The Great Plotnik

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Land of the Lego

Flying out of Stiletto City yesterday morning, a little boy was staring out the window of the plane. When the 737 banked so he could stare straight at the endless tracts of houses below, he said: "Daddy! Look at all the Legos!"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belly, Madonna and a Perfectly Balanced Traveler

Belly's got a new coat. To The Great Papa-Nik, she looks like a fashion model strutting down the street carrying her cell phone, only not so skinny and a ton prettier.

Here is the season's first Madonna and Child picture, with Belly playing The Golden Child and Charlie as Madonna, as he holds her in his lap while she tastes some creamy looking Thanksgiving Pie.

And here, another belly. This is from the Bart train returning to Saint Plotniko this morning from Smokeland Airport. You can see a perfect traveler's posture, guaranteed to keep one in equilibrium in order to protect the lower back. You will notice two loads, one lower front and one upper back, and you will also notice some guy attempting to cop an extra-abdominal feel.

Cousin Two Names, this will be you in around two months, but please lose the hat.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Was Fun as Always: The Traditions Continue

Cousin Seattle tried unsuccessfully to steal some turkey from the First Knife, the Carver of Turkey Primero, but then he let her have some anyway. Plotnik was especially generous to Cousin Seattle's boy friend Cory, The Man Who Knows How To Treat a Woman. If you remember, Cory was the one who surprised Cuz Seattle with two Dodger-Cubs playoff tickets to Game Three last year. This is a boy who will go far.

Schmeckl Plotnik has always been a turkey thief. He is stealthy and big, two qualities that are difficult to combat.

But of course the most important Thankgsiving ritual is the pre-dinner basketball game. Kids always look on, waiting for their chance to get into the game as they grow big enough. Yesterday was the first Thanksgiving Day Game for David and his brother Alex. David has been playing water polo and is already huge, whereas Alex hasn't hit his big growth spurt yet, though it's right around the corner. You're looking at Shmeckl, Cousin Big EG, David, Alex, Plotnik and The Great Roger (Staubach).

David was always 'way bigger than his little sister Danielle, but look at the difference now.

The Queen of the house remains propped up on pillows, as befits her Royal Overbite Nature.

It made Plotnik feel so good to see the two kids assuming their rightful places on the basketball court. It's one of those weird family rituals -- you don't play hard but you don't play soft either. Everyone thought they'd cut Alex a little slack at the start of the game, because he's the shortest, but then he hit his first four shots to give his team a 4-0 lead and that was the end of anything easy. From that point on to when he's 60, he'll have to earn the rest of his baskets just like everyone else. What great kids, and what a ball to have them in the game now.

Everyone missed The Greats PD, 5H, BB and BZWZ but they were having a feast together in a 260-year-old farmhouse north of The Big Shmapple, so it all seems to have worked out fine. This morning Brooklyn Belly got on the phone and said "I love you Wo" (I love you Grandma Rose) and "I love you Bobo." Life is good.

One more Thanksgiving ritual has been updated: Carving the turkey was always Grampa Chiefie's job. When he died, The Great Plotnik assumed First Knife and Cousin Mother Two Names the Official Nudge position. Now there are two turkeys, so Cousin Mother Two is now Official Second Knife and her son, Cousin Brother Two Names is Nudging for both carvers, which means standing next to the turkeys and whining until someome takes pity on him and throws him something to eat. You don't see him here because he is a Stealth Nudge, moving too quickly for the lens to pick him up.

One last comment: Cousin Two Names looks gorgeous with her six-month-belly. But Plottie has no photos. Will someone please send him one to post here?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Two o'These and Two o'These: Love and Leftovers

Oh, man, it's Thanksgiving Day and so far the rain is holding off. Stilettto City is at its best right after a rain and on a holiday -- crisp blue sky, soft air, no screaming collisions of crazed Beamers out on Shmlaurel Canyon. Plot and Duck got up early this morning and Ducknik began to roll out the pie crusts she had made and chilled the night before. Plot chopped pecans and peeled and sliced apples. The pecans got mixed with eggs and Karo and the apples with cinnamon and sugar, and a few other secret ingredients of course, and then each pie took its own spot in the oven.

