The Great Plotnik

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Really Matters

At the airport this morning, the young scientist hugged her dad as they stood at the curb at Delta. Lots of cars passed by, some grumpily backing up to go around, since the roadway was now partially blocked. The clouds parted -- did they? The world is a better place when dads hug their daughters and daughters hug their dads.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yahoo, a baby! And a New Bridge Photo!


Baby to be Named Later has been born in Washington, D.C., a healthy boy, son of Sarah and Jonathan, grandson of Captain Crow and Helmsman Finch. This baby was overdue by Enough, Already. It's very nice to welcome you to the team, whatever your name will turn out to be.

The funny part is that when Crow and Finch and Plot and Duck were lazing away in the cabin of the Alliance, in the Spring, drinking rum punches and occasionally lifting an eyebrow towards the brilliant tropical sun dropping through the cormorants into the warm blue sea, the conversation often turned to Sarah and Jonathan's choices of baby names. Let Plotnik tell ya, they had some doozies.

First time parents always have doozies, but then when they see the baby they turn to each other and say: "Honey, maybe we shouldn't name him Bumgartner."

This has apparently happened. We shall keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Baby Number Two, belonging to The Great Jade-Nik and The Great Nik-Nik, is also due Enough, Already. They, too have picked out some doozies, including Stevie Wonder song titles. Jeez. Whatever happened to Bill and Ed and Mary?



On Monday, the lighthouse at Point Bonita is open, for humans and Stellar Seals.

First, a mandatory stop was made at the Golden Gate Bridge along with a mandatory walk halfway across the bridge, into eardrum-shattering mandatory wind gusts from the West. Fortunately, all four ears in this photo were protected.

The lighthouse is so close, and yet so isolated and windswept and fun to walk out to.

Afterwards, Plotnik was shown something he had needed to know about: the World Famous Cliff House Popovers. (Thanks to Bert Decker for this photo -- the popovers are nestled in the basket.) These popovers were recommended most highly by the parents of Ben-Z, obviously world-class gourmands.

They are SOOO good, and come for free as soon as you sit down at the table. Of course, you then feel duty bound to order some pretty pedestrian clam chowder to justify the popovers, but it's all worth it. Mmmmmm, Popovers! Vitamin P, the perfect food.

AND: Another BRIDGE PHOTO! to add to the collection. It's been quite awhile since a new one got added. Thanks to Ben-Z and BZ for this one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This morning TGP called his Mom to find her in tears. Apparently she had just gotten off the phone to discover that her sister-in-law, Plotnik's Aunt Margie, is dying and may not last out...well, it could happen at any time.

It's stranger than that. All night long, before she got the phone call, Mummy P. dreamed she was holding Aunt Margie's hand. Margie was lying in bed but wouldn't speak, though Mummy P. kept asking her to. Whenever Mummy P. closed her eyes, there Aunt Margie would be.

The dream spooked her. Then the phone rang.

Plotnik told his mom that if she ever dreams about him lying there that she is to kick him hard, wake him up for God's sake.

Aunt Margie was 14 when she met Mummy Plotnik, who was dating Margie's big brother, Plotnik's father. Margie is 86 now and as you know Mummy P. is a few weeks shy of 95. These two women have been friends for more than seventy years, through deaths and illnesses, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Just last year, when Aunt Margie was moving into an assisted living apartment, she tried to get Mummy P. to become her roommate. But Margie lives in Southern Orange County, and it was just too far away for Mummy Plotnik to want to commit to it.

The idea was Margie is younger, she could take better care of Mummy P. But it didn't sound like a good idea to Mummy Plotnik, thank goodness.

Friends for 70 years. Wow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A 150 Per Cent Increase in Nectarine Production!

Reports from the Orchard Division at Great Plotnik World Headquarters indicate a 150% increase in nectarine production over 2008. (The 2009 calculation is based on the one nectarine we got in 2008, one half of which wasn't rotten.) In mathematical terms the trend is straight up!

You nattering nabobs of negativity may note there are only two nectarines, but these two will be TASTY!, we hope, if the birds don't get them first.

