Saturday, February 28, 2009

What kind of buffet is this?

You can probably imagine how a place that can come up with a phrase like "broke da mouth" would love all-you-can-eat deals. A stomach will burst long before your mouth is "broken" from over-eating, but this IS the state that sent the first non-Japanese sumo wrestlers to Japan. Maybe Hawaiians have super-elastic stomach muscles!

I remember going into a buffet-style restaurant in Waikiki and watching the local boys pile those plates sky high. I enjoyed watching them eat and eat and eat. If only I enjoyed the food half as much!

One of our friends here is a Japanese American guy who lived in Big Dog's house when he was going to college many moons ago. We try to get together with him and his wife at least once while we are here and for some reason, it has always been for dinner at Todai, the Japanese seafood and sushi buffet on Ala Moana. This time, however, he surprised us by inviting us to a different place.

"Tabe-hodai," whispered Big Dog as we got to the restaurant.
Sure enough, it was all-you-can-eat, albeit a very ritzy one.
"I wonder why they like those buffets. L isn't like those giant Hawaiians -- he doesn't eat a whole lot -- and neither, really, does his wife." For someone like me, the only point of a buffet is to get more than your money's worth.

Maybe it's just an extension of the luau concept. Maybe the sight of mountains of food makes everyone happy. (It makes me nervous, frankly. What happens to all that shrimp? They can't possibly do anything with that mound of dinner rolls! etc.) Because they are popular, there are all kinds of buffets here. So, who can blame the poor Japanese tourists wondering what kind of new buffet was coming to town when they saw all those "Jimmy Buffett" signs.

"The people in Tokyo were asking 'what's a jimmy buffet?'" laughed Reiko, who produces radio programming for Japan out of Waikiki.

Through her connections (she IS the Don of Japanese-Media-in-Waikiki) we were able to get into the grand opening event for Jimmy Buffett's restaurant (NOT a buffet, incidentally) and be a part of the super-intimate I'm-just-playing-for-my-friends kind of show.

The interior is a Disney-esque kind of cave ("underwater" cave?) I love these cool lamps.

Ukulele whiz, Jake Shimabukuro joined in early on and Cecilio Rodriguez (of Cecilio & Kapono fame) came on stage later. Here they are singing the finale, Margaritaville.
"Waaaysted awaaaaay again in Margaritaville..."

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Monday, February 16, 2009


After posting my last entry, I started wondering why I never even considered a one-piece bathing suit. It's not like I have anything against them and I have owned several in my life.

Partly it's my love of sunshine and having grown up in an age when sunshine was GOOD. (Funny how what was GOOD when we were kids is now bad, while many of the things that were considered BAD are now GOOD. When bad things become good, it's easy to rush towards them, but when good things become bad, we aren't as quick to run away.) Also I believe that exposure is not necessarily exhibitionism (though I must be more of an exhibitionist than your average person or I wouldn't have spent most of my adult life in media.)

Or maybe I'm just afraid that one day a one-piece is all I'll be able to wear in public. And once that line is crossed, there will be no un-crossing.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shopping Stress

Shopping is one of those thing I do everything to avoid. I find excuses not to go and get things we need, try to figure out ways to make whatever it is we need so I don't have to go shop for it, put off grocery shopping til the last minute. It's right up there, just below "making phone calls," on my list of Most Dreaded Chores. I would almost rather have a root canal job than go shopping. Almost.

I know. It's weird. Especially for a chick. Other women invite me to go shopping with them and I tag along sometimes, mostly not to look like such a weirdo. But when I need to shop, I have to go alone because I am already so cranky at having to shop in the first place.

"Yeah, you know how bad I am at shopping when there's something I 'have to' buy," I joked with my mom just before leaving LA for Honolulu. I was referring to our "having to" find a replacement property for the one that Big Dog sold recently in California. My mom understood perfectly. She had to put up with my panic/anger many times as a teenager. I'd need to get a jacket, or a book bag, or a present for a friend, or whatever. I'd invariably put it off until the very last minute, then go out huffing and puffing with great resentment and anger at having to go shopping, then I'd go crazy during the shopping process, buy something just to be done with the whole ordeal and then be pissed off at myself (and the entire experience) because it wasn't perfect. And then, I'd take it out on the nearest person (usually my mother, but sometimes my brother.)

Now, I realize that part of my shopping stress comes from wanting, needing, demanding perfection. I want perfection but I don't have the patience to obtain it. Big Dog seems to have that kind of patience, so he will go to a dozen different stores to compare, read up on everything there is to read, then go online to find the best price. All of that stresses me out as much as coming home with something less than perfect, so I tend to go and get the first thing that I find and be done with it.

I'd been needing a new swimsuit or two since my decent ones got stolen (with everything else) in Costa Rica a little over a year ago. Without investing too much time, I'd casually looked around Mexico and California, but I was shocked to see how pricey everything was. (It's been a long time. I am still wearing the little bikini I bought in Hawaii nearly THIRTY YEARS AGO.) And wintertime is not the time to be looking for swimwear in California anyway, so I was determined to find something here, but there are too many choices and the whole process of selecting, trying on, etc. is sooo tiring.

Now, on top of my shopping stress, I have the swimwear stress. Shopping for swimwear can't be fun for anyone who doesn't have a centerfold's body. I have spent a lot of time in bathing suits -- A LOT -- so it's not as traumatic as someone who's buying her first swimsuit in 2 decades, but..... I must admit being painfully self-conscious prowling around these stores with customers and clerks half my age or younger. I approach it like boot camp training for self-esteem. "No, I am NOT ridiculous in that skimpy Brazilian bottom. It does NOT matter that the pretty young things behind the counter are (probably) rolling their eyes at me. Yes, women over 40 CAN wear bikinis." Ad nauseam.

Sheesh. I didn't think I was the kind of woman who had to have a pep rally just to TRY ON something! But there I was, in various dressing stalls, with my handful of bikinis that might work, needing to check myself out but, at the same time, not wanting to see even a glimpse of myself. Was it awkward for the salesgirls, too? Did it take great will power to act "normal" with me? Were they also going through similar extremes -- wanting to catch a peek (we all love train wrecks, right?) and desperately hoping they wouldn't?

Stress leads to bad choices. In the end, I spent way too much on swimwear. But on the up-side, I won't be going through this again anytime soon. In fact, I may never. One day I might actually reminisce about "the very last time I ever shopped for swimwear."

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

REcycling 2

Big Dog got a new used bike yesterday. He bought it from somebody for $50.

I had been looking for a road bike for days now, thinking that if I could find a decent road bike, I could give BD my mountain bike. But the only ones for sale were either they were too high-end, or too low-end.

BD isn't as picky. His new bike feels just as heavy as The Hulk but has better brakes and gears. It also has a tiny frame. I think it's a boy's bike. Fine and dandy if BD were going to ride it, but I just know he's thinking he can pawn this one off on me and take over mine.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Big Dog returned The Hulk to X-Mart. Finally.

As soon as we arrived on the island, we started looking for bikes. It's the only way to get around Honolulu with its hellish parking situation and over-stressed traffic. On previous visits, we had borrowed N's bikes but the last time we were here, BD got the bike he was using stolen. ("Oh, yeah. Like, I invited the thieves to help themselves? Like, I was in any way negligent and invited the theft?")

I found a woman who was trying to sell her mountain bike online right away and Big Dog bought his at X-Mart. Mine was $20 with a flat rear tire. Both bikes were manufactured by the same company, in a Chinese factory (by what kind of labor, I don't even want to imagine.) But after my local bike shop fixed and tweaked my bike, it wasn't bad at all. Sure, as a road bike rider, it was terribly heavy, but for just riding around town, it was fine. Big Dog took a liking to it immediately.

"It fits me better," he insisted. It didn't fit him better at all. The frame was too small. But he liked the big cushy seat, the higher handle bars and of course, the weight, though he kept saying the two bikes were virtually the same. (They weren't.)

But he always complained about my riding faster than him, so I decided maybe I could use the handicap of a few extra pounds and we traded bikes.

This X-Mart bike was The Incredible Hulk. And its gears and brakes were too wimpy for its massive weight. Was it also the weight that distorted the wheels? The tires were definitely misshapen, but it looked like the rims were, too. Serious bikers talk about these X-Mart bikes in disdain: "They're sold for $90 and not even worth that!" In some ways they are right. A novice cyclist would quickly get discouraged with a bike like The Hulk. It has the amazing ability to turn any level road into uphill riding. Perfect training tool for speed cyclists!

Big Dog was happy riding my bike, smoothly tooling along Waikiki, riding on sidewalks AND center lanes with equal aplomb. The Hulk just made me mad. For a few days, though, I put up with it. It seemed like a better choice to ride this crappy bike that made me mad than to have to live with a Mad Dog. Only for a few days. After that, I didn't care if Big Dog was in a grouchy mood all day from trying to ride The Hulk. I just had to get away from it.

Big Dog bravely rode The Hulk for about a week, but he finally admitted there were serious problems with this bike. The salesman at X-Mart told him to bring it in and they'll tighten the brakes and try to adjust the spokes but as he wheeled the bike into the store, an attendant asked if he was returning it.

Return? He never thought he had that option, but now that it was in front of him... He couldn't get rid of it fast enough.

And so, The Hulk returned to its cave, to wait for its next victim.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Happy (Belated) Year of the OX

It's a week late, but Happy Year of the Ox.

It's OX, honey. Not BULL., despite what I keep seeing all over the place. I know. It's kinda like a prayer in this economy, but in this economy, we need more oxen, less bull. Therein lies the problem.