The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hot Wings Rebecca

Hot Wings Rebecca
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
While her parents and the Plotniks ate Vietnamese pho and 5-spice chicken, Rebecca ate hot wings and biscuits from KFC. While the adults were eating homemade tacos with chicken, carnitas, fresh salsa, Indian rice and black beans, Rebecca melted some cheese in tortillas and made herself quesadillas. When Plotniks and Streetniks ate homemade granola, Rebecca went for shredded wheat.

Rebecca is 12 going on 13 going on 25 and does not take no steeenking orders. She does what she wants to. She's brilliant and beautiful and will carve herself a handsome niche doing any danged thing she pleases.

Parents always worry about their kids. It's our job. But Rebecca, and her equally fabulous sister Georgia, are destined to make everyone proud. It's easy to see from the eyes of the longtime friends, perhaps a little harder from the day-to-day trenches.

What The Great Plotnik knows is that the Streetniks and their kids hadn't been to Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen for so long that when the pencil was taken out to chart their growth progress on the back of the pantry door, they'd each grown a foot and a half.

When Plotnik went with Brother Streetnik to pick up the KFC hot wings, you could get one biscuit for 49 cents or 4 for $1.95. Plotnik said to the kid behind the counter, in the KFC hat that really didn't fit, and probably never had and never will fit anyone with a moderate-sized head, "Wow. That's quite a bargain. If you buy four you save a quarter of a penny per biscuit."

The kid said "Hyukk hyukk, yeah. Wadda gyp."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Two Plotzketballers

After BBall
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
It's hard to beat Thanksgiving Day -- Nefnik, Shmeckl and The Great Plotnik on one team, with The Great PunkyDunky, The Great Biggie Burger and EG Smooth on the other. PD hits the winning bucket, nobody kills anyone, and everyone goes home for a huge dinner, lots of family and terrible jokes with punch lines like 'He was hung like this' and 'The bad news is you're pitching next Wednesday.'

Monday, November 28, 2005

Go, Purotniku-san!

Getting up at 5AM is a very good idea when you're returning to Saint Plotniko from Stiletto City to make it to a Kanji test at 12 noon. Plot and Duck were on the road by 5:45 and home by 11:15. They ate toasted pumpernickel and string cheese and drank hot coffee. Plotnik needed to study, so for a good solid hour, Ducknik quizzed him. Of course, she couldn't read anything but the English words, so Plotnik was forced to break it down for her.

"'Medicine,"' she said.

"OK, 'medicine?' Well, 'medicine' has the radical for 'grass' on top, that's two little vertical lines with a horizontal line going through them. Then, under 'grass,' you do a box with a line through it, that's 'sun,' with two little jabs on the left and two more on the right which makes it look like a lantern, and under the lantern is 'tree,' which looks like the bottom of PD and 5H's coffee table. 'Grass,' 'lantern,' and 'tree.' 'Medicine.' Capisce?"

'But why don't they pronounce each kanji the same way all the time?" she said.

"Because you can't drink a milkshake with a chopstick," Plotnik said.

When they got home to a blustery, beautiful, maybe-rain day, Plotnik immediately loaded the Plotkicycle with three Japanese books, a Japanese-English dictionary and a windbreaker, and took off flying down Chenery to Bosworth to Monterey to Forester to CCSP. He tied up the cycle and ran up the stairs into class just in time for Matsumura Sensei to postpone the test until Wednesday.

"Chokku, kokuban!" she said. To the blackboard. Matsumura Sensei called out words and Plot and his six Level One classmates attempted to draw them. Amazingly, Plotnik got a few right.

'Ii, desu ka, Purotniku-san,' said Matsumura Sensei. 'Good.' She even had Phil-san look at Plotnik's kanji once because Plotnik had gotten it right and Phil had gotten it wrong. This was a first. "Phiru-san," she said. "Look at Purotniku-san's 'medicine.'"

It was the grass, and the lantern, and the tree. Plotnik started to laugh. Once he started, he couldn't stop. "That's right, boys and girls, look at Purotniku-san!" he said, and "Ho ho ho, go Purotniku-san!"

Even the tall, beautiful T.A. smiled. For perhaps fifteen seconds, The Great Plotnik stopped feeling like The Lesser Putznik during Kanji class. Somewhere, pigs are flying.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Down near UCSTC (University of Calishmornia at Stiletto City) there is a neighborhood populated by many Persians. Nefnik, Fefnik and Vashnik live there. Fefnik grew up in Iran, endured the Iraq-Iran War with missles dropping on her city, and then immigrated to Sweden where she learned Swedish and went to High School, then came to Westwood where she lives with Vashnik, her 7-year-old, and Nefnik, who can do a 360 degree windmill dunk on a 7 foot basket.

Last night Nefnik and Fefnik took Plotnik and Ducknik to a Persian restaurant in their neighborhood called Shamshiri. There was fesanjan and shishlik and shirin polo, and an okra stew, and the yummOLA crunchy rice called tadiq. The shishlik are baby grilled lamb chops and the fesanjan is a delectable sauce made from pomegranates and oranges, and the shirin polo is rice made with orange peels and pistachios and rose water. What a feed.

