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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

I must admit, I’m a little jealous. As submissions to this year’s Top Dog Photo Contest have once again proven, there are some seriously good-looking mutts in my hood. But don’t take my word for it. Hop on over to the official Top Dog Photo Contest Voting Page and make your selection for Balboa Park’s Top Dog 2011.

There were so many howling good photos submitted to our panel of judges, we in fact expanded the selection from the previously announced 25 to 30. Honestly, how could our judges single out five of these adorable pooches as undeserving of at least being on the voting page?

I know it will be a rough decision, but please bear in mind that only one vote per IP address will be counted, and the vote must be cast by midnight on Friday, September 30.

The winners will be announced on October 3, with the highest vote getter receiving a night’s stay and an exclusive Su’ruff Camp package from Loews Coronado Bay Resort. (Did I mention I was jealous?)

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Dog Parks, Ask CosmosSimba writes: Dear Cosmos, With Balboa Park being home to three dog parks, should I just go to the one that’s closest? Or is one better than the others?

Cosmos: Just as no two dogs are alike, no two dog parks are either, even when they are located in the same “park.” Though convenience is obviously important to “on the go” hounds such as yourself, you should be aware of each dog park’s distinctive personality.

For example, Nate’s Point, the granddaddy of all dog parks in Balboa Park, reflects the hustle and bustle of its Banker’s Hill location. There’s lots of activity and buzz here, as cars cruise down and people walk along the adjacent Cabrillo Bridge, a main thoroughfare into Balboa Park’s busy Central Mesa area. But while Nate’s Point is the only one of the three dog parks that is entirely fenced in, it’s also the only one without its own parking lot.

Cosmos Blog, Grape Street Dog Park, Balboa Park, San DiegoFor pups with poor parking karma, Morley Field boasts the largest lot of all the dog parks. It’s accessed from a side road off the main entrance to the Morley Field Sports Complex. With no fences and surrounded by canyons and playing fields, this dog park has a very open feel to it. Just as Nate’s Point makes for an excellent off-leash pit stop on your way to the museum mall, Morley Field provides a nice segue to numerous hiking trails and human play areas.

Unlike the other centrally located dog parks, Grape Street Dog Park takes visitors off the beaten path into a quiet residential area, which gives this park its unique neighborhood charm. In spite of this feeling of intimacy, Grape Street is actually the largest of the three dog parks; so big, in fact, it’s also the only one with its own restroom. Not surprisingly, the South Park neighborhood where it’s located is quite pet friendly, and its quaint business district offers many eateries with outdoor seating.

With all that said, ultimately it’s the people and their pooches that make the biggest difference when it comes to good dog parks. So I suggest trying them all out to see which neighborhood pack fits your personality best.

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Cosmos Blog, Viva Mexico, Balboa Park, San Diego Museum of Art, Mingei Museum, Museum of Man, Timken Museum of Art, The Prado Restaurant, tickets, Mexican, foodIt isn’t every day that four museums in Balboa Park come together as a pack to throw an epic party. And that should be reason enough to see what all the fuss is about next Wednesday, September 14, when four major park entities host Viva Mexico!, a celebration of Mexican Independence.

One ticket, costing only a few bones more than admission to just one of these museums, grants my bipedal pals entry into the Mingei International Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Man, and the Timken Museum of Art.

That $15 ticket (with advance purchase) would already be more than worth its price to see each museum’s exhibition galleries. But on September 14, from 5 to 7:30pm, holders can sample a Mexican-inspired delicacy and beverage from the Prado Restaurant at each venue, see colorful folkloric dances, and hear authentic mariachi music as musicians roam the party spaces.

Although beer, wine, and tequila are on the beverage list, the Viva Mexico! celebration is a great opportunity for families to immerse their pups in Mexican culture and view exhibitions like From El Greco to Dalí: Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art, Modern Day Mummy at the Museum of Man, and George Inness in Italy at the Timken Museum of Art.

To sweeten an already sweet deal, a Family Four Pack of tickets is only $40 in advance and children 6 and under are free.

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, Nighttime Zoo, Labor Day Weekend As the traditional end of summer, Labor Day weekend also signals the last howl for many programs and exhibitions at Balboa Park cultural institutions. So as a service to all my two-legged readers, I offer this shortlist of Don’t Miss Last Chances:

Blue Star Museum Program: This five-star program to extend free admission at nine different Balboa Park museums to active military and their immediate pack members (spouse and children) ends this Labor Day weekend.

Nighttime Zoo: Evenings may very well be the best time to visit all my fury friends at the San Diego Zoo this Labor Day weekend—for a number of reasons: to avoid the heat and crowds, to view the critters that become more active at night, and to enjoy special Chinese-themed entertainment and activities.

In Their Own Words—Classic and Contemporary Native American Art: Also closing Monday, September 5, this intriguing display at the Mingei Museum digs up the similarities and differences between classic art from North America’s indigenous artisans and paintings by four native-Californian contemporary artists.

Engaging Shaw: Though the Old Globe Theater’s Summer Shakespeare Festival will run through the end of September, this “two paws up” critically acclaimed romantic comedy closes Sunday with a matinee and evening performance.


Going, Going … Almost Gone

Be sure to add these other last chance treats to your calendar app:

Gustav Stickely and the American Arts & Crafts Movement, San Diego Museum of Art, through Sept. 11.

Identity: An Exhibition of You, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, through Sept. 25.

Face to Face: Works from the Bank of America Collection, Museum of Photographic Arts, through Sept. 25.


Now Accepting Top Dog Photo Contest Submissions

Last but certainly not least, be sure to submit your winning photo of your prize pooch for the Top Dog Photo Contest by Friday, September 16, 2011.

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Cosmos Blog, International Summer Organ Festival 2011, Best of Hollywood, Carol Williams, Civic Organist, Balboa ParkIt seems like only yesterday I was enjoying one of the first installments of this year’s International Summer Organ Festival. Now here I sit, paws on keyboard, preparing to bark about the season’s finale concert featuring some of the greatest soundtracks in Hollywood film history.

If you are one of those types—bipedal or quadrupedal—who read my first blog about these free Monday evening concerts and said to yourself, “I’ll definitely check out these concerts this summer,” well, guess what? Next Monday, August 29, is your last chance!

But don’t despair, because San Diego Civic Organist, Carol Williams, will be pulling out all the stops. Her closing night concert event, “The Best of Hollywood,” will live up to its title by showcasing some of the most engaging and recognizable music from the soundtracks of The Sound of Music, The Godfather, The Pink Panther, Star Wars, and the most recent Best Picture Oscar winner, The King’s Speech.

Cosmos Blog, International Summer Organ Festival 2011, Best of Hollywood, Carol Williams, Civic Organist, Balboa ParkTo help her bring these celluloid show tunes to life will be the versatile jazz saxophonist Bill Shreeve—I can almost hear him now on The Pink Panther theme—and soprano Cherylyn Larson. You Organheads out there will remember Ms. Larson’s vocal accompaniment at a recent Sunday afternoon (August 14) performance by Ms. Williams of selections from another famous flick, West Side Story.

Speaking of flix, since many of you will likely be dropping all your red DVD mailers back in the mail next Monday morning, the Summer Organ Festival Finale is surely your best option for quality entertainment at an affordable price—FREE!

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