the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: November 2008 (Page 1 of 3)


This is going to be an odd post. I’m going to mention some blog posts that I have read recently, but what I am writing about is not these posts, but my REACTION to these posts.  Right off the back, I want to make sure you know that I don’t think these bloggers are doing anything “wrong” in my eyes.  In fact, I think they are touching me in an unique way.  These posts all exude positive energy — inspiration, gratitude, giving thanks.   They also make me feel somewhat uncomfortable when I read them.  This bothers me.  Is the “negative side” of my personality so strong that I rebel against a loving way of looking at the world.  I am far from a Scrooge or a Grinch.  I actually see myself as a positive person.  So why do some of your posts confuse me?   Why do I find it so difficult — in my own writing — conveying something containing 100% positive energy?   Why don’t I want to inspire anyone?  Is this another case of me looking outward rather than within myself?

Schmutzie just started writing 365 Days of Grace in Small Things.  I told her that I might try doing this on my own blog, but just sitting down at my desk to come up with an “I am grateful for” list gave me an anxiety attack.  It seemed soooo phony.  Am I really grateful for that slice of pizza I had for lunch?

Last week, was the birthday of Kyran from Notes to Self.  Here is the beginning of her birthday post —

My birthday gift to myself this year was to celebrate over brunch with a few of my favorite people, who each went home with a little symbol of the sparkle they bring to my life.

It’s a wonderful thing to look around a room, and realize you can die anytime with the certainty that you will have a splendid funeral with charming guests, plenty of food, an abundance of kindness and wit, and buckets of flowers. Everything after that is icing and sprinkles.

Wow, she is such a good writer.  And what a lovely expression of love for her friends!  So why do I feel like writing a dirty joke in her comments?  My mind does not know how to respond to such pretty words.  I feel like the boy who only knows how to pull the hair of the cute girl in the second grade.

I remember Sophia used to complain that I was portraying myself as too “nice” on my blog.

“You’re not that nice,” she would say.

I think she’s right.  I’m noticing that I have an argumentative side.  Or at least I am acknowledging it as a part of my personality.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about “Buy Nothing Day,” on Black Friday.   I made fun of the idea, calling it performance art over substance.  I first heard about “Buy Nothing Day” from the blogger Gwen Bell on Twitter.  Now, Gwen seems to be a super-nice, caring person, but the minute I saw her mention this on Twitter, I immediately started to argue with her, saying it was bad for the economy.  I don’t think I debated with her in a mean way, but I’m not sure she expected someone to grill her over something that seems — to most people — to be a good cause.   Just look at what happened in that Walmart on Long Island, where an employee was trampled by customers out to get some cheap TVs.   Who likes rampant consumerism?   But I just felt like addressing the other side of the story — the economy.  And I like when people disagree with me.  I sometimes argue the other side, just for the fun of it.  That’s how you learn things.   Remember, I married a Republican wife.  I hope I didn’t come off as aggressive to her.  I’m still relatively “nice.”  I just come from a talkative family.  I have family members who can argue for hours over which deli makes the better corned beef sandwich.

Doobleh-vey is running a series called “Inspire Me,” where she talks with other bloggers about their inspirations.   It occurred to me that I rarely use the word, “inspiration,” and that’s sort of sad.  “Tale of Two Cities” inspired me.   “It’s a Wonderful Life” inspires me.   My mother inspires me.  There are many blogs that I love, but I’m not sure I have found one that truly inspires me.  Am I afraid of “letting myself go,” so I can be inspired by another writer online?

I hope I don’t want to come off as a grouchy stick-in-the-mud.  Like most of you, I struggle with marriage, work, money, family health issues — the typical stuff.  I try to stay positive and have a sense of humor about life, but how far should I go in focusing on the good and inspirational?

Yesterday, I came across this post, written by a blogger/entrepreneur named Patricia, expressing her thankfulness during the Holiday season.  I hope she doesn’t mind me showing you what she wrote.  My intention is not to make fun of it, but to soak in her inspiration.

My life is honestly wonderful. I have an incredible family that loves the daylights out of me, who I get along with so well as a group or individually – each person is like a best friend, a mentor, and a role model. Our holidays are full of kids running around, traditions and good times, and every single person is giving and caring. I live in an amazing life in Los Angeles – I couldn’t ask for better, cooler friends. They are driven, smart, classy and charitable, among some of the best people I know. My apartment is warm and has everything I need. My work and social life are full of things that some people only dream to experience, and believe me, every time I speak on a panel, walk across the lot at a studio, or meet with a CEO or VP I admire, I am so incredibly thankful. My dating life has been nothing short of awesome in the past three years I’ve been single, full of strong, smart, and successful guys I admire so much (including one I’ve never stopped being grateful for). Then, this week, I reconnected with one of the single most important people in my world. If I were to somehow die tomorrow, I would have absolutely no complaints. I am truly, honestly, insanely blessed in every way. It’s incredible.

My mom once said, “Patricia, every time God blesses you, you give it away.” I answered, “It’s because I have so much.” I mean it. If you want to know why I’ve dedicated my life to trying to make the world a better place, this is why. Maybe this is what holidays are all about, to remind you of what you have. Without question, I am so incredibly thankful.

