Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Tis the most wonderful time of the year!

Last year I scored when I was asked to dress as Santa Clause for work for Christmas. Last year, after the holiday season had passed, I was delighted to hear that there was an overwhelming positive response to the way I “did” Santa. I was delighted to have been asked if I could be Santa once again this year. Though I had the opportunity to do it once, I still jumped at the chance. Based on the crowd’s response, it seemed as if I did a pretty good job.

This year instead of centering this post on the guests at our hotel, which again was a great experience, I instead am going to revolve it around Santa Clause surprising my niece Ashanti. Like most children, my niece loves the holiday season. Not necessarily because of all the gifts, but because it’s one of those times when the entire family comes together to spend time with each other. She loves seeing everyone.

This year my family and I decided to open gifts on Christmas evening. I kind of planned everything out so I brought my Santa suit home from work. While the action was going on outside, I snuck off to the side into a bedroom to get changed. I asked my cousin, Ashanti’s mom, to bring me one of her gifts so I can put it in my Santa sack. Because I got dressed up the day before, putting the suit back on correctly was literally done in a second. I went thru the back and snuck around to the front as my cousin got my entrance song ready to go.

With everyone together and Ashanti not knowing, “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” played. She looked outside at the figure that was coming towards the house. I weaved my way through the driveway and started dancing. Our family was cheering along. It was rather hard trying to dance and entertain while trying to keep everything together, i.e. the hat, the beard, and making sure the pants don’t fall.

The moment went by like a blur. After everything was done and I transformed back into Brandon, I went back into the house. Ashanti was ecstatic telling me I just missed out on seeing Santa. Seeing her smiling ear to ear made this Christmas one of the best ever. This moment was the personification of the holidays. I can only hope I’ll be able to not just surprise her, but take Santa Clause island wide.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The George Lopez Story

Sometimes you need to gun it!

Anabelle, myself, my cousin Ashley, and her boyfriend Ray made it a semi double date night attending the George Lopez comedy concert.  On our way to the show, Ashley, being all decked out, took picture.  After picture after picture after picture of herself to post on Facebook.  She had taken so many picture retakes she had my battery in the red before we had arrived at the venue.  Thinking that I didn’t necessarily need my phone, I turned it off but I did keep it on me.  I mean hey, don’t you feel naked without your phone, even if it’s dead.

About 3/4 through the set, George Lopez had mentioned how his schedule had worked out in his favor.  He shared with the audience that he’d be able to spend his birthday at his house on the island of Lanai because the day after this concert, April 23rd is his birthday, which is also my birthday.  I didn’t pay much attention the rest of the show, I was too busy plotting. I kept telling myself to “Think…. Think of how I may be able to meet George Lopez for my Birthday.” Then it hit.  It was a long shot but it was worth a shot.

As the show ended, I turned my phone on and Anabelle and I began walking downstairs while it booted up.  With barely any juice left, I jumped online and googled George Lopez’ twitter name, which simple enough was @GeorgeLopez, racing against both time and battery, I tweeted him faster than a belieber tweeting Justin.  I tweeted:@GeorgeLopez.. Just seen your show at the MACC… You killed it. Heard we have the same B-day… Can I meet you for my b-day??

By then phone was on the brink of dying.  I maybe had 2-3 minutes max left before my phone dies.  Anabelle and I met back up with Ashley and Ray.  Everyone asked why I was sitting down and not leaving like the droves of other people were.  I told them about my Hail Mary plan and could see their thoughts of absurdity painted on their faces.  As crazy as it seemed, I asked them if they could give me until my phone dies, which was bound to happen at any moment.  I knew it was a long shot but sometimes you need to gun it.  Within a minute of sending the tweet, my phone vibrated with a notification.  It was a response from George Lopez telling me to ask for someone named Bruce.  The 4 of us were ecstatic, we were no on the hunt.

Shortly after some questioning and explaining our situation a few times, we found Bruce, who was looking for us as well.  Bruce had led Ray, Ashley, Anabelle, and I back through the amphitheater.  We were escorted onto the stage, then backstage, and towards the dressing rooms.

