RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Here’s an old shot I found from Invadercon from several years ago. I can’t remember what “Invader Zim” creator Jhonen Vasquez was saying, but Richard Horvitz and I were in hysterics!
Here’s the song that came on my iPod during my flight to Minneapolis that was so impactful to me at the time. B.J. Thomas and “Rock and Roll Lullaby.” Gorgeous song!
Monday the 23rd – SUITING UP THE CAPTAIN! – My seamstress Shelley came over to have a look at how my replica Star Trek Captain’s tunic fit on the mannequin that I’m turning in to my Captain Kirk figure. Since the tunic was made for me originally, it’s a little big for the figure I chose. Since I wanted to stay as close to William Shatner’s original height and build from the original 60’s series, it will need considerable modification, since it’s smaller than I am. So Shelley will have a lot of “taking in” to do, and some of it won’t be very easy. We also have to keep in mind that the braid on the sleeves is properly placed and can’t be moved at all; likewise with the chest insignia. It’ll be very tricky. I headed over to Paty’s for lunch with my pal Rubber Larry, who’s an amazing sculptor and mask maker. Larry was the one running around in the silicone Brad Pitt mask at the recent Son of Monsterpalooza. We’re talking about a few projects we’d like to do together. I went back home to do some work, and then I grabbed a nap in the evening. I got up later to do my nightly auditions, type out Wally’s Week, and then I made some Buffalo Mac and watched the final episode of “The Mod Squad” from the first season. I’ve REALLY enjoyed that show!
Tuesday the 24th – SAMI-OH FROM CAMEO! – RaeAnn is the daughter of a friend of mine from high school, and we met for lunch at Jerry’s Famous Deli. I had given her dad my card at the recent high school reunion. She’s an actress and we talked all about living in L.A. and building a career. After lunch I headed to Staples to buy some supplies for the upcoming convention appearance I’d be doing in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota at their extravaganza called Siouxpercon. I’ll be leaving this Thursday and coming back next Monday. It should be a fun time! I got back home and did some work, wrote some more on a new kid’s story I’m working on for my series of new books, I printed some signage I’ll need for my appearance at Siouxpercon, and then did a little packing. My pal Officer Mark brought over Sami from the company called Cameo, it’s a company that will broker personal messages to fans from celebs and media personalities. Since Mark handles my social media stuff, he brought her over for a tour of Planet Wallywood, and so that we could shoot our “intro video” to join the site. We came up with a pretty fun one! When they left I grabbed a short nap, and then got up later to do my nightly auditions. I did some more trip prep and hit the hay.
Wednesday the 25th – TORINO TO THE DR.! – Edi and Elliot Lurie met me for lunch at Lancers in Burbank. Since the weather has turned nice again, I’ve had the Gran Torino out and about for the past week or so. But if you recall the “battery terminal” incident from last week, then you’ll know why I had to take it into the Burbank Auto Dr. to get a fuse replaced so my electronics would work again. Edi was kind enough to take me home after I dropped the car off at “The Dr.” after lunch. Then I hopped in my Mustang and drove to Voice Trax West for a quick session for Direct Energy, a Texas power company that I’ve been doing commercials for over the past few years. After the session I stopped at CVS to get some supplies for the trip, and then I drove home to feed the kids. I did my auditions, worked around the house, prepped for my exit on Thursday and went to bed. I’m VERY excited for the journey to Siouxpercon!
