GRAB-AND-GO BENTOS AT FUNERALS

Been to a funeral recently, or during the later phases of the pandemic?

Bentos now are very much part of the funeral experience. It’s trending as an alternate to post-services buffets in the reception hall.

Also, services at the mortuary are now welcoming larger crowds like the past decades, unlike the 10-maximum head count at the height of the pandemic. Face masks are recommended, like other events with huge attendance.

The  local custom at funerals always has included post-service fellowship with the grieving family. Over the decades, a mini-buffet of local food – sushi, perhaps fried chicken, macaroni or potato salad, with mochi as the dessert offering – used to be the rule of thumb. Paper or foam plates would be available, along the usual utensils, like chopsticks, forks, napkins, where mourners used to self-servce.

Sample bento menu at Ige’s catering.

Not anymore. Bentos in pre-packed take-out type containers are stacked in the reception hall, awaiting mourners of the family of the deceased. When you consider health safety, a pre-packed meal makes a lot of sense, however awkward it might seem. And there are no more intrusive, pesky flies.

If folks start to exit and skip the refreshment hall, announcements are made to pick up a mini-meal in a grab-and-go format. Even take-out plastic bags are available for those opting to nibble at home.

Apparently, catering organizations have been revving up the post-funeral bento meals. Websites reflect a range of bento options, from minimalist to the excessive (and expensive), depending on budget.  

HOW MANY CARS HAVE YOU OWNED?

Let’s talk cars: What brand of car was the very first you owned or drove?

And how many cars have you owned or driven since?

I remember my  first vehicle, after obtaining a license, was my family’s Dodge.

The first car I bought, after getting married, was a Ford. A second Ford followed.

Then I switched to a Mazda, my third vehicle.

I discovered the Nissan brand, so had a Pathfinder SUV for a spell. — the height of an SUV gave you a better view of the traffic,

Then I moved up to the Infiniti brand, getting an Infiniti SUV, even if gasoline prices were high. ‘Twas all about the height and view again.

Returned to a sedan, switching to a sleek Infiniti G35, then acquired my dream car, the Infiniti Q50, and recently upgraded to a “loaded” Q50, a previously-owned model (my first “used” car.

So the count of “owned” cars:  Eight over a little more than five decades.

Reason for sticking to Infiniti: Dependability and value (kept two models for more than 100,000 miles) and service (never had issues, always had a loaner when servicing).

What’s your history on wheels?

10 CHERISHED YESTERYEAR MEMORIES

Reflection is the validation of a happy life. And you’re a lucky soul, if you have fond memories.

As one who covered the Waikiki scene – with a focus on entertainment – I miss the good ol’ days.

Gone, but not forgotten;  but I cherish these 10 yesteryear recollections:

The Kodak Hula was a popular destination near the Waikiki Shell.
  • The Kodak Hula Show, on a patch of green adjacent to the Waikiki Shell, was a freebie crammed with hula, mele and fun, widely supported by visitors. The ALOHA signage at the show’s finale, was a photo op for the times.
  • Duke Kahanamoku’s, the epicenter of the birth of global favorite, Don Ho. With roots in Kaneohe, he was a crooner beloved by young women and grandmas,who waited for his kisses.  “Tiny Bubbles” became his signature. But his recordings of a clutch of Kui Lee tunes made both famous.
Hilo Hattie was know for her “Hilo Hop.”
  • Hilo Hattie, doing her iconic “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop” She was not a particularly great singer, nor dancer, but she had charisma, in the tutuwahine mode, adored by locals and visitors alike in her revue at the original Halekulani Hotel as well as the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Room..
  • Coco’s, the 24-hour eatery, located at Kalakaua Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard, replaced Kau Kau Korner at the pivotal gateway to Waikiki. It was the place to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but also a grand wee-hour spot for after-movie munchies. The restaurant also boasted a much-photograph locator sign, pointing to cities around the world, and would be a popular selfie spot today, if it were still around.
  • The humble venue called The Noodle Shop at the Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel fronting the Ala Wai Canal, was the birthplace for the career of Frank DeLima. He delivered oodles of local-style gags, and Imelda Marcus, then the first lady of the Philippines, popped in to see him enact her. She surely was the most widely known spectator. That ensured DeLima’s trademark Imelda hair and toaster-sleeved dress, in his routine.
  • The Monarch Room, the fabled showroom-restaurant in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (aka The Pink Palace), is where notable headliners appeared: Wayne Newton, The Brothers Cazimero, John Rowles, Ed Kenney, Marlene Sai, Beverly Noa.
Interior of the Waikiki 3 Theatre featured a rainbow, a moving skyscape and palm trees.
  • The Waikiki Theatre, on Kalakaua Avenue, was later known as the Waikiki 3 because of satellite screens 1 and 2 on Seaside Avenue around the block.- This was the movie palace jewel of the Pacific, with a rainbow arch surround the screen, an in-house organ providing pre-show concerts on weekends, a ceiling with moving clouds, a cluster of coconut trees on both side aisles. The walkway original boasted ponds with water, with screen-star autographs on the cement. Today, the site has restaurants and boutiques – with no designation of its past glory, except for the “WAIKIKI” nameplate.
  • The $1 buffet meals, at the Waikiki Sands, was a true bargain for the times, unfancy but fulfilling. The concept eventually evolved as current $80 buffets in other Waikiki resorts.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome showed films and later featured visitor-aimed shows.
  • The Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome, a replica of the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, had film screenings (like “Around the World in 80 Days.” It eventually became a nightclub hub for such shows as “Paradise Found” and such singing headliners like Don Ho, Jim Nabors, and  magician John Hirokawa.
  • The first Bruno Mars concerts, at Blaisdell Arena. Our local superstar at his best. The Arena is expansive yet intimate. Consequently, the second Mars concert at Aloha Stadium had larger crowds but less intimacy. Still, watching our former Little Elvis on the stadium screens proved he’s still a certified star.

