The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Isaac Vazquez Lives

The Moors and the Christians are back at it in Oaxaca. Every morning, at 6:20, a church bell rings, and not just rings: BLANG BLANG BLANG BLANG BLANG BLANG twenty five times, then one time, then two times. It´s the Christians and there´s no goddam reason. It´s not 6AM and it´s not 6:30AM, it´s 6:20AM.

Immediately thereafter, somebody shoots off two or three cherry bombs, with a long whistle and a KA-BLAM! KA-BLAM! KA-BLAM! ´Plotnik figures this is the start of another Crusade and it´s the Moors shooting off the cherry bombs. They´re as pissed off about the church bells as The Great Plotnik and the Great Ducknik are. Just about the time Plot and Duck can get back to sleep the bells ring again. BLANG BLANG BLANG IT´S 6:30! WAKE UP! TIME FOR MASS! WAKE UP! Then whissssssssssssstle KA-BLAM! INFIDEL PIG DOGS! GOD IS GREAT! WE HAVE CHERRY BOMBS! KA-BLAM! KA-BLAM!

This goes on for over an hour. There is no point in trying to sleep, but Plot and Duck cover their heads with pillows and try anyway. BLANG BLANG BLANG HI! IT´S ME! CATHOLIC GOD! WAKE THE HEY UP! Whisssssssssstle KA-BLAM! KA-BLAM! KA-BLAM! YO! CRUSADER SWINE! YO MAMA EATS HOG! BLANG! KA-BLAM!


It´s well worth getting up for breakfast, though. Sofie, the cook, made nopales with eggs and quesillo cheese this morning, along with hot chocolate and a tortilla enfrijolada which seems to have something to do with beans inside the fried tortilla, after the plate of fresh mango, papaya, melon and pineapple. Screw the Moors and the Christians both. This is Good Eats for Plotnikkies Time.

Today, Duck and Plot rented a car...there´s a story here. Yesterday, they couldn´t decide how to see the places they wanted to see today, so they decided to go to lunch. Almost always, when Plot and Duck are stumped, they go to lunch.

After many red and yellow moles, they were walking down a little street and the heavens opened and poured down gatos y perros y ranas y culebras. The umbrellas were useless in so much rain, so they ran into the first open shop they saw, which turned out to be SI! RENTACAR! There was a young boy waiting who had forms and cars. It was destiny.

They picked up their -- little white something ---car this morning, along with their two new Basque/Spanish friends Inigo and Asun, and off they drove to Teotitlan Del Valle, the village of weavers.

Plot remembered the name of the man who, in 1965, had sold him his two fabulous zarapes many Plotnikkies have seen over the years in various houses and apartments -- the gray, black and white one with the eagle perched on the cactus, and the brown and gold patterned one. Before he left S.P. he took photos of the two zarapes. The weaver's name was Isaac Vasquez Garcia.

Well, Mr. Vazquez is still there. He welcomed Plot and Duck and Inigo and Asun into his home and workshop (perhaps it is unfair to say he knew a sure sale when he saw one). Did he really recognize the zarape photos that Plot showed him? Umm, maybe.

He then took an hour to go over, in detail, all the intricate steps involved in making a tapete, from spinning the wool into yarn to coloring it with natural materials, to designing the pattern to using the loom. Perhaps the most interesting part was how they acquire the color red: it comes from a tiny insect found on cactus paddles. Crushing it in his hand, it emits a reddish stain.

Adding a base material to it (lime), the red expands to a bright carmine.

If they want purple, they add some kind of salt.

The next thing the tourists knew, they were being shown a zillion carpets, hangings, runners, and even clothing. The whole family was here now, Mr. Vazquez (who offered Plottie an Old Friends Discount) and his wife with no thumb, and his two sons and two daughters in law and another old woman or two, each one flipping over new carpets as fast as they could.

Plot and Duck have shopped for carpets in Istanbul and in Cuzco, but the amazing thing was that in Teotitlan Del Valle each carpet truly was finer than the last. Mr. Vazquez is a master who, since Plot saw him in 1965, has shown his work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and many other cities around the world, and the reason is he is a phenom.

They talked. They haggled. They came down a fraction on the price. Inigo and Asun bought a small runner and then she bought a reboso (a wrap to put over her shoulders), and now all the Vazquezes turned their energy towards poor overmatched Plotnik.

In Cuzco, they had seen a wall hanging they truly loved but had been too cheap to buy it, and have kicked themselves ever since. That Peruvian weaver must have channeled Isaac Vazquez because it wasn´t going to happen again today. Boy, it´s a pretty one.

Still, here is the tapete the Plotniks REALLY loved but could not afford:

They then beat it out of town, pausing to take a picture of Teotitlan del Valle's shuttered-up tourist office, along with it's fabulous motto.

