Thursday, September 30, 2010

Move Over, Joe Moore

Skootch over and make some room next to you, Joe Moore, there’s someone who has something in common with you who might want to sit down.
When supermodel Sarah Murdoch announced the name of “Australia’s Next Top Model,” she did some quick thinking and ended up making a horrible mistake. She announced the wrong person as winner.
Kelsey Martinov was well into her acceptance speech when Sarah had to stop her and confess her mistake. Amanda Ware was the real winner.
Kelsey apparently was a good sport about the whole fiasco, and as compensation for the blunder, will receive $25,000 and a trip to New York City.
The incident reminds me of the big-time blunder by KHON-TV’s news anchor Joe Moore.  Joe was the pronouncer at the televised Hawaii State Spelling Bee several years back and apparently had a brain fart – not once, but twice.
His duties included reading the words for the students to spell, then announcing if the response was correct or not. When only two spellers are left, the rules change and if a word is misspelled, then the other student is given a chance to spell the same word and if s/he does it correctly, s/he’s given another word to spell. Get that one correct, and s/he is declared the winner.
The finalists were a young boy and a young girl. The boy misspelled. Joe then said he was incorrect, but instead of giving the girl a chance to spell the word, Joe spelled the word out loud. The girl was shocked, as were the audience, the judges, and everybody watching on TV.
Joe apologized and the word was tossed out. Then, the same thing happened. The girl was devastated!
The boy eventually won, and Joe was so distraught with his egregious blundering that he offered to fund a trip to the finals for the girl. But, I’m sure that gesture did nothing to console the girl and her parents.
Which just goes to show, brain farts are contagious, transcending even distance and decades of time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shades of Desperation!

The television sitcom/drama/soap/series Desperate Housewives has nothing over Honolulu. See, we have our own Wisteria Lane.
And you know what? The Wisteria Lane where those desperate housewives live is actually named “Colonial Street,” and is located inside Universal Studios Hollywood. It was used for other TV series, including Leave it to Beaver and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and movies such as Gremlins and The Burbs.
Honolulu’s Wisteria Lane, on the other hand, is real. It’s a factory-direct flooring company with outlets on Maui, Kauai, and Oahu (across the street from Costco). And, they tell us, they’re soon to be on the Big Island as well.
They do floors – hardwood, bamboo, and Hawaiian laminate.
Why, just the other day, I could have sworn I saw Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria browsing around inside, checking out the samples.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No Cell Phones, Please

Sometimes the magic word “please” doesn’t work … especially when the one you’re talking to arrogantly (or perhaps ignorantly) decides the request isn’t directed at him or her.
Case in point: Last week, when the wife and I were at the Social Security office, I saw several of these signs posted – outside AND inside the waiting room.
It’s a simple request. Please don’t use your cell phones here. Make and take your calls in the hallway.
Were there those who flagrantly ignored the request? Yep. The security guard was obliged to tell at least three people not to use their phones. They harrumphed and went outside.
What the guard didn’t see was at least a half-dozen others surreptitiously using their mobile phones during the wife’s and my 45-minute wait. It reminded me of the time I was in a hospital waiting room and families were bringing in containers of take-out food, totally ignoring the signs on the wall telling the people there that food was not allowed.
I’m really dismayed and disappointed when I see people openly ignoring signs like this. Are we evolving backward into a country of idiots?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Liberace Museum Closing

A few weeks ago (Sept. 3, to be exact), I posted some pictures and a write-up of my visit to the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas.
A week after my blog entry, it was announced that the museum is closing, the result of financial problems promulgated by the bad economy, the out-of-the-way location far from the Las Vegas Strip, and the public’s waning interest in the flashy entertainer who died in 1987.
So what’s going to happen to all those fabulous cars, pianos, jewelry and costumes? Word is that the Liberace Foundation has arranged to eventually tour the collection.
The story of the museum’s decline is presented thoroughly on the Las Vegas Weekly’s website:
Sure glad I went to see it when I did. Timing is everything, no?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Frozen Bucks

One of the “living statues” in The Venetian Resorts’ Grand Canal Shoppes was raking it in when I passed by his performance area a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. People were dropping dollar bills in front of him every few seconds.
That’s when he’d break his frozen stance, turning his right hand and forming the “A-OK” circle, touching the tips of his thumb and forefinger together while maintaining his snow-white frozen cool.
But I noticed that he wasn’t all that disinterested in his audience. As I walked by with my camera, his eyes were following me (that was kind of creepy). I bet he was thinking I was going to drop a bill or two on the ledge.
Well, if he did, he was sorely disappointed. All I did was aim my camera and take this picture. My bucks were frozen, all right. Frozen inside my wallet.
Sometimes I disgust even myself with my stinginess. Mwahh-hahh-hahh!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crack Seed

