December 19, 2011

Some Things Are Worth The Wait

like seeing this sunset:

and reconnecting with an old friend.

November 11, 2011

The Week In Prettiness

Thank you, visitors from Japan!

October 29, 2011

No I Was Not In A Car Accident

I wish I had a more exciting story to tell about my scars. I forget about them and then see the reaction on peoples' faces and remember. It's the scar over my graft that's the worst. It looks like someone cut a slice out of a cocktail weiner and plopped it next to my nose.

That said, I look 98% less like roadkill than I did a few weeks ago.

I haven't been too good about my scar treatment, mainly because one set of scars is healed but could use it, while the other is still scabby and not ready. Last night I went ahead and used Blaine's silicone scar pads on everything. The height of my graft scar was reduced by half overnight. No kidding. It's not worked that remarkably on anything else, but I am very grateful for what it's doing on my cocktail weenie.

Tater Harvest

It's about that time of year, or at least I think so. I have not been schooled in potatoes -- I simply toss them in a tub full of dirt and see what happens.

Today was a summer day that just happened to occur in late October. The weather was warm, there were estate sales, and mrguy was out practicing for a show next week and rescuing a bird that needed to go to the wildlife rescue center.

I stayed home with the cats and sewed them two catnip toys. Then came the pineapple guava harvest. Then I just couldn't keep my hands off the potato tub.

This was today's bounty:

All that and our alula is finally in flower.

October 9, 2011

October 8, 2011

Eddie G.

After a few dense and meaty days back at work, I took two days off to enter into my latest project with my surgical dermatologist.

We both underestimated the extent of the work. In the 4 days since, have slowly been regaining the original shape of my face, but not before morphing into a monkey / Einstein beast, and finally settling into a few days where I resembled a young Edward G. Robinson. Darn!

Not only that, a necessary graft saw him cutting into a frown line to fill in the hole he'd made elsewhere. I have two public engagements this week, so I'm just going to have to smile a lot and hope that people don't notice?

Hawaii 2011, Day 8

What did we do that last day? We mostly puttered around Honolulu. Mrguy took me to the Queen Kapiolani Hotel, where we tried to find the painting featured on the cover of the Na Kane record. It took a while, but we did it. And we set foot in the Peacock Room, where Na Kane used to play. Mission accomplished! The lanai at the Queen Kapiolani has this terrific closeup view of Diamond Head. They also have live entertainment there, so I think we'll come check it out next time we're in town.

It started to get hot. HOT! We tried to have lunch at Ojiya, but it was closed for the day. So we dragged our hungry sweaty selves into Pho #1, which turned out to be amazing. The goi ga was so delicious. The restaurant was cold like a refrigerator. No screaming children. Few tourists. We will definitely be back.

Then off to Antiques Alley, where I picked up a little something for someone. AA is what the antiques stores in Kailua could be if the people who owned them had taste. There is still way too much crap, but the owners buy interesting stuff and are genuinely nice. I love this store. It is a feast for the eye. And the owner gave me a Konishiki POG piece. What a sweetheart.

As is often our ritual, we drove around for a while doing an architecture tour, and we also tried to find some of the sculptures from Sculptures in the Sun. We revisited the Queen Emma Building and took many pictures of the Hawaiian Holiday Apartments, a true fiesta for the eyes. Hawaiian Holiday Apartments feature a three-story cement bas-relief by Hon-Chew Hee of people in all manner of activities, even dancing the hula, fishing, and eating breadfruit and pineapple. For a good time, go to 1320 Wilder St. in Honolulu and have a look:

Time for another shout out to Sculpture in the sun: Hawaii's art for open spaces. I've been trying to locate Hawaiian Holiday for years after seeing it on a previous trip, and it was listed in this wonderful book.

After architecture gawking, we went back home for a little rest before seeing Cyril Pahinui.

Cyril was good. I wish he spent more time talking about himself and less talking about his talented young bandmates. You can't really fault him for his generosity of spirit. He's a real mensch. A wedding party was seated next to us, so after his first set we moved next door to the Halekulani.

The Halekulani was...the Halekulani. The mai tais are $12 now. There are no chips and dip on the menu. Good thing I figured out the recipe for the tobiko sour cream! I make it at home when I can. The lovley Kanoe Miller is as wonderful as always, and the music was fab.

And that's Hawaii 2011. I don't think we could have done more than we did. We let go of a lot of old stuff, found new stuff, and have new places we want to go for next time (more Kailua, music in Waimanalo, and I definitely want another mochi anpan from Nene Goose Bakery).

Here's to new stuff and the next trip to Hawaii.

Hawaii 2011, Day 7

We're getting into the final stretch, here!
On Tuesday we went to Kailua via Waimanalo. We made our pilgrimage to the Akebono statue. Then we went to the nuts and ukulele store next door. The sweet guy who owned it wasn't there, and it just didn't have the same vibe. I don't need to go back (except to see the statue).

Then we went to Kailua Beach Park, which we'd been hoping to do for years. It was lovely. We found some shade in an area that had a minimum number of screaming children and relaxed for a bit. It was sooo beautiful.

They also use a beautiful font to mark the women's room:

Hunger overtook us, so we went into town to look for Ba-Le, the Vietnamese sandwich shop that we had loved so much last time. Waaaah! Not only closed, but also fenced off.

Reaching into his new/old book on okazuya, mrguy decided we needed to go to an okazuya in Kailua. It was in a strip mall far away from town. It was just empty store fronts, the place where you go to get your vehicle registered, the okazuya and a bakery. We went into the okazuya and they hardly had any food left. Just some oden items bobbing around in broth. Clearly it was going to take us a while to find something to eat, so I suggested we go to the nearby Nene Goose Bakery for a beverage. mrguy noticed this review that said that their specialty was mochi anpan. No idea what that was, so we bought some.

We took a seat outside a salon on some plastic chairs. And then the ladies who were ahead of us at the bakery struck up a conversation.

