Christmas gifts 2015

November 25th, 2015

Kids. Blabbermouths. My goodness.

Olivia planned the Christmas gift exchange with each parent separately. Then told us about it.

Last week, as we were walking, she confessed as we passed a massage clinic, "I told Daddy about his Christmas gift."

I stopped and looked at her. "What? Why?"

She looked sheepish and said she was excited. I know, and it's fine, but *eye roll*

Then, last night, they come home and I see a brown bag on the counter. I ignore it. As we're all sitting there for dinner, Olivia says to me, "We got you your Christmas present already."

I look at her and said, "So you guys went to the health food store today?" I'm now into Ayurveda as an outgrowth of my interest in yoga, and requested floral scented oils.

She looked at him. He stopped reading his iPad and looked at her and sighed, "You are impossible."

She giggled. We all laughed.

So THEN he pulls one oil out of the bag to show me because he wasn't sure if kukui massage oil qualified. I had to approve my own gift! "You guys are impossible," I said. More laughter.

I lean over to look into the rest of the bag and he pulls it away. Pulls it away! "Well, why leave it out for me to see then?" I question.

"You leave bags lying around," he retorted.

"You're not nosy like me," I defended. (Or insulted myself.)

Husband gives into me and pulls out the rest of the bottles. To be safe, he got an assortment of scents. Coconut, pikake.

He's so funny about covering all his bases. This reminds me of when I was pregnant and to head off any midnight grocery runs for weird cravings, he took a stab at it and bought a grocery cart's-worth of a random assortment of junk food for me.

"I bought everything I could get my hands on. I bought a case of everything snack related. I really didn't want to be driving to Foodland at 3 a.m.," he recalls. Most of it went uneaten.

I didn't have big cravings, but I ate everything in sight. I'd order two entrees at the restaurant. Oh, and there was a little stretch of time in which I actually found pickle juice delicious and would drink it right out of the bottle.

But I digress. Back to 2015.

"So that's it? That's Christmas? It's not even December? That's the big gift surprise?" I stuttered.

We faux-glared at the kid. She giggled. "I promise I won't ruin any more secrets."

"Yes," we said. "Because there aren't anymore to ruin."

Yahoo Travel names Kalihi bakery best pie in state

November 24th, 2015

Where's the best place to get a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving? Yahoo Travel says Hawaiian Pie Company in Kalihi-Kai is number one in the state. The bakery's website says it "specializes in melt-in-your-mouth buttery fruit pies and baked goods."

Yahoo Travel praised the bakery for "a pumpkin custard that adds an extra creamy dimension to the norm."

pie 2

Co-owner Jan Hori says the family owned and operated bakery is thrilled at the accolade, and wasn't even aware of it until a friend forwarded the article to them.

This is the write up from Yahoo Travel.

(This is the write up from Yahoo Travel.)

She and her family are currently in overdrive preparing for Thanksgiving orders. Hawaiian Pie Company will be open on Thursday, November 26. In the spirit of the season, Hori says they're all very thankful for the shout-out from Yahoo Travel!

Yahoo article here:


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The black cell phone case

November 23rd, 2015

My poor mom. The Alzheimers gets worse. She now doesn't remember my daughter Olivia's name. "Who is this pretty little girl? What's your name?" Popo asked Olivia upon first arriving.

We had a big family get together recently and my cousin and my dad have the same first name, Paul. Cousin Paul wanted a photo of my mother, me, and Olivia.

The three of us were standing there waiting for the photo and my mother kept getting distracted or confused. We kept saying, "Look there. Look at Paul."

Then I realized she was looking for my dad, who wasn't in the room at that moment. So I started pointing, "Look at that black phone. Look at that black thing." (She certainly has no idea what a cell phone is.)

"What?" she exclaimed at my manners. "That's not nice. He's our relative."

Huh? Then it dawned on me that she thought I was calling Paul a "black thing." I mean, he is deeply tanned, but no.

It's funny how the mind works with Alzheimers - what gets remembered and what doesn't. It's a grab bag.

So there's still room for humor in life, even in the sadness.

Alfred Hitchcock family ties to Hawaii

November 20th, 2015

The Master of Suspense, revered filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, actually hung out at a Hawaii hotel on a family vacation. While the man often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker is more associated with psychological thriller dramas, his granddaughter Tere Carrubba says he was quite opposite at home: a loving, jovial, sweet family man who loved to spend time with his wife, daughter, and granddaughters.

Tere Carrubba

Tere Carrubba

Tere - and I'm going to refer to her by her first name due to a familiarity that comes with being related by marriage - and her husband are in the Islands this week for the Hawaii International Film Festival, in which she attended the screening of his 1945 film Spellbound. After, she answered questions from the audience.

Tere (far right) and her sisters on family vacation in Switzerland. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

Tere (far right) and her sisters on family vacation in Switzerland. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

She does this all the time. She's invited to speak at festivals and events around the world about her famous grandfather, who directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades. Her mother, Pat, used to be the spokesperson, but can no longer do that, so it's up to Tere or her sister Mary. There is a third sister who prefers not to give public speeches.

Usually, she says, people want to know what Hitchcock was like outside of work, which is right in her wheelhouse. Anyway, she says she couldn't really talk movie jargon. "I was so young when the movies came out, I can't really answer many technical questions. I was in third grade when Psycho came out." She does, however, list Strangers on a Train and The Birds as her favorite films of her grandfather's.

Tere (right) and her sister on the set of North by Northwest. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

Tere (right) and her sister on the set of North by Northwest. Courtesy: Tere Carrubba

On the other hand, she laughs, she's an expert on what he was like as a family man. At first, like all children of celebrities, it didn't dawn on her. "He was the only grandfarther I knew; I didn't know any different."

Tere describes him as "quite a character; he had a sense of humor. One year we spent Christmas with him and he dressed up as Santa Claus. That was pretty funny!"

When she was in first or second grade, she realized he was special, "but it wasn't important to me. There were more important things to a seven year old."

Then, as she got older, she realized his significance. "We'd be places and I saw all the attention he drew." Sometimes she or her sisters would pick him up at the studio and take him grocery shopping (which he loved!) and "it was odd at the produce aisle. Women would look, and be like, 'No that can't be him.'"

As masterful as he was in his craft, Tere says he left work at work. "Once he got home, he was home. That was his place of relaxing and being with family. We saw him and my grandmother a lot. They lived 30 minutes away, but we were there once a week," she says of his Los Angeles home.

Tere reflects on her close relationship with her grandfather. Was there one special memory that stands out? No, she says, there were too many. "Just all the times we spent together alone. Just family. Family was huge to him."

It's ironic, I point out, that despite her grandfather's iconic status in cinema, none of his descendants went into acting or making films. She nods, "I didn't have a passion. I don't think any of us had a passion for it, and you have to have a passion to be successful because it's a tough industry." The closest its gets to showbiz is her sister Katie, a lawyer for DreamWorks.

Me interviewing Tere.

Me interviewing Tere.

Tere's excited to be in the Islands for HIFF. It's her first time to get involved with that film festival, and she says she's pleased to be invited. "To this day, he's revered in the entertainment industry. I don't know that there's been anyone since him, that did what he did. It's a legacy, and I'm honored to represent him. I hope to do it well."

This isn't, however, her first time to Hawaii. She has been coming annually since she was a child. In fact, they vacationed here in 1971. "We came with my grandparents for Christmas to Mauna Kea. It was his idea, and it was a fun time. They enjoyed being here. It was beautiful," recalls Tere. But he certainly didn't come for the tropical sun as most tourists do. "He didn't wear a swimsuit. He didn't like the sun."

Paul & Tere Carrubba

Paul & Tere Carrubba

The Ako family first cousins and spouses.

November 2015: The Ako family first cousins and spouses.


Her ties to Hawaii got even stronger after she met and married my paternal first cousin, Paul Carrubba, in 1988. The yearly visits continue, and though their trips are always whirlwind, we all try to squeeze in a family gathering.

The Ako family (two-thirds of us.) We're related to the Carrubbas through Grandpa Ako.

Nov. 2015: The Ako family (two-thirds of us.) The rest live in the mainland.

Tere says so much about the Aloha State appeals to her: the natural beauty, the peacefulness of Hawaii, and - like her grandfather- the draw of family.

Asia Pacific Entertainment Finance Forum at HIFF

November 18th, 2015

Want a chance to learn from — and perhaps even collaborate with — some of the world’s most influential and successful players in the entertainment industry? Winston Baker, a leading global producer of entertainment finance conferences, is providing that rare opportunity in tandem with the Hawai`i International Film Festival this month. From November 18 - 20, content creators, financiers, and facilitators from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Asia, and Hawaii will converge at The Modern Honolulu Hotel in Waikiki, where Winston Baker is launching its inaugural Asia Pacific Entertainment Finance
Forum (APEFF).

Bruce Tuchman, President of AMC Global and Sundance Channel Global, and Nina Yang Bongiovi, producer of the critically acclaimed films “Fruitvale Station” and “Dope,” are the forum’s keynote speakers. Tuchman will speak on “Redefining the Television Landscape,” while Yang Bongiovi will share the knowledge gained from her more than 16 years of experience in production, finance, and management in Hollywood and Asia.
Panelist Sunny Dhillon, co-founder and principal at Signia Ventures, will speak on “Capitalizing on Gaming IP Development.” Film producers Roy Lee (“How to Train Your Dragon”) and Nanshun Shi (“The Taking of Tiger Mountain”) will serve on the panel “Financing Growth Opportunities for Film, Television and Beyond.” Other panels include “Localization of Remakes and Innovative Film Co-Productions,” and “Challenges and Opportunities: Creating Content in Hawaii.” (For the full program, visit
Joining the impressive slate of mainland and international speakers will be Ricardo Galindez, whose Island Film Group produced the movie “Soul Surfer,” Blue Planet Software President and
CEO Maya Rogers, and Chris Lee, a former president of production at TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures and the founder/director of the University of Hawai’i’s Academy for Creative
A conference pass, providing access to two full days of presentations and panel discussions, as well as a closing reception, costs $395. An “all access” pass, which includes additional receptions, a VIP excursion day, and a private dinner with forum speakers, financiers, and high level executives costs $895. To register online, visit