the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: February 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

Happiness: A Photoshop Tutorial

My mother was a little worried about me today, so I decided to take some action to make her feel better. Luckily, I’ve gotten pretty proficient in Adobe Photoshop over the years. Here’s a handy little tutorial in using Photoshop to change your emotional state from sad to happy. Try it yourself!

original emotion — SAD

Now, open up Photoshop, and follow these specific directions:




As a final step, SAVE AS Happiness. You’re successfully used Photoshop to enhance your life!

new emotion — Happy

Come back for more FREE Photoshop Tutorials!

P.S. — By the way,  Communicatrix deals with the issue of happiness in a slightly more mature way.

Beyonce in The Coffee Bean

Beyonce Says: Call me, Neilochka!

You’re not going to believe this. Remember a few days ago, I wrote a post saying how insecure women were, and I said that since I am a male, I’m more confident than you. I gave you the example of how I was watching Beyonce on the Grammy Awards, and saying to myself that if the circumstances were right, I could totally woo her.

You’re not going to believe this, but RIGHT NOW I’m sitting in a Coffee Bean on Sunset Boulevard, and Beyonce (note: accept this as a fact at your own risk) just walked in!

She is more beautiful in person than on TV or the movies.

She is by herself, dressed in lavender velvety pants and a light leather jacket. She is sitting at the table next to me. She is carry a paperback copy of “Eat, Pray, Love.”

She just looked at me! She smiled at me. This is my chance. How many more opportunities am I going to get to woo Beyonce?

I’m playing solitare now, trying to come up with perfect opening line.

There are some completed interviews that I haven’t added to the list yet. Let me do that first, then say hello to Beyonce. I don’t want to seem rude to people online.

As you probably have figured out by now, I’m probably going to be moving out of Redondo Beach soon. Sophia and I have both been under too much stress. I think it is the best thing for both of us. If anyone has any leads on rentals here in LA, send me an email.

I probably should be looking for a place rather than sitting here at the Coffee Bean, even if I have lucked out by sitting next to Beyonce.

I wonder if I could live with Beyonce? I bet she has a nice place. I could be her friend/roommate/lover/personal blogger.

I’m on Wikipedia, looking up Beyonce. It says she is from Houston. I bet you she’s been to the Nasa Space Center in Houston on a school trip.

What if I accidentally drop my coffee on the floor and then say laughing, “Houston, we have a problem.” She’ll laugh, too, thinking me very witty and a “soul mate.” And then we’ll start talking about the Johnson Space Center, and I then I can tell her about this science report I once did about Skylab. She’ll find that interesting… coming from Houston.

Doesn’t that big Chinese guy play for Houston?

Sophia’s calling. The toilet won’t flush. Damn, I gotta go fix it!

I could have totally wooed Beyonce.

Next time.

Truth Quotient for gullible Ms. Sizzle: 32% — actually in Coffee Bean, played solitaire, spilled coffee, looked up Beyonce in Wikipedia, did report on Skylab, moving out, toilet won’t flush (actual Beyonce not included)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Live-Blogging the 1987 Academy Awards

Equal Pay for Fat Male Cheerleaders

Trying out for Florida Marlin Manatees

Att:  This post is a bit irrelevant now since Dagny told me in the comments how much female professional cheerleaders make:  50 bucks a game!  That is outrageous, considering what the players make.  Did anyone else know this?!

I believe in equal pay and equal rights.  That’s why I was immediately disturbed by this article about the cheerleading squads of the Florida Marlins.  The Marlins already have a traditional bunch of hot-babe cheerleaders, called the Mermaids.

Now, in the best “stunt” since Bill Veeck sent a midget to the plate, the Marlins are hoping to draw some crowd by introducing an all-male plus-size cheerleading squad called the Manatees.

Real manatees, 1,200-pound mammals sometimes referred to as “sea cows,” are not considered the most agile of creatures and often get caught in boat propellers.

The Marlins want their Manatees to have the same dimensions, but to be decidedly more agile. Men will be judged on how well they dance a choreographed routine.

