SportBrain is back

Does anyone remember my obsession with my SportBrain? The company went out of business last year, leaving me with no way to upload my steps from this cool little pedometer. Believe it or not, someone bought the company and SportBrain went back online last Monday! I've been wearing it for the past couple days, and it still works great after being shoved in a shoebox for a year. It's so cool to see my steps on their website - an unexpected Christmas gift!

Speaking of Christmas, don't expect too many WEBmikey updates over the holidays! I'll be much too busy eating cookies.


Tom's Farewell Party

My good pal Tom has joined the Peace Corps and will soon be moving to Uzbekistan, so everyone gets together for a vodka-filled bash to give him something to remember!

View photos: Tom's Farewell Party

Lilo & Stitch : 5 of 5

Disney really pushed their usual schedule to get this DVD out for Christmas - it seems like only yesterday I was watching this great movie at the theater! The movie looks wonderful on DVD, and it was a joy to see it again (I wish I had seen it more than once while it was out). The bonus material is pretty good, but really sparse - it's rumored that there may be a deluxe two DVD set coming out in the future, so this material is only what would fit on a single disc. It's all enjoyable, though - I thought the footage of the hula and the comparison to the animated version was great (such authenticity)! Lilo & Stitch really is a great movie with a wonderful plot and full of touching Disney moments (watching Stitch reading The Ugly Duckling is absolutely heart breaking).

The Beach Boys / Ultimate Christmas : 4 of 5

I remember enjoying the Beach Boys Christmas Album when I was very young - I actually had it on vinyl (a reprint, I'm sure). I loved all the songs, but Little Saint Nick was the coolest, telling the story of Santa's little bobsled with the four-speed stick. I was glad to get this CD so I could enjoy these songs again for Christmas, but I never expected all of the other tracks - there are alternate versions of a few of the songs, plus the tracks from a never released second Christmas album! The original that I grew up with is the best, of course - it's nice to have it on CD.

Shiny new carts

Wow, I haven't posted to WEBmikey in such a long time! Guess I've just been too busy with holiday happenings (gigs, gift-giving, parties) and getting everything in order for my Christmas trip to Oklahoma City. At least today I have time to catch up on a few Last 5 reviews!

My local HEB recently replaced their entire "fleet" of shopping carts. Let me tell you, you have no idea how wonderful and easy a shopping cart can be until you push a spanking-new cart down the aisle. I couldn't believe it! No more squeaky wheels (at least for a few months, I'm sure).

The other say I started wondering how many song lyrics I have memorized - I know lots of Christmas songs (which is what started this thought), and just about every Beach Boys song, along with hundreds of other random songs. I would say the minimum number is 500, but I'm guessing it's over 1,000 - mainly because I constantly listen to the songs I like over and over in rotation. It would be so much fun (and a total waste of time) to try to catalog all of the ones I know!


E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial : 5 of 5

E.T. is truly a magical movie - I remember crying in the theater, and I cried several times watching it on DVD! I was really excited to see the Special Edition, since I didn't see it during the theatrical re-release. The enhanced effects are really well done, and nothing detracts from the feeling of the original. The new scene of E.T. and Eliot in the bathroom is really cute, too, and adds a lot to their eventual bonding. The bonus material is very interesting, even it goes by too quickly - nothing is very in-depth, but the information about the new effects and the footage of the live scoring during the re-release premiere is great. The DVD set includes the original version, too, which I watched (partially) to compare the two. This is an excellent DVD of a fantastic movie!

Disney's Superstar Hits : 3 of 5

Basically the adult version of DisneyMania, this is a collection of the contemporary versions of Disney songs, which all started when Celine Dion recorded Beauty and the Beast in the early 90s. There are plenty of artists here that I would never listen to, but it's still fun to hear Disney tunes belted out in vocal gymnastics fashion. All in all, I would much rather hear the original film versions of these songs, but some of them are really good (I especially like Reflection from Mulan).


Cutey Honey : 1 of 5

I decided to give this anime a try after seeing a preview on a another DVD, but I won't be renting any other volumes, I'm afraid. I'm not really too sure about the plot, but the main character is some kind of super being who can transform into any disguise (of course, her clothes dematerialize leaving her completely naked until the new outfit materializes). She becomes several different people during the show, and then before the final battle of each episode she recaps who she has been. (And yes, her name really is Cutey Honey, even in Japanese). The supporting characters were really boring, so there's nothing to entice me to watch more.

DisneyMania : 4 of 5

This fun CD is full of pop renditions of Disney songs, everything from Someday My Prince Will Come to Under the Sea. I decided to buy it after the watching the ultra-cute video for the pop version of Beauty and the Beast - yes, it's incredibly silly, but I love that bubblegum goodness! Most of the bands are unknown to me - probably artists that Disney is trying to push (like Hilary Duff singing the Tiki Room song). Any CD that makes me smile is worth it, so I'm proud to say I enjoy this total fluff.


