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May 4, 2018 |

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Designer Sofia Sanchez de Betak on Finding Inspiration in Japan

Getting lost in the alleyways of Kyoto. Eating sweet, salty umami at a Tokyo countertop. No two trips to Japan are ever the same, which is why Traveler contributor Sofia “Chufy” Sanchez de Betak keeps returning. In fact, her latest designs for Chufy and The Luxury Collection, her travel-inspired line of ready-to-wear, accessories, and jewelry in partnership with Mariott International, draws inspiration from her travels there. “I fell in love with the culture of Japan when I visited for the first time five years ago,” says de Betak. “The attention to detail and sophistication there is above all others.”

Made up of 36 limited-edition pieces, the collection is a contemporary take on the history and heritage of Japanese culture, using traditional silks and silhouettes to showcase iconic Japanese motifs like dragons, cherry blossoms, and Koinobori fish. Designs include kimono-style wraps and floaty, wide-legged pants in shades of deep orange, bright yellow, persimmon and dusty rose, and many of the patterns are influenced by vintage Japanese fabrics and antique matchboxes collected by de Betak during her travels. “I love wearing kimonos, in all of their different shapes and styles. The problem is that every time I find one I love, it’s either too long, or too heavy, which is why I wanted this collection to be traditional, but at the same time more lively and wearable.”

From left: Kanjoo Pajama Blouse, $753; Trippin Pajama Pants, $461; Insects Nibushiki Bomber Jacket, $607.

So, how did she find her inspiration? “Get lost! Japan is extremely safe—don’t just follow your GPS or a friend’s recommendations—look for your own path.” And, of course, the cherry blossoms, says de Betak: “They had so much influence on my collection that I named my daughter after them.”

Here, de Betak shares her advice for anyone planning their next trip.

Where to Stay

“The Luxury Collection hotels are such unique and cherished expressions of their locations. Both The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho and Suiran (Luxury Collection) in Kyoto have impeccable service, amazing locations, and had beautiful kimonos waiting for me in my room upon arrival—I ended up wearing each lovely garment throughout my travels. I love sticking to one brand of hotels while I’m traveling, as it makes transitioning between locations easier and you know what to expect. The Prince Gallery is very conveniently located next to the Imperial Palace, as well as the famous Takeshita Dori. Suiran sits by the river, an idyllic location right next to the bamboo forests and close to the main temples.”

Sofia Sanchez de Betak at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo wearing a kimono from her room at The Prince Gallery.

Where to Shop

TokyuHands in Shinjuku, Tokyo. I could spend an entire day there—you can find anything and everything. Mandarake Shibuya in Tokyo has all sorts of collectible items, from monsters and books to Indie movies, and Cow Books in Aoyama, Tokyo has a great selection of literature. Unby Store is cool for hardware tools and supplies, and Kappabashi-dori in Tokyo between Ueno, and Asakusa is an entire neighborhood for kitchen supplies—pots, knives, you name it! Shiga Prefecture in Kyoto for ceramics. [I also collect] a lot of matchboxes from bars and restaurants—I bought a gorgeous vintage collection of matchboxes [on this trip], which is where I got a lot of ideas from.”

Where to Eat

“I love doing a lot of research, and going to restaurants that have won prestigious awards, but in order to get a table in those places you normally need to book months in advance, which unfortunately is rarely an option for me, since my trips tend to be more last minute. Instead, I end up walking around and exploring the area, walking down different alleys, and opening random doors until I find the best gems! I stumbled upon Midnight Cafe, 528 on Yamato Oji Dori in Kyoto—a wonderful place to stop for a bite.”

Inside a pottery shop in Kyoto, where de Betak and her husband experienced the Surian’s arts and crafts experience class that can be arranged for guests.

Go Off Grid

“I’ve been to Japan four or five times and on this last visit I focused on having fun. As I’d already done most of the museums, temples and iconic sights, I decided to do more creative and off-the-grid things, such as visiting the electronics neighborhood, or shopping for kitchen utensils. You end up understanding a lot more the local culture that way.”

The Chufy x The Luxury Collection capsule is exclusively available on and the

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May the Forks Be With You: This Is the Star Wars Dinnerware You Didn’t Know You Needed

It must be tough being arguably the most influential movie series of all time. With countless websites and message boards dedicated to picking apart individual movies, scenes and moments, it might seem that there’s nothing left to see after you’ve watched the original Star Wars trilogy for approximately the one millionth time. But you’d be wrong.

Despite the fact that fans and viewers have obsessed over A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi since the films were released in the late 1970s and early ’80s, there are still some awesome details to look out for when you marathon the movies for Star Wars Day.




Unless you’re an eagle-eyed Star Wars superfan, viewers of 2017’s The Last Jedi might have been a bit confused about the importance of Han Solo’s dice, which were used as a reminder of the fallen smuggler. The prop only appears in a single scene in the 1977 original—and no characters even mention them—but they popped up again in The Last Jedi. Rumor has it they’ll make an appearance in the upcoming spinoff movie, Solo. But if you want to see where it all began, look above Luke and Obi-Wan’s heads in the scene where they’re in the Millennium Falcon cockpit, marveling over the size of the Death Star.


When Luke and the rest of the X-Wing fighter pilots are getting debriefed about the size of the small exhaust port design flaw before their attack run on the Death Star, a disbelieving Wedge Antilles tells Luke, “That’s impossible, even for a computer.” To which the young Skywalker responds, “I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.”

It turns out, we get a glimpse of the scourge of Tatooine’s womp rats earlier in the movie. Luke is seen playing with a small toy version of the T-16, while the real deal is parked in the garage behind him.


You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley, but you will still find a beloved fan favorite character who only appears in the Expanded Universe. One of the most popular non-canon stories, now called Legends, was the 1996 novel Shadows of the Empire, which spawned a popular video game featuring the Han Solo-esque mercenary Dash Rendar. In a change made for the 1997 Star Wars Special Editions, you can see Rendar’s ship, the Outrider, blasting off in the background of the decrepit spaceport as Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids drive through the city streets.


Was Luke always a Force ghost!? That might be one fan theory too much, but an image early on in A New Hope gives the spooky theory some credence.

In an establishing shot of the Lars homestead on Tatooine, when Uncle Owen looks for Luke after he goes searching for the missing R2-D2, a ghostly image of Luke can be seen in the top right corner of the hovel. Does this mean Luke has been dead all this time? Probably not. To save costs on film, Lucas inserted a still image that unwittingly featured a hidden Mark Hamill.


Among the first behind-the-scenes stories you learn about as a Star Wars fan is the infamous stormtrooper who hits their head on a Death Star blast door in pursuit of Luke and Leia. The second thing you could learn about the blunder is that it was a bad case of having to go number-two that caused actor Laurie Goode to bonk his head.

“On about the fourth take, as I shuffled along, I felt my stomach rumbling, and ‘bang,’ I hit my head,” he told The Hollywood Reporter of the infamous scene. “As I wasn’t moving too fast, it was more of a scuffed bash, so it didn’t hurt, but as no one shouted ‘cut,’ I thought the shot wasn’t wide enough for me to be in frame.”


The young mastermind behind the Star Wars saga got his start in another, very different sci-fi story. His debut, THX 1138, told the Orwellian story of the titular character trying to break free of a drug-regulated dystopian future. It’s decidedly dour stuff, and it’s perhaps no surprise that Lucas found greater success with Star Wars. But he never abandoned his first movie. The number “1138” can be found sprinkled throughout various parts of the saga.

In A New Hope, Luke tries to fool the Imperial guards by telling them Chewie is a prisoner transfer from cell block 1138. The full title of Lucas’s debut is extremely difficult to see, but can be found on a computer monitor behind C-3PO when he and Artoo are trapped in the Death Star hangar control room.

In The Empire Strikes Back, General Rieekan orders Rogues 10 and 11 to station 3-8 on Hoth, and in Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia has “1138” painted on the helmet of her Boushh disguise.


A Biggs/Luke reunion scene before the Death Star attack run was added for the Special Edition of A New Hope, but that’s not the only thing added in the scene. Lucas included a hidden wipe when an extra walks in front of the camera as a way to hide part of Red Leader’s original dialogue, which stated that the veteran pilot had previously met Anakin Skywalker. This detail would have been a continuity error with the then-upcoming Prequel Trilogy. You can see the wipe based on R2-D2’s position in the top right corner of the frame.

Red Leader’s original dialogue in the script was, “I met your father once when I was just a boy, he was a great pilot. You’ll do all right. If you’ve got half of your father’s skill, you’ll do better than all right.”


