The Great Plotnik

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Jalapeno and the Taco

Why is the jalapeno chile chasing the hard shell taco? How did the chile acquire that weapon? Why is the taco wearing glasses? Are they running away from the US or towards the US? Is this a failed drug deal? Did the taco try to slip in a serrano or a pequin or a habanero instead of the jalapeno? Did the jalapeno crack after hearing one too many "Hey girl, you hot!" jokes?

Note that the taco is wearing pants but the jalapeno isn't. Note also that although the taco is running for his life, his lettuce and tomatoes seem to be staying put. And lastly, pay close attention to the jalapeno's sombrero. It doesn't have a top, just a hole where the top of the jalapeno's hairless head sticks through.

It appears to be warm out, but only the jalapeno is sweating, though that may be the nature of this particular chile bandido. And, clearly, anatomically speaking, the chile does not appear to be female, but she appears to be getting so much pleasure out of this chase that any interpretation is possible.

You can do further research by walking into Taco Loco on 29th and Mission. While doing your work, try the caldo de res or the huevos rancheros or the best carnitas in town.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

BART or Drive? Drive or BART?

Oh man, the Plotzers are not only through for the year, they may not win another game until Spring Training. True, a 40-game losing streak may be asking for a lot, but this team seems capable of it.

In the meantime, Plot and Duck took BART to Berkeley last night to see Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" at the Aurora Theater. Both the Aurora and Berkeley Rep next door are wonderful venues for theater, small (Aurora) and small-ish (Berkeley Rep) spaces in new buildings, with terrific sightlines and sound, and both are only one block from the Downtown Berkeley BART stop.

Plot and Duck have the same discussion each time a Berkeley play comes up. It goes like this:

"What time do we have to leave the house?"

"If we drive, around 7. If we take BART, around 6:40."

"What if we hit traffic?"

"We're screwed. But what if the train breaks down?"

"We're screwed either way."

"What about coming home?"

"We have to take a Fremont train and transfer to the Saint Plotniko train at Macarthur."

"What if we can't find a place to park in the BART lot?"

"We'll be in the car. We can always just drive."



"So let's drive."

They usually do. Well always, until last night. As it turned out, Plot found the last spot at the BART station in Glen Park, so it took around the same time to get to Berkeley as it would have to drive. But it was twice as long returning. Also, four trips cost exactly $15 on BART, while driving would cost just about the same if you include wear and tear and a $4 toll on the Bay Bridge.

Driving, you get to feel like a selfish stooge because you're using up gas and public transportation is easily available. Taking the train, you get to feel like a stupid goody two shoes because you're standing up waiting for your train in the BART station at 10:30, listening to women blathering on their cell phones ("She said what? SHUT the F*** UP!"), when you could be half way home in your car.

But it was fine. Plot says he'll take the train again next time too, but maybe you shouldn't believe him completely. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of "The Best Man" here, but get ready for Kerry versus Bush all over again, except Vidal wrote this show in 1960.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Finally. A Leader With a Big Brain and a Voice Like Butter.

Plot and Duck sat around the TV last night, eating their supper and watching Barack Obama accept the nomination for President and give a speech that, although it will convince nobody who is not already convinced, had elements of greatness in it. It wasn't a perfect speech. He's not a perfect man. But this is the one person who has an opportunity to create a brand new kind of country. He may not pull it off. But he may. He has a chance.

What does a President do, really? He inspires people. He pulls legislators from his party into the Congress on his coat tails. He convinces overseas leaders not to try too many funny tricks. He is the emblem that we display around the world, that says: This is who we are. This is how we feel. This is how we behave.

For eight years, half the American people (and more, if you believe the stories finally emerging about the failed voting machines in the Midwest) have had to grit our teeth and say: "Sorry. I didn't vote for that numbskull. He's not my leader. That's not my America."

But here's the thing: At the same time, the other half of America has looked at George Bush and said: "Well, maybe he hasn't done a perfect job, but it's still better than a Democrat would have done."

