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: 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

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.

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.

Review: Failure is An Option | H. Jon Benjamin

image1-4OK, so here’s the deal with this book: it’s hilarious. I’m talking it made me cry-laugh. H. Jon details his failures from childhood to his most recent – failing to do two different voices for Bob (Bob’s Burgers) and Archer (Archer, duh). What I love most is this book never turns inspirational. There’s no advice on how to achieve his level of success. Nothing on how to become a voice-over artist or secure spokesperson deals. None of that.

No. This isn’t a book about failing your way to success. It’s a book about failing at things and I, for one, am all about hearing these kinds of stories. Inspiration is so 2014. It’s time to embrace our shortcomings. Stories of failure are the greatest, especially because I have so many.

I failed at becoming a singer. I failed at every sport I ever played. I failed at being a breakdancer. I failed at being in a beauty pageant. I failed at working for the UFC. I failed at convincing my parents to let me miss the first day of my senior year of high school because I had told people I was moving to Dallas and I thought missing a day would make it believable. I have failed, and nothing makes me happier than to share these stories with you the way H. Jon Benjamin shared his with us.

So, if you want a good laugh and are interested in reading stories that might spark memories of your past failures that might also make you laugh, this is the book for you. H. Jon Benjamin is a treasure and so is his book. Enjoy!