The Great Plotnik

Monday, November 30, 2009

Isabella and Thanksgiving in Brooklyn

In Isabella's heart beats the disco pulse of a Laker fan, but currently she is rooting for the Knicks, as this photo, taken at the Knicks' thumping by the Orlando Magic, attests.

A few days earlier, Belly hosted her boy friend Kian and some adults they both know to her house for Thanksgiving. Here she is saying: "I'm so delighted you could come to my home, Kian. Of course we are pleased that your parents were able to attend as well."

It's nice that all the rooms at the Plotnik East Apartment Estates are large enough to host a good-sized party. Kian's dad John took this picture as well as the previous one. Going around the table we can see The Greats PD, Chris (Large), DC Niecie, FiveHead, Mo-Nee, BZWZ and Kian's mom Lizzz.

Here's what the turducken looked like before it was cooked. Inside that turkey is a duck, a chicken, cornbread stuffing, crayfish, shrimp and oysters. We kid you not. Another turkey is staring at it.

Don't have an after-cooked photo, but early reports indicate the turkey and the chicken tasted pretty much the same while the duck was outstanding. The Great Plotnik wants to know exactly which pieces of this aviary overload were tasted by the Great FiveHead, once a vegetarian, now into birds. Lots of birds.

They had collard greens.

They had apple pie.

They apparently also had pecan pie with home-made bourbon ice cream (!)(!) but the photo was truncated. Yow!

Plotnik has taken the liberty of enlarging one of the plates of food at the Plotnik East Thanksgiving. He has to give it extra points for beauty, color contrasts and deliciousness.

But for sheer gluttony, can it compare to Plotnik's own perfectly balanced (by weight) plate? You've got to admit, that turkey leg is a beautiful touch.

Also, only the SoCal Thanksgiving got one of these:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The First Course was Lox and Bagels and the Rest was Memories

Old? You want to feel old? The amazing part about yesterday's 60th Anniversary Party for Mummy Plotnik's first cousin Bernie, who you see here dancing with his bride Miriam, isn't that Bernie and Miriam have been married 60 years, but that The Great Plotnik knew Bernie's father better than he knows Bernie.

Plotnik played for hundreds of parties like these, back when live musicians had yet to be replaced by d.j.s, and he always preferred working parties over attending them -- but that's because he didn't get a chance to dance with his mom.

Plottie and his brother Shmeckl got to make a big deal over Mummy P., out in public where she likes it, and that was well worth the drive to the country club at the end of the world.

Officially, nobody makes a big deal out of Mummy P. being able to not only fend for herself at her age but to keep a great sense of humor about it. She scoffed when it was announced that it was not only Bernie's Anniversary but his 85th birthday. "Phehhh," she said. "He's a big baby."

But between you and me, she's astonishing. Nobody knows how long she can keep this up, but Plot hopes he's got some of those genes. She wasn't well all the time Plot and Duck were down for Thanksgiving, but she made the most of her good time. She's a model to try and emulate, except for the part about the heat in her house, ai yai yai.

Plot remembers his Great-Uncle Jack -- Bernie's father -- very well. He was grouchy, in love with himself, considered himself the finest and sexiest man alive, and always showed up late to every family party. His wife, Aunt Seidel, was maybe 4 foot 6. She was the first older person Plotnik ever outgrew, and he did that when he was eight.

All these old country Russians and Rumanians grew up in one world and prospered and died in another. What Plotnik missed -- consciously -- yesterday, was the smell of cigars. And pipes. After dinner everyone would take out a smoke and cigars -- cheap White Owls like Grandpa Ben smoked and long Cubans like Uncle Jack always ceremoniously lit up -- dominated.

And the old women aren't as fat as they used to be -- there was no one at the party who could hug you and at the same time smother you into unconsciousness between their voluminous folds.

Grandmummy P. always wore a dress that crinkled. It sounded like there was tinfoil under there, but it would have had to have been a lot of tinfoil.

Grandpa Ben wore light colored boxy-cut suits with a handkerchief in the breast pocket. In his pants pocket was a dollar bill and sooner or later that dollar bill would get transfered to The Still Minor Plotnikito.

Grandmummy P.'s hair was -- well, you can't really describe the color. Think of a Vermont October, when all the trees are losing their leaves and now those leaves are lying on the ground decomposing, and they've been there awhile and their colors have kind of run together. Now add blue, not sky blue or sea blue but that strange blueing unknown to anybody but those hairdressers on Fairfax Avenue.

Grandpa Ben had no hair.

