Archive for February 5th, 2018

February 5 – February 11


Thanks to my pal Mark Fullerton for this great shot of the final resting place of my pal Barry Dennen.

 As I was dealing with voice issues this past week I was trying to sing a wide range of music to see which parts of my vocal cords weren’t functioning properly. I’m not sure why I started singing Mickey Gilley’s “The Song We Made Love To,” but it sure sounded good. I love good ol’ classic country! Especially when it’s being played on the AM band as I’m driving through the desert at night!

Monday the 5th – LIME TIME! – Bright and early at 8am, I sprang awake and started the day. I hit the road just before 9 so I could be at Lime Studios in Santa Monica to record a few new TV and radio commercials for Carvana. I voice a play-by-play sports announcer, so be watching for them soon! It was a long session and my co-hort Julian and I worked from 10 until almost 3. I drove to Jack in the Box to get some lunch to go, got my mail at my mailbox, then drove home to feed the pets and walk Roxy. Then I hit the couch hard for a nap. 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 two episodes from the third season Blu Ray set of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.”

Tuesday the 6th – COOKIE IS AS COOKIE DOES! – After having not gone to bed until mid-morning, I took the opportunity to sleep in until 3:30 in the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day for a walk, so I strolled over to CVS to submit a prescription, and ate at Panera next door. While I was there I ran into fellow VO Actor Alicyn Packard, who was accompanied by her husband and 2 year old son. Her cute little son was pointing at the bright pink heart-shaped Valentine’s cookies in the display case and saying, “Cookie. Cookie.” The kid knew what he wanted. I took my food outside and enjoyed watching dusk settle in over Los Angeles. Then I had a thought. I went back inside and bought one of those heart-shaped cookies. I put the package in my hands, and held my hands behind my back. I went to Alicyn’s table and said to her son, “If you can guess which hand it’s in, you can have it.” Not fully grasping the concept, he was at first shy, but then when coaxed by his dad he started laughing. Now you must realize that with both hands behind my back, I was going to put the cookie in whichever hand he guessed. They guessed my left hand, and sure enough there it was! He loved getting his very own Valentine cookie! I bid them all farewell and hit the boulevard for my walk home. Just then a guy and a little girl approached me. She was wearing her Brownie sash and boldly asked, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” In fact, I was just considering dashing into the grocery store to get something for a quick dessert, so this seemed like a grand option! I told her I’d be delighted, and quickly picked out a box of S’mores and Samoas! I detected a distinct cookie theme going on today! I stopped by Kit Kraft to look around, and then headed home. I put some stuff away in my garage, went inside to feed the pets, checked e-mails, and then grabbed a nap on the Most Comfortable Couch in the Universe. When I got up later I had a ton of auditions to do. Then I fed Roxy her dinner and took her on our late-night stroll through the complex. I made sloppy joes and started watching the next installment of old Johnny Carson “Tonight Shows” on DVD! I love these things!

