the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Saturday, May 24th

MORNING

In the morning, I went to see an apartment that is being rented.  This is a big step for me.  I’ve been telling you that I’m moving out for… about six months now.   To make the whole situation more pathetic, Sophia (my separated wife, for newcomers) came with me to check out the place!  Before you make the comparison of mommy accompanying her child on her first day of school, I will do it FOR you. I was nervous about seeing this rental.  I found it on Craig’s List.

“Why is it so… inexpensive?” I asked myself.  “Is the economy this bad?” 

The reason…? Let’s just say that the neighborhood was so-so, and the apartment manager seemed to have a side job running a meth lab.  New theory:  It is OK to use a coupon at Olive Garden, but not in apartment hunting.   Even Sophia hated the place.

New vague plan:  Go to NY and visit my real MOMMY for a few weeks and finish this screenplay, then come back and find an apartment.   I know… procrastination.  Brenda, my therapist, is going to give me one of her “looks” this week.

AFTERNOON

As I’ve mentioned to some of you, I’ve started to work on this screenplay project with another writer.  It was a long process of pitching and coming up with ideas.  While nothing is certain,  there is some interest, and I’m hoping to make some real money this year, not just the fake dollars that you can use on Second Life.  Then again… Hollywood is a risky place until the money is paid.

It is not easy working with another writer.  It is like a marriage.  It takes some time.  The other writer and I split up the work load.  I’m writing some of the scenes involving the major female characters.  I opened my mouth and said that “I understand women,” when in reality, this is an obvious lie.  Belinda from Ninja Poodles told me to read Stephen King. 

“He writes excellent female characters!” she said. 

Wht do you think?  Do you think most male writers do a poor job in creating female characters?  I don’t know about you, but I found it completely believable that the Sharon Stone character wore no underwear during that police interrogation in “Basic Instinct.”

Speaking of sex-starved screenwriters, I tried to write a scene on Saturday afternoon while shopping at Target.  Target is my new pharmacist, mostly because they give you the pills in these hip red plastic containers.  I went to Target to pick up my cholesterol medicine (and some paper towels).  This time, I travelled without Sophia holding my hand.  After walking the aisles of products of artists and architects who sold out to the Target Man, and drooling over this cool red Michael Graves toaster, I decided to have a cup of coffee in “the cafe.” 

Our new Target is a rather fancy one.  The parking and the “courtyard” are on the first floor.  The “cafe” is on the second floor and looks out over the courtyard.  I use the term “cafe” loosely.  They sell hot dogs, popcorn, and Pizza Hut slices.  However, a tiny Starbucks franchise is attached to the side, and the atmosphere is light and friendly.  I ordered my “tall” coffee, sat down with my Target bag, and decided to write a scene in the trusty black-and-white-covered composition notebook that I always lug around in case inspiration hits.

Being a New Yorker, noise and chaos is usually calming.  I have no problem writing when there is activity going on.  I just couldn’t focus in Target.  Some bratty kids were playing with the ice machine and the open mustard package sitting on the plastic chair adjacent to me was bugging me.

I decided to take a breather.  I walked over to the railing and looked down into the courtyard.  Customers were flooding in and out, some wheeled shopping cars, others with children in tow.  The majority were women… mothers.  Not surprisingly, my second floor position gave me a pretty good view of the finest cleavage that Redondo Beach had to offer.  I could look right down the tops of women’s blouses.  Hello, mothers!  Some thin, some buxom, some size 2, some size 16, some in tight dresses, some in low cut blouses.  I completely forgot about my screenplay and just enjoyed the view.  This was better than looking down at the Grand Canyon.  So many women!  I glanced up and noticed that there was a video camera.  Big Brother was watching.  This changed everything. 

“Is anyone watching me?” I wondered.   “I must look like a total pervert!”

I certainly felt like a total pervert, especially when I realized that my Target shopping experience had aroused me to the point where I had to sit and wait another twenty minutes until I could leave.

What would my mother think if she saw me on the nightly news, arrested and dragged from the Redondo Beach Target “cafe,” still aroused from looking down the blouses of mothers shopping for Pampers for their children! 

Tonight on America’s Most Wanted

“Redondo Beach is a sleepy town on the coast near Los Angeles.  It is a family-oriented town where children go to church and everyone is polite.  But every community has their bad apples, the underbelly and perverts who walk the street.  One of the favorite Saturday activities in this pleasant beach community’s is for mothers and their children to go to the local Target for some fun, relaxation, and shopping.  Little do the unsuspecting mothers know, that in the cafe, is Neilochka Kramer, the lowest form of pervert, ogling women like  one-dimensional sex objects when he is supposed to be writing realistic female characters. “

NIGHT

Sophia got her Wii fit delivered.  I said I would connect it and figure out how to use it, but I did the laundry instead.  I was feeling passive-aggressive.  Why are we getting a Wii JUST as I’m about to move out?

At 2AM, I turned on Showtime.  There was some soft-core movie.  I have no idea what it was about, but I watched a scene where  a sexy woman in high heels (male screenwriters again!) comes into a bar/restaurant, asks the bartender to show her to the women’s room, and then the two have sex in the cleanest and well-organized restaurant kitchen in existence.  

The minute the situation became “hot” and the woman stripped down to her bra, some annoying jazz music started to play on the soundtrack.  It made me wonder what would happen if sex really caused this John Tesh-like music to play in our minds.  Would I become impotent?  I think I would rather BE impotent than have to endure this same music every time my pants came off.  I certainly would want the sex to be over VERY QUICKLY just to stop the music.  On the positive side, women would want it over fast, too. 

“Come on.  Stick it in and get it over with already!  Just make this third-rate jazz music stop!”

This was my Saturday, May 24th.

Two Years Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Driving in LA – In Two Parts

36 Comments

  1. Stacey

    Neil, you’d just have to make sure the woman is screaming your name so loud you can’t hear the crappy music. Easy fix.

  2. sizzle

    I find it believable that Sharon didn’t wear panties to the interrogation. That was how her character was. Besides, sometimes it is fun to go free. Ahem.

    A male writer who writes believable female characters: Wally Lamb or John Irving.

  3. Miss Britt

    I think it would be interesting to read your interpretation of a female character.

    I imagine they would be very strong and capable.

    I think the part you would have the hardest time with is their flaws.

    /psychoanalysis.

  4. TorontoPearl

    Neil, you forgot about Facebooking at the Laundromat and stealing Wi-Fi from the Hallmark store. That helped round out your Saturday evening, didn’t it?

  5. Yvonne

    I agree with Belinda, Stephen King does write great female characters. So does Iain M. Banks. Good luck with your screenplay – in my opinion putting things off to write is ‘good’ procrastination than putting off writing.

  6. Wendy

    that was some day. And thanks. From now on, I’m going to think about what I wear to Target.

  7. Greg

    King writes okay female characters, I guess…that is, until the PIG’S BLOOD HITS. A slightly different suggestion would be Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise” comic series.

  8. teahouseblossom

    Hey, come on over to New York. Let me know when you’re here, and let’s actually try to get together this time!

  9. Kathy

    Wht do you think? Do you think most male writers do a poor job in creating female characters?

    I think female writers do a much better job at creating male characters than male writers do at creating female characters. A male writer who creates believable female characters? Off the top of my head? Douglas Coupland, maybe?

  10. Anonymous City Girl

    Yesterday I realized that the restrooms at the lounges I go to are not “baby friendly” and diapers are NOT leak proof.

  11. sa_scully

    Stephen King does write excellent female characters. Also, I was very impressed with the understanding of women portrayed in Memoirs of a Geisha.

  12. Keyruh

    Ha. You probably saw my tits yesterday.

  13. Neil

    Keyruh — You’re not the one who bought those two 24-packs of toilet paper and was wearing that yellow dress and had two kids, were you? Cause… wow!

  14. Anonymous City Girl

    You could always just go completely the other way and make the women completely 1 dimensional. I remember reading some Hemingway stories where he didn’t even bother to give the women names.

  15. cruisin-mom

    Wow, shopping at Target just got exciting.

  16. stepping over the junk

    Your Target sounds ALOT cooler than my Target. So, the screenplay, are you getting tips from Showtime late night soft core?

  17. Jane

    I don’t think it’s necessary to be a woman to write women characters, or vice versa, any more than it’s necessary to be a child to write a child character, or to be a criminal to write about crime. The talent isn’t in the pants, but in the pen, and of course personal experience.

    I wrote as a male for about two years. No one caught on, and it proved a pet theory of mine about how male and female writers are handled differently. It’s fun to stretch the boundaries and teach yourself “Black Like Me” lessons along the way.

    Maybe you should be Stella Kramer for awhile and see how well you pass. 🙂 Of course, you’d have to write dialog with a non-existent vagina, but I imagine Neilputzka has given you plenty of practice.

  18. Memarie Lane

    I think for the most part male writers do okay writing women. It depends on the quality of the writer in general though, for example I think John Irving does a great job with women, as does Neil Gaiman, but Dan Brown? He shouldn’t even be writing IMHO.

    But I wonder why women writers aren’t questioned as often for their portrayals of men. Toni Morrison and Annie Proulx write men really well as far as I can tell (being a woman myself), but many pop writers, like Maeve Binchy or Helen Fielding, only seem to be able to conceive of men as either teddy bears or philanderers.

  19. Nedra

    Neilochka, your life is a Woody Allen movie. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a good thing. Luckily, you’re moving into the next act and you can still rewrite the script.

  20. Nat

    I thought Jose Saramago’s lead character in Blindness was amazing. How I loved that book…

    Michael Ondaatje does these amazing sensual characters too… I think it can be done. Perhaps it’s a case of not seeing them so much as women but as people.

  21. Neil

    Nat – Women are people?

  22. Annie

    I agree with Sizzle-John Irving does good female characters. I think you know women pretty well Neil, you will do fine.

  23. Neil

    Jane — I’d like to hear more about how you wrote for two years as a male!

    Maybe I’ll have a contest here next week — who can write best as the opposite sex?

  24. Ariel

    Turn. The. Sound. OFF. Really.

  25. Dagny

    Read “Memoirs of a Geisha.” That was the only time that I have read a book written by a man during which I was completely surprised. I kept checking the flyleaf while reading to assure myself that it was written by a man since I was sure that a woman had written it. Oh, and I’m with Sizzle on Wally Lamb. You couldn’t pry “She’s Come Undone” out of my hands. Other than that, I must say that my favorite female characters were written by women.

  26. Loralee

    Frankly, I think you understand women well enough to write about them.

    And?

    The nearest Target from my house is an hour away.

    And, AND?

    NO Targets in my state have Starbucks in them, which is a total and complete bummer.

  27. Jane

    It’s in my book, Neilochka, which will hopefully be done by the end of summer. It’s all about my forty year experiment, in which I tried on many roles. I’ll send you a copy when it’s done.

    I like your contest idea, but you’ll need an impartial judge. 🙂

  28. Neil

    Just like a modern writer. You have to wait for the book.

  29. AnnieH

    Have you read any of Brian Morton’s books?? Breakable You. Starting Out In the Evening. He does a fair job with his women characters.

  30. Karl

    Reading this post, and then the next day’s about the ram beating his head against the swingset, kind of made me melancholy. Don’t know why.

  31. piglet

    nicholas sparks has an excellent idea of how some women think. he writes those mushy/cushy novels like “the notebook”. i’ve heard him interviewed a few times and he just seems to have a knack.

    having said that, you seem to have your finger on the “how women think” button too. (i’m not just sucking up to you either.)

  32. wendy

    ” Just stick it in” Now there is a line I have never ever uttered….no matter how bad…the…”music” is.

  33. V-Grrrl

    I think hanging out at Target is a good way to look inside women’s heads and blouses.

  34. HeyJoe

    Thanks for the “spoiler” Karl! 😉

  35. better safe than sorry

    i think you should go to nyc, maybe try and get a writing job for your soap. just don’t have those women shopping at target.

  36. somechileanwoman

    Mustard packets bug me too! Your writing is brilliant, I’m so glad I ran into your blog.

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