Sharing Mana‘o

Having been involved in several Halloween-themed activities this month, I’ve come to realize that a lot of folks LOVE Halloween, for reasons as varied as the fanatics themselves.

Some people, often the quiet, reserved type, relish the opportunity to dabble in the dark side once a year; they’re the traditionalists, the ones who deck out their offices in cobwebs and become witches or vampires for the night. A truly dedicated few put a great deal of time and effort into building haunted houses for the neighborhood kids or for a charitable cause.

Other people obsess over creating clever, one-of-a-kind costumes; the best I’ve seen so far this year is a dress covered with those paint sample tiles from the hardware store to portray “50 Shades of Grey.” Still others delight in expressing their creativity through elaborately carved jack-o’-lanterns, something I’ve long admired but have yet to try.

And for some folks, it’s all about the treats. The kids aren’t the only ones who look forward to the abundance of sugar that late October brings. I know people who buy giant bags of candy corn and mini-chocolate bars with no intention of passing them out to trick-or-treaters. Not me, of course. Although I have, occasionally, consumed most of the candy before the big night and had to run to the store to restock.

Sadly, Halloween ain’t what it used to be, in terms of trick-or-treating. I feel sorry for today’s youth; not only has the door-to-door adventure been diminished by safety concerns, you can’t get the really good stuff anymore.

I remember coming home from a night of trick-or-treating with homemade treats like caramel apples and popcorn balls at the bottom of my bulging sack. My generation was the last to enjoy trick-or-treating without the fear of contamination or, worse, malicious tampering. We had kindly neighborhood aunties who offered cookies and hot cocoa if we needed a little rest on our rounds.

Because my father was a dentist, people often assumed that my consumption of sweets was limited. Little did they know, my dad allowed me to eat all the candy I wanted, as long as I brushed my teeth afterwards. He liked the sweet stuff as much as I did.

Daddy’s favorite candy bar was Big Hunk. He’d chill the bar, then whack it on the edge of his desk to crack the hardened nougat into pieces. I preferred Look, which was a smaller Big Hunk coated in chocolate, and I liked it soft and chewy, so I never put my Look in the fridge.

I suppose the way we eat our treats tells others a bit about our personalities. Like whether you eat your M&M’s one or two at a time or by the handful. Or segregate them by color and then consume them in a pattern. Does that make me OCD?

Actually, I only do that with Skittles and Smarties, because unlike M&M’s, the colors are flavored differently. So it’s really the most logical way to consume them. I like to alternate the flavors, trying not to eat two of the same in a row, and making sure I have one of each color at the end. I always save the lime-green one for last.

A few years ago, a friend shared his favorite candy indulgence with me, and it’s become a favorite of mine as well. Mixing plain M&M’s with Smarties. Equal parts, of course. Steve liked eating four or five at a time, randomly grouped. I prefer them in pairs, one M&M and one Smartie. Well, actually, I pop the Smartie in my mouth first, crunch it once or twice, then add the M&M. No, I don’t match them up by color.

But if the trick-or-treat traffic is light tomorrow night, and I find myself with a lot of time and leftover candy on my hands, I just might start a new habit.

Whether your passion is for tricks or treats, I hope you enjoy a safe and satisfying Halloween. Happy haunting!

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

I have been taken by wonder. The current exhibition at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer International Gallery is indeed wondrous. Artist-in-residence Wes Bruce has built a full-size fort inside the 4,000-square-foot gallery, using materials collected locally. “Taken By Wonder” is more than an exhibition; it’s an experience. An interactive, inspirational journey of imagination. At once, it is stimulating and soothing, playful and pensive. And a little spooky.

I’d heard and read bits and pieces about the giant installation at the MACC and the young man who had spent the summer immersing himself in the wonders of Maui, gathering the components of his construction while also working as a teaching artist. My curiosity was piqued by what sounded like a really cool exhibition for kids, and I made a mental note to pop by for a quick look. Then I forgot all about it.

Last Sunday, after nearly a week of being sick in bed, my back was aching and the rest of me was itching to get out of the house and DO something . . . but not too strenuous, because I still carried remnants of this nasty respiratory bug. I decided to go for a walk, but on my way to Keopuolani Park, I saw the MACC roadside marquee for “Taken By Wonder,” and curiosity got the better of me. It may not qualify as exercise, but strolling through an art exhibit is better than lying in bed, I thought.

