Freelancing for Dummies: Shiiting Your Shot

Did I ever tell you about the time I played varsity basketball and softball? That’s because it didn’t happen, at least not in reality. In my head, I was both so that’s I told people I’d be. Unfortunately, my athleticism didn’t get the memo because I was cut from both sports before tryouts were even over. It was for good reason. I was terrible and the lack of trying to get better didn’t help.

Yet, I put myself out there and showed up. My problem wasn’t a lack of confidence or belief in myself, which could easily have been mistaken for zero self-awareness. No. My problem was that the only reason I tried to get on either team was to gain notoriety. Get my name out there was my goal. What I failed to understand – and am evidently still learning – is my interest only went as far as “maybe this is how people will hear about me!”

I was never really interested in playing these sports, I was interested in the attention I could get by playing them (in my hometown, sports was pretty much all we had). By the way, I didn’t end up on any of my high school teams but I did end up with the nickname Varsity courtesy of a guy named Jaime who thought my false claims of high school sports superstardom were hilarious. This is why I cringe when people claim themselves to be “funny”. I’ll be the judge of that, Varsity.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that finding your people and doing what you love it where it’s at in life. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to find that. When it comes to my writing, I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for myself but what sometimes hinders my progress is my patience – I have none. So, from time to time I’ll apply for something or put my writing somewhere it doesn’t belong or put something out there just to put it out there – all to get noticed as quick as possible and possibly get a book deal or a job writing jokes for scripts.

It always works out in my head. In reality, it mostly backfires, like it did this past weekend.

If you’ll recall, a goal of mine has been to write for the Alamo Drafthouse – a goal that seemed more attainable before fucking Covid. When the one where I live closed down permanently, I knew that goal would be a little harder to achieve. But I didn’t quit. I created Watch This, Not That so I could have an outlet to talk movies (which I absolutely love). I worked on my resumé and cover letter. Then, I managed to find the contact info for the Senior Content Editor and, after cyber-stalking him for a couple of months to try and get his vibe, finally sent him my Drafthouse Content Writing submission.

And you know what?

He replied!

He said it’s probably going to be another year before a content writing position will be available and also THERE WAS A TYPO ON THE RESUMÉ.

A typo. On my content writing resume. The one I spent MONTHS working on.

Fuck me, man.

When I was 13 and wanted to be a famous singer, my 9-year-old cousin and I spent an afternoon cold-calling record labels to get information on how to break into the biz. One of those labels was Jive Records and the receptionist, Greg, yelled that I needed to buy a book on how to break into the industry. Before I could ask him where to find such a book (I didn’t have my normal consultant, Google, at the time), he hung up on me.

Even though the response from the SCE of the Drafthouse wasn’t anywhere near as harsh as Greg’s – the dream killing receptionist – this incident reminded me of that one. HOWEVER, it was another 7 years before I officially gave up on my singing career. I called it a day after I bombed my audition for Bobby Bones’s version of American Idol (I think it was called Austin Idol but I didn’t make the first cut so who cares).

The point is, I have no intention of giving up, at least not yet. In a year or whenever that job comes back, I’ll apply for it. And I’ll continue to work towards my goal, and maybe I’ll write for the Drafthouse or maybe my work will lead to something else. Either way, I’m just going to keep going.

So, if you’re struggling or dealing with your own Greg – Jive Records doesn’t exist anymore so suck it, Greg! – the receptionist, just keep going. If you found what you love and it makes you happy, don’t let one mistake stop you from pursing it. Keep working (assuming it’s something within the confines of the law. I can’t help you past that nor do I want to be an accessory).

And if you need more inspiration, those Modelo commercials have a lot of it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a movie on Prime called Santa Jaws that I really think the Drafthouse or a recluse would like my take on.

Side Effects of Facebook Marketplace

The first time I listed something on the market I was hooked. It was my Fitbit Versa 2, it sold in an hour and it was a quick and painless transaction. Forget that I originally paid $199 for it and only sold it for $65, and the Versa 3 hadn’t even come out yet. Didn’t matter. That high was enough to keep me selling. I did some spring cleaning and gathered everything that I was no longer using and listed it all.

I should’ve known the watch was a fluke.

