The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smoke to Stiletto

Smokeland Airport's security line has a new poster. It is called "What an Officer Sees" when they put you in the new x-ray box. It's impossible to see anything -- except what appears to be an underwear line through a stick-figure haze. In other words, all your privates remain private, and if you're carrying a large round bomb with a fuse on it, as long as it is in your hands with the fuse lit, they are likely to catch you. Plottie feels so much safer now.

He's heading down to Stiletto for a quick trip, there is no problem that he knows of, but Southwest announced a one day sale a month ago so he got two tickets for out-Tuesday back-Wednesday. Then Ducknik got stuck-nik on Jury Duty and she can't go. It hurt to cancel a $90 roundtrip, but...

So Plottie is going this one alone. Maybe he'll talk his mom into getting a new computer which is Skype-capable. Maybe he'll sit on the sofa for two days. Somewhere in between, most likely.

Famed children's book author Nguyen Ghenghiz Cohen Gomez came over for dinner last night, after returning from her trip to Guatemala, Chiapas and Oaxaca. She is probably the only one the Plotniks know, other than themselves, who have such a throbbing travel gene. Plus, she had a little heartache to get over and it seems to have worked. All is well. She will turn her new novel into her agent at the end of March.

Ah, Stiletto. Plane arrived. Hasta la vista!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Majestic Redwoods and a Quiet House

The house is quiet. Ducknik has left for jury duty for the third week in a row, though her case is scheduled to go to deliberation this week. Schmekl and Little Bear just drove away from the curb, on their way back down to Orange County, 7 1/2 hours from here. The dishwasher and washing machine are churning away as Plotnik sits with his feet on his counter top, coffee cup in hand, looking over his lengthy to-do list, but in no particular hurry to get started on anything.

This morning he is feeling thankful to have a family, small and cantankerous as it is. Schmekl B. Plotnik may drive Plottie crazy at times, but the two brothers will always have each others' backs. You don't get to choose your brother or sister, but you do know, better than anyone else in the world, how to make them feel content, or, if you want to, how to get right under their skin.

In the end, Plot and Schmek are not all that different. OK, they look different and OK, they look out at the world differently, and, OK, they like doing different things and eating different food. OK, one of then actually likes food.

But S.B. Plotnik only says he's a Republican. He's not really. And Plotnik only says he's a Democrat. He's really a Whig. In fact, both brothers are fed up with what they see, so they tend to default back to their long-held positions. If Schmek would listen to less talk radio he'd make more sense and if Plottie didn't scream at the TV and turn it off whenever Rick Santorrible came on, he might learn something.

Only Mummy P. has known Plottie longer than his brother. It was great fun to have Shmeck and Elbie here. Nothing but fun and food. Well done food.

Speaking of food, Plotnik is going to suggest to the greater family that we do an Uncle Schmekl Cookbook, featuring the food he loves best. Perhaps we can call it "Nuke It."

In the "Breakfast While Standing Up" section will be a cheddar cheese bagel, toasted until it's done and then toasted again until it's burnt to cinders, on top of which you add cream cheese, peanut butter and boysenberry jam and then more cream cheese on the very top. You are required to get peanut butter in the cream cheese container and cream cheese in the jam jar and jam on the counter.

If a banana slug walked across the bagel it would get stuck in the peanut butter and Shmeck would think it's mustard and that would sound pretty good too.

As you can see, yesterday the Plots all drove down to Memorial Park and walked in and around the beautiful redwoods. It doesn't matter how many times you stand next to those trees, you end up feeling good about the future of the earth. The banana slugs are actually kind of beautiful.

And now we know the secret of how redwood trees procreate.

Northern Shmalifornia -- how can you beat it? A short drive and you're into the middle of a primordial forest. In Southern Shmal a short drive and you're at the dry cleaner.

Might as well get back to work. Everyone else is. Even the redwoods.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


We celebrated Schmekl and Little Bear Plotnik's 49th Anniversary (in the year of the 49er) at Buckeye Roadhouse last night. Perhaps you can tell L.B. was well into her second dirty martini, as was The Duck who was sitting next to her. They became rather humorous. Meanwhile, Plot put away a pisco sour and his brother threw off all inhibitions and ordered a Diet Coke.

