The Great Plotnik

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bonus Saturday Coverage: The Plotzers Win! The Shrine Works!

Buffalo Hunting in Colorado

Plotnik's employer, OLD (On Line for Dummies), has come up with yet another kicky, kitschy, kooky poo idea. The idea is to advertise places for men to go on vacations -- men only. No women.

So they've tried to come up with things they think men would love to do, vacations for which we've all been creaming in our beers. The geographical area is anywhere across the country and price, apparently, is no object.

The only sense Plotnik can make out of this is: this is what happens when you let butch women choose for America's men. What else could it be? Here's what they've come up with so far: Hunting Buffalo in Colorado. Tasting Beer in Oregon. Road testing Jeeps in Indiana. Cars. Guns. Jeeps. Beer. There's probably a Viagra dealership somewhere that offers tasting hours on weekends. If there is, we'll have it.

How about: Sitting on the Couch Watching Football? They haven't settled on that one yet, but they will. How about Ripping Up our Alimony Payments? Men love that, right? How about: A Reading Group of Fart Books? Coo-oool!

OK, Plot is starting to sound like Ducknik did when the subject of Martha Stewart came up. Nobody likes to see their side trashed, even if that wasn't the idea.

So The Great Plotnik will admit that he spoke on the phone yesterday to the man whose 62,000 acre ranch in Colorado is where the buffalo hunting takes place. It's ridiculously expensive, but, if hunting and Plottie were in the same atmosphere, going out on horseback to track a buffalo might sound like fun.

If it weren't for the shooting part. Look at this picture. The hunter here seems really happy. He got his buck bison. Wow. Cool. Fantastic. Yowzer. Now what?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Raise a Tequila for The East Side

It's hard to believe, looking at the Great Five Point Eight Head dancing with PD in Elysian Park last Sunday, that the lady has gotten enormous. From the rear she looks just like the old FiveHead, but from the side -- ai, caramba. See her Friday, big. See her Saturday, bigger. Little Maynard-stasia is jumping around in there, waiting to bounce out into the world...said Plotnik, tossing salt over his shoulder and spitting three times.

Elysian Park is an anomaly -- though it is in the middle of the city, and is the metropolis's second-largest park, few Stilettolinos use it. Most have no idea where it is. You get car clubs and gangbangers and kids on swings and infants in strollers and quinceañera girls in flouncy white dresses and vatos drinking beer in ribbed t-shirts down in the main part of the park, but on the other side, where the next picture was taken, it's pretty much deserted, except on game day when Plotzer fans drive through heading to and from the stadium.

When The Great Plotnik looks at this picture of downtown, he realizes none of these buildings were here when he was growing up. Not a one. When he thinks about Stiletto City, he remembers it from the smiling eyes of a child. He loved growing up there. It was hot when the rest of the country was cold. He and his brother rarely had to play inside.

So he's happy to see The Great PD and the Great 5.8 starting a family in a city that is good for kids, and especially on the East Side, the Elysian Park side, the part of town that still feels like it did when Plotnik was small. As much as he is dismayed by the vapid, exit-less maze that is the rest of S. City, EPark and Angelino Heights and Elysian Park still feel like home.

We won't talk about the young guy on the plane flying down last weekend, who kept talking about how he had to get his infant on a fast track into the right preschool so he could funnel into the right private elementary school so he could grab the right private middle school so he know. That's the new Stiletto. Plottie is dreaming about the old Stiletto this morning. It's his blog.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The New Tortilla Machine

La Palma has a new tortilla machine, which makes somewhat larger tortillas than the old machine. The new tortillas are marked: "Sin preservativos." The old tortillas didn't have any preservatives either, and you could buy them by the dozen for thirty five cents or 3 packages for a buck. The new tortillas are $1.35 a kilo, or $0.62 per pound. You can still buy the old tortillas, with the green circle, which taste great, but the new ones, with the yellow square, taste even better than the old ones. However, you can't buy them by the dozen. The new packages of new tortillas made by the new machine are available only in plastic bags containing three dozen tortillas.

Now, since the old tortillas cost $1 for three dozen, and the new tortillas cost around $1.40 for three dozen, but the new ones are bigger (and, let us not forget, somewhat tastier), you'd think it would all come out about even.

BUT! The Great Plotnik can't use up three dozen tortillas in one night, and they're nowhere as good the next day. The next day you have to warm them up on the gas burner and they get kinda crisped out. The next day you can use them to throw in old leftover chicken and leftover salsa and leftover guacamole and leftover rice, yum, and leftover beans and leftover cabbage salad, yo, Plotnik is getting hungry now, but they'll never taste as good as when they were warm.

