Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: January 2009 (page 1 of 2)

I Finally Went Commando

britney

Long-time readers of this blog will tell you that I have a mild obsession with underwear. I have written at least five different posts about bras. I still get comments on a post from 2005 where I ask “Boxers or Briefs?” I even admitted that I once wore Sophia’s panties one a day when I ran out of underwear from not doing the laundry. In each of these posts, I would always get some joker telling me to “go commando.” At first, I didn’t even understand what the phrase meant. It sounded very war-like, and I am a lover, not a fighter.

And then I learned that “going commando” meant not wearing underwear at all.

Now there are many stereotypes about Jewish men.

“They kvetch a lot.”

“They are momma’s boys.”

“The have no idea how to change the oil in their car.”

“They start Ponzi schemes and steal billions of dollars.”

These stereotypes are not all true. I have NEVER started a Ponzi scheme and stolen billions of dollar. Of course, I would like to do that; I just don’t know how! It it sad really. Aren’t Jews supposed to be good with money? That would be so great during these economic times, when I am thinking of monetizing my blog. Today, I called my mother in Boca Raton and asked her if I was adopted, or maybe the love-child of Tony Finaldi in Apartment 3D. I am crappy with money, but I do have an insatiable attraction to pizza, and I would sooo go down on Marisa Tomei. I have loved her for years!

marisa

Sigh. Anyway, the point is that Jewish men… do not go commando. It is written in the Torah.

Last night, my friend Barry called me up.

“Hey, I’m in the neighborhood.” he said. “You want to go look at the 1/2 of Shea Stadium still standing, and then go out?”

“Sure,” I said. “Better than sitting around reading some idiots on Twitter.” (not you, my favorite Twitter follower, the other 1000 people)

Note: by going out with Barry, it means that we would be going to the same diner that we have been going to since junior high, and sitting there for four hours, and talking about nothing important and bragging about my new iphone and showing him Google Earth, and complaining about marriage, and telling him that if I don’t get some pussy soon, I will just melt away into oblivion, which really isn’t that much different from what I was doing on Twitter earlier that evening.

I took a quick shower, and then remembered that I had no clean underwear. I had been wearing my last piece of underwear for two days straight. I had been so busy trying to learn how to use my manual can opener (see previous post), that I had not done the laundry (in three weeks).

“Screw it,” I said. “I’m gonna be as cool as my Gentile blog readers, who seem to have no problem going commando and having their dicks rub against the metalic zipper and being unsanitary when they drip all over their pants after they pee.”

For the first time in my life, on January 30, 2008, I went commando. And, on Shabbos.

I probably should have waited until the spring. Going commando in the freezing New York winter, when it is twenty degrees, is what my mother might say, “what a moron would do.” Especially when I had to wait outside for fifteen minutes, as my friend was late, and the blistering wind and bitter cold flew right under my pants where the precious jewels had no protection to fight off the frigid grasp of winter.

Punishment from God.

If someone finds my penis, which froze like an icicle, and fell off somewhere near the Long Island Expressway, please email me. Thank you.

Why Do You Continue Blogging?

At this point in your blogging “career,” what is your main motivation of keeping it up?

1) Friendship and connection to other like-minded people without having to leave the house to meet smelly “real people.”

2) Literary ambitions. Wanting to gain attention from agents and publishers and magazines and the Huffington Post so you can move to a higher level of friends, and stop reading the poorly-written blogs of most of the people who you used to call your friends.

3) Cheap therapy. You are mildly nuts. You know it, we know it. You might as well exploit it, and tell us all about it. Every day. Because it helps.

4) Blogging bigshot dreams. This is mostly relevant to mommybloggers. You fantasize becoming one of the Walmart 11 Mommybloggers or the Domino Pizza 12 Mommybloggers, so you can feel better than your friends, constantly reminding them about your power, even though you repeatedly say you are doing it all for “them.”

5) Financial Empire building. You want to turn your blog into a business, and hope to get a lot of free stuff from companies. You consider yourself a social media expert, and sell yourself as one. You pose as a blogging maven, telling others how to do it successfully, when basically — in your heart — you know it is mostly writing something with the keyboard and pressing publish, not much different that what we used to call “writing letters.” You have 15,000 friends on Twitter, but don’t know who any of them are. Or you take the opposite approach and follow 3 friends, using the old-fashioned “hard to get” technique so successful in dating. Your blog is basically a business card for your “real” endeavor, which is to take over the world.

