The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Large Lie

The Great Plotnik, Ducknik, Great PD and Great 5-H take the ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. The sight of his cell #5, the limestone quarry in which he labored for 13 of those, the horrific stories told there about the 40 years an entire nation wandered in the desert of insanity - this was called Apartheid -- these all leave an oily, foul-smelling stain.

But the plea for reconciliation by the Xhosa lady tour guide, delivered as a sermon lacking only a gospel choir, in whose diamond heart lies humanity's grand and best hope for survival, is inspiring beyond words. Beyond words. Beyond the suffering, beyond the horror, inspiring beyond words. Plotnik sits on a bus and wipes away tears flowing down his face.

Afterwards, he remembers movements like Apartheid are never maintained without the support of the people. Fear is the architect of torture chambers, of prison camps, of death trains, of hatchets hacking off wrists.

Afterwards, the people always say 'we didn't know.' The Great Plotnik realizes how large a lie this is.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

By the Side of the Road

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik stand by the side of the road in downtown Cape Town. Cars whiz towards them, a Mercedes here, Rover there...wait, here comes a white minivan, front rusted, tires bare, jammed to the slats with people, listing from side to side like a small boat with a large shark in it -- Plotnik sticks out his arm. The Public Taxi screeches to a stop, the door opens and two seats are made empty where there were none before. Ducknik and Plotnik step up and in. Before they can take their seats, the Taxi roars off, whistles around a corner and flies past women selling roadside magazines, oranges, toilet paper, nuts and lottery tickets.

Inside the minivan, fifteen people are speaking some Afrikaans, but mostly very rapid Xhosa, a soft language except for the clicks. Plotnik knows the fare is 3 1/2 rands each, and has put the coins in his hand, but doesn't know what to do them. A few seconds later a handful of rand coins are handed up from behind and placed in his hand, so he joins his 7 rands with the others and passes them all forward. A man in a blue sweatshirt takes them, counts then, hands them to the driver. Still, not one word has been said to P and D.

ClickClickClick, say the Xhosa speakers and Chfxxjchhh say the Afrikaaners.

Plotnik recognizes his Greenpoint stop. 'Thank You, Driver,' he yells. No sign is made he has been heard, until the minivan spots an empty space at the curb, swings over and screeches again to a stop. Plotnik and Ducknik don't move. After a few seconds Plotnik says "Do the door now?"

"Ja, ja, ja," someone says, somewhat irritated. A man gets out of the front seat, pulls open the combie door from outside and Plotnik and Ducknik exit. "Sorry, friends," Plotnik calls, "did not know the rules. Nkosi chomi-am."

Fifteen faces turn towards the door. Fifteen people have heard the stranger say 'Thank You, Friend,' in Xhosa, that he just learned yesterday in Kayelitsha. Fifteen people now smile and speak at once.

"Ahh! Good bye Captain! Good bye Baas! Good Bye Lady! Have wonderful day! Bless you! Nkosi chomi-ene!" The door closes, the taxi speeds away, Plotnik and Ducknik stand again on the side of the road, wondering how to cross eight lanes of traffic without being squashed flat.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Clicking and Dancing

The Great PunkyDunky can do the Xhosa click - when you see an x, like in xhosa, you put your tongue in the back of the roof of your mouth and -- you click, and breathe at the same time. There are three clicks in total, two of them sound different and one dounds like the other two

The Great Ducknik and Great Plotnik saw a movie tonight called 'Carmen in Kayelitsha," which is the score of Bizet's opera 'Carmen,' only sung in Xhosa and set in the Kayelitsha township, which is one of the townships that line every South African city, where all the people of color live. There are black townships and colored townships. In the 1960s the government cleared all nonwhite people out of S.A. cities, where they'd lived together for generations, and made them move to the windy flats, into temporary shelters, or no shelters, onto miserable, unfarmable land with no plumbing, electricity, roads or shops. Cherokee and Sioux may find this scenario familiar.

