‘Tis been a good season for family newsletters that normally flourish during the holidays. I don’t do these recaps of my life and experiences, mainly because I do ongoing Facebooks postings or columns throughout the year.

This past Christmas, I pored through some of newsletters that came with either a family portrait or a Christmas card, and wowie — some tidbits of joy and milestones provided appealing revelations of achievements. Some do terrific reportage of the past 12 months; others try but are not particularly precise in reportage. Not that it matters, but you need to have the smarts to make your chats appealing.

One of the best do-ers of these recaps is Mo Bright, widow of Ron Bright, mostly because her family is so active, there’s never a lack of news.  Back in the day, birthday celebrations were highlights of the chats. They still are, and if you want to send a shout-out to Mo, who admitted turning 80 this past year, and her eldest son, Clarke Bright, celebrated his 60th, do so, belatedly.

Bright family portrait, which accompanied a newsy annual newsletter at Christmas time.

But clearly, her ‘ohana accomplishments are something to shout about; show biz run through the family DNA, making the profiles involving. FYI, Clarke is maestro of the Royal Hawaiian Band and wife Lynell grooms and teaches chorus kids at Kamehameha. Their children, Chris and Candace Bright, have moved back to Hawaii, settling into a family rental in Waipahu. He continues to write film scripts and is a photography hobbyist, and occasionally performs on stage. She completed her final year of residency at a Sacramento hospital. Younger brother Timbo resides in New York and will be watching for Broadway auditions.

Jodi and Lee Stein (she’s the only Bright daughter) are formally retired now; their eldest daughter, Lauren, has a new beau in Jared Rish, a Naval officer. Their daughter Mio, Mo’s youngest grandchild at 10, is an outdoors sort who finds joy in swimming and ju-jitsu.

Michael and Jade Bright continue life as educators; he, as a math teacher at Kamehameha, and she, as a kindergarten teacher at Ahuimanu. Their eldest, Caity, is a university student and Target employee. Brother Drew, a freshman at Castle High School, is a theater enthusiast who played the role of Dmitri in the Castle Performing Arts Center’s “Anastasia” last month at the Bright theater named after his grandfather Ron. Other brother Colton is in middle school at Kamehameha, and he delivered an oli at Disney Aulani this past summer.

Of course, a roster of Bright-ers were part of a virtual performance of the I’m a Bright Kid Foundation’s summer special, “Brighter Still.”  That tag could be applied to the heartbeat of the Bright ‘ohana, brightening the casts whenever feasible. …

The Tanaka camp

Nanci Tanaka

Nanci Tanaka, widow of singer Teddy Tanaka (formal surname, Chinen) devotes much of her time as a River of Life Mission volunteer, but their children have show biz and education-related jobs.

Daughter Harmoni and her husband Dan Cruz reside in Manhattan Beach, Calif., where she is an attorney for Amazon Films International and he is vice president at Disney for marketing and partnershiup for Marvel Studios. Their son Cameron Takashi and daughter Caia Kiyoko are Loyola Elementary students, too young for show biz yet.

Son Nate Chinen and wife Ashley, along with daughters Athena and Rosalie, moved from New York to Philadelphia. He previously was a jazz critic for the New York Times, and now writes a blog and is associated with WGBO/National Public Radio, enabling the NPR station a digital footprint in jazz.

Another daughter Sheri, and hubby John Gizis, are professors at Rowan and Delaware Universities, respectively…

Words worth sharing

Frances Kakugawa

Frances Kakugawa, a poet from Kapoho and a former school teacher who now is a noted and published poet as well as motivational speaker on Alzheimer’s and caregiving,  completed her fifth Wordsworth book (awaiting a publisher’s green light). She says a musical based on the first two volumes of her Wordsworth mouse character’s adventures, has been further delayed till next spring, when the University of Hawaii at Hilo will stage “Wordsworth the Musical.” A Hawaiian language version will be taped for a future Hawaiian festival event.

The pandemic, nearing its third anniversary, has turned Kakugawa, a very active senior citizen, into an online shopper – and briefly transformed her into what she calls “a dysfunctional alien, 10 on the Embarrassment Scale.”

She used to do in-store buying at Trader Joe’s and Raley’s in Sacramento, where she now lives.

She hustles her carts through the check-out counters, but on one occasion, she walked off unknowingly not paying till she was stopped with a shameful “Ma’am, you need to pay for your purchases.” Her retort later: “This is what online purchases will do.”

Her newsletter didn’t include  a chuckle but she shared an incident on Facebook.  An Amazon order was shipped to her home; anticipating delivery, she left her front gate open so the delivery person could place it close to the home. But a thief stole the wrapped box, forcing her to report the misdemeanor to Amazon, who promptly agreed to resend the order. And then the errant box returned, opened with a book sticking out. “Not a reader,” said Kakugawa. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


  1. I’m always humbled and honored to be among such distinguished people, Wayne. Thank you for keeping me alive as a writer. I wish there were better words than “thank you.” frances

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