February 18 – February 23 (2020)
RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
This Muppet is known as “Beautiful Day.” Now that my Oscar is nearing completion, I’m seriously considering trying to make one of these. I’ve ALWAYS loved this Muppet and I’m shocked at how underused he is!
While researching great songs to sing at church someday, I came across this old favorite from Elvis called “A Thing Called Love.” (Nothing crazy or little about this one!) I’ve been singing it all week!
Tuesday the 18th – FOAM FLOOR – FOAM TONGUE – FOAM FUN! – It was one of those rare days that I got up early. I slept all night on “The Most Comfortable Couch in the Universe” (I honestly think my bed is getting jealous!) and I started the day by taking Roxy outside for a bit. I started chatting with my neighbor about how Roxy, at the age of 11-going-on-12, sometimes has trouble navigating my smooth kitchen floor. Sometimes she slips and falls because she is losing the leg strength to navigate those smooth areas. My neighbor suggested I used some interlocking foam pads she bought for her grandkids to play on. They’re perfect when you want soft, cushy flooring with lots of traction. She said her grandkids moved away so she didn’t need them anymore. I told her I’d give them a try. I spent the morning laying them down on the floor and they work great. Even though Roxy had to adjust to them a little bit, and at one point was even scared to walk on them. I think her eye had difficulty identifying some of the darker colors as solid ground, and she wasn’t sure of her footing. But now she traipses in and out of the kitchen all day and has never slipped once. Best of all, they clean up very easily! Since my Oscar the Grouch replica puppet head was pretty much done and ready to be covered, I decided I would start carving the tongue out of foam rubber. I took a piece of ½” foam, traced out the pattern I had for it, and started cutting. Back in the old days when I was making puppets regularly, I had gotten quite good at carving pieces of foam rubber with a very sharp scissors. It’s essential to take all of the hard edges off of the foam so it’s smooth and rounded. That takes a lot of patience and a very steady hand with the scissors. I remember having to spray my scissors back then with silicone spray so the tiny pieces of foam rubber that were snipped away wouldn’t cling to the scissors because of electric static. But that wasn’t so much of an issue this time, luckily. I got about halfway into carving the tongue and I decided it wasn’t going to be very nice. But I decided to continue a bit and use it as a “test tongue.” I put on my walking shoes and headed off to Panera to meet my pal Edi for lunch. On the way back I picked up some paint at the craft store that was perfect for painting foam rubber. Oscar’s tongue seems to have two different colors on it – the overall tongue color (a light red) and a darker red for the center line of the tongue. I got home and painted the “test tongue” and let it sit for a while. Then I masked off the rest of the tongue with a piece of cardboard that had a long “V” shape cut out of it. I sprayed on the darker red for the tongue’s center line. It looked pretty darn good, but I would let it sit overnight before doing anything else with it. Later that night I had dinner at Jerry’s Famous Deli with my friend Helen and then we headed back to my place to do some work. She was helping me get a lot of my tax paperwork packed up and ready for storage for another year. Glad to have THAT over with! After she left I grabbed a nap, and then got up later to do an auditions. I also set about carving a second tongue that was coming along quite nicely! I walked and fed Roxy and typed out Wally’s Week. I made a pot pie and hit the hay.
