Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kids Off The Couch: Circus INcognitus at the Kirk Douglas Theatre - Ticket Giveaway!

Ticket Giveaway for January 15, 2010

Now that the holidays are winding down, it's time to think about keeping everyone entertained in the New Year. Young kids will love Circus INcognitus, featuring Jamie Adkins - known as a one-man circus. A veteran of both Cirque du Soleil and Montréal's Cirque Éloize, Adkins fuses clowning, juggling, balancing and acrobats into what the New York Times calls "infinitesimal acts of imperceptible genius." We have a family four pack of tickets to give away to the opening performance on Saturday morning, January 15 at 11:00 AM. Running for six performances only at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Circus INcognitus is pure fun and wonder - a perfect show for young audiences.

Enter to Win: Please send us a note if you're able to attend the Saturday, January 15 performance at 11:00 AM. Winner will be notified by January 10, so be sure to include your phone number so we can reach you if you are the winner.

Purchase Tickets: The show runs for six performances -- January 15 and 22 at 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM and January 16 and 23 at 3:00 PM -- tickets are only $20. Great for kids from 6-12. Click here or call 213.628.2772

Parking: The Kirk Douglas Theatre (9820 Washington Blvd, Culver City) offers FREE covered parking at Culver City's City Hall, after 6pm on weeknights and all day on weekends. (Enter on Duquesne Avenue.)

Where to Eat in Culver City: It's fun to explore Culver City, where plenty of restaurants abound. Click here for deals set up through the theater including a deal for the excellent pizza at LaRocco's.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kids Off The Couch: Snow Days, Teacher Gifts and a Date Night Idea

Ticket Giveaway for Holiday Sing-Along at Disney Hall and Great Expectationsat A Noise Within

It wasn't so easy to deck the halls while the temperature was in the 80s last week, but with our sweaters and boots back in rotation, we're feeling merry as we scramble about getting holiday tasks done. Once the kids get out of school, they'll be chiming for something to do. Here's what looks like fun to us:

Holiday Sing-Along Ticket Giveaway: LA Holiday Sing-Along at Walt Disney Concert Hall12/18, 11:30am (great seats available) and 2:30pm.

Tune up your vocal chords and get ready to make a joyful noise as you sing along to holiday classics. Lyric sheets are provided for all. We have a Family Four Pack for Saturday's matinee performance of the Holiday Sing-Along (December 18 at 2:30 PM). Click here for more information on The Holiday Sing-Along. Click here if you are free for this weekend's performance and please remember to leave us a telephone number; we'll notify the winner by Friday morning.

The LA Phil has tickets left for their three other holiday shows - LA Phil Presents Go Tell It on the Mountain: The Blind Boys of Alabama(12/20), LA Phil Presents Eileen Ivers: An Nollaig - An Irish Christmas (12/23), and LA Phil Presents New Year's Eve with Kristin Chenoweth (12/31).

Great Expectations at A Noise Within: It's the last weekend of a fabulous production of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations at A Noise Within in Glendale. Great Expectations is the story of Pip, orphaned as an infant and thrust into a childhood of cruel poverty, who clings to the hope of a brighter life. An anonymous benefactor anoints Pip heir to a tremendous fortune, setting into motion a life's journey ripe with wonder, heartbreak and finally triumph. A Noises Off provides a study guide which can help your middle school-ers comprehend all that this classic tale has to offer. We have four tickets to a Sunday matinee performance of this show (12/19 at 2:00 PM). Please click here and let us know your phone number so we can call if you are chosen.

Christmas Boat Parade: What's more festive (or more Californian) than spending an evening watching a parade of boats ablaze with holiday lights? The Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade motors off each evening between now and Sunday (12/19), leaving Bay Island at 6:30 PM and returning at the same site at approximately 9:00 PM. Click here for more details.

Snow Days at
Kidspace Museum: Every year, it snows in Pasadena -- at least, it does at Kidspace where tons of snow is shipped in for kids to enjoy. Mark your calendars for Sunday, December 26 and Monday, December 27, 2010. Kidspace also hosts an adorable New Year's event at noon (not midnight!). Learn more about all three events here.

Downtown Arts Celebration:
Don't miss the LA County Art Commission's 21st Annual Holiday Celebration, a raucous, creative (and free) bonanza of music and dance on Friday, December 24 from 3:00 PM -6:00 PM.

Visions of Sugarplums: Every child has to see a live performance of the Nutcracker at least once in his or her lifetime. The Los Angeles Ballet performs the Tchaikovsky classic at UCLA's Royce Hall this weekend, and at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center next week. We adore the animated version of the story, so check out our chapter on the KOTC website. Click here for a link.

