If you were to play hooky on your next regular work day with no negative consequences, and if you could only spend the day by yourself, what out-of-the-house fun activities would you pursue?
Well it happens that I took a vacation day today. My brain’s been a little fried at work lately, and I had a big deadline to take care of recently so I couldn’t take a day off when I really needed it. Then I got these wheels, but the weather’s been terrible. Even when the weather cleared up a bit, it was too soon after some serious rain, which means the near-shore waters were teeming with nasty little things that get washed out of the watersheds and down the streams into the Pacific. It’s part of living on a small island. Thursday was the day. Long enough from the big rain that the water was probably okay, and forecasted to be clear and sunny. So first I slept in (that’s not an out-of-the-house activity, but I needed it!) then went to Ala Moana for a swim. It was wonderful and exhausting. Then I drove counter-clockwise around the island to try out the new wheels. Stopped at Waimanalo, my favorite beach, and sat in the sand for a little while, playing with the camera on my phone. I had a feeling I wouldn’t get to go in, and I was right. Portuguese man o’ war flags were up. Then I stopped for brunch in Kailua at Boots & Kimo’s. Their famous macadamia nut pancakes never really did it for me, but this time I had the blueberry macadamia nut pancakes and *ding* we had a winner. Delicious. I was in need of a nap, so I found a shady spot in a park and slept about twenty minutes in my car. It was warm. The nap was partly to help me decide whether I wanted to continue around the island or call it a nice, fun day already. I would have been fine going home, but I really wanted to get to the north shore and didn’t see myself taking another day off in the near future. The car handled wonderfully on the twisty road to the north shore. It’s pretty fun to drive. Dinner at Romy’s (I was the last customer before closing) was wonderful as always. I continued through Kahuku and Waimea, then stopped at the beach in Haleiwa just to watch the ocean. There were three young European women mimicking model poses in bikinis near a sand castle. That was amusing for a while. I stopped at a boba cafe (after filling the tank and getting a car wash) to get some work done and do this meme. I’m really tired, in one of those good ways. I keep looking at the time because I’m used to having to get the bus home. It’s preventing me from fully relaxing, but I imagine it won’t be long before I get over that.
In the same situation, what stay-home fun activities would you pursue?
Definitely reading and watching some of the movies that have been piling up. I’m midway through Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, on which a recent film is based. The movie is rather wonderful (with one of my favorites, Bill Nighy the Acting Guy) and the book may be slightly better. I still haven’t watched any of those earlier A Star Is Born films, so I would work at least one of those in as well. And napping! Napping is fun when it’s not escapist behavior, which for me it often is but wouldn’t be this week. I mean not totally.
If you played hooky specifically because someone else needed the time off, who in your life would be your accomplice and what would be first on the agenda?
I’m going to say Grace needs it the most, even though she’s been only working part time. She’s working a new(ish) IT help desk job and she’s been too tired to do anything fun. Too tired to sit in a dark, air-conditioned movie theater, even. Now that she has a co-worker I think she’s not quite as tired, but she’s still a good candidate. So we’d see a movie and drive to a library and get lunch somewhere. Grace collects visits to public libraries, and I know there are a few remote libraries she hasn’t seen yet. Waimanalo, maybe. My friend Julie has a baby less than a year old. If Grace begged out, Julie would probably be game. I don’t think I’ve ever been out with just Julie, though, so I might have to steal Suzanne or Cindy to come along.
When did you last visit a museum, and what item on exhibit impressed you?
I took the day off from work on my birthday in January and spent some time at the Hawaii State Art museum. There was an interesting piece by a guy who graduated from my high school about ten years before me.
What’s something you’ve recently gotten away with?
This is kind of a small thing, but between the evening when I purchased the new car and the time I registered it the next afternoon, I was driving an unregistered vehicle. It would have been an uninsured vehicle too, but the guy I bought it from offered to keep it on his policy until mine kicked in at midnight the next day.
I’ve been crazy busy but things are calming down. Sometime this weekend I’ll write about my new wheels, and what led to my being a bus commuter lo these past four years.
