Posts Tagged ‘blue sky journeys’

I know it ain’t Tuesday. I know I didn’t give you anything on Friday either. I know, if you follow my other blog, Falling From Grace, I haven’t dropped anything in a couple weeks. I have a reason: I have bigger things to focus on.

And that’s what we get to talk about today.

One of the most popular series of the posts on this blog was about a couple of jackasses from Tennessee who decided to dog the shit out of my wife…and then defraud a bunch of little girls. You might remember them. You also might remember I said I wouldn’t do another post about them—and I’m not—because they have real charges and they have kids and things were getting serious for them. So I won’t talk about how they are the dumbest criminals ever. I won’t talk about how your girl went on a Disney cruise while under bond, without the bond company’s permission and now it looks like she’s fleeing. I won’t discuss your boy not only being unable to retain an attorney (after 2 continuances), but also being detained (read arrested—again) for non-payment of child support for another child. I won’t talk about how he went into court yesterday bullshittin about his lack of attorney and ended up getting transported from Franklin to Memphis by a fugitive task force.

And while this is funny…

John2

…seriously, you can forward any correspondence to his current address at 201 Poplar, the Shelby County jail in Memphis—it has a sad side too. There are real victims in this: children and single mothers and dancers and agents.

There are bigger things to consider.

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary. I’d love to say the 4 years of marriage and the 5 years that preceded it were magic. Yeah, that would be a damn lie. Have they been easy? Hell no! Have they been worth it? Hell yes! In those 9 years, I’ve moved across country, tried to be a parent to two kids I didn’t create, tried to be a good husband to a woman who’s seen the darker sides of life. I’ve tried to build myself as a man, a professional, and an author. I’ve watched friends come and go, had some family members stand by me and others shit on my relationship. I’ve been embraced by my kids and played to the curb by them on the same day.

What I’ve learned over the last 9 years is it’s the bigger things that matter. Marriages don’t work on their own. Children don’t become positive, contributing members of society by themselves. We don’t realize our potential and become the people we’re meant to be through osmosis. My friends in Tennessee, on all sides of this equation, are working to be where they are. They are working to avoid their responsibilities, working to get over on someone else…or working to make sure a child flourishes in spite of who her father is.

The last 9 years have been work—and today, on our anniversary, we’re working now. Last night, I spent the evening counseling my daughter on how to handle her first note from a boy, talking with my son’s girlfriend about how to approach the teenage pregnancy of a classmate, working with my wife on how to get out of debt and finally buy a house. It’s work.

The bigger things always are.

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.

Then:

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!

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

Swoapcharges

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!

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. http://www.blueskyjourneys.com/agents#!__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: http://www.fantasyanddreams.com/#c20z

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: http://cruising.org/vacation/agencyfinder

BSJ CLIA

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!

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!

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.”

Hmm.

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 blueskyjourneys.com, 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?

Nope.

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:

FADE IN:

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

DEEP-VOICE NARRATOR:

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

CUT TO:

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.

DANCE MOM 1:

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

CLERK

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

CUT TO:

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

TRAVEL AGENT

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

CUT TO:

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.

DETECTIVE 1:

Well, how much are they in for?

DETECTIVE 2:

Looks like at least $60,000.

DETECTIVE 1 (grabbing cuffs):

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

CUT TO:

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...

This has gotten entirely too easy. But seriously, one of us has to be the adult. It’s a sad day when it’s me.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the witty repartee between John and me, there comes a point when it has to end. When there’s really not much more to say. I thought we’d reached that point already. I actually thought it was a yesterday when I was graced with a super-fantastic voicemail. Apparently not. Ridiculousness apparently knows no bounds. And it doesn’t sleep. This morning I woke up to this:

John Dec 30

Somewhere in the posturing is an appeal to end the nonsense. There really is. Can you see it? It’s at the end. The problem is it’s at the end. After the 2500 word threat. After the intent to haul me to Tennessee (which you know is on the dark side of the moon) TWICE. And take the unemployment I’m not on. And take the disability I don’t receive. Thing is, you can’t garnish disability or unemployment…but whatever. He did say I’m funny though and that warms my heart. That said, don’t be surprised if you see a PayPal donation widget for my legal fund.

I actually spent all day ruminating on this—and watching the Vikings make the playoffs (though AP was 9 YARDS AWAY from the rushing record) and doing laundry and clipping toenails. Then I wrote this:

My Response Dec 30

Look at that. All I want, all my wife wants, is a simple apology. Say you’re fucking sorry. That’s it. That’s all. Man up, put your big-girl-panties on and apologize. Till then, guess what’s on heavy rotation?