Apartheid is done with and in 2005 getting along is the guide phrase, except people of color still live in the townships and have to take the train into Cape Town every day. Plotnik and Ducknik walked through the City Bowl Rail Station this morning and it was a sea of color and African music, with thousands upon thousands of people walking to and from the trains. Old Hugh Masakela records poured from loudspeakers, along with kweito, the house music of the townships.

The train station smelled like curry. So did Cafe Zorina, where curried chicken and fresh, hot, greasy roti for lunch cost only a few rand.

The three Plotniks -- the Great FiveHead does not arrive until tomorrow - went out dancing last night -- that same Masakela music was now on stage, and the feet cannot stop moving when they hear it. Plotnik is self-conscious about having two left feet back home but the second he leaves the USA his boogie legs come back.

Tomorrow PD picks up 5-H in the morning from the airport while Plot and Duck take a tour of the real Kayelitsha, not the movie version.

So far, the whole color dynamic is what stands out, not what it is but what it was. What is, is people, especially young people, learning how to mix. What was, was rigid classifications based entirely on race, and not necessarily color. Amazingly, most African Americans would have been 'colored' here, not black. 'Black' was reserved for very dark Africans. These poor people had no rights at all, they weren't allowed to even have businesses in their miserable homelands. Coloreds had a few more rights.

The language of the coloreds was, and is, Afrikaans, the language of the opressor. So today in Cape Town people come up to the black kids in the Great PunkyDunky's group and speak Afrikaans to them. When they answer in English, the people speaking to them are furious, because they think they're putting on airs. It's way too complicated to work out in only a few days.

Plotnik isn't in Africa yet. He's still too tired from the flights. But he'll get there. There is an entire continent to think about, where three of five Plotniks are only perching on its tiny southern tip.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Prawns from Mozambique

Nelson Mandela's face on pillows, wine glasses, fabrics. The African market, vendors from Mali, Cameroon, Congo, Angola. The Great Plotnik barters, the man from Mali chuckles to himself, makes sale in the rain, puddles and mud. What a long journey, 12 more hours in the air after 14 yesterday, cool summer of St. Plotniko through muggy summer in Germany to winter on the Cape, adrenaline keeps Plotnik and Ducknik awake and in motion, also prawns from Mozambique in butter and lemon, baby kingklip in cream, mussels in curry, the street food is samosas in a paper bag for 4 rand (75 cents). To cross street you press a button. The directions are in Afrikaans: "Druk Knoppie" (push button). Taxis rage from the wrong side of the road.

Sleep is very, very important now, the meter has run out.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

travelnik #1

The frankfurters are delicious in Frankfurt, as is the curry sausage and fried potatoes. The Great Plotnik and Great Ducknik are hot and exhausted and trying to stay awake until the last flight leaves in six hours, after which twelve hours later they should be in Africa. Frankfurt is not Paris. Munich was not Saint Plotniko. Chicago went fast.

Friday, June 24, 2005


As you read this, The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik are probably already sequestered within their first or second or third or fourth sumptuously appointed airliner, as their voyage from Saint Plotniko to the Cape of It Damned Well Better Be Good Hope begins. Each city in which they have scheduled stops is famous for its bratwurst.

To answer Hanky Girl, while traveling abroad The Great Plotnik fully intends to continue to blog like a twelve year old after six beers. Plotnikies who have grown accustomed to reading The Great Plotnik while enjoying their Coffee-Danish-Orange Juice-Leg-o-Lamb-Belgian Waffle-Eggs Plotnidict-Side-o-Veal Parmagiana-Fried Chicken-Toast-n-Home Fries breakfasts, should hopefully not have to miss too many adventures.

Last night, Plotnik stood on his deck, midway between the brugmansia on the right and the night blooming jasmine on the left. The scent was overwhelmingly sweet. So was the view of the Saint Plotniko skyline in the distance. It's a nice place to visit but a great place to live.

In the meantime, Mistress Domin-Nik has voiced a fear of becoming Plotnik addicted. She calls this condition PlotNIKaddikted. PlotNIKaddikt. There are few words in the English language with a more melifluous sound than PlotNIKaddikt, except maybe persnickety. And applicable.

