The fantastic, amazing Harper’s Topiary Garden!

People ride past what is possibly the most amazing, fantastic front yard in all of San Diego!
People ride past what is possibly the most amazing, fantastic front yard in all of San Diego!

I walked through Middletown yesterday on a mission. I wanted to pay a visit to the locally famous Harper’s Topiary Garden!

What a fantastic, amazing creation! This private front yard on a hillside has been transformed by the residents into a eye-popping landscape of weird animals and delightful designs. I felt as though I’d stepped into a small world touched by magic.

This is one super cool sight that is undeniably extraordinary!

Human imagination coupled with passion can actually turn wildest dreams into reality!

Mission Hill Garden Club asks How Does Your Garden Grow? I'll bet it's nothing like the Harper's Topiary Garden!
Mission Hill Garden Club asks How Does Your Garden Grow? I’ll bet it’s nothing like the Harper’s Topiary Garden!
Harper's Topiary Garden seems to be a combination of a vegetable Noah's Ark and an army of unearthly creatures paralyzed by magic.
Harper’s Topiary Garden seems to be a combination of a vegetable Noah’s Ark and an army of fantasy creatures paralyzed by magic.
A green guy in a sombrero takes a siesta. Perhaps this is his dream.
A green guy in a sombrero takes a siesta. Perhaps this is his dream.
A funny rabbit stands and points among many topiary creatures.
A funny rabbit stands and points among many topiary oddities.
It appears that Edna Scissorhands is kept quite busy.
It appears that Edna Scissorhands is kept quite busy.
Harper's Topiary Garden is a marvel of human creativity.
Harper’s Topiary Garden is a marvel of human creativity.
Those who drive up this street might be in for a great surprise!
Those who drive up this street might be in for a great surprise!
Cats and critters with long ears lounge in the sun near the top of the wonderfully weird garden. I think I also see a robot.
Cats and critters with long ears lounge in the sun near the top of the wonderfully weird garden. I think I also see a robot.
Perhaps the garden was inspired a bit by the fantastic worlds of Dr. Seuss, who lived in nearby La Jolla.
Perhaps the garden is inspired a bit by the fantastic worlds of Dr. Seuss, who lived in nearby La Jolla.
A most fantastic topiary garden. A treat for the eyes!
A most amazing topiary garden. A treat for the eyes!

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!

Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group's table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.
This member of the San Diego Sabers has personally made many lightsabers. Some examples lie on the group’s table during Maker Faire in Balboa Park.

The last couple of years at Maker Faire San Diego I’ve watched a group of Star Wars enthusiasts entertain audiences with lightsaber duels. They have engaged in their elaborate play on the main stage, swinging their illuminated lightsabers in mock combat, to rousing music from the Star Wars movies.

This year, as I walked around Maker Faire, I happened upon this group’s cool lightsaber exhibit. These local Star Wars fans call themselves the San Diego Sabers. They are one of many similar groups all around the world that make their own lightsabers and engage in mock combat.

I asked all sort of questions and learned more than I expected. Most of the extremely elaborate lightsabers used by the members produce colored light, illuminating a long clear tube that can be attached, thereby appearing much like the Jedi and Sith weapons made famous in the movies. Most of the mock weapons also generate that distinctive lightsaber sound. I learned that it’s also possible to order a variety of lightsabers from several online vendors.

Regional competitions are often held between groups, and the method of scoring is similar to that used in fencing. The sport is lightning fast, highly athletic and incorporates various styles of martial arts. The San Diego Sabers provide demos free to the public, teach all ages including kids (often using foam lightsabers for safety), and encourage acceptance, respect, and a positive attitude.

And it’s obvious they have a lot of fun!

Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
Many DIY lightsabers are surprisingly elaborate, generating light and sound, while appearing as authentic as any movie prop.
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it's free!
The San Diego Sabers provides full contact lightsaber training based on fencing, HEMA, Kendo and Wu-shu. Kids are welcome and it’s free!
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Someone picks up one of the cool lightsabers on display.
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they've got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
Members of the San Diego Sabers demonstrate mock combat using foam attachments. Together they’ve got enough lightsabers to take on General Grievous!
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
A kid checks out one of the cool lightsabers. As you might have noticed, I took these photos on two different days during Maker Faire San Diego.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Kids have a lot of fun with the foam lightsabers.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
Members of the San Diego Sabers arrive at the Maker Faire main stage in the Plaza de Panama. A combat exhibition is about to begin.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.
As Star Wars music plays, two members of the San Diego Sabers simulate an epic battle between the Jedi and Sith.

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!

A look inside the Laika Experience at Comic-Con!

Models of characters in the stop motion animated film ParaNorman displayed inside the Laika Experience San Diego for Comic-Con.
Models of characters in the stop motion animated film ParaNorman displayed inside the Laika Experience San Diego for Comic-Con.

The Laika Experience San Diego opened this afternoon! This very cool exhibit created in the Gaslamp by Laika Entertainment runs through the end of Comic-Con. It’s free to the public and well worth checking out! You can find it at 520 Fifth Avenue.

Here are a few photos I took of the many highly detailed models, props, sets and puppets used by Laika in making their four films: Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings.

Laika still uses the stop motion method to create their awesome animation. I learned they only use CGI sparingly, for things that are difficult to animate, like fire and water. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and the kids in our small group had a blast. There are lots of amazing models from each of their four movies, and a video and informative displays that explain the stop motion animation process.

Kubo greets passersby in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. A free exhibit by Laika Entertainment demonstrates their animation process and includes puppets, sets and props.
Kubo greets passersby in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. A free exhibit by Laika Entertainment demonstrates their stop motion animation and includes puppets, sets and props.
This cool artwork, made of LED lights, is from Laika's acclaimed first movie Coraline.
This cool artwork, made of LED lights, is from Laika’s acclaimed first movie Coraline.
Detailed model of Beldam from the movie Coraline.
Detailed model of Beldam from the movie Coraline.
Awesome model of the crooked house from ParaNorman!
Awesome model of the crooked house from ParaNorman!
Cool models of characters from ParaNorman.
Cool models of characters from ParaNorman.
From a hallway locker scene in ParaNorman!
From that hallway locker scene in ParaNorman!
Archibald Snatcher in his giant robot in the movie The Boxtrolls. Amazing detail!
Archibald Snatcher in his giant robot in the movie The Boxtrolls. Amazing detail!
A miniature set from Kubo and the Two Strings.
A miniature set from Kubo and the Two Strings.
The model of The Moon Beast from Kubo and the Two Strings was made using 3-D printing.
This model of the Moon Beast from Kubo and the Two Strings was made using 3-D printing then pieced together.
Norman is out on a San Diego sidewalk! You can meet him during Comic-Con and see a very cool exhibit created by Laika!
Norman is out on a San Diego sidewalk! You can meet him during Comic-Con and see a very cool free exhibit created by the stop motion animation wizards at Laika!
Shoe and Fish of the Boxtrolls wave hello!
Shoe and Fish of the Boxtrolls wave hello!

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!

Dreamlike street art in Normal Heights.

Arresting street art in Normal Heights. A snarling wolf.
Arresting street art in Normal Heights. A snarling wolf.

Dreams seem to have materialized on a cluster of electrical boxes at the corner of Felton Street and Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.

Some of the street art is tranquil and crystal-like. Some of the images are like visions from a nightmare. Others are fantastically distorted–almost but not quite human!

Take a look–if you dare!

A nightmarish skull.
A nightmarish skull.
More skulls include an upside-down peace sign--sometimes a symbol of death.
More skulls include an upside-down peace sign–sometimes a symbol of death.
A wraithlike figure seems to be in pain.
A wraith-like figure seems to be in pain.
Hands and fingers create an eerie seemingly inhuman skull.
Hands and fingers create an eerie, seemingly inhuman skull.
An abstract flower has a peace sign right-side-up. Perhaps an affirmation of life.
An abstract flower has a peace sign right-side-up. Perhaps an affirmation of life.
Colorful designs like snowflakes on an electrical box seem like visions in a beautiful dream.
Colorful designs like snowflakes on an electrical box appear to be visions in a beautiful dream.
Someone peers at the stars.
Someone peers at the stars.
Perhaps life is but a dream. A woman seems to grow from something odd but elemental.
Perhaps life is but a dream. A woman seems to grow from something swirling and elemental.
Crazily distorted faces.
Crazily distorted faces.
Many human expressions, but completely unreal. I think I've seen these weird creatures in some of my dreams.
Many human expressions–but fantastic and weird. I believe I’ve seen creatures like these in my dreams.
Who is that in the middle? Perhaps you or me.
Who is that in the middle? Perhaps you or me.

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!

A short story about painting angels.

Here we go again! I wrote another short story! What does it have to do with Cool San Diego Sights? Nothing. Silly me!

This very short work of fiction is about life. And painting angels. It has a happy ending! Click this link to read it on my writing blog Short Stories by Richard!

Thank you! I promise my next blog post will actually be about San Diego!

And by the way–I just posted four beautiful photos of barren trees in a heavenly sky on my other blog, A Small World Full of Beauty.  In case you’re curious, I took those photos this morning in Mission Valley.

Enough blogging for today!

Richard

A cool Star Wars character created by local artist!

Vernell Jones III, also known as Machinecore, creates a very cool, completely new Star Wars character in Balboa Park.
Vernell Jones III, also known as Machinecore, creates a very cool, completely new Star Wars character in Balboa Park.

I was walking through Balboa Park’s lively Plaza de Balboa, not far from the Bea Evenson Fountain, when my eyes suddenly fell upon a truly fantastic work of art.

I learned from the artist, Vernell Jones III, also known as Machinecore, that the unusual Star Wars character he’d created was some sort of futuristic Stormtrooper. My first thought was that the helmet kind of resembled General Grievous. My second thought was that this great artwork should be on the cover of a graphic novel. It’s that good.

Check it out! Then check out Vernell’s Facebook page!

Check out this Star Wars-inspired artwork. Looks pretty amazing to me!
Check out this Star Wars-inspired artwork. Looks pretty amazing to me!
More colorful, fantastic works of art by Vernell Jones III.
More colorful, fantastic works of art by Vernell Jones III.

To see even more Star Wars art on my blog, click here!

To see lots of cosplay photos on my blog, click 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!

Two talented artists on the streets of San Diego.

The head and upper dress of an Eagle Warrior, by Carlos, a talented artist in San Diego who displays various pieces on the sidewalk by the Star of India.
The head and upper dress of an Eagle Warrior, by Carlos, a talented artist in San Diego who displays various pieces on the sidewalk.

I’d like to bring two talented artists to everyone’s attention. I met them during my walk around San Diego yesterday. They show their colorful works of art on the sidewalk. I had spoken to Carlos at times in the past; I spoke to Juli for the first time and learned a little of her story.

Carlos often hangs out on the Embarcadero, right next to the Star of India. His fantastic Eagle Warrior appears to me to belong in an art gallery.
Carlos often hangs out on the Embarcadero, right next to the Star of India. His fantastic Eagle Warrior appears to me to belong in an art gallery. (Click this image to enlarge it!)

Carlos hangs out next to the Star of India, right near the ship’s figurehead. He usually has a whole array of stone and wire creature creations on display. Many of them are antlike. They’re all a lot of fun.

Yesterday he had something absolutely amazing on the sidewalk. You can see it in my three first photographs. He has made several such figures using resin, acrylic, and in this case some some quartz crystals. I looked very closely at his Eagle Warrior and was completely blown away. To me, this piece appeared to belong in an art gallery!

Carlos is very friendly and interesting, with many wise things to say about life and the world.  He has lived in San Diego for a long, long time.  If you happen to walk along the Embarcadero, and you see some art on the sidewalk that matches what I have described, you’ve probably found him! Say hello!

Close look at jaguar and serpent at foot of Aztec warrior, an amazing work of resin, acrylic and quartz by San Diego artist Carlos.
Close look at jaguar and serpent at foot of Aztec warrior, an amazing work of resin, acrylic and quartz by San Diego artist Carlos.

And now, a small colorful work of art by Juli:

A small but beautiful work of art, painted by friendly Juli. You can find her sometimes on the Embarcadero, sometimes on Broadway by the Santa Fe Depot.
A small but beautiful work of art, painted by friendly Juli. You can find her sometimes on the Embarcadero, sometimes on Broadway by the Santa Fe Depot.

At times I have seen Juli along the Embarcadero, painstakingly using a small brush to paint her fantastic crystal-like watercolor creations. But yesterday I spoke to her for the first time. She was hanging out on the sidewalk just south of the Santa Fe Depot. Take a look at her work!

Juli is quite knowledgeable about the art scene and has travelled all around the country. Many of her friends and acquaintances know her as Tree. She recently came down to San Diego from San Francisco, and is working to recover from a difficult situation. Her attitude is of unbounded optimism!

If you’re ever walking about San Diego and you spy her small but very distinctive works of art, take a close look! They’re pretty amazing!

These wonderful small pieces of watercolor art were created by Juli, who also goes by the street name Tree. She recently came to San Diego from San Francisco.
These wonderful small pieces of watercolor art were created by Juli, who also goes by the street name Tree. She recently came to San Diego from San Francisco.  (Click this image to enlarge it!)

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

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