The Great Plotnik

Monday, June 30, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

Well it sure as hell ain't Kansas. Out the window of the Pinnacle Lodge motel Plotnik is staring at snow capped mountains (with a lot less snow than there used to be, people say), a creek, a few deer, a meadow or two and a whole lot of pine trees. People in Colorado look different too -- it's like one of those Wilde Weste contests where everybody grows handlebar mustaches. These folks don't appear to be in any contest, though. Lots of Pendleton shirts, sawdust on boots, a scar or two maybe, the odd tattoo and piercing.

Plottie is in Winter Park, an hour and a half out of Denver, and last night's wedding was a lot of work but fun. It never stops amazing him that people who come to parties all enjoy hearing the same old music. Plottie got to sing Johnny Be Goode for the first time in awhile, and Do You Love Me, and What a Wonderful World, and All You Need Is Love, though the latter was in a key signature John Lennon never could have imagined. See, you don't have to play the songs right, especially if everybody in the band doesn't know them, all you have to do is get up there, open your mouth, pound your keyboard and scream. It's the illusion of music that seems to count.

But it was musical enough. And the view was great, and the food was...well, it was free.

Today the question is: to go to Steamboat Springs, or all the way to Aspen, where The Wave of Groove won't be back from Nashville until tomorrow and Plotnik thinks he ought to let Wave decompress for awhile until he makes contact again.

Can't get over how the people look out here -- so, well, so furry! Also really, really nice. But what's with a 10:30AM check out time?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tech Question

Plottie is heading to Colorado. Do they have internet there? He's got to leave for the airport early because his bag is loaded with cables and little electronic boxes. There may be questions for the piano player.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lots of Old Friends

It was a ton of fun to have Plotnik's old friend and partner come to Saint Plotniko with his wife Gay and their girls. Rebecca and Georgia basically hid themselves in The Great BZWZ's Upstairs Chamber and watched The Price is Right, but when they were downstairs they kept Plot and Duck in stitches.

While their parents yakked, the girls became adept at finding every last ripe purple raspberry.

Of course, they are both serious drinkers.

Last night, Plot and Duck's old friend The Big Fella came over for dinner. A trip to Hong Fat yielded a fat red snapper, scaled and fileted, which ended up on the bbq with Viet spices, cabbage salad, marinated peppers, mutter paneer, saffron rice and thick tortillas crisped up on the fire after the fish came off. It's a nice way to pave the way for road kill, which is what Plottie will be eating Sunday through Wednesday in Colorado.

OK, not exclusively road kill. Sunday night will be Wedding Food -- Road Kill in White Sauce.

Joke, DanceNik, it's a joke.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Memo to Trap: Keep Shut

The creative process is so up and down. Today it's down. Plot's partner David is having the inevitable frustrations and difficulties mixing 'The Perfect Pitch' in Nashville, so he's wound up tight and lashing out at Plot a bit for not being there, which is exactly the reason Plot did not want to be there in the first place.

Plot wrote a song a long time ago that is one of his very favorites. It was a simple ballad. It has now been turned into more of a rock production, although the basics of the song are still there. Wave sent an .Mp3 of the tune from Nashville last night and Plot made the mistake of responding. Stupid. He should have just stayed silent and listened a dozen times before saying a word.

It's very hard to hear something change that was cherished just the way it was. Actually, however, it's quite good now. Plot shouldn't have said anything. He should have waited. He'll never learn.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Providence, Santiago

The Great BZWZ is in Providence looking for an apartment to rent for next year. From the phone call the Plotniks received yesterday, the process is a lot more civilized in Providence, Rhode Island, than New York City, New York. And cheaper. And guess what: she says the area around Brown University looks a lot like Saint Plotniko.

It's still a galaxy far, far away. But maybe not really all that far. Southwest flies directly into Providence from Saint Plotniko International (SPO). That's easier right there than flying to the Shmapple.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Plot and Duck can get all the way to Santiago, Chile, using the last of their Delta miles. But they have to go in October. Hmmmm. That's 'way ahead of plans, but, on the other hand, why not? Got to think about this soon while there are a few free tickets left. There are none left from October through next April.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rebecca and Georgia Are Back at World Headquarters

That's how Rebecca and Georgia looked in 1999 at World Headquarters. Here's how they looked this morning:

Rebecca is almost sixteen and Georgia is twelve. They're sleeping upstairs in The Great BZWZ's room and finding it every bit as cool as BZ always did. They really are exceptional kids, to say nothing about smart and beautiful. It's great to have them (and their parents, Jim and Gay) here, but sadly only for a few days.

Naturally, everybody got to sit around the dining table and listen to BZWZ's 'Oracle Road' last night. Jim, who played saxophone with The Great Plotnik for the better part of fifteen years, looked at Plottie and said: "Bronwen plays banjo? Is that her singing?" Yup.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Four Steps to a Bouquet of Yellow Roses

The Yellow Rose of Plotnik is one of the two Official Roses of the Great Plotnik World Headquarters, Meatball Kitchen and Thorn-in-Thumb Research Center. Here's how you get from plant to bouquet. First, you get a lackey to cut the flowers.

Next, you put them in the sink.

Next, The Great Ducknik layers them gracefully into a vase.

Finally, you take a close-up.

The yellow rose that Plotnik planted last Spring has gotten to be six feet tall. Usually, roses with large flowers only survive a season or two in Saint Plotniko before their lungs fill up with fog and they succumb to scab and scale, their leaves brown and withered away, their puny little stems covered with powdery mildew.

But lately it's hotter, you've noticed? So maybe this buffed-out and seemingly healthy rose bush will stick around awhile. Global Warming! Yeah!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leaving the Twigs, Heading for the Forest

The Umpire, riding a lightning bolt, welcomes each baby born on Earth, calls her SA-F-F-FE AT HOME! His assistant, Angel, with the mink wings, gets ready to set the baby onto the Ump's chest protector. In the lower left corner is Gerry Gallow, the media mogul, owner of XS-BS Records. Illustrator Greg Reyna drew this and ten other illustrations for The Perfect Pitch, more than 25 years ago. Plotnik found them in his attic yesterday.

Where did he find them, after turning the attic upside down? In a file, marked: Perfect Pitch Illustrations. He had filed them there years ago, for safe keeping.

The Great Plotnik's partner David, The Wave of Groove, is back in Nashville, getting ready to mix The Perfect Pitch. It's a monumental task, made somewhat easier only by the amount of work that has been done electronically in advance of this week. Plotnik will be in touch by cell and by G-Mail document. Best of all, he won't be in Nashville, where he would probably blow his brains out after a day and a half.

Patience in a recording studio is not Plotnik's strong suit. This is twig work to the max.

Yesterday, for the first time, Plotnik listened to the entire Act One, which is close to an hour of music, without allowing himself once to dance into the twigs.

What are twigs? When you hear any piece of music for the first time, you are listening to the whole forest. The forest is what is audible, visible, understandable, as an entirety. It's what the audience sees and hears. However, the people who created the forest built it out of trees. They had to pay attention to each tree. And each tree is made up of tiny twigs. And each twig has a few leaves and each leaf has a pathetic little microbe or two dripping off the edge.

At some point in the creation of this forest, Plotnik and The Wave of G have examined every goddam microbe on every leaf on every twig on every tree. Only now can they begin to put it all together again and allow themselves to think about the final forest.

And the thing is the twigs don't matter. Nobody hears the twigs.

Most of the time, when you finish a project you flee from it like Peter running from the wolf. You can't stand the thought of going back in there again. But Plot doesn't feel that way. He's really anxious to hear what comes out of the studio in Nashville next week.

The Great Plotnik listens to this music and can't help but remember things about himself, about the way he used to feel about the creative process, about the power of collaboration, when it works, and, most of all, how good it feels to finish a project and still like it. It probably helps that Plottie ran for his life once already, away from this forest, out into the clear air. He didn't like very many of those twigs for quite a few years. But now he does again. It feels good. Go figure.

Yesterday, with his headsets wrapped tightly around his ears, when he got to 'Earth Music,' the last song in Act One, where the Umpire realizes music is the only thing people on Earth pay attention to anymore, and where Plot and The Wave of G attempted to wring everything that can possibly be wrung out of two chords, he could finally listen to the forest again, since he wasn't concentrating on all the twigs anymore.

An Umpire, welcoming babies into the world, needs songwriters on Earth to write a very special song to help save the planet. It's all so silly. So incomprehensible. And so much fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Such a Toothache!

Cousin Seattle, Pacoima is where the plane crashed into the grammar school, the one that almost killed Richie Valens (not the one that did kill him). Of course it's 108 degrees. It ain't paradise there, La Bamba Girl. Stay out of Pacoima.

Meanwhile, here in S-Plot (the Hip Hop name for Saint Plotniko), the weather broke last night. Driving home from Vallejo, Plot and Duck could see the welcome sign of fog collecting over the Bay Bridge, the columns already half hidden in slowly-drifting mist. That always means tomorrow will be cool. Even though it was probably 20 degrees cooler than the night before, there were still at least fifty people waiting in line outside Mitchell's Ice Cream at 11PM.

Plot and Duck had dinner in Vallejo with The Great Zinfandini and family, and also with their good friends the Vallejo Tomato People. The VTP have planted a backyard garden with at least 20 gigantic tomato plants (it's HOT in Vallejo) as well as every other vegetable in existence. Plot is so jealous he can spit. Come August we're talking bushel after bushel of big, red juicy guys. Lots of tomato sauce to be made, lots of gazpacho.

Sadly, the VTPs, who are filmmakers, are going through the same misery with their collaborators as Plotnik did with his a few years ago. It's hard to explain to people who haven't gone through it, but the disappointment when a collaborative relationship blows up, having been built on creative trust, is hard to take. It's not a marriage but it's somewhere close to it, especially when you wrote with that person for more than 20 years, which was Plotnik's situation.

The Plotnikkie lexicon does provide nice homilies for situations like these. You stare the person in the eye, for the last time, and you say: "E-chhha e-chhha e-chhha!" This means: "May God remove every tooth in your mouth but one, and in that one SUCH a toothache!"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Todos Pesan

It's soooooo hot. Maybe for the rest of the world this is normal June, but for Saint Plotnikian Fogniks, it's hard to know what to do with ourselves. Yesterday the thermometer in our neighbor Ray's backyard registered 103. You can't walk anywhere barefoot, the flowers in the garden are gasping for breath, except for the tomatoes which are all happy happy joy joy. No matter how hot it gets, though, it's a lot nicer than the usual summer gloom and doom overcast, which is bound to return 'way to soon.

On the other hand, it maybe wasn't quite so hot in Brittany, where Blogmaid, in the red beret, was vacationing with her family. Little RR sure looks cute -- actually they all look great and not one is sweating. Plotnik is particularly impressed that all their berets match and not one is the same color.

It's soooooo hot. The moon schvitzes. Above last night's almost full moon you can see one of the home runs Brad Penney gave up in his last outing. It's still rising, just like the moon.

It's so hot. Ducknik has covered the windows with towels. That makes the dining room bearable. This morning, Plotnik took his bike ride early to beat the heatstroke. Inside the bagel shop it was a furnace. None of the kiddies were jumping around at the Farmer's Market across 24th Street -- the guitar player played "Froggie Went A-Nappin'" and the kids lay under umbrellas held by their Moms.

Plotnik has begun to think that, on 24th Street, double and triple strollers must cost less, per occupant, than regular ones. He says this because the other day he passed three doubles in a row, followed by a triple. There were two toddlers in one of the double strollers, but in all the others there were a kid or two plus groceries and even a dog.

There are back-to-back double strollers and side-to-side double strollers, all, of course, pushed by Salvadoran nannies. Plotnik asked one of the nannies which of the two stroller styles she preferred, and she said "Todos pesan." They all weigh a lot.

Friday, June 20, 2008

No Oil Spill

Last night the ride into Birkenstockley took only half an hour. That was because the curtain was at eight and the Plotswagon left at seven. Leaving fifteen minutes later would have guaranteed an overturned tanker-trailer/major oil spill blocking all eighteen lanes of the Bay Bridge.

Some will enjoy Keith Bunin's "The Busy World is Hushed." You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review HERE, but, just to be sure, I'd buy a Street Sheet. Read the review, it'll make sense.

Plot and Duck ate at home. But arriving with half an hour to burn probably meant local restaurants were all empty, grills warm, food scrumptious and ready to serve. Leaving fifteen minutes later would have meant the only eatery still open in Birkenstockley would have been Liver-R-Us or Clogs-on-a-Stick.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

His Green Phase

Plot and Duck finally junked the old scanner and bought a new one for $90 bucks. The new one is basically the old one minus ten years, or rather plus ten years of better software. The old one would scan, very very slowly, but then it took half an hour to get the software to close the program so you could use it. The new one works instantly and lets you scan nice old photos like this one, which shows Isabella's drummer Dad in his Green Phase.

Nefnik probably still has those drums, which means a certain Toddler of our acquaintance will probably get her shot at them in the near future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Poor, Ripe Berry and the Bad Ass Vulture

The Celtics deserved to win. Now, let's talk about berries.

Twining up the fences and winding through the bougainvillea and Burmese honeysuckle in the rear acreage of The Great Plotnik World Headquarters, are three different kinds of bramble berry vines: blackberry, boysenberry and purple raspberry.

Blackberries and boysenberries are independent flora. They grow where they like. What you have to do is root out and burn the blackberry but keep and enjoy the boysenberry. The reason: thorns. Blackberry thorns are vicious, long, razor sharp and hard to avoid since the thorns grow even on a vine no more than two inches out of the ground. A vigorous blackberry vine can cut you worse than a cactus.

Boysenberry vines, on the other hand, are thornless, and the fruit, a bit purpler and with less seedy flesh, tastes even better than a blackberry. Plus, it looks beautiful among the bougainvillea bracts.

The Bababerry purple raspberries are the best, though. Nothing tastes as good in a bowl of cereal as a fresh raspberry. Plus, they're everbearing, so after the large crop right now (bushels and bushels and bushels...maybe four bowls of granola with six berries each), they'll produce again in the fall. Also, you can dig up the raspberry suckers and plant them wherever you like and the next year: more raspberries.

Strawberries are technically berries too.

We say 'technically' because, for Plotnik, a berry should be wild and easy to grow. A boysenberry is a perfect berry. A strawberry, on the other hand, is capricious and demands care. The plants don't spring up naturally, you have to want to work with them. If you want to get fruit they must be pruned and fertilized and pampered.

The bramble fruits don't care if you love them or not. All they need is sun. Strawberries are like the Lakers. They may surprise you with delicious victories, but it's more likely that they'll fold in the end. A bird may eat them. A large bird. A vulture. A vulture may devour the poor, defenseless, offenseless, stagnant but still ripe berry. Next year, the vulture will return, oi.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Interview with Dr. Daphne

This morning, TGP interviewed Dr. Daphne, whose new book "The Jungle Effect" is a fascinating read. According to Dr. Daphne, the four common features of successful diets around the world ("diet," as in the way people eat, not "diet," as in the way people try to lose weight), are: eating local grains, using local spices, eating fermented foods, and...get this: communal eating. Sharing meals together. Not watching TV when you eat, not eating in the car, not throwing a frozen pizza at the kids on the way to soccer practice. People whose traditions insist that they do these four things live longer and stay healthier, period, no matter which part of the globe they inhabit.

It has little to do with low fat or high fat (the diet in urban Iceland varies drastically from the diet in rural Indonesia), or meat or no meat, or lots of carbohydrates or few. What it does have to do with is minimizing processed foods and foods with additives, and avoiding cooking with processed oils (yup: olive oil works great. But Dr. Daphne, who was born in Israel, keeps a small container of lard by her stove, and uses a little from time to time. Wha-huhh? Well, she knows where the pig came from and she knows what it ate. Go figure.)

As far as The Great Plotnik is concerned, Dr. Daphne's most important statement is the one about joy. You have to enjoy your food. That's where communal eating comes in. What could be more pleasurable than preparing and sharing food with your family and friends?

Plotnik has long been a passenger on this train. It's nice to hear it's good for you too.

Of course...those veal chops last night probably contained more meat than a week's meals at Dr. Daphne's house. But, mmmmmmm. Garlic and rosemary from the garden! Olive oil from...well, Italy. Lettuce from, well, Modesto. Strawberries from, well, Watsonville. But the raspberries were from the back yard! Happy Plotties! Healthy Plotties!

("Plotties," not "Pilates".)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Came and Went

Father's Day came and went. Friends who recently lost fathers, and fathers who recently lost sons, had the day to reflect. Plot's friend The Great Dance-nik watched a lot of TV. Plot's friend The Wave of Groove tried not to think about Jasper. Plot himself was a little bit envious at some of his family getting together in Southern Shmalifornia to eat ribs and watching the Shmlakers, but then he heard Barack Obama talk about being a father, and then he and Duck went to a local restaurant where everyone brought their kids and it was pleasantly chaotic.

I suppose the way we tie this all together is that the father is the big, fat strawberry, and the child is the small, slender strawberry. Both have the same green hair and red skin. Both have the same, juicy sense of humor. But they're really not the same at all. The little strawberry does not want to climb into the same basket as the big strawberry, to be sold at the Farmer's Market to some bloated ex-hippie who will eat them both. This metaphor is going nowhere.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day from Brandy the Crack Whore and Julie the Jesus Freak

Last night's 5PM show of "Squeezebox" at the Marsh was really, really good. Plotnik suggests you think about seeing Ann Randolph perform this show at the Saturday 5PM slot (there are only two or three weekends left), which is over by 6:30, with lots of time left for walking down Valencia to either eat dinner or have a fine discussion with a street philosopher. Of the two: dinner is best. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of Squeezebox here, and we promise you'll love Brandy and Julie and the rest of 'em.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Meeting and The Cruise

Last night, Plot and Duck went to the home of an associate of Ducknik's. This very nice lady and her husband, and perhaps twenty other people, get together once a month, in their lovely early 20th Century home high on the flank of a foggy slope in Saint Plotniko, to talk about political issues.

But not to just talk: after dinner is cleared away, everyone is asked, one at a time, to mention a political issue that has been bothering them. After a small discussion, the next person around the table brings up his or her issue. When all have finished, paper and pens and addresses and envelopes are brought out and everyone is encouraged to write a letter to their appropriate congressperson or to the mayor or to the governor or to the President, giving their thanks or conveying their dismay, or simply voicing an opinion on an issue. At the end of the evening, perhaps 75 letters have been written. The hosts supply the stamps and people can feel like they've at least done SOMETHING.

The prevailing political slant around the table is Edwards with a shrug towards Obama.

(Plot and Duck had never been to the group before, and wondered what they should bring? They decided against wine, because who knows what progressives drink? It's a good thing they didn't bring wine because the hosts make their own -- an excellent cabernet, Plottie must add.)

(Plotnik decided a six pack of good beer would work. But what kind of beer? For himself, he would have bought Boont IPA, but instead he purchased the default Saint Plotniko beer, Anchor Steam.)

Plot and Duck were welcomed like old friends, even though nobody knew them and they knew only one person. Many of the men had gone to college when Plotnik went to college. Some of their bald spots were bigger than Plotnik's, some smaller. The women mostly wore black or white casual clothes and were trim and composed. Everyone seemed interesting and all had come to the meeting to try and find an avenue for political expression. There was one openly gay person with his poodle. There was one openly black person with his Nigerian cap. There were two infants and two people in their thirties. The rest were Plotnik and Ducknik's age, give or take a decade.

There were many educators, two architects and one entertainment writer -- this much we know. The others' occupations were unstated, but Plotnik doubts there were too many investment bankers.

A barbecue was charcoaling away in the back yard. By 8pm a huge spread was served: bbq chicken, ribs, tri-tip, polenta, salads (the host had grown some of the lettuce), chocolate truffles and ice cream with boysenberry sauce. Don't forget that excellent cab. After the magnificent dinner was cleared away, it was time to write letters.

No, Plotnik is not going to get all snarky and cynical here. What were you doing last night? At least, The Great Plotnik wrote a letter to Representative Mark Leno condemning the upcoming mandatory spraying of insect pheromones over Northern California, and he also wrote a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer asking her to support a bill in Congress to allow people receiving HIV medication not to have to have that medication count against their Medicare medicine allotment, which as of now is making it impossible for many to afford their lifesaving pills and supplements.

He wrote it in a cursive script he had forgotten he even had. It's been a long time since he wrote a real live letter and put it in a real live envelope with a stamp.

Ducknik also wrote letters, but Plot does not know to whom nor on which issues.

Does Plotnik think Rep Leno or Senator Boxer will ever see his letter? No. But he does think someone on the staff will glance at the letter, note the issue addressed and check off 'For' or 'Against' on some yellow legal pad, and in the end will tell his master or mistress which way the wind is blowing.


So, why did the evening, filled with great food and like-minded people in a beautiful, vibey home, with the opportunity to do some good, not leave Plotnik feeling like he had accomplished something...meaningful?

Maybe it's because he knows all he did was write two letters that will barely be glanced at. Maybe it's because he has always thought of himself as a leftie, but in this particular group of people he bit back several comments that would have placed him between Mayor Newsom and Ghengiz Khan.

For example, Plotnik thinks issues like immigration are a lot more complicated than "let's throw our borders open and allow everyone in." And he likes it when rich people want to donate their art collections and put them in a museum. Without Princes and Kings, there would have been no Bach, no Mozart, no Beethoven, no Matisse. So Donald Fisher is rich? Welcome him, for God's sake. In the end, he'll move his museum half a block away and they'll have a naming ceremony and he'll cut a ribbon while wearing a Gap Tuxedo. Then, he'll die. We'll have the art. Everybody wins.

Also, Plotnik does not think economists are all bad and hard working Colombian coffee farmers are all good. He just doesn't buy anybody's party line. God, he is starting to sound normal. What is probably true is that Plotnik doesn't do groups very well. He'd rather be the fly than the ointment.

But these were nice people. Their problem was they were Plotnik's age. If they're not kids anymore, Plotnik isn't a kid either. The Great Plotnik doesn't want to have gotten older.

He doesn't want his kids to grow up either. And he doesn't want his family to move further and further away. And he doesn't want his heart, as each year passes, to more and more miss the beautiful days and the glorious years, as they move further behind the boat as it cruises down the river of life, picking up speed, and he can't do a damned thing to stop it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Death of Mojo

Don't weep for me, Blogentina -- it was just a basketball game. Yes, losing one we had already placed in the win column was a blow, but, hey. The better team always wins close games.

And the Mojo is exorcised. No more sitting on the left foot with the right foot stuck straight forward, the video on during the commercials (not allowed to switch channels) but the audio off, the mute switch engaged with left hand index finger only, guitar picked up when rally is needed. Worked Tuesday. Didn't work Thursday. Adios, unfaithful Mojo.

Well, also &*!$$#^&*&$#^%&)!!!

OK, life goes on. All is motion. Change is in the air.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shoes, Pants and a Suit

Plotnik has been slapped with a few disheartening dreams lately. Sometimes he's back in Stiletto City, sometimes he's in Saint Plotniko, sometimes he's somewhere undetermined. But wherever he is, he is always searching for The Great Ducknik. He can't seem to find her, and when he finally does locate her, there is just something...undefinably wrong.

The day before yesterday, he woke up with one of these dreams fresh in his mind. He was unsettled. He walked out onto the deck as the sun was coming up, and he resolved that perhaps he had been unattentive to Ducknik...perhaps he had been concentrating too much on other things (re: Laker playoff games). The dreams were telling him to wake up to what was important.

So, when Plot and Duck opened the Morning Bird Wrap, and there were full page ads in every section for a one-day-only SALE! SALE! SALE at Macy's, and one of the items on sale was men's suits, and Ducknik had been after Plotnik for years to replace his barely-serviceable weddings-funerals-barmitzvahs-pin striped navy blue number that he had grabbed off Nordstrom's Rack ten years ago when he weighed considerably more than he does now, and Ducknik saw the ads, and suggested once again that Plotnik ought to go buy himself a new suit at the one-day only SALE! SALE! SALE!, all he said was: "Honey, if you'll go with me, I'll be glad to look for a new suit."

But here's the best part. Plot has NEVER, let us repeat, NEVER understood how it can take so long for women to buy an article of clothing, or why it is imperative to see EVERY item in the store after you already found something you like just fine. Ducknik, and The Great Domin-Nik, and The Great Dance-Nik, and Blonde Bombshell, and probably The Great Mush-nik though he can't really remember if she's in on it too, and several other of his female friends, have told Plottie to just shut his pie hole and realize their way of shopping is the best, in fact, the only way.

So Plot and Duck took Muni down to Powell, walked past a bum loudly puking out his guts on Ellis Street, I mean WHAAA CHAAAA WHAAA CHAAAAAAA WHAAA CHAAAAAA at maximum volume for the human voice box, so loudly in fact that the other bums were raising their grizzled heads from their blankets and scratching their stubble in a vaguely outraged post-Thunderbird dismay; and then the Plotniks got to the Macy's Men's Store and a woman smiled and shouted "Happy Father's Day, Sir!" as they took the escalator to the fourth floor.

Plot grabbed the FIRST dark suit he saw in his size and he said to Duck: "How about this?" Luckily, there was a sales girl there, and she said "It will look very fine on you, Sir." Duck was a bit nonplussed, but had to agree. Plot tried on the suit. He walked back outside the fitting room with his new suit on, pant legs dragging on the carpet, the sales girl sent over the tailor, the alteration marks were made, and Plotnik paid and they were DONE! DONE! ONE suit! ONE try-on! ONE purchase!


He should have kept his trap shut because now they had MORE time to shop for SHOES and PANTS, Christ. But he remembered his dream. He agreed on a pair of Eccos, and then the salesman said "if you apply for a Macy's card you get 20% off on everything you've purchased, including the suit, plus we can give you an extra $10 too, so why don't you buy the OTHER pair of shoes?

So he bought the Merrells too. OK, but still. Suit-wise: ONE try-on and ONE purchase. It CAN be done. Praise Macy's. As for the shoes and the pants, chalk it up to the dream, and thanks for the divine message.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Plotniks Make the Fridge

Every parent will find this truly amazing. The Plotniks have had their childrens' art work on their various refrigerators for many years. Now, the impossible has happened:

Look at that signature on the top pen and ink drawing: Sr K. As all Plotnikkies know, 'Sr. K.' stands for 'Mr. Plotnik' in Spanish, since we always use the last letter of our name. Now, look down to the signature on the bottom drawing: Ms. K. This stands for Mrs. Plotnik.

Yes, after many years, the Plotniks have finally made it up onto their own refrigerator. That's a lion you're looking at, in case you were wondering, and he's climbing on some bamboo. At least, that's what Plot and Duck were attempting to paint a few weeks ago when Plot accompanied Duck's 7th graders on a trip to the Asian Art Museum.

It feels good to be up there where everyone passing through the house can see one's own artwork. Of course, there isn't anybody passing through the house these days, but if there were, then they'd see, if they looked, which they damned well better.


As regards that other thing, there is no point in talking about the good things that happened last night, because the thing is hard to talk about, being that thing and all. That one guy, though, he is truly amazing, at putting that thing in the thing, you know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Something to Keep in Mind

Black Americans are fearful their country will not vote for a black president. This was one of the underlying reasons so many black Americans supported Hillary instead of Obama. The combination of 'America' with 'Black President' just did not compute.

Plotnik does not say this to denigrate Hillary, but to try to make Obamacons understand a potential trouble spot. If blacks don't give Obama a chance, they'll stay home. If they do, John McCain wins.

Plotnik understands how they feel. He was flabbergasted when Al Gore picked Joe Lieberman as his VP candidate in 2000 and he still thinks that selection cost Gore precious points with Americans who could not make themselves vote for a ticket with a Jew on it. Gore probably thought Lieberman would deliver Florida. Well, he did. But then again, he didn't. There has been little discussion about the Jewish angle in the debacle of the 2000 election, even among Jews.

But whereas Lieberman did nothing to bring credit to his people, nor did he spark the slightest discussion about the shape of Jews in 21st Century America, Obama will bring the discussion on race into the foreground, where it should be, where it should have been for the last two centuries. White Americans are uncomfortable talking out loud about their feelings about blacks and browns and Jews, but those feelings, both positive and negative, are real. Only by confronting them can we learn from them.

So whatever happens, this is a good thing. As for VP, if you want to win, just get down on your knees and pray Obama does not pick Carole Migden.

(for those of you who are not in Saint Plotniko, Carole Migden, ex-State Senator, now unemployed, possesses the rare Ethnic Hat Trick: she's female, Jewish AND gay.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Flo-Joe's Angry Cousin Mmm...

Remember Florence Joiner-Kersee? She was a terrific track athlete and her nickname was Flo-joe.

Know what starts with an M and rhymes with Flo-Joe? It's Flo-Joe's angry cousin Mmm, Mmm...we cannot name him. We cannot call him by name. Clearly, the basketball Gods are angry with us and we must assume it is because we have transgressed.

Maybe if the Celtics weren't a better team than the Lakers the first two games, we wouldn't be talking about Mmm right now, but hey.

Kobe does not look very happy, does he? Does anyone glimpse any hope here? Plotnik does. Yes, he does. Um hmmm, yes he does. Harrumph.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Rafanelli, Dutcher's Crossing and Unti

Today in Saint Plotniko it is beautiful, basketbally and bagelly. It's hard to beat the West Coast in May and June -- yesterday in Sonoma County it was low eighties, clear and sultry, a few fluffy clouds, bumblebees in and out of the lavender and roses.