When we were kids, we used to visit the crack seed store and buy ourselves a nickel’s worth of Chinese preserved plums.
There was a great variety of them in huge glass jars and we would tell the store owner which one we wanted and how much we had to spend (usually a nickel). He (or she) would scoop out about a half dozen or so and weigh them, dropping them into a small brown paper bag.
After biting/scraping off all of the delicious dark fruit (salty or sweet or sour or a combination of sorts), we’d chew the paper until all the flavor had disappeared.
Sometimes they’d come pre-measured in cellophane bags, in which case we’d squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until all of the remnants were consumed.
It’s been a while since I’ve had crack seed, until one day recently, a package of pre-wrapped seeds caught my eye – “chan pui mui,” it said. So I bought a package, distributed the contents to those in my family, and kept a few for myself.
I’ve always said crack seed looks pretty unappetizing, and the chan pui mui was no exception. See how much it resembles horsey doo? Small horsey doo, as the seeds are only about an inch in diameter.
But boy, does it taste good! Crack seed … a blast from the past.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Purple Orchids … Again

The wife’s purple orchids are blooming again … in droves!

Beautifying our driveway with a plethora of exotic blossoms, her plants never fail to lend an aura of beauty and wonderment to our home.

But rather than sit here and try to explain it all with the written word, let me just show them to you in pictures:

I just love this time of year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Lizard Lunch

I saw two white cattle egrets having lunch the other day at a strip mall in East Honolulu.

Wildlife (especially the “lower” forms of the animal kingdom) has always fascinated me. Many is the day when zoology has totally consumed me.

I remember borrowing books about insects and reptiles from the library and reading as I walked to Japanese language school, bumping into people, stepping into sidewalk doggie doo, totally immersed in the fascinating facts of wildlife. I would then continuing my reading as I walked to my grandmother’s house from the school.

Consequently, whenever I see natural history played out in an urban environment, it strikes me as that much more special to see the survival of the fittest at work.

The egrets were pecking around a KFC drive-up window, and I saw one of them stab into the bushes. It emerged with an anole lizard in its beak – a pretty big one that that. The other egret took note of the situation and began walking into the bushy landscaping, apparently on the prowl for a similar tidbit.

Perhaps at another time, I might have joined them and bought myself a chicken lunch. But not that day, as I’d just had lunch and was about to drive home.

Maybe next time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inflight Internet

I’d heard some airlines had Wi-Fi Internet on board during some flights, but only recently have I been on a flight where it was offered.

During my Delta flights to and from Hawaii from Las Vegas, the flight attendants called our attention to a seat-pocket card that provided all the needed information. The only thing not mentioned was the access fee.

Although I had my computer with me on the outbound flight from Hawaii, I was on the red-eye so I didn’t even think of hooking up. However, the return flight from Los Angeles was a different story, so I was anticipating giving it a try.

Just as I was about to turn my laptop on, the flight attendant made an announcement that quickly changed my mind.

Apparently, the Wi-Fi access only works within a few miles of the continent. In other words, if you paid your fee and hooked up, you had only about 11 minutes worth of Internet connection before it was lost for the balance of the trip.

I’m sure glad they told us.

How much was the fee? Beats me, I didn’t even bother to find out.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Really Stupid Robbers

Stupidity in robbers is not only contagious, it also transcends state borders. Yesterday, I read about two would-be robbers who apparently had brain farts and forgot one of the most important lessons in Robbery 101: Wear your mask and put it on early.

The first case involved a man who heisted a convenience store in Ferndale, Michigan, wearing a Darth Vader mask. Oh sure, he had the mask on, but … he put it on inside the store.

The result? A terrific surveillance video of the stupid guy standing there full-faced, putting on the mask, then robbing the store.

According to police, the ersatz Mr. Vader threatened the clerk with a butcher knife before fleeing with the money, ostensibly laughing behind his Star Wars facemask, not realizing that he’d messed up earlier. Police say they’re pretty sure they know who he is.

About a month ago, something similar happened in Eden, New York. The robber there entered the local HSBC Bank branch wearing a dust mask around his neck.

He just waltzed over to a teller and handed over a note demanding money, the mask still dangling around his neck. So then his cell phone rings and he answers it, grabs the note back in a panic and runs out of the bank.

You know what the police think? They think the phone call was from his get-away driver telling him to “PULL UP YOUR MASK, YOU DUMMY!”

