Since I was so busy last week with all of the craziness going on, I wasn’t able to find time to write Wally’s Week for the previous week. So here now are TWO WEEKS’ worth of Wally’s Weeks! Enjoy!
RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
I was conversing via Facebook with a young puppet maker who was constructing a Cookie Monster puppet. I dug up this old photo of me when I was 20 and the Cookie Monster I made. Brought back some great memories!
Even though I had seen ELO twice before, there were a few surprises in the Minneapolis concert. One was that I had never heard them perform “Do Ya” live before. Then it was a real treat to see Dhani Harrison join them onstage for “Handle With Care” (with Dhani singing his father’s part), and the best part, was hearing them perform “Last Train to London” live! I’ve been humming it ever since!
Monday the 15th – CARPET CRAZY! – After only 3 hours of sleep, my pal Chris Malmin came over at 8:30 to help me move some things out of my living room so the carpet could be replaced in the home theatre and the showcase areas. The carpet guys arrived at that time too, so we had to work fast! First job was to move my giant Sulley figure from “Monsters, Inc.” out to the patio. But he was too big to fit through the doors initially, so we removed his arms. When the huge Styrofoam-and-fur figure was delivered to my house initially in 2001 that’s how he had to be brought into the house. There are little pegs that slide down into the shoulders to hold his arms on, and his arms have PVC piping with pop-out buttons on them to hold them into place. We tugged hard and finally the arms came off. We put the arms on the sofa, and the main figure was taken outside to the patio and wrapped in plastic. Then it was Robo-Elvis’ turn. He was pretty simple to move, comparatively, as he’s all one piece. Once he was moved to the patio he too was covered in plastic. I didn’t want dirt getting on him in case the landscaping guy came by to clean up with the leaf blower. I also didn’t want birds flying over and leaving their little gifts on my valuable pieces. Once the living room was clear the carpet guys started working down there. They tore up the old carpet and quickly disposed of it. The carpet was original to the house when I bought it back in 2000. It was in great shape then so I didn’t see any reason to replace it. But after 19 years of constant traffic in Planet Wallywood, replacing it was long overdue. Chris and I moved to the showcase level to remove a movable case to the kitchen. It was obvious that the stuff inside was going to toss, turn and tip, but we didn’t care. I just wanted to get it out of the way for the new carpet, and I’d clean it up later. I told Chris I’d call him later after they finished and we could replace everything, and I’d buy him lunch. In the meantime, I took the “very confused” pets upstairs to my room to get them out of the way. Roxy was cool with it, but Spook was going nuts trying to get out of my bedroom. He wanted to go see what was going on, but since they were carting the old carpet out, and bringing the new carpet in, the door leading to the garage and the back entrance had to stay open constantly. I didn’t want to risk having him run outside and get lost. He got so belligerent that I had to get his “squirt bottle” and threaten to squirt him with water if he started to become too much of a pain in the neck. He was meowing and being very obnoxious, not understanding why his run of the house was being temporarily limited. I did manage to get a little sleep when I opened the bedroom curtains and let the morning sun beam in. Spook settled down in the sun and nodded off for a while. As they originally estimated, the carpet guys finished at 2. They were masters of their craft! I paid the balance of the cost and then called Chris to swing over. While I waited for Chris I cleaned the patio doors top to bottom. They hadn’t been cleaned in many years, since I never use them. Normally I can’t get to them because I have displays in the way. But this cleaning was going to have to suffice for a very long time, so I made sure to clean it well! When Chris arrived we moved Sulley and Robo-Elvis back in. The wind had come up in the early afternoon and had blown most of the plastic off. Luckily no dirt or birds managed to…ahem…”sulley” them. I vacuumed Sulley’s fur just to make sure. We moved the showcase back into place and I noted that I was going to have a lot of work to do on it. Not only did I have to repose the majority of the figures inside, but it needed a good cleaning; top to bottom! Then Chris and I took off for a late lunch at Jerry’s Famous Deli. When I came home I got to enjoy a lot of quiet, and of course all this luxurious new carpet! It matched my new flooring in the kitchen very well! I did some auditions and grabbed a ‘real’ nap. I got up later to type out Wally’s Week. I made a pot pie and watched another episode of “The Mod Squad” before bed. Whew! What a day! But worth it!
