To claim that the holidays make us a little inured to sights that are both wondrous and unexpected is to state, flatly, that the sparkle of the season holds no sway over your heart.
Of course it does, at least a little, and no claim to the opposite will convince us. Spying over-sized menorahs all aglow or trees as tall as tall buildings or lit-up ice rinks can fill any passerby with sudden joy in a way that other visions throughout the year cannot.
But we rather imagine that a giant polar bear, a hundred feet big, cast on the side of a very large wall in Santa Monica, rather has even more of an impact, even during the sparkliest, most wonder-packed time of the year.
That's what people are coming across in the nights ahead of New Year's in the city by the ocean, if those people happen to pass the corner of 2nd Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.
The polar bears upon the wall are not actually there in person -- er, bear -- of course; they've been expertly and marvelously filmed by the innovators behind explore.org. And if you're wondering if these Santa Monica polar bears are connected to those furry beauties currently ruling The Annenberg Space for Photography's Skylight Studios in Century City, well, you'd be totally correctomundo.
That show, which turns live cameras stationed in the Arctic upon the region's famous fauna, is on through the middle of January (with a new live-cam nature experience arriving just after, with a March 20 end date). Polar bears cameo in the "Pearls of the Planet" experience, as do puffins and walruses and other of-the-north denizens.
As for the mega Santa Monica video installation? It's on nightly, at 2nd and Santa Monica, through Sunday, Jan. 3. Nightly=6 o'clock to 11, we should say, since nights in the Arctic have a slightly lengthier run.
The explore/org/Annenberg Foundation presentation, which is free, surely adds a bit of bigness to an already big holiday season, one filled with alfresco sights and wonders around town. Though surely these are the only gigantic polar bears making the SoCal scene this year?