This post really blew me away.  I had to read it twice, just to make sure it wasn’t a parody.  Several thoughts crossed my mind at that time.  “Good for her.”  “What an idiot.”  “I could never write this post in a million years.”  “Why is my life so lame compared to hers?”  “Does she really believe this or is she trying to present a positive face for business reasons (she is an entrepreneur)?”  “Does this inspire me or piss me off?” “What would my readers think if I wrote this post?”  “Why am I so negative?”  “Could I inspire others?”  “Should I inspire others?”  “What the hell would I inspire them to do?”

Patricia, if you come to this blog, I would love to hear how you came to this point in your life.  Was it always like this for you?  Or did you need to focus your energy on positive, inspiring things to get here?

I’ll probably be back on Monday with something sarcastic.  Sigh.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Through Time

(photos from Macy’s and MZ on Flickr for Miley Cyrus)

I know who Miley Cyrus is (she needs to learn to lip-sync better), but who are the Clique Girlz?  The Harajuku Girls?  And do kids really enjoy seeing the Energizer Bunny as a balloon? And didn’t Santa seem a little drunk this year?  Or was he a little too excited to be in the same parade as the Harajuku Girls?

The Harajuku Girls!

The Performance Art of “Buy Nothing Day”

(I do like this poster!)

I’m all for social activism, but there is activism that tries to create change and there is activism that seems more of a useless symbolic gesture.  Social activists have established tomorrow as Buy Nothing Day.  It was founded by Vancouver performance artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine, and I have seen it heavily promoted on Twitter and on blogs.

“Buy Nothing Day is the biggest 24-hour moratorium against consumerism. People around the world will make a pact to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement.”

I think it is a terrific idea — a day to celebrate something that isn’t connected with “buying.”  Finally, a holiday which hasn’t been taken over by Hallmark!  But to me, creating a Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday is childish, like refusing to go to Church on Easter Sunday to spite your parents.

For 364 days of the year, modern life is filled with advertising and consumer-oriented talk, especially online.    Ninety percent of the internet — and YOUR BLOGS and conferences — seems to be about buying, selling, marketing, and promoting, either a product, some swag,  some friend’s book, some giveaway, each other, or your services.

So I like Buy Nothing Day.  But why not make it on March 2 or August 25?  Because by making it on Black Friday, the concept gets publicity — and in the modern world that is more important than creating real change.  It doesn’t surprise me that a performance artist is involved in this project, and he is able to get his own name in the newspapers.  Why not make this “day” into something REAL — an event that the public can truly participate in — rather than a nose tweak?

It is Christmas time.  The best deals of the Holiday season are in the stores this weekend.  Sure Black Friday is ridiculous, with stores opening up at 4AM, and giving special deals to those who show up in their pajamas.  But money is tight.  Why shouldn’t consumers be shopping now?  If there is ONE DAY they should be shopping is NOW!  There are some stores that make 70% of their profits during the shopping days before Christmas.

And with the economy spiralling out of control, what could be better for our neighborhoods than doing a little shopping in our local stores?  Who does it help when the stores close down in our neighborhoods?  Isn’t it bad when people lose jobs and the crime rate increases?  How does this day make me ponder the rampant consumerism of our country?  The performance art aspect of the stunt makes me want to go out and support the economy so my neighborhood can improve.

I would have more sympathy for this day if it was somehow connected with the commercialism of Christmas.  But this protest has nothing to do with wanting to bring religion back to the Holidays.  It is just anti-consumerism — using the same advertising-driven media to promote itself.

I love the idea of Buy Nothing Day.  I think it should be moved to its own date.  Then it would be ABOUT SOMETHING, and not a publicity stunt.  If it was on less confrontational date, everyone can participate, and we could all ponder a less consumer-oriented America.

Good luck to all of those protesting.   If you are participating, please remember to take off your BlogHer advertising tomorrow promoting JCPenney.

(by the way, if you see any good deals for digital cameras online, please email me!)

And the Blogger’s Arts and Crafts fair is still open for business.  Buying handmade is cool, too.

Thank Your First Commenter Day, Year Four

Of all my silly gimmicky blog holiday posts, my very first was for Thanksgiving.  It was called “Thank Your First Commenter Day.”

It was a one-shot idea, because a blogger only has one first commenter, so after the first year, there isn’t anything left to write.   But then, the second Thanksgiving Day showed up, as readily as the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.   And the third.  So I cheated and improvised, going back into my archives and thanking my second and third commenters.  I certainly didn’t expect to be blogging for so long.  It is now time for the Fourth Annual “Thank Your First Commenter Day.”

My fourth commenter was Jack, who writes the blog Random Thoughts.  My post on that day, May 24, 2005, was completely lame.  It was titled “Britney Spears at Kabbalah Center.”  It consisted of a photo of Britney Spears walking out of the LA Kabbalah Center.

