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.

Review: The Last Black Unicorn | Tiffany Haddish

I have a dream. And that dream is to one day be a guest on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, both as an actress and as a drunk person. No, really. I realize most dreams consist of purchasing homes or getting a Master’s degree. Not me. I want to be drunk on national TV talking about Sacagawea. I love that show. Believe it or not, it’s very educational. Beyond history lessons that may or may not be accurate, I’ve discovered comedic writers and comedians that I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know about – one of those being the incredibly funny Tiffany Haddish. That’s correct. I’d heard of her before but didn’t really know who she was until I saw her episode of Drunk History.

She absolutely cracked me up so I immediately wanted to know more about her. And what do you do when you want to learn more about someone? You read their memoir. (Anyone who is anyone has a memoir. Wake up.)

Co-written by the hilarious Tucker Max, I read her book in two days. I would’ve read it in one but I had to work. Some bull.

To begin, the entire book is written in her voice, literally. It was like the audio version was playing in my head as I read it. At first, it was a little odd but once I got past the Invitation I understood why it was written the way it was written: this was Tiffany’s story being told her way.

The backstory to Tiffany’s success includes an upbringing most of us couldn’t fathom. From surviving the mistreatment by her mother who suffered from a brain injury to leaving a physically and mentally abusive husband, the road to comedic stardom was a rough one. It’s not all heartache, though. She also includes hilarious anecdotes, one of which details the revenge she got on her ex-boyfriend that involves a sex tape, a holiday, and the movie Charlies Angels.

While I would’ve liked to have seen more about her career, the point of her book is to deliver hope. Deep and honest, Tiffany’s book provides inspiration for anyone who has been or is in a place where it’s hard to see the light. It’s there, and some of it is found in her book. Give it a read and also, watch her episode of Drunk History – there’ s a whole lot of learning between the two.

Review: The Tao of Bill Murray |Gavin Edwards

I have a problem, and that problem is when it comes to work I have a hard time saying ‘no’ when someone asks me for a favor. This leads to me over-extending myself, which stresses me out, resulting in my transformation into a volcano of rage. The mere thought of having to add anything – like say doing the dishes or brushing my hair – to my already packed schedule pushes me over the edge. Knowing that at any moment I could be asked a question gives me the superhuman strength a mother conjures up when she needs to lift a car off her child. If you see a house being hurled across the country, it’s me – somebody asked me how my day was going.

Then there’s my phone – it’s given me PTSD. Gone are the days when my biggest first world problem was bot calls. Now it’s actual humans. The second my phone lights up or makes a sound I break out in shingles. Oh God, it’s ringing again. Hello? Can I design a Trivia Night scorecard? Yeah, I can do that.

It’s a pisser of a position to be in: on the one hand, I’m getting paid. On the other, I now hate everyone. I don’t necessarily want to tell them to fuck off, mainly because my check would fuck off as well, but I do want to be in a position where I’m doing more of what I want to do. And who better to learn that from than the legendary Mr. Bill Murray.

Bill Murray didn’t write his own book because Bill Murray is too cool for that. The Tao of Bill Murray by Gavin Edwards is not your typical biography. While he does start at the beginning of Bill Murray’s life, the stories bounce around to fit the 10 Principles of Bill Murray, the bulk of what makes up the book. I won’t tell you what they are but I will tell you they’re exactly what you’d expect. All of his principles basically add up to this: do what makes you happy and include others in that happiness. By the way, the “things” that make Bill Murray happy are probably a little different from yours or mine. His “things include stealing a street cleaner, crashing Elvis’ funeral, and an incident where he rolled a pretentious fan into the ocean per his agreement to sign autographs for her.

Beyond some great stories – like Bill tossing banana peels at people’s feet while they walked just to see their reaction – are some great lines delivered by the G.O.A.T. One of my many favorite lines was delivered when someone shouted a line from Ghostbusters at him – his reply: “The Ghostbusters thing is not going to go away until somebody kills themselves with one of the toys.” And there’s plenty more where that gem came from.

Anyway, while us mere mortals could never get away with some of the stunts he pulls, at the very least this book is an escape – who needs fiction when his life is better than? But there’s more than just escapism. Reading The Tao of Bill Murray is a great reminder to make the most of life – enjoy every bit of it. Everything is horrible, why make it worse by spending your days going things you hate?

So, on this wonderful Friday the 13th, I’m proposing two things: the first is to buy and read this book. Then, after you read it, do what I’m about to do: spend a week doing more of what I feel like doing and more of what makes me happy (as long as these things are within the confines of the law. This isn’t Dexter). Also, try not to get fired, unless that’s what you want. The point is things are terrible. Let’s channel our inner-Bill Murray and at least for a week, make things a little more fun…. starting tomorrow. I’m helping a client address envelopes today.