April 9 – April 15



RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK

My pal Edi Lurie sent me this pic of her husband Elliot Lurie in a band that he was in after his tenure in Looking Glass. But she didn’t know the name of the group. Anyone? I’m waiting to hear back from Elliot to see if he remembers the name.

 Though it was difficult to hum this past week, this song by Gungor kept buzzing through my head. It’s called “Beautiful Things.”

Monday the 9th – IT’S A BUST! – Around 2pm I got to Voice Trax West to do a 3 hour voice session for American Airlines, but my voice was still not in good condition. (Recap: On March 3rd I started coming down with a tickle in my lungs. By that evening I started coughing very badly. I went to the doctor on March 5th and he said that it was due to allergies, not a cold or flu. He said much in the same way you can have an allergic reaction in your nose, and it fills with mucous to repel the invading allergens, the same thing can also happen in your lungs. But the coughing was stressing my vocal cords something fierce. By the time all of the mucous had left my lungs, and the coughing subsided, it was a week and a half later. And much damage had occurred to my vocal cords. But because of my busy work and appearance schedule I wasn’t able to give my voice the rest it needed to fully recover; exacerbating the vocal damage. Add to this that I went to work doing vocally stressful sessions when my voice wasn’t back at full strength yet.) So we had to call off the session and try again at our next scheduled session on Wednesday. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up some items, went to CVS to pick up some things, went to my box to get my mail, and then headed home. I was very depressed about my voice. But a few more days of rest and we’ll try it again. Because of numerous voice session, meetings and appearances I just couldn’t get several days of vocal rest in a row, which I needed desperately. I’m hoping I haven’t damaged it beyond repair. That’s a Voice Actor’s greatest fear. I tried to nap, but it was very hot out (near 100!). I got up later and typed out Wally’s Week, worked on my photo album project, and did my best not to sing or say anything. It’s why I listen to talk radio when I work like this. If I listened to music I’d be tempted to sing along. Not being able to sing, or have access to my complete vocal range has been the most depressing thing about this issue. In regards to my photo album project, I almost have South Dakota Radio completely finished. (Recap: All of my old photo albums from the 70’s and 80’s have decayed, but the photos are still in good condition. I pulled them all out, threw away the photo albums, and had the photos scanned into my computer. Now I’m organizing all the photos into proper categories; something I wasn’t really able to do back in the olden days when I was taking the photos. But in retrospect I can now combine all of the appropriate photos with their corresponding press clippings, etc. I’ve divided the old photos into two categories; South Dakota Performance, and South Dakota Personal. I’m almost done with the South Dakota Performance – all of the plays, shows, and appearances I did back in those days – and then I’ll move on to all of my personal photos – photos of vacations, friends, family, concerts, etc.) I made some stew, did a little more work on the photo albums, and then hit the hay. It’s still VERY hot out!

Tuesday the 10th – AN EASY DAY! – I got up around 1 and did a few auditions. The voice rest had helped a bit, but I’m still taking it easy. Because I discovered a week ago that Diet Pepsi had begun putting that poison known as Aspartame back in their drink (previously they had been using my preferred Splenda for a while), I Tweeted my displeasure. Pepsi had responded by letting me know that they still sell Splenda Diet Pepsi through internet retailers. I found some at Walmart on-line and ordered 4 cases. Did you know that Aspartame is made from the feces of genetically-altered ecoli? YUCK! No wonder it makes me feel weird when I drink it. NO THANK YOU! I spent the afternoon doing more photo album work, which is the perfect way to occupy my mind during my voice rest. I treated myself to a Chef Boyardee pizza, and I finished all the work on my South Dakota Performance photo albums. I ended up filling four photo albums with things like impressions, original characters, theatrical productions, pageants, radio, and puppets. I’m really proud of how they came out. After a little break, I’m going to start in on my South Dakota Personal albums. I predict I’ll probably get all those squeezed into two or three albums, as I don’t have anywhere near the amount of photos I had in the performance category. I napped for a bit, and then got up later to do a bunch of auditions. The voice is slowly getting better, but it seems to come and go.

