Since the World Began / Jeff Kurtti : 3 of 5

I have many more books on Disneyland history than I have covering Walt Disney World history, but since I'll soon be there again, I decided I should read a few. This is an older book, published before the opening of Animal Kingdom, but I had seen many reviews on websites saying how great this book is, so I found a way to order a copy (even though it's long out of print). This is definitely a fascinating book, covering every aspect of Walt Disney World in detail! I was really interested in all of the logistics involved in developing such a huge amount of land (47 square miles!), including running their own phone utility, fire department, and everything else! Each page is full of color pictures (including many interesting pieces of production art, particularly of Epcot!), but there is far more text to read than the usual park-overview book. Since Walt Disney World is constantly changing, it was fun to read about attractions and places that are now "extinct" and replaced with other things to do. There are smaller sections (usually just a page) about most of the resort hotels, too. The Animal Kingdom chapter is pretty weak, with too much filler text, but the artwork of sections of the park that were never built is worth it! Even though it's a little dry, this is still an incredible book about a more incredible place.


On with the revolution

Today I received my 4th RedOctane dance pad since I started playing Dance Dance Revolution. I think RedOctane products are top-notch, but everything wears out eventually (especially with me stomping on it thousands of times!). My first two pads were standard soft pads - the first one got zapped by static electricity, and the second one is still working pretty well, but has some tears in the vinyl. Then I got one of the first Ignition pads, but it had the original squishy foam insert that totally sucked, so I stopped using it. Later I ordered the new replacement hard foam, and became an Ignition lover. Recently I've been upping my DDR playtime, but one or more of the sensors in my Ignition pad has become totally erratic - especially during jumps. A couple days ago I got so peeved at it that I ordered a new Ignition right away. Now it's here, and I just scored an 800 combo on Endless Mode - one of my best combos ever! Wow, the difference it amazing - it's so great to have an awesome dance pad again!


Astro Boy Vol 11 : 3 of 5

Parts of this book may have been the first Astro I ever read, since I remember some of these stories fairly well from my last visit to Japan. My pal Matt got me started on Astro (thanks to the books in his bathroom!), and then sent me his collection to get me started! There are three regular length stories in this volume, and one super short one (even though it's only a few pages, it still has heart). I really liked Bem, the robot bomb boy, who just wants to be peaceful - Astro has to help him escape from his evil makers, and poor Bem ends up sacrificing himself to save the earth! The next story is about a cool underground tank and the kidnapping of Mustachio, and the next is about a weird criminal who has returned from Mars with terrible powers. He can project electrical current and cause people to have heart attacks! Astro and Professor Ochanomizu hatch a great scheme to capture him, which involves faking the Professor's death (I knew it couldn't be true, but they fooled me!). Guess it's time to start the next Astro volume.


The Comedy of Errors

Well, the show's over and the set's been destroyed, so it's time to take a look at my pics from the entire run - lots of photos from all nine performances and tons of rehearsal, too. Enjoy the costume shots and backstage boozing!

View photos: The Comedy of Errors

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie : 3 of 5

I hadn't seen Cowboy Bebop in almost a year, since I finished watching the complete anime series on DVD. This title finally came to the top of my huge Netflix queue, so I got to enjoy this movie recently. It was awesome to see these characters again - I guess the story would have to take place somewhere in the middle of the series, since all of the main characters (Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ed) are all together. The plot involves a kind of bio-terrorist who was originally a guinea-pig in the military stationed on Mars, but all you really need to know is that the action sequences are great and all of them include fantastic music, which was always my favorite part of the show (besides Spike's cool, laid-back style and Faye's skimpy outfit). Ed is as bizarre as usual, and generally stays in the background, as does Jet, but Spike and Faye get the limelight. I thought the air battle between Spike and the military craft was just fantastic, but the opening titles were even better - they appear over some incredible monochrome animation of folks in the city, with excellent backgrounds and real emotion on the faces of people in all walks of life. It's details like this that make Cowboy Bebop a great show, and a great movie!