The first item I sold after the watch was my tactical vest. OK, I use that thing for CrossFit so I assumed that fellow CrossFitters would be the ones bidding on it. What actually happened was I sold it to a guy who is either a doomsday prepper or is going to be a part of the next coup. I should’ve known since he asked me what kind of plates were in it then sent me names of bulletproof plates, which I didn’t look up until AFTER the sale. I told him they were Rogue which I hope he knows ARE NOT bulletproof (in case he’s reading this which I doubt because my blog isn’t decorated with flags or bald eagles). Anyway, this leads me to my first side effect: paranoia.

Ever since that encounter I’m weary of everyone I’m selling to. It’s so bad that I felt the need to vet people when it came to the sale of my waffle iron. And even then someone haggled me over the $10 price tag. It reminded me about the time I was in Chinatown in New York and saw people haggling over fake brand name bags, which I later found out is normal, which makes me really fucking terrible at this. 

And I’m only getting worse. I have a jacket that had 2 people interested: one whose profile picture weirded me out and another who I won’t sell to because it involves shipping. I’m barely capable of dropping off an Amazon return Kohl’s.

I have a purse I’m trying to sell and so far vetting hasn’t helped because they’re all flaking. One woman kept putting off meeting me so I canceled with her and agreed to sell it to a woman who said she would meet me this weekend assuming she got approval from her doctor to leave the house, and now she’s ghosting me too (not literally though, I hope). This has all led to the 2nd side effect: buyers remorse. 

I have piles of stuff that I’m selling that I have no idea why I purchased in the first place. And everything is being sold for way less than I purchased it. I feel like a complete asshole, which leads me to the final side effect: regret.

Not just regretting buying shit I didn’t need but also making the mistake of telling my mom about my new side hustle. After 13 years of hanging on to some collectibles of my deceased grandmother, my mom has decided that now is the time to let them go. Now that she has a way to get rid of them.

Last week she came to visit me and while she was here, dropped off a huge tote full of Egyptian collectibles from the 80s and 90s. Several pieces of Egyptian figurines, all surrounded in bubble wrap with about a roll of tape around each individual piece.

It’s too much. I’m not unwrapping each individual item, photographing it, then listing them one at a time. I could do one big group pic and sell everything in bulk but that doesn’t eliminate the issue of unwrapping all of it. On top of that, these aren’t, like, authentic pieces. My grandma didn’t get them while backpacking through Africa. She got them from QVC while sitting in her sweats, so I don’t even know what the actual value of them are. 

The moral of the story is this: unless you’re ok with all of these side effects, don’t buy things you don’t need or absolutely love and can’t live without because you’ll end up like me – selling things on a platform you actually hate, probably providing items that will assist someone in making headlines for trying to overthrow the government. Or being haggled for $5. Either way, it’s not fun. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. Someone just inquired about that purse so I need to jump before they lose interest. Real fun stuff. 

As seen on bad sitcoms

It all happened one day about a week before my father-in-law returned with Covid and a new girlfriend to give it to. I’m sitting in my office pretending to work before I need to head out to an event. As I’m reading god knows what, I hear a loud crash in the living room and immediately know what I’m about to walk into.

The loud crash was our very large clock. A large clock that hung above our mantle. The mantle that held my mother-in-law’s ashes. Or use to hold her ashes.

That’s right: use to. As in no longer was. As in, the cute glass Hobby Lobby canister that we placed her ashes in was now laying half broken, still in its decorative holder that contained the canister, on my dog’s food bowls.

Me, my lab, and my two min-pins stood there, staring at my MIL’s ashes piled up in their bowls and on their food mat.

I was supposed to be leaving my house in an hour. Typical.

After a few minutes of debating if this happened because my house is haunted or because my husband didn’t anchor the clock like he was supposed to, I grabbed a mask, some gloves, and began the process of picking glass and dog food out of my MIL’s ashes.

Oddly enough, this is something my MIL would’ve thought was hilarious.

I did not.

I stood there for an hour sifting through human remains like I was gold mining. I actually considered using our spaghetti strainer to expedite the process however, I had already racked up a good amount of items to throw out so I just kept digging. Also, I didn’t have anything to strain her into which led to my next conundrum: where would I put her until the next day when I could buy a new urn?

I’m a bad hostess so I don’t have random glass jars that can double as urns just lying around. And I couldn’t just leave her out, that would’ve been a little too B-movie for my liking. So I put her in the only place I could think of where she’d be safe and would prevent any sort of poltergeist activity:

A zip-lock bag.

The next day I squeezed in an extra errand into my schedule and purchased a new canister/urn to put her in – a plastic, shatter-proof one. I also placed her in an area that, if she were to fall again, would let me know our house is FOR SURE haunted.

But before I placed her in her new spot, there was the matter of pouring her ashes in the new canister. When I did, I noticed that some of them were clumped together, making them look like actual kitty litter. My OCD and conscience wouldn’t let me just leave them like that so I grabbed a butter knife (another casualty of this incident) and broke up the clumps.

I sealed the canister, gave it one more look-over, and that’s when I noticed it.

There was still a piece of dog food in the ashes.

I left it there.

I’d done all I could do and had thrown away all of the kitchen utensils I cared to throw away.

And so it remains because my husband won’t get it out either.

I’m pretty sure part 2 of this story will happen just in time for Halloween season.

Freelancing for Dummies: When first world jobs collide with real workplace problems

Well, well, well, what do we have here? It appears we have a couple of “influencers” who’ve experienced a real world dilemma, bursting their dream job fantasy. Welcome to my world, it’s a bit of a pisser.

The other day while scrolling through Buzzfeed during a busy day of work, I came across a story on influencers not being paid by an influencer marketing agency (Christ, man) called Mediakix. My first thought was “that’s because it’s not a real job”. My next thought was “sucks to be them because this could potentially turn into a thing.”

If you’ve been following me you know how I feel about influencers: I don’t consider “influencing” – the act of getting people to follow you and do things you do or like because you appear cool but didn’t we get past this in high school I swear to god we never leave high school – to be an actual job. I don’t see what the appeal is over someone who’s only talent is posting different versions of the same photo with stupid captions.

HOWEVER, as stupid as I think it is they also get a tiny bit of acknowledgement that it is something and here’s why: there are plenty of gigs that started out as something that at one point probably didn’t make sense. If you go back to the beginning of typicaljenn.com, you’ll find posts where I’m ripping into social media marketers. I believe I referred to them as people who are really just unemployed, sitting on their couch playing that farm game on Facebook. Jump to about 6 years later and it’s part of what I do for a living (social media marketing not building a pretend farm).

I’m not above eating my words, I actually enjoy eating thank you very much.

Anyway, as fairytale as their job is, what’s not is their money problems and the fact that this isn’t anything new. Just like every meme on the internet, this bit has been done before. And unfortunately, I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

Back in the early 2000s, I was preparing to move and part of that process involved job hunting. I was moving to a bigger city than my hometown so instead of looking for a boring desk job, I sent my resume to a bunch of local talent agencies – and one actually called me back.

I interviewed for the receptionist position, got hired, and started my new, exciting, sure-to-make-me-famous job a week after moving. My first day began with me meeting the 3 people who worked in the office and being given my first important rule of the job: never let anyone talk to the bookkeeper.

For everyone out there, this is a red flag for ANY job you’re starting. But I was 20 at the time so I was like “ok cool”. I just figured she was busy doing number things. She was and those number things happened to be helping the owner of the agency embezzle from herself.

About a month after I started this job the bookkeeper quit without notice. I don’t know how long she’d been there but red flag number 2 is when the person handling the finances abruptly leaves. That left the owner to handle the books and that’s when things got really bad.

I would get, at minimum, 3 calls a day from talent asking where their money was, and this was after they’d waited standard 8 weeks for payment. I knew we’d gotten the money in but the owner was using it to pay her bills. And it’s not like we had talent booking feature films. They were booking, like, local modeling gigs and Church’s Chicken commercials. We weren’t making that influencer money.

At one point I had a woman tell me that our agency owed her over $10K. TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I know that’s chump change to some of the popular Insta-people but back then (shit, even now at least for me) 10 grand was a lot. And that was just ONE of the individuals we represented.

Every week the owner tried to get caught up but it wasn’t happening. On top of that, overhead was insanely high. I understood we needed to have some sort of presentation but I thought what effected our reputation the most was, you know, stealing from people.

We did have alternative ways of bringing in money but they weren’t anymore credible than the way the money was handled. The owner would convince people that they could be a model if they got head shots and took her modeling class, which people actually paid for.

I know we’re all about not body shaming but I’m telling you right now, you ain’t walking the Victoria’s Secret runway if you’re built like me (5’3″, thick legs from CrossFit, looks like a baby deer walking for the first time in heels – me and the deer). Watching the owner tell every person who came in our office they had a shot was disheartening at best, fucking criminal at worst.

To me, it’s no different than the assholes selling you on the MLM of the week, convincing you that you can actually make a decent living selling their shit online. You can’t. No, you can’t. End of discussion.

Anyway, in the article Buzzfeed reached out for comment and were told that Mediakix would no longer take contracts until the money was sorted out. I’m not sure how that would work for them. At the agency I was at, we constantly had to have money coming in to try and compensate everyone we owed. So if things are that bad off at Mediakix, I don’t know how you catch up not bringing anything in.

Again, I don’t know shit about this company or what got them into this conundrum so I’m not in a position to say if these influencers will get their money or not. I don’t work there, thank god because I looked at their website and it reminds me of the advertising agency I worked at where I once got in trouble for having a meeting in the “game room” because it prohibited 2 employees from playing ping pong. All I know is I’ve seen this before and it’s pretty shit cycle for everyone involved.

I myself have, on more than one occasion, been stiffed and it was a bag of bullshit. It even happened to me when I worked a for real job that required a W4. What I didn’t have that influencers do is a large platform with a huge following (for reasons I’ll never get – there’s no delineation between influencer accounts, they all look the same, people!).

So speak up. Put that shit out there. This goes for anyone who has a job, real or pretend. If you made an agreement and somebody owes you money, don’t let them skate on you. It is not your problem that they are bad with money management. It’s no different than promising someone work and not being able to do it because you couldn’t manage your time (something I’m also guilty of but that’s for another day). You’d be held accountable, right?

They should be held accountable too.

So go on. Use your social media power. You know, the same way you do when you convince people to buy that face serum that doesn’t work or when you make people think your life is glamorous because you posted a pic on a PJ but you actually just rented the PJ for an hour to take pics on. Like that. Go get ’em!

Watch This, Not That: His House vs. Things Heard and Seen

For the most part, the people in horror movies don’t have it so bad, with the exception of whatever’s trying to kill them. Whether they’re being chased by zombies, serial killers, or whatever demonic spirit they’ve let inhabit a doll, their story usually starts off in a nice house with a nice family and everyone including the toddlers have high-paying jobs. (No wonder the rest of the world hates us). So when Netflix released His House, a horror/drama hybrid, I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed.

His House tells the story of a couple seeking refuge after fleeing their native country: the war-torn South Sudan. They survive the horrendous ordeal and arrive in Britain, eventually receiving housing on the outskirts of London. But it’s not just a regular family home like all of the houses in Insidious. It’s a run down apartment that looks like it’s haunted by the last meth head that lived in it.

Meth head ghosts are the least of their concerns, though. Demons are what they’re fighting, and not just to save themselves but to save what they sacrificed everything for. What kind of demons are they? Who wins? You’ll have to watch this week’s Watch This to find out. Netflix’s His House will mess with your head, which I think we all can agree is the best when it comes to horror.

What isn’t the best is when you have a horror movie figured out in the first 10 minutes and then you have nothing to do for the remainder of the 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. This week’s Not That was stretched 110 minutes too long and I sat through all of them. Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen features Amanda Seyfried who plays Catherine, a wife who’s given up her life to support the ambitions of her douche husband.

Right off the bat, we’re given insight that there’s something wrong in their marriage: Catherine has an eating disorder. That revelation is immediately followed by another one: Catherine’s husband George (James Norton) has a wandering eye.

Pretty soon, haunted things start happening. A rocking chair moves on its own. Their daughter sees a ghost lady. Catherine smells gas fumes. All of this freaks Catherine out, but then her husband’s colleague explains that it’s NBD, just a woman ghost who’s got her back. Empowered by her supernatural backup, she starts to make her way out of her shitty marriage. During the time she’s getting her groove back, she discovers that her husband is a liar, stole his cousin’s identity, is a cheater, and then also he commits a bunch of murder.

