Just asking…

Let’s get something straight: even if CDS has loosened its COVID-19 regulations, the protocols in Hawaii remain somewhat firm regarding face masks. Like it or not, masks are not yet history.

Some are unmasking, based on national rules. But on the home front, masks still rule and some recommendations remain:

Mask wearing depends on when and where
  • Retailers still would like to have customers masked. That means merchants such as Costco, Target, WalMart, Longs and Walgreen (The national mandate does not apply here).
  • Ditto, restaurants. You wear your mask upon entry, you remove when you chat, drink and eat.
  • Airlines still are firm: no masks, no flight. Suggestion: keep a mask tucked into hour carry-on, cuz you’re gonna need it.
  • With many adults getting vaxxed – those who’ve resisted, what’s the matter? – there’s still the matter of children at home. As schools look to the fall resumption of in-person classes, with some hybrid situations were virtual learning might continue – unvaccinated children could still need to don face masks.
  • As activities mount — such as outdoor sports, indoor concerts and theater, and other recreational and entertainment shows —  the mask factor may depend on the venue and the event. Football, no masks; indoor theater, masking until further notice.

And a somewhat giddy note: As you gather with friends you haven’t seen since last year and the during the darker days of the pandemic, don’t you feel a tad foolish when someone hauls out an iPhone for a selfie, and you are masked, and you’re beaming with a huge smile … that cannot be seen?


Singer-actress Loretta Ables Sayre has a sparkling, splendid new look – and proud of it.

She shared her new coif on Facebook, and it’s not just transforming but attractive and stunning. A whole new whirl.

“After 30 years of tinting my roots, I wanted out,” said the Hawaii-based Tony Award nominee.

“Thought of doing it during the Covid lockdown but never knew if work was around the corner.”

Loretta Ables Sayres’ new look, minus tinting.

Since the pandemic prevented job opportunities, she made the leap.

“I looked back and realized there’s no better time than now. So I visited my hairstylist, Donna Tokumoto, and had her help me ‘boost’ the grow out period around my face and she worked her magic, and here we are!”

The red specs add vigor and sparkle to her look.

“I love the freedom and power of not bothering with hair color and not caring what anyone things. I own it and it feels great!,” he says.

Betcha most people will applaud her bold move and cheer her new look. …

Blue Notes

Kimie Mine will celebrate her birthday with a two-night party at 6:30 and 9 p.m. July 9 and 10 at Blue Note Hawaii, with in-club or virtual participation…

Streelight Cadence, the four-member band formally anchored in Hawaii, will return this summer for a one-nighter  at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Aug. 21 at Blue Note Hawaii…

 For reservations, to either show, visit …

Mighty Mo’s teak repurposed as gifts

Martin & MacArthur, the Hawaii-centric creator of everything from teak furniture to teak watches, has launched a new line of products in partnership with Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor.  

Ornament by Shaun Tokunaga.

Fetching original teak, from the decks of the Mighty Mo, M&M has created specialty keepsake items from photo frames to ornaments, from pens to business card cases, linking World War II history into wearable and useable everyday items.

Timed to last weekend’s Memorial Day celebrations here and abroad, the historic pieces have gained new life as repurposed mementos, with sales beginning shortly at the museum and at the Martin & MacArthur website at

“We are grateful for this partnership with Martin & MacArthur, a company who truly shares our dedication to craftsman ship,” said Mike Carr, president and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, in a statement.

The material utilized in creating the momentodo not rob the wartime ship of its precious woodwork. “Our Teak Crew works hard everyday to restore the deck of the Mighty Mo,” said Carr. Excess teak is provided to the teak masters,  so this collaboration “with a company that has use for our excess teak…makes this relationship incredibly special.”

Teak has served as an important element – covering about 1.2 acres of deck space. The wood not only is extremely durable, it is a porous material that can withstand moisture and sunlight and has prevented crew members from slipping while maneuvering aboard the ship.

“We are honored to receive such generous amounts of teak from the USS Missouri, which directly supports Hawai‘i craftsmen who then can continue creating innovative products during such a challenging time for small, local businesses,”  said Michael Tam, CEO of Martin & MacArthur. “This new Teak Collection allows the world to see what Hawai‘i has to offer as well as own a piece of historical significance.” …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


Welcome to “Down Memory Lane,” a window of reflection. We’ll occasionally look back and remember people, places and things that made Hawaii special. We’ll welcome you to jump in periodically, too, to recall and relive another time when folks and destinations live mostly in memories.

If you’re of a certain vintage, you clearly will remember a saimin stand in your neighborhood, where you could get a bowl of noodles and broth and chit-chat, likely at picnic tables and benches, and slurp to your heart’s content.

Look around now; the mom-and-pop saimin stand is practically history.  Boulevard Saimin shuttered a few months back, and while Zippy’s and Shiro’s and even Rainbow Drive In can whip out a house specialty, the joints of the 1950s and ‘60s were pure gems.

When I was a kid, perhaps 10 or 12, living with my parents in Liliha, we were  five or six blocks away from Hall Street, off Kukui Street (don’t look, long gone), where a saimin stand flourished.

I remember eating in once, but our ritual was to do takeout. We had to bring our own stove top pot, order, then walk home with the hot pot.

There would be enough portions to serve four, with kamaboko and slivers of char siu, swimming in the broth and noodles. Chopped green onions provided a burst of green cheer. On special occasions, we might order wun ton min. I don’t recall the cost, but I remember that sticks of barbecue meat, grilled at the stand, were 5 cents apiece and we took four home as a side dish.

A few years later, a smaller saimin stand opened on Liliha at Vineyard Streets, which was closer than the trek to Hall Street. I think they had paper take-home containers; we didn’t need to bring our own pot.

Today, Hamura’s Saimin on Kauai is possibly the iconic model of the classic stand. Few seats, traditional menu, long lines before the pandemic.

Curiously, two stands have survived in Honolulu – Palace Saimin in Kalihi and Old Saimin Stand in Kapalama. Tanaka’s Saimin, or the chain of Ramen-Ya outlets, are newer

models of the old-fashioned stands … and don’t fit the template.

Do you recall a special saimin stand in your neighborhood? Or perhaps your family operated one?  Or the pot take-outs?


Steve Iwamoto, a Hawaii resident and a late-blooming actor, stars in
“I Was a Simple Man,” which has been acquired by Strand Releasing for North America screenings.

Turns out that Iwamoto is the first cousin of singer-turned-business-guru Kevin Iwamoto, aka Kevin I, the singer.

“You can clearly see the family resemblance,” says Kevin. “He’s the son of my dad’s older brother.”

Steve Iwamoto

The fact that cousin Steve stars opposite Constance Wu in this film was a mild surprise. That it had its premiere this year at the Sundance Film Festival was joyous.

Kevin Iwamoto

“I always thought for years that I was the only one in the family with the creative gene, but my cousin proves it existed, albeit later in life,” says Kevin.

The film, by Christopher Makoto Yogi, is described as a lyrical ghost story set in an Oahu countryside. It is rich in familial struggles with terminal illness, caregiving, obligations, but wider elements like respect and mortality. Steve plays Masao, whose sunset years are fading due to failing health as estranged family members strive to provide the support and care he needs.

When Masao is visited by his deceased wife Grace (Wu) where the ghost strand unfolds, he is forced to face the decisions of his past.

The multi-generational film features an ensemble of Asian American and Native Hawaiian actors beyond the two leads, including Kanoa Goo, Tim Chiou and Chanel Akiko Hirai. Its simplicity, with the ghost-story element, provides serenity as well as suspense.

Wu might be remembered for her roles in the zany hit film “Crazy Wild Asians” and the TV series “Fresh Off the Boat.”

No indication yet if “I Was a Simple Man,” clearly more art film than blockbuster summer fare, might be shown here. …

Lee Cataluna has a bold pace this summer

Lee Cataluna

No rest for Lee Cataluna, a former colleague from our newspapering days, this summer.

As she announced on Facebook, the prolific playwright when she’s not writing for Civil Beat, faces a busy two months. So  she’s on leave as a journalist till Aug. 1.

This is her agenda of projects, by numbers:

1 — She’s been commissioned by the San Francisco Playhouse to write a play.

2 — There’s an upcoming play reading with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

3 — She’s working on another play, from a ReImagine grant.

4 – She’s prepping an anthology of four of her works, to be published next year.

5 – She’s committed to do a piece for Dramatic Publishing and Childsplay.

So the next two months will be extremely fantastic and productive.

You know, if you know me, that Lee wrote “You Somebody” with me in mind, which was produced twice in sell-out productions at Diamond Head Theatre.

And yes, I recall our conversation when she yearned to be in my “Show Biz” column, print edition, some years before she ultimately became a “somebody” herself.

So Lee, this is my first online column that mentions you. In usual boldface, of course. And enjoy your fruitful summer …

Trump’s blog site is history

One dude who won’t have a happy summer is former President Donald Trump. His blog – established after social media sources such as Twitter and Facebook banned him because of untruths he posted, alleging the election was stolen from him  – has been permanently shut down less than a month after it was established.

The blog, titled “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” is history, according to online sources such as CNBC and Variety. The site had a lukewarm response and was mocked by some sources.

“It will not be returning,” his senior aide Jason Miller said on CNBC. He added that the website blog was part of an auxiliary plan “to the broader efforts we have and are working on.”

Trump was effective with his online rants, until he was suspended, then ultimately banned, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a charge the ex-pres has denied, claiming “free speech has been taken away from the President.” …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


There’s a new addition to the Sayre household in Mililani Mauka. Loretta Ables Sayre, the entertainer, and David Sayre, her publicist hubby, have welcomed Kamuela Sayre, whose pitter-pattering around the house is music to the ears.

Kamuela is 7, so somewhat of a senior, and he is a black lab mix “that is all love,” says Loretta. “We weren’t looking for a senior dog after losing Kaimana so recently,” she says on Facebook. “But when we met Kamuela and couldn’t get him out of our minds, we knew he needed us.”

Kamuela Sayre, dressed to thrill, is, a new member of the Sayre household in Mililani Mauka.

It’s been a mutual admiration relationship since. So the Hawaiian Humane Society is one dog short, and Kamuela’s constantly wagging tail means he’s happy to find a home.

Kamuela loves cooked rice, and is “77 lbs. of solid love,” says Loretta. “Our hearts are full again.” …

A Willie remembrance…

Since June is Willie K Month on Maui — and there’s no rule that we can’t salute Willie Kahaiali’i in Honolulu — thought I’d share a reflection from one of his fans on Oahu.

This was from an email I received today; the writer prefers anonymity:

Willie K, at one of his many appearances at Blue Note Hawaii.

“Before he was really well-known, a young pre-school teacher in our Alpha Delta Kappa educational sorority got him to entertain at our Southwest Conference at the Sheraton Waikiki because his child was in her class.  He liked her so much he did it for free.

“On the evening of our banquet he walked onto the stage with wild, bushy hair, aloha shirt, short pants and no shoes.  Seated next to me was a special guest from Washington, DC.  She was not a classroom teacher but an out-spoken woman who trained executives.  Taking one look at Willie K’s, she expressed her outrage at his appearance.

“Then as he talked and started with ‘local’ songs, she continued to complain.  However, she was silenced when he sang an operatic selection, and at the end of the evening she wanted to thank the pre-school teacher.”  

Willie often startles or even offends folks who’ve never seen or heard him, but inside this rough, perhaps sometimes crude exterior lived an artist who mostly let his music tell his story. Yes, he often wore slippahs and appeared on stage with a comfy disposition. But when he sang, he reigned supreme — a book that might have a tattered cover, but a soul with pages of significant power and compelling storytelling brilliance. Simply, he has been a cultural pioneer with hard-to-beat versatility. Imua, Willie, and yes, Hawaii and the world miss you dearly…

And that’s “Show Biz.”…