The Great Plotnik

Monday, April 30, 2012

WAY Worse than World Peace

Boston's Rajan Rondo took a killer shot at a referee yesterday. If World Peace's elbow was a 10, Rondo's ref bump would be a 0.02. But still. Rondo should be suspended for life, or traded to the Warriors, which is like being suspended for life.

UNLESS he has ever been accused of twisting his wife's arm, or saying anything negative about people of varying sexual orientations. Then, he needs to go play for Dallas.

The Warriors could really use him, though, whatever his off-the-court faults may be. Plotnik actually hopes he's a little insane, so he might even want to play here. So Boston: trade that miscreant referee-toucher BUT POTENTIAL GAY BASHER AND WIFELY ARM TWISTER. Get rid of the miserable jerk. Ruin his life. Trade him here.

As for Rajan, we'd love to see you wearing Warrior - red? Cream? Black? What the hell color ARE the Warrior uniforms, anyway? You've got to lose that awful green, though.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's a Good Thing They're Great Kids

A and M, our height-diminished neighbor children, are pounding at the front door. Plot and Duck have to keep the doors locked on weekends now, and sit in places invisible either from the mailbox slot in the front door, or any of the windows off the back deck. The kids have decided Plot and Duck are fair game for weekend entertainment.

Nature makes children cute for a reason.

The good thing is they're both great kids and so are their parents. But Plot and Duck did this once already. So sometimes they sit in the living room, not saying a word, until the mailbox stops slamming open and shut and the voice outside stops calling HELLLLOO! HELLLLOOOO! IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?

Saturday, April 28, 2012


This is probably why we have blogs. Tomorrow is the 20th Anniversary of the Rodney King riots. Twenty years! Plottie can look back and see it all with crystal clarity, where he was (playing basketball) when they announced the not-guilty decision, the insanity of the next night and day, wishing he had a gun, the insane way his neighborhood got threatened and then saved, and then -- back to normal.

Twenty years? Plot's been blogging since 2005. At least he knows what he's been doing since then. But before that? What happened to all those hours, days, years?

The family moved to Saint Plotniko. The Great PD went off to college, The Great BZWZ grew up and out of the house too. The cats died, never got replaced. Duck kept working, then stopped.  Plot began studying Japanese, then stopped. Music, stories and songs. Trips. New friends.

Oh, yeah, Isabella.

But what about today? This post will be titled 4/28/12. At least, later on, if he wants to know what he did for a few minutes on a beautiful Saturday afternoon back in the spring of Ought Twelve,  he'll be able to look it up.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Just for the Lols

After watching a show last night on PBS about hacking, Plot got spammed today after yesterday's post about World Peace. The spam was for a website called

Does this mean everything we write is being filtered into a giant advertising vortex? So quickly? You write it, they try to sell you something?

The Great Plotnik is thinking that we had better enjoy this Internet Paradise while we have it, because it could all be brought crashing down, along with all the people and nations it supports, by a Cub Scout Troop in Omsk. Or Milpitas.

"Doing it for the lols," it's called -- kids hacking into incredibly sensitive systems, just for fun, just to see if they can do it.

Most of those kids grow up and realize how destructive what they were doing can be. The others go to work for governments.

How about the kids who hacked into diabetes-control chips? People had had these inserted into their bodies so their physicians could monitor them from the doctor's office. The kids got into the master program and made blood sugar levels increase and decrease randomly. Just for the lols.

The point is that when you drive a car, it is only safe because everybody agrees it's better to stop on red and go on green. You don't need too many people deciding to change the rules to render the entire system unusable. You can't drive if you don't know if the other guy is going to stop. You can't get gas if John Muhammad is picking off people at gas stations with a high powered rifle. You can't even get your car started if little Boris Pilsk hacked into the chip that controls your ignition response.

