The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Five Years With French Food and Farai

That's Farai Chideyah posing with Celebrity Blogger T.G. Plotnik. Last night was a very special occasion, it being the FIFTH Anniversary of La Jubilacion de la Pata, that is the fifth anniversary of The Great Ducknik's retirement from Mother Bank and removal of the Golden Handcuffs.

To celebrate, Plottie and Duckie walked into Glen Shmark and had a fantastic dinner at Little Larry's.

The sign on the door says "Le P'tit Laurent," and they speak French and serve French food in there, but the place is known as Little Larry's so Little Larry's it is.

Plot and Duck haven't eaten much French food since they were in France (you're smart to eat French food in France, unlike when you're in England where if you eat anything but samosas you are taking your life in your hands). Little Larry really can hit the old saucepan. The duck confit salad was a la morte (to die) and the mushroom and sausage soup was tres faboloozie.

Mmmmmm, raviolis and succulent lamb shank, that is les noodles avec les baaaah yum-mos, were even better.

And afterwards, while walking home past Bird and Beckett Books's new location, where the old Glen Shmark Library used to be, they saw a sign on the door that said: Tonight! Farai Chideyah!

So in they went and there she was, reading from her new book "Kiss the Sky." Only a few people were there, but Plot and Duck sat down as she read the juicy parts and spoke about black rock music, and about being a journalist and novelist and how the two compare.

She had a great tip for all of us, given to her before the fools at PBS canceled her news and talk show. She said a coach there told her to write out three paragraphs that she planned to use, read them out loud, then repeat by memory everything she could. Whatever she could remember stayed. Whatever she couldn't: adios. Now, that's fantastic editing advice.

Afterwards Plot and Duck introduced themselves to her and told her they'd seen her speak at The Great PD's Graduation from Annenberg School of Journalism, and then she stared carefully at The Great Plotnik and, shyly, asked if he were THE famous T.G. Plotnik, Celebrity Blogger, who seems to be everywhere in the blogosphere, even on Chenery Street at 8:30pm, and he said "shucks" and tugged at his forelock, and then Duck took the above photo, in which Plotnik was smiling, with teeth, for the twelve seconds it takes for Duck to actually PRESS the button, but not on the thirteenth.

Interesting sidelight about the choice of that word 'forelock.' Earlier in the evening, while at Little Larry's, Plot received a text from The Great PD, asking: "Why do Hasids always drive SUVS?" (He's right, and they also always wear white socks.) It was tailor made for a snappy comeback but Plot couldn't think of anything. Ducknik, however, came up with this one: "Because they like having fore locks." Get it? Four -- fore -- locks -- SUVS - four doors -- Hasids -- forelocks. You go, Ducknik!

Then they walked home, on a gorgeous early summer night. Sometimes this place amazes even us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Story from Hanky and One from Ken Kesey

(Many thanks to Hanky Girl for that wonderful story yesterday. I would love to have seen the girlie's face when she told him she was pregnant and that the baby was surely his and then he said "Now that's interesting, you see, since I had a vasectomy when I was 21.")

Meanwhile, once again Plotnik rues the price of theater in America. San Francisco Playhouse and Aurora Theater Company, one in SP and the other in The Near East (Bay), produce consistently excellent and exciting theater that Plotnik knows his readers would love, and the venues are small and intimate so you really get a sense of the performances. But tickets at both theaters are $40 each. Even before the current crunch, with incomes pressured but costs not decreasing, it was hard to interest people in paying a hundred bucks or so for a night's entertainment, when cable is cheap and you can always play Grand Theft Guitar Hero.

So what happens? Plot and Duck see fantastic shows they would love to share with their friends, but with the exception of the Mushnik/Billnik Organization nobody ever goes to see any of them.

And theater audiences get older and older. Nowhere is this worse than at Theatreworks in Mountain View, where you feel like they're wasting their time to point out the emergency exits because the roof would cave in before people got those walkers headed up the aisle. But the same is true at other theaters and in other cities, at a time when only older people who have season subscriptions and low mortgages seem to be going to the theater.

One of these nights they're going to stop a performance somewhere to let the EMTs do CPR on an entire row.

But go to ACT and sit close and your senses are boggled at the labor that goes into staging and costuming and lighting, to say nothing of story, direction and acting. This ain't Cuba: somebody's got to pay for it. So prices remain high.

Pity, because once again, there's a new Four Star kid in town: SF Playhouse's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It's superb, if perhaps not quite as unique as "Jack Goes Boating," currently running at the Aurora. We reviewed 'Jack' last week, and you can read the SF Theater Blog review of "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" here. You'd better keep your eyes on the amazing Big Chief.

And to those to whom this question would make sense: When you see that photo above does anyone see ex-Tiaposian Sharon Carew?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's Way Too Hot for Gay Pride

MAN, it's hot! Well, at least by Saint Plotniko standards. This morning at the b-ball court, the guys slogged up and down the court, then packed into the tiny bit of bench where there was some shade between games, 'til it was time to walk back onto the broililng asphalt to play again. The older guys (Plotnik) always want to play in the heat more than the younger guys do. "Hey, Jose! I'm twice your age and I'm out here ready to go! Hey, Alfredo! You gonna let somebody your grandfather's age put you to shame?"

The answer Plotnik kept getting was one or another variant of "Oh, shut the f___ up."

Riding home from the court on the Plotzkicycle, Plot heard, for at least the tenth time in the last day, "Thriller" blasting from someone's car stereo.

We're lucky. World Headquarters has three levels. Downstairs, where the bedrooms and living spaces mostly are, is always cool. The main level, where the kitchen, dining room, billiard parlor and reading rooms are, is hotter. Upstairs, in the Lair of the Beezie and the World Archive of Plotnik Sacred Texts (attic), it's stiflingly hot, even with all the new insulation in the roof.

Meanwhile, it's Gay Pride Weekend. This means that last night, as Plot and Duck were trying to get to SF Playhouse for the opening of the fantastic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," the streets in the Mission were completely blocked by Dykes on Bikes. A few detours around and a hop onto the freeway finally took care of the problem, but as Plot was seething behind the wheel in stopped traffic, he and Duck were thinking the same thing: "I don't really care about Gay Pride anymore. Marry whomever you want and have the same rights everybody else gets, but just don't block my FREAKING traffic!"

To be honest, he feels the same way when the bicycle coalition blocks the streets, and the same way when it's NO MORE WAR IN IRAQ! Can't we protest without making everybody else in a crowded little city have to pay the price? We're on your side, guys, c'mon.

Today there will be several hundred thousand people downtown at City Hall for a rally. Not this kid. It's hot. Pass the lemonade.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

When The Big One Comes, We'll Have Some Great Wine

Yes, the Plotniks are well prepared. Now that they are certified NERT volunteers, they have fixed their Earthquake Kit.

Well, they've started. With the wine.

Because it just so happens that the Plotniks, who before moving to Northern Shmalifornia thought wine came in a keg or a 12-ounce bottle, yesterday received their thrice-annual Wine Club shipment from their favorite winery Il Gioiello in Amador County. The Great Plotnik World Headquarters Wine Cellar happens to share a crawl space with the Great Plotnik World Headquarters Earthquake Kit. Right now, as you can see, the Earthquake survival component is somewhat minimal. However, should the power be out for a few days, everyone hanging out at World Headquarters will have some really fine zinfandels, cabs and viogniers to chew on. There might be a few Oreo cookies in there too, but Plotnik doesn't remember.

If you look carefully at both pictures above you'll see the corkscrew at the margins of the photo. That corkscrew will come in handy if anyone needs to dig out from mud damage or turn off a gas meter or give CPR to a drowning cat. Of course, it can also multi-task for opening one or more of those bottles of wine. You'll also see a few gallons of water, which have only been in there for, oh, five years?

Every time the wine shipment comes, Plotnik plays with it, like a cat with a moth. He stacks it up, lines it up, shuffles it around, speaks to it with an Italian accent. Then he takes its picture. If the Big One came at that moment, all he would have to find would be that corkscrew.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't Matter if You're Black or White

So it's 1970. Ducknik and Plotnik have gone to a half-posh restaurant somewhere in upper Manhattan and sitting at the table next to them is a large family: the Jacksons. The Jackson Five have broken out into the mainstream, and Michael is the lead singer with the incomparable voice, but in this family he's just another child who is supposed to behave. Ducknik doesn't recognize them but Plotnik does.

Michael's father and mother (you never hear about Michael Jackson's mother) and all his brothers and sisters are there. They sit upright. Nobody talks but the father: Dad rules the roost. Michael Jackson may be on the road to superstardom but not at this table.

Plot and Duck eat their dinner trying not to stare, but Plot really likes the Jackson Five and peeks every chance he gets. This is obviously not an autograph situation. The Jacksons are still having dessert when Plot and Duck pay their check and walk out. Plotnik nods to Mr. Jackson and he nods back.

Did any child ever have a voice like 5- or 8- or 10-year old Michael? Later, Jermaine Jackson has some limited success and Janet Jackson does too, but Michael morphs into the most popular entertainer as well as the most recognizable human being on the planet. He's not just successful, he's Mega Multi Supra. He's completely unique. And he's really, really good. The records he makes with Quincy Jones are the greatest pop records of all time. There is nothing Michael cannot do with music -- fantastic singer, ridiculously good dancer and choreographer, the best of his generation.

He's on the top so long people don't even know when he's fallen off. Even after he's sick, and crazy, and maybe a pederast or maybe not, he can give a concert on a moment's notice and draw 100,000 people to any concert hall or stadium in the world. They're going to have to give back the money to 750,000 people right now who have bought tickets to see someone who hasn't been on a stage in many years. When did Michael Jackson become Judy Garland?

Life got worse, Michael had multiple operations and held babies out of windows and was supported by death-like wraiths like Elizabeth Taylor, and then he was appearing in public rarely, shrouded in black. And then, all of a sudden -- yesterday little Michael died. He was only 49.

He made more money than England but they say he's Beaucoup Millions in debt.

Poor Farah Fawcett. Timing is everything.



It's his blog, so here is Plotnik's beef:

What was Michael Jackson's biggest crime? He seemed, to white people, to be trying to surgically undo his blackness.

Forget all the sensationalist paparazzi stuff -- celebrities are infamous for being the other side of loopy. He didn't die young like James Dean or Jim Morrison or even Elvis. He had more time to be insane in public and everyone was watching.

But the skin thing -- ask practically any white person in America of a certain age and they will give you a derisive snort and shake of the head, as if it's common knowledge that Michael Jackson wanted to be white. Well, maybe he did and maybe he didn't. So how about all the white soul singers and the Irish girls wearing dreadlocks? Isn't a style or fashion statement simply that? And either way: is this really something to despise?

There is really only one person to compare Michael Jackson to: Stevie Wonder. Stevie, obviously, could never be a performer like Michael, but the two of them made the most long-lasting musical statements of their age. Everyone loves Stevie: he's black and he's blind.

Michael Jackson would have to go a long way for The Great Plotnik not to be sad he is gone. Michael influenced everyone. Osama bin Laden is probably sitting on his sofa in his cave right now, watching 'Thriller.'

Message for Osama: Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough.

So put a Jackson Five Greatest Hits record in my bag when they shoot me off into space. Don't Matter if You're Black or White out there. It's blue and so am I.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Opening Nights

Last night, when The Great Plotnik saw Theresa Rebeck's "Mauritius" at the Magic Theatre, he was reminded that there are only a few days left in the run. Usually, reviewers see a show on Opening Night, which is also Press Night, when the actors are pumping energy. They may not have all their lines and moves and inflections down perfectly yet, but they know this is the make-or-break night of the run and an audience will never see better acting.

Plot has been there of course. Once, he was the replacement piano player with the band Big Daddy on a tour of Australia. He had been rehearsing for weeks, but had many cues to remember and parts to play on which the other band members were depending. He was scared stiff on Opening Night, but also flying on adrenaline. The show was terrific -- Plot didn't play as well as he would a few weeks later in the run, but the band was smoking and the reviewers were stoked. Or drunk: it's Australia, after all. Probably drunk AND stoked.

Back to last night's performance of Mauritius. The Plotniks had been in Brooklyn when the show opened and received rave reviews. But last night it felt tired -- one of those things you can't really pinpoint. The gears didn't seem to mesh. The bad guys were not very bad -- the chief bad guy sometimes spoke like Hamlet and sometimes like Paulie Walnuts. 'Mauritius' has gotten fabulous reviews, including a rave by the BirdWrap and both sides of the Mushnik/Billnik organization. So Plotnik is scratching his head. It must have been the acting. Or the mistletoe. Something.

Meanwhile, the datura are in full bloom and their perfume is matchless. The Great Meatball Kitchen smells like paradise.

You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of Mauritius here, but it smells somewhat less sweet than the datura.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No Power Failures

Plotnik has made it a habit to cook extra amounts of sauces and freeze them in 2-person serving containers, so when he and Ducknik return from overseas or overland to an empty refrigerator it is easy to cook up some rice or pasta, pour the sauce over it and chow down.

But this last trip took care of the last bit of Ragu Bolognese. So it's time to make more. Since Monday the World Headquarters Kitchen has been bubbling around the clock. The Bolognese Sauce is simmering away now (it takes close to 5 hours to make a double batch), the Pollo a la Cacciatora got made Monday and the Cochito Chiapaneco yesterday. These are all staples of the Plotnik Kitchenography at this point -- the Bolognese from America's Test Kitchen (simple, but time consuming), Cacciatora (chicken) from the Saveur Italian Standards booklet and the Cochito (pork with ancho and guajillo chiles) from Rick Bayless. After the Plots consume vast quantities when the recipes are first ready, they should yield maybe two large frozen containers each, which should set us up for Argentina and back a couple times, barring a power failure.

Remember when you had a big one of those? One year in college, Plot lived in a room down the hall from the kitchen. Though no one else on the floor used that kitchen, they all had to pass by it.

Plotnik forgot to clean out the fridge when he went home for a long vacation. Everyone else went home too. Since all the students had gone away, the owner of the building turned off the power to save some money.

He must have left town too, because when Plot walked up to his building three weeks later, he could smell his kitchen from two blocks away. He kept hoping that stench didn't belong to him, but it was his. People had come back before he had but they weren't going to do anything about it, no matter how gross the stink, because, after all, it wasn't their kitchen, and anyway light enough bongs and turn on enough Ornette Coleman and old broccoli starts to smell like a jazz club.

The lesson learned: broccoli smells worse after three weeks than milk or cheese.

OK, NotThat, are you still hungry?

Moral of the story: cook up a storm and hope the power stays on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On The Streets in Iran

While we've been concentrating on our blogs and jobs and meals and children and how to add melodic interest to that chorus, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been out on the streets protesting how their government stole their last election. Not only were more votes counted for the government candidates than are actually registered to vote, but only opposition candidates approved by the government had been allowed to run in the first place.

So do the people do what we did when Bush stole 2000? No. They take to the streets to demand justice, and quite a few have paid the price.

Forget Ayatollah Khomeini. He's as 1970s as Jimmy Carter. The Iranians are our natural allies in the region, they have the largest and strongest country and they are not Arabs. They fear the Arabs just as we do, and for the same reasons. Think about that before you want to see Obama do or say something to gum up the situation there. Time is on everyone's side here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Three Plays, a Ball Game and VOG

It was a great theater weekend -- three interesting shows, all different, all excellent. Friday night's "Jack Goes Boating" was a West Coast Premiere, novel and heartwarming. Saturday night's Samantha Chanse show was experimental, funny and beautifully written and performed by a young woman from whom we hope we'll be hearing more. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of "Back to the Graveyard" here.

Last night, Plotnik and Ducknik met up with The Greats Mushnik and Silent Bill for slurpy good Thai noodle soup across the street from A.C.T. Theater, then the four went and saw "Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo." This is big time classical theater, and wow. The chicken-coconut soup rattled around in the stomach as Albee's dialogue popped one zinger after another. You can read the SF Theater Blog Review of "Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo" here.

This is Plotnik's cousin Shelley. She lives in Kona with a brood of kids and grandkids. Kona, that's Big Island. She was in town yesterday and told Plotnik that this year, for the first time since she's lived in Hawaii, the trade winds have disappeared. These are the winds that have always taken the volcanic plumes of dust that are emitted periodically from one of the Big Island's three volcanoes, and blown them to the West. This year: no wind. The result is VOG. That's smog plus volcano: VOG.

The Plotzers were playing the Anaheim Goofeys yesterday on TV, so Plotnik DVR'd the game and watched it when he got home from A.C.T. He's got to say one thing about the Plotzers: this year, so far, they win games they would definitely have lost in past years. The Goofeys are good but they'll never beat the Damned Yankees.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What To Do On Father's Day

Before The Great Ducknik learned better, as Father's Day was approaching she used to say: "Honey? What would you like to do on Father's Day?"

Now she knows the answer would be:

"I want to wake up, squeeze some fresh orange juice, lace on my shoes and ride my bike down to the basketball court. I want to run around a few hours, then ride my bike back to the house. I want to take a shower and then make myself a latte and a toasted bagel with cream cheese, onion, tomato and sea salt sprinkled on top. Then I want to turn on the computer and mess around with absolutely no plans."

"But that's what you do every Sunday," Ducknik might have said, if she didn't already know better.

It's nice when every Sunday is like Father's Day, except that what makes today special is that Plotnik is likely to talk to both kids (even though both of them wished him Happy Father's Day early). He might even get to talk to Isabella. He will definitely call Mummy Plotnik and Schmeckl Plotnik, because they're the only two people left who knew Plotnik's father and two stepfathers, and those men deserve a Happy Father's Day too, wherever they are.

Actually, Plotnik knows exactly where they are: each one in a different cemetery in Stiletto City, Sherman in Hollywood, Harold in the North Valley, Chiefie in the East Valley. Isn't that crazy?

RINGGG - it's The Great PunkyDunky, calling from the bleachers at Citi Park, new home of the Mets. 5H surprised him with tickets to see the Mets play the Rays. As we're talking, he says WOOOO-OOOO-OOOOOH! as a foul ball comes within ten feet of them. "I can't talk anymore Dad, I love you, bye."

Isabella was briefly on the phone. "Happy Father's Day, Papa, I love you, Papa," she said, before the Cracker Jack box took her interest away. Wow. Now that's what Plotnik calls a great Father's Day present.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What a Great Show

If you have a birthday or anniversary coming up and you're looking to see something that is both outrageous and heartwarming, The Great Plotnik suggests you take her/him/them to "Jack Goes Boating" at the Aurora Theater, which is next door to Berkeley Rep in downtown Berkeley. It's sooooo good and Plotnik can guarantee everyone will thank you for it. There are no bad seats at the Aurora, because it's only four rows deep, so it won't matter where you sit. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review here, but you'd better get tickets quickly -- this show is going to sell out a small theater quickly as word gets around. Der Witt gave it a Little Man Leaping this morning in the Morning Bird Wrap.

By the way, here's how the San Mateo Bridge looked from the air at 6:10pm Thursday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Plotnik Needs a Taco

Plotnik had never seen a getup like this one, on or off an airplane. A camouflage shirt, a different color camouflage shorts worn over green pajamas with LUCKY CHARMS logos all over them, and white socks. A gray pony tail. The man walked up and down the aisles, constantly drinking a soda with a straw from a plastic cup. He poured the soda from the can into the cup as he walked, back and forth, back and forth.

The flight from Providence to Phoenix, on the way to S-P, was a long one, 5 1/2 hours with strong headwinds. Plot sat next to Captain Jolly, a Southwest pilot deadheading back to his home in Phoenix from Providence (which means riding as a passenger, not flying the plane). He was in a great mood. Captain Jolly told Plotnik some interesting facts, such as:

Fly in the rear. It's safer for sure, because falling planes tend to land on the tail, which cushions the fall, and then the nose of the plane, which is up in the air on impact, comes crashing down at great force.

The Air France plane that disappeared in the middle of the night over the Atlantic two weeks ago probably was hit by lightning, knocking out its radar, so it couldn't see the enormous equatorial thunderstorm it was about to run smack into. That thunderstorm probably broke the plane apart at 10,000 feet, which is why the bodies they have recovered from the ocean have no clothes on and have multiple limbs missing.

Try that one on for a nice conversation before takeoff.

Then Captain Jolly got going. When he was in the military they used to have to fly into the highest airport in the world, in La Paz, Bolivia. If you don't follow the flight plan exactly, you will run into a mountain. You won't see the mountain, which is hidden in clouds, until you hit it.

You have no idea how much force a tropical thunderstorm contains. Why, that plane could have been blown to smithereens in an instant.

The Captain also said Southwest doesn't make money until passenger number 100 boards the plane (their 737s hold 137 passengers). And passengers are not called passengers, but revs. (Think: revenue.)

And he did not have a Texas accent.

Houses in Providence are very tall. But Phoenix is flat. It's also butt-ugly. Plotnik would rather live practically anywhere other than Phoenix.

It took around an hour and a half to get from the dust of Phoenix until the 737 broke through the clouds over Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. Saint Plotniko was waiting like an old pal you'd been missing and just found on Facebook.

It is so gorgeous here. The Plotniks took the tram to BART and rode into Glen Park, and while they waited on the corner for the 26-Valencia bus, the air smelled of the Pacific Ocean and Chinese food. That's Saint Plotniko.

The tomato plants grew a foot with Plotnik gone. The raspberries ripened but there should be another week or two to the season. The arugula is pretty much gone to seed but that guarantees another enormous 8-month crop starting in October. The mail was piled up inside the door and it was all garbage. The sofa. The bed. Gotta have a taco.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time For a Celebration and Time to Go Home

While even the Stiletto City cops brought out their cameras to catch all the action at the Lakers Championship Parade yesterday, Plot and Duck were winding down their last full day in Providence.

The thing is, every trip starts with a "Great to Be Going" and ends with a "Time to Come Home."

Downtown Providence has a small river and a collection of statues honoring veterans from all wars, primarily Ambrose Burnside, a Union general during the Civil War, who must have come from here. Times must be tough in Providence, though, because there doesn't seem to be much commerce taking place, except from kids standing on street corners looking ready to dart into a dark corner at the drop of a hat. Many vets, whose service is honored by those statues, seem to be sleeping on park benches and wandering around the bus station.

But Providence may only look that way because it's time to go home. It was tempting to think taking a few more days in Brooklyn, but since the Plotniks are using up a Southwest frequent flier ticket, and SW still has another few weeks of flying only out of Islip Airport on Long Island which is a major schlep to get to from Brooklyn, and since Plot has three plays to review this weekend, and since The Great PD has to work on Saturday and BZWZ's schedule has been completely disrupted by the events of the past few weeks -- it's time to go home.

It was fun to spend the last night in Providence with BZ and Ben but it's time to go home.

It was fun to be in Brooklyn with The Great PunkyDunky, The Great FiveHead and Brooklyn Bellybone, but it's time to go home.

Go Lakers! And go East Coast Plotniks! We'll be back very soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adjusting the Variable Spark Dingus

The question has been raised as to why the Plotniks felt obliged to hit all the big box stores in Southern Massachusetts. The reason was to fill up BZWZ's Ford Explorer at Ikea with a new futon, two end tables, a kitchen table, a bathroom storage dingus, and the usual supply of random fluorescent bulbs and Ikea tupperware. All of that didn't cost much money and it fit easily into the Glorious SUV.

Life is slow in Providence -- it's a perfect place to be a grad student. But Plotnik would probably not be able to last too long without burritos and chile verde, though the new Ikea dining table would be a fine place to consume then.

The pushback towards Saint Plotniko has been delayed one day. There is talk of further delays involving long bike rides and pastrami sandwiches in The Apple, but so far the only apple is the one everybody is staring at.

Incidentally, while in the East Plot has been able to talk a lot of Man Talk about cars. He has no idea what he's talking about, but he has found that saying: " just have to adjust the variable spark level an extra two microns..." seems to elicit favorable responses from drunk college students in sports bars.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Walmart is a Very Scary Place

Walmart, even in Seekonk, Mass, is a very scary place.

This is Vegan Pizza in Pawtucket, R.I.

Plotnik ate several slices of famed New York Pizza in Brooklyn, NY, and none of 'em were any tastier than this one, though admittedly portabello mushrooms are not pepperoni. The udon soup was really good too, and probably used 1/25 of the salt of the udon soup in a Japanese restaurant back home. Those round things with the holes in 'em are lotus root, not Cheezy Wagon Wheelz.

But back to Walmart. It must be getting time to be heading home, because the Plotniks are hitting all the Big Box stores that don't exist in Saint Plotniko. Yesterday it was Walmart (DAMN! THAT IS AN AWFUL PLACE!) and Target. Today we're driving to a suburb of Boston to go to Ikea.

The major difference between Target and Walmart is smell. When you walk in the door of Walmart you are overwhelmed by the accumulated odors of artificial air fresheners and imitation foodstuffs and thousands upon thousands of musty Chinese cardboard boxes and the cheap stink of all the rank cologne worn by the undereducated checkout personnel, to say nothing of the vanishing sense of America as it is being flushed into a polluted river.

Target smells like the fresh-popped popcorn they have at the front door.

If Ikea in Stoughton, Mass, is anything like the Ikea in Emeryville, Plotnik may as well say adios now, because once you're inside it's hard to ever find your way out. But he likes Swedish meatballs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's So Good About Good-Bye? And Kobe.

Yesterday at the park in Providence, the afternoon was disappearing too quickly and Plotnik was conscious of every passing second. Now it was four o'clock and time to say good-bye to The Great PunkyDunky, and to The Great FiveHead, and to the precious Brooklyn Belly, so they could get in the car and on the road for their four hour drive back to Brooklyn. Everyone hugged and tried to stay merry, but at first Isabella didn't get what was happening. She told Plotnik she loved him THIS MUCH (she put her fingers together, almost touching, playing the joke she and Plot had been playing all week, where her next move would be to say "...and THIS MUCH" and open her arms wide), except that PD then turned around, with her in his arms, and started walking towards their car.

Belly spun around on his shoulder, staring at Plotnik and Ducknik and BZWZ and Ben, who weren't moving, and the look of such sadness, as she realized for the first time that everybody wasn't getting in the car and coming with her like we'd been doing since a week ago Wednesday, that this time good-bye really was good-bye, at least for awhile, was pure torture.

Oh, did that hurt. Plotnik knows she loves him arms open, not fingers shut, but it's already the next morning, and he should be thinking about the Laker Championship, but he keeps seeing Belly's sad and beautiful little eyes, not Kobe's.

Later yesterday afternoon Plot and Duck toured around Pawtucket (the next town over from Providence) with BZ and Ben, and ended up in a great little ice cream shop. Plottie wasn't hungry. Ducknik said to him: "Are you all right? You're so quiet." Plot just shook his head.

Belly would have loved to slurp an ice cream cone but she was out on I-95 and Plottie kept seeing her eyes on his boy's shoulder as it dawned on her that Papa and Bobo and Ben and BZ were staying and she was going.

Ouch, ouch, ouch. This grandparent thing is easy until it's murder.

Of course, visiting in Brooklyn is about PD and 5H, not just Isabella. They're the reason it's so much fun to go there, just like it was in Stiletto City and New Orleans before that, even before there was a Belly or a Bumby Umby.

And being in Providence means getting to laugh a lot and hang around with The Great BZWZ in a very appealing place. Both kids keep asking "Why are you going home? Why don't you two just stay longer?" Usually, it's easy to answer: home is home. Your bed is your bed. And anyway ya gotta go back before they get sick of you.

Right. We have to go home because...we have to go home. Right. Right?

Well, Plotnik will deal with the rest of that on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Plotnik had all three big screens to himself to root for the Lakers last night in Spats' Sports Bar down by the university. Nobody cared. The few people who were in the place were concentrating on beer drinking.

It's a lot more fun to celebrate a hard-earned championship with other people to whom this type of thing matters. Still, Providence has the best biscotti in the world and tonight Duck and Plot will try to find a Portuguese restaurant to go to with BZ and Ben. Life is good and continues to be so.