July 19, 2013

5 Reasons That Yesterday Rocked My Socks Off (and also one of the longest blogs I'll probably ever write...PHEW)

"These are the moments, I thank God that I'm alive,
These are the moments, I'll remember all my life!"

This week, my dad's had some time off and it has been a wonderful time being able to have him around during the week, because that rarely happens. He works so much and hardly ever gets to take a vacation, but he was able to this week. We've been doing little things around the house and taking care of things that need to be done, and yesterday, we went to LA for the day, which honestly could not have been a better day...Unless, I would have casually bumped into someone like Sophia Bush...But, you know what I mean.

1. We took a tour of Warner Brothers Studios, and it doesn't matter how many times I've done it, I'm still so fascinated by the fast pace life of everyone putting their creative juices together to make something really magical in TV land...Or movie land! Every time you go is a little bit different than the last, whether it's stories and experiences your guide can offer or visiting different locations that weren't available last time due to filming.

At the beginning of the tour, they always ask for favorite shows of everyone on the tram. My mom and I told them Gilmore Girls and Pretty Little Liars, so our tour guide was great about spotting out places that had been used on those shows, and of course, many other famous locations as we went. Although, I felt like because we had been on the tour so many times, I could have given the tour or quickly told my parents other things we'd seen in the past, judging by the area we were in. We drove around the "New York" backlot complete with alley's, apartments, and even the subway station, or at least a facade that looks like it leads to one. It's pretty realistic from the idea of New York I have in my head (I've never been to the real thing...So the one in my mind will have to do for now!)
Hollis College (used on Pretty Little Liars)
We made a few turns, driving past the commissary that the Warner Brothers cast and crew can eat at for lunch, and was also used in an episode of Gilmore Girls when April and Luke go on a field trip with her school. After a few minutes of driving, we ended up in "the jungle" section of the lot. Before pulling into the long driveway, we saw several set walls on a truck for Hart of Dixie, as well as George's boat. We had been to parts of the jungle before, but because of Pretty Little Liars and Hart of Dixie are using new sets in that area, I was really excited to explore different parts of it. There's a cabin in the back that has been used on several occasions for Pretty Little Liars and is also the Rammer Jammer on Hart of Dixie. It's such a pretty area. I think if I worked on the lot, I'd sneak over there just for the shade. 

Jason and Ali's house from PLL!

As we left the jungle, we turned onto a street lined with cute little houses that looked like something out of a movie, which is fitting, because we WERE on a movie lot. But, the funny thing is that they aren't houses at all, but they're working offices for production, casting and writing, which is where a lot of the meat of the show and magic really takes place. I love the fact that Warner Brothers uses EVERYTHING on the lot, whether it's a random tree or a pretty building. All of the sets are so versatile for whatever they need. 

Christopher's house (Gilmore Girls), Hanna's house (Pretty Little Liars) and also the writing office of Friends all 10 seasons. 
I believe this was the PLL writing office??
We pulled around and ended up in the "midwest", which is a small town setting that can be used as anywhere, USA. Also known as my favorite part of the lot, because two of my favorite shows have used it as a big portion of their backdrop, which would be Stars Hollow, CT and Rosewood, PA. We parked the tram for a few minutes and were able to wander around the streets for a bit. So, of course, I snapped several selfies wherever the opportunity presented itself-past store fronts, Rosewood High, Rosewood City Hall, the Growing Pains house, and of course, a staple in town, the church. I've been in the town square so many times, it's really starting to feel like a real functioning town...Ah, if only. We walked down another side street and into the house of Sookie St. James (Gilmore Girls), where we observed how the inside of a TV house worked and how different it is, judging by the ceiling, fake wood flooring and other features that just wouldn't work while filming. We walked around to the back porch, and suddenly we were on the steps of Lorelai and Rory's house. On the last tour we took there a couple years ago, they told us how the Gilmore and Sookie's house were connected, but it was cool actually being able to walk right through it. We had several minutes looking around the yard, and I just had to be the last one finishing taking pictures, because I'd never gotten a picture in front of Babette's house...oops! That was a little awkward as everyone stared, waiting to walk back out. YOLO! So, after we walked back out to the front and completing a circle around "town", we got back on the cart and continued our


The back of the PLL church!
We drove past the strip of sound stages and important looking people on mission, and went inside the automobile museum. It has a range of famous cars from Get Smart, Scooby Doo, and Chuck to Harry Potter and the Batmobiles. We glanced around, but didn't take many pictures this time around and opted out of the free photo, since we aren't Potterheads. Then, we went into the prop house, which is filled with thousands of artifacts and memorabilia from shows and movies over the years. The coolest thing about it is that you don't have to work on the lot or even be in the industry to rent props from the warehouse...So, if you want to throw a party and have some cool items to impress your guests, all you have to bring is the money! ;) My favorite part of that portion of the tour is always the famous Friends couch and Central Perk set. I love that they've preserved everything and it has stayed the same since the show went off the air in 2004, except for the guitar that Phoebe played in the coffee shop, because Lisa Kudrow took that home with her when they wrapped the series.

