Fun stage dioramas at Paper Theatre Festival!

An example of a elaborate paper toy theater, a source of family entertainment in the 19th century.
An example of an elaborate paper toy theater, a source of family entertainment in the 19th century.

Today, just for fun, I headed up to the Paper Theatre Festival, which is held every year at UC San Diego.

Upon entering the Seuss Room at the Geisel Library, I couldn’t help smiling. Scattered about the room was a large collection of Victorian stage dioramas, character cut-outs, books and ephemera from the 19th century when paper toy theatre was a popular family entertainment.

All of the colorful artwork exhibited at the festival is part of an immense paper theatre collection assembled over the course of eighteen years by Scott Paulson. I listened to him talk to visitors young and old about his collection, and tried to absorb a bit of this unique art form’s history. I learned how in that bygone age, families would construct these paper theaters from kits, then act out plays with the included scripts and paper doll actors. The entertaining hobby encouraged people to learn about the operation of a real theater, including set design and stage lighting effects.

Walking about the Seuss Room, I bent over to peer into many highly ornate 3-dimensional dioramas. Slots at intervals on the stages allow different paper backdrops–scenery sheets–to be inserted, as you can see from my photos. Paper characters, which are often mounted at the ends of sticks, can be moved about on a stage as a dramatic performance demands.

The festival is geared toward kids, who are encouraged to handle these fun paper playhouses, learn about their history and create their own small dramas. The event continues Sunday and Monday. Click here to learn more!

Paper Theater - It's the smallest show on Earth! Historical amusements are on display at the Paper Theatre Festival at the UC San Diego Library.
Paper Theater – It’s the smallest show on Earth! Historical amusements are on display at the Paper Theatre Festival at the UC San Diego Library.
Objects on display include books, posters and materials to craft paper theaters.
Objects on display include books, posters and materials to create paper theaters.
A mirthful dance of magical characters!
A mirthful dance of magical characters!
A variety of paper toy theaters and related items are on display at the festival.
A variety of paper toy theaters and related items are on display at the annual festival.
A scenery sheet depicting a London street to be used in a play of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.
A scenery sheet depicting a London street to be used in a play of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Detail from one highly ornate paper stage.
Detail from one ornate paper stage.
These cut-out paper actors include dragons, knights and other fantastic characters.
These cut-out paper actors include dragons, knights and other fantastic characters.
Mr. Jackson's Elizabethan Theatre includes the characters and text for Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Mr. Jackson’s Elizabethan Theatre includes the characters and text for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
An example of a French paper theatre kit.
An example of a French paper theatre kit.
The exhibition includes a crazy MOV-I-GRAFF card. The outline of the face is a fine chain. The face's shape can be altered with a jiggle.
The exhibition includes a crazy MOV-I-GRAFF card. The outline of the face is a fine chain. The face’s shape can be altered with a jiggle.
This stage features a troupe of ballet dancers!
This stage features a troupe of dancers!
Edward Gorey's Dracula, a toy theatre!
Edward Gorey’s Dracula. Classic horror and toy theatre!
Teatro de Mexico. A folk art toy theater.
Teatro de Mexico. A folk art toy theater.
Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop. Hansel and Gretel. A model to cut out and make.
Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. Hansel and Gretel. A model to cut out and make.
A fun Hansel and Gretel scene made of paper!
A fun, very colorful Hansel and Gretel scene made of paper!

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Getting the Starlight Bowl ready for action!

Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!
Guys work on an interactive kiosk that will be at the entrance to the renovated Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park!

I was pleasantly surprised during my walk through Balboa Park today to see progress is being made in renovating the Starlight Bowl!

A couple of super cool guys from Save Starlight were installing an interactive kiosk at the outdoor amphitheater’s entrance. I learned that some events for the outdoor venue are already planned for early this year! How awesome is that?

If you are like me, you might have watched musicals performed in the Starlight Bowl under twinkling stars, before the San Diego Civic Light Opera went bankrupt in 2011. My memories from years ago are still vivid in my mind’s eye. I remember laughing as a young man at the humor of Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance.

I’ve blogged about the effort to save the Starlight Bowl on several occasions, and took a couple of photographs after a new paint job and clean up early last year. I posted those photos on my Beautiful Balboa Park blog here.

If you want to learn more about the Starlight Bowl’s history, challenges, rehabilitation and eventual reopening, visit this website. You can make a donation to help with the effort, or perhaps volunteer!

A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright restrictions image from Flickr.
A performance in the Ford Bowl–now the Starlight Bowl–during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. (This no known copyright restrictions image is from Flickr.)
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!
Save Starlight is making great progress bringing the famous and beloved Starlight Bowl back to life!