Lee Iacocca, who was President of Chrysler in the 1980s, once wrote that the best endorsement for a new car always comes from people who have owned the car for 30 days. They can't admit they made a mistake, because the 30 day Free Return warranty has passed, so they've convinced themselves they got a steal and bought the perfect vehicle. Sell 'em a Valiant, give 'em 30 days, and they'll think they've purchased a Rolls Royce.

This is where we are right now in America, despite five amazing speeches at the Democratic Convention, by Michele Obama, Ted Kennedy, Hillary and Bill Clinton and by Obama himself. Most of the Blue half is excited about change, and most of the Red half cannot admit to themselves that they made a terrible choice, despite what they teach their own children -- that if you work hard and do well you will be rewarded and if you don't or can't do the job you deserve to let someone new try. The thirty day warranty has been expired for almost eight years, but they will vote for a Republican candidate again.

The country is in worse shape than anyone younger than 90 can remember. Still, most Republicans will not vote for Obama. John McCain just nominated a former runnerup for Miss Alaska for Vice President! Can anyone believe this? She'd be one heartbeat away from the Presidency of a man who is 72 years old. Competence? Pshaw, it's overrated. And still, most Republicans will not find it possible to pull the lever to vote for a Democrat.

So Barack and Michele and his kids may win and they may lose. That's the way it is. There will be many pundits punditing and pollsters pollstering and in the end the election will be close. At the very end, the government will announce some terror threat or a pullback of a few troops or they'll get the oil companies to lower gas prices a dime or two a gallon, and the election will get even closer.

This is all to be expected, and both parties pull the same tricks. The only thing that matters to The Great Plotnik, right now, is that in August of 2008 he feels proud of his country. He is inspired again. He is hopeful again. He sees someone running for president whose daddy doesn't run an oil company, whose parents are not Harvard bluebloods, who has not lived his entire life on the inside of privilege. He can inspire us, if we care to be inspired. He can imbue us with confidence. Above all, he has the personal experience to understand the world as it is. So he can least right a few of the wrongs that stain us, confuse us and ultimately divide us.

Barack Obama is not Jesus folks. He's just a man. Let's get to work. Over and out.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Schnapps for Ol' Fred Ebb

Ooooh, it's fun to see a great 'Cabaret' in a small theater. You've got until September 20 to see this one at SF Playhouse. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review here, and remember to sit in the front and order at least one glass of strong red. Come blow your horn, start celebrating. Right this way, your table's waiting.

Sure, WE know that you can buy a bottle of Fat Cat Zinfandel at Trader Joe's for $4.95 that costs you $6 a glass at the theater, but so what? You cling to that wine like Linus to his blanket and God help Snoopy if he tries to yank it.

Yes, WE know the cast acts better than it sings and sings better than it dances, but so what? These are tiny flaws when compared to the power of sitting up close and smelling the flowers of that long ago world that was so deserving -- Berlin is dead, and we don't mean Irving.

OK, from Plotnik to the master: the late and lamented Fred Ebb. His most famous song is "New York, New York," but try this one on for size, from "Money Makes the World Go 'Round":

If you haven't any coal in the stove
And you freeze in the winter
And you curse on the wind at your fate
When you haven't any shoes on your feet
And your coat's thin as paper
And you look thirty pounds underweight.
When you go to get a word of advice
From the fat little pastor
He will tell you to love evermore.
But when hunger comes a rap,
Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat at the window
See how love flies out the door...

Money makes the world go 'round
The world go 'round, the world go 'round
Money makes the world go 'round
That clinking, clanking sound
It makes the world go 'round.

Or, from 'Chicago':

Razzle Dazzle

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bread and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting ?
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll never catch wise!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous
Row after row will grow vociferous
Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Throw 'em a fake and a finagle
They'll never know you're just a bagel,
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll beg you for more!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Turn to Face the East

Life is like a game of baseball, unless you're a Plotzer fan. It's hard to believe they can have gone as far South as they have. But it happens every year. Wonder why that is?

It ought to be eating Plotnik up more than it is. For some reason, it just doesn't seem all that important to see another August come to an end with Plottie's favorite team falling out of contention, again, like they do every year. Ho hum.

