The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Benachi House New Orleans

Benachi House New Orleans
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great FiveHead lived in the Ninth Ward when we met her, in a little shotgun house -- called 'shotgun' because they're so narrow that if you fire a shotgun through the front door it'll go straight out the back door. When she and PD moved in together, they moved to a neighborhood called Bayou St. John, near City Park. But they always went back to the Ninth Ward, or the Merigny or the Tremé, to have fun.

When PD was being thrown to the vodka wolves at his bachelor's party, the rest of us went to the Ninth Ward, to the wonderful Vaughn's, a club where they put the band in one corner and the red beans and rice in huge pots in the other. It was so hot, even in May, that most of us sat on the porch outside, eating and listening to our down-home food and music, at 3 o'clock in the morning, thinking that if this wasn't paradise, it was sure enough all we'd ever need.

And when they got married, they got married at the Benachi House, a few blocks from the racetrack where they hold the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival every year. This is the Benachi House. Or...this was the Benachi House.

Plotnik was in New Orleans in August once, and the heat was hard to believe, the air dead still and a vague smell of natural rot in the air, and that's when the streets were not filled with black water. Today, The Ninth Ward is under water. Bayou St. John is under water. The Fairgrounds are under water. They're breaking into stores in the Merigny and the Tremé to steal cokes and diapers and candy bars. They are out of food in New Orleans, and there is no water to drink, and the flood waters are rising. And: it's August.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jacque-Nik in New Orleans

Jacque-Nik in New Orleans
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
There are happy photos and very happy photos and then there are the photos where the room is tippy, the colors on the walls are vibrating and the lens can barely stop laughing long enough to snap, because the people in the photo are having the time of their lives in their favorite city in the world.

The Great Ducknik took this picture in May, 2002, the evening before The Great Wedding. In the photo we see Jacque, The Great FiveHead, The Great PunkyDunky, The Great BeezieWeezie and the photo director of the shoot, Proud Papa.

But this morning, August 2005, Jacque-i-Mo's restaurant is probably under six feet of water. Jacque-Nik, the chef/owner posing here as the drunken carouser in the white jacket, is most likely staring at wreckage, though we don't know that yet. One good thing: you can probably get a table in under an hour now.

The Great Plotnik and family have gorged themselves through many wonderful evenings in Jacque-i-Mo's, especially before they took out the piano, so Plotnik could play for Bushmill's, which Jacque would drink as he sang along to 'Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,' though there was a lot of Bushmill's and it's all a little hazy.

It seems to TGP that the key to life is making time stop, to have photos of these marvellous moments so deeply embedded in your memory that you can roll yourself back into the picture whenever you feel like it, kind of like putting a favorite photo up on the wall of the restaurant in your head.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Anything Can Happen

It's the end of August, and the Stiletto City Plotzers are only 11 1/2 games behind in the run for the Wild Card. Anything Can Happen. There are only nine teams in front of them. All they have to do is win their next 33 games in a row and have all the other teams keep losing, even when these teams play each other, which is not mathematically possible, but in the worlds of religion and baseball Anything Can Happen.

Baseball is a lot like religion. Both believe in miracles. Both have big time corporate sponsorship. Neither can fathom unbelievers. Both have one great mantra: "You Gotta Believe!"

But baseball promises something religion cannot: Statistics. If you want, you can look up how many triples Joe Shlablotnik hit in 1943. You can't do that about Jesus, or Moses, or Allah, or Zoroaster, or Buddha. How many sandals did Jesus wear in the 0-1 season? No one knows. How many ground rule doubles were hit in Plotnik Park in 1911? Twelve. It's easy. Look it up.

All the Plotzers need is more pitching. Oh, if they could only channel back to the Golden Days, and call upon Sandy Plotznik, 'Big D' Plotzky, 'Three Finger' Plotz, Cy Plitzk and Fernando Plotzenzuela.

Anything Can Happen! You Gotta Believe! It ain't over 'til the Fat Lady Sings! (unless the Fat Lady is Aunt Bootie.)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Daisy, Dave and Kareem Cheeze

Dave, Daisy and TGP
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Dave and Daisy are retiring this morning, the lazy louts. They've only been working since they were 16 -- Dave is 84, Daisy is 80 -- and they figure it's high time they take the riches they've amassed slicing bagels, spreading cream cheese and toasting Egg Tasties at Manhattan Bagel on 24th Street, and begin to live the life of leisure.

