Archive for December, 2014

December 29 – January 4



RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK

My folks sent me an e-mail with a bunch of beautiful nature photos contained within, and this one struck me. I’ve always loved lions and considered them stunningly beautiful. But the tone of this photo sent chills down my spine. Was this the last image the photographer had taken in his life? Before he was eaten by lions? WOW! For my collection I’ve renamed this photo…”Crap! I’m dead!”

While doing some work around the house recently I had my iPod playing with all sorts of random tunes to keep me entertained. “If You Want My Love” by Cheap Trick came on and it sounded exquisite! I love all the nods to The Beatles in this song!

Monday the 29th – CAR COMMERCIAL – DAY THREE ! – I really don’t know how these on-camera people do it!  If you remember from last week, I was hired on to read lines off-camera with some on-camera actors in a series of new car commercials.  They’ll animate a character to my voice and put the character in the spots to interact with the actors.  I got up at 7am and was out by 7:40am.  I was on the set at the Universal Studios New York Street backlot by 8am.  It was freezing cold and everyone was bundled up.  My call-time was 8, but some of the crew had call-times of 5:30am!  WOW!  I got some food at the craft services truck then went back to my trailer to enjoy my breakfast.  They knocked on my door at 8:40am and took me to the set, but they didn’t have need of me.  I just sat around watching them film, shivering.  I went back to my trailer to warm up.  I was there for a bit and caught a quick cat nap.  They knocked on my door again and escorted me to the set, but again they didn’t have need of me.  Then it was time for lunch. Tough morning, eh?  After lunch we set up the next shot and I was used for off-camera dialogue with the on-camera actors.  There were lots of Universal Studios trams coming through, each one of them full to the brim, and they were all taking photos of our set and crew.  I had been on that tour countless times, and I remember how thrilled I’d be (along with the rest of the tourists) when the crewmembers would wave back at us.  Now I was on the other side, and though I wasn’t in a position to have a clear eyeline to them, some of the background players were having fun standing there waving at every tram that came by. When I worked at Universal back in 1994-1998 I recall somebody saying that the theme park makes more money than renting the backlot out for film shoots.  Hard to believe, but I think it’s really true!  Our crew had to stop what we were doing several times to let the trams through, which showed me that the studio’s priority really is the theme park.  At one point there was literally a tram every 2 minutes.  And while the crew had traffic control set up to stop trams during a take, it was quite busy!   All of the holiday tourists were there for a good time!  One of the actors was a guy named Kirby who I remembered from the Titan Insurance commercials we filmed several years back.  For those commercials, I also sat off-camera and read lines with the actors. And once the commercials were edited together, I went in the studio and redubbed my lines cleanly. Here we were again, a few years later, doing essentially the same thing.  Funny how small this world is!  We had a good laugh about it.  Around 4pm they told me I was wrapped for the day so I started heading out.  But as I was heading to my car they came and got me for one more shot.  The sun was going down and it was getting cold again.  We finished our shot and I was on my way to my mailbox to pick up my packages.  I got home and checked e-mail and wrote Wally’s Week.  I spoke with a station in Minneapolis about doing some voice tracks for a new format they were launching.  They were looking for a new station image voice and I had done a few auditions for them last week.  I had some prep to do for Tuesday’s shoot, again on the Universal Studios lot.  It was going to be a VERY long day.  We had four days to shoot five commercials, and the commercials were VERY complex to shoot.  The animation crew had to set up a small surrogate for the actors to look at during the shoot.  Then it would be wiped out later when the character was animated over it.  The Phil Tippett Studios (who did the animation on “Ted”) are doing the animation and it’s a very precise process.  The rumor I heard was a wrap at 9pm Tuesday.  To make matters worse, we were shooting one of the two commercials outdoors and we were expecting rain!  I took a dip in the Jacuzzi, finished Wally’s Week, and then recorded some stuff for the station in Minneapolis.  I am the new voice of Go 96.3 FM in Minneapolis!  Check it out here and stream it on-line!  http://go963mn.com/

