Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: November 2005 (page 1 of 2)

Neilochka Leaves His Apartment

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Now that I’ve written for Blogebrity for a full three days, I think I’ve earned the right to call myself a “blogging expert.”  (media outlets – please contact my agent, Sophia Lansky, for more information). 

As a blogging expert, let me share with you one of my astute professional observations about the blogosphere:

Most bloggers are just plain weird.  Social outcasts.  Losers.  Anti-social nutcases.  I mean, who else sits all day in front of a computer at work, then comes home to sit at their computer all night to blog?   What other morons reveal the intimate details of their lives to strangers who are crazier than they are?  What other perverts post semi-naked photos of themselves on a weekly basis for HNT?  On the last survey of my readership, I counted 1/3 as alcoholics, 1/3 on anti-depressants, and 1/3 as having bi-polar disorder. 

Listen, I’m not that normal myself.  Despite my friendly personality online, I’m actually pretty shy.   I’m much more comfortable making virtual friends than real ones.   In fact, I’ve lived in my apartment building for a year and a half, and haven’t made one friend here.

One possible reason is that I’m subletting from my friend, Phil.   After I separated from Sophia, he let me use his apartment after he moved into his mother’s old place.  The management here was not very happy with the arrangement.  To “punish me,” they told Phil that I can never use the gym, the patio, or the swimming pool.   Several times, I’ve wanted to march into the manager’s office and say that this is unfair, but you guessed it – I’m too shy to do it. 

Last Saturday, there was a big party down the hall.  It seemed as everyone on my floor was invited, except for me.  I didn’t get angry at them.  I scolded myself:

“Enough of these unreal blogging friends.  It’s time for you to make some REAL friends.  Right here in the apartment building!”

But how?  Where would be the best place to meet the other tenants and show them how charming Neilochka can be? 

Of course.  The elevator.

I decided that on Tuesday, I would keep on taking the elevator up all day, meeting and befriending my neighbors.  I would take the elevator up with one neighbor, then walk down the stairs, wait for new tenants to show up, and take the elevator up again.

Here is a log of my day’s activities:

7 AM – 8 AM

No tenants come into the elevator.  The newspaper boy shows up, but he doesn’t really count.  Besides, he didn’t talk to me because he is still pissed that I canceled my Los Angeles Times subscription two months ago.

8 AM – 10AM

Return to the apartment, and take a little nap. 

10 AM – 10:30 AM

Do a little blogging.  IM with Pauly D, who promptly cuts me off when he gets a call from someone more important person than me.

11: 08 AM– 11:12 AM

My first tenant enters the elevator with me.  He is a Korean-American in a nice suit, around 40.

Neil:  “Hi.”

Silence.

Neil:  “Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?”

Korean Man:  “Yes.”

I look up at the fluorescent lighting.  One of the grilles has been missing for over a year.

Neil:  “When are they ever going to fix that?  What would it cost them – five bucks?”

Silence.  The Korean man moves slightly farther away from me.  The elevator opens and he exits.

11:27 AM – 11:30 AM

I’m on the elevator with an elderly man.

Neil:  “Hello.”

Elderly Man:  “What?!”

He’s clearly hard of hearing.

Neil:  “Hello!”

Elderly Man:  “What?!”

I give up trying.

11:47 AM – 11:53 AM

I’m in the elevator with an attractive, yuppyish married couple in their mid-thirties.

Neil:  (pointing at the lighting grille)  When are they ever going to fix that?

Yuppie Guy:  You’re right.  It shouldn’t cost them more than five dollars.

Neil:  Right!  Right!  Five dollars!  Hey, I’m Neil Kramer, apartment 314!

Yuppie Guy:  Jack and Susan Neveroff.  Apartment 322..

Neil:  Nice to meet you.  How long have you been living here? 

Yuppie Guy:  A while.  But we’re moving next week.

Neil:  (disappointed)   Moving?

Yuppie Guy:  It’s like that grille up there.  This apartment building is a mess.   We bought our own house.  We’re tired of living like losers.

Yuppie Wife:  (elbowing her husband)   Jack…shh…

Yuppie Guy:  Oh, I’m sorry, pal.  I mean it is fine living here if you’re a student…

Neil:  I’m not a student.

Yuppie Guy:  Well, it’s different when you get married…

Neil:  I am married.  I’m separated.

Yuppie Guy:  Oh…

Uncomfortable silence.  The elevator opens and they quickly exit.

NOON – 1:00 PM

Lunch break.  Leftover Chinese food for lunch while watching “All My Children.”  I try to IM Pauly D again, but he makes believe he’s not there.

1:46 PM – 1:53 PM

A perky redhead enters the elevator carrying an “E! Entertainment” shoulder bag.

Neil:  “Do you work for E!?”

Redhead:  “Yes, I do!”

Neil:  “That’s great.  You can walk to work.”

Redhead:  “That’s why I moved in here.   I miss walking everywhere, like in New York.”

Neil:  “I’m from Queens!”

Redhead:  “Me too!”

Neil:  “He, do you know Jay at “E!”?

Redhead:  “Jay… hmmm…no…”

Neil:  “You know, maybe that’s not his real name.  I only know him from blogging.  He’s a blogger.  Sometimes bloggers don’t use their real names.”

Redhead:  “I know.  I have a blog.”

Neil:  “Yeah?  Me too!  Mine’s called “Citizen of the Month.”  It’s just nonsense and stuff.”

Redhead:  “Mine is a knitting blog.”

Neil:  “What’s it called?”

Redhead:  “I’d rather not.”

Neil:  “Why not?  I’ll check it out.

Redhead:  “I really like to stay anonymous.”

Neil:  “What am I going to do?  I just want to look at it?”

Redhead:  “I said no!”

Neil:  “You don’t have to go all crazy over it.”

Redhead:  “Look, I don’t want to talk about my blog with you anymore, OK?”

Neil:  “You know, I write for Blogebrity now.   I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”

Redhead:  “No.”

Neil:  “Well, I single-handedly could have made your blog the top knitting blog in the country… just like that!  But because you’re so stubborn and won’t tell me the stupid name of your blog…

Redhead:  “Fuck you, you stalker!”

The elevator opens.  As she exits:

Neil:  “You’re never gonna work in this blogosphere again!”

2:30 PM – 4:30 PM

I order a mojito at Nick’s Bar.  I’ve never had a drink in a bar during the afternoon in my life, but I decided to try one today.  Two drunks sit next to me.

5:03 PM – 5: 08 PM

I enter the elevator with a fiftyish, gruff-faced woman in a business suit.

Neil:  (a little tipsy)  “Hello.”

Gruff Face:  “Hello.  I don’t recall meeting you.”

Neil:  “Neil Kramer.”

Gruff Face:  “Neil Kramer…. Neil Kramer… what apartment are you in?”

Neil:  “Apartment 314”

Gruff Face:  "In Phil’s old place?"

Neil:  "Yes."

Gruff Face:  "So, you’re the one who’s in Phil’s place?!  I’m the manager here.  I think you know that I’m totally against you being here." 

Neil:  "Well…"

Gruff Face:  "Let me speak.  I don’t know who you are.  I don’t know if you are going to disturb the other tenants."

Neil:  "I’ve already been here a while."

Gruff Face:  "Then let me repeat the rules.  Since you are not a tenant, you cannot use the tenants’ patio, the tenants’ gym, or the tenants’ pool…"

Neil:  "I understand, but I wanted to talk…"

Gruff Face:   "There’s nothing to talk about."

The elevator opens.  I point to the grille on top.

Neil:  "You know, a lot of the tenants are complaining about this grille not being fixed."

Gruff Face:  "Who?  You?"

Neil:  "No…no…"

Gruff Face:  "Then who?  The married couple who’s moving?"

Neil:   "Uh, yes…"

Gruff Face:  "Well, they’re moving.  So, they can go to hell."

The manager exits the elevator.

5:30 PM – 9:00 PM

I return home and go back to blogging.  I make a vow never to leave my apartment again.

Today on Blogebrity:  ‘Tis the Season to Feel Anxious Over Your Blog (Brooke, Schuey, Dan, SAC)

Meet My Russian Bride

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I felt bad not going home over Thanksgiving, especially since this was my mother’s first Thanksgiving without my father.  So, I’m excited that my mother is coming to LA in two weeks for Hanukkah-Christmas.

Even though Sophia lives in Redondo Beach and I live in Los Angeles (about 35 minutes away), we thought my mother might actually be more comfortable at Sophia’s.  Despite our marital problems, Sophia and my mother get along great.   I’ve learned that being friends with a member of an ex’s family is not uncommon for her.   In fact, one of Sophia’s good friends is the mother of her ex-boyfriend.

However, before they met Sophia, my parents were not very gung-ho about our relationship.  This was mostly because I called them in New York one day and told them that she was “Russian.”  All sort of scary scenarios went through their heads.

Dad:  “Is it possible… just possible… I mean she might be a very nice girl, but… can she be doing this to get a green card?”

Me:  “She’s been a citizen for years.  She doesn’t need a green card.”

Dad:  (whispering to my mother in the background)  “She’s Russian.”

Mom:  “Give me the phone.  Artie, give me the phone!”

Dad:  “I’m on the phone!”

Mom:  “Neil, listen to me.  She’s doing it for the money!”

Me:  “Tell Mom she’s acting crazy, Dad.”

Mom:  (grabbing the phone from my father)  “You can tell me yourself.  But you’re the one who’s crazy.  I read all about this in New York Magazine.  These Russian golddiggers in short skirts marry Americans for their money.”

