The Great Plotnik

Sunday, September 30, 2007

One, Two and Three Syllable Children

To go along with Plotnik's story about his old basketball game (tentatively titled "Doug's Private Highlight Reel" -- but who is Doug?), Plottie took a few photos of the old court yesterday. Ripped net, cracks all over the concrete, sunny day and nobody there.

Clementine and Quinn came to the new game this morning. Another dad brought his son Leon, age 2. This means there were one, two and three-syllable children in the same place, which bodes well for the future of mankind.

Quinn is the oldest and knows how to get to the heart of every problem.

When Quinn's dad would see him strangling Clemmie, he'd object. The problem was Clemmie was always laughing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Familiar Voices From the Quarter

The phone rang this morning and it was The Great PD, phoning from the Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. He and 5H and BI were in the line, waiting to get a table so they could order their beignets and coffee. If you're going to eat food that is bad for you, eat beignets from Cafe du Monde. And don't EVEN call them doughnuts.

PD reports New Orleans in September, 2007, is two distinct cities. One is the French Quarter/Esplanade/Uptown, which looks like it always has. The other is the rest of the city. 5H worked on a Habitat for Humanity house on Friday, helping to fix the foundation of a house in a neighborhood where nothing was in sight but destruction. East of the Quarter, down St. Claude, there is basically nothing left.

Nothing left. These two words are easy to write, hard to imagine. Plotnik can't picture it, not really. In his mind's eye will always be the most picturesque and brilliant spot on the planet, a city where God said: "Here. I will do the Experiment Here. Bring music and crayfish."

Of course, later on God also said: "Here. I will f___ this place up." Even those who think they have God's private cell phone number can't ever be sure.

The Great Plotnik asked The Great FiveHead whether all the Plotniks would be moving to New Orleans now. She said that the jury was still out on that, but that all six of us needed to take a long work/vacation there very soon. PD said if everyone in America spent one day rebuilding in New Orleans, they could get the job done.

Plotnik has been feeling unsettled, like his life is pointing towards something, but he can't figure out what. Maybe the answer is not so complicated.

This is SO New Orleans: someone walked up to Baby I, sitting at the table at Cafe Du Monde, and said: "Darlin' you are beige!"

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Great Vowel Shortage

The Great Plotnik, Arabic coffee in hand, plots out his day without The Great Ducknik to advise him. She is in Minnesota at a family reunion, on her father's side of the family, the Welsh side, and The Great BZWZ is with her. BZ will meet her cousins, some for the first time, and they'll all get to spend time with the family matriarch, Aunt Alice. No one has better press than Aunt Alice. Plottie has never been to Minnesota, so BZ will report to him about whether Alice lives in Wonderland or not.

Before Ducknik left, she printed out pages of the family tree. Many of her antecedents were born in Wales during the Great Vowel Shortage, in towns like Llanchyllanchytwl or Gfftlychwnch. When they came here they simplified their names to Jones or Owens or Hughes or Thomas or Pugh or Jenkins. As some of you may know, The Great BZWZ has a very Welsh name. In the old country it was spelled BzLlanchyllanchytwlgfftlychwnchWz.

Meanwhile, The Great PD, FiveH and Baby I are in New Orleans. Yesterday, PD worked on a Habitat for Humanity house in the Upper Ninth Ward (near the last school in which he taught, next to the Desire projects -- yes the Streetcar named Desire really did come from someplace named Desire, which had become a not-too-desirable neighborhood of toxic industry and half-abandoned housing projects until Katrina washed it all away). He sent a text message yesterday saying, among other things: 'It's HUMID!' 5H will work there today.

They actually purchased a trip to New Orleans from a woman who had been in the audience at the Ellen de Generis show. Before the show began, de Generis, who is from New Orleans, handed out free tour packages to everyone. Of course, most people immediately turned around and sold the packages on Craig's List. PD bought one.

But back to Plotnik's day today. He may have to do a rewrite on his obit for a local merchant. Doing that research was no picnic. There are people who do obits for a living. What a gig! "Can you tell me something about your mother?" "(Sniff) Yes. She was (snarf) very (snurf), um (blow nose)."

He may dig up the other side of the iris bed. He may put down new soil and level off the first half, replanting the native irises and the daffodil bulbs he bought yesterday. He may move the plants off the deck for the annual cleaning (which hasn't been done in three annuals). He may work some more on his story for the Voice on the breakup (sniff) of his old basketball (snarf) game (blow nose).

The Plotzers and the Caribbeans play a three game series tonight, ON TV, and Plotnik doesn't even care. Jeez, how bad is that?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

So She's Your Sister, Dude! Kiss Her! You're on TV!

Everybody took this one...

...but it appears only Plotnik took this one.

The Tommy Lasorda Linguini with Cha Cha Bowl Society had a great time Tuesday night at the Ballpark with Too Many Initials. The game itself was going great until the Ninth Inning, but even though the (temporarily) good guys lost, Plotnik felt renewed to realize he still despises Babby Bonds and his total disregard for his team. "Good riddance to Bad Babby," says Plottie and he didn't hear anyone disagreeing.

Blogmaid looked great and it is probably due to all the gushing love in her heart for the good fortune of various members of her family. The Great Mushnik ate that whole Polish Dog by herself as did Snowglobe Sal, even as they saw Notthat and Plotnik drooling shamelessly. As you can see in the next-to-above picture, some people approach a hot dog with a great deal of relish.

There was a marvellous heckler somewhere in back of the five. She was in her cups, which isn't easy to do on watered-down $7 beer, but -- trust me on this one. She would yell "Pete Happy! You're My Man!" as Pedro Feliz launched a promising fly ball to center, but as soon as the ball was caught she would yell: "You're an A__H___!"

There was one sickly looking attempt at getting a wave started, and it symbolized the entire Plotzer and Caribbeans season. Get excited at the start. Try to make other people excited too. Show a bit of promise early. Pick up speed! Then, as soon as it matters, poop out with all four tires punctured.

And how about that guy who refused to kiss his sister when they flashed their two faces on the JumboTron? I mean, how tacky is that? So she's your sister, Dude, you're on TV! Pucker up!

Hope to do it again next season, when it's for all the marbles. Hope there are marbles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

32 Yesterday, 37 Today

Thirty two years ago yesterday, the man on the bottom was born, and his parents brought him home to their farm in Cat's Whiskers, PA. A few weeks later, his grandparents Mummy and Chiefie Plotnik arrived to see him, and Chiefie took this picture and the one that follows. In those days Baby Dan's name was Baby Dan, not Baby I's father.

One day after Baby Dan was born, but five years earlier, The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik had gotten married, in a ceremony so low-key they don't even have a wedding photo album. Thirty seven years have passed since Plotnik's nervousness caused him to shrink and disappear from the few wedding photos that are in existence -- you see a beautiful bride in a white dress she has made, and she is standing next to the other white suit that she has made, except there is no groom in it. He has melted. You know he's got to be in there somewhere because the suit is standing up, but where has he gone?

By the time Baby Dan was born, Plot and Duck had lived in a teensy apartment that was usually hot and an old machine shop with one heater in the middle that was always cold. Both these abodes had been in the Big Shmapple, but now they had packed up and moved to Pennsylvania, to the broken-down farm and farmhouse they and their friends had renovated. On the back of the picture above, Mummy Plotnik has written: "Yes -- we're happy! 10-13-75."

Getting married to Barbara Louise Jenkins was the smartest thing The Great Plotnik every did. He knew it then and he still knows it now. They've been to a lot of beautiful places, but Assos, Turkey, may be the most beautiful of all. So far, that is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Free the Milton One!

The Great Plotnik is looking forward to seeing his fellow baseball-lover friends this evening at Braindead Stadium. Plottie plans to wear his Free The Milton One! t-shirt.

Everyone had hoped this game would mean something. Anything. But nope. No matter how you slice it, the good guys finish 4th and the next-to-good guys finish 5th and the other three pisspoor miscreant teams end up one-two-three. Jeez. Even The Calamari Rockheads are going to finish ahead of the Plotzers and Caribbeans. This is a revolting development. Ms. Domin-Nik, if you're reading, just pretend we're talking about photography.

Free The Milton One! -- you've got to be a baseball fan to love the Milton Bradley saga. Note that in the picture above he is wearing a Cleveland Indians uniform. He is young and a switch hitting power hitter, the rarest of the rare player that every team covets, but...he's got this temper, see. It got him run out of Cleveland and traded to the Dodgers, and then traded to the Oakland A's, and then traded to the Saint Patooty Piffles, where the other day he got tackled by his own manager to keep Milton from attacking an umpire. In the collision, Bradley tore up his knee and is out until next summer, but it will probably be with yet another team.

Bradley says the umpire baited him by swearing at him. Umpires are scum, Milt. Walk away, Rene. Turn around and walk back to the bench, Johnny. Nope. Not Milton Bradley.

What a pity -- he could be such a beautiful ballplayer, but not until he's free from his demons. Free the Milton One!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Guess Who Is Standing Up? (and an Update to the GP 5000 Baby Talk Filter)

Dat would be widdle Isabewwy, on her footies all by hewsewf! Pwotnik is sooooo (GP 5000 Baby Talk Filter engaged)...

Hey! Why'd youu do dat? Pwotnik was hardwee even ooopsie pooopsing and Baby Isabewwy is standing upppsky cutesky pooopsky (GP 5000 Baby Talk Filter Update Installed.)(GP 5000 Baby Talk Filter New Hyper Mode Launched.)(Silence Achieved.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Anybody Need Native Irises?

There's nothing like working in the garden to make The Great Plotnik feel good. The native irises multiplied so heavily last year that they've all had to be dug up to be divided, pushed back a few feet and replanted. Anyone need a hundred or so very healthy native irises?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday Second Post

It's a melancholy day for TGP. For a few people in his family, back in Stiletto City, this is a sanctified day, a holiday of reflection. But Plotnikkies don't atone, we figure we're doing about the best we can, most of the time, and let it go at that. Still, The Great Plotnik lives far away from his family and there are times when he thinks about all that means.

Also, The Great Ducknik is upstairs painting while listening to Nora Jones. That music could depress Abbot and Costello.

Also, it's raining.

Also, Plottie is writing a story for the Snowy Valley Voice about his old, now deceased Saturday basketball game and that's gotten him nostalgic for all the abuse he used to take there. Nobody has called him a N_____ for a long time.

At the new basketball game on Sunday, nobody ever insults anybody. Nobody threatens to go get their gun out of the car. It's not nearly as much fun.

Also, he's hungry and he's already eaten two bagels with cream cheese, tomato and onion and could easily just go up there, rip open the bag and inhale the last three in one gulp, but he is displaying will power.

Also, baseball season is over and the basketball season looks just as bad and Plotnik doesn't give a shit about football.

Did he mention that his daughter lives 2,922 miles away? Did he mention that Mapquest gives driving directions from Saint Plotniko to The Big Shmapple which includes entries like this:

8) Merge onto I-80 E via EXIT 304 toward CHEYENNE (Passing through WYOMING and NEBRASKA- then crossing into IOWA). 1054.6 miles.

Did he mention that his son, daughter in law and granddaughter, plus his mother, who will be religious for the next two days, but thankfully only two, live exactly 371 miles away, five and a half hours by car with no traffic? PD, 5H and Blogmaid, beware: they grow up, see.

Did he mention the arthritis, or whatever it is, in his middle finger on his right hand, which seems appropriate to his darkening mood?

Did he also mention that he understands how blessed his life has been up to here, and therefore even Nora Jones should not have any effect whatsoever on his generalized demeanor?

Oooh, Duck's done painting. Nora Jones stopped singing. There are many burritos waiting on Mission Street. The sun's coming out. Watch the corners of Plotnik's mouth turn upwards.

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. For Three Pictures, Plotnik Shuts Up Entirely.

(photos by TGBZWZ)

Friday, September 21, 2007


The Great Plotnik was standing naked in his old backyard in Stiletto City, except for his sandals in which he had just stepped in cat poop. Duck came outside to tell him someone he had been expecting was at the door, and there Plotnik was, naked except for poopy sandals. The person at the door's name was Heath. Then Plotnik woke up.

Jeez Leweez, will somebody please explain this to Plotnik? Who is Heath? Plot gets the poopy sandals part -- that happened to him this week in his own garden -- though he doesn't own a cat, all his neighbors do and it's treacherous out there sometimes. But why Stiletto City? Why was Heath, whoever he is, coming to the door and why wasn't Plottie wearing any clothes?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Happy Market Day

Vendors at the Farmer's Market at City Hall on Wednesday never look all that happy. It's a very long day, where the gig is the easy part. The hard part is loading up at the farm, driving to the job, setting up at the job and then repeating the whole thing in reverse afterwards. A musician is very familiar with this program. So it was nice to see someone yesterday who was selling tomatoes with a sense of humor.

If the red peppers are this thick and tasty, it must be September. The Great Plotnik roasted, peeled and marinated these French-style in garlic, salt, red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Tomatoes are at their peak now, though they're still expensive. The Plotniks have been eating their own Sungolds and Red Pear tomatoes, but those are tiny. He bought larger ones yesterday and cut chives up on top.

Then, there's the New York Cut steak. When Shmell Market has sold out to Whole Food or Real Food or whatever Yuppie Cashbox of Overpriced Food it is destined to become, there won't be any more great late afternoon bargains on really good beef. All the steaks will be from Spare Us Ranch and will start at $20 a pound and The Great Plotnik will be stuck with Safeway.

Mmmmmm, it was good in a pepper and garlic rub. Baked potatoes too. That's probably why the photos are out of focus: too much good food.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The $135 Million Portrait

Last Monday, The Greats Plotnik and Ducknik got off the bus on Fifth Avenue in The Big Shmapple and attempted to go into the Met. (That's Metropolitan Museum of Art, not Shea Stadium, where the Mets play.) But the Met is closed on Mondays, which forced Plottie to sit down on the huge concrete stairs and take out his guidebook. (There were more people sitting on the stairs in front of the Met when it was closed than in any museum in Saint Plotniko when it is open.) In his "Seven Walks in New York City" guide he noticed another, far smaller museum a few blocks up the street. It is called the Neue Museum and features the works of German and Austrian painters, sculptors and other artists from the golden age in Vienna, circa 1880-1920.

Flashback: when the Plotniks were in Vienna a few years ago they happened upon the fabulous Museum of the City of Vienna, in which practically the entire history of Europe is chronicled in its art collection. There, they fell in love with Gustav Klimt. Duck bought a print of a Klimt (which does NOT rhyme, dammit). It hangs today above her desk.

The Neue Museum is housed in an aristocratic Fifth Avenue brownstone with polished floors and winding stair railings, crystal chandeliers and more marble than the top of Dick Cheney's head. You walk up a grand staircase to get to the collection, which begins on the second floor. The very first painting you see upon entering is this Klimt. It is entitled "Portrait of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer."

The photo doesn't do it justice -- it's very large, a combination of paint and gilt, etching and portraiture. It's modernist and very cool. The whole museum is cool. It is startling to realize what the Viennese had going on at the turn of the 20th century -- in all the arts, including music -- it was simply the most creative and innovate cultural center on the planet. Plus all that pastry.

Afterwards, the Plotniks had dinner with friends who asked: "Did you see the $135 million Klimt?"

"Say what?" asked Plotnik.

Turns out that the Neue Gallery is run on money from the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune. Two interesting things: Estee Lauder's real name was Esther Mintz and she was from Corona, Queens, NY. And her son, Ronald Lauder, founded the museum and recently paid, yup, $135 Million for the Klimt that hangs at the entrance to the gallery, the painting to which the Plotniks' reaction was: "Cool."

Cool? Cool? For $135 million? Do you realize what $135 million can buy in today's world? Well, for God's sake, a home run hitting third baseman and a stud left handed pitcher, that's what, and now that the Plotzers are done for the year The Great Plotnik is angry that Ronald Lauder spent his money so frivolously.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pizza as the Eyes Open

Sorry, Alan, I know it's awhile 'til lunch, but this morning The Great Plotnik opened his eyes and immediately thought about pizza. First, he thought about his favorite pizza in the world, the margherita con salsiccia at Pazzia. Jeez, what a nice picture to wake up to.

Then this beauty from Fornino's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY popped before him.

