The Great Plotnik

Saturday, April 30, 2011

It Will All Come Down to Religion and Gas

All the happenings in the Muslim world, called "The Arab Spring" by Western periodicals, will most likely come back to religion before too long. Someone will remember that the US is the infidelest of all the infidels, and then a new regional strongman or two will gather the newly liberated together with the newly unliberated, and unite them in their hatred of anything that isn't Muslim.

This isn't to say anything good or bad about Islam, just that it's going to happen. The annoying thing is we wouldn't have to worry one hangnail about it if we just had the courage to put ourselves on a course to rid ourselves of our dependence on oil. That's all we'd have to do -- and the Sheikhs and Emirs and Ayatollahs could have the place to themselves, sell their oil to the French and Germans and we could be done with them all.

Blackmail us? How are you gonna do that, Sheikh? Keep your oil. Got extra? Use it on your hair.

Like Economist Ducknik has pointed out, every time the Chinese buy a VW or a Ford, they have to fill it up with gas. Everytime the Indians buy a Honda or one of their own Indian cars, they have to grease it with oil. There are a billion people out there who all want cars. What can possibly happen in the future to the price of gasoline? And as that price goes up and up and up, who gets richer and who gets poorer? Where do our people get the money to pay for it?

Look down the road ten years and do you see seven dollar gas? Nine dollar gas? An economy in tatters as we produce less and less, and we are supposed to pay that kind of money to keep our two hour commutes possible?

So don't tell The Great Plotnik we can't afford to suck it up now to give ourselves independence later. An article in the Bird Wrap this morning says Chevron made a $6.2 BILLION profit the first QUARTER of this year. Selling gas. And how much of that money went into paying for congressional and senatorial and presidential campaign contributions?

How long can we stand for this kind of thing? The Coasters said it 50 years ago:

Wake me!
Shake me!
Don't let me sleep too late!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Big Nate's is Still Cookin'

Big Nate's BBQ used to be one of the best in Saint Plotniko, but then Nate sold out to these new guys, and the black people behind the counter turned into Latinos, and the smell of the smoker, that used to perfume the whole neighborhood, disappeared. It doesn't seem to be gentrifying much down near the 101 overpass, and you still see the photos of Nate Thurmond on the wall along with Warrior paraphernalia from the past, but the parking lot is empty.

So it's a surprise that the food is still wonderful. Plot and Duck had bought a groupon that was expiring last night, so after the Shmlaker game they drove down and picked up ribs, pulled pork and hot links, plus cole slaw and baked beans, and drove back home to eat. The sauce and the meat might even be better than it used to be, and the attitude of the people behind the counter is infinitely nicer than in the old days.

Plotnik doesn't know the name of the school that counter men at Katz's and bbq servers in rib joints must have to attend before they're allowed to cash their first paycheck. It might be Rude State or the University of The Customer is Always Wrong.

The ladies at the post office were once required to take annual seminars at UCIAW, but now they are much nicer, probably because nobody goes into a post office any more. When was the last time you saw a line at the post office? When was the last time you got any mail that you didn't immediately toss in the garbage? Now that their jobs are on the line, those previously grumpier-than-thou ladies have lost their attitudes. It turns out they have teeth, and the corners of their mouths actually turn up.

And the tattooed bone-in-their-nosers who work at Rainbow Market -- they will now pause in their sneering at your pathetic loser lack of piercings to help you find the organic kamut flakes. Cutbacks must be looming at Rainbow too.

Plotnik hasn't been to the DMV for awhile so he's not sure about them.

They were very nice at Nate's and the whole meal cost Plottie $6 bucks (of course he'd paid for the Groupon earlier, but that was then. It doesn't count anymore). Terrific ribs. Great beans. Nice people. And a victory over the Chrispaulians, who finally went away, fighting to the last bite.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What An Evening

I doubt any of you who don't have season tickets to the Magic Theatre will run out to see Taylor Mac's "The Lily's Revenge," but it is unlike any other theater experience you're likely to have. It's a little like Teatro Zinzani, in that there is a show going on while you eat your box lunch, and a little like Hair, in that people get naked and simulate sex both on stage and in the lobby (there's The Gluteous Theater -- two men exposing their rear ends as a curtain opens and closes -- and then there's the massages offered to audience members by cast members using huge, black dildos for backrubs).

