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Archive for August, 2010

Let’s Read A Book!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We’ve been talking about it for a long time… creating a TAHC’s Book Club.

A lot of you have written in saying that you’d like to read a Hawaiʻi-themed book and be a part of a reading community.

The summer is drawing to a close. September starts, um, TOMORROW! Kids are heading back to school. It seems like the perfect time.

So let’s stop talking about it and let’s get reading!

For the first book, I’m suggesting Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s WILD MEAT AND THE BULLY BURGERS.

I read it years ago. It is a book that made me stop and think. It made an impression, for sure. I think it’s time to open it up again!

Who’s with me?

We can touch base in the middle of the month. I’m thinking Thursday, September 16th. A check-in. A way to let you know how far I’ve gotten in the reading. And, more importantly, a way for YOU to tell me (and the gang!) how YOU’RE doing with the book. How you feel about it at the month’s mid-way point. (And we can discuss a new title for the month of October!)

And then, of course, we can do another check-in at the end of the month.

Sound like a plan?

Come on! You know you wanna do it!

You might be able to find it at a local bookseller. However, because I love you guys and I want to make this as easy as possible, I’m including links to the book at various online sellers, too! (The various websites have reviews, book descriptions, etc. And a lot of ‘em have discounted copies for sale!)

Native Books

Amazon.com

Barmes & Noble.com

Borders.com

So whatcha think? Who’s with me??

**Crooner Update: If I remember correctly, there are some part of this book that weren’t very–well–”pretty.” Like I remember feeling a bit nauseous at times. But there were other parts that made me laugh out loud. Consider yourselves warned. (ha!)

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A Case of the Mondays

Monday, August 30, 2010

What is it about a Monday that is so stressful?

Is it because it’s the start of a week? Is it because we are more aware of the pressure to get things done over the upcoming days? Was today even MORE stressful because it’s the end of a month/start of a new month?

Instead of the Monday Blues, I usually have the Monday Panic Syndrome!

And today was no exception.

I woke up this morning and headed to my desk to do my daily writing practice. The coffee was brewing away in the kitchen. The sun was streaming through the windows. It looked like it was going to be a perfect day.

And by the time I was finished with my writing session, I was totally stressed out.

I had started making a list all of things that I needed to do.

And the list grew.

And grew.

And grew.

And before the coffee had even finished brewing, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of things that NEEDED to be done. A panic had settled in my chest.

And then the panic made me feel like I was paralyzed. There was simply TOO MUCH to do. And instead of calmly looking at the list and picking projects to work on, I just saw the ENORMITY of the list and froze. I was completely stuck. (I wanted to run back to the bedroom and hide under the covers!)

So you know what I did, right?

I went and picked up my ‘ukulele.

And then I strummed. At first, I just strummedt the Hawaiian vamp that opens so many of the Hawaiian songs. A simple chord progression. But that lead to a full song. And another. And another.

And before I knew it, 15 minutes had passed. And so had my stress-induced paralysis.

That little instrument makes me smile. Its sound, which is a delight to my ears, helps to bring me back to the present moment. And the physical act of strumming helps to take me out of my typical “OH-MY-GOSH-I-HAVE-SO-MUCH-TO-DO-AND-IT-WILL-NEVER-GET-DONE-THEREFORE-I-MUST-BE-A-COMPLETE-FAILURE” cycle that runs through my head and brings me back to the physical body. The “real” world.

Yup.

Those four simple strings worked their magic on my world today.

They’ve helped me battle the case of Monday Panic Syndrome that I was facing. So far, I’ve crossed a lot of things off of my TO DO list. And I’m still smiling.

Right on.

Are Mondays hard for YOU? What do YOU do when you get a case of the Mondays? I’d love to hear from you…

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Aloha kākou!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 3 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Kīkaha Mālie (Chris Yeaton’s recording on the album Kīkaha Mālie)

This is one of my favorite pieces that my good friend and gifted guitarist, Chris Yeaton, has recorded. A stunning guitar solo.

He is such a talented musician! A student of John Keawe and Keola Beamer, his music prowess never ceases to amaze me. This song, the title track from his 2003 album, is a killer! It sets the tone of the album and succeeds in painting pictures with sounds… like a seabird gliding along peacefully.

Today is Chris’ birthday. Please join me in wishing this excellent musician HAUʻOLI LĀ HĀNAU!

And please check out his page at Woodsong Acoustics Group.

**Crooner Update: Chris’ album IS available on Woodsong Acoustics Group website!

2. Wahine Uʻi (Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenaders’ recording on the album, The Wandering Troubadours)

I love this song! And I can’t get enough of Andy Cummings’ version. Pure delight. I think his falsetto and lyrical voice are both fantastic. And the way that this song bounces along, well, it makes me grin. I can picture a dancer helping to illustrate the song’s lyrics about a woman’s beauty with her hands, body and face. Makes me want to be in Waikīkī right now.

In the research I did, I found discrepancies, of course! It’s credited to two different people: John Kameaaloha Almeida and Johnny Noble. Let’s face it–studying Hawaiian music is a lesson in learning to say “Okay…” as you hear different versions of each story. To this listener, it’s not as important WHO wrote it. I’m just glad SOMEONE did!

3. In A Little Hula Heaven (Darlene Ahuna’s recording on the album Bridge Between Generations)

This crooner classic, written for the 1937 film Waikiki Wedding, is such a gem! And Darlene Ahuna’s version of it is perfect–simple and bright and lively and light. You can’t ask for better than that.

I’m kind of “hooked” on this song. I’ve been singing it all over the place as I make my way around NYC. I wonder what the people on the street think as I’m walking around singing it. Ah… who cares?! It makes me smile!

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!!

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A Glimpse into Hālawa Valley

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

halawa valley molokai cleaning taro

Cleaning kalo (taro) for poi in Hālawa Valley, Molokai (Summer 2009)

Because sometimes a pictures says it all…

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An Acoustic Life?

Monday, August 23, 2010

I’m always obsessed with something. An object… An idea…

And I’m currently chewing on this: the thought of living a more “acoustic” life.

Is something like that even possible??

Here’s the backstory: I spent Sunday afternoon with a friend while she went on a hunt for a manual typewriter for a project she’s working on. Cool. We ended up a flea market at a vendor’s booth who sold manual typewriters. (Note: I LOVE MANUAL TYPEWRITERS!)

I knew I couldn’t even allow myself to put my fingers on the keys. I would have been too tempted to buy one–and my finances just won’t allow that at this moment. Just being there was an exercise in resisting temptation! Such willpower! I kept having to remind myself that I was there to observe and consult.

It was heaven to stand there and listen to folks poke at the keys. That all-too-familiar CLACK as they strike the page. A musical sound, indeed.

She wound up with a beautiful typewriter from the late 1930s. I’m kinda jealous. (OK… I’m TOTALLY JEALOUS, but jealousy is just so… so… uncouth.)

But what does a manual typewriter have to do with living an acoustic life?

Bear with me. I’m getting there…

Afterwards, a group of us were talking about how much we love the “old school” ways of doing things.

I started thinking about how much I love “unplugging” in my world. I love the idea of talking to someone face-to-face instead of relying on email to connect us. I love the idea of writing things by hand instead of relying on a computer screen. (Note: The notes for every blog post are written by hand on loose leaf notebook paper.)

I love playing an acoustic ʻukulele instead of an electric guitar.

There’s something really romantic in the idea of unplugging. Of living more “acoustically.”

But the truth is… we’re totally a PLUGGED-IN society.

At least I am.

I wake up to a digital alarm clock. I use electric lights instead of lighting my way with candles and oil lamps. I brew my coffee in an electric coffee maker instead of heating water over an open flame. All of that “techno-stuff” in just the first five minutes of my day!

I depend on technology for so many things!

I wouldn’t be able write this blog every day without technology!

But there are times when we need to UNplug. Right?

Put the hand to the pen to the page instead of the fingers to the keyboard?

Grow something green instead of relying on the supermarket?

Is it possible to UNPLUG more and more?

I can’t get enough of traditional/”classic” Hawaiian music. And most of that would DEFINITELY count as “unplugged” or acoustic music.

I LOVE playing at a backyard kanikapila (Hawaiian-style jam session) with a circle of musicians. Everyone sharing a song. Everyone making music together. The intimacy of gathering like that just can’t be beat. But here’s the funny thing: when I play for large groups at a venue, I love to use my ʻukulele that is able to be plugged in to an amp. And I love to use a microphone in those situations–less “wear and tear” on the vocal cords.

Ah! So many contradictions!

What is about the acoustic things that I love?

Am I acoustic-centric in my heart and techno-centric in my actions?

I don’t have the answers. I’m just exploring this. (Ok–I’m obsessing about it. The thoughts are just going around and around and around.)

What are YOUR thoughts on living a more “acoustic” life?

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TAHC’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aloha kākou! Here’s this week’s question:

What female singer popularized the classic (and comic!) “Hawaiian” song, WILL YOU LOVE ME? (WHEN MY CARBURETOR IS BUSTED)?

Hint #1: The song was recorded in 1967.

HInt #2: The artist is also known as “Hawaii’s Singing Cab Driver.”

  • Please post your answer as a reply to this message.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm EST.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update:

The answer I was looking for was Myrtle K. Hilo. However, I opened up a website and saw that Hilo Hattie is also credited with having recorded this song. While I can’t find source album/record that she might have recorded, I’m totally willing to concede that it’s also correct. As a non-Hawaiian, I’m not a definitive source. I’m learning as we go along, as well!

So… I gotta give credit for BOTH answers! (At least until someone proves me wrong! Ha!)

Congrats to both Mary and Nani. (And Carolyn who had trouble accessing the page on the web.)

Mahalo to all of you for playing along this week. I hope you’ll play again next week!

Happy Weekend!

A hui hou…

jason

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