Summer Goals Met: Art + Tech with KUBO and Splash & Bubbles

Published on Friday, September 16th, 2016


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.


Skip Brittenham’s YA and AR Novel Are Real Trip Between Worlds!

Published on Monday, July 18th, 2016


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.


Woofstock 90210, PBS Summer Learning Event, and XOJ9 Full Spectrum are THIS Weekend!

Published on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Click here for the Louis XIV Fun. Fine. Art. boutique!

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!
2016 Woofstock 90210 Flyer Eblast

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!
Join PBS SoCal for great summer learning resources!

If you can’t bear to leave the house (no judgement here on that!), be sure to check out XOJ9’s hot new collection of work in the FULL SPECTRUM online auction. I’m loving all the pieces, especially A Street in Culver City. Here are some details from her collection – stop by and bid!
A sneak peek at XOJ9 aka Jeannine Chanin Penn's works with FULL SPECTRUM online auction - click for more!


Revisiting ROOTS with Homegirls Elise and Lola Fyke

Published on Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

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.


Missing My Mistress…

Published on Friday, May 13th, 2016
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.

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…


New Wave of Skincare with Sound Waves!

Published on Thursday, May 12th, 2016

When I was approached by @skinwave_care to come to their clinic to try their treatments I was really interested – a way to lessen wrinkles with no needles, surgery, or chemicals? Sign me up! The treatments were administered by charming mathematical genius and scientific brained George Zaoui, who is the founder and owner of the patented machine that sends sound waves through the skin, thus reducing flaws and fine lines. First, I was horrified at my “before" (bottom left), with my nasolabial redness and splotch, but with each treatment, I can see how extended visits these would fade away. The treatments, which feel like a cross between a T.E.N.S. machine and a massage are very hypnotic and relaxing! You can see that after only four visits (bottom right, with NO makeup or moisturizer!), the splotchiness and deeper wrinkles were more relaxed. A huge bonus is that you can immediately put on makeup and get on with your day – no peeling or recovery time. I can see this as being a terrific regimen for anyone who wants to stay away from traditional plastic surgery techniques like peels and injectables. The price of four starter treatments and monthly maintenance compare to less than the price of a facial or massage at one of our finer spas here in the ‘hood. #skinwave #beauty #skincare #wrinkles #ridofwrinkles

A photo posted by alexandra90210 (@alexandra90210) on


Erin Go Bragh 2016 style

Published on Thursday, March 17th, 2016

At the St. Paddy’s Day Parade in the Irish Channel, New Orleans, circa 1997

Missing my Mississippi and New Orleans crazy parades today. The biggest thrill I get around here is to send the Critter to school with green cookies and to get out my green.

Have a safe and FUN St. Patricks Day!


HUGE Announcement! My Four Legged Baby Debuts at Woofstock 90210!

Published on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

UPDATE: Woofstock 90210 will now take place Sunday June 26th from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM

Louis XIV of Beverly Hills in Rococo

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!
Join Louis XIV of Beverly Hills and BeverlyHillsMom at Woofstock 90210 2016!


Time to READY JET GO!

Published on Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Tomorrow morning PBS Kids will premiere Ready Jet Go!, its rocking new show from the creators of Dinosaur Train, complete with songs that make you want to dance and cool science facts from a real FEMALE NASA scientist. I first became aware of the show last spring when I attended PBS Annual Meeting in Austin. I was thrilled to meet creator Craig Bartlett, because Dinosaur Train was The Critter’s favorite for two years of his eight year life. I can recall Critter and I snuggling up to watch and singing the songs that didn’t bore or irritate me. I marveled at how he actually would retain the knowledge that I would have had a hard time grasping in college, due to the great writing and the interstitials with Dr. Scott the paleontologist. It was obvious to me that Ready Jet Go! would have the same effect, as I could not get the theme song out of my head. This is a good thing, because it may have FINALLY taught me all the planets in the solar system.

During our visit to NASA last summer we met up with Amy Mainzer, an actual rocket scientist who performs experiments on Ready Jet Go!, and were amazed at how cool (and un-selfconsciously gorgeous) she is. I am now always thinking that if I had known Amy and Craig back in my barely-passing-Astronomy college days, I probably would have aced the class. I have now watched Amy create a comet with her own two (heavily gloved) hands with every day materials, and listened to Craig perform new songs from the show that made me want to party down, even if it was 8:30 AM with no alcohol involved.

Produced by Wind Dancer Films, “READY JET GO! follows two neighborhood kids: Sean, who has an all-consuming drive for science facts, and Sydney, who has a passion for science fiction and imagination. They both befriend the new kid on their street, Jet Propulsion, whose family members happen to be aliens from the planet Bortron 7. Together, they explore our solar system and the effects it has on the science of our planet, all while learning about friendship and teamwork along the way.”

Speaking with Executive Producer Dete Meserve at PBS Press Tour where the comet making and booty shaking was instigated, I find that she also is all about bringing science experiments into real life. She shared that at a recent dinner party in her home a question about gravity prompted moving the party outside to test theories. I confessed to her that my college GPA was dragged waaaaay down by the fact that I could never pass a science, causing my friends to band together to drag me through Astronomy 101 and 102 so I could finally graduate. If only I’d been taught to think about science as fun early on the way The Critter is being taught, I’d have been spared all that stress!

Be sure to check your local PBS station’s for air times, and if you’d like to catch up on Dinosaur Train, watch full episodes on PBS Kids, or Netflix!

Amy Mainzer creates a Comet at the PBS Winter Press Tour  2016
Amy makes a Comet!


Golden Globe Memory at the Scout House (or, Only in Beverly Hills…)

Published on Monday, January 11th, 2016

Yesterday was truly a shining example of how business as usual in our town created a surreal-is-this-really-happening? type experience. That we might get a lesson on the technology of fighting terrorism and that I would be introduced to a Golden Globe winner shortly before the win was far from what occurred to me as I was putting together an activity for the Bear Pack and worrying about how we would get to the Scout House, a mere half mile away. The Scout House is a block from the Beverly Hilton, which meant that block was included in a concerted effort to foil any terrorist nonsense that could negatively affect the Globes. In fact the driveway of the house had become a tactical staging post for the FBI, the LA County Sheriff’s Hazmat team, bomb detection personnel, the DEA and the actual check in point for attendee entrance was right smack in front of our Scout House

After much figuring and irritating the BHPD’s non emergency operator, we decided to park at Dr. Leila’s house, then walk the block and a half to the Scout House. This was to be a particularly bittersweet meeting at our Scout House, because it was to be the last. The Los Angeles Country Club wants their plot of land back, and though the club’s Board has decided to allow us to move the house rather than demolish it, we will have to find a new site to move the house, not to mention fund it.

We really had to make that meeting, whether or not the Golden Globes were happening. Eighty years of history are being shoved aside, moved along, and we needed to pay homage by making necklaces with each Scout’s name spelled out in Morse Code, and for the Pack to keep going.

It wasn’t exactly easy to hold the attention of boys with Morse Code when there are tactical weapons and bomb detecting jeeps to explore, but we made a deal that if they behaved through the meeting then we would allow the gracious offer of the LA County Sheriff to give the Scouts a tour of the Hazmat vehicle and that they could commence crawling all over the jeep too. They paid rapt attention to every word from Detective Seibel and Captain Ewell – there was actual glee going on, so much that we forgot that the red carpet for the Golden Globes was happening, even though hundreds of black SUVs and limos were stop-starting a few feet away, the last checkpoint before their destination.

I looked up and saw that Rebecca Eaton of PBS had asked her driver to stop so that she could ask what the bomb detecting jeep was. I explained to her and briefly explained that life in Beverly Hills puts us in these funny situations, that BeverlyHillsMom advocates PBS Kids, and she introduced me to Wolf Hall producer Mark Pybus, I said “See you at Press Tour” then they went and won!

I am going to take this as a good omen for the Scout House, and for everything I need to do this year. Just get up and do it – you will be glad you did.