Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Apparently Good Morning America is hosting a search for the GMA Advice Guru. Someone to dispense wit and wisdom to the masses. According to the information I've found (thanks goes out to Tara for sending me the info) this is a competition, but it will end with a real-live grown-up job with the folks at GMA. There will be answering of questions on-camera and online. This person will be like a "Dear Abby" for the 21st century.

So I decided to apply.

Here are the questions they asked on the application along with my responses. Enjoy:

What is the best advice you’ve ever given? What was the result?

Don’t compromise your beliefs to be who other people think you should be. Be the person you know you should. That person proceeded to make some less-than-stellar choices. Hey – people don’t always take advice, even if it’s good. Ultimately change and implementation are up to the receiver of the advice, not the giver.

What would you tell this person: “Whenever there is an issue between my mother-in-law and me, my husband refuses to stand up for me. How do I get him to value our relationship more than the one with his mother?”

First, talk to your husband about it. Without accusing him, explain how you feel and why. Then, be willing to show him that you value your relationship as much as you expect him to. Sometimes we men-folk are a little slow on the uptake, so set the example for him, but don't do it backhandedly. Secondly, unless the issue involved him directly, I’d resolve all issues you have with your MIL directly with her. This will also build your relationship with her and thus diminish this problem in the future.

“While cleaning my son’s room, I accidentally saw on his facebook page threatening remarks from his friends. I fear he’s being bullied, what should I do?”

The balance between privacy and parenting can sometimes be tricky. In this situation I’d talk to him about bullying in a general sense and make sure he knows there are people he can talk to – you, adults at school, neighbors, friends etc. – without necessarily trying to get a confession out of him. Just make sure he knows what to do. I’d also call his teacher(s) and have him/her/them keep an eye out for trouble. It’s true that teachers already have lots to do, but the safety of your student is at the top of their list, so don’t be afraid to enlist their help.

“My boss keeps taking credit for my ideas, what should I do?”

Honestly, find a new job. It’s clear that recognition is important to you. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just something you need. This work environment doesn’t seem to be fulfilling that need, so you should seriously look at other work opportunities that will. If that’s not feasible then you really have two options: 1 - Cowboy up, 2 - talk to your boss. Tell him/her what’s troubling you. Remember to use “I” statements and avoid accusing him or her of anything. Happy employees are productive employees. A good boss will recognize that and do what they can do remedy the problem. If option 2 doesn’t work, I’m afraid you’re stuck with option 1. At that point you can always stop sharing good ideas directly with him or her.

Then you’re supposed to submit a short personal essay about why you should be the next advice guru. Here’s mine:

In my few short years I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve traveled the world, I have degrees in communication and education, I’ve studied music, acting, business and Spanish, and I’ve seen and talked with the richest of the rich and poorest of the poor. Currently I’m a starving actor trying to seek out a living doing what I love. As an actor I’ve had the chance to be a lot of people. And though those situations are always fictional to one degree or another, they all have something in common – they’re based on life. As a result they present real problems and real solutions – some of which work, and some of which don’t. Either way I’ve learned a lot about what makes people tick and the most important thing I’ve learned, I think, is this: Succeeding in life is really just about keeping things in perspective.
My friends and family often come to me for advice and perspective. The advice I give generally falls into one of three categories: Go for it, don't give up, or chill out. One of these is almost always applicable. Life is yours for the taking so whether it’s eating some extra chocolate ice cream, or quitting your job to pursue your dreams - go for it. Things won't always go how you want even when you go for it, maybe he doesn’t like you, maybe you didn’t get the promotion, so what? Something better’s just around the corner. Don't give up. And very few negative things are worth freaking out over (though most positive things absolutely are), so take a breath, have a brownie, and chill out.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I've discovered something helpful recently. Conversational scenarios. Have you ever had a planned conversation coming up and it keeps playing in your head how you want it to happen, then when it actually happens it's nothing like you planned and you end up becoming depressed, eating too much sugar, and spiraling out of control? I haven't, but I have been slightly less-than-happy with the outcome of a few conversations in my time. So here's what I do to soften the blow of disappointment - have multiple possible outcomes. Ex:

You want to have a conversation with the special someone who's caught your eye and let them know how you feel. So, you come up with three possible outcomes.

1 - Things go well. Not too well, but enough that you're probably sporting a silly grin. He or she says they feel the same way, maybe you hold hands and walk in the park for hours. You end up having a hot - but appropriate - makeout underneath a tree while the birds sing. Make the good scenario good enough to give you hope, but not so good that it's completely unrealistic.

2 - Things go horribly wrong. She gets a look of complete disgust on her face, slaps you, spits in your eye, rips the sleeve off your new shirt, insults your cologne, style, haircut, and heritage. She runs away screaming and starts to spread vicious rumors about ill-gotten gain, or perhaps a rash. Make this one unrealistic. Something that would never actually happen (after all, you like this person, so there's a good chance they're not completely psychotic.)

3 - Things are somewhere in the middle. He or she is flattered, but not wanting to get in a relationship. He or she is interested, but currently busy. He or she is interested and has time this weekend for a date. This one should be something that will most likely happen.

