9.28.2003

Return to Oz : 3 of 5

Not many people know (and I didn't know until recently) that in the 80s Disney bought the rights to make a Wizard of Oz sequel and actually did it! The results are pretty unusual, because in this case Disney kept very close to the original Baum books, while MGM made everything much prettier. This is one bizarre movie, which opens with Dorothy's family in poverty after the tornado, and since everyone thinks Dorothy is crazy, Aunt Em takes her to electroshock therapy (no joke!). She escapes at the last minute and makes it to Oz, where she finds the Yellow Brick Road torn to pieces, the Emerald City in ruins, and everyone is turned to stone. This is like a dark Dorothy meets the Planet of the Apes or something! However, this is really the story as Baum wrote it, and they even go as far duplicating the look of the original book illustrations, so the Cowardly Lion is a real lion, the Tin Man is tall and lanky, and the Scarecrow kind of looks like Ernie from Sesame Street. Overall it's an entertaining movie, but be prepared for weirdness!

Andy Warhol : 4 of 5

I used to visit the Austin Museum of Art often when I was a member, but I hadn't been in quite a while, so I was glad that my pal Eliza invited me to see the latest exhibit of Andy Warhol's work. I've seen quite a bit of Warhol in other museums (nearly every modern art exhibit I've seen has at least one), but it was a treat to see over 80 works at the same time. It's a large exhibit, including lots of the famous soup cans, but moving forward to other series from his later years, and even including some film and other multimedia. I don't really know how his screen printing process worked, but it's amazing to look at the prints up close and see the precision of each layer of color. I especially like the works where multiple layers overlap, but don't exactly line up (it reminds me of the backgrounds in 101 Dalmatians). What a nice way to spend an afternoon!

Tattoos on Girls

Being a drummer, when I play a gig I usually have a great view of the crowd, so I spend most of the show watching pretty gals dance. Sometimes I'll spot a really beautiful girl with a sweet face, only to watch her turn around a reveal a big ugly tattoo on her waist or back. It just makes me cringe! I have nothing against tattoos in general, but a tattoo on a beautiful girl is like spray painting over a Degas. What a waste! Ladies of the world, please let us enjoy the view without having to endure someone else's "artwork". Thank you very much!

183 Flyover

I've always thought the I-35 to 183 exchange was cool - most people call it the "flyover", since it's a single lane that arcs way into the sky and curves around to the next highway, kind of like a roller coaster. When you're at the top and look down, it seems so high! Recently they did some work to make it easier to get on the ramp - now when you enter I-35, you don't have to change lanes to hop on the flyover, which used to be a pain. Now it's all smooth sailing, so I can enjoy my automobile amusement park even more.

Wario Ware, Inc: Mega Microgames / GameBoy Advance : 5 of 5

Wario Ware is without a doubt the best handheld cartridge game I've ever played! I read lots of good reviews, so I bought it sight unseen to keep me busy on my Hawaii flights, and I simply couldn't stop playing it (and I still can't). Each level is composed of lots of "microgames", which usually involve completing a single task in a few seconds, so in the space of a few minutes, you end up playing tons of different games, all with funny graphics, sounds, and cool Nintendo characters (including some classic Nintendo games that everyone will recognize). The creativity here is amazing - some of the games are hilarious (I couldn't stop laughing when I had to keep pressing a button to help a beautiful girl sniff a wad of snot back into her nose!). The animations in between levels are also excellent - I could go on and on about Wario Ware!

Duck Dodgers

It's great that there are so many new cartoons lately! Cartoon Network recently started their Duck Dodgers series, and it's not bad. It's got to be difficult to build an entire show from a single classic six minute cartoon (Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century, one of the best cartoons ever, of course), but so far they're doing fine, although I miss some of the funkier backgrounds from the original. Duck Dodgers isn't on my "don't miss" list, though - for the record, everyone must watch Teen Titans, Samurai Jack, Big O, Family Guy, (and most of the other Adult Swim shows), and Justice League (if they ever start the new season). Watching these shows will bring happiness and joy to all WEBmikey readers!

9.27.2003

Leave a comment

Lately I've been jealous of all the blogs I read with cool commenting systems (such as Takoyaki.org, which has been really active lately!). A long time ago WEBmikey had comments, but that provider shut down, so I've been on the lookout for a new one. Anyway, I'm going to give HaloScan a try - they seem to do just what I want with no work on my part. So feel free to try it out - I'm looking forward to reading stuff from both friends and strangers (I hope)!

9.25.2003

Back from Hawaii

Aloha, everyone! I'm back from Hawaii, and I absolutely loved it! Congratulations to Matt & Kumiko on a spectacular wedding (and thanks for giving me an excuse to go to Hawaii)! The whole day was really touching, and I was so happy to be there. As a bonus, I got to practice a little Japanese, which was a big help since I had an exam the day I got home.

The last morning of the trip was so sad, walking along the beach watching everyone else continuing to have a blast while I would soon be spending eight hours in an airplane. Hawaiian culture is really fun and addictive, so I'm definitely going back in the future!

Hawaii

My first trip to Hawaii (Honolulu on the island of Oahu) was extremely special for many reasons. I went for the wedding of Matt & Kumiko, my great pals in Japan, and the big event was fantastic! I met my pal Dae there also, and we had a such an amazing time eating, drinking, shopping, and enjoying the beach (and congratulations on catching those waves, Dae!). We did lots of tourist stuff, too, like hiking Diamond Head, visiting the USS Arizona memorial, and stuffing ourselves at a luau. The city was celebrating the Aloha Festival, too, so the streets were full of hula dancing and great music - the people are so proud of their culture, and they should be. Everything was so perfect that I was truly sad to leave - I don't think I've ever been so sad to leave a place before (except maybe Disneyland)! I definitely want to go back and explore the other islands someday!

View photos: Hawaii with Dae
View photos: Matt & Kumiko's Wedding

9.17.2003

Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden Vol 3 : 3 of 5

The four episodes on this DVD make up the end of Season One of this series, and do a pretty good job of including several of the elements that made this show so charming to me in the first place. The first episode is a cute date between Mahoro and Suguru, plagued by his hot high school teacher who is always jealous. The second episode takes a huge turn, and focuses on the birth (manufacture) of Mahoro, her warrior training, and remembers Suguru's father and his death. Finally, Mahoro faces her arch enemy in battle, fighting because she decides she loves her life with Suguru and his friends (and has some nice dreams of picnics and such), and eventually triumphs, in a way. So, all danger is averted for the end of Season One! I've read that Season Two is disappointing, especially the horrible ending, so I don't think I'll be in a hurry to watch more.

Ready for Hawaii

Time for another short break in WEBmikey posting, since I'll be spending a few days in Hawaii soon! My pals Matt and Kumiko will be getting married in Honolulu, and I'll be there for the wedding, plus spending time hiking, eating, snorkeling, and lying around on Waikiki Beach. It's my first visit to Hawaii, so even though it's a short trip, I'm really stoked!

A couple of interesting Japan news items: Congratulations, Hanshin Tigers! The Tigers are Osaka's team, and they won the pennant for the first time in many, many years. I saw some great news reports with everyone going nuts in Osaka, even girls crying and saying "This is the best day of my life!" Yakyuu (baseball) fans in Japan are amazing!

I also saw that the Hikari Shinkansen (bullet train) was recently retired. The Hikari was the older series, but still looking sleek and cool - I traveled on this model both times I visited Japan. It's kind of neat I got to ride that kind of train earlier this year - I didn't even know it was going away (to be replaced by a cooler, faster model, of course!).

9.16.2003

Sleeping Beauty : 5 of 5

I always get really excited about a "first time on DVD" release, since I plan on owning all of the Disney animated classics on DVD. I'm so glad that they've released Sleeping Beauty with the respect it deserves in this fantastic two DVD set! I'm not sure if I ever saw the entire film as a child, but now I can fully appreciate it as an adult Disney fan - the incredibly detailed background paintings, the unique "living storybook" style, the 70mm widescreen format, the great use of the Tchaikovsky ballet music, and all of the excitement and characterization make this a spectacular achievement. The bonus features are spectacular, too, with lots of discussion of the film's development and the animators' talent. Also included are TV segments that were used to promote the film, and even the Grand Canyon 30-minute short, which was released with the film in theaters! I had a wonderful time enjoying this masterpiece.

