Archives for June 15, 2021

In-person Scout Days are now back at Aquarium of the Pacific

Photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific
 

For the first time since the pandemic, the Aquarium of the Pacific is now bringing back its in-person Scout Days. Scouts, with their family and friends, are invited to the Aquarium on June 19, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at a special price with limited availability. With many animals to discover and learn about, the Aquarium has self-led activity sheets, available online to download and print, for the Scouts to complete for badge requirements. Scout leaders or parents are expected to assist in the learning experience as some steps need to be completed at home. In addition, Scout leaders and parents are advised to review the Scout council approved activities for each desired badge. Fun patches will be available in the Aquarium’s Pacific Collections gift store for $1 on Scout Day, and Scouts wearing their uniform can receive 20 percent off a total purchase.

In addition, Scouts and their guests can add on a 30-minute theater experience to meet the Aquarium animals and learn about them. This add-on experience requires its own tickets and reservations separate from Aquarium general admission. During this program, the Aquarium’s animal husbandry staff will bring animals into the Ocean Theater and teach attendees about the animals’ adaptations that help these species protect themselves and find food in their natural environments. They will also learn about the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship.

WHEN: Saturday, June 19, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

COST: Discounted admission: $24.95 adult (ages 12+) (regular adult price $36.95) and $19.95 child (ages 3-11) (regular child price $26.95), and free for Aquarium members and children under age 3  

The 30-minute theater experience with Aquarium animals is a $10 add-on per person.

Reservations are required for both and can be made at aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/scouts/.

INFO: (562) 590-3100 or visit aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/scouts/

Credit: The Aquarium of the Pacific.

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It * Stunning In-Depth Look at One Of Hollywood’s Most Trailblazing Actors

Over a 70+ year career, Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award Winners of our time. Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast as any ethnic minority the Hollywood studios needed filled, be it Polynesian, Native American or Egyptian. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent. Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for representation and forged the path for new generations of artists. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It is the ultimate in-depth documentary about one of Hollywood’s most trailblazing actors. This film is the absolute tear-jerking, hysterical, educational experience of the year.” Ashleigh C. adds, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is a trailblazing documentary that will inspire girls across the world who have a dream! Rita Moreno’s life story is a testament to her perseverance and others like her who had a dream and decided to go for it.” See their full reviews and Ashleigh’s interview with director Mariem Perez below.

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It is the ultimate in-depth documentary about one of Hollywood’s most trailblazing actors. This film is the absolute tear-jerking, hysterical, educational experience of the year. By the movie’s end, you just want to go for it too.

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It recounts the life story of critically acclaimed actress Rita Moreno. Rita, who is best known for her roles of Anita in West Side Story and Carmela in The Electric Company, stars in the documentary, along with stars like Whoopie Goldberg, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria and more. The film features clips from a large variety of Rita’s films throughout her career as well as from award shows, and photographs and footage from her personal life, including interviews with her friends and family.

This film shines a light on how incredible Rita is, and how human as she leads the way for Puerto Ricans and all Hispanics in the 1960s, stands up for women’s rights and fights to be able to choose which roles she plays. She deals with being type-cast as an island or Hispanic character, and decides and turns down roles that would shove her into a tiny box. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Rita’s life, not just grazing at the surface. It shows how Rita struggled with hating her Hispanic roots, because it limited her as an actress. She tells how she was sexually abused, was forced into an abortion by her then-boyfriend Marlon Brando, and tried to commit suicide. The film shows exactly why Rita is such a beloved actress and person. Despite all she’s been through, she never gives up and learned to value the woman she is. Rita grows into her own person throughout the movie, telling how everything that put her down at the time just made her stronger.

The moral of the film is to stay strong and keep fighting. Rita is not eighty-nine years old and one of 15 EGOT winners (acronym for the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards), just because she gave up. Being a Puerto Rican actress in New York and trying to find your way in the world wasn’t as easy as Moreno makes it look. She has maintained her humbleness and blossomed into a modern woman who fights for human rights and looks great while doing it.

I give Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters June 18, 2021.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It 
By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17 

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is a trailblazing documentary that will inspire girls across the world who have a dream! Rita Moreno’s life story is a testament to her perseverance and others like her who had a dream and decided to go for it. 

This documentary profiles Rita Moreno (West Side Story, One Day at a Time), following her life from its beginnings as a poor Puerto Rican girl to becoming an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) award-winning actress. We see her struggles and trials throughout her life and how she confronts and handles them. 

Latina Mariem Perez Riera directs this documentary and brings a great deal of passion to it, making the film very personal and authentic. The film employs stop motion animation, film excerpts to show Moreno’s life as a young woman to a legendary entertainment icon and political activist. Not only are the scenes diverse, so are its features. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Morgan Freeman, Lin- Manuel Miranda and Hector Elizondo. My favorite parts of this documentary are actually the sad parts. So many people in the limelight tend to sugar coat the truth about their troubles, which makes them seem perfect. This film is raw to the point that, even though her life has a Hollywood spin to it, it actually tells a story that many young girls can relate to today.

The message of this documentary is in the title – be a girl (or boy) that goes for your dream. Rita Moreno came from less than many, yet lived a life bigger than most. You can do it! You won’t know unless you try. This film does contain a description of sexual violence and some profanity.  

I give Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it only in theatres starting June 18, 2021.  

Father’s Day Gift Suggestions!

Father’s Day is quickly approaching! Here are a few of my favorites for this upcoming holiday!

Coffees from Fire Department Coffee are sure to be a hit with Dad! The Spirit-Infused coffees are a definite must-try! These are non-alcoholic, of course, but they have a subtle flavor of the respective spirit. I had the opportunity to try the Vanilla Bean bourbon spirit-infused coffee and I loved the taste! Some of the other flavors sound pretty good too! How does Salted Caramel Bourbon spirit-infused coffee sound? It sounds pretty good to me! You can find out more here.

This next one would be fun for Dad and younger children! Workman Publishing A Book about Dad with Words and Pictures by Me is the perfect gift for Father’s Day! In this unique and colorful fill-in book, kids follow prompts—sometimes imaginative, sometimes funny, and always heartwarming—to create a personalized memento Dad can cherish. Using their own words and drawings, kids can tell the story of their family, from lessons they’ve learned from Dad to the adventures they hope to have together. Each book has a sheet of full-color, illustrated stickers, and a die-cut cover where kids can draw a picture or glue in a photograph of the parent of honor to customize the book even more! This one is available on Amazon.com so you can order it quickly.

Here are a few more gift suggestions for the Dad who loves coffee! ECO-FRIENDLY STEEPED COFFEE has some great gift suggestions!

The Mug and More

Start with a vessel they’ll love and fill it with packs of Steeped Coffee. Selections include the ceramic Steeped Diner Mug (perfect for homebodies) or the Steeped Miir Insulated Camp Mug (for the adventurous type).

The Steeped Lineup Sampler

A great way for newcomers to discover the roast that suits them best, the Steeped Lineup includes five alluring blends ranging from Light, Medium, Dark, and French Roasts to the Swiss Water Processed Decaf.

The Steeped Coffee Subscription

What could be more convenient? They can choose their favorite roast and have it delivered straight to their doorstep as often as they like with the ultimate flexibility to switch roasts or pause their subscription at any time.

Steeped Home Kits

This indulgent gift has everything they need to make the perfect cup: a “smart” electric kettle or elegant stove-top kettle, a Steeped Coffee Subscription, and two high-end mugs.  

Two Double Wall Tasting Glasses

Experience coffee like never before with this set of two double wall tasting glasses. The flared lip delivers coffee to your entire palate in order to taste the full spectrum of coffee flavors.

These Fellow double wall tasting glasses are cool to look at and cool to the touch, even while you’re drinking your hot cup of Steeped Coffee.

So instead of racking your brain for the perfect gift, visit the Steeped website and Steeped Coffee is available on Amazon with Prime Free Delivery!

Is there a new dad on your list? These next two amazing products would make great gifts!

Baby Sonogram Frame Love at first sight! Capture that feeling of overwhelming love in this unique Baby Sonogram Frame. The perfect gift and keepsake for new dads, it can also be used as a gender reveal or pregnancy announcement. Fits a standard 4″ by 3″ ultrasound photo with 3 unique and beautifully designed cutouts.  This is so cool! This would also make a great gift for baby showers! I think that this is a must-buy for all new parents.

KeaBabies Explorer Diaper Bag Backpack Adventure awaits! The Explorer Diaper Bag Backpack is perfect for any outing with your little one in tow! With a convenient feeding compartment in the front for easy access to bibs, bottles, sippy cups, and more, and a separate diapering compartment in the back that holds diapers, wipes, creams, and clothes… this backpack is thoughtfully designed. It also comes with a large diaper changing mat and two stroller hooks to easily attach the backpack to your stroller. Available in a variety of unisex colors, including Classic Gray, Trendy Black, Burgundy, and Navy Blue.  I really like this one because it’s cool and I can picture most Dads liking this one better than the more traditional diaper bags.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this holiday featured post. Images were also provided.

Smitty, June 17th Pet of the Week!

Smitty’s long, pink tongue is hanging out in anticipation of a cool bowl of water he can call his own and a face he can lick that belongs to a human he can call his own! Smitty’s a Lab/pit bull mix who’s 90 pounds light and just 2 years old. He’s young, big and energetic, and he’s ready to lap up a good life in a loving home! Our shelter’s adoptions are conducted through appointment only, so call 562-570-PETS or email PetAdopt@longbeach.gov to meet Smitty. Ask for ID#A657311.

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

OC Parks Announces 2021 Summer Concert Series and Sunset Cinema Film Series

The County of Orange and OC Parks are pleased to announce the return of the annual OC Parks Summer Concert Series and Sunset Cinema film series. All events will include free parking with food and drink available for purchase. Spend summer evenings in a family-friendly environment with free live music and movie screenings at parks across Orange County. 

OC Parks Summer Concert Series returns with free outdoor concerts on Thursday evenings beginning June 24 from 5 – 8 p.m. Enjoy live music under the summer sky at Craig Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park and Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach.  

The concert series kicks off with Flashback Heart Attack on June 24 at Craig Regional Park in Fullerton, followed by fan-favorite local artists including Uptown Funk, Surf’s Up, The Fenians, Queen Nation, and Tijuana Dogs. Free concerts continue with contemporary swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on August 5 at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley, followed by the ultimate Smiths and Morrissey tribute band Sweet and Tender Hooligans, and blues and soul and rock band Family Style. Donavon Frankenreiter will close out the 2021 OC Parks Summer Concert Series at Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach. 

OC Parks Sunset Cinema film series brings family-friendly movies to the big screen at regional parks on Friday nights starting June 18. Enjoy a screening under the stars at Craig Regional Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Yorba Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, and Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach. 

Guests of all ages are invited to enjoy recent favorites and popular classics throughout the summer. The event sites open at 6 p.m. and the movies begin at approximately 8 p.m. after sundown. 

Friday night films kick off on Friday, June 18 and include the following: The NeverEnding Story (1984), How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Independence Day (1996), Dolittle (2020), The Sandlot (1993), Toy Story 4 (2019), Willow (1988),The Lion King (2019), The Mighty Ducks (1992), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Hook (1991), Dolphin Tale (2011), and The Little Mermaid (1989). 

“The County of Orange and OC Parks are thrilled to be able to present the summer concert and movie series in person once again,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “These concert and movie events provide a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to come enjoy entertainment in a beautiful, outdoor setting.”

OC Parks Summer Concert Series and OC Parks Sunset Cinema film series are entirely outdoors and will be held in accordance with the most current guidance from State and local health agencies. All events are open to the public of all ages and free to attend with free parking. Food trucks and booths will be available for delicious bites and beverages. Gather friends and family and enjoy free concerts and movie screenings this summer with OC Parks.

OC Parks Summer Concert Series

Thursday nights, 5 p.m. (Event starts at 5 p.m., live music begins at 6 p.m.)

Date: June 24

Concert: Flashback Heart Attack @ Craig Regional Park

Date: July 1

Concert: Uptown Funk @ Craig Regional Park

Date: July 8

Concert: Surf’s Up @ Mason Regional Park

Date: July 15

Concert: The Fenians @ Mason Regional Park

Date: July 22

Concert: Queen Nation @ Irvine Regional Park

Date: July 29

Concert: Tijuana Dogs @ Irvine Regional Park

Date: August 5

Concert: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy @ Mile Square Regional Park 

Date: August 12 

Concert: Sweet and Tender Hooligans @ Mile Square Regional Park 

Date: August 19

Concert: Family Style @ Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach

Date: August 26

Concert: Donavon Frankenreiter @ Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach

OC Parks Sunset Cinema Movie Series

Friday nights, 6 p.m. (Event starts at 6 p.m., movie begins at sunset)

Date: June 18

Movie: TheNeverEnding Story (1984) @ Craig Regional Park

Date: June 25

Movie: How to Train Your Dragon (2010) @ Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Date: July 2

Movie: Independence Day (1996) @ Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Date: July 9

Movie: Dolittle (2020) @ Yorba Regional Park 

Date: July 16

Movie: The Sandlot (1993) @ Yorba Regional Park 

Date: July 23

Movie: Toy Story 4 (2019) @ Mason Regional Park 

Date: July 30

Movie: Willow (1988) @ Mason Regional Park

Date: August 6

Movie: The Lion King (2019) @ Irvine Regional Park 

Date: August 13

Movie: The Mighty Ducks (1992) @ Irvine Regional Park 

Date: August 20

Movie: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) @ Laguna Niguel Regional Park

Date: August 27

Movie: Hook (1991) Laguna Niguel Regional Park

Date: September 3

Movie: Dolphin Tale (2011) @ Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach

Date: September 10

Movie: The Little Mermaid (1989) @ Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach

Credit: OC Parks.

Spirit Untamed * A Sequel That Is Sure To Capture New Audiences, Especially Horse Lovers

After moving to a sleepy little town, young Lucky Prescott befriends a wild mustang named Spirit, who shares her rebellious spirit. When a heartless wrangler plans to capture Spirit and his herd, Lucky and her new friends embark on the adventure of a lifetime to rescue the horse that forever changed her life.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “Spirit Untamed is from DreamWorks Animation so you know the characters and scenery are going to be depicted flawlessly.  I love how this film keeps the feel from the original movie but adds another layer of lush detail under the guidance of Director Elaine Bogan who has a personal connection with horses.” Maica M. adds, “Spirit Untamed is a fun-filled animated movie that will have you on the edge of your seat with its rollercoaster of emotions. It is full of suspense, humorous moments and scenes showcasing beautiful relationships. Spirit Untamed is one of the most captivating animated films I’ve seen…” Giana M. wraps it with, “Spirit Untamed is a thrilling and exciting animated film that keeps you entertained throughout the whole movie. It showcases the friendship between humans and horses, has great messages and holds your interest until the end.”

Spirit Untamed

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13 

Adventure awaits in Spirit Untamed, the next chapter in the beloved animated Spirit franchise which is sure to capture a new audience of followers. Spirit Untamed is the story of connection between a girl named Lucky (Isabela Merced) and a wild mustang stallion she names Spirit.  Lucky is a spirited girl and has difficulty fitting into the traditional life that her family plans for her.  Her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) takes her away from social pressure for the summer to the frontier town of Miradero to live with her estranged father Jim Prescott (Jake Gyllenhaal).  On the train to Miradero she encounters Spirit and his wild herd.  The story evolves as both Lucky and Spirit adapt to new circumstances and learn to embrace change as well as rely on the friendship and support of others. 

Lucky is fortunate to find two steadfast friends in Abigail Stone (Mckenna Grace) and Pru Granger (Marsai Martin) who emulate the connection between a girl and her horse that Lucky desires with Spirit.  Both girls teach her about equestrian and human connections.  I love the fun-loving and spunky character, Abigail, who brings so much humor to the movie which is offset by the sarcasm of Pru. Together these three girls are unstoppable in their efforts to rescue Spirit and his herd from a group of wranglers that threaten their freedom.

Spirit Untamed is from DreamWorks Animation so you know the characters and scenery are going to be depicted flawlessly.  I love how this film keeps the feel from the original movie but adds another layer of lush detail under the guidance of Director Elaine Bogan who has a personal connection with horses.  My favorite scene is what I call “the tango” between Lucky and Spirit when she is trying to coax him to accept her.  The pull of their relationship shows and is enhanced perfectly by the light and playful music composed by Amie Doherty.  I really like how the movie incorporates the actors singing with their roles—I love to hear Isabela Merced’s beautiful voice and even Jake Gyllenhall trying to sing badly.

The one segment that bothers me is when Lucky first mounts Spirit.  The riding is unbelievable for a girl who is just learning and is more akin to a trained circus or stunt rider.  Horses are powerful animals, and I hope young viewers will understand that they need guidance around horses and to respect them.  I did love the personality that was given to all the horses in Spirit Untamed—each horse had its own lovable character and expressions.  Everyone will, of course, love the cuteness overload of the brave baby foal.   

What really stands out to me among this film’s many underlying messages is the theme of letting go and how hard that can be. I don’t want to elaborate further, as it would be a spoiler, but there is one great “letting go” scene with Lucky doing the right thing.  Friendship and loyalty are also important themes in Spirit Untamed, as Lucky searches for a place where she belongs.    

I rate Spirit Untamed 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12.  This movie will be in theaters June 4, 2021, so don’t miss this heartwarming story and adventure!

Spirit Untamed

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

Spirit Untamed is a fun-filled animated movie that will have you on the edge of your seat with its rollercoaster of emotions. It is full of suspense, humorous moments and scenes showcasing beautiful relationships. Spirit Untamed is one of the most captivating animated films I’ve seen, with humorous scenes and a great message. Watching this movie on the big screen brings a special kind of magic that draws you in and makes you feel every emotion the characters are feeling. Whether it is a sense of elation, anger, determination or love; I felt it all.

The storyline followsa mischievous girl named Lucky (Isabela Merced) who goes to live with her grandfather after her mother passes away. After pulling too many stunts, her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) decides to take her to spend the summer with her father Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal). Lucky wasn’t expecting to have any fun or make a connection with anyone there and then she meets a beautiful wild mustang that she names Spirit. When she discovers that a horse wrangler named Hendricks (Walton Goggins) is trying to steal Spirit and his family, she teams up with her new friends Abigail (Mckenna Grace) and Pru (Marsai Martin) to save them.

Although Spirit Untamed is an animated film, it is filled with suspense. Lucky loves to take risks, and that means she is willing to do anything and everything she feels is right. For instance, while Lucky, Abigail and Pru ride their horses through Heck Mountain and over the Ridge of Regret, they are incredibly close to falling off the edge. The way these scenes are designed, and how the events unfold, had me genuinely nervous for the girls. The relationships in the film are well developed. Lucky and Jim’s relationship starts out shaky, but gradually grows throughout the movie. By the end of the movie, the father/daughter relationship is made whole. The friendship between Lucky, Pru and Abigail grows throughout the movie as well, which makes the film much more enjoyable. Something else that stands out is the music. The background music adds greatly adds to the suspense and propels the action. The songs highlight the stunning vocals of the talented performers Becky G. who sings “You Belong.” Its tempo builds as the excitement in the film builds. This sets the perfect tone for the movie, giving it a sense of hope. The cast is very diverse and featuring people from different backgrounds, which I appreciate as well. Spirit Untamed has it all!

The message of Spirit Untamed is: if you see something that’s wrong, speak up and do everything you can to put an end to it. Lucky is aware that it is wrong for Hendricks and his gang to take Spirit and his herd away. No matter what anyone tells her, she doesn’t rest until she finds a way to make everything right.

I rate Spirit Untamed 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults Spirit Untamed is available in theatres June 4, 2021. You better hurry; you don’t want to miss this!

Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Spirit Untamed is a thrilling and exciting animated film that keeps you entertained throughout the whole movie. It showcases the friendship between humans and horses, has great messages and holds your interest until the end.

The story follows a girl named Lucky Prescott (Isabella Merced) who returned to live with her dad (Jake Gyllenhaal) for the summer. On the way, she meets a wild horse named Spirit that is adventurous and daring, just like her. Since Spirit is wild, he doesn’t trust Lucky at first. It takes him some time, but eventually he and Lucky become friends. Lucky comes across horse wranglers that are trying to capture Spirit and his herd. She is determined to do whatever it takes to save Spirit and his family.

Something that really impresses me about this film is the lip-syncing of the animated characters. Their mouths match exactly what they are saying. The background music sets the mood such as when scenes are intense, the music intensifies, which helps the audience connect with the mood of the scene. My favorite character is Lucky because she is adventurous, curious and fun. The moment she arrives at her father’s home, she sets off to explore and which leads her to an adventure right away. Her dad, Jim’s character develops the most during the movie. In the beginning, he is afraid something bad is going to happen to Lucky if she gets close to the horses, so he forbids her from being near them. Over time he realizes he can’t keep her from everything and learns to let her follow her heart. 

The message of Spirit Untamed is “when you trust someone they will learn to trust you.” The only warning I have for this film is that in some scenes, ropes are wrapped around the horse’s necks.

Spirit Untamed is an amazing film. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14, plus adults. You can watch Spirit Untamed opens in theaters June 4, 2021. Go check it out!