RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
I took this picture of a doggie at church several years ago, but he’s just so darn cute I thought I’d share it with you!
I simply love this song “When I Was a Boy” by Jeff Lynne’s ELO. It’s from his most recent album “Alone in the Universe,” and I can really relate to it. In fact, I was tempted to write my own version of this song, where the lyrics more closely convey the dreams I had when I was a boy. Enjoy…
Monday the 2nd – BE! QUIET! – In the middle of a few days of vocal rest, I got up around 1, did a few auditions (I did them quickly!) and hung out around the house trying to be as quiet as possible. Quick recap; in early March I got an allergy-based bronchial issue which had me coughing incessantly for 10 days. It fatigued my vocal cords something fierce. Then I started work soon after doing a job that wore out on particular part of my vocal cords, due to the repetitive nature of the job. So my voice would come and go in only ONE certain section. I could speak normally in my normal low range, but when I tried to go into a character voice or sing, a horrible “honk” and “scratch” would be heard. Not good. I tried to rest it, but there were meetings to attend, Wondercon to enjoy, and other things that required me to speak…A LOT! Having had these issues before, I know that the only thing that works is complete vocal rest. The vocal cords simply have to “un-inflame.” I made a pizza and watched the Blu Ray of “Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley Or Bust,” and it was magnificent! It’s a horrible thing to watch when you’re on vocal rest because of the temptation to sing along to these catchy songs, but I resisted. I napped for a bit (the best way for me to keep quiet for a long period of time) and got up later to do work around the house. I typed out Wally’s Week and got to bed around 6am. I got to enjoy a gorgeous “blue” morning; when it’s overcast and the sun doesn’t really become visible. But instead, it illuminates the overcast with various shades of gray and blue. Gorgeous!
Tuesday the 3rd – WHERE IS THAT PUPPET?! – After only a few hours of sleep I got up and made some soup and watched an episode of “Barnaby Jones” in bed. I had planned on going back to bed to get more reset, but I got a text from my pal Kelly Delcambre who said he was coming over to pick up my Adam West mannequin a little bit later. I had been trying to “buff” up the mannequin that displays my Adam West Batman costume over the past few weeks. I used a two-part compound called Magic Sculpt to try and fill out his chest and waistline to look more “manly.” But after several days of hard work on it, I realized it was above my skill level to continue. I don’t have the time, the skills, or the tools to do it right. So I engaged my pal Kelly (who supplied a lot of the great life-size figures for the Hollywood Museum’s 1966 Batman exhibit) to finish the job. For him it would be easy, as that’s what he does every day. Kelly brought his pal Clay over, who was in town visiting from Atlanta. I gave them the tour, handed the mannequin over to Kelly, and they were on their way. I napped for a bit and got up later to do feed the pets. I was working around the house when I got an e-mail from my agent saying that somebody at Warner Brothers clearances wanted to know if they could use a clip from the old “Murphy Brown” episode I did back in 1992. I told them I’d be honored if they used it; it’s how I got my SAG card! Then I started thinking about how funny that episode was, and how much I’d like to find out what happened to that puppet (named Kelbo) I used on the show. Boy would I love to have that in my collection! Anybody know where it is? I recorded an audition, and then figured a good way for me to get some work done and rest my voice at the same time, was to work on my photo albums. Quick recap: the volumes of photos I took when I lived in South Dakota were all contained in photo albums in my collection. But being 30-40 years old now, those photo albums began deteriorating. The photos were fine, but the albums they were in were not. So I got all new photo albums, paper and sheet protectors from Hobby Lobby and started reorganizing all the photos into two groups…1) South Dakota Performance, and 2) South Dakota personal. When I’m done with those, I need to do the same thing with my L.A. photos I’ve had for 30 years! So far I’ve finished “Impersonations,” “Original Characters,” and “Theatrical Productions.” Now I’m moving on to “Puppets,” and it’s been a lot of fun. I have to work on Thursday for an American Airlines session, so by then I think my voice will be alright. I made some spaghetti and watched another “Barnaby Jones” episode, then did some more work on the photo albums.