So, in that spirit, here is the First Great Plotnik Word Challenge: It must be said out loud, and preferably screamed at the top of your lungs. Plotnik can do it in fourteen seconds. How about you:

Persnickety applicable PlotNIKaddikt.
Persnickety applicable PlotNIKaddikt.
Persnickety applicable PlotNIKaddikt.
Plums, pluots, pleaches, plears, plomegranates, plus plapples and plineplapples.
Please plass me a pliece of pleach plobbler, you persnickety applicable PlotNIKaddikt, you.

Take lots of pictures Miss BeeziWeezi.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Yesterday, The Great Plotnik spoke with The Great BeeziWeezi. The Great BZWZ reminded TGP that while he and DKN are on the Cape of IDWBB Good Hope, she will be aboard a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Panama and the Galapagos Islands. The only other boat The Great BeeziWeezi has ever spent time on is a paddle boat in Shmecko Plarque Lake. Shmecko Plarque Lake is four feet deep. She will be out of communication range with everyone but the leaders of her expedition, Captains Bligh, Ahab and Hook.

The Great Plotnik has promised not to worry about The Great BeeziWeezi afloat for three weeks on a rusty old tin can in the middle of the SouthEast Pacific, nor when she gets to the Galapagos, where they have lizards that swallow Volkswagons whole, nor when she's in Ecuador, where all the Volkswagons are hiding, nor when she's in Panama, where they transship all the stolen Volkswagons on their way to Ecuador, nor when she's back in NewPlork, where large lizard larvae lurk.

Plotnik has got enough to worry about, though he has promised Ducknik that he will stop writing about The Great Kaboom, and stop talking about The Great Kaboom, and stop worrying about stuff like, you know, The Great Kaboom.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Great Kaboom

The trip comes closer. The Great Plotnik does not like to fly, so bad omens are everywhere. The flowers are especially beautiful this year. This is a bad omen because they are peaking early so Plotnik can enjoy them before The Great Kaboom. Some flowers have faded. This is a bad omen too. They faded because they couldn't bear to be blooming after The Great Kaboom.

Life is good. This is a bad omen, because life could be so much worse, after The Great Kaboom. The weather is beautiful this week in Saint Plotniko. This is a bad omen because that means the weather might be awful during Plotnik's flights, leading to The Great Kaboom.

If the stewardess is wearing white, that will be a bad omen, because white is the color of calla lilies, the flowers of funeral parlors. If the stewardess is wearing black, that will be a bad omen because the night is black during the short plunge to Earth, after The Great Kaboom. If the stewardess is wearing nothing at all that will also be a bad omen. Trust me. Plotnik will think of something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A slice of HoopDeDoopDee

The Great Plotnik has always loved 'Bird by Bird' by Anne Lamott, and rereads it from time to time to remind himself what the title means. It means you don't have to paint the whole masterpiece every day. Take it one step at a time. If you can't figure out how to start your report on birds, just take it Bird by Bird.

Sadly, in her later books, Anne Lamott discovered fAITH, which is faith with a capital AITH. Plotnikies like faith when it comes in small letters, but CAPS scare us. They are usually followed by We Know, You Don't. We all know where it goes from there.

And Plotnikies do have faith.

Plotnikies have faith in a filet cooked over a bed of mesquite and served in a cafe overlooking the Dardanelles by beautiful servers carrying bottles of vintage wine while musicians play ukeleles and accordions in the background and the village singers dance naked on the table top as the chef and his four daughters bring the five-foot-in-diameter cream filled pie known as the HoopDeDoopDee to the table.

The Plotnikie sage Gram-Pa once said 'If the most vicious enemies came to Grandma's for dinner, they'd end up friends." The Great Plotnik agrees. There is no struggle on Earth that can't be helped by a slice of HoopDeDoopDee.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Last night Plotnik and Ducknik sat on the veranda of their luscious, elegant villa, high in the buttery hills overlooking Greater Saint Plotniko. In the distance they could see the spires of the Half Completed Boondoggle that connects Saint Plotniko with East Smokyland; the headlamps of carriages moving at gentle, barely subsonic speed across the span; they could hear The Great Birdnik trilling in the pines, when the drummer down the block was not practicing to see how many times in a row he could smash his head against his snare drum.

Live is good here, but The Great Plotnik has opened his suitcase and begun sorting his garments for his and Ducknik's upcoming voyage. These garments include regular garments, overgarments, undergarments (including a pretty darned sexy bathing garment, heh heh heh), robes for sleeping and assorted raiment for air, land, sea, mud, jungle and estuary, not to mention communal kitchen and bathroom. He is bringing a separate steamer trunk for his vitamins.

Plotnik and Ducknik have had their shots. They have been innoculated against Typhoid, Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, plus F and G just in case they are invented before arrival, Yellow Fever, Purple Fever and COF (Colorless, Odorless Fever). Plus they have to take Malaria pills, load up on Cipro and Immodium and watch out for buses driving on the wrong side of the road.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

It's Father's Day, a beautiful day, except now that The Great Chiefnik has changed addresses The Great Plotnik has no one to call to wish Happy Father's Day. The phone rings. It's The Great BeeziWeezi. She's on the coast of Springsteenia. The sand is white and the water is warm. "Happy Father's Day!" she says. Plotnik smiles.

The phone rings. It's Mummy Plotnik. She's about to head down to brother Schmekl's home to eat pancakes. "Happy Father's Day," she says. Plotnik smiles again.

The Great Plotnik decides to call The Great PunkyDunky, but the only phone number Plotnik has is PunkyDunky's cell phone far across the Eastern Sea. So Plotkin buys a Calling Card, Ha Ha. The access numbers require further information, Ho Ho. He needs an Exit Code, Hee Hee, an Entrance Code, Hah Hah, a City Code, Hnuk Hnuk, and a Cell Phone Code, Harty Har Har Har. He also needs a 10-digit pin number, Hmmff Har Hee and a 10-digit calling card Access Number, Hooo Hnggk Hmff Chuckle Har FREAKING Har Hmff Grnnkle.

But he gets through! "Happy Fa..." shouts The Great PunkyDunky. Satellite delay makes the conversation difficult. "You go," says PunkyDunky. "You go," says Plotnik, and a few seconds later he hears "...thers Day!" The Great Plotnik smiles again, and he's still smiling now.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


This morning The Great Plotnik played several hours of plotzketball. He has been playing in this same weekly game for years, since he was younger, taller, faster, slicker, cooler, handsomer, and could jump higher, change directions on the fly and defend fearlessly against hotshots with overinflated egos.

Now, he is a danger only to his own team. His plotzstrings ache and his Achilles Plendons groan and his knees creak. If the guys could pick him lower than last, they would. When he scores a plotzket, everyone says "Wow! He did that in slow-mo."

But it doesn't matter. When Plotnik and Ducknik fly to the Cape of IDWBB Good Hope in six days, The Great Plotnik will miss his plotzketball game dearly, the guys, the jokes, the early morning fog, the sound of the ball rippling through the net and even his aching plotzstrings.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Coffee and Plotsksh

Speaking of hot coffee, The Great Plotnik is afraid he has become a Caffeine Snob. He and Ducknik never find good coffee anywhere but in their hometown of Saint Plotniko. They travel hither and yon, but hither thinks coffee comes in a jar and yon drinks tea.

In the land of the Inkas they drink Nescafe. In the country that is half in Europe and half in Asia they drink small containers of mud. In France and Italy you have to drink your coffee standing up. In England, ha ha, we joke now.

This just in: DAK, former Chief Muckety of DAK Enterprises of Saint Plotniko, has announced his complete absorption into The Great Plotnik, also of Saint Plotniko. “Since May 24 we have been living, eating and breathing Plotsksh, while converting to the Plotnikie religion,” says DAK, “so no one will notice much of a difference anyway.”

The Great Plotnik has promised DAK a position in the new organization, perhaps as copilot of the plotkicycle. “We have nothing but respect for DAK,” says The Great Plotnik. “Without his one good eye we would be half blind.”

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Long Underwear

Isn't it wonderful to be home? To sleep in your own bed? To eat your own food? To water your own plants, to use your own shower, to sit in your favorite chair, to drink from your own cup, to hear your own birds, to smell your own towels?

