Watch This, Not That: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel vs. Demonic

According to Google, the definition of ‘horror’ is “an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust” which simultaneously explains, and somehow does not explain, why there are so many shitty movies lumped into this genre on Netflix. It’s tough to find good horror these days, at least something that’s not brought to us by the news anyway. It just so happens I do not watch the news. It also just so happens that the news watches me because this week’s Watch This is a documentary on a story that made national headlines.

This past week, Netflix released a 4-part documentary called Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel which detailed the disappearance of a young tourist named Elisa Lam. I’d actually heard of this case before, not from the news (thank God) but from my favorite YouTube channel, Top5s. About 6 years ago, one of their videos featured the footage of Elisa Lam in an elevator that shocked the interwebs. When I first saw it, it creeped me out. You see, Elisa Lam was a woman who traveled from Canada to L.A., found herself staying at the infamous Cecil Hotel which is where she was last seen. After she was reported missing, video surveillance captured Elisa in one of the elevators looking paranoid and frightened. That was the last anyone saw her until she was discovered more than 2 weeks later in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

Prior to the discovery of what actually happened to her (she climbed in herself which was most likely brought on by her mental illness), the story itself was something out of a true horror film. In fact, some people compared it to the 2005 film Dark Water. Those people would be conspiracy theorists who decided it was their job to find out (i.e. make up) what happened to Elisa Lam. They would also be the same people who helped pin it on someone who’d never even met Elisa Lam, causing that individual to basically give up a part of his life because of the harassment, helping this documentary land in the ‘horror’ genre thanks to that one tidbit of this story being absolutely disgusting. In fact, the scariest part of this documentary is the incredible amount of people who could afford to spend countless hours investigating Elisa Lam’s case, making it difficult at times for actual investigators to do actual investigating.

Then there’s the former GM of the hotel who gives off serious American Horror Story: Hotel vibes – she plays a great villain. The entire documentary is weird and while it’s definitely a shocker of a story, it’s more tragic than anything. The Cecil Hotel is worth Googling as it’s actually pretty disturbing. However, the only reason you should watch the documentary is to understand what mental illness can do to a person as well as understand how much of a tool you’ll look like if you spread conspiracy theories – particularly ones you made up – about a subject matter that effects millions of people.

Coincidentally, this week’s “don’t watch” is a movie based on demonic possession which some are more than ok with classifying as mental illness. Demonic is about a bunch of amateur ghost hunters (what else?) attempt to become professional ghost hunters by venturing into a house where a mass murder took place with a goal of raising the dead. As you may have figured out, the majority of them die because one of them gets possessed but actually he’s dead and it’s his girlfriend who is possessed but not for real her, her baby is possessed.

Other than that stellar description I just provided, here’s why you shouldn’t watch it: as with most terrible horror films, we’re never told or given any sort of inclination as to what and/or who is possessing people. It could be the devil. It could be something pretending to be the devil. It could be a picture frame. Who knows? Not the screenplay writer, that’s for sure. I give it one star and that’s only because Dustin Milligan, AKA Ted from Schitt’s Creek, is in it.

The state of my mind on Mardi Gras during a snow storm

Texans are not equipped for the current conditions we are facing. Snow is nothing more than a faint dream to us. We don’t dream of a white Christmas, we dream of a not-hot one. So when this snow storm hit, we were ill-prepared at best. It’s the Hunger Games at our local grocery stores. People aren’t driving so much as they are gliding to their destinations. Electricity is out in several parts of the city and throughout the state and our water is frozen. FROZEN.

Obviously, only essential businesses are open, like Target because people need to buy pool floats so they can play in the snow. It’s snowmageddon here in Texas and even though I work from home and my electricity is working so my daily schedule really isn’t that affected, I still can’t think clearly. There are too many distractions such as a story I read about another gender reveal party gone bad where 2 idiots used a cannon to find out what they were having.

Call me boring but what happened to the days of just asking the doctor what you’re having and then putting it on an invitation and asking for presents? Every gender reveal is one one-upping contest after another and quite frankly it’s annoying. Kids these days already think they’re special for absolutely no reason at all. Wait until they hear that their parents burnt down an entire city just to announce they’re having a boy. That’s not someone I’d want as a boss.

Anyway, I’m over gender reveal parties and the people trying to go viral with theirs. So, I invented something that will allow people to find out the sex of their child AND celebrate Mardi Gras. You can thank my cabin fever for this.

