The Great Plotnik

Monday, September 30, 2013

Stiletto and Padrón

Coming home from Stiletto City after a weekend visiting Mummy P. always leaves us exhausted, a little congested, a little sad, a little hopeful, a little perplexed and a little amazed that this woman just tosses aside the things she can't do and continues to do the things she can.

These days, that is mostly eating. She has gotten into that protected spot on the Parcheesi board where they can't send you back to the beginning so why not eat whatever and whenever you like? None of us can keep up with her.

Last night Lilian made pupusas con curtido, and we listened to Salvadoran music sitting around Mummy P.'s dining table. Saturday, Shmeckl and Little Bear came over to barbecue, and later on Nefnik and his girlfriend came too. Nef, Plot and Duck sat up until into the wee hours talking about just about everything.

Saw a document on Saturday from the tax assessor for the paid property taxes of Rose and Sherman for the house on Angus Street in Silverlake for the year 1946. How much do you think they paid?

If you said $200 or more you're wrong.

Ricky remembers it was a big house. Plot remembers the trap door in the closet that took you down a ladder to a basement, out of which you could walk onto the hillside. Then, there was nothing there but dirt and an old grocery store; today, at the bottom of that hillside is Trader Joe's and all the craziness of Hipsterville, L.A. Houses start at a million bucks and head north.

In 1946: maybe they paid $10,000 for that house. Maybe.

Above photo: one padrón pepper, by hiding in and amongst the tomatoes, snuck by us and turned red, If any more do that, the plant will turn off and that'll be it for fresh tapas. Right now, there are still plenty of padrones on the plants and tonight we'll eat whatever we can find. Kind of like Mummy P.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Anniversary Present from the Datura

There it was, sitting across the bench this morning as Plot and Duck walked outside with their morning coffee, sun shining, hot but not too hot, breezy but not too breezy, a day quite unlike 9-26-70, which Plotnik remembers as extremely hot, but he was so terrified you can't take his word for anything about that day.

Seems to have worked out pretty well, so far, though he and Duck are still on one-year contracts, like Walter Alston. You gotta be an old Dodger fan to get that one.

Plot got lucky, that's all there is to it. No other explanation for it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

She's in Her New Apartment

And many, many thanks to JJ-aka-PP and to Paco, otherwise known as M-Dad, for all their help. Family a is wonderful thing.

TGP adds his own thanks to Paco for his very sweet note the other day. Yes, it's true that the Plotniks were able to help out Monica all these years ago, but the truth was she deserved one night at the dinner table. The rest, she earned, just by being who she is.

And now she's in Atlanta too so the extended family just grows.

Pretty cool-looking place, from the picture, and the rent will send all you Shmalifornians to your Crying Place.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Best Lomo Saltado Since el Caserio

So, what can be better than French Fries soaked in gravy? The onions, tomatoes, fries and gravy are spectacular all by themselves. Add the skirt steak -- ai yai yai.

Limón on South Van Ness.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting Playoffs Tickets and UPDATE!

The Great PD would have pulled this off. He's the one, when he was twelve, who used to talk the cashier at the movie theater into letting him and his friends into an Over-18 movie, and then ask her for a child's discount.

The Great Plotnik, however, is busy ministering to his flock and has no time for Twittering. Well, he has the time, but he doesn't appear to have the lingo or the knack.


No problem. He and Ducknik will only be in town for the first series anyway, probably Plotzers versus Musials, and since the series starts on the 3rd, that would probably mean October 6-7-8, games 3-4-5 in Stiletto City, and ya never know about Game 5.

Looking back, Plotnik asks himself: "HOW COULD YOU?"

Well, how could anyone imagine, when booking airline tickets for a trip to Italy, that the Pitiful Plotzers could become the '27 Yankees? Plotnik had given up on the season already, and even when his team started playing well it didn't seem within the realm of possibility they could make it into the postseason.


Got a code? Get a Kleenex.


Cousin Mike is king! Two tix, Game One, First Round. $50 a ticket, plus $300 for pastrami at Langers! Wooooo hoooooo! 

