Category Archives: humor

Review: The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell

4th March 2014

pg1*I received this ebook from the publisher Melville House in exchange for an honest review.

Billy Ridgeway is a do-nothing. He works at a Greek deli when he can make it on time. He thinks his girlfriend may have dumped him, but he’s not sure. And the short stories he’s written are pure crap – he’s got a writeup in an NYC lit magazine to prove it. When the Devil shows up in his apartment with good, no, great coffee and offers to publish Billy’s novel if he’ll just do him a tiny favor, Billy isn’t even tempted. Ok, maybe a little. All he has to do is steal the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium, a cat statue, from a powerful warlock.

At first, Billy can’t be bothered. If he can’t even get his girlfriend to return his calls, how could he possibly face a warlock? But soon, whether or not Billy wants to help the Devil isn’t an option as he’s in up to his neck and discovers he’s a hell wolf and that his entire life up to this point has been a lie. As he races across the city, Billy learns a lot about what he’s capable of, and if he lives through this weirdness, maybe he’ll be able to do something after all.

The Weirdness is absolutely, positively one of the most original takes on the nearing middle age, suffering male writer bit. Because frankly, had this been another story about a guy who is too lazy to get off his ass and do something, I’d have hated it. Hell, I may not have even finished it. But Jeremy Bushnell manages to turn this story on its head in what should be the most ridiculous novel you’ve ever read.

Instead, Billy and his really lovely counterparts, specifically his best friend Anil, are people you feel for. They’re doing what they have to in order to make it. Maybe Billy hasn’t been doing his part, but he’s obviously unhappy. He has a job that is fine but isn’t a career. His writing isn’t transcendent. His love life…yeah, it’s not great. In a lot of ways, Billy has just shut down, and he can’t figure out how to restart until the Devil shows up. And ain’t that the way of things? Ok, maybe the Devil doesn’t really show up in order for you or me to get out of our funks, but it takes something pretty out of character or, in this case, out of this world.

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

Review: Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

24th October 2013

pg1*I bought this book.

What can I say? The Mindy Project absolutely makes me laugh.

This book? I laughed so much just in her intro, I knew I had to buy it. Plus, it’s eminently quotable.

Mindy (I can totally call her that because we’re bffs now, so deal) breaks her book up into a look at her childhood, life in New York, Hollywood, romance, and body image. It’s more structured than Tina Fey’s Bossypants, but it also has an interesting generational difference. Sure, Kaling relates stories of photo shoots and sample size dresses designed to fit no one. But she also doesn’t quite have the roadblocks Fey seems to have. Reading these two books back to back, particularly knowing the age difference here isn’t all that much, made for a great look at women in comedy. Both address the ridiculous “women can’t be funny” in anticipated humorous ways. Yet there is an awareness in Kaling’s book, a liberation of sorts, that wasn’t apparent in Bossypants. In a sense, Mindy is able to worry about everyone hanging out without her whereas Tina Fey was scrambling to even get in the door.

I do think Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is better written, and though the writing is simple, the timing of the humor as well as the arc of each essay is really excellent.

And I can’t leave you without hints of the humor:

Is this one of those guide books celebrities write for girls?

Oh, hell no. I’m only marginally qualified to be giving advice at all. My body mass index is certainly not ideal, I frequently use my debit card to buy things that cost less than three dollars, because I never have cash on me, and my bedroom is so untidy it looks like vandals ransacked the Anthropologie Sale section. I’m kind of a mess.

*****

Unlike other athletes, Frisbee people won’t let it go. My theory is that this is because there’s a huge overlap between people who are good at Frisbee and people who do Teach for America. The same instinct to make at-risk kids learn, which I admire so much, becomes deadly when turned on friends trying to relax on a Sunday afternoon in the park….I don’t want to learn! I don’t want to learn! Let me read Shopaholic Runs for Congress in peace!

*****

I WILL TRY TO LIKE YOUR BOYFRIEND FIVE TIMES

This is a fair number of times to hang out with your boyfriend and withhold judgment.

IF OUR PHONE CONVERSATION GETS DISCONNECTED, THERE’S NO NEED TO CALL BACK

I get it. You get it. We take forever getting off the phone anyway. This was a blessing.

*****

I’ll wait while you add this to your Goodreads shelf.

Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

23rd October 2013

pg1

I am a latecomer in terms of appreciation of the hilarity of Tina Fey. I once thought she really wasn’t all that funny. It took half a dozen episodes of 30 Rock (watched when all my other shows were off season) for me to appreciate it. But then? I couldn’t get over the wisdom of Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon. I was spouting off Liz Lemonisms way too frequently.

So when I quoted her one too many times to my brother in a text, he asked if I had read Bossypants yet. Which, of course, I hadn’t. I promptly paid much more than I ever do for an ebook ($7.99, if I recall) and began reading. By afternoon, I was finished.

Bossypants is, as many collections of personal essays are, a bit all over the place. The writing isn’t phenomenal. There are moments when it isn’t even that funny, so don’t go in expecting early David Sedaris. That said, Fey’s story of her life prior to her run as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live and Liz Lemon on 30 Rock is pretty special. It’s more of an insider’s view backstage those two shows than anything else, so if you aren’t familiar with either, then Bossypants may not be for you.

And she does bring the funny:

Q: Is 30 Rock the most racist show on television?

A: No, in my opinion it’s NFL football. Why do they portray all those guys as murderers and rapists?

*****

(By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.)

*****

We began our breast-feeding journey in the hospital under the tutelage of an encouraging Irish night nurse named Mary. We tried the football hold, the cross-cradle hold, and one I like to call the Bret Michaels, where you kind of lie over the baby and stick your breast in its mouth to wake it up.

*****

Lesson learned? When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.

*****

I have a suspicion – and hear me out, ’cause this is a rough one – I have a suspicion that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.

The only person I can think of that has escaped the “crazy” moniker is Betty White, which, obviously, is because people still want to have sex with her.

*****

At times, such as in the last bit of dark humor, Bossypants seems to bemoan the fact that women in television haven’t come all that far, but by virtue of Fey’s prominence (and I would include Amy Poehler here), it’s evident that the strides, though small, are being made. And I plan to review Mindy Kaling’s book tomorrow, a similar book but one that varies in pretty significant ways, i.e. generational differences. [Tip: Everyone I know who has read this has raved about the audio, and as I could hear Tina Fey’s voice as I read, I can imagine it’d be a pretty good listen.]

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

TLC Tour: Mystery Girl

21st August 2013

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*This book was sent to me by the publisher New Harvest, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in coordination with TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

I became an assistant detective, and solved my first murder, right after my wife left me, when I went a little mad. Never as crazy as the master detective himself, of course; he was completely nuts….And trust me, I know from crazy, being, as I admit right here at the outset, no poster child for emotional health myself.

Sam Kornberg starts his tale thus, in the great tradition of unreliable narrators before him. His wife Lala has left him; he’s unemployed, and his plotless novels are gathering dust. His only friends are MJ, his former employer who owned (and lost) a used bookstore and frequently went on poetry binges, and Milo, a former gay porn film projectionist who rents videos. Lala likes nice things, and novels without plots and failed bookstores certainly don’t provide for her. In an effort to impress her, Sam takes a job as an assistant to Solar Lonsky, a morbidly obese private eye who can’t leave his home.

Sam is tasked with following Ramona Doon, a beautiful young women with whom he becomes more and more intrigued. Yet he’s perplexed by his job. As he asks himself after observing Ramona one evening, “Was this what he sent me to learn? What mystery could it solve, what crime? Where was the victim, and who the criminal, besides me?”

Sam quickly finds the answer to that question, and as he is drawn deeper into Lonsky’s grip and Ramona’s spellbinding nature, Sam’s seemingly simple job becomes absurdly real, and Satanic rituals, porn, and doppelgangers confuse matters further.

Pulpy and raw, David Gordon’s writing is reminiscent of great noir while still retaining the shockingly real voice of a more modern fiction writer. Mystery Girl is an excellent exploration of a bumbling sad sack writer forced to transcend his own mediocrity.

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

See This, Not That – Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing

2nd July 2013

Have you guys seen this preview yet?

Because all I have to say about that, is this:

I mean, really.
And if you haven’t seen the latter version, I urge you to spend your pennies and rent it because it’s just the best. I may or may not have spent a week my freshman year in high school watching this over and over again. It’s pretty amazing.