In this photo, Daisy and Dave pose with The Great Plotnik's bagel representative Kareem Cheeze. Cheeze has been ordering half a dozen poppyseed bagels every Saturday morning for more years than he wants to remember, after his game of Plotzketball at James Plotz Middle School. He will miss Dave and Daisy's smiling faces, miss talking to them about their childhoods on the Lower East Side, and the one-penny mustard sandwiches, and the potato soup at Galishoff's, and the rich life everyone knew back then, even without an extra nickel for salami.

Dave and Daisy will be remembered for inventing the hole in the bagel. Before them, the hole was a six pointed star. That got shortened to a parallelogram and then an isoceles triangle. "Then I had an idea," says Dave. "A hole's a hole."

The Great Plotnik sends congratulations to Dave and Daisy, and wishes for many more happy years. Saturday morning's poppyseed bagel with cream cheese, sliced red onion and tomato will never be the same. Plotnik just may switch to jelly donuts.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Christopher CoPlotnik's 4 Ships

It is History Friday. It is time to remember the great explorer Christopher CoPlotnik, who commanded the four ships sent by King Murray of Salamanca to the New World. (King Murray was the brother-in-law of Queen Isabella. He married Isabella's sister Lumps de Azucar.)

Christopher CoPlotnik commanded three of King Murray's ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, while the ill-fated fourth ship, the Sphinta, was commanded by King Murray's third cousin Jose 'Which Way Did You Say is East?' Nguyen-Plotnik-Sanchez. Sadly, Nguyen-Plotnik-Sanchez got lost five minutes after leaving port, and refused to ask directions. As the above photo clearly demonstrates, the Shpinta was pointed the wrong way even when they posed for the picture.

When Nguyen-Plotnik-Sanchez, ancestor of the entire Stiletto City Plotnik family, finally landed in Shmalibu, more than 400 years after he began his voyage, the first thing he asked for was some ruffage.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Five Stars with a Mayonnaise Mustache.

The Great Plotnik waited in the telephone queue until Timmy, the Middle School wireless router expert, could bring his computer back on line. Now, he is number eighteen in another long line, except this one is his choice. Mrs. Add Carrots-and-Cilantro is in the front of her Vietnamese banh-mi Shop, and her cousin Mrs. Slice Meats-Warm-Buns is in the back. The line of cops, gangsters, young and old women, doctors, lawyers and founders of minor religions snakes through the tiny shop and out the front door. Bums waving bottles pass by hurling incomprehensible insults. Buses cough methane. Everyone wears a smily face. No one is leaving the line.

As Plotnik inches closer to the front counter, Mrs. Slice Meats says "Next!" She holds a little white tablet. One by one the next ten people in line call out their orders. "Two roast pork!" "One roast chicken!" "(Something in Vietnamese!)." "Three roast pork, two meatball, extra cilantro!" Mrs. Carrots-and-Cilantro looks up and smiles. "Ho ho, extra cilantro."

The top of the counter is layered four-high with shrink wrapped packages of yellow rice and shrimp, red rice and scallions, gelatinous coconut rolls, banana leaves stuffed with sweet rice, cups of Vietnamese iced coffee. Strings of strange, black sausages live in a meat-market cooler that does not appear to be turned on. A sign above the cash register says “Smile!”

Mrs. Slice Meats-Warm-Buns puts down her pad, takes the warm sandwich rolls out of her microwave, splits them in half, adds mayonnaise and fills them with beef, pork, chicken or meatballs that she ladles from rows of slow cookers. She carries a heavy tray of half-finished sandwiches to her cousin. Mrs. Add Carrots-and-Cilantro opens each roll, fills it with shredded carrots, cilantro sprigs and jalapeno peppers (liverwurst optional), wraps it in cellophane, ties it with a rubber band, sets it aside. She does twenty sandwiches at a time, then faces the hungry line: "Two roast pork, $4 dolla." "Three chicken, one (something in Vietnamese), one (something else in Vietnamese) $10 dolla."

