Archive for May, 2011

About United, McDonald’s, Oprah, Combs and more...

May 31st, 2011
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It’s mixed bag today — thoughts about this ‘n’ that:

United We Stand:
That United Airlines-Continental Airlines merger, still being tweaked, means some imminent changes for Island fliers. My immediate discovery, as a regular summertime commuter to Broadway: United has retired the longstanding flight numbers for its Honolulu-Chicago and Chicago-Honolulu runs: for years, I’ve book United 2 from HNL to ORD, which now is United 0249, then connect to LaGuardia; the return United 1 segment now is United 0233. Auwe, not as convenient, as flight nmbers go.
And: Chicago, United’s key hub for decades, is losing ground to Houston, which is becoming a busier hub, part of the effects of the consolidation with Continental. I’m learning this, flying first to New Orleans, for a few days. To get to New York, there's a stopover in Houston — via Continental.

I’m Lovin’ It:
Have you tried McDonald’s summer time refreshment, the savory and sweet-and-sour-y lemonade-strawberry offering?
It’s like a slurpee — the tartness of the lemon, marrying the sweetness of strawberry — and yummy.
And whoa, a bit of Island McDonald's history has been demolished. The first-ever Hawaii McDonald’s, located in Hawaii and kind of a tired dinosaur compared to other more recent Ronald McDonald emporiums (it never touted a McCafe, for instance), has been razed and replaced with a 21st century McD on the townside end of the parking lot. It's a hollow tile facility, punctuated with an elongated yellow arch and striped yellow awning, which has become the standard of all redeveloped and new sites. Think Kaimuki, Waiakamilo, and Pearl Highlands.

Things to remember:
For future trivia fests, May 25, 2011 will be a date you shouldn’t forget. That’s when Oprah Winfrey’s final daytime talk show, which had a 25-year run, finally shut down with that confessional-thankya format seen by about 17 million viewers (13.3 households). Talk shows will never be the same...
For future conversations or references to Puff Diddy, who was Sean Combs when he guested on “Hawaii Five-0” earlier this year: His name is now Swag. So P. Diddy, Puff Daddy and all the rest won’t cut it...
For future viewings of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” starting this fall: No more Chris Meloni as Det. Elliot Stabler, who's opted not to sign up for another season. Mariska Hargitay (Det. Olivia Benson), who has partnered with Meloni since 1999, will be joined by a not-yet-named replacement. But “Ghost Whisperer” Jennifer Love Hewitt is being mentioned as a series regular. (Wish I could insert that L&S sound effect here — I think it’s called the “doink”) ...

Hawaiian Air debuts Eddie Kamae’s ‘Li'a’

May 30th, 2011
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I have the utmost respect and admiration for Eddie Kamae, the veteran Island entertainer- turned-film-maker, who has shared his admiration and respect for his kupuna and peers in a number of ways over the decades.
In his latest triumph, Kamae’s important and revealing documentary, “Li‘a: The Legacy of a Hawaiian Man,” literally goes soaring up in the skies, when Hawaiian Airlines begins airing the hour-long award-winning portrait of one of Kamae’s heroes — Sam Li‘a, an old-time force and resource of Waipio, on the Big Island — with June and July screenings. The carrier’s in-flight programming on out-of-state flights will focus on Kamae and "Li'a."
The film, first released in 1988, marked Kamae’s debut as a director of projects with uncanny Hawaiian warmth and depth. With wife Myrna Kamae as a producer and James D. Houston as a writer, “Li‘a” chronicles Lia’s hitherto unknown journey as a true hero of Waipio, the go-to guy that only the privileged knew about, whose tale blended mystery and magic with roots entrenched in the riches of the valley in Waipio.
As a prelude to the documentary, cinematography Dennis Mahaffay has produced a sterling intro that will precede the film, originally a VHS entity now available on DVD (www.mountainapplcompany.com/eddiekamae), in the Hawaiian Air presentation.
With Jon de Mello, CEO of Mountain Apple Company, interviewing the formidable Kamae, whose film-making endeavors has matched, or surpassed, his musical contributions with his Sounds of Hawaii group “Li‘a” takes on new life and is clearly a testament to Kamae’s personable and trusting interviewing style, in accessing ancestral wonders like Li‘a, who — because of respect — would open up and reveal the astonishing lifestyle “careers” of their time.
“I heard about this Hawaiian composer, named Sam Li ‘a,” Kamae says. Pukui tells him where and how to find him, en route to Waipio, and off a road.
Kamae tells de Mello of the historic meeting with the poet: “I was guided by him, from that day on.”
Sam Li‘a Kalainaina (1881-1975) shared volumes of memories about people, places and elements of Waipio ... that emerged in his music, his poetry.
“Sam Li’a was never famous and he had no desire to be,” says Kamae. “He was a man of an older time and an older place; a man whose music and whose life was filled with the spirit of Hawaii ... a man of aloha.”
“Li’a” was a Best Documentary Film winner in the 1988 Hawaii International Film Festival.
Now, Kamae is proud that travelers hither and yon can learn about this gentle but powerful voice — whose spirit lives through his works. And the success of the Li’a project coupled with Kamae’s
dedication and mission to track down histories of his kupuna and his elders, has yielded
other documentaries with through Kamae’s work with the Hawaiian Legacy Foundation Series.

The waiting game: What’s up, doc?

May 29th, 2011
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Have you played the waiting game in your doctor’s office?
Today’s topic has nothing to do witha show or an entertainer, or some form of entertainment.
It’s about going to your doctor’s office, only to sit and wait for 20 minutes or more, before finally getting to see him or her.
I’ve heard complaints from family and friends and that’s a red flag: everybody waits, even if you have an appointment time.
What’s up, doc?
Overbooking, causing the backup? Clock’s not working, so no one pays attention to the time?
The general scenario:
Your appointment is at 8:10 a.m., so you arrive five or 10 minutes earlier, depending on your commute. You make it there only to wait, anywhere from12 to 20 precious minutes, in the reception room. When your name is called, you are shown to the examining room, only to wait five or more minutes before the good doc enters.
Why?
Is it a practice to book two or three people per appointment time? Seems there are two or three people waiting, when you first arrive, and they methodically go into the chambers, while you wait your 20 minutes until being called.
I can understand the backup by 10:30 a.m., but early in the morning? What happens if you have a 4 p.m. slot? How many are ahead of you? How long is the wait?
I deliberately took a 1:30 p.m. appointment for another doctor, the first after his lunch hour, and I still had to wait. Twenty minutes in the reception room, another 8 to 10 minutes inside the examining room. Once, nearly an hours, since he was otherwise engaged in an unexpected surgery.
Since doctors commonly have four to six examination rooms, imagine the chain reaction: somebody else is waiting, waiting, waiting, too.
I’ve not had this kind of issue with a dental or eye visit, since there’s no intermediate waiting space, so the shuffle in and out is a lot easier and more efficient.
Have you had comparable experiences with your waiting game?
Doctors, tell us why. Please?
Patients, what’s your take on this? Do you deliberately go late, so you don’t want the extra long wait in the office? Do you simply grin and bear it? Have you switched doctors because of this?

Buddy Fo: Isle sensibilities, Mainland romanticism

May 25th, 2011
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Buddy Fo had a heart problem he didn’t know about; it’s a condition he discovered about five years ago, when he had first heart attack, but didn’t tend to the issue.
Then he suffered a second attack, a third, and a fourth.
“He barely survived the third one,” his wife Sammi told me after Buddy died April 30 at age 78.
The fifth attack happened April 29, when Sammi rushed him to the ER in Kona, on the Big Island. But he needed to be air-ambulanced to Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
“I begged him not to ‘go’ (die),” she recalled about the last attack and the airlift.
“I remember him smiling. I kissed him,” she said. “I didn’t go with him (to the hospital). I turned back one more time and told him, ‘Call me first thing in the morning.’”
His call never came; the one that came brought the dreadful news: Buddy had died at 2:30 a.m. the next morning in his sleep.
“At least he didn’t have to suffer,” said Sammi. “No coma, no paralysis. And he gave me five years in the end.”
Buddy (real name, Allen Newton Keaweleiohawaii Fo) was the beloved leader of The Invitations, the Island group launched by Fo and his partner-in-music Sonny Kamaka in the post-Statehood Hawaii of the 1960s. The sound was the thing — the rich four-part harmonies emulating The Four Freshmen, the Four Aces, and the Hi-Los — and Buddy also admired the delicate falsetto of Hawaii’s jazz fave, Richard Kauahi.
The Invitations sound was a mixture of Island sensibilities with Mainland romance and nostalgia, and the repertoire was an equal blend of haole hits and local ditties that were by-products of a national surge fueled by the “exotica” music launched by the late Martin Denny.
Now Fo and Denny must be pumping out joyous music in the great tavern in the sky. Must be with Don Ho humming at his organ, too.
Known for tempoed, danceable hits like “Malia My Tita” and “Goin’ Out of My Head,” Buddy Fo and The Invitations were among the first local vocal-instrumental groups to record an album for a Mainland label, Liberty Records, on the Mainland. Remember, Denny and his prime era colleague, Arthur Lyman, were instrumentalists, painting pictures of an exotic paradise with riffs, notes, chimes and gongs — no lyrics.
At one time in Waikiki, Buddy Fo, Don Ho and Kui Lee were perking up and shaping the musical profile for local troupers, thanks to exposure via the Mainland labels — Ho was on Reprise, Lee on Columbia. Ho, of course, was the central figure to lure throngs of visitors to Hawaii because of Statehood, because of filmed-in-Hawaii shows like the Jack Lord “Hawaii Five-0” vehicle.
And Las Vegas had a role in the emergence of Buddy and Sammi Fo.
“He was the love of my life,” said Sammi, who met Buddy in Vegas when he was there performing at the Sands Hotel with Mr. Exotica Denny and she was performing in “Flower Drum Song.”
Denny was the keyboarder with assorted gongs and exotic percussion instruments, with some bird calls for atmosphere, accentuated on his national hit, “Quiet Village,” and Buddy played with Denny along with such local musicians as Frankie Kim and Augie Colon.
Though music was a large part of his life as an adult, on Oahu, on Maui and on the Big Island, Buddy wasn’t keen on a musical career as a youth. He was good in sports; he was a beachboy; he excelled in high school football; he might have had disdain for show biz because his dad put him luau shows when he was 5.
“He didn’t like music as a kid,” said Sammi. “He was an outstanding football player and athlete, and very active in sports. “But when he entertained, he was so much fun to watch.”
Married for 47 years, Buddy and Sammi were like Spam and eggs — an inseparable combination.
While he was skilled in vocals, he initially played congas; when the couple relocated to Montana, after “retiring” from Waikiki, he learned to play ukulele and taught her how to man the congas.
The couple briefly relocated in Montana to be close to their son; they lived and traveled in an RV for five years.
By the time they returned to Maui, where they lived and worked for the next 30 years, they had the elements of an act. Buddy and Sammi both sang and played instruments; and she was also a hula stylist, known to interpret and explain the story behind her chosen hula, an uncommon art.
So they found residency and success at the Maui Tropical Plantation, where their audience included a mix of locals and tourists, young and old alike for a decade. Buddy also had a Maui radio show.
They learned some of their show biz creds during their Vegas tenure; Sammi said Buddy earned some of his stripes watching the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra on the legendary Sin City strip.
For a spell, Buddy worked with Don Ho at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. Buddy and Sammi also played at the Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian.
But the high cost of living in Honolulu prompted them to relocate to Ocean View, Big Island, where Sammi still resides.
Buddy earned a Lifetime Achievement Na Hoku Hanohano Award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts in 2003.
“He was strict in music; everybody had to sing in key, every instrument had to be in key. He had a good ear for music,” said Sammi about Buddy’s work ethics.
Few knew that Buddy was proficient on a 4-string Martin guitar, an instrument like an ukulele, but larger and with a narrow neck. “Buddy picked up an inexpensive one on the Mainland and acquired another one here,” said Sammi.
At the time of his death, he was in the midst of securing a custom-made Buddy Fo Martin ukulele with larger neck, made by a Big Islander. “He was so looking forward to having a Buddy Fo ukulele instrument made especially for him,” said Sammi.
Because his dad called him “my little Buddy,” the name stuck.
Earlier services were held May 21 at the Ocean View Community Center.
“Buddy was a party guy,” said Sammi. “He loved to have a good time, and he loved to drink. So we’ll hold a celebration of life to remember him, not a funeral service.”
The gathering will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday (May 26) at the Elks Club.
A service, with music, will be from 10 to 11 a.m.
The house band will include his buddies from the music community: Imaikalani Young, Greg Kaneaiakala, Gordon Alafapada, Brickwood Galueria and Benny Chong.
Besides wife Sammi, survivors include sons Allen, Derek “Ricky” and Kanai; daughters U‘ilani Roberts, Mikilani Wykes and Aloha Fo; brothers Henry “Chubby,” Talbot and Nolan George, and Teddy Imbleau; sister Sally Crowell; seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

BUDDY FO CELEBRATION OF LIFE

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday (May 26)
Service, with music, from 10 to 11 a.m.
Elks Club

‘Phantom’ seeks youths; premium ticketing set

May 24th, 2011
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Ronald E. Bright will direct Paliku Theare’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” to be staged at the Windward Community College stage, starting Sept. 9; this will be the first community theater production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber success that now is the longest-running Broadway musical.
And because of expected demand, the theater has launched a “premium” pricing for prime seats for the first time.
“Phantom” is no stranger to Island theater audiences. School groups like Punahou have earlier staged academic productions of the megahit; of course, touring companies have graced the Blaisdell Concert Hall in a couple of extended visits, and box office triumphs, in the 1990s.
It’s bound to be an ongoing favorite, as a new generation of spectators discover the piece. Further, the score boasts such riches of music (“The Music of the Night,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Think of Me,” “Masquerade,” “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”) and the production will emulate some of the expected technical wizardry.
Yes, there will be a falling chandelier, and the Phantom’s lair poses some challenges since repeat visitors will remember the wow factor of the earlier legit presentations.
Some things you ought to know about this outing:
• Auditions are open to the community at large, but because a college is producing the show, high school and college students (not a requirement to be enrolled at WCC) are the target for casting, with minimum age for participation at 16. Exceptions may be made but youths are particularly desired. Open auditions will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 27 and 28, with no roles precast, so anyone with hopes of becoming the Phantom or Christine, or any of the secondary roles, start prepping up a Broadway tune in a belt/chest voice. In other words, you need to project and let it all out in your audition. Songs from the show may be utilized; bring sheet music for non-“Phantom” titles, since an accompanist will be provided. No a cappella singing, or karaoke tracks.
• Because of the ballet element, trained dancers are also sought: seven female, two males. Special auditions for the ballet contingent will be at 6:30 p.m. June 29. Female dancers should bring pointe shoes and don appropriate dance attire (leotards, tights). Men should wear comfortable dance clothing.
• Ticketing and pricing adjustments have been formalized by Tom Holowach, Paliki Thatre manager, with prime seats going at a premium price for all performances. These seats, in Rows A to E (five center rows, at the start of the stadium seating configuration), will be priced at $49 regardless of age. All other seats are $35 for adults, seniors and military, or $30 for children. All $49 seats for the Sept. 10 show already are sold out.
• Curtain time will be 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, from Sept. 9 through Oct. 9.
• In anticipation of demand, reservations are already being accepted at www.eTicketHawaii.com and the box office, 235-7310.
The creative team will include Clarke Bright, musical director; Lloyd Sandy Riford, set designer; Evettte Allerdings, costume designer.
Information: 235-7310.

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