Dance Dance Revolution

Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) is an arcade game (also available for Playstation) where the player "dances" by stepping and jumping on arrows, following a pattern displayed on the screen. The experience in the arcade is complete with pumping dance music, flashing stage lights, and an announcer's voice proclaiming "The crowd loves you!" What seems like a simple game is soon revealed to be difficult and exhausting, but also immediately addictive!

I first saw DDR during my visit to Japan (where the game originated). My pals Matt and Barron and I were walking by an arcade where they had a DDR machine pushed out into the sidewalk so everyone could watch the spectacle! The players/dancers were fantastic - very athletic! I was pretty drunk on sake, but I remember thinking what a cool game it was.
Many months later, while visiting my parents in Oklahoma City, I saw a DDR machine at the mall arcade - I had to try it. I failed the first song in about 15 seconds, and my first game of DDR was over. I stood there and watched other guys who were pretty good at it, and thought to myself that I could do that, too, if I could only practice.

Back in Austin, I started searching the web, and fell right into the lap of DDR-dom - I had no idea it was such a huge subculture! Tons of otaku like me working up a sweat to dance with cartoon women! I ordered the DDR USA version, plus a RedOctane dance mat, and even bought a Playstation 2 just to try DDR at home.

I started out slowly, playing the 1-3 foot songs (the difficulty of a DDR song is measured in 1-9 "feet"). I remember being so happy when I full-comboed Boom Boom Dollar! (A full combo is completing an entire song without missing a single step.) I was also thrilled when I figured out "eighth note" patterns in the steps - I was on my way to becoming a master!
I had to have more DDR, which meant buying import versions from Japan. Matt was cool enough to send me a Japanese PSOne, and I started buying up all the Japanese mixes I could afford. At this point I was playing DDR up to two hours straight everyday and passing 7 footers - I couldn't get enough! At lunchtime I would leave work and go play in the arcade, too. I actually lost over 10 pounds during this frenzy!

Eventually I revealed my addiction to my pals, and after a quick demo, I hooked most of them, too! I've never seen anyone play DDR and actually dislike it - not everyone may be good at it, but everyone has fun. My pal Tom even had a DDR party (with myself as coach), and DDR sessions have popped up at all kinds of get-togethers (Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it!). I still play DDR several times a week at home, both for exercise and for fun. I'm always craving new music, so I buy new releases of DDR games they day they hit the market. Every now and then I can pass a 9-foot song, too!
So, why am I a DDR freak? Lots of reasons! I like the goofy pop dance music, full of energy and life. The otaku in me likes that it's a Japanese invention, and the lazy bum in me likes that it gets me off my butt and makes me sweat. But mostly I would say it's the fact that DDR is larger than life - I can jump around and listen to the crowd cheer, and when the announcer says "I can see a dream in your dance! I can see tomorrow in your dance!", sometimes I actually believe it.


Older but younger

Happy Birthday to me! Today is my 36th birthday, which seems pretty ancient, but on the inside I'm still the same little kid who chased after Winnie the Pooh in Disneyland. Maybe every year that my body grows older, my spirt grows a month or so younger! More than ever I want to focus on doing wonderful things with my life: being creative, traveling, enjoying my family and friends, and of course, running around Disneyland.


Making it personal

At bell choir rehearsal tonight, one of the women announced that her Army son just arrived in Kuwait. It suddenly occurred to me how real everything I see on the news is - it just never crosses my mind until something makes it personal. I've never met her son, but now I know someone directly affected by the possible upcoming conflict. I have virtually no political leanings and no thoughts on this war, other than I obviously want America to be safe, though I'm generally against violence of any kind. But now I have someone to think about as things unfold.

At midnight tonight I'm going to smoke my pipe! I've been giving up the "big three" (sweets, booze, and pipe) for the month of January, and since at midnight I will be 36 years old (just my body, not my spirit), I can finally enjoy a smoke!