Tuesday the 30th – CAR COMMERCIAL – DAY FOUR! – This would be the longest day on the four day shoot. Our goal?  To shoot TWO national TV commercials in one day.  I was on the set by 7:30am, but luckily it wasn’t as cold as the day before.  Because we were expecting rain, the cloud cover was actually helping to keep the heat in the atmosphere.  I relaxed in my trailer with a bite to eat for a bit, and then they came and got me for my first shot of the day.  We worked hard on the first spot, and then broke for lunch.  I was at the back of the food line chatting with some of the crew members and telling funny stories, when the Production Manager came and pulled me out of line and took me to the front of the line. I felt bad moving ahead of the hard-working crew to get lunch, but it wasn’t my choice.  He said they needed me first-thing for the next shot after lunch, so he wanted me fed and ready to go.  Again, I sat just to the side of the camera and read lines with the on-camera actors. It helps them get their timing, plus the animators will have something to start animating to when they get back to their studios.  We were having a pretty good time with it!  But sometimes the actors would respond to my lines by looking at me off-camera, instead of looking at the little spindly surrogate sitting beside them.  Sometimes I would be within range to hear their lines easily and respond with my lines. But other times I would need headphones to monitor what the microphones were picking up, because I wasn’t able to hear what they were saying otherwise (especially if they were inside a car).  We were shooting right in “Clock Tower Square,” where “Back to the Future” was filmed.  Though the original facades burned down a few years back in the Universal fire, it was cool knowing that I was walking on hallowed ground.  As luck would have it, the rain started to fall just as we were finishing up the first spot.  The second spot was going to be filmed entirely indoors, so the magical Hill Valley spirit was definitely with us!  We started in on the second spot around 4pm, just as the sun was starting to set.  Perfect timing!  We moved in to one of the facades across from Clock Tower Square.  I always thought the facades were just that…false fronts.  But some of them actually can be set up for practical filming inside.  A set was already constructed and was waiting for us.  But the quarters were very cramped.  We had the main film crew, but we also had audio guys, tech guys, and of course the animation crew running back and forth. I tried to make myself scarce as much as possible to keep the quarters a little less cramped.  It went alright as long as we were filming on a set that had 3 walls, but when they moved the 4th wall in for the reverse shot, it got VERY cramped.  You had the camera and the First A.D. literally sitting on each other’s laps!  I was squished in to the left of the camera doing my lines. I would definitely have no problem hearing the actors now!  But it was great fun!  The new digital cameras don’t need a lot of lights to do their work, so instead of big, hot lights like in the old days…they just used available room light.  Amazing!  I was dismissed for a short while, so I went back to my trailer and grabbed a short nap.  They brought some dinner in for the crew to have a “working dinner,” which means you grab a plate of chicken, some rice and a tortilla, throw it down your neck quickly, and get back to the set to continue work.  Though my call-time was 7:30am, some of the crew had been there since 5am.  By the time all was said and done, I’m sure some of them were looking at a 24 hour day of near non-stop work!  What an amazing bunch of people!  They had originally said we would wrap around 9pm, but the new rumor was now 11pm!  We got the shots we needed and I was wrapped at 10pm.  Whew!  A long one!  Not at all the type of schedule I’m used to. But I had it relatively easy, compared to some of the other crew.  It was good to be home in my nice, warm house with my animals.  I watched some “Magnum, p.i.” from the Season Six DVD set and had some hot tomato soup and a sandwich.  I was tired. Except for the short cat naps in my trailer I was looking at a 22 hour day!  But I went to sleep with a smile on my face and a real sense of accomplishment.  I can’t wait to see the spots all cut together!  Oh yeah, the great Peter Farrelly signed my “Three Stooges” Blu Ray cover!

Wednesday the 31st – I GOT WOOD! – It was really nice to sleep until well after noon!  I got up to check e-mails, but not much was going on because we were technically still in the midst of a two-week holiday break.  I was going to take the Torino in to my car guy Bodie Stroud, so he could start work on the paint and body, but I figured I’d do it in the new year.  My assistant Sara came by and we went over to Anawalt lumber to get some rods cut so I could mount my Pinocchio marionette above my video cabinet.  I needed two rods that I could mount between my ceiling beams that would support the wood controller that contains all the puppet’s strings.  I already had a set of metal flanges, exactly like the things that support closet rods.  We had the rods cut and then we headed to Coral Café for the final meal of 2014.  I got back home and did some work around the house, but I was taking it easy.   After the intense schedule of the previous four days, I gave myself permission to lie around like a slug.  I napped until just after midnight, and then I got up to do some minor work around the house.  I made a huge salad and watched an episode of the old British “Avengers” series on DVD.  I felt good that I was starting the year out right with a salad!

Thursday the 1st – 2015 AT LAST! – I was glad to see 2014 go.  The ending of “The Tonight Show,” having pneumonia, and scratching up my Gran Torino were just a few of the things that happened in the year that I won’t remember with fondness.  But a few good things happened too. Like getting inducted into my high school’s Hall of Fame, and emceeing Larry Storch’s final stand-up comedy appearance at the Comedy Store!  I actually didn’t get to bed until 10am New Year’s morning.  But I got up at 3 to meet my pal Kathylynne for lunch/dinner at Barone’s.  She had never been there, but after hearing me rave about it for so long she was dying to give it a try!  After a sumptuous dinner we came back to my house and caught up on all the news that’s happened since I had seen her last.  When she left I brought the big ladder upstairs to start working on my living room project.  First, I adjusted the “Mannix-quin” that displayed the original sport jacket made for Mike Connors for the “Mannix” TV series.  Then I set about mounting the Pinocchio rods to support the 3 foot tall marionette above my video cabinet.  I had measured and measured and measured to make sure all the dimensions would be perfect.  As my contractor Terry says, “Measure twice, cut once.”  I had the formula worked out perfectly.  His controller needed to be 53.5” high exactly. So taking into consideration the girth of the rods and how they sat in the flanges, and how thick the puppet’s controller was, it was all an exact science.  Plus, the rods needed to be 7 3/8” apart exactly to fit perfectly between the strings on the controller.   But spending so much time kneeling on the hard top on my video cabinet was killing my knees.  But so far everything was going perfectly to plan.  I screwed two closed flanges into one beam, measured again, and screwed two open-top flanges in the other beam.  I put the rods up to see how they would fit and they were about 1/16” too long.  I took them downstairs and trimmed them with my handsaw.  They fit between the beams perfectly!  But my hands were starting to ache from hand screwing the screws into the overhead beams.  I wasn’t used to manual labor like this, but it was fun!  Especially since it was going perfectly to plan!  I had planned this in my mind for weeks, and my head was totally wrapped around it.  I gently threaded the rods under the puppet’s controller and through the strings, and mounted them snugly into the flanges.  He hung perfectly. His feet touched the top of the video cabinet as if he were standing there looking at me.  I raised one of the strings to make it look like he was taking a step, and I put a small spacer under his other foot to make it look like he was caught in mid-walk.  Then I mounted a small Jiminy Cricket by his foot to make it appear as if he was walking with Pinnochio.  Then I repositioned the other displays next to it.  Everything fit up there very well, albeit a bit snugly.  I made some hot chili and watched another episode of “Magnum, p.i.” before bed.