The Great PD Family will be waiting at their door, a week from yesterday, when the moving van shows up at their house. Then they have another week in Stiletto City, and then they're coming to Saint Plotniko for a few days, as they while away the time until their stuff gets back to The Big Shmapple. They'll fly out from here, with poor ol' Mischief in a crate with the suitcases. Mischief as luggage. I hope somebody doesn't pack their pet squirrel down there too.

The Great BZWZ is all moved in to her new apartment in Providence. Everything is changing direction. The sun still rises in the East. That's good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hi BZ, Food and Doors

Hi BZWZ. They put up a sign in your honor next to Floorcraft.

Meanwhile, as miserable as Sunday was, as everyone knows who has ever had to Drink the Gallon, when you think you'll never want to put anything in your stomach again, and you're sure you've eaten your last bite of food 'til the end of only lasts until the test is over Monday.

After the Doctor says "You're good to go! No problems! See you in ten years!" (or at least that's what Ducknik says the doctor said, because Plotnik was still pretty groggy), everything changes. After a short nap at home, The Great Plotnik woke up H O N G R Y ! !

First stop was St. Francis Diner in the Mission, where the waitress said: "You really have to try our bacon/cheddar/green onion pancakes."

"Sure, you bet!" said Plotnik.

They really were delicious. Ducknik had chile and Plotnik ate some of that too, poured on top of the pancakes. The leader of a minor Western religion shoveled it all in like Bigfoot.

The first thing he said on the way home, after a stop at Beronio to buy a piece of wood to fix the ancient new downstairs door...

...was "What do want for dinner tonight?"

The answer was a feast: BBQ salmon, brown saffron rice with pine nuts, red beans with tomato and chile, cabbage salad, homemade mango/ginger chutney and mango raita (mangoes on special by the box this week).

About that door. Once again in "We Can Do That!" mode, it took Plot and Duck the entire day Sunday to mount it (and it still has to be taken down again and painted). You would think that all you'd have to do is pop off the old door, set it on the ground...

...then put on the new door, and Zingo.

No no no no no. The new door, which was scrounged from the scrap lumber yard and needed lots of love and care from Ducknik, is more than 100 years old, like the old door, and the two are different sizes and the doorway is not square. (It probably never was square, and in the 115 years since the house was built there have been many earthquakes and land movements and there are no rectangles in Saint Plotniko, only trapezoids.) Also, the old screws in the old hinges were rusted and couldn't be moved. Other issues too. All day, it took. Plot and Duck could have paid $150 to have Handy Mike hang the door. They could have. Yes, they could have.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Four Liters Later Pete Happy Hits a Home Run

Well, it's Monday afternoon and Plotnik is home from a not so friendly medical test, the one where they stick the thing, you know, yukkk.

Having to drink all that liquid yesterday, 4 liters in 4 hours would have been bad enough, but the Plotzers were also giving away a game to the Phillies at the same time. Gross in the extreme. Pedro Feliz took care of the rest of Plottie's misery.

Now, just a nap to make things right.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicken Shawarma

Plot and Duck saw "Grey Gardens" last night in civilized Mountain View. As always, they found a parking spot next to a nice restaurant a two minute walk from the Performing Arts Center. This is one terrific place to see a show. The chicken shawarma was very good too.

You might want to read The San Francisco Theater Blog Review here before you purchase your tickets.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden His Time

Plottie is happy to see Joe Biden's picture up there on top (and thanks to The Great Mushnik for the photo). He was Plotnik's favorite candidate of them all when the race for the nomination was still going on and it's very cool to see a ticket with two people on it that are totally capable of running the country in their own right.

It's easy to see Biden's best campaign tactic, which they'll never use but should: "Remember that the VP is a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Imagine this world if the last two Republican VPs had actually taken over -- Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney. Now how do Obama and Biden look to you?


Friday, August 22, 2008

They've Got it!

Phone call from The Great PD this morning, on his way with Isabella to the airport in Stiletto City, to say that he had just heard from The Great 5H, on the Long Island RR on her way to the airport in The Big Shmapple, both of them planning to meet up in Chicago this afternoon. "We've got it," she said and then the phone call was obliterated by static.

