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5 Great Things to Do With the Whole Family in L.A. This Week

Dare To Be Square
Dare To Be Square
Ben Guzman

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you might be tempted to spend more time with the family -- but that doesn't mean you have to sit in front of the television. This week, bring the kids square dancing, take them to see 100 mules on parade or treat them to a cartoon-fueled performance by voice actor James Arnold Taylor. All of these family-friendly events are $25 and under.

5. Learn to Square Dance

Square dancing at the American Legion Hall? Like bingo, trucker hats and mustaches, square dancing once seemed hopelessly uncool -- but that just means it's bound to be the next big thing. Enter Dare to Be Square, an annual celebration of square dancing begun in 2003 in North Carolina and spun off to the West Coast in 2007. After a three-year hiatus, Dare to Be Square West is back -- and coming to Los Angeles for the first time. The organizers gleefully embrace the goofiness of square dancing, offering a place to socialize, tap your toes to live music and learn such traditional folk-dance variations as the Ninepin, the Winter Solstice and the Twelve Reel. Seasoned callers will guide you through the moves while musicians Tom Sauber & Co. and Chicken Liquor keep the tempo lively. This event is open to all ages, but there will be a bar for dancers older than 21. Register now for the $150 classes held during the day -- or just show up to swing your pardner at the public dances at night. American Legion Hall, 227 N. Avenue 55, Highland Park; Fri., Nov. 8-Sat., Nov. 9, 8-11 p.m.; $10 per night. daretobesquarewest.org. --Sarah Diamond

4. Meet the Voice Behind Fred Flintstone and Johnny Test

From the documentary I Know That Voice to Lake Bell's drama In a World ... , our awareness of voice actors hasn't been this high since Mel Blanc died. One champion of that most ancient of human arts -- the ability to throw one's voice so that people actually care about catching it -- is James Arnold Taylor, and during his 80-minute, one-man show, Talking to Myself, you'll hear his lovable larynx morph into more than 150 characters, with interactive multimedia accompanying his golden throat. You'll hear Fred Flintstone, Green Arrow, Johnny Test and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as actors like Johnny Depp and Clive Owen -- he's even the voice of the Strawberry Mini-Wheat. Yet, as with his constitutionally annoying voice work for Fox's Animation Domination block, he can dream up a voice that really gets on your nerves, too. Funny voices don't always have to be lovable, you know. Proceeds benefit the Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab. SAG Foundation Actors Center, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sun., Nov. 10, 3 p.m.; $25/$35, $15 kids. (323) 549-6708, sagfoundation.org. --David Cotner

Photo from "My Dog Is My Home"
Photo from "My Dog Is My Home"
Garry Russo

3. Get Inspired By These Human-Animal Families

It's almost impossible for those of us who have never been homeless to imagine life on the street. But anyone who's ever had a beloved pet can identify with the emotional bond between a man and his dog -- making that relationship the perfect entree to raised consciousness of the suffering endured by our fellow humans. For its first exhibition in its new East Hollywood space, the National Museum of Animals & Society examines these ideas with "My Dog Is My Home: The Experience of Human-Animal Homelessness." The exhibition showcases stories of homeless "human-animal families," with video, paintings and photography narrating the importance of keeping this bond alive, even under desperate circumstances. Appearing at the opening will be Dr. Leslie Irvine, associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her 2013 book, My Dog Always Eats First, examines these very topics through interviews with homeless people living with animals, and examines how these relationships help humans living on the street to form positive self-identities. National Museum of Animals & Society, 4302 Melrose Ave., E. Hlywd.; Sun., Nov. 10, 7 p.m.; $25, $50 VIP (6 p.m. entry). (530) 520-5397, museumofanimals.org. --Rena Kosnett

2. Watch Mules on Parade

Was it Chairman Mao who once demanded, "Let 100 mules bloom"? No? Then perhaps it's something Lauren Bon might say. The local artist and leader of the Metabolic Studio is trying to get people to think about where their water comes from, including a plan to construct a 70-foot waterwheel in Chinatown in order to "pierce the concrete jacket" of the L.A. River. In her latest project, 100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct, Bon has been walking a team of 100 mules for the past month along the entire 240-mile length of the aqueduct. They arrive this afternoon at the Equidome at the L.A. Equestrian Center in one of the more curiously poignant commemorations of the waterway's 100th anniversary. By starting her journey in the ravaged yet beautifully austere Owens Valley -- where folks still don't take too kindly to the way civil engineer William Mulholland transformed semi-arid L.A. into a seemingly lush paradise by turning the previously verdant highland valley into a virtual desert -- Bon asks you to consider the intersection of history and locale (and mule) in a work she describes as "a commemorative artist action." You can also call it adorable: If one mule is cute, can you imagine what a confab of 100 will be like? L.A. Equestrian Center, 480 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank; Mon., Nov. 11, 1:11 p.m.; free. Earlier Mon., at 9 a.m., the mules saunter down Western Avenue in Glendale. (323) 226-1158. --Falling James

1. Party with "Yarn Bombers"

You may have noticed that the Craft and Folk Art Museum was sporting some stylish knitwear these past few months, its façade working it in an oversized granny square Snuggie, courtesy of the guerrilla knitters of Yarn Bombing Los Angeles. Operating at the intersection of art, craft, civic policy and community practice, bombers regularly festoon walls, trees, fences and the like with their handmade "graffiti," enlivening unexpected public places with warm color, humor and subtle, evocative commentary. This week, they bring their craft to the Downtown Women's Center's resale boutique in Skid Row, a place centered around social activism and sustainable culture. During the November edition of the monthly Downtown Art Walk, there's a full day of events, receptions, discussions and knit-art installations on the building and surrounding streets. Installations begin at noon, and there's an open house from 6-11 p.m. The results will be on view until Dec. 13, but its effects will live on far longer. That's because part of this story is how the yarn bombers teamed up with the women's center resale boutique and workshops, sharing vocational and creative skills with the ladies who operate and earn from it, bringing the life of the granny squares full circle. Downtown Women's Center/MADE by DWC Resale Boutique, 325 Los Angeles St., dwntwn.; Thurs., Nov. 14, noon-11 p.m.; free. (213) 213-2807, yarnbombinglosangeles.com. --Shana Nys Dambrot


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