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Hawaii steamed about late-night parody

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Hawaii's lieutenant governor and some tourism personnel were upset with a "Saturday Night Live" skit on March 14 that parodied locals' attitude toward tourists.

The skit (which can be viewed below) starred cast member Fred Armisen and guest host Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as entertainers at a Kauai hotel. They go from table to table, intermittently singing and making wisecracks at the tourists.

During one part of the skit, Johnson's character said Hawaii's biggest export was coffee, and that its biggest import was "fat, white tourists."

Incidentally, Johnson is of Polynesian heritage (his mother is Samoan).

According to a USA Today report, Hawaii Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said he was concerned that the skit could scare people away from Hawaii, and that he would send a letter in protest to Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live's longtime executive producer.

Aiona said the skit "went too far in its negative depiction of Hawaii's native people and tourism industry."

Hawaii politicians and tourism executives likely are more sensitive than usual because the state’s tourism industry is taking a beating because of the recession. But they should lighten up; SNL has been satirizing individuals and groups of people for years.

While this particular skit perhaps was more cruel than humorous, I think Hawaii made a bigger deal about it than it should have. This kind of protest generally serves to draw more attention to the thing being protested, and thus defeats the purpose.

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Bitter over bonuses

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Labor unions representing American Airlines employees are making a ruckus about executive bonuses, according to a story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Even though the bonuses are based on the airline’s stock performance (an indication that this won’t be a bonanza), the unions are still ticked off.

A spokesman for American Airlines pilots compared the airline to AIG, because management has been collecting bonuses since 2003, when employees agreed to wage cuts that kept American out of bankruptcy.

"They've rewarded themselves with millions of dollars in bonuses ever since," said Scott Shankland, an American pilot. "And in the meantime, the airline is doing terrible."

American accused the unions of spinning things to suit their own interests.

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Cruise Critic taking some heat

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Fallout from the revelation that the Royal Champions, a group of frequent cruisers who routinely post online comments about Royal Caribbean, was in fact organized by the cruise line has created a furor within the community of the popular website CruiseCritic.com.

According to an article on Tripso.com by Anita Dunham-Potter, CruiseCritic.com, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor (which is owned by Expedia) worked with Royal Caribbean to facilitate the creation of the group, despite TripAdvisor's policy to work diligently to delete self-serving posts from industry suppliers.

To read the story, and Royal Caribbean's response, click here.

-- Arnie Weissmann

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Six Flags enters the haircutting business

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MrSixThe Six Flags amusement park chain is known for its hair-raising roller coasters.

The company hopes to be known for its haircutting, too.

The first Six Flags Rollercoaster Cuts, a children's boutique and hair salon, will open in West Hartford, Conn., on March 14. The company said the salon would offer a "multi-sensory haircutting experience for kids of all ages."

Themed cutting stations will feature coaster cars equipped with a flat-screen TVs showing videos of Six Flags rides and attractions. While shampooing, kids will have the option to sit straight up in a traditional chair or lie flat on their backs watching point-of-view camera angles of Six Flags coaster drops.

Six Flags characters will meet and greet children -- including Mr. Six, the old man with a bald head, thick glasses, a tuxedo and maniacal dance moves. Mr. Six starred in Six Flags TV spots a few years ago, and it looks like he's making a comeback.

With the company posting net losses in 2007 and 2008, Six Flags apparently felt that it needed a fresh hook. Operating kids' hair salons is an intriguing idea. The stores could be an effective way to promote Six Flags parks while providing a new revenue stream.

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Dumped by Trump

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Donald TrumpAt least one investor in the Trump Ocean Resort Baja won't be watching Season 6 of NBC's "The Apprentice."

After the Mexico hotel-condo development on the northern tip of Baja California went belly-up, investors were left holding the bag to the tune of $32 million, according to the Associated Press.

Investors were told that their deposits had been spent, and that they would not receive a penny of it back.

"I can't even stand to see [Donald] Trump's face on TV," Linda Drake, a psychologist whose husband is a commercial airline pilot and financial adviser, told the AP.

The AP reported that deposits on abandoned projects are at risk in the U.S., but the risk may be higher in Mexico because consumer protection laws there are generally weak.

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Cool Runnings II

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JAM-NewtonMarshallNewton Marshall is Jamaica's newest ambassador.

The 25-year-old former gardener, horseback guide and dog trainer for Chukka Caribbean Adventures in Ocho Rios placed 13th in the grueling 1,016-mile Yukon Quest dogsled race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska.

He drove his team of 10 huskies across the finish line in 11 days, 19 hours and two minutes, arriving in the Fairbanks dawn with a wide Jamaican grin on his frostbitten face.

Marshall earned $3,000 for his finish and a chance to compete in the annual 1,150-mile Iditarod Great Sled Race that spans the width of Alaska.

A film team has made a dJAM-NewtonMarshallSnowocumentary about him, but Marshall is most proud of the Challenge of the North award presented to him by the race marshal and judges for "best exemplifying the spirit of the Yukon Quest."

Marshall has headed home to Jamaica to soak up the sun before returning to work at Chukka, where he runs cart-mushing tours with Jamaican mongrel shelter dogs.

Way to go, mon!

-- Gay Nagle Myers

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Photo of swimsuit model rankles some SWA flyers

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It was bound to happen. Some Southwest Airlines customers are not happy with the newest addition tBlog-SWAo the carrier’s fleet.

They don’t object to the Boeing 737 itself, but to the giant bikini-clad image of Sports Illustrated cover model Bar Refaeli painted on the fuselage. The photo of Refaeli on the plane is part of a promotional deal to tout the magazine's annual swimsuit issue.

The carrier's blog is full of comments pro and con. Some labeled the image as pornographic, "hardly the epitome of the friendly, down-home airline I’ve grown accustomed to," one customer blogged.

Another said it was "a true sign of marketing genius. This is Southwest being Southwest, having fun, not taking themselves too seriously, willing to take risks."

Whatever. The paint job is temporary and will be removed within a few months when the promotion ends.

-- Gay Nagle Myers

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The Norwegian Epic revealed

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Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled what its mega-ship under construction, the Norwegian Epic, will looNCL-NorwegianEpick like.

The 153,000-ton, 4,200-passenger, 19-deck ship is scheduled to be completed in May 2010.

Did you ever think you'd be pushing a button for the 19th floor in a cruise ship elevator? Would you even think about taking the stairs?

NCL said travel agents would be able sell room blocks for group bookings later this month. Cruises are scheduled to go on sale to the public this spring.

The ship will debut in the U.K. in May 2010 with inaugural Europe cruises. Then the Epic will sail year-round Caribbean cruises out of Miami, starting in the sNCL-NorwegianEpicSidewaysummer.

Additional details about the Norwegian Epic will be released in the coming months, NCL said.

To date, NCL has revealed that the Epic will have a nightclub scene that "rivals the experiences of Las Vegas, Ibiza, the Riviera and South Beach." Staterooms will have curved walls.

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