The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Favorite Blogs

1: The Great Taco Hunt

The Great Taco Hunt was one of the first food blogs that Plottie faithfully followed. It was Bandini's quest to sample every taco truck (and most taquerias) in Stiletto City, including all the outlying areas, like East Stiletto, Stillington Park and the San Stiletto Valley. The scope of this task boggles the mind and rumbles the tripas.

Then, after blogging several times a week (and presumably sampling even more places than he could write about), Bandini disappeared. No more postings, no more three taco-orders, no more photos, no news whatsoever. Plotnik, like most of Bandini's fans, assumed the worst: Cancer of the Taco.

But he's back! -- if only for one day. Or maybe more. We can hope. Check out this link to one of Plotnik's favorite postings: access here, and ask for extra salsa.

2. Undercover Black Man

Undercover Black Man is a blog that Plotnik learned about from The Great PD. It's usually about music more than politics, wonderful graphic of Reverend Me Me Me notwithstanding. Check out the link below -- Plot is sure that many of you will enjoy this posting about black covers of psychedelic-era hit songs. Plotnik truly hates nostalgia music, almost all the time, but these covers take the songs places they deserve to go. Above all, check out Eddie Hazel's "California Dreaming" right here, but turn your speakers up first.

This man can play! Thanks, Undercover.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thanks a Bunch, Rev.

Can't blame this one on Hillary, unless Reverend Wright is in her employ, but you'd have to think Nixon killed Kennedy to believe that. Hmmm...

Whatever his motives, the Good Doctor has just about succeeded in playing Ralph Nader in the new blockbuster "Let's Ruin a Candidate," starring presidential candidate Barack Obama as Al Gore.

All these months of Obama trying to keep race off the front page, and now he's powerless before its presence. Reverend Wright says he's insisting on blaring his I've-been-so-wronged message before the American people, not because his feelings have been hurt, but because these criticisms symbolize an "all-out attack against the black church in America."

If he believes this, he's delusional. Let's be honest: by "attack," he can only mean by white people. Trust us, if Chinese newspapers were lobbing critiques at him, he'd ignore them.

So it's white people. Can it be possible that Reverend Wright believes white America has anything but the slightest idea that the black church even exists? That the black church represents some kind of danger to the white establishment? That Joe Six-Pack or Kevin Cabernet think about black issues at all, let alone how the South side of Chicago worships on Sunday? If the Good Rev does think that, he ought to look over at the huge, incredulous smile on Karl Rove's face.

White America knows, vaguely, that there's another neighborhood down there, on the other side of town, where people of other colors live, and that a lot of their men seem to be in prison, and that the people who live there worship at churches where the music is a whole lot better than at the white people's own churches. That's what they know. Most white people have grown up loving Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke and Whitney Houston but don't even realize these heroes came out of that tradition.

Have they stopped gassing up their SUVs long enough to say to themselves: These black pastors are dangerous! They're subversives! We need to stop them!...can Reverend Wright or anyone else really believe that?

No. Poor Reverend Wright's ego has been slapped. He is responding like a five year old in a sandbox, caring not one whit about the other man in the box, the one who has been trying so desperately to get beyond this hurtful line of dialog, and who could have easily thrown his ex-pastor under the bus, but refused to.

When Wright is done spewing, he'll limp back to Chicago and his message will have truly been received. That message is: "You may have liked Barack Obama before, but he scares hell out of you now, right? One more backwards leap for America's racial divide! Do I hear an A-men?"

Not from The Great Plotnik, you don't, who thought you'd been wronged before, who knows the good you've done in your community, who understands that your words were taken out of context. But we're looking at you right now on Larry King, Rev. Nobody can take your face on national TV out of context. You wanted racial politics back on the front page and you got your wish. Feeling better?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Answers to Questions

Congratulations to Cousin Seattle for staying all 13 innings. You are now in the Official Great Plotnik Hall of Fame, Plotzer Division.

Tough Bird isn't the only one who has questions to ask about why Plotnik is in the recording studio, recording people 25 years after they already recorded the same thing? The simple answer is: Because we can. Technology has made the impossible possible.

