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Saturday, December 3, 2016

15 CRAIGSIDE PAYS TRIBUTE TO HOKULEA

15 Craigside has an annual Holiday Variety Show featuring residents.  This year, Charlotte and her hula halau saluted the Hokulea and invited spiritual leader, Nainoa Thompson, who came with his twins, Nainoa and Punana.  Their mother is Kathy Muneno, TV anchor for KHON.

I first posted on the Hokulea World Tour on 30May14, and provided some details on Nainoa the following day, when the craft first left Hawaii on its world tour.  The ship, 62 feet long and 20 feet wide, is a replica of a Polynesian double-hulled (meaning there are two, connected by the flat living space) voyaging canoe.  It was launched in 1975, 41 years ago, and completed its inaugural trip to Tahiti (here arriving) the following year, using only Polynesian navigation techniques.  It does have a radio powered by solar panels.

The Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage began at the end of May in 2014:


Hokulea today is docked at the West Palm Beach Public Dock, Florida, having now travelled 140,000 miles in a little more than 2.5 years.  The schedule is tentative, but a return home will occur by the summer of 2017.  The canoe has succeeded in connecting people around the world, as for example, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with Nainoa on the Hokulea:

Here are some photos from our program last night.  When I arrived at the theater, I couldn't find any seat, looking from the back, and the whole Dining Room was available, so I decided to find a table with a view of the performances.   It seemed odd that I was the only one dining, but I had not yet had my dinner, so I ordered a saimin with all the trimmings and returned to my room to get a glass of Stanford Cabernet Sauvignon and bottle of Kirin Beer, which kept me occupied throughout the festivities.  Not an unobstructed view of the stage, but good enough, and while the sound was faulty, everyone else also suffered. 


The show started with Christmas carols, magic performances (here are two of the magicians, Wayne and George, at my dinner table), and hula performances (Violet and Charlotte).  Then the presentation ceremony for Hokulea, with Charlotte doing the honors.


Here are Violet and Charlotte, for I sit with them and their husbands for dinner more than anyone else.


I believe those are the heads of Eric, the association president, and Pepper.  The evening ended with Aloha Oe.  Charlotte's husband, Al, videotaped the whole program, so, someday, we might get to see the edited version.  For good reason, I guess, 15 Craigside discourages taking any video or photos of anything that occurs within the building--to protect personal privacies--so this posting could well be illegal.

But let me end with my lanai, which is not controversial.  First, note that the calamansi is no longer there.  I moved it inside.  The steak below is a result of my Wednesday posting:


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Friday, December 2, 2016

IS DONALD TRUMP BEGINNING TO LOOK PRESIDENTIAL?

Thomas Loren Friedman had an op ed about the November 21 lunch Donald Trump had at The New York Times, where Friedman is a weekly columnist. I've always found him to be thoughtful and reasonable.  He is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.  I remember reading his The Lexus and the Olive Tree around 2000 and The World is Flat a decade ago.

There was a choice of salmon or beef tenderloin.  Here, Trump with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr, publisher of the paper.  A quote from the attending reporters:

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday tempered some of his most extreme campaign promises, dropping his vow to jail Hillary Clinton, expressing doubt about the value of torturing terrorism suspects and pledging to have an open mind about climate change.



There are many decisions that President-elect Trump can and will make during the next four years. Many of them could be reversible by his successor. But there is one decision he can make that could have truly irreversible implications, and that is to abandon America’s commitment to phasing out coal, phasing in more clean energy systems and leading the world to curb CO2 emissions before they reach a level that produces a cycle of wildly unpredictable climate disruptions.

Especially during the election campaign, Trump and The New York Times were nearly mortal enemies.  Apparently, there has been a softening of hatred, if not maybe now even downright respect:



Media falsely spins Trump’s NYT climate comments 
Trump cited Climategate,
 restated skepticism of ‘global warming’

They said that the full transcript showed NO MODERATION of Trump's views on global warming.  Cited was the Heartland Institute agreeing with CD.  What is Climate Depot?  Well, it is a climate change denial website founded by Republican aide Marc Morano (left).  Heartland Institute?  I remember when I regularly wrote for The Huffington Post, I was troubled by one person in particular who kept condemning my views on this topic.  I did a trace and found out that person worked for the Heartland Institute, which is a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank.  

Way back in January Polizette picked Donald Trump's cabinet.  They were scarily right a few times, such as  Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis.  Yesterday, CNN thought Elaine Chao would be Labor Secretary, and she got to be head of the Department of Transportation.  CNN further thought that Sarah Palin might become Secretary of Interior, Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 9 possible candidates for Secretary of State, including Mitt Romney, 3 for Secretary of Energy, including Rick Perry and climate change contrarion Myron Ebell (left) as Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is heading that transition team.

If Ebell gets the EPA nod, forget about the rosy picture suggested by The New York Times.  In any case, at this very moment, Donald Trump is actually beginning to sound somewhat objective, if not uncharacteristically prudent, and, maybe, even presidential.

Tomorrow, maybe,  WHATEVER HAPPENED TO....

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

THE WORST RECORD ALBUM EVER SOLD

It was around two decades ago.  I was in Naha, Okinawa.  I strolled into a music store and asked if they sold a CD of old Okinawa songs.  I was particularly interested in the period soon after World War II, for I already had quite a collection, featuring original 78s (rotations/minute) of Misora Hibari (left) when she was young and the like.  (Listen to the final song Hibari recorded in 1989, who passed away soon after the release of Kawa No Nagare No You Ni, said to be the most popular song of all time in Japan.)

With high expectation, for I had paid $48 for two CDs, when I came home I played one of them.  When you're in a foreign country and don't speak the language, things can go wrong.  Somehow, the shop person thought I wanted music of prehistoric Okinawa.  The part about post World War II did not register.  I bought two CDs of almost constant wailing, with what sounded like a drum beat every so often.  $48!!!   These might qualify as the worst record album ever sold.

However, where I'm leading to is that incomparable musical couple, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards.  One of my Stanford roommates had an album of them, and when you listen to Cocktails for Two, or, It's Magic, surely, you say, these must be the worst ever.

Camply, it all began when Paul Weston, noted conductor and arranger, in the mid-50's entertained guests at Hollywood parties playing a piano off-key now and then to balance the prevailing supercilious attitudes.  In 1956 at a sales convention, Weston provided his rendition of Stardust.  Columbia executives encouraged him to record an album of similar melodies.  George Avakian, inspired by pianist Roger Williams sharing a name with a theologian, suggested Weston take on the name of Jonathan Edwards, a Calvinist preacher from the 1700s.  He agreed, but worried that he might not have enough material, so invited his wife, Jo Stafford, to help.  

They worked together in the 1930s, and when she was with The Pied Pipers (eight singers, including John Huddleston, her first husband) in the 40's backed with Weston's orchestra.  The Pied Pipers (then down to four) toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Frank Sinatra, providing back-vocals for his I'll Never Smile Again and There Are Such Things.  In those days she was overweight.  Capitol Records formed in 1942 with Weston as music director and Stafford as their first soloist.  He convinced her to lose weight.  They finally got married in 1952.  

She had already recorded a few comedy songs under the name of Cinderella G. Stump.  Born in 1917,    she was the second cousin of World War I hero Sergeant Alvin York.  Stafford trained in classic opera, but gravitated into pop.  Her 1952 song You Belong to Me topped the charts in the country.  She went on to record a series of hits:  Jambalaya, Shrimp Boats, Make Love to Me and You Belong to Me.  The latter in 1952 became the first song to hit #1 in the United Kingdom, and remained #1 in the U.S. for 24 weeks.

With all the above as background, The Piano Artistry of Jonathan Artistry was released in 1957, claiming the couple to be a New Jersey lounge act.  The primary speculation was that the Harry and Margaret Truman were the performers.  A TIME article revealed the truth, and the worst record in history gained an audience.  Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris came out in 1960, winning a GRAMMY for Best Comedy Album, Stafford's only major award.

