Sunday, November 29, 2015

Who Are They?

Here's a list of 20 famous people's real names. Do you know what their more-familiar names are? The more you know or remember, the better your chances to win bar bets.
  1. Audrey Kathleen Ruston
  2. Tara Leigh Patrick
  3. Joan Alexandra Mokeski
  4. Carlos Irwin Estevez
  5. Jessica Howard
  6. Julie Anne Smith
  7. Andre Romelle Young
  8. Nikolas Kim Coppola
  9. Peter Gene Beyot Hernandez
  10. Dana Elaine Owens
  11. Stevlan Hardaway Judkins
  12. Ralph Lifshitz
  13. Caryn Elaine Johnson
  14. Eric Marlon Bishop
  15. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
  16. Reginald Kenneth Dwight
  17. Demetria Gene Guynes
  18. Robert Allen Zimmerman
  19. Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov
  20. Allan Stewart Konigsberg
(The answers are in the post below this one.)

Answers to ‘Who Are They?’

Here are the answers to the post above — "Who Are They?"
  1. Audrey Hepburn
  2. Carmen Electra
  3. Joan Rivers
  4. Charlie Sheen
  5. Jessica Chastain
  6. Julianne Moore
  7. Dr. Dre
  8. Nicholas Cage
  9. Bruno Mars
  10. Queen Latifah
  11. Stevie Wonder
  12. Ralph Lauren
  13. Whoopi Goldberg
  14. Jamie Foxx
  15. Lady Gaga
  16. Elton John
  17. Demi Moore
  18. Bob Dylan
  19. Helen Mirren
  20. Woody Allen
How many did you get?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Kuakini Discovery Center

The last time I accompanied the wife to the Kuakini Medical Center's MRI room, I went wandering around a little bit to find a cup of coffee that would keep me warm and busy during my wait.

Along the way, I found the Kuakini Discovery Center. It's like a little museum room with interesting articles and implements about the history of the hospital.

I remember seeing something like this at Queen's Medical Center a while back. So after getting my coffee, I stopped by again and spent some time checking out interesting things about Kuakini.

I'd tell you what's in there, but you might want to just visit for yourself. It's just around the corner from the gift shop and MRI room. Check it out the next time you enter the hospital from the garage tunnel.

Photos I took:


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Where Hawaii Ranks 37

Nothing but bad news this time. We Hawaii citizens are, on average, dumber than any other state. Honolulu is the most expensive, most over-priced city, college grads can’t find houses, and our welfare payments are the highest.

But, but … we have nice weather.

Least Intelligent State (Washington Post, 2015)
(Score based on average IQ, average SAT score, average ACT score, and percentage of college graduates)

  1. HAWAII (-27)
  2. Nevada (-23.4)
  3. Mississippi (-22.4)
  4. Alabama (21.9)
  5. Florida (21.5)
Most Expensive Cities for Singles (Economic Policy Institute, 2015)

  1. HONOLULU, HI ($46,308)
  2. Stamford, CT
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. New York, NY
Worst State for House-Hunting College Graduates (, 2015)

  2. West Virginia
  3. Vermont
  4. Montana
  5. North Dakota
Nation's Top Welfare States (Cato Institute, 2013)

  1. HAWAII (Hourly wage equivalent: $29.15. Pre-tax annual income equivalent: $60,590)
  2. District of Columbia ($24.43, $50,820)
  3. Massachusetts ($24.30, $50,540)
  4. Connecticut ($21.33, $44,370)
  5. New York ($21.01, $43,700)
Nation’s Most Over-Priced City (Forbes Magazine, 2015)

  2. Bridgeport-Stamford, CT
  3. Boston, MA
  4. New York, NY
  5. Cambridge, MA

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Cracking of the Knees

I don’t remember exactly when my knees started cracking. Perhaps it happened when I was in college; perhaps it was when I was 30 or so. Perhaps it was even later than that.

No matter.

The point is, it’s been one of the first things I’ve done in the morning for years and years and years. I do it one of two ways: I either get out of bed, so a squat so my knees are extremely bent and give out loud “ka-racks.” Or, as I’m lying in bed, I’ll whip each leg out straight in turn and crack the knees that way.

The “Family Circus” newspaper cartoon pictured in this blog ran recently. It brought the knee-cracking to top of mind and I wondered how many people out there experience this. Apparently, it’s pretty common. Still, I’ve never heard anyone else talking about the phenomenon.

WebMD says not to worry about cracking or popping unless it’s associated with pain or swelling. It’s most likely uneven cartilage surfaces gliding against each other. Or, perhaps ligaments tightening with movement over the bones.

