7.31.2004

I, Robot : 3 of 5

I think I read Issac Asimov's I, Robot (which is actually a collection of short stories) sometime in college, and when I saw the trailers for this movie, I was pretty skeptical. While it's true that the plot only borrows a few elements from the book (most importantly, the Three Laws of Robotics), I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would! The story is essentially a murder mystery, so even though there's a lot of CG action sequences, the pacing is slower than expected, with enough time between the huge set pieces to give the audience thinking room. Will Smith is funny in the right places, and I always love ideas for cities of the future (I would love to let my car drive itself on the highway at 125 MPH, and the magnetic parking garage seemed like a good idea to me!). The look of the robots was pretty good, though there was never any doubt that they are computer generated - I think maybe they went for that look on purpose, just to keep it a little artsy. The only thing that bugged me was they set the year too low - I'm sure there won't be robots walking the streets in 30 years, even though I'm a fan of technological progress! Anyway, the movie kept me entertained and fascinated the entire time, which is all anyone can ask for.

7.30.2004

Teacher's Pet : 3 of 5

I've never watched a single episode of this cartoon, but I decided to rent this DVD after reading some positive reviews (they also mentioned the movie was full of Disney references!). This is a totally wacky animated feature, but I really enjoyed watching it! The story is about a dog who wants to be a boy, and ends up going to mad scientist to change him into a human (unfortunately, he forgot about "dog years", so he ends up being a man who really needs a shave!). There are a few things that make this movie fun - first, the art style is very striking and incredibly fast paced (some gags go by so fast I kept wanting to go back and freeze them!). Second, this short film is absolutely packed with songs, and all of them are hilarious - Nathan Lane does a fantastic job as Spot/Scott, and his Broadway hammy singing is fantastic. Then there are the Disney references - everything from the obvious Pinocchio to the "twilight bark" from Lady and the Tramp, and there are even some quick nods to Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan! It all went by so fast, but I really had fun watching this insane little cartoon feature - maybe I'll have to watch the show in reruns sometime.

7.29.2004

Twenty minutes of suck

It seems like Regal Cinemas tries really hard to keep me annoyed before a movie! A few years ago they had that dumb little girl talking with the cowboy voice to remind me to keep quiet during the movie - I got so sick of it that I started trying to see movies at another theater chain. Recently they started showing The Twenty, which is 20 minutes of long commercials packaged up as "entertainment". I don't object to a few ads once the lights go out, and I love movie trailers, but showing an entire 20 minutes of crap is just wrong! The whole point of getting to a movie early with your friends is sitting there talking - maybe listening to some soft movie soundtracks and watching trivia slides on the screen. But now this pre-show stuff is so loud that you can't talk - it's too distracting! Believe it or not, I was even hushed by someone for talking during The Twenty! Do people actually think this junk is part of the show? I can only hope this thing will run its course and go away. Other folks feel the same way!

The Art of The Lion King : 2 of 5

I bought this book to add to my collection of Disney art books, but unfortunately I didn't realize that this was a "Disney Miniature" edition. This means the book is really small (smaller than a paperback), but still hard bound and printed on quality paper, which is nice. The artwork is really beautiful (even though very small), but I have two problems with the book. First, there are far too many production stills - I like seeing them, but it's much more interesting for me to see development sketches and backgrounds! Second, the text of the book is just a telling of the story - there is no material about the making of the movie, just the tale itself. It was still enjoyable to read and look at the artwork, but it has none of the majesty of the other Disney art books I've been collecting. I believe they published the same book in a larger format, but without any meaty text, there's no need for me to buy the bigger version. Oh well, there are plenty of other wonderful art books for me to buy!

7.28.2004

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy : 3 of 5

Will Ferrell is probably the most talented of the recent generation of Saturday Night Live comedians (remember when they used to call them the Not Ready for Prime Time Players?), and Anchorman does a great job of extending a typical skit into a full-fledged movie. I really loved all the 70s costumes and scenery, and all of the goofy little news stories they kept covering were just hilarious. The opening with all of the introductions was pure genius, but the overall flow of the film got a little slow afterwards. Fortunately there are two fantastic scenes spaced just right to keep things interesting! First is the huge street fight between the rival news teams - all of the wounding was so over the top, and the cameos that kept popping up were fun, too. The rescue from the grizzly bears at the zoo was my favorite, though - watching the little dog talk to the bears with subtitles was sheer genius ("You will always be known as friend of the bears!"). The entire jazz flute sequence in the club was pretty damn funny, too. Anchorman is nothing spectacular, but my parents and I had a great time laughing all alone in the theater!

7.27.2004

Cats: The Ultimate Edition : 3 of 5

Since I had a less than fantastic experience seeing the touring production of Cats, I decided to give it another chance by watching this DVD. This is actually a great way to present a Broadway musical - there are plenty of different camera angles, tons of close-ups, all kinds of cut-aways to little character moments during the more boring musical sections (are there are a few of those!), and even a few added special effects that wouldn't be possible live (although the majority of the production still has an "on stage" feel). This DVD also features a full orchestration of the music, which sounds so much better with real instruments rather than the cheesy synthesizers - unfortunately there are still quite a few silly keyboard sounds in there, though. I enjoyed seeing the close-ups of the facial make-up and watching the dancers up close - several of the girl kittens were outstanding to look at! But I still have to say that Cats just doesn't do anything for me - too much of the music is just plain awful, and the barely-there storyline just doesn't grab me at all. Even so, it was kind of fun seeing it in the best conditions - it would be wonderful if they made more Broadway DVDs of this sort!

7.26.2004

AAB-Gamma, this is FAFC!

I had a great time (as always) in Oklahoma City with my parents, doing lots of relaxing, eating chocolate chip cookies, and watching TV. We also ate some great Mexican food, went to two movies (reviews on the way), and saw an awesome IMAX film about chimpanzees. One night we watched a truly incredible film on Showtime - The X from Outer Space (1967). I haven't enjoyed a bad, dubbed monster movie this much in years! This one has it all - a giant monster destroying Tokyo, lots of spaceship scenes (there's even a moon base), goofy jazzy music, and the all-important "moral of the story" ending ("That's the lesson the monster taught me"). Dad and I got the biggest laugh from one line - when they decided to return the monster back to space, one of the scientists says they should take it "Beyond the universe!" (Guess that's a long way out there!)

Disney's Mega Movie Mix : 3 of 5

I was planning on getting this CD sometime soon, but I was able to borrow it from my pal Melinda since she got it first! This is just a compilation of lots of songs from several recent Disney live action (and some animated) movies, plus a few DisneyMania tracks thrown in for good measure. What I like most about it is being able to hear all of these in one mix, including lots of the more obscure songs that I've heard in films like The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Freaky Friday. My favorites are the covers of older tunes performed in classic bubblegum style - songs like Can't Help Falling in Love and Happy Together. I really think there's an art to serious pop style, from the arrangement right down to the production quality, and these tunes meet my approval! There are a couple of tunes I like to skip over, but in general I've been enjoying the whole CD in my car. Where else can you hear songs from arch-enemies Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan on the same album? (Lindsay's songs are not too shabby, either!)

7.25.2004

Batman: The Movie : 2 of 5

Of course, I'm a Batman fan, which includes the classic campy series from the 60s. I had seen this movie (released after the first season of the series) on TV a few times, but one day I was at the mall and saw this DVD in a bargain bin for only five bucks! How could I pass that up? Several months later, I've finally made it through the whole thing - I had to watch it in several sessions, because even though the 30 minute show on TV is great, nearly two hours of it is just too much! The plot involves the four major villains - Joker (I always thought it was goofy that they put the white makeup right over Caesar Romero's mustache!), Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman (who unfortunately is Lee Meriwether here - everyone knows Julie Newmar is the real Catwoman!), and a crazy scheme to "dehydrate" everyone in the United Nations for big ransom money. The good thing about the movie is the budget allowed them to build the Batcopter and the Batboat, which are really cool, but there are some absolutely goofy effects here (the shark attack at the beginning is one of the worst!). The DVD has some fun bonus material, including the theater trailer in Spanish! Anyway, even though I was bored several times (hence the low rating), it's still a fun movie (if you can take it!).

7.21.2004

A short break

I'm looking forward to spending a few days with my parents in Oklahoma City! I always visit them during the summer and at Christmas, and then we see each other on our trips together (and Walt Disney World is only 61 days away!). It's so nice to just relax at home and with Mom and Dad and eat some good cooking. When I get back I'll have some movies to review, and of course I'll resume my regular daily posting schedule - I've done it so long now that I don't think I can stop!