They had a renaissance in 1977, releasing Stayin' Alive and I Am Women, with The New Carioca as the closing theme to The Kentucky Fried Movie.  Tomorrow, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...

It's getting repetitious, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke its all-time high, up 68 to 19,192.



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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

JUST A SIMPLE MAGIC ISLAND LUNCH

The day is overcast and somber.  Now that I've mis-predicted the next president of the USA and the death of the Republican Party, solved grand mystery #3 (Green Parrots--scroll down to Saturday) and brought you up to date on solar energy and the environment (scroll down to Monday),  I'll take a day off and have lunch at Magic Island (that aerial is from Air Photona.)  You can usually find me at the right side under a coconut tree with a view of Diamond Head.

I decided to have a ginger chicken and roast duck bento from U-Choice In, a Chinese take-out in the Kaheka Don Quixote shopping center.    That's obviously a bottle of beer in that black cover with a straw.  I was met by my Blue-bar pigeon and his friends:


The bird demographics of Magic Island have changed.  Usually, the horde is dominated by doves and sparrows.  You're always entertained by weddings here:


This one had someone playing a ukulele and singing.  On the way home my gas tank was running low, so I filled it at Costco, then went into the store to purchase their blue plate ribeye.  What a bargain, 4.53 pounds for only $86:


In comparison, J-Shop sells Japanese wagyu sirloin for $80/pound.  


Thus, my 4.53 pounds of Costco ribeye cost less than one pound of sirloin.  While I was in Costco I also picked up a bottle of 24-year old scotch from Aberdeen.

So I googled this Kirkland brand (left).  One reference indicated that this bootle cost $89.99 in Atlanta.  I paid $69.99.  A 25-year old Macallan, aged in sherry oak, costs more than $600.  25-year Glenlivet?  More than $350.  25-year Bowmore?  More than $500.  Why so expensive?  Not only the inventory cost, but up to 50% of the volume is lost in a quarter century.  However, the bottles you buy still provide 40% ethanol.

Here is a link to 24-year old scotches, and I noticed a Royal Lochnager, my very favorite, for only $373.  The  Costco bottle, the cheapest of all---the prices in this link are in British pounds---was matured in a bourbon oak cask.  Of course I tasted it, and it was wonderful.  A touch woody, a tad sweet, smooth, terrific.  However, wonder where I can find that RL-24?

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

WAS HOWARD HUGHES NUTS?

I just saw a new film, Rules Don't Apply, that did not make the top ten box office list this past weekend, got poor Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 57% and 42%, but inspired me to look into the life of Howard Hughes.  This was mostly Hollywood in the year 1958, which intrigued me, because that was the year I first left Hawaii, spending the summer in Southern California.
  
Warren Beatty was director and played Howard Hughes.  He is the younger brother of Shirley Mclaine, was a star high school football player and went to Northwestern, but dropped out after his freshman year.  

His wife Annette Bening, had a small part in the film.  The rest of the cast includedMatthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Dabney Coleman, Steve Coogan, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, Martin Sheen and and more.   Lily Collins (left) played the starlet  (Marla Mabrye) who supposedly fathered a Hughes child.  He supposedly had nine children, only one confirmed, and not this one.  Lily's real father is singer Phil Collins.

Not sure why the script was written with this Hughes-Marla Mabrey link  being the primary focus, for this was one of his most insignificant liaisons.  You can make a dozen films just of Hughes' affairs.  Here, a partial list of women in his life:
  • Jane Russell 
  • Cyd Charisse
  • Joan Crawford
  • Linda Darnell
  • Bette Davis
  • Yvonne de Carlo
  • Olivia de Havilland
  • Billy Dove (right)
  • Joan Fontaine
  • Kathryn Grayson (he proposed to her three times)
  • Jane Greer
  • Jean Harlow (who acted in his most famous film, Hell's Angels)
  • Susan Hayward
  • Rita Hayworth
  • Barbara Hutton (Woolworth heiress)
  • Janet Leigh
  • Gina Lollobrigida
  • Katharine Hepburn (right, one of his great loves)
  • Ida Lupino
  • Virginia Mayo
  • Jean Tierney
  • Lana Turner
  • Marilyn Monroe (not much of a relationship)
  • Terry Moore (claimed to have married him twice)
  • Jean Peters (last wife)
  • Ava Gardner (right)
  • Ginger Rogers
  • Jean Simmons
  • Elizabeth Taylor (refused an offer of a million dollars to marry him)
  • Gloria Vanderbilt
  • Amelia Earhart
And that was a partial list.

Hughes' father dropped out of Harvard to start a successful tool company.  Howard built Houston's first wireless radio transmitter at the age of 11, a motorized bike at 12 to ease his newspaper delivery service, had flying lessons at 14, was a near scratch golfer, took math and aeronautical engineering courses at Caltech, and dropped out of Rice.  His parents died when he was around 18, inspiring him to create a medical research laboratory, which ultimately became the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, in 2007 becoming the largest devoted to biological and medical research with an endowment of $16 billion.

He personally set world speed flying lessons, and nearly got killed in four serious plane crashes, which made him super sensitive to the touch (so he spent much of his adult life naked) and addicted to codeine.  He built the Spruce (made of birch) Goose, a wooden (had to be made of non-strategic materials) plane which was the largest of its time then and flew just once for a mile.  It was an attraction in Long Beach Harbor until moved to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon.

In 1928, at the age of 23, he produced Two Arabian Knights, which won the first Academy Award for Best Director (Lewis Milestone--Hughes was producer).  The stars were William Boyd (who went on to become Hopalong Cassidy) and Mary Astor.  He directed and produced Hell's Angels (RT:  76/60) in 1930, winning an Oscar for Best Cinematography.  The film killed several aviators and went way over budget, but doubled expenses at the box office.  His most controversial film was The Outlaw (RT:  89/33) with Jane Russell (left), for which he was the director.  His Hughes Tool Company bought RKO Pictures, a lot of real estate around Hollywood, Summa Corporation and TWA.   He became a billionaire.

My one link with Hughes was his Glomar Explorer, when he secretly worked with the CIA to attempt to recover a Soviet submarine which sank close to Hawaii.  No, never met him, but his Glomar Explorer was announced to search for manganese nodules not a submarine.  I shepherded the Hard Minerals Act for Senator Spark Matsunaga though the U.S. Congress, got involved with various Law of the Sea Treaty gatherings (the U.S. Senate still has not yet signed the treaty) and could not quite share the truth of the reality till today.  This floating platform was eventually acquired by Transocean, that company involved with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

The movie took us to the time of the 1972 hoax perpetrated by Clifford Irving, who professed in his book on Hughes' life that it was co-authored by him.  In a teleconference Hughes showed clarity, exposing Irving, who spent 17 months in jail for fraud.  Irving eventually wrote The Hoax (RT: 85/58) in 1977, which became a 2006 film starring Richard Gere.

I recall a quarter century ago watching Melvin and Howard, a Jonathan Demme film,  Melvin and Howard, with Jason Robards as Hughes and Paul Le Mat as Melvin Dummar, who helped  a wandering and lost Hughes get back to the Sands Hotel.   Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave the film a 94% rating.  Reportedly, Dummar nearly a decade after the incident got an envelope addressed to the President of the LDS Church, where both he and the Mormon Church were each bequeathed a one sixteenth share ($156 million) of the Hughes' estate.  The document was ultimately judged to be a forgery, and Dummar got nothing.  He later re-sued, but again was denied.  Much of the fortune did go to the Hughes Medical Institute, but a thousand people also benefited.  However, it took until 2010, 34 years after his death, to settle the estate.

Which comes to why movie producers name their film.  RULES DON'T APPLY?  A much better one for this flick would have been:  SO WAS HOWARD HUGHES NUTS?  Was he?

He died in 1976 at the age of 70 with an obsession for germs as a recluse.  At the end he weighed just 92 pounds, unkempt with long fingernails and hair, five hypodermic needles in his arms.  He was 6'4" tall.  As screwed up as he was, all indicators suggested he had not totally lost his mind.  He remained essentially coherent.  Sue he was nuts.  But not crazy.  What a life!

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