George Lucas’s saga was known for revolutionizing the concept of a lived-in future. But what about a retroactively recycled future? The head of the droid bounty hunter IG-88, who along with a handful of other mercenaries like Boba Fett is tasked by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back, can be seen as a lamp structure in the cantina scene in A New Hope. A similar droid can be seen awaiting incineration on Bespin.




Star Wars sports some of the most distinctive and memorable designs in cinema history. Besides Lucas, the two people perhaps most responsible for those iconic looks are concept artist Ralph McQuarrie and designer and special effects artist Joe Johnston. While their creations—like the Millennium Falcon—speak for themselves onscreen, the pair appear in the same shot onscreen as well.

Lookout for Johnston as the Captain telling a pair of Rebels about the escape plan on Hoth, while McQuarrie can be seen hurriedly walking from right to left.


The harrowing Hoth attack sequence is capped off onscreen with an Imperial AT-AT exploding and tipping over. The sound effects and triumphant music really sell the scene, but a slightly hidden detail reminds you that the sequence was painstakingly created using detailed models. If you look at the bottom right of the smoldering AT-AT you can see a small rod nudging the model over to sell the supposedly massive machine falling on its side.


The tactile nature of The Empire Strikes Back’s special effects in 1980 made it so you couldn’t just push some buttons and input CG to create rousing sequences like the asteroid field chase between the Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters. So when they needed asteroids, special effects whizzes like effects cameraman and eventual Return of the Jedi visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston went to the grocery store.

“We had to shoot all these asteroids flying everywhere, so, just for laughs, we went out and bought a bunch of potatoes at the local store,” Ralston said. “We stuck those on rods and we started shooting potatoes, but not telling anybody … They look pretty much like rock; they’re just smoother and go flying by the cockpit.”


Actor Jeremy Bulloch landed the role of Boba Fett after his half-brother—The Empire Strikes Back producer Robert Watts—asked him to audition. But being the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy isn’t Bulloch’s only role. An actor dropped out on the day he was supposed to play an Imperial officer avoiding Luke and escorting Princess Leia through Cloud City, so Bulloch jumped in as a quick day-of replacement.


Disney acquired Lucasfilm over three decades after the release of The Empire Strikes Back, but anybody who watches the climactic I-am-your-father battle between Luke and Vader on Cloud City could have anticipated the house of mouse and Lucasfilm’s destiny together. As Luke and Vader battle near a window, which is eventually smashed by the Sith lord, the three-circled silhouette of Mickey Mouse can be seen in a Bespin workstation in the background. It seems the creators of Empire just wanted to get into the Hidden Mickey game.


Before Lando Calrissian escapes with Leia and Chewie at the end of Empire, the trio head to the bottom of Cloud City aboard the Millennium Falcon to save Luke, who is dangling from some space scaffolding. Instead of creating a full-size portion of the Falcon showing actor Billy Dee Williams emerging to save Luke, a miniature panel and a custom-built Lando puppet was created using soft foam and papier-mâché to sell the effect. The Lando puppet can be seen in a split-second shot right before Luke drops down into the Falcon’s open hatch.




While you could chalk this one up to your ears playing tricks on you, it does seem like the Ewoks listening to C-3PO turn to each other and say, “That guy’s wise.” While we can’t detect any other Ewok Anglophiles in Return of the Jedi, we can say the rest of Ewokese is based on Tibetan, Nepali, and Kalmyk languages spoken in Asia.


While we can vouch for his job as director of Return of the Jedi, we can’t vouch for filmmaker Richard Marquand’s allegiance to the Empire. You can spot Marquand as one of the AT-ST pilots who yells, “Get him off of there” when Chewie and a few Ewoks try to steal the Imperial machine on Endor. You might also recognize the director’s Welsh accent as EV-9D9, the torturous droid at Jabba’s palace that assigns Threepio and Artoo to Jabba’s sail barge.


From the hum of the lightsabers to Artoo’s squeals, sound designer Ben Burtt is responsible for the iconic sound effects that make up the Star Wars universe. But the guy who has given this onscreen galaxy some memorable sounds also has a cameo. He plays Imperial Colonel Dyer who catches Han Solo and the group of Rebels attempting to blow up the shield generator, only to be pushed off a ledge. 

“I had the opportunity to play a very minor part in the film as an Imperial officer,” Burrt said in the Return of the Jedi audio commentary. “In the Endor power station, who jumps out from behind a wall, at the power station, and holds a gun on Han Solo then gets hit with a toolbox and then falling into a generator room below. And my big line was ‘Freeze!'”


During the climactic lightsaber battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the evil Sith lord has a phantom lightsaber. You can see Vader holding Luke’s distinctive laser sword while taunting him aboard the Super Star Destroyer. This little continuity error can be chalked up to a deleted scene: When Luke hides under the platform, he was supposed to drop his lightsaber and roll it over to Vader as a way to make peace. Vader picks it up, creating the shot that stayed in the movie. A form of the deleted scenario actually made its way into an early Return of the Jedi poster when the movie was still called Revenge of the Jedi. On the poster, Luke can be seen wielding a red saber, while Vader has a blue one (though Luke wields his own custom made green saber in the final movie).

All screen shots courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Additional Sources:

The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, by J.W. Rinzler

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded Edition, by Daniel Wallace

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HomeGoods to open May 20





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United States Outdoor Kitchen Accessories Market Report 2018

The United States Outdoor Kitchen Accessories Market report available with provides an in-depth knowledge and insight of the Market. The data from the past and current year is collected, sorted and analyzed to build a future prospect of the Market covering the next seven years. The Outdoor Kitchen Accessories industry experts were interviewed worldwide to collect the data which is then validated through secondary data.

The report includes production data, consumption data and revenue data across regions. The Market share and growth rate is also mentioned for all the major regions. Major Market players/ manufacturers are also covered in the report. The production data, pricing, revenue data and their Market share is individually analyzed thus, providing the complete understanding of the competitive landscape of the industry.

The findings of the report assist in deep understanding of the Market trends along with assisting in decision making with respect to geographical expansion, capacity expansions or identifying new growth opportunities.

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The report provides a basic overview of the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The Outdoor Kitchen Accessories market analysis is provided for the United States markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, and key regions development status.

Development policies and plans are discussed as well as manufacturing processes and Bill of Materials cost structures are also analyzed. This report also states import/export consumption, supply and demand Figures, cost, price, revenue and gross margins.

The report focuses on United States major leading industry players providing information such as company profiles, product picture and specification, capacity, production, price, cost, revenue and contact information. Upstream raw materials and equipment and downstream demand analysis is also carried out. The Outdoor Kitchen Accessories industry development trends and marketing channels are analyzed. Finally the feasibility of new investment projects are assessed and overall research conclusions offered.

With 152 tables and figures the report provides key statistics on the state of the industry and is a valuable source of guidance and direction for companies and individuals interested in the market.

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A High-end Turntable, an Affordable Skillet for Serious Cooks, and More Gear We Love This Week

We get to test a slew of different gear for our job—and for our everyday life. Here, with no particular theme, are the pieces of gear we love this week. We think you will, too.

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Seattle Biscuit Co. goes from food truck to brick-and-mortar in Frelard

Sam Thompson first opened Seattle Biscuit Co. in 2012 with a gleaming white truck, snappy blue logo and a uniform that included pressed white shirts and bow ties. Now that truck has translated to a snappy little space along Leary Way in Frelard, complete with blue-and-white gingham shirts, mismatched dinnerware, a full bar and — finally — fried chicken.

“When we built the truck, we built a space in it for two fryers; we just never put the fryers in because it just scared me, the thought of driving around with fryer oil,” says Thompson.

The desire for non-movable fryers and a full bar has been going strong for more than three years, and Thompson’s had the space on Leary (which was most recently The Way Station) for over a year. A scroll through the restaurant’s Instagram shows him jackhammering the existing foundation May 2017 and pouring a new one in August. Although he worked with a contractor, Thompson did much of the finish work himself, from the tile wall that anchors three large chalkboard menus to tables made from old bowling alley lanes. A full outdoor patio should be up and running soon.

The menu: All the old truck favorites, such as the Che — a biscuit sandwich stuffed with egg, bacon, ham, Beecher’s and apple butter — alongside new offerings like fried chicken, waffles and skillets layered with tomato stew and pickled okra. Sides include collards, mac ’n’ cheese, coleslaw and grits. Drinks run the gamut from coffee (with free refills), orange juice and Cheerwine soda to Bloody Marys and bourbon, with plans for a Southern-focused cocktail menu coming soon. Thompson says he also hopes to have a regular dessert menu.

