Maui Film Festival Directors Barry and Stella Rivers are nailing down plans for this summer's festival, whose dates have moved up to June 4 to 8 in Wailea and at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. A definite highlight will be the Hawaii premiere of "Supermesch," a comic documentary by Mike Myers about Maui's own Shep Gordon.
I caught up with Stella and festival staffer Dana Langseth recently at Paia's new Rock & Brews. With picnic tables and long wooden benches under rock posters and lots of buzzing big screens, it's the north shore's hip hamlet's newest way to have fun. There's a big beer list, family-oriented comfort food, an indoor-outdoor ambiance, concert lighting and room to dance. Considering that its high-profile co-founders are former rockin' masked men Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, it will probably become known as the place to KISS and tell about.
Just setting foot in the reinvented space reminded me of another evening, years ago, when it was still called Jacques Bistro and I discovered my secret powers there . . .
It was a Saturday evening in August.(Cue the flashback music on the soundtrack.) I know the month because Rinzai Zen Mission on Baldwin Beach was having its obon dance, which always falls in late summer. Friends were visiting from Santa Cruz, and we told them that they needed to add the colorful, spiritual swirl of an obon dance to their postcard memories.
We were to meet at the temple. My wife, Karen, and I got there early, which left time for a Baldwin Beach swim in the golden glow of late-afternoon sunshine.
I've swum that beach hundreds of times. I observe major holidays by swimming its length. Some of my dad's ashes are out by the reef. My swims are like personal bon dances at sea, communicating with lost ancestors . . . and the powers that be.
Which in this case was probably a Portuguese man-of-war. I say probably because I never saw it. Its kiss felt like a jellyfish bite, except instead of subsiding, it kept intensifying. Like an organic vise grip. It suddenly seemed like a good idea to swim for shore before any of its buddies showed up.
When I came out of the surf, Karen, along with Barry Rivers, was watching the whole scene. "What's with your neck?" they said. "Ugh!"
It was swollen, with a long sting mark. From gorgeous future Maui Film Festival honoree Malin Akerman in "The Heartbreak Kid," I later learned one remedy for a jellyfish sting is for someone to urinate on it. Better yet, have some vinegar in your gear bag.
I didn't. And so by the time we left the beach and headed for Jacques for drinks and dinner, I was the one with the goiter neck. The swelling eventually subsided, finally turning into a faint necklace scar like former Maui guy Clint Eastwood's in "Hang 'Em High."
Long afterwards, I read a scientific study about jellyfish. Considering that they don't have stuff we have, like eyes or brains, their nervous systems are pretty sophisticated. They have a 360-degree sense of what's going on around them.
I mention this because that night at Jacques, as I was sitting at my table, a waitress behind me tipped her tray and a drink fell off. Seeing it from the corner of my eye, my arm flew out and caught it in midair.
Alas, it didn't last. I was back to my normal klutz mode within days. But it always struck me as screenplay material in the "Spider-Man" mold - middle-age guy bitten by wild creature, suddenly imbued with supernatural powers: it's Jellyman!
More recently, several fellow swimmers, like Paul Meyer, have gravitated to cycling. This isn't always such a great idea, huh, Doug Rice? And Janet Renner, who has taught a whole generation of Mauians to swim, reports that she's mending fast and will be back in the water soon, after her own bike mishap. You go, girl!
Another super swim coach and awesome aqua-man, Malcolm Cooper, offers a fresh theory about the recent uptick in shark encounters. He points to an increase in spearfishermen, and reports of sharks following them. He ventures that the sharks are learning from the humans, which kinda makes you rethink things like food chains . . . or which species is the smartest of them all.
Also at sea, artist George Allen and wife Janet emailed recently from Singapore where they were boarding an 18-day cruise to South Africa. Janet called it "our 'Around the World in 40 Days' dream trip, thanks to good friend Gage Schubert."
Bon voyage! On a cruise, what you sea is what you get.
* Rick Chatenever, former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and Emmy-nominated scriptwriter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 344-9535.