The silent films of La Jolla Cinema League, screened with live music!

Saturday, May 25th at 3:00 p.m.  Seuss Room, Geisel Library, UCSD. FREE!

The La Jolla Cinema League, a silent film club active in the 1920’s, was an amateur group with professional standards. League members wrote their own screenplays and produced, directed, shot, developed and edited films with their own equipment.

Familiar landscapes and landmarks in these movies will surprise you: a handsome early campus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, elegant newly-built Irving Gill architecture, ocean vistas –and acting from local residents of the day!

A small exhibit about La Jolla Cinema League is on display on the lower level, West wing of UC San Diego’s Geisel Library through June 15th.

(Here is a link to a digitized version of a 1929 issue of the official magazine of THE AMATEUR CINEMA LEAGUE….which shows the kind of guidance that club provided to its members)

A free screening of the films of LJCL with live music from UC San Diego alumnus Scott Paulson and his silent film band takes place Saturday, May 25th at 3:00 p.m. in the Seuss Room of Geisel Library.

La Jolla Light Article on event and exhibit. or (858) 822-5758 or


The Kazoo: More than Just an Annoying Party Favor

Kazoo exhibit from January 2-30, 2013, at UC San Diego’s Geisel Library (a very Seuss-ian thing to do.)
and a live event at the exhibit on National Kazoo Day! (Jan. 28 at noon—hear new chamber works for kazoo!)

Free exhibit; free event; free kazoo!

“The Kazoo: More than Just an Annoying Party Favor”
This exhibit will showcase the kazoo’s African and African-American roots, plot its place in Americana, reveal its role in the early jazz age, catalog its classical repertoire, and peek at its popular music successes. A collection of intriguing kazoos will be on display.

Some surprising kazoo facts will be explored further at the exhibit:
Speech therapists have had considerable success using the kazoo as a therapy tool.
Richard Wagner, Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives, Paul McCartney, and other musical luminaries have used the kazoo in composition, performance, and recording. An exhibit bonus: the physics behind how the kazoo works will be revealed!

Exhibit runs January 2 through January 30, 2013 on the lower level, West wing of Geisel Library at UC San Diego. For more information: or (858) 822-5758

AND ON Monday, January 28, 2013 at 12:00 noon we’ll have a NATIONAL KAZOO DAY EVENT!
All library visitors on National Kazoo Day will get a free kazoo! We’ll survey the kazoo’s greatest hits and premiere some new chamber works for kazoo. Hosted by Scott Paulson, outreach coordinator of the Arts Library at UC San Diego.

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Annual Turkey Calling Show!

Wednesday, November 21 at noon in the Seuss Room of Geisel Library, UC San Diego. Free! (Info:  (858) 822-5758,

This annual Turkey Calling Show takes place the day before Thanksgiving and is presented in the style of an old-time live radio broadcast. In this fast-paced show: get instruction on how to use turkey calls and find out how the American turkey became popular in European art. Special note: with all due respect to the East Coast turkey, visit us at this show and find out why the West Coast turkey rules!

Hosted by sound effects expert Scott Paulson (leader of the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra and the Outreach Coordinator of the UC San Diego Arts Library).

Special guests include: Melanie Peters (story lady) and Aislinn Sotelo (appearing as “radio ballet teacher”). Also featuring: Glenn Motil & Christian Hertzog As always, the house band is: The Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra.



































”Classically trained and charmingly twisted” (San Diego CityBeat) ”Paulson’s brand of G-rated fun, a sort of modern day morphing of Captain Kangaroo and Spike Jones, is always lively and at times wonderfully chaotic.” (LA Times) ”Weird and wonderful” (San Diego CityBeat) ”An out-of-the-ordinary cinematic experience.” (LA Times) ”The assorted keyboards of Paulson’s Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra provide a rich aural tapestry.”(San Diego Union-Tribune) ”Unique and popular…Scott Paulson’s merry band of eccentric nightingales is an inspired notion.” (SD Union Tribune) ”This madcap ensemble is reinventing an art form.” (LA Times) ”Madcap and somewhat in the Spike Jones/Dadaist tradition.” (Union Tribune)

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Late-night Halloween horror film!


October 31, 10:00 p.m.
Seuss Room, Geisel Library, UC San Diego
Local premiere of a black & white horror movie from Midwest-based filmmaker Christopher Mihm, “House of Ghosts.”

Info: or (858) 822-5758

Special features of this screening:
Audience will assist with live over-scoring, providing additional horror sounds: play on a real Theremin, if you dare! Also: coax some spooky sounds from ritual percussion instruments and orchestral oddities such as the thunder sheet, flex-a-tone, vibra-slap, waterphone, etc.
This film will be screened in Esperanto! (A frighteningly good linguistic educational opportunity.)
Also, celebrating some of the gimmicks of 1950’s era spooky movies, “horror guards” will be issued for those too squeamish to watch every frame of the film. These horror guards may be placed in front of ones eyes for protection, at your discretion.

About the filmmaker:
Christopher R. Mihm is the writer, director, and producer of feature-length black-and-white films, inspired by 1950’s icons such as William Castle and drive-in
cinema. More information about the “Mihmiverse” of Christopher Mihm’s films is available at:

Your host at this screening is Scott Paulson, outreach coordinator at the UC San Diego Arts Library and director of the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra, who is leading the audience in the live over-scoring of the film, utilizing a collection of Theremins, ritual percussion instruments and orchestral oddities.

12th Annual Toy Piano Festival!

A family friendly free show! Come early, or else you’ll end up sitting on the floor (the toy piano performers have to sit on the floor, though, so you’ll be in good company!) Hope to see you at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 for the Twelfth Annual Toy Piano Festival!

Serious music for toy piano?
The first composer to write a “serious” piece for toy piano was American composer John Cage. His Suite for Toy Piano, written in 1948, uses nine consecutive white notes of a piano keyboard. This is significant because some toy pianos only have white notes (the black notes are sometimes merely painted on as a reference point so that players will know where “C” and all the other notes are.) Composer George Crumb used toy piano to great effect in his chamber music piece Ancient Voices of Children (1970). The score of this piece even shows a diagram of where to place the toy piano on stage.

Here in San Diego, toy pianos are celebrated with great fanfare in the month of September (because John Cage’s birthday is September 5!!) at UC San D’iego’s Geisel Library. It is there that Scott Paulson and his colleagues at the UCSD Arts Library host an annual toy piano festival. Composers visit the Library and pick a specific toy piano from the collection, and a piece is written specially for that instrument. Some toy pianos only have nine notes, some three octaves—so each piece has its own special charm and special limitations.

The Toy Piano Collection at Geisel Library consists of actual instruments, recordings, extant literature and commissioned scores. In 2001, because of the Toy Piano Collection’s activities, the Library of Congress issued a special call number and subject heading for Toy Piano Scores: M 175 T69

UCSD has a history with toy pianos that pre-dates the annual toy piano festival. Composer Robert Erickson, a founder of UCSD’s Music Department wrote a piece for toy pianos and bells that was premiered on California’s PBS television stations in 1966, just months before Erickson’s arrival at UCSD.

Featured: new works from local composers, a work from John Cage and songs from The Cat in the Hat Songbook.

Performers and composers this year include: Sue Palmer (the Queen of Boogie Woogie!) Ryoko Amadee Goguen, Christian Hertzog, Kenneth Herman, Gail Gipson, Ellen Lawson, Dana Mambourg Zimbric & of course, Scott Paulson!

The Arts Library Presents a Steampunk Tea

Victorian time travelers are invited to visit the UC San Diego Library, at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, August 25th in the climate controlled comforts of the mother ship Geisel Library on the campus of UC San Diego.

Enjoy light refreshments with fellow futurists, explorers and adventurers and attend Anastasia Hunter’s survey of steampunk literature (from Jules Verne onwards).

on display at the tea: Examples of Victorian era entertainments such as magic lanterns, paper theatres and paper optical toys. Critique a scale-model paper theatre version of Jules Verne’s “Journey Through the Impossible”  and drop in for screenings of steampunk-friendly films in our high-def viewing rooms.

Attention new visitors: steampunk literature re-imagines the Victorian era with a sci-fi aesthetic in a steam-powered, gaslight world filled with wind-up gadgets and clockwork technology.

About our guest speaker:
Anastasia Hunter, Director of Programming for the  Gaslight Gathering, San Diego’s premier steampunk convention, will speak about the history of steampunk literature, from its inception in the 19th Century with the works of Victor Hugo and Jules Verne, to the 1980’s when the term “steampunk” was first coined. Ms. Hunter will also survey more recent examples of the genre from authors such as Scott Westerfeld and Cherie Priest. Anastasia’s presentation will highlight the use of steampunk as an inspiration for journeys of discovery both real and imaginary.

This event is free and open to the public. Parking is free that day, as well.
For more information, contact Scott Paulson at or call (858) 822-5758, or visit

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Stylophone: The Greatest Little [Musical] Instrument of the [Last] Century? *

The UCSD Arts Library presents an exhibit** of Stylophones on the lower level, West wing of Geisel Library at UCSD. Exhibit opens March 28th and closes April 30.

Opening event: Wednesday, March 28th at 12:30 p.m. features a premiere of new works for Stylophone by composer Pea Hicks. Additional event: Sunday, April 15th, 2:30 p.m., features a premiere of a new work for multiple Stylophones by composer Scott Paulson.

About the Stylophone:

In 2002, David Bowie made a surprising Stylophone confession: “It’s the only instrument I take on holiday with me to compose on.” In fact, David Bowie’s 1969 album “Space Oddity” was composed entirely on a Stylophone. The small British company that manufactured the instrument (Dubreq) was surprised to hear this news, as they had invented and marketed the instrument merely as a musical toy.

Invented in 1967. the Stylophone is a pocket electronic musical synthesizer. Originally invented by Brian Jarvis as a toy and made available to the general public in 1968, the little instrument was presented as a novelty electronic organ with an iconic transistor radio look… Read more…

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National Kazoo Day!

You missed it! (That’s okay, I did too.) But the Arts Library didn’t!

From the Huffington Post Online:

Jan. 28 is celebrated as National Kazoo Day,a day when, according to organizers, Americans are supposed to take time to recognize the kazoo, that musical instrument that takes only a minute to master for a lifetime to annoy.

But while the kazoo can be irritating when played by a hyperactive 5-year-old, it is a legitimate musical instrument, according to Scott Paulson, who uses kazoos to help provide soundtracks at silent movie screenings.

“It can be annoying, but it can be a delightful instrument,” Paulson told HuffPost Weird News. “It’s known mostly as a child’s toy, but it has a history of being a ritual instrument in Africa.”

Paulson says those early kazoos were used in rituals where the natives would disguise their voices using an animal horn and the membrane from spider eggs.

“It’s basically a mask of the voice,” he said.

Legend has it that the modern kazoo was invented in 1850 by former slave Alabama Vest of Macon, Ga., who devised the plans and than had it built by clockmaker Thaddeus von Clegg, a German immigrant. It was introduced two years later at the 1852 Georgia State Fair, but the familiar sub shape wasn’t created until 1902.

Click here for more video and to read the entire article!!

The Lost Art of Letters

UCSD Arts Library Exhibit: The Lost Art of Letters
January 8 through January 27, 2012

This exhibit provides an opportunity for visitors to browse Library books on the topic of penmanship and cursive writing. Visitors will also browse literature outlining the etiquette of letter-writing (particularly ”thank-you” notes.)

While supplies last, visitors are encouraged to write a letter at the exhibit site using stationery and pens provided.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 3:00 p.m., a free, live event is hosted at the exhibit site: a penmanship expert, local educator Sylvia Rubin, will give quick pointers on how to improve your handwriting. Under this supportive supervision, and with stationery and pens provided by the UCSD Arts Library, visitors will write a neat, tidy letter on-the-spot. At the writer’s request, the UCSD Arts Library will have that very letter delivered to the addressee via the U.S. Postal Service.

Exhibit & event: Lower level, West wing, Geisel Library, UCSD
More information: (858) 822-5758 or or

or of course, you could send us a letter at :

UCSD Arts Library
9500 Gilman Drive 0175Q
La Jolla, CA 92093

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The Magic Lantern: Early Window to Africa & the African Diaspora

February Exhibit:

The UCSD Arts Library and AAASRC present a magic lantern exhibit showing views of Africa and relaying the African Diaspora. This small exhibit of early magic lanterns, along with some surprising magic lantern slides of Africa, is supplemented with Library materials about the African Diaspora and celebrates the role the magic lantern had in raising awareness of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Perhaps the earliest views Americans saw of Africa came in the form of magic lantern shows (hand-painted glass slides that were used in early gas-lamp-powered projectors). Magic lantern shows relayed news and views of far-away places pre-dating still photography and moving pictures. Even as early as the 1600’s and 1700’s, lively magic lantern shows employed early animation techniques, narration and live music to show the culture of other continents. As early photographic technology grew, the magic lantern’s glass slides became even more valuable in relaying worldly experiences: some of the earliest photographs of Africa were shown to Americans through a magic lantern via glass slides.

This is a collaborative exhibit for Black History Month from the UCSD Arts Library and the African & African-American Studies Research Center. With an opening reception at the exhibit site at 3:00 p.m. on February 1, 2012, hosted by the UCSD Arts Library and AAASRC.



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