Meanwhile, back East PD, 5H, BB and BZWZ are having Thanksgiving together with BZ's old friend Charlie's family, so they'll be together, while here in Stiletto City many Plotnikkies will assemble, including Cousin Seattle and Cousin Two Names (carrying Cousin Three Names) and Cousin Big EG and Cousin Mother Two Names and Cousin Brother Two Names and Nefnik and Fefnik and, of course, Mummy P and Little Bear and Shmeckl Plotnik and Cousin Roger (Staubach). At last count, 29 people are expected.

What's it all about, Plottie? Love. And leftovers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Sorry about that: Mummy P's new email address is actually


There has been a serious security breach at the Homeland Refrigerator. Someone has been insidiously removing the flavor, and Plotnik is pretty sure he knows who it is. Yesterday for lunch he ate an Almost Cheese sandwich, and then for dessert reached into the cookie jar and had an Almost Chocolate Chip cookie.

There have been comments made, in Spanish, by Lilian, Mummy Plotnik's housekeeper, that 'El Dr. Meth dice que el colesterol de su mama llega muy elevado.' This means Mummy P. has high cholesterol, and therefore secret methods are no doubt being employed to bring that cholesterol down.

But come on! She's 94! Everybody knows 100 is the New 90. When you're over 90 but less than 100, you ought to have earned the window to eat whatever you want. Talk to me at 100 and we can discuss a few dietary limitations.

Mummy P. doesn't seem to notice, however Plotnik and Ducknik do. Worse, they keep eating those fairly tasteless cookies, out of habit, remembering in their minds the Glory Days of real butter. Real chocolate chips. Real flour. (Jeez. Is there light flour?) Real brown sugar. The old days, sigh, when you came home from college, opened the fridge and a world of delicious options opened before your eyes.

Now? Stare at that picture. You can't believe it's not butter? Yeah, right. Duck and Plot are heading for the taco truck on Vanowen and Vineland.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mummy P.'s New Email Address

The Great Plotnik sits in front of The Great PD's old E-Mac. which now belongs to Mummy Plotnik, whose new name is All you cuz's out there: drop her a line when you can. She is so high tech now you will barely recognize her. High speed cable internet! Yo!

When she wakes up from her nap, that is. It's complicated to try and make all the commands into one-stroke commands, since Mummy P. can't really see the keys very well, but that's what Plottie is attempting to do now. Mummy P. can type perfectly, but it's by memory and feel. Usually Lillian or someone else here will read her her emails.

It only took three hours from leaving the house to getting through the security line today. That's a walk, a train and a bus worth. More later.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don Rickles in Drag and the D.I.T.

She's Don Rickles in drag. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of Dame Edna here, but under no circumstances should you sit anywhere in the first half a dozen rows, or she may pick you out of the crowd, bully you onto the stage and then humiliate your ass. The jokes won't be any less funny from the back of the orchestra. You have been forewarned.

The Christmas tree is up in Union Square and the brugmansia are still in full bloom. It's a very weird-looking combination of ingredients, like Christmas in Shmalifornia always is. After the show, Plot and Duck walked through Union Square, which had a few people in it, to Virgin Records, which was absolutely empty, to buy a few, you know, things, to send to Kazakhstan, which has Brittany. Britt, you're not reading this are you? If so, we most assuredly didn't get you anything on the list that you wanted.

Then, this morning, the idea was to get both cars parked in front of World Headquarters. The Alternate Street Parking is from 8am-10am, so as soon as both meter maids went by, at 9:30, in their little Vehicles of Death flanking the red truck that their lawyer sits in, Plot moved the Saab in front of John's and the Golf in front of Ray's. He stood outside until just before 10am, when: "DUCK! DUCK! GET OUT HERE RIGHT AWAY. HURRY!"

Sure enough, the street sweeper didn't show up until 9:59, and there was a cop inside to ticket the entire block of construction workers, all of whom had moved their pickups until the meter maid went by, but now moved them back when they figured the sweeper wouldn't show up again today, as he often doesn't.

So Plot quickly moved the Saab and Duck moved the Golf and twenty five vehicles went around the block and back again. The Street Sweeper got a big kick out of it, the street got swept and nobody got a ticket, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at the Department of Infuriating Ticketing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Saab is Still in Snowy Valley

The Saab is still here. It's a complete mystery.

The guy drove all the way down from Tahoe to see the car. He drove it. It sounded great, handled great. It felt like a sale -- except on the freeway he kept the car in third gear and revved it way up, going more than 60mph in third.

So when he drove back up to the house and Plot expected him to at least haggle about the price, he said: "Sorry, I'm going to take a pass."

"What? Why? Is there something wrong with the car?"

"No, no, I just don't have a good feeling about this."

Plot stared at him. Thinking back about it now, he should have just opened the door and pushed the dude out onto the street.

"The turbo sounds funny, man. I think I'm going to have trouble down the line with this car."

Plot should have said "Why don't you try shifting gears once in awhile, if you don't want to hear the engine whine?" ... but he didn't. He should have.

Either way, the car would still be here. And it is.

Then, to make matters worse, when Plot called PD to tell him the unfortunate news, PD reported that their stereo was stolen out of their car last night on the street in Brooklyn. It's the kind that can't even be used without a special code -- so not only did the bastard steal the stereo but he probably can't even sell it. Just what you need: a stupid thief. They at least ought to know what they're doing.

It's the yin and yang of The Big Shmapple. In other cities, you tend to live in the emotional middle -- you do your thing, you work, you come home, nothing much happens one way or the other. But the Shmapple isn't like that. You see fabulous theater and concerts, you eat in spectacular restaurants, you rub shoulders with humanity at its best -- and then the freezing wind blows right up your sleeves and the subway breaks down and somebody steals your stereo.

It's never nothing. It's always one way or the other. That's why we love it. That's why we hate it.

Plot still doesn't get why the dude didn't buy the car. There's nothing wrong with the car. It must be Plotnik. Maybe this is a car a kid ought to be selling to another kid. He's thinking he did something wrong and he doesn't know what it is.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Saab, Evie and Quality

Supposedly, someone is driving down from Tahoe today to buy the Saab. It's been nice having it, and it looks nice parked next to the curb, but Plotnik will be happy to let it go. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday night, Plot and Duck saw the intriguing one-act "Evie's Waltz" at the Magic. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog report on "Evie's Waltz" here. You feel like the gun sight is trained on you the whole night. It's an astonishingly interesting production.

Last night was "The Quality of Life," finishing its run at A.C.T. It is every bit as good, and maybe even more ambitious than 'Evie.' Here is the review for "The Quality of Life." Man.

What fine dramas both these shows are, what memorable characters, what sublime acting and, most of all, what superior writing. Theater is supposed to leave you higher than when you walked in and 'Evie' and 'Quality' did just that. Two in a row, and Dame Edna coming up tomorrow. This is turning into quite a weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brooklyn Pre-Illness Photos

The Great Plotnik took a lot of pictures of Brooklyn before he, Ducknik and Plot's computer got sick. It took the computer three days longer to get better than it did Plot and Duck. But it hadn't had a flu shot.

Above is next door to where the Brooklyn Plotniks live -- the houses are identical, but for some reason the photo of their actual house is blurred. You enter the house from the black door you can make out under the stairs on the right, and walk into the ground floor where the master bedroom, guest bedroom/TV room and the kitchen are, plus the door to the back yard. On the first floor above it you have the living room, bathroom and Isabella's bedroom.

Here is the enormous kitchen. If you don't realize how enormous this kitchen is, you have never lived in New York.

Here is the beautiful living room. Normally, the door behind the sofa on the right would enter into this room, but now it's closed off as the landlord and his family live on the two floors above. They use the stairs in front of the house.

This innocuous photo sums up living in the Big Shmapple -- a sewer repair truck parked in the middle of a busy intersection. The workers only work at rush hour. The Great FiveHead says this truck has been there since they moved in. It's probably FBI.

These two photos of a pastry shop in Carroll Gardens, the old Italian neighborhood on the West side of Brooklyn, is for Cousin Mother Two Names. She has trouble finding her favorite dessert in Saint Plotniko, where Italian restaurants are too cool for the real thing. Not in Brooklyn.

Stores along the Arab section of Atlantic Avenue.

These leaves on a house in Carroll Gardens have probably blown off by now. By the way, the 'gardens' part of Carroll Gardens are what you see in front of these houses, where the houses are set back to allow room for a few trees and flowering plants.

And finally, another BRIDGE PICTURE! Plot and Duck have photos crossing bridges all over the world. This one might be a bit prosaic -- it's the Gowanus Canal, where generations of bodies with cement attached to their feet have met their final reckoning. You've got to love the sign above the canal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Cell Phone Stories

Cell phones. You think everything is OK. You've calculated all the figures and you've researched all the plans and you've spoken to the very nice sales agent and she's been SO sweet, and you've made the decision that is right for you. And then you get your bill and it's at least $50-$100 higher than it's supposed to be.

So you call them back. You present your case and try to understand the incomprehensible bill they sent you and they're very, very sweet and take away the overage that really wasn't supposed to be there, and they're sorry for all the inconvenience, and is there any other way they can be of service to you? and no, there isn't, and you hang up and you say to the Duck: "Mission Accomplished!"

And then the next month's bill comes and it's still $50-$100 higher than it's supposed to be. But you've already called the very nice sales agent and she has been SO sweet, and you're less insistent this time because you've got that sinking feeling that you are being sucked into a deep, stinking hole surrounded by orcs and balrogs. So you say to yourself: Cell phones. Are they really worth it?

And the answer, dawgblastedpoopoohead, is yes. They are. Cell phones have changed the way we live, the way we communicate and the way we keep in touch with each other.

Families, anyway. Plotnik just this morning signed up for unlimited texting on all three lines. $30 MORE freaking dollars a month, but now he and Duck and BZ can text each other and every other person on the entire planet as much as they all want. They can send messages like: "How's Belly?" and "Did you get the pictures?" and "I'm n the housewares sec" and "where are u?" and "beautiful sunset" and "going to dinner" and "we're at a play call u later."

Does this matter? Yeah. People are busy. Nobody has time to make an actual phone call. But everybody has time to say: "I L Y c u later."

Would you rather have "I L Y cu later" or nothing? That'll be $30 more a month. Fine.


The Great PD has an I-phone. It's a very snappy looking little black rectangle. The other night in Brooklyn, Plot and PD were driving around looking for a particular pizza parlor. PD whipped out his I-Phone, got coordinates off the internet like they were planning a well-coordinated terrorist surge into the Park Slope Canneloni Triangle, looked at the map, now well-displayed in bright colors on his little black rectangular screen and drove straight to the shop. He could even look up the menu.

Fast forward one week. BZWZ is driving in Providence, but every street is closed off or under construction or one way the wrong way. She needs to know where the brew pub is, so she whips out HER little black rectangle, pulls up the map, well-displayed in bright colors on her little black screen, and drives straight to, sort of, with only a few circles, the restaurant.

However, as she leaves the car she hands Plotnik her little black rectangle, so she can arrange some stuff in her pockets. Plotnik tries to give it back to her, but her hands are full, so he stuffs it in his jacket pocket, saying to himself as he does so "Don't do this. You are going to be really sorry if you do this. Don't do this." He does it anyway.

Great beer, great burgers, great fries. BZ drives Plot and Duck back to the hotel and they say goodbye, see you tomorrow. Plot walks upstairs, reaches into his jacket pocket for his room key, also a little plastic rectangle, and pulls out BZ's little black rectangle.

Now then. What to do? She's gone. He's got her phone. She doesn't have a land line. She'll need her phone, but he has no way to tell her he's got it. He's afraid she'll realize her phone is gone and take off for the restaurant where she's sure she's left it, and she'll be unable to ask Plotnik if he's got it, because he's got her phone.

She might realize Plot's got it, and drive back to the hotel, where Plot will not be if he takes a cab to her house. He can leave Duck at the hotel, but he'll have the cell phone, or he could take a cab to her house, leave the phone with Duck, but if he does that...

Also, what if her house burns down and he's got her phone? Yeah, yeah, I know.

This is encapsulating fifteen angst-ridden minutes into thirty seconds. Finally, he sends her an email, that he knows she won't read, calls a cab and tells the cabbie to take him to BZ's apartment.

But she lives on the top floor, in the back. It's cold. The windows are closed. He rings the doorbell. No answer. He pounds on the door. No answer. The cabbie is waiting, revving his engine from time to time, honking the horn every few seconds. "Look up her roommate's name on her cell phone," he says. "You can call her and she can tell your daughter about her phone."

Good idea. Except he knows her roommate isn't home. Still, he takes the little black rectangle out of his jacket pocket and turns it on. All he sees is a screen. No numbers. Where the HELL do they put the numbers on these $*&^)# phones?

He's into clenched lips mode now. He walks around to all three sides of her house and yells: "BZ!" "BZ!" "BEEEEE ZEEEEE!"

No response.

"BEEEEEEE ZEEEEEEEEE!" Mo no response.

The cabbie revs his engine. Plot pounds on the door again. He rings the bell again. He calls again. "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ZEEEE!"

Finally, someone comes out from the second floor apartment, with headphone cable dangling. "I've got my daughter's cell phone, I have to go upstairs and..." The kid shakes hid head pitifully, leaves the door open, Plot walks up the stairs.

He taps on BZ's door. She answers, surprised. "Dad?"

He holds out her phone. She stares at it. "You left it with me. I thought you'd need it tomorrow, so I..."

"Why didn't you call me?"

"Call you? Because I've got your phone! How am I supposed to..."

She takes her cell phone out of her pocket. It looks just like Plotnik's cell phone. They bought them together. Duck's too.

"This is my phone, Dad. Remember?"


"That's my I-Pod, Dad."

" got directions...the used the"

BZ laughs. "No, I can download maps onto it from my computer. I did it before we left so we'd know how to get to the brew pub."

"You mean...this isn't..."

"No, Dad. I was practicing my guitar with my headphones on. That's why I didn't hear you."


"Thanks, Dad. Sorry you had to go through all this."

"Ai, caramba. Good night, Beezie."

"Good night, Pops." Nice hug.

"So, did you give her her cell phone?" the cabbie asks, as he drives Plot back to the hotel.

"Well, I got to say good night to her twice," Plot says. "That's pretty good."

Better than a stupid text.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Sets of Cookware for Margie

With all due respect, Mush, today was like Chinese New Year's at Macy's Special Four Hour Sale down the street from the deserted Big Box. The entire housewares floor ("The Cellar," which is one floor down from the Five Square Miles of Perfume) was jammed solid with Chinese women, speaking loudly in Chinese, calling each other on cell phones, yelling into them excitedly, grabbing every box they could get their hands on off the shelves, and all in all having the time of their lives.

Is this a racist observation? Would it not be so if Plotnik said "the floor was jammed with many women, speaking loudly in some language or another?"

Plotnik hopes he is simply being descriptive but he might not be. Either way, it was certainly a sight to see, not unlike the old cartoons of women fighting over lingerie at the Lohman's Closeout Counter. Perhaps the huge sale brings everyone out (it did bring Plottie and Ducknik downtown). Let's just say the Chinese-Women-Over-Forty demographic was very well represented.


The Anthropologist of Modern Consumer Mores observes that the conversation takes place under the canopy, as it were. Rarely are Plotnik's ears higher than anybody's mouth, but this morning he felt like he was a bird in a tree, listening to the unintelligible calls of terrestrial mammals.

No, they weren't unintelligible. It was like this:



"Grab a frying pan for Grandma!"


"Get two! Get three! Get eight!"


"Who's that guy?"

"Him? Oh, that's the Great Plotnik! Do you read The Great Plotnik?"

"Oh, yah!"

"Me too."

"Is he a racist?"

"Maybe. Go slug the racist dog."

"Give me that frying pan."


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Jacket Necessary. It's Good to Be Home.

This is neither an optical illusion nor a time-warp photo from 2003. Plotnik paid $2.07 a gallon in Providence to fill up BZ's Explorer, and by the ride to the airport it was already down to $2.01. We get SO hosed at the gas station in Shmalifornia.

The Plotniks returned home to find Todd the Carpenter's Victorian carpentry 99% finished, and J-Wacky having worked behind him, to the point of the scaffolding being ready to be removed next week. Jack only has to finish prepping the last round of carpentry, and then he will be able to add the finish coat. The end is truly in sight...yeah,right. Spit over shoulder.

It took a leap of faith to leave the key to the house in the hands of a stranger for eleven days, although J-Wacky was here as well, and John the King not only kept an eye on the place and moved both cars (yes, the Plotniks still have the Saab) but even left a giant bag of lemons on the counter. You can't beat great neighbors.

For the first time in his life, Plotnik spent a week in the Big Shmapple and never ate a pastrami sandwich from Katz's, or from anywhere else for that matter. There was one pretty tasty slice of pizza and three or four bagels, but no pizza from Famous Ray's and no bagels from H&H. The five Plotniks ate sushi but no spaghetti and meatballs from Pisticci. They ate veal goulash at Veselka but not even one hot dog from the Sabrett's cart.

Obviously, this trip was about more than food. We really did have a great time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Plotniks Visit the Vanderbilts

Plot and Duck are getting out in the nick of time. The frigid wind is coming in off the water and Providence is turning nasty cold. That rainstorm yesterday knocked the last leaves off the trees and it's going to frost Monday night. Oooh, mama, get us back to the sunshine.

But it was a fabulous last day. After Ducknik finished sanding Bron's dresser and Plotnik skimmed the gravy to get everything ready for dinner, the three took off for Newport. Newport is where for the last 150 years the Vanderbilts and Astors and Dukes and many more of America's old merchant princes have been building their showplace mansions. Today you can either pay to tour inside them or walk for free on the cliff walk, passing incredible mansion after incredible mansion as you meander above Newport Harbor.

You cross over two bridges to get to Newport. It's a colonial town, with a few old, narrow streets, some venerable Congregational and Baptist churches and quite a few Chicos and Talbots and Shoppes For Quainte Gifties. Lots of nautical themes. It looked like the perfect town to find a few Very Tacky Giftes, but most of the island has closed down for the winter. The wind cuts under your scarf in a heartbeat.

But they do have delicious clam chowder and it was hot, which mattered a lot.

Dinner was great too, with BZ's fine roommates, two young women also in their first year in the Geology PhD program at Brown. There was not only an endless supply of yummy ribs but interesting discussions about rocks, and synclines and anticlines, and deep time, and the rock squeezers, and the KT Extinction, and also how dinosaurs may have died off due to allergies, having run out of soft, furry mammals to use to wipe their noses. The good thing is that BZ, Jessica and Rocio will be in Saint Plotniko in only a few weeks for a conference so we can do it all again.


But in the meantime, Tim's comment on yesterday's posting was heartbreaking to his old friend and fellow Tiaposian. Tim and his partner Tom have been talking about adopting a child for many years, and Plot and Duck have been following them through this last part of the journey. Now, after these two sweet guys have finally had the joy of meeting their son, after being in the delivery room as he was being born, it is impossible to believe their joy may be taken from them. There have never been two parents more ready and willing to sacrifice for their child, so Plotnik and Ducknik and all of Tim and Tom's old friends are hoping for some kind of miracle here.

Miracles from any source will gladly be accepted. It would be really nice to let this little boy find out just how lucky he is, and we would love to meet him. Tim and Tom, we're here but we're there too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blustery Saturday in P-Town

Plotnik sits at BZWZ'S kitchen window on the third floor of a charming, older building on the East Side of Providence. The late afternoon wind howls, large objects hurl into each other somewhere in the yard below, rain shoots right in the window. Plot closes it a little more. Duck took BZ to look for new sheets while Plottie finishes up the huge meal of beef rib bones and potatoes that he has been readying all afternoon, to be consumed tomorrow night when the gravy has been skimmed.

This is the kind of meal you ought to be messing with on a blustery, wintery day. The butcher insisted Plot and BZ buy the beef bones instead of the short ribs he'd asked for. "Dese are da best," he said. "Pure candy." He kissed his fingertips. "You'll t'ank me, I promise yuz."

The woman at the Portuguese liquor store near BZ's house was also very helpful. When Plotnik inquired about local wine, she said "You don' want nuthin from Rhode I'lan. It's horrible. But lemme show you something very nice. It's a Portuguese wine. We sell fifty cases a week. You'll be very happy with this wine."

Same with the kids at the bakery, where BZ and Plottie bought bread and biscotti and sandwiches and coffee, and same with the merchants behind their damp tables at the Farmer's Market, where BZ and Plottie bought Eastern MacCoun and Empire apples, cilantro and a dozen and a half fat Little Neck clams. "Have some extra clams," they said. "Here, taste these apples."

Why are people in such a mood to be helpful? The weather is awful, the traffic is incomprehensible and life here can't be as simple here as in grouchy Shmalifornia.

They're even politically progressive -- the woman at the liquor store looked with Plot and BZ at her television screen and said "those gay people marching in San Francisco? We Catholics think different, but if you ask me, if somebody is stupid enough to want to get married, let 'em. It's their headache."

The ribs smell really good and the potatoes are just about done, but the clams are for tonight.

Now The Great Plotnik sits at BZ's desk. She's got the nicest room she's had since she left home, and it's cheap. She says she thinks Providence is a great town to go to Graduate School in, because it doesn't have the distractions of The Shmapple, plus Brown is such a fantastic seat of knowledge. But she misses the action, and her friends, and the many other little beauties of living in the greatest city in America.

The Big Bagel is about more than bagels. It's also knowing the bagels are there whenever you want 'em.

Who knows how anyone will like anywhere? Plotnik has never really decided if he loves Saint Plotniko or if he even likes it all that much. The truth is it's a great city, but it's not home, not really, or maybe just not yet?

One look at his kids settled for now in the East, plus his Map of Unanswered Pins, and he realizes his roots have never been set all that deeply. He knows he is both anxious to get back home and sad to be leaving tomorrow. He knows Ducknik will treasure getting back to the endless construction site, while Plotnik will wish he was setting off on another adventure, or at least back to Brooklyn for a few more days, after which he would want to come back up here.

Beezie busy and smiling, Belly leaping forward, her Dad and Mom discovering their new lives in their new city, this is how it's supposed to be. Meanwhile, Papa is supposed to head home, put on his robe and slippers and strum his guitar. Ouch. Papa and Bobo aren't ready for the rocker yet, you know? Too many empty spots that need more pins.

Breakfast time! Maybe heading for Newport today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

BZ Behind the Wheel

It's raining in Providence, so that means there is water coming from the sky as well as on all sides. Rhode Island seems to be mostly inlets and rivulets and bays that lead out to larger and larger bodies of water that all eventually become the Atlantic Ocean. So Providence, the capital city of only 200,000 in a state that doesn't have many more than a million people, was settled by seafaring people. They are still here and they have perfect New York accents, though they are several hundred miles from the Shmapple. Go figyuh. Portuguese and Italian names are everywhere, including some of the best old-school Italian food anywhere.

But you can't get there from here. You can't get anywhere from anywhere else. All the streets in Providence are one-way the wrong way, or they dead end into unmarked construction zones, or they've changed the access and not told anybody. Last night, driving Dixie Mae, her enormous 1993 Ford Explorer that would probably be illegal in Saint Plotniko but is ridiculously cool and fun to drive, The Great BeezieWeezie took Plotnik and Ducknik in what turned out to be a rather mis-shapen circle, searching for the middle of town. And they had started out in the middle of town.

It looked like a bad horror movie, where you keep yelling: "No! No! Don't try to turn around in that old, abandoned churchyard!" But they did turn around, and eventually found a gas station where Plot could ask the guy behind the bullet-proof glass: "Sorry, but we're really lost. Can you please tell us how to get to Atwells Street?"

"Ha ha. Dat's funny. Dis heah is Atwells Street," the guy said.

The restaurant was only half a mile away. And the food was really, really good, but Plot was so hungry he forgot to take any pictures.

Meanwhile, few of the colleagues of the researcher in this lab coat...

...realize that she has a secret identity.

Brown University is in East Providence. The homes are old and look lived in, as well as quite breautiful.

BZ took Plot and Duck into the space wing of her department yesterday -- that is, where they study the geology of planets. See these globes? You look at a globe and think 'Earth.' Right? Wrong. The one on the left is the moon and the one on the right is God Knows Where.