The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

25 Plus 14 Plus Coupons

(In case you're wondering, Plotnik did not get new implants. He has his fat new cell phone in his shirt pocket. At least he thinks that's what it is.)

RESTAURANT COUPONS: Everybody always knows about these things long before Plotnik does, so you've probably already looked this offer over, but in case you haven't, TODAY ONLY go to You type in your zip code and then access many pages of restaurants in remotely your area. For us Bay Areans, we get SF, Berkeley, Redwood City, San Mateo, etc.

You'll see coupon offers -- $25 worth of food for $10, for example. But when you select a restaurant (Plot and Duck bought 10 of these), and type in the secret code HIPPO, the $10 is reduced to $2.

You print out the coupons on your home printer and, voila. Each restaurant has certain restrictions -- such as you have to buy $35 or $50 worth of food to get the $25 discount, but since that discount only cost you $2...hey!

Anyhow, Little Larry's doesn't honor the coupons yet, but Plot and Duck went there anyway with Silent B and Hardworking M last night to celebrate Plot and Duck's 25th Anniversary, and the 14 since then.

NEXT year in Jerusalem, may good fortune smile, 'cuz that's the one with the Zero on the end.

Little Larry's is the best deal in town for really fabulous French food, a la that wonderful movie you just saw that I was telling you about. Julia Child lives on at Little Larry (OK, it's real name is L'Petit Laurent). For $21, Sun-Thu., you get a 3-course dinner, each course of which is spectacular. Ducknik had lobster soup and Osso Buco, Plotnik a French salad with feta and the black cod on top of buttery stuff that had cabbage in it. Oh, man. No pictures, but then came these desserts:




Followed by espresso. Plotnik was still up at 3am, worrying about the Plotzers' collapse.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ray's Hasselback Potatoes

Has anyone ever made Hasselback Potatoes before? Plotnik never had. Wow, they're really good!

Some of you may remember that Plotnik's neighbor Ray, who lives across the street, lost his wife Pat maybe a year and a half ago. Ray has been grieving non-stop since then, and still gets up every morning and drives to the cemetery to talk with her. Ray is retired and doesn't seem to do anything for the rest of the day but walk around the neighborhood, so Plotnik goes over now and then to sit in Ray's living room in front of some silent game show on a blurry old TV, and hear Ray talk about the old people and the way it used to be, the same stories over and over again.

"Do you know how much Fred paid for his house?"

"Yes I do, Ray. You've told me before."


"Yes, and if you only had known it was for sale..."

"If I'd only have known it was for sale I'd have made an offer."

The truth is it's almost comforting to hear Ray tell those stories. There are never any surprises.

When Pat was alive, all you heard much of between them was Ray calling "Patricia, bring me this" and "Patricia, bring me that." But she probably was his only friend. She sat on the sofa across from where Plotnik sits now, under the old portrait of Ray and Pat and their four daughters. Now Ray has nobody to bring him anything.

Looking at him, you'd get a false opinion of Ray -- he looks like your typical hardheaded ex-city worker, who fought in Korea and came home with Popeye-like tattoos on both arms. He's got an enormous belly and it pokes through the buttons of his pajama top, because he's always wearing pjs in the house whenever Plotnik goes over.

But Ray has a big heart. He was a city gardener for decades and he likes to make sure John the King's roses are pruned on time and that Ducknik puts enough water on her newly-planted artemisia. He has helped Plotnik countless times with various gardening questions and is the man Plot calls to take cuttings from his daturas or transplant the cymbidia. If Plot needs a tool, Ray walks down to his garage to find it.

It turns out that Ray is not always alone when he goes to the cemetery. He has recently met another guy there, who comes every Friday to visit his deceased wife. Ray says this guy's wife has been gone eight years and that the fellow is talking about dying a lot more now.