It is. But there is also something wonderful about having none of it. The Great Plotnik has now purchased his Great Long Underwear for his journey to The Cape of It Better Damned Well Be Good Hope. It is winter down there. Since Plotnik last wore long underwear, fabrics have changed. They are no longer wooly and itchy and $4.95. They are synthetic and light and $28.

The last time The Great Plotnik wore long underwear he was high on a mountain in Colorado. Since then he has traveled to many lands without them, and only wished he had them once. Last April, Plotnik and Ducknik were on a mountain in the country that is half in Europe and half in Asia. The wind was howling from Europe at Asia, and at Asia from Europe, and Plotnik, as always, was right in the middle. Oh, Mama, it was cold. He could have used those $28 synthetics, a tureen of the hot tea they serve you when they're trying to sell you a carpet, and a blowtorch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Stiletto City-2

The Great Plotnik's ancestral home is called Stiletto City, named for the height-enhancing needles many of its citizens have permanently attached to all their footwear. Usually, the same people wearing height enhancers are also using width diminishers and hair enlargers. They carry cordless phones and are concerned about threats to their planet. So, the streets of Stiletto City are filled with tall, thin, big-haired, short, fat bald people screaming into invisible cell phones about Martians.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Stiletto City

The Great Plotnik is visiting Stiletto City, the city in which he grew to be a Plot, the city of extra-wide doorways, the city where feet became vestigial organs and Chevrolet came to die, the city of preproduction and postproduction but not a whole lot in between.

In the Great Plotnik's old neighborhood EPark, the gangsters are now running coffee houses. Plotnik and Ducknik had a cup of good coffee in a building where they used to fence stolen transmissions. The drug of choice is now $2 dollar caffeine.

It never ceases to amaze The Great Plotnik that in a city populated by so many citizens whose ancestors invented the tortilla, you still can't find a burrito that isn't served on a piece of Wonderbread with a plastic fork. What are you supposed to do with a burrito and a plastic fork?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Babootie and Biltong

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik are leaving soon for the Cape of It Better Damned Well Be Good Hope. Their friends LargePants and Her Serene Highness, and their two dogniks, are leaving at the same time for Cape Cod. Plotnik and Ducknik are not looking forward to flying from Saint Plotniko to the Windy City to Hitler's Home Town to Hot Dog, then straight down for twelve more hours to the Cape of I B D W B Good Hope. Once they arrive, it will take several days to wake up. On the other hand, it might be better than driving thousands of miles with two old dogs in a 1996 Volvo.

As always, The Great Plotnik is thinking about the food. Cape Hopians appear to eat only babootie and biltong. Babootie and biltong don't sound very appetizing, do they? So, Plotnik has already packed extra El Yucateco green hot sauce from Merida. The Great Ducknik intends to bring several pounds of good strong coffee from Saint Plotniko. Strong coffee and green hot sauce can make almost any meal into a Plotzgravaganza.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Teenage Angst

The Great Plotnik is told that teenage angst is a crucial component in the Blognik world. He remembers teenage angst, the terror of calling a girl on the phone, pimples, hair that would not comb, the death of a best friend, feet that could not dance, the cold halls of a new school, being small in a world of big. He is glad there was no blogging then. He wouldn't want to read about any of that now.

But The Great Plotnik also remembers his first bike, his first car, his first kiss. He remembers The Magic Kingdom when it was new, the way green grass shone at the ballpark, the taste of warm, ripe peaches from the tree in the backyard. He remembers the way Grannie Plotnik smelled like Ivory soap, and Grampie Plotnik like Bering cigars. He remembers orchards of fragrant lemon blossoms, fresh apricot jam on home made dinner rolls, chocolate cake batter licked off the side of a long flat knife, and that if he just ran and ran and ran, when Brother Shmeckl threw him a long pass, time would stop for everyone but him -- and not start again until the ball dropped from the sky right into his arms.

