Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wu Bai press conference

When I got to class this morning, I got an SMS from Charlene telling me that Wu Bai would be having a press conference at 2:00 p.m. at Ximen and that Shun (one of the guys in our fan group) was here in Taipei and would show me where. So, of course I decided to go! (Note added 7/2/05: The press conference was basically just an advertisement for a show coming up in August that includes Wu Bai & China Blue, Bobby Chen, Baboo, and some others. I'm not going because the ticket is $80 US and WB&CB will only perform for about 20-30 minutes, so not worth it to me. Here's a link, but it's in Chinese:

I invited Kieko and Hiyoshi to go along with me, since I've been trying to convert both of them, ha. We went to grab some food at the Yamazaki Bakery in the basement of the Far East department store, enjoying being out of the very, very, very hot sun. I tried something they called a "Japanese pizza" and it was darned tasty - and only cost $1.00 US. At 1:30 we headed over to where Shun was waiting for us, and he took us to the place where the press conference would be.

After waiting for a short while, along with other fans who showed up, Shun grabbed me and said, "Wu Bai's here!" We could see that Wu Bai and his entourage (headed by his wife, as usual) had entered the back door, but in the center of the building was a cafe area with a curved glass wall, which made it difficult to see through. We expected the group would just go up the back stairs, but all of a sudden, they were headed toward us. Wu Bai was wearing a very bright yellow shirt and (of course) his sunglasses. He followed closely behind his wife and passed so close to me that I think he actually brushed against me! My first thought was, "That hair is dyed!" and I found out later from an un-named source that Wu Bai does indeed dye his hair ;) Anyway, they went by so quickly that there wasn't time for more than a fleeting glimpse of the man. Darn.

I had expected that this press conference would be a public event, but it turned out that it really wasn't, so mostly we were just hanging around downstairs with nothing to do. I kept apologizing to Kieko and Hiyoshi for dragging them along for nothing. Finally, some of the fans went up the stairs, so I followed and was able to see just a little of what was going on. Wasn't much, they had Wu Bai and some other guys poking their heads through a big cardboard cut-out with cartoon bodies drawn on it. What a surprise to see the funny guy from the Tuesday night show at The Wall there, too! I didn't have a very good view, because a camera was set up right where it was blocking Wu Bai's face.

When the press conference broke up, the fans waited around outside for Wu Bai to leave. Did I mention it was hot? It was hot. Too hot for me to be willing to stand around just to see Wu Bai come out a door and get into a car. So, after waiting for about 20 minutes, I left. I mean, what's the point, huh? It's not as if he's going to stop and chat with us or anything. I hope the die-hards who stayed and waited got a worthwhile glimpse of him!

Now I really need to make it up to Kieko and Hiyoshi for being such good friends and patiently waiting along with me. I know it's always kind of fun to see a star, even if one is not a huge fan of that star, but I still think it must have been pretty boring for them. Hell, it was boring for me, and I love the guy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Taiwan music

Doing a little catching up on the journal & dating the entries the days they should have been written.

Tuesday evening my classmate, Kieko, and I went to The Wall to see Guoxi's band perform. There were other bands also performing, and Mojo was scheduled to be the last. When we got into the pub, the band that was onstage was in full swing, belting out numbers in Taiwanese. It took me a few minutes to realize that they were all blind! I don't know the name of the band, but they were very good and obviously a great favorite with the crowd.

The next band to perform featured a lead vocal/guitar player who is locally famous (I believe his name is Zhu Tou Pi - which translates to something like Pighead or Pig Dandruff, not sure which, neither one sounds good!), and the guy was just funnier than all get out. He kept switching from Taiwanese to a very exaggerated Beijing accented Mandarin, making us laugh so hard. Guoxi is going to let me borrow his CD one of these days when he remembers to bring it with him. They had a couple of guests play along with them, one guy with hair almost down to his waist, so small and delicate that I thought at first he was a girl. I need to find out who the second guest was, because he had a fabulous voice.

Mojo hit the stage very late, almost 11:30 p.m. Guoxi was happily playing his newest guitar from Japan, a spiffy Gibson, and while I enjoyed the music very much, I thought their singer wasn't all that good. His voice was very harsh and he didn't seem to be able to carry a tune. I had to be honest with Guoxi later and tell him that, and he said their band isn't meant to be so serious, that they are more like an "opera" and that the singer is an actor. Not really sure what that means......but I still don't like his singing! Guoxi rips on the guitar, though, excellent player.

So, by the time Mojo was done and had gotten their equipment packed, it was after 1:00 a.m. Guoxi, bless his heart, played chauffer, first taking two younger fans (who both had to be at school at 7:00 a.m. for a test!) home, then Kieko, then me. It was 2:19 a.m. when I hit the sack, and boy was I hating life in class on Wednesday morning! Kieko hadn't gotten to bed until almost 3:00 a.m., and Hiyoshi said he'd also stayed up until 2:00 a.m. because he had visitors from Japan, so the three of us weren't really at our best that day :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Teacher, Teacher, I declare.....

And how many of you know the followup line to that one? hehe

Wanted to tell you all about my student. Well, OK, so he's more of a guinea pig than a student, but I'm still teaching him! Started like this.....

I went to the stadium in Xinzhuang on June 10 with one of the other fans, Tona from Singapore, the day before the Li Hai concert to check out the venue and to see if maybe we might see the guys and hear them practicing. We ended up meeting the stage manager, Cooper, and as we were outside talking with him, a friendly guy bounced over and said to me, "Hi! You can speak English to me, I need to practice!" I looked him over and said, "What a coincidence - I'm looking for a student!" He protested that he was just a poor boy and couldn't pay for lessons. I told him I'd teach him for free if he'd help me out with practicing my Chinese. He agreed, and we exchanged names and phone numbers. He told me his name was Kuoshi and that he'd give me a call sometime after the concert stuff was finished (he was one of the roadies).

After the show, when we'd all finished eating and were heading to the car, I heard someone call my name. I turned around, and there was Kuoshi, pulling his car into the lot at the stadium. I went over and talked to him, agreed that we'd get together sometime the next week after he called to confirm a time, and went back to my friends. Natari was looking at me very strangely. "You know Kuoshi? How do you know Kuoshi???" she asked. "Ah," I thought to myself, "he must be one of the fans who occasionally gets hired to work the shows." I explained to Nat how I'd met him and that I was going to give him some help with English. She just kept staring at me. "He's a famous guitar player!" she said. "What?! I thought he was just a roadie!" Nope, turns out that Kuoshi is very well known in Taiwan, his former band being Trucku and the current band being Mojo. And I'd actually seen them perform, because they opened the Wu Bai concert in Xinzhu last year when I attended that. Boy, was I surprised.

So, I didn't really know what to expect from the guy, because I know sometimes the "famous" folks can be a bit arrogant, but I have to say that this fella is one of the nicest, sweetest guys I've ever met. I am totally enjoying our three-hour sessions, whether we're working on English or just chatting to get him used to conversation. He has a heart of gold and is so very down-to-earth and not full of himself. Another big plus is that he's a HUGE Wu Bai fan, just like me =) I'm happy to have the opportunity to test my teaching skills to see whether I feel comfortable charging someone to study with me.

Here's a photo of Kuoshi at Spring Scream

I do have another student, too, sort of.....because whenever possible I try to help my friend Hiyoshi with his English. However, we seem to end up having giggle sessions more often than not, because my attempts to explain in English sometimes just go right over his head! It's still fun, and it's helping me learn what sort of difficulties a Japanese speaker has with English. I'm finding that Chinese people have an entirely different set of problems with the language than Japanese. English has quite a few sounds that Japanese does not have, ditto for Chinese, but not as many. Let me tell you, if you never made a certain sound throughout your entire life, it is NOT easy to learn how to make it!

