What the Heck?
Emmy-winning funnyman gets his digs on Maui vacation
My friend Ken Levine has two good qualities. He loves Hawaii, and he's a funny guy.
Funny? He's written for "M.A.S.H.," "Cheers," "Frasier," "The Simpsons," "Wings" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," picking up an Emmy along the way. At the moment, like every Hollywood writer, he's on strike.
Levine spends a lot of time here and once had a semi-successful sitcom set on the North Shore, called "Big Wave Dave." The writers strike didn't keep him from spending Christmas on Maui.
Even on Maui, Levine can't keep the jokes from coming. He put a week's worth of Maui zingers into an e-mail.
When I got it, I gave him a call. "Cracked me up. Can I use it in my column?"
"Use anything you want, use it all," he said. "But make sure you tell everyone, despite my snarky comments, I really do love the islands."
One other thing: He wanted me to mention his blog, "By Ken Levine." It pops right up on Google.
OK, from this point on, I'm taking the week off. Here's an Emmy-winning comedy writer's take on a week in Wailea:
Maui Christmas by Ken Levine
Levine family vacations are becoming more precious and rare. Damn those kids for having lives! But this year it was just the four of us. Annie flew in from Chicago, Matt from Silicon Valley, and we all spent a week together at the Grand Wailea on Maui.
Bumped into Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman at LAX. I thanked him for sticking up for the writers, and he said: "No problem. That's why I have to leave the country."
Not to shirk my strike-related duties, I did picket the Four Seasons every morning.
As longtime guests of the Grand Wailea, we were given preferential treatment. They put us in rooms on the ground floor right along a busy path. For good measure, one was a handicapped room. Nothing says "parrr-tyyy" to two twentysomethings like wheelchair-access showers. We were finally moved to better rooms next to a family of 12.
The Grand Wailea caters primarily to families. The Four Seasons is the first four rows of the Lakers games.
The weather was spectacular and we were verrrry lucky. The week before, they had "Kona" storms -- constant deluges. Power was out at the hotel for a day, two in nearby Kihei. Yes, the hotel did have a backup generator, but that was used to keep the blenders going. This is high piña colada season!
The waves during the storm were 10 feet high, went over the beach, past the garden path and landed in the kiddie pool. But the snorkeling was great. You just sat on your balcony and watched the fish fly by.
The art gallery at the Wailea mall still has that sign offering original paintings by Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, David Bowie and, in much smaller letters -- Picasso.
Every time I return to Hawaii, I am more convinced it's the most spectacular place on earth.
Imagine the beauty of "Lost" without the polar bears, mysterious smoke monsters, the "Others," abductions, explosions, killer force fields, flying spears, illegal medical experiments and that annoying couple they buried alive.
"Mahalo" means thank you. But I understand that since it's written on every trash can, many tourists think "mahalo" means "trash."
Celebrity sighting at the hotel: Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who just won the Cy Young award. He didn't bring it down to the pool, so I assume he's married.
My son Matt, a Red Sox fan, wanted to thank him for choking in the American League Championship Series, but settled on saying "mahalo." Of course, depending on what C.C. thought "mahalo" meant ...
I also wonder how many vacationers think "Wi-Fi" is a Hawaiian word.
Two weeks ago, Jennifer Love Hewitt was at the Grand Wailea. Those now-famous bikini shots of her were taken there. We got the New Jersey B'nai Brith women's auxiliary league.
The big local story was the University of Hawaii football team. They're off to the Sugar Bowl. They should be going to the Rose Bowl and their quarterback, Colt Brennan, should have won the Heisman Trophy. They get no respect, even after an undefeated season and dropping Rainbows from their team name.
The Channel 9 weekend weather wahine advised any locals going to New Orleans to see the Sugar Bowl to be sure to bring their winter clothes. Expected high: 68 degrees.
You can't walk 10 feet in any direction here without some jogger calling out, "On your left!"
I stopped off to watch one of the many beautiful weddings at the Grand Wailea too-cute-for-words chapel. The gorgeous bride walked down the aisle, heard the organ music, the applause from her cherished friends and family, and a guy yelling, "On your left!"
There is a vineyard on Maui that makes pineapple wine. Next time you're in a really fine restaurant, ask the sommelier which pineapple wine he recommends.
As Christmas approached, the Grand Wailea got more crowded. The traditional holiday knife fights over chaise lounges didn't begin until the 21st this year.
Santa himself was in the lobby, taking pictures with starry-eyed little children and drunk frat boys from TCU who just got out of the hot tub. At least the wee kinder dried themselves off before sitting on Santa's knee. That heavy woolen suit must've smelled like a dead raccoon by the time the tattooed Samoan elves mercifully sprung him.
All in all, it was another wonderful week in paradise. My New Year's resolutions for '08 are (1) to move to Hawaii and (2) look good in shorts. At least with the first one I've got a shot.
Happy New Year, and may Hi'iaka, the Hawaiian goddess of spirit and dance, always be "on your left."