FAMILY : 'Alphabet' Earns a Four-Paws-Up Rating


The ABCs go to the dogs in "Alphabet Soup," a hilarious video alphabet primer for children and adults with a funny bone, created by renowned photographer-artist William Wegman, starring his equally famed Weimaraner Fay Ray and three of her offspring, Batty, Chundo and Crooky.

Wegman, who provides droll deadpan narration, takes overhead shots of his accommodating canines positioned in letter shapes and shoots them in costumes and wigs to illustrate words beginning with each letter. Human hands, belonging to unseen human helpers behind the dogs, emerge from the costume sleeves to accent the action. The Weimaraners' natural expressions of mournful bemusement heighten the comic effect.

A few of the many delectable moments: Fay in a "glamorous gown" putting on "gold golfing gloves"; Batty's look of sublime pleasure as she plays the violin, her "ironic interest" in "ironing" and her dream that she's a deer in an ancient tapestry--a remarkable shot. And, especially, Batty and Crooky as the "Soup Sisters," who appear throughout the video in wigs, aprons and dresses, mixing up a rather unusual alphabet soup.

Wegman has been using his pet Weimaraners as models since the 1970s, and has recently reached a whole new generation with his droll fairy-tale and educational books for children featuring his dressed-up dogs. "Alphabet Soup" is the first in his children's video series called "Fay Presents." The second in the series, "Fay's 12 Days of Christmas," has also been released.

* KidVision, 30 minutes, $12.95.


Self-Portraits: Next time you're strolling through Santa Monica Place, check out a multimedia speculation by at-risk teen-agers there about the ways marketing is used to shape our lives in "Let Them Eat Cake: An Exhibition of Photomontage Self-Portraits by Students From Santa Monica High School in Collaboration With Artist Richard Posner."

The exhibition, made possible through the Santa Monica Museum of Art's "Art Partners" classroom outreach program, features self-portraits by 17 students and a companion class portrait by renowned artist Posner.

The works, located at the west end of the downtown Santa Monica center's third level, are on display now through Nov. 26.

Information: (310) 399-0433, (310) 394-5451.

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