Meanwhile, the transformation of the 3-Fruit Citrus Tree, purchased around 1995 from Costco, into a Meyer Lemon Only Tree is complete. The little semi-dwarf beauty was transplanted five years ago into its current spot, and then over time has had its Washington Navel and Tangelo spurs methodically removed, when Plotnik could figure out which spur was an orange or a tangelo and not a lemon. The tree is now thriving as a Meyer Lemon Only tree. It seems to have taken those five years for its sturdy roots to hit paydirt down underground somewhere and now it is growing and stretching and acting like a fine citizen of the garden.

(The reason for the surgery is simple: Plotnik had just come from subtropical Stiletto City when he confidently purchased that tree. He did not yet understand the summertime cloud. But three-fruit citrus trees come on very strong rootstocks, even though navel oranges and tangelos don't survive in Saint Plotniko backyards. Pruned correctly, the tree now produces the Meyer lemons we love, but on an even stronger rootstock than a normal Meyer Lemon tree. Sharp thinkin,' eh?)

And cherry tomato season is upon us. These yummers will continue for several months, red ones and gold ones. The Sungolds are sweeter, but the Red Cherries have more tomato flavor, plus they re-seed themselves for next year.

Artichoke production remained the same in 2009 as in previous years, with the Harvest Per Fruit ratio being fixed at 0:All. This means whatever happens on the plant stays on the plant, since it apparently takes serious non-organic measures to keep the jillions of pincher bugs from swarming all over the artichokes, and then into your kitchen if you try to harvest them. So the Plotniks never eat their artichokes (the long-lived perennial plants were in the garden when they bought their house), but keep them for their gorgeous blue puffball flowers.

Meanwhile, two more major transformations have occurred back East. The Plotniks East have completed their move from Stroller Gulch to (Not That) Clinton Hill. We anxiously await photographs. Isabella reports their new apartment has TWO POTTIES!

AND -- take note, ladies -- a certain Plotnik appears to have cut her hair. We have seen one photo and the girl that was gorgeous with pounds of dreadlocks is still gorgeous without them. You shall see when all permissions are granted.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Recession? What Recession?

You wouldn't know there's a recession going on if all you saw was In And Out Burger on Highway 5. At least twenty people are working behind the counter and fifty or more are waiting for their ordinary, ordinary food. These 'animal style' French Fries were nothing to write home about at all.

To be perfectly honest, the tamales at Mama's Tamales aren't all that much either. Plotnik always expects more than he gets -- the filling is basically corn meal wrapped around a tiny amount of savoriness -- this photo is a before, not an after.

It was nice to see Chef Pickle and The Great Sparker the other night at Tiapos. Everyone is so busy now, it's rare when the group can gather in all the sheep at once. There were eight Tiaposians in attendance on Thursday. It would be so nice if this happened more frequently.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Planning The Party

As long as Mummy P. is around, The Great Plotnik can still be a kid. She's astounding, really -- you just have to understand the one ground rule, and that is she gets tired easily. Let her take a nap and she's sharp as any of us. Plottie would like to be like his mom when he grows up.

Schmeckl and TheGreat are planning her 95th Birthday Party, which will be at her house in a few weeks. They're attempting to walk the high wire with Mummy P., who cannot handle crowds very well anymore, but who also wants to invite the entire world. One minute she begs Plotnik: "please, Honey, don't invite too many people..." and the next minute she says "Why didn't you invite all the kids, and their kids, and that nice neighbor whose name I don't know but who waved to me once on the street?"

The saddest part is that her generation is just about gone. All her good friends have died, and the next tier too. Beanie, her one good neighborhood friend, died last year. Aunt Marge, who is the younger sister of Plotnik's father, now has lung cancer and can't leave her house. The other sister lives in Washington and has been about to die for at least thirty years. She can't travel.

On Mummy P's side, one brother is gone and the other is in his nineties and must stay in Michigan to take care of his wife. There are a few cousins, but it's not easy for anyone to make the trip west for the few hours that the party will entail.

Plotnik hates not being able to invite the local cousins' children -- but the numbers get too large, and they're all grown-ups, they understand.