Thursday the 26th – OFF TO SIOUXPERCON! – Right at 9am sharp I woke up and jetted out of bed. My house sitter Brittney came over at 9:45, but I heard her sneezing and coughing. She was sick with a cold. GREAT! Not wanting to get sick, I covered my face with a bandana and made a hasty exit out the door to meet my driver Armen, who was taking me to LAX for my flight. Normally if someone I’m hiring to hang out at my house for several days is sick, I prefer that they stay home so I can find somebody else. I knew that when I got back I’d have to swab the entire house with anti-bacterial wipes to make sure there weren’t any lingering viruses sitting around. I simply can NOT get sick right now. We got to LAX and I checked in for my flight. As I waited for my flight to board I got a call from my San Francisco agent asking about the possibility of doing a Voice-Over session Friday or Monday in Sioux Falls. It would require something called an ISDN line, and I wasn’t exactly sure which studios in Sioux Falls had one at their disposal. She said she’d do some checking and she should have more info by the time I landed in Minneapolis. I told her I’d call her then. For the first leg of my flight I was in the very first row on the aisle. The window seat next to me stayed vacant for a long time. I said the flight attendant just before the doors closed, “It looks like I’m on my own.” She said, “So far.” But just before we left a young lady came on board with a bunch of bags and a beautiful little baby, barely 7 weeks old! Since he was a newborn I knew that it would be OK. Oh he may fuss a little bit, but after getting a “boob” he’ll settle down to sleep for the majority of the flight. But I guessed his age pretty well. I estimated 6 to 8 weeks, and I was right on the money. I told the pilot (who had come out of the cockpit to see the baby) that it had been a while since I had a baby that young, but I still had the chops when it came to guessing the age! They were on their way to see his dad in Minneapolis. After I helped her get her bags stashed in the overhead compartment I just kept watching him out of the corner of my eye with amazement. He was so perfect, with his tiny little hands and face. The whole plane was talking about how cute he was. For a second it made me rethink some of my life choices. Immediately my “paternal” side kicked in. I was going to do whatever I could to help the young mother have a comfortable flight. I put my headphones on and listened to my iPod for the duration of the flight. And wouldn’t you know it, the music that came up randomly was like my current situation was musically scored. For example…”For Your Babies” from Simply Red played…
“Her faith is amazing
The pain that she goes through
contained in the hope for you”
Since her arms were full with the little guy, she really didn’t have a place to put her meal when it was served. I told her that she could put her tray on the area between our seats, and I would lean to the right so she could enjoy her dinner. I made sure she was comfortable and that she had whatever she needed for a nice dinner. But then there were MORE songs that came up randomly which continued to underscore the situation with the heart-meltingly cute baby sitting next to me…”Show Me” by the Pretenders…
“Welcome to the human race
With its wars, disease and brutality
You with your innocence and grace”
But it didn’t stop there. At one point it started to affect me somewhat emotionally, as I began to reflect upon my own personal life choices and experiences. But when “Rock and Roll Lullaby” from B.J. Thomas came on, I just sat back, pulled my cap down over my face, and hoped no one would notice my moistening eyes…
“But whenever I would cry
She’d calm my fears and dry my tears
With a rock and roll lullaby”
When we landed the pilot again came out to see the baby. He offered to hold the baby while the mother gathered up her things. He said, “I can hold the baby if you need me to!” The flight attendant said, “Oh, he’s been trying to get to hold that baby since the flight started.” We all had a good laugh. I retrieved the young mom’s luggage from the overhead compartment and told her I’d meet her in the jetway where the baby’s stroller was waiting. Once they unfolded the stroller we got it loaded up with the baggage and she was set to go. The pilot walked past me, pointed at me and said, “Thank you.” What an experience! I found the gate to my Sioux Falls connection and phoned my agent. She was having a VERY difficult time trying to find an ISDN line in Sioux Falls. So I made a few phone calls of my own, but to no avail. I’d hate to lose this gig because of a small technological thing like that. The plane landed on time and I got my rental car. I headed to the Sheraton, where all of the guests of the convention would be staying. It was VERY windy out; good old Midwestern nights. I met my folks over at their favorite eatery for a bite of late dinner. I got back to my room, unpacked and hit the hay around 1am.
Friday the 27th – SIOUXPERCON DAY 1 – The minute I woke up I started calling around to various places trying to find an ISDN. My old pal Don, who owns a production facility, didn’t have one. In the past I had done sessions at the local South Dakota Public Broadcasting facility located at Sioux Falls College (now called the University of Sioux Falls) but none of the phone numbers I had for them were working. One guy’s voicemail was full, so I couldn’t even leave a message. Welcome to South Dakota. I phoned my agent and she said she’d keep trying, but it looked like a Friday session wasn’t going to be possible. If we could find a location we could still do a Monday session. Hungry, I sped over to my favorite eatery B&G Milky Way for some sloppy joes. But the location closest to my hotel had closed for the season. Undeterred I drove over to the location on the other side of town which I knew would still be open. I dashed through the drive-thru, got my 3 sloppy joes with pickle and mustard, a Diet Coke and a strawberry shake and was on my way to the convention. Since it was a Friday afternoon we kind of figured the attendance would be light. But after I got my table set up it was a blast meeting the attendees. I had a certain amount of pride in this, because back in the early 80’s I used to dress up as different characters and visit kids in hospitals and at the malls. Those were the days before “cosplay” was a thing; or even a word! And to be honest my costumed adventures of those days met with a certain amount of puzzlement, disdain and criticism. People didn’t really understand what I was doing. But now cosplay is a “thing,” and there are entire clubs dedicated to dressing up as Star Wars characters and doing charitable work. Where was this attitude when I was running around Sioux Falls in tights and armor? But I was glad to see that, not only was it accepted, but downright celebrated! I guess I was just a little bit ahead of my time, was all. My pal Dave (another pioneer cosplay pal of mine from the old “Bat Pack” days) came by later in the afternoon after he got off work and we sat around chatting about all the crazy, costumed things we used to do. He reminded me that he and I were involved in the very FIRST major cosplay event Sioux Falls had ever experienced; the 1988 “Zoo Coup.” It’s where we took 7 costumed super-heroes to the Great Plains Zoo over Labor Day weekend to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. My buddy Jacob had flown in from L.A. to shoot some footage for a documentary I’m involved with. I can’t tell you much about it, but the L.A. production company thought it was worthwhile sending Jacob out to Siouxpercon to film the activities to add into the documentary. I can’t wait to tell you more about this amazing film when it gets closer to release. But Jacob was having the time of his life in Sioux Falls. I warned him early on that the people in Sioux Falls were going to be unlike anything he’s experienced before. I said they’ll get him anything he needed, be super nice and courteous to him, and that he most likely wouldn’t be used to treatment like that; especially coming from L.A. His first words to me were something on the order of, “You were right!” The first night he got into town he went downtown to a bar and ended up sitting with a bunch of people he didn’t know trying to solve a riddle for 3 and a half hours. He was amazed at the quality of people in Sioux Falls. I knew he’d enjoy it. He said he’s so enamored with it, he wants to shoot a feature film in Sioux Falls! During the slow times I got to talking to a cosplayer named Shannon who had a table where she and her friend were discussing cosplay with attendees and selling pictures of them in various characters. I asked her if she was named after the song and she had never heard of Henry Gross’ “Shannon” from 1976. I told her to Google it and we’d discuss it. The first day of the con was a blast, and when I finished for the day I went to my room and freshened up. Then I met my folks and family for dinner at a buffet place called Royal Fork. My great-nephew-in-law was there and he couldn’t wait to see the convention on Saturday. I brought him a studio-quality Jason mask that I had bought for him at Son of Monsterpalooza, so he wanted to go to the convention in costume. After dinner we went over to the Spirit store to see if they had a ready-made Jason costume in his size. But since Jason just wears regular clothes that are torn up, it doesn’t make much sense to release a Jason costume, when people could just to go Goodwill, buy a few $2 items, distress them, and be good to go. However, I did find a bright orange shirt there with the Arkham Asylum logo on its back, and the word INMATE on the front. I figured the Riddler just HAD to have one of those, right? As I was paying the kids behind the counter stated talking about Arkham Asylulm and I asked them if they played the videogames. 3 of the 4 said they hadn’t, but the fourth one said he had definitely played them. I told him to close his eyes. When he did I ripped into one of the Riddler’s lines from the game. He opened his eyes and smiled and said, “Wow! You’ve really got that down. You sound just like him.” I said, “He’s me.” The kids all freaked out and I explained that I was in town for Siouxpercon and I was originally from Sioux Falls, etc. It was a pretty fun time. Spirit has a charity drive going on where you can spend a few extra bucks for their charity and hang a little sign up on their wall. So I filled out a few as The Riddler and hung them up. It was a blast meeting them! By then my agent had called and said she located a studio with an ISDN line at SDPB, South Dakota Public Broadcasting. But they were no longer located in the college. Instead, they had their own location down by the beautiful Sioux Falls. My session was set for Monday morning at 9am. Excellent! After I bid my family adieu, I went over to my pal Dave’s house for “Cokes and Smokes.” He had some Cokes in a glass bottle all iced up and ready to go, and a few cigars for us. We sat out on his patio and enjoyed the evening. I headed back to my room and prepped for Day 2 of Siouxpercon.
Saturday the 28th – SIOUXPERCON DAY 2! – Right around 10am I got showered and ready for the busiest day of the convention. My pal Dave came by with his daughter Molly who was going to help me out at the table all day. I signed all day and chatted with attendees. It was an absolute blast. Again, much like a proud parent, I enjoyed seeing all of the “next generation” of cosplayers proudly displaying and wearing their costumes, and incurring none of the ridicule I used to when I was “blazing the trail” back in the “cave days of cosplay.” I got to chat some more with Shannon and found out she lived in Florida. I encouraged her to come to Ranger Stop in Orlando in November where I’d be signing for Power Ranger fans. Oddly enough, next door to the convention center, in the old Sioux Falls Arena (LOTS of good memories there!) my sister Bonnie had a booth at the Health Fair they were holding. So I went next door and found her booth and surprised her. Since I didn’t get a chance to get my daily sloppy joes at B&G Milky Way, I asked my folks to pick some up and bring them out when they came at 3 to see my panel. My sister Peggy and her husband brought out their grandkids Torin and Tesslyn, who were dressed as Jason from Friday the 13th and Chuckie respectively. Torin enjoyed wearing his Jason mask and running around seeing the sights. He had never seen anything like this before! And old pal of mine from my senior year of high school, who went on to be a local radio legend, Greg Belfrage accepted my invitation to come moderate my panel at 5. Greg was also an impersonator in high school, and we used to sit in the lunch room and try to “Out Vader” each other with our Darth Vader impressions. Greg was also involved in our 1988 Zoo Coup when he played a henchman for The Penguin. After the panel I went back to the panel and signed until the convention closed at 7pm. Though I was going to meet friends for dinner at little later, the convention had a very nice dinner for the guests and staff in one of the meeting rooms. I popped in for a small bite and chatted with the Siouxpercon staff. We told fun stories and when we started talking about the song “Brandy” I phoned up Elliot Lurie in L.A. to say hi to everybody. Oddly enough he just happened to be tuning up his guitar, so over my speakerphone he played the opening chords of the song, much to everyone’s amazement! My evening plans with my friends were to meet for dinner, and then go see the new Rambo movie at the local theater. But it was getting late. Shannon, who was at our table, was getting cabin fever, since she hadn’t been out of the hotel all weekend. But since I had a rental car and knew how to get around, I invited her along. We met my pal Scott and his wife Patti, and my pal Bob and his wife Jeanette at Ruby Tuesday’s. We had so much fun talking we lost track of time and closed the place down. Needless to say we missed the Rambo showtimes. When we headed back to the car Shannon was freezing. When she left Florida it was 100 degrees, and now it was spitting rain and dipping just below 50 degrees. She wasn’t prepared for the weather. I had given her my Palm Springs hoodie to wear to keep her somewhat warm, but she needed a much better barrier against the South Dakota cold; especially given the fact that we were in for a few more chilly days. We drove over to the local Walmart and picked her out a nice fuzzy jacket and a flannel shirt. I got some water and a cool Avengers t-shirt. We headed back to the hotel and before she went to her room I told her to keep the hoodie and she could give it back to me on Sunday. I went down to the hotel bar and saw Tyson, the CEO of Siouxpercon and Jacob. Because Rosh Hashanah was starting on Sunday evening, Jacob needed to catch an early plane out of Sioux Falls so he could be in Arizona by evening time. Jacob was beside himself with joy, as he’d had an amazing time. I sense that the friendships he made while in Sioux Falls will transcend time and last forever. NICE! I headed back to my room and organized for Sunday, ordered up a Boss’ pizza (YUM!) and hit the hay.
Sunday the 29th – SIOUXPERCON DAY 3! – My niece Julia met me at the convention center so she could assist me with the day’s activities. Since Julia isn’t really into the whole comic book/cosplay thing I figured Sunday would be a better day for her to attend. I feel that Saturday would have overwhelmed her a bit. After finding out that a guest for a podcast had left early, the podcast host was without a guest. So I subbed in for about an hour. It was a lot of fun. Though my voice was still doing pretty well from 3 solid days of non-stop talking, it was starting to have a bit of trouble. Much like it did during the class reunion weekend (more non-stop talking) and the Son of Monsterpalooza weekend (more non-stop talking!). Having learned from those two experiences, I made sure to keep the water free flowing and sucked on some lozenges called Vocal Zone. It really seemed to help. A bunch of guys from the local 501st Star Wars club were getting together for a big dinner to discuss an event we want to do in Sioux Falls next year as a cancer charity. But before we headed over there, Shannon wanted to get some pictures by the Sioux Falls. Of course there were a lot of cute dogs there, so we got some pictures and petted some awesome dogs. Then we headed to Johnny Carino’s (an Italian place) for dinner. There were about 20 people at this dinner and we all had a blast. My pal “Dr. Doom” (a local oral surgeon – NOT his real name) with whom we had many fun experiences in Las Vegas back in March, was there to head the meeting. We had a good discussion and I think our event will be amazing. After dinner my pal Scott and his wife Patti, Shannon and I went to a local diner to have dessert. Then I bid them farewell. We headed back to the hotel, and since Shannon had an early flight the next morning we exchanged cards and promised ourselves we’d keep in touch. I got back to my room and packed up. Not only had I misplaced a small pair of retractable reading glasses, my main pair of reading glasses snapped in two! GREAT! I had a session at 9am and no reading glasses! I went downstairs to the hotel office to see if they had any duct tape, but they only had masking tape. That didn’t work. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do at the session. Plus, my voice was really, really rough. I was hoping the session the next day was for a character that required a lower, scratchier voice. As I was packing up my belongings and clothes, I realized that my retractable glasses were in the pocket of one of my pairs of shorts! Awesome! So at least I’ll be able to read the copy. Whether or not I’ll be able to SPEAK the copy remains to be seen!
Monday the 30th – HOME AGAIN! – Since checkout wasn’t until noon, and the session was only scheduled for an hour, I got up at 8, showered, and headed to SDPB for my session. When I got there I realized that the head honcho was none other than my old pal Twyla Olson from Aberdeen Central High! We were in several plays and shows together back then! Amazing. We had a laugh talking about the old days. The session went very well, and SDPB has a very nice facility down by the falls. I was watching geese walking around grazing in a field as I did the session. Neat! After I was done I sped back to the hotel and got loaded up to check out. I met my folks at a restaurant to get lunch before I checked into my flight. Then I went to the airport to get my boarding passes. As I’ve learned from past experiences, don’t return the rental car until I’ve check in for the flight. That way if the flight is delayed or canceled, I still have wheels to get around. Sure enough the flight was delayed an hour. It should be OK since I had a two hour layover in Minneapolis. But that meant I had an additional hour to kill in Sioux Falls. So I got my boarding passes and made note that I needed to be back at the airport at 2:30 to go through security. My 2:19 flight was now scheduled to depart at 3:33. I drove around looking at places I used to frequent when I lived there, and then I drove over to KELO radio where I used to work. I wanted to see if Greg Belfrage was still there, but he had taken off for lunch. So I went across the street to KELO TV to see my old pals Kevin and Paul. Kevin took me to his office and showed me the story he did about Jacob shooting a documentary in Sioux Falls. I saw a few other old friends from the old days, and then I headed back to the airport. I checked to make sure the flight was still set to depart at 3:33, turned in my rental car, got through security and got on the plane. From Sioux Falls to Minneapolis I slept the entire way. I was exhausted! It was a very fun weekend! I found my gate for my L.A. flight, got on and got comfortable. Instead of sleeping I decided to watch “Rocketman” on the entertainment system. It was pretty darned good. I followed that up with a viewing of Elton John’s “Million Dollar Piano” concert. Then I put on my iPod and slept for the final hour into L.A. We landed at 7:45, my pal Armen picked me up and I headed home to spray my house down with Lysol and wipe everything with anti-bacterial wipes. I really REALLY didn’t want to catch Brittney’s cold. I got settled in, unpacked, and hit the hay so I could be up early on Tuesday for a session.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK