Of course, the big name was Joan Rivers. I saw her guest hosting on The Tonight Show in the early 1980’s on a trip to L.A. with a friend. For a good look at her life and career, I recommend the documentary, Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, which also has segments on Fanny Brice, Molly Picon, Sophie Tucker, Gilda Radner, and Wendy Wasserstein.
Tunnel Book Workshop: I did a weekend workshop at The Art League and produced my first tunnel book. Most of Saturday was making the cover and general planning for the interior, while Sunday involved putting the interior together. The overall concept is sort of like a pop-up book and sort of like a diorama. I went with a futuristic, space travel theme. Mostly because I am me. It was a fun class, though I was a little irritated with the instructor’s political commentary while we worked on things we didn’t need her help with. One of the reasons I do stuff like this is for the opportunity to actually finish something, so the overall experience was satisfying. I still need to take photographs, but that means clearing out some of the space in my house with better lighting, so it is not happening soon. I should also mention that I have ideas for at least two more tunnel books – one involving baseball and one involving shoes.
The Big Maze: I went with a couple of friends to the National Building Museum to do The Big Maze, which was this year’s summer installation there. It was pretty cool, though not as cool as last year’s miniature golf. We solved it reasonably quickly and went through a second time, before going up to the second floor to photograph it from above. Afterwards, we looked at a few exhibits and had dinner at the Hill Country Barbecue pop-up outside the museum. Overall, that made for a pretty entertaining evening.
By the way, one of my friends drove. And we discovered that the area near the museum has the most confusing parking meter signs on the planet. Let’s just say there was a lot of ambiguity about whether you had to pay after 6:30 p.m.
Rolling Down to Old Maui: Then I flew to Maui for a few days. This was a good use of a United RPU (a type of upgrade certificate). The second leg, from SFO to OGG, got delayed a couple of hours for a mechanical issue. It’s annoying, but I do want them to have a fully functioning navigation system, especially when flying over the ocean. The other annoyance was that google maps had omitted a critical step in the directions to my hotel, but I figured things out.
My primary sightseeing goal was Haleakala National Park. The drive to the summit was slow and twisty, but interesting. (I did not attempt to do it for sunrise.) I was feeling the altitude a bit, so I did just a couple of short hikes, including part of the Shifting Sands Trail. The actual summit had an interesting view of the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, too. There was another lookout point with a lot of amazing silversword plants. I am a big fan of the national parks and this was a good example of why.
My other sightseeing mostly involved wandering around Lahaina. You can buy a brochure that details a walking tour, with various historic plaques along the way. The Baldwin House Museum was not particularly interesting, but the Wo Hing Temple was more interesting. The Lahaina Heritage Museum was the highlight of the actual sites, with a lot of information on local history. Lahaina is portrayed as a whaler’s port, but the whaling industry lasted only about 40 years there. It’s still a pretty cool town.
By the way, there are two gelato places in Lahaina. The lilikoi (passion fruit) gelato I had at Ono Gelato was better than the coconut gelato at Hawaii Gelato. Neither was particularly outstanding.
Overall, it was a pretty relaxing long weekend. There was even an internationally configured 757 on the way back, with lie flat seats. Unfortunately, that was a late afternoon leg and the red-eye from LAX home was a crappy domestic plane. The really annoying part of that, though, was the 2 guys in the row in front of me, who spent the whole night whining loudly about the lack of entertainment on the plane and what were they going to do for all those hours and why had they paid $21,000 for this trip to have this one leg in a plane like this and so on.
The Happiest Place on Earth: I got back on Tuesday morning and left on Wednesday for a business trip to Orange County. The trip wasn’t too bad, overall, but I learned that IAH apparently no longer has any sort of wifi (i.e. not even pay wifi). And Avis gave me a Chevy Captiva, which is a full-size SUV, and, hence, a pain to park. It was also really difficult for me to reach the ticket thingie on the hotel parking lot because I was about a full arm length above it.
My Birthday: The meeting I’d traveled for was on my birthday. So the company bought me birthday dinner (at a Mexican restaurant near Disneyland). When I came back to the hotel, Marriott had left me a small bottle of champagne and two chocolate covered strawberries! Loyalty does have its rewards.
Rose Valley House Concert: I came home on Friday and then drove up to Philadelphia on Saturday to go to a storytelling house concert at the home of Megan Hicks and Jack Abgott. They were, as always, gracious hosts. The two tellers were Granny Sue, who I’d met before, and Tommy Pryor, who I hadn’t. Granny Sue sang a couple of ballads and told a mix of stories – an excellent variant on "The Walking Catfish," a ghost story, and "Rindercella." Tommy read a couple of pieces from his book, I Hate the Dallas Cowboys and told a ghost story. Overall, It was a lovely evening and I’m glad to hear they are planning more house concerts.
LimmudFest Baltimore: I stayed up in the Philly area Saturday night and drove down to Baltimore on Sunday, for LimmudFest, a Jewish learning event. I had the usual dilemma of wanting to be in multiple places at once. The best sessions I went to were one on genealogy and one on Jewish-themed Broadway musicals of the 1960’s. For example, I had completely forgotten about the existence of The Zulu and the Zayda and I’d certainly never heard any of the music from it. There was only one session I was very disappointed with, largely because the presenter didn’t stick to any given topic, much less the one the session was advertised as addressing.
Whew! No wonder I haven’t had time to write anything for the past couple of weeks.