Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jumping Through Hoops!

The Ultimate Hip Workout

Yes, I'm jumping through hoops these days because I love my new weighted exercise hoop. That's right, you heard me. The hula hoop is back, only now they've made it bigger, heavier - and more expensive - than the lightweight little plastic Wham-O "Shoop-Shoop Hula Hoop®" that hyperactive kids used to twirl around before doctors discovered Ritalin.

What goes around comes around

Will it go round in circles?

I should say so!

I love it because, ever since my new neighbor moved in downstairs, she never goes out (either she works from home or is agoraphobic), so whenever I would do my aerobic workouts, I'd hear her banging on the floor from below, complaining about the noise. But now, with my new exercise hoop - and my auxiliary "travel hoop" that packs up for trips - I can get a rigorous and quiet workout (woosh-woosh-woosh is the only sound it makes!) without causing a domestic disturbance.

The valuable recreational lessons we learned as kids never expire. While today's digital-age dorks go ga-ga over their Wii's, Wham-O founder Richard Knerr's million dollar baby - which he adapted from Australian bamboo exercise hoops, substituting plastic (Marlex) to create his own version of the ring - still reigns supreme as both a fun activity and a healthy workout.

Oh, for your Old School viewing pleasure, I've included this Hula Hoop Retro Commercial:

By the way, did you know that Japan once banned the hula hoop because the rotating hip action seemed indecent? Hmmmm, guess I'll have to keep mum on the subject around my mom, in that case.

My Mom's Japanese Record Collection

Sayonaro Dundalk, Konichiwa Parkville!

A couple of weeks ago when I was down in Dundalk visiting my mother, my mom told me she was getting ready to give away her Japanese record collection to a friend - until I initiated a "Save the Family Record Collection" intervention. How could she not pass on these precious vinyl heirlooms to her own flesh and blood? I snatched them up in order to maintain family listening honor. And this was only a partial rescue operation - there are many more records to salvage, but I couldn't carry them all in one trip!

This one was a real score as it featured the Oscar-winning star of Sayonara (Best Supporting Actress, 1957), the first all-Asian musical Flower Drum Song and TV's The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

This one's an authentic Japanese sound effects record!

I didn't know who the Peanuts were, but Tom told me they were real-life twins Emi and Yumi Ito, most famous here in the West as the miniature singing stars in the Toho sci-fi film classics Mothra (1961), Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1964) and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964). Besides being known as The Peanuts, they were also referred to as The Twins and the Mothra Fairy Twins. In fact, here's a clip of the "Mothra Twins" singing their signature theme song, complete with an English translation.

The Peanuts break out of their shell

Ridin' Out the Recession

When the Going Gets Tough
The Thrifty Shop @ Rugged Wearhouse

Parkville's Retail Mecca: Rugged Wearhouse

Saturday I went shopping for clothes at Rugged Wearhouse and scored an entire season's worth of clothes for work and play, from $2 work tees to a slew of $5 tee shirts and even a Sanrio Keroppi Keroppi pajamas outfit (tank top and bottoms). My boyfriend Tom, who was under the weather and depressed from yet another tennis loss (he's a rather world-weary weekend warrior) was instantly perked up when he saw my nifty black Beatles "HELP!" tee and downright jealous when he saw my t-shirt that had the Japanese poster art for King Kong Escapes (Kingu Kongu no gyakushĂ», aka King Kong Strikes Again) - the 1967 Toho film that featured a robotic mecha-Kong (as shown below)!

Mecha Kong in Toho's "King Kong Escapes" (1967)

(As an added bonus, the Kong shirt had a cartoon on the inside with Kong proclaiming "Machine wash cold with like colors. Do not bleach. Tumble dry low." How cool is that?)

He was so excited by the possibility of scoring a cool shirt like mine that he insisted we both go back for a Rugged Wearhouse shopping spree, arguing that it was "fiscally responsible" to stockpile essentials like clothing during these tough economic times. But, confronted by the preponderance of Phat Farm and Hoodlum Hip-Hop gear on offer on the Men's clothing racks could only whine, "These places are biased towards girls in their cool t-shirts...why don't they make cool stuff for guys?" Apparently he was less than enamoured of shirts with slogans like "Gin and Juice," "Born Playa" and "Playin' the Game 'Till Death Do Us Part." What can I say? He's a Metrosexual.

He had to settle for a handful of $5 tees: a 2-tone Specials shirt, Mad Magazine's 2-tone Spy Vs. Spy, a Japanese McDonald's shirt ("Not as cool as Mecha Kong," he sighed) and the bizarre "Thank You Chuck Norris" t-shirt that had us both scratching our heads. Thank you for what? For guarding our borders a la that quip from Mike Huckabee?

All in all, a very satisfying shopping day. I got eight shirts, a pair of pajama pants and two pajama tops for $52 bucks and Tom scored four tees and a hoody sweatshirt for $26. With the closing of Steve and Barry's, Rugged Wearhouse has filled the void of cheap chic clothing. Wear it and declare it!