Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mary Poppins on Broadway with a Preschooler

If you were wondering if the show is appropriate for a young kid, my answer would be ‘yes.’ But then again that’s coming from somebody who just took his 4-year old to a Tom Jones concert just a few weeks ago.

We saw this show recently as it’s now traveling and in Los Angeles until February Thankfully the stop saves us the trip.

We were a little surprised out how different it was from the original Disney movie. It still has the main catchy tunes, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Spoonful of Sugar, etc. but peppered with some pretty adult themes based around the parents. Something that is probably closer to the book and not the sugarcoated movie - I’m now curious to read it.

My daughter absolutely loved the dancing, singing, and, of course Mary Poppins herself. So much that she was begging for the kid-sized Mary Poppins bag being sold at the souvenir stand, something that reminded us that this was of course still a Disney show. When we got to the front of the line 10 minutes later she changed her mind and wanted the $30 kid-sized Mary Poppins umbrella. Later while outside she was seriously disappointed that when opened it didn’t make her fly. For $30 I’d almost expect it to.

Overall the show was quintessential Broadway. Singing, dancing, amazing sets, dazzling effects, and top-notch performers. A pretty amazing and ideal theatrical show; so much that I was left wondering why it took anybody this long to do bring this to stage.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fresh Summer Vacations for Kids

Thought I’d make a quick review for a worthy cause that affects kids 6-12 in the northeast –
A non-profit organization called “The Fresh Air Fund” gives thousands of inner-city kid’s trips to the country to visit a volunteer host family or a trip to one of their camps.

Two things you can do to help:
1. Donate. If you donate before June 30th, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar.
2. Host a Child. If you’re in the northeast - open your home for one or two week to enjoy a summer vacation.

More information can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top iPhone Applications for Preschoolers

It might not be commonly known yet but the iPhone can be a valuable distraction for a preschooler. That is if you’re brave enough to even let your preschooler touch your precious electronic gadget.

My iPhone has come in handy at restaurants, waiting for the wife while she’s shopping, doctor’s office, parties with no kids, airplanes, car rides, movie theaters, work, etc.

As of today, my daughter has tried about 30+ iPhone apps geared for children 2-5 and these are ones that stand out from the others. And the best part is, some actually teach while keeping her entertained.

ABC Animals - $3. A simple ABC flashcard application that not only says the letter and associate picture, but your preschooler can trace the letter too. Well worth the $3 when compared to physical flashcards.

Disney Fairies Fly (Tinker Bell) - $5. This has to be one of the best looking games on the iPhone. Beautiful art, animation, and music. My daughter has some difficulty trying to get the game started as the start buttons don’t flash, or give voice prompts so I usually have to “start” the game. Game play is fairly simple, just tilt up and down. I recommend this for a fairly proficient 3-4 year old with some experience with games.

Preschool Arcade - $1. A very fun preschool application with 3 games in 1. ABC Invasion being the very best of the bunch, and the claw-crane coming in 2nd. The pinball could use some work as we’re still not sure what exactly you’re suppose to do. Hopefully they’ll correct on an update.

iChalky - $2. This is a weird one as there’s not much for an adult to be amused with, but for a preschooler it’s like playing with a trapped bug in a jar.

Wheels on the Bus - $3. A very clever application of the famous song that features interative features such as wiping the window and open/closing the door.
The best part is hearing the song in other languages.

iNeko - FREE. It’s like having a real cat without all the work. It seems my daughter’s favorite thing to do is shaking the phone to change the BG color. And out course waking the cat up, which is something real cats love.

Jirbo Memory Match - FREE. Another great free game! My daughter can literally play this for a full 15 minutes without moving. I want to send these game creators a bucket of chicken as thanks for their birthday.

Koi Pond - $1. If there’s just one game you have to get, it’s this one. It’s just like having your own personal fish tank except without the cleanup and smell. My daughters’ favorite thing to do are shaking the iPhone to feed them, making ripples in the water, and keeping her finger still until the fish nibble at it. She still swears to this day it tickles when they do that!

MewMew Tower - $2. This game is not only a preschool favorite, it’s one of mine too as I’ve always wanted to stack cats (personal record 41.) My daughter loves to stack them and then try to balance them by tilting the iPhone. She breaks out laughing when they all squeal and fall down. She has a dark side, just like me.

Preschool Adventure - $1. This game is such a great bargain, 5 really good games in one very well done application. There’s narration, funny noises and animation, and did I mention it’s only $1?

Spongebob Tickler - $2. A fun application that’s worth a few minutes of distraction with Spongebob’s REAL voice. All you pretty much do is poke at him and he really enjoys it. And he makes bubbles.