This appears to mean that the landlord has accepted their humble application to pay gobs of rent for a nice apartment in Brooklyn for approximately one year. Although Plotnik has not been able to talk with poor FiveHead yet, who is certain to have had a roller-coaster week trying to make sense of the looniness that is the Big Shmapple Apartment Rental world (however, BZWZ reports she and 5Head did manage to get in some shoe shopping), it sounds like she has found them a terrific place with several bonuses.

1) The Great BZWZ's old friend Simoney lives right across the street! This means Plottie and Duck AND BZ can descend on Brooklyn at the same time and BZ can stay with Mo-knee right across the street. Very nice.

2) Terrific subway connections for all subway lines. In the Shmapple, it appears that closeness to many subways is the prime consideration when looking for a place to live.

3) A yard for Mr. Mischief and a ten minute walk to Prospect Park, which is Brooklyn's large urban green space a la Central Park in Manhattan.

4) Yoga and coffee in the next block.

5) Extra bonus: 5H just got hired for a job during their last week in Stiletto City, which will pay enough to offset some of the extra rent they will pay to have three bedrooms, two floors, a yard and a safe neighborhood with yoga and coffee.

Brooklyn! When Plottie drove a cab in the Shmapple the cab dispatchers always warned drivers to never go to Brooklyn. It was illegal not to take someone wherever they wanted to go, but drivers in Manhattan then, and perhaps still now, consistently kept their doors locked, and if a passenger said he wanted to go to Brooklyn, the driver would speed away, calling back "I don't go to Brooklyn." The reason was he could pick up ten fares in Manhattan in the same time it took to drive to Brooklyn.

This led to a great old taxi joke. A man hails a cab at Rockefeller Center and tells the driver to take him to London. The cabbie says: "OK, but it'll cost you $100,000." The man forks over $100,000 in cash, and the cabbie drives to the airport, pays for the cab to be put aboard an airplane and when they land in London, the cabbie and the passenger, still in the back seat of the cab, drive off the plane and over to the man's address in Trafalgar Square.

The passenger gets out of the cab and thanks the driver, but before the driver can speed away, another man runs up to the cab and cries out! "Fantastic! An American taxicab! What excellent luck! Please, my good man, take me to Brooklyn."

"I don't go to Brooklyn," says the cabbie.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just Go Blog, Dad

Whatever this plant is, it has been getting bigger and bigger since the Spring when Plotnik found it growing in the asparagus patch. It's definitely not asparagus. If anyone recognizes it and can tell Plottie either its name (not "Plantie" or "Ed" please) or how much larger it's going to get, he would be grateful.

Early this morning Plot and Duck saw their avocado tree watering itself -- one of those Bay Area phenomena that make this microclimate so interesting. Large trees capture the huge nightly amounts of fog, hold the moisture in their leaves and then at some point let it all drop below. The sun was already up but the area under the avocado was soaked like after a cloudburst.

These lilies didn't mind a bit.

The Great Ducknik is on the phone with The Great PD, who is packing his and his wife's clothing for a trip to Chi-town this weekend, where a long time friend is getting married. 5H is still in Brooklyn, trying to find the family an apartment, so PD called Ducknik to ask how to pack 5H's party dresses the best way.

Plottie said: "When I pack my party dresses, I always ball them up and wad them in my tennis shoe."

"Thanks, Dad. Now just go blog, OK?" said PD.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

At the Home of William Largepants

Yesterday, The Great Mushnik and Silent Bill took The Great Ducknik out to lunch to celebrate Ducknik's birthday, which took place while Plottie was in Nashville. The first part of the day was spent on the Haight Ashbury Famously Famous Poets Tour, where a picture was taken in front of William Largepants's graciously gracious Big Yellow House.

Lunch at Cha Cha Cha was delicious, although all four people ended up ordering the same thing, which ought to be illegal. But before anyone could eat, a troublesome question needed to be answered: can this car possibly fit in this parking place? Plotnik said 'Sure! Easy!' but that was before Mush said: 'Why don't you park it then?' Turned out he was right, but with only a few inches to spare on both sides.

