June 29 – July 5 (2020)
RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Boy do I miss these! Anyone remember Banana Flips? Sponge cake wrapped around banana-flavored cream filling like a taco?
My folks loved the Mamas and the Papas when I was growing up, and it really brought back memories to hear “Words of Love” on the radio the other day. Cass Elliot really did have an incredible voice!
Monday the 29th – X-RAY X’D OUT! – The week started off with a bang, and LOTS to do! My first stop of the day was at my seamstress Shelley’s to drop off the cut and pinned arms and legs for my Robin the Frog replica Muppet. All she needs to do is seam them up one side and then I’ll take them back to my house and stuff them accordingly and pin them in place on the puppet. I grabbed some quick food to go at the Taco Bell drive thru, and then headed to the bank to do a little business. I hit my mailbox to pick up my packages, and drove by the place where I was supposed to get an X-ray on my lower back, but they said they were all done taking patients for the day. Oddly enough, their schedules have been limited because of the virus thing, but they don’t take appointments to get X-Rays. So the only option is to walk in and wait around. Now, doesn’t it seem illogical that, given their limited operations because of the virus, they want you to walk in and sit around for an hour with other people waiting to get an X-ray? Would it be more consistent with virus protocol to have patients come in at an appointed time, so you don’t have a lobby full of people waiting around? Logic escapes some people I guess. I went home and got ready for a webcam interview with Zach from Visioncon in Missouri. It was a fun interview that you can see here: https://youtu.be/vFeUDA_w-i0 . It was great fun, and it’s always a good time when I can work one of my Muppet replicas into the fray. In fact, I think from here on out, every webcam interview I do will feature one of my replicas…just because it’s fun! I went out to my patio aka the Tranquility Annex, to set up the new hammock that arrived in the mail. But I’ll need a certain length of chain to make up the spatial difference between the length of the hammock, and the length of space where the eye hooks are mounted on my patio. It should be an easy fix during a quick visit to the hardware store. My cat Spooky came out to the patio to investigate. Normally, he doesn’t ever seem interested in the outside world (he actually seems a little freaked out by it) but tonight he was being very curious. But when he started jumping up on the patio wall I got nervous and put him back inside. Of course, all he did after that was howl and meow incessantly to get back outside. I think I created a monster! I also set up a levitating Star Trek piece I bought from the Bradford Exchange. It seemed rather cool in its concept, but it also seemed very cheaply made – especially given the ‘sizable’ Bradford Exchange price tag. I recorded a ton of auditions, most of them vocally stressful, and then typed out Wally’s Week. I pulled 10 more movies for my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley (who’s 93 and STILL in lockdown for her own safety) that I’ll deliver to her this week. I’ve been keeping her flush with movies during this crisis, and when she’s done with one set, I’ll drop off a new set. She’s now taken to writing down little reviews of each movie that she includes with the sack of movies she returns to me. They’re brief reviews like, “Weird, but good.” “Hard to understand, but good.” “GREAT!” “Very funny.” She’s great! I made some hot dogs on the grill and watched another “Mod Squad” episode before bed. I set up the Star Trek levitating piece in the Tranquility Zone where I intended for it to live. But the video on their website showed the main piece levitating and spinning. What they DON’T tell you is, is that you have to spin it by hand. And even then it only spins for a few minutes and stops. Given the cheap construction, the less than accurate representation of the spinning dynamic on their video, and the fact that by the end of the night IT BROKE (the magnet snapped out of its housing) I’m sending this back for a full refund. If this is indicative of the quality of their products, I most likely won’t be ordering anything else from Bradford Exchange!
Tuesday the 30th – FRESH FLEECE FROG LEGS! – After acquiring the appropriate length of chain from the local hardware store that I needed for my hammock, I dropped off the movies at Shirley’s place. This time, her residence opened the door so I could see her in person! Though we were both masked and about 10 feet away from each other, it was good to see her close-up and in the flesh! Could hugs be far away? Here’s hoping! I stopped by Jack in the Box for lunch, and then headed to Shelley’s to pick up the freshly stitched frog legs and arms for my Robin replica. When I got home I immediately started stuffing the arms and legs with batting. The most recent Muppet replicas I’ve made were all “live hands” puppets (meaning their hands are like gloves you put your hands inside), but this was the first puppet with stuffed arms I’ve done in about 40 years. It was all coming back to me. I measured where I wanted the elbows and knees to be, placed a straight pin into the fabric at those points, and started stuffing. That way the lengths between the puppet’s forearms and upper arms would be consistent with each other; likewise with the thighs and calves on the legs. Once they were stuffed, I measured meticulously to get the perfect placement on the puppet. Once I did that, I pinned them into place. I also pinned on his hands, and the tops of his flippers. Once they get stitched on, I will attach the bottoms of his flippers to the tops with Barge glue. It’s something you have to do AFTER the flipper tops are attached to the legs, otherwise the stitches would go right through the bottom of the flipper. And gluing on the bottom of the flipper AFTER it’s stitched will hide those stitches. Something I remember from when I made frog puppets as a kid. Sara came over to do some work around Planet Wallywood, and then later I did a ton of auditions; a few of them actually were singing auditions that I had to learn songs for. Those are always more complex auditions, but these were a boatload of fun! It was another gorgeous, overcast night – which means we’re in store for another beautiful “blue morning.” I got my hammock set up just in time! I sense that as we move closer to July, our “June Gloom” days are becoming very limited. I fed and walked Roxy, and then took the garbage out. Next to my garage there’s a security light to make it easy to see in the common area. Next to that light a huge spider had built an elaborate web. Since it was next to a light, it attracted a fair amount of moths. I saw one that was flittering dangerously close to the web and I actually got nervous for him. But eventually he flew right into the web and got stuck. The spider moved light LIGHTNING and went to wrap up his prey. Poor little moth. But, a spider’s gotta eat. I went back inside and prepped for the first “Blue Morning” in my hammock. I got my Citronella candles lit and spent an hour and a half watching the translucent sky turn from dark blue, to lighter blue, to white. It was very nice! Before I turned in I checked the spider’s web, but both he and his victim were gone.
Wednesday the 1st – NATURE…NATURALLY! – My pal Scott Sebring stopped over for a bit to diagnose an issue I was having with my recording system that I use for Voice Over auditions. There was a clicking artifact that I was picking up in the files and I wanted to determine its origin. In addition to being my webmaster, Scott’s a certified audio tech so I wanted to get his opinion. Come to find out, in an effort to consolidate space in my workstation recently, I stacked some equipment together that should not be together. That was the cause. Silly me! Now, in an effort to keep those pieces of equipment separated, I’m going to need to do a bit of a redesign of my workstation. I put Roxy in the back of the Mustang and headed over to Shelley’s to drop off Robin for stitching. Then we drove to Barone’s to pick up a pizza to go. It was a beautiful night and Roxy really enjoyed getting out of the house! I decided to enjoy my dinner on the Tranquility Annex, but my feast was interrupted by a cute little visitor who was also very hungry. Less than a foot from my face, a neighborhood squirrel jumped up on my patio wall and stared me down. I knew that look. So I got him a small quantity of nuts and we dined together. It was cool having a surprise dinner guest! I finished up my pizza and went inside to do an audition. Later, I completely cleaned out my workstation, which had become cluttered with all sorts of photos, documents, DVDs, CDs, and ephemera. I separated the two conflicting pieces of equipment and ordered a new microphone cable that is shorter to consolidate space and clean things up a bit. Not only is it more technically efficient, it looks nicer now too. I may have my pal Kyle at Plastic Depot cut a piece of smoke Plexiglas with a hinge to put over the opening. I had to clean out a fair amount of cat hair from that area, denoting that Spook had probably been using that area as a nap space. I fed and walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood, dug out my old mosquito fan that I used to use while watching stars on the deck in my Palm Springs hotel room. I spent another peaceful, restful, tranquil “Blue Morning” on the Tranquility Annex. As the morning dawned, a few songbirds flew into the tree directly above my head and sat there serenading me. First a hungry squirrel, now a private concert from a red breasted songbird. It doesn’t get much better! I’m liking the increased exposure to nature…but NO MOSQUITOES, PLEASE!
Thursday the 2nd – X-RAY X-ASPERATION! – After a visit to my chiropractor (to address an on-going issue with my lower back which is causing some numbness in my left foot and left hand) I called the X-ray place again. But they said it was a 3 hour wait to get an image taken! Forget it! I drove over to Paty’s to have a salad on the patio, got my mail at my box, and then headed to CVS to get some photo enlargements taken for my autograph books (it was all part of cleaning out my workstation). As I waited for my enlargements to print I got engaged in a conversation with a cool guy named Robert, who was also a musician. It was a fun conversation, but I’m not sure I would recognize him again since we were both wearing masks! I got some groceries and then came home to put them away. I tried to relax in the hammock, but the kid next door kept screaming. VERY annoying! And not just little screams, these are ear-piercing, blood curdling screams. The kid’s parents must be hearing impaired because the entire neighborhood can hear these. My pal Brittney Powell came over to shoot some video of the rooms in my house that she wanted to use in an audition. But I have so many trademarked characters and images on display, I told her it wasn’t likely that they would ever get permission to use my house as a location. Later I did some work around the house and fed and walked Roxy. It had gotten very chilly out. When it’s overcast the temperature stays pretty warm, because I believe the cloud cover helps to trap the warmth. It certainly baffles the ambient sound and keeps things quiet and peaceful! But the skies were crystal clear tonight, which made things colder. Thinking of how chilly it was for July, made me think of chili – so I went inside and made some chili and a sandwich and watched another episode of “The Mod Squad” before bed. No “Blue Morning” for me today.
