the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: bloggers (Page 1 of 3)

Disclosure and Transparency

My blogging friend, Mocha Momma, was on NPR yesterday talking about the topic of the day (actually it has been a topic for five months now):  “Are Marketers Ruining the ‘Mommy Blogosphere?”

This “disclosure” issue seems to be embedded in the a rock, stuck without movement.  How can we keep the blogosphere “transparent?”   Is a blogging with integrity badge enough?   As I sat here pondering this, I thought of Shakespeare.   If he were writing a sponsored review of a product, how would he proceed?

As an English major, I am uniquely qualified to answer this question.   I can safely say that I know exactly what William Shakespeare would do in this situation.  Just look at the opening scene of Hamlet.   In that famous scene,  the Sentinels wait for the Ghost of the King.   We do not meet the main character, Hamlet, as of yet.  Instead, Shakespeare uses these secondary characters for exposition, setting up the scenario BEFORE we meet the star.

The same technique can be used in a sponsored review.  Rather than jumping right into the meat of the post with the review, jarring the audience with an overload of information, the blogger/reviewer could take his time, much like Shakespeare does, setting the stage and the atmosphere, and drawing his audience into the story with suspense and needed exposition.

Here is an example of an updated Shakespearean-type introduction for a sponsored review of Welch’s Grape Jelly, using the American English of today, that solves both the disclosure AND the transparency issues in one swoop.

“The following is a review of Welch’s New and Improved Grape Jelly.  The nice people at Welch’s sent me a case of their product, as well as invited me to their headquarters in Concord, Massachusetts, paying for my airfare and hotel, where I enjoyed a blogger get-together and lunch with the entertaining and gracious Mr. and Mrs. Welch.”

BOOM.  That’s it.  This “intro,” as we might call it nowadays, would “set the scene,” explaining to the audience the backstory.   If I was this writer’s friend, I will probably go, “Oh, how nice for you!  I’m curious to hear more!” And I will read your review, and I will believe what you say, because I have seen your integrity IN ACTION.  You have set up the story properly, right from the beginning.   Shakespeare would never put essential information at THE END, like so many of you do, because it makes for bad drama.   I don’t want to read about a product and learn at the END that the writer was paid to write it, or got some freebies!  That is like watching King Lear for three hours, being totally confused by the plot, and only finding out in the last act that he has three daughters!  That is poor playwriting!

So let’s thank Shakespeare for a simple and effective solution to our blogging woes.  Why don’t we just make this the standard, like the intermission at a Broadway show, so then we all are on the same page and there is no confusion?

Or as Hamlet told Horatio in his final moments, “If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, / Absent thee from felicity a while, / And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain / To tell my story of Welch’s Grape Jelly.”

What Happens in Vegas, Gets Blogged About in Vegas


Marci of LvGurl, Shana of Gorillabuns, Kim of 180/360, Andrea of Alphababy, and Elisabeth of Little Miss Mel.

Top photo taken by Sophia!  Bottom photos by Kim.   More photos taken by the talented Kim on her flickr account.

Last December, I participated in a virtual baby shower for Shana of Gorillabuns.  In my post for her, I wrote the following —

Like with most bloggers, I don’t remember how I met Gorillabuns.  Probably through Ms. Sizzle.  Blogging creates weird blogfellows.  What I like most about Shana is that she is funny.  There is nothing sexier to a man than a funny woman.  Some of the best moments with Gorillabuns did not occur on our blogs, but in emails — we’ve had some amusing discussions about subjects such as marriage, her obsession with rock bands, and especially — juicy blogger gossip.

Why do we connect to one person and not another?  Is it random?  Timing?  Or does each individual have a unique spark that you either see or you don’t?

If I were to follow the advice of pro bloggers, I would not have befriended Gorillabuns.  She is not in my “niche.”  I’m not sure I  even want my manly Citizen of the Month “brand” to be associated with a bunch of girls involved in a surprise blogger baby shower.

But, you know what — if I was practical about using blogging for career advancement, I would have missed out on the friendship and humor of Gorillabuns, who is one of the coolest people I have met online.

Sadly, Gorillabuns lost her baby, Thalon Bruce Myers, in April.

This week, a few of Gorillabuns online friends brought Shana to Las Vegas for some days of drinking and debauchery.  I thought this was a smart idea, and not inappropriate at all.    It must get tiring to have everyone tip-toe around the sad event, or, in reverse, everyone forgetting to treat Shana like a regular person.   Shana’s trip would give her an opportunity to open up a little to her special friends, while still doing what women do while visiting Las Vegas — playing blackjack, drinking lemon drops, and attracting drunk men in the casino.

Sophia and I arrived at Kim’s home on Saturday night, the night after meeting Black Hockey Jesus.  I was so excited to meet Kim, one of my long-time blogging friends.  I gave her a big hug, as I did Shana.  I could still see the sadness in Shana’s eyes, but her humor and intelligence were still intact.  She is even funnier than on her blog.   She immediately hit it off with Sophia.

After a drink, the first of many, we went to Morels French Steakhouse in the Palazzo.  I sat at the head of the table, surrounded by six sexy, well-dressed women.  I must have looked like a rock star, or someone very very very rich.  Even the waiter nodded at me and said I was very lucky to be alive.  He then handed me the wine list, figuring it was my manly duty to order the correct wine.  Talk about poor gender profiling.   I immediately handed the wine list to Kim, because my choice would have just been “the cheapest thing you have on the menu because I drink the two dollar wine from Trader Joe’s and it is fine with me.”

Later, we drove to downtown Las Vegas and ended up at some casino bar, listening to a band playing Led Zeppelin tunes.  Gorillabuns and Sophia gambled their money away at a blackjack table, and I was forced to drink way too much by Kim.  The rest of the night was a blur.  The next day, I woke up at 3PM.

I can now quit blogging because on Saturday night, I pretty much achieved — and SAW — everything I wanted to in my blogging career.

Real People

As I revealed yesterday, I had started to gather up photos of many of you.  I am still searching for those missing from the list.  A few of you don’t have Flickr accounts, so I’ll just have to imagine what you look like, unless I figure out another way to steal your photo.   I didn’t hear any complaints about this little project of mine, so I am proceeding with it.  Tonight, I added a few more faces to this prestigious collection of blogger mugs shots.

I just made a Flickr slideshow of all the faces.  How cool.  All these bloggers, passing before me, one after another, right on my monitor.  These are the smiles and eyes of individuals who I know mostly through words.

But do I know the real you?  If I didn’t have these photographs, I would walk right past you on the street.  You might seem familiar for a second, but I wouldn’t assume that I knew you from blogging.  I would more likely think that I remember you from an episode of “All My Children” last year, where I would wrongly peg you as the actor playing Erica Kane’s new cook.

Perhaps it is better that I don’t know the “real” you.  This gives me the freedom to write whatever I want on this blog.  I never have to see your reaction to anything I say.  I don’t have to see you rolling your eyes in dismay or shaking your head in disappointment.

All these faces.  Men and women with families, with significant others.  People at work.  At home.  At school.  At conferences.  Dressed up.  Dressed down.  In New York.  In Canada.  In Arizona.  You are actually REAL PEOPLE.


Oh my God, and I sit here sometimes writing about things like… my penis.  You are REAL PEOPLE reading this.  You are sitting in your living room, reading this!

This photo idea was a bad one.  It is better not to know that you are real.   Writing is easier when you are figments of my imagination, a loyal gathering of glamorous sex goddesses who sit by their laptops, wearing the latest in French lingerie, caressing their bodies as they read my latest post.  That’s who I see as my demographic.  Not real people.

Sanford and Stanford

Sanford:  Hi, I’m Redd Foxx.

Stanford:  And I’m Wille Garson.

Sanford:  Together we play Sanford and Stanford, on the new hit CBS comedy of the same name.

Stanford:  And if you have no idea what we are talking about, you apparently didn’t read Neilochka’s last post, which has been up there for at least five days. 

Sanford:  Yeah, what’s your problem?  Why didn’t you read it, you sucka?  How would you like one across yo’ lip??!

Stanford:  Ha Ha, Redd.  Remember, non-violence is the answer.  Unless, we are fighting for a table at Hugo’s in West Hollywood for Sunday brunch!

Sanford:  That was one lame fruitcake joke, Stanford. 

Stanford:  On our show, the two of us are constantly battling as I attempt to transform Fred’s old junkyard into a trendy B&B for the gay, lesbian and transgender community. 

Sanford:  Transgender?  What the hell is that?!

Stanford:  (whispers something in his ear)

Sanford:  Holy…!  (grabbing his chest)  Oh, this is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth?! I’m coming to join you, honey!”

Stanford:  Ooh boy, and I thought only gay men were drama queens!

Sanford:  As you can see, on Sanford and Stanford, we play it up for laughs.  But today, as part of CBS Cares, we’d like to talk to you about something that is not funny at all — an issue that is heating up America during this election year.

Stanford:  We are speaking about “Can Male and Female Bloggers Ever Be Friends?”

Sanford:  And Stanford and I both agree — the answer is “Yes”.

OK, this is Neilochka.  I am interrupting this post for three reasons.

1)  It is not that funny.
2)  I cannot come up with a good ending.
3)  I am worried that readers born after 1980 have never heard of Sanford and Son, and will think of me as an old fart who doesn’t know what LOL means.

The point of this post is to say that I met Astrogirl from Notes From the Bunker this weekend.  We had a great time together.  We had pizza at my favorite Queens pizzeria, Valentino’s.  We saw art at the Frick Collection.

We then went to a cool exhibit on Chinese Propaganda at the Asia Society. 

We ate sushi and I got slightly drunk on sake.  Oh, and yeah, she is married, so it was all safe.  There was no action other than her letting me see her tattoo on her back.

But Astrogirl was also nice enough to give me hints on some “do”s and “don’t”s for when I actually go on a REAL date.

For example, don’t make a woman self-conscious about food.  I’ve met quite a few female bloggers for lunch and I am always fascinated by what they order — and don’t order.  I’m always wondering — are some women afraid of being seen eating a sandwich or finishing everything on the plate?  Is it a rule for the woman to fake insecurity about ordering dessert?  Do women really want a “side salad” when the man orders a six foot hero?  Should the man order a boring salad too, just to show comraderie?  Finally, while it might seem like a compliment to tell a classy dame like Astrogirl that, “You are ordering two slices of pizza?! I love that you’re doing that.  I hate when women only order a salad and never finish it.  You clearly have no phobia about eating!  I knew I was going to like you in person!” she probably is going to overlook the accolades and just think that you are calling her a pig.

Sanford:  I know my sister-in-law Esther can swallow a whole franchise of Domino’s in one night.

Esther:  You shut up Fred, you fish-eyed heathen!

