the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Accepting Gifts


My father was a generous man, but he didn’t enjoy accepting gifts.  He was the eldest of three brothers and always felt like the “responsible” one.  Because of this, I stopped giving gifts to him after I graduated elementary school.  Now I am thinking it had nothing to do with him being responsible, but rather with his inability to accept from others without feeling uncomfortable.  I must say that I’ve been partially afflicted with the same malady, so a special thank you to Sophia and all of you for giving me this wonderful shock treatment.

I’ve gotten great joy from the cards and gifts that you sent to me for my Sophia-created birthday extravaganza.   This must be what a minor celebrity feels like.  I hear that there’s still more booty waiting for me at Danny’s house that I haven’t even seen yet, so if I don’t thank you just yet, it’s not that I’m rude, but that I haven’t seen what you sent yet.

So far, the cards and gifts that I have seen have been more than wonderful — they will help me become a better blogger.    This is because what I received are things every blogger needs.   In fact, they perfectly fit in to the categories of “The Twelve Necessities of Power Blogging,” an idea I set forth in my upcoming book, “The Blogger’s Secret:  How to Blog and Make Zero Dollars.”

1)  Every blogger needs links, both for ego-gratification and to prove to your spouse that what you are doing is “important.” 

And what is the real-world equivalent of seeing a new link on Technorati?   Receiving a birthday card! So, thank you, Two Roads, Alexandra, Question Girl, Becky, Noel, Lefty, Nelumbo,  Leezer, Rhea, Eileen, Jocelyn, Irina, Michele, Bella, Don’t Call Me Sir, Zoely, Claire (with bookmark!), Postmodern Sass,  and Colorful Prose.

2)  Every blogger needs material to steal from.  

Where would blogging be without cutting and pasting from other writers? 

Thank you for all the excellent reading material I can steal post ideas from!   I can’t wait to read the books (thank you, Communicatrix for “Red Pez”, Everyday Goddess for “Snowflakes,”  Karl for the funniest book he’s ever read, Old Lady of the Hills for “Free to Choose,” Lynnster for “Blog Marketing,” and Nancy French for “Red State.”), the comic books (thank you, Richard), the magazine SUBSCRIPTIONS!  (thank you, Mr. Fabulous for Mental Floss, NSC for The National Review [were you and Sophia in cahoots?], Buzzgirl for Popular Science, Leesa for The New Yorker, Jurgen Nation for the Writer), and even newspaper SUBSCRIPTIONS! (thank you, Hilly for the Los Angeles Times).

3)  Every blogger needs something cool to write on. 

I write by hand, so I appreciate the very useful and beautiful notebooks (thank you Deezee, PocketCT, and Blundering American).   And what could be better to write with than a pencil from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (thank you, Ash).   The pencil will always remind me NOT to cut off my ear when I am frustrated with typing in those codes on Blogger sites.

4)  Every blogger needs exercise. 

Sitting all day in front of the computer is bad for you health.   Thank you for the Kundalini Yoga DVD (Kapgar) and the pedometer (Albert).  I’m hoping that yoga will help me do some of those crazy sexual positions you always read about where the man is holding the woman upside down with his toe.

5)  Every blogger needs nourishment, particularly the essential nutrients in candy and beer.

Hello, amazing chocolate from the best shops in Belgium.   Good-bye Hershey’s from Kmart!  (thank you, V-Grrrl and Javacurls).  I love me some delicious homemade candy (thanks Fresh New Hell).  Chewing gum is always good to clear the mind (thanks Spinning Girl).  And a big woo-hoo for the beautifully packaged bottles of Chicago’s best beer! (thank you, EEK)

6)  Every blogger needs to be stylish.

