the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: November 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Blogging Manifesto for 2011

Lyrics + Translation

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Saying ay-oh, gotta let go.
I wanna celebrate and live my life
Saying ay-oh, baby let’s go.
(Let’s get this party started; this is what I believe here at Citizen of the Month.)

I came to dance-dance-dance-dance
(I see blogging as an artistic personal expression.)

I hit the floor cause that’s my plans plans plans plans
(and my plan involves nurturing my writing and interacting with like-minded people.)

I’m wearing all my favorite brands brands brands brands
(while I have issues with the term “branding,” I am coming to see the importance of it.)

Give me some space for both my hands hands hands hands.
Yeah, yeah.
(while I am respectful of all the women around me in the blogging community, if a romantic opportunity would occur, and the woman was single, and if it was consensual, I would not feel guilty if I used my hands to feel up some blogger under her sweater, or to make out with her, say at a BlogHer Christmas party or after a Tweet-up; while not my main motivation for blogging, there is nothing wrong with that.)

Cause it goes on and on and on.
And it goes on and on and on.
(life is short. I learned that this year with Sophia’s parents. so stop waiting; be proactive with life.)

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Saying ay-oh, gotta let go.
(there will be times I might go overboard in some post, or be offensive, but it is OK. I am a “writer,” not a journalist.)

I wanna celebrate and live my life
Saying ay-oh, baby let’s go.
(because part of life is exploring all sides of one’s life, even the weird, or the sad, or the bad.)

Cause we gon’ rock this club
We gon’ go all night
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite.
(cause if I’m not gon’ explore my life, why waste my time writing online when there are so many other things to do, like knitting or playing golf?)

Cause I told you once
Now I told you twice
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite
(my voice has the power of TNT. so does yours! most “influential” bloggers realize this, and don’t want to tell you the truth; they hide behind “lists.”)

I came to move move move move
Get out the way of me and my crew crew crew crew
(I will try to better nurture the friendships of my “crew” next year, because being friends with 3000 people on Twitter and Facebook is ultimately unsatisfying, and even lonely at times, and it is also dumb to waste time wondering why someone is not following me or unfollowed me when I have so many other friends who DO care about me.)

I’m in the club so I’m gonna do do do do
Just what the fuck came here to do do do do
Yeah, yeah
(be confident. don’t worry so much about what others think of me.)

Cause it goes on and on and on.
And it goes on and on and on.
(cause life don’t stop for NOBODY.)

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Saying ay-oh, gotta let go.
I wanna celebrate and live my life
Saying ay-oh, baby let’s go.
Cause we gon rock this club
We gon’ go all night
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite.
Cause I told you once
Now I told you twice
We gon light it up
Like it’s dynamite.
(be a light onto others. Be inspirational, but not in a phony pre-packaged way where I’m hiding my true personality.)

I’m gonna take it all like
I’m gonna be the last one standing
I’m alone and all I
I’m gonna be the last one landing.
(sure, it is sad when your friends stop blogging, or focus more on their book deals or go “professional.” everyone has a different path. I need to find my own.)

Cause I-I-I believe it
And I-I-I, I just want it all, I just want it all.
I’m gonna put my hands in the air
Ha-hands hands in the air
Put your hands in the air-air-air-air-air-air-air-air
(why not WANT IT ALL? what am I afraid of? good writing, a little attention, some money and fame, a hot babe in a sweater!)

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Saying ay-oh, gotta let go.
I wanna celebrate and live my life
Saying ay-ooh, baby let’s go.
Cause we gon rock this club
We gon’ go all night
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite,
Cause I told you once
Now I told you twice
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite

Announcing the Fifth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!

photo by Lotus at Sarcastic Mom

Dear God,

For four years we raised our voices in harmony, men and women of faith, and unbelievers alike (even with their dreary myths about dinosaurs and evolution), all in praise of the unity of man!