The Great Plotnik closes his eyes and he's still running, tasting, licking, smelling, living. He remembers the angst too, but the way The Great Plotnik figures it, angst, if you can just get past it, always loses out to sweet memories.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

It Takes Three to OOPH

The concept of OOPH (Our Own Personal Hell), one of the major tenets of the Plotnikie religion, encouraged the cellist and harmonicist LargePants to recall how once he tried desperately to choke on a piece of steak so he could be rushed to the hospital to avoid being forced to listen to five more minutes of Joan Baez's 'Diamonds and Rust.'

But one is never enough. Reformed, Conservative and Orthodox Plotnikies agree on little, but none would deny that although LargePants suffered greatly, even grievously, it was not nearly enough to qualify for OOPH. At least two more excruciatingly hideous events must occur simultaneously, such as being forced to listen to 'Diamonds and Rust' AND watch reruns of Tom Arnold hosting The Best Damned Sports Show, Period, which ought to be called The Most Infantile Collection of Nobodies, Ever, while at the same time being part of the dogsled team following Christo as he covers Northern Siberia with orange crepe. Christo, Tom Arnold and 'Diamonds and Rust.' THAT's what we're OOPHing about.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Last Combo in Paris

Several of The Great Plotnik's blogniks appear to have the blues. They need a guaranteed blues buster. The Great Plotnik heartily suggests the Comb. 5, also known as the Last Combo in Paris.


Fly to Paris. There's not enough cream anywhere else.

Rent a hotel with a nice bathtub, preferably on the Rue St. Germain des Pres.

Put the stopper into the bathtub. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP!

Fill the tub three-quarters full with heavy cream.

Add ten pounds of melted butter. Stir the butter and cream with your your big, fat Larousse Gastronomique food encyclopedia.

Place the Larousse Gastronomique at one end of the tub. You will need it for a pillow.

Add sixteen dozen eggs. Do not bother separating the whites from the yolks. At this point subtlety is overrated. Stir until well blended.

Add 50 pounds dark chocolate, 50 pounds milk chocolate and 50 pounds white chocolate, plus 1/8 teaspoon vanilla.

You may ask: why bother with 1/8 teaspoon vanilla, after you've just added 150 pounds of chocolate and three cows worth of heavy cream?

Sha. Add 5 more gallons heavy cream, put on your birthday suit and jump in.

Remember, The Great Plotnik loves you.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Great Birdnik

All last night, The Great Birdnik was singing outside the Great Plotnik's window. He sang like his last worm depended upon it. He sang arias from all the great Birdnik Operas, beginning with the first from the first and finishing with the last from the last. He moved on to pop songs and Broadway favorites.

Midway through this lovely concert, The Great Plotnik deduced that The Great Birdnik must not have realized it wasn't morning. Maybe he had just flown in from Europe and was having trouble sleeping. Or perhaps he had been singing all day and it just took this long to get through his entire repertoire.

Soon, however, Plotnik heard a second bird, a more sedate bird, an audience bird, perhaps a sweetheart bird. She was singing too, in a softer voice, that, to The Great Plotnik, seemed to imply notes hidden inside notes, messages only a best friend could hear, and a longing deeper than birds, or words, can ever say.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Husbands Are Not Clocks

The Great Plotnik has a friend who keeps the ashes of her dear, late cat in a little wooden box on the arm of her sofa. She has two hundred clocks and seven thousand books. She hasn't taken down her Christmas lights since 1974. She writes funny stories about her past that make everyone happy the past can only happen once.

It's not easy to find a good clock. Some slow down or speed up as they get older. Some are fine for awhile but one day just stop working. Some were cuckoo when you got them, and they're still cuckoo. The nice thing about a clock is you can always go out and get another one.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

High Winds-2

There may be something personal about the wind in Saint Plotniko always blowing in The Great Plotnik's face. Today, as on all days, while pedaling his plotkicycle to the North, the wind blew South. When he turned South, the wind blew North. But why was this day different than all other days? Because on this day, each gust of wind in The Great Plotnik's face brought to his ears the lovely sound of a choir.

The Great Plotnik headed towards City Hall, originally constructed as a mound by rabbits, then gradually expanded through the centuries until it has become the golden-domed rabbit warren it is today. The music got louder.