Me:  “She must be a very stupid golddigger to pick me because I have no money.”

Dad:  “Neil, this is your father.  I’m on the other line.”

Mom:  “I’m talking, Artie.  Get off.”

Dad:  “Neil, some of these Russians, as pretty as they are, used to be prostitutes.  It’s a tragedy, really.  Such pretty girls.  Thank God we’ve been lucky to be in this country and make a decent living.”

Neil:  “Dad, I really doubt Sophia was ever a prostitute.”

Mom:  “How do you know what she was in Russia?’

Neil:  “She’s been out of Russia for years.  She was in Israel.”

Mom:  “There are prostitutes in Israel, too.  It breaks my heart.  Jewish prostitutes.  Who would ever think?

Dad:  “Maybe you can ask her about her past… in a nice way…”

Me:  “Dad, we’ve gone on two dates.  What do you want me to do?  “I had a great time tonight, Sophia.  By the way, were you ever a prostitute?”

Dad:  “Have you met her parents?  Is she Jewish?”

Neil:  “No, I haven’t.  Yes, she is.  Feel better now?”

Mom:  “A lot of these Russian Jews are different.”

Dad:   “That’s right.  A lot of these Russians Jews are involved with the Russian Mob.  Did you see that movie on HBO last night?”

Neil:  “They’re not Russian mobsters…”

Mom:  “Again… how do you know?!”

Neil:  “Well, I don’t really know, but…”

Mom:  “So this is my punishment for sending you to Columbia.  My in-laws are going to be members of the Russian Mafia!”

A few days later, my father sent me an article cut out of the Daily News about a beautiful Russian woman who married an American in the Upper West Side, then murdered him for the insurance money.

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Things settled down until a couple of months later when Sophia came down with a mysterious case of hives.  Sophia would get hives all over her body.  At times, she couldn’t walk.  We went to the emergency room three times.  She was hospitalized for a week.  The hives would disappear, then reappear again a day later.  It was painful.  It was awful for her.  Sophia went to several doctors, but none of them was ever able to figure out the cause.

Then one day she went to a “hives expert” in Santa Monica.  After the appointment, she called me up, sounding hopeful for the first time in weeks.

Sophia:  “Great news!”

Neil:  “What did he say?”

Sophia:  “At first the doctor said that chronic hives were unpredictable and usually untreatable.  But he was a doctor in Vietnam, and remembered seeing cases like mine.  He said they were able to treat it.  I am so excited!”

Neil:  “Wow.  That’s great.”

Sophia:  “Isn’t it?  I’ll be so happy if I can get rid of these hives.  Of course, it’s only treatable if… if…”

Neil:  “If what?”

Sophia:  “Well, if it’s a symptom of syphilis.”

Neil:  (gulping and choking) “Syphilis?”

Sophia:   “Oh, he said not to worry.  Syphilis is completely treatable nowadays.   I’m actually hoping to have syphilis!  I’m taking a test tomorrow.  Isn’t it the best news?”

Neil:  “Uh, yeah…well…syphilis, huh?”

Sophia:  “Of course, since we’ve had sex, you have to take a test, too.  I might have given it to you.”

Neil:  “I might have SYPHILIS?!”

Sophia:  “Don’t tell me you would rather I have these painful hives all over my body than have a completely cureable little ailment?”

Neil:  “But syphilis?  Didn’t people go crazy because of that?  Can’t my penis shrivel up and fall off?”

Sophia:  “You are such a baby.  You should be concerned about me and my health, not your precious cock.  No wonder you were a virgin until you were — !”

The next day, my father called.

Dad:  “Hello, Neil.  It’s your father.  How was your day?”

Neil:  “Actually, I had to go to the hospital.”

Dad:  “Oh my god, is something wrong?”

Mom:  (in background)  What’s wrong?  Is something wrong?  Is Neil in the hospital?!”

Neil:  “Tell Mom it’s nothing.  I just had a test.  It’s nothing to worry about.  There’s just a little tiny chance that… remember those hives Sophia had…”

Dad:  “Oh, no, is she very ill?  Do you want us to fly out?”

Neil:  “She’s fine.  She’s fine.  It’s just the hives she has… may be from…”

Dad:  “What?”

Neil:  “May be from… from, uh… syphilis.”

Dad:  “Syphilis?!”

Mom:  (in background)  “Syphilis!  Syphilis!  What are you talking about?!  Gvie me the phone, Artie.  Give me the phone!  Neil, don’t tell me you have syphilis?”

Neil:  “Well, right now, we don’t know…”

Mom:   “I knew it!  I knew it!  My son got an Ivy League education to date a Russian prostitute and now he has syphilis!” 

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Sophia ended up NOT having syphilis.   And can you believe she was UPSET at not having it?!  This would have meant that her problem could be cured.