Sanford:  Oh no, Esther, where the hell do you come from?  You scared me.  You are so ugly, I could stick your face in some pizza dough and it would scare away the tomato sauce.

Stanford:  Come on, you two.  I hate when people fight.  Unless of course if it is a party at David Geffen’s home and we both show up wearing the same outfit!

Sanford:  Stanford, you big dummy!

Neilochka:  Boy, this Sanford and Stanford idea is as unfunny as a SNL skit! 

(By the way, don’t worry, Astrogirl, I’m also gonna tell my readers that you are like size -4 so other women can hate you as one of those skinny bitches who can eat two slices of pizza without even worrying about it).

Is the Blogosphere More Democratic or Republican?

Note:  From the comments I have already received on this post, I can tell that this post doesn’t really work — at least the way it was intended.  Now I know why people avoid writing boring political posts.  What I was trying for — and didn’t succeed — was to broaden the terms of liberal and conservative into ways that don’t necessarily follow political lines.  So, just because you like Sarah Palin does not automatically make you “conservative” in the way you act in the world on a daily basis.    It just makes you Conservative politically if you have her beliefs on abortion, etc. 

Is the Blogosphere more Democratic or Republican?  Liberal or Conservative?  These are the type of questions I ask myself when I wake up on a Tuesday morning.

I am looking for something more than the party politics of Liberal/Democratic and Conservative/Republican.    I want to think about the core ideologies behind the labels.  I am going to be overly-simplistic here.  Feel free to call me an idiot for trying to make sense out of this topic.


Respect for Authority (tradition, family, values)
Personal Responsibility (the free market, small government)


Freedom (openness, rights of underdogs, lack of tradition, free speech)
Social Responsibility (social programs, public schools, striving for equality, big government)

Who do I consider a liberal?  My mother.

On Sunday, my mother and I took a walk to the local Catholic Church, which has a flea market each week.  It is a pretty lame flea market.  It is mostly locals selling their crap.  We never buy anything, but it is fun to look at the old toys, albums from the 1970’s, touristy dishes bought on vacation at Niagara Falls, etc.  It reminds me of  the joy of reading blogs, getting a chaotic slice of each person’s life and history.  What did this woman do at Niagara Falls?  Why did she buy this plate?  Was it a gift?  Was the trip an unpleasant one so she is now selling it to overcome the lifelong trauma?

As we were walking to the flea market, we passed a yeshiva for young religious Jewish boys.  We were surprised that they had school on Sunday.  It must have been lunchtime because they were outside in the playground, running around and acting like energetic boys.  If they weren’t wearing yarmulkes, you would have no idea they were Jewish.  The games and rough-housing was the same as in every other school.

My mother noticed that one boy was sitting by himself in the corner.

“How sad.  I feel bad for him.  No one is playing with him.”

I found her statement odd, because she was reading so much into the scenario.

“How do you know this?”  I asked.  “He could be eating his lunch, or tired.  Or maybe he broke his foot last week so he needs to sit.”

“No, he clearly wants to play.  And the others are not nice.  They should ask him to play.  But you know who really is at fault here.  The teacher.”

A young rabbi was standing by the gate, watching all his students.

“He should get the others to play with him.” said my mother.

My mother is a liberal who clearly believes in the government (the teacher) getting involved.  She is registered as an Independent.  She even flirted with voting for McCain because she is worried about Obama’s inexperience.  But in ACTION – and her daily THOUGHT process, she is “LIBERAL.”

Sophia is a registered Republican.  Every once in a while, people email me asking, “How could you MARRY a Republican?”  The truth is she is very LIBERAL in the way she acts towards others. She is not anti-minority or anti-gay or anti-abortion.  She is conservative in her view of personal responsibility, but I have noticed that that has even changed through the years.  After dealing with our crappy and expensive health insurance, I think she is much more in favor of some sort of socialized health plan.

If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has Pacificare for their medical insurance.

Diane of Of the Princess and the Pea recently had an experience where her young daughter and her friend revealed their political leanings when they met a homeless man.  One girl wanted to help him with a social program.  The other was cynical, thinking he would abuse the system, and not get helped at all. 


In July, right before the BlogHer conference in San Francisco, I read this popular post by Schnozzfest. In the post she addressed all the shy introverts who were attending the conference, trying to motivate them to overcome their wall-flowerness.  Rather than getting angry at the popular girls “ignoring them,” she suggests that they should get some balls and be more friendly.   It was a very well-written post, but I was in a bad mood that day, so I wrote a semi-obnoxious comment:

This was a powerful and well-thought out post. As someone who fights his own insecurities, I’m going to copy this onto my laptop, because – like you say — this is about more than BlogHer.


…I find myself feeling a little uncomfortable with the thesis. I come from a long tradition of bleeding heart liberals, and your message sounds very much like that of a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” conservative. In any social environment there are going to be hierarchies and social groups. Of course, it is up to the insecure to fight their “high school” fears and speak up. But I would like to hear from the “cool kids” in this imaginary high school. What is their responsibility to others? Do you just talk amongst yourselves, or do you reach out to a newbie? I strongly agree that people should stop acting like victims. This is an excellent message to send to those who are shy and insecure: stand up for yourself! This is something I work on all the time. I just hope that everyone who comments on this post saying, “I wish I said this” will ALSO take the time to reach out, since we are supposedly a “community of bloggers.” While it is the individual’s responsibility to put herself “out there,” there is nothing wrong with going to the wallflower hiding behind the plant and saying hello, especially when we’ve all been in that position before.

