Review: Girl With No Job | Claudia Oshry

I think the goal of just about everyone is to eventually become a person with no job, living comfortably without a care in the world aside from future plagues, a failed economy, unreasonable living prices, American Idol being renewed for 40 more seasons, and the possibility of running out of retirement money before dying. Thanks to the rise of the “influencer”, this is the goal for just about everyone aged 12 and up. But if you’re thinking that reading Girl With No Job by Claudia Oshry will give you insight as to how to make that happen, don’t bother. I’ll just tell you…

She was already rich. Yes, the Girl With No Job didn’t have to have one, so she spent all her time creating (but primarily repurposing) content on her Instagram and voilá, she became an influencer and even wealthier. Unfortunately, her knack for reposting other peoples memes (which I didn’t realize was considered a “talent”) does not translate when it comes to writing books.

First, Claudia has lived a privileged 26 years which doesn’t really afford much in the storytelling department. With the exception of the tragic passing of her father, there’s not much substance to anything in this book. She literally has a chapter on the types of fans. Not the ones with blades (hopefully), the kind that follow you on social media. She even breaks them down into categories. It’s mind-numbing.

She talks about how famous she is and how ahead of her time she was and how she was cutting edge for having a blog in 2013, something everyone with a MySpace account in 2005 had. She also wants you to know she’s funny. In fact, she reminds you that she’s funny in every chapter of the book, although she doesn’t actually tell any jokes in her book to substantiate her claims (unless you count the Lindsay Lohan reference she makes in chapter 5 to which my response is “um, 2009 called…”).

She also talks about the time she got canceled thanks to her failed mention that her mother is a right-wing conspiracy theorist – something she didn’t really need to mention, quite frankly. What does it matter who her mother is? That shouldn’t be the reason you abandon her. The reason should be that she’s openly admitted to having a hatred for reading and now she has a book that she also openly admits is because she has an audience to sell it to (let that sink in for a minute all of my fellow aspiring authors).

The worst part? It’s horrendously written. Think of all the tricks you used in middle school to make your essay longer. That’s this. Bigger font. Repeat sentences that are just restructured. Reading this book is like having a conversation with someone you have nothing in common with because you like a lot of different things and they only like themselves. It reads as though it was dictated by Siri onto a Google doc.

Aside from the fact that she’s one of the hundreds of Instagram accounts that reposts other people’s memes, I knew nothing about Claudia and now, I still don’t. If I’m going off of this book then I have to say there’s just not much to her. And even then, I can see that there’s a market for this shit. She’s living the dream of anyone trying to become “Internet famous”. If that’s you, you’ll probably like this book as you’ll get to fantasize what your life will be like if you “make it”. If that’s not you, anything with a reading level of 2nd grade and up will be better than Girl With No Job.

But what do I know? I’m a Geek With an Actual Job Who’s Writing This For Free. Book probably not coming soon. Size 12 font.

Review: The Meaning of Mariah | Mariah Carey

Years ago, I had a dream of being a famous singer. Back then you had to really work for it. There was no TikTok or YouTube to propel a talentless individual into the spotlight. No. Back then, you had to find a way to get in front of record executives. I tried cold-calling them using my sales tactics that I learned from my telemarketing job but it didn’t pan out. Then, a miracle in the form of a talent show appeared: American Idol was auditioning for season 2.

The day before the audition I decided I should probably rehearse. I chose a Mariah Carey song and practiced for about 10 minutes in our dining room. I thought I sounded great. My then 7-year-old sister wanted to know why I was screaming. Either way, it didn’t matter. When we got to the venue they’d already reached their cut-off so I couldn’t audition, which was probably for the best since I was prepared to walk in there and SING A MARIAH CAREY SONG. I still live with that blind optimism and confidence, by the way. But just like no one can sing Mariah Carey like Mariah Carey, I don’t do confidence the way she does.

I just finished reading Mariah Carey’s book, The Meaning of Mariah, and I never knew how amazing she actually was until she told me. I had zero intentions of reading this book, but during her appearance on Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve special she kept talking about her book and how she wrote it and her book was her answer to every question she got asked so I felt like I had no choice but to read it.

It’s actually not bad but is also exactly what I expected: the story of her life mixed with praise for herself. If you’ve ever seen the movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, you’ll recall a scene where, playing herself, she says “I’m probably the most humble person I know.” That’s the entire tone of the book.

