The Great Plotnik

Thursday, January 31, 2013

He Has Eyes!

And a cat!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

24 (days)

Yesterday we posted about Fiftieth Anniversaries. Today it is time for the 24-day-old picture.

Monday, January 28, 2013


People don't usually get to have their mom come to their 50th Anniversary but Plottie's brother Schmeckl did. We were 70 or so relatives and friends in the back room of a restaurant in the hills above the city of Orange, and our two nephews threw a great party and put on a slide show. Mummy Plotnik stayed the whole time and was still having fun by just shy of midnight.

Plottie gave the toast. He thanked his bro and sis-in-law for always generously offering their home for all family functions and celebrations. He thanked his mom for not getting a hearing aid so she couldn't hear him as he also thanked her for liking him more than his brother, and for always baking him cookies for Christmas instead of the underpants she would give Schmeckl. He told everyone fifty years is a long time to be married to someone who only eats incinerated meat and who pours boysenberry syrup in his coffee.

He always tells jokes when he's in denial, especially about passing time. He remembers the only other Golden Anniversary he has ever been to, the one for his grandparents at Sportsman's Lodge when Plottie was 16. Grandpa Ben and Grandma Eva were old, and not just old but old-country old. Schmeckl and Little Bear are not old. There is an obvious disconnect here.

Plottie's stepsister Judy wrote the most beautiful and gracious note to Schmek and LB. It made Plotnik stop to remember the days when Mummy P. married the Chief and now the Chief's family and the Plotnik family were forced to try and get along. It worked well and it didn't work well, sometimes both at the same time. Plot realizes now that if the situation had been reversed, that is, if his mom had moved into The Chief's house, instead of the other way around, and he and Schmeckl had been forced to get along with their new stepbrother and stepsister in a new and alien environment, it would have been World War IV.

Sometimes it takes a lot of years to realize things that should have been obvious.

Like, for example, that your siblings are your siblings. Things are complicated. They can be your best friends, but it's not likely, because you spent the first decades of your life battling them as you tried to make your parents love you more. Or they can be like your Facebook friends, little more than a few sentences a week's worth. Usually, they fall somewhere in the middle.

And yet, when they feel joy you feel joy. And when they suffer, you suffer. That tribal thing is built in too.

And when your mom is having trouble remembering your name, you talk about it. And when your child has a new baby, you talk about it. And when someone you love discovers they have cancer, or your son has a new job, or your daughter is thinking about living far away, you talk about it. And when your big brother, who has known you longer than you've known you, and his amazing wife, who is still as beautiful as she was when you were 14, somehow, impossibly, complete fifty years of a marriage as convoluted and high-wired as all marriages are, it's an accomplishment that defies the odds.

It makes you bubble over with Big Happy.

So you stand up, make a few jokes, then raise your glass to them, and to yourself, and to all of us.


(Thanks to the Faranoozle for this wonderful photo of the two of us...)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Same Old

It's Saturday morning in Stiletto and there's plenty of coffee. Mummy P. got three cigarettes in while sitting at the kitchen table while Plottie cowered in the back bedroom with the door closed. "Plottie? Don't you want any breakfast?" she kept calling.

It's possible she doesn't remember she's not supposed to smoke inside. But, more likely, she says to herself "Hey, screw them. It's my house."

Plotnik has to admit he would say that too, if he were in her shoes. Speaking of her shoes, the ones she's going to wear to tonight's big party, Mummy P. and Gloria are already fighting about them. This means the pre-party has started.

Smoke aside, it's great to be here. We'll have fun tonight.


After some thought, Plotnik has decided this -- speaking of yesterday's comments about homeless people at Venice Beach.

The homeless at Venice are vagabonds and ruin the beach for other people, but they do it because they can. Why shouldn't they? The city chooses to do nothing.

The homeless in the Tenderloin in St. Plotniko are drug addicts who ruin the streets for other people, and they also do it because they can. Why shouldn't they? The city chooses to do nothing.

Plotnik is not overly sensitive to the needs of people who ruin things for other people just because they can. It's like your downstairs neighbor playing really loud music at all hours of the day or night. You can deal with him, one way or the other, because you know where he lives.

You don't know, and you don't want to know, anything about homeless people. Not talking about poor moms with their babies living in shelters, but about drunks and crack-heads and meth-heads lying on the sidewalk in their own piss. Maybe you're not sick of it. Maybe you're sympathetic to it. Maybe you live in the suburbs.