Wednesday the 7th – DELICIOUS DENNY’S DINNER! – I checked e-mails and messages when I got up at 2, and then walked Roxy. I headed over to the offices of Disney TV animation for a call-back audition. (That’s when they liked your first “undirected” audition so much, they want to have you come in to their offices so they can direct the actor and work with them more specifically). I thought it went very well and it was a boatload of fun! Then I drove over to see my oral surgeon to get a CT scan to see how we’re going to handle the removal of my #14 molar, which has a cyst sitting right above it. We talked about the possibility of getting an implant once the tooth is removed. I drove home to feed the pets and put some laundry in. I napped on the couch until about midnight. Then I got up and saw that I had a message from my good pal Mark Evanier on my cell phone. I called him (he’s a late-nighter like me) to see what was up. He invited me to participate in a Wondercon panel coming up in March in Anaheim. It’s the usual Saturday Voice Actor’s panel that everyone love so much. I hadn’t done a panel in quite a while, so it’ll be a great honor to be involved again! Then I did my nightly auditions and fed and walked Roxy. I called Denny’s to place my usual order, but my pal Joemel answered and said they were closed. CLOSED?! Their cook wasn’t feeling well so he went home. With no cook, there’s no reason to stay open. So he sent the rest of the wait staff home. It was just him. But he said he would cook my usual order of chicken strip salad and buffalo chicken strips himself! What a guy! I drove over to Denny’s and it was totally empty and locked up. But Joemel unlocked the door for me and had my order ready! I felt like Elvis! I gave him a VERY good tip! I got home and did a little work, and then watched more Johnny Carson “Tonight Shows” on DVD. The airdate of one of the episodes of July 22, 1976. What’s so amazing about that date? When our family first visited California it was over the 4th of July weekend in 1976, and one of our visits was to the “Tonight Show” set that week! This episode was shot literally two weeks after we had visited the set! I still remember it. My dad snuck over and stood on Johnny’s star; the mark on the floor where he performed his monologues! It was great seeing the set just how I remembered it looking back on our vacation. It still floors me that I would end up working on “The Tonight Show” 34 years later!

Thursday the 8th – TOUGH TAXI TASK! – My contractor Electric Bob came over at noon to do a bunch of stuff around the house. First, he put up a new lighting fixture in the hallway. I’m not sure what the designers of these units were thinking putting a fixture in such a precarious place (near the top of a staircase) but there’s really no easy way to get to it if you need to replace a bulb or the fixture itself! So we had to remove a bunch of stuff hanging on my walls to get the ladder upstairs, so we could lean it up against the wall and reach the fixture. The item I had to remove was a large shadow box frame containing an original “Taxi” satin crew jacket from the 70’s. When I took it down I noticed that while the valleys of the fabric of the jacket were fine, the peaks were starting to fade somewhat. The skylight near where the jacket was hanging was starting to bleach the fabric! While I had it down I took it apart and measured the glass. I e-mailed my pal Kyle at Plastic Depot to see if he could cut a piece of UV resistant Plexiglas that I could put in the frame to protect it from losing more color. After the fixture got installed, Bob fixed my leaky bathroom faucet, and then fixed the track on one of my kitchen drawers. We still need to get into the wall of my master bathroom to see what’s causing a leak. Water is leaking into a portion of the wall next to my basin and turning the drywall into “wetwall.” We’ll tackle that job the next time he’s over. When Electric Bob finished I took my frame and headed to Plastic Depot. Kyle cut me a piece of UV resistant plexi on the spot and I was on my way. I dropped off a few bags of donated items at the local second-hand store, got some groceries, picked up my mail at my mailbox, and headed home to put away the groceries. I dropped the plexi into my frame right behind the glass (the glass was sealed into the frame and couldn’t be removed) and then took my staple gun and secured it in. Then I replaced the backing (containing the jacket) on the frame and sealed it up. Now to climb the ladder and put it back on the wall. But the frame is now even heavier than it was before, and it’s a bit cumbersome; especially when climbing a ladder! On my first try the wire on the back of the frame caught the top of the hook and pulled it out of the wall. So I had to grab the frame and climb back down the ladder. I went back up to rehammer the hook, and then grabbed the frame and headed back up. Whew! Luckily, this time the wire hooked into the hook portion, and it was hung perfectly. However, the top part of the ladder was now underneath the frame (it’s the way the spacing worked out given the height of the space I had to work in.) So I gently removed the ladder from underneath the frame, knowing that if I raised the frame even a half an inch, it would pop off the hook and come falling down! Very gingerly I took the ladder out, and it was perfect! Wow! I’m glad I’ve been working on improving my strength with weights (thanks Natalie!) because this went a lot better than it could have! It might not have been so easy otherwise. Between the balancing act I was doing on the ladder with the heavy frame, working in such cramped quarters, and lifting such a heavy frame up and down the ladder, I was rather proud of what I accomplished! Needless to say I was ready for a nap! After a few hours on the couch, I got up to do my nightly auditions and some more work around the house. I made some soup and a sandwich and watched another “Tonight Show” before bed.

