12.31.2004

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.

12.30.2004

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!

12.29.2004

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

12.28.2004

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.

12.26.2004

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.

12.24.2004

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!

12.23.2004

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!

12.22.2004

PJ-day

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!

12.21.2004

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.

    12.20.2004

    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!

    12.19.2004

    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!

    12.17.2004

    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!

    12.16.2004

    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!

    12.15.2004

    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!

    12.14.2004

    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

    12.13.2004

    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!

    12.12.2004

    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

    12.11.2004

    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!

    12.10.2004

    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!

    12.09.2004

    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!

    12.08.2004

    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).

    12.06.2004

    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!

    12.05.2004

    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!

    12.03.2004

    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.

    12.02.2004

    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!

    12.01.2004

    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!