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Berkeley Wedding Photographer | SSquared Day 2

Only self professed nerds would hire a professional trivia company for their wedding festivities and force their family and friends to play.  Reluctant at first, the motley crew of folks broke into teams and before long were arguing over answers with conviction, jeering at their competition and cheering at personal victories.  If I ever have a not-wedding, I’m totally having a trivia night.  #stealingthis

The 2nd night of festivities for SSquared’s weekend extravaganza featured an unbelievable meal at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, which took me right back to my favorite city in the world.  I was overjoyed to see they had Abita Amber!  Even better, each of the tables in the venue that evening where named after some of my favorite author’s and each place setting came with a bookmark.

The evening was filled with laughter, hilarious #hashtag themed toasts and ridiculous amounts of fun.

Venue and Catering: Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen | Trivia Gurus: Brainstormer Pub Quiz

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Live at Lakeview: Week 6 Wrap-Up

Live at Lakeview: Week 6

Art Brown of the Polyrhythmics at Live at Lakeview.

After an unfortunate incident with their van caused the opening band at Week 6 of Live at Lakeview to miss their scheduled appearance, the Polyrhythmics took over, playing all afternoon with a super long 3 hours of music.  The crowd did not mind since their 8 member band served up a heaping blend of afro-beat, funk and brass.

If you missed the Polyrhythmics, be sure to check out their sounds online.  The band has been on an aggressive tour schedule this year and are set to hit Montana, Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming in the coming month alone.

A little one shows off her sweet dance moves in the sand of Lake Tahoe’s beaches at Live at Lakeview.

This week’s lineup of Live at Lakview brings you the latin fusion sounds of 40 Watt Hype, who blends hip hop, latin and and R&B into a musical experience that only California could birth.  They will be preceded by One Track Mind, a rock and roll cover band from Truckee.

Polyrhythmics get the crowd dancing in their extended set last week at Live at Lakeview on the shores of Lake Tahoe, a free community event.

Check out free music here in Tahoe South every Thursday from 4:30-8:30 PM at Lakeview Commons from June 20th-August 29th.  Please ride your bike and utilize the free bike valet or find plenty of parking at the SLT Parks and Recreation Department on Rufus Allen Blvd.  The proceeds of all sales of alcohol from the beer garden support the series and I encourage you to either imbibe in the garden or make a donation in one of the donation boxes around the Commons Area on the night you attend.  As always, Live at Lakeview is a free community event.  Please be aware of the following city ordinances in Lakeview Commons Park: no dogs, no outside alcohol and no smoking.

Can’t make the event?  Never fear!  Thanks to the support of Tahoe Production House and Stage It Live Video Cast, you can watch the live stream from home every Thursday night!  For more information on how to watch the live stream of the weekly Live at Lakeview Events, head to the official website.

You can see all the photos from weeks 1-5 at Live at Lakeview via this link.  You can find my weekly wrap ups, photos and previews of the next concert all summer long here and on Tahoe South.

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Plenty of boats line up every night to enjoy the festivities as well.

What you missed in this summer’s Live at Lakeview Series:

Week 1: 4 Piece Puzzle and Jelly Bread

Week 2: Tracorum and American Jubilee

Week 3: Naive Melodies and Ashley Kepler

Week 4: Lonesome Locomotive and Achilles Wheel

Week 5: Vokab Company Gets Rained Out

Best Music of 2012

I did just spend 21 days writing about Snowglobe Music Festival, but I’m nowhere near done talking about music.  Sorry.

Actually, I’m not.

The funny thing is, I was mostly underwhelmed by the offerings in the music world this year but, just at the last minute, I found a slew of new stuff that I fell in love with like Django Django, which is hands down, without question, my number one album of the year.  I have too hard of a time actually listing things in number, so a few years ago I started using my friend Jason’s REALLY AWESOME rating system, which is as follows:

Super awesome and by far my favorite
Django Django – Django Django
Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled with Light
The Jezabels – Prisoner
Jack White – Blunderbuss

Still pretty awesome
Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
Beach House – Bloom
Chromatics – Kill for Love
Grimes – Visions
Grizzly Bear – Shields
The Walkmen – Heaven
Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
Tame Impala – Lonerism

Snowglobe Music Fest, Snowglobe, Tahoe South

Poolside at Snowglobe Music Festival 2012

Kind of awesome
Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Gary Clark JR – Blak & Blu
The Lumineers – The Lumineers
Matt & Kim – Lightning
Miike Snow – Happy to You
Mumford & Sons – Babel
Poolside – Pacific Standard Time
The Shins – Port of Morrow
Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
Yeasayer – Fragrant World

Enjoyable for a listen, but otherwise just okay
The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
Big Boi – Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Here

Albums that music critics adore and I am totally not into, save a track or two here and there
Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Totally sucks and I wish I hadn’t wasted my time listening to it
Passion Pit – Gossamer
Muse – The 2nd Law

Albums that I haven’t listened to yet but everyone loves
David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant

previous best of lists
2011
2010
2009
2008

And, just for grins, here is the compiled list of all the “super awesome and by far my favorite” albums from the last five years. They are still in heavy rotation in my music library and showing no signs of letting me down.

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (2008)
Her Space Holiday – xoxo panda and the new kid revival (2008)
Hot Chip – Made in the Dark (2008)
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008)

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
The Dead Weather – Horehound (2009)
The Dodos – Time to Die (2009)
Miike Snow – Miike Snow (2009)
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)
Wilco – (The Album) (2009)

Arcade Fire – the Suburbs (2010)
Beach House – Teen Dream (2010)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010)
Hot Chip – One Life Stand (2010)
Kayne West – My Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (2010)
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (2010)
Sir Lucious Leftfoot – The Son of Chico Dusty (2010)
Vampire Weekend – Contra (2010)
Yeasayer – Odd Blood (2010)

Cults – Cults (2011)
Cut Copy – Zonoscope (2011)
Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials (2011)
M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming (2011)
Real Estate – Days (2011)
Wilco – The Whole Love (2011)

I’m leaving on Friday for Texas Fest in Steamboat, CO so I’ll have plenty more material to write about, albeit that of the crooning kind.

Harry Potter World!

When I realized, very late in the planning of our trip two days before we were set to leave that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was in Orlando and that I was flying through Orlando in order to get to Puerto Rico, I lost my mind, changed all my flights and arranged for us to have a day in Orlando to visit Universal Studios.

I completely forgot in the whirlwind of excitement that by changing my flights I’d be missing my Digital Photography II mid-term.

Dear Pat,

After realizing Tuesday night that I’m flying through Orlando and that it’s where HARRY POTTER WORLD IS! I changed all my flights, bought a hotel room for another night and tickets to go dress up in capes and play at Hogwarts Castle. I actually was so excited about visiting the three broomsticks and going to Hogwarts that I forgot that I’m supposed to be taking a mid-term on Monday. So, essentially, I can’t take the midterm because I’m going to be playing quidditch with Harry Potter. I don’t feel like you should make any special concessions for me, especially because it involves me being ridiculous and not something serious and I’m signed up p/np, so I can just retake the class again anyways, which is fine because I love it.

I might have to pack my death eater cape.

Thankfully my teacher not only apparently really likes me but also has a 13 year old daughter who is equally obsessed with the idea of Harry Potter World and she let me take my mid-term when we got home. Not that you care, but I got a 93.

Hysterically enough, thanks to the wonders of Priceline and the Name Your Own Price! game, I managed to score us a rental car for the day for $13 and a hotel room adjacent to the park at the Holiday Inn for $45 which, combined, is significantly less than one person’s admission into the park. Score.

Buddy and I flew into Orlando on Monday night very late and took a nice five hour nap before we were up and I was ready to go. I had been very concerned that we wouldn’t have enough time at Universal. I honestly had no idea what we were in for, but I imagined that it would entail very long lines. Our flight to San Juan left the Orlando airport at 7, which meant we’d be traveling to a very busy airport in potential rush hour traffic. I didn’t want to feel like I needed to return to Orlando to see this park, but I also didn’t want to miss our flights because we were standing in security too long. Basically, I was having anxiety over not getting my fill of Harry, Hermoine and Ron.

As it turns out, the opposite was the case.

In my fear, I only purchased us a single park pass for the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure instead of a dual park pass for both the Islands and Universal Studios Florida. I will give you a small travel tip for Universal Studios: Go on a TUESDAY in early May when school is in session and show up right at 9 AM. We saw the ENTIRE park and rode every roller coaster (some of them multiple times) by noon. In fact, the longest wait we had was 5 minutes. On every other ride, the amount of time you waited was how long it took you to walk from the entrance past all the empty cattle guides that people usually fill, all the way to the front of the ride. It was comically empty. It was awesome.

Hogwarts Castle and The Forbidden Journey!

When we arrived at the park we headed straight for Harry Potter World to ride the Forbidden Journey. Despite my eagerness to visit Harry Potter World, I had no idea what the Forbidden Journey entailed except that it involved quidditch. Essentially, it’s a combination of designed graphics and movie, along with animatronics that takes you on a whirl-wind stomach turning adventure. When we sat down in the chairs I turned to Buddy and said, “I have no idea what is about to happen!” “That makes two of us!”

Highlights of the park include: Dr. Suess Land, though designed for kids, absolutely hysterical. Thank god Buddy did not actually have any hallucinogens like he was joking he wanted while there because I would have spent all day trying to drag him with no success out of Dr. Suess Land. Another travel tip for Universal Studios: want to have a good time? Go with a bunch of adults on acid and have a party in Dr. Suess Land. It’s crazy in there!

We totally rode the little kid carousel. Where the employees start and end it in rhyme.

The best roller coaster is by far the Hulk: it’s full of surprises. When you ride a lot of roller coasters, there are certain standards of behavior that set your expectations one way and the Hulk breaks them all!

The Hulk at Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure, Orlando FL.

The park also includes Jurrasic Park, a whole area on Marvel Comics, and a few other areas from movies I didn’t care about. We ate in Mythos Restaurant which I would highly recommend. The food was pretty good, the prices were decent, but most importantly, it was a freezing oasis of calm after you’d been walking around in the hot sun all morning.

Jurrasic Park!

There were so few people at the park that we rode every ride, multiple times, and saw everything we wanted, and had lunch all by 1 pm. Ridiculous! With hours to waste, we ended up checking out the Avengers on I-Max 3D, which was a fantastic treat since the movie theater in Tahoe is about 1/10th the size. In the end, my fear and anxiety was completely unnecessary: we made it to the airport early and through security with time to spare.

Side trip to Harry Potter World: HUGE success.

Total nerd with the Hogwarts Express Train Conductor.

Now it was time for our Puerto Rico Beach Vacation!

Help me win a photo contest!

Your good deed for the day!  I entered a photo contest for Tahoe Quarterly magazine.  If I win, my photo may be printed in the magazine and I win a gift certificate to a local restaurant.  Sadly, it’s one of those facebook contests where the photo with the most shares and likes wins.  Fortunately, the voting us until midnight tonight only.  If you’re on facebook, follow this link to like or share my photo as a vote.  You can also repin or like the photo through pinterest to vote as well.  Thanks! 

El día final

While I was originally supposed to fly home on Wednesday, most of our friends either returned home Monday morning or were planning on leaving for more adventures in the countryside. Without enough time to adventure farther out from La Paz, I decided that attempting to return home on Tuesday instead would be optimal. This would give me a full day to decompose and organize myself at home before returning to work. That left Monday as my last day in La Paz and after all the wine we had consumed the night before and all the strangeness we’d eaten the last week I woke up with a bit of a hangover and a slight case of Traveler’s Sickness.

Originally, those of us that were left had planned to meet Matt and Luna in Zona for lunch. The documentary duo had traveled down there early that morning to film at the Jewish Synagogue. I knew that Matt and Luna didn’t want to meet until much later but had no way to contact the others so ended up rousing my hungover and queasy self out of bed to meet them down south mid morning. It was actually quite helpful because some sprite and coffee settled my stomach and I felt much better.

That afternoon, the remaining three friends (Michelle, Michel and Brad) left for a few days of relaxation in the jungle and I joined Matt and Luna for a really wonderful lunch at Wagamama, a Japanese restaurant near my casa. It was really nice to sit down with just the two of them for a long lunch as it was the last time I would get to see them. I’m SO happy I was able to travel for their wedding. What a memorable experience!

That afternoon, still feeling not at 100%, I laid down for a quick nap, some photo editing and then hoofed it back up to the kissing plaza for some night shots.

Monticulo: the kissing park.

That evening I dined solo at the highly rated Pronto Dalicatessen. While it had been on the list of go-to restaurants for almost everyone in the group, somehow I was the only one able to experience the place described by Lonely Planet as “like having sex for the first time: definitely experimental, shockingly foreign, but surprisingly delicious in the end.”

Sadly, I didn’t have my Spanish translators with me and had a hard time deciphering some of the more complex words and although I got the gist of most of the menu items, I played it safe with an arugula salad with a balsamic reduction and a huge bowl of house-made fettuccine with a thick and creamy pesto.

I’m really not sure why I even bothered going to bed that night. The cab was coming to take me to the airport at 4:00 AM. I spent the hours from 10 PM to 3:30 AM reaching over every 45 minutes to see what time it was. The drive to the airport in the wee hours of the morning was a very different experience than the daytime: the streets were completely empty and the horns of cars silent. We saw no other cars. I saw very few people, the ones that were out and about were stumbling out of after hour nightclubs and bars.

When you drive at any time in La Paz, street lines were a suggestion, the opposite lanes used as passing lanes, and horns used as warnings for other drivers, as if to say, “hey, just so you know, I’m beside you.” At night, the cabs never stopped at red lights though my friend Rose from Brazil later told me that it was probably out of safety so that the cab driver didn’t get robbed. That morning, there was absolutely no reason to stop at all and in the quiet stillness I watched La Paz pass by one last time as we rose higher and higher to the altiplano. It was a surreal experience to be in such calmness when I knew the hustle and bustle that awaited the city only hours later.

Adiós La Paz, véale la vez próxima.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I spent the last three days running around with a list a mile long of things to take care of at work for customers. It was a little crazy and really stressful in my store every day all week. After that, I came home Tuesday and made my favorite really complicated stuffing from Chef Dean Fearing (The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Fearing’s) and then four pies last night. It was a little overwhelming, in particular for my boyfriend who was taking the brunt of my stress, but honestly, it’s my own fault because I refuse to give up those duties to someone else. What if they don’t bake the pies right? What if they make stuffing from a box? Blasphemy! I like to feed people. It’s my way of showing gratitude for their gifts to me. How could I allow my friends and loved ones to eat substandard pie?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have an amazing holiday!