Sunday, November 29, 2009

Now and Then

Thanksgiving at the Skilling household


Jeff: Mom! Dad! I hope you don't mind, but I had to park the helicopter on your back deck. You know I wouldn't miss Mom's pie for the world. Can't stay long though, I have to look at an island I'm thinking of purchasing, and then there's the Harvard Alumni night later this week. Hey, there Tommy! (snicker) Still going to that loser liberal school with your weather geeks? Tell me, is it going to be too windy to take off tomorrow morning? Looks like your hair is starting to blow off, har!

Tom: Not funny, Jeffie.

Jeff: Oooh. Somebody is feeling stormy. Thanks, Mom. These potatoes are great. MMM. Hey, did you see that? That sedan. The black one, it went by twice. No, they are not looking for a house. They are looking for me. I know it. It's the FBI. They're following me.

Tom: You wish you were that important.

Jeff: Shut up Tom. Isn't there a hail storm you should be out in? Call me when you're the CEO of weather.


Tom: Hey, Jeff. Good to see you. Bet there's quite a feast planned for tonight. Maybe they'll use the good tin. I would have brought you some pie but that big guard with the glass eye took it first. Got any boyfriends yet?

Jeff: Shut up, dweeb.

Tom: Hey, I predict tomorrow in the yard will be partly cloudy with a sixty percent of shanking. Bwha ha ha!

Dear Macy's

In an earlier post, I pointed out the fact that I could easily have decorated State Street store windows in a more entertaining and original fashion. Allow me to elaborate: I'd do a Home for the Holidays theme. Each window would encapsulate a horrible moment of family togetherness. I'd call up Augustin Burroughs and David Sedaris for help. There could be little windows of telling your family you're gay, drunk uncles and inappropriate aunts. The last one will be me not getting a Lite Brite for Christmas... again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some Fear

...Because if you don't have some fear, you're not driving fast enough.

Check out Jalopnik's:

Top Ten Cars That Scare The Crap Outa Us

Going Postal

Not just the name of one of my favorite books of all time, it's how I feel every time I have the misfortune to use the United States Postal Service.

As you may recall...

I have had nothing but arguments with these people. It took forever to get an insured eBay product reimbursement when a Greek vase arrived in twenty thousand little pieces. "The Postmaster has to sign off on it," I was told. If I didn't suspect that they just accumulated junk in a store room for months until the Grand Poobah of Post signs off on it without ever inspecting anything, I'd have put a rattlesnake in a box and claim the rattle was defective and I wanted my money back from Viper Specialties, Inc. When I did get my refund (which included securing a signature and affidavit from the shipper) it was slightly less than I paid for the item and I vowed never to buy anything fragile on eBay again.

Then there was the big fat lady who drove up my driveway to hand me my poster from and was too lazy to get up and actually take the item out of her box of mail - causing the poster to be all squishy and wrinkled. To their credit, sent me a new one right away - in the same soft mailer - but this one was fine as it was shipped Fed Ex. Hmmm.

Don't get me started on the whole passport fiasco. I still don't have a passport due to those idiots. My photo was rejected as 'not having a white background'. Great. Fifty thousand Government workers who don't give a shit and I get the only old bitty that can actually identify Ecru.

All I wanted to do was share a good book. Is that too much to ask? Wrapped my book up and wanted to send it off to Texas. Simple, right? Noooooo.

Walk up to the window (There's always a line. How can this joint be crying poverty? They aren't spending it on friendly, fast, and efficient staff, that's for sure.) and present my package. Neatly wrapped in brown paper. Legibly addressed. Cute stickers adorning the corners.

"I can't accept that," says the cranky Gestampo agent, sliding a pink finger under the paper edge and pulling at the still-secure Scotch Tape that holds fast. "It has Scotch Tape. You need Packing Tape. This might come off in transit."

What? Your failure to use due diligence is suddenly my burden to make the package indestructible? Are you nuts?

"Um... Don't you have any I could use?" I stammer, looking over her left shoulder at a huge tape dispenser bulging with tape.

"No. You can purchase some over there." She points to a kiosk of mailers and envelopes.

For $3.99 an inch? I think not. I storm out. I hope the security cameras got that. My hair looks much better today than the day I stormed out over the passport.

In the parking lot, I do the only sensible thing. I call someone who works for the Post Office. I explain to her that I was rejected on grounds of skimpy tape. I assure her it was name brand tape from the 3M company. Although sympathetic, she can't really help. She's not at work and has no tape in her car. But she does agree they do have it on the premises and should have given me a tiny bit. She suggests I go to the store next door and buy the tape. Certainly a solution, I concede. But I have tons at home, and I would have used it if I thought it was needed.

I describe the Gestampo Agent as best I can. "Do you know which car is hers?" I ask. "Because if anything is getting sealed tight with that packing tape, it's the doors of her car."

