Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They Make It Easy Bein' Green: 'The Muppets' at the El Capitan Theatre

I realize I'm probably the last person on the planet to see 'The Muppets'. We had an invitation to see it a couple of weeks ago, but alas life and turkey preparations got in the way. My 13-year-old has already seen the movie and loved it and is determined to get the rest of the family on board, so we'll be going in the next week or so if she has her way. Which she always does – how is it that 13-year-olds always get their way? I must learn their secret so I can use it the next time the phone company says I'll have to wait for a whole week for service.

When we do finally go and see 'The Muppets', it will be at the El Capitan Theatre. Not only is the theater itself plush and comfortable, but there is a Sing-a-long with Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy before each movie. You won't get that at your local multiplex, only a guy in an ill-fitting uniform telling you to turn your cellphone off and to stop talking. So much less fun.

And to add to the Muppet mania, on select days the El Capitan is offering a chance to attend Disney’s Most Sensational Muppet Party before or after the movie at Disney’s Soda Fountain & Studio Store. There's food and cupcake decorating, a special gift and a commemorative photo for each guest. And don't forget that anything you order at the Soda Fountain can be brought into the theater to be enjoyed during the movie. Although, out of respect for Miss Piggy you might want to skip the BLT. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

The Muppets is at the El Capitan Theater from Nov. 23 - Jan. 8. Go here for tickets. The Most Sensational Muppet Party is only offered on select days, so check the website for availability or call 818-845-3110.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hats off (and on) to Super Mario 3D Land

This is going to date me, but the first game I remember playing on a home gaming system was Super Mario Brothers. I'm talking about the original one that came out back in 1985, the one that you played on a system the size of a small car. I'd sit down, adjust my fanny pack and my leg warmers and settle in for a few hours trying to get Mario to collect those coins and mushrooms. Times were simpler back then – all I had to worry about was getting off the couch to flip over my Lionel Richie cassette.

To refresh your memory – if you were alive back then –here's what the original game looked like. And no, this isn't a cave painting:

Times have changed. We just received Super Mario 3D Land from the awesome people at Nintendo. It has all the things you love about the Super Mario games, but with new game-play strategies utilizing the Nintendo 3DS system's 3D visuals. In other words, if this were the Super Mario from my day, I could see that mushroom coming RIGHT AT ME.

To get us in the mood, they sent over these hats that are being modeled by modern-day lifeforms:

In case you're wondering, the hat on the right represents Mario once he changes into his famous Tanooki suit. If you don't know what the hat on the left is, well, I'm not sure there's anything we can do for you.

Here's a trailer to give you an idea of what Super Mario 3D Land looks like. I'm going to turn down my Lionel Richie cassette and watch it with you:

Oh, what the hell – here's some Lionel for you too:

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Listening To: Lady Antebellum's Own The Night

I'm not a big fan of country music. And when my 15-year-old daughter – a fan of everything from the most indie of bands to the most mainstream – started begging me to take her to a Lady Antebellum concert at the Troubadour a couple of months back, I may have made a snarky comment about them on Facebook. That prompted a few of my friends to suggest that I give the band a chance, with many of them starting off with, "I'm not a country music fan either, BUT..." and then launching into the reasons I was wrong. Although they did fall silent when I suggested they take my daughter to the concert. Hmmm.

So when I was offered a chance to review their new album "Own The Night", I took it as a sign to take my friends' (and my daughter's) advice and give the band a listen. I'm glad I did – although it won't turn me into a die-hard country music fan, it did give me a new appreciation for the band and their musicianship.

And I'm not entirely sure if Lady Antebellum is a country band anyway, or more of a rock band with a country tinge to it. And maybe that's its appeal for me – I find it much more palatable than traditional country music songs, many of them with themes I have a hard time relating to. I've learned my lesson, though - I won't be making any snarky comments about that on Facebook.

"We Owned The Night," the second single released from the album is my favorite, while I can't seem to stop humming "Love I've Found In You." (Which is probably one of the songs on the disc that does sound most like a traditional country tune. What is happening to me?) I'm less of a fan of the ballads on the album, with the exception being the first single, "Just A Kiss." But the catchy, breezy "Singing Me Home" reminds me of something I might have listened to over and over again on my turntable when I was a high schooler, sipping a Tab and drawing hearts on my notebook.

Speaking of high school, here's a review of the album from my 15-year-old, the true Lady A fan in the family. (Note: My husband ended up taking her to that show at the Troubadour, and even he came away more impressed than he thought he'd be.)
After winning five Grammys with their smash hit album, 'Need You  Now,' Lady Antebellum wows us again with their third album, 'Own the  Night.' This album has a song for any kind of mood, from the upbeat party anthem 'Friday Night' to a reminiscent love song, 'Dancing Away With My Heart.' The album also features heartbreaking love ballads like 'Cold As Stone' and 'As You Turn Away,' which really show the  amazing vocal talent of lead singers Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, and of course, the fantastic piano and guitar skills of Dave Haywood.
The album has a sense of nostalgia to it, bringing you back to the carefree days of young love with songs like 'We Owned the Night.' And as usual, Lady Antebellum delivers their songs with perfect harmonies and beautiful instrumentals. Whether you want to curl up with your loved one or just have a good old time with your friends, 'Own the Night' has a song just for you. Also, if you want to experience the music live, the trio begins their very first arena headlining 'Own the Night' tour tonight, which is traveling all over the country. Check if they're coming to your city; it's definitely not something you want to miss!

Lady Antebellum is currently on their 'Own The Night' 2012 World Tour. Check here for tour dates and tickets.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Wanna Be Your Superhero: Kirby's Helping Kids

I'm totally suspicious of people knocking on my door. I automatically think it's either an axe murderer or a rug salesman, both of those being equally scary and equally unwelcome. Most people who want to get in touch with me would either text me or email me and would never dream of knocking on the door. Man, I guess I just gave permission to all the axe murderers and rug salesman to email me now.

But recently I opened the door to find this:

It didn't look scary at all, so I opened it up. Then my paranoia took over and I thought of Pandora's Box and was certain that I had just unleashed evil on the world, but then I saw this:

Kirby's Return To Dream Land! And Kirby CAKE POPS! Not scary or evil in the least bit. In fact, the total opposite of scary and evil – cute and delicious. Although that one cake pop in the top left does look like a rug salesman that came by once.

Here's a trailer for the game:

This was yet another awesome gift I received as a Nintendo Ambassador. It was sent to give my girls and I a chance to check out Kirby's new game, but more importantly to announce Nintendo's partnership with the Starlight Children's Foundation – a foundation committed to improving the quality of life for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and injuries by providing entertainment, education and family activities.

And they've come up with a clever way to get your kids involved: Just as Kirby uses his 'Super Abilities' in the game to help his friends, Nintendo is asking kids all over the country what 'Super Ability' they'd like to have to help others. They can go to the Super Ability microsite to download a coloring sheet and describe their 'Super Ability' – it might get posted on the Nintendo site!

And as a total non-sequitur and because ever since I heard the words 'Super Ability' I couldn't get the Entourage theme song out of my head, here it is so you can have it stuck in yours. Hey, it beats listening to the doorbell ring.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Winnie the Pooh (and Breakfast, Too!) at the El Capitan Theatre

Who knew my teenagers would be so excited to meet Winnie-The-Pooh? I was invited to a screening of Disney's new Winnie the Pooh movie at the El Capitan Theater as well as a pre-show character breakfast at the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store and I had initially thought I would pass it up – while my girls are still very much into Disneyland, I thought they'd roll their eyes at seeing an animated movie and the prospect of meeting a big, sweet bear in a red shirt.

Boy, was I wrong.

The last time I saw them this excited was when they discovered that the local high school's boy's cross country team runs right through our neighborhood, shirtless. They didn't even balk when I told them we'd have to get up early on a Saturday in order to make it to the breakfast by 9:15. Who knew that Winnie the Pooh was such a chick magnet?

Seriously, when they saw him appear in the doorway, they started squealing like a couple of - well, girls. It was as if they'd spotted the boy's cross country team running behind him.

