RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Last week my old pal “Weird Al” Yankovic got his much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! While that was happening, I was hanging out with a DIFFERENT weird Al. Einstein that is. Pondering the universe with a like-minded friend!
After watching the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special on the big screen I couldn’t get the final song “If I Can Dream” out of my head. It’s an amazing performance; probably one of the best he ever gave.
Monday the 20th – EP68@50! – The first stop of the day was to get my mail at my mailbox, then head over to the car wash to get my Mustang cleaned. BOY was it filthy! I stopped by L.A. Studios near Universal Studios to do some pick-up lines for the animated film I’ve been working on. I was all finished up around 5, so I raced home to feed the pets, walk Roxy, and then my pal Edi came over so we could head to Universal Studios’ Citywalk to see the 1968 Elvis Presley Comeback Special on the BIG screen! Since it’s the 50th anniversary of the career/life changing special, they had it on a limited run in theatres. I’ve always loved that special, and I have some very favorite parts. We got there early so we decided to grab a bit at the Citywalk food court. There’s a huge Jumbotron monitor on the front of the theaters that play continual music videos from current groups and musical artists (and I use the latter term VERY loosely!). Not one, and I mean NOT ONE of the songs we heard during the 45 minute meal we enjoyed was at all memorable. Oh sure, the record companies spent millions on the music videos, but perhaps their money would be more wisely-spent on teaching these kids how to write catchy hit songs. I didn’t leave the experience humming even ONE of the songs I had just heard. Like Edi said, “It’s just background noise.” Remember, Edi’s husband Elliot Lurie wrote one of the best-loved/known hit songs of all time; “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl.” In fact, Kurt Russell in “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” said (and I paraphrase) “Brandy by Looking Glass may be the best written song of the 1970’s…possibly of all time!” We went into the theatre and got our seats; big, comfy leather recliners! As a precursor to the feature they were showing Elvis’ home movies! And we laughed because a few of them were shot at the Palm Springs Honeymoon Hideaway, which we know very well, having been to several events there in the past. When the feature started it began with a video of Priscilla Presley (who looks FABULOUS, by the way) and Steve Binder, the mastermind director behind the special. It was fascinating. And when the music started it struck me; the junk we had just heard on the Citywalk juxtaposed against probably the greatest rock and roll showman in the history of the genre was palpable. Those poser kids need to do their research and take a lesson about how to REALLY write and perform great songs. After the special was over, Edi and I headed to my car and we were singing songs from the special all the way home. Considering the forgettable crap we heard over dinner, it was nice to have some catchy tunes inhabiting our ears. I got home and rested up, and got up later for my nightly auditions. I wrote Wally’s Week and hit the hay.
Tuesday the 21st – TASTY TUESDAY! – My day started with a conference call with my literary partners and our attorney. We were discussing strategy for a new project we’re all working on. I SO wish I could tell you about it! But you know how it goes. I spent the rest of the afternoon doing graphics and writing text for a completely different project, which I’m pitching at a meeting on Thursday. But I needed a break, so my friend Brittney Powell came over so we could jet over to Lancers in Burbank for their delicious beef barley soup. I came home with a VERY full tummy and napped a bit. I got up later to do my auditions, and then I finished up the graphics and writing on the pitch proposal. I fed and walked Roxy on our late night stroll through the neighborhood, made a YUMMY chicken, cheese and bacon pot pie and watched a few more Johnny Carson episodes. Absolutely hilarious! Speaking of the current posers not “getting it,” all the current late-night hosts should be forced to sit down and watch endless repeats of Johnny Carson, and get a friggin’ clue about what comedy is!
Wednesday the 22nd – WEDNESDAY WALKABOUT! – After spending a few hours working on my computer, I downloaded my graphics and text pages to a flash drive and walked a mile over to Kinko’s to get some prints made for the “leave-behinds.” (That’s the term for materials that you “leave behind” after a pitch meeting.) Pizza Rev, the pizza version of Subway, was right next door. So I enjoyed a nice Caesar salad and a small pepperoni pizza. I walked back home, napped for a bit, and then got up to record a ton of auditions. I assembled the pages for Thursday’s meeting, went over the pitch in my head, fed and walked Roxy, and then turned in.
Thursday the 23rd – STORK STRUCK! – On my way to a lunch meeting I decided to stop by my mailbox to get a few packages. And there in the middle of Burbank was a random stork (?) just walking around freely. It was an odd sight to be sure. I’ve been told since that it’s an egret, but it was still very cool to see. He wasn’t too sure about me, no matter how nicely I talked to him. But he sure was stunningly gorgeous! I got over to Paty’s for my lunch meeting with my old pal Daniel Roebuck. We hadn’t chatted in a while so it was good to catch up. But I wasn’t very good company, I’m afraid, as I was feeling a little surly. But visiting with Dan cheered me up. While we were eating his Geico commercial (he plays Alexander Graham Bell) came on the tube in the restaurant. Cool! I sped off to the pitch meeting at the production company. I told them all about a TV series idea I had that I was very passionate about. I think I ended up speaking for a straight 30 minutes! They seemed interested and taken with my passion. Fingers crossed! I’ve known the guys at this production company for about four years as I do occasional Voice Over for them. I got back home and did some work around the house, made some calls, and answered some e-mails. I napped on the couch for a bit, and then got up later to do some more work. After my auditions I tidied up for the maids (yeah, I cleaned for the maids!) and then called Denny’s to get some food to go. I picked up my order and promptly went on-line to make my reservation for an upcoming Palm Springs visit. The weather there has been amazing, and I’m hoping in September it’ll be just as nice! I can’t WAIT! I really need the break! I ate my Denny’s and watched a few more Johnny Carson episodes.
Friday the 24th – LIKE I SAID…EARLY FALL! – All summer I had been saying we’re going to get an early Fall. I love to keep an eye on things like that. In April we had our May weather, in May we had our June Gloom. In June we had our July weather, and in July we had our triple-digit August weather. Now that it’s the end of August, it’s feeling a lot like September. What a fantastic day it was! I got up at 2 for the maids, but they didn’t arrive until just before 4. I had a session at 5:30 so I told the ladies to make it a quick one. They left at 5:10, I hit the road and made my session at Studiopolis by 5:32…not bad! It was a short session…I only had 3 lines! Quick and easy! I made it over to the bank before they closed to make a deposit, and then stopped at Roundtable pizza to get a pizza to go. I ate my pizza in the grocery store parking lot, and then went inside to get a few items for the weekend. I got home, put the groceries away, and relaxed. I did a little work around the house and then grabbed a short nap. Later I got up to edit some videos, ate my leftover pizza and I went to bed.
Saturday the 25th – RETURN OF THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (PART 2)! – There were several things I needed to have done around my house, so I called my pal Handy Don to come do some fix-it work around the house and the studio. When he arrived at 1 he assessed the situation, and we took off to the local hardware store for supplies. Since I had my master bedroom shower redone several years ago I’ve had a water intrusion issue that creates mold on the wall towards the end of my tub. I had a contractor cut out the moldy drywall and replace it, patch it and paint it countless times. And each time he would re-caulk and grout the slits between the marble tiles. But nothing helped. But Handy Don figured out the problem. He discovered that when the track for the shower door was attached to the tub, it hadn’t been adhered with silicone properly. There were little beads of silicone on either side of the track, but that would eventually peel away and the water would get under the track and drip into the walls. So he had to remove the doors, all of the tracks and clean everything out. It was a huge job. He siliconed everything really well and put everything back together. Then he came downstairs to work on adjusting a few drawers in my studio area. While he worked I added some Elvis songs to my iPod. Handy Don finished up and left just before my guests arrived for movie night. Good timing! Shout Factory just released “Return of the Living Dead; Part 2” on Blu Ray. It was the first film I worked on shortly after moving here in 1987. I had seen it many times before, but I was looking forward to the clarity Blu Ray provided so I could try and pick myself out of the zombie crowds. I was in the final scene at the power plant, and recall with crystal clear recall how damned cold it was. Just coming out of South Dakota I figured, “How cold could it be in February in Los Angeles?” But BOY was I surprised! The second night I worked on the set I came with lots of layers. A few interesting memories about the three or four days I worked on that film…firstly, I had found out about the casting while visiting my pal