The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beyond Arbeluc

The Great Plotniks are hitting the road this morning. Plot and Duck are all packed up, with the incredibly idiotically overpacked suitcases and carry-ons. What has Plotnik worn in the thirteen days they've been gone? Two pairs of shorts, a few t shirts and sandals. So what the HELL is in that humongorendous suitcase, plumped out to breaking its zippers?

What-EVUH, as all the Puerto Ricans say when they are speaking English, which they seem to slip in and out of continually in the same sentence. Plot wages Arbeluc Island is made up of 50% Brooklyn, 25% Bronx and 25% Queens. What-evuh.

Yesterday was the golden day of golden days, snorkeling over grasses with turtles feeding below and sting rays flitting in and about, and then heading to the bottom and covering themselves with sand so they were invisilbe except for the long tail and two ears sticking up. The coral is alive here and displays itself in all colors, which means fish of equal colors flitting around in and around it. This place is so beautiful that Plotnik doesn't want anybody to ever know about it but his friends and family. Yes sir, search engines, go search for Arbeluc.

The ferry to the mainland leaves at 1, should take an hour and a half, more or less. Then Plot and Duck have to get themselves in a taxi or bus all the way up to San Juan's Luis Munos Marin Airport to meet BZWZ's plane from Boston and Orlando. They'll spend tonight together in Old San Juan and then tomorrow pick up La Bellybone, El Pidi y La CincoCabeza in a rented car, then head for Luquillo.

Nothing on the mainland can ever match this island, but on the other hand everyone will be together and that's the priceless part.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Plotie Puts on Shoes

As poor NotThat's Kansas Jayhawks were getting bounced from the tournament again, and our sympathies are indeed with him, The Great Plotnik and Ducknik, along with Captain Cuervo (aka Cap'n Crow, but now we're in a Spanish speaking country and "cuervo" means "crow" so that's that) and Helmsman Finch, sat in the cabin of Alliance, talking little, saying much. This business of slowing down to an absolute standstill, watching other boats and their goings-on or imagined goings-on, looking carefully with binoculars, commenting occasionally, or not at all, while the stars start twinkling and the only thing on the horizon is dinner at Susie's on the canal, is an easy life to get used to.

Alliance actually moved today, for the first time in five days, to get closer to town, so the dinghy ride to and from the restaurant later at night would be easier and less choppy. Plottie feels like he hasn't moved in five days either, except to snorkel around the reefs and play his wonderful little Chinese guitar, explore the mangroves, watch herons and pelicans and egrets and the occasional jumping ray.

Dinner at Susie's was actually not all that spectacular, but getting there and back was. Plotnik decided to dress for dinner, which meant putting on shoes for the first time in ten days (though he didn't have to change out of his shorts). They got into the dinghy (which is a rubber raft with a motor tied to the rear of the boat that you use to go to shore from the big boat which remains at anchor) in the darkness (dinner was scheduled for eight pm, second seating), so Captain Cuervo had to veer and steer through the other sail and power boats, all trailing smaller dinghies behind them on tether ropes, all of them invisible to Plotnik until they were being dodged and left behind. Cuervo turned to head through the canal. On the banks of the canal, past the drawbridge, is Susie's, a restaurant with gourmet promise, run by an ex-Four Star chef from San Juan, and her place has room to tie up your dinghies outside, like a horse tied to a railing in the old days, as long as you can manage to hoist yourself out of the boat and onto a dock, only a hundred feet or so from the reserved outside table.

The boat ride, under the Big Dipper, was spectacular. Dinner was good, service not so hot. The bar was next to the table, and seated at the bar were two young couples. One of the two women couldn't stop talking, which consisted of swearing and complaining in that order. I mean -- what in the world do you have to complain about? A semitropical island surrounded by blue green water on a gorgeous, warm evening where they're bringing you food and drinks and you're young and pretty and don't you see the world is your f-ing oyster?

The ride back home was even prettier. Plotnik asks himself how does he manage to live all year without being on the water, which he loves so much, instead opting to sit in his little cave in the fog where he does "Stuff," which could also be desciribed as "nothing, disguised as something," which is in sharp contrast to doing "nothing, which really is nothing?"

