the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Depression

Very Vague Dispatch from L.A. – #3

I found this actual “Depression Test” online.    Here are my answers, and the result.

Q: Do you feel sad or irritable?  Yes.

Q: Have you lost interest in activities once enjoyed?  Yes.

Q: Have you experienced changes in weight or appetite?  No.

Q: Have you experienced changes in sleeping pattern?  No.

Q: Do you have feelings of guilt?  Yes.

Q: Are you unable to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions?  No.

Q: Have you experienced fatigue or loss of energy?  Yes.

Q: Have you experienced restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others?  Yes.

Q: Do you feel hopeless, or worthless?  No.

Q: Have you had thoughts of suicide or death?  No.  (who would write Citizen of the Month?  Some hack?)

You answered 5 items out of 10 “Yes”.   According to The National Mental Health Association, there is a 50% chance that you may be suffering from clinical depression and a 50% chance that you are not suffering from clinical depression.    Hopefully, this test has helped you clarify your concerns.

Yes, thank you!   I was having a few concerns about being depressed today, especially after this little incident while shopping with Sophia, where I started to hyperventilate and feel trapped while searching for “Euro-size” pillow shams in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, as if the linens themselves were masked men in 300 thread count bandanas surrounding me, hovering and ominous, the danger imminent.   And then I got very sleepy.   So, I went back home to take this depression test.   It is good to know that I am only 50% depressed, although the last two questions seem a bit extreme.    Hopeless?  Worthless?  Suicide?   As bad as things get, I can always look at online photos of women in their underwear.    How hopeless can you be when you have that?

An Interview with Yusuf Khatibbi

An Interview with Yusuf Khatibbi
(reprinted from Britain’s Pandora Magazine)

Reporter:  Yusuf, we’re sitting here in your apartment in Amman, Jordan.  You’re looking very content and at peace with yourself, but your former life was actually quite different, wasn’t it?

Yusuf:  Yes, very much so.

Reporter:  You were actually born as Neil “Neilochka” Kramer in Flushing, New York to Jewish parents.  What happened to you that spurred this dramatic change to your life?

Yusuf:  First of all, moving to Los Angeles was a low point.  Los Angeles is a den of iniquity.  I lived in an area called Redondo Beach, where young women would shamelessly walk around displaying their nubile bodies, causing me to constantly have immoral thoughts, which I would write about in my weblog, or “Devil’s Log,” as I now call it.

Reporter:  But surely, converting to Islam and moving to Jordan was an extreme step for a so-called “nice Jewish boy from Queens.”

Yusuf:  First of all, Amman and Los Angeles are not that different, so it was an easy transition.  They have the same stores.  Starbucks, Jiffy Lube,  and Bed, Bath, and Beyond on every block. 

Reporter:  But what made you reject your Jewish heritage?

Yusuf:  Reject it?  It rejected me!  Everything bad in my life was connected to being Jewish.  I was always worrying and kvetching about everything, and who’s to blame?  My Jewish mother!  Even her “Jewish food,” like her pot roast, was so laden with fat, that I ended up having to take cholesterol pills.  

Reporter:  Weren’t you also married to a Jewish woman? 

Yusuf:   A Jewish woman… who made me sleep in the car.   A shiksa would never do that.  I read the blogs of these shiksas.  They’re always catering to their men, serving them healthy meals, doing the laundry, and giving their men oral sex whenever they asked for it.   Jewish women are so materialistic.  Every time I offered to take my wife out for dinner, all she ever said was, “Can’t we go to a real restaurant… without the 2-1 coupon?!”  Non-Jewish women enjoy bargains, especially Muslim women.  They’re used to bartering at the Arab market.  And what about all the nutty Jews in Hollywood?   On Rosh Hashanah, there was this Jewish CAA agent sitting right behind me in temple, and he wouldn’t shut up about his lunch with Nicole Kidman!  Name-dropper!  You just don’t see that craziness going on at a mosque. 

Reporter:  But surely your mother must be upset at your rejection of your Jewish religion?

Yusuf:  Eh.  Maybe years ago.  Now, everything is publicity for her.  She’s currently trying to get the New Yorker magazine to write another article about her titled — Jewish Mom, Islamic Son.   That’s all Jews care about.  PR! 

Reporter:  And how do you now stand politically?  How do you feel about Israel and it’s relations with the Arab world?

Yusuf:  Phooey!  Israelis are pains in the asses!  Back in LA, my Israeli hair stylist, Aharon, would charge fifty bucks for a cut, extra for a shampoo, when I could have gotten the same thing done at Supercuts for ten.  And then, in Encino, the Israelis are always touting their falafel, as if it was THEY who invented it.  We’re the ones who created falafel — the Muslims, not them!   They’re a bunch of egomaniacs.

Reporter:  Yusuf, this is fascinating.   So many insights from a man who has crossed over from one culture to another.  Clearly you have finally “found” yourself by leaving behind your home, your family, and your religion —  and embracing Islam and moving to Jordan.

Yusuf:  Absolutely.  I just hope one day to see what my new girlfriend looks like when she takes off her burka. 

You Can’t Spell Happiness without Penis


There’s an old showbiz adage — “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Look how easy it was for me yesterday to write about being miserable. All I had to do was throw some Leonard Cohen or Beck lyrics up on the screen and everyone is crying a river.

But comedy requires work.

Today, I received an email from someone in the PR department of Conde Nast. I don’t know her, but just from her name, I visualize her as extremely attractive, single, ambitious, brunette, Jewish, with knowing eyes — someone like Sophia, but who’s not kicking me out.

Anyway, back to reality. This lovely PR person wrote to me wondering if I was interested in writing a post about an article in their current Details magazine. The article is very creatively titled “Is Being Well Hung the Key to Happiness?” She titled her email “Hung = Happiness.” The Economist this magazine is not.

Here’s the opening of the article:

Is Being Well Hung the Key to Happiness?
Some guys never seem to worry. The reason for that is probably in their pants.

Things were not looking good for Josh (not his real name). He had lost all the money he’d made as a day trader. To make matters worse, his longtime girlfriend walked out on him, taking all the furniture and whatever else she could carry. By any measure, it was rock bottom. But when Josh’s friends mobilized the rescue crew, they were astounded: Josh appeared to be totally unfazed.

“He didn’t care!” says Josh’s best friend, Steve (not his real name), a 35-year-old hedge-fund manager who worked with him on Wall Street. “He shrugged it off. It would have killed a lesser man.” But Steve knew his friend’s nonchalance wasn’t due to some elaborate form of self-hypnosis or handfuls of Wellbutrin. Josh owed his composure to something far simpler: nine inches of the most primal form of self-assurance known to man.

“If it weren’t for his cock, he’d be a hobo riding the trains around the country,” Steve says. “It’s opened doors for him. Rich women put him up at their apartments. We have friends who have more money than him and are more successful than him, but they all say, ‘I want to come back as this guy.’ Secretly, we all want to be him.”

Clearly the PR department of Conde Nast did their research and knew exactly who on the blogosphere who be interested in this new “scientific” research. (I can’t believe the hoity-toity Huffington Post wrote about this important scientific discovery too!) It really didn’t matter that I had never opened a copy of Details magazine in my life.

At first, I had no interest in writing about this post. After all, the PR department sent it to me because they WANT me to write about it, and as Sophia would love to tell you, I’m passive-aggressive. Therapy has changed me, and as proof of that, I’m actually going to go against the grain and agree to help out this lovely and good-willed woman from Conde Nast.

But, here’s my dilemma. I want to say something funny about the article, but I’m stuck between two vastly different comedic “gags.” This is what makes comedy so difficult. Follow along as I mull over my options. Consider this a “Master’s Class” in Comedy.

