4.30.2003

Back from NYC

Hello again, WEBmikey fans! Sorry for the delay in posting - I took a trip to New York City last weekend and it takes me a while to get back up to speed in the real world. Thanks for all the anonymous prodding for more updates (you know who you are)! Expect a trip report and Broadway reviews this weekend!

Depressing Enterprise

I just watched the most depressing episode of Enterprise yet. I couldn't believe they ended with an alien suicide, then a huge reprimand from Archer that went on and on to pound the tragedy into Trip's skull. Sheesh! I guess they really want to provide some background into why the Prime Directive is so important in the later shows. (If you don't keep up with Star Trek stuff, none of this will make sense. Please continue to the next exciting post.)

Definitely not a flop

I watched Treasure Planet after picking up my DVD yesterday (like any loyal Disney fan). It's so sad that it got such a bad rap as being the "biggest flop" in Disney animation history - the movie is really fantastic! I don't know if it was just the bad release date (which was forced by McDonald's), bad marketing, or if only animation fans like me could see what an amazing film it is.

Major stepping

I have been walking my toes to the bone lately to win a SportBrain reward. I'm averaging over 16,000 steps a day now, mainly from walking in circles while I watch TV. Yeah, it sounds funny, but I totally work up a sweat and the step count is genuine! It's amazing what I'll do for something free.

Tolkien-izing

I finally watched the hours of bonus material on my Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVD set over a week ago. It was truly amazing and entertaining (of course), but the best part was listening to the New Zealand accents. I don't think I've ever heard a more bizarre way of pronouncing things - it's like every short "e" sound is a long "e"!

4.21.2003

Startup.com : 4 of 5

I heard about this documentary back when it hit the theaters (I think I read about it on Billy's site), so I'm glad it made it to DVD. The movie is as entertaining as it is sad, following the rise and fall of an internet startup from the moment one of the founders quits his old job right down to the day the founders end up with zero dollars to show for their effort. The film makers were incredibly lucky to be able to follow these people around for so long, having no idea where the economy was heading or what would happen to the company. It was pretty fascinating to see all of these politics unfold, driven by noble intentions, but pretty cruel despite the dreams that inspired the company in the first place. Even though the movie is the story of failure, I felt inspired by the fact that people can attempt to do anything, and if it doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world.

4.20.2003

Brian Wilson: Imagination : 2 of 5

Being a big Beach Boys fan and admirer of the genius of Brian Wilson, I tossed this concert DVD in my Netflix queue a long time ago. It's only an hour long, featuring footage of the Imagination tour, along with lots of interview snippets. Most of the songs were new to me (except the Beach Boys numbers), but they were pretty good - they still have much of those amazing chord progressions and simple lyrics that end up being so revealing into Brian's character. Brian's band features tons of "older" famous musicians, including guys from the Eagles and Christopher Cross! It was a nice way to spend an hour, so maybe I'll buy the CD someday.

4.19.2003

Mary Poppins / P.L. Travers : 4 of 5

I really enjoy reading books that inspired movies, especially Disney movies, which are famous for doing quite a bit of story rearranging. Mary Poppins is the first in a series of children's books, but I think the movie was only based on this first set of stories. Lots of episodes are here exactly like in the movie, but there's also many other great chapters and characters (such as the Banks' baby twins, featured in one of my favorite stories about how babies are born knowing how to speak to animals, but forget how as they grow older). It was fun to read a few lines of dialogue straight from the film, and I also enjoyed how mary is always primping in any mirror she can find. I liked the Magic Compass scene, too, which I've read was pulled from the screenplay (even after songs were written for it, which ended up in Bedknobs & Broomsticks!). A very enjoyable book, practically perfect in every way (just like Mary).

Disney on Ice : 4 of 5

I had never seen a Disney ice show before, so I was really excited to be going with my pals Barron, Mariko and baby Bay. This edition was called Three Jungle Adventures, featuring the stories of The Lion King, The Jungle Book, and Tarzan. The rink was filled with tons of jungle foliage at first, and Mickey and the gang came out in a Jungle Cruise boat to say hello. They used Rafiki and young Simba as a framing device to tell the other stories - The Jungle Book was fun because of the huge elephants and the toppling ruins of King Louie, and Tarzan was incredible because of the fantastic vine swinging and the beautiful athleticism of Jane (with a nice vanishing costume). The music for all of these numbers was interesting, since they were often arranged in a different style than the original. They finally told the majority of The Lion King story, ending with a huge finale, of course. What a fantastic show!

The Country Bears : 3 of 5

I'm not sure how I feel about Disney making movies loosely based on park attractions, but I still have to watch them, of course! The Country Bears takes its inspiration from the Country Bear Jamboree, but just barely (pun not intended!). The whole movie is kind of like a VH1 Behind the Music, with a child (a bear child, but still a child) following his dream to belong somewhere, a common Disney theme. The bear costumes are pretty cool, and you get used to watching these "actors" fairly quickly, but I wish the story had more to do with the park attraction - there's really only one bear with the same name (as far as I could tell). Some of the music is good, too, so I guess overall the movie was better than I expected. I just hope they do a much better job with Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion!

