Monthly Archive for July, 2009

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Judith Hill: The woman who sang “We Are The World” and “Heal the World” at the Michael Jackson Memorial

judithhillThough many of my friends were lucky enough to receive tickets for Michael Jackson’s Memorial at Staples Center, I was just grateful to have a job where I could work from home and avoid getting on any roads until it was all over. I brought my laptop into my TV room and worked with the Memorial playing in the background.

While there were many heartfelt speeches and performances, my attention was piqued three distinct times:

1) Al Sharpton mentions Asians!
Al said, “It was Michael Jackson who brought Blacks & Whites & Asians & Latinos together. It was Michael Jackson that made us sing We are the World.” Whoo! It’s not just about being black or white… there are other colors, too!

2) Asian-looking woman singing “We Are The World” and “Heal the World.”
Because the performers for “We Are the World” and “Heal the World” were not identified in the handouts at the Staples Center, a lot of people were wondering who this mystery singer was. Rolling Stone later revealed her identity as Judith Hill, a Pasadena, California-based vocalist who was to be one of the backup singers for Jackson’s This Is It! concerts at London’s O2 Arena. And, yes, it turns out this woman is indeed partly-Asian, her bio says: “Judith was born in Los Angeles and raised in a family of musicians. Her mother is an immigrant from Japan who met her father in a funk band in the 1970s.” (Check her myspace!) I thought she did an amazing job, especially considering that she and many of the other performers on stage were actually rehearsing with Michael just two weeks ago for the shows in London. This must have been a very emotional time for them, as well.

3) Paris Jackson’s heartfelt words of love for her Dad
Ok, so this one had no Asian connection, but having lost my father three years ago, I know how painful it is to lose someone you love like that. There is nothing quite like being Daddy’s Little Girl. And little Paris, who had the eyes of the world on her, was so very brave to speak from the heart in front of all those people like that.

Photo of Judith Hill from her website:

Former Taiwan Vice President Annette Lu speaking on Independence Day…

…about Taiwanese Independence.

Rough paraphrase of former VP Annette Lu:
"Taiwan has been independent since March 23, 1996 when the people of
Taiwan were empowered to elect their own President."

From Joz:
If you believe in freedom, believe in Taiwan!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

At an event with former Taiwan VP Annette Lu

My Mom and her choir will be singing songs in Hakka and Taiwanese.

Pecked out on my iPhone. Sorry for any typos.

Thinking of Dad… 3 years after his passing…

Today was the three year anniversary of my Dad’s death and so I tried not to let myself get down too much. I’ll admit it; I still have a lot of tough days, and I am so grateful to my family and friends for being there for me when I have them. But whoever told me that time would mend my broken heart was right. My heart will never be quite the same, but I don’t feel so brokenhearted on a daily basis. I still miss my Daddy a ton, but I’m able to get up every morning without feeling like a complete and utter wreck anymore… well, not all the time, anyway.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over losing my Dad, but I guess that’s the sort of thing some people never “get over,” and I’m ok with that. I still hurt when I see pictures from my Dad taken just days before he had his aneurysm (I can’t believe I know how to spell that now), because none of us knew what was coming and how everything was about to change. But now I can look at other pictures and really remember and the good times we had. Like in this picture below when we were at a wedding reception held on a chartered boat in Newport Harbor. The bride and groom were relatives (Dad’s side) and this picture was just me and my Dad. (Photo taken 9/14/2003) Look how much fun we’re both having. Can’t you see it in our faces? That was a great night.

Joz & her Dad

Pictures like this used to make me really sad because I’d think about all the family weddings we’d attend and how I know he was looking forward to walking me down the aisle if I ever got married. I guess it was thinking about all the things that we never will have a chance to do that has been the hardest. I thought that he was missing out on all these life events, and it’s true, he wasn’t there to physically cheer me on when I got my MBA last year. But the truth is, he WAS there with me and not just for the big “life events,” but also the really small things, too. He was always in my heart and in my mind when I was going to my classes and working on my projects and taking my tests and when I received high honors from the Dean for my grades. I feel like I now really understand how he’s always with me all the time; it’s because he’s such a huge part of who I am.

Like today when I had pizza for lunch, I thought of the time my Mom wasn’t around to make dinner so my Dad took me, my Bro and one of Bro’s friends to the local Pizza Hut for dinner one night. I think I must have been in junior high or so when this happened. I had gotten up from the table to get something and when I got back, the three of them were staring at me, waiting for me to do something. I wasn’t sure what was happening and I got really suspicious, but none of them said a peep. So I took a bite of my pizza and all three of them (my Dad included!) started giggling. I was SURE someone had done something like snot on my pizza, but my Dad said, “I wouldn’t let them do anything to your pizza.”

Only partially appeased, and trusting my Dad wouldn’t let me eat a booger pizza, I said something like, “Well, did you guys do something to something else other than my pizza?”

Dad said, authoratively, “Why would we do something like that?”

