What the Heck?
"Plaid Tidings" opened at Manoa Valley Theatre last week. It features the Plaids, a hopelessly retro singing group. Clockwise from center, Sean Jones, Aaron Komo, Mike Dupre and Andrew Sakaguchi.
Look out! The holidays already are upon us
Not counting the appearance of gift baskets at Costco after Labor Day, the first salvo of the Christmas season has been fired.
"Plaid Tidings" opened at Manoa Valley Theatre last week. The story features the Plaids, a hopelessly retro singing group, who are in Heaven but return -- oh, never mind the plot. The show's an endearingly goofy recycling of '50s pop culture and TV Christmas specials past. Brisk sales have extended the run through Dec. 2.
It's mainly a young cast -- two 16-year-old high school kids (Sean Jones, Aaron Komo), one UH student (Mike Dupre). Plus theater veteran Andrew Sakaguchi, who directs and choreographs.
"It's exhausting to keep up with the kids, but energizing," says Sakaguchi. "I thought long and hard before putting myself in the cast, but I decided there's nothing I'd rather be than a Plaid for Christmas."
Tsutsumi Immerses Herself in Beer
Had to chuckle when I saw writer Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi's latest, "The Hawaii Beer Book."
Cheryl doesn't drink. "Everyone knows I'm a teetotaler," she says. "I get sloshed on half a glass of wine." Prior to the book, she says, she probably had had only three sips of beer in her life -- "and didn't like it."
A visit to a home-brewing friend inspired her to write a book on "everything beer in Hawaii." Along the way she developed a taste for the stuff, in small quantity. "I visited one brewer who put eight kinds of beer in front of me," she recalls. "I got through it, with small sips."
Packed with local beer lore, the book debuts, fittingly enough, at The Willows' Hops & Grinds beer event Friday. Raise a glass with Tsutsumi. Just don't expect her to finish hers.
The King of Cocktails Returns
"Can't tell you how happy I am to be coming back to Hawaii. I was going though withdrawal symptoms," said master bartender Dale DeGroff.
Known internationally as the King of Cocktails, DeGroff used to travel to Hawaii monthly to revamp the Halekulani's cocktail program. And he finagled this trip a year ago when he met the editors of Travel + Leisure magazine at a Halekulani party.
Travel + Leisure and the folks who make Grand Marnier helped DeGroff launch a Beverage Arts Challenge. More than 250 bartenders submitted original cocktail recipes. DeGroff and mixologist Anthony Giglio picked the top 10, which were posted online. More than 35,000 people voted for their favorite cocktail, perhaps motivated by the chance to win a trip to Hawaii.
The top three vote-getters will fly in for final mix-off Friday at the Halekulani, where a winner will be crowned by DeGroff and a "notable panel of judges." I wouldn't be so sure about "notable," since the panel includes me.
You can attend the finals, which include a cocktail reception, for $65. Or perhaps better, you can just drop by Lewers Lounge Saturday evening, when the three top bartenders plus DeGroff wield their shakers behind the bar from 8 to 10 p.m.
Aiona Likes "Aiona Girl"
"OH. MY. GOSH. Put your monitor in 'asbestos' mode before viewing," wrote one of the posters at HawaiiThreads.com's media forum.
That was a reaction to Cat Toth's "Aiona Girl" video, which has belatedly made it online, at www.myspace.com/gridironhawaii. Produced and directed by KITV's Ben Gutierrez for the Gridiron Show, Toth's parody of the "Obama Girl" video may be better than the original.
Barack Obama himself deplored "Obama Girl." But, through a campaign spokesperson, Duke Aiona says he enjoyed Toth's video -- "in the spirit in which it was intended. It was funny."
Keeping Abreast of the Mail
Maile Meyer of Native Books was worried. She was mailing out 100 copies of Puakea Nogelmeier's new translation, "The Epic Tale of Hi'iakaikapoliopele," with illustrations by Solomon Enos. She'd come up with a fancy mailing label that featured Enos' cover illustration of Hi'iaka striding through the fern forest -- bare-breasted, as, of course, she would have been.
"Uh oh," said her postman. "I think the Post Office will refuse to deliver these."
"We didn't think of her as bare-breasted," says Meyer. "We thought of her as Hawaiian." Hawaiian culture was far too candid for the missionaries, but the post office proved more culturally sensitive. The books made it through the mail.
Hawaiian Renaissance Hits Print
Scholarly works seldom set off daylong celebrations. But UH prof Nogelmeier's English translation of the Hi'iaka legends gets more than the usual book launch -- a festival today in Foster Garden, the usual $5 admission waived. The Garden opens at 9 a.m., with main festivities kicking off around 2 p.m.
Here's why Nogelmeier's dense, 500-page tome deserves the fuss: It rescues from dusty museum archives a rich Hawaiian myth, written in Hawaiian by a Hawaiian for Hawaiians. This is material that's been generally known up to now only in a 1915 retelling by the son of missionaries.
Along with his English translation, Nogelmeier has published a companion volume with the Hawaiian text -- the first time that too has been available for a century. "This book is just the tip of the iceberg," says Nogelmeier. "There's literally a million pages of Hawaiian writing that hardly anyone has seen for nearly 100 years."
The Hawaiian Renaissance has been largely in music, hula and sailing canoes. Now it's on library shelves. Expect a thoroughly cultural celebration -- food, kapa making, hula halau, and a major Hawaiian music star flying in for a cameo appearance.
Alan Wong's Does Zippy's
Wade Ueoka is Alan Wong's chef de cuisine. But he began his career 15 years ago at Zippy's. For Wong's King Street restaurant, he's come up with a Zippy's-inspired dinner.
It begins with a burger (actually foie gras) and ends with a Napple (apple galette). Along the way you get won ton mein, beef curry and -- prepare yourself -- Kona lobster chili. Not Zippy's prices. Five courses for $75, Nov. 28.