Archive for December, 2013

Modern Cowboys

December 31st, 2013

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Video link at


"Howdy, ma'am, I’m Homebrew,” smiles a genial looking white-haired gent.

“Good afternoon, I’m Whiskers,” nods another man who looks like he should be running moonshine in his off time.


They're just a few of a very colorful cast of characters that meet monthly at the Koko Head Firing Range in East Oahu. They could definitely be straight out of the Wild West - but they're actually modern day cowboys... and modern day American Indians.

As if on cue, a man with long braids greets me with, “My name is Silver Wolf. Aloha and how.”

They're all here to relive the glory of the American Frontier Days. Club president Branded Buck - also known as Phil Rapoza - explains. “We are called Single Action Shooters Hawaii. It is a local cowboy action shooting club that started in 1981.”


While there may have been no law on the original Western range, this club certainly has a code. Continues Branded Buck, “You pick guns designed pre-1899. You pick an alias according to how you feel.”


Above all, he says, they emphasize safety. New members take gun safety and training courses and register their firearms. Branded Buck explains, “What we want to promote is gun safety and have a fun venue for families to come out and shoot with us.”

About two dozen members meet monthly to shoot 'em up at Koko Head Firing Range.  Elaborates Branded Buck, “We’ll do civil war themes, things like that.”


Club member Ashes to Ashes, a young woman, says, “I like it because it’s different. In this, we get to do piston, shotgun, rifle- all in the same setting- and there’s the background story to each set up we do, which is really cool.”

For instance, the scenario on this day was based on the plot of the Warner Brothers movie Searchers, in which a Caucasian woman was stolen by Native Americans. The shooting range is divided into two parts - one half represents the shoot out when the woman was stolen. The other half of the range represents the fight to take back the woman. 

It also happens to be a milestone birthday for the club. Branded Buck says, “Today we celebrate the 106th birthday of John Wayne. He’s been my hero growing up. What we did was set up stages today in honor of the movie The Searchers that he starred in.”

Club member Ken Ito, also the State House Representative (D) for District 49, joined a few years ago. “After I saw what’s going on, I said, 'I’d like to try it.' I’ve been here for three or four years. I enjoy being among these type of people.”

Ashes to Ashes says, "It just makes it more challenging, a little bit more of a sport, more fun.”


She's referring to the metal targets shaped like western images - whiskey bottles, vultures, bison. They're not the usual bullseye target practice. The person who can hit all the targets the fastest will win bragging rights.

"Standby!" booms club member Eric Ako's voice as he prepares to time another competitor's round.

Why do they do this? Branded Buck speaks for the club when he says, “When they used to watch books or see silver screen movies about the Wild West and how exciting it was, the romance of it all - people want to relive it.”

It's like staging their own little Western drama every once in a while! Reporting from East Honolulu with videojournalist Triggerfinger Tracy, I'm Deadline Di.


For more information on the club and how to join, go to

*Post script: the video accompanying this blog won first place in the Society of Professional Journalists - Hawaii Chapter "Excellence in Journalism" for Best Videography. Awesome work, photographer/ editor Tracy Arakaki!

Ocho's Imperial Empire

December 30th, 2013

I would venture to guess that in many cat-dog households, the cat often ends up as the boss. How is it that someone so little holds the power over someone usually bigger?

In our case, Ocho the cat is seven pounds. Inca the labrador is 70 pounds. Ocho is two years older than Inca, so I suppose she gets to lord her senior status over the dog.

Yet, the cat is totally, uneqivocally the boss. Sure, Inca gets rowdy and playful and a little unintentionally forceful with the cat, but one swat from Ocho and Inca backs off.

Ocho was a housecat but likes to run away now and again to get her adventure fix. I recently got tired of it and decided she can be an outside cat. I actually feel like she lives a more exciting life outside, getting more exercise and being in nature.

Lately, there's been a few stray cats making their way into the neighborhood. The first few nights I heard Ocho fighting with them - hissing, yowling, growling right outside the window. I would send Inca out to break it up, knowing that the other cat will be scared off.

Inca, the heavy.

The Pet Porter crate: now declared a feline protectorate.

The Pet Porter crate: now declared a feline protectorate.

Then, Ocho figured out to use the dog like protection. She started sleeping in the dog's crate.

Now, the dog is not allowed in her own crate. I've seen Inca stand outside it with head cocked, looking at the cat inside.

Colonial subject and citizen of newly acquired Ocholand

Colonial subject and citizen of newly acquired Ocholand

Cats. They crack me up. They're like Imperial Britain. They just take what they want.

So one of those two animals is finally getting a good night's sleep. Which one is it?

Do you have a pet story?

Posted in pets | 3 Comments »

House proud

December 27th, 2013

A friend needed help moving and cleaning her condo. My family went over one morning to help.

Olivia and I were assigned to the lanai, which was extremely dusty and full of old-rug debris. We each took a broom and dustpan and started sweeping.

"Do I have to do this really good?" she asked.

"Yes, you do," I said.

"How good? Is this good enough?" she continued, indicating a half-swept pile of dirt.

"Honey, no. You have to get it all in the dustpan. Has to be really clean," I explained.

"But why?" Olivia pressed.

Getting the faintest bit exasperated, I looked at her and said, "If this were your room, how would you want to treat it? Wouldn't you want to do a good job so it's all clean?"

"No. I would do it half good and then go out and play and let the wind blow the rest away," Olivia told me.

Why do I ask? Really?

Frozen, the movie

December 25th, 2013

My company does this awesome thing every year in which it hosts a Christmas party just for the employees' children. When I first started, we rented out the entire Ice Palace for the evening.

For the last two years, we rented out a theater and gave movie tickets, snacks, and goodie bags to the kids. We get to see a new kids' movie before it opens to the public. It's such a good company, but that's besides the point here.

This year, the movie was Frozen. A fearful queen with powers to create ice has created an eternal winter in her town. Her sister needs to help the queen melt the snow and control her powers; as with most of these movies, the message is: love conquers all.

We were allowed to bring a friend, so we invited long-time friend Amanda. Note: age six is a great time to see movies. They are finally quiet for the entire 90 minutes, and have the patience to pay attention for the whole time, too.

We really liked it. After the show, I started a conversation with them about it. "What was the movie trying to teach us?" I asked.

"I didn't think it was trying to teach us anything," said Olivia.

"If you're afraid you might be alone?" guessed Amanda.

"Yes," I coached. "Then how did the princess help the queen melt the snow?" I continued.

"She hugged her," said one kid.

"She loved her," said the other kid.

"Good girls!" I exclaimed. "So do you think the lesson is that love conquers all?" I summarized.

"Yes! Love makes you fly!" answered Olivia.

"Yes! Love lets you do magic!" added Amanda.

Why... yes it does! It does all that and more, I thought, as I looked around the table at the people I love.

May your Christmas be full of the magical powers of love.

Parking fun!

December 23rd, 2013

Have you been to the mall in December? The parking lot is a zoo, right?

I had a few final gifts to buy, so I asked Claus if he'd drive me on Saturday and wait in the car while I ran in. You'd have thought I just asked him to walk barefoot to work in the rain naked, while piggybacking me.

"Why can't I come in?" he said.

"Parking is horrible," I repeated.

"What am I going to do in the car while you go in?" he persisted.

"Look at your iPhone. Read a magazine. Really? You can't just do this for me? You know I'm a fast shopper?" I bargained.

"But? The parking lot?" he whined.

I pointed out that I have never, ever asked him to do this in the 12 years we've been married and the one year we dated before that. Thirteen years of being with him and I have never before asked him to be my mall chauffeur.

After some grumbling, he finally relented, but not without lingering snide remarks (that continue to this day!) (EG: Upon arrival at grocery store, restaurant, or any place with parking lot: "Oh, should I wait in the car? Is that more fun?")

Snarky shopping list: "Mall- fun parking"

Snarky shopping list: "Mall- fun parking"

Saturday came, and as we drove in, he said, "I'm going to look for parking, and if I don't find anything, then you can go in."

I was so, so certain he would circle around in vain. Wouldn't you know it, he found a space within the first minute.

Open space, no waiting for the other car to leave. So smooth, like a hot knife through butter.

Would you like creme and sugar with that cup of condescension? You can imagine the look of disdain he gave me for even thinking to ask him to wait in the vehicle.

As we walked towards the shops, he saw another parked car with a man inside. "Oh, look. I'm sure his wife's in the mall somewhere."

So we zip through the gift list, as I promised I would. Last stop: I wanted to buy lipstick for myself.

We walk into the makeup shop and naturally, Olivia and I get really excited by all the colors and glitter. This is going to be our mother-daughter bonding activity, I'm sure, because we get so thrilled about looking at all the products and trying them on.

Claus is standing on the side trying not to get in females' way. "I'm glad you found a parking stall so easily," I smiled. "You're so helpful in holding my bags."

He looked worse for the wear. Tired. Irritated that he was standing around in a makeup shop being ground down by all the estrogen in the air.

My friend James just happened to send me some photos of his daughter falling asleep while the adults were shopping. I think this perfectly illustrates what went on in Claus' head:

The slow fade

scullary 2

scullary 3

"I'm starting to rethink that parking stall offer," he said. "I might just go wait in the car."

See? Should have just listened to me in the first place!

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