FINGER-PAINTING WAS SQUISHY FUN

For no reason the other day, I had a momentary flashback to…

fingerpainting?

What’s that, you ask?

If you are of a certain age, you should recall this curious but fun “art project,” where your grade school teacher would hand out oversized sheets of paper to hand-craft, or finger-paint a scene.

The paint was a liquified goo, oozing and swishing as you ran your fingers and hands, creating images that had to be dried.

And yep, you got to take this art home for your parents’ gallery of childhood creativity.

Your fingers and hand were “paintbrushes” in fingerpainting.

I recall the paint had a special smell and pasty texture.

Then today, I got an errant email about making-your-own paint for fingerpainting.

The scent must be from corn starch and sugar, yielding the oozy quality.

Single fingers can create still-life flowers

I don’t remember if the teacher made the paint – or it was a staple product back in the day  –but an attached recipe (that showed up in my email) shows you can revive this art form for your child or grandchild.

The colors come from food coloring. Of course, the primary hues, when mixed, result in new colors. Like red and blue yields purple; blue and yellow, green.

Recipe for fingerpaints.

The painting style may vary, using your hands and fingers to swish  amid blobs of several colors; or single finger to paint, create, with you digits as brushes, to create still-life flowers or landscapes.

Suggestion: when the dry out, you can create note cards covers by cutting the art to card size and securing with rubber cement or double-sided tape.

 If nothing else, it’s a silly but fun stroll down memory lane.

MEMORIES OF HOTEL AMENITIES

Whenever you travel, you inevitably book a hotel room that becomes your home away from your own digs. Not very often, a little amenity at your hotel might make it a special memory.

Back in the day, most hotels here gifted visitors with a simple but precious gift: a vanda orchid on your pillow. Visiting women guests would cherish the orchid, usually wearing it behind an ear; the vanda had a sweet scent. Some hotels generally provided a mint on your pillow.

I recall several lasting memories, in hotel stays here and elsewhere.

Warm brownies at bedtime on Kauai.

The local experience was at the Sheraton Kauai at Poipu several decades back. Before bedtime, a ceramic cookie jar, housing several wedges of warm brownies, would be delivered to your room every evening. Open the jar, and a whiff of delish brownies would fill the room. How classy is that?

Further, the hotel provided a plush miniature teddy bear sitting on the sofa. To avoid guests “stealing” the cute bear, a note indicated that if you wanted to take teddy home, you could get one (paying for it, natch) at checkout. If a minor child was in your traveling group, it would be hard not to order one to take home.

On my very first trip to Broadway and New York, I booked a room at the Algonquin  hotel on W. 44th  St., a block away from the Shubert Theatre in the theater district, upon the recommendation of local travel agent Ruth Rittmeister. She said the hotel had old-world charm, and hallways boasted covers from the New Yorker magazine (then located across the street from the hotel) that was sorta a gallery for the literati.

New Yorker art in Algonquin’s corridors.

But the real surprise was that all guests then were greeted with a tiny fruit basket, laden with a banana, an apple, an orange, and grapes, enough to tide you over for a quick snack. Sure, I’ve had more lavish and larger fruit baskets in Hawaii, mostly because I knew the g.m.

Oh, and the Algonquin boasted a reigning cat in the lobby bar; feline fans could pet and hear the kitty purr; over the years, a new cat would be the live-in mascot, a tradition I believe still in place.

And two decades ago, I visited Croatia because my wife hand a global conference in that region, when it was the No. 1 destination for travelers. The walled city of Dubrovnik had hotels, restaurants, plazas and shops; a population of locals who lived up and down the hillside corridors had some of the best views of cruise ships dispatching visitors by sea shuttles.

Ocean-side sea life tanks in Croatia.

But the memory that remains is a tiny hotel, whose name I don’t recall, which was accessible only by a sea shuttle boat. The hotel was nothing fancy, but its “amenity” was a row of coastal restaurant vendors a short walk away. You knew which was the most popular dinner spot, by the length of the waiting line. And talk about fresh catch – you select your entrée, whether fish or lobster, by pointing out the fish swimming (or lobster) in the  coastal “tank” which was the holding space for sea food. Couldn’t get any fresher than this. …