Still Shopping for Teacher Gifts?:
A subscriber raves about The Spiral Foundation,a non-profit humanitarian organization working in Nepal and Vietnam. Purchase unique crafts made from recycled materials, and support the medical and health needs of the people who created them. Please call to make an appointment before swinging by their Palisades shop. (310 459 6671).

Date Night --
India: We checked out the new show at LACMA, India's Fabled City: The Courtly Art of Lucknow, and determined that while it's not that intriguing for kids, it's the perfect launch pad for an evening with friends. Drop in to soak in the sumptuous art created at the height of Lucknow's artistic prowess, grab an Indian meal at one of several wonderful local restaurants (we love Bombay Cafe), then rent A Passage to India, David Lean's 1984 masterpiece about the final days of British rule in India... definitely an adult film!

New to the Zoo:
If Asian animals interest you, and if a bit of controversy doesn't alarm you, there is a new elephant habitat open at the LA Zoo. Click here for arecent LA Times article about the troubles surrounding the opening of this exhibit.

New Program at the Getty Center: Check out the Getty Center's brand newFamily Art Stops program, which gives families an up close and personal experience with a single work of art in a half-hour, hands-on gallery experience. FromDecember 21 through December 31, this free activity is offered every day at 2:00 PM. and again at 2:30 PM. (Museum is closed Monday). Sign up at the Museum Information Desk 30 minutes before the program begins. Check out their new Art Scoops project, that provides the scoop on dozens of works of art from the collection, with an emphasis on fancy princesses, spooky sea monsters, kooky characters from history, and magical animals from mythology.

Advance Planning:
If you have a moment between egg nogs, set your calendar up to catch a few of the big events in 2011. First off, the Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World show at the Bowers Museum opens this weekend - we haven't been yet, but it looks fabulous and will definitely sell out. The exhibition presents the stories of Franklin's life through his personal belongings used during his early years in Boston as a rebellious teenager, during his life as a printer and during his years of service to the American colonies and the newly formed United States. A scientist, inventor, diplomat, humorist, philanthropist and entrepreneur. Franklin's dynamism comes to life further through interactive activities and animations geared toward a school-aged audience. Opening summer 2011, IRIS from Cirque du Soleil will take up residence exclusively at the world-renowned Kodak Theatre. Directed by French director/choreographer Philippe Découflé, and featuring music from Danny Elfman, IRIS brings together dance, acrobatics, live video, filmed sequences and animation, and takes spectators on a fantastic voyage through the world of cinema and its genres. Tickets on sale NOW or 1.877.943.IRIS.

Counter-programming in the Kitchen:
Want to provide an alternative to turkey and mashed potatoes? Check out our new obsession: the fried chicken at Honey's Kettle Restaurant and Bar. We don't want to say that "it's finger licking good" but... it really is.

Enjoy the Season.

Kids Off The Couch

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kids Off The Couch - Date Night LA: Randy Newman's Harps and Angels

Ticket Giveaway for Wednesday, December 22

Take a break from the holiday madness on a date night getaway to the Mark Taper Forum. Two lucky subscribers will see the breezy musical adventure, Randy Newman's Harps and Angels, Wednesday, December 22 at 8:00 PM. Relax and enjoy yourselves on the last night of this play, which is directed by Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks and features an ensemble cast (including This is Spinal Tap'sMichael McKean) performing many of Randy Newman's hits. Surely, some of your faves are on this list: "Political Science," "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," "Short People," "Sail Away," "Feels Like Home," and of course, "I Love L.A.".

Enter to Win: Please send us a note if you're able to attend next Wednesday night's performance (12/22). Winner will be notified first thing Friday morning (12/17) so be sure to include your phone number so we can reach you if you are the winner.

Buy Your Own Tickets: The show is on stage at the Mark Taper Forum from now until
December 22 (in case you want to dash away this weekend). Click here for ticketing options.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Single Shard + Korean Brush Painting at LACMA = Kids Off The Couch

Pottery and Perspective
Driving around Los Angeles can be like taking a trip around the world, with signs in different languages, and even different alphabets. We love traveling around the world -- and back in time as well -- by reading books set in different cultures and time periods. Linda Sue Park's "A Single Shard" is a NewberyMedal-winning novel that transports us almost a thousand years back to old Korea, where we meet an orphan boy Tree Ear whose admiration for a master craftsman's celadon pottery takes him to the throne room of the Emperor himself. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a pavilion dedicated to Korean artwork and we dropped by the adjoining Boone Children's Gallery to learn how to do Korean brush painting. The Boone Children's Gallery is a spot where kids can always try their hand at an art project and occupy themselves with the excellent supplies provided. We could easily make a day of visiting LACMA, of course, and encourage families to add a few extras onto a Boone Gallery art excursion, such as dropping in on the brand new exhibit about India's fabled city of Lucknow, or checking out the cool fashion exhibit at the new Resnick Pavilion. Its really fun to cap off your adventure with lunch in nearby Koreatown. No airfare required! (Click here for discussion points for the novel, as well as details about visiting LACMA and where to get a delicious, authentic Korean meal nearby.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kids Off The Couch - Art and Movies Worth Your Family's Time

Three Don't-Miss Art Exhibits and KOTC Movie Picks
$50 Gift Certificate from Goldstar

How we spend our time defines who we are. As the year draws to a close, we know your time is especially precious. We've scoured the cultural landscape and foundwonderful art exhibits that your kids will be able to relate to, and offer our picks of new movies and DVDs for everyone to enjoy. We also extend an invitation to join Goldstar, a discounted ticketing community that will help you plan family time and save money in the New Year.

