RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
After returning from the Yacht Rock Revue a few weeks ago, I took my Captain’s hat and put it on Sulley in my living room. It’s been there ever since, and I think it actually kind of suits the big lug!
The first thing I miss when I have voice troubles is my ability to sing along with certain songs I love. And this was one of the songs I hated not being able to sing along with. Journey’s “The Eyes of a Woman” has always been one of my favorites, with it’s haunting sound and complex cord structure. When my voice comes back, this is one of the first ones I’m going to wail on in the shower!
Monday the 26th – MARATHON MONDAY! – After a whirlwind weekend, I didn’t have much chance to get some quality rest. I was up at 1:30 in the afternoon, checked e-mails, and got ready for my session at Bang Zoom studios. I stopped at Del Taco to get some quick lunch, and then headed to the studio to work on our on-going “super-secret” project that has been going on for about 3 years now. What I CAN tell you about it, is it’s for a “digital assistant” aka “text to speech.” Similar to the voice recognition programs you use every day to get traffic directions, information, etc. – I’ll be the voice of a new digital assistant very soon. I wish I could tell you when it will be available, but due to the unpredictable scientific nature of how these things are developed and finalized, it’s anybody’s guess at this point. I think they’re fairly close to being done, but I’m not at all certain. After the session I picked up a package at my box. It was my Paul McCartney and Wings “Band on the Run” 5.1 surround DVD audio disc! I can’t wait to hear this in all its surround sound glory! It’s always been one of my favorite albums, and hearing it in full surround will be like hearing it for the first time again! I checked e-mails, played the album, and then grabbed a nap. It was very cold and windy out. I got up later to feed the pets and to type up Wally’s Week.
Tuesday the 27th – DANGER IS MY LAST NAME! – When I woke up at 1:30 I had a message from a post-production supervisor at the show “Henry Danger.” He said they lifted a voice track I did for the show last year and used it in one of their new shows. So I needed to come by the studio and sign some papers so I could get paid for it. Pretty neat! I called him and told him I could come by before my 3pm session at Bang Zoom. He told me they were located in the Burbank Studios in studios number 9 and 11. Then he asked me if I knew where that was. I told him, “I should. I worked there for four years doing The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” He arranged for a drive-on pass for me and I pulled on to the lot. It was fun being there again. It was a lot quieter than it was when I worked there, and several areas had gotten a nice coat of paint. Plus I parked in Jay’s old parking spot, which I thought was ultra-cool! I signed the papers and headed to Del Taco to get a cheeseburger. I did another 3 hours at Bang Zoom for the digital assistant gig. Hard to believe that someday millions of people will be hearing me tell them where to go to get pizza, or gasoline, or where the best traffic routes are! I have become “Star Trek!” After the session I drove home and relaxed. After all the days in a row of non-stop talking my voice was feeling a bit rough. And I still had one more day of sessions to go before a break. I grabbed a nap on the couch for a bit, and then got up to start a new project. My Adam West Batman mannequin has always bugged me. His arms, shoulders, chest and legs are proportionate, but his torso looks very skinny and girlish. I always swore that someday I would grab some Magic Sculpt modeling compound and build up his torso to “Pure West” status. It’s fairly messy work, but adding the girth will ultimately be worth it, as my Batman display will look much better. I ordered a new Robin mannequin too, and when my Robin comes back from the Hollywood Museum I’m going to do a switcheroo. The mannequin my Robin costume is currently on will have its head removed, and be dressed in my Donnie Osmond jumpsuit. The Robin head will go on to the new mannequin I just ordered, which has the figure posed as if he’s on the phone. I plan on putting my Batphone prop in his left hand, and his Robin Batarang in his right. It should look much better and more “in action.”
Wednesday the 28th – LIKE A BLISTER ON YOUR HEEL! – The day started with me heading to the post office to mail off some things, and then over to my mailbox to get some packages. Then I headed to Bang Zoom to finish up this round of voice sessions for the digital assistant program. But while we were recording, I started to notice some problems with a certain section of my voice. I realized what the problem was. Unlike voicing commercials, cartoons or videogames, voicing a digital assistant is very repetitive. In cartoons you’re usually using the fully dynamic range of your vocal cords. But in voicing a digital assistant, that’s not the case. The tonality and pitch of the lines I voice have to be read within a limited pitch range in order to match previous lines I’ve recorded. That way when the computer starts putting all of the words, consonants, vowels and sounds together to create understandable sentences, there can’t be a wide variety of pitches involved, otherwise it won’t sound right when it’s all connected together. This means that there’s a lot of repetition on a certain area of your voice, for 3 hours of recording. Given that I was doing this type of repetition for 3 hours a day, and for 3 days in a row, it wore on my vocal cords. Not unlike a blister wearing into a certain part of your heel when you’re breaking in a new pair of shoes. Or the arm of a pitcher who pitches too many games in a row. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but because of the allergy-related bronchial issue I had recently, I don’t think my voice was quite back to full strength yet. And the repetitive nature of my work for the past two weeks was starting to show. Add to the fact that I talked all day at last Saturday’s Wondercon, and talked all through the day last Sunday when I had guests in town. I needed several days of voice rest, plain and simple. No amount of teas, potions, lotions, concoctions, pills or lozenges would help. It simply needed to rest, uninflamed, and heal. On the way home I picked up my packages at my mailbox and then headed home to walk and feed Roxy and Spook. In my packages I received my 5.1 surround sound DVD audio disc of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album. Amazing! I really wish this 5.1 thing would have caught on with classic albums. I would love to hear what Gerry Rafferty’s “City to City” would have sounded like in surround! I relaxed and took a nap. I got up later to power my way through some auditions. But I’m really looking forward to several days of voice rest over the next several days.
Thursday the 29th – SHUT UP, ALREADY! – I drove into Hollywood for meeting at the Hollywood Museum to meet with the museum staff about some upgrades I’d like to do in the 1966 Batman exhibit. We had a great meeting and great things are happening there! Many good things to come! Then I drove home to meet my pal Edi, who had come to town to do some business. Then she and I drove over to Barris Kustom Industries so I could meet with Jared Barris, the grandson of the great car customizer George Barris. It was a great meeting and it was fun chatting with him. But I wasn’t getting much vocal rest, I’m afraid. I went to my accountant’s office to drop off a few checks, and then I gassed up the Mustang. Edi and I drove over to Kohl’s to search for these cool new Batman Hawaiian shirts I heard were out. They look like ordinary Hawaiian shirts, but when you look closely at the design you can see a little Batman figure in the midst of all the flowers. Much like Batman, I had to do some detective work to find them in the store. But once I located them I found 9 shirts left; 1 in 2XL, 2 in XL, 2 in L, 2 in M, and 2 in S. I bought them all, since I knew people who would want these. Some of them don’t have a Kohl’s nearby, so I can mail them off to them. Then I got the great idea to make my shirt into one of my bowling shirts. So off we went to JoAnn’s to get some contrast fabric for the side panels. With the help of one of their nice ladies, I found a perfect solid cotton fabric that matched the color in Batman’s cape perfectly. Now I’ll have one of my seamstresses insert the bowling shirt-type panels into my shirt and I’m ready for the next comic con! We got to my house and fed my pets. That evening Edi and I went to the Coral Café because she missed eating there. She lives in Palm Springs with her husband Elliot, and doesn’t get to eat at the Coral Café too often. While I was there I ran into an old friend of mine from the 94.7 The Wave radio days. Nicole was one of the other DJs at the station at the time I was there. It was great seeing her again and meeting her daughter. I got back home and took a nap, but got up later to do some auditions. Then I did some work around the house.
Friday the 30th – NO, SERIOUSLY. SHUT UP! – Since it was Good Friday I was anticipating having a nice, silent day to myself. I was going to walk to the post office to mail off some of these Batman Hawaiian shirts, get my prescription at CVS, and head over to my church to participate in the prayer vigil. But when I woke up I got a text from my pal Officer Mark. He had the day off from service, so the first thing he did was to go to Kohl’s and pick up some Batman Hawaiian shirts! Then he went to the Hollywood Museum to get some shots of the exhibit. I figured since he was in town we’d meet for lunch and I could catch him up on the meeting I had last Thursday with the museum folks. But again, I talked way too much; completely forgetting about my self-imposed “vocal rest.” We went to Paty’s to eat, and I took Roxy along. It was a gorgeous day. I mailed off the shirt to my buddies, picked up some mail at my box, and then spent a few hours telling Mark about the upgrades I wanted to do at the museum’s Batman exhibit. When I got home Edi had returned from her day’s errands. We drove over to Barone’s to have dinner with our friend Brittney Powell. Again, I’m talking way too much. And the “dead spot” in my voice was not improving. It was odd…my lower voice was completely fine. My higher voice and falsetto was completely fine. But the area of my vocal cords that were overused during the digital assistant session was scratchy and shot. When I got home I napped from 11pm to 2am. I got up to feed Roxy, and then napped on the couch until 4am. I took her for a walk, and then came right back in and collapsed on the couch. I had been going virtually non-stop for about a week and a half!
Saturday the 31st – VOW OF SILENCE! – At 2pm in the afternoon I woke up from my “couch coma” and wrote an e-mail to my church. Since my voice was giving me problems I felt it best to have someone else play Jesus this year in the Easter Walk for the kids at church. I told them I needed to just shut up for a few days. They totally understood and found a replacement. I hate missing out on that, since I look forward to doing that each year, but being silent for a while was becoming imperative for my future work prospects. I had three sessions scheduled for American Airlines this coming week, and the voice I use for that gig is in the same range as the digital assistant. And that area of my voice was virtually missing. My assistant Sara came with me to get lunch and groceries, but she understood that I wasn’t going to be a very good conversationalist. I drove the Gran Torino around for a bit to make sure the battery was all charged up and ready to go for a TV shoot I’d be doing with it this coming Friday. I also gassed it up to make sure it was good to go. All I need to do is get it washed and it’s ready to rock! I had canceled movie night at my house, because I was anticipating having to get to bed early so I could be up at the crack of dawn on Easter morning. So since there wasn’t any movie night, I took the opportunity to shower and hit the hay after the groceries were put away. I figured if I’m sleeping I won’t be tempted to talk. When I got up later I did some work on my photo album project and cleaned up the Chaney Room. I have several projects going simultaneously (getting stuff ready to sell on eBay, my puppet project, my photo album project, and my Adam West “girth” project) and the Chaney Room was the dumping ground for all this stuff. I couldn’t walk into the room anymore because it was full of stuff. So I organized it appropriately so I could move around in there. The night was overcast and warm. It was also very quiet. I took the opportunity to walk Roxy on a leisurely stroll through our neighborhood. It sure was pleasant and relaxing. I came back inside and got ready to watch another “SNL” episode from the first season DVD set, and make my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad. I’ve learned that eating right before bed can cause acid reflux to occur and cause damage to the vocal cords. So from now on, if I eat before bed, I make sure to time it so I can get up and do a few hours of work after eating. That way I have time to digest before I lay down for good. At this point I’m planning on attending my church’s Easter services in the evening, but I’m still nervous about work on Monday. My voice is better, but not great.
Sunday the 1st – EASTER SUNDAY! – Around 11am I got to bed. I was sad I couldn’t do the Easter Walk, but that’s the way it goes. I got up later to walk Roxy over to the evening service, and afterwards my “adopted grandma” Shirley and I went to dinner at the Coral Café. When I was there the other day with Edi I noticed that they had some pretty tasty Easter dinner options on a special menu. I went there for the ham dinner. But it was clear that my voice wasn’t going to be in any condition to get back to work on Monday, doing much of the same kind of work that wore it out in the first place. So I texted my agent and asked if she could buy us a week. I told her by next week I would be better and ready to rock. She said she’d take care of it. It’s better to take care of that now, instead of getting to the session and having to call it off because of vocal problems. I’m hoping that by Thursday I will have improved and can do 3 hours for American Airlines. Then I can have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off before I head back into the studio for more the week after. After dinner I napped, then got up to do a few auditions. Luckily they were auditions required either a scratchy voice, or a lower-pitched voice. Those I had no problem with. But instead of doing multiple takes, I decided to limit the number of takes in the interest of my self-imposed “vow of silence.” I fed and walked Roxy and headed to bed. So goes the life of a Voice Over Artist, I guess.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK