Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bolt Is No Ordinary Dog

Most people I know with kids rush out on opening weekend to see movies as soon as they hit the theaters. We're just the opposite, preferring to wait until the crowds have died down and our children are the last ones amongst their friends to see a particular movie, setting them up for constant ridicule and taunting. They come home saying things like, "Lindsay's seen Wall-E! Katie's seen Wall-E! When am I going to see Wall-E?" We then give them our standard response, "Next week!" and then we just try to keep stalling until one of their friends takes them to see it or until it comes out on DVD, whichever comes first.

Not so with Bolt, the Disney movie about the ordinary dog who plays a superhero, and then takes an extraordinary journey to find out that he is, in fact, a superhero. That dog is so powerful, it got us out of our house to see the movie even before it opened! Granted, we were invited to a special screening of Bolt in 3D at the amazing El Capitan Theater, but still. I say it takes one badass dog to make sure my kids aren't the laughing stock of the playground. And to make the experience even more special, we were treated to a live holiday stage show before the movie. Take that Lindsay and Katie!

We all loved Bolt. It's a rare movie that gets both the kids and parents laughing, but this one did. (Of course, you all know that since you rushed out to see it this past weekend.) Rhino, the hamster is one of my favorite characters in a Disney movie ever, and I love that he is voiced by one of the story artists at Disney, and not by a celebrity. Sort of an ordinary soul doing extraordinary things - hey, just like Bolt!

Even crazier, we all liked it so much I may be taking my girls to see it again, and bringing their friends along. This is unheard of, going to see a movie twice before it's relegated to one of those scary bargain theaters with gum on the seats. I told you that Bolt was no ordinary dog

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Get your tickets here to see Bolt at the beautiful, historic El Capitan Theater. The show opens with a live holiday stage show that kids will love. Also, a chance to hear the Wurlitzer Organ - maybe not so thrilling for the kids, but us dinosaurs love it.

Many thanks to Scott Howard at Walt Disney Studios for making this day possible!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Jonas Brothers at the Roxy: Like the Rolling Stones, Only Much, Much Closer

More than a few years ago when I was a teenager, I won tickets to see the Rolling Stones on the local radio station. I popped out my retainer, put on my rainbow suspenders, grabbed a friend and headed down to the Forum in Inglewood. We took our seats, ten rows from the stage. We were so close I could see the sweat on Mick Jagger's face, and if I was a little more aggressive back then I would have pushed that woman aside who scored Keith Richards' guitar pick. It was, and still is, one of the most amazing concerts I've ever seen, and the closest I ever came to a band as huge as the Rolling Stones.

Until Friday night, when my two tween daughters and I went to the private Jonas Brothers concert at the Roxy.

(Okay, calm down all you music snobs out there - I'm not comparing the two bands musically, but you have to admit that in terms of popularity, the Jonas Brothers are eliciting the same type of frenzy that the Rolling Stones did in their day. So, put down that bat.)

The concert was a kickoff for American Eagle's new 77kids clothing line. We were invited guests of 77kids, and were treated like real VIPs - a rep from the company met us outside, gave us wristbands and whisked us in a side door. We were one of the first people inside, so my girls grabbed a place right up front, so close they were leaning on the stage If you've ever been to the Roxy you know what a tiny place it is, so the idea that they would even be in such close proximity to - gulp - the Jonas Brothers had my girls excited beyond belief. My 12-year-old spent the first 45 minutes calling all her friends on her cell phone. I think every conversation started off with, "Okay, okay - guess where I am?" and ended with three omigods and a high-pitched squeal.

From a parent's perspective, the concert was a brilliant idea, and a huge success. The staff of 77kids and the staff at the Roxy were beyond accommodating and really, really nice - something you don't often see at music venues. It was a big change from the Ting Tings concert we took our daughter to a few months ago at the El Rey, where the security staff was unbelievably rough, and rude - they tried to take my daughter's gum away since no gum chewing was allowed inside. Forget weapons and bottles - one can only imagine what damage a 10-year-old could inflict with a stick of Orbit.

When the concert started, it was still hard to believe how close we were, and with only a few friendly security guards between us and what is probably the biggest boy band in the world right now. I was standing towards the back of the crowd while my girls stayed up front by the stage - but by 'back' I mean I was at most fifteen feet from the stage. It was hard to get across to my girls just how crazy this was, how millions of tween girls (and older) would give their right, tattoo-free arm to be in their shoes right now.

Well, here's where I admit that I actually like the Jonas Brothers, and can actually sing along to couple of their songs. While I'm not sure about the whole purity ring thing, they seem like genuinely nice kids who really enjoy what they're doing, and make a real effort to connect with their fans. They put on an energetic, heartfelt show, not that that made any difference to the fans that night; I have a feeling they could have come on stage and combed their hair and the crowd still would have gone wild. Both of my girls got to touch Nick and Joe's (or was it Kevin and Joe's?) hands as they reached out to the crowd, something I know I would have killed to do at the Rolling Stones concert but what was beyond impossible without being knocked unconscious by one of the Hells Angels.

And in what I can only describe as karmic or sort of full-circle-ish, at the end of the concert my youngest daughter scored a guitar pick from Kevin Jonas. As I said, like the Rolling Stones only much, much closer.

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Check out the 77kids line here, where you can actually put together an outfit for your kid right there online. Ingenious. And the best part? Not a thong or midriff-baring tank top in sight. In other words, clothing for kids that is actually appropriate for kids. What a concept.

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Thanks to Mollie Lange, Steve Coulson and Beth Blecherman for making this night possible!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boogie SuperStar for Wii: Best Thing to Happen to Tween Girls Since Cheetos and Root Beer

When I opened the box from EA Games and saw Boogie SuperStar inside, I knew what my tween daughters' reaction would be. As far as Wii games go, this one's a no-brainer. Take their favorite feature of the Wii - the ability to design your own character - combine it with songs they actually like, package it with a microphone and let them dance and sing in an American-Idol-like competition. Would my girls love it? Do tweens like stuffing their faces with junk food and washing it down with carbonated beverages? Uh, that would be a definite yes.

Boogie SuperStar can be played by 1 - 4 players and lets them compete in a singing and dancing competition to win new outfits, unlock new songs and new dance moves and ultimately become Boogie SuperStar, or the equivalent of (insert name of favorite American Idol winner here.) The best part about the game for my music-savvy girls is the playlist: a hip mix of pop, urban and techno tunes, and not just the usual bland fare you see in most karaoke games. Some of their faves: Natasha Bedingfield (who is the featured spokesperson for the game), Katy Perry, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Metro Station and Good Charlotte. Hey, there's even my favorite, Kanye West - I plan on doing a little singing and dancing myself one day when the kids are at school. And the shades are drawn.

(Note: My girls pointed out that many of the songs are covered by other singers, although I couldn't tell the difference. Then again, I don't know my Feist from my Regina Spektor from my Ingrid Michaelson, either.)

If you're looking for a great gift for tween girls this holiday season, Boogie SuperStar is it. My girls have played this game solo, with just the two of them, and with a room full of friends - it's always a big hit. With or without the Cheetos and root beer.

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tags: | nintendo wii games reviews | |

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jonas Brothers Concert: LIVE TODAY AT 3PM EST!

Don't forget to watch the concert here online. And look for my kids - my 12-year-old is the one chatting up the security guard up front, and my 10-year-old may be trying to climb on stage.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Monopoly For Wii: Old School Is New Again!

This past summer while we were vacationing with friends at their lake house, my daughters learned proper diving form, jet skied for the first time and learned how to ice a cake. This is the ideal vacation for my husband and I - it's great to hang out with people who can teach our kids stuff. My feeling is that we taught them all the really important skills - walking, talking, how to order a proper drink at Starbucks - so I think it's really up to others to teach them everything else. It's worked out pretty good so far, but I'm getting a little worried about my 10-year-old, who is picking up some pretty bad habits from the drunk guy who's been tutoring her down at the bowling alley.

One of the other things they learned from our friends' two daughters was how to play Monopoly, the classic board game that we all grew up with. Our girls quickly became hooked, and the four them spent hours buying and selling properties, going to jail, arguing and going bankrupt. (It's like the AIG story, without the government bailout!) We promised them we'd buy the game when we got home, but like everything else, we never got around to it. So I was happy to receive a copy of Monopoly for Wii from EA Games to try out - I looked at it as all the fun of Monopoly, without the paper money to clean up. I liked it already.

My girls gave it a test run with their friends - there can be up to four players but each person has to have their own Wii controller. (We only have three, so two of the girls formed a team.) Their previous knowledge of the Monopoly board game helped, as they jumped right in and were able to start playing immediately. One of the features they loved was the ability to choose different themes for the board, which is reflected in the gamepieces, the board graphics and even Mr. Monopoly's clothes. Depending on your mood, choose from Classic, Future, Cheese (!) or my girls' favorite, Sweet, where you can have a gamepiece that's a cupcake. Continued play will allow you to unlock even more game boards - my girls had fun coming up with their own ideas for possible themes: MySpace, iTunes, Slumber Party and my favorite - World Without School (don't ask.)

From there most of the rules are the same as the Monopoly game we've all come to love, with one major exception: When you land on a property, your only choices are to either buy it or put it up for auction, and players try to outbid each other for the deed. Also, unlike the traditional version there are in-game mini games that players can challenge each other with. One that I didn't get to see but that is mentioned in the game literature is the "Get Out of Jail" game where you saw prison bars to escape. I love it! I'm wondering if the Sweet version of the game has a gamepiece that is a cake with a file baked into it, or maybe the Future version has a game card that allows a relative to sneak a time machine into the slammer.

I'm sure Monopoly for Wii will never completely take the place of the board version of the game, but my daughters have been playing it pretty consistently and it's been a popular game during playdates. Personally, I'm thrilled that EA has decided to take traditional board games and make them popular to a whole new generation by releasing them as video games - it's a welcome break from the overabundance of violent and inappropriate games for kids. (Some other upcoming releases are Boggle and Sorry! - which we loved when we got to try them out earlier this year.) Also, I appreciate that the traditional boardgames require kids to actually think to strategize and outsmart their opponents instead of just blindly pushing buttons. Leave that to the adults and their Blackberrys, kids.

Note: One of the things my girls and their friends mentioned immediately and were "extremely disturbed by" was the fact that Mr. Monopoly was missing his monocle. I agreed, but then after some research I can't seem to find a single picture of him with his monocle. Did he ever have one to begin with? Or they thinking of Mr. Peanut, or maybe one of their math teachers?

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tags: | nintendo wii games reviews | |

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