Fefnik and Nefnik would love to buy the house they rent, but the price is over a million dollars. It's a fine house. But a million dollars?

Tonight Plot and Duck will have dinner with Plot's old pal and partner DavyBlue and his wife PattiBlue, plus The Great PD and The Great 5H. PD and 5H would love to buy a house too. But how in the world can anyone buy and survive a house payment in this town at this time?

Easy. They'll wait. The Great Washout is coming. Plus, there's still pecan pie in the fridge.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Nine Freeways!

Figuring to avoid the inevitable traffic jam on the way down to Orange County on Thanksgiving Day, this is the route Cousin Green-Nik took:

170 S to the 134 E.
134 E to the 5 S.
5 S to the 10 E.
10 E to the 710 S.
710 S. the 91 E.
91 E to rejoin the 5 S.
5 S to the 22 E.
22 E to the 57 S, exit at 17th Street in Shmanta Ana.

To sum up, that's the 170 S to the 134 E to the 5 S to the 10 E to the 710 S to the 91 E to the 5 S to the 22 E to the 57 S.

Nine Freeways breaks the existing record by two freeways.

The Great Plotnik, on the other hand, steeled himself for the two hour ride, got on the 101, hit the downtown interchange, then moved on to the 5 S and stayed there all the way to Shmustin. There was NO TRAFFIC! NONE! Plot kept looking at the Great PunkyDunky and saying 'What the hell is going on here?' and 'Why aren't there any cars on the freeway?' It took 45 minutes.

The big screen TV was on at Brother Shmeckl's. Much food was gathered in the kitchen, to which The Great Plotnik added Chinese pickles, The Great Ducknik added pecan and apple pies and The Great PunkyDunky added sweet potato pie with a pecan crust.

A basketball game in the park followed. Usually one of the Plotniks sustains an injury during this annual contest. Nephew BiggieBurger almost always sprains his ankle. But, like the traffic, this year's injury report was light. Nephew BiggieBurger stepped on Brother Shmeckl's foot and Schmeckl's foot got swollen. The Great Plotnik and Nefnik dove for a ball, forgetting (a) they were playing on concrete and (b) they were on the same team. A bright red strawberry on Plotnik's elbow was all that resulted. The Great PunkyDunky thinks he can't be stopped, but wait 'til next year.

Thanksgiving Day dinner was spectactular. Now that Chiefie-nik is no longer available to carve the turkey, Cousin Fred-nik carved the first turkey, The Great Plotnik the second. At least half the birds were consumed on the cutting boards by marauders and pirates.

38 people demolished turkey, pumpkin soup, several sweet potato casseroles, asparagus in lemon butter, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries with sugar and cranberries without sugar, Chinese pickles, sour pickles, stuffing with meat, stuffing without meat, a vegetarian casserole, corn bread with corn, corn bread without corn, and of course dark meat and white meat.

What a lovely holiday. People get older, kids get bigger and cuter, new boyfriends and girlfriends arrive, and though you lose The Chief and Fred-nik's father too during the year, their spirit lives on and gets toasted before dinner. We have so, so much to be thankful for.

Like Apple pie for breakfast. BZ, hope you enjoyed the snow. We missed you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Blue Skies and Green Lights

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. The Bridge to Smokeland and Stiletto City beckons. Hasta la vista.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Days 'til Turkey

Two days until turkey. Two days until more food than a third world country. Two days until basketball in the driveway and football on TV. Two days until pumpkin, pecan and apple pie. Two days until getting to see Shmeckl Plotnik and Little Bear-nik and Mummy Plotnik and The Great PunkyDunky and The Great FiveHead and Nefnik and Fefnik and Vashnik and the rest of the clan except for The Great BeezyWeezy, who will be in Massachusetts which has four s's and two t's.

Tomorrow, Plot and Duck will attempt to get up very very early and hit the road to try and avoid some portion of the 375 mile parking lot that awaits them. Because they'll try to be up by 5, they won't sleep past 2. Then, they'll dillydonk around making orange juice and sandwiches and, oh, did you remember to put gas in the car?, and what about blogging? and can you toast that bagel please? and shall Plotnik bring the guitar or the ukelele? and what? you forgot the Afica pictures? We have to go back to get them, and gee, that tire looks bald, and maybe they'll be on the road by 8.

But, hey. The IPOD has 362 songs on it. That ought to get them across the bridge.

Monday, November 21, 2005

PC 11-05

PC 11-05
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
This is PC, The Great Plotnik's Editor. The question for GP's readers is: Where is this man from? Choose from among the following: Peru, Argentina, Vietnam, Orange County, Malaysia, Paris, New York.

He's a really good guy, plus he bought the coffee and chocolate croissant, which Plotnik ate because he had to, for politeness' sake, not because he wanted to, no.

The Great Plotnik's friend Stocks in her Socks will know exactly where this photo was taken.

Riding the Plotkicycle down Guerrero Street in rush hour is different than at noon. Today Plotnik's biggest fear was Mommys dropping their kids off at Day Care. The Volvo screeches to a stop in front of the school and the Mommy throws open her door without looking because she's in a hurry. The traffic is thick. One false move and it's Adios Plotnik.

But he's as careful as he can be. The question remains: Where is PC from?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Accordion

The Accordion
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik's accordion has been taken across the water to New Smythe's Accordion Shop in Smokeland, to have its reeds adjusted. In the meantime The Great Plotnik has no accordion to play. So he will have to content himself with looking at this photo, which shows the Serbian Accordion Duo of Domin-Nik and Dance-Nik in a live concert on JackyWacky's case anyone was wondering exactly where Mistress Domin-Nik got that accordion picture on her blog.

Today is Sunday. Normally, Sunday would be a blog-free day, but it's a gorgeous day, so why not?

Saying that reminded Plotnik of a roommate he had in college. If the day would break sunny and gorgeous, the roommate would say: "Ah! A perfect day to drop acid!" If the day were stormy and gray, the roommate would say: "Ah! A perfect day to drop acid!"

So, is blogging the Dropping Acid of the Cheery 0's? (think about it -- Gay Nineties, Roaring Twenties, Cheery 0's...) No, because that would be true ONLY if people blogged irrespective of the weather, or whether or not they had anything useful to say, or a photo which did or didn't make any sense with their blog, or, uh, sheeesh.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wallacenik, Big Blogs on the Milk Carton

Have you seen these two?

They were last seen in or around Saint Plotniko quite a few months ago, in the company of unsavory characters carrying short stories. The man in the photo is The Great Wallacenik, 21 years old. He has reportedly been hiding in the Far Northern Suburbs as a protest against The Designated Hitter Rule. The woman is Big Blogs, also 21. She is rumored to be behind a shoe counter in the Far Eastern Suburbs. Anyone with information about either of these persons should contact The Great Plotnik Side of the Milk Carton Rediscovery Center. "Please come home, we miss you." Reward.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bear Foot

Bear Foot
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
These bear foot, uh, shoes and red-and-black print, uh, pants, were the fashion highlights of last night's semimonthly gathering of TIAPOS (This Is A Piece Of Shit) Writer's group, which met in tony and fashionable Infernal Heights. Over champagne cocktails, the assembled flower of Saint Plotniko's literary intelligentsia declined to read anything at all, but instead put on each other's shoes and underwear. Here is famed poet and designer of paint chips T.G. Willnik modeling the "Bear-All," today simply a Tiaposian Fashion Statement, but tomorrow poised to sweep the nation, or maybe it's that the writers of TIAPOS will soon be sweeping the nation, starting at Sixth and Market.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It's a Spicy World

It's a Spicy World
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Most people go to foreign countries to see the Capital Letters: the Famous Church, the Spectacular Ruins, the Theater, the Opera. Plotnik goes for the food.

Look at the above photo. In the top row, there is sumac from the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul and huacatay from the Central Market in Cuzco. In the bottom row, rice seasoning mix from Victoria Market in Durban, a very pungent turmeric from Cuzco, a red bag of blisteringly hot paprika from Budapest, and a bottle of Mother-in-Law-Killer curry mix from Johannesburg. Not in the picture are the pepines chiles from Jalapa, the biryani seasoning from Singapore, the oregano from the Turkish village (that turned out to be lemon balm), the red peppercorns (that were too wet to grind and rotted before they dried), all the other weird, nameless stuff...and the chuño.

Chuño is a staple of the high Andes, where the potato originated. The Quechua-speaking people who live there developed more than 1,000 varieties of potatoes. Little ones, big ones, green ones, red ones, blue ones, skinny ones, fat ones. Without Peru there would be absolutely nothing to eat in Ireland except beer.

But it's freezing at 15,000 feet during the long winter, so the people had to come up with a way to preserve their potatoes.

What they do now is what they have done for millennia. They harvest their potatoes, then leave them outside overnight so they freeze, In the morning, when the potatoes thaw out, the people cover them with hay and stomp on them to get out all the moisture, and then leave them out to freeze again. After a week or so of freezing, thawing and stomping, what is left of a large potato is a little white ball. These are called chuño, and they will last for years, maybe centuries, maybe 'til Judgement Day, maybe longer, because nobody in their right mind would eat them.

Not that The Great Plotnik wouldn't try. He hung out a lot in the Central Market in Cuzco. It was a giant warehouse, covered by a tin roof, outside of which was said to be a paradise for pickpockets lurking on the very thin, 18" wide sidewalks.

Inside, you could buy alpaca skins, porcupine needles, fresh combinations of juices made from tropical fruits, fifty different kinds of potatoes, herbs to cook with, herbs to cast a spell with, woven blankets and sweaters, soccer balls, avocadoes the size of softballs...and barrel after barrel of chuño.

As is always the case in every foreign country, when the local women discovered the American wanted to cook their specialty, they insisted on gathering around to titter. When they were done tittering it was time to give Plotnik instructions.

Several sturdy women in red sweaters, blue ankle length skirts and derby hats, speaking a beautifully accented Spanish, told Plotnik what to do. First, soak the chuño for 24 hours, and then boil it a few hours, adding fresh huacatay and a few onions. That's all there is to it.

After the women finished explaining something in Spanish, they'd say something else to each other in Quechua, which would make them all laugh. Not a good sign? No.

So, when Plotnik got back to Saint Plotniko he soaked his chuño 24 hours. When he removed them from the water they seemed exactly the same as when he put them in. He put them on the stove in a gallon of water, added a handful of huacatay. After three hours he checked the chuño and they hadn't changed. Two hours later they hadn't softened any either, and three hours after that they felt exactly the same as when he bought them at the Central Market. He could hear the women tittering and belly laughing in Quechua.

Undeterred, he served the chuno in a broth. Disinterested in his story, Ducknik refused to touch them. Potato soup, it wasn't. Water with petrified rocks, it was. The whole thing went in the garbage.

Traveling is so cool.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mr. Mushnik and Mrs. Mushnik

One of the Mushniks in this picture just had a birthday, but she won't tell anyone how old she is. She forgets that The Great Plotnik can guess a person's age by how they eat.

Both Mushniks went for an appetizer of pizza and a main course of more pizza.

Therefore, after careful consultation and consideration of all the variables, Plotnik arrived at the irrevocable conclusion that both Mushniks are teenagers. The one with the glasses is probably, oh, say 19, and the other one, in the pretty green thing, in the 17-18 range.

BUT THEN neither chose dessert, instead opting for coffee. This blows the teenager concept out of the water. 10 extra years have thus been added to the total.

The Great Plotnik Birthday Division wishes a Happy Birthday to Mrs. Mushnik, and hopes she enjoys her 30th birthday, when it comes up in a few years, on the Rue Mouffetard in Paris, and finally orders dessert.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You Gonna Eat That Biggu Makku?

Biggu Makku
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik has to fatten up. The reason is clear:

To learn Kanji for his Kanji Class, The Great Plotnik needs to utilize his Purotniku-san no Atama ni Kanji no Kyooshitsu, which is to say the Kanji Learning Center in Plotnik's Brain. Now, although his Meaningless Drivel Learning Center and his Lyrics from Ancient Obscure Hits Learning Center are both far larger than they have any right to be, The Kanji Learning Center in Plotnik's Brain appears to be the size of a soy bean.

Only a finite number of Kanji can squeeze in there at any one time.

For Plotnik to learn the Kanji for a quiz on Lessons 10 and 11, as he did yesterday afternoon, random Kanji from, say, Lessons 2 and 5 and 8 have to vacate the premises.

Oh, Plotnik was geared up and ready for 'machi-ai-shitsu' (waiting room) and 'mainichi' (every day), and he was even ready for 'oyogi,' 'sui-ei' and 'kai sui.'

These three demon words (swim, swimming and sea water) are made up of the kanji for water, the radical for water (a radical is a piece of a kanji), and the kanji for swimming. The kanji for swimming is made up of the kanji for water and the radical for water, which means water-water. The kanji for sea water is made up of the kanji for water, followed by the radical for water and the kanji for water, which means water water-water. The kanji for swimming is made up of the radical for water, kanji for water and kanji for water, becoming water-water water. Plotnik had water-water, water water-water, and water-water water DOWN.

Sadly, to learn these three meant that 'new,' 'rest' and 'rice field' had to flee the Kanji Learning Center in Plotnik's Brain and head down to the student union for sushi and a beer.

The obvious problem, not enough space, suggests an even more obvious remedy:
The Great Plotnik has to fatten up. Eat more. Gorge. Stretch his molecules. As he gets bigger, his Kanji Learning Center is also bound to enlarge. Where his computer uses giagabytes of RAM, Plotnik will employ mega-bites of HAM.

There seems to be no alternative. Plotnik has only learned 127 kanji so far, and none of these have promised to remain in his head while he tackles the next 127. Eventually he must learn, hold on to your Dagwood Bumstead Triple Decker, 2,000 kanji before he can even read a Japanese newspaper. To learn 2,000, at his current size, he will need to study 10,000. It has taken him four months to gloss over 127. Don't bother doing the math, Plotnik has done it for you.

The Great Plotnik will be 96 years old before he can read the Asahi Shinbun.

(You may be interested to know that 'Asahi Shinbun' is made up of the Kanjis for Morning, Day, New and Hear.
Morning contains the radical for 'month.' New contains the radical for 'arrow.' Hear contains the radical for 'gate.' NOW do you see?

So, friend, you gonna eat that Biggu Makku?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Both Halves of the 20th Century

Last night, The Great Plotnik thought he and Ducknik would just be listening to the music of the first half of the Twentieth Century: Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' at the Orpheum Theatre. True, the show started slow but in the Second Act exploded to a finale like they just don't write anymore. Songs like 'Blue Skies,' 'How Deep is The Ocean,' and of course 'White Christmas,' a love story where you actually care about the people, and -- Plottie wouldn't lie to you -- actual snow falling in the theatre when Grandpa throws open the barn doors. He and Ducknik defy anyone to leave this show not smiling. They smiled all the way home, and were still smiling when they parked the car in front of their house. But the finale was just beginning.

"What's that noise?" said Ducknik, as she stood on the curb.

Plotnik got out of the car: "It's just a party somewhere down the block. They're playing...I think it's 'Brown Sugar.' The Stones."

They walked in the front door. The music was getting louder. They walked out on the back deck. "Wow," Plotnik said. "Now it's 'Satisfaction.' That party is really getting louder...wait a minute...we can't possibly be hearing...this loud...could it be..."

It was. To their amazement and glee, Plotnik and Ducknik could hear the Stones' concert at SBC Park as loud as if they were two doors down. It made no sense -- The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen is at least four miles from the stadium. Sound carries up, but this far? If Plot and Duck could hear the music, it must have been audible to half a million others all over the city. How could a band play that loud?

Easy. They're old. They can't hear squat.

Who cares? Ducknik poured a big, fat glass of Maker's Mark and brought it out to the deck.

'You Cain't Always Get What You Wa-a-a-ant!' '

Yes you can. Plotnik went to the freezer and grabbed a frozen Snickers.

'I Can't Get No...Satisfaction!'

Oh, yeah. So The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik put their feet up on their deck, Orion in the sky, almost full moon overhead, and listened to the music of the second half of Twentieth Century. By the time Mick got to 'Jumping Jack Flash' a good half hour had passed and there wasn't a lick Plotnik and Ducknik hadn't loved for 35 years.

"How can Keith still be alive?" Duck asked.

"How can the band still sound that good? From this far away?"

Later, lying in bed, Plotnik said "White Christmas was fantastic too. Irving Berlin and Mick Jagger in the same night. How good is this?"

Next question: why would anyone live anyplace else but here?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cirque du Romance Gooble

Cirque du Flash
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Parking: $18

Last night, Plotnik and Ducknik went to the Press Opening of the new Cirque du Soleil 'Corteo.' For a concert, their fantastic seats would have been the best in the house, directly in back of the Cirque du Flash sound console, where the sound man sits. You hear what he hears, and he knows what he's doing, so you hear the show the way it's supposed to sound.

Unfortunately, the music in every Cirque du Soleil is fingernails-on-blackboard annoying. It never fails. It's a kind of hybrid faux-European-Quebecois blend, with lyrics using made up combinations of French, Spanish and Italian so it all comes out sounding like Romance Gooble. If you closed your eyes you'd think you were in a Montreal elevator, with dwarves.

Oh yeah, the dwarves. Whooooooo-o-o. Plot and Duck are still shivering about the segment where two dwarves play Romeo and Juliet like Moe and Curly, with Curly in drag. Canadians must find something humorous in dwarf ridicule, but Plot, Duck, and several thousand other San Franciscans sat on their hands, stunned.

Did we mention $18 to park?

Still, Cirque du Soleil is never about the music, nor the 'plot,' but about the circus performers themselves.

Plotnik went with The Great Dancenik recently to see the fabulous Cirque Eloize, more rewarding in nearly every way than 'Corteo,' but the jugglers in Eloize could not come close to the four miracle workers at work on the Corteo stage. Holy Macaroni! The eyes could not follow their speed, plus they were acrobats, so they juggled dozens of laser-lit bowling pins while climbing all over each other's bodies.

And the bouncing beds, which were actually trampolines. And the lady who tightrope walked upwards on a 45 degree angle. The horses -- the mare in high, red heels. Huzzah! Hurrah! More!

No, less. In the end, the clown rides a bicycle in, uh, heaven, we think, and it takes him quite awhile. 'Corteo' is a very long show, and the second half of Act II is a disaster, with one of the most unclimactic finishes since Bush 'beat' Gore.

Here's the way it is: if you like Andrew Lloyd Weber, you're likely to love 'Corteo.' It has flash, sound, superb production values, and quite a few fabulous performers. It is not intimate, but it is not supposed to be. In Plotnik's own opinion, Cirque du Soleil was at its magnificent best when it was young and new, and didn't keep trying to top itself each year. Even Weber found that out: There is only one 'Cats.' Keep trying, and you get Dogs.

Oh, did we mention $18 to park?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Union Square 10PM

Union Square 10PM
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
What a beautiful city Saint Plotniko is at night. Last night The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik met a friend for dinner at the lovely St. Plotniko Hotel. Plotnik and Ducknik's friend, Arizona Legs, was wearing shorts.

Now, everybody knows that you don't wear shorts in Saint Plotniko at night in November. Plotnik wore two shirts, a leather jacket and a scarf. Ducknik wore a heavy coat, a scarf and carried a blowtorch in her purse. Arizona Legs wore shorts.

The three walked through the Square and over to Belden Place, where they could choose between five different restaurants in which to gorge. Sam's was the leading candidate, but in the end it was the veal at Tiramisu which turned the tide. After dinner, Ducknik said 'that veal tasted like we were back in The Big Shmapple,' and Plot had to agree. The risotto was delicious too, though Plotnik apologizes for using up the Financial District's butter alottment for the next millenium.

Of course, The Big Shmapple has wonderful views at night too, as faithful Plotnikkie The Great Dancenik can attest. But Dancenik is a Saint Plotnikkian at heart. She knows that Saint Plotniko has a different sky, a different wind, a different vibe; it smells better, it's crowded, but not too crowded, filled but not overfilled with tourists, the veal is every bit as good as The Shmapple's and the bread is much better.

But back to Arizona Legs and his shorts -- even walking home, the man wasn't cold. Plotnik kept asking -- Legs kept laughing and saying he was fine. Tonight Arizona Legs will be with ten thousand others at a football pep rally in the Square. We can look for him in the paper Saturday morning -- there will be 9,999 people in coats, a few dressed up like Roman soldiers, a few like Golden Bears, and one wearing an SC cap with shorts, not one goosebump in the frame.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Chokku kokuban

Chokku kokuban
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
"Chokku, kokuban," says Mrs. Matsumura. Chalk, blackboard. The Great Plotnik stands up with his six Level One Kanji classmates.

Plotnik has studied this time. But Mrs. Matsumura stays on the other side of the room today and has the tall, beautiful T.A. stand behind Plotnik.

The tall, beautiful T.A. stands out in a Japanese classroom like a double rainbow over a Walmart. She is a foot taller than her three other co-T.A.s, and she isn't constructed on the petite, slight Japanese T.A. chassis model either. With the tall, beautiful T.A. lurking behind him, Plotnik realizes his palms are beginning to sweat.

"Kingyoo," says Mrs. Matsumura. "Kingyoo." Kingyoo means goldfish.

Plotnik remembers the kanji for 'kin' -gold. It's one of the first he learned. Top hat. Horizontal line, vertical line, cross, then bottom. He stares admiringly at his 'kin.'

"Purotniku-san," says the tall, beautiful T.A., walks to the board and adds two dots to the bottom of Plotnik's 'kin.'

"Ah, yes, the two dots," Plotnik says.

"So," says the tall, beautiful T.A., serious look on her face.

"So," says Plotnik, grinning.

He still needs 'gyoo.' 'Gyoo' is the Chinese reading for 'fish.' Plotnik remembers that to draw 'fish' he needs to picture a hook on top, a net in the middle, and four feet on the bottom. Right. He draws the hook.

"Purotniku-san," says the tall, beautiful T.A. Plotnik erases the hook with his fist. He draws it the other way round. "So," she says.

"So," he leers.

Under the hook he draws a box with a plus in it. That's the net. He draws four little feet under the box. Hook. Net. Feet. 'Gyoo.' 'Gyoo' plus 'Kin': 'Kingyoo.' Goldfish. He smiles, and stands back.

"Purotniku-san," says the tall, beautiful, T.A., and comes to the board. She draws her 'kingyoo' next to Plotnik's 'kingyoo.' Her 'kingyoo' makes Plotnik's goldfish look like a cracker. He stares at both kanji, the luscious and the profane, then, out of the corner of his eye, at the tall, beautiful T.A. She smiles, primly, like a sensei. Plotnik smiles too, but sly, like a goldfish.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ting or Tang

Ting or Tang
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Today, The Great Plotnik's friend Mistress Domin-nik is having a little port put into her...where? -- Plot doesn't know, somewhere above the waist and below the neck, he's pretty sure -- which will enable the doctors to pour in the chemo. When they're through, in a few months, they'll remove the port from her...where?...Plot will know the location by then -- and she'll be done with it.

Knowing Mistress Domin-nik, she'll probably become quite attached, metaphysically speaking, to her port. She'll write poems and essays about it. She may even give it a name. She'll sign it up for a class. Then, when they remove it, she'll remember it with an almost French wistfulness.

The Great Ducknik is having gum surgery today, and to make it even less comprehensible, it's almost elective. She could have put it off. If there's one thing in the world that would reduce The Great Plotnik to a tiny, squabbling Plottie, it's surgery. Letting people cut into you before you've exhausted every possibility, including lie-to-your-own-face denial? Impossible to fathom.

Knowing The Great Ducknik, she will suffer in near silence, interrupting her solitary misery only to request a few more back rubs from The Great Plotnik, which he will happily provide. He will attempt to make her soup, which she'll refuse, but request a few neck and shoulder rubs. While he is rubbing her neck and shoulders she'll remember that her feet and calves are a tad stressed too, would he mind? Higher. Lower. Higher. Right. Left. Up. Down.

Today was Election Day. Yet, not one person pointed out in print that Ting was running for the seat vacated by Tang.

The election has added yet another layer to TGP's Own Personal Ooph. When he goes to Hell, the phone will constantly be ringing, and every time he picks it up there will be five seconds of silence, followed by a tape recording of Nancy Pelosi asking Plotnik to vote for Ting. When he hangs up, the phone will ring again and Governor Shwartzenegger will ask him to vote for Tang, followed by a Germanic version of 'The Witch Doctor.'

On Wednesday, November 9, 2005, The Great Plotnik sends best wishes to Mistress Domin-nik, and to The Great Ducknik, and also to Ting, Tang, Oo, Ee, Oo, Ah and Ah.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's a Bloggy Day

It's a Bloggy Day
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik echoes The Great Mushnik's comments about blogging. One thing she's forgotten to mention: checking your writer friends' blogs means getting to talk to each of them every morning while drinking your coffee, which is the best part of everyone's day. Checking your writer friends' blogs is probably not better than sex, but, hey, you can't sleep with all of 'em anyway.

OK, you can't sleep with any of 'em, but still..

Writer friends won't tell you everything when you see them, or talk to them on the phone. You can read their stories and get a piece of the puzzle, but not all of it, because they're writers. They're editing.

But when they write their blogs you get the truth, at least the truth that feels right at that moment, in the best and clearest part of the day, when the cup's still full and the blog runneth over.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Inside Billie

Inside Billie
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
After several months, Plotnik and Ducknik have finally sorted out all their digital photos from South Africa, and after looking at them all a few more times, this one is maybe Plot's favorite.

The shot is taken inside Billie, the name of the big Mercedes bus the group traveled in for a week to view Kruger Game Park, Johannesburg and Soweto. Everyone is smiling and laughing, which was the way it went, mostly.

Professor Noble is in the back, along with two new friends who will be coming up to Saint Plotniko this coming weekend to watch their college football team, No. 1 in the country, annihilate the poor, toothless Golden Bears. Normally, Trojans are afraid of Bears, but not at this moment.

Plotnik and Ducknik and The Great PunkyDunky and The Great FiveHead are also in the photo, along with many of PD's fellow journalism students, and a few parents like Rhonda, in the front in the blue, who basically emptied all the gift shops in Mpumalanga and transfered what they had to her living room in Houston.

The Great Plotnik cannot remember if this shot was taken before or after seeing the lion eat the zebra, or spotting the two black rhinos, or the hippos sleeping next to the crocodiles, or the elephant and giraffe and zebra families, or the herds of water bucks and impalas, or all the birds, or that leopard sitting stone still in the grass?

Plotnik and Ducknik wish all his readers may some day get to see wild animals in their native habitats. It'll be a thousand times more interesting than watching huge Trojans devour helpless little Bears.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sink the First Shot

Sink the First Shot
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik never feels small on the ball court. But everytime he sees a photo of himself with any of the other players, he realizes he's shorter than they are. But it doesn't matter at all, when he hits his first shot.

Every single game of plotzketball comes down to hitting the last shot, because if you hit the last shot your team has won the game. But he who hits his first shot has an easier time hitting the winning shot. Hitting your first shot means you've scored already, and you're hot. Missing the first shot means you've cost your team the ball and you're cold.

And it all starts over, every single game. OK, it makes no sense. But it's true.

Today, TGP hit his first shot (bank shot, 20 feet right of the basket), second shot (drive down the middle) and third shot (jump shot, 18 feet). The sun was shining. Sky was blue. Birthdays fell away. He was energized all morning and could have played another hour at least.

Life is sweet, Plotnikkies, but it's even sweeter when you hit your first shot, Amen.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Perfect Flower

The Perfect Flower
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The datura is both poisonous and hallucinogenic, so naturally it is one of the world's most beautiful flowers. A tropical plant, it also gives off a glorious smell on hot summer nights. Here it grows alongside the railing of the stairway that links the vast acreage of Plotnik World Headquarters with the pulsating, electronic nerve center of the Meatball Kitchen.

Plotnik grew the datura from a slip he got from his neighbor Charles. Charles knows everything there is to know about gardening in Saint Plotniko. He told Plotnik to plant the datura slip in the shade, keep the snails off it for a year, then get out of the way and let it take off, which it has.

On the other side of the Plotnik World Headquarters Yacht Basin and Barbecue Center is a night blooming jasmine, which gives off perhaps the sweetest, most intoxicating smell in the floral kingdom. Sitting in the Barbecue Center on a hot summer's eve, between the sweet jasmine and the equally intoxicating (if fainter) datura, is perhaps the headiest of all natural aromatherapy centers, or it would be, if Saint Plotniko during the summer wasn't usually as cold as the ice cream freezer in the Nome, Alaska Buy-Rite.

However, on those rare, glorious, warm summer evenings, if you want an early hint of what heaven will smell like, (for the ten minutes you get there before your OOPH -- Your Own Personal Hell, central tenet of the Plotnikkie Religion -- sets in), you should come over some time next April. Or Maybe one night in September. October? It could happen.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Kobe Beefnik Starts Strong

Last night was Opening Night of the NBA season. In some ways, it's the best night of the year. By the end of the long, grueling season, the winners are usually not the best athletes but the most hardy, the survivors and best physical specimens, the last guys still standing in the ring, the ones who didn't suffer season ending injuries in any number of places along the line. By next June, the NBA Champs will have played 82 regular season games and as many as 28 playoff games. Just one game would kill most people, but 110? At the level they play? At that point it's all heart, because the joints, the sinews, the tendons and the nerves are basically shot.

But that's then. Now, in November, all these athletes can still jump through the roof. They look like the 19 or 22 or 28 year-olds they are, not the grizzled 45 year olds they'll resemble at the end of the season. They've got their legs. They've had all summer to rest and charge their batteries. In November each team is unbeaten, and each fan gets to dream.

Last night, The Great Plotnik's favorite team, the Stiletto City UseTaBes won its game at the end of overtime when superstar Kobe Beefnik hit a last second jump shot. The local team, the Saint Plotniko KindaSortas, who Plotnik also likes quite a bit, won its game too. This morning's sports section was fun to read, and guess what: The UseTaBes and the KindaSortas are both livin' large, at the top of the standings, tied for first. The sun is shining. Who needs baseball anyway?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Birthday Poem From The Dog

Mischief the Poet
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
One night after the San Francisco segment of The Great Plotnik's Moveable Birthday Feast, Plotnik flew to Stiletto City to see Mummy Plotnik. She's dinner-for-one these days, so she ends up making eggs or heating up soup. Plotnik decided to surprise her by cooking her a great steak.

But the steak was for Friday Night. Thursday came first, and on Thursday night Team Plotnik assembled at Angeli Caffe on Trendyrose Avenue. Thursday night is Family Night at Angeli Caffe, when Chef Evan Kleiman picks a theme and serves everyone in her bistro the same meal. Course after course, guests share long tables and conversations, and meet new food and new people. It's far more civilized than the usual Stiletto City Takeout Taco with a side of Road Rage.

It was Mexican Family Night. The guacamole was fabulous, especially shmeared on top of the mushroom quesadillas and covered with salsa. The cheese enchiladas were thin and dark, with a fantastic, almost burnt pasilla chili glaze, and they did quite well under the guacamole too. The ribs in green chile were really good, and...excuse me, Chef's Mother sitting over in the corner, but could we please have some more quesadillas and enchiladas? And more mojitos! Mojitos for our new friends!

Fefnik was sick, but Nefnik came. He brought 7-year old Vashnik. The restaurant brought pizza dough to the table and let Vashnik play with it and form it into any design he liked, then they put it in the pizza oven and baked it for him, and brought it back to the table to eat. Why is a restaurant's delightfulness with a child so rare that it bears Plotnikizing about?

Finally: Birthday Cake with one candle. Wonderful smiles and birthday cards. Mummy Plotnik and Shmeckl Plotnik, The Great Little Bearnik, Nefnik, Vashnik, The Great PunkyDunky and The Great FiveHead were all there, but Plotnik's favorite card came from his very favorite Grand Dog Mischief. The pooch wrote this poem, and signed it with a pawprint:

A Birthday Poem From the Dog:

You feed me when I'm hungry
You keep water in my dish
You let me sleep on anything
Or anyplace I wish

You sometimes let me lick your hands
Or even lick your face
Despite the fact I've licked myself
In every private place

You tauight me how to come when called
You taught me how to sit
You always let me go outside
So I can take a (stroll)

I've been with you through oh, so much
Through laughter and through tears
I hope you live to be a hundred
(Open Card)
That's 700 in Doggy Years!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween 2005

Halloween 2005
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Baker Boy and Pumpkin Girl showed up last night at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen, as did close to 400 other costumed cuties. Little girls are still fairies or princesses, while little boys favor ninja warriors or Star Wars superheroes. One Little Luke carried a huge light saber painted bright orange, presumably for traffic purposes, but it made him look more like Carrot Man.

For the last ten years, Plotnik Street has become one of the choice No-Trick-Treat-Only neighborhoods in the city, with hundreds of kids and hundreds more parents, grandparents and dogs slogging their way up the hill, heading towards M&M glory.

Plotnik and Ducknik went to Costco and bought three enormous bags of candy and gave every piece away...well, except for the following that ended up in the Plotfreezer: Butterfingers (3), Snickers (4), Almond Joy (1), and Baby Ruth (4).

It can be empirically reported that most kids went for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups while they were available, and then turned to the harder stuff: Twix.

Halloween Kitty, rest in peace. You are forgiven for destroying the dining chairs.