Thunderbirds obsession

I'm becoming obsessed with watching Thunderbirds on TechTV. I had seen bits and pieces of this series before (originally broadcast in the mid to late 60s), but this is the first time I've been able to enjoy complete episodes! It's amazing what they were able to accomplish in "SuperMarionation". TechTV displays little trivia bits that popup throughout the show, which makes it even more fun - I must see them all!

Today is a fantastic day to drive with the windows down and the sunroof open!


Real, live curb-feelers

While I was driving to work this morning, I saw a car with curb-feelers on it. It looked so silly with its little wires dangling out there - I can't believe they actually manufacture and install those things. What kind of a person wants curb-feelers? I wonder what it sounds like in the car when they scrape a curb?

The best thing about it being a little chilly is that I need to wear a jacket, and jackets have pockets! I love having places to store my essential equipment - my iPod goes in my right jacket pocket and my Palm goes in my left. It's so nice to be "handsfree" and still have my stuff with me.


Dead Man Walking : 3 of 5

I wasn't too excited about seeing this opera, since I'm not a huge fan of modern opera, plus I haven't seen the movie and I knew the story would be depressing. Intense is a better word - this opera turned out to be fantastic (just very draining). It opens with a reenactment of the crime, complete with a car on stage, two naked teenagers making out, and then a rape and stabbing (not the usual thing to see in an opera). The acting and music really made the characters real (and of course, they are real since this is a true story) and completely portrayed the strength of the nun and the transformation of the convict, right up to his on stage execution. The sets were imaginative, featuring bars, chain-link, and descending catwalks that gave the prison depth.

Blast : 5 of 5

Several months ago, Disney's California Adventure featured a couple of numbers from this show as an attraction, and I read tons of reviews praising the performance. When I saw the complete show was coming to Austin, I had to go, and I'm thrilled that I did. Blast is an amazing combination of all of the elements of Drum Corps (brass, percussion, marching, flags, and twirling) with a spectacular Stomp-like flair. The music is all live, enhanced by non-marchable instruments (keyboard, trap set) on a huge Hollywood Squares set at the rear of the stage. There is amazing acrobatics here, too - flag throwing, people doing one-handed cartwheels while holding heavy brass instruments, along with surprise set elements, like a descending rack of toms instantly played by twenty percussionists! Anything and everything made the audience cheer (including me) - Blast was an incredible experience!

Rudolph Mambo

My first attempt at creativity with my new camcorder! Using toys from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer show, I put together this little stop-motion piece in about 2 hours (one to shoot, another to edit). I had more ambitious movement in mind, but the stupid cotton snow made it next to impossible to balance the figures (next time I'm using confetti snow!). Still, it's pretty fun to watch, and I got my feet wet with digital video.

Watch video: Rudolph Mambo

Chicago : 5 of 5

I love movie musicals, so I'm always happy to see something like Chicago come along. I haven't seen the stage version before (though I know several of the songs that are nearly standards), so I was able to experience the film fresh. It's always fun to see movie stars sing and dance, especially when they aren't known for it. However, Catherine was born to do it - she is spectacular! Rene does a fine job, though I'm not a big fan, and Richard does the best he can (he is definitely the weak link in the singing department, but it's not too bad). The whole production creatively weaves in the songs as a "dream world" experience, cutting it perfectly with the "real life" footage, as if the characters were imagining their lives as a stage number. Everything is so well done that the audience has a tendency to applaud each number, which is a fantastic complement for a movie!

Oklahoma City

I made my usual journey to Oklahoma City in December to spend Christmas 2002 with my parents. What a wonderful time! We had a fantastic Christmas together, of course, with just enough snow to make it a White Christmas, but little enough for it to start melting the day after so we could get out on the town. We saw a couple of movies, but the highlight was our day downtown, where we saw a Titanic exhibit with actual artifacts (fascinating!) and visited the State Capitol to see the new dome recently put on the roof, which was pretty impressive.

Video success

After a massive editing session yesterday, I finished my Christmas Decorations movie! I'm so happy with it, and it was lots of fun to edit together. It's almost eight minutes long, so I won't be posting it here, but someday soon I plan to get an iMac with a SuperDrive so I can burn it to DVD. Digital video is cool!