BSJ’s Greatest Hits

Remember when one of Amanda’s emails said someone got called retarded? Here’s what that actually looks like:

Yvonne-1

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Remember when they fired a planner on Facebook? Here’s how you make them feel extra special:

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What you are looking at is a pattern of behavior, a way of engaging in the public discourse. Problem is it’s inappropriate. Some people have to learn the hard way. In the end, the lesson here is, when someone asks you to shut up, you should shut up.

Somebody told me, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink…but you can salt their oats!” That was pretty good. I also like this: “I’m a man of my word.” – The Joker, The Dark Knight

And then…they came back!

I really didn’t want to do this. Really. I actually have other stuff to focus on. It’s the end of the year, I’m supposed to be writing a book, my Vikings are trying to make the playoffs, there’s laundry to do, toenails to clip. I got shit to do. So this is me telling everyone that I am going be done. I have to be.

But not today!

Look at you—you got a little sad, didn’t you? I swear this is the gift that keeps on giving. And given this holiday season, I’m happy to receive. What you’re seeing below is a comment left by our good friend, John Swoap. He left it yesterday (after the phone call) on Part II and…I pulled it. It wasn’t because of the content (I mean seriously, look at what has been said already). It’s because of the debate. This isn’t Meet the Press: both sides don’t have to be equally represented. Again, my house, my rules. But there’s this whole thing about my balls…so here is the comment in its entirety and it’s also visible on Part II:

Commentary

That said, you know I can’t just let it lie, right? And since we have to have Point/Counterpoint, we’re going to break it down Fact Check style:

So am I Leslie (in response to Leslie waiting for Part 3). I wish I was as smart as these two think they are. Soliciting people who work for me.

Fact Check: She actually never “solicited” anyone (that’s illegal, except in Nevada and on some farms in Tennessee). When asked where she was going after she quit, Amanda simply told those that asked. A few then asked for additional information and Amanda offered. It was also publicly displayed on her Facebook fan page.

Outright lying in the letter she posted to every employee, breaching her contract on four different areas.

Fact Check: Outright lying? Pot called the kettle what? It’s tough to lie on a screenshot. For every last word written, there is an email, screen shot or document to back it up. I know the real issue is the Reply All: if you don’t want your business in the street, don’t email the world. Those contract issues that you have with her contract that ended on 12/6/12, should be taken up directly with the attorney’s office.

Get your reading in now folks, this blog will be coming down in a matter of a few weeks. You see, no matter how eloquent Chris Starr thinks he is, obviously doesn’t understand contract law.  

Fact Check: Oh my God! John complimented me! I’m twitterpated! But real talk, he’s right: contract law is not my forte. I actually don’t have my JD. However, for contract law to apply to me, wouldn’t I have to have a contract with you? Isn’t that a key component? Notice who has been conspicuously absent from this conversation is Amanda—she hasn’t said shit. I am simply publicizing emails to a personal account on my computer and voicemail on a phone that I pay for. “Get your reading in now, folks, this blog will be coming down…” This is fantastic! Funny thing about the First Amendment: it works even when you don’t like what somebody says. If that was the case, Fox News would be a distant memory.

What he also fails to mention is that is wife contacted planners of mine for handouts because (there was no money for Christmas), the money we advanced to their family when we were told they had no gas money to get from the hospital and back home, the opportunity we GAVE her and the way she calculated a way to piss on everything that was handed to her on a platter.

Fact Check: This is my favorite part. Amanda NEVER contacted anyone for handouts. She did ask for a commission that was due to her for a client that had traveled and Disney had paid BSJ for. That’s not a handout; that’s payment. That was the only time she ever asked for her commission prior to her check being mailed. Amanda never asked for a gift basket. I didn’t ask for a gift basket (but I should have asked for an alternator). Melanie Swoap talked to me about a gift basket for Amanda. When my wife figured out something was happening, she emailed Melanie and said “if you’re doing something, don’t do it for me. Send gift cards for the kids since Christmas is going to be hard.” Health care reform or not, cancer and surgery are fucking expensive! Melanie’s gift basket that the planners gave to was more than generous and Amanda was thankful and thrilled. She has actually boxed it up though to send it back since BSJ is being so nasty about it calling her ungrateful and faking surgery for attention.

Amanda did not destroy company property (there are actually screenshots for this too). She made website changes and believed they were in a draft state and have not gone live. She had planned to go over these changes with the owners, however the next morning she received and email telling her not to make any more changes. She abided and profusely apologized since she didn’t know they went live due to a change in the Wix settings. This is the only mistake Amanda made. Neither John nor Melanie would answer her calls or emails for the next 5 days to discuss. You know the rest. Again, emails, phone logs and records will prove all of this.

