11.30.2000

My cars

Years ago I never would have guessed how many cars I would own. It always seemed like cars last forever before you get your drivers license - then you realize they wear out as fast as tennis shoes. Now that my career is treating me well, it feels so good to have a nice, reliable car - it also feels good to drive fast!

1998 Acura Integra GS

Auto Demise: Still driving (but dreaming of convertible)
Once I was in Austin and enjoying self-employment with The Michaels Group, I bought my first luxury sports car (I wanted a red one, but it was purchased while I was deciding!). I love this car - more power than I've ever had, although I immediately wished I had gone for the VTEC engine in a week. I love to drive because of this car. However, if they make an Audi TT with an automatic transmission, I'll be switching in a flash.

1990 Mazda Protege

Auto Demise: Sold to Ernesto, now seen all over Austin
When I started my big fancy job at CITGO, I bought my first new car for a whole $10,000 (which was pretty much equivalent to my credit card debt at the time). I had to go no-frills, including manual window rollers! Still, this was a wonderful, shiny car that I could squeeze my whole drum kit into, and it brought me to Austin. Now Ernesto proudly tools around in my old wheels.

80s Mazda 626

Auto Demise: Threw a rod on the Turner Turnpike, Oklahoma
Dad bought this car, too, so I got to drive it when he upgraded to something newer. This sure was a nice one - my first sunroof. For some reason, this thing ate batteries like a Walkman, but I managed to get about 130,000 miles on it. After the rod was tossed, I sold it for $100 scrap and declared a loss on my taxes.

1979 Mazda GLC Hatchback

Auto Demise: Totaled in CHiPs-style accident, complete with roll
My first car was a hand-me-down from Dad. It was brown and conservative, but the rip in the seat sewn up by Mom with huge stitches gave it so much charm that I named it Frank. Lots of dating Cheri in this car, until the fateful day I rolled it trying to fix a broken stereo speaker (The Beatles Back in the USSR was playing on the radio). The ticket read "failure to control vehicle" - how truthful.

11.28.2000

What Women Want : 3 of 5

This movie was actually pretty funny, even though I can't stand Helen Hunt - why anyone thinks she is attractive and funny is beyond me. The only Mel movie I've liked was Hamlet, but What Women Want did keep me entertained - his best scene involves dancing around his stylish apartment gulping wine while singing along with Frank Sinatra (which coincided nicely with my reading of Sinatraland). As an added bonus, Marisa Tomei is every coffee drinker's dream come true. The end is abrupt and poorly paced, but that's a make-a-buck holiday film for you.

Cast Away : 3 of 5

You have to admire a movie that gets away with a 45 minute stretch without dialogue or score - truthfully, the movie goes downhill when people start talking. I really think things would have been more effective without the opening sequence emphasizing time (which Tom is about to have a lot of). Tom Hanks thankfully doesn't over-sentimentalize this one, and did a great job of making me believe he's really desperately alone (but the "tooth extraction" scene is completely gratuitous). The best thing about Cast Away is that Helen Hunt is not on the island, and Tom ends up with a cute Tori Amos-ish chick instead.

11.24.2000

Haiku

Five bottles of wine
Two more bottles of champagne
Happy Thanksgiving

11.21.2000

Songs of Innocence and of Experience / William Blake : 4 of 5

During my college days I became addicted to poetry and generally focused on older, traditional styles. Most poets I chose generally had romantic or spiritual themes, and I loved lurking around the old library stacks finding musty books that seemed to have been neglected. William Blake certainly is too popular to be forgotten, but he still fit my taste at the time. I was recently reminded of him while watching some students reading at Mozart's, and decided to buy some newer editions and check him out again. Songs is a wonderful book, full of light fun poetry as well as dark brooding works, with amazing illustrations (all by Blake). The commentary in this edition is really great, too. Anyone who hasn't read more than The Tyger is absolutely required to read the rest of Songs!

11.15.2000

Matthew Sweet / Girlfriend : 4 of 5

Of course, I had heard Matthew Sweet on the radio a million times - who didn't get sick of Sick of Myself? But recently I heard some tracks from Girlfriend on LAUNCHcast, so I decided to buy the CD. A very excellent decision, I must say - Girlfriend has a few pop goodies, but also a lot of guitar just slightly rough around the edges. The lyrics are actually pretty cool - lots of breakup songs and even some spiritual themes (Divine Intervention, Evangeline). As a bonus, there's even a steel-guitar ballad for crying into your beer enjoyment.

11.05.2000

Heavy Metal 2000 : 3 of 5

I don't know the whole story behind the release of this movie - I know it didn't make it to the theater and instead went straight to Showtime. Well, I don't have Showtime, so I was happy it made it to DVD. Unlike the first Heavy Metal movie, this one is one long story with all the typical elements: grimy spaceships, scumy dudes, and buxom babes in leather. In fact, there is a bathing sequence that is really close to a similar scene in Heavy Metal (but not as well done, since the original was rotoscoped). The sound is excellent, and some of the animation is good, although some of it looks like it came from Thundercats.

11.04.2000

Ichabod and Mr. Toad : 4 of 5

Having grown up so close to Disneyland, I have always been a huge fan of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, one of the bizarre little romps in Fantasyland. I had to rent this DVD just to see what the inspiration was! The story of Mr. Toad from Wind of the Willows is completely enjoyable, with fun songs and goofy cockney animals, though not nearly as exciting as the ride (though the red car in question looks exactly like the cars at Disneyland!). Ichabod in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is also a treat, with ridiculous Bing Crosby songs and fantastic animation (which clearly inspired Tim Burton) - also terribly scary! I had no idea that Ichabod actually disappears - where's the happy ending? The disc also has a great trivia game with a bonus cartoon if you win, plus still another Mickey, Donald and Goofy ghostbusters cartoon to complete the theme. Ah, the golden age of American animation.

Haiku

Waiting at bus stop
Higher and higher it goes
Kyoto red skirt

11.03.2000

Infinity's Child : 2 of 5

One of those CGI drug trips that people originally bought DVDs for in the first place, Infinity's Child has no real story, just a bunch of semi-interesting scenes accompanied by new age music. Truthfully, the quality of the graphics is extremely low by today's standards, even though this disc is only a year old, I believe. Still, some of the visuals are creative, and it was even better after swallowing some cognac. The only way to enjoy this is to turn it up loud, watch it with no lights and be sure you are on the brink of inebriation.

11.02.2000

Interiors : 4 of 5

I'm a big Woody Allen fan - I love to sit down, hear that 40's jazz, and see that serif font come up. I don't like the early Bananas-type comedies, but everything from Manhattan on is brilliant. I figured it was time to watch the serious stuff. Interiors is pretty fantastic, though downright depressing. Some of the shots are set up so perfectly, and the dynamic of all the subfamilies of the main family is so well crafted. I couldn't watch it often, but I'm sure I'll watch it again someday.

11.01.2000

Jurassic Park : 4 of 5

I got the super-cool Jurassic Park boxed set for Christmas, and I've really enjoyed watching it. I had forgotten so many things about the movie - how scary some of the action sequences are (and how incredibly gross it is to see the lawyer get eaten by the T-Rex), and does anyone remember that Samuel L. Jackson has a prominent role? What a surprise! The bonus features are excellent - the funniest thing is watching pre-production meetings and seeing everyone kiss up to Spielberg. He just sits there spouting ideas while everyone around him pipes "Great idea, Steven! Brilliant, Steven!"

Die Walkure : 4 of 5

Austin Lyric Opera did a wonderful job of making Austin's first performance of Wagner a big event. I had once seen Das Rheingold on TV, but this was my first experience with the standard four hours plus Wagner extravaganza. Die Walkure was incredible, with excellent performances (Brunhilde being my favorite) and sets, and the music is just so wonderful that the time really does pass quickly - long arias are made truly exciting by sheer orchestration alone. The story is fantastic pre-Tolkien fantasy, which satisfied my non-opera pal Chris who went along for the evening. Now I would love to see the other three operas of the Ring Cycle!

Echo

Echo is the newest internet radio site with a spin on earning points while you listen. However, unlike some others I've tried, Echo does it right - excellent quality music, a very nice interface with great use of Flash, and the point system is pretty easy - generally one week of listening at work will get you $18 bucks at Amazon.com! The only downside is the beta status - quite often they limit the number of listeners. But it's worth it - I've already earned cash listening to Spice Girls!

Visit site: Echo

Sushi Sake : 4 of 5

This Japanese restaurant just opened in October, and I went with Chris and Eliza on a spur of the moment dinner outing. I love Japanese food, but unfortunately haven't explored all of it as I should. Now that I've tried Sushi Sake, I think I'll being trying much of it soon. The decor is very upscale without being intimidating, and the staff seemed to be 100% Asian (I hate going to PF Chang's and listening to some frat boy pronounce everything wrong). We had excellent miso soup and then sushi (Caterpillar, Philly, and Tiger Eye), which was good, but I'm not fond of the wrapping - each piece was extremely large, spoiling the necessary "one bite" requirement of sushi. The taste was great however, and I'll be back (if only to get a glimpse of the kawaii hostess again).

Monopoly / GameBoy Color : 3 of 5

Talk about an flight-time killer - this game is it. A completely faithful version of the board game, with a fairly easy interface. The computer players are pretty stingy with trades, but otherwise it's pretty easy to win and have fun doing it. Nice use of color for the game board.