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Roald Dahl : 5 of 5

After reading the sequel to this book, I had to read the original, especially since it was the basis for one of my favorite movies! It was so much fun to read - I enjoyed finding places in the story that were exactly like the film (with even some word for word dialogue), and of course, lots of places that were different. The books doesn't have any of the Slugworth spy plot (though he is mentioned), but it's not missed at all. I really liked how the Golden Egg room from the movie is the Nut Shelling room in the book (and Veruca is thrown down the chute by hundreds of squirells for being a "bad nut"). It's also interesting how most of the kids take both their parents into the factory, rather than each taking one like in the film. Best of all are the Oompa Loompa songs - different lyrics, but twice as long and twice as funny!

Drippy day

It's a drippy, foggy, 43-degree day in Austin, perfect weather for watching DVDs and writing some WEBmikey! I got out for a haircut and some grocery shopping, but now I'm hanging at home. I started editing some video with iMovie for a Christmas Decorations documentary, which is lots of fun!


Atlantis Subterranean Tours: A Traveler's Guide to the Lost City : 3 of 5

Disney's pretty cool but not fantastic animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire has inspired a ton of books (most of which are now available for discount prices!). This particular book is a fake travel guidebook you would use if you were actually going to visit Atlantis! I love stuff like this - it has complete descriptions of hotels and restaurants (some of which have inside joke names based on the animators), a language guide, and even a customs form! Nothing in the book gives away the secret (except for the fact that no one knows how to get to Atlantis). Lots of the movie characters are mentioned in the book, so we find out that Milo and Kida are doing just fine revitalizing the Atlantean civilization. Sign me up!

Book organization

Tonight I reorganized most of my books, since they were all completely scattered on my shelves (due to some crazy water testing on my condo, which is a long story!). It took quite a while, but it was pretty fun. I keep my DVDs on my bookshelves, and I figured out a way to fit all of my Disney DVDs on one shelf. The basic groups I came up with were: Disney, Poetry, Philosophy, Classics, Modern Fiction, Art, Children's, College, Computers, and Random.

My pal Tom (now in the Peace Corps) has been sending me updates for his website via postcards. If you're wondering how he's doing, check out Tom's WebWorld.

Mikey loves to provide entertainment for Barron, but he would appreciate some fresh bread from the new bread-maker!

Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy : 5 of 5

I was really excited about this volume of the Walt Disney Treasures series, since I had seen very few Goofy cartoons (though I had certainly read all about them). This two DVD set contains all of Goofy's "starring" roles, and was a joy to watch! The early Goofy is very much like the Goofy that appears on the Disney Channel today, but in the late fifties, he became a pipe-smoking, married with children, typical businessman named George Geef! These cartoons of the "How To" variety are hilarious and bizarre - it's amazing to watch Goofy experience road rage or have a nicotine fit! Every cartoon included is memorable - it's fantastic to have them all!


The Universe in a Nutshell / Stephen Hawking : 4 of 5

I've read a couple of Stephen Hawking books in the past and found them fascinating, so I was happy to get his newest book for Christmas! This is a gorgeous book - every single page is filled with color photos and illustrations that visualize the extremely difficult subjects of theoretical physics, relativity, quantum mechanics, and so on. Hawking designed the book to have stand-alone chapters, but each topic is so out-there that nothing really is self-contained (I'm really glad I read A Brief History of Time earlier!). The writing is witty and exciting, since Hawking is so good-natured and optimistic about things, but it definitely does not talk down to anyone - some of the topics were so obscure that I just had to read them and let them sink in without really trying to figure them out.

The Audrey Hepburn Story : 1 of 5

I rented this crazy DVD for a few reasons: first, I love Audrey Hepburn. Second, I kind of enjoy Jennifer Boobs Hewitt (at least, she's been fun in a few movies and some of her songs are OK), and third, I missed this made for TV movie when it was broadcast. Holy bad accent, I didn't miss anything - Jennifer tries to imitate Audrey's interesting accent, and from the moment she opens her mouth you know this is going to be one terrible experience. To make matters worse, she sings Moon River with her usual scooping pop style, so not only is the accent horrible, but it's inconsistent. The way the story of Audrey's life is presented isn't so bad, just very melodramatic (with painfully obvious breaks for commercials).


