Friday, April 21, 2017

Hilo Days: A Lesson in Life

It's what school is for, not just lessons in various subjects and academic disciplines, but in life as well. Lessons such as "Don't take kind-hearted people for granted."

In my old website, Hilo Days, I recounted such an incident that happened during my senior year at Hilo High School. Read, and see if you can learn a lesson too.

Cutting Class?

Our zoology/physiology teacher, Mr. James Noda, once turned me in for cutting class.

I didn't actually cut class of course, but he wanted to teach me a lesson. It was during the preparation for the annual senior dance.

I was to be in charge of lights, a rather innocuous job, but an important one none-the-less. No lights, no dance. I never took it seriously until the day of the dance when I discovered we were short about two dozen light bulbs.

So, I had to scramble, appropriate some from my home and my friends' homes, and buy some with no approved budget.

We had a meeting that started during the lunch hour, and ran late. Instead of asking permission from Mr. Noda, I stayed at the meeting that cut into the time I was supposed to be in Mr. Noda's class. So I just never went.

I got a note in my next class to see counselor Mr. Ung Soy Afook (initials "USA") immediately. He called me into his office and showed me a note he had gotten from Mr. Noda. It read: "Call Craig Miyamoto in and scold him for cutting my class!"

Now, this was the only time I ever talked to Mr. Afook, and when I was called to see him, I could only imagine the worst things happening. My ass was grass, right? Wrong.

Mr. Afook said Mr. Noda probably was just hurt that I hadn't consulted him before staying at the late meeting, and that I should just go up to him and apologize for not thinking clearly.

So, I went up to Mr. Noda's class immediately, hat in hand (well, not really, I didn't wear a hat), and apologized for being so stupid. What could he say? He forgave me, for after all, he knew I wanted to be a doctor, and I was one of his favorite students.

It goes without saying that I got an A in his class.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Reuning With an Old Friend on TCM

Turner Movie Classics recently aired some classic examples of excellent movie-making. One of these Oscar-winning films was West Side Story, which I DVR-ed and watched yesterday.

It was maybe the 10th time since I first saw it one fine Saturday afternoon at the Palace Theater in Hilo, Hawaii, during my senior year in high school. 

Okay. The movie. Take the time-honored story of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," and transplant it to New York City of the early '60s. Rename the main characters and set  them in rival gang brotherhoods.

Then, turn them into pop singers and masculine ballet dancers (it's a lot better than it sounds) performing the music of the revered Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). The dancing and choreography are exemplary, by the way.

Adapted from the 1957 Broadway musical, West Side Story is full of racial tension and stereotypes of the era. On the one side are the Jets—white Americans, led by Riff (veteran actor Russ Tamblyn). On the other side are the Sharks—Puerto-Rican immigrants led by Bernardo (newcomer George Chakiris).

Some pseudo-expletives slip into the lyrics and passed the censors, e.g., "fuggin'" and "krupp you!" The gang members make references to their rivals' ethnicity, leading me to wonder whether today's over-sensitive audiences would accept and sing the songs like my generation did. I can just see walkouts disputing the play and theater revivals of the film.

West Side Story swept through the Academy Awards that year, nominated for 11 Oscars, winning 10: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Moreno), Best Supporting Actor (Chakiris), Best Director (Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise), Best Music Score, and five technical category Oscars.

It was nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning three: Best Picture-Musical, Best Supporting Actress (Moreno), and Best Supporting Actor (Chakiris).


West Side Story's soundtrack held the #1 position on the Billboard album charts for a record 54 weeks. "Maria," "America" and "Tonight" are particular favorites of mine.

The leads—Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer—were largely ignored by the Academy, likely because Beymer's songs were dubbed by Jim Bryant, and Wood's by Marni Nixon.