For example, Blurt and Mull's musical "The Perfect Pitch" was first recorded in 1983 on an 8-track tape recorder. This means you had eight tracks, or bands along the 1/4" recording tape, into which you had to record everything you needed. Guitar went on track one, bass on track two, etc. There were eight tracks and eight tracks only.

If you thought of something new to add after you were finished, too bad. No room. Unless you were Blurt, who was also recording engineer at the time.

If Blurt wanted to add another guitar part at 3:50 of the song, he just found a track where nobody was playing at that exact moment, and he recorded the guitar part there. If the singer was on Track Four and she took a breath from 1:45 - 1:48, this meant that Track Four had three empty seconds where Blurt could record the sound of a fire engine.

If you've never been there, you won't understand how impossibly difficult and frustrating this made the next step in the process: mixdown. When you were done recording, you had to make a final copy, or mixdown, of everything you had recorded, and everything had to be placed at the right volume, and equalization, and the reverbs had to come in at the right time and go out at the right time, and a million other things had to be added or subtracted, and humans had to do it. There was no computer mixdown available then to poor songwriters in Hollywood working in the producer's second bedroom.

Also, the only place to work on mixdown was in the corner of that room, surrounded by thirty keyboards, cat hair, a million cables connecting everything to everything else (and two of those cables were not working at all times, and you never knew which two), ash trays, old pizza boxes, crumpled up sports sections and at least four people, each trying to coordinate both arms to punch volume sliders and teensy weensy on/off/in/out buttons, louder, softer, back in and back out, on a mixing console that was only a foot and a half wide.

This would have been only mildly impossible if Track Four had just carried the Lead Vocal. But Track Four now had Lead Vocal, Fire Engine, Third Guitar Part, back to Lead Vocal, a sour background vocal that had to be muted out at exactly 4:02, but then unmuted before the Lead Vocal came back in at 4:03, a five second overdub by Hy Tek Browne which needed LOTS of reverb that immediately preceded a bass clarinet phrase which couldn't have ANY reverb. Just those five seconds required four button pushes. And the buttons sometimes stuck.

EVERY track had this many sound pieces on them, all of which had to be brought in or taken out perfectly, no stopping, from start to finish, and if any of the four young men, each controlling one track with each hand, made the slightest mistake, he screamed SHITTTTTT!!!! and the whole take was ruined and you had to start over. Add it up and you get eight rank and skanky underarms after sixteen hours.

Is anyone now understanding why Plotnik finished working on The Perfect Pitch in 1983 and didn't want to even THINK about it again until 2008?

Technology, Tough Bird, has changed everything. There are no longer eight tracks, there are infinite tracks. As many as you need. The computer mixes it all down for you afterwards. Technology once out of the reach of all pockets but the deepest, now costs pennies. Everyone can do it. And there is air conditioning. And fifty year olds take more showers than twenty year olds.

BOTTOM LINE: You still need great songs. You still need great songs. You still need great songs. Thank God.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Congratulations! You Passed the First Audition!

The Umpire at the mike.

Yesterday, Blurt and Mull met with Nate the Ump in a recording studio in the North Valley of Stiletto City, where once big boned nasty white people roared down Van Nuys Boulevard in huge pickup trucks with bumper stickers that said "America! Love it or Leave it!" Now, big boned nasty Korean, Persian, Mexican and Salvadorean people roar down Van Nuys Boulevard in huge pickup trucks with bumper stickers that either say "Radio 111.3! Mas Musica!" or maybe "America! Love it or Leave it!" because they bought the trucks from the nasty ass white people.

This is Blurt with the Ump. The Great Davey Blue comes up with many ideas, and often several at the same time.

This is Mull with the Ump. Mull's job is to sort through Blurt's ideas, like he's on the line at a fish packing house, trying to grab the biggest, juiciest eels when they swim by. They're there. You've just got to reel 'em in.

Twenty five years ago, the Ump had first sung the song he had to re-sing yesterday. He hadn't heard it in all that time, so he needed to be re-acquainted. Plotnik was about to sing the song for him as a reference, but first he said: "Nate! I just wanted to tell you you passed the first audition! Sorry it took us this long to get back to you! The good news is you are part of the longest callback in history."

"Also," Davey added, "you're the only cantor who is related to me."

The recording went beautifully, and so did the trip to Stiletto. It was short and sweet. Short is always sweet, and the reason is nobody can get mad at you because you're not there long enough. Cousin Seattle, if you really did go to that game Friday night, Plotnik needs to know if you were still there in the 13th?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jet-o to Stiletto

A short trip to Stiletto City to record the Ump. Mummy P is there, though the EPark contingent is still in Paris. A lovely note yesterday reports that Isabella is fine and that they have all fallen in love, as they must, with the City of Light. There really is no place like it, especially when you have a guide who has been there a year already. The city is swarming with Brazilians -- even they have a far easier time with their strong currency than Americans do with our flaccid one.

And Tunisians and Algerians and people from all over the rest of the once-vast French colonies. Paris is their beacon, as London once was for us, as New York still is for so much of the rest of the world.

Plotnik's got the travel itch bad this morning, and what he gets is Stiletto City. Still.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Lesson from the Herb Box

After yesterday's political bile-laced diatribe, the Great Plotnik got a good night's sleep. So today we talk about flowers in the garden. Like that yellow alstroalmeria. And this Stella de Oro daylily.

It isn't worth getting so worked up about candidates trying to win an election. You have to assume they are saying to themselves: "I know I shouldn't do this, but if I don't, I'll lose. If I lose, I can't help my country. So first, I'll do whatever I have to in order to win. After that, I'll work hard for the things I love."

This year's election is like Plotnik's Herb Box.

Barack's the chives. He grew well in the center of the box, but now he's had his tops cut off. McCain's the flowering thyme. He thinks he's hot stuff but in a few weeks he'll be back to dried up stems. Hillary's the parsley. Her seeds are everywhere in the box. You think she's dead and she sprouts back up. It's hard to defeat that kind of determination when your head has been chopped off and your flowers are withering.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Something's Burning in the Kitchen

The Pennsylvania Primary was yesterday and Hillary Clinton won big.

The Great Plotnik used to think the Democrats had put forward two excellent candidates, and either one would suffice. Yes, she may be an excellent role model for young women. Yes, she may have been treated unfairly when she was the favorite. Yes, in November, if Hillary wins, Plotnik will probably vote against the Republicans by voting for yet one more candidate he has come to despise.

But not with pleasure, not with hope, not with the idea that his vote, finally, might actually change something. Yes, she may be a better campaigner and even more competent than Obama as a nominee. Yes, Obama is a rookie and may be made out of paper. Yes, Clinton may have a better chance than he does to defeat the Republicans, who are avatars from the death star Xog.

And yet, there is John McCain in Selma, Alabama, telling the small, white crowd (in a black city) that he knows he's not going to get any votes down there, but it is time to apologize for racial hatred in that part of the world. And there is Hillary Clinton, smiling on a TV ad in Pennsylvania with Osama bin Laden in the background, using all the racial code words, whipping up class vindictiveness in a working class state. Win, Baby, Win. What else do you need to know?

As the New York Times, who endorsed her months ago and is now threatening to withdraw its endorsement, put it this morning:

"On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned."

That is correct. There are millions of people, not only kids but gray-heads like Plotnik, who have been clamoring to run into that kitchen, for the first time in their lives, to see if they might be able to make a difference, to unite behind a candidate whose ideals matched their own.

Mrs. Clinton makes us all brake to a stop at the door. Something smells in there. Something's burning.

So we'll see. In the meantime, congratulations, Mrs. Clinton. You go, girl.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Le E-mail de Paris

Plotnik is correcting dialogue in advance of a recording session with the Ump Himself this weekend. In lieu of anything else, here are a few snippets from an email received this morning from PD, 5H and La Belie, from Paris:


Hello from Paris, where I wish I could write and say
that life is w/o a care. But Isabella's sleepless
nights have made us all a bit crazed. Poor little
thing has had a tough time adjusting to the time
difference. I'm talking up from 4 -6 AM, or up to
midnight and then sleeping until noon. That's really
been hard on us -- tougher than I would have imagined.
Then to make matters worse she came down w/ a fever
yesterday afternoon. It's low grade, and I think due
in large part to her molars that are coming in. But a
fever is a fever so she's asleep on the couch (flushed
cheeks and all) and Staci went to the train station to
cancel our tickets to Brittany. Actually I don't care
about not going to Brittany, although the bullet train
sounds amazing. But tickets alone were around $700
U.S. total.

