the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Pop Culture (Page 1 of 2)

Which Levi’s Jeans Makes My Ass Look the Best?


For the last few months, there have been these YouTube advertisements plastered all over the subway platforms, in the subway cars, and even on the subways themselves. They showcase a group of girls who look no more than fifteen years old, and have six million followers each.  I’ve never heard of any of them. Bethany Mota? Michelle Phan? Clearly I’m not in the right demographic.  One aspect that I did notice is that they are “fashion and lifestyle” bloggers.

“I’m doing it wrong,” I tell myself each time I board it a train and see one of these ads. “Why didn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?”

One morning, not too long ago, as a mariachi band was playing in my subway car, I had a revelation.

“Why couldn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?” I asked the guitarist wearing the sombrero.  “There are so few middle-aged male fashion and lifestyle bloggers giving advice to other men! The field is completely wide open!”

And that’s how this this post came into existence.  Well, actually, there were two more steps before I get to the post.

First has to do with my dating life.  Or rather it’s lack of existence.  Last week, I was talking to a friend, a recently divorced woman who had already gone on a few dates and was pushing me to join an online service.

Seeking good advice, and trying to change the subject,   I said, “Tell me, and be honest, as a friend. What do women most look for in a man?  Is it his career achievements, his sense of humor, or his intelligence?”

She laughed, saying, “The number one attribute that women look for in a man is — how good his ass looks in a pair of jeans.”

This totally blew my mind.   And then I promptly forgot about the conversation.

This morning, around 10AM, my mother asked if I wanted to go shopping with her at the Macy’s on Queens Boulevard. She received a “Friends and Family 25% coupon” in the mail and she was always up for a bargain.  I hate shopping for clothes, but I agreed, mostly for selfish reasons. Near this Macy’s is a diner that makes a good Reuben sandwich, and there is also a Best Buy across the street, and I wanted to play with the new Samsung phone.

By noon, we were in the department store.

My mother said, “I want to check out some bras,” and I knew this was my cue to go check out the men’s department.

“You know what,” I said. “I could use a new pair of jeans. I’ll meet you back here in a half hour.”

So I went to the men’s department, which is always the crappiest section in every department store, located on the dark and dingy lower level next to the appliances.

I passed by the fancy designer jeans and went straight for the Levi’s against the far wall.   I’m a Levi’s guy.   I mean, other than two brief moments of weakness in my life where I bought other brands of jeans (one was Wrangler in fifth grade and the other was a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt men’s jeans that I would rather not discuss),  I have worn Levi’s all my life. More specifically, I have worn Levi’s 501 jeans since junior high school, never deviating, never changing.

But something changed when I accidentally bumped into this sign.


I had a number of thoughts.

1) Therapy.   Why do I always wear the same style of 501 jeans?   Could my unwavering choice of jeans be symbolic of a lifelong rut,  the equivalent of only eating Cheerios your whole life, or never leaving your house?  Do I need to change up my style of Levi’s jeans in order to change up my life?

2) Dating.  If my ass in jeans was going to be the dealbreaker in any relationship with a woman, I needed as much help as possible.  I wasn’t born with the genes for jeans.   You see, that was clever.   Clever people never have good asses.

3) Commerce.   What if I tried every single style Levi’s jean, making note of which jeans made my ass look the best, and then wrote about it in my first “fashion and lifestyle” post for middle-aged men, inspiring a whole generation to look to me as their sartorial guru?Who knows — by next year, I could be in a YouTube advertisement on the E-train, next to the fifteen year old YouTube stars?

So, that’s how this post was born.  I went into the dressing room, sneaking in every different pair of numbered Levi’s jeans as I could find in the stacks of jeans, dressing and undressing and taking photos under the worst lighting ever known to man , and probably making the men in the others stalls wondering what the hell I was doing in there with all the shuffling and clicking of the camera.

OK, men — so here is what I learned about the various Levi’s Jeans.   Just be advised that your ass might be different than mine.

First up was my old favorite — a pair of 501 jeans.


It was important to first try on a new pair of 501 jeans as a “control” subject on which to compare and contrast the other styles.  Every since I entered my first science fair back in the day, I’ve always been very determined to follow the correct scientific approach.

The 501 has an “iconic straight fit,” but as you can see from the photo, it does very little for my ass, and the material by my thigh hangs like the drapes in a summer house.


I don’t want to badmouth the 501. It is a sturdy, honest choice. And it is the only style of Levi’s jeans with the “signature button fly.”  Sadly, what I once found very cool, hip, and special, I now just see as something that requires extra work when I need to pee.

No to 501. It’s time to move on. Sorry, old friend.

The 505 “Regular Fit” fit pretty good, and didn’t feel much different than the 501s.  Like twin brothers.   The boring twin brother who became the accountant.


Described as a “classic, stylish and comfortable straight leg for all occasions,” it felt as generic as the description.  No one ever gets laid wearing the 505s.

No to 505.

The 517 “Bootcut” was the only authentic boot cut that the Macy’s had in Queens, maybe because very few people in Queens ever ride their horses over the Queensborough Bridge to go to Manhattan for brunch.


Everything just felt wrong with these jeans. They were too long, and too high, and too much room in the seat. And do cowboys really need so much extra room in the groin area? Maybe now I understand why so many of my female friends have moved to Austin. Unless I was going to attend one of those “City Slickers” dude ranches over the summer, I would feel like a idiot walking around the city in these jeans.