Plotnik doesn't have an answer either, but he knows that Santa Monica and Venice are gorgeous beach towns that are under seige and have been for at least a generation. It's not good. It really isn't.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Venice Beach: You Can Have It

Venice Beach looks lovely, when you just look at the water.

Plot stayed at his friend Dave's apartment on the beach last night, right on the beach. It's kind of amazing -- one of those old, beat-up buildings with a trillion dollar location. Dave doesn't even live there anymore -- he moved into his new wife's house down the road, but he has kept his apartment and makes a small killing renting it out to tourists.

But the thing is, Venice Beach, which used to be sort of fashionably seedy, has now become pitifully so. There is a medical marijuana shop every fourth building with the patrons calling out to you like racetrack touts to get you into their shop so you might sample a joint for your to-be-decided medical condition; this wouldn't be so awful except the low-lifes hanging around the pier in front of the pot stores now make it almost impossible to walk down the boardwalk. The sand is covered with wet sleeping bags, homeless stoners screech guitars and yell all night long, piles of garbage are everywhere and some of them have people inside them. 

Maybe it was always this way -- but, no. Venice was always one of Plotnik's favorite SoCal hangs. Now he'd rather be sleeping in the furnace room at Mummy P.'s. That's where he is right now. The Duck flies in tomorrow because Schmekl and Little Bear's party is tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yende and Nkosi

Have you all heard of Pretty Yende? Plotnik's friend Captain Crow turned him on to her this morning. This five minute video will remind you of what happens when two incredible voices cut straight through to your heart. Keep in mind that everyone in this video, including Yende and her male counterpart, are, or were, township kids from South Africa.


Pretty Yende

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Perhaps Plotnik was harsh in his review of Kelly Clarkson yesterday. He had heard only the first two stanzas of the patriotic song she was singing because he ran out of the room before she could do him any more damage. On the news last night he heard the end of the song and her voice sounded fine. It was in tune and loud, which is a step up from out of tune and loud. Just because she got her start on American Idol doesn't mean she can't sing loudly. So, Kelly, take this as a sincere apology from your fellow American small-i idol, The Great Plotnik.

(Before Plotnik apologized, he looked up the word "apology." Then he called his friend Lance Armstrong, who said "just tell your readers you are sorry for whatever they are all, like, upset about, and then pretend you care."

(Plotnik does care. He is afraid he is starting to sound even more curmudgeonly than in the past. He does not want to be the American Grumpus.)

He was also somewhat critical of President Obama's speech, and that wasn't fair either. Today, the news agencies are all lauding the President for, basically, not apologizing to the Republicans for winning. This is considered "more presidential and more confident."

Plot is on his side, though a pie in Mitch McConnell's face would not have been received with frowning in these quarters.  And it was nice to read all the accounts of Michelle's dresses and gowns. It is heartening to realize the nation still cares about important things.

Like Downton Abbey. To paraphrase Maggie Smith: "Oh, you Americans. I piffle in your poofle."

OK, OK! Sorry. Sorry! I mean it. Sincerely.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"And Now, Stevie Wonder."

Inauguration Comments

If you're going to sing 'Oh Beautiful,' a song everyone knows, sing IT, not 'Oh Kelly Clarkson I'm So Cool I Can Almost Even Sound Black But Not Too Black But Not Too Country Either And I'm Too Stupid to Remember the Real Melody." Not her, please.


Is there a clergyman in America who does not suffer from Godophosis, also known as Mike Fever? Couldn't they find that guy?


The poet was great. Why couldn't he do the benediction?


Barack, I'm sorry you've gone gray. But I know why. I had a teenage daughter once too.


But see, Mr. President,  I keep wanting to be lifted out of my humdrum shoes when I hear you speak. The problem is I heard you do it once. Remember Reverend Wright? That speech inspired me. I was ready to walk through fire for that man. Why don't you ask me to do that anymore?

Bill Clinton never made a great inauguration speech either. Maybe you all are trying too hard to please everybody.


For my Inauguration Speech I would say this: "The country needs A). And B). I intend to accomplish  both of these things. Help me or get the f* out of the way. God Bless America. And now, Stevie Wonder."


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Comic Book, A Cat and a Doll

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and Congress

Last night Plottie watched the first episode of Season 4 of Breaking Bad. Damn! That Gus is one mean chicken salesman! Plotnik really loves this show. It does not glorify meth, but it deals with the interior lives of the people wrapped up on the production line. And we care about those people.