A choir was singing in City Hall Plaza. The choir wore white robes. The Great Plotnik got off his plotkicycle in front of the choir, to listen. The wind stopped. It wasn't hard to find space, because the only people in the audience were four homeless people sleeping on the grass, and twenty mounted policemen, who seemed to be looking out for troublemakers. But there weren't any troublemakers. There was no one there at all except for Plotnik, twenty policemen and four, sleeping homeless people.

The choir was magnificent. The song they were singing had this chorus:

"We Are One People
That's The Way it Should Be
For You and Me..."

They sang this refrain for awhile, but then...The Great Plotnik decided to get back on his plotkicycle to go home. The wind found him, and roared through City Hall Plaza, knocking down amplifiers and speakers, sending sheet music flying. Now, the choir sounded like they were singing:

"We Are One People
Like a cheese sandwich
Something about bandwidth..."

The microphones conked out. The police horses whinnied. The homeless people stirred, rolled over and went back to sleep. Some choir members kept singing, but most gave up and sat down. The Great Plotnik and the Winds of Saint Plotniko clearly need to talk.

Monday, June 06, 2005

High Winds

Today, The Great Plotnik went riding on his plotkicycle through the streets of Saint Plotniko. If it is difficult to imagine someone of The Great Plotnik's eminence (and girth) cycling through town, instead of, say, being carried on a palanquin by four uniformed Plotnikies in bunny slippers, consider this: The Great Plotnik is an optimist. He always feels the next cafe, the next enchilada shop, the next noodle house or the next piroshki hut may be the best one yet. From his plotkicycle he can smell what everybody's momma is cooking.

Of the world's cities that are famous for wind -- Cape Town, Chicago, Moscow -- Saint Plotniko is perhaps unique. The Great Plotnik has noticed that on the streets of Saint Plotniko, the wind is always in his face. Always. If he goes South, the wind blows North. If he turns around and goes North, the wind blows South. If he goes East the wind is blowing West and if he goes West the wind is blowing East.

If he goes, say, East-West-quick-quick-East again, the wind goes West-East-quicker-quicker-West again. When he jumps off his plotkicycle, the wind dies down. When he climbs back on, it starts. The whole thing defies logic, like Deep Fried Twinkies.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Deep Fried Twinkies

There are companies that take oil, mix it with sludge, color it yellow, and convince people to spread it on bread. People do. Almost anything can be classified as food. Someone, somewhere, is hungry enough to eat teeth. Salamanders. Tofurkey.

Grannie Plotnik had a favorite saying: "For Every Pot There's a Cover." She meant that any Plotnik cousin, no matter how many brainloops were missing, could always find someone to marry. The Great Plotnik saw something today at an amusement park that proves Grannie Plotnik may also have been talking about food: there is nothing even remotely edible, no matter how unappetiizing it looks, that somebody won't pay two dollars to eat, if it's covered with powdered sugar.

To Prove it: Deep Fried Twinkies.

The Great Plotnik watched in amazement as a counter boy in a Slayer T-Shirt opened package after package of Hostess Twinkies, tossed the unearthly yellow rectangles into a vat of hot fat until they puffed up to three times their size and turned deep brown. He then removed them from the grease with a slotted spoon, dusted them with powdered sugar and stuck them under an infrared lamp to keep them warm. The infrared lamp kept cooking the Deep Fried Twinkies until they took on the sheen of a freshly oiled linoleum floor.

The Deep Fried Twinkies were eyed by prospective customers, at first warily, but sooner or later they all bought one, or two, or even four. As they took their first bite, each person uttered the same, exact two words: "YO! HOT!"

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Summer Job

The Great Plotnik has an offer for someone who needs a summer job. His friend, Big Blogs, is about to drive to the airport to pick up her in-laws. She would prefer to hire a young man, with a cheery personality and a hearing disability, to stand at the airport carrying a sign with MR AND MRS TITZMACHER written on it. He should be wearing a chauffeur's outfit and be able to drive very slowly in the right lane.