(TGP interjects here: 700 DOLLARS? To take a train to Brittany from Paris, maybe...200 miles? Like here to Fresno?)

So our days are moving slowly...Eric and Jennifer are amazing hosts. He knows the city so well. We went to a great little place he knew. Astounding lunch
spot. Little hole in the wall w/ a few tables, great
wine, great sandwiches, style galore.

This morning he and I went on a 3
hour bike ride. Under the Eiffel Tower, around the Arc
de Triomphe, through a park, up the most well-heeled
streets of the city. We then had lunch at La Rotonde
(Beef Tartare, French Onion Soup, Apple Tarte Tatin,
Expresso)... the other day we rode across the Seine
and past Notre Dame.

Staci's french is coming back. She certainly has the
ear for it. We've met only nice Parisians. We always
try to speak French first. You were right... that
seems to help immensely.

So we're soaking it all in...Cemeteries, a Chopin concert
and flea markets are on
deck... but that is once the Belly gets better... So
cross your fingers that that is sooner than later.

(dan) The Great PunkyDunky

Monday, April 21, 2008

To The Victors Go the Spoils

It's Sore Feet Monday. After two days of cleaning and cooking and eating and cleaning up again, followed by b-ball, riding the plotkicycle and eating up a substantial portion of the leftovers, today will be a nice day to lay low.

The one Great Spoil of doing all that work is that the food stays here. At Thanksgiving in Stiletto City, Shmeckl and Little Bear do all the work, but they also get to keep all the turkey and trimmings. So TGP and TGD never get a turkey-cranberries-stuffing-candied yam sandwich the next day.

But yesterday for lunch, yum, Plottie and Duck had big bowls of chicken soup with a fat matzoball floating in the broth -- yes, floating, not laying on the bottom of the bowl like a cannonball, not bending the spoon 90 degrees from the handle when you try to cut into it, not behaving less like food and more like Commandment Eleven, which says: "Thou Shalt Not Digest This Sphere of Lead, Not Now, Not Ever, Amen."

And then they had brisket-gravy-charoset-roast carrots-cole slaw-white sauce sandwiches for dinner, with an extra slather of white sauce on the leftover onion-poppy matzos for dessert, before a few macaroons.

Jeez, no wonder Plotnik can't move today.

P and D plan to do the same today and tonight. Sorry, Notthat, I know you haven't had lunch yet. Wish you were here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jacob Leads His Family Back to World Headquarters

"...and Jacob led his family into Egypt." Last night, some 3500 years later, Jacob led his family to The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Brisket Kitchen. Last year Jacob sat at the table in utero. This year he's smiling. Nice.

Lois's chicken matzoball soup, learned at her Mom's elbow in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was the best chicken soup AND the best matzoballs ever. No contest.

Bill's white horseradish sauce was perfect, as always, and as the evening's patriarch, he took the honored seat at the head of the table.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was when Jacob read the Four Questions for the first time, although Elliot helped out a great deal by, well, by reading the Four Questions. Jacob held the hagaddah. You might take a moment to marvel at Elliot's purple and gold yarmulke.

Steve and Pippa are heading to South Africa for a month, but last night they stuck around to talk politics and help Plotnik and Ducknik clean up the every-dish-in-the-house-dirty-and-every-pot-in-the-house-filthy mess.

Mummy Plotnik has said that the holiday is for the children, but The Great Plotnik thinks it's equally about all the people who came before. It's not about religion, it's about tradition. The brisket tastes delicious, but it tastes better because it's Mummy Plotnik's recipe. Same with the soup. Same with the ceremonial dishes. Same with everything.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Concord Grape Matzos?

Mmmmm. Seven pounds of brisket in the fridge next to three jars of gravy ready to be skimmed. Three pounds of carrots skinned in a plastic bag with cumin and olive oil, to be baked for 45 minutes and then finished off on the bbq for a little char. Cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley to be chopped up and dressed with lemon and olive oil. Tiny, new red and white potatoes to be poached in the brisket gravy and then served with butter and dill. Chicken soup with matzo balls to arrive this afternoon, along with chocolates to go with hot macaroons and strawberries from the farmer's market for dessert. Weird matzos.

Why weird matzos? Because every store in town is out of Passover matzos. I mean, what? Are we taking all the flour that was supposed to be made into matzos and using it for ethanol? Kosher ethanol? Or are there more people than you'd think in the city of Saint Plotniko who have decided to buy up all the matzo this week? The manager at Safeway told Plotnik their warehouse has been empty for two weeks.

Maybe there was a run on frisbees and they had to substitute? Maybe they're using matzos to surf the little ones at Maverick's?

Plotnik even stopped by the Chabad on 29th Street, ready to debase himself before the Chabadniks with a plea to buy some of their passover matzos. As some of you know, the first question the ultra-orthodox, long-bearded Chabadniks would have asked Plotnik is:

"You Jooosh?"

"I, uh, well, I am leader of a minor Western religion and, uh..."

"You Jooosh?"

"Ah, see there aren't any Passover matzos left in the city..."

"(something in Hebrew)."

"Well, I don't understand..."

"You not Joosh?"

Anyhow, Chabad was closed, so Plotnik was spared. But what it meant was he had to buy non-Passover Matzos. What's the difference, you ask? None. Except...Grammy and Grampy Plotnik are not pleased. They never forgot to buy matzos for Passover.

...and not only did he have to buy non-Passover matzos, but "no yolk matzos." WHY IS THERE YOLK IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? He also had to buy Onion and Poppy matzos. ONION AND POPPY MATZOS? You mean, the Jews had to eat their bread unleavened as they ran through the desert pursued by Pharoah, but they still had time to chop onions and toss in poppy seeds?

This is idiotic. Spelt matzos? Concord Grape Matzos? Plotnik drew the line on those.

All you need is love. Everyone at World Headquarters wishes each and every one of our readers a delightful weekend, filled with family and friends. Here is a kiss to you all from Isabella, currently on a bike ride with her Dad in Montparnasse:


Friday, April 18, 2008

King Paris and Zelda the Bald

Certain theater productions drag on too long; some are too short -- you're waiting for the good part and it never arrives. Last night, The Great Plotnik and his trophy wife, Helen of Duck, went to see "The Trojan Women" in Berkeley and the show was just long enough. Any longer and the entire audience might have committed mass suicide, not because of the show but because of all the wailing. At just one hour, though, with no intermission, it's a good show and worth seeing. You can read the SF Theater Blog review here, but you may want to bring your Xanex and a nice cookie.

But it makes Plotnik think: Could Helen have really been SO beautiful that King Paris would risk his entire world to kidnap her and bring her back to Troy, knowing that her husband, King Menelaus, and the entire Greek army would be on his heels?

I mean -- Paris was King too! He probably had plenty of chances to get girls.

Admittedly, after seeing "Romancing the Caveman" the night before, the story makes some sense. King want woman. King kidnap woman, take woman home to cave. King turn on TV, no care what happen next. King happy.

But Helen's beauty probably didn't have all that much to do with it, although it is reported that every Greek king and prince wanted to marry her. We are betting she knew some neat tricks.

It probably came down to Paris wanting what King Menelaus had. If Menelaus had been married to Zelda the Bald, Paris would have stolen her. The Great Plotnik will give Hillary fans one thing: it would really be nice to get the men out of office for awhile.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Romancing The Caveman and Bill Slowsky

Men are all a**holes. Men are all a**holes. Last night Plotnik (a man) and Ducknik (a woman) went to see Rob Becker's "Romancing the Caveman" at Marines Memorial Theater. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog Review here, unless you're too stupid to do anything but stand there like an idiot.

Bill Slowsky is not an idiot. Bill Slowsky is a man! He doesn't move very fast, but he has a purpose. As those living here in Saint Plotniko already know, Bill and his wife are the spokesturtles for Comcast Cable. They actually prefer Comcast's competitor, DSL, because it is very slow, which is how they like things to be. Plotnik and Ducknik laugh out loud every time they hear Bill, who is playing hide-and-seek with his wife, counts to 10,000 to give her a chance to hide. But she still can't move fast enough. "Still see your butt," Bill says.

Some funny stuff is not very funny. Some is. Give Plottie Bill Slowsky every time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The New Hat

Thanks to Mr. NotThat Lucas for the new BZ Logo, though the wording may change as further research is done. BZ has mentioned she was sorry to see the old pith helmet go...but it has only been temporarily retired. This one is more professorial, don't you think?...a jacket with patches on the sleeve might be nice, though.

The hat is important, because The Great Plotnik woke up this morning thinking about Passover. As you know, Plotnikkies celebrate Passover too, with a large meal that does NOT involve gasping down ground up pieces of stinky fish swimming in goo.

Plotnikkies obey a different set of dietary laws than those that govern Passover meals in other religions. Plotnikkies observe the laws of URPP (yUmmy savoRy Plotnikkie Passover), which state everything must be delicious, nothing can smell awful, you don't eat something just because somebody's great grandmother brought the recipe over from a village in Poland where they hadn't seen any real food since 1485, and NO deserts made out of matzo meal, imitation chocolate and non-dairy creamer. All Kugels must be kleared through the Kugel Kommittee and kanNOT kontain Kasha. Also, non-Plotnikkies are welcome, if they wear the hat. The hat.

The Great Plotnik is starting to think about what he will say this Passover. He's thinking about starting this way:

"The Passover story is about a tribe of people, who were enslaved by another tribe of people, and how the first tribe won their freedom due to the intercession of God, at the absolute expense of the other people, who lost their crops, their children, and their lives, and who had thought their God was 'way badder than the first people's God, but no.

"If you think about it, the first people's God could have just fought it out with the second people's God, Winner Take All. That's what it came down to, right?

"It was no contest: "In the red trunks, at Five Foot Three and A Hundred and Seven Pounds, from Cairo: RA! In the white trunks, at Twelve Foot Twelve and Three Thousand Pounds, from Heaven and REALLY angry: OUR GOD!"

"The second people probably had lived on the same street with the first people, and their kids all went to the same pyramid and worked on the school papyrus. The second people hadn't even realized the first people were all that unhappy, and anyway it wasn't their fault, it was their leaders' fault, and they had no problem with the first people, and some of their best friends were first people, and if anyone had asked them, the second people, they'd have just said HEY! YOU WANT TO WANDER IN THE DESERT? GO! GO! A ZAI GEZUNDT! but nobody had asked them, and now the first people were all somewhere else and the second people were all dead, and damn!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Scar and the New Logo

Plotnik decided to pull the little bandage off this morning and see what was underneath. Turns out it's a purply-black line and a bunch of stitches. Thankfully, he's got another bandage. The stitches come out Thursday.

Plotnik got that scar in a knife fight in Pennsylvania, outside the bar where he was drinking and cracking ethnic jokes with the boys, before they went down to the VFW Lodge to go bowling. Plotnik is SO working class.

So here's what's going on: The Great Beezie Weezie has accepted an offer to go to Brown University for a graduate school program in -- well, it's like geography and like geology, or as she says "climatological wizardry." She's going to dig in dirt and find out what was going on in Africa a few bazillion years ago. Hopefully it won't take her quite that long to earn her Ph.D. and become the first Doctor Plotnik in this branch of the family.

On the good side: a great program, the right professors and mentors, and lots of professional and financial support.

On the bad side: Providence, Rhode Island. Not that there's anything wrong with Providence -- it's just far away from home, that's all. BZ has been far away since she was 18. Everyone had hoped for California -- but Brown is far and away the best program.

Once she is officially Doctor Plotnik, we all will be required to walk up to her at cocktail parties and say: "Excuse me, Doctor. Could you please take a look at this wart?"

