Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zeitgeist: Picasso's Recurring Theme AtoZChallenge

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews 

This brings full circle my A to Z posts which
began with: 
ART: Picasso’s recurring theme - desolation of social outsiders - which answers to his BLUE period extending from 1901 through 1904; 
 
and end with:
 
ZEITGEIST (the general intellectual, moral, and cultural state of an era): where Picasso’s recurring theme - desolation of social outsiders - answers to the spirit of the time, the artistic and intellectual avant garde at the start of the twentieth century. 
 
 

In the book, PICASSO by Jp. A. Calosse, the author addresses the three essentials of Picasso’s ripening style during the second half of 1901. 

1. Predominance of form in composition

2. Sentimental themes

3. Use of monochromatic blue 

Together, these three essentials help me appreciate the artist’s state of mind during a period of time when his genius poured forth onto canvas for the world to view, study, and absorb. 

The writer in me believes Picasso did not consciously create a “BLUE PERIOD” in his life. As a painter, he did what came naturally to him. Would you agree with my conclusion that, rather than use his paintings to editorialize his feelings, he painted to explore his artistic talents?
 
Jp. A. Calosse: Picasso

 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for You Go To My Head AtoZChallenge

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police 

Billie Holiday, aka Lady Day of Lady Sings the Blues fame, recorded You Go To My Head,(composed by J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Haven Gillespie,) in 1938. She recorded the song again in 1952. 

The list of people who made recordings of the song can be measured with a yardstick, and includes names like Judy Garland (at the Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall concert), Marlene Dietrich, Bing Crosby, and Peggy Lee. Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Patti Page, and Petula Clark are listed along with Ella Fitzgerald, and even Rosemary Clooney (you know . . . George’s auntie.) Frank Sinatra, on the list for recording You Go To My Head in 1946 and 1960, said Billie Holiday was the greatest single musical influence on him. 

Listen to her sing and decide for yourself how she stacks up next to everyone else on the list:

Book: Lady Sings the Blues
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xploration With AleX AtoZChallenge

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews 

Alex J. Cavanaugh’s novel CassaFire, the second in his Sci-Fi Cassa series, is a story about exploration. His protagonist flies a shuttle for remote, deep space exploration. 
 
 
After reading CassaFire, I felt that Alex had shown exceptional insight into the exploration of the universe and into the development of relationships among co-explorers, and between romantic interests. 

My favorite genre is Mystery, and what could be more mysterious than outer space, the infinite galaxies; twinkling stars that have already expired; and exhaustive black holes. Excavating secrets presents an exciting plot line. In CassaFire, unlocking a secret could mean discovering a lost civilization, or a powerful weapon. 

CassaStar, the first in the series, and CassaStorm are both now on my TBR list. (My reading group book pick for May is The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov, so I'm really going Sci-Fi these days.)
 
You can visit Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Amazon Author page here:
or
Hop over to his blog site for the 2014 XYZ portion of Arlee Bird’s excellent (AtoZ Challenge) adventure:
 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wasabi AtoZChallenge


PUPUS, Hawaiian snacks similar to hors d’oeuvers, tapas, and canapés,
make up the third segment of my A-to-Z Challenge theme.
 
Wasabi is a green paste comparable to horseradish, and just as hot. The thick paste is mixed with a generous helping of shoyu (soy sauce) then used for dipping. Do not attempt to spread the wasabi on raw slices of fish the way you would use tarter sauce. Pick up the slice of fish with your chop sticks, run the fish lightly through the wasabi/shoyu sauce mix, add a paper-thin slice of fresh ginger, and pop it into your mouth. Repeat.



I have a tendency to overdue it and my nose burns until my eyes start to water. Then I have to sit back and wait for the sensation to pass. 

Sashimi is sliced raw fish. One of my favorites is Onion Salmon. The popular Japanese food is a delicacy that takes center stage for everyone’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Hawaii, especially Ahi Sashimi, my all-time favorite when served with wasabi and fresh ginger. 

Can you say “ONO”?

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vessel's Vexatious BLUE Diamond AtoZChallenge

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police 

The Blue Diamond of the Crown was a 56-karat diamond worn by Louis the XVI. It disappeared in 1792, around the same time the king and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were beheaded. The theory goes that the crown diamond was chopped, too, recut into a heart-like shape that became known as the Heart of the Ocean.
 