Her hives continued on and off for a couple of years, then disappeared.  We never found out why she got them. 

My parents finally met Sophia when they visited Los Angeles, and fell in love with her.   

Sophia was never a prostitute.   My mother still thinks that some of Sophia’s relatives are part of the Russian Mafia.

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Today on Blogebrity:  Blogging for Cupcakes  (Cupcakes Take the Cake, Rachel, Nichelle)

Who is REALLY the Sexiest Man Alive?

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(Matthew McConaughey in People Magazine)

Please vote!  This survey is written and administered exclusively by Neilochka. Results also tabulated by Neilochka.

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Today in Blogebrity — Star Effer: Man Finds True Love Through the Beaver (his site)

Writing For Blogebrity

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I know… I know… I’ve called them the spawn of Satan in the past, but the people at Blogebrity asked me if I wanted to write about the world of personal/storytelling blogs.   I wrote my first post today.  The guys there are pretty nice, so I’m trying it out to see if we’re a good fit — and we’ll see how it goes.  

Frankly, most "blogs" about "blogging" are extremely tedious.  They always write about the same blogs and subjects.  Most of the cool stuff that we do as personal bloggers is usually ignored.   It’s only my first post there, so I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to write about or how long I’m doing this for, but if you come across an interesting post or site that you think deserves some attention, tell me about it.   I’m also open to any suggestions or ideas that could help all of us be better recognized in the community of bloggers.

If you have a chance, go check out the first post about JordanBaker (her site).

And, of course, "Citizen of the Month" is still a major priority of my life, right under arguing with Sophia and talking to my penis.

Oh no, am I a Racist Blogger?

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Over the last few months, I’ve made quite a few mentions that I was "liberal" while Sophia was "conservative." 

Recently, a reader emailed me:

"You don’t seem very liberal.  You make fun of liberals, but I never hear you make fun of conservatives."

I thought about that, and my reader-friend is right.  For some reason, I find the craziness of the left more amusing that the insanity of the right.   Maybe that’s why there are so many entertaining conservative talk shows, while leftist talk shows are a snooze.  For all their good intentions, many liberals, myself included, are neurotic nuts, particularly in matters of race and ethnicity. 

I might be wrong, but I always thought Dr. King’s vision was of an America where everyone treated each other equally.  In an odd way, I think Sophia is the perfect role model for this vision. 

Recently, we were driving on the San Diego Freeway, when a car cut us off so abruptly – we almost collided. 

Sophia flashed her lights at the car and screamed out, "Asshole!." 

"Don’t say that," I said.

"Why not?  He is a f***ing asshole."

Exactly… why not? 

Sophia looked at me, knowingly.  She knew.  She knew my wimpy, liberal, guilty, condescending face very well. 

You see, the driver was an African-American.

Maybe I didn’t think about it consciously, but inside, my mind was blabbing on with all sorts of liberal mind games:

"He’s a black guy.  Maybe he came from a broken family.  Maybe he’s had it tough growing up in Compton.  Maybe he got beat up by the LAPD.   Maybe as a teenager in the hood, he was ostracized by his friends when they found a George Michael CD in his car."

Of course, it didn’t occur to me to look at the reality of the situation.   We were driving a Hyundai.  He was driving a Lexus.   It’s quite possible that this guy grew up in Beverly Hills.  He did cut us off.  He was an asshole. 

Would I have worried so much if this guy was white?  Would I happily have called this guy the "asshole" he really was?   I thought back to everything I read about the meaning of liberal in the 1960s and 70s.  Wasn’t the original point supposed to be that we fuck each other (in a pleasurable way) and become one huge happy human family?   Today, it seems as though liberals are the ones always bringing up race and keeping everyone apart.  Why not take a page from the conservative book and think of everyone as an individual first?

I bring this up, because in the last two weeks, I’ve picked up a whole bunch of new readers.   Many of them came from new friends who are black and Asian.  At first, I didn’t even think about this.  I mean, in the blogging world, who really thinks about what anyone else looks like?  That’s what makes online friendships so cool.  All that cultural stuff disappears.  In fact, my real name could be Maria Gonzalez and you would never know the truth.

However, because I’ve been meeting so many new people,  I’ve decided to revamp my blogroll and organize it in a new way.  Look at it in the right sidebar — it’s a mess.   

But then last night, I had some trouble sleeping as I began thinking like a guilty liberal.

"I wonder if all my new readers are wondering why I haven’t put them on my blogroll.  Are they talking to each other?  Are they saying, "He certainly has quite a few "white folks" on his blogroll.  Why all of a sudden is there no room for African-Americans and Asians on the list?  Does his "citizenship" of the month really extend to all groups?  Or is he… a racist blogger?!  In fact, the only times he ever mentions blacks or Asians is when he talks about corrupt Nigerian bishops and his obsession with Chinese food."

