the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: August 2007 (Page 1 of 4)

Neilochka Blog Personality Type Indicator


Therapy has made me introspective. Who am I? What is my true identity?

The same can be asked about my blog. How do I categorize “Citizen of the Month?” What is really about? I rebel against simple categorization, like “humor blog” or “personal blog.” All of our blogs are a combination of many different “types.” I would hate to be pigeon-holed, and feel that I couldn’t write whatever I wanted to write. There must be a better way to decribe a blog? So, after eleven minutes of extensive thought, I have taken a page from the Myer Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and created the Neilochka Blog Type Indicator.

This ingenious indicator can help a blogger fully understand his own blog. By identifying a blogger’s strengths, the blogger can then decide to develop his strong points, or to explore themes out of his comfort zone.

I have isolated four main blogging types (or zones): Informational, Artsy, Silly, and Emotional. Each blog is usually a combination of all four.

Information: These blogs consist mostly of posts based on fact and information, whether it be politics, cooking, products for parents, fashion design, or gadgets.

Artsy: These blogs consist mostly of posts dealing with artistic exploration. These bloggers enjoy showcasing their poetry, photography, or writing community exercises like “Sunday Scribblings.”

Silly: These blogs focus on humor. Political humor steers closer to Information. Satire is closer to Artsy.

Emotional: Most personal blogs fall into this category, but some blogs are more “emotional” than others. The truly emotional blogs care less about the informational part of an event than the blogger’s own emotional state. If not tempered by information, art, or humor, these blogs can turn into emotional trainwrecks (believe me, I know).

Let’s try a blog as an example:

Example: Citizen of the Month

Citizen of the Month is an SEAI blog.

Most of the posts on Citizen of the Month are pretty silly (S), but there are also posts that focus on personal events, such as the Neil’s weepy relationship with Sophia (E). Many of these posts move into the realm of fantasy and fiction, and Neil has even written some very bad poetry (A). Finally, let’s be honest — Citizen of the Month contains very little practical information (I), so it goes last.

Citizen of the Month: an SEAI blog.

Want to be a successful blog?  Let’s look at Technorati’s number one blog of the moment, Engadget.

Engadget is an ISEA blog.

It is primarily a informational resource about the latest gadgets.  It is very strong with practical advice.  (I)  Unlike a stuffy technology article in the newspaper, it is written with the snarky humor that is popular online (S).  It is also written in the voice of an enthusiast.  You can imagine the geeky writers really caring about each new phone release, giving the blog a bit of emotional content, even if the posts aren’t about traditional personal things, like relationships or babies. (E).  Finally, despite the inclusion of product photos, this blog has zero artistic aims or content, strangely enhancing the popularity (A).

How would you categorize your blog?

Star Jones Looks Great!

Star Jones has a new show on Court TV and she’s looking fabulous!  (Do people still say that?  I’m new to the gossip blogging world)

the original Star Jones  12/06

Star Jones after gastric bypass surgery 1/07

Star Jones after facial reconstruction  3/07

Star Jones after “youth-ification” 5/07

Star Jones after extensive “smoothing” and “thin-sculpting” 8/07


(photo of Wilco concert by JMaloney on flickr)

One thought I had at the end of last night’s terrific Wilco concert at the Greek Theater is that everyone loves it when the object of desire is “hard to get.” No one likes a person too eager or too desperate. Why else all the encore shtick at every single concert?

Here’s the script. The band plays their last song and leaves, but the lights stay off. Everyone knows the band is coming back for another song or two, but first is the ritual wooing. The crowd stands and goes crazy, they clap in unison, lights flicker, girls scream “Encore! Encore!” and then — one by one — the band members return, almost as if they were caught in the middle of undressing, but decided to come back for one last song, out of the goodness of their heart, because the audience was crying for them.

So, when men don’t call you women back right away after a date, don’t blame the man — blame bands like Wilco. Where do you think we learned this technique of making you beg for our attention?

I really hope you all have enjoyed reading “Citizen of the Month” over the last two years. This will be my final post (not really).  I  have to go. Thank you, Blogosphere! I love you!

(you know what to do)

(you are going to call for an encore, right?)

(you know I’m just joking. I’m still blogging, but I will look like an ass if no one says “Encore!”)

(this really isn’t funny anymore)

(I bet you would say “Encore” for Dooce!)

(Hey, women actually throw their bras at Tom Jones! — not that I’m getting greedy)

And thanks, Danny for inviting me!

