Monday, May 25, 2015

There's No Place Like Home

Time has seriously flown since the Goodbye Dinner at the beginning of May!  I'm sorry it took me this long to make my last post about my time in Hollywood!  Over the weekend after the dinner, I did a lot of cool stuff.  I had to do some packing and major cleaning, but there were plenty of fun things.  Some of my roommates and I had a little cookout in the grilling area.  We made a bunch of hot dogs and burgers!  Later on, we went to the hot tub one last time.  On Saturday night, we went out to Buffalo Wild Wings.  I had already eaten dinner, so I just had a huckleberry limeade.  It was tasty!  When we were done, we walked around Burbank and found a bar that was showing the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.  There were tons of people crowded around outside the bar, but we managed to find a place to stand.  I actually got to see the TV pretty well!  I had never really watched boxing before, but I was excited to see it because there was so much hype before that fight.  I rooted for Pacquiao to win, but I was not as upset at Mayweather's victory as some other people were.  After we had watched a good deal of the fight, a police car drove by and broke up the huge crowd.  We headed for the parking garage and went back to the apartment.  On Sunday, I got a ride to Calvary Bible Church one last time.  It was nice to attend one more service there and say goodbye to the people I had met there.  It's a great church!  Once I was done there, I went back home.  When I was at the apartment over the weekend, I did some work on my final paper for How Hollywood Works.  As I said before, I also had to pack and clean a lot!  Monday was a busy day.  I woke up bright and early in the morning to take my final trip to Universal Studios Hollywood!  The lines weren't bad at all, and I got to do a lot!  I rode The Mummy 4 times that day, and I rode it a total of 11 times in the 3 days I was there!  I rode everything that I wanted to ride again.  I also reserved a spot on my flight that was leaving the next morning!  After I was done there, I did a little more souvenir shopping and then went home.  I made myself some dinner and continued working on my paper.  Later that night, I went out to Bob's Big Boy one last time.  I went there with some girls I had gone with before and another one of their roommates.  It was a fun trip!  A couple of us were just there to get dessert, and I ordered the hot fudge cake.  It was delicious!  We all discussed our plans following the semester and other random topics.  I'm glad we were all able to get together!  After I got back from that, I finished my How Hollywood Works final paper and sent it in.  It felt really nice to have that done!  I also spent some time preparing for my departure in the morning.  I ended up going to bed far too late (technically early), and I didn't sleep a whole lot that night.  I had to wake up at 7:00 to finish packing up and cleaning.  My shuttle to the airport was supposed to arrive around 8:50 or 9:00, but it took nearly the whole time to complete all my tasks.  When I was finally ready to go, I said goodbye to my two roommates who were still there.  One of them helped me carry my stuff downstairs.  I didn't have to wait outside very long before the shuttle arrived.  I put my luggage in the back and found a seat.  I was very relieved to be on the way to LAX!  The shuttle stopped at one point along the way to pick up more people.  The drive to LAX was nearly an hour long - Los Angeles is a huge city!  The shuttle dropped me off at the Southwest departures area, and I went to check my bigger bags and get my boarding pass.  It's nice that you can check two bags for free on Southwest - I took full advantage of the two checked and two carry-on bags!  Thankfully, the line moved quickly.  After that, I was on to security.  That also went pretty smoothly.  I find it funny that they make you go through a full-body scanner and still feel your shirt afterwards!  What could they possibly find in your shirt that the full-body scanner wouldn't pick up?  I suppose there are terrorists who have figured that out, but it's excessive for most people.  I was out of security soon enough, and I went to find my gate.  After I found it, I got some lunch at the La Brea Bakery.  It was a tremendous ripoff!  I would recommend that you NEVER eat at the La Brea Bakery in LAX!  I sat and waited for boarding to begin, and it happened before too long.  I knew I wanted a window seat on the plane.  I had to walk almost all the way to the back, but I found a window seat!  I was happy!  There were no problems on the flight, and I think it actually landed a little early.  The flight attendants and pilots on Southwest planes are cool!  It's my favorite airline (not that I have extensive experience on many airlines)!  When we landed at Chicago Midway, I grabbed my carry-on bags and made my way to the baggage claim.  I swear it was at least a 2-mile walk from the plane to the baggage claim!  I guess that's the cost of having free bags on Southwest!  It took a while for the carousel to start up, but I found my bags relatively quickly.  I texted my mom to let her know that I was ready.  Then I went outside and looked for her van.  After a few minutes, she pulled up!  I threw all my stuff in the car, and we drove away.  She showed me the "Cheers" complete series DVD set that arrived earlier that day!  I was happy to see that!  She also had a dinner for me to eat in the car.  We were headed straight to my little sister's band concert!  After the concert was over, I went to Culver's to get some frozen custard and celebrate my safe arrival.  In the weeks since then, I've done a ton!  The day after I got back, I went over to Bradley to participate in the last episode of Midstate Magazine that Bob Jacobs executive produced.  Midstate Magazine is a weekly newsmagazine show that Bradley produces, and Bob Jacobs created the show.  He was the main Television Arts professor at Bradley for years, and he retired at the end of the semester.  I'm glad I got to be there for his last episode.  After that, I hung out with my roommate from first semester and some other friends.  It was study day, so nobody had classes.  I spent the night there, and finals began in the morning.  I went back home that afternoon.  After another week or so back home, I went on InterVarsity's Chapter Focus Week.  I joined some other guys from Bradley's chapter for the trip up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We stayed at a place called Cedar Campus in Cedarville.  The whole week was a ton of fun!  It was a cool way to reconnect with God and the other guys in the chapter!  I also met a ton of cool people from other schools!  The day after I returned from that was my older brother's college graduation party.  We had a bunch of family and friends over to eat and celebrate a big milestone!  It was kind of funny that I saw a lot of the people who are coming to my "Welcome Back From Hollywood" Party!  We have a lot of parties going on this time of year!  The next day, my family went up to my older brother's apartment in Lisle, IL.  We helped him move in some new furniture.  The apartment is really nice now!  And the complex is amazing!  They offer so many free things!  The rest of my family left after we ate dinner, but I stayed with Chase.  We hung out for the rest of the night.  In the morning, we got some free breakfast.  For lunch, we ate at the Portillo's in Naperville.  Portillo's is seriously delicious!  Their chocolate cake shakes are irresistible!  In the afternoon, we saw "Tomorrowland" at the IMAX theater.  I'm spending another night at his apartment, and we're coming home on Tuesday for the Weird Al concert in Bloomington!  I'm so excited!  My semester in Los Angeles was a wonderful experience that I'm so grateful for.  I'll never forget it!  However, my return has reminded me of one critically important thing:  There's no place like home!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

So Long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen! Goodbye!

This past week was the last week of my semester here in Hollywood!  It started off pretty nicely, too!  On Monday morning, I got up a little early so I could do my homework assignment for How Hollywood Works.  I almost finished it, but I had to stop with a tiny bit left so we could go to the Disney lot!  When we got there, it wasn't long before we found our meeting place.  Eventually, we started our tour.  We had a guide take us all around the lot to several buildings.  He was very knowledgeable!  He knew a lot about the history of Disney and the animation process!  It was fascinating to hear how animation worked in the old days.  We learned that Disney teamed up with Xerox to make the first copy machine for the movie "101 Dalmatians"!  That's something I didn't know!  They had some pretty neat buildings on that lot!  We also got to see one of the cameras they used in the production of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"!  The technology they used back then was crazy!  Our group got a picture around the "Partners" statue, which was in front of one of the buildings.  I hope we get that picture e-mailed to us soon!  In that same area, there were handprints from a bunch of celebrities who have been designated "Disney Legends".  After we saw several of the animation buildings, he took us to a different area of the lot with sound stages.  Sound Stage 2 is apparently the biggest one in southern California, and it's called the Julie Andrews Sound Stage!  They filmed "Mary Poppins" and "The Princess Diaries" there, so that makes enough sense.  Sound Stage 1 is called the Annette Funicello Sound Stage, and I think he said they filmed "The Mickey Mouse Club" there.  He concluded the tour at a place where we could see the back side of the mountain that the Hollywood sign is on.  It was an amazing tour, and the guy was great!  After that was over, we went to the gift shop nearby.  Some people bought stuff, but I didn't get anything.  