Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hello Kitty

During my weekly supermarket jaunt today, I passed Cara Mia, a little shop along the way to the post office in Manoa Market Place, one that’s carried basically the same merchandise for years (Japanese imports) under a variety of store names.

(My favorite store name was “Mashi Maro” with a pudgy marshmallow-resembling mascot.)

There to greet kids outside the shop’s doorway was Hello Kitty, the kiddie sensation that swept the nation decades ago and is still a favorite among elementary school girls.

So I whipped out my cell phone and snapped a picture. Unfortunately, it was a bright morning, Hello Kitty was white, the table was white, the sun was reflecting off the walkway, and the cell phone camera is unforgivable. Consequently, the picture is flat and some of the Kitty costume details aren’t discernable. But I post it anyway, 'cause I want to.

One little kid in a stroller was terrified, and the mother had to calm her down by saying Miss Kitty wasn’t real, and just a person in a costume.

Not real? Hey!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

They’re Gonna Close in September!!

I just found out this morning that the Zippy’s McCully Restaurant, one of my regular breakfast stops (including this morning), will be closing for a while in September to undergo renovations.

My friend Gerald Kwock was having breakfast in the booth next to mine and we had a chat about the recent Collectors Expo at the Blaisdell. (Gerald is one of Hawaii's most noted – dare I say “notorious” – collectors of any and everything under the sun.)

As I was munching on my pancake sandwich, I heard the waitresses telling him they were going to close in September. So naturally I had to join in the conversation, as I have breakfast there often. Of course, we all started reminiscing about the changes at the McCully restaurant. Gerald and the waitresses are old-timers; I am a relative newcomer, having only started to go there in the late ‘70s.

Apparently, Zippy’s is going to add capacity to the place – 15 more tables for a total of 40 – and make it a more open facility, which should be great for its patrons.

Good for them! I will be anxiously awaiting their re-opening, but will have to make alternate arrangements for breakfast in the interim.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Hawaii Local Accent, Part 2

Play a game with yourself. Next time you meet someone who you think is from Hawaii, ask them to pronounce the word “council.” If s/he says “couns-oh,” you’ve found one.

Apparently, many from the Islands have difficulty with “il” or “el” syllables. Instead of pronouncing it as “ell” (couns-el), they’ll say “oh” – couns-oh.

I never really noticed this until a particular person was elected to the Honolulu City Council. He was always referring to the governing body as the “couns-oh,” and himself as a “couns-oh-man” to the point where it began to get on my nerves. I was sorely tempted to write to him and correct him, but decided against it.

Those with this … er, affliction, will refer to a pencil as a “pens-oh,” and a stencil as a “stens-oh.” They’ll call a manual a “manu-oh,” and a rebel a “reb-oh.” There may be other examples, but I can’t think of any others right now.

So if the person you test proves this point, make sure you give him some gentle counsel. Okay?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Manoa Valley Post Booth

As requested, here are a couple of pictures of the Manoa Valley Post booth at the Hawaii Collectors Expo this past weekend.

You can see that chimpanzee and gorilla figurines crowd the left half of the front table. The other half consists of trinkets and covers to attract the non- or casual collectors. The important stuff is on the back tables.

Each day, I displayed different items up front. By the last day, more than half of the figurines had been sold, so I put up mostly high-powered material (rather like an exhibit).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

As you know, I’ve been at Honolulu's 2009 Collector’s Expo all weekend, selling my wares at the Manoa Valley Post booth.

Directly across the aisle from me was this guy Al, who kept lugging in cartfuls of stuff – driftwood, wood bowls, paintings, coins, trinkets, knick-knacks, collectible figurines … you name it!

He had his button collection on display and I tell you I’ve never seen one quite so nice as his. He had the whole shooting-shebang up for sale for the bargain price of $5,000 (gulp). Needless to say, he didn’t find a buyer.

But I did get a chance to snap pix of the collection. Enjoy …

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2009 Collector’s Expo

I’ve been manning my "Manoa Valley Post" booth at the 2009 Collector’s Expo these past couple of days, with one more day to go before this year’s exhibition closes down. The Expo is at the Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall in Honolulu.