I’ve Learned to Hug


If you look at my archives from last year, you’ll notice that it was a dramatic week here at Citizen of the Month in 2006.  There was the wild “Blog Appreciation Day,” something which many of you participated in.  There was a post where I expressed my fear of meeting some of you, wondering if I should hug you or not.   And it was also moving week, where I moved back in with Sophia.

It is now a year later. Things change.

1)  I’m now going to move OUT.

2)  I don’t have the energy to do a big Blog Appreciation Day.  I’m in a much more mellow mood.  Of course, I greatly appreciate all my blogging friends, even if I don’t send you a photo of me reading your blog.  Let me postpone the big day for a month.  I don’t like to end traditions.

3)  Most importantly — I have overcome my fear of life-long fear of hugging strangers!  Last week, I went to a blog reading AND Secret Agent Josephine‘s art show, and I just hugged everyone — men, women, child, and dogs.   I even hugged LvGurl before I was even sure who she was. Something has happened to me over the past year — I have become a hugging machine.

Tonight, Danny invited me to see Wilco at the Greek Theater.  I have to remember to hug him.

By the way — I did end up buying a print done by Secret Agent Josephine, but I still have to pick it up from the gallery. Here is the original sketch to give you an idea of what it looks like.  Isn’t it perfect for me? — A dog with glasses surfing for pornography on his laptop!


The Wizard of Therapy


Neil: So, it’s therapy session #3. Have you seen any changes in me yet?

Therapist: Absolutely. I think we can wrap things up today.

Neil: We can? You mean after three sessions, I’m cured of all of my neuroses?

Therapist: I like to take a different approach to therapy. Some therapists keep their patients on a short leash for years. I like to hear the patient’s story, come up with a solution, and quickly cure him.   In and Out,  like the burger joint with the Christian messages on the burger wrappers.

Neil: Wow. I’m so lucky that I randomly picked you out of the phonebook.

Therapist: Let’s get started. The clock is ticking.

Neil: I’m ready. Tell me what my biggest problem is.

Therapist: Well, #1 is that you think too much. By over-analyzing everything, you never come up with an answer.

Neil: I knew it! I’m terrible at making choices. Which job to take? Which restaurant to eat in? Where to live? Even when I meet a woman, I’m never sure if I should become her good friend or try to get in to her pants?

Therapist: How much education do you have?

Neil: I have a masters degree.

Therapist: Exactly. There’s your problem in a nutshell! Scientific research from Johns Hopkins has proven that each additional year of education screws you up a little bit more. That’s why so many professors are hospitalized for nervous breakdowns.  But the solution is really easy.

Neil: It is?

Therapist: Yes. And that’s why I’m going to give you this —

My therapist reaches into her filing cabinet and pulls out an official-looking piece of paper with a red-ribbon seal.

Neil: What’s this?

Therapist: This is an official notice from the New York Public School System showing that you dropped out of junior high school. I want you to hang this on your wall and look at it every day. From now on consider yourself less educated, maybe even a little dumb. From now on, you aren’t much smarter than a fifth grader! But you’re happier.  So go and enjoy life!

Neil: Well, thanks. I DO feel better. Like I took a handful of Prozacs. I just feel a little numb, like I can’t find the right words, as if my vocabulary… like, uh, like…

Therapist: Perfect!

Neil: I appreciate this, but I still don’t feel “cured.” I’m still hurting… in my heart.  What if this is the end of my relationship with Sophia? Even those who dropped out of junior high school can still feel emotional pain and loneliness.

Therapist: Of course. Loneliness can be a serious problem. But there is a solution for that, too.  Back where I come from, the great state of Kansas, there used to be many lonely people, including many men like yourself. But things changed when this came out —

My therapist reaches into her filing cabinet again and pulls out a laminated card, which she hands to me.

Neil: A free 30-day trial to Skinflix DVD rentals?

Therapist: They deliver the movies right to your home. You never have to be embarrassed again renting “Topless Pirate Women of the Caribbean.”

Neil: Hmm… I’m missing Sophia less and less already…

Therapist: Is there anything else on your mind before we wrap up your therapy?

Neil: I guess the only other part of my life that is frustrating is my blogging.

Therapist: Yes, I read your blog. Very funny. I love that talking c*ck!

Neil: Yeah, yeah, people seem to like the blog OK, but it has never really reached “superstar” status. Too many powerful mommybloggers ignore me, thinking me sophomoric.  Dooce doesn’t know who the hell I am.  And even someone like Crazy Aunt Purl gets 20x more comments than I do — and all she does is write a blog about knitting!  I would think that in the scheme of things, a talking Penis should win over a bunch of yarn! Life isn’t fair.

