My places

While I was growing up, my family moved several times at the whim of the Air Force. Now that I'm on my own, I probably won't move again for a long, long time.

Austin, Texas

Lured by the smell of money (and propelled by the boredom of CITGO), I moved to Austin to really be on my own, since I knew very few folks here. Thankfully I soon made some fantastic friends and began to love the Austin lifestyle. I also realized the incredible opportunity for technies like me, and now I'm on my third job (and hopefully my last!). Right now I have no desire to move again, so it looks like I'm here to stay.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

After graduating from college, my wife and I moved to Tulsa to start my big corporate career at CITGO. Tulsa is a fantastic city - small and cheap, but with lots of stuff to do. Generally, all of the things that make me an interesting Mikey happened here - making close friends, divorcing, dating, church jumping, writing, you name it. I still have good friends in Tulsa that I need to visit more often.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Right after finishing 6th grade, the family moved to Oklahoma City, where my parents still live. Here I spent my time in high school, playing with my geeky computer friends, going to college, getting married, and basically growing up fast. I can't say that Oklahoma City is that exciting, but it was pretty peaceful and an easy place to grow up.

Montgomery, Alabama

When Dad returned to the states, we moved to Alabama to a two story townhouse. I only have lousy memories of Alabama (I think my parents would agree). Dad almost cut his thumb off, we had mice in the house, and I had nightmares for weeks after being scared in preschool. After this, we moved back to California where everything was fun again.

Waco, Texas

My mom's side of the family is from Waco, and that's where Dad met Mom. Soon after I was born, we moved there while Dad was overseas during the Vietnam War, so Mom could have the support of her family. I don't remember much about living here, except for playing with my cousins, growing up with my aunt and uncle, and getting presents in the mail from Dad.

Sacramento, California

I was actually born in Carmichael, California, just outside of Sacramento. After I was born, the family moved to Texas and Alabama while I was too young to remember much, and then back to California just in time for me to start first grade. So, when I think of "home", California is it, since I actually did my growing up there. We had a nice house in a nice neighborhood right next to my school, and we were in a good spot to visit San Francisco and Los Angeles (Disneyland!) several times a year.


Western Caribbean Cruise

One of the great benefits of working for Online Agency is our involvement with cruise lines - I was able to take this fantastic 7-day cruise for free! Besides doing a lot of catching up, Nick and I got to snorkel, swim with stingrays, and climb a 950-foot waterfall in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, respectively. Between adventures, there were plenty of cigars and scotch, too.

Typical Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, fruit, coffee, orange juice, and then a box of dry Fruit Loops during the morning talk about today's port of call
Typical Lunch: Cheeseburger, fries, two desserts, and one or more ice cream cones
Typical Dinner: Shrimp cocktail, ceasar salad, two lobster tails or two filet mignons with wine, followed by dessert such as Cherries Jubilee or Baked Alaska with coffee
After Dinner: Lagovulin scotch and Macanudo Caviar cigars in the swank cigar bar
Late Night Snack: Two slices of pepperoni pizza fresh from the 24-hour pizzeria

Cruise Details

During the last week of September 2000, my Tulsa roomie Nick and I took an incredible 7-day cruise, leaving from Miami and circling around Cuba to hit Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We cruised on the Carnival Triumph with 2,000 other close friends, enjoying unlimited food, Vegas-style entertainment and our choice of ten bars.

View photos: Life on Ship

Cozumel, Mexico

Our Cozumel adventure was snorkeling a coral reef there, which felt just like flying. Peering down to the ocean floor 35-40 feet below, we saw hundreds of fish and many types of coral. We also relaxed on the beach and had some excellent chips and salsa, then went back in for more snorkeling.

View photos: Cozumel

Grand Cayman

Our next adventure was swimming with several hundred stingrays! The Grand Cayman sandbar is the only place in the world with tame stingrays, who became friendly after many years of playing and being fed by fishermen here. Standing in four feet of water, the rays swam up to us and played like puppies, letting me hug them and feed them squid out of my hand (they have no teeth)!

View photos: Grand Cayman

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

The last adventure began with a peaceful drive through Fern Gully, then a nice walk through Shaw Botanical Gardens, and ending with the Indiana Jones accomplishment of climbing 950 feet up Dunns River Falls! Legend says climbing the falls adds 10 years to your life, so I should be a happy old man.

View photos: Jamaica


Charlie's Angels : 3 of 5

Another one of the crowd of retro films, Charlie's Angels does most everything right. Although the film is set in today's world, they keep enough anachronisms (Charlie's big speakerphone, huge gradient sunglasses with corner designs) to evoke nostalgia. I know I watched a lot of the series as a kid, but I can't really remember much of it at all, just the music (which they keep) and the lovely ladies (none of the newcomers beats Jaclyn Smith). Lots of cute undercover work and seduction, and unfortunately, also lots of Matrix rip-off fight scenes that are too long. Still a lot of fun - it beats the hell out of the rest of the retro crowd.

