IMR: 1999: January: 09 — Saturday, 11:31 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawaii

Should really be in bed. I'm feeling whipped; my body aches, particularly my back and upper arms. It's not my cold though -- that I've pretty much beat. The pains are from spending all morning sweeping and mopping at the library and spending all afternoon trying to completely reorganize the fiction section. My brain is still trying to alphabetize everything I see, and I can still smell the unmistakable odor of damp, old paper.

I know I was trying to look on the bright side, seeing my work there as a chance to get some exercise, but I haven't had a chance to get into the swing of things. I had only started last month, and now thanks to a two-week holiday reprieve, it's back to square one.

The boss stopped in, and I was about to suggest, perhaps, that my skills might be better utilized behind a keyboard than a mop, but I lost my nerve. Beggars can't be choosers and all that.

Still, the only reason I picked the Makiki Library over the main State Library—where my computer skills would have been at least partially utilized—was because they had plans to computerize and frequently bemoaned not having anyone around who could get things set up. I figured I could also expand the placeholder website I designed for them.

But I guess they're happy with cards, pockets and rubber stamps for now. And since none of the other volunteers feel particularly compelled to clean, my job description was set by default.

They were quite happy to present me with a new featherduster this morning...

The day had its brighter moments, though. Like Jen bringing over lunch so we could eat under a tree in the park. Or coming across a couple of out-of-print Erica Jong compilations I thought impossible to find. Or eavesdropping on a handful of little boys who'd grabbed some women's magazines and retreated to a corner to enjoy them.

"Ooh la la!" one would exclaim. "Hot bikini! You want to marry her!"

"Shut up," came the whiny reply. "You're the one who wants to oof her!"

Oof. Now there's a verb I haven't heard in years.

They went at it for almost an hour. "Lookit this one! Her bra is all furry! Let me kiss her! She's got big boobs!" At one point another patron went over to shush them, but it didn't take long for them to get noisy again.

Eventually, a couple came in looking for the gang, and the kids all ran up, smiling and giggling. The pair beamed back, leading everyone out the door, no doubt immensely proud their kids enjoyed the library so much.

Tomorrow brings the regular drive up to visit mom and her washing machine. But in mid-visit, it'll be back into town for a couple of things.

One, picking up William at the airport.

Two, going to a voice audition.

Since I'd almost landed a part in that bank commercial last October, I guess I was still on file at the casting agency. And when a mainland client wanted a youngish male to do a voiceover for a soft drink commercial (albeit one that will only air in Hawaii), I was included in the tryout invitation.

I know I have less of a chance for this job than the bank one, though. Why? Because it calls for the ability to speak pidgin (specifically varying thicknesses of the dialect). And even though I was born and raised here and was educated entirely in the public school system, I never, ever managed to pick it up.

Of course, mom consistently threatening to pinch my cheek any time she heard pidgin creeping into my vocabulary probably had a lot to do with that.

I know how important it is to speak proper English, and honestly I am glad my parents raised me so well that I'm regularly insulted by the question, "Did you go to Punahou?" Still, I think being unable to speak pidgin is a disadvantage of sorts. How I managed to graduate from high school without being beaten is beyond me.

Heck, Nate—as I'm fond of pointing out—looks about as haole as you can get. Yet he can sound like a Waimanalo native if he wants to.

At least I can fake it a little now. Believe it or not, learning Hawaiian helped, because a lot of the syntax used in pidgin is based on the native language. (And because a lot of the instructors at UH are hardcore locals.)

We'll see how it goes. I've always been told I've got a radio voice (if not a slightly nasal one). Even if I can't do pidgin, I might make it into the 'generic voiceover' file.

So the big thing in the local broadcast scene is starting the 10 o'clock news at 10 o'clock.

I'm told, actually, that people on the mainland can't even fathom what the big deal is, as they've never had it any other way. But in Hawai`i, we've traditionally come to expect news broadcasts that begin at 10:05 p.m. at the earliest, and sometimes closer to 10:15 p.m. And no, that's not with a sports event or live program running late... that's on an average night of network programming.

It wouldn't be so bad if a given channel was consistently late, but they're always all over the place. All because, as we're told by "media analysts," local stations are unusually aggressive when it comes to inserting local advertising. If a CBS sitcom leaves room for two local ads and KGMB sold five spots, they just stop the tape during the rebroadcast and squeeze them in. (Most programs have to be taped, taken from live satellite feeds for the West Coast and shown at the "right" time in Hawaii.)

So KHON (FOX) and KITV (ABC) said they're going straight. I don't know which station promised it first, but KHON and Joe Moore were the first to put it in place. It was their New Year's resolution, to be "Hawaii's first on-time news station." Boasted Joe at 10:00 p.m. on Jan. 1, "You can now set your watch by our broadcasts."

But, in true Channel 2 style, the braggadocio didn't stop there.

Thursday night, after introducing the "on-time" news and reading the first two stories, Joe paused and looked at his watch. "It is now 10:05 p.m., and we welcome those of you now who were watching 'E.R.' [on NBC], which just ended."

Before I could roll my eyes, he continued: "If you want your programs to start and end on time, call the station and let them know you want your 10 o'clock news at ten."

Then I rolled my eyes. And after the commercial break, I practically freaked.

Joe again harped on the "E.R." thing, but this time the station put up the name and phone number of KHNL's general manager. "Call him, leave a voice mail, and tell him you demand to have your shows on time," Joe said, wearing a smirk so big it threatened to send his hairpiece across the studio.

Man, I love it when they get catty.

And I know the first time KHON is twenty seconds late, Dan Cooke will be ready with Joe's home number and address. "Call Joe, after midnight, all week even, and tell him to keep his damn promises!"

What really gets me about all this is that no station would dare be so overtly nasty if it wasn't for Joe. He's the closest thing to a media star we have in Hawaii, and with him in their aresenal, KHON kept their attutide even when the Big Switch came down and they became a franchise of "FOX News"—unquestionably the biggest oxymoron in media.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 09 January 1999 · Last Modified: 17 January 1999