The Great Plotnik

Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day 2008

It's Opening Day! Finally! Every baseball fan in America still believes his or his team can win the pennant this year. Another month and that dream will be shattered for most of us, but for now...anything is possible.

Plotnik dreamed last night that he was playing right field, and that he was left handed. (Plotnik never played right field and he is not left handed.) A batter hit a ground ball into the outfield. Plotnik charged it, and with his left hand threw the runner out at second base. He then trotted nonchalantly back to his fielding position.

The dream continued. The next batter was Steve Sax (an old Plotzer who has been retired for at least 15 years. Steve Sax hit a screaming line drive out to right field and Plotnik discovered he wasn't wearing his glasses, so he couldn't see the ball very well. He leaped out of its way as it whizzed by him.

Here's the crazy thing. Obviously, the opening of baseball season brought back to Plotnik a fear he hadn't had since tenth grade, which was before he had gotten his glasses. He didn't know then that he couldn't see very well, but he did know that when he was playing the outfield, and a ball would be hit in his direction, it was always very hard to find it and react to it. This is why Plotnik didn't want to play the outfield on his High School team, but the coach put all the marginal players into the outfield.

Trust Plottie when he says he hasn't thought about that uncomfortable feeling, as he squinted towards the infield trying to figure out which blur was the real one, for one minute of those 47 years that have passed since then. Not once. And yet -- there he was, last night, back on the myopic field of bad dreams.

That baseball season, in the tenth grade, was when Mummy Plotnik took Plottie, complaining all the while, to the eye doctor and got him fitted for his first pair of glasses. He immediately discovered a miracle: a baseball has red stitches around it.

The next day, the first time he batted in batting practice, now wearing his new glasses, he cracked the first pitch far over the center fielder's head. He couldn't believe how easy it had been to hit the ball. He had never realized before that he couldn't see, or, truer yet, that other people could see better than he could. Wow. And 47 years later he dreamed about it again -- but not the part about seeing so much better but the part about being half-blind on a baseball field as a ball is zooming in your direction.

For those baseball fans who are still reading, look at the lineup on the scoreboard: this was the Plotzer lineup in September, 2006. Not many of those guys are still on the team or in the lineup today: only Furcal, Kent, Martin and Penny. Go Plotzers!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Beautiful Sunday

One thing Plotnik hasn't figured out yet is why on certain Sundays his legs feel great, he's got tons of wind, he can run up and down the basketball court with abandon, he can cut in either direction, he can even get some air on his jump shot, be the bothersome gnat he used to be on defense and play like he's twenty years younger. He never knows in advance which day will be like that. Today was one of those days.

The opposite can be true too -- knees ache, trip and fall over, ball bounces off hands out of bounds, walk instead of run, embarrass himself.

But today Plot had a great team and they won every game. What this means is four full court games in a row without a break, and when that happens you always feel good. Plot even got in a shouting match with one of the other guys, which is a sign of General Healthy Feistiness.

Kansas is going to beat Davidson and then North Carolina, and UCLA is going to beat Memphis, and that means NotThat Lucas plays The Great Plotnik for the National Championship. Where are we going to watch the game, Mr. That?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

NO Meta Blogging Here, and All the Elements to a Great Mexican Song

The Great Plotnik enjoyed "The Government Inspector" at A.C.T. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review right here but Plotnik isn't saying anything else about it, because that would be meta-blogging.

Meanwhile, after the funeral yesterday, Plotnik and Ducknik did what everybody does after going to funerals. They hurried home, changed their clothes, went and got new passport photos taken, then went to Los Jarritos for an enormous Mexican lunch.

One of the great things about Los Jarritos is there are always guitar players in Mexican hats who stroll in off the street to play a few numbers and then pass the hat in hopes of tips.

The flag on the guy on the right's guitar seems to indicate that he, at least, was from Nicaragua, or that he bought his guitar from a guy who was from Nicaragua; nonetheless the song they sang had every single element germane to a Mexican song:

Here I am, Tears In My Eyes
I Miss the Love of My Life Who is Still Back in our Village
I am So Poor and She is so Rich
I Work So Hard because my Life is so Awful
Someday I Will Come Back, Bags Full of Gold.
She'll Still Be There, Or Else She'll Have Died.

Godalmighty I am drunk!
Godalmighty I am drunk!
I am so drunk I am happy!
Although I am crying, I am happy!
I made some money this week but spent it on tequila!
Godalmighty I am drunk!
Woooo Hoooo!