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!

A very cool tour of Petco Park in San Diego!

Ballpark tours of Petco Park include a behind-the-scenes and on-the-field look at the home of the San Diego Padres.
Tours of Petco Park include a behind-the-scenes and on-the-field look at the home of the San Diego Padres.

Today I went on a very cool guided tour of Petco Park, baseball home of the San Diego Padres. The one and a half hour tour, which is offered to the public seven days a week, provided a behind-the-scenes look at parts of the ballpark that fans usually don’t see.

I was blown away!

A super knowledgeable and friendly tour guide showed our small group why Petco Park is regarded by many as the best ballpark in Major League Baseball. People in our group who were visiting San Diego, and who were fans of other teams, seemed to enjoy themselves just as much as me!

We saw several parts of the unique Western Metal Supply Co. Building, ventured into the Press Box, and got to briefly see the exclusive Lexus Home Plate Club. We walked out onto the field, and everyone took photos while sitting in the visiting team’s dugout. Then we entered a tunnel that led to the visiting team’s locker room. After passing through a service corridor used for Petco Park deliveries and maintenance, we emerged into daylight, entered the Padres Team Store, and finally ended up at the Padres Hall of Fame.

The following photos provide just a small taste of this awesome experience. If you find yourself in San Diego, take the tour! If you love baseball, it’s a must!

People wait by a ticket window for a fascinating ballpark tour at Petco Park in San Diego.
People wait by a ticket window for a fascinating ballpark tour at Petco Park in San Diego.
Paty, our knowledgeable and super friendly tour guide, familiarizes everyone with the history of Petco Park.
Paty, our knowledgeable and super friendly tour guide, familiarizes everyone with the history of Petco Park.
Personalized bricks in the Palm Court Plaza were purchased by more than 10,000 fans when the ballpark was built. The bricks sold out in 5 minutes!
Personalized bricks in the Palm Court Plaza were purchased by more than 10,000 fans when the ballpark was built. The bricks sold out in 5 minutes!
The Breitbard Hall of Fame was recently relocated from Balboa Park's Hall of Champions to the main concourse level of Petco Park. San Diego sports legends and champions are honored with plaques.
The Breitbard Hall of Fame was recently relocated from Balboa Park’s old Hall of Champions to the main concourse level of Petco Park. San Diego sports legends are honored with plaques.
A view of the ball field in January from inside the Western Metal Supply Co. Building. Trucks are getting the field ready for an upcoming Monster Jam event.
A view of the ball field in January from inside the Western Metal Supply Co. Building. Trucks are getting the field ready for an upcoming Monster Jam event.
A Padres fan on the tour checks out the left field foul pole painted on a corner of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building. The tolling of the nearby mission bell connects every game to San Diego history.
A Padres fan on the tour checks out the left field foul pole, which is attached to a corner of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building. The tolling of the nearby mission bell during every game reminds fans of San Diego’s history.
An amazing view of the ballpark can be enjoyed from The Rail, an exclusive seating area high up in the Western Metal Supply Co. Building.
An amazing view of the ballpark can be enjoyed from The Rail, an exclusive seating area high up in the Western Metal Supply Co. Building.
The Loft at Petco Park contains pool tables, a fun vibe and cool elements of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building's history that have been preserved.
The Loft at Petco Park contains pool tables, a fun vibe and cool elements of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building’s history that have been preserved.
As we continue counterclockwise around the upper level of Petco Park, we learn more Padres facts. We hear stories about the players and relive special moments.
As we continue counterclockwise around the upper level of Petco Park, we learn more Padres facts. We hear stories about the players and relive special moments.
A series of photo murals along the upper level depict Padres history. This one from March 24, 1951 shows Whitey Wietelmann out at first base.
A series of photo murals along the upper level depict Padres history. This one from March 24, 1951 shows Whitey Wietelmann out at first base.
As we walk along, San Diego's South Bay comes into view.
As we walk along, San Diego’s South Bay comes into view.
We are about to go behind-the-scenes and check out the Press Box!
We are about to go behind-the-scenes and check out the Press Box!
Inside a lounge area for the press is a glass display case full of memories from Jerry Coleman's life as baseball player, Marine aviator, and Padres broadcaster. The flag was presented to him upon his retirement by the military.
Inside a lounge area for the press is a glass display case full of memories from Jerry Coleman’s life as baseball player, Marine aviator, and Padres broadcaster. The folded flag was presented to him by the military upon his retirement.
We get to sit inside writer's row, where the press watches each game and composes their stories! The official scorer has a special seat in one corner.
We get to sit inside writer’s row, where the press watches each game and composes their stories! The official scorer has a special seat in one corner.
Way to the left we can see the control room for the music, lights and video board, and the spot occupied by the public address announcer.
Way to the left we can glimpse the control room for the music, lights and video boards, and the spot occupied by the public address announcer.
Before the 2018 season begins, some workers are doing a bit of gardening at the ballpark!
A couple months before the 2018 season begins, some workers are doing a bit of gardening at the ballpark!
Here's another fun part of the Petco Park tour. Walking out onto the field!
Here’s another fun part of the Petco Park tour. Walking out onto the field!
We head to the area behind home plate. In addition to other features, we are shown how Petco Park was built to provide close in, direct views of the action from every seat.
We head to the area behind home plate. In addition to other features, we are shown how Petco Park was built to provide intimate, direct views of the action from every seat.
Sitting in the visiting team's dugout! How cool is this?
Hanging out in the visiting team’s dugout! How cool is this?
If you find yourself in San Diego, you should take a cool tour of Petco Park!
If you find yourself in San Diego, you should take a cool tour of Petco Park!

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!

Smiles and culture at San Diego Multicultural Festival!

Members of the Imahen Taotao Tano-Micronesia Dance Group provide entertainment at the 2018 San Diego Multicultural Festival.
Members of the Imahen Taotao Tano-Micronesia Dance Group provide entertainment at the 2018 San Diego Multicultural Festival.

Late this afternoon I ventured down to Ruocco Park to get a taste of the 20th Annual San Diego Multi-Cultural Festival.

Every year the fun, family-oriented event showcases diverse cultures from around the world, and how they uniquely contribute to life in our city.

Many organizations were present that work to improve the community, plus all sort of vendors and great entertainment. Please read the photo captions to learn more about a few of the festival participants! You might feel inspired!

The 2017 Multicultural Festival in Ruocco Park had many diverse activities and interesting things for visitors to experience.
The 2017 Multicultural Festival in Ruocco Park had many diverse activities and interesting things for visitors to experience.
Some of the vendors had colorful artwork for sale.
Some of the vendors had colorful artwork for sale.
Entertainment on the main stage included the Micronesia dance group, Taico Japanese Drums and Soaring Eagles Native American Pow Wow.
Entertainment on the main stage included the Micronesia dance group, Taico Japanese Drums and Soaring Eagles Native American Pow Wow.
These nice ladies with EF Education First are looking for families to host of international students. Interested?
These nice ladies with EF Education First are looking for local families to host international students. Interested?
The San Diego International Sister Cities Association had a a couple of cool displays showing our 16 sister cities around the world.
The San Diego International Sister Cities Association had a couple of cool displays showing our 16 sister cities around the world. Participant cities often engage in cultural exchanges, including sporting events.
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Balboa Park had something super fun at the festival. Kamizumo!
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Balboa Park had something super fun at the festival. Kamizumo!
Kamizumo--paper wrestler--is a Japanese game in which folded paper sumo wrestlers are placed in an arena and controlled by vibrating the platform with finger taps.
Kamizumo–paper wrestler–is a Japanese game in which folded paper sumo wrestlers are placed in an arena and controlled by vibrating the platform with finger taps. (Click this image and the next to enlarge for easy reading.)
If you make these moves you lose: You accidentally step out of the ring while pushing your opponent! If you fall over! If you step backward out of the ring!
If you make these moves you lose: You accidentally step out of the ring while pushing your opponent! You fall over! You step backward out of the ring!
Another exciting kamizumo match is ready to begin!
Another exciting kamizumo match is almost ready to begin!
Cool guys with the Pazzaz Educational Enrichment Center had some Soap Box Derby gravity cars on display. Kids from the community are encouraged to participate in local races!
Cool guys with the Pazzaz Educational Enrichment Center had some Soap Box Derby gravity cars on display. Kids from the community are encouraged to participate in local races! I blogged about one such race in Sherman Heights a couple years ago!
A friendly face painter! I captured this same enormous smile a year or two ago!
A friendly face painter! Some things never change! I captured this same enormous smile a year or two ago!

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!

History and some memories in Civic Center Plaza.

Looking east past the Bow Wave fountain in San Diego Civic Center Plaza. The skyscrapers you see are in the heart of downtown's Financial District.
Looking east past the Bow Wave fountain in San Diego’s Civic Center Plaza. The skyscrapers you see are in the heart of downtown’s Financial District.

When I walk through downtown San Diego, sometimes I’ll pass through Civic Center Plaza to see if anything new or interesting is going on at the San Diego Civic Theater, or at Golden Hall in the San Diego Community Concourse.

I personally have a fond memory of Golden Hall. It’s where I attended my first San Diego Comic-Con with a school friend who happened to be a huge comic book fan. I believe that was in 1982, because I remember the artist Mike Grell was there, and penciled a free detailed sketch of his creation the Warlord for my friend. Back then the initial Superman and Star Wars movies were huge sensations. Yes, that was many, many years ago!

Civic Center Plaza today contains several cool sights. So far my blog hasn’t included images of the Memorial to Alonzo E. Horton plaque and the impressive Official City of San Diego Seal in the passage under the City Administration Building. So here they are!

(You might recall that in the past I’ve posted photos of the Bow Wave fountain, the terrazzo image in the plaza of Cabrillo’s galleon sailing into San Diego Bay, and the Sister City signs. Not to mention photos of other incidental stuff encountered during walks.)

Walking west into Civic Center Plaza from Third Avenue. Golden Hall is directly ahead.
Walking west into Civic Center Plaza from Third Avenue. Golden Hall is directly ahead.
Lots of people are excited that the smash hit Hamilton is playing right now at the San Diego Civic Theater.
Lots of people are excited that the smash hit Hamilton is playing right now at the San Diego Civic Theater.
Cool photo of Bow Wave, created by artist Malcolm Leland in 1972.
Cool photo of Bow Wave, created by artist Malcolm Leland in 1972.
A few people stroll through Civic Center Plaza. Windows in the old (and many say outdated) City Administration Building rise over a passage to C Street.
A few people stroll through Civic Center Plaza. Windows in the old (and many say outdated) City Administration Building rise over a passage to C Street.
Charles C. Dail Concourse conceived by citizens of vision. This community concourse is dedicated by the people of San Diego as a tribute to culture, industry and good government. 1965
Charles C. Dail Concourse conceived by citizens of vision. This Community Concourse is dedicated by the people of San Diego as a tribute to culture, industry and good government, 1965.
Memorial to Alonzo E. Horton, 1813-1909. Founder of the new city of San Diego 1867. Placed by the San Diego Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in the Bicentennial year 1976.
Memorial to Alonzo E. Horton, 1813-1909, founder of the new city of San Diego, 1867. Placed by the San Diego Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in the Bicentennial year 1976.
People walk toward the San Diego City Information Center past a large terrazzo Official City of San Diego Seal.
People walk toward the San Diego City Information Center past a large terrazzo City of San Diego Seal.
Detail contained in the Official City of San Diego Seal.
Detail contained in the official City of San Diego Seal.

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!

Exciting debut of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego's new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego’s new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.

I’m still in a state of elation after experiencing the exciting debut this afternoon of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

The first appearance of Raúl Prieto Ramírez as official organist for the city of San Diego was nothing less than phenomenal. He performed in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where the public will now enjoy his free performances every Sunday at two o’clock.

His great love of music, his energy, his vivaciousness and his extraordinary skill were apparent from the start. An enormous audience filled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and welcomed him warmly. At the conclusion of the exciting concert, he received a well-deserved standing ovation.

San Diego is so fortunate. The shoes of previous Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, would be difficult for anyone to fill, but Raúl Prieto Ramírez seems definitely up to the task. His playing is crisp, nimble, precise, and full of expression. His smile is enormous. His mission in life, he told the audience, was to bring to the world great music. That makes him happy.

Raúl Prieto Ramírez comes to San Diego from Barcelona, Spain. He is internationally acclaimed, the founder of the Barcelona-Mataró International Organ Festival. Now he will perform his magic in Balboa Park as Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society. I can tell you right now the future of the 103-year-old Spreckels Organ is incredibly bright.

My photos of today’s concert captures a true artist’s unbounded passion. That passion translates into musical gold.

Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world's largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world’s largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
Concentration.
Concentration.
Feeling.
Feeling.
Intensity.
Intensity.
More smiles.
More smiles.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society's Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society’s Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Instructions are secretly given.
Instructions are secretly given.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short sentence that introduces each part of the music.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short dramatic sentence that introduces each part of the music.
Too much fun!
Too much fun!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

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!

Mormon Battalion Commemoration coming in January!

The annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day is coming to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park on January 27, 2018.

Anyone interested in the long march of the Mormon Battalion from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego and their important contributions to our city’s early history should put the event on their calendar!

I’ve been informed by the commemoration day organizer that entertainment will include a Native American dance group featuring drums and singers, some colorful ballet folklorico dancers, and an old time fiddler’s group!

To get a taste of the many interesting things you might see, view photos of past Mormon Battalion Commemoration Days here and here!

I recently finished writing a short story about generosity and the true spirit of Christmas. To read it, click here!