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Uh... um... uh...

August 6th, 2015

PROGRAM ALERT: The August episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., Aug. 6 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a. OC16). We've got stories about the new Lunar Legends Night Stand Up Paddle tour of the Polynesian Cultural Center lagoons, local comedy legend Frank DeLima, and what a typical day is like at DevLeague coding bootcamp -- which has been named one of the Top 20 programs in the entire country! Click here for that article. For daily viewing times of my show, visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

One of my pet peeves, which has been exasperated by my experiences as an interviewer for TV and video projects, is hearing normally articulate, intelligent people drop "uh" or "um" into every pause between sentences or phrases. I try to edit out those unintentional brain farts, but it can make the end result sound choppy and I have to cover those micro-snips with extraneous b-roll shots that I'd rather use elsewhere.

Is it my imagination, or does it really seem like the overuse of "uh" and "um" is becoming contagious? We all do it at times, including myself. For some reason, when I'm making appointments or dinner reservations on the phone, I lapse into it even though I know what I want to say. When I'm interviewing people, I sometimes become self-conscious about asking my subjects to refrain from doing it -- and in the process, I wind up saying something like, "I know it's hard, um, not to uh, say um or uh, but try to pause or swallow the urge to fill silences with um or uh, okay?"

It's risky to interrupt an interview in progress to ask the subject to edit themselves. Some become even more nervous. But I've also had company CEOs thank me for pointing out their unconscious vocal tics. To me, that's the mark of a professional. They take constructive criticism and instructions to heart instead of pushing back or wilting in the face of a challenge to their normal way of doing things.

Which is why it surprises me when highly-paid superstar athletes, coaches, academic leaders, and yes, even professional broadcasters or entertainers fall back on the uh-um crutch. I think in some cases they subconsciously do it to "humble" themselves so they don't appear to be overconfident or intellectually superior. It's like, Hey, I'm just an ordinary guy like you, um, you know what I'm sayin'?

Take Marcus Mariota for example. Terrific young man. From all reports, he's everything you want in a person or athlete -- smart, extremely coachable, humble, goal-driven. But for God's sake, Marcus, please hire a professional speaking coach! You're going to be doing lots of on-camera interviews and post-game press conferences for the rest of your football-playing days, so embrace it. Study experienced pro athletes who know how to work the cameras and deliver more than your basic sports cliches. The unnecessary uhs and ums make him sound like he lacks confidence -- and anyone who's ever seen him play knows how great he is.

I'm not sure why it seems like more people are getting in that habit. Maybe in the past, more teachers used to drill it into our heads not to do it? Or is it we just do a lot more talking these days without thinking first?

Seriously, I read that a recent study shows people who pause while they speak are considered by listeners to be more intelligent and thoughtful. I tell my interview subjects that it's perfectly fine to pause and gather their thoughts before answering a question instead of blurting out the first thing(s) that pop into their heads. Often, really smart people will start out on one train of thought, then in mid-sentence jump on another train going in a different direction, and wind up getting back on the original train a minute or two later. Talk about your editing nightmares.

As it happens, I'm not the only one who ponders the uptick in "pause fillers." Here's a link to a BBC News article about it, and as one of the accompanying stock photos shows, even gifted orators in the highest positions of leadership are guilty of doing it... am I, uh, right, Mr. President?


Next Hawaii movie in works?

July 16th, 2015

jurassic trees

Took some time off for a mini-vacation trip to Kauai, where I proposed to my wonderful wife Isabel 30 years ago at the old Koloa Broiler, which has been replaced by a pizza place. It's been a few years since we last visited that island, and a lot of new shops and restaurants have sprung up from Hanalei to Poipu. But it still retains much of the laid back feel and natural beauty we associate with the Garden Isle.

Speaking of which, if you've never been to the National Botanical Garden across from Spouting Horn -- a.k.a. McBryde Garden and Allerton Garden -- it's really worth checking out. Especially on Sundays when it's free to residents with local IDs! That deal wasn't advertised in the tourist publications, but I asked if they had any kama'aina discounts and was delighted to learn we would save $45 each for the guided tour.

Also, we highly recommend the Hukilau Restaurant at the Kauai Coast Resort in Kapaa, where we were staying through the timeshare we own on the Big Island. All the locals said it was excellent and they were right. Make reservations though because with their ocean views, great service and delicious food, you'll usually wind up waiting a long time if you don't call ahead.