The second verse usually has something to do with Jesus, or The Blessed Virgin, or both.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oh, Crap. And Amen.

It's been decades since Plotnik went to a Catholic funeral, and they aren't as...Latin as they used to be. It probably has something to do with the kind of parish -- St. Paul's is gloriously beautiful inside, with brilliant stained glass and well-worn pews, but it doesn't reek with incense, and the priest does not seem the least bit condescending when he says "If you're Catholic you may kneel, if you are not Catholic you may sit down now."

In the end, of course, funerals are funerals. Their purpose is to give some kind of underpinning to the one major flaw that has been built into the living process, the flaw we all attempt to deny. Which religion is hosting the event is far less relevant than the universal message, which is: "Oh, Crap."

It was nice to be able to walk to the church and talk with neighbors outside. You'd be seeing a photo right now of Dana and Leslie who drove in from Sonoma, except that Ducknik quacked loudly at Plotnik when she saw he was about to take his camera to a funeral. She was right, of course. The Blogger sometimes forgets.

There weren't a lot of funny stories. No one got up to say "I remember the night that Aunt Pat washed the dog." Nobody tried to collect pledges for the new building fund. What we got for Pat Allgood's funeral was liturgy, a soprano with a very beautiful voice, a piano that rang to the rafters, a priest whose right knee seemed to trouble him every time he bent to kneel, but who had obviously known Pat for many years. That's one advantage of going to Mass every Sunday of your life -- the priest can speak about you with knowledge and feeling.

But what can he say? Oh, Crap. And Amen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lead Sheets and Procedures

This is what chord charts look like when Plotnik draws them up by hand. They are basically impossible to read, which is why there is software in the world. When the computer does it, the charts look like this:

The problem is that whenever you have key and tempo changes, the software becomes increasingly difficult or impossible to use, especially if you need to shorten a measure. No doubt, more advanced software renders the process simple; FREE software, on the other hand, which is the software-of-choice for 99% of us, makes it necessary to write more problematic song charts out by hand.

Note the various scratch outs -- those are because the software for blank sheet music won't print without the whole note rests. Plotnik COULD just buy blank sheet music from the Blank Sheet Music Store. He could.

Partner Dave is in Nashville as we speak, re-recording and reuniting with a few of the old guys from the old days. The operative word here is 'old.' This process was no fun then, and then it got to be some fun, and now, well, Dave seems to like it.

He phoned Plotnik this morning during Plottie's class and movie at Kaiser for a routine procedure he needs to do in a few months. You don't just do the procedure anymore, first you have to sit around a square table with a dozen other sorry-ass people who would rather be anywhere else on the planet but inside this sorry-ass room, while the nurse explains what they're planning to do with your sorry ass.

One person muttered to himself: "They're gonna put that thing where?"

Plot did not take the call, though the thought occurred to him that it would have been quite humorous to chatter, loudly, to David about which arcane reverb to use on which arcane vocal part, while a dozen people were trying desperately to block out the droning nurse and avoid staring at the grisly movie.

Which reminds Plotnik that once he had to take another of these classes, about weight management. This was because Doctor I Dunno Wadda YOU Think? wanted Plot to understand some facts about cholesterol. Sitting around that table were a dozen other people, every one of them at least 100 pounds overweight. The doctor droned on about how you should watch your diet.

Then one guy raised his hand and said: "How many donuts SHOULD I eat for breakast, then?"

These are the people who live to be 100 years old and die playing tennis while eating cheeseburgers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Very Nice Lady is Gone

The Plotniks' neighbor Pat Allgood died this morning. When they couldn't do anything more for her, the hospital had asked whether she'd like to stay in the hospital or go to a hospice or go home, and she said she wanted to go home.

So for the last week, she's been lying in the bedroom in their house, the house they moved into when they got married in 1953. Ray has been sitting in his easy chair in the living room, trying to pay attention as his and Pat's four girls have been taking care of all the business. Ducknik baked them a cake on Sunday and Plot and she took it over. But Pat had stopped eating anything but morphine five days ago, so it had to come soon, and it did.

Ray called Plotnik this morning and left a message that just said "This is Ray..." and ended up in sobbing and a hang-up. So Plot and Duck hurried over.

Pat and Ray are 10 years older than Plot and Duck, and they come from an earlier generation, from the Irish working class who moved in after the original Germans had moved away. Now, one by one, they are leaving too, and the new immigrants are all mixed up. Usually at least one works in Silicon Valley.

