The Great Plotnik

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Miracle



It was nothing short of a miracle! The beatific smile of The Blessed Virgin apparently appeared on a poppy seed bagel in the kitchen of Great Plotnik World Headquarters, as reported by Columnist T.G. Ducknik. There are no plans for a shrine, however, because the Plotniks ate the bagel.

But that wasn't the miracle. Later that evening Famed Children's Book Author Nguyen Head of Elk Michael Jackson Bossanova came over for dinner...



...along with several other friends, including Cat the Adventure Girl...



...Cue Ball Sami and George (who left his upright bass in the car! Dang!)...



...and those whose pictures did not get taken -- Lance, Plot and Duck. Dinner and conversation went on late into the evening. But that wasn't the miracle either.

The miracle was that Sami made brussels sprouts and Plotnik liked them! This is a true first. Brussels sprouts usually rank right up there with dog liver and R. Smith's broccoli casserole. On San Francisco Theater Blog Brussels sprouts would receive No Stars with a bauble of despair.

But these were good. Thus, the smile-in-advance from the Virgin, who was herself soon to be sliced in half, coated with cream cheese, covered with tomatoes, sea salt and sweet onion, and consumed into Heaven.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

You Go Get 'em Barack



It was wonderful to see President Obama lecture the Second Graders the other night, the blue dog bullies in his own party and the snotty nosed babies in the other party.



Then last night we saw him at a meeting of the Republican caucus. The Republicans had the audacity to complain that they don't get listened to in Congress, and that they were getting Health Care Reform forced upon them.

What about when the Republicans were the majority, only a few years ago? They forced a destructive war upon the American people where innocent people were killed and forces unleashed that will plague us for a geration. They deregulated a financial system which led to economic chaos. And they have the CHUTZPAH to whine about nobody listening to their sorry-ass suggestions?



The Great Plotnik knows that the President is calling for reconciliation, but if even the Great Plotnik, a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Plotnik, despises those corrupt yahoos so much that when he hears them whining he runs into the broom closet and puts on his Super Avenger costume, the better to fly over the grand city of Metplotpolis and root the bad guys out from their barstools at the Country Club, well, then how must everyone else feel?

We have dug ourselves into a difficult situation. It will take a great leader to dig us out. It's easy to send money to Haiti. How about the Congress thinking about our own country for a change?

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Movies: Tyson


Plot and Duck watched "Tyson" last night. Actually, Plot watched, transfixed at this extraordinarily complicated psychotic who also happened to be the most intimidating person Plotnik has ever seen, as well as the boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World by age 20.

Ducknik mostly snoozed. But Plot couldn't take his eyes off this guy. What a movie. Netflix it if you dare.

A few nights ago they watched "Brokeback Mountain" that Plotnik expected to hate but was transfixed by. Duck loved it too. There were certain incomprehensible things in the plot that made no sense, but the way the two men were drawn not only to each other but towards the wilderness and away from their miserable lives at home made a lot of sense.

Not along ago Plot and Duck saw "Sin Nombre" which taught them both that the Spanish slang spoken by gangsters on the Guatemala border is as incomprehensible to them as the English slang spoken by gangsters on 19th and Mission. And the plot was 'way too simplistic, but, like Tyson, you kind of couldn't stop watching it, awaiting the inevitable destruction at the end.

Plot's friend Bill Leeman reviews movies. He hated "Crazy Heart," despised it in fact, the new movie with Jeff Bridges playing the drunken country music star. Plot figured he would hate that one too so he's avoiding it.

The only "music movie" Plotnik can remember liking in years was "Ray."

But those movies are movies. Tyson feels like life. The scariest thing about it is Tyson himself, perhaps not all that different from a lot of people who grew up the way he did. His friend James Toback shot the film, featuring an older Tyson talking about all the lunacy of his past, his childhood in Brownsville, his early career as a burglar, how discovering boxing saved him from ending up dead or in jail like the rest of his friends, and then his incredible success, and then his equally incredible fall, and a divorce, and a conviction for rape and three years in jail, and the comeback, leading to a conclusion with the two fights against Evander Holyfeld when Tyson was so filled with hatred and anger that he actually tried to bite Holyfeld's ear off.

Imagine Pacino's "Scarface," but more intense because Mike Tyson isn't acting.

Tyson talks over the footage of those fights -- he says he hated Holyfeld so much he wanted to kill him, to destroy him, to kill his children and everyone in his corner. In that context biting the man almost makes sense, though it cost Tyson his license as a prizefighter and isn't easy to watch in the ring either.

It's so contradictory. When you see footage of this absolutely terrifying man with the Maori tattoos on his face, stalking through the crowd to enter the ring, and you hear Tyson years later, in his high voice with that soft, amazing lisp, talking about how he was actually scared to death at that moment and before every one of his fights, it's hard to square what you are seeing with what you are hearing. The older live Tyson, the Tyson the documentary producers are interviewing, seems like an intelligent person, understanding of his own failures and deeply disappointed in himself, the young Tyson.

So Plotnik turns off the TV, wakes up the Duck, and thinks that Mike Tyson wasn't the beast he was made out to be, and that he was also even worse. And for a short time he was probably the best boxer in boxing history, and then he was an out of work bum.

Warning: when Mike Tyson stares at you in the movie you will have to turn your eyes away. You will. He is that scary. And so's the film.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It Ain't Hawaii



A road of nothing but rocks. Plotnik just read the blog of two bicyclers who went up and down the infamous Rte. 40 in Argentina, in godawful conditions of dust and wind and rocky surfaces. So he's gonna stop complaining about contracting to be in a crowded minibus for many hours traveling a couple of hundred miles over the same road in a few weeks.

And, what a gorgeous view! So much to see!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A New Cousin



Every few years another new cousin turns up -- this is Laura Horn Galdamez, fifty years old, living in Coronado CA. She is The Great Plotnik's 3rd Cousin, according to the family tree software, though the connections to third cousinhood can be hard to calculate. Thank goodness for software.

Laura found Cousin John in Illinois and he forwarded her question about the family to Plotnik in Saint Plotniko and after a little research it has been discovered that Laura's great grandfather Michel, a baker, was the younger brother of Plotnik's great grandfather, Morris, a shoemaker, both living in the little town called Wloclawek, Poland, that Plot, Duck and The Great BZWZ visited in 2000.

So the men in the Plotnik family go like this: Pinchas, a shoemaker, to Morris, a shoemaker, to Max, a salesman, to Sherman, a salesman, to Plotnik, a musician, to The Great PunkyDunky, a media director, to Brooklyn BellyBone, who is currently holding down the solitary position in the Seventh Generation.