Jedi Quest 4: The Master of Disguise / Jude Watson : 4 of 5

The adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin continue, just as exciting and well-written as ever. This volume does a great job of bringing back characters from past volumes (such as the new villain, Granta Omega), along with minor characters from the movies (like members of the Jedi Council). I loved how this story focused on Anakin's thoughts and feelings - these books do a much better job of showing his path to Vader-dom than the films! His training with another Jedi Master is fascinating, especially the wisdom and philosophy that is brought to bear. I'm ready for the next volume!

Bruce Springsteen

I know, I know - Bruce is some kind of national treasure. I just don't get anything out of someone who celebrates the "glory" of being underprivileged (I guess than means wearing greasy T-shirts is cool). His singing (screaming) is terrible too. I once heard a commedian say "If Bruce is the Boss, then I quit."

Rod Stewart

I can't understand it - a big nosed, grungy, old man with goof-ass hair and a sandpaper voice is supposed to be sexy. I especially think it's hilarious that he's recently been singing "smooth" tunes in a Tony Bennet style - kind of like mopping a floor with a jackhammer.

Sandra Bullock

I have no idea why people like Sandra Bullock, unless they're also tomboy, depressingly plain people who need someone to identify with. Sandra has zero style, in my opinion - I'm just amazed that people think she's beautiful. Having her as part of the "Austin scene" is such a tragedy.

Julia Roberts

I guess I have a problem with Julia Roberts because the public likes her too much. Just because she has a long neck doesn't make her Audrey Hepburn, who had more talent in an eyelash than Julia has in all of her huge overwhelming teeth. Watching her win Academy Awards makes me cringe!

Kevin Costner

I don't like Kevin Costner because he commits the ultimate actor's sin - he acts the same role in every damn movie! I don't care if he's a DA or Robin Hood, he's just plain ol' no-talent Kevin. Can't he take the time time develop a mannerism or an accent or something to show he can act? Sheesh.

Snow White at Disneyland

I have a thing for all the "Disney babes" who interact with guests at Disneyland, but in March 2002, Snow White was by far the most amazing character I'll ever see. Not only was she beautiful, but the way she hugged and talked with this little girl was so touching - she was truly making that girl's dream come true, and it was magnificent.

All blogged!

Time for fireworks - the conversion of WEBmikey to a completely blogged site is finally complete! Wow, it only took me about a year! (That was sarcasm, by the way.) It feels pretty nice to have it finished, so now I can stay more up to date with my Last 5 reviews, and finally add some new content I've been thinking about. Hope you enjoy everything!

While you're admiring it all, be sure to check out my updated PEZ photos, which are now finally current (click on the pics for a larger view). Also, the Hate It page is brand-spanking new! (The former Obsession page is now called Love It.)

I've been feverishly burning the classical side of my CD collection with iTunes, now that I have a nice 120 GB FireWire drive - so far my collection will play 16.8 days!


Disney: The First 100 Years / Dave Smith : 5 of 5

Yet another fantastic Christmas book, this one is bursting with excellent information, all presented chronologically. Each year has a section, starting with Walt's birth, and presents basically everything that went on in Walt's life and the Disney company until today (well, almost today). There are tons of great images, and I like how they talk about all aspects of the company - animated features, theme parks, and even Touchstone and Miramax movies. This is a fun book to study to get a grasp of the Disney timeline and appreciate just how amazing it is.


Planet of the Apes Revisited / Joe Russo : 5 of 5

A gift from my good pal Dae, this book had been on my wish list for quite a while. It tells the complete story of the making of the Planet of the Apes movies (and I've been an Apes fan forever!), all the way up to the disappointing remake. It includes great photos and extensive background material, such as summarizing each plot as it became refined into a script - the storylines that were abandoned are amazing! There's tons of information about the makeup, the actors, and just about anything else you can imagine - once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down!


Disney: The Ultimate Visual Guide / Russell Schroeder : 4 of 5

I love books that are well-designed, and this books fits that description! Each page of this book is a page layout masterpiece, combining tons of images and text in creative ways, presenting each "theme" of material with style and flair. There's not a wealth of information here that I didn't know, but that's not the point - the idea is to present that general Disney history and trivia in a visually fantastic way, and what a success it is! It's great to own so many cool Disney books - what a great Christmas!


The Disney Poster Book / Leonard Maltin : 4 of 5

One of the beautiful Disney books I got for Christmas, featuring giant page after page of beautiful color artwork. This is a huge book, almost poster-sized itself, and the art is reproduced perfectly on these large pages. The book contains images of posters for Disney shorts as well as animated features - it's wonderful to be able to see the posters of so many different short cartoons that I love. There's not much to read here, though each section does have a page of text describing the next category of posters. The art speaks for itself!


Applause, please

I think it's wonderful when people applaud in a movie. They obviously know that no one is there to "receive" the applause, so they can only be clapping for one reason - because they are moved! I saw Chicago today (review coming soon), and the crowd applauded several times - it was fantastic!


See you soon, Tom

Tonight was the last night I'll see my good friend Tom for two years, since he'll be with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan. All of Tom's friends had a final dinner on Friday night at Buca di Beppo, then tonight Ernesto cooked the final-final dinner for the closest crowd (so Tom had a total of three going-away parties!). The good-bye was sad, but I know he's going to have a fulfilling adventure, and there will be one hell of a party when he returns in 2005!

Today I received my shareholder dividend from Disney on my single share - a gigantic 21 cents! That's down from my 26 cents last year, but I still think getting a check from Mickey is the coolest thing around.


Walt Disney Treasures: Behing the Scenes at the Disney Studio : 5 of 5

I had a fantastic Christmas this year - my parents gave me all of the Disney items from my Amazon wish list! I love the Disney Treasures series, and I've really been looking forward to this volume, mainly because I had never seen The Reluctant Dragon. I really enjoyed the glamorized versions of all the studio departments - it was so much fun to see everything going on! I was really impressed with the dragon story itself, too - I love laughing out loud, and this feature did the trick. Also included are three essential shows from the Disney TV series, which I've seen many times on the Disney Channel, but it's wonderful to own them on DVD since the Disney Channel stopped all of it's Vault Disney programming (to make sure these DVDs sell, no doubt)!


American Pie 2 : 1 of 5

I really have no idea why I rented this - I was only vaguely entertained by the first film (which I saw in the theater). I guess I put this in my Netflix queue so long ago that I forgot all about it. Anyway, I watched it, and it was pretty much a waste of time. I had no sympathy for any of the characters, and the big over-the-top gag (using super glue as a "self-lube") wasn't even that great. I did like the subplot of the band camp girl falling in love while "training" the main character, but that's just because I'm a sucker for dreams coming true - the movie itself had nothing to do with it. Oh well, at least it's over now.


Ranma 1/2: From the Depths of Despair : 2 of 5

Most of this volume deals with a super-weird attack called "Shishi Hoko-Dan", which draws it's power from the depression of the attacker - of course, Ryoga leans this technique, since he's always depressed about turning into a pig, getting lost, and wanting to be with Akane! Ranma and Ryoga end up doing everything they can to be depressed as possible (fasting, not sleeping), and a really silly battle ensues. The other episode involves six demon Happosai, which of course ransack the town stealing girls' underwear. A pretty good volume, though the big depression battle gets a little old.


iMovie 2: The Missing Manual / David Pogue : 4 of 5

Now that I have my super cool digital camcorder (my Christmas gift to myself), I'm ready to explore video editing, which means using iMovie. I've already had fun experimenting with making a little stop-motion film with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer toys, but I've been hungry to learn about all the fun stuff iMovie can do. Another Christmas book from Mom and Dad, I gobbled this up in just a few days and learned so much! Not only are the "how-to" sections complete and easy to understand, but the book also provides a lot of coverage of basic film editing techniques, which will be so helpful to a novice like me. I'm looking forward to doing some "artistic" films this year, and I can't wait to burn my creations onto DVDs somewhere down the line.

Ranma 1/2: Initiation Nite : 3 of 5

By far the best episode in this volume involves the Jusenkyo guide, who comes to Japan from China because the haunted stream that cursed Ranma and everyone else is going to be coming up in Ranma's backyard! This is a great plot, because it gets everyone together (including the lovely Shampoo) to attempt to end their curse and finally have the one they love - and the crowd manages to spoil it all, of course! Another funny story involves Kuno acting as principal of the school, making up all kinds of stupid rules - Ranma has to seduce him as the pigtailed girl to stop his rampage.

Gangs of New York : 4 of 5

Wow, what a great, but totally exhausting, movie! I kept asking myself tons of questions while watching this movie: How did they shoot that? How did they build those sets? Did this really happen? How could people be so brutal, brave, stupid, and heroic? There's definitely plenty of violence and blood, but thankfully Marty keeps it fairly hidden (not a lot of gore). The plot is a lot like Hamlet, but takes a sharp turn about two-thirds through (which I assumed was the end of the movie - no way). Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic as the heavy, whom we grow to admire and hate at the same time. Leo is his usual self with an accent, and Cameron has a fairly small role (thank goodness). The story is what really shines, though - it's epic and personal at the same time, and completely mind-blowing to think of it as history!

Fun at D&B

I just got back from a little weekend fun at Dave & Busters (it would have been more fun with a beer, but alas, I'm too healthy for that). I quickly blew some cash on the ticket dispensing machines (I now have over 3,000 tickets, but I'm saving up to trade them for something really cool), and I played several games of pinball (but the stupid flipper was stuck on Star Wars pinball). I really wish they had more pinball games and a real DDR machine - I would spend so much more money there if they did!

I've got all the sections in Creativity converted now - nothing new, but you should check it out again anyway!


James and the Giant Peach / Roald Dahl : 4 of 5

Here comes the parade of books my parents got me for Christmas! This is my second Roald Dahl story to read, and I loved it - I was already a big fan of the fantastic movie (which always makes me cry when James discovers he's loved), so it was a joy to read the book. The story has several episodes that didn't make it into the movie (and of course, the movie has some things that weren't in the book), including a great sequence with cloud people making the weather and causing trouble for James and the insects flying in the peach. The poetry sections are really wonderful (as they were in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator) - I'm hoping that's a usual thing for Dahl's books!

Reboot Vol 3 : 3 of 5

It seems like forever since I've watched this series, but it was easy to catch up and get into it again. Cute little Enzo has grown up into the bizarre Matrix, searching the Net for good ol' Bob, along with his sprite girlfriend with the shiny boobs. In this volume, he meets a "web surfer" (of course, he's got an actual surfboard and has an Australian accent) and joins up with a pirate crew (I love it when they say "Shiver me templates!") to set sail on the Web. Eventually he really does find Bob at last, who has been doing his best to stay alive in the Web (I think he was banished there by Mainframe - I miss the old metal mouth). Silly as ever, and just as cool - what a fun show!

Healthier than Goofy

I'm back on the health wagon - this time my goal is to reach my birthday without bad food, booze, or my pipe. I'm glad that I have my SportBrain to help me this time - I did over 10,000 steps today, thanks to some fun DDR sessions! So far the only thing I miss is my weekend pipe - it doesn't help that I've been watching lots of Goofy cartoons today where he smokes a pipe!

Catch Me If You Can : 3 of 5

I love movies that send me home wanting to know more - I immediately had to start searching for info on Frank Abagnale to see how true the movie was. The plot is really engaging, making the full two hours fly by. I wouldn't say its from spectacular acting, but just because the story is so fascinating - its amazing to think that he got away with all of this! I really enjoyed the retro, space-age look at air travel, too - it was all so glamorous back then. The soundtrack and open titles are worth mentioning, too - John Williams wrote a totally out of character score that really works and sounds cool, even perfect. It's also good to see Tom Hanks play something other than the lead for once!


Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator / Roald Dahl : 3 of 5

Even though I read all the time as a child, I seemed to have missed all the great books by Roald Dahl. However, I'm obsessed with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the film version of the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), so I recently decided I should start reading these great stories that inspired such great movies. My pal Dae sent me this book for Christmas, and being a sequel, it begins right where the original story ends, as the Great Glass Elevator (or Wonkavator) crashes through the roof of the factory and into space. The story is a wild one, with lots of funny commentary on human nature (always shown through the actions of silly adults). I really enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to reading more Dahl.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers : 4 of 5

After waiting a year for this second part of the Lord of the Rings, I waited a couple more days to see it with my parents over Christmas. We had a great time and all enjoyed it! I liked how they just immediately picked up where the last movie ended - very little rehashing (basically only Frodo's nightmare). Gollum was really well done - the close-up shots of his reactions and facial acting were fantastic! Of course, the battle scenes were dramatic and long - this is a war, after all! I think they did a nice job of keeping them interesting by focusing on the characters (like Legolas and Gimli counting their kills). The Ents were great, too - I would love to ride in their branches like Merry and Pippin!


Die Another Day : 2 of 5

I think I've seen all of the James Bond films, but I can't really say I'm a fan. I enjoy the movies, especially the gadgets and crazy stunts, but I don't know any Bond trivia or anything like that. Anyway, Die Another Day is just an OK Bond flick. I'm glad to see Pierce Brosnan in the role (I hated Timothy Dalton), and the story gets off to an interesting start with Bond having his "00" status revoked. From that point, it goes into heavy action mode - normally this is a good thing, but some of the fight scenes just went on and on to the point of boredom (I even snoozed a little while they were driving through the ice hotel). I also think Halle Berry is totally overrated, but I still had a little fun watching the movie anyway.

Jedi Quest 3: The Dangerous Games / Jude Watson : 4 of 5

The pre-Episode II adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin continue, this time with a surprising amount of connection to Episode I. The plot starts off a little weak, with the Jedi on a security mission for a kind of galactic olympics, but soon becomes interesting when Anakin discovers some illegal pod racing, and runs into several racers from Episode I, including Sebulba (who's son does the actual racing). Of course, there's an exciting race, with a course that is revealed to the racers during the event (which leads them into certain disaster, as expected). There's some great Obi-Wan action, too, as he defeats an athletic champion (who turns out to be the bad guy) with superior Jedi skill. Overall, this was a really interesting installment - maybe the best so far!


Lotsa luck

My pal Tom (soon joining the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan) just came over and brought me some black-eyed peas to eat for good luck in 2003 (which should make my Mom really happy)! They were prepared in a cold salad with tomato, onion, and cilantro, and believe it or not, I liked it. What a shock! Tonight I'm going to have another "good luck" dinner with Jonathan, Lisa, and Ernesto - I should have tons of luck this year.

2003 already

Happy New Year! Looks like the holidays have come and gone - I had a fantastic Christmas in Oklahoma City with my parents, and last night I played my first New Year's Eve gig, which was a complete blast! I'm looking forward to fun times in 2003, thankful for all the great gifts that I've been given - family and friends, most of all.

I am really behind in WEBmikey updates, but be assured I will get around to reviewing every movie, DVD and book that I've experienced during the past weeks! I'm also committed to completing the site conversion (I'm so close!), and after that's finished I'll start working on some new fun content.

Disneyland Resort: Magical Memories for a Lifetime : 3 of 5

During my last visit to Disneyland in October, I bought this nice hardcover souvenir book - I believe that Disney produces a similar book every few years or so, and this is the first one to include a section on Disney's California Adventure (including some attractions that are already doomed to close). It's basically a high quality picture book, with very simple text covering each land in Disneyland and nearly all of the attractions. The photography is good - nothing extremely creative, but it covers all of the wonderful sights of the resort. Certainly not a must-have book, but a nice collector's item for Disney freaks like me!