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the b list
a little something for everyone. except sign makers.
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)

I just don't feel strongly about anything these days. Well, that's not entirely true. I just don't feel strongly enough about anything to spend an entire column on it. Seriously, when I was considering what to write about this month, many topics flew through my head, but not one single topic fueled my passion or even presented itself as a subject on which I could hold forth for enough paragraphs to constitute a column of reasonable length.

What I did find, however, was that I have enough observations on different topics that, thrown together willy-nilly, and given an absolutely brilliant introduction, might make up a successful column, leaving me another month in which to hopefully suffer some sort of terrible experience that I can turn into comedic gold by the time I have to write my May column.


1. Spy Kids is a terrible name for a movie.

It's awful. In fact, I can't think of a film title in recent years that has shown less creativity or cleverness than this one. The thing is, for a family film, it doesn't look bad. The trailers look funny, the special effects look impressive, and even the plot isn't too trite…yet. All else aside, I think kids will like it.

But I keep coming back to that title. Basically, my impression is that it was green-lighted with a name like "Mom and Dad are Soooo Cool," and some studio exec said, "We need to make it appeal to kids more. We need to make it snappy - something like Spy Kids, only clever and creative." And after he left the room, all the writers said, "So Spy Kids works? Okay we'll go with that."

2. I'm often intrigued by how poorly men understand women.

My mother recently pointed out to me that pretty much everything I write is from my point of view, and that while my themes were universal, and while other people could relate to what I was saying, it was still pretty much me saying "this is how I feel; do you ever feel this way, too?" She said, "Could you write as a woman?" Truth be told, I have no idea. I'm not a woman; I'm not even a woman trapped in a man's body. I like to think that human nature is human nature, and I do understand a little of it. But there's a really good chance that I could write as a woman about as well as a woman could pee as a man.

I assume there are male authors out there who have a decent grasp on what it's like to be female, at least enough to write a convincing female character, but I'd also argue that probably not one of those authors knows what it's like to be a woman. Women are too complex for us simple men to truly know what you're thinking or feeling. I could point to many relationships that are based on "him" simply trying not to say or do anything that will anger or annoy "her."

Because we honestly don't know. And I freely admit that. As long as we're trying, though, please recognize the attempts. Thanks.

(A little semi-related aside: Women - if you've ever wondered if it is, in fact, okay to let a guy know you like him or you're interested in him or you're interested in finding out if you like him, etc., it is. We're pretty clueless; I think most guys would appreciate having the guesswork taken out of the whole process. And no, in general we won't like you any less if you're not playing hard-to-get.)

3. Passover is this week, and I have some questions:

If, as some minority leaders claim every year, the United States government owes them reparations for the enslavement of their forefathers, does that mean that the Jews can blame the government of Egypt because we can't eat bread this week? Is there some sort of leavening tax that I can exact from the Egyptians for each day that any given matzo ball sits in my stomach?

If Elijah does actually appear at some point, heralding the coming of the Messiah, is he really going to have time to stop at every house? I understand that Santa does it every year, but not with the amount of wine that Elijah's going to have to drink so as not to offend anyone. (One could argue that Santa's going to slip into a diabetic coma one of these days from all those cookies, but anyone who's tried Manischewitz could predict the same fate for Elijah.)

Why do gentiles like matzo so much? Would I like the taste, too, if I weren't forced to eat it instead of bread for 8 days in a row? Maybe if I could have it with a little peanut butter.

4. Happy Birthday, Mom.

5. I'm amazed that, as relatively cynical as I am, people still have the ability to surprise me.

I was talking to the doorman of a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and he told me a story about some tenant who had freaked on him one night and - get this - thrown a sandwich at him. I don't know what I would do if someone threw a sandwich at me; it's not something I ever expect to occur. In a perfect world, I would, of course, catch the sandwich and take a bite before kicking him out of the building on his ass. What actually happened, so I was told, was that the doorman in question was actually too surprised by this turn of events to react quickly enough, but in as far as sandwiches are not regularly designed for accuracy, it missed him completely. As a coda to that story - the sandwich-thrower is currently in jail (for something more serious than culinary aerodynamics, I imagine), but his father is still paying the rent on his apartment. Good job, dad; that'll teach him.

