Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: April 2006 (page 1 of 3)

I am a Success

top of mountain 

Hey, everybody!

I just want to tell you all that I'm doing great.  I really feel good about myself.  I'm proud of my accomplishments, I like the way I look, and I take pride in my wonderful qualities.  I feel success at my fingertips and I KNOW it will happen for me.  Yes, I can have it all — LOVE, PASSION, SUCCESS!

Of course, this morning I was a complete mess.  I was miserable.  I was depressed over a multitude of things.  I was about to throw a few Prozacs into my mouth, but I remembered that the last time I took some, it made me penis feel numb —  and that's way too much sacrifice, even for someone when they're depressed.

Then, tonight, Sophia and I ended up going to a seminar about "Success."  It's a long story about how we ended up there, so don't ask.

But I do know now that SUCCESS IS GOOD.  Everyone respects successful people.  We admire them.   We like to be around them.  All the top blogs are written by confident, successful people.  That's because they have VISION.  

Think you're a loser?  Well, you're right.  But you can change things RIGHT NOW by not thinking of yourself as a loser.  Think of yourself as a WINNER.   If you think positive and BELIEVE in yourself, those things you want for yourself WILL HAPPEN.  Do you want a beach house, visualize it!  It will come.  Be like Jim Carrey when he was an unemployed actor.  He wrote a million dollar check out to himself and carried it around as a reminder of what he will BECOME!

So, from now on, I am a changed man.   No more blog posts ranting and raving and complaining like a loser.  No more mocking of myself in a self-deprecating, weak, sissy-boy manner.  If I am going to use humor, it should be at YOUR expense, not my own.  After all, I am the confident and successful one.  You're the one who deserves to be laughed at.  From now on, this is a blog where an employer can come and read it, then say, "Now that is a confident and successful man, one who I want to hire as my vice president of Employee Confidence."

During tonight's success seminar, we were asked to answer these questions:

1)  What is one accomplishment you're proud of?
2)  What is one physical trait you're proud of?
3)  What is one character trait you're proud of?

These questions were not easy for me to answer.   Are my eyes really the BEST part of me?   Is "nice guy" really an interesting character trait?  Are my SAT scores in math my greatest single accomplishment?  

For everything I thought about that I was proud of, I countered with something that "brought me down."  

"What about something good that I wrote?" 

"Oh yeah?  What about losing a writing job with "Sesame Street" after writing an inappropriate sketch with Big Bird?"   

"I guess I'm proud of being an honest person."  

"You're separated from Sophia.  Are you proud of that?"

In fact, answering these tough questions made me so nervous —

Hey, wait a minute, why I am I telling you this?   Why do I want to tell any of you bloggers out there about my insecurities?   Do you ever see Oprah talk about her insecurities?  No, successful people push their insecurities aside.   That is why they are successful.   Others come to them looking to lead THEM out of THEIR insecurities.  

So  —

I just wanted to say that everything is great with me.  I am SUPER HAPPY.  I am super SEXY!  I am confident in my job search.  I see great things for my marriage and love life.   I have so much POSITIVE ENERGY, it's practically shooting out of my ears.

Aw, fuck — who am I fooling?  I'm going to take a Prozac and go to bed.

Neil's Penis:  "Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!"

The Dark Side

I think it all started in the seventh grade.  Up until then, I was always the goody-two shoes in school, the student who was always picked to be the "Citizen of the Month."  I had no knowledge at all of the "dark side."  But then, in seventh grade, something changed.  There was a New York City teachers' strike that year that was causing chaos in the school system.   I remember having ten substitute English teachers that one year.

Our class was incredibly mean to these substitute teachers.   Some kids threw spitballs; some threw paper airplanes.  The third substitute teacher was a nervous wreck.  Every time she would turn her back, the class would intentionally bang their desks against the floor, using their knees to lift the desks up and down.  When the teacher would turn to face the class, everyone quickly stopped the banging and feigned innocence.  One day, this hard luck teacher just disappeared in the middle of the day, and we later heard rumors that she had a nervous breakdown in the teachers' lounge.