Were we angry? Yes. Did we handle everything the way we should have? No. Facts are facts. I left a nasty voice mail after receiving phone calls from Disney about irate clients who were not informed by the professional Amanda Bell Starr that they would not receive all of their money back when she canceled their reservations to move them to another agency. Not that it was a big deal financially, she, she was mediocre at best at selling and had racked up a whopping $9721, but I had to deal with Disney Travel Company for her professionalism.

Fact Check: See, you can’t say “facts are facts” and then invent your own. This little passage is an excellent example of “truthiness” but not exactly the truth. The voicemail was left on 12/8/12 … 5 minutes after Amanda’s first email response to Melanie (see part 1 of this series). The client that was upset about her deposit contacted Disney on 12/10/12, therefore the voicemail was left PRIOR to the upset client. (Oooooohhh busted!) The truth part: that client was upset about her deposit but the matter was resolved by Disney directly and her existing reservation canceled as she wanted. This client is not upset with Amanda at all: she is happily booked with Disney now for a magical vacation. (Better not add planner on the end of this sentence or I can be sued trademark infringement huh?) Curses, foiled again!

Unprofessional? John Swoap is giving lessons in professionalism? Ooo-kay. Since she is so unprofessional, all but one family chose to cancel their reservations when she told them she was quitting because they didn’t want to be without her. Why is that if she was so unprofessional? Hmm. The sales thing is fluid too, huh? Whether its $12 or $12,000, she works on commission, right? And it was actually over $21K—the fact that you don’t know that is problematic, wouldn’t you say? You’re making yourself look bad now…

The emails he posted were sent back and forth, but what he again fails to mention, is that the letters and emails that came from Amanda contained lies designed to cause discord among our other planners. I own my mistakes, Chris. Why don’t you ask your wife to own the fact that she is a liar, a scammer and below average in intelligence proven by the fact that neither of you have thought through the ramifications that this blog will bring on you and your family.

Fact Check: I’m generally not a detail-oriented guy. I’m really not. I’m more of a big picture type of person. But there is one little detail that seems to be overlooked: the date stamp. See our friend John seems to forget that THEY started this. This would be a non-issue if her resignation was simply accepted and outstanding commission paid. End of story. But I get it, that divisive Amanda! Making you leave stupid ass voicemails, huh? That scamming broad, sending messages to your staff calling herself a pill-popping alcoholic! That lying ass! Calling people retarded! And if she was so below intelligence and needed a helmet, why the hell a) hire her and b) promote her to a managerial position? The stupidity seems one-sided, partner.

As a father, it is your JOB to protect them but you want to throw them into the fire. As a business owner and a father, it is my job to protect my family as well. You don’t have the money to fight me, you don’t have the knowledge to know what you have stepped into and I bet you don’t have balls to leave this comment up for everyone to read.

Fact Check: “You don’t have the money to fight me.” Maybe, maybe not. What I do have is the ability to add and subtract. Let’s talk math for a second. Let’s say you do $1M in sales (for shits and giggles), Blue Sky Journeys receives approximately 10% commission from Disney on that, right? That’s about $100,000, right? Respectable. But then you pay your planners a portion of that for their commissions. Uh oh, pot’s getting slender. My point here is you should probably re-evaluate that statement. You have no idea what we have in our back pocket let alone bank account. Again, we’ll welcome any letter from your attorney.

“You don’t have the knowledge to know what you have stepped into.” This coming from a pair that made this hit.  I think I’ll be alright.

And the balls thing…c’mon dude. That’s too easy for me.

There you have it, folks.

Stay tuned for the Greatest Hits edition later today:

  • John’s email to an ex-planner calling her “despicable”
  • John’s email to Chris this morning. Yep–this morning.
  • John defending his wife by fighting with a potential client of Amanda’s on facebook.
  • And the hits keep coming….

Here I was, actually working on my latest post when I received a rare—and utterly delightful—call from the main antagonist in this little melodrama: Big John Swoap. I got butterflies. Really, it was spectacular: I started out a muthafucka and ended up a son of a bitch. Not sure how my mother would feel about that last one but to say I am honored is an understatement. Who knew they read my blog?

I’ll give you a quick rundown of that call (this is like late-breaking news) but then I have to get back to the story (this jackass is screwing up my continuity). So I’m minding my own business, going over the next batch of emails that I want to share with the world when Amanda’s phone rings. “Look who’s calling,” she says. “It’s Blue Sky Journeys!”

