Thursday, June 30, 2011

CC Makes Los Angeles Times Debut!


The Levi's Film Workshop is an amazingly creative space tucked into The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA downtown, and on the day CC and I happened to visit last week, the Los Angeles Times was there, too.

I'll be posting more about this filmmaker's fantasy of available cameras, classes, editing bays and animation stations -- all for free! -- on Friday, but I just wanted to share my excitement at CC's picture being included in our local paper.

It's been a while since I've been this jazzed about newsprint, but I rushed out to the closest grocery store and picked up an armload of papers.

That's my little budding Scorsese!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coming Attraction: Big!World!Fun! at Ford Amphitheatre

Ballet Folclorico do Brasil (Photo courtesy of Big!World!Fun!)

Big!World!Fun!, the kid-friendly live entertainment series at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, is kicking off on Saturday, July 2, and the lineup looks especially big, fun and colorful.

Leading off the family series is Ballet Folclorico do Brasil (pictured above), a dance troupe made up of capoeiristas, who combine martial arts and music that's a mixture of African, Portuguese and indigenous Brazilian cultures.

They'll be hitting the stage for an hour-long show at 10 a.m. A pre-show, featuring kid-friendly activities from Kidspace Children's Museum, starts at 9 a.m.

This is a great series for introducing little ones to fun, live entertainment. We took CC last summer, and she was totally enthralled. It was helpful, too, that there is lots of shade and that kids are encouraged to be kids. (Read: It's super casual, and there's no shushing at the performance.)

Here's what's coming up during the rest of the season:

* AXIS Dance Company (July 9)
-- featuring dancers with and without disabilities
* Beethoven's Wig (July 23) -- parodies of classical music masterpieces
* Center for Vietnamese Ethnic Culture & Art (July 30) -- dance, music and songs
* Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir (August 6) -- African-American roots music
* Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet (August 13) -- folk dance from Mexico
* Street Beat (August 20) -- Urban dance and percussion fashioned from household items
* Lisa Haley & the Zydekats (August 27) -- Zydeco music from Louisiana

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre
2580 Cahuenga Blvd., East
Hollywood, CA 90068
323-461-3673

Big!World!Fun! (Saturdays in July and August at 10 a.m.; pre-show starts at 9 a.m.)
Tickets:
Adults ($5) Children (Free)
Parking: $1

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coming Attraction: 'Shrek the Musical' at the Pantages (plus $15 deal!)

"Shrek the Musical" (Photo credit: ©2010 DreamWorks Theatricals (Joan Marcus)

"Shrek the Musical" is coming to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood July 12-31, and CC is already "ogre"-ly excited. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

Based on the characters from William Steig's book "Shrek!" and the original DreamWorks film, the musical also tells the story of a grumpy ogre, his chatty sidekick Donkey, and his heroic journey to rescue a sassy princess with a secret. This time, though, there are 19 new songs and a Broadway pedigree to boot.

While tickets range from $25-$90 at BroadwayLA.org, there's an amazing deal going on right now for social-media fans who blog, tweet or Facebook (yes, I used that last one as a verb) -- or all three.

"Shrek" producers are setting up a "Social Swamp" for one night only, at the Tuesday, July 12 performance (7:30 p.m.), where audiences in that section can tweet or post mid-performance. The best part? Tickets for the "Social Swamp" section are only $15!

Here's what you need to do: Visit www.BroadwayLA.org/MyFriends, and then use the promo code SWAMP.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

"Shrek the Musical"

July 12-31
Pantages Theatre
6233 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-468-1770

Tickets: $25-$90 (Click here for "Social Swamp" deal.)
(2 hours, 30 minutes; ogres and ogrettes under age 3 not admitted)

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Giveaway: L'Enfant Terrible's Shakespeare Festival for Kids


UPDATE: Congrats to JustJENN, who won the Family Four-Pack of tickets to see one of the L'Enfant Terrible shows! Just email me at losangelesstory@gmail.com with your info (name that should be on the tickets) and the name of the show you want to see. Thanks to everyone who participated, and stay tuned for more summer giveaways!


If you and the fam have been missing the silly in Shakespeare, local theater troupe L'Enfant Terrible has just the ticket. And I have a Family Four-Pack of tickets to give away to one of its kid-friendly performances!

The Fun Family Festival of Tragedy, which kicked off June 4 at the Bootleg Theater (I mentioned it here and reviewed one show here), is presenting four re-imagined Shakespearean plays that turn what were once tragedies -- Hello, last scene of "Hamlet"! -- into jolly, family-friendly entertainment.

"Hamlet, Prince of Puddles" (Photo courtesy of L'Enfant Terrible)

The productions -- "Hamlet, Prince of Puddles," "King O'Leary," "Titus the Clownicus" and "Macbeth and the Monster" -- are about an hour long and run in repertory each Saturday and Sunday through July 31. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for students (ages 0-22), with a discount given to those bold enough to wear jammies to the Saturday performances. Festival passes are also available.

Here's a rundown of a couple of the shows, from the L'Enfant Terrible website (click here for more info):

*All little Macbeth wants is a bedtime story to help him fall asleep. But when his mom tell his him the scary story of Macbeth and the Monster, he gets more than he bargained for. Discover who the real Scottish terror is… (Hint: It isn't the Loch Ness Monster!)

* Titus the Clownicus, leader of the Red Nose Army, returns home from the Clown Wars after defeating neighboring Queen Tamoraclown and the Green Noses. When Titus wants to paint his rival’s noses red, he sets off a clown war that escalates into madness, mayhem, and pie fights. This silly romp teaches us all that if someone is mean to you, don’t be mean back or everyone will just be mean for ever and ever. L'Enfant Terrible turns Shakespeare’s gory drama into rip-roaring family fare.

Fun Family Festival of Tragedy
Written by Angela Berliner
Produced by Seth Compton
Directed by Justin Zsebe

Bootleg Theater
2220 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles
, CA 90057

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 4 tickets to see one show (winner's choice) at L'Enfant Terrible's Fun Family Festival of Tragedy.

To enter, simply leave a comment below saying which show you'd like to see and why.

For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter and retweet this giveaway. I'm at @la_story. Or you can "Like" the L.A. Story Facebook page.

Just be sure to leave extra comments telling me you did so.

Good luck, and I will announce the winner (on this post, not a separate one) on Tuesday, July 5!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Giveaway: Hollywood Bowl Tickets to 'West Side Story'

"West Side Story" (Photo courtesy of Hollywood Bowl)

UPDATE: Congrats to LAwonders, aka Jenn, who won the pair of tickets to see and hear "West Side Story" at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, July 8! Thanks to everyone who participated. And ... stay tuned! I'll have another Hollywood Bowl giveaway next week!

The Hollywood Bowl -- that superb spot for summertime entertainment -- is hosting what looks to be a great night out for parents. Two nights, actually. And I'm giving away a pair of tickets!

On July 8 and 9, the LA Philharmonic presents the MGM classic musical "West Side Story" in HD in honor of the film's 50th anniversary.

The LA Phil will perform the famous orchestral score from Leonard Bernstein and the Stephen Sondheim songs live, while the newly remastered film plays in high definition on the Hollywood Bowl's big screen, with the original songs and dialogue intact.

Based on the book by Arthur Laurents with choreography by Jerome Robbins, the 1961 film stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as a star-crossed couple who fall in love despite coming from rival New York City gangs.

David Newman will serve as conductor for the LA Philharmonic.

LA Phil Presents MGM HD presents "West Side Story"

July 8, 9 (8 p.m.)
Hollywood Bowl
2301 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
323-850-2000

Tickets: $11-$158 (Click here to purchase and for more information.)

*** GIVEAWAY ***

I'm giving away 2 tickets to see the Friday, July 8 (8 p.m.) presentation of "West Side Story" at the Hollywood Bowl. Seats are the in the first section behind the boxes -- aka, good ones!

To enter, simply leave a comment below saying why you'd like to have a night out at the Hollywood Bowl.

For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter and retweet this giveaway. I'm at @la_story. Or you can "Like" the L.A. Story Facebook page.

Just be sure to leave extra comments telling me you did so.

Good luck, and I will announce the winner (on this post, not a separate one) on Friday, July 1!

L.A. Story Talks to 'Salaam Dunk' Director David Fine



Earlier this week, I had the chance to chat with director David Fine, whose documentary "Salaam Dunk" (which I reviewed here) about a women's basketball team in Iraq, is screening in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

CC accompanied me on this downtown outing, and let's just say it was ... entertaining. I mean, how fun can it be for a 4-year-old to sit quietly when what she really wants to do is be in charge of the camera herself?

