The Great Plotnik

Friday, June 30, 2006

Barbra and the New Time Wasting Instrument

What a treasure. The Great Plotnik has had a movie still of 'The Owl and the Pussycat,' starring Barbra Streisand and George Segal, hanging on his wall for years. But last night he and Ducknik actually got to see the movie for the very first time, and, sure enough, halfway through the film, there's The Great Plotnik, on the right with the righteous mustache and hair o'black. This is the shot that is on the movie still.

But this is how Plotnik remembers the movie -- Barbra clowning around and having a great time. Plot got the job through his guitar player Paul (standing next to him). Paul got the job through Hamilton, a shady but kind Times Square entrepreneur-cum-talent scout who thought Paul 'n Plot's new band might have some promise. So when the production company called him looking for movie extras who were in a band so they could pretend they were actually playing the music in the background, Ham called Paul and Paul called Plot and the next thing they knew they were in a long-ago-torn-down bar on 45th St. discovering how much people get paid to stand around and do very little. It took three days to film the thirty seconds Paul and Plot are on screen, and Plot had never seen the footage until last night.

The Great Ducknik's sister Pleasant Pheasant aka Keeper of the Archives, sent Plot the movie still years ago, and Plotnik actually scanned and then sent a copy of the still to Barbra Streisand in 2001 when she was debating whether or not to record a song he had written for her new Christmas album. Her agent showed her the movie still, and she is said to 'have gotten a big kick out of it,' which is as close as Plot ever got to the recording process with her. Still, maybe it helped, because he is still collecting royalties on that song, though, sadly, a friend just bought the album on Amazon for 99 cents. Plot's share of that sale is probably 1/10 of one cent.

Many people have said Barbra Streisand is a not very nice person. Plot remembers things quite differently. She was funny, understanding to little people like movie extras, and even willing to talk a little bit about music, at a time when she was one of the biggest recording stars in the world, just beginning to work herself into the movies.

By the way, here is the new Instrument of Time Wasting which allowed the Plotniks to view this old film. What a gas.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

450 Suffer and La'Ban

Everyone in Saint Plotniko has a dentist in the 450 Suffer Building. 450 Suffer is a grand looking, baroque edifice built in the old style, with gleaming banks of elevators and a job for Elevator Ed, who wears a uniform with a cap and stands in front of the six elevators to direct each person into the next car. This probably made more sense before automatic elevators, and red elevator buttons that flash red, with a loud DING when the elevator door opens, but at least Elevator Ed still has a job.

Of course, after you take the fancy elevator into your dentist's fancy waiting room with all the leather bound books on wine that no one has ever read, you still end up looking at this.

And this.

The only thing The Great Plotnik likes about riding the Plotkicycle down to 450 Suffer is that his friend La'Ban works down the street, at the Sir Francis Drake. La'Ban seems to be getting bigger -- he is roughly two Plotniks now. But the man can play some ball. In the old days, he was unstoppable. Now...he may still be.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Meeting of the NBHB, and a small Glossary

Ryan has clearly been watching old Ingrid Bergman movies, to say nothing about the last four Kentucky Derbies, judging by her prowess with mechanical horses.

The 'No Bustiers Here, Baby' Group had a great lunch in Shmalo Alto. Ryan was a model child. Very little baseball was mentioned, although baseball is the ostensible reason for NBHB, plus Fries and Shakes.

Both lovely Kristin...

...and lovely Sally, neither of whom has ever emailed more than one word at a time, turned out to be delightful conversationalists, while...

...The Great Plotnik was forced to watch The Great Mushnik do embarrassing things to her egg and olive sandwich. Meanwhile...

...Allen's Giants memorabilia jingled in every small gust of wind.

Then, that night, the Saint Plotniko Braindead Caribbeans were given a gift victory by an Umpire whose eyesight was only bettered by his stubbornness. Meanwhile, the Stiletto City Plotzers were, shall we say kindly, gutted, boned, battered and fried in Minnesota. Life is not always fair, and baseball never is.

All others can stop reading now. Kristin: keep going.
Saint Plotniko Braindead Caribbeans: SF Giants
Stiletto City Plotzers: LA Dodgers
Saint Patooty Piffles: SD Padres
The Great Plotnik's immediate family: The Great Ducknik, The Great PunkyDunky (married to The Great FiveHead, currently The Great FivePointFiveHead) and The Great BeezieWeezie, plus Plotnik's brother Schmeckl Plotnik and their mother Mummy Plotnik. That ought to get you going.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Another Thought About Friendship

While we're on yesterday's subject about friendship...last Sunday, Plotnik played in his new(er) basketball pickup game at another local outdoor court. Plot is the new guy -- the others have been playing Sunday mornings at Thomas Alva Plotz School for years and years.

So, in the first game, Plotnik's teammate David, a tall rangy guy with a goatee, went up for the winning jump shot, which he scored. However, when he came down to Earth, he landed on his defender's foot, and broke his ankle. We could hear it snap, and now it was stuck pretty much sideways.

Screaming in pain that his ankle was broken for sure, the issue now was: how do we get a large man down a stairway, over a tall chain link fence and then down a fairly steep enbankment to get to a car to get him to the Emergency Room?

Everyone shouldered this poor man, and tried to help out...welllllll, not everybody. Most of his friends, the guys who knew him, the guys who had played ball with him many times before, hung back at the court. The reason was obvious: if they went to the hospital, they'd miss the next game, and without Big Man on our team, their team now had a chance to win.

It was, shall we say, transparent, and certainly pathetic, but that's what happened.

"Who has a car?" someone yelled. Plotnik looked around. Every damned one of these guys had driven down to the court, but no one volunteered. "DAMN! COME ON! WHO HAS A CAR?" someone else yelled.

So Plotnik volunteered his car, ran to get it, and drove poor David Padilla to the Emergency Room, while the other guys hung around to try and get in another game or two. Only Sam, who plays in Plotnik's Saturday morning game, also drove down to the hospital to make sure everything was OK.

What is the common denominator between Plotnik and Sam? Maybe it's that they're the two oldest guys in the game. They know how serious injuries are the scariest part of playing basketball for decades on concrete.

And where were David Padilla's friends? Playing ball, most likely.

Plotnik hopes that, if he ever gets hurt on the court, it doesn't happen on Sunday.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Thought about Friendship

Chloe, the world's laziest pussycat, is asleep in some corner of her apartment in The Big Shmapple, while her caregiver The Great Dancenik enjoys a brief visit to Saint Plotniko.

Last night, while drinking tea in the almost-finished NEW STUDIO, Dancenik, Ducknik and Plotnik came to a rather telling realization about friendship:

You'll go to some lengths to see your friends in another city, but you won't do it for your friends in your own city.

Think about it: Dancenik phoned Plot and Duck at 7PM and was sitting with her feet under the kitchen table by 8PM. She never did that when she lived two miles away, and Plot and Duck would never have thought about doing it either.

At the same time, Dancenik, and Ducknik, and Plotnik, and everyone else for that matter, are always going on about how few real friends they have, if they're lucky enough to have any at all. But how much effort do any of us make to see each other, to hang out, to sit around eating and drinking a glass of wine, without making a big Federal Case out of planning some event?

If Dancenik hadn't showed up out of the blue last night, Plotnik and Ducknik would most likely have strung some more cables, or put another coat of paint on some paint-deprived object, and been forced to eat their humble meal of bbq'd top sirloin with grilled onions, brown saffron rice, snow peas and snap peas from the garden, fresh cabbage and arugula salad and roasted red peppers all by their lonesomes.

Wake up! Listen to Pop Staples: "Shake a Hand, Make a Friend."

Then listen to Auntie Melba: "Good to see you, Honey. Come rest your feet awhile."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I Speet on Your Forty

The food's good, the portions are large and somebody is shrieking Happy Birthday every five minutes. Karen's 40th Birthday Party at Buca di Beppo, subtitled "I SPEET ON YOUR FORTY," was a blast. Jim brought a magnum of old growth St. Francis zinfandel which got things off to a great start. The calamari and bruschetta and fresh mozarella were quite good, and the lasagna, spaghetti, veal, pork and green beans were not too shabby either. The chocolate cake, cheese cake, fruit tart and tiramisu finished it all off well. The flask of Paint Thinner in the Chianti bottle maybe was not so hot.

Naps were available.

The Mixon Girls entertained.

Some were determined to drink that Chianti.

Some of the guests arrived in chic black outfits.

The Birthday Girl blew out her candle, and everyone staggered out of the restaurant, hands over their bellies. The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik thank Jim and Karen for a wonderful evening.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gregangelo: No Stars, but Better than Lestat. Sherry Glaser: Two and A Half Stars, plus Thanks for Miguel.

Plotnik and Ducknik saw two shows on Friday. In the afternoon they drove to Pier 39 to see the opening of Gregangelo's Velocity Circus in his new production called "1906: A Journey Through the Mystical City."

In the show's defense, there were maybe 10 people in the 300 seat theater. Eight of them probably thought they were coming to Menopause, The Musical next door. Poor Gregangelo has managed to put together a show with humor way over the reach of all children and any tourists from east of Hayward, plus added really trite music and an incredibly obnoxious 'tourist couple from New York.' Remember Jar Jar in Star Wars? If Plotnik had had to pay the $46.50 a pop to see this touristy tripe, he'd have stood up knocked both of these two out cold and accepted the applause of the audience before he left. Might have been worth it even for free.

If it weren't for a few good circus acts, this show would not only earn no stars but owe Plotnik a star and a half. As it is, let's just say it's Better than Lestat.

Last night, though, was a different story.

The First Act of Sherry Glaser's 'Oh My Goddess' at the Marsh is pure magic, Live Theater magic, the reason you go to experimental theater in the first place. GO SEE THIS WOMAN!

What she does as Miguel de Cervantes, the waiter at the Last Supper, the man who has been picked out by God's wife (known as 'Ma') to reveal her message on Earth, is nothing short of genius. She becomes this man, in such an original way, that we believe the entire purely cockamamie setup.

Then, in Act Two, when Ma herself is channeled onto the stage, furious at God -- see, she took a nap for 5,000 years and told him to watch over the kids and he hasn't done too good a job -- it starts out every bit as brilliantly. "Hello!" she kvells as the world's ultimate Jewish mother. "It's only been 5,000 years! You're so grown UP!"

But then, as improvisational theater goes, things slow down, drag a bit, she makes a salad for the audience, and by the end you're happy to have the damned corn all steamed and the curtain come down. Of course, there's no curtain at the Marsh, but you get the picture.

Act Two will get better. Don't let it stop you. Oh My Goddess runs Thu-Sat. nights for the next month. The Great Plotnik Theater Awards Division awards 'Oh My Goddess' Three Solid Stars for the acting and writing in Act One and the first half of Act Two, but is forced to take away half a star because we all wanted to see Miguel again. Let us start chanting now: Miguel! Miguel! Miguel!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Beginning Summer Flowers

Red poppies look like they come from another planet. The plants get taller and taller, then bend over and keep growing upwards until they're covered with flowers that will last a month or two. Then, they reseed for next year.

Alstroalmerias are the Bay Area miracle plant. They grow in half sun, they're perennial so they return every year, and every year the clump is bigger. They come in tall varieties, like these purple ones, and short ones, and in every color. Why more people don't grow them is a mystery.

Everybody loves roses. Red roses are the queens of the rose patch, but yellows are even more regal. Sweet smelling yellow roses are rare, but these 'Radiant Perfume' hybrid tea roses not only smell like heaven but the leaves stay green and seem almost impervious to the scale that tries to smite every other rose in the foggy Great Plotnik World Headquarters Rosarium and Snail Incubatory.

But it's hard to beat a good old-fashioned Mary Washington geranium. You can't kill them, their shape is variable and if you cut them back they bush out even wider and produce more flowers several times a year. A perfect, low maintenance gal is that Mary Washington.

Don't mean to demean the coral day lilies, no Sir, not for a minute.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

45 Years and Countin'...

Yesterday I posted this picture: Above: Joel, Plotnik, Dick. Below: Jerri, Ken. Maybe 1960.

Fast forward 45 years or so. Here's Joel

Here's Dick:

Here are Jerri and Ken:

And, of course, here is The Great Plotnik:

Of the five, some may be bigger, and some may be badder, but only Plotnik is bigger and badder. Pictures don't lie.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Old Friends Rise Back Up

How about this! Yes, that is The Not Quite Great Plotnik in the upper right, with his braces. The shot was taken in the early 1960s at the home of the wonderful girl on Dick Brody's shoulders, Jerri, and her brother Ken, at their feet. No one really knows who the guy in the front corner is, but the boy in the middle is Richie Tutor, Plotnik's best friend from early childhood, who was killed in a car crash only a few years after this picture was taken.

Jerri and Ken and Dick were neighborhood friends of The Still Lesser Plotnik all through Junior High and High School.

There was one more friend, too, and here he is: Joel, second from left. Plotnik was younger than the others, but JEEZ he was a dweeb.

The four guys and Jerri did lots of stuff together.

These five friends, who haven't been in contact in more than 40 years, have hooked up with one another again in the past few days. God Bless the Internet. Plot has sent and received emails from all, especially Jerri, who, in the end, Plot probably knew best, because there was one summer, several years later, when the braces were pulled off.

