International Day of Happiness in San Diego!

Hugging rather than shaking hands.
Hugging rather than shaking hands.

Today is the International Day of Happiness! Happy thoughts and deeds were underway in downtown San Diego this morning, just outside Horton Plaza. I swung on by to check things out!

International Day of Happiness in San Diego at Horton Plaza.
International Day of Happiness in San Diego at Horton Plaza.
Early morning vows of how people will make the world a more happy place.
Early morning vows of how people will make the world a more happy place.
Smiling at my kids more.
Smiling at my kids more.
Smiling and saying hi to everyone I pass by today.
Smiling and saying hi to everyone I pass by today.
Sharing my lunch with someone less fortunate.
Sharing my lunch with someone less fortunate.
Being a good father and role model.
Being a good father and role model.
Help make the world a happier place!
Help make the world a happier place!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook¬†or follow me on Twitter.

Infinite words but just one small life.

Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego skyline in the background.
Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego in the background.

Anyone who tries to write soon realizes a daunting truth. There are countless possible stories to tell, and numberless ways to tell each one. Infinity multiplied by infinity amounts to a whole lot of indecision!

Last weekend I stood on a patch of beach on Shelter Island. A sailboat moored nearby fascinated my eye, and I puzzled over its profound complexity for several minutes. How could I accurately paint that sailboat with words? How could I phrase the most perfect description? Is it even possible? With a million words is it possible?

As I watched the bobbing boat and struggled to sequence potent adjectives, a sudden thought shook me: Writing’s purpose, like art’s purpose, isn’t to replicate the world. It’s to stretch our minds. That is all.

Words are limitless. As limitless as the universe. They allow us to travel anywhere, in any direction.

A few well-directed words can focus our minds (for a moment) on overlooked things; they can help us see vague things more vividly. Words can seek and memorialize those things that seem important. Words tossed about can provoke hidden feeling and allow us to draw nearer to others. Words, when magical, can help us to discern whispers of meaning in the echoing vastness around us.

Our lives are finite. But the infinity that is contained in words can expand our lives. That is their purpose.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Mark Twain lives at Old Town’s TwainFest!

Here comes Mark Twain during Old Town San Diego's literary TwainFest!
Here comes Mark Twain during Old Town San Diego’s literary TwainFest!

One of my favorite San Diego events of all time took place today in historic Old Town!

TwainFest is an amazing annual festival celebrating Mark Twain and other famous authors from the 19th century. While there seems to be an emphasis on American and English novelists, I saw homages to writers, poets and storytellers from around the world. Scenes from American and California history also appear in several of the exhibits. Which makes sense, because Old Town is a history-filled park recreating the earliest days of San Diego!

To get an idea of what TwainFest is about, enjoy a quick look at these fun pics! And be sure to attend next year, if you can!

TwainFest is part of Stagecoach Days at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Event is part of Stagecoach Days at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
And here comes a towering puppet of American author Edgar Allan Poe!
And here comes a towering puppet of American author Edgar Allan Poe!
Lots of entertainment included a stage with music and various contests.
Lots of entertainment included a stage with music and various contests.
Music included those familiar old folk songs that had everyone clapping.
Music included those familiar old folk songs that had everyone clapping.
Costumed participants were roaming about the central plaza of historic Old Town.
Costumed participants roaming about the central plaza of historic Old Town.
Families enjoyed many activities including games.
Families enjoyed many activities including games.
Excited kids blast off across the grass in an old-fashioned sack race!
Excited kids blast off across the grass in an old-fashioned sack race!
Kids of all ages enjoyed many unique literature-themed games and activities.
Kids of all ages enjoyed many unique literature-themed games and activities.
The TwainFest Wheel of Fiction featured many famous writers.
The TwainFest Wheel of Fiction featured many famous writers.
Booth inspired by Lewis Carroll had me making up a silly word!
Booth inspired by Lewis Carroll had me making up a silly word!
Never-ending stories had visitors adding their imaginative sentences.
Never-ending stories had visitors adding their imaginative sentences.
The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County readies to soar from a catapult!
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County ready to soar from catapult!
I wonder if Mark Twain imagined kids would replicate his famous short story!
I wonder if Mark Twain imagined kids would replicate his famous short story!
Children really enjoyed this guy's amazing flea circus!
Children really enjoyed this cool guy’s amazing flea circus!
A flea performer mounts the trapeze before the incredulous audience.
A flea performer mounts the trapeze before the incredulous audience.
Girl uses magnifying lenses to watch a flea take a swan dive from high platform.
Girl uses magnifying lenses to watch a flea take a swan dive from high platform.
The Quotation Machine rumbled before producing a quote.
The Quotation Machine rumbled before producing a quote.
Here come some horses around the Old Town San Diego square!
Here come some horses around the Old Town San Diego square!
The Marshall informed me that all was well.
The Marshall informed me that all was well.
Small audience in one shady corner enjoyed music and stories.
Small audience in one shady corner enjoyed music and stories.
The big Liar's Contest featured lots of tall tales and jaw-dropping whoppers.
The big Liar’s Contest featured lots of tall tales and jaw-dropping whoppers.
This guy is demonstrating the eloquent effects of literary potions.
This slick salesman is demonstrating the eloquent effects of literary potions.
Bottled Verne, Dickinson, Whitman, Bronte, Byron and more!
Bottled Verne, Dickinson, Whitman, Bronte, Byron and more!
Voters in election of 1872 must pass a literacy test!
Voters in presidential election of 1872 must pass a literacy test!
Of course, TwainFest had a bookstore with many classics of literature!
Of course, TwainFest had a bookstore with many classics of literature!
People could trade places with Henry David Thoreau.
People could trade places with Henry David Thoreau.
The guilty author of civil disobedience!
The obviously guilty author of civil disobedience!
Thoreau locks himself in with a brave visitor.
Thoreau locks himself in with a brave visitor.
It's the Daniel Webster Frog Toss!
It’s the Daniel Webster Frog Toss!
Carroll's Red Queen challenges all comers to flamingo croquet!
Carroll’s Red Queen challenges all comers to flamingo croquet!
Old Town event included the historic Mason Street School.
Old Town event included the historic Mason Street School.
Actors read poetry from Alice in Wonderland in one room schoolhouse.
Actors read poetry from Alice in Wonderland in one room schoolhouse.
Here come participants in the literary costume contest!
Here come participants in the fancy literary costume contest!
The spirit of Twain lives at this wonderful annual festival.
The spirit of Twain lives at this very wonderful annual festival.

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Coronado Public Library’s amazing Oz exhibit!

L. Frank Baum authored many fantastic children's books.
L. Frank Baum wrote many fantastic, very popular children’s books.

The Coronado Public Library is featuring a world-class exhibit of Oz art and artifacts this month! Two huge glass cases full of books and collectibles and a large wall display of original graphic art are alive with the beloved characters that populate author L. Frank Baum’s fantasy land of Oz. The artwork, toys, figures and other cool stuff have been assembled from several important Oz collections, and made available to the viewing public during Oz Con International.

I’d like to share a few photos that I took!

Eisner Award-winning Eric Shanower's graphic novels.
Eisner Award-winning Eric Shanower’s graphic novels.
Oz collectibles and artifacts in many languages on display.
Oz collectibles and artifacts in many languages on display.
First edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz used by a Dorothy actress.
First edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz used by a Dorothy actress.
Oz books and cool stuff in an exhibit at the Coronado Public Library.
Oz books and cool stuff in an exhibit at the Coronado Public Library.
Colorful panels of Oz art catch the eye of library visitors.
Colorful panels of Oz art catch the eye of library visitors.
Troll Queen original comic art from Shanower's The Forgotten Forest of Oz.
Troll Queen original comic art from Shanower’s The Forgotten Forest of Oz.
More artwork based on the fairy tale creations of L. Frank Baum.
More artwork based on the fairy tale creations of L. Frank Baum.
Scarecrow and Tin Woodman among many characters in the collection.
Scarecrow and Tin Woodman among many characters in the collection.
This Wicked Witch is cooking up trouble!
This Wicked Witch is cooking up trouble!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Ray Bradbury and crazy Horton Plaza.

This escalator goes up one level, but no escalator goes down right here!
This escalator goes up one level, but there’s no immediate way back down!

Horton Plaza, San Diego’s colorful downtown shopping mall, was inspired by a concept put forth by famous science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury. The crazy, jumbled design was based on Ray Bradbury’s essay “The Aesthetics of Lostness” which took joy in the notion of becoming safely lost on the side streets of Paris, London or New York.

While walking about Horton Plaza, you’ll see ramps, escalators, bridges and stairs that go every which way–up, down, across–leading you to new unexpected vistas. One mysterious escalator will take you up one level, but there’s no immediate way to return from where you came. You must let your eyes rove to discover another route. It’s really a fun idea!

I believe I took these pics on a Sunday morning, and few people had yet arrived.

Random ramps and bridges all over the shopping mall.
Random ramps and bridges all over the shopping mall.
Crazy, colorful Horton Plaza.
Crazy, colorful Horton Plaza.