When we were done, we went back to the apartment for a short time.  We had plenty of time to get back to the UTLA center for our free lunch, but we didn't waste a whole lot at the apartment!  When I got to the UTLA center, I finished my assignment and then chilled for a while.  The pizza arrived a little later than we expected it to, but I was just glad to have it!  How Hollywood Works normally starts at 2:00, but Phil let us eat pizza and hang out until 2:30.  The main reason for that is that he wanted us to complete our course evaluations by 2:30.  I did mine near the end of that window of time.  At 2:30, we began our last class.  The whole time, Phil talked to us about living and working in Hollywood.  He gave us lots of good advice on how to find jobs and where the cheapest apartments and houses are.  He also spent a huge chunk of time talking to us about tax deductions and write-offs.  Around 4:30 or so, we went back out to eat cake and celebrate the April birthdays.  He was going to save it until after class, but we insisted on taking a break!  He didn't say a whole lot after our break, but I enjoyed the class period.  It was particularly nice for the people who are staying in L.A. or are coming back soon.  After the class ended, I got one last meal from the deli inside that building.  I had many lunches there on the Mondays throughout the semester, but I couldn't have lunch that Monday because of the free pizza.  After dinner, I returned to the apartment.  I relaxed for a while, and I did laundry a little later.  Eventually, I put some finishing touches on my paper for Development.  I might have worked on my New Media paper too.  On Tuesday, I started my day at Glassman Media.  I had to make some more calls to random companies, but I guess it gave me some good experience.  Now I'm a little more comfortable having phone conversations with people I don't know!  Overall, I got to do more of the fun stuff I did earlier in the semester.  I'm really glad I got an internship there!  After I was done there, I went back to my apartment.  I relaxed for a while, and I think I did some work.  I didn't eat dinner because I had more free pizza coming!  Our Development professor had to cancel one class just after spring break, so she scheduled a makeup class for Tuesday night.  I got there just before 7:00 and got some free pizza!  We started late because a lot of people were just coming back from their internships.  It was a cool class!  We had a bunch of desks arranged in a square in the middle of the room, and we had a "roundtable discussion" (obviously, it wasn't literally a round table).  Our professor wanted to give us advice about our careers and our lives in Hollywood.  She went around the square and answered questions from everyone.  She's been working in the industry forever, so she had a lot of great advice!  It was very nice and laid back.  After that class was over, I went back to my apartment.  I think I did some work on my New Media paper.  I wanted to finish it by Tuesday night so I wouldn't have to work on it Wednesday, but that didn't happen.  On Wednesday, I returned to Glassman for my last day there.  I ended up doing the same stuff I did on Tuesday.  Because it was my last day, my supervisor bought me lunch at the food truck outside the building!  That was really nice of her!  After lunch, I spent a good amount of time finishing my paper.  She's very understanding, and she didn't mind me doing that at all.  For the last part of the day, I sat with her at the front desk and talked about my experience.  I enjoyed my semester interning there!  She gave me some copies of a nice letter she wrote about me, and she gave it to Phil and the guy who runs the internship course!  Just before I left there, I talked to Andrew Glassman and thanked him for having me as an intern.  I'm going to be doing some work for him over the summer, and I'm excited for that!  (The work will all be over e-mail.)  After I was done there, I went back to my apartment to prepare for my presentation in New Media.  I made a PowerPoint and put some finishing touches on my paper.  I sent both of those documents in and then went back over to the UTLA center.  The last New Media class dragged on a really long time because so many people saved their presentations for the last week!  The class is supposed to meet from 7:00-10:00, but it lasted an extra 35-40 minutes.  I presented near the end, and I made sure to speed through it.  He encouraged the people later in the class period to go fast, and I didn't leave anything important out, so it's all good.  Because I presented a transmedia campaign to promote "The Peanuts Movie", I brought in some peanuts in little plastic bags.  People really appreciated that!  There were apparently some starving people in there, and I was their hero!  After the last presentation, I headed back to the apartment.  I didn't have any big assignments to work on (finally!), so I relaxed.  On Thursday, I headed out to Karga Seven.  They had me work on final edit reports the whole day.  