HOWEVER, it’s also incredibly inspirational, believe it or not. I was completely unaware of her hardships. The hardest time I thought she endured was the period of her life that was that shit Glitter (she even talks about the infamous TRL publicity stunt that went terrible and made her look batshit crazy, at least she did to me). She had a pretty rough upbringing, growing up around addiction, rage, and poverty. Her drive to make it out and achieve her dreams of becoming the superstar diva she is today is pretty motivational. And now I get why she celebrates anniversaries instead of birthdays and sometimes acts like a kid with a credit card.

She also goes into full detail about her time with Tommy Mottola. I remember when she was married to him and I also remember thinking she became a star because she married him. I was also like 13 when that went down so what did I know? The answer is nothing because the reason she married him and the shit she endured while she was with him is nowhere near as light-hearted as being a gold digger.

She has a great story and while it’s not without her mentioning her thousands of accolades she’s collected over the years – and I mean like every single story has some sort of praise for her, by her – it somehow doesn’t take away from the point of it: never give up. That’s the point of a lot of memoirs I suppose, but this one’s pretty legit. Of course it is, it’s Mariah Carey.

The Meaning of Mariah is a pretty good read, just ask Mariah Carey. She’ll tell you all about it.

Photo by: Rolling Stone because I was too lazy to take a picture

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?

Review: We Should All Be Mirandas | Chelsea Fairless & Lauren Garroni

You’re not a Carrie. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way right now. You. Are not. A Carrie. It’s OK, I’m not a Carrie either, and it’s not just because I don’t get paid for these posts (although that’s reason enough).

I, as well as you, do not fit the Carrie profile because we should all be so lucky. Carrie made ass tons of money writing a column that turned into a book, which led to a lot more books and a lot more money.

She had an awesome apartment, a shoe collection and wardrobe I would torch a small village for, and, more importantly (and I cannot stress this enough), the writing career of my dreams.

Sorry my friends but we are not Carries. But here’s some good news. It turns out that the one we’ve been trying to avoid being compared to is actually the one who works better for us in the grown up years. I’m about to hit you with some knowledge the same we got hit with the “He’s Just Not That Into You” gospel. We are Mirandas, and if you’re having trouble accepting it, here’s a book that might make you change your mind.

We Should All Be Mirandas by Chelsea Fairless & Lauren Garroni is a hilarious walk through all things Miranda, with the other three sprinkled in  for comparison. If you were/are a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy the trip down memory lane, reminders of why it’s great to be a Miranda.

THIS IS NOT A SELF-HELP BOOK. Miranda wouldn’t read that shit. No, this is a book that details all of the things that made Miranda great – things we can all relate to.

Baseball-Game-Miranda

If you’re looking for a fun read, pick up this book, put on your sweats, pop open a beer, and get ready to realize you’re probably a Miranda and that’s a good thing. Unless you’re like me and want to be a writer with lots of shoes. Then just enjoy the book, and keep writing.

Review: A Very Punchable Face|Colin Jost

“To my mom and dad, and my brother, Casey. You’re like family to me.” It’s Colin Jost’s dedication and the very first joke of his book. Simple, absolutely hilarious, and sets the tone for the entire book.

In reading his memoir, A Very Punchable Face, it’s easy to see why Colin Jost is the head writer for Saturday Night Live as well as holds the coveted position as one of the hosts of Weekend Update. Simply put, Colin is one hell of a writer. It didn’t even feel like I was reading his book – it felt like I was listening to someone tell ridiculous stories about their childhood, how they got their dream job, and getting punched in the face.

His stories are awesome, particularly the one about his MOM WORKING AS A FIREFIGHTER DURING 911 AND BEING A HERO. There are no stories of hardship but his account of the events that unfolded that day tug at the heartstrings, and is an incredible story.

Aside from his 911 story, my favorite of his accounts are the ones that involve the development of his writing career. His work ethic is something to be admired and mirrored. Careers like his don’t just happen. He worked hard to earn his spot at SNL and continues to work hard as one of the top comedic writers in the business.

The world is a shit show, and it’s time we start laughing at legitimate things. Let one of those things be Colin Jost’s memoir, A Very Punchable Face. You will not be disappointed.