Maxximum Ride: The Credit Experiment


I haven't even worn my new down coat (thank goodness it's been way too warm) and here's a bill in the mail already detailing all those purchases at TJ Maxx. Maxximum Revenue Stream, I'd say. Barely got to wear the two new sweaters and here's a big fat bill. Sheesh. Can't I be in denial a little longer? With Thanksgiving approaching, I'm spending too much at the grocery store. Can't even contemplate what Lofty amounts I owe a certain other company. Think I'll buy a Lotto ticket tomorrow.

*(where's the interrobang when you need one?)

Dear Macys

I saw your idea of a window display at the formerly beautiful and iconic Marshall Field's flagship store in downtown Chicago. It sucks. Again.
Letters to Santa? Uh, what kid isn't texting his list in? Or a least putting some snarky comments about the fat man on Twitter? Most kids today would be miffed if Santa didn't friend them on facebook, not sit down and put a stamp on snail mail. It was supposed to be retro? Vintage? Well, you failed miserably. Should have done a theme of Christmas in the Dustbowl circa 1929, if you were looking for relevance.

I could do better with a bag of pipe cleaners and recalcitrant lizard.

Oh, wait. I have.

Hell Hath No Fury

Well it took me exactly a year, but I think I've finally gotten even with JC Pennypinchers. As you may recall, I have had issues with the company over the minuscule amount of merchandise that qualifies for their coupons. But this has to be one of my 'most redeeming' stories ever....

A friend at work noted she received a JCP coupon for $10 off anything $10 or more. What? Where was my coupon? Grrr.

About three days later, my coupon(s) arrived. One was in my name, one in Al's. I had forgotten that Al had a credit card from them many years ago, and most likely this account was out there somewhere still. I took both and headed over to the nearest store, determined to optimize my savings.

First, I was shocked at how the store layout had changed since my last visit, some, well, month ago. The must have actually read my 'shoppers survey' about how they needed more petite sizes and I would spend more there. It was much larger and more prominently placed. There were tons of pants to choose from. Except for the fact they didn't have the colors I was seeking and I seemed to hover somewhere in the mist between sizes, I would have bought all kinds of dress pants. Even the jeans were a no-go.

Sighing, I decided I was going to work those coupons. I formulated a plan. First, I found a cute shirt with snowflakes on it for $9.99. Hmm. Bet they argue the penny. The didn't seem to sell gum, so I needed a second, cheap item of clothing. Aha! I nice white T-Shirt for the health club. I'll put a Corvette iron-on patch on it and be good to go. On clearance for $2.37.

Wait in the line (real theme with this store, too) and approach the register with Al's coupon. Girl rings me up and the grand total with tax is: $2.54. I say, "That's so low, let me give you cash." Heh, heh, heh. Can't trace that coupon back to me.

Fly out the door and throw the shirts in my trunk. Run back in. Find Isotoner mittens. Soooo soft and cuddly. And on sale! Approach register, hoping last sales clerk is now on break. Uh, oh. She's coming back to open a register again. Whew! Diverted to a young man on the end.

Hand over my coupon & charge card. $24 mittens after coupon and sale: $4.71 with tax. Whoo Hoo! I win, JCP, I WIN!!!!

I Came, I Saw, I Couponed

The Couponed Caped* Crusader is back to save the economy with a single income! In less than 30 days I've gone from prudent and responsible to the poor house. (Thank goodness I have that luxurious new down coat and snazzy cranberry snow boots to keep me warm as I winter living in a Corvette parked in an closed-for-the-season RV park somewhere...)

Did a day of shopping on Randall Road (motto: Didn't See that Economic Downturn Coming) and wondered why is there still so much traffic during a depression. I had a husband, a fistful of coupons and part of a Saturday to use up, so I best get to work. After wandering through some furniture stores with no inspiration, it was time to start using the coupons.

First up was the Ulta store - I had a frequent shopper coupon for a level one gift. Those are pretty paltry freebies, and I can't understand how I fail to earn the big free-miums, but whatever. I also had a $3.50 off your purchase coupon from the newspaper, not to mention their holiday promotion was going on: buy any fragrance of $30 or more and get free candle holders. Dazzled by the implications of free, I pushed Al towards the Men's Fragrance section and told him to pick something while I quizzed the sales clerk as to which coupons I could redeem. I found a cute little Halloween package of lip gloss on clearance for $1 and met Al up at the register with his $35 Polo selection.

I handed over the coupons and received a free package of cotton squares, two huge and heavy hurricane candle holders and checked out for $35.02. Yay me!!

Then it was over to DSW to spend the $10 off coupon. Spent hours trying on every shoe only to be disappointed the ones I wanted weren't in my size. Saw some nice summer shoes on clearance, but wasn't in a summer mood. Picked the fluffy cream-and-cranberry snow boots with a higher but very comfy heel for $25 after coupon and bought some $60 sneakers for Al. He has no concept of shoe shopping. First, he would have left without any, had I not offered to purchase them. Secondly, he only went with one pair, and his are so worn out, I wish he would have looked at some dress shoes for work as well. Sigh. Can't count on men to save the garment industry, that's for sure.

Over at the Loft, I really splurged on a Civil War type jacket I've been seeking forever, but the problem is, this one is white. I wanted navy blue. Would have settled for grey. But white? It looked too good to pass up, so I went for it. I'll figure something out. Al and I discussed my history with white garments, and agreed the coat had a lifespan of about two wearings ahead of it before being soiled forever by some strange food substance that would magically adhere when I wasn't looking. I decide if that happens, I'll just dye the jacket navy blue. Problem solved. Also bought a white blouse.

Unfortunately, I left more behind than I purchased. There's a Maria Von Trap jacket with my name on it - as soon as I can find some pants to go with it. The pants didn't come in "stumpy", er petite, so I took a pass. Hope they send me another coupon. Hmmm... only about a bazillion children's books have been written about outgrown, unloved, lost or forgotten toys awaiting a new child to love them. What about garments? Bet they sit there hoping to go to a big ball or something. Great idea! Note to self: Re-work story of Cinderella from the ball gown's POV. Get Vera Wang to sign on for promotional tie ins.

Went to Victoria's Secret and received my Free Cotton Panty. I have to give them credit, they hand you a fancy bag with your wrapped purchase and there's no obligation to do anything but stand in their insane lines to redeem the coupon. I want to open one of these franchises. I have yet to shop there and not wait in line for half an hour. What are they doing right? Their product is not cheap. Quality is good, advertising and image high, coupon promotions adequate. I wonder if they just have the same five hundred customers in front of me purchasing less in the recession? But wouldn't the lines move faster then?

Ended at the TJ Maxx where I would have Maxxed out my shiny new credit card from them, but apparently the employees want to go home at 9:30 p.m. On a Saturday night? Near Christmas? What kind of retailer is this? One that won't be in business long, that's for sure.

I have exactly 15 minutes to buy a down jacket. I find several excellent candidates and ask Al if the long puffy one makes me look too much like the Michelin Man. He assures me there's a reason you spend more for those tires, and if the coat gets the job done (keeping a reptilian like myself warm in a Midwest winter)who cares what it looks like? I do!!! I need to be stylish. Warm, yes, but could I look good too? Must be another unicorn like the fashionable shoe you can walk all day in. As they start shutting the lights off (pushy crew!) I grab the cream concoction with with the removable fur hood and head for the checkout. This too will have a short lifespan due to color, despite the tag claiming machine washable. I've had down coats before, in darker colors than this, and there's no getting out motor oil. My Acura is pretty new, so hopefully no poking at the motor will be needed. Hmmm. New battery might be on the horizon. Don't think about it. Just buy.

* a very fashionable cape. Think more Nanny 911 than Supergirl.

Am I the Only One?

...Who thinks that moments after Joe Perry
about Aerosmith replacing Steven Tyler
he was besiged by texts and tweets from
David Lee Roth looking for a job?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Am I The Only One?

Who thinks maybe the water (or curriculum) at Virgina Tech needs a little scrutiny?

I love how his "disturbing blog posts" have been cited as a warning sign. Nothing to see here, folks, keep moving. Just move along. That's it. Surf on over to Much better.

Authorities are trying to piece together the puzzle by interviewing aquaintences and rummaging through his belongings. Finding clues? Or planting them? Investigating? Or creating a backstory?


Horse of the Year!!


Forty Days and Forty Nights...

Well, maybe not that many, but for me it was a no-shop of Biblical proportions. Poor Al got stuck in a TJ Maxx for over two hours watching a shopaholic fall off the wagon with a thunderous bump.

I'm now the proud owner of a credit card from them, and I'm hoping they will start sending me some coupons. Left with two sweaters and pair of Capri pants. All all threw into the mix was a pair of socks. I asked him if he wanted anything else and he said he maybe needed more socks. Men.

Do I need to spell out it is OK to buy more than one of something? Per trip? Helloooo.... I can't count the times I've spent an hour and a half watching him try on shoes to buy only one pair. Maybe two. Then that's it. For the year. What's up with that?


Dear GetALife,

Your detailed November 4, 2009 Kohl's Charge statement for the account ending in xxxxxx is now available.

To access the statement, access Kohl's and click the "My Kohl's Charge" link at the top of the page.

A statement summary has been included for your convenience:

New Balance: $0.00
Minimum Due: $0.00
Due Date: December 1, 2009

In a related story, Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, commented that despite the chain being up 1.4% in October as a whole, he was very concerned about a few under-performing stores in the southern Wisconsin-northern Illinois area and has promised share holders he will 'get to the bottom' of this perplexing problem.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Drought Continues

Bringin' Shoppin' Back!!

Still haven't shopped, but I've been thinking about it. Makin' a list. Checkin' it twice... Gathering up the coupons.

DSW - $10 off any purchase $10 or more. Now to be effective, I'd have to find a pair of shoes $20 or less. But seeing as how I haven't bought any in... well... month... I might just go wild and have that only cover the sales tax.

Victoria's Secret - free panty. Worth driving fifty miles to the nearest store for "free"? You bet!

Might even check eBay for the Corvette again.