Friday the 2nd – FRIDAY FUN! – Just after noon I got up to meet my pal Pete, who was on a holiday hiatus from his producing job at “Hawaii Five-O.”  I hadn’t seen him in a while so it was fun hanging out.  First we stopped by Jersey Mike’s to get a sub sandwich. Then we stopped by Creature Features to pick up some monster magazines.  We headed over to Toys ‘R’ Us to check out the latest toys.  I picked up a few things I needed.  We stopped over at Hobby Lobby and got a few things there.  Then we went over to Gun World so I could pick up my new gun…the Taurus PT 92 AFS.  He dropped me back home and I started working on projects.  I fed Roxy and Spooky and took a nap on the couch.   When I got up later I did some more things around the house.  But the big things I had wanted to do around Planet Wallywood had to wait. I planned on doing them during the holiday break, but the four day shoot on the car commercial took me away from those.  I’ll get to them eventually I guess.  My garage is such a mess, it needs a good four or five days of cleaning and reorganization.  Since it was the new year, I paid some bills and prepped some checks for deposit.  I drove over to Denny’s to get some food, and then dropped the deposits in the night deposit box at my bank.  After being tailgated in my car a few weeks ago during one of my late-night Denny’s trip, I’m constantly on guard while driving at night now.  I got home and watched “Magnum, p.i.” and ate my dinner.  But Season Six isn’t very good. Some of the episodes are way out of their usual formula.  It’s by far the weakest season of the series so far.

Saturday the 3rd – HOLIDAYS ARE OVER FOR ANOTHER YEAR! – I took the remaining few days of the holiday break to get some errands accomplished.  I picked up some vitamins, got some packages at my mailbox, mailed my bills, got a few grocery items and hit Office Depot for some new supplies for the new year.  I got back home and cleaned up Planet Wallywood for our Saturday night movie night.  We were lucky enough to have a screener of “Big Hero 6,” a film I had seen at the El Capital Theatre in Hollywood. I couldn’t wait for my friends to see it, as I knew they would love it as much as I did.  Before everyone showed up I took a quick dip in the Jacuzzi.  Sara came over to set out the food and get movie night rolling.  When the film was done we watched some of the old “Midnight Special” on DVD. Great fun!  When my guests left I started working at my desk.  I printed up labels for envelopes so I could stash all my receipts and pay stubs from 2014 and store them in the garage.  I also stashed all corporate paperwork for the year 2014 so I could start fresh for 2015 with empty file folders.  My electrician “Electric Bob” needed to come by to do some work, but our schedules scarcely coincide.  He’s up early, and I’m not.  But we decided to meet halfway.  He would come by Sunday morning at 7am to do some work.  He would just be starting his day, and I would just be ending mine.  It worked out perfectly.  I made my salad and waited for him to finish up.  He finished around 9am and I hit the hay to watch “Avengers” and eat my salad. But I had a real hard time staying awake through it.  I had been up a very long time and once I hit the hay, I realized I had been going for about 20 hours straight.

Sunday the 4th – TH-TH-THAT’S ALL FOLKS! – By the time I finally went to bed to sleep it was around 11:30am!  I slept until 4:30 and then got up for evening church.  I walked Roxy over to church and met up with Kathylynne there.  We came back home, I stashed Roxy and then Kathylynne and I went to dinner with Sara at Paty’s.  I took an evening nap on the couch, and then got up to do an audition.  Yup, the holidays were over. Time to get back into the swing of things.  We are officially off to a new year!
And how was YOUR week??!!

PIX FROM THE WEEK

After spotting an Ant Man at a recent convention, and realizing the Ant Man was actually Ant Girl, I made a point of making one of my custom Ant Man caps for cosplayer Amy Chase. Enjoy the cap, Amy! Great costume!



Sara and I at our friend Bruce Kulick’s wedding about a year ago.


Pinocchio is home and comfortable in his new surroundings!


Spooky sits atop his perch observing all the craziness around Planet Wallywood.


The Taurus PT 92 AFS is mine! I love the purplish hue the polished chrome throws off!