the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: April 2006 (Page 3 of 3)

Easy Money


Sophia and I at IHOP this morning, reading the LA Times.

Me:  You know Lawry’s, the fancy "Prime Ribs" place?

(reading)  "Steeped in tradition, Lawry’s takes pride in serving up prime rib from silver carts much the way the family-run restaurant chain’s founders did in 1938, when they opened the original Beverly Hills location.

But the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Tuesday that in employing mostly female servers in its upscale eateries, the Pasadena company might be too retro for its own good.

In an unusual class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the agency charged the chain of seven restaurants with maintaining a hiring policy established in 1938 that discriminates against men."

Sophia:  I see this ALL THE TIME in court.  You know what you should do?  You should try to get a job some place where they’re never going to hire you, then sue them for a million dollars.  LIke at Hooters.

Me:  That’s so funny you said that.  Listen to the last paragraph.

(reading)  "In 1997, Hooters of America Inc. agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle a suit filed by men who said they were turned away when they applied for jobs at the chain, which is known for its female servers in revealing outfits."  

Sophia:  There goes that idea.  But I’m sure you can find some place else to sue.   How about Curves?

Neil:  Or Victoria’s Secrets?

Sophia:  I have the best one.  That bikini wax place on Pico Boulevard.  They’re never going to hire you and then you can say it was discrimination.

Neil:  Yeah, easy money from the settlement.  Although, you know, it would be a pretty cool job if they actually gave it to me.

I Love You, Sun-Maid Raisin Girl


Much like Betty Crocker and the Brawny Man recently “updated” their product’s icon, the Sun-Maid company wrongly thinks that the 21st Century requires a 21st Century Sun-Maid girl.  When I heard about this change, I was extremely upset.  As a lover of raisins, I’m fond of the old icon — the kind-hearted, but lusty farm girl, always with a smile on her face, the perfect hostess who never fails to offer me some of her fresh-picked, juicy California grapes.  What full-blooded American teen male hasn’t spent countless hours staring at his box of raisins, fantasizing about this beautiful raisin girl with the tight peasant blouse and mysterious red bonnet, her long, dark hair flowing down?

The Sun-Maid girl has an actual history:

“Unlike the Pillsbury Doughboy or even Betty Crocker, the Sun Maid image is based on a real person – Lorraine Collett Petersen, a California girl who volunteered to hand out boxes of raisins at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.”


“Petersen was asked to pose with a tray of grapes for a painting that became the company’s logo in 1916.”


“The image was updated in 1970, when the Sun Maid’s decidedly ethnic features were smoothed out and her torso was slenderized.”


Thirty-six years later, and it’s time for some more Botox — especially if you’re going to be on television.  So, since it’s time for some Sun-Maid commercials, it’s time for the raisin girl to get a makeover.


“But now, for the first time in her very long life, the beauty on the box has been granted a Pilates body, an aerobics instructor’s voice, and a 30-second television spot to launch her new career as a company spokescharacter.

Introduced last week, the 21st-century version of the raisin queen is a true digital dollface, tanned and toned and unmistakably going for the big-eyed Barbie, Shrek-girl, Disney-princess look. Think Sandra Bullock made of pixels, and you get the picture.”

You can see the final commercial here.

TV has always been obsessed with good looks, but never as much so as today.  Could a Walter Cronkite exist today?  While watching reruns of “Match Game” this weekend, Sophia and I wondered if a dorky guy like Gene Rayburn could ever host a game show nowadays?  Even on “reality” shows, everyone is unrealistically good-looking.   I’m not going to even get into the weight issues that television promotes.  Which Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, etc. — the show should be called “Desperately Anorexic Housewives.”

Call me a traditionalist, but I like the old raisin girl better.  But I guess I understand the company’s need to “sex her up.”  In fact, as a top blogger, I was able to get access to the secret plans for Raisin Girl 2007 [codename Angela the Stripper] , as the company raises the “edgy” level in order to increase the demographic of younger men age 18-25, who have been opting out of raisins for “hipper” snacks like Doritos.


Double Entendres and Croissants


I had the cold first.  Then, I went over to Sophia to get some TLC, and got her sick.  So, by the end of the week, we were both miserable.

Friday, I took some pills and ventured out, mostly because I was excited to meet two bloggers coming to town from San Francisco — Kristy of She Just Walks Around With It and Ish of The Original Pawns of Comedy.  I really enjoyed meeting them and talking about blogging, writing, comedy, and all sorts of things.  We had lunch in Hermosa Beach and then took a walk on the beach right up to the waves. 

