"Just because you have a sticker does not mean you will get a Wii! Just because you don't have a sticker doesn't mean you won't get a Wii!" Several dozen fellow geeks and I were being led kindergarten-style into the Wal-Mart electronics department for a midnight purchase of Nintendo's newest video-gaming wonder. I have a long history of buying quirky and unsuccessful gadgets: the TI-99/4A, Apple IIgs, Amiga 1200, and Sega Dreamcast have all graced my home. I guess Nintendo heard that my purchase is the kiss of death for a new console, because after three anxious hours, the guy in line two people ahead of me made off with the last of the slim white boxes.
Thankfully, there was none of the Lord of the Flies savagery that accompanied the previous night's PlayStation 3 release (though the lucky owners were escorted to their cars for safety). Undaunted, I started make the rounds of the local big-box stores. Target, Circuit City, Best Buy, Costco — all picked clean. Finally, the milling crowd outside a Toys R Us caught my eye. A mere 15 hours after my journey began, I returned home with a $250 bundle of joy.
So was it worth it? Hell yeah. This isn't the system for the horsepower-obsessed: The graphics are barely better than a first-generation Xbox, and there's no hi-def or digital sound. It compensates with the coolest controller ever — a motion-sensing wireless remote that finally liberates gaming from button mashing. You control games not with twitching thumbs, but by moving your arms and body. Playing the included Wii Sports is as intuitive as swinging a bat or racket, and Excite Trucks steers by leaning and tilting from side to side. From the stylish design to the occasional suggestions to "pause the game and take a break", this is a console your mother could love. A warning for couch potatoes: The Wii is so addictive and physically engaging, you'll find yourself getting exercise whether you like it or not.
— Seth Kubersky
While the city's cash-cow old-lady musicals were no doubt once again packed like cans of sardines this weekend, there was a performance that truly celebrated feminism and womanhood on the west side of town in the Olympia High School auditorium. The Asian Cultural Association hosted a production of Ekaantha Seetha … A Lonely Furrow, a Bharatanatyam Dance Drama. The three-act show premiered in Chennai, India, in September and is now traveling the world, infusing both traditional and modern Indian dance. Ekaantha Seetha celebrates the lives of three women: Lord Rama's wife Sita, the warrior queen Rani Lakshmi Bai and Aprajitha, a girl born and brought up in contemporary India. The prevailing theme is that if a woman recognizes her own power, then she is limitless in her potential.
The dancers were intoxicating, with each hand movement and pose expressing emotion, as the Bharatanatyam dancer concentrates their dance on the beauty of the body. The pace was intense with weddings, sword fights and death, met by stomping, drums and street scenes. Three hours was overwhelming, but the creative atmosphere they accomplished impressed me, using only a scrim and some colored gels. I found myself both desperately jealous of their connection to culture and immensely guilty at how effortlessly we toss aside our own opportunities to foster literacy and activism. (www.aca-florida.org)
— Aya Kawamoto
Finding Nemo — the Musical
When friends in the theater community ask why I "waste" so much time writing about entertainment at the local attractions, I try to point out that (with apologies to jazz) theme parks are the one truly American art form. I point out that, without the Mouse serving as an actor magnet, we'd have a fraction of the talent pool for our local legit theaters to draw upon. Now, instead, I can simply point to Finding Nemo — The Musical, currently in previews at Disney's Animal Kingdom (official opening, January 2007).
Nemo is the most well-pedigreed show in theme park history: It features music by Avenue Q's Robert Lopez, puppetry by Michael Curry of Broadway's The Lion King, and is directed by Peter Brosius of the Tony-winning Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis. This collaboration has birthed the best show in a Disney park since the much missed Hunchback of Notre Dame — and perhaps their best ever.
For this 40-minute retelling of the now-familiar Pixar tale, the nearly two-dozen performers manipulate their piscine puppets in full view, much like in Avenue Q. What might at first sound distractingly avant-garde quickly becomes a revelation, as the talented cast seamlessly merges with their fiberglass counterparts. Video and flying effects dazzle without overwhelming the surprisingly witty script. Songs range from inoffensive to memorable; Crush the surfer-dude turtle's Beach Boy homage "Go With the Flow" is a standout, as is the anthemic "Big Blue World" (also heard in Epcot's new Nemo ride).
The only flaw is that the kid-friendly running time necessitates a frantic pace, shortchanging the story's emotional resonance. Fleshed out to full length, this show would be primed for Broadway — it would have to be better than Tarzan. (performances daily at Disney's Animal Kingdom; www.wdwmagic.com/nemo_musical.htm)
I ♥ My Dog
Up on the rooftop of SKY60 last Thursday, Charity de Meer reminded the public what she sees that we don't until she shows us. Her passion-filled collection of photography I ♥ My Dog bore the trademarks the Orlando artist's smoldering compositions: Smart, sassy and sexy stills of women walking their dogs. The woman part of the equation typically revealed legs only with an occasional full body but never a face. The focus was partially on the chichi shoes, but in addition to the pes-adornment, the subject's outfit sported a pup — poodles to wieners — that finished the fashion. The scenery in the background ranged from Park Avenue, New York City, to Park Avenue, Winter Park. The aura of each photograph ranged from film noir to funky. The 2-by-3-feet images were printed onto a canvas-like material and fitted with grommets for easy installation — no framing. Overall, de Meer's concept and execution proves she's a powerhouse when it comes to capturing the essence of women for posterity. (www.charityphoto.com)firstname.lastname@example.org