the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: June 2006 (Page 1 of 3)

Advice to Other Male Bloggers


When making summer vacation plans, traveling with wife or girlfriend AND your mother is not the ideal arrangement, despite what you may think. 

“Why, I would think it is the perfect arrangement!” YOU — the male blogger — might say to yourself. “After all, aren’t these the two most important women in my life?”

That’s exactly what I thought.  But for some strange reason that men cannot understand, women and their mother-in-laws have a strange relationship.   Conflicts may arise over the most miniscule issues, such as whether or not to use low-fat mayonnaise in a tuna fish salad.  

And for the record, the fresh country air does wonders for a male’s sexuality.  However, ironically, the presence of a mother-in-law seems to have the completely opposite effect on the female species.

The Boy Who Cried Goose


Sophia, my mother, and I are sitting on the porch in Cheshire, MA, looking at the lake and the “geese” on the lawn.

Sophia: “You know, Neil, you might need to write a retraction on your blog. You told them all that you chased away these geese, but, um, I think they are ducks.”

Neil: “Ducks? You think so?”

Mom: “What’s the difference?”

Sophia: “Geese and ducks are as different as wolves and dogs.”

Mom: “Yeah, but wolves eat dogs. Geese don’t eat ducks.”

Sophia: “What does that have to do with anything?”

Mom: “I don’t know, but it’s true.”

Neil: “What do ducks eat anyway?”

Sophia: “I think they eat fish.”

Neil: “So, why are they always here on the lawn, looking for food?”

Sophia: “They must also eat grass.”

Mom: “Maybe these ducks are vegetarian.”

Neil: “I thought the reason ducks came out of the water was to clean themselves off.”

Sophia: “What do you think, ducks are like cats?”

Mom: “Wouldn’t it make more sense if they just cleaned themselves off while they swim? They’re in the water already, for God’s sake!”

Neil: “I wonder if ducks and geese even get along?”

In other news, my relationship with Emily Dickinson has spiraled out of control. After our one night stand at her New England home, she’s called me on my phone ten times. When I stopped answering, she sent me a text message saying that she’s thinking about me constantly . She even wrote a poem about me for this week’s Poetry Thursday.

Wild nights! Wild nights! by Emily Dickinson

Wild Nights! Wild Nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in Thee!

I send her an IM telling her that I’m really not in a position to start a serious relationship.

She IM-ed back:

“And what exactly did you think we WERE HAVING when you pushed me against the Italianate style armoire in my drawing room and took pleasure in the ‘rhythm of delight’?”

“Huh? I answered.

“We f***ed, you asshole!” she wrote back.

I immediately blocked this crazy Emily chick and made myself “invisible” on Yahoo messenger.

This morning, I woke up early hoping to look at the lake outside my window. Instead, I found a dead, bloody duck (or was it a goose?) hanging from my window sill, “Fatal Attraction”-style. Attached was a handwritten note from Emily Dickinson:

“Nathaniel Hawthorne was a better lay.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Marketers, Over Here!

A Man of New England

(from bedroom porch)

The old Neilochka was urban, only comfortable in New York or Los Angeles. The old Neilochka was an effete metrosexual, afraid of nature.

The old Neilochka arrived at the lakeside cabin in Cheshire, Massachusetts yesterday afternoon.

1) Neilochka refused to walk to the lake because “of all the bugs.”

2) Neilochka was scared of chasing the geese from the lawn because “they might bite.”

3) Neilochka acted like he knew it all, just because he spent some summers at “sleep-away camp.”

For example, Neilochka and his mother had this conversation last night while sitting on the cabin’s back porch:

Neil: “Did you see the firefly?”

Mom: “Where?”

Neil: “There!”

Mom: I didn’t see it.

Neil: “You have to look closely. You see the light go on and then quickly go off. There it is!”

Mom: “Are you sure that’s a firefly?”

Neil: “Of course I am. What else could it be?”

Answer: Sophia sitting in the dark nearby, opening and closing her LED-lit cellphone to read her email on Yahoo.

That was Neilochka yesterday. A total country-living novice.

Today, he woke up a different man.

