A cool exhibition of photographs on Cortez Hill.

I’m an amateur photographer. When I see an exhibition of photography by experts who actually know what they’re doing, I’m filled with wonder and a little bit of jealousy.

This evening I was walking through downtown, heading for my home atop Cortez Hill, when I saw a cool collection of photographs inside the front room gallery of Safelight Labs. About every month the exhibition in Safelight Labs changes, giving local photographers who use film a chance to showcase their work and perhaps sell a few pieces.

If you’re into photography, make sure to check out Safelight Labs, which is described as a community darkroom space.

Rob Cowan, the owner, is super knowledgeable and friendly. By offering workshops, classes, and an onsite studio and darkroom, he helps others to pursue their passion for photography!

The current gallery exhibition “One by Three: A Wide View of San Diego” is by photographer Carlos Lopez Medrano. He has taken many fantastic photos all around our beautiful city!

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!

A WWII paratrooper and his 2019 Normandy jump.

Tom Rice smiles after a brief speech at the 2019 Spirit of '45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.
Tom Rice smiles after a brief speech at the 2019 Spirit of ’45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

Today I listened to a few words that were spoken by Tom Rice, a 97-year-old member of the Greatest Generation. He spoke during the annual Spirit of ’45 Celebration at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. He came up to the podium and told the audience about his experiences.

In the dark, very early morning of D-Day, 75 years ago, Tom parachuted behind Nazi lines with other brave soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, to pave the way for the invasion and liberation of Europe. In 2019 he parachuted into Normandy again, to honor other World War II veterans, many of whom are no longer with us.

He remembered his deeds with humility.

I learned that a film will soon be released that features Tom Rice’s anniversary jump. Libertas, which is the title of the Normandy Jump 2019 documentary, will be pre-screened on August 17 & 18, 2019, at the Vintage Village Theatre in Coronado, California. After the screening there will be a panel discussion with the film director, producer, and Tom.

Money raised through ticket sales will be used by Honor Flight for their Fall 2019 Tour of Honor, which will send World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. so they can see their memorials. There are over 100 San Diego veterans on the waiting list.

Should you pre-order the DVD, use the code “Honor Flight” at check-out and $5 will go to help make the Tour of Honor possible.

To learn how you can buy a ticket for the special pre-screening of Libertas, or if you’d like to order the DVD, please visit this website.

I know some of this blog’s followers are in the local military community. Spread the word!

If you’d like to donate to Honor Flight San Diego, click here!

Comic-Con panel: The rise of Mexican filmmaking.

Today I attended a fascinating panel at 2019 Comic-Con titled Making a Bridge with Genre Movies. The panel wasn’t held in the San Diego Convention Center, but offsite in Barrio Logan, in the Artists’ Loft at BarrioHaus. Panels at this location tend to concentrate on Latinx culture and contributions to the popular arts.

Four panelists–Victor Osuna, Frank Rodriguez, Sebastian Finck and Mitch Hyman–discussed the rise of independent Mexican filmmaking and how Latin filmmakers have increasingly achieved success reaching an international audience. I was introduced to the hashtag #Jallywood, which is a combination of Jalisco and Hollywood. Filmmakers are striving to attract creative people for projects in Mexico.

I learned that using today’s technology, a quality film can be produced by anyone anywhere. With the internet, to achieve substantial success no longer requires a relocation to Hollywood or other media centers–it requires vision, passion, persistence, and a broadly appealing story. Good stories are universal in nature–all people react similarly to powerful human dramas and themes. Genres, styles and topics might be diverse, but basic human emotions are shared by all. Spicing a film with the culture of Mexico, or any other place, simply adds uniqueness and authenticity. The trick is connection: creating that irresistible appeal.

I learned that not only is the cost of producing a film in Mexico much less expensive than the United States, but there are fantastic settings (and stories) just waiting to be tapped. The opportunities in Mexico are wide open to any creator who is optimistic–who can see and grasp that unlimited future.

In this digital world, isn’t that true for much creative activity? While good equipment and skilled production is essential for filmmaking, isn’t it the extent to which the end product achieves likes and shares and downloads and streams that increasingly determines real success?

At the panel’s conclusion, the audience was asked to share their experience on social media.

Seems to me like good advice!

Why did this panel fascinate me? I do a little writing here.

Top Gun House in Oceanside to be restored.

Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun house, an historical landmark that will be restored.
Photo from across North Pacific Street in Oceanside of the famous Top Gun House, an historical landmark that will be restored.

Today I headed up the coast to enjoy a walk around Oceanside.

During my small adventure I paused to look at Oceanside’s famous Top Gun House, which is located at the corner of North Pacific Street and Seagaze Drive. It’s the small beach house in the popular 1986 movie where Maverick ate dinner with his love interest Charlie.

A nearby sign provided some information about the house’s historical significance and planned restoration:

“Built in 1887 by Dr. Henry Graves as a vacation home, the Graves House is an ocean front Queen Anne Cottage and is now the “last best” existing such house in San Diego County, as recognized by SOHO (the Save Our Heritage Organization).

The house is best known by most people as the “Top Gun House” because of its prominent role in the movie of the same name. Scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis were filmed here in 1985 and the popular movie was released in 1986.

Complete house restoration pending hotel development on this site.

Oceanside Historical Society.”

I spoke with a friendly Downtown Ambassador of MainStreet Oceanside at an information table by the foot of the Oceanside Pier, and she said there are plans to not only restore “Charlie’s House”, but to move it one block north, nearer the pier. That valuable oceanfront lot is also awaiting development.

The Top Gun beach house sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
The Top Gun House sits in a corner of a large empty lot that is awaiting development. A hotel will be built here, a block from the Oceanside Pier.
A sign near the Top Gun house provides information for curious people walking past.
A sign near the Top Gun House provides information for curious people walking past.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, over a century ago.
On the front of the house is a classic Top Gun poster and a vintage photo of the house as it once looked, long ago.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
Photo of the south side of the small Queen Anne style cottage.
The famous Top Gun beach house will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie's many fans for years to come.
The famous Top Gun House will be restored and enjoyed by the local community and the movie’s many fans for years to come.

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 at Spreckels Organ on Silent Movie Night.

People gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of Silent Movie Night.
People begin to gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of the Silent Movie Night concert.

This evening I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This special annual event, featuring a silent movie accompanied by the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, is part of every International Summer Organ Festival.

The organist this evening–for the second year in a row–was Steven Ball, who plays the world’s largest indoor pipe organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Among his many accomplishments, he might be best known for being the organist at the Miss America beauty pageant!

The hilarious movie tonight was Safety Last (1923), starring physical comedy genius Harold Lloyd, who ranks with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular silent movie stars. I was interested to learn Harold Lloyd graduated from San Diego High School, which is located in Balboa Park, less than a mile from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

About an hour before the concert, I watched people arrive and claim their spots around the pavilion. Unable to sit still that long, I spent a few minutes wandering around nearby areas of Balboa Park, photographing the sun’s last rays in trees and on beautiful buildings.

The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball, including Hooray for Hollywood. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world's top organists.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world’s top organists.
Safety Last, 1923, is a comedy that features silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Safety Last, 1923, is a hilarious, crazy, heartwarming comedy that features popular silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
As late light illuminated the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about to take photos. Here's the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
As late sunlight slanted onto the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about taking a few photos. Here’s the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
Here's the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here’s the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here's the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
Here’s the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
When I returned, the crowd had grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws about 3000 people.
When I returned, the crowd had really grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws somewhere around 3000 people.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! As twilight arrived in Balboa Park, I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.

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!

Photos of tour inside LAIKA LIVE San Diego!

Dozens of amazing stop-motion puppets can be viewed inside LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!
Dozens of amazing stop-motion puppets can be viewed inside LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!

Wow!

If you thought last year’s Laika Experience at Comic-Con was great, you’ll be absolutely stunned by LAIKA LIVE San Diego in 2018!

Not only are there lots of detailed puppets, models and scale movie sets, but during the tour visitors can meet and talk to an actual working armaturist and an animator! Anyone interested in how Laika produces their films can ask any sort of question, and the friendly guys explain everything–from how puppets, their armatures and costumes are created and manipulated, to how scenes are conceived and filmed.

Visitors to LAIKA LIVE San Diego also get a preview of the upcoming funny and heartwarming movie Missing Link.

If you can, visit this Comic-Con offsite before Comic-Con actually begins and the lines get really, really long.

Here are some photos. Read the captions for more info. I’m no expert, so I hope I’ve described things correctly.

There’s a lot more to see than what I cover here. Many detailed displays that visitors can view during the tour explain the complicated process of making a Laika movie!

Before beginning the tour, visitors can pose with various Laika characters, like Other Mother, for a photo.
Before beginning the tour, visitors can pose with various Laika characters, like Other Mother, for a photo.
While we wait to begin the tour, we watch a video explaining various aspects of Laika's animation and how their fantastic movies are produced.
While we wait to begin the tour, we watch a video explaining various aspects of Laika’s animation and how their fantastic movies are produced.
Visitors are encouraged to vote for this LEGO model of Coraline's house by photographing a QR code. Given enough votes, LEGO will produce the kit!
Visitors are encouraged to vote for this LEGO model of Coraline’s house by photographing a QR code. Given enough votes, LEGO will produce the kit!
A board contains Laika fan art and letters.
A board contains Laika fan art and letters.
Examples of one letter and some fan art.
Examples of one letter and some fan art.
Visitors to LAIKA LIVE San Diego get character fans as free swag.
Visitors to LAIKA LIVE San Diego get character fans as free swag.
The tour has begun. First up we see a large model of Coraline's Other World House Exterior, or Pink Palace. The 1/16 scale miniature was used to film several exterior scenes.
The tour has begun. Here we see a large model of Coraline’s Other World House Exterior, or Pink Palace. The 1/16 scale miniature was used to film several exterior scenes.
A closer look, with models of Coraline characters on the porch.
A closer look, with models of Coraline characters on the porch.
A friendly LAIKA Armaturist describes how puppets are made, manipulated and repaired at his workstation, dubbed the Puppet Hospital. He answered every sort of question!
A friendly LAIKA armaturist describes how puppets are made, manipulated and repaired at his workstation, dubbed the Puppet Hospital. He answered every sort of question!
Two of the puppets, I believe from ParaNorman.
Two of the puppets, I believe from ParaNorman.
A look at the Puppet Hospital and some of the tools used to make, modify and repair Laika's many puppets.
A look at the Puppet Hospital and some of the tools used to make, modify and repair Laika’s many puppets.
Once a puppet's physical posture is slightly altered, a key tightens up the armature for another camera shot.
Once a puppet’s physical posture is slightly altered, the turn of a key tightens up the armature for another camera shot.
Next we see how this Laika Animator captures images of Kubo on a small set of his village using a camera on a running rig.
Next we see how this Laika animator captures images of Kubo on a small set of his village using a camera on a running rig.
One camera shot is observed.
One camera shot is analyzed.
Software allows many frames to be merged and edited into a completed film.
Software allows many frames to be merged and edited into a completed film.
Some puppets have many faces that can be attached, each with a slightly different expression.
Some puppets have many faces that can be attached, each with a slightly different expression.
The tour continues to a large set that is being used to film Laika's upcoming funny movie Missing Link. The detail of the Pacific Northwest forest is extraordinary.
The tour continues to a large set that is being used to film Laika’s upcoming funny movie Missing Link. The detail of the Pacific Northwest forest is extraordinary.
The friendly LAIKA tour guide poses for a fun photo!
The friendly LAIKA tour guide poses for a fun photo!
Near the end of the tour, there is a life-size replica of Coraline's Other World Living Room.
Near the end of the tour, there is a life-size replica of Coraline’s Other World Living Room.
A fantastic model and puppets used in the filming of The Boxtrolls.
A fantastic set and puppets used in the filming of The Boxtrolls.
More cool sights during an amazing tour of LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!
More cool sights during an amazing tour of LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!

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!

More cool stuff appears outside 2018 Comic-Con!

A gigantic bunker-like structure has been built in one corner of Amazon's Jack Ryan Experience off-site for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
A large bunker-like structure has been built in one corner of Amazon’s huge Jack Ryan Experience offsite for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.

A week to go and more stuff is showing up outside 2018 San Diego Comic-Con!

I walked around the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village after work and got some photos! Nothing has appeared yet behind the San Diego Convention Center, or outside Petco Park. Once the ESRI conference ends and the Padres finish their home stand, I’ll bet that changes rapidly!

Read the captions!

Another photo of the Jack Ryan Experience taken one week before Comic-Con.
Another photo of the Jack Ryan Experience taken one week before Comic-Con. You can see the zip line.
The huge helicopter now stands near a building whose doors have Moorish-looking arches.
The huge helicopter now stands near a mock building whose doors have Moorish-looking arches.
Guys work on the helicopter which seems to have a fresh coat of glossy paint.
Guys work on the helicopter which seems to have a fresh coat of glossy paint.
The entrance to LAIKA LIVE San Diego appears ready to go. It opens Friday afternoon, six days before 2018 Comic-Con!
The entrance to LAIKA LIVE San Diego appears ready to go. It opens tomorrow–Friday afternoon–six days before 2018 Comic-Con!
If you read the spoiler update near the end of my last blog post, you'll recognize this mystery object!
If you read the final update near the end of my last blog post, you’ll recognize this mystery object!
The cool DC Universe wrap on the Hilton Gaslamp appears to be halfway applied.
The cool DC Universe wrap on the Hilton Gaslamp appears to be halfway applied.
A building wrap on the Omni Hotel is just getting started. Looks to me like it promotes The Gifted.
A building wrap on the Omni Hotel is just getting started. Looks to me like it promotes The Gifted.
Walking through the Gaslamp yesterday, I saw this scary clown head on the Fifth Avenue sidewalk, but today it's gone!
Walking through the Gaslamp yesterday, I saw this scary clown head on the Fifth Avenue sidewalk, but today it’s gone!
Amazon is erecting an offsite that promotes their Fire TV and popular channels that it features.
Amazon is erecting an offsite that promotes their Fire TV and popular channels that it features. You can find it at the corner of Market Street and Seventh Avenue.
Graphic on the Fire TV tent. Watch Disenchantment on Netflix starting August 17.
Graphic on the Fire TV tent. Watch Disenchantment on Netflix starting August 17.

UPDATE!

Here are photos taken late Friday. Lots of new offsites and wraps are beginning to appear!

With less than a week to go, Comic-Con International logos have appeared all over the San Diego Convention Center!
With less than a week to go, Comic-Con International logos have appeared all over the San Diego Convention Center!
A guy driving a lift around the convention center is getting stuff ready for 2018 Comic-Con!
A guy driving a lift around the convention center is getting stuff ready for 2018 Comic-Con!
A big building wrap on the Omni Hotel will promote Amazon's upcoming show Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan.
A big building wrap on the Omni Hotel will promote Amazon’s upcoming show Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
Hulu's offsite promoting Castle Rock is rising near the New Children's Museum in San Diego.
Hulu’s offsite promoting Castle Rock is rising near the New Children’s Museum in San Diego.
Workers get the Castle Rock activation ready for 2018 Comic-Con.
Workers get the Castle Rock activation ready for 2018 Comic-Con.
More work has been done on the Jack Ryan Experience. The Jack Ryan Training Field allows fans to immerse themselves in a hyper-reality virtual reality spy experience.
More work has been done on the Jack Ryan Experience. The Jack Ryan Training Field allows fans to immerse themselves in a hyper-reality virtual reality spy experience.
A huge bunker-like escape room in one corner of the Jack Ryan Experience has a cool seal. JACK RYAN DARK OPS.
The huge bunker-like escape room in one corner of the Jack Ryan Experience has a cool seal. JACK RYAN DARK OPS.
The cool DC Universe wrap on the Hilton Gaslamp is almost completed.
The cool DC Universe wrap on the Hilton Gaslamp is almost completed.
A wrap on the Omni Hotel promoting The Gifted, above initial construction of an NBC offsite near the Tin Fish. Fans will experience The Good Place.
A wrap on the Omni Hotel promoting The Gifted, above initial construction of an NBC offsite near the Tin Fish. Fans will experience The Good Place.
Guys in charge of erecting The Good Place offsite for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con confer.
Guys in charge of erecting The Good Place offsite for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con confer in the summer sunshine.
A big Conan O'Brien wrap is being placed on the Marriott Marquis. The design appears similar to this year's Conan trolley wrap.
A big Conan O’Brien wrap is being placed on the Marriott Marquis. The design appears similar to this year’s Conan trolley wrap.
A building wrap is being applied to the Hilton Bayfront, and the Adult Swim offsite has barely begun to appear. No FXhibition as of yet.
A building wrap is being applied to the Hilton Bayfront, and the Adult Swim offsite has barely begun to appear. No FXhibition as of yet.
I don't recognize what this wrap promotes--not yet! Feel free to leave a comment if you know!
I don’t recognize what this wrap promotes–not yet! The motorcycle suggests it might by the new FX series Mayans MC–the spin-off from Sons of Anarchy. Feel free to leave a comment if you know!

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!

I plan to take tons of photos during 2018 Comic-Con!