I liken it to the relief you get when you crack your neck or your shoulders when you flex them. Y'know, the thing chiropractors do as you lie on their table. It feels good and heralds a loosening-up of the body. I think. But there’s no pain, so I’m not going to worry about it.

Do your knees crack?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What's Wrong With This Ad?

While waiting for the wife to be called into the doctor's office one day, I busied myself by picking up the December 2014 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, figuring maybe I could find an easy recipe that I could make.

As soon as I turned the front cover, the above promotional ad by Bravo exploded in my face.

You do know what the pun in the ad is all about, don't you? "Who the fork will win?" Frankly, I've used that phrase myself, more than once. But ...

I was shocked to see it employed in a supposedly classy magazine like Bon Appetit, especially to promote a competition to find the best new restaurant. I'm also surprised that Bravo would let their advertising people come up with a horrible, vulgar ad like this, and even more surprised that it would pass Bravo's management scrutiny.

Nobody enjoys a pun more than I do, but ... not when it's to emulate a disgusting phrase in a magazine read by nice people like me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wait … Where Are My Grits?

You know how sometimes you think about food while lying in bed in the morning, your stomach grumbling and making “hurry up” noises?

That happened to me this morning. I was reflecting on some great shrimp and grits I had at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, and remembered that I had some grits in the cupboard.

Hmmm … what if I took out some bacon, cut ‘em into lardons, crisped them up in the pan, and mixed them in with some grits? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

I thought about it for a while; every minute that passed convinced me that it’s what I was going to make for breakfast – with buttery scrambled eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a steaming mug of Peet’s coffee. My mouth was already watering.

Eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer and jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth, splashed cold water on my face, and ran to the kitchen. You know what? I couldn’t find the grits. I swear I had some saved in a jar. But no, no grits.

Well, kill that fantasy (it was nice, real nice, while it lasted).

You know what? I think the wife dumped it to make room for her big ol’ bags of flour. The naughty girl.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

I've seen this movie on the TV schedule a hundred times over the years, and I had a general idea of what it was about – three drag queens on a cross-country trip to define their careers in California.

It didn't interest me one iota. Uh uh, not even by a smidgen. I mean, who wants to see Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo dressed up, made up, talking like, and moving like women? Not me. I managed to avoid it for 20 years since it came out in 1995.

So it actually surprised me when I hit the record button on my DVR the other day when I saw it on the Ovation Channel schedule, let the movie languish in my viewing queue for a few days, then on a bored whim, hit the play button.

I have to say that I felt more than a bit uncomfortable watching the guys transform into women via makeup, wigs, clothes and attitude, but they grew on me. To be frank about it, they actually look pretty good after the transformation. Does saying that make me weird?

So why did they head off to Los Angeles? Vida Boheme (Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Snipes) tie in the New York Drag Queen of the Year contest and win free round-trip tix to Hollywood to compete in the Drag Queen of America contest. Chi-Chi Rodriguez (Leguizamo), who really wanted to win, loses out.

They sell their airline tickets to John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (Robin Williams, who hates when the people always shout), buy an old yellow Cadillac convertible for $50, and take Chi-Chi along with them.

Along the way, they meet a horny racist homophobic sheriff (Chris Penn), and a small town full of conservative hicks who are deeply affected by the trio's, uh, affectations. 

Confession: I enjoyed the film. Which just goes to show you shouldn't judge a movie by its general premise. Watch it, then judge. Oh, and Julie Newmar does make a cameo appearance at just the precise moment, which makes the movie worthwhile.

~ "I don't think of you as a man. I don't think of you as a woman. I think of you as an angel." ~ Carol Ann (Stockard Channing)
P.S. For answers to questions you may have about the film's title, read the post below this one.

'To Wong Foo' Questions & Answers

I know people have questions about the weird movie title, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, so I sought out some answers ... mainly because I wanted them myself.

First of all (although I already knew the answer to the question), who is Julie Newmar? She was an icon of the '60s in her recurring role as Catwoman on the ABC TV series, Batman. 

Newmar/Catwoman was sexy, sassy, successful, and as Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) proclaims, statuesque.

Next, who is Wong Foo? The answer is, according to Miss Newmar, that nobody knows, and it's actually a name made up for the movie. But the real answer is that Wong Foo was head bartender at the China Bowl Restaurant on East 44th Street in New York. Festooned with pictures of celebrities on its walls, China Bowl closed in 1993.