As long as there are any of these people still living here, Plot and Duck won't be the "old man and woman who live in that house with the iron fence." They can pretend to be young for a little while longer.

In the fourteen years the Plotniks lived in World Headquarters, Plot never saw Pat without a smile, and she asked about Isabella every time Plot saw her. Those are nice memories.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

.Wav Files and Recording Studios

Plotnik spent the morning recording voice-overs for The Perfect Pitch. Here's how it works. His partner and the engineer are in the recording studio in Denver and when they need something they email Plotnik a .wav file of the track Plottie is to use as a background to record over. Plotnik listens to the music on headphones and records his part into his digital recorder. He is listening to the background track so his rhythm is the same as the track's. When he's done recording, he makes another .wav file of the new recording, going from his digital recorder into his computer, and then emails the new and the old back to Denver and they plug it into the software and then patch it into the show.

What happened to the misery of recording studios? Where are the drummers who have to go out for a cigarette and then come back four hours later? What about the pleasure of doing Take Number 27 when you thought Take Number 1 was just fine? And all the time the clock is ticking and you're paying for each minute? And the smell...nervousness and exhaustion and frustration all blended together? Oh, and the Engineer just broke up with his girl friend and he stopped paying attention half an hour into the session and he's ready to start a fight on any pretense?

The new way may still seem crazy to Plotnik, but it sure beats flying to Denver.

His partner David's wife works for the airlines, so Dave can fly for free -- if. The 'if' refers to how there has to be available non-revenue space on the plane so he can fly standby. Last Sunday Dave got to LAX at 9am to fly home to Aspen. The problem was Sunday was also Easter. So he waited at the airport until finally, at 7pm, they told him the last flight was full and he'd have to come back for the 6am flight the next morning. When he got to the airport at 4:30AM Monday to catch the 6AM flight, there were 100 seats available on the plane. By 6AM there were only two left, but he did get one. He has vowed to never fly standby again on Easter, which is probably not such a bad idea.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Comedy Carrying a Knife

"I'm here at the First Congregational Church, where no one has gathered."

"We're staying on top of things, trying to get to the bottom of things."

"My father, now dead, is quite a talker."

There are a million of these. Will Eno's "Tragedy: A Tragedy," playing at Berkeley Rep, is a hoot, but it cuts pretty deeply too. You're not likely to go throw yourself under a bus as long as you keep laughing. You can read San Francisco Theater Blog's review right here. When you're done, be brave and go out and loot.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Cheery Night at the Theater

Last night, Plot and Duck saw Dennis Lehane's "Coronado" at San Francisco Playhouse. Every character is reprehensible and doomed; you can read the SF Theater Blog Review here but it won't matter because we're all going to die.

Tonight it's out to Berkeley Rep to see a comedy. DVR on the Lakers-Warriors. Mr. Notthat, we're both in the Sweet 16, though, on our part, only barely.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Eight Tulips Twinkling and Thoughts of Cat's Whiskers

The tulips all opened. Then, The Great Plotnik had a few extra tomato plants so he decided to plant one right in the pile of last year's potting soil on the ground in front of the other three: two Sungold and one Early Girl.

Upstairs there are two more Sungolds and one Siberian variety called "Grigory's Altar." Then, in the pot over by the arugula patch there are two Sweet One Hundreds, along with a couple Sugar Snap peas that will eventually cover the trellis in back.

In Saint Plotniko, you don't have the option of growing large tomatoes or of getting much production out of them if you plant them in the ground. Not enough sun, not enough heat in the normal summer. Global Warming is helping, though.

This time of year, Plotnik thinks of his huge garden in Cat's Whiskers, Pennsylvania, where he bought tomato plants from the cannery by the lots of 50 and planted them in long rows. He also learned to surround the tomato plants with many rows of red beets, because he couldn't fence the garden high enough to keep the deer out and they always went for the red beets first. If they got enough of those they left the other stuff alone.

People hunted deer very seriously in rural PA. Plotnik posted his and Duck's 12 acres with signs that said NO HUNTING!!! NO SHOOTING!!! Usually, the morning after deer season opened, the signs would be shot full of holes. One year, hunters killed Prince, the greatest dog who ever lived until he was reindognated and came back as Mischief. They probably thought Prince was a deer. Or a cow.

Vegetables: Oooh, the corn.