Whenever I got the chance, I asked my booth neighborhood to watch my stuff for me, and took quick wanders around the hall to snap a few photos so I could share them with you.

Check these out:

Making the Chips Fly at the Woodturners Association Display

Invasion of the Sea Creatures!

Expensive Ukuleles at the “My Dog Has Fleas” Booth

Awrightie ... that's enough. I'm bushed and am going to bed so I don't over sleep tomorrow and miss the last day of the Expo.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Curses! Foiled Again!

This seems to be the week for foiling thieves. Again today, I woke up to news from HLN’s Christi Paul about a robbery gone wrong.

Patrick Rosario of Bellevue WA, recently laid off from his bank job, was working in his basement when he heard noises upstairs. So he crept up the basement stairs, peeked under the door to his living room, and saw men stealing his flat-screen TV, DVD, and other items, including his wife’s jewelry box.

He managed to sneak out back door, and found the thieves’ white van there, motor running with the keys inside, obviously so they could make a quick get-away.

Mr. Rosario called 911, had a light bulb go on in his head and without hesitation, hopped into the car and drove it away around the corner.

When the thieves came back out, expecting to load the stuff in the van and leave, all they saw was … nothing. They ended up leaving Mr. Rosario’s things piled up at the front door and fled.

Mr. Rosario wasn’t charged for stealing the car. “In retrospect, it was probably one of the dumber – and smarter – things I’ve done,” he told reporters.

I kid you not! Don’tcha just love it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Woman Gives Thief a Wedgie

I perked up this morning as I lay in bed drowsily watching CNN’s Headline News, when Christi Paul uttered the word “wedgie.”

She introduced a news segment where Yvonne Morris, a technician at the Brickyard Animal Hospital in Salt Lake City, described how she caught a thief she saw stealing an iPod and debit card out of a parked car.

Ms. Morris yelled at the receptionist to call the police, ran outside, stood in front of the car he was driving, confronted the guy and blocked his escape.

According to Ms Morris: “I told him, ‘You're pretty much done, the police are on their way.’ First I grabbed his sweatshirt, and he bent over and wiggled out of it, and as he took off running this way, the only thing I could grab was the back of his pants, and it was his underwear.”

If you’ve ever been the victim of an “Atomic Wedgie,” you KNOW how hard it is to run. The police arrived and arrested 21-year-old Frederick Baze, charging him with burglary, possession of stolen property, and outstanding warrants.

I kid you not. Ahhh, that made my day … better than a cup of coffee!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Startling Monday Walk Discoveries

A couple of items of interest that occurred during our Monday walk at Waterfront Park merit discussion. Soon after we began our walk at the Diamond Head end of the park, we noticed this:

Taken in as a stand-alone sight, without the benefit of further information, it was quite startling and raised a few questions in my mind: What happened here? Was it vandalism? And if it were, why weren’t there any give-away marks on the chunks?

Well … about 20 feet away were more clues. In particular, the seawall ledge was cracking along its length:

My curiosity was assuaged by simple logic. Apparently the state had contracted with someone to remedy the danger posed by the cracks (someone walking on the ledge might be hurt if it gave way while the person was on it).

I hope they fix the problem soon. The broken ledges are ruining my beautiful park.

The other thing that caught my attention was this:

The tire ruts ruined a beautiful grassy knoll and left dark scars on the hillside. I don’t know if it was vandalism at its worst, or a careless state worker or contractor. Whatever and whoever the cause, they’d better fix it; the tracks are ruining my beautiful park.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Winter Feather’s Touch

A winter feather fell from sky, meandering its course
Defined by breath and happenstance, with others from the source.
It caught the crystal brilliance with diamond glory flush
And paused to rest within a wisp, then lifted with a rush.

I held her there in soft embrace,
I looked into her eyes,
She smiled at me and gave me hope,
A symphony of sighs.

