My TV Extra Debut

Back in September, I posted about my initial foray into the world of being a film extra. For two days, I went in, sat through an hour of make up, sat around for hours doing nothing but observing what there was to see, and then did my thing. You can read all about the experience here. Well, in a film-to-screen time that beats out my Wheel experience, my episode aired in December.

I knew from the filming that my screen time was going to be very limited and chances were you wouldn't be able to see my face. I was right on both accounts. Below, you can see the clip. I've stretched the clip to include a bit of context. Keep an eye on the roadside zombie. That's me!



Okay, not so impressive for a first go. There are continuity issues and my acting could use a bit of improvement. But it's a start, a start that hopefully turns into something more. As I mentioned before, being an extra in a movie (where you can see my face and in a movie that people would actually have heard of) is a my current life goal.

While waiting around to film scene, I was also able to impromptu provide hands for another scene from another episode. Even going frame by frame, it was hard to identify me. I did, however, manage this screen shot. If a hand on screen for .35 seconds ever screamed destined for greatness, it's here.



As my resume grows (as I truly hope it will), I'll keep posting about it here, so stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to watch this clip over and over and over again. Or, heck, go check out Z-Nation and watch from the beginning!

Saturday January 7 2017File under: extra, video

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Financial Recap of Costa Rica-Nicaragua Trip


Money is one of the reasons often cited by people who want to travel more but don't. While I understand this, I also like to offer up some of the details of my trips to let them know that travel can be done on the cheap and still be very rewarding. Della and I just had an awesome trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua—23 days of beaches, exotic animals, good food, new culture, and lots of time together—for just under $2000, flights and all!*

As part of our daily journaling (to keep track of what we did, where we stayed, etc.), we also captured what we spent and on what. Just as a fun exercise*, I threw all that data into a spreadsheet to see what came out. And as always, data proves to be fun!

So, excluding flights, but including everything else, we spent $1,521. That breaks down to about $66/day. I split expenses into lodging, food, internal transportation, ice cream, and other (a category that included national park entrance fees, visa fees, souvenirs, zip lining, etc.).

TotalPer DayPercentage
Lodging*$584$25.39
38%
Food$451$19.61
30%
Internal Transportation$178$7.74
12%
Ice Cream*$36$1.57
2%
Other$272$11.83
18%
Numbers are for 2 people. Divide in half for per person numbers

While it wouldn't be fair to say that we traveled like kings, we also didn't only go for the cheapest options. We almost always got a private room (vs. dorms), had occasion to take a taxi a time or two, ate out almost exclusively, and didn't forgo much in the way of activities. Basically, we traveled much like we live here at home—on the cheap, but not stupid cheap.

As for flights, I benefited from a friend working in the industry and got my flight for just the cost of taxes and fees ($68 total) (THANKS MINDY!!). For Della, we found two cheap one way flights in and out of Liberia, a small city in the north of Costa Rica (cheaper than flying in and out of San Jose). Her flights came to $400.

So yeah, $2000 total for the both of us for a wonderful adventure to a foreign land seems pretty dang reasonable. In fact, comparing it back to some of the previous "Financial Breakdown" posts I've done (here, here, and here), it ranks as just about the cheapest trip I've ever taken! Whatever the details, I hope this helps to show that travel doesn't have to be super expensive. All you need is a spirit for adventure, a little patience and know-how, and the world can be your oyster!
Tuesday January 3 2017File under: travel

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Easy Days on the Boardwalk


(Drinking a homemade batido while evening happens around us on the boardwarlk

At the beginning of a trip, I always want to do stuff—explore, zip-line, be proactive to feast on the culture and place I am in. At the end of a trip, however, I find myself more looking to chill out. With the end of this trip drawing near, chilling out is exactly what Della and I have on our agenda. We're in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, the perfect town for just hanging out. Our days involve walking the beach, searching the streets for loose change*, eating, and chilling on the boardwalk while the sun goes down (as seen in super high speed above).

Occasionally, we'll take a break from chilling to visit a monument, get a geocache, or something else proactive. But mostly, it's time to bathe in the good life before returning to the real world back home (not that the real world ain't pretty damn good in its own right).