“Why could they be calling me?” I’m thinking. “It’s like 10 o’clock on Saturday night for them.”

I grab the phone, put on my bravest voice (because I am so excited), “Hello.”

“It’s John Swoap. How ya doing, motherfucker?” This, by far, is the best opening I have ever had to an argument. Ever. It was nice, cordial, and ended with a cut.

Me: “I’m grand.”

BJS: “Grand, huh? You’re not gonna be. You’re not going to be able to put food on your table when I get finished with you.”

Me: “We can’t eat? Why can’t we eat?”

BJS: “I am going to break you! You’re not going to be able to eat, muthafucka. You’re going to have to come to Tennessee, which I know you can’t afford (because my bank statements are routed to Tennessee), and then, while you’re here, we’re going to continue to case so you’re going to have to come back. Which I know you can’t afford. Five Hundred Grand, you sack of shit!”

I have never actually been called a sack of shit. I’ve been told I wasn’t shit but never been a whole sack of it. Is that the preferred quantity for purchasing and/or moving shit? In sacks? And here’s where I would offer a note: if you want me to stop saying stuff, to actually stop repeating the shit you say, perhaps you should stop talking. Just sayin.

Anyway, I’m just going with it, trying to be as nice as possible (cuz I’m so boosted that he called! Now I know how teenage girls feel…). The deal is that I threatened him that I was going to publicize everything (which should be a clue to stop talking), that I threatened him when I said I wanted to kick his ass (you’ll see that part below), and that there is breach of contract. Breach of contract? I never actually worked for Blue Sky Journeys. Suffice it to say we’re not going to be BFFs. And I am really broken up about it.

But I gotta get back to the story.

And there is actually more. I know…I couldn’t believe it either.

Quick recap (because I have even more stuff today): Amanda was working for a Disney vacation planning agency called Blue Sky Journeys when she received a Cease and Desist letter from an attorney regarding a trademark issue. Between that and some other unsavory business practices, she decides to cut her losses and move on to another agency. This doesn’t go over well. At all. The owners, Melanie and John Swoap kick out a series of fucked up emails (where they call my wife a pill-popping alcoholic, a bitch and a thief) and then do a drunk Captain and Tennille routine on her voicemail.

These folks are freaking awesome. But not so bright. Because, despite numerous requests to simply shut the fuck up, they keep the party going and here we are.

Now, everything you’ve read so far is from DAY ONE. One day! All that nonsense in one day. When Amanda sent her last email copying her business attorney, everybody shut up for the night. The next day, there’s this brief exchange:

John Response Dec 9

Amanda Response Dec 9

And then:

John Nice

What? Somebody wants to play nice? It’s about time, right? Add a little civility to this conversation and everyone can go back to their respective corners and be done. So Amanda sends her conciliatory email as well and we go about our day.

And if that was all, this would suck for a Part 3, wouldn’t it? Instead, she gets the email below. For the record, because this was a response email, I changed the font color to red for everything from my man:

John to PlannersAmanda wasn’t actually supposed to get this email.  If you are going to talk shit about somebody via email, someone who used to work for you, you should probably TURN OFF THEIR EMAIL! Seriously. Amanda got this email because they sent a message to all the planners and copied her on an email about her because folks can’t figure how to disable an email address.

But nobody responds and Sunday proves to be largely uneventful. Monday, December 10, though, is an entirely different thing. On Monday, Amanda was awakened by a call at 7am from a client, talking about “Why are these people calling me?” Then another client. Then an advertising partner. They were calling her clients and advertisers disparaging her to them. Actually calling her a “fuck up.” You stay classy, San Diego.

At some point, this nonsense has to stop, right? My wife has gotten a plethora of emails from the Great State of Tennessee (center of America), she’s getting copied on emails talking about her, her clients are getting calls, Disney is actually calling here…and again, this is because she quit her job. I can’t imagine why… So I finally break my own silence and script this PHENOMENAL email:

You Should Stop

The initial response is to be reminded that “hey, I decided to be good.” I remind him that he wasn’t:

You Should Stop Response 1

Chris Stop Response

Then he encourages me to test him. That wasn’t smart…

John Stop Final

Well, there it is. The rubber has met the road, folks. Because now John and I are talking man to man and there are legal threats flying and everything else. And we would have been good if he wouldn’t have asked me not to publish ONE THING. That’s actually how we got here: it was a dare, wasn’t it? Isn’t that what you saw?

