Friday, July 4, 2014

Two Halves

On this July 4th I am torn in two halves. My American half celebrates the good and self-evident truths espoused and affirmed in the Declaration of Independence - those of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

But I have a second half, the knowledge of which I was deprived until two months ago when CEO Kamana`opono Crabbe of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry seeking to clarify the political status of Hawai`i under national and international law.  Since then it has been revealed to me that as a matter of citizenship I am not only American, but also Hawaiian.  By “Hawaiian” I do not refer to a concept of race or culture, but one of nationality.  Despite the overthrow of its government in 1893, Hawai`i as a sovereign nation continues to exist, and the U.S.A. does not have legal jurisdiction over Hawai`i to this very day. 

This fact, were it to become common knowledge, would have far-reaching implications for America.  Its role as leader of the free world is thrown into question as is the status of its president, as to be born in Hawai`i is to be born outside of U.S. territory.  As I type this message the Department of the Interior is conducting meetings in Hawai`i, hoping to buy off Hawaiian Nationals with offers of Federal Recognition as a Native American tribe.  Secretary Kerry has yet to respond to CEO Crabbe’s letter. 

"Ua mau ke ea o ka `āina i ka pono" – The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.  This phrase was uttered by King Kamehameha III after Hawai`i's independence was acknowledged and restored by the United Kingdom in 1843.  The Hawaiian Nation's independence is maintained in its citizens – all those who descend from the citizens of the Kingdom (regardless of race) who never gave up their sovereignty, neither in the 1893 overthrow nor in the false annexation of 1898.

So it is that my identity is split between two nations.  One is acknowledged and free.  The other is occupied and ignored.  One day the 121-year-long occupation (the longest occupation in history) will be settled, but until it is settled in a true and legal way, my conscience does not permit me to celebrate the independence of one nation while the other is subjugated.

PSA Kamahana Kealoha from Scott Wong on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"I Like Beer, I Like Cheese, O Wisconsin!"

Well, it's the third official post and I've already violated the terms of this blog.  What can I say?  I'll try to make sure it doesn't happen again, folks!  If only I'd known what turmoil it would cause among you!

Since the last post I have gone to and returned from Wisconsin.  I tried to update then, but there was far too much cheese to sample and not enough time for reflection.  I hope you can understand.

Racine was neat.  The sky was as expansive as the miles of farming fields.  I got to meet the family Franks and spend time with old friends Nikki and Ambur as well as make new friends like Kelly, Andy, and Jon, the gentlemanly groom.  I learned that Leinenkugel brews good beer, Culver's is a national treasure, and Milwaukee is about to be engulfed by the incredibly huge Chicago metro-region which now stretches over three states.

While standing on a seawall, I learned another thing; Lake Michigan is a beast of a lake.  Its waves churned hungrily, arching up like talons to snatch me from the ledge into the jagged maw of its saltless depths.  The smell of rot and death hung heavily over the murky green waters which stretched past the horizon, broken only by algae-covered rocks and seabird corpses.  One such corpse caught my reflection in its eye, beak frozen in terror as if to warn me of its mistake.  I clung to the rebar-strewn concrete stockpile for support, but neither the clouds of mosquitos nor the suspicious-looking tent at the end of the walkway could console me.  I heaved a sigh in resignation that the fear and trembling in my heart would be realized with the flow of the fetid tide.

It was by providence that Nikki and Kelly were there, who knew how best to navigate the seawall.  If that sketchy tent weren't in the way we could have checked out the lighthouse, but I digress.

It's a strange thing, seeing a friend get married.  Does that have to do with realizing you're suddenly in the age bracket where people start having weddings, or is it always like that?  The format of life changes so markedly in the time between walking up the aisle and coming back down.  And that's just me, let alone how it must change for the bride and groom.

Okay, enough of that.  Either way, the wedding was lovely, and I am honored that I was a part of it.  Mr. and Mrs. Boyd, I wish you all joy and happiness.  Within reason.

In other news, I am searching for employment with all the dilligence of one who is reluctant but nevertheless sees its necessity.  Tomorrow I have an interview at a hip, new restaurant-tavern thing.  More details to ensue if it goes well.

I think that's it for today's post.  I've got some artworks that I'm almost ready to show, so if I can be bothered with the steps it takes to put them online maybe they'll end up here next time.

Link of the Day:
Today I have two links for you, and one of them isn't a Wikipedia page.  That requirement is too narrow anyway, so forget that I made it.

If you're looking for an interesting and fun-filled blog by someone you might not know, check out my friend Jordon Kalilich's critically acclaimed blog at  He has been blogging consistently since middle school, which is truly incredible.  And he's a funny guy.  Honest!  Though perhaps a more proper term would be snarky.

The bit about Chicago devouring the southern bank of Lake Michigan is only a slight exaggeration.  The term for cities that have experienced this phenomenon is Megalopolis.  I post the link to this article more because 'megalopolis' is a cool word than anything else, though there are some among you who may find it interesting.

Quiz Time! +5 Points max.
What is a more appropriate title for this blog entry?  This is an open-ended question with the most points going to titles I like.  Please no mockery; I don't take to it very well.  Just kidding.  But seriously.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Interview: Chris Jensen

In my first post, I outlined the recurring features of this blog.  Well, I now add another; interviews!  From time to time I will have a chat with friends, musicians, and persons of note.  My first interview is with good friend, songwriter, and occasional dabbler in unconventional cover songs, Chris Jensen.

Justin Stoleson: Mr. Jensen, it is an honor.
Chris Jensen: Please, Justin.  The honor is mine.
JS: You flatter me.  Now, I understand you just finished recording a new song.  It is about some sort of love gone wrong, is it not?
CJ: I think so. I mean, it's originally a Lady Gaga song that I just kind of rearranged. There's a lot of controversy around it right now because of lines like "Jesus is my virtue / Judas is the demon I cling to."
JS: Why the controversial choice?
CJ: A lot of people take her too literally.  I don't necessarily agree with Gaga's philosophies or whatever, but I don't think she's talking about Judas Iscariot at all.  It's about always falling for the wrong people, then still having feelings for them after they hurt you.  That's what I get from it anyway.  I did change a lot of her lyrics, though.
JS: Now, there's a lyric about love resembling a brick...
CJ: Ah, yes.  I even set that as my Skype status thing.
JS: It would take many bricks to build a house, and likely more than one to sink a body.  Can this song be taken as a promotion of polygamy?
CJ: Off the record?  Definitely.  I have a private ranch out in Utah with some of my friends.  I'm not saying we're polygamists, but you know... Anything could happen.
JS: Of course.  Well...  You've developed a penchant for songs with emotional depth and unique lyrics.
CJ: I have a penchant for discovering hidden depth in seemingly vapid pop songs.  One of my favorite cover songs to play is T.I.'s "Whatever You Like."  I sing it as a heartfelt ballad over the piano line from Coldplay's "The Scientist."
JS: You were previously in a band called Spero.  What, for you, is the biggest difference between working with a group and working alone?
CJ: I feel like I have more freedom working alone, but better range of expression in a group.  Working in a group is hard, though.  Arranging practice times that work in everyone's schedule, especially.
JS: Which do you prefer?
CJ: I think I get more gratification from playing with a band.  I become a part of something, you know?  It's a community effort.
JS: Yeah, I totally understand that.  So then, are we going to see a Spero reunion?
CJ: We got third place in last year's battle of the bands.  I'd like to see if we can repeat that or try for something better.
JS: Some would say you recall earnest singer-songwriters like Scott McKenzie or Simon and Garfunkel.  Who or what would you say has been the main inspiration for your music?
CJ: [Laughs] Wow.  I once said that my two biggest influences are Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) and Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes).  I'm not as witty as [Meloy], and I'm not as depressed as [Oberst], but I"m probably as witty as [Oberst] and as depressed as [Meloy].
JS: Did you always picture yourself doing this sort of thing?
CJ: Yes.  By all accounts, I've been wanting to cover Lady Gaga since I was a small child.  My parents tell me my first words were "Mamamama..."  I take it that I was predicting what would become the iconic hit "Poker Face."
JS: [Laughs]
CJ: In all seriousness, though, not at all.  I like being silly by making stupid songs sound serious.  It's amusing for me, but I often begin to consider the songs in question more legitimate than they really are.
JS: Tell us about your upcoming projects.  What can we expect from you in the future?
CJ: Well, I've been working on some new material recently.  One of them is, I think, the best thing I've ever written.  If all goes according to plan, I should have a ten(ish) song collection of demo recordings by the end of the summer.  This is the third summer in a row that I've said such a thing, however.  2009's edition was 80% complete when I abandoned it, though.  Expect to see some of those songs resurfacing.
Also, check out some of my old, old stuff at!

