The Great Plotnik

Monday, December 30, 2013

Baby Cat and Pounds of Bacon

Sunday, December 29, 2013


We had few hopes for this cat in Providence. Feral, skittish, terrified of his shadow, BZ believed he just needed a little time. And now Iggy is a big, beautiful boy.

Only BZ can pick him up so far, but last night he consented to climbing onto our bed for two-person head scratches. 

He seems to enjoy Atlanta and soon he'll get a shot at Boulder. 

Meanwhile, today we drive into South Carolina to see Diecie Niecie and family, plus meet Baby Catherine and share in the Annual Oyster Fest. Iggy can't come because he has a nap planned.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mt. Bluesmore

Friday, December 27, 2013

Atlanta: Trombone Player in Santa Hat Walking Past Coca Cola Sign

Poor JJ-aka-PP, whose water heater blew out right before Christmas. Not just blew out, but exploded and ruptured its side, sending water cascading through the house. Not only that, but did you know that when a water heater ruptures and the water pours out, it signals the water heater to ask the water supply for more water? So water keeps coming in from the street and pours right out the ruptured side of the water heater. The water ran for several hours, soaking several rooms, before anyone could do anything about it

Insurance, yes. But a lot of dislocation coming up, starting tomorrow. The Duck has been helping her seester pack up her stuff for the last two days. Let TGP state right here that JJ has the best attitude in the world. She is one impressive lady.

Meanwhile Plot and the Great BZWZ have been making the rounds of car dealers. Subaru, Honda, VW, Hyundai so far. But they all cost more than they're worth and you have to deal with car dealers. 

"Say there little lady, how can I help you today?"

"Well, Bubba, you can stop telling me you don't care whether or not you make a sale, that you just want to build a relationship. I don't want to dance, I want to buy a car."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in Atlanta

Monday, December 23, 2013

Unexpected Present

By Atlanta based GP Travel Correspondent Bubba Q.

Unexpected Present

Two women have brought a loud, yappy poodle onto the plane. It's two days before Christmas. The plane is packed, it's very hot, the overhead bin space is filled, we've already had to gate-check our carry-ons, it's taken fifteen minutes just to file down the aisle to get to row 34, and there seems to be even less leg room than ever. I wedge myself into my row and fall into the window seat. The dog's owner has the window seat directly behind me and the poodle starts to yap as soon as its owner sits down.

The first ten yaps are more surprising than annoying, kind of like someone pounding on a radiator for heat. But we are about to fly across the country and it's getting louder.

After twenty or so yaps, I turn around in my seat and see the dog's head sticking out of its owner's carry-on. Its cute little white curls look harmless.The woman who has it on her lap has on a man's shirt, wears a crew cut and a red baseball cap. Her companion in the middle seat smiles at me with a shrug. I turn back and take yesterday's Sunday Times out of my seat back.  

The dog starts to Yap, capital Y. People in our row look at each other. I try to read. The front page features an article on how airlines are shrinking the distance between seats and passengers are beginning to fight back with deliberate sabotage. The dog is really barking now,

I turn around again. The woman in the middle seat stares at me. I stare back at her. "Well, we're sorry," she says, staring at her partner holding the dog, then back at me. The other woman is speaking baby talk to the dog.

"Mommy's here, it's ok, mommy is here, sweetheart, I love you, mmmmmm, mommy's..."

"YAP," screeches the dog. "YAP! YAP! YAP!"

The human baby in the aisle seat in front of us starts to cry.

"Waaaaah!  Wahhhhh,"




My wife,  sitting next to me in the middle seat, starts to laugh. It's Christmas. We're fucked.

I realize that the baby doesn't bother me as long as the dog is barking. There is a primary and secondary irritation thing going on. The baby is a baby human. My ears must be biologically tuned to accept that sound. The barking rodent behind me is not a child, no matter what its owner thinks.

"Mommy's here, sweetheart."



"Don't worry. Mommy's here."



OK, Christmas, my ass. Now I am seething. An airplane with no empty seats and a screeching poofy dog. We taxi and take off. Now, the change in altitude makes the dog and the baby crazy. The dog is yelping like it's tail is being stepped on and together with the baby we've got amplified Chinese stringed instruments at the volume of amber alerts on your cell phone at 3 am. 

I cannot reach my headphones because I have stowed them in my carry-on in the overhead bin.  I turn around again.

"But we gave her a sedative," says the woman in the middle seat.

"Give her another one!" says an older woman on the aisle.

"But that baby up there is crying too..." The woman in the middle seat begins, but I'm not going for that.

"Nahh," I say. "People bring babies on the plane because they have too. You brought a dog on a crowded airplane at Christmas, not because you had to but because you wanted to. You didn't care about the rest of us, only about yourselves and your little dog."

The woman looks down. "I can see how you would feel that way," she says, apologetic. But she smiles at her friend holding the dog. She shrugs again, while the other woman continues to stroke and coo softly at the screeching animal.

am being careful here. Women usually only have shaved or bald heads for one reason, but we are flying out of San Francisco. If the lady is just butch it's reprehensible behavior, but if she's sick, well...

The sedative might be taking hold. The dog is calming down. I start to notice the baby.

I say to Barb "I need to get my headphones..."

The young guy in the window seat in front of me turns, reaches over his seat and says "Here." He hands me a small plastic bag. Inside it is a Hershey's Kiss, a red-wrapped piece of chocolate, two pieces of bubble gum and...a set of green ear plugs.

"Ear plugs," he says, pointing to the crying baby. Taped to the inside of the plastic bag, along with the candy and ear-plugs, is this nicely-typed note:

"Baby's first flight. Thanks for your patience."

There had been one of these bags on my seat too when I got on the plane. I figured it was some Delta Airlines propaganda so I hadn't paid it any mind. The young parents of the baby had distributed these bags to everyone within three rows of their seat.

The thoughtfulness of that gesture takes me aback. In the great scheme of things, does one person's thoughtfulness cancel out another person's selfishness? The dog has stopped barking, so yes. It can. it's Christmas. 

Life is a series of journeys inside one large voyage. We are all trapped on this one and we will be here until we get off. I eat the Hershey's Kiss. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013


The following post was written by Great Plotnik World Fashion Editor Bud "Pretty Toes" Bialik.


"My misguided friend SaculTahtTon just published a comment that said, referring to women's feet: 'Nobody looks at the shoes anyway.'

"Oh, my poor man. You just don't get it, do you? If this were true, women wouldn't spend three times what men do for a pair of shoes. If this were true, there would not be more mani/pedi shops on Hcruhc St. than places to buy water. If this were true, women would not tear up their achilles tendons and lateral menischi wearing stilettos. Perhaps, TahtTon, you are not aware of this, but (I have heard that) even naked women in porno movies, for whom getting naked is, after all, the point -- are never completely naked -- they keep their stilettos on."

Thank you, Pretty Toes, for this edifying post. It reminds The Great Plotnik of one of life's mysteries that he was never able to unravel. While a teenager, he spent great amounts of time at Sorrento Beach. The teenage women in the itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis, his chronological age,  whose acquaintance he ached to make -- "ached" is not nearly a strong enough word -- seemed to spend all their time sitting on their blankets putting on toenail polish.

Plotnik thought then: "Is anyone really looking at this woman's feet?" But would he voice this out loud? I think not.

Once, Joan, a platonic (which does not and never did rhyme with "Plotnik") friend, who was wearing a white lacy bikini, whose bottom half contained a small black belt, not that Plotnik can still remember it after all these years, asked Plottie: "Do you think my toes look good?"

Honest answer (unspoken): "Oh God do you REALLY think I am looking at your toes?"

Given answer: "Why, Joan, they are lovely."

Many thanks to Pretty Toes Bialik. Well, time to get the chain saw and trim my toe nails.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Set of Tiapofs Pfotos

Tiapos Becomes Tiapofs

One Night
One Holy Night
Tiapos became Tiapofs
It Seemed So Right

Thursday, December 19, 2013

One of Life's Great Pleasures

A Christmas bourbon ball with a large cup of coffee.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eleven Seasonal Rants!

Getting ready for the Tiapos Christmas Party: cooking. Cleaning. Figuring out where to put everyone. This is always fun. If everyone comes, we will have eleven seasonal rants. It's always a high point of the year.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Whales, Porpoises, Sea Lions and Otters

Wow, what a day. We forget how cool Santa Cruz is, part happily retro and part university town, and perched on one shore of amazing Monterey Bay. This year there are warmer currents in December, which means upwelling, which means unexpected blooms of anchovies, which means sea lions, dolphins and whales.

First came the once-a-week ukelele gathering at The Crow's Nest on the beach -- at least 100 people with ukeleles of every kind, playing Crosby Stills and Nash songs while standing on the sand, along with a string bass and bongo drummers. They set up music stands for the people who couldn't figure out the three chords in each song. The sound all those voices and mellow string instruments make, right there on the beach, was as sweet as sweet gets.

We say: "I could live here!" followed immediately by "Could I live here?" followed right afterwards by "Maybe not..." and then "...but maybe?"

The Stagnaro Company runs these whale watching boats. The Great BZ and CZ, Plot and Duck got on the boat at 11:45. It took close to half an hour to motor out to the Soquel Trench and Monterey Canyon, and then we saw the swarms of birds, which meant sea lions and the sea lions meant whales. Sure enough.

Pods of perhaps  200? 500? sea lions jump in and out of the water.

You watch them and then you see the spout and then the enormous fin of a humpback whale as it emerges, usually with a buddy to the side. What has happened is the whales have dived down up to 300 feet deep, gathered up an enormous mouthful of water, then surfaced with their mouths open. Fish that they haven't swallowed fall right out of their mouths and the sea lions and dolphins scavenge them. This is quite a sight to see.

From the perspective of the anchovy, maybe not so much. The best they can hope for is to escape the whale into the mouth of a sea lion or dolphin.

The dolphins themselves are up to fourteen feet long, graceful as a symphony, but no more graceful in the water than the sea lions. If you look closely in the foreground below, underwater, you can see the green body of a swimming dolphin.

Wow. Shmalifornia ten days before Christmas. All this and ukeleles too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Rare Stone

Cousin Seattle sports an earring made from Eggplantine, a rare metal found between babagannoushian layers of stratified carbonificerous caponata. 

It also comes in white and Japanese.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Best Photos of the Year

We remember what a great year we have had when we try to put together all the Best Photos of 2013 into an I-Book. This one, from last February, will be on the cover. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

2013 Annual New Pin Party

It was a great year for Desmond, but also for traveling. There is research and "research." The blue is for BZ's research trip to Sulawesi. The reds are for Plot and Duck's "research trip" to Venice, Bologna and the island of Sicily.

This is a high point of every year. There are never enough new pins, but always plenty of great food. By the way, here BZ is replacing an Atlanta pin with an Atlanta pin.


Making pasta, with and without Supervisor


Broccoli in Walnut Sauce

Pappardelle with Scallions and Oil Cured Olives

Duck making Sicilian Datteri

Mitchell's Bliss

(many thanks to Cousin Seattle for these photos)