Homesick Texan Cookbook Giveaway

12 Feb

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Texpat Christopher Shea

16 Jan

Christopher Shea is not only a great Assistant Director. He is one of those people with wattage. This guy could charm the pants off even those mean ladies who work behind the counter at Macy’s. Chris shares his experience working in the film industry and what we all know to be the true meaning of life: TACOS.

Where are you from in Texas?
From NE San Antonio, the closest side to Austin. Then I lived in Austin for 15 years. San Antonio has my birth certificate, Austin has my heart.

Did you always want to work in movies?
ALWAYS. Acting, writing, directing, editing, lighting, cinematography. I LOVE it all and I’ve done it all at one point or another, only to settle most recently on the highly stressful task of Assistant Directing. Yay me!

How’s NYC compared to home?
NYC is waayyyyyy more vibrant, fast-paced, and gritty, but the people are generally the same considering 50-75% of the people you meet are usually from somewhere else also. The getting dark at 4:30 thing takes some getting used to and the frequent rain is also something that’s made the umbrella the ultimate NYC accessory. And the big culinary trade off seems to be bagels and pizza for quality mexican food and of course, TACOS. If you ask for a breakfast taco in New York City, you hear crickets dropping pins as tumbleweeds blow through the minds of the vendors you ask. Tacos = NWTBF.

How’s the New York film scene?
The New York film scene is thriving. Maybe not as strongly as the television scene, but the film scene is much stronger than it is in Austin, at least during the course of the last year. I love meeting new people and experiencing new activities not previously encountered on film sets. New York is perfect for that sort of thing, but just because there’s plenty of work AND because it is New York City, does not necessarily mean people up here have a firmer grasp of filmmaking than filmmakers anywhere else. In fact, there have been numerous occasions where it is quite the opposite. Either way, I think the concentration of affluence, mated with the attractiveness of cinema sort of produces a high frequency of projects in production at any given moment.

What’s your most surreal ADing misadventure?
That’s a tie. On one film last Summer called “Mt. Joy,” we built a barn exterior only to burn it down at the end of that week. The entire population of Lancaster and surrounding areas, news media and the fire department were on hand to watch, along with several Amish adults and children. It was suggested that 40 feet would be a “safe” distance to shoot from, but previous experience had led me to believe that at 40 feet, it would feel as if our faces were melting off. I suggested we go back further (65 ft maybe), but was overruled by the director (a always present part of the job), so we shot, lit the fire and then after 10 minutes, the blaze was starting to melt stuff and people’s zippers were starting to heat up beyond reason (not a great spot for concentrated heat). We had to cut and relocate the entire crew, back, another 20 feet to finish shooting before the structure completely fell. It was a lot of yelling and ensuring that we were indeed getting the right shots. I remember looking back into the eyes of some Amish kid (in my mind he has a beard, but I know that’s impossible) about 20 feet further back and the look on face was that of pure astonishment and wonder. You could tell he’d never seen anything like that. It sort of lent an interesting perspective about the movie, my job, and my life. I smiled.

And the second involved a film I worked with TexPats’ own Jenny Joslin where not enough planning was made to ensure that a 65 foot Panavision Technocrane would make it’s way poolside at the Catalina Beach Club near Long Island. The shot involved tracking a subject from a 2nd floor cabana house down to a diving board where the subject would dive into a pool (where we followed him with a underwater mount called a “Hydroflex”) and then reveal our protagonist at a poolside bar. The Shot was suppose to be spectacular, but no one had checked to make sure there was a six foot clearance at any of the entrances to the club before hand. We could not get it in, or around, or poolside, for that matter. So, this $7,000 dollar, 5,000 pound, German designed, steel beast only got as far as the parking lot where we opened up the truck it was in to pose for pictures before sending it back to Panavision. The Teamsters were smiling in the pics, but now I realize it’s probably because they got paid well to basically do nothing. We made our day anyway and came up with some nice alternative shots, but I think all day, people were left wondering what that shot would have been like. I certainly was. Jenny of course looks beautiful no matter what angle you shoot her from, so she made the day that much better to get through.

Most magical ADing experience?
Making it rain. Again, the same project I was on with Jenny. The budget was just sweet enough to recreate a classic film noir scene on film with fog, a circa 1940s vehicle, period costumes, and of course, rain. Three rain towers positioned over an area about 150 feet in length meant we could only have two towers on while the third waited to be activated as the camera tracked and panned with our lead. The pressure from the hydrant on the street wasn’t strong enough. Couple all of this with special lighting instruments that recreate lightning and from watching the monitor, it was clear that magic was indeed made.
Any juicy celebrity sightings?
Uhh, Jarred Harris in the East Village. Haley Joel Osment on a music video in Prospect Park. Kristen Wiig at Jenny Joslin’s birthday party. OH, and Curt Humphries at a Annette Flores afterparty – probably the best one.

Where can we find you on a normal day?
Daytime working – you can’t. Although you may run into me somewhere on the streets of New York City. Daytime not working – humble abode in Clinton Hill – BROOKLYN. Night time – Fulton Grand in Clinton Hill, Franklin Park in Prospect Park, Bar 116 on MacDougal Street and of course late nights at Artichoke Pizza.

You’re hosting a dinner party with five of your favorite people (living or dead). Who’s in attendance?
Stanley Kubrick, Eddie Vedder, Albert Einstein, Grace Kelly, Buddha (standbys – Gary Oldman, Ernest Hemingway, Christopher Marlowe)

One piece of advice for someone who wants to work in the pictures?
“Keep it up, don’t stop, don’t lose your place.” — New Villager


5 Dec

Courtesy of The American Shakespeare Center

Rising Stage Star, Michael Amendola, is traveling with The American Shakespeare Center; performing in a rotating repertory of 12 actors. This season, Michael is performing on the Almost Blasphemy Tour through June 2012. The troupe not only play different characters in one of three shows; They are also a traveling band who perform live music at the beginning of their shows. To learn more about the Almost Blasphemy Tour, check out Michael gives stories and advice to the Texpats, and We’re considering becoming his groupies.

Where are you from in Texas?

I was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. “Keep San Antonio lame”.

I attended college at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX where I got my BFA in acting and then I spent two years out of college in Austin, TX. I basically slowly inched my way 130 miles along Interstate-35 for 24 years. Although I spent most of my time in San Antonio, I like to say I am from Austin because that is where my heart is.

What’s it like to tour with the American Shakespeare Center?

The road is like walking on an escalator on a merry go round on a cruise ship with a karoke microphone and a gallon of water strapped to your back. It is also like a bear hibernating in a dark and cold cave. It is also like staring in a mirror for way too long. It is also like an indie rock music video filled with falling autumn leaves and slow motion dance parties. It is like an exotic fruit cocktail chased with cold coffee out of a Styrofoam cup. The experience is as much psychological as it is tangible. We have to be in a certain place at a certain time and do and say certain things, but all of the other time, it is an angsty toddler exploring without his mother. Learning, discovering, fearing uncertainty, getting bored, blanking out into hazes, and rejoicing in the new. It is hello and goodbye in the wink of an eye.

How do your audiences respond to Shakespeare?

It is mostly very positive. A lot of people in the world have a pre-conceived notion that Shakespeare is boring, or too high-falutent, almost pretentious. A lot of times it certainly does come off that way when it is performed badly. English students should remember that Shakespeare was meant to be seen and experienced rather than read, and when you see an ASC show that really hits home. The style is very high energy with lots of audience interaction and lots of contemporary music. Our audiences are mainly college campuses, but are open to the public. It is especially interesting when we play small town community centers, because the whole town seems to come out to see the show. They have such great appreciation for something cultural to becoming into their town and they listen whole heartedly. It is really interesting playing different states and see how people react to plays such as ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by John Ford, which to this day is still very controversial and you can hear the audience’s varied responses from backstage.

Did you always want to be an actor?

When I was a little kid I wanted to be a cartoonist, a basketball player, a journalist, a chess player, a fireman, a professional bowler..etc. By  the end of high school I realized that if I chose to be an actor, I could kind of do all of those things. I could experience more facets of the human condition than if I did anything else. My mother still wanted me to pursue something more practical so I went into College thinking I would do some form of journalism, but after my first college play, I was hooked forever.

Courtesy of The Austin Shakespeare Festival

                                     Courtesy of The Austin Shakespeare Festival

What do you miss about home?

1. Breakfast Tacos
2. Swimming in November (comfortably)
3. Austin. The vibe, the nightlife, the music, the food, the people, the run down warehouse theatres, the WEIRDness.
4. Everything is cheap and everything is BIG in Texas. (except for the things that are small and expensive…)

Most surreal touring adventure?

I will keep it kind of discreet for the moment. But I guess the juxtaosition of being in rural Virginia one day, and then the next being in downtown Washington D.C, then Ohio, then Manhattan. It feels like a lucid dream. Although, I did visit a club in Pennsylvania called the Cell Block which is a converted prison, which was pretty surreal.

Worst traveling mistake?

This didn’t happen to me, but somebody in our troupe left keys to one of the vans at a gas station in a different state and had to drive all night and morning to retrieve them. Also, don’t do anything that might make you feel a little nauseous before you have to travel 8 hours thru a mountain range.

