Just asking…

Wondering if today’s kids play the string-based game called Cat’s Cradle anymore?

When I was growing up time – back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth – everyone engaged in this simple but complex game, where a long, knotted string – we used to use those slightly thicker cords, in lieu of weaker thread-like strings for crocheting – is placed on both bands, and different motifs are formed.

More girls than boys played this string game.

The task can involve four hands, and even six, at a higher level of complication.

The string can be placed from one hand to another, with fingers taking over, leading up to somewhat tricky configurations.

Online books and video – not a visual tool, back in the day – now demonstrate what and how the cradle can stimulate fun and competition, without actual toys or action figures or iPads.

The string’s the thing.



It’s official: Summer officially has begun, with all the right elements: a stellar story, hypnotic air flights and fights, and the key ingredient named Tom Cruise.

The fact that “Top Gun: Maverick” is a sequel of a film from 30 years ago, when Cruise first took on Pete “Maverick” Mitchell … somewhat astonishing. And then the pandemic stalled the release of “Maverick” for nearly three years … something frustrating.

But the delay heightened anticipation and expanded expectation and the Memorial Day weekend turned out to be the perfect moment to welcome “Top Gun,” which raked in a $100 million three-day gross, which, if international box office is added, meant a $248 million global tally. With today’s Memorial Day (May 30) holiday, another $50 million could be added to the explosive total.

Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick”

The alignment of the delay, the performance of Cruise as the cocky but dependable fighter pilot-turned-mentor, and the public’s eagerness to see the aerial dynamics in movie theaters (which has struggled to fill seats till now) meant the stars were aligned in filmland.

The plot was somewhat predictable, but there are surprises: generals make mistakes, mavericks take chances, a few original characters return, old wounds are resolved, a romantic bond is sealed, and Lady Gaga seals the deal with her end-titles ballad, “Hold My Hand,”
uplifting the soundtrack as folks exit the theaters. Gage’s composing collaborators are  Harold Faltermeyer and Hans Zimmer. Clearly, it’s headed to No. 1 and will be an Oscar song contender next year.

It’s fun to know and hear the “handles” of the military mights: Maverick, Iceman, Rooster, Cyclone, Fanboy, Hangman, Coyote, etc.

And here’s a rarity just might increase: Cruise welcomes fans prior to the film, in a tack-on video akin to a handshake (Benedict Cumberbatch did a similar clip prior to his “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness “sequel earlier). Could more actors and films adopt this policy? …

Elton John doc due on Disney+

A documentary on superstar Elton John is due from Disney Original Documentary and Disney+.

Deadline reports that the doc, entitled “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: The Final Elton John Performances and the Years. That Made His Legend.”

Elton John will be featured in a new documentary with a mouthful of a title.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. But John has been a musical figure not wholly represented in films. The thrust of the doc will be John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour,” when he spent months on tour, culminating in a November gig at Dodger Stadium that will cap his final North American show.

Unseen footage of his 50-year global success will provide essential videos of John earlier in his career, when his shows included lavish costumes and spectacles that reflected his charismatic flamboyancy.

“Rocketman,” the 2019 biography with Taron Egerton as John, explored his life but lacked theatrical vigor since the performance factor fell short; there was no soaring climactic fervor like the “We Will Rock You” finale with Rami Malek as Freddy Mercury in the Queen biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Jay Larrin, absent from the concert scene for nearly three years, broke the drought with a rare appearance Saturday night (May 28) at the Hawaii Convention Center.

He may be a bit rusty, but he’s still trustworthy to put on a show, mixing ingredients that have made him an island legend, hauling in a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts earlier this year.

Yes, he’s best known as a singer-composer for a fistful of hit tunes. “The Koolaus Are Sleeping,” and lots more. He’s also a dedicated pianist, capable of hitting those ivories with unashamed power.

He’s truly a conversationalist, turning moments into personal share-a-story sequences that reflect his glorious global vision of a world without hate, an environment linked to the ‘aina, a posture of perpetuating the soul of the islands.

