Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Treat: Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing

Seeing how this day only comes once every four years, I knew I had to come up with a worthy blog post, but I never expected it to be about this. Sometimes even I surprise myself; after six years of on and off searching for the entire album, I found it! While I've been a fan of Mrs. Miller for many years, and I have a few of her albums, Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing has been my elusive white whale.

Just who is Mrs. Miller? you might be asking yourself. This is what Wikipedia has to say about her. I stumbled upon her thanks to the Ultra Lounge series back in 2003 and instantly fell in love. I must warn you, Mrs. Miller isn't for everyone, and I strongly suggest you take her in doses. Even I can't get through more than a few songs at a time.

Perhaps the best quote I've ever read about her comes from Mark Everett, aka E from the Eels:

"Most people have one of two reactions when they first hear Mrs. Miller: laugh, or leave the room. But I really love her and respect her as an artist. You can hear her good heart and joy of performing shine through the snickers from the producers in the control room that masterminded the cruel joke of making this sweet lady sing modern pop hits for their novelty amusement. As someone once said: 'People can say Mrs. Miller couldn’t sing, but they can’t say she didn’t sing.'"

If you're an Eels fan, I'm sure you've heard Mrs. Miller; she is usually blasted during the intermission between the opening band and when the Eels take the stage. E went to such great lengths as to co-write a musical about Mrs. Miller. A great article on it can be found here. To this day, I still kick myself for not finding a way to make it to one of the shows, even if it was only a two week run. I hope that one day a DVD of this will surface...

Another great quote comes from the linear notes of this album, found on the incredible website Mrs. Miller's World:

Mrs. Miller is an experience that should happen to everyone once. We don't mean just seeing or hearing Mrs. Miller. We mean being a Mrs. Miller, and having that elusive, magic chance we all dream about. The chance to do your own thing, whatever it may be. Mrs. Miller's thing is singing. Singing her heart out. And it's all she's ever wanted to do.

I'm still trying to work that into my website redesign. Someday, I'm going to be the Mrs. Miller of concert photography!

It is my duty, nay, privilege, dear readers, to share with you the entire album.

I believe Mrs. Miller would say I am the woMan!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

End Result

Back in January, I made the decision to cover basketball instead of going to a photo exhibit. You can read the story here. I ended up going back for a second game and you can read about that here. Over the weekend, I received an email from one of the parents that included these pictures of the seniors with their canvas prints. I don't always get to see the end result of my work or the joy that my photos bring. It made me really happy to see, so I thought I'd share.

Those smiles make the effort totally worth it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Photo of the Week: Week 8

I don't care that my hair is the only thing in focus in this picture. You try taking a blind self portrait with your niece using an SLR. I love the look of amusement on Grace's face. After I took that picture, I turned the camera around to check and Grace laughed at it.

Oh, and she learned how to say Audra this week.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Caturday: Retaliation

I believe somebody showed last week's Caturday post to Addy because this is how I found her Monday morning as I was trying to leave the house for work. In case you can't tell, she's lying on my purse with her best, "Two can play this game," look of hatred.

Well played, Addy. Well played.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This problem needs to be addressed

Tickets for Fiona Apple's two New York shows went on presale today and were sold out within minutes. The same thing happened for Kraftwerk at MOMA, and to some degree, Bjork's residency at the Hall of Science. What's absolutely maddening is where these tickets are ending up. The above screen shot are the aforementioned presale tickets for Fiona, already being marked up and sold on StubHub. 

When will this end? How do we fix this problem? I briefly considered going to the show at Music Hall Of Williamsburg, but I'm not going to even try to get tickets now. I'm guessing the price is between $40-$50, the usual going rate for MHOW, which is all General Admission. You do the math. 

This is an outrage and we as fans need to step up and say enough is enough. It is not right that music lovers are not able to purchase tickets to see an artist that does not tour the area often. Not when scalpers are buying up the tickets on presale and tripling the price. We need to send a message to the scalpers and the artists that we aren't going to stand for this anymore. 