Though delicious looking, the three Plotniks all made the tactical error of ordering the Al Roker Speical, but only because it came with too many THINGS on it. It was really tasty, but would have been better without the roasted peppers.

Next, he thought about Delfina's Pizzeria on 18th Street in SP, which has very good, thin-crust Not Quite Hippie Pizza. Hippie Pizza would have goat cheese and tofupperoni, but Delfina's doesn't go that far. It's not Pazzia, but it's delicious.

Casabianca Pizza Pie makes the best pizza Plotnik knows about in Stiletto City, especially if you order the Extra Large with Roasted Garlic, take it like a man and accept the extreme heartburn that hits like Vladimir Guerrero and arrives in two hours sharp. In fact, Casabianca's Roasted Garlic Pizza is so pungent that Blogger insists on running a small-sized photo only, out of respect to neighboring blogs.

Next, Plotnik thought about Sal and Carmine's on 102nd and Broadway in NYC, though he decided to put up another photo of Pazzia's instead, because now he can't get it out of his mind. Sal and Carmine's was reputed to be one of the best in the Shmapple, by a source-to-be-unnamed-Kevin, but it was unbelievably salty, almost -- but not quite -- too salty to swallow. But by the end of the third large slice it was getting a lot better.

This started out to be an observation that everybody thinks their own local pizza parlor is the best. Why is that? They're mostly the same: delicious. Oh, almost forgot: Chicago Style. Go Cubbies!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The September Garden

Mid-September always brings a combination plate to the Saint Plotniko gardener. On one hand you have plants in full bloom, such as the fuschia above and these Naked Ladies.

The Night Blooming Jasmine usually blooms earlier in the summer, but this year has been delayed, even though the weather has been far warmer than usual. But now it's here, and the Rear Acreage at the Meatball Kitchen smells better than chili dog cologne. A few Sungold tomatoes are still hanging over the deck railing.

The green pippins are having their early drop earlier than usual this year -- normally the bulk of the crop is ready for Thanksgiving apple pies, if you wanted to make apple pies out of apples with so little juice. They're really no good for anything but applesauce, but you have to fight the squirrels and other rodents for the fruit, and then cut out all the teeth marks.

It's also the time of year when plants that have been in full production since Spring begin to go to seed, like these onions.

Shiso is at the end of its run...too bad we never figured out how to use any...

And so is parsley.

The arugula already went to seed when the weather got hot and is now sprouting again in the VAA (Vast Arugula Acreage).

Basil is still in great shape.

The Crown of Thorns plants that were given to the Plotniks in LA in the Spring are now flowering in red, yellow and these two that seem to be both.

It's not the East, where one day everything is looking great and then you have one hard frost and the next morning everything looks like brown cheese. The West is more subtle. Saint Plotniko usually has its Indian Summer in October, the hottest weather of the year, but this year has been so strange. We may have used up all our available hot days already. In the meantime, The Great Plotnik plants winter crops in a few weeks, if there is no tsunami.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Great Chicken Wing

Although many of the rites of the Plotnikkie religion are, you know, like, Top Secret, The Great Plotnik and The Great BeezieWeezie feel it is important to demonstrate the proper steps to the Plotnikkie Religion's Offical Dance: The Great Chicken Wing. The Great Chicken Wing is performed at the end of all social functions where music is involved, or during buffets. At some point it is imperative that both C-Wingers summon their Inner Rooster by closing their eyes and shrieking "Cluck Cluck Cluck."

The Great Plotnik and Great Ducknik took a walking tour of the historical seaport in Ballamer. Did you know Nancy Pelosi is from Ballamer and that her family, the D'Alesandros, has controlled all politics in Ballamer's Little Italy for generations?

Here is the house where she grew up. Her room was on the third floor.

There was a lot of great food consumed in PMS (Politicos Mostly Squabbling -- our nation's capital), in Ballamer and in The Shmapple, such as this curried carrot soup in PMS...

...these sausages on Mulberry Street in the Big Shmapple...

these mussels, being eaten by DC Niecie...

...and this scrumptious pizza in Brooklyn.

Here are a few wedding photos -- note the placement of the groom's hand in the first photo.

BZ and Pops stare at the Manhattan skyline.

And BZ enjoys her mom. What a great trip.