That's not to say that I'm unhappy about being surprised sometimes. I'd hate to think that either a) I was so jaded that the world could offer me nothing new or b) people were getting too predictable. Sometimes the surprise is just odd. I was walking to work a few weeks ago and some guy in a Jeep Cherokee was blasting music. Now I'm a firm believer that everyone has different tastes, and they're welcome to their opinions, but I also can't help but notice that, generally, the people who blast music out of their vehicles have terrible taste in music. I don't need to hear the techno version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" booming out of a black Monte Cristo with purple ground effects driven by a guy with a flat top who's put his last six paychecks from working at the car wash toward filling his entire trunk with a 200-watt carpeted kicker box that causes all of the streetlights to vibrate in rhythm with the artificial bass drum. Except that this guy in the Jeep Cherokee wasn't playing techno or dance music or rap. Nor was he blasting Van Halen or Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit or some other high-octane, high-energy music. No, this guy was blasting Elton John. And not just Elton John, but "Daniel" by Elton John ("Oh, God, it looks like Daniel…must be the clouds in my eyes"). Loudly.

As I said, people still have the ability to surprise me.

6. If I ever start a religion and I get martyred, please don't commemorate the occasion by naming that day "Good" something.


7. When did sign makers stop caring about their work?

If you're going to create a sign, ostensibly for people to see it, get it right. Always get it right. I know in one of my columns I mentioned the sign at the donut shop by the Greyhound terminal in Philadelphia that advertises "We all so have food." That's just bad. There's a deli near my office where the sandwich board claims that they make a "Pilly Cheese-steak." I'm not sure if that's just very small capsules of meat, or if it's the Ritalin special of the day.

Until recently, there was a place across the street from us that apparently belonged to an "Acupucturist." I never needed acupucture, but I know where I would have gone to get it. Actually, it gets worse, because their sign also said they specialized in "rehabiliation." Yup. Rehabiliation from the acupucturist. Someone really should be looking out for these things, and I think that someone is you. I don't want to hear any excuses.

...And there you have it. I didn't set out to make a list of seven things, but my mind is now completely blank. Which means I guess that's it for this month. I hope I've given you some things to ponder. Please feel free to e-mail me if you disagree with anything I've mentioned. That way I can write about you next month. Either that or I can write another cry for love disguised as an examination of relationship issues. Hey, if you're really lucky, maybe both.


A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

more about adam kraemer


the better part of valor
a modern-day morality fable
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topic: general
published: 5.10.04

new york survival guide, pt. 3
ten years here, and it's been an ace decade
by adam kraemer
topic: general
published: 2.11.09


michelle von euw
4.10.01 @ 10:53a

Umm, matzo. I get a serious jonesing for the stuff this time of year. (But then again, I also crash seders. I am so a wanna be Jew.)

adam kraemer
4.10.01 @ 12:30p

Crash seders? People you know, or just a random, "No, I'm not Elijah, thank you for having me" type thing?

Speaking of, would you belive that my mother hosted a 33-person seder on Saturday?

jack bradley
4.10.01 @ 8:00p

Crash seders?

Is that what happens when you recklessly drive a seder?

(This post close-captioned for the goyim impaired.)

michelle von euw
4.10.01 @ 11:01p

Adam, so far just bosses', roommates', GW Hillel's and boyfriend's co-worker's seders. But I've already picked out the Jewish women's group in Durham whose seder I am going to crash when I move down there.

Although if your mom is having 33 at hers, I'm sure she wouldn't notice an extra little face at her table...maybe I'll head to Philly next year.

adam kraemer
4.11.01 @ 8:58a

I wish I'd known - you could have come to this one. And you're more than welcome in the future. But my family may force you to eat gefilte fish. It's kind of a trade-off.

tracey kelley
4.12.01 @ 1:33a

mmm...garlic matzo slathered with butter are nummy...I frequently nosh on them, just like William Macy in "State and Main." Even broken up in soup they are tasty. After all, a cracker is just a cracker, but matzo is a meal....

adam kraemer
4.12.01 @ 12:11p

To change the subject a bit (trust me, you'd be getting tired of matzo now, too) - a friend of mine pointed out to me that tomorrow is "Good Friday the 13th." I think that's the one where Jesus' mother watches him die and then hunts Roman camp counselors through the woods.

lee anne ramsey
4.12.01 @ 5:46p

Does anyone else in Intrepid land practice the "Triple Meat" Easter celebration?

adam kraemer
4.12.01 @ 5:47p

No, but it sounds like more fun for the woman.

adam kraemer
4.12.01 @ 5:49p

Actually, if it's actually what I think it is, we did that this year - Chicken, Brisket, and Lamb. For 33 people, if I hadn't already mentioned it. My mom cooked a lot of food.

lee anne ramsey
4.12.01 @ 5:53p

It's a little more offensive than that. Triple Meat Easter is three ways to cook a pig: ham, sausage, and bacon. Preferably cooked in a grilling type atmosphere on a sunny day.

adam kraemer
4.13.01 @ 9:26a

"Yes, Lisa - a wonderful magical animal..."

michelle von euw
4.13.01 @ 9:57a

Umm, bacon.

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