I don't know how to fix the problem, other than to plead with you to not purchase scalped tickets. Do not pay more than face value for them. Let that jerk up there who got their hands on 16 tickets eat $640 (my guesstimate). Maybe that will teach them a lesson. It's frustrating not being able to see a show that you really want, but nothing is going to change unless we speak out. Sites like StubHub need to take responsibility for this, too. Prices should be limited. I don't think people should be able to sell tickets for more than what they paid, including the fees. Why are these individuals making money off the musicians? Artists are playing smaller venues like MHOW to be able to give fans a more intimate experience. They aren't charging an arm and a leg for their tickets. Why are we rewarding scalpers and paying these outrageous prices?

Please feel free to repost this. Spread the word. Start a conversation. It's not going to stop until we do something about it. 


Throwback Thursdays

As soon as I mentioned the fourth Indiana Jones movie, I knew what my next Throwback Thursday series would be. A very short segment of the movie was shot in New Haven, Connecticut in 2007. You can read more about it here. My brother and I made it down to the set the last weekend; it was a Sunday afternoon and they weren't filming, but all the props were still there. I loved all the old cars.

The refaced store fronts were absolutely astounding. No detail was overlooked. Traffic lights were taken down because they wouldn't have fit the era. They even placed old magazines in the front of shops. It was like you were in bizarro New Haven of the 1950s. Movie magic at its best. The attention to detail was particularly striking because all that you see in the movie is a chase scene. You really don't even notice the stores or the cars parked on the streets. You can recognize the architecture of Yale, but besides that, you really don't see all the amazing details.

As we left the set, I got into my first car accident. Going a whopping five miles per hour, I rear ended an SUV. My little Toyota Corolla went right under the bumper of the other car, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to my car. The SUV didn't even have a scratch on it. When I saw the movie with my brothers in the theater, the comment was made during the motorcycle chase scene: "Hey look! It's part of Audra's car!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

William Shatner at the Music Box

From the Playbill:
"A one-man show by definition is one man. I know we are all alone in life, and as much as we try to reach out to other people, fall in love, have children and keep social contacts alive, still we are alone and we die alone. Our life is pretty much a one-man show. And yet...we mask it with our flurries of activities and meetings, and texting and jokes and gossip and Pilates, all of it to hide our essential aloneness."

Well said, Shat, and what an ambitious undertaking. Say what you will about William Shatner, and feel free to laugh at his efforts because he is laughing right along with you. And bringing home lots of money. As he pointed out, somewhere in New Orleans, someone is living in a house that his kidney stone bought! It was an interesting night with Shatner talking for an hour and forty minutes. He covered a lot of ground, talked about his life, not just his career. Parts of it were slow. Parts of it were cringe worthy. Parts of it were outstanding. What I took away from it, and him, is that you have to embrace what you are.

Throughout the night, he spoke a lot about death: the death of his wife, his father, his great black stallion, Good Day. I was touched at how honest he was when he spoke about one of the first horses he owned and how he destroyed its life and felt guilty for that. I laughed when he spoke about buying the inexpensive pine box for his father's funeral because it's what his father would have wanted. This man does not take himself that seriously and he knows how to use what he has. Multiple times during the night, he thought aloud, "I can work with that."

I, of course, am partial to music. More so than his Star Trek days, I adore William Shatner for his spoken word albums. He spent the last twenty minutes of the night talking about his musical career. Although Ben Folds did not appear on stage, I knew it wasn't going to happen, but a girl can dream, his presence was felt and recognized, humbly, by Shatner. When I told co-workers I was going to see Shatner on Broadway and I told them how much I enjoyed Has Been, the 2004 collaboration between Shatner and Folds, most of them admitted they had never heard it. It is a serious album, with Shatner writing the lyrics and Folds writing the music. But let's really delve into the history behind it.

It's a follow up to the 1998 Ben Folds solo album Fear of Pop, where Ben asked Shatner to perform the song In Love, and the reprise Still In Love. Here's the world tour performance on Conan, not only showcasing Folds and Shatner, but the amazingly talented John Mark Painter, the dude rocking the V guitar, and his wacky wife Fleming McWilliams, who has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet:

This pretty much kicked off everything for Shatner, musically. He was everywhere performing spoken word covers. I thought it was great that Shatner gave props to Folds during his one-man show. He played clips of songs and even danced with his rolling chair during Familiar Love. (That alone was worth the price of admission!) The night ended with Shatner performing Real, the closing track off of Has Been, and is over in the music player off to the right. The chorus is as follows: And while there's a part of me/In that guy you've seen/Up there on that screen/I am so much more/And I wish I knew the things you think I do/I would change this world for sure/But I eat and sleep and breathe and bleed and feel/Sorry to disappoint you/But I'm real.

While he performed this song, pictures flashed on the screen behind him. From his early Shakespeare days, to Star Trek, with his dogs, with his horses and one of the last images was this:

An evening in Shatner's World was unlike anything I'll ever see again, therefor, well worth it. I never thought I'd experience that!

Unfortunately, one sibling was under the weather and didn't make it. Here is a photo of Nick and myself with my new, super short hair.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Caturday: Bang! Bang!

Addy and I have not been seeing eye to eye recently. She still thinks that 2-4 AM is a great time to wake me up for breakfast. I know, everyone's cat does this, but my cat really has turned it into an art form. She knows exactly how far away to stand from my face so that I'm aware of her presence, but I can't see her in the dark. This is also a cat that knows she can make the buttons of the remote control light up if she steps on them.

Uh oh, she's here and she knows that I'm typing about her...

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Shat hits the fan tomorrow

I often refer to William Shatner as The Shat. On the eve of seeing The Shat on Broadway, I thought I would show you where this nickname comes from. I was fortunate enough to experience The Shat first hand at a Puppetry Slam many years ago; I laughed so hard, I cried. Readers, I give you: The Shat.

I'm incredibly excited to experience Shatner tomorrow and to spend time with my brothers. In the past, our sibling hang outs have been limited to movies, the unfortunate fourth installment of Indiana Jones, the new Star Trek and Tron Legacy to be specific. I think Shatner's World is going to bring it to a whole new level of awesomeness.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Throwback Thursdays

On the second official Throwback Thursday, I dug into the archives and found this picture of my Great Aunt Angie slicing garlic for fresh pasta fagioli. I love that she didn't even think about using a cutting board.

This was taken a few months after my grandmother had passed away. She was the oldest of ten, with eight half siblings and one full sister. This side of the family grew up and lived in New Rochelle, New York. I didn't get to see them often, and being the youngest of fourteen grandchildren, I didn't have a lot of memories of them. Angie struck me because she looked so much like my grandmother, and when my brother and I visited her, she reacted the same way my grandmother would have: "It's so wonderful to see you! Sit down. Are you hungry? No? What if I made you some pasta fagioli? Well since I'm cooking, I might as well fry up a couple pork chops. You barely ate anything! Have some more!" To this day, they were the best pork chops I've ever eaten.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bjork Reschedules Concert

I wanted to point out, mostly because I was a little harsh in my original post, that Bjork did in fact reschedule her canceled concert. Ticket holders for the canceled show were offered a presale yesterday and it's now open to the public. Unfortunately for me, the rescheduled date is a Monday and it's also being held at Roseland instead of NY Hall of Science, so I'm not able to go, but I did want to express that I think she handled this amazingly. Less than a week after the cancellation, she made things up to her fans. Very few artists care enough to do that. Brava!

Also, I jokingly drew my shoe shot for Bjork and I attached a picture of her actual shoes. They are freakishly similar and I nailed the legging color. I'm kinda weirded out...

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Grammys

This was all I could think of when I saw Chris Brown take the stage.

Just so we're clear here, I did not take the picture of Chris Brown. I created the comparison.

I gave up watching after an hour and a half. Whoever was in charge of sound and mic'ing the performers should be shot. Did no one else notice artists constantly taking their earpieces out, tapping their turned off microphones, or not hear any lead vocals throughout the night? When I heard the harmonies instead of Adam Levine's lead in Maroon 5's Beach Boys cover, I tossed the remote control across the room.

