Monthly Archives: October 2011

Day 251. Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I’m going to keep going with Halloween, because I love it so.

Today, we went for a hike with our friends, Evan and Kerstin, went to church, watched a beautiful sunset over the ocean, and waited for Thai food forever.

Here are some ideas for Halloween this year, there’s still time:

-A modest slut. Everyone goes as a slutty nurse, or a slutty this, or slutty that, why not do the opposite? You wear modest clothes on the outside and slutty undergarments.

-You, without makeup. This one only works for women that wear a lot of makeup. Every so often, I’ve seen a picture of one of you without it and I can’t recognize you. Boom, Halloween costume.

-Moody’s Credit Rating Agency. You host a party and tell everyone that you will be in charge of regulating the quality of the costumes. Tell everyone that they are great when they walk in and give them a AAA rating. After everyone is drunk later in the evening from the alcohol you provided,  downgrade everyone’s costume rating. At the end of the party, everyone will get the analogy.

-Seal Team Six.

-Osama Bin Loggins. This is a mix between Osama Bin Laden and Kenny Loggins. Beard works for both.

-Drone Strike. You aren’t invited to the party, but you just fly through the front door and out the back dropping pinpointed Halloween candy.

-Double dip recession. You go to a party and hang out near the chips and salsa and keep sadly double dipping when people go by. It’s conceptual, no one will get it.

Dang it, I’ve got to run to improv class!

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Day 250. Halloween Pub Crawl

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I love Halloween.

When I was a kid we had a “dress up clothes” closet so we could do Halloweeny stuff year round. It was a small closet, but it was piled high with wigs, costumes, and my parents’ old clothes. We would often use items from there to dress up during other times of the year. One afternoon, I decided I would dress up as a door to door insurance salesman, not super creative, but believable. I got a big trench coat, a fedora, a shirt and tie, and my dad’s old briefcase. The topper was that I had my mom help me type some business cards. For the life of me, I can’t remember what my insurance salesman name was, but I wish I could. I recently found the wallet I used, which had a couple of business cards left in it. I remember going to my neighbor, Betty’s house in costume, in April.

I’ve envisioned telling that story to Terry Gross on Fresh Air when I become famous. That’s right, my fantasy is being on an NPR show. Hopefully, I would cry, Terry would ummm a lot, and I would end up sharing things I never shared before.

The point is I love Halloween so much that I tried to celebrate it other times of the year.

The last few years, my big Halloween tradition was to walk around downtown Springfield on the Saturday before Halloween and do man on the street interviews for The Mystery Hour. If you’re going to do man on the street interviews you hope for people to be unencumbered and loose, being in a costume and inebriated goes a long way towards making that happen.

Today, we watched an impossibly horrible Iowa football game, hung out for our friend, Gio’s, birthday, and hung out with our friends Heidi and Ben in their house that Michelle would like to annex for our own.

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Day 249. Michelle Arrived and Saved my Tetris Game

Friday, October 28, 2011

You know what’s better than picking your wife up from the airport after not seeing her for six weeks? Nothing. It’s the best. 

There really isn’t much that can top it. Most of the time I actually don’t feel super sad missing her, I kind of shut it out. It’s when I am with her that I realize the extent to which I shut it out and how much I am lacking when she’s not around. It’s like I’m playing Tetris and I’ve been holding out for a long piece. Michelle is my long piece. It’s such a relief when the long piece finally arrives. Here is the long piece arriving. As you can see, I hit the down arrow when she arrived.

We had a great day. We came back, dumped her stuff off and then walked down to Blu Jam, our favorite little breakfast place. Then, we came back to the house and took an awesome nap. This is a feature of our times together since I can’t nap without her around for some reason. I woke up and didn’t remember where I was, which puts it at a solid 3, one level away from 4, where you wake up with a drool spot. We drove to Manhattan Beach to hang out. I hadn’t ever been there and was tired of Santa Monica, the closest beach. We saw dolphins and little kids with sunglasses on, two of the most joy inducing things out there.

Then we played catch with the frisbee. One of the best features of Michelle is her ability to throw a frisbee. I love frisbee, but I had always assumed I would be stuck in a frisbee-less marriage someday. I had resigned myself to the idea. Then came Michelle with her surprisingly strong wrist and I knew she was the one. Seriously, though, for whatever reason there was something soul satisfying about playing catch with the frisbee with my wife on the beach in the late afternoon.

As the sun was starting to set we grabbed a seat at a restaurant/bar with a view of the sunset and the World Series game. I have to say I was torn about the game, on the one hand I’m a lifelong Cubs fan, so I’m not supposed to like the Cardinals, on the other hand I have a lot of friends that are Cardinals fans, and I wanted them to be happy. I ended up being happy they won, I think. Go National League.

Our night kept chugging forward as we hopped in the car to drive to Santa Monica to celebrate the game with our friends Evan and Kerstin, who are big Cardinals fans (well, Evan is a big Cardinals fan and Kerstin is a big fan of being married to Evan). After our great day and evening in Los Angeles, we were reminded of the dark side of Los Angeles as we ended up in traffic on the God forsaken 405, moving nowhere. We called to cancel our rendezvous and drove home, which took an hour and a half.

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Day 248. A Guide to Headshots

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hollywood is a place where actors take a variety of routes to success, but there are a few things you need to be on top of to be successful here. Maybe the most important thing you need in Hollywood is a great headshot. You need one for every audition, for every agent, and every connection you make. A headshot is your first impression. Casting directors are tearing through a lot of headshots and you need yours to stand out and communicate what you want it to. So, I decided I would make a guide for good headshots with some I took today.

Official Guide to Headshots

You want to have a good commercial looking shot for commercials, a dramatic shot, and one that shows some personality so you have choices for different situations. Here are mine.

 

 

 

 

You want to show a glimpse of your personality in your headshot, you’re not smiling for a class picture in school.

However, if your personality says, “I like to watch you sleep,” just skip the personality part.

You want to look friendly in your headshot, but you can smile too much and give the impression that you are the type of guy that collects vintage dolls and giggles too much.

A slight trick that will often be used is to be looking slightly upward to the camera. For most people this is their most becoming look. It helps to accentuate the eyes. Imagine that you are sitting at a party and are looking up, pleasantly surprised to see a good friend (the camera) walking towards you with a piece of cake.

Not so much that you are sitting at a party and are looking up, completely surprised to see your ex running towards you with a knife.

A headshot should be focused on you. There shouldn’t be too much background action. In fact, a headshot doesn’t even have to show your entire head. Maybe it just shows a scar you got on the bridge of your nose when you hit a ceiling beam while violently moving in your sleep twelve years ago on a bunk bed.

Take a picture that represents what type of role you think would be a good fit for you. Say you want to be an action star, don’t hold a gun in the photo, props looks unprofessional and cheesy. If you want to be an action star,  just shape your hand into a gun and have an intimidating look.

Maybe it’s your photo shoot day and you woke up with some blemishes. That’s okay, remember you can photoshop little blemishes out after the picture is done. Leave this in the hands of professionals, they’re detailed oriented, you won’t even be able to tell that anything was done to the picture.

This one may be the most important. For the love of God, get a picture in front of an old brick wall! This is Headshots 101, you have to have a picture in front of an old brick wall. The older the better, the more abandoned the better. Make people wonder if you were sitting on a rat, or a hypodermic needle when your picture was taken. Scientists don’t know why it is true, but everyone looks better in front of an old brick wall.

Everyone knows that sex sells in Hollywood. Don’t be over the top in your headshots, but feel free to be sultry. Everyone has a sultry side. There are two keys to being sultry. One, shadows. Two, squintiness. Do those and you have achieved sultriness and/or sleepiness.

Lastly, perhaps the most important thing that casting directors mention when evaluating headshots is how important it is that the headshot looks like the person. The person that they select from the headshot should look like the person that walks into the audition room. Your headshot should look like you! Be proud! Don’t try to be anyone else! You are you, and you may have exactly the look they are looking for.

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Day 247. Newsstand Guy

Wednesday, October 27, 2011

One of the things I like about big cities is the newsstands. In a lot of places, if you want to get a magazine, you have to go to a Barnes and Noble, and no one likes that. There is a newsstand in the mall where I work. It’s the place to get the thing that I love the most, sugar free Extra gum. They have dessert flavors now that taste exactly like the dessert that they purport to be. Mmmm…I’m thinking about them right now. By the way, have you ever considered how they can get gum to taste like apple pie? I have no idea how that works, I’m assuming magic of some sort, the good kind of magic, not the Harry Potter steal your kid’s soul kind of magic.

So, I was checking out, getting my gum and there was a dad and his little kid to my left, and the news stand guy to my right. The news stand guy is a shorter brown haired guy with a non-ironic mustache. Nearly 100% of the time, he has Lady GaGa playing while he works. The newsstand guy looked at the little kid and started out by saying something normal in that situation that quickly changed.

Newsstand Guy: Oh, he’s adorable.

Father: Thanks

Newsstand Guy: I would love to just take him home to my cats.

Father:

Newsstand Guy: Have you ever seen a little puss in four inch heels running around?

Me:

How do you respond to that as a father? On the one hand he’s saying your child is cute. On the other hand, he wants to take him home. On the other other hand, he wants to take him home to his cats. Nice to Bad to Weird.

This post will be interactive, what do you, the readers, think are the things in this man’s apartment? Nothing creepy for children, just what do you think a man who thinks so highly of his cats has in his place? I’ll start.

-One of the cats is designated as butler. He wears a butler’s outfit and Newsstand Guy has taught him to walk on his hind legs and carry a tray.

-The other cats have human names like Barbara and Tracy.

-Seasons 1-3 of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on DVD

Your turn, paint the picture of his place. I will take our predictions to him someday to verify the accuracy.

 

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Day 246. Weatherman Feud

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You really can’t argue with how awesome the weather is here, you just can’t. What makes the weather so great isn’t the fact that it’s warm and sunny all the time, because eventually you just get used to it, and you don’t appreciate it as much anymore. It’s like if you had ice cream everyday, it stops being a treat after awhile. What’s great about the weather here is just that you don’t have to think about it at all, especially as a bike rider. I never consider what the weather is going to be like later.

Being from the Midwest I know what it’s like to have a lot of different weather all the time, sometimes in the same week. I think that it just turned from summer to fall overnight in Springfield. The weatherman is much more important in the Midwest than here. I have no idea who the local weatherman is here, but everyone in Springfield knows who the local weatherman is there.

I like all of them back in Springfield, except one.

Dave Snider

Dave began a very public feud with me when I was doing my late night talk show, The Mystery Hour. I would like to share the clips of those atrocities now. Remember, only you can prevent out of control weatherman egos.

Note: These are some of my favorite bits ever from the five years of doing the Mystery Hour. Also, these are from before we had mics, and a good looking stage, and the tape from the first part of the first clip is messed up, bear with it, it’s only crappy for a little bit.

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

There you have it. Dave has since moved on to Alaska and I weep for them.

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Day 245. Confidence and Hollywood

Monday, October 24, 2011

Here is something I’ve been mulling about this whole experience lately. If you want to move to Hollywood and try to make it as an actor, your confidence has to come from somewhere other than your acting. This is true for a few reasons.

Many of us who move out here are here because we were successful in the place we were before, as nearly every place is smaller than LA, and every place surely has fewer actors. As you grew in success in acting, or improv, or comedy, you became known as the guy who is the actor, or improviser, or comedian. This was great because it nurtured you and gave you the confidence you needed to get here, but it proves difficult because, as it turns out, when you cross into Hollywood, the very thing that distinguished you where you previously lived is the thing that makes you undistinguishable here. It flips your understanding of yourself upside down.

I remember previously how much I liked it when I would meet people and they asked what I did, I would say that I work at a blood center, and often the person I was with would chime in with the fact that I was also an actor. The people would be intrigued by that because there aren’t that many actors back there. Now, if I mention that I’m an actor, people will shrug their shoulders, and I think roll their eyes, but they do it really quickly, so I can’t tell. It went from, “This is Jeff, guess what, he’s a comedian,” to “This is Jeff, guess what, he’s from a land called Iowa, or Ohio, or something.”

Your confidence has to come from somewhere else.

The extent to which your feeling of uniqueness is as a good actor, is the extent to which you will have difficulty confidence-wise in moving here. I don’t mean this in a judgmental way, I would put myself in there as well. It’s strange, and I want to run back to that feeling of certainty of my uniqueness sometimes, but, overall, I think it is a really good thing to wrestle with.

It’s not that you are constantly beat up here by any means, it’s the deafening noise of the lack of encouragement that is hard. After awhile, you learn to not get your hopes up too much for different auditions or connections. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s a realistic thing. It would be really strange if someone got cast for most of the things they auditioned for. I used to get positive feedback about my comedic acting abilities in doing improv shows twice a week for six years. Now, I maybe get some laughs once a week in improv class, that’s it. No one tells you if you did well in an audition if you don’t get the role, and no one tells you that you did horrible, they just don’t tell you anything at all. Also, you see other people who are acting in film and television, or improvising, or doing stand up, and you wonder what sets them apart that you lack.

Your confidence has to come from somewhere else.

I think the roller coaster of confidence here is the most difficult part of doing this whole thing. The more your confidence and assurance is derived from somewhere else, the more you can succeed and sustain here. I think this is why I’ve seen people value friendship so much here, because it provides people with an encouragement system. Find friends, find God, find work.

My brother, Jon’s, in-laws make a special dip. They call it Nikcevich dip after their last name. It’s a special recipe that they made. Our family gets excited because Jon’s wife, Annie, will make it sometimes when we’re together. I don’t know what to compare it to, it’s unique. I imagine the Nikcevich family gets asked to make it a lot. I imagine when there is a potluck that they always get requests to make it and bring it. People know them for it, and tell them how much they love it.

Moving to Hollywood is like confidently arriving to another potluck to present your famous Nikcevich dip, only to realize that everyone brought their own Nikcevich dip as well. They all vary a little bit here and there, but yours doesn’t stand out anymore. This doesn’t mean that yours is any less amazing, but it feels like it does because no one is telling you how amazing it is.

Your confidence has to come from somewhere else.

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