4.30.2006

Don Giovanni / Austin Lyric Opera : 4 of 5

Austin Lyric Opera ended this season with one of my favorite operas, Mozart's Don Giovanni. It's a wonderful opera because it has a little bit of everything, from comedy to romance, with just a dash of walking, talking statue from Hell! I was really impressed with both the vocal and acting work, especially from Leporello, Don Giovanni's comedy relief servant, who has the honor of singing the "list aria" that everyone loves - his physical comedy was simply excellent! Zerlina was quite beautiful, which always makes seduction scenes more compelling. The sets and lighting were interesting, since they used fairly minimal walls that could be raised and lowered from the ceiling, along with large paintings, but this was just enough to really convey the feel of different locations or rooms. The transition to the ballroom was particularly good, which actually used some house lighting to make the audience feel that we were all in the ballroom. Musically, the performances were solid, although I thought some of the conducting was a little fast (based on the recordings I listen to often), especially the overture. I've seen Don Giovanni a few times before, and as usual, I think the last scene seems completely non-essential, but at least this performance made it light-hearted, almost like they agreed with me. It was a great opera, and I'm looking forward to next season!

4.29.2006

Picture of the Morning Musume 3 / Single M Clips : 4 of 5

Now that I've been ordering music video DVDs from Japan, I guess it was inevitable that I had to see some Morning Musume, so I chose this DVD that had several hits that I enjoyed on their Best Vol 2 CD. My initial reaction when I watched it the first time was "Gosh, these gals are young", but after watching several more times, I was overwhelmed by the cuteness. Watching Morning Musume sing with their super-smiling faces definitely transforms my mood into a happy state of bliss! The DVD begins with the worst video of the bunch, since I really don't want to see them dressed up as pirates - girls with mustaches just aren't cool. As for One Day is one of my favorite songs, and the video is pretty cool (they do tons of lighting effects to make their eyes sparkle), but it's not my favorite on the DVD. That honor goes to Ai Araba - It's All Right, which features everyone in cute outfits doing a super-happy dance number (I think every adjective describing Morning Musume has to start with "super"). I also love Go Girl - Koi no Victory, because each girl gets a little scene where the camera focuses on them and they look embarrassed. Joshi Kanamashi Monogatari is also hilarious, with the whole thing set in a train. Since these videos cover several years, you get to see members come and go. Now I definitely know which members I think are duds, and which ones make me sigh. I think I should buy some more DVDs to confirm my findings!

4.28.2006

Late Lent report

I almost forgot to mention that I observed Lent this year by once again giving to a bunch of charities. Since I was traveling to Ohio on Easter, it kind of seemed like Lent just faded away, rather than ending with a celebration, but Grandma's funeral turned out to be such a positive experience that it was even more special and personal. I gave to most of the same charities that I did last year, with a few changes. Thanks to being able to search WEBmikey, it made it really easy to find who I gave to before. I love being able to use my own website to remember things that I would otherwise forget! So, here are this year's links (so I can remember them next year):

4.27.2006

Star Wars / Clone Wars Vol 2 : 4 of 5

This DVD has all the right things going for it, since I'm a Star Wars fan, a Genndy Tartakovsky fan, and already a fan of this show, after watching it all on Cartoon Network (and gushing over the first DVD of this series). Just like before, it was cool to watch all of the episodes back to back with only one set of opening titles and one set of credits at the end, since they really do become a great movie that adds so much to the Star Wars saga! The connections with the Lucas films are pretty amazing - of course, it felt great to see Revenge of the Sith on opening day, knowing why Grievous was coughing while everyone else was wondering. The commentary really stands out, since it shows what sincere Star Wars fans the animators are - they truly revere the Star Wars universe and wanted to create something "worthy", and they definitely succeeded (in spite of incredible deadlines, which they pushed to the limit - Episode 5 was delivered the day before it aired!). The use of CG in the ship models is really well done, and I love how the animators were able to push the Lucas designs with various modifications and paint jobs, such as the totally cool Tiger Shark face on the Arc Trooper transport! They also really scored with the Stormtrooper boarding party that jets between ships in space - these guys are full of fantastic ideas. In my opinion, the Clone Wars series is definitely part of the "blessed" continuum, so if you haven't bought these DVDs, you know what to do. (And yes, I bought and watched this a long time ago - I'm just way behind on reviewing things!)

