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.