This man apparently has a wholesale fruit busineess of some kind. So each Friday he loads his car up with produce and brings it to Ray. Ray offloads it into his trunk and when he comes home, he parks his big black Buick in his garage, opens the trunk and goes around to the neighbors and offers them fresh produce.

Well...not exactly FRESH produce, but produce, and most of it is still quite good. The Last Friday Plotnik ended up with several pounds of mushrooms, a dozen huge white onions...and a zillion potatoes.

The mushrooms just needed to be washed off well and the onions had a few bruises to be cut out but the potatoes are spotless.

"But Ray, we don't eat that many potatoes."

"Take 'em, take 'em. Otherwise I'll have to give 'em to Pete."

"So give 'em to Pete."

"No, because he'll just give 'em to M_____."

"Well, that's OK then. M_____ can use 'em, he's got all those kids."

Plot only says that to needle Ray, because he knows Ray can't stand M_____. It makes no sense, because Plot likes M____. He's a great guy, hard-working, all the things Ray ought to admire in somebody. But these two have lived in the 'hood forever and somewhere in antiquity M____ and Ray must have crossed shovels, though neither one can remember why anymore.

Ray is damned if M_____ is going to get any of those potatoes.

"No, you take 'em. I ain't givin' 'em to M_____."

"Maybe Pete will give 'em to somebody else?"

Ray smiles and stares at Plotnik like Plotnik just doesn't get it. Ray reaches into his trunk, takes the huge box of potatoes, perhaps 15 pounds or more, and puts it in Plotnik's arms.

"No," Ray says. "He won't."

Plotnik can't throw out food. It makes him crazy. So what do you do with all these potatoes?

You make Hasselback Potatoes, that's what you do. You take nine white waxy potatoes, preferably out of someone's trunk who got them at the cemetery out of someone else's trunk, both of whom are visiting their dead wives, and you put each potato onto a large metal spoon. You take a sharp knife and cut through each potato at 1/2" intervals, but you only cut down to the spoon so you don't go all the way through the potato. You end up with potato fans.

Then you take 2T olive oil and almost that much butter, put it into a roasting pan and heat the butter and oil on the stove top, in the roasting pan, until it sizzles. Then you take the potatoes and roll them around in the butter and oil, leaving them cut side up. Salt the potatoes and then place the roasting pan in a hot oven (400 degrees) for an hour or so. That's it.

They come out crispy and you can cut through each slice with your fork and it tastes like the roast potatoes your Swedish grandmother used to make, old Grandmummy Svensgaardnik.

Plot plans to take a few of the extra Hasselback Potatoes over to Ray this afternoon, but he knows Ray won't eat them. Ray's daughter says he doesn't eat much of anything anymore, so how he maintains that huge gut is hard to figure.

As for the mushrooms, Plot cut the stems off all the caps, then sauteed a pound of the caps a la Marc Bittman with white wine and garlic and plenty of time afterwards to let them sit and absorb the juices, then took the other half of the caps and all the stems and made a terrific mushroom pasta sauce using ground chipotle powder.

Poor Ray. Life is hard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Reviewers On the Loose

San Francisco Theater Blog's Award Division has been busy this week, trying to figure out how to rate its three most recently seen shows. The first one, 'Brief Encounter' at A.C.T., was easy, since it is spectacular. The second show, 'South Pacific' at the Golden Gate, was mediocre, though it was of course loved by reviewers, as Rodgers and Hammerstein almost always are.

Saturday night Plot and Duck caught the World Premiere of 'First Day of School' at S.F. Playhouse, which is hysterical. It starts out jaw-droppingly insane, then grows and grows until the author throws in a perfect new monkey wrench at the end. Plot and Duck both loved it.

After Opening Night shows at SF Playhouse, there is always a party in the lobby and the little theater next door to the main stage. Reviewers and others hang around and talk shop with each other about the shows, while waiting for the actors to come out and shmooze (acutally, the actors are almost always shy people and tend to crowd into one corner bogarting their champagne flutes and then beat a retreat backstage as soon as they feel they can).