No matter how good a writer you are, no one will accept you as a “real” blogger unless you have the right “look.”  Top bloggers are now hiring fashion consultants to create an image for themselves, like “The Chic Knitting Blogger.”  Luckily, I have YOU to help me create a unique blogger fashion statement.   I like to present myself as a pseudo-intellectual, one who dabbles in bohemian poetry.  That’s why I’m so excited to get my own wool scarf, lovingly hand-knit by famed LA ukulele player/bitchin’ knitter, Ellen Bloom (thank you, Ellen).   Not only will the scarf be trendy as hell at poetry readings, but it has already kept me warm here in rainy Portland.  

Since my blog is popular with hipsters and hardcore rappers, it is important that I maintain my “street cred.”   On the street, we like to wear t-shirts celebrating cool cities, but NEVER the city that you actually live it.  That would be as lame as admitting that you listened to Vanilla Ice.   Now, I can sit at Starbucks with my laptop winning approving nods from the chick as they check out my t-shirts from Detroit Rock City (thank you, Alissa and Evan), Latin-infused Miami (thanks, Orieyenta), and Milwaukee (thank you, Psychotoddler).

Fashion today is all about “branding,” and I have — what else — started my own line of “Kramer” baseball caps.  (thank you, Pearl for the cool cap– and your poem, of course)

When I’m not out on the town, I’m home blogging in my old purple bathrobe.  Since there was a bit of dispute with Sophia over this bathrobe, I’m glad to say that I now have a BRAND NEW purple bathrobe!  How generous.  (thank you, Deanna).  And the matching handmade washcloth goes perfectly with the bathrobe.  (thank you, Katie).

Even my Penis got some attention from you, thanks to this shirt that I will proudly wear the next time I have a big interview (see above photo). (thank you, Mo)

7)  Every blogger needs creative inspiration.

There are those days when you just draw a blank and need to look at some artwork to give you a jolt.  Now I have my Muses - sexy, creative women in touch with their inner Athena.  I feel honored to hang your artwork on my bedroom wall (thanks Margaret and Stepping Over Junk).   I have a beautiful homemade quilt to now hang next to my computer (thank you, Caron).  I will cherish the photos of budding professionals and hang them in the living room.  (thank you, Finn).  And thank you, Nance, for that very personal literary journal from your school.

8)  Every blogger needs music to listen to while he blogs.

My musical taste is pretty pedestrian, ruined by my years of listening to Casey Kasem’s America’s top 40.   Now I have a homemade “blogging CD” containing the hippest music from Europe.  A Lou Reed song in French — now I’ve heard it all!  (thank you, Lauren)

9)  Every blogger needs to love technology and gadgets.

You never know when Spielberg is going to call wanting to turn your blog into a 300 million dollar film starring Leonardo DeCaprio as YOU.  That means your cell phone always has to be ready for action.  Now it can be with my new emergency phone charger!  (thank you, A Take on the World)

10)  Every blogger needs to have a sense of humor.

Blitz Kreig’s “gag gift” was hilarious.  He sent me a tool set!   It was a joke, right?   Before I use it, you will have to fly out here and tell me what a “tool” is.

11)  Every blogger needs distractions.

Blogging is strenuous work.  Even a professional like me needs to take some time away from the rat race of the blogosphere and unwind.  I love taking a long walk from my office chair to my living room couch to watch movies on DVD.  I’m looking forward to watching “The Illusionist.”  (thank you, blog date Tamar).    Sometimes, a movie isn’t enough and a blogger wants some human interaction.  That’s why I really appreciate getting that one bar of soap shaped like a breast with a nipple.  (thanks, Doris)  This is one of the first times in my life that I am hoping that someone sends me an exact duplicate of a birthday gift.  

12)  Every blogger needs good luck.

One link from Dooce and your career is set.  One photo of you naked with Paris Hilton will get you on Gawker.  From then on, you will be a blogging hero and 1% of the population will know your name.   I believe in luck.  That’s why I was so excited to get lottery tickets from other states and countries (thank you Daisy and Better Safe than Sorry).

