Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blasted Computer Game

The wife and I had planned to go on a Navy tour of the Arizona Memorial today, but we had to postpone it.

Why? Because I got involved in a computer game last night and didn’t get to bed until 3 o’clock this morning. Consequently, this morning I woke up too late and I’m more sluggish than a slug.

That’s okay … we’ve rescheduled for tomorrow. The memorial is open all day; admission is free, no reservation is required, so there’s no loss of anything "real world" involved in this decision.

The game that consumed me last night is called Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, which I bought and downloaded a couple of years ago. Basically, you line up identical gemstones to accumulate points. Easy to play, fairly easy to strategize and set up your next move. A good game to keep a retired mind active.

I was on a roll last night. My previous high score was 861,936 gems, which I attained a couple of months ago. Right now, I have the game on pause – on level 44, with a score so far of 2,337,181 gems.

When I qualified for my top 10 scores list, I thought I’d keep on going to see if I could reach my previous high score. Then, when I exceeded that, despite my drooping eyes, I went for a million. That’s when it got silly. As you advance up the levels, successful moves result in higher scores. The game sucks you in deeper and deeper.

So, what started out as a short half-hour session turned into … are you ready for this? Seven hours.

My legs and butt were numb, and my vision was blurry when I finally called it a night. But y’know, that blasted computer game is just sitting there, teasing me with the 2,337,181 score and tempting me to add on to it.

Maybe another day. It’s not going away.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

That’s Just Plain Mean

Poor little kitty. It was the Philadelphia cat’s misfortune to bump into 19-year-old James Davis, who grabbed it and mummified it in duct tape.

Nicknamed “Sticky” by animal welfare workers who came to his rescue, the cat was dehydrated and had to be sedated while they worked arduously to carefully remove the tape from its fur.

Davis admitted he commited the heinous deed on Monday, wrapping Sticky up in tape, shoving him into a shopping bag, then dumping the sweet kitty into a neighbor's yard. He faces a maximum fine of $1,000 and two years in jail.

The cat’s owner has not yet been located.

This is just one more sign that the Apocalypse is coming.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Be It Resolved ...

WHEREAS, Craig’s #2 car's battery failed today, necessitating a call to the Automobile Association of America; and

WHEREAS, Craig’s wife contacted her friend who owns an auto repair shop and told him we were bringing our car in for a new battery; and

WHEREAS, the Automobile Association of America’s response was timely and efficient with the diagnosis given within minutes of their arrival, showing a cold cranking amps (CCA) reading of 169 CCA, which is well below the battery rating of 550 CCA; and

WHEREAS, the Automobile Association of America recommended replacing the battery and advised Craig that they could install a new battery on the spot at a discounted price of $109.75; and

WHEREAS, Craig’s wife advised him that she didn’t want to call her friend and cancel the battery purchase, requiring a drive to the auto shop; and

WHEREAS, Craig tolerated two additional hot and uncomfortable hours at the mechanic’s shop waiting for his old battery to be removed, the new battery to be delivered from the auto supply store to the shop, and for the battery to be installed; and

WHEREAS, the wife’s friend charged him $140 for the new battery, waiving the labor charges

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Craig will never again accede to his wife's sentimentality, and will go with his first instinct, which in this case was to buy the battery from the Automobile Association of America respondent who was already on the scene; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Craig will recommend that all who read this should do the same in a similar circumstance.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bird-Munching Frog

There’s a new bully in town. And he’s an ugly ol’ cuss. Okay, not in YOUR town, not in MY town, but definitely in Southeast Asian towns.

Scientists at the Sakaerat Environmental Research Station (SERS) in Thailand found the little critters – Limnonectes megastomias – “fanged” frogs that eat other frogs, insects and birds.

They’re apparently selective about where they live, are only found in three remote areas of medium-to-high altitudes in eastern Thailand.

It’s one good reason why we’re not going to Thailand this year. I can only imagine the horror on my wife’s face if we happened upon one of these, heard it crunching away, saw it picking feathers out of its teeth, and spitting out bird beaks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Honolulu’s Cat Lady

You can find her at Waterfront Park in Kakaako every day, tending to the feral cats that inhabit the area.

She is Honolulu’s “Cat Lady,” as far as I’m concerned, one of perhaps many who keep the kitties there furry and purry.

We’ve had chats with her during our regular walks in the park, but I’ve never asked her what her name was. I rather think she’d prefer not to have too much publicity, and in deference to my supposition, I’ve chosen not to reveal her face here.

One has to admire what she’s doing, and yet at the same time, wonder if she’s contributing to the burgeoning feral cat problem in Honolulu. I doubt very much that the cats have been spayed, and where you have a clowder, you have both males and females, which results in kittens.

I haven’t spotted any little kittens yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there somewhere.

At any rate, my hat’s off to the Cat Lady for providing daily food and water to the felines who wander through Waterfront Park.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Zen of Car Radio Music

Sometimes there just isn’t anything quite like listening to the radio while driving down the highway – especially when the windows are closed, the a/c is on, familiar songs fill the car and you can sing along to your heart’s content. That’s what I do, anyway.

Radio music in your car greatly enhances the driving experience. If you’re on a road trip with your windows down, tearing through wide open country, you want rollicking rock and roll music so you can join in at the top of your lungs.

If you’re driving along a coastal highway with the stars glistening on the open sea, you want to listen to a station that offers something a little slower and dreamier.

Although I’ve driven in both situations, I’m usually somewhere in between. My choice is usually oldies from the ‘50s or ‘60s, because I grew up with that music and know a lot of the lyrics.

In Hawaii, my oldies station was KGMZ Oldies 107.9 for years, for so long that I can’t even tell you when I first set my car radio dial there.

But like all good things in life, things must change. The station has expanded its music to include much from the ‘80s, a period that I don’t particularly care for, despite the fact that I did listen to Top 40 pop occasionally, contemporaneously with the era.

Just recently, I discovered Hawaii's 99.5 The Jewel, which plays music from my favorite era. It’s an easy-listening station with the sounds of Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Connie Stevens, the Four Preps, Smokey Robinson, mixed with a few easy-listening contemporary artists … well, you get the idea.

It’s soothing music that calms me down in traffic, the only time that I listen to radio music.

Sometimes when I’m heading down that freeway on the mainland, say in Las Vegas, I prefer to listen to Golden Oldies rock and roll (if I can find the right station) so I can rock out loud all by my lonesome. I say “right station” because oldies stations have come and gone. It’s so sad.

But there’s no reason for that in Honolulu. The roads are much too crowded and it just doesn’t feel right anymore. Honolulu requires calming music.

For me, that’s 99.5 The Jewel; I’ve made it my default station. Bye-bye, 107.9, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Intriguing Signs

A couple of signs were encountered this week that gave me pause, and a chuckle.

This was kind of like Jay Leno’s Monday “Headlines” feature, which makes one wonder if anybody was thinking when they put the signs together.

Of course, I do know what they meant when they wrote what they did, but still, it’s fun to speculate, imagine, and assign more fanciful meanings to the particular arrangement of the words.

“Quall Egg”? Of course, they meant to write "Quail Egg." I did a Google search for “quall,” with only three results, one of which was a story about the Quall family crest and name history.

The other two were about U.S. Rep. Dave Quall (D-40) of Washington State. He’s served for seven terms, which means he’s had plenty of time to lay a few eggs during his congressional career.

I just never knew they entered the open market (specifically, Marukai Market in Honolulu).

I saw this other one on a window of the Golden City Restaurant in Honolulu. The Chinese food restaurant is located on School Street, on the way toward the Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi.

White fungus (aka snow fungus or silver-tree ear fungus) is used in Asian cooking. If you’ve had soup in a Chinese restaurant, chances are pretty good that you’ve already had it.

