RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK

While looking through my old Elvis photos, I spied this shot of my folks backstage at our “Elvis Lives” concert that we did on August 16, 1980 as a fundraiser for the Sioux Falls Jaycees. Great shot of my folks!

When I worked on 94.7 The Wave back in the 80’s they played music from an artist named Andreas Vollenweider. His “Down to the Moon” CD was an amazing piece of work, but all of the tracks ran right into the next. I believe his intention was that it be listened to as one long piece, as opposed to individual songs. But on radio that doesn’t work, so we’d play the amazing “Moon Dance” on the air, but it had such an abrupt opening it was a bit shocking. I recently bought the remastered CD and decided for my own purposes I’d combine the opening song “Down to the Moon” with “Moon Dance,” so the harp gliss at the beginning of the latter song wouldn’t be so jarring. Thanks to my pal Scott Sebring for helping my do this special mix, the song is even MORE enjoyable. Here’s the special “Wingert” mix of “Down the Moon/Moon Dance.” Enjoy!

Monday the 18th – CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN! – It wouldn’t be long now until Christmas will have arrived! After having slept all night on the couch, I got up at 9am and did some work around the house. It felt weird being awake in the morning. I reheated my lasagna from last night’s dinner at Miceli’s, and watched a few “Welcome Back, Kotter” episodes. But I slept again from 2 to 6 in the afternoon. What a strange day. When I got up I handled some e-mails and phone calls, and then drove over to my seamstress Karyn’s studio to pick up my newly-shortened Robin cape for my Robin mannequin (which will be on display for three months at the Hollywood Museum). I stopped at the Burger King drive through and picked up some dinner, and then drove over to a house in Sherman Oaks to see another “Christmas House” a friend had told me about. It was fairly difficult to find, and was on a narrow, curvy mountain road. Unlike my favorite Christmas House in Burbank, which has a multitude of lighting effects that are computer programmed to dance to music that’s broadcast from a private FM signal, this house had animatronic elves and a Santa that sang to a number of songs. It even had fake snow that shot out of a tree. While it was very clever and creative, I didn’t like the fact that you had to park your car on the narrow street and get out of your car and stand in the cold to see it. You can stay in my nice, warm car and watch the show at the Burbank house. I got cold fairly quickly, so I only stayed for a short portion of the show. It also featured a movie screen where you could watch accompanying video of different images; both animated and live-action. While it was darn clever, I felt it was missing a lot of the humble charm and intimacy of the Burbank house. And the music they used was all re-recorded versions of famous Christmas songs. I wished they would have used the original recordings, like the Burbank house. Oh well…to each his own. I gradually got my car turned around on the narrow street and headed back home. I could barely imagine what that street must have been like when there were a lot of visitors there to see the house. It must be a nightmare! I got home and did some work, took a short nap and got up later for a few auditions. Since most of the industry has shut down already, business has slowed to a trickle. I typed out Wally’s Week, fed and walked Roxy, and came back inside to thaw out. It was a very cold night, so I made soup and a sandwich and watched a few more “Welcome Back, Kotter” episodes before bed.

Tuesday the 19th – FEEL THE HEAT! – My semi-annual appointment with my heating and A/C guy was supposed to happen between 1 and 3, but he didn’t end up arriving until 3:45. It’s OK though, because once he got on the roof he had to do some patching of a duct which had some rust holes. At 4:30 I drove to my box to get my mail, and then went back home to clean up for a dinner meeting. It’s always great to hang out with my old “Tonight Show” buddies Troy and Eric, who now work on the “Ellen” show. We met at Smokehouse and had a great time chatting. After a sumptuous dinner, I went home to take some “Christmas Nappies,” and got up later to do one audition. I did some music editing on my computer, made some cereal and then went to bed. I couldn’t stay up late and watch videos because I had to be up for a memorial service the next morning.

