Dispatches From Kauai or: How I Somehow Relate My Hawaiian Vacation To Syracuse Basketball

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

I learned some things during my Hawaiian vacation. Most of them had nothing to do with Syracuse basketball. But maybe, just maybe, some of them did.

My question to you, after spending two weeks on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is, why don't we all live there?

Seriously. What is wrong with us? Why do we put up with places like Syracuse, NY or Hoboken, NJ or Bridgeport, CT or Greenbank, WA? Why do we purposefully make ourselves suffer? Are we all just masochists?

Ponder those questions while I recount my fourteen-day excursion the only way I know how. In relation to Syracuse Orange basketball.

I've even got a hook! The Syracuse basketball team will be headed to Maui on November 25th to begin play in the 2013 Maui Invitational. Now, I didn't step foot on Maui during this trip (unless you count the hour layover) and there's a decent difference between that tourist-y island and the garden paradise I stayed at (BURN, Maui). That said, there are certainly aspects to my trip that will certainly bleed over.

So, we'll begin with my thoughts and learnings that, as someone headed to Maui to watch the Orange play, you might find useful. And after that, we'll get to my thoughts and learnings that are irrelevant to these proceedings but I will share anyway because its my blog and I don't care what kind of statistical analysis you were hoping to find here.

Thoughts & Learnings That Can Be Applied To The Maui Invitational

Flying Hawaiian Airlines? Bring your own food and your own entertainment. They're not a bad airlines but they're using planes that are slightly out-of-date. So, don't expect a TV in the seat-back in front of you. You're stuck with rolling the dice, hoping you'll be close enough to the big screen in the middle of the plane that you can actually watch Iron Man 3.

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Please leave your lei jokes at home.

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Please leave your "sarong number" jokes at home as well, too.

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So, you know how every city of region has their "food thing?" Like, Syracuse has salt potatoes. The South has sweet tea. The Jersey Shore has funnel cake. It's the thing that the city/region claims it invented and/or does better than any place in the world and everyone seems to offer it no matter what their basic food service is. Whether its a stand dedicated just to that thing, a fancy restaurant or a gas station, they all seem to offer it and claim its the best in the city/region.

Well, Hawaii's food thing is Shave Ice. Not Shaved Ice. Don't call it that, God forbid. Shave Ice is basically what it sounds like. It's a giant snowcone (OH MY GOD DON'T CALL IT A SNOWCONE!). But, seriously, it is. It's a big ball of ice shavings flavored by syrups. What about that ISN'T a snowcone? Oh, they also put it on top of ice cream. So...it's a snowcone on ice cream. There you go.

Snowcones are already the "magic trick" of desserts. To paraphrase David Cross, the best reaction you can have to a magic trick is, "Oh...great...that IS my card...can I go now?" And the same can be said of snowcones. So what good is a giant snowcone? Multiplying anything with zero still leaves you with zero.

Just get a smoothie instead. Fresh pineapples and coconut, sons!

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Taro. Learn what it is and give it a shot. Poi is kinda gross so don't worry about that. Instead, order a taro burger one night instead of a regular one. If you're prissy about ordering a "veggie burger," calling it a taro burger instantly makes it seem cooler and tropical. And depending on the chef, you're either going to be a somehow-tasty-but-charred exterior or just a solid burger-plate for your accouterments.

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Mosquitoes. My God, the mosquitoes. The Georgetown of insects are everywhere and care not for your wants, needs and desires. They will find you. And they will suck your blood. Sorry.

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Unless you're Jim Boeheim, don't wear a Hawaiian shirt. I was going to buy one just because and then I realized that there's a distinct correlation between everything we think is Hawaiian and the Mad Men-era thinking that created these things (Hawaiian shirts, hula dancing, festive luaus). You can see it on the faces on actual Hawaiians how much disdain they have for these stupid things they have to do for us because we think this is what they're like. So, leave it on the rack, again, unless you're Boeheim. Because I really want to see Jim Boeheim in a Hawaiian shirt wearing a lei for no reason.

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The real question isn't which player would you like to see hula dance. It's which player would win at an all-you-can-eat-luau? Smart money is on DaJuan Coleman but I have this weird idea in my head that Baye Keita would pull an upset. I know he's lanky but Keita only knows how to do things at one speed. Top. When it comes to eating pork slow-roasted in a dirt pit, I bet on Baye.

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You will no doubt come across one of the many, many, many ABC Stores while there. ABC Stores are basically hybrid tchotchke stores/markets that are geared 100% towards tourists. You will look upon them with disgust and vow never to enter any of them. For varied reasons beyond your control, you will enter then seven times a day.

Thoughts & Learnings Unrelated To Anything Other Than My Need To Talk About Myself

While waiting for our connecting flight from Maui to Kauai, my wife and I found ourselves sitting directly across from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. My immediate instinct was to challenge him with the only food item I had on my person at the time. Battle: Kettle Organic Sea Salt Chips. Alas, he got up to catch his connecting flight to Honolulu (to his restaurant, no doubt) before I could convince fellow passengers to be my sous chefs.

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Speaking of Morimoto, one of the unexpected delights of the trip was discovering Rogue's Morimoto Hazelnut Brown Ale (which I've since come to learn is the same as their Hazelnut Brown Nectar). One of the rare beers that has a lot of flavor but doesn't wash out your throat after every sip.

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Playing lacrosse is the most unsexy thing on the planet. How do I know this? Because when I was laying on a massage table in the middle of a steam room, 100% naked without any towel or form of coverage whatsoever, and a reasonable-attractive female stranger was rubbing said naked body with salt crystals in preparation for my lomilomi massage, the first thing to enter my terrified and panicked mind in an attempt to "calm myself down" and avert an "incident" was lacrosse. Specifically, memories of playing lacrosse. Running plays. Scoring goals. Getting knocked down by large defensemen. I have no specific reason as to why this happened though the fact that it worked probably leads to some kind of undiagnosed issue. So there you go...lacrosse is nature's castrator.

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Roosters are a-holes. On Kauai, there are thousands of free-roaming chickens on the island. They're everywhere. And since we stayed in a cottage on a farm, they were running around the place non-stop all day and night. And that meant the roosters were around at 4am cock-a-doodle-dooing ad nauseum until around 7am, by which time they decided to do it only every five minutes or so. Not to mention, watching roosters, you come to learn that they are big bullies to other chickens as well as huge wussies when a human comes around. They're truly the lamest of God's creatures.

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