When Big Blogs's in-laws spot their name on his sign, they will approach him. He should take them immediately to his car, put their bags in his trunk, and then drive them to Yosemite, Hearst Castle, Universal Studios, Tijuana, and the Vancouver Oyster Shucking Championships. They will whine constantly that he is driving too fast. This is where the hearing disability comes in.

Then, right before their plane is to leave, he should return them to the airport and see them safely into the security line. For this service, Big Blogs, a successful novelist, is willing to pay $5,000 per day, plus expenses and a handsome benefits package.

As far as the hearing disability goes, it actually might be better to be deaf as a post. A suit of armor is optional, but probably a really good idea.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Comb. 121

The Great Plotnik is feeling sad today. This is because The Great BeeziWeezi is 2,227 miles away. The Great PunkyDunky is 8,997 miles away. The Great Five Head is 380 miles away.

Seeing his children makes The Great Plotnik happy. Hearing them laugh makes him happy. Knowing they're contented makes him happy. And stuffing their little gullets with food.

The Great BeeziWeezi, The Great PunkyDunky and The Great Five Head know that the second they walk in the door they will be forced to eat. They cannot escape. It doesn't matter if they're hungry or not. They will eat, or risk The Wrath of Plotnik.

The Great Plotnik's children always go for the Comb. 121 (Feta-Lemon Pasta with Capers). In the Plotnikie religion, the Comb. 121 is eaten on the first day of the new moon, or the last day of the old moon, or when the crescent moon is waxing, or waning, or during a gibbous moon, or a Wally Moon, or a Reverend Moon, or any other moon, or if there's no moon at all.

Here's how you make a Comb. 121:

Peel and chop three onions, three cloves of garlic and three shallots. Sautee them in olive oil. Add three chopped tomatoes. Sautee a little longer. Add several tablespoons of fresh herbs -- mint, parsley, marjoram and tarragon work nicely. Cook slowly until the house smells like Il Bambino Restaurant in Florence. Then add three tablespoons of capers and three tablespoons of pitted kalamata olives. Add some white wine if it gets too thick.

Boil three quarters of a pound of fresh lemon fettucine. It only needs a minute to cook. Drain the pasta and toss into the pot with the sauce. Cook a few minutes to thicken the sauce with the pasta starch. Turn off the flame and add half a pound of crumbled French feta cheese. Mix, then turn it all into your Grandmother's pottery pasta bowl. Eat until your stomach feels like you swallowed a brick. See The Great Plotnik smile.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

OOPH: The Opposite of Heaven

Although Plotnikies believe in Heaven, where the streets are paved with chocolate cake and pastrami and heirloom tomatoes, we also believe in OOPH (Our Own Personal Hell). OOPH is where the things we dislike most on Earth will be gathered together to annoy us for all eternity.

Everyone's OOPH is different. For example, The Great Plotnik is sure his Own Personal Hell will come equipped with High Def TV and a repeating 6-hour Barney video.

The only music will be Celine Dion, accompanied by a slightly out of tune banjo.

Every meal will be the same: Aunt Booty's boiled turkey and sweet and sour liver.

The only guest at each meal will be some yahoo in a Giants cap who will prattle endlessly about Brian Johnson's home run. For those of you who don't understand how truly hideous this OOPH is, be thankful.

Obviously, the only way to avoid OOPH is to love everything and everybody equally. Maybe that's easy for you to say. The Great Plotnik has tried, believe me, but the Dalai Freaking Lama couldn't love Barney, Celine Dion, Aunt Booty's turkey and Brian Johnson.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


The Great Plotnik's religion is confusing to non Plotnikies. Most of us believe in something, more or less, in a sort of vaguely spiritual kind of way, you know, not too much, you know, but we certainly don't go overboard about, you know, or anything.

Reformed Plotnikies believe when you die you automatically get into Heaven. Conservative Plotnikies believe you get to Heaven, but first you have to fill out a long and complicated form. Orthodox Plotnikies believe you have to fill out the form, then tear it up and spend all day arguing about it.

But all Plotnikies believe that Heaven is overflowing with really, really great food. That's why we spend so much time down here talking about food, preparing food, eating food and planning the next meal while we're still eating this one. We're practicing.