But it's not in bad taste. HA HA HA HA HA you say? Well, it isn't. It's all in fun, somehow, and the costumes are spectacular and the cast stupendous.

It's also almost FIVE hours long with THREE intermissions and that's around an hour and a half and at least one intermission too many.

The show is fun, the intermissions interminable.

Plotnik asks himself, once again, why it's so often flamboyant gay writers who bring new life to the theater?

You can read the San Francisco Theater Blog Review of "The Lily's Revenge" here. It took Plotnik longer to write than any other he has ever written, including reading the entire provided script.

Here's some novelty: the songs they 'flushed' from the play are performed live in both the men's and women's bathrooms at intermissions.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Three Cheers for Miss Savannah Phillips! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

All this talk about Prince William of Wales, brother of Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales, both of them sons of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, son of HRM Queen Elizabeth Second.

If the Queen doesn't die, Charles doesn't get to be King. As long as Charles stays alive, William doesn't get to be King. If William and Kate have sons, poor old Prince Harry gets shoved down the ladder even further.

But that's nothing. How would you like to be The Duke of York, Charles's brother, William's Uncle? Or The Earl of Wessex, Charles's other brother? Or Anne, The Princess Royal, whose mom is Queen but she is currently no better than tenth on the list?

Hah! Tenth! CNN doesn't send Anderson Cooper and Pears Melba to cover tenth place. Even Dr. Sanjay Gupta wouldn't sink that far down the pecking order.

But that's not all. How about

11. Mr. Peter Phillips (b. 1977), son of The Princess Royal
12. Miss Savannah Phillips [2](b. 2010), daughter of Peter Phillips

(And what is that [2] about?)

No matter. The Great Plotnik, realizing that press coverage is hard to come by, is at this moment offering Three Hearty Cheers for Miss Savannah Phillips, age 1, currently twelfth on the list for succession of the British Throne, until William and Kate get at it and knock her down even more. No news agency will pay attention to poor Savannah, who is, after all, named after a city in Georgia.

But we will! (Everyone together now!)

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh, Phoebe

A beautiful voice from Plotnik's Big Zapple days has died and this one hurts. Phoebe Snow was 58, had dropped out of the music scene to raise her disabled daughter and never really came back. But Phoebe had one of those unforgettable voices, didn't she?

You could not confuse her with anyone else. Plotnik always thought she sounded like Billie Holiday would have if Billie had been a Jewish kid from Teaneck, New Jersey -- with that rare sadness that thickens each note. With Phoebe Snow there was never a throwaway line, no phrase that only served to get her someplace else. Every note counted. You don't teach that. It's a gift.

Here's a U-Tube link of the song "Harpo's Blues" that was the flip side of "Poetry Man."

Does 'flip side' mean anything to anybody? Do you remember that there used to be single 45rpm records released, that you played on your record player, and that these records had two sides, and even if the radio only played "Poetry Man," and it became a hit, if you bought the single you really got two songs to listen to -- the hit and the other one, the one nobody knew except the people who bought the record.

And if you were the songwriter, children, you got paid just as much for the song nobody heard as for the one everybody hummed in the shower. As a result, the flip side was often written by the performer's sister or cousin or someone the producer owed a favor to.

Not here. Phoebe wrote everything. Here's Poetry Man.

Talk to me tonight
You don't have to go
You're the Poetry Man
You make everything all right

When Plotnik dreams of the singer he would like to be some day, when he grows up, in that next life where we get to pick and choose, he has always thought he'd like to be Wilson Pickett or Teddy Pendergrass or maybe Aretha Franklin or Sam Cooke -- someone who could shout it down as well as lift it up. But a voice like Phoebe Snow's would be fine, you know? To have a way to touch people where they live, not with the intellect that songwriters must use, but into the true heart where singers get to play around -- that'd be nice.

She was 'way too young, if you ask me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kick Ass Makes a Believer Out of the Movie Grumpus

The Great Plotnik is thinking things over today, after violating all his movie-enjoyment principles last night, at least as defined by his kids. But, in Plottie's defense -- has anyone seen "Kick Ass?"

You have to get through the first ten or fifteen minutes, when you're thinking this is really gonna be a cliche-infested piecea gabbage. But then -- listen to Plotnik now -- NICK CAGE saves the day!

That's him at the opening last year, with Absolute SuperHero Suprema Hit Girl a.k.a. Chloe Moretz -- she's wearing the purple wig in the picture in the middle. It's the story of a high school kid (Aaron Johnson) who decides he wants to be a Superhero, but sadly is lacking super powers. He then somehow runs into Cage and Moretz, a.k.a. Big Daddy and Hit Girl, who are the real thing. Plot will not tell you what happens, but it's a fantastic mix of movie and video game, good versus evil. Baddies get killed nonstop -- in a video game kind of way. It's violent, but not really, and the understory is a simple and endearing one.

Kind of like Little Miss Sunshine with bazookas. And Nick Cage climbs out of the absolute cellar, where he has languished at Homeland Security Red Level for a decade, and vaults over Morgan Freeman and Robin Williams onto the bottom of the Orange level. Plottie would seriously consider seeing another movie with Cage in it now, though he'd rather watch reruns of Raising Arizona or Moonstruck.


Don't listen to him. It's a fabulous film and if you let yourself settle into the good guys taking on the bad guys you are going to love it. And you may as well, because the ending has sequel sequel sequel written all over it.

And here's the proof: if you read reviews, you discover that Kick Ass was originally a comic book. The hard core gamers and comic bookers all were sure they'd despise the movie, especially when they heard Nicholas Cage was in it, but after seeing the movie every one of them says, reluctantly, "well, I gotta admitt its the bomb tru to the comix dude love it." And The Grate Plottnick agreez. Rent it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

5764: The Year of the Horseradish Vodka

(Here is a Passover Story, which was sent to Great Plotnik World Headquarters by Douglas A. Konecky, who writes one of these every year. You may remember that in last year's episode, "5763: Three and a Half Jews," Konecky was whining about how the youngest person at their Passover Table was 52 years old so the matzo had to be hidden in plain sight. A year has passed.)

5764: The Year of the Horseradish Vodka

We didn’t rent a six year old. Sarah was the youngest again, but she and Sam got caught in a traffic jam on the Bay Bridge, so by the time they got to the seder the leader had knocked back several horseradish vodkas.

A few years ago Barb and I hung out with Dan and Staci in a Polish bar on 2nd St. and 2nd Avenue in the East Village. They brought us vodka laced with horseradish root and it was so good we swore we’d do it ourselves some day.

So last week I peeled several pieces of horseradish root, cut them up and put them in a measuring cup with a quart of vodka. The question was for how long? We tried two days. The correct answer was ten minutes.

That pure two day horseradish vodka elixir could have fueled the rocket for a Jewish space launch and it desperately needed to be diluted. We tried several different blends, until we came to the one where only one eyebrow was on fire, and that was 3 to 1 straight vodka to vodka elixir. We settled on that one, poured it back into the blue Skyy Vodka bottle and offered some to everyone as soon as they walked in the door to the seder.

But the thing is, strong as it was, it got better the more you drank. So by the time the seder actually started, I was having far too much fun for a Jewish event.


Passover is always fun. For one thing, every Jew or Jew Lite, Sephardi or Ashkenazi, in the largest city in America or the tiniest village in Baluchistan, celebrates on this same night and tells the same story. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of this tradition. It has nothing to do with religion, or it has everything to with religion, that’s up to you but is never the important part. The important part is you do it and your Uncle Irving does it and your Cousin Doris does it and they don’t ever agree about anything, except this.

There are lots of other Jewish holidays, but they are minor league. Hanukkah comes close, but everybody knows it’s a holiday of convenience, like Kwaanza. Kwaanza was made up by African Americans to give them an ethnocentric holiday to compete with Christmas, just as Hanukkah was invented by American Jewish merchants to compete with Christians for holiday sales. There is nothing historical about Hanukkah (though several FINE Hanukkah songs have been written about it.)

Hanukkah should be called JESUS: NOT.

Outside of Passover and Hanukkah, there really aren’t any other mainstream Jewish holidays. You have to be fairly religious, or be sending your kid to the Jewish Community Center (where they tend to celebrate EVERY Jewish holiday, even the Class D-Great Lakes League previously invisible ones, like Jewish Parking Meter Day) to know anything at all about them. Of these, three are the most popular: Purim, Succot and That Other Holiday Whose Name I Can Never Remember.

Purim is fun. Kids dress up in costumes, the food is good and everybody drinks a lot. Purim comes up earlier in the spring than Passover. It’s not Pharoah this time, it’s King Nebuchadnezzar and his evil counselor Haman, and not Egypt but Babylonia, and the hero is Queen Esther, not Moses, but once again the Jews escape from evil oppression and later commemorate with the help of a yummy little foodstuff.

At Purim we eat Hamantaschen, savory, yeasty pastries in the shape of the evil Haman’s tri-cornered hat. Hamantaschen are filled with apricot jam or poppy seed paste or sometimes even chocolate. They are ‘way better than Passover fake cake made out of matzo meal.

It has been written somewhere that Hasidic Jews are required to drink themselves silly on Purim, because God said so, or one of their rabbis says God said so. It’s never a pretty sight – young, gangly Yeshivah boys and ancient white bearded black-hatted rabbis, kind of mosh-pitting on a dance floor and jumping up and down in their heavy black shoes, prayer shawls slapping themselves silly, pale faces red under those medieval whiskers, as they knock back schnapps after schnapps and try to calculate how much fun they are having. The Jew Lite on the bandstand is always terrified one of them will grab the microphone and try to sing "My Way."

Succot has to do with harvest. You build these little huts out of reeds and you stand inside them, eating nothing all that memorable and waiting for somebody’s child to finish some poem so you can go home.

The Other Holiday Whose Name I Can Never Remember is about as much fun as Succot.


As our seder started I wasn’t tipsy, but I wasn’t summer-morning mountain fresh either, and it was getting late and the food was ready to eat. My Stepdad, the Chief, could do a seder in less time than anyone else, but Barb says I broke his record this year. We did the Four Questions, and all ten plagues, in fact we did them twice, once in English and once in Hebrew, because they are my favorite part, and then somebody mentioned we hadn’t sung Dayenu yet, but too bad, it was time for soup. I must have skipped a lot of pages. That horseradish vodka is something else.

Once again, Sarah’s matzoballs were transcendental and French, if you can imagine the French actually eating Jewish food instead of turning Jews in to the Gestapo. OK, bad form. Let’s just say the French didn’t show any more compassion than anybody else did in those days but it could have been nothing more than profound wine snobbery. The French revere their cabernets, their carrignans, their Bourdeauxs and their sauternes. They would not know what to do with Manischewitz Concord Grape.

Sarah was the youngest last year, and the same people came this year, so she was still the youngest. She had no problem finding the hidden affikomen, or the middle matzo from the ceremonial stack of three, removed and placed in a napkin and hidden by Barbara in a place where an aging child with weakening eyesight would have no trouble locating it.

But you really need a kid to do this right. Sarah’s heart is in the right place, but she knows where Barb has hidden the matzo, because Barb says “Sarah, look on the pool table.” It’s this gentile sisterhood thing, I think. So Sarah stands up, walks obediently to the pool table, retrieves the matzo and brings it back.

She hasn’t been to enough seders and she hasn’t watched enough Larry David. Kids go crazy when searching for the affikomen. They are like drunk yeshivah boys on Purim. And when they find it they want CASH.

When Sarah returned with the affikomen to the head of the table it just so happens that I was unable to find the bright shiny Susan B. Anthony dollar coin I had put away for her. I had placed it on top of the dinner table, but it wasn’t there. So she got stiffed.

Any Jewish kid under ten who is worth his salt would have been outraged! “What!? What??” he’d have said. “Where’s my freaking five bucks!”

“Watch your language, Jacob,” the child’s father would say, but he’d be furious too. Not paying for finding the affikomen is like the eleventh plague. (I’m thinking we’ll add that one in next year.)

And maybe I'll add another answer to the First Question too. Why is this night different than all other nights? Because we get to do this, that's why. Because the Jews, long before they were even called Jews, escaped from Egypt, because they got across the water and because somebody thought to write it all down. And here we are, 3,300 years later, still talking about it.

In the course of writing this story I have discovered two things. One, brisket sounds like briss. But it still tastes great.

Two, the last four letters of Ashkenazi are, to say the least, ironic.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Anti Grumpy Device

Do NOT go to this page if you hate cats or if you want to stay grumpy. Also, if you don't have some time to waste, this is not a good idea.

And then especially DON'T watch the one called "Lunch Break." Curse The Great Dance-Nik for turning Plotnik onto this silly time waster that makes you smile no matter what.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Global Hexing

NotThat Lucas knew better; still, he sent an email before yesterday's Giants Rockies game that the Giants were going for a sweep! He KNOWS better!

The Giants got killed. Of COURSE!

Plotnik did the same thing last Sunday. Before the Shmlakers first playoff game, he posts a PHOTO of KOBE BRYANT! Dumb! Dumb! Dumbest! Of COURSE the Shmlakers got smashed!

You can't beat the hex. Every sports fan knows it. Global Hexing is increasing in the world and we have to cut back on our blowhard emissions. When will we ever learn?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seeking a New Name

After quite a few years where it meant 'cool and hip alternate reporter,' the term 'blogger' is now synonymous with 'frivolous mouth' and 'irresponsible journalism.' The Great Plotnik has no problem with either of those definitions for himself, but he thinks he's got to come up with a new name for San Francisco Theater Blog. Preferably a replacement for the word 'blog,' to give it more weight, but maybe a completely new name. It has to have something to do with theater.

You are all creative folks, fellow Plotnikkies. Please comment with any ideas?

And if you've never been over there, here's the link:

On Opening Nights, theaters are filled with reviewers, actors not currently in a show, critics, friends of the producer and a few subscribers, but mostly people who paid nothing for their tickets. Invariably, someone sitting next to Plottie sees him with his press kit on his lap and note-taking apparatus, and at the intermission asks him: "So who do you write for?"

Plotnik hands them a business card and shmoozes a bit about the show. But he would like to answer with a name that does not include the word 'blog.'

Of course, the obvious names are already taken, so...c'mon Plotnikkies, one, two, three, go!

PS -- you know what else? Plot might have to get himself one of those hats to go with the new name. Great PD, we'll talk.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Story Gets Told and Never Gets Old

The best thing about Ms. Mush's photo from last night's seder is the Katz's Deli hat that Farmer Sam is wearing in lieu of a yarmulke. If a Katz's Deli hat isn't kosher, what is?

No food photos this year, probably because the evening started with plenty of that horseradish-infused vodka, and since Chef Pickle and Farmer Sam got caught in a traffic jam on the Bay Bridge, by the time they got to World Headquarters The Great Plotnik was already in a fine old mood.

Rose's Brisket was not as good as at Rose's house, but it was delicious nonetheless and there is a ton left over even after people took a few plates of food home with them. Pip brought asparagus which was quite tasty, though she started out from home with more than got to World Headquarters, thanks to the street turning sideways on their way over. Silent Bill's White Sauce was the hit of the evening, with people piling it on top of everything on their plate including Mary Ann's delicious green salad. There were poached fingerling potatoes and Lois's green bean/red pepper/Kalamata olive salad and several pounds of fresh, shelled peas that Chef Pickle cooked up in butter, and all of that followed Pickle's duckzoballs in the peppery Pat Conroy chicken stock, and of course by then everyone had also eaten tons of Lois's haroset and horseradish and matzos, which itself had followed half a dozen appetizers, all the while drinking Pinot Noir from Farmer Sam's grapes, and Frivolo from Amador County, and that quite astonishingly good horseradish-infused vodka.

Fortunately, three of our participants did not drink, which was probably the only way anything got accoomplished at all.

As always everyone participated in the seder, which involved lots of talk about politics and current events, which is, after all, one of the hearts of the Passover story -- the tyrant in Egypt who wouldn't let his people go. Ever heard that one before?

If Moses had had Twitter, they probably could have had regular bread and doughnuts for the press delivered to a staging area at the Red Sea.

After dinner, there were Ducknik's macaroons and Liz's Italian almond cake, made with almond flour. That cake went so fast it practically never hit the plated and the macaroons are fantastic the next morning with your third cup of coffee.

Plotnik feels good about making his Mom's brisket and serving it on a table decorated with her long white tablecloth and the candlesticks she and The Chief gave to Plot and Duck not long after they moved back to Shmalifornia. It also feels good to open out their ancient oak dining table, that they bought at an auction in Catawissa, PA, back in the farm days, along with so many other pieces of well seasoned furniture with which they furnished the old farmhouse once, and which still add the patina of great memory to the picture, several houses and cities later.

Plot and Duck have known Pippa and Steve since they moved to Saint Plotniko, and they knew Steve's dad and Pip's mom. Lois lived next door at that point so her mom and dad were alive too -- we even had Passover once at Lois's new house in the Mission with her father leading the service, maybe the last one he ever led.

Mush and Bill have become good friends relatively more recently, but they have opened their home and their friends to Plot and Duck too. Sarah and Sam have also fit in perfectly with everyone else, and it's always great to see them (and it's not a bad idea to know a chef and a vintner when planning a dinner). And Ducknik met Liz and Fredricka (her service dog) in Spanish class at CCSF. Liz was a high school teacher once and taught Dan's great friend Eric and his brother Noah at Lick Wilmerding High School. Everything goes around and around.

Like Ducknik says, this holiday is about being part of a long and ancient tradition, which has continued since practically the beginning of recorded time. You make it more or less religious as it suits you. For Plottie, the point is to plug into the world of his grandparents and their grandparents and theirs too, who also lived in many different places and gathered around hundreds of different tables, but always told the same story, over and over and over. It took them six hours. Last night Plottie did it in -- well, he may have broken the Chief's record for brevity.

But the message was the same: We were slaves and now we are free.

And the food was ready. You know?

Monday, April 18, 2011

May Your Brisket Never Boil

Everyone has friends who could be doing better so these holiday good wishes go out to them. One of them is good friend Dance-Nik, to whom Plotnik and Ducknik send good wishes and smiling mojo.

Domin-Nik needs to get her motor moving again.

Bombshell needs to get her strength back.

Mummy P. needs to keep things clear and we all wish she were here.

Elijah, if your schedule is tight, show up tonight where people are hungry and frightened and not sure what tomorrow may bring. Go where they need you most. We'll understand and thank you for it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Two Days, Eight Games!

Bo-ring, except to those of us for whom the NBA Playoffs are anything but. Eight games this weekend! Ooooooh!

But don't expect to see Kobe at the next Castro Theater showing of Mary Poppins.

Friday, April 15, 2011

We Plant, Robert.

These must be the irises Plottie bought in Williamsburg last summer. That old-fashioned nursery's bulbs have done better than any others that Plot has ever seen. These purple beauties are half again as tall and a deeper color than the native ones everyone seems to have in Saint Plotniko.

Plotnik plants plants, or said in Traditional Plotnikkish: Plants, Plotnik plants. He plants anything he can get his hands on, whether or not it stands a chance in a Saint Plotniko garden whose summers have nothing to do with where the little plantie grew up.

This is an Oregon dwarf blueberry. His brother is next to him. Plot found the two at Costco and they'd just come in so they looked pretty healthy. Maybe he'll get a blueberry or two out of his investment, and maybe not, but right now they look pretty darned nice.

Plotnik should have been a gentleman farmer. But he had to be a gentleman first.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Actors, producers, theater majors and most reviewers have seen everything Anton Chekhov ever wrote. They know him like Englishmen know Shakespeare -- Chekhov is part of the Russian national character.

Plotnik, on the other hand, has seen only a few Chekhov dramas, so if you want a valid opinion, unsullied by that Theater Arts 203 Final your actor friend failed, ask Plottie. He'll tell you that "The Three Sisters," which premiered last night at Berkeley Rep, is a good one. He'll also mention that you should take a little nap first, because it's easy to run out of gas somewhere approaching the third hour.

You can read the SF Theater Blog Review of "The Three Sisters" here.

Chekhov finished The Three Sisters in 1902. It's the second of his three most famous plays: "Uncle Vanya" and "The Cherry Orchard" are the other two.

And it's 2011.

So if a play The Great Plotnik might write should debut in 2011, and have the kind of success that "The Three Sisters" has had, people will still be watching it in 2120, which is the exact address of the Avon Street House in Stiletto City.

It's destiny, it's fate, it's God's will. Oh, these endless Russian winters!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chickens In The Pot

The chickens, onions, dill, carrots, celery, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic halves are in the pot simmering away. This means by sometime late tonight the stock will be ready to poach the matzoballs next week. Plottie ordered a 10 lb. brisket today which he will prepare, of course, using the time tested Rose's Brisket recipe, which involves several secrets you would have to kill him to get, except for the one about using stewed tomatoes.

DANG! This house smells good!

All the coconut has been gathered together for Ducknik's macaroons and there is a rumor that Liz Greenberg (one of the few non-Jewish Greenbergs) is bringing a vanilla almond cake. The chocolate component has still not been decided upon, but it is for certain that there will be wine from all three categories: red, white and Manischewitz.

It's a lot of fun to do this every year, because so much of the preparation can be done in advance. Plot always works on a theme for the readings, because the readings themselves can be soooo-o-o-o boring and never make much sense, unless viewed through a Plotnikkian lens. This year it will probably be about The Great PD'S fantastic Mischief Dream, though it is sure to be a stretch, as it always is.

The Plotniks went south to Stiletto for Passover for the first dozen years they lived up here, but it got to be such a schlep, and both Plot and Duck got tired of always being the schleppers. So five years ago Plot decided if he was going to live in St. Plotniko it was time to celebrate holidays at home and start building customs away from Stiletto City. It was a good move.

By the way, Plottie has never seen more Passover prepared dishes than at Costco this year. He was surprised at first, because most of them are Kosher for Passover Servings for one or two people. How can you have Passover with one or two people?

This says to him there are a lot of people who miss the seder customs but either have nowhere to go, or don't really it miss it that much, and figure they'll stay home and eat packaged stuffed cabbage on matzo farfel.

Plottie doesn't like to think of people who have nowhere to go on holidays. That's why he and Duck always have extra folding chairs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We're watching an old Gunsmoke. Amazing. Doc and Kitty. Plot and Duck remember them like old friends. Matt's been kidnapped by bad guys (Ed Ames is one of 'em) and they're almost to the Mexican border and what's gonna happen? Amazingly insulting bad Mexican stereotype -- bad teeth, stupid, awful English.

Do you remember Kitty's dress? The owner of the Longbranch Saloon wears white lace buttoned up to her chin.

Of course, this is one of the 'newer' ones, because Festus is Marhsall Dillon's sidekick instead of Chester. Ooooh! Festus has broken into the camp and is going to save the Marshall -- damn! It didn't work!

Can you believe this? Festus is now in jail!

Not to worry. The Marshall survived with the help of a kindly bad guy, who (as we all know) had been falsely accused. The Marshall will help him receive justice.


Monday, April 11, 2011

April Garden

Lots of rain while we were gone. Everything's goin' nuts.

Ranunculas, native iris, daffies. Yes, yellow oxalis flowers too. The Demon Weed gives off a really pretty ground cover before it dies.

Turned on JJ-aka-PP's sprinkler for the first time last weekend. It still works.

Fuschias in red, native glads in yellow this year. The wild bulbs always been just orange before, now we've got two colors.

It's the same thing every April. By July-August all is dry and forgotten. But this year Plotnik is not going water once it goes dry, except by watering can for selected plants. Maybe he can dry out his irises and daffies and clivia and have them come back for once. They say the tomatoes taste better if they dry out. We'll see.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where is My Z Drive?

What if you could have the operation that would make you a thousand times smarter than everybody else? What if you turned it down and everybody else got it?

Would the new superior race simply cure cancer and treat everyone else with kindness? Or would the new smarter people began to exterminate the other people, or at best treat them like pets, just because they could?

You local Plotnikkies need to run over and see "Wirehead." What a romp you insignificant humans with your primitive brains are in for. Plotnik will be in front of you in line, though.

(You can read the SF Theater blog Review of "Wirehead" here.)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Comfort Level: Orange

Being back home means settling into the old program, which is both good and bad, and for the same reason: comfort. It's good to be comfortable. It's bad to be comfortable. Both are true.

The Great Theater Reviewer is off and running. Last night's show wasn't much. It just wasn't much. Oh, Plotnik has seen the reviews: Astonishing! A knockout! Sheer magic!

OK, yeah, well, uh. Just posted at the usual place if you're interested.

Tonight and tomorrow night Plot and Duck will be at San Francisco Playhouse which is always fun, tomorrow probably even more than tonight. Tonight is a well-reviewed show which is finishing its run, which opened while P and D were on St. John, but tomorrow night is a free reading of a new play, with a very strong cast and a discussion afterwards. These are always fascinating -- the audience brings wine and noshes and usually the actors haven't had all that much time to learn the nuances so you have to guess -- and there's no costuming or sets -- but the intimacy of seeing a brand new show (this one is by Aaron Loeb, who has had several huge hits, including First Person Shooter and Abe Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party) and knowing all the actors trumps all the stuff they'll do to the play afterwards.

Meanwhile, the garden has gone nuts in Plot and Duck's absence. There was a good bit of rain, we're told.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Poem for the Week

I Forgot the Power Cable

I am disconnected.
It’s harder than I expected.
No buttons, no screen, no news, no sports.
I sit alone on the boat, in the ports,
In cafes where the young and the pretty all come.
Here on the islands it’s all about rum.
And tattoos that begin at the lobe of the ear
And end where our plans and our tans disappear
At the top of the rear.