But I love the juxtaposition of the words. I have a mental image of a chicken walking around the barnyard telling friends, “Don’t come near me, I have white fungus disease. See?”

Now admit it, didn’t that just creep you out?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Broke a Rule … Inadvertently

This week, I gave in to an impulse and joined a membership store – Marukai Marketplace in Honolulu.

For years now, I’ve passed the store, often stopping at its sibling 99¢ Store in an adjacent building, but never breaking down and paying my dues. Why? Oh, I don’t know. After all, the annual dues are only $10.

So anyway, I joined this week. But my first day inside, I inadvertently broke one of their rules. Which one? I’ll tell you in just a little bit.

It’s interesting to walk through a food store that sells Japanese products. It’s so colorful, and you are exposed to thousands of unusual products with names you can’t pronounce, and are written in a language you can’t read.

By the way, the 99¢ non-food item store moved into the marketplace and is now called Zakka Avenue.

For those who haven’t been inside a Marukai Market in Hawaii or California, here are some pictures of what it's like inside:

Oh, I almost forgot. The rule I broke? I'll tell you if you promise not to tell anyone.

“No picture-taking is allowed.” Yikes! Gomenasai.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beware the “Moose-tosterone“

Today is the first day of autumn, so it’s a good time to warn residents of Alaska, Canada, the northeastern United States and even the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, that it’s also moose-mating season.

Moose are big buggers, especially the males – tall as a man at their shoulders, with antler racks that spread 4 to 5 feet across. They weigh up to three-quarters of a ton, and when they have procreation on their mind, nothing is going to stop Mr. Moose from getting to Ms Moose – not cars, not signs, not fences … nothing.

I haven’t personally seen a moose in the wild, although some friends did when we were at a January conference in Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah. It was standing in a driveway, blocking their progress and just staring at them. So they slowly backed away and came into the meeting shivering – not from the cold, I might add.

If you should be walking in the woods and one is on the prowl, you may hear their deep mating call and smell their … er, “horniness.” If you do, beg their pardon politely and get the hell outta there, ‘cause if you’re all bundled up in fur, he might think you’re a female of the species and … well, y’know.

I am soooo glad I live in Hawaii this time of year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Heroes Season 4 Opener

Just in case you haven’t noticed – or if you’ve forgotten – “Heroes” debuts its fourth season tonight on NBC.

And in the event you don't remember how Season 3 ended, it’s review time. When last we watched Heroes:

1. Nathan Petrelli died.
2. Sylar died.
3. Nathan lives on as Sylar (or is it the opposite?)
4. Matt Parkman brought Matt Parkman back home.
5. Tracy Strauss died, shattered into a million pieces.
6. Tracy Strauss resurrected.
7. Ando Masahashi is now the Crimson Arc.
8. Hiro Nakamura lost his time travel and freeze.
9. Hiro Nakamura regained his time freeze.
10. Hiro Nakamura's ability is physically draining him.
11. Mohinder Suresh was a good guy who became a bad guy who became a good guy.
12. Peter Petrelli temporarily became the President.
13. HRG (horn-rimmed glasses, Claire's father) was a bad guy who became a good guy who became a bad guy who became a good guy.
14. Angela Petrelli showed her emotional side.
15. Daphne is dead and gone.
16. Elle is dead and gone.
17. Sylar, who is now Nathan, is senator, thanks to Matt.
18. Traci seems to be evil again.

Got it? Good. Now you're ready for Season 4.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Real Reason Why USC Lost

You say USC lost to Washington yesterday because they had a letdown after beating Ohio State on the road last week? Nah, that’s not why.

You say USC lost to Oregon State last year because they had a letdown after beating Ohio State at home? Nope, that’s not why.

You say USC lost to Stanford at home in 2007 because they took them too lightly? Uh uh, that’s not why.

You say USC lost to Oregon State in 2006 because they lost their focus? No way, that’s not why.

The University of Southern California Trojans football team lost those games for a very simple reason – I wasn’t able to watch the games on TV.

In 2006, I had to set up at a coin show. In 2007, I had a table at a stamp and coin bourse. In 2008, I was at a discussion board gathering in Las Vegas. And this year, I again was at the bourse.

In fact, the only games they lost while I was watching were the BCS National Championship game against Texas in 2005, and the devastating loss to UCLA in 2006 that kept them out of the BCS championship. Y’know, the big ones … the ones that counted.

Well, at least they can’t blame those two on me.

I’m going to have to stop doing other things during football season on the days that USC games are on TV .

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers, Matey!

For the 14th year running, today – September 19 – is being celebrated across the world as “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”

Yarrrrrgg, that be truthful, me hearty. We men be mateys, ye women be wenches, yon potables be rum. So say Ol’ Slumbucket and Cap’n Slappy who be in Albany, Oregon.

Avast there! Fetch me a noggin-a rum, matey. Yo ho, heave ho! We go to meet a watery grave in ol’ Davy Jones’ locker! A-pirating we go ‘neath the flyin’ skull ‘n crossbones of Jolly Roger.

Landlubbers beware, ye scurvy bilge rats!

Fun Tip: If you’re on Facebook, go to Settings/Language/Primary Language and select “English (Pirate).”

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Pink Grasshopper

Young Daniel Tate of England sure wasn’t expecting this surprise while hunting for grasshoppers at a wildlife event near Sidmouth, Devon with his grandfather.

It looked like a flower, and it was pink like a flower, but then it started moving and then jumped, the 11-year-old said, adding, “I was really excited to hear that no one else had found a pink grasshopper at that place before.”

His eyes weren’t deceiving him. What Daniel had found was an adult female common green grasshopper that was born pink. Occasionally females are found in a variety of colors, such as different shades of green and brown, sometimes even purple.

Pink grasshoppers are very rare, especially one with this intensity of color, according to nature reservists. This one was released back into the wild.

Just think. It’s female, it’s adult, and has pink genes … maybe we’ll be seeing a whole new species emerge someday. Unless they’re tasty, then they’re doomed ‘cause they’ll be easy to spot (unless they start hiding around pink flowers).

That’s okay by me. I wouldn’t mind seeing a pink grasshopper, or even one of them pink dolphins you hear talk about. As long as I don’t start seeing pink elephants.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers, 1936-2009

I was going to write about a pink grasshopper today, but that can wait.

Because … the world lost an icon of the ‘60s folk revival when Mary Travers – the angelic third of Peter, Paul & Mary – died yesterday from complications caused by chemotherapy in her battle against leukemia at a hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. She was 72.

My memories of Mary Travers have their roots in two live Peter, Paul & Mary concerts that I attended in the ‘60s – the first was at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the second was at the Long Beach Auditorium while I was at Woodbury College in Los Angeles.

At both concerts, Mary was introduced by Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow as the beautiful one-third of their group, the member who is #1 in the hearts of their fans everywhere.

When she walked out on stage, her blond hair reflected a heavenly glow that brought us to our feet in overwhelming applause. And when she started signing, we quieted into a dream world that wrapped around us like a warm blanket.

Most people will remember Peter, Paul & Mary’s big hits – Puff the Magic Dragon, If I had a Hammer, Lemon Tree, Blowing in the Wind, Don’t Think Twice, and I Love Rock ‘n Roll Music – most definitely were songs that uplifted more than one generation of music lovers.

However much I loved their hits, some of my favorite PP&M songs were hidden away in their albums – songs like Stewball, When the Ship Comes In, San Francisco Bay Blues (with kazoos), Betty and Dupree, and There Is a Ship (which my group, The Januarys, recorded in 1966 or 1967, I forget exactly when).

There would be no ’60s folk era without Mary Travers. I am sad today, perhaps I will just lie back, listen to some of her music, and reflect upon those turbulent yet hopeful times.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Best-Kept Secret Eatery

If you ask a bunch of people if they’ve ever had lunch at Nico’s, chances are most of them would reply, “What restaurant? Where?”

Maybe that’s a good thing, because Nico’s at Pier 38 always has a big crowd at lunchtime. One of the first tenants to open at the planned Honolulu Fishing Village five years ago, Nico’s has become popular with those who work at or near Honolulu Harbor.

The food is excellent; “Nico” is Nicolas Chaize, the restaurant’s chef and namesake, who describes the menu as “French taste, Hawaiian style.”

I discovered the place quite by accident, attracted by a makeshift sign along Nimitz Highway announcing: “Nico’s. Open for Breakfast.” Being a breakfast guy, I wanted to try it out. Actually, the first time I checked it out, I was disappointed. You need to go up to the inside counter, order your food, wait for them to page you, then take it to the patio outside to eat. I was in the mood to be served that day, so we passed it up.

About a week later, we decided to give it a chance anyway. Was I surprised!

That day, I ordered pan-seared Opah (moonfish) with watercress cream sauce that was the bomb. Probably the best fish meal I’ve had in ages. Today equaled that experience, however. Their special was pan seared mahimahi with Tahitian lime and papaya salsa. I tell you, if I had to choose between the opah or the mahi, I’d still be trying to make up my mind.

So far, I’m 2 for 2, batting a thousand.

Check out the line that snaked from the dining patio to the order counter:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anagrams (According to Pickles)

The relationship banter between Earl and Opal Pickles continues to amuse me. Creator Brian Crane sure does have his finger on the pulse of America’s seniors – me included.

Recently he published two strips that play on anagrams:

Opal and Earl crack me up every morning!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grumpy Neighbors Silence the Bells

Would you believe that a bishop of the Cathedral of Christ the King has been convicted of disturbing the peace, just because he rang his church bells?

The bells are a digital recording that were played through four loudspeakers every half-hour. Phoenix Bishop Rick Painter had tried to mollify complaining neighbors by fronting the speakers with noise-dampening foam, and changing the schedule to once an hour.

That wasn’t enough for them, as they continued to file complaints, summoning the police who were forced to file a report.

Bishop Painter was tried and found guilty, and now can only ring the bells for Sunday worship. And you know what? Those who live closest to the bells were not the ones complaining.

It’s just another sign that the Apocalypse is on its way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Space Bra Nebula?

New images have been received from the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which was refurbished by astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, which landed on Friday. They captioned this particular picture: “Butterfly Emerges from Stellar Demise in Planetary Nebula NGC 6302.”

Is it just me, or does this so-called “butterfly” resemble a brassiere?

You be the judge!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Amazing Rice Field Art

These pictures probably have been making the email rounds, and you might have seen them before. But I just got them from my son. I’d never seen them before and was amazed. So I’ll share them.

Rice fields in Japan have been transformed into art – naturally, but with some help by creative farmers who used rice plants with different-colored leaves to create the designs. As the planting season progresses, the images emerge.

Rice-paddy art began in 1993 as a local revitalization project. Farmers in the town of Inakadate use purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with the green-leafed tsugaru roman variety to create the patterns, which cover 15,000 square meters of paddy fields. Computers are used to precisely plot the planting of four differently colored rice varieties.

Click on the pictures to see larger, clearer images.

A Sengoku warrior

Napoleon on horseback

Fictional warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife Osen

Doraemon and deer dancers

Close-up showing careful placement of thousands of rice plants

Different varieties of rice plants are used

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shame Shame!

Yesterday was a bad day for politicians who just couldn’t keep their mouths shut when they should have.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson – Rude

The South Carolina congressman yelled out and accused President Barack Obama of lying during the televised broadcast of Mr. Obama’s speech on health care reform. “You lie!” he cried out.