4.26.2006

8 Films & More / BoA : 5 of 5

After watching the DVD of music videos that came with BoA's latest CD Outgrow over and over, I decided to look around YesAsia to get some more! I was excited to discover this DVD, which is a compilation of eight music videos of BoA's most popular hits, starting way back with her first hit in Japan, ID;Peace B (yep, that's a pretty weird title). She's really young on the early videos, but she can still dance up a storm, and her moves are so athletic and cool! It's fun to watch her hair change length and color over the years, too, including a strawberry blonde color on Amazing Kiss, which is cute but unusual on her. I think my favorite video on the DVD is for Listen to My Heart, which has some great dancing and some humor, since the whole thing has a hair salon theme (dancing with hair dryers and so on)! Of course, I was psyched to see the videos from her Valenti CD, since that's the CD that got me hooked, and they are definitely cool. Jewel Song is my favorite ballad, but unfortunately I think they used a few too many video effects, but it's still beautiful. I think she looks the most elegant and peaceful on Every Heart, by the way. Anyway, enough of my gushing - this DVD is an excellent collection of videos with high production values, and I've watched it many, many times. If you're a BoA fan, you definitely owe it to yourself to buy this DVD!

4.25.2006

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind : 5 of 5

On my trip to Los Angeles, I took the final two volumes of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and I read Vol 6 on the way, and then the massive Vol 7 (it's almost twice as long as the other books!) on the way home. I really enjoyed this entire series! Of course, Miyazaki's own artwork is simply fantastic, full of incredible action and emotional content - it's amazing to me that someone so respected for his animation also took the time and effort to produce such a long and incredible manga. I really enjoyed the color fold-outs in each volume (although Vol 7 doesn't have one), since not only do they have a great image of Nausicaa herself, but they include a cool map or diagram on the back. The story is so much more sweeping and immense then that I ever could have imagined after watching the anime (although I do want to watch it again now!). I really enjoyed Nausicaa's long "dream sequence" when she's in a kind of coma, since the images she sees of newly restored and healthy nature are so wonderful. Her interaction as the "mother" of the huge god warrior is also touching and so cool - this entire concept was completely removed from the anime (which really only covers the first two volumes, but includes a few quick takes from the rest of the story for completeness, I suppose). This entire series is beautiful and amazing, and I feel refreshed and happy from finishing it!

4.24.2006

Star-studded vacation

Last weekend I had a truly fantastic mini-vacation in Los Angeles with my pal Dae! We started things off right with the usual trip to Disneyland, where the park was full of Spring Break madness. It was probably the most crowded I've seen, but we worked the Fastpass system and kept the right attitude, so we ended up having an awesome time and still riding 18 attractions! I had my first frozen banana, which was delicious, and finally got to ride the Jungle Cruise in total night-time darkness, which is a very cool experience.

The next day we did some more Disney-geek activities. First, we ate at the Tam O'Shanter Inn, a Scottish-themed restaurant that's been around since 1922, because Walt Disney and his animators used to eat there often. The atmosphere and food was great, and there were some original Disney sketches on the wall, including some artwork by John Hench. They gave us a free dessert since we were first-timers, too! After lunch we made the ultimate Disney geek pilgrimage to Forest Lawn to see Walt's grave. The grounds were beautiful, and it was neat to see Walt's "hidden garden", plus lots of other celebrities (like George Burns and Nat King Cole) in Freedom Mausoleum. After that, we took the amazing Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour, which is really fun, since you get to walk around the actual backlot, rather than sit on a tram all day. We stumbled on some actual filming going on, too! The plan for the night was "drinks and Pink's", so we hit the Lava Lounge, a really cool small club where we saw a couple great bands, then had chili dogs at the famous Pink's, which had a 45-minute wait at 1:00 AM (all part of the experience)!

The last day (after sleeping in), we had awesome In-N-Out burgers, then drove to Pasadena to tour the Gamble House, which was an incredible example of Arts & Crafts architecture. We walked around in Pasadena a little, had a beer, then went home to change for our Hollywood dinner! On the way, we stopped in Secret Stash, a pretty famous comic book shop owned by Kevin Smith, and then it was on to dinner at Spago, Wolfgang Puck's first and most famous restaurant! About five minutes after waiting in the bar, Larry King and his wife walked right past us, and then we spotted Keanu Reeves, too! We asked our waitress about the Chef's Taster Menu, but they were too busy to offer it. But since we asked, they decided to give us three mini-appetizers for free (all incredible)! I had a great piece of salmon and nice wine, Dae had some fantastic duck, and we both had awesome desserts, too (I had my first chocolate souffle, which was indescribably good).

The whole trip was really fun - I always like visiting LA, but this was an especially cool visit! To add to my star spottings, Quentin Tarantino was on my plane back to Austin, too (apparently shooting something here). Can you believe it?

View photos: Disneyland
View photos: Warner Bros. tour
View photos: More Los Angeles

4.19.2006

Return to Ohio

I've been in Ohio for the past few days for my Grandma's funeral. My parents and I were really lucky with our last-minute travel arrangements, and it was nice to be together (as always), and the funeral was a really positive experience, since everyone loved Grandma so much. The best thing about the trip for me was getting re-acquainted with my Dad's side of the family again. I used to go to Ohio once a year with my parents, so as a child I was really close to all my cousins and aunts and uncles, but since I've grown older I've only kept up with them with Christmas cards and news from Mom & Dad. So, it was wonderful to see everyone again! It was great to meet all of my cousin's kids for the first time - it was really fun to talk with Emma & Ashton (Tom Bill & Jill's kids) and teach them some Japanese words, too. Even though it was a reverent occasion, I was really thankful for the chance to be together with everyone in the family.

View photos: Ohio visit

4.15.2006

Chicken Little : 3 of 5

Even though I wasn't totally impressed with Disney's first CGI animated feature, of course I still had to buy the DVD, and it was definitely fun seeing it again. Once again, I have plenty of mixed opinions, but I tried to notice new things to enjoy (besides the ending "movie inside the movie", which is the best part of the entire film!). This time I noticed that the various close-ups of the characters were really well done, with nice detail and lighting, and plenty of subtle emotion. I was also impressed with Gary Marshall's voice work as Chicken Little's dad - it's so natural! Unfortunately, I still think the movie has too many pop references, and the whole plot shifts into War of the Worlds mode far too quickly. Anyway, the DVD has some nice deleted scenes, many in almost fully-rendered 3D (probably because the plot had some sudden changes during production), and it was nice to see just what Chicken Little as a girl would have looked like. There are several opening sequences, including a super-long one that involves a cooking show (of all things)! The obligatory documentary is way too short (but then again, I always complain about that!), but the silly little game was kind of fun this time around. It's always nice to have a new Disney DVD, but I'm hoping that the future holds much better movies for Disney!

4.14.2006

The Rub Rabbits / Nintendo DS : 4 of 5

This game is the sequel to the incredible Feel the Magic, which I enjoyed playing so much, and the style of these games is the main reason that I love owning a Nintendo DS! Once again, the plot of this game involves trying to impress a girl to fall in love with you, and so you have to complete tons of mini-games (around 40 this time) to keep the plot moving. The story has a fun twist this time around, since there's another girl after you as well! The graphic design is just as cool and colorful as before, all of the animation is incredible, and the music is nice, too (although one particular song does get really old after a while). The games are all clever, and lots of them involve holding the DS sideways or upside down - there are a few repeats from Feel the Magic (here come the bulls again!), but lots of clever "love" games, too (like wooing the girl with roses, putting together some sea-shell clothes for her on a remote island, and don't forget the massage in the dark). I think all of the charm of the original game is here, but my only complaint is they actually made it a little too easy. The original game made me work for it several times, but there was really only one game that was tough this time around, so I finished it too quickly. There's a fun mini-story that you get to play when you finish (where you get to be the "loser" girl who makes a robot guy to keep her company), so at least that's a nice bonus. It's fun listening to the main title song, too, since it still sings the original Japanese title, which is Where Do Babies Come From? Pretty funny!

4.13.2006

Artistic acheivements

Two of my pals had some amazing "firsts" this week! Last Saturday, my pal Francis had his first gig of his new solo music project (featuring the songs on his No Less Days CD). They played at Borders, which was a nice environment, since it was easy to enjoy the band, talk with old friends (Conrad was there with his awesome kids), and browse Kanji books at the same time! My pal Chris is in the band also, so it was really nice to see my friends put on a great show!

A few days later in Japan, my pal Matt opened his first gallery exhibit of his super-cool photography! The theme of the show is Life on a Japanese Train (read Matt's description of the theme), and he did a fantastic job of covering all kinds of ages and walks of life in these images. I'm so happy that he's taken his photography talent to the next level, and I'm sure it's just the beginning.

View photos: Francis' gig
View photos: Matt's exhibit

4.12.2006

Remembering Grandma

Today I found out that my Grandma passed away. For the past few weeks everyone in the family knew her health was failing, but she was 97 years old, so she lived an incredibly long and full life. I know she was a wonderful mom to my Dad and my aunts, but to me she was everything a grandma could be. Even though it doesn't seem like much, when you're a little boy and your grandma bakes the best pies in the world, always puts crisp dollar bills in your birthday card, and even hides 50-cent pieces under your plate at Christmas dinner, those actions start to form your opinion and love of the world and life in general. I'm so thankful for Grandma, and all of my relatives, who gave me this gift. I also have no doubt that her constant prayer has had a big influence on my life and all the other lives she touched.

Next week I'll be traveling for the funeral in Ohio, and then strangely enough, traveling to Los Angeles just a couple days later (since the trip was planned months ago). This will give me the opportunity to experience one of the best things about Disneyland - I love it because I have been there with people I love who are no longer here. I know that when I stand in front of the castle, that I have stood there with Grandmother (my mom's mother), Uncle Glenn, Grandpa, and now Grandma, too (this photo is Grandma and Grandpa at Disneyland around 1970). I'll definitely be thinking of them, now and always.

4.11.2006

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore : 4 of 5

I haven't bought a collection of comic book stories in quite a while, but I saw this book reviewed on the Attack of the Show podcast, and it seemed like it would be cool to read some good ol' superhero stories by this famous DC storyteller. Since all of the stories are by one author, there are a wide variety of artists here, all with very different styles, some of which I think are great, and others that bore me. For the most part, though, everything is fantastic, and of course the stories are amazing. The Killing Joke, one of the best Batman/Joker stories ever invented, is saved for last, complete with a flashback of the Joker's origin, the shooting of Barbara Gordon (which ends her Batgirl career), and some truly incredible illustrations. The famous Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow is also included, which was a "possible" end to Superman's hero work, and it's really fun to read (even if the end is predictable). I also really enjoyed For the Man Who Has Everything, since it was made into an animated Justice League episode, and many of the other obscure stories, featuring folks like Green Arrow and even Swamp Thing. The Vigilante story is my least favorite (along with the artwork), but it was still cool to read a character's story that I'm not very familiar with. Since reading this book, I've seen plenty of other mentions of it, and folks are always reading it at the bookstore, so it must be something you should pick up!