On Culebra it’s Bacardi with citrons and limes
Nobody’s reading the New York Times.
Laughing and smoking and flirting and swearing
No one but me seems to be caring
That they’re not hooked in, that they’re not aligned
With the ladder they labored to leave behind
Those meaningless jobs, those useless advances
And hurtful romances. Here, everyone dances.
Nobody’s bitter.
Nobody Twitters.

I’m a wave in someone else’s ocean
A slave to what I think is motion
But isn’t really. Just information
Packaged and repackaged. A disunited nation
Of couch potatoes phoning it all in.
I need to swim. I’m on vacation.
I need to snorkel.
Dive through the portal.
Turn off the power.
Seek the immortal.

But let’s be honest, I’m talking defiance
But I also know that the Dodgers and Giants
Played two games already, and I’d like to know how
My Lakers are doing, and if Obama
Is doing OK. And also my Mama.

I’m not anxious to return to my little cave
And I don’t like to think I’m a toadying slave
To Steve Jobs and his gobs of gigameg RAM
Maybe I’m not. But maybe I am.

I am disconnected.
I have been infected.
By Puerto Rican Caribbean DNA
I’m declasse
But I still have a mission
Though it's absurd
I'm in remission but I'm not cured
The blogged word

All night I dream the craziest dreams
They crash against our berth.
They’re not of Earth
And not the sea. They’re just me.
My synapses are healing.
I’ve been doing too much typing
Not enough feeling.

At three am I walk up on deck
Under a million billion stars
And a full to bursting moon.
I’ll be home soon.
But I won’t forget.
Not yet.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Five on a Coconut, and a Few More Photos From Luquillo, San Juan, Arbeluc and the Voigins

At El Yunque

San Juan

La Culebrita

Cooking on the boat

The San Juan Children's Museum


Cap'n Cuervo at his chart desk, with our berth behind him.

And, after all was said and done, the best food in Puerto Rico, at La Bombonera: the mallorcas (sweet rolls filled with cheese, flattened, grilled and dusted with powdered sugar, plus a glass of acerola juice and thick cafe con leche. We'll go back for more of these. The Plotniks will see a lot more of Puerto Rico. Who Knew?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Caribbean 2011 Pictures

They closed Miami International while Plottie and Ducknik were somewhere over Haiti, but they eventually landed and took off again for SF a few hours after that, and by 7am this morning the suitcases that had gotten lost had been found and delivered. So that's that on a long day which capped off the best family vacation ever, and that was already the delicious icing on the cake of sailing through the American Virgins and arbeluC Island with Cap'n Crow and Helmsman Finch.

You can see the four new blue pins -- two large and two small. You can also see the white pins from the trip two years ago to the Southern Caribbean, and maybe you'll be as surprised as Plotnik was to realize how far it is from Miami (straight blue pin) to Puerto Rico and the American Virgins: more than two hours in the air. Add in two more hours circling, waiting for the airport to reopen and our plane to get in line with the fifty other circling airplanes, and you have new respect for American Airlines -- they got us down, even if everyone's baggage didn't end up where they were waiting for it.

A little square in San Juan is a great place to sit with your boy, smoke a cigar and laze away an hour or two before the women arrive for dinner...

...though maybe you want to think twice about ordering the whole chillo (deep fried snapper) who keeps staring at you as you eat him.

It was a trip defined by water -- swimming under the waterfall in El Yunque...

...or hiking through the woods to La Playa Desconocida (Secret Beach) outside of Fajardo...

...or snorkling off the ridiculously beautiful waters of Tamarind Beach on Arbeluc, while avoiding the invasive lionfish who are as agressive as they are ugly.

You don't have to be connected to the outside world all the time.

Plotnik has new found respect for the I-Pad and the world of the high tech app, but even more respect for the low-tech Chinese guitar played in the cockpit of a beautiful sailboat.

Money won't buy you love but it will buy you an obscenely large megayacht or book you a reservation for the buffet line on a floating apartment building that leaves its bloated footprint in every harbor you visit.

Whatever turns you on. Plot and Duck know how lucky they are. For them it's all about seeing their friends and kids and if you can do it in a beautiful place so much the better. And the mofongo. Don't forget the mofongo.