You’re hosting a dinner party with five of your favorite figures (living or dead). Who’s in attendance?

1. Jim Henson
2. The Pixies (does that count?)
3. Tina Fey
4. Buster Keaton
5. Laura Lane

How’s the food on the road?

Always save money for eating in Maine. Experiencing cultural cuisine is definitely one of the huge perks on the road. We cannot afford to indulge often, but we wait for the perfect places like New England Clam Chowder and Lobster in Maine. They’ll put Lobster in ANYTHING. Fresh crab from Baltimore. Aligator dumplings. Bar B Q and breakfast tacos from Texas (of course). Truffle fries and maple chicken panini from Oneonta, NY. But honestly, most of the time, we’re eating Subway and Ruby Tuesday if not just stashing muffins from hotel continental breakfasts.

Courtesy of Zach Scott Theater

                                                                                              Courtesy of Zach Scott Theater

What’s your advice to other actors?

1. Take Risks. I emptied my bank account to go to this audition, and I got it and my life is changed forever.
2. Don’t be an asshole. Once you get your break into some aspect of the business, I believe that the only thing stopping you is yourself. Don’t be an asshole. Let things that you don’t have control of, slide, and take control of what you can while being a good person. Always remember that you are being paid to play, and many others don’t have that luxury. This business is not as cut throat as you think.
3. Always find the joy in creating in any form, and it will keep you inspired.
4. Create a life outside of acting. Otherwise you will go insane.

Where can we find out more about you?

You can read my blog at
You can find my bio and those of the other touring actors at:
You can also feel free to reach me at:

TEXPAT OF THE WEEK: Jonathan Valdez

22 Nov

Texpat Jonathan Valdez, Creator of, and three-time Official Press at New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week sat down to tea with the Texpats to talk about New York Adventures and what he misses about Texas.

Where are you from in Texas?

Bay City, Texas near Houston. My background is Mexican-American so we had quinceaneras and there were high school football victory parties. These sassy black girls taught me how to dance to hip-hop and I would go two stepping at dance halls. I realized I was only going to be in High School once so I milked that shit up.

How was Orange Juice and Biscuits conceived?

I went to Texas State University and pitched Orange Juice and Biscuits as a show to the college radio station, who at first didn’t think anyone would be interested in celebrity interviews. We ended up being the first radio show to get press at Austin 360 and South by Southwest, eventually becoming one of the most popular shows and interviewing David Arquette, Paul Rudd, Jamie Presley, Rashida Jones among others. After College, instead of pursuing radio, I began blogging and came to New York in September 2009 where OJ&B began to evolve into fashion.

Did you expect this kind of response?

I’ve always stayed true to myself. A comedian told me you have to do what makes you laugh and other people will laugh. That hit a cord with me and I’ve always done things my own way: with my fedoras and bow ties as well as my writing. I’m doing something I really love and it’s been such a huge honor to work at fashion week.

What was it like to be new to New York?

There’s nothing like your first year in New York City. Even from the second year it changes and you have to remember all the strides and how it felt the first time it happened to you.

What do you miss about home?

Mostly it’s the people there. I was very fortunate to grow up in an area with a lot of culture. It takes until you leave a place to realize how special it is.

Most surreal NYC adventure?

Just having things happen that I know would not have happened if I wasn’t here. The most surreal thing is when I get to go to events because they are inviting me! It’s crazy.

What makes someone a real New Yorker?

I think a real New Yorker is someone who knows where to go on a certain night in their neighborhood. A real New Yorker is someone who is excited to share their city with their friends. I think a New Yorker will explore their city and not be snobby. If you never go above 14th St. you’re really limiting yourself.

How many bow ties do you own?

I’m going to say in the 20’s. About 25. I’m working on my collection right now because some have been lost. I hope (they’ve) found good homes. If I’m going to an interview or event, I usually just throw a bow tie on just because it’s my thing now.

Where can we find you on a normal day in NYC?

On a normal day, I’m probably at my apartment because of my blog. I live in Harlem. I first asked myself, “Is that chic?” and to me, it’s very up and coming, like the new Brooklyn. During the day I go to showrooms, and then in the evenings, I go to events.

You’re hosting a dinner party with five of your favorite New Yorkers (living or dead). Who’s in attendance?

1. Anna Wintour
2. Sarah Jessica Parker
3. Andy Warhol
4. The Olsens
5. 80’s Madonna

One piece of advice for someone new to the city?

Don’t rush things because they will work out. Enjoy being in the city; enjoy being lost, or scared, and broke. Don’t be afraid to let it happen. The first year is all about adventure. Just be, and let New York take you on a journey.

Listen to the full interview

Also, Watch

Texpats Episode One is here!!

21 Nov

Would-be stars Curt, Jenny and Annette are going to make it in New York (even though they can barely survive) by battling big city humiliation with decadence, glamor and substance abuse.

Starring Annette Flores, Curt Humphries and Jenny Joslin

Created by Lauren Thompson, Annette Flores, Curt Humphries and Jenny Joslin

Episode One Directed by Lauren Thompson, Produced and Edited by Zachary Donohue

Texpat of the Week: Kathleen Callahan

7 Nov

World traveler, environmentalist, and cyclist Kathleen Callahan is currently teaching (and snorkeling) on the island of Jeju in South Korea. She gives the Texpats some words of wisdom from the road.

Where are you from in Texas?

I’m from Dallas originally, and I called Austin home before coming to Korea.

Did you always want to travel?

This is a question I haven’t ever really thought about oddly enough, but definitely YES. You know when you’re a child and you pretend to do grown up things like cook dinner or work for a law firm? Well, this is a bit weird now that I think about it, but I remember very specifically going into JC Penny’s and heading straight for the luggage section. I would take a piece of the American Tourister and pretend to pack up for a big trip then roll the luggage around for a while. My family never really traveled but after my first big trip with my school to New Mexico I was hooked. There’s nothing like the feeling of getting on an airplane knowing you’ll be landing in a new city, state, or better yet continent. I’m most certainly a travel junky for life!

What do you miss about home?

Friends and family foremost but two other very important things await my return to the great country of Austin Texas, salsa and easily accessible English yoga classes.

Most surreal international adventure?

Easy, being in Morocco, in the Sarah Desert, and camping with the Berbers. We talked, ate their homemade tagine, smoked hashish all night long, and sang a special Berber rendition of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” with the chorus “Whyeyeyaya, whyeyaya, why are there so many scorpions (in the Sahara)”. The night ended with an hour hike up a large sand dune, where it proceeded to rain. Rain in the African desert with the nomads, that is my moment. Life has been good to me.

Worst traveling mistake?

Brushing my teeth with the water in India. This particular mistake had consequences for the entire trip (ones which need not be discussed) and when I returned, most memorably coming home from NYC to Austin in the security line at JFK. You saw me, you know. Enough said.

You’re hosting a dinner party with five of your favorite historical, literary or mythological cretures living or dead. Who are they?

1) Steven Hawking
2) Anthony Bourdain
3) Benazir Bhutto
4) Nick Drake
5) A Talking Narwhal

What kind of impact have you had in Korea?

Well, I as far as teaching goes I think I’ve given the kids a good perception of Westerners and expanded their world view a little bit (they won’t come in contact with non-Koreans in Korea almost anywhere but in my class). But in all honesty my trip here was selfish in nature. I wanted to see the eastern perspective, and enjoy this beautiful island. Jeju has made way more of an impact on me than I on it. The scenery is unreal here and I find a new island treasure almost everyday. From the lava tubes, volcanoes and orums, to natural springs and soft coral, Jeju is a magical place with as much heart and soul in its people as its terrain. The Koreans (Jeju-doites) have been remarkably kind and hospitable. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation abroad.

PS Vote for JEJU as a Natural Wonder of the World ( 7 days and counting!!!

How can I get you to name a student after me?

Advice on life?

If you are reading this you’re probably more privileged than most of the world. Don’t take it for granted. I’ve visited really, really poor places where people are born starving and homeless. Stop complaining, and make sure you love every moment here because there’s a strong possibility that this is it.
Also, don’t ever miss a good pun opportunity.

Things are too boring here in NYC. Think I’ll move to New York, Texas

5 Nov

New York, Texas lies at the intersection of FM 804 and FM 607 in a stereotypically flat portion of East Texas, surrounded mostly by farm land. It contains no streams, lakes, hills or other notable geographic features.

New York was first settled around 1856 by James C. Walker, Davis Reynolds, Jesse M. Forester, and A. M. Otts at a location south of the present site. The present site was settled in 1873. The community was reportedly named either by T. B. Herndon as a joke or by Reynolds because of his hopes for the town’s future.
By 1884 New York had two steam gristmills and cotton gins, two churches, a district school, and a population of 60, which rose to 100 by 1892. A post office operated there from 1876 to the first decade of the 1900s.
The town declined after it was bypassed by the railroad in 1901. Its school was consolidated with the Poynor system in 1936.

In 1986,nearby Dunsavage Farms (a restaurant, antique shop, and bed and breakfast) began to market New York, Texas, Cheesecake, which became nationally known by 1992.

Exciting stuff.