The artichoke and chicken-under-a-brick were terrific, as always. The Buckeye is one of those rare places where the minute you walk in the door you can't wait to eat.

Earlier in the day the four Plots sat through the planetarium show at the Academy of Sciences, which started out great but ended up pedantic and sleep-inducing, especially since you're in a comfy chair in the dark.

Today R and P are off seeing 'Humor Abuse' and Plot and Duck are off to SF Playhouse for their new show tonight. Tomorrow, if the good weather holds, we'll all head down the coast and take a walk in the redwoods. It's fun, fun, fun, 'til her Daddy takes the T-Bird away.

Friday, January 27, 2012

R and P Day Two

We're having a great time. Today is Forty Niners Day -- as in, it's Ricky and Paula's 49th Anniversary. Saint Plotniko never looked nicer. We'll do it up tonight.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why G Blank Blank Doesn't Eat Pork (Supposedly)

Have you noticed? Plotnik seems to be posting every other day now. It isn't conscious -- could it be he is even boring himself? This trend must be reversed.

Bro and ElBee arrived yesterday with enough bbq ribs to feed Jackson, Mississippi. They were the kind Plottie loves best -- not sauced, but really tasty, and the sauce is on the side. How about three racks for four people? Yes, there are leftovers. Many, many leftovers.

Turns out that tabboule with preserved lemons is the perfect foil for ribs -- all that lemon cuts the grease and allows you eat even more pork.

What do Jews and Muslims have against pig, anyway? It's so tasty, and no worse for you than any other meat. True, there once was a fear of disease from undercooked pork, but, you know, they cooked on campfires. How in the world do you undercook anything on a campfire?

What really happened is far simpler. Who writes this stuff down, anyway? The Chief Rabbi. How do you become Chief Rabbi? You buy political favor. Probably the guy who was the Chief Rabbi's major contributor ran a lamb farm or a cow farm. Prohibiting pork would help buddy's business, and go a long way to securing future donations.

Especially if you could convince your illiterate followers that G Blank Blank, who I can promise you would have LOVED those ribs last night, had ordained it.

Obviously The Great Plotnik neither feels his flock is piggy nor illiterate, nor does he mean to slight Mr. Blank Blank. He is only saying that food is food and religion is religion. Plotnikkies believe you should pray to whomever you prefer and eat whatever you like. Except liver.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The We Didn't Buy The OTHER One Tejido

Plottie was cleaning up his studio because S. and L.B. Plotnik are arriving tomorrow. He found a tejido, or wall hanging, stuffed into his closet and had to ask Ducknik what it was.

Oh, yeah, THAT tejido. The We Didn't Buy the Other One tejido.

It's a great travel lesson. Plot and Duck were in Cuzco, Peru, and they kept walking by a shop with the most fascinating and unique tejido in the window. After a few days they walked in and little by little convinced themselves they should own that tejido. After inquiring with the lady behind the counter, they discovered this story:

The beautiful wall hanging was from an artist from Ayacucho, Peru. Ayacucho is up in the mountains, perhaps an eight hour drive from Lima. It is the home of an indigenous weaving tradition, but that drive is a tough, mountainous one so the town is not on the tourist circuit. It was, once -- when the trains still ran.

But Ayacucho was also the home of the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, a band of Maoist guerrillas whose desire was to destroy the Peruvian government. They were vicious dudes, to say the least. One of their shining methods was to dynamite the magnificent, century-old railroad trestles which had connected Ayacucho with the rest of the country. Peru used to have the finest railroad system in South America, but once the tracks were destroyed that was the end of it, and Ayacucho became an outpost few know about.

But artists are still there. This tejido was nothing like Plot or Duck had ever seen. Less traditional, except for its large shape, the design was almost Escher-like. The price was $550.00 US.

Now, if you know The Great Cheapnik, you know he doesn't spend that kind of money on anything when they travel (unless it has strings). But this piece was so beautiful! So they began going back to the store every day or two, wondering if the price might be reduced. The lady wouldn't budge.

When you bargain you have to mean it. Plot offered less. She said no. He offered a little more. She said no again, and again. She wouldn't lower the price one penny. Plottie couldn't allow himself to buy if she wouldn't play along too.

So, in the end, they made their last offer, very close to the original price, and the woman, for the last time, said no. They shook hands and walked out of the store. Plot expected the woman to stop him, when she saw he meant it, and give him his asking price.

But now they were out on the little cobblestoned street, surrounded by those gigantic and incredulous hand-hewn Inca walls. They were leaving the next morning. What to do?

They spied another shop. They walked in. It was a more typical place, full of old rugs and other weavings from around the county. They spotted something. They offered $75 bucks. The man took it, gladly, and wrapped the rug up. When Plot and Duck got home, they unwrapped it.

It's very nice. But it's Not the Other One.

The Tejido that isn't the Other Tejido sat in Plottie's studio closet behind a package of old CDs until yesterday. It's on the back of the sofa now. The lesson:

When you're somewhere you know you'll never go back to, and you find something you love, buy it. If you don't spend the money at that moment, you'll just go home with it and buy toothpaste and car insurance. You won't care about the money but you'll miss the Tejido that Got Away.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Three Schoolmarms

Last night Plotnik posed the question as to if there is any difference between Harry Reed, Mitch McConnell and Ron Paul? We're not talking politics here, but style: those three men aggravate Plotnik the moment they open their mouths, not because they would lie to Mama Mouse to get her to buy one more slice of their toxic cheese, but because they are prissy, eyes-closed, know-it-all, ruler-weilding schoolmarms.

Silent Bill seems to think Eric Kantor is worse than Mitch McConnell, but not for me. Kantor is 100% wrong on practically every issue, but at least he doesn't purse his lips and roll his eyes.

Ron Paul actually makes sense a small percentage of the time -- his opinions on foreign policy match Plotnik's almost exactly, so they must be right. But how can you listen to him? He whines like Ralph Nader. He's like a tiny Kobe Bryant -- convinced everybody is fouling him every time they hand him the ball.

Harry Reed, Plottie just wants to slug, to render him unconscious for awhile. Nobody can out-smug Harry Reed.

You can't slug Mitch McConnell. Your fist will touch nothing but cologne. He is a non-corporal prig. And yet, though without a body, he is fat. Chinese water torture, nothing less will do.

Al Gore was smug. But he had a body. A lot of it. Mitt Romney is not smug, and he has a body too. He's not a bad guy. He's not. C'mon, you guys, really. He's not. Really.

Why doesn't anyone believe that?

But Newt? Corporal. And smart. And a little scary, as cretins tend to be. But Newt doesn't bother Plotnik. Well, the hair. But better Newt Hair than The Donald's.

By the way, The Great Ducknik says don't worry about Newt, because there are more women than men in America. Even Christian die hard evangelist women can't forgive that hypocritical sleezeball, can they?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Buses Take Time. Yogi Berra Didn't Say That

The Great Ducknik is currently not driving. This means she is using public transportation. This means for an 8:30am appointment this morning she left the house at 7:20.

Plotnik could have bicycled there in half an hour easy.

But he will drive over and pick her up at 9:15. This means he will leave at 9am and probably get there early.

Public trans: an hour. Bike: Half an hour. Car: 12 minutes. Plotnik wishes the discussion on municipal transit would say this out loud once in awhile so they could include in their decision making the way people actually live.


He's picking up Ducknik so they can get out to the Legion of Honor to see the Pissarro exhibition before it closes on Sunday. Why do they always wait until the last minute? Yesterday, Plottie saw the Saint Plotniko photography show at Pier 24. It is closing next week.

He was less than thrilled with that exhibition, but that had something to do with the fact that he decided to drive to it, in order to save time. But that meant he had to park. Parking meant he had to deal with the "new" meter system in front of Pier 24. It doesn't work. No matter how many times you push Green which means CONCLUDE TRANSACTION, nothing happens. And the meter jams so no one behind you can use it either.

So all the time he was inside the museum he was thinking he was going to get towed away any second. It didn't help his enjoyment of this massive exhibit, but as always the old Genthe and Muybridge photos, taken over a century ago, are breathtaking.

Plotnik likes small museums, or, failing that, small exhibitions in large museums, or if it's going to be a huge exhibition in a huge space, at least give the poor uniformed viewer some explanation as to why that photo of the hobo from 1972 is important. Or, if there is to be a lot to see and no explanation whatsoever, at least make it uncrowded. Pier 24 was just about empty, except for Plottie.

Plottie's favorite photo, aside from the Genthe and Muybridge, was a shot taken in Yankee Stadium at night. Why was that photo included in this exhibition? Who the hell knows? But he loved looking at all the people in rapt attention and the old Longine's scoreboard. Number 7 was at bat, according to the numbers on the scoreboard, followed by Number 8. That's Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, folks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What a Town, What an Ocean

The Pacific Ocean in January -- another one of those Giant Bonuses you get when you live in Saint Plotniko. Fifteen minutes from downtown and you're in the world of waves, rocks, fishermen and crab sandwiches.

It was Silent Bill's birthday lunch so along with the crab sandwiches from Nick's went two Crab Louies and one cheeseburger. Guess who ordered that?

Good guess. And Mudd Pie.

Like the Great Domin-Nik says in her blog today, it makes a lot of sense to eat those crab sandwiches. Kool had it right. Celebrate! Dance to the music.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Good for the Tummy and the Heart

The critic's secret heart is exposed in the latest Word For Word production: "Food Stories - Pleasure is Pleasure." This is a fabulous show, not to be missed, and as you know, this grouchy guy does not say that often. Here's the SF Theater Blog link.

One of the subthemes of the T.C. Boyle story "Sorry, Fugu" which opens the evening, is the concept of how saying no is so much easier than saying yes. As a publisher once explained to Plotnik, "no one ever lost their job by saying no."

The guy who said no to Elvis or the Beatles is probably still working. The guy who said yes to "Cheseburgers on Ice" or that new phenom that neither you nor anyone else has ever heard of was probably in the unemployment office by the weekend.

A restaurant critic is one of the main critics in the first story. Some of us, who used to be restaurant critics, but are now theater critics, will be forced to realize that we never looked as good in our Reviewer Outfit as Delia MacDougall does in that cool red dress.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Niners Were Beautiful Yesterday. But I'm Still On the Edge of Hating Them.

It was a sports' fans delirium day yesterday, and after the 49ers' unbelievably exciting win the Mission was awash in honking horns for the rest of the night. All the low riders came out, with their cars double parked while they bbq'd and drank 40s on the sidewalk. What a great day.

And wow, what a football game. Even the Duck, who cares about football even less than Plotnik usually does, sat transfixed with him watching the Fourth Quarter. Amazing.

And with all that there was not one mention anywhere, in the news or on the air, about how the 49ers have told their city to f*** themselves so they can move to Santa Clara in a few years, where people are surprised that the best season boxes will cost in the $80,000 range, for the right to pay an additional $325 per game per seat.

"We're pricing out the middle class," somebody wrote. Really? A hundred K for the season and the middle class is being priced out? Dudes, please.

Do you really think the high techies and ad men will bring their Lexus station wagons out onto Santa Clara Boulevard and party like it used to be 1999? Will the investment fat cats give one damn about this team, in their hearts?

It really makes you sad. Plotnik loves the Niners, but that love has topped out. Yesterday made him feel proud, but really, the second they lose it will be really easy to start feeling disgusted and abandoned again.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Long View and Lactose

The long view is best. The long view says that whatever it is that is sticking under your saddle right now, will be lost and forgotten in a relatively short time. In the long view, what counts, counts. What doesn't count isn't worth getting upset about.

It's the time frame that you must work on. For example, your child will eventually do the right thing, but only if he or she does the wrong thing first. This tends to happen during your lifetime, so count it as good.

On the other hand, your wife will sooner or later realize you were right all along, but most likely not until you're dead. This is good, for her, but bad for you. As in comedy, timing is everything.

The short view needs extra money to acquire that -- you know, that thing you can't live without. The long view says technology will render it obsolete before you even buy it. The long view is doing you a favor here.

Not talking food or health care or becoming homeless. But your darling will not curl into a leaf and become a useless larvae if he doesn't get into that pre-school where they learn Urdu.

Reverb units are different. You can't live without the right reverb. This is what happened to Plotnik the other day.

He went to Guitar Center. Guitar Center is where Plotnik goes to feel old and in the way. But it's worth it: all those guitars!

