Oct 31, 2011

Must be

- Tommy -


(Scottish rock group Take a Worm for a Walk Week album cover)

Oct 29, 2011

Saturday October 29th, 1983

A big day, actually maybe the most important single day of the entire film. Saturday October 29th we get the classic dojo scene where the challenge is set to settle things at the December 19th tournament. We also get the begining of Daniel's training with "wax on, wax off" later that day at Miyagi's house.

For some sampled audio from the dojo scene listen to Kaimbr's Track #6 - Body Bag.

Confrontation at the dojo

"There was a picture that was shot where I'm pointing in the dojo at Pat Morita and they classified it as Karate Kid in this Screen Writing magazine. Karate Kid was used as the ulitmate conflict between light and dark, between Pat and myself, between karate as I used it being a ofensive sport rather than Miyagi's defensive art." - Martin Kove (The Way of the Karate Kid: Part 1)

Sensei Kreese art

Wax on, wax off art

A simple way to represent a simple lesson.

For some sampled audio from the wax on wax off lesson listen to Kaimbr's track #1 - Crane Technique.

Oct 25, 2011


A Karate Kid Blog original

Oct 22, 2011

An interview with 'Girl Ringing Bell', Traci Toguchi

(Traci Toguchi and Ralph Macchio on the set of ‘The Karate Kid Part II’. Photo courtesy Traci Toguchi.)

(borrowed from valdezign/tumblr)

When The Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) announced they were bringing ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ back to the big screen for the 25th anniversary (showing tonight at Dole Cannery), I was stoked. It’s such a cult hit, especially here in Hawaii, and I have fond memories of watching it with my family in the back of our shag-carpeted Chevy Malibu station wagon at Kam Drive-In, as well as re-enacting every scene with my sister and nephew. I was compelled to seek out the only person I knew, personally, that was in the movie–-local ‘renaissance chick’, Traci Toguchi—to get some behind the scenes scoops. Her role in the film (she’s credited as ‘Girl Ringing Bell’) was not only a turning point in the movie (Sato sees the light!), but a turning point in her career. I sat down and talked with Traci (and by “sat down and talked”, I mean, emailed her questions and waited for her to reply) about her experiences on ‘The Karate Kid Part II’, as well as catch up on her other projects as an actor, musician, designer, and yes, baker!

Was ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ your first film? Was it your first “Hollywood” job?

Yes, it was. It’s how I got my SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card. :) (My first acting job was a Japanese commercial for Mitsubishi of Japan when I was 8.)

What was it like working on such a popular movie? Can you describe some personal experiences you had with the stars of the film?

It was a dream come true. My sister and I kept Karate Kid posters of Ralph Macchio on our bedroom walls, so everything - from the audition process (standing and crying, hitting an imaginary bell in a room at the Ilikai Hotel), to the callbacks (on set with many other kids - all needing to climb the tower and cry), to the filming process (did some of my own stunts and had a stunt woman!) , to the premiere in Hollywood (my mom and I got to attend!) - was surreal.

From Day One, Ralph was so kind, thoughtful and professional. We shot that bell tower scene a zillion times (not only in Hawaii in Kahalu’u, but also in Los Angeles in a movie studio parking lot). That required much rehearsal and getting wet, cold, and muddy. After every take, everyone would rush to Ralph, but he’d tell everyone to help me first, and let me to go first to take a hot shower (and clean off for the next take). He made sure I had hot cocoa. I’ll forever be grateful for his kindness.

When my part was extended, and my mother and I went to LA to continue filming. We were in the Shuri Castle set as the shot was being set up, when the line was created for me, and Pat was enlisted to help me pronounce the line, “If not for you, I not be here” with the appropriate accent. He was funny, professional, focused… I recall seeing him many years later at a Perry and Price morning radio show appearance after I sang. He was shocked to hear me sing for the first time. He made some one liner joke like he did when he played “Al” in Happy Days that made me crack up. He was and still is classic.

Although this was Tamlyn’s first film too, she was incredibly relaxed, professional, fun, and encouraging. It excites me to see how much she continues to brightly lead the way for Asian American actresses, as she is beautiful, kind, professional, and talented.

Nobu McCarthy and Danny were also incredibly warm, kind, helpful, professional, and supportive, as were Yuji and Joey and Mark, though I think they needed to stay in their bad boy characters. ;)

Being able to have been directed by Rocky director John Avildsen continues to be one the biggest honors of my life. He took a chance on me, and gave me the opportunity to do more in the film than what was originally scripted (a featured extra part). He was incredibly helpful, warm, and as you can see from his work, brilliant.