Making Memories on Your Walt Disney World Resort Vacation : 2 of 5

I recently discovered a new Disney parks site called Aronda Parks that has some good information, and I noticed that they published this book. I'm always willing to try out a new Disney guide book, so I ordered a copy. I should say up-front that I applaud the efforts of the authors to create a new book of this type, and I was impressed with the length and much of the material! Unfortunately, despite the professional printing and binding, the look of the book is way too homemade for me - it was obviously home published, and includes the absolutely worst looking park maps (created with a simple drawing program and clip art!) I have ever seen! However, there are still more positives - the shopping and dining sections are more complete than any other guide book I have, right down to the detail about what merchandise you can find in which store. The text is very prose-like, which makes it nice to read, but not very useful as a reference book (although there are several organized tables of information included). I did have a good time reading it, but I can't really recommended this book unless you're just starved for Disney parks reading (like me!).

7.20.2004

Music for Mikey

My digital cable includes a whole bunch of digital music channels, which play genre-specific tunes and show things on the screen like album covers and trivia. I like to listen to them every now and then (they always have a fantastic Christmas music channel during the season), but recently I've been listening to a particular music channel a lot, because now there's a Radio Disney channel! I've always wanted to listen to Radio Disney, which is syndicated on tons of stations, but not in Austin. Now I can listen to goofy teen music whenever I want! Of course, there are plenty of Disney Channel promos, and they have call-in contests (unfortunately, the maximum age you can be to win is 14!), but my favorite thing is listening to the live broadcast from Tomorrowland in Disneyland. Sometimes the DJ will stop and talk to people coming off of Star Tours, or mention eating at Pizza Planet. It's just kind of nice listening to some live voices coming from my favorite place!

School of Rock : 4 of 5

Jack Black is just an insanely funny guy, so I knew School of Rock would be a great movie, especially because it's a movie with a bunch of kids! I felt the same way I did when I saw Almost Famous, because most of the music they reference in the movie was totally unknown to me (guess I wasn't much of a rocker!), but that didn't detract from the experience at all. Jack plays a dude who pretends to be a substitute teacher, and ends up forming a rock band with his prep school students. Of course, he eventually is discovered and there is that inevitable moment when the upset parents see the band perform, gush over their kids' talent, and all is well, but along the way there are some great scenes where Jack builds the kids' confidence (the classical pianist boy doesn't think he can be cool, and the overweight singer gets a little nervous), because being in a rock band overcomes all shortcomings, you know! The kids are really talented and fun - all of them have great personalities and they're super cute (especially snotty little Summer). By the end of the film, I was totally into the big Battle of the Bands, but I was sad the movie was over!

7.19.2004

Phoenix: Yamato/Space / Osamu Tezuka : 5 of 5

This volume of the truly epic Phoenix saga contains two stories, unlike the first two books, which had one story each. As I've said before, the Phoenix series bounces back and forth between the distant past and far future, so we have a story from each timeframe. The story from the past centers around a mysterious half-complete burial mound in Asuka, Nara prefecture (which I assume is real), and tells the tale of early Japanese history involving the mound. The story is great and really dramatic, but Tezuka goes absolutely crazy with the "humor injections" - they are in so many places that the drama begins to fail. Still, it's great to see an old man tell how he survived from the last volume (keeping the continuity), and seeing the Phoenix freely offer her blood of immortality. The second story has less humor, so it's far more dramatic and interesting. It has to do with a crew on a lifelong space journey, who has to eject into solo escape pods. They can talk by radio, which makes for some amazing page layouts as we follow each person's capsule and their conversation. Finally they land on a planet, where we hear how the Phoenix was involved (of course), and see how Saurta becomes disfigured (as he appeared in the last volume - remember the future stories are moving backward!). I'm all set to read the next volume, which I already have, but after that I'll be suffering until the fifth book is released!

7.18.2004

A new Palm

This week I stepped up to my fourth Palm handheld! My Palm is absolutely essential to me - I use it every day of my life, so I figure it's something I need to keep upgrading periodically to a top of the line device (and yes, I'm a devoted Palm user - I just think they are cooler than a Pocket PC). I decided to get a Tungsten T3, since I fell in love with the awesome expandable color screen (it makes my old color Palm look like black and white!). I saved up a bunch of award certificates from my Amazon Visa, then combined that with a special they were running to get it at about half of the list price! This week I've been having a blast loading it up with amazing hi-res photos from my collection, plus trying out some cool games. I've also been experimenting with video - I grabbed a Mickey Mouse cartoon from a DVD and encoded it, and it really looks great!