Good thing I kept my running shoes on. I ended up climbing ropes and navigating narrow wooden steps to second-floor turrets. I crawled through not-so-secret passageways and crouched in darkened nooks and crannies. Built with used lumber and furnished with a mind-boggling assortment of found and donated items, the fort fulfilled my childhood fantasies and flooded my mind with memories.

The black-and-white snapshots on the walls looked like the photos tucked away in my grandfather’s steamer trunk; the plantation-era tools and household items reminded me of my grandmother’s house on Chickenet Farm Road in Haiku. Bottles and bones, books and toys, leather scraps and weather maps, odds and ends of every sort, all gathered here on Maui and now fitting perfectly into place in this wonderful space, purportedly a dwelling structure built – and left – by a little-known contemporary society.

Wes Bruce’s artist statement tells of a truth-seeking, worship-filled culture that loved others and loved the earth; grateful, resourceful, passionate people. They used their imaginations and strived to grow smaller, rather than expand. Their origins and their fate are a mystery, but they did leave numerous messages like “Listen” and “Stay Curious,” written in a series of pictograms.

That was my favorite part, wandering and wondering through the maze of tiny rooms to locate and decode the writings on the walls. Don’t worry, the MACC docents will gladly give you a key to the code and loan you a flashlight. Trust me, you’ll need that flashlight to find all of the scrawled statements.

You’ll also need a fair amount of time to fully enjoy and appreciate the installation. I spent over an hour there and I’m going back for more. And I haven’t even mentioned the hands-on creativity corner or the display of thought-provoking collages.

“Taken By Wonder” may be visited through Nov. 2, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. After that, Nov. 4 through 7, during the public deinstallation, you can select a piece of the exhibit to take home and repurpose. You can also go online and visit to learn more about Wes Bruce and his art. His blog features delightful photographic and poetic observations of Maui, and you can follow him on Instagram.

After checking out his website, I looked up “wonder” at The first two definitions are:

1. To think or speculate curiously.

2. To be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe.

I have been taken by wonder. And by the art and whimsy of Wes Bruce. I hope to meet him at the deinstallation. I want to thank him for the awesome reminder to stay curious.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

I’m getting fed up with spam. No, not SPAM, the local dietary staple. I could never get enough of SPAM, glorious SPAM. I’m talking about lower-case spam, the unappetizing, unsolicited emails that bombard my Blackberry daily.

In the first place, it’s a sacrilege to use the name of our unofficial state dish to describe the online equivalent of junk mail. SPAM is not junk food; it’s comfort food. I eat it at least once a week and my alter ego, Tita, works it into nearly every performance. Here’s a little tribute she wrote for a Dr. Seuss read-aloud session. With apologies to the good doctor.

I no like green eggs an’ ham.

Da only meat

I eat


Fried or baked

Or even milk shaked,

An’ sometimes straight outta da can.

OK, so I’ve never actually tried a SPAM shake. But as a judge in a couple of SPAM recipe contests, I’ve tasted a wide variety of SPAM concoctions, from tacos to wontons. My late husband once made SPAM Wellington in a toaster oven, baking the pink loaf in a pastry shell and serving it with a cream sauce, in an effort to create a SPAM dish that he could stomach. I thought it was pretty good, but he never made it again. Come to think of it, that was the last time he cooked – or ate – SPAM.

Mystery meat, he called it. He said SPAM stood for Spiced Pressed Amalgamated Meat. I always thought it was short for “shoulder of pork and ham,” which are the main ingredients. But according to the official website, the true meaning of the name is known only to a few retired Hormel Foods executives, presumably the ones who were in charge when the product was introduced in 1937.

The naming of spam is less of a puzzlement. Internet sources attribute the origin to a Monty Python comedy sketch in which the word SPAM is repeated over and over, sung by a chorus of Vikings to the annoyance of all. Repetition and annoyance are the key words here.

I’m generally an even-tempered sort, with a high threshold of tolerance for nonsense. I used to find spam only mildly annoying, and sometimes rather amusing. It was easy to laugh at all those Nigerian princes and lonely Russian maidens and purveyors of male-enhancement products, who obviously had me confused with someone else. I have no money to invest, nor maleness to enhance.

But now that the spammers have better targeting tools, it’s not so easy to laugh off their marketing efforts as misguided random e-blasts. It’s the profiling that bothers me. After my 55th birthday, I began receiving sales pitches for wrinkle removers and arthritis cures. Carnival Cruises and Victoria’s Secret no longer write to me; my new Internet pals offer me life insurance and sensible footwear. The ones that really bug me are the come-ons from online matchmaking services like Forty Plus Singles and eHarmony 50+.

I know I’m just one of millions, an insignificant dot in some giant database; the spammers know me as a statistic, nothing more. Nobody’s peeking into my windows or going through my trash. Yet my knee-jerk reaction is to take their suggestions personally. My inner tita snarls at the cluttered inbox, “So what you trying fo’ say? You callin’ me one wrinkled-up ol’ maid?”

It’s totally irrational, but sometimes I wonder if the spammers really are stalking me. They seem to know when I’m having a bad hair day and when my self-esteem is faltering. I swear, the spam is heaviest when I’m feeling most vulnerable. Who told them I haven’t had an actual date in over a year? And why would they think I need help finding one?

On the other hand, Irina and her comrades are still writing to me, hoping to construct family with man such fine as I. Maybe, if I forward my invitations to her, they’ll both leave me alone.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

Whew! The 91st Maui Fair is now history. The dust has settled, and I’ve survived another year of food booth duty. Mahalo to those of you who stopped by the Mana’o Radio BBQ pork booth to support our station or just to say hello; you made the hours fly by. My fellow volunteers all agreed that the best part of working in the booth (besides having all the pulled pork sandwiches we could eat) was seeing so many old friends and making as many new ones.

With each year that passes, old friends mean more to me. And the sentimental fool in me speaks more loudly and wields greater influence. For example, even though it means a longer, more strenuous walk from the fairgrounds to my car, I choose to park at Baldwin High School so that my daily $5 parking fee goes to support my alma mater’s athletic department. A few years ago, I’d leave my house an hour early, to find prime parking and avoid that darned hill between the school and the gym. This year, I actually enjoyed the nightly uphill march.

Trudging up the steep incline with my backpack slung over my shoulder, I thought about the hundreds of trips made between the locker rooms behind War Memorial Gym and the upper campus. As freshmen, we hated the hike to class after PE, but we practically flew down and back up the hill when making our unauthorized visits to the vending machines in the gym.

One night during fair weekend, I tried to recall each of the teachers who occupied the classrooms I passed on the way to the parking lot. Mrs. Tanabe (Spanish I), Mr. Valdes (Spanish II); above them, in the math wing, Mrs. Oura (Algebra I), Mrs. Ching (Geometry), Mrs. Shishido (Algebra II). If it hadn’t been so dark, I would have extended the memory game and strolled the entire campus.

Fortunately, Baldwin alumni will have an opportunity to take such a sentimental journey next week, as part of the school’s 75th anniversary festivities. The BHS tour and talk story session is scheduled for Oct. 18. Besides taking in the changes to the campus, the flyer promises BHS trivia and reminiscences over a school lunch. The cost for the tour is $10, a bit more than the 75 cents we used to pay for lunch. Or, I should say, the 75 cents we would have paid, had we not snuck off campus to Dairy Queen for a real hamburger instead of the supposedly healthier A-burgers served in the cafeteria. We used to speculate that the “A” stood for Awful. Or some other unappetizing A-word.

The tour is just the beginning of the celebration. The BHS golf tournament will be held at The Dunes at Maui Lani on the next day, Oct. 19. I hear the prizes include a Honda Fit car and a trip to Las Vegas. The registration deadline is tomorrow, by the way, so golfers who haven’t signed up yet should call Desiree at 344-8223 or visit the official anniversary website:

The 75th anniversary banquet will take place that evening at the King Kamehameha Golf Club, with entertainment by Asian Blend and the presentation of the first inductees to the BHS Hall of Fame: legendary Hawaiian sumotori Jesse Kuhaulua, who wrestled as Takamiyama; Jeannette Alo Barrows, who wrote the words to Baldwin’s fight song, “Come Rally,” part of the “Our Director” march; the late state House Rep. Robert Nakasone; local baseball icon and retired BHS faculty member Glenn Oura; Major Leaguer Kurt Suzuki. And the woman who put the greasepaint in my blood and continues to inspire me daily, Drama Queen Sue Ann Loudon.

Sadly, I won’t be there to see my mentor honored, as I’ll be performing on Oahu that evening. But Miss Loudon will understand; the show must go on, as she instilled in hundreds of us Baldwin theater geeks.

And I do plan on attending the rest of the commemorative events, including Rally Night at the Baldwin Gym on Oct. 22 and, of course, the Homecoming Game on Oct. 25. I wonder, if I bring my own drumsticks, will Band Director Stephen Rodrigues let me play in the Pep Band for old times’ sake?