For four years, bloggers powerful and insignificant, those blessed with voices like angels and those who sound like Kermit the Frog, the confident and the theologically-confused, all came together to promote peace and harmony and love.  But when we look around our world, even after all our hard work, all we see is fighting and killing.

Are you not pleased with our songs and our delightful photos of our decorated trees, bright menorahs, and our cats wearing Santa hats?  Has our mission been a failure?  Are you telling us that our voices are not LOUD ENOUGH for you, that you are like the LA Lakers at the Staples Center, requiring us to stamp our feet and clap our hands, shouting, “We will, we will ROCK YOU!” just to get your attention?

I don’t know if I can promise you all that, oh, Creator of the Universe.  Bloggers are a tempestuous and a stiff-necked people.  But I do know we will be back for a Fifth time, in this familiar place,  bringing joy to others — and hopefully YOU — with our songs and photos and poetry, proving once and for all that we can be nice to each other, for at least one week out of the year!

And for 2010, we have a special treat.   Besides celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, we will be adding The Islamic New Year of Al-Hijira to the mix. (Arabic: رأس السنة الهجرية‎ Ras as-Sana al-Hijreya).  The Fifth annual concert will be renamed –  The 2010 Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert.

Imagine, all three of your major Monotheistic Religions, all with roots in the dusty Middle East, all singing each others’ songs!  You should be kvelling, God!

This year’s concert will be on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, right here on this space.   I realize that this is date is too early for Christmas and little late for the Jewish and Muslim holidays, but Hanukkah and Al-Hijira are early this year (starting the first week of December), so all three religions will need to compromise.  It will be good practice for the real world.

See you there,  God!   Arrive early for a good seat.   There are no favorites online.

Bloggers FAQ:

You make an audio file or a video file of you performing a holiday song.  If you don’t know how to do that, ask me.

You must be performing in the audio or video.  Don’t cheat and just have your cute kids doing all the work.  They can perform back-up.

You can sing, play an instrument, recite poetry, or even dance the Nutcracker.  We even once had someone playing a Christmas Carole on her iPhone.

You can post it on your blog and send me the link, or you can send me the file, and I will publish it on my blog.  If you don’t want to sing a Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Islamic New Year song, feel free to send me a holiday photo of your tree, menorah, or plain ol’ winter solstice if you are a heathen blogger.

Please sign up in the comments.   This is the official sign-up sheet.  You don’t have to do it today, but add your name as soon as possible.  This way we we know who is performing what, so we can avoid having ten versions of “Frosty the Snowman.”

Don’t be afraid that you can’t sing.  Those are the favorite songs of each concert, because we like to laugh at you.

Try to get me all the files by December 13, 2010, two days before the concert!

You can check out what has been done in the past.





Come join the celebration in this tradition that is already as well known as Burl Ives –  the longest-running holiday concert online — The 2010 Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!

And remember to tell your friends.

Forever 13

Today, I’m attending the bar mitzvah of the son of one of my closest friends.  This got me curious to go look at the photos from my own bar mitzvah.  As I looked at this photo of this thirteen year old boy, a somewhat disdainful look on his face, I thought about my last post, and how I was going to change myself into being a less moralistic person, looking at only the good in life and society-at-large.  But now I wonder if my character is just etched in the DNA, and I should accept my need to kvetch.

Moralistic Me

I’m more moralistic than you would expect. I’m easy-going and non-judgmental on a personal level, but when it comes to groups, I’m like an 19th Century hermetic crackpot who spends years writing a tract about the perfect society, and then gets pissed when no one follows the plan.

During my years blogging, I’ve been a crank at times about “the blogosphere,” as if it was a blueprint for an ideal virtual world where everyone is someone interesting and deserves to have a voice, bitching about cliques and BlogHer and blog networks and gender roles and branding and blog lists and blog widgets and self-promotion and monetization and advertising and integrity and authenticity and photographic manipulation and promotions and conferences and giveaways and even “blogging” itself — pretty much everything else that we all now do and believe on a regular basis without anyone giving any thought to it.

It’s not going to be easy for me, because my basic personality is as ingrained as King Arthur’s Sword in the Stone, but I’m going to try to focus more on my own writing and my own actions, and less on what YOU do. I will be a happier person because of this. When I think about you, I want to visualize you as goodhearted individuals, each trying to do his best for himself and his family, and not as a mob molding a Golden Calf out of melted Etsy jewelry and fornicating with camels, while I’m stuck on the cold mountain, my beard gray and dusty, waiting patiently for the Ten Commandments to be faxed from the main office, missing out on all the fun.

Community is a good thing, but it can also be the source of our unhappiness. I want to remember, that both online, and in real life, the individual relationship always come first, before any grand ideology about the community-at-large, no matter how idealistic the genesis. I need to do a lot of work on myself before I attempt to mold any of you into my image. Because even God did a pretty bad job with that one.

Talk Talk

My mother had a minor procedure done at NYU hospital yesterday, and she was first aboard with the surgeon, so we had to be there at 6 AM.

When we arrived, we were shuttled into a pre-surgery waiting room where several medical personal, including the nurse, the doctor, the doctor’s assistant, and the anasthesiologist, asked my mother questions, making sure she was in good health. The questions were repetitive and it seemed as every one of the staff asked the exact same questions. Maybe this is how they rationalize the $15,000 price tag for an hour procedure — they ask a lot of questions.

During the interrogation, my mother made the mistake of thinking that the nurse CARED about the details of her life, rather than simply getting the facts to prevent any lawsuits.

“Do you get out of breath when you walk?” asked the nurse “How much can you walk?”

“Oh, I can walk for miles!” answered my mother. “I’ve walked from 14th Street to Central Park! But sometimes, if I’m sitting a long time, like in the subway, it takes me a second to get up. But, knock on wood, everything is fine. The couch in the living room is a little low, making it hard to get up after watching TV if I put my feet up, so I’m thinking of buying a new couch…”

“Mom…” i interrupt. “She just wants to know if you are healthy enough for the surgery today.”

“Oh. Yes.”

The procedure went well and everything is perfectly fine.

Later in the day, I was on Twitter, talking on and on to those who don’t have me blocked, telling strangers the story of my day, and debating important issues such as — whether I’d rather have an dorky older established doctor with a medical degree or a really hot young one like in a TV show. As I typed my run-on sentences, it occurred to me that I’m not that different from my verbose, story-telling mother after all.


I miss biting a woman’s arm. I love that. I love to taste the salty skin until she pushes me away and says, “Stop it. That hurts.” But she likes it, despite what she says. There is a time for strength and a time to be dominated. I am the most alive when I am biting her like an animal. She knows it, and takes pride in the mark on her arm, like I had branded her with the heat of my unstoppable passion.

Find Me a Photo of Lindsay Lohan!

Since this is a post about stealing, I should be upfront right in the beginning, and say that I am stealing this post from myself — I already asked this question on Facebook.

It all started when I read Mom 101‘s post about some magazine titled Cook’s Source stealing a blogger’s written content because they considered it “public domain.”  If you don’t know about this story, Google it — it was the drama of the internet for a day or so.

I have respect for the written word, so I was pretty outraged by the entire subject.  I would never do such a thing.  OK, maybe in junior high, I swiped a few paragraphs from the World Book for my report on Cuba, but I TRY my best not to steal other people’s words.

But when I thought about the incident, I did feel a sense of guilt because apparently I DON’T have the same respect for photography as I do for writing.  My blog is chock full of “borrowed” images taken from Google Images, usually nothing very personal — an apple, a kitchen sink from a catalog — but stolen nonetheless.  In the past I used to credit every photo, but I got lazy — always throwing in the photo during the five seconds before I pressed publish.  I’m such a small time operator, so I figured it didn’t matter.

But after being scolded by Sarah on Facebook (she’s a photographer, natch), I promised to amend my ways.

From now on — I will be a good Citizen of the Month.  I will try to use material from Flickr, take my own photos, or to clearly give credit whenever I use a photo.  I can’t complain about assholes stealing my material if I am end up doing the same.

The question remains, what if you write an article about Obama, and want to use a photo of our good President.  Can I use one from the New York Times, given with proper credit?

Or let’s make believe I want to write a sensationalistic post about Lindsay Lohan.  Smart, right?  That will grab a lot of readers.   One problem.  The post is going to be dull as dishwater without a sleazy shot of the actress being drunk or not wearing her underwear.

So, how exactly WOULD I proceed to honestly get a photo of her.  Could I swipe it from say — the Entertainment Weekly site or The Superficial, and give them credit for the photo?  Don’t they buy it from stock footage companies like WireImage?  Can I find Lindsay Lohan on Flickr?  Are some of you members of a stock footage company where you get your photos?  Isn’t that expensive?  Can we still be small time blog operators, making no money –  and still make our blog posts dramatic with photos?

Can someone help me find a LEGAL photo of Lindsay Lohan?!

(first in a long imaginary series of “trying to act more professional online.”)

Update:  Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see how Babble Media handles their photos for their sites, and they have this posted, which gave me some insights into how it is done —

Babble Media Image Terms of Use

“Babble Media is committed to the presentation of online content that provides the best possible user experience, while also protecting the copyrights of the content producer as outlined in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Babble Media hosts a variety of blogs, articles and features that contain images posted by bloggers and editors. The types of images bloggers and editors are authorized to use on Babble Media sites include:

Images licensed from photographic archive vendors.
Images supplied to our editors or released into the public domain by public relations and marketing companies for press purposes.
Reader-submitted images, with the implied representation that the person submitting the image owns the copyright in the image and the right to give it to us for use on our site(s).
Images published on Flickr or other public photo sites with licenses granted under Creative Commons, with attribution in accordance with the CC license granted in each case.
Images commissioned by Babble Media.
Images that we believe to be covered by the Fair Use Doctrine, such as:

– Thumbnail images of 150×150 pixels or less, cropped or reduced in size from the original source.
– Images used to illustrate a newsworthy story, where the image itself is the story.
– Images used in a transformative manner, such as for parody.
– Images so widely distributed that they are deemed to have become part of the news.

If Babble Media receives notice that an image posted is not in keeping with these terms and conditions or the intended use of the Comments section where it is posted, we reserve to right to remove that image.

If you think we have published an image or text that infringes your copyright, and does not fall into the categories listed above, we will address your concerns. If it does not comply with our terms and conditions we may remove the image from our site.”

Interesting. Since the law is fairly general, I could say that a photo of a drunk Lindsay Lohan “illustrates a newsworthy story,” or that it is “so widely distributed” that it is part of the news. It sounds like I might have a bigger problem posting a photograph of an apple.

The Priests, the Merchants, the Fools

I’m beginning to think that in any social group or organization, every single person is necessary to paddle and steer the ship, even the ones who are the most despised.  Sure, things can get heated when various personalities get together, each with his own selfish agenda, but without the heat, there is no fire.  And without a fire for fuel, the ship just sinks.

You need the priests and professors and officials to set down rules and regulations, or else the result would be chaos and death.   These wise individuals are the ones who tend to officially speak for the others in interviews and get quoted at conferences.   They must be strong souls or run the danger of being corrupted by power.

There is the bourgeoisie class, sometimes mocked by the intellectuals as philistines who are only interested in materialism and baby product giveaways.  But, these individuals are the central core of every organization, the ones who build our homes, raise our families, and provide us with blog traffic.

And then there are the court jesters, the rabble-rousers, the anarchists, many of them bitter and destructive, committing mutiny, while others play an important role of changing the landscape, of sailing out into the sea when common wisdom says that the earth is flat.  These characters either become the most famous or die penniless.

The priests, the merchants, the fools.  Land ho!

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