Then, when you have the conversation, guess what happens? Your good probably won't happen, your bad definitely won't happen, and it ends up somewhere in the middle. The vast majority of the time it will actually be on the positive side of middle, so you can still sport a grin!

Amazing isn't it?

I've tried it twice already with extremely positive results. Really it's just about putting things in perspective, but it's kind of fun to image unrealistic possibilities.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The Hale Centre Theatre facebook page has a little segment called "A Day in the Life" where the people of Hale share thoughts and experiences about their lives. They asked me to do the latest one, and this is what I wrote. It's a small look inside my head:

I've recently come to a realization about performing - I can't get enough of it. It's the one thing I've never gotten tired of doing (well, that and eating brownies). Nowhere has that been more apparent than my participation at the Hale Centre Theatre. In the last 3 years I've been involved in 11 shows which means I've spent more days at the theater than away from the theater in that time. And the thing I love most about performing is making people laugh. It's so incredibly fulfilling. There's nothing on Earth like it, and after playing everything from a high-class British socialite to a crazy ex-pirate castaway, I've certainly had my fair share of chances to do just that. It's a sickness, but as Mr. Turnblad says in "Hairspray," "There ain't no cure, so let this fever rage!"

The thing I look forward to most on a regular basis is heading to the theater for a rehearsal or a performance. Everyone acts excited/relieved/happy when we get a free night, but secretly I'm disappointed. There's literally nowhere I'd rather be than at the theater - even if I'm not doing anything! Not only do I get to spend time in my favorite place doing my favorite thing, but when I'm there I'm surrounded by the most amazing, talented, hilarious, caring, supportive, loving, insane, fantastic people you'll ever find. Olive Garden may have the copyright to the tagline "When you're here your family," but at the theater - you live it.

Currently I'm following in a storied tradition of insane people - being single cast. That's a minimum of 8 shows a week and 0 social life. But two things make it bearable: 1 - I'm playing a dream role - Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone. And 2 - I LOVE performing. Even the thought of not having Friday or Saturday nights free doesn't really bother me because I'll be spending them doing the thing I love most, surrounded by amazingly hilarious, talented people. What more could anyone want?

So when you come to see "The Drowsy Chaperone" (Playing from Oct. 5 - Nov. 27) - and you definitely don't want to miss this one - and you see me up on stage absolutely beaming, just know that at that moment, I'm not acting. And feel free to give me a big grin yourself on the way out of the theater, then I know I've done my job. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And another

I was in a student film this summer. It was fun! Here's the trailer if you're interested:

I was kind of expecting to watch this and hate myself as a film actor - thus derailing plans for my future film career and destroying my dreams in one fell swoop - but I didn't.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Many of you may not be aware, but there are people out there who sell discounted books to teachers, and heaven bless those people. They set up small displays in faculty rooms around the country and offer books and other related merchandise - some of it amazing, some of it not so much - at a fraction of the original cost. In my time as an educator I took advantage of that on more than one occasion. One book in particular will forever hold a special place on my shelf and in my heart. I give you:

I just looked at the name and knew I had to have it. The first recipe (Heart of Darkness brownies) only served to confirm that feeling. I HIGHLY recommend this purchase as an addition to any kitchen. Last Sunday I tried out another recipe that was nothing short of divine. I liked it so much I've decided to share it here:

Cinnamon Donut Bread Pudding

For the Cinnamon Custard Sauce:

5 large egg yolks
Half cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
half tsp ground cinnamon
2 c heavy cream

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a bowl until smooth. Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the hot cream into the egg yolks, quarter-cup at a time, until all the cream has been slowly incorporated into the egg yolks.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the custard is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not boil, or the custard will curdle (I discovered that this part takes a little time, so just be prepared for that). Immediately pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and whisk until very smooth, about 1 minute. Let cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, 2-3 hours or up to overnight.

For the Pudding:

4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
quarter-tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 c heavy cream
half-cup whole milk
half-cup sugar plus some extra for sprinkling
quarter-cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 and a half tsp ground cinnamon plus extra for sprinkling
quarter-tsp ground ginger
1 pound (5-6) day-old, yeast-raised cinnamon-roll donuts cut into 1 in. pieces. (I just used Harmon's bakery cinnamon rolls)
Boiling water as needed
Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, salt, vanilla, heavy cream, milk, sugars, cinnamon, and ginger until smooth. Place the donut pieces in a large bowl. Pour the custard over the donuts and let stand for 1 hour to allow the donuts to absorb the custard. Divide the mixture evenly and spoon into 6 oven-proof coffee cups that have been brushed with melted butter (I also sprinkled some cinnamon-sugar in the cups before putting the pudding mixture in). Sprinkle each with cinnamon sugar.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place the cups in a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups and cover with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until pudding is puffed and golden and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of a pudding, 15-20 minutes longer. Let cool 10-15 minutes.

Serve the puddings warm, drizzled with the cold cinnamon custard sauce and/or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Absolutely heavenly. We did it without the ice cream and loved every bite. I think 9 of us shared the 6 cups and there was more than enough for everyone. They were SO GOOD!!! This is definitely one I'll be making again.

Not sure if I'm breaking any copyright laws by posting this recipe, but I figure it's just one recipe out of an entire book so I should be ok...right? RIGHT?!