Saturday, August 31, 2013

Holiday Weekend Plans.

Learning that at least 50 shark sightings hae been reported over the last month at the beach where I live makes me want to just get in a ball with a blanket over me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Matt Shevin, Volunteer Conflict Resolution Specialist.

LA Fitness. Chest press. Click the pic to read my comments in blue.

Once Again, Out-Of-Context Thank-You Notes I’ve Recently Written To Casting Directors.

• I can tell by how long you hold the buzzer when buzzing me into your building whether or not you think I’m an idiot.
• My ideal diet would be people I don’t want to talk to standing by all the food that’s bad for me.

• “I am definitely getting rid of Time Warner Cable.” – Me, every month for three years.

• I miss wrinkles on foreheads.

• Somebody is going to have to explain LinkedIn to the San Diego mayor.

• “Jesus loves you” has a whole different meaning in a Mexican prison.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

And Finally: My Nephew Spanky’s New Clothing Line For Young Men.

“The Pope of Greenwich Village.”


“70s Hoops Coach.”

“King Shit.”

“Daddy’s Goat-Grooming Little Secret.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park: An iPhone™ Photo Gallery.

This goat fixed himself a snack by snatching the park map right out of an old broad’s hands.

Meanwhile, this bat appears to have ordered in some primo Kung Pao.

Lemur really half-assing it for the paying crowd.

The only way to follow up that proposal on the ballpark Jumbotron.

Huge disappointment after I misread this and thought someone was going on a Cheetos Run.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Recap: The Lap, Thighs, Shins And Toes Of Luxury.

I want to lead a life so incredible, the Westboro Baptist Church pickets my funeral.

And I just might get there if I keep accumulating incredible vacation experiences. Last year, it was Boracay; this time, this past weekend, Aviara Resort for my mom’s birthday. It was so off the charts nice, it’ll take me three days to recap my thoughts. Here’s the first batch:

Forget your name in lights – my niece and nephew were greeted sponge-style in one our bathrooms (we had three) when we arrived.

And when we came back from the pool, their names in chocolate, alongside the best brownies and milk I ever poached.

The only scratch on this Lambo of weekends: a typo (above my thumb) on the card that came with the mousse delivered while we were out on day two. The Shevibs were most appreciative.

My mom’s birthday dinner was at Veladora, a restaurant in a converted barn at Rancho Valencia, which is where Bill Gates spent his honeymoon. From now on, I insist even my Corn Flakes be prepared with reduction.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

My New Digs.

Are people still saying “staycation,” or were they all murdered for saying “staycation?”

My mom is out here for her birthday, so we’re all heading a bit down the coast to stay at the very tony Aviara Resort for the weekend. I plan on not wearing shoes. Or pants. And if I happen to post a blog entry, keep in mind it will be as dictated to a Mexican cabana boy named Oswaldo.

Actually, it’ll be really nice to spend time with the people closest to me, because there’s nothing more valuable in life than family. I’m just kidding – it’s gold.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hell Yes, Barry O.

I can always tell when my dog is having a dream because he kicks his legs and then won’t shut the hell up about what it could mean.

But he can carry on all he wants about the President, because on Tuesday, as the Obamas introduced their new puppy, the White House came out against laws that restrict ownership of dogs by breed, most particularly Pit Bulls.

Yep, a lot of cities, including Denver, ban Pits. The entire country of Australia bans them as well, which is just preposterous. I owned a very typical, extremely sweet Pit Bull for 12 years, and after he passed, I went right out and adopted another Pit puppy. And Ricky has the exact same personality of Petey. Don’t believe the myth

Trivia question: on the list of the top breeds of dogs that bite, where do Pit Bulls rank? Answer below. But first, let me bust a few myths about Australia. You may know that the colonization of Australia was driven by the need to address overcrowding in the British prison system, which makes sense, because 200 later, the offspring of these winners have created one big redneck shithole. Many of you yearn to visit or even live in Australia, but my friend Rob did just that, living there for a year, and he’ll take your ear off about how much the country hates Americans, and that the top 10 TV shows there are all gardening shows (something please explain that to me) and the Sydney Opera House, the very symbol of the entire continent, desperately needs a power wash.

Trivia answer: on the list of dog breeds that bite, Pit Bulls rank 33rd. And a bonus fact: the plural of “Australian” is “losers.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Besöksförbud. It’s Swedish For “Restraining Order.”