I'm proud to say that I never participated in any of this nastiness.  But, then again, I never took a stand or protested, an action a more heroic student might have done.  Lisa Simpson would have said something.   I just pegged my peers as "immature" and hoped for the strike to end, so we could go back to learning punctation and grammar.  How would I do well on my SAT?

Finally, English teacher substitute #10 showed up.   I don't remember his name.   I just remember that he had wild hair and looked like an ex-hippy, more comfortable at a Grateful Dead concert than a classroom.  Where did they find this guy?  When the class started to get rowdy, he told us that he was a black belt in karate.  At first no one believed him, but then he showed us some of his moves, which really impressed the class. He became an instant favorite, particularly with the boys.   Although he was very entertaining, he was probably the worst English teacher ever.   He never taught us anything.  Some days he would just let us sit at our desks and read whatever we wanted.

One day, after the bell rang, substitute #10 — who's name I still can't recall — asked me to stay after class.  I was horrified, thinking I did something wrong, but it wasn't the case at all.

"I see you like to read a lot of books." he said.

"I do."

"Me, too.   Reading is great.  Reading can really blow your mind.  You want to read some of my favorite books?" he asked.

"Uh, sure," I said, having never said "no" to a teacher before, being a "Citizen of the Month."   This was still very unusual for me — a teacher offering me books to read…

He opened his briefcase and took out three large books.

"It's called "The Lord of the Rings."  It's going to blow your mind."

I had never heard of these books.   They actually sounded pretty weird, and dangerous. 

The dark side.

Voting Rights

 cbs news

I'm a firm believer in the importance of voting.   As a good "Citizen of the Month," I vote in every election.  Maybe if everyone actually voted once in a while, we wouldn't have such crappy government leaders. 

I've voted for the Writers Guild Awards and Sophia's SAG awards.

I voted last night for Elliot Yamin in "American Idol."   Actually, I doubt that he's going to win, but he's Jewish and cries over his mother, so I relate to him. 

It's been Dave's third anniversary all week on his Blogography blog.  I voted for which Blogography t-shirt design I liked the best.

I became very excited when Kevin told me about a Fox contest to let us vote on which of the five box designs for the new "24" DVD we like the best.  As if Jack Bauer had such difficult decisions. 

While I love to vote, there are some times I want decisions made for me.  With the success of reality TV, I hope that audience voting isn't integrating into regular series.

"Watch Lost this week, then vote which character you want to die!"

Sometimes I just want to watch the story.

Luckily, there are some institutions that still take themselves seriously as an authority on their subject, like CBS News, famed home of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather.

Whoops!

The major networks (CBS included) spend millions of dollars every year trying to figure out what people want to see on TV. Yet, in the end, much of the programming isn't what you would have picked at all.

That's why we're now giving you a direct say in the matter. You and the rest of our viewers will be able to pick some of the stories we air on the CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer.

You, the viewer, are officially in charge of all the assignments of CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman. You get to tell him where to go and what to do — within reason, of course.

Every Friday we present three story pitches and you get to vote for the story you think sounds most interesting. Whichever story gets the most votes by 2 p.m. ET on Monday is the winner.

Last week viewers decided they wanted Steve to report on a teacher who has been teaching at the same high school for 69 years.

While this is a cute idea for me to do on my blog, is this something CBS News should be doing in their newscast?  Is this the evening news or an episode of "Survivor?"  

If CBS News really wants to go this route, I have a better idea to drum up ratings:

"Tonight on Sixty Minutes:  Steve Kroft reports on a new field of cancer research,  Lesley Stahl profiles Howard Schultz, the star of Starbucks,  Ed Bradley sits down with the oldest living teacher in Virginia; and of course — Andy Rooney.   After the stories, the voting lines will be open and ONE CORRESPONDENT WILL BE ELIMINATED."

The Singing Blogger

singing 

I fall in love very easily. 

"What draws you to another person, Neilochka?" you might ask.  "Is it beauty?  Intelligence?  A sense of humor?"

No, as a writer of words, I am first attracted by the person's name.  

I have no idea if blogging-gal Fitena is a nice person or a grouch, but I was immediately smitten by the name.  Fi-te-na.

When I read one of her comments, I always speak to myself, saying something like, "Oh look, it's a comment from Fi-te-na!" 

Things get worse.  I sing when I blog, especially when I encounter a blogger whose first name is the same as a famous old song.  These bloggers hold a special place in my heart. 

I know… I know… chances are the bloggers' names are not even the real names (wimps), but I still like to imagine that Melissa from Texas is the exact same Melissa that the Allman Brothers were thinking about when they sang:

Crossroads, seem to come and go, yeah.
The gypsy flies from coast to coast

Knowing many, loving none,
Bearing sorrow havin’ fun,
But back home he’ll always run
To sweet melissa… mmm…

("Melissa," Allman Brothers)

I have two blogging-pals named Michelle, each mysterious in her own way.  I'm always singing this:

Michelle, ma belle.
These are words that go together well,
My Michelle.

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble,
Très bien ensemble.

("Michelle," The Beatles)

There's Amanda:

I’m gonna take you by surprise and make you realize,
Amanda
I’m gonna tell you right away, I can’t wait another day,
Amanda
I’m gonna say it like a man and make you understand
Amanda

("Amanda," Boston)

And Beth:

Beth, I hear you callin’
But I can’t come home right now
Me and the boys are playin’
And we just can’t find the sound
Just a few more hours
And I’ll be right home to you
I think I hear them callin’
Oh, beth what can I do
Beth what can I do

("Beth," KISS)

And Alison:

Oh it's so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl.
And with the way you look I understand
that you were not impressed.
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
take off your party dress.
I'm not going to get too sentimental
like those other sticky valentines,
'cause I don't know if you are loving somebody.
I only know it isn't mine.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.

("Alison," Elvis Costello)

There's also songs for Helena, Jenny, Nancy, Mysterygirl, Brandy, Jill, Elizabeth, Lisa, Sarah, Amy.   Did I forget any?

Men bloggers, don't worry.  I didn't forget you.   I'm not embarrassed to fall in love with a man's name.  Everyday, I take a break at noon from whatever freelance project I'm working on,  make myself a sandwich, click onto Danny's site, and grab my bagpipes:

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

("Danny Boy," Irish Classic)

Now, despite our separation, the main love of my life remains, of course, Sophia.   And I was positive that there weren't any "Sophia" songs in existence.   But Google proved me wrong:

Sophia by Bif Naked
Sophia by The Rasmus
Sophia by Enter My Silence
Sophia by X-Ray Spex
Nude Sophia by Lux Occulta
Hagia Sophia by Secret Chiefs 3
Aetheosophia by Thor's Hammer
Song of Sophia by Dead Can Dance
Sophia On The Stereo by The Benjamins
Messages from Sophia by Lisa Germano
Disciples Of Sophia (The Templars) by Necromantia
All For You Sophia by Franz Ferdinand

I spent all tonight downloading these songs.   Most of these tunes were just awful.  None of them captured any of Sophia's real qualities.

My assignment for later this week:  write a song called "Sophia." 

(to be continued)

Bad Name for a Prison

From today’s LA Tmes:

Two suspected murderers and a suspected child molester escaped Saturday from the San Diego County jail on Otay Mesa near the Mexican border, officials said.

The three escaped from the recreation yard at George Bailey Detention Facility on Alta Road and were seen running into bushes in an adjacent canyon. Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the search.

Couldn’t they come up with a better name for a major California prison?  The only George Bailey I know:

Promoting My Blog

paris2.jpg

Recent Conversation:

Woman:  So, do you know Danny from work?

Neil:  No, I met him through my blog.   And did you work with Danny?

Woman:  No, no.  I work at UCLA.  I manage their career center.

Neil:  Oh, really?  So, how’s the job market this year?

Woman:  Really good.  But I’m always talking to the students about their blogs.

Neil:  Why’s that?

Woman:  Well, several companies have rescinded their offers of employment because they Googled some students’ names and found all sorts of salacious and immature material on their blogs. 

Neil:  Well, they’re just young students!  That doesn’t seem fair…

Woman:  Even so.  Companies want responsible employees.  They consider the employee to be the "face of the company."   You can’t imagine some of the ridiculous stuff these students publish on their blogs.  And then these kids put their REAL NAME out there.  Don’t they realize that every HUMAN RESOUCE department Googles a prospective employee’s name?!

Neil:  Hmmm…  (thinking:  This woman has small, but nicely-shaped tits).

Woman:  …but these are mostly stupid blogs of kids, not intelligent material like Danny’s… and yours.  What did you say your blog was named again?  I’d like to take a look…?

Neil:  Arts and Letters Daily

Beggars and Choosers

beg2_1.jpg

Sociology experiment:

This Morning

Looking disheveled and unshaven, I stood outside my local Starbucks and panhandled for money.  I said I was an unemployed Desert Storm veteran.  I mentioned that my wife and child left me and that I hadn’t eaten in a week.

TOTAL AMOUNT COLLECTED:  87 cents

This Afternoon

After showering and putting on a Lacoste polo shirt, I returned to the exact same spot to panhandle for money.  This time, I asked my film school friend, Roland, to show up with his camera and videotape me.   When asking for money, I told passerbys that I was one of the participants on NBC’s "The Apprentice" and that our latest "task" was to use our marketing skills to obtain the most money by "begging," or risk being "fired" by "the Donald."  I told everyone how important winning this game was to me, because despite my trust fund, my Harvard education, and my success as a Wall Street attorney in my father’s firm, I thought it would be "cool" to become Donald Trump’s apprentice and try to get a television gig of my own.  After all, who doesn’t want to be on TV?

TOTAL AMOUNT COLLECTED:  467 dollars, including 2 dollars I took from a homeless Desert Storm veteran

Those Dancing Feet

tap2.jpg

On Saturday, writer and blogger Billy Mermit is offering a seminar at UCLA titled "Exploring the Core Elements of Storytelling in Film and Fiction." which will deal with the similarities and differences of "story" in movies and literature.   It sounds like an exciting seminar.  While thinking about the subject matter last night, it occurred to me that one difference is obvious — the writer of fiction must use the written word to convey EVERYTHING, while a filmmaker has many tools, such as visuals and music to manipulate the audience.   We all know the cliche "a picture is worth a thousand words."   One glance of a movie actor can equal  ten pages of description.   Visual content seems to always do a better job in capturing our attention.  As an example — yesterday, I spent a good amount of time writing my "sexology" post.  I spent one minute uploading the photo of the "penis bed."   Can you guess which was talked about twice as much in the comments?

Some of you are amazingly good writers.  You convey all of your emotions and information through Words.  You create imagery and poetry through the English language.  

I’m a lazy writer.  Words frequently fail me.  That’s why I reach for every trick in the book — photos, songs, cheap sex jokes.

Some of my favorite blogger-writers are meeting in New York this weekend for TequilaCon 06.  I’ve been excited about this event for over a month.  Even though I already have an airline ticket, I unfortunately needed to cancel my trip, since I have some pressing matters I need to deal with in Los Angeles. 

I am very disappointed about not going to New York this weekend and meeting some of you.   I hope those who attend will think of me as there in spirit.  I hope everyone has a great time in New York.  I wish I could better communicate my emotions to you, but, as usual, I can’t find the words.  So, I guess I’ll need another way of showing you my love — through the magic of tap dancing.

ORCHESTRA STARTS PLAYING.