The old Coconut Marketplace next door was kind of like a ghost town, although it's evident they are redeveloping that area. Brennecke's Beach Broiler in Poipu was good too. I expected it to be overpriced mediocre stuff because they have such a terrific view, but prices were reasonable and the fresh seafood was very tasty. The one disappointment was the Merriman's Gourmet Pizza and Burgers. You'd think with the limited menu and Merriman's reputation, they would serve up something better than the average hamburger or pizza. Yet it was just "okay" and not worth the price. Maybe we should have stuck with Bubba's Burgers, which had lines going out the door in Hanalei and Poipu.

Anyhow, when you talk about Kauai, everyone pretty much knows a lot of big movies were filmed there -- including Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, if you take the aforementioned McBryde and Allerton Garden tour, they'll point out where scenes from those films were shot on their grounds. Which brings me to the latest movie project that I heard may be coming to the islands.

Dubbed MICRO it's about a group of graduate students who  are lured to Hawaii to work for a mysterious biotech company — only to find themselves miniaturized and cast out into the rain forest, with nothing but their scientific expertise and wits to protect them. The story is based on a Michael Crichton and Richard Preston novel published in 2011. DreamWorks is producing it, so you can bet it's going to be a big budget tentpole movie. I'm a Crichton fan, going all the way back to his first sci fi book, The Andromeda Strain. Haven't read Micro yet, however.


The new July episode of my Career Changers TV show is on tonight at 7:30 PM, and features master illusionist John Hirokawa plus a segment about the new North Shore Bike Park and pump track at Turtle Bay. You can find other daily viewing times at www.CareerChangers.TV or view segments from the show on the CCTV YouTube Channel by clicking here.

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Pardon My French...

June 29th, 2015

PROGRAM ALERT: The new July episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., July 2 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable Channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a OC16). We've got a fun segment on master illusionist John Hirokawa and the Magic of Polynesia show, plus a cool story about the new North Shore Bike Park at Turtle Bay, which includes family-friendly bike trails, as well as a pump track for advanced riders! Here's a sneak peek.

Our show host, Theresa Tilley, does a terrific job with our segment introductions, promotional spots and on-camera interviews. Recently, a prominent attorney who hired me to do a website video for him commented on her work in a piece we produced about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to help children of immigrants obtain temporary legal status to live in the U.S. He thought she was excellent. No surprise to me, since she displayed the same level of professionalism in the 808HALT human trafficking videos I directed.

She also has a full-time job in sales, representing a huge product supplier for hotels and resorts. Theresa is active with a variety of organizations too, and pops up in lots of photos at fashionable social events with her long-time significant other, Guillaume Maman. "G" as I call him, because my French is terrible, happens to be the General Manager of Loco Boutique. We profiled him in this piece awhile back. Well, G is not just a dashing figure with a charming accent who looks great in formal wear. He's been appointed Honorary Consul in Hawaii by the Consulate General of France -- a pretty big deal from what I understand.

Below is the press release about his new position. Congratulations, Guillaume -- and mahalo to Theresa for sharing this news!

The Consulate General of France in San Francisco has appointed Guillaume Maman as Honorary Consul in Hawaii, effective May 06, 2015. Mr. Maman has been a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii for 28 years and is originally from Paris, France. While in France, he served in the French Airborne Forces and received the medal of National Defense.

Guillaume Maman earned a French Baccalauréat in math, physics and chemistry, studied Economics at the University of Montpellier and a Master’s degree in Finance at La Sorbonne University in Paris. Since 1996, he has been heading a Hawaii based swimwear retail and manufacturing company, Loco Boutique, with locations in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Japan. He has also been the chairman of the Matsunaga Charitable Foundation since 2006 and a board member of the Alliance Française of Hawaii since 2007. Prior to his current position, Mr. Maman held many executive positions with high profile companies such as Louis Vuitton and Waterford Wedgwood.

As Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii, Mr. Maman perpetuates the mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in Paris. He directly collaborates with the Consulate General of France in San Francisco to provide assistance in administrative affairs and protection of French nationals settled or traveling within the state of Hawaii. He also represents the French Republic at official and cultural events in Hawaii and facilitates in deepening the relations between France and the United States.

Guillaume Maman succeeds Patricia Lee following her 18 years of service to the French government as Honorary Consul for Hawaii. “It is an honor to continue the tremendous service that Patricia Lee has provided to France and Hawaii. I feel blessed to have been raised in France and built an executive career in Hawaii, this has provided me with a deep understanding of the cultural differences and similarities between these two places I call home. I hope to serve as a bridge between France and Hawaii.” remarked Mr. Maman.

The Honorary Consul of France office is located at 1436 Young Street, Suite 303, Honolulu, HI 96814. Hours of operation- Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4pm to 6pm or by appointment Monday thru Friday.

Movie Biz on North Shore

June 17th, 2015

Waimea Valley is hosting their first Screen on the Green family movie nights, beginning Thurs., June 18 around 7:30 PM following their regular Haleiwa Farmers' Market from 2 to 7 PM. Pamela Boyar, who co-owns FarmLovers Farmers's Markets, suggested we make THE GOONIES our first showing. As it happens, this is the 30th Anniversary of the cult classic, so it's perfect timing for that film! Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help keep the film series going. Here's a video piece we did on Pamela for our show awhile back.

For the inaugural summer movie nights, it will be every other Thursday. The next one will be GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, which was shot in Waimea Valley, on July 2. You can find the rest of the schedule, plus other info about what's going on at the park by visiting To see the short commercial I produced for them, click here. If all goes well, they may be offering more serious feature films and documentaries in the fall -- or even Dinner and a Movie nights at their Proud Peacock restaurant, which could have food-related themes. Beyond that, we've been talking about putting together a Waimea Surf Film Festival to coincide with the big swells that roll in during winter.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is filming new stuff on the North Shore right now. My cameraman and I were at Turtle Bay on Monday to shoot a segment about the new mountain bike trails that have been developed by Brett Lee, the owner of the Hele Huli activity center at the resort and North Shore Explorers center at the Polynesian Cultural Center's Hukilau Marketplace (here's a segment we did on Brett earlier this year).

As I drove into the resort, I saw lots of huge trucks, trailers, tents set up and knew it wasn't just another TV shoot. This was much bigger. Turns out they are filming MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, starring Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Devine and Stephen Root. Haven't read the script myself, but someone who has told me it was funny. Speaking of not-so-hot scripts, last year I had heard from reliable sources that the "Untitled Cameron Crowe" screenplay was a mess before it even got made. Then it became ALOHA and from what I've read, it sounds like the problems on the page were never fixed before the cameras started rolling.

This is the problem when Hollywood heaps praise on writers or directors for their early work. They develop this aura that shields them from any objective criticism. People suck up to them and tell them everything they do is wonderful -- until their next project bombs at the box office. And even then, some A-list screenwriters and directors can coast for years on the success of one hit movie or TV show.

Anyhow, if you're in the North Shore area Thursday afternoon, check out the Haleiwa Farmers' Market and Waimea Valley movie night!


For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over one million total views. If you're interested in having your business featured on the show as a sponsor, shoot me an email at Mahalo!

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Diana Ross and Other Milestones

June 10th, 2015

DING-DING-DING! One million and counting -- nope, didn't hit the Megabucks slots jackpot in Vegas, but saw my Career Changers TV YouTube Channel cross the one million views mark this past weekend. In an age when videos of cats jumping in boxes or people dancing around to pop hits easily surpass that number in a day, it still represents a big milestone for me because five years ago I wasn't sure my OC16 TV show would even last more than two or three episodes. Posting segments on YouTube was an afterthought. Now, we have subscribers from all over the world. People we featured have been contacted by producers of nationally-broadcast television shows for segments on the Food Network, Travel Channel and Discovery Channel because they saw those pieces on the CCTV YouTube Channel while Googling around for leads on Hawaii stories. You can see our latest videos by clicking here. But you should watch this month's episode on high def widescreen if possible to appreciate the beauty of the quilts that were on display at the Hawaii Quilt Guild Show last month. Just amazing.

As noted in my May 21 post about the end of the Dave Letterman era and Mad Men show, I've been in a New York state of mind (love that Billy Joel song). With Diana Ross coming here to perform this weekend, I had another flashback that reminds me how much things have changed in the past three decades since I left NYC. I was at her 1983 free concert in Central Park -- the one attended by more than 350,000 fans when it started raining, then turned to chaos as young black kids began snatching purses and knocking over stunned, mostly white people who had laid out picnic blankets and brought bottles of good wine and primo pot.

At the time, I lived on W. 89th Street a block from Central Park, where I shared the ground floor apartment of a brownstone with a time share law attorney, who traveled frequently... which meant I often had the large two-bedroom place to myself (brick walls, fireplace, small garden area in back). The Upper West Side was just starting to show signs of gentrification, so there was still a good mix of lower, middle and upper class incomes in that area. But if you went further uptown about 20 blocks or so, you'd find yourself in the heart of Harlem. Rarely did the twain meet in Central Park. Prior free concerts were for musicians like Simon & Garfunkel, who weren't big draws for young African-Americans in NYC, as you can probably imagine.

When all heck broke loose, I was in the vicinity of a group of young preppy types who were distraught and shook up. Two of the girls had their pocketbooks stolen, the guys got punched, they were soaking wet from the sudden downpour, and they needed help. I took them back to my apartment, where they were able to dry off, make phone calls and compose themselves. Turned out they had summer jobs in the Hamptons, where wealthy New Yorkers and the jet set vacation or own second homes. Part of the Hamptons was also a hot spot for gays to hang out during the summer season, as I learned from my boss at a publishing company in Greenwich Village.

The preppy group I rescued were grateful and invited me to stop at the restaurant they worked in if I ever got out to the Hamptons. That didn't seem likely, until my boss -- who was gay and diagnosed with AIDS -- asked me if I'd like to go with him one weekend to his beach house. He wasn't interested in me that way, and he knew I was straight. But his boyfriend was living abroad, he was lonely, scared and knew I liked to party hard -- and that's what people did in the Hamptons. He collected vintage Thunderbirds too, and had a couple at his Hamptons place. We stopped at the restaurant where the preppy kids worked, and they were surprised to see me. I don't know if it was seeing me with Marc (not all gays are obvious in their orientation -- he was though) but instead of greeting me with open arms, they were a bit stand-offish. They didn't offer to show me around town or meet up with me later.

At Marc's beach house, he had disposable plastic utensils, paper plates and cups for me to use because he knew straight people were afraid of catching AIDS from gays, infected with HIV or not. He also had Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer that leads to telltale purplish lesions on the skin. Maybe the preppy kids noticed that when he and I sat down at the restaurant table for lunch. In some ways, being with him was like hanging out with a leper and trying to act like everything was normal while knowing that person was going to die soon. That night, I went to a bar by myself, got very drunk, then took a cab back to his place. He smiled as I attempted to tell him how sad it was for me to see him like this. I started crying, and we hugged. I was too smashed to be afraid of getting the "gay disease" through physical contact. He was just a human being who was dying and all alone. Marc passed away not long after that weekend.

The other lasting memory connected to that Diana Ross concert was what transpired a day or two later in the jazz joint I regularly visited after work. I had become good friends with the bartender, Lee Dobson,  a talented actor who never got that big break to launch his stage or screen career. He was black, smart, funny and we used to joke that I was his "Samurai Brother" after he found out that I was half-Japanese. Most of my friends at the Seventh Avenue South jazz club were black, and when race came up, it was usually joking around about the differences between whites and blacks  -- how we danced, dressed, talked. Jazz music was our common language though.

Anyway, the topic of the Diana Ross concert came up and I told Lee how terrible it was "those animals" came down from Harlem and ruined everything, or something to that effect. There was a look of pain and hurt in Lee's eyes that I will never forget. I didn't consider myself prejudiced, but yes, I had to acknowledge that I viewed blacks from above 125th Street differently than the blacks I knew at Seventh Avenue South. Lee felt things were blown out of proportion because the kids were black -- and he was probably right. Words like "mobs" and "riots" were thrown around by the media, and even myself afterwards. He tried to get me to see things through their eyes -- the have-nots on the outskirts of affluence, watching the wine and cheese set take the best spots in front of the concert stage while they had to push and shove their way through the crowds just to get a glimpse of Diana.

Today, we have an African-American President and I live down the street from the beach the Obama family has stayed at for their Christmas vacations. We've seen attitudes about gays and gay marriage progress a great deal in recent years throughout the country. It's a long way from Central Park and that summer weekend trip to the Hamptons... but there's still too much prejudice, racism and intolerance in the world. New York taught me how to deal with it. Hawaii has shown me that we can do better.

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