Handy fix-it tip: If you break a drawer on your Ikea desk, buy a new Ikea desk.

And if you break an Ikea chair, you are a bad, bad actor. Some dude in a casting workshop last night in Santa Monica got a bit emotional in a scene that didn’t call for it, and heaved a chair much like this one against a wall and cracked it completely in half.

Yeah, casting directors love a violent dude busting up their offices. (By the way – HUGE regret – I stared at the actual chair he destroyed for fifteen minutes, and it never occurred to me to snap a pic before it was whisked away and thrown in a dumpster.)

I’d say this particular “actor” will never work in this town again, but in order for that to be true, he’d actually have to work in the first place. On the other hand, I do love the guy, because he makes me look that much cooler…

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Melfi, You’re Good. Very good.

Men’s Health is my favorite magazine that releases the same exact issue every month.

On the other hand, every week I receive New York magazine, and it’s loaded with legitimate goodness. Like the above piece about my friend Ted’s new film. Ted directed my film, then wrote a screenplay for a movie that Bill Murray read and loved and wanted to be in. Looks amazing.

The magazine’s caption calls Ted a “first time” director, which is not exactly true, but it is his first huge film. Here’s what else it says:

“You can hardly judge how a finished film will be from a single still frame, but the first-time director Ted Melfi appears to have gotten one scene in St. Vincent de Van Nuys exactly right. Shooting in Brooklyn on a recent Tuesday, he put Bill Murray – joined in other moments, by co-stars Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts – in this beat-to-hell ’83 Chrysler LeBaron, complete with spiderweb windshield cracks. (Murray plays the crabby mentor to the child of Watt’s Russian prostitute.) It’s as if the poignantly aging character from Broken Flowers had gone broke and washed up by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. We’ll see if the rest of the film looks this good in 2014.”

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Recap.

Above pic: I had a callback for a commercial on Saturday at an office with one of the best views in LA… Was supposed to spend my Sunday afternoon at a casting workshop in Sherman Oaks, but the casting director got sick and couldn’t show. Or as I like to refer to it: a 93°-degree snow day… Ordered in pizza last night, which made me realize – food delivery is a combination of my three favorite things: food, not moving and avoiding people… Red Sox fans, last night was one of the most classless things I’ve ever seen. Shame on you.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It Begins.

Wait, I forget – what's the national pastime? Is it baseball or worrying about Jennifer Aniston’s happiness?

Actually, it’s football, and my NFL on FOX commercials officially starts re-airing today, and will continue through the Super Bowl. So keep an eye out for it and know that every time it’s on TV, an actor gets a visit from the residual fairy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Fifth Great Film Of 2013.

If you had ten minutes to list all of the best Mumford & Sons songs, what would you do with the extra nine minutes and 55 seconds?

They simply have no soul. But back in the day, bands had it, and they relied on backup singers to provide the hooks for all the classic hits. But what happens when a backup singer tries to make the leap to become a lead? Ask Darlene Love, who wound up cleaning houses for several years.

20 Feet From Stardom is a new documentary focusing on several backup singers who tried to make the transition and were almost always unsuccessful. The film opens with an interview with Bruce Springsteen (who rarely does them), and Bruce makes some incredibly astute points about trying to become a lead, and how it requires a real narcissism to pull it off.

But even for those who never made it, it’s not to say there weren’t memorable backup moments. Merry Clayton shares a story about being called at midnight in Los Angeles to come to a studio to sing background for a new Rolling Stones song. Merry, very pregnant, showed up wearing curlers, but figured she’d blow the band and the producer away, and whaled on the background vocals “Raaaape, murderrrrr… you’re just a shot away…” on “Gimme Shelter.” We hear the isolated track, and it’s blood curdling.

It’s fascinating. It’s in theaters. You know the routine.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

12 Ozs. Of Wisdom.

There was something significant for today’s post that occurred to me mid canned-beer at the Roosevelt Hotel, but now, at 5:55 a.m., I’m drawing a blank.

Oh yeah: don’t drink and blog.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 60: Let’s Open The Reader Mail.

Nothing makes me feel less like you really do wish me the best than signing your emails “Best.”

Actor Rob Kolinsky was kind enough to instead close with “Keep on rockin’ out!” signoff, so I’m happy to answer this question from him:

“I have just enrolled in UCB’s improv 101 class. I was wondering if you could provide me with a little insight into what I should expect. I read your blog saying that it was pretty ambitious. I am excited, nevertheless!” 