Yesterday was annual pickup day at Rafanelli Winery, Plotnik's favorite vintner in all of Sonoma County. His friend The Great Zinfandini orders a case each year from Rafanelli and the Plotniks take three or four bottles and put them away. It won't be possible to taste the 2005 vintage, which was released last year, until 2110, and this year's 2006 pickup won't be opened until 2011. So it will be three more years until Plotnik can taste his wine, but not to worry. Last night Jim served a 2001 Rafanelli zin along with a Mauritzen zin of the same age, and, though the Mauritsen was very tasty, it can't touch the Rafanelli, which is like sucking down liquid velvet.

Sophia is not getting any less cute. She likes being upside down.

Karen hauled close to a full case out of Unti, another winery up the road, the next stop after Dutcher's Crossing, which was the next stop after Rafanelli.

The fact is, it took the Plotniks, along with Karen's sister Linda and Carrie, their Mom, so long to fight through the traffic and get to Sonoma, that they missed their half an hour window at Rafanelli. They caught up with the Zinfandinis at Dutcher's Crossing, a gorgeous spot out on Westside Road.

After that, it was pretty easy to get silly.

Plotnik is, by his very nature, far to cheap to be a wine afficionado. Yesterday he bought nothing except the Rafanelli he had ordered in advance. Wine prices are going up like everything else, and although Dutcher's Crossing had a delicious cabernet for $39, Plottie does not part easily with $39 for a bottle of wine. To wine people, $39 is mid-range, and perhaps it is. But a Boont IPA is $7 per six pack. Y'know?


A word about mojo: Last Thursday, Plotnik could not watch the game, due to another committment. He will not make that mistake tonight. He knows it was his fault the Good Guys are down 0-1. He hopes you will accept his apology and he will try to do better tonight.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Continuing Dialogue

Sister Great Dance-Nik is not the first woman friend to voice the opinion that men feel threatened by strong women. Plotnik doesn't agree and he doesn't think that he is in some kind of enlightened minority just because he doesn't get it.

Yes, he will admit that the soft side of a woman is almost always appealing to a man. Yes, he will admit that the classical 'female' traits of understanding, listening and supporting can be seductive to a man -- these are the characteristics in our mates we are brought up to seek out and savor.

We are trained to be the exact opposite -- stern, stalwart, a rock. Criminy, you have to be like that if you're going to get sent to war. We also know from experience that women love these traits in us, whether or not they like to admit it. Sensitive men are popular in books but in real life women often view a man's sensitivity as weak and undesirable. The jerkoff without the helmet on the motorcycle always has a woman on the back of the bike with her arms around his waist.

But that doesn't mean we don't recognize that humans are more complex than stereotypes, nor that in our weak moments we haven't felt shackled by ambition and drive in a woman.

It is true: some men want weak women. They go out and find them. Then, they spend their lives bitching about the little woman who can't balance her checkbook. And they probably grow up using in their daily conversation the very phrases that have driven women to distraction during the Democratic nomination campaign.

Want to know the constant every-minute-of-the-TV-day stereotype that drives Plotnik crazy? The stupid husband. He's too stupid to get a good buy on tires because he's too busy watching football on TV. He'll incinerate his family by putting too much bbq lighter on the fire. If it weren't for his wife, he'd have three trucks filled with beer. He is Fred Flintstone. He is Homer Simpson. So if you want to whine about stereotypes, Plotnik will whine right along with you.

In Plotnik's opinion, it is far too easy for women to say men are threatened by strong women. Plotnik doesn't know any of these men. They must be there, but he doesn't know any. We revere women with voices, with careers, with stories to tell and the courage to tell them. We also cherish their capacities as mothers, as nourishers, as companions and as buddies.

This is a healthy dialogue. Please keep commenting.


Friday, June 06, 2008

The HDS Backlash

So, after a mild, ah, discussion with The Great Ducknik this morning, Plotnik has to admit to his readers that the Gender Gap is real.

The subject was Hillary's Disaffected Supporters, which to Plotnik appears to mean women who became attached on many levels to Senator Clinton's campaign for the nomination. When this campaign did not achieve victory it served to kick up frustrations and angers that have long been lingering not that far under the surface.

It is not enough for Plotnik to simply repeat what he, and, he imagines, most men would want to say here: Someone has to win. Someone has to lose. He won. She lost. Stop whining.

Because we are not talking about the nomination, which is tangible. We are talking about what is intangible, all the slights and comments, many of them purposeful but just as bad when they are inadvertent, the burrs under the saddle that don't add up to much one by one but over the long haul begin to blister. Women have felt it and stayed quiet, but they are sick and tired of staying quiet. Blisters hurt, and then they fester.

(Plotnik knows he can't say 'whining.' He can't say 'emotional.' These are loaded words.)

(He can say 'asshole,' because that's only derogatory to men, and he can say 'tall and skinny,' which is how Barack Obama was described, and he can say 'he looks like a pencil with big ears,' because these aren't derogatory to men, but he can't say 'short and squat' because that is derogatory to women.)

(And he absolutely can't throw up his hands in frustration when this is explained to him and say "CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT?" because, yes, he'd better believe it.)

The Great Ducknik asks where are the women leaders? After Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and less than half a dozen female CEOs, where is the next generation who will provide the solidarity and the insistence that women's issues be dealt with fairly? The issues that were issues at the beginning of the women's movement are still issues today: unequal pay, government staying out of reproductive rights and men and women respecting each other's differences.

What Plotnik says is that this discussion has been advanced a hundredfold by the 2008 battle for the Democratic Nomination. Women's anger is being vented at husbands in bedrooms across America this very morning, and not just by Hillary supporters. The Great Ducknik stopped supporting Clinton when her campaign and her husband got too nasty, but this doesn't mean she abandons the cause.

If men still don't get it, they are going to have it explained to them. We don't like it, trust Plottie, but tough noogies. It's time to shut up, listen and learn.


Why a Mary Cassatt painting? No one in 1890 could recognize Mary Cassatt as a great painter because she painted domestic scenes. Women were basically ignored in the Impressionist world.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Friendly Birds, Panini and Senator Clinton

The Great Plotnik is very, very tired of hearing how misogyny brought down Hillary Clinton. He wonders how anyone can say she was brought down? She just did not win, that's all, and barely. Whether you like her or not, you can't help feeling lifted by what she accomplished.

It's been great to have The Great Finch-Nik and The Great Crow-Nik staying at World Headquarters this week. There have been the usual amount of grand meals consumed, including the still-perfect panini at Chef Pickle's Folio in Napa the day before yesterday. When you see the chef laying out the sandwiches before they are grilled, they don't look like all that much, do they? But Crow-Nik meant it when he looked up after three or four bites and said: "This may be the best sandwich I have ever eaten."

The weather has been squirrelly here, but, then again, it's nothing like what can take place in the rest of the country. A friend sent Plotnik this shot of the sky above Mississippi in the days right before Katrina.

Last thought about Hillary Clinton:

Plottie's own daughter has reprimanded him several times for being unsympathetic to the kinds of patronizing crap that women in general and Senator Clinton in particular have been forced to endure. Plotnik is being honest when he says: "What did anyone expect?"

Perhaps the racial Reverend Wright mess did not resonate with you because it is not your issue. Perhaps nasty cracks about Senator Clinton's weight or clothing did resonate with you because it is your issue. Maybe both bugged you, maybe neither. Either way, politics is not fair, it sucks eggs. You can choose to let this opt you out of the process, because your candidate has lost by a nose, or you can work hard to expel with the bottoms of both your feet the two men who have been reviled more than anyone else in recent memory for their shortcomings: George Bush and Dick Cheney.

The first is a moron and the second is a cruel liar -- have you ever heard that before? Just because we agree with these criticisms does not mean they are always given out fairly. They have gotten theirs. Hillary got hers. Barack has gotten his and McCain will get his right back.

Hillary Clinton will make nice, in the end, that's what politicians do. Plotnik just hopes the entire dialog about gender and race has been pushed further into the frontal lobe of the national discussion. If that's so, then all of Senator Clinton's loyal supporters can feel proud that their candidate accomplished something far more important than the results of one primary election.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Let's Get to Work

Barack Obama's speech last night, after he clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination, was about America. It was not about himself or about being mixed-race or about having arisen from nowhere to knock off the front runner. He had conciliatory and complimentary things to say about Hillary Clinton and fighting words for John McCain. It was the speech we wanted to hear.

Hillary Clinton's speech, after she realized she had lost the nomination, was all about her, about her mission and how hard she and her campaign had worked. She had a few perfunctory things to say about Obama and then asked her supporters to email her and tell her what to do next. The Great Plotnik hopes many say: "OK, Senator Clinton, we love you, you're our shining example, you're great. But you came in second. It's time to get on the bus or get off the bus."

Plottie believes an Obama-Clinton ticket would be unbeatable. But he is afraid an Obama-Clinton administration would be unworkable, with Bill Clinton the fat fly in the ointment, tossing his divisive statements into the ring every chance he got. They're going to have to work that out before she can ever come on board. The idea of making Bill Clinton Ambassador to Antarctica is not a bad one.

Hillary may prefer to stay off the bus. She may prefer to stand on the sidelines and snipe. She may prefer to stay silent during this election and wait for 2012.

Or not. What Hillary will do is her business. What The Great Plotnik knows for certain is that there has not been an American politician in his lifetime as skilled as Barack Obama in giving inspiration to those in this country who wish to unite to become stronger. Plottie was not born during FDR's time, but Obama is probably the closest thing to him.

Ideology is dead. Liberals and Conservatives all share parts of each other's traditional terrain. What everyone wants is to stop squabbling about flag pins and where conception begins and begin solving the problems that have come to define us: Immigration. Universal Health Care. Racism and Education Reform. Election Reform.

That last one might be a good place to start. This election has gone on a year too long already. Will it come down to who has the most money to spend on inane TV commercials? Is this what we are about as a country?

Barck Obama may turn out to be a great president or a lousy president, you never know. It's a long time until November, and Junior stays in power until January, no matter what happens. Dick Cheney might yet talk DimBulbya into another war.

Can't do anything about that one. But we can put our efforts where they have a chance to pay off. The Great Plotnik is on the bus. It's time to get to work.