I give you:

THE KING (SOLOMON) CAKE

The King Solomon Cake is like any king cake. Except this is the gender reveal version so whoever gets the baby is King Solomon and they have to cut the baby in half to reveal the gender. No one gets hurt. Nothing burns to the ground. Everyone loves cake! Patent pending.

Watch This, Not That: Mercy Black vs. Our House

I like to consider myself a horror enthusiast, a horror snob if you will. When it comes time to pick the movies I’m going to watch for this column, I can barely get through the horror movie section of Netflix without making a sarcastic remark to myself. I’m very witty. Who decides this belongs in horror?, I always think to myself. I should be getting paid to decide what goes in the horror genre. Amateurs, all of them.

Then I watched a movie titled Mercy Black and what the fuck? First off, Mercy Black is a Blumhouse Productions movie – the people who gave us Insidious – so I should’ve known it wouldn’t be too terrible because Blumhouse can do no wrong, ever, not even if they tried.

Mercy Black is about a woman who is returning home after having spent 15 years locked in a mental institution for assisting in the attempted murder of her friend – very Slender Man. Upon her return she has to deal with visions of the past, weird occurrences in the home, and then, her nephew acting like a murderous weird-ass just like she did when she was a kid.

She sets out to help him by trying to figure out if the thing that made her try to kill is real – AKA Mercy Black – or if she made it up. The more she looks into her past, the more it comes back to haunt her (obviously). But not like regular haunt. Like, fucked up haunt. Like people getting stabbed in the eyeballs haunt. I had to watch a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek to come down off what I saw. I’m not saying this will give you nightmares but any movie that makes me go “the fuck just happened?” is worth a watch.

What’s not worth a watch is Our House. Our House is about a teen, Ethan, who has to leave college to care for his brother and sister after their parents are killed in a car crash. During the day he does the adult thing (job, taking and picking up the kids from school, etc.) but at night, he works on a project: a machine that he hopes will generate wireless electricity.

As you’ve probably guessed, it does not generate electricity; it generates ghosts, two of which are believed the be their parents. At first you’re like, ok, he brought his parents back and now the kids can live with their parents’ ghosts, super cool. But then the little sister starts talking about a little girl ghost she’s been talking to and then the neighbor’s dead wife comes back but in a black shadow/murderous form and then it turns out that the little girl ghost had been killed by her step-father in that house oh and also the parents’ ghosts are not actually their parents but something evil duh.

SOOOO, we’ve established that the ghosts are not the Casper-kind and eventually so does Ethan, but when he tries to get rid of them the neighbor is like “don’t make my ghost wife go away” even though she’s trying to fucking kill everyone and also she looks like what a 1st grader would draw as their interpretation of a scary ghost. Anyway, before all of the ghosts can kill the family, Ethan smashes his machine and the ghosts are gone and then they move out of the house and also it wasn’t actually the house that was causing the problem it was Ethan and his spirit summoner because the ghosts were fine until his wind machine irritated them. So it shouldn’t have been called Our House, it should’ve been called Ethan Fucking Around With Shit He Shouldn’t.

I probably made it sound cooler than it is. Look, it’s a movie about a homebuilt machine that conjures up murder-y ghosts instead of conjuring up electricity or my recommendation.

Freelancing For Dummies

People will pay for the weirdest shit, and I’m not even talking about that one chick on TikTok who sells weird things like her used IUD. Or a former friend of mine who sold a picture of her tonsils to a guy on the internet for $30.

I’m talking about things like bot followers on Instagram or “life coaches”. You’re probably tired of hearing me bitch about that alleged vocation but I can’t help it. Why are you paying a 20-year-old with a trust fund $500 a month to give you life advice that they probably just regurgitated from one of Brene Brown’s bullshit books? It would be cheaper to just read those books yourself and furthermore, if that’s where the life advice is coming from then Barnes and Noble or Amazon can be your life coach.

Actually, support indie bookstores. Thank you.

I’m getting off track. The point is people pay for weird shit. And this is our gig economy. No credentials. No experience. Just tonsils and life advice from someone whose mom pays their phone bill. But guess what? It turns out that I’m a part of the very thing I mock (minus the tonsils and IUD and bamboozling people), and I’ve been trying to be a part of it since I was old enough to work (legally).

It all began when, at 16, I had aspirations of becoming a famous singer and making millions believing that if Britney Spears and Mandy Moore could do it, so could I. So I sent out hand-written essays to a bunch of record companies but when 2 weeks went by without a response (I can’t imagine why), my parents threw in the towel and made me get a job. Shitty stage parents if you ask me.

I worked for the local movie theater and then as a telemarketer before deciding that I needed a job that didn’t require my presence. That’s right. I was trying to freelance before it was a thing #trendsetter. I began looking in the paper for jobs that I could do from home.

*Side note: We did not have social media or Indeed back then and posing as an “expert on living” hadn’t been invented yet.

Anyway, I ended up finding a WFH job: selling Mary Kay make-up. Yes, kids. Younique didn’t invent that. Mary Kay and Avon did. The problem was it was door-to-door sales. None of this harassing people on Facebook and Instagram, NO. You had to do it in person. Like actually get off your IKEA sofa, put something other than yoga pants on, and go door-to-door, business-to-business and talk to people. TALK TO PEOPLE. IN PERSON. I barely like getting texts much less talking to someone. It didn’t work out.

The next want ad I came across was for a job stuffing envelopes. Perfect! All I needed was $399 and I was in. The problem was I did not have $399 and getting a job to pay for an envelope stuffing job seemed counterproductive. There was only one choice left: I had to own my own business.

20 years later I did just that. I’m fucking terrible at it. I started doing freelance digital marketing and because it’s not writing stuff like this, I’m not very good at it. Since starting my “business” I’ve picked up a few clients but instead of collaborating (which, ironically, I hated doing when working with a team) they want ME to figure out their goals and how to make them more money. Why do I have to do everything?!

The clients I’ve wrangled up are all small businesses which means they don’t have the biggest budgets to work with so I can’t do a lot and then feel bad for charging them for the work that I do complete. I’ve really only been successful with one of my clients and that’s only because I love the industry they’re in. So I guess I’m only good at things I care about. Well what other way is there?!

It gets worse. Because I have a problem prioritizing anything that isn’t paying me a regular salary, I would fall behind on tasks and lose clients. Listen, it’s real hard working on tasks that you invented yourself for clients whose goals you had to set and when it comes time to bill them you don’t know what to charge because you didn’t discuss a rate because you didn’t know what the scope of work would be till you started and had to make it up and that pretty much mean you suck donkey dicks at freelancing.

My entire life I’ve either wanted to work for myself or work doing something I loved. I’ve never bought into having to work a job you hate forever. I’ve never thought something impossible. Difficult to achieve, absolutely. Impossible? Abso-fucking-lutely not.

When it comes to work, I want to be a published author, write and sell my screenplays, write for others, and work in publishing. Oh, and I want to work as Head of Content for the Alamo Drafthouse. I don’t even know if it’s a thing but I’ll figure it out.

How I’m not going to get there is freelancing for businesses I don’t care about. So, aside from the one client I love, I’ve gone back into the workforce. That’s right, I got a big girl job. Also, it’s a remote position. It only took 20 years but I finally willed legitimately working from home into fruition. ME. I did that. It was exhausting.

I need to pay my bills but, more importantly, I need to make sure that I’m not juggling a bunch of bullshit so I can work on my writing and getting in at the Drafthouse.

My journey as a freelancer isn’t a total loss, though. Along the way to achieving my dream of not having to go to an office (and also not having to dress like an adult), I’ve worked some pretty weird jobs and think I have some good unconventional business advice to offer, because who better to take business advice from than someone who was horrendously bad at it.

Get ready to get better at things or worse at things. I don’t know, I’m not a life coach. If I were, I would be way better at this “gig economy” shit, and that my friends, is how IRONY works.

Review: Little Weirds | Jenny Slate

Here’s a first: I’m writing a review on a book I didn’t finish because I couldn’t. Not because it’s terrible – it’s far from it. I couldn’t finish it because it was way too sophisticated for me.

Jenny Slate is a magnificent writer. She can take an every day situation like eating breakfast and turn it philosophical – a story that will really make you question your life’s choices. In one essay she writes about her house being haunted but then ponders the ghost’s love life which makes her contemplate her own. When I write my ghost stories the goal is to creep the shit out of you.

Her personal essays are filled with deep feelings and a creative, eccentric telling of them that include comparisons to things I would’ve never thought even go together. And sometimes they’re very funny.

I compare my life to Seinfeld episodes. I literally just named a post about my father-in-law’s habitual lying after an episode because it reminded me of the one where George Costanza lied to his former soon-to-be in-laws about having a house in the Hamptons and they went along with it just to mess with him.

Little Weirds is a fantastic book if you’re looking for a beautiful piece of work that’s about life. Unfortunately, my brain isn’t developed enough. I’m giving my brain a rest for a couple of days before I start my next read to see if that helps. If not, I may have to go back to Dr. Seuss books.

Watch This, Not That: Death to 2020 vs. Best of Stand-up 2020

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the first Watch This, Not That of the year than with a comedy edition. We need a laugh now more than ever so I took the liberty of watching a couple of Netflix specials to give you something to brighten your weekend at and something to avoid.

My recommendation on what to watch is the opposite of all those stupid “have we tried unplugging 2020 and plugging it back in, hur hur” memes. I recommend the absolutely hilarious Death to 2020. Created by my favorite writer of all time, Charlie Brooker (also the creator of Black Mirror) and Annabel Jones (Black Mirror producer), Death to 2020 is a recap of the year you had to see to believe and features a handful of A-listers such as Hugh Grant, Tracey Ullman, Lisa Kudrow, Kumail Nanjiani, and my personal favorite, Samuel L. Jackson, as well as a few actors from the UK such as Diane Morgan and Samson Kayo.

True, it was a dreadful year but leave it to Charlie Brooker – with the help of his hysterical cast – to retell it in a way that made me snort-laugh. Listening to Samuel L. Jackson call the Oscars a real “rainbow coalition” in response to their attempt and failing at being more diverse was gold.

From the presidential election to the pandemic to things we didn’t care about – like Harry and Megan and their royal departure – Charlie Brooker and his writers managed to take a dismal year, extract the funny and deliver it to us in the form of a 70 minute mockumentary. 10/10 recommend, as the kids say.

If your goal is to not laugh, then you’ll want to watch Netfilx’s Best of Stand-up 2020. I don’t know who picked “the best” but it’s the exact opposite of that. And it tricks you too because the first 3 minutes feature some good jokes and then, nothing. Look, I get that 2020 was a hard year to find stuff to make fun of but the writers of Death to 2020 did it.

Admittedly, it’s probably hard for anyone other than Dave Chappell to successfully joke about current events. But shit, they could at least try. There was a joke about a dog pooping and another about how guys don’t watch your Instagram stories after you blow them. I’m no prude but what’s funny about drinking a load? Do you laugh at that when you’re beating off to those scenes on YouPorn? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The majority of the jokes featured were low-level at best.

If you can watch hours of people falling over in golf carts and laugh at every single video, or think those “have we tried unplugging the year and plugging it back in” memes then yeah, you’ll probably like Best of Stand-up 2020. If you like jokes you’ve never heard before and are risky (which is annoying to say because jokes shouldn’t be considered “risky” – THEY’RE JOKES), then Death to 2020 is right up your alley.

Photo by: Wikipedia

Their names are Snoopy and Prickly Pete

I was a nightmare of a 14-year-old, or as I like to think of it, coming into my own. I’d had it with being a cheerleader so during a meeting I made a few of them cry then quit (my parents STILL remind me about that). I’d discovered D.L. Hughley and thanks to his comedy believed that everyone thought it was funny when you made fun of them (spoiler alert: when you’re a teen, they do not). I stole my parents cars including my dad’s patrol car and went joyriding around our neighborhood (I got caught when I locked the keys in my mom’s car – shout out to the inventor of whatever it is that won’t let you do that anymore!). And I got my first boyfriend. Unfortunately, like most girls in their adolescence, I had low self-esteem and because of that, told tall tales out of school in an attempt to make my boyfriend like me more.

We’re talking real whoppers.

Like being the opening act for semi-known singers and God only knows what else. Yeah, I was a TOTAL liar. We would eventually break up and I would eventually quit lying (except now I sometimes get in trouble for being too honest so I fucking can’t win) but not without really driving my parents batshit, particularly my mom. To scare me, my mom would tell me that my kids were going to turn out 3 times as bad as me.

Joke was on her; I planned on having zero kids.

And I had none until about 3 years ago when my husband and I inherited my father-in-law. Karma is a crafty bitch.