The qualities I mentioned in the handful above were recurring and consistent on the set. I was fortunate to have worked as an extra many days to see some aspects of the movie making business at a young age. Even the extras shared a bond, because of the spirit of the cast and crew, but also because of the spirit and nature of Hawaii people.

What other local actors were in the movie besides you and Danny Kamekona?

Interesting question. Quickly Googled. Looked through the IMDB list, but uncertain if any of the others were from Hawaii (perhaps some of the G.I.’s?).

Unfortunately, many large principal roles for big productions - both film and TV - are typically not cast in Hawaii, which means Hawaii actors don’t have the opportunity to audition for the larger roles. In LA, actors can stay “fit” by auditioning for big productions - depending on the time of the year - every week, if not every day. When large productions like Hawaii Five-0 stay for a bit, they provide Hawaii actors the opportunity to work on their craft. We are immensely grateful when this happens.

Were all your scenes filmed in Hawaii? Where?

No. Additional “bell tower” scenes, as well as the bon dance scene were shot in Burbank (Los Angeles, California). I missed my elementary school “graduation,” but had my own tutor. (Sweet, huh? ;)

You and Tamlyn Tomita were also in Picture Bride. Was that a coincidence or did the Karate Kid connection have something to do with that?

Total coincidence. :) Also around that time, we had come to share another thing in common — winning a pageant. Tamilyn was a Nisei Week Queen before starring in The Karate Kid Part II.

Please tell me about your role in ‘Bait’ [a short film featured as part of ‘The Short List’ at HIFF].

I played “Rhonda,” the daughter of the characters played by the great Hawaii actors Dann Seki and Blossom Lam-Hoffman. It was such an honor to be amongst this small cast (other actors included Pomai Brown of 50 First Dates and veteran singer Marlene Sai).

The producers Jason Lau, and John Ching (who was also the director of Bait) were awesome to work with, including producer Angela Laprete, who is Production Supervisor for Hawaii Five-0.

In fact, many that worked on that crew work on Five-0, so it was seamless, and such an enjoyable experience for me.

After the premiere at HIFF (Hawaii International Film Festival) the other night, I was surprised to learn my classmate (same Kaiser High grad!) wrote the screenplay. I had seen his name on the title page, but thought the name could be very common. Grant Ching came up to me (hadn’t seen him since graduation many moons ago), and told me he was happy I was in his film! Small world. :)

Please tell me about your upcoming Hawaii Five-0 guest spot. What was the experience like on the set?

My character is Mrs. Lasko. My husband (played by Kevin Yamada, who’s also from Hawaii, but also resides in New York City) and I are victims of a home invasion. Our scene is with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Lori (Lauren German). The director was the talented Larry Teng.

Larry was professional, articulate, and helpful. Alex and Lauren were so easy to work with. They were also professional, funny, kind, and as you can see on the show, very talented.

Like Bait, I knew many of the crew from other local (film, TV, commercial) productions, so it was like being at home.

The entire experience from Day One much like The Karate Kid II (and Bait, come to think of it), was incredible. The people were professional, kind, and bright individuals who work well as a team.

I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

Any other film or TV projects in the works?

Nothing I can mention now. Regardless, I’m always studying and applying different acting techniques and learning as much as I can (I also teach these techniques to kids, which helps me a lot too).

How about music projects?

Working on album 2, which means that I write as much as I can until I feel good about the round up of songs. I’ve also been working on my guitar and piano playing to write the songs, which have changed the music I compose. I continue to observe how the music industry evolves due to modern technology.

Have been exploring with some bands here. I’ve sat in some jam sessions with some Hip Hop, R&B, and Rock bands. I keep up singing too regardless of projects, so I try to vocalize every day and learn new songs to play and sing.

Tell me about your businesses. Web marketing and baking, correct?

LOL. My business began when I moved back to Hawaii from Los Angeles in 2001, and I incorporated it in 2002 (Traci Toguchi, Inc.). Around 2005, I combined the entertainment (acting, singing, speaking/hosting/emceeing, licensing music, music sales, modeling, etc.) and marketing services (strategic planning, event and project coordination, and public relations, including social media).

Also in 2002 is when I taught myself to build websites, then in 2009 got certified in web design and administration. Since then, I had to teach myself more web development in order to build more practical and functional sites. This had been going on for several years. In between that time, I had done simple code for clients. I used to manage databases when I worked for a nonprofit in Los Angeles, so combining database management and websites is fascinating to me.

This year, I’ve felt more confident, and am taking on a bigger web development/design role with a few of my clients. My intent is not to be a web design/development company. The knowledge helps when I assist clients with strategy. Because I know what can be done, I can make stronger recommendations (am also able to do the work if the client is told that something cannot be done, or if their request takes too long).

My purpose of doing web development/design is not only because it is a passion of mine (besides acting, singing, strategic marketing, technology, and desserts ;), but also because it allows me the ability to build and test sites for other projects. I can’t mention what they are at the moment, but being able to have this knowledge has been invaluable.

The baker comes from being the 3rd generation of bakers in my family (also 3rd gen. entrepreneur). My grandparents, then parents owned and operated Bea’s Pies and Deli in Kaimuki (was an okazuya too from the 1970s, and on my father’s side, my grandfather owned and operated Chevron on School Street. I’ve been working to bring the pies - especially the 2 layered Custard/Pumpkin my grandfather created from trial and error - back (at least seasonally) for Thanksgiving. I also bake some mean spritz cookies, as well as organic brownies. ;)

You’ve also had success on Broadway. Would you do Broadway again if given the opportunity? What roles would you love to tackle?

My dream role would be playing Fantine in Les Miserables (which is not currently running, though is my favorite story/Broadway musical). I used to practice a song she sings - “I Dreamed a Dream” when I had the musical on cassette tape as a kid. :) Singing it still resonates in my gut. Les Miz was part of the Cameron Mackintosh family of iconic musicals with Miss Saigon and the Phantom of the Opera. We got to see and support each other while on the road.Would love the opportunity to perform on Broadway in Manhattan. Being in the national (Broadway) tour was awesome, but since New York is my second home, it would be incredibly awesome.Heard rumors about a Broadway musical of Disney’s Enchanted (or maybe it was in one of my dreams, lol). It’s one of my all-time favorite musical films. Would love to play Giselle (Amy Adams’ character), as I tend to be gullible like her. ;)

Supergator! Tell us how you got involved with this project and any interesting experiences you had on the set. Were you scared of the Supergator? And what happened to that guy you were tending to at the end? The girl never came back with that first aid kit!

Hahaha! Actually, this was a great project for me, as I didn’t have to audition.

One of the producers contacted me (or my agent, can’t recall which came first), and said I didn’t have to audition with the credits I already had.

Flew and got to spend the night in Kauai after the filming, so it was uber sweet.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to “interact” with the gator, as others did. I felt bad for those that needed to act like they were being attacked by something that was digitally created post-filming. Was the gator scary in the film? (I’m asking, lol.) It looked scary from what I saw on the online promotional material. :)

A highlight was getting to shoot a rifle between scenes, which was quite an experience.

I never got to see the film (though people including my mom and aunt kept telling me they’ve seen it), so I didn’t know that about the girl not coming back with the first-aid kit!! That’s hysterical.

There seems to be a bit of a cult following for the film though it is not highly thought of in regards to the overall quality of the production. Perhaps it’s due to all those SyFy airings, I’m not certain. :) I recently received an autograph request stating how I made the movie better when I appeared. I’m sure he wrote that to the rest of the cast too though! ;)

Most of the autograph requests I (still) receive come from LOST fans. Besides Five-0, LOST was one of the best TV filming experiences I’ve had. Although it seemed to be a brief exchange with Dr. Shepard (Matthew Fox), the filming process was rare for a TV show in my experience, because this process was like shooting a film where telling the story took precedence. Blocking was consciously considered and rehearsed so it made sense in the story. By the time we filmed, it was second nature. I feel the success of that show (besides the incredible talent and imaginative storylines) were due to the efforts made to tell the story. After having auditioned for 4 seasons without any callbacks, to have been a part of LOST history (not to mention Lostpedia ;) continues to be a blessing, as the program continues to air throughout the world.

Oct 16, 2011

Oct 15, 2011

Oct 8, 2011

Oct 5, 2011


(from abqbonsaiclub.com)

What is bonsai?

Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is an ancient oriental horticultural art form originally developed in the Orient nearly 2000 years ago. The word Bonsai literally means, in both Chinese and in Japanese tree-in- a-pot. The same word ╩╗bonsai╩╝ is used both for the singular and the plural.

Contrary to what many people think, bonsai is not a specific tree species. Bonsai can be created from many varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines. Both Coniferous and Deciduous trees are used in bonsai. Pine, Maple and Juniper are considered the ‘Classic’ bonsai.

Combining both horticultural and artistic skills the objective of bonsai, regardless of the species, is to create the illusion of fully grown, mature trees in miniature. It involves the bringing of tree(s) and pot together into visual harmony.

Classified by styles, relating to the trunk angle, shape, number of trunks, formal, informal, slanting, cascade or group planting, bonsai vary dramatically in size from tiny shito bonsai trees grown in containers the size of a thimble, to trees requiring several men to move.

A bonsai should have a well tapered trunk and have branches all around the tree aiding to give the bonsai visual depth and ‘beauty’. The lower part of the trunk should be visible and well seated to show its ‘power’.

Wiring branches on younger tress, for as long as needed helps to encourage them to set into desired positions.

Contrary to what many believe, age is not a prerequisite for a bonsai tree. Instead, several techniques can be used to increase the illusion of age. Two advanced techniques, Jin and Sharimiki involve the removal of bark and subsequent carving of the exposed wood create the effect of an ancient tree that has suffered a trauma many years ago.

Bonsai do not differ genetically from trees found in nature. They stay small because they are confined in a container.

History of bonsai
The history of bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is cloaked in the mist of the past but it is now widely accepted that it was the Chinese who first created the miniature landscapes and trees that we now know as bonsai. In Japanese, bonsai can be literally translated as ‘tray planting’, but since originating in Asia so many centuries ago – it has developed into a whole new form. Called penjing by the Chinese, bonsai was believed to have had its start in the Han Dynasty. In this essay I will discuss some of the legends and facts surrounding the beginning of bonsai.

One of the earliest Chinese legends contends that it was in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) that an emperor created a landscape in his courtyard complete with hills, valleys, rivers, lakes and trees that represented his entire empire. He created the landscape so that he could gaze upon his entire empire from his palace window. This landscape form of art was also his alone to posess. It was said that anyone else found in possession of even a miniature landscape was seen as a threat to his empire and put to death.

Another Chinese legend relating to the beginnings of bonsai points to a fourth century A.D. Chinese poet and civil servant named Guen-ming. It’s believed that after his retirement he began growing chrysanthemums in pots. Some historians believe this was a step towards the beginning of bonsai in the Tang dynasty some 200 years later.

The earliest documented proof of bonsai was discovered in 1972 in the tomb of Prince Zhang Huai, of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 A.D.) who died in 706 A.D. Two wall paintings discovered in the tomb show servants carrying plants resembling bonsai. In one of the paintings a servant is seen carrying a miniature landscape and in the other painting a servant is shown carrying a pot containing a tree.

-Bonsai comes to Japan-

Even though it’s the Japanese who get most of the credit for bonsai, it wasn’t until the Heian period (794 – 1191A.D.) that Buddhist monks brought bonsai to the island. For many years following the arrival of bonsai, the art was practiced by only the wealthy and thus came to be known as a nobleman privilege. The fact that the art of bonsai was limited to the noble class almost caused the art to die out in Japan. It was with the Chinese invasion of Japan in the fourteenth century that the art of bonsai started to be practiced by people of all classes. Once the art was practiced by all classes, bonsai began to grow in popularity in Japan. The Chinese influence on the early bonsai masters is apparent since the Japanese still use the same characters to represent bonsai as the Chinese. After the establishment of bonsai in Japan, the Japanese went to great lengths to refine the art and a lot of credit must go to these early bonsai masters. The refinements that they developed has made bonsai what it is today.

-Bonsai Comes West-

The earliest bonsai to come to the west came mostly from Japan and China. The showing of bonsai at the Third Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878 and later exhibitions in 1889 and 1900 increased western interest in bonsai and opened the door for the first major bonsai exhibit held in London in 1909. In these early years many westerners felt that the trees looked tortured and many openly voiced their displeasure in the way the trees were being treated by bonsai masters. It wasn’t until 1935 that opinions changed and bonsai was finally classified as an art in the west.

With the end of World War II, bonsai started to gain in popularity in the west. It was the soldiers returning from Japan with bonsai in tow that sparked western interest in the art, even though most of the trees brought home by these soldiers died a short time after their arrival. They survived long enough to create a desire in westerners to learn more about the proper care of their bonsai. The large Japanese-American population was invaluable to Americans in this respect. Their knowledge of the art of bonsai was of great interest ot many Americans learning the art.