But, surprise!, the ghost men of the house are shit too. Just as Catherine learns everything that’s bad about George and is about to make her move, George drugs her. And, surprise again!, the lady ghost (whose real/ghost name is Ella) can’t help her because of her dick ex-husband ghost. So George kills Catherine. Then he gets away with it because he’s a man. But then he rides off into the ocean and gets killed by the devil? I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is I sat on my couch rolling my eyes for 2 hours proving that good horror movies are hard to come by, disproving that your eyes will get stuck that way. If you want to try it for yourself then watch Things Heard and Seen. Not responsible for loss of vision or interest.

Photo by screenrant.com

Adventures in Senior-Sitting: When Spring Break Goes Bad

I’m not sure what traumatized me into never wanting kids. Maybe it was realizing that kids equaled zero fun time. Or, that you had to be responsible for them forever. Or maybe it was something my grandma said: “your kids will be 3 times as bad as you.” No thanks. I was a nightmare, so bad that I didn’t even start liking myself until I was 30. I don’t need “younger me” amplified. So I opted out of having kids. Karma, however, found me and opted me in like every e-newsletter I never signed up for.

As most of you know, I inherited a teenager in the form of my 66-year-old father-in-law and it’s been a real barrel of laughs. One after school special after the next.

About a month ago, my FIL was sick but like most kids that have plans for spring break, he wasn’t about to suffer from FOMO. So off he went to Daytona Bike Week, coughing and wheezing his way there. Upon settling in his camp spot, he realized that, uh oh, the cable box in his motorhome wasn’t working. You see, the cable company didn’t shut off his box in his RV when he cancelled his subscription prior to moving in with us. They ended up fixing the glitch and it worked itself out on day 1 of his vacation.

Well, you know kids and their screens. He was so desperate for television he tried to get a box added to MY account (which I actually consider payback for the time I added my own land line to my parents account without permission). When the cable company declined, he called my husband and asked him to MAIL HIM THE BOX FROM HIS BEDROOM. We did not.

He managed to survive his lack of Matlock reruns however, when he arrived home there was something else that he was suffering from.

Yes. He came home with the VID.

And so began the great sickness of 2021. He was coughing non-stop and had zero energy, but he was pushing through. Now, if you asked every friend that he miraculously found the energy to call while he was being quarantined, he was on his death bed. Each night was sure to be his last. He couldn’t lift his head without going comatose from exhaustion. He could only breathe once an hour.

And eating? Forget it. If it wasn’t KFC he couldn’t keep it down, which I don’t remember reading on the CDC website so I suppose they’re due for an update. At one point I had my husband ask him if he needed anything from the grocery store. Grapes and orange juice was his request. Did my husband ask my FIL or my 3-year-old niece because that’s totally something she’d want as a snack.

A week into his illness, things took a turn in a matter of 2 phone calls. That morning my husband checked in on him and informed me my FIL was feeling a little better. Less than an hour later, my husband received a call from one of his dad’s friends. Apparently, he was about to die and another friend was on the way to our house to take him to the hospital, which didn’t make sense to me because I work from home so why wouldn’t he ask me?

So I call my FIL to find out what the deal is and was pretty surprised by how terrible he sounded. What also surprised me was that he actually did not have a friend coming to take him to the hospital. He ended up asking me if I would take him but I suggested calling an ambulance which he agreed to.

A few minutes later I could hear sirens so I went outside to flag them down. Outside I could no longer hear the sirens but I could hear something else: “I guess they missed our house, hee hee.” I turned around and there stood my FIL, giggling. “What the fuck are you doing out here?!” I yelled. I’ve just told 911 that my FIL is on the outs and here he is practically dancing in his driveway.

I. Was. Mortified.

As soon as the paramedics got out of the ambulance I began telling them MY side of the story: he tricked me. They check him out and nothing. Nothing is wrong with him. Are you sure? I asked them. There’s nothing in that ambulance that you can shove down his throat?

No.

The paramedics loaded back into the ambulance and by the time I turned around to ask my FIL “what the fuck was that?!” he was already back inside. That was the last I heard from him for about a week. I didn’t check on him because I didn’t have to. Our neighbor kept me in the know. She also informed me that, according to my FIL, he in fact was dying that day and had the paramedics not given him oxygen for the 3 minutes that they did, it would’ve been over.

