Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Happenstance in Chinatown

May 24th, 2014
By



A writer friend I've collaborated with on a couple of screenplays posted on Facebook that a word you rarely see these days is "ubiquitous." Which seemed ironic to me, since social media forums such as FB can turn a forwarded video, photo, comment or cause into something that millions of people will see on computers, smart phones, then later on national TV shows, even local morning news spots about today's "Viral Video" or "Trends & Talkers" segments. It's everywhere you look -- ubiquitous, in other words.

And since I'm in the media biz, writing scripts for TV/movie projects, plus producing a local OC16 television show that often features newsworthy people, my life is filled with moments of convergence... a surreal blend of real life merging with online interactions, nationally-broadcast TV shows, and live local news programming. One day I'm interviewing a subject for Career Changers or blogging about it in the Star-Advertiser, the next day or on the evening KHON News, I'm watching that same person talk about their biz or responding to complaints (like the new vertical wind tunnel at The Groove Hawaii, which is on this month's show). Then I hit play on my DVR, and see another familiar face appearing on a Food Network or History Channel show after we had them on Career Changers awhile back. A week or two later, I run into the same person(s) while out and about looking for my next story, completing the Circle of Media Life.

That just happened to me again this past week. I bought discounted Groupon tickets for the Honolulu Exposed Red Light Tour because I had never heard of it before, and it sounded interesting: take a walk through the seedy side of history in Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. Having researched stuff like opium dens, brothels, small pox outbreaks and other unsavory elements of Hawaii's past for scripts I was working on, this sounded like something right up my alley. Also, I wondered why no one else had offered this type of tour -- there were ghost tours, walking tours that focus on architecture, straight G-rated history, but nothing that included places like Club Hubba Hubba or the infamous Glades (btw, local filmmaker Connie Florez is producing a documentary about that... click here for details).

Now bear with me, because this trip down the rabbit hole interweaves a few seemingly-unrelated threads that all come together in the end. Last Saturday, my wife and I arrive at the Hawaii Theater where the Red Light tour starts at 9:30 AM. But we're early and having driven from Kailua after a couple of cups of coffee, need to find a restroom. Back in January 2012, my show was the first to air Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock's plans for a badly-need public restroom, which her Chinatown biz organization had raised money for. However, the experimental toilet program didn't receive enough funding to continue, ergo no place for us -- or other locals, visitors and of course, the ubiquitous homeless people -- to relieve ourselves. The closest coffee shops weren't open at that time, so my wife wound up walking down to the police station.

While waiting for Isabel to return, I nervously observed a rail-thin, wasted-looking woman growling and yelling madly at whoever walked past her across the street from me. She was scary, to put it mildly. On the way to the theater meeting spot, my wife and I had to stroll past smelly, filthy homeless men and women on just about every street and occupying every open space around the Hawaii Theater area. I'm not making any judgments -- just telling you what we experienced. What the solution is, I don't even know where to start. Wait, check that. I do know where to begin: by talking about creative approaches that involve partnerships between private interests and public services. I'll eventually get to that.

Anyway, our walkabout in search of a simple toilet answered one of my questions. Q: Why didn't anyone do a Red Light tour before? A: Who the heck wants to come down to stinky, dirty Chinatown in the morning, when you can't even find a public restroom or place to sit peacefully without mentally-ill people accosting you and getting right in your face! Still, having lived in New York City years ago, I've seen worse. Later, the tour guides said hotel concierges won't send visitors to the Chinatown area because of the homeless problem, so that's a major obstacle for their new venture to overcome.

First tour coincidence: the couple who run the Honolulu Exposed tour (click here for their Facebook link) arrive while Isabel is still on her bathroom run, and tell me they just moved here about four months ago and used to work for the Seattle Underground tour. I'm stunned because I had just pitched a TV series idea to the writer friend I mentioned up top, about how the Seattle Underground came into being after a huge fire destroyed much of downtown Seattle, which was originally built at sea level and prone to flooding. This was in the late 1800s. So city leaders figured it was a good time to rebuild the area higher. But cash-strapped biz owners who couldn't afford to go along with the plan, continued running their businesses while the new streets and sidewalks were constructed several feet above their storefronts. Eventually, to stop pedestrians from accidentally falling off the newly-elevated sidewalks, the city built right over the old buildings, creating an underground city where the dregs of society settled. Criminals, prostitutes, scammers, the homeless, all congregated down there. Meanwhile, the Yukon gold rush resulted in many fortune seekers coming to Seattle to deposit their newfound wealth -- making them ripe pickings for crooks. I learned all that from watching a Travel Channel show called "Hotel Secrets and Legends."