He smelled like cigars and shoeshine.

Plot is missing them all this morning.

Friday, November 27, 2009

This Year's Shirt is the One with All the Hawaiian Islands

Thanksgiving in South Plotnikland was a merry affair, with more food than ever and lots of laughter. It is next to impossible to load photos from Mummy P.'s ancient Crabapple 1-A computer, so only a few can go up today. This photo is to remind Plotnik next year of which carving shirt he wore in 2009.

Shmeckl Plotnik was awarded the Most Carbohydrates on One Plate Ribbon for all the potatoes, rolls and cornbread. It was an impressive feat, but then again, it's his house.

A new custom was begun in 2009. The oldest person in attendance gets to give a t-shirt to the youngest. Mummy P. handed the t-shirt to Lyla Rose.

More to come, plus photos from Brooklyn, but y'all'll have to wait. Did you notice 'y'all'll?'

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Dangerous Highway Story

The Great Plotnik had no business being on the road yesterday in Stiletto City, when every person in town had left early to go nowhere.

The highways were backed up like reverse Miralax. And not just the freeways, but the secondary roads like Shmentura Boulevard and tertiary roads like Shmaurel Canyon and fourthrary roads like Dona YoMama. The National Bird was flying from every window. On this day before the celebration of national unity and Pilgrim pride, in Stiletto City people behind the wheel were pissed off and proud of it.

Plot took Mummy P. to the library to pick up three books on tape that Ducknik had previously reserved for her. On the way home it was determined that a lunch stop should be made at Nebraska Taco, one of the worst Mexican chains on Earth. Their tacos taste like Mexican food tastes in Nebraska or maybe Istanbul. It is, however, a place Mummy P. likes.

The restaurant is part of a larger mall, and in back is a huge block-wide parking lot. However, two ends of the lot are reserved for valet parking. This leaves only the middle third to be shared by at least fifteen shops.

So, of course, there were no places to park, even in the Handicapped Parking Area where three places had been taken up by two carelessly parked cars (and one of these was suspicious: how many Ferraris do you see with a Handicap Placard on the rear view mirror?).

"Try over there," said Mummy P., so Plot tried over there, which inadvertently took him through one of the valet areas. The attendant, who was sitting in his car, looked up and waved his arms. Plot figured he'd just drive through and exit on the other side. No luck. The exit had been blocked by an illegaly parked pickup truck. So Plot had to turn around.

But as he did so, the parking attendant sped towards Plotnik in his car (he could have walked the twenty or thirty feet, but no, he drove). arms waving wildly, screaming something inaudible. He then stopped his car directly in front of Plottie so he could not move.

The attendant opened his car door, at which point a woman tried driving into the same area from the other end. The attendant saw her, looked at Plotnik, looked at the woman, looked back at Plotnik, left his car blocking Plot's exit and slowly walked over to yell at the other woman. Much hand waving ensued down by the woman's car.

The normally serene and scholarly Plotnik was floored by the man's rudeness. "Mom, would you mind if I honk the horn," he finally said and Mummy P. said "I can't believe you waited this long."

So Plot sat on the horn until the battery was just about dead and the horn down to a weak whimper. (Plot didn't know horns do that.)

The attendant finally walked back to his car, glared at Plotnik, removed a few red traffic cones and backed his car into a space. Plot could have just driven by. Instead, he rolled down his window, stopped and said: "You know that this is your last day working here, right? That was the rudest thing I've ever seen anybody do in a parking lot. I'll be on the phone with your boss as soon as I return to my fancy office. Why, you..."

Plot was enjoying dishing up this aromatic ladle of bull-loney, AS IF he were actually going to call Mr. Parking Associates of America. But he stopped enjoying it when the attendant, who turned out, on closer inspection, to be considerably older than Plotnik, and wearing a frayed cap that looked like it came from an ancient offshoot of the Austro-Hungarian Army, said, in a very recently arrived Eastern European accent: "Sir, I am so sorry, my boss, he say, I must not allow, you see, dis woman, she want in, and I cannot, not know what to do, oh, please, sir, I sorry..."

What ruins a nice dish of self righteous indignation faster than a few spoonsful of hearfelt contrition?

So Plotnik drove out of the parking lot, but now Mummy P. was hungry, and she gets, ah, a little off-kilter when she hasn't eaten right on time, and they hadn't been able to park in order to get her her Omaha Boiled Taco.

They grabbed a burger. Now fast forward a few hours. Mummy P. is taking a nap. Ducknik is doing some mending. Plot says: "I've got a document to edit. I'll head down to the internet cafe." He has forgotten that traffic is so bad you can't piss down Shmaurel Canyon without hitting three Lexuses and the bodies of two run-over bald eagles.

The road is stoped. No one is moving. After getting nowhere for ten minutes or so, Plot gives up, does a U-Turn and heads back to Mummy P.'s on a side street, at which point a guy with a bluetooth headset on his ear flies out of a parking place without looking. Plot sees him at the very last second, desperately turns his wheel hard left, accelerates across the street and screeches to a halt, somehow not smashing into the car parked on the other side of the street. He waits for the sound of ripping fenders and burst radiators -- but there is none.

Plot spins around in his seat and the guy who pulled out without looking GIVES PLOTNIK THE FINGER. He waves his arms as if this were Plotnik's fault, and then raises THE NATIONAL BIRD!

Ooooooooooooooh, you shouldn't na done dat, Pilgrim.

Mummy P.'s car is 90 degrees to the road, blocking both sides of traffic, but Plot has had it. He is no longer the exalted, contemplative, problem-solving leader of a minor Western Religion. He is Michael Douglas in that movie with the baseball bat and the Korean convenience store owner. He throws open his car door and stomps over to the other driver, who is still quivering behind his steering wheel (Plot notices with satisfaction that the other driver appears to be smaller than he is -- he is probably the assistant accountant for a bankrupt headstart group. He has also furtively whipped off his bluetooth headset.)

Behind Plotnik is a full head of scalding steam. "WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?" Plotnik demands, referring not to the traffic faux pas but THE FINGER, as well as the entire motion of indignation from this dingbat that accompanied it.

"...but I didn't even hit you," the guy says.


The guy isn't feeling very good right now. "...i wasn'ttalkingonmycellphone," he says, but he doesn't mean it very much.

Plotnik has suddenly lapsed into the vernacular. Why? It is probably a bit more foreful.


A baleful apologetic nod.


"...I guess I should have looked," the guy says, lips pursed.

"Well, OK," Plotnik says, himself again, satisfaction achieved. "That's all I wanted to hear."

The guy sighs, shakes his little combover head.

"Shit happens," he says.

"Shit happens," Plotnik smiles. The other guy shrugs his shoulders.

Plotnik climbs back into his car and decides he has to go home now because if he drives anywhere else more bad things will happen. So that's what he does.

Another fast forward. Last night Plot, Duck and Mummy P. go out to dinner. Plotnik has downloaded a coupon for a restaurant close to her house. But when they all walk in, the place smells so bad they all walk out.

"Now what?" Ducknik says.

"We could go to Nebraska Taco," says Mummy P.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

His Inner Chi

Plotnik is hungry. But he is protecting his inner chi, which is to say his t-u-r-k, for tomorrow's feast. Here at Mummy P.'s house this can be a difficult assignment -- cookies, nuts, candy, and not a lot to do so filling up the mouth is a constant preoccupation.

But Plotnik has stayed the course, so far. DAMN a burrito sounds good, though.

This morning Plot and Duck have accomplished a lot -- took care of Mummy P's cell phone problem (she never listens to her cell phone messages, so her mailbox fills up. When she calls people on her cell they phone her right back but she doesn't listen to the messages so she thinks they don't care enough to return her call. Then her box fills up and no one can leave a message anyway. Fixed it.)

Took care of scoping out the fix for the front door.

Took care of the various accounting assignments that pile up between visits.

Changed the fluorescent light bulb in the kitchen and the other bulbs that burn out and remain unchanged.

Spoke to the woman at Continental Assurance Company about a tiny life insurance policy that Mummy P. took out in 1949 and has been paying for ever since. She figured by now she could stop paying the annual premium, but it turns out she is on the hook until she is 100: when she hits 100, they'll send her a check. The nice part was Mummy P. got on the phone and told the insurance company woman exactly what she thought of her. When she handed the phone back to Plotnik the woman said: "Sounds like your Mom's gonna make it to 100 for sure."

Three pie crust are in the oven.

And it's only noon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rant: A Victory Over Domestic Terrorism

When The Great Plotnik put on his last pair of cranky pants he was discussing the merits of the miracle drug Stupidium. After that posting, his daughter queried whether or not Plotnik was a bit cranky because he happened to be getting on an airplane the next day?

NON-FREAKING-SENSE! The days of Plotnik worrying about airplane travel are over. O-V-U-H. The terrorists have won. Plotnik is heading for the airport later on today, barefoot and in pajamas. Anything they need to inspect they can get to easily with a simple pull of the drawstring.

Sure, Plotnik was a bit freaked to fly right after 9-1-1, but he and Duck flew to NYC on 10-1-1. Looking back, Plotnik is sorry all those air marshals made such a big deal out of his honest request to strip search the kid with the backback and the scruffy beard a dozen or so people in front of Plot and Duck in the security line, but at the time it seemed worrisome.

In those days you heard an announcement every ten minutes in the airport: "Attention all passengers! The Security Level is Bright Red! Like a pimple! It could burst at any moment! Please report any suspicious activity to uniformed airport personnel!"

That airline worker MIGHT EASILY have been planting something insidious in the airplane on which Plot and Duck were about to travel home. He looked suspicious, down there on the tarmac, viewed from the passenger loading area, driving that little four wheel cart with ONE BAG on it, and PUTTING IT ONTO THE BAGGAGE CONVEYOR from which it zipped right up onto the plane. So they removed a little baggage. So there was a small delay of the flight. Better safe than sorry.

Bear in mind that Plotnik is no Achmed-Come-Lately. He has been vigilantly defending America's Right to Safe Travel for many years. And he is not cranky. But he IS thinking he might take it up a notch.

What really bothers him at airports these days is not terrorists, because they're getting harder and harder to find, but people doing business on cell phones. Who gives some shloomp salesman or saleswoman the right to sit in the seat next to you and make cold calls?

This isn't your office, right? It's an airport, a public place. Why should I have to listen to your pathetic blather? "Ned, this is Ed, It's 4, I'm in Burbank at the airport I'm heading to Kansas City be in at 6 perhaps we can get together at Hooters for shooters tell Lloyd to notify Floyd that Will thinks Ward may not be on board we'll have to sweeten call Keaton tell Karen to warn Darren and Sharon bye."

OK, this next part didn't happen at an airport, but when Plot and Duck were in Providence last week they were sitting in comfy Blue State Coffee inside the bookstore at Brown University. Plot was trying to concentrate on a document he was editing, but behind him was a young woman with a headphone in her ear and her laptop open with a list on its screen. He knows what was on her screen because he kept turning around to see why this woman kept saying: "Hello! I'm Nicole from We Pester the World! (Plotnik may have changed the name of Nicole's Company.) We were wondering if we may count on you to come to this afternoon's get together of the Christian Mission Decision at 1:30? How did we get your name? Why, you signed your name at a meeting and I am just following up...hello?"

Nicole would then make a mark on her computer screen and the computer would dial her next call and she would again say "Hello! I'm Nicole from We Pester the World!"

This was repeated many times with barely a pause between calls. It was the phrase 'Christian Mission Decision' that caught Plotnik's ear in the first place. After he heard it a few times he began to wonder if Nicole could repeat 'Christian Mission Decision' three times in a row without screwing up? How about five times?

He found himself practicing it. He got up to eight times without saying Chrisshun or Mishtshun, before he realized he was no longer paying any attention to his document.

So he leaned over to another girl who was also working on a document at the table next to Plot and Duck, and he asked her: "Excuse me, miss, I'm sorry to bother you, but I am perhaps a little unfamiliar with proper courtesies at Blue State Coffee. Does it bother you at all that the woman behind us is making business calls, and not all that softly either, on her cell phone non stop? Or is this perfectly acceptable? I don't want to say anything to her if I am misunderstanding."

The other woman said: "Well, to tell you the truth, it's bothering me a little too."

Plot then leaned across the table and asked Ducknik the same question, and Ducknik said: "I can't hear her over here, Honey. I hadn't noticed."

Now Plot stewed. Christian Mission Decision Chrissssthun Misshapen Decisshn Damn!

What to do.

Well, if this were to happen at an airport Plotnik could simply locate a uniformed airport personnel-person and suggest that the phone calls he is hearing are frightening in their subversity and that he feels the uniformed airport personnel-person should look into it immediately, and that would take care of that, IF, of course, Plotnik could ever locate a uniformed airport personnel-person, because if you fly as much as Plotnik seems to be flying these days you will have noticed that, cutbacks you know, there don't seem to be any personnel at all at airports, except for the dingbats behind the Southwest counter who wouldn't know a bomb from a three ounce bottle of salad dressing.

Plotnik COULD have made his famous Chinese pickles to bring to Thanksgiving but NO you can't bring liquids on an airplane any more unless you pack them into your suitcase and can you imagine how his socks would smell with just one little leak?

Plotnik decided to speak to Nicole. He turned around and said, kindly but with the fire of caffeine ringing in his ears: "Excuse me, but I wonder if you are aware how your making all these business calls on your cell phone makes it really impossible for any of those of us around you to enjoy our time in the coffee house?"

Nicole said: "Well, sir, thank you for telling me, I will keep that in mind."

Plotnik bit his lip, but said "That's nice, NICOLE. Thank you. Would you be keeping that in mind NOW, are you going to blather on and keep that in mind again later?"

She did not seem the least bit tormented. She said: "Sir, I'm sorry, but I would do this from my own office if I had an office, but I don't have an office, that's why I'm working from here."

As if this were Plotnik's fault that Christian Mission Decision didn't have a nice high rise in downtown Providence or possibly even Pawtucket from which Nicole and her coven of crackpots could intrude into the lives of perfectly normal, if a bit cranky, fellow human beings who are getting SICK and TIRED of...but Plotnik turned around and got a warning eyeball from The Great Ducknik, so he backed off.

Having unplugged his laptop and packed it into its case, he said to Nicole: "Well, I certainly hope you have a VERY nice day," and Nicole said "Yesssss, thank you." She did stop making the calls, though, at least until Plotnik left.

On Plot and Duck's last morning in Providence they went back to Blue State for their final cup of delicious low-fat latte and Plotnik spotted Nicole sitting at another table. She did not have her computer with her.

Plotnik caught her eye and she saw him too, because she gave him The Blank Stare of Doom, that expression women know how to slip into when they want to make sure you know they would never look anywhere on any planet you might be inhabiting, but don't want to give you the pleasure of seeing them turn their head away.

Plotnik smiled and nodded at her. She continued to not acknowledge his existence.

Plotnik is marking this down as a victory over domestic terrorism.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Clothing Tips

Does your wife want to know what she wore for Thanksgiving last year? Are you wondering which shirt you were wearing to carve the turkey in 2007? Well, pilgrim, keep a blog! The Great Plotnik wore that one in 2007 and this one in 2006.

(Doesn't it look like someone ripped the turkey's guts out and placed them on top of the turkey in this picture? No? Are you telling me Plotnik does not look like Sweeney Todd?)


This will be a week top heavy with turkey and family. The first part, Thanksgiving in Orange (Trees All Cut Down) County will be fun, though it would also be nice to be in Shmrooklyn with The Greats BZWZ, PD, 5H and BB who are going to be joined by DC Niecie and Chris (Large) this year, while it appears that Genicia and Chris (Not Large) are staying home.

Where will all you Plotnikkies be for Thanksgiving this year? Plotnik knows he's going to see Cousin Two Names and Cousin EG Smooth and Baby Two Names, plus Cousin Brother Two Names and Cousin Seattle and boy friend The Man Who Knows How To Treat a Woman, plus Nephew Dominant Force. Sadly, Nefnik, Fefnik and Vashnik will be in Oregon, and last year's basketball stars (How Did You Get To Be So Tall, Anyway?) David and (What? Did you score again?) Alex and li'l sis Danielle will be staying home with their father's new family this year, which is really a shame for us.

On the other hand, we can be sure that Plotnik will not be wearing this shirt this year, because he wore it last year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sore Knees and Double Jointedness

The Great Plotnik played several hours of basketball yesterday morning with his old buddies. He hadn't played in several weeks, but it was just one of those mornings -- warm, the joints feel good, there aren't too many guys -- and Plotnik was hot. It's always a good sign when the first shot you take goes into the basket. The rest seem to follow that first one.

But when he got home he was exhausted. So last night, when he and Ducknik joined their friend Nguyen Lopez Michael Jackson O'Brien and friends for dinner at Pluto's in the Marina and then walked over to a performance of the 2009 Eleventh Annual San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest, Plot's feet were already a little sore.

Not so after watching double jointed dancers from around the world. He felt like dancing. Slowly.

It was a great show. 'Hip Hop' doesn't seem to mean anything anymore other than a constant beat and an attitude. The performers who were the most fun to watch last night smiled a lot, while many of the others adopted that hard angry scowl the rest of us associate with felons and skateboarders. But it's just an attitude. We all had an attitude when we were younger.

We still do. It's: "BOY do my knees hurt. Pass the Advil."

You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog Review of "The 2009 Eleventh Annual San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest" here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two Down and One to Go

The Great Plotnik is making up for lost time on the pages of San Francisco Theater Blog. He saw a brilliant show last night at San Francisco Playhouse, and an equally fascinating one Friday night at the Aurora. You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog reviews of "She Stoops to Comedy" here, and "Fat Pig" here.