Hell yes, Rob. Love that you’re taking a class. Here’s a primer:

Rob is about to take a class at Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB), an improv training center cofounded by Amy Poehler, and where I trained for multiple levels of improvisation. 101 is UCB’s introductory class, and unlike the upper levels, in which the program’s philosophies come into play with extensive lecturing, in 101 you’ll be out of your chair and doing all kinds of exercises that will loosen you up and help you really listen to your scene partners. You’ll have eight three-hour classes leading up to a live show starring your class on the main stage of the Los Angeles UCB theatre, and it’ll be one of the biggest rushes you’ll ever experience.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Attention lazy jerkoffs: during the eight-week class, you’ll be required to attend two shows at the UCB Theatre, to see how the veteran teams do some amazing work. But go to a bunch. I attended dozens of shows because I knew I could learn so much, and they didn’t cost me a thing because every student receives a pass allowing free admission. So don’t do the minimum, or even less. (Yes, some of my classmates never attended a single show, and simply lied that they had. Sad, but sad.) 
  • Bring the infield in. Great improv happens when you just trust your instincts. (UCB’s tagline is “Don’t Think.”) Don’t go for the joke – just say what honestly occurs to you in a scene and it will more often than not be funny. I equate it to being an baseball infielder – sure, you want to play deep so you can handle a tough hop, but if you actually come in on the infield grass, and let your instincts take over, you’ll just react and make amazing plays. 
  • Know your shit. And everyone else’s. I recently watched an interview with Ben Schwartz, a UCB grad now starring on “House of Lies.” Ben said that back when he took classes, he would go straight from his day-job to UCB every night, and either attend class or work with an improv team. But he struggled in scenes, until one day his teacher told Ben the problem was he didn’t have a life outside of school, and thus didn’t have anything to reference. Great improv performers are familiar with EVERYTHING – current events, sports, music, religion, video games, languages. The more you can source, the more you’ll own that stage. 
  • You’re so not money. Unfortunately, a career in improv is about as profitable as waving a sign in front of a tax prep store. However, casting directors love seeing improv training on a résumé, and will attend shows at UCB and often pluck performers for roles. My 201 teacher, Will McLaughlin, is now recurring on “Parks & Recreation,” the best sitcom on TV. 
There you go, Rob. Have fun. Be involved. Get close and make a play.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekend Recap, Featuring Visual Aids.

I don’t believe I asked the LA SWAT team to deliver a wakeup call, but that’s exactly what they did, buzzing my house with a helicopter for two hours early Saturday, after a dude shot someone and barricaded himself inside a home four streets away.

My friends Bru and Aina received an assignment to shoot a comedic corporate video. Overwhelmed by a pre-production avalanche, they asked me to pinch-hit for them and write the script. Amazing to see something I concepted Saturday afternoon come to life the very next morning.

I brought Ricky over to my brother’s house unannounced, which surprised my naked nephew so much he didn’t quite make it into both pant legs.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hometown Hero.

The Internet has enlightened us more than we ever could have imagined. By the way, all you folks who make amateur porn really need to clean up your rooms.

 In the new HBO documentary Casting By, I noticed on a list of actors that one grew up in my hometown of Rye, NY.

So I went right to the Web, and lo and behold, Lex Barker did indeed come from Rye, and went on to become a big actor in the 1940s, playing Tarzan in five movies. Pretty kickass. You’ve left a big loincloth to fill, sir:

Friday, August 9, 2013


I’ll be impressed when my iPhone’s battery works as many hours as the kids that built it do.

But the damn thing sure can make startle you. You may have heard that we SoCal iPhone users were blasted Monday night by an Amber Alert. (Here’s what it sounded like. Imagine it sudden, cranked super high, and pray you’re not sipping a hot beverage when it blows up your phone.)

The hunt is still on for the girl that was abducted, and as I passed this woman in her Versa yesterday, I wondered what it must be like to go from simply driving a cute, blue sedan to replacing the Chevy Astro van as creepiest vehicle on the road.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 59: Control-Less Freak.

Never stop following your dreams. Unless your dreams involve me attending your open mic.

And never let the factors out of your control bring you down. I had an audition the other day for “Hart of Dixie,” the TV show starring Rachel Bilson. The role was a sarcastic surgeon who busts Rachel’s balls. Right in my wheelhouse.

The first thank-you note I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry referred to this audition. I walked into the room and mentioned to the casting director that I was, in fact, wearing the same shirt and tie as I was in my headshot. To which she replied, “You know, I wouldn’t have even noticed, but now I can’t stop thinking about it...” Love her.

And then I auditioned, and I really knocked it out of the park – hit all the funny moments, timing was right on, made them laugh, and I left. If I wasn’t going to book this role, it wasn’t for lack of effort.

The next day, a casting call went out again for the same role, only this time it called for someone who looked just like the actor Matt Lowe (pic of him featured above.) The writers had decided they wanted a scruffy, heavy-set guy to play this southern surgeon, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. (Beyond a month-long boycott of shaving, hair cutting and salads.)

This is a topic I’ve mentioned before – your look impeding your ability to work, and why you shouldn’t sweat it – but it bears repeating. All I can do is my best work, then leave and forget about it. Light fuse, run away.

But if you find yourself kicking ass but still feeling down about it, things could be worse. Remember there are people out there who bought tickets to the Kidz Bop world tour.

Once Again, Out-Of-Context Thank-You Notes I’ve Recently Written To Casting Directors.

• Yes, I wore the same shirt and tie in the audition that I’m wearing in my headshot. I feel shame.

• Yes, Pete Seeger sang “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, but who cares when we’ve got Glade Garden Retreat-scented Plug-Ins?

• On a daily basis, my dad told my brothers and me we were “no damn good.” I’ve got to say: it was unpleasant, but effective.

• Sometimes I wish I could “force quit” conversations with my neighbor.

• Geraldo Rivera looks and sounds like the 21st century is rejecting him like a bad organ transplant.

• When Barbra Streisand sings at the Oscars, homosexuality is canceled for the rest of the month.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SAG-AFTRA, You Shouldn’t Have.

I hope I’m never involved in a long trial, mostly because I only own one suit.

But I do now own two pairs of shoes, thanks to a recent swanky purchase. Best of all, the shoes were subsidized by SAG-AFTRA.

That’s right – the Conrad Cantzen Memorial Shoe Fund, which I blogged about last year, came through with a check yesterday. The proof is in the amount box.

So I’d just like to thank my union, for guaranteeing I receive residuals, enforcing pleasant working conditions and allowing me to enjoy today’s hottest styles at outlet-store prices.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weekend Recap.

This is what CBS looked like all weekend in LA (and NY and Dallas) as the network and Time Warner Cable pulled the old “use the viewers like children in an ugly divorce.” And yet, this image is still vastly more entertaining than “Big Brother”… Stopped by In ‘N Out and ordered the “Matt Shevin”: two double-doubles. You gotta order it off the menu… I wish the rest of my life could move as slowly as the people searching for parking at Von’s in Hermosa Beach.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I Hock.

You ever respond to a really important email? What’s that like?

Every now and then I get hit up by someone wanting me to blog about their acting studio, or phone app, or a whole host of goods and services. I appreciate all of them, but if I’m not genuinely feeling it, I respectfully decline. But the other day, HBO passed along a screener for their newest documentary, and asked me to talk it up. It’s called Casting By, and will air on the network on Monday at 9 p.m.

The doc focuses mainly on Marion Dougherty, head of casting first at Paramount, and then Warner Brothers. Marion discovered James Dean, Warren Beatty and Robert Redford, and broke racial barriers by pairing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. (Though I’m guessing these days Marion’s busting out the correction tape and expunging Mel’s name from her résumé.)

It’s really good, so hold Monday night and give it a gander.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sartorial Splendor.

Guys, if you buy any woman clothing, and you don’t get her a size S with a gift receipt, you’re an asshole.

And ladies, you don’t need a fistful of ruphies to finally get that proposal. Simply buy us the actual gi Billy Zabka wore in The Karate Kid. Now on sale for a mere $100K.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Poach Parking.

To acquire your own primo parking spot on a studio lot, all you need are a few blockbuster credits. Or a can of spray paint and a stencil. Tomato, tomahto.

Or, Plan C: squatting, which I did yesterday in Kerry Washington’s spot at Warner Brothers. I’ve mentioned before this isn’t the first nor the last time I take advantage of A-lister’s spot.

Do I enjoy doing this? Let’s just say every time I come upon a space that’s unoccupied, feel free to cue the “diving board” boner sound effect.