As it happens, when I told Clinton and Carter (she's an actress, although the name combo sounds like a Dem presidential ticket from the past) about my TV series idea, they looked at each other and said Clinton was working on a screenplay about little-known stories related to the Seattle Underground. However, he hasn't had much experience writing for TV or movies... and I have won a few awards, was repped by a semi-famous Hollywood manager, had scripts optioned, etc.

In fact, last week  I got word I'm a Top 10 Finalist in the Industry Insider contest, which spawned two prior winners who have gone on to major success: that new sci-fi series "Extant" starring Halle Berry in the ubiquitous CBS commercial spots; and a movie in the works called "The Disciple Program," starring Mark Wahlberg, landed on the vaunted Black List for unproduced scripts in 2012 after winning the Insider contest. So I'm in pretty good company just to make the finalist cut, and I'm thinking this Seattle Underground connection timing could be fortuitous if I happen to win and get some Hollywood heat. The tour hasn't even started, and already things look promising.

Just then, Isabel returns and says, "Look who's here!"

To be continued...

 

 

Fun and Games

April 30th, 2014
By



Groove medium

PROGRAM ALERT: The new May episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (Oceanic cable channel 12/high def 1012). For other viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel low res video segments, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

While thinking about what I was going to write for this preview, it occurred to me that there was a common theme to the four stories. The lead-off segment is about The Groove Hawaii on Ala Moana, which features a go-kart racing track, plus other types of games and fun activities -- they also plan to add a vertical wind tunnel soon, and possibly a wave pool down the road. The next piece is about the Dev League computer coding bootcamp that recently started up at the Manoa Innovation Center. That's followed by a profile of a professional handyman -- "Mr. Tinker" in MidWeek ads -- who moonlights as a musician. And the closing segment is about LinkedIn being a game changer for recruiters/job seekers.

So, can you see the connection to the theme I alluded to? Each one involves work and play. Most of us need to work for a living, but without some kind of fun and games, life would be pretty dreary. Hence, the need for speed, sports, games to suit any age -- the kind of stuff you'll find at The Groove Hawaii. Then you have video games and virtual worlds that exist because of computers and the internet revolution -- that's where Dev League's coding programs come into play. In the analog world, people still enjoy making music and doing things with their hands, be it Mr. Tinker or the Makers Movement we did a segment on in our April show.

But where does LinkedIn fit into the work as play/play as work paradigm, you ask? Well, essentially LinkedIn is the grown-ups' version of Facebook. FB began as a crude way for some nerds to rate college chicks, then added text and more substance to the postings. Eventually, FB became a way for friends to share links to interesting or funny articles, videos, and addictive games that transformed a simple idea into a billion-dollar enterprise. Yet it still left room for LinkedIn to fill the business network niche... a more serious adult-oriented form of social media geared to career goals. Like FB, LinkedIn has expanded their technical capabilities -- and global reach -- enabling users to post their own videos, papers, links to projects, whatever might help make their personal profile more attractive to potential employers, job recruiters or business partners.

When I look back at how job hunting and relationships with employers have changed over the past three decades, the generational shift in attitude towards work and play really strikes close to home. My parents were in their 30s during the turbulent 1960s and very much subscribed to the work-is-work mindset of sticking with one company for as long as possible to get good benefits and have a secure retirement. Play was something you did only if you had lots of money and time to fritter away. I didn't become a teenager until the Seventies, but I identified with the '60s counter-culture movement that had sprung up -- the generation that eschewed corporate bondage and flipped the Puritan live-to-work ethic to the pursuit of individual self-fulfillment, whatever that might be. Which put me and my siblings at odds with the folks, who frequently reminded us that "life is not about having fun!"

Except it is. I watched my parents age and stop playing games with us once we got a little older (and to be fair, we pulled back from them as well). Since they devoted so much of their life to work -- to support us and provide for us too -- they didn't have time or energy for play. They had a comfortable nest egg when they retired, but had lost interest in play... they didn't have any hobbies, didn't care about sports, didn't want to go to Vegas or travel. I think a lot of older folks from that generation are similar in that regard, maybe more so on the Mainland than in Hawaii -- like in that recent movie, Nebraska. Talk about bleak and depressing.

The irony is that much of the stuff I loved to do for no recognition or reward as a kid, now seems so far removed from my original idea of "fun" because grown-ups have turned sports and games into such serious business. It becomes all about proper technique, winning and losing, accounting balance sheets, political correctness, posturing, ego, and most of all, money.

Anyhow, it just reminds me that life is short. Go out and have fun this weekend! Play games, find something that gives you enjoyment. Pick up a musical instrument or a paint brush. Do something, create something with your hands or mind. Work can wait...

 

Must Sea TV

April 23rd, 2014
By



Haven’t had time to post here recently since I’m currently editing the next Career Changers TV episode for May. But I wanted to take a moment to recommend you watch a couple of other shows for completely different reasons.

On Thurs., April 24 at 8 PM, PBS is airing There Once Was an Island, a documentary by Briar March.  It’s about the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the people who inhabit a tiny atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea.  As you watch the villagers debate what to do – leave or rebuild, even as the next storm threatens to destroy their homes again – there’s a sense of déjà vu because we’ve heard these same arguments in Hawaii and elsewhere. Some say these are simply acts of God, or nature at work; others contend global warming is the culprit.

I got to meet the filmmaker through my show’s videographer, Stanford Chang, and his wife, Shirley Thompson, who has edited a number of PBS projects. Briar is a petite, charming, fair-skinned woman from New Zealand, who lived on that remote island for several months while filming the story. Yet she seemed to have no trouble adjusting to village life or fitting in despite the cultural differences. In part, I think it was because they shared a common desire to find some answers to the villagers’ dilemma.

On the opposite end of the cultural spectrum is the new HBO show, Silicon Valley by Mike Judge. A lot of people know him for his animated series, Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill. I wasn’t a big fan of either, but thought his movie Idiocracy was painfully funny in portraying the demise of Western civilization as being the result of stupid people out-breeding more intelligent couples who choose to have only one or two children. At times, the movie's satire is so spot on, it almost seems like a documentary.

He also wrote and directed Office Space, which is kind of a 1999 foreshadowing of the coming high tech revolution in which workers reject their corporate overlords to start their own anti-corporate companies with funny names like Yahoo, Google, Twitter -- and "Hooli" in the new HBO series. Since I’ve been doing my own Career Changers segments on local startups, accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurs, I had to laugh out loud when I saw amped-up versions of those types in Mike Judge’s semi-fictional Silicon Valley world.

WARNING: there’s a fair amount of profanity, bad sex gags (the geeks and high tech superstars still reek of testosterone even if they’re nerds) and the coding jokes will probably go over most peoples’ heads… but it is also right on the mark when it comes to dissecting a society that cares more about how fast we can download music files, than how fast our islands and shorelines are disappearing because of climate change.

If we didn’t laugh, we’d have to cry.

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Speaking of  startups and entrepreneurs, the current episode of Career Changers TV features segments on the Honolulu Mini Makers Faire and local inventors. For daily viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel, please go to www.CareerChangers.TV.

Dev League Computer Coding Scholarships

April 9th, 2014
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While filming our segment about the first-ever Honolulu Mini Maker Faire at Iolani School last month, I heard about Dev League's coding boot camps and introductory programs for kids who have an interest in computers. We just had a brief mention of them in the piece that's running on the current episode of Career Changers TV, but that led to Russel Cheng calling me to talk more about what they're doing... and I'm glad he did, because it's directly related to many topics we've covered on my show.

We've done a number of stories about startups, business incubators and accelerator programs, which all have one thing in common: they need people with computer coding skills to set up websites, program software and create apps for smart devices. Yet there were no intensive hands-on training programs in Hawaii to teach coding in a concentrated time span, according to Russel, until they launched Dev League's boot camps a few short months ago. He believes graduates who complete their 12-week course will have a good chance of receiving high-paying job offers from big companies that he and his partner, Jason Sewell, are working with -- and that's the key to justifying their price tag of $10,000 per student for the program.

It sounds like a lot of money... and it is, but if you compare it to college costs for courses and degrees that may not lead directly to any kind of employment in that field, it seems like a much better deal for anyone who wants a career in high tech. What's more, if coming up with the tuition is a challenge, you may be able to qualify for a scholarship or financial assistance. I'm copying excerpts from the Dev League press release below. We'll be doing a segment on them for our May episode, but you can find links to our Mini Maker Faire video on the CCTV YouTube Channel and daily viewing times for Career Changers TV by clicking here.

BTW, there's still time to sign up for their next "part-time" 26-week course,  April 28 - October 25 Wednesday & Thursday 6 - 10pm, Saturday 9am - 8pm

From Dev League's press release:

Dev League to Advance 21st Century Technology Competency in the Islands Announces Scholarships and Tuition-Assistance for Coding Courses
In its groundbreaking business initiative to bring technology competency to the Islands, Dev League today announced two scholarships: a tuition-assistance loan plan and a federally-funded workforce development program to help motivated individuals learn professional web development at its coding boot camp. Located at the Manoa Innovation Center, the 12-week program aims to ready students for jobs in entry-level web development both here in Hawaii and on the mainland.

According to LinkedIn, the top 25 hottest skills of 2013 required coding skills. Technology skills are highly valued. Web programming was number 13, right between number data engineering and algorithm design.

The Women Who Code scholarship is 25 percent off cost of tuition for a single selected applicant to a qualified female applicant. The low-income scholarship is 100 percent off cost of tuition for a single qualifying applicant. Both scholarships are sponsored by Dev League to increase diversity and opportunity in the tech industry.

Dev League’s partnership with Upstart.com is a tuition-assistance plan that enables applicants to finance their tuition over a term of five or 10 years based on future income. This unique loan program helps match qualified “upstart” individuals with “backers” who make offers to help fund an individual.

Oahu WorkLinks job development program enables qualified applicants up to 80 percent tuition assistance to Dev League via its federally funded job training services as part of the Workforce Investment Act program. To learn more about the scholarships, tuition-assistance programs and to apply, visit the Dev League web site at http://devleague.com/apply. The company has posted three new courses on its web site (click here).

Bread and Circuses

May 31st, 2013
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Program Alert: The June episode of Career Changers TV will premiere Sat. night, 8:30 PM on OC16 (now found on channel 12 or high def 1012). For other daily viewing times, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Looks better on real TV though!

As you may have guessed from the headline, the theme of the new episode involves circuses (no, not UH sports or politics) and sustenance... or to be more precise, how to save money on food. When you think about it, that sort of sums up the two main things in life: what we need to survive and our desire to be entertained. Everything else is a means to one of those ends -- we work to eat, and to spend money on stuff that fulfills us on an intellectual or spiritual level.

So we have segments about the new Aloha Live show in Waikiki that focus on producer Tuffy Nicholas and director Mathieu Laplante. Tuffy was born into the circus life. His love for both the old time Big Top tradition and modern Cirque du Soleil type acts is clearly evident when he talks about his current enterprise, and his plans to unveil a Big Top circus on Oahu in September before taking the show across the Pacific Ocean to Asia and the Philippines. Mathieu's background was gymnastics in Canada, which led to him performing in the Cirque du Soleil "O" show at the Bellagio and touring with their  "Saltimbanco" show. I've seen "O" twice and it was even more incredible the second time around when we sat closer in the premium seats.

What's unique about Aloha Live is how they mix Polynesian and cirque type entertainment in an open air setting on the third floor pool deck of the Queen Kapiolani Hotel across from the zoo. Dinner starts around 6 PM as the sun is setting while you gaze out towards Diamond Head. When it gets dark, the performances look even more spectacular, particularly the Polynesian fire knife dancer act. Another highlight locals will appreciate is Vili the Warrior. Yep, the former unofficial UH football mascot back in the June Jones days, has found a new home that really suits his personality. The guys he picked out of the crowd were so funny in their responses to Vili's antics that I thought they might be plants, like what they do at the beginning of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas... but no, these were just regular guests who were having a blast on stage.

Aloha Live offers a nice kamaaina discount too. When you add in the cooked-to-order dinner, it's a great deal for locals (make sure you mention you heard about it through Career Changers!). Here's the YouTube link to the piece about Tuffy and Mathieu's segment. For more info on Aloha Live, visit their website.

In regards to the bread angle, we did a story on the Star-Advertiser's Smart Shopper extreme couponing seminar, which featured a woman who turned coupon clipping into a career after her husband posted a video of a shopping excursion on YouTube -- which producers at TLC just happened to see when they were in the planning stages of the Extreme Couponing show. It's simply amazing how YouTube has changed the face of not just entertainment, but business as well. It has enabled anyone with a video camera to launch new ventures or be discovered as new talent. Even traditional advertisers are reaping the benefits of having low budget videos produced that can find niche markets on the internet. For example, segments we filmed for Remington College and Argosy University that first aired on OC16 two years ago, are still getting 300 to 400 views per month online -- and these are serious 4-5 minute long pieces, not 30 seconds of cats jumping in boxes or doing silly things.

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Also, we have Part 2 of our Waimea Valley tour, which dovetails with the first-ever Waimea Valley Summer Concert Series commercials we produced and will be premiering on the new June episode. It's a terrific deal for anyone who loves local music: $35 for three concerts, each featuring four different music groups that span generations of island talent. Click here to see the commercial for the Generations concerts, and here's the link to the 30-sec spot we did about their events facilities.

Coincidentally, two months after we featured the Waimea Valley volunteers program coordinator -- Hoku Haiku -- on Career Changers TV, I picked up a copy of the current AFAR magazine issue and there he is in an article titled, "Authentic Aloha"! His personal essay is followed by a two page spread on"Hoku's North Shore Wanderlist." If you're into travel, pick up or subscribe to AFAR.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to check out my new Career Changers TV show this Saturday night, exclusively on OC16!