Close call

My pal Ryan and I recently went to a Round Rock Express game. The Express lost, but we had a great time since it was fireworks night (complete with Styx Paradise Theater cranking over the speakers)! Ryan warned me that we were in the "line of fire" for foul balls, but I was drinking beer and didn't really care. Then the second pitch of the game bounced into our section right behind us!

Once in a lifetime ride

The Greatest American Heroes played a gig at the Texas State History Museum this week, and it was a blast! We got to ride in the largest freight elevator in North America - no kidding! It can easily hold a car with lots of room to spare. When you enter, a whole wall opens up - it's amazing!

Fight locations

Have you ever noticed that almost every fight on Power Rangers looks like it was shot in a supermarket parking lot somewhere? Wouldn't that be fun to be driving along one day and see a bunch of rubber monster suits going at it with those colorful heroes? (No, I don't really watch the show, but it was hard to avoid it during a recent marathon.)

Homeless advertising

There's a place called Wherehouse Music here that's going out of business, and they have hired homeless people to hold their advertising signs. It's really weird to see a sad looking person standing by the highway with a bright yellow "Last weekend! 80% off!" sign. I hope they're paying them more than they would make panhandling.

4.13.2003

Captain Scarlet Vol 1 : 1 of 5

I was really excited about watching Captain Scarlet, one of the last SuperMarionation series, because it features realistic puppets and better special effects. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed. The puppets look so much like GI Joe figures because they barely move! The puppets in Thunderbirds are so much more expressive - Captain Scarlet looks incredibly stiff. The premise of the series is boring, too - kind of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers with less imagination. I did like the sets and the sexy female fighter pilots with cool names like "Destiny Angel", but I don't think I'll be renting anymore episodes.

4.12.2003

Swiss Family Robinson : 5 of 5

I bought that fantastic Vault Disney release, since I couldn't find it available for rental. I hadn't seen the movie before, but I had read lots of great reviews (and visited the Swiss Family Treehouse at Disneyland, of course!). I completely loved it! There's decent acting from everyone, great action and suspense (especially the creepy swamp scene), a little romance, and tons of fun. The scenery is fantastic, and the treehouse itself is a marvel. It's cool seeing all the different animals, too (and listening to them trying to explain how they got there). There's a ton of extra material on the second disc, too, including an amazing episode of Walt's show that covered the movie by telling the whole making-of story as a Calypso song!

4.11.2003

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth : 2 of 5

Although I'm a big anime fan, I've really only seen a few episodes of Evangelion. I know the basic story and the main characters, though, so I thought it would be fun to watch this movie. This DVD is actually two parts - a longer movie and a shorter "add-on" chapter. The long movie is really just a retelling of the entire series in very quick cuts. I recognized a lot of scenes I had seen a long time ago, but it was kind of interesting to see them edited this way (very MTV). So, I guess I have seen the story to it's conclusion, which was pretty confusing (a typical anime thing!). The extra chapter wasn't really that interesting - I suppose it answers burning questions that only those who fully understand the plot would ask!

4.10.2003

Stingray Vol 1 : 3 of 5

Since I've been watching Thunderbirds on TechTV and enjoying it so much, I decided to rent some of the other SuperMarionation series. I used to watch Stingray a little bit in the past - I could catch the last 15 minutes of it when I used to have to get up earlier for work. The story is about a super-submarine and it's daring crew, fighting undersea enemies that you never knew existed. The closing credits love song is hilarious and wonderful - it's my favorite thing about the show! The puppets and effects are very similar to Thunderbirds, but since this is an earlier series, there's plenty of goofiness, too. It's tough to get through ten episodes, though (but I had to listen to Marina every time).

Peaceful evening

Wow, I love fantastic weather like yesterday! Right after work I sat on my balcony in the sun, drinking some great wine, listening to the iPod on my Sony portable speakers, and reading a few chapters of Mary Poppins. I dozed off a little, too, which was so peaceful. I think a glass of white wine sparkling in the sun is incredibly beautiful! (This is a picture of a glass I had at Disney's California Adventure!)

4.06.2003

The Onion: Ad Nasueam : 3 of 5

I have been an Onion fan for many years, even subscribing to the paper version for a while (though recently I just read it on the web). My pal Ernesto knows this, so he bought me this great book for my birthday. I just now finished it, because it contains an entire year of every weekly issue of the Onion! I had read some of the issues before, but it was so fun to read them all again. I especially love the Herbert Kornfield (H-Dog) column, so it's a blast to have them all in one place. What a great gift!

Haiku

Win the lottery
Or target for pidgeon shit
Chances are the same

Haiku

Town Lake turtles swim
Looks kind of like Disneyland
Animatronic?

Tuck Everlasting : 4 of 5

I missed this Disney movie at the theater, and I've never read the book (though I hear it's great), but I completely enjoyed this story on DVD! The plot involves a family who has discovered a fountain of immortality and hides in the woods to protect their secret. One of the boys (who is over a hundred years old, really) falls in love with a girl who stumbles upon the family, and the question to the audience becomes one of the value of life. The best line in the film is when the father says, "Don't fear death - rather fear the unlived life." All of the acting is wonderful, and the story moves along quickly while staying thought-provoking and fascinating. Everyone should see this movie and realize the gift of life!

Bird bombed!

Yesterday I took advantage of the 80-degree weather to take a 3.5 mile walk around Town Lake! The walk was wonderful, the sky was beautiful, the iPod was cranking, and all was right with the world. Suddenly, I was bird bombed - I guess it had to happen sometime. Just as I crossed under Mopac, a huge pile of shit plopped on my shoulder. How nice! Mopac is my halfway point, so I had to continue my walk for the second half with a lovely stain on my shoulder! I'm counting my blessings though - the poop completely missed the Disney cap I was wearing, and all things considered, it was a fantastic walk!

Today I decided to try to break my DDR Endless record, which is 34 songs straight (in Trick mode). It takes a full hour to make it to song 35, but I did just fine! I was all set to break my record, when the game randomly picks my arch-enemy song - Orion 78. (I always have a rough time with this song!) I failed the song - which means I tied my record. If it had picked any other of the 60 songs I would have beat it! At least I had fun trying.

Wisdom from Friday: No matter what you think, eating four donuts is never a good idea.

Mikado : 5 of 5

I read somewhere that Mikado is Austin's 24th sushi bar - wow! I went to Mikado with my pals Chris & Eliza just to try something new, and we had a fantastic meal! We started with a great bottle of chilled sake, then had edemame (of course) and something called the "mushroom package" (which gave us plenty of laughs), consisting of grilled/steamed mushrooms, including kinds I had never tried before. We also had sea scallops, and then three amazing sushi rolls - the eel was my favorite! For dessert we had green tea, Nagano rum cake, and tempura ice cream, all delicious. The decor is very subdued, but beautiful (as are the waitresses). I'll definitely be back!

4.02.2003

Mad About the Mouse : 2 of 5

I guess I have officially started collecting the many, many CDs that have been produced featuring contemporary artists covering classic Disney tunes. This particular CD isn't known to be one of the better ones, so I wasn't expecting much, but it was worth the purchase for a few nice tracks. I actually like Billy Joel's When You Wish Upon a Star, and Harry Connick's Bear Necessities is fantastic. Of course, there are some really bad tracks that require skipping, like Michael Bolton's scratchy screech of A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. Yuck!

Big steppin' day

Today I did over 11,000 steps on my SportBrain before dinner! I played DDR this morning, walked two miles at lunch, then walked another mile for an afternoon break. It feels good to be on a roll!

The other day I was picking some CDs to put in the car and I realized that two CDs I own both have a drawing of a piano on them with no other text at all, so I got them confused! The CDs are Ben Folds Five's first album and Cake's Motorcade of Generosity - I ended up listening to both of them. (By the way, Saint Etienne's Good Humour is one of my all-time favorite albums - just thought you should know!)

Go Anaheim Angels! They won their last two games, one of them 10-0. It's kind of fun to be a fan - of course, I'm an Angels fan because of the Disney connection, but that's good enough for me.

Mamma Mia : 5 of 5

I love seeing professional touring companies of Broadway productions, so I try to go whenever they make it to Austin. Being an ABBA fan since high school, there was no way you could keep me away from seeing Mamma Mia! The story is a simple plot that involves a bride-to-be trying to discover which of her mom's three former boyfriends could be her father, but the real charm is the use of around thirty ABBA hits. I'm sure it was challenging to find ways to make the lyrics fit the situation, but they really pulled it off (sometimes in completely unexpected ways)! The performers were all great, and the live band was excellent and very true to the original recordings. Mamma Mia is a great idea and a wonderful show!

The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again : 2 of 5

Although it's fun to watch these old Disney movies, sometimes it's tough to get through some of them. Of course, this is the sequel to The Apple Dumpling Gang, which I don't remembering seeing, but I'm sure it was quite a bit like this movie. Don Knotts and Tim Conway are extremely talented and funny - there's no doubt about that, but I just didn't find myself entertained watching them (for the most part). The plot starts off really slow, but thankfully picks up towards the end with some action on a moving train. I'm sure if I had been in a "younger" mood at the time I would have liked this movie, but instead I was mainly interested in checking out the female lead.

TourGuideMiKE

As you know, one my goals in life is to visit the Disney parks every year. I love to read as much as I can to really plan my time while I'm there, using both the web and various guide books. I recently discovered this amazing site, with hundreds and hundreds of articles written by a former park employee, who now provides professional tours of Walt Disney World. The content is fantastic and exhaustive - I love reading it and finding out tons of details I never knew! You can also pay for the "Automated Vacation Planner" service, which manages your itinerary, tells you when to call for various reservations, and lots more. I'm definitely a fan of TourGuideMiKE!

Visit site: TourGuideMiKE