Well, that's it for today!  Be sure to check out The Point Board I added as a seperate page to keep track of everyone's point totals.  It also elaborates on the rules, which you may want to be familiar with before posting any comments.  I may be in Wisconsin the next time I post something, so that'll be fun.

I nearly forgot to add today's Wikipage of the Day!  We're in the midst of a pretty hot July, so here's a refreshing article about The Year Without a Summer:

Quiz Time!  +3 Points max.
Why am I going to Wisconsin?  I may accept more than one answer for this.  Multiple answers from a single person will count as one answer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

It Begins with A Single Step...

You may not realize it, but this is a pivotal moment.  Yes, you, the reader, if you are there, may very well be bearing witness to a new age; one where I can approach a journal with any sort of consistency.

In the half-dozen times I have started a blog or journal, prompted or otherwise, all dried up after about a half-dozen posts.  This likely has something to do with the fact that I possess neither the training nor the inclination for thought-sharing, soul-bearing bloggery.  But this time is different... perhaps?

The fact is, I've been thinking (something I do too much) and have reached one or two conclusions:

1. My way of life needs modifying.  I need more consistency.  This is as good a place as any to start.

2. The only way to become a better writer is to write.

3. I am more at ease writing in a community setting.  The one journaling attempt I wrote more than six entries for was a shared, beat-up notebook-type thing with my best friend.  The content spanned seven years and ranged from poetry to short stories to sarcastic reflection.  It was formative.  It was freeing.  It was destroyed recently in a freak cooling fluid accident, never to be read again.  I figure that blogging amongst friends will recall the ease of writing in that notebook, minus the danger posed by... fluids.

4. A blog is useful as a creative outlet and a means to share artistic material.

Now then, lets discuss the contents of this thing.  Besides the standard blog fare, I plan to post my artings here (which I guess is also standard blog fare).  From time to time, I will also use this space for my philosophical musings, which will be of a highly trivial nature.  The practical-minded among you, ye be warned.  I may also post my song musings, if technically possible.

Those of you who have yet to be deterred and are still reading this, rejoice!  This blog will be an interactive one.  Amongst the regular features will be:

Interesting Wikipage of the Day
I am a Wikipedia addict.  If there is one thing I do more than excessive thinking, it is excessive Wikipedia reading.  Shameful, but true, and at this point nothing can be done about it.  As a consequence, I am compelled to share what I find with you.  I can't vouch for their factual accuracy, but I can vouch for their interestingness.

Music Reviews
If there's another thing I do more than excessive thinking, it is excessive music-listening.  I will share my priggish thoughts on what I hear with you.  If you think there is something I should be listening to, feel free to inform me!

Ask Justin
For some reason, 'About Me' sections have always troubled me.  They are intimidating things.  I am much more comfortable answering specific questions.  Ask anything about anything!  Favorite things, opinions on world events, preference in toothpaste brands... whatever!  Just post the questions in the comment section.  When there's a good amount, I'll answer them.  Don't try any preversions, though.

Quiz For All the Points
I will ask you questions, and if you answer them correctly, you get points!  Once you've aquired a predetermined amount, you win a prize*!

*Prize to be determined

Anywho, I guess that's it.  Will this truly be the journey of a thousand miles?  No one can tell.  I plan on making a post a week.  If I get behind, you have my permission to chastize me about it.  Remember, this is a cooperative effort!  Let's see how long this lasts...

Quiz Time! + 5 Points
Throughout this first post, what movie have I half-intentionally been referencing?