My supervisor told me to work on one I had already done, but I didn't realize it for a while.  When you're constantly watching clips of tornadoes, it can be pretty hard to remember what you have and haven't seen!  I told her I had already started it, and another one of the postproduction people said it was completely done.  She had me start on another one, and I got a huge portion of that done by the end of the day.  After I left there, the L.A. transportation system irritated me one last time (or so I hope)!  Normally, I take a bus that leaves Hollywood & Vine around 5:47.  I scheduled an appointment for 6:30 with the internship guy to talk about my résumé and cover letter.  I figured that would be perfect - I would actually be there early!  Boy, was I mistaken!  The 5:47 bus decided not to show up!  The next bus, which normally gets there around 6:26, arrived about 10 minutes late!  I was going to be really late, and I was afraid he would be gone by the time I got there!  I got off the bus shortly before 7:00 and rushed into the UTLA center.  Thankfully, he was still there!  He was just about to leave when I showed up!  I printed off my résumé and cover letter, and he gave me some good tips.  I never really know how to make those, but now I have a better idea.  After I was done there, I went back to the apartment.  I ate dinner and chilled for a while, and then I decided to go out to the hot tub.  What I didn't know was that there was a group of UTLA students there!  It was nice getting to hang out with them there!  I'm glad I stumbled upon that little party!  On Friday, I went back to Karga Seven for my last day there.  I began the day by finishing the major parts of the final edit report.  My supervisor was going back and forth a lot, and I couldn't find her for a while.  I decided to finish my last weekly assignment in New Media.  In the afternoon, she and a bunch of other people took me out to lunch!  She appreciated all I did, and she wanted to treat me!  I got a lot of free meals that week!  We went to a place that had pretty good burgers.  After we got back, I worked on a few smaller parts of the report.  Just after 5:00, I stopped working and took pictures with/of a lot of the people there.  It was fun working with them!  After that, I had to get out the door and find my bus stop.  We had our Goodbye Dinner on Friday night, and I figured out that it was easier to get to the restaurant from Karga Seven.  When I got on the bus, it was super crowded!  34 years later, Weird Al's song "Another One Rides the Bus" still makes complete sense!  I just had to hold onto a rail for a while.  At the first several stops after the one where I got on, big groups of people joined the madness!  It was rough standing up on the bus, but people gradually started getting off.  I managed to find a seat before too long.  As it continued going through downtown, more people got off.  By the time it got to the more scenic locations, the bus wasn't crowded at all.  It was kind of a long ride, but I was excited for the dinner!  When I got to The Grove, I walked around for a while.  I had never known about it before.  It's a pretty cool place with a bunch of restaurants and stores and whatnot.  I found Maggiano's and then made my way up to the ballroom we had reserved!  It was nice and fancy!  There weren't too many people there when I arrived, so I chilled for a while.  They brought out some appetizers later, so I naturally gravitated towards the food.  I stayed out on the balcony for a good time, and more people showed up.  At around 8:00 (1 hour after the event officially started), they brought out the salads and bread.  After that, they started bringing out the main courses!  There was all kinds of good stuff to eat!  I had some chicken piccata, some salmon, and a little bit of pasta.  There were a couple different kinds of pasta with meatballs.  Later on, they brought out dessert.  Again, there were so many delicious things to choose from!  I had some tiramisu (that's what I think it was) and a chocolate bonbon thingy.  At around 9:00, Phil got our attention.  Most of the professors got up and gave speeches encouraging us and praising us for our work.  The guy in charge of the internship course also read off some of our accomplishments and summer positions.  At the end, Phil gave an emotional speech similar to the ones the professors gave earlier.  Apparently, the UTLA program is celebrating its 10th anniversary this semester!  We took some group pictures, and then we continued to mingle.  I got pictures with some of the professors and staff members I hadn't taken pictures with earlier.  I hung out for a while, and then I got a ride home.  A bunch of people partied afterwards, but I just wanted to relax and have some time to myself.  I would tell you what I did on Saturday, but I want to end off with the high note of the Goodbye Dinner.  Nothing bad happened - I just want to save it for the next big post.  Tomorrow, I'll post some pictures from the Disney lot!  I hope I'll get some more pictures e-mailed to me soon!