All my life I've been a collector. When I was young, I collected action figures, bubblegum cards (only movie and TV show cards, no sports), and even stamps for a while. As I grew older I stuck with comic books, and sometimes made an effort to own an entire series of videos or books, but my favorite and longest lingering collection is my PEZ.

Just like everyone, I had eaten PEZ as a kid, but I don't think I saved any of the toy dispensers. One Christmas, Mom bought a Santa Claus dispenser that are in the stores every year for my stocking (I get a stocking full of candy to this day!), and I thought it was great - it made me think it would be fun to pick up a new PEZ whenever I saw one at the grocery store, and that's just what I did.

Soon I had around 30 dispensers, all bought randomly one at a time, and it started getting tough to find anything I didn't own. I started looking for PEZ info on the web, and found tons of sites - I realized that PEZ collecting was a huge hobby, with some dispensers going for $1,000! At that point, I actually became a real collector, and started going to different stores to "hunt the heads" that I needed.

Soon I had every US dispenser in production, so the next step was to buy European and Canadian PEZ (which include other characters not available in the US). I started ordering PEZ from web sites and spending some real cash, and when I went to Canada I bought every dispenser I could find.

From there I could only move into "antique" PEZ, which slowed me down quite a bit, as the average dispenser goes for $25-$50 bucks! I haven't bought one at this price in a long time, since there are several new lines of characters out (I bought lots of them while I was in Japan).

My PEZ are displayed on actual PEZ racks mounted on the wall. The best part of PEZ collecting is seeing how cool hundreds of little heads look all together! I now have well over 250 different dispensers. People always ask about my oldest and favorite ones - my oldest and favorite is Batman with Cape from 1966 (my only dispenser older than me!), which is worth $150! A few older old ones are Elephant with Hair (worth up to $200.00) and Maharajah from the early 70s. One year for my birthday, my amazing friends surprised me with a Captain America dispenser, which started up a fun buying spree for me!

For a while I was a total fanatic, reading PEZ newsletters and dying to hear the latest rumors about new characters, but now I have fun just enjoying my collection and buying new ones as I find them - just the way I started out.

By the way, my favorite PEZ website is PEZ Central, and my collection is featured on the site!

Pollock : 4 of 5

I really enjoy films about artists (Lust for Life with Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh comes to mind, as well as Basquiat), so I was very interested in this film. The story is the life of Jackson Pollock, of course, and was a revealing look into his life (I haven't read anything about him before, so I just have to trust the film for accuracy). Seeing Pollock's art evolve from his early works to his eventual discovery of "drip painting" was fascinating, as well as his relationship with his wife. The film is very well shot and acted, and never seems to drag in a relatively slow plot. The soundtrack is not so good - it works with the painting scenes, but generally way too 80's TV drama (sounds like Thirtysomething). Ed Harris puts in a wonderful performance - not sure if it's Best Actor material, but sad and believable.



How improbable
More snot in the kleenex than
Would fit in my head


Sinatraland / Sam Kashner : 3 of 5

I decided to read Sinatraland after reading some of the author's essays in Esquire, and I'm glad I did. The book is a series of letters to Frank Sinatra spanning the ending years of his career in which a lonely admiring fan shares his woes with his idol. The letters are full of Sinatra references that meant nothing to me, since I'm not versed in Frank's history, but the simple thoughtfulness of the letters more than makes up for missing a few inside jokes. There's a lot of interesting male psychology and philosophy here, as the author and the reader realize that nobody, not even Frank, has all the answers.


Morcheeba / Big Calm : 3 of 5

Yet another LAUNCHcast inspired purchase (though I later found out that Chris and Eliza have the same CD), Morcheeba is another CD on the path to finding the perfect female vocal on top of lush keyboards. There are some great cuts here (such as The Sea ), but also some crappy rap that doesn't fit on the CD at all. There's more good than bad, though, so I guess that's a recommendation.


February Party with Chris & Eliza

A celebration of lots of January/February birthdays (and an excuse for more pictures of Dolly).

View photos: February Party


Cannibal: The Musical : 3 of 5

This is Trey Parker and Matt Stone's (the South Park boys) first film, shot when they were in college. Very low budget and very ridiculous, but portions of it are sheer genius. The story is from Colorado history, about a miner named Alfred Packer who ate his mining team (and was the only person in the US convicted of cannibalism), so there are some gross (but stupid) effects to deal with. The songs are what makes Cannibal worthwhile and bring the most laughs - the standout is the tender ballad "When I Was On Top of You" (a love song to a horse, of course). The DVD has way too many features to trudge through, but the cool Troma Films quiz is awesome (and worth guessing the answers!).


Cabaret : 4 of 5

After seeing the new Broadway production of Cabaret with Eliza, I thought it would be fun to watch the movie again. Thanks to the extra material on the DVD, I now know why the movie is so different - the writers simply took the Christopher Isherwood stories that inspired the music and started fresh with those, and then just put in the songs for fun, apparently. I did notice that three songs that were supposedly written just for the film have been inserted into the Broadway version, however, so the influence has gone both ways. I'm not really a Liza Minnelli fan, but she is very convincing in the role.


Breakfast at Tiffany's : 5 of 5

I put this one in my NetFlix queue along with Charade, and this is by far the more enjoyable of the two. The opening sequence alone is worth the rent - a chilly New York morning with Holly Golightly window shopping on deserted streets, having coffee and a danish (in front of Tiffany's, of course). The plot isn't very sophisticated, but the overall experience is great. More Audrey highlights include watching her fake playing guitar wearing a sweatshirt (out of all the beautiful dresses in the film, I focus on the sweatshirt), and wearing her hair in pigtails for the final scene (I love pigtails). Very sweet and trés chic.


The Black Cauldron : 4 of 5

Even though I'm a Disney fan, I had barely heard about this movie until I read some excellent reviews about the DVD release. The Black Cauldron was supposed to be a Disney epic - actually animated in 70MM (meaning the cells are twice as large) and one of the first films with Dolby sound, it's obvious Disney sank a lot of cash into this one. And, it flopped. It's easy to see why - not because it's a bad movie at all (in fact, it's excellent), but because it isn't Disney - no musical numbers, no talking animals, very few cute creatures (and the main cute creature even dies), and the darn thing is actually scary! (Don't get me started on the dragons nabbing the cute piggie or the Horned King getting his flesh sucked off into the cauldron!) This is a fantastic movie though - just not for Disney kids.


The Best of Liquid Television : 3 of 5

I can remember watching Liquid Television on MTV, back when there were more videos than shows, and it was so cool that it kept me glued. I had never seen some of the animation styles that were featured - crazy CG work, bizarro stop motion and puppets, and of course the anime-inspired Aeon Flux (that kept me in a trance just trying to figure out what was going on). This DVD contains 90 minutes worth of the show - I don't think all of this material is of "best" quality, but they did manage to snag several segments that I remembered from way back when, including my favorite Aeon Flux (the elevator scenario) and that funky Brad Dharma, Psychadelic Detective (with the great line "I decided to give him another chance at Nirvana"). It was fun to have a semi-nostalgic time from the days when MTV was entertaining.


Why am I listening to another internet radio offering after such a glowing review of Echo.com? Because they owe me over $100.00 in Amazon certificates, that's why! Until they pay up, I'm listening to LAUNCHcast, which I must say is the best of breed. From my first day at levelfield, all I heard about from my pal Scott was LAUNCHcast this, LAUNCHcast that, so now I'm part of the club. This site gets smart about what you like to listen to very quickly once you become a "fan" of various artists. Nice quality and excellent design as well - if only they had a rewards program!

Visit site: LAUNCHcast

Manuel's : 3 of 5

I like to eat at Manuel's for lunch during a nice day, since they have a wonderful large outdoor dining area. The food is kind of "nouvelle mex", featuring mostly bizarre variations of typical Mexican dishes. I really only like two things there, just because I don't feel adventurous when it comes to Mexican food. They do have great salsa and chips, though (at least I think the salsa is good - not the best, but tasty in a refreshing way). For some reason, each of their waiters overplays the part with a catch phrase, like "Excuse me" or "My friend", which is ridiculous but funny.