 
In the movie, TITANIC, this heart-shaped diamond is a McGuffin of sorts, Alfred Hitchcock’s word for an object (such as the Maltese Falcon) that triggers a plot line. 

The Blue Diamond was definitely burdensome for the woman who last held the Heart of the Ocean, as was the fate of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic’s owners. Just like the Blue Diamond was said to be cursed for a king and a queen, was the Titanic also cursed because of a blue diamond?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for UNAGI AtoZChallenge

PUPUS, Hawaiian snacks similar to hors d’oeuvers, tapas, and canapés,
make up the third segment of my A-to-Z Challenge theme. 

Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel. Genki Sushi Restaurant in Honolulu serves sliced unagi over rice topped with a dipping sauce called Tare, a sweetened, thickened soy sauce. 

I am not a fan of eel in any form but do believe in authenticity when writing articles. So I patronized the Genki Sushi at Ala Moana Center and selected a platter of Unagi from the converor belt of ready-made offerings. 


 
 
If you have read my ‘O’ post for AtoZ, you’ll understand when I say that Unagi and Uni (Sea Urchin Roe) are not on my list of Ono foods. 

My second sushi choice for the day was a plate of California Rolls, far better suited to a palate accustomed to fried perch and smoked salmon.
 
 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Thriller GOOD AS GONE by Douglas Corleone

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews 

GOOD AS GONE, an international thriller, takes you at breakneck speed on a search through some of Europe’s ritziest and seediest locations. Author Douglas Corleone has upped the ante, from his Kevin Corvelli mysteries set in Hawaii to Simon Fisk ocean-hopping thrillers that move faster than the motorcycle on the book’s cover.
 

This novel features a former U.S. Marshal searching for abducted children. If you like fast-paced action, you can start packing your bags for the Cayman Islands because the sequel, PAYOFF, is due out August 19, 2014. No time to even catch your breath! 

Although I purchase my copies directly from the author, one of the benefits of living in Hawaii, Douglas Corleone’s books are also available in print and electronic format on the Internet:
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for SEARCH Behind the BLUE Line AtoZChallenge

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police 

In Search of Truth and Honor by Joanne Takasato (a look behind “the blue line”)

In the early 1980s, a young Japanese woman by the name of Joanne Takasato became Honolulu’s first undercover (UC) female police officer. As a UC, she bought the recreational drugs of choice for the time, cocaine, marijuana, and Quaaludes, from dealers in Chinatown and around the Island. She spent solitaire nights in bars pretending to be someone she wasn’t, and she frequented street corners with no badge, no gun, and no identification. Through shear will and belief in Truth and Honor, Officer Takasato paved the way for women in what had always been an all-male field of undercover police work. 

Over a period of years, Takasato severed family ties, created a false identity, and developed friendships only to betray them with arrests and prosecution. It sounds like a remake of a Donnie Brasco movie. But Takasato lived this life and kept a journal, refused to make the movie but wrote the book instead. 

IN SEARCH OF TRUTH AND HONOR by Joanne Takasato is not a light beach read for a sunny Honolulu afternoon in Waikiki. I could only read the chapters in short spurts, taking breaks to let my nerves settle. It is impossible for me to imagine actually living through those years. 
 
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for RAISING ROCS by REICH, author Cherie Reich

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews 

While preparing for the 2014 A to Z Challenge, I happened upon Cherie Reich’s A to Z Flashes of Foxwick (The Foxwick Chronicles). My first reaction, which I noted in my kindle copy, was: Writing flash fiction is a terrific way to get a handle on a WIP novel. Vignettes of scenes will help to put ideas in perspective, keep order, and develop a rhythm so there is even and escalating tension and advancement of plot and logical denouement with all relevant loose ends tied up. 

My second reaction was to choose Cherie’s Foxwick Flash ‘Raising Rocs’ as the “R” in my 2014 AtoZ Challenge blog post. I think it was the mention of worms in the opening line that hooked me. 