Therapist: Your problem is that you lack confidence.

Neil: I know. I know. I’m always telling myself that. I wish I were one of those super-confident guys like Dave at Blogography or Mr. Fab. You never see them complaining that their stats take a dive on the weekend when no one is busy searching for photos of “Britney Spears crotchless.”

Therapist: Confidence is easy. You just have to attain it. Do you think a lion is born with courage? Of course not. What you need is this —

My therapist reaches into her filing cabinet and pulls out a colorful banner.

Therapist: Scan this and put this in the sidebar of your blog.


Neil: Yes… I like it, but WHO exactly voted for this?

Therapist: Ha Ha. Who cares? People believe any crap they read online!

Neil: You’re right! I’m feeling more confident already.

Therapist: And I like it. Women like a man who is confident.

She looks at her watch.

Therapist: Oops. Time is up. You’re cured!

Neil: Hey, do you have another appointment now?

Therapist: I’m done for the day.

Neil: Since I’m not your patient anymore, how ’bout we order some fish tacos — then sit on the couch together and make out?

Therapist: Just what the doctor ordered!

Funny Foreign Names

Ha Ha, what’s funnier than a foreign name that sounds somewhat salacious?!    Sophia had a job in Orange County, so we stayed over at the Doubletree.  We received two phone calls for “His-Wong,” making us think that some Bart Simpson-type kid in Newport Beach was playing phone pranks on the unsuspecting tourists coming to see Disneyland. 

It didn’t occur to us, until today, that this was the name of the previous guest.

Hilarity ensued!


Please note:  I don’t usually go for this cheap ethnic humor, but I once was in Hong Kong and I was sitting at a shared table eating some noodles, and some young Chinese guys were laughing at the way I was holding my chopsticks.  So, consider this payback!

Burned by Coffee


It’s one of the oldest stories — a guy or gal has a big date that night, so she looks into the mirror, and sees a huge zit! Horrors!

I don’t have a zit, but it looks like I have a cold sore. But I DON’T HAVE A COLD SORE! It just looks like a cold sore. What I have is the aftermath of a coffee burn on my lip. Honestly!

Tonight, I’m going to see Secret Agent Josephine‘s gallery show of dog paintings. She is a popular California blogger and many other bloggers will be there. And I mean glamorous female bloggers. I will be meeting most of them for the first time, and what will be the first thing they will notice — my coffee burn! And they will think it is a cold sore. And they will write about it in their blogs tomorrow:

“Secret Agent Josephine’s show was a big success. Many bloggers were there. Lovely Whoorl was there with her beautiful baby. Therapy-going Neilochka was there also, with his cold sore.”

It is NOT a cold sore. It is a coffee burn.

As a preventive measure, I think it is essential that I tell you how I got this coffee burn on my lip. After I tell you this story, you will realize that I am telling the truth:

A few weeks ago, a local independent filmmaker emailed me. He said he liked my blog and wanted to talk to me about possibly putting together some story pitches together for a producer. We met, liked each other, and decided to give it a try. After a week, we didn’t accomplish much more than coming up with a few titles stolen from other movies.

Not from the makers of “Knocked Up,” It’s “Knocked Off!”

Yesterday, we decided to meet at his home and finally get to work. For eight hours we hashed out story ideas, in between drinking lots of coffee and playing Trivial Pursuit. By the end of the day, we were exhausted. On the way home, I felt my eyes closing as I was driving on the freeway (we live 45 minutes apart). I decided to pull off and get myself a cup of coffee. I was happy to notice an In-N-Out Burger down the block. If you are unfamiliar with this chain, it is because they are mostly on the West Coast. They are my favorite local burger joint. Unlike the bigger fast-food chains, they make their burgers fresh. Although it can take twice as long to get your burger than at McDonald’s, the hamburgers actually taste like meat.

I ordered a cheeseburger with onions, and a cup of coffee. I couldn’t wait to eat that burger! I don’t have fancy tastes. Although I enjoy all types of food, nothing is as comforting as a hamburger, a slice of pizza, a bagel, or a good tuna fish sandwich. I picked up my newly-made burger from the high school kid behind the counter, sat down at one of the faux 1950’s plastic booths and dove in!

Thank you Harry and Esther Snyder, creators of In-N-Out!

