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I watched Julie and Julia today. Naturally, I felt terribly for neglecting my blog and so, here I am, updating.

Class 2 is all wrapped up and tonight is my first Q and A for Class 3: Advanced Body Mechanics. I am going to miss my Class 2 Mentor and classmates. Having a mentor from Australia just makes Q and A’s so exciting, we always had the most fun talking about animating. This term my Mentor is Mark Pudliener, and I am SO pumped about this. He started his animation career working on some of my personal childhood favorites: The Care Bears Movie, An American Tail, The Land Before Time (the original, before they made about a hundred more), and All Dogs Go to Heaven! And also spent tons of time working at Disney, on Hunchback, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and he even working on my favorite sequence from Fantasia 2000 “Rhapsody in Blue,” as well as another favorite Disney film, Meet the Robinsons. Basically what I’m trying to say is my mentor for this term worked on a majority of the movies that made me fall in love with children’s animated features. I have so much pressure to do well this term to impress this guy who has worked with some of the best animators in the industry, but it’s good pressure. Just don’t expect me to be very social for the next three months…

Other than AM excitement, my life has been basically normal. My week off was great. Relaxing, but now I’m very spoiled, and it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things. I went into the city to see “La Cage Au Folles” with some friends. I was very disappointed when it didn’t live up to the amazingness that originated from the musical, The Birdcage, but I suppose I shouldn’t have expected Kelsey Grammar to really be able to live up to Robin Williams. Douglas Hodge, winner of the Tony for Best Lead Actor in a Musical, was missing from our cast, so really the whole chemistry of the show felt very off. I will say it was a DREAM to see Robin de Jesus (of CAMP fame) playing the part of the maid. He was hilarious and incredible, and almost as wonderful as Hank Azaria, and it was especially entertaining to see so many beautiful lady-men dancing around the stage. They were all fabulous, and so cute when we waited at the stage door. Yes, we waited at the stage door. And waited. And waited for Master Kelsey Grammar. About an hour after waiting and waiting, I finally threw my hands up saying, “You know, he wasn’t even good enough to make us wait this long to see him!” to which my dear friends replied, “Seriously, when he comes out, he’d better be Kristen Chenoweth or something!”

That’s all for now. More frequent posts will happen. I promise. I know all three of you reading want some new posts!

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I’m back from a week in Orlando, and as most Orlando vacations go, I’m in desperate need of a vacation from my vacation. A trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is always totally magical, but very exhausting. We got to stay in my FAVORITE resort, the Polynesian. I always feel like I’m home when I go to stay at the Polynesian. It just has a completely different and wonderful atmosphere than the rest of the on-property hotels. Can you really beat a 24-hour yummy quick service place like Captain Cook’s right in the hotel, or a view of Cinderella’s castle while taking a dip in the pool, not to mention being right on the resort monorail line.

Also, I got in the rest of my hours for the year at Kilimanjaro Safaris! I’ve clocked in exactly 41.5 hours for 2010, which means I get my little 2011 sticker as well as all the wonderful discounts that come with it for all of next year! It’s always so weird going back to work, especially because I know maybe two people that are still working there. Also, did you know that drivers are supposed to STOP on the ride path now? Yup. Ten different times for 5 seconds each. My first day I had no idea of this (because as long as you were there within the last six months, nobody feels the need to tell you anything), and was basically on the butt of every truck in front of me. The next day I came in and finally saw the sign explaining that trucks were now supposed to stop, and I spent the next two days at work completely mortified that I had to stop my truck. Old habits sure do die hard.

The rest of the trip was very magical. One plus of going to Disney with my aunts is that you’re always at the parks by park open. I saw the welcome show at the Magic Kingdom, and practically started crying when all the characters cam riding out on the train (including Tiana and Naveen!! Eeee!!). I also got to experience Captain EO as a more sophisticated adult, since the last time I saw it I was probably about two years old, and it was absolutely marvelous. Seeing MJ preform while he was still so young was incredible. Not to mention he had an awesome t-shirt on, that I somehow resisted buying, but will most likely own if I move down to Orlando.