4.10.2006

Kanji de Manga Vol 1 : 2 of 5

I picked up this little book before I started studying for the JLPT, but soon realized that it was pretty handy, since it covers the exact set of kanji that you're expected to know for the Level 4 test that I'll be taking. It's a pretty simple concept - each page covers a single kanji, includes the various readings and a few compound words, and then has a panel or two of manga to illustrate the use of the kanji. Even though it was fun to read through it all, I don't think it's really that useful for studying. I like the overview kanji chart and the general meanings, but the major portion of each page is the manga, and in my opinion, the examples aren't that great! My major complaint is the type of language they use is so informal and slang-ish that I can barely recognize the verb conjugations - I don't think folks reading this beginning kanji book will be familiar with these forms! I guess they just wanted to maintain a manga "style" - when I read them out loud it definitely sounds like anime dialogue. Still, it was great to get an overview of the first kanji set. I think I'd like something a little more academic, but still interesting and fun - I'm not sure if I'll continue with this set of books or not.

4.09.2006

Shave of the future

It seems like most of my electronic gadgets are on a two-year upgrade cycle (which means I buy a new one!), and I guess that includes my razor. Recently the foil in my old Braun shaver developed a small tear, which was just enough to give me a yucky cut on my lip, and since I had already replaced it once, I figured it was time to get the new tech! I bought the Braun 8585 Activator, which has the funky self-cleaning station. I always thought that was kind of gimicky, but now that I've used it, I'm a believer! The razor itself is fantastic - I'm getting much closer shaves now, and it feels great. Then when I finish, I put the razor into the station, which immediately charges it up (so it's always at full power for each shave), and then "reads" the razor to see how much it needs to be cleaned. Every couple days I press the button, and it flushes out the head with special cleaning solution, and even heats it up to dry it - it's like the razor is always brand new! For the past few days I've actually looked forward to my morning shave - I guess I love all new gadgets equally.

4.08.2006

Mamma Mia / Las Vegas : 4 of 5

I decided my parents and I should see a different show each night for our recent Las Vegas trip, and since I know they love Broadway productions, I thought Mamma Mia would be a good choice, since I enjoyed it when it came to Austin. Mom & Dad initially couldn't think of any ABBA songs except for Dancing Queen, but I knew they would remember many more once they heard them in the show, and they did! Since I bought the tickets so far in advance, we were able to snag first row - it made it really wonderful to see the performers' faces, as well as the musicians and the director (which Dad really enjoyed). The show was fantastic - I thought that Sophie was incredibly cute (complete with dimples), even though her voice wasn't so fantastic (but still good). Donna (the mother) had the best voice of all, and was really able to sing with emotion on The Winner Takes It All. We ended up sitting next to a Mamma Mia "groupie" - she said she had seen the show over 200 times, and she knew everyone in the cast! I was surprised that at the end of the show during the Dancing Queen reprise, the Las Vegas audience was too lazy to get up and dance a little - in Austin the whole theater was up on their feet! Oh well, it was still a show full of energy and a ton of fun!

4.07.2006

Combo earbuds

I'm so glad that Daylight Saving Time has kicked in, because now in the evening I have time get some great sun and unwind. It's long been an after-work ritual of mine to have a beer, listen to my iPod, and enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face - I just love it! I usually listen to my iPod shuffle when I'm out and about, and I've finally found my "ultimate" earbud solution. I'm definitely not a headphone audiophile - I just want them to stay in my funny-shaped ear holes and sound good! I used to use my Sony MDR-EX71SL earbuds, but I hate the bizarre "cord on the side" design, especially the extension connector, which always weighs down the cord and yanks the bud out of my ear. So, I switched to the Apple In-Ear Headphones a while back, and I love their design. However, the rubber bud coverings had a tendency to pop out too much, even though the cord situation was good. Finally, I read somewhere that someone with the same problem took the Sony rubber coverings and put them on the Apple headphones, and I have been happy ever since! They really stay in great, and the Apple cord is super - it has a slider that keeps the buds together when you aren't wearing them. I've also become crazy about never wrapping my cord - I always fold it now. It really helps to keep it from getting wild!

4.06.2006

Ice Age: The Meltdown : 4 of 5

It's kind of amazing how many CG animation films are coming out lately - it will be interesting to see which studios stay in the game as the public gets overloaded! Of course, I can never get enough, so I try to see everything. I really enjoyed the original Ice Age, so it was great to see all the characters again in this sequel. Animation-wise, I can't really compare this movie to the style of the original, but it seemed to me like all the textures were much richer (especially fur), and I really liked the water and ice transparency effects (but why did the some of the fire look so amateur?). Since the voice actors are pretty big stars, you get what you would expect - John Leguizamo is definitely the best, since Sid's voice is so unique, and Queen Latifah was certainly the worst (I don't think she really knows how to creatively over-act for voice work!). The story is really good, with a long journey to a "boat" that will save the animals from the ice-melting flood, and a fantastic exciting action finale that really had me jumping! I still think they should make an entire movie about the adventures of Scrat (the hilarious little saber-tooth bug-eyed fluffy guy), but it was nice to see the plot feature him so well! I think I'll definitely consider buying a set of both movies on DVD sometime.

4.05.2006

Coincidence or conspiracy?

My favorite late night food is french fries with a chocolate shake. My favorite late night cartoon is Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I don't think it ever occurred to me before, but at the time when I start to crave a shake and fries, I am watching a freakin' talking milkshake and fries on my TV! Whoa! I already had my addiction before the Aqua Teens started, but the synchronicity is uncanny!

I added a couple new links to my permanent Links page. When I first made that page my pal Dae's Crunch Machine site slipped my mind, but he definitely deserves a link to all that lovely Java work! I've also added a link to my pal Jerry's blog, because I really enjoy reading about his fascinating life as a previsualization artist (and I like to brag that I actually know someone who has an IMDB listing). Both of these pals are really inspiring to me, because they left a previous career path, did the hard work to learn something new, and then totally succeeded in their new lives!

4.04.2006

Eleanor Rigby / Douglas Coupland : 4 of 5

Every time I read a Douglas Coupland novel I think to myself, "Why did I wait so long to read this amazing book?" This time I was waiting for this story to come out in paperback, but my pal Ernesto spoiled me by getting it for me for my birthday (thank you, Amazon Wish List!). For me, reading Coupland is like getting together with an old friend that I know everything about, but I've never met. His writing is so wonderful - everything is described well (without being boring), and dramatic moments are balanced perfectly with hilarious dialogue. He usually writes in first person style, and I'm always amazed at how he can transform his "voice" into new characters - in this case, an overweight, lonely woman. As usual, the plot goes quickly from everyday mundane life into some incredible twists that prove life is unpredictable - ranging from meeting her son for the first time to being arrested in Frankfurt as a terrorist! There are some wonderful internal monologues about living alone, and fantastic memories told just like you were listening to someone's dinner conversation. The characters are all interesting, not only Liz (the storyteller), but her family, her son, and even the mystery people she meets in Europe (sorry, can't reveal too much!). I'm so glad that I discovered Coupland so long ago and became a fan - I definitely won't wait as long to read his new book!

4.03.2006

Mellow and full of fun

I had a really nice weekend, doing stuff I love to do (however mellow it may seem!). I played a great gig with the Greatest American Heroes on Friday - the crowd was huge and fun, with plenty of dancing, and I had a blast. On Saturday I got my haircut, and I decided to go shorter (basically as short as you can go with scissors only), and it really makes me feel "light". I spent a while at Barnes & Noble since I had a coupon that was about to expire, so I got another Japanese book I had on my list. I ate a veggie sandwich there, too, since I needed to go grocery shopping, and the last time I went to the grocery store when I was hungry I bought donuts and lots of instant macaroni & cheese (I was smarter this time, and stuck to my list). I watched Riding Giants on DVD (something I bought a long time ago after renting it), and it made me feel so energetic that I played DDR for an hour straight. I also discovered that I can exclude individual songs from Endless Mode, which is great since there are three songs that I only pass 50/50, so without them I'm guaranteed I can dance as long as I want and pass everything! On Sunday I had a great time at church, did a few hours of JLPT studying, sat in the sun and read NewType, then my usual pals came over for The Sopranos. After they left, I had to see the season premiere of Robot Chicken, but then I fell asleep on the couch (my usual MO).

Today I woke up at 7:30, which was the exact time I was supposed to be at my car maintenance appointment (inspection time), so I just changed shirts and wore a cap and made it there in 10 minutes! I was going to go home and shower at lunch, but my pals Ryan, Chris & Barron were all going to Dave & Busters since it's the first day of baseball season, so I had to go. I danced to my favorite songs on Pump It Up and we played lots of trivia, too. I finally got my shower after work, and it felt great!

4.02.2006

Level 1 ga owarimashita

I like supplimenting my Japanese study with Rosetta Stone, since I like how computer-based test are all planned out for you with immediate feedback. Last night I finally finished the complete Level 1 package, which is about 90 lessions (I always do two of the testing styles on each lesson)! Of course, this is way behind what I thought it would take me - I started Rosetta Stone in November 2004! But, I usually only do one lesson a week since I have so many other avenues of study. I went back and took the review test on each unit and made sure I could score over 90% - it really gives me confidence in my listening ability! I already have Level 2 installed and ready to go, so I'm looking forward to whatever new language concepts are in store.

Barry Manilow / Music & Passion : 4 of 5

I remember singing Barry Manilow songs in grade school music class, so even though I'm not a diehard fan, I still know all the words to most of Barry's hits, so I was pretty interested to see his Las Vegas show. Now, that I've seen it, I'm really impressed with him! Not only is he an incredible performer, who really expresses his love of music and his fans, but I have a new appreciation for his songwriting, especially his lyrics (and he's definitely king of the key-change)! Barry is a bit more expensive than other Vegas shows, so when I was booking everything back in December, I opted for "medium" level tickets - we had a great view of the show, though, and there are giant video screens on stage for close-ups. Barry did lots of mini-melodies of his big hits, and plugged his new album by doing some nice 50s songs, too. My favorite segment was watching his first television performance on The Midnight Special in the 70s (where he looked about 14 years old and 97 pounds) - Barry sang with "himself" on the video, doing harmonies and counter-melodies, for a great version of Mandy. The whole audience was given glow-sticks on the way in, so the theater was definitely lit up during I Write the Songs. The finale was a huge Copacabana production, complete with a giant staircase that came down from the ceiling so Barry could walk out over the audience, and a weird hip-hop segment in the middle of the song (proving Barry has a great sense of humor about his own compositions!). It was an incredible show, and my parents and I loved it!

4.01.2006

Ten Cool Tunes 04.2006

I listen to a ton of music each day - in my car, at work, and nearly every waking hour at home! I don't always get a chance to review each CD I get (though hopefully I eventually get to most of them), but I still would like to capture what I enjoy here on WEBmikey. So, I've decided to start a new project (hopefully it will last) of creating a quick playlist of Ten Cool Tunes each month. Most of these should be from CDs that are new to my collection, since they're fresh in my mind, but I'm also going to throw in other "hits" (based on my iTunes ratings) no matter how old they are. I'll be making each list into an iMix on the iTunes Music Store, so you can sample if you're curious and buy if you like it! Unfortunately, only some of each list will be available in iTunes, since my list is always going to include some J-Pop that they don't have (maybe someday!).

04.2006 iMix (Song / Album / Artist)
  • Taste My Skin / Taste My Beat / Anna Tsuchiya
  • Takishimeru / Outgrow / BoA
  • Thinking of You / Thinking of You (Single) / Kumiko Kato
  • Stars Above Us / Tales from Turnpike House / Saint Etienne
  • On the Dance Floor / Rotten Love / Levy
  • Bad Habits / I Am / Michael Tolcher
  • Only You / 39 Minutes of Bliss / Caesars
  • Fat and Proud / Schmack / Steriogram
  • Technologic / Human After All / Daft Punk
  • 11:11 / Want One / Rufus Wainwright