Well, you see lots of people on these islands who are doing nothing, mostly shaggy ex-hippie types with hair caked in salt, motoring their boat with their dog in the front, heading from Cape Nothing over to Nothing Bay. Maybe they're sitting at the bar. They have a tattoo on one arm that says "Nada" and another one on the other arm that says "See Other Arm For Tomorrow's Plan." That doesn't look like very much fun either.

So you move In and out, one world to the other, get the best out of each one you're privileged to. Right? But it's what you do with the rest of the time that matters.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Warm Water and Mofongo

Friday Night, beginning of Easter Week on Culebra. Kids are clogging the ferry over from the mainland, and they've turned up the speakers on the avenue. Puerto Rican Coast Guard helicopters buzz overhead from time to time and we can see it's going to probably be a loud weekend. But not out here, where we haven't moved for a few days and probably won't move at all. The bay is so pretty, especially at sundown or sunset, and though the dinghy ride into town is a little longer than a closer-in anchorage would make it, it's still really nice to tie up the dinghy and have lunch at The Dinghy Dock. Yesterday we had mofongo -- corn meal and plantain mixed together into a batter and then put in molds and deep fried 'til crunchy, then filled with shrimp or pork or octopus in a creole tomato, onion, pepper sauce. Yum-0.

Everything is better in Puerto Rico, probably because just about everybody you talk to has spent time in New York and their English sounds like they grew up in Queens. They all think Plotnik is a Mexican and that's fine with him. He can't hear his own accent -- probably nobody ever can.

Every afternoon right before sundown, and every morning right after sunrise, two men and a pet goat get out of their motorboat and walk on the reef with large white sacks, collecting something they're finding out there after the tide has come in and covered the reef, then receded and left maybe conchs? Clams? They look like big rocks that they put in their sacks. The goat looks like a dog and it's on a leash, but it bleats like a baby goat. Can't figure out that one.

In the afternoon Plottie jumps off the back of the boat with his mask and flippers on and swims towards the reef -- you see starfish and turtles and today a large ray jumped out of the water right next to the boat. The water is so warm and it feels so good to be swimming through it on the way out or on the way back. Plot's got his little guitar with him and it's a godsend as he transitions from a blogger forgetting he's on vacation to a human being capable of actually doing stuff without stopping to write about it. Until his 15 minutes a day, like now.

He hears it's cold back home. Hope there has been a little rain for his tomato plants. But that's far from here, ain't it?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adding Organic Matter to the Sea

Coming across open ocean from St. Thomas to Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, Plotnik puked his guts out. He didn't want to do it, and he kept it from happening for a few hours, but in the end --- swploosh. Nasty. But afterwards, once they'd arrived in calmer water, he felt fine. They went ashore on beautiful little Culebrita Island, which looked like the South Seas of your dreams, and snorkeled around a reef in bathtub water. That was when the boat got invaded by bees and it turns out Helmsman Finch is allergic to bees. So off we went again and are now safely anchored in Ensenada Dikiti, a harbor behind a reef on Culebra.

All that stuff makes it sound like a bad day but it was really a beautiful one. Puking is no fun but it's way better than the hour before. THe casualty is Plotnik's sense of Sea Legs. He thought he had 'em,. maybe he does, but not today.

It'll be an early night for sure. News from friends back home could be better.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The A/E Continuum

The Powerbook has died. Long live the Powerbook!

It's weird and not all that pleasant to be practically off the electronic tether, waiting for my ten minutes at Cap'n Crow's IPAD. I keep seeing things to write about, talk about, blog about, but there's no way to do it. All the music and work I put on the Powerbook to pass the hours. no go. It's no fun to think about The Great Attachment but there's no way to deny it.

In a cove called Lindbergh, almost under the Charlotte Amalie airport.. From the water, those planes sound extra loud but there aren't too many of them. This is the closet takeoff spot for the 20 mile sail to Culebra tomorrow, which is in Puerto Rico if you're Puerto Rican, or the Spanish Virgins if you're not. It should take us most of the day and it'll be nice to be under sail again. Hope to have just enough but not too much wind.

We saw cruise ships in the harbor today the size of third world countries. Like a lady we met said, "I'd rather have my eyes rasped out with a rusty spoon than go on one of those." Plotnik thought she said "ass" instead of "eyes" but Ducknik said the lady was from Charlotte so "eyes" sounds like "ass."

Plotnik agrees. It's hard to imagine anything more out of place and grosser than the Carnival Spirit or the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas. Make it two rusty spoons and use it anywhere you like, just keep those ugly puppies far away from The Great Plottie.

This is America, friends. Every once in awhile you see a black person. Must be why it's so filled with tour boats, charter boats, cruise ships and Scrapers of the Ass/Eye Continuum. Where in the world are all the people who live here?

Are we REALLY bombing LIbya? Honest Injun?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday in Lamshur Bay

A beautiful day of snorkeling followed by a full moon and a zillion stars, followed by a surprise cloudburst in the middle of the night and Plotnik suspects it was he who didn't close the hatches or windows quite tightly enough so this morning things were pretty wet -- wallets, camera cases, floors. But it's OK. There are 5 or 6 boats in tiny Lamshur Bay, very quiet last night as opposed to the previous night in Coral Bay where the noise from the Coral Bay Blues Festival brought BB King songs out to the boat until 11pm or so.

Today we stay here and tomorrow head for Charlotte Amalie and then across to Culebra, Puerto Rico.

Plot had the first night Queasies, but it's blowing pretty hard now and he feels fine. Love not hearing any news about anything. Can't unload pictures yet.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hi From Coral Bay

It's very hard to type on an IPad. But it's good Captain Crow has one now because3 TGP forgot his Powerbook power cable. Also there is no wireless service here but there is ATT for the IPAD. Right now in Coral Bay on the East Coast of St. John. We'll head off West tomorrow on a route3 that will eventually get us to Culebra,. an island off Puerto Rico. Can't post often or in detail but the camera is working. A lot more crowded up here than in the S. Caribbean. Can't stay belowdecks too long, seasickness is waiting. More as soon as possible.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Free as a Breeze

When Plotnik finally closes the suitcase it all seems so simple, but getting there is always a giant pain. Without Ducknik, he'd be lost.

The Great Plotnik, who once considered himself free as the southern breeze, now can't go anywhere without a computer plus headphones plus cables plus flash drive plus camera plus battery charger plus cell phone plus charger plus guitar-when-possible. And a portable pharmacy. And plenty of clothing -- it might snow!

All this to go on a 4-person sailboat and then spend a little time on the beach.

Yes, it's pathetic. Yes, it is. But here we are. Ready to go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hi Penelope

There is good news and then there is great news. This is great news: the birth of Penelope Broughton, first child of Chris and Genicia Broughton, two of our favorite people. Chris went to school with The Great PD and has been through some hard knocks, as well as around the world and back again. Until recently he was working in the White House -- remember the photos of various Plotniks and Chris bowling in the Truman Bowling Alley?

It's so nice to see these chubbiest of Broughton cheeks staring back at us from the photo. All the best to you three and love from all of us back home in Shmalifornia.


Incidentally, this morning Plottie took the J-Church to Powell Street to have his teeth cleaned at 450 Suffer. On the way up Powell he passed a line of people that went all the way up to O'Farrell. Plot couldn't remember where there was a nearby soup kitchen, and anyway these people were dressed too well. Concert tickets? At 8:45am?

At O'Farrell the line turned right and continued towards Stockton Street as far as the eye could see. You've probably already figured this out -- the line turned right on Stockton, headed back to Market and in the front door of the Apple Store. A guy in an Apple t-shirt walked by shouting "People! People! We are sold out of I-Pads! Do NOT wait in line if you don't have a claim check! People!"

Nobody budged -- everyone must have had a claim check. They could have come back later, tomorrow or the next day, but picking up their I-Pad at the precise first opportunity was more important to them than waiting in line for hours.

They could have been home, making more new chubby cheekied babies, but no. They'd rather stand in a line. Wow. Steve Jobs is off the genius charts, isn't he?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The Great BZWZ now has a new name: Doctoral Candidate Great BZWZ. DCBZWZ? On Friday afternoon she took her oral exams (also known as 'the firing squad') at Brown and passed with flying colors. (Actually, we neither know, nor care, about the 'flying colors,' but we would be surprised at any other result.)

So now she is officially on the team, after two and a half years of preparation. "Now I can just be a scientist," she says, which is hard enough but probably less worrisome. Normally she would expect her continuing research to take around the same amount of time from here, but you never know.