Mrs. Slice Meats-Warm-Buns and Mrs. Add Carrots-and-Cilantro are Saints. There is no church in Saint Plotniko that can dispense half as much happiness, and there is no sandwich in Saint Plotniko that can touch their banh mi, not at any price. The Great Plotnik's Restaurant Division awards each lady 5 Stars with a Mayonnaise Mustache.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Do You Speak Tamil?

"I'm very sorry for your inconvenience, Mr., uh, Plotnik. We here at (Microsoft, Dell, Comcast, AOL) are dedicated to getting you back on line as soon as possible. Now, for the fourth time, may I please have your 47 digit X-Code Service Verification Tabulation Pin Number? You can find it on the underside of your desk top computer, written in Braille."

"Son, The Great Plotnik is holding a stick of dynamite."

"We're sincerely upset that you have had to wait since last night on the Help Line, Mr., uh, Plotnik. Unfortunately, you have been misdirected to the Hardware Line. You need the Software line. Please call 1-866-I-N-D-I-A and ask for Mr. Gupta. He is in the office 24 hours a day. Do you speak Tamil?"

"Son, turn around. Do you know where the sun don't shine?"

"It is with our deepest apologies, Mr., uh, Plotnik, that we must inform you that there will be a service charge of $99 to speak with our wireless router associate. His name is Timmy. He gets home from Middle School at 4PM. He has soccer at 5PM. You are number 81 in the queue. May we please have your credit card number once again? To insure consumer safety, will you turn the card over and vomit?"

"Son, If I find a match you are in big trouble."

"Ha ha ha, Mr., uh, Plotnik."

"Kiss yo mama good bye, Sonny boy."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Full Moon over Stiletto City

There is a full moon rising over Stiletto City. It's a city whose vast expanses are made beautiful by a full moon. The even, forgiving light washes down on the rivers of Lexus headlights, the endless canyons of tract houses and on the sea itself, on whose beaches gang members laze in their sated afterglow.

The thing that is hard for The Great Plotnik to get out of his mind is not this full moon but the last one. Then, Plotnik and Ducknik were in Durban, South Africa, sitting on lawn chairs with PunkyDunky and Five-Head, high on a bluff above the glorious Indian Ocean, drinking Windhoek lagers, dreaming of dolphins and feeling a million miles away. The full moon before that they had been on their deck in Saint Plotniko, saying to themselves: Wow! The next time we see a full moon we'll be in Africa!

Then, there they were. Now, here they are. It seems to have all gone by very fast.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Shrink Wrapped

The Great Plotnik and The Great Plotnik are heading for Stiletto City. Plotnik will report from there, if he can find anything to eat that isn't shrink wrapped. Mmmmmm, Mocha Mix. Mmmmm, lite cheese.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Two Huts in Zululand

Two Huts in Zululand
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
These two huts are in Zululand. The photo was taken at 5PM as the sun was beginning to drop; all the while Plotnik, the photographer, was watching how the sun played with the roof of the hut in the foreground until it came to resemble the mountain in the background.

He remembered seeing a large carving of the Andes Mountains in Macchu Picchu, made by an Inka stone mason 500 years ago. The Great Inka commissioned the carving because he felt his empire would outlast the mountains, and therefore after the Andes had crumbled he wanted his people to remember how majestic their mountains once had been.

Now, that's Positive Thinking.

Unfortunately, within 50 years of the stone mason's carving, 2 million Inka had been conquered by 100 Spanish soldiers, and what was left of their empire, that was supposed to outlast the mountains, was smallpox and dust. But you've got to admit: it was a very cool idea.

The Zulu have no such intentions. They build their huts in the shape they always have. When the thatch roof starts to leak, or when the stone walls fall in, they build a new hut. It's not that big a deal.

The mountains, that haven't gone anywhere, look on approvingly. It makes a lot more sense the Zulu way, though the dream isn't nearly as grand. The true lesson seems to be: when your patron gives you the commission, take cash.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Plotnik's List: Blonde to be Named Later

Blonde to be Named Later
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Miles outside downtown Cape Town, on a windswept open plain without a shred of vegetation, lies the black township of Kayelitsha. Many cities in the world have many problems, but Kayelitsha seems to have them all. Unemployment. Drug addiction. HIV infection. Dirt streets that must be hell in winter. "Housing" that can only be written in quotes.