This story of almost seeing the light has made its rounds and every time I hear it he was nearer and nearer death. Not long after standing at the pearly gates, he recovered.

BTW, it isn’t lost on me that I once put my mom through a similar situation. When I was in 6th grade I experienced a level of embarrassment I’d never felt before after I tripped over a pipe in front of about 30 kids (out of a class of almost 500). 30 may as well have been everyone. I couldn’t take it. So I faked being sick for about a week and a half before my mom finally took me to the doctor where I was outed as a fraud and had to go back to school.

The moral of the story is I was terrible well into my 20s and my comparisons to my FIL are only up to 11-year-old me so I’ve got a lot more of this shit to go.

Watch This, Not That: Documentaries

I kind of remember when reality TV was invented. For me, it was invented when Season 8 of MTVs The Real World debuted. Th at’s when I started watching it and I remember thinking it was the exact opposite of the real world. It’s been all downhill from there. A few years ago I had a gig writing comedic recaps on reality shows such as Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Dallas. That was it for me and have since given up on reality TV (except for My 600lb Life). It’s all documentaries for me and readers, have I got some watch this and not that’s for you.

My first recommendation is YouTube’s The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story. In the 90s, most teenage girls were either Team Backstreet Boys or Team N’sync, and if you were Team 98 Degrees you were no friend of mine. Anyway, did you know Lou Pearlman is the reason you had to pick a side? Did you also know that he was a complete fraud who scammed several elderly people out of their life savings with the help of U.S. Representative Charlie Crist? Well, it’s true. Brought to us by Lance Bass’s production company, The Boy Band Con is such a good telling of the boy band craze, the man behind it, and how he deceived so many while simultaneously making music history.

Speaking of the 90s, my next suggestion is all about nostalgia. Before there was Netflix and Chill, there was Be Kind, Rewind. In those days, when you wanted to watch a movie at home you had to physically leave your house and drive (or ride with your parents) to the local video store. For most of us, that video store was Blockbuster. Aahh, Blockbuster. The smell of the weekend. My next watch this is Netflix’s The Last Blockbuster.

I loved this documentary. It tells the story of how Blockbuster came to be, why it was the greatest, what happened to it, and how the very last one is hanging in there. For anyone who wants to reminisce or would like to know more about their botched Netflix deal, I highly suggest The Last Blockbuster.

Here’s something you don’t need to know about: Paris Hilton. Since I’d scored big with that boy band documentary, I let YouTube’s autoplay guide me and next up was This Is Paris, a documentary on Paris. Good god. Sure, her voice finally caught up with her age, but that’s about the only thing that’s tolerable. Other than that the entire documentary is pretty insufferable.

If you watch it, be prepared to weep when you see her museum of MacBooks, explaining that she needs to buy a new one after every breakup. Feel your heart break when you discover she NEVER wears then same outfit twice. At one point she talks about the abuse she endured at bad kids camp that still haunts her to this day (Side note: she recently testified in court against this camp). It’s a serious situation although Nikki Hilton brings us back by asking Paris “do you remember how horrible you were to our parents?” Look, I grew up with a Mexican grandmother so it’s real hard for me to feel bad for Paris. Anyway, unless you’re interested in learning how Paris stayed rich after growing up rich, I do not recommend This Is Paris.

And while we’re on the subject of spoiled rich kids, I also don’t recommend Netflix’s Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal. We all know the story: Aunt Becky used that Full House money to get her bratty, underserving child into USC. And she wasn’t the only one. A bunch of rich parents did it, all with the help of a guy named Rick Singer. The majority of it is shot in reenactments which I get because most of the people this scandal involves are in jail.

The documentary is meant to show how fucked up the system is but here’s the deal: it’s nothing new and it’ll probably never change. And the worse part is there will always be kids that want to go to these shit colleges that allow this.

FUN FACT: I went to school with a girl who wanted to go to the University of Texas at Austin but didn’t get in. Instead of just going to another University of Texas she lied to everyone, telling people she got in and would actually walk around the campus pretending to be a student. She eventually got caught. This happened 20 years ago so this story also serves as a reminder that people don’t forget.

Anyway, my point is, I would rather watch a documentary about that girl than one about something that isn’t that surprising other than Aunt Becky learned dick all from the life lessons on Full House. I do not recommend Operation Varsity Blues.

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

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.