Among those who tested for roles were Suzanne Plechette, Jill St. John, Audrey Hepburn, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Elizabeth Ashley, Anthony Perkins, Warrant Beatty, Bobby Darin, Burt Reyholds, Richard Chamberlain, Troy Donahue and Gary Lockwod. And, guess who director Robert Wise wanted to play Beymer's role ... Elvis Presley.

West Side Story held all the film musical records until Grease showed up and relegated it to second place..

Released Oct. 18, 1961 • Length: 152 minutes • Budget: $6 million • Gross: $43.65 million.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Don't Believe Everything They Tell You


Oh, if only airline flight attendants meant what they say. There's many a time (see some of my previous posts) when I wish I could have said this and had my wish granted.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Where Hawaii Ranks 48

Okay, so Hawaii has the highest welfare checks in the nation (see last list). At least we score high in four other very important categories for our residents and visitors.

Happiest State in America (Gallup , 2016) 
  1. HAWAII (Well Being Score 65.2)
  2. Alaska (64.0)
  3. South Dakota (63.7)
  4. Maine (63.6)
  5. Colorado (6.5)

Best State for Senior Health (Healthways, 2016)
(Adults 65+) 
  1. New Hampshire: Highest %-age of very good/excellent health, low prevalence of smoking
  2. Vermont: 91.3% have had mammograms, colonoscopies and other screens 
  3. Minnesota: Highest %-age of dental visits and able-bodied seniors
  4. HAWAII: Lowest %-age of depression, smoking, obesity, preventable hospitalizations
  5. Utah: High %-age of volunteerism

Nation’s Best Airports (ThePointsGuy.com, 2016) 
  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor, AZ (PHX)
  2. Portland, OR (PDX)
  3. San Diego, CA (SAN)
  4. Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
  5. Honolulu, HI (HON)

Top U.S. Destinations (TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards, 2017) 
  1. New York, NY
  2. MAUI, HI
  3. HAWAII ISLAND, HI
  4. OAHU, HI
  5. Las Vegas, NV

Highest Welfare Payments (Cato Institute, 2017) 
  1. HAWAII ($29.13 hourly equivalent)
  2. District of Columbia ($24.43)
  3. Massachusetts ($24.30)
  4. Connecticut ($21.33)
  5. New York ($21.01)


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Call for Help?

Lately, I've been waking up with songs on my mind, and they hang inside my head, invading the nooks and crannies of my brain. They linger and feed on my wants, my needs, my fears, and my subconscious.

They hang and hang and hang like soft and comfy sweaters in a clothes closet, morphing into full-blown ear worms. Perhaps they're precursors of what's just around the corner for me? I really couldn't say.

But listen: For the past few days, it's been Peter, Paul & Mary's "Early in the Morning." No big deal, you say, of course it's early in the morning. That's what I thought too. But it's been recurring.

And then, I paid attention to what the ear worm was singing to me (indulgence requested):

Well, early in the morning, about the break of day,

I ask the Lord, "Help me find the way!"

Help me find the way to the promised land,

This lonely body needs a helping hand,

I ask the Lord to help me please find the way.

When the new day's a-dawning, I bow my head in prayer.
I pray to the Lord, "Won't you lead me there?"
Won't you guide me safely to the Golden Stair?
Won't you let this body your burden share?
I pray to the Lord, "Won't you lead me please, lead me there?"

When the judgment comes to find the world in shame
When the trumpet blows, won't you call my name?
When the thunder rolls and the heavens rain
When the
sun turns black, never shine again
When the trumpet blows, won't you call me please, call my name!

Do I have any lingering inner suspicions that I may have lost my way in life? Has advancing old age resigned me to the possibility that the end is near? Do I need reassurance that my soul and spirit will be okay when I die? Do I need to reaffirm my faith?

Am I afraid of dying? 

Earth, Wind & Fire's song lyrics have always expressed my attitude on dying so well: I'm not scared of dying, and I don't really care. If there's peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.

I'm not afraid, but I would like some reassurance.




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Phone Pix 80: It's Spring!

