Archives for July 2017

The Emoji Movie – Exhilarating Storyline, Wonderful Cast, Colorful Animation and More

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The Emoji Movie unlocks the never-before-seen secret world inside your smartphone. Hidden within the messaging app is Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live, hoping to be selected by the phone’s user. In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene, an exuberant emoji who was born without a filter and bursts with multiple expressions. Determined to become normal like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 and the notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak. Together, they embark on an epic app-venture through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the Code that will fix Gene. But when a greater danger threatens the phone, the fate of all emojis depends on these three unlikely friends who must save their world before it’s deleted forever. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Imani B.G. comments, “I love how the world of emojis in the smartphone relates to the human world throughout the film. It gives the audience a way to associate themselves in the plot.” See her full review below.

 

The Emoji Movie

By Imani Baptiste-Green, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age: 15
 

The Emoji Movie is a kid-friendly fun and exciting film for people of all ages to enjoy and connect with. I love how the world of emojis in smartphone relates to the human world throughout the film. It gives the audience a way to identify with the characters and the plot. Families will definitely enjoy this amusing motion film and may even learn from it.

 

Alex’s (Jake T Austin) smartphone is home to all of the emojis. Each has its own facial expression except for Gene (TJ Miller). Gene struggles with being an emoji with multiple expressions and is determined to become normal like all of the other emojis. Gene asks for help from his new best friends, Hi-5 (James Corden) and Jailbreak (Anna Faris),  a popular code breaker. During their epic adventure, the three face great danger and conflict with other characters. Join them on their experience.

 

I enjoyed every aspect of this film, but my favorite scene is when Gene realizes his uniqueness from the other emojis. Alex is having phone troubles and is on the verge of getting it fixed, which means the end for all things emojis. Gene steps in to make sure that doesn’t happen, which is a perk since he recognizes his worth. This scene sends a powerful message for kids to learn about liking themselves and recognizing their importance in the world.

 

The overall message of the film is to learn to accept who you are, no matter what others think of you. In the beginning, Gene has trouble figuring out who he is and why he isn’t like the rest. That leads him to wanting to be normal. Fortunately, Gene later realizes who he is, with a little help from his friends, and finally accepts himself. Kids and even adults can learn a lesson from this and apply it to their lives by building up their own self-confidence.

 

I recommend this film for ages 5 to 18. There are scenes that tweens and teens can enjoy, but it also contains some scenes are suitable for 5 to 13-year-olds. Adults will most likely enjoy this as well. It really is a film that the whole family will get a kick out of.

 

I rate The Emoji Movie 4 out of 5 because of its exhilarating storyline, wonderful cast, colorful animation and overall message. The Emoji Movie opens on July 28th, 2017 so, be sure to check it out so you can laugh along with the characters and enjoy it as much as I did.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

LA Zoo’s World Elephant Day Celebration Features Opportunities to Explore and Learn

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World Elephant Day, an international spotlight on Asian and African elephants to bring attention to the urgent threat of their extinction, kicks off the Los Angeles Zoo’s World Elephant Day Celebration on Saturday, August 12 and Sunday August 13, 201710 am to 4 pm. The full weekend of opportunities to explore and learn about elephants, especially the challenges they face in the wild, highlight the Zoo’s state-of-the-art Elephants of Asia exhibit with chances to learn about its four elephant residents, including Tina, Jewel, Billy and recently arrived Shaunzi, and how they’re cared for. Fascinating behind-the-scenes barn tours, available to the public only once a year, take place from 11 am to 3 pm each day. A “medical clinic” invites young guests to bring their own toy elephants – or any other animal — for an “examination” to receive a “certificate of health.” Enrichment stations will illustrate how elephants use their trunks as tools, detail African and Asian elephants’ different traits and explain elephant enrichment. Additionally, an Elephants and Sustainable Agriculture station will be staffed by participants in the Zoo’s Duttenhaver Conservation Field Study Program who have just returned from an expedition in Kenya’s Tsavo Conservation Area where they worked with local farmers to implement sustainable agriculture methods. They will share their experiences about innovative efforts to support farmers’ livelihoods while ensuring that humans and elephants are able to peacefully coexist. World Elephant Day Weekend also features conservation crafts; a photo op where guests are encouraged to take an #Elphie; an action station where guests can learn about Zoo-supported elephant conservation efforts and what they can do to help; and more, all free with paid Zoo admission.

The Los Angeles Zoo’s state-of-the-art elephant Elephants of Asia habitat, which opened in December 2010, is the largest habitat in the history of the Zoo. The sprawling exhibit, located at the very heart of the Zoo, is 6.56 acres, with over three acres of outdoor space, deep bathing pools, sandy hills, varied topography, clever enrichment opportunities, and a high-tech barn capable of caring for elephants of all sizes and ages. Elephants of Asia focuses on the rich connection between elephants and the cultures of Thailand, India, China, and Cambodia. The exhibit familiarizes guests with the challenges Asian elephants face in the wild, including their shrinking habitat, and gives visitors the opportunity to directly contribute to conservation programs that support elephants in their native countries.

World Elephant Day Celebration is part of the Zoo’s year-long 50th Anniversary “ZooLAbration.” More information about the Zoo’s 50th Anniversary is available at www.ZooLAbrate50.org.

The yearlong “ZooLAbration” began on November 28, 2016, which is the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens’ opening at its current location. Throughout the 50th anniversary year, the Zoo is spotlighting not only its key role as a world-class destination and an important community asset but also its critical successes in conservation, quality of life and premier care for animals. Having recently completed a $172 million master plan which significantly improved the Zoo facility, the Zoo marks its 50th anniversary as it embarks upon developing a new Master Plan, which will serve as a road map for the future. The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing nearly 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, as well as a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. Its responsibility toward wildlife conservation not only encompasses safeguarding the animals in its care but also actively participating in the preservation of some of the world’s most critically endangered species and their habitats. Its many conservation successes include having led the charge in saving California condors from extinction and restoring populations of these critically endangered animals to their native habitats. The Zoo’s lush grounds on 113 acres feature Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Among other highlights are an extraordinary, hands-on Hippo Encounter and face-to-face Giraffe Feedings; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and Muriel’s Ranch animal contact area; the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; a variety of daily opportunities to learn more about animals, including close-up visits, special feedings and intriguing talks; and much more. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children. As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.

Programing subject to change.

Admission to the Los Angeles Zoo is $21 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $18 for seniors (ages 62+), and $16 for children (ages 2 to 12)..  No ticket is required for children under 2.  Admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Drive in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways.  Free parking is available.  For additional information about World Elephant Day Weekend, call (323) 644-6001 or visit http://www.lazoo.org/worldelephantday/.  For general information about the Zoo, call (323) 644-4200.

Credit: The Los Angeles Zoo. Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Jamie Pham.

Ralph’s World Presents ‘Time Machine Guitar’ Album of 12 original story-songs inspired by history is available on August 4. A 'Time Machine Guitar' YouTube series also launches

Amidst a busy summer of dozens of concerts, Ralph’s World, the Grammy nominated songwriter, performer and author, will release a new album of original story-songs, Time Machine Guitar, on August 4.

 

The new album of 12 songs reflects Ralph’s World’s “quirky lyrics and solid rock sensibility”(LA Times). Time Machine Guitar takes listeners on an imaginative musical and narrative adventure through time and space,  whether it be about “Ben Franklin’s Mole,” or “Beethoven’s Horse,”  the “Young King Tut,” or “Hummingbird Tree.” Amidst all the fun, these songs often offer socially conscious messages, as in “Toy Masters of War” (with a strong nod toward Bob Dylan’s protest song), and memorable life lessons, like “Color outside the Lines.” Ralph Covert’s ability to craft instantly accessible and singable songs is clear in each of these new tracks. As MusicBox Online noted, “He’s as close to the Beatles as they get, both in terms of sound and sheer brilliance.”

 

The album liner notes will include a booklet of biographical information on the historical figures featured on the album. Historical people come to life, as Ralph paints a picture of the boy King Tut playing with toys, or Mozart and Haydn (who were real-life friends) chat about music. Ralph, who studied classical music  while beginning his career in rock music, says, “I used the song ‘Beethoven’s Horse’ as a vehicle to demonstrate the different styles of their musical compositions by recasting the same melody as each of them might have interpreted it.”  A learning guide will be available this fall.

 

A pilot for “Time Machine Guitar” originally aired on Chicago public television, WTTW.  A series of “Time Machine Guitar” episodes is launching on the Ralph’s World YouTube channel. Fans who subscribe to the channel will be the first to view new episodes every other Saturday morning. In the show, Ralph lives in a colorful tree house with his three puppet animal friends, Rani, a squirrel, Beauregard, a dog, and Malcolm, a cat. Together they make and learn about music, and go on trips through history with Ralph’s Time Machine Guitar to visit interesting people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Amelia Earhart, and Tito Puente.

 

As Ralph explains,“The show is in the spirit of Saturday morning cartoons from our childhood. It will be a music driven show that combines educational elements with an engaging and energetic sense of fun. Our hope is that kids will be inspired to learn more, and that they will feel excited about exploring their own creativity.”

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More about Ralph’s World

 

Since his first children’s recordings in the early 2000’s, Ralph’s World has won numerous awards and critical acclaim for his 12 children’s albums and music videos (released on Minty Fresh, Waterdog Records and Disney Sound). He has published four children’s books, created scores for musical theater, and has toured the nation performing for thousands of fans at venues ranging from Lollapalooza to Austin City Limits, as well as sold-out crowds at Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Symphony Space in New York and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. His last children’s album was Ralph’s World Rocks and Reads (2015).

Ralph Covert continues to lead the grown-up, Chicago-based rock band The Bad Examples, who still perform together frequently. He also records and performs solo shows. A Ralph Covert acoustic album is scheduled for early 2018, tentatively titled Little Bird. 

For the third year in a row, Ralph will curate the Lil’ Pilgrims family stage at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, TN, and he will perform there and on the main stage that weekend.

Find all upcoming concert details at www.ralphsworld.com.

Credit: Sugar Mountain PR.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Visually Stunning, Wildly Imaginative

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Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is the new adventure film from Luc Besson, the director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers. In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tristan T. comments, “From the start, it is visually stimulating. Between the wildly imaginative alien characters and the vivid and breathtaking scenery it captures the audience from beginning to end.” Arjun N. adds, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets fascinated me because of the excellent, ahead of its time special effects. The stunt work is top level. The spectacular direction delivers flair to the story.” See their full reviews below.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

By Tristan T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  From the start, it is visually stimulating. Between the wildly imaginative alien characters and the vivid and breathtaking scenery it captures the audience from beginning to end.  It is truly a fun and entertaining film to watch.

 

Based on the comic book series “Valerian and Laureline,” Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, follows two agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan)and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) as they race to capture the villain and save Alpha and the future of the universe.  It is both exhilarating and comical to watch their pursuit.

 

One complaint I have is that there is so much more to be explored in Alpha and the universe you become engrossed in.  For instance, there is a virtual reality called The Marketplace that is so amazing. If you visit www.valerianmovie.com, you get a glimpse of it.  I am crossing my fingers we will see a sequel from the writers, Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mezieres and Luc Besson.

 

My favorite character is General Okto-Bar (Sam Spruell).  I appreciate his character arc and the way he develops throughout the film.  He is very relatable and, even though he plays a general, he shows a level of connection with others not often found in that position.  The legendary director, Luc Beeson, from The Fifth Element and Lucy, to name a few, made this an extraordinary film to watch.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, some language and suggestive humor.  I recommend it for ages 11 to 18, but I truly think everyone in your family will enjoy it.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is playing in theaters now so, go check it out.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets fascinated me because of the excellent, ahead of its time special effects. The stunt work is top level. The spectacular direction delivers flair to the story.

 

The storyline is about Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who are operatives that maintain order in the human territories. Under operation from Commander Filitt (Clive Owen), the team embarks on a mission to Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets. While on the mission, the team meets shapeshifter Bubble (Rihanna), who helps them. However, a mystery at the center of Alpha could threaten the existence of every person in the city. Only Valerian can unlock the secret beneath the threat.

 

Dane DeHaan as Valerian bravely presents his character who tries to save the universe, while at the same time impress his partner, Laureline. Dane is excellent in his battle scenes, especially in the final showdown. Cara Delevingne, as Laureline, expresses her extreme love and confidence in her effort to rescue Alpha. Clive Owen as Commander Filitt seems heroic, but puzzles Valerian with his classified files. He is my favorite character. Rihanna, as Bubble, can transform into any shape to help the team. She also represents a slave who craves freedom. Sam Spruell as General Octo Bar is noble and firm in how he presents his orders and also tries to solve the mystery of the classified files of Commander Filitt.

 

The direction by Luc Besson is splendid. Innovative camera techniques are used to present most of the locales, especially in The City of a Thousand Planets. My favorite scene is when Valerian takes a shortcut across the city. It is a treat to watch, due to how the environments switch. My only problem in this film is that it jumps everywhere following various sub-plots, which makes it difficult to follow. Despite that flaw, the special effects make it worthwhile.

 

The film’s message is that it is sometimes necessary to break conventional rules for a worthy cause. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and brief language. The movie releases in theaters on July 21st, so check it out for one, ahead of its time sci-fi film.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

Paby Launches Smart Pet Location And Activity Tracker Smart Device Easily Attaches to Collars and Harnesses, and Features GPS, LBS and Wireless Technologies to Provide Pet Owners with Real-Time Activity/Wellness Tracking No Matter Pet’s Location

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Paby recently introduced its 3G wireless smart pet tracker that monitors a pet’s location and activity to provide owners with peace of mind when it comes to their furry loved ones’ safety and wellness.  Equipped with a combination of advanced 3G GPS, LBS (Location Based Services) and Wi-Fi technologies, Paby provides consumers with real-time, highly accurate tracking information, no matter where their pets are.  Paby, which works as a stand-alone device, allows users to set “virtual fences” using their smartphones to receive real-time alerts when their pets leave the designated “zone.”  And, with a durable band that fits any sized collar (small/large), the activity tracker allows users to also monitor their pet’s number of steps, calories burned, sleep patterns and the intensity of their play time.   Paby is available for $79.99 at www.paby.com.  

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Paby features a small, light (31.6 grams), durable and waterproof design available in a variety of colors and patterns (“Spider Red,” “Future Green,” “Allstar,” “Midnight Black” and “Bubble Pink”) to match the pet’s personality. This innovative, environmentally friendly pet product also includes an RGB LED flashing light for added pet safety and a high fidelity waterproof speaker that plays a sound to alert the user (via the mobile app) when their pet is nearby. With gel state polymer lithium ion battery, the GPS tracker incorporates the latest battery technology and is built to last with PC ABS, laser direct structuring, UV coating and in-mold decoration.  

 

Paby comes with a free app (iOS and Android) that allows users to view custom reports and alerts, designate virtual fences, and receive daily exercise recommendations based on the pet’s breed, weight and age. The intuitive app allows users to register their pet’s profile and instantly track its location via Google Maps. Users can share the app’s pet data with other Paby owners, and manage unlimited pets on their smartphones.  Paby is committed to a pet’s health and safety, and as a result, they developed smart data and algorithms to provide information on recommended exercise time for pets based on their breed, weight and age.

 

Paby requires a cellular network connection to properly track the owner’s pet.  To provide flexibility, users have two options when it comes to the cellular coverage being used for this.  Option 1: Paby comes with a free SIM card and offers network subscription plans starting at $4.99 per month at http://www.paby.com/plan/ (those purchasing an annual network service plan through Paby will receive 30 days of free service).  Option 2: customers with AT+T and T-Mobile have the option to use their existing wireless network.  

I had the opportunity to try this out and I was amazed at how easy it is to use! I like that they offer 30 days free service. I am pretty impressed with this product and think it is a must for pet owners! ~SoCal City Kids.

About Paby

Paby is a global Pet Tech company developing a full ecosystem of pet care products ranging from smart tracking devices and applications and services to pet lifestyle products and accessories.  The company’s mission is to continually strive to merge cutting-edge technology with innovative product design that will help transform and better the life of your pet.  Paby’s passionate team is focused on the global market, and are committed to sustainable pet care by the use of global talent and resources. Our core team is a combination of the world’s leading professionals, from electronic and telecom engineering to health technology and pet biology.  For more information, visit www.paby.com.

I scream, you scream… Casa vega treats kids to complementary churro ice cream sandwiches on August 2nd

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Casa Vega, Los Angeles’s landmark 61-year old Mexican restaurant, invites young Angelenos to cool off with a cold treat compliments of second-generation owner Christy Vega. Timed with National Ice Cream Sandwich Day on August 2, 2017, children visiting the family dining destination will be surprised by a complimentary churro ice cream sandwich, with order minimum of a Casa Vega kid’s meal. A favorite dessert of Christy’s four young sons, the chocolate-dipped churros sandwiching vanilla ice cream adds a sweet ending to any family lunch or dinner.

WHERE:

Casa Vega

13301 Ventura Blvd.

Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

818.788.4868

www.casavega.com

 

WHEN:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

About Casa Vega:

Credit: Casa Vega is a family-owned Mexican restaurant that has been a Los Angeles landmark for 61 years and an iconic stomping ground for Old Hollywood’s biggest stars, from Marlon Brando, Carey Grant, and Jane Fonda. Opened in 1956 by Rafael “Ray” Vega, Casa Vega serves authentic Southern California Mexican food and drinks in a warm, festive atmosphere. Today Ray’s daughter, Christina “Christy” Vega (as seen on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games,” NBC’s “TODAY” Show, CBS’s “This Morning,” ABC’s “The View,” and more) is at the helm of the time-honored restaurant. From delectable dishes such as traditional chicken mole, burritos, enchiladas, and tostadas, to tasty house-made margaritas and mojitos, Casa Vega features an extensive and time-tested menu. For more information, please visit www.casavega.com or find Casa Vega on Facebook, and Instagram.

Win Tickets To See Orange County’s Only Professional Soccer Team in Action! Orange County Soccer Club Heats Up the Field at The Orange County Great Park Giveaway Opportunity!

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Orange County SC, Orange County’s only professional soccer team, is currently in the middle of a record-breaking season playing at the Orange County Great Park. One of the founding members of the United Soccer League, the team is currently heading into a run of seven upcoming home games in the next two weeks. Enter now to win a family four pack of tickets and make sure you come early to enjoy games, food trucks and beverages.  The pre-game, family-friendly atmosphere includes access to the players to sign autographs and every week the team walks onto the pitch with a different local youth soccer team. Regular tickets start at just $15, for more the schedule and ticket information please visit orangecountysoccer.com.

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Self Disclosure: No compensation was received. Thank you to Orange County SC, for this giveaway opportunity for our readers! Deadline to enter is July 31st. 2017 at noon PST. To enter, leave a comment below! 

 

Infinity Jars are Great for the Kitchen or to use in the Bathroom!

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Looking for sturdy and stylish jars? I recommend Infinity Jars! I really like how sturdy they are and that they look modern and stylish! Infinity Jars sells a very popular line of high-performance storage containers for cooking ingredients, dried herbs, bitters, tea, coffee, cosmetics, nuts, oils, etc. They are airtight and light optimized, meaning they block out visible light that degrades organic goods.

I like that I could find ways to use them in the Kitchen and in the Bathroom! I love using the 250 ml Glass Screw Top Jar in the kitchen for olive oil. I like that the oil stays fresh and it is super easy to use! The 50 ml Glass Fine Mist Spray Bottle is great to have on the counter in the bathroom to use to mist your face with water in the summer! But, my favorite is the 250 ml Glass Screw Top Jar! I love to use this in the bathroom and keep cotton balls in it!

Look for them all at  www.infinityjars.com

 

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post.