"I study climate."

"Yeah, well, whatever."

Anyway, we need a new BZ logo. The Pith Helmet appears to be temporarily out of service.

Also: The Greats PD, 5H and B are leaving Thursday for Paris. Yes, France. They've got friends with an apartment there, so they have a free place to stay. Also, B flies free before she's two (if you can imagine a baby on your lap for ten or eleven nonstop hours), so they've got to go now. They're even going to spend a weekend in Brittany -- wow, the weekend after this!

So, the family is on the move, with the exception of, you know, like, us. Jeez.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Winning Basket, an OK Show

Yesterday, on a picture-perfect, glory-Hallelujah kind of afternoon, Plotnik and Ducknik drove down to Fort Mason for a 2:30 matinee of "Monkey Room" at the Magic theater. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review HERE, but remember never to trust anyone holding a hypodermic needle with a confused look on her face.

What a day. The Bay was Rush Hour for sailboats. Giant flags flew on masts just below American flags. Even the abandoned docks were picturesque. Every tree in town was in bloom.

Not only was it the kind of day that sells cameras, but this other fine and rare occurrence also took place:

Plotnik hit the game-winning shot in the toughest game of the morning, setting off a delicious argument on the other team about who was supposed to be covering him. The answer, of course, is nobody. Nobody expects Plottie to take that last shot. Maybe Mike. Maybe Sam. But Sam got the ball and everybody ran over to cover him, so Sam passed it to Mike and everybody ran over to cover him. So Mike passed it out to Plotnik. The defense hesitated. Heh heh heh and also HAR DE HAR!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Caroline, Or Change. Plus: A Contrast

Last night, Plot and Duck drove down the 280 to the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. It's a beautiful drive, past reservoirs and past Shmanford and past Shmupertino and...wait a minute, isn't Mountain View over on the other side, near the...Ducknik, look at the Mapquest, aren't we supposed mean, I should have turned...where, why didn't...rats.

Still, there was plenty of time to eat a very nice dinner in an empty Asian restaurant called TASTE (coconut chicken, lime-glazed salmon), and then walk over to MVCPA. The show was fabulous: Tony Kushner's operetta "Caroline, or Change." You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog Review HERE but don't expect "Angels in America."

The night was positively balmy. There is something to said here about the contrast between: 1) driving 45 minutes to the Peninsula's Asian suburbs to find easy parking on the street across the street from the show, a choice of tasty and inexpensive ethnic restaurants, beautiful (HOT!) weather, well-dressed theater goers and smiling passers-by on the street; and 2) slogging up and down Bush Street and Leavenworth and Mason and Sutter looking for a parking place, dodging the homeless winos who are waiting to pee on your rear tire and everybody you pass on the street is screaming at someone else. Just saying, that's all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Running on French Fry Oil While Taking Care Not to Strain or Heavy Lift

What can we say -- the boy is crazy about his car. The Great PD has been busily and merrily converting his twenty five year old Mercedes station wagon to run on used and reprocessed cooking oil. He bought the car off Craig's List and drove to Fresno to get it and now has something to do every waking weekend minute. It not only runs, but when you look into the engine cavity you see hoses and shmoses and bioshmeckies and oil doogums and filters and shmilters.

Who knew? The Great PD is without doubt the first Plotnik in world history to be able to look inside an engine compartment and not simply shake his head in a non-comprehending side-to-side ellipse, or at best nod to the mechanic standing next to him and say: "Yes, I agree, Clyde. I was thinking myself that it was probably the shmilter."

Meanwhile, A look at the advice sheet given to Plotnik by Drs. Snippem and So M. Up yields the following admonition: "No heavy lifting, straining or bending for ( 1 ) Week."

A closer look, however, shows that there is no mention of "rebounding," "jump shooting," or "driving to the basket." So, tomorrow Plotnik plans to play. He would love to vacuum today, but, hey. Doctors' orders.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Back to Big Eyes. Also The Bistro Formerly Known as Burrito King

And now, after our slight detour yesterday, we return to the important stuff. Does this girl have eyes, or what?