Apparently (and we can’t be too sure of this), he started getting messages on his Blackberry soon after his outburst, quickly leaving the room when the speech was concluded.

Mr. Obama, to his credit, didn’t acknowledge Rep. Wilson’s rudeness, and continued on with his address. Later, Rep. Wilson issued a formal public apology, which Mr. Obama accepted appreciatively.

The Republican congressman’s opponent in next year’s election benefited from the incident, reporting that he has received $200,000 in campaign contributions from 5,000 people following Rep. Wilson’s faux pas.

Assemblyman Mike Duvall – Stupid

The California legislator just couldn’t keep his mouth shut, and apparently doesn’t believe in being discrete.

An open microphone caught him bragging graphically about his affairs with two women to a colleague seated next to him during a break in a hearing.

His taped conversation covered such revelations as “She wears little eye-patch underwear," and "So, I am getting into spanking her."

Mr. Duvall is vice chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee.

Or rather, I should say “former chairman.” He resigned yesterday and will be investigated by the Assembly Ethics Committee.

Whatever happened to courtesy, politeness, restraint, and discretion anyway? What has our society turned into?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Wanderings

Lots of thoughts on my mind this morning, none of them important enough to warrant a blog posting in and of itself. But I need to clear them out of my mind.

September 9, 2009

The 9-9-09 calendar sequence seems to be important, especially in China, where couples took advantage of the auspicious string of 9’s and got married today. The same thing happened last year on Aug. 8 (8-8-08).

If that be the case, then 9-9-99 must have been one helluva day for marriages. Which begs the question: “How many couples married on 9-9-99 (or 8-8-88 for that matter) are still married today?”

Can someone look that up for me?

USC vs. Notre Dame

Regis Philbin, on his morning show today, waxed enthusiastic about how great Notre Dame’s football team is this year. He even predicted they would beat the powerhouse University of Southern California and go undefeated to the National Championship.

This is essentially the same team that failed miserably last year and almost cost Coach Charlie Weis his job. The only difference is that they’re a year older.

Fat chance, Regis. Keep on believing, ‘cause you’ll soon be grieving.

Gecko Tails

Geckos detach their tails when they are threatened, leaving them to wiggle around and confuse the predator.

Have you noticed how a wiggling gecko tail resembles the tip of an octopus’ tentacle? I wonder if any sushi restaurant ever made a mistake and served a gecko tail instead of ta-koh? Hmmmm.

Smelling Aid

If a kid has his finger up his nose, maybe he’s just adjusting his smelling aid? After all, you adjust your hearing aid by sticking a finger in your ear.

And that’s the way it is – 9-9-09 – and you were there. Now go and get married.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon

It sneaked up on me, as it always seems to do in recent years. The MDA telethon just isn’t what it used to be.

I remember watching it when we lived in Los Angeles before moving back to Hawaii – from the early ones in the late ‘60s through mid-‘70s – and until the early '80s in Hawaii.

The early telethons were incredible and highly emotional, and inevitably ended with Jerry Lewis (and me) wiping away tears.

And the stars … oh, the stars! They paraded onto the show with the performances of their lives. When the telethon moved to Las Vegas, the entertainment level made a quantum jump into the stratosphere.

Then … the national broadcast began breaking away to local stations, who brought on local personalities and made local pleas for local contributions. That’s when I stopped watching – it became too much of a game to try and guess when the mega-stars were going to appear in the Las Vegas feed.

No longer did we sit on the living room couch, eyes glued to the television, trying to keep cool with fans blowing directly in our faces. No longer was it a “must-see” event.

The “good ol’ days” of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon are but a memory. Sorry, Jerry, but I’d much rather watch baseball on ESPN today.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quest for #1 Resumes

Here we go again! College football is back, which means I will DVR College GameDay every Saturday morning, watching it at a more decent hour (and hopefully before the University of Southern California game begins).