Earlier, Plottie took a picture of the Great JackyWhack on the ladder in his Space Invaders outfit. Painters spend a lot more time getting ready to paint than they do painting. Using a brush must be the enjoyable part, but it only comes after many days of standing on a ladder in close quarters breathing in the fumes from a stinking heat gun to melt off old paint so you can scrape it away. Jack's a detail guy -- exactly who you want doing all that prep work. He also looks good in that mask, in case he needs to knock over a convenience store on on the way home from work.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rediscovered Corrido

After exchanging a few notes with She of Poetic Romances this morning, Plotnik uncovered an old love song, written after The Great PD and family took Plot and Duck to a Lila Downes concert in Stiletto City a few years ago. It's a Northern Mexican waltz-time corrido -- you sing one verse, put down the accordion, knock back a tequila, then pick the accordion back up and sing another verse.

My Toledo Corrido

We met at a dance in Toledo
Where factories soar to the skies
We danced to Aztlan Mariachi
And I saw the stars in your eyes
Sometimes I don’t think about you
But most times it’s useless to try
It’s hard to sing this in English
In Spanish it’s easier to cry

So here’s my Toledo Corrido
With old fashioned passion and salsa and soul
Here’s to these failed romances, when sad circumstances
spin out of control
Here’s to my sweet mariposa
Here’s to tequila and lime
It’s hard to sing this in English
In Spanish it’s easier to cry

You were born here in Toledo
But I was as legal as crime
We didn't speak too much Spanish
We just took it one word at a time
Beautiful butterfly resting
But I knew one day you would fly
It’s hard to sing this in English
In Spanish, it’s easier to cry

So here’s my Toledo corrido
With old fashioned passion and salsa and soul
Here’s to these failed romances
when sad circumstances spin out of control
Here’s to the woman I cherished
Here’s to tequila and lime
It’s hard to sing this in English
In Spanish it’s easier to cry

Alzo mi copa, y canto
A un baile, yo te conoci
Tornamos a Aztlan Mariachi
Celestes en tus ojos, yo vi
A veces, mi corazon duerme
Sin exprimirme en llorar
En Ingles, mas prefiero cantarte
Castellano me quiere matar

So here’s my Toledo Corrido
Con pasion anciana, salsa y corazon
Here’s to romanzas quebradas
Con vidas chifladas, dolor y pasion
Here’s to sonrisas tan dulces
Here’s to tequila and lime
It’s hard to sing this in English
In Spanish, it’s easier to cry


DAK 2-18-06 (Thank you, Lila Downes)


Monday, August 18, 2008

A Clip For the Ages - NOT!

As far back as Plottie can remember, he has never seen a catch like this one. Please play the short clip to the end and make sure to listen to the announcers. Ladies, you're a-gonna love this too.

But now read the accompanying comments, and you, like The Great Plotnik, will realize just how easily we can all be duped. Plot's eyes told him it wasn't possible for this woman to do what she did, and his common sense told him no left fielder would just stand there dumbfounded and watch her do it and was so wonderful, he was willing to suspend his disbelief.

And it's all phony, one more scum-soaked lie from an ad man's gray heart. Jeez, it makes ya sick. Plottie will certainly never buy a bottle of Gatorade again.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Only a Phone Call Away

Tonight, Plot and Duck were talking with Isabella on the phone. "Bompa," she said, and "Bobwa," and "Yah" when Duck asked her if she'd gone to the beach and "Yah" when Plot asked her if she'd had her swimming lesson yesterday. When she got off the phone, Plot said to PD: "I'm really gonna miss that."

PD said: "You can have that anytime you want."

He's right, of course. When you talk on the phone, what's the difference if you're across town or across the country? Plot's three favorite young ladies will still be only a phone call away.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Return to a New Old House

The Great Plotnik arrived home last night, so dead tired and emotionally wrung out that he could barely appreciate what World Headquarters looks like now, with the old aluminum siding gone and the borders of the Victorian trim that once adorned the house now exposed. After five and a half days (shall we count the hours and minutes?) of working with his old partner Mr. Wave, Plottie has come home feeling like his house looks, threadbare and needing a few new coats of paint.

