Friday, November 28, 2008

"Black Friday" Not So Dark After All

No matter how far down the toilet the economy goes, the American people will get up at 5am to find it.

Left: Black Friday at the King of Prussia Mall

Those of us with jobs, stocks, savings or investment accounts (this just about covers everyone) will be waiting with baited breath until 9:01am when the stock market opens on Monday. If this picture is any indication, we can relax.

As she has over the past several years, Poker Chick went to the second-largest mall in the United States to check out the state of American consumerism and report back to her readers. If a picture can tell a thousand words, this one could be an article all on its own. However, that would be a boring post, so Poker Chick will elaborate. Yay for you.

Just to give you an idea of how important this is, last year Black Friday represented 10.1% of all holiday sales. Indeed Poker Chick has observed this phenomenon at the same mall on the same day at the same time. And she can honestly say she's never seen it this crowded.

This was surprising. We expected fewer shoppers this year. Several stores resorted to the desperate measure of declaring "early" Black Friday this year. So theoretically those shoppers had already bought their gifts. Also, the news was reporting as much as 19% declines in pre-holiday sales. And of course, most of us have been assuming people would spend less this year, spend less time shopping, or just avoid the stores entirely. After all, the day after Thanksgiving shouldn't have to revolve around spending money to be enjoyable or productive. Right?

Wrong. Seems Americans are a wee bit reluctant to give up one of their favorite pastimes. And just for a little credibility here, Poker Chick is not the only one who noticed. CNN reported a "robust start" to Black Friday today. Media outlets in Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, and other states were reporting huge crowds. In Valley Stream, NY, shoppers turned Black Friday into a contact sport, stampeding a local Wal-Mart and and killing an employee in the process. And finally, many of us forgot that unpredictable variable: the non-native shopper. Foreigners were out in droves taking advantage of the sales. Some flew all the way from Australia (No, not the movie, stupid).

Maybe the great bargains succeeded in getting people to shop after all. Many stores apparently decided the standby phrase "ONE DAY BLOWOUT SALE!" wasn't persuasive enough, and put out the most exaggerated descriptors they could think of to attract customers.

Right: Old Navy screams savings, in case you missed it.

So, let's say it worked. Will the volume of shoppers make up for the revenue loss from all this discounting? Who knows. We'll all find out when we read the news tomorrow. In the meantime, PC predicts the hemmorhaging of the market will slow down. Well, at least temporarily. This will buy us some time to review our purchases and think up as many synonyms as we can for "inflation".

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Poker Chick is a writer, mother, and avid shopper from New York.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, Chapter 2: More Road Rage

It was the same routine for 10 years. Drive one hour to a farm in the middle of nowhere, have a huge Thanksgiving feast, drive back when it was dark.

Today was no different except when backing out of the long, wet, manure-filled driveway, the passenger-side door suddenly swung open. We swear Poker Chick had slammed it shut when she got in. But there it was, open all the way without warning. Poker husband tried to slam on the brakes but it took a second or two and in those moments he kept backing up. Ordinarily, this would have been fine, except the now open door was stuck in a pile of mud on the side of the driveway. So when the car moved back, the door moved forward.

We hope Poker Chick does not need to tell you this is not a good situation to be in. Only Poker Chick could get into a car accident without even getting on the road.

Half an hour later PC was transferring a screaming mini with her car seat and ton of stuff to a relative's car while Poker husband waited several hours for a tow truck and a giant bill.

Speaking of giant bills, tomorrow is Black Friday. We can't wait to see what that day will bring. Intelligent readers will note the sarcasm.

Thanksgiving, Chapter 1: Road Rage

It started off the same way as the holiday does for any typical New Yorker:

1 1/2 hours of gridlock. And then she got out of the city.

The irony was that the moment that PC had decided to give up and go home and leave Thursday morning instead, she found herself stuck in a tunnel-only lane and ended up in New Jersey. She took one look at the same 1 1/2 hour of gridlock going into the city and knew she was committed to heading south.

Some 4 hours later, with a hungry and cranky mini and her even crankier mother, they decided to pull off and get some dinner. Of course, peeps with kids who can eat anything (grr, jealous much?), could have just pulled off at any kid-friendly restaurant and been fine. But PC couldn't. She needed a place she knew was safe. And in the middle of nowhere the answer to that is a chain restaurant you've eaten at safely. No other place will do, because the last thing you want to do with a cranky group is try and talk to a busy maitre d's about food allergies. Everyone loses patience and that's too risky. So she found herself on the blackberry with google maps trying to find a Bertucci's in the dark. 57 wrong turns later she finally found it and everyone cheered.

Thus, 5 hours and 21 minutes after leaving New york, they finally made it to their destination 100 miles away. Turns out they won't be returning in the same rental car, but that's tomorrow's chapter....

Fashion and Function

This is a really interesting article on fashion accessories that have arisen to help kids and parents carry their epipens with less embarrassment.

Interesting. For what it's worth, Poker Chick used to use a ziploc, but now uses a "black patent" mini bag. It came inside this bag she started using as her "diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag" on weekends. Fits snacks, clothes and mommy things. But the best part is the tiny bag inside the bag which is about the size of a wristlet. It's big enough to hold an epipen and benadryl and small enough to hold nothing else.

So that little "bag within a bag" gets moved from "diaper bag" to "purse" to "Poker husband's pocket". You always know where the epipen is.

Now, we know you were just dying to know all that, weren't you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Follies...a.k.a. What You Really Need To Know To Survive

Poker Chick would like to wish all her readers a Happy Thanksgiving and invites everyone to share their own "Thanksgiving Follies".

Continued from previous post....

The ill-fated haircut was part of a necessary annual "get ready for Thanksgiving" prep. A few whirlwind days filled with in-laws, friends of in-laws, meeting new people, and trying to remember a whole heck of a lot of names unsuccessfully. Well-meaning and nice as everyone may be, it still results in overwhelming noise, claustrophobia, and whole lot of name-forgetting embarrassments ("nice to see you again.....er....you...."). And we won't even begin to describe the great feats of gymnastics that are required for a clumsy person to navigate a giant buffet table in a small room. And we're talking about the good china, peeps.

This year has added complications where a big engagement party was added to the festivities. A practical and nice idea, no doubt. But we've just upped the ante significantly by adding introductions to a whole slew of people Poker Chick has never met before.....in their fancy clothes. So now Miss Manners is thrown into the three-day chaos, someone Poker Chick is not exactly "intimate" with.

Finally, let's not forget the mini. Put an overtired, overstimulated three-year old into a loud room with no other kids and thirty adults she doesn't remember who want to pinch her cheeks and kiss her and you have......one exhausted mother*. On top of that there's the issue of how to keep your kid safe in what is traditionally a pecan, walnut, and egg-infested meal.

So, peeps. Are we stressed yet?

If you can relate to any part of this, you probably realize that in situations like these a person needs to come equipped with some mojo. An advantage to tip the scales. And who among us couldn't use some of that?

Thus, we bring you the Poker Chick three-step-strategy:

  1. Carry a lifeline (i.e. cellphone) at all times.

  2. Know your weaknesses and use your assets to compensate. (For example, a great memory for names is not one of Poker Chick's core competencies. However, bribing someone with baked goods is a great strategy for diverting attention away from this!)

  3. Look your best. Even if you don't feel your best, hey, no one will know! (We must caveat: stay within your comfort zone. "Look your best" can mean haircuts and shoppers for some. It can also mean a two-second swipe of lipstick for others. For others it just means wash your hair that day. You know who you are.)

Of course the three-step strategy isn't foolproof. For example, PC would need the discipline not to consume food or drink at said party in order to maintain the illusion of grace. But that's another post entirely.....

__________________________

*ok, and father.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Toto, what happened to my brain!?

Tomorrow, we will slowly move on from discussing hair, makeup, jeans and boys (otherwise known as Poker Chick: the shallow phase) and attempt to resume discussions on semi-intelligent matters.

Stay tuned....

It's in the Jeans, Man

Poker Chick is a fan of fashion but likes to think she's not a slave to it. There's a time to splurge, a time to buy knock-offs, and a time to just say nooo. Thus, when new trends come out, she doesn't rush to follow them just because they're "cool". But sometimes, a chick gets sucked in.

Cue skinny jeans.

For years, PC has spoken out against them. They should be banned. The laws of physics mean they can't possibly look good on anyone who's not a tall thin supermodel. Skinny jeans are totally unflattering to 99.9% of the population. Sure, you can "hide" them with fake names such as "pencil" "cigarette" and "slim" but they're all just variations of the traditional skinny jean.

Why, you ask? Let's go over the anatomy of a woman, starting at the waist: the narrowest part of the torso. Go down to the hips and you have to move wider. With good jeans, the silhouette goes straight down or even flared from the hips, making the woman seem narrower. With skinny jeans, the ankles are narrow, accentuating a woman's middle. Pear-shape, muffin top, love handles, whatever your problem it's all hanging out there for the world to see. Do we really want our clothes to yell" "Hey, world! Look at me! Check out the mom hips!"