It's spring at last! And what better way to celebrate than to share phone cam pictures of lovely flowers I'm taken over the past few years.

Enjoy!


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

City Mill, Honolulu, HI, March 21, 2014

City Mill, Honolulu, HI, March 21, 2014

Yellow Hibiscus, Son's House, Pearl City, Honolulu, HI,
an. 26, 2015

Poinsettia, My Driveway, Honolulu, HI, Feb. 26, 2015

Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, April 24, 2015

Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, April 24, 2015

Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, April 24, 2015

Fake Orchid, Queen's Hospital Financial Office,
Honolulu, HI, June 22, 2016

Pacific Commons Trader Joe's, Fremont, CA,
March 21, 2016

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I Lost My What?

It was either my 2017 Hyundai Accent rental car ... or my mind.

Thank God it was my rental car.

It happened at the Primm Valley Outlet Mall, about 45 minutes north of Las Vegas.

You know how malls have several entrances that look similar? That messed me up. I parked in a convenient spot next to an entrance where a guy had flag barriers up and was painting the exterior.

After spending an hour inside, I went back out to find my car. Nowhere to be seen. Damn, did someone swipe the car? Did I even lock it? Rental car, y’know, so I wasn’t sure.

I walked around for 20 minutes searching. I was sure I was near the right entrance because I saw “Wet Paint” signs on the wall. Made another round of the area, then gave up and went inside to sit down because my aging legs and back were aching.

I called the police and they told me to check with mall security. So I called security and the nice guy said to come to the office, just about 100 feet from where I was.

When I got there, he directed me back outside to a security car and a nice mall security officer who drove me around for 15 minutes looking for my car (“just to make sure”). Then, he decided to try around the entrance I’d come out of to join him.

And … there it was. I simultaneously felt overjoyed and stupid. He refused a tip, saying it happened all the time.

All the way back on the long drive into Las Vegas, all I could do was shake my head and mumble: “Craig, you’re so stupid. So stupid.”

I kid you not.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bellagio Valet Parking Fee

Well, okay, I learned something quite rudely when I stopped over in February at the Bellagio to gaze in awe at their seasonal Conservatory floral display.

They charged me a valet parking fee, the first I ever had to pay at a Las Vegas hotel or casino.

Thirteen bucks. Thirteen bucks that I could have spent on a light lunch in their hotel.

Instituted in January 2016, valet parking charges are collected at the Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Delano, Excalibur, Luxon, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, and Vdara. Even overnight guests have to ante-up. Even self-parkers.

I didn't find out until this February's Super Bowl vacation because I didn't get to Las Vegas in 2016.

*Mumble grumble*

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Palazzo Lunar New Year

Whenever I visit Las Vegas, I head on over to the Bellagio Conservatory to take pictures of its seasonal floral garden.

The very next thing I do is jump in my rental car, or a taxi, and motor over to the Palazzo Hotel & Casino, connected to the Venetian just down the street on the Las Vegas Strip.

Their atrium and lobby displays usually echo the Bellagio's in their theme, but they definitely are not copies in any way. All of their displays have their own special beauty and charm.

And so it was, that I visited them for the first time in three years during the recent Super Bowl weekend in February.

Enjoy! I did.








Here's wishing you a very
Happy Lunar New Year!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bellagio Lunar New Year

Every year, I try to get to Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend so I can bet on the game (it's a lot more fun watching the gridiron spectacle when you have a stake on the outcome).

Unfortunately, I had to skip two years due to family circumstances. However, I was able to wrangle a trip this year for the Feb. 5, 2017, game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots.

As usual, my first outing when I got there was the Bellagio Conservatry. During Super Bowl weekend, the theme is usually the Lunar New Year, and this year was no different--the Year of the Rooster.

Lately, I've been taking most of my pictures on my iPhone, but when it comes to blog article pix, I always fall back on my Sony cam. It's just more versatile and easier that way.