Currently we are in the terrible teens and the lying is in full swing. He lies about everything to everyone, one of those people being his most recent girlfriend who is also in her 60s and had no problem addressing his lies with me when she came for a visit.

I sang like a canary. And I laughed and I laughed.

Quick backstory: so after he broke up with JDF, he started dating a woman that my husband and I have actually known for a while – we’ll call her Faith. Faith is the opposite of JDF. She’s not an asshole for one and 2) she’s pretty well off.

A couple of weeks before Christmas she came down to see him, but instead of hiding in his room like a normal teen, she came over to our side of the house when he was out to ask me some questions. Interrupting the one day I get to myself, she started with “I just don’t get him”. Oh goddamnit. “What do you mean?” I asked, not really wanting to know.

She then proceeded to tell me that from the minute she’d arrived, all he could talk about was money. How much money he had, how much he’d paid for things, how much money his friends had. Apparently, he built us this house but then actually bought this house from a friend for us but no actually my mother-in-law had wanted it so he bought it but then she passed away.

He lied about the cost of the house, how much we put down, even how long our note is for. He lied about buying me and paying for my car which is interesting because I’m pretty sure I’m the one who gets nauseous every time I make that payment to the bank. He lied about owning the hangar he lived in prior to moving in with us, and he lied about building the apartment that was inside the hangar (a friend of ours did that).

The hangar lie pissed me off the most; he told her that he sold the hangar a few weeks after my mother-in-law died because he couldn’t stand to live there without her. Uh, he stayed in that hangar for 6 months after she passed and had his new girlfriend there all the time and only moved in with us because the actual owner of the hangar kicked him out.

Anyway, the lies didn’t quit; even my arch nemesis – JDF, his ex-girlfriend – got drug in. My husband checks my father-in-law’s work email so as not to miss any important work emails. One of those emails just happened to be from JDF. In it, she expressed her anger at the fact that we (my husband and I) didn’t know they were still seeing each other and a bunch of other bullshit. The email ended with the revocation of an invitation to her daughter’s graduation dinner.

The dinner was that night.

My FIL’s current girlfriend was still in town.

He’d double-booked himself. You know what? In that one Twilight Zone episode, all the old people wanted to do to reclaim their youth was go outside and kick a fucking can. Now they’re pulling some geriatric Saved By The Bell bullshit.

I never told Faith about that because I didn’t see the point – I’d already busted his story wide open. Like most teen romances, though, it did no good.

Let me preface this next story by saying that I’m not 100% sure what I did to my parents that made me deserve what happened next but whatever it was I think we’re square.

The night she went home, she came over to say goodbye and tell me another story.

I’m just going to rip this story off like a bandaid.

The night before, she’d tried doing it with him but he couldn’t, er, do it back and she said “I think it’s because he’s still in love with his ex-girlfriend.”

Time froze. I hadn’t been this grossed out since that one broad referred to 50 Shades of Gray as “mommy porn”. I have self-diagnosed tourrettes of the face so I’m not really sure what it did, but it couldn’t have been good because she tried to make a joke out of it.

But it was too late. I’d heard too much and there was no going back. And also, what the fuck? Did I just get a glimpse into the future? Do we still want to sleep with dudes, well into our 60s, who have feelings for other women and are compulsive liars? The future keeps looking more bleak.

Anyway, maybe some parents are happy when their children or children’s boyfriends and/or girlfriends confide in them but I’m not one of them. He went from a girlfriend that preferred to not talk to me to a girlfriend that didn’t know when to stop talking to me. I blame myself for the latter; I’m just too friendly.

After I managed to get her out of my house, I sat down and noted everything that had happened that weekend.

And I realized something: there’s no such thing as “the older, the wiser”. It turns out, the majority of us stay morons.

Don’t believe me? Well check this shit out. He’s already back with his ex-girlfriend, and the way we found THAT out was he updated his relationship status on Facebook.

Wait. There’s more.

My husband sent me a screenshot of it and not an hour later, I run into my FIL outside and instead of saying “hi” he says “did you hear what I did this morning?” He then proceeds to tell me that he was trying to change his status from Widowed and “accidentally” hit In a Relationship.

THEN to make the lie plausible, he called Faith and told her that she needed to tell people he knocked her up (why do these people insist on making me need therapy) because he “accidentally” changed his status.

As a parent, I would like to offer up some advice: quit telling your kids to not be in a hurry to grow up. They’re taking that shit to heart.