But he only could watch one episode last night, because The Duck wanted to watch the Frontline about Obama's first year, when Gingrich and the Republicans decided to fight him on everything, just to see what might shake loose. The country is reeling and the Republicans say screw the country, let's sabotage the Democrats and get this man out of office. To Plotnik, this documentary was a thousand times more scary than Breaking Bad, and after ten minutes he had to leave the room. It was unwatchable.

Then he went upstairs and saw an old episode of the Sopranos, where Tony's sister murders her boy friend, that scumsucker Richie Aprile, and Tony and the boys have to get his carcass out of her apartment. Now, THAT'S entertainment! Plottie is thinking about starting completely over at Episode One and watching them all again. After many years, this is still his favorite TV show ever.

Breaking Bad and the Sopranos are violent, and don't even TALK about The Wire. They all glorify creeps. But they feel real, honest, and in their way redemptive.

Watching the Republicans and Democrats battle back and forth about the most inconsequential nothings, while avoiding all the hard decisions that only a united leadership could begin to deal with, is not redemptive. It is putrid.

OK, it's good to remove high capacity magazines from new assault weapons, but it would be better to get the old assault weapons off the streets, and better yet to make it a law that everyone who has one must turn it in immediately, and better yet that if you don't turn yours in and you get caught you go to prison for a long time.

It would be helpful to put an age limit on miserably graphic video games -- say 18. If a 12 year old kid is spending his day playing Grand Death Anthrax the parent pays a huge fine. Period.

It would be fantastic to actually talk about economic inequality in America, not just cajole Walmart to put up a short-lived big box store out on Third Street. Nobody has any answers to the problem yet, but a national dialogue about it would certainly be better than pretending the problem does not exist.

And this dialogue has to turn into a discussion about education and the sad fact that American schools cannot turn out the workers our own industries need. We need immigrants because they are better educated. And in this way we are able to continue on to a dialogue about immigration.

Or, we can fight about the mythical debt ceiling or whether or not Joe Blockhead deserves to be the next Secretary of the Silliest.

Fawgeddaboudit. Carm asks Tony: "What really happened to Pussy Bompansero?" and Tony itches a little bit and then says "Witness Protection." Yeah, right, Tony. Heeheehee. I love this show. At least it's just TV.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Right On, Woody

To quote Woody Allen from the Sunday NYT:

"...There are worse things than death. Many of them playing at a theater near you. For instance, I would not like to survive a stroke and for the rest of my life talk out of the side of my mouth like a racetrack tout. I would also not like to go into a coma, to lie in a hospital bed where I'm not dead but can't even blink my eyes and signal the nurse to switch the channel from Fox News.

"...Worse than death, too, is to be on life support listening to my loved ones in a heated debate over whether to terminate me and hear my wife say: 'I think we can pull the plug. It's been 15 minutes and we'll be late for our dinner reservation."

"What worries me most is winding up a vegetable -- any vegetable, and that includes corn."


The Great Plotnik has to agree with Woody, especially the first two sentences. Who in the world ever convinced us that going to the movies, instead of watching the film from your comfy couch, was a pleasurable experience? Are you nuts?

We went to see "Lincoln." We got there 15 minutes early, and were bombarded by incredibly violent and stupid ads, which are bigger and louder and 'way worse than TV and you can't turn off the volume. And these were just the ads. Then the previews began: six of them, indistinguishable from each other and from the ads. And then the disclaimers and requests for the patrons to turn off their cell phones, but first, for a special prize, tune in those cell phones to some website for more ads. Also, would the audience refrain from loud conversation, farting and the use of firearms.

The Great Plotnik agrees with the part about loud conversation. And he has NEVER used a firearm at the movies. Too bad they didn't give that request before the show started at Ford's Theater.

Going to the movies does get you out of your house, but so does foreclosure.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Groupon Haiku


I see new Groupon

I buy two because, you know.

They expire. I don't.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

He Might Be a Jets Fan

We just got off a very pleasant Google Plus video call with Belly Bone and her brother Des Bone, plus The Great 5Head, who looked great because the baby actually slept some last night, and The Great PD, who went ice skating yesterday with Isabella.

We miss them all but will see them in February. Meanwhile, it's "cold" here, ah ha ha ha, sorry all you Easterners, but we soft Shmalifornians chill easily.

