The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Deep?

Have you ever had one of these?

Plotnik has fallen asleep during a dreary afternoon. He knows someone is coming over that he has to talk to, and when he hears the man's footsteps walking up to the front door, he wakes up and tries to get to the door. But he can't move. He absolutely can't move. Slowly, he realizes he is sleeping so all he has to is wake up and then he can answer the door. He is sure Duck is in the room and he moves his eyes to get her to help him but he can't move his head, and he can't speak. He knows about these crazy dreams of paralysis and he realizes he's having one, so all he has to do is force his way out of the dream.

But it's not that easy. He can't do it. He can't move. He can't speak. He can't make anyone understand him and he is in absolute panic. When this has happened before it has been over in a heartbeat. This time it won't go away.

FINALLY he claws his way into consciousness, like a drowning man bursting through the surface of the ocean and gulping at the air. He gets up and sits on the edge of the bed. His heart is pounding. He should feel safe, but he doesn't.

His first thought is wondering if this is what Mummy P. is going through -- all these people around her, Plotnik included, telling her what is real, but she thinks she knows what is real and she can't make anyone listen to her?

This dream, or whatever it was, haunts Plotnik the rest of the day. He walks to the front door and sees the mailman has come -- it was his footsteps Plotnik heard in the first place.

It won't go away -- that is, until seeing Billy Elliot last night at the Orpheum, which is so good that Plotnik may start to like Elton John again. And the sun is out today, which helps.

Criminy. How deep is this ocean anyway?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where Did I Put My Papyrus and that Quill?

She's got a doctor's appointment today at 2. The doctor should see a short letter Ducknik drafted and Plotnik edited, which describes her various ailments, that would help him in his diagnosis, but she would never tell him about.

Plot calls the doctor's Sherman Oaks office.

"Can we please email you a copy of the letter so the doctor can have it before my Mom gets there?

"One moment," says the receptionist, then comes back and says "What is the patient's name?"

"Mummy Plotnik," says Plottie. "One moment," says the receptionist. She comes back.

"We're sorry. The doctor does not give out his personal email address."

"Really? Well, does anyone in the office have one we can send this letter to? Or is there an office email?"

"No, I don't think so. But you can fax the letter to us."


Well, OK, except a few months ago Plot and Duck decided nobody would use a fax anymore, so they tossed their fax machine onto the street to be picked up by a vagrant who could use it to check his growth stocks. So he now has to edit the letter to apply to this doctor, and then take it to the Mailboxes place on 24th Street to fax it to LA.

She gives Plottie the fax number. It's pouring rain. Plottie gets down to the corner and gives the letter to the clerk. "What's the fax number?" he says.

"I wrote it at the end of the letter," says Plot.

"There's no number here."

Plotnik wrote the fax number on the original letter, but then edited and printed a new copy and didn't bother to recopy the fax number onto the new letter.

Phone call to the Little Bear to get the doctor's phone number. Phone call to the doctor's office. They give him the fax number, but it's a different one than the one they gave him before.

He gives the clerk the new number. The clerk dials the number and it rings busy for the next fifteen minutes solid.

Plot calls the doctor again. "Oh yeah," laughs the clerk. "I forgot. Here's another fax number."

The clerk uses the new number. It almost goes through, then stops. He tries again. It seems to go through this time.

This process took the better part of three hours, just to send a fax to a doctor who will not have time to read it, to serve a patient 400 miles away who the doctor assumes is old and in the way. He will go down his list of drugs given to him by various drug companies until he finds one that he hasn't tried yet, that might not give her an interaction with the other drugs she takes that he pays no attention to.

Or maybe he's not like that at all. Maybe he's a hero. But does every single thing have to be this complicated?

Yes, P.J., I know.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Memory and Balance

Today, the Great Plotnik is the Great Poopednik. He has to figure out how to stop himself from waking up in the middle of the night, worrying about insoluble things. Everyone he knows who has aging parents goes through the same things. Memory and balance. You can lose everything else but when either of those goes, the other one isn't far behind. How do you maintain a will to live when you're in pain, afraid of falling over, just about blind, hard of hearing, with no friends left and you can't even depend on your own brain to give you a reality check?

What you do is get mad. Down in Stiletto, Mummy P. is alternating between fury and forgetfulness, with enough moments of lucidity to convince herself she's really OK.

This morning she said to Plotnik in great frustration: "Wouldn't I know if I were forgetting things?" Plotnik said "Mom, please don't do this." He listed several recent examples of her forgetting important things. "Well, yes, maybe I did forget those. But listen. Don't you forget things?"

"Well, yes."

"So do you know when you forget something?"

"Usually, but..."

"Well, then. Why wouldn't I know if I were forgetting things? Can't you trust me?"

The rub.

He still believes in her. She's the strongest person in the family. But Plottie needs to pay attention to what her doctor said to him this morning: you attend to what is reversible. And you accept what is irreversible. To do that Plotnik needs better balance himself and sleep is a good place to start.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

What a Life

Raspberries from the garden, good sushi, a cool premiere with buffet and drinks afterwards, talking to the actors and director and other reviewers, walking up Mason Street with a gale in our faces, Gay Pride silliness everywhere, June streets full of freezing tourists hanging out of cable cars, counting our blessings in a world filled with so much hardship and loss, Asian kids who canNOT have grown up here wearing miniskirts to show off their goosebump legflesh as they exit grad season stretch limos outside dance clubs, two blocks later old black winos lying motionless, huge parkas, pockets full of rye, what a city, what a world, what a life.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Coach Rose

She'll never be the player she used to be. She can't jump and she can't dribble. She can't go left and she can't go right. Occasionally she can get off a good shot and it might even go in the basket, but it's getting rarer. And she's got a No Trade clause.

And anyway, we don't want to trade her, we want her back the way she used to be. But when you travel for any length of time on the River Denial, you find it easy to ignore what you were seeing for months, perhaps years earlier. You know if you go back in these very pages you'll find comments about her loss of memory, her inability to handle any but a small gathering, and many other little things, that by themselves are nothing but rain but, when put together, begin to form that cloud that terrifies us all.

So what do you? You make her the coach.

One thing's for sure about Coach Rose -- you never know what she's going to do. All we hope for is a little better yesterday (it was), followed by a little better today which precedes a little better tomorrow. The game is 'way easier when you break it into small steps.

Plotnik could say the same thing about himself. He's got to get back playing ball again.


Friday, June 24, 2011

A Message to Fellow Plotnikkies About TGP

Ducknik asked this morning "Why do you think Mother Nature made blueberries blue?"

Plotnik answered "...probably so they would go with her tablecloth (green)."

Which makes as much sense as anything. There are also red strawberries and purple boysenberries and green gooseberries, and there are black bumblebees who prefer the golden color of California poppies and yellow honeybees who prefer the purple blossoms of French lavender, so the answer seems to be there is a blossom for everybody's bee, which is exactly what GrandMummy P. always said about youngsters who were perhaps not the pick of anyone's litter: "Every pot has a cover."

Down in Stiletto City, the Little Bear is with Mummy P. for the next two days and things seem to be better. Memory, not so hot, but it wasn't all that sharp before she fell either.

So The Great Plotnik has the opportunity to stand on his deck and survey his minuscule empire of flowers and fruits. He finds himself thinking about his garden in Cat's Whiskers, Pennsylvania, c. 1975, that the neighbors all called a "truck patch," because you could pile all your produce into your truck and take it to the market, or into your kitchen to can.

It was always hot and humid during the summer in Cat's Whiskers. The two years he and Duck lived out there, Plotnik hated the humidity, he couldn't move a muscle, he never saw the point of it. But now he gets it. Moisture makes things green, like Pennsylvania in July. Dryness makes things brown, like California a month from now.

Now, looking back at his young, shaggy self, immobile on the porch swing, being eaten alive by mosquitoes and no-see-ums, he sees little of that. He remembers lazy comfort, snoozing in the grass, a truck patch full of sweet corn (raccoons), red beets (deer) and tomatoes (Japanese beetles), an old farmhouse to rebuild and a brand new world of nature presenting itself to two big city kids.

And then a new baby to amaze him, astonished at the depth of feeling that could overcome him in the middle of a dark, starless winter's night, as the cave instinct drew him close to his child, his wife, his farmhouse, his new life.

But you know how it goes. It got boring. The bees needed new nectar.

The point is, fellow Plotnikkies, that everything is beautiful for awhile and nothing is horrible forever. The way things seem to work is that you've got two choices:

1a) Allow yourself to exult in the glory, realizing you will become
1b) Completely fucked up with the misery.

... or

2) Don't allow yourself to ever get too high or too low.

The latter way makes more sense. But these days Plotnik seems to run on the first course.

So don't worry too much when he sounds down like a rock at the foot of a mountain at the bottom of a deep blue sea (he actually wrote that line in a song once). That's the price he pays for trying to burst from the superstitious, Russian dybbuk who wants to keep him from ever truly enjoying anything (it could end tomorrow, y'know). Let the boy jump out of his seat and clap from time to time, or even rate the current situation NO STARS with a BAUBLE of DESPAIR. Either way, you know he will come back to Earth all too soon.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Box

We're in a box. If she goes to the old doctor, he says "You're just old, Rose." He knows if he gives her pain killers she will take them and they'll make her woozy. She's better off without them. In addition, this doctor's office is a substantial distance from her home.

If she goes to a new doctor and says she's in pain, the new doctor will prescribe shots and pills to ease the pain. She will without fail have an adverse reaction to the shots and pills. The new doctor is doing what he thinks he should do, based on knowing none of her history, but she will end up worse than when she went in.

But sometimes you just have to see a doctor. So we found her a new doctor around the corner from her house. He's a gerentologist and will accept Medicaid. So she went to him yesterday. He gave her a shot and some pills.

Last night she was hallucinating. She couldn't figure out who we were on the phone and kept talking about all the people who were cooking in the next room, except the people weren't really there, and about her parents and our kids when they were small, except she thought we were them.

It was awful, so her caregiver didn't give her any more of those pills. This morning she has developed horrible pains in her hip, which cause her to scream out in pain. She probably needs to see a doctor. But who? And when? And for what end? What can they do but give her another shot and more pills?

The sad truth is probably what her first doctor said. But how can we be sure, 370 miles up I-5? How can anybody know? And would a hospital be better? Not very likely.

Hanky Girl, you are right. This box stinks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Bee Sting and the Secret Solution

Some of you will remember that on the Plotniks' latest sea voyage, Ducknik got stung by a bee with dastardly results. Just to even things up, Monday afternoon Plotnik was walking barefoot in his heat-drenched garden when ZOT! Right on the bottom of his toe. Knowing the proper procedure now (hot water applications, to trick the body into mobilizing to fight the heat which it assumes is infection, and Benadryl), today his toe is only, like, twice its normal size and not quite as bright red as yesterday. But it's painful, and not so easy to walk when the bottom of your foot is swollen.

Another day or two and the swelling should diminish. Otherwise it's a trip to the doctor which we of course avoid at all costs short of amputation.

The Mummy P. situation just keeps getting more problematic. Plotnik knows she has to keep being angry, grumpy and bitchy, because when she stops doing that it will be a signal of serious decline. So let's just say she's heartily contributing to her own welfare. It's hard for sons to deal with but it's harder for daughters-in-law, who, after all, have or had their own mothers.

There is a vestigial node somewhere in women of Mummy P.'s generation, filled with a particular DNA that expects younger men to be slaves to their professions but younger women to serve in bondage to the elderly in the family. Mummy P. was just that for her own mom, GrandMummy P., and perhaps somewhere inside her she feels this is payback time. But she does not have daughters, she has two daughters-in-law, both devoted to helping her, but neither one susceptible to the endless barrages of guilt.

Everyone who has an elderly parent understands this situation. It resolves itself over time but turns a lot of hours that should be used for sleeping into rolling over and over and over and over in bed while you search for the secret solution everyone knows does not exist.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drums in the Living Room

Nefnik was here Sunday and Monday, so we got time to record some drum tracks. It's always a pleasure to play with somebody who is compulsive about his own performance. Phoning it in is not an option.

This poppy arrived in this place from a plant Plotnik had growing in a pot a few years ago.

They take their time and they do re-seed without any help from us. But in this climate, you have to look fast -- the wind comes up in the afternoon and usually knocks down these tall, spindly plants and their ethereal flowers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Father's Day and it's hot!

The Katzenjammer Kid is here today. Nefnik arrived late last night and the three of us sat out on the deck this morning enjoying coffee in the sunshine. What a beautiful day.

And we saw Fefnik last weekend at Mummy P.'s, with Vashnik. Fefnik and Nefnik may not be girlfriend-boyfriend anymore, but they're still a family, and so are we all.

We were having dinner with the Zinfandinis last night and the comment was made that "blood is not necessarily thicker than water, like everybody thinks." This was meant to mean that just because you're family doesn't mean you're gonna get along automatically, unless you work at it.

Everybody has problems with their families, or people in their families. Go back to the bible -- it didn't just start with all of us. Karen Zinfandini's family makes Plottie's (and yours too probably) seem like Ozzie and Harriet, Ricky and David, and if you don't recognize that image you probably stopped reading already.

Plottie is thinking Cousin Seattle is in New Zealand right now. Most often, that thought would fill Plot with wanderlust, but not today. It's shorts weather boys, and it's Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Doug Doo what The Great Plotnik gets when he talks with his mom. When she talks to her grandkids or to Ducknik, her voice is strong and she sounds fine. When Plottie gets on the line it's wavery, life-is-running-out and miserable.

Who knows what the truth is? What we know is lucky lucky Plottie gets blasted with both barrels.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Plotnik Blogs His Junk

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Crash and a Wedding and Vitamin BB

After five nights at Mummy P.'s house, where Plot didn't sleep much, mostly rolling over and over in bed every little while worrying about what comes next, he and Duck slept in their own bed last night.

Really, you shouldn't bother worrying in the middle of the night. It never accomplishes everything. The morning comes and things are never as frightening as they seemed just a few hours before. Plot thinks darkness scares us in a deeper way than we realize, and he recommends sleeping at night and worrying during the day.

Of course, it doesn't work.

Duck and he drove down to Stiletto to see Mummy P. and to hook up with PD, 5-H and BB who were coming to town for their friends Jade and Nick's wedding.

Yes, they are already married and have been for two years and have a two year old. Nevertheless.

The first night Plot had 'the talk' with his mom about how she sounded depressed and lonely these days and what she wanted to do about it (nothing). Isabella and Duck went to sleep (her folks were at the bridesmaid's and bachelor's parties that night) and Plot lay down on the living room sofa, thinking about both his mother's stubbornness and her loss of memory. He heard the crash around 2:30am.

When he flew into Mummy P.'s bathroom, he found her on her back on the floor with a nasty NASTY slice taken out of one arm, her head having hit the tile shower curb. She was not really sure who or where she was. Plot woke Duck (Isabella slept right through everything) and the two of them got Mummy P. to her feet and back into her bed. They called 911 and six firemen were there in a flash.

You know the rest, an ambulance ride, E-R craziness, Mummy P. strapped to a gurney but still needing to get up to use the facilities every half hour which entailed an enormously complicated amount of logistics each time, and x-rays and c-t scans and blood and urine tests and finally a nurse to practically glue her skin back onto her arm using steri-strips and peroxide, and permission to go back home granted at 8am.

How do people without insurance pay for this kind of treatment? Plot is sure all those tests and ambulance ride and doctors and e-r charges will run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

When she arrived at the hospital, they asked her what day it was. She didn't know. They asked her what year it was. She didn't know. Then they asked her if she smoked. She smiled. Plot said "Oh, yes." The doctor said "Well, I'd let her keep smoking. She's doing great for her age."

The patient raised herself up and said "Bwaa ha ha ha ha."

Mummy P.'s memory had been slipping before the fall, but this weekend it fell off the side of the mountain. There had been a party planned for Sunday and it went on as scheduled, but she was pretty well out of it, particularly after Plottie's brother and nephew decided to bring along their dogs, whose yapping just about drove Mummy P. around the bend.

Look, here it is: nobody wants to see your baby pictures. Nobody wants to hear your travel stories. And nobody cares how much you love your dog, if you can't make it lie down and keep quiet.

Ask any cat, he'll tell you.

Plot and Duck, and Schmeckl and Little Bear took a walk and decided what they'd do about Mummy P.'s care. This is an exercise all families are familiar with and you have to do it. But Plottie fears it is a wasted exercise, because Mummy P. will promise whatever anyone wants her to promise, and then do what she feels like later.

By the time Plottie drove her to see her doctor Monday morning she was already improved greatly. But you always get better when you're going to see your doctor. (Except for Plotnik, who turns into goo at the thought.)

The doctor looked at her arm, which is healing, and told her exactly what she needed to hear -- so she could ignore it, which she is already in the process of doing.

Aging is not like making a business deal or producing a record. You don't go from A to B. Aging is like a reed bridge suspended by vines over a dark, scary river. Some people are further along the bridge towards the other side, and the further they get the weaker they become. When anyone trips it effects everyone on the bridge. If they get up and start walking again it makes everyone on the bridge stronger. If they don't get up -- well, now you're in the lead and everyone else is behind you.

It's a blessing Plottie and Duck happened to be in the house when she fell. The obvious solution is to employ someone to be in the house 24-7 from now on. But the problem is Mummy P. doesn't want anything to do with it. She feels that once there are people in the house taking care of everything she needs, she will just slow down and stop. Right now, if she falls down, she's going to have to stand up by herself.

Plot is in the minority here, but he agrees with her. It's scary and 'way more problematic for us, but it's probably better for her.

Seeing Isabella is like no medicine available in pill or liquid form. The last two nights in Stiletto, Isabella slept in the living room in her Duck-constructed pillow fort. Mummy P. would shuffle into the living room in the evening and morning, looking and feeling like a tired old lady, and after five minutes of Vitamin BB she would be laughing and joking like her old self. Plot's kids do that for him too.

We're home and we slept like logs last night.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On Our Way

It does look like Plot and Duck will be able to start North today. PD and B-Bone leave in around an hour for the airport and Plottie hopes to be on the road by 10am. So they'll have the sun in the eyes for the last hour. So what? It'll be really nice to be home.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What a River!

It's hard -- Plottie has got to tell himself she's 96. But the fall the other night seems to have crumbled more memory cells -- she can't remember much of anything right now. Plottie even found himself shouting at her this morning, and then asking her in frustration if she remembered how she felt when The Chief would ask her fifty times a morning whether or not she wanted coffee. She couldn't remember that either.

So it's one foot in front of the other, deep breaths and solve one problem at a time. One thing that's clear -- The Great Plotnik is not a very good nurse. Ducknik is better but it's not her calling either. Also, it's not her mom.

Everyone else is unreachable, cell phones off, it appears. Which, we suppose, makes sense but it doesn't help. Denial is a wide, wider river.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Welcome to Stiletto

What a night -- you don't really want to have to spend the night in an Emergency Room, but that's what happened. Plot and Duck had driven down to Stiletto on Thursday and Thursday night Plottie and Mummy P. ended up at St. Joseph's in Burbank in an ambulance, at 3am.