And then there are the feuds, the idiotic and senseless feuds. What a colossal waste of time. Look at your watch, people. What is that minute hand doing?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night, Brought To You By San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino

The best part about the ballgame Wednesday night wasn't that Manny Ramirez hit the first pitch out of the park for a pinch hit grand slam which won the game, nor even that the place was rocking with the loudest cheering Plotnik has heard since 1988, nor that he did manage to buy his own Manny Ramirez 99 blue Dodger T-shirt, the only Medium in a sea of Double X-Ls, inside the gift shop where Manny T-Shirts and Manny fake plastic dreadlocks and Manny pictures and Manny God Knows Whatelses were flying out of the shop like free donuts at the Policeman's Ball, nor that he was sitting next to Ducknik who, while insisting she is still a Giants fan, still had to admit she had never seen anything quite like this --- but that everyone in the Upper Deck, where Plotnik, Ducknik, Ben-Z and Cousin Brother Two Names were sitting, and there were some treacherous-looking homies up there, were hugging and high-fiving each other, screaming at the top of their lungs, laughing and smiling like the Plotzers had just won the World Series, which they hadn't.

In fact, it was a relatively meaningless game in a relatively meaningless point in the very long baseball season. With Bobbleheads.

But that's after-thinking. In the moment, Plotnik was lifted to another spiritual hemisphere by Manuel Ramirez's bat, and 56,000 other people were too. The guy sitting a few seats down kept shouting to his friend: "Dude! Dude! This is why you become a sports fan! Dude!" That was Wednesday Night and right now it's Friday morning and Plotnik is still hoarse. He spent years learning to sing correctly so he wouldn't ever do that to his vocal chords, and in three minutes it all went out the window.

Bedlam. Delirium. It's Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night, but Manny Ramirez can't play, because he got hit on the wrist with a pitch the previous night. They hand you a bobblehead box as you walk into the stadium.

Back up: Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night was supposed to be sponsored by the Dodgers' Official Health Care Provider Kaiser Permanente. But after Ramirez got suspended for taking an illegal drug, Kaiser pulled out. Who stepped up to be the new sponsor of Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night? San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. Can you get any tackier than that? No sir, you can't.

Manny is sitting at the end of the bench the whole game, number 99 on his back.

Tie game. The Dodgers get two walks. Russell Martin is up and Manager Joe Torre sends Mark Loretta to the on-deck circle to pinch hit for the pitcher who will be up next. But Russell Martin gets a base hit to load the bases. 56,000 people are now screaming MANNY! MANNY! MANNY!

Manny is staring at the front of the dugout where Torre is. Torre nods his head. Loretta walks back to the dugout as Number 99 stretches, gets off his seat on the bench, grabs his helmet and strides onto the field to bat. The crowd goes crazy. MAN-NEE! MAN-NEE!

Manny Ramirez has his own section of fans, in left field, which is now known as MANNYWOOD. Out in Mannywood, fans are jumping up and down and tossing beach balls and screaming their spleens out.

Manager Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds walks slowly onto the field and replaces his pitcher with another one. Nice move, by the way, Dusty.

The new pitcher jogs onto the field to take his warmup pitches, perhaps feeling like a chicken sent out to combat an army of deep friers, while number 99 has disappeared back into the dugout. When the new pitcher is done warming up, out comes Manny again, slowly, like Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath, another great baseball movie. No, wait, not baseball, Dustball. Dust Bowl. Whatever.

Another thunderous round of applause.

He takes his spot in the batter's box, bounces up and down a few times, as he always does. The Great Plotnik takes this picture:

The pitcher decides to test Manny with an inside fastball. Manny hits an absolute rocket, a line drive that takes maybe two seconds to get out of the park for a grand slam home run. Where does it land? In MannyWood, of course.

You thought it was bedlam before? No, that was quiet conversation. THIS is bedlam.

The guy in back of Plotnik shouts in a beautiful chicano accent: "ONE F---ING PITCH, HOMES! NO POINT TO F---ING WAIT AROUND!"

How do you explain this feeling? How does a baseball player, who, by the way, earns $20-$25 million dollars a year, become such an integral part of the lives of everyday people? Plotnik has been to many baseball games, and recently most of those have been up in Saint Plotniko, and he has NEVER seen more people wearing hometown baseball shirts at a game. Not even close. Most of these were Number 99 Ramirez shirts (the one Plottie purchased, incidentally), but there were a lot of 34 Valenzuela shirts too, and Fernando Valenzuela retired two decades ago.

What it is, is that Ramirez is becoming the new Fernando in Stiletto City. He brings people together. Plotnik has read about how, two generations ago, integration happened in the stands long before it happened on the field. In Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, black people sat next to white people and cheered their asses off together, for years. Then Jackie Robinson came along and it became official. But it was real long before it was official.

It felt something like that at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday -- everyday people and gangsters and businessmen and school teachers and, probably, hookers and drug dealers and for sure plenty of guys with bad-ass prison tattoos, Latinos and everybody else too. And what was everybody wearing, or buying: 99 RAMIREZ.

Wow. Wish you were there too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Damn! It's COLD here!

It's almost 6pm, and the Plotniks, BZ and Ben-Z are home, but Plottie has TIAPOS at 7 so you only get this picture. Last night's game was absolutely incredible, one for the record books. Even Ducknik is still talking about it. Manana we explain-Nik.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Abuelo to Felafels

Abuelo and Abuela were out in their front yard when the Plotniks plus BZ and BenZ drove up to Kensington Street yesterday. They are the ex-next door neighboors of PD, 5H and BB, formerly LAB. The whole family came out to say hi, but Abuelo still wouldn't give Plotnik any of his world-famous blisteringly hot jalapenos he grows in the front yard.

The next cruise was over to the old neighborhood. Driving up the driveway, the Plots got out and took a picture of BZ and BenZ in front of the old house. Where BZ's Pooh wallpaper used to be, there is now some modernist sculpture. Life goes on, eh?

Mummy P. and BZ are looking great, as are Vash-Nik and Fef-Nik.

Tonight it's the top deck at Plotzer Stadium, followed by the drive back to Saint Plotniko tomorrow.

It was really nice to see everyone last night, but is the quality at Caroussell Restaurant, where the Plots have been going for at least 25 years, slipping a bit? That's two times in a row the kebabs were smaller and dryer than they used to be. But you can't beat the yogurt chicken and they make the best felafels in the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coffee at Tropical Later

Sunset from Mummy P's back patio. The drive down is always fast but the drive back never is. Plot and Duck pick up BZWZ and BenZ from the flyaway bus downtown today after their flight in from the Shmapple. We'll all only be here two days but BZ will get to spend her time with Mummy P.-- after our stop at Tropical for Cuban Coffee and a guayaba con queso as soon as they arrive. One thing for sure about Stiletto City in July: it's HOT.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Maybe a Box of Tangerines?

Drive, Eat, Eat, Drive: the Plotniks' short four-day trip to Stiletto. Today is drive. There will be no time to do anything much while there, but we'll be back in a few weeks for Mummy P.'s 95th Birthday.

Monday is not Sunday. Sunday was hot, lazy. Today it's cold and there are traffic jams out there. Plot and Duck haven't driven South in over a year, since the cost of plane tickets started going down, down, down. Those days seem to be over, at least during the summer. How can it be that a 12 hour-each-way flight to Buenos Aires only costs $500 round trip but 45 minutes to Stiletto City costs $200 there and back?

Of course, it's the middle of winter in Buenos Aires, but look outside, Plotnik! What do you see? Fog and wind. Once we're over the Bay Bridge, that'll be the end of that.

Fruit Stand in Avenal, here we come. Hope you're still there. Great tangerines this time of year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Best View in Town, One Great Show and One Less Great

Does she have a view of the city, or what?

There are only two shows left, both tonight, to see Yes, Sweet Can. This bunch of high energy circus performers are a ton of fun and the show is right here at the Mission Dance Theater. You'll love it. You can read the SF Theater Blog Review here, and expect to OOOH and AHHH.

What if Deepak Chopra got his start on the lot selling Chevy Novas? Rick Reynolds' new solo show at the Marsh is supposed to be inspirational, but we found it a little creepy. It has been extended, so people must be enjoying it. You can read the SF Theater Blog Review here.

It may be that the solo performer arc is heading to the finish line. The formula is so familiar now for so many writer/soloists: Discuss horrible childhood. Show how horrible childhood screwed you up. Show how you overcame your horrible childhood. End with homily about how horrible childhood isn't really so horrible. Sing We Shall Overcome (but don't do it in farsi, Joan Baez already beat you to it).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One Picture Is Worth a Barrel of Blather

The Great Plotnik planned to discuss a fabulous circus show he and Ducknik saw last night, but The Great PD sent this picture of BellyBone and The Great FiveHead, so what's more important?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Yo No Soy Marinero

The day started with the lady at Hans Art's VW Repair calling to say the yearly maintenance was completed but they had found a 'few' problems. One was the valve cover gasket ($250). The other was that the two rear tires both had nails in them and needed to be replaced anyway.

But Plot knows they charge too much at a dealer or repair shop for tires, so he and Duck drove down to Larkins Brothers on South Van Ness. It would take them an hour to change and rotate and balance the tires, and to do whatever else they do to justify two tires, that are marked at $45 each, ending up costing $95 each.

"Is there a good neighborhood spot for lunch?" asked Plot, and the man behind the tire counter directed him to Los Rosales, a Mexican lunch counter on the corner.

The second they walked in the door, the fabulous smell told Plot and Duck they were back in Mexico, and when the food came, they knew. Duck's tacos were very good but Plot's Enchiladas de Mole tasted like they had just flown them in from El Colonial in Puebla. Each forkful felt like mariachi music and tasted like the Virgin Mary herself had peeled the chiles.

The other thing that made Los Rosales feel so Mexico-Mexican was that seated at the table across from El Ploto y La Plota were two sailors from the Mexican Navy, in full dress uniform.

La Plota had read the previous morning about the historic Mexican sailing vessel, or 'tall ship,' that was docked in Saint Plotniko for the week. She figured these two men had to be from the 'Cuauhtemoc.'

Now, in the hinterlands of Mexico, you often see either soldiers or sailors seated in lunchrooms, usually lording their way over the local restaurant proprietor, who is forced to bring them beers and food that they will never pay for. That's just the way it is. Here in Saint Plotniko, however, these guys were eating plenty but had their money out, ready to pay.

Spanish always comes in handy. El Ploto begged their pardon and asked if they were from the sailing vessel Cuauhtemoc. They said they were. Ploto asked if they would do him the honor of allowing him to take a picture of them, posing with his wife, La Plota. Both men jumped up from their table. The Captain removed his hat and placed it, with a flourish, on La Plota's head, with a hug or two (perhaps tres, perhaps cuatro).

Then everybody got into the act. The waitresses, the owner, the cook, his wife...everybody wanted to have their picture taken.

Ploto had a nice conversation with the sailors, who were excedingly polite and spoke about how they were normally based in Acapulco, and were always hungry because they never had enough tortillas.

"Don't you have a guy who makes tortillas on the boat?" asked el Ploto.

"Si, pues en el barco no hay abundancia, como aqui. Solo nos dan tres tortillas por cada uno."

"You only get three tortillas each?" Ploto asked and the two men lowered their heads and nodded. The owner, sitting on a bar stool, couldn't believe what he had just heard, particularly because this man's large belly looked like he could eat 300 tortillas in any sitting, with half an ox as a side order.


Then the two sailors invited everyone in the place to come see their ship, which is docked at Pier 27, last night and today until 8pm.

Ploto y Plota decided this was an offer they could not refuse, especially because they could take a picture aboard this enormous historic sailing vessel, hopefully at the tiller, and send it to Captain Chuck with the message: "Thanks for the sailing lessons. We're on our way now to invade Honduras."

They picked up Silent Bill on the way and got down to the ship. But they discovered enormous lines of traffic along the Embarcadero. This was because there was a private party aboard the ship that the two sailors had neglected to mention. So Ploto, Plota y Guillermo el Sin Hablar were not allowed to board. They could only look at the ship from the dock.

It's quite a magnificent vessel, bedecked with flags from many countries to which it has sailed. No gay flag, though. At least, not anyplace visible.

All day long, el Gran Ploto was singing the line from La Bamba: "Yo no soy marinero, por ti sere, por ti sere." (I'm no sailor, but I'll be yours.)

Que dia magnifico.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bicycle Bird and Sleeping Birds

Famed children's book author Nguyen Michael Jackson Goldstein Bossanova celebrated her 40th Birthday by taking a long bike ride in Marin County. The Great Plotnik wishes her the best on her birthday and the same to each of her knees, currently still swooshing around comfortably in their sockets. Long may they swoosh.

Meanwhile, Koo and LaKoo Bird-Nik have taken up sleeping on the fence which forms the border between The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and the World Beyond (as Christopher Robin once said). Plotnik is worried about that perch, because there are at least half a dozen cats who regularly prowl the Great Agricultural Grounds, and they would consider either of these birds no more than an appetizer. And what about hawks? And bears and lions? Hah? Where is Mom, anyway?