The Great Plotnik

Friday, November 30, 2007

Uncle Bob's in Town

In the days when The Great Plotnik looked like the fellow on the right with the hat and the bodacious stache, the woman in the middle was the finest musician he had ever met and the fellow on the left was his best friend. When Plot met Jon he also met Jon's Uncle Bob who became Plottie's first songwriter mentor. Bob had a fine career as a lyricist, but he really scored when he married Ducknik's friend in The Big Shmapple.

Now Bob and Janet have come to San Jose to visit and to care for Janet's aging father. So tonight Plottie and Duck get to catch up with Uncle Bob and Janet and they're really looking forward to it. Anybody know a decent, relatively quiet restaurant in Cupertino or...that other town that's next to Cupertino and looks just like it? Mountain View maybe?

By the way, when people tell you that opposites attract, they should look in the dictionary to see if Bob and Janet have their picture posted. Brash New York Jew, son of socialists, friend of Plot, insists that he be set up with urbane Texas daughter of Evangelicals, friend of Duck. It'll never work, Plot tells Duck and Duck tells both Bob and Janet, but they insist on meeting. The night they meet, at Second Avenue Deli, the atmosphere between them is so hot they are burning the crust off the pastrami. It probably still is. News at 11.

That restaurant?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Floors (Saga Continues)

The floors, oh, the floors. Well, they aren't even close to being done and maybe won't be until after Kissmas. When Duck and Plot returned on Tuesday from Stiletto City they started to add the second coat of polyurethane, only to discover the first one still hadn't cured, after 10 days, even though it was supposed to cure in two to four hours. An emergency phone call to J-Whacky confirmed their worst fears. Now they must either wait until January or take a chance with adding more bad material on top of the older bad material.

Yes, it's a small nightmare, but so far only a small one. True, the dining table is still upside down in the Billiard Academy but here's still the Grand Parlor to eat in and the bbq to cook emergency rations.

It's a good thing no one is coming for Kissmas this year...WAIT! THEY'RE ALL COMING! Even Mischief!

But that's all good. People will just have to take their shoes off and make do with bad looking floors. But, hey. World Headquarters is 115 years old. It deserves some tender loving care by rank amateurs who obviously had no idea what they were doing even though they'd done the same job half a dozen times.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving in Stiletto City

In the end, Thanksgiving maybe wasn't the usual Big Hoot that it has been in the past, but it wasn't Baby I's fault. She swigged her beer along with Auntie BZ.

Everybody had a touch of stomach yoyo and that makes everything a lot less fun. Didn't seem to bother the family's five 'little girls,' who aren't very little anymore, when they posed after dinner. BZ's on the right.

Like she does every year, the Little Bear cried when she gave her toast, and, as always, she set a beautiful Thanksgiving table(s). No one can ever imagine being anywhere else for Thanksgiving.

But so much of everyone's energy went into trying to buy this house that Baby I and BZ are walking in front of.

It is a very beautiful and stately 1901 Victorian home, in the West Adams district of Stiletto City, with all the appointments that wealthy peoples' houses came with in those days. Best of all, it has barely been touched since then and never renovated, so all that charm is still there. The problem is that PD and 5H were not able to buy it -- or at least, they haven't been able to yet. Someone else got first call and is making up his/her mind right now.

The neighborhood is different -- you're not going to walk to the corner for a latte or a microbrew. But it's 20 minutes closer to work, each way, every day. It's really cool. There's still a chance. Maybe.

Plottie and PD took a bike ride on Saturday, along the recently opened bike trail which winds along the LA River. The kind of graffiti that is real art decorates the banks on the far side.

Do you think all Thai food is delicious? Don't EVER try Thai pickled olives. Bad bad bad bad bad.

Before he got sick, Plottie was feeling pretty good with a knife in his hand.

Mummy P was in fine form too.

Best of all, Vash-nik and Baby Isabella have definitely bonded. They hung out together and Vashie treated Baby I like the royalty she already thinks she is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dorothy quotes Plotnik

Dorothy wakes up in her own bed after the terrible storm and all the craziness and she says, quoting the Great Plotnik: "It's good to be home. It's good to be home." Pictures tomorrow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Real Estate is Real Life

Money talks in real estate deals, as it should, so as of this moment The Great PunkyDunky family does not own a new 107-year-old home. All the Plots have some kind of cold or sore throat or headache or sour stomach, but it's probably a function of too little sleep and too much angst. Homeowners understand the slog of trying to buy your first home, where everyone is lying and nobody will tell you what you need to know and however much money you've cobbled together you are always $50,000 short. Once you learn it, you expect it, but until then it's personal.

Duck stayed with the PDs last night so she could babysit Baby I this morning when both PD and 5H had to leave for work early. BZ and TGP just took the metro and a city bus down to Baby I's house, an hour or so ride in total from Mummy Plotnik's. Baby I is a little sick too -- not so much energy as yesterday.

Tomorrow BZ and the Plots return home -- oh God, the floors.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Aphorism on the Bathroom Wall

Uh oh...everybody ate Thai food last night and everybody feels a little punk today. The scary little pinpoint of tightness in the belly, the eyes closing when the tummy rumbles a may have been the Coconut Soup of Death...hopefully not, man oh man, hopefully not.

It doesn't help that nobody is sleeping, worrying about either the real estate purchase or the non-real estate purchase, and spending too much or not being able to spend enough, and where do you put the other bathroom and isn't it a shame about the gang eruptions in the old hood and why in the world would anyone want to live in this jungle anyway?

But The Great Plotnik knows enough to discount any worries he has when he doesn't feel all that great. Two nights ago the Duck was bemoaning the death of the American Middle Class. Last night she was trying to figure out where to put the new powder room in the house nobody has even bought yet.

Note on the Bathroom Wall: When God pays off your mortgage He always requires you take out a Second.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Leftovers and Kazoos

Once again, Plot got no delicious leftover turkey sandwiches because nobody offered leftover turkey to take home. The truth is Plot doesn't really like turkey all that much when it's hot, but loves it when it's cold and covered with all the other leftovers from the previous night's dinner. How can you beat a turkey, cranberry sauce, ambrosia mold, sweet potato casserole, green mystery loaf, corn bread, cold mashed potato and pistachio stuffing sandwich, plus a little mayo, on squishy white bread?

No such luck. It's Saturday and the sky is blue. BZ brought out her kazoo this morning and she and Plottie played a little blues on Mummy P's piano. She's worried about grad school applications, while the truth is all she has to do is enclose a link to her kazoo playing and every school in America would rush to sign her up and give her cash.

It's official: Screw the Stiletto City Real Estate Market. Houses do not go onto the market for sale, they are only put there to engender bidding wars. Real estate agents are scumbuckets, folks. OK, OK. SOME real estate agents CAN BE scumbuckets.

The Great PD made a scrumptious lemon pilaf last night to go with Mummy Plotnik's brisket. Cold beer. Larry David on TV. The Great Plotnik really loves brother Leon, and if anyone understands what that means, Plottie bets you love Leon too.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Beautiful Children and Their Beautiful Children

Thanksgiving was Thanksgiving, lots of family, food and fun, some basketball in the afternoon, a special video of Mummy P to watch in the evening and everything would have been fine had someone not stuck Cousin Two Names's car keys into Mummy Plotnik's bag as all the coats and purses were huddled together on a bed in the back bedroom. No one knows how the keys got there but what is known is that Cousin Two and Cousin E had to spend the night at the Hotel Schmeckl. Of course, there was all that leftover turkey there so maybe it wasn't half bad.

There was only one frightening looking person at the party last night and Plotnik only saw one more today.

Stiletto City is a place where the world's most beautiful people have come together to be in the movies for close to a century now. These people have married each other and produced even more beautiful children and their children have married other beautiful peoples' beautiful children. The gene pool has been selected for straight noses and luxurious hair. But it only works for awhile.

Because later on, after their beauty has been used up by age and hard living, nobody tells the beautiful people they're not beautiful anymore and they shouldn't keep dying their hair and botoxing their wrinkles and slamming their noses and eating organic lettuce and wearing tight t-shirts and high heels, because it's just scaring the s___ out of the rest of us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bubbles? What the ... ? Ah, Let's Go Eat Turkey

What a mess. It appears Benjamin Moore sold Plot and Duck faulty polyurethane, which means that as they were about to wrap up the Endless Floor Refinishing Project this morning, bubbles appeared on the surface.

What does this mean? The floors remain unfinished, the kitchen and dining room are still unusable and when Plot and Duck return from Glut City they will still be eating burritos and kim chee with rice and drinking bad coffee and, really, enough already of the home owner blues.

It's all just an inconvenience, not a disaster. Plot knows it. Duck knows it.

Love and a wonderful holiday to all you Plotnikkies and we'll be seeing some of you very shortly. Keep a picture in your minds of a beautiful old home built in 1901, and we're not talking about World Headquarters. We'll explain later.

Oh, and as to the picture -- Davy Blue sent this from Aspen. Plotnik suspects Photoshop, but hey.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Poor Children in China

A letter from Tyrone Nguyen Rocksemsocksem this morning reminds The Great Plotnik that when he and others in his generation (born after the Thirty Years War but before the I-Pod) were little Plotters, they were all told to clean up their plates, to eat every morsel, because little children in China were starving.

So, what the Hell. Now, look at us. China is about to be on top of the world and many of the same people who were starving then, and only managed to get enough to eat because they somehow assimilated all the mashed green beans and grotesquely putrified creamed spinach that we wouldn't touch, can eat whatever they like. And does one of them ever call or write?

Because of the Great Plotnik, our country owes $100 quadzillion dollars to China. Are the families in Guangzhou sitting down to their Sunday repasts of meat loaf and mashed potatoes today, and when little fingers don't gobble down every morsel do their parents kvetch: "Eat! Eat, Changeleh My Darling! Little children in America need new X-Boxes!"

It still amazes Plottie that the Chinese (and the Polish and the Ukrainians and the Russians and the Europeans) really wanted to eat that crap, and also that Grammy Plotnik, who couldn't read or write, somehow managed to package it all up, take it down to the post office and mail it to a family in Beijing. Hell, it wasn't even called Beijing then. How in the world did she know?

But the proof is in the pudding. Look at them, look at us. They are strong, standing straight in the air, proud to be in ascension. We are so fat they have to retrench our theme park rides. We're slovenly, pathetically stupid and hopelessly unaware of the world around us -- and it's all because of those brussels sprouts Plottie and his brother had tried to give to the dog. Damn! Even HE was in on it!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Here's what 100-year-old fir floors look like with stain on 'em, but before the protective sheen goes on.

Here's Ms. Domin-Nik and J-Wacky under the stairs at the new loft on York Street. Behind them is their realtor, Ms. Bouchet.

Before Kooza started the other night, the tiny ballerina and tinier ballerina came out on stage for a few moments.

Meanwhile, Plot and Duck saw the World Premiere of a new play Saturday night. Bob Hurwitt seemed to like it in today's Birdcage Wrap, but Plot wasn't so sure.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Time Consuming Process

This is a very time consuming process.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What a Circus!

Last night, Duck and Plot went to the Press Opening of the new Cirque du Soleil show, which is called Kooza. Go read the SF Theater Blog Review.

It's kitchen and dining room sanding, staining and refinishing time at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters. No time to talk.

Friday, November 16, 2007

One Star Review and Five Star Baby I

It took awhile to get this morning's SF Theater Blog Review posted. The Great Plotnik understands how difficult it is to mount any kind of theater production and also what courage it takes to stand up there and deliver. Still.

New Baby Isabella pictures make any day sweet. Thanks, Grandma Joy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ed, Dirk and Susie

Blog and Mr. Maid in front, The Great and Ms. Plotnik in the middle, Ms. and Mr. Pick Up Tab in the rear, plus Frank whose wife does yoga in Mexico.

One more amazing Saint Plotniko night skyline -- this one from Bernal Hill. It's been crystal clear and warm the past few nights.

A few complex days are coming up: Plot and Duck are reviewing three plays; sanding, staining and polyurethane-ing the kitchen and dining room floors; and installing a new wireless printer which will include speaking to Ed, Dirk and Susie in India two or three times each.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Beach Chalet (Beach Closed)

The Beach Chalet is another of those Saint Plotniko spots we forget about. Priceless WPA murals depicting the city's history, a fabulous low-key restaurant upstairs with gorgeous views of the ocean (and the signs that read NO SWIMMING! BEACH CLOSED DUE TO OIL SPILL!), another even vibier restaurant in the back with hiking trails into Golden Gate Park, and let's not forget really good fish and chips, not that Ms. Mush ("I'll have the burger, rare") would know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Annie is gone and it's hard to accept. It shouldn't be, because for decades she fought every imaginable kind of cancer, wrote books about surviving her ordeals, gave speeches, had university buildings dedicated to her and empowered thousands of people to fight on against long odds. Annie should have died in the 1980s, for sure in the 1990s, and definitely in 2001 and 2003 and 2005. She couldn't have had many original parts left but nothing ever slowed her down. And she never stopped being fun to be around.