Now, I know many of you have taken a liking to Sophia, perhaps even loving her more than me.  I don’t want to sound jealous or anything, but I want you to read the following as proof that I am the one who is truly on your side —

(after opening an envelope with a lottery ticket)

Neil:  “Look at this.  A lottery ticket from Canada!”

Sophia:  “How funny.”

Neil:  “Imagine if I actually won millions of dollars.  I could share it with everyone who sent me a card or gift.”

Sophia:  “Like **&% you will!”

See?…  Who loves you, baby?  It’s ME, not HER.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Carnival of Neilochka, including blogging pals Jules , Roberta, Ascender, and Introspectre.

THANK YOU Ms. Sizzle and Dave for your greetings at Tequilacon.

And Special Love to Danny, Colleen, and of course — Sophia.

(all links will be added later, you link whores.  I have no patience right now.  I’m supposed to be on vacation!)

One Month Later:  Happy now?


  1. Leesa

    I sent The New Yorker 🙂
    Happy Birthday!

  2. Pearl

    I think I speak for all of your blogging friends the world over, and for Sophia and Danny (in a most special category of their own), when I say that we were very happy to be able to make you happy…and celebrate YOU, not just your birthday. And when Colleen added to your birthday fun, we were right there with her.
    You have to let us know what Mama Elaine had to say about all this… “My son — the most popular blodger in the world!” 🙂

  3. brandon

    yikes! i feel particularly horrible reading this because i think i may have stolen sofia’s scarf on saturday.

    my comment from yesterday was eaten by your blog security, so i just wanted to reiterate that it was very disappointing to meet you and find out that i actually enjoyed the presence of your company. i now have no reason to return to the blogosphere and carry on the struggle against you. sofia, of course, was an utter delight. i told alex how she recognized why i wear my wedding ring on my right hand. alex of course, was only interested in hearing what the two of you taste like. sigh.

  4. Hilly

    You are more than welcome! You deserve it. My only hope is that you and Sophia will meet me for brunch soon, and bring that paper with you 😉

  5. NSC

    You’re very welcome, Neil. It’s a good thing I sent it too — it will take some good writing to wash all the New Yorker stuff out of your mind 🙂

  6. Karl

    So happy to have met you, Neil. You’re as much fun in person as on your blog, which is a very pleasant surprise. I don’t know how you pulled it off, actually.

    And you’re welcome for your present. I wish I could be a fly on the wall and hear you laughing as you read that book.

  7. ms. sizzle

    how was the lesbian cupcake? (no, that isn’t a euphemism.)

    even though i have a major girl crush on your lovely wife, you’re still my main squeeze (squeeze of the tush, that is).

    when i visit LA i am making you guys hang out with me. 🙂

  8. alissa

    what fantastic and fun gifts! I’m glad you’re enjoying your t-shirt, seriously, no one will mess with you when you wear a Detroit tee!

  9. tamarika

    Thanks for the thanks. And now relax and have fun on vacation with your lovely and very expressive Sophia!

  10. Neil

    Thanks, Leesa. I hope the New Yorker will help me become a more pretentious blogger.

  11. Neil

    And to everyone else, I’m sorry I’ve been such a bad blogger. We’re leaving Portland tomorrow… but we still have the long drive back… which will take a couple of days, with more exciting blog meet-ups ahead…

  12. Ellen Bloom

    Yeah, well enjoy that wool scarf while you’re up north, Neil. It’s 90 degrees in L.A. today!

  13. Mad William

    It was a honor to meet the President of blogging. The First Lady was a delight.
    Enjoy the drive south.

  14. Blitz Krieg

    You’re welcome Neil. Yes it was a “gag gift”. Tool, penis, gag. Somehow they are all related. If you need direction, please ask. I’m the master of handling my tool.

  15. Not Faint Hearted

    link whore???!!! LMAO.

    I’m glad you are enjoying your extended birthday. It seems to me that this is the way life ought to be celebrated. With extended and extensive well wishing from people who have never met you. 😉

  16. Eileen

    I am so glad to hear that your birthday was such a hit.

  17. Alexandra

    That really is a lot of stuff-wow! It was wonderful to meet you two and I’m wishing you a great trip back to L.A. where I hope I’ll see you both again.

  18. Saddam

    I’m newly arrived in the Underworld so I don’t even know how birthdays are celebrated here. I use to force everyone to show up for my parties under threat of execution but I’m a total softy now and I just want to love and be loved. Happy belated birthday!

  19. Dagny

    Glad to see that others had the same gift in mind that I did.

  20. churlita

    I think mine is one of the ones waiting for you at Danny’s house.

    When do you guys get back to L.A.?

  21. V-Grrrl

    I feel so special. Now I’m going to go out and get a t-shirt made that says,
    “Who’s yo’ link whore, baby?” on the front. You can wear one that says “Who’s yo’ blog pimp?”

  22. Ash

    Hey, glad you liked the pencil 🙂

  23. Jazz

    If you win the Canadian lottery, you’ll have way less than a million, so you might as well keep it, there won’t be enough to go around.

  24. orieyenta

    Wow – what a birthday you’ve had! I’m glad that Little Orieyenta and I were able to play a small part in it.

  25. kapgar

    And, like I said, I want blog evidence of your use of the yoga stuff I sent you.

    I think I may’ve chosen that because I just finished a freelance job for a yoga studio at the time. Hmmm…

    Happy healthy birthday, BTW.

  26. Jill


    Check and check. Thanks you mind boggling brilliant boy.

  27. Nance

    …and let’s not hear how you donated it all to charity and went to live with a bunch of Tibetan monks now, hear?

  28. better safe than sorry

    hope you were lucky and you’re welcome.
    i can’t help but wonder about sophias motives on arranging all of this and keeping it a secret from you and then dragging you away from the computer so you couldn’t blog about it. it might be a test, so watch it, cuz she’s clever and sneaky;)

  29. Caron

    You are ever so welcome!

  30. Ariel

    Aw, how sweet! Radom acts of kindness are a good thing methinks. Far too rare but a good thing indeed.

  31. Mo

    🙂 I definitely agree that you should wear that shirt to your next interview. They should know they get one man and one legend for the salary of one. Who can put THAT on their resume?

  32. deezee

    Apparently the gift of my earlier comment was denied, for it was munched twice by your site. Should I take that as a hint?

  33. Zen

    And every blogger needs comments from random people wishing them Happy Birthday 🙂

  34. psychotoddler

    Milwaukee, Minneapolis, what’s the difference

  35. Neil

    Psychotoddler — I knew that! My apologies… travelling is causing my brain to slow down…

  36. Jessica

    Wait…so it’s a link from Dooce that I need? Well, sh*t – I thought it was a photo taken with YOU…why the hell did I go all the way to Portland?!

  37. sandra

    Crap! I totally spaced on sending — but I’m SO behind the birthday thing. Do we still get to be friends?

  38. Akaky

    You know, Neil, I feed bad now, cuz I didnt send you anything.

  39. Kanani

    My belated birthday greetings, however, it wasn’t until ExPat Jane marched me over to your site that I knew you about your wit. Slay me.

    And don’t forget this:

    13. Every blogger needs a donut in case #4 is not possible.

    14. To avoid #13, every blogger needs a good drink to circumvent these! (Good lord, I see enough internet techs in our clinic!!)

  40. wendy

    Hey Neil and Sophia…are you lost?? WHHHHEEERRREEE are you? Don’t you know its not safe to take a trip without your orange locator whistle?? Do I need to send out a search party….here’s a hint..go pretty much staight down California. Home is almost to Mexico.

  41. Javacurls

    Happy to hear you enjoyed the chocolate! There is NO way you can go back to K-mart Chocolates now!

  42. Mariana

    Happy belated birthday

    Still waiting for those links…

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