Do you see how much I am like my mother?   If you go to Schnozzfest’s site, you can see her reasoned response.

Can we really think about political labels such as liberal and conservative out of the political arena?   Would it add anything to the typical over-heated political discussions we usually have if we acknowledged that some Democrats act more conservatively and some Republicans are more liberal in the way they deal with others?   Some might think Lieberman was a traitor to his party to speak at the DNC, and others as the ultimate “liberal” in his blowing off the authority of the Party and following his beliefs, no matter how unpopular.  

In some ways, the blogosphere is Democratic/Liberal — not only in politics — but in form.  Anyone can start a blog.  There is freedom of speech.  There is lack of censorship.  The “little guy” is given a chance to speak out against the powerful.  There is respect for all races, religions, and beliefs.  There are a great many grassroot communities online where members care about each other and help each other learn and grow.

Of course, most of the blogosphere grew up during the Bush administration, so it isn’t surprising that there is also strong Republican/Conservative bent to this imaginary world – especially in the way it operates.  There is a whole lot of focus on making money, concern for own niche about others, old boy and girl networks, marketing, corporate sponsorship, links, authority, the free market, etc.  The white faces, corporate sponsorship, private parties, and swag of the RNC reminded me of… BlogHer. 

So, if you had to describe the leanings of the blogosphere,  would you say it leans more left or right — to community first or a system of haves and have nots?   Or is everyone a little bit “liberal” and “conservative,” leaving behind the politics of the terms, in the way we live our lives both online and in the real world?

Not Playing By The Rules

Important Update: Monday 1:15PM — Before you read any further, I have been reminded by a friendly caller from the Los Angeles area that I have called HER as much as she has called ME, and that this post is completely one-sided.    She is right.   OK, now continue:

Important Update 2:  When Sophia called about the lizard in the garage, she just wanted to tell the story.  She never asked me for advice on how to capture it or to insinuate that I should do anything to help her — other than look on the internet and google “lizards.”

I am going to get in so much trouble for this post, so be nice and don’t take sides.  These are more philosophical questions than anything else.

When a married couple separates and moves 3000 miles away from each other to “get some space,” is it really appropriate for the female party to call twice a day and then get upset if the male party would rather chat with some blogger than play online backgammon with her?

If a man is walking in Manhattan enjoying the sites and he gets a call from his separated wife 3000 miles away that there is a “lizard” in the garage, what the hell is he supposed to do?  Take a flight home to kill it?

If a man buys a webcam at Radio Shack (on sale!) thinking he might “communicate” with his separated wife 3000 miles away on Saturday night, is that wrong?

Other than that, I’m doing pretty good.  I forgot what being with myself all the time was all about.  Well, myself… with my mother cooking dinner.   OK, I know that is hurting my sexy quotient with some of you, so let’s just keep the information about me living here with my mother for the summer very quiet… at least until BlogHer is over.   From now on, I will refer to her as “the older hipster/roommate who was written about in the New Yorker magazine.”

On Saturday night, I went into “the city” and met a group of really cool bloggers — Miss Britt, Karl, NYC Watchdog, Poppy Cedes, Cissa Fireheart, and hellohahanarf, as well as some strange overly-friendly guy we met walking on the street who ended up coming to dinner with us and hitting on both Karl and hellohahanarf!

I always find it so much fun to meet bloggers for the first time.    Sometimes, they are more shy than their online personality.  Other times, it is the complete opposite.  It is always the one who writes the knitting blog who ends up standing on the bar stool, waving her blouse in the air.  Unfortunately, nothing that dramatic happened on Saturday night, other than someone kissing that strange guy we met on the street.   The New York heat was oppressive, so we didn’t want to walk too much (Note to visitors:  come to New York in the fall, spring, and winter.   Avoid the summer!   This is when everyone leaves.)   We ended up in a karaoke bar.  It was a decent place, but the contigent from Florida was insulted that they charged two dollars just to sing a song.

Welcome to New York City!

The Blogger Interviews (The Great Interview Experiment)

Here are the links to most of the interviews done in 2008 for the Great Interview Experiment.

To join up in 2009, add your name to this list.

Ascender interviews Pam of Nerd’s Eye View

Pam of Nerd’s Eye View interviews McKay

V-Grrrl interviews Finn of A Life Less Ordinary (also here)

Madame Diva interviews Penelope

Jennifer of Open Book interviews Tiddlywink

Gorillabuns interviews Sizzle (also here)

Kathleen interviews Nathan

Nathan interviews Margalit

Chantel interviews the Watkins Lady

Watkins Lady interviews LvGurl

Geeky Tai-Tai interviews Tatiana

Cookiebitch interviews Melanie of “Not Just Nouns and Verbs”

Whoorl interviews ByJane

Abigail interviews Mrs. Mogul

Sizzle interviews Madame Diva

Walking Punchline interviews Marriage-101 (also here)

Rosa interviews Julia from “Not Graceful Enough”

Natalie interviews Fringes (also here)

Karen Sugarpants interviews Karl

Fringes interviews Helena

Jill of “Glossyveneer” interviews Gorillabuns (also here)

Neilochka interviews V-Grrrl (and here)

Dave of “Dave’s Beer” interviews Black Belt Mama

Julia interviews Bec of “Out of My Tree”

Seven interviews Schmutzie

Otir interviews Cookiebitch

Kerflop interviews Merry Mishaps

Caron interviews Glossyveneer

Sarah interviews Chantel

Elisabeth interviews Otir

Marriage 101 interviews Seven

Helena interviews Ali of Cheaper Than Therapy

Penelope interviews Lisa

Finn interviews Caron

Karl interviews Sarah

Ingrid interviews Blackbird (also here)

Joe interviews Red Red Whine

Margalit interviews Melanie of Artful Kisser

Schmutzie interviews Karen Sugarpants (also here)

Merry Mishaps interviews Katie of The Dilettante Debutante

Blackbird interviews Witchypoo (also here)

Nat interviews Bev

Not Faint Hearted interviews Ash

Lara of Red Red Whine interviews Will

Kirida interviews Ashley

Wendy interviews Walking Punchline

Victoria of The Prophesaur interviews SparkleSunShine (also here)

Tatiana interviews Di of Woman Wandering

Q interviews Samuel

Palinode interviews NotFainthearted

Tiddlewink interviews Sarah of Doodah!

Sarah of Doodah! interviews Kerflop

Witchypoo interviews Miguelina

Will interviews Natalie of Tell Me About It

Miss Britt interviews Kelly (also here)

Noir Betty interviews DaveX of Startling Moniker

Miriam interviews Elisabeth (also here)

Whit interviews Annika

Black Belt Mama interviews Shelley (also here)

Claire interviews Kelly of Ordinary Art

Sarah from In the Rouge interviews The Prophesaur (also here)

Not Fainthearted interviews Ash in Amsterdam

Emily interviews Miss Britt

Ashley of Splendid Sustenance interviews Oleoptene

Robin of Montanamoonshine interviews GB

Kristen interviews Fatboyfat (also here)

FatboyFat interviews Robin from MontanaMoonshine

Janie interviews Kristen

LvGurl interviews Abigail Road

Johnna interviews Michelle of Fabricated Goddess

Kyran interviews Ree of Hotfessional

Commis Chef interviews James from the Ink (also here)

DaveX interviews Maitresse

Shash interviews Whoorl

Rilla interviews Commis Chef (also here)

Andrea inteviews Jenny of Absolute Bananas (also here)

Oleoptene interviews Actorgirl

Kelly interviews Kim of Parachuting with a Net

Melanie interviews HeyJoe

Fabricated Goddess interviews Amber at Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck

Nichole of Esmon interviews Rodger Jacobs of Carver’s Dog

Bryna interviews Shash (and here)

Cog interviews Leahpeah (also here)

Loralle of Looney Tunes interviews Ascender Rises Above

Kristy of She Just Walks Around With It interviews AKA Monty

GB of Tidings of Comfort and Joy interviews Zookeeper

Woman with No Regrets interviews ChildsPlayX2

Curiosity Killer interviews Geeky Tai-Tai

Julie Scott interviews Emily of Something Shiny (also here)

Linsey of Uncouth Heathen interviews Tex in the City

-R- interviews Little Miss Mel (also here)

Talina interviews Janelle of Junk food for the Soul

Mary Pat of My Second Journal interviews Lisa (also here)

Lisa interviews Jeni

Maitresse inteviews PocketCT

Dry Ink interviews Gunfighter

Feral Mom interviews Will

Jen interviews Cog (also here)

Nancypearlwannabe interviews Nichole

Candy interviews herself

Peeved Michelle interviews Fivetoedsloth

Emily interviews Feet Firmly Planted

Di interviews August

Chris in Oxford interviews Courtney of Malfeasance

Danny interviews Arjewtino

Pocket Aces interviews Mary Pat

Hotfessional interviews Barbetti (also here)

Theresa of My Fairbanks Life interviews Jessica Mae Stover

Jenny from Absolutely Bananas interviews Rhi in Pink

Fitena interviews Sarah

Monica interviews Elaine of Just a Reed (also here)

Elaine of Just a Reed interviews Kathleen

Frank interviews Ally

Zookeeper interviews Frank

Red Lotus Mom interviews Frogdancer

Lesley interviews Val

TimeCzar interviews Janie

Nadine interviews Ingrid

Jennifer interviews Fitena

Kristabella interviews S.K. Waller

Leigh Anne interviews Erika of Dry Ink (also here)

Donna interviews Time Czar

Bri interviews Red Lotus Mama

Angela from Sparklie Sunshine interviews Emily

James from The Ink interviews Rachael from Antithete

Theresa from My Fairbanks Life interviews Fringes

Becky interviews Sarah

Artful Kisser interviews Miriam

Kate interviews Robyn from Pocket Aces

Miguelina interviews Jenny of She Likes Purple (also here)

Janelle interviews Talina

Nat interviews The Lost Albatross

Elaine interviews Kathleen of Unsettled

Sara interviews NancyPearlWannabe

Jen of Quarter Life Crisis interviews Sara

RA interviews Jen of Quarter Life Crisis

Whitney Barbetti interviews Laura of What a Life (also here)

Heels interviews Stacy of La Boudoir

Simon interviews Tiffany (also here)

Red Pen Mama interviews Uncouth Heathen

Katherine interviews the Muse

Rob interviews Michelle

Smtwngrl interviews Jacob (also here)

Matthew of Child’s Play x2 interviews Jake

Jessica Stover interviews Turnbaby

Theresa interviews Danny of Jew Eat Yet

Frogdancer interviews Alunfoto

Fabrcated Goddess interviews Johnna

Deep Muck interviews Alisa

Widget interviews Nancy

Ally interviews Torrie (also here)