No to 517.

Not unsurprisingly, this particular Macy’s on Queens Boulevard sold every available type of  Levi’s”relaxed fit” style, which I think was a not so subtle way of Macy’s executives telling us that, “You are the Borough of Fat People.”

First up was the 550 “Relaxed,” which is described as “a classic laid-back fit” — and by “laid-back” I think they mean, “jeans for those who used to go to Grateful Dead concerts.”


These jeans didn’t enhance my ass AT ALL. In fact, it made it my rear end look even less impressive than it does in real life. This is a jeans for sitting — for an outdoor music festival, for smoking pot with your baby boomer friends, for watching an entire season of Orange is the New Black.

These are not the jeans to enhance your ass.

No to 550.

The 559 “Relaxed Straight” was even worse.


These were the worst possible jeans for my build, and the extra room in the rear made it look like I was wearing a pair of adult diapers under my jeans. Not sexy at all.

No to 559.

The 560 “Comfort Fit” continued the slide into denim atrociousness and I imagined old Levi Strauss himself turning in his grave at the thought of his name on these pants.


The 560 is roomy in the seat and thigh, but the waist is so high that I could have lifted these pants over my head WHILE still wearing them.

No to 560.

The 569 “Loose Straight Cut” is what I affectionately called “the gangster jeans.” The fact that these pants were the biggest seller in this Macy’s says a lot about the citizens in my neighborhood, and why no one in Manhattan ever wants to come visit me in Queens.


I always see young guys on the bus from Flushing wearing these jeans, halfway down their ass, and I never understood how they kept the pants from just falling down around their ankles. Now I know the truth. They don’t keep it up. After taking this photo, the pants fell around my ankles.

No to 569. I don’t want to show that much of my ass.

The 510 “Skinny” jeans gets a lot of press because all the young hipsters wear these in Brooklyn.  I was pretty skeptical about them until I put them on, and you know what – I thought they looked pretty good.


Hey, I’m not bragging or anything that I still have “the right stuff.” And sure, I suppose I was a little narcissistic when I climbed on top of the seat, took off my shirt and imagined myself as Mick Jagger singing “Brown Sugar” to the mirror.

And then I sat down.  And the jeans smashed my balls into what could only be described as a vise hold, in what seemed to be a punishment for that #NotAllMen joke I made on Twitter a few weeks ago.

No to 510.

One by one, I compared the jeans.   I was in the dressing room for so long that I forgot about the time. An hour had passed, and my poor mother was wandering around Macy’s looking for me, and freaking out. And then came the announcement, said to the entire Macy’s over the loudspeaker system interrupting the music, “Will customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. Customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. You mother is looking for you.”

So, I never did try all the styles.  I felt bad for mother, and I was hungry for that Reuben.

So, now is the big reveal.   Did I find my Holy Grail of Levi’s Jeans?

And the answer is yes.   The winner was clearly the 513.

The 513 is the “Slim Straight.”  It gives you a bit of the snugness of the skinny jeans, but lets you keep your testicles for future reference.  It is comfortable like the 501, just not as baggy.


Look at my ass.  Have you ever seen it looking any better?

I know this post was probably long-winded, something that Bethany Mota or Michelle Phan or any of those fifteen year old superstars would never do in any of their YouTube fashion videos, but remember — this is only my first lifestyle post, so I’m still learning.

My Night with Jenny

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a friend and talented writing colleague achieve her dreams, and being there at her side when it happens.   Such was the case on Thursday when Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson came to Beverly Hills for an exclusive reading of her new book “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened.”

I was thrilled to receive a VIP invitation to the event.   Sure, it cost me twenty dollars in cash, I had to wait in a long line, and they lost my reservation when I reached the booth, but boy was it worth it.  Jenny was glowing on stage. And she is funny as hell, whether talking about her unusual upbringing in Texas or her time hiding in the bathroom at BlogHer during an anxiety attack.

As I watched Jenny trade barbs with the hostess, Soleil Moon Frey of Punky Brewster fame, I mused on the fact that despite her new friendships with Hollywood lumanaries and best-selling authors, from Wil Wheaton to Neil Gaiman, Jenny was still ol “Jenny from the block,” that is if they call sections of the street blocks in Texas like they do in New York. Jenny was dressed comfortable, reflecting her modest background, in her black Louis Vuitton dress and “F**k me” eight inch heels that she bought hours earlier on nearby Rodeo Drive.  She hadn’t changed a bit!

The venue was packed with fans and for some, seeing Jenny in the flesh was akin to a meeting with the Pope himself (if the Pope spoke about vaginas a lot, which surprisingly he does).

Everyone in the audience was grasping a copy of Jenny’s newly released memoir, a best-seller, a project ten years in the making, a life dream!   I was the only one without a book.  I told the others sitting in the front row with me that the book was on my Kindle Fire, which was a lie, since I don’t even own a Kindle, but I was afraid of the consequences if I told the truth — that I had no intention of ever reading her book.   After all, I just spent twenty bucks to get into this theater.

Besides, my main motivation for going to the event was to hopefully get laid by some of Jenny’s anxious fans, and saying I wasn’t going to read the book would have been like saying I’m a premature ejaculator — never good to say up front.

