The Great Plotnik

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Smaller Crowds These Days

The garlic fries at Braindead Stadium are much larger this year. You can see two kinds in the photo, the lighter garlic fries in the front and the darker ones (deep fried for two hours instead of an hour and a half) in the back. There are so many fewer fans in the park these days that they've lowered the price from $7 to 75 cents a bushel.

There were 30,000 announced in attendance at Tuesday night's game, but it didn't look anywhere close to that many. In previous years the place would have been jam-packed.

Just like the subway to the game -- practically empty. Of course, that may be because the sucker was moving at 1mph most of the way, when it wasn't jerking to another stop in the tunnel. Smart people probably got off and walked.

Plotnik's dentist, Dr. Flossem, says his business is 'way off too. He and all the other dentists in the office have taken a cross-the-board 20% pay cut. Preventive dentistry, apparently, is doing fine but people are putting off those extra-whitener cosmetic jobs.

There are 24 floors in the 450 Suffer Building with at least ten doctors per floor, most of them dentists. The floors are usually filled with technicians and hygienists in white lab coats passing unhappy clients with worried looks on their faces. They still have an elevator man directing people onto the six banks of elevators on the Art Deco ground floor. But yesterday 450 Suffer was empty. Plotnik had an elevator to himself, all the way up to Dr. Flossem's office on the top floor.

He thought: what if this elevator were filled with people with swine flu? Or swine?

He also thought: this would be just like Al Queda. They hate us and they don't eat pigs. Put a disease into a pig and all the pig eaters will perish.

But the elevator went up so fast Plotnik only had a bit of time to realize Osama's evil plan wouldn't touch the Orthodox Jews, and that would never do. And the Brisket Flu wouldn't bother Hindus. He'll have to huddle with Mullah Omar and come up with another idea. Then the door opened on the 24th Floor.

Dr. Flossem cleaned Plotnik's teeth and complimented him. True, Plotnik had flossed 300 times the two days before his appointment, but Dr. Flossem is usually in a hurry. A compliment is new. They must be desperate not to lose their old, valued clients.

Afterwards, Plot stopped in front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel to talk to his old friend Laban, the doorman in the red Beefeater costume. Laban never has time to talk, what with all the people arriving and all the other people leaving, and his cell phone ringing and taxis honking. Yesterday, one man was leaving but nobody was arriving. Laban leaned against a pillar. He and Plot had plenty of time to chew the fat.

Laban's getting bigger every time Plottie sees him. Once the most feared basketball player on the Saturday morning court, Laban has put on maybe 75 pounds since then. Laban was a linebacker in High School. Now, he's one of the three men in the red suits in front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

The taxi drivers lined up in front of the hotel were all reading newspapers as they hunched behind their steering wheels, looking up every thirty seconds or so, perhaps dreaming of the doorman's phantom whistle. Plot wheeled his bike between parked taxis and down Powell Street, dodging the cable car tracks as he said hi to Ralphie.

Plot never rides down a hill anymore, a little one like Powell Street or a big one like Sanchez Street, without Ralph Hager in his head. Admittedly, Ralphie rode a whole lot faster than Plotnik, but Ralph's dead now, and was paralyzed for a dozen years before that. Ralphie lives somewhere under Plotnik's headband, near his right ear, calling out: "Slow down, knucklehead. Trust me. You're not in that big a hurry."

Market Street had little traffic at 10am, but the City Hall Farmer's Market was far from empty. The outdoor Wednesday market is close to the Vietnamese Tenderloin and not that far from Chinatown. Asian women thronged the half a dozen stands where other Asian women were selling treasured green Spring favas and huge bunches of mustard greens shooting forth spikes of yellow flowers.

Local schoolkids and their teachers use the market as a field trip.

"Look, Maria, that's a carrot."


"Yes. Car-roT." The young teacher bites off that final T, the one that doesn't exist in Guatemala.

These tiny, innocent boys and girls, some holding little strings that tether them to the child in front of them, some with untied shoelaces, some with unsnapped velcro, some with runny noses and a few with scarves covering their impossibly thick, black hair, all have special power. They look up at the hardboiled merchants, who got up at 2am in Fresno or Hanford or Visalia to load their trucks and drive to the market to be set up by 6am, and won't leave until 5pm at the earliest, and who generally have about as much patience and compassion as a box of spoiled shiitakes. But -- you know, kids.

"Here, dollink," says the normally sour Russian woman who sells oranges. "Take taste."

The little boy in the rumpled white school uniform shirt and blue pants grabs the piece of seedless tangerine, looks at his teacher, who nods, so he swallows the fruit, and then an enormous smile, big and round with happy eyes and two or three teeth missing, captures his entire face.

"Dass good," he says.

"I know," she says.

OK, Plotnik lied. Those aren't garlic fries. They're sweet potatoes at the Farmer's Market. But you knew that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plotzers Prevail but Muni Stinks

So, The Great Plotnik was offered a ride to the ballpark, but decided to take the streetcar(s) like he always does, like he used to do to go to Shea Stadium in the Big Shmapple, like he, Ducknik and BZWZ did to get to Wrigley in Chicago. It's a baseball thing, you know?

What an idiotic move. Plottie had the four tickets in his pocket and the entire streetcar system broke down in the subway tunnel. After sitting for fifteen minutes on Church Street, Plot asked the driver: "Should I get out, walk down to Market Street and catch a cab?"

"Nahh, any second now we'll be moving."

That was a lie, perhaps well intentioned, but it ended up taking an hour and a half to go four miles on MUNI. By the time Plot found Mush, Blogmaid and NotThat Lucas, it was almost game time, but he managed to watch Manny's first at bat on the TV monitor above the Polish Sausage With Sauerkraut stand.

Blogmaid posed with the Giant Mascot, Ed Cheeseburger, before the game.

This is such a beautiful place to watch a baseball game -- the bay and McCovey Cove beyond the right field stands, the giant illuminated Coke bottle and baseball glove in left field -- but the game was basically a bore. Lots of walks. And we're on the water -- it gets windy and cold by the sixth inning. As soon as the wind blew in, seagulls soared above the stadium, their bodies caught in the lights. It was quite beautiful, even though nobody could get a great picture of them.

Plotnik is quite pleased to be included in this group of devoted fans of Saint Plotniko's Braindead Caribbean Baseball Club, even though they all are aware of his addiction to Plotzermania. Blogmaid drove him home anyway, and he was extremely grateful for that. It was cold.

NotThat and Plottie.

The Great Mushnnik and Blogmaid.

She may be a Braindead fan, but the girl does have beautiful hair.

Believe it or not, his wife dressed him.

This girl was sitting one row in front. She read her book the entire game and then left as the game was getting interesting. Anyone who knows the travel history of the Plotnik Family will be reminded of another person when they see this picture...who used to be a Plotzer fan, too.

For those who care, in the Ninth Inning the Plotzers went Manny, Ethier and Kemp, double, double and triple, for the two runs that won the game.

Also, for anyone who ever attended a game at night in Candlestick Park, last night was warm as a basket of garlic fries. For others, it was damned cold. Damned cold. That ride home was wonderful. Thanks, Blogmaid.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April Roses

Some years ago, Plotnik found a unique looking rose in a garden catalog and bought one. It is called "Scentimental" and is a floribunda, which means it is hardier and produces more flowers than your standard hybrid tea rose, which gives the classic long-stemmed beauties that guilty husbands line up for the day before Mother's Day. (Now that Joseph Schmidt's Truffles is closed, we're gonna be needing more roses.)

The downside of the Scentimental is that the roses have small stems and don't last very long after you cut them. Yesterday Plottie cut off the already opened roses and pruned the stems down to a five-leaf cluster, then he put the flowers in a vase on the dining table. Tomorrow they'll probably be just about gone, but today they're really beautiful.

In a way, the petals are even more beautiful than the flower itself. If Domin-Nik were here she'd take a closeup of the dirt in front of the rosebush and it would come out more beautiful yet.

It's crazy to try to grow roses or tomatoes in Saint Plotniko, we just don't get enough heat or sun. But in the spring, when we have our first summer (the second one comes for three weeks in October) we get Double Delights. They are just beginning now. And they smell sooooo good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Belly's Eyes, a Red Mercedes, Liebe Wetzel and Insect Bites

The weather finally got hot in Brooklyn.

Is it possible that Isabella's eyes are maybe getting even bigger? So were Plotnik's when he saw this alternative fuel vehicle in the Mission.

Yesterday he forgot to post the link to his Review for Liebe Wetzel's amazing "Executive Order 9066." Here it is. Plot'll let you all know when the show runs again -- it's too wonderful to miss. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog Review here, and that's Liebe Wetzel on the left before the show started.

Plot, Duck and Captain Crow stand under a sign near the land Crow and Finch purchased on Union Island a few decades ago. Plotnik doesn't know it yet, but he's about to start a week's itching due to all the stinging plants he just walked through and all the insects who used him to prolong their life cycle.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Messing Around the Mission with the Finch

HelmsWoman Finch left this morning to head back to JFK and then another flight to Portland, Maine and a two hour drive to Deer Isle. She started the adventure in Maui, so it's been quite a schlep.

First of all was a stop at the Marsh to see an afternoon performance of "Executive Order 9066." Liebe Wetzel's Found Object Puppetry is absolutely impossible to describe and is heartbreakingly beautiful. Sadly, the show is closing for now but Wetzel brings it back periodically.

Dinner was at The Old Jerusalem, which has turned into Plot and Duck's favorite neighborhood spot. The shawarma and chicken moussakhan are fantastic and the hummos, on the bottom, is the best Plotnik has ever tasted.

Above all, it's great to see Deb. The time went 'way too fast.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Snowy Fruits and Snowy Veggies

Sikh and you shall find, especially at the Snowy Valley Farmer's Market. Plotnik has always been slightly put off by this gathering of smug European Dads who have custody of their kids for the weekend and the gaggles of skinny women with triple-wide strollers and Aryan children, but he has to admit it is starting to look a little like a neat outdoor market in, well, Europe. Paris, for example. Look at that chard.

I guess it's that Plotnik likes his Farmer's Market with a little grit. Where are the vegetable crates? Where are the homeless guys hired to pick up trash? Well, there isn't any trash. It's all neat and tidy and expensive and everyone is kind and understanding. You could probably steal a crate of strawberries and the guard would smile and help you put it in your trunk.

Not like the market on the Rue Moueffetard in Paris, where the picturesque older gent in a brown beret smiled and motioned at Plotnik to see his barrels of olives. He kept smiling and motioning, so Plotnik sampled one olive. "AH HA! STUPEED AMERICAN DOG GET FEELTHY CAPITALIST PIG HANDS OUT OF PURE FRENCH OLIVE BARREL KEES MY FRENCH KEESTER AHHHHHHHHHH PEEG PEEG PEEG" is what it sounded like he said, but he may have just been commenting about the weather.

This would not happen at the Snowy Valley Farmer's Market. "Would you care to sample one of our organic, free range, free trade olives Sir? They are harvested from old growth Mission olive trees that were planted by happy Indians while being serenaded by kindly Spanish missionaries. Ten dollars per olive, $300 for the half pint.

"No dogs were injured in their preparation. Free Tibet."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Belly in the Belly

Plotnik is using the PC this morning. It's so much easier than the Mac know. He's drunk the Kool-Aid and there's no going back.

One advantage of the PC is access to all the old photos. How about the one above, of PD's graduation from Journalism School with everyone pointing to The Great FiveHead's belly, as she had just announced she was pregnant.

Or this one: all the kids on their mama's lap for Mother's Day.

And this one ain't so bad:

Only NefNik could play drums on a pillow.

Good, good times. Man, everyone looks so happy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Keep Your Phone On

They caught a young medical student yesterday who has been murdering massage therapists he finds on Craig's List. Turns out he had a gambling problem to feed and needed cash. He probably didn't mean to kill them, but...he's big, they were little, and they were alone. And who is more anonymous than a person you hear about on line?

Admit it -- haven't you thought about a guy like this every time you've sold something on Craig's List? The guy shows up at your house to drive your used car or purchase your old stereo, and the second before he gets there you say to your wife: "I'm going out to test drive the Saab with this guy. Keep your phone on."

Plot has never had a problem, in fact his interactions with the online buying public have always been fun. He doesn't know anyone who has had any issues come up (except, of course: "Oh, I have not bring money enough. You take $100 less?").

Now, he's thinking about it. But not too much, because he has to get down to Dot Com Park to buy tickets for the Plotzers-Braindead Caribbeans series next week. They probably have a few Bay View seats left, but he might have to sit in McCovey Cove in a canoe with a net.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Last Quarter

Yesterday at the taco shop, Plotnik reached into his pocket and pulled out Oklahoma. That's the last quarter that completes the collection that Plot, Duck, PD and BZ began in 1998, with the US releasing five state quarters per year since then, in order of admission to the Union. Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma were the last, since they were the last five states to be invited in.

Plot is old enough to remember the 48 state flag. He doesn't remember there being any flack about the change, which makes no sense since he lived in Stiletto City then, where the John Birch Society made everything into a political issue, even fluoride in toothpaste.

Remember? Fluoride was a Communist plot to destroy the birth rate among the underclass. If you brushed with Crest, you wouldn't reproduce. So how's that worked out?

And wait until ten years from now when Cuba wants to become 51. That should lead to some interesting programming on Fox. And we'll need another quarter.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The First Outdoor Promotion of the Year

The Great Plotnik World Headquarters held its first promotion of the year last night: Eat Outside on the Deck Night. All those attending received a meal of Farfalle with Italian Sausages and Tuscan Kale with Capers and Vinegar, a half bottle of Big Red plus a Trader Joe's Chocolate Biscotti. Plotnik and Ducknik were the only two takers, but they enjoyed the rare tropical evening immensely, followed up by a surprising attack of mosquito (one). Saint Plotniko never gets mosquito(s), so it must have been the farfalle(s).

...or the heat. The irises are up early this year. These blue and whites usually bloom first but this year the magentas beat them (see yesterday's post). What it means is a larger No Flower Zone later on, but right now it's gorgeous out there.

For the first ten years in Saint Plotniko, Plot grew a Rangpur Lime tree in a pot on the deck. But eventually it got root bound, so he moved it out to the Rear Acreage, where it immediately dropped dead. So he bought another one and planted it in the back by the asparagus tubs.

Then, Plot's neighbor decided she just had to have a Tuscan Formal Garden in her yard, which meant not only the fountain, which is nice, but huge shrubs too. Plotnik knew these shrubs would grow tall enough to place the rear of his garden in shade, but his neighbor refused to do anything about it. Then, she and her partner moved away.

He will probably take his shears and prune those shrubs one of these days, risking a confrontation with his Absentee Landlord Neighbor, but she's a friend too, if hard-headed about her garden. Anyway, a Rangpur Lime is grown for its tasty, aromatic leaves, which are used in Thai cooking, and not for its fruit, so it doesn't need a lot of sun. But it is still a citrus, and it does need some. So Plotnik decided it was time to bite the bullet, dig the little tree out of its dark closet and put it back into a pot in the sun.

Which he did. It's now next to the Meyer Lemon in the Citrus Conservatory. Mmmmm, Green Curry coming up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hot Tamales

It was 93 degrees yesterday! In April! This would be one happy boy if it would continue through the summer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two New Photos

Yesterday, Belly crossed fruit punch off her Life List. She went to Coney Island with PD and it was love at first sight for them both. Her dad is deciding whether or not to enter Belly in the hot dog eating contest this summer.

It was a relief to find these photos, especially since Plot had just watched Hotel Rwanda. It was a mistake to watch that movie again. So much cruelty, and above all so much stupidity.

It was probably not too smart either to have a discussion with Ducknik about where that line is between now and 'old.' When do you stop being you, the person you have always been, and become You 2.0, a worse update, with half the energy and twice the complaints?

Before he saw the Belly photos, Plotnik read an email from his partner D-Blue, who is having what seems (to Plotnik) to be a minor flareup of his prostate cancer problem, but is reacting in a frightening way. He is about to undergo an eight-week radiation therapy treatment, knowing full well all the side effects, temporary and lasting. Maybe if Blue's son Jasper hadn't died of cancer he wouldn't react like this, and maybe if Plottie hadn't been listening so intently to The Great Domin-Nik for the last several years, he could have more faith in Blue's course of treatment.

He wants to have faith in his friend's judgment, but he knows how random that judgment can be at times. Plotnik knows this is not his issue to offer uninformed advice about, but he is worried about it anyway.

After reading Blue's E-Mail, Plotnik turned to Facebook. There he found these beautiful photos of Isabella, the first one taken at the beach at Coney Island yesterday, the second from an unknown location.

He should have seen this coming. You did, probably. One look at those two photos and he was practically overcome with longing to see his kids, so far away and in some ways getting even further.

It's that last part, the inevitable part, that's the worst part. Plotnik has been there, he remembers being so busy it seemed like he had no life to share, let alone the time to share it.

He also knows this is life. And he is not only a dad, he's a son. So he called his Mom.

How's Mummy P? She's tired. Her head hurts. She's old.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"OK. Quién echó el pedo?

Clearly in this picture we can see exactly who farted and who is not so happy about it. President Obama seems to think of everything.

Barack Obama is in Port of Spain, Trinidad and so is Hugo Chavez and so is Raul Castro. This alone is amazing. Obama seems on top of the world. He should. He is a rock star in the rest of the world. If ever there was a man born for a particular job, it appears to be this man and this job.

Port of Spain does not look like the newsreels. When Plot and Duck spent their day in Port of Spain last month, they went to the world's dinkiest National Art Museum. Inside was a woman reading a newspaper and on the cover of that newspaper was Obama's face, announcing he would be coming to Trinidad for this conference. It was front page news for the whole month, and Obama likenesses took up entire T-shirt stands all over the southern Caribbean. "He's a good man," the lady said. "He sounds like he really cares about people."

So far the thing Plotnik likes the best about Obama is just that -- and how he seems to actually think before he speaks, as if there is a well filled with refreshing water in there, from which he can draw intelligent statements. Even if he is saying little beyond his talking points, he makes you think he means it, and that he has thought about it before he answered.

Of course the man is probably making mistakes, but he's making decisions. And in that regard, you have to say that Bush did the same thing. Dubya was obsessed with 9 1 1, and that wasn't a bad thing. He did what he did to protect his country.

But he was so limited -- in life experience and in depth. In the end, Bush was a simple, ordinary, nice guy, who had been given everything in life, and fucked it all up. Now he was handed a position that called for greatness, and it was like asking Plotnik to guard Kobe Bryant.

But we're still here. Bush helped. He probably did the best he could, but now we have a man whose best will be far better than anything GWB could have hoped for. I hope. You hope. We all hope.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ashes to Ashes: Plotnik Reminisces About Blue Water and Jockeys in Green Silks

This morning's mail brings a delightful note from Helmsman Finch, who is in Maui visiting her family. The occasion was an opportunity to scatter her Mom's ashes in the ocean near her favorite island, where she and Finchie's dad had a home they went to every year for many, many years. The Congregational minister took the ash-scattering friends and family out in an outrigger and Perilous Pauline's ashes were delivered into the deep. Plotnik is sure there were lots of laughs as well as stories to be told.

Plotnik remembers Pauline, though he did not know her well, and he is touched by this gesture. It immediately makes him think about his mother, who to this day still talks about her days as a tour guide for travelers taking the Matson Ocean Liner 'Lurline' from the West Coast to Hawaii, in the early 1950s when this was still possible. Every time Plottie talks to Mummy P., he hears another new story.

This last trip to Stiletto, Mummy P. told Plottie about the Hawaiian musicians who were always hired to play romantic Hawaiian music and dance the hula for adoring tourists, but who secretly hated Hawaiian music and couldn't stand dancing the hula. What they loved was jazz. So after hours, after the tourists had been tucked snug in their beds, the local boys would sneak Mummy P. into the underground jazz clubs in mysterious Honolulu, where they would drink it up and listen to the music they loved. Plotnik is sure his mom enjoyed being the only haole in the club and he's sure they all loved having her there too.

That leads to Geoffrey Scott. He and his wife Mary were best friends in Stiletto City with Mummy Plotnik and Harold, Plotnik's first stepfather. Geoff and Mary were racetrack junkies. They owned (pricey) Turf Club tickets at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, and the racing seasons were spaced so that when one track finished its year, the other track began its own. Geoff and Mary went to the track every day and, whenever they could, Mummy P. and Harold went along with them.

Plotnik remembers going with them as a small boy -- that's when he learned what picking winners really involves -- he noticed that if he, at only eight years old, took a guess that Bright Boopie was going to win the Fifth Race, and then he told any of the grizzled old timers in their green racing sunshades about his choice, they would first laugh at him, and then half of them would run to the ticket window and put $10 bucks on the nose on Bright Boopie: "The boy might know something."

(This probably had to do with the fact that the FIRST time Plottie went to the track, at maybe six years old, he picked SIX winners. (Out of eight races.) This was because he loved one jockey's name -- Shoemaker. Billy Shoemaker was one of the most famous and successful jockeys of all time, and his name was one little Plottie could recognize. So every time Harold or Geoffrey asked Plottie who he liked in the upcoming race, Plot looked at the form for the jockey's name. When he saw Shoemaker, he said: "This one." Six out of eight is unheard of, see. Plotnik's legend began right there.)

Plotnik loved the track then and still loves everything about it today, the colorful silks on the jockeys, the sound of the horses' hooves as they thunder around the clubhouse turn, the amazing unmuting of hopeful crowd noise, filling the air as the race pounds down to the finish line and excitement turns into an explosion at the wire! -- followed two seconds later by the collective slump-shouldered downward-falling disappointment groan: Awwwww-w-w-w-w-w-w.

There's nothing quite like it. Plotnik has learned his lesson, though. Someday ask him to tell you about his brief flirtation with professional handicapping at Aqueduct Raceway in New York.

Anyway -- Harold died, and then Geoff followed. Perhaps Mary did not keep the Turf Club seats, Plotnik doesn't know. But Geoff's ashes needed to be scattered, and Mary knew where they had to go: Geoff wanted to spend eternity at the track.

So one morning, before the First Race, Mary drove down to Hollywood Park, intending to distribute the ashes on the track itself, but then realized she couldn't go through with it. It was just too filled with memories in there -- and the whole thing probably seemed a little silly to her.

So she did the next best thing. Outside the entrance turnstiles there was a small, circular flower garden. The touts -- the guys who sell the day's handicap sheets -- stood around it hustling their wares. Mary walked over and deposited Geoffrey into the flowers. Then she went home. They rang the bell and the horses ran around the track, just like always, only Geoff could hear them better now, from the snapdragon patch in front of Hollywood Park.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Little Bear-Nik's Photos

The Great Plotnik has never spent any time in Death Valley. Perhaps it's the name.

But Little Bear-Nik's photos make him think he's missing something special. Another thing he missed: he never realized what a natural photographer she is. Plotnik's life is blessed with great picture takers. And clearly he needs to take a drive out to -- you know, that place.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Tree-a-cane Season

It's been a bad week for wind. Yesterday it was blowing so hard up on Diamond Heights that Plotnik couldn't open his car door until it let up. Living in gentle Shmalifornia you forget all those lessons about the power of nature.

JJ-aka-PP would like to forget about nature, but nature keeps reminding her. It has been terribly windy in Atlanta, so much so that two weeks ago a huge, healthy-looking oak in her neighbor's front yard toppled over with no warning, somehow missing JJ's house and all the cars in the street that it fell across, fortunately only taking out power lines and sidewalk. After years of drought there are many trees in the city that look fine on the outside but are in fact brittle or dead inside.

This same neighbor has another large tree in her backyard. You guessed it. Monday night a huge limb fell off that tree and smashed the roof of JJ-aka-PP's beautiful garage/workshop/guest house, that JJ calls The Hermitage, where the piano is, where Plot and Duck love to hang out when they're in Atlanta. Only a few hours earlier, JJ's boyfriend Paco's house, thirty miles away, had another tree limb smash in the roof of his house and wreck his truck. (Yes, we realize Paco drives the Paco Truck.) Paco is also JJ's contractor, and now he's got to fix his own house before he can fix the Hermitage.

This made Plotnik take another look at his idea to have the World Headquarters Construction Corps (no final 'e') build a small studio in the rear acreage, where the avocado plantation is now (one tree pictured above). The problem is the gynormous cedar tree in his neighbor's backyard that overhangs the avocado tree. That tree is nearly two backyards wide and at least seventy five feet tall. One of these days --- well, if a limb fell off the cedar it would simply smash the avocado tree now, but if the avocado tree weren't there and a nice little cottage was, with Isabella maybe sleeping happily inside?

Plot thinks this project is not going to happen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The New Olympus

Plotnik finally lost or was relieved of his trusty Cannon Sure Shot. After searching everywhere possible for a week, he bought a new Olympus. As would be expected, the new camera cost 1/4 of what the old one did and is many times more powerful and even smaller. But using it the way Plotnik uses a digital camera, you'll never detect any difference in the photos. Point. Bang. Point again. Bang. That's what we're looking for here.

And anyway, some people are just better picture takers than others. Plotnik takes more interesting photos than lots of others, but he's a rank amateur compared to jj-aka-pp or The Great Domin-Nik, both of whom could take prize winners with a Minnie Mouse Zero Pixel.

Plot thinks this will be the last digital camera he ever buys -- by the time he loses this one it will be time for an I-Phone that also combines an excellent lens camera phone with the movie function of the Flip Cam. It'll probably also cook your breakfast. It's just a matter of time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Facebook Searches: What if Your Old Friends Are as Boring As You Are?

So, who exactly do you want to find on Facebook?

Plotnik has thought about his friends from the past. Each time he thinks about searching for them, he says....nahhhh. If I didn't want to talk to them for the past forty years, why now? The few good friends he had years ago are mostly dead. But there might be exceptions.

One is Carol, with whom Plotnik traveled to Mexico many years ago, Before that trip she was a great friend, but, well, Plot did not behave very well on that adventure, and afterwards things were never the same. But she was so cool, and Ducknik met her later and liked her too. Plot wishes Carol had a Facebook page but she does not appear to.

Then, there's his friend Tom, who was the first real Eastern blueblood Plottie ever ran into. Tom was the first to turn Plotnik on to jazz, as well as to most of the other delicious vices that made so much sense when we were young and invulnerable. Tom went to Selma to march with Dr. King and afterwards he and Plotnik lived together for one semester, but went their separate ways. Last heard, Tom was a forest ranger somewhere in...Oregon? He doesn't have a Facebook page either.

And Dennis. Denny was a jump off a high diving board into a sponge. You knew it made no sense but it was more fun than studying. He and Plotnik ran around a lot together once. Denny would keep find another diving board and Plotnik would search frantically for a sponge.

These three young people taught the young Plotnik about himself. Before knowing Carol, Plotnik hadn't felt particularly attractive. That she was interested in him was miraculous. Tom taught Plotnik he could keep his feet on the ground when tripping through the Ozone. Tom needed to learn that lesson better.

And Denny loved confusing people. In college, he always had dates with at least two women, and would often need Plottie to take out one of them. For a shy kid, this was found money. Plottie lived in a beautiful little basement room high in the Berkeley hills with a view of the Golden Gate bridge and a rented piano next to his bed. Denny would bring women to listen to Plotnik play. Plottie knew the right songs. Jeez, what a year.

It took many years for Plot to work out that Dennis always listened when Plotnik played. He was teaching his friend something too, something that came out of the music, or the simple act of slowing down to listen. But Young Plot was too awestruck to understand that then. He just felt grateful for a friend with moxie, whose favorite expression was: if you don't want to do something, ask permission. If you do want to do it, do it.

Before Dennis, and Tom and Carol too, Plot was headed for a degree in Sameness. After knowing them, he was a fool for awhile, but he woke up. Now he is so boring he puts the Nightly News to sleep. He wishes his old friends had Facebook pages,but Jeez: what if they're boring too?

Meanwhile, everybody else, please stop requesting that Plotnik take quizzes or surveys or competitions. Plottie doesn't HAVE ten favorite boy bands and he doesn't want to compare his IQ to yours, a'ight?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Perfect Night at the Theater

Every once in a great while the reviewer has to sit on his hands, as he watches a perfect performance of a perfectly written masterpiece. August Strindberg's "Miss Julie," in the hands of the Aurora Theater Company's restaging of the 1888 drama, is that play. Plotnik wishes tickets didn't cost $40 and $42, because seeing this production in the tiny confines of Berkeley's Aurora, where you are practically writhing on the stage with the performers, is what live theater should always be about. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of "Miss Julie" here, but you'd better bring a fire hose to cool you off afterwards.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

KDP and Shantaram

Fermented horse's milk is not all it's cracked up to be, according to KDP, the Kazakh Desert Princess, in a letter brought this morning by a virtual rider on a digital camel. KDP has now returned to Shymkent, Kazakhstan after spending two weeks with her sister D.C. Niecie in Beijing. So what did she have to talk about? Chinese food, of course -- the Peking Duck in one place and the fermented red bean paste in another and the Texas BBQ and Guinness (!) in a third. Apparently, the girl is 'way over greasy meat and no veggies.

After eating her height and weight in China, KDP is back to her current reality. These long stays in foreign lands are never easy, and by now the novelty has probably worn off for her, so the longer, tougher part has begun. Plottie wishes he could bring her a carne asada taco and arugula salad.

Meanwhile, Plotnik finally finished Shantaram, 1000 pages after the adventure began. It's one of those unforgettable masterpieces an author only does once, and even this one, as good as it was, dragged towards the end, which it seemed like the author maybe added on, after he had his book deal and was being told to keep it going, to create more characters and adventures for the movie.

But wow, what a tale. Supposedly the first 600 pages the author wrote were destroyed in prison when he was recaptured after the events of this story ended. He served nine years and is now released, living in Bombay and, yes, working on another book.

Plotnik has never read anything like it and recommends Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts to everyone. Mummy P. is reading it on tape now and, amazingly, with all the violence, she loves it too.