Seven generations of Plotnik women to get to BellyBone would be: Bella to Bessie to Sophia to Rose to Barbara to Staci to Isabella.

BZWZ will have something to say about this order but not yet.

Seven generations of birthplaces: Wloclawek, Wloclawek, Wloclawek, Chicago, Chicago, Los Angeles and Los Angeles.

Many in Plotnik's family find this stuff to be no more than moderately amusing, but Plotnik feels a lot more connected thinking about all these people, and the lives they lived, and the lives we live, and the lives our kids and grandkids live and all the question marks after that.

And before that. All we can know is ourselves and a few generations in either direction. There are so many unanswered questions, but one new third cousin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Back To Normal



Good luck tomorrow to The Great WantzaNewName, The Artist Formerly Known as The Great Domin-Nik. At the last Tiapos Meeting she agreed with Plotnik about several things. It's too weird. Let's get back to normal already.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sex and Screw Ups and Theater Reviews



This entry has nothing to do with sex or screwups, but Plotnik has noticed both of these appear to be more popular with his readers than the theater. So he has stopped linking all of his theater reviews to this page -- except when one knocks and rocks his socks. "Animals Out of Paper" is one of those shows.

Yes, we know that many of you live out of town, but those down in Stiletto City may be interested to know that playwright Rajiv Joseph's newer play "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" opens at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Stiletto this April.

Many of you who do live in town can seldom get to the theater, for obvious reasons. And "Animals Out of Paper" is not the show to bring you in -- although it has everything including some terrific music. A $40 ticket is a hard sell and Plotnik knows this as well as anyone. With the exception of The Great Mushnik and Silent Bill, and occasionally Plottie's old movie reviewer partner Hanky Girl, almost none of his readers have had a chance to experience live theater as much as Plottie has since he started reviewing ten years ago.

But do read the San Francisco Theater Blog review of "Animals Out of Paper" here. It's a rare beauty of a show -- intelligent, funny and surprising. And there is sex and there are screwups. More screwups than sex, actually, but it's interesting that sometimes you don't get one without the other.

And who should be sitting next to Plotnik and Ducknik at the Premiere but the young star's parents? Aly Mawji's dad was next to Plottie and Aly's mom was one seat down. When Mawji, playing a young hip-hop loving genius, received an ovation as he left the stage after his first explosive scene, his father just about popped. He was squirming with pride, if you can envision that -- a proper gentleman who wanted to jump out of his seat and scream but felt he musn't -- so he did the emotional equivalent: he smiled so hard his eyebrows cracked.

One of the underlying themes of the show is that Andy, a high school calculus teacher, has decided that everything that has happened to him in his life, good or bad, is actually a blessing. He keeps a blessings book -- since he was 12 he has written down thousands of small occurrences in this book. He is the eternal optimist -- and is up to somewhere above 8,000 blessings as the play progresses.

After the Premiere there was a reception in the lobby at San Francisco Playhouse. Plotnik spotted Aly Mawji's parents and congratulated them again. His father was very happy, but his mother had the best line. She said: "I am very happy. I have written this evening into my book of blessings."

This is the best part about being a reviewer -- you sometimes get to tell people how good they are. Actors -- all performers, really -- hope this is true but they are never, in their own minds, any better than their last screwup. They remember the line they said incorrectly more than the 100 lines they did beautifully. And even superstars are always surprised and grateful to receive praise.

And parents? -- who drove the kid to acting class since he was eight -- and who maybe were thinking this acting thing was just a phase the kid was going through, that soon he would become the doctor they had envisioned, or come home to work in the family grocery? They need to hear it too.

Plotnik is thinking about his book of blessings this morning and the trials of some of his good friends. He thinks what you do is first get through the trial, put it behind you. Then you can decide whether or not you should write it down.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Knew About Brazil Nuts?


The Great Plotnik threw out the Brazil nuts today. Who knew?

You probably had to be here -- the discussion about Brazil nuts over the Christmas holiday. Apparently Brazil nuts, aside from being something you eat, are the focal point of a particularly incomprehensible racial slur, a slur only Grandma Joy and The Great FiveHead had ever heard, which unfortunately makes some kind of sense. Grandma Joy said her clueless white kid college students in Wisconsin told her about it.

It led to six or seven people in the extended Plotnik clan sitting around in the living room inspecting each other's feet and laughing our heads off over these innocent-looking-but-in-fact-devious members (Bertholletia excelsa) of the family Lecythidaceae.

To Plotnik they always seemed like really fatty nuts that ought to taste better than they do, but those days are over. He, and everyone else in the room that night, will be happy to swear off Brazil nuts for awhile.

Out, out, damned nut! In the trash with you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Plotnik Doesn't NEED a Calendar. He HAS a Calendar.



"Get a calendar." "You need a calendar." "Shall I buy you a calendar?"

Plotnik hears this all the time. But he HAS a calendar. A nice one, right here on the computer. All he has to do is look at it.

Which he DID. He DID look at his calendar. He saw that he had the opening of "Daddy Long Legs" last night. He saw that he had Silent Bill's birthday party next Friday night.

So he and Duck gobbled down a hurried bunch of snacks, figuring they'd eat later. (Which they did.) Plot was already dressed in his Reviewer Outfit (slacks, sweater, polished shoes), but first he grabbed the overflowing garbage can, took it outside to dump it, then when he came back Ducknik was holding the phone and looking at him.

"IS BILL'S PARTY THIS WEEK OR NEXT WEEK?"

"Next Friday night. (You see, I have a calendar.)"

"NO, IT'S TONIGHT. MUSH IS ON THE PHONE. THEY'RE WAITING FOR US."




Plotnik takes the phone.

"Mush? Bill's party is next week."

"Well, we're all here now. And you're bringing a main dish."

The story goes on from there, but thankfully Ms. Mush is one of the sweethearts of the world and didn't mind that Plot and Duck rushed over there in their Reviewer Clothing. Fortunately, we guess, Plot had a very plebian piece of salmon-like-pig that he would never allow other people to eat at a party, but that became his main dish. The good news is there was lots of other yummy food.

This morning, Plot must write the press agent and ask her why she wasn't at Mush's house last night. She'll say "Daddy Long Legs was last night."

"Oh."

"Why the hell don't you get a calendar?"

Plotnik doesn't NEED a calendar. He HAS a calendar.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Geez That Hurts



If your eyes don't water a little, a banh mi sandwich is not a banh mi sandwich. When Mrs. Nguyen makes the sandwiches, the pain is evenly distributed throughout, so you don't have to first open up the French roll and either spread out or remove some of the jalapenos. But if either of Mrs. Nguyen's assistants make the banh mi, and you're so hungry you just can't wait to remove the wrapper and get smackin', you're gonna suffer.

Plotnik's eyes are flooding, his nose is shnoofling, his mouth is burning and he's holding his lips wide open, like he's blowing a smoke ring, which I guess he is. DANG that was good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where's Waldo-Nik?

Wow! This is a first. Until The Great Plotnik received a note this morning from NotThat, he hadn't even realized he hadn't bothered to post a blog listing two days in a row, for the first time in at least five years.

What has happened is that El Ploto has transferred into Spanish Mode. He has been sitting in front of the computer and on the telephone, trying to set things up for his and Duck's upcoming Chile/Argentina trip, and it's exceedingly complicated. His Spanish is fine except when speaking to people with soft voices on bad cell phone connections with one second satellite delays during a rain storm and with the heat whooshing in the background, all of which seems to be true on every phone call. It takes a lot of concentration for Plot to make sure he has understood correctly what he has just heard someone say, or to just hear anything at all.

E-mail has revolutionized traveling in the same way bottled water has. No more waiting for days until you get an answer if at all. People even in the most faraway places can communicate with you in real time and they can't wait to do so.

** WE UNDERSTAND THAT PLOTNIK'S TRAVEL ISSUES ARE NOT FRIENDS HAVING SURGERY, NOR FAILING ECONOMY, NOR MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE, NOR DEMOCRATS LOSING AND REPUBLICANS WINNING, NOR ANYTHING ELSE THAT REALLY MATTERS AT ALL.**

Where were we? This morning Plot has to answer the email from Estancia Telken, which is out in the absolute middle of nowhere, approximately two hours, Plotnik estimates, from Estancia Los Toldos, also in the middle of nowhere. Both are somewhat near the Cave of the Painted Hands -- by "somewhere near" we mean within several hours by 4 X 4, hike and perhaps horse -- and are the only places anyone can stay "near" the Cave.

But which to stay in? Both are working sheep ranches, both offer spartan accommodations with, one assumes, lots of mutton chops, both can find local guides to help strangers find the Cave and surounding regions of other paleolithic painted rocks, as one hikes along and above the river, and both cost the same thing, which ain't cheap.

But to get to Telken or Los Toldos, Plot and Duck have to take at least a 10 hour bus ride from El Calafate, where the two gringachos will be on their previous stop, over gravel roads towards the tiny town of Perito Moreno (not the glacier of Perito Moreno near El Calafate but the town of Perito Moreno on the way to Bariloche). Then somebody's got to pick them up and drive to the estancia. If it's Telken, which seems to be slightly larger and prettier, it's an hour drive to the estancia but a two hour drive to the Cave. If it's Los Toldos it's at least two more hours to get to the estancia but only a one hour schlep to the Cave.

The backpacker literature has stories of satisfied people staying at Telken, but many speak of how cool it would be if that place near the cave, Los Toldos, would finally open up and take in guests. Now it has. But no one has ever stayed there.

And no matter which estancia Plot and Duck pick, they'll have to get back to Perito Moreno, the town, for a 7:30am bus from Perito Moreno all the way down through the pampa to the Atlantic Coast town of Puerto Madryn, which just happens to be one of the Welsh-founded Argentine towns that JJ-aka-PP would kill to see. This bus ride takes 12 more hours and according to Nguyen Goldstein Bossanova, the only one Plot knows who has actually traveled in Southern Patagonia, there is absolutely nothing to see but flat flat flat.

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? some might ask. Some might. Some might get up in the middle of the night to see their mate also up in the middle of the night, asking the same question. HONEY? Yes? I DON'T KNOW EITHER. BUT WE'RE DOING IT. GO BACK TO SLEEP.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Las Cuevas de las Manos Pintadas?



Can you imagine an area in the high desert, not that far from the bottom of South America, where they have found remnants of civilizations from 7,000 years ago? These drawings are on the walls of the Cave of Painted Hands which Plot and Duck are trying to figure out how to get to -- it involves planes and buses and bumpy roads and hikes and guides and when you look at the map down there the Atlantic and Pacific seem really close together. Plot is already wondering why they painted their hands? In our idiot culture we would try to xerox a picture of our butt on the wall.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Cossack News



The note from Professor Anonymous yesterday about the Zaporosian Cossacks absolutely delighted the Great Plotnik. When he asked for details from the Great Plotnik Fact Checking Division, which due to cutbacks now consists of one squirrel, two pencils and one old volume of the 1960 Encyclopedia Brittanica (Be-Co) (BZ: This is the volume that has been missing from your Britannica since you were in Elementary School: the squirrel had it), the fact checker was unable to verify or deny Anonymous's comments. But they sound accurate to Plotnik.

What it reminds him is that history is always written by people with the best writers.

And victims are almost always the wrong victims.

We live in a world of Have and Have Not, and that has been the case since Eve (Have Not) ate the Apple and God (Have) was furious at her. He had lots of apples. He invented them, he could have put more on the tree at any time. She just wanted one crummy apple. Look what happened.



And who wrote the book about it. Eve? Na na na.

Professor Anonymous points out that the Jews in Poland were seen as agents of the landlords, which they probably were. But there was a reason. Throughout the Middle Ages and onwards, Jews were periodically rounded up for political reasons and either expelled from the kingdom or made to live in ghettoes surrounded by gates and high walls. The only way this tiny ethnic group could survive was to ally itself with the King. But they had to pick the right King.

Kings came and Kings went. The really successful ones wrote books about it.

It goes all the way back to the bible. Joseph saved Egypt from famine, but when the Pharoah died and his son took over, the son couldn't remember what Joseph had done for the Egyptians. He enslaved Joseph's people, who later become known as Jews. This was a case where the Jews guessed wrong.

But they wrote the history. It is called Passover.

On the other hand, the Egyptians probably don't tell this story the same way. They probably look at Jews who wanted to leave Gorgeous Egypt the same way the English look at the colonists who wanted to leave Mother England or the slaveholders looked at their beloved darkies. Ingrates.

Stories always have two or three or four sides and you seldom get more than one.

So the traditionally impoverished and landless peasants saw the Jews as the enemy, when they SHOULD of been pissed at the landlords.

This doesn't mean the Cossack peasants didn't have cause to be frustrated and furious. They were just furious at the wrong people.