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) at the Skirball Cultural Center: Walking through this jewel-like exhibit reminds us of visiting a favorite, creative aunt. You know... the type who sends the absolute best birthday gifts and has good treats in the frig. The exhibit not only examines the creative process of the artist, who is an ongoing fixture of NY's cultural landscape (she designs many New Yorker covers), but shows her work over many years. Kalman's highly personal, diary-like art inspired us to reflect back on 2010, as it slips into the rear-view mirror. So, we thought it was cool that we could create our own diary page in an adjoining exhibit called The 1,000 Journals Project. Take a few moments at Noah's Ark, an inspirational, educational and environmental family experience that visiting relatives always appreciate. Click here for more on the show and the Skirball Cultural Center.

Extreme Exposure at the Annenberg Center for Photography: One good image is all it takes to deliver a potent message. Think of the polar bear on a shrinking ice-cap or the boy with his hand up to the tank in Tiananmen Square. Viewers don't always realize what takes place behind the camera to produce such powerful images. In concise fashion, the latest documentary show at the Annenberg demonstrates how five photographers push the envelope of safety (and maybe sanity) to capture images that demonstrate how our planet is changing. Don't miss the video that tells about each photographer which plays in a loop at the center of the small gallery space - it really helps kids focus on the images. It's easy to drop by the Annenberg during a shopping excursion in Century City. Click here for more details on the photographers and gallery.

William Eggleston: Democratic Camera -- Photographs and Video 1961-2008 at LACMA: Color photography was not considered a true art form until Eggleston turned his camera onto the Southern landscape of his youth. You haven't seen color images until you're up close and personal with Eggleston's sumptuous dye-transfer prints, and his black and white documentary work from the 60s signals a talent in the making. Some might recognize photos from album covers of yesteryear alongside retro shots of his study of Elvis' Graceland. But head to BCAM (LACMA's big red building along Wilshire) soon; this show is up only until January 8, 2011. Click here for more information.

Movie Picks: For the Youngest -- Tangled turns out to be pretty great. We saw it overThanksgiving (with our cool 3D glasses) and everyone from 8-80 adored it. With a super-mean stepmother and a ruffian male lead, Disney's 50th animated feature has freshness without being too trendy. New on DVD: Don't forget to load up on these stocking stuffers -- Despicable Me, The Secret of Kells and How To Train Your Dragon.

For Tweens and Teens --Fans have most likely already seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at least once. Twilight fans will want to flock to Black Swan, a Natalie Portman starrer about a NYC ballerina who turns into an enchanted swan at night. But, beware the R rating before you say yes! New on DVD: Snap up one of the year's best titles, Toy Story 3.

For Adults -- The King's Speech, Winter's Bone and The Social Network are all must-sees if you want to be able to discuss the Oscar race at holiday parties. New on DVD:Inception, The Kids are All Right, and another version of Avatar with new footage for avid fans.

KOTC Invitation: Our friends at Goldstar invite KOTC subscribers to become members of their community, which offers up-to-the-minute show information and significant ticket discounts. Like KOTC, a Goldstar membership is free. Subscribers will receive a weekly roundup of what's in town, along with significant discounts on tickets to theater, sports and other activities. Many KOTC subscribers are already Goldstar members -- we know, because parents tell us that having both memberships helps them manage their finances and enjoy their time together. Click here to become a member of Goldstar. One you're a member, you can click here and be eligible to win a $50 Gift Certificate. (Only members of KOTC and Goldstar will be eligible to win the Gift Certificate).

One more Thing: NBC's The Sing-Off pits a cappella singing groups across the country against each other. Diverse groups, ranging from a talented group of high-school students, to old-timers from Oakland, CA to gospel singers from Alabama, sing without back up instrumentation. Two groups get voted off each night by celebrity judges (including Ben Folds) in a contest that runs for the next few weeks. If your family loves Glee, they'll love the rollicking, musical fun of The Sing-Off!

Our best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Illlustration by Maira Kalman, Dog Reads Book, 1999

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kids Off The Couch December Radar Screen - LA Phil Presents Denève Conducts Debussy Ticket Giveaway

DIY Gifts and Timeless Classics

We survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday but are pretty sure that a home made gift trumps all. Avoid the mall crush and get off the computer -- just put on some holiday music and muck up the kitchen table with crafts. What's better for putting everyone in a festive mood? (You'll be saving up for some of these splurge-worthy shows and exhibits around town).

LA Phil Presents Denève Conducts
Debussy -- a Matinee Ticket Giveaway: Over the past month, the LA Phil has helped us send Kids Off the Couch subscribers to several classical concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall. This week, we're excited to have two sets of two tickets to a matinee performance of LA Phil Presents Denève Conducts Debussy (Saturday, December 4 at 2:00 PM). Concert-goers will be treated not only to Debussy, but also a Beethoven piano concerto performed by a brilliant pianist, as well as the West Coast premiere of a contemporary work composed for the conductor. Click here for more details, including a link to hear some of the music and to purchase tickets for this weekend's series, which is also being performed on Friday night at 8:00 PM and Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM. Click here if you are free for this weekend's performance and please remember to leave us a telephone number; we'll notify the winner by Friday morning.

Scrooged This Weekend! Scrooge is one of the most adapted characters in all of cinema, so don't let Jim Carreybe your family's only vision of Dicken's cranky old man. Get the family downtown for Albert Finney's rendition this Sunday (12/5) at a screening of A Christmas Carol with the Los Angeles Conservancy at the glorious Million Dollar Theater. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for kids under 12. If you can't get there, at least read the book to the kids this holiday. The Dickens story has timeless wisdom, and is always fun to revisit, especially with this cool pop-up story book.

DIY Ideas:
Remember hand-loomed pot holders? These days, there are so many better options for handmade gifts in the craft section of any toy store. Check out a new generation of Shrinky Dinks (our faves). Little kids can create beautiful beaded bracelets and necklaces, or string cranberry and popcorn garlands for the tree. Tweens and teens can mix their favorite song onto CDs for cousins and parents, and love being dropped at one of the many craft houses around town: throw pots at the Clayhouse, stop in for a class at The Urban Craft Center or pick up a manageable first project at Artesia Needlepoint shop or one of the many cool knit shops around town. And, ultimately there is nothing better than baked goods for teachers or neighbors. Martha Stewart can help you with a single sugar cookie recipe that can be adapted to tens of other treats.

Get to the Getty:
We love the villa's new Tea by the Sea service (Thursdays at 1:00 PM) which is an especially nice treat for visiting grandparents. While the weather is spectacular, why not spend Sunday (12/5) at a Getty Villa Family Festival Celebrating the Art of Greek Theater. From 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM. It's FREE, but click here for entry ticket. Children and adults can fashion their own Greek theater masks, costume themselves as ancient actors, and applaud or join in pint-sized versions of classical Greek comedies onstage.

Family Flicks at the Hammer:
This Sunday (12/5) the UCLA Film and Television Archive presents Family Flicks: Azur and Asmar, an unusual digital animation project about two rival princes. Screening is FREE and starts at 11:00. Enjoy free admission to the Hammer through December 18 as part of their 20th Anniversary celebration.

Kick Up Your Heels: From Radio City Music Hall, those famous legs travel across the nation and will be in Los Angeles for nine shows between December 9-12. Click here for tickets. These are pricey seats but doesn't everyone have to see this show once in their lifetime? Speaking of kicking up your heels the plastic starter ice rink at the W Hotel in Westwood is a fun and festive way for kids under ten to get their legs under them. Everyone else will love ICE at Santa Monica, open through February.

Yum Yum: The Westside just got even more delicious with Sweet Lady Jane opening a shop on Montana at 17th, and Thomas Keller's pastry chef opening his FarmShop at the Brentwood Country Mart.

Shop if you Must:
Click here for the Cool Mom Picks Holiday Gift Guide (including these cool Advent calendars). It's easy to purchase handmade gifts this year - start at a holiday bazaar at the Craft and Folk Art Museum this weekend (their Holiday Bazaar is on Saturday 12/4), and check out the Los Angeles Times' wonderful BUY LOCAL neighborhood guide to handmade things.

Sounds of the Season: We love classic Christmas songs sung by a full chorus, and also throw on the Special Olympics compilation albums (Sting singing "I Saw Three Ships" is pretty great). We aren't susceptible to every pop star that puts out a holiday album, but are tickled by Pink Martini's latest.

Giving Back:
Most charities have a wish list, so let the kids check out these lists and give a gift to a child their age. We always get Target gift cards and send them to foster kids through United Friends of the Children. Here is their Holiday Wish List. Our favorite charity for kids to learn about during the holidays is Heifer International. Choose how much you want your kids to give away and then let them choose whether they want to give a pig, a cow or some honeybees!

Our wishes for a happy holiday season.

Kids Off The Couch