Man! Plotnik needs to stop watching PBS. He's starting to sound like Nefnik.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Problem with Intimidation

Of course, the problem with the Meta World Peace situation is that if he hadn't done what he did, the Lakers could not have beaten OKC, and they wouldn't have ended up winning their division, and supposedly playing a softer opponent in the first round of the playoffs, even though Meta can now not play in that first round.

The team is probably not going very far anyway, but the point is this kind of violence usually works. We can deplore tactics that are meant to physically intimidate just like we can deplore negative political campaigning. But there's a reason for it. It works.

Every family needs an enforcer. In the Plotnik family, that enforcer is The Great Plotnik. You do not mess with Plot. Everyone knows that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Broken Monsters

Plotnik is sitting on the living room sofa, wrapped in a blanket. It must be 3am. He hears Ducknik walking up the stairs to check on him. He wonders if he should tell her about this dream that was so disconcerting he's been unable to close his eyes again. He has gotten out of bed to try and keep from disturbing her with his tossing and turning.

"Hi, baby," he says as she walks into the living room.

"Are you OK?" she asks.

So what's the answer? No, I'm not OK, because that was a really scary dream. Yes, I'm OK, because I know it wasn't real.

"I don't think I want to know about it," she says. Plotnik doesn't blame her. He doesn't want to know about it either. Duck turns and goes back downstairs.

"I'll be there in a minute," Plot lies.

Ducknik's theory about dreams seems right to Plottie. Dreams are loose wires, disconnected thoughts, fears and random observations, stitched together in your head like a bad screenplay. You see them on the big screen, as it were, so they seem real.

Well, they are real. But they're like a Chinese menu, one from Column A, one from Column B, one from Column C. All those synapses fired off in your head at some earlier time, and now here they are, randomly reassembled, in living color, filling you with amusement, or dread, or maybe even pleasure.

But how pleasurable is even the best dream you ever had?  "The Home Run Dream," as Ducknik calls it? You woke up. The pleasure is gone. It was a dream.

But the bad ones linger. Those fears you didn't know you were feeling, those intimate dangers, those tiny rooms you're afraid to go into, the houses with the leaky roofs, the admonishing voices from beyond, the exams you forgot to study for and you can't remember where the test is being given, and you forgot to put on your shoes or your pants.

And that awful disease.

And the children you love.

And how small and powerless we really are.

In the paper this morning there is John 'Shit for Brains' Edwards's pathetic mug. Blow it all away. Clinton. Blow jobs in the Oval Office. Coltrane. Heroin. Whitney. Coke. Michael. Painkillers. Every paper, every morning, nameless people acting out senseless crimes. Mass Murders. Suicides.

The neighbors always say: "But he was such a nice man. A good neighbor. I can't believe it."

Each of us, same dream, different components, a different solution for the basic fear.

Have a dream like the one Plotnik had last night and maybe it makes sense. You do what you do to achieve some kind of protection. Immoral, nasty, hurtful, you don't care. At least it will keep you awake. Whatever happens next is better, right now, than having to try to close your eyes and go back to sleep, where the broken monsters are.

Monday, April 23, 2012

World Peace

What a day it was yesterday, ending with a delicious ropa vieja cubana, the recipe for which Plotnik took out of Saveur Magazine, which got shared at the last minute with Mr. Silent and Ms. Mush. Earlier in the day, after giving up on the Shmlakers after Meta World Peace's elbow and sneer seemed to derail the team for the year, Plotnik got a text message from The Great PD telling him he'd better hurry home and turn on the TV because the game had gone to overtime.

Plotnik ran up his hill, Aubrey huffing and puffing, just in time to catch the Kobe Show. It's a little disheartening, but nonetheless extremely rewarding, to realize how much better Plotnik feels when the Shmlakers or the Plotzers come back and win an important game.

But what to say about that elbow? One thing for sure: if Meta had hit Plotnik or any of his readers like he hit James Hardin, we'd all be laid out on a slab today. It is probable that he didn't do it on purpose, but it is also guaranteed that he will be suspended for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.

Even Magic Johnson said it: "I'm a Laker fan, everybody knows that, but you just don't go up on somebody's head like that."