Wednesday the 11th – MEANWHILE, MY TOOTH… – At 2 I was back at Voice Trax West to try another 3 hour session for American Airlines. We had “intended” to do a 3 hour session, that is. But even though my voice had improved enough to get a good portion of work accomplished, I just didn’t want to push it. It seems that as soon as it improves a bit, I overdo it and I’m back to square one. So we quit after 2 hours in the interest of being able to come back on Friday and work some more. The voice is a funny thing. I went to a luncheon at Jerry’s Famous Deli for a friend whose mom had just passed away. Earlier that day was her funeral, and since I was working I couldn’t attend that. But I did want to show my love and support by attending the luncheon afterwards and spend some time with my bereaved friend. I hopped in the Torino and went home to feed the pets. I got a call from my oral surgeon regarding the cyst above my #14 tooth which needs to be removed. But I’d like to keep the tooth, if at all possible, so we’ve been talking over different options. One thing she mentioned is an “apicoectomy,” which gives the doctor access through a small incision in the gum line to the root of the tooth. The root (or “apex” of the tooth) is then clipped off, and then it’s filled so it’s impervious to bacterial intrusion, and the cyst can then be removed. If the apex of the tooth has been compromised, so it allowed bacteria and infection into the facial cavity, the compromised area needs to be removed and plugged. She’s going to talk to the doctor to see if it is appropriate for my situation. If I can save the natural tooth, and avoid having to get an implant, I’m all for it. But it’s starting to cause a lot of pain (particularly with the recent hot weather, for some reason) This is all because of a botched root canal I got years ago from a dentist in Culver City that didn’t know what he was doing. Great. Later that evening I walked over to Floyd’s Barbershop to get a touch up on my color from my stylist Andie. I walked back home, napped on the couch for a while, and then got up later to do a few auditions. I fed the pets and walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. Then I drove over to Denny’s to get some food, I swapped out the Torino for my Mustang, and headed home to do some work around the house. I ate my Denny’s and watched Barnaby Jones. But because I’ve learned not to go to bed immediately after eating (another thing that can harm your vocal cords because of horizontal acid reflux) I set about doing some work on my South Dakota Personal photo albums. I started out by categorizing the photos and printing the captions I’ll include in the layout. But I’m running out of the 12” X 12” square cardstock pieces and the plastic page protectors, so I need to head back to Hobby Lobby and restock. Come to think of it, I need to pick up a few more photo albums too!

Thursday the 12th – WALLY’S WINDY AT WENDY’S AND WALMART! – It was a super windy day! Almost to the point of being prohibitive! It was very difficult to get around; as I’m sure the wind velocity was at record-setting levels. My first stop of the day was to go to my seamstress Shelley’s place to pick up my Batman Hawaiian bowling shirt. I had bought one of those nifty Batman Hawaiian shirts at Kohl’s, but had her alter it to my preferred bowling shirt style. I wanted to get it in time for the Monsterpalooza convention this weekend. I drove over to Foam Mart to look around (it’s always fun and it sparks all sorts of puppet-making ideas!), and then I went to Toys ‘R’ Us to see if they had any going-out-of-business specials. I really want to get over there someday to pick up their remaining stock of the talking Batman toys I did, but I want to wait until it hits 50% off. So far they’re only at 10% off, so I’ll wait. I went over to Hobby Lobby to pick up more photo album supplies, and then it was off to Wendy’s for lunch. I hit Walmart and found some great items, including several cases of Aspartame-Free Diet Pepsi that they still had in stock. I regretted not buying all they had left. But these four cases, and the four cases I bought on-line, will suffice for a while. I got home and met up with my effects guy Jim Ojala. He brought over my newly created nose for the Rowlf puppet I’m working on. It looked amazing, and just like the real Rowlf’s nose! I put the stuff away that I had purchased earlier that day, and got a short nap. I got up later to do some more work on my photo albums, and prepped for the Monsterpalooza convention. I also took some of the two-part sculpting compound called Magic Sculpt and fastened two bolts into the back of the Rowlf nose. That way I can mount them to the finished puppet’s face, and attach them to the back with a thin plastic plate, some washers, nuts, and screw caps. I’ve really missed building puppets over all these years!

Friday the 13th – FRIDAY THE 13th FOR SURE! – Well, there was no doubt it was Friday the 13th. Everything that could go wrong, WAS going wrong. When I got up at noon I had several calls from the Hollywood Museum regarding the 1966 Batman exhibit, and I had a few fires to put out there. When I got to Voice Trax West to do a few hours for American Airlines it seemed like the “Friday the 13th gremlins” had entered the recording equipment. By the end of the two-hour session, my voice was starting to have problems again. I just needed a good week of complete voice rest to let it completely heal! But there are deadlines and things to get done. When I got home at 3 I started getting ready for Monsterpalooza. My friend Valerie Perez would be at my house at 4 so we could go to dinner and then the convention. But she texted to say that she had gotten delayed. So I did some work around the house until Valerie arrived. But it was well worth the wait. She had donned her “family friendly” Vampirella costume and she looked amazing! We drove over to Pasadena and parked. What an amazing time we had. I saw a lot of great friends, and had Nell Carter (“Little Nell”) sign my “Rocky Horror Picture Show” vintage one-sheet. I also ran into Mitch Pileggi, who is one of my sister Bonnie’s favorite actors. He’s also a really great guy! He was kind enough to meet us for lunch at Jerry’s Famous Deli several years ago when she was in town visiting, and she STILL talks about it! I picked up a few t-shirts that say “I ♥ MITCH PILEGGI” on them. He is deeply involved in a charity called No Kid Hungry, and the proceeds from the shirts went to that charity. Like I said, he’s a really good guy! We saw my old pal Ron Chaney, and continued to do some shopping. But since we didn’t have time to get dinner before the convention, we were starving. So we went across the street to PF Chang’s and had a delightful meal and conversation. We headed back to my area, I dropped her at her car, and then I headed inside. It was a very long day and I was BEAT! Plus, all the talking I had done at Monsterpalooza didn’t do my voice any favors!

Saturday the 14th – MONSTERS, MITCH, MOMS & MEMORIALS! – My assistant Sara came over at 11 and we headed down the road to Pasadena and day 2 of Monsterpalooza 2018. We had an absolute blast, and the museum they had was probably one of the best I had ever seen! I made a contribution to Mitch Pileggi’s charity No Kid Hungry and he called my sister Bonnie and surprised her. That was great fun! I bought a really cool Marty Feldman mask that one of the vendors had for sale. Sara and I stopped by the table of our friends at the Monster Party podcast and said hi. After a quick interview we were on our way. But we were getting hungry so we took off around 3 and headed to get something to eat. Then I headed off to get some groceries, including some flowers for my friend Bob’s mom. She was having her 100th birthday party later that day and I wanted to bring a small gift. I also got some food for movie night later. I got home, dropped off the groceries, changed clothes, and then went to pick up my “adopted grandma” Shirley for the party. It was great that Shirley (who’s 91) met Wanda (who turned 100 that day) because they had a lot in common. But we had to leave the dinner party a little early because that evening at movie night we were doing a memorial retrospective of our pal Chuck McCann’s work. Chuck passed away a week earlier and we wanted to get together and remember some of his finest work as a performer. But toward the end of movie night my voice was very VERY rough. All the talking at the convention, the party, and at movie night had done me in but good! After my guest left I took a nap on the couch. I got up later to feed the pets, and send an e-mail to my agent to cancel our sessions we had planned for the week so I could get a week’s worth of rest. It’s the only way I was going to get better. Then we can pick up where we left off the week after. Feeling a bit down about the enormity of the evening (missing my pal Chuck McCann and my voice issues) I continued sleeping on the couch until dawn.

Sunday the 15 th – AND THEN I SAID, “                         !” – Around 7:30 in the morning I woke up to the dawning sun beaming in through my front door. I had sacked out on the couch but good! But I had virtually no voice at all. The previous weeks’ worth of voice work had left me without the upper range of my vocal capacity. At least I still had my lower range. But now, my entire voice was gone; lower range, midrange, and upper range. Great. Taking the upcoming week off was a really good idea. So I did some (silent) work around the house, and headed back to bed. Once again I’m not going to evening church, because I really enjoy talking to everyone after the service. But chit-chat is a no-no, so it’s a no-go and strictly hush-hush from now on. When I got up in the early evening my voice was a bit better. I texted Sara and told her we’d be having a quiet dinner (REALLY quiet!) at Ernie’s Taco House. My lower register had returned somewhat, but my midrange and higher range was still broken. I was really bummed out. I was thinking about how much I was going to miss hanging out with my pal Chuck McCann, how much I missed being at church the past few weeks, and how much I missed wailing to Journey and ELO songs, and I was getting very sad. So I came home and started working on something that was going to make me happy…PUPPETS! Since I had slept virtually all day I wasn’t in the least bit tired. I decided I was going to make a template for eye and nose placement on my Rowlf the Dog puppet. I took some spare foam rubber and some of the fur that will go on to Rowlf’s face. I glued the pieces together and let them set for a bit. Then I took the two eye pieces and the nose piece and started mapping out the proper placement based on reference photos of the real Rowlf I had downloaded from the web. It took about 3 tries to get it right, but I had lots of foam and fur so I wanted to take the time and get it right. After recording the proper measurements, I took shots of the prototype and fed the pets. I walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. I came back inside and made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad (one night late) and watched a movie called “Muppet Guys Talking” that was produced by Frank Oz. It was delightful, but MUCH too short. I could listen to those five tell stories all day! But I HIGHLY recommend it! Then I hit the hay to prepare for my week of almost total silence!

And how was YOUR week??!!

PIX FROM THE WEEK

My pal “Hutch” waits patiently for me while I’m dining in Jerry’s Famous Deli.

After lunch it’s back in the car and on the road!

When I took 2 pictures of my “adopted grandma” Shirley with Wanda, the birthday girl celebrating 100 years, I noticed that their heads were slightly tilted in the same direction in one photo. I had my pal Scott Sebring make a little rockin’ mini-movie with appropriate music! It’s so silly, it makes me laugh hard!

Val and I yuck it up at the Monsterpalooza photo op banner.

A figure of Forrest J. Ackerman, creator of the Vampirella character, lurks behind his creation.

“Little Nell” Campbell poses for a photo after signing my “Rocky Horror” poster.

My old pal Matt Weinhold espouses more “monster” wisdom on his Monster Party podcast.

The legendary Ve Neill makes up some lucky guy as Beetlejuice. I don’t often get envious, but I SO wanted to be that guy in the chair! After having done Beetlejuice at Universal Studios for years, THAT would be the perfect punctuation to my stint as “The Ghost with the Most!”

When it comes to Beetlejuice impersonators, I’m not easily impressed. But this guy, whoever he was, was DARNED impressive!

An amazing “Exorcist” display had the audio playing from the movie. VERY creepy!

Even a day later, Uncle Forry was STILL leering at onlookers!

and speaking of Beetlejuice…this figure was REALLY cool!

This Morlock looked like it could reach out and grab you!

An awesome Michael Myers bust!

This is my buddy Chris’ Jaws head, pulled from the original 1975 molds! The little switch sitting next to it is the original air compressor switch used to move the shark’s mouth. My how technology has improved since then!

Sara had fun meeting a few of her heroes; Chewbacca (real) and Hannibal and Hitchcock (wax figures from Madame Tussaud’s).

This Michael Myers painting had me drooling, and considering writing a very large check!

Nothing like walking along and seeing a couple apes just casually chatting!

On our way out we saw this adorable little Golden Retriever puppy dressed as Jason from Friday the 13th. Killing with cuteness!

My prize Monsterpalooza purchase…a Marty Feldman mask! I think I’m going to have my pal Jim Ojala paint the eyes up a little more realistically, and I’ll add a black hood. Eye-gore is coming!

This Alien puppet was a real crowd-pleaser!

At first I worked out a nice eye and nose placement for Rowlf on a flat surface. Then I curved it to make sure it was still in alignment. Then I covered a Styrofoam sphere with the fabric, and drew out the template. I think I’m in good shape, and ready for the real puppet to be finished now.