Faith did end up breaking up with him. You know how I found out? She sent me a text that just said “I did it”, like a hitman. I followed it up with questions so the FBI wouldn’t see it and raid my home.

Anyway, I got the whole story and, like any teen, she ended the conversation with a request for me not to say anything to anyone.

But I’m sure she didn’t mean you guys.

Review: What Would Keanu Do? | Chris Barsanti

Here’s a piece of trivia about me that might come in handy one day. My first adult crush was Keanu Reeves. I was 11 and because it was a simpler time, I was introduced to him via his movie Speed. I so badly wanted to be trapped on a bus that was about to explode if it meant he would save me. Unfortunately, the only bus I rode was the school bus and its biggest problem was it didn’t have air conditioning.

Anyway, I loved Keanu Reeves, solely on the fact that he was (and still is) hot. When you’re young, “being hot” is enough to think someone is perfect. When you get older, you realize (hopefully) that “hot” can only go so far. We look for other traits such as they’re loving, caring, smart, have a great sense of humor. Basically we hope they’re an all-around decent human being.

Well, guess what. It turns out, 11-year-old me was right. Keanu Reeves is perfect because he is all of those things. If you don’t believe me, then you should grab a copy of What Would Keanu Do? by Chris Barsanti and get ready to feel like the terrible human you are. I know I did.

Books like this tend to read like a self-help book but for the most part, it’s really just a collection of all of his amazing qualities and responses and good deeds put together in 142 pages that’s probably aimed at getting us to be better humans.

From charitable contributions to random acts of kindness, his actions prove that if we are all a little more Keanu, the world would be a little better.

What Would Keanu Do? is a quick read and is great for anyone who is still recovering from the nightmare that was 2020. Enjoy!

Next book: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

My favorite book of the year and some other ones I liked: 2020 Edition.

There’s never been a better year for books. Books were the escape we needed from this prank of a year and luckily, there were a few good ones to keep us occupied. Now, I don’t always read what’s new but I do try my best to keep up with what comes out and in 2020, there was one book that was so good and cry-laugh funny that it made my “I’m going to read this a lot of times” list.

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost is my pick for my favorite books of the year. It’s hilarious, really funny, and made me laugh out loud a lot. If you haven’t read it, add it to your 2021 list. It’ll be on mine!

I did read a few books that, even under lockdown, I didn’t have time to write about so I figured now was a good time to mention them.

Bare Bones and Fight. Grind. Repeat. by Bobby Bones. Fun Fact: back in like 2003, Bobby Bones – who’d just launched his show – hosted his own version of American Idol in Austin, TX. I auditioned. I sang something by Evanescence believing that I sounded like Amy Lee and as you can probably tell by the fact that I’m sitting on my couch writing this instead of getting paid to make singing Cameo’s, I did not advance to the next round. I did however get to meet Bobby Bones and he was such a sweetheart. His books are both amazing reads and incredibly inspirational. From his very rough upbringing, to his determination and the grind to become a radio personality (something we can all agree he’s done pretty well), his books are real page-turners. Whatever your goals are for 2021, I suggest adding both of his books to your “to read” list for some great motivation.

Yes, I Can Say That by Judy Gold. OK so this book isn’t for everyone, particularly those who offend easily or pretend to be offended. It’s hard to make people laugh these days because it seems like people just want to be mad. Not that they don’t have a reason, everything sucks but take it out on the shit you’re mad at – not someone who made a joke. The biggest problem is people take jokes personally because, thanks to social media and helicopter parents, they think everything is about them. Newsflash: it’s not. You’re making yourself feel bad, not the joke or the person who said it. And that’s why I love this book. Judy Gold nails this trend of getting butt-hurt beautifully and explains how it’s come to this and why everyone needs to bring it down to about a three-and-a-half. And if this is starting to make you mad, I wasn’t talking about you! You see what me and Judy Gold mean?!

Another comedian who’s addressed this before is the man himself, Mr. Jerry Seinfeld, who also happens to be the author of the last book on this list: Is This Anything? If you’re a fan of his then chances are you’ll enjoy his book. Is This Anything? is a collection of his notes that he’s written over the years for his act, accompanied by a backstory for each decade. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan; believe it or not one of the things I love about his comedy is he’s a clean comic. I have to use at least 3 curse words per post – I’m not as entertaining without them. Additionally, I can relate just about any real life situation to his show (I’ve got a Snoopy and Prickly Pete story in the works!) even today. If you’re a fan Jerry Seinfeld, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Is This Anything?