But the girl has a hard head, and the emergency room doctors said she should keep smoking as much as she wants because it has obviously made her oblivious to falls.

So Mummy P. has both arms in bandages and a pain in the back of her neck today and we are all deciding what all we're gonna do about it.

Sleep sounds best. Things are fine, don't worry. If it weren't for the bandages on her arms you'd never known anything had happened. She's amazing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Last night Plot and Duck and Plot's cousin JW (mother of Cousin Seattle) went to the Marsh to see Geoff Hoyle's absolutely hysterical show "Geezer." How he gets around the stage carrying that huge prostate is a mystery. Thanks to MsMas for clueing us into the reworked show -- Plot had seen "Geezer" when it was first being showcased and wasn't all that impressed. Now, it's a must-see if you feel like watching a video game of your entire life passing before your eyes.

When they walked into the Marsh Plot ran into his friend Bill Leeman, one of the co-founders of the NV Voice, who writes a movie review column. Bill sent Plottie two reviews this morning, one laudatory about the new Woody Allen movie, and one a pan of a film called "Thirteen Assassins."

Plot loves this line from the Thirteen Assassins review:

"Anyway, as I said, this is a Samurai film which takes place in 1844. Very nice costumes, and scenery. As in most Samurai films, it's about honor, saving face, giving your life for your Master, and other honorable and noble causes, but mostly it's about splitting heads wide open with big sharp blades and stabbing the guts out of other Samurais."

What, no car chases?

The Plotzers are going to win the pennant. You heard it here.

Which pennant? Which year?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Old Gang is Still At it

Last week TIAPOS got together in its rare, full form. It will the last meeting for awhile with everyone available, seeing as The Great Large Pants is heading for his yearly migration to the East Coast. It had been awhile since The Great Domin-Nik had hosted in her dining room, which after all is the Official Tiaposian HQ. What a nice night.

Comes summer and it's so hard to find times when everyone can make it to TIAPOS and it's a shame because everyone seems to be doing nice work now. But we always figure a way to keep going, and that's because everybody wants to.

Monday, June 06, 2011

It's Still Way Easier

This morning the Wave of Groove, who is in Aspen, and Rock the Jock, who is somewhere else in Aspen, and The Great Plotnik, at World Headquarters, did a three-way Skype recording session. Three people in three different locations, one reading and recording from a script and two commenting.

So what happens? Rock the Jock's cell vibrates. He excuses himself, sees who it is, doesn't answer it. But we have to start over. Then Plotnik's cell rings. He excuses himself. It's somebody he doesn't recognize. We start over again. Then Wave gets another Skype call. The ding ding ding won't stop, and it bothers Rock the Jock who is trying to record, although he's a mile away from Wave of G. Then Plottie's phone rings again, the same person who called before. (In all, that person rang Plottie's cell seven times.) "Shit!" he yells, and Rock hears it and says "What? Did I make a mistake?"

And on on and on and on. Which is to say: modern communications are great and they are also a giant pain.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Best Musical We've Seen in a Long Time

How many years has it been? Plotnik NEVER gives a show five stars! Never! And this was his and Duck's third show this week, and the first two were big-time blockbusters, and this last one was all the way down in Mountain View. Plus, it was a musical and as you know the Great Plotnik hates every composer on Earth who doesn't work out of The Great Plotnik World Headquarters.

So there you have it, and what happens? [title of show]. It's the funniest, warmest and savviest show Plottie and Duck have seen in ages (and they've seen some fantastic plays already this year), and for absolute sure it's the runaway best musical of the last five years at least.

And how do they do it? A piano player and four singers. No costume changes. No scene changes. No production values. No smoke machines, no cigarette lighters waving in the darkness, nothing but great gags and amazingly good voices with terrific songs to wrap those voices around.

Plotnik feels so good today. It IS possible, see. It is.

San Francisco Theater Blog Review of [title of show].

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Little Girl Who Saves the Collective Cosmos from Bad Music

She's called Dot.E in the play but this is the real Leah, from Boulder, Colorado. She recorded for us two years ago and the Wave of Groove was in Boulder yesterday so he went to see her and give her and her Mom copies of Leah's parts in the show.

What a world! The bad guys (Barry Shallow and the X-S B-S Corp.) and the good guys (The Umpire of Earth and the few musicians left on the planet) are in a huge standoff. People have forgotten how to cheer. Then Dot.E walks out onto the field and shows them how.

Someday soon this will all be on the website so everybody can hear Dot.E sing "Music from the hemispheres, music to last a thousand years."

Friday, June 03, 2011

They Don't Deserve the Holy Land

After listening to Arabs and Israelis slinging lying, self-serving hatred at each other over the last few weeks, to say nothing of the last hundred years, there is only one conclusion that can be made by rational people. The people who live in the Holy Land don't deserve the Holy Land.

The Israelis don't deserve it. The Palestinians don't deserve it. The other Arabs don't deserve it. The Christians had it for a long time and they f___ed it up too, so they don't deserve to get it back.

The Great Plotnik would never advocate giving everyone who lives in Israel, Palestine and Syria a year's warning so they could move somewhere else, then taking in a thousand cubits worth of bulldozers, knocking down all the mosques and synagogues and churches, rounding up every political and religious leader who was left and tossing them all into the Mediterranean, and then repopulating the place with Buddhists. Of course he wouldn't.

That would not be a nice thing to say.
Lebanon has great beaches, they could stay.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Life and Death at Berkeley Rep

Anna Deavere Smith is almost a national treasure. A few more TV roles like on Nurse Jackie or West Wing, plus solo shows like "Let Me Down Easy," that Plottie and Ducknik saw last night, and she will become a household word.

Plot and Duck see a lot of solo shows, seeing as Saint Plotniko is the capital of one-man or one-woman performance. All of them are good, some are really good and some are terrific. Anna Deavere Smith has been doing this longer than anyone else and her craft is second to none. But she doesn't make you laugh yourself silly, like Ann Randolph, or become involved in the lives of the recurring characters, like Dan Hoyle does, and she doesn't take you to exotic places like Jeff Greenwald, and she doesn't juggle like Sara Felder.

What she does is make you think, and think hard. She tackles really tough subjects -- "Let Me Down Easy" is about life and death, unless it's about the health care system, or motivation. Or something else.

You can read The San Franciso Theater Blog review of "Let Me Down Easy" here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

No Chance

Plotnik is thinking about "Catch 22," the movie. He had loved Joseph Heller's book so much it had been practically a bible to him in college, so when Mike Nichols made the movie he absolutely couldn't wait to see it. Naturally, he hated every frame, and hated it for decades, until he saw it again a few years ago and realized what a stroke of pure genius that film is. It wasn't about the movie, it was about Plotnik's unrealizable expectations, which of course leads us into seeing "Tales of the City" last night.

Well, Ducknik liked it a lot. She says there was no way Plotnik was going to like it, given that it would be sure to have really shmaltzy music and he doesn't like anybody else's music to start with, plus he was looking forward to the show 'way 'way 'way too much.

Plot will say this much: When it started, he felt so proud of his city, of the morés of the place he and Duck have chosen to live, of the tolerance and understanding and sheer beauty of this little spit of land, that he had already written the first line of his review: "F___ New York. Who needs it?"

When the curtain came up and everyone saw the set we all let out little squeals of delight. Then the music started and it was so...ordinary.

But he wanted extraordinary. He's thinking now that his first line will be "Who Stole My Goddam Extra........?"

Really, people with high expectations should see the show twice, once to let out all the disappointment and then again to actually see what's going on. JJ-aka-PP, I'm sure you'll agree with this.

Plottie only saw it once. He'll get his review up later and try to keep this all in mind.