Wednesday the 4th – RESTING RUSTY PIPES! – Mid-afternoon I had lunch with my assistant Sara at Paty’s. All the seclusion in my house was driving me nuts! I went to the post office and mailed off some t-shirts to my folks that my pal Joey Torino made, got some packages at my mailbox, and then went home to nap. I want to be nice and crisp for that session on Thursday. When I got up later I fed the pets, checked some e-mails, and then went right back to napping. When I walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood it was cloudy, cool and quiet. Something about a cloud cover that seems to buffer all the normal city sounds. I’m sure there’s some scientific and acoustic explanation for that. But when it’s clear out, it seems that sounds from miles away can be heard. But I think the low clouds act as acoustic padding, and maybe sounds are deadened. I went to bed and my voice was sounding good. I’m crossing my fingers for tomorrow’s session. A while back I discovered the problem with eating before bed, and the acid reflux that can occur when you’re lying down which injures the vocal cords. So I was no longer doing that. I would eat at least 2-3 hours before I hit the hay. And doing that really helped my voice tremendously. But this problem was something else entirely!
Thursday the 5th – I’M NOT ALONE! – At 1 I woke up and headed over to Voice Trax West to do 3 hours for American Airlines. When I explained to the engineer there what had been going on, he said he knew of a girl that had the same thing happen to her doing a similar job. I guess I’m not alone in this struggle! He said the job she was doing required her to speak for long periods of time in the same pitch and intonation, and she lost a portion of her voice in the process. It didn’t make me feel much better, but at least I know it’s not just me. But the session went well! It was pronouncing a lot of Chinese cities for various prompts on the American Airlines phone system, but we were provided with reliable pronunciations so it was much easier. After the session I went over to my seamstress Shelley’s with some shirts I needed altered. Then I went home to feed the pets and prepare my Gran Torino for Friday. I’d be using it in an episode of a TV show that’s doing a nod to 70’s cop shows. I went to my auxiliary garage and parked my Mustang and drove my Gran Torino to my garage to stage it for Friday. I cleaned it out, stocked it with all the things I’d need for the shoot, did a few auditions, and then hit the hay.
Friday the 6th – TORINO TRICKS! – Bright and early at 9:30 I woke up, cleaned up, and took the Torino to the car wash to have her freshened up! After a good wash and wax I got to the set around 11:45 for the TV show (I can’t mention the name quite yet). I arrived just in time for lunch. So I ate my meal in the driver’s side of the Torino, being careful not to spill anything. Where the show was shot was right outside Stage 8 on this lot. That’s the stage where they shoot “Criminal Minds.” The show was on hiatus, so it was fun walking around the sets. Many of the furniture pieces were covered up, but it was great seeing all of the artistry and craftsmanship that went into making that show. For a second there, it almost made me want to be an on-camera actor! Then the time came for me to get the Torino into position. They did a few rehearsals of me driving the car into frame and hitting the mark. That was fun. Once the camera crew got the movement they wanted, they put the leads into the Torino and had them drive it into frame. Once it was in position the leads did their lines and close-up filming commenced. They finished all the shots they needed with the leads around 3, so then it was time for me to get behind the wheel and do some “stunt” driving. In the long shots of the Torino tearing through the mean city streets, I told them I needed to do the driving. They were fine with that, since nobody on the crew wanted to be responsible for driving the car. They were almost afraid of it! They got some long shots of the car driving around the studio lot, and then they rigged the car up with some GoPro cameras. They put clamps on the undercarriage to hold the cameras that were pointing at the grill, and the back tires. Then I would drive around slowly so they could get some cool close-up shots that they could cut in later. After that, they removed the rigging and shot me driving from an overhead drone! It was great! I had a walkie talkie in the car where I received my instructions for which streets to take, how fast to drive, etc. At one point I was heading right toward the low-flying drone and going very fast! But just at the last second, the drone stopped hovering and shot up into the air, allowing me to pass by unencumbered! I’m sure that shot looked great! I came home to feed the pets and I was EXHAUSTED! Not sure why really, as it was only a 5 hour day, but I was tired. I was also a bit sunburned. Even though it was cloudy, and I was wearing a cap, my chest got sunburned in the place where my shirt was open. It was just red, but thankfully not painful. I climbed into the shower, and climbed into bed. It felt wonderful! I got up later to do stuff around the house, and I finished the puppet photo album after working on it all night. Then I hit the hay. I’m VERY happy with how these photo albums are turning out.