Here is the full text of the post —

“The paparazzi were out in force as Britney Spears went to the Kabbalah Center on Robertson.  I’m much more interested in whatever is in the bag.   I didn’t know they have a bookstore.   Do they have Judaica?  Do they serve coffee and muffins in the bookstore (kosher, of course) or just Kabbalah water?”

Have any of my LA readers ever been to the Kabbalah Center?”

That’s it.  That was my post.  Can you believe it?  It was almost as bad as some of your stuff!  But I was young and naive at the time. I didn’t realize back then that I needed to LIVE a little before I became a writer.  I needed to face death and heartbreak and nights of debauchery and sleeping in my car overnight and fistfights in Irish pubs and waking up in the beds of Hollywood strippers in cheap motels on La Cienega Boulevard until one day, like so many other artists in search of their muse, I found “my voice.”  And my “Talking Penis” character was born.  And since then, there has been nothing standing in my way.

After I wrote that post back in 2005, I waited for a response.  Any response.  I checked my stats every five minutes.  I prayed to God that someone would care.  And someone did!  A blogger named Jack wrote a comment.  It was the only comment on the post.

They have a bunch of different things for sell at the center. They give Jews a bad name. I am not a fan of theirs at all.

The Kabbalah center is just not cool.

Madonna — you are right!  Who says the Kabbalah is nonsense?  The Kabbalah brought Jack to my blog.

Jack is still blogging.  He comes to my blog every once in a while and writes a comment.  I read his posts in my Google Reader.  We have a lot in common — we’re both Jewish men who like stories about pop culture and relationships between the sexes.  For some reason, we never really became close friends.  He is more religious than I am, and hangs out with those the Jewish blogosphere, while I tend to flirt mostly with the black and Latino women.

Once, when I was in his area, I emailed him.  “Would you like to meet for a cup of coffee?” I asked.  It was a big step for me.  It was the first time that I had asked another blogger to meet.  He said, no.  He wanted to keep his personal life separate from his blogging life.  He was worried about his job and his family.  He even told me that his name wasn’t “Jack.”  At the time, I remember this pissing me off.  “What chutzpah!” I thought.

But I forgive him.  And I respect his way of thinking.  Just imagine you are someone responsible, like a married mother, going to a conference like BlogHer and getting really drunk, and then having someone take a photo of you, and a few months later, some guy adds that photo to his Flickr “favorites,” so now the whole world can see what you look like drunk, your blouse half open, making out with a hunky waiter at a Chicago bistro, a college student fifteen years younger than you.

Maybe Jack is smart for watching his privacy.

You should check out Jack’s blog.  He is very intelligent and interesting writer.

“Jack” — thank you for being my fourth commenter.  It was so exciting to get those early comments.  Because of you, I knew that blogging was going to be something special.  I hope we will continue to keep in touch and read each other.

Note:  I am only writing about my fourth commenter because it is my fourth year.   If you feel like stealing this concept, write about your first commenter.  If anyone cares to mention their first commenter here in my comments, feel free…

Do Over

When people ask me if I blog to grow as a writer, I say no.  Blogging makes me a WORSE writer, since I spend most of my time pandering to the unwashed mob.  Do I blog for the friendships that I make along the way?  Don’t make me laugh. Have you read my new “hate blog” — “My Golden Nuggets,” where I parody the most popular mommybloggers, like Mother Jones, Mother Earth, and Mother Theresa.  No, I blog for one reason only — it enables me to step into my giant time machine equipped with all of the latest time machine accoutrements, and go back one day in time, allowing me to re-ask that same girl from yesterday if she wants to go see Pal Joey with me tonight, even though I just returned from the show.   But, this time no more “I just happened to have an extra ticket… and maybe, perhaps, if you don’t have anything else doing…”

This time, I’m doing it right.  Into the time machine — back a day —

Neil:  “Hiya, Susan.”

Susan:  “Hey, Neilochka!  What’s up?”

Neil:  “I was walking down 54th Street today, and I saw that a revival of Rogers and Hart “Pal Joey” was playing, and I said to myself, “You know, I bet Susan would really like to see this, even though I only met you once, so I bought two tickets — without even calling you first — for tomorrow night.  I’ll pick you up at seven.  What’s your address?”

Susan:  “Wow, you bought tickets because you thought of ME?!”

Neil:  “Sure, baby.”

Susan:  “It’s not like you had an extra ticket because your mother had to go somewhere, like to a funeral?”

Neil:  “Of course not.  Broadway musicals always make me think of you, because the very thought of seeing you again makes me want to sing and dance.”

Susan:  “Aww, that is soooo sweet.  I love contrived, dishonest sweet talking.  All women do.”

Neil:  “So, do we have a date?”

Susan:  “I appreciate the offer, but I already have plans.  I’m going out with this handsome and very wealthy internet mogul who has invited me to a black tie gala at the Museum of Natural History to “Save the African Black-Tailed Raccoon.”  U2 is going to be there to give us a private concert.”

Neil:  “Did I mention that there is a Subway sandwich place across the street from the theater, so we can grab some sandwiches before the show?”

Susan:  “It’s very tempting, but…”

Neil:  “Susan, let me ask you something.  And be honest with me.  When was the last time you had a really good orgasm?”

Susan:  “Uh…let me think.  About two weeks ago, when I was home alone in bed, reading the last chapter of “Twilight.””

Neil:  “I’ll pick you up at seven.  Wear something short, with high heels.”

Susan:  “OK.”

Neil:  (offscreen):  “This post is moronic,”

Neil’s Penis:  (offscreen):  “Just shut up and play along.   Think of this post as damage control for your reputation.   Like Motrin pulling that ad.”

Neil:  (offscreen):  “No one’s gonna buy what I am saying!  There’s no such thing as a time machine either.”

Neil’s Penis:  (offscreen)  “Aw man, you underestimate the power of new media.  People believe anything!”

Neil:  (offscreen)  “Shouldn’t I at least say something about the musical I saw.  There must be someone out there who is curious to hear uh…”

Neil’s Penis:  (offscreen)  “…uh, yeah, right.   Danny from Jew Eat Yet.  He’s about the only one you know who gives a shit about a revival of Pal Joey.”

Neil:  (to Danny at Jew Eat Yet)  “Danny, it was OK… it had some problems, although Martha Plimpton had a surprisingly good voice.  But the show seems old.”

Neil’s Penis:  (offscreen)  “Frankly, I don’t see why anyone would pay 70 bucks for a show that doesn’t have at least one semi-nude sex scene!  You can just stay home and watch HBO!”

Neil:  (offscreen)  “Can I stop writing this post so I can go to sleep?”

Neil’s Penis (offscreen)  “Oh, tell them that one more thing about tonight.”

Neil:  “Oh yeah, right.  On the way to the theater, I passed the Ziegfeld, where they were having the New York premiere of Australia.  And I briefly saw Hugh Jackman’s arm as he walked down the red carpet.”

Neil’s Penis: “And does he have the world’s sexiest male arm?”

Neil:  “It really wasn’t that much better than mine.”

Neil’s Penis:  “Good, I like to hear that.  Confidence!  Women like that.”

Two Thoughts About Women


Yesterday, I chatted with a guy on Facebook.  He was someone I didn’t know, but he seemed to know me.  He noticed that we had befriended many of the same bloggers.

“A lot of married women, right?!”  he joked.

“Yeah,” I said, not sure where his thought process was heading.

“Which of them do you think is the hottest?”

“The hottest?  I don’t know.  They’re all pretty nice.”

He gave me his opinion of someone’s “hotness.”  I wasn’t quite sure what this guy was comparing — the hotness of the profile photos, the writing, or their status updates?  I assumed he was talking about the photos, but hasn’t this guy ever heard of PHOTOSHOP?  I look better than George Clooney on my profile pic thanks to the fine folks at Adobe!

Is this how most normal guys talk to each other in private?  I didn’t even know this guy and we’re already rating women on their curves?

“Whooa… nice babe in the red!” he wrote to me.  He was looking at my blog.

I clicked onto my url because I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

He was looking at the “poster” from the Blogger Arts and Crafts show.

“That’s Erin!” I scolded him.  “She’s a blogger I know.”

“She’s… hot…”

This annoyed the hell out of me, as if he was checking out the ass of my sister.

“Hey, she’s married and I don’t think she would appreciate us talking about her like a sex object.”

“OK, OK… whoa.   You call her a “hot babe” in your own post.”

“That’s different.” I replied.


Oooh, that was a good question.  The only thought that popped into my head was that if I am going to be sexist or inappropriate, I should do it to the person’s face, or at least read her blog first.

I remember once seeing a photo of a blogger friend in a tight t-shirt.   A few days later, we were chatting on IM.

“Susan, I have to tell you that you have great breasts!” I said.  “Your husband is so lucky!”

“Really?  Thanks!  LOL”

Was I wrong for saying that?  Of course I was.  Was I being honest in expressing myself to a friend?  Absolutely.   And notice how I mentioned HER HUSBAND, as if I was congratulating him as well.  My comment was not wrong or hateful.  In fact, it was all about beauty, family values and a celebration of their marriage!

But mark my words — if some guy took me aside at BlogHer and whispered, “Check out Susan’s tits!” I would punch him in the nose.  That is just rude.


A relative died this weekend and my mother is going to Massachusetts on Monday to attend the funeral.  We had already bought tickets to a revival of “Pal Joey” tomorrow night at Studio 54, so now I had an extra ticket.

“Who should I ask?” I wondered.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a friend of a friend, a single woman.  I thought she might enjoy going to the show instead of my mother.  But just as I was about to contact her (I chose email rather than the phone, of course), the same fears and insecurities that have been plaguing me since junior high, when I had a secret love for Jane Goldfarb, came to surface.  This was a disappointment.  I was confident that years of marriage would have given me the inner strength to combat that age-old fear of the opposite sex, but it was exactly the same feeling that I remember — that fear of rejection, now mixed in with a new more-adult anxiety — the equally debilitating fear of success.  What if it goes WELL?!   What then?!