They still haven’t found the guy. Hmmm, I wonder if he moved to Michigan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Primary Election Sign Tally

I just did my final sign count on the route from my home to Manoa Marketplace, as the primary election is tomorrow.

During my last tally in late July, I counted five signs for mayoral resignee Mufi Hanneman, and one sign each for congressional resignee Neil Abercrombie and current lieutenant governor Duke Aiona.

Things have changed on the eve of the primary. Mufi’s total has been reduced by one. He now has four signs up. Neil’s total hasn’t changed; he’s still got only one. Duke’s total has been reduced, which means that he now has no signs up.

What’s with all that? Why the reductions? And why no increases? Are the people who supported the candidates sick and tired of the negative campaigning? Good thought to ponder, methinks.

Anyway, the “sign-count along my route” method has predicted elections in the past. We’ll just have to see how it goes this time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fight On!

The University of Southern California Trojan football team is fighting a 13-round heavyweight match, at the end of which, nothing will be gained and won except pride and heart because we’re sanctioned from participating in post-season games.

Beaten down by the NCAA for Reggie Bush violations that are punishing the current team, the Trojans are calling upon players and fans to stick together, and as the flyer says, to “Stay Focused!” with “Toughness & Discipline.”

Focus … Toughness … Discipline. The team needs this troika of qualities if USC is to finish the season 13-0. It’s not inconceivable, but it will be difficult.

These flyers have been appearing around campus, and according to the official USC Trojans Facebook Page, have been posted on every entrance and exit of Heritage Hall, home of the university’s athletic department, and where our National Championship and Heisman trophies are on display.

I’ve walked amongst the trophies – at least the ones that were there in the early ‘70s when I was a graduate student at USC. I still remember how people – students, faculty, administration, and the public alike – viewed the trophies with awe and reverence.

Be courageous, men. I’m with you. Keep it together. Focus, be tough and disciplined. Fight on!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ruby’s Dinette

This is a great place to grab a bite to eat at an airport. I don’t know how many airports they’re at (maybe four or five, I would guess), but I’ve been to the ones at Los Angeles (LAX) and Las Vegas (LAS). The dinettes are the smaller versions of Ruby’s Diner (no relation to Ruby Tuesday, by the way).

If my flight leaves around lunch time, I have one of their delicious burgers. If my flight is in the morning, I have a breakfast burrito.

Model Airplane @ Ruby's Dinette LAX

You might like it too. But I have to remind you that they ARE in airports. So your pocketbook might take a whack. This last trip, I had a breakfast burrito with bacon and a large cup of coffee at the LAX outlet. It cost me $14.

Outrageous? Yeah, I know, I know. But what the hell, you only live once.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Independence is the Answer

I don’t usually comment on the University of Hawaii Warriors, but I have a thought …

A Honolulu Star-Advertiser sports columnist recently wrote that the UH football team needs a real rivalry … perhaps like the one they had with Brigham Young University some years back. Or the Boise State Broncos, who are leaving the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) soon to join the Mountain West Conference.

Here’s my take. The UH Warrior football team is a lower-tier team playing in a weak conference. You can’t build up a rivalry with any good conference teams because as soon as a WAC team excels, it is wooed away by another conference.

I believe the only way Hawaii can develop a true football rivalry is by returning to independent status and loosening the shackles that bind it to the hinky-dink WAC. Either that, or resign themselves to being a hinky-dink team by association.

But then, who am I to criticize? I haven’t been a UH football fan in more than 35 years.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Save a Robe

More often than not when I stay at high-end hotels, there’s a nice, fluffy bathrobe hanging either in the bathroom or the closet for my use while I’m there.

The thing is, I never use the robes. In fact, I never even try them on, because I don’t particularly enjoy being warm and snuggly after a shower. I’d rather just jump into bed and turn on the TV or something.

I’d always assumed that the robe would be left there for the next guest; it never entered my mind that the hotel would wash it whether I used it or not. But now that I think of it, that makes good sense and demonstrates good policy to prevent the spread of germs.

The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas is doing something about it. On the bathroom vanity was this card:

Basically, it says that by washing suite bathrobes whether they’re used or not consumes 6 million gallons of water, 87,000 therms of gas (1 therm equals 100,000 BTUs), 288,000 kilowatts of electricity, and 1,300 gallons of chemicals annually. That’s a lot of energy and resources.

So they’ve removed the bathrobes. However, anyone who wants to use one can just call down and they’ll send one up “promptly.”

I like that policy. Someone at The Venetian is thinking responsibly.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

She Went Boom!

As I was leaving the Dole Cannery Theaters and headed up to the sixth floor of parking structure yesterday, I noticed two large plumes of water being sprayed onto the empty lot next to the office building

Fire crews were hosing down the area, the police were out, and traffic was being diverted away from the area, forcing me to take a detour from my usual route home. Dozens of people were evacuating the building on Iwilei Road close to Pacific Street.

Apparently, there had been loud booms (one large, two smaller) about an hour earlier (around 1:15 p.m.), most likely gas or combustible vapors had ignited.

It’s suspected that the booms were caused by underground chemical reactions during a soil-decontamination process that produces flammable gases. The gas normally is captured and burned.

That’s a dangerous area for explosions. I’d heard long ago that there is petroleum leakage from tanks along the harbor front that have migrated underground into that particular area.

Perhaps I’ll avoid the area for the next couple of days.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Did Not Feed Them!

Bet you didn’t know that I observe and obey signs. Like this one that I saw on the Bullhead City, Arizona, side of the Colorado River in an empty parking lot where I parked so I could take some pictures of the Laughlin, Nevada side.

I want you to know that I did NOT feed the raccoons. Hell, I didn’t even see any raccoons, but I would have loved to.

Farther up the river, I did see a desert roadrunner (Meep! Meep!), but I couldn’t take a picture of it because (what else?) it kept running away and I couldn’t get close enough.

I also saw an armadillo while driving along the Arizona Davis Camp road, but that doesn’t count because it was road kill.

So much for being an amateur naturalist, huh?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Las Vegas Chinatown

Like many other cities with a Chinese population and heritage, Las Vegas has its own Chinatown area that was so designated in 1999 by Gov. Kenny Guinn of Nevada.

Located along Spring Mountain Road (the cross streets are South Valley View and South Arville), Las Vegas Chinatown consists of several large strip malls in an area that has been revived by the Asian community from the run-down neighborhood that it once was, to a thriving business community.

It’s about a mile and a half west of the Las Vegas Strip, and extends for about two and a half miles.

If it’s Asian, it’s there – Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese – with one of the Chinatown Plaza anchors being 99 Ranch Market, a supermarket chain found throughout the United States. Chinatown Plaza is the most visible section, identified by its large traditional Chinese arch entrance.

The mall itself houses a number of stores and eating establishments:

In the center of the plaza’s parking lot is a huge statue of the “Journey to the West,” a centuries-old mythological novel that was based on popular stories of the time. According to a descriptive plaque, the statue honors “Priest Xuanzang and his three disciples – an irreverent monkey, a greedy but lovable pig, and a hard-working river goblin as they go on the journey in search of Buddhist sutras.”

Next time you’re in Las Vegas, take some time to experience the city’s Chinatown area. I stop by there every once in a while and check out the availability of monkey figurines for my collection.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Plovers are Back

I saw my first neighborhood plover of the season earlier this week, and probably would have seen it last week if I weren’t on the mainland toasting my buns in the Las Vegas desert.

The plovers, as you may remember, fly here annually from Alaska where they spent the summer feeding. Flocks of Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva, or “Kolea” in Hawaiian) fly to Hawaii for autumn and winter, fattening up on the smorgasbord of insects in our yards.

It’s a good guess that this is the same female that’s been coming to my neighborhood year after year, ‘cause they’re kind of territorial and selfish that way.

And their arrival (to me anyway) heralds the end of summer.

Welcome back!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Than an Eye Can See

This is part of the dining room view from my table at “Steakhouse,” the fine-dining restaurant at the Tropicana Express Hotel & Casino in Laughlin, Nevada:
Pretty nice appointments, huh? But wait. Look at this enlarged portion of the picture:
See all the crud in the bottom of the light bowls? Seems to me they need to close the restaurant one day and just clean those things. It just spoils the classy ambiance they’re trying to achieve.
I’m just sayin’ …

Monday, September 6, 2010

George Now in the East

Remember the $1 bill I got in change back in June? Here’s the picture to refresh your memory:

The “Where’s George $1 Bill”

I spent the dollar on Monday, June 21 in Las Vegas, and recently, an email from the “Where’s George” website appeared in my email box with a tracking report.

It seems that 65 days after I put George back into circulation, it turned up in Wilton, New Hampshire, on August 26. Then, about seven days later (September 2), it was in Clendenin, West Virginia.

So far, since it was recorded in Hawaii, the bill has traveled 5,627 miles in one year, 275 days (not taking into account the days since September 2), at an average speed of 84 miles per day.

I hope people continue to input where it shows up, because I can’t wait to see where it turns up next.

If you’d like to see the web page, here’s the URL:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Searchlight, Nevada

I’d never been to Laughlin, Nevada, but have heard about it. So, being the adventurous guy that I’ve become in my retirement, I decided to take a drive during my last visit to Las Vegas and check out the place.

Not much to tell, except that it took nearly two hours to get there. Just before Boulder City, you hang a right and head into the desert – one long four-lane highway straight as an arrow, heading over the horizon. Long. Very long.

Along the way, there’s a break when you hit the town of Searchlight. There’s not much there, a casino or two, some stores and garages and truck stops. I stopped to stretch my legs and take some pictures, which actually show about 90% of what’s in the town.


The Searchlight Nugget Casino Sign with a Boarded-Up Jack’s Trading Post

The Rest of Searchlight (I Kid You Not)

Keep on going down the highway and you pass an area called Cal Neva Ari that has a few small redneck homes. Zip, and you’re past it. Drive a little longer and you hang a left to head toward Laughlin. That’s a long drive, maybe an hour or so.

Believe me, until you reach Laughlin, Searchlight is the highlight of the drive.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liberace Museum

It’s been several years (pretty much a couple of decades) since I’ve seen the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, so I thought I’d mosey on over and take a look at it again.
Since I’m male, I was pretty sure I could find the place without having to look at a map or ask for directions. That was pretty stupid. The first day I looked for it, I went up and down Flamingo Boulevard – miles to the west, then miles back to the east, wondering if my eyesight was going.
My eyesight was just fine, as I discovered when I got back to the room and looked it up on the ‘Net. The blasted place isn’t on Flamingo as I had thought, it’s on Tropicana – 1775 E. Tropicana, in case you’re interested.
I tried again the next day, this time with success, because I was armed with the right information. Hah!
The Liberace Museum has changed a lot since the last time I was there. It originally was in one little building, with a whole bunch of stuff crammed inside. I do remember that the wife and I weren’t very impressed with what we saw.
One still enters at the small building, but they’ve expanded into another building ‘way across the large parking lot. The original building houses the Piano and Car galleries, and the other building houses the Costume and Jewelry collections, plus his Palm Springs bedroom and awards.
Here are some of the photographs I took:
Part of Liberace’s Piano Collection
Liberace’s 1957 English Taxicab
The New Building (Costumes, Jewelry, Awards)
Part of the Costume Collection
Liberace’s Quotation, re Performing with Rings
Liberace, of course, was one of the most flamboyant performers of all time, especially in Las Vegas. You should check out the museum at least once. And if you get lost, here’s a bit of information that could have saved me a lot of time and tire wear if I had it: Their telephone number is (702) 798-5595.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Every time I come to Las Vegas, I try to see something I’ve never seen before. It’s not always that easy a thing to do, since the last time I counted, I’d been to Sin City more than 60 times.
And yet, I can almost always find something new. This time, it was the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum – the one inside The Venetian Resort. Can you believe that I’ve never been to one? I’ve passed the wax museum many times at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, but never once did I step inside.
What nailed it was a coupon I received from Hertz when I picked up my rental car. It was a 20%-off coupon, which translated into $5 off the ticket price of $25.
The funny thing is, I only had to pay $19. Let’s see now … $25 minus $5 equals $19? It just don’t add up! But what the heck, who am I to complain, for after all, I did get to meet …
Britney Spears
Debbie Reynolds
Elvis Presley
Johnny Depp
Shirley MacLaine
Among many others, that is. And you know what? Everybody was right. The wax statues truly do look real and lifelike.
Good for me, I had a nice adventure … and at a discount too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Juicy, Saucy Story

Advisory: This blog post contains one swear word, perfectly appropriate, at the very end.

Lucky you, I’m going to let you in on what I was thinking over a 24-hour span:

Saturday Night: Damn! Dripped some melted butter on the front of my shirt while eating lobster tonight. I wonder if I can clean it off with soap and water … okay, that’s done. Good. I’ll hang it up and see what it looks like in the morning.

Sunday Morning: Well, that kind of did the trick, Doesn’t look too bad. A little dark where the butter spread, but if you don’t look too close, you can’t tell. I think I’ll wear the shirt again today.

Sunday 11:00 a.m.: Good. Survived breakfast without spilling anything on my shirt. The wife would be proud of me.

Sunday 6:10 p.m.: Damn! There’s some barbecue sauce on my shirt. Oh criminy, it dripped right where the butter stain was. Jeez.

Sunday 6:15 p.m.: Did I just squirt some corn juice on my shirt, right THERE, when I bit the corn cob? Shit.

The Triple Whammy Spot