Since that lovely conversation, things were quiet. Until today. Apparently there is internet in Tennessee and folks saw my little blog today. To say they are unhappy is an understatement. Livid is probably the best word. I gave you the recap earlier and tomorrow, we’ll be doing a greatest hits album! I have:

• The comment that just got posted to my blog
• The argument currently ensuing on YouTube
• Remember that planner that got fired for posting about who she was voting for? She’s “despicable” and you get to see the Facebook post

And you better check all this stuff out now because when Big John secures his attorney my blog is coming down…at least that the latest threat.

“This shit’s chess, it ain’t checkers!” – Training Day

I told you I’d be back. I told you there was more Tennessee-sponsored stupidity, didn’t I? Are you excited? Are you on the edge of your seat, waiting with eager anticipation at what nonsense I can present today? I know I am. But for those of you clowns who didn’t tune in yesterday, here is your obligatory recap:

A lil bit ago, my wife joined a fledgling travel agency selling fairy-themed vacations for pirate-themed prices. She was happy. The agency was happy. Things were good. Until my friendly neighborhood mail lady dropped off a certified letter with a Cease and Desist for using her agency’s logo (apparently you should do a trademark search before you launch a business, huh?) Combined with a series of questionable activities by our Blue Sky Journey friends—I’m talking shit like calling someone a retard because they didn’t like the idea of fucking Cars Land in Disney World (this is a real argument. I feel extra stupid for even saying that out loud) or firing someone ON FACEBOOK for posting about not voting for Mitt Romney (the election returns say she was not alone), or being Master-level assholes—the letter was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So my wife quit.

Wrote a nice little letter, asked for her outstanding money, and moved on to another agency. And then, our grammatically-challenged country bumpkins got all Alex Forrest on her and started leaving uber-professional correspondence. When I was a claims adjuster, I was told to never write something that I wouldn’t want to see as a headline somewhere. Somebody didn’t get that memo.

When we left our intrepid vacation planner, she’d quit her job, received a semi-pro acceptance of her resignation, then was honored with a hillbilly threat letter. She fired back with a bullet-pointed response and we join this cyber dispute, already in progress.

Amanda’s TPS Report-style response to Tennessee madness went over like a fart in church. Like that fat chick in the choir’s fart. Not only did she substantiate her claims, she used spell-check and greater than 8th grade vernacular. And she copied every member of the Blue Sky Journeys crew. And you know nothing says “you know, this is probably enough. Let’s just pay this chick and be done” like a voicemail. FYI: those 4 rings and the greeting are your opportunity to reconsider. Our friends didn’t take that opportunity. Instead, they left Amanda this:

That. Really. Happened. That’s right, folks, you’re listening to the musical stylings of Melanie and John Swoap. I have it on MP3 if anybody wants to add it to your iTunes playlist. You know you do.

OK but somebody in that shop had a couple pieces of common sense because Melanie fired off this little missive to absolve her of any responsibility. But you did just hear her, right?

Melanie I Will Not Respond

Betrayal? Seriously? It’s Disney Vacation Planning, not The Godfather. You drop that drunk ass voicemail and then try to act like you’re the bigger person? Whatever. But that common sense stuff must only apply to one of them because Big John Stud let this fly when nobody commented on his super-eloquent voicemail:

John Post VoicemailAs you can tell, these cats really want us to come to Tennessee. I mean, Seriously. Like they work for the Board of Tourism. But now things are getting funny. I mean, the only response to someone who leaves you a litany of messages like that is to fuck with them, right? I mean these folks spent an entire day mad because Amanda quit. We hung Christmas lights and baked cookies. But might as well keep it going…

Amanda Response Voicemail

Let me tell you what, Have A Magical Day is NOT going over well. But my friends, the question becomes, “How much is enough?” At what point would any of you say, “You know, it’s really time to be done”? I thought it was 3 email conversations ago. Definitely when everybody said, “Stop talking or it’s harassment.” But Tennessee lives by the Bad Boy Can’t Stop Won’t Stop motto and DMFRH won’t shut up! John gives us another email and raises the name calling accusations to include “thief.” Thief. I already stated you have a substance abuse problem (pill-popping alcoholic) and an attitude problem (bitch) but you’re a criminal too. Check it out:

John Escalation

My man is obviously campaigning for the Jackass of the Year Award and he’s playing to win! And you might notice, he’s copying all the other planners too. Just a note: the word is CORROBORATE!  There are fucking Rs in that word! But I digress. So Amanda decides it’s best to close it out with a nice little legal definition, a recap and a forward to her business attorney.

Amanda FinalThat shut everybody up…but only for the night.

That means, boy and girls, that there is even more before we get to the end of our story—I haven’t even said anything to my man at all. So swing back by tomorrow for the conclusion of this episode of Dis MuthaFucka Right Here.