It’s a funny idea.  After all, most “real” fans look like beer-drinking schlubs.  Why not promote Real Men?  This way, men can get some eye candy from the Mermaids and some fun from the Manatees.

Maybe this will even make cheerleading and dancing more acceptable to young men, so it doesn’t seem so “gay.”

But, there is a HUGE double standard going on here.

Men selected for the Manatees won’t be paid. They’ll get tickets to games they perform at, and the honor of dancing in front of crowds that have been smallest in major league baseball for the last two seasons.

WTF?!  Men, don’t do it!  I know it will be fun for you.  But for tickets to the game YOU PERFORM IN (I hope it ain’t the bleachers) and the HONOR?! You think the Mermaids are so stupid?  You think they are giving you that T&A for the HONOR of the dopey team?

Florida Marlin Mermaids 

They get PAID!  Don’t be suckers.  Men who shake their stuff should get the same compensation as women who do.

From Now On, Call Me Elaine Kramer’s Son


The New Yorker interview“  of my mother  (well, I’m not sure it is really an interview, since they only used one line — but we’re still proud!)

(backstory here)

(They never used my mother’s best line:

Q:  What do you like best about your new office?

A:  It is closer to the bathroom!)

You’re the best, Mom!

Update: Gawker, of course, writes about the New Yorker article and name drops authors like Tom Wolfe, but never mentions my mother. Hey, what’s the matter with you guys?!

A Little Anorexia is Hot


I’m beginning to think that magazines intentionally choose articles to make their readers feel insecure, buy their magazine, and eat up the products advertised in the current issue. (I’m sure some blogs do the same thing)

A few days ago, I mentioned the Details magazine article which theorized that man’s happiness is directly related to the size of his member.  Of course, since most of us never reach that nine inch status, we need to compensate by buying Axe cologne or a sports car.

It’s all pretty ridiculous.  First of all, most men keep their private parts hidden in their pants until the third date, so no women really knows what’s up (other than in the Middle Ages – Renaissance when men tried to fool everyone with codpieces).  In modern times, men use this “dating” process for their own purposes, suckering the always emotional woman into overlooking any other issues with the male body, as they “fall” for you.

Joking, uh… ha ha.

Women have it tougher than men.  Men do judge women by how they look.  But — I’m not sure they do as much as you think.  Different men like all different types of women.   Some like all women!  Despite what men talk about when they are drinking beer in Hooters, a woman with a good sense of humor is much sexier than a pair of fake boobs.  Not that men don’t like boobs.  That is a given.  I just think that women’s magazines go overboard in setting up a feminine “ideal” that is not essential to being attractive to men.   Perhaps women are forced into all this more from peer pressure of other women!  And unlike men’s magazines, women’s magazines don’t give a woman an out– our culture doesn’t say that a woman owning a sportscar can ever compensate for a woman’s physical “faults.”    Instead women have to buy, buy, buy beauty supplies and diet, diet, diet. 

I’m pretty insecure about myself, but I’m surprised how confident I sound when I IM with some of my female blogging friends!  I’m about as dorky as they come, but even I don’t think it impossible for me to be with any woman I wanted to — if the situation was right.  When I was watching the Grammy Awards last week, I was thinking about this exact thing when Beyonce was singing.  Now that is one beautiful, talented successful woman!  And I was sitting there thinking — “You know what.  If circumstances were different, and we were in the same social circle, and I had a little more money, and if we had something to talk about, I bet you I could woo Beyonce.”  Do you find that crazy?  I think most men wouldn’t.  This is why some men come off as cocky — because even I — the most insecure person you’ll meet — have this insane, unrealistic male ego.  Do I think I will ever date Beyonce?  Of course not.  But in my mind… it is possible.

Do women think they could be dating Brad Pitt if things were different?  I think it is harder for women to have these crazy thoughts, because the media is harder on your psyche.  Our culture makes you feel that you aren’t worthy of being considered attractive if your body shape isn’t a certain type.  This is not a new discussion, either on blogs or on Citizen of the Month. 

I can hear the thoughts already.  “Brad Pitt would never want me because I’m a size 12!  Maybe if I lost weight.  I really should go to the gym… today.” 

You would think that women’s magazines would be “with the times,” advocating the sexiness of real women, like in those Dove ads.   You can be sexy being thin and athletic.  You can be sexy being full-figured with a squeezeable ass.  So, I was surprised to hear about this article in March’s Elle magazine, written by Amanda Fortini, which touts the idea that “men prefer anorexic women.”  Huh?  Is that really true?  Is this the same research company that came up with the results that Hung = Happiness?  Or is this written in the magazine solely to make women feel insecure and renew their subscription to Elle?

From the article (via Jezebel):

“Many men, I quickly learned, really do like frighteningly lean women, whatever they may claim to the controversy. As an average, medium-size young woman, I was unremarkable, innocuous. As a skinny slip of a thing, I was something of a sensation. In restaurants and at parties, men flirted at me extravagantly.” Men in media and literary circles hit on her frequently and audaciously, (one of them with the awesome line, “You remind me of a heroine from a Joan Didion novel.” (You know, “all bones and big eyes.”) “As a male friend once put it to me, semifacetiously,” she writes, ‘A little anorexia is hot.'” 

P.S. — Let’s keep an anorexia count on for tonight’s Oscars!  At least it will make the always boring show interesting…

They Don’t Eat Fried Squirrel at BlogHer


After writing my last post, I received a few emails asking me if I’m really going to BlogHer this year. After all, I’ve been making fun of the concept for two years now, each year setting up an opposing “BlogHim” conference online where male bloggers curse and talk about sex a lot (which is probably not that different from what the women do at the real-life BlogHer). But after three years of blogging, I know so many female bloggers out there — at least in a virtual way, that I thought it was time to meet them. And don’t worry. I’m not really going there with the hope of getting laid. But, you know, as the saying goes — “Rice-A-Roni, the San Franciso Treat.” I’m not exactly sure what that means in this context, but you can pretty much turn anything into a sexual euphemism.

I haven’t paid for my registration yet, but the early-bird price is ending in a few days, and you know how much I like to get in on the bargain. So, I’ll decide this weekend if I really want to do this. Maybe this will inspire some other guys to go as well… if the women really want us there. I have a feeling some of you might not.

I also promised Heather from OMSH that I would go. I’ve gotten to like this blogger. She’s a Texan, Christian, wife and mother — and on paper we have nothing in common, but blogging changes all that. I like that about blogging — the way you can interact with people you probably wouldn’t even talk in the real world because you live in different social circles, but online — you completely click. We’ve IMed a few times. Here’s our IM conversation from a few days ago:

Neilochka: do u have a specialty dish?
OMSH: curried chicken
Neilochka: no, I meant at breakfast, like pancakes?
OMSH: or rosemary pork loin with curried pumpkin soup. oh. haha. We do big southern breakfasts
Neilochka: like with grits?
OMSH: biscuits and our free range eggs. no, that’s not a Texan thing, that’s Georgia Ttexans do breakfast burritos — burritos, eggs, lots of meat – bacon, sausage, ham
Neilochka: real food, so you can work on the ranch afterwards, lassoing the steer
OMSH: Jeff brought home a hog that we are mixin’ in with some venison for some amazing sausage, real food
for real people. you’ll not catch me dining on sushi or prissy food
Neilochka: for real high cholesterol
OMSH: I have low cholesterol and very healthy blood pressure
Neilochka: do u eat sushi?
OMSH: no
Neilochka: never?
OMSH: no, where do you get sushi here? NO WHERE. I’d have to drive to the city
Neilochka: That’s it. I’m going to BlogHer in SF, just to take you for sushi
OMSH: no, no sushi
Neilochka: yes
OMSH: I don’t want to eat sushi, blech
Neilochka: u got to try it once
OMSH: I think I might have tried it once
Neilochka: or else i will write a post
OMSH: wait no…that was caviar
Neilochka: where I will embarrass you, calling you a wimp
OMSH: the caviar was also disgusting, but I will try anything. I just don’t want to go somewhere where they give you a plate with three or four teensie things on it and call it a dinner
Neilochka: i don’t like that either
OMSH: and I need choices — preferrably choices with things that are baked or fried
Neilochka: japanese places have tons of fried stuff along with the sushi and japanese places have great meat too. I’ll make a deal, if you try sushi, I will eat… uh… some weird type of Texan beef jerky
OMSH: yumm, hahaha, I’m joking
Neilochka: What else is there weird to eat for me? How about fried moose?
OMSH: Thre’s fried squirrel, that’s pretty darn good
Neilochka: have u eaten that?
OMSH: um … yes
Neilochka: That’s baloney. There’s no fried squirrel.
OMSH: my husband goes squirrel hunting
Neilochka: where do you find the squirrels?
OMSH: in the trees
Neilochka: what does it taste like?
OMSH: chicken, hahaha. no, it has its own taste. I’ve had gator. i love gator and shrimp gumbo. I love cajun food. oh my goodness – except that horrible boudan
Neilochka: i searched fried squirrel on google. You weren’t lying. It is real. and wow — there are tons of recipes
OMSH: I know – it is truly a dish, see, there are different seasons, deer season, hog season, squirrel season, and so you stock your freezer with what is in season and then buy a side of beef if you aren’t a cattle rancher and you have your meat for the year. of course I eat hooved animals
Neilochka: actually I’m reading that mike huckabee got some slack during election for liking fried squirrel
OMSH: that’s so ridiculous
Neilochka: hooved animal?
OMSH: it is a joke, y’know, kosher, unclean… you’re Jewish
Neilochka: i wonder if a horse is kosher?
OMSH: I don’t eat horse
Neilochka: you eat squirrel
OMSH: they don’t have split hooves, isn’t that the difference? pigs have split hooves. Isn’t that the kosher law?
Neilochka: hmmm, yeah, like I’m a expert on the Talmud! it never comes up I’ll need to ask my rabbi if I can eat a squirrel.
OMSH: hahaha
Neilochka: i had buffalo burgers. they were good. Is buffalo kosher?
OMSH: They are good, I’m trying to remember where I’ve had those.
Neilochka: and I’ve had ostrich burgers
OMSH: Seriously, I don’t think there is much meat I haven’t tried.– emu, haha — I’ve not tried ostrich or emu, so you’re one up on me
Neilochka: isn’t blogging great…
OMSH: bwahahaha, yes, yes it is
Neilochka: u realize we would never cross paths any other way! i would hear you eat squirrel and I would run the other way
OMSH: oh – you would be so bored if you lived a life only associating with those like you
Neilochka: that’s for sure
OMSH: you need to stretch out in your REAL life and associate with oddball hicks like me
Neilochka: I once thought about actually having a clone of myself and talking to him… that would be so boring…
OMSH: Neil, I’m laughing so hard I’m about to wet myself.
Neilochka: Not on the squirrel skin rug I hope — OK, it’s a deal, if I go to BlogHer, I make you eat sushi!

So, now you know my real motivation to go to BlogHer. To tempt a Texan into eating sushi!

By the way, here is the BlogHer submission page where you can make speaker recommendations for the conference.

Now, imagine this — something truly radical — a MALE speaker at BlogHer — perhaps, a friendly blogger who interacts with more female bloggers than most female bloggers… maybe talking about how men feel being in a personal blogging world dominated by women — and how MEN have their own obstacles to joining this community — sort of a cultural exchange program for women to talk about how they relate to men online — and what can women can do to make men feel a bigger part of the personal blogging community at large?!   Are there any other men who would join me?   Do you think anyone would show up?

eh, I changed my mind.  What can I really say of importance?   Not much.    Write your blog.   Don’t be boring.   That’s about it. 

Besides, I’m a lover, not a talker.

You Can’t Spell Happiness without Penis


There’s an old showbiz adage — “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Look how easy it was for me yesterday to write about being miserable. All I had to do was throw some Leonard Cohen or Beck lyrics up on the screen and everyone is crying a river.

But comedy requires work.

Today, I received an email from someone in the PR department of Conde Nast. I don’t know her, but just from her name, I visualize her as extremely attractive, single, ambitious, brunette, Jewish, with knowing eyes — someone like Sophia, but who’s not kicking me out.

Anyway, back to reality. This lovely PR person wrote to me wondering if I was interested in writing a post about an article in their current Details magazine. The article is very creatively titled “Is Being Well Hung the Key to Happiness?” She titled her email “Hung = Happiness.” The Economist this magazine is not.

Here’s the opening of the article:

Is Being Well Hung the Key to Happiness?
Some guys never seem to worry. The reason for that is probably in their pants.

Things were not looking good for Josh (not his real name). He had lost all the money he’d made as a day trader. To make matters worse, his longtime girlfriend walked out on him, taking all the furniture and whatever else she could carry. By any measure, it was rock bottom. But when Josh’s friends mobilized the rescue crew, they were astounded: Josh appeared to be totally unfazed.

“He didn’t care!” says Josh’s best friend, Steve (not his real name), a 35-year-old hedge-fund manager who worked with him on Wall Street. “He shrugged it off. It would have killed a lesser man.” But Steve knew his friend’s nonchalance wasn’t due to some elaborate form of self-hypnosis or handfuls of Wellbutrin. Josh owed his composure to something far simpler: nine inches of the most primal form of self-assurance known to man.

“If it weren’t for his cock, he’d be a hobo riding the trains around the country,” Steve says. “It’s opened doors for him. Rich women put him up at their apartments. We have friends who have more money than him and are more successful than him, but they all say, ‘I want to come back as this guy.’ Secretly, we all want to be him.”

Clearly the PR department of Conde Nast did their research and knew exactly who on the blogosphere who be interested in this new “scientific” research. (I can’t believe the hoity-toity Huffington Post wrote about this important scientific discovery too!) It really didn’t matter that I had never opened a copy of Details magazine in my life.

At first, I had no interest in writing about this post. After all, the PR department sent it to me because they WANT me to write about it, and as Sophia would love to tell you, I’m passive-aggressive. Therapy has changed me, and as proof of that, I’m actually going to go against the grain and agree to help out this lovely and good-willed woman from Conde Nast.

But, here’s my dilemma. I want to say something funny about the article, but I’m stuck between two vastly different comedic “gags.” This is what makes comedy so difficult. Follow along as I mull over my options. Consider this a “Master’s Class” in Comedy.

Gag #1 —

“Happiness = Hung? I think the scientists at Details Magazine better go back into the lab. I think my sleeping in the car last week being miserable clearly refutes their findings!”

Now, I’m the first one to admit that this joke is a dud. However, it serves a vital purpose. Think about the context of the joke. What important piece of real-life information am I subtly adding to the joke? Here’s another hint — soon I may be re-joining the dating pool. Have you figured it out yet? Can you see why I might want to let this less-than-stellar joke remain?

Imagine, mommybloggers across North America, emailing and twittering each other this afternoon, “Did you read Neilochka’s blog today? It wasn’t very funny, but tell me if I’m wrong — in the subtext of the joke, wasn’t he insinuating that he is… well… uh… well… really…well…?

Gag #2 —

“Happiness = Hung? I see! Now I understand why I was miserable sleeping in the car that night!”

That is a much funnier punchline. It is a double whammy. I end up sleeping in the car and blaming it on my own… shortcomings. Of course, it also sends a message out to the world that may end up hurting me in a few months when I make my first appearance at BlogHer.

Imagine, I’m waiting on line to get my BlogHer badge, one of the few men amidst hundreds of horny housewives.

Mommyblogger #1 (not her real name):  “Isn’t that Neilochka? He’s even better looking in person. And so tall!”

Mommyblogger #2:  “Uh, yeah. But did you ever read that post he wrote in February about Details Magazine…”

Mommyblogger #1:  “No, send me the link.”

Mommyblogger #2:  “You NEED to read it. It says so much about him. I’ll send you the link in tinyURL.”

Mommyblogger #1:  “Huh? Why in tinyURL?”

Mommyblogger #2:  “Read his post. Then you’ll understand.”

Clearly, you can see the dilemma I have here. Go with the joke that has the subliminal message that drives women crazy or go fo the funnier line that doesn’t get me laid at BlogHer. This is exactly why comedy is underappreciated. Funny movies never win the Oscars or any serious awards. I don’t mean artsy-funny movies like Juno. I mean the crap that I’m going to write. But they really should. Men expose their souls through comedy!

My Penis just hit me on the leg.

Neil’s Penis:  “What the f**king kind of post is this, Neilochka?  Are your cracking up over this Sophia thing?  Stop moping around and be happy!  Remember Bobby what’s his face’s song– Don’t worry, be happy!”

Neil:  “And what should I be happy about?  I think soon I’m going to be moving out of the house… again!”

My Penis clears his throat, reminding me about that dumb Happiness = Hung article in Details magazine.

Neil’s Penis:  “You’re happy, right?”

Neil:  “Oh, right… right… I’m happy…. very happy indeed.  Don’t worry about me anymore, Mom.  Everything is great.  I’m happy.”

Neil’s Penis:  “Exactly! Woo-hoo!  Nothing can get us down!”

Neil:  “Thank you, Dad, for your excellent genes!”

Neil’s Penis:  “That’s right.  You can learn something about PR from Conde Nast.  Self-promotion is important.  Party!  Party!  Happy! Happy!  Joy!  Joy!”

Neil and Neil’s Penis: (singing together) “We are Family…!”

Thank you Conde Nast and Details Magazine for reminding me that I have so much to be happy about!



Ever since I was a teenager, I listened to music when I was feeling down.  Remember my obsession with ABBA a few months ago?   Sometimes, I’m in the mood for some hard rock to lift me out of the doldrums, and sometimes I just look for the most depressing song possible in order to feel MORE miserable.  Once you hit bottom, you can laugh, and start your way up the ladder again.

Do any of you have any really depressing songs that you just LOVE?  Songs about broken hearts, suicides, and cars going off the edges of mountains? 

For my money, this old song (Blue Magic’s Side Show (1974)) is one of the saddest love songs I’ve ever heard.  It also makes me think about how we post about our lives on blogs for others to read — like a sideshow.   Read the downer lyrics!  

Hurry, hurry, step right up
See the side show in town for only fifty cents

Step right up hurry, hurry, before the show begins, my friends
Stand in line, get your ticket, I hope you will attend
It’ll only cost you fifty cents to see
What life has done to those like you and me

See the man with the broken heart, you’ll see that he is sad, he hurts so bad (so bad, so bad)
See the girl who has lost the only love she ever had
There’s got to be no sadder show to see
No doubt about it, satisfaction’s guaranteed

So let the sideshow begin
Hurry, hurry, step right up on in
Can’t afford to pass it by
Guaranteed to make you cry

Let the sideshow begin (hurry, hurry)
Hurry, hurry, step right on in
Can’t afford to pass it by
Guaranteed to make you cry

See the man who’s been cryin’ for a million years, so many tears (so many tears)
See the girl who’s collected broken hearts for souvenirs
It’s more exciting than a one man band
The saddest little show in all the land

So let the side show begin (hurry, hurry)
Hurry, hurry, step right up on in
Can’t afford to pass it by
Guaranteed to make you cry

Let the sideshow begin
Hurry, hurry, step right on in
Can’t afford to pass it by
Guaranteed to make you cry

So let the sideshow begin (hurry, hurry)
Hurry, hurry, step right on in
Can’t afford to pass it by
Guaranteed to make you cry

Fortunately, after I listened to the song a few times, it made me laugh hysterically.  Who the hell sits down and writes such a depressing song?! 

Remember to vote for me for “The Best Humor Blog” in the Blogger Awards!

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