Although Captain EO was life-changing, there were two even more magical moments. The first was at the Living Seas, where we were lucky enough to meet Leslie. She brought us up to the top of the tanks at the Living Seas Aquarium. It was totally awesome. I love being in backstage areas. Even as a cast member, I get seriously geeked out about being places that guests are not allowed. The second happened on our first day. We had taken the bus from the Polynesian to Hollywood Studios only for me to realize that I had completely forgotten my Main Gate pass. Total bummer. I felt so awful and I was so stressed out about having to wait for a bus to come get me from Studios and then wait for another bus to come back to the Polynesian to bring me back. By that point, we would have definitely missed our breakfast reservations. Then Maria came along, she was this saint in a Transportation role in charge of deploying buses. When she couldn’t get a bus to come pick us up to bring us back to the Polynesian, she told us all to pile into her van and she was going to bring us back to our hotel to get my pass. She was a complete life-saver. And this my friends is why Disney is so incredible. No other place has guest service like that. Especially no other theme park.

I got to experience Summer Nightastic as well. This was quite fun, although none of it was really new, just a bunch of old shows and parades from past night shows. Like the fireworks from the Pirate and Princess parties and the Main Street Electrical Light Parade. I especially enjoyed watching the parade. I think I liked Eliot the dragon the best! I took video of the whole thing, I will have to post it! I’m glad they will be keeping that parade around for longer than just the summer. I like it very much and think that kids these days really should learn who these characters are.

Anyway, now I am home, wishing I was still living in a world of fantasy, but there are more important things to worry about. Like getting caught up and back on schedule with Animation Mentor. I missed last week’s Q and A as well as a Toy Story 3 Q and A. Total bummer. But life goes on. I’ve got lots of work to do this week for class, like watching last week’s lecture. And on top of that it’s like crazy birthday week with my brother’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, and one of my best friends from college’s birthday. Crazy, crazy week.

Oh, and by the way, I fianlly found me on of those Mickey Key Lime Pies. Nevermind that they didn’t actually have a little Mickey Mouse made out of whipped cream, but it just wasn’t as yummy and satisfying as I would have hoped. Le sigh. I guess I’m just a cupcake and chocolate mousse kind of girl.

What a glorious last couple of days I’ve had.

This is Week 12 of Basic Foundations, Class 1, at Animation Mentor. The last three months have gone by SO FAST. I can’t even believe it. I’ve had such a great time and I’ve learned SO much! I cannot wait to begin Class 2, the Psychology of Body Mechanics. So fancy! I did well in this first class. I got all my assignments in on time, some better than others. I need to submit a progress reel of everything I’ve done by tomorrow at noon. I will eventually put it up here, but I’d like to get a lot of revisions done on my work before I do. And that’s what my week off is for! My goal for my next class: Become even MORE of a hermit (if it is even humanly possible). I spent about 10-15 hours every week on average on my work during Class 1. My assignments turned out good, and there were definitely a few that some students were impressed by, but I know my stuff could have been a hundred times better if I had just spent more time doing them! So, the goal is to try and hit at least 25 hours of work every week. I really want to squeeze EVERYTHING I can out of this class!!

Yesterday, Chuck and I did a tour de Bellport. We drove out to visit his grandfather and my aunt, who coincidentally live about six blocks away from each other. Small world. We got lunch at this place called Spicy’s. Now this place is basically a tiny hole in the wall, with a HUGE cardboard chicken on front beckoning you to come on in and have some fried chicken. It’s right next to the railroad and on the wrong side of them, if you catch my drift. The boyfriend SWEARS by their collard greens, so in we went to buy us some chicken with “spicy” sauce. Now, the sauce wasn’t at all spicy, but it sure was yummy. After 23 years of driving by the place I sure am glad I finally stopped in. Next time we go, I am gettin’ the wings!!

We met up with his grandfather, a self-proclaimed “hustler”, and heard some interesting stories about his dancing days in the Navy and meeting Frank Sinatra in a club. Old people sure are great and full of wisdom. Haha.

Today is an altogether INCREDIBLE day because it is the eve of the US opening of Toy Story 3!!! It has been 11 years since the last Toy Story, and tonight at midnight I will be going to see the third installment of this beloved trilogy in IMAX 3D. I think I just wet myself. For real.

Our plan tonight is to stop by Buffalo Wild Wings and then head over to this movie. This make me think of all those nights at B-Dubs with my CP friends, and about when we saw At World’s End at midnight the day before a bunch of them left the program. I miss them.

Anyway, I’m sure I will be back soon with a raving review of the amazingness that is Toy Story 3. For now I’m just gonna hang out with one of the big guys himself until it’s time to get moving!

Chillin' with Buzz. It's ok to be jealous.

You may or may not know that I am absolutely in love with all things Disney. So much so, that I even took a semester off from school in 2007 to do an “internship” there (aka Disney paid me next to nothing to work 30+ hours a week). That sounds crappy, you say? Hell to the no. These seven months were some of the best of my life! Working all day and then going into the parks at night to play with all your friends. Watching fireworks almost every night. Being amongst the last of the public to ride Back to the Future at Universal Studios. FINALLY celebrating my birthday in the happiest place on earth! Winning a “free” cruise to the Bahamas. Becoming best friends with a waiter at Friday’s and convincing his manager you were married to get free drinks. I made some of my most favorite memories while on the Disney College Program. I feel like everyone should do it. As miserable as it can be, the amazing experience that comes out of it far outweighs the drama and long hours of work.

Why am I so sickeningly reminiscent all of a sudden? Well, while on my program, I worked at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I drove an oversized truck and gave tours of our African reserve. In the reserve were zebras, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and giraffes. We had a super tall male giraffe named Asante, which is Swahili for “thanks.” And today he passed away from a serious neck injury. So so so sad 😦

If you want to read more, here is the link: Giraffe dies with broken neck

So this got me thinking of all the wonderful times I had while on my program, and I wanted to share some of them with you!

Here I am with my ill-fitting khakis costume and my truck!

Jambo everybody! Are you ready for a safari?

Just hanging out on show in costume!

Breakfast at Ohana, Ohana means family

Bryly and Kitty ❤

My hubby and I with our friends from Fridays!

Blue Man Group with some of my favs, Ry Ry, Jaclyn and Erin!

Ry Ry, my bestest friend on the program, we did everything together!

We were the second to last group of guests to ride Back to the Future before it closed!

Ry Ry and I on our cruise to the Bahamas!

We even jumped on hotel beds! haha

With the girls at graduation!

Hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane with me. I wish I could go back every day and be with my friends again working at safaris, but I know, just like Walt said, we have to keep moving forward and learn new things. I have been so blessed to have so many incredible and life-changing experiences, and I can’t wait to have so many more!

Love to all my safari friends. Kwaherini Asante, you will be missed out on the savannah. See you in two weeks.

AHOY!

This doesn’t have too much to do with animation (although I did get in some very key observation time), but last night the boyfriend and I went to a BEER GARDEN! It was so incredible and really brought me back to the time I spent in Europe two summers ago. The best part was that, although beer gardens are a huge part of the German culture, and it was set up as such, all of the food and beer that they served was CZECH! Not only could we get a pitcher of Pilsner (the original lager!), but we got a pitcher of Staropramen and we got to enjoy Goulash! Also, they were out of it last night, but they do normally carry Becherovka and serve Betons. It was heaven! We had such a great time, and even got to do a little bit of the “making friends with neighboring drunk people” game that is played so well in Germany.

This place was called the Bohemian Beer Garden and if you live in New York or near Astoria, Queens, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is a great place for big groups of people, and if you only have a few people to go with, it’s a great place to meet a ton of people and still have a great time! I so much want to go back to Praha, but it was nice to feel like I was there again last night and reminisce about some of the awesome times I had with my man.

In other news, I’m still waiting on my critique from Thea for my Week 2 assignment, but Week 3 has officially started at AM! I’ve watched half of the lecture on Planning and Blocking Methods, and this week I get to animate a bouncing ball! Totally awesome! Can’t wait to show you guys what I’ve done!

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