I wanted to know: What is Julie Newmar thanking Wong Foo for? The smart-aleck answer is ... "Everything." The real answer is that there is no answer. What? You mean to say they made up the autograph just for the movie? Well, they do things like that, you know. But not this time.

So then, is the Julie Newmar picture real? Yes. Miss Newmar autographed a black and white portfolio picture of herself, which was taken at her parents' swimming pool. It hung on the China Bowl wall for years until screenplay author Douglas Carter Beane spotted it sometime in the mid-'80s.

Finally, is that the real Julie Newmar at the end of the movie? Yes. She showed up one day to watch the filming and they asked her to do the cameo.

And that’s about the size of it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Phone Pix 57: Flowers

It's time to show you pictures taken with my phone camera of flowers once again; it's been a while, hasn't it?

Flowers are always beautiful additions to the blog. Not only that, they smell good too. Enjoy!

Cattleya Orchids, Sept. 13, 2013, Craig's Driveway, Honolulu, HI

Baby Cacti, Sept. 26, 2013, Home Depot Auto Mall, Fremont, CA

Red Hibiscus, Jan. 26, 2015, Craig's Son's Front Yard, Aiea, HI

Wall Arrangement, April 7, 2015, Queen's Hospital, Honolulu, HI

Golden Gladioli, April 21, 2015, 99 Ranch Market, Fremont, CA

(Don't Know), April 24, 2015, Home Depot, Fremont, CA

Colorful Beauty! June 9, 2015, Costco, Fremont, CA

Fake Bird of Paradise, June 22, 2015,
Queen's Hospital Financial Office, Honolulu, HI

Friday, November 13, 2015

Memorable Singing Performances in "Paint Your Wagon"

When the movie, Paint Your Wagon, came out in 1969, we finally got a chance to see famous people singing the famous songs that had been playing on the radio.

Three of the songs I truly enjoy from the movie are "I Talk to the Trees," "They Call the Wind Mariah," and "Wand'rin Star." Two of them are performed by men I only knew as actors and not singers: Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin.

The ballad, "They Call the Wind Mariah," was performed by veteran baritone, Harv Presnell (The Unsinkable Molly Brown). Presnell delivers a beautiful plaint of loneliness that stirs the heart. He has the perfect voice for the song.

Clint Eastwood has a rather pleasant voice and he performs a reflective and yearning rendition of another lonely song, "I Talk to the Trees." He often goes a little off-key, but that's to be expected of someone who hasn't had a lot of voice training.

Finally, the biggest surprise of all was Lee Marvin's performance of "Wand'rin Star." Now, if Presnell and Eastwood are lonely, it's not by choice. Marvin, however, makes it clear that for him, being alone is his choice. Or at least that's what we're led to believe. Was he just  rationalizing? Anyway, his bass has such a deep quality to it.

Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

When is a Kit the Same As a Dole?

... When you're talking about groups of pigeons and doves.

A group of pigeons is called a "kit." A group of doves is called a "dole." Betcha didn't know that. Neither did I, until I uncovered this picture I took a long time ago of pigeons and doves feeding in a local supermarket's parking lot.

I was going to describe the picture as a food convention of pigeons and doves, but recalled that groups of specific birds have specific names. For example, a "murder" of crows, a "murmuration" of starlings, a "bouquet" of pheasants, a "descent" of woodpeckers, a "tidings" of magpies ...

Gotta be specific, y'know.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Captain Phillips

Do remember when the Maersk Alabama container transport was hijacked in the high seas off the coast of Somalia in 2009? I don’t recall reading or seeing a lot of the details at the time, so I didn’t get that clear a story of what was going on.
Captain Phillips fills us in on details of the incident – Hollywood-ized, I’m sure, but because the movie is based on the true story, I like to think most of it was accurate. At any rate, it’s one of the more entertaining movies I’ve seen in a while. And believe me, I watch on average one movie a day.

It’s currently showing on FX.

Tom Hanks stars as Capt. Richard Phillips, whose quick thinking and actions saved the crew from becoming hostages. He himself was taken hostage by four Somali pirates led Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi). They were able to delay the boarding, but the pirates eventually prevailed.

The screen virtually exudes tension, only partially relieved when the Somalis are persuaded to leave via a sealed lifeboat after their own skiff went adrift. Unfortunately, they took Capt. Phillips hostage on a voyage that takes the tension to an even higher level.

Next thing you know, the lifeboat is surrounded by a Navy destroyer and launches, an aircraft carrier, and Navy SEAL marksmen.

And the best part? It’s based on the actual 2009 incident.

I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sign Language?

Hawaiian Rent-All at the corner of Beretania and McCully Streets is rather famous for its witty quotation sign that can hardly be missed as one drives toward downtown Honolulu.