Bounce : 4 of 5

Let me say first that I'm destined to buy the poster pictured here, since only Gwyneth could endure a close-up that tight. Of course, I saw Bounce on opening day, which was no small feat in the pre-holiday crowds with poor Ernesto. We were surrounded by teenage girls - this is definitely a chick-flick. Still, it's actually a good chick-flick with no super-contrived lines (which was a breath of fresh air after watching the hideously stupid Autumn in New York on the plane home from Japan). Unfortunately, there are no really interesting plot twists, but the acting is believable and Gwyneth is beautiful, even playing a dumpy widow.


Jedi Apprentice 9: The Fight for Truth / Jude Watson : 3 of 5

So much for hoping for more Jedi Master/Padawan interaction - this story separates Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan for most of the book. However, the story itself is a good one, so I'll let the delayed character development slide again, especially because we get some very cool visions about the Star Wars future we all know. (Specifically, a couple of wise folks have visions of darkness within the Jedi, and even prophesy the Death Star! Plus, Qui-Gon gets in on the action with a premonition of Obi-Wan living alone on a desolate planet.) The additional Jedi characters in this one are no big deal, so I hope they don't move into the next book with our pals.


Kronos Quartet / Early Music : 4 of 5

Sometime during college I got hooked on Kronos, and was lucky enough to see them in concert in Tulsa. Their playing, as well as selection of music, is so incredible that everytime I listen to them my mind drifts into a place where everything makes sense - the clarity of thought is wonderful. I'm not sure if this CD is new or not, but I picked it up because it contains Dowland's Lachrymae Antiquae, one of my absolute favorites. Their rendition is flawless, of course. The rest of the CD is filled with gentle pieces, unlike Kronos' usual harshness.


Pinocchio : 4 of 5

This was a Christmas gift from Mom and Dad in 1999, along with the DVD player, but I recently watched it again at the request of Tom. It still amazes me - such fantastic animation without the aid of a computer! I also love the off-color things that could make it into a cartoon so long ago - Jiminy Cricket whipping out binoculars when the cancan girls dance, the bizarre things on Pleasure Island (like the Ruff House and the Model Home "open for destruction"), and the terrifying Monstro. The music is wonderful and inspirational, if you ask me.


Plan Nine from Outer Space : 3 of 5

Everyone who loves bad movies has seen Plan 9 more than once, and I thought it would be fun to see it again on DVD. The special features, which claimed to be the story of Ed Wood (the director, of course), turned out to be clips of interviews of Johnny Depp and Martin Landau about the making of the movie Ed Wood, so that was pretty disappointing, Plan 9 was as funny as ever, though, from the incredibly silly narration to the paper tombstones and the fake Lugosi covering his face so he won't be noticed. If you haven't seen Plan 9, you should rent it today!


Pocahontas : 2 of 5

No matter how sappy they are, Disney movies are the best. I really buy into the whole Disney world domination mentality - who wouldn't want to living in a Disney world? Anyway, I missed Pocahontas in the theaters, so I'm playing catch up now. I'm sad to say that this is probably my least favorite Disney animated feature. It's painfully obvious that this movie needs the cool CGI techniques they incorporated into The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan, and the "excitement" is so lame that I didn't gasp once.


Presenting Felix the Cat : 3 of 5

This DVD contains over two hours of black and white, silent cartoons from the 1920s, all staring Felix the Cat. I never realized how popular Felix was, and I was shocked to learn how the appearance of Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie completely squashed his career (and even forced his creators into what seem like suicides). Most of these cartoons are really funny, though some have bizarre endings you would never see today (such as Felix ending his own life by sucking from a gas hose when he can't please a girl). The only soundtrack is live organ accompaniment, which is quite creative, but gets pretty old - I don't recommend watching the whole DVD in one sitting!


Pulp Fiction : 3 of 5

I rented this one on a suggestion from Ernesto - we thought it would be fun to see again, especially with director's narration. Unfortunately, Quentin didn't take the time to comment, but the movie is still excellent. A second viewing is so much easier than the first, since you know about the out of sequence scenes. I had forgotten so much of this movie - I completely spaced on the entire Bruce Willis story (I also never really caught that this is just a set of stories like a miniature Short Cuts, but now I know). It's also fun to see the flick that resurrected John Travolta, only to kill himself again in Battlefield Earth.

Madama Butterfly : 5 of 5

I have loved opera since my days of sitting in the University of Oklahoma listening lab and watching videos when I should have been home. I have seen quite a few productions, most of them in Tulsa, and my previous favorite was Tulsa Opera's production of Rigoletto (my favorite opera is Don Giovanni, though). All of this background is needed to say that Austin Lyric Opera's production of Madama Butterfly was the single best opera performance I have seen. The sets and lighting are sparse but beautiful (this is known as the "West Coast Butterfly"), the music is fantastic Puccini, of course, but the outstanding acting and vocal prowess of Cio-Cio-San herself brought me to tears. An absolutely fantastic way for ALO to start the season!


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Pokemon Stadium / Nintendo 64 : 4 of 5

After spending all those hours with Pokemon Yellow (see below), what do you do with all those Pokemon? Battle them in 3D, of course! Pokemon Stadium is basically just the battle mode of all the GameBoy Pokemon games (turn based) with super graphics, very cool fighting moves and effects, and a goofball announcer. Get this and wipe out a Farfetched to see his trembling wing reaching for his leek just before he returns to the Pokeball!