He happened to walk by the Bargain Bin. In the Bargain Bin was a reverb unit -- software. The package looked like it was a hundred years old. The store didn't even have it in its inventory, so they gave it to Plotnik for free.

Of course, when he got it home it wouldn't load in his computer, so he e-mailed the company, which is in Holland. The next day he got an answer: the company told him he could have an upgrade, as long as he gave them his original sales receipt.

He wrote back telling them he didn't have a sales receipt because the store gave it to him for free.

The next day he got an answer: they could give him a free trial of their newest product. It would work for fifteen days. Plotnik figured that in fifteen days he could use it to sweeten his solo project and then wouldn't need it any more. He told them this was fine, what should he do next?

The next day he got an answer: Download this link, hit that link. He did it. At the very end of the installation they asked for a serial number. He didn't have a serial number. He wrote them telling them he needed a way to bypass the serial number.

The next day he got an answer: Just try it again, and when it comes to the serial number, just hit RETURN. He did it. The software just laughed at him, in Dutch, hjar hjar hjar. He wrote and told them he still couldn't install the software.

The next day he got an answer which basically said We are tired of you. Could you please just go away and forget you ever heard of us? Plotnik wrote back and said I'll be glad to, after I sent this correspondence to your president and the International Software Terrorism Committee, which just happens to meet regularly in Amsterdam.

Ha ha ha ha.

Hjar hjar hjar hjar.

The next day he got no answer. Nor today.

All of this is just prelude to the important statement: The Great PunkyDunky just wrote to say that Isabella is now telling people "she is lactose intolerant except for chocolate milk."

Hjar hjar hjar, long view, short view, THAT is just perfect.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Off to the Races

After reviewing fifty seven plays in 2011 we're off to the races again in 2012. Plotnik is hoping the shows for the rest of the year don't give him many tough-to-write reviews like last night's "thgiL tsohG." This is your Big Deal, a Saint Plotniko natural story which details the effects of Mayor enocsoM's assassination in 1978 on his son noJ. You can read the San Francisco Blog's first review of the year, of "thgiL tsohG" by noJ ecocsoM and ynoT enoccaT here.

Willie Brown was there last night -- he came in late and changed seats for the second act, while his original seat seemed to be taken by Richard Blum, husband of Senator Diane Feinstein. We forget that Mayor Brown is just about legally blind -- he had to be helped to his seat -- because he refuses to be seen in public with either thick glasses, a cane or a dog.

He was standing by the refreshment stand at intermission. Plotnik had to fight back the urge to approach him and ask him if he'd like a cookie. Plotnik would like to buy Willie Brown a cookie. Shoulda done it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saxophone for the Masses

Brother Jimmy Street has been here for a few days, and he will play sax for food, so he and Plot have been down in the cave. This is the first work Plottie has done on "Foghead" for well over a year, and finally it is starting to sound the way it's supposed to sound. Jim's brought his clarinet and flute as well as his alto, but so far it's just that sweet, funky alto sax.

You see him pointing to China here -- that's where the Princess Cruise leaves from that's Jim's going to be on for a few months -- he'll be playing in the ship band. He was just saying yesterday he'd love to go to Asia, and then the phone rang this morning. So Plottie's happy to have him while he can.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Religious Questioning

Thanks to The Great Large Pants for this chart. Take a look.

Plotnik is afraid he would be classified as a Muslim, but he could be a Mormon if the question about the underwear could refer to someone else's underwear besides his.

Friday, January 06, 2012

We Didn't Want to Come East for Christmas

The Great Plotnik has received a posting from his Holiday and Hot Sauce Correspondent D. Conrad ("Con") Achy. As always, Achy isn't sure whether this is a story or a song. He's weird like that. Grab an eggnog. This'll take awhile.

Brooklyn Stories 2:

We Didn’t Want to Come East for Christmas


We wanted them to come West, like they always do.

We wanted them to come to us, not we go to them.

Like always. Like Christmas is supposed to be.

Christmas in San Francisco. A taco and a tree.

But on Christmas Eve we all walked up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue

Which was jammed with nicely dressed people

Everyone’s small-looking head

Peeking out of large, furry collars

Gloves on hands and knitted scarves

Hats wrapped around necks and pulled over ears,

To keep away the biting wind

That roars crosstown

Seeking exposed skin

At 57th Street, at 58th Street, at 59th Street

The moment you pass out of the lea

Of uptown skyscrapers, there, on the corner, see

The Arab street vendors

Smell the chestnuts roasting

Or sort of roasting

Actually they are propaning

Then you hunch down into your overcoat and without complaining

Hurry across the avenue

Diving this way and that

Through honking trucks and taxis. Who can believe

That anyone would drive

On Christmas Eve?

There’s Trump Tower, hurry in.

Take a break from this bone-cold wind.

Inside Trump Tower, a book kiosk.

Every book a Donald Trump book.

No one’s behind the counter.

You can only look.

The point is not to sell you

But remind you

That Trump has already defined you

Undermined you

He has written

Or at least had his hair put on the cover of

No less than fifteen books.

An idiot. With fifteen books.

They even have titles:

“How to Get Rich.”

“Think Like a Champion.”

Up an escalator

But we couldn’t get off.

The line to get into the Starbucks on the second floor

Of the Trump Tower

Was at least fifty people long.

What is going on here?

There’s a Starbucks on 56th Street

And a Starbucks on 57th Street

And a Starbucks probably mounted on a horse pulling a hansom cab through Central Park.

The horse is tireless.

He surely has wireless.

Why wait in line here?

Is 60 really the new 25?

Is The Donald the New Santa?

Warmed up, we sailed back outside.

I looked up: Wow.

Electronic snowflakes brilliantly illuminating Fifth Avenue

The famous store windows

At Bergdorf-Goodman’s

Which used to be William Vanderbilt’s mansion

One entire square block of Primo Manhattan

One house, 77 rooms

When the One Per Cent

Looked like today’s Ninety Nine

Old money makes Trump

Seem like a chump

When Bill Vanderbilt

And Jake Astor

Were Lord

And Master

These decorated store windows are gorgeous

Each with a different, other-worldy Christmas scene

The last was weird but the next is stranger

Lady Gaga

Jesus in a manger

Mary wearing Prada

Blue icicle erota

Chilled Spaniards

French dreamers

She takes his photo

With freezing fingers

And every single person on the broad avenue

Carrying one shopping bag, or maybe two

Filled with presents, white, red, green.

You cannot not notice

That everyone is smiling

Tacking slowly uptown

with the rest of the crowd

Moving on a leisurely broad reach

Along this world-famous Sea of Holiday Happy

All of us together

Before the gales freeze us

It’s jewels for Jesus.

Moses gets pajamas.

Somehow it all makes sense.

Everybody speaks happy.

At the Hotel Astor

A giant candy cane in front of the black-and-yellow awning

Next to which a red-jacketed Nutcracker

laughs merrily down at passing children.

Every child

Walking in front of the hotel

Looks up and giggles.

“Jeez,” I said to Staci.

“I know,” she said. “It’s magic.”

It is magic.

Christmas in New York is just Christmas-ier than Christmas in San Francisco.

The rest of the year we are the Big Bubble.

The west coast’s cosmopolitan, urban jewel

But in December

compared to The Big Apple

We are the Small Potato.

The Little Orange.

It makes sense to go East for Christmas. It’s cold.

Christmas should be cold.

I could have used a little snow, because I was set

With the alpaca gloves I brought back from Peru

And the knit cap I carried home from Punta Arenas, Chile

Plus the lined and hooded heavy coat Barb bought me

Which I first used for her Dad’s funeral

That icy morning years ago on the hill

Overlooking the railroad hollow in Kentucky.

The hard part, as always, in getting used to cold weather,

Is coming inside.

You endure that atomic flash

Of interior heating

Which requires you to rid yourself of all your cold weather gear

As fast as you can.

But don’t lose the gloves or the hat or the scarf

Because five minutes from now

You are going to have to put them all back on.

It’s Showtime.

It might be snow time.


It was fun to watch Dan and Isabella

Ice skate in Bryant Park

Surrounded by designer skyscrapers

A thousand holiday merrymakers

Four hours in a line so you can skate for free.

People are more patient than they used to be,


Drawn outside, by the zamboni smitten

You can work an I-Phone

With a woolen mitten.

It was fabulous to see our kids put on Christmas

With what seemed to be so little effort.

Did we teach them that?

Christ, I don’t think so.

It seems to me that I have traditionally

Been insane with worry about my family

Coming into town for the holiday

And me in my kerchief and Ma in her cap

Would immediately start our inevitable scrap

And all would pitch in to dive into the crap.

Dan and Staci and Bronnie, thanks,

Don’t seem to be bothering with any of that angst.

But then again, it was only us.

No, not true.

On Christmas Day there were friends dropping in

Dinner to get ready, and one person eats one thing

And not another

And the other eats the second thing

But not the first thing.

But everyone drinks whiskey and martinis.

They serve the dinner without a genie

Everyone enjoys telling jokes and playing music.

Isabella on conga. Jen on dumbek.

Dan plays guitar, Bron and Staci sing

What a snap, let freedom ring

Hanukkah intersected with Christmas this year…

Start spreading the news

Keep choosing the Jews

So from Providence Bron brought down the menorah

She’d made in preschool in Hollywood.

It’s made out of cardboard with hex nuts from the hardware store

To hold the candles.

From Dan’s dining room table in Brooklyn

We called my Mom in L.A.

As we got ready to light them. We’d insert the shamus

Strike the match

Then get Mom on the phone

So we could all sing the prayer together, in real time, while we lit the rest of the candles.

My Mom and I know the prayer.

But she forgets.

Bron sings with me when she's home. Tonight

We all sing it like we mean it.

Melody and light.

I fought my minimal Hebrew School education when I was a boy, hated it, Wanted nothing to do with it.

All I ever really learned was the prayers.

And yet

Baruch ataw adonai elohaynu melech haolam. Asher kidishanu b’mitzvosav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Blessed art thou oh Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hath commanded us to light the Hanukkah lights.

That’s right, bubba, I’m the Patriarch now.

I could hear my Mom singing into the receiver

In her small but oh-so-familiar voice

Remembering the parts she could

And maybe she forgot that she was in LA

And we were in Brooklyn

Or who all was crowded around whose table

But she never forgot that wherever we were

We had remembered her too.

This was better than jewels.

Or pajamas.

I think Allah, Jesus and Moses

Would all approve

Of calling our Mamas.

And singing a prayer together.

Why don’t we start here?

Perhaps next year we’ll go up to Providence

To BZ’s house. If all goes according to plan and she

Does receive her Ph.D

In May of Two Thousand One and Three

Next Christmas would be her last in Rhode Island.

Maybe we’ll do that.

Or maybe we’ll go back to Brooklyn

Or maybe they’ll all come West like they

Always have done before.

Things have changed now.

It’s a competition.

A small, informal battle

Whose resort? Whose kitchen?

But the tacos are here

At 24th and Mission.

One thing is for certain

Barb and I have a beautiful family

All of whom will move mountains in their lifetimes.

Our gorgeous grandchild will not move the mountain

She’ll give the orders

And the mountain will move itself.

It doesn’t matter where we have Christmas, does it?

Just so we do.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Macapuno and a Duck

Plot received a story today from his Holiday Correspondent D. Conrad ("Con") Achy today. He will take it to tonight's TIAPOS meeting. It's called "We Didn't Want to Come East for Christmas." After the group does its thing he'll post D. Con Achy's story tomorrow. Maybe a hankie or two?

Yesterday the Duck had some minor oral surgery and expected to feel horrible last night, so as she and Plottie waited for Walgreens to fill the prescription for amoxycillin they decided she would need macapuno ice cream, and a half gallon would be about right. After dinner, topped by a nice mountain of macapuno, Plot and Duck settled on the sofa to finally watch "Midnight in Paris."

Nice, nice, nice, especially the part about how everybody's fantasy is populated by people whose own fantasy is of somewhere else. Owen Wilson dreams of Paris of the 1920s. He meets Picasso's mistress whose fantasy is of the Belle Epoque -- Paris in the 1890s. They go there and meet Latrec whose fantasy is of the Renaissance. Perfect, so perfect.

Plottie always laughs when he realizes every artist (and film maker) has the same nightmare -- in this case the woman with the wealthy parents who hate the daughter's worthless prospective husband. The would-be-wife always wants the artist to abandon his dream and go sell shoes.