Did we mention warm? The new, larger tortillas in the new, larger bag are steaming hot when you buy them, because the new tortilla machine is no more than five feet away from their box. The lady in the green apron and two long black braids takes the warm tortillas from the hopper of the new tortilla machine, stuffs them into a plastic bag and puts them into the cardboard box on the counter or into your hand. The old tortillas, which used to be available hot, are no longer available hot, because the old tortilla machine has been taken someplace else. The slightly smaller tortillas, made on the somewhat older tortilla machine, now have to be trucked over to La Palma Mexicatessen, and by the time they do that you may as well buy the new ones, which seems to be the point.

The lady in the green apron and two long black braids is the one you want making your order of 'quesadillas a mano con salsa fresca,' except you don't want your quesadillas made with either the tortillas from the old machine or the tortillas from the new machine. You still want the lady in the green apron and two long black braids to walk PAST the tortilla machine and take two fat, hand-made tortillas from the OTHER lady in a green apron and two long, black braids, who looks just like the first lady but is older and perhaps exactly twice the first lady's size, and is patting the masa between her hands and cooking her way-thicker tortillas on a long, flat griddle, and you want the two ladies to pause and exchange a few jokes in Spanish and perhaps a story or two about each other's children, and then you want your lady to take your two tortillas, walk to the smaller griddle on the other side of the room, slap them down so they sizzle, take a spatula and fold them over to encase the cheese, and grill them on both sides until they're the color of light brown sugar. Then, when the griddle has crisped up the quesadillas, she can walk back to the counter, open up the quesadillas with a knife, so the escaping steam practically covers her face, and shovel in fresh salsa and close 'em up again, wrap 'em in foil and bring 'em over.

The lady with the green apron and two long, black braids always puts in lots of salsa. That's why you want her to make your quesadillas, instead of the skinny kid in the yellow shirt and black shoes who acts like salsa is gold and you're the tax collector.

And there you have it, Hanky Girl. Quesadillas a mano con salsa fresca, a new tortilla machine, and less baseball.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

36 Years Ago on Long Island

Thirty six years ago, yesterday, The Great Ducknik became a Plotnik. She remembers it was a blisteringly hot day on Long Island. Plotnik does not remember the weather, only that he was wearing a white suit that Duck had made for him, that made him look like Mark Twain. Duck had made her own wedding dress too, in which she was without a doubt the most beautiful flower of the year 1970.

It was a backyard wedding, with perhaps a dozen people in attendance. Duck and Plot had to work out a compromise preacher of some kind, since neither would have a thing to do with any religion they were familiar with, so they chose Reverend Hadley, who was a Unitarian and was willing to leave out the word 'God.'

Reverend Hadley showed up late, but it didn't matter because Plot's good friend and Best Man, Jamie the National Treasure, got himself locked in the flower locker at the florist shop and it took everyone a long time to find him.

Duck's Aunt Alice made the wedding cake: a sour cream coffee cake, chosen because it went well with champagne. There must have been food, but Plotnik cannot remember any. Can you believe it? Plot can't remember the food at his own wedding. Nervous? Him?

It was definitely a low key affair. Mummy and Schmeckl Plotnik flew in from Stiletto City, two of Duck's Aunties came down from Minnesota and one from Kentucky, and the only other guests were The Crow and his Ex-Wife. Actually, she wasn't his ex-wife yet, but she was nine months pregnant, and they arrived quite late because they were having a major league argument. The problem was they were bringing Mummy Plotnik in their car. Mummy P. wasn't sure whether The Crow and his soon-to-be-Ex would kill each other before or after they got Mummy P. to the wedding. That was it for the guest list.

The neighbor across the street tied a string of cans to the bumper of Plot's rented car and wrote 'Amateur Night' in soap across the windshield. The more Plotnik recalls his Wedding Day, the more it sounds like it took place in 1875.

But the most important thing is that Plot and Duck got lucky. Neither was blind to the odds against their marriage lasting. But over time they began to realize each had strengths the other didn't have, and weaknesses the other didn't mind.

For example, last night at The Slanted Door Duck ordered a caiprinha and Plot ordered a mojito. They each took one sip of their drink and then tasted the other's. Naturally, Plot liked Duck's caiprinha better and Duck liked Plot's mojito better. So they switched. They've been doing the exact same thing for 36 years and, God willing, they'll keep it up for 36 more, before they learn to order for themselves.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Inside the Stadium and Outside the Stadium

This is how the stadium looked last Saturday night from reserved seats above the First Base line, and...

...this is how the stadium looked Sunday afternoon from a picnic area in Elysian Park, above Plotzer Stadium, as viewed from the side of a hillside above the gulch that is/was Chavez Ravine.

The sounds of the 40,000 people in the stadium carried clearly to the few dozen people in the park on Sunday, but no one had a radio so we all had to guess what each cheer might have represented on the field. Up until the final, raucous explosion of noise, we mostly heard sounds like a-a-aaa-AHHHHHHHH-OHHHHHHHHHhhh-h. This meant "maybe, maybe, MAYBE - RATSrats."

When the organ played 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' we knew it was the bottom of the seventh inning.

When the game was won in the bottom of the ninth, the noise was astonishing, accompanied by drums beating, the organ playing, lights flashing off and on above the upper deck and insane, sustained cheering.

Everyone agreed it was every bit as much fun to listen to the crowd reactions from the Park as it was to watch the game on the field the night before. That may have something to do with the Plotzers getting creamed on Saturday but winning Sunday.

It turns out to be possible to eat a Plotzer Dog while wearing a baseball mitt.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Very Cool Birthday Present.

Stiletto City has many faults, three of which render it practically unliveable, if you ask The Great Plotnik -- traffic, traffic and traffic. Once, he would have put choking smog onto the list, but here it is late September, in past years a season for attacks of yellow sky and lungs on fire, but no more. Something has changed here. The weather is gorgeous and the sky joke...clear and beautiful.

Traffic -- criminy. Saturday night Plot was heading downtown to get to The Great Punkydunky's to give him a birthday present in a box, that Ducknik had prepared. Plot didn't know what was in the box. There was a traffic jam at the entrance to the 101, so he kept going towards Hollywood. There was another traffic jam at the Cahuenga overpass, and another one just after he got on the freeway because -- oh, there's never a because. Just because.

But once he got down to Punky's and gave him the birthday box, and Punky tore open the packaging, what was inside was a baseball mitt. Plotnik's baseball mitt. When Plot looked up, confused, Punky said "Let's go! The mitt's for catching foul balls. We're going to the Plotzer game!" Is that cool, or what?

From Punky's house they could actually walk to the stadium -- twenty minutes from leaving the house to sitting down on the First Base Line, and that was with a seven-month pregnant lady who was walking faster than any of 'em.

Of course the Plotzers lost Saturday. Big deal. It was a treat to be at the game and, for the first time in thirteen years, Plotnik did not have to muffle his blue hat heart.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Don't Miss the Shanghai Steamed Dumplings

The Lion's Head Meatballs in Five-Spice Sauce were very good, but the Shanghai Steamed Dumplings were even better. It's an Ad Man's finest moment to have renamed the Shanghai Dumpling House -- it's now the Shanghai Dumpling King. But the atmosphere is not exactly royal. Waiters in white t-shirts and funky tennis shoes, families with very loud babies crying, huge steamers in the middle of most tables filling the room with the fragrant essence of ginger, and people waiting patiently in line by the front door for the best dumplings in the world. It reminds The Great Plotnik a lot of Kowloon, across the bay from Hong Kong -- without the cigarettes. It's worth a short trip to the Avenues (two blocks from the Balboa Theatre) at any time of day to taste those Shanghai Steamed Dumplings.

Plottie is heading for Stiletto City. There's always news down there.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Tough Job, but Somebody Has to Do It

Plotnik has three assignments. He has to photograph the carne asada burrito at El Farolito. He has to photograph the juiciest dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling King. He has to write a review of The Slanted Door.

Also, he is flying to Stiletto City for the weekend.

So, it looks like this: lunch at Farolito. Dinner at Shanghai Dumpling King. And for Duck and Plot's Anniversary next week: lunch or dinner at Slanted Door. Make sense?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Don't Run Out of Chocolates Next Time

Last night Plotnik and Ducknik went to the opening of Tom Stoppard's 'Travesties' at A.C.T. Theater. It used to be called The Geary Theatre, until last night, when A.C.T., in honor of its 40th Anniversary, cut a pink ribbon on stage and renamed the theater the American Conservatory Theater. Gavin Newsom proclaimed Sept 20. 2006 as American Conservatory Theater Day in Saint Plotniko. Tom Ammiano was in the front row and he applauded with everyone else. Thank God he didn't speak.

The play, written in the 1970s, was LONG. Brilliant too, but Stoppard tends to leave the Great Plotnik yawning, because nothing much happens. At the intermission, at which champagne was proffered, and chocolates too, supposedly, but all the chocolates were consumed by the first people out into the lobby so Plot and Duck never found any, Plot said to Duck "if you want to leave now, we can" ... and Duck ran into the theater, got her coat and they were out of there before the Korbel lost one more bubble.

Usually it is Plot who tires more in longwinded yakfests, but he was actually enjoying himself. He might have stayed. But Duck had had a long day and was tired. Chocolate might have helped. Coffee. Joe, make it a double.

'Travesties' is an investment -- you need to treat it that way. Take a long nap first and eat some fish. Your brain and your ears need to be tuned in. It's like dialing Traffic Safety at 1750 on the AM dial. One tree in the way and you won't get any reception.

Look, this is a blog, for God's sake! It's sub-jec-tive, as our Pre-si-dent would say, taking a long time between syl-la-bles.

Some people love Stephen Sondheim and some people love Phillip Glass. The same people love Tom Stoppard. The Great Plotnik enjoys selected work from all of these fine writers, but he prefers it when he doesn't leave the theater saying "My, that was vintage Stoppard!" Instead, he loves to say: "My! What a great show!"

And no chocolates. The Great Plotnik Theater Awards Division awards 'Travesties' a star for the outrageous premise, another star and a half for great acting (SOOOO many words), and an extra half a star for a huge crowd that allowed the Plotniks to duck out the front door before Act 2 began. Take off half a star for running out of truffles -- I mean, come ON! Announce chocolates? Have chocolates. Don't get our hopes up. Jeez.

So that comes to 2 1/2 Stars for Travesties. And the Plotzers lost again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's Get Uneasy Time.

It's official. George Bush scares the pants off me. It's funny to make jokes at his expense, but the facts may be that a strike on Iran is already in the works, and we are powerless to stop it. If they win in November, they'll take it as a go ahead for their plans. If they lose, they'll just think of another reason.

Did anyone see Bill Clinton on the Daily Show last night? Man, whatever you thought about his personal life, if you gave a damn about it, you were able to feel confident that he was intelligent enough to see each side clearly of confusing world situations. Bush has had the chance to grow into his job, but he has been unable to. The job is over his head. That's all there is to it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Little Number 21

Pinch Hitter
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
This is not Big Number Five, who is Joe DiMaggio. It is also not Little Number Five, who hit a memorable game winning home run in the tenth inning last night, one that prompted a phone call from The Great PunkyDunky in Stiletto City, who held the phone outside on the balcony so Plotnik could hear the neighborhood shouting and honking horns in response.

But, as is almost always true, that home run would have not been possible without someone else, little Number 21, whose name is Marlon Anderson. Marlon Anderson hasn't had much of a career. He has been with six teams in five years and came to the Plotzers only a few weeks ago as a possible pinch hitter. But the Plotzer's young phenom left fielder has run out of gas at the end of a long season, and the old vet, Marlon, replaced him last night. Marlon was ready.

Last night he got five hits, including two home runs, one of them tying the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Without Marlon, no tenth inning, and without the tenth inning, no heroics for Little Number Five.

It's easy to love players with huge publicity machines and names like Barry and Nomar and Derek and Manny, but The Great Plotnik prefers the Marlons and Joses and Ramons and Brads who don't get their chances until big moments. It gives Plotnik a good feeling in the pit of his stomach when they come through.

Monday, September 18, 2006

More Pins

Maybe it's the autumnal crack in the air this morning, the sign that, even though there are still plenty of flowers in the garden, the season is about to roll over again and things must change. Plot opened his eyes and realized it's time for another long trip.

Last night Ducknik and Plotnik sketched out the places on their Map O'Pins that they most want to see. Several of Duck's were the same as Plottie's -- Japan, India, Southern South America. Plot's list seemed to be high on islands -- the Marquesas, the Seychelles/Comoros, Indonesia. Duck mentioned Angkor Wat and Alaska.

Of course, there's another trip they need to make first, oh, say sometime in early November. They are really looking forward to that one.

Plot has been thinking about getting a laptop to travel. The problem is that he really likes going to internet cafes. If he can tune into home from his room in the hostel it's going to take some local interaction out of the process. Hmmm. But he does need to be able to send and receive photos quickly.

It'll work out. It's only September. There's plenty of time, right, spit over the shoulder, pttt pttt, no black cats?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hungry on Sunday

It's Sunday, and the Great Plotnik just returned from the plotzketball wars. He's hungry as a horse, so he turned to one of his favorite blog sites The Great Taco Hunt This mad blogger is making a hegira, perhaps even a jihad, out of hitting every taco stand in L.A., which is almost as impossible as counting all the nail parlors in Noe Valley.

Mmmmm, the Trifecta: Carne Asada, Carnitas and al Pastor. Where are those car keys anyway?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The New Lead Sheet: Plotnik can be as wordy as he feels like.

The Great Plotnik has gotten way behind in drawing up lead sheets for his better songs. A lead sheet contains the melody line, the chords and the lyrics to a song: the most basic pieces that singers or instrumentalists use to play along in a rehearsal or recording session.

But lead sheets don't just spurt from the songwriter's left ear. Drawing them up is a process Plotnik has always disliked, not only because it takes a long time, but also because it forces him to define the melody accurately, which is not always possible, or even desirable. Many times Plotnik has sat in a recording session as a singer was (to Plotnik's ears) brutalizing his melody, only to realize after some time had passed that the way they sang it was the way they heard it, and it was every bit as good as what Plot had written.

(Or not. Rule 2 for a singer seems to be: If I Can Make a Five Note Interval Into A Three Note Interval, I Will.)

(Rule 2-A is If The Writer Doesn't Like It, Fuck Him.)

(Rule 1 is: I Am Far Too Cool to Carry My Own Microphone, but that's another story.)

To Plottie's great pleasure, technology has caught up to the lead sheet process. Two days ago he downloaded Finale's most basic product, called Note Pad. It's free. All you have to do is enter the notes and time values to your melody, using the mouse, and when the melody's done you press different buttons and add lyrics and chords.

Wonderfully, the measures get bigger to handle the size of the words in the lyrics (always a bugaboo in the old days -- you drew out the melody and then your too-wordy lyric wouldn't fit under the notes and you'd have to erase and redraw them. No longer).

It looks ten times better than Plot could have drawn out by hand. This picture does not do Note Pad justice. Wow. That was almost fun. Two songs down, fifteen or so to go.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Great Plotnik's Travel Rant

In this morning's Chron there was an article written by an irate travel journalist about how older travelers are ruining the hostel system by wanting to stay in them. The author's point was that in the same way grandparents shouldn't want to live in a college dorm, which is after all where young people want to interact with each other, neither should they want to stay in hostels, where the purpose is the same.

The Great Plotnik and Great Ducknik travel as much as they can and love to stay in hostels or backpacker hotels, not only for the cheap price, but precisely because there are younger travelers there. The terrible dilemma in which non-kids-who-love-seeing-new-places often find themselves is that they can't stand most other travelers their age, who are usually well-heeled and interested only in having the world presented to them in a nice, clean package, preferably between massages. When Plot and Duck toured South Africa in backpacker hostels they met fascinating kids, whose travel maps already had more pins at age 22 or 25 than Plot and Duck would amass in a lifetime. One kid from Scotland was taking seven years to travel the globe without ever taking an airplane.

Conversely, when Plot and Duck came down to the communal kitchen in the morning to make breakfast, the kids got to taste some really good Saint Plotniko coffee and share some edible bounty they probably could not have afforded, and had never heard about anyway.

It must also be said that most of the young travelers P and D ran into in the hostels were going to the same tourist spots, eating in the same cafes, experiencing their host countries in the same shallow way as their parents, unmindful of local culture, language, food or customs. The fantastic Cape Malay culture in Capetown was unknown to every young traveler the Plotniks ever talked to, no matter how long these kids had been in the country. Why? Color? Already ingrained baises? Not a lot of curiosity, anyway.

The end of this diatribe goes like this: the very, very best part of traveling is meeting other people who love finding out about new worlds just like you do. The next best thing is getting lost -- so you can find your way back. Unless you're willing to meet different kinds of people, keep your ears open and walk off the paved path, you may as well stay home and watch Survivor.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Gunk is Gone

Does anybody remember the counter at Hungry Joe's? White linoleum, covered with gunk? Hungry's is now called 'Toast,' and has been cleaned up and renovated, and the new owners have brought it into the 21st Century.

Big mistake. Hungry Joe's smelled like a diner. One step through the door and you were greeted by Parfum d'Hash Browns and Boiled Coffee. The old fry grill was right in back of the counter, where you see the espresso machine now, so you could smell the potatoes 'n eggs 'n bacon 'n pancakes cooking up in front of your nose, splattering grease on the walls. The blueberry pancakes were famous. The white paper menus all had blue stains over the pancake column.

Oh, you could get a tofu scramble at Hungry Joe's, but they cooked it on the same grill with the bacon, sausage and burgers so what was the point?

Toast has spanking new menus and a stainless steel counter. It smells a little like the part of the Auto Parts Department where they sell the lemon air fresheners. The food looks pretty good, but...well, The Great Plotnik couldn't make himself taste it.

There are plenty of people who like things the way they used to be, not for a good reason, but just because. Plot is not usually one of these people, but when it comes to big city downtowns, grand old movie theaters and funky, vibey, delicious, old-school grease joints The Great Plotnik turns into Archie Bunker.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Yellow Rose of Saint Plotniko

The Yellow Rose of Saint Plotniko has been sung about in song, told about in story and driveled about in blog. Yet, few have mentioned the divine healing qualities of a fragrant yellow rose.

Simply hold it to the breast while adjusting your breathing after a particularly disheartening Plotzer loss. It may also help to take one of the thorns and slit your It's only a game.

Now, although The Great Plotnik has promised that he is out of the baseball shrine business, he can't resist showing his legions of readers just how fine Pedro Guerrero looked sporting a saxophone. This was BZWZ's idea. It worked just about as well as everything else.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Baseball and Taco Sauce

September 11, 2006, is done, thank God. The country has mourned or whatever it did by mounting a solid week of jingoistic hand wringing, and now we can turn to the important stuff. Baseball.

OK, OK. Plotnik will say a few more things on the subject. His Israeli friend Yossi called Plot on the phone last week to tell him the Hebrew newspapers in L.A. (which print stuff our papers won't, see) had it as an undismissable fact that the Iranians were planning to mount a huge attack this year on 9/11. Maybe on Israel, maybe on Europe, maybe on the U.S. Yossi was completely convinced it was going to happen. Sounds crazy? Yes, sounds crazy.

How about not allowing liquid taco sauce from an airport Mexican food stand to be taken on the plane unless you first take it out of its container and spread it on the taco? Sounds crazy? Yes, sounds crazy.

The sad truth is that we probably can't stop al-Queda by taking off our shoes at the airport. They're way too smart for that. But we probably can stop the lunatic copycats who aren't even in it for the virgins. They just want to get their name in the paper. They can be really dangerous too. This is the way the world is. So, live with it. Right?

Anyway, enough of that. It's September 12. Baseball is what counts now.

The Great Plotnik looked at his entry for September 6, 2005, which was titled 'The Fat Lady Sings.' The entry wasn't all that different than September 8, 2006, when Plot blew up the shri...well, the, you know, that thing, with the 1/2" tall can of beer. In both cases Plottie had given up on his team.

This year, at least, if The Fat lady sings, she'll have to start a little bit later.

It's the best time of year, even if your team loses in the end, which it almost always does. Plot will be watching five different teams on the computer, probably watching the Braindeads and even the Smokeland Smokes on TV, then, based on those results, going to sleep either sad or happy, then waking up wondering how his team will do the next day.

Oh, yah, it's idiotic and counterproductive, yah. But it's not a waste of time. Not when you've been doing the same thing since your guys were in Brooklyn and the other guys were in the Polo Grounds, and if you don't know what that means you don't get a say here.

Taco sauce on airplanes. That's a waste of time. But, hey.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Swimming Against Titillation

The Great Plotnik had a talk with his big boss yesterday, a veteran newspaper man who has been swimming against the tide as Managing Editor of AOL's content pages. He and Plot commiserate from time to time about the mindless wonks who run AOL nationally. Now it seems that there is a plan afoot to eliminate freelance writers entirely (that would include Plottie, most likely) and simply pay for content from other sites. It may not happen this time -- but eventually it will.

The reason is simple: few turn to their on-line content provider for a review of a new musical. They get that info from TV, or the newspaper, or from friends. The only way to keep an online audience is with online columnists. We don't read the Chron for national news -- we know our hometown paper's coverage stinks on just about everything. We read the Chron for its local features -- for John Carroll, for the funnies, for sports, for movie reviews. Local news for a local paper. Online columns for an online service.

But AOL has no local columnists. Plotnik has tried for years to convince them that people have great loyalty to the few people whose opinions they value. But the prevailing opinion seems to be that it's all about advertising, now that free internet service has taken such a huge hit on AOL's bottom line, and the only advertisers they crave are the ones attempting to titillate thirteen year olds with credit cards.

So one of these days The Great Plotnik's byline will not be seen on yet another vapid, dispirited review of The Chocolate, Wine, Art, Music, Free Love, Gay Puppies and Shakespeare At the Mall Festival. He hopes they keep sending him out to restaurants and plays, though.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Kids Score. Parents Smile.

One more item they left out of the Be a Parent handbook: Friday, The Great Ducknik took BZWZ shopping for a blazer (oatmeal), a sweater, pants and goodness knows what else. Duck dropped a bundle on this shopping outing, but LOVED EVERY MINUTE. Plotnik chuckled to himself about how good it is to be the child in these situations, and then immediately took BZWZ out guitar shopping on Saturday. They came home with a new Hohner acoustic guitar, for which he also dropped a bundle and LOVED EVERY MINUTE.

The item in the handbook ought to be marked: Kids Score While Parents Smile.

Meanwhile, Bum be um be Baby has such a hooky melody that The Great Plotnik has succeeded in driving his own self stark raving crazy. He was humming it while playing basketball this morning (FOUL? YOU CALL THAT A bum be um be Baby FOUL?) He is humming it while typing this bum be um be Baby drivel.

The odds are that Tiaposians will hear the song on Thursday, IF Plot hasn't decided by then that, no, after, all, it's a lousy song and not worth playing. Don't think that will happen. Could. Hmmm. Won't.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bum be um be Baby: The Chorus

Bum be um be baby, baby, baby
Bum be um be Baby Mine

That's the chorus. Cool and profound, eh? Wait 'til Plotnik gets to the verses. Last night BZ and Plot sat around and Plot showed her some finger picking in an open G chord, and those simple melodies must have swum around in his brain all night long. This morning he woke up and went 'Bum be um be Baby.'

To write that penultimate sentence, Plotnik had to ask BZWZ what the past perfect of 'to swim' is. Plot suspected 'swum' but was going with 'have swam' until he realized how idiotic that sounded. But 'swum?' Say that three times swum swum swum. It can't really be a word.

Wait! Maybe that's the first verse?

Bum be um be Baby, Baby, Baby
Bum be um be Baby Mine
Bum be um be Baby, Baby, Baby
Bum be um be Baby Mine

Swim swam swum
Suckin’ on your little thumb
Swam swum swim
You might be her, you might be him
Swum swim swam
Little girl, little man
Lookin’ for your Grandpa, here I am
Lookin’ for your Grandpa, here I am

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Shrine Dies

The Great Plotnik blew up his shrine last night, after the Plotzers rolled over on their backs and whimpered like baby birdies before the New York Shmets 7-0. Pedro Guerrero landed on top of Fernando Valenzuela behind the can of Duff Beer. Let 'em stay like that awhile. Plotnik washes his hands of the entire Shrine business.

Fortunately, BZWZ is in town. Last night was her Birthday Dinner at Regent Thai, though her birthday isn't 'til next week. But she'll be back in NY by then. Perhaps she can give Pedro Guerrero one last kick in the shins before she heads back to the Shmapple.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two Aprons

BZ's home and in the kitchen. The other night she and TGP made Salsa Negra. You blend chipotle chiles, sugar and garlic, then fry it in oil until the entire kitchen is black. The aprons help.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Vacation's Over.

The Great Plotnik just went back and loaded photos into all the Maine and Block Island blogs, and while he was at it he realized he hadn't posted one of the Bride and her Mom. (This photo was taken at the party the night before the wedding.)

Also, there was no photo of The Finch and Crow (obviously on both ends of this photo taken with Ducknik and BZWZ).

Nor, anything of Plotnik and Ducknik together. Here they are sitting in the Adams family pew in Quincy, Mass.

So. There you have it. Vacation's over. It's time to move along.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tweaking the Shrine

If you don't understand baseball you won't get this. Before The Great Plotnik went on vacation to the East, he tweaked the shrine. The Plotzer cap was moved to one side, Pedro Guerrero was added to balance out Fernando, a sacred photo of PD and BZWZ as small children was placed to the rear and a sheet of Plotzer decals was laid in the supplication spot in front. At the last minute, Plot put in the final touch: a tiny can of Duff Beer on top of the decals.

It worked well for close to two weeks, but the magic appears to have been dissipated. More tweaking may (or may not) be planned. This is v-e-r-y v-e-r-y delicate stuff.

(Actually, Plotnik knows perfectly well that the shrine's power was severely moderated by a comment he made while in Maine. Stupidly, idiotically, brain-crampedly he stated OUT LOUD that the Plotzers and Piffles would battle it out for First while the Braindead Caribbeans would fight for the Wild Card. DUMB!)

(We are Sorry, Oh Ye Guardians of Mojo! We are Most Unworthy! Oh please forgive us our trespasses and grant us once more ye 10 runs a game! Place line drives into our gloves while in the field. May squirts off the end of our bats find miraculous holes in the infield.)

(We understand this is only a game and that there are real problems out there beyond the stadium walls that need more seriously divine attention. Still.)

Barry Bonds has awakened as we feared he would. This is not good news, not good news at all.

Monday, September 04, 2006


The Noe Valley Voice Summer Party takes place this afternoon at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters. The Plots have been gone for nine days. Things are very crazy around here this morning.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Eastern Eats

Lobster is really good stuff. It's a bit of a pain in the rear end to get the meat out, but once you get used to it it's a breeze. Some people think the claws are the best part, some prefer the tail. Plot's a claw man, because you can get the whole piece out in one chunk.

Lobster notwithstanding, Maine picky-toe crab is not too shabby, especially when made into Debbie's Crab Cakes. The recipe for nine fat crab cakes calls for 2 lbs. of fresh picked crabmeat, 2 eggs, 1/2C bell pepper, 1C minced scallion, 1/2 cup mayo and 2T curry powder.
Maybe the best thing about eating in Maine is not the fish or shellfish, but the fresh berries. Summers are shorter than in more southerly places, but Maine blueberries have more taste than
Western or Southern berries. And the blackberries are huge! You can make an entire pie with just four and twenty.

Providence, R.I. is basically a suburb of Boston, being only 45 minutes away. It's an old-line Eastern city, which means great veal in venerable Italian restaurants like the Old Canteen.

Eastern Italian restaurants smell different than California Italian restaurants, the lighting is different, the bread is better, and the sauce has far more moxie. The Veal Francese with artichokes and capers at The Old Canteen was superb.

You'd think The Great Plotnik and the Great Ducknik did nothing but eat on this vacation. That is 35% to 40% untrue. They ambled through four states in nine days, discovering Providence, Rhode Island (interesting because it's so Eastern and yet so small); Block Island, Rhode Island (not as tony as Newport, just across the bay, but definitely a place where old Yankee money came to summer while everyone else simmered); Quincy, Massachusetts (filled with American colonial history); and No Where in Particular, New Hampshire (the highway passed over it for maybe half an hour).

Maine is another story altogether, with a vibe distinct from any other section of the country that Plot has ever seen. It's another world up there, from the artsy vibe of Portland to the old sea captains' houses in Searsport and Deer Isle. Seldom does Plotnik say that he's just come home from a place he's going to want to go back to see more of -- Maine is one of those places.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Providence to Vegas to Smokeland

The Eagles have landed, the Plotniks are home.