Yo, Punk! Wedding, shmedding!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's 8 to 1, Kiwis

We went down and sat on the seawall in the Marina today and watched the Kiwis beat the US again, so they are ahead 8 to 1 in a Best of Nine. They would have wrapped up the America's Cup in the second race of the day, except the wind picked up and they had to postpone the last race until tomorrow.

You can pay $115 for a seat in the grandstand, or you can walk in front of the grandstand and sit with your feet dangling over the water for free. I suspect nearly everyone in the stands is from New Zealand. When they announced the Kiwi boat had won the race (we couldn't see the finish line from where we were) many flags were unfurled in the grandstand and there was a lot of cheering.

Not many people in the concession areas, though. Didn't hear anyone cheering either. But it's kind of a shame. It's awesome to watch these boats roar through all the wind and changing currents.

The best seat in the house was reserved by the sea gulls.

Let's face it. America loves football, not sailing. This boat race has nothing to do with either America or national pride and it is little else but a contest that incredibly wealthy people play against other incredibly wealthy people. But the boats go faster than the wind itself, and the technology that keeps them upright is right out of a futuristic science book. It's still about sailing and skill, in the end, not about Larry Ellison and his Alcatraz-sized ego.

It was a fabulous day. Duck kind of forced Plot into going, and he's very grateful he went along for the ride. Gorgeous day over the water? How can you beat this?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BZ and Chris In The Slow Lane

BZ had the mahi.


Chris had the ahi.

This evening took place somewhere on the island of Kauai. I can hear the ocean, and taste the slice of pineapple in both their drinks. 

They're flying home today.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Desmond Should Be Sleeping


Saturday, September 14, 2013


If you look closely you'll see that Farallon Restaurant puts a lot of ammo into serving you two oysters each. It's not really the Plots' official Anniversary for almost two more weeks but last night was the night we could get into Farallon. Today is BZ's birthday with the 0 on the end, but since she's off galavanting on Kauai, we can talk about the Great Plotnik and Great Ducknik's night on the town last night.

Farallon is an old-fashioned fish house, wrapped up in Jules Verne jellyfish, subdued lighting and an attentive waitstaff with a person for every task. A beautifully dressed young woman does wine and drinks, a waiter in tie and jacket takes your order, several unsmiling busboys clear glasses and plates the second they are empty and bring extra servings of Acme Levain bread before you finish chewing. The fresh bar (called Jellyfish Bar, of course) is busy all night. Maybe it's not global warming that is chopping down the glaciers. Farallon uses a lot of ice.

Plot usualy poo-poohs 'atmosphere' in a restaurant, but he has to admit you feel like you've been somewhere special because of it. The reason is probably that the food is not secondary to the look. It is all delicious.

 Of course, you pay for all of this, even with a Living Social coupon. And everyone knows the best fish in the world is served on the beach where the fishermen bring it in. Given that, and despite the fact that the Half Pound Maine Lobster (Half Pound? Yes, Half Pound, including the shell.) appetizer yielded exactly two bites each, the two main courses were both as spectacular as any fish dishes either Plot or Duck has ever tasted.

One was a Thai Snapper, seared and served on a bed of leeks, and one was halibut in a smoky pimenton sauce, not quite soup but not quite not soup either. P and D split each main course and couldn't decide which was more delicious.

Oysters, lobster and tuna poke, snapper and halibut, and lemon cake and sassafras granita afterwards, plus an espresso to wash it all down, left the two Almost-Anniversary guests full as the whale after Jonah moved in.

It's good to try these places. You probably don't go twice, so sample it all. Maybe Farallon doesn't rank with Chez Panisse but it is certainly right up there with the great ones.

Of course, this led to conversation about the best fish dinners ever -- and both seemed to be in Mexico -- Plot's experience in Tehuantapec where they caught the huge rooster fish and smoked them overnight in a corn cob smoker, and Duck's snapper kabobs on the beach outside of Puerto Vallarta. But the kingclip and Mozambique shrimp in Capetown are on the list too. Don't forget those stupidly delicious lobster rolls in Deer Isle.