The celebration wraps up with the Ho’olaule’a on Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the school quadrangle. Entertainment, food booths and more will be provided by Baldwin alumni and current students.

The Ho’olaule’a is free, other events will require reservations and/or registration. Information on all of the anniversary activities may be found online at the website mentioned above.

I’m thinking about taking the tour next Friday, as long as they’re not serving A-Burgers. Otherwise I may have to cut out at lunchtime.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Sharing Mana‘o

The 91st Maui Fair kicks off tomorrow and so does my annual four-day stint in the Mana’o Radio BBQ pork booth. Four hot, sweaty, exhausting days of pulling – and pushing – pork. Since I’m the Mana’o mommy, I work every shift in our booth, from 5 Thursday afternoon until 11 Sunday night.

I’m getting too old for this. I say that every year. But I don’t really mean it. After all, the Maui Fair is a Timeless Tradition, and the food court is as traditional as the Ferris wheel or the fair parade.

The Maui Fair is the only one in the state with a food court completely stocked by nonprofit and community organizations. For many, Mana’o Radio included, it’s the biggest fundraiser of the year. The moneymaking potential is so high, there’s a lengthy wait list for one of the coveted slots. Once a group gets a concession booth, it’s theirs until they give it up.

The food concession chairpersons (Ryan Shibano, Duane Kim, Ryan Ishikawa and Gary Wasano) oversee the operation of more than 40 booths, each offering a different dish. When a group relinquishes its space, the new concessionaire can choose to continue serving whatever the old one sold, or they can try something completely different, as long as it’s not already on the menu. That’s why you can always count on seeing new, trendy edibles along with the classics. Some groups cook their food right there at the fair; others are fortunate to have commercial enterprises partner with them. Mana’o Radio is blessed to have the culinary support of Majic Carson’s Kama’aina catering.

When it comes to fair food, I’m a traditionalist, although I do try to sample all of the new offerings. After eight years in the pork booth, I’ve established a routine that satisfies both the sentimental fool and the junk food junkie in me.

The first thing I eat (after a BBQ pork sandwich, of course) is St. Anthony’s corn on the cob and a steak and rice plate from the Maui United Soccer Club booth. I think the Kiwanis Club used to do the steak and rice at the old Kahului Fairgrounds. Now they sell malassadas and coffee, which I get every Saturday and Sunday morning, as soon as the fair opens. I don’t remember who had the corn on the cob in the old days, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t St. Anthony’s, because I still associate them with those wonderfully sticky red candy apples that you can’t get anymore. And wasn’t it the St. Anthony Xavier Club who originated the Flying Saucer?

Ah, the Flying Saucers. It wouldn’t be a Maui Fair without Flying Saucers, now served up by the Maui Veterans Association. The recipe seems to have changed a bit over the years, and they aren’t as perfectly round as I remember them being, but I still love them. Fortunately, I have a clear view of their booth from mine, so I can see when the perpetual line gets down to a reasonable length.

Pronto Pups are another Maui Fair staple. I worked that booth once in the early 1970s, when the Baldwin High Speech Club had the concession. Back then, you couldn’t get corn dogs any other time of year, so it was a top seller. I have to admit, slinging pork cooked by someone else is a lot easier than frying battered hot dogs. So I tip my hat to the Boy Scouts for carrying on the tradition. I know they’re the same thing, but Pronto Pups always taste better than corn dogs.

Thursday and Friday evenings, I check out the new stuff. This year, I’m looking forward to trying the Rotary Club’s samosas and naan, as well as Women Helping Women’s panko crusted fish with aioli sauce.

Saturday’s dinner has to be the pastele plate made by the Maui Puerto Rican Club; on Sunday, I’ll have either the Hawaiian plate from Covenant Power Church or the Baldwin High JROTC’s kiawe grilled BBQ chicken. Throughout the weekend, I’ll have my fill of noodles: pansit from the Christ the King Filipino Catholic Club, the Kahului Kiwanis’ dry mein, Wailuku Hongwanji Mission’s chow fun, even spaghetti and meatballs by the Maui Contractors Women’s Auxiliary. And somehow I’ll find room for luau stew from Kamehameha Schools Maui and Pookela Church’s orange chicken.

Those are just the requisites. I’ll probably get something from every one of the food booths by the time this fair closes. I’m sorry I couldn’t mention each one by name here, but there’s a complete list in the Maui Fair supplement in last Sunday’s Maui News.

No, I haven’t gotten too old for this, not yet. But maybe I am getting too fat. Oh well, it’s a Timeless Tradition, after all.

* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is