A big "xie xie" to Weiwei for being such a wonderful example as my teacher and for showing me effective ways to teach another language! I owe ya ;)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Friday, June 17, 2005

Things I never knew

Well, this reconnection with my father's side of the family is certainly providing interesting information. For instance, I just found out that my great-grandfather on my father's side was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian from Canada! I had no idea that I had Native American heritage, and it just tickles me to death. Every since I was a child, I've been drawn to stories about Native Americans and have felt some sort of affinity with them.

Way cool, huh?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lame excuse #405

Sorry for the lack of recent updates and also for not replying to soooo many e-mails (the inbox currently has 57 e-mails). I know it's difficult to believe that a person with no job could be too busy to write, but it's true! Some days I leave the house at 9:00 a.m. and don't return until 9:00 p.m. Between hanging out with friends, tutoring English (yeah, I have a couple of students and maybe more on the way!), trying to do my own homework, and also fitting in time to relax quietly, not much writing is getting done. It doesn't help that it's been horribly hot and humid lately, which seems to sap a lot of my energy and make we want to just sit on the couch in front of the fan when I'm home.

The hike I had planned for Saturday is off because of the rain, so maybe I can do some catch-up then. I'm alive and well and enjoying myself, hope you're content with knowing that ;)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

This is a test, this is only a test

Somehow I get the feeling that many of my friends aren't bothering to read my journal to find out what's going on in my life. This is because only a couple of people have mentioned things written here, and there are some momentous occasions on this page!

So, this test is simple. If you're one of my friends, and you've read my news, let me know. Those faithful visitors I already know, and I appreciate that you care enough to check in :)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Shake it up, baby

Last night I followed my usual routine of falling asleep on the couch. I can't go into my bedroom to sleep until after 1:00 a.m., because the family upstairs is always banging around in the room right above my bedroom. So, I start on the couch, and I wake up later and move into my room.

At 12:22 a.m. I woke up. I woke up because I was shaking. I mean, my apartment was shaking. Back and forth, back and forth. I laid there, sleepily thinking to myself, "Huh, earthquake." Looked at the clock, wondered if the Noisy Nasties were asleep yet, heard them drop something, and went back to sleep. Sometime later I got up and went to my bed.

So hey, I've been through my first Taiwan earthquake (that I noticed). It was 22 km east of Ilan City. Ilan is on the east coast, so I guess that means the epicenter was in the ocean, and the depth was at 57.7 km. Ilan felt it at 6.0, and Taipei County felt it as 4.0.

Gee, now I'm waiting for my first typhoon.....

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lost and found

When I was about six years old, my father deserted my mother, running off with a younger girl and leaving Mom with me and my brother, who was four years younger than me. We didn't get any financial support from my father, who basically vanished off the face of the earth, and my mother couldn't afford to take care of both of the children. My father's mother contacted Mom, said that her son wanted to take my brother, and Mom agreed, because she didn't know what else to do. We never saw my brother, Johnny, again.

When I was 18, after graduating from high school, against my mother's wishes I contacted my paternal grandmother. She wouldn't tell me anything about where my father and brother were, and when she started trash talking about my Mom, I cut off all contact with her.

A few years ago, when I got my first home PC, I started to look up family back in New York and managed to locate my father's brother's ex-wife. She told me that no one knew where my brother was. I did some Internet searches for the last name, because it's a rare one, but never had any luck. I gave up.

Well, on Monday I had an e-mail from one of my relatives, who had tracked me down because Uncle Pete's ex-wife still had my old phone number in the US, and my ex-husband gave Janet my e-mail address. Seems that my Aunt Jean (I have the honor of having Jean as my middle name) passed away a couple of weeks ago, and the estate lawyer wanted the family to locate my brother and me. And Janet has found my brother, too! She said she'll give him my e-mail address - he never knew he had a sister, because my father never told him. So, I'm waiting anxiously to hear from him. I got a baby brother! This time I promise not to try to kill him, as Mom told me I tried when he was small. Me, jealous? Nah.....

What's in a name?

OK, it's official. The kitten has a name: DZ (just say "dizzy). After watching her running around like mad, it seemed to be the most fitting name for her. For your viewing pleasure, photos can be found at