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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

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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cosmos-blog_july-4-weekend-2010As a patriotic pooch, I find so much to be grateful for as America celebrates its 234th Independence Day. I’m also thankful that our nation’s birthday gives us all the freedom to enjoy a three-day holiday weekend in Balboa Park. Here are just a few places to catch the Park’s special brand of cultural fireworks:

 

Earth Exposed at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Center. Just opened last week, this interactive display of 25 hands-on exhibits explores nature’s powerful forces, like tornados, geysers, and volcanoes, that are continuously re-shaping the world we see around us.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Museum of Photographic Arts. This screening of the classic family flick starring Dick van Dyke and Edison the Dog on July 3 at 1pm will be preceded by a most entertaining performance by Scott Paulson’s Teeny Tiny Pit Orchestra.

 

SUDS: The Rocking 60s Musical at the Starlight Bowl. This bubbly musical, featuring American 60s classics, ends its run with a bang on July 2–3 at 8pm. The uplifting story of a teenage girl who seeks true love with the help of two guardian angels promises good clean, laugh-out-loud fun.

 

House of U.S.A. Lawn Program. The annual Sunday celebration actually falls on July 4 this year. No need to fight fellow beach goers for a fire ring when you can enjoy a small town-style Fourth of July celebration, complete with live bands playing patriotic tunes, costumed Uncle Sams, and an all-American picnic menu of hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, and apple pie. Dog Bless America!

Posted in Festivals, Museums, Stuff to Do | add a comment

While the word diverse may not always be associated with organ music, the International Summer Organ Festival’s program for 2010 certainly stretches the versatile instrument’s range into a wide variety of musical categories. And we’re not talking a dog’s breakfast of styles, but rather a carefully selected blend of genres from different eras. Enhancing the experience, each program is performed by an accomplished organist under the stars in the historic Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Monday nights at 7:30pm.

 

cosmos-blog_international-summer-organ-festival-2010For example, next week the dynamic Julliard-trained Canadian, Isabelle Demers, will sample both classical and modern composers, including Bach, Prokofiev, and Rachel Laurin. The following week on July 5, Walter Strony, one of America’s premier concert organists, shifts gears with a lively selection of works by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, and my favorite “piano man” Billy Joel.

 

Later next month, on July 26, the festival welcomes one of Finland’s most prolific recording artists, Kalevi Kiviniemi, who will present pieces dating from the 17th through 20th centuries, encompassing his own compositions. Then on August 23, the always popular Movie Night will treat audiences to a screening of the silent film The Yankee Clipper as Dennis James provides the musical accompaniment.

 

Last but not least, San Diego’s own Civic Organist Carol Williams closes the festival with a “Jazz Night,” featuring KUSI meteorologist and respected jazz trombonist and composer, Dave Scott, and friends. (I wonder if he’ll be wearing a bow tie.)

 

For a great preview, check out this news piece on Channel 8 News.

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cosmos-blog_twilight-in-the-park-2010

 

It’s time once again to kick off your work shoes, grab your best four-legged friend and picnic basket, and join hundreds of friendly concert-goers at the Twilight in the Park series in Balboa Park.

 

While some say Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, and others say June 21 or even July 4, I’ve always maintained opening night of the Twilight in the Park concert series (June 15 this year) truly signals the start of the season. Why? Because there is no other time of year when you can experience a great outdoor music festival three evenings per week with your family, friends, and leashed pets in the beautiful and historic setting of Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

 

Some of my best buds really know how to get into the spirit and have a howling good time, listening to a wide assortment of Latin, country, klezmer, blues, military band, Oompah, jazz, pop, and good ol’ rock n’ roll music

 

cosmos-blog_twilight-in-the-park-pugsFrom the classic swing of the Dixie Express Band (June 17) to the cool rhythms of the 50s, 60s, and 70s by Cool Fever (June 30), to the World Beat sounds of Damaru (July 21), I always find something for everyone in my pack.

 

And how much will a full season of 32 unique concert events set you back? Not a single penny.

 

 

 

 

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