I rip off my clothes to reveal a tuxedo underneath.  Sophia throws me a top hat and cane.   I jump on top of my bed.  The entire bed levitates and a staircase folds out in front of me, covered with flickering lights  A neon "New York City Skyline" descends in the background.  I start to SING:

Come and meet those dancing feet,
On the avenue I’m taking you to,
Forty-Second Street.
Hear the beat of dancing feet,
It’s the song I love the melody of,
Forty-Second Street.

Tap Tap Tap Tap
Tap Tap Tap Tap
Tap Tap
Tap Tap
Tap
Tap
Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap
Tap Tap Tap Tap 

Ask the Amateur Sexologist (NSFW)

bed2_2.jpg
(my bed at home)

Every morning, after a few rounds of morning sex with one of my always-satisfied lovers, I turn on my computer and read my email.  My in-box is always stuffed with questions from men seeking advice about problems they are having in the bedroom.

Here’s a typical email:

Dear Neilochka,

I’ve heard so many stories of how you’re able to give a woman multiple orgasms simply by looking into her eyes.   What is the secret to becoming such a sexual legend?   Please help!

Sexless in Seattle

Many of these emails are from married men.  Although they are still very much in love with their spouses, much of the sexual spark has dwindled as married life (children, work, and taxes)  has taken a negative effect on their stamina and libido.

I’m often finding myself repeating the famous “Neilochka Rules for Pleasuring a Woman Each and Every Time”:

1)  Commitment
2)  Concentration
3)  Caring
4)  Excellent Singing Voice

Of course, it would take years for the typical man to reach the “Super Lover” status of someone like myself.  But let me be honest with you — my advanced techniques and superior hand to eye coordination don’t always work out for my own benefit.  

Recently, I had brought a lady friend back to my apartment with the aim of seducing her.  But one look in her eyes as I sang the chorus from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and she was having several orgasms.   And what about me?  By the time I was undressed, she was blissfully asleep.

Despite the drawbacks, I am proud of my utter confidence in the bedroom.  And I’m always willing to give tips to other men who need help.  Sometimes, when I hear about a couple having severe sexual problems, I request that they both meet me in my office (the IHOP on Wilshire Blvd.)

Last week, I met with Matt and Alice Weinberger, a successful and friendly married couple living in Encino, California.   Matt runs a popular blog titled “Married but Horny.”  Alice writes about her yo-yo dieting and her unhappy marriage in her blog “Overweight and Underf*****d.”

After we ordered our pancakes, we started our session.

It was clear from the body language of the couple that Matt and Alice’s lovemaking had gone stale. 

Alice, a sweet-faced schoolteacher at Anaïs Nin Junior High, said:

 “Fucking Matt is as dull as teaching a first period geography class.” 

Matt, an executive with the Mrs. Paul’s Corporation retorted that:

 “Alice is as frigid in bed as a frozen fish stick.”

“At least one of us is always hard,” blasted Alice, attacking Matt in one of his sensitive areas. 

I knew this was going to be a challenge, but I saw that underneath all the hostility in their words was a couple that truly loved each other.   And when I looked into Alice’s eyes and saw her turn beet red, I knew that achieving multiple orgasms was not a problem for this devoted schoolteacher.   All she needed was for Matt to step up to the bat, so to speak.  But how was I going to give Matt the secret key to unleash the passion of his own wife?

I asked them to both to close their eyes and meditate.  Luckily, “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band was on the IHOP sound system, putting everyone into a contemplative mood.  I asked both Matt and Alice to think back to their earlier, more carefree days.  Before they got married.  Back when they were dating.  Back when passion was still in the air.  Back to the summer of 1999.

Matt started telling me about how they first met:

“I had just started working at the Mrs. Paul’s company when they had a big Fourth of July company picnic.  I didn’t know too many people, so I started talking to this pretty girl who was on line with me, waiting for the salmon burgers to be grilled.  She said her name was Alice.  She was studying to be a teacher.  She said she came with a friend as “a goof.”  But I have a feeling that she was really there checking out the guys.”

