the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: November 2013

Announcing the Eighth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!

Christmahanukwanzaakah ConcertNOW ON December 21st, 2013.

There will be no sponsors. There will be no causes.

There will be no mentions of number of Twitter followers or academic degrees.

There will just be singing.

And the celebration of this 21st Century village, this online world, where diverse individuals from around the globe have access to one another almost 24/7, and where friendships have no barriers.

It is time for the announcement of the Eighth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, all new, all exciting for 2013!

The online concert this year will take place on December 17, 2013, one month from today, right here on this blog.

It is time to hear YOU PERFORM!   YOU are the CONCERT.

Sign up in the comments today.

Concert FAQ:

1.  Create an audio file or a video file of you performing a holiday song.  If you need technical help, ask me.

2.  You must be performing in the audio or video.   Don’t cheat and have your cute kids doing all the work.

3.  You can sing, play an instrument, recite poetry, dance the Nutcracker, or create music on your iPhone.

4.  Once completed, you have the choice of posting it on your blog or YouTube and sending me the link, or emailing me the complete multimedia file.   Try to get me everything by Sunday, December 15, 2013, two days before the concert!  That gives you plenty of time to be creative.

5.  If you don’t want to sing a song, send me a holiday photo for concert decoration.  It could be of your tree, menorah, or plain ol’ winter solstice if you are a heathen.

6.  The comment section is the sign-up sheet.    By signing up, we can see who is performing what, so we can avoid having ten versions of “Frosty the Snowman.”

7.  Most importantly — don’t be intimidated if you can’t sing.    We like to laugh at you.

8.  Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012

Join us in the longest-running holiday concert online – The Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, now in it’s eighth season!

Good luck!   You have a month.

Not Upworthy


A few weeks ago, I told you a story about this woman who swept the floors in my local McDonalds, and how she hated the staff there, calling them “animals.” I told you how I befriended her and encouraged her to apply for this other job at a supermarket. I told you how she got the job and how we said good-bye one morning, with me giving her a vague promise to visit her someday at her new job.

What I didn’t tell you was that three days later, she was back at McDonald’s, cleaning out the trash receptacle. She couldn’t handle the job. She said the owners were crooked and sold rancid potato salad. The owner’s son yelled at her and called her stupid. So she left the job (or was fired) and was forced to beg the manager of the McDonald’s, a woman she completely despised, to give her the job back, even offering to work longer hours.

In three days, she aged ten years. Disappointment and failure were etched on her face.

It’s taken me two weeks to tell this story — because I was afraid. This story reeks of failure, of a woman accepting her limitations, of weakness, of bitterness. I do not see this story ending well.

I didn’t tell the story because I didn’t want it rubbing off on me, to have YOU associate with me with failure. After all, on the internet, all failure must be banished, like lepers to a solitary island of diseased misfits. The Army of Positiveness has won, not through any violent blitzkrieg, but by steady infiltration.

At first there were those kindly quotes on Twitter, misquoting Eleanor Roosevelt, urging us to never give up on our dreams.  Soon, these messages appeared on colorful graphics on Pinterest and Instagram.  Blame was placed on the individual’s own brain, with the difference between success and failure based on how you THINK.  Much of this advice was true. Scientists have shown that even smiling more often can enhance your mental health.  But as the positivist movement entered the video stage, the extremes went pushed into obsession, much like those Venezuelan female mannequins that presented “idea” womanhood as having enormous breasts that shoot out like the peaks of Machu Picchu.

Look at you. Sitting there with that dour face. How can you be so lazy when this paraplegic has not “given up” on life, participating in an iron man competition? Sure, you might be having a double mastectomy, but is that an excuse to not dance to a disco song with your medical staff right before surgery in a viral video? And what loser proposes to his girlfriend WITHOUT a flash mob?