Dr. Demento at the KMET studios on Sunday evening. There was a notice on the bulletin board that if you wanted to be a zombie in a movie you were to send in a picture to an address. I jumped at the chance, but didn’t hear from them for a few months. By the time they called I was already working full-time at the Westwood One Radio Network from 7:30am to 4pm. They filmed all night up in Valencia, which was about 40 miles from where I lived in Culver City. So after work each day, I hit the road and headed to the set. They blackened my eyes and assigned me a zombie mask, created by make-up master Kenny Myers. The main zombie cast members were equipped with full prosthetics, but the extras wore pull-over latex masks. In order to ensure that the masks would be returned to the make-up trailer at the end of the evening, the make-up staff would hold your Driver License. When you returned the mask, you would get your license back. The mask they gave me was jokingly referred to as “Burt the Zombie,” because of his passing resemblance to Burt Reynolds. At least the half of his face that was still present looked like Burt, the other half was torn zombie flesh. I was in absolute heaven. I had wanted to do something like this since I was a kid reading “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine! (Oddly enough, Forrest J. Ackerman did a cameo on the film!) I had forgotten that my sister Bonnie’s favorite actor Mitch Pileggi was ALSO in the film! So being in the same film as those to amazing legends is a pretty amazing feeling! But after the second day of filming, the long hours had started wearing on me. So after our dinner break I laid down in the corner with my Burt the Zombie mask clutched in my arms and nodded off for a bit. But I was awakened by people standing around me yelling, “BURT! BURT! BURT! WAKE UP!” Since nobody knew each other’s names, they had to wake me up to get on the set, but the only name they knew to call me was Burt. I stood up, pulled on my mask and headed to the set! But I was really, really tired. And cold. On the way home (remember, I had to be at work at 7:30 the next morning at Westwood One, and we wrapped around 2am!) I got a bit lead-footed. I got pulled over by a CHP officer for speeding down the 5 freeway. So here’s this kid with dark make-up around his eyes in a white station wagon. And NO DRIVER LICENSE! I had left the set so quickly I had forgotten to remove my make-up, and get my license back! I explained to the officer that I was very tired from working on both a film and a regular job, and I was in a hurry to get home. He reminded me that driving fast while tired wasn’t a good idea. I also explained that my license was left with the make-up staff. But he ran my plates and found out that I was who I said I was. I don’t think he gave me a ticket, but I could be wrong. I remember the next day having a later call-time, so I got a little rest before going back. Oddly enough, on a whim, I decided to wear my Michael Jackson replica Thriller jacket to the set. I had seen it for sale at Burman Leather in the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls in 1984, and I wanted it badly! But it was over $300! I had a parody song called “Chiller,” and I thought it would be fun to have the jacket for any photos or publicity for the song. But at that time in my life $300 may well have been $3 MILLION! But after all, it WAS Sioux Falls, and the style of jacket was a little too “flashy” for most Sioux Falls residents. So I watched the price gradually drift downward. Until finally it got to around $35, and I snatched it up! When I walked on to the set to the wardrobe trailer I could see several sets of bugged-out eyes following me. I guess they really liked the jacket. One of the crew came up to me and explained that they were making up one of the main actors that very day as a Michael Jackson Thriller zombie for a special comedy bit in the movie. All they had for him to wear was a black satin jacket, but as luck would have it, here I was with the real deal! They asked if they could use it in the film, and I told them they could as long as they didn’t ruin it. (If I hadn’t been such a newbie, I would have asked for a pay bump for the loan of the jacket!) But they told me for loaning the jacket for the shot, I could sit with the director and the main cast at the meal! I eagerly agreed! This showbiz thing was all right! I hadn’t realized at the time that one of the other actors (Philip Bruns) was also from Sioux Falls! If I had realized it, we could have had a fun conversation! While they didn’t ruin the jacket, they had to spray it with something called “liquid glass.” This would prevent it from catching fire if any stray pyrotechnics happened to get on the jacket. But most of the liquid glass was easily cleaned off the jacket after the shot with some naptha. Good memories indeed, but at the time I sure could have benefited from some of the things I know now. I also remember the rush