Plotnik vividly remembers taking Jerri to the beach one hot, September afternoon, and realizing as he lay there with her on the sand, that something was going on here that he hadn't planned. Oh, baloney, yes he had. But she was his friend's kid sister. So? So.

He remembers dancing with Jerri to 'Shari Baby' by the Four Seasons.

He remembers her silly laugh. Right now, remembering her laugh, he starts to laugh.

He remembers wondering how she could have grown up to be so cute. Luckily, he hadn't seen his own pictures back then.

So Jerri has had three marriages and Ken has had four. Joel has had two. Of the five, only Plot and Dick Brody are still married to the parent of their children. Jerri's a photographer. Dick runs a specialty dry cleaning shop. Joel's a psychologist. Ken is in plastics. The Great Plotnik is the leader of a Minor Western Religion and czar of the Sanchez Street Arugula Cartel.

All five kids grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Now, two are in Washington, and three are in the Bay Area.

All the dads are dead. Two moms are still alive.

Friendship and fire, two things you don't ever forget.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two Great Photos

The Great PunkyDunky and The Great FiveHead went to North Carolina for Keith and Jen's wedding. PD discovered a new suit in his closet right before they left, and Five Point Four and a Half Head got to wear the new red dress she'd found in a store -- the dress that two days later she no longer could have stuffed her expanding tummy into. They found a porch swing in Durham, NC, and a camera.

Then, this morning, comes the news that The Great BeezieWeezie has had her research in Peru accepted for publication. This is very good news, indeed. The title alone of the book guarantees it instant Best Seller Status: "Upward Range Extension of Andean Anurans and Chytridiomycosis to Extreme
Elevations in Response to Tropical Deglaciation."

The best part comes next:

Manuscript Authors: Seimon TA, Seimon A, Daszak
P, Halloy S, Schloegel LM, Aguilar CA , Sowell P,
Hyatt A, Konecky B, and Simmons J

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tart Green Apples to Pucker your Pie Hole

The apple tree in the backyard of The Great Plotnik World Head- quarters and Meatball Kitchen is looking fine. First the little baby apples look like this, and then, a few days later, like this...

And then, with a little sun, some afternoon heat and positive thoughts, will end up with its apples maturing sometime before Thanksgiving to be turned into



...this, yum.

Have events ever transpired in precisely this way? Well, uh, no, but the tree does give nice, tart, green apples, very tart green apples, very very tart green apples, which only have a few insect holes, ok more than a few but not too too many insect holes and it's perfectly safe to eat them, but maybe you should chop them up first, just to, you know, the worms, but still. The tree is quite beautiful and the apples ARE getting better every year. That's Plotnik's story and he's sticking to it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why is he waving his arms?

The interesting thing about this photo of Tiapos at Ti Couz is the guy in the background waving his arms. Plotnik has decided he's selling that shirt -- he doesn't lose weight, but he seems to be shrinking in his clothing. What does this mean? La femme d'Guilliame, VALERIE, and the rest of the group had a great time eating crepes and drinking this strange half beer/half cider that tasted like half apple juice/half pee.

The spider who spun this web continues to amaze Plotnik. She has managed to support the web with a double line that stretches all the way to the bbq ten feet away. How do they do that? How do they get from point A to point B while spinning a web? I mean, they can't fly.

Worse, no flies seem to be falling for it. All that work and still no dinner. It's like writing for AOL.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Killer Joe: Three and a Half Stars with Many Cackles and Snorts

If you liked Pulp Fiction, you’re gonna love ‘Killer Joe’ at the Magic Theater. If you didn’t, or if you’re looking for something uplifting – well, ‘Killer Joe’ is not about life’s exquisite possibilities.

It’s depraved, but it’s also polished and funny. All the action takes place in a broken-down Texas trailer where everyone and everything is at the end of its rope. The chair has a rip in the cushion, the sofa is covered with a ratty old blanket and the TV's antenna has to be kicked. A dog barks every time anyone walks outside, where it's almost always raining.

Each of the five characters is fatally flawed. Ansel, the father is a pot-smoking beer-drinking babbler. Chris and Sharla are immoral schemers (kill Mom? Sho Nuff!). Dottie, the brilliant Anna Bullard, was smothered by her mother as a child, so she's slow as molasses, and then there's Killer Joe (the equally brilliant Cully Fredricksen) out of whose every gesture flows an equal measure of depravity and menace. He acts like a cunning junkyard rat, and even manages to make himself move like one. A bald, 6'4" rat. That's Joe.

Sound good so far? Wait 'til the finale, when you see them trash the trailer like a $4 guitar at a punk rock concert. Nudity offend you? You get one full front male, one full front female and one bottomless female. The cast takes its standing ovation covered in blood. What’s not to like?

Warning: It has been said that some women may find their husbands' insane cackling and snorting during the ending to be in worse taste than the subject matter. Ducknik said she liked the show, but her body language bespoke a different internal discussion. Plotnik loved almost every second.

Mary Poppins it ain't. It also ain't the Honeymoon Suite at the Cinderella/Charming Wedding.

The subject of discussion in the car driving home was what was the absolutely most depraved piece of literature either Plot or Duck could think of. Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff came up. Pulp Fiction of course. Parts of Hamlet.

Killer Joe isn't any of those, but it does get the conversation started.

As for ratings: Three Stars for the writing, an extra Half for the ending, but subtract a Quarter because one of the characters hit his Blood Pulser a second before the would-be-murderer actually fired the gun, but add back the Quarter for Sharla's keester and her keester's seester.

The Great Plotnik Theater Review Division awards 'Killer Joe' 3 1/2 stars with Many Cackles and Snorts.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Murder in Reno

Here, at the second and, supposedly, last day of exile Upstairs, due to the final day of Painting by Ducknik in the The Prose, Poetry and Inexcusable Doggerel Space at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen, The Great Plotnik was going to enter some neat photos of his garden, but instead: he ponders.

Yesterday, most of his loyal readers probably glanced at an article in the paper about some guy in Reno who tried to kill a judge and now they're after him. Not something you'd read too closely. Oh, yeah, he also killed his wife, first. And in today's paper there are testimonials written by members of the fugitive's family, talking about how sweet a guy he had always been.

Guess what? The dead wife was the sister of The Great PunkyDunky's dear friend C. C. always used to talk gingerly of his brother-in-law -- said he was worth zillions but was a nasty character. He wondered why his sister stayed married to him. Last year, she filed for divorce. Now, she's dead. And the papers are writing about what a nice man the husband was -- and anyway, the judge that he shot is going to recover, so it's OK. Not a word about the sister.

C. has been working in India. He and his wife are back home in Reno now. It looks like they are about to become parents of his sister's 7-year-old daughter.

So here's how fast things can change: this little girl had two parents until the day before yesterday, and now she has none. It's such a common story we don't even notice it in the news. A woman was murdered but the only item that is newsworthy is that the judge is doing better.

The garden photos will have to wait.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

When All Else Fails, Eat.

The Prose, Poetry and Inexcusable Doggerel Space at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen is under construction. And so, as he always does when faced with extra time on his hands, The Great Plotnik is cooking. First, he charred some red and yellow peppers and put them in a garlic marinade. Then...

...he whipped up a batch of bulgar pilaf with onions, dried cranberries, raisins and pine nuts, and then...

...he made some chicken salad with red grapes and tarragon.

P.J., The Great Domin-Nik, must be ill. Usually, when Plotnik is cooking, she turns up at the front door with some lame excuse about 'acupuncture' or 'taking a walk.' He had the table set and everything.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tipping Part Two

OK, our waiter at THE CLIFF'S EDGE RESTAURANT in the SUNSET JUNCTION district of LOS ANGELES was an ass and the food was bad.

So far, the suggestions to the question of tipping in this situation have been: $Zero, $ .01, 8%, 10%, 15%, 18%, 20%. The Great Plotnik sides emotionally with Mr. Mush and Mr. NotthatLucas here -- no tip seems perfectly justified, based on the bad service and mediocre food at THE CLIFF'S EDGE RESTAURANT in the SUNSET JUNCTION district of LOS ANGELES -- but also recognizes what The Great BeezieWeezie has pointed out -- that waiters share their tips, and in this case the bus boys were the only apologetic humans in the employ of THE CLIFF'S EDGE RESTAURANT in the SUNSET JUNCTION district of LOS ANGELES, so they shouldn't be penalized too.

Hmm, what to do.

After all, the zebra didn't come to the table raw.

And the restaurant's facade did need a little work.

So, in the end, The Great Plotnik has decided that although he thinks no one but the busboys at THE CLIFF'S EDGE RESTAURANT in the SUNSET JUNCTION district of LOS ANGELES deserved to make a penny that night, his 11-12% tip probably wasn't too little. But he doesn't really feel it.

In the future, he hopes he will keep his promise to will slip a few bucks in the busboys' pockets, and leave it at that.