Benedict-Cumberbatch-khan-changedSo I actually wrote this last night but the combination of the family being out of town (at Disneyland, leaving me behind with the Damn Dog) and walking into the Labor Day weekend, I completely forgot what day I was on.

Now before I bring up a new villain, I figured it’d be best to do some updates. You may or may not recall but I started this little villain shit by participating the A to Z Blog Challenge in April 2012. Since then, a couple of our marvelous miscreants have been rebooted in major motion pictures and that means they deserve a second look.

Let’s start with Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness:

The last time we saw Khan Noonien Singh, he was the feathered-banged, vest-but-no-shirt Ricardo Montalban in all his fine Corinthian leathery goodness. He’d stolen a Federation starship, put worms in Chekov’s ear, and killed Spock. And then blew himself up. But he was awesome to the end. He even gave us poetry.

But that was 1982.

You know how Hollywood machine works: people run out of ideas, someone says “Hey, you know what we could do? We should remake shit! How about Star Trek!” and the magic happens. But can you blame them? It’s been 31 years, William Shatner refuses to lose any weight, and special effects have now progressed to ridiculous levels. So they find a couple writers and a popular director with a penchant for lens flares and writing the longest, most confusing, unresolved show in the history of television. Recipe for success, right?

But the reboot proves successful and that means sequel. Actually that means trilogy. You know they have to throw Khan into the mix now, right? There is a formula to these movies, these trilogies. Can you see it? Trilogies are just larger renditions of the three-act structure we all know. You introduce the hero in movie one, give them their greatest challenge in movie two, and then the third movie really pushes them into a longer, more resolved trajectory. You can see it very clearly in the Dark Knight movies, the original Spiderman trilogy, the Star Wars movies (the good trilogy), even the first three Alien movies (we shall not speak of Alien: Resurrection—that piece of cinematic garbage is dead to us).

In terms of the rebooted Star Trek movies, we’re in the middle of the trilogy and that means a great challenge. And that means Khan, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (say that three times fast). And don’t be fooled by that John Harrison bullshit—we all knew you were bringing Khan.

Anyway, this version of Khan is…okay. Kinda meh. He’s played well and there is a seething anger in his approach but he doesn’t do anything really fucked up and the things he does do, he’s wholly justified. The Khan in the original series and in Star Trek II is bent on revenge and Kirk’s death is his sole purpose. He’s horribly effective in this endeavor because he has no qualms about how he achieves his aims: there is no nobility or honor in his actions. This is revenge pure and simple.

Cumberbatch’s Khan is more the victim of blackmail. He’s doing what he has to do to protect the ones he loves. It’s a defensive posture to me, one fitting the unwilling accomplice than a major antagonist. He does, however, have this one fantastic exchange:

Khan: Because I am better.

Kirk: At what?

Khan: Everything.

And to his credit, he is. Whipping EVERYBODY’S ass! Spock, Kirk, about 47 Klingons, and he kicked the shit out of Carol Marcus’ leg. I’ll give him that. But in the end, this villain was just ok. He was, however, successful in breaking Kirk ALL THE WAY down, in a way the original could not, and I guess that makes him pretty impressive. An impressive Meh. I don’t know, maybe I should rewatch the movie.

As a side note, this movie cheats: the whole premise of the original reboot was that someone from the future came and changed historical events which meant an alternate reality for the folks who boldly go where no one has ever gone before. You’ve heard of those What If? stories, right? What if the Nazis won WWII? What if Kennedy hadn’t gotten shot? What if we decided against giving the Kardashians a tv show? This is a story like that. Fine, I can buy it. Opens up all new possibilities and a chance to tell old stories in new ways. Great! But then you can’t have new Spock calling up old Spock for info on new Khan. What the fuck is that? Since when did we get an interstellar time-travel cell phone? With FaceTime? Is that on the new iPhone 5S? Fucking Apple.

Next Friday, we will look at the all time Galactic Hide and Seek Champion: Zod!

Things That Are Awesome

This has been the awesome-est week EVER, hasn’t it?

First, we had:

DMFRH 2013: Rise of the Swoaps

I have a thing for villains—that’s like the whole point of this blog. Picking them up, turning them in the light, shaking them until something falls out. That’s my thing. I thought I was focusing on pop culture references, fictional villains from comics and movies and books.

Then my villains became real.

I won’t rehash the thrilling details (one, because I said I wouldn’t; and two, because you can read all about it here) but our story began with shit-talking after my wife resigned and ended with the arrest of my arch-nemeses, Big John and Melanie “Bye Bitch!” Swoap, for theft and fraud and a bunch of other shit.