Battle Athletes Victory Vol 6 : 3 of 5

In this volume, our favorite University Satellite girls struggle through the preliminaries to make it to the semi-finals in their quest to become Cosmo Beauty! The first episode focuses on poor Anna, who has kind of a nervous breakdown - there's a lot of flashbacks, and it seems her mom encouraged her two daughters to compete like crazy (pretty mean, if you ask me). Apparently there was an accident and Anna's tennis racket beaned her sister, so that's why she got to go to University Satellite! Anyway, she blows her match, so now it's just Akari and Kris, our semi-lesbian girl pals. Mister Miracle decides to train Kris exclusively, but I think he's really doing it to bring out Akari's inner strength. Anyway, they make it through some rough matches, and now they are in the semi-finals! Unfortunately, now they have to face those two butch monster girls from the last volume, both of which seem impossible to beat. I'm still enjoying this series, even though this volume wasn't as exciting as the last. There are only two more to go - I hope they start an Akari, Kris, and Itchan love triangle before it's over!

7.17.2004

On this day in 1955

Happy 49th birthday, Disneyland! On this day in 1955, Walt Disney opened the Happiest Place on Earth, forever giving me (and millions of others) a place to dream about (and maybe visit a few hundred times, too). Next year is the big 50th celebration, and everyday I check out new photos of all the work that's being done to repaint and restore everything to pristine beauty. I'm planning my next Los Angeles trip for October (while I'm still grinning from my Walt Disney World trip!) to see my pal Dae, so I'll get to spend some time at the park and see the fresh paint. I'm looking forward to riding the new Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure, too! (Thanks in advance, Dae!)

Jump 5 / Jump 5 : 3 of 5

Jump 5 is one of the Radio Disney bands - I guess Disney has something to do with the promotion of these bands, since I first heard them on the two DisneyMania CDs (doing bubblegum versions of Beauty and the Beast and Welcome from Brother Bear). I thought these were two of the best tracks on the CDs, so I decided to try out one of their albums. It's actually pretty good music, and lots of the tunes are really fun, but I have to get past the fact that I'm listening to barely teenagers singing (the liner notes have a ridiculously embarrassing picture of the band, and two of the kids still have braces!). Still, these kiddos (three girls and two boys) have really nice voices and harmonize very well, and whoever does their production knows how to crank out the dance tracks. The opening cut, Spinnin' Around, is a definite hit, but my favorite is Change A Heart, Change The World, which has a nice singable melody. Start Jumpin' is so funny because it's almost a parody of this style of hip hop - it's a little silly to hear the kids singing this way, but I still kind of like it! All in all, this is a pretty fun CD, but I'm not sure if I'll be checking out any others by the band.

7.16.2004

Comic Book: The Movie : 3 of 5

I have no idea where this movie came from or even how it got made, but I'm glad I stumbled upon it on Netflix. Mark Hamill (yep, that's Luke Skywalker) plays a comic book geek who's hired by a Hollywood studio as a technical consultant on a big budget feature for a Golden Age character called Commander Courage. They send him and a few studio guys to the big San Diego Comic Convention, and they film the whole thing from handheld video, totally rough and ad-libbed. There are all kinds of comic book related cameos, too - Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, and other names that only fans will recognize (nearly everyone in the film is in the comics industry or an animation voice actor!). There's a great Star Wars cameo, too - Mark asks some guys if he can share their table and they wave him away, and these are the guys inside the suits who played Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Chewbacca! The whole thing is pretty silly, but strangely appealing - all of the footage at the convention itself is amazing (tons of people in costume, everyone debating fantasy issues like happy nerds), and strangely makes me want to go someday (maybe I was affected bevcause I stopped by a comic shop recently for the first time in a few years). This is definitely a low-budget production, but there are some really funny moments, and I definitely enjoyed myself watching it.

7.15.2004

Bum toe update

Here's what my crazy toe injury looked like a week ago (sorry for the gross foot shot!) - it's so much better now! Last weekend the pain seemed to go away completely, but I continued being gentle since the nail was still bent up. Today I noticed that the bend has actually gone down quite a bit, I guess from the nail growing back normally, so I was able to cut off a good portion of the nasty part. It's so amazing how the human body can heal! I think I'm going to be able to wear shoes to my Stella gig tonight, which means that Dance Dance Revolution can't be far away!

