Here is a video of the piece I read at the “Listen to Your Mother” show at Symphony Space in NYC in May. Â I met so many wonderful people because of that experience. Â Â You can also see the other videos from the show on the same YouTube page.
I had no idea anyone would watch this video outside of my Facebook friends, so I didn’t put it on my blog, Â which means, of course, that YouTube and Facebook got all the traffic instead. Â If there is one thing I’m not, it’s a marketing genius.
I also never bothered to credit the fine cast, so I blew it for them, too. Â So, thank you, wonderful actresses. Â You played pretentious bloggers so well you’d think that it wasn’t acting at all.
Suzan from The Suniverse
Tracy from Sellabit Mum
Jenny from Oh, Jenny Mae
Wendi from They’re Not all Gems
Marinka from Marinka NYC
Val from Bonbon Break
Alexandra from Good Day, Regular People
Arnebya from What Now and Why
And best of luck to those involved in the American Blogger project. Â Seriously. Â I know how difficult it is to get an independent film made.
Many of you ask me about my religion, wondering if I truly adhere to the belief in an all powerful, all-knowing God.
Here’s what I think: None of us can truly know if God exists, but anyone who admires nature, must see that there is a Grand Organizer serving as the CEO of the Universe. Season come and go, babies are born; life is a perfect cycle, the ultimate musical symphony. Even the parts of life that make no rational sense at first do HAVE MEANING, once we devote ourselves to examining the mysteries. All you need to do is OPEN YOUR EYES.
Let’s take the idea behind aging. We get old and die. It is rather dumb idea. If you were going to create a MAN in your image, would you really go out of the way to make him start out as young and strong, and then, as then as he gets older and wiser, have his body and mind fall apart until he is just plain dead, lying in a hospital bed.
Makes no sense, right? This God should be fired, or at sued, like Toyota is being sued with their faulty accelerators on the Prius.
But hold on. Let’s approach it from another angle — a philosophical method — one operating under the assumption that God carefully and methodically plans life out with an organizer on his heavenly iPad.
This morning I took a walk outside. Summer is approaching in Los Angeles. The flowers are blooming. Women are walking around in tight t-shirts and shorts. I found myself attracted to several of these women. Some were young, some were older.
And what type of thoughts were flying through my head? Yes, the existence of God.
Here’s why —
When you are a man in your early twenties, you spend most of your time trying to get into the pants of a woman your age. All other women seem too old, unless you are a Mrs. Robinson type perv.
As you move into your latter twenties, you notice that your female friends are ALSO in their late twenties. It shocks you to realize that they are actually SEXIER now than women in their early twenties. What happened? They have more confidence, more life experience. Of course, you wouldn’t refuse to hop in the sack with a twenty-two year old, but your age range has expanded, creating more opportunities.
I know every man remembers the moment he turned thirty and opened his eyes, and said, “Holy shit, women in their thirties are f**king hot!” Ten years ago, these would seem like old women. Now they are in their prime. These women have lose their shyness, and it is not uncommon to hear a thirty-five year old woman telling a man on a first date, “How about after dinner we go back to my place, watch the last episode of Lost, and I’ll give you a blowjob you will never forget.” No woman in her twenties would ever say that. Of course, as a man, you are still attracted to women in their twenties. But now, in most cases, you are attracted to women in their twenties AND THIRTIES.
You see where this is going. This natural selection continues as the man ages, so by the time a man is in his eighties, he is interested in fucking every woman from 21-89. Without God lower his libido, can you imagine how difficult it would be for a 90 year old man to go outside without tripping over his erection and breaking his hip?
Luckily, God is merciful. Even with the lessening of the libido, there is a point in a man’s life when he is attracted to women his own age, his daughter’s age, his granddaughter’s age, AND HIS great-granddaughter’s age. The pain is just too much for anyone, and God, in his wisdom, allows him to die.
I wanted to clarify something about my last post where I criticized the mean-spirited nature ofÂ the viral website,Â The People of Walmart, just in case someday, someone catches me one day making a joke at someone’s expense, and points his finger at me as being hypocritical.Â Let me say this clearly:Â I am PRO-MOCKERY and PRO-HUMOR.Â In fact, I have been registered with this political party since grade school.
I believe it is my right, even my duty, to make fun of myself, my family, my friends, those who comment on this blog, those who follow me on Twitter, Dooce, any blogger who gets a free trip anywhere, mommybloggers, politicians, actors, and customer service representatives.
As one commenter mentioned in defense of the site, there are several other websites online that have a similar snark appeal as The People of Walmart, some of them amusing, such as the viral site titled Awkward Family Photos.Â Unless I am mistaken, the major difference between the two websites is that in Awkward Family Photos, readers send in their own strange family photos, while in The People of Walmart, amateur photographers are secretly taking photos of other shoppers, much in the same way that perverts slip cameras under the skirts of women to get photos of their underwear, or if they are lucky, their privates, and then publish it on the web!Â That is something that makes me uncomfortable.
But like I said, I am all for making fun of MYSELF and those close to me!
As so many of my blogging friends are involved in online giveaways or work as brand enthusiasts, is it becoming difficult to make jokes about these companies.Â I have friends with “business” connections to vibrator manufacturers to Butterball Turkey to Kmart to Hebrew National Hot Dogs.Â If I make a joke about one of these products, I might actually be hurting a friend’s livelihood, or at least a free trip to Disneyland.Â I try to be respectful, although in my opinion, the personal and promotional go together as well as olive oil and cheez whiz.
On Twitter, there are these weekly conversations, called Girl’s Night Out, which are sponsored by a company.Â A few weeks ago, it was a night of chatting sponsored by Crayola.Â Every tweet had the hashtag #crayola, so my Twitter timeline was filled with #crayola hastags, even if the discussion at the moment was about something unrelated, like the latest episode of Project Runway. I found this incongruity funny, but when I made a joke about my own childhood experience using Crayola Crayons, no one seemed amused.Â Why?Â Because I actually talked about Crayola Crayons, not the point of the event, which was to promote some new for-school products by the company!
I understand the interest in working with corporate America, and not biting the hand that feeds you, but there is something wrong in the world when we become more respectful of a crayon company, at least in terms of humor, than the average person on the street.
I noticed this attitudeÂ in many of the BlogHer recaps, particularly those written by corporate or PR bloggers.Â The villains were always the trailer trash moms,Â who threw babies against the wall in a rush to get at the swag, and never the classy marketing-savvy ones who fit a certain demographic, and were better connected to the bigger companies.Â There was a great deal of humor made at the expense of these mothers, who would do anything to grab another freebie, as if they were shopping on the day before Christmas.
I was surprised how few people joked about the other side of the coin — the corporate circus, the companies all over the place, those who created the swag, sponsored the parties, built the huge statues of Ragu bottles in the dining room, or had the Michelin man tumbling around the lobby like a scene out of Ghostbusters.Â I found that extremely funny.Â But at the end, no one talked about the corporations, or the marketers, or the PR firms.Â The laughing stock were the clueless “mommybloggers,” average women on a weekend away from the kids, who got caught up in the chaos, and now had to be reigned in under Integrity.
I was reminded of this experience at BlogHer when I read some of your Tweets about the immensely popular viral site, The People of Walmart.
Now, granted, Walmart is a “hated” institution, a symbol of America gone wrong.Â Whether Walmart deserves this label is debatable.Â There is evidence that, everyone’s favorite big-box store, Target, is not much better of a corporation, but just seems more sophisticated because they carry Michael Graves tea kettles.
What is interesting about this site, is that it isn’t about Walmart at all, or their corporate policies.Â That would be too political, and would raise some uncomfortable questions that would affect all of us.Â Â No, the site makes fun of the patrons — usually small town residents who have nowhere else to shop.Â Â And not just ANY small town residents, but those crazy enough to walk into the store dressed terribly, or wearing Captain America outfits.Â Basically, this site is making fun of poor, uneducated, and mentally unbalanced America in small town America with no other resources but to go to Walmart!
This is a much different take on “freaks” than the photos of one of my favorite photographers, Diane Arbus, who presented her subjects in with a loving, humanistic manner.
“Hilarious”Â “Funny”Â “I love it!”Â That’s what some of you had to say about The People of Walmart.
Rule number one of Blogging with Integrity:Â I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people.
Of course, it is OK to make fun of those at Walmart because most of them don’t have computers or blog or Tweet, so they will never know that we are laughing at their photos taken WITHOUT their permission and plastered online for our amusement.
