February 27 – March 5
RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
The picture on the left was taken recently in South Dakota. The one on the right was taken in L.A. on the very same day. Is it any wonder I love living here so much?
After the terrific performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Ben McLain the other night at Shirley’s birthday party, the song has been stuck in my head. Here’s the original version from Frankie Valli.
Monday the 27th – JERRY’S JABBER-FEST! – Shortly after noon I arose from my crypt, got ready and took Roxy over the groomer’s for a MUCH-NEEDED bath! Then my assistant Sara and I headed to Jerry’s Famous Deli to meet with a guy named Sean Weller who had requested an interview for a paper he was writing. I had originally met Sean at the L.A. Comic Con (formerly Stan Lee’s Comikaze) back in October. He was standing in line to meet some Voice Actors from the “Arkham” games and have them sign his poster. I stopped by briefly to say hi to my Voice Over pals when Sean noticed me. He hadn’t expected to see me because I wasn’t on the list of signers. I was only there as a fan to buy collectibles and have fun. I was happy to sign his “Arkham” poster. A few months later I saw him again at the Laurel and Hardy “Sons of the Desert” fan club meeting. So when he asked me to do an interview about my Voice Over work, it was like chatting to an old pal. It was a fun lunch that went on for two hours. Boy can I blab! But we chatted for the right amount of time, because when we were done it was time to go pick up Roxy. I got home and did some random work around the house and relax. Later I did some writing, sent some e-mails and recorded my daily auditions to send to my agent via e-mail. My pal Brittney Powell stopped over, so she, my assistant Sara and I went to Little Toni’s to get some dinner. I got home and grabbed a short nap, and then got up to spend the rest of the night writing Wally’s Week. I took Roxy on our late night stroll through the neighborhood. Then I went back inside, heated up some left over Little Toni’s pizza and watched another episode of “Barnaby Jones” from the season 5 DVD set.
Tuesday the 28th – SHIRLEY 90! – Today my “adopted grandma” Shirley turned 90 years old! She was busy with family all day, but we had a huge surprise shindig planned for her later in the week. I got up at 1 and did some auditions, and then I went to my box to get some packages. I headed over to Party City to get some supplies for Shirley’s party on Friday. She thinks her party is on March 18th because her family had a difficult time booking the room at our church at an earlier date closer to her actual birthday. But little did she know, I was able to reserve the venue on the 3rd, so I conspired with her family to surprise her with the earlier date. While her daughter kept up the ruse that her party was later in March, we spread the super-secret word amongst her family and church friends that it was actually on March 3rd, and was a total surprise! She had no idea that her 84 year old sister was coming for the party, as were most of her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids! This would be amazing! I picked up a tank of helium, balloons, banners, streamers and other decorations. Then I headed home to feed the pets. I watched the President’s address on TV, and then my pal Natalie Duran came over for a bit. I grabbed a short nap, and got up later in the evening to do my nightly auditions. I worked on organizing some fabrics and patterns for a meeting with my seamstress Karyn on Tuesday. Then I fed and walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. I came back inside and hit the hay.
Wednesday the 1st – WORK-A-DAY WEDNESDAY! – My eyes snapped open at 10:30am, so I leapt from the bed and started the day. First I checked e-mails and found out about a few last-minute auditions. I recorded those and sent them in. Then I made a birthday phone call to a “Bleach” fan in character as Renji. Her mom had arranged it with me a few weeks ago, and it was fun surprising Emily on her 18th birthday. At first she was flabbergasted, and then she started to cry. That’s the thing I love most about what I do for a living; the impact a simple gesture can make on someone’s life. I hopped in the car and headed over to Karyn’s with more fabric for some future projects. I picked up my custom-made Froot Loops bowling shirt (from a great print I found at JoAnn’s) and my Hey Arnold fleece pajama pants (again, from a great print at JoAnn’s). I had a drive-thru lunch at Burger King and took my pills. But I don’t think the steroid and anti-biotic my doctor prescribed me are doing much good, because I still get painful sinus pressure on a daily basis now. I’m starting to think that the only option for relief is surgery, but I’ll find out more about that when I meet with my Ear, Nose and Throat doctor on March 7th. I got home and did a few more auditions. Then I hit the phone and called the California DMV; always a joy. I wanted to find out about trading in my Mustang’s current custom license plates for a set of those new black and yellow plates. My pal Officer Mark tells me it’s called “subplating” when you keep the same numbers but switch license plate design. I also found out about something called a YOM program, or Year of Manufacture. If you have a vintage car, like my ’74 Gran Torino, the state will allow you to buy a set of vintage license plates from the appropriate year. This is providing, of course, that the numbers are no longer registered in the DMV’s database; something known as being “DMV clear.” All kinds of craftsmen on-line will buy old discontinued plates and restore them to their original luster. You can’t reproduce plates, but you CAN restore them. I’ve been toying with getting a set of original “California Blues” for a while now, because I think it will complete the vintage look of the Torino. Back in the 70’s the plates had a 3 number and 3 letter combination. If I could find an available combination that really “spoke to me” I would snap them up immediately. But for now I’m still looking for those perfect plates. I put an ice pack on my face and laid down on the couch for a bit. Then I got up and worked around the house. I put fresh sheets on the bed, organized my chaotic linen closet, and did more prep for Shirley’s party. Pulling off a prank like this takes a lot of planning and thought, because one missed detail would mean the gag is blown, and the element of surprise is diminished. I made hot dogs and watched another episode of “Barnaby Jones” from the season 5 DVD set.
Thursday the 2nd – SPECTRUM STRIKES AGAIN! – My hotline rang around 1pm and woke me up. It was my agent Vinnie letting me know that I had another session that afternoon for an “Archer” promo. I headed downstairs to download the copy and make the arrangements for the studio, but my internet was out! I called the technicians but they had no clue what the cause of the outage was. But I kept calling back and calling back until I finally got somebody to admit that some other people in my neighborhood had called about their internet being out too. I was hoping it would all be worked out and back on in a few hours. I scanned some checks for a deposit, showered up, and biked over to the bank to make the deposit. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for a bike ride. I hadn’t been on my bike in a very long time and it felt great. I biked over to Voice Trax West for the session, got some Chinese food to go at Chin Chin, and then biked over to Domino’s Pizza to put the order in for 17 pizzas for the party on Friday. It was imperative that they arrive precisely at 7:30pm! We had a very tight schedule of events planned for Shirley’s party and I wanted to make sure we didn’t run behind. I biked back home, did some work and then met up with Edi for dinner. Her husband Elliot was in town for a dinner party for songwriters. So Edi, my assistant Sara and I went to Jerry’s Famous Deli to eat and chat. I came back home and napped a bit, and then got up to spend the rest of the night doing auditions. I made some of my famous summer sausage spaghetti and watched another episode of “Barnaby Jones.”
Friday the 3rd – PAR-TAY! – Today was the big party for Shirley, and I was hoping we’d get through the next few hours without somebody spoiling the surprise. Just after noon I got a hotline call from my animation agent Cathey telling me about a last-minute job for the show “Henry Danger” at 3:30. As luck would have it, the recording facility was just down the street from a grocery store I was planning on going to so I could stock up on supplies for the party that night! Awesome! First I stopped over to Domino’s to pay them for the pizzas they would be delivering that night, and then I headed over to my box to get my mail. I had a little time before the “Henry Danger” session, so I stopped by Weinerschnitzel to get a few chili dogs. The session was a blast and I voiced two characters; a “Breaking News” announcer, and an announcer for a cheesy TV commercial about lobster. When we finished I headed to the grocery store and stacked my cart full of snacks, drinks and other items we’d need for the party. Everything was perfectly on schedule! I drove home to pick up the decorations, and then headed back to the church to drop everything off. By the time I got there the volunteers I had enlisted were at the ready. We loaded in all the food and decorations, and while Sara got busy setting up the food tables, other folks got busy decorating and blowing up balloons. I needed to get home to clean up and go get Shirley so we could be back there by 7 to start the party. I got home and fed the pets, showered up, put Roxy in the car (so she could enjoy the party too) and went back to the church to check on the progress. By this time it was 6:15, and many of Shirley’s family members had started arriving. At 6:30 I excused myself to go get the birthday girl. And now for the elaborate ruse…Shirley loves to attend my Saturday night movie nights each week. But I told her that for this week only, we’d be doing it on Friday instead. I told her a friend of mine is doing a TV pilot about collectors, and he wanted to come shoot my movie night to put in the show. But since he wasn’t available on Saturday night to shoot it, I had to move movie night to Friday night to accommodate him and his crew. I told Shirley to wear a nice outfit because she was going to be on camera. This also explained why I was all dressed up when I came to get her. Normally I wear pajamas for movie night, so if I would have shown up in anything else, she would have suspected something was up. Normally my friend Amy picks up Shirley on the way to movie night, but I told her because it was moved to Friday Amy couldn’t make it due to prior commitments. Little did she know, Amy was at the church helping to decorate. In the invitations I sent out to Shirley’s family, I told them to park way in the back of the parking lot if Shirley would recognize their car easily. That way when we pull up in front of the church she wouldn’t be tipped off. All the way from Shirley’s house to the church I talked about how the shoot was going to go and what kind of footage they were hoping to get. (Remember, it was all phony!) Just in case she suspected something was up, I drove right past the church at first. If I had gone directly there she might have thought it was odd. As we passed the church to my house, she noticed that the social hall looked very busy. She said, “Something must be going on there tonight.” I told her it was a theater group that was putting on a play, and they were the very reason we couldn’t rent the social hall for her party. I pulled into my driveway, stopped and said, “Aw darn it! I forgot. I have to drop by the church to get a light that the film crew needs tonight.” I told her that the church’s tech guy Karl was helping out the theater group with their play, and he was going to loan me a light that I could use for the video shoot at my house. I told her the light was very big and heavy, and that I would need her help to carry a small bag of cables. I told her I was going to text my assistant Sara to have her tell the film crew I would be a little late. Actually, I was texting Sara to let her know we were on our way, and she should tell the party guests to be very quiet. I pulled a U turn and headed back to the church and parked right in front of the social hall. I was hoping she hadn’t gotten wise about what was really going on, but it would all be over in a just a few minutes. Shirley got out of the car to go upstairs with me so she could get the “bag of cables,” and I would get “the light that Karl was loaning me.” We opened the door and it was totally silent. A large red curtain hung in the foyer so she wouldn’t see the guest when she opened the door. I wanted her to pull the curtain back and drink in the visual. Shirley’s daughter and I decided it was best that we don’t all yell “SURPRISE” at her when she came in. So when she pulled back the curtain, everyone was standing and applauding. It was beautiful! She was totally taken aback! All she could do was stand there laughing in disbelief. We had balloons everywhere, everyone she loved was present, and we had a huge graphic up on the screen that said “HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY SHIRLEY!” I hired a 3 piece band to play American standards for about an hour while we snacked and enjoyed the party. Shirley made her rounds and greeted her guests. At 7:30 the pizzas arrived and everyone began eating. But I had another surprise cooked up. A few months ago when Shirley and I were at Miceli’s, an Italian restaurant that features singing waiters and waitresses, she noted that one particular singing waiter was “very handsome.” So I tracked him down and hired him to come sing a song for her. His name is Ben McLain and he’s really superbly talented and a great guy. He texted me that he was in the parking lot at 7:45, so I went outside to coordinate with him. At 8 I explained to the guests that I had one more surprise. I put a chair on the stage and had Shirley sit there at the ready. Then I told the guests the story of the “very handsome” waiter at Miceli’s, and he came in and started singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” It was hilarious! He was fabulous and it was the highlight of the evening. You have to see the video to believe it, but she was enjoying herself! Then Shirley’s daughter brought in the cake, we sang “Happy Birthday” (twice!) and she blew out the candles. Then we started popping the popcorn and we ran Shirley’s favorite movie “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.” What an excellent night! Shirley’s neighbors took her back home, and a few of us stayed behind to clean up. I got home, totally exhausted, and grabbed a much-needed nap. Later I got up to enjoy some lasagna and watch “Barnaby Jones.” What a great scheme we pulled off! And she was totally surprised!
Saturday the 4th – SATURDAY-OFF! – Since we just had a huge party the night before, I cancelled movie night for the evening. I really needed a night to decompress. So I had the whole day to myself. I met Sara for lunch at Paty’s around 3, and then headed to the cleaners to drop off a comforter. I went to CVS to pick up a prescription and was talking to my pharmacist “the lovely Christine” about all my sinus issues. A lady overheard us talking and she mentioned that she’s had sinus surgery a few times. She said the new procedure isn’t as bad as it used to be, so that made me feel better. I’ve embraced the fact that I’ll most likely need some sort of “roto-rooter” surgery to relive the constant pain and pressure I’ve been experiencing for the past 2 months. I was hoping after my sinus infection that it would all drain naturally on its own, but after 2 months I need to take more drastic measures. Only 3 more days until my appointment at the ENT and I’m hoping that, if I do end up needing surgery, it’s sooner rather than later. I decided to put an icepack on my face and sleep all evening. I got up around midnight and felt a little better. I edited some photos on the computer, did my auditions for Monday, and walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. I tried to enjoy a cigar on our walk, but it was so chilly out all I wanted to do was get back inside where it was warm. I made my traditional Saturday night Super Salad and watched the very first episode of “Hee Haw” on DVD. I used to love this show as a kid, and I have a few episodes on DVD. I’m going to make it my regular Saturday night pre-bedtime viewing for a while. If I decide I like the episodes I have, I may buy the entire 14 disc set on Amazon. I enjoyed watching the show, but I can see how a little “Hee Haw” would go a long way. I’m just surprised that they haven’t redone this show for a modern audience yet. With country music being the juggernaut that it is, I think it would be a natural for CMT.
Sunday the 5th – THREE STRIKES FOR SARA! – When I woke up at 2 Sara was just coming over to do some more scanning of my photo albums. While she did that I did a little work on the computer, and then got ready for evening church. I walked over with Roxy and we enjoyed the service. It was supposed to rain, but it was just cloudy and cold…no rain. Last week Pastor Louise asked that we e-mail her photos we took during the week that demonstrate how great life is. I sent her a ton of photos, and they showed the pictures in a slideshow during the service. It was fun seeing Roxy, Spook, my Gran Torino, even my friend Edi’s dog Bunny was on the big screen! Shirley was still flying high from her party and couldn’t stop talking about it. She and I walked to my house and met up with Sara who was just finishing scanning. We tried to figure out where to go to eat. Shirley mentioned Denny’s (which I love) but Sara always has horrible luck at Denny’s. They never get her orders right. I promised her it would be fine, so we headed to Denny’s. But sure enough, when Sara’s chicken skillet showed up, it was missing the chicken! We sent it back, but it took forever for it to return. They only had one cook and it was very busy. A guy next to us waited about 25 minutes for his bacon and eggs! When Sara’s skillet finally returned, it had the chicken in it, but was missing the spinach! On top of that, as she was eating it she discovered a small piece of plastic in her food. It was from label used on a food package. That was it. She was over it. I’m positive she’ll never go to Denny’s again as long as she lives. Denny’s is great for to-go orders, but their dine-in service has always been very lacking. I got home and met up with my pal Brittney Powell so we could do some work to prep for the new week. Then I grabbed a nap. I got up later to put laundry away, work on the computer, start writing Wally’s Week, and work on my database. My DVDs of “Love American Style” arrived, so I was busy inputting all of the episode names and guest stars into the database. I had forgotten how many great guest stars they had, and now I can’t wait to start watching this! Since I already had done my Monday morning auditions on Saturday night, I was free and clear for the evening. I made a Tombstone pizza and watched an episode of “Barnaby Jones” before bed. But on my final walk with Roxy before we turned in around 10am Monday morning, I noticed a cute mourning dove sitting on the roof just quietly observing Roxy and I. I spoke to it and it was really adorable. Its little eyes blinked and it cocked its head at me as I talked to it. I really hope the stupid hawk doesn’t come and attack this little thing. That would really suck.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
Here are some highlights from Shirley’s big surprise 90th birthday celebration!