9.15.2003

Bringing Down the House : 2 of 5

I think I put this movie in my Netflix queue back during it's theatrical release, just because I like Steve Martin and my parents thought it was a funny film. I can say with certainty that I've seen many worse films, but on the other hand, I've seen a million better ones. Steve is still a funny guy, but this material just isn't good enough for him to work with - he's so much better than the "white guy adopts black mannerisms" schitck. Eugene Levy is so much funnier than the role he plays here, and even though Latifah is likable, I would much rather see her singing (like in Chicago). I know this is just supposed to be a fun story, but the plot is so unbelievable that I ended up shaking my head more than laughing. Still, at least I did laugh a little, so it wasn't completely bad (just mostly).

9.14.2003

Alice in Wonderland : 3 of 5

Since I recently watched Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland again, I though it would be fun to watch this live action version, made for the Hallmark Channel (which I missed when it was originally broadcast, so I'm glad that put it on DVD!). I've also read the Lewis Carroll book, so I can say that this version follows the book much more closely than Disney - it's fun to see lots of different scenes that weren't animated (such as the Duchess and her pig baby, and the fantastic Griffon and the Mock Turtle). I wasn't too thrilled with the girl playing Alice (I just can't deal with a brunette in the role), but the other characters are cast well - Martin Short was born to play the Mad Hatter (and the effects that make his head look larger are fantastic!). I'd still rather see Disney's version, but this was a lot of fun to watch!

Safari bookmarks rule!

Recently I re-organized all of my browser bookmarks (and let me tell you, that can be quite a job when you have hundreds of Disney sites that need to be categorized into parks, attractions, animation, history, and so on!), so I thought I'd mention that Safari has the most kick-ass bookmark manager on the planet. I never would have survived trying to organize these using Internet Explorer or Netscape!

I'm still totally into each new episode of Teen Titans - the other day I was watching the awesome opening animation and was excited to hear the great theme song (by Puffy AmiYumi) in Japanese! Wow, this show is so anime, it's incredible! (I think they may be switching between English and Japanese theme songs every other episode or so.) Oh, and Starfire may be my new girlfriend - she's so cute!

My first "real" Japanese exam is tomorrow! I've been though my flash cards quite a few times (I'm using a great flash card program on my iBook, which has been a big study help), so I think I'm ready. Wish me luck!

9.11.2003

Relaxing with Aurora

Hello, minasan (everyone)! It's so nice to have some free time from my schedule of work (which is especially busy right now), Nihongo no kurasu (Japanese class), and rehearsing with the Heroes. I just had a nice glass of wine and read a few chapters of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (which is an interesting book, by the way), and now I'm going to watch the bonus material on the Sleeping Beauty DVD (super cool) and smoke my pipe. Ahhhhh.

Lately I've been listening to classical music in my car (KMFA, of course), since it helps me relax when I'm feeling a little stressed. It's amazing how it affects my driving - I'm much more inclined to burn up the highway when I listen to my usual bubblegum pop, but I barely even hit the speed limit listening to Mozart.

I'm still working my way through the Disney animated features, so I watched The Aristocats a few days ago. Not a bad film, just not really heartwarming - however, I never noticed how great the backgrounds are until this viewing. The amount of detail is really astounding, with just a touch of that 101 Dalmatians "color outside the lines" feel.

Yuko took a week off from my daily NHK news (I'm glad she's back now!) - I wonder how she styled her hair during her vacation?

9.07.2003

The Parent Trap : 3 of 5

Since I watched the Hayley Mills original film a few months ago, I put this remake in my Netflix queue to see how they compare. I was amazed to see that Lindsay Lohan, the girl from the recent Freaky Friday, played the Hayley Mills double-role in this several years ago - she's much younger, but still a great actress! I was also surprised at how close the plot of the remake is to the original - I expected there to be much more updating, but they essentially duplicated the story almost scene by scene (with only a few plot additions and some changes in location). Most of the tenderness remains, making this a great movie and a nice homage to the original (they even included a tidbit of Let's Get Together, one of the original's songs). Fun and touching movies like this really make my day!

9.06.2003

Stitch! The Movie : 2 of 5

I was pretty leary of the previews I had seen for this DVD sequel (or "cheapquel", as lots of folks call them on the web), so I rented it instead of buying it. Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it certainly isn't anything I need to have in my collection. The animation is pretty OK, and the backgrounds are great, since they kept the watercolor feel of the original. The character interaction is good - it's interesting to see how Lilo and Nani manage to live with Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley (looks like they have some how attached one of the crashed spaceships onto the house with an elevator for Stitch's room!). The whole plot is very much a big lead-in for the upcoming TV series, but it was still fun to watch and have a laugh (mainly at Pleakley dressing up in Nani's clothes all the time!).

