Saturday, June 18, 2016

Taking a Break

I will return, but don't wait up for me.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Classic Japanese Films 2: Erotic Stories

Again, my new Roku 3 and HULU are allowing me to re-watch a number of classic Japanese films that I haven't seen in a long, long time.

The Japanese are masters of erotic films that tap you on the shoulder and hold on to your attention. In the past week or so, I've watched three of them: Onibaba ("Demon Hag," pronounced OH-ni-bah-bah), In the Realm of the Senses (AI no korida in Japanese, l'Empire des sens in French), and Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna)

There's a jealous woman about and she's after a man who's seduced her daughter-in-law. Heck, the demon mask alone is enough to give you the shivers and keep the light on at night.

Director: Kaneto Shindō. Released: 1964. Length: 103 minutes

In the Realm of the Senses
It's a true story. She's got passion in her soul ... and so does he. And, apparently, so does the director. Gotta warn you, there's explicit sexual activity on the screen. Explicit.

Director Nagisa Oshima. Released 1976 (France and Japan), 1977 (US). Length: 108 minutes

Woman in the Dunes
An entomologist falls into a sand pit and can't get out. Luckily (?) there's a young woman there with whom he eventually connects. Unfortunately, he can't get out; the villagers won't let him. What?

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara. Released: 1964. Length: 123 minutes (147 minutes director's cut)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Phone Pix 69: Foliage

When you think of plants, I'm sure the color green comes to mind immediately. But the thing is, stems, trunks and foliage come in all colors.

Sure, there's green, but there's a myriad rainbow of hues as well. Witness:

Lucky Bamboo, Aug. 30, 2013, Times Beretania, Honolulu, HI

Son's House, Sept. 20, 2013, Fremont, CA

Tree Crown, Sept. 29, 2013, Houge Park, Fremont, CA

Tree Crown, Sept. 29, 2013, Houge Park, Fremont, CA

Tree Crown, Sept. 29, 2013, Houge Park, Fremont, CA

Tree Crown, Sept. 29, 2013, Houge Park, Fremont, CA

Calocasia, March 21, 2014, City Mill, Honolulu, HI

Ti Leaf, March 21, 2014, Likelike Drive-In, Honolulu, HI

Croton, March 21, 2014, Likelike Drive-In, Honolulu, HI

Emerging Foliage, Sept. 25, 1014,
Queen's Hospital Harkness Building, Honolulu, HI

Elephant's Ear, Sept. 25, 1014,
Queen's Hospital Harkness Building, Honolulu, HI

Recently Sprouted Foliage, Jan. 9, 2016, Driveway Wall, Honolulu, HI

Monday, June 13, 2016

Valuable Advice from One Who Knows

Since Friday the 13th falls on a Monday this month (heh heh), I thought I'd give you a little warning that should save yourself some skin and blood.

If you're going to get one of these (Japanese mandoline slicer):

Be careful or you're going to get a fingernail clipped when you least expect it:

It could have been worse ... much worse. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Unopenable Raisinets Box

Have you ever bought a box of Raisinets at the movie theater?

Did you have problems opening it in the dark?

The frigging boxes are shrink-wrapped and in reality, hermetically sealed. You can't open them without a knife, or a set of sharp teeth that can gnaw through the cellophane wrap. If you get the cellophane to peel off, it creates static electricity and clings to your fingers.

Then you have to find the little perforated hole and open it up that way. What a humbug. They should sell them in reusable plastic containers.

I'd stop buying Raisinets at the movies, but they're tasty and I always rationalize that the raisins make them a healthy snack.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hilarious Actual Headlines

Since we recently talked about what’s in newspapers, here’s more hilarity gleaned from your local city newspapers.

I may have posted some of these before, but I’m too lazy to go back and check. They would warrant reposting anyway. Sorry, but I don’t have any source verification information.

Enjoy! And don’t laugh so hard you pee in your pants.

  • Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
  • Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
  • Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  • Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
  • Miners Refuse to Work After Death
  • Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
  • War Dims Hope for Peace
  • If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
  • Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
  • Enfield Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
  • Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
  • Man Struck by Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
  • New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
  • Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas In Spacecraft
  • Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
  • Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
  • Hospitals Are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
  • Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Daily Newspaper Routine

I love Big Nate; I think Lincoln Peirce does a wonderful job with the comic strip.

Okay, now that we know Big Nate’s and Mrs. Czerwicki’s daily newspaper-reading routine (obituaries first? Really?), here’s mine.

While having breakfast, I read headlines in the news and entertainment sections. I then leaf through the sports section to see if there are any stories/columns about the Atlanta Braves or the University of Southern California Trojans. More likely than not, there is none.

Then, my favorite part, I read the funnies faithfully and carefully, for there is more wisdom there to be found than elsewhere in the newspaper. Except for Darby Conley’s “Get Fuzzy”; for some reason, I just can’t get into that one.

And that’s about the size of it.

Take THAT, Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Where Hawaii Ranks 45: Summer Vacations

Thinking about vacationing in Hawaii this summer? Just know it's not cheap.

WalletHub has examined their metrics and listed the top 80 summer travel destinations in the United States this year.

In their recent 2016 study. Honolulu ranks 78th, or third worst in the nation (see first list below). Additionally, it costs the most to get here, and to stay for a while.

Worst U.S. Summer Travel Destinations 
  1. Bridgeford-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  2. New Haven-Milford, CT
  4. Syracuse, NY
  5. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

Highest Travel Cost and Most Hassles 
  2. New Haven-Milford, CT
  3. Bridgeford-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  4. Bakersfield, CA
  5. Fresno, CA

Highest Local Costs
Accommodations, transportation, meals, entertainment 
  1. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  2. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  5. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

On another semi-related note, Hawaii ranks highest among the same set of cities for worst climate for your skin:

U.S. Cities with Worst Climate for Your Skin (WalletHub, 2016)
Ultraviolet index, humidity, wind speed, number of extremely hot days 
  2. (Tie) Miami, FL
  3. (Tie) Pembroke Pines, FL
  4. (Tie) Hialeah, FL
  5. (Tie) Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Friday, June 3, 2016

Hilo Days: A Sweet Conflagration

Very few kids get to experience a terrifying event such as setting a sugar cane field on fire ... accidentally. I got to experience that and it's been etched indelibly in my mind since that day. No wonder I'm such a mess in my old age.

From my former website, Hilo Days, here's the story:

The Sugar Cane Field

There was a cane field behind our house that served as our own personal "jungle adventure." We used to burrow our way through the tall sugar cane, blazing trails to hidden cane field "forts" that could only be found with a set of secret directions. Actually, I don't know why we thought they were secret—the forts were only a few feet away from the lawn, and anyone passing by could see us if they peered carefully into the plants.

We'd make a small clearing, and put up handkerchief flags to mark our territory. We'd pretend that evil knights on horseback were on the prowl, and when we discovered a gang of them invading territory, we'd spring out to confront them, and begin jousting, using the dried cane tassel stalks as lances.

They were just perfect for the job—stiff enough to stand up to some roughhousing, but brittle enough so they'd shatter when they were plunged into your enemy's body as you rode pell-mell toward each other on your armored horses.

Cane fields are hazardous. Not only are there tons of wildlife in there (spiders, centipedes and rats), the plants themselves were booby-traps just waiting to inflict small, jagged, shallow leaf cuts with their serrated edges, and with the insidious tiny cane hairs that imbed themselves into the skin if you merely brushed up against the stalks.

Most of the time, the cane field just sat there, getting taller and taller. Then, every two years, things got a little more exciting with the biennial cane harvests. One day, you'd come home from school to find the cane field burned, trampled, cut, flattened. There'd be men with big machetes, bulldozers with claws, and heavy yellow trucks all over the place, cutting and knocking down the harvest, our cane forts along with it.

Every now and then you'd see the remnants of a long-forgotten handkerchief flag poking up from the piles of cut cane. There'd be that cloying sweet smell in the air as the sugar juice leaked from the broken stalks and mixed with the soil. The odor is unforgettable.

And the critters! Spiders, cockroaches, centipedes, rats, and even a mongoose or two came out of the cane field onto our lawns to seek haven from man and machinery. The neighborhood dogs went wild playing around with the creepy, squirmy critters.

That was the time when the cane flumes made their appearance. Oh, they were there all along, but the growing cane hid them from view for nearly two years.

We'd play with the flumes, sending paper boats hurtling down the rapid water that roared by. We had heard stories of other children who got their thrills by jumping into the flumes and riding several hundred feet before escaping.

The neighborhood kids and I never did try it, especially after a story appeared in the newspaper about a boy who was killed at the Wailuku mill. He had been riding the flumes with friends, and had been swept into the sugar mill where he apparently was ground to bits in the machinery. I could just picture his friends and the guilt they'd carry for the rest of their lives.