I was still suspicious, but I didn’t really know how to counter my Dad. He’s a pretty straight-forward guy when it comes to things, so I took another bite of my pizza and then my brother and his friend started busting up. I was pretty sure I had eaten noogie pizza at that point.

I threw my pizza down on the plate and spit out the bite I had eaten on to the empty spot next to that. “Bleh! What did you do to my pizza?!”

I reached over for my soda to wash out whatever disgustingness I’d just taken a bite of and took a giant swig of Dr. Pepper pepper soda. That’s right: pepper soda. There was a ton of PEPPER in my Dr. Pepper! Aaarrgh! I spit the Dr. Pepper and pepper out on top of my half-masticated pizza bite and reached for the napkins. My Dad handed me a giant stack as I started wiping my tongue off.

He was laughing maniacally, as were the two boys sitting across from me. I was ready to punch my brother.

“Bro!” I shrieked his name as loudly and shrilly as I could. “Why did you do that to my soda!?”

“Joz, I swear it wasn’t me!” said Bro.

I turned to his friend, who would about to get pounded because he was still laughing, too. “I thought you knew better than to mess with me,” I started to threaten. He was laughing, but shaking his head and pointing at my Dad. And Bro’s finger was pointed in the same direction.

There was Dad, snickering to himself at the entire scene that he’d caused. And he was totally busted by his cohorts.

Dad had pranked me! I didn’t immediately think this was very funny, so I very crossly went to get myself a new cup of soda, but when I got back my Dad (still laughing) apologized very quickly.

And then he asked me, “Did you get some more Dr. Pepper?” I looked over at him and he was holding out the almost-empty pepper shaker in my direction with a twinkle in his eyes, and the smirk of a naughty school boy plastered across his face.

I so wasn’t cross after that.

Anyway, I love you, Daddy. And miss you so much. Even the silly Dr. Pepper jokes. Or maybe especially the silly Dr. Pepper jokes.

Let me show you my pet monkey…

I actually posted this over a year ago at 8Asians, but didn’t post it on my personal blog.

So here it is again, in its original (and updated) form:

I have quite a few Taiwanese blogs showing up in my RSS reader and every so often a post will catch my eye. Over at, there was an interesting post entitled Orangutan Alert and Other Strange House Pets

IslaFormosa teaches English in Taiwan and…

I was teaching apologies and excuses to my students. I gave an example of a lousy excuse: “I really wanted to but I had to look after my pet monkey.”

Being Canadian, I thought this was really ridiculous and far-fetched. One student looked perplexed though. I asked her what was up and she said that, in fact, her neighbor across the street actually had a monkey.

“Are you sure?”, I asked.

“Yeah, it’s orange.”

Orangutan immediately came to mind. I probed a little further but she started to become quiet after I mentioned that orangutans where banned as pets (and in Taipei city no less!!!).

The post goes on to mention that 1,000 baby orangutans were smuggled to Taiwan from Kalimantan on Borneo between 1985 and 1990 and sold as exotic pets.

The reason for this surge in orangutans as pets? A popular Taiwanese television program that featured a live orangutan as the perfect pet and companion!

Not surprisingly, smuggling and poaching was how baby orangutans got into Taiwanese homes. Also predictably, the cute and cuddly baby orangutans grow up and become not-so cute and totally unmanageable adult oranugtans. In 1990, the Taiwanese government made it illegal to have orangutans as pets, but I guess some of them are still around.

This reminds me of a story that my Mom told me about her older brother (my uncle) when they were growing up in Taipei. Mind you, this was a different time, so Taipei wasn’t as urban then as it is now, but basically, my uncle had a pet monkey (I don’t know what kind; my Mom just said it was a “猴子,” she didn’t say it was an orangutan “猩猩”). I guess my uncle LOVED this monkey and raised it from from it was baby. As it got bigger, no one could control this monkey and it would run around the house getting into everything and throwing its doody all over the place, but my uncle loved the monkey so much that he let it do whatever it wanted. And since my uncle was the oldest boy, anything he wanted went.

One day, the monkey was doing its usual uncontrollable thing and it got outside and some school kids (neighborhood kids?) were picking on the monkey… throwing rocks and stuff at it. The monkey freaked out and it tried to get away by climbing the electric pole. My uncle was yelling at the monkey to get down, but of course the monkey didn’t listen to him. It was jumping around and then swinging from place to place until it reached up and grabbed some electrical wires where it was promptly electrocuted to death and fell to ground into a lifeless pile in front of my uncle’s eyes.

My Mom said she had never seen her older brother cry over anything before and never forgot that monkey or how it died.

Anyway, I guess the point of all this is that people have different ideas about what animals are appropriate as pets. You would think in this day in age that people know that monkeys aren’t appropriate pets. But even in modern day in urbanized places like Taipei, some people still have wild boars chained up in front of their homes/stores.

What are some of the strange pets that you’ve encountered?

NOTE: My brother informs me I have some details wrong in my monkey story, so I am edited for further accuracy [via strikethrus]

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