No. We don't. So not hot. Hence our aversion to "mom jeans". Which is why Poker Chick can not comprehend why this skinny jean trend is still in fashion.

Of course, with skinny jeans come boots. And this girl just got a cute pair that she can't smoosh her favorite jeans into and still zip up. And really, what's the point of the cute boots if no one can see them?

Thus, at the end of a bitterly cold Wednesday, Poker Chick found herself in a NYC boutique forking over a credit card in exchange for a pair of the latest "must have" skinny jeans.

Look away, peeps. We are so very ashamed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Sliding Scale of Pretentious

Friday Poker Chick made an appointment to get her hair cut and arranged a time to meet with her personal shopper to find work and cocktail party attire.

Saturday, sitting in the stylist's chair, sipping the herbal tea they brought her, she felt a sudden need to protest that this is not nearly as pretentious as it sounds.

The universe must have disagreed because as soon as she began walking home the heavens opened up and she found her newly cut and blown out hair caught in a massive downpour. Said blowout - ruined.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coffee Talk

Poker Chick taking a screenwriting class is an outrageous idea. Discuss!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And Now, For a Video Break....

The peeps at Alltop show us just how cool their site is. And we're not just saying that because we're on it!

Who loves James Bond? We do!

We're posting a link to this post on MamaPop about Daniel Craig as James bond. Because he is one hot mother-f-ing bad-ass. And need we remind you he plays a mean game of poker?

And while we're at it, Don Draper (who this article also mentions) is pretty droolworthy as well. Both are on this chick's "list". Who's on yours?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just When You Were About To Write Off Your Day As Terrible

The conversation went like this:

Mommy?
(whispering in the dark, drifting off to sleep)
Yes? (lying down on the floor next to mini as she drifts off to sleep)
What are you going to dream about? (Note: mini never talks about dreams)
That's an excellent question. What are you going to dream about?
I'm going to dream about you!
That's a wonderful idea. Well then I'll dream about you too! What will we be doing in our dream?
Playing....(big smile, voice fades out, her eyes close...)

Yup. This totally makes up for the twenty-seven time outs we endured together this weekend.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Clumsiness runs in the family

Hello!

Welcome to a special guest blog by....Poker Chick Brother!

So...clumsiness runs in the family. If you are an avid reader of Poker Chick's blog, then you are no stranger to her follies. Although, I am much more athletic (and smooth) than Poker Chick, I too have my bouts with clumsiness - yes me! For those of you who know this anonymous writer it may be hard to believe, but let me dazzle you with short anecdote.

Yesterday:

8:27 am - I fumbled through my pocket to take out my wallet (to retrieve my subway ticket) and said wallet fell in a f-ing puddle!

8:28 am - As I bent down to extract my Italian leather wallet from the muddy puddle...my belt broke - I mean really broke, the buckle flew off and my pants began to sag...

8:29 am - While fumbling through the station in order to catch the departing subway I sneaked in at the last moment but unfortunately someone forgot to tell the door as it slammed with all its might against my manly (albeit rattled) physique

8:31 am - The combination of PC Brother being shaken up, a crowded subway and sudden braking caused me to fall flat on my face!

This succession of events proves, that despite popular belief, Poker Chick Brother is clumsy too...

I guess it must run in the family!


PS - Stay tuned for PC Brother's blog - BTW, in case you were wondering this guest entry is a ruse to steal away PC's readers - kinda of like a Dr. Phil / Oprah situation.....:-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Parenting Just Got Harder

The email came around 3pm today. Lice. We must inspect the mini. Can anyone tell Poker Chick what to look for and how to deal with this delightful new phase in parenting? In the meantime, Poker Chick is scratching her head.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vegas calls Obama! You heard it here first!

In case y'all were wondering, Vegas odds on Obama/McCain are 11-to-2. It seems people have shifted to bet on the longshot - no, not McCain - but Obama getting 370+ electoral votes. That's the "in" bet these days. However, it should be noted that Vegas has a historically poor record of predicting the outcome of Presidential elections.

Therefore, Poker Chick has just told you nothing of value.

Your Civic Duty

I voted on my way to work this morning. I was bummed not to get a pin or sticker. Being too selfish to settle for the "self-satisfaction of participating in the democratic process" I treated myself to a nice hot chocolate.

GO VOTE!!!! And be sure to check out the results below. OK, or on any "real" news network.

I won't tell you how to vote or who to vote for. Just do it, peeps.