Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkins from an event I covered for Historic Hudson Valley,  Blaze.

Enjoy music from my favorite Halloween movies: The Worst Witch and Monster Squad. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caturday and Grace Face

Grumpy Addy

Today we're celebrating Grace's birthday. I can't believe she'll be a year old tomorrow! Grace was born the day before Halloween in Sleepy Hollow, which is pretty darn cool. 

I've continued the tradition of ridiculous birthday music with my nephew and nieces. Growing up, my brother Nick and I had our own personalized songs from Captain Zoom. Well, Nick did. As with all things, they didn't actually have a version with my name on it. To make me feel better, my oldest brother recorded over the generic "Special Little Girl" in the song. It's done really well considering he was only nine years old at the time. To this day, my mother still plays this song every morning on my birthday. She's even played it for me over the phone. The best part is that Jimmy is basically shouting my name. Happy birthday AUDRA!!!! See you next yeeeeeeeeear!

For some reason, I couldn't stop laughing at this screen shot when I went to order Grace's version.


I think I'm going to call her Grace Face from now on

And if you're wondering, Captain Zoom has really gotten with the times. Not only is there a version for Audra now, there's pretty much a version for every name you can imagine. I have purchased the new Audra version, but I've never listened to it. I think the manufactured version is better than anything Captain Zoom could do himself.

I also picked up a copy of the album Roll Play from iTunes for Grace. I came across it when searching for new songs from Andy Stochansky. Who knew he sang a song on a kids album? It's got a pretty good mix of artists. Murray of the defunct Moxy Fruvous now sings with Great Big Sea and they're on this album too. I love when my music world collides! I've put a sampling on my playlist over to the right. I'm only disappointed that the octopus is named Audrey and not Audra. Maybe I can get Jimmy to fix that song for me...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day Trip to DUMBO

Yesterday was a first for me: a solo trip into the city from start to finish. Normally, I like to bring a friend along, partly for moral support, partly because everything is better when you can share it with someone else. I even braved the weather, which was not in my favor. I managed to catch about ten minutes where the rain let up enough for me to snap a few pictures.  I managed the subway system without any missteps, another first for me, but I cut my trip short as a result of the weather. It down poured the rest of the day. I just didn't want to visit the other stores and restaurants I scoped out ahead of time. I felt like a drowned rat and it was colder than I anticipated. Although I'm developing a new found love for the City, I do not love it in the rain. At all.

So what was so important for me to brave an area of New York I've never been to in the pouring rain? Check out this review:

The New York Photo Festival's Fall invitational presents a selection of images that capture the powerful relationship between photography and music in all its forms, be it solo musicians, bands, rock concerts, grand operatic productions, or intimate one-on-one sessions.
From Herman Leonard's jazz portraits, which defined an era of cool, to Pennie Smith's explosive shot of Paul Simonon smashing his bass. From Mapplethorpe's intimate portraits of Patti Smith, to the iconic photography of Anton Corbijn and Laura Levine, photography has long been instrumental in how we experience music.

Strip away the music, and what you have is an image that defines a moment, an emotion. An image that tells a story.

The photographs selected for "Audio/Visual" capture the unique relationship between photography and music - be it solo musicians, bands, rock concerts, grand operatic productions, or intimate one-on-one sessions.

"Audio/Visual: An exhibition of music photography" will feature over 100 photographs by 70 artists - on view at the famed gallery and event space The PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo (Brooklyn), from October 19 to November 3.

Is that not the perfect show for me? It's as though someone looked at my blog and saw the development of it over the year. I knew as soon as I read that write up, I had to make a trip into the city to see it.

Had I known about this exhibit ahead of time, I definitely would have submitted some of my images. I feel like both of these shots of the Eels from Williamsburg expresses that sentiment perfectly.

One of my all time favorites, Mr. Folds conducting the audience.

An old digital picture of Rufus Wainwright and his Superfan. This guy was thrusting his fist in the air and shouting, "YOU'RE NUMBER ONE, RUFUS!!!" It was so out of place for Rufus' style, I couldn't stop myself from taking this picture. Unfortunately, my high res copy of this picture was lost several years ago in a hard drive failure.

And one of my newest, this shot of Jon Brion. It was the emotional and musical crescendo of the show and I'm so proud of capturing the moment, especially from such a crummy position in the audience.

It was a great exhibit, and I'm really glad I went to see it, despite the miserable weather. I've only just started to look at the work of other photographers. I think I've always been worried about being influenced too much by what I've seen. I've developed my own voice as a photographer, so I'm not worried about that anymore. The main thought going through my head as I looked at the photos was, My work is just as good as this. I can do this. That might not be a surprise to some people, but that's a huge step for me. 

I don't know if New Englander's are more subject to self deprecation. I definitely have the constant strive for perfection mixed with the realization that I will never achieve said perfection; classic Virgo. Throw in the Napolitano upbringing, I'm a trifecta of self doubt! It's taken many years for me to not hate my work. I used to be completely nervous before a shoot. I remember that I actually made myself sick right before the first big photo assignment I got for the newspaper. My photo editor later told me that he didn't even care if I got usable images, he just wanted me to work out the kinks. I don't feel those nerves any more. Now I feel excitement.

I'm definitely still learning and expanding my photography. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it. I'm not sure if I can support myself solely on that, but my confidence is growing. And for me, that is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome.

Maybe you'll be seeing more of my pictures in the future. I could be one phone call away from having my own exhibit. A series of photos of musicians shoes. You never know...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My food is taunting me

I didn't want a sticker until my food promised me one. Now it's all I can think about. Why you gotta be like that, food?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Avon Breast Cancer Walk

A few short hours after the Kingston Trio concert, I hopped on a train to the city to be able to meet up with a friend. Rachel was visiting from D.C. to support her mother's team at the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. The event spanned two days, where participants walked a full marathon on Saturday and another half marathon on Sunday. No small feat! I was thrilled that Rachel invited me. She's one of those people that you'll drop whatever you're doing to spend time with, and her family is just so darn amazing, you can't help but feel like an adopted member of the Kaplan clan.

It was oddly surreal to be walking the streets of New York and have complete strangers cheering you on, and not just the volunteers. We had random people high fiving us, beeping their car horns and waving. I couldn't help but giggle every time it happened.

And it was a perfect day outside weather wise. Clear and crisp, not quite Fall just yet, but close. I really had a great time catching up with friends and admiring the city. I've always viewed New York as this big scary place that I struggle to navigate. It used to really stress me out, but I've taken such a liking to it after the events I've gone to this year. (Thanks to Vanessa and our crazy Eels concert experience!) I don't think I'm ready to say that I could live there, but I'm not nearly as apprehensive as I once was.

Reese Witherspoon was the spokesperson for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. She came out, did her super bubbly thing and handed out over 8 MILLION dollars raised by the walkers in the form of giant checks. I was pretty far back and didn't bring my telephoto with me, but I think you can still tell that it's Reese.

The closing ceremonies were emotional and our group wanted to do one more picture. I directed them to stand in front of the signage. As we're trying to take a quick shot, security comes up to us and tells us we need to move aside to get a vehicle through. I recomposed my shot, took it and packed up my camera.

A few minutes after, we see what vehicle we made room for. I'm so so sorry for not having my camera out for this shot, so I did my best to recreate it via some purposefully bad photoshopping. After two days of walking 40 miles, where each member of a team had to raise $1800 minimum, little Miss "I'm so proud of all of you!!!" Witherspoon has the audacity to zip by in the back of a golf cart. I can't make this stuff up. Ask the Kaplans, they were there, they saw it, too!

I did tell this story at the gym the following day and someone pointed out that Reese had recently been hit by a car while jogging. For a brief moment, I felt horrified at how angry I was by her golf cart incident. When I got home, I read up on this accident, which was over a month ago and all she suffered were some bruises, so I don't feel bad anymore. But you should still feel horrible, Reese. Shame on you!

During the walk, we passed Comic Con.

I kept thinking, this is the closest I will ever be to The Oatmeal...

Congratulations to all who took part and raised a staggering amount of money!


She's a beast!

Look at Addy with her claws out, her snaggle tooth barred in full on hunt mode. Sure, she looks all tough and cool there. Not so much the case at 3 AM when she walks across my keyboard because she knows that it wakes my computer up from sleep mode, which in turn wakes me up so she can get food. She even managed to select all the icons on my desktop, even though I'm pretty sure she doesn't have opposable thumbs. I think I'm going to have to set a password so Addy can't hijack my computer. I'm not kidding! Looks how she turns my ichat on when I'm at work...

Freakin punk cat...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kingston Trio 10.15.11

Every concert you go to is different. Sometimes it's your favorite band. Sometimes it's someone you haven't seen in years. Sometimes it's an artist you've heard great things about. Sometimes it's an experience that engages all your senses.

Sometimes it's about the people you go with.

For me, the Kingston Trio is just a feel good time. The venue is cabaret style, which means you are allowed to bring your own food and drinks. My friends and I plan ahead to make sure we have the best spread. I don't go to see the Trio because I know all the songs. I go to enjoy some good music with a lot of good friends. I wish I could have a posse with me every show that I go to, but I know it's just not possible. We all have lives and most have families of their own now, but I'm still glad that we can get together every couple of years and go to this show.

This year, we were up on the balcony, and it's by far my favorite place to be. I don't have to fight for position, I have an unobstructed view and with my SLR, I can get all the angles I want. And, as you've already seen, I was able to get my shoes shot.

Without any more of my babbling, here are some pictures from the night:

To all my friends that made it to the concert, a big thanks. It wouldn't have been a show without you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Upcoming Purchases

 Oh man, I'm so excited about this book! The Eels just posted this write up:
Several fully-grown, matured writers, singers, actors and directors including Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Neil LaBute, Gene Hackman, John Waters and EELS leader Mark Oliver Everett contribute letters written to their sixteen-year-old selves in the book Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, published by Simon and Schuster October 25th. 
E is a great writer. If you haven't already read his autobiography, Things The Grandchildren Should Know, pick up a copy. If you really want to be entertained, pick up the audio book version and listen to The Chet impersonate E. It's one of those rare moments where several of my geeky interests combine. Harry Potter meets Stephen King meets E. How are they containing all this awesome in one book?
Here's the link from Amazon.
Which works out swimmingly for me because I needed an excuse to order this for free shipping. Don't judge me, we all have our quirks. 
Oh, and this is my 100th blog post. How bout that! Kingston Trio pictures are coming soon!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caturday with a concert tonight

Addy proving she's not afraid of heights

Tonight, I'll be celebrating Mario's birthday along with my friends at the Kingston Trio concert in the City of Dreams! They better play Tijuana Jail this year! On a side note, I think it's funny that this will be the most expensive concert I've been to this year. It doesn't seem right that a band with none of the original members in it charge more than some of the shows I've seen. The last time the Trio played in Connecticut, I was on so much pain medication, I don't remember much of the concert. (It was four days after my ACL reconstruction, people!) I'm looking forward to enjoying it this year with a mostly clear head and my camera, of course. Gotta love concerts in our coverage area!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This post goes out to my best bud, Vanessa. We've been through a lot in the many years since she moved from Hawaii to Connecticut (you fool!) and today is another big change for her. I'm not going to lie, every time I walk past her desk at work, I'm going to feel sad to see it empty. I wanted to give her a little shout out to say that I'm proud of her and the choice she made. Change is never easy, but I know she's going to do bigger and better things.

And even though we won't be working in the same office, and I won't see you on my ichat list with comments to cheer me up like this:

It doesn't mean we won't see plenty of each other. It just means we need to have more Audra Nights!™

It's a great big world out there, kid, and it's all yours!