of freezing extras that occurred upon hearing the word “CUT,” as we fought for a place around one of the provided gas heaters. Who knew it was that cold in Southern California?! My pal Mark had me dig the jacket out of my Chaney Room closet for a few photos. He even got a shot of me in my “Burt the Zombie” mask as I pushed my way through a mob of zombies to try and get some brains. There’s a really great shot of me as I walk past the camera. I can remember most of it like it was yesterday! The first night I opted to just have the make-up team darken my hands with something called Fuller’s Earth (fake dirt.) But take after take of banging on the chain link fence put little cuts in the palms of my hands. There are sharp little metal pieces on that chain link! But my hands were so cold I couldn’t feel it at the time. So the next nights I opted to wear the rubber zombie hands the make-up crew provided. It kept my palms unscathed, and warm! But if you fast-forward to 2013, Kenny Myers is on the set of “The Tonight Show” as Harrison Ford’s personal make-up artist. I saw him in the parking lot and introduced myself as the show announcer. I told him the first project I did when I moved here was “ROTLD;2” and he also had fond memories of it. I told him I had a lot of great photos I could send him. I also referred to Burt the Zombie and he remembered it well. I offered to buy the mask if it was still in existence. He said he’d look around his shop, but he suspected it had either decayed or had “gone missing” years ago. But we exchanged information nonetheless. Later he called to inform me that while the original mask was long gone, he DID still have the original mold! He said the chances of that still existing were so miniscule it boggled the mind. Most of the molds from that movie 26 years ago had gotten broken, stolen or misplaced. He said he’d make me up a new one and I was elated. When his assistant brought it over I was ready to cut a check for whatever the cost, but he instructed me that Kenny wouldn’t take any money for it. I was blown away! I sent him a text of thanks immediately and he said it was his pleasure! Now, every time I see Kenny at a convention I always give him a big hug. What a cool guy! After my movie night pals left I grabbed a quick nap on the couch. I got up later to do some work and feed and walk Roxy. I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad and watched an episode of “SNL” from the second season DVD set. Steve Martin was the host and it was hilarious! Handy Don told me that the new silicone had to set for 72 hours, so until Tuesday I have to shower in the Puppet Room. I hadn’t really used that bathroom since it had been remodeled several years ago, as it’s mostly for guests. But I fell TOTALLY IN LOVE with the shower head in that shower! It was amazing! Lots of pressure and seven heavenly settings! In the Puppet Room, the shower head is mounted to a bar, so the height can be adjustable. That way tall guests as well as short guests can be accommodated satisfactorily. I looked all around for some sort of company logo on the shower head so I could buy more of these! But I wasn’t finding anything. I gotta get one for MY shower! And one to take with me for my hotel room in Palm Springs! Before settling down to sleep I made the fatal error of flipping around on the satellite. “Silence of the Lambs” was on one HBO channel, and “Hannibal” was on the other simultaneously. I knew where I was going to be for the next two hours…flipping between the two channels. I feel “Silence” is one of the greatest thrillers ever made. Everything works in that movie! “Hannibal” has some very good scenes (Gary Oldman’s performance and make-up are both under the heading of cinematic legend!) but it’s not quite “Silence.” I love, love, love Ted Levine! Anything he’s in I enjoy, because he’s such an interesting actor to watch! By the time it was all over it was close to noon Sunday!
Sunday the 26th – ROXY’S RETURN! – After four hours of sleep I woke up to head to church. After having not gone with me for several weeks because of the heat, it was a nice enough evening to walk over with Roxy. Everyone there was glad to see her! My “adopted grandma” Shirley didn’t come to movie night the previous night because she wasn’t feeling well, and she phoned to tell me she wouldn’t be at church either. I don’t like hearing she’s not feeling well. At the age of 91, you just never know. Hopefully she’s back to her old/young self soon. After the service Roxy and I walked back home and relaxed. I was pretty beat so I slept on the couch for a while. I got up later in the evening to do my auditions, work around the house, and look up my shower head. After exhaustively searching with several terms and attributes about the shower head, I found the exact model on Amazon! It’s called a Hotelspa 7-setting Aquacare shower head. I ordered 2, had some cereal and headed to bed.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK