Drew Carey’s New Show Reunites Whose Line is it Anyway? Cast

22 Jun

Holy songs of the plumber, Batman! Drew Carey is back on the air with all of his improv buddies. Last November, the Game Show Network (GSN) struck a deal with Carey to create and host an unscripted comedy sketch show. Forty episodes of Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza were ordered and began filming in early 2011 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The show is co-executive produced by Revolution Studios’ creator Joe Roth and Drew Carey with producer credit for Ryan Stiles among others.

If you’re like me and you’ve shaken your fist at the suits who canceled Whose Line is it Anyway? in 2003, relax. Every weeknight at 8:30pm and 11:30pm you can catch the rotating team of Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, Jeff Davis, Kathy Kinney, Jonathan Mangum, and Heather Anne Campbell sing, dance, and one-liner their way through half-hour episodes.  Special guests will appear from time to time. Thus far, fellow former Whose Line is it Anyway? Cast member Wayne Brady has joined in the fun for five episodes.

The show consists of several games which vary with each episode. Audience participation is extremely important for ideas on what and who the players act out as well as their physical positions. Games include:

Two-Headed Expert – a duo acts as an expert in a field and must speak the same words at the same time when responding to the other duo who ask questions by each speaking one word in alteration.

Sound Effects – Two audience members are brought up on stage to supply sound effects for the actors based on what they do.

Mousetraps – Actors attempt to play out a scene blindfolded and barefoot while making their way back and forth on a mousetrap infested stage.

Taped in front of a live, paying audience where food and alcohol are sold, things can get a bit weird. One episode included a woman who was picked by Mochrie to physically move Stiles throughout a scene for Moving Bodies, announced she was drunk once up on stage. Her inebriated state caused much head-scratching and a few laughs for the cast and audience.

If you’d like to attend a taping of Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza, the next show dates are June 23, 24, and 25, 2011. Tickets are $89.00 and can be purchased thru the MGM Grand’s website. Keep an eye out for more upcoming live performances.

Check the links below for my other freelance work as a photographer and writer.

Autograph Books Missing from Store Shelves

15 May

Two days ago I decided I wanted to buy an autograph book for my friend’s 3- year old daughter to bring to Sea World San Antonio. Even though Shamu, the fun-loving dolphins, and lorikeets can’t sign their names, the Sesame Street characters that just moved into the theme park, can. I envisioned the miniature version of Figgy (that’s just one of my friend’s nicknames) asking Cookie Monster to sign her book and him trying to eat it. Oh, how silly that blue googly-eyed monster can be.

Yesterday I set out to buy the autograph book. Thinking back to where I’ve seen them before and where my first one came from as a kid, I drove 3 minutes to the local Hallmark shop. Photo albums, address books, journals, thank you notes, and invitations lined the shelves. Uh, where are the autograph books?  Two employees confirmed they don’t carry them. Crikey.

The rest of my day was spent searching websites and/or making phone calls to Paper Source, The Paper Store, Target, Toys ‘R Us, iParty, Amazon, and eBay. When Amazon doesn’t carry something, you know it’s going to be impossible to find. Sure, sure, there are autograph books on eBay but I need it in my wide little hands within a certain number of days and can’t wait for an auction to end and my purchase to arrive. Buy it Now is an option but the books I saw weren’t any great deal.

I took to the streets again, this time visiting Barnes & Noble, a dollar-type store, and Office Max. Heck I even tried Wal-Mart, the one chain I despise. My final attempt, the one stop I knew in my heart would not fail me, The Disney Store, stopped carrying autograph books. What?! Yeah. Disney wants you to buy them online or in the parks. They’re putting a serious cramp into gift packages parents and “aunties” like me put together for little ones. Feh!

I am left empty-handed, except for a coupon for free shipping for Disney’s website from a very nice and understanding employee of managerial level.

I guess nowadays when folks think of autograph books they relate them to Disney characters which is kind of cool. I have 3 Disney ones myself; one for Disneyland, one for Walt Disney World, and one for Cast Members, particularly Citizens of Hollywood.

Then there’s the book I’ve had since I was a kid with cute little animal drawings on it that contains signatures from famous people. Whenever we visited California I brought it along in case I lucked out and ran into celebrities, and I did. Hey, why is my Telly Savalas autograph torn out? Maaaaaaaa! My book was handed to actors from musical productions that came to town like Godspell and Pirates of Penzance. It also served as a substitute for a school yearbook that my teachers signed as well as a few Disney characters.

It’s just such a shame that something so simple to produce and carry around is missing from our lives. Perhaps when I get to Sea World I’ll discover that Big Bird has some autograph books for sale, left over from Mr. Hooper’s Store.

Ricky Martin Left Speechless

22 Apr
 Uncasville, CT – Ricky Martin left his fans wanting more after his April 28, 2007 performance at the Mohegan Sun Arena. On April 17, 2011, more is exactly what they got; more music spanning his 20-year solo career, more soul stemming from his inner peace and self-love, and more sex(iness) than he’s ever shown onstage. The tour, M.A.S. for his latest CD Musica + Alma + Sexo (Music + Soul + Sex) will travel to Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and California before heading to Mexico and Europe.

Dressed in black leather pants, jacket, and boots, Martin kicked off the show with “Too Late Now,” a bonus track on Target’s exclusive 2-disc set. He took long-time fans back to his self-titled debut solo album with the track, Dime que Me Quieres (Tell Me that You Love Me). From his 2005 English album Life, “It’s Alright,” Martin supported himself from a secured bar above his head, in the center square of a towering 9-block set, and thrust his pelvis up into the air. “Que Dia es Hoy,” a cover of Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” surprised as Ricky Martin has not sung his 1993 hit in quite some time.

Accompanied by piano and trumpet, Martin delivered his greatest romantic ballad, Vuelve (Come Back) in calf-high fog and bathed in blue lighting. After he finished the bridge with the entire audience singing along, a second of silence erupted into screams and wild applause. Martin, as in all previous shows, normally picks up the song. However, the intense showering of love put a huge smile on his man-child face, caused him to laugh in appreciation, shake his head in modesty, pound his fist over his heart, and leave him speechless for a full minute. Martin only managed to utter “Wow” and “Unbelievable” before he finished the song.

The next 5-song set was done cabaret style. He began with “Living la Vida Loca”. The female dancers fought over Martin and surrounded him on silver chairs during “She Bangs.” Next up from his 2nd English album, Sound Loaded were “Shake Your Bon Bon,” and “Loaded.” Sitting center-stage, the words of “Basta Ya” (Enough Already) from Musica + Alma Sexo filled the air.

The mega-hit “Maria” (original version) consisted of Martin and a female flamenco dancer pursuing one another. “Tu Recuerdo” off the MTV Unplugged album and DVD followed. A medley of 1990’s amazing ballads “Fuego Contra Fuego,” “El Amor de Mi Vida,” and “Te Extraño, Te Olvido, Te Amo” delighted. Martin unleashed an adult presentation of “Frio” complete with whips and dominatrix only to be outdone by a rather touchy feely session with and male and female dancers to “I Am.”

The party music resumed and the energy level rose as Martin broke out his new single “Mas” (More) which will be released in English later this year. The dancing continued in the arena to “Lola Lola,” “La Bomba,” “Pegate” (Come Closer) and ended with a carnival-like interpretation of “La Copa de la Vida/The Cup of Life.” Between songs Martin honorably invited the nationality-mixed audience to vacation in Puerto Rico, his place of birth. The Department of Economic Development and Commerce is collaborating with Martin to boost tourism.

Ricky Martin, unlike artists who lip sync or sing over their own vocals to compensate for running out of breath while dancing, is completely live. The band and backup singers Jackie Mendez and Carlos David Perez (Perez has performed with Martin since 1999) are who you hear when Martin isn’t singing. This tour delivers new and improved dance moves and his continued vow to leave his soul onstage.

The one encore started with “The Best Thing about Me is You” and finished in the Spanish version, “Lo Mejor de Mi Vida Eres Tu” during which Martin sported a white v-neck T-shirt that read You = Me and Tu = Yo. Using the stage as his platform, he asked for equality for all mankind. Martin has always used his high profile status to promote world peace, leadership, tolerance, and child welfare.

Ricky Martin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ricky_martin

Ricky Martin Foundation: http://rickymartinfoundation.org/

M.A.S. Tour dates: http://rickymartinmusic.com/Events

Lavatories of Las Vegas

14 Apr

After stuffing yourself to the gills at the buffet, you’ll be on the lookout for a friendly sign. Wandering around, stopping in gift shop after gift shop, there’s just one place you need to visit. Call it the bathroom, restroom, ladies’ room, men’s room or even the loo. Heck, you can scream “Potty” for all anyone cares because we’re all looking for it.

During a recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada I put my tush to work and tested out a plethora of lavatories both on and off the Las Vegas Strip. My spreadsheet in-hand, I noted important facts such as location, number of stalls in the women’s room (didn’t think surprise visits to the gents’ would go over well), toilet paper quality, and overall functionality. No report is complete without photographs so there are a few of those included.

In regards to the review categories, Functionality is comprised of several matters; number of stalls in relation to location (near restaurants and bars, gambling, theaters, etc…), easy to find, doors that close and lock properly, lighting, and upkeep. Cleanliness refers to finding toilet paper and paper towels on the floor, dust, graffiti, rust, and other icky things. 

The scale ranges from 1 to 5.

 1 = terrible,  2 = fair,  3 = average,  4 = great,  5 = top notch

Venue: MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
Address:3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Restroom Location: In casino near Grand & Company gift shop and lobby
Number of Stalls: More than 12
Number of Sinks: More than 12
Music/Audio: Music from casino
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 3
Toilet Paper: 1-ply
Color Palette: Soft neutrals
Functionality: 4

Plop your bottom down in luxury at Trump. The nicest and most private of resort restrooms.

Venue: Trump International Hotel Las Vegas
Address: 2000 N Fashion Show Dr.
Restroom Location: Lobby, beside the gift shop
Number of Stalls: 6
Number of Sinks: 3
Music/Audio: Soft music
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 5
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Black, white, and gold
Functionality: 5 

 

 

 

 

Venue: The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino
Address:3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Restroom Location: Beside Venetian Showroom
Number of Stalls: More than 12
Number of Sinks: More than 6
Music/Audio: Music without lyrics
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 4
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Dark woods and cherry
Functionality: 5

Venue: Everything Coca-Cola
Address: 3785 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Restroom Location: Second floor, down the hall from soda fountain
Number of Stalls: 3
Number of Sinks: 3
Music/Audio: None
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 3
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Gray and white
Functionality: 2

Venue: Flamingo Las Vegas
Address: 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Restroom Location: Casino, beside X Showroom
Number of Stalls: More than 12
Number of Sinks: More than 12
Music/Audio: Music at a low volume
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 4
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Medium neutrals with bamboo-inspired doors
Functionality: 4

Ladies lounge is comfortable and big enough for a small bachelorette party.

Venue: Nordstrom
Address: Fashion Show Mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 710
Restroom Location: Third floor, inside Customer Service section
Number of Stalls: 5
Number of Sinks: 4
Music/Audio: None
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper Towels
Cleanliness: 5
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Neutral
Functionality: 5 includes lounge area

Venue: Caesars Palace
Address: 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Restroom Location: Near Lago Buffet
Number of Stalls: 5
Number of Sinks: 3
Music/Audio: None
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 4
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Neutral
Functionality: 1

The Golden Nugget Casino is one surprise after another including the restroom that makes Las Vegas Strip resort casinos look ghetto.

Venue: Golden Nugget Casino
Address: 129 Fremont St.
Restroom Location: Casino, across from Red Sushi
Number of Stalls: More than 12
Number of Sinks: More than 6
Music/Audio: None
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 4
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Browns, gold, and off-white
Functionality: 4

Swim near The Eiffel Tower, no one else is. This felt like a private restroom it was so deserted.

Venue: Paris Las Vegas
Address:3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Restroom Location: Poolside
Number of Stalls: 6
Number of Sinks: 3
Music/Audio: None
Paper Towels/Dryers: Paper towels
Cleanliness: 4
Toilet Paper: 2-ply
Color Palette: Earth tones
Functionality: 5 with a shower

I won’t even bother rating the ugliest and grossest restroom I entered.  The award for Most Ghetto Bathroom goes to the Sahara, which is closing next month. Upstairs by the meeting rooms sits a 3-stall, pink and gray tragedy.  A giant partially tiled pole wrapped in duct tape with a wad of bubble gum takes up a chunk of the center stall. I've seen better bathrooms at gas stations.

Interestingly, I don’t recall seeing baby changing stations anywhere except in Nordstrom.  This affirms that those who designed and built the resorts didn’t expect families to visit Sin City.

The Original Boy Band Fans

29 Mar

It was never a phase for us, despite what our parents may have thought. We always knew we would support our boys forever. Every single one of the boys too, all 32 of them. Thirty-six when you count the 4 who joined after the group’s name was shortened to MDO and the age requirements were dropped. Yes, we are Menudo fans, ayer y hoy.

Johnny Lozada and I prior to El Reencuentro's touring show in Orlando, FL.

The vast majority of us who happily own our Menuditis or Menudo Mania as it was declared by the American press have maintained friendships and/or reunited with other fans. Long before the internet connected people with similar interests, we found each other by reaching out via pen pal lists. Let’s say I wrote a letter to Yoli in Chino, CA. I would include a sheet of paper with my name, address, age, and who were my favorite group members. Yoli would add her information and mail that to another fan. This sheet would travel around the United States and often times to Mexico, parts of South America, and Caribbean islands before making it’s way back to me. When the list was returned to me, I had new pen pals to write.

Then there were a crazy amount of fan clubs and newsletters solely based in the U.S.A. I had one called Los Chicos de Menudo for a few years starting when I was 12 or 13 years old. Fan clubs were well respected by the guys in Menudo, their parents, and management. To this day, our boys who are now grown men recognize the girls who not just ran fan clubs but who also attended the parties and events. They see us at reunion concerts, CD and book signings, and the new worldwide fan parties. Even as grownups, us girls can’t get enough of them.

Ruben Gomez squeezes M. Christine Preciado, a Floridian, in an affectionate display of appreciation.

 

Former members of Menudo and the fans are connected now more than ever. As adults we are able to put our talent, knowledge, and education to work for the exes. I have a friend who has written press releases for several guys and another friend who was on payroll and ran the official fan club for another. A great number of fans are now journalists and Spanish teachers. I as a photographer, have photographed 20 out of 36 of the guys and am published internationally. Many girls or women as our age now defines us, count former Menudo members as close personal friends. I’m included in that wonderful equation. Talk about una aventura llamada Menudo, a few ladies managed to snag ex-Menudos as husbands. Johnny Lozada’s wife Sandy was a big fan of Ricky Melendez, whose wife Muñeca favored Johnny. 

Rita Joy Egan of New York pictured with (left to right) Ricky Martin, Raymond Acevedo, Robby “Draco” Rosa, Charlie Masso, and Sergio Blass formerly Gonzalez.

The group recorded albums in Spanish, English, Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, and Tagalog. A huge benefit of having friends in various countries was having them buy foreign releases and shipping them to the United States. Websites like eBay, Gemm, and Amazon have made tracking down rarities easier, even 20-something years later. The goal hasn’t changed, collect every recording ever made. Organized fans have spreadsheets listing what albums they own, the format, and country of origin. Album cover images are also important as they changed according to the group’s lineup and release location. Why go to all this trouble? Because we need mas, mucho mas.

As a whole, Menudo fans have broken world records. El Salvador ceased fighting when the group played Estadio Cuzcatlan with newspapers reporting that Menudo stopped the war. A new record in ticket sales was established at Radio City Music Hall. 250,000 fans in Argentina filled the streets to see Ricky Martin in action a few short years into his solo career. El Reencuentro’s (the reunion of 6 members) initial concert series in Puerto Rico broke records with 6 sold-out concerts in 2 weekends. The plan was for only 1 concert but the response was so enormous that they toured and still perform together 13 years after the initial regrouping.

Jose Luis "Joselo" Vega, the group's choreographer has a place in every fan's heart. Pictured with Sheila J. Clark of Kentucky.

The sad truth is that many of us were teased and tormented solely for our music preference. A high school classmate of mine told me after graduation that she was also a Menudo fan but feared telling anyone because off all the crap the kids gave me. I’ve never understood why the singers who make me happy would be fodder for someone else. Frankly, we don’t care what you think because Nefty, Fernando, Carlos, Oscar, Ricky Melendez, Rene, Johnny, Xavier, Miguel, Charlie, Ray, Roy, Robby, Ricky Martin, Raymond, Sergio, Ruben, Ralphy, Angelo, Robert, Rawy, Cesar, Adrian, Jonathan, Edward, Alex, Andres, Abel, Ashley, Ricky Lopez, Didier, Anthony, Daniel, Pablo, Troy, and Caleb will forever be los ultimos heroes.

K.O.L.M.

Get it Free for Your Birthday

17 Mar

Who doesn’t love receiving birthday presents!  Not only do your friends and family want to celebrate your entrance into the world but companies do as well, in the name of good customer relations.  Sign up for e-newsletters and/or special offers and you can eat cake or smell like cake.

Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse – Join The Creek Club online  and receive a free Big Foot Chocolate Cookie dessert with purchase of an entrée. The e-mailed coupon is valid for 3 weeks.

California Pizza Kitchen – Free dessert with purchase when you tell the server it’s your birthday.

Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, CT – Play one free bingo game on a  Tuesday during the month of your birthday.  Click on a month to view the calendar. You must have a valid government issued ID and be 18 years of age or older.

Sephora – Philosophy Vanilla Birthday Cake Shower Gel for ladies and a Jack Black product for men. This exclusive offer is only redeemable two weeks before or after your birthday, in store or with an online purchase. Enter your e-mail address at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Dunkin Donuts – Free medium coffee, latte, tea, Coolatta® or hot chocolate for your birthday.  Just sign up for DD Perks and they’ll send you a coupon.

  

Baskin Robbins – FREE 2.5 oz scoop of ice cream or a swirl of soft serve. E-mail coupon good for 11 days. Enlist in the Birthday Club.  

Ruby Tuesday – Free burger and fries for the birthday boy or girl. A coupon will be e-mailed to you and is valid for 14 days. No purchase required.

Local Restaurants

Massachusetts
The Chateau – With the purchase of one entree, receive a free birthday dinner entree. Not available for delivery or take-out. Sign up for The Chateau’s mailing list and be sure to include your birth date. 

Texas & New Mexico
Cotton Patch Café Free cobbler with purchase of any entrée. The coupon is valid for 14 days. Join the E-Club.

Discounts

AMC Entertainment – MovieWatcher Club members get an e-coupon good for a free large soft drink. The coupon is good for 31 days. AMC is currently reworking their reward program. Check their website for info.

Hot Topic – HT+1 members receive a coupon for $5 off a $30 purchase. The coupon is good for 30 days from date of issue. It can be used in-store or online.  Join HT+1 online or at your local store for free.

Sanrio – Receive a $5.00 coupon to shop online.  Good for 30 days. No minimum purchase required.  Sanrio created Hello Kitty and friends.

Warner Bros. – WB Insider Rewards members save 20% at www.WBShop.com the month of their birthday.

Do you know of other eateries and businesses who offer birthday goodies? Please leave the info and a link in the comment box below. Thanks and Happy Birthday!

Learning from Television Wedding Shows

9 Mar

Television shows regarding weddings, and every little thing the bride and groom deal with play non-stop. Nearly every women I know watches at least one series regularly. We TV has lead the way on matrimonial entertainment for quite some time now. The list of series on We TV consists of no less than six wedding themes: Rich Bride, Poor Bride, Girl Meets Gown, My Fair Wedding, Amazing Wedding Cakes, Platinum Weddings, Bridezillas, and a separate line of wedding specials. Following along is the Style Network with their own additions, Whose Wedding is it Anyway? (a slight title diversion from Whose Line is it Anyway?) along with several A Martha Stewart Wedding Special(s), and Fat Free Fiancés.  TLC hosts Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress.  Oxygen airs Tori & Dean: sTORIbook Weddings, the CW Network offers Shedding for the Wedding, and E! Entertainment Television treacherously hosts Bridal Plasty.


The groom is planning a secret wedding while his bride is duped into thinking she’s on a different show.  Whose Wedding is it Anyway? indeed!

Personally, I watch We TV episodes the most. Yes, it’s true, wedding shows are my new obsession. However, if you think about it, these shows are doing us ladies a favor. Hour after hour of watching fiancés argue over seating arrangements reminds the rest of us that it’s very easy to get swept up in the stress of planning your own wedding. Then again, the shows with wedding planners spell out that for a few more thousand dollars they’ll take much of the burden off your shoulders.


Want to take home what you see, pick up a copy of the show’s book.

For instance, by tuning into Bridezillas, we ladies know exactly how not to behave. Mind you, most of us would never even consider throwing a temper tantrum and/or cake in a bakery let alone in front of a camera crew. Take in a few episodes of Rich Bride, Poor Bride which follows couples as they pick and choose everything traditional from gowns to venues and then turn the corner seeking out absurd and over the top additions like security guards and horses.  Anyone with common sense knows where to draw the line on spending and how breaking the budget causes friction between newlyweds and their families.

The greatest score a bride can garner is being selected for My Fair Wedding with David Tutera. Pass the control over to Tutera, a New York based wedding planner with endless vendors spilling out from his fashion label sleeves and you could go from a backyard pot luck to a catered castle ballroom, all expenses paid. Future brides learn what qualifies as tacky and how to transform your theme into something elegant without losing the fun factor. Viewers also come away reassured that fake flowers, candy bouquets, and wearing a borrowed wedding gown just to appease someone else is out of the question.

All that said, we brides-in-waiting now have a clearer picture of what we want for ourselves. I could share my list with you but that will only lead to on-going hypothetical discussions with my parents. Why worry them now, I need the groom first and I’m not going on a reality show to find him.

An Ode to the Crew at Ritz Camera Store 927 Part Two

25 Feb
The King of Frosting and His Court
  
Hector replaced Heather as the store manager. A smiley, joking, and dorky guy, he was the exact opposite of his predecessor. During his reign he hired 4 of his friends, a fact he didn’t hide from us all that great. Tito, who was picking up hours in addition to his full-time job in promotions at a radio station. One night in October, Tito got us all into Knott’s Scary Farm for free. It wasn’t my cup of tea but hanging with my crew was, so I went. Sharlene, the baking legend we all begged to make us birthday cakes who turned the photo lab into a hangout. My Brady Bunch singing partner, Virginia, came in to work in the lab as well. Always cheerful and playful, Virginia kept us laughing. At this point, only girls worked in the lab. Last but not least, the resident teenager with whom I salsa danced when things were slow, Rigo. Surrounded by female co-workers, Rigo was treated like a little brother. As for Hector and frosting, most of that is my fault. Somewhere along the lines it became a tradition to smush birthday cake and cupcake frosting into his face. Fine! 99% of the time I was the one who got him but everyone should have traditions.
 
 
  
  
 
 
 

 

Rigo, as a teen boy band member and the other Lisa as his giddy fan.

The Questionable Action Types

We went through 3 young girls who at one time or another made us all wonder if they were smoking funny cigarettes and/or using other behavioral-changing substances. One of them came to work in her pajama pants, a hoodie, and slippers. After telling her to go home and change and she refused, I called the store manager who after their private conversation, fired her.  The other 2 still worked there when I left, I think.

The Big Brother

For not long enough, Tina’s older brother Ben worked with us.  When customers refrained from dealing with a female sales person and would only talk to Ben, he’d come to us and ask questions even though he knew the answers. The premise was to teach people not to be biased.  He was the male protector of the girls at work and we adored him.

The Best Manager Ever

After my run as a store manager, I went back to 927 for several months as a salesperson. After Hector went back to school full-time, we had another male manager who was fired. Then came Katrina, the best store manager Ritz ever hired. She was fun, easy to get along with, respectable, knew what she was doing, and was your boss at work and friend off the clock. She was so cool and we got along so well that when I visited, I sat in on store meetings and she hung up all of my postcards in the lab.

 

Katrina, in her pirate wench outfit at the other Lisa’s wedding along with Kalil who was hired after I left.

The Dancing District Manager

Every retail store has a DM who’s the ringmaster of their circus. Ours was Patrick, a goofy, anti-Halloween, under appreciated, fellow with an aching heart over problems at home. While Patrick never told us what he was going through, we could see it in his face and felt badly for him. He let loose at a holiday party, hopped up on a table wearing a Goofy hat and started dancing. Believe it or not, the man was 100% sober which made it all the funnier.

Virgina trying to keep her composure on a swinging ferris wheel car at Disney’s CA Adventure.

My birthday party at Bucca di Beppo. L to R: buzzed waiter, Julie, Hector, Tina, and Sharlene.

To the best of my team at 927, I miss you all. No other group of co-workers has ever come close to being as supportive of one another and as close as we were. I hope one day we can once again party in the Pope Room, frost Hector, run around Disneyland, salsa dance, play soccer, and brainstorm Scattergories. Until then…

An Ode to the Crew at Ritz Camera Store 927 Part One

18 Feb

Tradition!

I was spoiled by working with the greatest ensemble of co-workers in Brea, California.  It didn’t happen all at once though. A few bad people had to leaveand new fantastic ones had to join in order for everything to line-up just right.  Once we had the perfect team, running the store was ridiculously simple.

The Trio
Two other people were hired along with me. Tina, who worked in the lab and eventually became my Lab Manager when I ran my own store as well as my roommate and David, who ran around the sales floor making up whoppers about anything he could. After he left I encountered customers who’d been told fairy tales by the boy. Cleaning up after someone like that is far from enjoyable.

Working in a mall meant seeing tons of promotions which meant lots of photo ops. That’s yours truly under the trophy and a not-so-surprised Tina.

The Originals
When I joined Ritz Camera, the store had 2 top sales people with many years under their belts. Tim, who also worked in the photo lab and Martha who was a bit of a sales shark. Both of them were involved in my training. One by one Martha and Tim transferred to different stores that were closer to their homes and at some point wound up working together again.

The Good vs. Evil Manager
My hiring manager trained us to do our jobs extremely well. She did such a good job that we didn’t need her and proved ourselves when we, as a team, ran the store for several months without a manager. Heather was promoted to district manager and it took a while for her replacement to be hired. What we discovered once she left was that she had talked about each of us behind our backs in an attempt to create distrust and drama. It almost worked but we were close enough to talk to one another, slowly discovering the nonexistent tension.

The Photo Lab Maven
Honestly, I can’t recall if there was a lab manager before Julie. There had to have been but who it was escapes me. Julie was stolen from another store by Heather to make our lab run efficiently and kept clean. Julie was our party hostess and would have us all over her house for evenings of food, drink, and the game Scattergories to which I am now addicted. At work or at play, the bunch of us were inseparable.

The other Lisa at Disney’s California Adventure, our hangout.