GameDay broadcasts live at 4 a.m. and as much as I enjoy the game, I am NOT going to wake up for a 4 a.m. program and try to stay awake for two hours. Nope, I’d rather sleep a few more hours first.

My football interests generally just involve the USC Trojans as I have my master’s degree from there, and have followed them since I first went to the 1964 USC-Notre Dame game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Trojans are exciting. They are almost always in the conversation every season as a possible contender for the national title, especially since Pete Carroll took over as head coach and his teams have produced three Heisman Trophy winners – Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush.

I had a little bit of trepidation before yesterday’s season opener against the San Jose State Spartans. I am familiar with their coach – Dick Tomey – who used to coach the University of Hawaii Rainbows, bringing excitement back to Hawaii football back in the ‘70s. He’s done great things with teams he’s put together.

Also, for the first time in its history, the Trojans opened their season with a true freshman at quarterback. Matt Barkley was All-Everything in high school, hailing from Mater Dei High School in Chula Vista, near San Diego.

I figured he was pretty good due to Coach Carroll’s effusive praise of him following spring camp and later following August camp. He beat out Aaron Corp (another all-everything), and Mitch Mustain (an Arkansas all-everything who was going to be a star at the University of Arkansas).

It looks like I needn’t have worried. He had a great game on Saturday as the coaches called a pretty conservative game with no long down-the-field passes. The awesome (and I use that word in its truest, non-trite sense) Trojan running game opened everything up and USC soundly trounced the Spartans.

The first quarter was all San Jose State. In its first six possessions, USC punted, fumbled, punted, fumbled and punted again. Uh-oh, I thought, don’t tell me …

As it turned out, San Jose State won the first quarter, 3-0. USC won the second quarter, 28-0; and both the third and fourth quarters, 14-0 each. Final score: 56-3.

Matt Barkely was pulled from the game, Aaron Corp came in and lead the team to another touchdown. Even Mitch Mustain got to play.

Games like this are great. Not because of the runaway score, but because everybody gets a chance to play and earn some valuable experience that will be useful down the road as the season gets hotter and we get into conference play where every game is crucial.

I was very worried before the season about our game at Ohio State University next week. If you recall, USC smeared them last year in Los Angeles and they will be looking for some revenge in their home stadium on Saturday. I’m sure they were licking their chops before their struggle against Navy yesterday, imagining how they were going to welcome the young Trojan quarterback to big-time college football.

Well, I’m not so worried any more. Matt Barkley impressed me with his poise and maturity. I hope he can keep it all together for our big games, specifically against Oregon, California, Notre Dame and UCLA. And here’s hoping the Trojans won’t allow anyone to sneak up on them as they are prone to do at least once every year.

We are … SC!

Friday, September 4, 2009

That’s ‘All Right,’ That’s ‘Okay’

… I’ll change the channel anyway.

“Ten-Dollar Dinners” – a new show on Food Network – is somewhat interesting. The host, Melissa D’Arabian, does put together some simple and fetching recipes that I might use in the future.

She’s the most recent winner of “Who’s the Next Food Network Star,” emerging as the top Food Network prospect from a field of a dozen hopefuls.

I set my DRV to automatically record her first few shows, just to see if I like what she does. I did the same thing when Guy Fieri won the other year. After this week’s episode, I have decided to cancel my automatic recording of her show.

See, I noticed half-way through that she was punctuating her continuing sentences with either the phrase “All right,” or the word “Okay.” It started to bug me. So I started it over and compulsive fool that I am, I counted them.

Ms. D’Arabian said “All right” 20 times, and “Okay” 14 times. Not only that, she often continues her run-on sentences with “a-a-a-a-nd.” I didn’t count those, it would have required watching the recorded episode again.

