Friday, March 25, 2016

Brilliant 'Bucky' stimulates, moves on San Diego Rep's Lyceum stage

Actor Ron Campbell gives a brilliant performance as R. Buckminster Fuller
in "The History (and Mystery) of the Universe" at San Diego Repertory Theatre. 


The real Buckminster Fuller by his famous geodesic dome.
and courtesy San Diego Rep and Scatena Daniels

FASTEN YOUR seat belts, and prepare for a wild, wonderful ride.
You're aboard "Space Ship Bucky" for a thrilling time at the theater.
San Diego Repertory Theatre's current production about the life of R. Buckminster Fuller is exhilarating.  In fact, it is one of the best we've seen in our decade-plus of supporting the Rep, a jewel in our city's theatrical crown.
Cookie, top left, and niece Amarylla Ganner, San Francisco,
joined Atlantan Misha Minesinger, front left, Bruce Keller,
born in San Diego, and Olivia Cosgriffe, of Billings, Mont.
All five enjoyed the brilliant production by San Diego Rep.
A magnificent performance by Ron Campbell conveys the energy and intelligence of one of the 20th Century's great thinkers. The play is titled "R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe." Don't miss it.
Our theater loving clan made the show a family affair. Five of us from four U.S. cities gave ten thumbs up to this stimulating, touching and thought-provoking production.
IN CONVERSATIONAL style -- making us yearn for more -- Campbell signs us on as his crew on “Spaceship Earth.” Together, we speed through the Universe with “captain Bucky” ever in command.
The life of this remarkable thinker offers a surprising and engaging journey which includes a confessional.  We learn that Bucky once drank heavily and even contemplated suicide.  As we travel with him, warts and all, we see his brilliance unfold and ripple -- resulting in an immediate standing ovation at our weekend performance.
Bucky was called “the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th Century” and “PR Man to the Universe" and his unorthodox thinking is captured beautifully by the Rep's savvy co-founder, D. W. Jacobs, who wrote and directed the production. (And performs it from time to time.)
Ron Campbell's grace on stage brings
Buckminster Fuller to life. 
He and actor Campbell fully inhabit Fuller's wondrous mind and imagination, in a script laced with wit and passion. One moment we're laughing and the next wiping tears.
RENAISSANCE MAN -- engineer, architect, futurist, inventor, teacher, philosopher, environmentalist, poet -- Bucky even sings a few snippets as channeled by Campbell.  The actor rushes the tempos a bit, but having Bucky sing is a charming touch and shows the tender and sentimental side of a man who died in 1983, just shy of his 88th birthday.
Bucky was a truly global thinker, decades ahead of his time, warning us years ago that Spaceship Earth is in danger.
We understand his concerns because we're taught by a captivating teacher.  It's a pleasure to watch the graceful antics of Campbell as he explains Bucky's theories.
From his use of the triangle, to exploration of the spherical geometry Bucky explored, we learn that science can be transformed into art -- and that art can teach us science.
If you arrive early, sit by the Lyceum's mosaic wall and relax.
PRODIGIOUS research by writer Jacobs gives us a well rounded look at the life of this unlikely genius. We learn that crossed eyes and poor vision kept the young Fuller from seeing objects clearly. This may have encouraged Bucky's mental wanderings and fascination with nature, for he vividly recalled designs and patterns of the natural world, encountered in summers on Bear Island in Maine. (He was born in Massachusetts and died in Los Angeles.)
Humor and pathos pepper the script as we learn that Fuller graduated from Milton Academy in 1913, worked at a cotton mill and meat packing plant, attended Harvard University, traveled, explored, pondered, thought outside the box. He was expelled from Harvard, after he skipped an exam to date a New York show girl, using tuition money to treat her and her chorus line friends to dinner. He suffered the loss of a much loved daughter but enjoyed a long, loyal marriage. With each setback, Bucky got back on the horse -- to benefit humanity.
The work premiered at the Rep in 2000. Its return is held over through April 10, to give regional audiences a chance to see the brilliant Campbell. His mime skills and acting breadth shine through -- for he's been both a star clown for Cirque de Soliel and a leading classical actor of national repute.
Kudos to both Campbell and playwright Jacobs.

A pink chocolate slipper with truffles personifies the Langham's pink theme; the motif carries
through in Langhams internationally, here in Langham Hong Kong's delightful welcome gift.

UP NEXT: We recently discovered a hotel that elevates "five-star" to a new tier. This hotel truly goes beyond as we discovered in the wondrous Langham Hong Kong. But what makes a truly grand hotel? Fine, understated service, beautifully appointed public areas, luxurious bedding, artful private room furnishings and thoughtful amenities. Plus, in this case, an edible pink slipper filled with truffles.
So one can have her candy and eat it, too! This lovely hotel moves into our "ten best" lifetime list. Find out why next time at
Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post for the weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dolphins, dining and dogs -- Hornblower offers it all

Thrilled guests watched a pair of whales blow -- thanks to Hornblower staff who make announcements on sightings,
explaining various whale behaviors as they unfold.  Part of Hornblower's mission is education.




Naturalists and Hornblower staff are
always on hand to answer questions.
HORNBLOWER enhances just about every pleasure the sea serves up: whale watching, dolphin gazing, fine seafood served with a romantic twist, commentary on world known cities and their skylines and -- coming soon -- Pet Day on the Bay.
Internationally known Hornblower Cruises has been entertaining folks on the water since 1980 when Hornblower CEO and founder Terry MacRae purchased a small charter yacht business with amusement in mind.
WE'VE BEEN blowing the horn for Hornblower since then, joining others in California and beyond, to enjoy whale and dolphin watching, fine dining and skyline viewing.
Hornblower fans enjoy an afternoon of whale watching on
San Diego Bay.  Many whales and dolphins were viewed.
There's nothing like a few quality hours on the water. Hornblower has remained true to its mission: delivering premier, top-drawer dining, entertainment and nature cruise experiences. Thousands have booked Hornblower for vacations, weddings, corporate and educational outings, holiday parties and private charters.
We've experienced Hornblower's delights with school kids, families and businessmen.  We've witnessed
Hornblower's Pet Day on the Bay is April 30.
Bring your pup and have a good time for a cause.
teachers as excited as their students at glorious breaching whales.  We've cheered for several wedding proposals -- complete with rings and champagne toasts. And we've made new friends from New York, Australia, Europe and right here in our part-time southern California home.
Cookie, Nick and Nora practice
for the upcoming Pet Day on the Bay.
Hornblower is a tradition for us on anniversaries and for family reunions, and at least twice each year during the whale migrations.
NOW RIDING the waves in its 36th year, Hornblower Cruises & Events is celebrating its own anniversary. As always, environmental protection and preservation is a priority for civic-minded Hornblower.
We enjoyed San Francisco's famous skyline on a recent Hornblower outing.

As Hornblower pulls away from the Pier in San Diego,
guests enjoy a view of the city and get close-up with other vessels.
On a recent whale watching outing, Hornblower's naturalists explained the company's sustainable living goals and answered questions about the marine life guests were enjoying.
We saw five whales at one point -- a wondrous sight -- and the giants of the sea are still moving up and down the coast off San Diego.
HORNBLOWER introduced a pioneering environmental management and education program, Respect Our Planet, in 2005. The initiative shapes sustainability measures, encouraging use of eco-friendly, "green" materials in new yachts. It also improves fuel efficiency, incorporating wind, solar and hybrid technology into vessels.  
BESIDES OUR tradition of whale watching and dining with Hornblower, we're excited to be part of the annual Hornblower Pet Day on the Bay coming up Saturday, April 30. It's a fantastic idea:  you bring your dog, learn about sea life, sharpen your knowledge of San Diego's historic buildings and ships, and enjoy snacks, beverages, guest appearances and the company of other sea-and-dog loving people. Part of the proceeds fund city animal shelters. Three outings await, at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 30.
Today, Hornblower cruises from seven California port cities and New York. It operates two National Park Service concessions with Alcatraz Cruises and Statue Cruises and last year began a venture with Canada,  Niagara Cruises.
How to book Hornblower events

Ron Campbell plays the title character in "R. Buckminster Fuller:  The History
(and Mystery) of the Universe" in as spectacular performance at San Diego Rep.
UP NEXT: San Diego Repertory Theatre's latest production is one of the best we've seen -- not just in our lively part-time home, but anywhere -- including New York, and London's West End. "R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe," performed by Ron Campbell, is a remarkable production about a remarkable man. It runs through April 3, and fans of fine theater won't want to miss it.
How to book a fabulous play
Then, we recently discovered a hotel that elevates "five-star" to a new tier. The wondrous Langham Hong Kong delivers beautifully appointed public areas, luxurious bedding, artful private room furnishings and thoughtful amenities. Plus, in this case, an edible pink slipper filled with truffles. Check out, remembering to explore, learn and live. Catch us Fridays when we post for the weekend.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Global gleanings: Asia trip finds happiness around every corner

Travelers' testimony: Happy people exist everywhere -- just look around

Young Japanese girls enjoy a stroll in Tokyo's temple filled Asakusa area. They show off their kimonos, greeting Cookie.

Cookie communes with a grandmother in a small village in the Mekong 
  Delta, Vietnam. The two talked about eggplant as she showed her garden.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain


AFTER A MONTH on the road in Southeast Asia and now a week in Japan, we've been surrounded by happy, gracious people.
We've been offered tea, directions, dried insect snacks and a pair of month-old puppies. (The latter was tempting because we miss our Yorkies.)

A tourist from Singapore meets Keller at a Buddhist temple in Vietnam.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

WE'VE TRAVELED by train and tuk-tuk, elephant and rickshaw, cruise ship, taxi, bicycle, sampan, barge and junk.  We've flown five airlines on seven flights -- from San Diego to San Francisco, across the Pacific to Singapore and Vietnam, to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Above right, from left, Sue, Cookie, John and Keller enjoy a tuk-tuk ride in Bangkok, while left, a Thai mother and
child illustrate international traits: a parent's enthusiasm, a child's fatigue and perhaps indifference.
We've met legions of happy and content people in the five countries -- 15 towns and villages --we've been privileged to visit.
Vietnamese girls embrace Cookie on a shopping spree.
What binds our fellow humans is simple.  They like their lives, are proud of what they do. We travelers exhibit that quality on which Blanche Dubois relied: "the kindness of strangers." Our hosts have shown appreciation, curiosity, patience. We've tried to do the same.
Travel forces one to trust -- in strangers, in safety of  the new, in the joy of discovering surprising foods or drinks, the pleasure of different ways of doing things.
So we travelers cast aside the familiar and comfortable, and stretch.
From Hong Kong to Saigon to Bangkok, scooters are popular transport.
Who knew, for instance, that a favorite Japanese candy has pork flavoring in it, or that a sack of dried grasshoppers has the same amount of protein as a fried egg.
THE BASIC things that bind us as humans are the same.
We love our families, breathe the same air, eat, sleep, travel, dream.
Whether selling kimonos or maple pancakes, leading a tour to yet another temple, explaining the workings of a gallery or restaurant, or ushering a group through a private home, our hosts have smiled, bowed, offered beverages, shared a slice of life.

Paolo from the Philippines befriended Cookie and Keller
aboard Celebrity's Millennium, with cocktails each evening.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –  St. Augustine

THE PEOPLE we have met have run the gamut from retired, wealthy and carefree, to financially challenged, even poor. Some live three generations in tiny homes. Others know only mansions and five-star hotels. The simplest homes we visited were immaculate. The people who've served us, cleaned our rooms and prepared our cabins were proud.
Our fellow travelers on lounge floors, tour boats, cruise ship suites, dim sum street stalls, and concerts showed respect and curiosity.

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”   Robert Louis Stevenson

Hong Kong Harbour, one of the world's busiest, sports the world's only working junks.

COMING UP: On the waterfront. We've traveled the waters of major Asian cities, and sailed and rowed in small villages. We look at the beauty of small boats, cruise ships, ferries, a floating restaurant and an endangered Chinese junk. Come along  for the ride, remembering to explore, learn and live. Catch us Fridays when we post for each weekend at