What the Heck?
COURTESY DAWN DUNBAR
NASA Astronaut Dr. Don Thomas spoke to Kawananakoa Middle Schoolers last Thursday. CLICK FOR LARGE
Hawaii Theatre buffs chase through Chinatown
To the streets!
You had to wonder what the homeless guys settling down to sleep in doorways made of the folks in evening clothes chasing through Chinatown last Saturday night.
It was all part of an innovative fundraiser by Hawaii Theatre, which put 30 teams of 10 on the street, in an elaborate treasure hunt with mysterious poems, puzzles, codes, even sneaky clues that could be seen only under black light.
The Chinatown Chase was followed by food, drink and an equally wild silent auction, complete with pole dancing lessons and a black cherry pearl Harley-Davidson touring bike. The latter went for $17,750.
NASA astronaut Dr. Donald Thomas traveled 17,603,899 miles to speak at Kawananakoa Middle School Thursday morning. The first 17.6 million were on four space shuttle flights. The last 3,899 were on a commercial airliner. American Savings Bank flew him here from Houston to celebrate Ellison Onizuka Science Day.
Thomas flew coach. "Compared to the space shuttle, coach is roomy," he says. "Even the food's better. Of course, it took me 8 1/2 hours to fly here, and it only took only 8 1/2 minutes to get to orbit."
Thomas delivered a "you-can-realize-your-dreams-if-you-stay-in-school-and-work-hard" speech to the Kawananakoa middle-schoolers. But middle-schoolers haven't changed much. They got most excited when he explained the workings of the shuttle's zero-gravity toilet.
Back in town is former KHON-TV reporter, Donalyn Dela Cruz, after a 2 1/2-year stint in Washington as Sen. Daniel Akaka's press secretary. "Do people here remember me as a reporter, or ask about my political experience? No!" she complains. Instead, everyone asks if she's going to be in "Gridiron," where for several years she delivered a devastating impersonation of Colleen Hanabusa.
The answer's yes for next fall's show. "Now that Colleen is queen of the Senate, there's bound to be great material."
Infanticipating: They must be putting something in the water at the KHNLKFVE newsroom. No sooner did weekend anchor Diane Ako reveal she was pregnant than her co-anchor Paul Drewes got pregnant as well. That is, Drewes and wife Gina are expecting a boy, their second, just weeks after Ako's due date.
"These days it's morning sickness and mood swings at home, and then again at work," says Drewes, who's nonetheless buoyant about the baby boom.
Want to know a secret?
You can catch living legend Eddie Kamae playing Tuesday and Friday evenings at the oceanfront Elks Club in Waikiki. The club is members only, but you can sign in as a guest of guitarist Mike Ka'awa, whose gig it is, officially. Kamae hangs out, drinks a little red wine with ice, and joins Ka'awa and bass player Analu Aina every set. "I've never seen him so happy," says wife Myrna.
Kamae, who in 1959 sat down with Gabby Pahinui in a Waimanalo back yard and set off the Hawaiian Renaissance, also plays Sundays at Ko'olau Golf Course. But not today. "That Super Bowl," he says. "Everybody watching TV, no musicians get work."
Libretto or linebackers? Some musicians are working. Opera season kicked off this weekend. That put Jason "Cas" Castle, the hip young sommelier for Du Vin and Indigo, into a dilemma. His tickets for HOT's "Samson & Dalila" are for today. "I was torn," he says. "Then I realized it's just a damn football game. I'm going to the opera."
His decision, he says, has created an interesting social experiment: "Can I get a date to the opera on Super Bowl Sunday?" I'm guessing yes.
Music on tap: Yard House, the first of the new Waikiki Beach Walk restaurants, opens officially next Sunday. If you can't wait to check out the 130 beers on tap, you can get in Friday or Saturday after the private parties end at 8 p.m.
In addition to beer, expect classic rock. Yardhouse CEO Steele Platt, who has a $250,000 sound system in his California home, gets up every morning and programs a new playlist for his 14 restaurants.
Platt grew up in Kailua from '69 to '77. For Waikiki, he's programming Hawaiian music on Sundays. Expect music he dug while at Kalaheo High School: C&K, Kalapana, Olomana, Country Comfort.
Chocolate what? Chef Jay Matsukawa has come up with what he says is the ultimate romantic dish for Valentine's Day, suitable for both genders. It's chocolate beer chili. Really. To taste it, you'll have to attend the Willow's Valentine's beer sampling on Friday.
Starving artists: Musicians across the state are mourning the loss of Abe Weinstein, who founded the Hawaii International Jazz Festival 14 years ago. David Choy (if you hear sax on a locally produced CD, it's no doubt Choy) met Weinstein on one of his first professional gigs back in 1978. The two were on Kauai to play behind Johnny Mathis, but the promoter gave the musicians no per diem, no meals. Recalls Choy, "Abe and I spent the weekend hunting through the hotel kitchens, looking for bread and bits of food to devour."
Weinstein worked tirelessly to help Hawaii's jazz musicians. "He might have sold more festival tickets if he brought in more mainland acts, but he wasn't in it for the money. Unlike most festival promoters, he never even asked for a cut of your CD sales at the event."
Choy will stand in for Weinstein at a jazz education workshop, part of next weekend's Hawaii International Jazz Festival at Windward Community College. The free performances next Sunday will likely turn into a spontaneous tribute to Abe.