In the meantime, she has expressed a desire for "drinks with little pink umbrellas" and lots of time to lie face down in the sand. Puerto Rico is coming up in a few weeks and we'll attempt to give the lady what she wants.

All the ladies -- 5H, BB and TGD will be there too. And The Great PD. And even Plottie.


By the way, Cousin Seattle, Miss Earthquake Tectonics -- you must be REALLY busy these days...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Give Me a Effing Break, A-Ho. Poop!

Amble over to SF Theater Blog to see the phenomenon of Superfandom. Plotnik has never before received more disagreements over one of his reviews. You can read the review but the far more interesting part is the commentary from people across the country.

What could be happening here?

1) "Shlock of Shmages" (not its real name) has a PR department mobilized to refute every negative review. They wear their hair in huge perms and sit in their cubicles waving around those stupid free lighters.

2) There actually are people in the world who are, as Steve Winn says in this morning's Chron, caught up in a time warp. Anybody not there with them just doesn't get it.

3) Is the SF road company spectacularly worse than any of the other touring companies? Certainly the two leads were as lame as a three legged horse, and yet the lead male, in particular, appears to be beloved by his faithful legions.

4) Maybe Plotnik and Ducknik ambled into the wrong theater -- could they have seen Pinter's "The Homecoming" which is next door? Pinter is really depressing, true, but maybe they decided to use '80s rock and roll to punch it up for modern audiences already half zonked by Prozac and American Idol?

5) The woman who has seen it ten times -- what can you say? Plottie loves getting reader's comments and at least she didn't call him an asshole.

6) No one has called him an asshole. Yet. It may be the bad language filter on the budget browser they're using over at the insane asylum.

6a) ...but come to think of it, in the show they say 'effing' and 'poop.' 'Asshole' would probably be 'a-ho." Refer to (1.)

7) There's the gay factor too -- the really irritating narrator seemed to be switching sexual identity with every monologue. Now he's Jack Black. Now he's the Village People. The SF audience roared at all quasi-gay jokes and references, and there were many, perhaps more here than in Indianapolis?

8) Maybe Plottie IS an a-ho.

9) He's pretty sure all his writers are women. Why does he think so? For one thing, they're literate. But read the comments and tell him if you agree. So, is "Rock of Ages" another "The Vagina Monologues" or "Shopping, The Musical?" Do these women purposely ignore the bad acting, awful hair and mediocre singing in the same way they would ignore the obvious red lights when falling for Mr. Bad? Is getting bonked in a stall in the men's room by superstar Tracy Jaxx what we are aspiring to here?

Ane yet, that's what the heroine does, before joining a whore house (run by, we think, Tina Turner). (Well, wouldn't you? After all, she is in severe depression after being let go from her job as a barmaid and discovering Tracy Jaxx doesn't cherish her skanky ass.)

And we're supposed to feel her pain. Well, it's true. Have YOU ever gotten laid in a stall in the men's room? It's not the Ritz. Pain, or at least discomfort, would be involved.

9-a) Apropos of nothing, have you ever noticed that "Palin' is just 'pain' with an 'l?'

10) So who's the a-ho now? Hahh?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sarunas and Kim Chee's

Plotnik's family always accuses him of liking small, offbeat things, instead of blockbusters. They've got a point. "Did you take Mom out to dinner? Did you take her to that Lithuanian-Korean place with the slimy shit on the plate?" they ask.

Why no, the last ten times we went out to eat we went to Cafe Cordiale, Cafe Cordiale, Cafe Cordiale, Cafe Cordiale, Stanley's, Stanley's, Stanley's, Stanley's, Stanley's and, well, Sarunas and Kim Chee's One Stop Slimy Shitty Food Shop, but only that once.

They're right. Plotnik hates almost everything trendy. Vertical food with mustaches on top. Organic free range baby strollers. Movies about nothing like "Inception."

And plays with twenty producers, including Amar'e Stoudamire and a lot of people named Habib, that are nothing but bald-faced attempts to grab your money from your pocket and make you need that $40 t-shirt made for two rupees with the workers chained to a fence post in Bangladesh because you also bought the execrably bad CD with all the songs from the show featuring singers who finished 12th on American Idol so now you need that t-shirt to cover your face while you barf up your pre-curtain faux crab appetizer.