Not to make more of it than it is, but although Plotnik had actually dropped his coffee cup in the trash by mistake and was trying to reach in to remove it, a closer reading of the shot calls up the true metaphor of the entire week. Plot knew he would be descending into Hell but hadn't remembered how hot it is down there.

Not that there weren't a lot of fun moments. The musicians all came over to hang around, including Philosopher Phunque himself, Brother Virgil, posing with a smiling Plottie and Wave. Also, Bobby Cochrane, phenomenal guitar player, posed with Leigh Robbins, the studio owner's wife, who sang backups as well as prepared chocolate chip muffins and generally helped to keep things loose.

Zach Morse, the bass player, is going to be a star. Keep your ears open for this guy.

Here's the gorgeous little Butterfly Wurlitzer electric piano. Think of Ray Charles's famous piano riff on 'What'd I Say?'

The bench to the Yamaha Grand was only two feet from Plotnik's bed. And the rack of accordions and African instruments. And the rack of the most pristine guitars.

Franklin, Tennessee is a beautiful place, half an hour South of Nashville. It's a bit plastic for Plotnik, with everyone living in gated communities with gated ponds and gated freaking ducks, but if you want a large house to put your recording studio in, you can certainly get one.

The absolute best part of the trip was meeting Brian, on the right, and Austin on the left.

While Plotnik was asking himself the obvious question: "Why are all my old collaborators always control freaks who eventually drive me insane?", he couldn't give it too much thought because of Brian and Austin. Both these guys have had in their young lives enough misfortune and misery to put Plottie to shame for every second he gives up to his own pitiful boo hoo hoos. Brian has been confined to a wheel chair since he was 17, but you would never know it except for the wheels. Austin's body was burned so badly at 19 that he was in a coma for several days and emerged months later, after many ghastly and painful skin grafts, with a serious morphine addiction. Both men not only don't complain, EVER, but laugh about life. "Patience," they each say. That's what they learned. Plottie really ought to listen closer.

The unanswered question is: Is there a finished product? Plotnik doesn't know. It's almost done, he guesses. The Wave will finish it himself in Aspen next week, unless he thinks of something else he wants to try. The songs are beautiful, and they are done for sure. Plot has been promised a finished CD by next week or so.

Will we have biscuits and gravy? Or just biscuits? Or just gravy? Plotnik doesn't really know. Right now, he doesn't much care. He needs sleep.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ready for Withdrawal

This has been the longest week in years, but today is it. The plane leaves at 5:55 and Plottie will be on it, landing in Oakland, hopefully, by 9:45pm. He has no idea if he'll have any completed CDs or not. It's all down to the wire.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Strange Order at the Supermarket

Plotnik was probably the only one in Franklin, Tennessee, who left the Publix Market last night with mint tea, fresh mint, alka-seltzer and a pound of pork bbq.

The stay in Nashville has been extended one day, in order to finish.

This word processor hates The Great Plotnik and everything he stands for. Plotzer fans, maybe Plotnik should stay out of town.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Gibbon and the Pork Plate

It's the flu, not the Chinese restaurant. Yesterday was bad, but today is a little better. The music sounds great, though it is filtered through a headache that starts under Plottie's eyebrow and ends up somewhere in his cranium.

Plotnik is old-school, friends, as you all know. He has always believed melodies and lyrics are all that matters, but he is learning to really tip his hat to the production folks who have learned how to tweak this very complicated software.

Yesterday, when Plotnik was feeling particularly punk, he found himself next to a barbecue stand. That pork plate with coleslaw and corn muffin was very, very good, once he felt hungry enough to eat it, which was late last night.

OK. When Plot threatens again to buy a MacBook laptop, someone remind him how many times it has taken him to type this blog entry. Apple's word processing is for gibbons.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trees for Arms

We're getting an early start this morning, it's 9:30 and the machines are running. It's hot today -- you break out in a sweat when you walk outside, and it's early yet. The Mix is on schedule, it seems at least possible that Thursday morning will be the day everything gets put together. Who knows?