But Kayelitsha also has wonderful preschools, including one called Masikhule Home Creche. Inside Masikhule one sees beautiful children with excitement pouring from their eyes. In this photo, one also sees a blonde head disappearing under a sea of happy jackets.

The blonde head belongs to Irmtraut, though Plotnik and Ducknik now get to call her Irmi. Irmi and her sister Gerhild visited Kayelitsha on the same day as Plotnik and Ducknik. The four became friendly, and it turned out that the sisters were from Munich, the city to which Plotnik and Ducknik were scheduled to fly on their return from South Africa, before continuing on to Saint Plotniko.

It came to pass that four weeks after this photo was taken in South Africa, Irmi and Geri spent an entire day showing their beloved city in their beloved Bavaria to their new friends Plotnik and Ducknik. The four went to beer gardens, tasted leberkase, walked through churches and squares, tasted more leberkase, drank more beer. Most of all, Irmi and Geri reminded The Great Plotnik that wise travelers do not travel to see famous things -- they travel to meet wonderful people.

Now, Irmi and Geri are on Plotnik's List. If they, or people they love, ever show up in Saint Plotniko, they will have a place to stay and friends to show them where to find the best hand made tortillas, the best tacos, the best chocolate, the best coffee, the best views of the Bridge. That's the way it works when you're on Plotnik's List.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Chasing Mahmoud Perkins

The Great Plotnik reported for jury duty on Monday afternoon. The Saint Plotniko Superior Court made him thankful he hadn't been assigned to Inferior Court. Plotnik took a seat in the Jury Selection Room along with 400 other unhappy souls, and listened to a lady named Ruth tap her microphone PLONK, and then speak v e r y s l o w w w w l e e as she read a sheaf of announcements like: "Legal Code 4885.03 defines Full Time Employee as one who has a full time job. Legal Code 4772.04 defines Part Time Employee as one who does not have a full time job. Legal Code 38457.1 states Full Time Employees may or may not be entitled to compensation for their jury service. Legal Code 485965.2 states Part Time Employees may or may not be entitled to compensation for their jury service."

When the last prospective juror had finally dropped off into an uneasy sleep, drooling, with his or her mouth wide open, Ruth smiled and said: "Sheep are girls and Heep are boys." Then, she went away. Plotnik was sure he was losing his mind.

But the best was yet to come, when Ruth returned, one excruciatingly long hour later. She tapped her microphone, PLONK, and announced: If I read off your name, you are excused from jury service for one year by Saint Plotniko Superior Court:

Ang, Judy.
Arg, Elmer.
Bowels, Fred.
Ching, Peter.

The microsecond she read someone's name that person jumped up and shouted "Yeah! Hoo Hoo Hoo! Outa Here!"

And, gloriously, right after Perkins, Mahmoud, but before Pringle, Ned, Ruth announced:

Plotnik, The Great.

Relieved, and with great dignity, Plotnik stood up and walked slowly out of the jury selection room, nodding to Ruth as he passed the podium. When he hit the hall he put it into gear, waving his arms and churning down the hall after gleeful Mahmoud Perkins.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fisherman's Breakfast (child's portion)

The Great Plotnik is hungry. He could use a typical South African breakfast, like this one from Jimmy's in Johannesburg. Obviously, this small platter is a child's plate, consisting of no more than a few pounds of lobster, Mozambique prawns, mussels, grilled fish, calamari, cabbage salad and yellow rice. Still, it would fill the bill, accompanied by a nice Windhoek lager and a cheese danish.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dirk Biltong

The Biltong King
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
In the Afrikaaner town of Paarl there is a man named Dirk Biltong, whose Biltong King shoppe is known far and wide. Biltong's name is the same as his product: "biltong" is the Afrikaans name for thin strips of dried meat, with tons of flavor, kind of like beef jerky, in the same way a brand new Ferrari is kind of like Plotnik's 12-year-old Plotkicycle. South Africans love their biltong, and Dirk Biltong has become a very wealthy man. He makes his biltong from beef, chicken and ostrich, as well as from wild game like kudu, reebok and foosack. It truly is no understatement to call it Die Beste in die Weste.

Dirk was kind enough to pose under the sign advertising his shop. You can tell from looking at him that Biltong has eaten a lot of his own biltong, which has given him rippling muscles and a gut of steel.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Monkeys Are a Problem

Monkeys Are a Problem
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Setbacks are common to travelers. In the end, they always supply material for stories, or even, if the setback is very bad, for a novella.

Travelers like TGBW must remember to heed the wisdom of this sign, posted by the side of the road in St. Lucia, KwaZulu, South Africa. Monkeys are at the bottom of all travel mishaps, especially on continents that end in 'a.' Oh, sure, the little darlings look innocent, swinging in the trees, chattering in their evil little language, pooping whenever and wherever they feel like it...but they are primate felons. Some of them are so guilty their butts turn red and their balls turn blue.

You can always tell a guilty party if his butt is red and his balls are blue, and you can always blame it on the monkeys.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wicked: Four Stars with a Cowardly Lion

Last night Plotnik and Ducknik went to the press review of 'Wicked,' which is a national touring production of the Broadway hit. 'Wicked' fills in the backstory about Elphaba, the Wicked Witch and Glinda, the Good Witch, when they were friends and roommates in school, despite one being blonde and one green.

It's a very clever story, with excellent music, great voices, a superb visual production, and let's not forget wonderful lyrics.

But there is one more thing too: the male lead is black, so we end up with a little blonde-on-black-on-green action. The best part about that is there is not one mention of it in the script. 'Wicked' audiences are perfectly at ease with romance along the color wheel.

Plotnik finds this encouraging. Perhaps it is because after five weeks in South Africa, any sign of races blending, laughing and singing together makes him hope he doesn't click his heels together and wake up back in Kansas.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

PunkyDunky, son of Plotnik

PunkyDunky, son of Plotnik, does many things that his father does too, as well as many more Plotnik has never done, like bungie jumping and deep sea diving and eating sheep’s eyeballs. It’s getting difficult to tell the boy anything, because he already knows most of it.

PunkyDunky can cook as well as Plotnik, play basketball better than Plotnik, play guitar far better than Plotnik, even speak Portuguese and do the Xhosa click while on the air. He is infinitely more resourceful and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

However, there are still a few things The Great PunkyDunky has to learn. He knows no Plotzkish (the language of the original Plotzkies), he can’t stop hiccups by holding his index fingers together, and he doesn’t realize he should hate Brian Johnson, Joe Morgan, Jim Davenport and Bobby Thomson, while never forgiving Tom Niedenfeuer, Terry Forster, Jorge Orta and Todd Zeile. But he’s young. He’s got time.

Monday, August 08, 2005

All the Right Notes

The Great Plotnik’s old friend Brother Streetnik called today. Brother Streetnik plays saxophone just the way Plotnik’s ears like to hear it. In the days when The Great Plotnik and Brother Streetnik were hitting the road playing as a duo, Plotnik always amazed at how effortlessly his partner could make a melody sing, as if he not only knew all the right notes, but also the wrong notes, that he could toy with to make the right ones sound that much sweeter. The Great Plotnik was never a great piano player, but he knew real from phony. A phony note never lived that could worm its way out of Brother Streetnik’s horn.

The two men talked about music in Africa, and about their kids and wives, and about Deep Fried Twinkies and all the sad, never-to-be-eaten doughnuts Brother Streetnik’s doctor won’t let him eat any more. They talked about heart attacks (Brother Streetnik had one recently) and about being on stage worrying about the next one. They talked about four hour gigs that last ten hours if you include driving to the gig, setting up, playing, breaking down and driving home. They talked about bad old gigs, and had a laugh remembering the wedding where the bride heaved the wedding cake in the groom’s face.

What good are traveling, or music, or food or families, or bad gigs, if you don’t have a best friend with whom to talk about it all afterwards? Friendship is the prize in the Crackerjack box, the cream in the Deep Fried Twinkie. Friends help to make life make sense. Otherwise, it’s all just greasy crust and a badly printed warning label that you may as well ignore.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Class Devoted to Plot

In her new season's courses at the Writer's Salon (, Mistress Domin-Nik is offering a class in 'Plot.' The Great Plotnik is honored to have a class named after him. He wonders if the course will include studies on the Plotnikie religion, or essays about the worlds's great PlotzkyPlotzes, or perhaps examples of recipes from any of The Great Plotnik's cookbooks, such as 'The Great Plotnik Mangles Bobotie' or 'The Great Plotnik Had Nothing To Do With Lima Beans.'

The class could also include an accordion workshop featuring countless repetitions of "London, Paris and Watsonville," which is the only song Plotnik can play on the accordion from start to finish without breaking out in hives.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

More Plotzketball

Another beautiful morning of playing plotzketball on the pock-marked concrete middle school playground. Despite disagreements, trash talking, temper tantrums and the usual amount of Alpha-male posturing, this Saturday morning game is the high point of everyone's week.

Women never understand. In a woman's group, after ten minutes in the same room every woman will know every other woman, the names of their children, their favorite recipes and their aspirations for retirement. Plotzketball at James Plotz Middle School serves a different purpose. Even though some of the older players have been playing in the same game on the same court at the same time since before some of the younger players were born, most people don't know a thing about anyone else's personal lives, except as it pertains to the way they play ball. What is their job? Their last name? Do they have children? Where do they live? No idea.

But do they like to shoot with their left hand or right? Do they play hard defense or just loaf? Can they be counted on to make a clutch shot? This is what matters most.

Today one of the guys was talking about his upcoming fortieth birthday. The other guys were ribbing him about how soon he would be arthritic and unable to play ball. While they joked, Plotnik sat back on his heels, smiling to himself, thinking that he turned forty once, but damned if he can remember when.

But he does know that when he turned forty The Great BeeziWeezie was two. Now, she's journeying self-confidently from one island in the Galapagos to another. The Great PunkyDunky was ten. Now, he's a world traveler, adaptable to any situation, and looking to a limitless horizon.

If one of the guys would ask The Great Plotnik about his children, he would talk about them with pride. But no one will ask. All they want Plotnik to do is take a good shot, make a good pass, and keep running. And that's just the way Plotnik likes it.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Bobotie Blues

"It's meatloaf," says The Great Ducknik.

"No," says The Great Plotnik. "It's bobotie."

"It's meatloaf," says The Great Ducknik.

The Great Plotnik has just followed a painstaking South African recipe through many steps, translating g. and ml. and kg. to oz. and tsp. and lbs., shopping for the exact ingredients, which include apples, dried apricots and sultanas. He has used his special "Mother-In-Law-Killer" curry powder smuggled back home from Mr. Moodley in Durban. He has prepared the custard which covers it all. He and Duck, with great expectation, have taken their first bite.

A pregnant pause.

"(word that rhymes with Duck)," says Plotnik. "It's meatloaf. And not very good meatloaf."

"Sad, but true," says Ducknik.

Bobotie tasted better in the dining car of the train plodding across The Karoo from Cape Town to Johannesburg. There was nothing else to do on that train but eat and reminisce with phleghmy Afrikaaners about The Good Old Days. Maybe that's why the bobotie stood out. It also tasted a lot better when Charlotte, the safari guide, made her delicious Namibian version, every last bite of which was consumed by the side of the road right before seeing the lions eating the zebra.

"It was meatloaf then, too," says Ducknik. When Plotnik winces, she says: "OK, ground meat casserole, if that makes you feel any better."

Reality slips in. "This would feed four rugby players or 60 Saint Plotnikans. What'll we do with the leftovers?"

"Put it in the backyard. Maybe the lions will eat it," says the Great Ducknik.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rugby and Fish Restaurants

The Great Plotnik has been listening to his dear friends whining about baseball. They see that Plotnik no longer cares about baseball, but has become a fool for rugby. They wonder how the game of rugby has avoided drug scandals.