Suzy Dress Up - $1. My daughter loves this one, as it’s just dressing up a doll – and – the developer usually releases holiday outfit updates. My only complaint is the art style as I wish it didn’t have to look like a Bratz hoochie. Until somebody makes a princess one, this will do.

Make a Martian - $1. Same makers of Suzy dress up, except you create a freaky looking monster alien. Shaking it usually makes very entertaining results.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Razor Review: Quattro Titanium Trimmer & a Lionel Richie Pillow Fight

When the good folks over at Schick wanted to send me something called The Quattro Titanium Trimmer I thought they were referring something like a nuclear powered chainsaw with lasers.
The names for razors these days are almost comical; but nevertheless effective in getting guys like me interested.

This thing is huge, nearly the size of a small child that hasn’t eaten in days. It has your standard disposable 4 razors (because 1 is never enough) with coated Titanium (to protect you from rampant mutant radiation and skin irritation.) And it has a little trimmer that does all kinds of neat tricks like shaves the sideburns, pesky ear hair (no I don’t have any….yet) and maybe a nearby cat that won’t leave you alone.
While using this fancy thing the past few days I found that it makes for a good microphone when the wife or daughter come walking by. I sing a pretty mean Andy Gibb.

As for performance - no complaints here. The thing works pretty well. It a razor -- I’m not sure what more it can do than give a good shave. It didn’t make me bleed, or scare airplanes.
I could say that if you use it, it’ll make you better looking. But it doesn’t. Give it a few more years though and I’m sure it will, including the power of flight.

Do you want one for FREE?

Go over to to make a video and they’ll send you one FOR FREE! The video is one of those personalized picture upload ones where you can see yourself pillow fight with either uncomfortably young college girls, weird looking circus clowns, or ...guys with their shirts off??
Because I’m old and don’t want to fight any of these, I uploaded a picture of Lionel Richie in my place.

Here’s a screenshot:

(imagine Commodores music playing)

And here's the real thing:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book Review: Alena and the Favorite Thing

Alena and the Favorite Thing (by Eric B. Anderson) is one of those rarities available in the children’s book world today - a charming story about a dad and his daughter.

Little Alena has become bored and downright depressed, so she and her dad go romping through their house looking for something her dad has lost and along the way find items from her past – stuffed animals, ballerina statue, old costumes, roller-skates, etc. He reminisces with her about them until he’s finds what he’s looking for (Hint: It’s not a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, that would be in my children’s book.)

The story is truly unique, is unlike anything I’ve read before, and it’s spotted with bits of humor that I found really entertaining. But what I found even more fascinating was the stunning illustrations of Polish artist Jakub Kuzma. His sophisticated eastern European illustrations are something not usually seen with small publishers; which more often than not resort to having the neighbors kid in High School draw the pictures.

Monday, May 19, 2008

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW! Toy Story Mania at Disney's California Adventure

I had the opportunity over the weekend to preview the new Toy Story Mania ride during their “playtesting” phase before it opens next month. The ride is still being “tweaked” and still has a few kinks in it, but it didn’t keep me from having a whole lot of fun.

The ride is essentially a giant blown out video game, disguised as a traditional ride. Which was fine by me, as I like those video games. But it’s easy and compelling enough for those adults that don’t even know how to turn on a TV.
If you can pull a string, wear sunglasses, and chew gum at the same time, you’re in the club.

After I put on the 3D glasses and boarded some extremely shiny new tandem vehicles fitted with pull-string cannons, I was literally whipped around corners stopping at several oversized shooting screens.
I stopped for about 60 seconds at each, or in some cases sometimes longer as they were working out the bugs, and pulled that string like John Rambo shooting at Soviets in Afghanistan -- rapid-fire maniac yelling out things like “I’m your worst nightmare....fake plastic virtual plates…!!”

The shooting effect of oversized cartoon-like darts, green blubber, and plastic rings at things like plates, targets, balloons, etc. was very cool.
As I hit certain targets things shot out in “3D”, some broke, and some revealed even more targets; and when I hit balloons, blowers puffed air into my face giving some pretty cool popping effects and my hair some badly needed styling.

When all was said and done, my score was 134,000. At first, I thought that was pretty good, maybe enough to one-up Stallone. But then the “high-score” leader board was revealed showing scores of 400,000+.
Obviously, it was there to tell me I shoot like Rambo’s grandma, on crack.

Overall, completely worth a trip if you’re visiting Disneyland, and have an extra day, and have an extra $70, $80, $1200 or whatever it costs to get in there now.
It really is great to see a new ride added to the very sparse, ghost town of a park, Disney’s California Adventure. Hopefully they keep adding some more rides like this to spruce up the place.

I recommend a Rambo III ride.