IMR: 1999: August: 17 —  Tuesday, 9:53 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

After a spontaneous trip to Diamond Head Video to search for "Kurt and Courtney" — the infamous biography of the Cobains — proved fruitless, Jen and I rented "Shakespeare in Love" last night.

I was surprised at how much I liked it. I'm a hardcore cynic by nature, and after being subjected to "Forrest Gump" I am now especially predisposed against anything so widely praised. But it was thoroughly entertaining, with just the right dose of romance and hearty, semi-smart comedy.

Jen and I also agreed, however, that as much as Judi Dench rocked as Queen Elizabeth, that Oscar really should have gone to Kathy Bates for her portrayal of Libby Holden in "Primary Colors."

We've really got to get back into movies. Actually going out to catch a flick will be rare for the next 12 years, of course, but videos are just fine. And hell, with "The Matrix" coming out later this month, it might be high time for another DVD purchase.

At work, we're wrapping up the arrangements for the APEC meeting in New Zealand next month. Most of it's travel-related — "3 a.m. departure? Is that with a stopover in Australia or Tonga?" — but this morning I had to sprint up the street to have my photo taken for my official badge.

Honestly, the forms you have to fill out just to be in the same crowded ballroom as a couple of presidents are complex enough to puree your brain.

[ Passport & Plate Lunch ]I went to the same curious hole in the wall on Fort Street where I went earlier this year to get my passport photo. I can only presume that "Passport Photo and Plate Lunch" is the official name of the establishment, where Kaczynski-esque mug shots appear side by side with faded pictures of beef stew and shrimp tempura.

The place hadn't opened yet, so I loitered alternately in the neighboring newsstand and out on the Mall, where I was treated to an improvisational banjo performance.

I felt painfully conspicuous standing about in a shockingly white collared shirt while the Fort Street crowd milled about, feeding pigeons and nabbing soda cans from the trash bins. But while the lily-livered yuppie part of me was ill at ease, I also found some odd comfort in quietly observing the throngs of old Filipino men gathered around every available park bench, intensely discussing the business of the day.

The Old Filipino Men. Of course they're not all old, and probably not all Filipino. But my mother refers to them affectionately as a living fixture of downtown Honolulu.

From Hotel Street to "Historic Chinatown," every nook and cranny seems to have undergone serious "urban renewal" (the politician's way of saying "cleaning up the the riff-raff"). Sometimes more than once. But while the nudie bars and illegal gambling parlors have become scarse, The Old Filipino Men remain.

The capital of their nation is the corner of Hotel and Fort Street. Sometimes the sidewalk would get so thick with them, gabbing and cackling, you'd have to walk on the street.

And I don't know how many times the city and the businesses around there reconfigured the whole place, tearing down and moving the benches, the planters, the sickly little trees, seemingly in the hopes that The Old Filipino Men would move on. But instead the constant, pointless construction seemed mearly to go on around them, and meanwhile they kept telling their stories.

Donica called me at work today (she and Jen are probably the only people who actually use my cel phone number). Great news — it's time for another of our famous Sporadically and Unreliably Scheduled but Nonetheless Fun Gathering!

With Wayne back in town, and the now long-wedded Jennifer Dawn coming to visit in a couple of weeks, there were more than enough reasons to bring the gang together again. I'm thrilled because I haven't seen JD for years, before she could even comfortably pronounce the word "marriage," and I just have to see what this strange new domestic creature is like.

[ Freak! ]Oh, and by the way, here's how the picture turned out. I've definitely got that "serial killer chic" look goin' on.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 17 August 1999 · Last Modified: 18 August 1999