My intention is NOT to date this woman.  I just have an extra ticket.  But won’t she assume that I am asking her out on a date?  And what’s so wrong about that?  Should I remind her in the email that I am still married, and that I know she knows that I am still married?  Will she think I am a two-timing cheat?  What if she says no?  Will she feel uncomfortable with me if I meet her again at some party?  Should I just write in the email “Oh, I just happen to have an extra ticket…” to make it seem less than a date?  Or does that sound rude, like I really don’t give a crap and just asked her because she’s available?  How can I make this sound like it isn’t a date, but still give her the hint that I am asking her for a nice reason, and that I think she is smart and funny, yet I still looked at her ass that night, even though I shouldn’t have done that?  And you know what — I’m not even sure she’s doesn’t have a boyfriend.  Should that matter?  If we aren’t dating, what’s the big deal?  If some guy you just met called you up and asked you if you wanted to go to the theater, would you think it was a date?

I am now at McDonald’s writing this post.  I was going to title it something like “Wimping Out,” because I am deciding to call a male friend to go with me instead of driving myself crazy.

But you know what, I’m tired of portraying myself as wimpy in this blog.  I am not that wimpy.  I just have trouble making decisions sometimes because there are too many different scenarios playing out in my mind at once.  Maybe that is why I am good at Hollywood pitch meetings.  If a producer doesn’t like the guys driving a Corvette, — hey, they can drive a tractor instead!  But this type of creative thinking is BAD in real life.  It makes me too passive.  And what is the worst that can happen if I ask her?  She can say no.  I can French kiss her in the taxi cab on the way home?  She can fall madly in love with me and I tell her that I am still married and break her heart?    I can find her BORING and can’t wait to get home and go on Twitter?

F*ck you all.  Why am I always presenting myself as more fearful of life than I really am on this blog?  Am I doing it for your amusement?  Am I afraid that I would have a boring blog post if I actually enjoyed myself and only had positive stuff to write about.  And what do I care what you think?   This blog is not making me one cent, you social-climbing, self-absorbed…

OK, OK, calm down.  Don’t transfer your anger and frustration onto your readers.  They mean you no harm.  They like you.  Or at least they like “you” on the page — the one they think they know.  In reality, they are as weak as you, despite their bravado and their shiny happy blog headers.

And what about Sophia?  Is she going to mind if I invite this woman to the theater?  Why would she care?  F*ck it.  What’s it to her?  I’m doing anything wrong.  I’m asking one woman to go to one musical with me on a Monday night because my mother is going to a funeral in Massachusetts! What’s the f*cking big deal?!

OK, I’m leaving McDonald’s and going upstairs to email her.

I don’t want to ever hear anyone ever call me a wimp again.

Update:  She can’t make it tomorrow, so I am going with a gay male friend.

The Second Annual Blogger Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair

Welcome to the Second Annual Blogger Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair!

Today, you’ll be able to stroll through the fairgrounds and look at some of the terrific HANDMADE holiday gifts made by your own peers in the blogosphere.

We are here to celebrate all of the talented artists and designers who make our world a little bit more beautiful.  Can you imagine how miserable the world would be if we only had depressed and grouchy writers around, always eager to expose the seedy underbelly of life.

But today is about beauty.  And gift-giving.  And a little music.  And food.  And laughs.

And especially BUYING.  And what better way to get us into the buying mood then with the classic song from Oliver!, “Who Will Buy?”


Who will buy my sweet red roses?
Two blooms for a penny.
Who will buy my sweet red roses?
Two blooms for a penny.


Who will buy
This wonderful morning?
Such a sky
You never did see!

Here are some unique gifts that you can buy for your friends and loved ones —

Unique Plaque-mounted Victorian-Style Homes
by Geoff Meeker and Lisa McKay at JellybeanRow
artists in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
(Geoff Meeker blogs at Meeker on Media at The Telegram)

Handmade Wood Toys
by Little Alouette
toy designers in Columbus, Ohio
Little Alouette
(Amy blogs at Doobleh-vay)

Stained Glass Artwork
by GlassFancy
an artist in Hermitage, Tennessee

Handmade Cups and Espresso Sets
by Holli at Classic Rock Cupcakes/ Hollibobolli
a designer in Oklahoma City, OK
(Holli blogs at Baby Faith)

Prints, Gift tags, and Handmade notebooks
by Holly/Pixie of Bird Doodle
an artist in Toledo, Ohio
(Pixie blogs at Pixie’s Temple)

Throughout history, men have wondered what makes a woman happy.   And in every generation, there is a charlatan who comes along, insisting that he has the “answer.”  One of those phonies is the rapper Ludacris, who brags that he knows “What Them Girls Like.”

Relax & take notes,
While I’m put you up on game
Get a sweeter connect, then if i put you up on cane,
But you should grab yourself a seat and a Whisky Double,
Because the girls of the world ain’t nothin but trouble,

They like a little danger and might not admit it,
But they on for the chase and they want us to come and get it,

Nonsense.  As you can tell from this music video, he knows nothing about women.   I will tell you the right answer to “what do them girls like?”   Women like to receive jewelry as gifts.

