Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kids Off The Couch - The March Radar Screen

We were mourning the end of the Olympics ("Oh, Canada!"), but now that the weather has changed, we're all about finalizing spring break plans!

All About Alice: Tim Burton's 3D extravaganza, Alice in Wonderland, is turning the competition topsy-turvy at the box office, and we're having some fun examining why Lewis Carroll's nonsense has enjoyed such longevity in the public's mind. We loved hearing an NPR story over the weekend about the mathematical metaphors in the children's tale. Turns out, Carroll used a story he'd written about a girl called Alice as a diatribe against the increasing abstraction in Algebra. Funny - our tweeners complain about that, too! For more on Carroll (whose real name was Charles Dodgson), we love Dreamchild, an elegant film that imagines the famous story's creation from Alice's point of view, and includes characters like the Mad Hatter played by Jim Henson puppets. While you're engaged in all things Alice, why not take the chance to compare Burton's film with Disney's classic 1951 animated version? Or a wonderful adaptation from 1933 that stars Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and W.C. Fields -- in heavy costumes -- considered by many to be the truest adaptation of the novel. If you're interested in a literary approach to the text, try The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition and, for an old stand-by birthday gift for the wee set, we love the Pop-Up version of the book.

Water, Water, Everywhere: Did news about our near miss with a tsunami make you think about surfing? Check out a new film starring Kelly Slater called Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D, playing at the California Science Center's IMAX theater. While you're there, check out museum's completely re-figured Ecosystems exhibit -- opening March 25. (Tickets required, so click here for Timed Entry passes).

Seasonal Eating: Sunday marks the start of Persian New Year, so grab some yummy rice and kabobs at our favorite spot, Javan. If your household is trying to consume less meat, you'll appreciate the exuberance of March 20th's Meatout.

Dance at the Music Center: March 20 marks the latest free Family Programming at the Music Center with
Bolivian and Equadorian dancers. Get your tickets on the plaza downtown for 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM shows -- free!

LA Story: The story of high school math teacher (and local hero) Jaime Escalante was made famous by the film Stand and Deliver. Click here for our Popcorn Adventure on this excellent film, that stars Eddie Olmos. Escalante has recently contracted bladder cancer, and has been back in the news lately as his current and former students are rallying to support him, both financially and emotionally.

His Beak Can Hold More than his Belly-Can! Our boys were doing a beach clean-up for Heal the Bay last weekend, and were startled to see so many dead Brown Pelicans. We turned to the International Bird Rescue Research Center and discovered that recent storms have, for some reason, affected this breed in staggering numbers. The IBRRC has been treating hundreds of pelicans but needs help feeding them while they're under care -- pelicans eat a lot of fish! You, or your child's classroom, can help them by adopting a pelican.

Manuscripts Are In: The Secret of Kells was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, and we suspect it will make a brief stop in local theaters soon. We recommend it as a cool introduction to The Getty Center's latest manuscript exhibit Building the Medieval World (March 2 through mid-May), which explores architecture -- castles! -- in the medieval world.

DVD Notes: Three fun films came out on DVD recently. We liked Disney's Ponyo, and thought Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs was a fun take on one of our favorite books. Coco Before Chanel tells the story of Coco Chanel's rise to fame, and Audrey Tautou is a perfect fit to play fashion's original and most famous icon -- best for teens or adult fashionistas.

More Ice and Snow! Kids love tracking the Iditarod, Alaska's famous sled-dog race, online and TODAY marks the day when the first mushers cross the finish line. Click over to read our
Popcorn Adventure - we paired it it with the fabulous animated tale Balto -- or go to the official Iditarod Race site. Or, if your kids revved up about ice hockey during the Olympics, be sure to check out Miracle, based on the US v USSR game in the 1980 games.

Finally: If you liked the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, check out the movie - it opens on March 19. Click here for our Popcorn Adventure about the books.
Kids Off The Couch
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