Tonight it's over to the Palace of Fine Arts to see the Hip Hop Dance Something Or Other, preceded by dinner with Ms. Nguyen Michael Jackson Goldberg Gonzalez and some of her friends.

And, speaking of play writing: Plotnik has something very exciting to show you all. It'll be awhile until he can get it onto these pages but -- wow.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Amazing as this will sound, The Great Plotnik, though the exalted leader of a Minor Western Religion, is no fonder of his hair than most other people. But he is thankful to have enough left to worry about, so you'd think he'd want to tend it a little more. No. He always takes a week or two longer than he should to call Light Fingered Liz and arrange to meet her first thing in the morning at her shop. He is also cheap.

He usually waits until The Great Ducknik says: "You really need to call Liz."

For years Plotnik cut his hair short, primarily because the women in TIAPOS told him he looked better that way, though he never thought so and never liked having short hair, except for the first two weeks when he didn't have to even look at it in the mirror in the morning because there was nothing to look at. But at some point after The Great PunkyDunky moved to Brooklyn, Plotnik began to reconsider.

The thing was that when short gray-haired Plotnik appeared in a photo with long dark-haired TGPD, Plotnik always looked old. Feeble. Balding. There the two would be, in the park holding Isabella, or on their bikes, or in a restaurant, and one would appear, well, long-haired and important and the other would appear, well, short-haired and, like, not important.

This would not do. So Plotnik decided to ditch the short-haired cool punk look and go back to the long-haired Berkeley intellectual again. He spoke to Light Fingered Liz and she worked out a plan.

The problem is LFL's solution always involves "product." "Put a little product in your hair when you take a shower." "Use some product and your hair will look shinier." "All you need is a little product."

Plotnik don't need no steeeeeenking "product."

On the other hand, he does love the way his hair looks for the 24 hours after LFL gets done with it. It will look the same way six weeks later for another 24 hours.

Plotnik has had men cut his hair and women cut his hair and his vote is for women. It's such a sensual experience, and he likes all the parts of it, even the nose hair trim. LFL has learned it's never a good idea to do that stylist thing where they show you the back of your head in a hand mirror, so you can, I don't know, see the back of your head that you'll never notice anyway.

Svetlana used to always do that. "Here's from the back. Is nice, da?" Plotnik doesn't go to Svetlana anymore.

Because Plotnik doesn't look at the back of his neck, he focuses in on his, ah, thinning patch, which is ONLY visible, by him, when the stylist throws a freaking MIRROR in his face and says "Is good, da?"

NO you're not getting a BLOG PHOTO of Plotnik's bald spot, what's WRONG with you people?

Boy, is Plotnik happy he erased the next part which was going to be about, well, the fantasy of having his hair cut by, well, you know it's just, well, that's why they invented the DEL key.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Too Much Pasta

We're home. It's back to Mom 'n Dad Food.

Not that it's not great to taste different things when you're away from home. But while the Plotniks were gone, the arugula exploded. So it's salads from here to next August.

Plot also weighed himself this morning. What a big freaking mistake that was. Dance-Nik was right. Too too too much pasta and pizza. It was worth it, though. (And BZ's borscht WAS great.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The New Baby Comes Home

Meet Baby Taylor, Martin's new baby brother. He is way smaller and his pitch doesn't have anywhere near the depth of Plotnik's big and beautifully seasoned old guitar, but the Taylor is the perfect size for traveling. He came with a padded gig bag and after a bit of haggling at the antique gift mall only cost Plotnik $100 including the gig bag, plus a few bucks for a new set of light gauge strings when he got back to S.P.

Plot has been looking for a travel guitar for years. He thought he'd found it when he spent a lot more money to buy...

...his dreamy eight-string custom ukelele, a few years ago on Waikalua Avenue in Waikiki, but as it turned out the uke, which is 'way lighter and smaller than even Baby Taylor, is a bit too limited for Plot to want to play it all the time, plus it's so gorgeous that if he lost it while traveling he'd be very upset; if something happens to Baby Taylor he can always replace it.

That's what he says now, anyway. Plot has noticed a tendency in himself, first voiced by Blonde Bombshell in reference to herself in particular and women in general, to fall at least a little in love with the men they sleep with; in Plotnik's case he seldom brings his guitars to bed with him but after playing them for a little while and discovering their secrets he becomes deeply attached. Let that analogy simply die where it lies.