It was a fitting end to a funky little dispute and it made me smile. Just. Like This.


Crooked Letterz is TWO!

That’s right, this here blog had its second birthday. Yay! We had a bouncy house and two clowns and I gave it some mugshots as an awesome present. Then things got even better! That EPIC Conclusion post is the 200th post on Crooked Letterz. That little post that could, filled to the brim with Law & Order intros and Puss in Boots Oooh Cats and Fox17 stories, was the highest viewed post in the history of this blog. It pushed me well over the 60,000 view mark (closer to 65,000 as of this writing), which is amazing for someone with a novel and dream. It was like sweeps week and I gave you the end of M*A*S*H. What’s M*A*S*H? Jesus—how about Cheers? No? Lost? Shit, fine—I gave you the end of Wizards of Waverly Place. How bout that? Young asses.

Miley Cyrus and the VMAs

Speaking of young asses, I saw the VMAs this Sunday. I saw Miley Cyrus twerking her long back on Robin Thicke just like you did. We watched as a family and I had one of those “Oh, THIS is what my parents must have felt like” moments. The Honey Badger was grossed out and confused. The Boy was both aroused and disgusted. My wife and I watched it like this:

That’s for my Breaking Bad fans.

Now you may recall that I wrote a lovely Leave Miley Alone post a bit ago. In it, I said she was just doing the stupid shit all 20-year-olds do, just her stage and opportunity was greatly increased due to her fame and finances. That was before I saw the VMAs.

Since that display of teddy bear-fueled ridicularity, I’ve gotten emails and texts, Facebook messages and inboxes about would I want my daughter to do that. Would I want her to emulate Miley? I’ve read open letters and twitter feeds, blog posts and news articles. And that all come the same conclusion: Miley Cyrus is a drug-addicted, sex-crazed heathen on the slippery slope to an overdose or death who is going to take our daughters with her.

But my opinion hasn’t changed.

I’m a product of the 80s. I grew up watching MTV. I remember when they actually played music on Music Television—kinda weird watching the Video Music Awards on a channel that doesn’t play music videos. But I digress. I remember the same articles and when Madonna performed Like A Virgin in a wedding dress. When Madonna and Britney and Christina Aguilera kissed on stage. When Elton John wore…well, ALL that crazy shit. When Lady Gaga wore a meat dress.

Christina got butt naked on her Stripped album cover. Britney shaved her head. Lindsay became a lesbian for 14 minutes, stole some jewelry and went to rehab. Demi Lovato went to a different kind of rehab. Kimberly from Diff’rent Strokes posed in Playboy and ended up dead. Todd Bridges and Danny Bonaduce became a drug addicts and recovered. Gary Coleman became a sued his parents and became a security guard. Elton John sang for Princess Diana’s funeral. Madonna got a British accent.

This shit with child stars is old. They go through this rebellious period where they lose their fucking minds publicly. Most of the time they survive it, sometimes they don’t. At this point, I can see the act a mile away. Miley is being stupid—some of it is for real, some of it is for show. You’re so caught up in her tongue sticking out, seeing her grind on Robin Thicke in his Foot Locker uniform that you forget the Hannah Montana bullshit. That is the point. Forget the Hannah Montana shit. She’ll do this nonsense for another year or so, release an “Oh, I found myself and my sanity” album, become a judge of the 18th season of American Idol, and get a semi-serious movie role.

And the world will be right until Good Luck Charlie gets a belly piercing.

Oh, and I Got a Posting Schedule

That’s the last thing—and I’ll do it real quick because it’s getting longer. After 2 years and 200 posts, it’s a new day here at Crooked Letterz. What’s new, you ask? Regularity. Knowing what to expect. So here’s the deal: I’m gonna post here 2 times a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays are kind of a free-for-all day: you’ll find DMFRHs, Suburdity, Things That Are Awesome (like this)—whatever comes to mind. Fridays will bring the villains back with the Friday Night Fiend. We’ll get back to all the things you know and love.

That’s my word.

Oh yeah, there’s one more thing that’s awesome: Me.

Catch ya Friday!

When Screwing Your Clients Goes Wrong: The EPIC Conclusion

That’s your intro. Now comes your awesomeness! BAM! Mugshots, y’all:


Nothing says glamour like these pics. Work it, girl!

Gather round, boys and girls, even you new kids, I have to tell you a short little story. If you know me, and by now you do, you know that the first rule of Crooked Letterz is, if it’s funny, I’m gonna laugh. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what it is. I know I talk about villains and bad guys and stuff, but look at the other stuff I’ve written: handicapped hockey games (and the cripple fight at the soccer game), overactive bowel movements, DMFRHs. If it’s funny, I’m laughing. That’s the deal.

This is funny.

And you can imagine the giggles and broad smiles that crossed my face when my wife came bumping down the stairs, talking about “Stacy Case just called me!” Stacy who? Then she started talking slow. “Stacy Case. From Fox news. In Tennessee. Just called me.”

Stacy Case is an anchor at Fox 17 in Nashville. Stacy Case did a heartwarming little story last year—just like mine—highlighting the local awesomeness of the Swoaps and promoting how they could save you money on your next Disney trip. I’d love to show it to you, but that shit is no longer on the Fox 17 website. Know why? Cuz you don’t make a fool out of Stacy Case. That shit no longer exists. But you know what does? This:

Did you catch the blurred out ex-BSJ employee? Care to guess who that might be?

Oh, you know what else exists? This—and these cats were first:

50 Plus Families Duped Out of $50K

I have some new kids at the party today, and yesterday, and the day before. I hope you brought snacks for the rest of us. Now, you might looking at us, thinking, “Are you guys seriously laughing at these people?” In a word, yes. In three words, they started it.

But it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Somebody got hurt. And that brings us to our Jerry Springer End of the Show moment.

It has been a wild, crazy, expletive-laced ride with the Swoaps, hasn’t it? I had fun, didn’t you? I mean, my wife was called a pill-popping alcoholic and a thief. Publicly. I was a sack of shit and motherfucker. They left us this fantastic voicemail (the Boy didn’t autotune it—I’m taking volunteers):

But, for all the fun it’s been, it’s time to let it go. Awww, I know, I know. But this is the last post on DMFRHs, our favorite two assclowns (you know you love it!). EVER. Like forever. After this, we have to be done. For good. Here’s why:

If you notice from the pic at the top, these cats have a casual relationship with the law. This isn’t the first run in the Swoaps have had with the boys in blue. And if you listen to what both newscasters said, a) these charges carry penalties of at least 8 years with fines up to $250,000; and b) they are also investigating my man for defrauding the state with his unemployment. All kidding aside, this is serious shit.

When it was John and Melanie talking shit to my wife via email, that was one thing. It was heated words and exchanges, loud talking and legal threats that never came to fruition. It was an argument—ultimately victimless. This isn’t. This is serious shit with real victims. This is the stuff that ruins lives.

55 families were defrauded (allegedly—I think I have to put that in). Little girls were almost deprived of their Disney World trip AT Disney World (which is FUCKED UP by the way). There are at least 10 planners whose livelihoods are severely impacted, if not curtailed entirely. And these guys are parents themselves. It is very likely they could lose their kids or their kids could lose one or both parents to prison.

Not so funny anymore.

Now it’s just sad.

And that’s why we have to be done.

Want more Swoap-y goodness? See how it all began!

When Screwing Your Clients Goes Wrong: Now We Get All Investigative Journalist On Ya

So the Wife and I had a Perry White-Lois Lane moment here at the ranch, trying to decide what to publish on this here blog and what to leave alone. Believe it or not, I opted for discretion (cuz THAT’s my MO, right?). She pushed for shaming these bastards the public’s right to know.

What I didn’t know was that my wife wanted to be Woodward & Bernstein as a kid. This woman got sources, screenshots, connections, images and fileboxes, blood samples and bulletin boards–the search for the Zodiac Killer was not this thorough. So you can imagine who won in this little journalistic struggle. The caveat, the Wife gets her own post. So here, for the first time, is a Crooked Letterz exposé:

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been pretty quiet until now. I’ve been busy these last 9 months recovering from surgery, getting healthy, enjoying my family and of course, travel sales – Disney and more now. I’ve been very blessed to have my husband as my rock and voice during all of this.

I sat quiet through being called a pill popping alcoholic; I sat by when John called me a thief and a bitch, and while being threatened with slander suits. Until my Facebook, emails and phone started blowing up in June.

First, it was small things – “Have you see that BSJ got shut down?” or “ This is such-and-such from XYZ Company. We’re on the Earmark Committee. I’m just checking on you – we were referred to your husband’s blog by such-and-such or our DM [District Manager–it’s a Disney thing]. We’re hearing all these rumors running around about Disney shutting down Blue Sky Journeys. We’re so sorry to hear what happened to you.”

Then the emails and Facebook messages with links came. “Have you seen they started a new company?” To which I would say, “Well maybe it’s an entirely different company?” Right? I mean why would planners stay where there are issues? You can’t access your reservations; you’re worried about your clients; you’re getting fed bullshit via email about trying to get the company back up and running during a holiday weekend; and prior to a huge free dining special offer coming out. Why would you believe what is being told to you. Right???

I was astonished to learn after some easy internet research and a few phone calls that less than 48 hours after being served a SHUT THE HELL DOWN by Disney they START A NEW COMPANY! Even the youngest detective could figure this out.  I start with the Blue Sky Journeys website. While I see that while the front-page of BSJ is under maintenance, their agent page is still accessible. OOPS!  Go ahead go look. I’ll wait.!__agents Oh, and if they happen to take it down after this blog post – I have screen shots.

Now lets take a look at another site that was linked to me in Facebook. This came from one of my concerned associates and was sent to my Facebook messages:

If you look at the drop down list, you can see some similarities. I am not here to make judgment on the new company nor the agents that are there. I am only here to point one main person.

That person currently is under indictment and has been arrested on theft charges in the State of Tennessee. You can figure out who that person is, right?

So then I take to Facebook and, even though BSJ can’t sell Disney anymore, they are still doing business selling other travel. Here is an example from the same week they had to stop selling Disney:

BSJ Fantasy & Dream Connection

Finally, I searched CLIA (Cruise Line Industry Association) by name. This first screen shot is an Agency Look Up as a CLIA member (which I am). The second is one you can get yourself if you’re looking for an agent in your area by Zip code. Now, I’m not sure WHY when you search it shows Franklin, IN – typo maybe?? Here you can look for yourself by searching Fantasy & Dreams Luxury, LLC in the zip code box:


BSJ MelanieIn my mind I think: Why would Melanie if she is not the owner of the new agency, file for a new CLIA number (needed to sell Disney) under her maiden name? There are even Facebook screen shots showing that she is currently the manager and vacation planner at Fantasy & Dreams Luxury Travel, LLC and the Owner at Blue Sky Journeys.

BSJ Melanie Facebook

Why should a person who is currently out ON BOND and indicted for theft of over $60K  – a Class B felony in Tennessee be allowed to continue to work as any type of Travel Agent? Let alone, sell Disney?

The arrest happened on Friday, August 16, 2013. As I was boarding a plane to Disneyland, I got phone calls and texts, back to back while I was sitting on the runway for takeoff, telling me all about it. I can’t say I didn’t smile and was giddy with justice being served. I was. It was the best Disneyland trip this year.

Then on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 I got an email from the current Manager of the new Travel Agency – Fantasy & Dreams Luxury Travel, LLC. The email, as my husband pointed out yesterday in his blog, requested we remove their name from the blog:

Though some of the BSJ agents have come to work for me, we are a separate company from Blue Sky Journeys.  I am formally requesting that you remove any references to Fantasy & Dreams (negative or positive) from your blog.  We are a new agency, just trying to gain our footing in the travel world and I’m sure you aren’t looking to damage my reputation or the reputations of my company or planners.

So we discussed with our legal representation what we should do. We were advised we could remove the link but leave the name because it’s public record. How is it public record, you ask? We have screen shots of that below. Yesterday, Chris decided to remove it completely because he thought the person who sent the email and helped start that company was an unwitting participant. They had believed everything told to them by the Swoaps. They were swindled just as much a victim as the dance group and parents.

Then yesterday evening, Chris and I discussed what the end game was for us. In the end, it is about protecting the clients who were unaware of what happened and the agents who have drunk the Kool Aid and believe everything they are being told. We wanted the public to see the truth. Apparently, so does Fox 17 in Nashville. And WKRN ABC 2.

As a Disney vacation planner and travel agent this has disappointed me and emotionally upset me for a few reasons. First, because it opened up old wounds from December and the way I was treated when all I wanted to do was resign from Blue Sky Journeys. You can see the posts my husband did on that here. Second, because those of us, who eat, sleep and dream magically have a reputation and standard to uphold. Disney is about making dreams come true. When you enter the gates at either park – California or Orlando – the goal is to feel like there is no outside world. The Imagineers have done such a fantastic job of immersing you into the magical world of everything Disney, that you just want to feel that way forever. For me, it’s the only place that my family can shut off their phones, work or school life and we bond together to make the memories that will last a lifetime. I love getting up daily and making magic for my clients.

The Disney travel agent community is a small one: this stuff gets around quickly. Negative things get around even quicker once they are out. Things like what happened with BSJ and the current indictment make us all look HORRIBLE. They are not the first agency to rip off someone–you can Google many rip off reports of small agencies that prey on work at home moms, bring them in as agents with no training, no idea about the industry, give them a login and then, once they begin booking clients, never pay them or shut down and file bankruptcy. NOT ALL AGENCIES OR AGENTS ARE LIKE THIS.

There are many things you can do to ensure you get a great reputable agent / agency to book your travel with:

  1. Make sure to check they are registered with the BBB.
  1. Ask if they are certified or have travel accreditations. For example, are they with a Disney Earmarked agency, do they have their cruise ACC from CLIA and Certification from Travel Institute. Those that are have the certificates and credentials when you search for them.
  1. Ask if they have Errors & Omissions Insurance this protects the agent and client incase of errors on the reservations.
  2. Check with the State to ensure they are a registered business.
  1. Ask how payments are taken. Do they pay the vacation supplier directly or take the money in house. While many agencies are set up to take payments in house, they must be regulated by the State they are in for how to hold clients funds in escrow before paying the vacation supplier.
  1. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid payments by cash or check. Purchase your vacation on a credit card so that if something goes wrong, you can get it back through the Card Company and dispute.
  1. Ask for references: Check their Facebook fan page for recommendations or ask for previous client testimonials.
  1. Always as for confirmation the same a day you are booked or credit card charged.

In the end, my entire goal for this post today is so the public is informed. I don’t have anything against the other Manager of the new agency that emailed me, or the planners who chose to go there. I think they are victims of the situation. I’m sorry that they have to be affected by these stories and posts. This post is no different than any other news story that comes out about this horrendous situation and stealing money from families who just wanted to dance and enjoy Disney. I pray that the agents that have current clients still traveling will get paid what is owed to them. As for the families and children involved, in all sincerity I pray that they are all taken care of and can get repayment. I hope they don’t view the reset of us great agents and agencies out there in the same light as their experience with BSJ.

I appreciate you all reading and supporting my husband’s blog. But for me, this is the end. I’ve told my story to those who have asked. I’ve said my peace and am moving on back to my magical place and vacation planning. Thanks for listening and coming to your own conclusions. If you need a new agent that is certified and reputable, I’m sure I can find you a good one.

– Amanda

Now, the EPIC conclusion!

When Screwing Your Clients Goes Wrong: The Red & Blue Light Edition

So many things happened today that I honestly cannot keep up.

As you may know, I have a Day Job. I actually get up everyday and go to work, interact with clients, produce deliverables, and collect a paycheck. Everyday. This day, before I’d finished my first cup of coffee, I got a polite Cease & Desist request via email. It wasn’t even 24 hours—I think that’s a new record.

Apparently not everyone appreciated the darling kitty video I posted last night. Who doesn’t like cat videos? Cat videos power the internets.

Here’s the deal: I was asked to remove a reference to another travel company in last night’s post. You might recall, I said something about Fantasy and Dreams Luxury Travel—they asked me to pull the name and link and I complied. See, if you look at the original post, there is no reference to the Fantasy and Dreams Luxury Travel website or their Facebook page because they are a separate company from Blue Sky Journeys and don’t have any affiliation to the owners of Blue Sky Journeys.

Oh, wait…what’s this?

BSJ Melanie Facebook

Thought so.

But then it got better: I got gifts! And, even though I didn’t go the kindergarten, I know how to share. So I’m giving them back to you…the people. (You have to say this is Bane’s voice).

You know in Law & Order, how Lenny and Benjamin Bratt do all the legwork? Here’s what that looks like for real:

BSJ Police Incident Report

The report essentially says that the dance school contacted Blue Sky Journeys to plan their Disney World trip. Parents paid for themselves and their daughters, made PayPal payments, and wrote checks, to the tune of approximately $60,000. But when they showed up at Disney, there weren’t any reservations, no dance classes, not even the fucking van to take them from the airport to the resort! And DMFRH was onsite knowing good and goddamn well he ain’t paid for shit. Disney tried to be classy and not ruin the kids’ trip and one of the parents, the wife of a famous country singer (it is Tennessee, after all) footed the rest of the bill but on the condition that the police were involved. And here we are.

You know what comes next?

Once the police get their person, they go to the Grand Jury and one of the pretty ADAs who work for Jack McCoy–Serena, Connie Rubirosa (with her fine tail) or Crossing Jordan or whoever makes the case and they get an indictment. Like this:

BSJ Indictment

For those of you uninterested in reading, that is an indictment for theft. These cats got indicted and arrested for taking $60K from a dance school for kids for their Disney World trip. Dude, that’s like robbing Make-A-Wish.

And look at the witness list at the bottom on the last page: people from Disney Legal and Paypal–MF-ing Paypal, y’all? It’s about to get deep. I’m gonna be all over Orbitz to find me a ticket. Do courtrooms in Tennessee allow you to bring popcorn?

Next: Investigative Journalism!

When Screwing Your Clients Goes Wrong: BSJ Strikes Back

You know, you all are a fickle bunch.

I write some amazing stuff about villains and movies and comic book stuff and you guys are like “Meh.” I’ve broken Disney World, introduced you to DMFRHs, even wrote a post defending Miley Cyrus of all people. And what’d I get? Crickets. But let me write a little something about a couple of assclowns dogging my wife when she quit her job—yes, the same ones who dropped that super-fantastic voicemail (when are one of you guys gonna auto-tune it?)—and you all give me the single best day on my blog in 2 years! I’m talking about thousands of views. Getting UpVoted on Reddit. And then you asked for more.

Hey, I’m just giving the people what they want.

Now, for the 4 of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, last year my wife joined a fledgling travel agency called Blue Sky Journeys as a Disney Vacation Planner. I even wrote a sappy lil post about it. Then she got hit with a Cease & Desist from another agency and my girl decided to move on. That didn’t go over so well. Not at all.  I wrote a couple of VERY popular blog posts (check them out here, here, aaaannnnd here, and, oh yeah, here), John and Melanie Swoap (the owners of Blue Sky Journeys) left us an AWESOME voicemail, I became a “sack of shit,” and we received several expletive-laced invitations to Tennessee, bosom of America.

But that was last December. And not a week has gone by where I haven’t gotten a “when are you gonna write another post?” inquiry. I didn’t really have much more to say: my wife had moved on, John and I had said all there was to say, and keeping it going was like poking fun at the kids on the short bus. Even I’m not that mean.

But then I started hearing stuff.

First it was little shit like my wife saying, “This agent or that Disney blogger LOVED your blog.” I’d smile and my head would swell and then I’d go back about my day.

Then it was, “Hey, the Earmark Committee knows all about your blog.” Earmark Committee? What’s the Earmark Committee? “Oh,” my wife would say, “they’re the people who decide whether a travel agency becomes an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. It’s kind of a big deal.” And they know about my blog? “Yeah! They think it’s hilarious! Things aren’t gonna look so hot for Blue Sky Journeys come renewal time.”


But then things took a different turn when my wife got a call that said, “Hi, this is Such-and-So from Disney’s Legal Department. We read your husband’s blog. We’d like to ask you some questions.”

Wait, what?

Yep, Disney Legal is following my blog. And they like it. And no, things didn’t go too well for our friends in the Great State of Tennessee. Like Puffy on Making the Band, Disney came in this past July and shut the studio down. BOOM. No more Disney for you! If you go to, you just get clip art and pixie dust, right? Right. That’s what business closure looks like.

So the wife and I giggled and guffawed, poured out some liquor and played Boys II Men’s It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday. Ding Dong! The Witch is dead, right? Not exactly. Apparently, you can have your business shut down by Disney and turn around and make a new one THE VERY NEXT DAY…as long as you put it under someone else’s name. Well, a couple of their planners didn’t like the idea and left—of course saying a couple left is like saying Moses took a few people into the desert with him. But whatever—end of the story, right?


Now I have to be cautious about what I say because I don’t want to go to jail for slander for discussing a case in litigation—and we all know I’m too pretty for jail—but it is the summer movie season. So let me present it like a trailer:


Imagine one of those helicopter shots flashing over Disney World toward Epcot.


In world where girls just want to dance…and go to Disney World…


Hotel lobby. A group of dance moms and their dancers stand huddled by the desk. They have tear-stained faces and frazzled hair. The hotel clerk is also disheveled and tired. Things are clearly not going well.


What do you mean we don’t have rooms?! We booked with Blue Sky Journeys months ago!


I don’t know what to tell you, ma’am. We don’t have a reservation for you–not for any of you.


Same hotel lobby, a young, exhausted travel agent clutches her cellphone to her ear.


John, the police want to talk to you! They’re down here now!


Dimly lit police station. Two detectives are huddled over open files. Stacks of papers and receipts, boxes of folders and evidence bags litter the room. They are pointing at a bulletin board with photos, Disney paraphernalia, colored yarn strung tight between thumbtacks. Looking for connections.


Well, how much are they in for?


Looks like at least $60,000.

DETECTIVE 1 (grabbing cuffs):

$60,000? Poor little kids. Come on, Ron, let’s go get them.


Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 5.08.44 PMScreen Shot 2013-08-19 at 5.09.06 PM

And those are arrest records, folks. For realz. Look at the date–that shit happened on FRIDAY. I saw them and was all like:

You know that can’t be all, right? I got police records, incident reports and a note: if I just got bailed out of jail, the first thing I’d do is go in vacation. Wouldn’t you?

And now there’s more...

Judge Not…Cause the Stones in the Glass Houses…Just Leave Miley Alone

19 was an interesting year for me: for starters, I got kicked out of college. Well, that’s probably harsher than it sounded: I was politely asked not to return. There, that’s better.

But it got worse.

I spent my 19th birthday sleeping on someone’s desk, not because I was drunk but because I dicked around too long and missed the bus back to my aunt’s house. I had my first younger man-older woman relationship at 19 and it was awesome! Got fired for the first time. Not so awesome. I got caught messing around with a girl in her father’s house BY HER FATHER. Really not awesome. I would go out and get drunk with my friends, drinking 40s of Old English at the top of the Mall of America parking lot and dropping the empty bottles over the side. I got drunk enough that I lost the ability to recite the alphabet. In front of my little sister.

As you can imagine, that Brother of the Year trophy looks amazing on my mantle.

Between 19 and 21, I was a high-ranking official in the global DMFRH operation. I bought a car and summarily got it repossessed. Seems they really like those payments on time. I moved into a townhouse with my best friend, only to find out that our other roommate (a girl) was having sex with her first cousin. I left. I got into my second older woman-younger man relationship and almost got kicked out of college for the second time (apparently those institutions of higher learning don’t appreciate you getting all extra-curricular with their administrators).  I got kicked out an Embers, which is one step lower than a Perkins, for lipstick on my glass (note: I DO NOT wear lipstick). I got kicked out of a movie theater at the Mall of America for having an aggressive Malcolm X conversation too close to a white couple—then intimidating them in said theater.

My scared straight moment didn’t come until I was standing next to a girl that got shot. Before that I was an idiot. I was such an idiot that, at 22, I looked back and said, “Damn, I did some dumb shit.”

You probably did too.

Which brings me to Miley Cyrus. I’ll pause for that “Wait, what?” moment. OK, so follow my train of thought. I have a job. That means I can only watch ONE show on MTV and my choice is Ridiculousness (unless Catfish is on—that’s my shit). If you know me, and by now you do, you know I cannot resist any show that is going to give me videos of people getting fucked up AND have commentary. So I’m watching Ridiculousness and giggling and then there is this commercial for the VMAs and it starts with the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” and shows a bunch of people in the sewer. And here’s my stream of consciousness train of thought:

“No Sleep Til Brooklyn? Are they honoring the Beastie Boys at the VMAs? Didn’t they do that at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame already? And didn’t one of them die? That’s gonna be awkward. Why are they in the sewer like a bunch of Michael Jackson back up dancers? Who the hell? Miley Cyrus? Is she that big of deal? Well, that song “We Can’t Stop “ gets stuck in my head every time I hear—godammit, it’s stuck now.”

And that’s how we get to Miley Cyrus.

When Hannah Montana was popular and the Honey Badger wanted a Rock Star birthday party, I distinctly remember saying, “Who the hell is Hannah Montana?” Turns out she had a show and an album and a movie and bedsheets and all kinds of other Disney shit. Next thing I know, she has a song that I can’t get out of my head, is twerking what she doesn’t have and grown women are calling her a “skank” and a “ho.”

Okay, wait.

I’ve admittedly done stupid shit. So have you. But there was a limit on my stupidity mainly because I was a) anonymous and b) poor. Think about it. Most 20 year olds doing dumb shit are college students and college students are notoriously poor. Poverty keeps your stupidity in check in the same way your body secretes a hormone to lock your muscles so you don’t act out your dreams. It’s a natural limiting factor.

Imagine being 20 and stupid and famous and having $120 Million Dollars. Why that’s enough money to do…whatever the fuck you want. What limits do you have? And what do you have to look forward to? Most college students inherently have some limit because of their financial situation and because they eventually have to buckle down and figure out how to pay off those student loans. But what happens when you come into your 20s with a career and millions of dollars? Well, you lose your fucking mind!

Now I’m not a Miley Cyrus fan. I’d feel too much like a pedophile if I were. But I think the harsh judgment against a 20 year old being 20 in the public eye is both unfounded and a little two-faced. We’ve all done stupid shit—it’s a rite of passage—and whether that is limited to Pabst Blue Ribbon-laced hook ups and manufactured slip-n-slides in dormitory hallways or it’s music videos shaking your no ass and smoking marijuana (which is legal in my state), it’s all the same stupid shit.

And we’ve all done it.

DMFRH Round Up

It’s a sad, sad day when I have to do a round up, an aggregation, of all the ridiculation (I know it’s not a word—go with it) in my house. For those of you who don’t know, about a year ago I introduced a series called Dis MuthaFucka Right Here or DMFRH. Now, when I introduced this lovely little segment, The Boy was my primary target: he offered superhuman levels of ignorance. Since then, DMFRH has expanded to Shawn T and Tony Horton of P90X and Insanity fame, me, and a fledgling travel agency called Blue Sky Journeys (which is now is perpetually “Under Construction.” Good ahead, look it up. I can wait. Heh heh).

But now that school has been out for 6 weeks, my kids—both of them—have decided to increase their DMFRH quotient to superhuman levels. Here are a couple examples:


It’s hot in Seattle—I know for my southwestern friends, the 90 degrees we got was balmy to you, but in the super-moderate Pacific Northwest, we’re roasting. So my wife bought a pool (inciting event). As you can image, there are rules around the pool: don’t be stupid, don’t drown each other, stop trying to teach the dog to swim. And stay out of it when we’re not there.

It’s summer, it’s the Fourth of July weekend and we decide to cut out and get some lunch and run a couple errands. Because my kids are older, my wife and I can slip away and do stuff like get a meal at restaurant that does not include Happy Meals or a Playland or a ball pit. Wonderful, right? The Honey Badger wants to go swimming. We say, “Hey, we’re on our way home. Be there in 30 minutes. Wait for us!” Cool.

But when we pull up, there are kids (KIDS—plural) walking into my backyard with towels and googles, Zinc on their noses, suntan lotion and hurricane glasses of Kool-Aid and Capri-Suns. I jump out the car, holler at the kids walking into my house, “Go home! Party’s over!” Walk through the back gate and kids are in the pool, music playing, cold-kicking it. I am confident I had a Bill Bixby, green-eyed, shirt-busting moment. Her friends saw it without me even saying anything: these cats grabbed their flip flop and towels, dropped their drinks and ran out the house talking about “Kayla said we could!” My child comes up out the water, like Bo Derek in 10 and says, “What? It was only 30 minutes.”

DMFRH cool had a pool party and she’s 11 years old. It was the second time in 10 years I had to leave my house because I was going to kill a child.

The pool is retired for the summer.



The Boy is bored. He’s taken to recording his Xbox gameplay using a Capture card and uploading it to his YouTube channel. Now, on the surface, this sounds pretty impressive, right? Industrious. Inventive. Things you normally don’t hear about The Boy. To support this endeavor, my wife gets him a new and improved Capture Card—it essentially takes what comes out his Xbox and sends it to both the TV and the his computer so he can record videos and add his voice. Not too shabby, right?

Until he has to hook it up.

Guys, you probably know this innately but everything you buy comes with instructions. EVERYTHING. TVs, cereal, shampoo. It is a requirement at this point because people are stupid. McDonald’s has to tell you the hot coffee you just ordered is hot because they got sued behind not telling someone the hot coffee they ordered was hot. Your blow dryer has a warning not to use in the shower because that’s the quickest way to get your hair dry—in the shower. And every piece of electronic equipment tells you how to connect it to other pieces of electronic equipment. Why? Because people are stupid.

So what I get is The Boy coming downstairs, telling me he tried to hook up his Capture Card but he can only get audio and no video. Before I even move, I say, “Did you look at the directions?”

“I couldn’t find them so I used YouTube.”

I couldn’t find them so I used YouTube. Dammit.

I’m telling him everything I just told you: there HAVE to be instructions. He finally finds them IN THE BOX but can’t figure out how to connect his stuff. Now I’m standing right next to him. He pulls the paper out and says to me, “I can’t really read instructions.” You can’t read? I look at the paper. People, there are NO WORDS ON THIS SHEET—it’s just pictures.

“You can’t figure this out?” I say. “It’s just pictures. It’s the oldest form of human communication. Cavemen drew pictures—are you telling me the caveman is smarter than you?”

Blank stare.


He does. He still doesn’t understand. We talk about inputs and outputs and how data might move from his source system to the peripheries. He gives me slow nods and blank stares. And I hook up the Capture Card.


And when my daughter handed me a screwdriver and told me she couldn’t figure out how to turn it on, I had a stark realization: between the inability to listen and the lack of critical thinking skills, my kids are absolutely going to die in the zombie apocalypse. Both of them.