So, without further ado, back to chilling. Someone pass me that batido!
Tuesday December 20 2016File under: travel, Nicaragua

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Our Ometepe Mini-Adventure

Ometepe is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua consisting of two volcanos, one extinct and one not-so-extinct. It is also a bit of a tourist mecca, owing to its chilled out vibe, its beautiful scenery, and its cheap cheap cost of travel. So while it wasn't on our original itinerary, we had a few days to spare and decided to head out and have a look for ourselves. Between a couple of lazy days of catch up computer work and reading in hammocks, we rented a scooter and had a bit of an adventure!

Driving in a foreign country is always an adventure in itself. Because Ometepe has more bikes than cars and really only 2 intersections, it could have been much worse. The cow traffic jams, bursts of weather, and surprise speed bumps, however, kept us on our toes. Luckily, all that Scoot Scoot time made me an expert Scooter-er, so we felt about as comfortable as could be expected.

Our first stop was a search for a geocache. I feel obliged to get a cache in every country I visit*, which sometimes is a hassle but this time turned out to be great. It took us to an out of the way National Park that held ancient petroglyphs. We snagged the cache and then wondered around the completely deserted park for a while before meandering back down towards civilization.

To dodge an incoming squall, we ducked into a little restaurant in a not-even-a-town only to find it to be a Southern Californian's dream. Farm-to-table is a term that is kicked around all the time, but this place was serious: coconut milk hand made from trees on the property, lettuce and tomatoes from their garden, fresh pasta hand made with egg from their chickens, beef from the neighbor's grass-fed cow, and coffee from local (like within 100 yards) beans roasted over a sustainable wood fire. Finish it off with tiny cacao num nums (grown on property sweetened with honey from their land) and you might as well be a millionaire in Santa Barbara. Just about the only thing not hyper-local was the beer Della treated herself to, the first of the trip. Bill total on this splurge of a meal with dessert, drinks, and stuff-you-to-the-gills goodness for two: $15.00.

With the squall past and darkness not far off, we decided to head back, but figured we had enough time to go the long way 'round to complete our circumnavigation of the Concepcion volcano. What we didn't count on was 1) the main highway turned to rutted dirt road for 8km and 2) the sky would open up and dump on us. But despite all that, we loved seeing the even less populated parts of the island and even were treated to a nice howler monkey show.

Once back to town, safe and dry, we moseyed to our now favorite dinner place for our usual fare. Amazing chicken, beans and rice, smashed fried plantains, and a salad served by the sweetest little lady totaling $6 with tip (for both of us!). Totally the right price for an awesome meal and a great way to wind down our little Ometepe adventure day.

If you ever find yourself in Nicaragua with a few days to kill, I can't think of a better way to do it than checking out Ometepe!
Tuesday December 13 2016File under: travel, Nicaragua

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Della and the Animals of Costa Rica

From the moment our plane touched down in Liberia, Costa Rica and the pilot had to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting a giant iguana, this trip has been about animals. Costa Rica is a great place for animals! You can't seem to go 10 miles without seeing a National Park. It makes for some convenient tourist-ing, that's for sure.

I don't know if you knew this, but Della likes animals. I mean, she really likes them. Like really likes them. So this has been great being able to see all the animals through her eyes. Everything is so cute from the gecko to the howler monkey and pretty much everything in between*.

And while we haven't been able to get a photo of her with every animal we've seen, we thought it might be fun to try. So, without further ado, here're a few picture of Della with animals in Costa Rica. (Be sure to read the caption for the story.)



It's not only the native and wild animals that are of interest.


Friday December 9 2016File under: travel, Costa Rica

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Pura Vida


Hear the words "Pura Vida" and you know you're in Costa Rica. It's pretty much their mantra. You hear it from the cashier at the mini-mart, you hear it from your waiter, you hear it from a passing local on the street. It means "pure life" or something along those lines, at least for a literal translation. But it means so much more.

After only a week here, I know I haven't grasped the full meaning, but I'm starting to get it. It means no worries, enjoy yourself, welcome, isn't this amazing?, namaste, and so much more. Over the next couple weeks, I look forward to learning more about Pura Vida from the super friendly locals and the lovely vibe that this place permeates.

Besides our lexicographical endeavors, Della and I have been up to pretty much what you might expect folks in Costa Rica to be up to: ziplining*, frolicking in the ocean and on the beaches, seeing lots of good wildlife, and just taking in the good life. Pretty standard, really. But since a picture is worth a bunch of words, here are a few snaps from week 1.