Pretty Little Liars was filming around the area at a soundstage nearby us, but we never saw anyone, unfortunately, which was a bummer! I kept my eyes peeled, though. I did see a prop full of trucks outside setting some things up and taking things out; probably things they were using for those certain scenes being filmed in stage 7.
We hopped back on the cart, and stopped at one of the sound stages, which happened to be for the set of Two Broke Girls. I've never seen the show, but I always love getting to see how different shows' setup works and to hear stories of how they do things, because each one is different.
At the end of the tour, they let us wander through another museum filled with costumes and props from some of their most popular shows and movies, including my favorites: Gilmore Girls, The Vampire Diaries and One Tree Hill, so I was pretty much freaking out and wishing they would let us take pictures, but security was way too tight to even think about sneaking it. There were also costumes from Gatsby, Crazy/Stupid Love, Batman, Smallville, The Big Bang Theory, and more.
After we wrapped up the tour, we drove past some of the sets/stages we had passed earlier and back across the street to the gift store/check in area.

2. After WB, I wanted to drive by Paramount Studios to see if they had done anything in honor of Cory Monteith's passing, so we did. There was a small area where you could see fans had left cards, posters, and flowers, but the thing that hurt to see the most was the Glee foam finger. I just remember taking the tour a couple years ago and hearing what a great guy he was from the tour guide and me really wishing that they had been filming that day so I could've ran into him. It definitely made it more real. I'm not gonna lie, it has really been weighing heavily on my heart and mind this week, and judging by the social media...I'm not the only one.

3. By that time, we were starving for lunch, so we decided to eat at Mel's Diner, because it has been on my list of "places to try in LA" for quite some time now. It wasn't busy, so we got right in. Obviously, it's a diner, so it has things like sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, etc. I had a turkey melt, which was pretty good, just a little dry...and it came with potato salad, which was delicious; had a bit of a kick with bell peppers and other seasonings. SO GOOD!

4. After we finished eating, we had several hours to kill, so my dad suggested Runyon Canyon. I was all for that, but the downside is that we never seemed to be dressed for the occasion, so we always look a little out of place, but it was still just as fun. We didn't walk as far as we did last time, but we took in the sunshine and soaked up the gorgeous view of the city for a few minutes. I also loved the fact that it wasn't busy either, so there was room to spread out a little more.

5. After spending some time in the heat, I was quickly crashing and dying for some sugar. We didn't have anything else in mind, so we just decided to get to The Grove a little earlier. After spending so much time there after American Idol and signings, I thought I'd get a little bored, but there's always something to do there. First, we walked across the street to get VIP passes for the Sara Evans concert, then got yogurt at Pinkberry, which is seriously the best (well, at least tied with Sweet Cece's)! It was tasty and refreshing; we sat at the tables and relaxed for a few minutes, then walked around to look at a few stores. I spent awhile in Barnes and Noble...I seriously just love books! I ended up buying a writer's devotional, which I'm really excited about trying out and practicing my writing techniques. 
We also took a little ride on the trolley, which we'd never done before; always fun for people watching!

Around 6:30, we checked in at the table in front of the stage; got our wristbands and got FRONT ROW to see Love'N'Theft and Sara Evans...and did I mention it was FREE?! Cause it was. Does it get any better than that? An announcer came out and talked to the crowd a little to get everyone warmed up and music was playing over the loudspeakers. We got settled in, and pretty soon the show started up. Love'N'Theft took the stage with a short acoustic set, which seemed to really get the crowd singing along and having a great time. They sang their radio hits and a couple new songs that I'm really digging! The weather was perfect and it was a really great night for good music and good company. I didn't have a care in the world. 
Finally, Sara came out and I was really excited! She sang just about all of my favorite songs and did a few covers on some of my favorite songs at the moment, including, "When I Was Your Man," "Just Give Me A Reason" and "Everybody Talks." I mean, she seriously can sing anything! I'm really glad she has new music coming out, because she totally deserves to be up for some of those awards! Great entertainer, incredible singer, and seriously good music. She sings with such emotion and heart in her voice too. "A Little Bit Stronger" definitely almost had me in tears. It was so cute to see her daughters off to the side, singing along and copying her every move. Maybe we'll see them in the music biz someday! OH! I also can't forget the fact that Vince Vaughn was not too far away from us at the concert...I'm not a huge fan of his at all, really, but you never know who you're going to see around there. I only saw him for the first song or two, and then I think he took off. 
When the concert ended, we went up to the stage and I was able to get the set list! I was super happy about that and have now added it to the back of my door with autographs and passes. 