I found another WEBmikey reference - I always get excited to find these, even if they are simply automated (like this one). This site mentions fictional events that happened on certain days, and when they mentioned 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, they picked up my WEBmikey entry (actually, some service called Waypath found it).

The Terminal : 4 of 5

I decided to see this movie mainly because it seemed like a nice feel-good story from the previews, and the fact that Catherine Zeta-Jones was in it didn't hurt either. Of course, I like Spielburg's work, and Tom Hanks is definitely talented (though I don't think he should win anymore Academy Awards!), but I mainly enjoyed this film just because it was an imaginative tale with a nice ending (although I thought it was interesting that Amelia's ending wasn't a "happily ever after"). I was especially impressed with the set - it's amazing to me that they built that entire structure for the filming! The premise is certainly a little crazy, but once you accept that as fact, then the rest of the plot is a delight, combining lots of miniature subplots into a major storyline. I liked how Victor did everything possible to survive - eating crackers and condiments, learning English from travel books, and then getting a high paying job from working on a wall (out of boredom, I guess!). Amelia was an interesting, but somewhat sad, character - of course, Catherine looked wonderful (less glamour, more understated beauty). Finally, tying everything up with a jazz-centered purpose was also really cool - I left the theater feeling really happy (and it made me forget about my bum toe for awhile!).

7.14.2004

Walt Disney World Trivia Book / Louis Mongello : 3 of 5

Continuing with my Walt Disney World research reading, I thought this trivia book would be nice to get a bunch of facts rolling around in my head, and it did the trick. There are tons and tons of questions with nice, in-depth answers, organized into various sections (one general, one for each theme park, one for the resorts, and so on), and now I know all kinds of cool stuff (such as Disney shoots off $35,000 worth of fireworks every night just for Illuminations!). There are a few annoyances, however. First, all trivia books should repeat the question in the answers section, in case someone just wants to read through it (like me) - flipping back and forth is a pain. Second, there are several photos throughout the book, but none of them are actually of any Disney property (I guess because this is definitely an "unofficial" book), so you mainly see picture after picture of smiling kid faces, which is pretty generic. I didn't find anything that I knew to be inaccurate (of course, I know much more about Disneyland than I do about Walt Disney World), but there were a couple of questions repeated (just phrased differently). Regardless, this was completely fun reading while sunbathing, and I hope I can remember some of it when I visit in September!

7.13.2004

Lost in Translation : 5 of 5

I bought this DVD as soon as it was released, but it took me a long time to get around to watching it, mainly because I was swamped in Japanese II, which made me tend to avoid my usual interest in the culture. Of course, now I'm totally interested in it again, which made watching this fantastic movie again a real treat! As I said when I reviewed the theatrical release, this is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time (in fact, I'm sure it would have to be in my Top 20!). I simply love everything about it - the story (which really speaks to me), the soundtrack, the way everything is shot, and the beautiful scenes of Tokyo and Kyoto. The DVD has some great bonus material (but no director's commentary, unfortunately), including a fascinating compilation of home video shot during the making of the film. I was surprised by all of the places they shot without real permission. They were even kicked out of a restaurant at one point - the owner started unplugging lighting and things until they left! When I saw Lost in Translation at the theater, I was in Japanese I, so I could barely make out any dialogue, but now I can pick up several things that are said, and also read some of the billboards, which is fun. This is such a beautiful film, and it was so nice to watch it again and feel those feelings once more.

7.12.2004

Ringling Bros. Circus / 133nd Edition : 4 of 5

I had to continue my tradition of seeing the circus every year, especially since I was able to get an incredible close-up seat. This year was definitely better than last year, mainly because of the Globe of Death! The Globe is a steel sphere that ends up filled with motorcycles driving around at high speed, even completely horizontal and sometimes upside down. They advertised five cycles going at once, but they actually did six! I was totally screaming while they were driving around - it was amazing! Being so close made everything more exciting - seeing the tigers and hearing them growl, looking into the elephant's eyes (and smelling them), and enjoying the clowns and the dancing girls, too. The main clown was Bello, who I saw two years ago, and I think he's great - he's a very acrobatic clown and even walks tightrope. The finale (right after the Globe of Death) was Bailey's Comet - they never revealed what it actually was, but it turned out to be a human cannonball, but the guy was on fire! It was cool that they shot him right over the Globe of Death, and then he just got off the inflatable pad (which caught on fire) and just stood there burning while everyone applauded. The sheer spectacle of the whole thing, including the awesome live music, is just stupendous - I just can't help being a circus fan! To get a taste of the fun, enjoy the pics I took before the show.

View photos: Ringling Circus 2004

7.11.2004

Mahoromatic: Summer Special : 3 of 5

After the weird ending of this anime series, I was glad to find out that the animators decided to make one more episode (that falls somewhere in the middle of the series timeline) full of the goofy fun that fans loved most about the series (at least that's true for this fan!). This DVD just has one episode, so it's rather short, but I had a good time watching it! The whole plot centers around Suguru's dirty (ecchi) magazine collection, which Mahoro is always confiscating. Mahoro recruits the girls to get rid of the whole lot once and for all, so of course Suguru and the boys fight back. Suguru even recruits Slash (Mahoro's robot panther protector) to help him escape, and through a flashback we find out just why Mahoro is so bent out of shape by dirty magazines anyway! The whole thing is just a light-hearted fun time, just like my favorite episodes of the regular series. If you ask me, they should go on making silly episodes like this one - I don't think I would ever get tired of them!

7.10.2004

What an honor!

WEBmikey is registered on several blog directories, one of which is Austin Blogger. They had an "Austin's Top Blog" poll a few weeks ago, and I'm proud to say that WEBmikey took last place! Actually, I thought it was pretty funny. I didn't vote for myself, and I'm sure that no one who reads WEBmikey even knew about the voting. I'm happy with my usual number of hits per day, and I get lots of Google traffic, which is fun. Anyway, thanks for last place everyone!

My good ol' 600 MHz G3 iBook has really held up well under years of heavy daily use! Every now and then I consider getting something faster, but I'm still totally happy with my current Apple pal. The only thing that bugs me is the CD drawer loves to pop open - almost every time I set it down on a table after using it in my lap, it pops open. I think after this model they started making everything slot loading, which is so much cooler. But for now, I don't mind closing the silly thing all the time.

America's Heart and Soul : 3 of 5

I saw this movie on the 4th of July, because I knew and it would be full of positive, uplifting stories, and because it's a Disney film, of course. I wasn't sure how good it would be, but it was even better than I expected! The film is made of 25 segments, each one focusing on a person or group of people, all of them from different parts of the country and extremely diverse in every way, along with tons of beautiful photography. There are cowboys, gospel singers, farmers, aerobatic pilots, a struggling rock band, firefighters, bicycle messengers, wine makers, and even a blind mountain climber (who achieves Everest in the film!) from everywhere from California to New York, and lots of smaller communities in between. Unfortunately, the theme song is by John Cougar Mellancamp, whom I could definitely do without, but at least it's not one of his worst efforts. I really enjoyed that the whole movie is told through sound bites of the people being showcased - there is no additional narration. Best of all, this movie achieves its purpose of instilling pride in the American spirit, and does it without any political argument whatsoever. This is the kind of film that inspires me to see life as a gift and to live it with joy!

7.09.2004

Muppet Treasure Island : 3 of 5

OK, now I've finally seen all five of the Muppet feature films. I discovered this movie at the very end, and I didn't even know it was a Disney picture until I watched it! This time the Muppets are all cast in a crazy version of Treasure Island, which actually stays fairly true to the story even though there's plenty of crazy gags along the way. I loved how they found roles for even the Muppets that seem out of place - Waldorf and Stadler (from the Muppet Show balcony) end up as wooden sculptures on the ship's bow, and the Swedish Chef cooks a feast for the natives on the island, who all worship Benjamina Gunn (they had to get Miss Piggy in somewhere!). There's also a gang of vacationing rats on the trip, who have lots of funny scenes as typical cruising tourists. Tim Curry does a fine job as Long John Silver, and the kid who plays Jim Hawkins is pretty good (though his singing voice is so high it sounds ridiculous!). There are some really funny musical numbers - my favorite was Cabin Fever, where everyone goes crazy on the ship and a huge calypso party erupts! It's cool that Gonzo has a big role as one of Jim's pals, but I think Fozzie gets cheated - all he does is act stupid and talk to his invisible friend who lives in his finger. Anyway, this was a fun film to end the Muppet movie series!

7.08.2004

Beach House / Hed Kandi : 4 of 5

Several years ago when I was listening to Echo internet radio, I heard some songs from the Disco Kandi series and bought a few CDs. I was immediately hooked, but it's been tough to collect them since they are produced by an British label called Hed Kandi, which is tough to find imported at a decent price. A couple of weeks ago Tower Records had a 25%-off all imports sale, so I went crazy and ordered the rest of the series, plus this Beach House compilation, since it seemed like a nice set to listen to in the summer sun. I'm glad I ordered it - these are some nice, groovy, mellow but not too mellow tunes, and they're wonderful to listen to while driving, reading, or falling asleep in the sun. Several of the tracks have a latin feel (but all of them maintain a slightly dance or house feel) - I could listen to some of them (such as Cruisin' by Can 7) all day. As with the other Hed Kandi releases, this is a two CD set in a very cool case held together with a magnet, with awesome graphic design and cool fine print such as "Always play in direct sunlight". I can't wait to listen to the other sets I bought - they should keep me going quite a while!

7.07.2004

Foot irony

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs for my feet. I played Dance Dance Revolution first thing in the morning on my new dance pad, and I was really cooking. In fact, I scored my first 1,000 step combo - that's literally 1,000 near-perfect steps in a row, so I was really psyched! But then last night, my mini foot tragedy struck. I was loading up my drums after band rehearsal, and some how I swung around my biggest, heaviest bag right into my big toenail (I was wearing sandals, of course). Somehow it completely missed my actual toe and just caught the nail! It actually bent my toenail horizontally, so now the tip of my toenail is sticking straight up, revealing some of the painful mushy toe exposed underneath. Totally gross! All I can do is keep it clean (I'm using peroxide and antibiotic ointment) and bandaged for now - when it grows out a little I can cut off the bent portion. I just hope it heals and grows fast, because now I can't wear shoes (besides sandals) or play DDR. Boo hoo!

7.06.2004

Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful Vol 3 : 3 of 5

This is the last volume of this lovely series (sniff!), so now I've seen the dreaded ending that I read so much about. Yes, it was definitely bizarre, jarring, unexpected, and sad, but I have to say that it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. This volume has five episodes to finish the storyline, so I thought there might be some lighthearted subplot to get things warmed up, but instead, it jumps right into the final arc that will end the whole saga. First, Minawa has to finish her mission for Management, which involves kidnapping Suguru, so there's a huge battle and escape that covers a couple of episodes. Mahoro and Suguru go on the run, but they are found and Mahoro has to sacrifice herself to save Suguru (I know, I should have made a spoiler warning!). Suddenly, the final episode jumps 20 years into the future, and cute little glasses-wearing Suguru is now a bitter cyborg bounty hunter! Talk about a shock! However, all of the loose ends with Saint and Vesper are pretty much resolved, and we discover Mahoro is much more than anyone expected. The final scene does bring some happiness back to the story, and considering how much fun I had watching the other episodes, I can't really be disappointed. Still, why do most anime series have to end so weird?

7.05.2004

The Art of Hercules: The Chaos of Creation : 4 of 5

Continuing with my Disney art books craze, this one covers the talent and effort that went into making one of Disney's most "stylized" films. The text of this book is quite a bit different from the last few art books I've read, since it's presently almost entirely in an interview style - tons and tons of quotes from many folks who worked on the film, especially the two directors. The interviews are filled in with quotes and jokes from the characters of the film, which is kind of clever, but kind of silly, too (but they get across the point of the chaotic process of making this movie!). The artwork is fantastic, of course, with a good balance of sketches, animation clean-up, backgrounds, and production stills, and everything looks incredible on the book's giant pages (on nice thick paper with cloth binding, too!). The most interesting aspect was the use of Gerald Scarfe as production designer, whose dramatic artwork was used by the animators to create a truly unique style for the film. There are wonderful pages of his original drawings that seem so bizarre (yet cool) when you compare them to the finished Disney characters, but you can still see how his techniques influenced the eventually design. Of course, I have to watch this movie again now to enjoy the results!