Here’s some nifty bling that you can buy for your friends and loved ones —

by Karel Chan of Sunshower Design Jewelry
a jewelry designer in Portland

Beads and Jewelry
by Ainsley of Kaskaad Handmade Jewellery
a jewelry designer in Toronto

by Suzanne of Jewelry to Keep
a jewelry designer

by Joy of Goddess Joy
a jewelry designer from Morgan Hill, California

by Willow of Simply Willow
a jewelry designer in Kalamazoo, MI

Jewelry and Bookmarks
by Bijoux Designs For You
mother-and-daugher jewelry designers from Toronto

by Cindy of Ctthings
a jewelry designer from Ames, Iowa

Crocheted Art and Jewelry
by Heather of HMV Designs
an artist in Baltimore

by Jerri of Gems by Jerri
a jewelry designer in Comfort, Texas

by Mzz Thang of F-Shizzle Design Studios
a jewelry designer in Pittsburg, CA

Metal and Organic Jewelry
by Leader of Men
a jewelry designer in Vancouver, CA

Cufflinks and Jewelry Created from Refashioned Vintage Pieces
by Enthral Designs
a designer in Kingston, Nova Scotia

Crochet Wire and Beaded Braidlets
by Crochet Hooked
a designer in Lakewood, CA

by Renee of Renee Fensin Designs
a designer in Milwaukee
(Renee blogs at But Why Mommy?)

Handmade Loose Beads and Jewelry
by Sarah of Imagine That
a designer in Evansville, Indiana

All of us like to look good.  We like hip clothes.  We want the trendiest accessories.  As much as we try to hide it, let’s be honest with ourselves.   We’re material girls and guys.

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re o.k.
If they dont give me proper credit
I just walk away

They can beg and they can plead
But they cant see the light, thats right
cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always mister right, cause we are

Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

Here are some cool bags, clothing, and hair accessories that you can buy for your friends and loved ones —

Bags and Clothing Made From Recycled Materials
by Abigail Road
a designer in Regina, SK, Canada
(Abigail blogs at Abigail’s Road to Nowhere)

by Adam Avitable
a t-shirt designer in Alamonte Springs, FL
(Adam blogs at Avitable)

Felted Hair Assessories
by Fufukitty at
a designer in Iowa City

T-Shirts and Hats
by Winter of Rott and Roll Productions
a designer in Orange County, California
Rott and Roll Productions
(Winter blogs at Sunlight Sucks)

T-shirts embellished with Crystals
by Sonia of Sunshine Designs
a designer in Carroll, Iowa

Some people are just pain in the asses to buy a gift.  They either are very choosy or seem to own everything already.   For these troublesome, high-maintenance people, you need to shop carefully, because they are very particular.

Hush little baby, dont say a word
Pappas gonna buy you a mockingbird

If that mockingbird dont sing
Pappas gonna buy you a diamond ring

If that diamond ring turns brass
Pappas gonna buy you a lookin glass

Here are some beautiful pieces of artwork and photography to arouse the senses of your choosy friends and loved ones —

by Memory Layne of Memory Layne Creative
an artist in New England
(small sunflower painting price here)

Painting, Pottery, and Sculpture
by Annie of BlissfulArts
an artist in Taos, new Mexico
(Annie blogs at Blissful Bohemian)

2009 Calendar Featuring Nature Photography
by Greeblemonkey
a photographer in Denver
(Aimee blogs at Greeblemonkey)

by Parallex Photo
a photographer in Holyoke, MA

by Kim at 180/360
a photographer in Las Vegas
(Kim blogs at 180/360 Blog)

by Erin Cooper of e.cooper Designs
an art director and photographer in Denver/Oklahoma
(Erin blogs at Saucybritches and is the poster girl for the fair)

I hope you all enjoyed the arts and crafts fair.   Please continue browsing and while you look, enjoy a complimentary  piece of virtual cranberry pecan frangipane tart freshly made by Deb at Smitten Kitchen!

(photo by Smitten Kitchen)

(OK, so some ideas DON’T really work in the virtual world).

Also,  there are some good times to be had at Craftastrophe, a website that proves that artists and designers have a sense of humor.   Because they are the first to admit that not every handmade product comes out looking perfect —

Remember, The Christmahanukwanzaakah Blogger Online Holiday Concert is on December 23, 2008!

Lap Dancing and Science

A few days ago, some blogger made a joke about lap dances on Twitter, and it occurred to me that, despite my encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, I didn’t have a clear idea of what happens during a lap dance.   While I have never seen a lap dance in person, I have seen them in movies.  We’ve all seen the scenario — it is a bachelor party, and the groom’s buddies hire some sexy woman/graduate student to dance in some tight t-shirt, circling the soon-to-be-groom like a twirling dervish, an erotic symbol announcing the death of the man’s happy single life, one last hard-on before he settles into the wife-controlled world of domesticity.

But how does the lap dance work? Does the lap dancer just dance for one song?  Do the man get to pick the song from her CD collection?  After all, if I’m going to be the one turned on by the dancer, and she starts dancing to Milli Vanilli, it’s not going to work for me.   I want a song that I would find sexy.  And does she dance just for me?  What do my buddies do meanwhile — just sit around and laugh at me?  Does she ACTUALLY sit on my lap?   If I get into the music, can I dance WITH her?  Even better, can I sit HER on her in the chair while I dance for HER?   That could be fun, too.