A sad night

Yesterday there was an accident on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland that resulted in a death and several other injuries. I was completely shocked and saddened when I heard the news (first at work, then from my parents, and then from my pal Jonathan). It's a tragedy for all the families involved, and on a personal note, it's so sad to me when reality infringes on fantasy. Disneyland holds a special place in my heart, so the thought of anything bad happening there is just beyond terrible. Last night I was glued to all of the Disney websites that I read regularly, looking for updates or details. It's especially strange for me because I rode Big Thunder with Dad only 15 days before the accident - I've also ridden the same ride at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, and I've always enjoyed it. I hope the cause of the accident can be found and repaired so it will never happen again.

I decided to get out and cheer myself up this morning, so I went to see the latest IMAX movie, Texas: The Big Picture. I always love IMAX movies, and this one was really good - it's amazing how everyday things I see all the time suddenly become so beautiful on that giant screen. Everything in the movie was inspiring, and really made me think about all the wonder there is in the world (not just Texas) and feel good about it.

Next I went to the Disney Store to pre-order Finding Nemo - I've been the master of money-saving offers lately! Every time they have a pre-order offer, they give you a $10 gift card if you spend $50. I've been using $20 cards from my Disney Visa to pay for the $50, so after I receive the $10 card, it's like I'm only spending $20! Cool!

9.05.2003

Love Hina Vol 1 : 4 of 5

I was pretty excited to start watching this series, since I'm constantly seeing stuff on the web from excited fans of the show. For some reason, Netflix carried Volume 3 for months before getting the first two DVDs, so being able to watch the start of the series was great (I actually watched Volume 3 some time ago, and everything makes much more sense!). The general premise is the usual "geeky guy surrounded by beautiful girls" scenario that's so popular in soap opera type anime (which I love), but with the added twist that the guy is the manager of the apartments all the girls live in. There's also a touching backstory about his childhood promise to a girl to meet her at Tokyo University someday, so he's struggling to study to get into school (and, you guessed it, the girl he's looking for is living right there in the apartments). Everyone is cute and funny, and so far the show is a downright joy to watch.

9.04.2003

Burn Up W Vol 1 : 2 of 5

I don't really remember putting this DVD in my Netflix queue, but it was a fairly decent anime to watch. I don't think I'll continue with the series, though, because it had some pretty bloody violence that was just a little too gross for me! The plot is about an elite group of the police force called the Warriors, composed mainly of cute girls (of course) with advanced weapons. The bad guys are some folks with a "virtual drug" that involves lots of mind control and slaughtering of innocents (the yucky part!). Thankfully, there's lots of comedy relief here, especially when Rio, who is always broke on her public servant's salary, tries to sell her underwear to a perverts shop - totally hilarious! Still, I don't think it's good enough for me to keep track of when I have so many more series I'm working on!

9.03.2003

Princess Nine Vol 3 : 3 of 5

At last, the Kisaragi Girls High School finally has a complete team, now that Izumi has quit tennis and started playing baseball. The team really gets down to practicing this time, focusing on poor Mao, the catcher with no confidence, who finally succeeds after facing one hundred fast balls from Ryo! There's a lot more hinting about Ryo's late father, but no one's really talking - all we know is he was an amazing professional player until the "incident" (how ominous!). Finally, the girls take on a top boys team for the right to enter their girls team in the tournament, and it's a really funny game as the girls turn on the charm to distract the boys. But, the boys wise up in the 6th inning, and things are looking rough! Time for the next DVD! Hayaku!

9.02.2003

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle : 2 of 5

This DVD was my first experience with this series of thumb movies, featuring tiny sets and costumes on real human thumbs, with actual mouths and eyes digitally rendered on them. The effect is super weird, but kind of fun. Thumb Wars is a great spoof of Star Wars Episode IV (even though it's called The Phantom Cuticle, it has nothing to do with Episode I), with a few extras from Episode V thrown in (like Yoda, who keeps talking about being a puppet). There are some cool effects in this quick 30 minute show, but the wacky jokes are what keeps it going - the weird Jedi bit about "touch your tongue to mine" and especially Vader revealing himself to be Luke's mother, complete with pink dress! It's definitely not a comedy masterpiece, but it's a ton of fun for any Star Wars geek.

9.01.2003

Danny the Champion of the World / Roald Dahl : 3 of 5

I read my latest Roald Dahl book entirely in the Los Angeles airport, waiting for my flight home from Disneyland. The story is really engaging and touching, though very different from the other Dahl books I've read so far, but it was a wonderful way to pass the time. Danny is a little boy who lives with his father - they're very poor, but his dad is so fascinating and special that they are very happy together. The plot involves a crazy scheme to poach over hundred pheasants from a mean rich guy, and the adventure is brilliantly written from Danny's point of view, making it frightening and exciting at the same time. There's no magic or bizarre caricatures here - just characters with depth and emotion that are easy to love. Among this wild plot is a powerful message about what makes life wonderful!

Kimba Vol 1 : 3 of 5

After visiting the Osamu Tezuka museum in Japan, I thought it would be fun to watch some old anime by Tezuka's studio. Kimba was produced in the 60s, so it's definitely sub-Speed Racer in quality, but pretty entertaining. I was also really interested in comparing the story and characters to Disney's The Lion King, because I've read about lots of similarities - I can definitely see what they mean, too! There's a baboon kind of like Rafiki, the villain is called Claw (instead of Scar) and his cronies are hyena, and there's even scenes where Kimba looks into the night sky to ask for his late father's advice. The story itself is much different, and includes much more interaction with humans (Kimba even travels to Paris in one episode!). The theme song is cool, too - I'll be humming it for days!

Jonathan & Lisa's Commitment Ceremony

My good pals Jonathan & Lisa hold a special ceremony to publicly commit to each other (but whatever you do, don't call it a wedding!), and everyone enjoys the food, fun, and music.

View photos: Commitment Ceremony 2003

Ultimate Disney

Even though this site is solely devoted to the release of Disney films on DVD, they manage to come up with news and images almost daily! They have fantastic lists of every Disney film, both animated and live action, and when it was released or will be released, so I can stay up to date on what to buy next. Somehow they are able to get cover art way before things come out, which is fun to see and get excited about. It's just an amazing amount of information on what would seem to be a limited subject. I use their animated feature checklist all the time as a cycle through watching the Disney DVDs I own in chronological order, too!

Visit site: Ultimate Disney

Animated Movies

This site is definitely on my daily reading list, covering just about all the latest news I'm interested in regarding animation, including Disney theatrical and DVD releases, as well as everything else from Cartoon Network to Warner Bros. and even independent films. There's always lots of articles to read every day, usually with links to other cool sites of related information. They also have a separate page devoted to each major animated film, with tons of trivia and production information, and images, too! They do a great job of posting box office figures for animated releases also, which is pretty fun to keep up with.

Visit site: Animated Movies

Alice in Wonderland

Once again, I have to praise a Disney classic I re-watched recently! Alice in Wonderland is such a creative, visually rich movie, and it amazes me each time I see it. Walt was disappointed in the film, since it generally moves from gag to gag without really developing Alice's character, but I'm really fond of Alice, mainly because of her cute English accent by Kathryn Beaumont (who was also Wendy in Peter Pan). The songs are great, too - even the short ones! They have neat rhymes like "trousers" with "houses" and are fun to sing. I think the movie is genius!

I always love getting my search report from Atomz, who provides the cool WEBmikey search feature for free. (You should try the search - even I enjoy finding stuff on my site!) This week was a great one, because the things being searched for show that WEBmikey is getting out there for lots of obscure subjects, which is cool! In one week, people searched WEBmikey for DDR MP3s (Dance Dance Revolution), Videos from Boa (J-pop artist), Ridemax (Disneyland planning software), Yaddle (Jedi Master), and Kyoto. That's what I call success!

Peter Pan: Return to Never Land / GameBoy Advance : 3 of 5

I've really been enjoying my GameBoy Advance, and I think it's great there are so many Disney oriented games available, usually at good prices! This game was tied to the Return to Never Land sequel, but it has all the charm of the original characters. I'm not very good at the usual horizontal scrolling, run and jump game, but I'm making my way through this one OK (though I'm a little stuck at the third level). Everything I've read talks about how easy the game is, but it's just right for me! There are ways to unlock actual movie scenes that play surprisingly well on the GameBoy screen, but I really wish the game could be saved without using silly passwords. Hopefully I'll get the hang of making Peter do his thing and Hook will meet his match!