End of an era

This week I ran out of aluminum foil. You may think this is nothing, but I assume you, it's a huge event! I think I've used the same roll of aluminum foil since I moved to Austin - I'm not kidding! I only use a small sheet every now and then to cook some frozen fish, and sometimes my pals will use some to take home some leftovers, so that roll had serious staying power! Let's have a moment of silence for my Reynolds Wrap roll - it was a true friend.

Several Disney songs made it on the American Film Institute's list of America's Greatest Movie Music. I'm especially proud that When You Wish Upon A Star from Pinocchio was Number 7, since it's such a wonderful song that embodies the Disney spirit! I was also thrilled that Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz took Number 1 - it's definitely one of the most perfect songs ever written.

Tonight is the closing show of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors - it's been a fun time being a part of this Tongue and Groove Theatre production! I've been amazed that the last two nights were completely sold-out - I think they even turned people away on Thursday! Speaking of Thursday, they win the best audience award - there was tons of laughing and clapping in all the right spots, so the play was funnier even to the band (who has now seen it least 15 times). I'll get my photo album from the entire run posted very soon.


Goodbye Tsugumi / Banana Yoshimoto : 4 of 5

I started reading Banana Yoshimoto's books way before I had a real interest in Japanese culture - I remember buying Lizard and Kitchen at a Barnes & Noble many, many years ago. Since then I've tried to keep up with all of her writing, and now I think I'm up to date. Her style is just fantastic - almost always in first person and very laid back, but always full of extremely esoteric metaphors (much like Douglas Coupland, whom I also enjoy). This book concerns the relationship between two female cousins who grow up together - Tsugumi is a beautiful girl, but has a chronic illness that has made her somewhat of a bitter, conniving bitch, and yet she still has qualities that endear her to her cousin, Maria. The story is set at an inn on the beach, so there are lots of beautiful scenes watching the waves and walking dogs in the sand. Now that I know more about Japan, I can really appreciate the details, from the snacks they eat to their outfits when then go to watch fireworks! Much like her other novels, the story just kind of meanders from chapter to chapter. There is a plot, of course, but it's more like watching life unfold, which is why I love her books!


Walt Disney Treasures: Tomorrowland : 5 of 5

Each wave of Walt Disney Treasures DVDs has always included a title that looks at Disney history, and this Tomorrowland set looks at Walt's optimism about the future. The main features are the incredible Man in Space programs that were produced for TV, each with live-action and animated segments, and presenting scientific material in a truly fascinating way! Even though the science facts and predictions involve some pretty wild speculations, I still learned a lot from watching these shows (as long as 1950s science counts!) and loved every minute of it! There's a show on space travel in general, one on traveling to the moon (in which it's predicted that we'll need to build a space station first), another on traveling to Mars, a show on satellites and weather prediction (and weather control!), and an amazing show on atomic energy (and now I understand for the first time how a nuclear reactor works). As a super-huge bonus, this DVD set also includes the uncut EPCOT film, shot only two months before Walt's death, where he explains how his "city of the future" will operate. It's completely fascinating - I would love to go to work everyday on a monorail! Some great interviews are included as well, making this an incredible package of Disney history - possibly one of the best Walt Disney Treasures yet!


They Might Be Giants / Flood : 3 of 5

I first heard They Might Be Giants in the early 90s when my pal Mark Schoenhals made me a mix-tape that introduced me to lots of cool music. I thought their stuff was really creative and full of funny lyrics that were fun to sing, so Mark dubbed some other albums for me, and Flood was my favorite. I haven't listened to cassettes for years now (I don't even have a player!), so I decided to buy this CD to relive some memories. Even though it doesn't has as much "staying power" as I remembered (maybe because I just listened to it too much in the 90s!), Flood is still an excellent album - really, every song is a gem! My favorite track is Someone Keeps Moving My Chair, because the lyrics are hilarious and keep going on and on, crossing phrases with ease. Speaking of on and on, I Want a Rock is a funny song, but it's so repetitive that it seems like the longest two and half minutes on the CD! Of course, the psuedo-hit Istanbul is on here, too, and even though it's cool, I think Particle Man or Lucky Ball & Chain easily top it. So, I had fun listening and singing, but after a couple of days, I'm longing for something else in the ol' car CD player - it was nice while it lasted!