“Oh, Matt,” said Alice, embarrassed.  “You’re awful!”

“But it was the truth, wasn’t it?”  asked Matt, laughing.  “All of a sudden, my boss made an announcement that they were going to start playing games, so I asked Alice if she wanted to be my partner in the potato sack race.”

“That was so much fun,” said a smiling Alice, reminiscing.  “We did the potato sack race, then we did the egg in spoon race, and then we did the wheelbarrow race.  Remember that, Matt?  Remember how we won the wheelbarrow race!”

“Perfect!” I yelled, standing.  “I’ve found your solution!”

“You have?” asked Matt.

“Absolutely,” I replied, as I opened up my sex manual.  “You just need to get back in touch with those feeling you had when you first met.  The excitement.  The rush to the head.  I have the solution that will solve all your sex problems and make your marriage blossom again!” 

“How?!” they both asked, excitedly.

“Viva La Wheelbarrow!” I shouted, as I showed them the photo.

Yes, indeed.  A week later, I received a letter from Matt and Alice, saying their sex life is better than ever — back the way it was before they got married.

Another happy couple thanks to Neilochka, Amateur Sexologist!

Is Your Wife an Imposter?

climb2.jpg

After four long years, Tad and Dixie Martin finally encountered each other on yesterday’s episode of "All My Children."  Tad could not believe his eyes.  He thought that Dixie was dead.  Was she really Dixie?  Or an imposter?  Perhaps she was some actress given plastic surgery by Tad’s nemesis, world-renowned cardiologist (but immoral) Doctor David Hayward?

"I am Dixie.  I know things only we could know." said Dixie.

"You could have been fed that information from David Hayward."

"But would he know this…?"

She mentioned some obscure reference to "Ozzie and Harriet" that only the two of them would know  — from an episode twenty years ago, way before the actors had all their real-life plastic surgery.

Tad instantly knew this was the real Dixie.

I turned to Sophia, who was sitting on the couch with me, eating leftover matzoh.

"Make believe I disappeared for five years…"

"Where are you going to go?"

"It doesn’t matter.  I go to find myself… in Tibet.  By climbing the mountains."

"Yeah right.  You in the mountains."

"Just imagine it."

"You’d be calling me within two days, saying you lost your backpack and you need me to send you bagels."

"OK, let’s imagine you leave for five years to go climbing in Tibet.  And then you come back.  And I don’t know if you’re an imposter or not."

"Why would an imposter bother coming to you?"

"Just imagine it!  Now, what are you going to say to me to prove that it is really you?"

"I’m confused.  Who am I?   Me or the imposter?"

"You’re you.  Sophia.   And I want you to prove that assertion."

"I don’t know."

"C’mon, something only we would know.  Like with Tad and Dixie — and "Ozzie and Harriet."

"How about "bouqerones?""  (anchovies we ate during our honeymoon in Spain)

"I actually wrote about them in some comments to Ashbloem.  How do I know you just didn’t read that on her blog during your research?"

"Excuse me.  How the hell am I supposed to know you wrote about bouquerones on someone else’s blog?  How about if I just say, "Neilochka?""

"Neilochka?  Are you serious?  That’s my yahoo email address.  You could have just read the blog.  There are people in other countries that know the story behind Neilochka.  That wouldn’t prove you’re not an imposter"

"I can’t think right now.  Let’s just finish the soap."

"So, are you saying that after all this time together, you can’t come up with one thing that can prove that it is you and not an imposter when you come back after five years in Tibet?"

"Maybe if you would stop writing about everything on your blog, I would have something to say when I come back from Tibet?"

"I don’t write about everything.  C’mon, think.  Prove to me that you are who you say you are."

"I’m pretty sure that you’re never going to write on your blog about the time you xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx."

"Holy shit, I forgot about that.  Welcome home, Sophia?!"

"Can we go back to watching TV now?"

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