We drove home after that, grabbing food at Jack-In-The-Box and listening to Sara Evans in the car! I was having some crazy emotions, because a couple songs made me quietly tear up again as I sang along to every word. It had me thinking a lot about life and some of the events that have taken place this week and how I want to really live. I'm tired of taking the backseat in my own life and just watching life pass me by, waiting for that golden opportunity when I can take action even in little things right now.

I went to sleep last night feeling very blessed, and I will be holding the day very close to my heart.

That's all for now,

July 15, 2013

"Took the midnight train, going anywhere..."

As I sit at the computer, trying to write something profound to say in the midst of this situation, my heart is extremely heavy over Cory Monteith's passing.

Saturday night, I was on my way home from L.A., getting ready to pull off the freeway with my family in Valencia, when I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline (don't worry, I wasn't driving). I saw several tweets from people freaking out that Cory Monteith had died. I just rolled my eyes and got really annoyed, because usually it's from a source that no one has ever heard of and everyone believes it right away because they see it on the internet. Calm down people, is all I was thinking at the moment. I figured it was just another hoax from some dude living in the basement of his parents' house and didn't think anything of it. We went into Wal-Mart and did what we needed to do, and I kept looking at tweets. And pretty soon, Cory's death was starting to spread. I saw the confirmation on The Hollywood Reporter and soon after...E! News; pretty reputable companies when it comes to true facts and details, and that's when I figured it really must be true. I couldn't believe it.

I was a really big "gleek" the first two seasons of the show, because finally it was a show all about music and being the underdogs of the school, which was something I could relate to, being that I was in choir for two years. Cory is the main reason I kept watching Glee, even when I started to get a little bored with it (at least for awhile) and felt like it was the same thing over and over again. I was rooting for his character to pull through. I wasn't always a fan of "Finn" or the choices he made, but I was a fan of Cory; a good actor, who seemed like an even better guy.

He always seemed like such a nice, down-to-earth guy, and from all of the interviews and reports I've been reading over the past couple days, he was exactly that. No one has had a single bad thing to say about him, which just really makes the whole thing even harder. He had checked into rehab for a drug problem awhile back, and had seemed to be doing better. Him and Lea Michele seemed extremely happy together every time they were photographed out and about, and he just seemed to be in a really good place. And then this happens.

I'll never be able to make sense of deaths that just seem to happen too soon in life, especially when they seem to be fluke incidents, but I know God has a reason for it in there somewhere. That's the only I thing I can think that would pull someone through a situation like this. Faith in God. He was only 31 and was just getting his life together and figuring out what he wanted, and in one day, he's gone just like *that*. I can't imagine the pain Lea and his family must be going through right now, and they will definitely be in my prayers.

I never had the opportunity to meet Cory, and now I am really wishing I'd been able to. I only have a couple real memories to share of coming in contact with him. I saw him from afar on the red carpet at the People's Choice Awards in 2010, I think it was, and I think this picture seems to sum him up pretty well. My parents and I also took a tour of Paramount Studios (where Glee films) and our tour guide was telling us that when the cast was around filming, Cory would come up to everyone and say 'hi' if he was around, and that always spoke volumes to me. Most actors who come in contact with tour groups would never take the time to do that because they're just focused on what they need to do and don't want the distractions that groups can bring. It just always gave me a pretty good impression of the kind of guy he was. After that, I had added him to my "list of people to meet." Now, I'll never get the chance. And I think it's really sad that sometimes we don't actually realize how special someone was until we do our research after they're gone, with celebrities, relatives or friends. When we realize that we don't have them anymore to use as a resource and ask them ourselves, it makes our research that much harder, because we can't learn from them anymore. It wakes me up to wanting to find out who a person is before they leave this earth.

Cory, you are definitely missed. The entertainment industry lost so much on July 13th, but I'm pretty sure his memory will live on forever for all that he did accomplish in his short time here. I think in honor of him, I'm going to try to catch up on Glee and at least watch his best scenes. I'm curious to see how the show will go on without him in season 5, but it's a little soon to be thinking about any of those details now as his cast and friends grieve their loss. 

That's all for now,

P.S. Do you have any memories of Cory or any great encounters of meeting him? Share them with me in the comments below or on Twitter (@ShelbyN92).