Getting detailed

I got up at 5:30 AM this morning so I could call Walt Disney World right when they opened (7:00 AM, Florida time), and now I have my first couple of reservations made - one for a fireworks cruise and one for dinner with Cinderella and her pals! I also started working on my totally detailed touring plans for each day of my trip - it's always tough to scratch some things off the list because they just won't work, but the goal is to have a magical time without getting exhausted. I think the daily breaks to go back to the Grand Floridian and relax will really help, since my parents and I will be getting up pretty early while we're there!

While I'm mentioning Walt Disney World, I should plug another set of DVDs that Disney park fans should own - the video series available from the Extinct Attractions Club. I've been collecting these DVDs since the "old days" of the club, and the latest ones featuring Epcot attractions are the best so far! Each DVD is edited like a full documentary, with lots of footage and photos, accompanied with narration that usually talks about the development of the attraction, when it closed, and sometimes even what took it's place. Of course, a full ride-thru is a must, and that's the best part (but I sure do wish the fans had digital video in the past!). I really wish I had visited the original "educational" Epcot and seen these rides first hand!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 90 days!


Around the World in 80 Days : 3 of 5

I had already planned on seeing this movie, since it's officially a Disney picture, way before the bad reviews came out, and I'm sure it won't do well at the box office. However, when it was all over, I was amazed at how much fun I had when I was expecting much less! It was nice to see another Jules Verne tale, fresh on the heels of my 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea reading. I'm sure the book is much different, but I liked the spirit of adventure in the film. Jackie Chan really is a funny guy, and his stunt choreography is always amazing (he seems to always have people crawl under tables and chairs during a fight!). I thought the other acting was just fine, not counting Arnold, which was entirely goofy, but not too bad. The little nods to the "future", such as meeting the Wright brothers and fighting in a warehouse with the yet-to-be-assembled Statue of Liberty, were pretty humorous, but I thought the computer graphic segments between countries were way over the top (for the most part). The scenes in China were the best - I liked the folks playing Jackie's family and watching all of them drink (the mom was especially funny!). It's nice to be pleasantly surprised by enjoying a movie that gets blasted by the critics!


Five down, four to go

The Comedy of Errors continues! Last night was our fifth performance, so we're over the halfway point now. Our first review in the Austin American-Statesman was pretty bad, but we're not letting it get us down (the reviewer was so stupid that he even confuses actors and the parts they play in his review - he obviously didn't care and wasn't really watching!). After next week I'll post my photo album from the show, but until then take a look at this nice publicity photo of the main characters! (And if you're in Austin and want to go to the show next weekend, visit the Vortex website.)

I finally got around to watching the series finale of Justice League on TiVo, and it was fantastic! Justice League has some of the best stories and characterization in television animation today, and Starcrossed was a great way to end the show (don't worry, a new Justice League series is coming soon)! The plot was awesome, since we find out that Hawkgirl has been a spy all the time, and she's betrothed to another hawk-guy (which doesn't sit too well with Green Lantern, her semi-boyfriend). My favorite scene is when the League decides they need to go undercover as their secret identities - Flash starts to worry about keeping the secret, and then Batman quickly reveals that he's known who everyone is all along. It's a hilarious moment! I can't wait for the next series to start.

WEBmikey was mentioned on a J-Talk message board! Some folks there were talking about blogs they had found, and a nice girl named Miyoshi found something I had written about Lady and the Tramp and mentioned my site. Thanks for the link, Miyoshi!

And of course, Happy Fathers Day to my terrific dad, who brought me comic books when he came home from work, who liked to hide the best Christmas present until the end, and who tells me amazing stories of his adventures in life!


Cats : 3 of 5

It's amazing that I had never seen Cats before, since it's been such a huge success since the 80s. Now that I've seen it, I'm having trouble seeing how it became such a huge phenomenon! It's true, there are lots and lots of great things about the show, but I just couldn't get over the fact that this is just a loose collection of songs with only a fragment of plot! The idea to write music to TS Eliot's poetry is a good one, but in the end there just isn't enough characterization to make me enjoy or identify with any of the characters. First, the good points: the costumes are really wonderful (and the female kittens are quite sexy), and the dancing is innovative and acrobatic - I have no idea how they can remember the moves to such long numbers! Memory is a beautiful song, of course, but you quickly find out that it's the only beautiful song in the show. The bad points are that Eliot's poetry is full of nonsense Seuss-like words that are great on paper, but just don't sing well (I'm sure half the audience never knew they were singing things like "jellicle" or "gumbie"). The orchestration for this traveling company had way too much synthesizer for my taste - it was like the Tron soundtrack in places! Weber uses lots of odd meter and syncopated melodies that really start to get old (and what was cool in the 80s sounds dated now). As usual, I had a great time at the theater, but I can't say that I plan on seeing Cats again.


Step Into Liquid : 4 of 5

About a year ago I rented and watched nearly every surfing movie made by Bruce Brown, most famous for The Endless Summer. Now his son Dana has made Step Into Liquid, a new surfing movie featuring many of the new innovations of the sport, as well as some truly unexpected surfing locations (such as surfing the wave of a tanker ship near Galveston, Texas, or surfing the waves produced by wind on the lake in Wisconsin!). There are a few segments of really big wave surfing, involving riding out 100 miles into the ocean and towing their boards from a jet-ski - they can actually get onto waves over 60 feet high this way! There's also some mind-boggling "foil boarding" segments. I can't even begin to describe what this looks like - you just have to watch it! There are some absolutely beautiful locations, from Hawaii (of course), to Costa Rica and even Ireland. The music is perfect for the visuals, too - I'm going to have to get the soundtrack. Above all, watching Step Into Liquid really made me feel alive - just watching the energy, the excitement, and the sheer love of life (exemplified by "the stoke") made me want to continue to fill my days with fun and happiness. What more could you ask from a movie?


Super Size Me : 3 of 5

I normally don't go to documentaries like this, since I always tend to feel the motives behind them are less than pure. But since I had already decided to get through 100 days without fast food, I figured this would be some good extra incentive (plus, I was definitely interested in the experiment, since eating McDonald's everyday sounds like a dream - a sick one, to be sure!). Morgan Spurlock, the director, narrator and guinea pig, seems like a nice guy, and his humor is what keeps the movie interesting, along with wondering what each new day on the McBinge is going to bring. Unfortunately, you can't fill an hour and half with someone eating, so there are lots of interviews and statistics (presented with fairly cheesy animation) to fill the space. It's these segments that bring down the WEBmikey rating, since I just wanted to see what happens to the guy! There are also a couple of gratuitous scenes, such as showing gastric bypass surgery, that I could definitely do without. Anyway, I still enjoyed the movie, and it was pretty shocking what happened to his body (especially his liver). That doesn't mean the Mickey D's didn't look good while he was eating it, but I'm definitely more aware of how nasty it really is for my health.


Magnifique DVD

I recently watched an amazing DVD produced by Ted, a true Disney park fan, called Disneyland Paris: The Complete Tour. I bought his Tokyo DisneySea DVD last year, so when he emailed to say he had a new DVD ready to go, I ordered one right away! The DVD is incredibly well produced - he covers each land and attraction with great attention to detail (because this is a serious fan making a DVD for other serious fans, he knows just what we want to see!), all accompanied by excellent music, sound effects, and just enough live audio to make the tour complete. It was fascinating to see the differences in rides, not just the obvious ones like Phantom Manor (themed as part of Frontierland), but unexpected changes like riding up the waterfall first in Pirates of the Caribbean, with all the coves and skeletons as the final scenes! Seeing this park really made me want to visit - someday I'm going to have to go to Paris and complete my "set" of Disney parks! (By the way, if you're a Disney park admirer, you absolutely must email Ted for more information on his wonderful DVDs!)

There sure have been a lot of losing Anaheim Angels scores showing up on my phone lately! Come on, Halos - go have a Dole Whip in front of the Enchanted Tiki Room and get recharged!


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea / Jules Verne : 4 of 5

I started reading this book a long, long time ago, soon after watching the classic Disney adaptation on DVD, but I enjoyed each moment with the book. It's been a long time since I've read a real science fiction/adventure novel, and it was a little difficult to get into Verne's style, which includes exasperating detail (most of it sounding completely scientific, covering the classification of every fish we meet on the journey!), but about a fourth of the way through I was used to it and hooked! I especially liked how so many events were recreated in the Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland - the graveyard of lost ships, traveling under the polar icecap, finding the ruins of Atlantis, and of course, fighting the giant squid (which is more like a school of squid in the book). The first person style is really convincing and compelling, since the mysteries surrounding Captain Nemo (which means "nobody" in Latin, I found out) are shared both by the narrator and the reader. Each chapter discusses in geographical detail where they are and how many leagues they have travelled (and you know when they reach 20,000 the story is over!). Now I really want to read The Mysterious Island, which I visited at Toyko DisneySea!


Aqua / Aquarius : 3 of 5

Even though this band is so yesterday, I decided to buy their second CD since I enjoyed Aquarium so much (I guess they were shooting to name all their albums with words containing the band name!). Overall, this CD isn't as good as the first, but it still has some real stand-out tunes. I like Cartoon Heroes (any song that mentions Spider-Man has got to be good), and An Apple a Day is pretty fun since it's so bouncy. One of the best tracks is Cuba Libre, since it has a great Latin feel, and Bumble Bees takes the spot of the goofy sex song (with lyrics like "I'm in need for pollination"). Halloween is by far the worst track, which makes you glad your CD player has a skip track button! It seems like Aqua was trying to be a little more serious in general (especially since there are a few ballads, too), which is kind of the opposite of why I like them, but this is still a fun CD that makes me smile and sing along.


Opening night arrives

After a full week of rehearsals, The Comedy of Errors opened on Friday, so we've had two official performances now. It's amazing how everything comes together at the last minute to make a show click, and everything is hilarious as it should be! Our little band for the show, The Rude Fishermen of Corinth (taken from a line in the play), is having a great time - we've even got some crazy costumes (check out Robin Hood Chris and Friar Tuck Mikey). I've been taking a few photos each night, so when the run is over, I'll be sure to post the whole album (better yet, come see the show!).

I've reached the 100 day mark for my Walt Disney World vacation with my parents! My planning is getting pretty detailed now - I think I have all of our restaurants picked out, and I'm reading several websites everyday to be sure to catch every tip possible. I've decided to challenge myself during the countdown to completely lay off of fast food - 100 drive-thru-less days! By the time September rolls around, I should be feeling healthy and energetic and ready to bite the ear off my first Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 99 days!


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban : 4 of 5

Since I was busy with play rehearsal, I had to wait a few days to see this latest Harry Potter movie. I'm excited about following the films, even though I haven't read the books, but I have to say that this one is my least favorite so far. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the movie - I had a great time watching it! The story is much darker and mysterious than the previous plots - much more of a mystery (with a problem-solving pace) than the others. There are some great special effects (I thought Buckbeack the hippogriff was simply beautiful), and some nice acting from the kids (though they are hardly kids anymore - I have no idea how they are going to keep making these movies unless they start taking drugs to stunt their growth!). I wasn't too fond of the new Dumbledore - he looked okay, but his voice was just too fast and not caring enough. I guess he just needs more charm. Once again, we learn a lot more about Harry's parents and past and see him developing into a powerful wizard, all against the cool set of Hogwarts with its living paintings and ghosts. Overall, this is a nice third effort from Harry, but I hope the fourth brings back a little more humor.


Happy 70th, Donald!

Donald Duck's 70h birthday was this week! The timing was perfect since I just finished watching all those Donald cartoons on DVD. I wonder if Disney will do something special for his 75th birthday?

I think I might have seen every episode of Lizzie McGuire by now, but I still watch them over again every now and then. Sometimes I enjoy Lizzie's parents almost as much as the kids, because they are so goofy and yet somehow have this ideal lifestyle. I'm always wondering about Lizzie's dad, though - every morning he is dressed in a tie for breakfast, but he's still loafing around reading the newspaper and drinking coffee after the kids go to school. It's like he has a job but never remembers to go! Maybe his job is just to putter around the house all day - where can I get a career like that? If anyone knows what Lizzie's dad's job is actually supposed to be, let me know.


Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Vol 1 : 5 of 5

After finishing the set of Mickey cartoons, I started right in on the complete set of Donald Duck shorts from the 30s and 40s. I can definitely see why this set is called Volume 1, because Disney made so many Donald cartoons (sometimes up to eight a year!) that it's going to take a few more DVDs to contain them all! These are excellent cartoons, and even though Donald doesn't have Mickey's charm for me, he's still downright hilarious (I always get a big kick out of listening to him sing, too). We get to see the first appearances of Daisy Duck (who used to talk with the same kind of voice as Donald - I wonder when she switched to a "normal" voice?) and Huey, Duey and Louie. Lots of the cartoons include Goofy and Pluto (I guess Donald takes care of Pluto when Mickey's out of town), and the villain is usually Pete (though he doesn't have a peg leg). My favorites are Hockey Champ, which features some funny snow and ice chases, and Modern Inventions, where Donald has a bad time in a museum of the future. The bonus material is pretty sparse, but at least includes a biography of Clarence Nash, the voice of Donald (I wish I could talk like Donald, too!).


Pinball of the Dead / GameBoy Advance : 4 of 5

As I said before, pinball is Mikey's game of choice for GameBoy Advance, so even though I generally don't like gross zombie games, I thought this would be fun for the pinball aspect, and I was right! Using the same characters and style of the House of the Dead arcade games, this weird game puts tiny zombies walking all over the pinball playfield - run them over with the ball, and they go splat with a splotch of green blood! (There's actually a preference setting for the blood color - green is so much less disgusting than red.) Like any good pinball game, there's lots of combinations you have to make to get to special levels, including boss levels where you combat a single demon armed only with your flippers. There are three different table layouts, all of which are pretty interesting and diverse, and some truly bizarre things can happen during play (like a giant decaying head filling half the table until you pop it enough with the ball). The sounds are super weird, too, including all different kinds of zombie death screams. This is a really creative and unique game, and I'm surprised how much I enjoy it - I guess my pinball fever is stronger than my distaste for zombie games!


Loratadine let me down

Last week I had to suffer though a sinus infection, and I took plenty of drugs to deal with it. From my days of working at Eckerd's, I generally take the same things I have for years to treat each symptom separately, but I thought I would try out Loratadine (generic over-the-counter Claritin) for a change this time. I can remember when Claritin was first available - lots of folks I knew had prescriptions and were taking it everyday, since it was the first (or one of the first) antihistamines without the usual drowsiness. Anyway, I had always heard it was great, but for me, it was completely ineffective. Guess my snot is just trained for Benedryl! Actually, I used to have the best results with Dimetapp antihistamine tablets, but they don't even make those anymore - I miss those magic blue pills.


Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful Vol 2 : 4 of 5

It's driving me crazy that these episodes can be so funny, charming, and wonderful when I've read that this series is going to take a tragic turn! For now, I'm just enjoying the incredible cuteness while it lasts. This volume has lots of holiday episodes, opening with a hilarious Christmas story, then continuing on to New Year's, Valentine's Day, and some silly festivals made up for the show. There are lots of great subplots that feature Minawa, who's desperately trying to find her "heart" and be more human, and now that one of Suguru's friends is her admirer, that should be easy. There are some really funny scenes with Chizu (the youngest of Suguru's girl pals), since she always goes crazy over food and screams all kinds of praises for Mahoro's cooking (she goes into a giant tirade on "food is love" after tasting Mahoro's curry!). Suguru's grandpa (who is the leader of Vesper) visits, gets completely drunk with Ms Shijiko, and then wants to spy on Mahoro and Minawa in the bath! These episodes are completely squishy in their happiness - there are only a few short scenes that imply future trouble is on the way. I can't believe the next DVD is the last one!


A real "bash"

After a long play rehearsal on Friday, we went to a late birthday party for our pal Kristin, who just turned 30 (wow, so young!). As a bonus celebration, her long time boyfriend Carlos proposed the day before, so Kristin got to show everyone her ring. I took a few photos of the crazy pinata action - I had never seen adults bash a pinata before, but let me tell you, it goes much faster than when the kids do it! Happy birthday, Kristin, and congratulations on the engagement, too!

View photos: Kristin's Birthday 2004


Mikey's Top 10 Movies

I've never had the guts to actually name my Top 10 movies before, but recently I've found myself thinking about it (especially when I say things like "This movie has got to be in my Top 10!"). So, I decided to give it a shot. This list may be surprising, but then again, this is WEBmikey, so I'm sure you expect a Top 10 list unlike anyone else's, right?

Just a few caveats: First, there's no way for me to put this list in order, since it's tough enough to narrow it down to ten! Second, there are lots of other movies I love that could easily be included here, but my main criteria was "Do I want to watch this movie right away when I think of it?" and "Does this movie completely move me emotionally?" (meaning it makes me laugh, cry, or otherwise feel better about the world after the movie is over). Third, this is a weird mix of "adult" and "kid" films (which are the same thing to me), and although I have a tendency to want to make two lists, I decided to stick to a single Top 10. So, here it goes!
  • Mary Poppins (1964)
    This may be my true "desert island" movie - I always feel like a new person after I watch it. I often feel like Mr. Banks, trying to live up to his ideals, when the answer all along is just to laugh and have fun!
  • Manhattan (1979)
    The best Woody Allen movie there will ever be, and the most beautifully shot. The only movie I know that makes me cry after I hear the last line!
  • Amadeus (1984)
    Instrumental in my introduction and love of classical music and opera, it fills me with wonder and sadness each time I see it.
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
    Full of hauntingly beautiful music, I admire this movie because it dares to be both a cinematic opera and a genuine story with a sad ending (of course, sadness can be beautiful, too).
  • The Red Shoes (1948)
    For a long time I called this my absolute favorite film when asked, and I still adore it. This story of love and art, ballet and music, control and release, often renews my passion for life!
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    I don't care if you want to call it sappy, and I don't care if it's Christmas or not. Donna Reed is beautiful and the last 20 minutes makes be absolutely blubber.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
    Most Disney movies tell the story of someone who desperately wants something, and finally gets it through determination (and magic!). Ariel is the personification of that wanting when she sings Part of Your World, and I always end up crying from the sheer beauty of that animated performance.
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
    Though I don't have a strong bond to the Oz characters, Over the Rainbow is probably one of the best songs ever written (expressing a wanting just like Ariel's!). When Dorothy has to say good bye to her new friends, I always sniffle a little.
  • Roman Holiday (1953) / Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
    I know I'm cheating here, but I had to include an Audrey Hepburn film (since she's probably my favorite actress ever), but I just couldn't decide between the amazing poignancy of the end of Roman Holiday or the simple beauty of Holly singing Moon River on her windowsill.
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991)
    Back to the theme of "wanting"! Belle is a fantastic heroine because she's basically a bookworm geek, but it's her dreams of romance and adventure that carry her above it all. When I'm watching her singing on that hill of dandelions, I'm oblivious to the rest of the world.


Esio Trot / Roald Dahl : 4 of 5

Yes, Esio Trot is "tortoise" spelled backwards, and those are the magic words that bring this short love story to a happy ending. Once again, this is a very short story, filled with lots of illustrations (though I think these illustrations are even more fantastic than the ones in the other Dahl books), but the plot is just so cute and heartwarming that even a tiny book like this deserves a great rating! Mr. Hoppy lives in the apartment above his secret love, Mrs. Silver, and they see each other on their balconies. Mrs. Silver adores her pet tortoise, but wishes it would grow, so Mr. Hoppy hatches a plan to impress her that involves her saying special words (backwards, naturally) to tell her pet to grow. I can't tell you how his plan works, because that's the entire story in a nutshell, but once it does, the two finally meet for tea and instantly decide to get married. I guess it's a little funny that their whole romance is based on a deception, but this is still a charming story that made me smile. I think I need to move on to some meatier Dahl stories - at least something more than 50 pages!


Wieners & noodles

Chris & Eliza played hosts as usual and had everyone over for a pool party BBQ on Memorial Day. I was totally wiped out from a busy weekend of rehearsals and gigs, but it was still a great time! Conrad's kids went crazy playing with their "noodles", since you can blow water out of them at unsuspecting victims. While were eating the weather went wacky and there was a sudden hailstorm (bigger than pea-sized!) - it was certainly strange for Austin!

View photos: Memorial Day 2004


Astro Boy Vol 10 / Osamu Tezuka : 3 of 5

I'm still enjoying reading the adventures of Astro Boy - they're just simple, exciting stories that add a bit of coolness to my day (and I usually read them in bits and pieces, which is really easy to do). This volume has four stories, which is a little more than the average volume, so each story is a little shorter, but still lots of fun. First, Astro battles Garon (a giant robot that Tezuka borrowed from another manga), and then Astro goes undercover to stop a drug pushing ring - he gets to wear a rubber "human" skin and pretend he's an addict and everything! The third story is pretty weird, since it reveals that the human race was created by aliens messing around with apes, and the last story is my favorite - Professor Ochanomizu builds "adult" bodies for Astro and Uran! It turns out to be just a plot for the bad guy to steal Astro's original boy body, but it's still kind of interesting to see a teenage Astro flying and fighting. At the end the "real" Uran wants the adult Uran to become her big sister, but she has to shed some tears since things don't turn out that way. The best part is that Astro and Uran decide that they like being kids best (just like me!).


Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Vol 2 : 5 of 5

At long last I'm watching the latest wave of Walt Disney Treasures DVDs! These were originally scheduled for a Christmas release, then delayed until Spring, so I pre-ordered them from Amazon.com. I've been so busy lately that it's tough finding time to watch these with the attention they deserve, but I did manage to complete all the material on this wonderful continuation of Mickey's color cartoon shorts. I enjoyed seeing everything from the 40s and 50s - my favorite by far is Symphony Hour, which has some incredibly funny scenes! It was interesting to see the experimentation with "perspective ears", too (but I'm glad they didn't last!). Other shorts that I really love are The Nifty Nineties and Mickey's Delayed Date (I love seeing Mickey trying to make up after a spat with Minnie). The second disc has some longer featurettes that I've been wanting to see, including The Prince and the Pauper (which is fantastic) and the totally bizarre Runaway Brain (which I'm sure was done just because the animators wanted to draw a deranged Mickey!). The bonus material is extensive, featuring great interviews with animators and the current voices of Mickey and Minnie (who are married in real life). Combined with the original volume of Mickey's color shorts, this is simply an unbeatable set!