Sunday, December 18, 2016

"the life-changing magic of NOT GIVING A F*CK" by Sarah Knight

   Sarah Knight, you are my new hero! Thank you for providing a game-plan for "how to stop spending time you don't have with people you don't like doing things you don't want to do"! (This is the rest of the book title, but it was just WAAAY TOO LONG to put in my blog title because I was afraid I'd lose the reader before they could even read this life-changing information.) But I must admit I'm a bit pissed at my hero -- why didn't I think of this first?!
   So simple but so profound, Knight parodies Marie Kondo's best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by teaching readers how to make a f*ck budget in the key areas of: things; work; friends, acquaintances, and strangers; and the biggest "F" bomb arena of them all, family. Yes, there is work involved here, making lists of all the f*cks you DON'T want to give as well as the f*cks you DO want to give. Knight helps get your list started by giving suggestions from her own life and from polls she's taken. But there is a huge payoff if you do your own in finding out all the time, energy, and money you will save by erasing all the Don't-GAFs (give a f*cks, of course) from your life and pouring more of yourself into the Do-GAFs. I was astounded by the things I was GAFing about that I didn't even realize were sucking me dry! And I figured out things on my Do-GAF list that I had been sorely neglecting, things I really need more of in my life right now to amp up my joy and help me fight off the I-hate-the-holidays funk and the damn-it's-cold-outside hibernation inclination.
   Knight also gives helpful tools for how to implement the Don't-GAF plan without hurting people's feelings or becoming an asshole (her word, not mine, and she really, REALLY likes that word), even giving concrete suggestions on how to navigate the conversations that are bound to come up when you stop doing or giving things that people have come to expect from you. Best of all, she provides ways to steel yourself from backtracking on your Don't-GAFs when changing up your life brings on anxiety or societal (AND FAMILY!) pressure to toe the line and conform. 
   If you are f*ck -- the word, not the "giving of" and/or "not giving of" -- avoidant, this may not be the book for you. Knight uses f*ck as a noun, verb, pronoun, adjective. Pretty much any way you can use the word, she does. But trust me, this book is truly life changing. IF you read it and do it. Especially at this time of year, with the stress, time crunches, and have-tos of the holidays and scratching out resolutions for the new year, this book can not only be a life changer but a life saver. You'll definitely want to give a f*ck about reading this book!   


Saturday, August 6, 2016

"Furiously Happy" by Jenny Lawson

   I am FURIOUSLY ANGRY right now at this book! Angry that it's over. No more furiously hilarious tales from the furiously funny Jenny Lawson to keep me convinced that the craziness of life is totally worth it to give us reasons to laugh. While I'm sad that I finished the book, I'm sure that my BFF Sparkle will be glad that the constant barrage of "You've got to read this quote, it will CRACK YOU UP!" emails will subside so that she can finally have time to read the actual book for herself. Furiously Happy is that furiously good!
   Jenny Lawson is a saint for sharing her struggles with depression, anxiety, and a host of physical ailments as well through bizarre and amusing anecdotes that entertain as much as enlighten her readers! I have bouts of The Black Funk (what I call my depression when my spirit feels no joy in anything and I search for reasons to wake up in the morning) myself at times, and this book has made me feel more "normal" and capable of coping. From now on, when The Black Funk creeps up on me, I'll think "WWJD?" (J for Jenny in this case, not Jesus) and give myself a break to feel how I feel. Then when I am feeling better, I will let myself be furiously happy! As Jenny wrote:

"It's about taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they're the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It's the difference between 'surviving life' and 'living life.' It's the difference between 'taking a shower' and 'teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair.' It's the difference between being 'sane' and being 'furiously happy.'" 

   I love monkeys and I hate to shampoo my hair, so I'm totally on board!
   As I always do, I'll share some of my fave parts to get new readers started. (Sparkle, if you are reading this blog, you can skip these. I've already emailed them to you!)

From the "My Phone Is More Fun to Hang Out with Than Me" chapter (about phone messages she leaves to herself while on sleeping pills):

"If you put a bunch of chameleons on top of a bunch of chameleons on top of a bowl of Skittles what would happen? Is that science? Because if so, I finally get why people want to do science."

From the "What I Say to My Shrink vs. What I Mean" chapter:

"I've been having problems concentrating. I think I might have ADD."

Meaning: "I've been watching YouTube videos of kittens falling too much when I'm supposed to be working and if my editor finds out I'm going to need for you to write me a doctor's note explaining that it's a medical condition."

From the "Things My Father Taught Me" chapter:

"On the other side of fear is freedom. And usually fewer fingers than you started with. Everyone is born with extra fingers. God expects you to cut off a few during your journey. Otherwise he wouldn't have made power tools so awesome."

