the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: mothers (Page 2 of 2)

Popeye Attacked by Anti-Spinach Mob


The title of this post is misleading.  I was going to write a humor piece about Popeye, but as I sat down to watch an old Popeye cartoon on YouTube, a long-repressed memory was awoken, much as the memories of childhood of Proust’s narrator in “Remembrance of Things Past” was awakened by the aroma and taste of a madeleine dipped in tea.”

As i listened to the final “boop boop” of the Popeye closing credits, I went back to my childhood, when I used to watch reruns of Popeye on a local New York TV channel.  I must have been very young at the time and I was fascinated by the triangle of Popeye, Olive Oyl and the villainous Bluto.

The plot lines in the animated cartoons tended to be simple.

A villain, usually Bluto (later renamed Brutus for a time), makes a move on Popeye’s “sweetie”, Olive Oyl. The bad guy then clobbers Popeye until Popeye eats spinach, which gives him superhuman strength.

I especially liked it when Olive Oyl melted in Popeye’s arms at the end, after he defeated Bluto.


As an only child, I was competitive with my father for my mother’s attention.  I think Freud would have loved to analyze my childhood obsession with Popeye.

I would ask my mother to cook some frozen spinach.  After they were cooked, I would have her  put the cooked spinach into a used can of Spaghetti-Os so I could make believe that I had a can of spinach like Popeye.  I have no idea why we just didn’t use a can of spinach!   Once I had my can of spinach as my acting prop, I became Popeye — in the same way Sir Laurence Olivier became Hamlet.  My mother was Olive Oyl.  She would go into her bedroom or the kitchen and cry for help.  I would eat some spinach out of the can with a fork, flex my bicep, and rush in to save her from whatever danger she was in.

Jeez, no wonder I repressed this.  How embarrassing!


I called up my mother tonight.

Neil: Guess what I’m going to write about in my blog tomorrow?  “Popeye and spinach!”

Mom: Really?  Be careful with spinach.  There’s all that bad bagged spinach coming out of California.  Remember to wash it first.

Neil: I’m not calling you about spinach.  Do you remember watching Popeye?

Mom: I never watched Popeye as a child.  I never liked him.   He had this one eye.  And creepy voice.  And weird body.


Neil: But you watched him with me.  Remember?

Mom: Did we?

Mom: Mom, it was a big deal for me back then.  I would be Popeye and you would be Olive Oyl — and I would rescue you?

Mom: We did that?

Neil: Yes!  Don’t you remember you would cook frozen spinach and put it in a Spaghetti-Os can?

Mom: Wouldn’t it make more sense to just buy a can of spinach?

Neil: I was going to ask you that!  Why did we do that?

Mom: I don’t remember this at all.  Maybe you played it with your friend Robert.

Neil: I played it with YOU.

Mom: I remember playing Scrabble with you.

Neil: Oh my god!  You’ve repressed the memory — just like I did!

Mom: And well… maybe it’s better that way.

Mom! I’m Sick!


Sophia is in her bedroom with a 102 temperature.    I came here yesterday to help out.  Now I’m in the living room, feeling hot, coughing, and dizzy. 

So, of course, the first thing I do is blog about it. 

I don’t know if Sophia got me sick or it was because I walked around in that kilt underwear all day.

I’m beginning to feel pretty miserable.  How miserable, you might ask?  If some female blogger would IM me right now, offering to take off their top for me on the videocam, I would refuse, because I just don’t have the energy to watch.

Luckily, my mother is coming to town tomorrow.  What an exciting vacation she’s going to have — taking care of two sick people!

This is the first time my mother is visiting me here since my father passed away a couple of months ago.  So, the visit is a little sad.  But it’s also an opportunity to bond with my mother in a way I haven’t done since I was a kid.  Let’s see if I can still beat her in Scrabble.

Do you think it would be weird to go see a movie about two gay cowboys with your mother?

Since I’m pretty much rambling right now, can I act Jewish again and say I feel a little guilty for not keeping up with some of your blogs.   I’ve been doing that gig at Blogebrity and it’s actually harder than I thought to write two posts a day. 

I think the medication I took is settling in, so this is where I really go all crazy. 

A few days ago, Communicatrix had this very moving thought (her blog may look a little funny today because of the Typepad problems):

So…why am I here? And what the hell should I do with my life, or what’s left of it?

The truth is, while over the years I’ve become a passable copywriter, a decent actress, a fairly good designer and made money at all of them, nothing** has proved as rewarding as writing this stupid blog.

I’m sure that holds true for many of us.   I actually thought of going through all my comments and sending each and every one of you a Christmas, uh, Holiday email, but then I’d look like a total wimp, and not the snarky trend-setter that I aim to be.

OK, excuse me while I pass out.

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