Tiffany interviews Beck of Deep Muck Big Rake

Shelley interviews Jane Poe

Five Toed Sloth interviews Heather

Jake Jakob interviews Chris

Jeannette interviews Becca

Jenn interviews Nat

Nat interviews Jenn

Lori interviews Suebob of Red Stapler

Jane interviews Akaky (also here)

Smtwngrl interviews NoRegrets

Jen interviews Claire of TTAT

Carolyn interviews Kerrianne (also here)

The Muse inteviews Angela (also here)

Alisa of A Juicy Life interviews Lesley

Vanessa interviews Widget

Leah interviews Wendy of Of Boys and Books (also here)

Avitable interviews Feral Mom

Shannon interviews Marge of Marge in Real Life (also here)

Marge interviews Molly

Sarah interviews smtwngrl

Erin interviews Clyde

Turnbaby interviews Chris in Oxford (also here)

Mocha Momma interviews Fairly Odd Mother

Jacob interviews Brittany (also here)

Jen from Semantically Driven interviews Kristabella

Sheila interviews Sleepynita

Angela interviews Erin (also here)

Kelly of Ordinary Art interviews Callie (also here)

Molly interviews Sue Katz (also here)

Julie interviews Anno

Theresa interviews Savia

Savia interviews Theresa

MILife interviews Sarah of Pink Cereal and Raspberries

Witchypoo interviews ciboulette

Jeanette interviews Indecisive Peach

Egghead Jr. interviews Dana of MILF in Progress

Dana interviews Jen of Semantically Driven

Michelle interviews Carolyn

Fabricated Goddess interviews CuriosityKiller

Toni interviews Mountainmama

August interviews Christine (also here)

Erin interviews Juliezilla

Sleepynita interviews Mocha Mommy

Fairly Odd Mother interviews Going Like Sixty

Arjewtino interviews Sassy

Michelle interviews Carolyn

Dan interviews Mark Roberts

D interviews Rob

Liz R interviews Toni

Headbang8 interviews Liz R (also here)

Sarah interviews Melina

Tricia interviews Sarah

Wendy interviews Ciboulette

Sarcomical interviews Loralee (also here)

Pam of Nerd’s Eye View interviews Indecisive Peach (also here)

Melina interviews Ragtop Day (also here)

Karen interviews Squeaky Wheel

Butterfly interviews Sappy Chick

Mr. Fabulous interviews himself

Hamster_Grrl interviews Dingo

Sappy Chick interviews The Roaming Southerner

Jackc interviews Z

Jennifer/The Word Cellar interviews Laurel of Sass Attack

Chris interviews the Unreliable Narrator (more here)

Hamster_grrl interviews Sensibly Sassy

Nancy Pearl Wannabe interviews Definitely RA

PMJG interviews Bzzzzgrrrl (also here)

Sassy interviews Kristy (also here)

Rachel interviews Jenny of Zesty Enterprises

Jack interviews Marinka

Backpacking Daddy interviews Redneck Mommy

Fear and Parenting interviews Anissa

Mandy interviews Average Jane

My Mumbling Thoughts interviews Miss Grace

Oh, the Joys interviews Backpacking Dad

Mary Beth interviews San Diego Momma

San Diego Momma interviews Amelia Sprout

Amy interviews Ry of Arts and Dafts

Ry of Arts and Dafts interviews Elisa of Diary of an Unlikely Housewife

A.C. of Thunder and Windchimes interviews Mary Beth

Elisa interviews Sam of My Mumbling Thoughts

Winter interviews Kevin of Always Home and Uncool

Overflowing Brain interviews Fear and Parenting in Las Vegas

Vodkamom interviews Winter

Sherendipity interviews Gin

Forever in School interviews Merie

Mama Ginger Tree interviews Katie from Overflowing Brain

Sheilamia interviews Ali

Ali-Rn Mom interviews T of Send Chocolate

Pretzel interviews Papa of PapaTV

Carmen interviews Charming Bitch

Marinka interviews Shiny

Katy interviews Heather

Heather interviews J

Headless Mom interviews Mary P. Jones

Meg interviews Pretzel

Suzanne interviews Meg of Mad Woman and here

Meg of Mad Woman interviews Katy

Charming Bitch interviews Renee of But Why Mommy

Kerri interviews Carmen

John interviews Manager Mom

Jen interviews Alix

MamaMPJ interviews Maia

Sophie in the Moonlight interviews Jen at 12 Steps Closer

Katy interviews Heather

Sisyphesse interviews Debbie at Real World Martha

Announcing the 2007 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert


“Sing a Christmahanukwanzaakah Song,” recorded by Neilochka (mp3)

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of dreidels and snow
Sing of Santa and mistletoe

Sing, sing a song
If you’re a blogger
You definitely belong
Don’t worry that you don’t know the words
To Frosty the Snowman well

Just sing
Sing a song

La la la la la… it’s Christmahanukwanzaakah!

It is now time to raise our voices in song again in this new holiday tradition. Hanukkah songs about miracles. Christmas songs about faith. Winter songs about the beauty of the season. Kwanzaa songs about new traditions. It is the 2007 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, right here on Citizen of the Month on Monday, December 10th (with a re-broadcast on Christmas Day). The concert is for YOU and by YOU — and this year will be bigger and better than last year.

If you want to participate, just say so in the comments or email me ASAP. Please try to tell me what song you want to sing, so we don’t have five people all performing “The Little Drummer Boy.”

1) You can send me either an audio file or a video.

2) You can host it on your own site or send the recording to me directly. If you host it yourself, just send me the URL.

3) A blogger must participate in the performance, not just your kid dressed as a snow angel. It must be YOU and your kid singing together, or YOU playing the guitar as backup.

4) I must receive the final song by December 9 for the concert on December 10th. This gives you two weeks to record it.

5) If you have any question on how to record a song, just email me. It is very easy to do using your computer.

6) Have fun! You don’t need to sing perfectly!

7) If you are too much of a wimp to sing, send in a photo of your Christmas tree, Hannukah menorah, snowmen, or your family all dressed up in their Holiday best — we’ll use it to decorate “the set.”

And remember, on November 30 – December 2, the weekend before the concert, there will be the Blogger Holiday Online Arts and Crafts Fair , also hosted here. Come and find some cool Holiday gift ideas, made by bloggers themselves. If you sell your artwork or crafts, and you want to participate as a “vendor,” email me at neilochka at yahoo dot com.

Cliquish Blog Post About Other Bloggers I Like

(Leah, I’m stealing this photo you took to give
others a false sense of my sophistication. )

On Friday night, I saw the musical “Wicked” at the Pantages Theater with Wendy from Quiet About Alot of Things.    Although Wendy lives in Colorado, she grew up in Pasadena, and came to town for her high school reunion. 

Although I didn’t find Wicked’s music that memorable, the story was fantastic.  It is based on a novel by Gregory Maguire, and is a revisionist re-telling of “The Wizard of Oz.  The Wicked Witch is the moral heroine, the Good Witch is a bimbo, and the Wizard of Oz is a selfish, power-hungry tyrant.  It all works perfectly and makes you feel as if the Judy Garland movie is nothing more than a propaganda film.  I’m a big fan of the Wizard of Oz, but I always felt there was something sinister about the Wizard, especially the way he hid behind his curtain.

Do bloggers hide behind curtains?   I love meeting bloggers because I get to see them without the smoke and mirrors of their blog posts.  I don’t suggest that we are sinister behind the scenes, but that we can only show a representation of ourselves in our writing.   Most of us hide behind curtains, even in real life.  Part of the reason I’m in therapy now is that I’m trying to peek behind MY OWN curtain.  I think we sometimes would rather see our own superficial self-image than confront who we really are inside.

If I read someone’s work, I usually get a sense of their character from the page.  What is surprising is how much MORE the person is in real life, as if the real Wizard has just stepped out from behind his curtain.

I talked a little bit about this with Wendy because I visualized her to be slightly different than she turned out to be.  On the page, she is very introspective, and she writes very evocative, sensual poetry.  I imagined her as a pretty, but somber Poetess, perhaps someone who wears a lot of black.  I did not expect a feisty dynamo of a woman jumping out of her rental convertible, her hair flying in the wind, someone who relaxes at home by showjumping horses competitively!  Which one is the real HER?  Probably BOTH of them!   She is a MOMMY and a WIFE and an ATHLETE and a POET.  I really enjoyed hearing her stories.  I might write “spicy” stories on my blog, but believe me — there are some who have actually LIVED them!  (I’m not going to mention anyone’s name, Wendy, and ruin their innocent reputation)

On Saturday night, a group of bloggers got together in LA to welcome the very cool Heather B from No Pasa Nada, who was visiting California.   She seems to know everyone in the blogosphere.  I’ve met Leah and Abigail before, and they are both really wonderful people.   Leah — who organized the LA Bloggers Live  group — always seems to be working on some new creative project.  Here is her new Leahpeah Store!    She took some nice photos of our meeting, like the one on top.   I recently kicked Abigail’s ass on Facebook’s Scrabble.   Next time, I need to be a little more careful because her confidence is strong after winning five thousand dollars on a game show.

I didn’t know Heather from Nabbalicious until recently.   Her photography is terrific.  I expected her to be very chic and artsy in person, but I didn’t expect her to be a little… klutzy, in a sexy, Lucille Ball kind of way.  She walked around all night at the Grove and the crowded Farmer’s Market with this beautiful, expensive camera around her neck, looking very professional, but she also had a habit of poking random strangers in the back with with her zoom lens.   Now, that’s sort of goofy, but hot. 

Sophia liked this photo that Heather took of me.   

Probably, my biggest surprise of the evening was Joe, Leah’s husband.   First of all, I tend to avoid talking to men when there are four beautiful women around.  The first time I met him, I was under the impression that his blog was mostly about PHP code, which is about exciting to me as… well, PHP code.   But I was totally wrong.   Joe’s been blogging before “blogging” was even a word.  Even though there is a lot of tech stuff on his blog, there is also a good amount of heart-felt personal stuff, including recent posts about his mother and her health.  His blog is also the perfect place to sneak a view of what Leah looked like in 2002.

