February 4 – February 10



RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK

I’ve been seeing some buzz on Twitter about a new show called Doom Patrol. But one of the characters looks like he could be the offspring of two similar characters from years earlier in a movie called “Heartbeeps!”

 I was trying to explain a song called “Jungle” by Electric Light Orchestra to a friend of mine. I’ve loved this song since it came out many decades ago. Recently I started thinking about how cool it would be to see this song in animated form; particularly animated in the “Claymation” style similar to the show “Wallace and Gromit.” Listen to the words carefully and you’ll know what’s going on in the song. I love the ticking clock and alarm at the end, denoting that the activities described in the song were all a dream. In light of the fantastic dream I had this past week, it fits in with the theme of the week, I guess!

Monday the 4th – TO DISNEY, WITH LOVE! – Shortly after I woke up mid-afternoon, I got a wonderful surprise. A few days ago I had agreed to do an opening narration for my pal Rob’s 20th anniversary concert “To Disney, With Love” at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. I’ve known Rob since I was about 14 when I was growing up in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He was 5 years older than me, and was a youth leader at our church. We bonded over silent films, and in particular Laurel and Hardy. Already at the age of 19 Rob was becoming one of the best theater organists in the country. I would go over to his house and he would play silent films on his 16mm projector and accompany them on the organ in his basement. It was magical. We kept in touch over the years, and in the mid 90’s he moved from Phoenix to LA to help me out with a children’s TV project I was working on. And in 1999 he got a job at Disney’s El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, as they had just purchased one of the biggest theater organs in the world to include in their movie presentations. Rob played a 20 minute show before the screenings of films, and couldn’t have been happier. As a lifelong fan of Disney, and one of the most renowned theater organists in the world, it was a perfect fit. For his 20th anniversary concert, he was going to open the show with a brief slideshow which illustrated some of the highlights of his career. Initially I was going to record it and send it over to him via e-mail. But he called in the early afternoon to tell me that Disney had requested that I do the announcement LIVE! BONUS! That would simplify matters considerably. I was going to the show that night anyway, so I just needed to be there about an hour early and rehearse the slideshow a few times. I went over the script several times, made a few minor changes, so it would sound better coming off the tongue, and then did a few auditions. I got ready to go, picked up my “adopted grandma” Shirley and came back to my house. Then we met up with my pal Clay, and my buddy Brian stopped over to pick us all up. He was kind enough to drop us off at the theater and park the car. I checked in with the stage manager and we rehearsed the slideshow about 3 times. I was comfortable with the pace and the script, so I went to find the gang and get our seats. We also hooked up with my pals Mark and Connie. It was an amazing time, the slideshow narration went flawlessly, and the concert was fabulous. My pal Alex Zsolt, whom I had introduced to Rob many years ago, guested on the piano. Those two are fabulous together! I was so proud of both of them! We went over to Jerry’s Famous Deli to get some food, and then I came home to nap on the couch for a bit. I got up for nightly auditions, and then hit the hay. What a fantastic day!!

Tuesday the 5th – THEY EYES HAVE IT! – The day started with a chiropractor appointment, and then I sped over to my mailbox to get my mail. Then I went to my buddy Jim Ojala’s effects studio to pick up some eye pieces he made for me on his vacuform machine for my latest puppet project. But from the looks of them they were going to be too thin for my purposes. I needed them cast out of slightly thicker plastic, since there was going to be a little wire piece running through them for an eyeblink mechanism. But these would work for experimentation purposes. I went home to do some work, I watched the State of the Union address, and then I grabbed a nap. I got up later for a ton of auditions; four animation auditions and three commercial auditions! The animation auditions always take the most time, because I have to familiarize myself with the script for the scenes they gave me, create a character, and then work with it for a while before laying down the voice tracks. But it’s FUN! I typed out Wally’s Week, had some cereal, and then hit the hay.

Wednesday the 6th – WHERE IS MY NOCTURNAL LIFE?! The past few days I’ve found myself awake and operational during the daylight hours; very unlike me! Normally I’m a total nocturnalist, but certain obligations have been turning me into a “day person.” It felt weird. I got up at 11, scanned some checks, did some prep for the day, and then headed to the bank to make some deposits. I got some lunch at Taco Bell and headed to Bang Zoom studios to do another session for the on-going “digital assistant” job I’ve been doing for the past three plus years. We did a three hour sessions, and then I came back home and relaxed with a Domino’s pizza. I grabbed a nap, and then got up later to do a bunch of auditions.

Thursday the 7th – PRIMO PROMO! – Though I got up at 11 to be at a lunch meeting on the westside of LA by 1, there was a text message on my phone when I awoke telling me that my friend would have to postpone because his workload had increased last-minute. So, since I was up, I worked around the house all day and prepped some scripts for a demo session I’d be doing later at 4pm. I arrived at L.A. Studios just before my appointment time, and we went right into the studio to start work. One of my new Voice Over agents asked me to create a new Promo demo that he could start working for me with the networks. Promo includes those voices you hear on TV spots that say things like, “Tonight, on a very special episode…” and “Tomorrow at 8, 7 central.” I was the promo voice for the Pax TV network back in the early 2000s, but I got so busy with animation, videogames and commercials I hadn’t really had time to do much promo work in the recent years. But it’s something I’d really like to get back into. The director was a guy I’ve known for a long time; one of the best in the business – Jeff Howell. Since we had met a few weeks earlier to go over the scripts and prep them, we really didn’t need much time once we actually got in the studio. Preparation is everything I guess! After about 40 minutes of recording, he said he had everything he needed to make an amazing 90 second demo. Both Jeff and I were very happy with what we had done, and I can’t wait to hear the finished result! I got home to feed the pets, and then my friend Brittney Powell came over to go to dinner at Miceli’s. After a delicious lasagna dinner, I came home and napped for a bit. I got up later and worked a few hours on my nightly auditions, made some stew, and then watched a few more episodes of “The Addams Family” from the season 2 DVD set.

Friday the 8th – EXER-SIGHS! – My maids were expected anywhere between 1 and 3, so I got up at 12:55 to be awake to let them in. But when I awoke I had a message on my answering machine that, due to a scheduling snafu, they wouldn’t get over until 3:40. So, since I was up and had nothing to do for a few hours, I called my friend Edi to see if she wanted to meet for lunch at Panera. I put on my walking shoes and started walking to get some exercise and enjoy the beautiful, warm, sunny day. Over the past few weeks I’ve been considering at attempt at starting a jogging regimen again. At one point in my life I was jogging about 3 miles every other night. But I fell out for several reasons and never took it up again. But I used to love doing it. I walked briskly to Panera (which is about a mile away) and graduated into a slow jog. Everything was going well for a while, but then my darned left knee started hurting. So I slowed back down to a brisk walk. I’m not sure if my left knee is going to take very kindly to a jogging regimen, but I may try it again in a few days. Edi and I had a fun lunch on the patio and enjoyed the warm sun. Then I walked back home. By the time I got there the maids were waiting outside for me. Though I kept it to a brisk walk, and decided to wait on the jogging, it did feel good to get some exercise; about a 2 mile walk! The maids finished up and then I headed over to see my stylist Andie for a touch-up on my color. I went to my mailbox to get my packages, stopped by the cleaners to get my comforter, and then went home to grab a short nap. When I woke up at 2am I had just come out of one of the most amazing dreams I’d ever had! It’s much too complicated to get into here, but it involved three friends of mine who had passed away. It was very vivid, colorful, and memorable! I could feel their shoulders in my arms as I embraced them. I could feel the fur of a dog I was petting in the dream. It was SO real, that I didn’t want to go back to sleep for fear of losing the memory of it. I immediately went to my computer, turned on my microphone and narrated the dream to the best of my memory. I also sat down and typed it all out so I’d have a text version as well. I did NOT want to ever forget this dream…EVER! I phoned in a to-go order at Denny’s, went to pick it up, and it had just started to sprinkle. By the time I got home and got settled, it had started to rain more heavily. I got ready for bed and enjoyed my food while watching a few more “Addams Family” episodes.

Saturday the 9th – DY-NO-MITE! – Well, the third time’s the charm for the week, I guess. I had gotten up early to go to a meeting with my friend Pete, but he informed me that he had caught a whopper of a cold and couldn’t make our lunch meeting. So I once again found myself awake with the whole day ahead of me, with no place to go. I texted my pal Jim Ojala to see if the eye pieces he was molding for my Rowlf the Dog puppet were ready. He said they would be by 5pm. So I hopped in my car, picked up some Burger King for late lunch, and headed to his studio. I went back home, did some work, and then had movie night with my friends. We watched an old favorite of mine, “Napoleon Dynamite.” Those of us who had seen it before laughed ourselves silly, but the people who hadn’t seen it before sat there rather puzzled by its oddness. When I first saw it all those years ago, I didn’t get it either. But came to love it more as I continued to think about and watch it again. Now I find it to be one of the most quotable movies I know. After everyone left I napped on the couch, got up around 2 to feed and walk Roxy, and then I came back inside and laid back down on “The Most Comfortable Couch in the Universe.” I got up around 5 fully intending to make my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad and watch an episode of “SNL” from the season three DVD set, but as the morning dawned it was so quiet and peaceful I couldn’t resist sitting on the window seat in my “Tranquility Zone” on the third floor and watching the day begin. It was very meditative. My cat Spooky joined me in my bedroom and laid down on the bed. I made the mistake of lying down with him just to hang out and contemplate life, but I fell soundly asleep. I didn’t wake up again until close to noon!

Sunday the 10th – STRANGE, SLEEPY SUNDAY! – Since I was up at noon, and wasn’t really feeling tired any longer, I decided to make my Saturday Night Super Salad on Sunday afternoon, and watch “SNL.” Better late than never. The guest host was Christopher Lee, and the musical guest was Meat Loaf. It was an episode from 1978, and my buddy Bruce Kulick was playing guitar for Meat back in those days. It’s funny to watch him in the background with the band playing away. He must’ve only been about 23 years old, with a big old afro! It was a great episode. I napped for just a few hours, and then got up to get ready for evening church. Shirley had called me to tell me her ride couldn’t pick her up, so I hopped in the car and headed over to get her. We got to church late, but again, better late than never. After church we ate at Jerry’s Famous Deli. Shirley would be going on a train ride to San Luis Obispo Monday morning, so I wanted to make sure she had some energy bars to take with her in case she got hungry. We picked up a few, along with a few supplies for me, and I took her home. I agreed to drive her to the Burbank Amtrak station first thing Monday morning, so again I would find myself motoring around in the daylight hours. (This is becoming a habit!) I got home and napped a bit, got up for my nightly auditions, made a prototype of the eyeblink mechanism for the Oscar the Grouch puppet I was working on, and then slept for a few hours. I woke up at 6:45am Monday morning, and got ready to go pick up Shirley to take her to breakfast and then the train station.

And how was YOUR week??!!

PIX FROM THE WEEK

Back in the 70’s, Rob Richards was like my big brother. It’s been fun following his stellar career as probably the best theater organist in the world. And it was really amazing to be able to attend his 20th anniversary concert at the El Capitan Theater!

It’s truly amazing to watch a true master at work on the mighty Wurlitzer!

Alex Zsolt plays the amazing Dexibell piano.

Singer Bonnie Gordon brings Rob’s dog Baby on stage, as she and Rob perform “Baby of Mine” from Dumbo. It was painfully cute!

A confetti finale showered the theater with color!

Just a couple of old South Dakota boys, having fun in Hollywood!

Thanks to Mark Fullerton, here’s a highlight reel from the Rob Richards 20th anniversary concert

I threw together a rough prototype of the eyeblink mechanism for my Oscar the Grouch project.