So Plotnik has to admit that these things are ruled by emotions. If he were not a Shmlaker fan, he would want Meta removed for, you know, forever. But being a fan, he thinks a one game suspension is about right.

Meta World Peace better thank his lucky stars that he didn't hit Nick Collison. All you sports fans know exactly what I'm talking about.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Feet, Maybe?

Plotnik received a spam post on San Francisco Theater Blog this morning that said "I like what you doing. Keep it up. Meanwhile, come see my website: RABBIT VIBRATOR." The temptation was great, but Plottie resisted. 

I wouldn't think a rabbit would want one. He'd want a GPS with an App for Best Carrot Patches. Maybe even a Groupon.

Meanwhile, Avanna and Monty knocked on the door this morning asking if they could pick some lemons so their mom could make lemonade and they could sell it from the front stoop.

Note the sign which says "lemanad $1."

Plottie asked if he had to pay too, since they had used his lemons. Monty said Plottie could have one for free.

Every neighbor who passed by bought one. The kids are rolling in cash.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Apple Blossoms

Yesterday, Plottie brought Neighbor Ray over to show him the garden at World Headquarters. Ray was once a city gardener and used to be very interested in plants and trees. But then his wife died and Ray hasn't been over in a few years -- he's moving more slowly these days. This time he was more interested in his old apartment than he was in Plotnik's garden.

Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White -- are you old enough to remember the trumpet riff that kicked off that Perez Prado classic?

Plot has probably told you he worked, years later, with the one-time sax player in that band, who had blown his big chance by drinking himself out of a gig. They lived out in East Los and his wife made great home made flour tortillas. And so it goes.

This year Plottie has noticed all the maroon irises that are flowering are right next to the cobblestoned path. It's got to be the extra heat trapped in those stones that is pushing the flowers to bloom. So next year he's going to put extra cobblestones into the garden and see if that will push some of the others.

Old Ray walks up and down the street, twice a day. Other than that he sits in his front room with the TV on but little volume coming out. He fell in his backyard two weeks ago and couldn't get up for half an hour. He won't get a Life Alert.

Plot tries to involve Ray in conversation.

"Ray, what do you think about my idea about the irises and extra heat from the cobbles?" he said.

"That apartment didn't used to be so nice," Ray said.

It was Ray who gave Plottie the slip of this white datura that has grown into a large tree where the old wooden stairway once was. Plot has tried to pay that forward several times with Ms. Mush and Silent Bill but the plants he keeps giving them keep dying. He'd like to ask Ray what he's doing wrong, but...

Ray and two other neighbors, Tony and Carlos, used to come over on Fridays and play pool on Lamar Odom when Lamar was a youngster, freshly installed in the big room Plot and Duck had renovated just for him.

Then Tony divorced Pat and moved away. Then Carlos divorced Audrey and moved away. Then Plotnik hurt his neck and it was hard to bend to shoot pool. So he stopped inviting Ray over. Then Ray's wife Pat died. And Lamar Odom got traded to South San Francisco for a sofa and two chairs.

Neighbor Ray said one thing yesterday: "Ya gotta remember. Some years some plants do good. Next year they don't. That's just the way it works."

That fern in the corner, under the apple and datura, is creeping across state lines to try and colonize the stairway. It seems to be the way of things.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

If He Were Talking about The Perfect Pitch...

It's a good thing The Great Plotnik stopped talking about his musical, because if he were talking about it he could bore you with the fact that his partner D-Blue was just up here for two days and they finally finished the book. The music was easy, the book is something else again. What is left is formatting and minimal stage directions. Should only take a few more (choose one: days __ months__decades__eons__).

Plotnik likes the fact that they eliminated one of their characters and combined two others into one. The bad part is that Brother Virgil, who was the Cosmic Philosophunker, has disappeared into history because his role had diminished down to almost nothing. The good part is that Plotnik gets to now add some of Brother Virgil's lines (and one song) to his own character The Duke of Earl. Plus, The Duke of Earl has taken over the role of BlueTooth, the intergalactic computer repairman.

Does this sound complicated? Oh, pshaw.

The reason is even simpler -- new shows have to be as small as possible. The fewer characters the better, because that means less actors to hire. And shows are also shorter than they used to be, as audience attention spans shrink. PP got around 10 minutes shorter and did away with two actors. Plotnik could tell you all about it, but he's not talking.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


We watched an old Anthony Bourdain food-a-logue of Mozambique last night. He said it has the best food in Africa, which we remember was pretty close to what PD and 5H said, plus superb music. Mozambique is across the channel from Madagascar, which is where that fabulous accordionist Regis Gizavo is from. We saw him at Jazzfest 10 years ago in New Orleans.

Make it 12 years ago, because that's where and when we first met The Great FiveHead, and she and PD will be married 10 years already this coming May.

Sunday night we saw a really excellent music movie called "Los Viajes del Viento" which didn't quite make Plotnik want to pack up, bring his accordion and move to Colombia, but made him think about it.

(It's on Netflix, in Spanish with English subtitles.) The life doesn't look so good for the people there, but the music is fascinating. Accordions again.

Why are there accordions everywhere? Probably because it's one of those instruments that anyone can play simply but few can excel on -- yet, everywhere you go, somebody can really play that thing. And you can't help dance when someone plays accordion. If there's one universal instrument besides a drum, the accordion is it.

Traveling is always about the music, the food and the people. It's been 'way too long for Plot and Duck. So we're back to thinking about Spain, which is Ducknik's first choice, though for Plotnik it would be Brazil, up North where the accordions are.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dee! Dee! Dee!

You can't say it any better than this -- the kid who kept striking out in clutch situations all day comes through in the bottom of the Ninth.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Yesterday, The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik got on the 280, switched to the 17, and then onto the 1 heading South. They ended up in Aptos, just south of Santa Cruz. They had driven this route many times when The Great PD was in college and were pleasantly surprised to see nobody has repaired the 17 and that it is still just as beat up as it used to be, and would still be dangerous and difficult to drive in foggy, rainy weather. Tradition!

But yesterday the sun shone bright. The Village Fair, which Plot noted with delight is not spelled 'Faire,' is a pleasant barn-like building that specializes in traditional furniture. Duck had found a vintage coffee table on line and she and Plottie were now driving down to make sure it was what they said it was.

It was indeed, and it was waiting for them, not twenty feet from that fine hat rack, which didn't have moose antlers but might have. Plotnik probably would have impulse-purchased the hat rack, but fortunately Ducknik was there. The hat rack stayed behind but the coffee table went into the Fritzmobile.

Plot and Duck probably passed close to Lamar Odom, the pool table, who now lives somewhere down on the peninsula. His old spot has now been superseded by a rug and a Mid-Century Modern walnut coffee table, which matches the Victorian Empire Style walnut red velvet bench/sofa. Ducknik thinks about these things.

Plotnik loves sitting in the Lamaratorium now. Maybe a vintage Pac Man machine?

Do not fear for Plottie's safety, dear Plotnikkies. Just kidding.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rain good for bulb irises...

...and for their bearded cousins.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Thanks to photographer Phil McGrew for this one. Last night was crazy here, with the kind of thunder and lightning people in Texas and the rest of the South are used to. For us, it's a rarity. The houses shook and car alarms wailed.

During TIAPOS, people would be reading their stories and then everyone's attention span would turn to the bright flash, and a few seconds later the ka-boom. A couple of those ka-booms were as loud and crumpling as an earthquake, which was Plottie's first thought.

Really, we are such puny little monkeys. When Ma Nature wants to put us to bed, she can.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Never Written Story

Sometimes things stare us right in the face so directly that we can't see them. Plottie is trying to convince his friend Chef Pickle to write her story about matzoballs, but after several Passovers she has yet to do it.

Pickle is the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. She has her own religious spirit now but it has nothing to do with going into a church. She is a French chef by trade so perhaps her holy book is Escoffier.

TGP has gone to six decades worth of seders and the food was usually not that great. It's hard to serve good food when you never know how long the plagues will take.

Once he was served lobster at a seder. That's like having a rack of pig.

The worst part was he didn't even realize eating lobster was forbidden. Ducknik had to tell him. Perhaps this is the story Plotnik ought to write.

And matzoballs? Everybody's mom or aunt opens a can of broth and then follows the recipe on the box of matzo. The soup is tasteless and the matzoballs are either leaden or invisible.

But Plotnik didn't realize that until Chef P. and her duck fat joined the party. She learned to cook from the African-American cook in her dad's church. That lady would be proud of these matzoballs, I guarantee it, though she might scratch her head at the duck fat when pig fat is so much easier.

Plottie would read the story. He wishes Chef P. would write it. We all have stories. They're usually interesting to everyone but us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Magic Stadium Opening Day

Thanks to Brother Two Names for this shot of Opening Day at Magic Stadium, nee McCourt Muck nee Rupert World.

This year is also the 50th Anniversary of Plotzer Stadium, so they trotted out many of the surviving members of the 1962 Opening Day team. Plotnik knew every one and still remembered their numbers. Criminy, what a boat load of useless information is his brain.

Oh, they looked old and grizzled. Many limped.

Here were the starters that year:

Only the guys without an asterisk are still alive. Darryl Spencer was introduced yesterday, limping badly. Maury Wills still looked like he could steal second if it wasn't tacked down.

Here's what Plotnik remembers about the 1962 season: one game playoff with the Giants. Please don't make him talk about it. OK, he will.

It's a day game and he wants to listen to the game but he is on the high school track team and everyone is running around the track. It's hot. Someone has a transistor. "Dodgers are ahead in the Ninth," someone calls. "Don't worry."

They keep running around the track. It's gotten quiet, like a storm is coming. Jim Davenport comes up. Everyone stops running.

Crack of the bat. Plotnik doesn't have a radio but he can hear the crack of Jim Davenport's bat. It still hurts. Can you believe that? It still hurts. Dodgers lost.

Flash forward two weeks and ask the Giant kids who were running around their track about Willie McCovey and Bobby Richardson: Giants lost.

Such pain. Maybe the pain lasts because we love it so much.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Town Ball

Have you seen the CSNBA documentary "Town Ball" yet? It tells the story of two Oakland basketball players, one (the legendary Demetrius 'Hook' Mitchell) who never makes it out, and one (Leon Powe) who manages to go to Cal, then on to the NBA and wins a world championship with the Celtics.

It's more interesting if you are familiar with local basketball players - starting with Bill Russell and up through Gary Payton and Jason Kidd and Antonio Davis - but even if you don't know these guys, you can't help wonder how any of these kids ever manage to grow up. Both Mitchell and Powe come from ridiculously impoverished situations, but as Powe says "there comes a time when you either turn left or you turn right."

The night before last we were all sitting around World Headquarters, talking about how tired our friends with young kids get, providing for their children, driving them to all their programs and events, monitoring their homework and classroom situations, enrolling them in every possible learning experience, making sure they get everything they need. Well, how about all those other kids? The ones who don't have even one parent, who live in foster homes or on the street, skipping school to care for their younger siblings, like Leon Powe did, or sinking into the world of petty theft and drug dealing, like Hook Mitchell?

We talk about economic inequality but are powerless to do anything about it. As the gap between haves and have-nots grows, between computerized and not, between educated and not, between literate and not, between having a vision of possibility or one of dead-end despair, how many millions of good kids will be bypassed and ignored, at best, or led, step-by-step into the penal system, causing how much sorrow on the way?

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Z's for Party Number Two, and a Lot of Fun at the Explo

A wise person (Peg Bracken) once wrote that if you bother to really clean up your house for a party, you should have two, not one. So yesterday the Zinfandinis came over for party two -- an early dinner and a game of Apples-to-Apples. As you can see, Sophia Zinfandini is growing up fast.