Hipper than the average bear.
The pre-show Breakfast With Pooh was a huge hit with my girls. Along with getting their famous Mickey Mouse Belgium Waffle, they were genuinely excited when Pooh came around to our table and greeted them personally. I'm not kidding, my 13-year-old said, with all sincerity, "This is better than the time I met Miley Cyrus." Sorry, Miley, but you've been trumped by a bear.

Here's the menu – I had the scrambled eggs and bacon. Confession: I couldn't decide between the bacon and sausage so I had my 15-year-old, who doesn't eat meat, order the sausage and then I took it. Stop looking at me like that.

Bacon or sausage? It was like Sophie's Choice.

Here's an added bonus: According to our waitress, anything you order from the Disney Soda Fountain can be taken into the El Capitan Theater. So of course I had my coffee refill put into a to-go cup. I would have done the same with the waffle but it was gone shortly after I snapped this photo.

Get yer coffee and Mickey Waffle to go.
Seeing any movie at the El Capitan is a unique experience, and this was no different. It started off with an organist playing a medley of Disney tunes followed by a little pre-show by that stud himself, Winnie-The-Pooh.

I'm telling you, he's got the teenage girls wrapped around his paw.
The movie itself is sweet and lovely to look at, just what you'd expect from a story about Christopher Robin and all his friends in the Hundred-Acre-Wood. This is a brand-new movie that will have a limited run at the El Capitan and is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

And here's the kicker – as if my teens needed yet another reason to love it - it features the music of their absolute favorite person, Zooey Deschanel. I know, right? So now my girls are hooked on the song, 'So Long' that Zooey sings in the closing credits. Man, now Pooh's a teen dream and has indie cred. Put a hoodie on him and next he'll be headlining at Coachella.

This was a great experience all around. While it's perfect for families with younger kids, I was excited to find something I could do with my teens that was fun for them and nostalgic for me. It once again proves how timeless Disney is, and I have to give them kudos for providing entertainment that's wholesome while still managing to pique the interest of older kids. And for proving a silly old bear can even hold his own against Hannah Montana. And maybe even a pack of sprinting, skinny high school boys.

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Winnie The Pooh is at the El Capitan Theater from Nov. 4 - Nov. 20. The pre-show Breakfast With Pooh is only offered on select days, so check the website for availability (I found it fairly confusing to figure out the breakfast/movie tickets on the website – you might be better off calling the box office at 818-845-3110.)

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Teenage Scream: Hulu Plus Is Coming to Nintendo 3DS and Wii

Hear that? It's the sound of my teenagers jumping up and down and screaming. Oh look – now they're hugging the Wii and gazing at their Nintendo 3DS and saying, "OMIGOD can you BE any more awesome?"

What's the reason for this love fest? Nintendo has announced that you'll soon be able to access Hulu Plus through the Wii and Nintendo 3DS consoles. So not only will my girls be able to watch (and re-watch) their beloved Glee through the Wii on our TV (instead of the computer) anytime they want, they can watch Modern Family on their 3DS while sitting in Starbucks. Can their lives get any more perfect?

Here's the skinny from Nintendo:
With Hulu Plus, you’ll be able to instantly stream thousands of TV episodes – including the entire current seasons of popular shows like Modern Family, Glee, Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser, House and Grey’s Anatomy – from premium content partners like ABC, Comedy Central, FOX, NBC, MTV and many more. Hulu Plus also offers access to classic TV favorites like Lost, Battlestar Galactica, The Hills and hundreds of popular and award-winning movies. Hulu Plus is available through a separate subscription fee of $7.99 per month with limited advertising. 
I've said it before and it's true – there are few things from my girls' childhood that they haven't lost interest in, and their Nintendo devices are among them. I have to admit that the Wii gets much more action than their 3DS and DSi these days, but I think that's about to change – knowing that Darren Criss' Glee performances will soon be at their beck and call has renewed sudden interest in their handheld devices. And I know more than a few parents that have held off on buying the Nintendo 3DS who will certainly be snapping one up now, if only for themselves – the thought that they'll be able to watch House and Lost while waiting in line at the bank? Priceless.

Hulu Plus will be available on Wii and Nintendo 3DS by the end of 2011. Or as my teens put it, "Not soon enough."

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