Then the four drove to Ocotlan and San Bartolo de Coyotepec, two villages renowned for their art, and for lunch. Lunch was great and the black pottery in San Bartolo de Coyotepec was even better. Yes, a bit of that will be coming home too.

Now it´s 7:45PM and Duck just texted Plot from upstairs, which shows how relaxed she is. It´s time for more mole.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Oaxaca, Mole and more Mole

It rains in Oaxaca every day at 5 -- the skies open and you head for a doorway. That´s why The Great Advance-Thinking Plotnik bought Guelaguetza tickets for the 10AM show this morning. Skies were clear, and the sun was broiling, but it didn´t rain until halfway through the final number, almost four hours after the show started, and by then it just felt good.

What an extravaganza -- music and dance and costumes plus civic and tribal pride. Fourteen different groups from different corners of the State of Oaxaca performed their local dances, speaking and singing in Spanish and Zapotec or Mixtec, filling up a huge outdoor circular stage. Their local eight piece bands stood behind microphones in front of a full 40-piece orchestra, which was only brass, woodwinds and percussion. No steenking strings or guitars and no bass either, just four tubas oom-pah-pahing their chicharrones off.

The Governor and his boys, all of whom wore white guyabera shirts with dark glasses, had the Best Seats, and the dancers would often run up the runway to present him with flowers or a ceremonial machete. This is saying something, since there were so many threats to disrupt the Guelaguetza that there are a trillion police, all carrying clubs behind clear shields, everywhere you look all through town.

Not like Guatemala, though, where they were scary. Here they have huge fat bellies and stand around talking on cell phones.

Maybe the best dance was the Jarabe Mixtec, which is a high-spirited very fast waltz where one man in a white peasant´s costume with red neckerchief, and one woman in a multicolored skirt, both in sandals, practically ate up that stage with exciting dancing. He was supposedly trying to capture her and she was having none of it. Meanwhile, the audience knew the lyrics and sang twenty different verses.

Or maybe it was the Zapotec women doing the Torero Serrano, which means bullfighter from the mountains, and as the men approached them, holding their handkerchiefs as if they were bullfighters, the women charged through the handkerchiefs and barreled into the men and knocked their asses right off the stage. They pulverized those guys. The audience went insane everytime a guy fell over.

(Please scroll forward to August 8 for many Guelaguetza photos.)

Almost four hours is a lot of hours in the sun. It was a fabulous morning, and now it´s 6pm and Plottie´s pooped. It probably has something to do with the mole he and Duck just had for lunch -- Restaurant Los Pacos brings little bowls of the six different Oaxacan moles to your table and you taste them, using tortillas as dippers, and then decide which to order. The Plotniks, having eaten the greatest Mole Poblano in the history of the world the other night in Puebla, opted for the yellow estofado which is a pork stew in a zillion spices including a lot of vinegar. The best part of lunch was the avocado/cucumber salad, dipped in a thick guacamole with a little morita (smoked chile) salsa.

Oaxaca is much bigger than Plot remembers it, of course, it having been 1965 since he was here last, and, to be honest, it doesn´t seem to have the charm of Puebla, nor certainly of Antigua, or anywhere in Peru. One of the reasons, most likely, is that no matter how you slice it, Mexico is basically the USA. There aren´t many Americans visible, but the culture, the music, the flow of people all point North. The real frontier of America is on the Guatemalan border.

Plot and Duck don´t do heat very well anymore, and it´s pretty danged hot during the day, until it rains. But the mornings and evenings are spectacular, and there´s a pool in the B&B, and Sophie, the cook, makes huevos rancheros using the local quesillo cheese. The strange thing about that cheese is that Plotnik remembers HATING the cheese in Mexico when he was 19, but now he loves it. It´s sour. Salty. Yumm.

There will be another entry just about the Mole Poblano in Puebla, where they invented it. It´s the mole Americans are familiar with, if they know mole at all, dark, not hot but spicy, with chocolate as one of the ingredients. But eating this one, Plot and Duck realized they´ve never eaten mole before. Each bite was that absolutely perfect blend of thirty or more spices (clove, cinnamon, chocolate, peanut, pasilla chile, guajillo chile, morita chile, ancho chile, garlic, sesame, the list goes on an on) and you could NEVER taste only one spice. Everything was a symphony. The mole was so good that Plot and Duck have changed hotels, to stay at the Colonial, where the mole was, when they return to Puebla on Thursday.

But...they´ve got to take that freaking awful bus again. Plot hadn´t been carsick in many years, but it hit him ten minutes out of Oaxaca and it´s a four hour-plus, windy and miserable ride. Well, we´re not thinking about that now.

Time to go. Going to a weaving village and one where they make black pottery tomorrow. JK-aka-PP, you oughta be here. BZ, PD, 5H and BI too. Love to everyone.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lightning! Ai Yai Yai and Oi.

The Plotniks´ plane got hit by lightning late last night while landing in Puebla. Don´t be frightened, because this is The Great Plotnik reporting. There was a huge BLAMM and a very white light, the lights all dimmed, the faces of the stewardesses turned somewhere between yellow and cream, and then Plotnik waited for what would come next, which turned out to be everyone sort of exhaling, a few small chuckles and quite a few people saying things like Ai, Jesus and Ai Yai Yai. The pilot never said a thing, and twenty minutes later the plane touched down, no problema.

When Plot and Duck exited the airplane into a very refreshing Puebla night, he didn´t want to appear too concerned, so he asked Ducknik if that was the scariest thing she had ever experienced on an airplane. Ai, Caramba, she said.

Half an hour later Plotnik had two condoms in his hand, thanks to an old lady who walked slowly through the line waiting to go through Mexican customs, staring everyone in the eye, and handing all the men what Plottie had thought would be those little fresheners you open up and spread hot liquid on your face, but no.

Puebla seems to be famous for tlacoyos, which are little fat tortillas, filled with meat and covered with sauce and cheese and served with hot green tomatillo sauce.

Plot and Duck just stood in the park listening to wonderful Huasteca trios, three women in white costumes, each group of whom played guitar, tiny guitar and violin, and sang very bawdy songs about life in Northern Mexican towns like Queretaro. The choruses all seemed to say things like ¨Ai, Queretaro, I Love You, But if You Go Down to the Cantina One More Time When You Come Home I´ll Cut Your Nuts Off.¨ The audience howled.

The flight down here is less than four hours, completely in Spanish and nothing heard but Spanish. There are no gringos here. The only tourists are from Mexico City.

Tonight we go for a real Poblano meal -- mole poblano and chilies in nogada, which are in season now, because whatever is underneath is covered with a sauce made from pomegranate seeds. You see the pomegranates on the street being sold on upturned milk cartons along with lottery tickets.

Huge city. Tomorrow¨is a bus trip, 4 1´2 hours, down to Oaxaca. Los Plotnikos les saludo, amigos. Hola, Isabella. Soy Grampi. Can you say Grampi?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hasta La Vista and Donut Therapy

It's a beautiful morning. Plotnik has fire in the belly for his and Duck's trip to Puebla and Oaxaca, seeking Day of the Dead figures for Blogmaid, ear rings for Mischief, a doll for JJ-aka-PP and a birthday present for Mummy P. Maybe a nice Mexican cell phone, since hers never works.

It's a nice time to leave -- the Plotzers are in First for a brief moment, Barry will maybe or maybe not hit 756 while the Plotniks are gone, the trade deadline will come and go and it won't matter a bit. The tomatoes on the porch have pretty much run their course but the ones downstairs should still be going strong, as long as the automatic watering automatically waters.

The icing on the cake is the return to LA for Mummy P's birthday. Baby I might have even more than five teeth by then. The Great BZWZ is arriving in ____ on ____ (Plotnik is not allowed to say where and when until she tells her Mom).

Faithful Plotnikkies, The Great Plotnik realizes he ponders and worries far too much. Life is too short. So he is considering donut therapy. Does anyone know a good donut therapist? Yes, there's only one. Enjoy the Simpsons movie, everybody.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Drinking the Kool Aid

Plotnik thought he would show his readers a few more gorgeous lilies from his field, to take his mind off the misery of the sigmoidoscopy (routine-scheduled) he had to take this morning, and all the, well, what you have to do the night before.

Then, he spoke to Patsy this morning from DC, who told him the test is useless, you need a colonoscopy like George Bush had, which is what Plotnik thought he was having.

Anyhow, readers, you will be glad to know this is the same orange day lily that grew by the tens of thousands all over the rural routes near Fowl Manors, the Plotnik Manorial Estate once located in Catawissa, PA, and that Plotnik still has the sigmoid colon of a 16-year-old, feh, ptuui, but that's what she said. Mr. Notthat is right. What 16-year-old? Didn't he still need his?

Jeez, it's good that's over with, since tomorrow afternoon begins the schlep to Oaxaca.

Flight to LA, flight to Puebla, spend two days in Puebla, then a 4 hour-15 minute bus ride to Oaxaca city on Sunday. Monday is the dance festival. We'll see what happens after that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Baby I Photos (for real)

She loves that cereal!

And, it has been reported that Baby I has spoken her first official word: "Dad."

How 'bout that? Can anything sound any sweeter?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Baby I Photos (virtual)

There's not too much going on this morning, so Plotnik thought he'd publish a few new Baby I photos, the latest ones that he has received.

Here she is with Paris Hilton

Here she is with her gorgeous new jumper.

Oh, and here she is with Mischief, and her smiling Mommy and Daddy, and Great Grandma, and all the people who love her and get to see her all the time.

Here she is with her neighbors, and some strangers, and some illegal aliens, and people who don't know her and don't care.

And, finally, here she is all by her widdle self. What a smile!

What, you don't see the pictures? Is there something wrong with your computer? Or...could it be there haven't BEEN any new...nah, must be your computer.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Nonfunctional Borehole

Finally, an answer! On Line for Idiot's lead article yesterday was HOW TO ATTRACT A WOMAN! WOMEN LIKE MEN WHO LOOK LIKE THIS! That was enough to pique Plotnik's interest, since he's never been able to figure out what attracts women to men anymore than he can figure out why so many men seem to lose interest in their gorgeous wives, only to be attracted by the plastic fantastic bimbette at Hooters.

Now, thanks to OLI, we all know, at least from the female side. The answer is: If a woman was Daddy's Little Girl, she'll seek someone who looks just like Dad. If she did not get on well with her father, she'll look for someone who doesn't look at all like him.

Naturally, Plotnik started thinking about the guys (he has been aware of) to whom The Great BZWZ has appeared to be attracted. Early guy: not a bit like Plottie. High School Guy: Not a bit like Plottie. College guy: Not a bit like Plottie. This is not going well.

Or maybe -- could it be? -- the whole thing is simply another example of On Line For Idiots' mindless flesh-eating bacterial hooey. It's extraordinary. If you had millions of people reading your publication every day, wouldn't you like to inform them about something important, at least occasionally? Other than Paris Hilton's conversion to Shia Islam?

(The Great Plotnik predicts Paris Hilton, no matter how she felt about her father, will marry some guy who looks like Aristotle Onassis. You read it first here.)

Which is why Plottie was so happy to see BZWZ's comment on yesterday's entry about well meaning people forgetting to give water to their free flowers. She used the most wonderful phrase: Nonfunctional Boreholes.

Hopefully, BZ will tell us more about what it means (probably has to do with wells that were dug in Africa to seek water, but were not finished, or maintained enough to produce a consistent source of drinking water. Right?)

But it's just one of those combinations of words that smacks of Plotnikkie Theology. Plotnik is sure it will soon become part of the Orthodox Plotnikkie Service, and will be used on many other occasions too, starting now: Condoleeza Rice: Nonfunctional Borehole. On Line for Idiots: Nonfunctional Borehole. Bud Selig: Nonfunctional Borehole. Oooooh, this is fun.

The one downside is that Plotnik and Ducknik are leaving for Oaxaca in a few days, so that phrase, colorful as it is, is probably not something they want to be thinking about right now.

It's official, by the way: Plot and Duck miss their kids. There are 'way too many miles between all of us. We're back to the dreaded F word, spoken with a large whine: It's not Fair.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

RR's Back! So are Free Dahlias

It has been SO long since a new photo arrived from Blogmaid of gorgeous RR, KNBR's new sportscaster on the Cute as a Bug afternoon drive segment. Here she is, sitting in Gary Radnich's seat, and we can all just hope that Radnich sees the writing on the wall and quits, leaving RR in charge. She has yet to make one mistake.

Plotnik was walking down 26th of October Street yesterday and passed this chair on the street, with this cup of flowers, and this sign. The sign said something like: "FREE FLOWERS! We are swimming in dahlias and would love to share them with our friends. Please take as many as you like! Have a nice day!"

The water had all dried up in the cup, and the flowers were wilted or dead.

Here we have Bay Area politics in a nutshell: someone had a great idea and took the time to bring it to fruition. Then, figuring they'd done their bit and feeling all creampuffy inside, they moved on to something else, without providing one thought to the infrastructure necessary for the project to have any chance to succeed.

It's this logic that leads people to spend half a million dollars to fix the elevator at the Glen Park Bart station, but not provide for a guard to keep the homeless out of sleeping in the elevator at night. The bathrooms are also locked, so the homeless guys pee in the elevator. The pee seeps down and rots the switches and motors and soon the elevator doesn't work anymore. There's no more money to fix it again, and anyway, why bother?

Enjoy the flowers! We've got lots! Flowers for all! Jeez, what a grump Plotnik is today, all because he missed that one last shot, Criminy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Alan Alda, Steve Martin and The Great Plotnik

This is not Steve Martin, though person after person tells The Great Plotnik that he looks like Steve Martin. This is Alan Alda. The Great Plotnik does not look like Alan Alda, but he is thinking he ought to try a little harder. For one thing, it's the gray suit and tie. It doesn't look gray in this photo taken off the TV, but it was, and not light gray either but, ah, you know, bold gray. And his coat was kind of dark grayish-thing-stuff, and with the bold gray shirt and, well, the somewhat shy but still assertive gray tie, he looked really good.

Alan Alda is olda than Plotnik. But when Plotnik puts on his coat and tie, which he has done for so many weddings this year, he looks in the mirror and does not see Alan Alda. He does not even see Steve Martin. He sees somebody who looks kind of silly. This must change.

But if he bares his secret to The Great Ducknik, she'll say: "Great, Plotnik, I'll take you shopping. Let's go."

Brrrr-rrrrr. Plotnik HATES shopping for suits and sports coats. Those racks, black, black, dark blue, less dark blue but still dark blue, sort of black but with a little blue, oooh, here's a dark, dark blue with a little black...Plotnik always feels like each jacket is hanging on a personal injury attorney. There's gotta be another way.

A few years ago, Plotnik was in Bangkok, where all the tailors are Indians. Go figure. Anyway, he let the cadre of swirling measuring tapes delineate his every inch, and then he chose fabrics and styles from a book. He ordered slacks, a tie or two, a jacket or two, don't forget the shiny off-white Chinese collar silk shirt, and other shirts and maybe more.

Ducknik hates every single garment. She particularly dislikes the blue-checked sport shirt. True, they made it a bit small, but you don't have to button everything. Plotnik is quite fond of the green tweed sports coat. The slacks could be longer, he admits it.

Anyway, it all hangs in Plotnik's closet, 'waaaaay in the back near the Klondike-rated bathrobe.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Gourmet's Dilemma.

Yesterday, the Great Plotnik had a hankerin' for local, wild King Salmon. He was thinking lime, sesame seeds and Aleppo pepper. You only get local, wild King Salmon for a little while each season (last year there was none at all), and there's no taste quite like it. Yep, wild King Salmon it would be, and down he went to his local purveyor of quality fishstuffs. But first, he went to Smell Market.

Now came the Gourmet's Dilemma. In the fishmonger's case at Smell Market were two choices for wild, fresh salmon: Local, fresh, wild (unfrozen) King Salmon ($16.99/lb.) or nonlocal, fresh, wild (unfrozen) Coho Salmon ($2.99/lb.). Yes, wild Coho for only $2.99 per pound.

Plotnik's Grammy Plotnik (who battled with the Helms Man for a better deal on the 5 Cent chocolate donuts) appeared before his eyes. For her it was a no-brainer. Come on! Wild salmon for $16.99/lb. and wild salmon for $2.99/lb? Buy the cheapie.

Complicating the decision was the fact that the local salmon was pink and plump and cut in perfect chunks. It looked like this:

The Coho salmon was sorta gray and thinly sliced and looked like this:

Still, wild, fresh (unfrozen) salmon is wild, fresh (unfrozen) salmon. So Plotnik asked the Chinese fishmonger: "So, I can't help but notice that one wild, fresh salmon costs $16.99 and the other wild, fresh salmon costs $2.99. Why is that?"

"Oh, King, King," said the fishmonger.

"Yes, I know the King is better, but why is there such a price discrepancy?"

"Oh, ha ha, you see ho la woopie."

"Pardon me, I didn't understand you. What did you say?"

"Oh, King, King," the fishmonger said.

"Yes, the King is very good, I know that. But what I want to understand, see, is why is one eight times the price of the other? Is the Coho fresh?"

"Oh, ho ho ho," said the fishmonger, nodding, sort of.

"It is? Well, it doesn't look very good, though."

"Oh, fla pee noo rah tee sroopy," said the fishmonger.

Plotnik never learns. The fishmonger at Smell Market is a nice man but his English...well, he may as well be speaking Salmon.

The two men went around like this awhile longer, but when it all came down to it: Plottie bought the Coho. He bought enough wild, fresh (unfrozen) salmon to feed Duck and a dozen cats for $4.

Oh yeah, you say. That's not what YOU would have done. YOU would have gone for the best salmon. YOU would have paid the money and had a delicious dinner, which would have tasted even better because you'd have known how much you spent.

Well, you see, Plotnik is not like that. If he had paid eight times more, he would have enjoyed it eight times less. It's pathetic, but true.

Cousin Mrs. Two Names suggests Cousin Mr. One Name possesses a similar trait. Welcome to Plotnik's world, Cousin One.

Dinner was delicious anyway. Plottie had to be a little more careful when he pan broiled the huarache, because the pieces were thinner, and the tread on the bottom can be problematic, and then there's the issue of the straps. But it came out great.

Taboulle made with extra lemon to balance the salmon, plus a package of Rainbow's Mattar Poopoo or whatever they call it (Indian potatoes and green peas) and a bottle of Boont Pale Ale...priceless. Better than priceless. $2.99 a pound. Grammy would be proud, though she'd think $2.99/lb. was stupid since Plotnik could have bought salmon in a can.

Sorry, Chef Pickle.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


As we all know, Harry F Potter comes out tomorrow, to the profound consternation of retail bookstore managers like Mz. Mush of Mush Corners. It happens every time -- anxious crowds descend upon her Big Box Book Store, foaming with spittle at the corners of their mouths, as they demand their reserved or not-reserved copy of HFP. Things get crazy. Feelings get hurt. Toes get squashed. Mush swears a lot. Sheesh, you'd think they were giving away I-Phones.

Anyhow, this morning The Great Plotnik had his Sixty Minute Poking, Scraping, Sharp Needle Squirting and Nominal Pain Experience with his friendly, extremely white-toothed dentist. (Around the cubicle door the big boss dentist could be heard trying to convince a patient she needed cosmetic mouth surgery including botox into the lips so her teeth wouldn't protrude as much. Plotnik saw the woman in the chair later on -- she's gorgeous. Already. What in the WORLD is she thinking about?)

The dentist's office, like every other dentist's office in Saint Plotniko, is at 450 Sutter St., known as 450 Suffer. 450 Suffer just happens to be right around the corner from Mz. Mush's Big Box Book Store.

So Plotnik has this great idea: He already has on his bike helmet and blue bike jacket and red-and-white highway worker sweat band. He looks like a freaking Martian. He COULD walk into the Big Box Book Store and demand his copy of Harry F Potter, the day BEFORE the book comes out, in a thick, unrecognizable accent from a country far, far away. He could very easily pretend not to understand a word the kindly book store workers would be trying to convey to him. NO BOOKIE? NO BOOKIE? SHMAGLIPLE SPITTOOTY! XHQA XHQA! WANTUM BOOKIE WANTUM BOOKIE!

Then, he could take a picture of Mush when she runs downstairs to put out the fire, and then he could hurry home to put the picture on his blog, ho ho ho.

If you're looking at Mz. Mush breathing fire out of her nostrils above, you know he did it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Pequeño Puño

Recently, Gabriel García Márquez, who is dying of lymphatic cancer, composed his good-bye letter to his readers and family. He said lots of mostly expected things, like how he should have smelled more flowers and told more people he loved them, but he also had a little section about the things he has learned in his long life. One of them was this:

"He aprendido que cuando un recién nacido aprieta con su pequeño puño, por primera vez, el dedo de su padre, lo tiene atrapado por siempre."

This means: I have learned that when a newborn baby, with his tiny fist, grabs his father's finger for the first time, he has him trapped forever.

Truer words were never spoken. The Great Plotnik has always felt a little sorry for all the workaday, traveling, hustling, ambition-driven Dads in this world who never got to watch their kids grow up. Because 'Plotnik' and 'Ambition-driven' were very infrequently used in the same sentence, and because The Great Ducknik was not only willing to put up with him but had a career she enjoyed and worked hard to maintain, Plot got lucky. Working at home, he got to stay close to The Great PD and The Great BZWZ in a way many Dads can't, which means that today he can smile and nod with understanding at Don Márquez's sage words.

Yes, yes, Plotnik knows it takes a bit of an inflated ego to compose your own obituary and then stick around to read the reviews. (Plotnik once wrote a short story about a composer who did the same thing, then had to fake his own death so he could come to his own funeral to hear the music he'd written for it.)

But Gabriel García Márquez has written giant books. And he's Colombian. Give the man a break. And as for the pequeño puño, simón carnál. That's Chicano and you can't translate it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changing the World, One Herb at a Time

We all talk about the problems of the world, but some people actually do something about them. Here is Grandma Joy (doesn't look much like a Grandma, does she?) in front of Oprah Winfrey's school for girls in South Africa. Whatever you may think about Oprah's TV show, she is taking her cash and walking the walk with it. Joy, can't wait to hear your description and your news.

Meanwhile, back in the Peruvian Herb section of the Vast Holdings, the huacatay which looked like this last month...

...looks like this now.

In the Japanese Herb Division (next pot over), the shiso sprouts, which looked like this in June...

...look like this in July.

The problem is that The Great Herbalist has absolutely no idea what to do with huacatay or shiso. They are both mints, sort of. Plottie has found recipes, make the huacatay condiment he needs ocopa. What is ocopa? Now he's got to go out and plant ocopa. To use the shiso he needs to make sushi. So he needs tuna. Perhaps they are in the pond. What pond? Now he has to dig a pond and plant tuna. THIS must be why Plotnik is not changing the world like Oprah Winfrey. He's busy. Just like the rest of us.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Because of Rod Beck, Ms. Domin-Nik.

Quick answer to Notthat: There is no Dorky Looking, if the ball goes in.

And here is an answer for Ms. Domin-nik, but you'll have to read to the bottom.

It was a baseball weekend for the ages, as long as you're not a fan of the Braindead Caribbeans. The Stiletto City Plotzers came to town, brought out the brooms and swept up the place with the hometown team. It was totally surprising for The Great Plotnik, who has rooted for the Plotzers since before they became the Plotzers (in 2005). He saw all the great Plotzer players, like Duke Plotzer and Sandy Plotzer and Big Frank Plotzer and even the legendary Carl Plotzillo. He loved Plotzer manager Tommy LaPlotzer and hated Plotzer manager Walter Plotzer.

He also remembers all those awful, miserable, terrible, draining and deathlike moments when the Plotzers were defeated by the hated Caribbeans. He can still see Brian Johnson's homerun disappearing into the Candlestick afternoon in 1997, as 50,000 delirious fans screamed in ecstacy and pounded Plotnik on the back, as he sat with his face in his hands staring at the gum on the concrete floor. The world didn't end right then, but it sure felt like it.

Which brings us to today's sermon, children. In this past Saturday's game, Plotnik's beloved Plotzers loaded the bases with nobody out in extra innings. When the next Plotzer batter came to the plate, Plotnik KNEW, and that is KNEW with a capital K N E and W, that the count would run to 3 balls, no strikes, and he also knew that there would be a double play and a strikeout and nobody would score. He would have bet his house, and his car, and his basketball shoes and even Baby Isabella's precious pink booties.

Why? Because !!&@^#%$ Brian Johnson hit his %$&#*%&@! homerun in 1997 in the bottom of the 11th Inning, but in the TOP of the 11th Inning the Plotzers had loaded the bases with nobody out and the count ran to 3-0. Plotnik can tell you who was up (Todd Zeile), what color his bat was (brown) and how sure he was of victory that day.

The problem was, and apparently still is, Rod Beck. Rod Beck was pitching for the Braindead Caribbeans at that moment in 1997, and since Rod Beck died only a few months ago (he and Brian Johnson were the same age - 29 - in 1997), Rod is still watching these games from the Celestial Bleachers. Saturday, he shined down from Heaven with his Beer Bong and made the exact same thing happen again -- double play, strikeout, inning over, no score.

Plotnik is positive it was Rod Beck, rising from the grave once more, two days ago. It was !!*(@*#$&$^! him.

What does this prove? That there is a Heaven and there is a Hell and they can show up at any moment during a baseball game between these two teams, and even the dead can influence the outcome. All you can do is hold your breath and keep watching, Mistress Domin-Nik. Sometimes it helps to construct a shrine out of old brandy bottles and baseball cards, but not always. You never know which deceased Plotzer or Caribbean will reach down and ruin everything. It's out of our hands. THAT'S why Plottie loves it so much, hallelulujah and amen.

Rod Beck gets a tip o' the cap this morning. Now go bother somebody else, willya?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Make Your Free Throws

The Great Plotnik likes how he feels on Sundays after the 3 B's -- bicycle, basketball, bagels. There was lots of fog in the air early this morning, so much so that the deck looked like it had been raining. But the streets were dry and the b-ball court was too.

Unlike the old Saturday game, when Plotnik never knew if enough guys would show up to play, the Sunday game always attracts just the right number: 13 or 14. That way, 10 play and 3 or 4 wait, which means that if you play and lose, there will still be 1 or 2 spots available for the next game. To determine which people get to play in the next game, everyone on the losing team shoots free throws.

If there are 2 spots open, the guys on the losing team keep taking turns shooting free throws until everybody has missed but two people. Those two get to play. If you're a good free thrower, you'll often get to keep playing all morning.

Plottie's a pretty good free thrower, so although his teammates would rather have one of the bigger guys on their team, the bigger guys are bad free throwers. Plottie doesn't miss too often, so while he's running up and down the court, the big boppers cool their heels on the bench.

Too bad, Big Boppers. As Magic Plotnik Johnson once said, "You can't teach tall." But you can teach free throwing. Practice a little bit, why don'tcha?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Day in SP, and Rediscovering Maurice.

Today is Plotnik's nephew Nefnik's last day in SF. Slowly, over time and using different friends and family as guinea pigs, Plot and Duck have been working out a really nice day trip in-and-out-of the city. The first stop is usually the top of Twin Peaks, if things are clear (and warm, like yesterday), followed by a jaunt through the Haight into GGP and a stop at the amazing Conservatory of Flowers, where you can see hundreds of jaw-dropping specimens like this Bat Flower.

Then, after lunch, it's across the GGB (stop at Presidio Pet Cemetery an option) and up into the Marin Headlands, where yesterday the fog was chewing up and digesting the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then a hike out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse (next time, Plotnik, check the Open and Closed schedule). Along the path you can spot and hike down to rocks swarming with snoring and belching sea lions. (Look below Vashnik in photo).

