Dreaming of goodies

In case you were wondering, the "Disney Lent" is still going on - I haven't ingested a single bad-for-me thing since I returned from Oklahoma City! Every now and then I start dreaming about some things I'm missing, like a nice thin-crust pizza, or a cold beer (and there's some in my fridge just sitting there!). But then I think about how great things are going to taste at Walt Disney World, and I know I can wait.

Non-alcoholic Drinks

At Home: Recently I've been having an evening cup of Constant Comment (instead of a fattening snack).
Dining Out: I love a Mountain Dew now and then!

Beer Drinks

At Home: Alas, the Celis Brewery closed, so I don't get as much lovely wheat beer as I used to. I have been enjoying light Japanese beers like Asahi lately, though.

Liquor Drinks

At Home: In addition, I try to keep a nice bottle of Pierre Ferrand cognac on hand.
Dining Out: I've fallen in love with Grey Goose vodka, the smoothest I've ever tasted.

Bring It On : 2 of 5

I rented this one because Kirsten Dunst was so darn cute in Spider-Man, plus I remember being at Universal Studios in LA a few years a go and seeing giant billboards for it. This is basically just a teen flick - a little less goofy than the usual fare, but with a single-minded plot and no frills. I mostly enjoyed seeing they cool California weather and the mission-style high schools, but the cheerleading action was kind of cool, too (and Kirsten was darn cute all over again).

Labor Day weekend

What a great start to a three-day Labor Day weekend! This morning I went to the grocery store, dropped off some stuff for framing, got my watch battery replaced, bought some goodies at the Disney Store, picked up a package, and bought some new tennis shoes - all before noon! I have no idea what I'm going to do for the rest of the weekend, but I'm really enjoying relaxing right now.

Walt Disney World Countdown: 12 days!


No Haunted Mansion

Just under the two-week mark in the incredible Walt Disney World countdown, I read today that the Haunted Mansion will be closed for rehab while I'm there! Oh well, it's not really a big deal since I will be visiting the original Haunted Mansion at Disneyland about a month later. Plus, I'm really excited about experiencing other attractions that I missed last year, especially the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 13 days!

Return to Never Land : 5 of 5

If you didn't read my glowing review of Return to Never Land when I saw it in the theater, then you can hear how much I love this movie now that it's on DVD! I'm simply amazed at how great this movie is, especially coming from Disney's television animation group - so much better than the usual direct-to-video knock-off. I suppose it could be my emotional attachment to the original Peter Pan, but this sequel has it's own charm - all the subtle emotions visible in the face of Jane (Wendy's daughter) give her such character! And yes, I cried just as much as I did the first time.


Clash of the Titans : 3 of 5

I think every generation has a set of movies that everyone knows, even if they're obscure. As a young geek, Clash of the Titans was like a rite of passage - it had ultra-cool monsters and epic battles, plus a fantastic two-second nude scene that made every grade school kid tingle. I've seen this movie so many times on cable that seeing it on DVD was nothing new, but of course this was one I had to buy for sentimental reasons. There's not a whole lot of bonus material, but there are a few choice photos of the stop-motion puppets that are really cool.


Schoolhouse Rock! : 5 of 5

At last, every single educational cartoon masterpiece is now on DVD (thanks to Disney, no less)! I had such a blast watching them all back to back (and the DVD even has a shuffle mode), and I was amazed at how many lyrics I remembered (of course, I knew I could sing the Preamble, but I knew so much more). Some of these shorts were made in the 90s, after I switched to another network for my morning cartoons, so I got to enjoy some totally new ones as well. As you can tell, I'm thrilled with this DVD - Schoolhouse Rock was a big part of my childhood, and now it's back again.


Lisa's Birthday Party

Lisa treats all her friends to a spectacular macrobiotic feast, plus a drum circle, sake, and candlelighting ceremony. Now that's a birthday party!

View photos: Lisa's Birthday

That Thing You Do : 3 of 5

I guess I should confess that I actually rented this movie because I read it had a little footage of the Matterhorn at Disneyland in it, but I promise I watched the whole thing! Actually, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it (maybe it's because the main character is the drummer). The plot is pretty good, especially the first half where the band is just starting to become popular - the scene where they first hear their song on the radio is fantastic! The second half isn't so great - the break-up of the band is so fast that it seems a little anti-climactic (and I was a little detached since I kept thinking of Arwen when I saw Liv Tyler). The scenes of the band playing are full of great energy - it made me feel good to be a musician!


Jaguar happy

I forgot to mention that I'm now a happy user of Mac OS 10.2 Jaguar! I installed it last week and have been enjoying it completely. I should also mention that iTunes 3 makes me very happy - "smart playlists" are so cool. Now I can be sure that none of my 4,477 MP3s get neglected!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 17 days!