Sunday December 4 2016File under: travel, Costa Rica

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Thanksgiving on the Farm

Being a city boy mostly these days, it was nice to spend some time at the family farm in Oklahoma this Thanksgiving. I was surrounded by family, noodles, hay bales, baby lambs, peanut brittle, pitch*, and more...and it was great! I took Della along to give her a taste of the Midwest and she took to it quite nicely*

There's a beauty and simplicity to county life. The days centered around meals (which were plentiful and wonderful!) and excursions. Such excursions took us to dad's old homestead, which has seen better days, Norman to visit friends and family and cruise through the old stomping grounds, and a neat little roadside attraction off Route 66 that featured a 60 foot LED pop bottle and the soda selection to go along with it*.

Yes, it's good to go back home once in a while. This trip to Oklahoma reminded me that I should make a habit of going back more often. It was just so wonderful to be surrounded by family, the simplicity of life on the farm, and lots and lots of good eats!
Saturday November 26 2016File under: holidays, Oklahoma

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My Crossword Resume Grows

Just this week, Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book #16 was released and contained 2 of my puzzles! It's my first puzzles published in book form and, while no NYT or WSJ, it's still exciting. The book contains puzzles by well known names in the industry*. If you've been meaning to re-up your crossword game, pick yourself up a copy (preferably from your local bookstore, but here's the amazon link just in case).

This represents my seventh published venue for a puzzle: Every time I have a puzzle published, I get a little giddy. It represents so much to me: accomplishment of a goal, persistence, recognition that what I've made is worthy, and so much more. Each new venue is another notch on that accomplishment list, and it just makes me smile. I've got my sights set on the next puzzle and the next venue, so stay tuned. In the meantime, go do a crossword.

Thursday November 17 2016File under: crosswords

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Minor Media Mentions - Anacortes Pride


Again for posterity, I submit this article from Anacortes Pride, the monthly newsletter/paper from the Anacortes School District. It was an honor to be profiled and really really fun chatting with the superintendent. The conversation ranged all over, much more than could be covered in this Q&A. The paper copy will go in my scrap book, but now it's in my digital scrapbook as well!
Thursday November 3 2016File under: media, Anacortes

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Zombie-tastic!

I recently had the opportunity to be an extra (or "background talent") for a TV show called

Being a film/tv extra has been my latest quest, an item on my life goal list that I hope to be able to check off soon.* Getting a chance to go on set for a TV show and participate in a few scenes was a big step in that direction.

And while I'm stoked to be moving in the direction of my goal, in reality, being an extra has its ups and downs. On the one hand, it is super interesting seeing how a set works, all the people around*, different jargon, number of takes to get a shot, the make-up process, famous people all around*, the food arrangement, talking to other extras and crew about experiences they've had, hearing how a director directs, stunts and stunt doubles*, and so much more. Really, with so much magic surrounding TV and movies in my eyes, seeing its inner-workings in person was really really interesting.

On the other hand, being an extra, esp. a zombie extra, has its downsides. Pay is minimum wage (8-hours guaranteed). The make-up takes forever to get off*. The outcome of your day on set is very random*. In my 2 very long days, I might be in 5 seconds of film (which mostly just shows my back). Kind of lame. And above all, it is super boring. Hours upon hours pass just waiting in the waiting tent (while totally covered in make-up, including your hands, so you can't even dinkle with your phone). Occasionally crew will chat, but mostly, they've got jobs to do. You never know when anything is going to happen or what it will be.

Despite the ups and downs, I'm really stoked to have had the opportunity. I put a few bucks in my pocket, got to see a behind the scenes look, got a really neat story to share, and snapped a few interesting pictures along the way.


If my footage doesn't get left on the cutting room floor, look for the back of my zombified head in Season 3, Episode 14, probably airing sometime in the spring. (My hands might make a guest appearance in episode 11 or 12 too!). However it pans out, I'm sure I'll post about it here, so stay tuned.
Wednesday September 21 2016File under: extra, pics

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*Andrew on My TV Extra Debut
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Recent Content:
*My TV Extra Debut
*Financial Recap of Costa Rica-Nicaragua Trip
*Easy Days on the Boardwalk
*Our Ometepe Mini-Adventure
*Della and the Animals of Costa Rica
*Pura Vida
*Thanksgiving on the Farm
*My Crossword Resume Grows
*Minor Media Mentions - Anacortes Pride
*Zombie-tastic!

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updated at 08:28 pm Jan 16th


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