the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: November 2007 (Page 2 of 2)


This is going to be one of those weird posts where I am going to reveal something about myself by showing you my original post that I deleted, and then explain why I deleted it.

Original post, 6AM:

I know most women just want their man ready and willing 24 hours a day, but sometimes even we aren’t in the mood. Normally, I like to get down and dirty with you and reveal all, but I had a really good therapy session yesterday, and it’s still simmering in my brain, like a pot of stew. Would it be OK if we just cuddle today?

Note from Neil, 6:06AM:

After pressing the publish button, I quickly unpublished it. Why? Do you really want the honest answer? Because I want you to think that I am ready and willing 24 hours a day. Isn’t that a man’s job?

Therapist’s Inner Voice, 6:10AM

Why do you feel the urge to talk about cuddling? Do you feel the need to reveal weakness?

Neil’s Talking Penis, 6:12AM

Stop being a wimp and proving that you are non-threatening. You saw her on Flickr. If Ms. Blogger XXXX didn’t live east of XXXX, you wouldn’t mind f***ing her on the table right now.

Therapist’s Inner Voice, 6:14AM

Why did you feel the urge to write that? They know you have a c**k. You don’t need to remind them.

Note from Neil, 6:20AM

I really just wanted to cuddle until I was ready to talk about therapy.

Neil’s Talking Penis, 6:21AM

There’s only one therapy that will take care of that.

Therapist’s Inner Voice, 6:223AM

You don’t have to make jokes all the time.

Note from Neil, 6:25AM

I wasn’t.

Peace Offering to the Lovers of The Olive Garden

If you’ve been blogging for a period of time, you are bound to write a post that rubs people the wrong way.  You will receive angry emails or insulting comments.  I’ve seen bloggers quit because of all the conflict.   I’ve been lucky, mostly because no one really cares about my opinion.   There are a few times I thought I wrote something “controversial,” about race, for instance, and I was up all night, biting my nails, wondering if someone was going to write a comment like:

“You’re a racist pig.  You suck.  Your blog sucks.  And your penis sucks.  I’m never reading this blog again, and I’m telling everyone to never read it again, too.”

Of course, these comments rarely show up when I expect them to.   As much as I try to be a loud-mouth Bill O’Reilly type, nobody ever seems to want to take me on.  The posts that attract the most negative attention are the dumbest posts possible, the ones I wrote in ten minutes while wearing my underwear at 1 AM.  

On December 5, 2005, I described my first experience eating at The Olive Garden.  It was a relatively minor post in my oeuvre.  The “plot” revolved around a moral discussion I had with Sophia over “sharing” some of the salad she was going to order of the chain’s all-you-can-eat soup and salad, since she wasn’t going to eat too much of it herself:

“Sounds good,” said Sophia. We can get one unlimited soup and one unlimited salad, and we can share it. They even give you unlimited breadsticks. I think I’m beginning to like this place.”

“Sophia, I don’t think you understand. Each unlimited soup and each unlimited salad is for one person only.”

“What do they care if we share it?”

“Because then what’s to stop ten people from coming in here and ordering one unlimited soup and one unlimited salad and just sharing it all together.”

“That’s ridiculous. Besides, it doesn’t say anywhere, “no sharing.””

“Olive Garden cannot stay in business if everyone shares the same unlimited soup.”

As you may notice, I was the “good cop” in this story, defending the sacred rights of The Olive Garden to limit sharing.   In the course of the post, I made a few jabs at the restaurant, mostly about the “authenticity” of the chain restaurant’s food and ambiance — but nothing very threatening.  At the time of the post, the restaurant chain had a commercial on TV where some Italian-American family brings their grandma straight off the plane from Italy — to Olive Garden — and Grandma feels right at home, even though I doubt her local trattoria in Sicily gives a guest one of those grimy “buzzers” that vibrate when your table is ready.

Despite it all, I rated the Olive Garden soup and salad as “pretty good.”  I even made a list ranking chain restaurants, and Olive Garden came in as my #2 chain restaurant!

The Cheesecake Factory
Olive Garden
El Torito
TGI Friday’s
Outback Steakhouse
Red Lobster
Pizza Hut

So, the question remains – why all the hate?  For two years now, I’ve been getting comments and emails angry about my opinion of Olive Garden, as if I attacked Jesus himself.  I don’t know who these people are, or WHY they are so passionate about the Olive Garden.

Is it possible that people are finding my post on Google?  It does come in as #8 when you search “Olive Garden.”   But why all the insults?   Are these frustrated servers?  Or is it management doing ego searching?  There seems to be a lot of pent up anger about everything to do with the Olive Garden… and it is all being taken out on me.

This is a comment from TX OG server –

Supposedly we make the rest in tips… but cheap asses come in and run us into the ground with soup and salad refills and then leave a dollar… so we really don’t make enough to live on.   Thanks, it’s assholes like you that don’t tip, that perpetuate poverty among single mothers who can not do anything but wait tables for a living because they didn’t learn any useful skills before the man who lied to them and told them to have kids, up and left and never has to pay child support because the government doesn’t pursue deadbeat fathers if it’s too difficult because he’s out of state and doesn’t work but commits crime and sells drugs for a living. Shitheads!   Why don’t you think about that, and leave a decent tip.   It’s customary and YOU FUCKING KNOW IT.

Good point, TX OG server, but I don’t ever remember saying anything about the tip.

From “Jeff Kennedy” –

Are you serious? You went to the Olive Garden and expected..what?  Anyone with half a brain knows what to expect from a corporate giant in the food industry.   Too many of your cynical observations gave you away as to what kind of critical pessimistic, nitpicker you seem to be.   For instance, how did you know the birthday boy was “bratty”?  And as for the hostess, do you honestly think that a teenager who’s working for minimum wage at the OG is really putting that much thought into table availability times for the HORDES of people who inundate those places daily?  99.9% of the people who go to the OG regularly (who are incidentally NOT on a fact-finding mission) just want to hear that they will be seated “soon” and then they take their place with the other cattle and wait patiently (or sometimes not) until they are called.  What’s going to be your next revelation?  Maybe the fact that NOT EVERYTHING IS A DOLLAR AT THE DOLLAR STORE??  Horrors!!!

You are right.  I cannot know for sure whether that annoying boy was “bratty,” other than my observation.  But what makes you so sure that I am a critical, pessimistic, nitpicker with half a brain? 

From “Fred D” –

This is the Hotel Reality – Check In Please!

I don’t know what people expect when they go to a restaurant.  I expect to eat and have a drink with my meal.  I realize that if you go at a peak time, you will have to wait.  I get the impression that those who are down on a place because they try to make a profit, would be better off at McDonald’s (they make loads of money) and they would probably want to bring their own bottle of Skrew Kappa or Riunite in a brown paper bag and pour it into their water glass – no servers to oversee the sneaky deed. 

Can someone please tell me what Skrew Kappa is?  Do they serve this at The Olive Garden?

From Josh –

sigh @ you… first of all… if you’re going to write a blog, at least attempt to be responsible and don’t lie or exagerate to make a point.   The soup is not more than 3.95 by itself in any price bracket throughout the country and the salad is 4.95.   The soup & salad is 6.95 at the most for lunch, lower when on promotion.  The OG has tried hard to maintain this extremely low price because it knows its guests value it and it wants something for everyone. and do you go to buffets and pay for one person… grab a plate and give it to your friends? cheap ass….

“If you’re going to write a blog… don’t lie or exaggerate to make a point.”  HA HA HA, that made me laugh for ten minutes!

And this one, from two days ago, I deleted because I wasn’t sure if it was anti-Semitic or just crazy.

From Jose “Jerkoff” –

Olive Garden is great. At least the employees are forced to be clean and presentable.  I ate at a Kosher Italian restaurant in Los Angeles.  It was filthy, weird and they made me buy an extra cup to share a pot of hot tea.  So all restaurants are about selling, wake up.

I know that restaurant, Jose.  Your problem is that the weird staff probably put you in the “non-Jewish” section of the restaurant.   We get free tea flowing constantly at our table!

Let me just come out and say it — I don’t hate the Olive Garden.  There are plenty of targets that are closer to my heart.  Have you ever actually eaten dinner at IHOP?  Now that is disgusting!  The sausages at Denny’s?  Taste like metal!  The burgers at Carl’s Jr.?  Greasy and the buns are flaccid!

I’m sorry if you hate working at Olive Garden so much.  I try to always leave a 15% tip, even 20% if you bring me a second basket of breadsticks.

Since 2005, I’ve been to Olive Garden a few more times.  We have one nearby, at the mall.  It’s decent enough for a quick meal before the movie.  Let’s be honest, their Italian food is as authentic as the “bagel breakfast sandwiches” at Burger King are Jewish.  Italian food is my favorite cuisine, and Queens has some of the best Italian restaurants around, so I am a harsh critic of Italian food.  I have spent years complaining about the mediocre food at most REAL Italian restaurants in Los Angeles.   I DO NOT go to Olive Garden for a real Italian meal. 

However, if I have insulted you, Mr. Olive Garden, please accept my apology.   I hope that these emails are coming from frustrated servers and not from your main office.  I’ll save my rant about your overcooked pasta for another post.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  The Final Chapter of the Closet Trilogy

Two Years Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Neilochka Girls

The State of NaBloPoMo vs. Neilochka


Bailiff: The State of NaBloPoMo vs. Neilochka!

Prosecution:  Your honor, On October 31, as part of NaBloPoMo, Neil “Neilochka” Kramer signed a contract stating that he would write a blog post every day in November.   On November 9th, he wrote a lame misogynist “post,” if you can even call it a post, on his blog, Citizen of the Month, which was about him sleeping with six women at once.   Hoping that the post might inspire some female blogger to actually offer herself on Saturday night to being part of the experiment, Mr. Kramer decided to keep the post displayed on top of the front page for an additional day, during November 10th.   Thus, the same post was displayed on two separate days, disqualifying him from being an active participant in NaBloPoMo.   However, he refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, and willingly continues to post to his NaBloPoMo site.   We have no other solution but to take legal action.   Thank you.

Judge: Neilochka, your response.

Neilochka:  Thank you, your honor.   I will be representing myself.   Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.   Every morning, I wake up and do a little reading.   And what do I read?   Blogs?   Email?   No, the Good Book itself.   In Genesis, God creates the world in six days, and rests on the seventh. Did he really create the world in six day?   Or does his “six days” represent something much different?  Some scholars think that God’s six days can be thousands of years in human years, which helps us unify the worlds of religion and evolutionary science.

Many in the blogging community consider me a “God” as a blogger, one who operates under his own rules.   After all, isn’t my blog my own creation, one that comes forth from myself?   When I accepted my commitment to NaBloPoMo, I DID say that I would blog every day in November.   But WHO is to say that your “day” is the same as my “day?”   Perhaps my day is actually TWO of your days?   Why should God get a free pass in creating the world in “six days,” when I have to follow your cliched idea of what a “day” means?

Clearly, the only explanation is that those who insist that I be expelled from NaBloPoMo are the same people who hate God, and everything good in the world.   Do you really want to be one of those people?

I rest my case.

Six (Or Another Reason I’m in Therapy)


Last night, I awoke from a dream at 3AM.  I couldn’t fall back asleep because my mind was working overtime, trying to decipher one of mankind’s greatest secret since the Celestine Prophecy:

How many women can one man make love to at one time?

As someone who took AP Calculus in high school, I used my math skills to come upon the number SIX:  a man can — with no tools other than his body — make love to six women at once — with his penis, his mouth, his right hand, his left hand, his right foot, and his left foot.    This seems to be the man’s physical limit, unless he has some unusual appendage, like a third hand. 

As if wasting my time on this scenario wsn’t crazy enough, I spent another hour drawing “mathematical charts” and “architectural blueprints” to verify this important discovery to myself.

Race and Ethnicity

I grew up in Queens, New York, which just happens to be the most diverse place in the country. When we talked about each other as kids, we were always very race and ethnic conscious. I don’t mean racist, but aware of people having ethnic identities. I don’t even see this as a negative thing. Who wants everyone the same? A person’s race and identity was just an identifier, like their height or weight. I might say, “Remember Bob, the tall black guy from the party,” just like I would say, “Remember Ellen, the pretty red-head from the party.” We would even go further than just race. He could be the Puerto Rican-guy or the Italian Guy. We would separate Jews as being religious “frum” or not, or Israeli, or Persian.

Things changed in college, when I became aware that this type of identification seemed blue-collar in tone. Even when people still identified as Asian or Black, it seemed wrong to identify someone as such, at least in public. In private, between friends, one could be as racist as the next guy, but everyone feared being seen as a blue collar type from Queens.

College Friend: “Did you meet Dan yesterday?”

Neil: “Which was Dan?”

College Friend: “The history major. He was wearing the green sweater. From Maryland. With glasses. Bald.”

Neil: “Oh, you mean the black guy?”

College Friend: “Ugh, don’t say that!”

I found this attitude a little odd, as if acknowledging his color was akin to acknowledging some sort of weakness in his personality. What was the big deal? On the other hand, I guess I can understand the sensitivity. At Columbia, Dan might be the only black guy at the party, and I’m sure he would hate always being known as the “black guy” throughout college. The rules change when the amount of diversity changes.

I’ve never truly resolved this issue for myself. I’m pretty open to all types of folk here on Citizen of the Month, even though I’ve gotten in trouble a few times for some gay joke or stating that Portland only had one black resident. I don’t think of you as black or white, Jewish or gentile, although I have to admit that it is exciting to me when a reader is different in some unique way. The blogosphere can be so bland, that it is cool to interact with someone a little different. I’ve written about this several times already. I’m still waiting for my first Native American blogger friend! The question is — can someone be identified as different, and still thought of as the same as everyone else? Am I Neilochka the blogger or Neilochka the Jewish blogger? Or can I be both? I’ve already spoken to a few of you that took a while before coming out as “black” or “ethnic” because you felt that other bloggers would perceive you differently.

I think about these ethnicity issues while I’m writing. Recently, I was writing a post while sitting in Starbucks about this guy sitting next to me, a brainy-looking grad student, who kept on trying to read my monitor. He was Asian (another loaded issue — I sometimes find it difficult to tell if someone is Chinese, Korean, or Japanese) and when I was writing the story, I started to describe him as “this Asian guy.” Then I censored myself. I thought to myself, “People will wonder why I him making him “the Asian guy.”” Am I trying to make a statement about Asians? Is there some other meaning for making him Asian? In truth, the only reality was that — he was Asian! Still, did it add anything to the story that was unintended? If you read something you wrote where a “Jewish guy” was looking over your shoulder, wouldn’t I have the same concerns?

On of my new blog friends from Los Angeles, Los Angelista, also writes on a cool website called Anti-Racist Parent — for parents committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook. It brings up some important issues for parents. The site was “my muse” for this post. You should also check out Los Angelista’s terrific blog, too.

Sunday Brunch

Sunday was Hilly’s birthday. We met Hilly and SJ for Sunday Brunch.

Here Sophia is teaching Hilly how they drink mimosas in Europe, Bruderschaft style. (photo by SJ)

SJ and I in a competitive smiling match. (photo by Sophia)

Hilly and Sophia after two mimosas. (photo SJ)

More mimosas. (photo by SJ)

After one mimosa, I became a little dizzy as I fantasized about being with three women at once. (photo by Sophia)

It never happened the way I had hoped — but I did bring all three women back to the house. Most of the action came from SJ, who decided to take photos of our living room. Here are a couple of her photos. I figured I might as well show you where Sophia and I do it every day — and by “do it every day” I mean watch “All My Children.” (photos by SJ)





Hilly, may this year be your best!

I’m OK, You’re Nuts

Thank you so much for all the comments yesterday. By revealing some of your neuroses, you made me feel a lot more normal. Perhaps that is the best therapy of all. If we can be as understanding and caring to OURSELVES as we can be to others, I think a lot of our problems would disappear! When I hear about the foibles of others, I always tell them to get over their embarrassment. It is all in their head! No one really cares! However, if I make the same “mistake,” it is as the whole world is watching.

The comment that inspired me the most yesterday came from new reader, TC.

You know what kills me about people like you and me? That we actually think we’re UNIQUE. Or that, if people heard about our little ‘quirks,’ they’d think that we’re insane.

Instead, of course, they do what I did when you talked about your coupon thing…they go “Oh, man, *I* do that!” Except not with coupons…For me, it’s calling in an order for take-out. I somehow have it in my mind that I’m going to “bother” the person on the other end of the phone by, you know, asking him to make food for me to pick up (or, worse, to have DELIVERED to me). When, of course, every logical cell in my body and everyone else’s says, THAT IS HOW HE MAKES HIS MONEY. He COUNTS on people calling in orders. And yet, I can’t do it. Seriously. Can’t.

Ain’t insanity great?

How insightful! My first thought: “This women is nuts! I wanted to speak to her like Mr. Spock “Your fear makes no logical sense.” ” I felt like sitting her down, tying her to a chair, and not letting her up until she “understood” why she was being illogical. “Why would it bother the restaurant if you called for take-out?”

But this was the point TC was making.  In therapy, the therapist sits there, never talking about herself. I’m not too fond of the student/wise Yoda relationship.  I think I would overcome my “coupon” fears a lot faster if the therapist just came out and said, “Holy crap!  That is nuts.  But not as f***ing crazy as my fear of calling restaurants asking for take-out!  We’re all crazy.  It’s hopeless.  Let’s just take some Prozac and go out for some burgers.  You still have forty minutes on the clock.”

Self-Help Books


Today, Sophia and I sat in Borders for half the day, reading self-help books. I was determined to find a book that described me and my “problems” in psychological terms. After my two months of therapy, I’m fully convinced I need this help, and I want to understand myself better. I almost feel as if I’ve been blind to parts of my own personality. I am neurotic, but just saying “neurotic” is too vague for me. I want a stronger sense of the problem. I’m envious of you bloggers who have something specific, like ADHD. That is a “sturdy” psychological problem. If I met you for the first time, I could shake your hand and you could look me in the eye and say, “My name is Jack and I have ADHD.” It’s just not the same to answer, “Hi, I’m Neil. I’m neurotic, but I’m not exactly sure what that means or what exactly I’m neurotic about.”

The first book I read at Borders was on procrastination. I certainly procrastinate on my writing, but not with everything. Other times, I am very much on the ball. (Editor’s note: I’d like to see that ball — Sophia) I can’t honestly say that I’m NOT a pure-blooded procrastinator. (Editor’s note: I can.)

I was excited about finding a book on anxiety, especially one that screamed “Millions sold” on the cover. Anxiety is nothing new to me. I HATE making cold calls. I freeze in fear. That is anxiety. In my single days, I could never get enough nerve to talk to women in bars. I was too anxious.

The trouble is that “anxiety” is a term too broad for my taste. I don’t feel anxiety in typical social situations. I love to speak in public. I would have no problem running naked in the woods. I’ve met many who are plenty more anxious than me. Maybe I’m not really “anxious.” (Editor’s note: Yes, you are.)

The book that affected me the most was one about self-esteem. There was much in the book that made sense in the way it related to me– from the way I speak about my own accomplishments to my inability to say “no” to someone — fearing that they wouldn’t like me.

After our visit to Borders, we went to a Bistro-type restaurant for a late brunch. I brought along a 2-1 coupon that I had found in the mail. As some long-time readers of this blog know, giving coupons to waiters is one of these events that makes me ANXIOUS. I need to talk to my therapist about this. I know this makes little sense to you, but it almost feels as if I’m asking the waiter for a favor and imposing on him. I know, it sounds crazy, especially since I always leave a good tip on the full check amount.

As the waiter came over to our table, Sophia nudged me to give him the coupon before we order, as it is stated to do.

“Excuse me, ” I said to the waiter, as I fumbled with the folded coupon. “I have this thing… some sort of a certificate… um… but I’m not even sure if you even take it on weekends…uh?” (Editor’s note: On the coupon, it said, “Use any day.”)

“Oh yeah”, the waiter said, matter-of-factly. “Great. I’ll take it.”

And that was that. Sophia looked at me, laughing at how the episode made me into an incoherent wreck.

I thought to myself, “Think about what you just said to the waiter, and WHY — and you’ll understand YOURSELF a lot more than reading self-help books.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Make Me Insecure Friday

Celebrating Ten Years of Being Free from Shoe Trends

Today is a special day for me.  I am cleaning out my closet and tossing away these old Doc Martens that I bought in 1997.  Why is this important?  These were the last pair of shoes that I bought solely because they were “trendy” at the time.   Since then, I have bought shoes for no other reason than they appealed to me, whether they were found at Nordstrom or Payless.

Back then, these  Doc Martens were all the rage in Los Angeles.  The shoes were uncomfortable.  They were ugly.   I wore them because they were cool at the time, even though I was probably already too late to be part of the “grunge” scene.

Throughout most of my life, I wore shoes to please others — to fit in — to be one of the crowd.  For ten years now, I have steered away from any shoe trends, building enough nerve to make this final step — throwing away these old Doc Martens!

I know many of you are parents of teenagers.  I feel for you, as I’m sure the importance of what brand of “sneaker” your child wears is still as important to him today as it was in the past.

Here is my life in “be like others” footwear, up until 1997, when I went into footwear rehab and started freeing myself from the tyranny of the shoed majority.  My must-haves begin at an early age — first grade —

PF Flyers “Center”


Converse All-Stars

Hush Puppies “Surround”

Adidas “Country”

Puma Clyde Basket

Bass “Yuppie” Penny Loafers (80s!)

Reebok “Classic” Black

Nike Air Jordan

New Balance 801

Doc Martens

Today, I’m wearing sandals I bought at CVS pharmacy.

Little Artie

Therapy has had two opposite effects.   It has motivated me to be more productive and organized, hence my post two days ago on how to be better organized.  Thank you!    Therapy has also made me incredibly self-absorbed, which is perfect for procrastination.   I never knew I could be so interesting to myself!   So, rather than working today, I spent most of the day mulling my own existence.  

First, let me ask you something.  I don’t know about your therapist, but my one hour session is really fifty minutes, because “Barbara” needs ten minutes to write her notes.   Does your therapist do the same?  I like Barbara a lot, but this business practice sounds a bit like the plumber charging you labor costs for his time filling out the paperwork.    Maybe I’m just grumpy because fifty minutes is not enough for me.  I’ve even started to skip the pleasantries of talking about the weather for a couple of minutes because I can feel the clock ticking.   When I walk out of therapy after such short sessions, I feel unfulfilled, as if I just went to a beautiful, naked Thai masseuse who rubbed by entire body in sensual oil, then told me to “get the hell out” so she could watch “Oprah.”  After my session today, I was in such a crazed mood to talk… to talk about myself.  Unfortunately, for many of you on my email list, there is the little invention called IM.  Please accept my apologies — all twenty of you — who I IMed with today while you were in the office.  At first, I was polite, meekly saying, “Hi there! How are you?” and then when you answered, I knew I had you trapped. 

“So, I just got back from therapy and it was very interesting.  I’m beginning to realize that I…. and that I… and… is the best for me… and… more sex… more for me… what I want… me…me…me…oh, right, your grandmother is dying… I remember when my grandmother was dying… me… me… and I was fourteen… and there I was, with my penis… me… aren’t I interesting?   What?  You have a job? … when I grow up, I want to be…”

I use Trillian for my IM messages, because the application can work on Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL simultaneously, so I had the entire world covered today.  Is it my imagination — or is everyone  on my IM list “invisible” tonight?   Oh, well, maybe everyone is just watching TV.   I can’t imagine that you would “hide” from me.

Barbara is a traditional therapist and she believes in all that crap about everything stemming from your childhood.   OK, I shouldn’t say “crap.”  I actually believe it too, but I am using humor as a “defense mechanism.”  How do you like them apples?  Defense-mechanism!   Don’t I sound self-actualized?  I know my stuff! 

When I look through my blog, I see themes that are played over and over.   I don’t mean that I use the same stories over and over again.  I do that, too, hoping most of the readers from 2005 have disappeared by now.  I mean that many of my posts have a certain world view that relates to my own neuroses.  One of them has to do with gender issues in my marriage.    Over and over, we’ve seen that Sophia is outwardly the strong one, while I sit at home, listening to ABBA.   Who wants a wimpy husband?  Gender roles affect our home, our family, and our relationship.  

Since these issues didn’t play much of a role in my life until I married Sophia, I saw it as a “marital” problem, but Barbara is helping me realize that you can’t really fix a couple; you can only fix yourself.   The seeds of my behavior were planted in me way before I had met Sophia.  I learned about gender roles and marriage from my own parents.  My confusion over a “man’s role” in society were already bouncing around my head as a child, my brain crowded with images of Clint Eastwood and James Bond battling it out with sweater-wearing Bill Cosby.

When I was at USC Film School, my final thesis film was a broad comedy called “Little Artie.”  It was just a little funny film, but when I mentioned the plot-line to Barbara, she was surprised that the story foreshadowed my relationship with Sophia — and I hadn’t even met her yet.   It feels pretentious analyzing my “work” as if I am Ingmar Bergman, but I’m surprised how unaware I was of the similarities. 

Is this how little I know myself?

Little Artie:

Artie and Elaine are a married couple.  They have a little dog named Little Artie, and they treat him as their child, like many pet-owners do when they don’t have children.

Note:  While it seemed funny at the time, it now seems a bit odd that I named the two characters, Artie and Elaine, since my parents’ REAL names are… Artie and Elaine!  And who would be Little Artie then?

In the story, Artie works as a curator at an art gallery.  He is peace-loving , cultured “liberal.”   Elaine is training to be a black belt in karate.  She is more conservative and believes in self-defense, and is more aggressive in the bedroom.   They get along great, except for differing opinions on how to “raise” their dog, Little Artie.   Artie wants him to be a loving pet, while Elaine wants him to be stronger, able to take care of the family if there is danger.   Later, while they are at work, their home is burglarized and the dog stands there watching all the furniture disappear.  When they come home and see their empty home, Artie and Elaine have a big fight.  Elaine insists that Little Artie go to “guard dog school” to get him into shape, while Artie refuses to allow this.  The argument gets intense and they file for divorce.  The question remains — who gets the dog?  At this point, the dog runs into the dog house in the backyard and refuses to come out for either of them.   The couple goes to court and the judge rules that whoever can get him out of the doghouse first can keep him.  And then there is some crazy comedy!  Well, except for the parts that fell flat.  There’s some new “lovers,” and a karate fight finale (I used a real fight coordinator) between Artie’s two rival women at an art gallery opening.  At the end, Artie and Elaine learn to compromise — Little Artie needs to be both strong AND sensitive.

Anyway, that’s therapy — week seven.

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