Plot is assembling a nice stable of stringed instruments, but he only really cares about big brother Martin. Plot brought Martin home when Martin was brand new and he turned 40 last year. Martin replaced Plot's two classic guitars that were stolen out of his car when he first arrived in Nashville, Tennessee, just out of college. Plot mourned those guitars but then he found Martin, and now he can barely remember what the others sounded like.

Except for that Gibson 12-string, Oh Cbrist what that guitar must sound like now. How many pawn shops did Plotnik prowl through for the next few months, looking for his dears, how many newspaper ads did he peruse...but Nashville is a city of guitar players. Somebody is still playing that Martin 000-18, that Gibson 12.

Can you believe this? As Plot writes these words he realizes he is still pissed off about a theft that happened when he was 22. I thought age was supposed to make you mellow?

You can't build age into an instrument -- which is why Mummy P.'s 1936 Chickering spinet outplays even new baby grands. Old guitars acquire a patina in every strum.

Come to think of it, you can't match age in people either, and some of us, like pianos and guitars, mellow as we, uh, antique. Others just get stupid.

A few years ago, Plotnik and BZWZ passed an older guy walking on the street in LA, with an unshaved face, drooling while he stumbled down the sidewalk. Plot asked BZ to please shoot him if he ever gets like that.

Fast forward to an Italian restaurant waiting area a few days ago. A pudgy guy walked by in a toe to cap running suit that was hard to believe: cream and burgundy with BOTH stripes and checks. BZ agreed to shoot her father if he ever wears that suit, whether or not he is drooling while he walks down the street, and regardless of his supposed patina of maturity.

Plot could tell you the most beautiful pianos he's ever played -- no contest. The very old Steinway grand in the practice room at Carnegie Hall where his band gave a concert a long time ago (Mummy P. still remembers that concert -- she was there. She sat next to Plotnik's violinist's mother, who spent the entire concert vilifying Plotnik and Jon while extolling the virtues of her darling daughter, the gifted and insane violin prodigy.)

And Mummy P.'s. The list ends there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Papa Bear is Back

The Great Plotnik opens up his biodegradable canvas shopping bag and Nancy the sales girl at the corner fruit stand piles into it his milk, half and half, juice oranges, organic cucumbers and red leaf lettuce, plus two large (and cheap) avocados, first moving over the pound bag of French Roast coffee, ground for espresso, that Plottie previously purchased at Martha's.

You can get coffee in Providence and you can get coffee in Brooklyn. But Providence coffee is too acid. Brooklyn coffee is too flaccid. Saint Plotniko coffee is just right.

Walking back up the hill to World Headquarters, the air outside feels SO good on the back of his neck. Providence was beautiful yesterday, and it was hot there, but a different kind of hot. The Plotniks had beautiful weather in Brooklyn too but it's also a different kind of hot. Providence hot is too windy. Brooklyn hot is too trendy. Saint Plotniko's hot is just right.

(In November.)

So picture Plotnik merrily striding up his hill, carrying his bag of groceries, working his achilles and knees a bit, and he starts thinking: what would make this picture even better?

His normal default response to this question would be something like this: "If only our kids lived close by, why, we could get together more often and be closer and do more things together and..."

Then Plotnik thinks: But things are pretty danged nice just the way they are right now, aren't they? When we go East it's an occasion, not an obligation. We all do things together because we want to, not because we have to. The phone rings and no one says: "Psssst, Spike, my folks are here. I'll talk to you later."

The two touristy days in Boston were wonderful, the seven days in Providence were wonderful, the ten days in Brooklyn and Manhattan were wonderful.

But Boston's too old, Providence is too cold and Brooklyn has too much concrete.

Providence has lots of ethnic corners, and the Plots got to see more of it this time. Brooklyn is an exciting place, and Halloween and the NY Marathon were amazing. But the hoops through which people find it necessary to run just to do the simplest tasks, have not gotten any less daunting than when Plot and Duck lived in NYC. Try shopping for food. Try finding a school. Try getting in or out of town on a weekend.

Brooklyn is fun and Providence is fun but Saint Plotniko feels just right. "We haven't seen you for awhile," Nancy says, and Plotnik picks up another avocado and tosses it in his bag. He'll ride his bike down for hot tortillas later this afternoon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

See You Tonight

It's time to come home. Shmalifornia, we'll see you tonight.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Providence Day Seven: $1.99 Movies, Portuguese Mussels and a NEW GUITAR

It was raining, first thing in the morning yesterday when Plot took this shot out of BZ's kitchen window at the house next door. It kept raining.

