Archive for November, 2010

Teddy Bear World in Waikiki

By
November 17th, 2010



It works in South Korea - will it work in Waikiki? A new stuffed-animal themed museum called Teddy Bear World Hawaii threw open its doors this month for a grand opening. JS&F, a toy manufacturer, resort and theme park operator based in Korea, is behind this entertainment and retail operation at the two-story space formerly occupied by Planet Hollywood Restaurant in the Bank of Hawaii Waikiki Center.

Mayor Peter Carlisle on left, at grand opening of museum

Mayor Peter Carlisle on left, at grand opening of museum

State Rep. Tom Brower and me

State Rep. Tom Brower and me

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The 18,000-square-foot space leads visitors through a series of exhibits, all featuring teddy bears arranged in historic scenes, eras, costumes, and themes. Most of the bears are animatronic, and at least one attraction is interactive- the Barack Obama bear has a chair where people can sit and pose with the President.

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The store commissioned artist Beverly White to craft several life-sized bears: a sumo bear, the aforementioned Obama bear, and a surfer bear. She says it would normally take a month to complete one bear, whose frame is secured by PVC piping and then given shape by putting stuffing around it.

Rep. Brower and me at the "White House"

Rep. Brower and me at the "White House"

Bev White, teddy bear artist

Beverly White, teddy bear artist

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It's a cute museum, and here's wishing it success!

Elvis-bear has NOT left the building

Elvis-bear has NOT left the building

***
Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Posted in child | 1 Comment »

Hawaii Tobacco Quitline

By
November 16th, 2010



Want to quit smoking? On Thursday, you'll get a little extra moral support from the American Cancer Society, by way of its nationwide event, The Great American Smokeout. Every year on November 18, the organization puts the spotlight on smokers who want to quit. Just in time for that date, the state of Hawaii's health department has revamped services to support that effort.

"The Hawaii Tobacco Quitline’s new services – such as enhanced availability of free nicotine patches or gum for tobacco users -- will make it possible for even more of Hawaii's 150,000 smokers to get the help they need to put their addiction to tobacco behind them,” said Julian Lipsher, program coordinator for the Tobacco Prevention & Education Program with the State Department of Health. The state is making it even easier to stop smoking by offering free nicotine patches or gum for tobacco users.

"When tobacco users enroll in cessation services with the Quitline, a Quit Coach® will work with the caller to determine if nicotine patches or gum is right for them. If it is, the Quitline will provide the patches or gum for free. These services are now available free for all tobacco users, regardless of insurance. Additionally, tobacco users can receive up to three follow up calls from a Quit Coach to check in on the caller’s progress and to provide support in their quit process," continued the press release.

Past the three follow-up calls, smokers or tobacco users can still call the Quitline whenever they need extra support. The Quitline also offers advice on on medication to help quit smoking, literature on what to expect while quitting, access to Web Coach®, an interactive website where online tools can be used to track progress, and an introduction to a support group for other aspiring quitters.

Hawaii Tobacco Quitline

1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Monday through Sunday, 3 a.m. to 9 p.m.

clearthesmoke.org

"Pulse" launch

By
November 15th, 2010



Honolulu’s newest entertainment and nightlife website, celebrated its first month with a party at Nextdoor in Chinatown earlier this month. Star-Advertiser webmaster Scott Morifuji says Honolulupulse.com received 3.3 million page views since its launch on Oct. 1 through the end of October - nice!

I dropped by to celebrate, see old friends, and meet new ones!

Frank Bridgewater and Scott Morifuji

Frank Bridgewater and Scott Morifuji

Gene Park and Angela Keen

Gene Park and Angela Keen

Huy Vo and Kyle

Huy Vo and Kyle

Taizo Braden and me

Taizo Braden and me

Jason Gengabus and me

Jason Gengabus and me

Andy South and me

Andy South and me

Maleko and me

Maleko and me

Senior prom pose. Working it, girl.

Senior prom pose. Working it, girl.

http://www.honolulupulse.com/bars-clubs/pics-scenes-from-the-honolulu-pulse-launch-party?pid=3149

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Posted in Career | 2 Comments »

Third time a charm for Australian marathon swimmer?

By
November 12th, 2010



Australian marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey isn't going to let stinging sea creatures float between her and history. Although she did not complete her second attempt to swim from Oahu to Kauai, she hasn't ruled out a third try.

Palfrey displays her stings

Palfrey displays her stings

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It's a feat no other swimmer has ever achieved. It was tried by one other person, in the 1970s; also to no success. Palfrey's previous effort was in March of this year, and also met the same conclusion: it was prematurely ended by a swarm of Portuguese man of war. (Full disclosure: Waikiki Parc Hotel sponsored her accommodations, and the corporation I work for owns that property.)

Penny Palfrey right before her second attempt - Nov 9, 2010

Penny Palfrey right before her second attempt - Nov 9, 2010

"It was like being in jellyfish soup," recalled Palfrey at a press conference in Waikiki, upon her return from Kauai. She had actually endured the pain for seven and a half hours before giving up. One hour into her swim, she got her first sting. She kept swimming. Another hour into it, another sting. She kept going until she hit a colony of the stinging bluebottles, and her body started convulsing in pain.

Her team, headed by her swim advisor Steve Munatones, pulled her into the safety boat and helped her remove the venom-filled nematocysts. She has no idea how many stings she received. "I lost count after a while," she says. Her entire body - including face and ears - are covered with the whip-like red welts.

Palfrey and Munatones at press conference

Palfrey and Munatones at press conference

Palfrey began her journey on November 9 from the north shore of Oahu. She jumped into a safety boat manned by 3 lifeguards, the captain, and Munatones. The boat motored to Kaena Point, found a relatively calm spot on the rough and rocky shore, and dropped her in the water.There, she swam to shore, touched the rock to officiate her start from land, and swam towards Kauai - a 72 mile channel crossing. She stopped only to eat while treading water. She was going to swim for 30 to 40 hours straight, through day and night.

Palfrey's team

Palfrey's team

Penny's safety boat

Palfrey's safety boat

Kaena Point is the western-most point of Oahu, therefore, closest to Kauai. It would be too hard for her to walk to Kaena Point because the last three miles are closed to cars, so she would have had to walk in. Also, the rocky outcroppings and powerful surf make it too dangerous to jump in.

She began her swim at 10:52 a.m. and ended it at around 7:30 p.m., some eight-and-a-half hours later. What's more painful - the stings or the defeat? "It's two different kinds of pain," she reflected.

Palfrey chose not to wear a wetsuit because in marathon swimming, it's considered cheating. "Wetsuits aid in buoyancy and warmth," she explained.

Palfrey's press conference

Palfrey's press conference

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Will she give it another go? "When I first got out of the water, no. When I arrived in Kauai, no. But maybe. I don't know," she told reporters from three Hawaii TV stations, one Hawaii newspaper, and an national sports network reporter listening in via phone from New York. "Though, I will be back in March 2011 to swim the Kaiwi Channel." She is now looking for a marine biology expert to advise her on how to avoid the swarms of Man o' War.

The pain was still fresh when she had her press conference; not even 24 hours after her failed attempt. This writer has a feeling that tough-as-nails Palfrey will try again, and has faith she can do it!

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Posted in Career | 3 Comments »

Hawaii Five-0 cameo

By
November 10th, 2010



Hawaii Five-0 is such an iconic series, still so loved in the hearts and minds of many, 30 years after its last show. It's so incredible that any show would have that kind of lasting impression. I remember watching it when I was a child, and feeling connected to it more because it was shot in my home state of Hawaii.

It was also a time when there were so few actors (or even newscasters) of color on national television, so I remember a feeling of pride that Kam Fong, Zulu, Al Harrington, and all the other ethnic actors were out there representin'.

Forward to 2009, and as a resident of the state, I was excited to hear CBS was reviving the show. I don't have acting aspirations, but when I was recently offered a cameo as a television news reporter in episode nine, I certainly jumped at the chance. Who wouldn't want to be associated with Hawaii 5-0, whether it be the original or the 2.0 version?

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I'm playing reporter Meredith Michaels of Channel 9 News. The mic flag, the fake Beta cam, and the news car have the CBS logo and the call letters of the local CBS affiliate, KGMB. Yes, the irony is not lost on me that I'm portraying a newscaster from a station that I would have been working at, had I been retained in the merger of my station (NBC) with the CBS station, and that the shoot takes place near the one year anniversary of my layoff. Just a funny little coincidence, though. It does not make me feel sad or anything.

Me and my photographer for the day (he doesn't really work news)

Me and my photographer for the day (he doesn't really work news)

I'm so lucky I have a nice boss who approved my dabbling in the TV industry again. On the day of shooting, I had to be there at 5:30 a.m. They call the old Honolulu Advertiser building "base camp," so that's where I reported to. I was shown to my own trailer! I was offered a hot breakfast and taken into makeup, where the main actors walked in to also be prepared.

My trailer

My trailer

The trailers

The trailers

Alex O'Loughlin walked in shortly after me, and he's every bit as hunky as all the gossip columns say. He is tall and extremely friendly. He introduced himself to me when he passed my chair- so down-to-earth! He doesn't need makeup, in my opinion!

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I was sitting facing the mirror getting makeup and hair done so I couldn't turn my head around much, but I then heard clacking of nails and panting. Could it really be... a dog?? It was! It was Scott Caan's Australian blue heeler, Dot! She is a sweet dog. His chair even says "Scott n' Dot." He was also super nice, shook my hand, and joked around with the rest of the staffers. I only work with these two actors, so I never met or saw Daniel Dae Kim or Grace Park.

My scene's at the top of parking garage

My scene's at the top of parking garage

We caught a shuttle to the location of the day, Hawaii Medical Center in Liliha. I rush up to the two police officers to try to get a scoop, and I end up revealing some critical information. The scene was shot ten different ways.

It is nothing like television news; it's precise, marks must be hit, timing must be correct, the script must be memorized word for word, and all of it has to be done around the weather and the environment. We stopped briefly for an airplane passing; we shot a scene again because the sun was changing position in the sky and hitting a nearby car window, thus reflecting light off the actor's face; and we re-shot what would have been a perfect scene because the audio guy realized he could hear the construction workers on the roof who were watching us and talking. I'm amazed at how the director keeps track of all this information.

News was never like this. In news, the things that matter are hitting your key talking points and if you're walking, then hitting your approximate mark by the end of your speech. The words that you use to connect those ideas are less critical, and sometimes, depending on the camera framing, your feet can be within a couple inches of the mark.

I have six lines, and I memorized those lines like my life depended on it. It is my paranoia that I'll be the one to hold up the crew and get the dirty looks, so I made sure to have it down cold. It all went well.

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I have no frame of reference, but others on set told me this director is very efficient, and was moving things along pretty quickly. I had a very enjoyable time, and was lucky enough to get Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan to take a picture with me. The crew all say they're really, really nice guys, and that not every actor is as friendly and accessible as these two are.

Scott Caan, me, Alex O'Loughlin

Scott Caan, me, Alex O'Loughlin

I'm told the air date for Episode 9 is November 22. So - that's a wrap! I enjoy that I can now honestly joke: "I'm not a reporter, I just play one on TV."

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

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