Mickey's Magical Christmas : 4 of 5

Another Disney Christmas DVD rental, this time from the House of Mouse show. The story centers around the gang trying to jump-start the Christmas spirit in Donald, along with the usual short cartoons mixed into the plot. The new stuff isn't so great, but thankfully this DVD included the complete Mickey's Christmas Carol, which is absolutely fantastic! Excellent animation, beautiful characterization (I love Goofy as Jacob Marley), and a really touching telling of the story - plus, there are so many great Disney characters all over the place (only this year did I realize that the collectors for the poor are Ratty and Mole from Mr. Toad)! There are some really bad sing-along carols as bonus features, but Mickey's Christmas Carol is all that matters to me.


Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas : 3 of 5

I normally don't buy the Disney direct to video releases, but I read a review that said this feature was of the same quality as The Lion King II, so I thought I would give it a try (plus, it was too popular to rent). The plot takes place right in the middle of the original film's story, showing what happened during Christmas while Belle was held prisoner in the Beast's castle. The story is pretty good, and has some nice songs (sung by the original vocal cast). I wasn't too fond of the villain - a giant CG pipe organ just isn't that exciting. I'm still glad I bought the DVD, though - it's a new Christmas movie for me to enjoy year after year, and it's good to see more of these great characters after enjoying the original film so much recently.


Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas : 4 of 5

I've started renting Christmas DVDs early to beat the rush (plus I'm feeling the holiday spirit already)! This Disney DVD was made a few years ago, I think, but it includes some really fun animation - nothing classic, but the great stories make up for the somewhat simple "underdone" style. I enjoyed the story of Huey, Duey, and Louie experiencing Christmas Day over and over, but my favorite was the retelling of The Gift of the Magi with Mickey and Minnie - they're both so cute and Mickey does a wonderful job of displaying that fantastic optimism that makes me like him so much. What a great way to start the season!


Starship Troopers : 3 of 5

I usually manage to see all of the science fiction action movies in the theater, but I missed Starship Troopers so long ago. I finally rented it and watched it with friends who had already seen it, and it was about like I thought it would be (maybe a little better). It's interesting how much backstory the movie contains before the real battle action starts (and then takes over the plot completely), though I could never figure out what kind of government the world has in the future. The effects are great, of course, with lots of disgusting bug guts, and they look even better in the space scenes (I liked the Navy-like fleet of ships). It was fun to see Batgirl/Oracle from Birds of Prey in another role, too.


Zoolander : 2 of 5

It was good to see Ben Stiller play a different role than the usual "guy with bad luck" from all of his other movies, but Zoolander was only mildly entertaining. I had the idea that this would be much more of a spy movie spoof, but instead it's just a silly plot taking advantage of the unaware male model Derek Zoolander. The opening awards show is the best part of the movie, with different stars' comments and some hilarious video highlighting the careers of Derek and his arch rival, but after that it's all downhill. Will Ferrell's character is pretty funny, but not as funny as the environment he works in - the wacky sets of his office are as good as anything else in the movie.


La Traviata : 5 of 5

It's always exciting to see the first opera of the season, since Austin Lyric Opera always seems to start things off right. I have seen La Traviata at least once before (maybe twice), but this production was by far the best. Violetta was captivating, both when singing about the joys of pleasure or when in her last moments of life. Her death scene was amazing - I was completely in shock. When she suddenly seems to recover, I almost believed she would be OK, even though I knew good and well the plot's fateful ending. The sets were magnificent - the opening lighting looked just like early morning in Paris. It was good to see Peter Bay conduct an opera, too - I'm looking forward to the rest of the season!

Thanksgiving 2002

Another spectacular holiday meal at Chris & Eliza's house, joined by plenty of friends and Eliza's family.

View photos: Thanksgiving 2002

My magical brick

The ABC Family channel has started their 25 Days of Christmas, which means Christmas shows are on every night! I love watching the classics along with other obscure ones - there are so many great stories!

I finally called to sponsor a brick on Disney's Walk of Magical Memories! It's very exciting to know that my name will be right there between Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure. The brick should be installed in March, so I hope I can plan a trip to see it!

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist : 1 of 5

When I first saw the trailer for this movie in the theater, I thought it looked pretty good. I like crazy movies in the Airplane style, and I've seen other funny spoofs of Kung Fu movies in the past - I was a little concerned about the goofy fighting cow, but I thought this would be a good rent anyway. Well, I have to say it was really tough to get through this one - parts of it were great (mostly the silent jokes like digitally changing signs in the village to Hooters and putting Taco Bell food on the tables), but most of it was just terrible. All of the old footage with new dialog was OK, but the new footage was flat boring.


Bye bye. Birds

I've heard that Birds of Prey has already been cancelled, and I'm not surprised. That goofy conversation in front of the big clock at the end of each episode was more predictable than Charlie Brown and Linus with their elbows on the brick wall. I only wish they would have filmed Harley Quinn in costume - maybe they can manage that for the final episode?