Roughly 40 minutes later we parted after having had the BEST conversation of our trip. They were very surprised to see us in this out of the way spot eating mochi anpan, and extra surprised when they figured out that we were tourists. One of the women was from Waimanalo, so I mentioned that we had just made our pilgrimage to the Akebono statue. Then we explained that we were big sumo fans. Turns out that this woman is Konishiki's sister-in-law, so that started a long conversation about Hawaiians in sumo (one of my favorite topics), Jesse's (Takamiyama's) entry into sumo, how much this woman thought of Chiyonofuji, and the kindness and smarts of the local guys who went to Japan to enter sumo. I can barely have a conversation about sumo anywhere I go, so it was a real pleasure to hang out with these ladies and talk about sumo and local goodness. We asked them what they like to do when they're on vacation and the woman from Waimanalo went into a hilarious monologue about booking a hotel room in Waikiki for her family, using every amenity and never leaving the hotel.

They were curious about the other kinds of stuff we do when we're on the island, so we talked about music. Turns out that one of the new joints next to the Akebono statue in Waimanalo is owned by the family of one of these ladies. It is a bar with live music and we have their blessing that we'd fit in o.k. This will be on our list for next time.

Our ladies also knew where Ba-Le had gone. It's one of their favorite places to eat also, which further blew their minds. With their help we found it and had a yummy lunch. Coconut taro tapioca? Yum.

Then we went to Hungry Ear Records, always great, and the antique stores. I never need to go to those stores again. Happy to sit in the car while someone else does it. That one guy is still extra grumpy and the lady who owns his place and the other place has TOO MUCH STUFF!

Later that afternoon, the farmer's daughter met us over at the Ilikai Bar & Grill for a few sets of Waipuna. They have been joined by David Kamakahi in this incarnation, and were really great. Much better in person because they're so dialed into each other and you get Kale Hannah's dry wit. He's the bass player from Project Kalo Patch who, at the end of their set at Aku Bone last visit, heckled us from the stage, saying "We played an extra twenty minutes because you was late". This time his between-song banter included trying to auction off young David Kamakahi. Funny.

We felt inspired after seeing Waipuna. Can't wait to see them again, and hope to catch the farmer's daughter the next time as well.

Hawaii 2011, Day 6

We started our day with breakfast at Ihop. Sometimes only an egg breakfast would do. Then we went to see some of our favorites in Kaimuki. Some of my favorite facades are hanging in:

The Goodwill didn't have the good stuff we remembered. But Harry's Music, where Jerry Byrd used to teach steel guitar, is still in business and as idiosyncratic as ever. I hope they stay in business for a billion years.

It was blazing hot and we were somehow hungry so we had lunch at Town. Town continues to be a great restaurant at a more than reasonable price. The Town Lemonade is still as full of parsley goodness as I remember.

Then back to the convention center for the exhibit crit session and appraisal. Appraisal? Not for me. I slunk off. Time for more new stuff with mrguy.

I had found Chuck's Cellar in some of my pre-trip research, and it seemed like it had been there forever and could be cool. This is mrguy's new favorite place. It's cool, very dark, and is an old school place to have a steak or lobster dinner. There is also a long bar for those who are not as interested in dinner. I had thought that Betty Loo Taylor would be the musical entertainment for the evening, but it turned out to be Satomi, who mrguy had read about in the New York Times. She was really great.

Everything about this place was great, to tell the truth, except for the food, but that's not why we were there. No crying children. Air conditioning. Happy hour. Slinky jazz. And a shout out to our bartender, Virginia, who genuinely likes people and is good company. We wished that The Big Guy could have been there with us. He would have loved it, and we'll be back.

The night was not over. We had heard that there was a viewing party for Hawaii Five-0 at Apartm3nt. This consolidated many favorite things into one place: Hawaii, Hawaii Five-0 and Century Center, one of my fave buildings.  This interior detail is a quotation of the exterior detail on the lower floors. Above? A large mirrored high-rise.

Apartm3nt is in this building and was causing us to enter. So good! It was Monday, so the place was pretty empty. Our waitress was dressed in satin shorts, like a cigarette girl. Overhead, multiple flatscreens showed the movie Labyrinth. Here's the nightly special:

We supped and hoped that others would arrive to watch Hawaii Five-0 with us. Finally a table of people arrived to join the party, and one of them was an actor who had appeared in this episode (and next week's). He was excited and his family was excited. Local flavor :) This episode also featured the Wailana Coffee House, a local landmark which is right next door to the hotel where we were staying. We could actually tell that from one shot to the next, a person being pursued would not have ended up where the camera went. So fun!

At long last we went home, very satisfied with our day. Here's to new stuff!!

Hawaii 2011, Day 5

On day 5 I went to early sessions and then we went to Akasaka, the small yummy restaurant behind the Ala Moana, for lunch. They are always so nice there and the food is so good. Very restful. Plus we had the restaurant to ourselves. Mrguy took me back to the convention center early, and I spent about 40 minutes listening to Uncle Matt Love play slack key and sing in his gorgeous falsetto. Here he is conferring with a woman who he was coaxing into performing a hula for us. It was really inspiring to hear him.

The rest of the afternoon, spent at the Mission Houses Museum was also inspiring. The guy who toured us has made many partnerships that help him get things done at a minimum cost. Akamai!

Evening was the best, though. An evening at the Bishop Museum had me hanging out and learning to pound poi with Uncle Sol Apio. I had him all to myself. I can't even tell you how exciting that was.

Then I caught up with the farmer's daughter and we hung out and I ate my pai ai and listened to the band. Later, the lava presentation was really dramatic. This is the setting:

Once the lava was remelted and poured out onto a sheet pan, it began to spontaneously explode. Very impressive. I wish I could have taken mrguy. While I was at the museum, he scoped out our future destinations for Tuesday and Wednesday's nights out :)

Hawaii 2011, Day 4

Was this the day we went to Jelly's Honolulu? I think so.
But not before we saw the Aloha Festival Flower Parade. It turns out that the parade passed right by our hotel, so our lanai gave us the perfect perch for watching the festivities.
There were marching bands, lots of people in Volkswagen bugs with floral sprays mounted onto their hoods, horse riding groups. Super fun. Each of the riding groups that was in the parade was followed by a highly decorated pooper scooper wagon. Even the poop wagons were announced as part of the parade.