You know, THAT kind of show.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Thief of Time

You don't get to keep all your stuff. Sometimes it disappears all at once in the middle of the night and sometimes it just dribbles away, a little bit at a time, so you don't even know anything is missing. But people who don't see you every day notice how things have changed since the last time they were home.

Plotnik didn't write too much while he was in Stiletto this past weekend. He got in a lot of productive work with David and Kathy, the new singing voice of Angel in the Perfect Pitch...

...but his hours with Mummy P. were both fun and terribly discouraging. The Thief of Time, who is always a visitor in everybody's house, seems these days to be concentrating his efforts to take away the few niceties Mummy P. has left.

It's not all the time -- in the morning she is the same happy, friendly person she has always been but after a few cigarettes she takes to her sofa and doesn't seem to be interested in doing much of anything. You can't blame it all on smoking, but there is a cloud in Mummy P.'s house these days and the newest casualty is her reason.

She becomes overly concerned and fearful over the tiniest change in her routine. This weekend it was her file cabinets, which had become so packed they needed to be thinned out. Plotnik should have just done it and said nothing.

But Plottie still hasn't learned to treat his Mom like a child. So he asked her about it first, to let her know he was only going to remove a lot of old stuff, that didn't need to be there in the first place, from the active file and put it in another file box in the closet, leaving more space for new stuff.

This threw her into a tizzy. She accused Plotnik of wanting to throw her whole life away. He didn't care about her, he was doing things without consulting her, he didn't understand what meant a lot to her, and what didn't, so how could he know what to keep and what to throw away?

"Mom, I"m not throwing anything away. It's all still right here. I'm just making room so we can..."

"Why didn't you ask me first before you threw away my things?"

"I haven't thrown away anything..."

"What if I want to find something and now I don't know where you've put it?"

Plotnik did NOT say "Mom -- you're blind. You haven't been into those file cabinets in years. You couldn't find anything in the garbage-y mess you've got in there now if you could see, which you can't."

Plotnik did NOT say: "Mom, do you really think you'll be looking for receipts from CVS Pharmacy from 1997?"

Ducknik would try to calm her down: "Honey, he's not throwing anything away. He's just trying to..."

"Why doesn't anyone ask ME first?"

Which is, of course, the crux of the problem. You talk to her and she forgets. Then the thing you talked about happens and she thinks she has not been consulted. Mummy P. is a strong woman who has been in charge of her own things for a long time and it grinds her to feel she has been taken out of the loop.

It's not true. It's that goddam Thief of Time. He's got a lot of her memory now, but he's left all the anger about it.

And what do you do when he takes it all? When he's got everything he needed stuffed in his little fat backpack, and all you've got left is memories fighting through a cloud of smoke?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Monday in The Stiletto

The Great Plotnik apologizes for not having posted anything this past weekend. He is still in Stiletto City with the Duck, spending time with Mummy P. Yesterday broke the existing record for -- well, let's just say Grandma and one of the Seven Dwarves both start with G and it is probably not an accident. What a day oi yoi yoi.

Plottie is working on The Perfect Pitch today and tomorrow and will be home tomorrow night, while TGD is heading home later this morning.

Oooops -- now there's water running off the roof. From where? Time to get a ladder.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

It's a Lot Safer in Milpitas

Unless you crave tragedy and can't wait to see another story about man's hopeless slog through endless hell on Earth, don't go see the play Plotnik will not name at the unidentified theater across one of the bodies of water we will not mention, which may or may not be spanned by either a bridge or a death boat which will dump your sorry body into the drink as soon as the soldiers have had their way with you for months while you were tied to a tree.

Don't say we didn't warn you.

You can read the review of the unmentioned work in the normal place.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

It's Saint David's Day

Today is St. David's Day. St. David is the patron saint of Wales, though since they don't have many Catholics there we're not sure how they get a patron saint. Still, St. David it is, and thanks to family Welshographer JJ-aka-PP for pointing this out to us.

We do know that the daffodil is the official flower of Wales, and a country filled with these lovely beauties must be a sight to see.

Hearty congratulations as well to people with Welsh names, like, say, Bronwen.

(Thanks to Dr. Ppllttnykk at the Welsh Protective Daffyddll Society of Great Plotnik World Headquarters for these photos.)