When Duck and Plottie went East in 2006 to hear her speak, it was hard to find a free moment to talk to her. She was surrounded by admirers, mostly women, who had read her books and heard her speak and felt that together with Annie they could survive anything. They lined up for over an hour to get her to sign a copy of her book, to whisper something to her, to shake her hand. She was a star. She should have had background singers.

This morning, Plottie is waiting for a medical professional to arrive at his house to run him through various tests because he is taking out a life insurance policy. There is nothing wrong, but Plotnik hates these kinds of things and he's been avoiding it for years. Before they give you the policy, they send over Mr. Lin at 9:45.

So Plot is thinking about Annie, so he won't go through his usual angst over having to donate a few Great Plotfluids. It's working, because he keeps laughing, when he thinks about Annie painting 'Fowl Manors' on their barn, all these years ago, or the sign "Cut Here" she lettered on her abdomen before one of her many surgeries.

She was Ducknik's stepsister, you know. Duck and Annie had grown up together as children of best friends, but when Duck's mom and Annie's dad died within weeks of each other, Joe married Ruth and now the five kids were related.

The Smith family summer cottage at Sunny Point on Keuka Lake in upstate New York was the best. Annie was an artist and art teacher, and she has donated the cottage and barn to a nearby arts school to use as an arts retreat. The whole family spent wonderful times there and Annie loved the place more than anywhere in the world. It's nice to know it'll still be loved and painted in.

Look closely and you see her in front of the house. Really. She's there, right where she belongs.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Music Room

The Great Plotnik has finally been won over to the view of The Great Ducknik, something that probably happens more frequently than he is aware. So the new project has begun.

Faithful Plotnikkies must understand that the pool table was part of the negotiation process when the Plotniks pulled up stakes in Stiletto City and moved to Saint Plotniko. Plotnik's hissy fit bore fruit, as he insisted that the two rooms that existed where one is now should be combined so that he could have the pool table he had always wanted whah whah, or else he wasn't moving whah whah and they weren't buying the stupid house whah whah.

There have been several times in Plotnik's life where he ought just to be damned glad that Ducknik has the ability to forgive and forget.

No...not forget. There have been digs. There have been a few...thousand million digs about how much more usable a large living room would be if a BLINKYBLINKY POOL TABLE didn't sit in the middle of it, or we could actually have a party some day if the BLINKYBLINKY POOL TABLE wasn't there or WHO ACTUALLY BLINKY PLAYS BLINKY POOL ANYMORE?

Plotnik has to admit that for the last one, Ducknik is right. Plot doesn't. The kids don't live here anymore and when they do come home there are more important things to do. The only time the cover comes off the pool table is at the Snowy Valley Voice Summer Party. And the ten minutes a week when Plottie is waiting for the water to boil in the kitchen so he runs in, grabs his cue, tosses the balls out of the pockets and runs the table. He is REALLY good, when no one is there to verify.

Not that the pool table doesn't get used for other things besides pool, such as a nice spot for the Turkish carpet you see on it now, or a perfect spot to drop the mail and your house keys when you come in the house. Coats, too. Lots of coats fit on top. Umbrellas.

But it's hard to justify an enormous piece of furniture that is serving as a caddy for house keys. And this is a musician's house. It's time to have a real music room. So the process has begun. It is The Great Plotnik's experience that every house project ends up as three projects. Right now, Ducknik and Plotnik are moving around graph paper representations of pianos and chairs and sofas and tables.

Still, The Great Plotnik World Headquarters, Meatball Kitchen and Billiard Room has seen some grand times on this all-ages piece of fun-iture. If you want to get your licks in, you probably shouldn't wait too long.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

From Under the Rock

Dance-nik's right -- there's nothing like finishing that first draft of your new poem, song, story. It lets you know you're still heading up the right road, the road you didn't exactly choose for yourself, but here you are.

Writers don't ever know for sure, until they read it or play it or sing it for an audience, and they almost never can tell good from great. But when Plotnik turns over the right rock and the perfect rhyme jumps up and then falls under his fingers -- well, that's heaven.

Yesterday, Plot was finishing a story in which prayer figures at the end, kind of. The Great Plotnik has never been a very good prayer-er. But he has thought about it, wondered just what he would say to, you know, Him or Her, if he got the chance and they only gave him a few seconds, and he only could say one thing:

"There is no flash of light, but the insight comes to me as clearly as if I plucked it from a burning bush: there are a thousand religions in the world and none of the words matter, none of the prayers matter, none of the methods matter, the buildings, the shrines, the holy books written backwards, frontwards, upside down, the bending, the flailing, the flagellating, the pork or the no pork or the boxes on the head or the bonfires, or the cows that are sacred or the cows your grandmother turns into sauerbraten. None of it. There is only one thing every soul on Earth wants:

'JUST BE THERE, LORD.' The rest is all gravy."

OK, so he might change his mind tomorrow, but right now it feels pretty good, every bit as good as those fetuccini in chive oil and stir fried green beans from last night's feast.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Very Pretty View, With One Problem

USC is playing Cal Shmerkely in football today, which means Jack Heather is in town. Jack is probably a normal person in all other ways, but he absolutely worships USC football. Compared to Jack Heather's 10+, Plotnik's Plotzer obsession barely cracks a 5.

This season, USC is not so good but they're always better than Cal.

Plot and Duck took Jack to Pazzia for dinner on Thursday night and afterwards drove over to Treasure Island for a look at the skyline. The air was crisp and it could not have been more beautiful, except for the smell. A Korean freighter collided with the Bay Bridge Thursday morning in the fog and there is a strong smell of fuel oil in the bay. It's everywhere. Even the pretty lights can't cancel out all the sea birds who are bound to struggle now.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Daiko, Downtown and Norton Simon

When The Great PunkyDunky and The Great FiveHead started taking Plot and Duck to Daikokuya, in the Little Tokyo section of Stiletto City, it was much, much larger. That is, there was always room at most of the eight four-person booths and at the counter, so you could walk in, grab a table and sit down. Now it's a tiny place, due to the crowds of hipsters, Asian and Otherwise, who swarm in to get a seat and if you only wait an hour you're lucky. Might have something to do with the phenomenally good and beautifully inexpensive ramen, with the tastiest broth Plotnik has ever consumed, served in a bowl the size of Luxembourg. Baby I likes the plastic spoons.

Flying into Stiletto City last weekend, the weather was clear over downtown. After flying back to town for forty years, Plotnik is still astonished at the size of the place.

When Plot was a child, none of these large downtown buildings existed, only the City Hall, which is a block or two to the right off the page, and, of course, Grampy Plotnik's office, the bus station and Clifton's Cafeteria.

See the building in the center of the picture below, turned 45 degrees to the left? That's where The Great Ducknik toiled all the years the Plotniks lived in Stiletto City. The family lived then, and the PunkyDunkies live now, just off the picture to the upper left.

Visitors to S.C. should make it a point to head out to Pasadena to see the Norton Simon Museum. Mush, it's too bad you moved long before they finished it -- it's on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado, where the old Contemporary Art Museum used to be. What a collection. What a sculpture garden. Henry Moore's King and Queen, made out of cast bronze, stopped Plottie in his tracks and made him look at it over and over and over. Mummy P. enjoyed the two totems on the other side of the lake.

They won't let you take photos inside, though the guards LOVE IT when you draw within six inches of a sculpture or a painting, so they can say EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME! Still, even these officious boobs cannot diminish the beauty of this place.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rocky, Tenley and Almond Croissants

It was Carbo Crackhouse time again this morning at Tartine. Famous Children's Book Author Nguyen Tyrone Rocky Rodrigzcyski brought her friend Tenley. See the blonde? Hear her speak fluent Vietnamese?

The Great Ducknik and The Great Plotnik wolfed down almond croissants, ai yai yai they just keep getting better.

Meanwhile, N.T.R. Rodrigzcyski is signing books and participating in a children's book panel this weekend at the Amon Carter Museum in Forth Worth. She has signed 300 copies of "Through Georgia's Eyes" to give away (courtesy Target) and is very excited at the prospect of talking to kids about Georgia O'Keefe. What she SHOULD try to explain is how she can order hot chocolate with non-fat milk plus two scoops of whipped cream? With a straight face, we mean.