The Other Lisa
Some time before Heather’s promotion she hired her best friend, Lisa. That meant there were two Lisas under one roof and with that we became Lisa 1 and Lisa 2 and the original Lisa and the other Lisa. As you know, my last name begins with a “B” and hers started with an “S”. I came up with our superhero identity. When you put us together, we are Lisa BS. It’s still funny to this day. Whenever we were foolishly scheduled to close together, our evil plans fell into place. Before the mid-shift employee left, one of us would dash off to the food court and come back with 2 large sodas (75 cents each at Cinnabon) and a bag of day old cookies ($4.95 at Mrs. Field’s). Our sugar high was topped with playing Elvis’ Devil in Disguise and dancing around in the photo lab which had a large glass window looking into the mall. Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley

To be continued.

Parody of West African Bank Scams

9 Feb

I have received countless “business opportunities” from West Africans wanting me to fall for their ridiculous monetary transfer scams. Sure, that’s not what they write but it’s what they want. Their terrible grammar and spelling is enough to send an eighth grader into fits of laughter and the hapless rhetoric embarrasses other con artists.

Wouldn’t these randomly received proposals be more exciting if they came from fictional characters we’re actually familiar with? Yes, yes they would. Before we get to the fun stuff, be advised that if you do receive such crazy letters from Nigeria, Burkina Faso or Indonesia (they’ve caught on) do the following: report the e-mail to government agencies  http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams and/or http://www.us-cert.gov/nav/report_phishing.html, block the sender, and delete the letter.

Remember, these are parodies. Consider them fan fiction. I wonder how long it’ll take for these to circulate. Just link back to my blog, please. I could use the freelance work.

From the Desk of Lex Luthor
President and CEO of LexCorp,
Metropolis Mercantile Bank
Metropolis, New York (United States)
Remittance of $8,000,000

TOP SECRET

This letter may surprise you, but I am urgently seeking a business partner. I am the President and CEO of LexCorp and President of Metropolis Mercantile Bank in the United States as well as a real estate developer.

I have the remaining fortune of a deceased client whose entire family was wiped out in an earthquake, tied up in various accounts and am able to transfer a share of the remaining $8,000,000 to a foreign business partner.

Thusly, I am offering you a business deal where this money can be shared between us in the ratio of 80/20 provided that your 20% be invested in my real estate properties. This offer will improve your social status from commoner to wealthy commoner.

Your payment will be made by Metropolis Mercantile Bank and then submitted to LexCorp. Paperwork will be drawn after I hear back from you.

You’ll need to reply to this urgent matter promptly or you will lose out on everything. Reply with the following information: Name, address, birth date, social security number, occupation, IQ, and your opinion of Superman.

Brilliantly Yours,
Lex Luthor

——————————————————————————————–
 

 

I am Jafar, Grand Vizier to the Sultan of Agrabah, whose daughter, Princess Jasmine is the heir apparent to the throne.

You, my good man or woman, are being contacted due to the present situation in Agrabah. A special panel has been set up by Whole New World Administration, spearheaded by Aladdin, a street rat who was jailed by the Sultan for stealing food.  An anti-theft bill recently passed to recover all looted fruits and vegetables secretly stored by Aladdin and his cohort, Abu.

The Sultan’s men have successfully recovered 8 apples, 13 oranges, a bag of peanuts, 3 bunches of both ripe and not yet ripe bananas, and 1 coconut. Word has it that Aladdin also has a stash of jewels and gold coins hidden away in the Cave of Wonders, the value of which exceeds millions of US dollars.

I am consulting you on behalf of my client, Genie, who demands me to find a trustworthy foreign partner, who could help us immediately with collecting the treasure which Aladdin stole from the good people. All you have to do to share in these riches is enter the Cave of Wonders. The laws of Agrabah stipulate that stolen goods not returned within 60 days become property of the Sultan.  As dedicated as I am to him, I cannot support his absurd spending on his tiger. Genie will take 50% of the fortune, I will take 30% and you will take 20%. In the light of above, I am soliciting your assistance and partnership to move this treasure out of Agrabah as we can make a large profit.

Contact me immediately, only, if you are able and interested in assisting us. Be sure to keep this hush-hush as we wouldn’t want to lose our heads. Trust me. You will get what’s coming to you.

Royally Annoyed,
Jafar