It also doesn't mean the victims didn't have cause to be furious at their attackers.
They too were furious at the wrong people. Both groups should have united to take down the King.

But they didn't. Instead, they told stories. And all of us grew up hearing the stories our own people chose to remember. They're good stories. But they're rarely the whole story.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Way Plotnikkies See God.



Two notes from friends got Plottie thinking this morning. His friend Corrie is getting ready to take his wife to Central Europe. His wife is a Jew, who is looking for her roots in Slovakia and Hungary, and Corrie is a black man whose father is a minister in North Carolina.

His friend Leah is kind enough to say she likes the religious and politial maelstrom that is The Great Plotnik's brain.

But what is Plotnik's view about God? After all, he is the Religious Pastor of a Cyber Flock composed of maybe six people, none of whom turn to him for advice about anything. Perhaps this is because The Great Plotnik has never been able to solve this conundrum:

When holocaust survivors were interviewed after they were released from the death camps, they were asked how they saw God now.

Half said God had abandoned them.

Half said God had saved them.

Go figure.

So perhaps Plotnik should distill the way that Plotikkies might think about the Almighty.

(But Plotnik doesn't think anyone should tell anyone else how to think about the Almighty.)

The other day The Great Ducknik entertained two lovely Latina women at the front door in a Spanish conversation about The Watchtower Magazine. She was practicing her Spanish -- perhaps they thought they had finally found someone in this neighborhood who would buy their magazine.

Ducknik and the Jehovah's Witnesses ladies were kind to each other. This is the way Plotnikkies should look at religion: as an opportunity to listen to other people, all of whom think exactly the same way you do about the important stuff, and none of whom has the slightest idea what the truth is, no matter what they say or what you could find in their magazine.

About the Almighty: it sounds like Almaty, which was the old capital of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is where the Cossacks came from, the ancient tormentors and occasional executioners of Jews in Central Russia. Read Mikhail Sholokhov's "And Quiet Flows the Don" for luminous examples. If you'd have thought about it, you could have asked Plotnik's grandma about it. She would have spit and screamed: "Kazakhski!" and spat again.

Jews in Central Russia who weren't eliminated by Cossacks probably left earlier, for the USA, France and, later, Israel.

Israel has plenty of problems, few of which Plotnik agrees with.

If you don't believe in Israel, 1 million per cent of the time, this makes you either an Anti-semite, a self-loathing Jew or a terrorist.

If you're a terrorist everyone is afraid of what you have in your underwear.

(Nobody is afraid of what Plotnik has in his underwear. They used to be, but this is bordering on T.M.I.)

So it seems to come down to underwear, or shampoo in large bottles, or that liter of Crystal Springs you forgot to drink before you got to the idiots with the badges at the airport.

Put that liter of water in your underwear if you want to see them jump.

Thus endeth today's sermon.

Plotnik is glad he has had the chance to explain. He is happy to entertain your theological questions. Go forth, my children, and multiply. Or add. Don't divide, for God's sake. You're not paramecia.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Go See Bright River



"The Bright River" is one answer -- there are going to be a lot of answers -- to the question that Plot and Duck ask themselves all the time, as they're sitting in their cushy, complimentary theater seats on Opening Night, watching the audience file in and realizing that they, aging Plotnik and young-but-not-getting-any-younger Ducknik, are perhaps the youngest people in this crowd.

"What will it take to get young people to realize what they're missing with live theater?" is the question. The answer is plays like "The Bright River," an innovative amalgam of concert and performance. Not that it's a perfect show, but it is exciting. Tim Barsky plays five different parts and each one is spellbinding; don't look for an orchestra of violins but instead a beat boxer who plays the microphone.

And this time Plot and Duck were the oldest people there by -- oh, twenty five years? The Brava Theater was packed with people with hair and boots.

And who knew you still have to pay rent, even after you die? Go read the SF Theater Blog review of "The Bright River" here -- pay no attention to the reviewer's personal niggles -- and if you're hanging around the Mission looking for an inexpensive evening that will make you remember that Rodgers and Hammerstein are perhaps not dead but just waiting at the bus station between life and death -- go down to the Brava on 24th and York before February 20. Plottie has spoken.

Plus, you might run into The Great Shutter-nik there. Plot and Duck did.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

El Cheapo is Still in Charge



Plotnik understands the reasons people grab on to tours when they travel. They do all your work for you, pick up your luggage at the front door of your plush hotel, escort you to the van and hurry you to your next destination, all in an atmosphere of preferential treatment. They bow and call you Mister and if you sneeze they say God Bless You.

Or so it is said. Plot and Duck have never taken one of these package tours, because it seems to them that tour companies also take you where they want to take you, spend as much time when they get there as they want and are always hustling you forward to meet the demands of their next camera-ready opportunity. And the people you meet on these tours are the same people you left back home. Opportunity for snapshots: Many. Opportunity for growth: Zero.

And you pay through the nose for the chance to let somebody else be your daddy.

All that said, Plotnik is having a hell of a time trying to figure out where to go and what to do in Patagonia, an area larger than the USA where many of the distances look short on the map, except for that mountain range of 22,000 foot peaks standing in the way, and the windy mountain roads that accompany them, and the glaciers over here and the volcanoes over there.

He'd love to take a tour. But he is just 'way 'way 'way too cheap. And February-March up here is July-August down there so it's busy season for outdoorsy people. Everyone is trekking, hiking, climbing, rafting, diving, jumping, sailing and biking while Plot and Duck want to do a little of that but also plenty of walking, sitting, tasting, ambling, listening, maybe some dancing, maybe some museum-ing, and they wouldn't mind sleeping in a bed instead of on an overnight bus.

But you have to take overnight buses if you want to keep your costs down and cover these ungodly distances. Plotnik's experience with overnight Latino buses is there is a video called "Jesus Eats Vampire Mary" blasting at full volume all night long and when that one finishes they put on "Bruce Lee vs. Armando Gonzalez Gonzales."

Not complaining here, only remarking. The Plotniks' airline tickets are practically free, due to Ducknik's service to Mother Bank and all the traveling she did for so many years, but those miles are depleted and this may be the last big one for next to nothing.

(OK, the tickets are not totally free, but it only costs $100 each in taxes to go from SFO-Toronto-Santiago and then Buenos Aires-Toronto-SFO.)

(It would have been nice to avoid the Toronto part, for sure. But that's the route you get when your frequent flier miles are with United and United doesn't fly to Santiago. Their partner Air Canada does.)

(United does fly directly to Buenos Aires, but through Dulles, so that's not much help. And anyway United allots one frequent flier seat per plane to their Buenos Aires flight and that seat is booked until 2018. So you gotta use partners.)

Since the airline tickets are so cheap, there is a temptation to say "Oh, hell. We've never taken a tour in our lives. We've never been on a cruise. We've never spent the biggo buckos to see or go anywhere. So maybe it's time. Maybe we need a guided itinerary to travel thousands of miles in and out of volcanoes and glaciers?

Maybe, but El Cheapo is still in charge here. Overnight bus to small cafe to self-guided walking tour to blog posting spot to guitar store. Local minivan to central market to spice market to museum of aboriginal history to lunch counter to drug store for stomach disorder pills and cough syrup to hostel to take nap to cafe somebody's sister told us about to bridge to take picture back to hostel.

When you travel like this you meet fascinating, cheap, opinionated people like yourselves, usually from other countries. Often you meet them where you're buying the immodium.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

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There is this guy somewhere in Russia named Anonymous who has really turned on to San Francisco Theater Blog. He loves it so much he is leaving helpful comments all the time, like:

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January 7, 2010 2:49 AM

So what is going on? Blogger has no mechanism for blocking comments, which Plotnik really doesn't mind, but the comments all seem to come in on one old review for the disliked show "Burn the Floor." Could Anonymous be a lonely guy in Siberspirsk who thinks anyone who hated "Burn the Floor" as much as Plotnik did could use viagra, muscle relaxer and a shot of Мне понравился ваш сайтик?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Terrifying (1)0.6 Earthquake

This video just came to the Great Plotnik World News Desk. It shows correspondent James Street experiencing a 10.6 earthquake in Idlewild, California, although that might have been 0.6 with a small 'l' in front of it. video


Actually, this is the first video The Great Plotnik World News Desk has ever published. It has been made possible by GPWD's weekend acquisition of Too Stupid To Even Twitter About Corporation (TSTETA). This gives the News Desk control of the entire Too Stupid catalog, and The Great Plotnik hopes his fans will send him even more. Thank you to Brother Street. We sincerely hope you are over this, you know, nightmare.

Please keep your child's more impressionable stuffed animals away from viewing this video which is truly Too Stupid To Even Twitter About. To tell the truth, even Plotnik is afraid to watch it more than fifty times, though he can't seem to stop.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Om and Oi

So Plot has a month to do a ton of work. The Best of Tiapos project has to go on the back burner until Perfect Pitch issues are resolved.

Plus, the rear acreage has gotten completely taken over by oxalis which is so thick it is choking all the pretty spring bulbs and corms underneath. Plot ought to hire somebody who knows what they're doing to pull out that oxalis, which would take at least three days but which person is easily attainable down on the corner, but he hates to let other hands into his garden.

Plus, he's got to get down to see Mummy P. before he and Duck leave.

Plus, they don't even have any place to stay or know what they're gonna do down there yet.

Except for the Internacional Festival de la Cancion outside of Santiago. And the harvest thingy in the Chilean Wine Country which on the map is only a few inches away from the Argentine wine country, but for those Andes Mountains in the way.

But it's nothing. What gets finished gets finished and what does not waits its turn.

What about the Baby Taylor? Does it come to Argentina, or does it stay home so Plot can buy a charango like The Great PD did up near Iguazu?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Plotniks Begin Training



Plot and Duck have gotten their official OK that they can use up most of the last of their United frequent flier miles to go to South America in February. So they started their training this morning. Good hot chocolate in the morning, along with chips and salsa, has absolutely nothing to do with Chile or Argentina, so they have to train themselves to do without.

After calling every day for a week, sure enough a flight opened up at the last moment, which now allows Plot and Duck to fly all the way through to Santiago, Chile and leave a few days later than they had expected. So instead of some fun in Peru that Plot had looked forward to, including a train ride up to the mountain town of Huancayo, but that was going to cost them close to a thousand dollars extra when you added in additional air fare to get to Chile from Lima, the Plotniks will not see Peru this trip, but spend all their time in Chile and Argentina, with perhaps a day or two in Uruguay, across the Rio de la Plata from Argentina.

So get ready for meat. In Argentina, especially, it's all about beef. Here's a segment Plotnik read from the blog of a woman who had gone to a cattle ranch to spend a few days. When she got there they had lunch ready:

"We arrived to find a spread of flaky empanadas, cheese, jamón, wine, and beer waiting for us. We snacked, talked, and then moved over to the dining table that had been laid out for us in the field. More wine and beer were served alongside fresh salad and crusty bread with a sizzling platter of grilled sausage and short ribs. We all tucked in and enjoyed the succulent meat, laughing and talking about everything we’d seen on our ride. When the meat was gone, we were surprised to find that another platter was brought out, this time of beef tenderloin. The meat was everything we’d imagined the Argentine beef to be: tender, juicy, and perfectly flavorful. Just as we were about to burst, a final platter of strip steak was brought out."

It's a known fact you can't gain weight on a vacation, because of the extra effort your body must make to digest food in a new language and that's a good thing.

This morning Plot and Duck took the train down to Union Square, stopped in the travel section of Mush's Old Big Box Store, bought two travel books, then ended up eating a ridiculously delicious lunch at Plot's favorite Salvadoran food counter in the Mission, where you see that cup of hot chocolate. What you don't see are the huevos rancheros, thick Salvadoran tortillas, fried bananas, black beans, sour cream and a cup of thick atole de maiz -- a kind of pudding-like sweet drink. Training this hard is a trial, but Plot and Duck appear to be up to the challenge.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Life of the Absurd



Last night Plot and Duck saw Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano. It is Theater of the Absurd and that's what it is. The neighborhood is so very depressing. Plot and Duck parked the car and then had to pick their way through cripples and people nodding in doorways and holding out vials of crack and screaming for no apparent reason, and these people were being serviced by large men in hoodies looking in all directions at every step. One block away is the Hilton Towers. Who needs theater when you have Life of the Absurd?

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Few Musings on Baubles



Plotnik has come to the conclusion that jewelry is not like wine, where it doesn't matter what it costs, only that you like it. In fact, it is a badge of honor to find a bottle of $5 cabernet that you can tell your friends about. You'll be a hero. When they drink it, they'll say: "Yeah! Plottie found this at Two Buck Moe's!"

IN GENERAL, Plotnik has noticed this doesn't work with jewelry. It appears to be true that the more you spend for baubles the more you like them.

Plotnik has bought many moderately priced earrings for The Great Ducknik and a few...just a few...of these have been favored. Admittedly, his taste was once, let's just say it, crappy. He barely knew the difference between a broach and a guitar pick. He is getting much better.

But it is also true that he spent a lot more for the earrings for which he stalked the jewelry boutiques in Singapore (with the help of an older, very wealthy Singaporean matron who bargained like God Herself), and he also spent a lot more for the ones he gave Ducknik last September on their anniversary that didn't end in an 0.

...and so he attempted to match that success this Christmas. He was partially successful, but the problem with the necklace he purchased was the problem Plotnik had foreseen -- too much like the earrings. So Ducknik thought she'd like to go back to the store and see some other items too. In the end a very nice exchange was made, in which both Ducknik and Plotnik like the new bauble far more than the bauble Plotnik had originally picked out.

But while they were in the jewelry store, the salesgirl was patiently explaining the difference between two necklaces she had displayed neatly on the black velvet doogumdad. They looked pretty much the same, only one had a tiny blue bead and one had a tiny red bead. Both had miniscule round, gold dinguses attached. Ducknik seemed to prefer the one with the round gold dingus and the blue bead, but when Plotnik asked the price, and the salesgirl told him, he gagged.

He didn't mean to, but Christ. He was surprised, that's all.

He asked the salesgirl why this one cost so much more than the other one, and she said "that little round dingus is 24 carat gold" (or 22 carat gold or anyway a full salad full of carats). "But it's tiny, right?" Plotnik whined, and the salesgirl said "well, that's why it's only GASP Dollars."

Now Plotnik is here to tell you, and The Great Ducknik would agree, that that little round gold dingus was tiny and tinny and not too many steps removed from a Cracker Jack box. But it was 24 or 22 carats, and it is Plotnik's contention that it would look the same at 1 carat, but if it's 24 carats when one's mother in law asks one how many carats there are in one's gold dingus one can say 24 carats and that will shut her right up.

Not Ducknik's mother in law, she would never ask anything like that. "One's" mother-in-law. (Think: "Juan's mother-in-law.")

Ducknik thought the bead/dingus combination doodaddle was too extravagant too. A lovely Kevin necklace was purchased (this is a pro basketball reference) and everyone smiled, said thanks for your help, please come back again, have a beautiful day. The bell over the door jangled.

Plotnik had been anxious for a week to complete this transaction and he was happy to have completed it successfully, because he is never comfortable in a jewelry store. He feels that he is being played like a banjo by women who know so much more than he does, and have a lot of experience convincing husbands and boy friends that tiny gold dinguses and flashy diamond blingmamas are what their true loves actually desire.

(And this is not true. What they desire is more shoes. Come on, readers, be honest.)

Mission accomplished. it was nice to be outside.

Out on the street, Plotnik breathed in the suddenly fresh and crisp air of a beautiful new day, only to hear Ducknik say: "I just want to go to one more place, down the street."

"But, whimper, wait..."

"You'll like this place," Ducknik said, and amazingly enough, Plotnik really did. It's a cramped, vibey new store where the woman owner makes her own things and has designers who make jewels out of, oh, vintage buttons and found objects. There were several found objects that looked a hell of a lot more prosperous than that stupid tiny gold dingus and this lady's jewelry costs a tenth or a twentieth as much as the ones with all those carats.

But nobody's friends say: "Look at that nice necklace Plotnik bought Ducknik. He got it at Button World and it only cost $14! What a guy!"

Nope, they don't, do they?

And the Plotniks didn't BUY anything in the cool, cheap store, they BOUGHT something in the expensive, designer-ier store.

What is the point here?

It is that jewelry and wine are not the same. When you finish the bottle, it's gone. But that beautiful classy bauble around the Duck's neck will bring both Plottie and Ducknik a lot of pleasure for many years. Right?

-----

(That's the Hope Diamond above, by the way, the largest diamond in the world, not Ducknik's new Kevin.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It May Happen?



Once again, when you talk to Customer Service it's all about when you call and who you talk to. Yesterday morning, Plotnik tried calling United Airlines Frequent Flier Information and was told "Thank You for calling United Air Lines. Current Wait Time is...Sixty Minutes."

When wait times are that long no one can take the time to work with you. So Plottie hung up and called back at 5pm and got someone who was willing to take nearly an hour to work the complicated United system to find flights that corresponded to the Plotniks' meager miles. If Air Canada and Continental agree, the agent might have just done that.

Fly into Lima and out of Buenos Aires. What happens in between is still a mystery. But Cousin Two has been to Argentina and Nguyen Michael Jackson Goldstein has been all through South America and maybe some of you have been there too? Plottie has been sending e-mails and can use any info he can get.

Better like beef. The Greats PD and 5-H traveled to Iguazu Falls the year that Plot, Duck and BZWZ went to Poland, and they report that a sample meal in Argentina is beef, beef and beef with a side of beef. 5-H ate a lot of cheese that trip.

Plot's first choice would still be Brazil, but that will come later. Right now The Great Ducknik wants to be in a Spanish-speaking environment and this will be true until they get to Argentina. In Argentina the Spanish they speak doesn't sound anything like the Spanish they speak in the rest of Latin America. The little Argentinian Spanish that Plotnik has heard sounds more like a combination of Spanish with Portuguese, that is the Portuguese they speak in Brazil, not the Portuguese they speak in Portugal, which actually sounds German, but not the German they speak in Germany but the German they speak in Paraguay, where German is apparently the third language, and probably it's Nazi-era German.

Go figure.

Argentina is said to be primarily Italian and Spanish. Go figure.

They say they don't use much chile in Chile. Go figure.

If the Plotniks actually go in February, it will be July there. Go figure.

Can't leave until after Brother Shmeckl's Birthday with the 0 on the end of it, and have to get back before Ira's wedding. We'll all just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Rene. Great Noodles and Buns



Rene did it. Plotnik is no longer a Business Customer of AT&T but a Consumer Customer. This means he can now use the internet to...no, this means BZWZ can use the internet to find a new phone.

Customer Service is always about finding the right person. Rebecca and Gamesh and the three others were interested only in repeating AT&T's tiresome catch phrases, in Happy Voice Number One, sincere to the point of asphyxiation ("We deeply desire customers at the AT&T family to be satisfied with our problem resolution!"), while Rene, who described herself as "the new kid on the block" still thought the idea was to resolve the customer's problem. God Bless Rene and that soft Louisiana accent ("I'm real glad I could he'p you Mr. Plotnik, you been rasslin' with this foolishness for too long. Now you go out and have some fun t'night, y'hear?").

---

Plotnik received the Momofuku cookbook from The Great PD for Christmas. He's never seen anything quite like it. When was the last time you saw a recipe that called for 1/2 C of sugar, 1/4 C of glucose, 1/4 C of isomalt, 2/3 C of pine nuts and 5 1/2 T of unsalted butter?

The problem is that the whole family has eaten at Momofuku several times and it's ridiculously innovative and delicious. Now Plotnik sees how much work goes into those seemingly simple dishes. He also notices with how much awe they speak of pig fat and doesn't really want to think about that.

Monday, January 04, 2010

UPDATE! Eight is Enough Part II

An hour or two later Plotnik called again. He got connected to Happy Rebecca. Rebecca was the most positive, most upbeat, most disgusting human being Plotnik had talked to yet. She kept saying things like:

"Oh, my goodness! I'm SO sorry you had to be so TERRIBLY inconvenienced!"

and

"We want to thank you SO much, Mr. Plotkin, for..."

"It's PlotNIK."

"Yes, Mr. Plotkin, we want to thank you SO much for being part of the AT&T family because..."

"It's PlotNIK! PlotNIK! Please pronounce it for me."

"Ah, ha ha ha, Mr. Potnnik, did I get that right?"

"Grrrr."

"Well, isn't that marvellous! We want to thank you for being so patient! We here at the AT&T family are proud to serve our wonderful customers so they'll be satisfied customers!"

"Uh huh."

But Mr. Plotkin, I'm going to have to transfer you to Gamesh over at Business Foolishness."

"Christ."

"Ha ha, here he is now! Gamesh, are you on the line? I have Mr. Pottkin here. Did I pronounce that right?"

"Just forget it."

(Man's voice): "A good hello to you sir I am so thinking we fixing problem you are having at current moment ha ha ha. My name is Gamesh."

"All right, Gamesh."

"Oh, yes, that is a good thing, yes. I will having to put you on hold for a few moments while I complete this service change, you are understanding?"

"Yes, you're going to put me on hold."

"Oh, ha ha ha, yes I am. For two or three minutes at the maximum time allowance is waiting you are for me. I will be right back."

BLISTERING rock and roll Muzac. One guitar line, over and over. And over. And over. Plotnik has put the phone on Speaker and he is afraid to touch it because he might get disconnected again. Fifteen agonizing minutes later Gamesh is back.

"Oh, Mr. Ploknutz we are having trouble. One more moment I am hoping please!"

MORE BLISTERING rock and roll Muzac. The SAME distorted guitar line. Plotnik cannot run and there is nowhere to hide.

Gamesh returns.

"Oh, Mr. Poopflotz, I am afraid I am having to transfering you to Rene at Impossible Screwups. Rene are you there?"

"Hi there Sweetie, are you not having a good day?"

Plotnik loves this woman's voice.

"Rene, where are you located?" Plotnik asks.

"Lafayette, Louisiana, sweetheart, now you just hold on and Rene gonna make everything fine. OK?"

"Well, OK."

"And good bye to you, Gamesh, now you have a fine day too, a'ight?"

"Oh, is good idea and good day I will be having. Good bye to you Mr. Plot-NIK? Did I say name with correct pronouncement?"

"You actually did."

Right now Rene and Plotnik are getting along fine. We'll let you know. Still at 100.

Eight is Enough: Part One

So here we are on the first business day of the New Year and Plotnik has already used up at least eight of his 108 bad thoughts for the year. Plot, Duck and BZWZ share an AT&T account for their cell phones. Plot and Duck replaced their phones in September, but BZWZ lives in Roiland. When she tried to replace her phone there they gave her a lot of runaround and suggested she take care of it when she came back home for Christmas.

But when she walked into the AT&T store on Market Street, they told her she did not qualify for an upgrade. They ALWAYS tell BZWZ she doesn't qualify for whatever it is she needs -- like a replacement phone because the old one disintegrated, or a new phone that is stipulated after her service period has expired. BZWZ is the Clippers of AT&T. She never qualifies for anything.

(Shoot. Plotnik is getting angry as he writes this, but it's at himself so that's probably OK, karma-wise.)

So when Plotnik's beautiful daughter, The Greatest Clipper of Them All, got back to Roiland she went back to the AT&T store, except this time they told her everything was fine, fine, just fine, but they didn't have the exact phone she wanted in stock. They suggested she just take care of everything on line.

"You won't ever have to come in here again. You can do everything you need at home on your computer." This was an intoxicating offer.

So she went home, turned on her Mac and tried to sign up for the online service, except when she typed in her phone number she got an error message which stated: ERROR 323. BUSINESS ACCOUNTS MUST USE NEW PREMIER SERVICE. HIT THIS LINK NOW!

She hit the link and it was dead. She called Plotnik. He tried to register too. The Premier Business Account Link does not work.

That was last night, when Plottie's tank was still full, not one of the 108 having been used up yet. This morning Plotnik, the Good Dad, decided to slog it out on the phone with the good folks at ATT.

Muzak.

The first guy said Sorry, you appear to have a Business Account. "Why do I have a Business Account? I didn't sign up for a Business Account." The answer was "I don't know. But I can't help you here. I will have to transfer you to the Business Office."

Muzak. Muzak.

The Business Office lady answered and said "Yes, my records show you have a Business Account. Why do you have a Business Account?" Plotnik said "I don't know. But if I can't use the internet help line service with a Business Account, I want to change back to a Regular Account."

"Well, that'll be easy to do Sir. Please allow me to transfer you to our national Business Office."

"Wait, you mean, you're the Business Department but you can't access my Business Account?"

"No, Sir. And Sir, would you be willing to participate in a brief Customer Serice Survey after..."

"NO!"

"All right. It has been a distinct pleasure to serve you this morning Sir. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"NO! NO!"

Plotnik waited for her to say "Would you like fries with that?" but instead she said: "Please hold on."

Muzak. MUZAK! M U Z A K!

Around this time Plotnik used up DISMAY (One) and probably DISGUST (Two).

Then the Muzak blared Twelve Thousand And One Strings Plays Steely Dan.

There went SWEARING (Three).

The National Business Office lady told Plotnik she had no idea why he would be a Business Account. She asked him why he was a Business Account?

He said he didn't know and didn't give a shit (Four) but if he couldn't access his account with the internet, being a Business Account, he didn't want to be a Business Account anymore, so could she please change him back to a regular account?

She said "Ah, Sir, that sounds easy."

"Yes, it does."