Needless to say, there are some CC cameos and a bit of strategic editing.

That said, I'm pretty sure CC charmed Mr. Fine. He was more than pleasant, gracious and discussed fascinating moments about his time in Iraq.

Check out the above video! The film screens tonight at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

LA Film Festival: 'Salaam Dunk' Review



"Salaam Dunk," a documentary from director David Fine now screening in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is a fascinating story about young women playing basketball in Iraq.

More than simply a stirring underdog tale about girls who want to win on the court, this film offers an inside look at the bravery, trust and friendship that are strengthened in a country where most men don't want to see women on the court at all.

The young women, who all attend the American University of Iraq -- Sulaimani in Kurdistan, are charming, driven and come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Some are Kurdish, some Sunni, some Shiite. What's amazing, though, is that most of them have never touched a basketball, let alone played on a team, before coming to this school.

In fact, when their coach, young American Ryan Bubalo -- who is at turns demanding and comforting -- asks them to go outside and run laps around a park, they all demure. Women simply don't do that there.

(Photo courtesy of "Salaam Dunk" via Image.net)

However, under the guidance of Coach Ryan, as they call him, these girls work hard to improve on their previous season, in which they didn't win a single game.

But it's seeing their determination on and off the court that's inspiring. Most of these young women have lived through devastation, whether it's from the previous regime or from the war itself. Despite that, they bond together in such a way that shows just how much female friendship and teamwork mean, no matter where you come from.

Fine has done a fabulous job of capturing that infectious spirit which drives people to better themselves, to find personal happiness and to cultivate happiness in others, despite whatever obstacles might be in their way.

(Note: While "Salaam Dunk" is certainly family-friendly and could inspire young girls in general and young female athletes in particular, some descriptions of Iraqi history and the current war might be best suited for middle school audiences and older.)

"Salaam Dunk"
Friday, June 24; 7:40 p.m.
Regal Cinemas L.A. Live 13
Tickets: $13

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coming Attractions: The Skrumps Launch Party, Annenberg Community Beach House, and Winnie the Pooh at LA Film Festival


The Skrumps Launch Party:

The Skrumps is the newest addition to The Jim Henson Company family. Created by writer-illustrator-sculptor John Chandler, this comic-book series will celebrate its debut with a free launch party at Meltdown Comics (7522 W. Sunset Blvd.; LA, CA 90046) on Saturday, June 25, from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. There will be giveaways, refreshments and autograph signings by Chandler.

***

(Photo courtesy of Annenberg Community Beach House)

Summer Kicks Off at Annenberg Community Beach House

This family-friendly (and wallet-friendly) public beach house opens for the summer on Saturday, June 25. CC and I have had lots of fun here and look forward to checking it out again. Get more bang for your buck by going on Dollar Splash Mondays.

Annenberg Community Beach House
415 Pacific Coast Highway
Santa Monica, CA 90402
310-458-4904
www.annenbergbeachhouse.com
Check site for hours, parking fees

***

(Photo courtesy of the L.A. Film Festival)

"Winnie the Pooh" at L.A. Film Festival

Families looking for some old-school fun (and air-conditioning!) can indulge in a little Winnie the Pooh at the L.A. Film Festival. This 69-minute animated film will be preceded by "The Ballad of Nessie," a six-minute animated short film about the legendary Loch Ness resident.

Regal Cinemas L.A. Live 8
Saturday, June 25; 1:30 p.m.
Tickets: $13 (adults); $5 (ages 12 and under)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Creative Designs for Kids ... and Moms!


I've become a little obsessed of late with design blogs written by moms. From Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom to her sister Jordan Ferney at Oh Happy Day!, these stylish women really know how to inspire readers with their colorful and creative designs.

What's even more intriguing is that both Blair and Ferney decided to move their American families to the Normandy region of France and Paris, respectively, for a year. How cool is that?!

Anyway, their blogs have inspired me to get more colorful at home. I've also been checking out sites like DwellStudio for fun ideas.

Here are a few things I'm considering for CC's room:

1. Sparrow Meadow Wallpaper ($5.99 per sq/ft)

(Photo courtesy of DwellStudio)

What's great about this adorable pink paper is that, according to DwellStudio, it's easy to take off and safe for walls.

2. Custom Wall Decals ($50 and up)

(Photo courtesy of DwellStudio)

What a fun project this would be for CC and me!

3. Paper Dolls Decorative Pillow ($34)

(Photo courtesy of DwellStudio)

These little cut-out dolls are so cute.

In addition to its own site, DwellStudio has partnered with Target for some great (and affordable!) designs. In fact, I just bought this gorgeous yellow & gray silk decorative pillow ($24.99) to accent our navy-blue couch.

Here's a pic of it in action:


Hope this post sparks some great ideas for your home!

Oh, and P.S.: DwellStudio and DwellStudio for Target did not compensate me for this post. In fact, I'm pretty sure they have no idea who I am.

Monday, June 20, 2011

LA Film Festival: 'The Bully Project' Review



Well, friends, "The Bully Project" is a difficult but important film to watch.

The documentary, directed by Lee Hirsch and which screened as a free community screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival yesterday, follows several children and families who have been affected by bullying at school.

Opening on the face of a father whose 17-year-old son took his own life because of the constant torment he faced inside and outside of the classroom, we see the hurt, devastation and incredulity of a parent who thought his child was protected once he entered the public school grounds.

Alex, 14; Sioux City, Iowa

There are more similar stories -- one boy in Sioux City, Iowa, (pictured above) whose head is pounded into the seat in front of him on the school bus by another boy (on camera!); a girl in Tuttle, Okla., who came out of the closet only to have students (and teachers!) degrade her in the classroom; and a girl in rural Mississippi who finally had enough of the bullying and brought a gun onto a bus to protect herself -- an act that sent her to juvenile hall for months.

As an audience, we see these frustrated families who get nowhere with administrators. The administrators (again, on camera!) alternately pass the buck, ignore the problem and even blame the victim.

In one mystifying scene in particular, an administrator asks two boys to shake hands. When one boy doesn't want to shake hands with his bully, the administrator has the nerve to tell this tormented child that by not shaking hands, he's just as bad as the bully. Seriously.

While an audience might feel a little helpless, especially since most of us have left the schoolyard years ago, "The Bully Project" is also a film that inspires action.

In fact, one father in the film, Kirk Smalley, from Perkins, Okla., whose 11-year-old (11!) took his own life, has started an organization called Stand for the Silent. Smalley has spoken to more than 200 schools about bullying and has encouraged children to say, "I am somebody," a statement engraved on blue wristbands that were distributed after the screening.

As Hirsch mentioned after the film, we have all been exposed to bullying in some way. As a parent, I am already saddened by what CC might have to face at some point in her young life. What I can do, however, is build her self-esteem, support her and teach her to be kind to and understanding of others.

"The Bully Project," which will be distributed through The Weinstein Company, is also inviting people to join this grassroots movement to combat bullying. Click here for more information about how you can help.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!


Hope you and your family have a wonderful Father's Day!

LA Film Fest: 'Somewhere Between' Review



"Somewhere Between," a documentary by director/L.A. mom Linda Goldstein Knowlton that's screening in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is a moving exploration of a cultural middle ground -- from a teenager's point of view. Four of them, actually.

Knowlton and her husband adopted a 10-month-old baby girl from China five years ago, and Knowlton wanted to find out what her daughter's journey might be like as she got older and became curious about where she came from.

And from there, the idea for "Somewhere Between" was born.

Knowlton follows four teenage girls -- Fang, Jenna, Ann and Haley (the latter two are pictured, right) -- who were adopted from Chinese orphanages by American families. The girls are well loved, happy, curious, self-aware, hyper-articulate and bright. But they are also not completely comfortable in their own skin -- which, they have realized from a very young age, is a different color from their (adoptive) parents and the people around them.

Part of that is being a teenager, but most of that questioning comes from not knowing who their birth parents are -- and being "somewhere between" American and Chinese.

All four travel around the world, meeting other Chinese adoptees through the Chinese Adoptee Links (CAL) organization, and Fang and Haley make regular trips to China.

Haley, an adorable 13-year-old from Nashville who dreams of performing at the Grand Ole Opry, becomes more and more curious about finding her Chinese family -- so much so that she makes a kind of "Lost/Found" sign with photos and information written in Mandarin.

What results from that is such a jumble of emotions and discoveries that would rock any adult's world, much less a child's.

While I would advise bringing some tissue to the theater, audiences need not worry about emotional trauma at the multiplex. (The film, however, is recommended for ages 14+.) This is a touching film that tackles complicated situations with care as well as curiosity.

Watching these four girls go through such seminal moments in front of a camera is astonishing. They are true role models for any American -- or Chinese -- girl.

"Somewhere Between" (94 mins.)
Regal Cinemas L.A. Live
Tues., June 21; 7:30 p.m.
Weds., June 22; 4:30 p.m.
Tickets: $13

Friday, June 17, 2011

Coming Attraction: Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris'

(Photo credit: Mark Dulong © 2011 Cirque du Soleil)

Cirque du Soleil has landed in Hollywood, and its new resident production, "Iris," is starting with an appropriately cinematic bang.

The new show, which begins previews July 21 and officially opens Sept. 25 at its permanent home the Kodak Theatre, is a tribute to film -- more specifically, "a poetic phantasmagoria inspired by the world of cinema," according to press notes.

Checking out a sneak peek of the upcoming show yesterday at the Kodak, I had a third-row seat to the jaw-dropping action.

As cinematically clad characters -- a girl with pin curls donning a moving daedalum/zoetrope as a skirt (right) -- drifted on and off stage, twin aerialists flew over the audience in an airborne dance that had me gasping in both fear and amazement.

Next came a tribute to gangster films, as acrobatic mobsters leaped from one rooftop to the other in an effort to elude the law -- and other gangsters (see above photo). Making clever use of trampolines, the dancers appeared to defy gravity -- and certain death -- in this cleverly choreographed number.

Written and directed by Phillipe Decoufle with music composed by Danny Elfman, "Iris" tells the story of Buster and Scarlett, who "find themselves plunged into the joyful chaos of a film set."

Inspired to create a film-based show in Los Angeles after a 2002 Cirque du Soleil performance at the Academy Awards, Cirque president Daniel Lamarre said at the press preview that he made the decision after that performance received a standing ovation from a theatre filled with film notables.

From what I saw yesterday, Lamarre made the right move.

Cirque du Soleil's "Iris"

Kodak Theatre
6801 Hollywood Blvd. #180
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tickets: $43-$133 (To purchase, click here, or call 1-877-943-IRIS.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hitting the Beach and Pacific Park with Nattie


Ian's mom, aka Nattie, came to visit, and CC was so excited. Sometimes we feel a little bit like loners out here, because both sets of parents live outside of California -- outside of the U.S. in Nattie's case.

While Nattie (above right) was here, we visited the pool, indulged in healthy slices of Abbot's Pizza (try the salad pizza when you have a chance!) and made our way to the beach in Santa Monica and to the pier's Pacific Park, a CC favorite.


CC tried her best to climb up the twisty rope in hopes of winning a larger-than-life size Papa Smurf or money pillow (money pillow?). No such luck. As you can see in the above pic, the attendant held on for a few rungs, but it was all over after he let go.


She also loved the little bumper boats. We were a little concerned that she might not be able to work the dual controls, but she was all over them, cruising around like an oversized air-hockey puck.

Admittedly, things got a little dicey when we boarded the Ferris wheel. I can be a tad afraid of heights, and I got ... uh ... tense when CC insisted on looking over the side of the gondola. Eeeeek! Everything was great -- it's a gorgeous view -- and we capped off our visit at the little kids' section, where rides cater to those 36 inches to 48 inches.

It was such a lovely SoCal afternoon. Come back soon, Nattie!

Pacific Park
380 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Rides: ($3 or $5 per ride)
Unlimited Ride Passes: $15.95 (7 years and younger); $21.95 (8 years and older)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Graduation, California Style

It's that time of year, when parents get teary-eyed as their kiddos move from one milestone to another.

Yesterday, Ian and I attended CC's preschool culmination and watched as the older boys and girls moved one step closer to kindergarten. CC is in the younger class and will be "graduating" next year, but it was so fun to see both groups get together and celebrate (above).

As a lot of you know, I also teach journalism at a local independent school. Today was their graduation, and they participated in one of my favorite SoCal traditions -- wearing leis during the ceremony. The flower necklaces are so cheerful and happy.

I brought mine home (faculty wore them, too) for CC. She loved it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Coming Attraction: Los Angeles Film Festival 2011


It's coming! The Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 17th year, will return to L.A. Live June 16-26 to screen over 200 films from more than 30 countries. That's in addition to artist-in-residence presentations and conversations with such notables as James Franco, Julie Taymor, Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. Not only that, but Spanish filmmaker Guillermo del Toro will serve as guest director of the festival.

This is a great opportunity for film buffs to check out movies from all over the globe that don't get the same attention as, say, "X-Men" or "The Hangover, Part 2."

And, parents, don't think this event is strictly "For Grown-Ups Only." There is definitely a family-friendly element to this fest, which is showcasing thought-provoking material for the teen and tween set.

Little kids will have something for themselves, as well. "Winnie the Pooh" will be making an on-screen appearance.

There are so many films, and I can't name them all, but here are a few recommendations broken down into two categories: Family-Friendly and Parents' Night Out. (Click here to access the full festival film guide. Tickets for feature films are $13.)

Family-Friendly

"Winnie the Pooh" (Photo courtesy of L.A. Film Festival)

* "Winnie the Pooh" (Sat., June 25; 1:30 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- Hosted by Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, this 69-minute screening will feature Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Piglet and that honey-loving bear, Winnie the Pooh. It will be preceded by 6-minute film "The Ballad of Nessie."

* "Salaam Dunk" (Tues., June 21, 7:10 p.m.; Weds., June 22, 4 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 7:40 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- This documentary, in festival competition, tells the story of an Iraqi women's basketball team from the American University of Iraq and their efforts to succeed in a sport they have only recently learned (and have been allowed) to play. (I've seen it, and it's great. It's best for middle school students and older.)

* "Somewhere Between" (Sat., June 18, 3:10 p.m.; Tues., June 21, 7:30 p.m.; Weds., June 22, 4:30 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- Also competing in the documentary category, this film follows four American teenagers who were all adopted from China as babies. The camera is with them as they bond with other adoptees and journey back to China in search of their birth parents. (Recommended for ages 14 and older.)

* "Stand by Me" (Sun., June 19, 8 p.m.; FIGat7th; Free) -- It's funny to think that this Rob Reiner coming-of-age movie is turning 25 this year. I was obsessed with this film when it came out in the 1986. I was a couple of years younger than the boys it portrayed, but I was totally riveted. It will have a free outdoor screening this year at the L.A. Film Fest. (Recommended for ages 13 and up.)

Parents' Night Out

"Drive" (Photo courtesy of L.A. Film Festival)

* "Drive" (Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live; 2 screenings) -- This film, starring Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver in L.A., is getting a lot of buzz. Be sure to get there early. Individual tickets will only be available the night of the screening, unless you already have a VIP, Fast, Industry, Downtown or Film Lover pass.

* "Leave It on the Floor" (Sat., June 18, 9 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- This just looks fun! A movie-musical with songs and choreography from two talented people who work with Beyonce, "Leave It on the Floor" looks like an exciting way to spend an evening away from home. The story takes audiences into the world of voguing in downtown L.A.

* "The Bully Project" (Sun., June 19, 4:20 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- With stories of bullying dominating the news, this free screening of the Lee Hirsch-directed documentary is very timely. (There's even a short film called "Bully" in the high school program at the festival.) The director talks to families who have been affected by bullying at school.

* "A Better Life" (Tues., June 21, 8 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- The story of an East L.A. gardener who is struggling to keep his son away from gangs and other temptations looks like a good one. It might be tricky, though, to score tickets. Individual tickets will only be available on a rush basis the night of the event, unless you already have a VIP, Fast, Industry, Downtown or Film Lover pass.

Stay tuned for reviews and interviews from the festival!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Love Ballet Recitals


*sigh*

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Click here to get this deal!


(Sponsored Post)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We Love Warby Parker

CC dons Warby Parker's (nonprescription) Webb frames.

I just bought my first pair of Warby Parker prescription glasses, and I have to give a shout-out to the company because I'm such a fan.

The online-based business -- which gets its name from two Jack Kerouac characters -- specializes in cool vintage-inspired frames, and they only cost $95 -- total! Frames, prescription lenses, shipping, everything. Not only that, but for every pair someone buys, WP donates a pair to someone in need of specs.

Another plus is that they offer free 5-day try-ons. I tried on two sets of five glasses before finally deciding on the Webb style, which CC is wearing in the above photo and I'm wearing in the one below.


And this month, they're debuting their sunwear collection. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Tooth Brushing Blues



The other night after dinner, we were having a bit of trouble getting CC to brush her teeth.

Then Ian broke into what I now call "The Tooth Brushing Blues." As you can see from the above video, it soon became a duet. (This was one of those moments when I was so glad I jumped up and grabbed my camera.)

What fun techniques have you used to make sure your children brush their teeth?

Friday, June 3, 2011

'Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer' Giveaway



UPDATE: Congrats to Carla, who won the "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" tickets! I'll email with details. Thanks for participating in this quick contest!

You might recognize the above video interview from my chat last month with "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" stars Jordana Beatty and Parris Mosteller at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.


Well, the movie -- about an imaginative third-grade girl who must make the most of her summer after her friends (and parents!) leave for their own adventures -- is hitting theaters June 10, and I'm offering a giveaway for one reader to catch a sneak peek.

Through MomsLA, a new site dedicated to parenting in Los Angeles, I'm giving away a 5-pack of tickets to an advance screening in L.A. on Wednesday, June 8.

CC had a great time talking to Jordana and Parris and can't wait to catch the girl-centric film. (We'll be there at the screening!) The fact that the movie is based on a series of children's books by author Megan McDonald is also a big bonus. That way, we have lots to read even after the credits roll.

Sneak Peek Screening Details:
Wednesday, June 8
4 p.m. -- "Mega Cool" Cookie Party
4:30 p.m. -- Screening (location will be provided to winner)

*** GIVEAWAY ***

To enter the giveaway for a 5-pack of tickets to a sneak peek screening of "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer," please leave a comment below with your email address.

For more chances to win, follow me on Twitter and retweet this giveaway. I'm at @la_story. Or you can "Like" the L.A. Story Facebook page.

Just be sure to leave extra comments telling me you did so.

Good luck, and I will announce the winner (on this post, not a separate one) on Monday, June 6!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

'Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Outdoors' DVD Review


Just in time for summer, when families are thinking about what to do with the kiddos after that last day of school, Disney offers up a virtual vacation with Mickey and the gang in its latest interactive DVD set, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Outdoors."

The combo (SRP $29.99), which comes with a digital copy and the adorable and easy-to-use Mickey Mote, gives tykes the option to watch four episodes from the popular Disney series (plus one bonus, never-before-aired episode) with or without the interactive on-screen questions.

CC was more than happy to check out the review copy that I received, but this time -- unlike last time, when I reviewed another Mickey Mote DVD pack -- she was all about watching the episodes sans cute remote. Whereas she was a big fan last time, this time it was all about watching Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald and using her new favorite phrase, "gummy fish." (I personally prefer "hula hibiscus," from another camping episode, but what can you do?)

The episodes on the DVD and digital copy -- the latter of which is a thoughtful component, given the popularity of other portable electronic devices -- are fun, friend-focused and celebrate a child's-eye view of nature.

And if you're a parent who's averse to camping in the real world (ahem), this is an engaging -- and pest-free -- alternative.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coming Attraction: Fun Family Festival of Tragedy


Shakespearean tragedy gets a new twist in this family-friendly (and funny!) take on the Bard from local theater company L'Enfant Terrible.

The company's inaugural Fun Family Festival of Tragedy kicks off on Saturday, June 4, at the Bootleg Theater. They will perform comedic adaptations of four Shakespearean tragedies, such as "Titus the Clownicus" and "King O'Leary," the latter of which somehow makes me laugh the hardest. All shows play in repertory each weekend through July 31.

Each show runs about an hour and makes Shakespeare accessible to the preschool set.

"I aim to find the family story in each tragedy and to capture your attention," said playwright and executive creative director of L'Enfant Terrible Angela Berliner in a statement. "Our plays use a sophisticated verbal and visual language yet are totally engaging for the pre-verbal crowd."

I can actually attest to that. CC and I attended a performance of "Hamlet, Prince of Puddles" last fall, and it was fun to see a different side of the dithering Dane.

In addition to the plays themselves, L'Enfant Terrible will also host L'ET Discovery Happen, a free, behind-the-scenes look at the theater by offering a family-friendly workshop or event after every performance.

This is such a great opportunity to introduce children to the thrills of live theater -- in a family-friendly environment, where being a kid is encouraged.

Fun Family Festival of Tragedy

Written by Angela Berliner
Produced by Seth Compton
Directed by Justin Zsebe

Bootleg Theater
2220 Beverly Blvd.
L
os Angeles, CA 90057

Tickets: $17.00 for Adults; $10.00 for students (ages 2-22) (Discounts are available for purchases to two or more shows, or groups with six or more.)

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