Just as long as we don’t make fun of Kashi Go Lean Crunch! because a friend of a friend is doing a giveaway.
Humor is very important. I’d rather hear good jokes than see a naked woman in my bedroom. Of course, if the naked woman was the one telling the jokes, I wouldn’t complain. Especially if she was also carrying a corned beef sandwich.
You see, that was sort of a joke. Not a good one, but then again, you didn’t pay to come to this blog.
Sophia likes to laugh. That’s one of things that keeps us together. Tonight, we watched Bruno and Carrie Ann’s Dance Wars. The song and dance routines were so bad, that we were laughing it up. The show was like a bad high school production, and you couldn’t even blame the writer’s strike. Thankfully, it put us in a happy mood. Who said TV couldn’t couldn’t have a positive effect on personal relationships?
Since I’m on the subject of humor — how many of you have heard a guy tell a real joke in Yiddish? Probably not many of you. I don’t know Yiddish, but I imagine every joke to be much funnier in that language.
Here is a guy telling some jokes in Yiddish. I’d like to imagine that I would be like him if I was born during his generation. Eh, I probably would be too shy. It is much easier writing a blog.
(Mom, if you want to watch this, remember to turn the sound ON)
Sophia and I had the worst flight back to Los Angeles. Sophia had a cold. The obnoxious couple in front of us had a crying baby. The airplane was cramped. When we arrived in Los Angeles, LAX was backed up because of the RAIN! We waited in the airplane for two and half hours!
This morning, back at Redondo Beach, Sophia is sick in bed, drugged up on cold medicine. She turned to me as she woke up from an unrestful sleep.
Sophia: “I had a weird dream. But it was so vivid. Like it was real.”
Neil: “About what?”
Sophia: “About the laptop. It was broken.”
Neil: “A virus?”
Sophia: “No, it was physically broken. And I really wanted to use the laptop, but every time I would lift up the top, it would just fall down and do nothing. Like it was weak. It was totally frustrating.”
Neil: “Could you turn it on?”
Sophia: “Of course I can turn it on, that’s not the problem. I kept working on it, over and over again, trying to keep it up. It was as if my life was depending on it. I kept on trying to prop it up. But the top would just fall down, useless. Up, down, up, down. And then I got tired of trying to make it go up, because it would just stay up for a second, then flop down again.”
Neil: “That’s a weird dream to have about your laptop.”
Sophia: “Yeah, it was especially weird because I was actually trying to use YOUR laptop.”
Neil: “My laptop?”
Sophia: “Isn’t that weird? Why would I have this dream?”
Neil: “Hmmm… You know, maybe you should take another Contac, go back to sleep, and hopefully you’ll forget we ever had this conversation.”
P.S. — Hey, what do you want? I can’t write heartfelt pieces about Kissena Boulevard forever!
I usually work on my desktop in my upstairs office. Sophia works on her laptop in the downstairs living room in front of the TV. How do we communicate from such a distance? The medium keeps changing, but the message stays the same.
Sophia (screaming at the top of her lungs, as if she was Alice on the Honeymooners): “Neil, did you throw out the garbage yet?!”
Sophia (typing on Yahoo Internet Messenger, interrupting my blog reading): “Neil, did you throw out the garbage yet?!”
Sophia (ringing me on Skype, interrupting my blog reading): “Neil, did you throw out the garbage yet?!”
A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Tis the Season for More Male Insecurity
NEW YORK (AP) — Only a week after the announcement that the character Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series is gay, the fictional world is again shocked with the revelation by Steven Blanc, son of voice artist Mel Blanc, that the perennial prankster “Bugs” Bunny of Looney Tunes cartoons is also gay. This announcement, while unexpected, give new and clearer meaning to many of the on-screen exchanges between the smart-aleck “wacky wabbit” and his put-upon nemesis, Elmer Fudd.
Bugs Bunny was in love with his male rival, Steven Blanc says.
The author of “Bugs and Elmer: A Forbidden Love,” stunned fans at the Academy of Motion Pictures annual Warner Brothers Looney Tunes Night, when he answered one young reader’s question about Bugs by saying that he was gay and had been in love with Elmer Fudd for years.
‘”You have to remember that this was Hollywood of the Golden Age, even before Rock Hudson. The studio just wouldn’t allow it. Instead, Bugs and Elmer expressed their love for each using homosexual codes of the day, such as Elmer pointing a gun at Bugs, and Bugs responding with a squirt of seltzer in his face. Those in the closeted gay community clearly knew that Bugs famous “What’s Up, Doc?” was the password to get entry into the notorious Hammer Club on the Sunset Strip.”
The news of Bugs Bunny’s homosexuality brought gasps, then applause at the Academy, and set off thousands of e-mails on Warner Brothers cartoon Web sites around the world. Some were dismayed, others indifferent, but most were supportive.
” ‘BUGS BUNNY IS GAY’ is quite a headline to stumble upon on a Friday evening, and it’s certainly not what I expected,” added Looney Tunes fan Charlie Johnson, of Trenton, New Jersey. “(But) a gay character in the most popular cartoon in the world is a big step for gay rights.”
Note, November 2010:Â This is not true.Â It is a joke.Â This was NOT approved by Warner Brothers.Â Â And Mel’s son’s real name is Noel.Â And just so you know — Bugs Bunny is probably my biggest literary influence.
I don’t like Halloween. I don’t like that children walk around play-acting as if they are ghouls and goblins, as if it is all a joke. Because it isn’t. There are dangers in this world that are too gruesome to even talk about.
I told Rob to be careful. He was one of my oldest childhood friends. We were in our mid-twenties, single, full of vigor, our entire lives ahead of us. We were camping in Colorado. Neither of us knew much about camping, seeing as we were both nice Jewish boys from Queens. We wanted to try it… to see the stars at night. Before we left, we attended a class at Paragon Sporting Goods near Union Square, where we learned to pitch a tent and filter our water. However, no teacher could ever prepare us for… the wolf.
I told Rob to be careful. Don’t go to far from the campsite at night. He laughed. He was just going to take a pee. I heard the sudden rush of the leaves, the scream, Rob on the floor, and beady eyes of the wolf, blood dripping from its paw. When the wolf saw me, he ran away. Why? I will never know. I rushed Rob to a hospital in Boulder. He would be OK. He only received flesh wounds. Rob was lucky that I showed up at the moment when the wolf attacked. He would live. At that moment, neither of us knew that his living was an option worse than death.
After our camping trip in Colorado, Rob moved to Chicago, and we lost touch. I frequently thought about him. What was his life like? Was he married? I searched for him on Google, with no success. Last week, I received a phone call from Rob. He said he needed to open up to someone, to unburden himself from the years of terror. He told me a story that made my hair turn white.
The following is a verbatim transcript of the phone conversation:
Rob: “After our trip, I moved to Chicago to work for an investment firm. It was a good job and I felt that I was a success. I was dating a lot of hot babes and my life was good. The only difficulty I had was with my arm — where the wolf bit me. The wound would burn like hell, as if ten thousand needles were being shoved into my arm. I would get faint at work and pass out. I started making mistakes with my clients, even losing millions of dollars by selling stocks short. I was fired, disgraced. No on would hire me. My body felt weird, as if it was elongating. I noticed hair growing all over my body, at a rapid rate. I had an insatiable urge to eat meat, even raw meat right from the package at the supermarket.
The worst was when there was a full moon at night. I would wail like an animal. All I could think about was finding a woman, a virgin, and devouring her like a monster. My body grew grotesque and my clothes felt so constraining, that I shredded them to pieces. Full of blood-lust, I careened down North Michigan Avenue, naked, my ears flared, my fangs ready, growling as my nose smelled the scent of a nearby virgin. She was standing outside the Gap, having just bought a pair of khakis, when I stood on my hind legs, and raised my paws, ready for the attack. She screamed, her face in shock at seeing a man-wolf on a city street, but as she looked me over, she started laughing, hysterically.
I made a hideous growling sound, but she just chuckled and pointed.
“Your penis. It’s so small!” she said.
Horrified at her mockery, I ran from her while crying, the cold Chicago wind hitting my face. I raced up the stairs of my building and jumped into my apartment, closing the door behind me. Disgraced and embarrassed, I spent the night watching “Millionaire” and eating raw meat. I was a failure as a werewolf.
I tried several more times, whenever a full moon hung high over the city. I could feel the transformation of my body, the saliva that would build up in my mouth, and the deadly paws that were ready to pounce on a new victim, but whenever I would raise my man-wolf body in the attack position, the woman would laugh at my penis.
