RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Hmmm…I wonder how hard it would be to make this Muppet?
After having sung this song last Sunday at evening church, it’s been on my mind. Still a classic! The Edwin Hawkins Singers and “Oh Happy Day.”
Monday the 25th – GETTING’ CRAFTY! – Just before I headed out the door to do a Marvel project at L.A. Studios, I put a light coat of paint on the pair of eyes for my Rowlf the Dog puppet that I would be debuting that weekend at WonderCon in Anaheim. Then I headed over to the studio to do the session. I can’t tell you which project I was doing, or anything about it, other than I was doing Ant Man once again; a character that I’ve been doing on and off for years in various projects for Marvel. What fun! I was in and out in just under an hour. Then I hit Michael’s Crafts to get a hole punch for Rowlf’s pupils. His pupils would be cut out of adhesive-backed velvet and would be exactly 5/8” in diameter. I found the perfect punch, so I bought two just in case. I also got some more paint thinner, and a plate easel to display a DuPar’s plate in my kitchen. DuPar’s was a historic diner in the valley area of Los Angeles who went out of business about a year or so ago. I miss them! On their last weekend, they were selling off their plates; emblazoned with their logo. I went to the post office to drop off an eBay sale, and then got some groceries. I came home to put the groceries away, put another thin coat of off-white on Rowlf’s eyes and checked out the progress. I would definitely need to get some clear spray called Dullcote to dull the shine on the eye pieces. Then all I have to do is add the pieces to the puppet, glue them down to the surface, put the nut and washer on the reverse side (inside the puppet’s head) to secure them in place, add the pupils, bolt on the nose, and he’s done! I can’t wait!! I took a shower and grabbed a nap. I got up later to do a bunch of auditions. I still have a nagging cough that won’t go away and it’s starting to worry me. I’m wondering if I might have walking pneumonia or whooping cough. I’m going to my doctor on Thursday to see what he thinks. I typed out Wally’s Week, walked and fed Roxy, made myself a little dinner and hit the hay for an early session on Tuesday.
Tuesday the 26th – GETTIN’ IN MY STEPS! – When I got up at 10:30 I did a last-minute audition and sent it in to my agent. Then I walked over to Voice Trax West and enjoyed a gorgeous morning. I arrived for my noon session in good time, and I got a text from my pal Officer Mark who was off all week. He would be meeting out pal James at Warner Brothers (where James works) for lunch, and wanted to know if I could come along too. My session would be ending right around the time they were set to meet, but I was on foot, so I wouldn’t be able to get home, get in my car, and get over to them in good time. Plus I was pretty sweaty. Officer Mark offered to pick me up after the session and drive me. When I finished up with the session I walked over to Kit Kraft to get some Dullcote spray for Rowlf’s eyes, and Officer Mark met me there. Then we went over to Warner Brothers to meet James for lunch and tour the new exhibit which features costumes and props from the Aquaman and Wonder Woman movies. It’s a beautiful exhibit! As we were getting our lunch, I went up to one of the counters to pay for my food, a fresh-faced young man beamed at me and said, “You aren’t by chance Wally Wingert are you?” I was shocked, because nobody EVER recognizes Voice Actors. I said, “YES!” Turns out his name is Jourdan and he said he follows Voice Actors more closely than he follows on-camera actors. It’s rare to be recognized in this line of work, but to be recognized at Warner Brothers studio cafeteria really made my day. We posed for a selfie. I got back home, put some Dullcote on Rowlf’s eye pieces and they were looking good! I attached the nose and secured the eye pieces on to the puppet. I measured, remeasured, and measured again just to make sure everything was perfect. Then I fastened everything down permanently. Now I only have the pupils left to do, which I’ll take care of later in the evening. I had wanted to go to that evening’s meeting of the Sons of the Desert Laurel and Hardy fan club, but I was too bushed! Plus, my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley, whom I like to take to the meetings with me, had a cold and was home resting. Darn. There won’t be another meeting for a few months, but I just wasn’t in the mood to go. BUSY DAY! I ended up napping until 11:30pm! When I got up I did a ton of auditions, affixed the pupils to Rowlf’s eye pieces, did some repair work on the thumb strap inside his mouth (which had torn a bit) and cleaned the fabric on his mouth. It had gotten messed up with little hairs and pieces of fur during the trimming process. I sprayed his ears with hairspray, and then fastened the lengthy skirt up inside the puppet’s body. I did this for mobility at the convention. It’s great to have a long skirt on the puppet in case we ever needed to shoot him at a piano with two operators, but for single-operator mobility at a convention, it was better to have the skirt hidden out of the way. I took some pictures, and then decided that I needed to have better washers on the backs of his eye pieces. After fastening those inside, I looked him over. I was pretty proud of how he turned out. About a year ago I had started working on him with a famous puppet maker. She was going to do the majority of the work, but after having him in her possession for many months, she had only gotten his face done. I’m glad she did that, because the work she did on it was impeccable. I took Rowlf upstairs to The Tranquility Zone and started measuring for his new custom-made Plexiglas case. I sent the measurements to my pal Kyle at Plastic Depot, walked and fed Roxy, made some sloppy joes, and watched a few episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Wednesday the 27th – A REAL PAIN IN THE LUNGS! – My pal Edi and I met for lunch at Lancers at 2, and then we went across the street to Foam Mart so I could get some more puppet supplies. Now that Rowlf was finished, I wanted to get going on my next project – Oscar the Grouch! I went over to a Voice Over agency called TGMD to pick up some signed artwork. My pal Dr. Doom in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is a big fan of one of their clients, (who’s a friend of mine) so he agreed to sign some artwork for him and leave it for pick-up at his agent’s office. They all turned out beautifully! I stopped by my mailbox to pick up some mail, and then headed home. I did some auditions, worked around the house, and grabbed a short nap in the evening. I didn’t get up until around midnight, when I fed Roxy her dinner. The continual coughing spells I was still dealing with had left me feeling kind of worn out, so I laid back down on the couch. I had started feeling the symptoms of the cold I caught exactly five weeks ago to this day. And while the symptoms ran their course in short order (about five days) for some reason this nagging cough was hanging on. It was VERY annoying! I managed to get up later and package up some things I needed to ship out via UPS the next day, and then I hit the hay to be up early on Thursday for a meeting with artist Patrick Owsley, who would be meeting me to discuss some work I had for him.
Thursday the 28th – DOUBLE DUTY AT JFD! – I’ve always loved Patrick Owsley’s artwork, and I have two pieces of his in my collection. He and I have been working on a project I created for some time, and the pieces he’s doing for me are turning out great! I wanted to meet with him in person to discuss some extra pieces for the project I need to get made. While we ate we saw comedian Wanda Sykes leaving Jerry’s Famous Deli. I remember her being on “The Tonight Show” quite frequently, and being very consistently funny. I said a quick hello and told her I used to be the show’s announcer. She’s very pleasant and happy, and spent some time talking to the staff of Jerry’s. What a treat! On the way home I stopped to get some gas, went to my mailbox to get my packages, shipped off several boxes via UPS, and then went to my doctor’s office to get his advice about my persistent cough. He was puzzled, so he told me to see my Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to get ‘scoped’ (never a pleasant procedure), and if she didn’t have any advice I was given a referral to see a lung doctor. Ugh. I went back home and did an audition, did a little work around the house, and then headed BACK to Jerry’s Famous Deli to meet with a young actress named Charlie about a pilot she had written. We talked all about options for her to get it sold or made. I got home and napped for a bit, and then got up later to do more work around the house. I did some prep work to get ready for WonderCon that weekend, and then hit the hay so I could be up early for an audition.
Friday the 29th – NOSTALGIC! – Back in the ‘glory days’ of Voice Over (before the internet took everything over) it was a routine part of every Voice Actor’s day to visit on of the many area voice casting offices to audition for roles. Sometimes you’d read by yourself, and other times they would pair you with other actors for what was called “partner reads.” With the advent of the internet, where most everybody submitted their stuff from home, this time honored tradition became archaic, sadly. Waiting in the lobby with the other actors was a great way to catch up on the news and random chit chat. But while the internet definitely made it easier to submit your auditions (and saved a ton of money on gas for your car!) it also harmed the livelihood of casting companies. But today it was like the old days! Voicecasters was holding auditions all day…and PARTNER READS at that! It was great to go into the office at 11 and see actual people there waiting to read! I got to read not only once, but twice! They asked me to fill in for an actor who couldn’t make it in, as the actress was there with no one to read with her. What a fun time! And VERY nostalgic. As convenient as internet delivery is, I long for those days again. Since I was in the area, I went over to Roundtable Pizza to get a buffet lunch. While I was there I ran into my old pal Grant, who’s a very well-known puppeteer. He was there to have lunch too, so we ate together and talked about everything going on. He was also a good friend of the late Chuck McCann’s, so we talked about Chuck and how weird it was to be without him. I told him about my Rowlf project, and how being a Muppet performer was always something I dreamed of doing. But when he started telling me about all of the physical hazards of doing puppet work (like twisting the wrong way and injuring your back, etc.) I was starting to appreciate the fact that I had become a Voice Actor instead. I dropped by UPS to pick up some packages, and then I went home to meet my seamstress Mariah about the new custom shirt I had created for this weekend’s WonderCon. The shirt turned out great! It was created from an old children’s bedsheet from the 70’s which featured the famous DC comics characters of the day – Batman & Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Shazam! Captain Marvel. It was offset with maroon faux suede on the trim and collar. It looked amazing! I loaded her up with fabric for a bunch of new projects, and I was on my way to CVS (on foot!) to get my prescription filled for the cough medicine my doctor prescribed. I’m bound and determined to walk as much as I can to get in better shape, and this was a great walk on a gorgeous evening. But the pharmacist said one thing wasn’t filled out correctly on the form, so I would need to go back to the doctor’s office to get a new prescription before she could fill it. Oh well, the walk was nice, anyway. I called my doctor’s nurse and she said to come back in on Monday and it would be rewritten. He and I were chatting and laughing as he wrote the prescription, so maybe he got distracted a bit. I walked back home and fed the pets, and then drove over to my other seamstress’ house to drop off some work for her. She had just done a beautiful job completing the body on Rowlf, so I’m going to have her make a Rowlf cap with some of the leftover material. It will look like Rowlf’s head, but be on a wearable cap; with floppy ears and everything! I hit Taco Bell for some dinner and then headed home to get Rowlf packed up and ready for WonderCon. I grabbed a short nap, and then got up later to finalize my items for my trip to Anaheim the next day.
Saturday the 30th – WONDERCON 2019! – My pal Brittney Powell was over to the house to sit with the pets all day while I was at WonderCon. I took off around 10:30 and picked up my friend Sara on the way out of town. The traffic was miserable heading down to Anaheim, as expected, but we got to Santa Ana around 12:30. My friend Officer Mark suggested we park at his girlfriend’s parents’ house and have his girlfriend take us to the convention center to drop us off. Once we got there and found our way to the area to get our badges, we were set! I was carrying around a large plastic bag I had gotten the previous day at Kinko’s, which contained the Rowlf puppet. The nice thing about doing a puppet at a convention, versus a full-on cosplay, is I could choose the times I wanted to garner attention. Unlike wearing a costume, where you’re stopped about every five feet for a photo, when I wanted to blend in I just put the puppet back in the bag and walked on. We stopped in front of a WonderCon backdrop and did a little video greeting, and got some pictures. Other WonderCon attendees saw Rowlf and came up for photos. That’s always a lot of fun! As we walked around we saw a lot of other friends and we chatted extensively. I called my pal Mark Evanier, who is the moderator at all of the convention’s Cartoon Voice Actor panels (in addition to being a writer of comic books and writer/producer of many cartoons) and let him know I was there. He was in his hotel room, but he wanted me to call him. When I did, he told me of his plan to have Rowlf surprise the audience at the end of the Cartoon Voice Actor panel at 5:30, and read a few lines in the radio play that always occurs. What fun! The plan was that I was going to be in the audience and Mark would call me up as a special guest, but Rowlf would be hidden in my bag. Then at the appropriate time, I would bring Rowlf up from behind the table and unveil him to the crowd. Last year when I was one of the announced guests on the panel, I brought along my Mahna Mahna puppet and performed a bit with him. But THIS would be even better! Officer Mark, Sara and I walked all over the convention seeing friends and taking video and pictures. At 6pm we walked in the back of the packed auditorium and sat down. From the looks of it, there was one empty seat on the dais. Apparently Jim Meskimen had gotten stuck in traffic and wasn’t able to get there on time. So Mark ended up calling me up early so I could fill in for him until he got there. Luckily, Jim arrived just in time for the reading of the radio play, and the fun began. When I brought Rowlf up the applause gave me chills, as the audience loves this character as much as I do. In fact, my first dog as a child was named after him! But since I was at the far right end of the panel, and I’m right handed, I wasn’t able to get the puppet positioned the way I wanted to look out at the crowd. Plus, I was sharing a microphone with the very talented Voice Actor Jon Bailey. But even the limitations of the impromptu unveiling, everybody had a lot of fun. I fully encourage you to watch the 9 minute composite video of all the fun we had with Rowlf that day, which is posted at the bottom of this page. After posing for pictures and videos in the hallway after the panel, we all decided to meet at Polly’s Pies for dinner. Even Mark Evanier and his pal Jewel Shepard joined us! My buddy Valerie Perez met us there as well! The food was scrumptious, the company was amazing, and we laughed ourselves silly. But between all the coughing and all the talking I had been doing all day, my voice was sounding kind of rough. And I needed to sing the next day at church! So we went back to Connie’s parents’ house, recorded a short bit on their player piano with Rowlf, and headed back home. When I got home I collapsed on the couch and napped until it was time to get up and feed and walk Roxy. I came back inside and collapsed on the couch again until morning. Since I didn’t need to be up until 3 on Sunday, I got cleaned up and went to bed. I was exhausted…but happily so.
Sunday the 31st – REVIVAL! – My church held an old-fashioned Revival service, which included a dinner complete with fried chicken, collard greens and macaroni and cheese, and lots of musical guests. The Life Choir stole the show with their amazing music. It was something that was so indescribably amazing, I wanted to do it every week! Earlier in the day at 3pm, I woke up and heard my voice, and was shocked. It was pretty creaky. So I had some hot tea and honey, got showered, and headed to church to rehearse my number with the band. We didn’t have much time to rehearse, and thankfully it was an easy song. So I figured we’d be OK come performance time. There was a jazz combo made up of high school kids from Burbank, and they were terrific! The whole service was just magical! The time came for us to do “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins singers. I took a big swallow of water and headed to the stage. But since my voice was scratchy, I just decided to go with it, and put that into my performance. It would sound a little more “rock and roll” than the original, but I didn’t have much choice. The smoky rock voice seemed to serve the song well, and everybody appeared to enjoy it. We said our goodbyes to our guest singers, and then I took my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley home to her residence. Normally we’d go out to dinner, but we already had a wonderful dinner so we didn’t need to go anywhere. I went home to take a short nap, and then got up later to do my auditions. I fed and walked Roxy, and then crashed on my couch until 7am Monday morning! I got up and walked Roxy one last time, got cleaned up, and went to bed until I had to be up for an international call at noon. Whew! What a week! What a thoroughly exhausting, but satisfying week!
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
This 9 minute video compilation will help to summarize the amazing fun we had at WonderCon last Saturday with my new Rowlf the Dog puppet. Enjoy!