Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We were in line for the lamest attraction at Disneyland, but we looked fabulous with our 3D glasses. I love Sonia.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Best Gifts for Guys

Ladies, get your man what he really wants for Christmas, his birthday, or any special occasion. Here are my top ten picks for men's gift ideas.

Don't know what to get for your man? Here are a few gift ideas that he'll love:

1. Sports stuff

You should know what sports teams your man is loyal to. Buy him a jersey, a hat, or a t-shirt. Even if he can't make it to the game, he'll wear the stuff on the weekend while he watches on TV at home. Check this out!

2. Video games

Most guys like video games no matter how old they are. If he has a PS3, XBOX 360, or a Wii, get him a video game. There are loads of games to choose from in the $20 range. If you don't know which game to buy, get him an extra controller...or get him a subscription to GameFly. Click here.

3. Fragrances

Guys like to smell good, too. And women know which fragrances they like to smell on their man. Spray-ons like Axe or Tag are popular and inexpensive, and they now offer lines of body wash, roll-on deodorant, and hair products. Buy separately or as part of a gift set. $5-$15. Look at this.

4. Gadgets

Does he have an iphone? Get him a case for it. Does he have an ipod? Get him mini-speakers for it. $5 - $100. Try this link.

5. TV on DVD

You know which TV shows he likes. Almost any popular series is available on DVD or Blu-ray. Buy him a season of his favorite TV show so he can watch it again and again. $25-$45. This is a good site.

6. Clothing

Most guys are picky about what they wear. But if its something you really want to see him in, and you buy it for him, he'll probably wear it. If you know his size, his sense of style, and what colors he likes to wear, you can probably pick out some great additions to his wardrobe. $15-$100. Great stuff right here.

7. Spirits

Good whiskey, expensive vodka, and premium tequila are all special treats for a guy who enjoys fine spirits, poured with a mixer of his choice...or straight, on the rocks. $15-$50. Enjoy responsibly.

8. A Trip

Surprise the man in your life with a trip to Vegas, a roller coaster park, or a weekend at the beach. Hook him up with a break from the rat race. Doesn't he deserve it? Click here for fun.

9. Baked Goods

It's just like mom used to make. Only better. Because its from you. Simply break out your favorite ingredients and make him a batch of those famous cupcakes...or brownies...or cookies...or whatever it is you're good at making. From scratch is always best, but most of us need a little help from our good friend Betty Crocker. Yummy.

10. Technology

Does he have a good laptop? An HDTV? A Blu-ray player? If not...he probably wants one...Whatever the latest thing is that he doesn't's a good bet it's on his wish list. $100 and up. Check out this link for good buys.

Multi-night Discounts

Always ask for a discount if you're staying at a hotel for more than 3 nights.

If you're staying at a hotel while traveling, and you didn't have time to do research before hand -- or perhaps some unforeseen circumstance has prompted an unplanned hotel stay, always try to negotiate a discounted rate if you're staying more than 3 nights. Often times, nightly rates at a hotel can be modified. If the clerk at the front desk is unable to adjust your rate, politely ask for a manager. Most hotels are willing to work with you if it will get you to commit to a multi-night stay, particularly now, while the economy is slow and tourism and traveling are hurting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How to Book a Cheap Flight

Nobody likes to overpay when they fly, but with a little research and a little flexibility, there are quite a few ways to keep those airline ticket costs to a minimum.

Traveling on a budget? Here are some easy steps to ensure you are getting the cheapest flight possible:

1. The cheapest plane ticket you'll ever get is a free one. If you know anyone who works for an airline, they can usually get you a "buddy pass," which affords you the opportunity to fly on "stand-by," either for no cost, or for a greatly reduced price. You must have a flexible schedule to fly like this, because the buddy pass does not guarantee you a seat on any particular flight. It is especially difficult to travel with a buddy pass around the holidays, when flights are over-booked, and cancellations due to weather can fill up airports with paying passengers who get put on stand-by status. However, if you're not on a tight schedule, a buddy pass could save you a couple hundred bucks.

2. Check discount airline ticket websites. Check as many sites as you can to compare prices, departure times, and other flight details. My favorites are and . Also try,, and The more sites you check out, the better your chances are of finding the cheapest possible ticket. And, it doesn't hurt to compare ticket prices on actual airline websites. Airlines like Southwest offer great specials that might occasionally beat the discount ticket websites.

3. Unless you're buying a ticket at the last minute, take a week or two to see how airline prices fluctuate. Even over the course of just a few days, you will usually see the ticket prices go up and down a little bit. Before you buy the ticket, get a feel for how low prices might dip down. Although, if you see a ticket that's just too good to be true ($50 or $100 cheaper than other comparable flights), it's probably not a good idea to wait, because those tickets won't last long.

4. Be careful of hidden fees. Most airlines now charge a baggage fee, usually in the ballpark of $15 for the first bag, $25 for each additional bag (not counting 1 carry-on and 1 personal item). And some airlines, like AirTran, actually charge you if you want a guaranteed seat next to the person(s) you are traveling with! The charge is only $5 or $6...but that's per seat, per flight. Imagine a family of four flying round trip; that's almost an extra $50! So if you think you've found a great bargain, do your homework and check the airline's official website to find out their policies on baggage and seating fees. Also, if it's a long flight, you might want to find out how much they'll charge you for an in-flight meal. There's no such thing as a free lunch anymore.

5. If your schedule is at all flexible, in your flight-search options, experiment with departures on different days of the week. Flights that leave in the middle of the week are generally cheaper than flights departing on a weekend. And, another variable to play with is the time of day your flight is leaving. If you can sleep on a plane, or don't care if you miss a night's rest, look into a "red-eye." Overnight flights are often more affordable than morning departures, and you won't waste any good daylight hours on travel time.

6. Always check departure options at multiple airports. If you live in a major city, there are usually only one or two major international airports, and they almost always have the cheapest flights. However, on occasion, the smaller local airports will have the better bargain. In your flight-search options, there should be a box that you can check that says "Search nearby airports." If any cheap flights are found at any airport within a certain radius, they will show up on your search results.

7. Allow for connecting flights. Opting for multiple stops can greatly reduce the cost of your ticket. It can be inconvenient, and it can add hours on to your total travel time, but it might also knock $50 or $100 off the pricetag of your trip. Make sure your connecting flight doesn't leave too soon after your original flight is scheduled to touch-down. If there's less than 20 minutes between flights, there isn't a whole lot of room for error or delays. Sometimes the airline's confidence that they'll get you there in time proves to be unrealistic.

8. If you can, travel during the "off-season" months. What's considered "peak season" may vary, especially if you're traveling internationally. However, traveling around Christmas and New Year's is almost invariably expensive. Sometimes, booking a flight on the actual holiday, as opposed to around the holiday, can save you some cash. Spring break prices (March) are generally high. And in the U.S., summer time is vacation time, and that means more travelers, and thus, more demand, and thus, higher prices.

Nobody likes to overpay when they fly, but with a little research and a little flexibility, there are quite a few ways to keep those airline ticket costs to a minimum. Happy travels!

Wal-Mart Undercover: Inside Loss Prevention

Retail giant Wal-Mart is a target for crime. Find out what goes on behind the scenes to prevent shoplifting in the aisles of a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Yeah, that was me, over a decade ago: a bona-fide Wal-Mart employee. I'd don my khakis, a nice polo shirt, and Wal-Mart's trademark blue vest - nametag clipped in place over my left breast pocket - and I was ready to do some serious customer service. I worked at two different Wal-Marts over a period of two years in central Pennsylvania. And although I was ready to help customers find the DVD player of thier dreams, my smiling face didn't tell the whole story...

A few months into my Wal-Mart career, I had met a gentleman employed by Wal-Mart - he was wearing plain clothes, no blue vest - whose full-time duty was to track down thieves in our Wal-Mart supercenter. I worked in the electronics department, and CD's, DVD's, and video games were favorite targets of shoplifers, so I saw a lot of our undercover watchdog. Some of the more expensive items were kept behind locked cabinet doors, but many of the electronics items were still left out on normal, unsecured shelves.

Day after day, he would stalk suspicious customers and wait for them to stuff the store's merchandise in their pants or purse. He had to wait for them to attempt leaving the store with the items still unpaid, but then he'd nab them, grab them by the arm, and tell them to come with him. It seemed like twice a day he'd catch someone. He had seen everything from new mothers lifting their infants out of their strollers to place unpaid items under them, to groups of thugs grabbing handfuls of goods and making a run for the exit. We'd watch him escort the criminals to the back of the store, where he'd hold them for a time until the police arrived to make the prosecution official.

If one of us spotted a shady character in a particular department, we could page the undercover Wal-Mart agent by his real name, and tell him to report to that department -- only we'd say that a customer needed assistance instead of announcing over the P.A. that someone suspicious was in the store.

Once, I was interviewed by a detective about a transaction I had rung-up in the Wal-Mart electronics department. It seems a criminal had purchased a television and some other accessories with a stolen credit card. The store I was employed by was a favorite target for credit card fraud, and the detective needed to make sure it wasn't an inside job; that I hadn't deliberately helped this criminal make his purchase in exchange for a cut of the goods.The Wal-Mart corporation focused largely on "shrinkage," or "loss prevention." If you heard a Wal-Mart employee ask another if they had seen "BOB" lately...that was a code to remind that employee to check the "Bottom Of the Basket."

In other words, the employee asking the question thought that a customer was trying to steal some Wal-Mart merchandise by leaving it in the bottom of his or her shopping cart on purpose so the cashier couldn't ring it up. If the employee began talking about "LISA," she was really saying "Look InSide Always" -- telling other employees to check inside any bags or containers among the items the customer was purchasing to see if he or she was stowing away extra merchandise there.

What appeared to be the everyday world of retail was actually a web of crime, espionage, and justice. Every shopping day was an Wal-Mart Undercover.

Alien Film Invasion: The Ten Best Alien Movies of All Time

We love extraterrestrials! Check out our freaky and fantastic picks for the greatest alien movies ever...

Alien movies have been a staple of the science fiction film genre since it began. From the cute and cuddly, to the gruesome and grotesque, outer space aliens have captured our imaginations, filled us with fear, and made us re-contemplate our place in the cosmos. Here are our picks for the 10 best alien flicks ever:

1) Our first pick is the original Ridley Scott "Alien." If the title of this film isn't imaginative, then the film itself makes up for it with originality, groundbreaking effects, and an H. R. Giger-designed monster. A young Sigourney Weaver heads up the brilliant cast, which also includes Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, and John Hurt. While visiting a distant planet, the crew of the Nostromo picks up an extraterrestrial killing machine that begins terrorizing the people on board. It's as much a suspense/horror thriller as it is a science-fiction film.

2) Next is Steven Spielberg's touching alien drama, "E.T." Has anyone not seen this movie?

3) A new addition to our favorite alien movies list is the Peter Jackson produced "District 9." Shot documentary-style, this movie chronicles the arrival of an alien spacecraft, the extraction of its inhabitants, and their incarceration at a detention facility full of dilapidated shacks and shanties. It's a unique alien invasion scenario; malnourished prawn-like aliens travel many light-years across the galaxy to become oppressed by the human race.

4) Also making the list is James Cameron's "Aliens," a follow-up to the Ridley Scott film. This time Ripley finds herself in the company of a rough and tumble unit of space marines, armed to the teeth with cool weapons and tech gadgets, ready to fight their way through not just one alien this time, but a whole swarm of the vicious creatures. Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Paul Reiser join the cast for this critically-acclaimed sequel.

5) Although this film has hardly stood the test of time, we're going to have to drop another Cameron film into this list: "Avatar." Recently smashing box office records, employing brand new 3D technology, and introducing audiences to a new breed of blue extraterrestrials, this Golden Globe winner has already made its share of waves in the ocean of science-fiction filmmaking. Greedy humans begin mining operations on a distant planet, inhabited by a troublesome native population, the Na'vi. Military forces are deployed to "relocate" these aliens. Military scientists combine the DNA of human soldiers with that of the Na'vi, thus creating big, blue super-soldiers; or avatars, controlled remotely by the thought patterns of their human counterparts, of course. The avatars, bringing with them the cruel agenda of the human mining operation, intermingle with the natives. Big budget action ensues as Sam Worthington's avatar leads a rebellion against the well-armed human oppressors.

6) "Contact." Robert Zemeckis helms an adaptation of the Carl Sagan novel by the same name. The astronomy community is all aflutter after receiving a mysterious message from deep space. Jodie Foster's character, Ellie Arroway, is an astronomer at the center of all the commotion. Her foil, Palmer Joss, played by Matthew McConaughey, is a man of faith. They face-off in thought-provoking philosophical debate about God, science, and life on other planets. Pay close attention to the character named S. R. Hadden...Is he an alien?...Or is he an angel?...Or perhaps both?

7) "The Day the Earth Stood Still"(1951). Robert Wise directs. An humanoid alien, Klaatu, does his homework on planet earth to make the ultimate decision: whether it should be destroyed or not. Meanwhile, his giant robot buddy, Gort, intimidates the U.S. Army with fancy lasers that melt tanks.

8) The original "War of the Worlds"(1953) makes our list. This Oscar-winning sci-fi flick, directed by Byron Haskin, is as classic as they get. The first film adaptation of H.G. Wells' terrifying alien invasion tale is still worth a watch today. **SPOILER ALERT: Wells surmised that alien intruders would die from our common cold. Imagine how safe Earth is now we have H1N1.

9) Next up, "Lilo and Stitch." That's right, we put a Disney cartoon on this list. Full of off-beat humor and plenty of heart, it's a tale of a misfit Hawaiian girl adopting an intergalactic fugitive as a pet. The two title characters are sophisticatedly strange for a children's movie. Artfully drawn figures and beautiful renditions of Hawaiian scenery add depth and style to this quirky, Oscar-nominated film.

10) Another Spielberg movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" rounds out our top ten list. Featuring special-effects that still hold up to modern standards, this film, starring Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary, takes place in remote parts of New Mexico. Neary and others spot UFO's in the skies. Visions of a mountain and mysterious music run through Neary's head, eventually leading him to the rendezvous point where he'll meet advanced interstellar visitors.

If you love aliens as much as we do, then you've probably seen most of the movies on this list. But these are essentials, so if there's one you haven't seen, then you're missing out. Check it out today!
Animals may or may not have souls...

But this pug definitely does have some style...

And out here in Hollywoodland, that's way more important.