Seeing all the poison oak on the ground, AFTER everyone had hiked down to see the sea lions, curtailed the rest of the trip, to get home and take soapy showers. It seems to have worked -- nobody's scratching his or her life away this morning.

In other news, The Great PD has rediscovered Maurice. Maurice Prince, now 87, was the first black graduate of the elite Cordon Bleu. She cooked for General Eisenhower during WW2, or so the story goes, and then continued to cook for celebrities until opening up her own soul food restaurant in LA. When PD and BZ were small, Plot and Duck used to take them to Maurice's Snack 'n Chat for the very best fried chicken and collards and peach pie. Then, sometime after the Plotniks moved to Saint Plotniko, Maurice's closed. And that was that.

Or so we thought. Yesterday, PD phoned to say Maurice has re-opened, on Pico West of Fairfax, but as take-out-only. The reviews Plot has read are not all that complimentary. Hmmm. Don't care. The whole family will go there again if only to smell the grease and look at the amazing celebrity pictures on the wall. The last time Plot was there Lionel Richie was sitting in the front room (of the old restaurant) and the poor man couldn't eat two spoonfulls without someone rushing up to gush over him and watch him swallow. I guess that's how celebrities eat fried chicken.

Friday, July 13, 2007

TIAPOS Cancelled FUAH.

The Great Plotnik had hired 18 string players and the woodwind section from the Metroplotnikan Opera to come and perform his latest composition at TIAPOS last night, but, sadly, TIAPOS was cancelled. So Plotnik fired the orchestra, tore up the composition, burned the sheet music and can't even remember writing it this morning. Too bad, you guys.

What was amazing was he still had time to ride around the Western Addition yesterday and take this photo of a mural on the side of a housing complex there. The basketball player is Phil Smith, late and former Warrior star who grew up in these buildings. All the other faces pictured are African-American; nevertheless, the sign next to it (All Activities at this Location May be Recorded) is posted in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Last night, the Plots took Nefnik, Fefnik and Vashnik on the Downtown-Pazzia Pizza-Treasure Island run. It was all glorious, as always. Two pieces of pizza came home in a box and (you won't believe this, Mr. Notthat) they are STILL in the refrigerator this morning.

Vashnik does many things well, including riding a seal in the parking lot in Treasure Island. As little boys go, he's perfect.

Tonight is the beginning of the second half of the baseball season. The Plotzers are in town to play the Braindead Caribbeans. Plotnik already knows how it's going to turn out, and there's nothing he can do about it. The Caribbeans are bound not only to sweep, but the Plotzers will probably not score any runs. At the end of the weekend they will trade all Plotnik's favorite players for a bunch of overpaid, underachieving, aging, bloated fat guys. It's too late for a new shrine. Oi.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Touring the Mission and Willie's Pink Caddy

Standing under the images of Malcom, Nelson and Cesar came Nefnik, Fefnik and Vashnik. Walking through the Mission was a lot of fun, starting at Martha Brothers, moving on to Samiramis, then Dianda's Bakery, then Sun Fat Fish Co., then around to La Palma and back home, pausing to take a picture of the sleepy cat in Samir's window.

What everybody was talking about in the coffee shop was Willie Mays's appearance at the All Star Game the previous evening. When he walked out from center field it felt like the Pope had arrived. The Say Hey Pope. Then they put him in a pink Cadillac and he drove around the field tossing baseballs into the stands. Great moment.

(Reporter Dunky's photo is up on the site now, as are Cousin Mrs. Two Names's Wedding photos. Use-um Scroll Button.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Extra! Extra! Baby I photos!

Of COURSE we have more Baby I photos. Waddaya think we are, chopped taco?

And of COURSE there are more Stiletto City food shots. Ya get the unreal ramen at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo (which is expanding like crazy, unlike S.P.'s Little Tokyo which is falling apart and disappearing as we speak).

After the wedding Saturday night, Plot and Duck had a serious Stiletto City Experience. Still wearing their fancy wedding duds, they drove out to Tacos La Fonda, a taco truck parked in front of a car wash out near Burbank Airport that Plottie has been reading about on Bandini's Great Taco Hunt. They parked Mummy P.'s Lexus next to pickups and sedans and old truck bodies with built-up We-Haul'Em sides, and ordered their four tacos (2 carnitas, 2 carne asada) to go, first stopping at the salsa bar (green and red). One gavacho in coat and tie, one gringuita in her pretty party dress, four homies in do-rags, a young couple in jeans with their child in pajamas, loud ranchera music coming from somebody's car, and $4 bucks for 4 fabulous tacos. Man! Sometimes this city almost seems liveable.

And guess who is learning to play piano? Sorta.