The extraordinary TwainFest at Heritage Park!

TwainFest returned to San Diego today. And it was just as wonderful as ever!

This year the festival of mostly Victorian-era literature was held in Heritage Park, a short distance from Old Town. Families turned out to enjoy games, readings, reenactments of scenes from beloved books, puppet shows, costumed literary characters…you get the picture!

TwainFest is presented by Write Out Loud, whose mission is to inspire, challenge and entertain by reading literature aloud to audiences of all ages.

Write Out Loud offers educational programs, including performances for high school students, and they present the annual San Diego ​Student ​Shakespeare Festival in Balboa Park! Visit this website to learn more!

As I walked around Heritage Park enjoying the festival, I watched Tom Sawyer induce visitors to whitewash a fence, laughed at the craziness of a delightfully manic Mad Hatter Tea Party, lifted my eyes to giant roving Twain, Poe and Shakespeare puppets, and saw characters from Treasure Island and even some steampunk cosplay! There was action in every direction!

I finally joined other visitors to listen to The Extraordinary Mark Twain. Two actors–an older gentleman and youthful girl–painted a picture of the great American humorist and author. They employed the biography written by Twain’s daughter Susy. Her observations were published in 1988 and titled Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain.

We learned that Mark Twain had a Roman nose and kind blue eyes. And that he used strong words and had a temper. And that he was frequently absent-minded.

He was funny and philosophical and always very earnest.

And, of course, he loved a good joke.

My photos provide a small taste of today’s fun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

People tricked by Tom Sawyer at TwainFest!

Tom Sawyer tricked several people at TwainFest today.

I was walking nonchalantly though Heritage Park near Old Town San Diego when Tom Sawyer passed by in a big hurry…

Did Tom Sawyer steal the school bell? Why the hurry? It appears Mark Twain’s beloved character is playing hooky, running through Heritage Park during TwainFest.
Uh, oh! Aunt Polly has spotted Tom and is giving chase!
Tom tries to hide behind a fence, but Aunt Polly is familiar with his antics and quickly finds him.
Aunt Polly tells that mischievous boy Tom he has a chore to do. He must whitewash the fence!
He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. –Mark Twain from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Here comes Becky Thatcher, looking for Tom.
Becky observes poor suffering Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence.
Tom explains to Becky that it isn’t every day a person gets to whitewash a fence. In fact, it’s quite a privilege.
Becky Thatcher gives Tom a whole apple for this rare opportunity to whitewash the fence!
Several visitors to TwainFest are lured into Tom Sawyer’s scheme. They happen to find small objects on the grass nearby, and offer them to Tom so that they, too, might whitewash that fence!
Tom’s basket fills with contributions.
The TwainFest visitors and Becky get to work while Tom takes another bite from his apple.
Whitewashing the fence is such fun!
Tom Sawyer lies back with his apple and enjoys the fruits of his trickery.
Here comes Aunt Polly! Uh, oh! She’s searching for Tom!
Tom Sawyer’s in big trouble…again!
Tom does his best to explain this rather unusual situation, but Aunt Polly has heard it all. She isn’t easily fooled.
Tom shouts and points his finger into the distance, causing Aunt Polly to turn in surprise. That clever Tom Sawyer takes full advantage of his distraction! Run!
Tom Sawyer makes his escape!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Scenes from La Jolla Playhouse’s POP-UP WOW!

This evening I watched a stirring performance. I and many others enjoyed the La Jolla Playhouse’s POP-UP WOW event at Liberty Station.

What did I see?

I saw soulful singing and dancing that stems from a shared history of suffering and endurance.

I saw joy that rises from the heart–a triumph of the spirit.

I saw how bubbles are like aspects of life–and like life itself. Mysterious, beautiful, soaring . . . short-lived. A beginning and an ending. Like memories.

I, too, wondered why we have an impulse to chase bubbles.

I saw a fable about a giant who wanted power over everything.

Until he saw the beauty of bubbles and learned wisdom.

I saw individuals repeatedly asking “Can I?”

They make one clumsy attempt after another, slowly gaining ability, gaining confidence, until they venture out into this sometimes scary world.

Meeting others, overcoming their fear, the question becomes “Can WE?”

What I observed was life.

You can watch it tomorrow if you’d like, too. Click here to learn about the Sunday performances. It’s free!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Cool marquee of the Star in Oceanside!

The next cool thing I came upon during my Oceanside walk yesterday was the historic Star theater building with its incredible marquee!

As I was taking photos, I noticed someone testing different paint colors on the building’s exterior. I subsequently learned from two friendly people of the Star Theatre Company, which now occupies the old movie house, that a new paint job is coming both inside and outside, to make this historic Oceanside landmark even more amazing!

I also learned the Star Theatre, during the COVID-19 pandemic, is hosting an after school Acting Camp for youth with safety precautions, is offering professional audition taping and workshops, and will be offering live streamed performances. To read more check out their website here.

More about the building’s unique history can be read here, including: “The Star Theatre opened the 18th of August 1956 with the movie “Moby Dick” starring Gregory Peck…Designed by architect William Glenn Balch, the Star was from an era when neon was king and every city was building a drive-in or walk-in theater. The Star Theatre is the largest of Balch’s 17 theaters that were located in the state of California and the last one that is still open. The marquee boasted being the largest in San Diego County and has been noted for its spectacular animation. It is one of the few remaining examples from its era…”

In this difficult period of an extended coronavirus lockdown, the Star Theatre would really appreciate donations, to help keep their important mission moving forward. Please help them here.

Finally, if you’re wondering about the big, colorful mural on the side of the building in the following photograph, check out one of my old blog posts here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Actors read literary works online for TwainFest!

The spirit of Twain lives in this wonderful annual festival.

Do you love reading literature from the 19th century?

I do!

I love Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville . . . there are too many great Victorian authors from this period to mention!

If you love to read these authors, too, there’s an online event in progress that you’ll probably like!

During this special event you can listen to selections from 19th century literature read aloud by San Diego actors!

It’s part of Write Out Loud’s virtual TwainFest, and you can subscribe by clicking here to get daily links to new YouTube readings in your email!

What was the event like before the coronavirus pandemic? To see photos from TwainFest last year in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, click here!

Mark Twain uses his cane to point out his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Many 19th century authors and fictional characters were seen walking about during TwainFest.
Mark Twain uses his cane to point out his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Star Trek humor and history in South Park!

Funny comic panels featuring Star Trek characters, standing near Captain Kirk's Coffee in South Park.
Funny comic panels featuring Star Trek characters, standing near Captain Kirk’s Coffee in South Park.

It was hot today as I walked through South Park, so I stopped at Captain Kirk’s Coffee to get an ice cold green tea. And look what I saw and learned!

All sorts of humorous Star Trek imagery can be found on and around this popular sidewalk coffee shack!

The super nice people who served up my green tea explained they’ve been there for many years now. Then they told me something amazing that I didn’t know. Whoopi Goldberg, before she became a superstar, worked at The Big Kitchen just a block south of Captain Kirk’s Coffee! They said she signed her name on a wall of The Big Kitchen, and while the interior has been repainted many times over the years, her signature remains untouched.

Among her many big Hollywood roles, you might recall that Whoopi Goldberg played Guinan in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in the films Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: Nemesis.

Captain Kirk's Coffee by the sidewalk in South Park.
Captain Kirk’s Coffee by the Fern Street sidewalk in South Park.

Various spaceships have landed or crashed atop the roof of Captain Kirk's Coffee.
Various spaceships have landed or crashed atop the roof of Captain Kirk’s Coffee.

At the front counter. Bean me up Scotty!
At the front counter. Bean me up Scotty!

Big Kitchen Café in South Park, where Whoopi Goldberg worked before becoming a Hollywood superstar.
Big Kitchen Café in South Park, where Whoopi Goldberg worked before becoming a Hollywood superstar.

Star Trek meets Star Wars in these silly panels.
Star Trek meets Star Wars in these silly panels near Captain Kirk’s Coffee.

Whoopi Goldberg as Star Trek character Guinan says: I miss Judy's delicious coffee cake at The Big Kitchen.
Whoopi Goldberg as Star Trek character Guinan says: I miss Judy’s delicious coffee cake at The Big Kitchen.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Scenes from Without Walls Festival 2019!

This afternoon I headed to Liberty Station in Point Loma to experience some of the La Jolla Playhouse’s annual WOW event!

The Without Walls Festival 2019 features all sorts of cool outdoor performances, many of which are free for the public to enjoy. It continues tomorrow!

The first production I watched, titled Tall Tales of the High Seas, was a very unique visual drama that seemed part circus act, part aerial dance. The athletic performers raised the flexible masts of a rotating Viking longship, then climbed skyward to dip, fly and swerve through the sky! One could sense a bit of a story unfolding as the ship seemed to become lost at sea and the actors hung limp from the crow’s nests without hope; then land is sighted and excitement takes hold!

After that, I walked around the grassy North Promenade of Liberty Station, tried to peer into the intimate little Theatre on the Move, and stood for a few minutes enjoying the Montalban Quintet at the Festival Stage.

Then, as I made my way toward the South Promenade, I paused to watch kids sail in colorful Boats about Legacy Plaza!

Finally, a production titled Peregrinus was ready to begin. The actors marched across the street in a very businesslike way, as you can see in my photos.

At first each individual actor showed a unique personality, but as they put on their corporate attire, ordinary people were transformed into conforming, business suited employees. They could select their own color of tie, but no more.

The actors bowed before their enormous masks, inserted their heads, rose up in a row, and suddenly each head was identically serious, grim, tired and sad. They filed about in a circular hurry, did the corporate dance, bowed to their boss, became jackasses when commanded to do so, engaged in power plays and subterfuge–you know, all that ridiculous, demeaning stuff that pains the heart when people shed their dignity in their desire for power, position or money.

The act was hilarious!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Galactus and three big celebrities spotted!

A big lineup of cosplay superheroes in the Gaslamp Quarter during 2019 San Diego Comic-Con!
A big lineup of cosplay superheroes in the Gaslamp Quarter during 2019 San Diego Comic-Con!

Galactus and three big celebrities, all spotted on Friday morning! Prepare to be stunned, stupefied and utterly amazed!

You never know who (or what) you’ll see while walking about San Diego Comic-Con!

Dude Vader cosplay.
Dude Vader cosplay.

Dude Vader is a local cosplayer who has recently begun making his elaborate costumes with 3D printing.
Dude Vader is a local cosplayer who has recently begun making his elaborate costumes with 3D printing.

Silver Surfer is taking a moment to rest. I wonder if that means Galactus is coming...
Silver Surfer is taking a moment to rest. I wonder if that means Galactus is coming…

Lennie James, who plays Morgan Jones in The Walking Dead, talks with VIPs at the DeadQuarters offsite during 2019 Comic-Con.
Lennie James, the actor who plays Morgan Jones in The Walking Dead, talks with VIPs at the DeadQuarters offsite during 2019 Comic-Con.

Hogwarts students cosplay. The first guy denied he's Cedric.
Hogwarts students cosplay. The first guy denied he’s Cedric.

Little Shop of Horrors cosplay. The most original cosplay I've seen so far during 2019 San Diego Comic-Con!
Little Shop of Horrors cosplay. The most original cosplay I’ve seen so far during 2019 San Diego Comic-Con!

Wonder Woman cosplay. She was in a hurry to vanquish a villain down the street.
Wonder Woman cosplay. She was in a hurry to vanquish a villain down the street.

Super powered folk seem to be everywhere during Comic-Con!
Super powered folk seem to be everywhere during Comic-Con!

Yikes! Joker spotted me.
Yikes! Joker spotted me.

Captain Marvel is arriving in the nick of time.
Captain Marvel is arriving in the nick of time.

Freddy Krueger cosplay.
Freddy Krueger cosplay.

Freddy Krueger checks his phone.
Freddy Krueger checks his phone.

I was told with absolute sincerity that this puppet is a big YouTube celebrity.
I was told with absolute sincerity that this puppet is a big YouTube celebrity! Now do you believe me? You thought I was joking?

The Krusty Krab Funfair is that way.
The Krusty Krab Funfair is that way.

Doctor Strange and Loki cosplay.
Doctor Strange and Loki cosplay.

These guys informed me they're the Brothers Burns.
These guys informed me they’re the Brothers Burns.

Conan O'Brien lounges on a yacht during Comic-Con.
Another big celebrity sighting! Conan O’Brien lounges on a yacht during Comic-Con.

Mexican Deadpool cosplay.
Mexican Deadpool cosplay.

Die, Bart, Die.
Die, Bart, Die.

Luigi cosplay.
Luigi cosplay.

Thor, Scarlet Witch and Captain America cosplay.
Thor, Scarlet Witch and Captain America cosplay.

Venom cosplay.
Venom cosplay.

Take a ride on this Nerd Chariot.
Take a ride on this Nerd Chariot.

Hellboy cosplay.
Hellboy cosplay.

Scarlet Witch and Shazam cosplay.
Scarlet Witch and Shazam cosplay.

Super awesome Black Widow and Galactus cosplay!
It’s the coming of Galactus! Told you so! Awesome Black Widow and Galactus cosplay!

Well, I spotted Galactus and one real celebrity. That's the best I could do.
Unless that’s a celebrity secretly disguised under those big ears, I did manage to spot Galactus and one real honest-to-goodness celebrity this morning at 2019 Comic-Con. That’s the best I could do.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Day of the Dead celebration at the Old Globe.

Day of the Dead altar created by the Old Globe Theatre contains photos of departed loved ones, roses, candles, and an image of Shakespeare.
Day of the Dead altar created by the Old Globe Theatre contains photos of departed loved ones, roses, candles, and an image of Shakespeare.

For several hours today, visitors to Balboa Park could enjoy traditional Dia de los Muertos activities in Copley Plaza, at the entrance to the Old Globe’s theater complex. The event’s main attraction was two performances of a powerful new play called La Muerte Descansa en Paz (Death Rests in Peace). The first performance was in Spanish, the second mostly in English.

The brief but emotionally stirring play, directed and co-created by Daniel Jáquez, was presented for the very first time on Saturday during the SAY San Diego’s City Heights Day of the Dead Celebration. The production is the result of a collaboration between the Old Globe’s coLAB and AXIS programs and the San Diego community of City Heights.

Here are some photos of today’s event!

Day of the Dead--Dia de los Muertos--was celebrated today in Copley Plaza, outside the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center in Balboa Park.
Day of the Dead–Dia de los Muertos–was celebrated today in Copley Plaza, outside the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center in Balboa Park.

A Dia de los Muertos altar remembers and celebrates those who've passed out of life. Their spirits are enticed to return among the living.
A Dia de los Muertos altar remembers and celebrates those who’ve passed into the next world. Their spirits are enticed to return among the living.

A loving tribute to loved ones, dearly missed.
A loving tribute to relatives and loved ones, dearly missed.

Kids have their faces painted like sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos.
Kids have their faces painted like sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos.

The tools of a face painter.
The tools of a face painter.

At one table creative kids could color Dia de los Muertos skulls.
At one table creative kids could color Dia de los Muertos skulls.

Shakespeare among Dia de los Muertos skulls. Perhaps one belonged to Yorick.
Shakespeare among Dia de los Muertos skulls. Perhaps that one in the center belonged to Yorick.

A performance of La Muerte Descansa en Paz (Death Rests in Peace) begins. The dead enter in front of a living audience.
A performance of La Muerte Descansa en Paz (Death Rests in Peace) begins. The dead enter in front of a living audience.

The character Death takes the stage. Death sees both sides of the river. Death sees life's joy, pain, dreams--and the souls of the departed.
The character Death takes the stage. Death sees both sides of the river. Death sees life’s joy, pain, dreams–and the souls of the departed.

The dead dance. On Dia de los Muertos, when the church bells ring, Death permits the dead to return briefly as spirits among the living.
The dead dance. On Dia de los Muertos, when the church bells ring, Death permits the dead to return briefly as spirits among the living.

A dead poet remembers the richness and brevity of life--the joy, the sorrow.
A dead poet vaguely remembers the richness and brevity of life–the sharp joys and sorrows. Her voice was cut short, but her living words linger.

The dead briefly take the stage. We, the living, experience a glimpse, a whisper, a moment of lost love.
The dead briefly take the stage. We, the living, experience a glimpse, a whisper, a moment of lost love.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

La Jolla Playhouse enlivens Horton Plaza Park!

Someone in downtown San Diego peers through a spy hole into a tiny red house in Horton Plaza Park.
Someone in downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park peers through a spy hole into a tiny Model Home.

The La Jolla Playhouse has invaded Horton Plaza Park! Several red houses have been placed inside the downtown San Diego park, and inside these tiny houses professional actors and actresses perform. A public audience can freely watch through spy holes!

Model Home is the name of this improvisational performance art concept, and anyone can check it out through Sunday. It’s a part of the La Jolla Playhouse’s annual Without Walls Festival which this year takes place in venues around downtown.

The genius behind Model Home is Mimi Lien, and I believe the idea is to inspire thought about what makes a home, and about those things in a home that individuals deem to be important.

A home is like an enclosed stage where humans act out much of their lives. As one nearby sign says, houses aren’t just structures, but contain human identity, memory and experience. Peering through the various spy holes in these Model Homes is like secretly peering into the mind of another person. It’s an inner life that the observer can never truly know.

I spoke to a couple of friendly La Jolla Playhouse folks and learned the actors and actresses inside the houses perform all day long, with periodic breaks. They are aware that eyeballs are staring in at them, but as trained acting professionals they aren’t fazed at all.

I also learned that at certain times the tiny house that is dangling from a crane is swung around through the air in a Crane Ballet! Perhaps I’ll “swing” by again this weekend and “crane” my neck at what must certainly be an unusual sight!

If you’re in downtown this weekend, you really should check it out!

Inside one tiny house I see an actor in a small kitchen baking bread!
Inside one tiny house I saw an actor in a small kitchen baking bread!

Model Home, in downtown San Diego's Horton Plaza Park, is part of the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls WOW festival!
Model Home, in downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park, is part of the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls WOW festival! (Click image to enlarge.)

Several plain red houses stand in Horton Plaza Park--and one is dangling high in the sky from a crane!
Several tiny red houses stand in Horton Plaza Park–and one is dangling high in the sky from a crane!

People pause to read a sign that describes some very unique and thought-provoking performance art that can be enjoyed freely by anyone passing by.
People pause to read a sign that describes some very unique and thought-provoking performance art that can be enjoyed freely by anyone passing by.

Peering through one of the spy holes...
Peering through one of the spy holes…

Inside this very bare Model Home someone sleeps in apparent poverty. But every small set and performance is open for the viewer's own interpretation.
Inside this very bare Model Home an actor seemed to be sleeping in poverty. But every small “stage” and improvised performance invites the viewer’s personal interpretation.

Inside another Model Home are the remains of a birthday party. I'm guessing the kids went outside to play...
Inside another Model Home were the abandoned remnants of a birthday party. I didn’t see an actor. (Perhaps the kids ran outside to play…)

And inside this Model Home an actress is studying a feather, holding it up and turning it in the light. She seems to be quietly thinking.
And inside this Model Home an actress was studying a feather, holding it up and turning it about in the soft light. She seemed to be quietly thinking.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!