Last week, Hanky Girl invited Plot to the Exploratorium (look carefully at the above photo) for one of their After Dark Series exhibitions. This one was all about food.

One thing is for sure: if you reduce food down to science, it doesn't become any more appetizing.

(This one is a deconstructed hamburger. It took 27 hours to make -- probably longer than you or I would spend to prepare one.)

The series appears to be about dating and drinking. It's a singles bar for Geeks. (Good looking Geeks, Plotnik hastens to add.)

There are presenters all through the museum, surrounded by crowds of people, showing you how to sharpen your knives, or how your oven or your toaster work, or the point of sous vide cooking. The problem is there are so many people in attendance, and the exhibit areas are so small, it is basically impossible to see or hear the presenters most of the time. But the stuff you do see is really fascinating.

Many thanks to Hanky and the Explo folks for an evening that was as much fun as it was crazy. But the next steak Plotnik cooks on the grill will be done the way he always does it. It just seems more fun than submerging it in a sous vide bag for 72 hours at 57 degrees Celsius, then cooling it immediately in liquid nitrogen before finishing it off over charcoal which has probably been chosen for its carbon-neutral content.

But he wishes you could see the lobster with every morsel of shell removed from its body. That was one astonishing photo.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter With Eggs and Ham

It is Easter Sunday. Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate, with or without eggs, or ham.

Plotnik has always thought Easter seems like a fun holiday. Bad things happened and now they're reversed. It's like Passover -- bad things happened and now we eat.

Easter and Passover are almost always connected. You search for eggs and if you find the most eggs you win. You search for the hidden matzo and if you find it you get money. Moses leads his people across an impossible sea into the promised land of Canaan. Jesus disappears from his burial cave and leads his people into the promised land of eternal salvation.

Why did Jesus have to die? Jews can't ever figure that one out. It seems so unnecessary, if your father is who you say He is.

Why did Moses have to run through the desert? That's a hard one too. If He can bring forth boils and frogs, surely he could just choke Pharoah and give Egypt to you, if your partner in the operation is who you say He is.

All those paintings, done with so much love, of the Last Supper. Scholarship now says The Last Supper was a Passover seder, though none of the pictures show any women. How can you have a seder without women? Plotnik thinks it was more probably a meeting of accountants planning a fund raiser for the gift shop.

Easter is special to TGP and TGD. They spent their first weekend together in cold and windy Martha's Vineyard, Mass. They didn't remember it was Easter Sunday until the innkeeper banged on their door and yelled: "Get up! It's Easter!"

All these years later, and here they are in Saint Plotniko, which is kind of a holiday in itself.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Fifth Escape from Egypt

Thanks very much to The Great Mushnik for these photos. Last night's fifth seder at World Headquarters was even more fun than usual, and, if possible, Chef Pickle-Nik's matzoballs rose another notch on the delectable scale.

In the above photo, The Great Plotnik is trying to speed up the explanation of the seder plate, seeing if he can hold the seder down to as much time as it takes to poach Pickle's balls. Wait.

Being the youngest, for the fifth year in a row, Chef Pickle got to find the Afikomen, the successful endeavor of which she is seen celebrating here. As her payment, she received quite a booty: one John Adams Dollar coin, one Australian dollar coin and one 2-Euro coin. That's real cash, though it comprised two years' payment, since we stiffed her last year.

The Plotnik's really do need to find someone younger to be the youngest person. But, you know, Passover, which is supposed to be for children, is actually a lot more fun when only adults are around the table. You talk about anything. You drink, and the more you drink the more you sing. You stay around the table for hours because it's fun to talk about politics, from ancient Egypt to the circus of present day Saint Plotniko.

Pharaoh, whose hard-headedness was no match against vengeful Yahweh. Sheriff Mirkarimi, the Persian half-Jew whose non-Jewish half is a bully. Ex-Governor Romney, what a dolt. But a rich dolt. Like Sam says: "What exactly does this man have to offer as president?" Plotnik fears the answer may be "that he's not black."

Plotnik knows a lot of tunes of Chasidic songs, whose words are always literal biblical prayers. He would one day like to attend a Chasidic Passover, but maybe on line with bathroom breaks. He wants to ask someone why God would let the Israelites go and then enslave them up again 500 years later in Babylonia?

"God Works in Mysterious Ways" is bullshit, sorry. We want a better answer.

Slavery. Freedom. Slavery again. Every year.

An entire 10.5 lb. brisket yields maybe 7 pounds of meat. We ate maybe half of it, so there are sandwiches in our future.

What's the point here? That family is wonderful but friends are wonderful too. That holidays are sweet but everydays are also sweet, don't forget them. That using our heads is good. Using our hearts is good. Food always works.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Still Need More Deli Caps

Tonight is the first night of Plotzover, which always occurs on the full moon in the month of Plotzov. It is also Good Friday, the day when Jesus was crucified by the Romans. This makes it the Sabbath also, so we will have to (add during Shabbat) add the extra phrases.

Or do we? The truth is we don't have to do anything at all, or we can do everything the Orthodox do. We can be Jewnitarians or Chabadniks. Most people land somewhere in the middle. The Plotniks do what The Great Plotnik feels like, which is generally a lot of conversation, wonderful food, and enough of the service so people feel they actually got something out of it besides brisket.

But if She had only given us brisket, it would have been enough, Dayenu.

And it's not a joke. Plotzover is a tradition we adore. Religion is involved, but only insofar as we repeat a story born from belief. Do we believe that G Blank D parted the Red Sea, allowed the Israelites to escape - slowly - you cannot hurry a bunch of elderly Israelites - and then brought the angry seas down upon Pharaoh's army? Well...

We believe what we want to believe. Do we believe Phaoroh enslaved the Israelites and used them to build his pyramids? It's very likely. Do we believe Miriam, an Egyptian princess, found Moses floating in the bullrushes? Could be. Do we believe that after 400 years of enslavement (for us, that's equivalent to having been slaves since 1612), Moses rose up and managed to lead his people out of Egypt? Sure.

But if G Blank D did that, why did he let the Babylonians enslave the Israelites for few hundred more years, not long after they came to Sinai? I mean, come on. You want inconsistencies in the Chosen People Syndrome, the history of the Jewish people has them for you.

What Plotnik believes is far simpler.

FAR SIMPLER VERSION: It was good enough for Grandpa Ben and Grandma Eva so it's good enough for him.


Now, children, we shall speak of hats. As you know, the Great Arbiter, Grandpa Ben, wore a yarmulke at all Passover seders. So Plotnik got in the habit too. The reason is to keep your head covered as a sign of -- Plotnik isn't sure what. He suspects the Great Rabbi of Plovdiv was bald. Ben certainly was.

But yarmulkes are hard to keep on your head. They can fall into the soup. So why not cover your heads with a covering that means something, and will stay on?

The great delis of America, that are filled to bursting, are keeping our traditions alive every bit as much as the synagogues, which are empty 50 weeks of the year. There is a reason for this.

So Plotnik's aim is to acquire caps from the great great delis of America. So far, he has three.

But four men come to his seder, which means that until we get another cap from another of America's famous and fantastic delis, we will have to use the cap from The Great Ducknik's cousin Jimmy "Murph" Murphy's one-time thriving business.

There are two other possiblities: these two yarmulkes, which Plotnik found in his tuxedo jacket after he must have played for parties for the following people, back in Old Testament times before Satan invented DJs.

The maroon one has this inscription written on the inside: "Barmitzvah of Ben-Judah B____, 3oth of August 1990, Magain Aboth Synagogue"

The white one says: "Wedding of Hila and Doron Itz___
August 21, 1994."

Magain Aboth is the especially lovely main synagogue in Singapore. (They have two, just like the old joke: "The one we use and the one we wouldn't set foot in.")

We don't know where the other one came from. But the people have Israeli names, so it was probably the Sephardic Synagogue in West Stiletto. They both have to have been great parties, or Plotnik would not have kept the yarmulkes.

So (glasses are raised) Drink the wine! Eat the food! BZ, PD, 5H and BB your Papa will be thinking of you tonight. (glasses are lowered). Mummy P! Shmeckl! Little Bear! Nephs and Cuzes. Arzie and Shiela! Everyone!


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (on tV)

Take me out to the Mac Book
Take me out to the tube
Buy me the package from MLB
Let me root while I'm watching TV
Tell me why -- why go to the ball park
And spend nine bucks for a beer?
For it's Dee, 'Dre, Clayton and Matt
And they're all right here!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Here We Go

It's time to go pick up the giant brisket and start the ball rollin' always, there will be enough food for the Egyptians too.

Today: Buy horseradish. Check vodka supply. Dig potatoes. Cook brisket. Farmer's Market for apples. Check honey supply. Gather macaroon ingredients. Check soup bowls. Buy better chocolate than last year, because that's what your notes say, though you don't remember what chocolate you had last year.

Call Bron and tell her no gefulte fish again this year, even if she likes it. The year she comes, she can have gefulte fish.

Find the hagaddahs in the attic. The one with all the soup stains is mine.

Lots more to do tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Forward, Not Backwards

Thanks to Marc G for telling us about this article from The Forward (which you used to have to read backwards): The Ten Best Jewish Sandwiches in America. The list is totally screwy -- but it does include a few that make a pilgrimage seem advisable.


(If the link doesn't work, go to:


Just looking at that Katz's pastrami on rye makes Plotnik feel guilty about his more recent dissatisfaction with this Holy Grail of pastrami sandwiches. But, see, it's $17.95. The pastrami at both Eisenberg's and Langer's are $10 bucks. Sure they're half as big. But that's all you really want.

OK, you say, so why don't you just eat half a sandwich at Katz's then and take the rest home? Because, oh ye who hath never traveled East of Oakland, you CAN'T eat half a sandwich at Katz's. You can't. How about eating only one pickle? Watch half a great movie? C'mon, wake up and smell the dill weed.

This "Deli Board" in Saint Plotniko is on the list. The Deli Board? Never heard of it. Yes, Plottie will head on down to Howard Street very soon, but -- his expectations are low low low. A Saint Plotniko pastrami sandwich is like our pizza -- healthy! Organic bread! Low fat! Thin crust! Sun dried tomatoes! Makes a grown man want to pause his exercycle and weep thin, hi-glycogen tears.

Yesterday The Fly and The Noozle left to go home. The Fly loves his new name. He would torment his mom in one of various forms, and then, when she stared at him, he'd raise up his arms and say "The Fly Strikes Again!" You've got to love 14-year-olds, at least this one.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Noozle and The Teenage Fly

It's been fun to have Noozle and the Teenage Fly here for a few days. Formerly known as Fefnik and Vashnik, when they were formally aligned with Plottie's nephew Nefnik, now that they are all on their own they required new names. The Fly, whose real name in Farsi means something like powerful black stallion, actually behaves like the perfect Teen Fly. He bugs his mother constantly with the most perfect and innocent refusals to behave like she would like him to. He chuckles about it. She buzzes around in circles. He climbed the avocado tree yesterday. It's wonderful to see them.

In the afternoon Athena and Carlo came over with Baby Vaughn, almost a week old now.

Since Carlo and Athena and Noozle are all scientists and specialists in one or another form of cancer research, they had a lot to talk about, while eating guacamole made perfect with the addition of sweet Persian lime. Baby Vaughn sleeps and eats, sleeps and eats. He may be a cat.

They are repairing that old suspension bridge at Point Bonita lighthouse. It will open to the public in a few weeks. It's always beautiful out there on a sunny day.