Last Saturday, The Evil Twins had a party at Barry's house. Barry and Brian were The Great PunkyDunky's very best friends all the years the Plotniks lived in Fashionable EPark. Actually, it wasn't very fashionable then. We'll get back to that.

Barry and Brian have turned into the same cool adults that anyone could have predicted who knew them as kids. Barry's got two boys and lives in LA; Brian's got a boy and a girl and lives in North Carolina. (In the photo below, Barry is holding Brian's kids.)

What an international family! Barry's father-in-law speaks Japanese and Portuguese, since he was born in Japan but grew up in Brazil. He and Plotnik spoke Japanese at the party. Wrong. He spoke Japanese. Purotniku-san nodded a lot.

Down on the lower right is Coach Skip, who is B and B's dad, and who was The Great Plotnik's coach on the Yankees Little League Team. That team featured Barry as the pitcher, Brian as first baseman and PD as second baseman. We lost every game.

Did someone use 'fashionable' and 'Epark' in the same sentence? Well, yes. It has now become an architectural signature on funky, I mean trendy EPark Avenue, to leave the old business signs standing when you open up your new bistro. This one takes the cake: The old Burrito King (sign still there) is now Bistro 15. Bistro 15. The Bistro Formerly Known as Burrito King.

The liquor store is still there, and the dumpsters.

PD related the story of seeing a line of five homies in front of the liquor store the other night, hanging out, like they've done since their grandfathers' time...except one of them was wearing a tuxedo. He was the valet parking attendant at Bistro 15.

Mr. That, above is kalanchoe. Next comes purple azalea.

White azalea

And barberry

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Brave, Brave Plottie and the Nose of the Future

Nobody likes the C word, so Plotnik didn't mention that he had to have a basal cell carcinoma (on the side of his face) removed this morning. Even the Great Plotochondriac wasn't worried about this one, and it went perfectly, no problems. In fact, in the end, the procedure is so hi-tech as to be almost interesting.

Plotnik made only one suggestion to the surgery team: the Yanni Plays Abba With Ten Million Strings CD would be more palatable if they turned up the BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP from all the monitors they hook you up to, so as to drown the f*!*er out completely.

After they were all done and they'd stitched up Plottie the Brave, he asked the doctor: since the dermatologist said these things never spread and there is no danger whatsoever from having them, why they had to remove them at all? The doctor said that if you let them go long enough they will burst through to the nerves underneath and that is a pathway to the brain and you get brain cancer. You want brain cancer?

Plotnik said, meekly, no Sir.

Well, then, the doctor said.

Anyone who spent his or her life in the sun, as Plotnik did for his first 18 years, deliberately burning and peeling so each new set of skin would be darker, and covering himself with Coppertone Burn-o-Matic with Cocoa Butter just to speed the malignant process along, has got to worry about these things in their wizening years. And now...get this...Plotnik has to have a dermatological physical EVERY YEAR from now on. ANOTHER PHYSICAL FOR CHRISSAKE! FULL BODY! They'll strip the boy nekkid and check all his pathetic pores for little basals teeming with smegma.

But, apparently, he deserves it. And yes, yes, yes, the social irony of the concept of basically burning away your skin just so you can get darker does not escape Plotnik. Meanwhile, generations of already-dark people were using skin bleaches to lighten themselves up.

You should have seen the waiting room, filled with old people with bandages on their noses, ears, temples, chins. Noses were the most numerous. Plotnik would think that if the sun lands first and hardest upon that party of your body that is the easiest to find, his - let's say prosperous - nose would be the obvious port of entry.

For now, he just has a bandage under the earpiece of his glasses. He has to apply new-age-ice-in-a-bag every thirty minutes for eight hours. He is hungry. He is always hungry.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Franklin Canyon

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik's trip to Stiletto City was composed of two or three events: One was a hike in Franklin Canyon with Belly, PD and 5H. Grandma Joy, we hope you see how much she looks like you in this first photo.

Sometimes, Plotnik wonders how this little girl could possibly be so beautiful. But, then again, it's not so hard to figure out.

Time for flabby legs to hit bicycle. More tomorrow afternoon.