It broke my heart to see this woman back in McDonald’s, at the job she hated, with the staff she felt were “animals.” I said, “I’m sorry,” and then finished my coffee. I then wondered if I should even write about this in my blog, fearing that it would affect my reputation.   After all, you are only as good as the upworthy ones who you keep in your life, not the wrong ones heading for disaster.

Therapy, NYC: The First Two Contacts

Therapist’s Office Over Manhattan’s Only Hooters.

First Contact

“Hello,” I said as I answered my iPhone.

“Hello. This is Steve Goldman. You left me a message.”

“Oh hello. Thanks for calling. Yes. I was recommended to you and I was interested in making an appointment.”

“Of course. May I ask who recommended me to you?”

“Yes. Oh. Uh, wait. Can you hold on for a second? I’ve put you on the speakerphone of my iPhone for a second while I go to Facebook. This is embarrassing. You see, I’ve known the person who recommended you for six years, but I never knew her real name, only her online name, NewYorkMamaS. You know how it is online. But I knew you would be asking for her name, so she messaged me yesterday on Facebook with her real name, but now I’ve completely forgot it. It’s something that starts with a “S.” I know she needs to remain anonymous because of her work, but she told me her real name anyway, which was nice of her — although I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone else other than you.”

“It doesn’t really matter.”

“No, no, I’ll get it. One more second. I’m on Facebook. It’s just slow. It’s this new update to the Facebook app that’s slowing it down. All the advertisements. It slows things down. Everything has to be ruined with advertisements and monetization. Whatever happened to REAL talking with a friend, one on one? Maybe that’s what intrigues me about therapy. Of course, even in therapy, I would be paying you, so that is monetization too. But that’s different. I suppose it’s the world we live in. Aha, here it is –Shana Danbury is her name! So funny, knowing so much about a person via online life — about her family, her dreams, even the brand of vibrator that she uses, but not her real name! By the way, you do know Shana Danbury, right? She was your patient? Is she normal? I don’t really know her. Ha Ha! That’s only a joke.”

On my iPhone, I could hear him scribbling notes.

Second Contact

“I’ve always wanted to go into therapy. I mean, I did once go to a therapist with my ex-wife, but it was HER therapist, and it didn’t exactly work out the way I hoped, because we ended up just fighting over who the therapist liked better, so that was a bust. But now I’m taking action on my own, which is a big deal, because I sometimes have a problem taking action.”

“And what made you finally take the step to call a therapist on your own?” asked my new therapist.

“You want to know the truth? Of course you want to know the truth,” I continued. “That’s why I’m here.”


“Well, you know how everyone is catching up on old TV series on Netflix and places like that? So, I’ve been watching the Sopranos over the last two months. I’m now on Season Five. It’s a pretty intense experience. And there’s this big subplot where Tony Soprano goes to this female therapist –”

“Yes, I’ve seen the show.”

“Anyway, it’s like I relate to Tony Soprano in many ways. Like if only I was Italian instead of Jewish, lived in New Jersey instead of Queens, and grew up in a mobster family instead of whatever the hell my parents did. Frankly, my father would be a terrible mobster. Just too nice and not aggressive enough. I’d probably be a bad mobster, too. Maybe my mother could be a mobster’s wife, but it would probably make her too anxious if she knew he was out there beating up people. But back to the point. I noticed that Tony Soprano made a lot of changes in his life by going into therapy, so I figured if it was good for him, why not me?”

“You do realize that the Sopranos is a fictional TV show?”

“Of course. But I also write a lot. And I’ve always believed that there is a fine line between the fictional and the real. And to be honest, my final two choices as therapist was between you and a female therapist, but I decided to go with you because you’re a man, and I didn’t want to be like Tony Soprano, thinking what it would be like to fuck his female therapist so much because that would be a waste of my therapy time, since we only have an hour. Or fifty minutes. Why do therapist only give you fifty minutes, anyway? Shouldn’t it be an actual hour? It’s a bit of a rip-off if I might be so brave to say.”

My therapist didn’t answer, but he certainly took a lot of notes.

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