Tuesday the 16th – REORGANIZING THE DISORGANIZATION! – Because I was so exhausted from the previous day, I slept until 3 in the afternoon. I worked around the house and called our local sanitation department to have my old dish washer taken away by their ‘bulk pick-up’ folks. I also called the hotel I’d be staying at in Sioux Falls for my upcoming trip to see how early I’d be able to check into my room. I was taking a red-eye flight from L.A. to Sioux Falls, and though I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to check in when I landed at 10, I would have been totally happy to be able to check in at noon, or thereabouts. But when I called the Hilton number I kept getting a person in what sounded like Pakistan. I wanted to get the hotel in Sioux Falls directly, but even after I called back it still went overseas. So I called my folks and asked them to go to the hotel (which is near their house) and put my on with the local desk clerk directly. I finally got to speak with the local Sioux Falls desk clerk and she assured me they’d do everything in their power to accommodate me. I also discovered that my home landline wasn’t working. I’m not sure how long it’s been down, since I hardly ever use it, but because my cell phone service inside my house is so spotty, I need to have a landline for Voice-Over sessions. When I’m asked to record something in my home studio, I like to have the client on the line as I’m recording so they can direct me. I never use my cell phone because right in the middle of a conversation I’ll lose signal and BAM…they’re gone. So I called the phone company and filed a trouble ticket. Unfortunately the soonest they can get out is the following Tuesday, and I’ll be out of town. I’ll instruct my housesitter to handle it. But it’s lousy service like this that makes me want to lose the landline altogether. I did some more cleaning and reorganizing in the living room and the second floor. The new carpet looked amazing, but it would take a while to get everything put back the way it was. I did some auditions that came in as well. I had to break for a bite, so I met my pal Sara over at Coral Café for a good meal. Then I came home to put the living room back in order. I cleaned up Robo-Elvis, got him plugged back in and positioned properly. Then I put Sulley’s arms back on, combed his fur, sprayed it with hairspray so it would stay in position, and wired him up so he would continue to stand upright. Since the figure is almost 20 years old, and has an exclusively Styrofoam inside, the Styrofoam has fatigued over the years and he was slouching quite badly. But I figured out a way to wire him up in the back so he would always stay erect and looking like he did when I first bought him. I brought his partner Mike back down from the Chaney Room and put him back in place as well. I brought the Andy Kaufman “Heartbeeps” figure downstairs again and put him back in to position. When I made a new mannequin, I try to remember to put duct tape on all of the joints so it won’t come apart in pieces every time it’s moved. I completely taped up the “Heartbeeps” figure just before I took it to “Monsterpalooza” last April, so it was pretty easy to move. It was now one solid piece with no moving parts. But the best way to move those mannequins is by grabbing them by the crotch and butt with both hands and lifting them. It looks very odd if someone happens to be passing by and watching! Exhausted, but happy with my progress, I grabbed a short nap. I got up later to fed the kids, did some more auditions, and finished up my work in the living room.
Wednesday the 17th – ABRAMS ARTISTS ACTIVATE! – The service contract I had with my former agent had just expired on Monday, so I took the opportunity to sign with a new agent called Abrams Artists. One of the agents there is someone whom I’ve known and worked with for years, so it’ll be good to be working with her again. The agency also has many departments other than Voice-Over, so I’m looking forward to branching out in to other areas, like on-camera and literary. I haven’t signed on with those departments yet, but as time goes on I hope to be able to diversify in my career. I drove to their offices at the Pacific Design Center to sign all the papers and get a groovy photo taken with Mel, James and Brittney! Then I stopped at McDonald’s for lunch on the way home, got back to Planet Wallywood to do some work, make some phone calls and do some auditions. The ‘bulk pick-up’ hadn’t picked up my old dishwasher like they said they would, so I called them back to ask why. In typical government-fashion they said they had trouble finding the place. Odd, considering every Uber driver that comes to pick me up has no problem finding me on their GPS. That’s government for you, I guess. Hopefully they’ll have it gone by the time I return from my vacation. I had signed up for an intensive promo workshop at a local studio a while back, and tonight was the class. So I got cleaned up and headed to the studio to learn some things from promo producer J.J. Jurgens from CBS. You’re never too old or experienced to learn new things! And it was a great class! I stopped by Taco Bell to get food on the way home and then went inside to eat and decompress. I grabbed a short nap. I got up later to do more auditions, fill out the on-line profile page for my new agency, do some work around the house, make some spaghetti and watch another episode of “The Mod Squad.”
Thursday the 18th – ‘PLAN-IT’ WALLYWOOD? – Since I had been up all night working around the house, I once again took the liberty of sleeping until 3pm. Not only do I feel much more creative and alive during the overnight hours, it’s a great way to get into a work groove without the phone ringing all the time. I checked my e-mail and then sped off to my mailbox to get some packages. Then I went to Jerry’s Famous Deli to meet up with my new friend Tiffany, whom I met at the Micky Dolenz concert a few weeks ago. After dinner I headed back home to record my auditions, and then grab a short nap before another all-night session of living room reorganization. Before I got everything put back where it belonged, I took the opportunity to dust in places that I usually can’t get to. Though my main action figure cabinet wasn’t moved, I cleaned the action figure case from top to bottom. It was due! The amount of dirt I got off it was considerable! It’s always a pain in the neck cleaning it, because the figures are attached to the multiple platforms on the showcase, so in order to get the dust off from around them I have to wet a long paint brush and “paint off” the dust on the platform, wiping it on a paper towel as I go. Then I take a bunch of damp paper towels and gently wipe the dust off the figures themselves, trying not to disturb their poses to the best of my ability. It’s precise, painstaking work. And I STILL have the showcase on the second level to attack! But I’m happy to report, after several nights of intense work, the first level/living room/home theatre is complete! While I was in my busy phase, I also took the opportunity to move some stuff around in the Chaney Room to anticipate my new “Star Trek” display which is coming soon. I wired up a sound chip and my U.S.S. Enterprise model so it would come on when the Chaney Room lights were turned on when someone entered the room. Then I walked Roxy, made some chili and watched another episode of “The Mod Squad.” I was elated to see that my ol’ pal Yvonne Craig was the guest star. GOD I miss her!
Friday the 19th – AND NOW – FLOOR TWO! – In the afternoon I put on my walking shoes and strolled over to Panera to meet my pal Edi for lunch. Afterwards I stopped at the cigar store and picked up a celebratory cigar that I would enjoy once my house was put completely back in order. I picked up a few things at the hardware store that I’d need for my reorganization project, and headed home to relax. Later that night I put in another all-night session cleaning and reorganizing the second floor showcase. I dusted it from top to bottom and boy was it dirty! I had removed all of the 12” action figures I had posed on the top of the case in anticipation of moving it to the kitchen for the carpet guys. So before I replaced them I cleaned each one with a damp paper towel, and reposed and replaced them on top of the case. Then came the laborious task of cleaning the interior of the showcase. Before I started I photographed each of the four levels so I’d have reference later of how everything was set up. Then I started with the bottom level; the “Star Wars” level. I removed all the items and completely cleaned the shelf and the interior glass. Since it was on the bottom that level was where most of the dust, dirt and debris would gather. It was a nasty job, but I did it. I replaced every item and moved to the next level up…the “Star Trek” level. Then on to the second level which is “Planet of the Apes” and Freddy Krueger. It was going well and things were looking good. Then I got to the very top shelf which is “Star Trek” props. After everything got a good bath and got replaced, I set about cleaning the exterior of the case. It looks as good as new now! To celebrate I walked Roxy and enjoyed my celebratory cigar, and then took off for Denny’s to get some food to go. But when I got back home I was much too tired to watch “The Mod Squad,” so I just ate my salad and passed out in bed!
Saturday the 20th – FROZEN OUT AND CRYING CANINE! – What a day it was. It started well enough with a conference call with my attorney and partners in my kids’ book project. We had a very good conversation. Joe, one of my partners in the project, lives close. So after the call terminated we decided to meet in the neighborhood for lunch. That way we could discuss the revelations we had made on the phone in more depth. The weather had turned decidedly hotter, and summer was finally here! After some chilly early summer months, it was rather nice to have real summer weather. I drove to the dry cleaners to drop off a comforter, got some groceries for that night’s movie night, and then came home to put them away. But when I walked into my house I noticed that it wasn’t very cool. I checked the vents and sure enough, it was barely blowing! I was having AC problems! Not only was I expecting a fair amount of people over later that night for movie night, but it was a very hot day. Luckily Pete, my AC guy, is in my cell phone’s contact list. I phoned him right away to ask him what to do. He told me it was most likely frozen over, and would need to be shut off for a few hours to thaw. He said to turn off the AC, but leave the fan on high. Pete was going to come by on Monday anyway to do my semi-annual system check, but in the meantime he asked me how my upstairs filter was. He said it might need replacing, because when the airflow is restricted, the AC can’t operate like it should and runs the risk of freezing. He said it’s similar to a car in that regard. When the airflow is restricted, the car isn’t going to operate properly. Luckily I keep a stash of new filters in my garage, so I got to work and replaced the filter. Since it was starting to warm up in my house, and pets were in danger of getting uncomfortable, I lugged up my portable AC unit from my garage. I bought this several years ago and it’s the best $500 I’ve ever spent. It has a plastic tube coming out the back that serves as the drip out for the water that’s removed from the air. It also has a huge ventilation panel and expandable duct that needs to be placed between a door and the door jamb so the system can get airflow. I moved my freshly replaced “Heartbeeps” mannequin so I could get access to the patio door. Then I installed the ventilation panel and duct and cranked that baby on! Sweet, sweet cool air! I napped for a bit on the couch, and then got up later for movie night. Luckily, as night approached, it got cooler outside. I really only needed the portable AC unit on for the first part of movie night, so I was able to eventually shut it off. My friend Josh at movie night noticed that Roxy was acting strangely. She was listless and was keeping to herself; very odd behavior for Roxy on movie night. Normally she loves mixing with all the people. I noticed it too, and by the time everyone had left she started crying. She never whines or cries, so I knew something was wrong. She had been dealing with intermittent diarrhea over the past few weeks, so it was clear that her tummy was hurting. I took her over to the all night pet hospital and sat in the waiting room while the doctor examined her. She had the exact same thing just over a year ago, and sometimes when she eats the wrong thing or gets into the cat’s food she gets this. We’re not sure if it’s an inflamed pancreas or what, but they gave me her normal prescription which usually clears the problem right up. It’s too bad that she’s feeling sick, particularly since I’ll be leaving town on Monday night. I hate leaving town when my pets aren’t feeling normal. By the time we got home the sun was up and it was nearing 8 in the morning! I turned my house AC back on, and it was functioning perfectly. It just needed a new filter and a good thawing out.
Sunday the 21st – TRIP PREP! – When I got up later in the afternoon I called the vet’s office to ask for pain medication for Roxy. She had started on the anti-biotics but she was still crying and whining. It took a while to get approval, but they called and told me the prescription would be waiting for me later. I went to church and met up with my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley. Before we went to dinner I stopped by the vet’s office, got Roxy’s pain medication, and then stopped by the house to give her some. I didn’t want her to be in pain any longer than she had to be! After we had dinner I came back home to check in on Roxy. She seemed to be doing better. I got a little rest, but when I got up I had TONS to do! I had a bunch of auditions to record, I packed up my carry-on bag, I made some patterns for some new projects for my seamstress, I wrote a very detailed list about Roxy’s medication schedule for my housesitter, made a Tombstone pizza and watched another “Mod Squad” episode. I still had to tackle packing my checked bag, which I’ll do Monday afternoon! But I simply ran out of time. I only got a few hours of sleep before I had to wake up to do a session in my home studio in the morning.