In the crowd I interact with, there is nothing worse than being called a racist.  It is the worst insult possible, even lower that dissing a person’s mother.  I could not face the barista in my local Starbucks where I sometimes write my posts if he thought I was a racist blogger.

So, to all my new African-American and Asian friends, let me make it clear:

I love you. 

Be patient as I fix my blogroll.  I am not a racist blogger.   In fact, I look forward to flirting with women of all races on this blog. 

I’m going to try to learn from Sophia and not be afraid to treat you any better or worse just because of your race or ethncity.  In fact, that means I might actually call one of you an "asshole" very soon. 

But, understand, I will be saying that with LOVE.

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“Thank Your First Commenter Day”

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Many years ago the Pilgrims came to these Shores, and couldn’t figure out what the hell to eat.  They were unfamiliar with the weird-looking animals and crops of this New World, the winter was coming, and frankly, these future Mayflower WASPS just weren’t that bright. 

(This was years before the Africans, the Chinese, the Germans, the Irish, the Jews, and the Italians came and actually built this country for them.)

But, back to the story of Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims were saved by the kind Native Americans, who showed them how to eat corn, potatoes, wild turkey, and canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.   Because of these kind Indians, today we celebrate Thanksgiving.

(The fact that we later killed these Native Americans, took their land, and forced them to run casino operations is something we can deal with on another day.)

Today, it is all about GIVING THANKS.

How can we thank our fellow BLOGGERS? 

We read each other, we help each other with our designs and templates, and we cry on each other’s shoulder when a “blog crush” goes sour.

On Thanskgiving, we should THANK our fellow bloggers.

When I first started blogging, I was like a Pilgrim who just landed on Plymouth Rock.  I was isolated and alone.   For weeks, I wrote this blog without any direction or confidence in my ability.  And then he appeared — like the Native American with his corn — my first commenter!

Although I appreciate all of my lovely readers, today I want to give a special shout-out to TERRY FINLEY.   He wrote the first comment on “Citizen of the Month” back in April:

Nice blog. Thank you.

Our health is really important.

Check out my blog.

Terry Finley

It may not be poetry, but it touched my heart.   Afterwards, I commented on his site, and then we lost touch, which so frequently happens in our busy blogging lives.  I tried to click on his link today, but he seems to have stopped blogging.  I sincerely hope my comment wasn’t the cause of him losing interest in blogging.

Terry, if you’re out there, I’d like to thank you and say hello.  I hope that you are happy, healthy, and having a lot of sex! 

If YOU would like to participate in this first ever “THANKSGIVING DAY THANK YOUR FIRST COMMENTER DAY,” it is simple:

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Go into your archives and find the first person who ever commented on your blog. 

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Copy the URL and a special thank-you message — and post it either in my comments OR on your own site.

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If you don’t have any comments yet, don’t feel like a loser.  Did the Pilgrims give up?  Of course not.  They just stole from the Indians.   Just write a comment here at “Citizen of the Month” about how much of a loser you are and pretty soon, everyone will come to you, showing pity.    In this competitive blogging world, you have to use whatever works.

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Happy “Thank Your First Commenter Day!”

Neilochka’s Favorite Things 2005

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Welcome, readers.  I know you are here today thinking that this is just another one of my run-of-the-mill blog posts, but you are in for a…

BIG SURPRISE. 

(Hopeful gasp from readership)

In honor of Oprah’s annual over-the-top consumer-fest, Oprah’s Favorite Things 2005, which airs on Monday, I would like to introduce the first annual:

Neilochka’s Favorite Things, 2005! 

(Readers cheer wildly)

With the holiday season approaching, I want to offer some great gift-giving ideas.  But even more importantly, I want to say THANKS to all the new friends that I have made through this blog this year.

So, here it goes.  And remember, most of you will be walking away with GIFTS OF YOUR OWN!

(Readers get up and go crazy)

1) 

First up, I would like to thank you all for being such an intelligent and witty group.  When I first read you all, I visualized you as being very suave and sophisticated.  Unfortunately, I met a few of you and my image of you was quickly destroyed.  Some of you dress like real schlubs.  To rectify this, I would like to introduce my first favorite thing in the hopes that you will now start to dress as fashionably as you blog. 

Yes, I am talking about your very own ‘I Love Blogging" trucker hat!

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"I Love Blogging" trucker hats for everyone!

(Readers start chanting, "Neilochka!  Neilochka!  Rah Rah Rah!")

2) 

How many times have your rushed off to work and forgot to read the latest "Citizen of the Month" post? Sure, you can read it later or at work.  But wouldn’t you enjoy the post more when it is hot and fresh off the presses?  The answer is better time management.  For that, you need a timepiece that will always remind you when my latest post is up, and that will always be on Pacific Time.  Yes, you are some of the first people in the world to see my new "exclusive" line of watches that  I personally designed with Sophia’s assistance. 