The next blogger I’m scheduled to see in person is Laurie of Crazy Aunt Purl.  She starts her book tour on Thursday, October 11th at the Barnes and Nobel at the Grove at 7:30 PM, right across from the restaurant where I met the other bloggers.   When we passed the bookstore, I told Heather B. about Laurie’s book signing.  Heather spoke about Laurie’s amazing writing talent, and how popular she is with her readers.   I had to laugh to myself because if I had known about Laurie’s popularity, I would have feared approaching her, much like Dorothy meeting the scary Wizard of Oz.  Instead, the first time I accidentally came to her blog I noticed a photo of the Farmer’s Market, where she is involved in Stitch N’ Bitch.  I emailed her, excited to see this location in a photo, because it is one of my favorite places in LA.  After she responded, I immediately started to flirt with her, as I tend to do, making mention of some sexy boots she was wearing.  At first, I didn’t even bother to read her blog.  Who wants to read a blog about knitting and cats?  Is there anything more girly?  However, once I started reading her blog, I realized that Laurie had a lot more to say underneath it all.  She doesn’t just write about knitting.  She has a unique way of combining humor and emotion, so you laugh while getting a glimpse behind the “curtains” of her personality.   I remember thinking to myself, “This blog should be more popular because it is so good.  I really should tell people about it,” imagining a shy woman who is writing just for herself and her cats.   And then I noticed she was getting like 300 comments a day.   Oops.

(Laurie, no need for any thank you for this public service announcement about your book tour, but I wouldn’t mind a photo of you wearing those boots for my personal collection  — and please write my name as “Hot Stuff” when you sign my copy of your book tomorrow)

The Overcoat Photo (Behind the Scenes)

IM Message One (Neil and Sophia)

Sophia:  (in Los Angeles)  How’s the weather?

Neil:  Tonight it is freezing.

Sophia:  What are you wearing?

Neil:  My leather coat.

Sophia: Don’t wear that.  It’s too cold for a leather jacket.  Wear that other coat.

Neil:  The old one?

Sophia: Yes.

Neil:  It think it may be too short on me now.  Let me see.  Later.


IM Message Two (Neil and Sophia)

Neil:  I took a photo of the me in the coat.  I’m sending it to you.  How does it look?

Sophia:  I can hardly see anything.  Everything looks orange and dark.  Can’t you photoshop it?

Neil:  It will be faster for me to take another photo.  Be back.


IM Message Three (Neil and Sophia)

Neil:  I’m sending another photo.  This one is special for you.

Sophia:  Ha Ha.  That’s cute!

Neil:  I used Photoshop and combined two photos — a naked one and one with the overcoat!  I stood in the exact same spot for both.

Sophia: What color is the coat?

Neil:  Grey.

Sophia:  It looks orange in the photo.

Neil:  It is the bad lighting.  I tried to fix it in Photoshop, but it just washes everything out.

Sophia:  It looks like your mother’s coat. 

Neil:  It is not my mother’s coat. 

Sophia: What man wears an orange coat… other than a pimp?

Neil:  Do you like the photo?

Sophia:  It’s funny. You should post it on the blog.

Neil:  Are you serious?

Sophia:  Yeah, why not.  You can’t see anything.

Neil:  I’ll think about it.  I don’t have anything for tomorrow anyway. 


IM Message Four (Neil and Charming but Single)

Neil:  Hey, C!  What’s up?

Charming:  Not much.  Work really sucked today.

Neil:  Why?

Charming:  Because my boss…

(Fifteen minutes later — Why do women remember every little detail of their work day while men just answer, “Nothing”?)

Neil:  Can I ask you a favor?  I want to send you a photo.  Tell me if you think it is OK to post.

Charming:  Sure.

Neil:  It is a little risque.

Charming:  You’re not sending me a photo of your penis, are you?

Neil:  Why would I send you a photo of my penis?

Charming:  You write about your penis.  

Neil:  I write about my penis.  I don’t take photos of my penis.

Charming:  Well, some men do.

Neil:  You have men sending you photos of their penises?

Charming:  Some guy from just sent me one last week.

Neil:  Why would he send you a photo of his penis?  What are you going to do with it?  Put the photo on your fridge?

Charming:  I have no idea. 

Neil:  Believe me, I’m never going to send you a photo of my penis.  Expecially when it is so cold.

Charming:  You are an enlightened man.  Please tell other men that sending a photo of your penis to someone you just meet on does not make you good dating material.

Neil:  If you are going to send a woman something, it should be a photo of your bank account.

Charming:  I just want a nice, normal guy. 

Neil:  I will pass the info on to the blogosphere.

(note:  C is available and very charming.  Men, I perfectly understand your love of your own penis.  But please do not send any photos to a woman you are interested in.  Let it be a mystery until the day of the big unveiling.  Would you want her to send YOU an unrequested naked photo of herself? [uh, note — edit out that last sentence later])

Neil:  Well, C, here’s my picture?

Charming:  Oooh, cute! 

Neil:  Cute?  It is supposed to be a little risque, not cute. 

Charming:   I find it cute.  I like your little hat.

Neil:  Can I post this on the blog?

Charming:  Yes.  Hot!

Neil:  Do you like the coat?

Charming:  Is it your mother’s?

Neil:  It is NOT my mother’s!

Charming:  It’s orange.

Neil:  It’s gray.

Charming:  So, is this what you are doing in New York?  Taking naked photos of yourself?

Neil:  Just one photo.  To show how cold it is… in an artistic way.

Charming:  Yeah, right.

Neil:  Do you have any “artistic” photos of yourself you want to run by me?

Charming:  No. 

Neil:  OK, so thanks.  Let me post it.

Charming:  Wait, wait, wait… I haven’t finished telling you about my boss today. 

Neil:  Oh, yes… go on…

Charming:  So, we’re at this conference, and I’m giving this presentation… and remember, I was working on this all weekend… and… my boss…

(As she told me about her day, I thought about the title of my first best-selling self-help book on male-female Venus-Mars relationships:  Women Like to Chat, Men Like to Photograph Their Penis)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Neilochka Leaves His Apartment

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