As he opened his eyes, he saw the lake just outside his window. He heard the birds. He dragged a row boat from the lake and turned it over when it started to rain.  He fearlessly chased some geese away. He picked berries on a farm. He cooked meat. He stopped being a Californian and became a sturdy New Englander. He drank beer with Herman Melville. He wrestled with Edith Wharton. He made love to Emily Dickinson on her kitchen floor, then showed her how to blog using WordPress. He stood on his cabin’s balcony after Sophia and his mother were fast asleep. He was naked to the stars — a new man born.

He also went to Tanglewood to hear a chamber orchestra and had a good latte in Lenox, MA — but he thought that sounded wimpy and didn’t fit in with the theme of the post.

A Year Ago in Citizen of the Month:  Blinded by Science Project

NY Bloggers


When you meet another blogger on his home turf, it is a good idea to meet him in a establishment that mirrors the blogger’s unique personality.

Sophia and I met the sophisticated Tatyana at the Cafe Sabarsky.   Housed within Museum Mile’s Neue Galerie, the restaurant is patterned after the old-style Viennese kaffeehaus. We talked about architecture, politics, and why Austrian cafes serve coffee with a glass of water and metal spoon on top of the glass. 

(The answer:  Viennese tradition bids to serve a glass of water together with the coffee, although this is coming out of use in our hectic days. Originally the water was served as an excuse for the customer to keep his seat even when he had finished his coffee, to be able to read the newspapers provided in the café, or to have lengthy discussions. The latter was important because the “Kaffeehaus” in Vienna was used as a meeting point for writers, artists, etc.)

The next night, we met the mysterious Retropolitan at the Cabana Cafe, a restaurant designed to look like a cafe in pre-Castro Havana.  We talked about 1940’s radio shows, Retropolitan’s perfect radio voice, and the hardships of breaking up with a significant other.

The next day, I met the very professional and talented Amanda at a hip business-lunch cafe near Union Square.   We talked about our blogging “styles,” writing, and relationships.  

One caveat:

1)  Tatyana gave her cellphone number to Sophia, but not to me.

2)  Retropolitan, on leaving us, said, “It was a nice to meet you, Neil.  It was ESPECIALLY wonderful to meet you, Sophia.”

3)  Amanda, on hearing that I alone was coming to see her, “What a disappointment!  I was hoping to meet Sophia.”

Do you see a trend here?   Next time, maybe I’ll just send Sophia with a cardboard cut-out of myself.


Reader’s Digest


I love all my blogger-friends.  I really do.  But there’s no way I’m going to sit here all day and read your dopey blogs on my mother’s dial-up here in Flushing — while I fall asleep during the page loads.   Did we once all used dial-up?  It’s like still using morse code.


But I hate not keeping up with the lives of other people.  What if someone gets engaged or finds a new job or has sex with a midget — and I miss the post?  It just won’t be the same reading the post a week from now, when everyone else has moved on and I’m the only one at the party.

So, I have a favor to ask.   Could you write a one sentence synopsis of what’s going on in your current life so I can feel like I’m still “plugged in” to the blogosphere — sort of a “Reader’s Digest” of my usual blog reading. 

Please ONE SENTENCE only.  After all, I’m on vacation.  And seriously, how interesting is your life anyway that it deserves more than one sentence?

We’ll be in the Berskshires next week if anyone wants to come visit.

A Year Ago in Citizen of the Month:  Judging a Man by His Shoes

Those Were the Days



A typical middle-class Queens neighborhood.   We hear a piano playing and two voices singing an old song:

“Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.”


Neil and his Penis are singing together at the piano.

“And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.”

After they finish singing, Neil sighs wistfully.

Neil:  “Being back in New York certainly makes me nostalgic for the old days.  Handball in Flushing Meadows Park, flipping baseball cards, playing the game of “Life” in my room with my friend Rob.

Penis:  “Being here makes me nostalgic, too.”

Neil:  “Really?  I didn’t figure you as a sentimental type.”

Penis:  “Sure.  I had youthful dreams like everyone else.”

Neil:  “Like what?”

Penis:  “Well, like you actually f***ing someone before you turned ** years of age?”

Neil:  “I’m sorry about that.  I was shy.”

Penis:  So, I had to suffer?   You should have let me do all the talking.”

Neil:  Penis, I really don’t want to get into this conversation again.” 

Penis:  “I’m still upset about Debbie Rosenzweig.” 

Neil:  “Not Debbie again.”

Penis:  Clearly she wanted to f***k you after that concert — what was that band’s name?  They were my favorite — ”

Neil:  “The Talking Heads.”

Penis:  “Right…  she practically had her hand down your pants.”

Neil:  “Debbie was my friend.”

Penis:  “Exactly!  And she wanted to get more friendly!”

Neil:  “I didn’t want to ruin things with us.”

Penis:  “Jeez, they should revoke your license to be a man.”

Neil:  “Aw, c’mon, Penis.  we’ve had some good times together.   I’ve probably spent more time playing with you than all of my friends combined.”

Penis:  “I guess we have had some good times.  And It’s nice being back in the old stomping ground of Flushing, New York.”

Neil:  “But the neighborhood looks so different.  The Greek deli — gone.  The Garden Bakery, with those amazing onion rolls — out of business.  All my friends — moved away.  I guess time really does march on. ”

Penis:  “I miss the old days myself.”

Neil:  “Yeah?  In what way?”

Penis:  “For one thing, being a Penis used to be a lot more prestigious.  I remember when a girl would go crazy when I would make my appearance in the bedroom — proud and strong, like a U.S. Marine.  Now every woman has some sort of exotic vibrator at home with more controls than a Tivo.  How can I ever compete?” 

Neil:  “C’mon, women will always have a place for a Penis.”

Penis:  “Are you so sure about that?  I hear there’s a new vibrator coming out with a docking station for the woman’s iPod.”

Neil:  “Wow, I didn’t realize you were as insecure as I am.”

Penis:  “Sometimes I worry that my Glory Days are gone.   I remember when the C**k was King.     Now it’s all about cunnilingus.  It’s the fault of that damn ‘Sex and the City’!  Now, every woman wants the tongue.  What are we — men or puppy dogs?  It’s like the c**k has become a second class citizen.  Soon they won’t even call you “Citizen of the Month” anymore.”

Neil:  “I guess we both need to adjust to the times.”

Penis:  “Adust?  Me?  No, I’m gonna keep on f***ing MY WAY until I’m ninety years old.  I’m even hoping to get a little action here during this NY trip. 

Neil:  “You do realize that Sophia’s here.”

Penis:  “I know.  And I applaud you for renting that romantic lake-side cabin in the Berkshires next week.  Finally, you’re doing something smart.”

Neil:  “Uh, maybe I forgot to tell you… but my mother to going with us.”

Penis:  “Please.  Shoot me now.”

Bloggers with Biceps – Graduation



Neil:  “Congratulations to those who have made it through a month of exercise. 

I can’t say I was perfect.  I reached my goal twice and donated money twice.

I’m definitely going to keep on exercising.  How about you? 

I’m looking forward to the day when I can rip my shirt off and show you all what exercise has done for my physique.

Since this is your official graduation from Bloggers with Biceps, I’ve invited someone special to hand out your official decals — Governor of California Arnold Schwartzenneger.”

Arnold: “Thank you, Neilochka.  I appreciate everything you and your blog do for California’s economy.  As I look out at all of you Bloggers with Biceps, I am truly amazed that such a loser bunch of girly-boys and fat-ass women chose to finally do some exercise. 

I’m especially glad that a few of you live in California and are choosing to exercise, because having fat people in this state is bad for our reputation.  We are supposed to be the mecca of plastic surgery and incredibly thin women like my wife, Maria.  Hopefully, on Election Day, California voters will support me by voting in Proposition 184, which builds a wall around the state prohibiting anyone with more than 15% body fat from entering California.

But let’s leave politics for another day.  Or like I love to joke, “let’s Terminate this conversation.”  Today is all about YOU and your SUCCESS. 

May I call to the podium the following bloggers:

Dating Dummy
Edgy Mama
The Yearning Heart
Anonymous City Girl
Plain Jane

Congratulations all.  You have made Neilochka proud.

As you may have noticed, there are two decals attached to this post.  Please print them out on some nice paper stock, then iron them onto your favorite denim jacket or jeans.  Just don’t put them on the back of your pants because it will just emphasize your big ass.  Hey, it’s only been one month.  What did you expect — miracles?”

Neil:  “Thank you, Governor Schwartzenegger for that incredibly inspirational speech.   Doesn’t he look great?  He’ll always be Mr. Universe in my book. 

Thank you to all the bloggers out there who participated.  It made exercise fun.  Let’s keep on nudging each other through emails. 

Now turn off your computer and get yourself to the gym!”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Battle of the Cult Stars

My Father vs. Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Today is Father’s Day. This is the first Father’s Day since my father passed away in September.

Tomorrow is also my father’s birthday.

I’m hoping he’s celebrating Father’s Day and his birthday up in heaven. In fact, this is what I imagine is happening up there:

My father is in a Jewish deli in heaven, having a corned beef sandwich and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. He is at a table talking with four of his new friends — Cary Grant, Victor Mclaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and Sam Jaffe — the cast of his favorite movie, Gunga Din (1939). My father loves hearing the inside stories about the film’s production.

“Arthur, my dear friend,” says Cary Grant., dressed in the same casual white suit he would have worn to the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in 1940. “Did you know that Howard Hawks was the original director until he worked with me on “Bringing Up Baby.” It was such a box-office disaster, that RKO brought in poor Georgie Stevens!”

“RKO back then was run by a bunch of pussies!” insists Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

“F**k ’em all!” screams the drunk Victor Mclaglen.

“Hey, Vic, didn’t you say the same thing when we brought back those hot-to-trot “Wizard of Oz” Munchkins to our hotel that night?” jokes Sam Jaffe, the former Yiddish child actor who played Gunga Din, and was later blacklisted. “We certainly f**ked them all!”

Victor Mclaglen lets out a hearty laugh, and offers my father a beer — but my father is not much of a drinker. My father sticks with his Cel-Ray soda.

Douglas Fairbanks looks in the Arts section of the Heaven Times.

“Hey, Arthur, look at this. Citizen of the Month happens to be the new #1 blog in Heaven, having just knocked “Dooce” down to #2.”

“That’s my boy,” says my father.

“When’s he going to do another talking penis post?” asks Cary Grant. “Those are hilarious.”

“Do you think he and Sophia will ever get back together?” asks Sam Jaffe, using his Gunga Din voice for effect.

My father sighs.

“I remember telling him that he should marry an easy-going woman like Elaine, but did he listen?”

“Children never listen. I know mine never did,” adds Douglas Fairbanks.

“But I love that Sophia,” my father adds.  “She always takes care of my boy.”

Yes, this is what I imagine.

My father having a great time — celebrating with his new friends. But as a big movie fan, my father knows that every story needs a good villain… and some action…

So, into the deli walks the villain —

— British poet Rudyard Kipling, the original writer of Gunga Din. Everyone in Heaven hates Rudyard Kipling. He is the town grouch.

He ambles over to my father’s table and laughs at the sight of the actors.

“So, if it isn’t the four stooges of Hollywood, still talking about that inane Hollywood misinterpretation of my masterpiece.”

“Mr. Kipling, I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave us alone,” says Cary Grant. “We don’t need any of your negativity.”

“What is the matter with you bloody degenerates?” asks Kipling. “Don’t you realize we are all DEAD? Who care about we did on Earth? It was all one big waste of our energy.”

“Rudyard, you’re a real shmuck,” says Sam Jaffe. “You used to be such an inspirational writer. Now all you do is kvetch.”

“Shut up Sam.” seethes Kipling. “Or isn’t your real name Shalom? How in the world did they pick a Yid like you to play the 19th Century Indian Gunga Din?”

“Mr. Kipling, I’m a big fan of your work, but could you please watch your language,” says my father, a bit meekly.

“And who are you?!”

“My name is Arthur Kramer.”

“And why should I care about the opinion of you?”

Cary Grant taps Kipling’s shoulder.

“Arthur’s son, Neil, writes the blog “Citizen of the Month.”

“Am I supposed to be impressed? I’ve read that nonsense.” says Kipling. “The talking penis guy.”

Victor Mclaglen stands, angry at Kipling.

“Rudyard, don’t be a jerk.”

“I’m very proud of him.” says my father.

“Proud of him for what?” asks Kipling. “He’s a talentless piece of shit. The Jungle Book, Kim — what I wrote is pure genius. Your son is a lowly blogger who doesn’t deserve to kiss my shoes.”

“Oh, yeah?” says my father, furious. “Maybe you can kiss my shoes, Mr. Kipling, when you’re lying flat on the floor!”

My father gives Rudyard Kipling a wallop that sends him flying into a passing waiter carrying a tray of food. A bowl of matzoh ball soup falls on Kipling’s head and he is OUT COLD.

The entire deli stands up and cheers for my father. Not only did Rudyard Kipling get what he deserved, but my father showed everyone how much he loves his son.

Of course in real life, my father would never do that. I don’t think he ever hit anyone in his life. But he always loves his son. And I love him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

So You Think You Can Host?


Now that I picked up a few new readers searching for “Gilmore Girls,” I’ve decided to suck up to them and write some more about television.

I have so many things to do before I go to New York that I ended up doing none of them tonight. I spent the evening with Sophia, watching the stupidest shows on TV. I literally think I lost 3% of my brain cells tonight.

Can it get any worse that watching Britney Spears being interviewed on Dateline?

Yes, it can. It is the show, “So, You Think You Can Dance?”

“So, You Think You Can Dance?” is presented by the same production company that makes “American Idol.” It is a dance competition, rather than a singing competition.

Now, I’ll tell you right here. I’m not a snob about these types of shows. “American Idol” is one of my favorite shows. I honestly mean that. I love variety shows. They were a staple of my childhood (Donny and Marie, etc.).

But “So, You Think You Can Dance?” is just bad. Even the title is too long. The judges are boring. The format is clunky. And the hosts make Ryan Seacrest seem like a genius.

Last year, the host was Lauren Sanchez. Viewers from Los Angeles already knew her as a friendly, but dim-witted, local news anchor. But, being a politically-correct type of guy, I was glad to see a “Latina” hostess of a prime-time show, even if this Latina had a little too much of “la rinoplastia.”



This year the hostess is Cat Deeley, a British “TV presenter” and a media sex symbol in the U.K.


She is probably the worst TV hostess I’ve ever seen — and I have watched A LOT of television. Whatever happened to the land of Laurence Olivier and Dame Judi Dench? She is as stiff as a board and can hardly read the cue cards. During the middle of the show, Sophia almost choked on the “smoothie” she was drinking.

“Do you see that?” she screamed. “She’s pulling her NAILS! The hostess is pulling her nails on national television!”

Our Tivo cut off the last minute of the show, so we never found out which male dancer was “eliminated.”

“Have no fear,” I told Sophia. “I’m an expert in searching on Google.”

I quickly went onto the show’s website, where they have a fan forum. On the poorly designed forum (c’mon, FOX!), everyone was angry because Stanislav, one of the best dancers, was cut from the show. I told Sophia the bad news.

“This show stinks,” said Sophia.

But what interested me most about the comments was all the hate focused on the host, Cat Deely. People HATED her. They hated everything about her. The way she looked. The way she spoke. The way she had no chemistry with the dancers. Granted, most of the writers on this forum seemed to be fifteen years old girls — but they all seemed to be right on.

I finally found a comment explaining why Lauren Sanchez was absent from the show this year. Apparently, she is pregnant.

Now, I have no idea whether this decision was her own or the producers, but it did get me thinking about pregnancy on TV. Would it really bother viewers to have a pregnant hostess of a dance competition? I mean, it’s not like she’s doing any heavy lifting. She’s standing there reading from cue cards. I would hope we have advanced to the point where if they made “I Love Lucy” today, Lucille Ball wouldn’t have to hide behind the couch. Would it bother you to see a pregnant TV host?


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