And clearly, he is a poet at the keyboard, whether he’s reciting a poem that throbs in his heart, or singing out – no, shooting out – the grandeur of “The Snows of Mauna Kea,” his awesome signature that brings out the best of his melodic brand.

Nature. Kupuna. Traditions.

Jay Larrin

These are at the heart of his artistry. And at this one-nighter,  dubbed Na Kupuna Nights, he ended his years of “retirement” freedom, as he uncorked the bottled wine of his wisdom, and purred out the glory that is Hawaii, and in the end, demonstrated that he’s not lost his touch and his brand.

OK, he’s silver-haired now; FYI, he had a haircut prior to this engagement, letting the white hair flow like the snowcaps of his fave mountain. Yep, he’s got a bit of a paunch; like the rest of his aging generation, he moves slowly and cautiously. But he doesn’t disappoint. His memory and manner are sharp. And lord, he’s got a lot on his mind.

He remembers when and how he penned a prologue and an epilogue, to Eddie and Myrna Kamae’s “E Kuu Morning Dew,” and shares the beginning and ending few know about. That’s the poet at work.

He recalls how he was mentored by Pilahi Paki, the resourceful Hawaiian spirit who wrote “Aloha Is,” and worried that she didn’t respond to some minor tweaking he did with her creation, until the late Moe Keale ventured to record the mele that has evolved into a mantra about what aloha stands for.

He confesses he’s long been a fan of Kui Lee and his songwriting skills, and particularly lives by the message of “The Days of My Youth,” which prompted him to honor Lee with a poem.

He reflects on how he wrote “Molokai Lullaby,” as a tribute to Melveen Leed’s birthplace, and one of the most atmospheric “place song” embracing the virtues of the Friendly Isle.

And clearly, his adoration of the islands has fueled his songs. “I Wish You Forever Hawaii”
comes to mind. Emphatically.

Larrin used to run his shows like a piano bar, with his fans and friends listening and watching him at the piano. Over the decades, he’s been serenading in a range of locations, from Castagnola’s to Canlis, from Horatio’s to the Gangplank Lounge of the Moana Surfrider Hotel, and his compositions and camaraderie were always the primary staples.

In the distant past, he concertized in a cozy lounge as well as the main ballroom of the Hawaii Prince Hotel, where he delivered his Christmas melodies and memories, but when the pandemic hit, everything shut down everywhere. A fan at the Convention Center reminded him that he didn’t deliver “Silver Bells” for a couple of Christmases, so he did the tune and invited the audience to chime in, shaking keychains or tingling water glasses with silverware, to briefly celebrate the holidays, belatedly.

He fondly remembers a young Warren Marley, a fellow haole singer-composer-pianist from Idaho, and how they’d hang out, comparing notes, until his buddy’s too-early passing.

He’s haole, too, from Tennessee; he still has somewhat of a Southern drawl, but happily Hawaiian theories and traditions bubble in his heart and soul, and he likely knows more about the islands that have become his home for perhaps four decades.

Bryan Tolentino

The event also showcased the energy and enlightenment of NUENa ‘Ukulele ‘Ekolu, featuring Bryan Tolentino (tenor ukulele), Halehaku Seabury (baritone ukulele) and Kama Hopkins (bass ukulele).  The three (ekolu) have a splendid repertoire of classic and current Hawaiian, with the trio of different ukes setting off melodic magic.

Kuuipo Kamakahi also was part of the bill, serenading outside the dining room, sharing her Hawaiiana with casual charm. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Kumu Kahua, the island theater group dedicated to stage plays by  playwrights who focus on works and themes reflecting the island lifestyle or history, has set its 2022-2023 season with flashbacks to its heritage.

Throughout the new season, Kumu Kahua will acknowledge and address the legacy of its founder, the late Dennis Carroll, a pioneering playwright and professor emeritus of the University of Hawaii’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He died in 2021, but set the foundation for Kumu to seek scripts by playwrights who express and explore island themes and local stories, reflecting the Hawaiian culture in comedies and dramas.  

“It’s particularly fitting that as we look ahead with excitement to the new, that we’re also celebrating old friends,” said Donna Blanchard, Kumu Kahua Theatre managing director. “Community has always been at the heart of the theater, and we are humbled by the enthusiasm of our audiences and the passion of our advocates in helping us to sustain our mission.”

Thus, Kumu is looking to the past as it sprints forward to its 52nd season, which will feature these five productions:

* “Aloha Las Vegas,” by Edward Sakamoto, Aug. 25 to Sept. 25, 2022. About a retired widower, Wally Fukuda, living comfortably in Liliha, till his pal Harry visits from Las Vegas, who proposes Wally does the same, where he can live for a fraction of the Hawaii cost. Family dynamics put a damper on his decision.  
* “Lucky Come Hawaii,” by Jon Shirota, Nov. 3 to Dec. 4. An adaptation of Shirota’s 1965 novel, a comedy set in wartime 1941, where a precarious balance exists between American GIs, local Japanese and West Maui Okinawans. But when Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, martial law is imposed and the world goes topsy-turvy when a new normal prevails.
* “Gone Feeshing,” by Lee A.Tonouchi, Jan. 19 to Feb. 19  2023. Da Pidgin Guerrila’s father’s friend is the inspiration of this true-life heroism journey exploring love, communication and forgiveness. Two brothers go fishing; the older bro comes to terms with his relationship to their dad and his tragic death. With the pidgin guru’s orientation, expect a lot of local lingo.
* “Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers,” adapted to the stage by Keith Kashiwada and John H.Y. Wat, inspired by Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s groundbreaking novel. It’s a 1970s, coming of age tale set in Hilo, where Lovey Nariyoshi endures middle school with the support of her bestie, Jerry. A sense of identity is forged, shaped by white American pop culture and media, that makes her ashamed of her upbringing, laced with the beautiful and the brutal realities of growing up local.
* “Folks You Meet at Longs,” by Lee Cataluna, May 25 through June 25. The denizens, who make Longs a part of their days, are the focus of these raucous monologues, tapping a creepy uncle, a hickey-necked teen, a pickled-mango-craving hapai mom and more.. The play evolved in an award-winning book for Cataluna.

Tickets: $80, returning season subscribers; $90, new season subscribers; $25, student season subscribers; $170, Viewer’s Choice Pass ($10 tickets per pass); $70, scholarship subscription (a season ticket order given away by Kumu Kahua).
Where: (808) 536-4441; email; at box office, 46 Merchant Street, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. …

Broadway’s weekly grosses

No change in the leaders, who continue to lead: No. 1, “The Music Man;” No. 2, “Hamilton;” No. 3, “The Lion King.”

Grosses for the week ending May 15, 2022, courtesy the Broadway League:

Show NameGrossTotalAttn Capacity%Capacity
A STRANGE LOOP$690,667.956,5897,37689.33%
AMERICAN BUFFALO$536,163.904,8686,00881.03%
BIRTHDAY CANDLES$266,797.003,7375,81664.25%
COME FROM AWAY$468,509.245,0488,36860.33%
DEAR EVAN HANSEN$522,763.895,8347,87274.11%
FUNNY GIRL$1,316,457.009,6249,75298.69%
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY$289,305.003,9416,38461.73%
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD$1,163,099.1010,22812,97678.82%
HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE$364,925.004,3415,09685.18%
MJ THE MUSICAL$1,352,143.2010,46811,09694.34%
MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL$537,705.404,7505,20091.35%
MR. SATURDAY NIGHT$858,847.006,5198,33778.19%
MRS. DOUBTFIRE$395,679.005,2228,27263.13%
PARADISE SQUARE$235,604.005,4887,85669.86%
PLAZA SUITE$1,619,810.907,7207,80098.97%
TAKE ME OUT$474,951.234,2114,64890.60%
THE BOOK OF MORMON$941,030.657,6798,52890.04%
THE LION KING$1,636,928.0012,65913,56893.30%
THE MINUTES$386,898.003,8905,33672.90%
THE MUSIC MAN$3,377,554.0412,26812,200100.56%
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA$728,082.267,70412,84060.00%
THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH$115,745.002,3715,29044.82%
TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL$1,015,122.008,62611,82472.95%
And that’s Show Biz. …