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Yes, it is the "Citizen" brand of watches!   Each of you gets a choice of three of the finest watches made in the world!

(Readers scream in joy.  Several women take off their tops and wave their hard-to-unhook-bras in the air)

3) 

Many of you know that I have a special bond with my female readers.  I have never met a group of women who are as smart and sexy as you.  I feel I owe you a special thanks for all your love and support.  To show you my love, I’d like each of you to have another one of my favorite things of this year:  exact replicas of the $3.99 bouquet of slightly wilted flowers that I bought Sophia in an earlier post!

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(Several female readers faint.  Akaky has to give mouth-to-mouth to Tatyana)

4)

Speaking of Sophia, as my editor, she frequently calls me up to tell me that my post really sucked that day.  Sometimes, to better put her point across, she swears at me in Russian, a language known for its elaborate curses.   As a talented interpreter, actress and Russian dialect coach, Ms. Sophia Lansky knows all the proper curses in this extremely expressive language.  The English language is like Wimpsville  compared to Russian.   In English, it is considered inflammatory to say "Your mother!"  In Russian, they say, "Your mother like this and that, up, down, and around, and their mother, and seven coffins, too!"    Maybe because of Russia’s sad history, coffins are big in Russian.  You just don’t say, "F–k your mother!"  You say "F–k your mother through seven gates while whistling… and in her coffin!"  

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not big on cursing, so I’m been trying to catch up to Sophia by studying this book "Dermo!: The Real Russian Tolstoy Never Used!"  It is definitely one of my favorites this year.  If you always dreamed of cursing like a Russian sailor, this is the book for you.   A copy for everyone!

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(Readers cheer for Sophia.  Some male reader, drunk on vodka, reads from his new book and screams out to Sophia, calling her a "smokin’ hot piece of stuffed cabbage" in Russian.)

5) 

I’d like to give a special thank you to all my my anorexic readers.  It is your commitment to your unhealthy lifestyle that made my crappiest post into the most popular one.   Without you, I wouldn’t have my photos of Nicole Richie hot-linked all over the blogosphere.    You are the ones who made this site what it is today — not much.

What?  Is that a special guest I see coming it?  Yes, it is Nicole Richie herself!  And she is bringing each and every "Ana" site reader one of my favorite things — an In-N-Out burger from California’s best hamburger chain!

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(The Ana women would cheer, but most of them are too busy stuffing their faces with their first meal all  week and then running out to throw up)

6) 

Finally, I want to turn my attention to those who are most in need.  Because that’s what the Holidays are all about. 

I am talking to you, SHORT MEN.  

You have been nothing short of miraculous. You are another group of loyal readers, although you never read anything other than this one post about yourselves.  But I feel bad for you.  For months, my female readers have been shooting you down, saying that a man’s height is more important than anything else.  I know many of you feel insecure about your height.  That’s why I want to give  you the most important gift of all — your self esteem back.   This is truly my most favorite thing of 2005 — and it is not a consumer product.  It is the knowledge that in matters of love and romance, a man’s height is not the most important thing.   There are many ways to a woman’s heart, even when a man is short

NSFW… click here

Feel the Bra

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It’s been a year and a half since Sophia and I separated, and I haven’t gone on one date.  Today I talked about this with Sophia.  I told her I was a little scared of getting intimate with another woman.

“You know what I’m talking about,” I told her.  “I have that little problem.”

“Ah, yes…”

For years, Sophia has been very understanding of this problem I have in the bedroom.  I’m surprised she even agreed to marry me because of my problem.  But gradually, she learned to take care of it herself and we accepted the status quo.

“But what if some new woman isn’t as understanding?” I pondered.

“Then you have a problem.  A big problem.”

I’m a little embarrassed to bring this up in a public forum, but my motto here is “always be honest with your beloved readers.”  So, here it goes:

I am terribly inept in undoing bras.

When I was younger, I used to play the clarinet in the school band.  I used to practice so much, that I think I must have injured something in my fingers to the point that it has given me poor dexterity in the handling of  complicated buttons and latches.  For years, I avoided women because of this problem.  Luckily, Sophia accepted me despite my handicap.  Once, before we were married, Sophia and I were making out, and she fell asleep waiting for me to undo her bra.

“What am I going to do?  What woman is every going to want such a poor bra un-doer as a lover?”

“You can always look for a woman who doesn’t wear one.”

“What about some of my readers like Brooke, who have nice racks.  I’m sure she wears a bra.”

“Well, maybe you need to ask them first if they wear a bra, so you’ll know to cross them off the list.  Or ask them to go bra-less on the date.  Or maybe they’ll still accept you despite it all.  I did, most of the time.”

“Be honest with me, Sophia.  Is this why we separated?”

“No comment.”

“There’s only one solution.  I need to practice.”

“Practice?”