There he was waiting the most for us, George Lopez.  I was as in shock to have this “Plan” work as I was to meet him.  Anabelle, being an even bigger fan of him than I am was on cloud 9.  This dude was super cool and extremely cordial.  When meeting him, he gave me the pound and a big hug and did the same to Ray, plus and added kiss for both Anabelle and Ashley.  Needless to say , the 2 girls nearly melted.  He struck up conversation with each of us and answered all the groupie questions we threw at him.  We took pictures (with my camera, not a phone) and he even gave each of us a George Lopez shirt.  He was beyond awesome.

Leaving the amphitheater started reminiscing on how crazy an experience this was.  After getting home and posting the picture on facebook and pinterest, dozens of comments poured in.  There were many requests for a retelling of the story and of course I obliged.

Since this experience, I‘ve always took great pleasure in the sharing of this story.  The irony is that it’s not for my benefit or to boast but for the listener to get the lesson that’s behind his unharrowing tale.

What would have been the absolute worst thing that could have happened in the scenario?  It would be 1 of 2 things; George Lopez could have either said no or they could not have answered at all.  Sometimes you can’t be afraid of denial.  Sometimes you can’t be afraid of failing.  If an opportunity presents itself, no matter how far-fetched it may seem, you need to at least try to capitalize on it.  Sometimes you need to think outside the box.  Sometimes it won’t work.  Sometimes it will.  There’s only one way to find out.

Sometimes you need to gun it!


My very first memory of Boyz II Men is about 20 years old. I remember listening to Motownphilly over and over and over, repeatedly while being in line at the car wash. I remember singing the “doom doom doom da da, da doom doom doom da da” part as if I sounded like them. Fast forward to 1992, I was in the 6th grade and Boyz II Men ruled the airwaves. There wasn’t an hour that would pass by that you wouldn’t hear “End of the Road” on the radio. In 1993, when II came out, it was over. That was the year that solidified my love for them. I mean, I liked them during their earlier years, but after hearing hit after hit, “On Bended Knee”, “I’ll Make Love to You”, and “Water Runs Dry”, you couldn’t help but believe this group was an undeniable force. Years later, Evolution reintroduced me to BIIM with hits like “4 Seasons of Loneliness” and “Song for Mama”. After 5 long years, the trademarked Boyz II Men sound was back, and man, was it refreshing.

When I first seen that Boyz II Men was coming to Maui to perform, I instantly became excited. I couldn’t believe it. Could it be? Is my all time favorite music group really coming to my hometown to perform? I had to read the article twice to make sure there wasn’t another Boyz II Men out there parading around. I was so skeptical; I had to examine the words Boyz II Men to see that the spelling was correct. As the months turned to weeks and the weeks turned to days, the excitement went from overdrive to hyperspeed.

Anabelle and I got ready several hours in advance. We both tried our best to look absolutely perfect for this momentous occasion. As we took the right turn into the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, we were both hit with an overwhelming sensation. We were so excited to get in, we parked in the first stall we came across; and we were still about an hour early. In concerts past, we’ve always gotten to the venue with very little time to spare. This time, I wanted us to really capitalize on having a beautiful evening.

As we walked in, there was a table selling VIP passes. Anabelle asked about them. Basically, they were passes for a post concert meet and greet plus an autograph picture from the members. My main concern though was the price. When I found out it was $45/person, I was all over it. I thought what other time will there be in my life that I’ll be able to meet all 3 members of Boyz II Men at the same time and get them to pose for a picture with both Anabelle and myself. Without hesitation I dropped the money. Anabelle and I put on our new jewelry and continued on. As we were walking around, there were several concert goers asking us about the passes. In a way, it felt like we were the envy of many people. It was actually kind of weird.

Anabelle and I decided to grab something to eat. The dinners at the MACC are awesome. I ordered the chicken and Anabelle ordered the salmon. Man, they were delicious. We literally ate all our food within 5 minutes. I don’t know if we were just that hungry or if the food was just that good. I’m thinking the latter.

We started seeing a ton of people beginning to walk in so we finished our drinks and jumped in line. With the help of the many ushers the MACC has, we easily found our seats. We sat and quickly realized we were surrounded by fans that were as fanatically crazy for Boyz II Men as we were; we felt right at home. Our seats were on the 2nd mezzanine level on the last row. We had a panoramic view of our teen idols without an interruption in sight. The seats were damn near perfect.