Cool commercial

I have to say that the new Gap commercial really makes me smile (the new Give Stripes campaign where they're singing Love Train). The first time I saw it was while playing a gig, and it made me smile right in the middle of a song. (It doesn't take much, does it?)

Thanksgiving weekend

Happy Late Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope everyone had a fun holiday - I spent the day with my pals, watching the Macy's Parade and eating a tremendous meal at Chris & Eliza's house. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to have good friends to spend time with!

Having a four-day weekend at home is amazing - everyday feels like Sunday! I've been getting lots of things done - I finally managed to finish converting another section of WEBmikey - the Yesterday section is now completely redone (at last). On to the next section!


Happy 74!

Today is Mickey Mouse's 74th birthday (based on the day Steamboat Willie was released), and also the day that Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. I think it's pretty cool that these events are the same day, since Lincoln was one of Walt's heroes (and the main reason behind the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction at Disneyland).


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets : 4 of 5

Even though I haven't read the books and all of last year's marketing hype made me sick, I still really enjoyed watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on DVD. So, I was actually pretty excited to see the second film in the theater (it's always fun to listen to the reactions and laughter of the kids). This is a great movie, with some exciting sequences (the spider chase was terrifying!) and touching moments between our student friends (who are twice as cute just because they're English kids). The kid playing Harry is actually a wonderful actor, and he really brings reality to the action sequences, too. I'm having fun learning about Harry (since I'm seeing these movies cold), and I'm ready for the third episode!

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones : 5 of 5

I made the terrible mistake of only seeing Episode II once in the theater (even though I loved it), so it's absolutely fantastic to watch it again on DVD! This is the first all digital film transferred to DVD, so this is a zero-loss experience - it looks great (except for the questionable animation in parts, which looks even worse on TV). It's amazing how much goes on in these two plus hours, and it's even more amazing after watching some the documentary material on Disc 2. I had no idea that a huge number of human character shots are digital as well (even some with Obi-Wan, Anakin and Dooku!). The deleted scenes that were completed for the DVD aren't very exciting, but the backstory is fun to watch anyway. Right now it seems like forever until Episode III comes out!

Manny Hattan's : 3 of 5

Since I just returned from New York City, it was fun going to the new "New York deli" in Austin. My pal Ryan and I went for lunch, since it's right there with our favorite lunchtime shopping (Best Buy), and we totally pigged out on sandwiches. I had a tuna melt with bacon that was especially good (it reminded me of Canter's deli in LA), and Ryan had a huge roast beef sandwich (I couldn't believe he finished it!). We both had sides of fries, which was a mistake - the sandwich alone was more than enough. The atmosphere is just barely cool - there's a giant wall mural of NYC icons, but not much else. The main reason Manny Hattan's gets a 3 is the price - these are expensive sandwiches. It won't keep me from going back, but an "upscale deli" is kind of an oxymoron.

WEBmikey links

A couple of cool WEBmikey related links:

  • You've got to try the Internet Archive Wayback Machine! You can view almost any site as it used to look in the past (some old sites are hilarious!). Even WEBmikey has been archived, so take a look!
  • I stumbled upon a mention of WEBmikey on a complete stranger's site, ToT. Read the nice comments in the archives!
  • One Day at Disney : 4 of 5

    A simple yet beautiful photo essay coffee table book (which unfortunately is out of print, so I had to snag mine on eBay) that covers a 24-hour period at the four Disney destinations: Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, and Disneyland Paris in France. Each page is presented with four clocks, so you can see that while people are watching fireworks at one park, employees are polishing brass in the middle of the night at another park. The photos are absolutely gorgeous, with very little text to distract the reader. It's great to soak this all in and see the joy that these amazing places bring to everyone!


    The Disney Films / Leonard Maltin : 3 of 5

    This is a wonderful book that you can often find at an incredible price (I got mine for around five bucks!). Apparently Leonard Maltin, a long-time Disney fan, started to catalog and summarize all of the Disney feature films, both animated and live-action, even before is he was the famous movie critic he is today. This is that original book, along with several chapters of updates that Leonard has added for various new editions. The original stuff is really interesting, since it includes detailed plot summaries, snippets of reviews when the movie was released, and lots of production details. Reading all of these made me really want to see some of these old movies (most of which are not yet available on DVD)!


    Gasaraki Vols 5 & 6 : 3 of 5

    This is turning out to be one of the most complex anime series I've followed - the story is now full of political intrigue, Japanese patriotism, and historical significance! Volume 5 was really interesting, since it finally takes the time to cover just who our heroes really are via an extended flashback to ancient Japan. So, the current Yoshiro and Miharu have the implanted memories of centuries ago, it seems, which explains their bond. Volume 6 gets really complicated, with all kinds of grain embargo stuff, mafia involvement, and much more as the power struggle continues. The animation seems to vary quite a bit from episode to episode - it's all good, but the change can be surprising!