Review: Solutions And Other Problems | Allie Brosh

Recently, a woman I used to work with launched a YouTube channel in the hopes of becoming a YouTube star. Yup – just her, a web cam, and 30 minutes of bullshit. Her drinking coffee. Her talking about nothing. Her foam rolling with her crotch RIGHT on the camera. We’re talking OBGYN views.

And you know what? She’s probably going to get some sort of endorsement deal for shorts that keep your beaver from falling out and this will lead to more deals and she’ll become a millionaire. All for having a rambling vagina.

It’s not fair and makes zero sense, and that’s the point. Nothing is fair and nothing makes sense. All of those Instagram quotes that give you hope, that make you feel better about your shit boss or cheating significant other – yeah they don’t mean anything.

Sometimes things just are the way they are and it’s up to you to figure it out. Over the years I’ve learned this, and so has Allie Brosh. Except her way of explaining it is way more entertaining because she uses drawings.

I’ve been waiting for Solutions and Other Problems to drop for years and the wait was well worth it. It’s not been an easy few years for Allie but if anyone can explain the complexities of tragedy, loss, and the human emotions behind them in a humorous, engrossing way, she can.

In her follow up to Hyperbole and a Half, Allie details her journey that kept her off of the internet for 7 years, leaving us all to anxiously await her return. While on her hiatus, Allie experienced in a short time what some experience over a lifetime: mental and physical health issues, a divorce, and the untimely passing of her younger sister.

And yet, despite having to endure these hardships all at once, she manages to tell her story with humor, strength, and her signature cartoons we all love – over 500 pages of them, to be exact. If there’s been anything good about 2020, it’s the return of Allie Brosh and her book, Problems and Other Solutions.

Welcome back, Allie!

Review: Weird But Normal | Mia Mercado

Nothing makes me happier than knowing I’m not the only one who adopted the personality of a fictional character when I was a kid (it’s been a long year so it takes very little). For Mia Mercado, it was Annie. For me, it was Wednesday Addams. I also enjoy relating to someone on the ridiculousness of our AIM screen names.

SIDE NOTE: for all you “I wasn’t born yet/I was a baby back then” assholes, AIM stands for AOL Instant Messenger. It was basically text messaging with dial-up.

What I’m getting at is, it makes me happy to relate to someone who is both normal and weird at the same time – hence the name of her appropriately titled book, Weird But Normal. Relatable stories are where it’s at and for me, Mia Mercado’s book is full of them. From adventures in hair discovery and shaving to people getting confused about our ethnicity to quitting a job and changing your life (she lasted 2 months, I quit after 3 weeks – story coming soon), her book made me feel like I was in the company of a friend.

BONUS: Weird But Normal includes some of her published essays, including my favorite, “I’m a Guy’s Girl” – it’s accurate and absolutely hilarious.

Funny and full of essays that can jog anyone’s embarrassing, repressed adolescent memories, Weird But Normal is a book that reminds all of us weirdos that there are more of us than we think. Everything and everyone is weird, and that is perfectly normal.

Do yourself a favor. Take a break from the horrors of 2020, buy Weird But Normal by Mia Mercado, and enjoy some weird normalcy in a time where everything is horrifically weird.

Read more reviews that are WAY more review-y than this and buy Weird But Normal here.

Review: Ready Player One | Ernest Cline

Other than books, video games have been a much-needed escape for me, particularly the ones where I’m killing zombies and saving humanity. Video games get a bad rap, often being referred to as “time-wasting” and “mindless”. Obviously, I would hardly call them “time-wasting”. This is 2020; if you’re not prepared for anything – and I mean ANYTHING – then I’d argue that you’re the one wasting time (this argument sounds better in my head). Also, anyone who calls them “mindless” has clearly never played any of the Resident Evil games. Give one a try without Googling the walkthrough. That’s not a dare, it’s a challenge. Sure, you can learn dances from Fortnite and post your version (or whatever it is you think you’re doing) on TikTok, but let’s see you solve some of the puzzles in these games without using hints. I think you’ll find it a bit harder than flailing around like an idiot for your iPhone camera.

Anyhoo, video games: they’re the best. When Ready Player One hit theaters I could not wait to watch it, and here’s where it’s my turn to look like an idiot – I didn’t know it was a book. In fact, I didn’t find out it was a book until about a year later. And I didn’t read it until a little over a year after that. Consider this revelation my TikTok dance.

