Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Continuing To Support My Friend’s Place (or Learning New Ways To Help Others)

I’ve written a few times in the past about My Friend’s Place. It’s an amazing organization that helps homeless youth in Los Angeles. So many organizations to help the homeless focus on adults and their needs. So it’s great that there is a place for homeless youth to get support and services they need. They do such a great job with providing education, health services, housing information, and other services that homeless youth need. Every time I have things to donate I bring it there since I love the work they are doing. I always just wish that I could do more to help.

At the SAG-AFTRA Convention, we encouraged delegates who were staying at the hotel to donate their hotel toiletries if they didn’t need them. Since My Friend’s Place has shower facilities, toiletries are needed so they have enough supplies for everyone who wants to clean up there. When there have been National Board meetings in LA, board members from other locals come and stay at a hotel here and they have been encouraged to do the same. We’ve managed to collect quite a nice collection of things to donate from people at the union.

I also had some things from friends who knew that I do donation drop offs. Sometimes people just need a way to be able to make a donation easily and don’t have the time or ability to do a drop off on their own. So this week, I went along with 2 other members of SAG-AFTRA to do a drop off of the things we collected.  It felt so great to be able to go with lots of donations even though most of them were from other people.

A lot of times when I do drop offs, I just bring things over and then head back. But this time we had some time to be there and I’m so glad that we weren’t rushed. We got to check out a new thing that My Friend’s Place is doing called the Corner Collective.

The Corner Collective is art, apparel, housewares, and jewelry that was made by the youth at My Friend’s Place that is for sale. Artists come in from time to time to teach a class and then the youth get to create their own work. And now, they are selling them so the youth are able to gain new skills like marketing and are able to gain confidence knowing that what they create is valuable. I know it must give them so much pride to know that someone is buying what they made. And I bet that confidence and pride can be shifted into other areas of their life so they can continue to make steps to getting a job and getting a place to live. It’s such a great idea and I love that we were able to see the work that was for sale!

We also found out that they are going to be doing their 30th anniversary gala on April 7th. It’s going to be held at The Hollywood Palladium and I’m definitely going to see if I’m able to attend. I’m sure it’s going to be an incredible event and I know that supporting such a great organization is something I want to do whenever I can.

I wish I had the ability to donate more items to My Friend’s Place because it is an organization I believe so much in. But since I can’t give as much as I’d like, I figured I could help continue to spread the word about them and the work they do. I found out about them through someone telling me so hopefully I can inspire others to do the same. They have a list of donation items that they are always looking for on their website. I know that some people have been hesitant to donate to certain organizations because of how they may use the donations. With My Friend’s Place, I know that the things we drop off go directly to the youth that they support in Los Angeles. There isn’t a corporate office that determines who gets what. It all goes right there and is used by who needs it first.

If you are in Los Angeles, please consider donating to My Friend’s Place the next time you have items to donate. Or if you have to buy a gift for someone, please browse what The Corner Collective has available and know that your gift will go to support the homeless youth in Los Angeles. And if you are interested in attending their gala, there will be more information on their website soon.

Bonfire At The Beach (or A Winter Birthday That Feels Like Summer)

My friend Dani had a  birthday celebration at Disneyland last week, but she was celebrating a milestone birthday so she had to do multiple birthday parties (which I totally support!). She had been trying to figure out what to do for her birthday and she finally decided on a beach bonfire! I hadn’t done one of those in a while, so I was super excited to get to celebrate with her that way.

I had a few things to do before meeting everyone at the beach and the sun was setting as I arrived. It was a gorgeous sunset and I’m glad I didn’t miss it!

And since we’ve been having a bit of a heat wave lately, it wasn’t that cool on the beach when the sun set. Dani and her friends had gotten there much earlier so they already claimed a bonfire pit and had everything set up. It was a much better setup than when I’ve gone before. They had chairs, blankets, and a table for all the food. And the fire was going by the time I joined them all.

It was just a good old-fashioned classic beach bonfire. They had hot dogs that we roasted over the fire and lots of snacks to have with them. And we also had s’mores. Dani recently got nice roasting skewers so we didn’t have to search the beach for sticks or anything. And all the food was so good, even if I did burn a hot dog or two. There were a few hot dogs and hot dog buns that fell into the fire, but it just added to the flames. But watching everyone have random fails with trying to cook the food gave us all a good laugh.

From the beach, we were actually able to see the glow from the fire in Ventura County. It was weird to see that and it reminded me how close the fires are to us. The fire closest to me is not as bad as it used to be, but the fires that are a bit further are still not contained and houses are burning down. And we also saw fireworks from Marina Del Rey from our beach. It was a weird juxtaposition to see the glow from flames plus fireworks and having a bonfire on the beach. I think we were all a bit weirded out by that, but we tried to not think about it too much.

But what was best about Dani’s birthday party was just getting to have a fun nice relaxing on the beach with awesome people. I didn’t know a lot of the people who were at the party so it was nice to get to meet new people. And Dani was just so happy to see people from different parts of her life joined together and having a good time. I can totally relate to that feeling because that’s what makes me so happy when I’m hosting a party too.

I had a date about a month ago where I was telling the guy I was with that I never made it out to the beach during the summer and I figured it would be a while until I made it out there. I never thought I’d have a bonfire on the beach during the winter but it really was awesome and I’m glad I got to get to the beach. I know I need to take advantage of being so close to the beach more often but it’s not something I think of doing on my own. So I’m glad that Dani wanted a beach bonfire birthday so I got out to the beach at some point this year!

Southern California Fires (or Some Ways To Help)

Even if you don’t live in Southern California, you’ve probably heard on the news that we have multiple fires happening right now. While wildfires are something that we get from time to time, this time it seems different. Having multiple fires at one time isn’t the norm. But also they seem to be surrounding us.

There is a combination of things that are happening that make things worse. We had a good rain season this past winter so there is more plant life around than there was when the drought was at its worst. But since our summer was hotter than normal the plants all died which left dried plants everywhere to catch on fire. The humidity in the air is lower than normal so the fire risk is higher. And we currently have the Santa Ana winds which are very strong and are blowing the fires and embers into new areas. All of that combined means that the fires are big, tough to fight, and keep moving.

There is a fire up in Ventura County near where my brother and sister-in-law live. My brother was working at his hospital the first day of the fire and things were getting pretty bad then. He hasn’t worked since that day, but the fire continues to get worse and more out of control. Their home should hopefully be fine, but it’s still scary to see the fires getting closer to them.

I have a lot of friends in the valley who are on evacuation watch. Hopefully those fires won’t get into their neighborhoods, but even without there being a fire it is still difficult to breathe. The smoke is pretty thick and the wind doesn’t seem to be clearing it. The smoke and wind are the problems that I’ve been encountering. There is a fire near my gym and that smoke has come over to me. I’ve been trying to stay inside but since my house doesn’t have the best insulation it smelled smokey inside my house.

And I’ve had some family that was evacuated because the fires are in their neighborhood. We are all very hopeful that their house will be fine. There was a fire in that neighborhood about 70 years ago and their house was still standing because it was built out of stucco and not wood. We don’t know when they will be able to go back home to check on their house, but I hope that it is soon so we can find out what their next step is. And we all just want all of the fires to be out so more homes aren’t lost.

But the sad reality of these fires is that there has been loss of property, animals, and some people. And help will be needed because not everyone will be able to rebuild on their own. I read one news story about a family that just closed on the purchase of their house last week and it burned down this week. Hopefully they had some sort of insurance, but insurance doesn’t always cover everything.

There are a couple of ways to help. If you live near an affected area, there may be volunteer opportunities but it seems like a lot of those are filling up quickly. I’ve seen people who are buying bottled water and leaving them near where the firetrucks are so that the firemen fighting the fires have water. But with many disasters the best way to help is with money. Organizations that are set up to help with disaster relief need funds and they will know where to put that money toward.

The Salvation Army is a good place to donate. They’ve been setting up shelters around Southern California and many people in the shelters have no idea when they can go home or if they will even have a home to go back to. And there are so many animals that have needed to be evacuated. Many of these are larger animals like horses that need to be transported to a safe area and that is not cheap. So the Humane Society is accepting donations to help animals affected by the fire. There is also the Southern California Wildfire Relief page through the California Community Foundation. That page has a lot of different places that are providing help and offering information to those looking to find out what is going on.

I don’t know how much longer the fires will be burning, but the relief efforts are going to take a while. There is no quick way to rebuild someone’s life after a fire has taken everything. If you have the ability to donate, please do. I know that is what I will be doing it when I figure out how much extra money I have in my budget this month. I know that there have been so many natural disasters lately and it can seem overwhelming. But hopefully the links that I’ve provided can help you find where to donate so that you can help those affected by the fires happening all around Southern California.

Another Happiest Place On Earth (or Working On Episode 300)

I spent Monday at Disneyland which is the happiest place on earth. I totally agree with that statement, but there is another place that makes me just as happy as Disneyland. And that is being on a studio lot. The best is being on a lot because I’m working as an actor, but that isn’t as often as I’d like. But anytime I get to be on a lot seems so magical and there is an energy there that I can’t get anywhere else.

I was lucky to get to spend a day on the FOX lot recently, and it was for a pretty special reason. We’ve officially started working on the 300th episode of the podcast I work for! It seems like it was just our 200th episode, but we will be releasing our 300th toward the end of this year. I can’t share too much about our episode yet, but it’s a pretty involved one that required us to start working on it this week.

Both of the hosts and I were able to be at FOX to work on the episode this week. And it was a pretty amazing day. The person who we are interviewing gave us a great tour of the lot. There are so many areas of the lot that I haven’t been to yet because I’m normally only on the lot for auditions (which are usually located in one area).

While we were getting our tour, we were also doing a bit of an interview which will be a part of the 300th episode. We got to check out various production offices and meet so many people who are a part of the show that the person we are featuring in the episode is a part of. I’m sorry for being so cryptic, but we aren’t releasing much information about this episode yet. But I have to say getting to watch Trevor and AJ interview people all day was really fun and I love the questions that were brought up.

There were so many highlights to our day on the FOX lot, but one of the coolest moments came when we were getting a tour of the wardrobe department. There is a room that has lots of costumes that were used in major projects and we were just in awe. But the biggest collection of costumes in that room were superhero movie costumes. Of course, we had to take advantage of the Deadpool costume that was in the room.

It was pretty crazy seeing all the costumes and seeing how tall or short various actors are. It was a bit overwhelming, but so much fun at the same time.

While we were on the lot, we also got to watch a table read for the show we are featuring. It is a show that I’m familiar with so it was fun getting to watch all the actors perform the script for the first time. And it was a very funny script and we were all laughing out loud so many times. It was a bit weird being in the room since we were guests and most everyone else was working on the show, but we were in the back and I didn’t feel like we were in the way so that helped.

We were on the lot for about 4 hours before we had to go. But this is only the beginning of working on our 300th episode. We are supposed to be on the lot again next week to watch some filming (and hopefully to interview more people) and there will be some things happening when we aren’t on the lot. It’s crazy to think that we are already working on this episode when it won’t go live until maybe the beginning of December, but this is a major episode and it will probably take all the time we can get.

I think the combination of getting to be on a lot for the day plus the excitement of our 300th episode coming up made this day such an amazing experience. I know that this is just the beginning and I can’t wait until we get to do more work on the episode and I get to have more days on a lot. It really proved that it is one of my happy places and I want to have more days like this one.

An Epic End To The Pantages Season (or We Aren’t Going To Throw Away Our Shot)

This past Sunday was the final show for my group in our current season at the Pantages. While we are a bit sad our season is over, we already have bought our season tickets for next season and we are really excited for that. But what was even more exciting was that the final show for the season was Hamilton! Getting to see Hamilton was the reason many people got season tickets this season. But I think all of us in my group were just excited to see all of the shows. Hamilton was just going to be a super amazing addition to the season!

And as we have done with the past few shows, we went to dinner at Wood & Vine before the show. And Wood & Vine just introduced a new menu with their new chef so we were ready to try some amazing new food and to have some of our favorites! Everything on the menu looked incredible, but we had to try to limit ourselves to make sure we didn’t feel overstuffed while at the show.

We ordered some veggies because they sounded delicious and they were a lighter option. The squash had an amazing butter sauce with some cheese and they were perfectly cooked so they still had a bit of crunch to them. And the carrots reminded us all of eating Honey Nut Cheerios! It was so crazy how sweet they were without having the sweetness overpowering the flavor of the carrots.

And while we knew we’d be ordering the bone marrow again, everything else that we got was something that was new to the menu. We were also able to have the tuna tartare, pork belly tacos, and the branzino filet.

And as we expected, everything was just incredible. I only had a taste of the tuna as it had a chili sauce on it and I’m really sensitive to spicy food. But it was really good and everyone else loved it. The pork belly tacos were so tender and the sauce on it was really refreshing. And the branzino was flaky and so flavorful! And of course, the bone marrow was out of this world! We had 2 orders of it and between the 4 of us the bones looked like this within minutes of the plate being brought to us.

When the bones were empty, Dani and Michelle decided to order some shots to have with the bones. They were actually talking about doing this the night before at my party so it was pretty funny that they were getting to do this. Doing a bone luge is a thing, I just hadn’t heard of it before they were talking about it at my party. If I knew I could handle a drink, I think I would have joined in with them. But it was cool getting to watch them and they seemed to really like it (even if it was a bit messy).

We also got to try some of the new desserts! They have a buttermilk panna cotta now which had berries on top. But what was our favorite was the new Nutella bombshell (and yes, I loved that it had bombshell in the name)! It had chocolate cake that was light and fluffy topped with Nutella mousse that reminded us of the texture of ice cream but was room temperature. It was so good that I can’t even think of better ways to describe it! And we also were given the butterscotch that we’ve had in the past but now it comes with maple ice cream which was loved by all of us.

Then the chef, Jennifer O’Neill came out to the table. It was wonderful to meet her and we were so excited to tell her how much we loved the food! And we got to learn about some things that might be coming up at Wood & Vine that we can’t wait for. I can’t share that stuff yet, but trust me I will as soon as I can!

After dinner we headed across the street for the show. We couldn’t believe it was finally time to see Hamilton! We ordered our season tickets about a year and a half ago and it seemed like we would never get to this date. And we were all remembering how we realized at my birthday party last year that it marked one year until the show. And it was finally here!

The energy in the theater was electric. I think everyone was just so excited to see the show (it only opened 2 days before so it was still very new to LA). The 4 of us kept saying how we couldn’t wait for the show to start. Michelle and I both have listen to the music from the show (many, many times) and have seen videos as well. But Dani and Elisa both tried to avoid seeing stuff about the show ahead of time since that’s how they like to see shows. But we were all equally ready for the show to start.

And I’m happy to say that all the hype about the show is true and more! I don’t know how to explain how amazing this show was and how it really is an incredible piece of theater. I wish that more people could see it because it’s that great. I know that ticket prices are high and there aren’t enough seats for everyone to see it now who want to. But hopefully eventually with the tours more people can experience this show.

While it’s a pretty long show (almost 3 hours when you include the intermission), it doesn’t feel like that at all. It goes by so quickly even though it is a very full show. I could see how there could be so much more show that I’d want to see and now I’m even more motivated than ever to finish reading the book that the show is based on (I’m about 1/4 of the way through the book).

I think all of us agree that this was such a highlight of what ended up being a pretty amazing season at the Pantages. We are all hoping that we will win the Ham4Ham lottery so we can go see the show again. It’s in LA for a few months so there’s a chance that at least one of us will win. But no matter what, we are all so grateful that we were able to see it with our season tickets!

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Family Brunch (or Sibling Catch Up Time)

Even though all my immediate family lives in CA, I don’t see everyone that often. I was lucky that I got to spend about a week with my parents recently, but that was only because that was when I was supposed to have surgery and they weren’t going to cancel their trip here. Usually I see my parents maybe 4 times a year and it’s mostly when they are down in San Diego. But I do talk to them on the phone pretty much every day so at least I’m catching up with them that way.

My brother and sister-in-law live in Santa Barbara which is only about an hour an a half away from me. But between them and me, we all have pretty crazy schedules. So even with them being so close I don’t get to see them that often. The last time I had seen them was Thanksgiving and there was a chance I wouldn’t see them again until this Thanksgiving. They were going to come down here for the day if I had surgery and was in the hospital, but since that didn’t happen they didn’t make it here.

But my brother and sister-in-law were in LA for a wedding this past weekend and they invited me to get brunch with them on Sunday before they drove back. Of course I said yes because I need to take advantage of any time that I get to hang out with them. I don’t get to talk to them that often on the phone (again, we all have crazy and conflicting schedules) so I’m not as caught up with them as I am with my parents.

They suggested going to Momed in Beverly Hills for brunch. I had never been there before, but I’m always open to trying new brunch places! And it’s not too far of a drive for me and I wanted to go somewhere that they wanted to go since they don’t get to LA that often. They made reservations for us on Sunday morning and I was excited to get to see them.

I got there before they did and sat at a table outside. It was pretty nice being able to sit outside and even though it was a hot day it wasn’t too bad that early in the morning. And I like being able to people watch because it’s always interesting to see who is out and about on Sunday mornings. I only was there by myself for a few minutes before my brother and sister-in-law were walking up the street to meet me.

They had just gotten back from a trip so they were telling me about their vacation and the vacation that they are planning for later this year. And they were telling me about the wedding that they went to the night before. Then they asked me about everything going on in my life. I still don’t feel like I have a ton of updates on my life beyond saying that I’m working on getting things back to normal. I filled them in on the plan for the tumors and that I should be having another MRI in the fall to make a new plan.

My sister-in-law was also curious about my adventures in online dating. She had seen some posts of mine on social media and wanted to hear more of the stories. My brother didn’t really want to hear about it so we had to wait until he went to the bathroom so I could tell her more of the stories. But they met online so I think they feel like it’s very possible for me to meet someone amazing online so that’s good.

Since they had to drive back home that day, we didn’t get to spend too much time at brunch. I did have an amazing meal though! There were a bunch of Mediterranean dishes on the menu, but I went for something a bit simpler. The potatoes had a really nice spice on them and everything else was basic breakfast food. But that’s exactly what I wanted for my brunch.

We were only at brunch for a little over an hour, but then we all had to say goodbye. My brother and sister-in-law did walk with me to where I parked my car because they hadn’t had the chance to see my new car yet. I think that they both liked the car and agree that it is a major upgrade from my old car. I think I’m still getting used to having a new car and having the chance to show it off to family members who haven’t seen it yet keep the car feeling new to me.

I’m so glad that I was able to see my brother and sister-in-law for brunch. I know we all need to work a bit more on trying to meet up more often, but we all also understand that our schedules aren’t the easiest ones to work with. We don’t get upset with each other if we only see each other 2-3 times a year even though they live so close. And while I’m hopeful I’ll see them again before Thanksgiving, November will probably be here before we know it and I’ll see them (and my entire family) again then!

Book Of Mormon and Marrow (or Another Night Out At The Pantages)

This past week was another show for our season at the Pantages. This time, we were seeing “Book of Mormon”!. Usually our shows are on Sundays, but because of some scheduling issues we had to move our show. So we went this past Thursday and it ended up being such an awesome night out!

It was a bit weird having the show on a Thursday because once I was done with work it almost felt like a Sunday to me. I had to keep telling myself that it was Thursday and tried to keep doing my usual Thursday stuff I have to get done. We knew that there would be traffic getting out to Hollywood so we ended up meeting a bit earlier than we probably needed to at my house to carpool out there. But one advantage of Thursday night shows is that we were able to park at a parking meter! We normally can’t because of the timing of Sunday evening shows, but it was nice to only have to spend $4 in parking at a meter instead of $16 to park in a garage.

As always, the 4 of us went to dinner before the show. And because we had such an amazing time at Wood & Vine last time, we knew we’d have to go back there! The last time, it was raining so everyone was seated inside. But this time, it was a really nice evening and we were seated outside on their patio.

Sitting inside was fun, but I think I might have liked the patio a bit more. It’s always nice getting to sit outside and it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of Hollywood. It was quiet and peaceful back there. And we were told that sometimes they screen movies back there! We were all saying that we would have to find out when they do that and go back for sure!

Ever since our first time at Wood & Vine, we have been dreaming about what food we were going to get the next time we were there. We decided to start with some things we’ve had before and some new things so we can see if we have some new favorites.

But of course, what we have been dreaming about the most and what we knew we’d be ordering for sure was the bone marrow!

This time, the bone marrow was served a bit differently but it was still as delicious as we remembered it. We got 2 orders since there were 4 of us (last time 3 of us shared 1 order and it almost wasn’t enough) and it was the perfect thing to share. It was so creamy and flavorful and I’m already craving it again! There’s something so decadent about getting bone marrow and it feels like a real luxury. But it’s actually not that expensive (at least not at Wood & Vine) so it’s nice to have an affordable treat.

After eating all that, we were all pretty full. But then the manager came over and was chatting with us and asked us about what we wanted for dessert. We said how we were debating if we had room for dessert and he said that he had already placed an order for our usual. And to our surprise, they had treated us to all 3 desserts from the menu again!

We were not expecting to be treated to dessert again and we didn’t really plan our dinner to be having dessert. But even though we were all so full, there is always room for delicious desserts! We dug into all 3 of them and agreed that they were all amazing and so worth feeling super full.

This meal was just as good (or maybe even better) than our first time to Wood & Vine and we already know that we will be back before our next show this season. And we are talking about very possibly going there before every show next season as well. I just can’t believe it took us this long to discover this amazing restaurant!

We had taken our time with dinner so we were walking over to the show with only a few minutes before curtain. Fortunately, it only takes a minute or two to cross the street and we were at our seats right before the show started.

Since this wasn’t our normal night for our season tickets, we weren’t in our normal seats. But these seats might have been a bit better. They were similar to our normal seats (2 seats in 2 rows one behind the other) but a bit further back than we were seated for the other shows. But because we were farther back we had less of an obstructed side view. But even with the slightly obstructed view, I was so excited to see the show this time because the last time I saw “Book of Mormon” it was from the very back of a theater. So being up close was a nice change.

When I saw the show in NYC, Ben Platt was in the cast. He’s an incredible actor who is now a Tony winner. I had said to my friends that I felt a bit bad for this cast because Ben Platt is a tough act to follow. But this cast didn’t disappoint at all! They were amazing and they had some really fun and different takes with the characters. It almost didn’t feel like the same show because they had so many unique things that made their characters their own. Also, I felt like the choreography was very different from the Broadway show and that adding to making it feel unique and different.

We were all laughing so hard at the show and it was so much fun seeing it again now that I knew what to expect. It was totally a perfect evening out at the theater. We’ve only got one more show in our season (finally seeing “Hamilton”!) and then we’ve got 5 months after that before our first show in our next season. It’s so crazy to think that this season is almost over. It felt like it wasn’t that long ago that we were thinking that we still had a year before seeing “Hamilton”. Now it’s just over a month away!

A Universal Evening (or Checking Out The Castle)

One of the fun bonuses for having an annual pass for Universal Studios is that they do some preview events for passholders from time to time. And pretty soon after renewing my pass, I got my first preview event invite. This time, it was for the upcoming light show that they are going to be doing on the castle in the Harry Potter section of the park.

When they originally announced the new light show, my friend Michelle and I realized that it was going to be starting after our passes were blacked out for the summer. So when we got the preview invites, we jumped at the chance to go and signed up! We had a viewing time of 9:20pm for the show, but we figured we’d just go to the park after we were both done with work and have some fun before the light show.

We got to the park around 5pm and found a pretty amazing parking space (which doesn’t always happen at Universal since they aren’t as great with their parking lot as Disneyland is). And since we were both getting a bit hungry for dinner, we decided to make a stop in CityWalk before going into the park since the food is a bit better there.

We went to DongPo Kitchen where we had gone once before. They have amazing green beans that we were both kind of craving. We decided to get those again along with some chicken and pork belly and had a pretty awesome meal!

We then headed toward the front gate of the park where we had to check in for the preview event and get our wristbands. We also got coupons for 20% off a purchase in the park. I didn’t think I would be purchasing anything there (I’m really trying to not shop as much), but it was nice that they gave us those as a perk.

Michelle and I weren’t sure what we were going to do at the park. We only had about an hour before the park closed (the preview event only had the Harry Potter section open) and we were debating on what we wanted to ride. And as we passed the Special Effects Stage, we realized the show was going to start within a few minutes. I hadn’t seen the show in about a decade, so we decided to go in and check it out.

We were sitting on the side in the front, so it was a bit tough to see everything. But we could still see a lot and I noticed how much they’ve changed the show. It’s pretty awesome what they do now and they have real stunt people in the show doing stage fighting and lighting themselves on fire. It’s a big improvement over the old version and I have a feeling I’ll be checking it out again.

When the show was done, we only had about 5 minutes until the park closed so we had to pick one ride to do. And we figured since The Simpsons ride was right there that we would do that. The line wasn’t too bad and we got to cut ahead a bit because they were looking for a group of 2 to fill up one of the ride vehicles. And after waiting only maybe 10 minutes, we were inside the building waiting to go on the ride. I love the little digs at Disneyland attractions that they have inside there!

When we were done with that ride, the park was officially closed so we walked over to the Harry Potter section. There were 3 showtimes for the new light show (8:40, 9:00, and 9:20) and we figured we’d try to watch it at least twice. But first, we wanted to ride the Harry Potter ride which is one of my favorites.

As soon as we got off the ride, we headed outside and the light show was starting! We couldn’t really be in the viewing area since we had a different showtime, but we had a pretty great view from farther back!

And as soon as that show was done, we made our way to the front of the reserved viewing area to see the show from up close. The show is only about 5 minutes so I’m glad we didn’t really have to wait in a big crowd to watch it. It’s pretty awesome and the projections are incredible up close, but I was a bit disappointed how short the show was.

We let the crowd clear a bit before we headed out. I’m glad that we were able to go to Universal and considering that we were only in the park for about 2 hours I think we got quite a bit done. I won’t have a chance to go back for a while unless they do bonus days for passholders (which they do from time to time). But if this is my last visit for a while, I would have to say it was a pretty great visit and I feel like I got everything done that I wanted to do.

Gospel According To First Squad (or Enjoying A Play Reading)

I am so fortunate that I get to go to a lot of shows in LA. Most of them are with my season tickets to Pantages, but there are a few random shows I buy tickets for. But it’s a rare treat when I get to see a show that a friend is in. Even though I have a ton of actor friends, most of us work in film and tv. I watch them on tv or see them when I go to the movies, but it’s not the same as seeing someone in a live show. But this past weekend, I had the treat of getting to see some friends in a show!

The show was “Gospel According To First Squad” and the hosts of the podcast I work for, Trevor and AJ, were in it. This was a reading of the play, but I had seen this play performed previously. When I saw it before, it was actually the first time that I had met Trevor and AJ in person. I had been listening to the podcast (before I worked for it) and they mentioned doing the show. I got tickets, loved the show, finally met the guys, and soon after that they brought me on as the production coordinator! So it was pretty fun to get to see the show again.

The reading was held at the Kirk Douglas Theater which is pretty close to my house. Since it was a reading with general seating, I got there early because I wasn’t sure what the seating situation would be like. But it ended up being held in the rehearsal space in the theater so it was a nice intimate venue. I found some of the other people who work for the podcast and we all decided to sit together. And since it was a small venue, Trevor and AJ were able to see us all there supporting them right before the show started.

“Gospel According To First Squad” is about the war in Iraq and it’s a pretty serious play. But even though it’s a serious show, there are some fun comedic moments. Some of the cast from when I saw the show years ago were in this reading and some of the cast were new. But it was still such a powerful performance even with all the actors just standing and reading instead of acting it out fully like I had seen before.

Of the group that I was sitting with, I think I was the only one who had seen the show before. Since it had been years since I had seen the show, it felt new to me too. But I do enjoy getting to revisit shows (or books or movies) that I’ve seen before. I always seem to pick up on new things or view it a new way when I’m experiencing it again. There were some moments that shocked me the first time I saw it that didn’t shock me this time, but it was still powerful and I’m so glad that I was able to see the show again. And since it was a reading, it was recorded so others will be able to enjoy it in the future!

After the show was done, there was time to hang out with everyone. I’ve had the chance to see AJ a bit recently because he has been at a few SAG-AFTRA events with me. But it had been a while since I had seen Trevor so it was great to get to catch up in person. If you listen to Inside Acting, you hear them call me out from time to time. It’s usually when they aren’t sure about something and they figure I will know. I’m known for texting them when I’m listening to the podcast (I’m not there when they record the bookends to our interviews) with corrections and stuff. I think they get a bit of a kick out of me doing that and it’s almost a joke between us all now.

I joke online that these guys cause me so much trouble and frustration, but the truth is I love them both so much. Because of them and the podcast, I’ve gotten to do great things and be a part of something that I truly feel passionate about. I’m so grateful that I’ve been the production coordinator for as long as I have been and I can’t wait to see what the future of the podcast brings for us. We’ve got some really great things in the works (including our 300th episode this fall!) and being able to support Trevor and AJ in any way I can makes me so happy. It’s nice that I got the watch them perform because I know it’s something they both love and I hope that I get more opportunities to do so in the future.

Another Netflix Night (or A Comedy Panel)

Recently I wrote about going to the Gilmore Girls panel that Netflix had put on. That was an awesome night and I had so much fun there. I knew that Netflix was doing an entire series of events, but I figured that going to that one was the one chance I was going to have. But last week, I got an email from the SAG-AFTRA Film Society letting me know that I could RSVP for another one!

This time, I was invited to a panel of comedy shows on Netflix. This panel included Alan Yang from “Master of None”, Bill Burr from “F Is For Family”, Chelsea Handler from “Chelsea”, Judd Apatow from “Love”, Marta Kauffman from “Grace and Frankie”, and Victor Fresco from “Santa Clarita Diet”. Even though I don’t watch all these shows (although they have been on my list for a while), I was so excited to go and hear what they had to say!

I had the option to bring a guest with me, but unfortunately none of my friends could make it. I used to attend events like this alone all the time, but I’ve gotten used to having someone with me. But I was solo for the night and that was ok. I was able to get in line pretty early so I figured I’d be able to get a great seat. I wasn’t worried about seeing all the Netflix stuff in the space since I had seen it the time before, so once I got inside I immediately headed to the panel area.

So many of the seats were reserved so it was pretty limited seating. But I found what seemed to be a pretty great seat and was happy to just sit and wait for the panel to start.

Since I was alone, I spent the time waiting for the panel reading and working on my phone. They did have food and drinks like last time, but I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t get anything. But it seemed like the snacks were different and they had some sort of fried chicken thing instead of the hamburgers they had at the other panel.

When it was closer to the time that the panel was going to start, people started to come sit down. I’m lucky I got a seat because it felt like about half the room ended up standing in the back the entire time. But because I was sitting and the seats were on a flat surface, I ended up not really having a view of the stage. The guy in front of me was pretty tall and most of the time I was just staring at the back of his head.

But it’s ok that I couldn’t see anything since I just wanted to listen to the stories that the panel had to share. It’s always so inspiring to hear people talk about projects that they have worked on and what the challenges were that they had to overcome. It makes me feel that I’m doing the right stuff when I hear others who have had the same struggles that I have had too. And I love hearing about how working on a streaming network like Netflix is different from a broadcast or cable network. Streaming is still a newish thing but it’s nice to learn about the common things most shows on streaming networks face.

The entire panel was about an hour-long, but I wished it could have been longer. There were so many people up there and I wished they could have had more time to speak. But it was a nice sample of learning more about each of them and it got me feeling like I need to watch more of those shows on Netflix soon. I’m behind on Netflix shows, but since summer is usually quiet for most tv shows I follow I know that I will be catching up soon enough.

Once the panel was done, I decided to wander around the various setups for the Netflix shows to see if anything was different. Most of the stuff was the same, but some were moved around to different areas of the space so it felt new. And of course, I had to stop by my favorite thing from last time: the bubble wall!

It was a different color this time (last time was more blue) so of course I did a mini-photo shoot in there! I don’t know why I love that bubble wall so much, but it just makes me happy!

It was feeling a bit crowded in the space and it was a bit awkward hanging out in there so I decided to head back home. I know that I should be ok at events like that alone, but it’s not as fun when I don’t have someone enjoying all the cool stuff with me. Hopefully if I get invited to more Netflix events I’ll be able to bring another plus one with me.

But even with not really doing much else beyond sitting and listening to the panel, I have to say that this was another amazing night. I love getting to be a part of events like this and it motivates me more and more each time I get to see people who have had success like I dream of having one day.