Wednesday the 20th – WINTERY WEDNESDAY! – Shortly after 10:30 I sprang from bed and got cleaned up. I stopped by my “adopted grandma” Shirley’s house to pick her up for a memorial service. Heather North Kenney passed away a few weeks ago, and she and Shirley had been friends through our church for about 40 years. Heather was the second voice of Daphne from the old “Scooby Doo” TV show, and had the job all the way through 1997! In addition to starring on shows like “Days of Our Lives,” she was also on an old “Monkees” episode as a love interest of Davy’s! A few years ago our church family learned of Heather’s oral cancer which required part of her jaw to be removed. It was miserable because she could no longer eat, or even speak well. We all commiserated with her through the entire ordeal. When she passed away in late November it was very sad for her friends and family, of course. But at least she’s out of the pain and misery she must’ve been going through for the past several years. After the wonderful service, which was mostly upbeat, I took Shirley back to her home. I dashed back home to make a call to a casting service to get some direction for an audition I would be recording and sending in. I recorded the audition and e-mailed them into the casting office. I was planning to do some shopping before I had to be back at 5 for a phone interview, but I was running woefully short on time. So I napped for a little bit, and then got up to do the phone interview. I talked at length about the terrific new “Batman ‘66” exhibit we’re working on for the Hollywood Museum starting this January 12th. It’s been an absolute thrill and honor to for me to help pull together a cadre of collectors to help make this a reality. Heck, I even got to name it; “Holy Hollywood History; a Batman ’66 Retrospective!” Here’s the interview in its entirety… http://drewshi2000.wixsite.com/batcavepodcast/from-the-files-of-the-batcompute44 When I finished the interview I headed out to do the shopping I didn’t have time for earlier. I had just enough time to pick up some supplies at Staples, and Bed Bath and Beyond before meeting some friends for dinner at Jerry’s Famous Deli. Bruce Kulick (formerly of KISS and now with Grand Funk) and his wife Lisa, and my pal Mark and his girlfriend Connie all converged upon Jerry’s and had a great dinner. I went back home to do a quick audition, and then I settled down for some “Christmas Nappies,” (see previous Wally’s Weeks for an explanation). I got up later to do some work around the house. Earlier at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I picked up another red aluminum drink tumbler. Last week I bought one and put a white stripe on it with adhesive vinyl paper. It looked awesome and was completely hand washable! I wasn’t too taken by the design I did on the first one, so I finessed the pattern a bit and tried it again. This one turned out MUCH better! I fed and walked Roxy on a very cold night. Thursday was the first day of winter, so I’m not sure if THIS night was the solstice, or if it was Thursday night. I love the “longest night,” because there are more nighttime hours in the day for me to enjoy. I came back inside to warm up and do some work on my database. Then I made sloppy joes and watched a few more episodes of “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

Thursday the 21st – WINTER WONDERLAND! – On the first day of Winter I slept until 3 in the afternoon! I got up to a lovely day and walked to the hardware store to pick up a few spare hoses for my shower heads. Two of them died within the same week; one in my shower, and the other in the Chaney Bathroom. I had temporary replacements on them, but I wanted to get something a little more permanent and sturdy. I stopped by Studiopolis to pick up a check, dropped by Subway to get a sandwich to go, and then headed home. I was feeling terrific and was enjoying my walk immensely on a gorgeous first day of winter! I decided it was time to hose down my patio, as the blowing winds of the past few weeks had made it quite filthy. I went inside and did some work, fed the pets and took some “Christmas Nappies” as the sun was going down. I got up later to do some work, and write an essay for my pal Dan at the 13th Dimension about my 13 favorite Batman ’66 villains. I’ll post a link when the article goes live. I made a Tombstone pizza and watched a few more episodes of “Welcome Back, Kotter.” I simply love the Christmas-to-New Year’s break!

Friday the 22nd – “WHY AM I SURROUNDED BY FRIGGIN’ IDIOTS?” – It was one of those days that made me feel like uttering Dr. Evil’s famous line from “Austin Powers.” I got up around 3, got some e-mails and handled some phone calls, and did a little work on my computer. I fed the pets and then headed out to Bob’s Big Boy to meet my assistant Sara for dinner. While en route, Shirley called and told me that a busload of her elderly friends from assisted living complex was lost. They were looking for the Burbank “Christmas House” but couldn’t find it. I got on the phone with the driver. I asked him if he had the map I supplied her with a few days ago. No map. Oh brother. So I tried to explain to him how to get there, as it was really very simple. But it was like talking to a 2 year old. He said he thought he knew where it was and we hung up. Good grief! I was in the Torino and I had forgotten that every Friday is “old car” night at Bob’s. I was really hungry and not much in the mood to talk about car stuff. As I parked and got out of my car, a guy came up and said, “Hey! Dukes of Hazzard!” I had to explain to him that the car used in “Dukes” was not only made by a completely different car company, but was a completely different color than mine. He looked puzzled. I love it when people are so confident that they know something, when they’re so completely wrong. He was so committed to his stupidity it was rather funny. I went inside to fight the crowd and immediately knew this was a bad idea. But no Sara. I called her and texted her but no reply. So without further ado, I hopped back in the Torino and sped over to Boston Market for a solo dinner. I was starving and not willing to wait for Sara to respond. But Boston Market was a bad idea. Normally I like their food, but the turkey they service me was not only cold, but pink and undercooked. When I took the plate up to the counter I said, “This turkey is cold and undercooked.” The employees behind the counter stared at me like a bunch of deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. It was if I was speaking Klingon to them. Finally one guy spoke up and said, “Would you like something else?” I told him some chicken might be nice. He brought me over a few pieces of chicken and it was pretty good. Still no word from Sara. I gassed up the Torino and heard from Shirley again. They were still lost. The driver had taken a turn I never told him to take. So they were lost again. I finally got him on track and explained to him specifically where it was. The problem with the new “GPS generation,” is that they’re so used to letting a smart phone do their thinking for them, nobody knows how to get anywhere with simple verbal instructions. Nobody listens any more. It reminds me of a clerk at my local Subway. I give my order, and without fail, she’ll ALWAYS ask me to repeat it. Next time I’m going to test her and see if she paid attention the first time. But it’s doubtful. I finally heard from Sara that she got held up with an issue involving the cats she is catsitting for, and she said she was on her way. I told her I had already eaten and was heading home. Since she was leaving for Arizona the next day to spend Christmas with her family, she came by with a gift and to say goodbye. After doing some work I took some “Christmas Nappies” and tried to meditate away all of the day’s frustrations. When I got up later I fed the pets and decided to wash my Gran Torino’s car cover in my bath tub. Bad idea. The car cover is hard enough to handle when it’s dry, but when it’s wet it’s like wrestling a bear! A very wet, dirty, smelly bear. I put in my tub and ran some water. I put in a generous portion of Dawn dishwashing liquid. The water immediately turned black. This thing was D.I.R.T.Y.! I realized it was filthy when I’d pull it off my car and there was a film of dirt on the car. I drained the water and ran some more. Once again, the water turned instantly black. I kept humming the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” as I worked. As the water drained there was a film of dirt and muck on the bottom of my bath tub. This thing was FILTHY! I regretted not taking this to the dry cleaners and paying whatever it cost to get it cleaned. I let it dry in my tub for a while, but then drug it to the Puppet Room shower to rinse it out as best I could. I left it there to dry out somewhat overnight, and I went to Denny’s to get some food to go. When I got home I pulled a small ladder out of the garage and put it on my patio. The next afternoon I was going to take the car cover out to my patio, drape it over my grill, the ladder, and a garbage bin to let it air dry for a few days. I did some more work around the house and then ate my Denny’s food while watching another few episodes of “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

Saturday the 23rd – CHRISTMAS EVE…EVE! – At 3 I sprang awake and dragged the car cover downstairs to the patio. Luckily it had dried somewhat overnight and was more easily transportable. I spread it out over the aforementioned items on my patio, and hosed down certain areas to make sure all the soap was out of it. I spoke with a puppet-maker friend of mine in New York about a few projects I had in mind. We talked about everything from showbiz to the size of Oscar the Grouch’s head. Later I drove over to Shirley’s house to pick her up for movie night. I got back home and people started to arrive. We watched a screener of “The Disaster Artist,” which was amazing. I drove Shirley back to her complex and then came home to enjoy a few hours’ worth of “Christmas Nappies.” I got up to feed and walk Roxy around 3am, and then started working on building a pattern for an Oscar the Grouch head. He’s the next Muppet replica I’d like to add to my collection. I want to display him in a garbage can and everything! I made my traditional Saturday night Super Salad and watched an episode of “SNL” from the first season.

Sunday the 24th – CHRISTMAS EVE! – Thinking back on last year’s Christmas season, I was really sick with bronchitis and a whopper of a flu. I felt like I had been run over by a train. But this year I was in perfect health and I was bound and determined to enjoy this Christmas as much as I possibly could. The day started at 4:45 when I met my friend Bruce and Lisa out front so we could walk down to my church to see the Living Nativity that they do every year. Bruce’s wife Lisa wanted to go see the animals, and I always like to take Roxy down there so she can make some new animal friends. She was rarin’ to go! She loved meeting the goats and chickens, and really enjoyed meeting the miniature donkey that was there. But she became OBSESSED over a little rabbit in a pen. She cried and whined and wanted it to come out to play. But when she realized the rabbit couldn’t come out, she laid down by the rabbit’s pen and kept it company. It was the sweetest thing. The owner of the animals told me I may need to get her a rabbit. (I don’t think so.) As everyone filed into the church for the service, Roxy and I hung out for a while longer to visit with the animals. Then we walked back home. I grabbed a few hours of “Christmas Nappies” so I would be fresh for the night to come. I have my own Christmas tradition that I’ve developed over the past few years and I look forward to it every year. And since this year I was in perfect health, I was particularly looking forward to it. My pal Josh came by at 10:45 and we walked down to the church for the candlelight service which started at 11. Shirley was there with a friend, and I got to see many other friends I don’t usually see at evening church. The service was amazing (as always) and the music was top notch. I walked Josh back to his car and I went inside to start my usual Christmas Eve-to-Morning tradition. It was just after midnight, and I turned on one of the local AM stations and THERE IT WAS! My old pal! The 12 hour radio show I love to listen to each year called “Christmas Across the Lands!” The local station on 870 started it at midnight and will play it until noon Christmas day. Then they’ll repeat all or a portion of it through Christmas night. I LOVE this show! It’s hosted by Randy Sherwyn and has all sorts of great trivia and information about the history of Christmas. He plays a nice mix of religious and secular Christmas tunes. I love listening to it all night while I work and relax. As an added bonus, hearing these classic songs on the AM band makes the songs sound exactly like I remember hearing them as a kid. Don’t get me wrong. I love clean, stereo versions of these classics. But there’s a magic to hearing them on the AM band. It really takes me back! We were only missing snow (but we had LOTS of cold!) I went downstairs to the garage and rummaged through my box of Christmas stuff. I wanted to find my Santa Mickey hat (a Santa hat with Mickey Mouse ears on it). I also found some silver holly, so I decorated the antennae on my Gran Torino for Christmas dinner. I also found a plastic ornament that looked like a 70’s mirror ball, so I put that at the very top of the antennae. While searching through my stuff, I also found some bubble lights! These are the lights you hang on the tree and they have little tubes of colored liquid that bubble when they heat up. I LOVE these things, as it reminds me of the Christmas trees my folks used to have at their house when I would visit. But my main plan for my Christmas Eve-to-Morning was to get started on my photo albums. A while back I took out all the photos from my old photo albums from the 70’s that were decaying. While the photos were out I had Sara scan each one for my files. Now I have brand new photo albums, brand new pages and plastic covers (all acid-free) and I just need to get started on mounting them. I tried these little rubber sticky dots, but they left a little bump in the pictures and I didn’t like them. So my first job was to remove all of the sticky dots that I had previously attached, and replace them with new temporary-stick tape. My first job was to take all of the pictures from the days when I was impersonating Elvis and put all those together, along with any articles or media blurbs I had in my collection. It was a lot of work but it was turning out very nice. I took a short break to feed and walk Roxy, but then it was back to the photo albums. These were turning out beautifully. I looked up and noticed light coming through my kitchen blinds and realized that Randy Sherwyn had just gone into his seventh hour of his show! (Randy posts the playlist for his program so you can follow along, so I knew where he was in the timeline) It was 6am Christmas morning! I had worked all night! Well, it was time to put away the photo albums for now and get busy on making my traditional Chef Boy Ardee pizza-in-a-box for Christmas morning. While the pizza (topped with pepperoni, summer sausage and sauerkraut…YUM!) baked, I took the bubble lights upstairs and put them along the top of my TV in the Tranquility Zone. I turned them on and watched them bubble! NICE! I was once again VERY thankful that I was in good health this year, as last year was really rotten. I couldn’t sing along with Christmas song, and I just didn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping all day. The pizza was ready, but I wasn’t in the mood to watch “Welcome Back, Kotter.” I dug out an old VHS video I had bought from PBS during one of their pledge drives many years ago. It’s called “The World of Jim Henson,” and is an 85 minute history of the genius puppeteer and showman. It was absolutely delightful to lie in bed with the animals around me, eating a Chef Boyardee pizza and watching this amazing special. I got to sleep around noon. What a Christmas!!

Monday the 25th – HAPPY CHRISTMAS! – Over the past several years I’ve taken to saying “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry Christmas.” I did it because of the John Lennon song, mostly. But Randy Sherwyn explained in this year’s “Christmas Across the Lands” that the word “merry” in the U.K. equates to drinking alcohol. So that’s why they say “Happy Christmas” across the pond. When I got up at 5 to feed the pets, “Christmas Across the Lands” was just winding down. Apparently at noon the local station decided to run the final 6 hours of his show again, instead of running the entire 12 hours again. But it was nice to hear Randy’s sign off for another year, and he’s always very supportive of our troops (which I also love about the show!) I got showered up and picked up Shirley for Christmas dinner. We drove in the newly decorated Torino to the Smokehouse, where we met up with my friends Scott and Vickie Sebring. I reminded them that at last year’s dinner I was really sick and not very alert; really out of it! But this year’s dinner was fabulous with lots of fun and great conversation! After dinner I took Shirley back home and then went home to enjoy one final night of “Christmas Nappies” before turning off the Christmas music for another year. When I got up later I finished up the Elvis section of my photo album, and now it’s time to move on to the Andy Kaufman section. It’s going to be a lot of work, but when they’re all finished in a few months they’ll be gorgeous! I heated up some leftover Chef Boyardee pizza and finished watching “Welcome Back, Kotter” season 1. I enjoyed the show, but I don’t see a reason to buy the other seasons. I’m good. I got to sleep around noon.

And how was YOUR Christmas week??!!

PIX FROM THE WEEK

My pals Bruce Kulick and Mark Fullerton in front of my Gran Torino outside Jerry’s Famous Deli

Here’s the whole Jerry’s Deli gang!

3 shots of a stunning and breathtaking sunrise on Christmas morning!

A shot of my new Torino tumbler which turned out MUCH better than the first one!