The countdown began. The venue was going berserk. The house lights dimmed. The backdrop graphic illuminated. Out came 3 silhouettes walking towards center stage. We immediately knew who it was. Each silhouette took its place onstage. Seconds later the stage came to life and there they were, Boyz II (f’n) Men. The amphitheater was louder than I’ve ever heard it be. The crowd was so loud you could barely hear the song that was being sung. It was mass hysteria. The females were acting like guys and the guys were screaming like girls, not me though ;) At that moment, I literally felt like a part of me came full circle. Here in front of me, in flesh and bone is the band that I’ve followed and listened to for as long as I can remember. This is the group that through thick and thin, no matter who’s “trending”, this is the group that no one can top. And here they are, here!

Once the noise dropped about a decibel, and you could hear the vocals, Boyz II Men made the place erupt with “On Bended Knee”. In an instant, each audience member of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center was transported back to their youth. Whether it be elementary, intermediate, or high school, everyone seemed to have that 1 undeniable nostalgic moment come over them. It was incredible. We were only one song in and I could see the tears glistening off of Anabelle’s face. I was in awe. You could feel the positive energy being exuded and flowing throughout the concert.

Boyz II Men also paid homage to their Motown ancestors; Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Temptations, and The Jackson 5. They had each person in each row in each seat on each level doing the 1950 scat. I’ve been to many concerts, and to have every doing the same dance in unison was one of a kind. They also sang a few of their chart topping hits like Water Runs Dry, 4 Seasons of Loneliness, and A Song for Mama. They performed “More Than You’ll Ever Know” off of their new album XX. As they were singing that song, there’s a certain part towards the end where Wanya pelts this incredible note, it sent goose bumps through me. Seriously, look up that song on youtube, you’ll agree.

Within seconds, another wave of screams filled the air as the first 3 instrumental notes from “I’ll Make Love to You” were played. The girls were going crazy. As BIIM continued to sing, they started to pass out red roses to all the females. Needless to say, there hundreds of girls that bum rushed the stage to fight for a chance to get a fresh rose by someone from their all time favorite band. Being that Anabelle and I were sandwiched in between two groups, we decided to stay put and watch the madness from above. In the time that they sang the song, they literally passed out over 100 roses and made the nights to its recipients.

Every classic was being done. But you could hear the audience beginning to whisper. What happened to MotownPhilly? Could it really happen? Is it possible that Boyz II Men can do a concert without doing MotownPhilly? Then Shawn screams “Maui, ARE YOU READY!” Once again, the place erupted into a frenzy. It’s been 20 long years since this track has come out, and still, the audience knew every word. This was probably the absolute best end that Boyz II Men could have given.

As the guys Shawn, Nate, and Wanya said their farewells and thank yous, the house lights came on. The audience started making their way out. There wasn’t a single soul in the MACC amphitheater that left disappointed. The concert was so good; it was a harsh reality that the night was coming to an end. It was at that moment that Anabelle and I remembered that we still had the backstage passes. Yes sir! Anabelle darted to the meet and greet line while I headed back into the venue, but on the first floor. I wanted to see if I can get a little souvenir. I walked over to the stage and asked one of the crew members if there was any way that I’d be able to get a bottle of water that one of the guys drank from. I know, it’s weird, but why not? The guy thought I was joking. Luckily he realized I was a “crazie” and obliged. I was ecstatic.

I ran outside to get in line with Anabelle and gave her the water. Everyone around us somehow impressed. It’s like there are more “crazies” than there are normal fans. As I told Anabelle about how I got the bottle, people were like, “wow, I should go get something”. It put a smile on my face.

The time was finally here where Anabelle and I were going to meet our childhood idols, Boyz II Men. As we walked into the hall to meet them, Anabelle quickly turned into a groupie. She was trying to rub them down, it was so funny. Though I was jumping like a little girl on the inside, I tried to maintain and give them a daps and a hug. All 3 guys were real. Not just real in the physical sense but real as in they all seemed genuinely happy to meet their fans. We all turned around and got a picture taken. Directly after, both Anabelle and I were outside admiring our new Facebook default. We couldn’t wait to get it up.

The entire night went by like a serious blur. There are so many things that happened that I can’t remember. As much of a blur that it was, it’s a blur that both of us will never, ever forget. Thank you Boyz II Men for visiting our island Maui. Thank you for making my evening special but an even bigger thank you for creating millions of long lasting memories for Anabelle. This concert helped both of us come full circle. Hopefully you’ll be back one day. Hopefully it’s one day soon. Please don’t let it be when you release XXXX. Daps.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I enjoy putting gas at night. Not only is it easier for me to get in and out, but the station’s always emptier and the streets are a bit clearer, but I heard it’s also better for the vehicle.