6) Hopeless individual. You have no real idea why you are still blogging. It is a time waster, and you make no money doing it. You worry about the bad economy, and it scares you. You have not gotten laid by any of the female bloggers that you make believe that you care about, except for that sole sexy email chat a few months ago that never went anywhere. Married female bloggers don’t even want to give you their phone numbers because of their lame “husbands.” But you keep at it, at least until BlogHer in July. Because you are a dreamer.

12 Second Tour

I know this is sort of dumb, but I did a test of this application 12seconds, which allows you to make a 12 second video, sort of a video Twitter. Since the iphone doesn’t have video capability, the phone app only allows you to take three photos, add a quick video, and then post the mini slide-presentation. Here is a really poorly done 12 second tour of my apartment. I have no idea why I sound like I am lisping. I hope my mother doesn’t see this. The kitchen is a disaster area.


[iPhone] House tour on 12seconds.tv

By the way, long-time blogging friend, Danny, of Jew Eat Yet, and his wife are going to have…. twins.

The Can Opener

Before she retired in October, my mother told me a story about this college summer intern who worked in her office. My mother’s workplace was antiquated, a “real” looking publishing house, like a relic from the 1940’s. In the back room, there was even a old style desk with a typewriter sitting on top, a reminder of days gone by. One day, the nineteen year old intern asked my mother to tell her about this mysterious machine. The girl knew that it was a typewriter, but she wasn’t sure how it worked, or how you inserted the paper.

“Is there a feeder on the bottom?” she asked.

When my mother told me that story, I laughed. What a dummy that girl was! Of course, in this wireless mobile world, I’m sure it was this young woman who was laughing at my mother.

“You mean — if you made a mistake you had to “white it out” with a cartridge?!”

The arrogance of the college kid.

The typewriter is not the only product to become obsolete. Once upon a time, before the invention of the electric can opener, there was a well-known kitchen appliance called the “manual” can opener. If you go to the Smithsonian, you can see a fine example of this early Americana.

Last night, in an attempt to eat a healthier dinner, I decided to make myself a tuna salad. I went into the fridge and took out an assortment of “good for you” items — lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Perfect. Now it was time to reach for the main ingredient — a shiny new can of Bumble Bee Tuna Albacore Fish, packed in water. I carried the can over to electric can opener, and saw this —

canopener1

WTF? Where’s the can opening apparatus? It occurred to me that this was the first time since my mother had gone to Florida that I was attempting to open a can. I called my mother in Boca Raton.

“Where’s the top of the can opener?”

“The top of the can opener? Hello to you, too?”

“Hello, Mom. I’m trying to open a can of tuna fish.”

“A can of tuna fish? Is that your dinner?”

“I’m making a tuna salad.”

“That’s not much of a dinner. Why don’t you buy one of those ready-made chickens at the supermarket?”

“Because today I’m making a tuna fish salad.”

“You should have some soup with too. Did you buy any soup? I’m worried that you’re not eating enough there by yourself.”

“I’m eating fine.”

“You’re not eating in McDonald’s every day, are you?”

“No, I just go there for coffee.”

“Too much coffee is not good either.”

“Anyway, I want to open this can of tuna fish.”

“You should open a can of soup, too.”

“OK, I will. So, now, with the soup, the situation has intensified. I have two cans to open. But your can opener is missing the top.”

“I thought the can opener is just one piece? It has a top?”

“The attachment thing! With the magnet that latches on the metal.”

“Oh, yeah. I don’t know. It’s not there?”

I looked and looked, and couldn’t find the attachment.

“Use the manual can opener that’s in the drawer” she finally said.

I let my mother return to her mah jongg game with her friends, and found the manual can opener. This is it —

canopener3

canopener2

Can you believe that it took me fifteen minutes to open this can of tuna fish? It’s not like I have never used a manual can opener before, or that I am one of those guys that doesn’t know how to open up a can of food. Maybe I have owned an electric can opener for so long now, I forgot how to use the manual one! For the life of me, I could not decipher where the can went in relation to the opener. On the side? Under? To the right? To the left?

I felt like the intern at my mother’s office who didn’t know how to use a typewriter. I felt dumb. But then I thought about it, trying to put a positive spin on my experience. Perhaps this proves that I am younger in spirit, like I am in college again, with an attitude of condescension towards this primitive tool. Who needs to know how to use this thing? The future is now. No going back! I bet you that if I search on iTunes, I could have found an iphone app that could open up that can of tuna fish wirelessly!

My Relationships with Mommybloggers Can Make Me Sad

(via IM)

Neil: “I figured out how to put photos in the contacts into the iphone. There is an app that transfers all the photos from Facebook.”

Mommyblogger: “Cool.”

Neil: “Now if you ever call me on the phone, your face will fill the screen and I’ll know not to avoid the call, like I sometimes do when my mother calls.”

Mommyblogger: “Aww, I bet you take all of your mother’s calls.”

Neil: “I want to add your number. What’s your number?”

Mommyblogger: “What do you want my number for?”

Neil: “I can call you some time. Free minutes after nine!”

Mommyblogger: “I’m not sure my husband would want you to call me.”

Neil: “Are you serious? I IM with you all the time!”

Mommyblogger: “That’s different. IM-ing and email are not real. Calling on the phone is real.”

I Am Not a Medicine Cabinet Snoop

medicine

I was going through my usual Sunday blog reading, which has pretty much replaced my former reading of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and one of the main reasons my IQ has been falling steadily, when I came across this interesting meme on Three Boys, One Mommy!, which happens to be the least-likely named blog for anything I could imagine myself reading six months ago. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to really DO this meme. I will ignore it, much like I do most memes; it just intrigued me. In this new meme, you are supposed to take a photo of the inside your medicine cabinet, because as the blogger herself writes, “Open door or not, I always snoop in medicine cabinets and I fully expect my guests to peek.”

Very interesting. I’m a very nosy guy, and I love to snoop around people’s private stuff. If I am in your home, I will take note of your furniture, your books, and your preferred brands of breakfast cereal. I love to look into the bedrooms of other people. Is it overly-neat? Is it romantic? What does this room tell me about the sexual perversities of this person or this couple? Are any of the walls painted red? When I visit your home, my mind will be all over the place, wondering about your interior life and trying to know the “real” you? I know you try to cheat, and manipulate your guest by displaying a copy of “Architectural Digest” on the coffee table, but what magazines do you have in the bathroom? That tells me what you REALLY read. Hmmm… Reader’s Digest, with a bookmark at “America’s Favorite Unfunny and G-rated Jokes!” That is the real you.

But there is one part of your secretive life that is safe from my prying — your medicine cabinet. I have NEVER looked into anyone’s medicine cabinet? Honestly. Why would I want to? Assuming that Three Boys, One Mommy is not a drug addict, and that her interest in medicine cabinets is the norm, WHY do people look into medicine cabinets? I cannot come up with a good reason. Is it a girly thing, so you can see what cosmetic brands are used? Are you searching for condoms? Do you want to make sure I use deodorant? Are you one of the Walmart Mommybloggers doing marketing research as part of your job? Are you worried that the host might be a psychopath and before you eat their roast beef dinner that they cooked, you are double-checking that they aren’t on some serious type of drug for mental illness?

As usual, I come late to the latest trend, much like I did with the iphone. When you come to my home, are you LOOKING into my medicine cabinet? What are you looking for? Are you judging me on my brand of razor blades? I’m not even sure what is in my medicine cabinet. I need to go look after I write this up. What does that say about me? I’m just telling you — next time I am in your home, I am taking a photo of the inside of your medicine cabinet with my iphone and sending it to Facebook.

Blogging Updates

One of the dangers of being an innovator like myself, is that, after your idea is realized, some jerk like Thomas Edison comes along, steals the idea of the light bulb and throws his name on it. Did you know that in 1608, the Dutch inventor Hans Lippershey completed the first telescope, but he was denied a patent for it. The next year, Galileo read about it and built his own telescope. Guess which which of these two men became immortalized in movies, plays, and books, got a mention in a bombastic Queen song, and had his name used for a NASA mission to Jupiter? Was it the genius or the sleazy crook? Galileo, that jackass.

