Tag Archives: San Francisco

Outside Lands 10th Anniversary

22 Aug

James went to Outside Lands last year as part of a team bonding trip, but this year was my first time. Festivals aren’t normally my thing – I prefer sitting down at a concert and I hate how pushy people can get – but how can you live in San Francisco and not go to Outside Lands at least once?

Obligatory windmill pic!
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On Friday I was mainly interested in Gorillaz so was happy just to follow James, who had a full schedule of who he wanted to see. It was really chill for the earlier acts – at Grace Mitchell we got really close and still had a decent amount of personal space – but in the afternoon it got more crowded.

We were in a reasonably good spot for Gorillaz, they brought out a shit ton of guests, and they played almost everything I wanted. =)

Saturday was James’ big day. He wanted to see Royal Blood, Cage the Elephant and Metallica, who were performing one after the other on the main stage. Our starting position was better than our Gorillaz spot the other night, and as people left for other acts we kept moving up. We got pretty close!
00002IMG_00002_BURST20170812185149_COVERKyle and Ximena got to Outside Lands partway through Cage the Elephant, but by that time there was no way they were going to be able to get to us. One guy who had left and then re-joined his friends said that when he was trying to get back, someone grabbed him by the neck to prevent him from moving forward. People were getting very territorial – I saw one girl yelling at a group of people who had sat down between acts (she thought they were taking up too much room).

This was the crowd about 30 minutes before Metallica, going as far back as the eye could see:
IMG_20170812_193006Our patch of the crowd was great, but a couple of songs into the set some insane hobo-looking guys violently shoved their way to the front. Everyone hated them and I was a bit scared that a fight would break out – James said the guy next to him said if something happened he had his back!

A side benefit was that I was shoved so aggressively that I went from 4th row to 2nd – which doesn’t sound that impressive, but was actually insane because people weren’t moving for anyone. And instead of them hating me (neck grab-ee, never forget!) I had several people ask if I was OK. =)
00000IMG_00000_BURST20170812213422_COVERThis was James’ third (maybe fourth?) Metallica concert and the closest he’s gotten by far. He was so happy!

His childhood idol:
IMG_20170812_211741(James: #noscope)

You know you’re close when they’re larger in real life than on the giant screen!
IMG_20170812_220614After the concert Metallica threw some guitar picks out to the crowd and I managed to grab one. When I made my way back to James he said he wanted to scavenge for a pick that might have fallen on the ground (along with pretty much everyone else in the first ten rows). Then when I handed it to him, he just lit up with happiness. =D
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It is now living in a fancy display case as a cool souvenir of that night. =)

On Sunday we were pretty tired and there weren’t any acts that James was super excited about, so we sat far away from the action. It was very much needed after the intense Metallica crowd! Though also, being so close made me regret we weren’t at Gorillaz earlier to get a great spot – though then we would have missed out on a couple of acts James wanted to see. Decisions, decisions.

So that was our Outside Lands. I still really hate crowds, but I think it was worth braving them for this experience. I haven’t decided if I want to go next year though – maybe, depending on the line-up. We’ll see!

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Comedy Clusterfest!

30 Jun

This was the inaugural year of Comedy Clusterfest, a 3 (well, 2.5) day, partially-outdoor comedy festival in San Francisco. The headliners were Kevin Hart (Friday), Bill Burr (Saturday), and Jerry Seinfeld (Sunday), as well as other well-known comedians like Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silveman, Fred Armisen, T.J. Miller and Pete Davidson.

James and I got early bird tickets for $200 each – expensive, but pretty good value given how many shows we saw. We saw all the headliners, discovered a lot of new comedians, got some swag, and overall had a great time.

There was an outdoors South Park exhibit you could take photos in:
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And a real life Paddy’s Pub (where you could order Milk Steak and Rum Ham):
IMG_20170602_173914The only thing we didn’t get to see was the Seinfeld replica apartment, which looked really cool but had lines of 1.5-2 hours.

We mainly stuck to the Bill Graham auditorium, which had back to back comedy sets all weekend and was the best place to camp out if you wanted to enjoy yourself without having to wait in line all day. Here are the seats we got on Friday.
IMG_20170602_174950People had cottoned onto the Bill Graham strategy by the second day, so our seats were not quite as awesome (though still pretty good – front row mezzanine). The auditorium was packed all Saturday and Sunday – standing room only for Tig Notaro and Hannibal Buress.
IMG_20170603_150923We also discovered the Papa Johns Mystery Box game, where you chose a door to win random prizes, the best ones being $5-10 vouchers you could spend on food and drinks at the festival.
IMG_20170603_184931There was a guy inside manually dropping prizes in the compartments. When it was my turn he dangled a souvenir Clusterfest tote bag in front of me, then dropped two $5 vouchers instead.

Papa Johns Box Guy: There you go! That’s a better prize isn’t it?
Me: Actually, I would take the bag …
Papa Johns Box Guy: Oh. Well you can have the bag as well then.

=D

Between us, James and I got $25 or $30 in vouchers, so that was really cool. =) We gave one to Patrick (who only got $5, so James felt obliged to share the wealth) and spent the rest on a coffee for James and booze the next day.

The evening headliners were all outside at the Colossal Stage, which was a bit of a problem because it was super cold every night – pretty much all the comedians complained about it.

The second night for Bill Burr, our group split up with some of us standing further away and James, Patrick and I braving the crush nearer the stage. It was a pretty stressful experience getting jostled around and we were debating whether to head back to our friends when one of the event organisers started randomly picking people from the crowd to sit in the chairs up front.
IMG_20170603_230239The three of us could not stop grinning afterwards. =D OMG it was such a better view and experience in the seats.

We were pretty lucky overall that weekend, and got good seats for all the shows we were interested in. Including second row centre seats for the packed Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld Q&A on Sunday (the highlight of the festival for me). Which also ended up being second row centre seats for the Hannibal Buress set that made James double over and tear up from laughing so hard. And second row centre seats for watching Pete Davidson absolutely bomb when he repeated a set he’d done the previous day.

Sorry it’s super blurry, but right after James took the photo they started clamping down hard on photos so we didn’t get a chance to re-take it.
IMG_20170604_142153(Margarita courtesy of Papa John’s)

We also got coveted seats for the Seinfeld evening show at the Colossal Stage, but that one was a huge mess. The organisers fucked up and wouldn’t let in the people who had lined up because they weren’t clearing out the people who were already there for the previous act (which was protocol every other night and the festival’s official policy). Instead they let in a bunch of randoms who lied and said that they already had seats. I know they lied because people at festivals always lie, and also because after 50 people blew by us, James went up and they let him go through (and the organiser was like “yeah I remember you”). =/

So James and I ended up getting seats for Seinfeld, but it was bittersweet because our friends didn’t get in. =( Seinfeld was really funny – it was really impressive seeing him live, especially after hearing him talk about the craft of comedy at the Q&A earlier that day.

There are definitely some kinks to iron out, but we had a blast at the festival. If they do it next year with a similarly stacked lineup I would totally go again. I would also bring a much thicker jacket or a blanket for the evening show because brrr.

Behold … the Corpse Flower!

20 Jun

So the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers has a Titan Arum (known as the Corpse Flower because it smells like rotting flesh when it blooms). The bloom happens every 3-10 years for a couple of days at a time, and last week was its time to shine stink.

It bloomed Thursday, and we went Friday around 6:45pm. This was the line outside to buy tickets:
IMG_20170616_191007It took maybe 20-30 minutes to get to the front counter, and inside there was another line that took maybe 40-60 minutes. By the time we left around 8pm, the outside ticket line was three times as long.

The guy that worked there told us the smell had peaked Thursday night while the conservatory was closed. Even a day later you could see the flower starting to shut:
IMG_20170616_200046Where we took the photo was the place you could smell it the best. I don’t know what rotting flesh smells like, but this smelled like a bag of garbage left in the sun. Apparently at peak bloom you could smell it throughout the greenhouse.
IMG_20170616_200835Even though we didn’t get to see the corpse flower at its stinky bloomiest, it was really cool. I’m glad we got to see it – ticket sales closed at 8:30pm so I’m pretty sure a lot of the people who were in line outside wouldn’t have been able to get in.

We spent 20x longer waiting in line than we did actually looking at the flower, but I guess it’s a fair trade seeing that it took 10 years to bloom. =)

 

Ocean Beach Fire Pits

15 May

Just before we left for Disney (a whole bunch of posts about that coming soon!) we hung out with some friends at Ocean Beach. There are 16 fire pits and apparently they go pretty quickly – Patrick showed up at 2pm to claim one and said they were all gone within half an hour.

James and I rocked up around 2:30pm to keep him company. It was an intermittently overcast day and for awhile the clouds made this cool shape.
IMG_20170422_150443As we waited, people kept walking around and eyeing the pits hopefully – maybe 4 or 5 groups came up to us to ask if we were going to use the one we were sitting around. So yeah, arrive at/before 2pm if you want one. Probably even earlier during summer – an article I read recommended 11am!

The Safeway near Ocean Beach sells firewood and we used 3 boxes, plus a whole bunch of firewood scavenged from old illegal fires that people had made in the sand.

We were by far the least prepared group on the beach. Everyone else had chairs, tents and food. The group next to us were chopping vegetables, making salads and had brought a portable Weber to grill. We … we had to ask to borrow their lighter to start our fire.

Here is a photo of our initial attempts (in the background you can see the superior group).
IMG_20170422_170609Success!
IMG_20170422_172026 For a long time it was just the kindling that burned and we couldn’t get the logs to catch. We babied that fire like crazy to make sure it didn’t go out. I was pretty proud of us for not using lighter fluid like most of the other groups. Look at our magnificent fire!
IMG_20170422_175421We didn’t bring a corkscrew, so James hacked at the wine cork with his leatherman to mixed results.IMG_20170422_173317When Patrick’s girlfriend arrived she brought a dog that she was dogsitting (apparently it was half coyote?). James was instantly overjoyed by the dog but the dog didn’t quite know what to make of James.
IMG_20170422_195552It got cold very quickly once the sun went down. I was wearing a fleece jacket and regretted not bringing an additional layer. The (magnificent) fire helped but I was definitely on the chillier side of comfortable.

Patrick’s girlfriend also brought ingredients for s’mores. What a champion! Yes, until she arrived we didn’t have s’mores ingredients. I told you we were unprepared. Here is the exhaustive list of the things we brought:

  • football
  • guitar
  • Jelly Bellies
  • Malteasers
  • Funions
  • almonds
  • wine-with-no-corkscrew
  • beer
  • cider
  • wood-with-no-lighter
  • supermarket sushi for one

We made it work, but as you can imagine the s’mores were very well-received.
IMG_20170422_202903 (1)The lighter embers from the fire kept getting blown out by the wind. They look like yellow streaks in the photos which I think is pretty cool.
IMG_20170422_202323So yeah, that was a fun evening. =) Until the next day when we woke up and realised that all our clothes smelled like smoke and there was sand everywhere. Ah well, such is (fire pit) life.

A Pre-Birthday Celebration: Liholiho Yacht Club and Into the Woods

13 Apr

The Saturday before my birthday James and I had a fancy(ish) night out. I’d gotten rush tickets for Into the Woods that morning, so it was a bit of a last minute decision to move my birthday celebration a couple of days earlier.

We started with dinner/drinks at Liholiho Yacht Club – an upscale Hawaiian restaurant in Nob Hill. We arrived about 10 minutes before it opened and the line was already around 20 people long. Luckily we were among the last people who were able to get a seat at the bar.

I should have taken a photo because the restaurant interior was gorgeous (and super spacious!). Have some entrance floor tiles instead.
IMG_20170318_190135We only saw them on the way out, and James sagely (and somewhat drunkenly) said “it means hello and goodbye”. Thanks James, for that piece of information that LITERALLY EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS.

We ordered a couple of cocktails before dinner (and then during dinner). Unfortunately a lot of them were rum-based, which James is historically not a fan of. I liked them though! No photos, but my favourite was the Coconut Telegraph ($13).

We started off with the Tuna Poke ($17.50). It was small but delicious.IMG_20170318_173230Poke seems to be everywhere these days.

Anyway, next we had fried oysters and beef carpaccio ($14.25).
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Then some duck liver toast with jalapeno and pickled pineapples ($11). IMG_20170318_174622
I was worried James wouldn’t like it because he doesn’t really like pineapples but he did!

Beef tongue in a poppy seed bun ($14)
IMG_20170318_173801Our main (to share) was grilled shortribs ($42.75)
IMG_20170318_180036The marrow was amazing – it was very cheesy but lactose-intolerant James had a bite anyway and started laughing because of how incredibly full of cheese it was. I had major food envy when I saw the rib-eye that the couple next to us had ordered – maybe next time!

James wasn’t quite full yet so he ordered some sashimi ($17.50).
IMG_20170318_182102 (1)And I had dessert (that James couldn’t share because of the ice cream). It was a Baked Hawaii ($11).
IMG_20170318_183450Isn’t it pretty? It looked like a little beehive. =) It was so densely packed with ice cream that it tipped me from “pleasantly” into “roll me out the door” full. No regrets.

Afterwards we made our way to the theatre to see Into the Woods. The seats were pretty good – here was our view:
IMG_20170318_193845

We both enjoyed it but felt the second half dragged a bit. It was supposed to be a stripped down/minimalist production but the concept was more clever than effective I think.

We were both super exhausted afterwards (because we’re both so very old now), got a car home, and pretty much went straight to bed. It was fun to do a full night out – dinner, drinks and a show to herald in my 34th. =)

Hamilton!!

16 Mar

Like much of the US I’ve been obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack. And also like much of the US I’ve been unable to see the Broadway show because tickets are freaking impossible to get.

I was briefly excited to find out that Hamilton was coming to San Francisco (from March until early August) but almost all the (regularly priced?) tickets sold out to theatre members before they were released to the public. Our friend’s girlfriend actually became a member just so she would have guaranteed early access to Hamilton tickets.

The venue released some $850+ premium tickets, but ugh. I didn’t want to pay that when we’d paid $200 for similar seats for Book of Mormon and Jersey Boys.

Not really expecting much, I entered the Hamilton lottery … and won it on my second try! When I collected our tickets the guy at the box office told me that over 27k people had entered! James called me his lucky cricket. =)

(He actually calls me that more than you might assume)

IMG_20170312_130222Yes, tickets were $10! Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 note – that’s why it says Ham4Ham. I saw on the venue website that shitty partial-view seats  were $200 (I checked out the vantage point after the show – those seats were terrible) so this was an absolute bargain.

We arrived early to take in the atmosphere and take photos outside. (It was sunny and 24C that day – James said he had intense jacket regret).
IMG_20170312_120152This spot on Market street was in great demand for photo taking (also note James’ lack of jacket in this later photo).
IMG_20170312_121017It was at the Orpheum Theatre, which isn’t too far from our place. You can kind of get an idea of the crowd about 30 minutes before the show.
Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20170312120722And here was our view!
IMG_20170312_124054I think the best seats would probably be 10-15 rows back. But for $10 I had been expecting the aforementioned shitty, partial-view seats, so the seats we got – 2nd row and right in the middle – were amazing and far exceeded my expectations.

It was interesting being up close. You could see the performers sweating and, at the emotional parts you could see the tears in their eyes. I didn’t realise that the singers wear microphones – I’d always assumed they were just amazing at projecting their voices!

This was part of the orchestra pit – I’ve never thought to look in before and it was really cool.
IMG_20170312_125509The performance was sooo much better than just listening to the soundtrack. Honestly, if I’d bought the $850 tickets I don’t think I would have been disappointed. The choreography added so much to the music, and I was enthralled during songs I know word for word. During Satisfied I think my mouth was open the whole time. I’ve seen a fair few Broadway musicals and this blew them all away.

The stage had a giant lazy susan that they used a lot during the songs. James and I had both thought the performers were just really good at walking on the spot.
IMG_20170312_144444The atmosphere was really great – everyone there was obviously a huge fan, and we were all so excited to be there. Every song got huge cheers (except It’s Quiet Uptown but I think that’s because everyone was too busy crying to cheer).

It was such a memorable show. It was sad, funny, witty, wise – just an incredible performance and I feel so fortunate we were able to experience it. Best $20 I ever spent!

Google Christmas Party 2016

31 Dec

The holiday party this year was Peter Pan themed. Weird, but it could have been weirder I guess – Anne Marie’s party theme was Mythbusters!

It was in the same location as last year (though no oyster bar, boooo!) and everyone agreed that this year seemed much more crowded. The food and bar lines moved quite quickly though, so it wasn’t inconvenient – just busy.

Helen got there right as it started so was able to take this photo with almost nobody in it:

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photo stolen from Helen

As usual the party had casino games, cigars, bourbon tasting, various food stalls, wandering entertainers and foosball/ping pong/shuffleboard games.

The new stuff they had included a room of giant teddy bears to chillax in, a lovely lady with a snake and caricatures (apparently the line was crazy long so we didn’t bother).

The food and booze were much better this year! I did miss the oyster bar, but the sushi bar helped make up for it.
IMG_20161217_202123(Wow, red-eye – haven’t seen that in awhile!)

The sushi bar only provided teeny tiny plates but we used larger ones from one of the other food stands – people kept coming up to us and asking where we’d gotten them from.

The evening’s signature cocktails (though they could make other stuff if you wanted):
IMG_20161217_194701I also met James’ manager. He was very nice and introduced James to his wife as “the guy whose coattails I’m going to ride to get promoted”. =D

This snake was called Lola and she was my favourite part of the entire night:
IMG_20161217_215513She was so docile (which apparently they are bred for) and her scales were surprisingly moist. And here we are with her handler:
IMG_20161217_213905 (1)There was a big pirate ship in the middle of the hall, with lots of comfy seating next to it:
IMG_20161217_223855Which I didn’t need because I swapped to ballet flats about 3/4 of the way in.

There were the customary photo booths. This one took three photos in quick succession:
Google Holiday Party 2016 with Nick and KellyLook at that expert prop exchange. It took a lot of planning.

And here we are in the giant pile of teddy bears at the end of the night. It was hard to get too comfy in them because I saw a guy leap into the bears, and as he did, a huge layer of dust went up in the air like a mushroom cloud.

IMG_0384 (2)

photo stolen from Alex

We caught up with friends, ate and drank in moderation like responsible adults, and had a really great night. =)