A story about desire that can’t be fulfilled.

The sky turns red and yellow just before sunrise on Mount Laguna. Photo taken at the Storm Canyon Overlook on the Sunrise Highway.

We all have deep-seated desires that can never be fulfilled. It’s an essential part of being human.

There are horizons that cannot be reached, dreams that cannot be realized. But we keep moving forward through life, in that place where we find ourselves, and we never stop hoping.

I’ve published a short story concerning this. It’s titled A Distant Place.

Writing the story was painful. Those who are thoughtful might enjoy reading it.

You can read this short work of fiction by clicking here.

San Diego students learn to write, recite poetry!

Teachers reading this blog, heads up!

Write Out Loud in San Diego offers several great educational programs that encourage students to thoughtfully read, write, speak and listen!

Yesterday, at the Arts in the Park event in Chula Vista, I learned how students can experience the transformative power of poetry!

Let Your Voice Be Heard is a program of Write Out Loud that provides free poetry writing workshops in schools. Students K-12 are inspired to reach within themselves and express their thoughts and emotions with a poem. Selected works are then displayed in libraries and retail businesses!

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation competition for high school students. This educational program encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country…students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

I was told that some teachers, like many students, are bewildered and a bit intimidated by the very idea of poetry. But why? Poetry is simply words flowing from our inner selves. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no need to be exalted or profound. Just be yourself. And, possibly, learn a little more about yourself in the process!

Teachers, please explore all the educational programs offered by Write Out Loud by visiting their website 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!

Mark Twain and friends visit San Diego!

Famous author Mark Twain and several literary friends visited San Diego today. They arrived at Heritage County Park for a very special event.

TwainFest 2022 welcomed some of the world’s most celebrated writers, delighting everyone who attended the outdoor festival. The free, family-friendly event is put on every year by Write Out Loud.

Mark Twain himself greeted visitors who wandered about…

I don’t know whether Twain realized he was standing only a block away from the house where humorist Squibob lived while in San Diego.

When I asked him, Mark Twain wouldn’t clearly acknowledge that he was inspired by Squibob. Historians say he probably was.

But we can all agree Twain’s novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a classic of American Literature. The esteemed author must’ve been pleased when TwainFest visitors cheerfully whitewashed a fence, much to the consternation of Aunt Polly.

Soon Twain was joined by three other notable writers. Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Emily Dickinson.

Yes, a fine summer day filled with imagination–another chapter in our own never-ending stories…

Out of the blue, a friendly Charles Dickens came strolling along through Heritage Park. The author confessed that one of his favorite works was A Christmas Carol.

In another area of the park, the Red Queen of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was playing croquet. I didn’t see Lewis Carroll, but he must’ve been nearby.

In the sunny Author’s Salon, Edgar Allan Poe was talking about his life–what he remembered of it.

Then Poe began his emotional recital of The Raven.

A few steps away, what were these smiling TwainFest visitors observing?

Tinker Bell and Peter Pan!

And that scoundrel, Captain Hook!

And what was going on over here?

Alice, the White Rabbit, the (Mad) Hatter and smiling guests had assembled for a quite unique tea party!

The Dormouse made a surprise appearance at the Mad Tea-Party as well!

And who is this fine fellow over here reading a story about gallant knights and noble acts of chivalry?

Don Quixote! (And his squire Sancho Panza.)

For his first big adventure, Don Quixote encountered a terrifying number of large fearsome giants who looked strangely like windmills…

Thank you, Mr. Twain, for the twinkle in your eye and your timeless humor.

And for bringing so many literary friends to San Diego!

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!

Hemingway in Comics previewed at Comic-Con Museum!

There’s a modest exhibit at the Comic-Con Museum that previews a much larger exhibition that is coming later this year. Those visiting the museum to see Spider-Man during Comic-Con should head down to the lower level and check out Hemingway in Comics!

I love reading literature, and Hemingway is one of my favorite authors, so I was pleasantly surprised when my curious eyes spied this comic art today.

The styles that are represented are quite varied, and the fictional stories involving the celebrated American author can seem fantastic and implausible, but that is art! And it’s all very cool!

I really look forward to seeing the full exhibition when it opens at the Comic-Con Museum this coming September.

Read the sign below to learn more….

If you’d like to view my coverage of Comic-Con so far, which includes hundreds of cool photographs, 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!

A secret place for High Flight in Coronado.

In Coronado, in a secret place overlooking the Coronado Yacht Club, there’s a shady nook where the human spirit can find High Flight.

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

–John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England during World War II. On December 11, 1941, at the age of 19, his Spitfire accidentally collided with another plane and he crashed to his death. Learn more about him here.

If you’d like to sit on this special bench in Coronado, and gaze quietly out at the world’s beauty, make your way to the corner of Glorietta Boulevard and Ynez Place.

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!

Old Town home of Squibob, who inspired Mark Twain.

One of San Diego’s most famous houses stands in Old Town at 4015 Harney Street. It’s a modest little structure that you might easily pass by without a second glance.

For a couple of years, 1853-1854, the Derby-Pendleton House was the home of Lieutenant George Horatio Derby, an American humorist who wrote articles for California newspapers, including the San Diego Herald, under the pseudonyms Squibob and John Phoenix. It is said his style of writing, employing absurdity, exaggeration, irreverence and good fun, inspired Mark Twain, Artemus Ward, Bret Harte and others.

Derby’s Wikipedia page states: According to the newly (2010) published Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. One, Ulysses S. Grant was a classmate of “Squibob’s” and the General told Twain some stories of Squibob at West Point.

In 1856 Derby’s immensely popular book Phoenixiana was published. It contains many of his humorous pieces, including articles he wrote concerning San Diego. I like the gentle humor of his description of Old Town’s Fourth of July in 1854. It is found on page 123: At 9 A.M. precisely, the San Diego Light Infantry, in full uniform, consisting of Brown’s little boy, in his shirt-tail, fired a national salute with a large bunch of fire-crackers. This part of the celebration went off admirably; with the exception of the young gentleman having set fire to his shirt tail, which was fortunately immediately extinguished without incident.

Why was Lt. George H. Derby, a West Point graduate and engineer of the United States Topographical Corps, in San Diego? To survey the San Diego River and build a dike that would divert its water into False Bay–now Mission Bay.

While in San Diego, he and his wife rented a prefabricated house that was originally brought by ship around Cape Horn. Learn all about the Derby-Pendleton House’s complex history here. It has had many owners, including William Heath Davis and Don Juan Bandini, and has been moved repeatedly.

You can see an historical marker concerning Derby Dike here. You might note that the marker was placed by Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus.

The San Diego chapter of E Clampus Vitus, “a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West,” is named after Derby’s pseudonym, Squibob. The motto of Clampers is Credo Quia Absurdum, which purportedly means “I believe it because it is absurd.”

In 1962 an historical plaque was placed on The Derby-Pendleton House by the San Diego chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. I took a photo of it yesterday.

Public domain photo of Lieutenant George Horatio Derby.
From the book cover of Phoenixiana.

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How to almost touch the stars.

Stars.

I just finished writing another short story. It’s titled The Highest Seat.

This very small work of fiction concerns stars and how one can almost touch them.

The unusual concept behind the story arose from something a friend mentioned. We were talking during my Sunday visit to Balboa Park.

The story is based a little on truth, and much on imagination. If you’re a dreamer, you might like it.

Read it here!

Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek at the Comic-Con Museum.

The Comic-Con Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park opened this weekend. One of the museum’s inaugural exhibits is titled Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary. Gene Roddenberry was the creator of Star Trek.

Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary celebrates the achievements of a writer and producer whose storied life was filled with optimism about the human race and our shared future. That optimism was embodied in Star Trek, and is one very big reason why generations of fans have loved the many television series and movies in the enduring science fiction franchise.

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and reruns of the original Star Trek series. I loved the space travel, strange new worlds, sense of wonder and discovery, how Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov . . . Picard, Riker, Data, Deanna, Geordi, Beverly, Worf . . . and a family of diverse characters overcame strange, sometimes daunting challenges, mostly using their moral sense and intelligence, never losing their faith in the potential good of humanity.

I loved the philosophical themes and the alien encounters. It all was fun, original, thought-provoking, exciting. I still enjoy watching the original series, even if the special effects are dated. My attachment to Star Trek is permanent. Like legions of other fans.

So, obviously, I was excited to view this major exhibit at the newly opened Comic-Con Museum. Gene Roddenberry’s creative genius and humanity is on full display–his writings, sketches, quotes, screenplays–plus there are original props and costumes from Star Trek.

If you’re a fan of Star Trek and happen to be in San Diego, this is a must see exhibition.

Here’s a little of what you’ll discover…

A colorful pathway through the exhibit details the life of Gene Roddenberry. He was a World War II pilot, police officer and Hollywood writer, before launching his enduring idea of Star Trek.
Original costumes from Star Trek productions on display.
The optimism and imagination of a curious mind are recalled.
Lexoriter word processor used by Roddenberry writing scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Roddenberry’s personal film projector used to screen Star Trek episodes at home.
Historical documents, letters, artwork and scripts are displayed, pertaining to the creative work of Gene Roddenberry.
Lyrics to the musical theme from Star Trek written by Roddenberry.
Star Trek communicators foresaw today’s cellphone technology. “The Menagerie” script of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Gene’s wife and actress who portrayed Nurse Chapel.
May Gene Roddenberry’s hopeful, positive world view Live Long and Prosper!

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 mystery concerning several very odd things.

An exquisitely beautiful seagull feather on the wet concrete at my feet.

Have you ever encountered a deep mystery whose solution turned out to be obvious?

A mystery like that unfolds in my new short story A Half Dozen Odd Things.

I love to walk around the city, take photographs, make discoveries . . . and occasionally write short fiction.

Do you love to read?

To solve the surprising mystery of A Half Dozen Odd Things, click here!

I hope you have a great Sunday!

Richard

A story about one teacher’s strange lesson.

A mysterious reflection in the rippled water.

Readers who are new to Cool San Diego Sights probably don’t know that, when I’m not walking around the city taking photographs, I love to write fiction.

Well, I’ve completed another very short story. This one is about a school teacher and a very peculiar lesson taught to her students.

The lesson isn’t merely strange–it might be one of the most important lessons any person, young or old, could learn.

To read it, click here!