Tag Archives: San Francisco

Clusterfest Comedy Festival 2018

17 Jun

Time for Clusterfest again! Unlike last time though, they didn’t release the line-up in advance, so we made a leap of faith based on the strength of last year.

Ehhh …

The line-up wasn’t as good as last year and also they changed the seating so that VIP was way better than General Admission. Last year anyone could get to the seats at the main stage but this year they were only for VIP, resulting in this for Third Eye Blind on Friday:
IMG_20180601_183230 (1)(James and I were standing in the front row right behind the barriers).

We could see organisers with walkie-talkies (walkies-talkie?) trying to figure out how to fix the situation – because they wanted to let some regular people in to fill the seats and make it look less awful, but a VIP ticket guaranteed a seat, so they couldn’t let in too many non-VIPs.

Luckily James and I were part of the batch they let in!
IMG_20180601_215850Unluckily though, non VIPs didn’t have in/out privileges, so we made the decision to skip John Mulaney since we’d seen his show earlier this year, and stay for the Daily Show Correspondents set and Trevor Noah so we would have seats for The Lonely Island.

I heard John Mulaney was really good, but we were happy we got to see The Lonely Island because they were fantastic. =)

On Saturday we repeated our “get there earlier and camp Bill Graham Auditorium” strategy from last year to see “Drunk History and Friends” with Kyle Mooney, and a comedic set with Jim Jefferies. We had to leave to get tickets for Middleditch & Schwartz, which was an improv act by Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Rec).
IMG_20180617_093240The whole ticket situation was stupid. It was held in a tiny venue relative to the demand, so the line for tickets started two hours earlier instead of one hour earlier like all the other acts (which was confusing because there were two long lines at the ticket booth – one for the act beforehand and the other for Middleditch & Schwartz).

Then at the venue there were three lines – a line for VIPs with tickets, one for GA with tickets and a standby line for everyone without tickets. There were a lot of people in the wrong group, who were then really upset when they had to go to the back of the other line.
IMG_20180602_182214This photo doesn’t really convey how massive the line was, but the people on the right are in the ticket line and the people on the left are in the standby line. About half an hour before the show the standby line extended another hundred meters.

It was totally worth it though, because the show was hilarious. The absolute highlight of the festival for me. =)

After the show we went back into the auditorium to see a set with Michael Che, then explored some Daily Show exhibit of Trump’s tweets. (Oh yeah, and earlier when I was waiting for James to go to the bathroom, Jim Jefferies walked past me!)

But anyway, here is James sending out his own tweet:
IMG_20180602_214851When Australia sends its people, they’re not sending their best.
IMG_20180602_215218Afterwards we went outside to sit on the grass for Amy Schumer – neither of us find her very funny, so we were OK with missing the start of her set. And her set was awful – she pretty much just re-did her SNL monologue from a week ago. We were at a comedy festival – did she think the people there didn’t watch SNL? She also finished half an hour early, possibly because she was bombing so hard. So yeah, that was pretty shit.

On Sunday the festival cancelled the one thing I’d been looking forward to – the screening of Arrested Development with David Cross, Tony Hale (and, for some reason, also Kyle Mooney). =(
IMG_20180602_131814Instead we watched an interview with Jon Stewart, and a live read of Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Thomas, Middleditch, Ben Schwartz, David Cross, and Sasheer Zamata.
IMG_20180603_171134Then afterwards, a comedy set with David Cross (who was really, really unfunny).

In the evening we sat on the lawn to watch Jon Stewart’s set. It was OK but I think he is more clever/thoughtful than funny. A lot of people we talked to absolutely love him – hey, guy who told me to imagine my favourite comedian, then double it and double it again? YOU WERE SO INCORRECT.

Overall I think this year was very heavy on the political material, and not nearly as funny as last year. Last year the headliners were better and the undercard was heaps better – we laughed non-stop last year and this year there were multiple comedians I didn’t even crack a smile for, and (aside from Middleditch & Schwartz) even the better ones I just laughed once or twice.

James and I still had a good time, but agreed that we would wait for the line-up next year.

Advertisements

A Cocktail Making Class!

10 Jun

Last month James and I did a cocktail making class with some friends of ours. Here we are before the class, all chipper and eager to learn:
IMG_20180519_120107

We did the Introduction to Mixology class here – it was a two hour class with maybe 10-15 participants. We learned about the history of cocktails, and how to balance sweet/bitter/sour in drinks (with little educational taste tests along the way).

About to learn about gimlets!
IMG_20180519_132214We also learned about all the different barware, and James was so inspired that he came home and ordered a Boston shaker, cocktail strainer, jigger, mixing glass, bar spoon and ice cube tray (apparently our tray doesn’t make the correct sized cubes).

Then at the end of the class everyone got to make their own cocktails. Here is James putting the finishing touches on his drink (a sazerac):
IMG_20180519_140040And me!Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20180519141420Looking back on that gif I’m so embarrassed by the large amount of booze that doesn’t make it into the drink. At the time I thought I’d done well.

Also that was not my biggest drink malfunction of the afternoon:
Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20180519141307I did better the second time, but apparently that attempt wasn’t caught on camera.

James and I thought the class would largely be theory based, and didn’t realise the … er, samples would be so generous. We didn’t have breakfast and, not going to lie, we got absolutely tanked.
IMG_20180519_141717James signed up for the more advanced course in August. It’s 6 hours long!! He asked a friend of his from NY if he wanted to do it with him and his friend was like “I’m offended you even had to ask”.

After the class we walked to Chinatown and had some cheap Chinese food, played board games, then napped drunkenly. It was a lovely afternoon. =)

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!
IMG_20170811_144924
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
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 2.58.30 PM (1)
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!

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:
IMG_20170602_173546

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).
IMG_20170318_174047
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. =)