Just asking…

Have you noticed the surge in cost of vellum or cover stock, a staple in paper crafts?

As a card-maker hobbyist, I’ve been using the vellum paper for decades. It’s got more body and stiffness than the everyday document “typewriter paper,” what you commonly use in your copier.

Back in the day, a ream (250 sheets, 67 lbs.) cost under $5 a ream, then periodically became more expensive over the past four decades.

Springhill cover stock paper.

It was more than three years ago, prior to the start of the COVID pandemic, that I bought my last ream of plain white vellum paper. If you’re a hobbyist, you know that these cover stock paper comes in a range of colors, from pastel pink and blue, to yellow and green, and even tonier hues of orchid or peach.

Prices have been gradually escalating, like everything else, to $16 and $18 a ream…the last time I purchased several reams.

But ouch! When I visited Fisher’s the other day, the price tag was more than doubled, to $30-plus for a ream for the Springhill brand, the one I usually bought. For red, and dark colors like purple and garden green, I had to purchase another brand at Office Depot that was always costlier.

At Fisher, I located another brand, Hammermill, for under $19, so purchased that.

But I wanted to find out what comparison costs were at Office Depot and not surprisingly, the price tags were over $30 for cover stock and even standard copier paper.

It might be cheaper to shop at Amazon, which sells the Springhill product for $16.34.

Besides card-making, I need the vellum paper to create mounting labels for the holiday pins I make.

Just wondered if anyone else has encountered the soaring cost of paper.


Challenges aside, singer Shari Lynn and her keyboarder Jim Howard are back at the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Paradise Lounge, located outside of the Bali restaurant in the Rainbow Tower.

She’ll be back, doing three sets from 7 p.m. on Feb. 18. Her agenda: performances on the second and fourth Saturdays each month.

Distractions and obstacles aside, Shari is a splendid optimist, sharing her skills of a stage actress, educator (retired) advocate of the Great American Songbook music, communicator and sometimes nightclub attraction, like this gig.

Ultimately, she distinguishes herself as a true chanteuse, with her ditties evolving as mini-stories that probe the essence of the lyrics, resulting in exquisite theatrical powerhouses. She’s on the money and she certainly works hard at her craft.

She focuses and digs deeply into the emotions of her tunes, as if she were delivering a romantic  ballad or a swing-thing from stage center. It’s not just her voice that sings, but her hands become part of her accentuate-the-positive expressions..

Shari Lynn

This, amid several pillars that restrict viewing for her devotees, and occasional hotel diners criss-crossing while she sings. She asks a restaurant aide to turn off a TV screen facing her from an opposite wall (a distraction for her, but not the audience – the volume is off) and the errant chit-chats from diners awaiting a table can be heard, too.

Through all of this, she soldiers on with a repertoire that taps  Broadway and screen classics, a bit of jazz, for which she’s known. This is not the perfect venue, but she has the manner and motivation to entertain and enchant her listeners nonetheless.

Over two sets, you’ll know and embrace her selections: “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” (with altered lyrics mentioning Waikiki and the Bali), “Send in the Clowns” (the Stephen Sondheim signature, perfect for a little night music serenade), “If He Walked Into My Life” (high drama, packed with sentiment).

Musically, Shari covers a lot of ground. Oldies are crisp, when she taps “Where or When,” “The Gypsy in My Soul,” “Getting to Know You,” “The Best Is Yet to Come.” Even “It’s Not Easy Being Green” is rich in texture, and whoa, her bossa nova parody is one to experience, too.

Mary Gutzi

On this night, her pal Mary Gutzi, a star of Broadway and Hawaii stages, gets up and hits homers with “ ‘Swonderful” (‘Smarverlous, perfect rendering) and “Someone to Watch Over Me” (sustaining the power of the lyrics). Gutzi is on hiatus here, waiting for New York to defrost, but also has been offering vocal coaching.

Jim Howard

This joyous serenade couldn’t happen without pianist Howard, who gets and deserves generous solo-keyboard interludes on many selections, a gift not commonly shared by other warblers. But he connects with the singers. Or, as Shari opines, “He breathes with you,” referring to Howard’s absorbing style of expression via his fingers.

He also is kinda of one-man geek squad; with his Roland keyboard momentarily posing problems, he finds the right plugs to keep the ball rolling. And his remarkable solo of Vince Guaraldi’s “The Charley Brown Christmas Song” was note-for-note as good as the original. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


What’s happening with the mounting exit traffic at the Koko Marina Shopping Center in Hawaii Kai?

You know that Zippy’s will discontinue dine-in, with the last day for service on Feb. 5. However, take-out will continue at the snack bar — at least through the end of this year.

But Hawaii National Bank — on Lunalilo Road, next to the service station –will cease operations for good, too, on May 5.  Unlike one-time neighbor Bank of Hawaii, which previously had a spacious facility but downsized at another location facing Kalanianaole Highway, Hawaii National  is instructing customers to do future banking at its Kaimuki branch.

Another merchant — Al Phillips, the laundry — shut down last November  with little notice.

Thus, there are many open spaces in this suburban mall.

What’s in the water there, with so many closures and abandoned retail space?

After the former Ben Franklin craft store closed to move to the Kaimuki vicinity, across Kaimuki High School, there were other tenants, including Pricebusters, a discount store, and it had a good run. Years after it shut down, an  emporium targeting gaming fans opened and shut quickly, due to scanty patronage.

Across the way, a Japanese restaurant opened, then closed, and did a re-launch, but finally threw in the towel for good, following a dismal run.  A new tenant, Happiness, is a set to occupy that space, next door to Assaggio, though dubiously; this new operator may not have heard that Sophie’s pizzeria closed a few doors away last year.

I support many neighborhood merchants, so it’s worrisome that  that the eight-screen Koko Marina multi-plex is struggling to draw cinephiles. Hope it can survive the skimpy viewership until new blockbuster titles  — like sequels such as “Avatar” and “Top Gun” — start filling the seats. At the large-screen No. 8 theater last weekend, there were only five patrons at a matinee screening.

The pandemic can’t be wholly blamed, but other smaller malls across Oahu don’t seem to have this kind of declining traffic and empty spaces after shut-downs.

What goes? Can’t merely point to inflation either; everyone’s hurting but clearly, merchants can’t keep up with the loss of profit margins due to a lack of patronage. …

Steel guitar festival in Kona

A three-day Kona Steel Guitar Festival is slated for March 23, 24 and 25 at the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa in Keauhou, on the Big Island.

Alan Akaka

Participating steel guitarists performing March 23 include Alan Akaka, Pomai Brown, Al Greene, Jr., Bobby Ingano, Kapono Lopes, Patti Maxine, Greg Sardinha, Dwight Tokumoto, and Geronimo “Geri” Valdriz. NextGen steel guitarists include Enosa Lyman, Makamae Lyu-Napoleon, Isaballa Bertelmann, Joey Misailidis, and Pono Fernandez.  Kimo Kahoano will be master of ceremonies.

On March 24 and 25, the kanikapila will welcome community guitarists to bring their instruments and perform along with other festival troupers. Those requiring amplification should bring their own batter-operated amplifier.

The event, free to the public, is sponsored by the Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE), Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music and the Outrigger Kona hotel.

Information about all HIMELE-produced Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festivals and livestream events is available at http://steelguitarfestivals.com/

Broadway grosses, week ending Jan. 29

Posting a closing date has been beneficial for “Phantom of the Opera,” which again tops the weekly gross list.

The show, Broadway’s longest-running musical, has posted an extended April 16 at the Majestic Theatre, and fans continue to flock to see hear the music of the night and watch the chandelier fall.

The top seven shows with the top grosses in New York:

1 – “Phantom,” $2.483 million.

2 – “Funny Girl,” $1.872 million.

3 – “Hamilton,” $1.871 million.

4 – “The Lion King,” $1.695 million.

5 – “MJ,” $1.584 million.

6 – “Wicked,” $1.549 million.

7 – “Moulin Rouge,” $1.376 million.

Here’s the full tally is courtesy The Broadway Guild. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Production is underway, for this year’s Valentine’s pins. Have been creating a bunch of new pins, samples shared here, and hope to be done by the end of this month, since Feb, 14 — Valentine’s Day — will be here in a blink.

Wish me luck…