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Archive for December, 2010

On The Road Again…

Thursday, December 23, 2010

cat driving a car

Thomas the Cat thinks he'll be driving. (I don't think so...)

Today is a TRAVEL DAY!

We’ve loaded up the car with Christmas presents for the family, a couple of suitcases, an ‘ukulele–and lots of good music!– and we’re heading out on the open road.

See you all on the blog tomorrow for TAHC’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE!

Aloha Po’ahā! Happy Aloha Thursday!

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The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ (12.22.10)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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. Nā Kuahiwi ʻElima (Clyde Halemaʻumaʻu (Kindy) Sproat’s recording on the album NāMele Kupuna)

I love Uncle Kindy’s voice and singing style. It’s like being in Hawaii–sitting and singing after dinner by the firelight. A true “old world” style. He plays an 8-string ‘ukulele and strums it like generations have strummed it. Nothing fancy or flashy. It replicates the beat of the ipu (gourd drum).

This song, written by the prolific Helen Desha Beamer, describes the five mountains (nā kuahiwi ʻelima) that can be seen if one travels from Hilo to South Kohala on Hawaiʻi Island. (Note: It includes being able to see Haleakalā on the island of Maui–easily visible across the channel.)

Uncle Kindy opens this legendary album with this song. It’s welcoming and friendly and all around wonderful.

2. Beautiful Kahana (Alfred Aholo Apaka’s recording on the album Hawaiian Wedding Song)

A beautiful Hawaiian standard. On this recording, Alfred Aholo Apaka (aka The ULTIMATE Crooner) is joined by Rosalie Stephenson making for a dreamy duet. The song is a wonderful example of a crooner classic and illustrates the luxurious, sweeping melodies of the time.

I’ve often seen the song credited to Mary J. Montano–who was said to have written the song as as a gift of thanks. (I’ve also read that the music was composed by Charles E. King.)

It’s beautiful. And so lush!

3. Mele Kalikimaka (Genoa Keawe & Her Hula Maids’ recording on the album Santa’s Gone Hawaiian )

This song is a Christmas classic!

And can it get any better than having a vintage recording of Aunty Genoa Keawe singing it? It’s PERFECT!

It was the first version of the song that I heard–so it will always remain in my heart as the DEFINITIVE version. (Yup. I like it more than the very popular Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters’ version.)

**If you’re looking for some great vintage Hawaiian Christmas music, this whole album is fantastic!**

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

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Aloha gang.

I know there are a lot of folks out there that have a rough time during the holidays. Me, too.

And I’ve got three words for you:

HANG IN THERE.

It seems like everything is more intense during the holidays. The good AND the not-so-good.

But history shows us that this period passes, too. Time waits for no one–and it will be over before you know it.

For those rough times, I offer up the following:

Log the Joy:

This was one of the most helpful practices I’ve ever learned. Take a minute to write down things that are good. Yup, for real. Write ‘em down. Because when things are tough, you’ll need to see it written down to believe it. And it’s WILD to see things that make you happy–especially when it’s written IN YOUR OWN HANDWRITING. It proves you’ve have the capacity to be happy. Do it. It works. (Note: It helps to write the good stuff down when it’s happening or right afterwards. When times are rough, it can be tough to remember the good things, you know?) (Click HERE to read more.)

Take a Strum Break:

I’m not a doctor. I don’t know what it does to the brain from a physiological standpoint. (I wasn’t even a very good biology student back in high school!) But I know that there is something powerful in the sound of those four simple strings. If you have an ‘ukulele, go ahead and pick it up. Now give it one strum. Then another. No need to play a song. It doesn’t matter what chord you play. You can even just strum open strings! But strum. (Kind of like putting one foot in front of the other–but I think this is a lot more fun.) (Click HERE to read more.)

What if you don’t have an ‘ukulele? Make some music. Use what you have. Snap your fingers. Bang some pots and pans. It’s good!

Show Up and Say “YES”:

When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to curl up in a ball and become a hermit. Find a reason to leave your “cave.” Get out there. Make a commitment to be somewhere. And then Show Up and Say “YES”–and be there. It’s like telling myself, “Hey, I know I’m in a slump right now, but I still have places to be.” (Click HERE to read more.)

It’s not easy.

The holidays are rough for a lot of us. But beautiful music and simple practices can help to make the season a little bit easier.

And before you know it, the worst will be over.

This, too, shall pass…

Hang in there, friends. Hang in there.

How do YOU beat the holiday blues?

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Every year, I treat myself to a “new” Hawaiian holiday album.

(Not necessarily a recently released album, but a NEW album for my music library!)

And the tradition in our home has always been popping the album on the CD player as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is finished. (When I was growing up, we always said the Christmas season “officially” begins once Thanksgiving was finished and the dishes were put away. But since I’ve lived on my own, I never wait for the dishes to be clean–I like to listen while I wash!)

This year, the holiday season got off to a late start–at least, for me.

I don’t know where the time went! It seemed like it was mid-July and then the next day, it was December 1st! Auē! I only recently ordered my CD of the season from mele.com. But thankfully, it arrived the other day. Just in time!

But we still haven’t even OPENED the new CD yet. Why?

Well…

For Christmas, we’ll be heading to Pennsylvania to see the family. That spells R-O-A-D T-R-I-P.

And let’s face it: road trips can feel like they last forever–especially when you’re faced with long stretches of highway. Especially when you’re faced with pre-holiday traffic. That’s why my partner-in-crime always pack a lot of good music. And it’ll be awesome to have something NEW to listen to!

This year’s Hawaiian holiday album selection is… (Drum roll, please…): Christmas Time with Eddie Kamae & Sons of Hawaii

I’m looking forward to really exploring this album. Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii are such an important part of the Hawaiian music scene–without them, we would have lost so many wonderful song “treasures” that were disappearing as Hawaiian elders were passing away. Uncle Eddie has worked tirelessly to preserve that music. He perpetuates a classic style of Hawaiian music–one of days gone by. So I’m sure this holiday album will be fantastic.

Last week, I wrote about one of the songs: Christmas Memories.

Written by Uncle Dennis Kamakahi, the song is sung is from the viewpoint of an elder, looking back on the Christmases of his lifetime. I first heard it heard the song when it was released on another album, Kī hōʻalu Christmas. I loved it.

I love the song’s lyrics. They call to mind images of Hālawa in my mind. And acting as a beautiful container for the lyrics are the song’s simple structure and uncluttered instrumentation. Perfection.

So I looked at the other songs on the album and I realized it was a no-brainer: THIS was going to be 2010′s holiday selection!

I can’t wait to unwrap the cellophane and pop the disc into the player as we head out on the open road. Let the holidays begin!

What kinds of “musical traditions” do you have in YOUR home? I’d love to hear from you!

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TAHC’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

What is the English name of the volcanic cone located near the eastern edge of Waikīkī’s coastline on the island of Oʻahu?

Hint #1: It’s Hawaiʻi’s most recognizable landmark.

Hint #2: The Hawaiian name for this place is Lēʻahi. (And it’s sometimes called Kaimana Hila.)

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

Will YOU be this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: You guys (and gals!) continue to amaze me. True story!

The answer is, of course, DIAMOND HEAD!

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly by the technology of www.random.org, is… (Drum roll, please…) DARA! Congrats, Ms. Dara! Your’re this week’s TAHC’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA SUPERSTAR!

And.. Aunty Carol made a great point that I don’t want to ignore: There are incredible (and VERY RECOGNIZABLE) landmarks on ALL of Hawai’i's islands. Diamond Head, however, holds the title as the “most recognizable”–due, in part, to it’s constant presence in the media. I don’t mean to take anything away from the other islands and their spectacular natural features. Mahalo, Aunty Carol, for being an ambassador for Hawai’i Island (aka the Big Island)!

Mahalo to all of you for taking a moment out of your busy Aloha Friday to take part in the challenge.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

A hui hou…

Jason

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Aloha gang!

Let’s face it: the holidays are rough. Period. And this week presented me with so many additional challenges! Auē!

Earlier in the week, I wrote about Fighting the Proces s–and how I realized that I was my own worst enemy when it came to being productive.

And then…

I misplaced (or–gasp–LOST!) something that’s really important to me. In the “big picture” it’s not a big deal, but… I lost a flash drive that has a lot of information/work on it.

No one died. No one got injured.

But my “old” self would have FREAKED OUT!

Like a dog searching for a bone, I would repeatedly tear the house apart, searching everywhere. Over and over. I’d revisit every place I’d been in the city to see if I’d left it behind. Over and over.

And I DID freak out when I realized it wasn’t in its usual place last night. And I DID start tearing the house apart like a madman.

And then I “woke up.”

I mean, that’s what it felt like. All of a sudden, I was looking at a very messy apartment and I still didn’t have the precious flash drive in my hands.

And that’s when I said, “Ok… that’s not going to work.”

I know my old routine very well. And I also know NEW & IMPROVED ways of dealing with the “stuff” that life hands us.

For example: I know when things get rough, I probably need to just sit down and pick up my ‘ukulele and take a “strum break.” The sound of those four simple strings–coupled with the gentle action of strumming lovely chords–has an almost instantaneous calming effect on me.

And I know that I need to sit down and log the joy when I start to feel pessimistic.

And I know that I need to remember that “things” are just that–THINGS. And like everything else in life, they’re temporary.

I needed to interrupt the cycle. I needed to stop and be present. And I like the “new way” better.

When I saw the sun this morning, I thought to myself, “This old cycle just doesn’t work. And the “new stuff” does! And it’s a lot more fun.”

And you know what?

Instead of hyperventilating, I laughed!

My teacher–and hānai dad, Pops–is great at reminding me how UNimportant things are. When we’re in Hālawa Valley, we work with what we have available to us at that moment. Having a lot of “things” is a burden in the valley. And I can’t imagine trying to describe what a flash drive is to him! Or how a simple piece of plastic and metal could be so important. I know he’d laugh…

So I have some new coping skills. And some new perspective on the situation.

Does it make the thought of the flash drive being “gone forerver” ok? Nope.

Does it make it easier to deal with? Yup.

Oh! And here’s something cool: While I was taking a “strum break” a thought popped into my mind. Instead of tearing the house apart all at once, I can SYSTEMATICALLY search each of the rooms. Kind of like they do on all of the crime scene television shows. I can’t make a grid in my apartment, but I can take it all one piece at a time. (AND… doing it that way means the whole house won’t look like a cyclone hit it! Bonus!)

How are you guys coping with the holidays? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!

**And HAUʻOLI LĀ HĀNAU to my good buddy, Wendy! (Life is better because you’re in the world. True story.)

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