The sign changes on a rather regular basis, and people turning left onto Beretania from McCully, or as I mentioned, those driving straight past it on the way to town, can't help but glance, read and chuckle.

When the original owners sold the business to a mainland proprietor, there was some concern that the punny signs would be discontinued. To the contrary, the quotes kept on keeping on, and even delved into controversial subjects that outraged the police, lawmakers and some of the public.

Did Hawaiian Rent-All capitulate? Not on your life! They've always stood by with their signs' language and don't change them for anything.

Except that ... they really should fix the wording that I spotted when I drove past this week:

Everybody knows that the possessive form of "our" is "ours," not our's." Right?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hey, I Do This Too!

Earl Pickles cracks me up. Check out how he removes his socks without squeezing over his stomach (a problem I too encounter):

I do exactly the same thing. I do have an additional problem, however. Sometimes when I flip the socks, they fly right up to my face and give me a whiff of their halitosis (toes in hell).

And I wonder how many people reading this know who Ed Sullivan was ...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hospital Craft Fair and Bake Sale

If you’ve got some free time on Friday and want something to do, drop by Kuakini Medical Center’s annual Holiday Craft Fair and Bake Sale.

It’s in the Hale Pulama Mau Auditorium from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., so you can’t dilly dally getting there.

I was at the hospital last year and dropped by the festivities. Looked like everybody was having fun! Maybe I should make a special trip there this week?

Hmmm, now that’s a thought; I can do some Christmas shopping a little early.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

‘Entertaining’ Cooking Show Hosts

A trend I've noticed in the past few years is the increasing proliferation of entertainers as hosts of the Food and Cooking Channels cooking shows. They provide refreshing changes from professional chefs, which is understandable because they've previously been welcomed into our homes on a regular basis.

Here are the ones I've noticed so far:

Patricia Heaton (Patricia Heaton Parties, Food Channel): She's best known as Raymond Barone's (Ray Romano) wife, Debra, for 10 seasons on the Emmy-winning CBS sit-com, Everybody Loves Raymond. I've seen every episode. She currently stars as Frances "Frankie" Heck on the ABC sitcom, The Middle, which I don't watch. Verdict: A-

Tia Mowry (Tia Mowry at Home, Cooking Channel): Tia played teenager Tia Landry on the ABC/The WB sitcom, Sister, Sister. She's a vegan. I've never seen her acting work; her cooking show is pretty average. Verdict: C

Valerie Bertinelli (Valerie's Home Cooking, Food Network): Best known as Barbara Cooper Royer on the CBS sitcom, One Day at a Time, (watched this regularly), Gloria on the CBS drama series, Touched by an Angel, and Melanie Moretti on TV Land's sitcom, Hot in Cleveland. Verdict: A-

Trisha Yearwood (Emmy-winning Trisha's Southern Kitchen, Food Network): Tricia is a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer whose signature song is "How Do I Live." She is married to country singer Garth Brooks. I watch her show, and especially like it when her sister Beth guest-cooks with her. Verdict: B+

Tiffani Theissen (Dinner at Tiffani's, Cooking Channel)): Tiffani currently stars as Elizabeth Burke on USA Network's White Collar. Young adults of the late-'80s and '90s will remember her as Kelly Kapowski on NBC's Saved by the Bell (1989-1993), and Valerie Malone on Fox's Beverly Hills, 90210 (1994-1998). I wasn't a great fan, but I did see quite a few episodes of each. Verdict: B-

Debi Mazar (Extra Virgin, Cooking Channel): Debi has a recurring role as press agent Shauna Roberts on HBO's Entourage. She's appeared in dozens and dozens of movies and television shows, usually playing a sharp-tongued "Jersey"-type woman. Her husband, Gabriele Corcos, co-hosts with her, preparing standard Italian dishes. She doesn't cook much on the show. Verdict: C+

Haylie Duff (Real Girl's Kitchen, Cooking Channel): A teen star, Haylie played Sandy Jameson on The WB's 7th Heaven. She has performed several times with her younger sister, Hilary, and has appeared in many television shows and features. I've watched a few of her cooking shows, but I'm not enamored of her. Verdict: C

Patti LaBelle (Patti LaBelle's Place, Cooking Channel): This multi-Emmy Award winning R&B singer is quite famous — most of us have at least heard of her. Rolling Stone put her on their list of "100 Greatest Singers." Unfortunately, I have never seen her cooking show. Verdict: Incomplete

I can't recall any male entertainers who host cooking shows.