Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Los Angeles - New Beginnings

I started my new job at Disney a week after my return to LA.  It was a fun first couple days filled with Corporate niceness as only Disney could deliver.   We had a day of orientation complete with a free lunch. 

My orientation was done in the screening room of the old Animation building.  It was here that Walt himself sat in review of the work of his staff.  It is amazing to think that a company of small beginnings has grown into the largest media empire on the planet!

Animation has moved to new digs, so I won't be seeing dailies in this historic theater.
Instead, I will be working here!  It is a wonderful piece of whimsical architecture owing much of its design sense to 50s-60s streamline modern.  Complete with a wizard's hat, which served as Roy's office until he passed away.  The building is named in his honor.

Most importantly, I received the dream of every Orange County child - My Own Silver Pass.  I can now go to Disneyland anytime I want to (excluding certain Block Out days)!

And of course my very own Disney name tag.  Classic!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Saying Goodbye to London

 The time to say goodbye to London and some dear, dear friends finally arrived.  I spent my last week having lunches with lots of friends and wandering around some of the streets which had become so familiar over the last 3.5 years.

In all, I managed to hit 16 countries in my time in Europe, and the magnet board I setup when I first got here is full.

I got to spend an evening with my friend Max and we got to take in a Shisha Pipe over in little Turkey in Dalston. 

It was a fun, if cold evening and a memorable time.

For my last day of work, I got together with a bunch of friends at my favorite Pizza place in Soho, Made in Italy.  They make awesome wood fired pizza. 
 It was a great evening of fun and friends.

For my last big meal, we went to my favorite steak house, Hawkmoor.  Yes, they do great steaks in London.  Our old friend Mark and my friend Nick and his girlfriend Ghislaine joined us for the occasion as they are huge fans of the restaurant.

We had a wonderful meal and a lot to drink, and then it was time to say goodbye.  I hope to see all my friends from London again.  

Monday morning, February 4, came way too early, and it was time to pack everything up.  The trucks to move everything to the crate to ship all of our belongings back to Los Angeles arrived at 9am. 

There was tremendous packing fury, but soon the apartment we'd lived in for 3.5 years was empty. 

Pepper seemed to wander around the apartment wondering where everything went.
 The following day, we took care of a lot of final business.  We turned in our Oyster Cards, and had the dogs cleared for travel at the vet.  We made our way to the airport and had a wonderful final drive by of Big Ben and the buildings of Parliament.

We dropped the dogs off at Virgin Cargo, and got ourselves checked in.   The dogs would be traveling in a heated and pressurized section of the plane.  Their seats were actually a lot more expensive than ours believe it or not.
We splurged a little bit and got premium economy, which made the long, long trip a little more bearable.   Still a long and uncomfortable trip.

Our flight was aptly named 007.  Fun.  It was surprisingly cold on our arrival in LA, but after a bunch of craziness, we tracked down our dogs at Virgin Cargo, cleared them with US customs, and we were all reunited again. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Shard

AS a result of the redundancies at Double Negative, a series of events ensued, and I was contacted by Walt Disney Feature Animation.  At the beginning of January, I accepted their offer to return to Los Angeles and take up work at their studio. 

For our last weekend in London, Tony and I celebrated some of our favorite restaurants, and also went to see the newest skyscraper in London - The Shard. 

We reserved tickets to go to the top of The Shard to the observation platform.  The half hour slots go quickly, so you need to reserve your time in advance. 
 It was evening, and the views of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Tower Bridge were wonderful. 

 It was a neat vantage point of many monuments that I'd seen from the ground level, but now could see them from the air.

Redundencies and Departures

Double Negative went through a large series of redundancies(layoffs), and many of the people that were laid off were dear friends. 
It was sad to see so many great artists and friends leaving the company.  As our presence in the UK is based on employment at a UK company, without that employment,  all foreign nationals have only 60 days to leave the country.

Some landed jobs at other UK companies.  Most of these people were UK citizens, and many of the others took positions at the new VFX companies forming in Canada. 

I hope that we will all have the opportunity to work together again.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ireland - Belfast - The Titanic

 We took the morning train from Dublin to Belfast.  It was inexpensive, and we'd set up our return flight to fly out of Belfast.  We were staying right across the street from Belfast City Hall - the site of many an uprising in the past weeks just prior to our trip.  Luckily, all was very peaceful the weekend we were there. 

The Albert Memorial Clock Tower is a very cool Victorian structure.  It has a bit of a lean however.
 Tony and I stopped in for a break from the Irish damp weather at The Crown Saloon, which is a beautiful Victorian pub, which somehow managed to survive all of the bombings across the street at the Europa Hotel.  It is a wonderful throwback, and a lovely place to have a Hot Whiskey to shake off the chill.

It doesn't take one long to find a Titanic tribute, as the Memorial Statue is on the grounds of the City Hall.

The main purpose of our trip to Belfast was to visit the Titanic Museum, which occupies a space on the Harland and Wolfe shipyards right next to where the hulls of the Titanic, and her sister ships, the Olympic, and the Britannic were built. 

The exhibit is more a salute to the amazing ships built by Harland  and Wolfe Shipyards over their 100+ year existence. 
 The most famous ship that they built is undoubtably the Titanic.  They do a great job explaining the process of how these large vessels were built over 100 years ago.
They have one great view at the museum, where they show where the ships were built, so you can picture what it looked like at that time. 

 Nothing remains of the construction location except the foundation of the structure and a memorial to the ships, which show an outline of the size and shape of the hull.  Even though it was sleeting, it was neat to walk around and get an idea of the size of the vessels.  An amazing achievement for that time.

Just across the street from the museum is the original design building where Thomas Andrews would have worked on the blueprints for the Titanic.  Unfortunately, this isn't open to the public.

The Museum also talks about the numerous Titanic movies over the past 100 years.  Included is the James Cameron version which was releasing on BluRay at that time, so several costumes from the film were on display. 

Belfast still takes great pride in the fact that they built the Titanic, and they should, for as they say, "it was fine when it left here".  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ireland - Dublin - The Quick Tour

We basically had 1 solid day in Dublin, so we hit most of the sites with the exception of the Guiness Storehouse in that one day.  Dublin is a beautiful old city filled with history and all of the major sites are situated on a big traffic loop serviced by a tourist "Hop On/Hop Off" bus.  We purchased a 2 day pass, which we used for the time we were there.

Our first stop that morning was St. Patrick's Cathedral.If we were to visit one church on this trip, this was the one to see.  It is a beautiful atmospheric cathedral housing the remains of Dublin's favorite son, Jonathan Swift, who was Dean at the cathedral for many years.

From there we visited the Kilmainham Gaol, but after that we needed some libations, so we stopped in to try out the national drink of Ireland, Irish Whiskey, at the old Jameson's Distillery.

Tony was selected to be a whiskey taster, and sampled whiskeys from Scotland, America, and Ireland.  He learned to recognize the difference, and surprise, surprise, he liked the Irish Whiskey from Jamesons best.   I discovered that I liked a Whiskey London style, which is Whiskey and Gingerale.  Very tasty.

I learned how to make an Irish Coffee, which involves placing some sugar in the base of a cup adding some hot coffee to dissolve the sugar, then add a bit of Irish Whiskey, then floating a layer of fresh cream on top.  It resembles a glass of Guiness.  It was a perfect drink to have on a cold wet Irish afternoon.
For our last evening in Dublin, we went to a dinner at the oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head, where they were having an evening of Irish History and Storytelling.  It was a great evening where I had a chance to learn a bit more about the Irish, the Potato Famine, and Fairies.  I'd highly recommend it to everyone.
I had the chance to try the national dish, Irish Stew, which was very basic and good.  As they explained that evening, the Irish have never been known for culinary flare, but they do have a history for homey stews.