    Stereo Toe-TALL

    Another full weekend is coming to a close - I got to hear some great music on Friday night, since I went to Emo's to see Stereo Total (my pal Dae recommended this band to me ages ago and I've been listening ever since). The place was packed and loud, but tons of fun (and now I know that it's pronounced "toe-TALL")! Last night GAH played an unexpected party gig, which was pretty chaotic, but turned out to be a great chance to let loose and jam!


    The Santa Clause 2 : 4 of 5

    My early Christmas spirit keeps building! I really enjoyed the original Santa Clause, so I was excited to see this somewhat goofier sequel. The scenes at the North Pole are really beautiful (and made me hungry for cookies and hot chocolate!), and watching the "toy santa" get a cocoa buzz is hilarious. Of course, there's always that scene where everyone gets the toy they always loved as a child, and there are plenty of teary-eyed moments about the magic of Christmas and having something to believe in (which is why I love Christmas movies). The animatronic reindeer are a little silly, but the kids in the audience really enjoyed them. I'm ready for the holidays!


    I just got home from the movies, and they have Icees now! I had a giant cherry Icee (complete with the spoon-straw and the dome-covered cup), so I've got a tremendous sugar rush right now.


    All fall down

    It always cracks me up that nearly every single Disney villain dies by falling - from the wicked queen in Snow White, all the way to Gaston in Beauty in the Beast. There's always some battle at the end of the movie where the villain shows their evilness by taking one too many risks, and down they go (to conveniently die off camera). Pretty interesting tradition! (I also just realized that I have spent my entire life spelling the word "villain" incorrectly!)

    I'm already starting to listen to Christmas music - New York City definitely put me in a holiday mood. It must have been the ice skaters (or seeing all the cool gifts in Times Square stores)!

    Snow Dogs : 3 of 5

    I rented Snow Dogs because it's a Disney movie and because my mom loved it (she has a thing for cute, happy movies, like me). The movie had a lot less to do with the actual dogs that I thought it would, although the scenes with the dogs are really great (and I thought Nana was super adorable). The story is pretty simple, but definitely makes you feel good - I always enjoy movies where the main character finds a purpose in life and gathers up the courage to succeed. It was also kind of fun seeing Lt. Uhura play the mother (without the earpiece)! The Alaskan scenery is pretty cool, too (pun intended).


    Invaded by seniors

    Isn't it weird that certain stores in certain locations attract certain people? For some reason, the Randalls grocery store next to where I pick up my packages is always swarming with senior citizens! Every time I drive through the parking lot there's always some granny trying to back out of a space at .0005 MPH. And on the rare occasions that I buy something there, there's always a grandpa in a hat counting out change in front of me. It's kind of like a Twilight Zone episode!

    Be sure to check out the Trips page for my NYC trip, including three photo albums and three thrilling movies!


    Purple M&Ms just don't look right. I was just starting to get used to blue!

    New York City

    I had two great reasons to visit New York City again - my pal Ian recently moved there to go to grad school, and my pal Tom decided to run the New York City Marathon! This was an absolutely fantastic trip! Besides seeing the amazing sites and sounds of the city, there were plenty of stand-out moments:

    The Marathon: Ian and I managed to see Tom run by at Mile 16 (coming off the Queensboro Bridge). Being there with the huge crowd, all cheering and blowing horns and banging thundersticks, was phenomenal - it was so nice to see the city united in their support of the runners! (As a bonus, we walked right past Donald Trump near the Central Park finish!)

    Playing DDR: Thanks to Ian's pal Kate's recommendation, we went deep into Chinatown to an arcade to play DDR! There were tons of urban kids there (and I was the only caucasian 35 year old), and they accepted me right away as one of the gang. DDR brings the people of the world together - I even made friends with Chucky and Jose, and we talked about our favorite DDR characters and songs (and they cheered me on while I played).

    Making Friends: It was great to hang out with Ian's pal Kate and Tom's pals Rebecca and Jordan (who bussed in from DC). We had some fun meals together and wandered all over town enjoying the city (including 10 minutes of snow in Central Park, which was magical).

    View photos: NYC 2002 Day 1
    View photos: NYC 2002 Day 2
    View photos: NYC 2002 Day 3


    Spirited Away : 4 of 5

    I'm so glad that Disney brought this movie to the US so I could see it on the big screen! I have been a big Miyazaki fan since seeing Princess Mononoke (but now Kiki's Delivery Service is my favorite), so I've been excited about this film for quite a while (my pal Matt in Japan sent me playing cards featuring little Chihiro many months ago). The plot is fantastic - a little girl wanders into a strange place (in this case, a bath house for the spirt world), which of course brings to mind Alice in Wonderland. But Spirited Away is much more than a simple fantasy, because Mikazaki always manages to focus on characters and make you feel for them, while you're enjoying the imaginative eye candy. A simply beautiful movie!

    Mickey's toes

    I just spent four days in New York City and had an absolute blast! My pal Tom ran the New York City Marathon, which was completely amazing to watch. I'll have a full trip report with links to photo albums and movies available very soon!

    As you know, I'm a fan of Disney's House of Mouse. I've seen a few episodes lately with Mickey at the beach without shoes, and he's got toes! It looks really weird (Minnie has them, too). I seriously doubt the original model sheets for Mickey had any specs for a shoeless mouse, but Mickey with human-looking tootsies is flat out bizarre!


    All My Sons : 4 of 5

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Mary Moody Theater at St. Edwards is the best artistic entertainment value in Austin. It always amazes me that they can put on terrific productions with a high standard of quality for a mere ten dollar ticket. All My Sons was no exception - the actors (including The Janitor from Tom's Honor Among Thieves) were incredible, pouring out tons of emotion in this very serious and depressing Arthur Miller play. The sets made great use of the central stage, as usual, including amazing details (but not as amazing as the iron work in Lend Me a Tenor). The play left me stunned - it's a beautiful work, but incredibly sad (as expected).


    Los Angeles & Disneyland

    My second trip to Los Angeles in 2002 was a blast! My pal Dae was a great host, planning a day at the Los Angeles Zoo (I love giraffes!) and seeing the taping of The Tonight Show at NBC! We spent two fantastic days at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure (DCA), filled with new experiences and adventures (such as Disney's Electrical Parade and Fantasmic!), joined by our pals Kristen, Ray and Selena. It was great to show off my favorite place to good friends!

    View photos: Los Angeles Zoo
    View photos: Disneyland 2002 Day 1
    View photos: Disneyland 2002 Day 2


    A Goofy Movie : 3 of 5

    I recently watched An Extremely Goofy Movie (the sequel to this one) on Toon Disney, so I decided to rent A Goofy Movie, even though it's not technically considered a Disney animated feature. I must say that I'm really impressed with the incredible characterization in both of these movies - they took the lovable Goofy and turned him into a kind-hearted dad struggling to be a good father for his son Max, who doesn't want to turn out as "goofy" when he grows up. The animation is pretty cool, with some nice transitions and clever inside jokes from other Disney cartoons (my favorite line is when one of Max's friends says in passing, "Did you ever wonder why we're always, like, wearing gloves?"). The songs are pretty cute, too!

    Pizza paradise

    Papa John's Pizza is just too easy to order! When I'm hungry and tired (and out of food in the house!), it's just too tempting to know that my usual order is only two clicks away! I'd like to order from Pizza Hut every now and then for a change, but until they get online ordering, I'm sticking with Papa John's.

    I promise I really want to like Birds of Prey on the WB - I've got to support any attempt to bring classic comic book characters to life, but this series is going nowhere fast, I'm afraid. The gal playing Oracle (Batgirl) is pretty cool, but Huntress really sucks (plus, she's really unattractive to me). It looks like Harlequin is going to make an appearance - I hope they do her justice! Oh well, I'll keep watching and groaning at the ridiculous scripts until I can't stand it anymore.


    Beauty and the Beast : 5 of 5

    What can I say about the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture? Beauty and the Beast is an amazing film, and it's wonderful to see it as the second DVD in the Platinum Edition series. I watched all three versions of the film (theatrical release, work in progress, and special edition) plus the audio commentary, and it was great each time. Belle is another beautiful character to fall in love with (her scene with the dandelions on the mountainside is equivalent to Ariel bursting out of the water on the rock), and the musical numbers are simply incredible (true operetta style)! The bonus features are nice (even though Celine Dion is involved) and really interesting - it's fascinating how such a landmark movie came together so quickly. Beauty and the Beast is an essential Disney movie if there ever was one!


    DVDs & More

  • Beauty and the Beast DVD: Disney finally released this great movie as the second "Platinum Edition" - it's great to have another animated classic in my collection!
  • E.T. DVD: One of those movies I just had to own, considering how much I loved it when I was younger.
  • More Pins: The Disney Store had tons of pins for $2.00 each (they are usually $6.00 or more!), so I bought three fun ones while I was at the mall.
  • Levi's 550 jeans: I recently realized that the two pairs of jeans I wear all the time are getting some embarrassing holes in them, so I had to re-stock!
  • 10.24.2002

    Rain, rain, go away

    I'm so glad it stopped raining today, since I've got to unload my drums downtown for a gig tonight. (Hope I can watch Game 5 of the World Series while I'm playing!)

    Disneyland Souvenirs

  • Disney Galley posters: The Disney Gallery (upstairs from Pirates of the Caribbean) sells fantastic reproductions of the famous Disneyland attraction posters, as well as other artwork. They use a "print on demand" system, which means they have huge expensive printers that produce the posters you want (and they FedEx them for free!). I bought the attraction poster for the Monorail, plus an "anniversary" image containing tons of little attraction posters. They are going to look great framed!
  • Magical Memories for a Lifetime book: An excellent hardcover book filled with photos of my favorite place (plus pictures of Disney's California Adventure).
  • Disneyland clothes: I bought a cool sweatshirt, plus a pullover fleece with a nice stitched logo (and it felt great during the chilly evenings at the park).
  • Pins: I had to get a pin of Flik's Fun Fair since I was there for opening weekend, and I also found a cool photo pin of Walt with some early park maps.
  • 10.17.2002

    Disneyland magic

    My latest Disneyland trip was full of memorable moments! (Check out the movies on my Trips page to experience them for yourself!)

  • I really enjoyed Disney's Electrical Parade - it was simply beautiful!
  • Fantasmic at Disneyland was even better than the show at Walt Disney World - I especially loved seeing Peter Pan fly around the rigging of the Columbia (disguised as Hook's ship!).
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday is an incredible experience (but I can't wait to see the good ol' original on my next trip)!
  • A friendly cast member gave us a complete tour of the Disney Gallery from the perspective of it's original purpose as a "formal apartment" for Walt and Lillian.
  • Touring the park with a group of five really made the time fly, since you can have so many conversations waiting in lines (and everyone had a cool appreciation for Disneyland).
  • We got stuck in the Indiana Jones Adventure, so they let us ride through twice!
  • Dae and Kristen did some swing dancing to the big band - it was great to watch them and experience some Disneyland "nightlife".

    Now you can rate WEBmikey at Blog Hot or Not - I'm hoping this will be a fun way to get traffic from strangers. Be nice, everyone!
  • 10.09.2002

    New Disneyland experiences

    I'll be heading to Los Angeles tomorrow morning for some Disney fun with with my pal Dae! Here are some exciting things I'll get to experience for the first time:

  • Flik's Fun Fair at Disney's California Adventure: A whole new area of the park with giant clovers, popcycle stick benches, and even the bathroom is a giant Kleenex box! There are four fun kiddie rides there, too - all themed with characters from A Bug's Life.
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday: The Haunted Mansion is completely re-themed using characters from A Nightmare Before Christmas - it's like a whole new ride!
  • Disney's Electrical Parade: I'll finally get to see the reincarnation of the Main Street Electrical Parade - I can't wait to see the visuals after listening to the parade music so many times!
  • Fantasmic: Dae and I have reserved seats for Disneyland's version (the original) of the spectacular show that Jonathan and I saw at Walt Disney World!

    Expect the usual WEBmikey trip report next week!
  • 10.06.2002

    Go Halos!

    Yippee for the Anaheim Angels! I haven't been this excited about baseball in years - I'm so psyched that they beat the Yankees! (I've got nothing against the Yankees, but we're talking about Mickey Mouse here!) I couldn't believe they didn't televise the game on Friday, but at least I watched the play by play on Yahoo. I really hope they make it to the series!

    Just when you thought there couldn't be anymore Walt Disney World pictures, check out the Trips page for a link to some photos my traveling partner Jonathan took!

    Disneyland Countdown: 6 days!

    101 Dalmations : 4 of 5

    Wow, I had forgotten how great this movie is! This is another out-of-print Disney masterpiece that I had to rent - I can't wait for them to finally release all of these great films! This time around I really enjoyed the scenes of the puppies watching TV - the shows and commercials are so clever, and the dog's reactions are perfect. I also love watching Roger puff his pipe! There is some fantastic effects animation, too - the smoke trailing around the room from Cruella's cigarette holder is absolutely amazing! Even though I've read that Walt wasn't happy with the animation, I think 101 Dalmations is wonderful.

    Impulse Buys

  • Sony Ericsson T68i cell phone: I've been eyeing this phone for a while, and after reading tons of great reviews and seeing how it can sync with my iBook via Bluetooth, I had to buy it. It's so cool - color screen, web browsing, the works! Now I'm not so jealous of all the amazing phones I saw in Japan!
  • Birnbaum's Disneyland 2002 book: Even though I pretty much know Disneyland inside and out, I thought it wouldn't hurt to read the latest before my upcoming trip.
  • One Day at Disney book: An absolutely fantastic out of print book that I snagged on eBay - it's filled with photography of Disney parks around the world, covering a 24 hour period. Gorgeous!
  • The E-Ticket Issues #24/#25: The last two back issues available - it sure would be nice to find copies of the older issues someday.
  • 10.05.2002

    The Rookie : 5 of 5

    I usually stay away from sports movies, but if I had to pick a sport to enjoy, it would be baseball. My pal Ryan said this was a great movie, plus it was produced by Disney, so I decided to rent it. The Rookie is fantastic, whether you're interested in baseball or not. The main character who rises from a high school coach to the big leagues is really energetic - he gives a speech to his students that really inspired me! This movie is all about the message - that we need dreams. We need to always be striving to be something more than we are now. I have to give this a five, because I had to cry when he calls his wife and son to tell them he's made it!


    Sakura Diaries Vol 4 : 3 of 5

    Finally my little romantic soap opera is over, and I was only vaguely satisfied with the ending. As a series, Sakura Diaries was fantastic - I loved all the love triangles and deception and awkward moments, as well as all the sappy stuff. This last DVD had some great scenes (including an interesting one in a bathtub), and it did manage to wrap up the characters fairly well, but the actual "happily ever after" is told in silent vignettes over music, so it's not really clear if our intrepid couple really gets together! I like to think that they do - it seems that way to me. Urara deserves everything she dreams of (just like the rest of us).


    Akira : 4 of 5

    I think I rented this on VHS several years ago before I was a true anime fan - I remember not really getting into it, and falling asleep after the great motorcycle chase at the beginning. I'm happy to say that now I can see that Akira is a fantastic, landmark film, filled with amazing animation, great characters, and one bizarre story (of course, what anime doesn't have a bizarre story?). The movie really builds slowly after the initial excitement, but eventually comes to an incredible finale that had me on the edge of my rocking chair! The DVD has a great feature where it will translate all of the Japanese graffiti by pressing a button on the remote - it really made the experience interactive!


    My Fair Lady : 4 of 5

    I've always enjoyed the "classic" musicals, and My Fair Lady is one of the best. I'm a big fan of the movie, so while I knew I would enjoy the performance by Austin Musical Theater, I didn't plan on being blown away. This production was fantastic! The performers were absolutely fantastic, especially Eliza, who was hilarious. I recently watched the movie again, and the scene at the horse races where Eliza talks slang with perfect diction was actually funnier on stage than in the movie (and that's saying a lot, being an Audrey Hepburn fan)! The sets were also terrific, making huge transformations in a matter of seconds. I've heard that AMT may be going out of business - I hope they make it somehow!


    Walt Disney World

    To continue my new tradition of visiting Walt Disney World every year, my pal Jonathan and I made the trip to Orlando this September. What an absolutely perfect trip! Nearly every attraction was a walk-on - our longest wait in line was 10 minutes (for Peter Pan's Flight)! This year I made of point of seeing all the wonderful shows, including the amazing Fantasmic! Of course, we ate lots of great food and did some drinking on Pleasure Island, too. We stayed at the All Star Movies resort - nothing fancy, but the pool was nice. I had fun talking with Cast Members, too - I got a few nice comments on my Disneyland shirts that I was wearing. I can't wait to go back again!

    View photos: WDW 2002 MGM Studios
    View photos: WDW 2002 Animal Kingdom
    View photos: WDW 2002 Epcot
    View photos: WDW 2002 Magic Kingdom
    View photos: WDW 2002 More Magic Kingdom
    View photos: WDW 2002 Jonathan's Photos



    Yesterday I was driving downtown and saw a big limo picking up a bride and groom, with lots of other wedding guests standing around looking happy. Suddenly it struck me that at just about every moment, somewhere there's a wedding going on, and people are having a wonderful time. Then I got thinking that every day of the year there are people having fun at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, not to mention the parks in Tokyo and Paris. And all of this led to the revelation that no matter what's going on in my life at a particular moment, and no matter what's going on in the general world at a particular moment, somewhere there are people who are happy and having the time of their lives! It was a really nice thought that I'll remember for a long time.

    Disneyland Countdown: 13 days!


    Time for TiVo

    Tonight is TiVo catch up night - now I've seen the season premieres of Enterprise and Smallville, along with some Justice League and other stuff. Both were great, and both were a little hokey, too. But hey, I had fun watching them!

    I just noticed that my car is 75% paid off - I might start paying a little extra to finish it off at the beginning of the year. Think of all the silly junk I could buy with that car payment!

    Disneyland Countdown: 15 days!

    Waterloo Ice House : 3 of 5

    There's nothing like a great burger (you know, not like McDonalds, though I like Happy Meals like they were their own food group). I used to love eating burgers at Hang Town Grill, but sadly, they closed. So, now the best "real" burger is found at Waterloo Ice House - they really taste great, and they chop up the lettuce and onions just like Hang Town used to! The bacon cheeseburger is really good, and the fries are awesome. They have tons of beers, too, but I usually only go for lunch - however, they do have bottles of Big Red!

    Buffet Palace : 2 of 5

    I'm not a big fan of buffets - I usually never eat enough to justify the price, and there's always so many dishes I don't like. There are three Buffet Palaces in Austin - the one close to me looks pretty skanky, but my pals Chris and Eliza wanted to try out a new one close to them, and it was pretty good. The decor was really cool and clean, especially for a buffet, and the food was tasty - nothing spectacular, but I enjoyed the Lo Mein, plus they had some good Korean food like Dae's mom makes. I doubt I'll go back, but it was a good time anyway.

    Play Things

  • Kingdom Hearts for PS2: I'm really looking forward to playing this game - it's like Final Fantasy with tons of Disney characters!
  • Kingdom Hearts Strategy Guide: Because I'm not the smartest adventurer.
  • RideMax Software: The amazing program allows you to pick the Disneyland attractions you want to ride, then downloads historical wait time data for the actual day you will be going, and generates a touring plan with the shortest possible wait time! It's unbelievable - mainly it's just fun to play with, but I had to buy it to support the cool idea!
  • 9.25.2002

    Greatest American Demo

    In case you were wondering, the Greatest American Heroes demo recording session was a success! The recording itself was a breeze, and we are super happy with the results. Now we have an awesome demo CD to wow people with!

    Disneyland Countdown: 17 days!

    Monsters, Inc. : 5 of 5

    An absolutely amazing movie (you can search for my review to see how much I loved it) deserves an absolutely amazing DVD, and Monsters, Inc. does it all. This is a fantastic two DVD set including the movie and tons of extra features. In fact, it took nearly an entire day to dig through all of the material, which is cleverly organized into the Human World and the Monster World. I loved watching the tour of Pixar - what a fantastic place to work! The new Mike's New Car short is funny, but way too short, but the DVD makes up for it by including For the Birds (so hilarious). Watching the movie again was a treat, made even more special by seeing all the hard work and creativity behind the scenes. My favorite bit of trivia - several Disneyland attraction posters are on the walls in the kids' rooms!


    Sakura Diaries Vol 3 : 3 of 5

    Netflix finally got off their ass and started buying more anime for their rental inventory! They had Volumes 1 and 2 of this series available for the longest time without offering 3 and 4 - I was thrilled to see they finally had them. The long wait didn't alter my interest in this anime - I still love it! Urara is the cutest thing ever, and she finally gets a kiss from Tuoma (in the rain, no less). I have to love a cartoon soap opera that can get me talking to the TV (just like I used to do during Thirtysomething)! I should have Volume 4 soon - it better have a happy ending!


    Mickey's House of Villains : 2 of 5

    If I hadn't recently become a fan of the House of Mouse series, I wouldn't really have understood this DVD. This is basically a single long episode of House of Mouse, with tons of Disney characters hanging out at Mickey's club to watch cartoons, when suddenly the villains decide to take over. The Halloween theme is pretty obvious, and even the cartoons that Mickey shows are "spook" oriented. It was fun to see some of the ghosts from the Haunted Mansion, but most of the other stuff falls flat. There are a few extra features, but nothing too exciting. It was still fun to rent, though, so I'm not complaining!


    Gosford Park : 4 of 5

    I didn't see this in the theater, but I figured I should rent it since it was nominated for Best Picture. I've enjoyed Robert Altman movies in the past - I loved Short Cuts (but then again, I love Raymond Carver). Gosford Park starts quite slowly - at first I thought it was just going to be a simple comparison of servants and their masters, and then suddenly the murder occurs and I was on the edge of my seat! With that one event in the middle of the plot, the film changes entirely, and makes all of the setup worthwhile. I enjoyed all of the characters - there are so many of them that it takes a while to get used to them all, but eventually things fall into place. I wouldn't call it Best Picture, but it's a great film.

    Magical moments

    I've finally posted goodies from my Walt Disney World trip - check out the Trips section to view four photo albums and six (that's right, six) movies! One of the movies is short, but really cool - when I rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (formally known as the Peoplemover), I got to see the inside of Space Mountain with the lights on! I guess they were doing a little maintenance, so it was really a surprise treat - check out the movie to see for yourself!

    There were a few stand-out "magical" moments during the trip:
  • I thought the Cast Member playing Aladdin was really funny - when a child asked him for an autograph, he turned to the parents and said, "Can I borrow a pen? I promise I won't steal it!" (This is hilarious when you remember that Aladdin is a thief!)
  • Jonathan and I drank a beer at the Rose & Crown with a Cast Member who worked in central reservations. The pub was pretty busy, and when he saw the staff was swamped, he started bussing tables! Where else in the world would you see an employee do someone else's job just because they care?
  • An older Cast Member who was working in an MGM Studios shop commented on my Disneyland shirt - she said that she took her son there when he was seven, and now they both work at Walt Disney World (he's in security). What a cool family!

    Just a quick technical note - all of my QuickTime movies are now hosted on my .Mac iDisk. My WEBmikey host was running out of disk space fast, so I decided to take advantage of my Apple disk space. You'll never know the difference - just click and enjoy!

    Disneyland Countdown: 20 days!
  • 9.21.2002

    Tarzan & Jane : 1 of 5

    Another ho-hum direct to DVD Disney release, Tarzan & Jane isn't even new animation. Instead, this is a compilation of three episodes of the Tarzan TV series (with a little bit of story to somehow clump them all together). Some of the stories have a little excitement, but generally they aren't too exciting - I had to drink plenty of coffee to make it through this one. The DVD has some fairly cool extra features, such as a game where you select items to build Tarzan's treehouse, but I was really hoping for something more out of the "movie", since I really love the theatrical release! Oh well, thank goodness this was a rental!