Archive for June, 2012

The iPhone is 5 today, so happy, happy birthday

June 29th, 2012
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Today is the iPhone’s fifth birthday.
Are you privately celebrating?
I’ve owned one for five years, retiring the original model just last month, for the newer iPhone 4S.
This gizmo has changed my life, and I treat it as a work-oriented friend. I selected a while model and secured a silver cover that offers good trip.
My iPhone number is the one I publish with my columns, so I get a few Sunday calls from readers. It is an intrusion of Sabbath serenity, but what the heck: sometimes you get a hot tip, normally it’s a query about how to reach a certain somebody or where to buy tickets.
The iPhone has been a curious species.
I love it, because I can check on email with a simple switch-on. Because of its smallish screen, I can text back a reply instantly.
The iPhone is not for long, long messaging, however. I don’t thumb-type, like many with smart phones. I’m a pinkie typist, using the right wee finger to select keys to complete a word and message, my left hand holding the phone.
The phone is easy to use, but I’ve had a few problems in the past few weeks; when I was in New York, my access to messages and voice mails was blocked, so upon return home, I had to visit the Genius Bar at the Apple store at Ala Moana.
Bless them, the core of the Apple store; they are all wizards of the technology; I was not alone in seeking kokua; a few had computer problems, some iPad issues, many phone queries.
When you buy an iPhone, you can sign up for how-to-use-it classes. I never did, earlier and recently, and perhaps that’s my downfall. I need to know what to do for the service I need, and for the most part, I can exist and prevail without the course.
But perhaps I should sign up; there are worlds out there — maybe universes — that are beyond my realm.
For me, it’s basic; the phone rings, or buzzes, and I pick it up. If I am on the plane, there’s the airplane mode that shuts off the phone and records voice mail. If I’m bored, I can select games or input Google queries, or ask Suri a question.
Suri is the voice of wonder of the iPhone 4S, but she does not comprehend Hawaiian words or names. It’s chancy, to ask Suri to find someplace on Kamehameha Highway or Wailuku, Maui.
If you’ve tried, you’ve chuckled at the vast invalid entries you receive.
I’ve had Suri locate restaurants in New York, so perhaps she’s an East Coaster — familiar with the turf.
The iPhone has options to entertain; seek and you shall find.
Whatever.
The iPhone simply brings the world to your palm, if you know how to navigate its services. If you are obsessed about catching every call that comes your way, the iPhone can impact and even damage your life. I’m not in that breed. I rely on it for communicating, but don’t feel compelled to readily answer each call. That’s what voice mail is for.
I still have another vintage cellphone, with a second number, for family calls, and it does very little except ring and take a message. I love its simplicity, so I still keep it.
But iPhone and Suri can’t be beat.
Happy birthday, iPhone. I'll give mine five warm rubs.
If you have an iPhone vignette to share, please do so.

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'Honu by the Sea' bows July 4 at Royal's Monarch Room

June 27th, 2012
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Just when you think Waikiki is lacking in fresh new shows, along comes a homegrown musical prospect entitled “Honu by the Sea,” set for a limited summer run starting July 4, at the Royal Hawaiian’s Monarch Room.
With an ocean-front barbecue dinner option on the hotel’s Ocean Lawn, with Diamond Head as the backdrop, this sounds like a top tier destination. But you don’t have to have dinner to attend.
“Honu by the Sea” is a new endeavor by Johnson Enos, veteran Island actor, singer, composer, and songwriter, who is reuniting with his high school acting mentor, director Ronald Bright, to stage a family-friendly show exploring denizens from under-the-sea, encountered by a Waikiki beachboy who learns the value of friendship and the virtues of saving the ocean environment.
The cast features 15 singers and dancers, including Malia the Honu, played by Madison Eror (last seen as Meg Giry in Paliku Theatre’s “Phantom of the Opera”), and Zare Anguay (who played Bernardo in “West Side Story” at Paliku), as Kainoa the beachboy.
The Broadway-style musical tracks Honu’s journey to the Northern Hawaiian Islands to rescue her mother who has been trapped by ocean debris, with Kainoa’s kokua.
The other performers include Jessica Cruz, Bryce Irvine, Barry Quilloy, KoDee Martin, Meilan Akaka, Shawna Masuda, Carlos Chang, Miguel Cadoy III, Marlise Ahuna, Cara Nakagawa, Rachel Wong Nicole Enos and Christian Mendoza.
The show will run Wednesdays and Sundays in the Monarch Room, Waikiki’s premiere showroom. While it bows July 4, the hotel had previous bookings, so production resumes July 15 and continues through Sept. 30.
Enos, who wrote the original music and lyrics, is a onetime Hawaii performer and host, whose credits include production work with the likes of Bette Midler and Kristin Chenoweth.

‘HONU BY THE SEA’
Premieres at 7 p.m. July 4; resumes July 15 and plays 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays through Sept. 30
Premium dinner package, from 5 p.m; with dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; $125 for adults, $85 for keiki 3 to 12, plus tax
Regular dinner package, $95 adults, $65 keiki; plus tax
Show only, $49 adults, $35 keiki; plus tax
Reservations: 921-4600

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It’s ShowQueen time; Boy Beautifuls will strut

June 18th, 2012
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Hawaii’s most flamboyant pageant, where boys dress as girls, unfolds at 7 p.m. Saturday (June 23) at the Hawaii Convention Center’s Kalakaua Ballroom.
It’s the most astonishing event of its kind, noted for extravagant costumes (couture cocktail to Las Vegas showroom) and phenomenal performances (live singing and lip-syncing). It outshines most traditional all-women pageants.
Ten men, dressed as women, will parade, primp and strut, seeking the title of Universal ShowQueen, now in its 29th season. The Boy Beautiful phenom, reflecting the ultimate in the art of female impersonation, continues to attract global interest.
The finalists — five from Hawaii, five from the Mainland, Asia and Mexico — will try to outperform and outdo each other in a wave of inventive, extreme and edgy couture cocktail, evening gown, and Las Vegas Showgirl costumes. Talent often makes the difference, since only few sing live, while most lip-synch to pop hits.
The evening, with $10,000 in prizes, is a lot more glamorous and glitzy than conventional contests like Miss Universe or Miss America because of the transvestite twist. Not surprisingly, a sell-out crowd of 1,500 is anticipated.
It’s equally outrageously chic and often camp, and some competitors look convincingly like groomed and glamorous women.
I know; I judged last year’s event, when Dee Ranged (Robert Hopper took the honors, fueled by her dual personalities production: alternately singing like a he and a she, with split-down-the-middle make-up, costume and demeanor.
This year’s attraction will likely feature dances and reenactments of Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Of special note: Brandy Lee, one of the Islands’ enduring transvestite talents from the Glades era, will sing live as one of the 10 finalists. When most seniors have retired their showgirl gear, Brandy goes on and on and on.
There will be some stroll down memory lane, too. Kelly Ray, the 1992 ShowQueen winner known for her Diana Ross impersonation, will mark the 20th anniversary of her win with a guest appearance. Another veteran, Yoshiko Oshiro, who was the1987 ShowQueen, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of her victory with a performance.
Alakai’i, Maui’s popular deejay with a sense of humor befitting the ShowQueen vibe, should be as much of a riot as the contestants. Kawika Trask will guest-perform and Al Waterson will be the evening’s announcer.
Judges will be Kenny Choi, KITV news anchor; Edgy Lee, film producer; Tunei Tully, choreographer; Presten Meneses, Hawaii-born make-up artist for Janet Jackson; Angela Laprete, a producer with CBS-TV’s “Hawaii Five-0”; Brandie Cazimero, Miss Hawaii USA; and Jordan Segundo, entertainer who was the first Hawaii contestant on Fox’s “American Idol.”
Bonus: some members of the audience also will be decked out in feathery or rhinestoned finery, so not all action happens on stage.


29TH ANNUAL SHOWQUEEN PAGEANT

7 p.m. Saturday June 23; doors open at 6 p.m.
Hawaii Convention Center’s Kalakaua Ballroom
$40 and $60, at the door
372-9350, 927-2327

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Men of steel guitar set a festival today

June 17th, 2012
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Some of Hawaii’s top steel guitar wizards will stage the Third Annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival from 1 to 7 p.m. today (June 17) at the Plaza Stage of Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street.
Held as part of an ongoing Na Mele No Na Pua Music Heritage series at the site, the event is themed “Pakiko Ho’okani (Smooth Playing),” the festival will showcase the steely sounds by the pros, along with a steel guitar workshop and expo.
“The steel guitar community is thrilled to be back at Waikiki Beach Walk to showcase what Hawaiian Steel Guitar is all about,” said Alan Akaka, who carries on the tradition of perpetuating the vintage Hawaii sound of yesteryear as a active steel guitarist, entertainer, music teacher and director of Ke Kula Mele Hawaii, which is devoted to the growth and preservation of steel guitarmanship.“As the interest in the steel guitar continues to grow, it is our pleasure and privilege to be able to share this wonderful instrument and gift to all who would like to learn.”
Akaka will be joined by steel masters Greg Sardinha, Ed Punua, Eddie Palama, and Pomai Brown, along with next-generation performers aged 11 through 18, including Keen Aloysius Ching, Mark Prucha, Alexis Tolentino, Raven Young and Sidney Pang.

The schedule:
• Concert , 1 to 7 p.m. — Talent timetable to be announced.
• Clinic Workshop, 1 to 6:30 p.m– Fans may learn the basics of steel performance with a quickie lesson, at the Waikiki Beach Walk Studio on the second level.
• Steel Guitar Expo, 1 to 6:30 p.m. — Hands-on exhibit and demonstrations in the expo tent; discover the history and origins of steel guitar.
Admission is free.

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Without dad, Father's Day is all about memories...

June 17th, 2012
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It’s my first Father's Day without dad — and it’s a peculiar feeling. No family dinner gathering, no “best dad” card. Only memories remain.
Dad — Francis Y. Harada — died May 31 after struggling through some tough times.
Earlier in the month, he had been admitted to Castle Medical Center, where IVs and antibiotics “saved” him. For a month, anyway.
At 95, dad was a victim of old age. He had a strong heart, no other medical issues, and he’d wanted to live to 100, but it wasn’t in the cards.
Since mom died in July, 2004, he struggled with loneliness and companionship, and he dearly missed the home-cook meals she made. He insisted on living alone in an apartment they bought and paid for late in life, and managed to get through the days and weeks and months and years, with support from me and my sister.
He mostly lived on cherished memories.
He missed mom dearly, which is why he wanted to live where he felt her presence ...
until it reached a point where he was physically unable to get through the daily routines.
Oh, we’d go over with meals, help with housekeeping, laundry and cleaning, and retain some orderliness in his life. But he began to rely on a walker, refused to use the wheelchair we provided through his medical insurance, and it became obvious that he needed a caregiver.
Reluctantly, he agreed to move in with my sister and her family in Kaneohe last January. He adjusted nicely, but with age taking its toll, he started declining. In his last month, he had Hospice support, but couldn’t eat or drink anything because he had difficulty swallowing. That he lingered three weeks without nutrition or drink astounded the Hospice support team.
Dad was a simple man with a few words. He was never outspoken; his usual reply to a question, whether it was what he wanted to eat or what he needed from the drugstore, was “I don’t know.”
What he didn’t verbalize he “spoke” with action. He always supported the family, remembered birthdays, loved children and grandchildren, adored Misora Hibari music and TV specials, watched football religiously and enjoyed beer and wine.
When he was hospitalized for three days at Castle in May, I shared perhaps the happiest hour with him prior to his release. I had gone over to transport him to my sister’s home after his release; when I peeked into his room, his bed was empty, sending a wave of concern in my mind. So I rushed over the nurse’s station, where three of them were busy at computer terminals. I asked, “Do you know where my dad is?”
Two of them “pointed” with their heads and eyes, to the last nurse; there was dad in his wheelchair, chortling alongside the nurse.
“That’s my son — he writes for the newspaper,” he enthused, introducing me to them before I wheeled him to his room. That response brought a tear to my eye; and afterwards, he wanted to be wheeled to a corridor where he could feel the sunshine and see the mountain greenery and the hubbub of daily traffic.
He wondered about the weather, thankful for the warmth; he reminisced about people and issues regarding his work, from five or six decades earlier, and simply converted to a momentary chatterbox.
He was hungry, so we returned to his room, where his meal was delivered. By his standards, he consumed a lot — all pureed stuff, like potatoes, carrots and pudding. This would pretty much be his last meal.
Over the next week, his declining health made him a shell of a man. He uttered few words, nodded responses occasionally, and had some hallucinations, his reality blurring with his imagination.
My brother-in-law put dad’s collection of Hibari VHS tapes on the TV, which provided him a sense of familiarity; he often played these tapes over and over again while living at his apartment.
Once or twice, he mentioned mom; that he saw her; that she was calling. We told him it was OK to go see her.
But it took nearly three weeks for him to make that journey to the next world.
He is in a better place now, without pain or hunger or health issues. And he is with mom — his wish fulfilled.
He wanted private family services, so his cremated remains will be buried next to mom’s on June 30, completing his life’s his journey.
So Father’s Day is not the same. But we will properly toast him and mom with a family luncheon with his favorite food: Japanese.
Arigato and sayonara, dad, for all you’ve done for us and everyone who loved you. May you truly rest in peace, with our beloved mom.