Sometimes these things can be charming – like when Martin Yan counts the number of knife cuts he makes when slicing ingredients, or when Guy Fieri refers to ingredients as “bad boys," or when Anne Burrell does her arm/head/body shimmy. They only do it a couple of times a show, not over and over and over again as Ms. D’Arabian does.

Now you too are going to notice it since I’ve called it to your attention.

But that’s all right, that’s okay, I’ll be your friend anyway.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Students Invade the Beach

It was quite a sight at Ala Moana Beach today, as the normally serene beach resounded with laughter and the sounds of kids having a great time in the sun.

A large canopy tent served as a holding area for the myriad of colored backpacks that would lay there, forgotten until it was time for the kids to leave.

Approximately 150 students of all ages from Christian Academy School were spending a day at the beach – an annual event designed to promote student bonding at the start of the school year.

They were participating in races, relay swimming events, and other activities as some of the parents wearing school golf shirts sat nearby and out of the way of their children.

I chatted with one of the mothers, who filled me in on the activity. Her daughter (pre-teen, I think) came over with a couple of her friends, then walked back to where the action was.

The mom was all smiles, quite happy in the Christian fellowship that obviously was having a terrific effect on the kids.

I ended up smiling as well – throughout the rest of my constitutional walk at Magic Island. It just started my day off on a high note.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3-D Whoopee!

Three-dimensional movies have come a heck of a long way since the 1950’s when you had to watch 3-D movies with special viewing “glasses” made of semi-rigid paper and colored cellophane.

These first 3-D movies were in black and white – or rather, green and red – and if you took your glasses off, the picture looked blurry with green and red lines. I seem to remember seeing “House of Wax” and “It Came From Outer Space” in 3-D, but I could be wrong. These two were among the earliest 3-D films.

I definitely saw “13 Ghosts” in 3-D. At certain points in the movie, the audience was instructed by the movie itself to put the viewers on. Then, and only then, did the ghosts appear before you. I remember that well.

The colored-lenses system didn’t last, and was replaced by the use of gray polarized lenses. My most memorable film in this era was “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

These days, 3-D seems to be back on the rise once again. I have used 3-D glasses to watch “The Polar Express,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “Up,” and most recently (this week), “The Final Destination 3D,” the fourth movie in the horror series.

Unfortunately, they make you buy new 3-D viewing glasses at each new movie. At “Final Destination,” a older man in front of me tried to use glasses he had bought for an earlier film (same brand, and identical in all ways), but was politely told that he could do that, but they still required purchase of a new set. Gotcha!

The 3-D experience is pretty cool. “Final Destination” is gory and startling, and sensitive people with jittery nerves should not see it – especially in 3-D.

Gory but cool. Now THAT’S entertainment.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If You Offend, Your Ride Will End

Would you believe the Honolulu City Council is considering a bill that would make it a crime for a smelly person to ride the new transit system being planned?

Yes they are. And I sense the bill targets newcomers and visitors to our fair and sweet-smelling city.

One of the two councilmen sponsoring the bill specifically referenced people who come to Hawaii from all over the world, and who have different ideas about maintaining their health, including not bathing daily.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have sat next to odor-challenged people before and it ain’t no picnic. On occasion I have even changed seats when I just couldn’t sit and bear it.

But to pass a law? C’mon!

Who will determine what smells bad and what doesn’t? Is there a threshold, and if there is, what is it? Who’s going to police this? The Odor Police? How do you report this if the driver/engineer asks a person not to board, or to get off because s/he smells to high heaven, and the person refuses? Manhandle and throw him/her off the train?

Will the cops have to haul the offender away? Will there be teams of Odor Preventers patrolling the train with spray deodorant in one hand and free samples of soap in the other? What if the stinky person has an inferiority complex and begins crying? Will the city be legally required to provide counseling?

At some point, will we all have to pass an “Odor Elimination Equivalency Test” when we apply for a day or monthly transit pass?

It stinks, I tell ya. It just plain stinks. If this law passes, I smell an ACLU lawsuit on the horizon.