7.04.2004

Enjoying the weekend

Happy 4th of July, everyone! This is the first year in a long while that my pals haven't organized any kind of get-together, but my pal Ernesto and I will still be hanging out eating BBQ and watching TV. Needless to say, I've had a fantastic weekend so far, and it's not over yet, since I have the day off tomorrow (thanks, boss!). So far I've spent plenty of time relaxing with books and DVDs, but I've also been productive - I hung another section of PEZ shelves for my growing collection, plus some really huge Disney artwork that I had framed recently. I now have a New Orleans Square wall in my loft, with prints from the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, plus the awesome Pirates plaque (shown here) that I won on eBay! I also decided to go to Greenhouse Mall, where I bought my patio furniture over five years ago, just on the off-chance they might have a lounge to go with it. I couldn't believe it, but they did, and it was on sale! So, now I have a fancy iron lounge chair in my backyard so I can get some sun in style - I've used it the past few days, of course!

More Walt Disney World planning news: I'm so excited there will be a showing of SpectroMagic, the fantastic fiber-optic parade in the Magic Kingdom, while I'm there! I didn't think there would be, so I had to switch around some of my days on my itinerary to fit it in, and change some reservations, too, but now it's all set! I also decided to ask Disney reservations about a AAA discount, and now I'm saving $300 bucks on our room at the Grand Floridian. So cool!

Walt Disney World Countdown: 78 days!

7.03.2004

Spider-Man 2 : 4 of 5

The Spider-Man series of movies (which I hope will continue a long time) is shaping up to be the most authentic (at least regarding the "feel" - I have to ignore the fact that Gwen Stacy has been rolled into Mary Jane) compared to the original comic book, which is fantastic! I was psyched to see that Doctor Octopus would be the villain back when the teaser trailer was released, and now that I've seen the whole movie, they couldn't have made a better choice. The effects are awesome, of course, with just enough of an over-the-top style to keep that comic book fantasy feel, but with enough realism to make you feel like it really could be happening. There is a weird sub-plot that involves Peter losing his powers - I thought it was kind of silly and never really explained, but at least it doesn't detract from the story too much. Tons of people find out Spidey's secret identity in this one, which was unexpected to me, but in general the plot is fun and moves quickly (even though the movie is over two hours). To a comic book fan, it was cool that they introduced Professor Connors (who will later become the Lizard) and John Jameson (who will later become Man-Wolf) - they are totally setting things up for plenty of other films. Spider-Man 3 will definitely feature Hobgoblin, though - this movie made that perfectly clear!

7.02.2004

Disney stamps

Did everyone go to the post office to buy the new Disney stamps last week? I bought two sheets of them - one to keep (and possibly frame), and one to use on greeting cards (which is about the only thing I use stamps for anymore). I think the portraits on the stamps are really cool - I'm glad they went with the classic Mickey (it's all about the eyes).

Last weekend I finished making all of my reservations for my upcoming Walt Disney World trip with my parents, including restaurants (3 character meals!), a fireworks cruise, a fishing excursion, and even Cirque du Soleil tickets! Now the trip is less than three months away, so I'm getting super-excited. Today is a big day, because Disney finally released the park hours and entertainment schedules for September. This means that I might want to move around some of my schedule, but I don't mind - it's always fun planning for a Disney trip!

Here are some interesting numbers:
  • This is my 1,698th post on WEBmikey!
  • I have logged 4,449,545 steps on my SportBrain!
  • I'm going to Walt Disney World in only 80 days!
  • 7.01.2004

    Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines : 5 of 5

    This set was certainly the most anticipated of this latest wave of Walt Disney Treasures DVDs, since nearly all of the included material has never been released before (in fact, some of it was classified when it was produced!). During World War II, the US government called upon the Disney studio to make literally hundreds of films for military training and public education, and of course, the studio made lots of morale boosting films in which the famous Disney characters experience life in the army firsthand. These shorts range from funny (with Pluto battling Chip and Dale in a gun turret) to disturbing (including lots of Japanese stereotypes, as well as chilling scenes of Nazi children) to completely boring (such as detailed instructions on flush riveting or the cleaning of an anti-tank rifle!). This set also includes the full length feature Victory Through Air Power, which Walt wanted to make to help convince the military that long-range bombers (as well as forming the Air Force as a separate military branch) were the key to winning the war (and apparently the film did help!). I was completely fascinated while watching these films, no matter if the subject was Minnie saving bacon grease to make munitions or the semi-disgusting animations of how mosquitos carry malaria. I have no idea what it was like to live in those times, but I'm sure that these Disney films did their best to help everyone cope.