My favorite part? A local Christian high school band played an instrumental version of Koni Au. If you are unfamiliar with the song, here is a translation of the hui:

I throb, I throb for liquid
I throb for cool liquid
Royal liquid, gin
To make life cool and peaceful

Go Team!
After that, we went to Kaka'ako Kitchen. It felt weird to be there without ms scandiwaiian and the Finn, but we were hungry! Kaka'ako makes the weirdest, tastiest veggie burger. Egg whites, vegetables and something else (tofu?), grilled until crispy outside and creamy inside. Super yummy.
At Jelly's in Honolulu, mrguy found "Sculptures in the Sun," a book I've been looking for about public sculptures in Honolulu. Now I know which artist made the sculpture we admired at the Ala Moana yesterday. We bought a bunch more records.
The evening found us trooping up to the Liljestrand House, designed by Ossipoff, and later heading down to the Contemporary Museum, where we were introduced to the farmer's daughter. New character enters blog!
I bonded with some of my fellow conventioneers, and we had a jolly ride back to our hotel.

September 24, 2011

Hawaii 2011, Day 3

Day 3 was a full day of museum conference fun.

Followed by a reception. If you are Facebook friends with the Honolulu Academy of Arts and purchase something at the giftshop, they will give you a set of greeting cards featuring a painting of hanging lobster claw by Georgia O'Keeffe.

After the reception we were hungry. Mrguy had been having a special feeling about a restaurant that sits about two blocks away from our hotel. Chiba-ken, you are a yummy restaurant. Our first new stuff to love!

I walked in and right off the bat wanted to buy a tshirt. Excellent design.

We sat at the bar, which I generally hate doing, but mrguy encouraged it. Again, it must have been his spidey sense. It was completely un-intimidating. The chefs were well worth seeing, and their presentation was fabulous.  We had a little of everything.

While we were eating, Mrguy noticed that the sushi chefs both had coffee cups from Kaimuki Grill. I asked the food runner if he could find out what the connection is. Not only was that restaurant in my home town, but I had eaten there. It was Chiba-ken's owner's former restaurant. Now I was eating his sushi again in Honolulu. Too cosmic. Meant to be. We bought t-shirts and I will wear mine at the conference today.

So ends Day 3

Hawaii 2011, Day 2

We've really been struck by what's changed since we were last here. We had a good run with our old stuff, but have been disappointed by what is not here for us this time. Our determination?

Find new stuff.

Here's the old stuff:

1) AM940 appears to be gone. What happened? KINE is nice but has way too much syrupy music
2) Aku Bone Lounge is pau
3) SPOILER ALERT! Keawe 'Ohana is good, but the Marriott needs a new sound system. We could barely hear, which reduced our enjoyment. Alan Akaka's dry wit is almost my favorite part of the show and I couldn't quite make out what he was saying
4) No more turntable at Jellys. This means that I will have to use my gut more when buying records. I remember last time that I would have bought some really crap records by sweet-looking old grandmas if I had not been able to listen to them last trip.

On the upside:
1) Jellys exists, in two locations
2) The Keawe 'Ohana is still really darned good

So Day 2 was really nice. The IHOP breakfast cured what ailed us. We bought super yummy food at Shirokya, at Ala Moana Center. We paused for a while to look at the beautiful sculpture and the koi pond. There seemed to be more than one breed. I don't recall seeing the fish with the big foreheads before. They seemed to hang out together. Mrguy dubbed them the Mensa Club :)

Then off to to the North Shore. Oogenesis is still my favorite store in the world, but nothing really fit.

We took our lunch to the beach, slathered on sunscreen and ate our delicacies. Within five minutes I was truly suffering. I was wearing a large hat, so my face was fine, but my legs were burning to a crisp. I hope you find the photo (which I will add later) amusing. I used newspaper as a sun barrier so that we could finish eating on the beach. When I got up, the ink from the newspaper registered the headlines on my sunscreen covered legs. It wasn't a long trip to the beach, but it was so pretty.

On the way back to town there were stubborn rainbows that wouldn't go away.

In the evening we saw the Keawe 'Ohana at the Beach Marriott. A visiting musician sat in during the second set and played Waikiki Chickadee, which made us happy, as did Kumu Akaka's At The Coco Palms.

So ends day 2.

September 22, 2011

Hawaii 2011, Day 1

We finally made it to Hawaii. About time!

The flight seemed quick and was uneventful except for running into friends from ukulele class who were on their honeymoon. Awwww.

First stop, as usual, was La Mariana Sailing Club, that lovely oasis on Sand Island Access Road. It's been smartened up a bit, and was a shinier version of its usual quirky self. The joint was hopping, which we were glad to see, and there were many ladies there at lunchtime. Our waitress had an amazing Texas drawl, reminding us of our Texan friend who used to work for the Hawaiian tourist board.

We could not resist going to Jelly's in Aiea for a brief visit. I'm on a mission to find a particular 3 Scoops of Aloha tape that Akebono carried with him from Hawaii to Japan when he first signed up for sumo. Found something close. Have questions.

Then to Ward center for slippahs and books.

After a stop at the hotel we made our usual pilgrimage to the restaurant we now call Mama's. I have to say that it also was a shinier version of itself. The food was more delicate.

Sunset Serenaders were on the bandstand at the Halekulani. It's amazing how much you feel the influence of the Kahauanu Lake Trio and Hui 'Ohana in the bands in Waikiki. We felt bad for them when the request was for Pearly Shells. What would be the antidote to that? Makalapua?

And the people watching at the Halekulani was amazing last night. A woman near the edge of the stage sat with a big sullen-looking guy. She reminded us vaguely as a better-dressed version of the hooker who used to appear at the Super Safeway in the old place late at night wearing a long t-shirt and panties. The Honolulu version was a scary skinny lady propped up on high platforms, with sparkly hat, mucho braceletage. Wowsa. They had their cheese plate and beverages sent up to their room because nothing says romance like cheese, I guess.

I am now paying for that second mai tai.

September 18, 2011

Diners Part 2, or, My Life As A Diner Waitress

Food service came naturally to me. Background in an esoteric liberal arts major? Check. Love of food? Check. Desire to help people? Check. Ability to multitask? Check. It was September after my graduation from college, and my deadline for being removed from the family teat loomed. A friend took me to the diner.

I started my training the next day.

It wasn't too far off from the scenes in Mildred Pierce in which she learned how to order: "two bugs on a raft!" or whatever. In the case of my diner, there was a system in which ingredients were asssigned numeric values. For the kitchen, it went like this:

1. Swiss cheese
2. American
3. Ham
6. Tuna

If you put parens around your ingredients when writing down your order, it meant something was grilled. No parens meant cold.


23/ Mac = Ham and cheese sandwich with a side of mac
(23)/ Pot = Grilled ham and cheese with a side of potato salad.

Drinks were also numbered. 33 was Coke, 44 was root beer. 1 was milk, and J was coffee (Joe is slang for coffee).

The head waitress was a woman named Grace, who ran a really tight ship. She'd worked at the restaurant for over 30 years by the time she and I were acquainted. She wore her hair in an Ann Miller style bouffant flip and she'd regale us with the stories of working at the diner in the 1940's when the restaurant was a more formal place in a more formal time. Ladies wore gloves and the waitress uniform included platform shoes.

When I worked there, however, the diner was in transition, as was that part of the city. It was frequented by many elderly people, some of whom had been dining there since the days when Grace wore platform shoes. After school we served kids from the high school. In the afternoons and evenings we served a lot of college students, including the library students who I idolized. We also served a lot of street people. We turned nobody away. This had its upside and its downside. I felt like this was the right thing to do, but if anything ever went wrong on one of those crazy night shifts nobody backed us up. On the odd occasion when a guy was being chased through the restaurant by another guy with a gun, Jimmy the cashier would pretend he didn't see anything.

The waitresses who raised me, Grace, Margene, Lulu and the young one whose name I can't recall (!) were a resilient bunch of characters, all with their own charms. Lulu was the most timid, had a sweet voice and had been a dancer. She wore her hair in a bouffant and was round but light on her feet. Margene talked like a truck driver, and out of the side of her mouth. My two favorite Margene-isms are "You make a better door than you do a window" (when you were blocking her view) or "I'll give you a nickel if you do x." The nickel was not actually forthcoming, but I'd do the task anyway. The young kid was a hard-working single mother who lived in worry that her own child would be pregnant at sixteen, and she was. That lady could scold with a look that brought me searing shame without her saying a word. But usually there were words too and I'd be reduced to tears for affronts such as taking her toast by mistake. Only now do I fully understand that every piece of toast got her closer to providing for her family, and that's why she was occasionally so harsh.

Enough for now.  On another day I'll go into more depth on the customers, and why it is that when I go to the Greek Festival I look for the boss' name in the departed benefactors' wall and finger the letters, happy that he's gone.

September 12, 2011

Diners, Part 1

On Friday I traveled to this fine location, my dermatologist's office, for my bi-monthly biopsy. Did I mention that I'm majoring in basal cell?

Along the way, a conversation about cool diners of the past led me to think about what I liked about them, and a quasi request for a story. Doctor, this is for you.

I have always loved a fine diner. We didn't eat in them often when I was a kid, so I mostly loved them from afar. When I was in college, diners became part of the web of life and I came to love their menus, their employees and their architecture.

When I moved to the college town where I lived for many years, there were two phenomenal diners nearby. An embarrassment of riches, really. The more famous diner was circular, had beautifully upholstered booths, and was frequented by an odd mixture of cops, hookers and families. If you wanted a classic Monte Cristo, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar, this was your place. Its most memorable appearance in my life was as the place where I began a brief but notable relationship.

The other diner was far more humble. It had a cute sign and the requisite lava rock glommed onto the exterior. It was the menu that set this diner apart, however. As I mentioned to my doctor the other day, there are three things I look for on a diner menu: 1) buttermilk, 2) prune juice and 3) cherry jello. Not strawberry. Cherry, which is in the pantheon of man's finest artificial flavors (cherry, grape, orange). This place had it all. And like any good diner, it had amazing diner ladies.

When I was a veteran diner waitress myself and looking for a new gig, I went to place #2. I dressed up in one of my finer thrift store outfits, a blue and cream seersucker dress. I waited until after the lunch rush and asked for the head waitress. She was an amazing older woman. Kind, Southern accent, you could tell that she didn't do her own hair but went to the beauty parlor once a week. I told her that I was looking for a job. She looked at me earnestly and said "Just out of the service?" Turns out that my seersucker was the uniform worn by Navy nurses. She'd been a Wave. I felt not smart telling her that I wasn't aware of the importance of my outfit.

Never got that job, but diner #2 became the place I wanted to go to when given the choice of the two restaurants. Come on. It had the trifecta.

Mrguy, Middlesis Guy and I went there together one last time in the 90's. Sis and I had tickets to see the Blue Jays one day. She drove. Her car started making weird sounds 1/4 mile from the stadium.

Never made it to the stadium. Ended up at the diner after getting towed home. As an aside, I can tell you how sad it is to hear the Canadian national anthem coming over the walls of the stadium while waiting for a tow truck driver and knowing that you have Row 1 seats in your pocket.

Neither diner is still with us but they live deeply in our memories.

Next: stories of a diner waitress...

August 14, 2011

Balderdashia Glorious 2011 Vacation Novel Edition, Night 2: The Answers


2) Tug-of-War International Federation

Just Imagine

4) Sci-Fi musical about a man who dies in 1930 only to be brought back to life in 1980.

Charles Grigg

2) The inventor of 7-Up

The Last Coyote, by Michael Connelly

7) "Any thoughts you'd like to start with?"

The Silent Man, by Alex Berenson

2) A weaker man would have found Shamir Taghi's pain unbearable.

So ends another year's Balderdash fun.

August 7, 2011

Balderdashia Glorious 2011 Vacation Novel Edition, Night 2

We couldn't help ourselves. The Balderdash / Novel game mashup continued. On our last night of vacation Balderdash we substituted categories 5 and 6 for the novel game.

1) The Week In Film
2) Tug-of-War International Foundation
3) Thumbs Without Index Fingers
4) TexArkana Women Ignoring Fat
5) Ten Winds Indian Foundation
6) The World Institute of Foresters

Just Imagine
1) A pair of glasses found on the subway turn out to help their wearer see the best in people. A boy who finds them tries to march-make two seemingly dyed-in-the-wool grumps.
2) Two Japanese girls travel to new york for what would have been John Lennon's 60th birthday.
3) In this Judy Garland film that followed the Wizard of Oz, then ingenue Garland leaves the typing pool to work directly for her boss, William Holden, and the romance that she has imagined comes to pass.
4) Sci-Fi musical about a man who dies in 1930 only to be brought back to life in 1980.
5) A documentary about visualization techniques aiming to draw female students toward the sciences.
6) Two orphaned children in a foster home escape their circumstances by imagining amazing adventures. One day they make a wish on a lucky penny and their dreams begin to come true.
7) In this heartwarming drama, a homeless mother of four turns a cookie recipe into a bakery, and the bakery into a million dollar enterprise.

Charles Grigg
1) A pig farmer from Kentucky who taught his pigs to trot and sing.
2) The inventor of 7-Up
3) Founder of the "Grigg Institute For Parapsychology" in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
4) Was struck by lightning twice in one day, once in his house.
5) Was the New Orleans chef who invented Bananas Foster.
6) In 1973, Grigg made the "National Top 10 List Of Dumbest Bank Robbers" when he wrote his hold-up note on the back of one of his own deposit slips at his own bank.
7) Visionary entrepreneur known as "The Farmer of the Seas," and proprietor of the world's first whale dairy.

The Last Coyote, by Michael Connelly

1) Harry answered the phone.
2) If you're down in the dumps, LA offers you two choices: go to the gym and dream of a body you'll never have or go see an old movie, preferably by Orson Welles.
3) Bosch took a long drag and thought "What a horse's ass" ; on the TV screen the mayor -- all serious concern now, the bastard -- began to address the crowd.
4) He was finally in, standing no more than 6 feet away from the coyote...the smuggler...the man who stole his mother's last breath.
5) Her hair fell in soft waves that framed her face, and if you didn't look at the photo too closely, you would almost think she was sleeping.
6) First a light drizzle then the heavens opened up and pured their gentle rain on the prone figure of one sad former detective, Harry Bosch, asleep on the dead lawn of his ramshackle Covina house.
7) "Any thoughts you'd like to start with?"

The Silent Man, by Alex Berenson

1) John Wells pulled into the Beverly Hills Hotel parking lot just before dawn and thought to himself "Hell, if I could save the world twice, I can do it a third time."
2) A weaker man would have found Shamir Taghi's pain unbearable.
3) A shriek ripped through the blue-walled corridor and he knew this was the absolute end.
4) The window shattered with the bullet's impact, a thousand bright stars exploding into John's hotel room, disturbing the still night air.
5) On the cover of the paperback novel of my dreams you'd find a trench coat opened to reveal a creamy bosom and a trickle of blood, but this is real life and my dreams ended twenty minutes ago with the tinny sound of my drugstore alarm clock.
6) It was the same dream he'd had for years but John was determined to act upon it differently...this time.
7) Islam is not the enemy, orchid growers are.

Answers in this space on another day.

August 2, 2011

Balderdashia Glorious 2011 Vacation Novel Edition. Results are in!

Prairie: An Epic of the West, by Greg Tobin.

6. In the Moon of the Deer Pawing the Earth, Moon Hawk Sister, one of the older unmarried girls of the Crane band, gathered the children by a large fire in the center of the village.

Can you smell that sentence from where you are? To Piers Anthony it smells like dollars.

Shame of Man: A Geodyssey, by Piers Anthony

3. The great rift of East Africa is a fascinating region.

Man. We are all quitting our jobs and writing a novel, one sentence at a time.

Start writing your own novel. Play the vacation novel game :)

You can find the article that inspired the vacation novel game here.

The Results Are In!

James Smothers:

5. inventor of the electric typewriter


&. A brown antelope with wide hooves that is able to walk on swamp land

But wait! There's More.

For the second part of game one, the Guy Family decided to add another category. In Beyond Balderdash, the version we are using, rolling a six allows you to pick which category you want. In the Guy version, we made six the "vacation novel" category.

The way the game goes is this: in every vacation rental there is usually a bookcase filled with hideous novels. In this game, you pick one, read its title, show its cover, read the blurb from the back cover *only* and then everyone is required to write the opening line of the book. We had two turns in which we rolled a six.

Our first victim was Prairie: An Epic of the West, by Greg Tobin.

1. As the sun finally set, the sweet smell of prairie grass descended like a mist.
2. Joshua took one last look at his home of 42 years and as the sun rose behind him, he hitched his wagon and headed west.
3. It began with a series of lazy puffs, purple-grey smoke signals at the far edge of impending disaster.
4. They saw him laying face down in the dust and mud, gasping to breathe, traces of blood and paint slashed across his brow, and with little hope of ever being found.
5. Beaten for years by the driving sands and the crimson sun, Jasper's skin was tough as leather.
6. In the Moon of the Deer Pawing the Earth, Moon Hawk Sister, one of the older unmarried girls of the Crane band, gathered the children by a large fire in the center of the village.

Our second was Shame of Man: A Geodyssey, by Piers Anthony

1. The red cloud looked like a deer, then slowly changed into a burning teepee.
2. The soul, she told him, is like an artichoke -- the outer leaves hold little bites of truth, but only under the turban of silk can you taste the flavor of the heart.
3. The great rift of East Africa is a fascinating region.
4. In the beginning, when the grass was green and the sky shimmered in azure blue, Hugh and Anne knew they had found paradise.
5. Hugh woke from a deep troubled sleep and as the crushing weight of countless memories of eons past came flooding into his consciousness, he asked himself for the umpteenth time "What year is it?"
6. Hugh saw her across the dance floor and thought that she was the most somber taxi dancer he'd ever seen.
7. The Earth wept as its back burned, and through the pitch black soot, a boy was born...again.
8. "I...will...NOT!" she said, eyes blazing as she broke out of his grasp; the candlelight played across the proud contours of her face.

If you, also, are on vacation when you read this, maybe you should play the vacation novel game.

My abs are still sore from laughing.

July 31, 2011

Balderdashia 2011. Game One, Part One

When twelve people play Balderdash, half of them in teams of two, it simply takes longer to finish the game. We wound up after midnight, documenting where we were on the board for another night. Here is some of our enjoyment from Game One:

James Smothers:

1. invented the only choker for mothers
2. was the third Smothers Brother. He was never part of his brothers' act, but was the winemaker at the Smothers Brothers winery
3. Famous jazz player
4. Maternal grandfather of Tom and Dick Smothers
5. inventor of the electric typewriter
6. A notorious Chicago bootlegger during Prohibition, he was also an Episcopalian minister
7. A rival of James Roberts, of Roberts' Rules of Order, whose rules were less popular and therefore not chosen
8. As a young man discovered 31 new species of small birds and mammals and became the youngest inductee of the National Academy of Science at age 19


1. Red Betelnut stain
2. Large tongue drum used in gamelan orchestras
3. A kind of river rush which is often dried to make a tooth-cleaning ool in central Africa
4. A fungal bacteria found in the bloodstream of cattle that have mad cow disease
5. a ceremonial wand carried during the male initiation rite of several African tribes
6. An advanced yoga position where the head touches the lower back
7. A brown antelope with wide hooves that is able to walk on swamp land

Russodad 2011, Day 1

Ahhh. It is finally vacation.

We're catching up and eating Jelly Bellies and watching the blue herons and the duckweed in the water.

The happy nattering of the jigsaw puzzle hoverers includes a multi-generational discussion of how many mandatory readings of Das Kapital were had by the classes of '77 and '97 at a certain hippie university. Mrguy continues to summon funny stories that I have never heard.

The living room crowd are discussing current experiments aimed at composting human waste and whether certain people who brought styrofoam plates to vacation should have a talking to.

All is well.


My nephew to his daughter: You know you came from a family of superheroes, don't you? We don't really talk about it.

Nephew to his uncle: What's your power?

Uncle: Modesty.

Our grandniece: What's your power, Daddy?

Nephew: Forgetfulness.

Me: I can scale small furniture with my shin.

Mrguy: I am really good at drinking beer.

Uncle to a different nephew: Your superpower, if I understand correctly, is to fetch beer

July 27, 2011

Fleshy Caterpillar

Stitches are out and I'm down to ointment and bandaids. The doctor says I'm at the "lumpy bumpy" stage. When I finally saw his handiwork I realized that my lip incision looks like either a teeny tiny roast or a fleshy caterpillar. Adding to this effect is the fact that I have no sensation on this spot. It seems entirely other, but familiar.

The quilting on my nose isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Sensitive, but o.k.

And I have now learned that Pilates melts Neosporin.

Two days to vacation.

July 21, 2011

Another Homely Day

I just changed the bandage for the first time and slathered on Neosporin "like you're icing a cupcake," according to directions. Now that I've seen what's under there I understand.

No *wonder* my face is so swollen and bruised! The lip incision is small, but the one on the side of my nose is large and has a graft. Poor face!

It would be pathetic to try to put makeup on for mrguy's homecoming tonight.

I've warned him and he'll just have to brave it.

July 19, 2011

Post-Surgery Update

This year I've been having a little of this and a little of that removed, at the request of my dermatologist. I find things, he biopsies them, and my instincts have been pretty good. Nothing serious, but a tedious number of biopsies and Mohs surgeries.

Today's Mohs surgery has left me looking like an electron microscope view of an insect, with one squinty eye and a fat cheek that's turning green. All the goo seems to have drained into one half of my top lip, and that's large and purpling. Were it not for my blog rules I'd give you a photo. Suffice to say it's not pretty and my anaesthetic was wearing off as the doctor was stitching. Ouch.

Remarkably I kept dozing off during the doctor's quilting bee, despite being under only local anaesthetic.

I only have Tylenol to numb the pain, but happily Bravo played most of Season 2 of Real Housewives of New York, which was quite diverting.

Thank you, Bravo, I needed that.

To Be Vivacious

is a sin, apparently.

Mom told me, with some disdain, that a man had referred to her recently as "vivacious". She is a woman of a certain age and he was a man of a certain age, so there was probably subtext there. However the real subtext is not to be identified with her mother, who was a vivacious woman who lacked in mothering skills. Wore expensive hats but didn't believe in taking her children to the dentist. Wouldn't get her daughter glasses because she didn't want to be the mother of a glasses-wearing child. That sort of thing.

I would say I got lucky in the mom department. She doesn't make me call her "mother", and once she saw that other people liked her vivacious children, she didn't worry about their vivaciousness as much.

Her own, on the other hand...

July 10, 2011

Best Expression of the Day

How about "Come the raw prawn"?

Found in this blog on

Even in context I couldn't figure out what it meant.

Urban Dictionary to the rescue.

Don't come the raw prawn with me, mrguy. I know you fed the kittens a piece of chicken.

Corn Festival

We went to the Corn Festival yesterday. I've wanted to do this since we lived in the Old Place.

We drove and drove and drove out to the Corn Festival. They had tons of parking. First impressions? Mrguy said "It's like the Aloha Festival, without the Aloha".

The vintage car show was very cool. We fixated on this Streamline-shaped van until we realized that it was a fantasy car. The fellow next to it seemed sad that his car was getting less attention, and rightly so. His impala had sweet flame detailing and the interior upholstery also had flame accents in *alligator*.


We had both kinds of corn (boiled and grilled), and avoided corn in a cup, which was the third offering. The corn was yummy and we ate it in the beer tent, while sipping a "microbrew" (Sierra Nevada!!!) and listening to a band do a lot of modern country rock songs.

Altogether pleasant, but it was almost 100 degrees out there. I got whomped bad. Spent the evening recovering from the headache and heat exhaustion while watching Tokyo Drifter.

I see much potential for enhancement, here. If you're going to have a corn festival:

1) More corn signage and a mascot on site at all times. I really look forward to corn photo opportunities. Perhaps a giant corn with a cut-out to put your face in so you can see what you'd look like as an ear of corn with legs
2) Ask every vendor booth to have at least one corn item. How sweet would it have been to have a henna tattoo of an ear of corn?
3) Ask all of the food booths feature a corn specialty. I would have loved it if the bbq guys had roasted corn with sauce, and the Thai booth could have added some corn to its Pad Thai.

That said, we had a great time. I'll need to add something to my bucket list again, because now I've been to the Corn Festival.

July 6, 2011

Three's a Pair

We lived in the City when cable television exploded and there was the prediction, not yet realized, that there were going to some day be hundreds of channels to choose from.

We spent one hilarious evening with friends musing over what content would fill that many channels. We foresaw the Golf Channel, thinking it absolutely stupid. And we decided that there should be the Danish Game Show channel. It would feature classics such as Wheel of Gouda and Three's A Pair. I can't recall that we devised the rules to Three's A Pair, but it's cracked us up ever since.

This weekend I found Three's A Pair of another sort on a website that I followed after reading about the groom's business in the NY Times Vows section.

The site is called Little Miss Matched, and they sell pairs of three socks.

Check them out!

July 2, 2011

Oh Happy Day. Stay Happy

I'm sorry I haven't been around more, my blog. I do love you. For the last six months or so I've been filling my days with two bands (three if you count the Hammerslag Singers), singing lessons, Pilates and kittens. Time should appear in greater quantities after Slagapalooza in August.

That's then and this is today. It's the beginning of a four day weekend.

Today mrguy and I went to the fish market and bought all manner of goodies: gobo, tobiko, poi, Carl, Yakult and senbei.

After dispatching many vegetables and making soup stock this afternoon I found Hula Girls on TVJapan. A perfect thing to watch while snacking on tobiko sour cream dip with mrguy and serving as human cushions for sleeping kittens.

The spell of happiness was briefly broken by thoughts of our family vacation. This year I will not let the people who are unhappy get me down. No.

We have a THREE HOUR Toshiro Mifune movie to watch.

April 24, 2011

Holy Cow

I spent the morning worrying about what might happen at a baby shower. I haven't been to many. The last one involved party games and humiliation. Not fun.

The strawberry guy was doing his biz at the corner, so I bought a flat of berries and continued on my way. I had told the organizer that I would bring fruit salad. Unbeknownst to me (who reads email, anyway?) Mrguy had also rsvped to the shower with a different dish in mind. I ended up making both.

After the fragrant business of the fruit salad was taken care of, I started on the beans and was able to try out my Bean-X Bean Stringer, a score from an estate sale yesterday. The more time I spend with this item, the more I like it. On one end is a blade that takes care of your green bean's stem end, and then there is a frencher, which frenches your beans. If you don't know what a frencher is, which clearly my spellcheck does not, it is a kitchen tool which slices your green beans lengthwise into strips. That casserole that your people have been making for the last 50 years of Thanksgivings? No matter how you make it now, it used to be made with fresh green beans sliced in this manner.

The party wasn't as scary as I thought. We hung out with our friend the rock writer, for whom this was apparently "Sarcasm Sunday," and the guy who described himself as "The 5th most Jewish-looking guy at the party,"the book reviewer and a lot of other funny guys who, like us, wanted to avoid the pinata and the kids.

As we left I saw the carcass of the pinata smashed on the ground. I hope our friends have a backup plan for birthing because their doula lives on the other side of the bridge. I will spend the next six weeks praying that the child does not arrive during rush hour.

Back at home, mrguy and I relaxed and I worked on my new Etsy store and the cats flopped on us.

I need more evenings like this, especially after delving into the unknown.

March 16, 2011

Hong Kongia, Day 4

A bit of a blur!

The work went fast, and I was able to do feats of archivist derring-do that seemed to impress my colleagues. How nice :)

Lunch was a both fun and a bit of a bust. We found a dim sum restaurant in one of Shatin's numerous malls. Dim sum restaurant with a menu? Funny. Instead of quickly picking food off carts, we waited forever. And my thirst to eat chicken feet goes yet again unslaked.

After work we dropped our bags and took three subway lines and a ferry to get to Happy Valley Racecourse. We grabbed a beer and a spot at the rail and quickly were watching the horses thunder past. All the while, people speaking dozens of languages surrounded us. I have rarely been in a more international crowd. This is clearly where young professionals from HK hang out on a Wednesday night. After slurping a bowl of noodles we took a cab home. I'm not sure I could have gone back the myriad of conveyances that got us there!

Back at the hotel, our Chelsea Smiler could be heard yelling at his friends on our hallway. Should have been an opera singer instead of a horse trainer.

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the day that Chelsea said he was in training for. Lo! And at work, the press event will see me pretending to do my job while Shee Jimmy describes the job I'm pretending to do. The press. They do love their forklifts.

March 15, 2011

Hong Kongia, Days 2 and 3

I hope to some day venture beyond this block, but so far it's been hotel to museum to mall to hotel.

The museum has been wonderful. This is the most that a venue has prepared in advance EVER. I continue to be awash with people. Not sure what I will do if we finish three days early as it seems we will.

Yesterday reminded me of Steve Martin in The Jerk: "I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days..." That one day culminated in a visit to the hotel bar, where we met / were discovered against our will by a very drunk and scary Irishman with a knife scar cut from the side of his lip to his ear. We pieced enough of his life story together (thanks to his loudly repeating himself) to conclude that he was maybe IRA in the day and lived in Canada and the US until being deported. We managed to extricate ourselves from him that evening, but now I've realized that his hotel room is next to mine.

BTW, a scar such as his is referred to as a Chelsea Smile. I'll let you look that up.

Day two was fabulous. I almost had a chicken foot on rice, but was thwarted when my colleagues were worried that we wouldn't have a way of knowing when our order was up. I drank my first coffee in months and as a result have been up since 3am Hong Kong time. It's almost a decent hour for going to the gym!

March 13, 2011

Hong Kongia, Day 1

On an airplane there are no updates about Charlie Sheen.

That is one of yesterday’s greatest joys.

Well that and missing Daylight Savings Time in its entirety. When I get home in a week and a half I will not care what time it used to be yesterday when I wake up today. I have bigger fish to fry: it’s 10pm at home and I’m just about to go to work.

Where am I? Hong Kong. Why? The newly re-curated forklift show. So far Hong Kong looks grey and anonymous, but we drove over a gorgeous Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge today and just outside my hotel window is a 2002 Beijing Olympics mascot. Photos to come, I hope.

February 15, 2011


According to my recent blood work, cheese and I also have to break up. Oh well. It was bound to happen. And now it's time to get serious about exercising a little. The twice a week Pilates doesn't really count.

Hearing about this, Tiny But Mighty decided that I needed to use the gym. She showed me how to use Netflix and my iPod to watch movies (a bonus), and how to get on the elliptical machine. I really don't care for it, but whatever.

I lasted 11 minutes. My legs burned at the beginning and I sweated profusely. I know that you're pitying me at this point but I made it 6 minutes more than I intended to or thought I could :) The 1965 film Hawaii was a poor choice for viewing, however. It's slow, it's brown (haven't these people been there?) and it's in Scope, so it's even harder to see on an iPod. But I was willing to try it again today.

I made my goal of 15 minutes today, but it was a stretch. Seems mrguy has taken control of the Netflix queue and was in the middle of watching Metropolis. It's visually stunning, but there's no dialogue.


Thursday I will try for 20 minutes and I will find something better to watch. I really want to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but they're not streaming at the moment.

AN UPDATE: X of X's Motors has agreed to send me no more weird promotions. Ahhh.

February 6, 2011

Breaking Up, Again

Why won't my ex-mechanic get the hint?

I am never coming back, X of X's Motors.

I don't care if Facebook recommends you to me or if you send me fake tax refund check that is really a fifty dollar off coupon. 

Or if you send me a mass email that begging me to come in and tell you why I am not your customer and offer me a"FREE key ring Flashlight. This is not one of those weak one bulb lights, but a small bright 2LED light."



BACK, Dude. My Toyota dealership is corporate but really nice. Never costs much. Never embarrasses me by leaving a robocall suggesting that I come in for a seminar on how ladies can explain themselves better to mechanics.

X, as I've said in the past, we are through.




The next sumo basho has been canceled over a yaocho scandal. Sumo fans (at least the ones on the sumo chat lists) know about yaocho, and match-by-match it seems like small potatoes. In aggregate, however, it seems like a bigger deal. The next basho has been canceled, as the sumo association tries to figure out who is doing it and punish them.

What bothers me more than the widespread yaocho is the response by the Japan Sumo Association to it, to every scandal. The JSA is only moved by external forces. It never moves to change because it's the right thing to do. Yaocho, pot smoking, beating of young wrestlers by their stablemasters, these were all activities that the JSA knew about and didn't move to stop. These may be relatively common activities, but these aren't parts of the sumo tradition that the fans who pay to see sumo value.

In the upcoming days there will be a typical response. We'll cringe through dozens of apologies. Someone high up in the JSA will be canned. An internal investigation by JSA cronies will excise the smallest number of responsible parties possible and just one who has some name recognition, in order to validate the process. They will hope that the fans come back, but as many of the die-hard elderly fans begin to pass away, the younger fans will expect sumo to become more sport-like.

How long will it take for Takanohana to rise to the top of the JSA and lead it into the modern era?

January 2, 2011

The Cat Report

2010 was a crazy year in cats.

Paws up and died this summer. Two days before, mrguy and I were laughing about how robust a 15-year-old cat she was. It was sudden and unbelievably sad.

The other cats went into a panic. Eyes roamed the house, sniffing Paws' noseprints on the kitchen window. Nose, stressed-out, developed boy cat problems and had to have an operation. Eyes collapsed and vomited when we returned from a vacation. All of us were sad about the loss of our kitty.

I decided that out there there was another black kitten for me to love. I started looking. I wanted to get someone off the street -- to help an abandoned kitten. I scoured the rescue organizations, including one run by the local real estate agent / cat lady. Her application asked for a description of the traffic pattern outside of our house and for our net worth. Lady, it's just a cat. Even I know that. She turned us down because we wouldn't agree to have an all-outdoors cat. Nut job.

It was the end of kitten season. The river of cats was dwindling to a trickle. Yet I knew that kittens were out there. The Boo had been born off-season, in November. I started going to pet stores. I saw a cute kitty. And then I went to the scuzzy pet store in the same mall as our veterinarian. I saw my kitty.

He was black like Paws and had enormous ears like Nose. I held him. He purred like a maniac. I had to have him. The next time we went to the grocery store I brought mrguy. There was another really sad kitten there who purred like an angel and hid from the older kittens in the cat box. She melted into his arms. We took them both. And now there are four.
The last two months have involved non-stop trips to the vet. The kittens were sick. They had many internal parasites and vitamin deficiencies and were very thin. They arrived as we were beginning a bathroom remodel. The older cats were upset at first, but have calmed down. Nose, who has favored his papa for many years, is now actually jealous of the kittens' attention and spends much more time with me.

As I said even before I knew it was true: four cats is good.

Related Posts with Thumbnails