A few years back, I was like Hans Lippershey. Inspiration hit me like a diet Snapple bottle thrown from the second floor terrace of a New York City apartment building. I had an idea. Rather than just having a boring ol’ blogroll, I would create a “Blog Crush of the Day.” Every day I would add a new, amazingly talented blogger to the list, and at the end of the year, I would delete the list and start from scratch. As you may have noticed, when 2009 arrived, I started again from an empty slate, erasing everyone from memory, much like we are trying to do with the Bush Administration.

But what was once a brilliant idea is now stale. I’ve seen dozens of bloggers — even some of you — with “Blog Crushes of the Day.” What was once fresh, is now as out-of-step with the world as General Motors.

But if there is one concept that I have learned from reading all the boring social media experts on Twitter, it is that we must always innovate, always be one step ahead of the pack, especially in the online world of professional blogging. Remember when AOL was the big man on the internet campus? Remember Friendster? Remember when we used Internet Explorer rather than Firefox? Times have changed, especially in blogging. How can a little personal blogger like myself ever compete in a world where bloggers are giving away Wii-fits, Disney cruises, and throw glamorous Obama inauguration parties featuring free Quaker Oatmeal? My measly “Blog Crush of the Day” cannot compete in such a marketplace.

It’s the same feeling I get as I write this screenplay. Modern audiences don’t just want witty dialogue and realistic characters. They want MORE. They need punching, fruit stands getting knocked over, and wild sex in hot tubs!

I need to raise the stakes of my “Blog Crush of the Day,” to make it something so compelling, that receiving this honor will make your day, even make it one of the greatest days of your life, after marriage, birth of first child, and that really good one-night stand you once had in that Miami hotel.

A simple “Blog Crush of the Day” written in my sidebar will not just cut it. That is why, from now on, each “Blog Crush of the Day” will not only receive a simple mention on my blog. They will also receive a PERSONALIZED “Blog Crush” greeting in my REAL VOICE in an AUDIO EMAIL send to their email account, via my new iPhone! Imagine waking up in the morning, before your daily coffee, your eyesight blurry, your hair a mess, cursing the day ahead of you. You turn on your computer to read your email, almost in fear of some bad news, like your company going bankrupt, or facing a multitude of spam messages all wanting to help you grow a bigger penis, but instead you see this unusual message:

From Neil at Citizen of the Month, an audio note!

“What can it be?” you ask yourself. “Can it be…? Can it really be…?”

Yes, it is. You will hear my lovable New York accent, and suddenly, the rays of the sun will peer through the venetian blinds, a little bird will sing to you from outside the window, and LIFE will be GOOD again! You will be the “Blog Crush of the Day.”

More Blogging News:

1) The Great Interview Experiment is now officially a year old. I apologize for being lax with it. It will soon be revived on its own website.

2) I’m going to try to respond more to your comments and email you back, so I will be a better citizen of the blogosphere.

What Should President Obama Mean to Me?

When I returned to NY last, I watched the inauguration on CNN. It was so historical! However as I went to sleep, I had conflicting thoughts about the day. I felt pride for the country, but I felt myself rebelling against one of the primary messages that makes Obama such a special president — his Kennedyesque vision of civic and community responsibility. If anything, it took eight years of the Bush administration to finally work its way into my consciousness. By 2009, I am completely ready to throw myself into the world of selfishness and me-first-ism. I want to be more successful, wealthier, and happier, with more sex. Why shouldn’t I be more selfish and self-absorbed? It’s my time. How do I integrate this new administration with my new commitment to selfishness?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve already started on my road to me-first. I just registered for BlogHer. Good move. I can win more attention for myself and my blog. I bought an iPhone so I can keep up with the cool kids. If I want to date again, I need to make more money. Who wants to date someone poor? The bad economy has made me worry about money and career more than any time in my life. Who has the time or energy to care about the downtrodden?!

I have been inspired by many of your wonderful posts about Obama’s election, so much so that I am authentically worried about writing this kvetchy, neurotic post.

“What is wrong with this guy?” I can hear you saying. “Can’t he just be happy with Obama’s inauguration? Why does our celebration have to be so quickly turned into self-doubt, ruining the mood?”

It’s not that I am not thrilled about this change, but I tend to be introspective and worried about historical events, and my words do not come flowing out. I’m also less of an inspirational speaker than a kvetcher, trying to figure out the “meaning” of the event.

I am in a transition point in my own life, and it is ironic that at the exact time we move from the Bush years to the Obama years, I am thinking about embracing selfishness. Am I taking a wrong turn at the wrong historical moment? I am seriously approaching this new administration in a very personal way. What should I do differently during this new era of American politics?

Having a young, African-American president is terrific for the country, but it doesn’t transform me into a new person. I had no issues with voting for a black man. Maybe “America” did, and the country now shows maturity. But I am a personal blogger, and I am much more interested in talking about “I” and “you” rather than “We” or “America.” The questions that are on my mind are of a personal nature:

How did the eight years of the Bush Administration affect me? How did I benefit from it? How did the culture that grew out of those years make me who I am today? It is bullshit to say that I wasn’t part of this Bush-era culture. We all were. We had no choice. The blogosphere grew up under this culture. All the obsessions of A-listers and B-listers, and monetizing your blog are modeled after the high-rolling laissez faire attitudes of the economic and international policies during the Bush years.

Obama is “inspiring,” but what exactly is he inspiring ME to do? Should I volunteer more? Should I think less about myself and more of others? Does this mean I shouldn’t put up advertising on my blog? Should I donate it to charity? Should I try to date more African-American women? What does an Obama presidency mean to me?

Have you been inspired to make any changes in your life?

New Administration

Department of Defense

I am back in New York.

Secretary of State

I will be attending Blogher in July.

Press Secretary

I bought an iPhone.

Department of Treasury

I will be focusing on making more money.

Department of Interior

I will start dating, so hopefully soon I will be naked in bed, getting unlimited access to an attractive woman’s department of interior.

Oh, yeah, I’m happy about President Obama, too.

Very Vague Dispatch from L.A. – #7

On the flight from New York, I sat next to a pretty brunette. She had the window seat. She was around thirty years old. I’m not sure she would be every guy’s type, but I found her attractive. She wore glasses and a long black shirt, perhaps out of insecurity, wanting to hide her size 14 body. I nodded to her as I took my seat, just to be pleasant. She was reading a book of essays by David Forster Wallace. I was reading a book of short stories by Deborah Eisenberg. We did not speak for the first four hours of the flight.

As we were flying somewhere over Arizona, she took off her seat belt, turned to me and said, “Excuse me…,” indicating that she wanted to go to the bathroom. I stood in the narrow aisle while she was gone. It felt good to stretch. There isn’t much room for my long legs in the coach section of the plane, and the jerk sitting in front of my insisted on leaning his seat back as far as it could go.

After the brunette returned, I sat down again and opened my book. She spoke to me first.

“Is that a good book?” she asked.

“Really good,” I said. “Terrific short stories.”

I glanced over at her book, trying to figure out something clever to say.

“It is sad about his death,” referring to the author’s suicide in September, even though I had actually never read anything that he had written, including his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which Time magazine listed in its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels list.

“Yeah, really sad.” she said. “Do you remember how he killed himself.”

“No,” I replied. “But whatever he did, it worked.”

I took a chance with that insensitive joke.

A half hour later, we were reading our books, biding the time. My arm leaned on the armrest between our two chairs. She unconsciously guided her arm to the same spot. Our arms butted against each other. Normally, when this happens, I quickly cave in, conceding my territory. This happens all the time in crowded movie theaters. But I did not waver this time, testing her. I would let HER be the one who submits. I did this out assertiveness, but soon my intentions changed. I was impressed that she did not flinch. We were wooing each other, like two lions doing a mating dance. Was I going to be a gentle soul and let her be comfortable on the armrest, or was I to be a selfish animal, relentless? I did not care about propriety. I was thousands of feet in the air, flying through space, in a unworldly arena where the moral codes of the Bible held little meaning. I kept my arm where it belonged, on the armrest, letting her feel the heat of my increasingly-rapid blood flowing against her softness. And I think she liked it. A lot. For the next thirty minutes, our bodies touched, arm against arm.

The next, and the last, time we spoke was when we exited the plane at Gate 8 at LAX. It was a beautiful LA day outside, clearly visible outside the huge windows in the American Airlines terminal. I was still wearing my winter coat from NY.

“Take care,” I said to her.

And then she disappeared into the crowd.

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