I’ve got an ambitious goal of reading a book a week in 2021. First up: What Would Keanu Do? by Chris Barsanti.

What book are you kicking your year off with?

You want to know how I got these scars?

I’m not good at very many things, but gifts is not one of those things. I know what gifts I want. I make a list of the gifts that I want. Nobody has to wonder what to get me because I am very vocal about the gifts that I want. Don’t bother trying to surprise me – surprises are not on my list. Surprises are most likely things that I did not ask for, because if they were they would not be surprise gifts.

So imagine my confusion when I was given a surprise gift by my father-in-law. Actually, it was two surprises in one because truthfully I wasn’t expecting anything. But he got me something, he really got me.

First, a backstory. At the age of 36, I finally purchased my dream car that had really only been a dream since I binge watched the first 2 seasons of Ozark. After admiring how regal and sophisticated the drug lords looked in the show, I set a goal of purchasing a Yukon. Black exterior, black interior. I got it and it’s my mob boss car and I love it.

So when my husband said that my FIL’s Christmas gift to me would be something that HAD TO BE INSTALLED IN MY CAR, I understandably immediately wanted to know what it was.

Because I’m an optimist (obviously), my first thought was, “is it wheels?” My car needs wheels to complete the cartel look. I asked, “is it wheels?” and the answer was “no”. Naturally, I didn’t believe my husband. First off, I’ve basically been giving weekly presentations on the importance of new wheels, complete with visuals of the exact ones I want. And b) of course my husband isn’t going to tell me what the present is because that’s not how Christmas presents are supposed to work.

So for 4 days I kept reiterating which wheels I wanted to make sure my FIL got the right ones. My husband kept replying with, “you’re not getting wheels.” Yeah, yeah. These are what the drug dealers have on their cars. These are the ones I want, do not get ANYTHING else.

“You’re not getting wheels, Jenn”, he would reply. He’s such a good actor.

Last Monday, my husband took my car to go “get fitted for my Christmas present.” I didn’t know cars needed to be fit for wheels like a horse but whatever. As long as they’re the ones I want.

When my husband got home he sent me a text asking me to come outside. With my eyes aimed at the tires, I walked outside only to see that my stock wheels were still on my car.

That can’t be right.

Then he asked me to walk over to the driver’s side of my car.

“Oh”, I thought. They must be in the back seat and we have to take the car to get them put on.

Nope.

I was asked to sit in the driver’s seat and start my car.

Then I was shown a black button that wasn’t there before and I’m pretty sure wasn’t in any of the SUVs on Ozark. Still, I thought: “maybe when I push this my old hubcaps will pop off and my new rims will be underneath those.”

That didn’t happen.

What did happen was the opposite of gangster. What happened was my car made a sound.

A sound like an 18-wheeler.

Yes. My FIL put a fucking air horn on my car.

Maybe I couldn’t hear the horns over the sound of their guns but I don’t recall the cartel blasting big rig honks at passerby’s.

I was not very happy. No part of me ever thought that an airhorn would make a good addition to my mobster mobile.

Fortunately, I’m a polite gangster and thanked my FIL for the gift. A gift, by the way, he was ridiculously proud of and thought was hilarious.

The next day I had Christmas errands to run so I got in my newly maimed vehicle and made my way to my first stop: Barnes & Noble. On my way there, something happened. Some dildo in a Fast and Furious car was weaving in and out of lanes. Without giving it much thought I detonated my horn. It didn’t make them stop but it did make me feel better.

You know how serial killers kill for the first time and they’re like “this is great!” and then they just keep killing and that’s how they become serial killers? That’s how this felt. I totally understand that puppet from the Saw movies now. I now have a taste for loudly honking at people and I’m not sure how to stop it.

The worst part is, I’m still upset that this airhorn is in my car so at any minute I might just start honking at people just to honk at them. Innocent people, like you, are not safe. But don’t blame me, blame my FIL.

So to recap: my husband and I got him a new computer. He got my husband a new golf club (something he’s been wanting/needing), got his ex-girlfriend’s daughter a ring to commemorate her college graduation, and I got something that could potentially destroy the planet.

And that, my friends, is my supervillain origin story. This is how Typical Jenn became the Joker.