I don't care if you make fun of me

I recently watched the final bonus Special Act episode of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, thanks to the amazing efforts of TV-Nihon! This hour-long episode was only released on DVD, and tells the story of everyone four years after the original series. The big event is the wedding of Usagi (Sailor Moon) and Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask), but of course there's a big fight with the Dark Kingdom first. Mio (the bizarre cute gal you love to hate) wants to take over the world and steal Mamoru, so the sailor soldiers have to get back together for one last battle. It was cool to see what the girls were doing - Ami (Sailor Mercury) is a doctor in America, Minako (Sailor Venus) is doing concerts in Europe, and so on. I was sad that Rei (Sailor Mars) didn't get to transform with everyone, since she was wounded early on, but the big fight was cool anyway. The wedding at the end was awesome, and I cried like a girlie, but the best part was when Motoki (the turtle otaku) proposed to Makoto (Sailor Jupiter) and she accepted! Hurray for the geek getting the girl!

Thank goodness my Flickr self-portrait series is now complete! Tomorrow I'll begin the new year with a PEZ camera photo series, and maybe I'll recap 2004 for you, too.


Adventure Thru Inner Space Virtual Ride-Thru : 5 of 5

A long time ago I discovered Atommobiles.com, a fantastic tribute site to one of my favorite extinct Disneyland attractions, and I've been visiting it every now and then to check on the progress of an incredible task: re-creating the entire ride in detailed CGI animation! This amazing job was recently completed after two years of work, and the finished result is now available on DVD. Of course, I ordered a copy right away, and the experience is spectacular! Steve Wesson went all out to make this as accurate as possible, from the complete entrance and exit lobby down to the warning labels on the ride vehicles. I think I only rode the actual ride a few times on some of my first visits to Disneyland, but everything is exactly as I remember it. The DVD contains the complete ride-through in both rider perspective and "floating camera" views, and also other bonus material. This is definitely a professional looking product that every Disneyland fan should own. If you've ever traveled through the Mighty Microscope in the past, get a copy of this DVD at Atommobiles.com to relive the journey again!


A little more Christmas

Getting back to normal life after a wonderful Christmas isn't easy. I have to make myself do things again after relaxing for over a week, not to mention switching from Mom's terrific meals back to ramen noodles! Before I forget to mention it, did everyone notice how many remakes of Dickens' A Christmas Carol there were this year? There were tons of them on the Hallmark Channel, including one with William Shatner and Gary Coleman as two of the ghosts! My family and I had more fun watching our old home movies - I always enjoy seeing my young parents opening gifts, and then seeing all of my toys (that would be worth a fortune on eBay if I had them now!). I can always relive my Christmas fun through photos, so here are my memories of this fun holiday.

View photos: Christmas 2004 Family
View photos: Christmas 2004 Decorations
View photos: Christmas 2004 Food


Metropolis / Osamu Tezuka : 4 of 5

I made sure to keep this Christmas gift handy for my trip home from Oklahoma City, and I ended up reading the whole thing in the Dallas airport and on my second flight. This is one of Tezuka's earlier works from 1949, before Astro Boy, so I was really interested in it. I was pretty surprised to find characters from Astro in the story - Mustachio and Kenichi are both here and play a major part in the plot! I watched the anime movie of this book quite a long time ago, but now that I've read the original I don't see much resemblance at all. The main character of the story is fascinating: an artificial being named Michi who is neither male nor female (when other characters talk about him, they switch between feminine and masculine pronouns even in the same sentence). As in most Astro stories, the themes are man's use of technology, the rights of robots and man-made life, and the possible dangers involved. There's not as much futuristic city views as I would like, but the crowd scenes are truly amazing works of art! There's a nice discussion of the story at the end by Tezkua himself, making a nice ending to a great book.


Christmas weekend

Yesterday was a fantastic Christmas! Santa was extremely generous this year, and now I have so many DVDs to watch that I need another vacation. I think if you add up all the DVD content it would be well over 100 hours! Dad and I got a good start by watching eleven Road Runner cartoons in a row, then we all drank egg nog and watched the awesome Walt Disney World parade. Christmas dinner was amazing, too!

Today Mom and I did some 50%-off Christmas shopping, and tonight we went to a candlelight silent communion service. The church was filled with candlelight, and the entire service was without speech - only organ music. I had never been to a service done this way before, and it was really special.


Almost Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve! Today I ate an insane amount of macaroni and cheese, my parents opened all of their gifts, and we watched A Christmas Story and laughed at Ralphie's adventures like we do every year. Earlier in the day, Dad and I watched a bunch of the old Mickey Mouse Club episodes on DVD - Dad was excited to see some segments with the old TWA Constellation, which is the type of plane he spent more than 12,000 hours on in the Air Force! Tomorrow is Christmas, so WEBmikey may be taking a day off. Have a wonderful holiday, and don't forget to watch the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade!


The Art of the Incredibles : 4 of 5

I finished my first Christmas book today (which I opened a few days ago), which is my first Pixar art book to add to my collection of Disney art books. I knew this book would be beautiful, and indeed it is, filled to the brim with amazing (see, I didn't say "incredible") pre-production drawings, paintings, and digital artwork. Several pages include comments from the director and many artists, but the pictures themselves speak the loudest! They are all reproduced in spectacular color, many of them full page (including an awesome four-page fold-out of the color script - I would love to have it on my wall!). One of my favorite sections includes close-ups of some of the memorabilia from Mr. Incredible's wall, and I especially enjoyed the many collages also (which look like a cross between Mary Blair and Matisse). Unfortunately, there are no real production stills - I usually complain when art books include too many of those, but I wish this one had a few, mainly so I could stare at the details with my jaw on the floor. As usual, when I experience books like these I wish I had a career in creative entertainment, but I can stay content idolizing these brilliant artists instead.

Meet the Fockers : 2 of 5

Whenever my parents and I are together, if there's a silly comedy in the theater, we'll see it. I think I saw Meet the Parents with my parents a few years ago, and as expected, this sequel just doesn't live up to the hilarity of the original. Still, it definitely has its funny moments, and it was certainly a fun way to spend a holiday afternoon! I'm sure you know the plot from the trailer or TV commercials - Ben Stiller and his fiancee travel with the crazy parents from the first film to meet Ben's crazier parents, the Fockers (and yes, they take every opportunity to milk the name, including the DJ at a party saying "Dance, you Fockers!"). There's plenty of added jokes to fill in when the families just aren't enough, including a cute little humping dog (how do you train a dog to hump a Albert Einstein puppet?) and a cute grandson who uses hand signals to say he wants milk whenever boobs pass by. Every now and then some series of events would seem totally frivolous, but I guess the truly funny sequences were spaced out well enough to keep you looking for the next big gag. I prefer my comedies with a little more heart, but it was worth seeing just to listen to Mom laugh anyway!



Today was an ultra-holiday day! We had a little bit of snow and slick roads this morning, so Dad and I both stayed in our pajamas all day long and put together a puzzle (last night's gift from me). It's a panoramic shot of Times Square, which I picked out because the photo includes the hotel we stayed in during our vacation there a while back. It's over three feet wide, and it took us over six hours to put all 750 pieces together, but it was a lot of fun!


C is for cookie

I've been doing lots of Christmas eating (which means lots of New Years dieting), and cookies are a big part of the goodies. Over the years, Mom has standardized on a set of must-eat cookies for each holiday season! See if your family bakes any of these:

  • Butterballs: Little balls of dough coated in powdered sugar, small enough that you can eat a few every time you walk into the kitchen!
  • Blossoms: Peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's Kiss in the middle - I always eat around the kiss to save it for last.
  • Cut-outs: The usual cookie-cutter shapes (bells, stars, Santas, bears, and trees) with icing and sprinkles - Mom uses red and green icing.
  • Pecan tarts: Tiny little pecan pies with little crusts, filling, and a pecan on top - it's like eating a whole pie in one bite!
  • Spanglish : 4 of 5

    I couldn't talk my parents into seeing The Incredibles, so we went to see this Adam Sandler comedy-drama instead. The story is about a Mexican woman and her daughter who becomes the maid of a chef and his neurotic wife, and Adam's character is similar in many ways to his character in Punch Drunk Love (without all the surrealist symbolism), since he's a nice guy who often gets walked on. The maid (who is completely beautiful, of course) speaks no English at first, so she struggles to understand this strange family. The wife is so bitchy and needy that it's difficult to have any positive feelings for her at all, but I guess that helps you understand Adam's character. Eventually a kind of love story develops, which is wisely (and beautifully) unrequited - it's nice to see such tender moments without them devolving into simple lust. The story is mostly told through the eyes of the maid's daughter, who is played by a fantastic young actress - the scene where she translates for her angry mother is fantastic! Even though Spanglish didn't get me to the tear point, I have to round up my rating to a four, because it's really a well-made, compelling story.


    Still Christmasing

    My family and I are still enjoying some holiday fun together, opening gifts, doing some shopping, and eating wonderful food! So far I've opened a great book and some nice clothes, and I'm enjoying a nice pipe each evening (I hadn't smoked in several weeks since I had a cold, so it's especially relaxing!). My pal Matt asked to see some photos of Mom's decorations, so I took a few with my camera phone. I'll have more pictures with my real camera after Christmas, but here's a taste of Christmas Central for now! Mom gets more decorations every year - in fact, my first iMovie project was a little documentary of all the decorations a couple years ago. I love the way everything looks!

    View photos: Christmas Central

    Flight of the Phoenix : 3 of 5

    My parents and I always see a few movies during the holidays, so today we saw this pretty exciting film. I didn't know until today that it's a remake of an old Jimmy Stewart movie, so I can't really compare the two, but this version was definitely an enjoyable story. The plot is about a plane crash in the middle of the Gobi desert, and they only hope the passengers have of surviving is to use parts of their plane to construct an entirely new aircraft! It was fun to see this with Dad, since he's actually flown on the same type of plane back in ROTC. I thought the actors did a fine job, and it was neat to see the beautiful actress who played Eowyn in Lord of the Rings in another role. There were definitely some problems, though - I thought the soundtrack didn't fit well in several places (especially during a dramatic death scene, where the music was better suited to an X-Games broadcast!), and the end definitely felt like it was really cut short. But, it was still a good movie and a great way to spend some family time at the theater!


    Christmas fun begins

    Hello from Christmas Central! Yesterday I spent two hours wrapping my parents' Christmas gifts, and later that night we each opened a few things - my family's tradition is opening a gift or two each every night, then on Christmas Eve my parents open all the rest of their gifts, and on Christmas Day I dig into Santa's treasure for me. We all played a couple games of Scene It, a DVD-based game of movie trivia (one of my gifts to Dad), and had a great time screaming out trivia answers at the TV. One my favorite parts of the evening was cracking open a bottle of 15 year old Glenfiddich (Dad splurged and bought the Solera Reserve this year!). I quickly poured a triple and started feeling the Christmas spirit right away!

    By the way, sorry for the missed post yesterday. Dad's router recently bit the dust, so we bought him a new one and got it configured today, so I'm back on track!


    Staying creative

    Here's the last "old school" WEBmikey icon - this time for the Creativity section. I used this section to post lots of my poetry, song lyrics, and even a couple college papers that I thought were worth reading. Now all of this stuff is scattered throughout WEBmikey based on the date I wrote it (very rough estimates!). I'm proud of some of my creative works, but I haven't written too much in that style lately. Someday soon I know I'll be inspired again, though!

    Speaking of being creative, you may have noticed that my Flickr pics have all been of myself lately! Since last month was my "mundane objects" series, this month I'm trying to do a self-portrait everyday. Don't worry, it will be over soon! Next month I'm planning a PEZ series!

    One more note - I'm heading to Christmas Paradise (which means my parents' house in Oklahoma City) soon, but I'm planning on continuing my daily WEBmikey posting throughout the holiday! Merry Christmas!


    Colorful : 3 of 5

    A saw an interesting review of this obscure anime DVD (otherwise, I might not have heard of it at all), so I had to rent it to see it for myself. Colorful is a collection of 50 super-short stories (smashed into under two hours) that all have the same subject - guys drooling over girls. It definitely gets repetitive and goofy (especially hearing the theme song every six minutes!), but it was funny enough to keep me interested and laughing! Each segment is in a different style of animation, so there's a lot of visual variety. There are some running gags, such as the coach who likes looking at his young track-star student, the American videographer who specializes in up-skirt shots in "exotic Japan", and the two pals who help each other "sneak a peak" in their various jobs. Nothing is ever really shown, of course - just lots of guys screaming with their eyes popped out, finishing with a nosebleed. It's pretty entertaining really, if you're a guy who can relate even just a little bit. Don't expect anything life-changing here, unless you're looking for new clever ways to catch a glimpse of underwear!


    Love Actually : 5 of 5

    I've had this DVD rented for a long time, since my parents enjoyed this movie so much last year, but I didn't get around to watching it until recently. I'm glad I waited, because this is kind of a Christmas movie, with all the events taking place the week before Christmas! The plot is a collection of about ten stories of folks in London, all slightly connected (brothers and sisters, work mates, and so on) but each one stands alone. I absolutely loved it, because the whole movie truly celebrates love - not just the perfect fairy tale, but even the rejected, the forbidden, and unexpected love. There are stories about losing love through death, falling in love with a best friend's spouse, having the courage to express love, and finding love even when it's "inconvenient". There are plenty of funny moments, and the pacing is so good that by the time all of the stories were coming to their simultaneous conclusion, I was on the edge of my seat! What I enjoyed so much was that no matter how each story ended, love was there, and it was good, and people were transformed. It's a wonderful film with a wonderful message!


    The gift of silly video

    This weekend I hosted a little Christmas gathering to present my pals with this year's video project! Last year I used iMovie to put together a video of all the events of 2003, using tons of photos and video that I had shot during the year, then burned everyone a copy using iDVD. It was a big hit, so I wanted to do it again this year with everything I shot in 2004. However, I went a little insane and decided to use all of the material to make 12 goofy fake TV commercials! Everyone laughed like crazy, so I'm glad it was as much fun as last year. (To my far away friends, your copy is in the mail!) I've learned so much about editing in the process - it's very cool! I'm definitely getting a faster computer before next year's project, though. Anyway, it was a wonderful evening - I'm so thankful that I have such great friends!

    View photos: Christmas Gathering 2004


    Finding Neverland : 5 of 5

    Ah, what a fantastic cry! Finding Neverland is based on the life of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and since that story holds such a special place in my heart, I knew the movie would be amazing. Not only is the subject matter fascinating, but with the main roles played by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, this movie was practically made for me. It was released in late November, but just recently came to Austin, so I saw it the first chance I could. The film opens with Barrie's previous play, which is a terrible flop, and then follows the events in his life which lead him to right Peter Pan. He's definitely a complex character (which Depp does so well), struggling with a failed marriage and looking for escape, which he finds in Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her four sons, whom he meets in the park. By spending time with the boys and playing with them, the events of Peter Pan begin to take shape. Of course, there is sadness, too, mostly involving Sylvia's disease, which causes her to miss opening night of the play. But in the longest tear-jerking moment I can remember, Barrie brings the play to the Davies' house so they can all watch what they inspired as a family. Of course, many details have been changed from the actual events, but I don't care - I've just enjoyed a wonderful film that helped me see the wonder of life!


    The mighty Merchants return

    Last night was an incredible trip on the swing time machine! The Merchants of Venus, Austin's definitive swing band of the 90s, played a special reunion show last night at the Carousel Lounge. Back in those days I was busy with The Day Jobs, so I actually only saw the band in their heyday a few times, which made last night a real treat. Ernesto (and keyboardist Rob) learned 30 songs in just a few days to fill in for "missing Merchants" - the horn section was fantastic! George was great, singing his way through the crowd with his wireless mic, Merrideth was solid as a rock, and Wayne was dynamite on the drums (I had a particularly good time watching his technique). The place was packed with dancers and devoted fans, and Stella was there to shake everyone up (especially when she danced on the bar!). It really was a fun show, and made me realize again what a great band they are. I'm looking forward to another reunion when Ian can join them on guitar!

    View photos: Merchants of Venus Reunion


    My day so far

    For once, I really don't have a topic to write about, so I'll default to what I've done today so far! I've been fighting off a cold this week, so I got tons of sleep last night and I'm feeling 95% well today. So, after getting up and getting dressed, I started the usual laundry and computer sync-up routine, drank some coffee, and talked to my parents on the phone (we're getting excited about being together for Christmas!). Then I went out to run errands - got some blank DVDs, some other Christmas doo-dads, and made a grocery story run for some snacks for a little Christmas gathering tomorrow night. I came home, paid bills, burned some DVDs, watched Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (and if they say "Let's [insert verb]... Puffy style!" one more time I'm going to scream!), and that's about where I am now. Tonight is the unbelievably rare Merchants of Venus reunion show (including Ernesto), so I'll tell you about that tomorrow!


    Astro Boy Vol 19 : 4 of 5

    After several volumes in a row with lots of short stories, this book is essentially one huge novel-length adventure! The story is called Blue Knight, and in the Cartoon Tezuka introduction he explains that it was written when his editor forced him to make Astro more "mean" (more smashing and so on). Of course, his popularity dropped after the change, but it's interesting to read this story and see how it was done! I've seen a version of this tale on the new animated series, but the book version is better, I think. Blue Knight is a mysterious robot (on a robot horse) who fights humanity because he wants robots to form a sovereign nation. When Astro's parents are taken away (because they are thought to be "bad" robots), Astro joins Blue Knight in order to save them! Even Uran and Cobalt get in on the action. One book isn't enough - this story is continued in the next volume! After Dr. Ochanomizu gets Tenma to help repair Astro (after a big battle), Astro gets really mean, punches up everything, and flies away! I hope the next volume is one long story, too, and that Astro comes to his senses at the end!


    Chobits Vol 7 : 3 of 5

    Just as I heard, this last DVD of the series contains three flashback episodes, so there's not much new here to see. However, the flashbacks are presented nicely, as parts of three "chats". First, Sumomo and her master talk about Hideki, then Kokubunji and his persocom talk about Chi, and finally the landlady talks to Kotoko (the other mini-persocom) to recap the ending of the series. The best part about this final episode is that it includes a touching moment at the end featuring the entire cast of the series. These episodes were clearly designed to divide the series into three parts - I don't know why they decided to stick them all on one DVD at the end! The best part of this disc is one of the bonus features - there's a little five minute episode called Chibits, focusing on Sumomo and Kotoko, on an emergency mission to deliver panties to Chi! The two mini-persocoms are so funny since they are complete opposites, and this little story is almost a parody of the whole series. I'm going to miss watching Chobits, but it sure was wonderful while it lasted!


    Favorite Christmas TV

    Thanks for giving me tonight's topic, Matt! I love to watch Christmas movies and TV specials, and I'm sure many of my favorites are the same as tons of other people. So, in no particular order, here we go!

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: Not only does Linus do the best Bible reading I've ever heard, but I even memorized Hark the Herald Angels Sing just because the Peanuts gang sings it around Charlie's tree. Just watched it this week!
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas: No, not the terrible Jim Carrey fiasco - the original Chuck Jones animation with Boris Karloff's fantastic narration! Fah who for-aze!
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Truly wonderful stop-motion animation, the Abominable Snowman, and the Island of Misfit Toys! What more could you want? OK, throw in a cute little doe named Clarice!
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town: Not the best Rankin/Bass special, but I know all the songs, and I like to say "Bergermeister Meister Burger".
  • The Year Without a Santa Claus: I'm only listing this one because I've got to hear the Snow-Miser/Heat-Miser song every year! Just watched it last week!
  • It's a Wonderful Life: No question about it - one of my favorite movies ever! Pass the kleenex!
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: You can start watching this one on Halloween and then watch it again on Christmas. I love the story, the music, and Christmas Town looks like so much fun!
  • The Santa Clause: I know, it's not really a classic, but it is a great story (and I always cry over the weenie-whistle).
  • Walt Disney World Christmas Parade: Disney has televised this on Christmas morning for the past several years, and I always make sure to rip all my presents open in time to watch it! It's the perfect thing to see while drinking coffee and digging into a stocking full of candy!
  • 12.07.2004

    Elf : 4 of 5

    I didn't get to see this Christmas movie last year, so I made sure to rent the DVD so I could watch it this year! This funny film definitely blows away this year's competition - sure, it's goofy, but it really has a healthly dose of Christmas spirit. Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human raised by Santa's elves, who travels to New York City to find his real dad. The scenes at the North Pole are terrific, because they went with the classic look from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Buddy has a chat with the snowman, recreated with stop-motion animation, and even the snow flakes look just like the TV special!). Of course, there's lots of funny scenes in the big city, like confronting a department store Santa, and plenty of touching moments, too, especially when Buddy has a date with a cute "elf" employee. The big finale in Central Park is cool and exciting - I thought the special effects for Santa's sleigh and reindeer were spectacular (especially the details like the reindeer's breath in the cold air), and the Central Park Rangers were a good gag (they looked like they rode out of a Samurai movie). I really had a nice Christmasy evening watching this great movie!

    More like last 500

    Continuing with my old WEBmikey design icons, here's the icon for Last 5, which was the section containing all of my reviews. I thought it would be cool if I could always look at a page and see what I thought of the most recent five DVDs, movies, CDs, and so on, that I had experienced, and once I started reviewing things, I couldn't stop. It's totally habitual now, and even though I don't bother to go in-depth into anything, I like having a record of my first impressions around (I can even see how my attitude toward some Disney movies has changed since I started this site!). The starfish has five legs, so I thought it fit nicely. If Blogger ever supports true categorization I would love to put my reviews into searchable sections, but posting them as regular entries means more people notice them (since they were kind of buried on the old site).


    Chobits Vol 6 : 4 of 5

    Even though this isn't the last DVD in the series, this volume definitely completely wraps up the storyline. First, the Yumi mystery is fully explained, and after she finds a way to deal with comparing herself to persocoms, she's able to start again with the baker (so his character ties up two stories at once!). Kokubunji (I love saying his name) helps Hideki research just what Chi is, along with the weird guy who kidnapped Chi in the last DVD. During their research, we learn about his feelings for his own persocom Yuzuki (whom he made to replace his dead sister). Finally we get the full story, including who the landlady really is, and even who the bizarre guy and gal in black suits are who are monitoring Chi. Each storyline of this series leads to a touching exploration of love - what it means to be happy, what it means to be human. When Chi finally tells Hideki she loves him (and waits for his answer), it's certainly an emotional moment unlike any other! Her non-humanity, which represents the "faults" in all of us, is what makes it beautiful and gives this whole series such a hopeful message (in a crazy anime, techno-weird style, of course). I've heard the next volume is all flashbacks, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it anyway!


    Christmas fun

    My Christmas level is rising nicely! Last night I went out with my pals to see the Mr. Sinus Christmas Variety Show, where Austin's own Sinus comics do their hilarious best with some of the worst Christmas specials and movies ever made. It was a lot of fun, and afterwards Ernesto, Jonathan and I walked around downtown - Jonathan was posting flyers for a gig and I enjoyed the city Christmas decorations! I've been watching lots of Christmas stuff on TiVo, too - I got to sing along with Snow Miser and Heat Miser today, and that's just the beginning. I really enjoyed the new musical Christmas Carol that was on recently, too (with songs by Alan Menken, top Disney composer). It's just that time of year!

    Here's a few new must-click links for you!
  • My pal Matt is selling his awesome photography at Moon Station Echo. You will buy some!
  • My pal Barron sells his amazing photos at Barron Fujimoto Photography. You will buy some there, too!
  • Disney-Vacations-Magic.com, a Disney travel information site, published my latest Walt Disney World report!
  • 12.04.2004

    Jesus Christ Superstar : 3 of 5

    Since I really enjoyed this new production of the show that I recently saw here in Austin, my pal Melinda loaned me the DVD presentation. It's fun to watch a Broadway show specifically filmed for DVD, since they can get all kinds of camera angles that would be impossible on stage, plus set designs that allow the "fourth wall" to be literally anywhere (including the ceiling for crane shots!). However, I actually enjoyed the cast I saw live much more than this cast (with the exception of Mary Magdalene, who is excellent on the DVD). Judas is just too British for me (his accent sounds too heavy for the role), and Jesus looks too much like Roger Daltry from the Who! His square jaw bugged me the whole time, and his falsetto is just a little too pure for my taste. Also, Pilate was guilty of tremendous over-acting, even by Broadway standards! Still, the music is well done (although this production has some unusually slow tempos) and the production quality is great, of course. There's a little documentary on the DVD, too, with some interesting interview snippets with Tim Rice, who wrote such amazing lyrics for the show (OK, Weber did a good job on the music, too). It was nice to see the show again, and as I said before, I wish more productions were available in this format!


    Christmas with the Kranks : 3 of 5

    Why are there so few new Christmas movies this year? Oh well, at least it's another holiday with Tim Allen. The Santa Clause movies are much better than this year's effort, but I still enjoyed the Kranks. It's fun to see the semi-militant neighborhood and how they try to force decorating on the poor family, who just wants to take a cruise since their daughter is off with the Peace Corps (I imagine my pal Ryan's neighborhood is the same way!). Of course, their daughter finds a way to come home, so they have to do a million things in one day. The grocery story scene reminded me of Arnold in Jingle All The Way, but I liked the mysterious Marty (could he be Santa?). My pal Melinda (who has read the book) said they added the whole burglar thing, and it definitely did seem tacked on. The soundtrack of contemporary holiday favorites was better than usual - I'll definitely have to check some of those out on the iTunes Music Store! Anyway, this movie didn't deliver on the Christmas magic (meaning tears for Mikey), but it was still a lot of fun to see beautiful lights and snow and some family togetherness for Christmas.


    Today's links

    Here's the old Today icon from the original WEBmikey. I guess I thought TV was my window into what's going on now, but probably I just couldn't think of anything else to use. The Today section started as simple thoughts on what was going on in my current life, which was kind of like a blog before I had discovered Blogger!

    Speaking of current WEBmikey happenings, I've discovered some more folks linking to my site, which is great! The Disney Blog is a fantastic site that I read every day, and now they've been nice enough to link to me twice (once for my latest Walt Disney World trip report, and now for a recent book review), so I actually get lots of clicks from them (thanks so much!). The weirdest WEBmikey reference I've found is on this page from the University of Texas at Dallas - if you look at the Plate Boundaries document, there you will find my poem Plate Tectonics suggested as a way to teach sixth graders! That's one of my favorite poems, so I'm glad someone likes it. Finally, folks are picking up my Flickr images - someone on LABlogs included a snapshot of me outside MOCA in LA (taken by my pal Dae). It seems I'm all over the place now!


    Mulan / Special Edition : 4 of 5

    Even though I already owned the first release of Mulan on DVD, I had to pre-order this new two disc edition so I would have it right away (and then I took months to finally watch it)! Mulan is really a fantastic movie - not only is the animation incredible (everything from the Hun charge to Mulan's reflections in the shrine), but the plot is wonderful - Mulan finally broke away from the "rebellious teenager" stereotype, since she acts for her family, not herself. The second disc has some nice documentary footage, but not nearly enough animator interviews (probably because Disney has let most of them go by now). I really liked the discussion of internationalizing the film, since I didn't know that Jackie Chan played Li Shang in the Chinese release (he even sung for the character, and the music video is included). There are huge galleries of development art, but hardly any background artwork (which is my favorite kind of gallery), plus a nice director commentary that reveals some interesting things (such as the translation for some of the Chinese characters seen on signs). Overall, it's not nearly as comprehensive as the recent Aladdin DVD, but it's still much better than the first DVD release. The movie is so great that any Disney fan should buy it without hesitation anyway!


    A photo a day

    I've been successful so far with my goofy goal of snapping at least one mundane photo everyday with my camera phone! It's so easy to take a picture and immediately send it to the web, and I'm sure I'll stick with it for quite a while. My latest photo appears in the left margin, and you can click it to view it in all it's blurry glory on Flickr! (You can also leave comments on Flickr, which I would appreciate.) One of the coolest features of Flickr is the calendar view - I love seeing all the little thumbnails together (kind of like the joy of seeing my PEZ collection). Take a look at my Flickr calendar and enjoy the view! I think next month I'll stick with more of a theme - maybe a PEZ dispenser a day, or maybe a self-portrait series.


    Disneyland: The Nickel Tour / Bruce Gordon & David Mumford : 5 of 5

    I've read many times that this is the best book on Disneyland ever published, so I bought it over a year ago, but it takes me a long time to get to huge coffee table books! I finally started reading this just before my last trip to the park, and now that I've finished it I can agree with the public opinion - this is an incredible book. "Nickel Tour" refers to the original price of Disneyland postcards, and this book is designed to be a collectors guide to the thousands of postcards produced over the last 50 years. Of course, to present all of these cards (which are some of the best photography of the park available), you have to tell the history of Disneyland, and the authors have written tons of detailed text to do just that. I've never read a better description of how the park has evolved - they discuss where different figures have moved and what buildings were recycled (such as the Fantasyland Theater becoming Pinocchio's Daring Adventure), and describe lots of great attractions that are gone forever. They photos are fantastic (and they really make me want to collect postcards!) and include everything from sketches to costumed characters to just about every major attraction. This is definitely an essential Disneyland history book - it's just disguised as a collector's checklist!


    Still studying

    Even though my schedule didn't allow me to take Japanese III last semester, I still enjoy studying the language a little every day. I usually study a few pages from my textbook or from several other books I've bought, and of course watching anime and looking up words in my dictionary is fun, too. The other day I came across this great article, How to Learn a Language, which mentioned Rosetta Stone software. I had thought about trying language software before, but I could never decide on one. With this recommendation, I decided to give it a whirl, in spite of the expense! Plus, the online demo was really helpful, and I was glad the software works on both Macs and PCs. Anyway, I got the first Japanese package, and it's really helpful - I've finished 6 of 92 lessons, so I have a long way to go, but it's a great supplement to my learning. A lot of the concepts I've already covered in class, of course, but I've already learned several verbs that I didn't know before. Tanoshii!


    Chobits Vol 5 : 3 of 5

    Once again the tone of this series has changed, and even though I would rather just see cute romantic scenes, the story that's unfolding is really interesting. The title of this volume is Disappearance, and all of these episodes involve the kidnapping of Chi! On her way to work, Chi is abducted by some persocom geek who has read about her on the net, and he captures her in his house to find out what makes her tick. Hideki goes crazy, of course, and spends each episode looking for her. One episode barely has a single scene with Chi, but instead has a long talk between Hideki and Chi's boss from the bakery, who tells his story about his own persocom whom he loved and even married! It has a tragic ending, but does a great job of keeping the theme of persocom/human relations in the forefront. Lots of other interesting things unfold as well - we learn that Hideki's landlord is totally involved in Chi's past (which explains why she has all these clothes that fit her!), and she is even the author of the picture books that Chi is drawn to! Thankfully, everyone helps Hideki find Chi and life returns to normal, but now the mystery is at it's peak, and I have no idea what will happen next. By the way, the closing credits song is so beautiful!


    Fantastic food

    Another fun-filled (and food-filled) Thanksgiving has come and gone. Chris & Eliza always cook up an incredible dinner, and I'm so happy to be one of their pals so I can enjoy it! After we ate we looked at old pictures, played DDR and Karaoke Revolution, watched Chris & Eliza's wedding video, and slowly recovered from our food comas just enough energy to drive home about midnight. And the weekend is still ahead of me (which is great, since I have lots of video editing to work on)!

    View photos: Thanksgiving 2004


    Here come the holidays!

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! What a wonderful morning! I just finished enjoying all four hours of parade fun (you get four hours if you watch it on two channels!), and it was definitely spectacular. I love it all, from the bad jokes to the bad lip-synching of the performers, and especially Santa Claus, who looked great this year! The Spongebob and Chicken Little balloons were really cool, but the new M&Ms balloon was so boring. During my parade fest, I has a pot of coffee, some fried eggs, my Mom's pumpkin bread (yummy!), and filled my condo with pipe smoke - ah, the holiday season! During the commercials I read some of the original Thanksgiving Proclamations by Washington and Lincoln - I was definitely feeling lots of holiday emotion, and Lincoln's proclamation was so beautiful that I got misty-eyed. I can definitely say those won't be the first happy Christmas tears for me - just wait until all the Christmas TV specials start!


    Tuna before turkey

    It's a four-day weekend! After lots of dreary humid weather, today was in the 50s and sunny - fantastic weather for "windows down, music up" driving. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving dinner at Chris & Eliza's, so I went to the grocery store at lunch for champagne and orange juice (since I've been called the Mimosa King). Yesterday I picked up a couple of yummy pies, which I had to resist gobbling up last night. I had some tuna from a pouch for lunch - I eat canned tuna most of the time, but I thought I would give the pouch a try. It's definitely easy to open and eat, but it seemed a little weird to me - maybe just a little more fresh. I'll probably try it again for a second opinion. Tomorrow morning I'll be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - definitely one of my favorite mornings of the year!

    National Treasure : 3 of 5

    Of course, I had to see this because it's a Disney movie, but I definitely enjoyed it much more than I thought I would! Even though the premise gets pretty silly sometimes, the film really comes across as a fun action adventure. In fact, there is almost no character development at all! Normally that would bother me, but the plot of chasing one clue after another is so exciting that it didn't matter (even though the love story is kind of tacked on, and people are really reduced to stereotypical "geek" and "bad guy"). I'm sure you know, but the story is about a huge treasure that passed from civilization to civilization and eventually ended up in the care of the Order of Freemasons, which most of our founding fathers were. So, Ben Franklin and the rest left clues to the treasure's location, starting with a code on the back of the Declaration of Independence. The way the clues fit together is pretty cool, and I liked all the Masonic symbols and things because I studied the Masons (because of their connection to Mozart). There's definitely an Indiana Jones feel to the film, which is pretty high praise from me. A great adventure for a great time at the movies!


    Back to yesterday

    This is a cheater post, since I had some technical difficulties with WEBmikey yesterday (specifically, I switched to a new hosting plan with the same company for twice the space and half the price, but there was something preventing FTP from working!). Anyway, everything is back to normal now, so I'm posting to yesterday. What a great introduction to present one of my old WEBmikey icons! This was the button for my Yesterday section - I liked the building blocks for their childhood connotations. The Yesterday section grew to have the most subsections of my old site, since I put lots of lists here (such as My Cars, My Computers, and so on). I still think it's fun to make lists of things just for the sake of remembering them. Let me know if you can think of some others I should work on!


    Astro Boy Vol 18 : 3 of 5

    Wow, I'm amazed that I'm still going strong with Astro Boy, after finding out about these books about a year and a half ago. They really are perfect little books for a quick five minute reading session at any time, and it's nice to always be in the middle of a story. This volume has five short stories, but only one has a cartoon Tezuka introduction. The Robot Spaceship reminded me a lot of a plot from the last volume, since it's about smaller robots who combine to build a larger robot (in this case, a complete spaceship, rather than a destructive giant robot!). Then there's a pretty cool Dracula story, which is fun since Astro's friends have major roles. Then there's Atlas, a meanie robot who has "Omega Factor" installed, which allows him to betray the usual robot nature to never hurt humans! The last two stories are super-short, so the plots seem really rushed. I couldn't believe it when the only thing that could stop some monsters from eating the city turned out to be candy! It's pretty funny to see helicopters dumping gallons of sweet red bean soup. I hope the next volume has a little more emotion and less smashing!


    Tots and bots

    Sorry about the missing post yesterday - I was in Waco with my parents for early Thanksgiving, which we always do a week early so I can enjoy a big Thanksgiving blast with my Austin pals each year. Now I'm home and ready to get back on schedule!

    I'm pretty much in Christmas mode now, and holiday music has made it into my iPod rotation. Before I left for Waco, I made a donation to Toys for Tots for Christmas, and you should, too! If you have great memories of wonderful toy-filled Christmases like I do, i think it's great to pass along the Christmas spirit this way.

    Thanks to the Cyborg Name Generator, I can finally reveal my true robot identity! I guess I'm not following my programming on the killing part, but I'm willing to work on the efficient yelling!


    Sailor Moon Season One / Complete and Uncut : 4 of 5

    While I was enjoying the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon series, I decided to start buying the original anime series. I had seen most of this season before, but only in the terrible English dubbed version (where Naru sounds like she's from the Bronx!), so I had to get this giant DVD set to experience the original Japanese series. Eight DVDs and 46 episodes later, I'm still a Sailor Moon fan! The first season is so fun because of the original introductions of the characters, both good and evil, all leading up to a pretty dramatic climax - how many series how you watched where everyone dies before the end? (Thankfully the whole Sailor Moon story is about "transmigration", a kind of reincarnation!) Unfortunately, even though this series is from 1992, the original prints must be in terrible condition - the audio and video quality are definitely not up to average DVD standards, but it becomes bearable to watch after you get used to it. There are so many great episodes with little romances, crazy monsters, funny scenes, sad scenes, and even a wonderful message from Usagi at the end. It doesn't matter to me if it's goofy - I think it's a great story! Pretty soon I'll be starting Season Two!


    Chobits Vol 4 : 5 of 5

    This is the kind of simple romance plot that I love in anime! It's almost the complete opposite of the previous volume, so I guess there's a nice rhythm to the series. The first episode involves everyone going to the beach - Hideki, Chi, all of his girl pals (which is a little strange), his next door neighbor Shinbo, plus his rich genius pal who dresses all his persocoms in skimpy maid uniforms. It's a glorious episode where everyone just plays around and has fun! The next two episodes involve his prep-school teacher, first when she invites herself to stay over (and gets smashed on beer), and next when we discover her marital problems (because her husband is hooked on his persocom) - it gets pretty serious, but seems happy at the end. The last episode is so mushy - I love it! Hideki loses his wallet, and since he won't take Chi's paycheck, she learns to cook and makes him a great meal. Chi is so cute because she wants to make Hideki happy so badly, and when she smiles because he likes the meal, it's meltdown time for Mikey. These episodes are also fun because Sumomo (the tiny portable persocom) is with them, and she's hilarious! I wish I had someone to lead me in the "wakey exercise"!

    On this day in 1928

    Happy 76th Birthday, Mickey Mouse! (By the way, I can see at least 12 Mickeys from where I'm sitting. Think I should buy some more?)


    Looking back

    The other day I was checking out the WEBmikey of the past on the Wayback Machine, and I thought I would revisit some of the images I made for the old site design. Here's one of my goofy face - really the only animated GIF I've ever made. I remember taking those photos with my old Nikon CoolPix, then I changed them to grayscale and put them together. I think I had just got those sunglasses (prescription, so I still wear them), so I had to get a semi-Matrix look with them. I guess the idea was to express my "many moods", since the original idea for this site was to compartmentalize my life into sections and lists. I think it's much more fun as a regular blog, since I can post about whatever I feel like, and I've kept up the daily posts (minus trips) for almost a year now! Anyway, enjoy Mikey's mug circa 2001.


    Peter Pan : 5 of 5

    I bought this DVD very soon after it was released, since I enjoyed the film so much on the big screen - I can't believe I waited so long to watch it! This is such an incredible rendition of the story - it really does a fantastic job of capturing the emotions between the lines so the audience can identify with every character, even Hook. I love the gorgeous colors of the film, the exciting effects, and even the music, plus the acting is truly wonderful (and I'm completely enraptured with Mrs. Darling!). It was fun to watch it again on a cold night, seeing them fly through the snowy streets of London. Two things stood out this time - Mr. Darling is a much more sympathetic character than the usual portrayal, which makes him quite likable, and I really enjoyed how certain Disney character design touches are used (I really wish this were a Disney production - it definitely feels like one!). The DVD has a nice amount of bonus material, but it's grouped into so many short segments that I wish there was a way to play it all without constant menu selection. I can definitely see myself watching this movie many more times in the future - it's a beautiful story and a beautiful film.

    Twilight reflection

    The past few days have been really wet and sometimes a little chilly. I always have mixed feelings about this kind of weather. When it started getting dreary this weekend, it felt kind of like winter, so I got into a Christmas sort of mood and put up my few little decorations (just some lights around a window and some Santa Mickeys). Then Sunday was almost constant rain, and by the end of the day I was feeling so drained. On Monday I was moving in slow motion, so last night I was feeling mopey. But for some reason, today I feel a lot better, even though the weather hasn't changed. I think I really enjoyed my short drive home, because wet streets at twilight are kind of magical - they reflect the headlights and traffic lights and everything seems beautiful. I'm hoping for a sunny weekend, though - it will be wonderful to see the sun again!


    Waking Walt / Larry Pontius : 4 of 5

    This book tells the story that every Disney fan wonders about: what if the legend that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen were true? The plot begins with a group of old men called "The Circle", who have been guarding Walt's secret and have found a doctor with an experimental cure for cancer. It's an amazing moment when they actually revive Walt, and spend time catching up on history with him - everything from man on the moon to Vietnam. At the same time, there's huge problems at the Walt Disney Company with a hostile takeover on the horizon, so there are hit men out after the group, making this a bit of a spy story as well! The story is well written and has lots of twists and turns, but the best chapters are filled with Walt telling stories, sneaking scotch, going fishing, and the moment of all moments - Walt visiting Epcot! The author was a former Disney executive, so the details scattered throughout the book are accurate and interesting. The other characters in the book are interesting, too, especially Harry, who "inherits" his place in the Circle and ends up as the receiver of a true Willy Wonka moment. Even though the pacing bogs down in places, this is a great story that really presents Walt in a truthful light, yet still honors his genius.


    Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 Vol 6 : 3 of 5

    Another great anime series ends with this final DVD, and of course the ending is just a little weirder than I would like. Still, these are some amazing episodes, starting with the conclusion to the cliffhanger from the last volume. The entire city of Tokyo has been overrun by boomers, since these mad robots are kind of organic and can join with anything. All humans have left, and Galatea "becomes" an entire building which then blasts off into space! There's a nice episode where the girls meet up with some refugees on the outskirts of town and have some campfire drinking time, but then it's back to action. After donning their suits, they make it into space to face Galatea by riding the Sky Hook, which is really cool. A huge battle lasts for the final two episodes, with the girls fighting to control their suits, since they are in fact wearing robots that can be taken over by Galatea. There's some semi-touching scenes when Priss has to accept the Motoslave (her robot motorcycle) for what it is, and it ends up saving her life. The first volumes in this series were more enjoyable, but this was a mostly satisfying end to an action-packed series.


    Blow, man, blow

    Last night I got see my pal Ernesto play with The Limelights, a kind of Rockabilly, early Rock & Roll band that plays tunes like Bill Haley and the Comets. The music is a ton of fun, and definitely gets you clapping and singing along. It was a treat to watch Ernesto from the front for a change - I've played so many gigs behind the drum set with him, but I rarely get to actually sit back and enjoy a show! The lead guitar and the saxophone play unison lines all the time, and Ernesto already sounds like he's been doing it for years (this was his second Limelights gig!). It was also cool to see Shaun from the Jive Bombers on the drums - he even kind of remembered me from The Day Jobs. It was a fun night of shakin', rattlin' and rollin'!

    The Polar Express: 4 of 5

    I had lots of thoughts for and against this film before seeing it. I'm generally not a fan of computer animation that tries to capture true human characters, because they often look stiff and unnatural. I also haven't read the book, so I didn't know what to expect from the story. On the positive side, I was definitely in the mood for a Christmas movie, plus I got to see it in IMAX 3D, which made it a spectacular event (completely sold out, in fact). So, the Christmas spirit won me over and I really loved the film! The story is a good one - I love any movie that takes me to Santa's workshop. They definitely expanded the book into more of an adventure (I've been told), so there are parts that seem a little unnecessary, but the Christmas message and the emotional moments definitely make it worth it! Sometimes they go a little crazy with the camera angle freedom that animation allows, and some of the songs are not so hot (especially the hot chocolate number), but the duet on the back of the train is a wonderful new Christmas song that I'd love to hear again. I'm definitely feeling Christmasy now, and I'm sure I'll want to buy the DVD to make this a yearly viewing!


    Today's happenings

    Today I had strawberry-banana yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast. It's nice and chilly today, so I wore my Blogger hoodie, which is warm and snuggly. I worked until lunchtime, then went by my post office box to pick up some packages, one of which was a box of little toys from Japan (thanks, Matt & Kumiko)! I grabbed a turkey sub and went home, where I watched Super Milk Chan (which is one whacked-out anime) while I ate. I finished the work day, then came home to eat the other half of my sub, drink a beer, and watch Bubblegum Crisis. Now I'm blogging, but soon I'm going to start my weekend chores, and then go out to see my pal Ernesto play with his new band, The Limelights!

    My Bloody Valentine / Loveless : 4 of 5

    I've listened to the Lost in Translation soundtrack hundreds of times, and I'm always blown away by the track Sometimes by My Bloody Valentine. I decided to buy the CD with the same song, so I could get some real experience with this "shoegazer" band, and I'm glad I did. This music is so far removed from my usual taste, but for some reason it's beautiful - the songs are filled with heavily distorted guitar, often quite dissonant, and sometimes keyboards. The vocals are treated exactly like any other instrument - they are mixed very low and completely blend in with the music, which means you can't really understand any of the lyrics, yet they convey such emotion just by their presence. At times things get too out of hand, such as the instrumental track Touched, but nearly every other song is amazing. Predictably, the song I already knew is my favorite track - none other has the exact same level of awesome distortion. This CD isn't great for listening to in the car - I had to use my earphones and iPod to really appreciate it. When a certain melancholy mood hits, this is definitely music that I want to wash over me.


    Chobits Vol 3 : 3 of 5

    This volume has another four episodes of this great anime, but even though it's super-entertaining, the misty-eyed charm is put aside a little for more humor, and the beginnings of a "serious" plot. First, Chi goes out on her own to spend her paycheck money, and decides to buy Hideki another porno magazine (she calls them his "yummies" and has no idea what they are, of course!), but she also buys a continuation of the strange book, The Town With No People, from the last volume, which gives her a vision of herself in a black outfit - kind of like a dark side. This mostly is put aside for the rest of the stories, and we're treated to more solid comedy. Hideki's boss' daughter Yumi asks him out on a date, and in another episode her dad loans him a DVD player and some special DVDs from his "personal collection". There's a weird horror episode that seems kind of like a Scooby Doo plot, and then a trip into an online game where the characters are presented as their avatars (a giant Sumomo is pretty scary!). Some weird things happen in the game that imply Chi's real power, but I would just as soon put that off and stay with the goofy romance!


    Nihon no mono

    I love munching on Japanese roasted peas! I think I first had these on South Congress at the Hotel San Jose, because they're free at the bar, but I just recently re-discovered them at the grocery store. These are the hot variety with wasabi, and they're fantastic to chomp on with beer (watching anime, of course). I love it when I get a surprise jolt of wasabi that clears up my nose!

    It's cool that Anime Channel On Demand is on cable now, but I can barely watch it because of the bad dubbing. I guess they really do try to do a good job and make it entertaining, but the original Japanese voices are just ten times better. Guess I just have to keep renting DVDs, but it's nice to have a way to preview things to see what I might like.

    Here's a few plugs for Japan-related sites (that you probably already know about if you read WEBmikey). My pals Matt & Kumiko live in Osaka and Matt tells their adventures on Moon Station Foxtrot. My pal Barron sells his cool photography, and tons of the pictures are of Japan. Finally, I've been meaning to mention this story (written by someone Matt knows) for a long time, because I just about pissed my pants laughing when I read it. It's really creamy!