The Great Plotnik now has two Bay Area teams he loves rooting for, The Santa Clara Carpetbag 49ers and the soon-to-be-Saint Plotniko Warriors. The Niners are really fun to watch. They're one game away from the Superbowl now.

But you know. If it were the Plotzers, Plot would be packing his bags to head East. But he doesn't have that much invested in the Niners. He just doesn't like football as much as basketball or baseball, plus he didn't spend all (count 'em) all his previous years rooting for them.

How many years? Yesterday one of the guys in the Treasure Island basketball game asked Plottie how old he was. "How old do you think?" was Plot's answer. The guy thought about it and said "...52?"

"Heh heh heh, nice guess," said Plotnik, wishing he didn't remember how much better a basketball player he was at 52.

Yeah, of course, it's terrific to still be playing full court basketball with 20 year olds. But it'd be wonderful not to be the worst player on the court all the time now. But guess what? It's better to be the worst of the best than the best of the worst.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


What would we do without Santadora?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Heartbreak Photo

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

New Baby on the West Coast, Two Beauties in Brooklyn

Plot decided to celebrate DMK's arrival the other day by finally biting the bullet and buying himself the electric guitar he's been wanting for some time. He's got a name picked out but he'll have to consult the Superstition Department first. In the meantime, the guitar sounds great, and would sound a lot better if Plot's electric guitar chops were not so minimal.

TGD is talking on the phone right now with TG5H about DMK, who is apparently still sleeping all day and up all night, like a teenager. Very advanced for his age.

Here he is with B-Bone before she had to leave for school yesterday morning.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


It's Day Two for Baby Des, who gets to feel the love from his Mom, his Dad, his Auntie B and his big sister, once known as Baby I.

And if you want to see the true definition of the word "happy?"

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Desmond Miles

We got the first text at 12:06am our time. They had just gotten to the hospital. Then, less than two hours later, the phone call: "You have a grandson!"

Desmond Miles is a bruiser -- 8 pounds 14 ounces, but kicked his way out of there in a hurry, less than four hours of total labor and Staci only had to push three times.

'Way easier than with Belly Bone.

Late last night, when Dan and Staci dropped Isabella at her friend Marley's house to sleep over while they went to the hospital, Belly got out of the car, rubbed her mom's belly and said: "Don't worry Mommy. This is the best day of my life."

Then, this morning she called the hospital. She asked if the baby had been born. Staci said yes. Isabella asked what it was. Staci said 'it's a boy." Isabella screamed "IT'S A BOY!!!!" and hung up.

Wow. Big Sister and Little Brother. Papa and Bobo get to do this again.

The blessings just keep on coming.


He's a boy! He's a boy! He's a boy!

Huge! Eight pounds fourteen ounces!

Mom, baby and daddy fine!

Heard him cry on the phone! Awwwwwwwww! News to follow!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

What a Day

The fridge was empty, as is the plan, when we got back home yesterday, so this morning I walked down to the fruit stand to get valencias and blood oranges for juice, milk and bananas for cereal, half and half for coffee, plus a few ripe avocados and butter lettuce to go with the arugula and kale we'll pull from the garden tonight. The sky is brilliant blue, it's a perfect, clear Shmalifornia day for walking or biking down to the farmer's market in a little while to fill up the rest of what's missing.

Just spoke with The Great PD, but only for a short time because he was outside and it's freezing in The Shmapple-- 21 degrees this morning. We beat it the hell out of there just in time.

I mis-spoke yesterday, blaming Taylor Swift for the potty-mouth lyrics of Katy Perry. My mistake. When BZ and B-Bone were singing all the songs the other day I hadn't done my due diligence to determine a particular song's origin.

Congress acted. Our worries are over. The republic is preserved. More importantly, Plot and PD got Rhode Island Christmas ties.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Taylor and Isabella

The poster finally arrived, and it seems to be a big success. Taylor Swift and Belly Bone. Who'd-a thunk it?

Well, Plotnik would. He listened to a bunch of Taylor Swift songs over the holiday and he has to admit several things:

They're catchy.

They're not insipid.

If anything, they're way too old for her. But they're not trying to talk down to her either.

So Isabella is done with princesses and fairy tales and she now loves songs that have to have a clean version to accompany the dirty version. But even the clean versions have lines like "You PMS like a girl..." Can a 6 year old understand what that means? Does it matter?

Look at her with that poster. The late-arriving Christmas present knocked one out of the park.

We're home. (Sigh) Nice.