...but that didn't stop BZ, Plot and Duck from going to the Providence Antique Mall. Plot wasn't looking for anything until he spotted this Baby Taylor half-sized guitar. He's been looking for a travel guitar for years and now he's got it.

It was the only kind of antique experience Plotnik enjoys -- lots of little stalls to look through where the border between junk and antique is blurred. The little guitar will sound great with some new strings and maybe even a pickup put on it.

There is a $1.99 Movie Theater up in East Providence, so after they got home from the antique mall, P D and BZ went to see "Whip It," an entertaining roller derby movie, which they all recommend highly. It's a fun story with Ellen Page, the girl from 'Juno' as the lead.

Afterwards, after all this heavy Italian food, it was time for some heavy Portuguese food at Madeira in East Prov. Mussels. Shrimp. Lombadinhos. Everyone in the restaurant seriously jumbo-sized. A loud Portuguese wedding going on upstairs. A waiter who was charming but barely competent. A long wait for water. Fantastic sauces. These fries that looked and tasted like potato chips but still managed to soak up those sauces. And somehow even cheaper than the cheap Italian restaurant last night. Plot hasn't figured out yet how that happened.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Providence Day Six: It's All About The Food

In Plotnik's experience, it's always the places that look like these that surprise you with great pizza. They never look like much from the outside, they have give-away free news sheets like The South Providence Gazette lying around on all the tables, Mom is somewhere in the equation and her boys are behind the counter and speak with an un-namable accent.

Providence Pizza is thin crust, but it's not that useless crackery gourmet-y stuff that passes for pizza crust in Saint Plotniko, and it's not the usual thicker but doughy stuff that most NY pizzerias get away with these days. Thin crust with bite: how do they do that? Certainly, the pepperoni pizza pie at Boulevard Pizza in South Providence was far and away the best the Plotniks have tasted in the East. And there are three pieces still in the fridge AND there is nobody else up yet!

Last night Plot, Duck, BZ and Ben-Z went to their third Italian restaurant on Federal Hill (there are at least 30 of them, maybe more). This one was called Angela's and was different then the rest -- cheap! Plotnik's veal and peppers was the real deal and BZ's fetuccinni with pink vodka sauce was crazy good.

Earlier in the day, Plot and Duck discovered South Providence. There is a university there called Johnson and Wales, which is all about food. It offers degrees in the culinary arts, and its Museum of the Culinary Arts is what attracted Plot and Duck to Boulevard Pizza, which is around the corner, in the first place. What a museum! They have a permanent exhibition on the history of the American Diner which is mind-blowingly interesting and fun to walk through.

Rooms full of old stoves! Martha Washington's recipe book and General Washington's china! Old mahogany bars from two hundred year old taverns, and ice cream scoops through the ages. This was a museum designed with Plotnik in mind.

It's Saturday and the promised rain has arrived. Plot and Duck only have a few meals, that is, days left, so they must be used wisely.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Providence Day Five: Bananagrams

One picture is worth a thousand words, when you look more closely and realize the Bananagrams letters in front of Ben-Z form three words and the last one is an arrow and the person sitting in the direction of the arrow is The Great BZWZ.

But no one said you can't have more than a thousand words in your blog entry. Today it looks mean outside, or at least very windy. Lots of leaves died last night -- the temperature is dropping and the sky looks like as gray as a Saint Plotniko summer, only -- worse.

It's gentler all around, where we live. The East, especially here along the rocky Atlantic coast, feels angrier, harder to handle, like your sophomore year girl friend. Even tranquil landscapes, like those leaves along the road from the other day's post, are deceptive: the leaves will be buried under a mountain of ice before you bat an eye.

Last night Plot and BZ looked through websites to find wineries that will be open in Sonoma County during late December, because after their convention the Rockheads want to taste some wine wine wine. Turns out all the wineries stay open during the holidays, but the other preference is harder to find: FREE wine tasting. The wonderful Cline is one venue, and Hop Kiln is probably another, two great places to go, and also Rosenblum in Healdsburg is likely to waive the tasting fee, especially to four young and beautiful geologists. Seghesio appears to be free.

BZ was looking at all the beautiful photos on all these wineries' websites, and she sighed: "I miss Shmalifornia."

Plot does too, but this morning he is tugging on an excellent latte at Blue State Coffee which is inside the Brown Book Store. He looks up and sees the wind throwing off the last of the leaves, Free at Last, Free at Last! He'll probably stay in here for awhile.