the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: October 2006 (Page 3 of 4)

Pee Like a Man!

(Manneken Pis in Brussels)

Men, let’s be honest.  Women online are selfish. We  care about their issues — body image, fashion, mommyblogging, etc., but when it comes to OUR issues, they are strangely silent. How else do you explain the lack of outcry on this story from Norway?

The head of The Democrats Party, a splinter group of former Progress Party hardliners, Vidar Kleppe, is outraged that boys at Dvergsnes School in Kristiansand have to sit and pee.

Kleppe accuses the school of fiddling with God’s work, and wants the matter discussed at the executive committee level of the local council, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

“When boys are not allowed to pee in the natural way, the way boys have done for generations, it is meddling with God’s work,” Kleppe told the newspaper.

… [School Principal Anne Lise] Gjul told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that the young boys are simply not good enough at aiming, and the point was to have a pleasant toilet that could be used by both boys and girls.

Can you imagine the humiliation that boys in Norway are going through? Why do we send troops to Iraq and not Norway? Is there anything more central to being a man than the joy of standing there, taking aim, and peeing? What boy wants to sit like a girl?

No wonder why Europeans are turning into a bunch of wusses.

I believe this is another step towards world domination by feminists. Does it surprise you that it it is School Principal ANNE Lise Gjul who is destroying the manliness of Norwegian men, a country once so famous for it’s virile men that a song was written about them — Norwegian Wood?

Pretty soon, I fear that men will be put into metal cages and President Hillary Clinton will sign a bill enabling women to marry their vibrators.

“Do you, Susan, take this pink vibrator…”

Things are especially bad in Europe.   Did you notice the statue of Manniken Pis (little boy peeing) that I showed at the top of the post?   Apparently, he isn’t good enough being Brussel’s long-time city’s trademark.


In 1987 this statue of a girl urinating (Jeanneke Pis) was erected on the east side of the Impasse de la Fidélité / Getrouwheidsgang (Faith Alley), a narrow dead-end street some 100 metres long leading northwards off the restaurant-packed Rue des Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat (Butchers’ Street). Now parents tell little boys that they have a “choice” over which method is more appropriate, but usually add that only “Americans” and “bad men” pee standing up and “peace-lovers” sit like a woman.”

I say, enough is enough.  It isn’t our fault that we can’t aim very well.

Years ago, when men were really men, we used to shoot animals with bows and arrows and guns. We achieved our aiming skills through ACTION. Now “feminists” have decided that “hunting” and “killing” are bad for society. Is it any wonder we piss on the seat? Mothers teach their daughters about having their first period.  Fathers DO NOT teach their sons how to pee.

Men, I say it is time to turn back the clock against the feminizing of society. I want you, whether you or at home or at work, to STAND UP — Yes, right NOW, stand up, proudly walk to the bathroom, pull down your zipper with a sense of purpose, and take a PISS! Take that PISS standing up! Feel the cool Fall air. Listen to the sound the water, so much like the mighty Colorado River. Feel a bond with men throughout history — Abraham Lincoln, Alexander the Great, Douglas MacArthur — all men who urinated standing up. Yes, even Adam peed standing up in the Garden of Eden. Shout it out loud, “I am a man and I take a PISS standing up!”

You’re a man, for god sakes. Pee like one!

Two Nerds on the Phone


What happens to our dreams? Where do they go? Time flies so quickly. Just this morning, I was thinking how little I’ve achieved in my life plan. Do you realize that I am an adult male, and I have yet to sleep with a black woman, an Asian woman, a Latina woman, an Australian woman, a Native American woman, a woman that was taller than me, a blond woman, a woman that wore high heels to bed, or a woman from 48 of the 50 U.S. States? It’s sad really, especially since I am always promoting “diversity.”

While I’m in a rut, sitting at home, still waiting for Sophia’s return, others are breaking new ground. Last night, I got a phone call from my childhood friend, Dennis. I was surprised to hear from him because it was 2AM in New York.

“You’ll never believe what just happened.” he said.

“What?” I asked, nervously, worried that the call was about somewhat sick or dead.

“I went to a retirement party at work, and I was carpooling with this woman from work. This younger woman. Debbie. She’s about 25. Very attractive. We get along really well. She’s very funny and we’re always joking with each other…”

“So… ?”

“So, on the way, we decide to stop…”

Oh my god, I’m thinking to myself. Dennis is married with two children. He is the most straight-as-an-arrow guy I’ve ever known. He actually used to LIKE going to synagogue on Saturday. He wouldn’t…

“I did it! I finally did it!” Dennis yelled. “She took out this little pipe and I smoked pot — for the first time!”

I sighed. At the same time, I knew this was a big moment for him.

“So, what did you think?

“I only had a few puffs, but I felt that floating sensation.”

“Did you like it?”

“It was OK. I’m probably not going to do it too often. Not that I’m afraid of getting hooked on the hard stuff, like heroin. It’s just, when do I have the time to smoke pot? I have work, I need to pick up the kids…”

“How much does it cost now?”

“I have no idea. I’m sure with inflation it’s gone up quite a bit since we were kids.”

“I suppose so. Well, congratulations, though. You are now officially a pothead.”

“Thanks. The Grateful Dead rule!”

After I hung up, I was jealous of him. He seemed so energized by this new experience. I bet you he got home and jumped into bed with his wife, a new fire in his eyes.

While Dennis might think I’m a marijuana expert, the truth is I haven’t smoked a joint since I was 14 years old, and I only smoked it a handful of times. And like President Clinton, I didn’t inhale much, afraid that the ashes would burn my throat or I would immediately get cancer. The first time I smoked pot was at a Yes concert at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. The few other times were in my friend Philip’s basement, as we listened to Pink Floyd over and over again. Just hearing “Dark Side of the Moon” now makes me dizzy.

So, as a true goody-two-shoed Citizen of the Month, I’m just one notch less nerdy than Dennis — and now with his pot-smoking, he’s leaving me behind. I’m officially the geekiest person I know!

I only felt worse when I saw this meme going around — different variations here, here, here, here, and here.

Fill in what you’ve “done”:

(x) Smoked a joint
( ) Done cocaine
(X) Been in love
( ) Had a threesome
(x) Been dumped
( ) Shoplifted
(X) Had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back
( ) Been arrested
( ) Made out with a stranger
(X) Gone on a blind date
() Had a crush on a teacher
(X) Been to Europe
(X) Been to Canada
(x) Been to Mexico
(x) Seen someone die
() Thrown up in a bar
(X) Met a celebrity
(X) Met someone from the internet in person
( ) Been moshing at a concert
( ) Gone backstage at a concert
() Lain outside in the grass and watched cloud shapes go by
() Made a snow angel
(X) Flown a kite
( ) Cheated while playing a game
(X) Been lonely
( ) Fallen asleep at work
() Fallen asleep at school
(x) Used a fake ID
() Been kicked out of a bar
(X) Felt an earthquake
( ) Touched a snake
() Slept beneath the stars
( ) Been robbed
(X) Won a contest
(X) Run a red light
( ) Been suspended from school
(X) Had braces
(X) Felt like an outcast
(X) Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night
(X) Had deja vu
() Totaled a car
( ) Stolen a car
(x) Hated the way you look
( ) Witnessed a crime
() Been to a strip club
(X) Been to the opposite side of the world
(X) Swum in the ocean
() Felt like dying
() Cried yourself to sleep
() Sung karaoke
() Paid for a meal with only coins
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t
() Made prank phone calls
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
() Had a bonfire on the beach
(x) Crashed a party
( ) Seen a tornado
(X) Had a wish come true
( ) Gone bungee jumping
() Screamed in public
( ) Told a complete stranger you loved them
( ) Had a one night stand
( ) Kissed a mirror
( ) Had a dream that you married someone
( ) Gotten your fingers stuck together with super glue
( ) Been a cheerleader
(X) Sat on a roof top
( ) Talked on the phone for more than 6 hours straight
(X) Stayed up all night
(X) Not taken a shower for three days
( ) Made contact with a ghost while playing a Ouija board
( ) Had more than 30 pairs of shoes at a time
( ) Gone streaking
(X) Been skinny dipping
( ) Been pushed into a pool/lake with all your clothes on
( ) Had sex in a public or semi-public place
( ) Been kissed by a complete stranger
( ) Broken a bone
( ) Caught a butterfly
() Mooned/flashed someone
() Had someone moon/flash you
( ) Cheated on a test
(X) Forgotten someone’s name
(X) Slept naked

Sure I’ve done some cool stuff, but look at EVERYTHING I haven’t done!

What kind of life am I leading? I’ve never shoplifted. I’ve never made out with a stranger. I’ve never made a “snow angel.” I bet you even Dennis has made a snow angel.

Depressed, I took a walk today, hoping to meet up with some new experience, something I’ve never done before that will re-energize my life! I walked and walked, down the same old familiar streets, the same faces smiling at me, the same shadeless palm trees overhead. I decided to enter a 7-Eleven and buy the Los Angeles Times, hoping I might read about some spiffy event in town that I have never experienced before.

And then I saw it. My New Experience. Something I could check off on my “list of Life.” Something I know for certain that Dennis has never done.

After my experience, I ran home and called Dennis at work.

“Hey, Dennis! Guess what? I did it!”

“You did what?” he asked.

“I tried Beef Jerky for… like for the very first time!”

“Beef Jerky? Yuch. Where?”

“At 7-Eleven?”

“You mean the stuff they keep on the counter? Is that stuff kosher?”

“I doubt it, but I’m not kosher anyway.”

“Yuch. Was it any good?”

“It was awful. Like a cross between a cold rubbery hot dog and a gummy bear. I took one bite and threw out the rest.”

“You are a brave man.”

“Yes, I am.”

Although he didn’t say it out loud, I knew he was impressed.

Dennis can keep his pot smoking. Today, October 9th, I tried beef jerky, something I’ve seen in convenience stores all my life, but never had the nerve to try.

And frankly, it is probably more dangerous to put into your body than pot.

I’m Neilochka, a Rebel with a Beef Jerky Cause.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Welcome to the Hotel California

Promotional Awareness


After I made my blog “pink” for Breast Awareness Month, I received a surprising email from someone who is against the whole concept of “awareness” month.  It seems as if there are quite a few people out there who think corporations are using their support of breast cancer for their own profit and brand awareness.  Are yogurt brands really interested in breast cancer or are they just marketing to women?  

From the blog  I Blame the Patriarchy:

But where’s the activism? The ostensible focus of all this pseudo-philanthropic pink jockeying is a kind of nebulous breast cancer ‘awareness’, rather than any serious effort at prevention or investigation into what actually causes breast cancer in the first place. Furthermore, once all this ‘awareness’ has produced, via mammography outreach programs or self-exam propaganda (both masquerading as ‘prevention’), a positive diagnosis, there’s not any great push to secure treatment for underserved women.

I don’t agree with this type of reasoning.   A lot of money is going to good use and all this corporate sponsorship is surely helping.  Or is it?

Politicians support virtually unopposable ‘bipartisan’ breast cancer funding initiatives as directed by behemoths like the massively influential and reactionary Komen Foundation and come out smelling like a rose. The rank and file, conditioned by now to believe that there’s no problem shopping can’t solve, are invited to feel virtuous and altruistic whenever they buy a Yoplait yogurt or a pink KitchenAid mixer.

My question for these naysayers:  would it be better if it were the other way — and there was no corporate sponsorship?  And isn’t this exactly what progressives have been asking for — for corporations to be more responsive to their consumers?  You think supermarkets (and Walmart) are completely altruistic because they have started to carry organic foods?  Or Starbucks carrying coffee from certain countries?  Of course they hope to make profits while doing some “good.”

But, I thank you, e-mailer, for opening my eyes to an interesting topic.

This mix of promotion and politics was on my mind last night when I thought about going to the movies by myself.   With Sophia in New York for October, I thought about finding the movie with the most sex in it.

I read about Shortbus, a film by the director of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which is supposed filled with actors having real-life sex.  Perfect!

Now, once upon a time, moviegoers used to go to pornographic movies because they were horny or wanted to have some fun.  Things are different today.  You buy Yoplait yogurt because they support breast cancer awareness.  And you go to a porno movie because it is anti-Bush.  I read this before heading out the door —

A US film featuring actors performing real sex is a “call to arms” against President George W. Bush, the director told journalists at the Cannes film festival.

“Shortbus,” an explicit, largely improvised arthouse flick is a direct provocation, director John Cameron Mitchell admitted.

“It’s a little bit of a cri de coeur to us, a little bit of a call to arms” against the prevailing conservatism, he told a media conference, adding that his country was living in “the era of Bush, which is about clamping down, being scared.”

The 43-year-old, whose previous work was “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” about a transsexual rock singer, said the film was his own small act of defiance against Bush.

“If you can’t do elections you might as well do erections,” he said.

Oh, I see.   So, now the Whole Foods crowd, doesn’t have to feel guilty about going to see a SEX movie.  They are going to see an anti-Bush film.  In fact, by going to see to this movie — it’s a vote against the administration.

Yogurt as a breast cancer awareness tool.   Dislike of George Bush as a reason to see people f***ing.

I decided against going to the movies.  I went to a local juice bar wearing my pink breast cancer bracelet, met a cute girl, and asked her if she wanted to come back to my place to “protest the policies of the current administration.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Survivor: Santa Fe

Almost Weekend Update

Just some random blogging updates before the weekend —

Sprint disconnected my Sprint Ambassador phone today.  So much for my pimping.  


I do, however, command respect from the Bunch O’Panties website.


I am on the shortlist to be reviewed by Bloglaughs, which is problematic because when I am expected to be funny, I just freeze up and become mean.   Dooce, maybe you can call me up and give me some advice.


Citizen of the Month has gone Pink for October.  Remember to donate to good causes, such as The Wellness Community of the South Bay.


I received one more bed today (a little behind schedule) from the talented artist, Margaret.  Now Maggie, I know some people like to keep their bedroom “romantic,” but how about putting a few lights in there?  How is a man ever going to see you naked in the dark?


Finally, did any of the “Yenta the Blogmatcher” matches work out?   I’ve noticed a few of you are now reading EACH OTHER rather than coming to me.  That’s fine.  I’m not going to go all yenta on you and give you some Jewish guilt.  Go, have fun.  Go to Vegas together and live it up.  I’ll just sit at home alone and write blog comments. 

Don’t worry about me.


And – be warned about future posts about loneliness and drug intake during the entire month of October.  Sophia is now going to be working in New York until November.

(Sophia Lansky)

But, on a positive note, because so many kind bloggers have reminded me to take my cholesterol medicine while Sophia was gone (particularly Leese and Akaky), my “bad” cholesterol has gone down to 190!


Life is good!


Why is Los Angeles So Ugly?

(photo by Supermod)

A few years ago, Sophia and I were driving through Northern California and ended up in a cafe in Carmel. We talked with a local resident, this gray-haired man, who complained about how stringent the community was in their building code. You couldn’t change the color of your roof without going through five committee meetings. I remember thinking this was so fascist, but I’m changing my mind today.


Because of all the beautiful photos you send me of the Fall leaves and trees that you found in your neighborhoods.

Most of you look like you live in pretty nice places. The question on my mind: Why is Los Angeles so ugly?

The answer: Los Angeles is just a chaotic mess, built together with no rhyme or reason. The city of Los Angeles could learn from Carmel. It needs stricter building and aesthetic regulations, and I nominate myself to be the Design Czar.

Here are the first three intitiatives as Los Angeles’ new Design Czar:

1) As Los Angeles Design Czar, I will take down 75% of all billboards.


I have a TV guide at home. I know what is on TV on Thursday night. I don’t need to have you remind me in my face with a billboard every five miles as I drive. I get enough advertising on TV and on the sidebars of YOUR BLOGS! What right do you have — ABC, or Cingular, or Bank of America — to stick messages in my face everywhere I go? Can a company legally own this air space? Can I put a billboard on my own house advertising “Citizen of the Month?”

Some billboards are fun, but they should be restricted to high traffic zones like the Sunset Strip or Hollywood Boulevard. But one day, I honestly hope that some pervert gets into an accident while looking at a slutty model in an American Apparel billboard — and then SUES both the city and American Apparel for causing the accident.


When Sophia and I were driving on the highway in the Berkshires, the first thing we noticed was — “No Billboards!”

Ugly, annoying, brain-numbing billboards — I am taking you down.

2) As Los Angeles Design Czar, I will require every mini-mall developer and landlord to submit every single design decision to ME because I don’t trust anything you do. Who builds these ugly pieces of crap?


I’m not one of those frou-frou people who can only bear to look at beauty, but these structures literally hurt my soul. It’s obvious that you need someone with a little creativity to monitor your work. From now on, everything will be ORGANIZED, color-coordinated, and easy to read — like a blog header. I know many of you landlords will plead poverty. You don’t have money to do anything pretty. I should just be happy that you are building something in the inner city. I say bulls**t! Being creative and aesthetically pleasing doesn’t require money.

Look at this —

(stock photo via Cruisin’ Mom)

Randy’s Donuts looks like it was made for twenty bucks worth of cement and Play-doh, but it says LA to me more than the twenty billion dollar Getty Center. It is funny, fake, but innocent in a loving way — now that is the Los Angeles we love! How about doing something fun?

Sorry, enough is enough. All mini-mall decisions now go through me.

3) As Los Angeles Design Czar, I will REQUIRE every business and every homeowner to have a REAL tree in front of their establishment or home — and no more palm trees.

(photo from Peggy Archer)

Homeowners will have to pay for the upkeep of the tree, or be fined. There will be a surcharge every time you register your car, in order for the county to plant a tree on the side of the freeway. I know there are all these “treehugger” types who like to voluntarily plant trees here and there and teach their kids about the environment. There’s no time for this feel-good liberalism. Take your kids to Whole Foods and show them the goat cheese. It’s time to get serious.

(Al Gore in an Inconvenient Truth)

There’s global warming. There’s the awful air quality of the Los Angeles basin.

I believe scientific fact:

Research has shown that trees can act as biological filters, removing large quantities of particles from the urban atmosphere (Broadmeadow et al., 1998, and Freer-Smith et al., 1997). As much as 234 tons per year in the Chicago, USA, area, a recent study showed (McPherson, et al., 1994). This is predominately due to their large leaf areas relative to the ground on which they stand, and the physiological properties of their surfaces – e.g. the presence of trichomes or waxy cuticles on the leaves of some species. Interception of particles by vegetation has been shown to be much greater for street trees due to their proximity to high intensities of road traffic (Impens and Delcarte, 1979).

Did you that 16% of HC emissions evaporative emissions that occur during daytime heating of fuel delivery systems of parked vehicles?

Evaporative emissions, as well as exhaust emissions during the first few minutes of engine operation are sensitive to local microclimate.

A simple solution: tree shade in parking lots. The California Air Resources Board came to conclusion after doing this experiment:

Two automated weather stations and instrumented passenger cars were located in unshaded and shaded portions of a parking lot in Davis, CA for a week in August 1997. Air temperature, solar and net radiation, wind speed and direction, and vehicle cabin and fuel tank temperatures were measured. Shaded surface area was approximately 30%, and canopy density was sparse and variable due to leaf drop. Peak daytime air temperatures at the shaded parking lot averaged 1 to 2°C cooler than the unshaded site. Temperature differences here are considered conservative due to the relatively sparse tree cover. Fuel tank temperatures of the shaded car were 2 to 4°C cooler than fuel tank temperatures of the unshaded car.

Larger temperature differences between fuel tanks of shaded and unshaded cars, compared to air temperature differences between shaded and unshaded lots, indicate that direct shading of the vehicle influenced fuel tank temperature (hence HC evaporation rates) as much as, or more than, the aggregate effect of trees on air temperature. Average vehicle cabin temperature was 26C cooler in the shaded vehicle for the period 1300 to 1600 PST.

Trees remove pollutants from the air. The leaves absorb gaseous pollutants—ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Not all trees are made equal for this job. There are some trees that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can ADD to a city’s pollution, including eucalyptus, liquidambar, sycamore, poplar, oak, black locust, and willow trees.

The following trees are the best in lowering ozone:

hackberry; white and green ash; Canary Island and Italian stone pines; shoestring acacia; maple; palo verde; camphor tree; Australian willow (Geijara parviflora); Chinese pistache; thornless mesquite; flowering pear; frontier, prospector, Chinese, and lacebark elms; and zelkova.

Despite the iconic symbolism of the palm tree, most of the tall Mexican Fan Palms are not native to the area.


They were planted for promotional reasons or for the first LA Olympics in the 1930s. After that, they became symbolic of LA.

“They have no ecological or environmental value whatsoever,” says Carmen Wolf, program director for the Theodore Payne Foundation, which operates a native California plant nursery. Organizations like Wolf’s and the California Native Plant Society say that because palm trees are not native to the region in most cases (with the exception of the California Fan Palm or the Desert Fan Palm), they are not only more susceptible to disease and rot, but also damaging to the native ecology.

Sure, palm trees are cool-looking, but THEY GIVE NO SHADE. There is a reason no one walks in LA. You can get heat stroke walking the streets. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some REAL TREES — even if the leaves don’t change as dramatically as in Vermont?

I’m a realistic person. Los Angeles is never going to become as historic as Paris. Los Angeles is never going to become as green as Yellowstone National Park. But it doesn’t have to be SO UGLY!

And that’s going to change RIGHT NOW — with me as the new Design Czar.

Of course, I haven’t been elected yet as Design Czar, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been voted in a mayor — and he seems to be interested in trees. He has started a program called “Million Trees LA.” Here’s what he says on the website:


“I have launched the Million Trees LA initiative; the plan is to plant one million trees over the next several years. This is a partnership between the City of Los Angeles, community groups, businesses and individuals like you, working together to plant and provide long-term stewardship of one million trees, planted all over the city with a focus on areas that need it most.

The trees will provide shade and save on energy costs, clean the air and help reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, capture polluted urban runoff and improve water quality, and add to the values of our lives.”

I’m not sure how serious this is being taken. Frankly, I read the LA Times every day and I never even heard of this inititative until today. But until I’m elected, it’s a start…

Thank YOU for inspiring me with all the beautiful photos of trees and fall leaves that you sent to me through email. I’m still waiting for a few more Fall photos from some bloggers, so I’ll post them all next week.

California owes you one for giving us a little bit of Fall. I’ll send word to Arnold.

Size 20


Fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier was controversial yesterday at his 30th anniversary show during fashion week in Paris.   Amidst all the size 0 models, Gaultier included one size 20 woman, wearing a sexy black corset.   Some writers have said that this is a positive development for the fashion industry, opening our eyes to different images of beauty.

I frankly think it is a gimmick, more of a joke at the expense of those wanting to ban “underweight” models from runways.   Everyone knows that size 20 is not going to be the norm for fashion models, so this is just a one-time gag.   It would have been a serious move to actually USE a size 12 or size 14 model, but no way — that would freak out the industry.   Here, everyone can play with the concept in a cute way, but not really do anything about it.

In other news, CNN, in a attempt to add more diversity to their broadcast, has signed a prominent African-American to read the news on Friday evening.


Donut Shop Redux (Now with Sprint Phone)


Six months ago, Sprint invited me to become part of the Sprint Ambassador program. I received the Samsung SPH-A920 phone and free service for six months.  Sophia, being my blog editor, received one as well.  They were interested in feedback and let’s be honest — me blogging about it (although this wasn’t a requirement).  I really like the phone — it has great sound quality — but Sophia LOOOVES the phone and the service, especially now that she is in NY, working as a Russian Dialect Coach par excellence on an independent film. Miss Lansky uses it all the time and is totally turned on by the fact that you can download music, watch TV and movies, read the NY Times, play Ms. Pac-Man, get talking walking directions, find restaurants, etc. all on one phone. Of course, if we had to PAY for all of this, we wouldn’t be able to eat.

Sophia, being Sophia, thinks we can wrangle our way into getting another SIX months with the phone. I told her it was a six month deal, and everyone seems to have gotten the same email recently that “time was up.” Sophia does not understand those words.

“Maybe if you had blogged about the phone more, Sprint would let you keep it.”

“How many times can I blog about it? I did blog about it.”

“You blogged about it ONCE — using the camera phone to take a photo of your c**k. That’s not the type of publicity Sprint wants.”

“The official phone of Neil’s…”

“That’s not funny. Write about them one more time. Maybe they’ll extend the term.”

“I’m not going to do that. My readers will see right through that. I’m always complaining about how bloggers are sell-outs. They’ll lose all respect for me.”

“How much “respect” do they really have for you anyway? You don’t think THEY would sell you out for some free phone service?”

“Never. Brooke maybe. But no one else.”

“Just do it for me. Just write about them one more time.”

Now, as most of you know, “pleasing a woman” is my middle name. So, since most of you didn’t read my story about the donut shop from a few days ago, I’m now going to rewrite it, showing you how much more of a better “experience” it could have been if my Sprint Ambassador Phone had played a bigger role in the story.


Near my home is a little independent donut shop. I’ve never seen one person inside other than the owner — a petite, middle-aged, Korean woman. After being woken up in the morning by the alarm on my Sprint Ambassador Phone, I went out to get something to eat. As I was driving, I decided I was in the mood for a donut. I used the Garmain GPS I downloaded onto the Sprint Ambassador Phone to lead me straight to my local donut shop. I went in, ordered a jelly donut and cup of coffee, and sat down at the bright orange, plastic, uncomfortable, table/chair thingamajig that’s bolted to the floor. I used my Sprint Ambassador Phone to read the New York Times and my favorite blogs on Bloglines. The donut and coffee were truly the worst coffee and donut I’ve ever tasted. As I sat eating my disgusting donut, the owner watched some infomercial on a 13″ TV sitting on the counter. I thought about downloading some tunes with my Sprint Phone, but I decided on watching the owner instead.

The infomercial was one of those get-rich-quick schemes:

“Use my stock market technique, and within two weeks, your two thousand will be two hundred thousand!”

As one “success story” after another gave his testimony, I could see the eyes of the donut woman widen. She was totally enraptured by what was being said. I made a voice recording on the Sprint Ambassador Phone reminding me to call the TV network and complain about them showing this type of crap on air, and I used the Sprint Ambassador Phone to email my attorney uncle in San Francisco about taking legal action against them.

I began to feel bad for this woman. She clearly had no talent in making either donuts or coffee. I used the Sprint Ambassador Phone to IM my friend at El Camino Community College to see if there was some type of “refresher course” this woman could take. This woman was probably losing all her money in this awful donut shop. I used the calculator on the Sprint Ambassador Phone to do “the numbers.” It looked bad. And this type of infomercial preys on a woman like this — someone who may be uneducated or part of an immigrant community. It is these innocent people who don’t realize that it is all a scam. I took a photo of the woman with Sprint Ambassador Phone so I would always remember the sad moment, and emailed Sophia a copy.

“I put two thousand dollars into the stock market, and soon I was able to quit my job,” said some overly-eager male voice on the television. “Now I don’t spend time behind a desk, but behind the wheel of my new yacht!”

I felt anger at this scam artist on TV, with this modern era three-card Monte swindle. (is it monte or Monte? I used the dictionary on on my Sprint Ambassador Phone to figure it out). I was so furious that I squeezed my donut with my hand, shooting some jelly onto my shirt and the Sprint Ambassador Phone (but the sturdy plastic is easily cleaned).

What was I to do? I had to warn her. I saw her writing some information on a piece of paper. Was she actually going to call these crooks?

I knew this really wasn’t my business, but I felt it was my duty to speak up. As an American citizen. As a Good Jew. I walked over to the counter. She pointed at the pile of donuts.

“Donut?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” I said. “I just wanted to tell you to be careful with these types of TV shows. They might look like real shows, but they are commercials. Don’t believe everything they tell you. You weren’t thinking of calling them up, were you?”

“Donut?” she asked again, being that it was the only English word she knew.

Luckily, I had my Sprint Ambassador Phone. I contacted Sarah, an Asian-languages professor at UCLA, and downloaded a English-Korean dictionary from the internet. I was able to explain everything to the woman in Korean, who revealed to me that she was about to invest her life savings with this crook. She was so grateful for my help that she offered me free donuts for life. I was honest and told her that her food needed improvement. I told her about this “Donut Shop” course they had at El Camino Community College. We quickly enrolled her online with my Sprint Ambassador Phone, grabbing the last spot in the class.

Meg (the donut owner’s name) now runs a chain of donut stores in Redondo Beach and is a great success. We also became lovers while Sophia was in New York. We send cutesy text messages to each other every day. Thank you Sprint Ambassador Phone. Think what else I could do with six more months of free service!

Class Trip


Remember years ago when parents used to take their kids to the zoo?   In Los Angeles, they do things differently.  This morning I went to Whole Foods to buy some orange juice.  There were about fifty mothers in the store, kids attached, and the kids were being given a “tour” of the store by a special Whole Foods docent guide. 


 I followed them around for a while and found the whole thing completely bizarre.  Even if the store was preparing the next generation of  soy-milk users, do little kids really care about this stuff?  Is it fun for them to see vegetables?  Will there be Whole Grain Happy Meal Toy next?


Docent Guide:  “This is called organic goat cheese.  Can you all say that — ORGANIC goat cheese?  You want to make sure you always ask for ORGANIC goat cheese, even thought it is much more expensive.  You don’t want to be like those poor Mexican children who eat REGULAR goat cheese, do you?”

Turning Over a New Leaf


I fasted today, but I didn’t go to temple for Yom Kippur.  I just didn’t feel like going.  On Yom Kippur, there is an important memorial service, and it would have been the first time going to the service for my father, and I just didn’t want to do it.  So, instead, I just broke all the rules.  I went to CVS pharmacy, bought myself a $3.99 disposable camera and walked to Hermosa Beach.  It felt very spiritual walking around the beach looking for photos to take.  Or then again, it could have just been hunger.

If you have any interest, you can see the photos here.  One warning:  the photos are not THAT interesting, and I’m not in any of them, so don’t get too pissed at making you do an extra click of the mouse for nothing.   If you’re never been this this part of the country, maybe you can get a sense of the “sleepy” beach community I’m living in right now. 


I’ve grown to like Southern California, but I find October depressing in the dry West.  I love FALL.  I love what it represents — a new beginning.  I think the time of the Jewish New Year makes a lot more sense than January 1st.   I love the change of the weather and the leaves and the new school year and the new TV season, and everything new that goes with Fall.  As I was taking my walk today, I realized that today’s weather in Los Angeles was not that much different than it was on July 4th!  Where’s the change? 

Most of my blogging friends do NOT live in California.  I know you sometimes laugh at us for being weird and electing actors to be governor, uh – TWICE.   But try to remember that the State of California has enhanced your life in many ways:  the birth of the internet, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, California Pizza Kitchen, and the word “gnarly.” 

Now it is your turn to pay us back —

Could someone help a Southern Californian who is homesick for Fall and email him a photo of a leaf or tree changing colors?

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Man in the Mirror

I Am a Camera


I’ve never been much of a photographer. I honestly think the problem is one of assertiveness. Taking photos of the world around you requires some chutzpah, some “balls.” To take a photo of a stranger, or even a tree requires you to step into the space of someone or something, and “take” an image for yourself. Even the the concept of “shooting” a photo sounds aggressive. This is the same type of anxiety that prevents me from kissing a woman on a first date. It just seems too forward.

Susan Sontag, in her famous book On Photography, wrote “To photograph people is to violate them… It turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed… Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.”

For most of my life, I have left the photography for others. My place was always sitting in the corner with a pad and pen. Now I say, “Phooey!” It is time for a change.

Yesterday, I opened up a Flickr account.

Can you believe that I’ve been blogging for over a year and have never investigated your Flickr pages? What fun. I’ve been stalking you all day. There you are! Photos of you. With your friends. With your family. Half-naked. What a treat to see you outside of your blogging lives.

I’ve already added a few of you as “contacts.” Don’t feel obligated to make me your contact. There is nothing of interest on my site as of yet. I don’t even own a digital camera. Can anyone suggest one in the $200 range? I took Alison‘s suggestion and tested a few models for the “feel” of the camera. I definitely like the bulkier ones with the grip.

One camera that clearly struck my imagination was the HP Photosmart R967.


This model is one of their new models that contains a “slimming feature” (via Big Fat Blog). After taking photo, you can use a slider on the camera to “instantly trim of pounds from the subjects in your photos!”



Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the aim of personal photography was to “capture” reality. I even remember learning in art history classes in college that Impressionism and Expressionism were direct reactions to the way photography could better show the real world than a painting. Don’t we expect a photo to somehow reflect reality? Isn’t it going to be weird showing the photos of your size-8 body when you’re standing there holding the photos in your size-14 body? Do you really want people to say to you, “You look wonderful in that photo even though I know it is mostly the camera’s slimming effect and in reality you are twenty-five pounds more! Is this the ultimate solution for our obesity problem — showing photos to each other of us looking thin and making believe it is “reality?” I can understand putting an old photo of yourself on, since no one really knows you there, but who are you going to be fooling with your slimmer personal photos? Your co-workers? Your mother? Yourself?

And what type of message are we giving our already anorexic-obsessed teenagers?

But who I am to stop modern technology and human vanity? Who doesn’t want to look better on film? I’d be a hypocrite to speak against photographic manipulation. Remember the time I “whitened my teeth” in Photoshop for my profile pic (see sidebar photo)? What’s wrong with wanting to look how you want to look?

With this new attitude, I went over to Circuit City to explore some of the other cameras with new features like that of the HP Photosmart R967. It was an eye-opening experience.

I was greatly impressed with the Canon PowerShot B900 and it’s brand new “colorizing” feature.


I’ve always thought that black people were much “cooler” than white people. I think that’s why so many white suburban kids love rap and “inner city” fashion. Wouldn’t it be great to show how “cool” you were to your friends — at least on film?

Here I am this morning. Pretty dull, huh?


Here I am after using the “colorizing” filter!


And it’s so easy!

The Nikon Coolpix N7 is perfect for the struggling Mommyblogger or Daddyblogger family.


Don’t you hate it when all you can afford is a cheap vacation to Legoland when your neighbors are taking the whole family to some resort in Maui? With just one click of Canon’s GWC (Great Wall of China) switch, impress your friends and neighbors.

Go from boring Legoland —


— to a family adventures in the mysterious Orient, right in the camera!


Finally, many of use our digital cameras for more personal pursuits. On Friday night, I was feeling a little alone, so I decided to email Charming But Single some photos I took of myself that I thought might “arouse” her interest. For some reason, I never heard back from her and she deleted me from her blogroll. But things would have been different if I had owned the exciting new Olympus SE-490.


This new Olympus contains the trademarked Expando-filter. It is absolutely brilliant. Now you can make any object larger with the click of a button.

Look at this photograph I took on one of my vacations. Nice, but not very impressive.


1-2-3 and presto!


With the Olympus, Friday night might have turned out very differently.

Ansel Adams, eat your heart out!

(tonight and tomorrow is Yom Kippur. If you celebrate the holiday, have an easy fast. My Yom Kippur post from last year is here).

« Older posts Newer posts »
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial