Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kristin goes to Hollywood

After getting settled (for the most part), I still had time before I start work (tomorrow) so I decided it was time to do some sightseeing. First, I went to Hollywood. I saw the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater  (now called the TCL Chinese Theater rather than Grauman's Chinese Theater) and of course the iconic Hollywood sign. It was funny, but when I got there there were all these tourists and they all seemed to know what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. I stood there for a minute wondering why I was so different, when it hit me. These people had all planned this trip, contemplated where they wanted to go, what they wanted to see. I had driven to a metro station and gone to Hollywood on a whim!
While I was on Hollywood Boulevard I saw a sign for free tickets to Jimmy Kimmel (I tried to get tickets, but failed) and this got me thinking about two other things I'd like to do - tour studios and attend be a part of a studio audience. So I found and signed up for a couple of tapings and researched studio tours.
In the end, I chose Sony Picture studios. I chose them for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, they were the cheapest, second they were the closest and third it was a walking tour. The other tours were in golf carts and I liked the idea of walking a lot better than spending two hours in a golf cart.
"Main Street" They change the facades to be anywhere they want.

Unlike other studios, Sony doesn't have a big back lot.
Therefore, their facades are in front of real (studio) offices.
Sony pictures is on the lot that was once MGM (where the Wizard
of Oz filmed). They built this recently as part of an art in public spaces thing.
Supposedly you can see it from anywhere in Culver City.

 As part of the tour, you get to go on one of the sound stages. Usually, it is either for Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. Wheel of Fortune was filming while we were there so we couldn't go on that stage (the red light came on while we were outside of the studio, but that was part of the tour where we weren't able to take pictures (another part was when we saw the actual Oscar statues that Sony Pictures has won for best picture). We did get to go on the Jeopardy sound stage though.

The stage was being cleaned and reset for the new season.

Too bad it's not for real!
They used this stage for Sports Jeopardy and were getting it ready for the next season of the original Jeopardy. Everything was on the stage except for Alex Trebek's podium.

The Emmys won by Jeopardy
They had vehicles from Breaking Bad too, but those didn't mean
anything to me.
While that's all I have pictures of, that's not all of my trip to "Hollywood" (most of this isn't actually in Hollywood). On Tuesday (the day before yesterday), I attended a live taping of the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing. It was so much fun! I arrived at the parking garage (some studios have free parking for audiences and some do not) and had to first check in there with my ID to get into the garage. I followed the directions for parking and the going to audience check in. When I got to audience check in there was a woman (she'll be important much later in the story, don't forget her) who asked me about what kind of ticket I had and then directed me on where to go. I checked in (they say to print out your ticket, but you don't actually have to - everyone else had, but I hadn't). I got number 83 and waited in line. After a very short while (not everyone there had gotten to check in yet at this point) they started leading us through the studio lot to the sound stage. The set was too main parts - one was the house and the other was part of the Outdoor Man Store. Since there is more that is regularly in the show they must have another set somewhere else. There were some scenes that had already be recorded and were shown to us as playback (these were mostly filmed elsewhere).
After about 30 minutes they had all of the audience speaker and the warm-up, Allan Murray, introduced himself and the DJ (Clark somebody). He explained how he had prizes to give away and performed some comedy, explained about laughing and showed us how he had a deck of cards that he would give away for laughing a participating. These cards would be used to give away the prizes (that included everything from an autographed script, to $50 Target Card to an iPod shuffle). Next, we viewed an episode from last season and then it was about time to begin.
There was some sort of delay on the making of the announcements. During this, and all the pauses between scenes, Allan Murray would perform different sketches and incorporate the audience into a separate show from the one they were filming. I sometimes wondered if it wasn't distracting to the crew, several times I saw crew members watching the audience show (hopefully they were just people who were waiting and not people who were supposed to be doing something at that time).
They announced the producers, directors, writer of this episode and then the cast. Tim Allen took a few minutes and spoke to the audience and then they began filming. They filmed each scene more than once with small changes, including sometimes changing the jokes. Sometimes, they didn't film the whole scene again, but just a part of it. Of course sometimes the actors messed up too. That was funny in itself.
The show was film was filmed in order, except for scenes that they had filmed before and played back to the audience to score the laughter.
While the whole thing was a lot of fun (and even included a bottle of water and pizza) there were several really interesting events. One was when they called for a scene and there was a ringing sound. You could tell the warm-up and the DJ were at first worried it was coming from the audience (I think the DJ was the first to notice it), but it was quickly clear it wasn't coming from the audience, but the crew couldn't find the ringing. They were looking all over the set, it was really quite funny. If I heard right it was an alarm because the gas was on (I guess on the stove - a little scary if you ask me).
Another funny moment was toward the end there was a pause and Tim Allen was joking about being Santa Claus with some of the kids who were extras in one of the scenes.
All in all it was so much fun that I not only went to see what other filmings I could fit into my schedule (and that had tickets available), but also added a couple more episodes of Last Man Standing. I don't know though if I'll actually be able to make those because that (and Instant Mom and Baby Daddy which I have tickets for) films at 6 pm and I have to work until 4 pm.
Today, I did something else quite interesting (and still on this Kristin goes to Hollywood theme), I attended a rehearsal for America's Funniest Home Videos (AFV). Saturday begins the taping for the 26th season of AFV and they have a new set and a new host. The new host is Alfonso Robiero (Carlton on Fresh Prince of Bel air). With a new host and a new set they needed a rehearsal to determine where things need to be placed, how to film their shots and even for Alfonso to have a chance to practice his marks, lines etc. For this they needed a small audience (at least 15, there were 19 of us). They had us stand an sit in many different places as they practiced the shots. They used a stand-in for Alfonso named Buddha and we were the stand-in audience. Then after about an hour Alfonso himself came and practiced. In between things he chatted with the crew and with us. It was a lot of fun. We talked with him about his children (he has 3: 12, 21 months and 3.5 months) and he told us a story about his worst fan stalking incident (I don't think it's my place to share online, but it was crazy! I couldn't believe someone would cross the line that far). I also chatted with some of the crew and they had people still working on the sets as we were there. It was cool.
My ticket had said to arrive 60 minutes early and listed the time as 10 am. So I arrived at the studio (which is very close to my new school) about 15 minutes before 9. Apparently, I was early enough that security didn't know what to do with me. The studio information said that if you were going to a filming on the weekend to park in the studio parking garage, but for a weekday filming to park in the Marriott garage and there was a gate right beside the garage. Yesterday, however, I received an email telling me to park in the garage. When I got to security and they didn't know what to do with me, I of course got nervous. They made me do a U-turn and wait outside the gate while they checked. Then they motioned me back in line and I was given a pass into the garage and told someone would meet me on the first floor. After parking I got to the first floor and found Tomeka, the audience coordinator. I spent a long time talking to her (the others came in a group of 14 and a group of 4) and discovered she's the boss of the people in charge of the audience for several things including Last Man Standing (she was the woman at the table I spoke to), Instant Mom and Baby Daddy. When I expressed my concern about not making it to the Instant Mom filming on time next week because of work she said if I told her I was coming for sure she'd mark my name and make sure I could get in. I didn't have a chance to tell her that I would do that, but I hope to have a chance to speak to her about it on Saturday. Now you're thinking, "Saturday? What is she talking about now?" Well, Saturday is the filming of the AFV that we rehearsed today. Tameka said she was in charge of seating the audience and told me if I really dressed up she could hook me up with a good seat. Hopefully that'll work out. I've picked out my outfit and I think the likelihood of that occurring is high because not only did she say that, but she asked the others if they were coming (they aren't) and confirmed which one I was coming to (there's 2 filmings on Saturday) and said that the stage manager (a woman named Geri) was asking. 
So there you have it, not everything I've done (kind of hard to believe after all that, isn't it?), but Kristin's adventures in Hollywood. Tomorrow I start my first day of work with New Teacher Orientation...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The first seven days

Sometimes it's hard to believe that I arrived in Los Angeles just last Thursday, and other times it's difficult to believe that it's already been seven days. I have accomplished so many things in seven days, but I still have so much to do that it feels overwhelming at times.
I landed about 8:30 am on Thursday morning. I took the Avis shuttle to their rental area, rented a car and was at a bank in Redondo Beach by 10:30 am to open a bank account. Opening an account (and having the funds ready right away to pay cash for a car) was more difficult than I thought it would be. It also didn't help that I was so tired I sometimes had trouble seeing straight. I ended up spending about 2.5 hours at the bank on Thursday morning, plus going back briefly on Friday morning to finish things up and Friday afternoon to get the cashier's check. Each time I went back the security guard remembered me an remarked about my being back.
After ensuring that the funds would be transferring from my credit union in Alaska, I went car shopping. I bought a 2013 Ford Focus (picture below) with lots of really cool electronics. It's rather neat to have all these new-fangled gadgets. My newest car before this was a 2003 so I upgraded by 10 years. At the dealer I got my most expensive free meal ever (they have a cool cafe there and they gave me a coupon to eat there).
I couldn't drive two cars at once so I left the rental car at the dealer and drove my new car to the home where I was staying. The lady I was staying with had had to work on Friday (and on Saturday), but I was hoping she'd be able to go back with me to return the rental car. Unfortunately she was out and when she got back she was waiting for a friend to deliver a desk she'd just bought. She offered to squeeze it in anyway, but I told her the dealer wasn't far from the airport so I would just return the car and take the public bus back to the dealer. We ended up having a really fun evening talking with her friend and her friend's son. It was nice to just hang out with people.
Saturday I returned the rental car. I was hoping to get money back because the rental contract was until Monday morning, but I was concerned that I wouldn't get any back because it was already Saturday afternoon (car was due back about 9 am on Monday) and there hadn't been a price difference between a Sunday morning return and a Monday morning return. I was excited that I got a little over 45% of my rental price back!
While I was waiting in line at Avis there was a German family that came in. One of their little boys commented (in German) that the line wasn't long, there was only one woman in front of me. Me being me I couldn't resist playing with the kid, so I turned around and said to the kid (in German), "I'm not one woman, I'm three woman. Don't you see them?"A moment later I turned back and told the kid I was kidding of course. After I finished returning the car I asked the woman at the counter about the best way to get to a bus stop. She spoke to the shuttle driver for me and he told me to sit near the front of the bus and he'd let me off at the city bus station. As I was waiting the German family came on the bus and sat next to me. The mother said (in English), "Are you American?" "Yes." "We thought you were German, but you can speak German?" "Yes." After that she switched to German and said, "So we can speak German?" I had a fun, but brief conversation with the family (it didn't take long to get to the bus station). I do wonder though what changed their mind from thinking I was German to asking if I was American. I guess they probably overheard some of my conversation at the counter...
After I picked my car back up, I went to the beach. I had a nice relaxing time at the beach (if you're going to live only a few miles from the beach you have to go there after all). I put sunscreen on, but unfortunately while I was laying on the beach either my shirt rode up or my pants rode down, but the strip of sunburn on my stomach made it clear I had unknown separation there - oops!
Sunday, I went to the same church I had gone to when I was apartment hunting. I spent half an hour after church speaking with the pastor. I really feel God is leading me to this church.
Sunday afternoon the woman I was staying with and I went to an El Salvadoran street festival in downtown. My new friend's air conditioning wasn't working so I drove. I had thought I would avoid driving into downtown LA (take the metro), but what did I do, but drive in my first weekend! I got to try some tasty food and had a great time. Afterwards we drove out Pallos Verdes Peninsula.
Monday I began my A.P. Chemistry workshop (it runs Monday through Thursday) and signed my lease and "moved" into my new apartment. I put moved in quotation marks because I only have (currently) the things I brought with me on the plane.
I've spent the last few days getting necessary items like soap, shampoo, sponges, paper towels, cleaning equipment etc.
Today I also added Internet. My Internet here is more than 16X the speed of my Internet in Nome with unlimited usage (I got 15 GB per month in Nome) and it costs about 45% less than I paid in Nome. This means that as I've been typing this my iPad has been streaming videos next to me.
Overall, things have gone well so far, but there is still much to learn, do and just get used to (including my new job, which I haven't started yet).

I thought the clouds as we descended into LAX were really cool looking so I took a picture.

My new car!

From the Palos Verdes Peninsula

Me on the cliffs