Alarm clock set for 6:15, so naturally neither Plot or Duck can sleep past 4. Downstairs in the airport Comfort Inn by 6:45 to stuff in calories which will have to last 'til the plane lands in Las Vegas at 2PM (11PM Vegas time). Check Plotzer score on hotel computer. Shuttle to Airport. Jammed plane to Vegas. Not so jammed plane to Oakland. Shuttle to Bart. Train to Glen Park. Walk up hill dragging suitcases. Home sweet home. When Plot pushes the door open it snags on the pile of unopened mail.

This morning it was balmy in Providence, R.I. This afternoon it was hot as hell in Las Vegas. It was warm on the subway platform in Oakland. The sweet smelling winds are gusting in Saint Plotniko, and they feel great.

Amazingly, another old friend is in town with his 24 year old daughter, who the Plotniks will get to meet for the first time. The two will be at musty smelling World Headquarters in half an hour. The windows are wide open. Must stay awake. Must stay awake. More tomorrow.

Friday, September 01, 2006

From Deer Isle, Me. to Quincy, Mass.

Quincy John Adams' house
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Plotniks hugged The Crow and Finch goodbye, then got lost three times on their way from Deer Isle to Highway One. Each time The Great Plotnik came to a dead end with the road going either left or right, with no highway markings whatsoever, with water on both sides, green grass and cows in the fields, and farmhouses that looked like all the other farmhouses, he would stop the car and wait for someone to come up behind him. He'd ask the driver of that car or truck how to get to Route One, to head South to Camden.

"Camden? Oh, yah just take this heah road, and when you get to the fawk in the road, tuhn left. Ya can't miss it."

This was never even close to the truth. The fork in the road led immediately to another fork in the road, with water on both sides, green grass and cows in the fields. Plot would have to stop again at the new intersection and wait for another car or truck to come up behind him.

Eventually he found Route One, turned left, and drove South through Belfast, Searsport and numerous other prosperous looking Maine seaside towns, each with bustling commercial districts, inns and cottages for rent, lobster shacks and book stores, used clothing shops and cafes and the occasional boat yard and commercial harbor, until they got to Camden. They'd heard good things about Camden.

But Camden was the same: prosperous, bustling, lobster, cafe, inn. So were Bath, and Brunswick, maybe, though the whole coast was starting to blend into one large coffeshopinnlobster, and the first two of the Rocks: Rockport and Rockville.

Rockland, however, was different. Rockland has the fabulous Farnsworth Museum, which is devoted to the art of the Wyeths, father N.C. and son Andrew and grandson Jamie. Andrew Wyeth's grand daughter herself gave a tour of one gallery and it was a truly fascinating journey through tempera and splash water color. Plot is a fan from here on out, and one reason is that Andrew Wyeth is 89 years old, still painting and still denying he had anything other than passing artistic interest in those two or three volupturous nude women of whom he painted hundreds of portraits, hah hah, right.

Back in the car and several more hours of more prosperous Maine beach towns, ya de da de da, ending in Freeport, which is where God shops, when God is looking for 15% to 25% off. Across from the gigantic L.L. Bean retail store are outlets for Bass, Anne Klein, Abercrombie and Fitch, Timberland, Clark, Reebok and a zillion others, selling shoes, leather goods, outdoor and indoor clothing...actually, Plotnik doesn't think these stores are selling their wares at all, but instead the entire town is selling shopping. People shop because they came to shop. They don't care what they buy as long as they buy something.

L.L. Bean's main store is in Freeport too, so Plot bought a t-shirt and Duck bought a sweater, each for ten bucks (marked down from twenty, hoozah woopty doopty). They had a $2.75 single scoop ice cream cone which was overpriced by maybe $1.90.

Another hour and the Inn at St. John in Portland, Maine was reached, advertised as a Bed and Breakfast. The Bed part was accurate.

Portland is a little bit like Saint Plotniko, if Saint Plotniko still had a working seaport, was completely flat and was frozen solid for six months each year. It's got as many restaurants per capita as St.P., plus that 'je ne sais lobstah' artsy feel. Plotnik doesn't do 6 month winters.

The toilet overflowed in the Inn at St. John. It wasn't pretty. The 'Breakfast' component of 'B&B' was packaged bagels, plastic knives and styrofoam coffee cups. Don't believe everything you browse.

This morning Plot and Duck drove all the way to Quincy, Massachusetts (passing by, but refusing to stop in Kennebunk, Maine, where George Bush lived his unexamined young life, while learning to pretend to be a Texan). They spent a fantastic three hours at the Adams Monument, which is run by the forest service. They saw the house, built in 1680, where John and John Quincy Adams were born, then walked through the new home into which the Adamses moved in 1788 when their fortunes improved. They saw the church where John, Abigail and John Quincy and his wife worshiped, they sat in their very pew, they walked through the graveyard where all the early town of Quincy was buried, and they left feeling like they'd floated over hallowed colonial ground.

Now, they're at a very nice Comfort Inn at the airport in Warwick, R.I. Tonight they'll return the car, eat more pasta in red sauce, and tomorrow, finally, with wind beneath their wings, but no liquids or gels, arrive home, where a few green vegetables and something with fiber await them.