The Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert — LIVE!

The Joy In Her Heart Overflowed And Colored All She Saw
photo by Lotus Carroll of Lotus Carroll

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Welcome to the The 2014 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert! It is my honor to be with you here for the eighth year of this concert. Thank you for keeping this blogging tradition alive. May we all be happy, healthy, and creatively productive in 2015!

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YouTube Preview ImageAng Pasko Ay Sumapit (Christmas Has Arrived) performed by Nenette Alejandria Mayor of Life Candy and her daughter, Miranda.

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YouTube Preview ImageJoy the the World performed by Kristen Howerton from Rage Against the Minivan, Chad Markley from California Loves Culture and Lauren Francis from Beer and Hymns Orange County singing Joy To The World.

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YouTube Preview ImageSnow Day performed by Mary Long of Marty Suttle Long and Kevin Long

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gingerbread
photo by Veronica McCabe Deschambault

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YouTube Preview ImageGod Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and The First Noel performed by Laurie LaGrone of Foolery and Mac Caywood of the Orland Federated Church Jubilee Bell Choir

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YouTube Preview ImageHappy Christmahanukakwanzaakah performed by Leah, the daughter of Louise Gleeson of Late Night Plays

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noteSanta Baby performed by Anne Riotto

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YouTube Preview ImageWhite Winter Hymnal performed by Jenny of Oh Jenny Mae and her daughter Molly.

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merry
photo by Jennifer Gosden

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YouTube Preview ImagePetit Papa Noel performed by Oscar and Posey, the children of Bon Stewart of The Theory Blog

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YouTube Preview ImageHanukkah at Christmas performed by Tamar Jacobson of Mined Nuggets

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YouTube Preview ImageInterrupting Jingle Bells performed by Dresden Julia Shumaker of Creating Motherhood and her son

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noteSaint Nuit (Silent Night in French) performed Natalie Helene LeBlanc

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jana
photo by Jana Anthoine of Jana’s Thinking Place

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YouTube Preview ImageO Holy Night performed by Elizabeth Flora Ross of The Writer Revived

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YouTube Preview ImageOh Come All Ye Faithful performed by Paula Kiger of Green Big Pen

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YouTube Preview ImageRock of Ages performed by Elisa Camahort Page of BlogHer

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New York Christmas
photo by Martin Karaffa of Deutschland uber Elvis

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YouTube Preview ImageTom Lehrer’s A Christmas Carol performed by Celeste Lindell of Average Jane

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YouTube Preview ImageDona Nobis Pacem performed by Lori Holden of Lavender Luz and her sisters

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YouTube Preview ImageRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer performed by Jenn Mattern of Jennifer Mattern, her mother Elaine, and her daughters Hattie and Sophie

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noteMaoz Tzur played on the accordian by Sister Becky Swanson

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Ellen and Larry
photo by Ellen Bloom of LA is My Beat

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YouTube Preview ImageChristmas in O’Hare performed by Tom Carrozza, music and lyrics by Tom Carrozza and Noel Katz of There’s Gotta Be a Song

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YouTube Preview ImageGood King Wenceslas performed by Alejna of Collecting Tokens and her daughter Phoebe

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YouTube Preview ImageYou’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch performed by Karl Erikson of Secondhand Tryptophan

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YouTube Preview ImageJoy to the World performed by Elizabeth “Kizz” Robinson of 117 Hudson and friends

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Kathy & Kloe
photo by Kathy Gottbert of SmartLiving365

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YouTube Preview ImageWe’ve Got Christmas Magic by Danny Miller of Jew Eat Yet and Cinephiled with his kids, Leah and Charlie

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YouTube Preview ImageThe Twelve Days in Florida performed by Aliza Worthington of The Worthington Post and Shoshana Kohn

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YouTube Preview ImageThe Latke That Couldn’t Stop Screaming, a Reading by Lisa Rae Page Rosenberg of Smacksy and her son Bob

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Twas the Night Before Christmahanukwanzaakah, a NSFW NOT-family friendly version of the famous poem, written by Adam Avitable of Avitable

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joy
photo by Annette Kiesow

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YouTube Preview ImageHave Yourself a Very Merry Christmas performed by Elizabeth “Kizz” Robinson of 117 Hudson and Sara of Sara Gardens

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YouTube Preview ImageJingle Bells performed by the children of Deborah Grinter of Bright and Precious

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YouTube Preview ImageJingle Bells performed by The String Bean, age 5, the daughter of Elizabeth Flora Ross of The Writer Revived

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tree
photo by Chrissy Wojdyla of Quirky Chrissy

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YouTube Preview ImageHark the Herald Angels Sing performed by Jenny Gaskell of Tranquila Mama

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YouTube Preview ImageDon’t Be Fooled performed by Tara Livesay of Livesay Haiti and the Livesay family

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YouTube Preview ImageThe Twelve Days of Christmas performed by Michelle Kosboth of Midlyfe Mama and her son Cooper

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YouTube Preview ImageO Holy Night performed by The DramaGeek.com team (Kristen Howerton, Austin Rivers, and Andre Goddard)

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Menorah
Photo by Carol Zwick of Buttercup Counts Her Blessings

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YouTube Preview ImageElf… You Better Go Back Home, an original song performed by Linda Roy of Elleroy was Here

YouTube Preview ImageIt’s Hanukkah Time in the USA performed by Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month

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YouTube Preview ImageSkating by Vince Guaraldi performed by Angela Reiner Downing of Fluid Pudding

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collage xmas
photo by Karen Delaney Dino of Journey Back to Self

Thank you for another year of online friendship, debate, following, unfollowing, laughs, and tears.

Nine years!  Can you believe it?

Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013

PeaceCard
photo by Melissa McLaughlin Tingley

Posted in Blogging and the Internet, Music | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past

ghost

Oh great, all weekend my Facebook feed was filled with your damn Chrismahanukwanzakah trees and decorations and menorahs, and your obnoxious kids singing in their school choirs, posing as clean-cut, as if we didn’t know they spend the rest of the year Snapchatting photos of themselves to the other kids in junior high.

I hate the holidays, and I don’t understand how any of you can express any joy and hope or celebrate life when we live in a world filled with sexism, racism, agism, genderism, fat shaming, and the death of the political magazine, The New Republic. What’s there to celebrate?

You want to know how I see Chrismahanukwanzakah? I see it as one big DOLLAR SIGN to sell you my overpriced New York City prints of Rockefeller Center that you could probably get on the street in Times Square for five bucks. It’s a time for profit for me, an excuse to build traffic, a drug to feed you so you will avoid worrying about the growing inequality between the salarys of CEOs and you.

But I don’t need to worry — As a straight white men I will one day be the 1%, as ordained by God, controlling the world while the rest of you eat Hot Pockets for dinner. Feminist ally, give me a break. Santa delivers the toys while Mrs. Santa stays at home, keeping the fire warm. That’s the way of the world.

Chrismahanukwanzakah, who needs it?!

I’d rather sit by myself on December, watching old sex tapes of Kim Kardashian than celebrate some fake holiday with some pretentious bloggers who aren’t talented enough to be REAL writers and photographers.

That’s what Chrismahanukwanzakah means to me on December 18, and nothing can ever change my mind. Nothing.

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I was restless last night. The rain and wind beat against the window as if they were my enemies. A ghost appeared. He had wiry white hair and was dragging a tail of clanging chains. He scared the shit out of me.

“Who are you?” I screamed.

“I am the Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past,” he said. “I hear that you hate all blogging concerts that celebrate the holiday.”

“F*ck blogging. Blogging is dead. It’s a waste of time. Why celebrate it? Better to write for the Huffington Post for exposure. I wish I never started blogging or doing any of this inane social media crap. What have I gained from it? Nothing.”

“I see. But have you thought about the others? Do you dare to see what type of world this would be if you never existed as Neilochka online? How much you would be missed?”

“I would love to see this world.”

“Then let it be so.”

The ghost raised his arm, and after what felt like a brief earthquake, he nodded towards me.

“It is now so. The world is now what it would be if you NEVER started blogging or went online.”

I jumped out of bed and looked out the window. It looked exactly the same as it did before. I grabbed my iPhone and went on Twitter. Everyone was joking and fighting with each other about racism and feminism as if I never existed, and no one seemed to care that I wasn’t putting in my two cents.

“So what exactly is different?” I asked.

Scarlett Johansson entered my bedroom, just wearing her underwear.

“Scarlett Johansson? What are you doing here?!”

“I’m you wife, Neil. You are more famous than I am. You wrote ten bestselling novels because you never wasted all your time on your stupid blog or flirting with married women on Facebook.”

“Oh my God! This is awful to learn how much time I wasted online with my blog! But how is this supposed to make me love blogging more or care about some lame Christmahanukwanzaakah concert? If anything, I hate it all MORE. What type of ghost are you? I want to stay here and live THIS live, where I am writing the novels and bonking Scarlett Johansson at night! Give me ONE good reason for going back in time or participating in some Christmahanukwanzaakah concert, now knowing that blogging totally f*cked up my life!”

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“Let’s make love again,” said Scarlett Johansson. I looked at her. We were in bed. She was naked. She was perfection.

“I want you now,” she said, and climbed on top of me. It was a fantasy come true. I was living the life I would have had if only I had never started my useless blog or wasted time on social media. A poster hung on the wall of last week’s New York Times book section, where all ten of the bestselling books were written by me.

“You know, Scarl,” I said, “I need to get new eyeglasses. What type of glasses should I get?”

“Whatever you want,” she said purring and biting my neck.

“Do you think I should the squarish ones from Warby Parker, or can you see me in round glasses, like Harry Potter?”

“I don’t know. It’s up to you.”

“I’m also thinking of buying new jeans. Do you think I should buy the 501s or the 514s? Have you ever heard of Joe’s Jeans? Are they worth $150?”

“Are we making love or not?”

“I’m just making small talk. You know, like foreplay.”

“It’s not foreplay talking about your glasses and your pants. It’s boring and annoying. Shut up,” she said, as she put her hand over my mouth and shut off the light on the night table.

I should have been happy. I was a best-selling novelist, and Scarlett Johansson couldn’t take her hands off me. But I felt unsettled, as if my life wasn’t complete.

After our amazing lovemaking, with my gorgeous movie star wife sleeping at my side, I tiptoed into the living room and sat in front of my laptop. This was an alternative universe given to me by the Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past, so I knew that when I logged into Facebook that I would not be a user. I quickly signed up for Facebook.

I proceeded to write my first update.

“Hi there! I’m new here, but I was wondering if you can help me out deciding what type of glasses and jeans I should buy?”

And within seconds, despite me being a completely new user, the answers started rolling in, from strangers, good Samaritans far and near, people who didn’t know me from a bug on the wall but had so much free time that they bothered to care about my glasses and jeans. It was amazing, even thrilling.

“Get the round glasses!”

“Buy the glasses online!”

“I LOVE Joe’s Jeans”

“I wrote a post last week about the best jeans. Here is the link!”

“If you buy the jeans and glasses both at the same time from Amazon, you can save shipping!”

Even those who were somehow bothered by my question, still offered useful bits of advice.

“First World White Dude’s Problem! Get a F**king Life.”

Tears started running down my cheek. So many people caring about me, even in anger, wanting to help me find the important answers to life, or educate me on how I was wrong. Sure, being a bestselling novelist and bonking Scarlet Johansson was nice, but could it ever replace the intimacy and care of the community I could find online?

“Bring me back, Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past! Bring me back to my old life when I was blogging and on Twitter and Facebook all the time with people who answered my stupid questions. It’s wasn’t as if online friends couldn’t live without me; I can’t life without them! What’s the fun of being a bestselling novelist and bonking Scarlett Johansson every night without bragging about it to my loser online friends, or at least posting a few photos on Instagram? Bring me back, Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past! I now understand the importance of Christmahanukwanzaakah and all my blogging and social media friends! Bring me back, and I will help make this year’s Ninth Annual Online Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert the best one yet!

And then, the earth shook, and the lights flickered, and the thunder screamed, and suddenly I was back in my bed. Instead of Scarlett Johansson next to me, it was my iPhone. The Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past had granted me my wish and returned me to my old life. I quickly opened my Facebook app, and praised the Lord that my old account was back, along with my 1000 fake friends.

I noticed that there was a new comment on my last post, an update asking for advice on a new vaccum cleaner.

“First World White Dude’s Problem! Get a F**king Life.” wrote the commenter — G.C.P.

And I laughed, as hearty and joyful as Santa’s ho ho ho. I immediately knew who G.C.P was – the Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past himself and I thought I heard some thunder in the distance.

“Everyone is on Facebook nowadays,” I thought.

Thank you G.C.P. Thank you for everything you did. I had learned the true meaning of Christmahanukwanzaakah — You can bonk Scarlett Johansson several times a day, but without “community,” no one will ever know.

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The Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. December 18th.

Posted in Blogging and the Internet, Literary | Tagged | 7 Comments

“Hang Out in Another Neighborhood” Day

MLK

I was the opening speaker at the graduation of my Queens elementary school, P.S. 154. I still remember most of the speech. It was a sixth grader’s riff on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.”  He was a hero to everyone, including me.

There were three portraits on the wall of my classroom that year– George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King.  We were a mixed school of different religions and races, and it was as clear as anything that society was changing fast — and that this was the future. We were heading towards a color-blind society where no one would care about the color of your skin, only about how many baseball cards you had in your pocket.

My father was about as liberal as you can get, donating his time and money to numerous causes, but I would cringe when he would mention the word “Negro” or “Oriental,” but eventually I understood that he was extremely good-hearted, just using words from another generation.

I’m now the person from another generation, with outdated language and ideas.   It’s taken me longer than some of my other friends to understand that being color-blind is racist.  I still grumble about the concept of male privilege.   I still catch myself being sexist.   I never was taught about these structural issues in school. We were more about equal rights under the law. Even Martin Luther King, with his mainstream views on integration and non-violence, seems old-school today.

I bring this all up because I had this weird idea this morning, and it won’t make any sense without first giving it some context. I’ve been reading a lot about Ferguson, racism, and the inequality of our society, but much of it doesn’t inspire me in the way that Dr. King once did.   Sure, we can boycott Black Friday or unfriend racist friends, but so what? I know this might sound overly-sentimental, but I’d love to find a way to fight injustice by creating some goodwill between communities, getting people to learn about each other, much as we did back in P.S. 154, when we went over to each other’s houses to do our homework, and experienced neighborhoods different than our own.   Anger at the America is important, and we should be angry, but we also need to feel as if there is hope.

It seems as if America’s biggest problem is that we remain segregated, sometimes even more than I remember in the past. White and Asian people are irrationally afraid of black and Latino areas because of the fear of crime. Black and Latinos feel uncomfortable in white areas in fear of ethnic stereotyping.

Solution — we need a way to start sabotaging this fear.

We’re always creating days online, “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to “Buy a Donut Day,” so why not create a “Hang Out in Another Neighborhood Day,” where Americans purposely go out of their comfort zone to connect with those who live in other neighborhoods, particularly those where the residents are different than themselves?

Imagine if hundreds of white folk and their families went into Ferguson for the day — buying burgers at the local McDonald’s, going to the local church, visiting the park, and getting to know how the other half lives. At the same time, black folks and their families, who are intimidated from entering certain well-off white neighborhoods, are invited WITH OPEN ARMS into these neighborhoods to have lattes at some upscale coffee ship or to do some shopping at the local stores.   Even if it is just for one day, it will make everyone less afraid of each other, because we would all cross the invisible red line.

And it is all perfectly legal.   And it might even been fun.  At least it would help demystify each other.

New Yorkers — “Hang Out in Another Neighborhood Day” — Upper East Siders — go have brunch in the South Bronx. Walk around. Support the stores there. Those who live in South Jamaica — have you ever been to Tiffany’s in Manhattan? Come in and take a look. Even if you can’t afford it now, at least realize that you are free to browse freely at any time.

Los Angeles — Beverly Hills folk — go have a BBQ sandwich in Compton, and then go to some of the small businesses in the area. Folk in Compton — have you ever seen the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel?   Why not?

Some people are going to hate this idea, because it doesn’t really deal with the systematic racism in our society.   That the white people get to go back to their fancy neighborhoods while the others are stuck in a police state.   It is an idea that isn’t angry enough.   Structural inequality will not be solved by gimmicks.    I get it.   But since I am old school, still inspired by my elementary school speech promising Dr. King to further his hopes of a less segregated society, I present this corny but radical little idea to you for your perusal.

Posted in Life in General, News and Politics | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Mom, Are You a Feminist?

mom

I’m eating some chicken soup my mother made (yes, true!) while reading an article online, when I decide to ask my mother the big question that will finally decide the course of Western history.

Me:  Mom, are you a feminist?

Mom:  Uh, what do you mean?

Me:   Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Mom:    Well, I always worked as a woman.

Me:   That doesn’t mean you are a feminist. Do you believe in equal pay for men and women?

Mom:    Yes.

Me:   And do you believe that both a man and a woman can be the boss?

Mom:    Of course. I was an office manager.

Me:   Will you vote for a woman president?

Mom:    Sure. Like Hillary Clinton. But it’s not like I’m going to vote for that Kardashian woman just because she’s a woman.

Me:  Do you think a feminist should look a certain way?  Like not wear lipstick or shave her legs?

Mom:  She could do what she wants.   I mean, eventually, she’ll probably have to shave her legs at least once.  If she wants to date.  Or before her wedding.

Me:   And what do you think about the different roles of mothers and fathers?

Mom:    Well, I do believe that a parent should stay at home with a young child.

Me:   Aha!  Gotcha!  So, you think a mother should stay at home?

Mom:    No, it could be the father.

Me:  Interesting.   So it doesn’t matter?

Mom:  I think women tend to have a better touch with young kids, but if the woman makes more money than her husband, what’s the difference?  As long as one of them stays home.

Me:   Hmm… so, isn’t it a bit hypocritical considering that you didn’t follow your own rule.  You and dad both worked.  You weren’t always home for me.   Is this why I’m in therapy?

Mom:    No, you’re in therapy because you’re crazy. I DID stayed at home until you went to first grade. Don’t you remember?

Me:   Not really.

Mom:  And then when I worked in the city, you always had your Grandma Annette to go to after school in case I had to work late.

Me:   Still sounds like I was a latch-key child without a home.   I’m blaming feminism for giving me social anxiety.

Mom:    Maybe, but remember this, with both of us working, at least we were able to afford to send you to an expensive college.  Where you ended up studying poetry.

Me:   OK, well, thank you for that.   And talking about college.  Here’s a big issue today.  Do you think both men and women are equipped to study in fields such as math, science, and engineering?

Mom:    I wish YOU had studied in math, science, and engineering rather than being an English major who spends time taking photos on his iPhone.  Maybe that’s why you’re in therapy!

Me:   So you believe women belong in technology?

Mom:   Mrs. Kubota’s daughter, Grace, works in Silicon Valley and sends her mother on a cruise every year. So, yes, women can work in match, science, and engineering.

My mother goes into the kitchen.

Mom:  Would you like some more soup?

Me:   No, thanks.

Mom:    Are you sure? There’s only a little left.

Me:   Mom, we are talking feminism here.

Mom:    So, you can’t be a Jewish mother and a feminist?

Me:   OK, I’ll have some more soup.

My mother pours me some more soup.

Me:  And while we’re at it, let’s discuss cooking at home? Do you think that is more a job for a wife than a husband?

Mom:   Ha Ha, no.

Me:   So why didn’t Dad ever cook? You did all the cooking. That wasn’t fair.

Mom:    Well, that’s me marrying wrong. Or the fault of Grandma Annette for never showing your father how to make anything other than a peanut butter sandwich. That’s how it was back then. But today, men love to cook. When you watch Top Chef, half of the best chefs are men, so I sure hope they are also making dinner at home for their wives.  In fact, this weekend, I’m showing you how to make a brisket.

Me:   What about cleaning? Why do women do more of the cleaning at home? That’s also not fair.

Mom:    Now THAT has to change. The biggest scam ever created.  By men.

Me:   So you ARE a feminist?

Mom:    Yes. And I think cleaning the house equally should be the top priority.

Case Closed.   My mother is a feminist.

Posted in Life with My Parents, News and Politics | Tagged , | 31 Comments

The Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

holiday concert

It is time for the announcement of the Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, all new, all exciting for 2014!

Nine years!  Can you believe it?

Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013

This year’s concert will take place on December 18, 2014 right here on this blog.

It is time to hear YOU PERFORM!   YOU are the CONCERT.  That gives you about a month to work your magic.

Sign up in the comments today.

Concert FAQ:

1.  Create a video (or audio) file of you performing a holiday song.  If you need technical help, ask me.

2.  You must be performing in the audio or video.   Don’t cheat and have your cute kids doing all the work.

3.  You can sing, play an instrument, recite poetry, dance the Nutcracker, or write a symphony.

4.  Once completed, post the video on a place like YouTube and send me the link.   Or just send me the file via Dropbox or email, and I will post it on YouTube.   Try to get me all files and links by Tuesday, December 16, 2014, two days before the concert!  That gives you plenty of time to be creative.

5.  If you are too wimpy to sing a song, send me a holiday photo for concert decoration.  It could be of your tree, menorah, or plain ol’ winter solstice if you are a heathen.

6.  The comment section is the sign-up sheet.    By signing up, we can see who is performing what, so we can avoid having ten versions of “Let it Go.”

7.  Most importantly — don’t be intimidated if you can’t sing.    We like to laugh at you.

Join us in the longest-running holiday concert online — The Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, now in it’s ninth season!

Posted in Blogging and the Internet, Music | Tagged | 49 Comments

Waiting and Acting

walk

In therapy this week, I felt something deep,like a voice from childhood.  Someone telling me to wait.   Study and prepare.   Or risk the humiliation.   And all of a sudden I wasn’t there for humorous fodder for Facebook but because I needed it.   Two years since my divorce, my going to New Zealand, and my coming back to New York, and I’m still in retreat, waiting, studying and preparing.

I put on some 70s funk music on  Spotify.   And the music tells me, in this funkiest way possible, that there is no humiliation in acting. There is no humiliation.  There is no humiliation.   Acting only brings joy to the world, not only for you, but for everyone else.   You’re not here on Earth to think.  You’re here to act.

I need to act.  Don’t think.  Just act.  Start small.

 

Posted in Life in General | Tagged | 10 Comments

Fictional Characters of New York #39

wedding

My name is Eduardo Ruzman.   I am a professional wedding photographer, with a studio in Chelsea.  I shoot weddings of the most prominent members of New York society.   I make a very good living.

But my real vocation is that of fortune-teller. When I perform my duties at the church, temple, restaurant, or private mansion, I do not simply look through the viewfinder, and shoot images. I observe, and I listen. And based on the way a marrying couple interacts, their choice of words and gestures, the roll of an eye, a rise of tension in the voice, I can predict, to the exact month, how long their marriage will last.

“Maybe if you didn’t stay out so late last night, you wouldn’t be so tired today,” complained the new bride to her groom.  She was wearing a $10,000 Vera Wang dress.  He was the pampered son of a Wall Street icon.   His father hired me, knowing that I would make the couple look good for the New York Times wedding notice.

In fourteen months, and four days, she will file for divorce.

I was not born with this skill. I nurtured my talent during childhood in the Bronx. My father and mother, Rolando and Estella, argued all the time, about work, about the dishes, about how my mother made the “biggest mistake of her life” by not marrying Frederick, my father’s brother.  My father hated when she said that, especially how it was spoken with venom, and he would slap her in the face. Sometimes, while locked in my bedroom, I would hear the beatings.  It was my first correct forecast.   I knew that my parents would be married forever. Or until 1989, when my father had his mysterious accident, breaking his neck on the bottom of the steps.

Posted in Literary, New York City, Photography | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Gluten-Free Halloween

pumpkin

Andy opens the door to greet a little boy and girl, both dressed as superheros.

Little Boy/Girl: Trick or Treat!

Andy: Hello, there! Ooh, what cool costumes. I recognize you, Batman. I mean Batgirl.

Little Girl: I’m not Batman or Batgirl. Why is it so important for you to identify me when gender is a societal construct? I consider myself a gender neural Bat Individual.

Andy: OK. And how about you, young man. I don’t recognize your superhero costume.

Little Boy: That’s because I’m an anti-hero, Alexander Petterssen.

Andy: I don’t know him.

Little Boy: Jesus. Haven’t you read any of the dystopian graphic novels by the Norwegian artist Gustav Slettemark?

Andy: Uh, no. (calling loudly) Bridget, do we have treats for our young guests?

Bridget comes to the door carrying a large tray with nine different bowls containing a variety of choices of treats for the kids.

Bridget: Here you go. Pick the one that best fits the needs of your dietary and religious restrictions, and political leanings. For the regular kids, we have Snickers with Almonds. But if you have a nut allergy, this second bowl contains nut-free Tootsie Rolls. This third bowl contains gluten-free gummi bears. The fourth bowl contains sugar-free lollypops. Bowls five and six have candy imported from Israel and Egypt, and are kosher and halal. Bowl seven contains organic and fair trade chocolate from a company that we researched online, so we know is supporting sustainable agriculture and worker health and rights. Bowl eight contains candy from a chocolate company with no national or international links to the Nestle Company, the Occupied Territories, or any stockholders who donate to the Republican Party. Finally, in bowl nine, for those kids who have reinterpreted Halloween as a Harvest Festival promoting healthy and natural living, we have individually wrapped leaves of kale.

Andy: So, Bat Person and Alexander Petterssen, which treat do both of you want to take from us?

Little Girl: We both want the kale.

Little Boy: Yeah. Is it pre-washed?

Bridget: I think so.

Little Girl: We’ll wash it again, just to make sure.

Andy drops the kale in their trick or treat bags, and the kids run off. Bridget plops down on the couch, exhausted.

Bridget: You know, the kids in our new neighborhood are kinda assholes, don’t you think?

Note: Despite the joke, I will be giving kids two choices this year — Snickers with nuts, and Skittle for those with nut allergies. Why not?

Posted in humor | Tagged | 2 Comments

“M” or “N”

subway

We talked about goals today in therapy.

“But how do you know which is the right path to take to reach your goals?” I asked my therapist towards the end of the session.

The therapist looked at his watch, indicating that time was up.

I took a long walk to 34th and 6th to take the E train back to Queens.

The E train was jammed with every Human of New York as we screeched from the station. It was not rush hour.  Something was wrong for it to be so crowded.

The conductor spoke over the loudspeakers.

“Because of construction,” he said, “The “E” train will only make stops on the [unintelligible]  line. Again, the “E” train will only make stops on the [unintelligible] train.”

“Did he say the “M” train or the “N” train?” asked the woman standing next to me, a middle-aged Pakistani lugging three shopping bags from TJ Maxx.

“”M” train” I said. “I think.”

“No, he said the “N” train.”” said a dude with an NYU yarmulke.

The confusion quickly spread through the entire train, like a wild fire in California, or viral video on Facebook.

“Let me say this again,” spoke the conductor.  “Because of construction, the “E” train will only make stops on the [unclear if its “M” or “N”] train. As in the word….”

He either said “Mikey” or “Nike.”

“Mikey?” asked an off-duty security guard reading the Daily News. “So it’s the “M” train?”

“I thought he said “Nike,” retorted a mother with a baby stroller. “So the “N” train.”

Like a boomerang tossed into the wind, our cries whipped back to the conductor.

“Because of construction…” he said for the third time, “… the “E” train will only make stops on the [unclear if its “M” or “N”] train.  As in… MICHAEL JORDAN.”

“Michael Jordan,” I said.  “I knew I heard “M.”

“But maybe he means Michael Jordan, as in the Air Jordans made by NIKE, so “N”!” said the security guard, proving Voltaire’s famous maxim that “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

The Pakistani woman was becoming frantic, swinging her shopping bags like a pendulum. She walked over to the side door where the conductor was sitting inside.  None of us had realized that we were in the first car, in close proximity to the oracle himself.  His door was adorned with a poster advertising a sleazy dentist who took all medical plans.

The woman knocked several times, asking, “What stops are we making on this train — “M” or “N?”

The conductor opened the door, revealing his unshaven pale face. There was gasps from the crowd, because his appearance was like seeing the Phantom coming on stage at the Paris Opera.

“We’re making the stops as the “M” train,” he said, as clearly as possible. “The “M” train. “M” as in AUNTIE M.”

The weary travelers sighed in relief. We were making the stops as the “M” train. It was as solid a truth as the existence of gravity.

Except that if he was making a reference to the Wizard of Oz, most people should know that Dorothy’s aunt was named Emily, so her name would be Auntie Em, not Auntie “M,” which would be an “E,” the letter of the train we thought when we first entered the “E” train. But rather than causing any more confusion, I kept this information to myself.

We all have goals in life. But sometimes we need to let life take us to our destination without question.

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Fictional Characters of New York — #38

The statues stood silent, dusty and broken in a lonely storage room.

“I told you this was the wrong place,” she said. “Robert’s gallery is on the fourth floor.”

I never liked Robert Altbrook, her pretentious artist friend, the type of guy who talked about books he never read.  But Andrea didn’t want to be late for his opening, so we got here early, but apparently on the wrong floor.

She had planned on this outing for a week, buying a new dress at Bloomingdale’s and making sure the kids were staying with friends.   I even cancelled my tennis game.

“After Robert’s show. After Robert’s show.”  That was my mantra to Lydia, as I kissed her breasts in her bed on Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t want to ruin Robert’s show for my wife.  I think she is love with him.”

Lydia managed the PR department of the firm. She was ten years older than I was, but younger at heart, and what had started out as a weekly Tuesday afternoon lunchtime fuck had turned into love.  Lydia was pressing me to ask Andrea for a divorce, and I was using Robert’s show as the deadline.

“And why would Andrea care?” I thought to myself.   We haven’t had sex in six years.  We had wasted fifteen years that went nowhere.  I was even convinced that Andrea was having an affair with Robert, but I never brought it up, feeling nausea at the idea.

“I want a divorce,” I will say to her, and we will both be free to follow our hearts.

But I knew that I would not ask her for a divorce. Not before Robert’s show. Not after Robert’s show.  I would not have the courage.  This was my life, and there was no turning back.

“Can we go?” asked Andrea, looking over at the dead stone figures.

“These statues scare me,” she said. “Imagine if they became alive.”

I felt the statues looking right back at us.

“These humans scare me,” they said. “Imagine if they became alive.”

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Posted in Literary, New York City, Photography | Tagged , , | 5 Comments