Olympic swimmers and gymnasts have something else in place of normal arms and shoulders. You can't listen to the commentators, though.

Plotnik knew this week would be difficult, and it has been so.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Avoid the Lo Mein

Plotnik decided to pick up a container of Chinese food for dinner last night, since the other guys in the studio are all eating various versions of Studio Grub. Plus, they all smoke. But he should have stuck with the pork rinds, because last night his stomach was in an uproar. His little bed next to the grand piano became a thrashing hell hole, and since he had forgotten all his sundries back in Saint Plotniko, he couldn't even uncover an Advil. Yuk-o.

ThIs 'new' way of recording sucks eggs. It's terribly boring. Plotnik sits while Wave of Blue and Brian, the engineer, and Austin, who is Brian's assistant, do various tasks to various sounds. Yesterday, Brother Virgil, who is the star of The Perfect Pitch, came over to do a little more recording. In the old days, you set up a mike, and the performer performed. When he was done, you had one or two takes to choose from, and you used one or the other, and that was that.

Now, he makes 50 passes at line one, and 50 passes at line two and 75 passes at line three. When he's done, Austin has to listen to every take and sync its wave form into the correct wave program and it takes hours and hours. Austin's happy to have the work, but what he says is right: Computers have made our lives faster but not easier.

Ah, coffee! Plotnik enthused this morning. Wrong. It's, like, almond or hazlenut or some putrid imitation. He never thought he would dream of a Starbucks, but there you have it.

Progress? Oh, who knows? Plotnik can hear the songs in the other room, being played and diced and analyzed and futzed with and he guesses that must mean progress. The truth is he would rather be home peeling off the aluminum siding, and that's saying something.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Candy Store in Nashville

Plotnik went to sleep late last night on a bed next to a 8' concert grand piano, next to a rack of vintage guitars, next to a rack of banjos and mandolins, next to a classic Wurlitzer Baby Butterfly electric piano, and that says nothing about the accordions. This is a candy store, folks.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Mr. Chun is Done

Plotnik never noticed all those phone and electric wires before, until he looked at this picture. But Mr. Chun is done, the roof is finished. Today, Mike the Handyman is starting in on the aluminum siding. Underneath may be a disaster. Or not. Probably a combination of the two.

No laptop in Nashville, but the Wave of Blue has one. Plot is taking his camera and cable, also several pairs of shorts and lots of t-shirts.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Rubbed in Garlic and Pepper, and a New Language

There are times when only a steak will do. This boneless rib is sitting on the turned-off grill on top of a piece of pita bread, so the juices from the steak will soak into the bread.

Actually, there were two.

Plot and Duck ate one, along with a salad with Plottie's Not-Too-Famous and Not-Quite-Russian Dressing, with some tomatoes from the pots on the deck, and the second steak will hopefully be there when lunchtime crawls along.

Sorry, NotThat.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chun is on the ladder right outside Plotnik's studio. He is working with a young Latino helper, and the two of them are communicating in a language never before heard on Earth. Mr. Chun understands English well, but he speaks with a very thick accent, of the sort that makes Duck and Plot listen to him with great concentration and then stare at each other with narrowed eyes until one or the other indicates that he or she has understood anything at all that Mr. Chun just said. Patience is important.

Plotnik has discerned that Mr. Chun's Central American helper speaks no English at all, and yet he and Mr. Chun appear to be shouting to each other in a language they both understand perfectly. It sounds like Koreanly syntacted Englishly seasoned Polyglot Gruntlish. Mr. Chun grunts and his helper brings him a rope. Mr. Chun grunts again and his helper brings him the rain gutter. Mr. Chun grunts once more and his helper laughs. Ha ha, good joke, Mr. Chun. Everybody's happy.

Best of all, Mr. Chun is a great roofer and a very nice man. He was probably highly educated in his own country. In only two days plus a few hours the roof is just about done. And the living language expands.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Hole in the Ceiling but So Far That's All

The new roof on the front half of World Headquarters is half done. Maybe this is the guy who stepped through BZWZ's ceiling.

It's loud but basically painless inside. The insulation has remained up in the attic, on top of which the crew is doing a lot of work that Plotnik is glad he hasn't had to do. After the roof goes on (supposedly to be finished tomorrow) comes aluminum siding removal, which starts this weekend. Then comes scaffolding and painting.

Duck is busy out back stripping the old paint off the new old door. Plot is on the phone with the Wave of Groove, stripping the old excess off the new old play. Everything is in its place.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Breakthrough in the Middle of the Night

...too bad these things don't happen during daylight, because Plotnik would get a lot more sleep. He was up by 5, writing down what had been churning in his pea brain all night long. It's all about the Opening Song for the Perfect Pitch.

"Simplify, Dude, that's all you have to do," said the Muse. "OK," Plotnik agreed, and then the roofers arrived at 7AM with the ladders.

It sounds like inside a bass drum in here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Next Week in Nashville

Plottie is preparing for his week in Nashville, beginning this upcoming Saturday. His purpose is to help with the final mixdown session for The Perfect Pitch. Here is what he's afraid of:

1) Contradictions, distractions, disturbances, personal foibles and squabbles.

2) Work hours that last longer into the early morning than make any sense, thereby destroying all good musical judgements.

3) A cadre of old and young rock and rollers, friends and once-members of Plotnik's partner The Wave of Blue's band, who may want to recreate the Good Old Daze.

4) The reality that when Plotnik insists they all stay on point and try to concentrate, to finish one song and then move on to the next, so this project can finally and mercifully get finished, he will be viewed as the school marm with a stick up his butt.

5) The suggestion, apparently already made to The Wave of Blue, that it wouldn't be a bad idea to write in and record a new part for the studio owner's girl friend.

6) Not finishing after all, because of "I've got another great new idea!" The Wave of Blue is a creative guy but sometimes doesn't know the difference between a good new idea and an Are You Freaking Kidding? new idea. This is what caused Plotnik to jump off the train 25 years ago. This is still his greatest nightmare.

What The Great Plotnik wants is to walk in the door at World Headquarters a week from Thursday night with two CDs in his hand: one of the finished play, and one of the finished songs, in order, start to finish, Philosopher Phunque to Everybody Wins. If he can only manage one CD, make it the latter. Just the music, mixed and ready to be mastered. He wants to at long last sit in his office, put his feet on his desk and listen to "Is There Anybody There?" and "On Our Planets," and "Tryin' To Survive," and "Solid Ground," and "The Computer Song," and "Life is Like a Game of Baseball," and of course "Body, Body, Party, Party" and all the others. He wants to feel proud of what he and The Wave of Blue have accomplished.

He can unclench his jaw when he gets home, and deal with the stick. Two CDs, please.

Monday, August 04, 2008

More Shots from Stiletto

A few more photos from last week in Stiletto: The Great FiveHead worked on a Chevy commercial, so she rented a Chevy for a few days. It was the only car in the neighborhood not from Japan, Sweden or Germany.

It was a perfect evening at the Observatory for a picnic and a little nostalgia.

Kamara and BZ were spotted doing yoga in Mummy P's living room. Then, they made up for it by making a fabulous dessert.

Mummy P. ate up two bowlsfull.

Paula Bear and Shmeckl were just back from Alaska.

The Great BZWZ took out Plotnik's guitar and played through all her new songs. It was a wonderful half hour to see and hear his girl play and sing so easily, and to discover she has such a gift for melody. It wasn't that long ago that the guitar looked like a sack of bricks on her lap but now she's comfortable and it sounds that way too.

The last morning in Stiletto, Plot, Duck and Kamara got to go see The Great PunkyDunky produce his news show live at KCRW.

Right on schedule, in the middle of the show the floors and walls shook. A guest was talking on the phone from Kabul but nobody was listening to him anymore, including the moderator, who was begging off-mike for the production crew to come up with information about whatever had just transpired. Everyone down in the radio bunker stared at CNN's National feed on the TV monitors to find out about the earthquake that had just happened on the street upstairs.