Hope you enjoy these:








Have a Belated
Kung Yee Fat Choy!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Random Musings 33

If a zombie opened a residence inn, would it be classified as a “dead and breakfast”?

* * * * *

I wonder if hummingbirds ever hold drag races.

* * * * *

Since I wear the pants in the family, why does my wife keep telling me which pants to wear?

* * * * *

Say I wanted to buy a prosthetic leg, but didn’t have enough money to buy a brand-new one. Could I get one at a second-hand store? Or would I have to find a second-leg store?

* * * * *

What do mummies do when they have to take a dump? Unwrap?


Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm Ba-a-ack. Fe-e-ed Me!

On a recent vacation to Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend, I decided to have some meals at restaurants I'd previously enjoyed, but hadn't been to in a while. 
 
When I was writing my restaurant blog, "A Place for My Taste," old favorites often took a back seat to new culinary adventures.
 
As I slowly age myself out of those exciting "Sin City" sojourns that I used to take four to six times a year after client business meetings and professional conferences across the United States, I need to re-experience the familiar.
 
I needed this step back. Here's where (and what) I ate during my recent Las Vegas deja vu adventure.
 
Chart House
Golden Nugget Hotel, 129 Fremont Street Experience, downtown Las Vegas
 
Half-Dozen Raw Oysters
Broiled Cold Water Lobster Tail
Cafe Bellagio
3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd. ("The Strip")
Bellagio Classic Eggs Benedict
Market Street Cafe
 
California Hotel and Casino, 12 E. Ogden Ave., downtown Las Vegas
 
Char-Broiled Butterfish in Miso Marinade
Jamms
1029 S. Rainbow Blvd.
 
Mediterranean Omelet (feta, spinach, olives);
Pot of Raisin Bread and Cheesy Grits
Ferraro's Italian Restaurant • Wine Bar
4480 Paradise Road
Osso Buco
 
Insalada Mimmo, Tiramisu
Dupar's Restaurant and Bakery
Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, 1 Fremont St.
 
Corned Beef Hash and Eggs
California Noodle House 
The California Noodle House is actually a new restaurant that replaced Pasta Pirate at the California Hotel within the past year. I included it in this post because it was new to me (start of new memories).
California Hotel and Casino, 12 E. Ogden Ave., downtown Las Vegas
 
Sea Bass Poached in Soy Miso Broth, with Good Fortune Noodles
Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Comparing Hawaiian Airlines Class Meals

Catching up ...

Last Thanksgiving, the wife and I visited our grandson in California and were able to experience both economy-class and first-class meals on our flights—economy going, and first-class returning.

Hawaiian always pride themselves on being the only airline that serves meals to its passengers on all flights out of Hawaii. Of course, as you move up in class, the quality of the meals are supposed to improve.

We were served lunch in the economy section outbound from Honolulu, and breakfast in the first-class cabin outbound from Oakland.


The economy lunch was teriyaki chicken with mixed veggies and rice garnished with shredded egg and flavored seaweed, accompanied by a bean salad and dessert cookie.

It really wasn’t bad—the chicken was tasty, the mixed vegetables were overcooked and a bit soft (but what do you expect from frozen?); the bean salad was good, one of my faves; and the cookie was … well, it was a cookie.

First-class breakfast was a bit different, fancy in concept. We started off with Baked Brie in Phyllo, with Honey Berry Compote and Crispy Prosciutto Chips. A very nice start.

The wife isn't quite the cheese lover, so the baked brie didn't much strike her fancy.


This was followed by a Caramelized Butternut Squash and Onion Bread Pudding with Chicken Apple Sausages and Wine-Poached Pear. Both the bread pudding and sausages were a bit dry by the time we were served. The pear wasn’t bad.

Finally, I had hot green tea and a slice of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake for dessert.

You know what? I’d rate the economy lunch and the first-class breakfast about the same. One was better than I expected; the other not so much.