I love this book but before I explain why, allow me to begin with this: it’s almost nothing like the movie. The few things the book and the movie have in common are the characters, the 80s (best decade EVER) references, and a couple of scenarios. That’s about it, and the book is still incredible.

The protagonist, Wade Watts is a teenager in the year 2044 who is living with relatives in a run-down mobile park that is described to look like something a 6-year-old would build with those large legos (probably something we’re headed for, at this rate). Like the majority of the nation, Wade is an active participant in the hunt for video game designer James Halliday’s Easter egg that’s hidden in his creation, the OASIS. What’s the OASIS, you ask? It’s a virtual world that sounds about 98 times more fun than ours. In the OASIS you can be anyone you want. There, Wade is known as Parzival and early on, becomes even more known for becoming the first player to figure out and complete James Halliday’s first challenge.

Throughout the book, Wade/Parzival moves through challenge after 80s challenge – one being an entire walkthrough of the movie WarGames where he has to recite Matthew Broderick’s lines word for word and I’m sorry but that sounds like the greatest. All the while he’s trying to stay alive in the real world as a company known as IOI is trying to track him down and stop him from finding the egg (and winning billions of dollars) before they can find it.

Beyond gaming and being surrounded by everything 80s, there’s plenty of depth to the story as well. Along the way, Wade/Parzival makes friends, falls in love, and discovers that the most important things in life don’t necessarily involve money.

This book is a real page-turner; if you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you give it a chance. It’s a fun and temporary escape, even if that escape only lasts until 2044.

Review: Open Book | Jessica Simpson

I used to sing. Shut up, I did. I started with Tejano music then moved on to Freestyle music (it made a comeback in the 90s and you had to have zero talent). Then I opted for pop music because it appeared that that’s where the money was at. If Britney Spears could get a record deal, how hard could it be?

14-year-old me got to work. I had no mom-ager and no social media, but I did have the internet. I began signing up for toll-free numbers so I could record myself singing on them and then promote them on forums for people who wanted to be popstars (a very popular career choice at the time). I checked the numbers multiple times a day to see if anyone left messages of praise, which is really no different than the way social media works now. Just like my social media accounts, I had none.

I signed up for talent shows, with my most memorable performance being the one where I sang a Pink song and forgot the words the minute it started. I mailed letters, hand-written letters, to every record label I could find on my wonderful dial-up. Nothing. My last straw came when I began cold-calling record labels and the receptionist at Jive Records told me I needed to “buy a book on how to break into the music business” before hanging up on me.

That was it. At 14-years-old I was washed up and done. No record deals. No millions of fans. No mom-agers trying to act like my bestie. Nothing. Meanwhile, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears were stealing all of my applause. I swore off pop music then and there. What a stupid genre anyway. “I’m a genie in a bottle”? I didn’t know the writers for the Mickey Mouse Club were bound to the actors for life. That’s some price to pay for a Disney career. Pfft. Anyway, when Jessica Simpson came along she stood no chance with me. Don’t even ask me about her show Newlyweds; I watched The Osbournes.

Then, a shift. She got divorced. The woman who was forced to talk about her virginity ad nauseam was now exploring her way through Hollywood, at least according to the tabloids which I believed.

Finally, she’s cleared things up for us, years after I’d forgotten all about her “bad girl” time. I read Jessica Simpson’s memoir Open Book and I loved it. Here’s why.

First, she was pretty honest about her skank days as well as her marriage to Nick Lachey – the cute guy from the B-team boy band 98 Degrees. Honestly, that was all I wanted to know about. She. Spills, y’all. And not just about Nick. Tony Romo. Jerk John Mayer. Her alcohol addiction! It’s all in there! She talks about other stuff but let’s be honest, we want the tabloid stuff.

Here’s why you should read it: for years Jessica Simpson has been a laughing stock for everything from her intelligence to her weight, yet she’s happily married and owns a multi-billion dollar company that SHE BUILT. Hahaha LOL yeah, she’s a real joke ol’ Jessica Simpson is.

She’s been through it and actually has a great story to tell. Through it all, she’s remained committed to being herself, as well as finding herself when she got lost. Question her intelligence all you want, but the woman is always learning. I think you’ll enjoy her memoir.

Also, from this day forth I hereby declare it illegal to criticize her “mom jean” look. That look came back and now everyone looks terrible. Take it from me, you don’t see me in the tabloids.