I hope to get an early start Friday morning, and it’s getting late Thursday night, so a quick Friday 5 from here.
(Earth, Wind & Fire) Why are you dancing in September?
I want to be more interesting than this, but honestly it’s really the beginning of the NFL season. Despite my team sucking this year, I embrace the non-political conversations football brings with my friends and with my father.
(Neil Diamond) September morning still can make you feel what way?
It still fills me with tension about new school years even though I’ve been out of the classroom for some time. I wake up Saturday mornings asking myself what I need to get done before Monday, a feeling I don’t need to have anymore but was a constant, eternal concern every Saturday morning for sixteen years teaching.
(Green Day) What are some things you have to endure until September ends?
The lunch spots on campus become noticeably less busy even during the lunch hour sometime in October. Parking (woo! I get to be concerned about parking again!) is also somewhat less competitive. So, longer lines in the food court and longer lines into the parking structure.
(Kool & the Gang) What place or thing is your September love?
There was a time when Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes were a two-a-day habit. I’m way, way down now, and almost never drink coffee, but I’m allowing myself a PSL here and there, and have had two so far since they showed up at the beginning of the month. My September love this year is pumpkin spice lattes.
(Willie Nelson) What is your September song for the rest of the month? So far, songs in the heaviest rotation have been Katherine Ho’s “Yellow” cover from the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack, “Mama Africa” by Peter Tosh (really, the whole Mama Africa album, which I only recently discovered and am in love with), Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” (autumn always has me grooving on Elvis for some reason), and a bunch of John Mellencamp. I recently picked up a bunch of his recent albums but I couldn’t spin them because I was doing this silly BTS experiment I’ll explain later. I expect the second half of September to be tons of Mellencamp.
I’m not as prepared for this hurricane as I normally am for impending potential disaster. For some idiotic reason, I’m just fairly convinced it’s going to veer west and just give us some bad wind and rain without being catastrophic. Famous last words, I know.
Local governments have moved quickly to keep us informed and prepared. The information flow has been steady and clear, and the local daily has lowered its paywall until this hurricane is no longer news. It’s updated the hurricane story about once an hour.
After January’s false missile alarm, everyone, including our emergency response agencies and our governor, is making sure to present as transparently and clearly as possible. Not a bad response to something that turned Hawaii into a punchline seven months ago.
The state shut down all schools and non-essential government offices on Hawaii Island Wednesday. Then did the same for Maui and Oahu Thursday and Friday. I work on the campus of a public university, so when they shut down school, my employer followed suit so we could all prepare ourselves and our homes, and to keep as many of us as possible off the streets.
I’m writing this in the wee hours of Friday morning, and it’s blustery but clear with no rain. If the projections are accurate, the storm will get closest to me between 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday as it veers west. Hurricanes are more predictable than they were thirty years ago, but they’re still not super predictable, so it could continue north instead without veering west, in which case this island is in for it.
My Kindle is charged up and loaded with new material (the second and third Kevin Kwan books), so I think I’m ready.
What’s a stupid lyric from a song you like?
I like a lot of songs with stupid lyrics, but how about “Wild Thing?” “Wild thing I think you move me / but I wanna know for sure / come on and hold me tight / you move me.”
What’s a pretty good lyric from a song you dislike?
This is a pretty difficult question to answer. If I’m familiar enough with it to remember its lyrics, I probably don’t dislike it, and if I dislike it, its lyrics are probably one of the reasons. But okay, I just thought of one. James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful,” a song I really hate, actually has a decent premise, and I like “She smiled at me on the subway / She was with another man / But I won’t lose no sleep on that / ‘Cause I got a plan.”
What’s a good non-Weird-Al-Yankovic lyric about food and drink?
Talk about songs with stupid lyrics: Ehukai’s “Molokai Slide” should have come first to mind. I looooove this song and once recorded myself singing and playing it for my grandmother as a birthday present, but boy are the lyrics terrible. Still, one reason I like it is the way it waxes (not really) poetic about some of the food we love here. “I like the fishes swimming around in the sea / I like to hop ’em on the grill and cook ’em up for me / with a big pan of butter / man it can’t get better than this.” Thinking of my beloved islands on this really strange weekend as we wait for nature (most days a blessing around here) to have her way with us.
What’s a good song lyric to describe your week?
AC/DC’s “I’m a rolling thunder, a pouring rain / I’m comin’ on like a hurricane / My lightning’s flashing across the sky / You’re only young but you’re gonna die!” (“Hell’s Bells”)
What’s a good song lyric about inclement weather?
“Stormy Weather,” recorded by a million artists, always makes me think of my favorite TV show of all time, M*A*S*H, because the song pops up in a couple of episodes. “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky: stormy weather…”
Take me back, back to da kine
Take me back, back to da kine
All ova’ mo’ bettah, Molokai
I will return…
What regional colloquialism in your area would baffle people from elsewhere?
It’s fading from usage, but everyone still knows what broke da mout means. You use it to describe a meal that’s so good it actually breaks your mouth.
What’s something you call by a name that differs from what most people in your region call it?
There a lot of examples, but one that leaps to mind is ice cream, which many (if not most) people around here for some reason pronounce “aish cream.” There’s also a huge segment of our population who calls milk “melk.”
What’s a normal food in your region that people in other regions might be weirded out by?
It would be easy to pick on Filipino food but I’ll stick closer to home and say natto. It’s a rather polarizing food, even among my friends of Japanese ancestry. It’s nasty, nasty stuff with an unappealing stickiness and a strongly petroleum flavor, but I’ve been told by people who love it that there’s a difference between good natto and run-of-the-mill natto. Also Spam musubi, which almost all of us adore. It might sound gross but it’s really really good!
What’s something in your area with an official name almost nobody refers to it by?
The flagship campus of our state university system is officially the University of Hawaii at Manoa, but everyone around here calls it UH. This offends me, since I graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the real UH. In collegiate athletics, people refer to UH Manoa as “Hawaii,” as in “Next week the Cougars are expected to lose to Hawaii.” With four four-year universities in the system, UH Manoa has no rightful claim to “Hawaii.”
What are the names of some convenience stores in your area?
7-Eleven of course, but there are also Aloha Mini Mart, Nom Nom, Fastop, Whalers, ABC Stores, and Nanay Dela’s Lutong Bahai, where you can get a Spam musubi made with jasmine rice.
What’s your favorite large, furry animal?
I think polar bears. I perceive them as being mostly solitary creatures, and what a rough existence they seem to have. Plus they’re so cute while being so fascinatingly ferocious.
What’s your favorite large sea creature?
I like walruses and giant squids, although I get the feeling walruses aren’t as charming up close as they are from afar.
What’s your favorite insect?
I’m fascinated by praying mantises. They’re so mysterious-looking and so scary, but they’re mostly human-friendly, right? I mean, there’s no reason not to want them around, I think, and do they eat other bugs? I used to know a thing or two about mantises but it’s been a long time. Plus Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy is such a great character. A being whose super power is compassion.
What are your favorite names for pets you’ve known?
A friend’s neighbor had a dog named Budweiser. That was pretty cute. One night at Honolulu City Lights, some friends and I met a cat whose name was Manapua, which is only super funny if you’re from Hawaii. It’s our word for char siu bao, or steamed pork-filled dumplings, and urban legend has it that the manapua wagons, which are like neighborhood food trucks crusing the neighborhoods, make their manapua out of feral cats. It’s a disgusting legend, but we all grew up hearing it. I never believed it, of course, and I had many, many manapuas in my day. Plus the parents of one of my good friends owned a manapua wagon.
Besides unicorns, what are some mythical beasts you wish were real?
Griffins for sure. Manticores.
A couple of Friday 5s (this week’s and last week’s). From here and here.
Friday 5: Performance Evaluation
In what way do you maintain a tidy and efficient workstation?
My desk at the office is not tidy, but I would like to remind people that I’m a writer with attention issues. A huge part of my job is thinking, and it helps to surround myself with some visual stimuli, such as a few novels I’m working through or plan to work through someday, some posters on the wall, a printout of an amusing Awkward Yeti comic, some movie ticket stubs, and scraps of writing ideas I’m saving for later. However, I do tidy it up at the end of every month just to keep things from getting out of hand. My desk at home is a disaster and I’m thinking of setting the whole thing on fire.
In what way do you maintain positive relationships with others?
I try to send friendly text messages every so often, most of which get ignored, but that’s fine. I reach out on social media in positive ways. I know; I could do a lot better for sure.
What effort do you take to be punctual?
When I became a bus rider, I repeated the commitment I made the previous time I became a bus rider: no using the bus as an excuse to be late for anything, and no running for a bus. This mostly keeps me on time for stuff, but when I’m trying to get somewhere I don’t go very often, on a bus line I’m not familiar with, I’m sometimes off the mark. Most of the time, though, I’m pretty good about getting places on time, which is not one of my skills.
What are your strengths and challenges in communicating effectively?
In person, I tend to take too many words to say stuff that doesn’t require them. I also overexplain, probably a vestige leftover from my teaching.
What will be your focus for growth in the coming year?
I really need to get back to the weight-losing trend I established a couple of years ago.
Friday 5: Repeat
What’s something you are repeatedly asked to prove?
I still get carded when I buy alcohol sometimes, and I was born in the Sixties. I suppose a bus pass is proof that I paid the monthly fee, and so is a Costco card. I read an article on network security that says the average person at work has to know eight different passwords just to do his or her job. I think I have seven, including the entry code for the building door and the combination for the lock that secures my laptop to my desk.
What’s an album you can listen to on endless repeat?
I’m a guy who does this all the time. On my all-time list are Extreme’s Extreme II: Pornograffiti, Yes’s Drama, and Styx’s Paradise Theater. Lately, I’ve had Monster Magnet’s Mindfucker, The Sword’s Used Future, and the Night Flight Orchestra’s Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough.
What’s a story you’ve told several times?
There used to be this heavy metal record store near on Ward Avenue. I only went in there once, but it was glorious, and I hoped to get a real job later in high school and spend all my money there and even hang out on weekends, maybe when I got some wheels. The store didn’t live long and it’s gone, and I apparently have told people this story many times. They keep letting me tell it even when they’ve heard it.
What’s something you always order at a certain restaurant?
I like to mix it up, but despite better intentions, whenever I eat at Likelike Drive-In, I seem always to get the loco moco unless they have the pot roast special (they serve it on noodles, which is amazing). At Koa Cafe, I’ve fallen into a rut, almost always ordering the Denver omelette although I usually go in there telling myself to order something else. Oh, you know what? I pretty much always get the Waikiki Burger at Teddy’s. It’s a teri burger with a hashbrown on the patty.
In what way do you hope this weekend will be exactly like last?
I hope to get some good sleep. This past week was night after night of miserable sleep. Friday night was also pretty bad. Determined to get good sleep tonight and Sunday. I hate that this is one of my issues.
When were you recently SOL?
I took Friday off from work because Bruce Cockburn played two shows here for the first time in his 50+ year career. I had a few errands to run in the morning and took the opportunity to have lunch downtown. Now that I work in Manoa, I’m almost never downtown on a weekday for lunch anymore and I miss it. As I passed through this one sandwich spot off Fort Street Mall, I was lured by the digital sign saying the sandwich of the week was a roasted chicken and goat cheese sandwich with curry mayo. Sold! But not really. It had been last week’s sandwich of the week, and they hadn’t changed the sign yet. Great. I ordered instead a half turkey-bacon-avo sandwich on sourdough that would have been decent but it was so messy I had to eat it with a knife and fork.
What was a recent SNAFU?
Friday I discovered that I didn’t have seven tickets for the Saturday show; I had eight. Woo. Sent a few texts to friends who’d probably be interested, but they had family plans. When I invited the third person on my list, she seemed interested but then I didn’t hear back from her all day Friday, despite my text every few hours. Ugh. Now I had this extra ticket, an invitation just hanging out there, and time running out to find a new plan if this person declined. When I finally heard back Saturday afternoon, my friend said she was bringing her dad. It was kind of messed up but I refused to worry about it, and it mostly worked out fine.
From what social gathering were you most recently AWOL?
I planned to get lunch on a work day with a couple of former coworkers at the engineering firm. But I was working against a deadline so I had to bail. The friends decided not to meet anyway once I was out.
When has someone reminded you to MYOB?
I make a huge effort to stay out of other people’s stuff unless it looks like people need help and I might be able to offer it. When I was in Walmart several months ago to get a micro SD card, the woman in front of me asked the cashier something about USB ports on a wireless keyboard she was holding up. You should never ask a Walmart cashier a technical question, no matter how easy the question. I thought I was being helpful when I said the keyboard she had in her hand was wireless and didn’t need a USB, which I now realize was egregious mansplaining, or possibly geeksplaining. She was an older woman, and I think I assumed she was therefore clueless (I mean, who asks a Walmart cashier a tech questions if she’s not clueless?). It turns out she was asking for auxiliary USB ports so some things could run off the keyboard. I apologized but probably not sincerely enough. She didn’t tell me to MYOB but that’s what she was saying. It was the message I received anyway.
What might get in your way this weekend as you TCB?
I’m typing this Sunday morning, so there’s not much weekend left, and the important stuff happened Friday and Saturday. Most of what I have left is the usual Sunday stuff, so missed buses could foul things up, but probably not much else. I’m a little behind on my Camp NaNo project, but I’m ahead on my side work, so I may have some time this evening to focus on getting those flash fictions drafted.
What are some titles in your to-read stack?
My stack is huge and keeps getting huger. Some books I’m really looking forward to are David Mitchell’s Slade House, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, and a whole bunch of cozy mysteries I recently took a break from.
What are the highlights of this weekend’s to-do list?
A bit of work for the side gigs, for sure. Some housecleaning. A trip to the swap meet for black t-shirts. Maybe the World Cup final. I’d like to squeeze in a DVD or two as well.
Which current or upcoming movies are you looking forward to?
Still haven’t seen The Incredibles 2, and there’s this Ben Foster film called Leave No Trace that interests me even though it’s only playing at Kahala, a theater that’s a bit out of the way for me. Crazy Rich Asians in August. A modernization of Little Women at the end of September with Lea Thompson as Marmee.
What’s something you meant to do this past week that will have to wait until next week?
Really wanted to make a bunch of cucumber kimchi but with Camp NaNoWriMo taking up almost every evening, it’s been tough to make time. Plus I’ve really tried to put a high priority on getting enough sleep on work nights. It’s tough to find time for that. I also have a boatload of films to write reviews for and some website-related maintenance I’ve putting off.
What’s an unfinished project (unrelated to media consumption) you haven’t touched in at least a year?
Ah shoot. I started my first cross-stitching project a couple of years ago and it was going really well, but I haven’t had time to finish it up. It’s sitting in a very visible, prominent space in my living room to remind me that I want to do this.
Camp NaNoWriMo July has consumed me these past couple of weeks and it will continue to do so until the end of the month. More about this later.
It’s about trail mix, you see? ASLIRT. Trail mix. Or trails mix I guess.
What are your favorite and least favorite nuts?
I guess pistachios are my favorite, but I want to shout out two non-nuts that are nutty enough for consideration: cashews and pumpkin seeds. Although I certainly don’t dislike them, I’m beginning not to be thrilled about either walnuts or pecans, exept in a pecan pie.
What are your favorite and least favorite berries?
My favorite are blackberries, with strawberries a close second. My least favorite are raspberries, which I will eat if they are placed in front of me but will not place them in front of me myself. You know those berry mixes in the freezer aisle? I don’t buy those because a third of those mixes is always raspberries. I’ll be darned if I’m going to pay for them. I will make my own blueberry-blackberry-strawberry mix myself, thank you.
What are your favorite and least favorite tropical fruits?
