During my senior year at Millsaps College, I completed forty two semester hours for my Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. This meant that I had a pretty crazy schedule – all I did was work at The Limited, work backstage in the theatre, direct a play for children, take theatre comp exams, take four fine art courses, found the time for the labs for all this artsyness, and a LOT of other core requirements I had not felt like taking when I was in the earlier years of my college career. My photography course required that I have my camera with me at all times, and if my professor ran across me with it off campus, I would get an extra “A” in my projects grades (or an “F” if I didn’t have it). I took this very seriously and always carried it with me, fortuitously receiving two surprise “A’s”, particularly when I was out drinking. I was shooting with my stepdad’s old Nikon F that he took with him to Viet Nam. It was very special piece of equipment with which I managed to take this selfie at three AM at the bus station in downtown, one of my favorite spots to take modern architecture photos. Some things never change. I’m still trying to entertain children with my art, I still love architecture, and I’m still at my creative best at three AM.
You may have noticed that there’s lots of Nintendo happening on my Instagram recently – it seems that when it comes to games and kids’ entertainment, the blog follows my kid. We received a brand spanking new Nintendo 3DS for review this week, and I hid it for a few days until The Critter made some good grades and did a few good deeds. When I gave it to him yesterday, I realized that it probably made him happier than most anything I’ve ever done – I think he actually had mist in his eyes. He’s very happy to be my “tester”, dove right in, and was able to play with very little interference from me, other than to set the parental controls. I already really like everything about the device, especially the easily accessed information on the Nintendo site, which explains everything a parent would want to know, and that the games rated E for Everyone.
Also being released TODAY is the Yo-Kai Watch 2, which is a game that can be played either on a the watch or the Nintendo 3DS, complete with an adorable city and characters that we love. This post from The Verge really helped me understand the worlds so I have an even higher appreciation for the design and layers that help me relate to my kiddo. The new watch can even project the characters onto the wall!
I really have to thank the folks at Nintendo for making my kid think I’m cool again – I brought home a personalized shout out video just for him from the Yo-Kai Watch Event proving I had met Evan from EvanTubeHD, and now I’m the best mom ever!
We are already in school for a month, Labor Day has come and gone, but the fun memories linger on from what felt like a super lazy summer. I didn’t make The Critter do summer camp, but secretly made a pact with myself that we would do some fun, stealthily educational and creative things to keep us sharp while we lolled in the pool or the freezing air conditioning that I love when it’s scorching heat. He told me that he had a GREAT summer, which comes to light in these photos taken from the last month(ish) of our break.
The entire month of June until June 26th, we were dealing with the loss of my wonderful father in law Harry, and tried to keep busy. He was truly one of the best people I have ever had the privilege to know.
It was quite fortunate that there was plenty of busy work getting ready for Woofstock 90210, which we worked on steadily until the event finally happened after its reschedule from the usual springtime date. It was SUCH a fun community event – we met hundreds of new dog lovers, and they all loved on the Lou. Since then, I have been minding the little store, and planning the next two Louis XIV of Beverly Hills books. The Critter learned a bit about having a paying job – he bought a ton of new Skyanders for his XBox360 with the money he makes helping me get prints mailed out and stuffing greeting cards into cellophane. We had a great Mommy and Critter lunch with my BFF Debra, where we learned to truly appreciate craft cocktails with video games for the kid and UBER. The journey to find the perfect publisher and agent continues – it’s learning a whole new set of rules and creating an entirely new network. Part of this learning was that I took a great webinar from literary agent Maria Vicente, and I feel like with each bit of information I glean, I am closer. I will probably write about this process more in the future, because it has truly blown my mind.
On two of the hottest days of the year, we trekked down to The Broad. The first trip was The Critter and me, because we did not have the impossible to get reservations and I knew that the no reservation line wait could be uncomfortably lengthy. This would be recon to assess what the absolute easiest way to handle wrangling kids, which involves eating, peeing, taking shelter from the heat, and doing a quick visit to Pershing Square to see Shard, the kinetic sculpture on display with an impending ending limited engagement. Post recon strategy worked really well! Elise and Lola joined in this time (yay they’re back for a while!), too. We valet parked ($15) at the Broad, then walked down to Pershing Square, which was really great; a flea market and live jazz, but we were completely scorched from the heat. We took a short respite at The Biltmore to cool down and rest stop, then lunch, then the Broad. My advice to non reservation line peeps: buy a ticket to Cindy Sherman (or whatever the featured exhibit is) and your two hour line wait becomes fifteen minutes. If you have the time to wait, it’s free. Check out MOCA across the street and Disney Music Hall while you’re at it. Kids love downtown – Lola and the Critter took on a whole different “city” vibe.
KUBO and the Two Strings was not a film that was on my radar this summer, but now it’s one of my all time favorites! A huge thanks to Focus Features and Laika for the invitation to screen the movie, tour the Magic of Laika exhibit at The Globe Theater and attend the premiere afterparty. I have to say that each of these invitations could have stood alone as a creative’s feast, so we were in heaven, experiencing the stop motion animated film and the exhibit of the making of KUBO, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Coraline. Beautiful Japanese folklore and the art of Origami were themes throughout, and we were able to talk to the filmmakers, including Travis Knight, the Oscar nominated CEO of Laika and director of the film. The party was a fabulous fete complete with cool activities and gifts like origami and lollipops that look like blown glass. The best part of this entire scene was the ease the filmmakers had with the open sharing of the creative process and being able to look at how digital printing and technology open new worlds for this art form. Laika is clearly at the top of the game in stop motion in the way that The Jim Henson Company paved the way for puppetry. They all are highly talented artists who love sharing their craft. As you’ll see from the photos, I could have written a book about all I learned that day, and The Critter may have discovered his future livelihood. If you haven’t seen KUBO, do it immediately. It’s that good!
Bringing up the Henson Company, I am VERY excited about the newest PBS Kids program for the little bitties, called Splash and Bubbles, which will air on PBS Kids November 23rd. Headlining the talented cast and crew are Sesame Street alums John Tartaglia and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph. The show incorporates not only the unparalleled voice and puppetry talent of the duo who performed as Oscar the Grouch and Abby Cadaby, but the puppetry has been taken to an entirely new level, using a tech board that incorporates puppetry with digital technology, creating a beautiful, hilarious animated program with STEM lessons in oceanography. Splash and Bubbles are modeled after actual fish, the series is based in real marine biology, and there are plans to work with local aquariums to create more ways to learn. I visited with Leslie and Lisa Henson about the wonderful ways that the technology gives new methods to practice the craft of puppetry. You may recall when I was first introduced to the digital artistry coming out of Henson for Sid the Science Kid by Lisa’s brother Brian – even more techniques have been created, and the result is sure to entrance your preschooler and cause them to say things like “Look! There’s a mandarin dragonette!”
When school commenced, I decided to join my creative bff’s Jeannine and Shannon at The Entrepreneur Edge Live (#TEELALive), as Jeannine would speak on one of the panel that would address branding. The event was organized by Joanna A. Turner, a globally known Advanced EFT & Master NLP Practitioner, Motivational speaker, and author, and promised to be “An EXCLUSIVE fun, TRANSFORMATIONAL and inspiring event for Female entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants, healers and thought-leaders who are on a mission to change the world!” As someone who is open to trying new things on the front of self motivation but a good fifteen to twenty years older than the average age of the 150 attendees, I can honestly say that I walked away from the event HIGHLY motivated and secure in my process and progress. The other really big message I took away from the three days of meeting relatable, intelligent, empathetic, strong, and successful women is how wonderful it is that now young women who are ready to face up to their life goals, challenges, obstacles, failures, and successes have events and a group like TEELALive to turn to for connecting and support. In my late twenties, a group like these women would have given me SOOOOOOO much courage that mere group therapy could never provide. I thought Joanna and her team did a great job of bringing out the best of a new whole new breed of entrepreneur willing to break it down and work it out to get the quality life they envision. I’ve made new connections with women I like for all different reasons who bring fresh perspective to my life and I’m so happy to have this infusion of energy. When your life’s work is all about creating things out of nothing, that energy is precious.
The Critter has also kicked off fourth grade with his Cub Scout Troop as a Webelo 1. My Perfect Husband and I have the agreement that I do the gathering of stuff for the meetings and activities, and he’s the one to take the boy to said events. So far we’ve served homemade desserts to the second shift of the Beverly Hills Police Department, rocked the annual Water Splat, and gone on a geocaching expedition. My two men spent Labor Day weekend at Mammoth, while I celebrated Elise’s birthday with Jamie and Danny at PUMP, the recovery from which took the entire weekend…er week. This gave me the perfect excuse to finish binge watching the entire Gilmore Girls seven season series on Netflix. I SO love that show, and I actually miss the characters and wonder what they’ve been doing. I cant wait to see the new season – Hooray for the revival!
Coming soon – fun photos from two awesome events for Nintendo and YoKaiWatch, and more of my new affair with old school publishing.
When I received the galley copy of Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham, I thought “Ooh cool, it has an app, I’ll give the book to The Critter to read and if he likes it, I’ll read it too”. A couple of days later as I rushed to a lovely luncheon hosted by the folks at Penguin Readers, I quizzed The Critter on whether he liked the book and he said “Yes, it’s interesting – I’ve read three chapters and I want to see what happens next”. I can tell you that a nine year old doesn’t get three chapters into a book in less than forty eight hours without it being quite interesting, so I made sure that I would have plenty to report from the lunch to continue that interest. Kids have so much instant gratification with their iPads, XBoxes and 3-D movies that parents really have to encourage reading.
So now I’m at a lovely table at the Peninsula with the author and many people who love books for young people, and I’m blown away by the personality of said author. Skip Brittenham is one of those people you come to understand once you’ve lived in an entertainment town for awhile. I call them an insider’s insider. This species of person has been behind the scenes of some of the most acclaimed creative people in Hollywood, yet I’d never heard his name. There will never be a reality show starring Skip – he mainly got into the entertainment law business because he didn’t like wearing ties. He understands that writing is a lot of work. So much work that wife Heather practically dared him to write the YA novel, saying “It’s too much work, you’ll never do it”. His first books were graphic novels on which he collaborated with veteran illustrator Brian Haberlin, one of which is “the longest original full-color graphic novel ever published”. Haberlin has again partnered with Brittenham on Between Worlds to create twenty illustrations for the book that react to an augmented reality app that absolutely blew me away!
I’ve tested the app in the short videos above in my own living room so that you can see how the experience relates to a normal setting. For those who say “great, but that will take away more reading time playing with the gadgets”, fear not – the app ONLY works with the book. The YA reader must read along for the characters to evolve. There won’t be much of a problem getting that to happen, the worlds that main characters Mayberry and Marshall magically travel to through time and space are destined to become classic escapes like Narnia or The Hobbit.
I am so excited to finally launch my Fun. Fine. Art. collection with Louis XIV as muse. The online store is set up, and if you would like to see the work in person, I will be at Woofstock 90210 this Sunday at Roxbury Park from 11:00 AM until 3:00 pm. I have had a great time putting together this little boutique, and love that I can share the pieces with real dog lovers in my neighborhood. Come see me – I have art in price points from $2.00 to $500.00, from cute greeting cards to custom original puppy portraits!
Another fun free family event, PBS SoCal and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes have partnered to celebrate National Summer Learning Day. PBS SoCal is collaborating with other LA organizations to call attention to the importance of summer learning resources and opportunities in curbing the harmful effects of summer learning loss. Join my awesome friends for some family fun and to celebrate this year’s summer learning day – last year the Critter and I had a great afternoon looking at the museum and checking out the resources!
I met actors Elise and Lola Fyke about four years ago when they spent a few months in Los Angeles with Elise’s husband’s sister, Marcie, who is my bff since junior high. I loved having some homegirls here in LA with me, so when Elise texted that she and her daughter Lola were planning to spend a few more months here from their hometown of Oxford, Mississippi (aka the “Velvet Ditch”, aka the hometown of William Faulkner, aka Ole Miss), I was looking forward to their arrival. I was also thrilled when, in less than two weeks, they managed to drive here, find a short term place here in the ‘hood, and get Lola registered at The Critter’s school.
Shortly after they arrived, my beloved father in law had a very serious heart attack and My Perfect Husband had to travel to Washington to be with his family and help manage things (he is recovering nicely, thank goodness), so with the hubby gone so much, The Critter and I have had a lot of time to play with the Fyke girls. Elise has become my running buddy – down for trips to Downtown LA and all these odd but cool events that I can never quite explain in words, Easter holidays and school events. Lola and The Critter have also become really sweet pals, so we are going to miss them terribly when they return to Oxford.
One of the fruits of their efforts is that Lola will make her television debut in the remake of ROOTS. At age ten (eleven tomorrow, her birthday!), she will act in a drama recreating the iconic series that first aired when I was exactly her age. I remember how sickened and saddened by the gripping brutality and the pain portrayed in the show. The younger generation really doesn’t have too many references like this program, and I imagine that the revival of it will stir much emotion. Mario van Peebles describes to The Hollywood Reporter the scenes that he directed with Lola as Abigail and the child who plays young Kizzy:
“How weird is it to be directing three beautiful little girls together and go, ‘OK, now this is where you call her a n—er lover?’ ” says Van Peebles. “So I would tell her, ‘OK, now remember your lines, and now absolutely forget all your lines and never say them again!’ They were like 8, 9. In between takes, they’d go play together and laugh and giggle. There were times when I had to just be the filmmaker in order to function on it. And there were times when I could just sit back and be ashamed and affected and moved and inspired as a human being.”
How does one explain this to a child? Turns out Lola didn’t know the word! Elise and her husband Harry went millennial and actually googled that “n” word for Lola to explain the context of the use of that word and why it was important to expose how people talked back then. She didn’t want to do it at first, but her agent told her “You’re an actor, just ACT”. That was all he had to say – the job has been done, and now the world will see it. We are hunkering down with tissues and rapt attention to see it at 9:00 pm Pacific.
I took 18 kids to opening weekend of Captain America : Civil War, then had an afterparty for the cake in the balcony of the AMC Century City. He better remember this when he thinks I’m annoying.
My friend Shannon says that writing is her mistress. She loves her family, but she wants to get back to her mistress. This very apt metaphor means that I have several mistresses, and each one misses me and cries for attention when I’m spending time “At Home”. I have about a thousand photos and fun spring time stories to tell on this blog (neglected Mistress #1), and I will have SO many pieces of Fun Fine Art of Louis XIV (Mistress #2) at Woofstock on June 26th, I think y’all will forgive me for neglecting #1. In the meantime, these photos will keep you posted on any late breaking…
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I have big news! I finished a project that I started a loooong time ago, and am so happy to share my excitement with y’all.
I studied art for both of my degrees, and have steadily practiced painting for my own enjoyment and occasionally for design clients and friends’ collections, but I always painted really large canvasses – pieces that would take months to finish and that required leaving poisonous and stabby accoutrements strewn about that just weren’t baby friendly. In the spirit of keeping my artist’s flame burning during The Critter’s naptimes, I decided that I would paint an homage to my first beloved four legged baby Louis XIV that would tell our story. Now that the baby with two legs has gotten bigger and I can take my eyes off him for a while, I have finally found enough time to complete the picture book about Louis XIV that I have written and illustrated.
I have a really nice dummy book and am beginning to look for a great representative to share the love of Lou with the world. The development has been some of the most joyful work I’ve ever done, and incorporates all my favorite parts of the disciplines I know best – writing, painting, design, and now retailing. I plan to continue to grow the Louis collection with new friends and cool adventures from now on.
While my picture book is (hopefully) finding its way to a fine publisher’s desk, I want to share some of the fun fine art that this project has produced. I am THRILLED to announce that the big reveal for this collection on Sunday, March 6 here in Beverly Hills at Woofstock 90210! I will be there with some of my OG’s here in the ‘hood who will share framed prints from pages of the book and the “Neoclassical Lou” drawings on paper, greeting cards, giclees, and fabulous silk scarves. It will be a fun Beverly Hills style festival, complete with the most pampered pooches in the world. It’s the perfect match for Louis’ debut.
Louis now has a website, and after the Woofstock debut will launch a store – I will keep y’all posted with the details. In the meantime, come on out to see me on March 6th at Roxbury Park!