Apparently, I need to go out more.

I would be a bad customer for a lap dance.  It took me three years to learn to hug bloggers.  I don’t want a strange woman sitting on my lap, unless I’m volunteering as Santa at the local hospital.

(note to self:  volunteer to be Santa at local hospital)

So, how does an uneducated man learn about lap dancing.  Well, leave it to Wikipedia to have an entire entry on lap dancing, telling me everything about the history of this age-old form of entertainment.

But there was one section of the article that really captured my imagination, because it contained some useful information —

In 2007, based on statistics from 18 dancers over 60 days, it was noted that female lap dancers earned the highest tips around the time of ovulation, during the most fertile period of their menstrual cycle, and the lowest tips during menstruation; the average difference in earning between these two times amounted to about $30 per hour.

Wow.  What a difference in tips!  That’s the equivalent of me going to Olive Garden two nights in a row, ordering the same soup and salad special, and tipping the first waitress $2 and the second waitress $35!  Clearly, there is something special going on during the woman’s “most fertile period of their menstrual cycle.”

I love science.  And I love applied science.  It got me thinking — what could I do with this important scientific news?  Immediately, it became obvious to me.  I’m frankly surprised that our greatest minds haven’t noticed it earlier —

Think about it.   Women are MOST LIKELY to be hornier and HAVE SEX with you during this fertile period.  No wonder these lap dancers are racking up the big bucks during this fertile period.  For most of the month, they are just faking it, dancing for some dopey guys.  But during this fertile period, the women are themselves as horny as the men, maybe even hotter.  On those special nights, if the groom looked anything like Brad Pitt, she might actually take him right there on the chair.  The men sense this, and are going crazy, throwing money to the wind.

So, imagine I work in an office.  I’m a single guy.  I like Susan in Marketing.  I want to ask her out on a date.  I also wouldn’t mind seeing her naked in my bed.  What is my best option to get her into my bed with the least possible effort on my part?


I find out the time of her period, I chart her cycle on a Excel sheet, focusing in on the day when she is the most fertile.  I make a date with her — on the exact day when she is the most fertile and horny as a wild cat.  I take her somewhere fancy, like Olive Garden, tell her some bullshit, like “your eyes are like emeralds,” and then open the car door for her on the way home.  Snap –  in like flint!  A half hour later, she’s riding me like Annie Oakley on her beloved chestnut Abyssinian!

It’s all because of science, math, and Excel.

One problem remains.  In order for the science to be accurate, I need to plot out her most fertile day, which means I need to know the exact days of her period.  This can be tricky, unless I rifle through her pocketbook or her waste-paper basket, looking for evidence.

Luckily, science comes to the rescue again, this time with the Mcclintock effect.

The McClintock effect, also known as menstrual synchrony or the dormitory effect, is a theory that proposes that the menstrual cycles of women who live together (such as in prisons, convents, bordellos, or dormitories) tend to become synchronized over time.  The phenomenon, sometimes referred to as the “social regulation of ovulation,” was first formally studied by psychologist Martha McClintock, who reported her findings in Nature in 1971.

This gives me a whole lot more opportunities to create points on my Excel chart.  Clearly, those working in an office together spend hours in an enclosed space.  Menstrual synchrony will sure take place amongst female employees.  So, if I notice that many of my female co-workers are excusing themselves to the bathroom on the same day, say the 25th of each month, I should be able to extrapolate to a fairly accurate degree the exact day when Susan would be most likely to do the nasty with me on our first date.

Although I majored in English in college and have always enjoyed the Humanities, I have a great respect for Science and Math.


How did we get the word “boycott?”

According to Wikipedia:

“The word boycott entered the English language during the Irish “Land War” and is derived from the name of Captain Charles Boycott, the estate agent of an absentee landlord, the Earl Erne, in County Mayo, Ireland, who was subject to social ostracism organized by the Irish Land League in 1880. In September that year protesting tenants demanded from Boycott a substantial reduction in their rents. He not only refused but also evicted them from the land. Charles Stewart Parnell, in his Ennis Speech proposed that, rather than resorting to violence, everyone in the locality should refuse to deal with him. Despite the short-term economic hardship to those undertaking this action, Boycott soon found himself isolated—his workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as the house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail.

The concerted action taken against him meant that Boycott was unable to hire anyone to harvest the crops in his charge. Eventually 50 Orangemen from Cavan and Monaghan volunteered to harvest his crops. They were escorted to and from Claremorris by one thousand policemen and soldiers—this despite the fact that Boycott’s complete social ostracism meant that he was actually in no danger of being harmed. Moreover, this protection ended up costing far more than the harvest was worth. After the harvest, the “boycott” was successfully continued. Within weeks Boycott’s name was everywhere. It was used by The Times in November 1880 as a term for organized isolation.”

Some famous boycotts:

African Americans during the US civil rights movement;

the United Farm Workers union grape and lettuce boycotts;

the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution;

the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Mohandas Gandhi;

the antisemitic boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Nazi Germany during the 1930s;

the Arab League boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel;

the Arab countries crude oil embargo against the West of 1973;

the US-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow;

the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles;

the movement that advocated “disinvestment” in South Africa during the 1980s in opposition to that country’s apartheid regime.

Boycotts employ intimidation.  The goal of a boycott is to change business or governmental practices.

Do you know about the Motrin Twitter Drama?  A large group of mothers were extremely upset about this Motrin advertisement which was found insulting to mothers.

Some called for a boycott of Motrin:

The blogosphere and Twitterverse are all a buzz with Motrin’s condescending ad regarding babywearing moms…

Moms might be wondering, apart from spreading the word about this (which we’ve already done an awesome job of) and contacting Motrin, what else can we do?…

Here’s my suggestion, you can start by boycotting Motrin, but before you reach for a bottle of Tylenol instead, read on. Johnson & Johnson owns both Motrin AND Tylenol, so if you truly want to boycott them, you need to avoid both.

Eventually the Twittering Moms scared Motrin, and they pulled the ad.  Whether you agree with this action or not, this threat of a Motrin boycott was a legitimate use of consumer (and political) might.

Boycotts employ intimidation.  The goal of a boycott is to change business or governmental practices.

On the other hand, I found this boycott disturbing.

Some gay marriage supporters are calling for a boycott of El Coyote Cafe [a popular restaurant in Los Angeles] after learning that manager, and reportedly partial owner Marjorie Christoffersen donated $100 to Proposition 8 group

I have seen a number of articles recently where gay activists in CA have outed those who donated money to Proposition 8, calling for a boycott of their businesses.

Again —

Boycotts employ intimidation.  The goal of a boycott is to change business or governmental practices.

This Mexican restaurant is not discriminating against gays.  One partial owner donated $100.  Do we want Republicans boycotting Democratic-owned laundromats or refusing to sit in a restaurant with Libertarian waiters?

As you know, I was vehemently against Proposition 8.  But it was a legal election, and the wrong side won.  It is time for those involved to get to work, pushing for gay marriage, working within the system and persuading voters.  A boycott of an establishment because of one individual’s VOTE is the worst kind of intimidation.  It is against this individual’s free speech.  This individual is not a power broker.  No one should be afraid of voting what they believe, fearing they will lose their job or be blacklisted in an industry.  Going against the Mormon Temple tax-exempt status is one thing, but attacking a religious individual because of his beliefs is Un-American.   You are not going to change this individual’s mind.  Some religious people just believe that marriage shouldn’t be re-defined to include same-sex marriages.  Start persuading others rather than seeking revenge.

I hate to bring this up, but if you don’t know, this month is the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht in Germany.  The tone of this post is strongly influenced by that fact, even though I know it is a bit irrational to connect these threads.  On a single night in 1938, 92 Jews were murdered by the Gestapo and angry mobs, 25,000–30,000 were arrested and deported to concentration camps, 200 synagogues were destroyed, and thousands of Jewish businesses and homes ere ransacked.  I went to a memorial/conference this weekend that was attended by many survivors.   Scary and sad stuff!   But it got me thinking — bad economic times and contentious political activity always make me wary.  People get angry and frustrated, especially with those with differing views.   Is there already this combative feeling in the air?   I doubt our society would ever become as ugly as that of 1930’s Germany, but I hope we all remember the lessons of the past — the importance of seeing the humanity in others, whether it is a Republican or Democrat, a clueless New York copywriter writing Motrin commercials,  a gay man wanting to marry his partner, or a Mormon donating $100 to a stupid cause.

The Yelp of a Woman

I’m online way too much.  Blogging, Twitter, Facebook.  Is it my unsettled situation with Sophia that has caused me to look to a virtual world for connection?

And where is Sophia?   Why have my readers heard so little about her from me during the last few months?   Surely she must be living in up in chic and trendy LA, laughing at this little imaginary world I have created for myself while I sit in my childhood bedroom in Queens.

Well, surprisingly, she has taken the same route.  Welcome Sophia to social media.   No, she is not blogging.   No, she thinks Twitter is a waste of time.  No, she still thinks Facebook is for those with arrested development, poking and superpoking each other like children.

Sophia is too opinionated for such mild activities.  She has found her niche in Yelp:  Real People.  Real Reviews.   Absolutely perfect for her!   (I just hope there isn’t a category where Yelpers can review the sexual performance of their separated spouses)

And yesterday, there she was, her smiling face on the front page of the Los Angeles Yelp portal, with the “Review of the Day,” (or ROTD as Yelpers call it) “as voted by our members.”

Apparently, in Yelp-land, this is a big honor.  In fact, in addition to dozens of “congrats”, Sophia already got some angry message from another yelper who didn’t think it was fair that Sophia should get the “Review of the Day” after only three months of being on Yelp and having barely written 22 reviews, when HE has been on Yelp for four years, has written hundreds of reviews and never received this “ROTD.”

Ha Ha, Welcome to social media, newbie Sophia!

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