Photos inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.

The stern of HMS Surprise, the beautiful ship used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe.
The stern of HMS Surprise, the beautiful ship used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe.

If you’ve watched the memorable movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might recall the fictional British warship HMS Surprise was center stage for most of the film, which was set during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is now home to the working ship that was used in the filming of Master and Commander. Originally built in 1970 as a replica of the HMS Rose, a British 24-gun frigate from 1757, the ship was purchased by 20th Century Fox in 2001 and modified to appear in scenes in the 2003 film. Because of its starring role in Master and Commander, the ship was subsequently re-registered as HMS Surprise.

The critically acclaimed movie, starring Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin, was based on a series of popular novels written by Patrick O’Brien. Russell Crowe has been lobbying for a sequel for over a decade now. According to what I’ve heard, there’s a possibility the sequel might finally be made.

The museum recently debuted a new exhibit aboard HMS Surprise called Man-of-War, and along with many new signs on the main deck and gun deck, the captain’s great cabin is now open to the public. (You can see other aspects of the new Man-of-War exhibit here. Clicking the link will take you to a past blog post concerning HMS Surprise, where I’ve added updated photographs.)

Several memorable scenes in the movie take place inside the great cabin. Among others, you might recall scenes of officers dining and strategizing as they pursue the French privateer Acheron around Cape Horn to the Galapagos Islands, and of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin playing the violin and cello.

While I’ve been told much of the filming of Master and Commander was done on movie sets, the great cabin visitors see on the working ship HMS Surprise is much like the one portrayed in the movie.

The great cabin of HMS Surprise is now open to the public. Several displays provide interesting information.
The great cabin of HMS Surprise is now open to the public. Several displays provide interesting information.
Sign reads the Great Cabin in the stern of the Surprise was reserved for the captain's use. Here he slept, held council with his officers, and entertained his invited guests.
Sign reads the Great Cabin in the stern of the Surprise was reserved for the captain’s use. Here he slept, held council with his officers, and entertained his invited guests.
Photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise. In real life the space feels cramped and the table is small. The large stern windows are a familiar sight in the movie.
Photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise. In real life the space feels cramped and the table is small. The large stern windows are a familiar sight in the movie.
Unlike most of the crew, the captain enjoyed wine and ate in style.
Unlike most of the crew, the captain enjoyed wine and ate in style.
Historically, guns were deployed in the great cabin during battles at sea. To make room, furniture was removed and placed in a longboat which was then towed behind the ship!
Historically, guns were deployed in the great cabin during battles at sea. To make room for the gunners, the furniture was removed and placed in a longboat which was then towed behind the ship!
Another photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.
Another photo inside the great cabin of HMS Surprise.
Photo on wall recalls a scene in Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey shares a toast with ship's doctor and officers.
Photo on wall recalls a scene in Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey shares a toast with ship’s doctor and officers.
A display in the great cabin concerns prize money and medals. After a victorious battle, captains and crews were rewarded by the British government.
A display in the great cabin concerns prize money and medals. After a victorious battle, captains and crews were rewarded by the British government.
Gun on the starboard side of the great cabin, next to a chest and swords hung at the ready in case the ship was boarded by the enemy, or sailors mutiny.
Gun on the starboard side of the great cabin, next to a chest and swords hung at the ready in case the ship was boarded by the enemy, or sailors mutiny.
A violin on a stand. The favorite musical instrument of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey.
A violin on a stand. The favorite musical instrument of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey.

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A tour inside the historic Spreckels Theatre.

A tour group has entered the Spreckels Theatre from the Grand Lobby of the Spreckels Theater Building in downtown San Diego.
A tour group has entered the Spreckels Theatre from the Grand Lobby of the Spreckels Theater Building in downtown San Diego.

Several years ago I wrote a short blog about the Spreckels Theater Building on Broadway. I took a few photos of the six-story office building’s exterior and Grand Lobby. You can see those here.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event last weekend, I enjoyed a tour of the Spreckels Theatre, which is found inside the large mixed-use building. Our group met in the building’s Grand Lobby near the original old box office, which for many years had been hidden and forgotten behind a wall. We then ventured into the theatre’s smaller elegant Baroque lobby.

After learning some fascinating history, we headed down an aisle through the theatre, up over the orchestra pit and right up onto the stage! By tilting our heads back we could gaze six floors straight up at the stage’s complex workings, and by walking a few steps off the stage, we could poke our noses into the three “Star” dressing suites.

Our group was provided with in all sorts of cool information, but sadly I didn’t write it all down. We did learn that the Spreckels Theatre and the building that it’s housed in was built by San Diego entrepreneur and philanthropist John D. Spreckels, and was designed by Harrison Albight. The structure is built of concrete and steel–it actually contains more steel than nearby modern high-rises. The Grand Lobby outside the theatre entrance contains a vast quantity of beautiful onyx that was shipped in from Mexico.

When the theatre opened in 1912 it was the largest theatre of its kind west of New York City. The theatre originally had 1915 seats, to celebrate the 1915 Panama-California Exposition which would be held in Balboa Park. The theatre has been operating continuously for its entire existence–well over a hundred years. To this day, the theatre has one of the best acoustic ratings anywhere in the world.

Everyone in our tour group smiled when we heard about a 1923 production of Ben Hur, which included horse-drawn chariots actually racing across the Spreckel Theatre’s stage! Apparently the chariots raced in a circle through the lot behind the building, and would periodically come into the building to thunder across the stage!

The interior of the theatre was fairly dark during our tour, so many of my photographs didn’t come out very good. Please read the captions to learn some more about this very cool old theatre.

One additional thing! When questions were posed to the theatre’s manager, I asked whether Conan O’Brien would be returning to the Spreckels Theatre for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con. The answer was he almost certainly will!

The Grand Lobby shines with onyx brought in from Mexico. I learned this original box office was hidden for many years behind a wall and forgotten.
The Grand Lobby shines with onyx brought in from Mexico. I learned this original box office was hidden for many years behind a wall and forgotten.
A sign describes the Spreckels Theatre story. In the 1920's, it was transformed into a grand movie house, hosting Hollywood premieres and the leading stars of the day.
A sign describes the Spreckels Theatre story. In the 1920’s, it was transformed into a grand movie house, hosting Hollywood premieres and the leading stars of the day.
We've stepped into the lobby of the theatre. The amazing glass artwork above the entrance was created in 1983 by Yaakov Agam, commissioned by theatre President, Jacquelyn Littlefield.
We’ve stepped into the lobby of the theatre. The amazing glass artwork above the entrance was created in 1983 by Yaakov Agam, commissioned by theatre President, Jacquelyn Littlefield. Check out its very different reflection in the mirror!
The very elegant concession counter in the theatre, still in use today.
The very elegant concession counter in the theatre, still in use today.
Old photos in glass displays behind the lobby counter show the historic building, past movie stars and John D. Spreckels.
Old photos in glass displays behind the lobby’s counter show the historic building, past movie stars and John D. Spreckels.
Spreckels Theatre. Opening Night August 23, 1912.
Spreckels Theatre. Opening Night: August 23, 1912.
Looking up at light fixtures, one at the theatre lobby and one up some stairs at the Mezzanine.
Looking up at light fixtures, one at the theatre lobby and one up some stairs at the Mezzanine.
Portraits of Hollywood stars left of the front counter.
Portraits of Hollywood stars left of the front counter.
Early movie stars on the right side.
Early movie stars on the right side.
Resolution by San Diego City Council honoring Jacqelyn Littlefield Day, owner and operator of the beautiful Spreckels Theatre since 1970.
Resolution by San Diego City Council honoring Jacqelyn Littlefield Day, owner and operator of the beautiful Spreckels Theatre since 1970.
Cool poster from Conan O'Brien's appearance at the Spreckels Theatre during 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.
Cool poster from Conan O’Brien’s appearance at the Spreckels Theatre during 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.
Now we've entered the dark theatre where my camera struggles. Here's an idea of what you will see.
Now we’ve entered the dark theatre where my old camera struggles. Here’s an idea of what you will see.
Balcony seats surrounded by fantastic Baroque elegance.
Balcony seats surrounded by fantastic Baroque elegance.
One of two plaster sculptures by Charles C. Cristadoro, who would go on to work for Walt Disney.
One of two plaster sculptures by Charles C. Cristadoro, who would go on to work for Walt Disney.
Looking out toward some seats from the theatre's stage.
Looking out toward some seats from the theatre’s stage.
A distinctive Spreckels Theatre design at the end of every seat row.
The distinctive Spreckels Theatre design at the end of every seat row.
A quick peek into a modest suite to the side of the stage. A mirror, sink and restroom are reserved for the biggest stars.
A quick peek into a modest suite to the side of the stage. A mirror, sink and restroom are reserved for the biggest stars.
Our group learns some of the fascinating history of one of San Diego's most treasured places.
Our tour group learns some of the fascinating history of one of San Diego’s most treasured places.

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!

Cool mural in North Park remembers good old days!

A super cool street mural in North Park depicts icons from three decades: the 50s, 60s and 70s.
A very cool street mural in North Park depicts icons from three decades: the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Check out this super cool street mural in North Park, on the side of a building near the corner of 30th Street and Adams Avenue! It’s titled “Remembering… 50’s 60’s 70’s” and was painted by the artist Kerry A. Moore in 2008. The mural depicts small, iconic scenes from what many might call the good old days! I searched like crazy but could find absolutely nothing about this fun street art on the internet.

How many entertainment legends and famous people from those three decades can you spot? Among others, I recognize Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, the I Love Lucy show, the Rat Pack, Martin Luther King, Jr., Neil Armstrong, the Beatles, JFK, Easy Rider, Jimi Hendrix, the original Star Wars, The Godfather, Happy Days, John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, and, of course, Rocky Balboa. I was a kid in the 70’s and remember many good times. Movies I remember fondly include Star Wars, Rocky and Superman. But most of my best old memories are probably from the 80’s, experiencing life and this great big world as a young adult.  Wow, the years have gone by quickly.

I have a dream. Make love, not war. Happy Days. Revolutionary music, cool cars, sports heroes, and a space opera that altered entertainment forever. Bits of history and popular culture from America's past.
I have a dream. Make love, not war. Happy Days. Revolutionary music, cool cars, sports heroes, and a space opera that changed entertainment forever. Bits of history and popular culture from America’s past.  Now that is one jam-packed mural!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! 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 enjoy!

Leonard Nimoy lives at Spock Block in Encinitas.

The Spock Block celebration centered upon Encinitas City Hall on Vulcan Avenue.
The Spock Block celebration is taking place near Encinitas City Hall on Vulcan Avenue.

The City of Encinitas, a coastal beach city in San Diego’s North County, has a week-long celebration underway honoring the late Leonard Nimoy. If the immensely popular actor, author, director, poet, songwriter and photographer had not passed away in February this year, he would have celebrated his 84th birthday last Thursday. Nimoy’s rich life and artistry is being remembered, as well as his iconic role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek. Encinitas City Hall is located on Vulcan Avenue, and as every Trekker knows, Vulcan was the name of Spock’s home planet. So by official decree, a short stretch of Vulcan Avenue has been temporarily renamed Spock Block.

Today I took a long stroll around Encinitas, hoping to spot a few cool sights in and around Spock Block. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be much going on. I guess there wasn’t enough time for preparation and publicity. Maybe next year the festival (or Enterprise!) can grow into a much more interesting phenomenon.  How about some cool displays?  A science fiction film fest?  A cosplay contest?  Get creative!

Fortunately, I did get lots of other awesome pics around Encinitas, so I suppose more blog posts will be forthcoming!

A restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway had a special Live Long and Lobster deal!
A fun-loving restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway had a special Live Long and Lobster deal!  Seems entirely logical to me!
Encinitas surfers arrive from Vulcan Avenue--or perhaps from Spock's home planet...
Encinitas surfers arrive from Vulcan Avenue–or perhaps an avenue located somewhere on Spock’s distant home planet…

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Little Italy street banners celebrate Oscar winners.

mira sorvino
Mira Sorvino

Banners celebrating Italian American Academy Award winners are on display up and down India Street in San Diego’s Little Italy.  Here are some photos…

joe pesci
Joe Pesci
frank capra
Frank Capra
francis ford coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
ernest borgnine
Ernest Borgnine
anne bancroft
Anne Bancroft
anna magnani
Anna Magnani
al pacino
Al Pacino
sophia loren
Sophia Loren
robert de niro
Robert De Niro

Big movie stars seen at Hotel Del Coronado!

photo of clark gable at hotel del coronado

Over the decades, many of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars have stayed at the world famous Hotel Del Coronado. Most checked in for personal pleasure; others were working. The Hotel Del Coronado has been used in the filming of over a dozen movies.

Outside the hotel, a few steps from the sidewalk, you’ll find a glass display containing photos of movie superstar guests. I tried to take a bunch of photos, but most didn’t come out so great.

In my first decent pic, you see a photo with the caption: Screen legend Clark Gable stayed at the Del during the filming of Hell Divers, shot in 1931.

tony curtis, jack lemmon and marilyn monroe at hotel del coronado

I also recorded a photograph from 1958 of the acting trio starring in Some Like It Hot. The caption reads: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe proved to be a winning combination for Billy Wilder’s romantic comedy.

And here’s a third photo (which I took on a later date) with the caption: Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe’s steamy love scenes still heat up the screen more than fifty years after the 1959 film was released.

Photo of Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe movie love scene.
Photo of Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe movie love scene.

Here come even more pics!

Esther Williams and sons on the beach.
Esther Williams and sons on the beach.
Rosalind Russell out in the water.
Rosalind Russell out in the water.
Kirk Douglas seems to have quite an appetite!
Kirk Douglas seems to have quite an appetite!