“Yeah, you know like Rocky before the big match.  Or the Karate Kid.  I need to practice undoing bras.”

“How are you going to do that?”

I smiled knowingly at Sophia.

I opened up her “‘bra” drawer and took out an assortment of various bras of different colors and textures:  Bali, Wacoal, Maidenform, Cross Your Heart, Victoria’s Secret, Frederick’s of Hollywood and even some fancy expensive French stuff that I couldn’t pronounce.

“Start putting ’em on!” I said.

“Oh, you owe me big for this.  And I mean big!” she replied.

Sophia gathered up her breasts into the Bali No-Slip Strap Floral Brocade bra and latched up the hooks.  She took out a stopwatch.  

“OK, ready?  3-2-1, come and get em’!”

I rushed over to Sophia bra as she turned her back to me.  I tried to pull out the hooks but it was held tightly against her back.  Sophia’s ample bosom wasn’t helping things out either.   I was having trouble already.  I started to sweat.

“C’mon, Neilochka.  It’s not that complicated.”

“It is for me.”

“Come in from the top, place one finger under the hook and squeeze the hooks together.  You can do it.  Then just keep squeezing while you twist it.”

I place my finger under a hook and unlatched it.

“Got it!”

Sophia shook her head, sadly.

“Neilochka, you have to undo all four hooks to get it off.  Keep on going.  The clock is ticking.”

Finally, after much struggling, I undid all the hooks, and after some trouble untangling the bra straps caught in Sophia’s hair, the project was a success.  Well, not to Sophia:

“Ten minutes for one bra is absolutely pitiful.”

It was a low blow.  I hadn’t felt so inept since I failed woodshop in eighth grade for accidentally cutting the head off of my “duck-shaped” wooden memo holder.

“Aw forget it.”  I said.  “I’m just no good at this.  I’m never going to touch another woman’s breasts… ever.” I said disappointedly.

“No!” she shouted sternly.   “I care about your future.  What if we never get back together?  I want you to know this.  No women respects a man that can’t take off a bra.  You’re NOT going to give up.”

Sophia always had a way of inspiring me.  A way of pushing me to achieve greatness.

I lifted up the Maidenform. 

“Let’s do it!”

(start “Theme from Rocky”)

Da, da, daaaaaaah… da, da, daaaaaaah
Da, da, daaaaaaah… da, da, daaaaaaah

Statistics:

Playtex Cross Your Heart® Lightly Lined:  9 minutes

Wacoal’s Signature Support™  Sealmess Tailored Underwire:  7 minutes

Lily of France Be Sexy™ Demi Balconette:  12 minutes!

I was getting worse!

“I can’t do it!  I can’t do it!”

“What is the problem here?  What is holding you back?”

“I don’t know.”

“What are you thinking about while you do this?”

“Duh!  What do you think?  Your breasts!  You know, holding them… looking at them…”

“Maybe that’s your problem.  You’re too interested in the results.  Right now, you’re still on the bra stage.  Try to make that a sensual moment in and of itself.”

“A sensual moment… with the bra?”

“Sure… women have a very close relationship with their bra.  Try to feel the bra while you take it off.  Feel the material.  Feel the way it’s been made.”

I examined the Victoria’s Secret Second Skin Satin bra.

“The label says it was made in China.”

“Just close your eyes and feel the bra… feel the hooks as you open them…”

Within 2 minutes the bra was flying off.

“Jeez, I think I got it!  It’s all a mental thing.  You have to FEEL THE BRA.”

I told Sophia to put on the fancy French bra and to get ready with the stopwatch.  I was ready for STAGE TWO!

(start Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger from Rocky III)

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the cream of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger
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Statistics after several attempts with bra:

Off in one minute…
Off in fifty five seconds…
Off in forty-seven seconds…
Off in thirty seconds… a personal best.

“Ten seconds, Neilochka.  From first contact to bra on the floor.  I’m so proud of you!”

“Thank you, Sophia.  I now feel I’m ready for anything.”

“You can buy me some dinner as my teaching fee.”

“Sure.”

Sophia went to her “bra” drawer and pulled out this odd-looking “corset.”

“Then, afterwards, we can start your advanced class.”

We never made it to dinner, because I fainted.

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On the Radio

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At first, Sophia used to make fun of my blogging, calling it "a waste of your time" as if my old habit of sitting around watching three straight hours of "Lingo" every night on the Game Show Network was useful experience.  Gradually, she began to accept my blogging, seeing I didn’t complain as much about my dull life. 

Sophia has become the greatest advocate of my blog.  She is a frequent inspiration for my posts.  She edits my posts.   And more recently, she has become my Public Relations person.  With all this help, you’d think we’d still be together.  But this just shows how generous a person Sophia is — and how desperate she is for me to finally make a normal living.

When I wrote a post about a Jewish celebrity seminar in New York, Sophia actually sent an email to the New York Times.   The NEW YORK TIMES!  Can you imagine that?

"Hey, New York Times, the most important newspaper in the country, you should read Neilochka’s post on Leonard Nimoy being Jewish."

No response.

When I wrote a post about a mash-up of Jane Austen and the Pussycat Dolls, Sophia emailed Entertainment Weekly.

"Hey, Entertainment Weekly, big-time magazine of the Time-Warner empire, you should read Neilochka’s post on Jane Austen and the Pussycat Dolls!"

No response.

Yesterday, Sophia told me that she sent a link to my "Dating for Liberals" post to some conservative Los Angeles morning talk show host.

"There’s no way he’s going to talk about that dumb post."

"I think he will.  It’s funny AND it makes fun of liberals."

"That wasn’t my intention."

"But it does.  It must be my good influence.  I bet you he talks about it."

This morning, I’m going through my blogroll, like I do every morning, when I get a phone call from Sophia, who’s driving to work.

"Turn on your radio to 1240 AM!"

"I’m busy.  I’m reading some blog about someone having sex for the first time in a year."

"Turn on your radio to 1240 AM!  The guy I sent your link to just said "Right after the commercial, I want to tell you about this fascinating blog I just learned about."  Turn on your radio now.  Can you believe it?  I’ve never heard him talk about blogs before, ever, so it must be about your blog!  Hurry."

I hung up and quickly rushed… well, I wasn’t sure where to rush.  Who has an AM radio in their house anymore?  I grabbed my cellphone and bolted outside in my underwear, running into my parked car.  I turned on the radio.  I called up a friend who lives nearby.

"Gary!"

"Huh?  What time is it?  I’m still sleeping."

"Gary, turn on 1240 AM on the radio!  They’re gonna talk about my blog!"

"What the hell…?!"

"Shhhh…"

The commercial was ending.  The talk show host was back.

"And now I want to talk to all of you about this incredible blog I just read…"

"Hold on…this is about me…" I said to Gary, as the talk show host proceeded to talk about…

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

…two teenagers who just killed their parents and wrote about it in their blog.

Staying Jiggy With it

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I’m reading a blog written by this really cool woman.  She’s talking about what music she has on her iPod.  She listens to the coolest current music and I’m writing down the names of the latest bands that I never even heard of.   Then this woman starts talking about her teenage children, and I realize that this woman is 35 years old.  It makes me think of my own parents and their relationship to my music, which was mostly:

"Neil, make that hard rock lower!  It’s driving me crazy"  (and we’re talking about Hall and Oates here).

For my parents, listening to popular music stopped when they got married and had jobs.  They became too busy with real life to keep up with the latest movies, songs, and TV shows.  Even today, my mother is always one year behind with popular culture:

Me:  "I’ll call you later, Mom.  I’m watching "The Office."

Mom:  "Whose office?"

I don’t do this to make fun of old-fashioned parents.  I do this to make fun of us, a generation that feels the need to keep current. 

It is impossible to keep up with all of the latest stuff.  It used to be that you had to only keep track of the latest celebrities and movie stars.  Now you have to remember "reality stars."  You have to know "blogs."  People even know the names of "adult stars" now!  Soon, we’ll feel embarrassed if we don’t know the names of "podcasters."

I have to admit that I sometimes read "celebrity" blogs and have no idea who they are talking about.  For the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone is interested in Nicole Richie.  Because of that one stupid TV show with Paris Hilton?  If you asked me, I could not hum any of Ashlee Simpson’s songs to you.

I use to pride myself on seeing every single movie that was ever released.  I would sit in movie theaters for hours.  I used to anxiously wait for the TV Guide Fall Season issue to come out and bookmark what shows I would watch that season.  Now, I barely find time to watch "Lost."

Maybe this is the way things are supposed to be.  After all, does a teenager really want a Mom who listens to Franz Ferdinand on her own iPod?  What do you rebel against?  Does the teenager intentionally listen to Donny Osmond to annoy her — just like Alex Keaton in "Family Ties" became a Reagan supporter to rebel against his hippy parents?

I notice that radio stations have started to adjust to the aging population.  "Oldies" stations used to play music from the 50s and 60s.  Now they play music from the 80s and 90s.   Soon there will be nursing homes where the residents will be rocking to Led Zeppelin.    Or maybe future retirees will be downloading the latest music from iTunes, still hip to the latest music.    Maybe this is actually a good thing.   Someone 30 or 40 today seems a lot younger than someone 30 or 40 from the last generation. 

Even my mother is trying to be more current with movie stars now that Paul Newman doesn’t act much anymore.  She recently called me up and said she saw some movie on HBO with Jude Law.  Unfortunately, she read on Page 6 of the New York Post that he was a "real jerk" to his wife.

"So, do you like Jude Law?" I asked.

"He’s very handsome… but he’s no Paul Newman."

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