Don’t miss: The Gus, a fluffy biscuit sandwich stuffed with fried chicken, pickles and sweet onion mustard, smothered in sausage gravy. It’s impossible to tell just how crispy the fried chicken is after all that gravy, but it’s got great flavor and manages to be incredibly well-balanced and satisfying.

The End features a plate coated with a hefty puddle of cheesy grits, stewed collards, pickled red onion, a fried egg and pulled pork, dotted with hunks of fried bologna. There’s a lot going on — but there’s just the right amount of textures and sweet/savory/sour-ness to keep you digging your fork back in for more. The hearty portion comes with a mini biscuit, perfect for scooping up every last bit of grits.

The plates are quite filling, but if you’ve got room grab a side of mac ’n’ cheese featuring classic elbows in a creamy, mild white-cheddar sauce made even better with a glug of the house-made pepper sauce (peppers and whole garlic cloves macerating in vinegar) sitting on every table.

What to skip: There’s not much sweet on the menu — save for The Nuptial Flight, a biscuit drenched in honey and butter, topped with a sprinkle of salt — but get those biscuits with gravy and wait for the real dessert menu.

Prices: Lunch with a Gus ($14), The End ($14), The Nuptial Flight ($5), and a side of mac ’n’ cheese ($5) totaled $38 and proved to be more than enough for two.


Seattle Biscuit Co.
Southern; 4001 Leary Way N.W., (Frelard) Seattle;; open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.; closed Tuesdays

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Fiesta time: Isleta Resort & Casino giving away cars, dinnerware

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Isleta Resort and Casino has a fiesta of fun planned this May and beyond.

The casino is giving away a 2018 Ford Fiesta vehicle at 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday this month. Enter to win cash and qualify every Friday through Saturday through June 9. Guests will receive one free entry daily. Patrons can earn additional entries with every 25 points earned playing slots, table games, poker and bingo. Guests also are eligible to swipe at the kiosk on Tuesdays for a chance to win up to 1,000 additional tickets.

Isleta is giving its guests a chance to step into the cash machine and grab cash in the Whirlwind Money Machine every Sunday through June 3. Drawings will be held every hour from noon to 8 p.m. for a chance at up to $3,000.


Spruce up your dinnerware with a Fiesta plate set. There are five colors of plate sets throughout the promotion. Stop by Isleta on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through May 31 to earn a set. Earn 300, 800, 1300, and 1800 points playing your preferred Isleta game. The promotion lasts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day while supplies last. Guests can earn up to four sets each week.

Isleta is celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, May 5, with some festive entertainment. Patrons who did not get their tickets to the sold-out Little Joe y La Familia concert on Saturday can still commemorate Cinco de Mayo in Isleta’s Triple Seven Saloon. Enjoy live entertainment from the Daniel Solis Band and drink specials from 7 p.m. to close.

Isleta and its sister nonsmoking location Palace West are celebrating Mother’s Day by giving away plants beginning at 8 a.m. May 13, while supplies last. Earn 250 points playing slots, table games, poker or bingo to be eligible to receive a plant.

Moms also can celebrate their special day during “Mother’s Play Free Bingo” on May 13. Head to the Bingo Showroom for a buy-in that pays up to $500. Also, patrons who spend $5 will receive a Mother’s Day dauber.

Guests who visit Isleta or Palace West on Memorial Day, May 28, will receive a hat, while supplies last. Hats will be given away beginning at 8 a.m.

Isleta’s Bingo Showroom will commemorate Memorial Day with a special Monday evening bingo session at 6:30 p.m. May 28. The showroom is offering “$2 Red, White and Blue” games that pay $200, $300, or $500 in cash. The bingo showroom will be closed Saturday, May 5, and May 11.


Palace West is holding its “Hi-Lo” promotion from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through June 7. Guests have a chance to win up to $250 in cash or in free play. Patrons qualify when they earn 25 points before each drawing by playing any slot machine or table game using their Isleta Eagle Players Club card and they are sitting in the hot seat.

Isleta’s Poker room continues its “Poker Hot Seats” promotion. Hot seat drawings will take place every hour from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. There will be $50 in chips given away during each drawing. Be part of the “Black Chip Payoff” in Isleta’s Poker Room. Guests will have a chance to collect black chips with each pot won. The player with the most chips in one hour will receive the black chip payoff.

For more information on Isleta Resort Casino and Palace West, call 724-3800 or visit

Got a tip on your favorite casino? Contact Rozanna M. Martinez at or follow her on Twitter@RozannaABQ.

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