At CVS yesterday, a man without a mask approached me, pointing his finger at me.He said, “I don’t think the Covid virus came from China. I think it was man-made.” I, behind my mask, large sunglasses and a hat, walked away, like a woman right off the boat, not knowing a word of English. Later I realized he was saying I’m not responsible for the virus. I came home, looked at myself in the mirror with the mask, sunglasses and hat and said, “Shit, yes. I still look Asian.” I hope it’s a good thing that Russian-Americans don’t have that Russian look in America.

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Arts | Entertainment | Crafts | Life

Posted on by Wayne Harada


A call is out in Hawaii for a cast of actors – some fluent in Hawaiian, others not so much – to mount a family musical about a fictional mouse named Wordsworth, a poetic extension of author Frances Kakugawa.

Now a Sacramento resident, Kakugawa – formerly of Kapoho and Honolulu – has had this theatrical project delayed because of the pandemic, but a creative team from Hilo finally is readying its next step …  to begin the audition process for roles in the musical, which will be performed on stage in the original English and on a planned recorded version totally in the Hawaiian language.

The transition from page to stage is not wasted on Kakugawa, an award-winning author whose poetry has been the foundation of her earlier career as a school teacher. Besides her Wordsworth editions, her books on caregiving have inspired seniors to tap poetry as a means of personal expression, and she has been an advocate of Alzheimer’s and has parlayed her experience into motivational caregiving workshops, often embracing poetry.

Frances Kakugawa

“I heard the music of Wordsworth singing his poems on stage only in the English version and it gave me chicken skin and brought me to tears,” said Kakugawa, whose anticipation is high and hearty,

Wordsworth has been her pet project, with four books popular among school students. The character is a model of a mouse who sees the world through his creative mind and the lens of poetry; his ‘ohana, friends and neighbors learn to accept and appreciate his special gift of imagination and wonderment.
Wendell Ing, a Hilo entertainer and attorney by trade, has composed a score for the show and the script by Jackie Pualani Johnson has been translated into ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi by Pōhai Montague-Mullins.

The creative team, led by director Justina Taft Mattos, also includes choreographer Kea Kapahua and Lizby Logsdon, a Hilo Community Theater designer of costumes for Shakespearean plays, who is designing mousewear for this show.

“When I wrote the series, it was a dream to have it on stage someday,” said Kakugawa. “Okay, Broadway was too far-fetched but at least on a stage, that dream is coming true.”

Wordsworth, the mouse poet

The drama group at the University of Hawaii at Hilo secured the rights to stage the show, and the in-Hawaiian version, elevates the project to new heights, since the production will heavily weigh on actors who can speak and deliver the Hawaiian poetry in a lofty cultural boost.

Though Wordsworth has been familiar via his presence in Kakugawa’s books, he’s remained the same age over the decades “although the themes became more complicated. Some middle school readers have asked that he get married to one of the characters,” she added.

Character roles are listed at the show’s website.

Kakugawa’s “Wordsworth” character is featured in four books to date.

Four volumes of Wordsworth’s words and poems have been published; the musical fleshes out characters and situations from the printed page, offering life lessons and imagination to share.

Kakugawa said the cloud of COVID-19 earlier and Omicron later has been a bit worrisome. “I sure wish I’m still alive to see it on stage,” she said. “I’m so excited that I’m spooked.”

Those eager to begin the audition process should check the show’s website:

A Feb. 6 deadline is in place.

Applicants should peruse the site for options on where to send audition video, the roles available, the demands for some key roles requiring savvy and competence in the Hawaiian language.

To contact director Mattos directly, email her at <justinamattos@gmail.com>

or jmattos@hawaii.edu

Ideally, prospects seeking roles should live on the Big Island, since the rehearsal process will require troupers to be available for extended periods of time.

Said director Mattos: “There very well might be two separate casts, due to the fact that we are doing the Hawaiian version this spring, and the English language version
next fall. Not all actors can commit to a project that spans nearly a year
. . . so we are assuming that we may need to re-cast some, or all, of the
roles next fall.”

Performance dates will be announced later. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

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( somehow I can’t get the spacing right to separate each haiku verse)

New Year Haiku, 2022


   Kadomatsu greets

America, ah, blessings

   from eastern wind, yes./

   three immovable

   bamboo, roped and held for strength

   yet, fragile in wind. /       

   green pine from knotted,

   snarled fingers of a bonsai,

   a thousand year life/

   ‘neath symbolic greens

   the Emperor’s golden sunburst,

   a chrysanthemum/

   such blessings, New Year,

   from simple pine and bamboo.

   a happy new year.

      Frances Kakugawa 2022

Dear Mr. Farmer

Dear 21st Century Farmer,

Each time you place a seed into your soil,

What do you think about?

Do you think of fast cash

To replace your brain

For a larger, more digitized tractor?

Insect  eradication for abundant crops?

Vocabulary rested on faster, more, faster, more

Or do faces of your grandchildren, their grandchildren

Play among the images in your head?

The inheritors of your soil.

Each time you place a seed into your soil,

Do you get down on your back,

Look up at white clouds dancing, dancing –

Pesticides free, gathering raindrops

For Earth’s  purification?

Each time you place a seed into your soil,

Can  you take a fistful of soil –

Taste the taste of soil

As they were before you were courted

By “Big 6” pesticide and GMO corporations –

BASF, Bayer, Dupong, Dow Chemical Co. Monsanto, Syngenta ?

Oh, farmer of the 21st century,

Are you indignant of  these questions?

Let me hear then, your “How dare you.”

How dare you

Question the integrity of my soul.

How dare you

Before my grandchildren

And their future children.

I     am    not     a     farmer    for    sale.

   Frances H Kakugawa

Is “A thief is a thief is a thief” or can there be a sort of honest thief?

Amazon left a package on our porch. I saw the email of the photo of the package left by the deliverer about half an hour later. The package was gone. We leave our gate open for such deliveries. I closed the gate, feeling creepy about our neighborhood.

I called Amazon to report this and the person said thieves are taking packages even in six inches of snow. They will send me another copy of the book “The Lincoln Highway” from one of my favorite authors.

Two hours later, we found the book on the porch. The book was half way out of the package.

So the thief is not a reader and returned the book. And the thief  had opened the gate and closed it on his or her way out.  I called Amazon to cancel the copy they were re-sending. He laughed and couldn’t believe about this thief who hates books.

This could have had a more embarrassing ending had the book been one of my own with the thief saying, “What a waste of effort, this is pure trash. Who reads this stuff anyway?”

A Kapoho Christmas

Sometimes, we need to grow up to discover the real Christmas. Growing up in remote Kapoho on the Big Island of Hawaii, looking in at ads of what Christmas is, left a Christmas to be desired. Today, this has turned me into a Scrooge of Christmas ads on TV, indoctrinating children that without the commercialized Christmas , there can be no real Christmas. During my years in the classroom, it was always a Kapoho Christmas. “Any tree can become a Christmas tree,” I said, and brought in a branch from the yard, decorating it as we did in Kapoho with homemade ornaments. I knew children in my classrooms whose only gift was one from the Salvation Army, and like me, looking in at Christmas, from the outside.

A Kapoho Christmas( my stanza spacing disappeared)

It was Christmas without lights.

It was Christmas without indoor plumbing.

It was Christmas without carolers at the window

Muffed and warm under falling snow.

But there was Christmas.

A Christmas program at school

The Holy Night reenacted:

White tissue paper glued on spines of coconut  fronds

Shaped as angel wings and halos.

Long white robes, over bare feet.

The plantation manager with bagfuls of assorted hard candies

His annual role in the village where he reigned.

Fathers in Sunday best

After a hard day’s work in sugar cane fields.

Mothers in dresses fashioned after Sears catalogs.

Children, restless, on wooden benches,

Waiting for Santa’s jolly Ho Ho Ho.

A fir tree from the hills,

Needles not lasting 24 hours.

Chains from construction paper,

Origami balls and strands of tin-foiled tinsel.

Kerosene and gas lamps

Moving shadows on the walls.

It was not the Christmas of my dreams.

No carolers at the window,

Singing Silent Night, Holy Night.

No large presents under a real Christmas tree

No fireplaces and rooftop chimneys.

No blue-eyed boy handing me hot chocolate.

For 18 years, the true Christmas

Lived in my head until Fire Goddess Pele

Came to my rescue from Kilauea crater

And buried our kerosene lamps.

Finally! I said, without a backward glance,

Running out fast in bare feet

On unpaved roads

To the Christmas of my dreams.

From Echoes of Kapoho by Frances Kakugawa

  Watermark Publishing 2019

Why the Sunday New York Times is a good read; f’instance, Bette Midler and Frances H. Kakugawa, two prominent ex-locals from different spheres, are in the Book Review section today. Details in Show Biz, at https://www.wayneharada.com

Thank you, Wayne Harada, for including me in your Show Biz column. I’m honored and grateful.


11-16-21: The session I did for Hawaii’s AARP last week and the session today for the Family Caregiver Alliance and Kimochi definitely won’t be even close to the one a few years ago, as who can beat martini sessions?

11-16-2012: A Caregiver’s Workshop over Apple Martini

After spending all morning at the AARP conference, friend Elaine and I went to the Pineapple Room at Macy’s for lunch. Fortunately, as it turned out, there were no tables but the bar was open.

I love sitting on bar stools; it makes me feel wicked. I ordered an Apple Martini ( the best in town) and a salad. Soon a man sat next to me. He noticed the leis around my shoulder and asked if I were celebrating a birthday. “No,” I explained, “I just gave a lecture at the AARP conference.”

And now the most unique “pick up” began, not by one but by two. Since I’m no longer 25, this is the best I can expect in this game of “pick up.”

Our conversation led to his story of his wife struggling with caring for her father with dementia.

I sensed all the loopholes so began a mini-workshop. A woman next to him leaned over and said, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I’m caring for my sister who has Alzheimer’s.”

So over my Apple Martini, I gave a condensed version of what I had covered earliair at the conference. They took my business card and hope to read my books on caregiving. The stranger said, as we left, “This was meant to happen. Thank you. ” Yeah, but he didn’t pay for my drink.

Elaine said, “This is way better than sitting at a table in a restaurant. This would never have happened outside of a bar.” Elaine paid for my martini lunch.

Veterans’ Day

                  A Salute to Patrick at Punchbowl Cemetery

The soldiers stood cemented to the grassy ground

Like statues, while Buddhist sutras filled the air.

Movement would dishonor the man who once stood

In his uniform, like his comrades today.

The three-gun salute, the wailing taps,

The precision of the folding of the flag,

A salute purified by white gloves

For the presentation of the symbolic flag.

Each step of ultimate precision, a tribute to dignity,

Honor and respect for the fallen soldier,

From the country whom he had served

With love, dignity and honor.

Whatever Alzheimer’s had stolen from him,

All was returned to him today.

Whatever memories, forgotten,

The country that he loved, remembered.

A final rest in peace.

(from I Am Somebody by Frances Kakugawa/Watermark Publishing

Wordsworth, my little mouse poet from my children’s book series, who resolves human problems through poetry, is

living a great life on the Big Island with Patrick and Jon. This is why he keeps saying, living with me was such a bore.

Hope you got a lot of treats, Wordsworth. Happy Halloween!