There were times in Plottie's past when this movie probably would have propelled him into a funk about why he didn't get to live on 52nd Street in 1945. No longer. He knows, now, that it doesn't matter where you live, as long as you have macapuno and a Duck.

PS: She's feeling fine. This Macapuno Endorsement has been approved by the Plotniks.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

You Weigh Less with Less Dead Weight

One amendment to the amendment list, especially the second part. And thanks to Cousin Seattle:

"Cut one person out of your life who you truly do not like and add one person who you truly do. Note: not on Facebook, on Earth."

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New Year's Resolutions From Your Pastor

The Great Plotnik knows his flock can have trouble making, and then keeping their New Year's Resolutions. So he has made his own resolutions, stored them in a weatherproof urn, along with the ashes of Hanky Girl's cat, and made the urn available to all at Great Plotnik World Headquarters on 26th of October Boulevard.

The Sacred Doggy photo reminded him of one of his resolutions:

1) Dogs are wonderful. Dog owners are a pain in the ass. So spend more time with dogs.


2) If the writing on the stone says the world is ending, turn it over and read the other side.

3) There are brilliant people and there are not-very-talented people. This has nothing to do with how nice they are. Some brilliant people are assholes and some are nice people. Some not-very-talented people are also assholes and some are nice people. If you want to be happy, only work with brilliant, nice people.

( *3a: Make sure they know how brilliant YOU are.)

4) As for you, keep writing that song of yours. Only you can do it. But when even you can't remember how the melody goes, start a new one.

Imagine the world with only two people in it: you and the other guy. Accordingly,

5) If the space is more important to your wife than the object is to you, give it up already.

( *5a: However, a music room is for music.)

( *5b: If you take your pool cues, stick them in the ground and tie them together at the top, you'll have a little teepee and you can grow scarlet runner beans.)

6) If your mom repeats herself a lot, it's still a lot better than what might be coming 'round the corner.

( *6a: Yes, Mom, we have had breakfast. Yes, we have. Yes.)

7) If your favorite teams all suck eggs, remember that it is only a game.

( *7a: Yeah, right.)

8) If you are of an age when you ought to know what you want to do with your life, but you still haven't made up your mind, it's probably a good thing.

(* 8a: You sound like a Plotnikkie to me.)

2012 will be a fabulous year. The Maya are wrong, although there is something to be said for eating the hearts out of your enemies while impaling them with sticks on the top of your temples.

( * Occupy Wall Street.)

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 02, 2012

It was a Good Chili Dog, and Mummy P. is Doing Fine, But it's Good to Be Back Home

Home, Sweet Home.

Plotnik is home, sitting in his office watching the Rose Bowl. He doesn't care about the Rose Bowl. He could eat another chili half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C., but, barring that, it just feels good to have his feet up and nothing planned.

These days he is always shocked, at first glance, when he sees Mummy Plotnik. She is so thin, so lined, so frail looking. But you know what -- the lady is not frail. She can't remember much and she doesn't operate very well in situations larger than one-on-one, but as long as you remember the rules it's kind of astonishing how well she is doing.

Yes, it's "have you had breakfast?" and "have you had breakfast?" and "have you had breakfast?" And yes, because she forgets things so easily, she is often upset because she's sure people have stopped calling her or coming over.

But when you point out to her that she just went out to lunch with Lila and Paula and Ric were over last week and the phone hasn't stopped ringing on New Year's Day, she nods her head and says "Well, I forgot. I guess I'm just an old lady."

And then "have you had breakfast? Have you had breakfast? Have you had breakfast?"

Plot and Duck took a walk yesterday, up the hill towards Mulholland and then across and down Wrightwood back to the house. They weren't really ready to go in yet, so they sat on someone's grass and thought about how beautiful it is in Stiletto City in December and January. The air is clean, the sky is blue and it's always warm. There aren't too many nicer places to spend a winter, weather-wise.

It was really nice for Peter to get pregnant at the same time as his daughter, Hannah.

It was also great to see the designer door opener still in use after nine years.

New Shmork rocked for Christmas, but OK. Next year in Saint Plontiko. Or la Cueva de las Manos Pintadas.