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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Sparky writes: Yo, Cosmos! I couldn’t help noticing while chewing on this morning’s newspaper that there are a bunch of outdoor film venues around town right now. Can you give me the deets on the one in Balboa Park?

Cosmos: I saw that article too and couldn’t help wondering how many of those outdoor summer film series were around when The San Diego Museum of Art’s annual Screen on the Green film festival debuted over a decade ago. I also couldn’t help choking on my kibbles when I saw one venue charging as much as 22 bones for admission!

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Screen on the Green outdoor films, the San Diego Museum of ArtJust to give you a little background, Screen on the Green started in the summer of 2000 with a single film projected on the side of the museum’s east wing. The series quickly grew into a Balboa Park phenomenon, as its lineup expanded and hundreds of residents packed the lawn in front of the Botanical Building each week—many arriving hours early to get the best spot. Films are now projected on a giant inflatable screen.

Fast forward to 2012, and Screen on the Green still stands as the most scenic outdoor cinema venue in San Diego County. Still being free of charge, it’s also one of the most affordable and pet friendly!

As in years past, this season’s lineup includes critically acclaimed films that complement exhibitions in SDMA’s galleries. For example, the classic films Ivanhoe on July 21 and Beat the Devil on July 28 are presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Invention of Glory. And the Bollywood film Love Aaj Kal on August 8 highlights the museum’s internationally renowned collection of Indian art.

All films begin at 8:00pm, but you’ll need to arrive much earlier than that to mark the best seating for your pack.

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Top Dog Photo Contest 2012, CoppperWithout the benefit of Tyra Banks, we will soon discover the identity of Balboa Park’s Next Top Dog. But instead of putting a mansion full of catty models through their paces, we are looking to you, our resident dog lovers, to primp your pooch and find a choice spot within the Park to snap your winning photo, which can be submitted between July 16 and August 13 at

Like last year, a panel of judges will paw through the numerous submissions to select the best 25 to post online for a public vote, which will take place August 15 to 22.

The top vote getter will be named on August 23, and that lucky dog will be awarded a night’s stay and Su’ruff Camp package from Loews Coronado Bay Resort, which includes surfing lessons, doggie board shorts (smaller dogs) or a surfer bandana (larger dogs), a pet room service meal, and other howling-good amenities.

Second place receives a free professional session with OH MY DOG Photography and a Family 4-Pack of Balboa Park Passports. And the third place winner receives a Family 4-Pack of tickets to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and another Family 4-Pack to an upcoming performance at San Diego Junior Theatre.

But please do your pack a favor and don’t risk getting that perfect picture disqualified because you didn’t read the contest rules.

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Bea Evanson Fountain, Natural History MuseumThough I can be quite the sea dog on most summer days, I’ve never been one to follow the pack mentality and head for the overcrowded San Diego-area beaches on the July 4 holiday.

Fortunately for any bipedal readers who also wish to break away from the pack, most Balboa Park museums (listed below) will be open on Wednesday, July 4, with all resuming their regular schedule the rest of the week.

The beaches will always be there (at least in my lifetime), so why not explore some great exhibitions that are only around for a short while? All the museums close by 5pm, giving you plenty of time to grab your picnic baskets and watch fireworks at numerous other venues in the county.


Museum of Photographic Arts — 10am-3pm*

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center — 10am-5pm

San Diego Air & Space Museum — 10am-5pm

San Diego Automotive Museum — 10am-5pm

San Diego History Center — 10am-5pm

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — 11am-4pm*

San Diego Museum of Man — 10am-4:30pm

San Diego Natural History Museum — 10am-5pm

San Diego Zoo — 9am-9pm

(* denotes special holiday hours)


Mingei International Museum

San Diego Museum of Art

Timken Museum of Art


Also note that there is no Twilight in the Park Concert or Old Globe performance on July 4.


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Like a warm puppy under the Christmas tree, the best traditions never get old. That’s why the 25th-anniversary season of the International Summer Organ Festival sounds as fresh as ever to this old dog’s ears.

Each Monday evening at 7:30pm, until August 27, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion will once again play host to a different organist of both national and international renown. We’re talking the top dogs of the console, representing a variety of genres and styles. If you think all organ music sounds the same, think again!

For instance, the coming weeks bring two relatively young pups to the Spreckels stage: Simon Gledhill (July 2), who is one of Great Britain’s leading theater organists, and Tom Trenney (July 9), an award-winning master of musical improvisation.

Next up is Ty Woodward (July 16), the staff organist at Disney’s El Capitan Theater in Hollywood who got his start at San Diego’s Organ Powered Pizza restaurants (anyone remember those?). He adds classical and choral to his theater organ experience.

I assume I’m not the only autograph hound excited about the July 23 performance featuring the international TV personality Diane Bish, the most visible and influential classical organist in the world. Since 1982, her Joy of Music TV series has broadcast over 500 episodes worldwide of her performing on major organs in Europe and North America.

Other series highlights include the unique “four hands, four feet” duet of Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault (August 6), the return of the popular Dennis James Silent Movie Night (August 20), and of course our own beloved Carol Williams, who serves up the festival’s grand finale with special guests on August 27.

As always, these outdoor concerts are presented free of charge, and all species are invited to attend!

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Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, Balboa Park, Greta, Twilight in the ParkGreta writes: Dear Cosmos, now that the days are getting longer, I’m really itching and scratching to extend my weekday evening walk and paint the town pink. Any bright ideas?

Cosmos: In addition to a good flea dip to take care of your itching problem, I highly recommend you start tugging on your leash in the direction of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night around 6:15pm. That’s where you’ll really be able to kick up your hind legs and dance the evening away (at least until Jeopardy starts) from now until August 30.

In fact tonight, this season’s Twilight in the Park summer concert series kicks off with the tropical rock n’ roll sounds of Stars on the Water, an ideal setting for closet Parrot Heads to jam with their pooches.

And that is what Twilight in the Park is really all about as far as I’m concerned — a golden retriever of an opportunity for entire families, including canine members, to enjoy quality entertainment in a historic outdoor setting, where they can act silly, dance, chow down on a picnic dinner, dress in colorful costumes, and just have a gay ol’ time.

Of course the color of the costumes and style of dancing will largely depend on each night’s performer, which this week alone will go from the aforementioned Stars on the Water to the El Cajon German Band, performing oompah music, to Graceland, an Elvis Presley tribute band (hopefully performing “Hound Dog”).

An even more diverse range of bands will perform in the weeks after, including the Bayou Brothers (Cajun/zydeco) on June 28; a Marine Band playing traditional patriotic music on July 3; 1930s and 40s big band music by Ron Jermain on July 10; and traditional Mexican music from Mariachi Chula Vista on July 17, to name a few.

So be sure to check the schedule and mark your iPaw calendar for your favorites.

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