Incidentally, it sounded like just about everyone in Farallon had a coupon. And, channeling the Great Mushnik, we even found parking on the street. The coupon paid for the tax and 18% gratuity and 4% SF employee medical charge, and the free parking paid for a quarter bite of lobster.

The only people in the place wearing ties were the waiters. The manager wore the only visible suit.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dr. I Dunno Time

Just got done seeing Dr. I Dunno, Wadda YOU Think? for my yearly physical. Going in, I remind myself how lucky I am to live in a country where preventative medicine exists, where that surely-fatal phugginoma on my big toe can turn out to be a wart.

I have been using my Dr. U-Flossem trick, with the Dr. I Dunno Variation. That is, instead of flossing thirty times a day for the three days before I go in to get my teeth cleaned, with the Dr. I Dunno Variation we eat only fish and chicken for two weeks before my yearly physical. It's working. We feel weak. We're hallucinating. The weight is flying off. We've each lost, oh, one ounce.


Everyone who works at Kaiser on O'Farrell either speaks Spanish or Chinese. They joke with each other in their own language about every person they deal with.

"Hello. I am here to see Dr. I Dunno, Wadda YOU Think?"

"Thank you, please drop form in little brown box."

(turns to friend and says in Chinese)

"Dumb round-eye. Doesn't even know what to do with the form. How many times has he been here?"

"I hear he has this potentially fatal thing on his big toe."

"Motha fucka gonna die for sure."

"Ha ha, yeah, really."


Dr. I Dunno asks me what I am doing about my cholesterol. I tell him we have changed our diet.

"Really?" he says.

"Yes. We eat a lot more chicken and fish."

"Ah, that's good. What about cheese?"

"What do you mean, what about cheese?"

"Do you eat a lot of cheese?"

(weakly) "Well, cheese isn't..." (weaker) "...hamburger..."

"You know, cheese is just a solid block of cholesterol."

"So I should stick with lamb chops?"

"Go take your tests."


"Hello. I am here to have my blood tests."

"Thutty Dolla."

"Wait, upstairs they just told me one yearly physical exam is free."

"Exam free. Blood tests thutty dolla."

"But blood tests used to be free."

"You use to pay thutty dolla faw yearly physical exam."


"Now, it free."

"But back then you were free. Now you're thirty dollars."

"Health care system working! Please put form in little brown box."


He says they can freeze off the wart.

He says the pain in my left elbow is tendinitis.

He says as you get older, shit happens.

If I keep the computer turned off,  I won't see any test results.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Sell Out? Move...Where?

Went last night for dinner with friends Eric and Jen at their especially gracious home on Pine Street. It is really nice when one of you paints and the other takes photos and the house is filled with original art. But Plot thinks they're going to lose these friends to Paris again, one of these days.

That question is coming up again -- where would we live, if we didn't want to live here anymore? At least for the moment Great World Headquarters could be sold to a 28-year-old with cash falling out of his and her pockets, at a price high enough to allow a substantial purchase practically anywhere else that we would want to live. But where would that be?

We had the same conversation with friends Pip and Steve the other night, at the premiere of their daughter Caitlin's short film. We've known Cait since she was 11 and she was destined to be in the movies. So she's in L.A. But her parents ask themselves this same question -- cash out now and move...where? Where would any of us rather live?

Capetown? That would be really nice, probably the best choice of all. But Plot complains about being so far away from his family already. Valparaiso, Chile? Extra vibey, but too small and nobody can speak Chilean Spanish except Chileans. Lisbon? Gorgeous, a lot like Saint Plotniko, with great weather and culture...but the Portuguese are so dour, so melancholy, so caught up in the glory of the past and the empty outlook of today. The Spanish are a lot more fun, but where? Barcelona? Why? Certainly not bullfights.

Honolulu? Nobody who is from there stays there and nobody who moves there escapes Island Fever.  

London? Paris? Watsonville? 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Guess Where the Beezer is Right Now?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Help Out The Great PD! Today Only!

If any of you would like to help Dan out, here's how you do it: go to the above link, look at the short video (or not -- it's Dan presenting his case to South by Southwest judges), and then vote for him. You have to go to a bit of trouble by creating an account, but it takes just a few minutes and will help him a lot.


Apparently, these conferences have become popularity contests, so the winners are determined pretty much by how many people vote for them. Like it or not -- that's just the way it is. But in this case Dan is talking about educating teachers, and that's always a good thing.

Thanks, fellow Plotnikkies!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Aloha, Enchiladas and Sarah Palin...Sarah Palin?

Aloha to the Beez. Sand. Drinks with umbrellas. Surf. Orchids. Enjoy.


This morning in The Great Plotnik World Headquarters Kitchen we have just finished making guajillo red sauce for enchiladas, the traditional New Year feast...somewhere.  The red chiles are smoking up the whole house, both inhabitants are coughing and wheezing. Duck is hiding in the parlor. I am down in my studio with the door closed. It'll be worth it.


Cousin Michael said it right -- and if he is really quoting Sarah Palin it pains me to agree with her: let the Muslims fight it out among themselves and let Allah sort it all out in the end. We have absolutely no business making things worse in that part of the world.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Riding on the New Bridge

 It was worth driving to Oakland just to get to cross over the new Bay Bridge, 25 years in the making. The earthquake was in 1989 and it took until ten o'clock last night, September 2, 2013, to get the new one built and opened up. It's quite a marvel.

Still, when you get off, you're in Oakland.

And God help us if there's another earthquake.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day Party

Gettin' ready for the Labor Day party -- cutting flowers from the back yard, making sure the bbq has been washed off, moving furniture around, figuring out where people might sit or stand -- but in the end what you do is plan whatever you can and then move out of the way, hoping everybody doesn't bring three-bean salad. 

The Snowy Valley Voice crowd has been meeting at Great Plotnik World Headquarters on Labor Day for close to all the twenty years the Plotniks have lived here. Once, it was because we were one of the few families who actually owned a house, now most Snowy Valleyans have moved out, including Sal, the Publisher of the Voice, who got priced out years ago.

The Voice itself used to be the best small newspaper in the city. Interesting articles, stories, poetry, even a yearly literary contest. Then, hard times hit. Now -- well, it looks like it's put out by the Real Estate Council. It's all about ads - you can read it in five minutes. But the paper is still in business, and that is truly saying something in an era of bookstores closing and newspapers disappearing. 

The lead article this month is about Phoenix Books being for sale -- the last Noe Valley bookstore on the avenue. What a pity this is. We've all been buying books there for decades, then taking our old books back to the store for credit, that we use to buy more books. Most of what we bring goes into the Free Book bin on the street. When Phoenix Books goes it will be replaced by another real estate office or financial broker or poofty home furnishings store. In some ways, 24th Street is going the way of Brooklyn -- death by popularity.

Our houses are worth a bundle, though, so they say.

Plot made green curry for the chicken and two kinds of pickles. Ducknik made a coffee cake, the kind that goes really well with three bean salad. There are soft drinks, that go into the cooler, and then after the party come back out of the cooler and back into the pantry because nobody drinks sodas anymore. People bring cheap wine and it all gets consumed in plastic glasses, except for whatever Bill L. brings, which he and Plot will take over to a corner and drink in proper wine glasses. 

It's too bad Labor Day doesn't fall in May, when the garden looks so magnificent. By September, things are dried out. This year has been hotter, so there are tomatoes and peppers still out there, but as for flowers -- pocas. Not many. A few purple agapanthus, the eternal fuscia and, up until a few minutes ago, white roses on the ancient bush that keeps giving every year, despite receiving no fertilizer, little sun or proper pruning. Ducknik has put together a pretty rose bouquet combining white roses with the wild pink shrub rosesfrom the pant that Plotnik gave up on fifteen years ago, so his ex-neighbor Dana just threw it in the corner of the backyard. Didn't plant it, just threw it in the ivy. It gets bigger every year, especially now that we have so much more heat. Looks like lavender in that bouquet too.