But I had a plan.   I would tell some of the women that Jenny recently said in an interview  that “Neil’s blog is 100x better than mine,” which of course, she never said, but then again I doubt every line in HER book is completely accurate.  James Frey, Jenny?  Is it a coincidence that Soleil Moon FREY, possibly a close relative of James himself,  was the moderator?  The shadow of Frey is hanging over you.

But, seriously folks, my friendship with Jenny goes back a long time.  I’ll never forget the special moment we had last year at BlogHer.

From My BlogHer 11 Recap

“I pass by “The Bloggess,” one of the funniest women online. She is sitting on a bench, her suitcase standing in front of her. I seem a whole lot more excited to see her, than vice versa.

“Hey, it’s Jenny, the famous Bloggess!”

“Uh, hello, Neil.”

I point at the suitcase.

“Where you going?”

“I’m going home early. I’m exhausted after the People’s Party.”

“I can imagine. Hey, when is the book coming out? I’m so excited.”

“I’m not sure yet.”

“Why don’t you sent me an advanced copy? I’d love to read it.”

Jenny pauses for a moment.

“My publisher decided not to send out advanced copies,” she says.

“You mean when the book comes out, you want me to BUY the book? It’s going to be like $25 dollars in stores!”

“That’s how much books cost, Neil.”

“C’mon, Jenny. Surely your old blogging friends will get a reader’s copy in the mail.”

“No, sorry.”

“Not even Laura?”

“Well, Laura read it already. But she’s more of a real friend than a blogging friend.”

“What is this shit? I’m not going to pay $25 bucks on your book when I can read your blog for free.”

“The book is going to be very different than the blog. It is about my real life.”

“I see. So the plan was to put your shitty superficial material online, and then force us to buy your f*cking book?”

“Well, I do have a family to feed.”

“You’ve changed, Jenny. You come off as a sweet cutesy Texan mom, but you are a fucking shark. I bet William Shatner was part of your marketing plan all along.”

You know, f*ck you , little man. I could destroy you in a second with my Twitter followers.

“Suck my c*ck, Jenny.”

“Yeah, I already saw your tiny c*ck in that photo you sent me last year. Don’t make me laugh. Be happy I didn’t put it on Flickr.”

“Go to hell.”

Ha Ha.  Now you know why I go to blog conferences.  It is one of the rare times that you can sit down with your online friends and get to know them on an intimate level.

Jenny is famed both for her sense of humor AND her heart. One of her most profound and beautiful posts started a entire movement called “The Travelling Red Dress.”

I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies.  I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be.  And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”.  Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better.  Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it.

After reading the post, I thought it would be funny to mock this inspirational movement that was helping so many women achieve self-acceptance.

Jenny blocked me on Twitter that day. So, the joke was on me!

But that’s how old friends behave — each trying to outdo the other with practical jokes!  I love you, Jenny. It’s time to unblock me!

The line for the book signing after the reading snaked through the lobby and back into the theater. Most of her fans were glad to wait for a moment with their heroine, but I figured that Jenny would want to see me first.  I arrived at the signing table just as Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, was getting HER book signed.  It was so cool to learn that this super-successful author asking for Jenny’s signature.  But as they say in Texas, blood is thicker than cow piss, so I cut in front of the line AND Stephanie Meyer, my Iphone raised.

“Jenny, hey there sexy, let me take a photo of you for Instagram and put it on Twitter, too, so I can show everyone that we are friends!”

“We’re not really, friends, Neil,” she said, and two burly Filipino men, both former wrestlers, escorted me out of the building.  I later discovered that these men were hired to be Jenny’s personal bodyguards during her book tour.

She’s such a joker!

Several of my blogging friends were at the event, but since so few of them talked to me, I figured it was because they didn’t recognize me.   I decided to grow a beard this week!

Taking a page from Jenny’s book, I used my beard-growing to create a viral internet phenom, much like Jenny did with Beyonce the metal chicken. I took an instagram photo of my white scraggly beard and shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

“Yay or Nay,” I asked.

It was unanimous. I should keep the beard.  (Believe me, it doesn’t look as good as it does when I hide it under three Instagram filters)

“You are sexy as hell.” said one mommyblogger.

I was instantly the blogosphere’s George Clooney.

I had created a social media trend — my Yasir Arafat-looking beard  — that made everyone forget Jenny and her best-selling book.

Later that night, I presented a new question for all my good friends on Twitter and Facebook.

“Jump off the Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can survive the fall — Yay or Nay?”

The mob overwhemingly voted yay.

Social media sucks.

Congrats, Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson!   You are an inspiration.  Sometimes.

HBO’s Girls: Black and White in the Media

There are quite a few articles today about a controversy revolving around the new Lena Dunham- created HBO show, Girls, and the lack of diversity in the cast, particular with African-American characters.  One of the reasons for the outcry over this show rather than the countless other all-white shows is that critics have been wetting their pants over the show, calling it the VOICE of the twenty-something generation of women.

Whenever something is crowned “the voice of a generation,” those who don’t fit into the demographic always feel left out.  We should retire that expression.