In rugby, the drug of choice is beer. Rugby players have extremely thick necks, a trait that enables them to swallow a six pack beer by beer, including the can. While in the can, the beer is undetectable (no pun intended), and anyway the testing is done by an independent brewer's association, with gold stars being handed out for the most beer consumed in the shortest time.
Rugby players always have 'way more than just one wussy knee problem -- each has, in addition, at least two of the following fractures: knee, elbow, shoulder or neck. Their spleens, lungs and kidneys aren't much good anymore either. They don't miss the spleens, and the lungs were all gooked up with unfiltered Lucky Strikes, but the kidneys? You should see how much beer they USED TO drink.
None of these injuries cause rugby players any problem on the field, but they do play havoc with their second jobs as waiters in fish restaurants. It took Plotnik several blank stares to realize the word 'pwanfs' means 'prawns,' when pronounced by moonlighting rugby players with no teeth.

All South African waiters in fish restaurants are or were rugby players, and they are all named Bob, Bill, Colin or Graham. But despite traveling the length and breadth of South Africa and Swaziland, plus three days in Zambia, The Great Plotnik spotted not one waiter nor one rugby player with the name of Plotnik. The Chief PlotskyPlotz of the largest Orthodox Plotnikie congregation in Cape Town is named Graham Colin Bob.
So keep your wussyball and press agents and bad knees and steroids, and please bring The Great Plotnik another huge pwatta of pwanfs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Aristocrats

The Great Plotnik has gone back to work. Last night he and Ducknik went to a screening of a new film that defines the exact locus where men and women separate, humor-wise. The film is nothing but a reworking of a very old, incredibly filthy, hysterically funny joke, told and discussed many times by different comedians, most of them with Plotnikie names, like Whoopie Goldberg. While Plotnik was nearly choking in apoplexy at the shall-we-say 3rd Grade (at best) humor, Ducknik, while laughing, was also thinking about words like 'scatology,' and 'bestiality.' Neither of these terms occurred to Plotnik, whose eyes were watering, chest tightening and nose leaking goo, especially when George Carlin or Paul Reiser or the South Park kids were talking about poop.

Yes, men find this kind of humor rewarding. Yes, women find it...well, cute in spots. The Great Plotnik therefore reccommends it for every man he knows, and for a few select women, but warns it may not be perfect for a First Date.

The Great Plotnik Film Department awards 'The Aristocrats' one of its highest ratings: 3 Stars with a Booger.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Beige Republic

Reading The Great Mushnik's musings from her sojourn to the BRK (Beige Republic of Kansasstan) reminds The Great Plotnik that travel journals don't have to begin thousands of miles away from home. All they need is a home to get away from, and someplace else to go, for just enough time to meditate about what is different.

Once, when Plotnik and Ducknik lived in The Big Schmapple, they spent a weekend house-sitting for their friend in the Village. Though they'd only moved 40 blocks downtown, it was like waking up in a brand new city. They heard new neighbors screaming at each other, watched a new set of people having sex from different apartment house windows, saw brand new piles of poop steaming through the snow that had to have come from different poodles, smelled early morning Italian coffee cakes instead of sweet almond kolach, and learned to swear in Sicilian whereas their neighbors always swore in Croatian.

Once, Plotnik and Ducknik's neighbor, a woman with one tooth on the bottom that came in very handy with watermelon, made a wise observation about travel. Seeing Plotnik struggling home with a large suitcase, she said 'Been somewheres?'

This is the same woman who one evening saw Plotnik in a tux and Ducknik in a gown and high heels, standing on the stoop waiting for a taxi. 'Goin' out?' she said.

Kansasstan isn't so far away, but it's far enough. 'Is that house beige?'

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Dream of African Music

For the last three nights The Great Plotnik has been dreaming about Africa. The dream seems to be in music, with a Congolese-style guitar riff, and a Zulu chord structure. Groups of people in choir robes sing call-and-response harmonies as they walk by. Ducknik is in the dream, but Plotnik is having trouble finding her amidst the swirling colors and that beautiful guitar riff.

What he fears is the dream will stop before he can write down the melody, although if he's dreaming it he supposes he has already written it down, somewhere.

Strong coffee with half and half on a gray morning in a green South African rugby shirt with white sleeves. The sun has yet to punch its way through the fog. An accordion, a ukelele, a baglama, a guitar and a piano patiently await their turn to take a crack at that melody.