition...and maybe even the change in the hotel (if I knew what the hotel adder would be). The scary part of this is that I priced the exact same trip for September on Travelocity this morning, and...yikes...it came out to $1400 MORE than I paid.

Meanwhile, my traveling partner sells pre-paid legal insurance. Yep, we're covering ALL the bases.

I just read an on-line article in which would-be travelers to Mexico reported full refunds from Expedia.

Hm. Travelocity, are you paying attention??

Monday, April 27, 2009

Adios, Puerto Vallarta

And this little piggy stayed home...

(At least that's the plan. I mean, when you discover that the governor of Jalisco has closed all the bars and nightclubs of your vacation destination, well...time to find somewhere else to go.) Any suggestions?

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's Always Something

So, I don't know about you, but when I'm getting ready for a vacation, a couple worries come to mind. Namely, stuff like airplane crashes (*knocks on wood*), missed flights, and lost luggage.

Rarely do I think of
Oink? More like Oy.

Suddenly, the afternoon headlines are filled with stories of possible border closings, the nationwide shutdown of public facilities, and the very real potential that, along with bathing suits, I oughta be packing surgical masks.


Picture me in Mexico next week:

(And no, that's not supposed to be a beard.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Boss Comes Through

Bruce Springsteen, via the Dream Foundation, made my friend Karen's wish come true last Wednesday night. Read more about his amazing generosity and Karen's indomitable spirit by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

George Will Reads Harlequin

What could be better, huh? If you watch all six minutes of this video, I promise you won't be disappointed. George Will, reading from a Harlequin novel. Be still my beating heart.

(As an added bonus, you also get the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogan. Wow. Harlequin goes mainstream pop culture, baby.)

Anyway, guess this appeared on Nightline, although it's more like shameless advertising. I have to admit, I haven't read anything from Harlequin in years, maybe decades, despite the title of my blog.

Obviously, I need to get with it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And Now, For Something A Little Different...

So I'm listening to my voicemail on Saturday afternoon, and I hear, "Let's get together later."

But by the time I return the call, the potential participants have lost interest. "Phone us if you come up with something," they suggest half-heartedly.

A couple hours later, I conjure up the perfect plan. I mean, we're talking so perfect, I go ahead and do the shower and shampoo thing before I even bother to call and put it on the table.

Sure enough.

Chi Chi's Pizza followed by bowling meets with resounding approval. Yep! That means I BOWLED last Saturday night.

Actually, what you REALLY need to know is that I KICKED ASS on Saturday night.



Okay, so what if two hours of bowling is like two hours of lunging...which means I also ache like a sonofabitch?

Doesn't matter. I'm basking in my reign as Bowling Queen.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Woulda Shoulda Coulda

On Mark and Brian this morning, the boys brought up a fun discussion topic--namely: was there a musical event you should have been at but, for whatever reason, you missed?


Two instantly come to mind. Here's the first (and as I write about it, trust me, I'm almost hyperventilating).

Check out the lineup:In case you can't read it, we're talking The Doors...The Jefferson Airplane...The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band...

Now, picture this: the concert took place on the athletic field of a friggin local high school. I mean, crap--look at the cost of the tickets! THREE BUCKS! In fact, every time I've told this story in the past gazillion years, I always thought I made up the part about The Doors being there. Wasn't sure until I googled it (and stole this picture). According to the person who posted the photo, only about 100 people were in attendance, but sh/e has to be wrong about that. (Sidenote: I swear, anyone I've ever met in the last decade who's roughly my age CLAIMS to have been at the infamous Birmingham concert.)

Anyway, so my story isn't a hundred percent tragic. I DID make it to the concert. In fact, my girlfriends and I arrived early enough to get space on the grass about ten feet from the stage. Nirvana, huh? I remember the anticipation in the air...the sun going down behind the warm-up bands.

We all just wanted to see Jefferson Airplane and The Doors.

Only one problem.

The concert began to run more and more behind schedule, and as the clock crept closer and closer to...um...ELEVEN, I grew increasingly nervous.

Ya see, my DAD was picking us up at eleven and, God knows, this was eons before cell phones, so I couldn't exactly just call and tell him to delay (not that he would have anyway because, as you can see, we were...what, about twelve? Thirteen?)

So, sadly, I dragged my reluctant girlfriends from our primo spots, whining all the way, to where we met up with my dad...

just as The Doors took the stage.

And that's why I missed seeing one of the iconic rock stars of my generation.

*Further evidence of my decrepit memory: I'm pretty sure we DID see the Jefferson Airplane...for some reason, although they WERE the headliner, I think they went on before The Doors....but then again, maybe not.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sometimes I Write

...bet you were wondering, huh?

Well, as proof, I have a sale to report. Yep. Another story to True Romance Magazine, this one for their July issue with a tentative title of "Summer Soul Mates." So far, I've only missed May this year. Darn. And for anyone keeping track, we're up to 24 sales total over the past 16 months. May not seem momentous to some, but guess what? Word by word, sale by sale, the bottom line on my spreadsheet is starting to add up to a nice chunk of change (as in $$).

By the way, check out the new "Trues" website by clicking here. It's updated daily and contains all kinds of fun features and tidbits.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vegas, Baby


That's how quick the weekend jaunt to Las Vegas took. The proverbial blink of an eye.

First, I boarded a Southwest flight in Burbank Friday afternoon. Sources of amusement everywhere! From behind me, two women (grown women! speaking in polysyllabic words, mind you!) puzzling over the lack of First Class. It's usually in the front, one woman claimed, and it's partitioned off. Their conclusion? That only LAX does it that way. (I'm like, hello! Ever heard of an airline called Southwest??) Then, a guy in a business suit (a business suit, mind you!), gets on and asks the flight attendant where he's supposed to sit. I mean, seriously. Rookies abundant!

