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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

As I eagerly paw through submissions to Balboa Park’s Top Dog Photo Contest, I wanted to offer my unique canine perspective on how you can improve your chances of winning one of three great prizes, including an exclusive overnight Sur’uff Camp package at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.


cosmos-blog_cosmos-butterfly_zoro-gardenIf you’ve read the contest rules, you know that we are looking for photos of your pooch somewhere in Balboa Park. While having a handsome hound is of course the best place to start, composing your shot to incorporate some of the Park’s majestic scenery is where you can get creative. But don’t get carried away. As much as we love to see spectacular photos of this beautiful park, the photo first and foremost should feature your best friend in his or her best light.


Speaking of light, make sure your picture is clear and sharp. In spite of our grey skies of late, you should still strive to create a photo that isn’t dark and murky. We want to see your dog in all his or her glorious detail, so avoid poorly lit photos taken after dusk without adequate flash or shots in heavily shaded areas of the park’s grounds.


Also make sure the photo is in focus. I know that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how even with all the advanced technology built into today’s cameras, a shaky trigger finger or poorly adjusted lens or exposure setting can ruin an otherwise fabulous shot!


While some photographic faux paws can certainly be touched up in post-production using photo-editing software, here again, please do not get carried away. The photo should appear as natural as possible as this isn’t an art photo contest. For detailed information on permissible enhancements, be sure to read the fine print of the contest rules. I know that might sound boring, but urging you to read the rules is probably the best tip I can offer!

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cosmos-blog_photo-contest_lady-wulf_smNow just because I’ve been providing a dog’s-eye view of my favorite park for the past two years in no way means I consider myself Balboa Park’s top dog. There are just too many other great looking hounds gracing these grounds for me to claim that prize!


So to settle the matter once and for all, my good friends at Balboa Park Central are sponsoring Balboa Park’s Top Dog Photo Contest. The rules are simple: just take a photo of your favorite pooch somewhere in Balboa Park and email it to between August 2 and August 20, 2010, along with your name, phone, number, and email address.


A panel of judges from Balboa Park Central, including yours truly, will select five of the best ones to post on from August 24 to September 1, so everyone will have a chance to vote their choice for Balboa Park’s Top Dog.


One grand prize winner and their family will receive an exclusive overnight Su’ruff Camp package from Loews Coronado Bay Resort (including surfing lessons for one dog and other treats) and a family four-pack of Balboa Park Passports. One first runner up will receive a $50 gift certificate to Fetch Pet Care, and one second runner up will receive a $25 gift certificate to Terra Restaurant in Hillcrest.


As with any contest with great prizes, it’s always a good idea to read the complete contest rules (a.k.a. fine print) to ensure you’ll be putting your best paw forward when you submit your photo.

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With all the free activities going on in Balboa Park this summer, including free concerts, cultural fairs, and access to acres of parkland and gardens to frolic in, I can safely bury all the bones I earn writing this blog and save them for a rainy day.


cosmos-blog_screen-on-the-green-2010That’s partly because for the 10th consecutive year, the San Diego Museum of Art is presenting the dog-friendliest free film fest this side of Cannes. If you aren’t familiar with SDMA’s Screen on the Green film series, imagine picnicking on a grassy lawn in a picturesque park setting under the stars with dozens of your friends and neighbors, while classic films are projected on a giant screen.


As with previous summers, each film highlights works currently on display in the museum’s galleries. For instance, this Friday, August 23, Jason and the Argonauts (1963) will bring to life the epic Greek adventures depicted on vases and sculptures in the exhibition Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. Then on August 6, the colorful Chinese film, The King of Masks (1996) provides the cultural context for many of the paintings, costumes, and decorative objects in SDMA’s Asian galleries.


Concluding the series on August 20, the original, Oscar-winning version of Moulin Rouge (1952) presents the life and times of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec whose posters, paintings, and drawings of the belle époque are featured in the blockbuster exhibition Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris.


Now if I could only figure out a way to earn interest on my bones.

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cosmos-blog_ask-cosmos_maddieMaddie Writes: Dear Cosmos, With the dog days of summer just around the corner, how can my family avoid the summertime blues?


Cosmos: First of all, I should point out that if the dog days of summer were really that bad, they wouldn’t be referred to as “dog days,” they’d be called “cat days.” And secondly, when you live in or are visiting San Diego, there is no such thing as “dog days of summer.”


For instance, just to pick a random day, August 10, a Tuesday, residents can visit free of charge select museums in Balboa Park, including the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is currently featuring Taking Aim: Unforgettable Rock ‘n’ Roll Photographs Selected by Graham Nash.


cosmos-blog_rh-fleet_ultimate-wave-tahitiThey can also pick up a Stay-for-the-Day Pass for $35 and add visits to Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Viva Mexico at the Mingei, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris at the San Diego Museum of Art, along with two other museum visits.


Your family members have day jobs, you say? Fortunately the evenings are when Balboa Park really gets its groove on as Mariachi Chula Vista will be performing a free Twilight in the Park concert on August 10 in the pet-friendly Organ Pavilion. Also that night the Reuben H. Fleet is screening the new IMAX film Ultimate Wave Tahiti (included with the Day Pass) and the Old Globe is presenting the Broadway-bound Robin and 7 Hoods as well as the Shakespeare classic, King Lear.


These are of course just the highlights from one day, as I didn’t even mention all the gardens, walking tours, hiking trails, athletic facilities, or the three all-important dog parks. In fact, by the time I told you everything there is to do in Balboa Park, summer would be over.

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cosmos-blog_bird-concert-series-2010_3Covering the Balboa Park beat is quite the full-time job that often includes working weekends—not that I mind. While the diverse array of cultural institutions keeps the Central Mesa hopping all summer long, Balboa Park’s neighborhood nooks serve up their own brand of community spirit to keep me busier than a dog chasing her own tail.


A perfect example is Bird Park, located just east of Morley Field in the quaint craftsman-style enclave of North Park. Since 2002, the North Park Community Association has presented a free summer concert series on select Saturday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30pm, featuring local festival favorites for family-friendly dancing ‘til dusk. While the music is the main attraction, the event provides the perfect opportunity for an early evening picnic, mingling with neighbors, and watching the sun set over the downtown skyline.


As with past summer line ups, the remaining concerts in this year’s series represent a wide range of danceable music genres, including this Saturday’s (July 10) performer, Billy Lee & The Swamp Critters, who present Cajun Zydeco music in the manner it should be—fun.


Next up, on July 24, the Cathryn Beeks Ordeal will take listeners on a musical journey with her unique blend of country-inflected groove-laden folk rock. The series closes on August 7 when Scott Martin, formerly of the Grammy-winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Band, keeps the beat going with his own Latin Soul Band.


Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, I work for bones.

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