From Kendra James at Racialicious:

“If Lena Dunham and I come from similar educational backgrounds, honed our writing and narrative skills at the same school (and likely with some of the same professors), and grew up spending time in the same city (she’s from Tribeca, and I was a bridge-and-tunnel kid from a nice New Jersey suburb about 30 minutes away), then how could we conceive such radically different images of New York City? Why would I feel so ill-at-ease with her critics essentially declaring her as my voice?”

Ta-Nehisi Coates from the Atlantic, focuses less on the individual artist than those who run the media.

“There has been a lot of talk, this week about Lena Dunham’s responsibility, but significantly less about the the people who sign her checks. My question is not “Why are there no black women on Girls,” but “How many black show-runners are employed by HBO?” This is about systemic change, not individual attacks.

It is not so wrong to craft an exclusively white world–certainly a significant portion of America lives in one. What is wrong is for power-brokers to pretend that no other worlds exists. Across the country there are black writers and black directors toiling to bring those worlds to the screen. If HBO does not see fit to have a relationship with those writers, then those of us concerned should assess our relationship with HBO.”

I don’t write much about my own experiences in “Hollywood,” but I have pitched shows to executives at NBC, and worked at HBO at one time. I’m also originally from Queens, New York, which for my money has the largest percentage of citizens of different races, languages, and eccentric human beings in the country, and many of my idea stem from my childhood there.

It wasn’t until I visited my uncle in New Jersey when I was ten years old that realized that the majority of the world — and the power structure — was filled with white people. Remember the book, “The Preppy Handbook?” It was like reading a book about Chinese pottery; the concepts were totally foreign to me.   My move to Manhattan from Queens was more of a culture shock than when I moved from New York to Los Angeles.   On Easter weekend during my Freshman year, I went home with my roommate Tom to his family estate in Massachusetts, where he OWNED HORSES!

“What do you do with them?” I asked.

“We ride them!”

You can take the boy out of Queens, but you can’t…   I never got half of the jokes in “Stuff White People Like.”

Years later, I found myself pitching a sitcom idea to a Disney executive, an arrogant young guy who got the job because his father was a producer. He was playing mini-golf on his carpet as I nervously told him my brilliant story that I wrote in the shower that morning.

One of the plot points revolved around a son’s relationship with his father. The son’s mother had died and his father quickly remarried — one of his mother’s friends! The son was mad at the father for doing this, and didn’t get along with the step-mother until the final act.

At the end of pitch, the executive hit one more putt.

“The biggest problem with the story… is the new wife,” he said.

I was surprised to hear this. I had expected him to criticize the son or the father.

“The new wife is a black woman, right?” he asked.

It was a detail I hardly noticed when I pitched it. I was basing the story on a real-life situation of someone I knew from Queens. The father remarried a nurse who lived in the same apartment building.   She was a black woman.

“What’s the problem with her being black?” I asked.

“The audience will think that the son hates the new wife because she is black, and no one will like the main character.”

“Oh, no no no. He doesn’t hate her because she is black.  It is because his father is getting remarried so soon after his mother’s death!  The new wife’s color is irrelevant to the story.”

“Yes, but the audience will read it that way. So, let’s just make her white.”

“I see.  OK, let’s make her white.”

Was I acting racist by changing my black character to a white character?  Probably not. Just wimpy. Nothing ever happened with the script anyway.

Was the executive racist for asking me to change the race of the character?

I don’t think he was racist either.   In fact, there was a big plaque on the wall announcing that he was a big shot in the “Young Hollwyood Democratic Club for Change.”

The big issue was FEAR.  No one wants to touch issues of race because no one wants to be called a racist.

I’m not suggesting that it is good to be politically incorrect, but fear is never a healthy motivation.  And fear runs Hollywood, especially this unwritten law that blacks should only write about black people and whites about white people. It’s as if the media images are more segregated than America in 2012!   Sure, we need diversity in the boardrooms and our writing staffs, but we also need more diversity in our brains.

As a blogger, I sometimes feel that the political correctness of my friends is punishing me for growing up in Queens.  My world is diverse.  If I ever write a memoir, my childhood will all be about blacks and whites and Latinos and Asians learning to live together, not always perfectly.  About public school.   If I don’t write about this diversity, I would not be authentic. But I have also been criticized in the past, as if my white male “privilege” prohibits me from writing about anything other than white maleness.

One of my best — and funniest blog posts — was one that I only showed to a few of you, and was told not to publish it.

The tale found me taking the wrong bus home in Queens, the only white guy en route to Jamaica, Queens, a heavily African-American section of the borough.  During the ride, a bunch of rowdy kids in the back of the bus started an obnoxious game called “Tag the N****r,” where one kid tagged another by touching his shoulder, and he was forced to box the other until he cried uncle. There was real punching in these fights, and bloody noses. As the combatants scufffled violently, “Tag the N****r!” was shouted by the other kids.

The older passengers were disgusted, particularly at the use of language.  There was chaos, and the bus driver eventually kicked all the kids off the bus.  But according to some obscure MTA rule, the bus driver had to wait for a dispatcher to sign a document before the bus could continue on.   As we waited in the hot bus with no air-condition, another bus showed up, a fancy new one.  All of the teenagers climbed aboard the new bus, flashing their school passes, and took off to cause trouble elsewhere.   We were stuck there — all of the law-abiding citizens — for another forty minutes.

“You can’t post this,” said one blogger via email. “It’s not YOUR story to tell. It is one about the African-American experience.”

“But I was there!”

“Yes, but you were only a visitor.”

“Huh?  But I was there!  Why is this about the African-American experience?  And why am I visitor?  I live here too.”

“You don’t see your own privilege,” she said.

Good people could not see beyond the black-white schism, when in my view, the opposing forces in the story were old vs. young.  I had more in common with the older African-Americans sitting in the bus, minding their own business, remembering the civil rights movement than the teenagers.   I did not feel as if anyone singled me out as “the white guy.”  Most of the passengers were angry at the obnoxious teens.

“I have an idea,” said another friend. “Don’t mention ANYONE’S color in the story at all, so then there isn’t an issue of you seeming racist.”

I found her color-blind story suggestion interesting, but bizarre.  Race was not essential to the sitcom story about the father marrying his mother’s black friend, but in this case, the racial content MADE the story a story.  This would be a very different scenario if it were white teenagers playing “Tag the N****r.”

I’m fascinated by the current discussion over this HBO show.   I’m all for diversity — including in the blogosphere!  But I think the biggest obstacle is not the media, but our own discomfort talking about our similarities and differences in non-controversial, but real ways.

The Accidental Viewing of the Gay Porn

This was my Facebook status update this morning —

“I will participate in the “Shop-In” on Sunday, February 12 and stand up to the idiotic, homophobic One Million Moms by going to my nearest lesbian bar and… oh, wait, I mean shopping at my nearest JCPenney to thank them for retaining Ellen as their spokeswoman.”

It was only later that I realized that I just committed myself to shopping at… JCPenney. OMG!  I called a gay friend who was aghast at even the prospect of walking into a JCPenney.

That’s when I started worrying. If you know me, you know that I worry.  Was my status update an authentic one?  Did I really intend to shop at JCPenney this weekend?  Or was I just joining the social media bandwagon?

I am a liberal who believes in social justice. Or at least that is my self-identity.  But who was I speaking to when I wrote that update?  Who was I trying to persuade?  Certainly not the 99.9% friends online who believe exactly the same as I do.  Is it possible that my update was self-promotional?

Does my motivation really matter?  If companies see us supporting Ellen, we defang the stupid One Million Moms.   My motivation is irrelevant.   Social media is about influence.

Social media. I am getting bored with it.

“Social” is not writing.   Writing is solitary.  Writing is digging deeper to find an inner truth. Social media is the enemy of alone.

When I sit down in front of my screen, I don’t need to prove my political beliefs to myself.  I frequently start with the question, “OK, what is wrong with me today?”  I want to take a journey within, not persuade you to act or do something.

Many of us want to take this inner journey, but are afraid of the reaction of others.  We might discover a version of ourselves that doesn’t belong on a Facebook status update.

A few weeks ago, I was searching for a video.  OK, so it was a video of some actress in a sex scene that I read about on a movie blog.

By accident, I clicked on the wrong link.  I found myself watching two men shtupping each other in a scene from a gay porn film.  I closed the browser so fast that I almost knocked my laptop onto the floor.   Watching the scene made me uncomfortable.  I do not want to see two men shtupping.  Two women shtupping: hot.   Two men shtupping: uncomfortable.

I am a good-hearted, pro-gay, equal-rights liberal who has real-life gay friends who have seen me naked (that’s another story).   But I was afraid of gay porn.   Why?   Was I afraid that I would secretly like it?   Was I concerned that I would suddenly be transformed and have the urge to change the drapery?   And what if this page accidently re-opened while I was sitting in Starbucks, and everyone looks over at me as hunky male porn actor on my laptop actor screams, “F*ck me, Joseph!”?   Would I be embarrassed?   Would I be slightly less embarrassed if it was a hot babe screaming the same thing?

Do gay men have trouble watching regular porn?   Do I need to force myself to watch several hours of gay porn in order to prove to myself that I authentically believe in gay marriage?

Of course, these worries are neurotic.   Hey, it is my brand!   And I can easily convince myself that I am still a good person.  After all, I am a straight man.  Why should I care about gay porn?  And unlike the Million Moms, I believe there is nothing wrong with two men shtupping.   You can enjoy your brand of chamomile tea; I will enjoy mine.

WTF is this post about?

I am writing about writing.   And how easy it was to write a status update about a well-liked celebrity.  Social media is about joining the mob.  Writing is about neurotic musings on gay porn.

Sure, this post is ridiculous.  Again, it is my brand!  But so much of what we talk about on Facebook and Twitter is downright fake.   We point fingers at the racism of others, then move our kids to private schools because the public school is too “ethnic.”  How many of us equate a “black neighborhood” as a “bad neighborhood” and lock the car doors when passing through?  If you say yes, that doesn’t make you a bad person.  It just makes you real.   And I bet writing about our own individual biases will advance society faster than the constant feel-good preaching to the social media choir.

My Week According to Me, 9/23/11

The week started on a positive note.   I exercised for three days in a row.  I realize that isn’t a big accomplishment for those of you who compete in triathlons, but it was a goal that I gave myself over the summer that I never could quite achieve.

On Thursday, I rested, and all of the endorphins in my body crashed.  I went into a dreary funk, which in the bizarro upside-down world of creativity, pushed me into doing some interesting Instagram photos.

Why is moody and dark so cool in photography, but if I said, “I feel depressed today” on Twitter, I would be ignored, especially by those too busy promoting their book titled “Helping Those with Depression.”

By Thursday, these dark thoughts were swept away by a change in life that required my total concentration and focus — the updates to the Facebook timeline.

Sure a meteor was head for Earth and I might be dead by the end of the week, but WTF is that scrolling thing on the right side of my page?!   Clearly, Mark Zuckerberg intends to control the World in a way Ian Fleming could never have conceived when he created those over-the-top Bond villains like Goldfinger.  Timeline, A Visual Representation Of Your Entire Life?

A single female blogging friend wrote this surprising status update after watching Mark Zuckerberg presentation:

“I don’t care what you say. I find Mark Zuckerberg super sexy.  Smart, cocky, and arrogant gets me every time!”

Very telling.   So, in preparation for success in my new dating life, I am working hard on becoming smart, cocky, arrogant, and a zillionaire by the end of Yom Kippur. Wish me luck.

On Thursday night, I went to see the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 musical “Follies.”

It is a story about former showgirls from the 1920s-1940’s who meet at a Times Square theater before it is torn down, and some unresolved relationship stories are played out against the ghosts of the past.   I love Sondheim, and Follies has a number of Broadway showstoppers that you probably know, even if you didn’t know you knew them.  If you ever go to a cabaret, you’ll frequently hear older women singing songs from this show, because the main characters in “Follies” are all age 60+. Commercial culture is so focused on teens and women in their twenties, and blogging is so concentrated on moms in their 30s, that it is rare to women in their 70s portrayed as having an interior life filled with as much love, regret, and passion as their younger counterparts.

Here is 84 year old Elaine Stritch, who is not in the current revival,  singing Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here,” at the White House for the Obamas.

The revival was near perfect. The weakest link in the current production is the star, Bernadette Peters.  While I love her as a musical theater actress, her personality is too bubbly for me to buy her as the somewhat bitter character, unhappy in love for so many years.

I attended the musical with two of my friends, both men.   They have been in a relationship for years.    Over dinner, they asked for my opinion on whether they should get married as a gay couple in New York State.   It lead to an interesting, and somewhat humorous discussion.  But I’ll save it for a later blog post.

As if this week wasn’t dramatic enough, Friday capped it all with the final episode of “All My Children.”

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that this ABC soap opera played an important role in my marriage with Sophia.   It was one of our special pastimes.  Before I met Sophia, she had already been watching the show for decades.  I grew to enjoy watching the show with her. It became a daily ritual. We would argue about the writing and laugh at the bad acting.   I also grew to respect the show and creator Agnes Nixon’s creativity.  You TRY writing a TV show that has to come out every single day, for DECADES, and keep it interesting.

I called Sophia tonight and she was taking the cancellation hard. But before you laugh at this, try to remember how emotional you became when your favorite show went off the air. Seinfeld? Lost? The Cosby Show? It feels like the passing of an era.

“This has been a year of loss,” said Sophia. “My parents died. Then divorce. And now All My Children.”

I can’t say that my reaction is as extreme. The writing on the show has been lousy for a years. And even Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane was getting on my nerves.

But we should embrace life lessons from wherever I can.   We all have dreams.   And we all have doubts about achieving those dreams.    But if Tad and Dixie can finally love with each other, despite divorce, murder, mayhem, switched babies, and the fact that Dixie had DIED TWICE on the show, anything in life is possible.

And thanks to this week’s Blog Crushes of the Day: Crib Chronicles, Deutschland uber Elvis, Irish Gumbo, and Wellington Road.

The Sad Tale of the Golden Globes Award Tweet

As a professional writer, there is nothing worse than finding out that someone else has written material similar to your own, and has gotten his work to the marketplace before yours. This can make your own project die an early death. Even if you have spent three grueling years writing your homo-erotic thriller about two Roman gladiators, thinking this is the most unique concept ever devised, if you read in the trades that Michael Chabon has just sold “Claudius and Octavius: The Forbidden Dance,” to Random House, you know the gig is up.

It is why so many writers end up drinking.

For the last two months, I have been hard at work on a secretive writing project that I intended to unveil to the world — today. I picked today because as an experienced blogger, I know today was the beginning of Hollywood award season, a primo time to grab attention on Twitter with clever wit. So, I was going to be ready for Golden Globes Award night with my secret project — the unveiling of the best snarky tweet that has ever been seen on the blogosphere.

For two months, I worked, preparing. I knew that if the stars were aligned correctly that night (and we all know how difficult that is nowadays with zodiac signs changing their position every year), I could use my online wit to make it into the newspapers. From there, your entire career can skyrocket. I hate to brag, but you do remember my mention in the Sunday Times of London in 2007 for my blog post about the that year’s Oscars ceremony don’t you? (that’s the freakin’ London Times, which makes me the equivalent of blogging’s Colin Firth!). (Oh, I have mentioned this article before. You mean a 100 times before? Oh, well.)

But now it is 2011. The action has moved from blogging to Twitter. If you want to make it in today’s world, you have to be witty in 140 characters. Brevity and sarcasm are key to most good tweets. People love it. Whenever I say something funny, I get more followers. Whenever I say something unfunny, like “What a crappy day. I am feeling depressed,” those exact same folks drop me like a hot potato. So it is important — at least on Twitter — to always be cocky, clever, and a little snooty. It is the method that seems to work best.

As I mentioned, knowing how important award season is online, I began writing my killer Golden Globe tweet back in November. I believe writing is rewriting, so I wanted enough time to expand on my concept. When the Golden Globe presenter announcements were made last month, I devised a list of celebrity/presenters, and matched them with appropriate jokes. I eventually narrowed my list down to a few select Hollywood actresses who either deserved to be mocked, or who gave me a strong opportunity to make a unique pun. After two months of grueling work, I finished my masterpiece tweet, which was to be published online on Twitter at the exact moment Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared on the red carpet before the show.

Here is my award-winning tweet:

“Hey, Jennifer Love Hewitt. Nice dress. Now we know why the show is called the Golden Globes.”

Isn’t that terrific? A perfect combination of sophisticated humor and “Hollywood insider” subtlety. I could imagine my followers howling with laughter — and I mean everyone — from the Ivy League educated career woman to the housewife who never went beyond high school, from the Beverly Hills mom in her Prada dress to the Walmart shopping divorcee from New Orleans. The tweet was so clever that I knew it would cut across all economic, racial, political, and religious divides, uniting a hurting country through laughter.

I turned the television on at 5PM as the red carpet ceremony began. The regular wits had already begun their work. Someone made a joke about latest Joan Rivers surgery. There were numerous boos and hisses over the Helena Bonham Carter’s dress. Some of these tweets were somewhat amusing, but I understood them to be written by lazy amateurs, spitting out one-liners without any knowledge of Twitter craft.

And then, Jennifer Love Hewitt approached the red carpet. As expected, she was wearing a tight dress that showed off her bosom. It was my time to shine, for me to bring Twitter to a halt with my amazingly snarky tweet. Would all of the Twitter servers be able to handle the thousands and thousands of retweets after I wrote my comment?

And then it came — a second before I was about to press publish — another tweet, written by a simple homeschooling mom with only 200 followers — I forget her name because I immediately unfollowed her:

“It looks like Jennife Luv Hewit has two big Golden Gloves as bewbs!”

I vomited.

This tweet didn’t get much of a reaction, for obvious reasons. She spelled Jennifer Love Hewitt’s name incorrectly. Worse, saying “two big Golden Gloves (sic) as bewbs,” ruins the concept. Let the audience put it together! Most readers would understand that the Golden Globes is a euphemism for her “bewbs.” If you say it out loud, it is insulting, and even worse — unfunny.

After this disaster, I was unable to publish my tweet. Even thought my tweet was 5000x more superior, a James Joyce’s “Ulysses” of a tweet compared to her Snooki, others would have called me a “copycat.” Other jealous bloggers out to destroy me would say I “steal tweets” and my reputation as a genius twitterer would be forever sullen.

So, while many actors, directors, and writers were honored tonight for their creative achievements, I will forever remember tonight as a sad one for the artistic world. It was the night that never saw “the wittiest, most snarky, most creative Golden Globes tweet ever written, that surely would have brought Twitter to her knees.”

The Haunted Vagina: The Movie

This is a real novel titled “The Haunted Vagina,” written by Carlton Mellick III.

You can buy it on Amazon.

The central plot of the novel poses a question that many men have pondered throughout the ages:

What if your girlfriend’s vagina was a gateway to another world?

The premise of this amazing novel intrigued me so much when I first read it in graduate school, I optioned the work from the author, and have been developing the screenplay for five years, trying to capture the immediacy of the writing to the big screen.

I can now publicly announce that the movie will finally be released this summer. Here is a sneak preview of the trailer to “The Haunted Vagina: Stargate to The Future.”

Too Small, Too Big, Just Right


“Does your wife or girlfriend think you are too “big,” too “small,” or “just right” in the bedroom?” asked the dude with the glasses, trendy t-shirt, beard, and clipboard.

I had just left the 42nd Street Library and was walking down the street, passing the headquarters of a major pay-channel cable network.

“Huh?” I asked.  I’m used to tourists asking for directions to the Empire State Building, but never this.

“I’m with the show “Honest Sex Stories” and we’re interviewing people today in the street.  You can be on TV!”

I noticed a cameraman and soundman lurking in the background, in front of the “Hearty Soup” cafe.

“You want me to talk about my penis size on TV?”

He assured me that the show gets a large audience, and has been nominated for an Emmy.

I know that it is everyone’s dream of being on TV.  We all want Oprah’s job when she leaves.  I read tweets about mommybloggers on CNN.  Redneck Mommy is now on Canadian TV every week!  I would love to feel special too, but do I really want this to be my opening act on the small screen?

Twitter January 2010

@RT Neilochka – hey, gang, watch me on Honest Sex Stories tonight where I talk about my penis size!

As a professional blogger, I decided to talk to this “street interviewer” as a peer, an equal.  After all, as the master of ceremonies of the Great Interview Experiment, I know a little bit about interviewing myself, and I didn’t want him to just think of me as some dumb schlub he just picked up off the street.

“So, how many people have you interviewed already?”

“We’re just starting the process.”

I wanted to show him how sharp I was with my knowledge.

“You realize that you’re NOT going to get too many men admitting that they are “too small.”  If anything, you are going to get guys insisting that they are “too big.”

“We know that already.  That’s why we’re interviewing women too.”


I thought about this for a second.  What would I do with this footage if I was trying to be “entertaining” on some cable sex show?

“So, basically, you’re going to intercut men saying they’re too big with the women saying they’re too small?”

“Something like that.”

“So, whatever I would say right now, doesn’t really matter.  You could edit me in with some woman saying, “He has the smallest dick in the world,” and the audience will think she is talking about me.”

“That’s unlikely, but it is up to the director and video editors.  They’ll be some paperwork that you’ll need to sign before…”

“So, tell me again.  Why would I want to do this?”

“You’ll be on TV!”

“What’s your dick size?” I asked.


“You work for a sex show.  Surely you know your own dick size.”

“Average.  A little more.  About six inches, I guess”

“Great.  Can I take a photo of you right now with my iPhone?”

“Why would you do that?”

“I run a blog called Citizen of the Month.  I’d like to write a post about you, telling my readers about your dick size.  Would that be OK with you? I get a lot of readers!  This would be a great opportunity for you!”

Exciting World Series Publicity Stunt

(IM conversation)

Neil:  I have this fun idea we can do for our blogs.  You realize the Phillies and the Yankees are in the World Series.  You live in Philadelphia.  I live in New York. So, we can do one of those publicity stunts like the mayors of the competing cities do — where if the Yankees win, you are forced to eat a bagel and lox, and if the Phillies win, I will have to eat a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.  And the loser has to post a photo on the blog as punishment.

Philly Girl:  Doesn’t seem like much of a punishment.  I like bagels and lox.

Neil:  That’s true.  And I like a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.

Philly Girl:  If anything, I don’t like Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.

Neil:  OK, so maybe YOU should eat one if you lose… wait, that doesn’t make much sense.   Besides, I like both of bagels and lox and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  What would I eat?

Philly Girl:  Isn’t there some sort of New York food that you don’t like?  Hot dogs?

Neil:  Like them.

Philly Girl:  What else is there?

Neil:  I can’t think of one right now.

Philly Girl:  I don’t really hate Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  I just don’t eat them.  They are high in fat.

Neil:  But you eat bagels and lox?  That is high in fat with the cream cheese, no?.

Philly Girl:  I use low-fat cream cheese.

Neil:  Philadelphia brand cream cheese!  Isn’t that ironic?  Everyone in New York also uses Philadelphia brand cream cheese!

Philly Girl:  Never thought about it.   Do they make Philadelphia brand cream cheese in Philadelphia?

Neil:   I have no idea.   I think we are striking out with the food gimmick.  Maybe the loser should be forced to sing a song on his blog.  Like you would have to sing “New York, New York.”

Philly Girl:  And you?

Neil:  I got it.  Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.”

Philly Girl:  My microphone on my laptop is broken.

Neil:  Damn.  I’m not sure mine works either.

Philly Girl:  Are you really into this baseball game?

Neil:  I don’t even like the Yankees.

Philly Girl:  I can’t even name one player on the Phillies.  Until you mentioned it, I didn’t know that they were in the World Series.

Neil:  I think they are.  I think they beat the Dodgers in the National League.  Let me go on Google and check.  (after checking) Yes.

Philly Girl:  So?

Neil:  You ever been to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia?

Philly Girl:  I have been!

Neil:  That is such a cool museum!  You should come to New York some day.   We can go to the Met.

Philly Girl:  I think I’ll be there at Christmas time.

Neil:  Cool.  We should get together.

Philly Girl:  Sure.  OK, gotta go.  Good luck with the Yankees.

Neil:  Good luck with the Phillies!  May the best team win!

Big Brains

My brain is so slow today after this mega cold, that I am going to have to slum it here on the blog again today and write something cheap and unnecessary, with no redeeming value to humanity. Unlike the rest of the year.

I picked up an old Glamour magazine in the makeshift “library” we have in our apartment building next to the compactor room. Nicole Kidman is on the front cover. Anne Hathaway is on the back cover – an ad for Lancome’s Magnifique. Neither of these actresses appeals to me, but hey, the magazine is free!

As I perused through the magazine, the article that most caught my attention was “Guys’ Weird New Habits: Why? Why?” In the article, the magazine’s “intrepid” sex reporters answered the questions that women want to know, such as “Why are Guys Getting Waxed There?” “Why are Young Guys Getting Vasectomies?” and “Why are Guys Obsessed with Making Sex Tapes?” Being a guy, I already knew the answers to these questions, so I skipped those, but I was stumped by this one: “Why are Guys so Amused by “Braining”?”

I have never heard of “braining.”

“Men love to play practical jokes one one another – and the latest prank is “braining.” If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it works: A guy falls asleep after drinking. His buddy – the “brainer” – takes out just his testicles. which on their own, resemble a mini brain, and places them next to the snoozer’s face. (The positioning of the big kahuna varies.) Then he points a camera downward, snaps a photo of the spectcle and posts it on his Facebook page!”

Huh? So basically you show everyone you know on Facebook YOUR OWN testicles, and this is a joke you are playing on the sleeping guy?

I do remember in camp, putting a sleeping person’s hand in a bucket of water so the sleeping guy starts feeling the urge to pee, but I don’t remember if this “stunt” ever actually worked.

Men are stupid.

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