Being with people new to the area helped me look at LA in a new way.  I complain about living in Los Angeles a lot, but there is something to be said for living right by the beach, even if I sometimes feel like a fish-out-of-water in the beach culture — with the surfer dudes, the professional volleyball girls, and the ubiquitous fish tacos.

On Saturday, Sophia and I, still under the weather, spent most of the day inside, watching TV.  We especially enjoyed watching old game shows on the Game Show Network.  The highlight of the day was "The Newlywed Game," especially when Bob Eubanks asked the "wives" this question:

"Which of the following game show titles best describes your husband’s behavior lately in the whoopie department?"

A)  Concentration
B)  Make Me Laugh
C)  Beat the Clock

I thought I would have some fun with Sophia and ask her to play along.

"So, what’s your answer?"

"Whoopie meaning sex, right?"

"Yes.  So, which game show title best describes your husband’s behavior?  Concentration?  Make Me Laugh? Or Beat the Clock?"

"I never heard of any of those shows."

"They’re old shows.  Just pick one."

"I don’t know them.  Can I pick one I do know?"


"Wheel of Fortune."

"Wheel of Fortune doesn’t make sense."

"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

"Millionaire doesn’t really work either.  It only works if it’s a double entendre."

"Millionaire could be a double entendre.  Like "My husband is worth a million bucks in the sack, or should I phone a friend?.""

"But it’s supposed to be funny.  It should be something making fun of the man’s inadequacy."

"Ok, if you insist.  How about, "My husband’s lovemaking is so blah, that every time we make whoopie, there’s a "Family Feud.""  That’s not bad.  Or my husband is so boring in the bedroom, he’s the ultimate "Hollywood Square."  Or "Let’s just say that when I make whoopie with my husband, the words "Weakest Link" always come to mind."   Better now?"

"OK, OK, I get it.  Let’s watch something else."

On Sunday, Sophia and I spent most of the day like Saturday — watching TV.

At some point, I got lustful feelings and tried to get flirty with the sniffling Sophia, who responded by hitting me in the head with a tissue box.  Sophia promptly fell asleep and I started watching one of those poker shows on TV. 

It was a high-stakes tournament going on at the Aviation Club in Paris.  There was a lot of excitement in the air.  As the players battled each other with their cards and chips, some ordered drinks from an attractive waitress.   Not that this was unusual for a casino.  But I was very surprised when one player asked to be brought a croissant.

A croissant!

How French I thought!  He’s playing for a million dollars, but still has time for a croissant!  I’ve always been fascinated by the French.  Their culture.  Their art.  Their wine.  Their beautiful woman.  My all-time favorite movie director is Frenchman Eric Rohmer.   One of my greatest joys with this blog is that I actually have readers in France.  I’m not sure how they found me, but I’m glad they did.  Like a lot of Americans, I was pissed at the French government’s siding with the Iraqis a couple of years ago, but I never went so far as to change the name of my French toast to Freedom toast. 

And what is more French than a croissant? 

Suddenly, my lustful feelings became focused on French baked goods.  I had a deep yearning for a croissant that just had to be satisfied.  I threw on my clothes and headed for the supermarket. 

But Vons Supermarket proved to be a big disappointment.   Their store brand of croissants looked awful.   A true croissant is much like a perfect bagel — there must be a perfectly modulated juxtaposition between the toughness of the exterior and the softness of the interior.   Vons Supermarket’s croissants looked like cut pieces of cardboard.

But now I had a problem?  Where the hell am I going to find a good croissant in Redondo Beach — where Tito’s Taco Shack is considered fine cuisine?  Luckily, I was able to find a foodie friend at home, who directed me to a bakery in Hermosa Beach.

An hour later, I returned home, holding a bag with two croissants, one for me and one for Sophia.   I thought about the intense pleasure that eating this croissant would give me — like a night of passion in Paris with the most beautiful French woman.

"Why do you go out for croissants?" asked Sophia.

"It was like inspiration.  I heard player in a poker tournament in Paris ask to be brought a croissant."

"No one asks for a croissant in the middle of a poker tournament."

"In France, they do.  You just don’t understand the French.  They have a lust for life.  When they want a croissant, they get a croissant."

"Let me see."

The game was still on Sophia’s Tivo.  She zoomed back to the exact moment I was talking about.   She started laughing.

"He didn’t say "croissant!"" said Sophia, who happens to speak French.   "He said "troi cents!"  He was asking another player if he had "troi cents" — three hundred [thousand] in chips."

"Oh," I said, feeling like an idiot.

We ate the croissants anyway.  Sophia loved hers, but it just wasn’t the same for me.

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