"There will be moments when you have to be a grown-up. Those moments are tricks. Do not fall for them."

   Besides these fave parts, I totally I DIG her husband, Victor!! Their "arguments" throughout the book are pee-yourself riots! Since I work at a hair salon, the "And This Is Why I Prefer to Cut My Own Hair" chapter is PRICELESS! And the "pretend you're good at it" advice, from the chapter by the same name, is helping me through a new challenge I am facing right now. Good stuff! Plus, there's a dead-raccoon rodeo in her kitchen and everything you'd ever want to know about George Washington's dildo. I am serious!
   All this is just a snippet of what I love about this book. If it wouldn't rob Jenny of a book sale (and give me typer's cramp), I would write out the whole damn book. But I'll stop now and give my review readers tons more material to laugh at and enjoy for themselves!
  And don't worry about me, Jenny, I won't be sad for long. I've got your first book Let's Pretend This Never Happened on the way!

Rory riding Ferris Mewler in the dead-raccoon rodeo

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-star" by Judy Greer

   Yes, Judy Greer, I DO know what I know you from! Not from having read your book though. When I saw your picture on the cover, I thought you looked like Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton, the sexy, slutty scientist that banged some of my Big Bang Theory nerd pals in "The Plimpton Stimulation" episode. So I got the book thinking there would be juicy tidbits about my fave show. Not. Not even one mention of you having been on the show. So I googled the episode, and sure enough, it WAS you!

   Do I regret reading your book despite being Big Bang deprived? Hell no! You and your book are a HOOT! In fact, I think we could be BFFs! I love the movie The American President, just like you do! I watched it again for the gozillionth time last night. And I love dogs! Your Buckley can lay belly-up on my couch anytime while we chick chat over cocktails. You can regale me with more hilarious tales about all the TV shows and movies you've co-starred in, and I will let you cry on my shoulder about your FX series Married being cancelled. I never actually watched the show, but I saw the lead-in while watching Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll on my DVR and it looked FUNNY! (Sorry, but I've only got so much time to watch TV while I'm treadmilling, and between keeping up with BBT and replaying S&D&R&R I ran out of time!) Hey, at least you got a starring role for two seasons, right? And I promise, I won't ever say you look better in person than you do in your roles. EVER! Because I know how you hate that. You mentioned it several times in the book. Several.
     Loved your book! I really dig your quirky sense of humor and admire your big lady-balls in putting yourself out there in print. Keep on acting and writing. You're so good at it, Star 2 B! (You made it!! I'm sure your dad is so proud!) I will watch back episodes of Married, I promise, as well as look for you in upcoming shows and movies and books now that I know your name, Judy Greer!

Friday, January 1, 2016

"Year Of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes

   I say, "Yes, Yes, Yes!" to Shonda Rhimes' new memoir Year Of Yes with the same exuberance as Meg Ryan portrayed her character Sally's faux orgasm in the movie When Harry Met Sally! Loved it! 

   While not a self-help book, Year Of Yes certainly could be as Rhimes takes the reader through an entire year of changing up her entire life by saying "YES" to doing things that would have previously been met with an automatic and fierce "NO" to avoid the
   Dry mouth.
   Heart beats so, so fast.
   Everything in slow motion.
   Pass out, die, poop.
results she had feared most of her life. By saying "yes," Rhimes becomes fearless in facing giving a commencement speech at her alma mater, taking back her body and health, cutting loose soul-sucking friends, and owning her own badassery (her word, and I dig it!), among other things. And she doesn't pass out, die, or poop. Not once. But she does become happier. And stronger. And through telling about her journey, she made me laugh so many times, which I SO needed as I was reading this book while trying to survive the holidays working at a crazy McCray-cray (my word, do you dig it?) busy hair salon. And she made me ponder things in my life I've been saying "no" to, which maybe should be a "yes." So Year Of Yes is a bonus book: a memoir with self-help snippets at no extra charge. If you've read any of my writing, you know how I love a bonus.
   In case you didn't know -- I didn't, I will admit it -- Rhimes is the powerhouse behind the shows Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, aka the "Thank God It's Thursday" lineup on ABC. Not being familiar with her shows, I sometimes felt like I was reading a foreign language about her "ride or dies," "dancing it out," and the Papa Pope references. But still I loved the book. She shares so many "I need to be doing that" ideas and quotable quotes, but my fave part is from the "Yes to Who I Am" chapter:

"We all spend our lives kicking the crap out of ourselves for not being this way or that way, not having this thing or that thing, not being like this person or that person.

For not living up to some standard we think applies across the board to all of us.

We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules.

I think we believe that happiness lies in following the same list of rules.

In being more like everyone else.

That? Is wrong.

There is no list of rules.

There is one rule.

The rule is: there are no rules.

Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be."

   See? Self-help bonus! Maybe this quote isn't news to you, but it's definitely something I needed to be reminded of. At this beginning of a new year, the Year Of Yes has given me plenty to ponder in changes I want to make in my life. And another bonus, new (to me) TV shows to check out during the long, cold winter nights ahead.
   Thanks, Shonda Rhimes, for a fabulous read and so, so many bonuses!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert

   I dig the title Big Magic, but in keeping with Liz Gilbert's blockbuster book that became a mega-hit movie, this book should be called "Feast, Meditate, Adore." Loved it!
   Gilbert serves up a buffet of practical but inspired advice on living your most creative life, no matter what mode of mojo that stirs your creative juices. Served up in small delicious helpings so you can graze instead of feeling stuffed with information, she takes you through all the courses needed to satisfy your creative appetite and keep you coming back for more: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, and divinity.
   I devoured Big Magic in three days but spent a lot of time in ceiling-staring contemplation while the big ideas took their time sinking in. Gilbert seems to have had her act together even as a teenager in wanting to be a writer and committing to it no matter what, believing in herself and believing that if she courts inspiration, inspiration will find her again and again. Me? Not so much. Many of the lessons she imparts I've had to learn the hard way, through beating my head against the table where I write until there finally comes an "aha" moment from observing my patterns and seeing the big picture. So many things Gilbert teaches I still didn't know, and Big Magic will be my bible going forth to keep me on the creative path and save me from many head-beating headaches.
   I adore Gilbert's writing style, simple and succinct, but zesty with real-life anecdotes and delectable quotes. Some of my fave parts are "The Shit Sandwich," "Fierce Trust" -- the outcome cannot matter (I've already pinned this quote on my life tips cork board!) -- and the Liz Gilbert/Ann Patchett Amazonian mind-meld connection. There wasn't total adoration though. Gilbert challenged me, even shamed me on letting my ego get in the way and expecting rewards from something (creativity/inspiration) given to me freely. But these were lessons I needed to learn. She also pissed me off in dissing my dream of winning the lottery. She calls it "self-infantilizing." I call it "the hope of retirement," Sweetie. But I forgive her, and I'll keep buying those lottery tickets so someday I might be able to quit my day job and devote myself to becoming a writer half as good as Liz Gilbert. Until then, I will look in the mirror and say "I am a writer," I will sit down and put words on paper every day in the snippets of time I can find, and I will let myself PLAY with writing and whatever other creative inclinations that inspiration sends my way. I will remember:

"You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don't understand the outcome."

   Thanks, Liz!   

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation" by Melissa Rivers

   OMJ, I just finished The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers and it is this Joan Ranger's dream come true! "What the heck is a Joan Ranger?" you may be asking. According to, a Joan Ranger is "fans and followers of Joan Rivers while she is hosting Fashion Police on the E! Network." As an actual Joan Ranger, I would take the definition way beyond fans and followers, I would go all the way to devotees, fanatics, even junkies. It is hard for me to believe, even harder to admit, that until a couple of years ago I didn't know what a Joan Ranger was, didn't even really care for Joan Rivers. I thought she was obnoxious. That all changed the first time I watched Fashion Police -- I WAS HOOKED, just like a coke addict after snorting their first line! Joan was hilarious, cracking me up and often slaying her cohosts "G" (Giuliana Rancic), Kel-Kel (Kelly Osbourne), and Georgie-Porgie (George Kotsiopoulos) with her raucous quips to the point that sometimes they couldn't even speak when it was their turn to comment. They were in shock and guffaw, while I was in fashion and funny heaven, literally dragging my ass through the work week just to get to my Friday night Fashion Police fix. Ask my boyfriend, when Fashion Police was on, he no longer existed.
   Since Ms. Joan passed in September 2014, I have been subsisting on the Fashion Police: Remembering Joan Rivers 90-minute special (unfortunately the only FP I saved on the DVR, which has been viewed and savored many times!), watching Giuliana and Kelly host red carpet events, and the short-lived revival of Fashion Police with Kathy Griffin at the helm. Believe me, the lack of Joan in my life has been depressing, like hearing about Lindsay Lohan in the news but without Joan's follow-up ba-rum-bum rehab or vagina jokes: what could have been funny was just sad. BUT, my life just got a lot better with The Book of Joan! Melissa Rivers is hilarious, too, with a caustic wit a lot like her mother's but with a sliver of sweetness to it, plus her own daughter-of-a-diva view of the world. Reading the book, which I did in two and a half days (and one of those days I had to work!), was like getting a behind-the-scenes pass to hang out with Joan and Melissa in real life. And what a cray-cray life they had together! There are way too many uproarious scenes to recount here, but one in particular -- "The Purse" chapter, page 155 -- about bacon bits and fake blood had me laughing so hard I was crying right in the middle of getting a pedicure and the Asian nail technician started fanning me because she must have thought I was being overcome by shellac remover fumes! 
   If you are a Fashion Police lover, a fashionista, a Joan Rivers' fan, or just someone who likes to laugh, read the book. You'll love it, it's a gem! Melissa Rivers is not only funny but an excellent writer as well. And it gets even better: she will be co-hosting Fashion Police when it returns in August. Melissa was the producer before and often sat in as guest co-host when one of the regulars was away, so I always thought she would be the perfect person to resurrect the show. Now after reading her book, I know it's meant to be. She is truly funny in her own right and the only one capable of filling Joan's chair.
   Melissa Rivers, this Joan Ranger salutes you and can't wait to hear your first pick for fash-hole of the week! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"The Woman I Wanted To Be" by Diane von Furstenberg