Gag #1 —

“Happiness = Hung? I think the scientists at Details Magazine better go back into the lab. I think my sleeping in the car last week being miserable clearly refutes their findings!”

Now, I’m the first one to admit that this joke is a dud. However, it serves a vital purpose. Think about the context of the joke. What important piece of real-life information am I subtly adding to the joke? Here’s another hint — soon I may be re-joining the dating pool. Have you figured it out yet? Can you see why I might want to let this less-than-stellar joke remain?

Imagine, mommybloggers across North America, emailing and twittering each other this afternoon, “Did you read Neilochka’s blog today? It wasn’t very funny, but tell me if I’m wrong — in the subtext of the joke, wasn’t he insinuating that he is… well… uh… well… really…well…?

Gag #2 —

“Happiness = Hung? I see! Now I understand why I was miserable sleeping in the car that night!”

That is a much funnier punchline. It is a double whammy. I end up sleeping in the car and blaming it on my own… shortcomings. Of course, it also sends a message out to the world that may end up hurting me in a few months when I make my first appearance at BlogHer.

Imagine, I’m waiting on line to get my BlogHer badge, one of the few men amidst hundreds of horny housewives.

Mommyblogger #1 (not her real name):  “Isn’t that Neilochka? He’s even better looking in person. And so tall!”

Mommyblogger #2:  “Uh, yeah. But did you ever read that post he wrote in February about Details Magazine…”

Mommyblogger #1:  “No, send me the link.”

Mommyblogger #2:  “You NEED to read it. It says so much about him. I’ll send you the link in tinyURL.”

Mommyblogger #1:  “Huh? Why in tinyURL?”

Mommyblogger #2:  “Read his post. Then you’ll understand.”

Clearly, you can see the dilemma I have here. Go with the joke that has the subliminal message that drives women crazy or go fo the funnier line that doesn’t get me laid at BlogHer. This is exactly why comedy is underappreciated. Funny movies never win the Oscars or any serious awards. I don’t mean artsy-funny movies like Juno. I mean the crap that I’m going to write. But they really should. Men expose their souls through comedy!

My Penis just hit me on the leg.

Neil’s Penis:  “What the f**king kind of post is this, Neilochka?  Are your cracking up over this Sophia thing?  Stop moping around and be happy!  Remember Bobby what’s his face’s song– Don’t worry, be happy!”

Neil:  “And what should I be happy about?  I think soon I’m going to be moving out of the house… again!”

My Penis clears his throat, reminding me about that dumb Happiness = Hung article in Details magazine.

Neil’s Penis:  “You’re happy, right?”

Neil:  “Oh, right… right… I’m happy…. very happy indeed.  Don’t worry about me anymore, Mom.  Everything is great.  I’m happy.”

Neil’s Penis:  “Exactly! Woo-hoo!  Nothing can get us down!”

Neil:  “Thank you, Dad, for your excellent genes!”

Neil’s Penis:  “That’s right.  You can learn something about PR from Conde Nast.  Self-promotion is important.  Party!  Party!  Happy! Happy!  Joy!  Joy!”

Neil and Neil’s Penis: (singing together) “We are Family…!”

Thank you Conde Nast and Details Magazine for reminding me that I have so much to be happy about!

Another Movie about the Depression

2003 — Seabiscuit

True story of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of the three-man team behind it but also those of the nation as well.

June 2005 — Cinderella Man (Russell Crowe) 

True story of Depression-era fighter and folk hero Jim Braddock, who defeated heavyweight champ Max Baer in a 15-round slugfest in 1935.  When America was on its knees, he brought us to our feet.

2007  Leap of Faith  (currently on page 15 of the screenplay; waiting to see if Cinderella Man is successful)  

The true story of Depression-era frog, Jumpy Jones, whose underdog victory against "Mighty Green" in the annual frog jumping contest lifted the spirit of the nation and brought us to our feet. 

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