Get ready to rumble
Does poetry make you think of drippy sentimentalism, trite metaphors about flowers or mystifying, pretentious nonsense? Does your colon pucker at the painful thought of a boring poetry reading? If so, then you probably haven't been to the San Diego Poetry Slam at Voz Alta in East Village. Malcontents and lovers of life alike vent their poetic instincts for cash and prizes at this well-attended event. Crippling stage fright? Nothing to say? Just come down to rain on other people's parades as one of five judges chosen from the audience every night. And if you need chemical assistance to get over your Monday blues, Junior will serve you the mind-number of your choice at Landlord Jim's right next door. San Diego Slam, with hosts Cecil Hayduke and Michael Klam, takes place every second and fourth Monday around 8:30 p.m.; sign-ups start at 8 p.m. It costs just $5 to compete, winner take all (usually around $50 or $60). Spectating is free, but a donation is requested. Don't be a punk-drop a few bucks in the till. Voz Alta is an arts and cultural nonprofit that deserves your dough. Voz Alta, 1544 Broadway, East Village, www.sdpoetryslam.com.
Free Dottie, Gilbert and Dave
Whether due to a working (wo)man's ethos or lack of demand, you can almost find some 12-bar guru or blue-note esoteric blaring for free around town. Currently, the best in town is Lady Dottie & The Diamonds, a dirty, sweaty rock 'n' blues band that plays for free on Mondays at the Tower Bar (4757 University Ave., El Cajon) and Wednesday at Henry's Pub (618 Fifth Ave., Downtown). They also play at House of Blues (1055 Fifth Ave., Downtown) on Saturdays, although it's been infrequent as of late. Dottie's a 60-plus blues mama who cracks the whip on her backing band, which is a who's-who of the indie-rock scene. The Tower Bar is the optimum place to see 'em-dive-bar dance glory. The other top-notch freebie is at the Onyx Room (852 Fifth Ave., Downtown) on Tuesday nights when jazz trumpeter/bandleader Gilbert Castellanos holds his open jam in the back room. On top of that, you can find the impressive Frank Sinatra-aping of Dave Patrone gratis on Wednesday nights at Martini Ranch (528 F St., Downtown). Patrone's a rather authentic imitation.
You sing like an angel
Wednesday night karaoke at Scolari's Office may be "sooo five minutes ago," but if it is, I'm living in the past. I'll never be too cool to get up onstage to drunkenly sing my own special white-bread rendition of "What's Up" by Four Non-Blondes. I don't have my piercing or plugs anymore, but the cool, young patrons at Scolari's Office don't seem to mind. They accept me for who I am, someone who loves to sing but couldn't carry a note if I had a suitcase. Plus, the cocktails are cheap, and the beer is cheaper. So even if the hipsters at Scolari's don't like me or my singing, I'm convinced they do. Oh, and just a note-if you too love to sing, make sure to sign up early. Show up by 9 p.m. and you should be good to go. Scolari's Office, 3936 30th St., North Park.
Now, that's funny
For a night of funny and free live stand-up comedy, head down to Moondoggies in Pacific Beach every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. Big-name comedians from Los Angles take the stage for a night of drinking, laughing, drinking, laughing and then drinking and laughing some more. If PB isn't your type of 'hood, head over to Lestat's in Normal Heights every Tuesday at 9 p.m. Mark Serritella hosts a night of hilarious stand-up comedy that often involves roasting half the audience. If you can't take a joke, sit in the back, be quiet and enjoy. Moondoggies, 832 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach; Lestat's, 3343 Adams Ave., Normal Heights.
Masters of puppets
Poltergeist may have ruined puppets for you forever, but if you've small children, it's time to get over it. One of the best deals in town for entertaining your tots is at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater in Balboa Park. The charming old theater is located near the Automotive Museum in one of the adobe structures dating back to the 1930s. Shows change every week and feature folk tales, fables, fairy tales new and old, musicals and comedies. The puppeteers are independent contractors, ensuring a wide range of stories featuring everything from hand puppets and marionettes to shadow and ventriloquist puppetry. The theater is currently on its winter schedule, with shows Wednesdays through Fridays at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., 1 and 2:30 p.m. Admission is less than the price of a Happy Meal, and the show is twice as tasty. Tickets are just $5 for adults, $3 for kids and children younger than 2 are free. The box office opens half an hour before each show, and if you want to sit in the splash zone you'll want to get there a bit early. www.balboaparkpuppets.com.
The Carlsbad crawl
The city of Carlsbad recently decided to increase its late night police presence at area pubs and clubs. To a concerned citizen, that means law and order is a problem. To an avid fun-timer like yourself, that means "Law and order is a problem!" While the once-sleepy beach town definitely doesn't attract the youngest crowd around, sometimes loose-letting 40-somethings are the best party pals. Most of the clubs around here don't have a cover charge, and you can hit 'em all within a block or two. The Coyote Bar & Grill (300 Carlsbad Village Drive), has some young folk and live bands; Neimans (300 Carlsbad Village Drive) is for the older sophisticate in ya, with jazz, funk and soul bands and DJs; Squid Joe's (850 Tamarack Ave.) is a good Baja-style sports pub with some local bands on the weekends; and Boar Cross'n (390 Grand Ave.) hosts live rock-blues or country bands on the weekends; and on Thursday nights at Tom Giblin's Irish Pub (640-A Grand Ave.), the ever-entertaining Leper-Khanz ramble through some fired-up violin-and-guitar drinking tunes. Age-ism kills. Befriend a 40-something.
Getting it on on the off nights
Almost every bar that doesn't have rats in the kitchen sees decent action on Friday and Saturday nights. But a few bars around town have exceptional "off-nights," gatherings where you can release a little mid-week pressure. Over at the AC Lounge (4673 30th St., Normal Heights), "Big Sonic Chill" night is named after 94/9-FM's specialty radio show of the same name. DJ Drew plays a variety of hipster softies and chill-out record-store classics, and the bar is packed. On Thursdays, try the Livewire (2103 El Cajon Blvd, North Park), if for no other reason than the jukebox is a gift-basket of underground music (including most good local bands), the drinks are cheap and stiff and the place is packed with enough tattoo ink to give Moby Dick a full body-sleeve. Also on Thursday night is Shooterz' '80s Night (3815 30th St., North Park), for the seagulls flocking inside us all. Tuesday nights at beachside punk bar The Liar's Club (3844 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach), is also great-from 4 to 7 p.m., you have the normal weekday happy hour, then from 8 to 10 p.m. it's two-dollar you-call-its. Another great jukebox joint.
Nurtured by Nature
It's reassuring to know that in this cold, uncaring world, there's a place where you can always turn for unadulterated love. The source of this affection is, of course, a mother-albeit a rather hirsute one-whose nurturing ways, and the antics of her equally furry child, are streamed live, 24 hours a day, around the world via the San Diego Zoo's panda cam. While panda peeping may seem a little too warm and fuzzy for some hard-core bros, watching San Diego's most famous bears snuggle in their den is like crack cocaine for the soul. Try it once and before long you'll be spending most of your waking hours cooing at your computer screen. True, Bai Yun (the momma) and her cub (who has yet to be officially named) don't do a whole lot, but even laying there sound asleep they manage to exhibit a level of caring and concern for one another that gives other "evolved" species something to aspire to. Plus, if you look closely, you might catch momma eating baby's poo straight from the tap- and you just can't put a price that kind of love. Join the monochromatic panda orgy at www.sandiegozoo.org/zoo/ex_panda_ station.html.
Everybody knows your name
Rosie O'Grady's is the very definition of a neighborhood bar. Every Sunday and Monday night during football season, the bar holds a chili-cooking contest. Competing patrons cook the chili each week and the rest of the patrons eat it up for free. On Wednesday nights, Rosie O'Grady's attracts some of the punks from nearby Lestat's for a night of karaoke. Regulars and non-regulars alike stand side by side for a fun-filled night of song and dance. As if that weren't enough, the bar has free live music every Friday and Saturday night. Stay tuned for the upcoming Rosie Annex, an extension of the old building that will house the games, pool tables and a brand new stage. Rosie O'Grady's, 3402 Adams Ave., Normal Heights.
Arguably the coolest bar in town, the Whistle Stop Bar in South Park has all kinds of cool, mostly free weekly events, which means you'll have more beer money in your pocket. On the first and third Sundays of the month, gather up your needles and yarn for a knitting session hosted by Knitmaster Jen. Even if you don't know how to knit yet, Jen will help you learn while DJ Tony spins soul and knit-friendly jams. Stick around on Sundays for indie-rock night "Keep it Like a Secret," featuring guest DJs. Once you're over the Monday blues, pop in for "Friends Chill" on Tuesdays, where you can play all the board games you grew up with, like Candyland, Connect 4, Operation, Chutes and Ladders, Battleship and more while DJ Wankchops spins a musical mix of down-tempo, jazz, ambient and indie. The one event you can expect to pay for is "Transport," which runs every other Saturday. Gabe Vega and a special guest DJ spin new and retro Brit Pop, indie and electro tunes, and the cost is $5. The rest of the calendar is filled with live music and DJs, with some eclectic events like film screenings and art shows. Whistle Stop Bar, 2236 Fern St, South Park, www.whistlestopbar.com.
One of the first casualties of parenthood is the movies. Adding the price of a babysitter on top of parking, popcorn and exorbitant tickets is enough to send even the most dedicated cinephile to the poorhouse. But there's a solution. UltraStar has set aside several morning screenings specifically for parents, and the little ones they bring along-it's called Parent Movie Morning. First-run films start at 10 a.m., and while the lights are down low, they aren't off, and the volume is most certainly not cranked to 11. You'll also get valet parking-for your stroller, of course. And the price is right, with the highest price topping out at $5 for grown-ups, while the young'uns (4 and younger) get in free. Can non-parents attend? Sure, but the diaper-changing facilities inside the theater may distract from on-screen action. Recent entries have included everything from March of the Penguins to War of the Worlds, guaranteed to let Mom, Dad and Junior lose themselves in celluloid bliss. Check www.ultrastar movies.com/PMM.htm for trailers, showtimes and popcorn.
Rat Packin' 'em in
San Diego lost one of its most beloved entertainers this year when The Amazing Shirley died of cancer. She held court at the Red Fox (2223 El Cajon Blvd, North Park) for years, majestically poised at her corner piano, her white, beehive hair and stark red lipstick conjuring yesteryear's nightlife. She's gone now, but her old pals who used to play alongside her have taken over the entertainer's role. It's dim, red-lighted and magical in a Regal Beagle sort of way. Also taking a bit of schmaltz a long way is Rick Lyon, the cheap-tie keyboardist-singer over at geriatric and hipster haven, The Imperial House (505 Kalmia St., Bankers Hill). Lyon once approached me and asked, "What's the worst song you know? I'll play it." Awesome.
Just because the tickets available through Arts Tix are half the price doesn't mean the seats are half as good. The way Arts Tix works is simple: local music, dance and theater events sell as many tickets as they can and the remainders are available through Arts Tix at 6 p.m. the night before the show or 3 p.m. the day of the show. You used to have to drag yourself down to Horton Plaza to buy the tickets from the Arts Tix booth on the corner of Third Avenue and Broadway, but now you can simply click your way to fun and entertainment by buying the tickets online. Visit the San Diego Performing Arts League website at www.sandiegoperforms.com and click on the Arts Tix Online link.
Three out of four Bob fans agree...
We all know that in terms of heart and soul, reggae lives in Ocean Beach at Winston's. But two unusual suspects offer up free or nearly free reggae on a regular basis. The first, and most packed, is RT's Longboard Grill (1466 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach) on Sunday nights. The difference between this and most reggae nights in San Diego is that the band-The Devastators-knows more than a bass line. Admission's only $3 and, in a move that's almost parody, Red Stripe beer is $2.50 all night. Plus, you can stand on the patio and watch hung-over PB'ers do their best zombie impersonations. The other free reggae night is down at The Local (1065 Fourth Ave., Downtown) on Wednesday nights with Trade Roots. The low-key, beachy hangout's also got happy hour from 4 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday, and $6 will get you a burger and a Budweiser.
Going down under
Loyal readers of CityBeat will know that we really dig underground music. Some might even say we're like a brain in a vat of college radio. If you share this record-store disease, there are places where you can find inexpensive or free indie rock almost every night of the week. Every Friday and Saturday night, there are free underground bands at Scolari's Office (3936 30th St., North Park). By day, the bar is lined with neighborhood lifers, but by night it's punks who don't mind a meek P.A. system if the music doesn't suck. If you dig the ambiance, come back on Mondays for trivia night. Also check the schedule at M-Theory Records (3004 Juniper St., South Park)-they're putting on top-notch free in-store mini-concerts almost every week now. Recent shows include Nada Surf, The Hold Steady, Pigeon John and a host of local bands. The Alibi (1403 University Ave., Hillcrest) is also hosting free live shows on Fridays and Saturdays-almost exclusively local, but whoever's booking it has good taste. And finally, always check the schedule at The Casbah (2501 Kettner Blvd., Midtown). Aside from the monthly MusicMatters showcase of local bands, there are free local band nights a few times a month, and PBR in cans at the bar.
With so few hip-hop joints in town, the mural-laden Recognize (4746 El Cajon Blvd., City Heights) is the haven for heads on Thursday nights for "House of Rep." Free hip-hop on that night orchestrated by Serge-everything from poets, DJs and battle MCs, even guest visual artists to make sure they touch all the elements. Most of the acts are from the San Diego underground, so expect the "Dago" shout-outs to remind you where you're at, in case you weren't appropriately recognizin'.
It's a sad but true fact that the arts don't come for free. However, Eveoke Dance Theater is trying to change that, one modern dance step at a time. When they aren't putting on shows, the company's dancers are teaching more than 35 classes a week at Eveoke's downtown studios, everything from ballet to hip-hop, tap to yoga, and offering a tuition assistance program on a sliding-scale basis. Additionally, Eveoke sends instructors into the public schools to spread the dance gospel, creates curriculum for teachers interested in bringing the arts into their classrooms and works with a variety of community and social-services organizations. Oh, and each August, Eveoke produces the Celebrate Dance Festival in Balboa Park, bringing together an eclectic mix of more than 50 dance troupes from around the region. And the Festival's price tag is right-free to the public. Eveoke just celebrated its 10th anniversary, so tap your way over to www.eveoke.org to learn more about classes, performances and membership information.
For those who like to travel but don't have the time and/or money, or who just want to practice another language and help others do the same, the San Diego State University International Student Center hosts an "International Coffee Hour" every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. The scene is obviously student-oriented but you don't have to be an SDSU student to attend. Don't let the name "Coffee Hour" fool you; the coffee is instant and definitely not the highlight. The reason to go is the people. Escape the humdrum of your usual lunch and meet interesting people from all over the world. The Coffee Hour is hosted by a different group of international students who prepare a dish from their native country-anything from Paella by the Spanish contingent to curry-laden dishes by students from India. A small donation is all that is asked. The International Student Center is located at 55th Street and Aztec Circle Drive near Cox Arena.
Only at night
An evening out doesn't necessarily mean forking over $30 for two movie tickets (they are getting pretty close to $15 apiece, aren't they?) or rubbing up against icky sweaty people in some packed club. Get out! Walk around! Enjoy the fresh night air! The second Saturday of each month, the galleries on Ray Street in North Park (just east of 30th Street) open from 6 to 9 p.m. for Ray at Night-free admission, of course. Some galleries even set out modest wine-and-cheese spreads. There's always an outdoor live band and plenty of odd characters wandering around. The last of this year's Kettner Nights happens Friday, Nov. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. The event, seven of which have been held since Jan. 14, urges visitors to explore the galleries, home décor and design shops that have popped up along Kettner. There's free food and drink, DJs and live music and a chance to see lots of stuff you likely can't afford (we call it "eye candy"). No word yet on whether the event will continue in 2006, but perhaps if enough people show up for this last one, it'll become tradition. On the third Thursday of every month, art galleries and shops along Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach stay open until 9 p.m. for Cedros Gallery Nights. Scope the art, sip some wine and explore this quirky little art district. Last but certainly not least is the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art's Thursday Night Thing. Held the first Thursday of each month from 7 to 10 p.m., you can scope the museum's latest exhibits, catch some live music and pretend you live somewhere really cool. There's also beer and fruity martinis for a reasonable price. Kindly drop a couple bucks in the donation box at the front entrance.
Of course there are countless venues (and street corners, if you live in O.B.) that you can walk into and peep a boy or a girl singing poetry whilst strumming a stringed, wooden instrument. But a few acoustic singer-songwriter nights stick out every week, all of which are gratis, which is nice. "Messed Up Mondays" at the Blarney Stone (5617 Balboa Ave., Clairemont) has become a spectacle and hangout for local musician types. Sean O'Donnell, frontman for favorite sons Reeve Oliver, teams with comedian-musician Matt Gorney for "Fever Crotch," in which they cover personal faves from Weezer's "Sweater Song" to Bon Jovi's "Livin on a Prayer." Zany stuff. The website www.listenlocalssd.com puts on multi-artist showcases every week making it the most bang for the buck. The showcases go down Wednesday Nights at O'Connell's Pub (1310 Morena Blvd., Bay Park) and Thursdays at the Tiki House (1152 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach). Organizer and musician Cathryn Beeks acts as a bit of a filter, so it's more of a sure bet than the open-mic nights.
Fun with horns
If there's one thing San Diego is not known for, it's got to be jazz. But when we tell you there's just enough of the stuff to scratch your itch, believe it. First off, admit it: All your life, you've been consumed by an insatiable passion-to listen to some live jazz while sitting next to an airport baggage claim carousel. To satisfy that urge, drop in at San Diego International Airport's Terminal 2 baggage claim the second Friday of every month and get your groove on with "Terminal Jazz," designed for relaxation in an environment known for its red faces and white knuckles. Past performers include Rob Thorsen Jazz, with its mix of standards and classics by Billy Strayhorn and Thelonius Monk, and the Lori Bell Trio and its Latin influence behind Grammy nominee Bell's flute. There's more where that came from-the program's monthly "Sassy Series" kicks off Nov. 23 with flamenco guitarist Mark Langford over at Terminal 1. Five bucks will get you two to three hours' parking; and coffee and refreshments are available for purchase. The music-its deviant venue notwithstanding-is free. Terminal Jazz runs from 7 to 9 p.m.; the Sassy entries start at 4:30 p.m.
If clarinets and banjos seemingly flying off in eight directions is more your thing, the America's Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society invites you to help bring some order to that chaos with its jazz workshops, held on the second Thursday of the month. All that's required is a desire to play a mean melody-drums, piano and the instructors come with the territory, and the teachers promise they won't charge you a penny, even if you suck large wind. The workshops are held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the rear of the San Diego Musicians Association Hall, 1717 Morena Blvd. More info is available at 619-297-5277. The San Diego Concert Jazz Band also holds free workshops every Wednesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Inn Suites, 2223 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, 619-296-2101.
Sometimes, it seems like beer's the only fun thing around a college campus that requires money in exchange. Universities are outstanding resources for free stuff, like concerts-and UCSD's music department is staging nearly 50 of 'em between now and the end of the school year. Often enough, the genre is jazz, and often enough, that jazz has a theme. "A Mingus Among Us," featuring songs by Charles Mingus and members of UCSD's advanced student jazz ensemble, is set for Wednesday, Nov. 30, at UCSD's Mandeville Recital Hall, followed by an informal ensemble concert on Dec. 2. Check www.ucsd.edu for more jazz concert dates, and don't hurry. There are several of them through May, featuring students in three levels of study-and at this stage of their studies, an audience certainly can't hurt.
If it's TV you're after, you're better off in your living room. If neon livens your night, head for Vegas. If food and alcohol do it for you, you may want to consider a trip to the fridge. Any and all of these commodities are conspicuously absent at Dizzy's, which opened a little more than five years ago as an antidote to San Diego's then-dormant jazz scene. It lolls in the East Village between Petco Park and the Gaslamp Quarter offering quality jazz in a bare-bones, artist-friendly setting. You can get Coke and coffee and cookies and stuff at a nominal price, and the chump-change cover charge ranges from $8 to $10 for most shows (occasionally, there's a $5 cover for students). Check the calendar at www.dizzys sandiego.com. Dizzy's, 344 Seventh Ave., East Village.
Rocker Jim Croce, who enjoyed notoriety as the "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" guy, was killed in a 1973 plane crash at age 30. Twelve years later, his wife Ingrid opened Croce's restaurant and bar in San Diego, marking the start of Downtown's revitalization. The restaurant is decorated with Jim's pictures and memorabilia, and that's a pretty cool reason to check it out. But what you may not know is that, for the price of a dinner, you have free access to the bar's nightly live jazz. The place serves up traditional, contemporary and Latin tunes and has featured the Dave Scott Quintet. Croce's, 802 Fifth Ave., East Village, www.croces.com.
-Martin Jones Westlin
And here you crazy kids thought live theater was only for those who could afford it. Yeah, it's true that the best seat to a Broadway/San Diego entry can flirt with three figures, and that admission largely pays for services that the theatergoer never uses. But unless the guy next to you is a pickpocket, your wallet needn't feel the pinch at San Diego's Diversionary Theatre (4545 Park Blvd., University Heights), now in its 20th season. This 104-seater features quality theater even at the last minute-which is to say that if you're a student and it's an hour before curtain, you get in for $9 with your ID. And in this day and age, when union truckers pass along things like the cost of costume transport to you, $9 is an unbeatable price. The next Diversionary entry, A Bright Room Called Day, is co-produced with Backyard Productions and focuses on a group of artists trying to preserve themselves in 1930s Berlin. It opens Saturday, Nov. 12. www.diver sionary.org.
What, you may ask (and we certainly wish you would), do college football and university-level theater have in common? Think about it. The players in each field execute their tasks with lots of abandon-they have no illusions about the odds of making a living as actors any more than they do about the obstacles in reaching the NFL. The difference is that student theater costs a hell of a lot less to see-in the case of El Cajon's Grossmont College, it's anywhere from $8 to $10. And the fare isn't just student-oriented. On Thursday, Dec. 1, the college opens The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's cult favorite centering on a whirlwind tour of the forbidden zone. The current season includes productions as diverse as Christopher Marlowe's murky Dr. Faustus and the '60s musical Suds, in which three enterprising angels thwart a suicide in a Laundromat. The school presents its shows at the Stagehouse Theatre, 8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Cajon. www.grossmont.edu/theatre.
San Diego has a few gigantic live theaters, nowhere near enough midsize venues and about 7.2 million little ones (by that, we mean those that seat fewer than 400). But never has it had an "instant" theater-until now. Begun last July by local actor/director Raab Rashi, Instant Theatre involves random groupings of up to 64 artists of various experience levels who write, direct and perform 12 five- to seven-minute plays-off book and in front of an audience. The catch is that they have to come up with their entries in 24 hours. And you, dear patrons, are the undisrupted beneficiary, because at $5 a ticket, you're gonna come out ahead no matter what. The second-ever Instant Theatre installment is set for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at 6th@Penn Theatre, 3804 Sixth Ave., Hillcrest.
It's been plying San Diego audiences with improvisational theater for 11 years, but that's not that long compared with the relevant history of the art form. Keith Johnstone, a former drama professor at the University of Calgary, conceived TheatreSports way back in 1976 as just that-theater as a sport, with teams that would improvise sketches and plays at the audience's suggestion and with the latter as judge. Today, TheatreSports is played the world over, with tournament competitions for trophies and everything, and its franchises take their fun deadly seriously. It may look chaotic, but there's a definitive order to it-a controlled spontaneity often missing from the best scripted work. You can check out San Diego's contribution to theater history for as little as $12 at The Fun House (6822 El Cajon Blvd). The asylum opens its doors for two hours every Friday and Saturday at 7:45 p.m. www.improvise.net.
-Martin Jones Westlin
Balboa Park's free museums
If Tuesday's child is low on funds, she'll have no problem in Balboa Park, where each Tuesday of the month admission to selected museums is free-just keep in mind that special exhibits may cost a little extra.
First Tuesdays: Miniature trains, behemoth bugs and scientific interactions. San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the largest Lilliputian world indoors-now if they could only build a model bullet train (www.sdmodelrailroadm.com). The San Diego Natural History Museum lets you feel small as the bugs of "Backyard Monsters" take on the scale of dinosaurs. (www.sdnhm.org). Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is a kid-friendly hands-on science lab with more than 100 interactive displays (www.rhfleet.org).
Second Tuesdays: The perfect picture of history. No matter what the Museum of Photographic Arts is showing, this large, quiet hall is one of the better photography museums around (www.mopa.org). San Diego Historical Society gives you a chance to see what life was like in San Diego before you couldn't afford to live here, with more than 2.5 million pictures of the city's development (www.sandiegohistory.org).
Third Tuesdays: Art, anthropology and friendly fish. The San Diego Museum of Art exhibits venerable paintings from Asia, India and the Americas (www.sdmart.org). The San Diego Museum of Man is an anthropological museum that shows how it came to be that we're so fascinated with ourselves (www.museumofman.org). Mingei is Japanese for "art of the people," and that's what's on display at the Mingei International Museum (www.mingei.org). The San Diego Art Institute, otherwise known as the Museum of the Living Artist, is full of impressive work by regional artists (www.sandiego-art.org). When you become utterly overwhelmed by the multitude of things humans create, head down to the Japanese Friendship Garden, sit on the edge of the Koi pond and make friends with the fish (www.niwa.org).
Fourth Tuesdays: Planes, jocks and automobiles. The San Diego Aerospace Museum is another great trip for the kiddies or anyone interested in how we managed to get our feet off the ground (www.aerospacemuseum.org). There's nothing like the sleek lines of a great hot-rod. Check out the amazing specimens at the San Diego Automotive Museum before you drive your Daewoo home (www.sdautomuseum.org). The San Diego Hall of Champions has enough memorabilia for the jock in all of us. Check out Tony Hawk's cool achievements and the great collection of surfboards downstairs (www.sdhoc.com).