Friday the 9th – FUN 40th! – When I woke up I made note of the fact that today marked the 40th anniversary of my first appearance as Elvis. 10 friends and I did a tribute to Elvis in our high school talent show in Aberdeen, South Dakota called “Remembering Elvis” on February 9, 1978. (Elvis had just passed away 6 months earlier) The reason I remember it, is the date was written on the cassette tape my mom made of the performance, and I’ve always remembered it. But 40 years to the day?! WOW! Where did the time go? I posted some pics on my social media and I heard from the guitar players Dan Steinwand and Darwin Wolf, and the bass player Louie Naber! What great memories! My pal Brittney Powell came over around noon to stay with my maid while I headed out for meetings. I picked up my buddy Rob Klein and we drove over to Calabasas to a place called Profiles in History. They’re an auction house that sells movie and TV memorabilia and collectibles, and both Rob and I are fairly regular customers. But today I’d be meeting my pal Bob Zmuda there. Bob was Andy Kaufman’s pal and writing partner, and after 40 years of keeping some of Andy’s old belongings in his house, Bob decided it was time for a purge. I told him I’d take him to Profiles so he could auction the stuff properly. It was great watching Bob unbox scads and scads of Andy’s personal belongings; many of which were for his Tony Clifton character! We even got to see Andy’s original Tony Clifton tuxedo jacket and his “Little Tony” marionette he used on his PBS special! Rob and I were there to assist him in unpacking the stuff and catalog the inventory. I myself will be bidding on several items, you can bet! But the best part of the afternoon was listening to Bob tell the stories behind the items! Wow was that a great time! It’s something Rob and I will never forget! I drove back to the neighborhood, dropped Rob off at his house, and then headed home. I checked e-mails, fed and walked Roxy and then grabbed a nap. When I got up later I opened up a box from my friend Meridel; who is the sister to the late great Yvonne Craig. She sent a few toys over for Roxy and Spooky. They loved them, and I shot some funny video of them playing with their new toys. I made a Chef Boyardee pizza and watched a few more “Tonight Shows” on DVD with Johnny Carson. One of the guests was my former boss Jay Leno!

Saturday the 10th – YOU SEE ‘EM/MUSEUM! – My friends Mark and Connie picked me up around 1:30 and we drove into Hollywood to hit the Hollywood Museum for the afternoon. My pal Bruce Kulick wanted to bring a friend over to see the Batman ’66 exhibit that I curated, and I wanted to be there to give them the personal tour. My pal Grigg was in town from Detroit, so he and his pal Mike joined us. Grigg has some items in the exhibit that he loaned, and he got to see how they were displayed. My pal Joey Torino also joined in on the fun. What a great afternoon! Rob Klein also stopped in for a few hours. Rob loaned the Bat Computer and a Robin belt for the exhibit. It was a great afternoon and the museum was enjoying an excellent crowd of people! Then our gang hit Mel’s for some lunch, and then Mark and Connie took me back home so I could get ready for movie night. We watched the animated “101 Dalmatians” and had a great time. Then I grabbed a short nap and got up later to work around the house. I did my auditions to have them out of the way for the weekend. I was having some voice problems; cracking and weakness. I figured it was from talking all day, but I was hoping it would improve soon. I’ve been having voice issues off and on since I had a “mini cold” back in early January. I’m starting to get concerned that it hasn’t come all the way back yet. I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad and watched a first season episode of “SNL” on DVD. It was a great episode, which included the original Bass-O-Matic sketch!

