Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Date Nights—Part III

     For Valentine's Day, Deanne and I watched The Flying Dutchman at the Neal Blaisdel Concert Hall performed with musicians from the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and dozens of opera singers. I bought tickets by phone through Hawaii Opera Theater for pickup before the show at the will-call booth, thereby optimizing affordability, seat location, and purchasing convenience, for when I called the Blaisdel Ticket Office, $30 bargain seats were sold out (plus tickets had to be purchased in advance in person) and Ticket Master's processing fees were exorbitant.
     It was our first classic opera and here are my impressions: Fantastic music—can't beat Wagner for conjuring images of stormy seas through sound; lighting and staging added to the foreboding mood; the soprano and the humorous night watchman sang with penetrating gusto—very impressive; acting was OK, nothing spectacular (I saw Pavoratti on TV once in a classic opera and his acting stank—I guess for him it's all about the voice); and the engaging story kept me guessing to the end (my guesses were way off).
     Afterward we went for a quick bite at Ward Warehouse where the only kiosk open that Sunday evening was Mr. Eggroll. Its Chinese food was excellent for the price and super convenience (it was getting late), and the proprietress was friendly and generous, giving sample dishes to try and even an extra sample with our meals. 
     On another evening following an exhausting weekend in which we wanted to escape house and kids, we went for a low stress, low hassle dinner at Lee Ho Fook Restaurant, a favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese Cultural Plaza restaurant facing the canal. The six table Hong Kong style mom-n-pop shop serves yummy noodles and soup, has not changed its prices in years, gives generous portions, doesn't add MSG (that makes my hands feel weak and gets me thirsty), and allows the flavors of natural ingredients to come through without overpowering seasonings. Its offerings beat those of numerous fancier restaurants that charge twice or thrice the price, and its casual, relaxed, come-as-you-are atmosphere reminds me of my youth with its Formica top tables, vinyl padded steel leg chairs, and linoleum floors. We slurped up seafood won tons with chilli oil and dug into our egg foo young (a Hawaii classic) and three meat cake noodle with hearty relish, then walked along Chinatown's main thoroughfare past Mauna Kea Marketplace to window shop and burn off calories.  
     Then on Thursday's Kuhio Day state holiday we went to one of Art and Flea's monthly events at an industrial warehouse behind Marukai across Ward Warehouse partly converted into unfinished shabby/chic display areas where sixty tiny start-up vendors peddled their art, jewelry, hand made instruments and toys, used albums, baked goods, snacks, thrift clothes, and other offerings while a DJ spun vinyl disks pumping out young dance music (house, techno, trance—I don't know what). The vendors answered all my questions such as, “Where did you get this from?” “Are you the artist?” “Did you use a long or short lens on this photo?” with enthusiasm and friendly engagement. There was a demonstration outside featuring a very lively and synchronized dance team bedecked in uniform tights, t-shirts, and sneakers, with moves like robot from the '70s and hiphop from the '90s. 
     The crowd was predominantly twenty-something petite female beauties, some hand in hand with a complaint significant other. Entrance fee was $3 each, which was okay for a once-in-awhile thing, and I ended up purchasing a framed original hand drawn acrylic doodles on original photo for $35 that now adorns our dining room wall. When I first saw it, I wasn't sure how it'd been done, the doodles were so whimsically convincing that it made the wave photo beneath seem painted, and I'd never seen a piece quite like it before. The artist with purple dyed hair and large arm tattoo had a lot of different styled work with no set one-trick-pony pattern or theme, so understanding her individual works was a bit more challenging, which I think is great as I love variety partly because it gives me a better sense of who the artist is and how she thinks, which factors into purchase decisions.
     One of the most gratifying parts of the event was its welcoming air—I didn't feel at all intimidated, awkward, or unwanted, or that a pickpocket might target me, or that a seamy underbelly lay hidden, so that later at home I told Deanne that my sense of the youth there was one of innocence, which was hopeful. 
     I pray my sense was accurate and representative and that it bodes well for my kids' futures. I remember my youth when drug abuse (mostly alcohol and marijuana), posturing, and judgmental attitudes and behaviors were rampant among my classmates (and I, except for the drugs, which I didn't do) and how far from innocent we all were. Of course, I knew them and myself tons better than I do today's twenty-something youths, and who knows what I'd think if I knew them better? Probably depends on which “thems” I knew as everyone is different. Yet, in general, I think certain things may have changed for the better.

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