Friday, April 21, 2017

Hilo Days: A Lesson in Life

It's what school is for, not just lessons in various subjects and academic disciplines, but in life as well. Lessons such as "Don't take kind-hearted people for granted."

In my old website, Hilo Days, I recounted such an incident that happened during my senior year at Hilo High School. Read, and see if you can learn a lesson too.

Cutting Class?

Our zoology/physiology teacher, Mr. James Noda, once turned me in for cutting class.

I didn't actually cut class of course, but he wanted to teach me a lesson. It was during the preparation for the annual senior dance.

I was to be in charge of lights, a rather innocuous job, but an important one none-the-less. No lights, no dance. I never took it seriously until the day of the dance when I discovered we were short about two dozen light bulbs.

So, I had to scramble, appropriate some from my home and my friends' homes, and buy some with no approved budget.

We had a meeting that started during the lunch hour, and ran late. Instead of asking permission from Mr. Noda, I stayed at the meeting that cut into the time I was supposed to be in Mr. Noda's class. So I just never went.

I got a note in my next class to see counselor Mr. Ung Soy Afook (initials "USA") immediately. He called me into his office and showed me a note he had gotten from Mr. Noda. It read: "Call Craig Miyamoto in and scold him for cutting my class!"

Now, this was the only time I ever talked to Mr. Afook, and when I was called to see him, I could only imagine the worst things happening. My ass was grass, right? Wrong.

Mr. Afook said Mr. Noda probably was just hurt that I hadn't consulted him before staying at the late meeting, and that I should just go up to him and apologize for not thinking clearly.

So, I went up to Mr. Noda's class immediately, hat in hand (well, not really, I didn't wear a hat), and apologized for being so stupid. What could he say? He forgave me, for after all, he knew I wanted to be a doctor, and I was one of his favorite students.

It goes without saying that I got an A in his class.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Reuning With an Old Friend on TCM

Turner Movie Classics recently aired some classic examples of excellent movie-making. One of these Oscar-winning films was West Side Story, which I DVR-ed and watched yesterday.

It was maybe the 10th time since I first saw it one fine Saturday afternoon at the Palace Theater in Hilo, Hawaii, during my senior year in high school. 

Okay. The movie. Take the time-honored story of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," and transplant it to New York City of the early '60s. Rename the main characters and set  them in rival gang brotherhoods.

Then, turn them into pop singers and masculine ballet dancers (it's a lot better than it sounds) performing the music of the revered Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). The dancing and choreography are exemplary, by the way.

Adapted from the 1957 Broadway musical, West Side Story is full of racial tension and stereotypes of the era. On the one side are the Jets—white Americans, led by Riff (veteran actor Russ Tamblyn). On the other side are the Sharks—Puerto-Rican immigrants led by Bernardo (newcomer George Chakiris).

Some pseudo-expletives slip into the lyrics and passed the censors, e.g., "fuggin'" and "krupp you!" The gang members make references to their rivals' ethnicity, leading me to wonder whether today's over-sensitive audiences would accept and sing the songs like my generation did. I can just see walkouts disputing the play and theater revivals of the film.

West Side Story swept through the Academy Awards that year, nominated for 11 Oscars, winning 10: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Moreno), Best Supporting Actor (Chakiris), Best Director (Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise), Best Music Score, and five technical category Oscars.

It was nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning three: Best Picture-Musical, Best Supporting Actress (Moreno), and Best Supporting Actor (Chakiris).

West Side Story's soundtrack held the #1 position on the Billboard album charts for a record 54 weeks. "Maria," "America" and "Tonight" are particular favorites of mine.

The leads—Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer—were largely ignored by the Academy, likely because Beymer's songs were dubbed by Jim Bryant, and Wood's by Marni Nixon.

Among those who tested for roles were Suzanne Plechette, Jill St. John, Audrey Hepburn, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Elizabeth Ashley, Anthony Perkins, Warrant Beatty, Bobby Darin, Burt Reyholds, Richard Chamberlain, Troy Donahue and Gary Lockwod. And, guess who director Robert Wise wanted to play Beymer's role ... Elvis Presley.

West Side Story held all the film musical records until Grease showed up and relegated it to second place..

Released Oct. 18, 1961 • Length: 152 minutes • Budget: $6 million • Gross: $43.65 million.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Don't Believe Everything They Tell You

Oh, if only airline flight attendants meant what they say. There's many a time (see some of my previous posts) when I wish I could have said this and had my wish granted.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Where Hawaii Ranks 48

Okay, so Hawaii has the highest welfare checks in the nation (see last list). At least we score high in four other very important categories for our residents and visitors.

Happiest State in America (Gallup , 2016) 
  1. HAWAII (Well Being Score 65.2)
  2. Alaska (64.0)
  3. South Dakota (63.7)
  4. Maine (63.6)
  5. Colorado (6.5)

Best State for Senior Health (Healthways, 2016)
(Adults 65+) 
  1. New Hampshire: Highest %-age of very good/excellent health, low prevalence of smoking
  2. Vermont: 91.3% have had mammograms, colonoscopies and other screens 
  3. Minnesota: Highest %-age of dental visits and able-bodied seniors
  4. HAWAII: Lowest %-age of depression, smoking, obesity, preventable hospitalizations
  5. Utah: High %-age of volunteerism

Nation’s Best Airports (, 2016) 
  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor, AZ (PHX)
  2. Portland, OR (PDX)
  3. San Diego, CA (SAN)
  4. Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
  5. Honolulu, HI (HON)

Top U.S. Destinations (TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards, 2017) 
  1. New York, NY
  2. MAUI, HI
  4. OAHU, HI
  5. Las Vegas, NV

Highest Welfare Payments (Cato Institute, 2017) 
  1. HAWAII ($29.13 hourly equivalent)
  2. District of Columbia ($24.43)
  3. Massachusetts ($24.30)
  4. Connecticut ($21.33)
  5. New York ($21.01)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Call for Help?

Lately, I've been waking up with songs on my mind, and they hang inside my head, invading the nooks and crannies of my brain. They linger and feed on my wants, my needs, my fears, and my subconscious.

They hang and hang and hang like soft and comfy sweaters in a clothes closet, morphing into full-blown ear worms. Perhaps they're precursors of what's just around the corner for me? I really couldn't say.

But listen: For the past few days, it's been Peter, Paul & Mary's "Early in the Morning." No big deal, you say, of course it's early in the morning. That's what I thought too. But it's been recurring.

And then, I paid attention to what the ear worm was singing to me (indulgence requested):

Well, early in the morning, about the break of day,

I ask the Lord, "Help me find the way!"

Help me find the way to the promised land,

This lonely body needs a helping hand,

I ask the Lord to help me please find the way.

When the new day's a-dawning, I bow my head in prayer.
I pray to the Lord, "Won't you lead me there?"
Won't you guide me safely to the Golden Stair?
Won't you let this body your burden share?
I pray to the Lord, "Won't you lead me please, lead me there?"

When the judgment comes to find the world in shame
When the trumpet blows, won't you call my name?
When the thunder rolls and the heavens rain
When the
sun turns black, never shine again
When the trumpet blows, won't you call me please, call my name!

Do I have any lingering inner suspicions that I may have lost my way in life? Has advancing old age resigned me to the possibility that the end is near? Do I need reassurance that my soul and spirit will be okay when I die? Do I need to reaffirm my faith?

Am I afraid of dying? 

Earth, Wind & Fire's song lyrics have always expressed my attitude on dying so well: I'm not scared of dying, and I don't really care. If there's peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.

I'm not afraid, but I would like some reassurance.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Phone Pix 80: It's Spring!

It's spring at last! And what better way to celebrate than to share phone cam pictures of lovely flowers I'm taken over the past few years.


Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, Sept. 26, 2013

City Mill, Honolulu, HI, March 21, 2014

City Mill, Honolulu, HI, March 21, 2014

Yellow Hibiscus, Son's House, Pearl City, Honolulu, HI,
an. 26, 2015

Poinsettia, My Driveway, Honolulu, HI, Feb. 26, 2015

Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, April 24, 2015

Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, April 24, 2015

Auto Mall Home Depot, Fremont, CA, April 24, 2015

Fake Orchid, Queen's Hospital Financial Office,
Honolulu, HI, June 22, 2016

Pacific Commons Trader Joe's, Fremont, CA,
March 21, 2016