Does anyone remember old fashioned sweet corn, before the Super-Sweet varieties that have completely taken over now? True, you had to eat it no more than an hour after you picked it, but the flavor was rich and incomparable. Now it's just sweet: Old Corn is to New Corn like Zinfandel is to Kool Aid.

Plottie even loved chopping wood. It's funny how these things change. Now, he'd probably go to the lumberyard and scrounge old firewood. Then, he culled dead trees from the property and split them for the fireplace. It was an idyllic life, but it took a lot of work to stay warm if you didn't have a furnace.

Plottie and Ducknik put in a furnace.

They bought their 12 acres and dilapidated farmouse in 1971. You can barely buy a used car today for what they paid for their country paradise. They finished renovating the farmhouse in 1975, and moved in a few months before The Great PD was born. Then they left the farm in Pennsylvania (1978), rented it out for awhile until renters could practically destroy it, then sold the farm (1980) and bought a house in Stiletto City. Then they sold the house in Stiletto City to buy the house in Saint Plotniko (1993). Then, they sold the house in Saint Plotniko and moved to Mars (2008) to get away from the next eight months of dinnertime political phone calls.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mr. O'Stein and Mr. Raviol'

Mr. Willie O'Stein does make a mean round o'corned beef.

When you live in a city with a first class Italian deli like Lucca who specializes in making fresh ravioli, making home made ravioli yourself has to be a labor of love. And laborious it is, though the truth is that The Great Plotnik has loved working with bread and pasta dough for as long as he can remember. To feel that moment when flour, eggs and a little olive oil decide to stop fighting and become an elastic organism that the baker can feel coming alive in his hands, is one of the reasons Plotnik began cooking in the first place. You get more of these great aha! moments with yeast dough, but pasta dough is ten times faster and a whole lot easier.

But it takes some time to make the dough, and then you have to run it through the pasta machine to thin it and strengthen the gluten, turning it into long strips of dough that you can set on your butcher block counter, brush with egg wash and then fill with the three-cheese-and-spinach filling you just made before you started the dough.

The filled ravioli cook very quickly when they're fresh (and not dried or frozen), and then they get covered with the mushroom ragout that Ducknik made last week in advance of the kids coming to town, but no one ever got around to eating.

Don't forget the Il Gioiello Zinfandel. Man!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mr. Big Stuff (Mouth) - Who Do You Think You Are?

Have you ever had something slip out of your mouth unexpectedly? And then, there it is, out there, and you can't do anything to get it back? (Yes, The Great Plotnik has been guilty of such an outburst, recently in fact, OK, last night.)

All you can ever do is apologize to those concerned and assure them it won't happen again. Sigh.

In TGP's case, he knows exactly why it happened, but is mystified as to why his reaction was so over-the-top, so out of balance and so out of character and, most of all, why it was directed at the wrong person.

Enough. Like NotThat says, that's all, move along. But do it with Jean Knight in your ears:

(Oh yeah, ooh)
Mr. Big Stuff
Who do you think you are
Mr. Big Stuff
You're never gonna get my love

Now because you wear all those fancy clothes (oh yeah)
And have a big fine car, oh yes you do now
Do you think I can afford to give you my love (oh yeah)
You think you're higher than every star above

Mr. Big Stuff
Who do you think you are
Mr. Big Stuff
You're never gonna get my love

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fire in the Mission on St. Patrick's Day

On Monday morning, the Morning Bag ran an article extolling the virtues of The Dovre, an old-time Irish bar where they always present a rollicking St. Patrick's Day celebration. Plotnik remembers The Dovre as belonging on the corner of Skank and Skank, but that doesn't bother anyone on St. Patrick's Day.

Then, that afternoon a fire broke out next door to The Dovre and they had to evacuate the place. The Plotniks watched the smoke and flame from their deck. There probably weren't all that many celebrants at the Dovre who even noticed.

Then, that evening the Beeze got back from her day at UC Berkeley and decided she needed Irish corned-beef-and-cabbage for dinner. Plot wasn't confident of finding the real stuff on that night, since every Irish-for-the-Day merrymaker in Saint Plotniko would be heading for his and her nearest Irish bar, but it was worth a try.

The Plotniks first drove by the Dubliner, but it was absolutely jammed. They drove downtown and tried Johnny Foley's Irish House (finding a parking spot, Mush, on the corner of Powell and O'Farrell!) but it was unbelievably loud and stank like old tennis shoes.