While putting gas, I noticed an older lady digging through some trash cans looking for recyclables. I seen her take what she found and put it in her car which was filled from floorboard to ceiling with bags of cans and both plastic and glass bottles. Because I helped do some cleaning at Moku’ula a few days prior, I still had a medium sized trash bag in the back of my truck filled with recyclables. While pumping gas, I caught her down and asked her if she wanted my bag. She happily took what I had and mashed it in her car. Before pulling out, she said “Thank you and God bless you.” Who would’ve known you could still have a smile on your face even with today’s gas prices. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Sometimes a mini vacation can come at a minutes notice. In this case, it did. I’ve mentioned before that we don’t travel that often anymore so we try to capitalize on what we call “24 hour getaways”.

Anabelle and my mom had a wedding to go to so they decided to get a room over at the Lahaina Shores on Front Street. My dad, Damien, and myself were invited slash asked if we could slash wanted to come to both getaway and do a little volunteering, or in this case, “volutourism”.

The Lahaina Shores has been around for quite some time. They’ve in fact been around for so long that they’re even in my earliest memories of Lahaina town. Being that I’ve seen the hotel from the outside all my life, I’ve always been curious about what the interior looks like. After 30 years, I got to find out. I heard awhile back that the Lahaina Shores was going under a major renovation so that added to my expectations.

After we got our keys, we made quick work walking to the room. I’m sad to say, the room was a bit of a letdown. Normally, when we get a room, we try to make it an effort to enjoy both the hotel room and the hotel’s amenities. However, because the room wasn’t really what we expected, Damien and I wanted to do something off property; have a small dude’s night out since Anabelle was busy.

Damien and I chose to eat at Kobe’s Steakhouse since he’s never been there and has never seen anything like it. I was really looking forward to his reaction. Once we got seated, I instantly noticed Damien’s eyes wandering around trying to watch the other cooks doing their little showcase. Shortly after ordering, our cook slash showman came out and started. There were only 2 kids seated with us so our cook really took care of them. Damien was in awe. Our cook was throwing, flipping, tossing, and twirling everything; food, cutlery, bowls; even the sauces were made into a prop. From time to time, I was watching Damien to see what his reactions were, and for the most part, he seemed overly intrigued. The night was also a success because not only did Damien get to finally experience a meal of this sort but he got to try fried shrimp tails for the first time. Neither of us had heard of it but he seemed to enjoy it. We both enjoyed our meals immensely. The cook was great. He was so entertaining and funny that we actually would have “waited” even longer if he did more of his culinary magic for us.

From there headed over to Barnes & Noble. I enjoy taking Damien there because it lets me see the different types of things that he’s into and curious about. Since we had such an awesome dinner, we didn’t stay there too long because were hit with a sudden jolt of food comatosis so we wanted to lie down and relax.

Saturday started at the crack of dawn. This is where Damien and I would earn our hotel stay. We checked out and headed over to Waine’e Church for the Royal Hawaiian Guard Ho’ike. The Ho’ike is ceremony that celebrated the 175th birthday of King David Kalakaua. Along with a royal ceremony, event goers were also able to see the crafts of local artisans, try some “ono” (delicious) local food, and listen to some of Hawaii’s best musicians. Anabelle, Damien, and I, along with my parents had to help set up the Moku’ula booth and help wherever and however necessary. Judging by the amount of visitors the Moku’ula tent had and by how many people came to check out the festivities, it seemed like the event was a success.

As the sun went down and everyone was packed up, the Royal Hawaiian Guard Luau began. There were a lot of people that stayed throughout the Ho’ike but even more folks either came or came back for the luau. The luau was in fact so good that I wished I had known about it earlier so I could have promoted it at our hotel. The food was excellent and all you can eat. The musical program was great as was the hula performances. As good as the luau was, it was in actuality nice to see a local “society (?)” put on such a wonderful program for an equally wonderful cause.

Though Damien didn’t get the full experience because he missed out on the luau, I know for a fact that he had a good time. Being able to have such a good time with Anabelle while giving back to the community made this 24 hour getaway all the more better.