Saturday the 7th – SATURDAY STUDIO STRUGGLING! – It’s rare that we Voice Actors have to work on weekends, but occasionally it happens. Such as today. Apparently the director for a new videogame is so busy, that the weekend was the only time he could record with the actors. This videogame is based on a cartoon I worked on (we did two seasons) so I needed to reprise my character’s voice for the game. But it was difficult, because this particular character’s voice resides in the exact section of my vocal cords that are problematic! I explained to the producers and director what was happening, but they said I only had a handful of lines so it should be OK. It was rough going, but we made it. I was hoping that this session wasn’t going to be a “setback” to all of the vocal rest I had been getting, and put me right back where I was a few weeks ago. After the session I went to my seamstress Shelley’s to give her a pattern, then I went to my new neighborhood Arby’s and had a meal! Up until recently we didn’t have an Arby’s in my neighborhood, but now we do and I couldn’t be happier! I enjoyed a Beef ‘N’ Cheddar, a Pizza Slider, some mozzarella sticks and a cherry turnover! YUM! Then I went to get some groceries. But when I went to the soda aisle to buy some Diet Pepsi, I was dismayed to find out that they added that poisonous Aspartame back into their recipe. I was so elated when they went to Splenda, since Aspartame is a neural toxin that I try to avoid. But now they’ve gone back. When they had Pepsi One with Splenda I was totally happy. Then they got rid of that and started using Splenda in regular Diet Pepsi. Now they’re back to that brain-rotting poison made from the feces of genetically modified E coli bacteria! How does that diet drink taste NOW?! When I got home I quickly contacted the Pepsi website with my displeasure, but their site says that they’re not abandoning the Splenda version. They provided a link to where you could buy it on-line, but the link was to an Amazon page that said “CURRENTLY UNAVAILBLE.” I’m a lifetime Pepsi lover, but this may be the thing that puts my exclusively into iced tea. Meh…perhaps it’s time to give up soda anyway. Who’s making these decisions for Pepsi anyway? All the back-and-forth with the changing of their recipe shows real weakness in leadership. Just make both recipes, and make them both readily available. End of story! If Coke can make all sorts of random flavors of their drink, Pepsi should be able to appease the anti-Aspartamers out there with an alternative. So I bought a big bottle of Diet Rite cola instead. I went out into the garage to do some work on the Torino. I noticed a few bolts were missing from key parts of the interior. So I found some suitable bolts that fit, installed them and painted them black to match. My driver’s side Gran Torino emblem also fell off during filming, but luckily they retrieved it and put it in the backseat. I took some Barge Glue and reattached it. Then I went inside to prep for movie night. We watched a Don Knotts film called “The Love God?” and it was hilarious. I knew of “Shakiest Gun,” “Reluctant Astronaut,” and “Mr. Chicken,” but I had never seen this one. What a hoot. Every time I used to meet Don Knotts at those autograph shows, I would tell him that he was the “Chaplin of our generation.” He seemed to like hearing that. After my guests left I napped for a bit on the couch. Then I got up around 5 to go pick up Sara and take her to the airport. She’d be working in Vegas Monday through Thursday and her flight left very early Sunday morning. Then I came back home, made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad, and watched the final “SNL” episode from the first season. I’m not sure whose idea it was to have Kris Kristofferson host, but it was a very VERY bad idea. I’m hoping the second season improves considerably. I did some work on my photo albums and then hit the hay.
Sunday the 8th – ANOTHER FRIEND PASSES! – As I suspected, the session I did on Saturday did my voice no favors. It was shot again! I just can’t seem to get a long period of time where it can rest! I called my “adopted grandma” Shirley to tell her I wouldn’t be at evening church. When I go I’m tempted to talk to a lot of people and sing along with the band. So I’m staying inside. I’m blessed with a lot of work right now, but I’m cursed with vocal cords that are still in a weakened condition from that bronchial issue from a month ago! I received the news in the afternoon that my pal Chuck McCann had passed away. I knew he had been sick, and had been warned that he was in the last days. Boy, it’s been a couple of rough years with friends passing away. Bummed out, I decided to go back to bed. I slept all evening. I got up later to do work on my photo albums. I made some lasagna and ate while I worked. I had to do another 3 hour session for American Airlines on Monday, and my fingers were crossed that my voice would be fine. But I really do think that videogame session on Saturday wrecked me for a while. But we’ll soon find out.
And how was YOUR week??!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
We were treated to some wonderful music while we worked!
Here’s some video of the crew setting up the shot.
Chuck McCann 1934-2018
This past week we lost another wonderful performer, and I lost another great friend. Though his illnesses kept me from seeing much of him over the past few years, I want to look back on some of the fun times I had with my buddy “Uncle Chuckie.” I’ll miss hearing that booming voice from across the restaurant, “Hiya kids!”
We’ll miss ya, Uncle Chuckie!