Friday the 3rd – HOMEBOUND! – Even though I had a bunch of errands I could have done, I decided to enjoy 4th of July eve at home. Besides, I got up too late to do most of them anyway. I watched the playback of the Visioncon interview I did, checked some e-mails, and then tuned in the fireworks display from my home state of South Dakota on C-Span. Slightly worried that blowing off fireworks in an environment surrounded by trees and the dry brush of the Black Hills near Mount Rushmore, I was relieved to see an interview with the head pyrotechnician explaining that modern-day fireworks and pyrotechnics have gotten a lot more advanced that those of the old days, or even consumer-grade fireworks. He said they burn a lot cooler with considerably less residue to come down on the landscape. I seriously doubt they would have done it at that location if they weren’t 150% certain there would be no fire danger. It was a beautiful presentation and I was proud of my home state. I spent a little hammock time on the Tranquility Annex, staring at the clear, starry skies, and listening to the locals blow off fireworks all around me. I went inside to do some work on a new project. I have hundreds of old film negatives from my days of shooting pictures with my 35mm camera. I separated them into two camps; South Dakota era photos, and Los Angeles era photos. I ordered a 17” wide digital light box (it looks like a large tablet, but with no computer innards) that I’ll use to inspect each negative and decide if I feel they’re worthy of scanning and digitizing. I plan on giving each negative a catalog number, input a description of the contents in a database for future reference, put them in fresh envelopes, and scan them if I deem it necessary. Then I’ll file them away downstairs in a cool, dark environment for safe keeping. I was looking for a good negative/slide scanner but they all seem rather cheap. Essentially, they’re little units with a digital camera inside that shoots the image against a lighted background. I have an Epson V500 in my garage that has slide and negative capability that I’ve used in the past, so perhaps I’ll drag that out and see if it will still talk to my computer. Any new flatbed scanners that do that kind of work are upwards of $600! That’s a heavy price to pay considering that my project will be finished and I’ll probably have no further use for it after that. I called Denny’s to get some food, but they never answered their phone. VERY frustrating when you’re trying to support your neighborhood eatery but they won’t answer the phone to take your money! So I made some lasagna and watched “The Mod Squad.”
Saturday the 4th – WEIRDEST 4TH OF JULY EVER! – As I expected, this was the strangest Independence Day in my entire life. Juxtaposed against memories of growing up in the Midwest, blowing off a quantity of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers, and attending the big professional shows with friends and family, this one was by far the worst ever. All the professional shows had been canceled by our fearless leaders, because of the virus thing. Undeterred, many Los Angeles residents put their OWN fireworks displays on privately, and the entire city was lit up! In a defiant flipping of the middle finger to the powers-that-be, the entire city of Los Angeles started popping around 6:30pm and didn’t stop until around 11pm. I didn’t mind the sounds (it was kind of comforting, actually) but if they’re going to buy private fireworks, at least drop the dollars for the good stuff, so we can all enjoy them. Understandably, the police, who are currently under threats of being defunded by the local leadership or having their budgets cut, didn’t seem very interested in following up on the illegal fireworks displays. And who can blame them? I wouldn’t be surprised if they just parked their patrol cars and enjoyed the show. Add to this the fact that the major TV and movie studio in our neighborhood used to do a HUGE display every year. But a few years back they stopped because of the cost. I walked around outside to try and get a glimpse of all the activity, but I saw nothing. I did a few auditions that were due on Sunday (trying to record bits between the booms and bangs outside), I fed and walked Roxy, and went through the text of my kid’s stories to add sound effects cues. Each of the stories that I’ve narrated will have sound effects mixed in to give potential publishers an idea of how they’d sound as a finished audible – or better yet, as a soundtrack for an animated short! I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad and watched an episode of “Space 1999.” I have to admit, the episodes are getting more watchable and interesting. But even still, they’re not without certain “cringe worthy” moments.
Sunday the 5th – REST, REST, AND THE REST WAS REST! – All day and evening were spent in a state of absolute rest and relaxation. But I really miss the weekends use to enjoy before the virus thing – movie nights on Saturday night at Planet Wallywood, followed by church on Sunday night, and dinner with my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley afterwards. Now weekends are just rather boring. I continued sorting out my negatives, called Denny’s to get some food to go (they actually answered the phone!) and sat on the Tranquility Annex just after midnight dining while looking directly into the face of a gorgeous full moon! I got a little hammock time in, and then went inside to wrap up the day…and the week.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
Well, it worked for a while, anyway.
My interesting dining guest on the Tranquility Annex!
Yup…this was one WEIRD 4th of July. Peaceful though.