There was a line at Lefty O'Doul's too, so the Plotniks paused to wonder what to do next. They ended up waiting in the Lefty's line and within half an hour they were eating their corned beef but not their cabbage.

Because by the time the Plotniks wended their way up to the countermen, O'Douls had run out of cabbage. The corned beef itself wasn't too bad. The sauerkraut was really rancid, ohmigod, but the boiled potatoes were tasty. The bread was fresh and the side salads were very good. The beer was too.

The best part was going out to eat with The Beeze, who left the next morning. She looked pretty sad at the airport, but maybe not as sad as her parents felt to have her heading back east again. Plot and Duck had a very quiet ride back to World Headquarters.

Still, Tuesday morning is when the first orange tulip opened up in the pot on the deck. So life goes on. Isn't this one a beauty?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Back to Work

Now that the kids have all gone home, it's time to begin the next round of choosing our President. This weekend, we all listened to the news of Barack Obama's ex-pastor's offensive remarks about America, and TV has recycled them nonstop since then. The Great Plotnik was watching with The Great PunkyDunky and the Great FiveHead on Friday night, and he said "Obama has two choices. He can quit, or he can rise to greatness. Here is his opportunity to lay it all out on the line and tell America what it needs to hear about race and class and inspiration. It's time for Obama to stand up. It's time for his Checkers speech."

Well, he did it. Plotnik just tried to load the link and he can't. So here is the URL:

Plot and Duck know almost no one who actually voted for Obama except themselves, and it has been difficult at times for them to spell out why this man has touched them so deeply, flaws and warts and questionable land deals and angry pastors and all. It's all right here.

In a nutshell, Obama talks about black anger and about white resentment. And then he sums it up by saying:

"Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice..."

Not that we Californians can do anything about it anymore -- it's going to come down to Pennsylvanians. Plotnik lived in Pennsylvania. Clinton will once again try to whip up enough coded racial divisiveness to carry the day for herself and it shouldn't be too hard.

This doesn't mean Hillary Clinton is a bad candidate. She and McCain are doing what politicians have always done. But Plotnik would feel a lot more comforted to know he had a leader in the White House who knew not only how to count enough votes to win an election, but also understood what was going on out in the real world.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend Winds Down

The Great Belly-Nik has not gotten any less cute in the month since Plot and Duck had been to Stiletto City. And she's learned to use her phone to talk to her agent.

The avocado tree in the rear acreage always catches a boy. No matter how old he gets, he can't help climbing up in that tree.

The Great FiveHead and her old friend The Great Shutternik hung around with the Plotniks yesterday too.

There are few photos of BZWZ because she's been spending time talking to the graduate folks at Berkeley. Today she meets with the entire department and tomorrow she heads home to The Apple to sort out her offers and make up her mind.

Plot drove the Southern Plotniks to the airport this morning, gave Belly a kiss and she pecked his cheek back. Before too long they, too, will have to make a decision as to what they will do next.

Wherever their children end up, Plot and Duck will be there too. As he hugged his son good-bye, Plotnik found himself remembering how nice it was to hug The Chief good-bye, often at airports, and how his whiskers always felt grizzly, and that he had always smelled sweet, his own skin mixed with Mixture 79 pipe tobacco.

Plot is wondering if he smells the same way to his kids, if he feels the same, if he maybe is the same.

The pleasure of having BZ, PD, 5H and Belly all home together is impossible to describe. It's not that the nest is empty when they're not here, just that it's better when they are.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

BZ Puts in Her Pins

First off, BZ put her pins on the map, the two new red ones for Ethiopia and one for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, fitting nicely above her last summer's yellow pins for Kenya and Uganda. BZ is developing a very nice Africa collection, and now her boss is saying she'd like to send BZWZ to Nigeria next.

Last night the fam went back to Lupa in Snowy Valley, on request from The Great PD, because we had all had such a great meal there on Plotnik's birthday last October.

Then, however, Belly was smaller and slept through the whole meal. Last night, she stayed awake and ate a whole lot of cheese. And then, apparently, she was up for most of the night, though PD and 5H kept her so quiet that Plot and Duck never heard a peep.

And so, today two parents are exhausted and Belly's feeling great. Right now she's dancing to Little Richard with Grandma Ducknik, while 5H and PD have escaped for a few hours with their friends. The Senior Plots are having a ball.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chilluns and 'Chaladas.

