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I like to be reflective. I like to think and feel — and anyone who knows me knows that I feel A LOT AND DEEPLY — so I wanted to challenge myself to really reflect on 2020, not just dismiss this entire year as shit. And you know what? I think all of us, not just myself, grew so much this year and in very notable ways. All of us went through several personal and collective crises, hurdles, celebrations, and life lessons that have all made us completely different than we were before. …


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THE Thanksgiving film you all know and love. Amateurs.

I’ve always thought it was weird that there aren’t that many Thanksgiving movies. It’s one of the few ubiquitous American holidays — every American celebrates it no matter what race, religion, gender, sexuality, occupation or star sign they are. So then why don’t we have the same wealth of Thanksgiving media that we do for a religious holiday like Christmas?

Yes, Thanksgiving whitewashes the very real and horrendous Native American genocide that European settlers brought with them to America and we do not do much (or anything, really) as a culture to reckon with that. We barely learned about the many atrocities committed against Native American people in the public school I went to in an area originally settled by the Potawatomi and Miami tribes which WE NEVER EVEN ONCE LEARNED. I HAD TO LOOK THAT UP LATER IN LIFE! This is all to say, I get those reasons for a lack of light-hearted celebration surrounding Thanksgiving. …


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Survivor is one of the greatest reality shows of all time, next to Tool Academy, 90 Day Fiance, and that one season of The Real World called The Real World: Skeletons in which they brought back random people from the housemates’ past (almost all of them were exes except for one girl whose petty frenemies came and told her to be more “namaste”). It’s no surprise that Survivor is definitively the best as it essentially reinvented reality TV and paved the way for much more audacious shows like Big Brother, Temptation Island and, of course, Joe Millionaire. It even sounds stupid or redundant to state plainly and unequivocally that Survivor is so good. …


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I am obsessed with the story of John Polidori. I’ve been working on a play for a few years about this story called Poor Polidori (contact me to produce when theater is alive again). I write about it briefly in my upcoming book (details to come). I’ve talked about it drunk at bars because I had great conversation skills even in The Before Times and usually one person would say, “this story is crazy! Why isn’t there a movie about it?”

There isn’t a movie about John Polidori’s life because it gets overshadowed by the other, bigger story that was present at the time of this story which is essentially how this story comes to be made to begin with. The major theme here in Polidori’s footnote in history is about being overshadowed, feeling like his life-force was being drained by someone bigger and flashier than he was. …


I went to high school in the 2000s which is a precarious time for films. Movies targeted at teens either featured skinny beautiful girls in low-rise jeans having adversarial relationships with each other to win over a man or gain popularity OR the movies made were indie flicks that featured a sullen guy trying to find himself who meets his quirky love interest, the manic pixie dream girl. In the early 2000s, she seemingly fluttered into our lives out of nowhere, as she often does in these films, with her colorful, choppy haircut and mix-matched clothes. She came to us seducing the leading man by playing The Shins or Lata Mangeshkar. She came to us talking incessantly about nothing of importance, but in an endearing way. She came to us with barely any backstory or goals of her own that weren’t to be explicitly charming and weird. She came to us and to the moody lead actor as a light in the darkness. …


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At the beginning of 2020, I had my tarot cards read for the year. It can be hilarious and eerie to connect the dots between the cryptic card’s pictures and the events that unfold in your life. I’ve written about that before and my friends and I love to talk about our psychic experiences. It can also bring clarity or give you a push in the right direction. But really it’s just fun. It’s fun to have someone guess about your life like you’re playing Two Truths and a Lie with playing cards.

I was so excited to see what 2020 would bring for me, as is everyone. No one literally looks ahead toward the blank expanse of the coming year and thinks ‘this will be the year it finally all goes to shit!’ We all LITERALLY say: “This will be our year!” and we mean it as if we’ve never said it about a year before. As if a year is something any of us can tackle or tame or at least expect a birthday gift from. …


WikiCommons North Avenue bus in Chicago
WikiCommons North Avenue bus in Chicago

I used to ride the bus a lot. I preferred it to the train because I got to see more of Chicago on the ground level. I took my time. Granted, this was back when I had time to kill, usually when I was in college or shortly afterward working various part-time jobs. I was so fascinated by my bus experiences that the first full-length play I wrote was about a CTA bus driver. Well, it was actually about transitioning from one phase in your life to another, but a bulk of the action takes place on a bus.

I always felt like the bus was a great unifier, bringing together people from all walks of life who happen to live in the same city. We ride together, in transition not from one stop to the next, from one part of our lives to another. …


I was walking a few paces behind a family. Mom, dad, and daughter. The parents seemed to be bickering, but I didn’t really notice until the mom raised her voice and then stormed away. She stomped her feet like a toddler as she marched away from hers. Her partner stood there with their child, watching her leave in a rapid huff.

“Mommy is making me sad,” their little girl tragically said in the smallest, cutest little kid voice you can imagine.

“I know,” the dad said. Then, louder: “Mommy is making ALL of us sad.”

I think about this all the time. It happened ten years ago and I still remember it. …


Right now comedy venues have closed and independent shows and mics are wisely not operating. Nor should they. Seriously — stay home — but that has me reflecting on the bests and the worsts of comedy. Comedians, in case you didn’t know, are generally self-obsessed narcissists who will (for the most part) insist they either crushed or bombed. I’m often surprised that my friends who are trained night-after-night to read a room can’t tell (or can’t admit) that sometimes? They just did fine.

Most of the time, you’re going to do fine. Fine is good. Fine is a B or a B+ even. I run two shows in Chicago and I can tell you unequivocally that most people do totally okay. That’s good! I usually do okay-to-good. If I was all crushing ALL THE TIME I wouldn’t be doing this dinky bar show because I’d be the best comedian in the whole world along with the all the other #absolutecrushers crushing it every single night everywhere. …


This scene is in so many movies and TV shows. People arrive at a hot party or an exclusive club. Don’t worry, one tells the other, I got this. We’re on the list. On the list, like those were the magic words, the abracadabra or open sesame of nightlife exclusivity.

They pull up to the bouncer — a scary looking man usually, larger than them, but also who is this guy? Why is this his job? He was probably kicked out of his hardcore biker gang otherwise he wouldn’t do this, so really how scary is he? But I digress — they approach the bouncer. …

About

Stephanie Weber

Stephanie is a writer and comedian whose work has been featured on Reductress, Slate, The Weekly Humorist, The AV Club, Mental Floss, Atlas Obscura and more.

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