I went to my family doctor, Dr. Eugene Fishback. I told him that I used to have a normal sized penis, but ever since I became a werewolf, it shrunk.
“Very interesting, Rob.”
“I’m not Rob anymore, Dr. Fishback. I’m the Werewolf.”
“I understand that. But your insurance still has you down as Rob. It’s probably better that we stick with that for insurance reasons.”
“Yes, good idea. Thanks, Doctor. So, what about the penis?”
“Well, the test results show that you’re getting a tremendous amount of adrenaline in your system whenever you transform into a wolf, and it is having an affect akin to steroids. It is changing your body in many ways, one of them being that it is shrinking your penis.”
“How can I be an effective werewolf with such a small penis?”
“It is mostly in your head, Rob. I’m sure there are werewolves with all sorts of penises. It shouldn’t really affect your performance when you go out searching for prey.”
But it did. I’ve always been insecure about things. Even in elementary school I used to get Bs on my report card, and I didn’t feel as smart as you.”
Neil: Oh, come on, Rob… I mean Werewolf. You were always very popular. Grades in school didn’t really matter that much.”
Rob: “But they did to me. I felt the same insecurity as a werewolf. Here I was, looking all scary and dangerous, from the waist up, but one little thing below the waist made my victims laugh at me.”
Neil: “Could the doctor do anything for you?”
Rob: “He gave me some pills, but nothing worked. I just got headaches. I tried Prozac for depression. Nothing. I went to herbalists, Chinese doctors — nothing worked. Finally I decided I needed help. I enrolled in a 12 step program for Monsters and Ghouls who don’t quite live up to their own standards. There was a witch who would get yeast infections from riding her broom, a vampire without teeth, and the ghost who was too lazy to scare anyone.”
Neil: “Did it help?”
Rob: “Not really. But I made some good friends. I became particularly close with the witch, Syeira, and we sort of hit it off. We became friends… with benefits. Man, was she wild! One day, she saw that I was moping around, looking at my small werewolf penis, when she said she might be able to help me. She opened up an ancient book of spells, and started to chant:
Wagga Wanna Wigga
Make His Penis Bigger
The room started to shake and I felt a surge of energy in my body. I screamed. I revolved like a whirling dervish and was thrown against the wall. I dusted myself off and stood up… and Syreira had succeeded! My penis was twice as big as it was originally! It was the happiest day of my life. I grabbed her and made love to her for the rest of the night.”
Neil: “That’s great. I’m so glad that you are happy!”
Rob: “The story isn’t over. The true horror has not even begun!”
Neil: “Oh no!”
Rob: “We’re men, you and I. We always screw things up, right?. Despite being happy with Syreira and my now-successful life as a scary werewolf with a giant penis, I found it hard to commit to just one woman.”
Neil: “I hear ya.”
Rob: “After coming home from a long night ravaging a virgin, I’m not in the mood to do the dishes, or talk about “her day.” I told her that if she gets yeast infections from her broom, she should just stop being a witch and stay at home and clean. She didn’t talk to me for a week.”
Neil: “Yeah, relationships are tough.”
Rob: “One weekend, Syreira came home from some witches’ convention a day early, and caught me in bed f**king her sister. She went crazy, calling me every name in the book. I tried to apologize, saying she was partly to blame. After all, she’s the one who gave me my new penis. Shouldn’t I be sharing it with the world?”
Neil: “It makes sense to me.”
Rob: “She immediately ran to her book of spells, and chanted:
Woodle Yoodle Oodle
Turn Him to a Poodle
And the damn harpy turned me into a poodle. A little white poodle. That’s what I am right now. That’s why you never hear from me. Can you imagine how difficult it was to use the phone?”
Neil: “But what about being the werewolf?”
Rob: “I’m not a werewolf anymore. I LOVED being a werewolf! Now I’m a stupid poodle!”
Neil: “I’m so sorry, Rob. I’m so sorry.”
Rob: “And the scariest thing is that she kept the new penis on me, so as I walk, it scrapes against the floor, causing me pain — just to punish me for my transgression.”
Neil: “My God, how cruel.”
Rob: “Women who feel wronged are the cruelest.”
Neil: “This is the the most HORRIFIC story I have ever heard.”
Note: Be careful… on Halloween!