Soft down of Heaven so unique, a messenger, a dove,
A feather born of Earthly dew, created high above.
Then touched emotion, passion deep, and goodness from His hand,
It left its home and twinkled down, to destination land.

I felt the snowflakes on my face,
I saw them on her lashes,
I heard the rushing in my heart
In heated burning flashes

Like dandelion stars at night that fill and shiver air,
It fluttered down with such delight in dark, so unaware.
A multitude it found in crowded millions of its kind
And rode the crest of winter wave, a course it did unwind.

Around us flew a sea of snow
Romantic in its splendor
They spoke to us and lifted hope,
Encouraging surrender.

The feather joined the drifting deep that blanketed the world,
And nestled there among the bank, its crystal arms unfurled.
Its journey over, now complete, the winter feather lay
With dreams of lovers standing near, in perfect end of day.

Our lips, they felt the icy tingles
Then pressed in loving bliss,
We melted in each other’s arms
And shared the pure snow kiss.

(I wrote this poem in 2006 after seeing news coverage of a late-spring snowfall on television.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Unexpected Accent

Every now and then, an actor will appear on a talk show, speak with his or her normal voice, and surprise the heck outta me with a foreign accent.

Take this morning for example. Naomi Watts walked onto Regis & Kelly Live, sat in her chair, and began speaking with an English accent. I didn’t know she was from England, I thought she was American through and through.

After all, she didn’t have a trace of accent in the movies I’ve seen her act in – The Ring series, King Kong, The Painted Veil, Eastern Promises, and the trailers for her new film, The International.

Just goes to show you how versatile these top actors are.

By the way, Ms Watts was born in England and moved to Australia when she was a teen. But I didn’t detect any trace of an Australian accent in her English accent.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Viva Les Senior Citizen Dogs!

Every year around this time, I retire early and turn on the TV to watch the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the marvelous parade of beautiful purebred dogs, the most beautiful dogs in the world.

I even watched Martha Stewart this morning. Not that it’s on my regular watch list, but I was going to turn off the TV when Westminster spokesman David Frei was introduced. I sat back down and watched as he introduced several of the show dogs, culminating with the over-all winner. I wasn’t going to pass up seeing these beautiful animals once again.

A Sussex Spaniel won Best in Show this year – 10-year-old "senior citizen" Stump (formal name “Ch Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee”) survived a medical scare that nearly took his life, and came out of his 2004 retirement to become the oldest dog ever to claim the Best in Show title.

Watching the Westminster Dog Show inspires numerous “Wow” moments for me as the stunning dogs (each top in their breed) trot around the competition ring. My personal “Top Wow” moments included the retrievers and setters, and some of the terriers and hounds. Their beauty can bring me close to tears.

And, don’t you just love the dogs’ registered names? Stump’s father is “Ch Three D Genghis Khan,” and his mother is “Ch Clussexx Sprinkled With Dew.”

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show … Wow!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bird Mystery Solved

Thanks to my friend Rebecca, who did some Google searching and found a similar-looking bird (albeit with different feather coloring), the “mystery bird” has been identified as a Common Waxbill (Estrilda Astrild), aka St. Helena Waxbill.

I followed up with her tentative identification and found a website that pictures the waxbill in all its color variations. Voila! There it was.

Wanna see two Common Waxbills snuggling? Check THIS out:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mystery Bird

We decided to walk around Magic Island today, across from Ala Moana Center. The "island" is a manmade extension of Ala Moana Beach Park, with its entrance near the bridge into Waikiki.

You may recall that our Monday walks have been exclusively at Waterfront Park in the past. But today was a good day (a beautiful day) to make a change. Somehow, Mondays have turned out to be the most beautiful day of the week. At least, it’s been sunny and bright almost every time we’ve done our weekly walk.

One of the joys of walking is the discovery of new things. Today, it was the sighting of a species of bird that I have never ever seen before in Hawaii, or anywhere else I’ve been, for that matter.

I did a quick search on the Internet when I got home but couldn’t identify the bird. Maybe you can help? If you know what bird is perched atop this blog, please let me know. Thanks!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Deep Thoughts

This sign in the men’s room of Battista’s Hole in the Wall in Las Vegas made me pause and ponder my future.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Carnival Crowds

I used to enjoy going to carnivals and fairs, but year after year of helping to plan and run the 50th State Fair, and doing the publicity and advertising for the Iolani School Carnival have a way of dampening one’s enthusiasm.

Y’know what I mean – been there, done that.

I could very easily go to the Punahou School carnival that’s going on as I write this, right down the street from me, no more than a 10-minute walk without the hassle of finding parking. But I’ve had enough of noise and jostling through the crowd.

This time of year is always something to grin and bear. Our residential street is lined with carnival-goers’ cars, and at times in the past, they’d encroach upon our driveways and make it difficult to leave and enter our garages.

Thankfully, the curbside most adjacent to our driveway has been officially designated a “no parking” zone for the benefit of the rubbish trucks, giving us and our neighbors a space to place our rubbish bins for the mechanized twice-weekly pickups. Carnival parking traffic relief is an unexpected benefit.

I’ve been coping with all of this for years now. I always come home early on Friday to beat the horrendous traffic in a five-mile radius of the school, do my grocery shopping early on Saturday and get back home before the Saturday night crowd arrives, and stay home on Saturday night.

One has to exhibit tolerance y’know. After all, the carnival is there for a good purpose. Bless the school and its kids.

My son Jim went today, and brought home some malasadas for the family. Bless his heart. What a guy.

Punahou Carnival Malasadas (Portuguese Doughnuts)

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Mandalay Bay Shark Reef

For quite some time now, I’ve wanted to see the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. For some reason, whenever I was with someone, they just didn’t want to go there. Finally, I went by myself a few days ago.

It was a disappointment.

For one thing, it’s a helluva long walk from the entrance to the Shark Reef. I swear it’s a quarter- to half-mile walk. You head for the sign and when you get there, you have to round a bend and head for another sign. Over and over again.

The price isn’t all that bad – $17 or so. I’ve paid more than that to enter aquariums in other cities.

But, if you’ve ever been to a great aquarium, say in New Orleans, or Monterey, or Vancouver, or Chicago, or Chattanooga, you’ll have to agree that the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef doesn’t cut it as a world-class exhibit. It’s accredited and all that, but its offerings are minimal. For example, the shark tunnel that they tout in their advertising is short and unspectacular.

I talked with a couple and their kid as we exited the place. “What do you think?” I asked. “Kind of disappointing,” they replied. “Would you come back?” I asked. “Nope,” they replied.

My recommendation: Skip it; It’s definitely not worth the long walk to get there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Las Vegas is Changing (Again)

I just got back from Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas, my first re-visit since I was there in September 2008, and found a few changes you might find interesting.

First of all, there’s a new parking area at the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign at the south end of the Strip. When I was there in September, they were still working on it. It’s done now and no longer will daring tourists have to park their cars illegally then dash across the busy boulevard to have their pictures taken at the sign.

Tommy Bahamas at the Primm Valley Fashion Mall has expanded its men’s area, taking over half of the former women’s area. Their shirts are still pretty tropical and outlandish.

And speaking of the Primm area, the casino and resort are now owned by Terrible’s. The casino still looks the same, however – no apparent changes there. But be prepared to register for the Terrible’s slot card. The old Primm Valley Resort card won’t work anymore.

The Antique Mall on East Flamingo Boulevard next to Blueberry Hill and Olive Garden restaurants closed abruptly. It was open when I was there in September. I talked to people at Antiques at the Market, and the Charleston Antique Mall, and they said it surprised everyone, especially the sellers who had been set up there.

The massive City Center on the Strip is still taking shape. I’m always fascinated by the Veer Towers, which lean in opposite directions (five degrees from center). Stare at them too long and you begin to lose your balance.

But some things haven’t changed. I’m happy to report that accordion player Gordy, the old guy, is still delighting diners at Batista’s Hole in the Wall Italian restaurant.