For the longest time, I looked for traces of red whenever I used sugar. Silly, of course, but hearing Dad talk about the incident (the boy was Dad's patient) made quite an impression on me. I never even thought of riding a flume after that.

You know, I burned the cane field down once by mistake.  According to the Tribune-Herald, about four acres went up in flames. It happened because ... well, I forget the exact reason why, but I was upset with Mom because she wouldn't let me do something, or had scolded me, or something like that.

At any rate, I decided the hell with it all, I was going to clean out some of the tall grass that was growing between our house and the Kutsunai's, and the cane field. I had forgotten that I had sprinkled some poison chemicals there earlier.  Now, this chemical that we used looked something like rock salt. You sprinkled it on the ground, and the weeds just died and dried. Touch a match to the weeds and they went up in a sparkling flame that had a life of its own.

So anyway, there were the tall, dry weeds, just begging to be cremated. So I cremated them. Did the strip next to the Kutsunai's house. No problem, so why not try the strip next to the cane field. Big problem. Bi-i-i-ig problem!

The fire jumped into the cane field before my very eyes. As soon as I got over the shock, I raced to the house, hooked up the garden hose, turned on the water full-blast, and rushed to douse the spreading flames.

Picture this: A panicky kid holding a hose with the water shooting out the business end, arcing high into the air, and landing about 10 feet short of the fire. Talk about a picture of futility, this was it. Somebody should have taken a photo; it would have won an award.

Mom had seen what was going on from the kitchen and called the fire department. She came stomping out of the house, pointed her finger at me, then to the house, and ordered me to go inside. I began bawling and ran into the house, whimpering "I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it!"

With clanging bells and wailing sirens, two fire trucks arrived (almost instantaneously, it seemed). One situated itself on the street and hooked up to the fire hydrant on Waianuenue Avenue (helluva long hook-up).

The other rolled right up onto our back lawn, cutting deep tire ruts into the grass, ruts that remained as scars for years, as a grim reminder of my dark deed. It sure made mowing the lawn a lot harder in the ensuing years.

Firemen jumped off the trucks, some dragging firehoses into the burning cane field, others with water tanks on their back. I came outside to watch; it was so fascinating. Why, it would have been awfully exciting had I not remembered that I was the one who caused all this commotion.

The next day, a small story appeared in the paper, something about a four-acre piece of cane field that caught fire. Nothing about the boy who started the conflagration. Once again, Dad's position saved me embarrassment. Of course, Dad had to pick up the losses suffered by the owner of the cane field. Actually, the owner made some good money for the first time in years, since he was insured, and Dad's contribution helped insure a profit.

Dad took me to meet the owner so I could apologize to him. Nice Japanese man. When we got to his house, he and his friends were all sitting around, red-faced, with bottles of beer in their hands, and plenty of pupus on the table.

The entire conversation was pretty innocuous and went something like this: 
  • Owner: "Eh, join us, Doc, get plenty pupus!"
  • Dad: "Thanks, but I just brought my son to apologize."
  • Me: "I'm sorry."
  • Owner: "No worry, no worry."
  • Dad: "Gotta go."
  • Owner: "Okay, thanks, Doc."
  • Me: "Bye."

Stimulating conversation, no? Dad and I were uncomfortable as hell, but the owner was feeling no pain. After all, Dad said, they were celebrating their first profit in years (left unsaid: "Thanks to my stupidity").

Yep, me and that cane field, we go 'way back.

It's no longer there, of course. The land was converted to pasture land when I was in high school, and the only excitement was when a cow escaped and went careening down Ekaha Street as we watched from the safety of our porches. Eventually, the pasture was transformed into residential lots, and families moved in, and kids romped where firemen once extinguished an unplanned, but exciting cane field fire.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Phone Pix 68: Stuff on Walls

I sometimes make an intrusive fool of myself, just standing and staring at walls in hotels, museums ... even restaurants. Can't help it. There some beautiful stuff hanging there.

Trying to show some respect for the people around me (especially those standing between the wall hanging and my camera), I patiently wait for a chance at a good shot.

Here are the results of some of my efforts:

Egyptian Themes at the Luxor Hotel & Casino
March 9, 2015, Las Vegas, NV

Ohlone Indian History at Mission San Jose
Aug. 14, 2016, Fremont, CA

Contemporary Art at the Hilton, Oakland Airport
March 27, 2016, Oakland, CA

It's time for me to stare at more art-adorned walls.