Uh, I might add here that Southwest has gone cashless. (Me=rookie) Luckily, I had a stash of drink coupons in my purse. (As Blogreader Joe always says: plan well for no surprises.)

Touched down in Las Vegas around 3p.m. and cabbed it over to the Rio to check in. How FUN was it to plop my initials next to the $0 rate? Exceedingly fun, that's how much.

Caught up with Ann and the rest of the wedding party to do some gambling...blah, blah, blah...somehow it got to be around 1 a.m....or was it two...?

Spent a lot of Saturday chilling in the room, which ain't too hard when there's so much to watch outside your window. Don't ask me who bathed the Strip in the eerie blue wash. Not sure what happened, except to say something bad may have occurred to my camera when I tried to snap night photos while under the influence.

Luckily, my camera recovered the following evening to take this fabu shot of the bride and groom, Richard and Stephenie.And this one during the ceremony...
But with the battery icon blinking (hm, could've SWORN I charged it), I had to get picky with the shots--hence, um...not so many to post here. (In fact, I just shot my wad, except for the piece de resistance--AKA Marty dancing with his daughter.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Have We Been This Way Before?

Long story short, last night I stumbled across something on the Internet that gave me pause-- namely, old versions of my website. I mean, REALLY OLD versions. Complete with antiquated navigation bar, former color palette...and (gasp) OLD content.

Who knew??

And how do I get rid of it?

Case in point, click here to see the collage I put together while writing Lights! Camera! Love! Kinda cool, huh? Although Tanika ended up as Alisha and Taylor morphed into Josh. Can't say I ever referred to this stunning piece of art again, but I like to think the process helped stir the creative pot.

Which, hm. Maybe I should trot out the idea again for Jen's book. (We're talking MY version of collaging...no glue sticks, no poster board. Just point, click, and copy.)

But, meanwhile...guess I'd better see about expunging (am I using that word properly??) out-of-date stuff running around loose on the Web.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Has It Been Another Year Already??

Eeek. Yep. It's that time again. Time to wish the Senora happy birthday. Where does the time go? In honor of the occasion, I'm dying to post the immortal video I took of her flying backwards off the boat. (Who can forget that blood-curdling scream?) But I've sworn (kinda) to keep it to myself. So it's not on Youtube or anything. Don't think for a moment it is.


The best I can do (in the interest of maintaining my current state of robust health) is this photo, culled from the video. Yes, in case you can't tell, those are the Senora's flailing feet as she plummets below the surface. (No living beings were harmed during the filming of this episode.)

And, trust me. This is only ONE of the many memorable moments of our history together (see this post for another.)

Here's to zillions more..............

Saturday, April 04, 2009

More Proof Of An Addled Brain (Another Duh Moment)

I got a request the other day (yay, me!) for a partial of my manuscript, Lights! Camera! Love! Sent it off promptly on...oh, Wednesday, I guess.

So this afternoon, I peek in the mailbox and see an envelope with my handwriting, and instantly I cross my fingers that it's one I've been waiting for from Women's World. I check the return address and instead I see the literary agency's name--the one I just sent the partial to.

Wow, I think. Quick turnaround. Must be a rejection.

I look inside and find nothing. Nada. Zippo.

Hm, I think. Now what do I do? Email her and ask what the answer was?

Then I notice something else on the face of the envelope. In the lower right-hand corner, it says: Received unsealed without content at Oxnard blah, blah, blah...


That's when I realize that instead of enclosing the self-addressed stamped envelope with my submission, I friggin' must've MAILED it. To myself. Because I'm pretty sure the literary agent didn't send me a blank.

The only consolation is that the aforementioned message is STAMPED on the envelope--indicating this is a common occurrence. Which kinda makes me wonder...what're all you folks doing sending unsealed empty envelopes for??

A Sure Sign That I'm Older Than I Think

Setting: My driveway

Time: About 11:30p.m. on a Friday night

I see my neighbors standing by their car, and I greet them.

Guy Neighbor: You just getting home?

Me: Yep. What are y'all up to?

Guy Neighbor: We're just going out. Funny, huh? You're already home, and we're just going out.

Yeah, funny. I slink off to change into robe and bunny slippers, then slather on the anti-aging cream.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No More Change, Mr. President


I've had it up to here with change.

I mean, come on. First of all, The Guiding Light? Seriously? After shining brightly since 1952 (and even earlier on radio)? Oh, I see the writing on the wall. The rest of them aren't long for this world either. The Young and The Restless...All My Children. Soon, our afternoon soaps will go the way of...


I mean it, Mr. President. Please don't let them take away my newspaper. It's already a pathetic version of it former robust self, but geez....so much tradition there. From the stereotypical reporter who spends his off-hours knocking back shots at the bar down the street to the Sunday edition spread out over the breakfast table. Have you ever tried to spread your computer on the breakfast table? Trust me. Doesn't work.

Last month, I lost a whole slate of radio shows when KLSX went Top 40, but I'm tellin' ya, Barak (can I call you Barak?), if KLOS ditches Mark and Brian in favor of some pre-recorded c-rap (get it?--it's a play on crap and rap--sometimes, I crack myself up), anyway, I'll have to throw away my transistor radio.

I want you to know, Mr. Obama, I don't blame you or the economy. I mean, okay. Sure. Unlimited financial support would help, but all the money in the world's not gonna make up for the people I really blame.

Yep, I'm talking about the youth of today.

If I can paraphrase the immortal words of that well-known philosopher, Linda Ronstadt, who said: "When I got older, I realized that my generation committed a horrible crime against our parents. We literally filled the airwaves with rock 'n' roll, and STOLE their music from them."

You hooligans with your iPods, your Myspace, and your texting. Quit hi-jacking the culture and leave my entertainment alone.