Belly's back up at Camp Grandma'npa. This morning she tried on Ducknik's clothes and ended up in a Guelaguetza cowboy hat. She also helped The Great Plotnik empty the dishwasher.

This morning she and The Great PD came into the Great Bedchamber to play a bit in front of the mirror. PD is getting very good at untangling her hair.

Last night, she tried to see if she was as tall as Auntie B yet.

The Great FiveHead was allowed a few seconds of quiet to read a magazine, but then was finally convinced to do her Baron Davis imitation.

Dinner was a plate of incomparable Great Plotchaladas with a green tomatillo enchilada sauce made from tomatillos, Oaxaca smoked chiles and epazote, then filled with Queso Oaxaca and covered with Queso Cotija. These were the best Plottie has ever made and he's still trying to figure out why.

And of course, when everyone was so full that it was impossible to move, out came Ducknik's Kentucky Cherry Pie.

Friday, March 14, 2008

They Don't Deserve It, But What The Hey

When you think about it, there is no class of people who deserve LESS to have the house cleaned up spotlessly before their arrival than one's own children, who devoted every minute of their childhoods to keeping the place in a shambles. NOW they have their own places, NOW they're neat, NOW they get it, but THEN, uh uh, no way Jose.

Who was the sloppiest? Punky? Criminy. BZ? Pfffff. Bod' o' em.

And Plotnik highly doubts that the lady exulting on her bicycle here was any better. Grandma Joy, wadda you say?

Still, The Great Plotnik enjoys vacuuming and dusting because all his kiddies are coming home this afternoon for a few days. Isabella's table is ready to be set up, there is a cache of diapers, a high chair and soon there will be a gate to keep her crashing down the stairs. Duck has even washed off the old Legos. They can mess the place up as much as they like.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Home Recording

This is where The Great Plotnik parked himself from this morning until this afternoon, singing pieces of songs from wave forms he heard in his headphones, and reciting bits of dialogue in the voices of Gerry Gallow (entertainment mogul), Hy-Tek Browne (computer expert to the collective cosmos) and even the Umpire Himself, although the Ump's voice is done by someone else in Stiletto City and Plottie was just giving an idea of how he would like this new monologue to be paced).

Plot then transfered the recordings from the digital recorder into the computer as wave forms, beefed them up to larger wave forms, then emailed them to the studio in Denver. What happens next is anyone's guess.

It's getting kind of exciting.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Plotnik and Ducknik were very pleasantly surprised last night to get so many laughs out of Judy Gold's '25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.' (You will read San Francisco Theater Blog's Review RIGHT NOW, Young Lady!!) It's basically a comedy routine brought to a larger stage, and quite a few of the bits left Plottie hysterical and banging his feet on the floor. Ducknik laughed a lot too.

Perhaps the best part was her description of what happened after, in real life, she called George Bush a "living, breathing piece of sh_t," at a rally in New York. She started to get threatening letters. One of them called her this: "You filthy potty-mouthed c_nt."

Using the C-word and 'potty-mouthed' in the same sentence -- priceless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

She's Back!

Well, waddaya know. Miss Belly is back!

Though the photos have been slow in coming lately, the good news is that Belly, P-Dunky, 5-Head, and BZWZ ALL will be at World Headquarters this coming weekend. BZ is looking at grad schools and everyone else is coming to spend time together. It's not easy to get everyone together anymore so Plot and Duck are counting their blessings. MANY cameras, no worries.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Every Day, One More Flower

The Great Plotnik and Davey Blue wrote a lot of songs together in the 1980s. But they collaborated in a strange way. Whereas songwriter class will teach you there are two parts to most and lyrics...Plotnik believes there are three. The third, often as important as the first two, is 'feel.' How does the song feel? How does it flow? How do the lyrics and music fit, not only with each other, which is called prosody, but with the rhythm and motion of the entire song? Maybe this is comparable to what chefs call 'umami' -- the fifth taste sense, not particularly describable but indispensable.

What it always comes down to is production. Plottie was, basically, the songwriter, while Davey was, basically, the producer. Writers get to say it. Producers get to fix it.

All of this works until mixdown. What happens when the guy who wrote the lyrics feels his words are being crowded out by the production? What happens when the guy who played those sweeping organ parts likes those musical pieces as much as the songs they were supposed to support? What if the songwriter's FAVORITE moment on one song ends up clashing with the producer's favorite moment?

What if one person thinks technology can fix everything and the other person hates it when technology is used to cover up average-ness?