Wednesday the 19th – A TALE OF TWO TEST TONGUES! – I put Roxy in the car and headed over to Paul’s Video to drop off some elements so he can edit my new Actor Reel. As I’m beginning to branch out into other areas of the entertainment industry outside of Voice Over, it’s imperative to have a good reel to attract the attention of managers, agents and casting directors. Then Roxy and I stopped at the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru and got some chicken strips. Then I took her over to the vet’s to have some blood work done on her. Her vet wanted to put her on an anti-inflammatory for her back legs, but needed to look at her stats to see if her liver was healthy enough. Prolonged usage of this particular anti-inflammatory (similar to ibuprofen for a human) can cause liver damage. So going in it’s strongly advised that it only be given to a dog with a healthy liver. After that we headed home. I painted the second test tongue, which looked like it was going to be the winner. The edges were nice and smooth and round, and I only have a few minor complaints about it. I hopped back in the car and went to my seamstress Shelley’s house to pick up my Oscar the Grouch cap. Much like the Rowlf the Dog cap I made after making my Rowlf replica puppet, I decided to use some of the fur to make an Oscar cap. I found a great mossy-green leather cap on eBay and had Shelley cover it with some of the fur I’m using on my Oscar puppet. I’ll put eyes on it, a unibrow, and do some trimming. Then it will look like I’m carrying Oscar around on my head! I took my finished Oscar head over to Alex in Wonderland so we could talk about creating a pattern to cover it with the fur. We chatted for a few hours and by next Friday Alex will have a pattern cut out of muslin and ready for me to look at. Once approved, Alex and I will spend the day cutting the pieces out of the fur, sewing them, and Barge gluing them on to the finished Oscar head. It’s very exciting now that most of the work has been done on him, and I’ll have him all finished within a month or so! Then I can start working on his trash can home! On the way home I stopped at the dry cleaners to get my comforter, got my mail at my mailbox, and then headed home. I napped for a bit and then got up to do a ton of auditions. I did some work on my Oscar cap. I measured out the spots where the holes would go to place the eye pieces. Then I cut tiny holes in the front of the cap, through the fur and leather, so the eye pieces (which have bolts epoxy’d into them) can be fitted into the front and attached in the back with bolts and nuts. It took me a few tries (cutting holes through fur is deceiving!) but I got the eyes placed just where I want them! I had Shelley put an extra piece along the bottom of face so it looks like Oscar’s lower jaw. Once the fur on his face has been trimmed very short (my friend Sergio is coming over next week to do this) he’ll also trim up the fur on the lower jaw a bit to give it definition. Then I’ll cut and glue the unibrow out of brown fur, attach it to the eyes, stitch it into the cap, cut and attach pupils to the eyes, and I’ll have an instant Oscar cap! These Muppet caps are a lot of work, but worth it – based on the reaction they got when I wear the Rowlf the Dog cap. I treated myself by making a Chef Boyardee pizza-in-a-box and watched an episode of “The Mod Squad” before bed. A young Richard Dreyfuss was in it playing a creepy guy. WOW was he scary! You could see that this guy was going places, even back then!
Thursday the 20th – FAUX FREDDY! – Since it was another gorgeous day out, I decided to walk over to Voice Trax West to do some ADR for my Actor Reel. Back in the early 90’s I got to be the on-camera “Faux” Freddy Krueger for two TV commercials promoting a 900 phone line. Unfortunately, the production company had already recorded the Freddy voice, so it only required me to lip sync the previously recorded track. The voice track they used always sounded off to me (more like Cookie Monster than Freddy Krueger) and I’ve always hated it. But now that snippets from the commercials may possibly find their way on to my new Actor Reel, I wanted to make sure that the voice they were hearing was indeed mine. So in the Voice Trax West studio, I “looped” all of the Freddy lines from the original commercial, and then the engineer will affect them with the approved Freddy sound, mix it into the video, and return it back to me. I think it’ll end up sounding much better in the end than the original one. On the walk home I stopped by the hardware store with my Oscar cap to see if they could cut an inch off of the bolts in my Oscar cap. The bolts I epoxy’d into the eye pieces ended up being much longer than I needed, and once they were attached into the cap with washers and nuts I realized that the bolts would be rubbing on my forehead. OUCH! They didn’t have a bolt cutter available, so I just bought one. They opened it up and the clerk cut the bolts off right then and there. Perfect! Now I just need to put some Loctite on the nuts to make sure they never come off and I’ll be done with that part of it. I came home and chatted on the phone with some of the people involved in our Voices Against Cancer event happening in June. We’ll have 9 top Voice Actors coming to my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to sell autographs for a kid’s cancer charity! I fed the pets, grabbed a short nap, and then got up to record my auditions and do some work around the house. I spent some more time working on my Oscar cap, trimming the face just a bit, etc.
Friday the 21st – BOOKS, BANKS & BILLS! – At noon I got up to wait for my maids to arrive. After they started their cleaning of Planet Wallyood, I took Roxy over to the groomer’s to get her cleaned – both her exterior and her interior! The non-anesthesia teeth cleaners were there, so before her bath I had her teeth cleaned. I came home to do some work and pay the maids. The engineer at Voice Trax West sent me the finished Freddy Krueger clip and it turned out great! He deftly darted in and out between the original audio and the new audio, and best of all, it all sounded like it was recorded back in 1990! I walked over to get Roxy later in the afternoon, and then we came back home to enjoy some food and an evening nap. I got up later and spent all evening (UGH!) doing bookkeeping, going through bank statements, and paying bills. The best news is, my taxes have all been taken care of for another year. Had it not been raining out, I would have observed the occasion with a celebratory cigar! I quickly walked Roxy and hit the hay!
Saturday the 22nd – WONDERFUL WEEKEND! – I needed to be up shortly after noon to record several people from my church for our church’s website. They’re Easter-related announcements which will be posted one-a-day leading up to Easter. Is it THAT time of year already??!! We finished up at 2, and then I got showered and headed over to Paty’s to have lunch with my pal Sara. Then I got some groceries and went back home to relax before movie night. My pal Nate came over, and it was great to see him. He’s been fighting a rare form of leukemia since the beginning of the year and he updated us on his current condition. Thank God he’s doing well! He went from having 95% leukemia cells to having 12% leukemia cells currently. It is our prayer that someday he has LESS than 0% leukemia cells! But it appears that the treatments have been working very well! We watched a movie from 1984 called “Night Patrol” which was a vehicle for the Unknown Comic, a comedian who frequented “The Gong Show” all throughout the 70’s. I remember seeing this film as a kid and thinking it was funny. But unfortunately the movie hasn’t aged very well at all. It was pretty fun poking fun at it though! I ended up chatting with my friend Bob until the wee hours, and then I fed and walked Roxy. I enjoyed my celebratory cigar and then showered up and headed to bed.
Sunday the 23rd – WONDERFUL WESTWOOD ONE – WOW! – Only something special could possibly get me out of bed early on a Sunday. This was one of those days. One of my first jobs when I moved to L.A. back in 1987 was working at the Westwood One Radio Network in the business office. I fully credit my friendship with Dr. Demento and his producer Robert Young with this employment. Most of the people I worked with have scattered to the wind, but many of the “old gang” are still in touch. I was notified of a reunion and couldn’t wait to go to catch up with those who I haven’t seen in a long time. I dug through my storage and found an old Westwood One t-shirt (it still fit! – kinda). I made some DVD copies of an old video I shot of my last day at the network back in 1990, before I moved on to becoming a full-time D.J. at 94.7 The Wave in Hollywood. I drove over to the restaurant at The Farmer’s Market and met up with the gang. Fun stories, good food and great people! What a fun afternoon! I drove home and got a short nap before I had to be up for evening church. Roxy and I walked over and enjoyed a nice evening and a great service. My ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley and I walked back after the service and I gave her the birthday gift I had gotten from Amazon. Since she loves listening to music on her phone as she lounges around her apartment, I got her a little Doss speaker system that connects to her phone via Bluetooth. Now she can listen to her music through speakers that give the music a fuller, richer sound (as opposed to listening to them through her phone’s speaker). She was very moved by the gift and we hooked it up through her phone so I could show her how it worked. We drove over to Little Toni’s and had some spaghetti. Then I dropped Shirley off (who will be 93 this coming Friday) and headed home to nap. I got up to feed the kids, do a few auditions, do a little work around the house, and then I laid back down on my VERY inviting couch and slept there until Monday morning.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK