In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately….and if there’s one thing I’ve gleaned, it’s that the airlines operate on a total caste system.  All of the airlines are doing this, but Frontier Airlines is the absolute worst. We’re all familiar with the first class vs. coach discriminatory separation that has existed for years.  We’ve become accustomed to that injustice. Those of us in the economy/coach class could always take solace in the fact that all of us subordinates were in the same boat (or  plane, in this case). Just a bunch of working stiffs relegated to the same kind of seats, the same amount of leg room, and the same shot at overhead bin space. But Frontier has caused further divisions and has turned us working class peons against one another!  This is how:

If you’re one of the wealthier serfs, you can opt to purchase a seat having more leg room.  Those seats claim to have something like 8 inches more leg room and are located at the front of coach thus providing that passenger with an early escape from the aircraft upon arrival.  Prices vary depending on the flight.

Seats that are closer together and located in the middle of the plane are the cheapest seats and most of those are center seats.  Looking for a cheap aisle or window seat?  Good luck!  These middle seats that are smack dab in the middle of the plane are designated for the lowest of peasants (me).

people in a tin can….yep….smelly and sardine-like

No leg room in this section!

The serfs sitting up ahead in the extra leg room section won’t even nod as you walk past them to your crummy seat.  It doesn’t matter that you might be their boss in the working world…….they are above you now AND have extra leg room…..HA!

And if you have a roller carry-on bag, you are not permitted to get on the Frontier airbus (sporting Foxy the Fox on its tail) until everyone else has boarded.  You are the bottom of the Frontier barrel if you have a roller bag.  And actually – you’ll probably have to check that bag, so…..next time, leave your roller bag at home and just bring all of your “stuff” in a grocery bag that you can shove under your seat.  If, by some miracle, there is enough room for your roller bag, you will get the stink eye from everyone on the plane as you turn your bag on edge to squeeze down the aisle to your cramped location.

Ready to go on my pre-Christmas flight!

Ready to go on my pre-Christmas flight with my dreaded roller bag! I am a total minion by airline industry standards

After all of this discrimination and judgment by your fellow passengers, you’ve worked up a hunger and thirst.  Hope you brought some food and drink with you, cuz on this airline, you’re not getting anything for free.  The wealthier of the minions will gloat when ordering the $1.99 water and $3.00 bag of chips.  You might here them exclaim…….”Oh by the way……make that 2!”  And the flight attendants don’t take cash so you better have a credit card to pay for a purchase which is totally against what Dave Ramsey (financial guru) preaches.

I don’t mean to sound so disgruntled especially during this time of year.  On my last trip, though, I had a particularly bad experience. In the spirit of Christmas, I’ve written a little ode about the airlines and what happened.

                          T’WAS THE FLIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

T’was the  flight before Christmas….actually that is a lie.

The airlines are scrooges, despite when you fly….

There’s no overhead bin space,

your bag needs to be measured.

The hell with those roll-bags

stashed with your treasures.

“Now would be a good time

to place your tote in the template,

we’ll check  your bag if it’s too big

says the sugary-voiced attendant.”

Well…..at least we know Hazel can be stowed in the overhead bins

Well…..at least we know Hazel can be stowed in the overhead bins

“But – I brought a carry on for a purpose”,

I emphatically say…….

I don’t want to check baggage – it

creates a delay.”

This is why I use carry-on luggage

This is why I don’t check bags!

“Well, you’ve purchased a ticket

in the cheapest of seats,

you’re last on the aircraft,

good luck with your feat

of finding some space in the overhead bins,

You’re the lowest of low,”

smirks the suit wearing wings.

snarky flight attendant

snarky flight attendant

As I proceed down the aisle

looking  here, looking there,

I spy a great spot!

But a backpack, I fear

is taking much space…… and needlessly so.

I ask the owner….can this backpack  just go

underneath of your seat in front of your toes?

“No”, says the idiot, (he is a big schmoe).

Rolling my eyes, and before coming to blows,

Inconsiderate jerk……you can't put your book bag under the seat in front of you?

Inconsiderate jerk……you can’t put your backpack under the seat in front of you?

the attendant steps in and proceeds down the row.

He finds me a spot and I stash my small kit,

I can finally relax despite that dimwit.

So, between the cramped  quarters

and bin slots people hoard,

I’m beginning to “get” that……

cheap tix  don’t afford

what others receive

when allowed “early board.”

When I exit the plane

and I gather my things,

it’s a sad realization

that this particular trip brings…..

travelers are selfish,

and the airlines are prickish

If you don’t spend a fortune

on expensive seat tickets.

Let this be a lesson

to all  who are travelers……

the airlines will screw you;

so might the passengers.

                            MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT!



My Husband Vacuums his Head

I am Kevin’s hairdresser (or more like…..”lack-of-hair”-dresser).  Cutting Kevin’s hair was not part of my marriage vows, but I have come about this job by default.  I guess this is part of the “worse” aspect of “for better or for worse.”

I don’t have a fancy chair with a foot pump, a soft feather brush for gently sweeping away cut hair from the neck, or even a decent pair of scissors, but Kev keeps coming back to my “salon.”  The convenience and cheap service is obviously the big draw (cuz it sure as hell isn’t for my spiffy styling techniques).

As I mentioned, I don’t have many barbering tools, but I do have a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner has become an essential barbering device in my parlor.  This is a frequent scene in our house, and I swear…….this was never MY idea.  I’m totally fine with ridding the floor and surrounding areas of excess hair, but vacuuming the head???  This is where I put my foot down to the “worse” part of the vows.

Vacuuming a somehwat bald head

Vacuuming all of those trimmings and perhaps contributing to early baldness??  Is there some research on this??  And for God’s sake…..put a shirt on, man!

I’m glad that Kevin has faith in me to cut his cut when he knows that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.  Fortunately, he is pretty laid back about what his hair looks like.  He’s had a history of  bad hair cuts and salon visits.  When we lived in Mt Lebanon (1980-1997), Kevin always went to the Family Hair Center owned by the wonderful Frank Paonessa who was the main barber. Even before that, Kevin went to Frank starting when Kevin was 12 years old and Frank was cutting hair near where Kevin grew up in Pittsburgh.  They  have history!

Frank had a brother, Jimmy who also worked at the Family Hair Center. Frank and Jimmy were the typical Italian barbers that would’ve been stars of a reality TV show if that was in existence in the 1980’s…….”The Barbers of Pittsburgh”…..kinda a spinoff of the Barber of Seville which as it turns out has nothing to do with barbers, as far as I can tell.  Maybe more like the Housewives of Jersey spinoff………Anyway – it was always fun to hear Frank and Kevin conversing about arrests, bad guys, good guys, etc. while Frank shaved Kevin’s head way too short.  The lively conversation was wonderful …….the haircut……not so much.

After every haircut from Frank, I would  strongly encourage Kevin to go elsewhere.  But – the fact of the matter was …………Kevin and I both really liked Frank.  Frank came to our wedding! Even though I didn’t like how Frank cut Kevin’s hair, Frank was a really cool guy .  Both Frank and Jimmy became friends of ours (they were the closest we ever came to being “made” without killing someone!) .

Damn…..I wish I knew how to photoshop Kevin's and my pics in here

Damn…..I wish I knew how to photoshop Kevin’s and my pics in here.


Neither of us really wanted to sever the ties with Barber Frank despite the horrendous coif that Kevin ended up with every month.  Relocation forced the issue of saying goodbye to Frank and the awful haircuts when we moved from Mt. Lebanon in 1997.

With our move, Kevin was forced to embark on the quest to replace Frank.  After perusing a number of places, Kevin ended up at Scissorhand Station (we had a coupon for there from our “Welcome to Hummelstown” basket).  Scissorhand Station……..cute name, huh?  The business sat right next to the rail lines in Hummelstown and the Edward Scissorhands movie had just been released.  It didn’t have the gangsta flair of the Paonessa brothers Family Hair Center, but it will go down in Stoehr family lore.

This is what happened – Kevin, sporting his FBI Academy shirt walked in to Scissorhand Station and asked if they took walk-ins (little did the stylist know Kev had a coupon burning a hole in his pocket).  The stylist motioned him to her chair and then immediately proceeded to lock the door to the business.  Seems that she might have had a law enforcement fetish. There was no one else in the salon…..just Kevin and Her……. Kevin immediately felt uncomfortable that it was just him and her very alone with the door now locked.  The hairdresser then started making some flirty chit chat.  Kevin began to stammer and sweat profusely. Was he going to be seduced or murdered?  This was Fifty Shades of Grey in reverse and 30 years earlier.  After a few more lines of suggestive questions, Kevin decided to bolt. He told the woman that he had changed his mind and didn’t want a haircut after all.  Now – some men would’ve relished that moment and would have taken advantage, but Kevin just didn’t feel that things were copacetic there at the salon.  Or maybe Kevin was just not used to the dominatrix type atmosphere.  I’m pretty gentle and congenial when I cut hair.

I'm a very gentle hair stylist…..usually I've had wine

I’m a very gentle hair stylist…..usually I’ve had wine

So -ever since then, I have been cutting Kevin’s hair.  I’m not domineering or in any way sexual in my hair cutting approach (and Kevin can vouch for that!).  I do become a little bossy and then Kevin gets defensive……like when I accidentally snipped his ear with my (very dull) scissors and drew blood, Kevin threatened never to come back to my salon.  Or – when I yelled at him to quit looking at the TV and lower his head so I could get the back of his neck, he said that I was the most overbearing stylist he had ever encountered.  Kevin portends that mine is the worst salon he has ever been to.  It’s all a bluff.  Kevin’s frugal and he will suffer a really bad haircut by me because it is FREE!  But – the haircut I give Kevin is still better than Frank’s!

The point of this post is the fact that Kevin vacuums his hair.  Who does that?  Have you ever been to a salon where the  patron holds the vacuum cleaner hose and suctions every strand as it falls?  Maybe that could be a new trend………a discounted hair cutting salon (“Suck it Up”) where the patron cleans up after himself for a reduced cost. I think I’m on to something.  Call me – I’ll cut your hair if you vacuum your own head.

NBC’s The Sound of Music – Not One of My Favorite Things

I was named after Julie Andrews.  My maiden name is Julie Ann Richards.  My mom wanted to call me Melody (gag me), but thankfully, my dad intervened and suggested Julie Ann because Julie Andrews was becoming popular in 1958 when I was born (OMG……I just revealed my age of 39….it’s the new math so just stop trying to figure it out!).  Julie Andrews had just starred in My Fair Lady in 1958 and of course went on to star in Sound of Music, Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and other wonderful productions.  Needless to say, Julie Andrews is near and dear to my heart.  After all……we’re pretty much related.

We are kindred spirits!

We are kindred spirits!

So – I’m really kinda pissed that NBC would go to all of that commercialism trouble to do a stage play of the Sound of Music.  First of all……a full fledged finished movie beats the hell out of a stage play.  Pardon me for insulting all of you thespians (BTW – there’s counseling available for that condition)……but I really don’t want to watch a stage play on my gigantic TV.  A stage play is meant for the stage……not a 55 inch HDTV screen!  I’m pretty sure that my HDMI cable revolted when it sensed a stage play was on TV.

This just didn't cut it

This just didn’t cut it

And, you know me – I LOVE Carrie Underwood.  After all…..I’m going to great lengths to obtain her beautiful smile.  Carrie can sing, but her acting talents are sorely lacking.  Her flat affect through much of the “play” totally distracted from the heartfelt beauty that Julie Andrews brought to that role.  I have to say, though, that Mother Superior (Audra McDonald) was pretty damn good.  She’s won a bunch of Tony’s in the past and she nailed not only the singing but the emotion and acting that was necessary for that part.

Audra McDonald……she's going to heaven!

Audra McDonald……she’s going to heaven!

But – every single one of the Von Trapp family kids were not cute or likable in any aspect.  The over (or under) acting was a real turn-off.  And what was up with Rolf?  Why wasn’t he dressed in the attire worn in the movie? Would that be so hard to do? Did he really need to be portrayed in jorts?  Did they even have jorts back then?  He is an important messenger for the German Nazi regime for God’s sake!  No dictator dresses their personnel in jorts!  However, Michael Campayno who played Rolf is from Pittsburgh, so he is OK is my book even though his attire is not!

This dress is totally disrespectful of the Nazi regime

Rolf’s naked knees are totally disrespectful of the Nazi regime

Christian Borle was awesome as Max Detweiler…….he knows how to do a musical! You might know him as Tom, Debra Messing’s writing partner in Smash.  Christian is also from Pittsburgh.  Geez……there were a lot of Pittsburghers in this Sound of Music production. My husband just said – Pittsburgh is “Hollywood East.”  He then made a punny and said that it would really be “Hilly-wood East.”  This is why I drink.

The fact of the matter is this:

1)  Anyone younger than 18 has never seen the original Sound of Music

2) Anyone younger than the age of 18 has absolutely no idea who Julie Andrews is

3) NBC thought that it could make a ton of money by “updating” this classic with a well-known artist (Carrie Underwood) cast in the lead role

4) Walmart was chomping at the bit to fund this clunker.

Which leads me to my next rant…………I hate Walmart!  I am never buying another thing there.  Everything sold at Walmart is from China.  Even if it means spending a couple of extra dollars, I am buying American and I am buying local.  And I’m gonna go out on a limb here…..but – even if I don’t have a coupon, I’m still buying American and local.  Even Kevin is supportive of this mission and he is the ultimate coupon king!

My King!  I love him and all of the coupons he brings to our marriage!

My King! I love him and all of the coupons he brings to our marriage!

Wow……..I don’t even know how to conclude this post.  It appears that I’m pretty bitter about the Sound of Music stage play on NBC and the capitalistic obsession of Walmart.   Geez…..I’m a mess!  But I don’t think I’m alone.  Who’s with me here?  Give me some feedback on your thoughts about NBC’s Sound of Music and China-loving Walmart.  But – don’t you dare say anything bad about my namesake, Julie Andrews!