Well, my friends, this is called collaboration. Every set of writers gets there sooner or later and we all fight about it and get our panties all bunched up about it, but, in the end, we work it out. In Plotnik and Bluey's case it's been a long time coming. But we're getting there.

One interesting twist is that two of the people who recorded these songs in the 1980s have been relocated and are interested in doing some re-recording. They're both still in Stiletto City. But in the two attempts that Bluey has made, one with each person, it turns out that voice and attitude change in 25 years. Even people who are doing no more than speaking (not singing) have a great deal of trouble remembering where they were when they were performing this show a quarter of a century ago in the recording studio. They were probably hungrier then. Their voices hadn't yet acquired 25 years of screaming at their children.

But, believe it or not, it's fun. TINAPOS. Back to work on Wednesday. More pretty flowers to find.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

How does God Find the Writers...


The Perfect Pitch
Words / Music
DKonecky • DBluefield
Graphics • GReyna

Yes, you can sing that line. It was a very fruitful afternoon yesterday, and today there will be another. Plotnik wishes he could figure out how to convert a wave to an MP3 (he's done it before but damned if he can remember how to do it now) so he could post for you some of the progress made.

One thing is for certain: Plottie despises the recording process as much as he loves the creating process. In the old days, recording meant weeks in a smelly studio with everyone you love yelling at you for taking too much time. But there was never a way to take any less time. Every time you screwed up, you had to do it over.

These days, what you do is find a partner who loves recording studios and whose personal life has taken several turns that have made this project his only concern. Make sure he loves the electonics, the gizmos and the technology that you hate. Then, all you have to do is go over everything in advance, put your changes onto a Gmail document that is being edited simultaneously in real time by several people at once, in three different cities (everybody's new changes appear in a different color). Once you're done, your partner says thank you, heads for the studio in Denver or LA and does all the rest of the work. Christ, it doesn't get easier than that. Plotnik got done yesterday afternoon and didn't even smell bad.

Now, nowhere in this description did anyone hear Plotnik say all the problems with The Perfect Pitch are solved. They're not. But Plotnik and Davy Blue are working on it again, something Plotnik vowed once before he would never again do. Twice, maybe. Five times.

But the music always calls him back. He knows now how to simplify the story, but the way this collaboration works is Plotnik chips and chips and chips, like a sculptor cutting away granite, and when he's done chipping off ten pounds, two pounds are gone and his partner has put back eight. But two are gone.

Today, with luck, two more will go.

Music of the Hemispheres, Music to Last 1,000 Years, Earth Music.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


This morning, Plotnik is working feverishly to get through the new, entire Perfect Pitch, listening to waves of each song, emailed by a complicated electronic process from a recording studio in Denver, to get ready for a showdown telephone meeting at 2pm with his writing partner in Aspen. Plot has figured out a way to salvage this musical, but only if his partner agrees to slice and dice. Sadly, it is not likely to happen.

It is fascinating for Plotnik to listen to music he co-wrote a quarter of a century ago. (BZWZ appears on the tapes as a two-day old baby.) All these years later, the music has gone from new to old to retro and back to sounding new again, and Plotnik would love to be able to put the magic wand to it. He knows how. He didn't know how in 1983 but he does know how in 2008.

But his partner is still clinging to his vision from long ago. Plot gave up fighting about this show once, and he can do it again. But the stuff that sounds great really sounds great! So...we'll see. We'll see. We'll see.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Say What? You Ate What?

This dish looks wonderful, right? Yet, if The Great Plotnik should slip and tell you what's in it, you won't think it's wonderful. He did not want to taste it when it came to the table at Mangosteen the other day, he just wanted to take a picture of it. And when Patsy insisted that he try, he felt obligated, so he took just a teensy little nibble. Yum-MO! Fantastic! You can't beat banana sprouts and baby clams.

The Great Plotnik realizes you may just have to take his word on this one.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Chocolate Torte

Yesterday, the Plotniks and Patsy had lunch once again with Chef P in Napa. The food was even better this time than last time, because of this phenomenal hazlenut/chocolate torte.

But Plotnik had known better. He could feel his stomach acting weird before they left for Napa, but he stuffed himself anyway, and on the way home he felt it getting worse. Last night was no bed o' roses.

Patsy went home this morning. Plotnik's going to the doctor this afternoon. He used to have a stomach of lead. Time to get to the bottom of this.