From Wikipedia:

In-N-Out’s first location was opened on October 22, 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder at the northwest corner of what is now the intersection of Interstate 10 and Francisquito Avenue in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park, California.

All ethnic groups take pride in the accomplishments of their own. African-Americans are proud of Barack Obama. Asians appreciate that Daniel Dae Kim is considered a sex symbol on Lost. Jews are no different. Even my mother knows that Spock’s Vulcan sign is something he saw at an orthodox synagogue as a child.

“I knew Spock was Jewish,” my mother used to say. “He was the smart one.”

Unfortunately, the Jewish community is somewhat ashamed of William Shatner.

Harry and Esther Snyder: clearly mishpucha (Yiddish for family). To me, McDonald’s is Church of Scotland (McDonald’s), Wendy’s is Presbyterian, and Jack-in-the-Box is Roman Catholic, with “Jack” running the show from his Vatican-like headquarters.

In-N-Out is Jewish.  Harry and Esther Snyder?  I actually have an aunt and uncle named Harry and Esther.

I sometimes wondered if they know I’m Jewish, too, which would explain why their service people are so nice to me. Whenever I order a burger, the worker at the register always smiles at me with a knowing look and asks “Would you like some onions with that?” in the same caring tone that my mother uses when she asks if I would like an extra matzo ball in my soup during Passover.

In-N-Out hamburgers are very cleverly wrapped, with two pieces of waxed paper folded around the burger to prevent spillage. I quickly ate half of my burger and then started drinking my coffee, remembering that my original reason for stopping here was to get some coffee, not to eat a cholesterol heavy burger. As I took a sip from my coffee cup, I noticed something very unusual written on the bottom of the outer hamburger wrapper:

Revelations 3:10.

WTF? Revelations 3:10?! New Testament messages on my burger wrapper at my favorite Jewish burger chain?


My brain went into overload, unaware that I was about to take another sip of burning hot coffee, and mistakenly missed my mouth. Instead, I spilled the scalding liquid right on my lip, later causing a blister.


It turns out Harry and Esther Snyder are not mishpucha, but Christian fanatics who put weird Bible messages on their products and then purposely give extra hot coffee to their non-Christian customers.

Would I make this story up? It is a coffee burn that I have, not a cold sore!

From Wikipedia (why did I never notice this before?):

In-N-Out prints discreet references to Bible verses on their paper utensils. The print is small and out of the way, and only contains the book, chapter and verse numbers, not the actual text of the passages. The practice began in the 1980s during Rich Snyder’s presidency, a reflection of the Christian beliefs held by the Snyder family.

Burger and cheeseburger wrappers

Revelation 3:20—”Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”

Beverage cups and antenna toppers

John 3:16—”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Milkshake cups

Proverbs 3:5—”Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Double-Double wrapper

Nahum 1:7—”The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”

Paper water cups, or “R-9’s”

John 14:6—”Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Next time, I’m going to Canter’s Jewish Deli for my coffee.

Therapy Break

I need to take a day or two break from my “washing machine” story because I spent some time writing it today and it is turning into a twenty page emotional mess about all sorts of topics — manhood, my father, film school, Sears customer service, sexuality, and Diet Coke. And the story isn’t funny at all. I think my two weeks of therapy is already screwing with my mind, making me more emotionally unstable than when I first walked in there.

Yesterday, during my second therapy session, I talked to my new therapist about my blog, and now I’m feeling a little self-conscious for even bringing it up. What if she’s reading it? Why is it OK that my mother reads my blog, but knowing that my therapist is reading “Citizen of the Month” is giving me performance anxiety?

During our session:

Therapist: “Is it like MySpace?”

Neil: “No, it’s a regular blog.”

Therapist: “And what do you write about?”

Neil: “Just different stuff.”

Therapist: “Interesting And how do people find you?”

Neil: “If you search my name you could easily find it. Uh…”

Therapist: “What?”

Neil: “No, nothing. I just didn’t expect to be talking about my blog. It’s not… well, I guess it IS a big part of my life. It’s just sometimes I write some fantasy stuff. Sex stuff. It’s all in good fun. Just in case you ever read it, you should know, it’s not really me. Well, it IS me. It’s just that I even… (nervously) ha ha… wrote a post about you… uh, imagining you before the first session… and… uh…”

Therapist: “You did?”

Neil: “Well, I have this gimmick, where… you see, I talk to my Penis, and…”

The therapist made a notation in her book. And then underlined it.

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