It’s a sad thing that I have lived in the tropics pretty much my whole life and do not love tropical fruit. I guess I’ll go with lychee as a favorite and mango as a least favorite, although there’s a local tradition of pickling green mango, and that’s pretty good eating, I guess because I just love vinegar so much. In recent years, I’ve taught myself to like banana. I am now trying to do the same with papaya.
What are your favorite and least favorite varieties of M&Ms?
My favorite are peanut butter, with rice krispies second. My least are either those berry-flavored ones the mint ones. I dig mint with chocolate (those Hershey Cookies & Mint bars are amazing), but the mint in the M&Ms is disgusting. It tastes like brushing your teeth and eating chocolate at the same time.
What are your favorite and least favorite raisin-containing foods?
My favorite are cinnamon raisin bagels. My least favorite might be bread pudding. I eat them when they’re in there, but I can’t help feeling like they’re degrading a perfectly good bread pudding. You know, it’s also true of rice pudding with raisins. Let’s just keep raisins out of any pudding.
I rolled the letter G. I like it. Surely not a gimme, but not crazy difficult either. I always find G words intriguing. For example, what do you think is the largest American city whose name begins with G? Galveston? Grand Rapids? Can you even think of other cities beginning with G? I just looked it up, and it’s Greensboro, North Carolina, whose 2010 Census data says it has 269,666 residents, good enough for 68th largest in the country. Next is Glendale, Arizona, with 226,721, the 87th largest. Gilbert, Arizona (91st), Garland, Texas (95th), and Glendale, California (112th), all come in ahead of Grand Rapids, Michigan at 119. Galveston doesn’t make it into the top 311. Sheldon Cooper was a big fish in a small pond, I guess.
What’s a movie you love whose title begins with the letter?
Librarians say The Greatest Showman begins with G, but maybe that’s cheating. I mean the title isn’t Greatest Showman. Movies I’ve seen that legitimately begin with G include Galaxy Quest, Garden State, Gates of Heaven, Gattaca, Get Him to the Greek, Get Low, Get Smart, Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal, Get on the Bus, Ghost, Ghost World, Ghostbusters, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Global Metal, Glory, Gnomeo & Juliet, God Said Ha!, Gods and Monsters, Goin’ Coconuts, Going Ape!, Gone, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Good Hair, Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Goodfellas, Gosford Park, Grand Canyon, Grease, Gremlins, Gross Anatomy, Groundhog Day, Gulliver’s Travels, Gung Ho, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Gangster Squad, Garden of Words, Gimme the Loot, Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, and Gravity. There are some great movies in that list, but my favorite is easily Groundhog Day. Top 20 movie of all time for me.
What’s a popular tourist destination whose name begins with the letter?
The Grand Canyon certainly qualifies, but the Texas Rangers (Texas again?) play in Globe Life Park in Arlington (the “in Arlington” is part of its name), the Cincinnati Reds play in Great American Ball Park, and the Chicago White Sox play in Guaranteed Rate Field. I would rather visit each of those ballparks a few times each before the Grand Canyon .
What’s something you do, whose name begins with the letter, when you’re very happy?
I’m neither much of a gloater nor gamboler, so how about just grinning?
What’s a frightening animal whose name begins with the letter?
Are you supposed to be afraid of gila monsters? No? Okay then: Great. White. Shark.
Who’s a person you admire whose name begins with the letter?
My first answer is Geddy Lee of Rush, but I talk about Rush all the time, so let’s take a moment to appreciate George Thorogood. George is sort of Geddy’s opposite. Where just about everything about Rush is precise, considered, exact, almost strangely (and beautifully) mechanical, George’s playing style is loose and messy, dirty and nasty. It almost seems like he just puts his chording hand wherever it lands on the fretboard, and he does something with whatever sound happens to come out. Someday I’ll take formal lessons, and I envision myself telling my instructor to teach me how to play like George Thorogood. This live video of my favorite Thorogood song is super cool because it includes Elvin Bishop. “One drink ain’t enough, Jack; you better bring three.”