Archive for December, 2007

She Who Shall Not Be Named Around Home (Ramble)

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Did you see this story about Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus at CNN…which is currently the most-read CNN story.

The sick part of me is that, after looking at the rules (which it won’t let me link to), it looks like it was just asking for an essay that they could judge to be the most deserving. Nothing says it has to be true.

So this girl lied about her father dying in the Middle East and how bad her year had been. The only regrettable part is that her mother sounds like a bitch, saying “we did” what they needed to do to win. Ugh.

But it looks like there was no line drawn between fact or fiction in any of the rules or guidelines, and now they are thinking of taking it away because it violates the “spirit” of the rules. Is Albert Gonzalez going to figure this out to find the gray area of what rules she didn’t break?

I’m not saying it was maybe the most couth thing to do, but it was a pretty gutsy was to approach it in the rules if it was her idea. If it wasn’t her idea, forgettaboutit.

Moving on…we’re going to have a whole generation of kids who aregue the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question about the capital of Montana. In 20 years it will be between Butte, Bozeman, Billings, Havre and Hannah…and they will all  STILL look strangely at each other that one of those can’t be right.

(I bet someone is already rusing that one.)

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again…I can’t believe how fast the Disney machine made this girl an icon for tweeners…but after reading more about it…she apparently plays a very mean guitar and has a solo that last several minutes in one of her Miley Songs, she wrote 8 of the 10 songs on the Miley disc, and she can write music. Take that Lindsey, Brittany, and Jessica.

I’ve always said that if you can play an instrument, sing well, and look good doing it in some way…that’s the key. And I’ve always said that none of these other made-for-TV-Disneylike kids ever had that.

Finally…my favorite piece of advice if you still want tickets to one of the last remaining shows…call the local Ticketmaster first thing in the morning the day before the concert. I can’t believe how many people swear by this online. But be prepared to pay real premium money, since these are usually floor seats up close that get released by the tou.

Kona all the way to Tacoma

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggity jig…

But I did help us get really lucky flying home by creating our own kismit…

Last Christmas, a certain Minn.-based airline lost all our baggage for the whole time we were there. Presents, clothes…all of it. But, I mean, with all that, how much can you get too pissed off with Christmas in Kona. I did my best everyday calling the airport morning and night, twice a day, and speaking to a very nice woman named Marilyn who was as frustrated as I was at about the lone mgmnt-type airline employee on the Big Island. I was pretty much extra special pleasant over the course of the whole thing.

Fas forward to July, and we saw each other again, and she pointed out that I never got my vouchers over the Christmas snafu. I told her not to worry, I’ll be back and I’ll need help.

That time came Wednesday night. We had to fly three airlines to get from Kona-to-San Francisco-to SeaTac. Well, after we got on the plane and sat for ever on the first flight from Kona, they said they had mechanical problems. Hello, Marilyn! I started trying to get a hold of her, but she was in yet. So I called the Honulu number for that airline and asked them to flag an e-mail to her in Kona with my name on it saying I needed to get on the Maui flight.

Now, remember, I’m the only one that seems to be having this gutshot to start making a back up plan as we sat there. Then it became obvious, after about 45 minutes we weren’t going to make ANY plane out of Honolulu. But they were going to stick us on another airline to get us there for the night anyway. By this time, I took my gamble. I grabbed all three boarding passes and walked out of the airport into the check in. I could here them paging us for the new flight, but I had a thought process.

Either (1) we get on that flight and have a miserable night at the Honolulu airport because I can’t find Marilyn that night; (2) I just get stuck in Kona after a mechanical failure and we all head back to the condo in a taxi cab; or (3) I find Marilyn and she remembers me and puts us on the flight to Seattle.

Well, number three worked out great. We got back to Seattle seven hours earlier, we all sat together and never changed planes, and Marilyn set us up with some roomy prime seats in coach.  But then she went over the top and, at the gate when we boarded, she gave us the three vouchers she owed us from the Christmas before.

This is super serious street rep for an airline I generally don’t like to fly. In fact, I think she worked it out so that it was probably in very possibly the only way I would ever get on the again unless I had no choice.

But I also felt pretty good because while everyone was fretting and moaning, I had a plan and in about 20 minutes executed it and got lucky.

But here is the rest of the story…

…I completely released the three of us from the flights for the other two airlines because the delay was mechanical and at their option, they generally let you do this. What this meant was that the big airline from the northern Midwest didn’t have to “buy” my seats from them because I wasn’t flying that night — they just became the value of what I paid for them, which the big airline could apply to taking the seats away.. I never understood how this works, exactly, but I’ve used it a couple of times. That’s the rest of the story! The way I understood it was wrong. I had completely, technically, stranded us in Kona! I had missed a flight for which I had reasonably been accomodated, or something like that.

Now, the super duper challenge was keeping P into what I was doing with almost no explanation as I was flying through this process and having time to explain all of this. She kept saying that it costs “x amount” to change tickets according to this person and that person…and she was right. The value of the tickets I had released were about 20-percent of what it would cost to get back from Hawaii between now and about Valentine’s Day.

But I had faith in Marilyn that she would figure something out.

She delivered, just don’t tell P how much I gambled in about eight minutes of frenzy.

That whole 10-15 minutes narrates in about as twisted of fashion as the events happened.

Kona Kats

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

I love the acts of stray cats.

It’s dark here on Christmas night and I am sitting in the excercise lounge watching Will & Grace on Lifetime, and there is nobody around. Last night on the island, too.

But these are tropical “barn cats” that have kind of accepted me as being a cool late night intruder to their hunting and prowling time around the pool and cabana. Over the last week, they have come to be ok with bringing the lizards and stuff they catch in the lava and sitting on the porch in the windbreak and eating away. I first noticed them when we were here last Christmas, but you would know these little shadows in the dark exist unless you really get them to be ok around you. They all have kind of the same black and gray short coat, and there is probably a pack(?) of about two dozen.

But when all the people leave the pool area, they move in and basically scrounge for leftovers. Then who knows where they go in the day.

But they look healthy, and they seem not to be mean, so I am betting somebody is feeding them something to, so they aren’t hard off in a tropical climate.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if the resort next door welcomed them for killing critters and just generally eating things tourists don’t want to see.

But I own a true-blue barn cat and it’s uncanny how much the same they all are. They are selfish, cranky, thankful, playful, aggressive, and not very submissive. Now, you could argue that all cats are like that, but I don’t think it’s true. A cat that has been born and raised, through a few generations, to fend for itself, is practically on steroids with those traits. But I don’t think of real barn cats as “ferrel.” That would imply that they don’t care about human interaction and don’t know the value of us here and there for survival. So that’s that’s why I think these cats on Kona are as cool as, say, a barn cat on a wheat farm in Idaho.

Maybe*

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

I always liked the bonus track astrick on the song by Janis Joplin.

When you listen to things ripped off her greatest hits CD, the asterick is there and I alwaqys thought that was very cool. It’s like a wondering symbol after a statement of non-commitment.

That’s the way I feel this Christmas Eve night.

So here are the next nine songs that come up randomly as I sit on the linai and listen listen fromthe laptop. The wind is nasty tonight, too.

Thunder Road…Bruce in concert…about 1981 in Cincy and a bootleg. It’s completely lyrical genious. I know it’s early stuff, because the crowd doesn’t sing. Which is what’s great because later concerts almost became about the crowd singing, which was kind of too bad, because the E Street Band was so good.

Good Night…The Beatles…the White Album record two. Not much to say other than one of the greatest kid-lovey things ever written on a major album. But I will say this in case no other Beatles comes up…geeeze Brian Epstein, their producer, could make an album that flowed “right.” Igenerally don’t even include them in my random list because I like listening to their albums as a whole. That’s why it’s fun to make an exception for an hour.

The Bugs Bunny Overture…Mack David…I will never be apologetic that if you play my music at random, random is what you get. I love having a one-minute break in regular music every once in a while to listen to some theme song or silly comedy bit.

Even Better than the Real Thing…U2…This is a cool surprise…it’s a defining moment for me and rock concerts. Even though I don’t think the song is a legend, seeing them from the front row on St. Pat’s Day doing it in the old Boston  Garden…Priceless…but I’ve already told that story.

Me and Bobby McGee…lJanis Joplin…Should be considered as one of the greatest roadtrip songs ever and Kir Kistofferson, the writer, should be sent straight to a writers hall of fame if he’s not already there. But my dad will always be the star of this song, because he used it as a father-son teaching moment when I was in about the sixth grade. He said that “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” I don’t even remember what he was teaching me. I just know that I would almost vote for that to be on my headstone.

Sh-Boom…The Chords…I like the silly lyrics and harmony. Very Brian Wilson.

I Go to Extreme…Billy Joel…I swear my id, my superego, my ego, and my wife sat down to write this for me. But it was just Billy Joel. Forget the chorus because it’s kind of popcorn, well, the whole song is very popcorn, but from the first time I heard it, I thought Billy Joel was kindered spirit in a weird way.

Jaws Theme…John Williams…One of the other greatest concerts I’ve ever been to with lots of friends…John Williams last time conducting the Boston Pops at the Hatch Shell and he did all the Steve Spielberg favorites…actually…if you describe a concert that was as pop culture as John Williams and the Boston Pops in 1993…tell me what it is because I’d buy that CD, too.

Now let’s see what comes up as number 10…?

HAH!!!!!…Frank…Luck Be a Lady from The Stardust in, I think, 1966…I believe terra firma that Luck Be a Lady should be, by law, on every jukebox in America. Is there someone this case can be made to who would listen? It’s six minutes long and very sensual.

SO what was the point? We all have all this digital music, but it’s just fun to see if a random sampling, OF IT ALL, plays something that kind of reflects what you’d expect people to know about you.

(p.s. #11 was Born to Run from the same Bruce concert and it is still weird not hearing people sing it…if you’ve ever been to a Bruce concert you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

By request

Monday, December 24th, 2007

I can’t remember what the movie is playing in the background, but I can tell it has Fred Willard in it.

This is an overview of the three-bed, three-bath condo.

Here’s the video off the back porch of the golf hole…

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 24th, 2007

I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

eric

The Downside of Hawaii

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

It’s shockingly expensive for mainland stuff.

Simple things like water, electricity, and a Sunday New York Times. It’s even getting harder to steal WiFi here and there.

Let’s take the Times…the cheapest one I found was $8. And it was that 48-hour international model that is a bunch of features and news from the whole week gathered into one newspaper.

I get why not to have cable TV in the condo. Really, I do…but if you ask me, basic cable is a good deal, or at least buying a desktop computer with secure wifi for the unit, is the rational alternative.

A very interesting golf hole

Friday, December 21st, 2007

If you look at the photo below of the mountains, right there between the two trees center-right, is the tee box for a par-5 at one of the golf courses in Waikoloa. It just happens to be the one right out the back of the condo. It also happens to be the most interesting hole on the whole course. And it makes for great twilight entertainment watching how different people approach it and play it.

It’s technically a 520-yard par-5.

(Short diversion…the whale pod is back and we have tail slamming!)

OK, I’m back…

If you play this whole by the book, it’s a long narrow driver, a mid-iron over some palm trees, a pitch onto the green and two putts. It’s really not reachable in two shots by 99.9 percent of the golfers and I haven’t seen anyone get there in two off the fairway in three days.

But it’s like a video game hole. There is a secret code that you can unlock and play this thing perfectly legal and make it about a 320-yard par-5. You just move your curser way left and aim at the tee box on the hole next door. It’s so bloody simple. Literally with a three-wood and a lob wedge, you can be on the green. Once about every 20 groups playing through, someone or a group gets how easy this is to just cheat it. There is no out of bounds, it takes the lava out of play, and leaves you going up and down from on top of a hill. But the robots just line up and play it as a tough-ass par-5, into the wind, lots of O.B. and no margin for error. There are huge sand traps where it doglegs, too. So the best play is playing the other fairway!

Isn’t golf great? One hole and it has about 500 things that could happen. So, how did I play it? Since I have no ego in golf at all and just figure shorter is better, and hit a five-iron onto the other fairway, then a three wood, and then a seven iron, and then three-putted for a bogey.

(The whales are really having a pool party in this wind today. It must be just pushing all the krill onshore.)

But almost every decent golf course has hidden tricks up its sleeves, someplace in one or two of the holes. This particular play to the other fairway requires you to park the ego, play it blind, and have some faith nothing bad will happen.

That’s the testament to a great hole on a golf course.

An interesting day in paradise…blathering

Friday, December 21st, 2007

My friend Carl says that it’s a dig when I say something like this, since he is in Boston and it’s the middle of winter, but I am coming to you live from outside with Venus flashing so many colors in the night sky we couldn’t count them all.

Today was our Honolulu day. This means getting on a 737-200 packed like a bus, and going up and down faster than you can drink a cup of coffee. It’s pretty much decided in our clan that future trips are not going to include the big city, we’ve kind of raped it of its wonder by spending too much time on daytrips there. As have all the people on the flight in the morning, who we occaisionally bumped into while there, and then fought for seats about for the trip back to Kona. (For the next several trips it’s smaller islands.)

We left about 8 a.m. for the 35-minute flight. Waited about 20 minutes for the bus to Waikiki and Ala Moana.

Yeah, yeah, there was all the cool beach stuff. But I got more interested in the bus ride.

A woman I was sitting near at a Starbuck’s really said I was taking the “retard bus at peak times.” It was so shocking, I made an, “Excuse me?” question after she said it.

Here it is in a short story from what I gathered. There are day shelters for people to flock to in downtown during the day, then there are night shelters near the airport at night, and if you don’t get either, well, the best beach sleeping for free is around the airport anyway. Her comment was that so many people pack this route to make the commute to safe haven, many of whom aren’t really healthy, it’s like a shuttle.

But I did meet my first leper. P thought he was just gross, but he was obviously a regular by the way he was greeted by everyone. His dirty gauze couldn’t hide the fact he had Hansen’s Disease. I mean, it’s not something you take pictures of or talk about casually, but even Big A was grossed out by it. See, Hawaii was kind of where we put them, too. I just had never seen someone with it so blatant. Then there were war veterans with injuries, and stumbling to get off the bus or on the bus with their lived in a jagged suitcases. We all tried to help, but it was pretty awesome how all of them had a “been there, done that” attitude.

I’ll post pictures of lunch later. It was funny. We went to a sushi train restaurant. At least, that’s what I call them, after popping into them in central Asia. Big A loved the fact the food just kept coming around and when you see what you want, grab it. In the end, all the different color plates are added up by a “ticket taker” and that’s our bill. It took me about three plates and a bowl of miso to be done, and P was about the same. But we had to let the seven year old be a seven year old, too. She had to pick and choose and pick and choose, and then, she decided she really liked salmon roe, so she chose three of those over the next hour. It all came to less than 40 bucks and it was pretty funny. She just slurped all the eggs off the top, ate the seaweed and then treated the rice like it was a pain in the ass. But she does that in general at sushi and sashimi bars…get to the fish and rock.

The mall itself is just fucking huge. I won’t even get into that.

But we split up for three hours and I left to walk the beach. The park across the street (literally) is really, really awesome. It’s not Waikiki from up the road a mile, it’s more like, and I used this to describe it to P, Honolulu’s Boston Commons. Nothing fancy, but all the pieces of a great city park are there. Green grass. Coral reefs. Facilities.

So we make our way back to the airport tonight and Navy is hanging with Utah in the first bowl game of that part of the season. Sports on TV, buy me a beer, and I will sit through Jai Lai games lives from the Mohegan Sun. Anyway, there was a female group in the bar that was really, really, REALLY drunk. Like so drunk you look around for camera crews because there must be some reality airline show taping.

P, this was completely innocent if you are still reading…

But I had about the best quick retort of my LIFE!

The obvious star of the show sat next to me, but it was really crowded and I was watching the game. She had all the girly crap that made it obvious this was a pre-wedding fling thing. It was very crammed around one TV, they were drunk, and I just wanted to drink my water and try to make it to the end of regulation.  But I was gumming things up, because there were three stool/standing spaces on my right, and two stool/standing places on my left. Now it’s commerical and I am back to reading the Advertiser newspaper, and the starlett saddles up to me and asks, “Do you bite?”

“No, I just nibble.”

Where in the hell did I pull that one out of my sorry ass? You’d think I had scripted something months ago.

But all these very, very, VERY drunk women thought that was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny. I stood up to give them all the space at the bar and kept watching the game.

Then they started a new game. I think it was called something like, “Take a Shot and Tug on his Beard” but the next thing I know, that’s pretty much what they wanted to do to “The Nibbler.” Ladies of the world…can I just say that it gets old before the horse leaves the barn. It was obnoxious. I still don’t know who won the game because they had decided pulling on my beard was good luck and that “a nibbler can’t be bad.”

ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL that aside…it was a damn good line delivered really fast; I’m sorta proud of it.

Nice daytrip.