Sunday the 11th – LIFESTYLE CHANGE! – When I woke up at 4 in the afternoon I got cleaned up and headed to CVS to pick up a prescription for some cough medicines. Then I drove over to church. My “adopted grandma” Shirley was still absent due to a nagging cough she had. Normally I would walk over, but I had to cut out immediately after the service to meet my pal Grigg for dinner before he left to go back to Detroit. Grigg, his friend Mike and I had a great dinner, and then I headed home to grab a nap. But my voice was still “croaky” and as I was attempting to sing along with Roy Orbison on the radio I found that my upper range was not there. WHAT?! After my nap I got up and did a new conceptual sketch for an exhibit I was pitching to the Hollywood Museum. When I finished it I started Googling around to search how acid reflux can affect your vocal cords. Sure enough, I read a story about a British singer who lost her voice until she altered her lifestyle and the foods she ate. Of course I like to make dinner to enjoy before bed while watching some old TV shows; I call it “TV Time.” I routinely eat something like Buffalo Mac, spaghetti, pizza, chili, etc. – and then follow it up with a little dessert, some popcorn and then some pineapple. (I LOVE PINEAPPLE!) And I wash it all down with an ice cold Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle and some sort of non-aspartame diet soda. Come to find out, I was doing everything wrong! First off, you’re not supposed to eat before bed. You should finish your meal 3-4 hours before you go to sleep, otherwise your food doesn’t digest well and the stomach acid can wash up over your vocal cords as you sleep and burn them. Upon the advice of other Voice Actors, I had the head of my bed elevated many years ago. That gravity can work for you, instead of against you when it comes to acid reflux. But the list of items that are a no-no for vocal problems and acid reflux are all the things I love! Fizzy drinks, acidic fruits (pineapple, tomatoes!!), spicy foods – AAARGH! They may as well tell me that I can never pet my dog again! This is horrible news! So in the interest of regaining my vocal prowess and range I need to make this lifestyle change. I decided that for one week I’d test it out. I would eat 3 hours before I got to sleep and not drink anything but iced tea before bed. If my voice improves I may allow myself a few “cheat nights” here and there, but no more eating dinner every night in front of the TV before bed any more. But, it all makes sense to me. I fed and walked Roxy and did some more work on the conceptual sketch. I ate my dinner at my desk around 4am, knowing that I wouldn’t be in bed until 7am. I got cleaned up and then watched an episode of “The Tonight Show” with only a bottle of Pure Leaf iced tea, and it really sucked. It felt weird having TV Time without a tray of food in front of me! By the time I went to sleep my stomach was sour with hunger. I’ve got to figure out what are OK foods to eat before bed. Bananas maybe? Before I went to sleep I watched a little DirecTV and noticed that they changed their music channels from Sonic Tap to Music Choice. Great news! No longer will I have to endure that annoying James Brown “Funky Christmas” during my Christmas relaxation. And to make matters even better, Music Choice has Christmas music 365 days a year on channel 358! BONUS! One of the first songs I heard when I turned the channel on was a Christmas song by Vic Damone. Then while checking the internet before bed I found out that he had just died. Weird! Were my complaints about Sonic Tap finally heeded? Maybe I wasn’t the only one complaining!?

And how was YOUR week?!?!


Here are some fun videos of Roxy and Spooky playing with their new toys from Auntie Meridel. Thanks Auntie Meridel!!

Roxy’s new toy

Spook’s new toy

Another visit with the gang to the Hollywood Museum’s ’66 Batman exhibit!

It’s always fun seeing kids in their Batman shirts, but when Mom dresses up too it’s a bonus!

My buddy Bruce Kulick loved the exhibit!

Grigg couldn’t make it in from Detroit for the premiere party, but he enjoyed seeing the exhibit last weekend!

Joey Torino shows off his new custom Batgirl shirt. But wait…that’s not Yvonne Craig! It’s my assistant Sara Raftery!

And the crowds keep pouring into see the Batman ’66 exhibit!

At the doors of Disney Television Animation. It’s STILL a thrill!

Here are a few shots of the band and I doing our Elvis tribute 40 years ago this week!

Bob Zmuda gifts my pal Rob Klein with a stage-used Tony Clifton nose appliance! What a fun day!