Goldmember : 3 of 5

I really enjoyed the original International Man of Mystery, but was disappointed by The Spy Who Shagged Me. Well, I'm happy to say that Goldmember is way, way better than the sequel (sorry, Heather - you're still on my list, though)! There are tons of fun things in the movie that really capture the fun of the original film - of course, that means reusing lots of gags, but who cares? I can't say enough about the fantastic framing device - a little movie within the movie featuring some incredible cameos, including Gwenyth (starring as "Dixie Normous"). I have no idea if a fourth movie is in the works - they plotline is certainly open, but could we really stand seeing Dr. Evil as a good guy?

Hot Sauce Festival

Ernesto, Eliza and Mikey brave the spicy dangers of the 12th Annual Hot Sauce Festival and enjoy Ann Marie's musical prowess.

View photos: Hot Sauce Festival

Pete's Dragon : 3 of 5

It was a lot of fun watching Pete's Dragon after recently seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit, since they both attempt putting cartoon characters in the real world. Of course, Roger is much more convincing than Elliot the dragon, but they still did a fine job for the time! Pete's Dragon has some of the goofiest Disney songs I can think of, plus some nice songs (which unfortunately are less enjoyable being sung by the harsh voice of Helen Reddy) like Candle on the Water, which was a pretty big hit. Anyway, watching Elliot make a fool out of a drunk Mickey Rooney is entertaining enough to make any movie a great time!


Totally fun weekend

Wow, what a fun weekend! On Saturday, I went to the movies with Ernesto and Eliza (look for a Last 5 review soon), and then Stella played a gig at a huge birthday party. On Sunday, Ernesto and Eliza and I went to the 12th Annual Hot Sauce Festival downtown, and I just got home from Lisa's birthday party, which was absolutely amazing! Lisa organized a drum circle, sake drinking ceremony, and candlelight reflection in the park, and then fed everyone a huge macrobiotic dinner - I have never been so full of such healthy food. Check back tomorrow for party pics, but be sure to check out some other new pics today!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 18 days!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding : 3 of 5

I saw this great movie with my parents during my recent visit to Oklahoma City (thank goodness we didn't see Pluto Nash instead!). This is wonderful story full of colorful characters - I especially liked the little idiosyncrasies, like the father believing Windex to be a magic cure-all. The plot basically involves a mix of two cultures, the girl's fanatically Greek family and a simple college professor, who's basically willing to do anything to achieve a pleasant life with the girl he's grown to love. There are some really funny moments, but most of all I enjoyed the notions of the plot - that sometimes those who are little-noticed find someone to whom they matter more than anything else!

Ian's Going Away Party

A group of pals gather to say good bye to Ian and wish him the best in the Big Apple!

View photos: Ian's Going Away Party


Who Framed Roger Rabbit : 4 of 5

I decided to buy this DVD as a semi-Disney release, but it went out of print a few years ago. Thanks to eBay, I was able to get one (still shrink-wrapped) at a good price, and I really enjoyed watching it! The cameos of Disney and Warner Bros. characters walking around the Maroon Cartoon studio are completely fantastic, and of course, I don't need to mention that Jessica is every toonophile's dream. I love the sequences in Toon Town, but the opening cartoon is the best - it's fantastic how they captured that great Tex Avery style in such a modern production (and then continued it in other Roger Rabbit shorts - I wish those were available on DVD!).


TiVo catch-up

I've been trying to catch up on all the episodes of Enterprise that I missed - my TiVo is filling up with them! (Have I mentioned how essential TiVo is? "Watch more in less time" is my motto!)

Walt Disney World Countdown: 22 days!

The Jungle Book : 4 of 5

I decided to rent this from Netflix, since the DVD has been out of print for a few years now (and regularly goes for $45-50 on eBay!), just to enjoy this great movie without waiting for its eventual re-release. I've seen the Jungle Book about a hundred times, since I used to have it on VHS, but it was so wonderful to see again, and it still seemed fresh. I love the semi-Beatles group of vultures and their great harmonies, and of course, the mystical song of the little girl who draws Mowgli away from his wild life (I've heard the Disney story artists called it "the call of the tame"). And Phil Harris will always be Baloo - not Thomas O'Malley and not Little John!

Animation Magic / Don Hahn : 3 of 5

Don Hahn helped produce many recent Disney animated features, from Hunchback of Notre Dame to Atlantis. I've always enjoyed his comments on DVD, so I thought I would read his book (plus, it was super cheap on a book closeouts site). Animation Magic basically covers the animation process, from the initial story meetings all the way to print creation and the theater premiere. Most of the process was familiar to me, but it was nice to read it in a fresh way, illustrated with lots of fantastic artwork. Hahn does a great job of getting to the nuts and bolts of how these movies get made, but still manages to present it with a sense of wonder and enjoyment, which is what animation is all about.


Disney on The Travel Channel

The Travel Channel is showing a series of amazing features about Disney theme parks this week! I just watched the show on Disney Imagineers, featuring lots of behind the scenes footage of how the attractions work - it was fantastic. I was especially excited to see the complexity of The American Adventure at Epcot, since I didn't get to see it last year, but I certainly will next month!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 23 days!

Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color : 5 of 5

I have to call this a tie with Silly Symphonies for my favorite of the first series of Walt Disney Treasures! It's so nice to see these amazing Mickey cartoons, featuring some of my favorites, The Band Concert and Mickey's Trailer (and now I have some new favorites, too!). It's really interesting to see how Mickey's pals Donald and Goofy quickly became the more popular characters, mainly because Mickey is just "too nice" (but inspirational in his levelheadedness). I loved seeing so many shorts that I had never seen before, and I really enjoyed trying to figure out if Donald is really cursing in Clock Cleaners (he's not, but it's hilarious anyway)!


Time for second Lent

I had a wonderful weekend in Oklahoma City with my parents - lots of relaxing, reminiscing, and eating Mom's great cooking (and lots of banana pudding)! In fact, I ate so much that I decided to join my pal Jonathan in a "second Lent", but I'm going to center my self-deprivation around my upcoming trip to Walt Disney World! So, for the next few weeks, I'm going to try to be as healthy as possible, and then when I get to Orlando, I'm going to eat a Mickey ice cream bar every ten minutes.

Into the Woods / Zilker Summer Musical : 3 of 5

It's always fun seeing productions at the Zilker Hillside Theater - the environment is pleasant, the shows are well done, and the wine is tasty (depending on what you bring). I was excited about seeing Into the Woods again, since it's one of my favorite Sondheim shows - I love the lyrics, and the combination of classic fairy tales into one crazy storyline is fantastic. The Zilker folks did a fine job - the set was wonderful, and the players and band managed to perform all those syncopated lines with ease. I need to say that I was disappointed in the Big Bad Wolf, though - I think he has the potential of being the funniest role in the show, but the performance just wasn't very daring.

Ninfa's : 4 of 5

Ninfa's has been around forever, it seems - they even have three locations in Austin. Whenever I want Mexican food, I usually want "more Tex than Mex", so I just end up at Chuy's or something similar. Recently my friend Jennifer suggested we go to Ninfa's for lunch, and I'm glad I gave it a try! While they don't have my usual combo (one cheese enchilada, one crispy taco) on the menu, I was able to substitute things for a similar set of food, which was really good. The most interesting thing is the green salsa, which tastes kind of fruity and creamy at the same time - it's extremely addictive!

Oklahoma City

I try to visit my parents twice a year - once during the summer, and then at Christmas. The summer visit is nice because it's around Dad's birthday! This was a nice relaxing trip with most of it spent watching TV with my parents and gorging on wonderful food (Mom always makes my favorites, and this time she made a great banana pudding, which I ate literally after every meal!). We took a little drive to the downtown area and I got to see the great new changes to Bricktown, plus we saw the new dome on the capitol building, which was pretty impressive (I think they just want to be like Austin).


Loving the lake

What a crazy weekend - two gigs, two parties, and boating at the lake! I had a ton of fun, but boy, am I tired! Going to the lake was nice, since I hadn't been there since last year. It felt so great to jump off the boat and hit the comfy lake water.

In Disney addiction news, I'm all set for an October trip to LA, with Dae as my gracious host. This will be my first time to see the Haunted Mansion decorated for Christmas - they completely re-theme the ride with characters from A Nightmare Before Christmas, right down to singing pumpkins!

The Fox and the Hound : 2 of 5

Yes, I have been watching nothing but Disney movies lately, so deal with it! It's kind of painful to award a 2 to a Disney animated feature, but this is by far the sappiest and least interesting of all. It's not all bad - the animation is actually nice, with beautiful backgrounds, and the main characters are interesting (and I love the foxy female fox). I think the main problem is the story - it's too simple, with no real change of setting or major events (until the battle with the bear at the end, which is very exciting). I'm not too fond of the songs, either, or any of the supporting cast, for that matter. Some people love this movie, but I'm guessing they saw it as a child (which I didn't), so nostalgia is tainting their view (as it always does for me).


Lunch Foods

Dining Out: The fantastic Hang Town Grill has closed, so now I go to Waterloo Ice House for a big juicy burger!

Dinner Foods

At Home: Sometimes I can't resist ordering a Papa John's Pizza, since I can order it online with three clicks!
Dining Out: My sushi preference has changed to Sushi Sake (Alaska roll).

Snack Foods

Dining Out: When I really need a treat, I love Sonic's Coconut Cream Pie shake - it's a pie in a glass!

Fantasia 2000 : 5 of 5

I saw this fantastic movie in the theater (though not in IMAX format, which would have been spectacular), so it took me quite a while to get around to watching the DVD. I completely enjoyed the experience, and as usual, I have a far deeper appreciation for the movie after watching the hours of behind the scenes material! It's funny how some of the CG work is already dated, when it was so amazing just a few years ago, but the traditionally animated work is top notch. I think this time around I enjoyed the Rhapsody in Blue sequence best - it's just a lovely weaving of stories set perfectly to wonderful music. I've heard they are working on Fantasia 2004 - I can't wait!

Cereal tragedy

No, no, no! I hate changes made to "classic" cereals! I just saw a commercial for Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries announcing Jimmy Newtron shaped berries in three different colors. It's just so wrong! Crunchberries are supposed to be one flavor and one shape, period. It's the same way that Trix was runied also - I can't even touch the stuff anymore. It's a good thing I'm not as much of a cereal addict as I used to be.


Disney home movies

I just finished watching some great "home movies" of Disneyland on DVD! I ordered the DVD from DisneyFans.com (actually I ordered all of them!), and the quality is excellent - they were produced with a digital camcorder and then burned onto DVD with an iMac. I'm really impressed with the menu system, which features background music, animated buttons, and everything - it really makes me want to take the plunge and start making my own DVDs of my adventures! Anyway, I had a great time watching the movies, especially the Alice in Wonderland ride.

Walt Disney Treasures: Davy Crockett : 3 of 5

This was definitely last on my list to buy in the Walt Disney Treasures series, since I've never even been interested enough to watch these on the Disney Channel, but I ended up enjoying this series much more than I thought I would! There's just something about a Disney production, even if it's live action, that makes it wholesome and fun. I'm sure the "history" in these stories is all messed up, but I did learn more about Davy's life and its end at the Alamo than I knew before. The coolest thing about the presentation is it includes the complete pre-show segments with Walt, right down to the "coming next week" announcements.


Recent Disney fun

Here's a few new Disney things that have been keeping me happy recently:

The E-Ticket is an incredible magazine about Disney theme park history. Each issue is jam-packed with awesome photos of attraction design and construction, plus interviews with the imagineers who worked on the projects with Walt. I really love the huge aerial photo of Disneyland in each issue - it's so cool to see the park evolve from the air! Anyway, I subscribed recently, plus I've been buying back issues!

I'm officially collecting these little die-cast metal ride vehicles - they look just like the Disneyland ride they're based on, with characters like Mickey, Donald and Goofy riding in them. They are only available at the parks, but I can get them using a special buying service at LaughingPlace.com!

The Rescuers Down Under : 3 of 5

The original Rescuers isn't available on DVD yet, and I barely remember the story, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this sequel. The mouse characters are funny and sweet, but the most spectacular animation comes from the giant eagle who "plays" with our young boy hero in flight among the clouds and Australian landscape. I think it's pretty cool that the Australian mouse is a kangaroo mouse, too. Overall, the plot is extremely simple, but the story moves along well and there are enough jokes to keep it interesting. I'm not really fond of Bob Newhart's voice, though - what a boring tone!


Corpus Christi

I've decided that even one-nighters qualify as a trip, so here's a short one! My pal Tom and I decided to take a drive south to Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, including Mustang Island. The drive was pretty fun since we took backroads and passed through tons of goofy towns, and the finale to the drive was riding the ferry - the first time my Acura has been on water! We spent a little time at the beach, including the National Seashore, and I've never experienced such warm and calm water (the waves had no force at all one they broke). We stayed one night and drove home in the morning - just a nice weekend adventure.

View photos: Corpus Christi


Gwyneth Paltrow

Every last dust mite in Great Expectations looks beautiful, and Gwyneth is flawless, always in green (I had to buy the DVD to watch her at the water fountain). In Sliding Doors she seems like someone I would like to meet, and crying at the Academy Awards was just too cute.

Kate Winslet

Every time Titanic is on cable, I manage to tune in for that lovely drawing scene. I had to buy an issue of In Style for an extreme close-up portrait with eyes that could make me cry. Kate is pudgy and Gwyneth is skinny - variety is the spice of life!

Heather Graham

Heather is alternately gorgeous and downright clunky, but I think I can get over it. She was way cool getting drunk in Two Girls and a Guy and was a cute little teen in Shout (along with Gwyneth). Of course, she was also amazing in Boogie Nights wearing only her skates.

Diane Lane

A very early obsession from the "staying up late to watch R-rated movies on cable" days, when I swooned over her feather dancing in The Big Town. Incredibly sexy when young, still sexy today (love that scar).


Shampoo is the ultimate goofy, sexy, anything goes girl from Ranma 1/2. Her third-person, grammatically-incorrect speech drives me crazy ("Shampoo want date Ranma now!"), and the fact that she often turns up naked doesn't hurt either (in innocent situations, of course!).