"...but it's not, Sir. Once you're a Business Account you're a Business Account. We really can't change you back, Sir."

Silence, Plotnik maintaining his composure, WITH DIFFICULTY, losing no points.

"Look," he said, sweet as sugar, "I am your customer. I end up paying you a hundred and fifty smackers every month for these three phone lines and I'm asking you to help me, to help your customer. Will you please just do whatever you have to do to allow me to access my account using the internet? OR just let me cancel the whole..."

"Hold on, Sir. Will you hold on, Sir?"

"YES! I'VE BEEN HOLDING ON! I'VE HELD ON THREE TIMES ALREADY! I KNOW HOW TO DO IT! I CAN HOLD ON WITH THE BEST OF THEM! I AM THE KOBE BRYANT OF HOLDING ON! I AM THE MAHATMA GANDHI OF..."

Muzak. Cusak. Screwsack.

(FURY: FIVE.)

"F**K!"

(Plotnik swore again. That's Number SIX. Shit.)

(Yikes! He said shit! Number SEVEN. Wait, he said it TWICE. Can you get penalized for saying the same word twice in a row or does it just count as one?)

(Goddam complicated Buddhists. EIGHT! Oi.)

Then he hit the wrong button on his cell phone and got disconnected.

It's been an hour and she hasn't called back yet. But eight is enough. Ommm. Grrrr. Ommm.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

So Long to the Hammer and the Twisty



Here we see three methods for opening a bottle of wine, each corresponding to a particular period in one's life.

The hammer: college. It has flaws, but you always get the bottle open.

The twisty gizmo: young adult. It works fine but isn't nearly as cool as this one:



The lobster claw! You never buy the lobster, you only get it when your cool cousins decide you need it. When Plotnik first saw it he thought: "Oh, right. Who will ever use this? My twisty gizmo works fine."

Then, last night, he decided to try it out, so opened up a Husch pinot with the lobster. Bonk, bip, bip: open. Boys, that's it for the hammer and the twisty. The lobster is here to stay.

Cousin Two Names and Cousin EG, thank you very much. We'll all use it in Lodi or Amador this summer.

Don't feel bad for the hammer: it still works fine on a Budweiser.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

So Long to the Cheery O's.



It's January 2, so we guess Christmas is over. The Great BZWZ is home in Providence, and the Greats PD, 5H and B-B are home in Brooklyn. But the high today in Providence is 21 and the high today in Brooklyn is 20. Plot just jogged down to the bagel store in a his new Plotzer sweat shirt. Plotnik and Ducknik have to be honest: they like it a lot more out here.

This was a Perfect Christmas with a Capital P. There were fewer people than in past years and everyone was delighted to be at World Headquarters taking part in all the silly Christmasy things. Ducknik even brought out the old stockings for the first time in at least five years.

There were lots and lots of fun presents given and received, but none nicer than the new Plotzer shirt, because it came with a serving of humble apology. But you'll have to get Ducknik to tell you about that one.



It was rewarding to see Grandma Joy and Paul Carroll together. No one was sure what to make of this whirlwind romance, or what seemed like one from the outside anyway, when GJ moved from her professorship in Wisconsin into Paul's life in Seattle. But now we know. Paul is a great guy who is happy to pitch in to become part of the family, and, though there seems to be no hope of making a Plotzer fan out of him, at least he doesn't like the Giants. Plot and Duck are already planning to head to the Northwest next summer to spend more time with these two.



The Great BZWZ spent New Year's Eve with Ben-Z's family in Connecticut. While we were watching alien prawns hovering above Johannesberg, they were probably playing Pass the Pig.

The streets were wet this morning so Plot walked instead of rode to the bagel shop. He ran into several neighbors, who wanted to talk about their children, and none in a flattering way -- it was all about what the kids or the parents didn't do this Christmas.

It made Plotnik feel funny -- here he was laughing to himself, thinking about Isabella hiding under the comforter on the bed, but never being able to hide all her hair...



...and realizing how lucky he and Ducknik and their children are to all live interesting lives but be willing and excited to share those lives with each other whenever possible.

There were so many great moments this year -- like Belly wrapped in a bubble at the absoultely delightful Bubble Man Show at the Marsh...




...and BZ and Lisa in the studio with ukelele and baglama...



...and the 40th Anniversary party of Bill and the Woman Who Does Not Seem To Be In This Picture But Actually Is If You Look Close Enough.



But nothing was more spectacular than the night before New Year's Eve that Plot and Duck spent with Isabella in the playground at Moscone Playground downtown. The moon was full and surrounded by a full moonbow of misty gorgeousness.



All the downtown skyscrapers were lit up, as well as the red-lit dome at MOMA.



PD and 5-H had gotten the day off and were up in Muir Woods on their way to Slanted Door for dinner, so Plot and Duck got the whole day with the Belly Bone. At first Belly was afraid of the big slides but soon she made friends with other little girls her age and then they were all holding hands and sliding down the slide together, then racing back up the embankment to do it again, again, again.




Plot called his Mom on the phone and described the scene to her, the lights and the buildings and the kids and the moon. Belly screamed "Hi Gwandma Wose" from the top of the slide. It's hard to put into words how filled up with happiness this hour or two made Plotnik feel.



(Sigh.) But now it's time to get back to work. Plot rang the New Year's Bell and made a resolution to try and keep himself from committing those 108 badnesses for as long as he can. All those things that other people do that make him sneer with frustration: he will try to not do them all himself first. He made great progress in music in 2009, he'll keep at it in 2010.

It's 2010. The Cheery O's are done with. We're all teenagers again. Hide the car keys, Dad, here we come.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Linguini with a Side of Revolution



New Year's Eve Dinner was Linguini with Clams, Mussels and Shrimp and Lemon, plus a delicious bottle of Il Gioiello white (55% viognier, 45% rousanne).



The sad part was The Great FiveHead wasn't feeling well and had to stay in bed during much of the evening. That meant much more food for PD, Ducknik, B-Bone and Plottie.



Afterwards, everyone watched a most non-New Years-like movie: "District Nine," which is a really gross, gory and fantastic movie about aliens invading Johannesberg. At midnight we went out on the deck to watch the fireworks above the Bay, and then came back to see more gore, guts and goo.

This morning, January 1, 2010, guess what appeared in the garden: the first Shmalifornia Poppy of the year! That has to be a good omen!




Then Che Guevarabella came over for breakfast. Duck made cornbread and Belly wore her bandolier.



Here we go, 2010. May all our revolutionaries look like this one.