Don't even get me started on how horrible Coldplay sounded. Oi!

The commercials were by far, the best part! Did you catch these? Amazing!

Just so you don't think I play favorites...

I took pictures of all the kids on Saturday. Here they are oldest to youngest.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Caturday: Olive Stink Eye

In Addy's defense, that olive was giving her some dirty looks. I wouldn't trust it either...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bjork Teaser

Look at those shoes!

Oh...wait...there was no Bjork concert...

I decided to draw what I thought Bjork's shoes would have looked like, and now you know why I'm a photographer.

There was no concert last night, but that didn't mean we weren't going to make the most of our situation. I was able to catch up with four amazing women that I haven't seen in several years. We grabbed a bite to eat, had a couple drinks and caught up. Had there been a concert, we wouldn't have had nearly as much time to talk, so I'm not going to complain.

Thanks, ladies!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Throwback Thursdays

I'm gearing up for my second concert of the year. I'll be heading to the city for what I can only hope will be a fantastic spectacle: Bjork performing at the New York Hall of Science. I can't wait to meet up with some of my old Cafe friends and experience this!

I decided to try another weekly post called Throwback Thursdays, where I'll post old pictures. I think it will be fun to see how I've grown as a photographer. It's funny, at the time I thought I took some amazing pictures, but when I look back at them, I cringe. I'm sure I'll feel the same way about pictures I took last year in ten years time. Above is what I though was a really cool shadow of the name of the cafe that we all worked at. When I first started, I closed most shifts. I don't miss the days of working till 1AM.

These are some of the amazing ladies I used to work with and this was taken on my last day of work. I'll be going to the concert tonight with She', she's on the far left, and I'll be meeting up with Laura after, second from the left.

This is another oldie but a goodie! I randomly bumped into Elena and Laura on the train. I was going to see Spamalot with my brother and we took a detour to see The Gates, an exhibit by Christo. (Remember, I was an Art History major, so things like this get me really excited!)

Hopefully, I'll have some new pictures of the cafe girls to share, along with concert pics!

UPDATE: At 2:30, my phone blew up with frantic texts from my friends. The show has been canceled due to illness. Although I'm getting a full refund, all the other dates are completely sold out and I'm not willing to pay nearly double the price for tickets from StubHub. Why not offer us another concert when she has a residency going on? Poorly done, Bjork.
Thank God for William Shatner, next weekend, otherwise I would've failed my concert every month goal. My fate is in your very capable hands, Mr. Shatner...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Masuk Basketball

Here are my seniors for 2012. I ended up returning for a second game in order to get a few more shots. The first game I covered was very close, so one senior didn't get a lot of playing time and another was home sick. I wasn't obligated to come back for another game, but I felt like I had to. I wanted each of those seniors to have a photo they'd be proud to look back on. Let me tell you why.

I grew up playing basketball and softball. I excelled in softball, spending my entire summer traveling to tournaments all over the country, but I loved basketball just as much. I went to one basketball clinic when I was twelve years old. It was an entire week long away from home and it was brutal. The first day, you were evaluated and it was decided that I was too advanced to play in my age bracket. They bumped me up to the fourteen year olds. I was placed on this rag tag team with the youngest coach at the clinic. We lost every single game. We were the worst team there. I remember my coach sitting me down after we were knocked out of the tournament. He told me I had heart and he could tell that I loved the game, but I didn't have enough skill. All the practice in the world wouldn't change that. He said he wished half of his players had my heart and determination. Who says that to a twelve year old? I don't think he had any idea I was playing up a bracket, but still. Way to shatter some dreams, you insensitive jerk. That was the last clinic I went to.

I was a point guard. I saw the floor, passed well, had a decent shot, was very calm and level headed. I could also box out, so often times I would out rebound people much taller than me. I didn't get a lot of playing time in varsity my freshman year, but I was a work horse at practice. I was a tough defender, so my coach usually had me play forward in scrimmages. I was the tiniest 5 foot 6 forward you ever saw, but I was scrappy. I developed a sweet little hook shot that opponents couldn't defend against. I was a bench player, cheerleader, I got the coach's award every year, but I didn't get a whole lot of playing time. I started one game as a junior, because the starting forward was sick and you better believe I scored the first basket of that game.

There was always a big production for Senior Night, the last home game of the year. It was planned by the underclassmen and it was a really touching affair. I was the only junior on the team, so a lot of the work fell on my shoulders for the seniors above me. I never complained because that's what you do, and the sophomores below me would be doing the same thing the next year for me. Or so I thought. At the end of every year, team captains were announced. I figured I would be a co-captain, to groom some of the players under me. The last practice of the year, our coach announced that there would be no captains chosen until next year, after tryouts. He pulled me aside and told me that he didn't plan on letting me play next year. His reasoning was that I spent too much time playing softball; he also threw in my marching band competitions as a distraction. I should have been devoting at least part of my summer training for basketball.

Now my high school wasn't known for our amazing sports teams, and I won't deny that I was much better at softball. I think it was an insult to have worked that hard for that long and to not have been recognized for my effort. I think that coach is an awful human being and I was hurt for a long time over that. But I got over it, and I think it has made me a pretty good person. One that wants to cover sports and is willing to go back and reshoot so that each senior has something they can look at and remember all their hard work.

So an extra shout out goes to the non-starters, the work horses, the players with heart. I think you're pretty darn inspirational, and you had me cheering for every little play you made.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Photo of the Week: Week 5

Ben Blake, the mayor of Milford, was reading at the library this weekend, but Aria couldn't care less. She was infatuated with my camera.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Masuk Teaser

I guess I can't get away from the shoes...

Caturday: The OC

A tribute to the outside cat, aka The OC. He wasn't the nicest cat in the world, or the brightest for that matter. I'll never forget the time I had to pull two burrs out of his mouth with tweezers; if you don't think that's a big deal, you try it with a cat that didn't even want to be petted, much less restrained. For all his faults, The OC was a cool cat that always accompanied me for walks on the beach and was happiest when you just left him alone in his box on the porch.

Friday, February 3, 2012

If I had a Dance Fight Gang...

My gang would be called the Won Eyed Duckz and that would be our tag.

That logo was part of a series of icons I made a few years ago. Although I've had the same facebook image from day one and will not change it, I swap my iChat icon daily. My duck series was a combination of a few graphic design projects I did in college: create a character using punctuation marks, show motion with a still image and style a character in different artistic movements. 

One of my favorites is the loud, fast duck, coming at you. The one eyed duck is my Picasso duck.

'But what's a dance fight, Audra?' you might be asking yourself.

Rob Stone, from TV's Mr. Belvedere, in quite possibly his greatest role to date. This is an excerpt from ABC's After School Special, Ace Hits The Big Time. It is unbelievable, and if you are a member of Netflix, you can rent it. How can you say no, with lines like, "You're gonna look like cooked spaghetti!" ???

FYI, the Won Eyed Duckz could take the Purple Falcons. Any day of the week!

P.S. I just realized I never actually explained the reason behind the ducks, which lead to the graphic design nostalgia,  which lead to the dance fight. Sorry about that. I've been planning a get together at one of my favorite restaurants in New Haven, C.O. Jones. Well, it turns out the restaurant has been completely revamped. Not only do they have a roasted beet with goat cheese tapas, the best thing I've ever eaten, they have duck tacos! Half price margaritas and tapas are calling!

A really old picture from C.O. Jones taken on my first digital camera.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog's Day

When I found this ground hog picture online, I thought, wow, that's a great picture. I bet you're saying, there's no possible way for you to improve that picture, Audra.

You obviously don't know me very well.

I'll be waiting for your apology.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Only 13 shopping days left...

Not that I believe in this "holiday" whatsoever, but I'd feel remiss if I did not pass this INCREDIBLE present along to my readers.  I don't think you should limit your expressions of love for another human being to just one day, but go ahead, name a roach after your beloved! (I think this present is appropriate for exes as well.) 

Thanks to my brother for sharing!