How to Get Through the Coming Winter

New Zealand’s winter is over. Those seven months really flew by, thanks to activities (and activity-related activities), which made the time go faster.

Northern hemisphereans should start thinking of fun things to do when their winter arrives. New Zealanders plan winter activities early in autumn, a habit northern peoples are wise to adopt.

To begin planning, take time over the next few weeks to answer these key questions:

  • What are my fun-time winter activities?
  • How many hours should I set aside for each fun-time winter activity?
  • Will I need to prioritize or will there be ample time and opportunity to do all my winter activities before spring begins?

If you have trouble answering these questions at first, don’t worry. Just imagine yourself doing all your favorite warm weather activities, except now you’re wearing a coat. Many examples may come to mind, so unfortunately, you probably will have to prioritize.

Here’s how. Write the numbers 1 through 5 down the left side of a blank piece of paper. Then quickly jot down a winter activity next to each number as the activities come to mind. Chances are you’ll end up with your top five favorite fun-time winter activities, from most favorite to least, because the more favored the activity the sooner you’ll have jotted it down.

A Top-Five Fun-Time Winter-Activities List may look something like this:

  1. Sorting organic waste from recyclables and placing them in their proper containers.
  2. Decoupage.
  3. Visiting a theme park/attending a sports event/grabbing a coffee with friends.
  4. Volunteering.
  5. Signing up with an agency to be cast as an extra in a television show, movie or commercial.

Remember, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Most likely, your top five will be different from other people’s, so there’s no reason to worry about “getting it right” or “keeping up with the Joneses.” The important thing is to have fun in the order in which you wrote down your fun-time winter activities, crossing each out one-at-a-time as soon as you’ve accomplished it. If you do this, your winter will go by in a speedy and orderly fashion.

Don’t believe me? Read my testimonial.

Signing up with an Extra Agency or How I Got to Meet Lucy Lawless: a Testimonial

My agency landed me three TV commercial auditions. I’ll never forget the first one because it was for a bread company and I really love bread.

I wanted the lead role of baker. The script called for the baker to “savor” a freshly-baked loaf. I would’ve been perfect. People always say I look like I’m savoring something. I have that look. I wouldn’t’ve even had to act. The agency, however, preferred I go out for the supporting Letter Carrier role, and I prepared for my audition with gusto.

My research consisted of opening, reading and discarding my neighbors’ mail indefinitely. I was already starting to think like a mailman. I studied mailman culture, eating only what mailmen eat, drinking only what mailmen drink and firing my automatic weapon at unsuspecting colleagues only at such times as mailmen do such things.

I did not get the part despite my preparations. It went instead to a German actor who arrived for his audition already wearing a mailman’s uniform. Typical German.

I didn’t have luck with my other two auditions, either and I was about ready to give up my extra career when the agency called one last time. They had a role for me, this time as a “featured extra” in an episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

I was cast as “Grain Merchant” and little did I know that my tiny part would grow to be a pivotal character upon which so many various plots turned, a role that was originally written for Russell Crowe––who happened to be busy that day––and that was slotted to be the title character of a spin-off series and feature-length movie (inspiring an inevitable porno version, The Groin Merchant, also written with Russell Crowe in mind.)

Little did the director know any of this either, so not everything went according to plan.

The day started ok. I arrived at the studio at 6:30 in the morning, quickly changed into costume and ate breakfast. As a featured extra, I was very good to the little people, the Non-Specificed Extras. I made tons of friends. I greeted younger extras with a comradely, “I’m wearing underwear older than you,” and I conveyed a certain bonhomie to the older female extras with shouts of, “Ready for your close-up, Gloria Swanson?” (Cougars. You gotta love ‘em.)

Then there was a snafu, and I ended up on set in the wrong location. I stood behind a table with two baskets filled with barley and blue peas. Behind me were a number of ewers on a plank dangling by two ropes from an upper room, the idea being that from my grains I brewed a mildly intoxicating beverage in an upper-room distillery I probably rented from a wealthier landlord. I was no longer a Grain Merchant but a Retail-Level Value Added Reseller of Grains and Grain-Products.

As things turned out, my “wrong” location was right where characters played by Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray were supposed to turn a corner, so the director had no choice but to include me in at least some of the shots, a chance I  wouldn’t have gotten had I been standing where I was supposed to stand.

Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray spent a lot of time there, too, obviously. They were very nice and chatted with the extras but after a take, an assistant director told me to “try not to look so terrified” as they passed. Later, Lucy Lawless heard my accent and asked where I was from and what I was doing there and instead of saying “selling grain,” like Jacquie later suggested I should have said, I gave the boring truth and, feeling ashamed of my boring answer, I tried to recover by pretending I had an OCD issue with the grain.

It was pretty lame and Lucy Lawless quickly lost interest and later I enjoyed a delicious roast vegetable casserole for lunch.