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Saturday, April 30, 2016

THE MOST MEMORABLE SONGS FROM THE ORIENT

Let us go back to the Summer of 1963 when out of nowhere Kyu Sakamoto's Sukiyaki hit #1 on the Billboard 100, and stayed at the top for three weeks.  Why?  No other Japanese song had ever tracked on Billboard, and 53 years later, there has not been another.

Japan was finally recovering from the devastation of World War II, but there was constant rioting by Japanese students exhibiting dissatisfaction about America's continued presence in the country.  Interesting now that they want us to stay.  Tokyo was a year away from hosting the 1964 Summer Olympics.  Anyway, the song evoked the hope for a fresh start:

Walking along, looking up, so that the teardrops won't flow out of my eyes / I look back on a spring day on this lonely night / A good fortune is beyond the clouds / A good fortune is beyond the sky / So I'm looking up and I'm looking forward, imagining that good fortune in the future.

The problem in the USA was that the whole thing was sung in Japanese and no one had the faintest idea what it meant.  Says how much lyrics dominate over words in songs  The Japanese title means I Look Up When I Walk.  Has nothing to do with food.  Here is the English translation.

In 1985 when he was 43 Sakamoto boarded Japan Air 123 at Haneda.  It never made it to Osaka, for 12 minutes into flight part of the tail of the Boeing 747 ripped off and the passengers endured 32 minutes of agony before the plane crashed, killing 520, the deadliest single-craft accident in history.  Amazingly enough, four survived, and here is an account of what happened.  I had a friend who was just late for this flight and insisted on being let on.  They denied him, so at the gate he wrote an official letter of protest.  He still has it.


The only Japanese song that was composed in Hawaii and became popular in Japan is Francis Zanami's, Wakare No Isochidori.  That album above can be purchased from Amazon.com, used, for $1.96.   Click HERE to access all the songs from the Club Nisei CD. Amazon sells the CD to the left for 99 cents.  There is something to this song that brings tears to my eyes...but I don't know why.  Zanami's Hawaii hit became popular in Japan in 1952. Unfortunately, three years earlier, a heart attack killed him at the age of 34.    He is the third person from the left in the top row below.



I had to find this photo because there are several reports that he died at the age of 44.  However, as shown above on his gravestone at the Moiliili Japanese Cemetery, he passed away in 1949 at the age of 34.

Another song that I sometimes ask the Mama-san in Japanese karaoke bars to sing is Ginza Kan Kan Musume (here by Jane Itai, neeJane Yoshino) of Hawaii.  The original was sung by Hideko Takamine in 1949.  She came from Hakodate and was considered to be the Shirley Temple of Japan.  The movie version of Takamine (right) with Shizuko Kasagi.      

Without  a doubt the all-time #1 song in the world, from South Korea, by Psy, is Gangnam Style.  It was released on 15 July 2012, immediately hit #1 in Korea, by November of that year passed Baby by Justin Bieber as most watched video, and when I clicked on today, made me the 2,565,138,956th viewer.

Baby is not quite yet up to 1.4 billion, and has fallen to #9.  #2 is, not kidding, Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth from the Furious 7 Soundtrack at almost 1.7 billion.  So I spent many minutes going down the list, and saw at 282 Whtney Houston's I will Always Love You with 256 million, at 387 Michael Jackson's Billy Jean with 209 billion and #700, Weird Al Yankovic's White & Nerdy  with 105 million.

Here is an Obama impersonator, Prime Minister David Cameron's parody, and again...and Psy teaching Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon how to dance to that tune.  When I visit Seoul next month, I'm staying in a next generation hotel which will allow me to catch the elevator to the basement, get on Line #2, quickly taking me to Gangnam, where I will buy a few shirts.  I live an exciting life.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

GOLD AND PURPLE?

15 Craigside has a Photography Club, inspired by Irene Zane and guided by professional photographer Scott Kubo of the Honolulu Museum of Art, once known as the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  The Museum is 89 years old and has a 50,000 arts collection.  I once lived across the street.  We do things like have a photo-shoot at the Honolulu Zoo, where my most impressive photo was of this mother crane (note her egg):


We get together for lunch once a month on a Sunday.  Our assignment for this Sunday is to pick an object in our environment.  We are today surrounded by the blooming Gold Tree, so that will be my focus:


The taller building behind 15 Craigside is 2101 Craigside, where I lived for 32 years.  That is Sanju Pavilion to the left.

As many of my readers know, the Gold Tree has appeared on numerous occasions in this blog site, including this past Sunday.  That is because when my wife Pearl passed away I went around the world trying to identify it, but it turned out that her sister in law Gwen, who works at a biological park, found the answer.  So I decided to try to plant some of them.  I wondered why she loved this tree, and I think stumbled across the reason.  Growing up, she went to Hilo High School, and there is a giant Gold Tree close by, as shown here to the left.

So on her second celebration of her life the family planted a Gold Tree on Mauna Kea because every morning growing up she could see this tall mountain from their kitchen:


Alas, it did not do well at all.

However, I bought a hundred of these saplings and gave them away to her friends on the Big Island, plus a copy of the yellow-colored SIMPLE SOLUTION ESSAYS in her honor.

Then, I thought, maybe golf courses would like them.  So, working closely with Councilman Dennis Onishi (in the middle to the left) of the Big Island, both the Hawaii and Honolulu County City Councils approved planting these trees in tribute to Pearl.

Here below at the Hilo Municipal Golf Course:


The Ala Wai Golf Course ceremony was organized by Garrick Iwamuro (Honolulu C&C Golf Course Administrator, left in the above photo with Councilman Onishi, who, I might add is Pearl's cousin):


KHON2 covered the event, and even Kelly Simeck did some shoveling.

Then two days ago I heard that some Gold Trees were in bloom at the Ted Makalena Golf Course, where 20 or so Gold Trees were also planted, so off I went to play there.  Between the 7th and 8th holes are these blooming Gold Trees.


However, I chatted with the course administrator, Chad, and he thought these might have been planted earlier.  Anyway, someday our municipal golf courses will be filled with yellow flowers in April.  At Makalena, I happened to also see this cousin of the Gold Tree, a Tabebuia, which was purple:


The flower shape and size of the two trees are identical.

When I made the decision to follow through with the above, I also thought about the Jacaranda, because Pearl also admired them, and this flower comes with a particularly fragrant aroma.  Coincidentally, when we planted Pearl's Gold Tree at the Hilo Municipal Golf Course, there was already a large Jacaranda right adjacent.

As the Gold Tree appears to be having difficulty growing at the Ala Wai and Makalena Golf Courses because of high saline soil, perhaps I'll someday follow-up with Garrick to try some Jacaranda.  Jill Wagner of Future Forests Nursery:  how will Jacaranda's do in a slightly salty environment?

I dropped off Pearl's ashes at the airport at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, where Jacarandas were in abundance:


Jacarandas can be found in Kona:


This one is supposedly a hundred years old.  When I drove up to Haleakala to view the sunrise, I noted a lot of Jacarandas in bloom:


Perhaps, then, to Pearl's Gold Tree will someday be added Pearl's Purple Tree.  Not a bad combination, for these are the colors of LSU:


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

GLOBAL CRUISE 2018: Step 2

As I approach one million visitors to this blog site from 219 countries, I continue to wrestle in my mind as to when I will end SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY.  One option has always been the day I reach 1 million.  If so, E-Day will be occur next month.

When I began writing for The Huffington Post, I wanted to post 100 articles before retiring.  They don't pay people like me for these contributions, you know.  I lost count and ended up with 102.

What has been disappointing about this site is that I have failed in my attempts to find Simple Solutions to Save Planet Earth and Humanity.  My energy and environment topics generally do not draw too many visitors.  Clearly, there are no simple solutions.  Anyway, this year, for example, here are the top seven (you can link to these by clicking on them):

Not sure what those numbers stand for, but the relative size must indicate something.  No global warming, no solar energy, no substantive subjects that reflect my training and experience.  What tends to do well are food and travel.  #2 on Purgatory was my attempt at humor in religion.  #1 was my announcement to the world that I am considering a 120-day world cruise beginning in January of 2018, but that I can't afford to pay for the entire cabin (there is always a double occupancy requirement for these monumental extravaganzas), so is there any eligible female somewhere out there who might be interested in paying her way to join me on this odyssey?  


There has been some interest, and a small list is forming.  I've suggested a phased series of interactions, and the very first person interested in Step 2, a lunch or dinner meeting to discuss what is involved occurs in ten days at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Waikiki.  If all goes well, there will need to be a Step 3, which would be a short cruise to see if we are compatible.  If only one individual makes it this far by early next year, well, that would be an easy decision.  We would need to select the cruise line, and they all tend to depart in January, mostly from Florida.  

Anyone interested in gaining more information should, of course, go to #1, but also look at my posting on around the world options from November of last year.  Cost?  Anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000.  There are more expensive world cruises, but, once I endowed my apartment to the University of Hawaii, that limited my affordability quotient, which is why I can't absorb the cost of a companion.

How would you initiate interest?  You can comment at the bottom of this posting.  Or, if you want privacy, e-mail me at PatKenTak@hotmail.com.  The matter of keeping this trip confidential could also help determine when I terminate this blog.  If the individual who wants to join me is open to being an active part of this site, then, I could well continue until the end of that global cruise two years from now.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

HAWAII: BEST OF THE BEST???

I picked up a copy of HAWAII magazine yesterday at Whole Foods.  I once subscribed to HONOLULU magazine, but never heard of HAWAII magazine.  Where have I been?  Hawaii has been around since 1983, for this issue, Best of the Best, was Volume 33, Number 2.  I did a bit of checking and learned that it:
  • is Hawaii's only national/international magazine.
  • has the largest paid circulation (68,000) of any magazine in the state 
  • has 200,000 readers/issue (comes out every two months, for $15-$20/year)
  • is owned by PacificBasin Communications, which also publishes HONOLULU magazine (35,000 paid circulation) and Hawaii Business
According to the magazine, the winners were selected by readers.  Something is clearly questionable, for Maui, with only 10% of the state population, got most of the awards.  For example:
  • Best Mid-range Hotel or Resort:  Sheraton Maui
  • Best Budget Hotel:  Kaanapali Beach Hotel
  • Best Boutique Hotel:  Travaasa Hana
  • Best Hotel or Resort for Romantic Getaway:  Travaasa Hana
  • Best Hotel or Resort for more than 5 nights:  Sheraton Maui
  • Best Vacation Time Share Property:  The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
  • Best Hotel or Resort Spa:  Grand Wailea (right)
  • Best Hotel or Resort Pool:  Grand Wailea
  • Best Hotel or Resort with the Best Aloha Spirit:  Kaanapali Beach Hotel
  • Best Hotel or Resort Staff:  Kaanapali Beach Hotel
  • Best Golf Course:  Kapalua Resort 
  • Best Luau:  Old Lahaina Luau
  • Best Dinner Cruise/Sunset Sail:  Trilogy Maui
  • Best Annual Agricultural Festival or Fair:  Maui County Agricultural Festival
  • Best Zoo or Aquarium:  Maui Ocean Center
  • Best Surf Instruction Company:  Goofy Foot Surf School Maui
  • Best Wedding Spot:  Grand Wailea 
  • Best Beach for Hanging Around:  Kaanapali Beach
  • Best Island:  Maui
  • Best City or Town:  Lahaina
  • Best Restaurant costing more than $61/person:  Mama's Fish House (Paia)
  • Best Restaurant costing from $30-$60/person:  Duke's (one on Maui)
  • Best Restaurant for less than $29/person:  Duke's (also includes Maui...which is confusing)
  • Best Place to Get a Plate Lunch:  Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina
  • Best New Restaurant:  Frida's Mexican Beach House Restaurant (Lahaina)
  • Best Seafood Restaurant:  Mama's Fish House (Paia)
  • Best Restaurant for Breakfast:  The Gazebo Restaurant (Napili, yes, on Maui)
  • Best Farm to Table Restaurant:  Merriman's (one of Maui)
  • Best Romantic Restaurant:  Mama's Fish House (Paia...now, this is getting crazy)
  • Best Hotel or Resort Restaurant:  Duke's Beach House Maui
  • Best Japanese Restaurant:  Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar (one of Maui)
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant:  A Saigon Cafe (Wailuku)
  • Best Noodle, Saimin and Ramen Restaurant:  Star Noodle (Lahaina)
  • Best Deli:  DC's Deli and Diner (Kaanapali)
  • Best Pizza Restaurant:  Flatbread Company (Paia)
  • Best Craft Beer Pub:  Maui Brewing Company Brewpub (Lahaina)
Okay, how did a reputable company like PacificBasin Communications allow this to happen?  Clearly, some group or individual on Maui organized this effort.  I've been to most of those places above, and think some of them are fine.  BUT BEST IN HAWAII?  Heck, no!!!  I'll need to someday talk to AIO, which is the publications arm, and was founded by someone I know, Duane Kurisu.



For example, Honolulu has its annual Hale Aina award for Best Restaurants in the State of Hawaii.  You can speculate that write-ins (which would be the equivalent of 6th place or so) from Maui made some minor inroads:
  • Best Service:  Lahaina Grill
  • Best Sushi:  Sansei
  • Best Overall Japanese:  Sansei
Mind you, Maui restaurants here and there did well in this Honolulu list:
  • Best Wine Program:  Lahaina Grill got Gold for #1
  • Best Place to Take Visitors:  Mama's Fish House (Gold)
  • Best Seafood:  Mama's Fish House (Gold)
Also, the Best Maui Restaurants are:
  • Lahaina Grill (Gold)
  • Mama's Fish House (Silver)
  • Merman's Kapalua (Bronze)
  • Katana Kitchen (Finalist)
  • Star Noodle (Finalist)
  • Da Kitchen (Write In)
The Honolulu Star Advertiser has an annual Hawaii's Best, plus their Ilima Awards, but Maui hardly is mentioned in the former and the latter focuses on Oahu restaurants, with a Neighbor Island add on.

In short, I'm truly disappointed with this latest issue of Hawaii magazine.  Or, maybe, I need to re-visit Maui.  Read my experience when I spent the weekend there three years ago.  This one was bizarre, but worked out fine at the end.   And my breakfast view of Lanai from my Sheraton Maui room, the Best Mid-Range Hotel/Resort in Hawaii.


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