Another year, another Oscar Party. The eighth installment of Peter Voyvodic’s celebration of the nominees for Academy Award for Best Picture was just as crazy and just as much fun as ever. There’s something exhilarating about cramming 50+ people into a tiny studio apartment and preparing an 8-dish offering. The menu and dishes are pictured below.
The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas was this past weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. The event spans three days with practice and qualifiers occurring on Saturday and the races for the three classes (MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3) occurring on Sunday. I attended both days of weekend events and had a great time watching beastly motorcycles roar past Turn 1. I’ve included a selection of photos and videos below. To see all my photos, check out my Flickr set.
Another crazy SXSW has come and gone in Austin, TX, and I’m completely exhausted. Unlike the past two years where most of my participation was during the Music portion of the festival, I explored extensively during Interactive (i.e. earlier). The biggest events I attended were the Dropbox party and the multi-day Rachael Ray Feedback House Party. The first was at a brand new bar on Rainey Street called Container Bar and featured live music from Wild Cub (they’re gonna blow up). The second was at an event space on East Cesar Chavez called Chick Ranch and featured tons of live bands and BBQ from a Chicago restaurant called Lillies. I managed to snag invites to both events for myself and a ton of my friends through some Twitter magic. Besides those, I walked around to a ton of the open venues all across downtown Austin to catch music and eat/drink free stuff. If you’re interested in seeing my photos, check out the Flickr set here.
For the past six years, my friend Peter Voyvodic has hosted an annual Oscar party where he serves up food inspired by each of the Academy Award for Best Picture Nominees. I’ve had the opportunity to attend the past two years (since I’ve been in Austin) and it has always been a blast. Last year I had a ton of fun assisting with the Sunday food preparation so I was anxious to help again this year.
I’m a regular user of the location-based social network Foursquare mainly as a source of recommendations for new places to try. I typically check in everywhere I go with the exception of private residences (can’t let people stalk me that easily), so I have a pretty extensive log covering my location history. While it’s not quite as extensive as the Google Maps Location History, it does a good job representing the places I visit.
In the past I’ve messed around with making heatmaps of latitude/longitude coordinate pairs without much success. It always required tedious manipulations to properly overlay on top of a Google Maps image and wasn’t really worth the effort. I recently stumbled across a Python-based heatmap tool created by Seth Golub that takes a list of coordinates and turns them into a beautiful heatmap that can be overlaid on a OpenStreetMap. Once I figured out how to get Python Image Library installed properly, I used my private Foursquare feed to grab every checkin over the past year. Extracting and exporting the GPS coordinates included with each XML element only required a few lines of code. The resulting maps, which have been limited to only show downtown and the general Austin area, are displayed below.
This past weekend saw the first major competitive video-gaming event take place in Austin, TX as the Red Bull Battlegrounds took over the Moody Theater for two days of StarCraft 2 action. A 16-player invitational hosted by Day, DJwheat, Husky, and Rob Simpson, the event was a resounding success for a non-major-league (MLG or IPL) live event. I decided to only attend the second day (Sunday) of the tournament since the first day featured a round-robin tournament in which an absolute deluge of games were played. Day 2 took the top 8 players from the previous day and seeded them into a single-elimination bracket to fight for over $40k in prize money.
M83 is absolutely one of my favorite bands to see live. While many people find Anthony Gonzalez’s heavily shoegaze-influenced music somewhat boring (excluding that one track that everyone knows from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming), their live performances are anything but that. From the perfectly implemented light show to the random electronic dance jam sessions in the middle of their more upbeat songs, M83 is a blast to see in concert. Even though there were people at the concert who only wanted to hear “Midnight City,” there is no denying that the rest of the show was just as energetic. Their extended versions of “Fall” from the TRON: Legacy soundtrack and “Couleurs” from Saturdays = Youth were awesome. Even if you’re one of the “only likes Midnight City” crowd, their live performances make that song look boring in comparison. You should seriously see them.
I went to my first SXSW event this past Saturday (despite the absolute deluge of rain) at the Palmer Event Center for the Screenburn Arcade where the IGN Pro League was putting on a StarCraft 2 showmatch between two community-voted players. Interestingly enough, the players Millenium.Stephano and TteSports.WhiteRa ended up being the winners of the IPL StarLeagues 2 and 3, respectively, which made the match feel even more epic. The Frenchman, Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri, is arguably the best foreigner (non-Korean) player in the world and definitely one of the best Zerg players globally. Aleksey “White-Ra” Krupnyk, hails from the Ukraine, and has been a long-time community favorite for his Protoss “special tactics” and broken English phrases that are frequently absorbed into the StarCraft eSports lexicon. It was awesome seeing these people play in person after being limited to TwitchTV streams and Major League Gaming events in the past. Nothing beats a live crowd, especially when an Archon Toilet results in the nearly instantaneous death of 10+ Brood Lords and a complete change in momentum.
This past week has had some absolutely incredible weather, mostly in the upper 70’s and mid 80’s, but Thursday it decided to dip up into the 90’s. After four years of Seattle winters (aka cloudy, cold, and wet), maybe Texas winters aren’t all that bad. Sadly it has already dropped back into the mid 60’s for the weekend and we might get some thunderstorms early next week. But it’s still brilliantly sunny and hopefully indicative of the weather for the next few months. Now if only there was a way to escape the inevitable Texas summer heat.