   If you ever wondered why most of my book reviews are of memoirs or biographies, The Woman I Wanted To Be is why. Despite reading being one of my fave things to do, time to just sit and have a leisurely read-fest is limited. In order to get the biggest bang for my buck -- to be entertained as well as to learn something new -- I gravitate to reading what is REAL. Plus I guess I'm a bit of a voyeur and enjoy peeping inside another person's life without being considered a stalker. Believe me, a book doesn't get any more real, more entertaining, more full of wisdom out the wazoo, and more behind-closed-doors titillating than The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane von Furstenberg!
   I have admired DVF since her explosion into the Seventies fashion scene with the wrap dress. She and her clingy, jersey dresses were the epitome of Studio 54 sexy chic! I envied her wild flaming red hair, her sensual confidence, her European sophistication and style, and her real-life princess turned fashion designer fairytale-like journey. Now, after reading her book, I know she is a woman just like me -- often unsure; sometimes taking wrong turns; struggling with aging and feeling good about yourself in a youth-obsessed world; and striving to live your life as true and full as possible so in the end there are no regrets -- and I admire her even more. Through it all, the many highs and lows and reincarnations of herself and her brand, DVF has focused on "the woman she wants to be" and kept marching forward to make that happen. Thank you, Diane, for showing me the way as well!
   In order not to quote the whole damn book (it's that good, but I want you to read it for yourself!), I'll share just a few of the passages that I will carry with me as I march forward:      

On facing challenges: "When I have an obstacle in front of me, especially of someone else's making, I say 'OK. I don't like it, but I can't change it, so let's find a way around it.' Then I find a different path to a solution, which so satisfies me that I forget what the problem was in the first place. Of all the lessons my mother drummed into me, that was perhaps the most important. How could you possibly better yourself if you didn't face your challenges up front or if you laid your problems off on someone or something else and didn't learn from them?"

Beauty is: "Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty. All these attributes form beauty, and personality, that elusive state of being that is not necessarily perfect."

The truth about aging: "Aging is out of your control. How you handle it, though, is in your hands."

"And never, ever lie about your age. Who can lie with the Internet anyway? To embrace your age is to embrace your life. Lying about your age, or about anything for that matter, is the beginning of trouble; it is the beginning of lying about who you are. What is important is to live fully every single day of every period of every age so that no time gets wasted."

"The best thing about aging, I have come to understand, is that you have a past. No one can take that away, so you'd better like it. That is why it is so important to waste no time. By living fully every day, you create your life and that becomes your past, a rich past."

"In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. My life is written on my face. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you're a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you've taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I've taken. My curiosity and love of life have filled me with colors and experiences and I wear them all with gratitude and pride. My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them?"

Becoming the woman you want to be: "You cannot have a good relationship with anyone, unless you first have it with yourself. Once you have that, any other relationship is a plus, and not a must. Become your best friend; it is well worth it. It takes a lot of work and it can be painful because it requires honesty and discipline. It means you have to accept who you are, see all your faults and weaknesses. Having done that, you can correct, improve, and little by little discover the things you do like about yourself and start to design your life. There is no love unless there is truth and there is nothing truer than discovering and accepting who you really are. By being critical, you will find things you dislike as well as things you like, and the whole package is who you are. The whole package is what you must embrace and the whole package is what you have control of. It is you! Everything you think, do, like, becomes the person you are and the whole thing weaves into a life, your life."

"I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become."

   Beyond all the life lessons Diane imparts, this memoir is packed full of celebrity tidbits, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the fashion industry, tales of her travels around the globe, a fabulous photo gallery, and juicy details of the many loves of a woman who likes to fall in love. Loved it, loved it all!  
   What a fascinating and inspiring woman DVF was, is, and will continue to become!