Later, I discovered Cherie’s horror novelette, Once Upon a December Nightmare, sort of a mini Road Trip that also worked for the letter “R”. She followed the novelette with a horror novella, Nightmare Ever After. Both stories along with the trilogy’s opening short story, Nightmare at the Freak Show, are available in The Nightmare Collection. 

Thank you, Cherie, for your gift of ideas. I look forward to reading The Nightmare Collection, right after I recuperate from the April AtoZChallenge. 

Cherie Reich on Amazon:

Link to Cherie Reich at Untethered Realms’s blog site for the 2014 A to Z Challenge:

 

 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for QUACK, as in Pei Pa Duck AtoZChallenge


PUPUS, Hawaiian snacks similar to hors d’oeuvers, tapas, and canapés,
make up the third segment of my A-to-Z Challenge theme. 

Whether you think of the Chinese capital as Peking or Beijing, the smoked duck is still flavorful, if somewhat greasy. To be authentic, Peking duck is served in a flat pancake with little meat. In Hawaii, people want more meat and it is served manapua-style, in a steamed bun. 

Pei pa duck is duck roasted hanging up. It gets its name from a Chinese musical instrument. The Pipa is a pear-shaped guitar. The duck is spread out like the Pipa, air-dried, and deep-fried with special spices. The duck is crispy enough to eat even the smaller bones.  

At Market City, down the road from me on Kapiolani Blvd., is a restaurant named Duck Lee Chinese Express. It specializes in “roasting” foods, like roast duck, pei pa duck, and char siu. It is finger-lickin’ food you can snack on anytime. 
 
 

 

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for POLICE: Walking the BLUE Line

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police 

1920, Shots Fired, Officer Down is the title of a book. It is also a radio transmission made in 1994 by that book’s author. At the time, he was a motorcycle police officer with the Honolulu Police Department. The officer had made a stop for a possible expired license plate. The driver was cooperative but admitted he didn’t have his driver’s license with him. 

One thing led to another. 
 
 
I’ve worked on the police end and the dispatch side of a traffic stop. No stop is handled as routine any more than a domestic call is ever classified as routine. Sometimes people contest a stop and take the case to court. That’s how the court system works. 

In the case of the traffic stop in 1994, as revealed by the author in the first line of the book synopsis, the driver started firing his AK-47 semi-automatic rifle. That led to the officer’s “Shots Fired” transmission to Dispatch. The entire story of events leading up to the traffic stop, the drama that played out, and the aftermath are spellbinding reading.

But what ultimately captured my attention and brought home the reality of the situation was one particular fact. The police officer did nothing other than what he was trained to do in the line of duty. Because he followed procedure, the stop should have ended with a traffic ticket,  proof that any time an officer walks the blue line, it can lead to a radio transmission of “Shots Fired.” 

You can read more about the book and its author at Amazon.com
 

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

OCTOPUS POKE IS ONO AtoZChallenge

PUPUS, Hawaiian snacks similar to hors d’oeuvers, tapas, and canapés,
make up the third segment of my A-to-Z Challenge theme.

 ONO is the Hawaiian word for ‘delicious.’ My favorite pupu is poke (po-key), raw fish cut into cubes and seasoned with seaweed and shoyu (soy sauce) or sprinkled with sesame seeds. Any food that tastes great - broke da mouth is the Hawaiian Pidgin expression - is said to be ONO. 

Octopus (Tako) poke can be eaten alone or mixed with tomatoes, Maui onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, sea salt and chili pepper. I admit Ahi poke with seaweed and shoyu is more to my liking, though.
 

  
Ahi Poke


Octopus (Tako) Poke

 
Onion Salmon
 
 
 If you’re not into raw fish, onion-laced tofu poke with green peppers might be more to your liking.
 
Tofu Poke

Sunday brunch at the Oceanarium Restaurant in Waikiki’s Pacific Beach Hotel wouldn’t be complete without platters of Onion Salmon flanked by bowls of capers and cream cheese.
 
Greetings from the Oceanarium
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for NEAL, TOBY NEAL

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews. 

Toby Neal is the author of the Lei Crime series, two spin-offs of the series, and a stand-alone romance novel. In her spare time, she is working on her memoir and developing a new YA mystery series. She and her photographer husband live on Maui. 

Toby’s latest Lei Crime novel includes two major plot lines, the endangerment of endemic Hawaiian birds that leads to murder, and the potential marriage of the series’ protagonist. With such a significant personal plot line, a ‘runaway bride’ scenario, it seemed inevitable that the mystery plot would suffer. It was an unnecessary concern. Neal weaves the tension of plot and subplot (reader’s choice as to which is which) into a seamless story that never hiccups. 

One suspenseful part of the novel involves the hunt for a killer intent on ending the despicable act of poaching endemic birds by delivering a unique brand of vigilante justice. Controlled narrative pace, excellent description, and rare location in a well-developed mystery add up to a five-star read. 

Anyone who has had an opportunity to see the colorful birds of Hawaii will appreciate the emotional attraction of a storyline that deals with the endangerment of endemic birds. History tells of Polynesians who used red and yellow bird feathers to construct capes, ‘Ahu’ula, for Hawaiian royalty. Even then, bird catchers were forbidden to take the life of the birds, including the red-feathered ‘i’iwi and the yellow-feathered Hawaiian honeycreeper. To catch a glimpse of exotic Hawaiian birds, SHATTERED PALMS takes the reader to a site on Maui that many visitors, residents, and even kama’aina have never experienced. That alone is worth the “price of admission.” 

Because of the local expression, “can-can. no can, no can.” my bucket list now includes a visit to the Hosmer’s Grove trail and overlook at Haleakala National Park.
 
 
Check out Shattered Palms at Amazon.com, along with the other Lei Crime novels in the series:
 
 
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for MONROE, MARSALIS, and MY WAY AtoZChallenge


The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police

 

MONROE, MARSALIS, and MY WAY
Father of BLUEgrass Music;
Jazz in the Bittersweet BLUES W. MARSALIS;
and Ol’ BLUE Eyes
 

Sometimes the music is just too big to write about. It’s that way with Bill Monroe, considered the Father of Bluegrass music; and Wynton Marsalis with his Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues; and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, doing things “My Way.” 

It was always entertaining to watch shows with Frank Sinatra on stage joking around with his buddies, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. Imagine Ol’ Blue Eyes teaming up with Wynton and Bill to sing a medley of tunes, the three of them bobbing and weaving through the rhythms of bluegrass, crooning nightclub melodies, and hitting the high notes of sweet jazz. 

 

Frank gets the red ribbon for his live performance in Australia with the Red Norvo Quintet in 1959 and for his rendition of Red Roses (for a Blue Lady.)

 
 

Wynton earns the white ribbon for opening the White House Music Series hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

 

 

But Bill wins the blue ribbon. He is the Father of Bluegrass; his band was named the Blue Grass Boys; his record label was Bluebird; and he sang such songs as Mule Skinner Blues, Blue Grass Breakdown, and Blue Moon Over Kentucky. He even founded the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. When it came to doing things “My Way” Frank Sinatra had nothing over Bill Monroe.
 
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for LOVE! LAUGH! PANIC! AtoZChallenge Review

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews
 

The full title of this book is Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with My Mother by Rosemary Mild. A memoir is not my standard reading fare. And when the memoir is about a mother/daughter relationship, you might expect something on the order of a Joan Crawford tell-all. Not so with this story.
 
The author narrates with a subtle touch of humor. With panache, she applies fine layers of self-effacing detail until a full portrait of life with her mother emerges. Occasional personal revelations that the reader can relate to bring a quick smile or an outright belly laugh. If you have been raised by a hands-on mother (Jewish, Catholic, or otherwise) you may experience several “a-ha” moments as you recall similar experiences in your own life.
 
Trials in the yo-yo life of a perennial dieter, and insight into the debilitating illness of a parent, are interwoven with lighter tales of college angst and pleasures. The memoir is loaded with love. There are plenty of situations to encourage laughter. And often lurking in the shadows is an undercurrent of panic.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for KALUA PIG AND POI

 PUPUS, Hawaiian snacks similar to hors d’oeuvers, tapas, and canapés,
make up the third segment of my A-to-Z Challenge theme.
 

 
 Kalua means “to bake in an  underground oven” known as an imu. A very short excerpt from my novel With Fiery Vengeance illustrates a sliver of the preparation behind that luau pork you devoured on your last trip to Hawaii.

Wedding guests had stationed themselves two and three-deep around Uncle Mondo’s imu, the underground pit he had prepared for baking the pig. Since last evening, he had directed all the outside projects. He had instructed the keiki to scour the property for kindling and fist-sized rocks.
 
“Get plenny twigs and small branches ’cause we need a blazing hot fire to heat these stones,” he’d called out to the older children as they headed to the overgrowth beyond the landscaped yard. To the young ones, he said, “Help your mothers gather ti leaves, grasses, and banana leaves.”

Aunty Vai and some of her friends had rubbed the pig inside and out with rock salt. She refused my help, citing my lack of experience. “Need everything for go just right,” she’d said. Though I had been born in Hawaiˋi, and visited my son in Hawi every year, it didn’t seem to qualify me for participation in long-standing rituals. Or else she secretly thought I was incompetent. Her one concession had been to let me help pound taro roots into poi. My arms would be sore for a week.

Everyone watched in anticipation as the men removed the baked pig from the ground. Then someone yelled, “Outta the way, make a path.” Rick grabbed Cary and Cassie by the arm and pulled them to the side. Men and boys grunted with the effort of carrying the bundle to the back door of the house, Nate grinning the entire way.

 
No time to build an imu? Check out Chef Sam Choy’s oven-roasted kalua pig:

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for JAWS: The Deep BLUE Sea

 The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police 

JAWS is a 1994 novel by Peter Benchley about a great white shark that preys upon a small resort town. Mr. Benchley’s motto was, “Save the sharks and we can save the ocean.” Unfortunately, I’m not sure who was listening.
 

The eponymous movie, starring Roy Schieder, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw, had a thread running through the story about facing your fears. Everyone has a healthy fear of sharks. But the sheriff had a fear of water, one he expressed as a ‘fear of drowning.’ When someone asked why a person who is afraid of water would live on an island, his less than logical answer added levity to the scene. “It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.” 

In 1976, the dead body of a 14 1/2 foot shark whose species had never before been detected was discovered in the Hawaiian Islands by an oceanographic research vessel and was dubbed a megamouth shark. 

We know so little about the vastness of oceans that I am pleased to have also learned
these 6 things about Sharks and People from JAWS on DVD: 

            1. A shark can swallow a metal license plate whole.

            2. A shark will chomp down on a scuba tank until it explodes.

            3. A reader/movie-goer is willing to ‘swallow’ anything
                        (suspension of disbelief) if the story holds water.

            4. Irrationality comes in all shapes and sizes.

            5. Fear isn’t a bad thing if it’s based on logic.

            6. Sometimes you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
 
Do you watch the Special Features on DVDs?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for ICE, Shave Ice and Mochi Ice Cream

PUPUS, Hawaiian snacks similar to hors d’oeuvers, tapas, and canapés,
make up the third segment of my A-to-Z Challenge theme. 

Ice may not sound like a delicious snack food, but in Hawaii Shave Ice is King. This treat differs from the mainland snow cone because the ice is shaved from a block of frozen water rather than crushed. The sno-like texture of the shaved ice absorbs the syrup so you can eat it with a spoon, not just sip it through a straw.

 
My visitor from Minnesota, Flat Mary (of Flat Stanley fame),
enjoying a Passion Fruit Shave Ice
after our hike up - and down again - Diamond Head in Honolulu 
 
Shave Ice comes in multiple flavors, including the more local kine like pineapple, coconut, guava, lychee, mango, li hing mui, and passion fruit. My favorite Shave Ice is served with sweet azuki bean paste at the bottom and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Eh, brah, dis Ono*!

*See the letter ‘O’ for definition of Ono. 

Mochi Ice Cream is the other ‘Ice’ that tops my list of favorite dessert pupus. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake. It is very chewy and sweet. Mochi Ice Cream is fruity ice cream wrapped in mochi and dusted with a white powdery substance. 

 
The verdict is still out on whether Flat Mary likes Shave Ice or Strawberry Mochi Ice Cream better.
 
There are lots of steps to making mochi ice cream, easier if you buy it ready-made. It is popular in Asia, Hawaii, and the West Coast of the United States. 

Why not plan your next vacation accordingly?