Plot is always amazed to realize other reviewers see the same show at the same time he does and yet it's as if they were all watching from another dimension. Which they are. Everyone takes out of a play what he brings into it. The best thing to bring into a new play is nothing. But that is very hard to do.

There are two older guys who always come together, one of whom does a Broadway review column. Plot always says hi when he sees them, and this time, before 'First Day of School' started, Plot asked the two men how they had liked 'Brief Encounter' at A.C.T. last week. He was amazed to hear the one fellow say he thought it was just so-so. Why? Because the reviewer was very familiar with the original Noel Coward movie and seemed to be caught up in why this 2009 stage production lacked a certain something that the 1945 movie had had. It was a ludicrous thing to consider, but the fellow -- who seems to be a really nice guy -- couldn't help himself. He had brought the movie to the play with him.

During 'First Day of School' Plot sat in back of a big time reviewer. The man didn't laugh all night, though his little blank writing pad was probably spattered with Plotnik's out-of-control belly laugh saliva raining down from above. Which show were the two reviewers watching?

(Plotnik does not like being rained on from above. Cf. the last ballgame at BrainDead Stadium. Saliva, or beer, no good.)

'South Pacific' is another example of alternate universes. Why bother having horse races, if you just award the favorite horse the prize before the race starts and then ignore the obvious result at the finish line? Anybody who loved this current production has to have brought the old production into the show with them.

Of course, Plotnik did the same thing with Spamalot, that he was determined to love because he loves Monty Python. The show was very funny but maybe it was not as good as Plotnik said it was?

*$&%^)X! reviewers. Don't listen to a word they say. But do go see "First Day of School" if you want to see lots of funny stuff about sex that will make you writhe in your seat and possibly produce moisture. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of "First Day of School" here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Native American Summer

It's really hot again today, here in Native American Summer.

The Saint Plotniko Large-but-not-too-large-so-as-to-suggest-that-very-large-people-are-bad-or-anything Giants baseball team will take on the Chicago young-four-footed-animal-but-not-too-young-so-as-not-to-sound ageist-or-anything Cubs this afternoon, with not as much significance to the pennant race as there might have been.

Current First Place teams in the Amerikan League are the New York Certainly-not-to-denigrate-our-friends-from-the-Southern-States-or-anything Yankees, the Detroit Of-course-we-aren't-talking-about-the-endangered-ones-like-the-ones-they've-hunted-to-near-extinction-in-India-or-anything Tigers, and the California Our-good-atheist-friends-do-not-have-to-feel-the-least-bit-excluded-or-anything Angels.

The Wild Card team will probably be the Boston Hey-if-you-want-to-go-barefoot-it-is-perfectly-fine-with-everyone-in-this-organization Red Sox.

In the National League it looks like the Plotzers, Phoolies, Kurds and Jockeys, but the Atlanta Change-Our-Name?-Surely-You-Jest-Tomahawk Chop-Chief Nockahomas aren't out of it yet. Plot's rooting for 'em, just for old time's sake.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

See The Man Smile

It's Plot and Duck's Anniversary today, but when Plot opened his eyes this morning what was on his mind was: "Hot dog! Basketball at Lick!"

It's true -- today was the reassembly of the Old Guys at James Lick Middle School, the b-ball game that Plot played in each week from the week he and Duck moved into Snowy Valley in 1993, until a few years ago when the game disbanded. Last Tuesday, when Plot rode the p-cycle down to Dr. Flossem's office, he stopped to see Laban out in front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and Laban said: "PLOTNIK! We're playing again! This Saturday at Lick!"

Sure enough, Plottie got down to Lick this morning by 8am and the cars were already lined up on the sidewalk, just like in the old days.

Sherlock was there.

Orlando was there.

So was Laban's cousin Max.

So were Rico, Ira and Bobby.

Skip brought his beautiful daughter. Ira's daughter came too. These kids were barely more than toddlers the last time Plotnik had seen them.

As far as the quality of the ball went, this game is a notch or two better than Plotnik's Sunday game, and a million times more fun. There were more trash talk and jokes tossed around in the first five minutes on Saturday than in three months of Sunday's game. It's not that the Sunday guys are bad guys, 'cuz they're not, it's just that Plot doesn't know them. He knows these guys and really likes them, and always has.

Like Chaiuka.

And Little Ron.

Also: they're a LOT bigger. Plot got tossed around like a ping pong ball out there and will be slinging the Advil all day, but he more than held his own. When he got open he got passed to. When he did something right somebody said "Way to go." When he screwed up, somebody said "Don't worry about it."

They say they're going to try to do this once a month -- Plotnik sure hopes so. It's good to play and it's even better to see the guys. Playing with his old buddies on Saturday makes Plot realize he needs a new Sunday game, but at his age it's not easy to break into a new game and have them take you seriously. It's not as if Plotnik can rise over the rim and say "I told you so."

When Plot told Maurice and Cadillac it was his anniversary and he hadn't remembered to say Happy Anniversary to Ducknik before he tore out of the house to get down to the court, Maurice shook his head.

"Uh, uh, uh. Better head for the jewelry store."

Cadillac said:

"And throw in three dozen donuts. For me."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Location, Location, Location and an Analogy Gone Mad

This gal is huge. She hangs on her web that she's stretched between the tomato plants and the house, and gathers in fly after stupid fly. The wind blows through that same opening and she and her web just rock gently back and forth like she's put a quarter in the barcalounger.

Location, location location...did everybody read this morning about the cache of 7th Century Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ornaments that an unemployed guy found in Britain, using a metal detector in a farmer's field, after searching randomly, and never finding anything, for 18 years? He'd never tried this particular field before, though, and now by British law he is entitled to half its value, certainly into the millions and on up. They are probably selling metal detectors like flies this morning.

The flies feast on the bird droppings on the deck railing. The spider pretends not to be watching. Then the fly jumps up and...oops.

The seventh century guy who buried that treasure probably got it in the first place by mugging some village parson during one of the endless wars they were having back then. He buried it in the ground, thinking he'd come back for it when the war was over.

But mugging is hard work and life expectancies were short. Maybe he jumped up and headed over to the nearest tavern...oops. He kind of never came back for his booty.

1700 years later some bozo with a metal detector -- the spider, see the logic here? -- gets rich and England gets to restore a treasure from its past.

One of these days Plotnik will get sick of the web and brush it down. That's the Battle of Britain. Then the spider will just methodically build it up again. That's Spitfires and D-Day. Then come bigger and badder spiders.

Sometimes it's us. Mel Brooks said it best: "It's good to be da spider."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Plotzers Almost Clinch One Thing or the Other

Stiletto City braces for a playoff shot with either the Phoolies or the Kurds, but it doesn't mean anything to this beautiful horse with his ears matching his rider's arms. The Great PD snapped this one with his I-Phone, of course.

Plot and Duck have new qwerty cell phones but they'll never blow for the monthly internet charge to really use their new phones to their full extent. Plot always lags years behind the newest wave -- do we really need to listen to music while we walk? Is it imperative that we surf the internet from the bus? Does entertainment have to trump observation, reflection, interaction?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wash This Show Right Out of Your Hair

Bali Hai - My special island
Bali Hai - Really slow
Bali Hai - Glad I didn't pay for it
Bali Hai - Holy Cow

OK, slow doesn't rhyme with cow. Last night Plot and Duck, armed with terrific expectation, went to the opening of the road company version of 'South Pacific,' that had a very successful remounting last year on Broadway. Plot texted JJ-aka-PP before the show and she texted back that it was one her favorite shows too. Plot has always been in awe of Richard Rodgers' gift with melody, so he brought the five stars along with him and stuck them in his pocket with his bag of Famous Amos cookies. He was sure he'd eat all the cookies and distribute five stars like pixie dust.

The only remaining question is: if he took a child's chemistry set and threw it into the Pacific Ocean, could there possibly be fewer sparks generated than in this production?

The songs, for the most part, still stand up, kind of, but with the exception of "This Nearly Was Mine," "Happy Talk" and "You've Got to be Carefully Taught" in Act Two, Plot found himself wondering if Richard Rodgers was going to rise out of the audience and smite the director with a rotten coconut?

And that romance you see above -- the buff hero with what appears to be a ten year old Tonkinese girl? Ah, sweet love? Brrrrrr.

Opening Night is never a good time to have an off night, but maybe it was just that.

The sad part is there is a live orchestra! Plot's favorite! A live orchestra, with no synthesizers, gives a four star show a shot at a five star rating! Sigh.

You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of "South Pacific" here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There's Something About Belly

Plot and Duck just got new cell phones, with QWERTY keyboards that make texting a lot faster, and internet access that they'll never use. But it's the camera app that has made phones so extraordinarily useful. The Great PD and The Great FiveHead just seem to come up with one prize after another, and the next thing Plottie knows it has been emailed into his Inbox.

This one is Mummy P. with her astral twin Adelaide, both of whom share the same birthday, August 4, only one was born 95 years before the other one.

Think about this -- when Mummy P. was born, someone the same age holding her then would have been born when two of the first three presidents of the USA were still alive.

It was probably Ben-Z who snapped this one when the family was together in Providence earlier in the year.

Speaking of whom, Plotnik owes Ben-Z an overdue thank you note, so this blog posting Terminates Now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hanging Out in the BDWZ

The Great PD and The Stupendous Brooklyn Belly paused as they got to the Jet Blue loading gate in Burbank and waved as Plotnik took their picture. Then Plot and Ducknik walked to their gate to await their Southwest flight back to the Bay Area.

It was all good, these three days at the old homestead. Mummy P. was so happy to see PD and Belly that she forgot about her aches and pains and jumped on in to the circus atmosphere, especially yesterday when Belly’s friend Hana and her parents came over to Mummy P.’s, as well as The Great NickNik and JadeNik, with their new little baby Adelaide, and PD’s old friend Eric, who also happens to be Isabella’s favorite person in the world.

The usual – Mummy P. fretted in advance that there was too much food (but every morsel disappeared), and the volume levels, with two almost-three year olds tearing through each room at high speed, and playing the piano with all twenty fingers at once, were a bit disconcerting for her, but she is nothing if not game. She enjoyed having lots of people fawning over her, while devouring her brisket sandwiches, and Plot felt very proud to have his mom laughing and joking with all the kids, just like in the old days.

Later in the afternoon, after taking a nice rest in the sunshine, when all the others had gone home and the house had been tidied up, and the salad servers had finally been found (Belly had been using them to “make eggs” under her bed), Plot, Duck, PD and Belly drove down Mulholland Drive to Runyan Canyon for a walk to the overlook.

Since Plot had been to Runyan last, it has become Stiletto City’s BDWZ –Buff Dog Walk Zone. The scene is open to actors and supporting actors and stunt men and animal trainers, with shirts removed or open to the waist, and a minimum of five out of the possible six-pack abs, as long as each man is walking a strange-breed dog.

Women are part of it too – but they don’t seem to be exposing anything, except the occasional medically enhanced cleavage. Their doggies are also froo and froo.

Mischief loved Runyan Canyon, but now would probably be carded at the door and turned away at the invisible velvet rope. And anyway, the poor pup would no longer be able to walk down and back up like he used to love to do.

If you’re a poodle, there are three of you who look exactly the same. If you’re a mastiff your owner is a Jayne-Mansfield look-alike with pink pedal pushers. If you’re simply a German shepherd or a lab, you’ve been trained to jump up on the overlook bench and bark three times on command.

Maybe you’re a horse trainer with a prancing palomino – then, you’re down at the overlook with a camera crew, photographing a beautiful woman with her beautiful husband and beautiful children, riding on the horse or standing barefoot on its back.

The sun goes down and no one really notices – it doesn’t get any darker for awhile and everyone is busy watching the horses or the dogs or the cleavages or the open shirts.

Or maybe you’re interlopers – like Brooklyn Belly and her grandPapa, whose Manny Ramirez t-shirt has no buttons to be opened so his impressive chest may only be imagined by those curious enough to wonder.

And maybe, as the sun drops below the mountains out towards the Pacific Ocean, you are a Moroccan crescent moon appearing between the palm trees.

Everything is reality-enhanced in Stiletto City, but not those trees and not that moon.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Best Way To Watch The Game

First, Manny Ramirez dropped a fly ball and the BrainDeads scored an unearned run and Plotnik turned off the TV in the top of the First.

Then, Plotnik and Ducknik and Mummy P. went to see "Julie and Julia" at the Impossible to Find Movie Complex in Hell-Bank. Plot has lost all his Mall Chops. It took so long to find the theater, hidden among the parking garages and pseudo-Mediterranean restaurants that by the time they got into the movie they'd missed the first -- oh, maybe the first five minutes.

That was it for the bad part. Plotnik LOVES THIS MOVIE! Oh, man. He has no idea where the reviewers' heads have been -- they all love Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, and don't like the other people. Plot thinks they're crazy. The entire cast is wonderful and the story is terrific. If you like food, love stories and chocolate-y things with almonds around the side, don't think twice -- go see Julie and Julia.

When he got home he discovered the Plotzers had scored 12 runs and beat the BrainDeads 12-1 and he didn't even have to fret about it. Way to go, Plottie!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Stiletto Connection

It's hot down here and the portions at El Caserio have not gotten any smaller. This place has turned into Plotnik's favorite Stiletto City restaurant, at least his favorite that he went to last night.

The Great PD and The Great Brooklyn BellyBone are in town for two short days, as are Plot and Duck. Everyone has come to see Grandma, and while we're at it, we're not missing any meals.

This carne apanada, the breaded steak the size of Bellflower, was devoured by Mummy Plotnik, with help from everyone else. The problem was the other plates -- Plotnik's lomo saltado (strips of sirloin, tomatoes, onions and french fries SMOTHERED with gravy) and Duck and PD's Coas Finas (pork loin and bananas and corn cakes and potato pancakes).

When Plot is in Stiletto City with PD and family, he remembers how much fun it is down here.

But when they're not here, he spends most of his time disliking the place intensely, unless BZ is here, in which case he has a ball.

Then, when he and Ducknik travel to Brooklyn he remembers how much fun it is back East. When he and Duck used to visit BZWZ in Manhattan, they had a fantastic time there too, but now they never bother with Manhattan, 'cuz who needs Manhattan when you've got Brooklyn? Unless BZ comes back to Manhattan, then man! What a town!

So: do we see the connection here?

Friday, September 18, 2009

How Nice is That?

Leaving on a jet plane. Oops, not a good thing to quote John Denver, though that is Plotnik's favorite John Denver song. And more accurately, it's leaving on foot to walk to the train to get on the bus to get to the airport.

Meanwhile, BrainDeads play three in Stiletto City with the Plotzers and Plotnik will be in the environs, thinking about it, but probably staying away from potential tough times.

Mummy P. is said to have a brisket in the freezer waiting for us. How nice is that?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'Brief Encounter' is Spectacular!

Well, what can we say? The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik have seen several spectacular shows at A.C.T. (as well as not just a few flatulent dogs), but Plotnik cannot remember anything as good as "Brief Encounter." You've only got one month to see this show -- please do it. Spend as top dollar as you can afford and get great seats. The cast is in and out of the front of the audience, especially on the right side, so close-in and low makes it that much better. You can read Plotnik's enthusiastic review of "Brief Encounter" here, and Hanky Girl and Mush will need approximately one and a half hankies.

A.C.T. is our only theater that can put on performances like these. To be sure, there is the "Best of Broadway" series where you get to see road performances of top Broadway hits, but as good as those generally are they are never as innovative as A.C.T., and you never quite forget that merchandising and franchising is their purpose. You may love the shows -- Jersey Boys is the fabulous example -- but you may also ho and hum.

As far as Saint Plotniko theater companies go, A.C.T.'s budget and reputation allow their staging and sets to be far more elaborate and adventurous than at other companies -- not that this always means the best theater. SF Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, the Aurora, The Marsh and others consistently do fabulous shows, and let's not forget that A.C.T. occasionally tosses out great looking bombs, and when we say bombs, we mean craters, holes in the ground spewing effluvia. Does anyone remember Ann Rice's 'Lestat?' Oi, mama. How do you ask for your money back when you've been given free tickets?

But when A.C.T. does it right it is uplifting on every level. Acting, staging, direction, mixed media, story, music, costumes. Plotnik knows he is not supposed to rave like this. He takes it back. He must be mistaken. It must have been the music. It must have been the mistletoe. He will wake up tomorrow, but right now he is going to lean back in his chair.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I No Oondertunding Oo

Plotnik is trying to put together a photo album for his Mom, from the pictures taken at her birthday party. But Kodak Gallery has become an absolute joke. It used to be easy to use, now it's in a Beta Program for new software and Plotnik is on the Help Line for the second time. "Hello, welcome to Kodak Gallery! Your call is important to us, so we'll continue to play this insipid new age jazz until your soul flows freely from your nose."

Plot and Duck are heading to Stiletto City for a short weekend and Plot had hoped to have the book done. Does anyone know of another company who can upload photos and produce custom photo albums? Snapfish does not seem to do it. Walgreen's doesn't.

"Hello! Welcome to Kodak Gallery! Your call is VERY important to us. Please continue to hold while we torment you with not only the same song but the same passage from the same song. Occasionally we will break onto the line with someone who learned his English in a madrassa in a small village under a mountain."

"Hello! This is Kodak Gallery! We are experiencing longer than usual wait times. If you think we're kidding, just hold on."

"Hello! This is Kodak Gallery! If you wish faster service, please hack off your finger with an ax. All calls are answered first from states who voted red and then from Guam. If we have no calls from Guam we wait for calls from Guam."

(sound of crackling wires)

"Hi. Tanks fo weeting. My name she, uh, Ed. Yah, Ed. How koon ee hold-ping oo? I sorry I no oondertunding oo. I sorry. I steel no oondertunding oo. Harro? Harro?

(More crackling wires. Soft jazz returns.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weddings are Better

What do you all think? Should holidays be like Greek weddings or Irish wakes? Plotnik guesses the answer is: is someone getting married, or did someone die? Weddings are better.

Just asking. Maybe it's because he lives so far away from the rest of his family. Maybe it's because he got reminded this week that Christmas is only four months away and he has to go to the dentist next week.

Dr. Flossem is waiting with his medieval Weapons of Plotnik Destruction.

Plotnik, with his shiny plaque-less teeth, would like to see Easter Island. There is a Christmas Island too, in the South Pacific. There is also a Hanukkah Island, in a mall in Tarzana. You think Plotnik is kidding.

Easter Island is famous for huge stone monoliths. They all have, shall we say, a family resemblance. Who wouldn't want to travel 10 hours to Santiago de Chile and then six more hours across the ocean to get to an island where the only thing to see is stone monoliths that all look the same?

But look at the picture again. Look at the guy two from the end. At the ballgame the other night Plotnik forgot to take off his cap during the National Anthem. Luckily, Blogmaid reminded him.

There is symbolism here. An island where there is nowhere to go and nothing to do but stand around and talk to statues who all look more or less the same except that one forgot to take off his hat. There isn't much to say. This is the "Irish Wake" analogy.

A thousand years later they're still standing there.

But perhaps in the next second the people rush up with their musical instruments and prepare a delicious luau of smoked fish and roast pig and they exchange homemade gifts and dance The Chicken Wing and smooch under the stars. This would be the "Greek Wedding."

Weddings are bretter. But that guy with the cap is still mystifying.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Remember Tap Dancing?

The Great BZWZ turns 26 today. She says it sounds like a lot to her. Plotnik and Ducknik tell her she "will always be our baby." It has the same amount of resonance as when Mummy P. says the same thing to Plotnik. It's wonderful to hear, but doesn't solve the immediate problem.

Everyone's in a hurry to get to be 16, but after that you can drive. Once you're driving, you have to pay for gas. This is the way it works.

The thing is, nobody wants to be heading into the home stretch rounding the clubhouse turn. You want a longer race, or, better yet, a rematch.

BZ, on the other hand, is ONLY 26! She's barely out of the starting gate.

At 26 Plotnik was married, childless, living in The Big Shmapple, writing songs and playing in clubs with his band. Who knew what would happen? Who expected The Great PunkyDunky and The Great BeezieWeezie? Who thought about moving back to Shmalifornia?

Nobody! That's who! Enjoy every second BZ, you've got kajillions of 'em, and you're going to use up a bunch in Linear Algebra and Micro-Something-Chemistry. What ever happened to Tap Dancing? Remember Tap Dancing?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hello to Gaudi, then Howdy to Manny

How nice to see your new book in the book store, eh? Sister Nguyen Michael Jackson Goldberg Slash Maria de la Cruz, known to her friends as Slash, but currently using her pen name of Rachel Rodriguez, had her Book Release party yesterday at Books, Inc. for her new children's book "Building on Nature." It's perhaps a sign of the times that Slash's last Book Release party, for "Through Georgia's Eyes," was held in the exact same spot, except that bookstore, known as "A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books," went out of business and was taken over by this bookstore.

Her new book is a children's illustrated work about the architecture of Barcelona's Antoni Gaudi. As in the the last book, illustrator Julie Paschkis is brilliant.

Rachel's niece Sofia was there. Good thing they don't look alike or anything, right?

Sofia and the other kids participated in the hands-on reading of the book. It was a lot of fun. There was cake. There were several TIAPOSIANS present to cheer on their sister and Tiapos Emerita -- Large Pants came, and Blonde Bombshell and Mississippi Motorhead too.

And it's a very beautiful book, in some ways more accessible than "Through Georgia's Eyes," because Gaudi's buildings are easier to imagine than Georgia O'Keefe's paintings -- at least through Plotnik's Eyes.

Then last night it was on to BrainDead Stadium to see the Plotzers take on the BrainDeads. Plotnik isn't much of a local fan but he has to say there's no more beautiful place to see a ball game.

See that line of police cars? They were ready for the yahoos in back of Plotnik and his four friends. There were at least 20 of them, all Plotzer fans, all drunk out of their minds and soon spilling beer and swearing and jeering at the BrainDeads -- and ready to fight. Blogmaid figured it was a good time to vacate the seats, so we did.

When we told the usher what had happened, he put us in GREAT seats -- maybe the best seats in the whole ball park, which happens to be a handicapped row just to one side of home plate. He also scanned our original tickets and dispatched stadium cops to the old seats to hopefully throw those idiots into those cop cars.

NotThat Lucas and The Great Mushnik wore their BrainDead gear, to no avail last night, and Blogmaid and her husband Bill managed to stay merry until they found themselves in an enormous line after the game to pick up their car. In a city that prides itself on efficiency, how about one parking valet for at least 300 people waiting for cars? Plotnik is afraid to call to find out how long it took them to get home. But Blogmaid is still smiling here.