Monday the 22nd – REDEYE READY! – The alarm rang WAY too early…10:30am. But I had to be up for an 11am session in my home studio for Hasbro. The session lasted a half hour, and since my landline phone was out of service, I was praying that my cell phone connection wouldn’t break while I had the clients on the phone directing the session. Luckily, it was OK and the session went very well. I had a ton of auditions that I needed to get recorded and sent before my plane took off later that night. Pete the AC guy came over to do his system check, and said everything was looking good. After he left I did some more auditions. I went over to the grocery store to get some supplies, and took a huge bag of coins over to deposit in the Coinstar machine. I had a bank break on me recently when I was moving stuff around, and all the coins came spilling out all over my floor! I bagged up the coins with the intention of turning them into paper money. Since I was at the grocery store getting supplies it was a good opportunity to do that. Come to find out I had over $200 in coins! It’ll be some good traveling money for my trip! I stopped by the hardware store to pick up a few light bulbs, and then headed back home to finish up my packing lists and start packing my checked baggage. I was only hours away from my flight and I STILL hadn’t packed my suitcase yet! I worked through the evening, luckily Roxy was feeling much better, and I got cleaned up and ready for the redeye flight at 12:30am. My pal Officer Mark stopped over at 9:15, my housesitter Brittney arrived at 9:30, and our driver Alex showed up right on time at 9:30 as well. We threw our bags in the trunk and headed to LAX! I figured since it was an overnight redeye flight that it would be a bit calmer than daytime flights. I was WRONG! It was packed! The traffic to LAX was extremely busy, but luckily our driver knew some shortcuts. We got to the check-in desk at 10:30 and got checked in. Then we got through security and started looking for something to eat. After all, the flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 12:30am so we had some time. We went into Shake Shack and got in line. Shortly after we lined up to order, they closed the gates to other business. They closed at 11 and we had just barely squeaked in! After we ate we sat around the terminal waiting to board. At one of the other gates we were observing a crisis. The airline had overbooked the redeye flight to Toronto, and not everybody was going to get seats. They continually asked the passengers to volunteer to take a flight the next day, in exchange for a free hotel room and some travel vouchers. Nobody was biting. It started to get heated and this continued on for about an hour. Now the Toronto flight was over an hour late for its departure. They kept asking and offering, but still no takers. I told Officer Mark that they should start offering cash and they’d find takers very quickly. Sure enough, after about an hour and a half delay, the voice came on the P.A. system, “If you agree to take a flight tomorrow and give up your seat tonight, we’ll give you a hotel room, a food voucher for breakfast AND lunch, AND 900 Canadian dollars!” There was a mad rush to the podium as several takers stormed the gate agent to take the offer. Now remember that 900 Canadian dollars is only about 683 US dollars, but they had the number of passengers they were looking for. They even extended the offer to other passengers who wanted to take advantage as well. Finally, the flight was able to take off. Why didn’t they offer the 900 Canadian dollars up front? Seems like it would have saved a lot of valuable time for the other passengers who needed to get to Toronto in a timely manner. Speaking of late departures, our flight was also running late by about a half hour. But our connection in Minneapolis wasn’t until 9am, so we would have about 3 hours on the ground to layover…so we weren’t in any rush. Even in First Class it’s still difficult to get a good night’s sleep on a plane. And our seats were very roomy. But when you’re trying to sleep in those close quarters, there are things you don’t consider when buying a redeye tickets. First thing are the smells. You have a lot of people snoozing with their mouths open, breathing their bad breath all over. Then there are the usual gasses that people release when they’re sound asleep. Many times I was awakened by foul smells coming from one orifice or another, thanks to my neighboring passengers. I darted in and out of sleep, and we made it to the Minneapolis airport a half hour late at 6:30am.
Tuesday the 23rd – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES! – The whole purpose of this trip was to see Jeff Lynne’s ELO in concert in St. Paul. I had seen them twice before in L.A., but I really wanted to see them with two buddies of mine from South Dakota. The idea was that we’d fly into Sioux Falls, rent an SUV, drive to Minneapolis (the road trip is half the fun!) and meet our pal Bob there who lives in Rochester. So far the flight snafus weren’t making the trip very smooth. After Officer Mark and I enjoyed breakfast at Chik-Fil-A, we went to the gate for our connection to Sioux Falls. But as we waited, I started noticing that not very many people were waiting with us in the gate area. I looked at the monitor in the area and it said that another flight had changed gates, but there was no information about OUR flight. Getting curiouser and curiouser, I asked an airline agent if I was in the right place for my flight. He told me I needed to go two gates down. The airline had changed the gate and never posted the information at the gate at which I had been waiting! Amateur! So we grabbed our carry-on bags and rushed to the other gate. We got on alright, but on the smaller “puddle jumper” planes that they use for short distances, often times the AC isn’t working very well. The small plane I took during the last trip from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis was having AC problems, and it seemed like this one was having troubles too. (Maybe it was the same aircraft?) It would have been tolerable had we taken off on time, but no sooner did we pull away from the gate, than we had to turn back around for a maintenance issue. I understand that maintenance issues happen, and I’m all for in-flight safety, but the malfunction AC was making everyone surly and uncomfortable. Officer Mark slept through the whole thing, but I was looking for anything I could find to fan myself. When they told the passengers they could disembark the aircraft to use the bathroom, I realized that it probably wasn’t going to be a ‘quick fix.’ After an hour of sitting at the gate we finally pushed off. Oddly enough, even though our flight was supposed to leave just after 9am for a 10:20am arrival, the other flight to Sioux Falls which left at 10am would beat us there! We didn’t get to Sioux Falls until 11:20. But on the way down to baggage claim I ran into a buddy of mine from the old days. Kevin is a cameraman for one of the local TV stations, and he and a reporter were on their way to catch a flight to D.C. to video the daily life of the South Dakota Congressman. It was fun chatting, albeit quickly. We got our bags, and got to the rental desk to rent our SUV. Our first stop was Falls Park, so Officer Mark could get some shots of the lovely Sioux Falls. Then we stopped by my favorite eatery B&G Milky Way so he could try some of those delicious sloppy joes I’m always talking about. We met up with my folks and sisters at a restaurant for “lunch,” but since I had just filled up on sloppy joes I only had an iced tea. But as we chatted I could feel my energy draining. I was exhausted! I told my family I needed to hit the hotel and get checked in before our big dinner plans later that night. Even though I had cleared an early check-in with the desk clerk last week, it now appeared that an early check-in wouldn’t be necessary. It was now almost 2! We got checked in to our rooms and we agreed to meet in the lobby at 6 after we both grabbed some much-needed naps. I got to my room, dumped my bags, took a long shower, cranked the AC in the room, and slept like a baby for 3 hours! Later that night we met up with my pal ‘Dr. Doom’ and his family at a steak place called Morrie’s. We’re plotting a big cancer fundraiser for the spring in Sioux Falls involving several of my Voice Actor friends. So we discussed that at length. After dinner Officer Mark and I followed the Doom family to Doom Castle for a tour of his pop culture collection. It’s truly an amazing set-up! On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a 24 hour Walmart and stocked up on snacks and supplies, we took a side-trip to a place called Taco John’s (a local fast-food taco joint I love) and got some food to go. We sat in the hotel lobby eating our late-night snack, and then went to our rooms to turn in. Tomorrow would be a VERY long day!
Wednesday the 24th – TWIN CITY TRAVELS! – At noon we checked out of the hotel, dropped some stuff off at my parents’ house, and then hit B&G Milky Way for some sloppy joes for the way out of town. We stopped off at my pal Scott’s house to pick him up, and we hit the road at 1pm sharp for Minneapolis! As anticipated, the road trip with the dudes was one of the most fun parts of the excursion. We stopped at a place called Go-pher Stop to get gas and snacks. As Officer Mark is always shooting photos and video, we got some darn funny stuff! We continued down the road with good tunes on the Blue Tooth system and lots of laughs. We made it to St. Paul around 5:30 and checked into the Hyatt in downtown. Scott took the SUV to Rochester to crash at our pal Bob’s house. After we got settled in our rooms, Mark and I walked over to a restaurant called The Handsome Hog to meet up with my childhood pal Chris Valle, who works in the St. Paul area. The hilarity didn’t stop at the Go-pher Stop, as Chris, Mark and I chatted at dinner for several hours! I remembered why it was that Chris and I had become friends in the first place back in fifth grade. It was almost like all those years hadn’t passed at all. We still laughed about the same stuff and enjoyed the same topics. After dinner Officer Mark and I walked to a convenience store to get some snacks, headed back to the hotel so I could check e-mails, went to my room to unpack, and sleep. ELO was tomorrow night!
Thursday the 25th – THE MAIN EVENT! – I gave myself permission to sleep late, since we had nothing on the schedule until the concert that evening and I wanted to make sure to hit it fresh! When I woke up at 2, my pal Scott texted me that he read on Facebook that our old boss at the station where we used to work together had passed away. It was odd because he lived in the Minneapolis area, and I had e-mailed him to let him know we would be visiting, and it would be great to get together. But I never heard back. We were very saddened by the news, because he had always been very supportive of two young radio D.J.s trying to find their way in the business. Scott and Bob were on their way from Rochester and would be checking into their hotel soon. So Officer Mark and I Ubered to a place called The Grand Ole Creamery. Based on all the crap we’d been eating I was hoping that Mark would have picked out a slightly healthier place than a pizza and ice cream shop, but it’s an historic site in the St. Paul area. And because the word “Ole” was an anagram for ELO, and we’d be seeing them later that night, I figured it was a good sign. The pizzas we got were ENORMOUS, so we ended up taking most of the pizza back to our rooms. We got back to the hotel and got prepped for the show, and met in the hotel lobby at 7:15. The show would start promptly at 8 and we didn’t want to miss a minute. I was curious about the opening act, Dhani Harrison (son of George Harrison) so we certainly didn’t want to miss that portion of the show. We got into the venue, found our seats, and we were soon joined by Scott and Bob. Having known both of them for many years (Scott for 40 years and Bob for close to 50!) I knew they’d love this show! I had been raving to them about the past two times I caught ELO in concert, so I was finally going to enjoy the show with my two buddies. The concert didn’t disappoint, and we were all charged up after the show. By the time Officer Mark and I returned to the Hyatt, his girlfriend Connie was waiting for us in the lobby. The plan was that Officer Mark would fly in to Sioux Falls with me, we’d drive to Sioux Falls, see the show, and then his girlfriend would meet up with us, and she and Mark would continue a different tour with her folks. Her parents had driven to Minneapolis from Orange County in California. So the convergence worked out perfectly! I went back to my room to reflect on another great ELO show, eat some leftover pizza, pack up, and sleep.
Friday the 26th – PAISLEY ‘MARK!’ – Around 7:30am I was awakened by what I thought was the sound of a jet flying over the hotel. It was no such thing. It was one of those wonderful Midwest thunderstorms! Since I didn’t need to be up until 10:00, I covered my head with a pillow and went back to sleep. At 10:30 I met Officer Mark and Connie the lobby to wait for our Uber to Chanhassen. My pal Scott’s brother Mitch is one of the executives at Paisley Park, which served as the studio and living quarters for Prince. It’s been turned into a museum and we had tickets for a VIP tour. The tour was great, but no photos were allowed, so I’m afraid I can’t show you just how cool it is. But when the tour was over, as a bonus, Mitch took us into Studio B and played some unheard Prince music for us! Fantastic! Then he took us into the editing bay and showed us some never-before-seen video of past Prince performances! What a day! But when Mitch said it was already 2 in the afternoon (phones are not allowed in the facility because of the no-photo policy so I had lost track of time) I realized we’d better get to lunch and get on the road. We had a lot of miles to cover. At lunch we met up with Scott and Bob, and after a luggage transfer we bid farewell to Officer Mark and Connie (who would be continuing on a different path with her folks) and Mitch. Scott, Bob and I hit the road to Rochester to take Bob back home. Unfortunately we hit afternoon drive traffic in the Minneapolis area at 4pm. But by 5:30 we arrived in Rochester to drop Bob off at his home. We hit the road for Sioux Falls at 6pm and drove westward into a gorgeous Midwestern sunset! Scott and I talked all the way, listened to great music and enjoyed the drive. We kept talking about how great the ELO concert was. By the time we got to Sioux Falls I was hoping B&G Milky Way would still be open to get some sloppy joes. But we pulled up about a minute before they closed, so no luck. I dropped Scott at his house at 11pm, but we sat in his driveway listening to music until midnight. It had been a long day, so I headed to my hotel to check in for my final night in Sioux Falls. As is my tradition, I ordered a delicious pizza from Boss’ Pizza (you MUST try their pizza!), printed my boarding pass for my Saturday flight in the hotel’s business office, packed up my stuff, and went to sleep! What a trip!
Saturday the 27th – ALL WENT ACCORDING TO PLAN! – At noon I checked out of the hotel, met Scott and my folks and sisters for lunch, gassed up the SUV, stopped by Fed Ex to ship some stuff home, stopped by B&G for a few final sloppy joes, and headed to the airport to get checked in. I was a little gun-shy after having such a horrible time during my last trip to Sioux Falls. When I visited a few months ago my return flight to L.A. was canceled, forcing me to scramble to other airlines’ websites to find an alternative way home. But this flight was on time and ready to rock! I would only have a one hour layover in Minneapolis, which I figured would barely give me enough time to get to my connecting gate. The little ‘puddle jumper’ planes for short distance travel land at the A concourse in the Minneapolis airport. But the giant planes (like the ones they use to fly to L.A.) depart from the G concourse, on the OTHER SIDE OF THE AIRPORT! So I was prepared to make a mad dash for the gate and break a few land speed records on the way. Luckily the flight to Minneapolis left early, since everyone was on board and ready to go. The extra time on the ground in Minneapolis would be welcome! But lucky me, I discovered a shortcut from the A terminal to the G terminal which negates the need to run fast to the other side of the airport! I’m going to remember that for future use! I got on the plane to L.A., got settled, ate a nice dinner, put on my headphones and slept while I listened to tunes, watched a little TV, and made it home earlier than expected. My driver Alex picked me up and we waded through the heavy Saturday night L.A. traffic to my house. It was a darn good trip! The pets were in good shape and happy to see me, the air conditioning was working fine, and I did a little work around the house unpacking, and getting things settled. I headed out to the grocery store to pick up a few things before they closed, and made my traditional Saturday night Super Salad and headed upstairs to watch another episode of “SNL” from the fourth season DVD set. It was good to be in my own bed again my two little fur-persons.
Sunday the 28th – A REVIVING REVIVAL! – At church, it was time to have another revival service! We had one a few months back and it was a rousing success! The band wanted me to sing a song for the service, but since I had planned an out of town trip for the week before I didn’t think it was a good idea to commit to doing a song. Given the fact that my flight from a few months ago was canceled, I didn’t want to take the chance that I wouldn’t make it home in time on this trip. But it was an amazing time, and our guests The Life Choir never disappoints! Though we ate dinner at the service, Shirley and I went next door to a frozen yogurt place for dessert. My lucky night! They had Dole Whip! YUM! I took Shirley back to her residence, and I headed back home to do a little work and nap on the couch. I got up later to do my auditions, I organized my photos and videos from the trip, and prepped for a brand new week. Then I hit the hay! What a week! What a trip! What a life!!
And how were YOUR two weeks?!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
(photos by Officer Mark)
Here’s a compilation of great moments from the St. Paul Jeff Lynne’s ELO concert.
Also, some various road trip tomfoolery on the way to the concert. Those long road trips can make one loopy!