November 17 – November 24 (2008)

Monday the 17th – FINAL TRAVEL PREP – In anticipation of my upcoming South Dakota trip to see family, I went out to run errands. I needed a new travel system for my i-Pod so I could play tunes in my hotel room. I also needed to pick up food for Sassie and Spook so my housesitter would have plenty while I was away. I also picked up some delicious Hansen’s Diet soda, with no aspartame, and no caffeine. It’s great stuff. If you remember, my doctor said that my heart might quit having palpitations if I stopped drinking so much caffeine, and since I’ve been off all aspartame for a month or so now, this was the perfect solution. Even more perfect by the fact that they actually taste great! In the later afternoon I went to the Annex in Studio City to do some voice work on “Blue Dragon” with my buddy Jeff Nimoy directing. That night I started my preliminary packing. I figured if I did a little bit at a time, the packing process wouldn’t seem so crazy.

Tuesday the 18th – FINAL GORMITI! – It was the last episode of the first season of the “Gormiti” cartoon we’ve been working on for awhile. It’s been a lot of fun, but we did the voice tracks for episode 26. They’re already talking about doing another 26, so let’s hope it happens. For you Zim fans, it was the chance for me to work with my old Zim cast mate Melissa Fahn, who played Gaz on “Invader Zim.” It was a great time, and I can’t wait to start recording the voice tracks for the new season in early ’09. I got to play all 3 of my main “Gormiti” characters…the evil Magmion, Mr. Tripp (the kids’ dad) and Ike Pinkney, the lazy, surfer dude. After I finished my responsibilities at the studio I went over to Best Buy and picked up the DVD releases of Hellboy 2, Wall-E, Walk Hard, and some other items for my trip. Then I headed home to finish the packing process.

Wednesday the 19th – FINALLY READY TO FLY! – I hit the bank to deposit some money, and also withdraw some traveling cash for my trip. Then I went to It’s a Wrap to try and find a hooded sweatshirt, as I knew it was going to be cold in South Dakota. I needed something to layer under my leather coat and I found the perfect jacket! Then I went to Skylark Sound to work on the demo for the DC Universe game. It was unveiled this past summer at the San Diego Comic Con, but they needed a few additional lines recorded. Then I went to my chiropractor Dr. Dave for an adjustment. On the way home I stopped at a nail salon and got my nails painted black. While I was there I spied former Playboy Playmate and Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video gal Ola Ray. I wanted to tell her all about “Livin’ On a Prayer” but she was busy being pampered so I just left her alone. Then I went home and finished getting ready for my trip. My plane was leaving at midnight that night so time was of the essence. I had a few quick pieces of pizza and then headed out the door. I parked at Park One at LAX. I like to have my car at the airport so I can leave as soon as I get into town. Waiting on a ride or taking a cab or a bus isn’t really my thing. I got all checked in at the Northwest Airlines gate, and even got an exit row seat for the trip. There must not really be any recession, because not only was the freeway packed, but the flight to Minneapolis was completely full! At the airport, I recognized the familiar face of Dr. Jim Kakalios, author of ‘The Physics of Superheroes’ and fellow Convergence guest. He was heading back home to Minneapolis after a quick seminar in LA. Come to find out, we were sitting right next to each other on the plane too! Of all the wild things! We talked a lot, but then the flight attendant told him that he was able to upgrade to First Class so he went up to the front of the plane. It was great seeing Dr. Jim again! Though I watched a “Mission Impossible” episode on the flight, I slept most of the way to Minneapolis.

Thursday the 20th – COLD COLD COLD! – The plane landed safely at the Minneapolis airport at 6am, and when I entered the jet way to go into the terminal I felt a cold chill! It was freezing out! I grabbed my scarf and gloves out of my carry-on. The plane to Sioux Falls loaded up at 7 to take off, but it had to stop for about 20 minutes on the way out to be de-iced. I thought, sheesh! Only in the Midwest! We finally took off and though we were delayed a bit, the captain said we should still make our 8:30am arrival time in Sioux Falls. I dozed off. But I was awakened to the sound of the captain coming on again and telling us, ‘We regret to inform you that we need to turn back to Minneapolis. We have an issue with the airplane that we can’t resolve.’ Oh boy. I knew there had to be some problem. No flight ever goes smoothly for me it seems. So even though it seemed like we were halfway to Sioux Falls, we turned around and went back. LUCKILY there was another plane ready to go only one gate over from where we landed. So we waited for awhile in the terminal, climbed on that one, and tried it again. By the time we got to Sioux Falls it was about 10:30, two hours later than originally planned. I was really tired. AND HUNGRY! I only had one of those lame snack boxes on the flight from LA, and was waiting to have breakfast in Sioux Falls. So I didn’t have anything to eat in the Minneapolis airport. I got my rental car, drove to my hotel and checked in. But not without a stop through the Taco John’s drive thru window first. We don’t have Taco John’s in LA, so whenever I’m back in Sioux Falls I love having a taco burger and potato ole’s! I got to bed around 1;30 to take a nap and didn’t wake up until 5. I cleaned up and met my folks and my son Zac and his girlfriend Bailee for dinner. The wind was howling and it was down to about 3 degrees. It occurred to me that I had come back too late in the year. Normally I don’t go there from November to April, but I ran out of time in October and had to go see my family! After dinner I drove around to various stores and got supplies for the weekend.

Friday the 21st – WHAT’S THIS WHITE STUFF? – After the coldest day of the fall so far, I woke up in the morning, pulled the shades back and what did I see? SNOW! Covering everything. It snowed overnight blanketing the stark, gray Midwestern landscape with a fluffy white sheet. I sighed heavily, because I hate driving in snow. In fact, I still have nightmares about slipping and sliding away on a road and being unable to gain traction. Here we go. I met my dad for lunch at Godfather’s Pizza (another great Midwestern culinary institution I love) and then we went to surprise my grandma who was visiting some friends of hers at an assisted living center. She was really surprised. Then I went to the mall to see what was shaking. At one of the kiosks where they sold women’s beauty products originating from the Dead Sea in Israel, I met a delightful gal named Neta. She said she was originally from Nazareth, which blew me away! We talked for awhile and when I told her I did voices for cartoons she said the only cartoon she watches was “Family Guy.” I went into some of my voices from the show and she was blown away. So now we were both blown away, but for different reasons. You just never know who you’re going to meet do ya!? That night I had a great time meeting up with my old pals Scott and Bob, as well as my folks and Zac and Bailee. We met at Old Chicago and had some dinner. Then we went to see the new James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” at the theatre. It was good, but the editing on the action sequences are so fast, you can’t really tell what’s going on for the most part. I sensed that there were some really great stunts being performed, but I’ll be darned if I could see them!

Saturday the 22nd – MORE SIOUX FALLS STUFF – I met up with my high school sweetie Sondee and my high school buddy Steve for lunch at Applebee’s. We had a great time visiting. Then Sondee and I went to the mall to meet her daughter who was working there. Then I stopped by and visited with my grandma some more (she’s 96!) and my folks and I went to evening church at a place called “Celebrate!”. It’s a great church with cool rock music and a laid-back minister in a Hawaiian shirt. After that we met up for dinner at the Royal Fork (you guessed it, ANOTHER Midwest culinary institution) and a whole gang of us enjoyed a buffet dinner. Then Zac, Bailee and I drove around Sioux Falls wondering what we were going to do. We settled on a bar called Chammps, which thankfully had a non-smoking section. Then we went over to a bar called Shenanigans to sing karaoke. But as soon as I walked in the door I knew it wasn’t my scene. Too crowded and WAY too much smoke. I was starting to get a headache already. So we made a hasty getaway. After I took Zac and Bailee home I retired to my room with some popcorn, Diet Rite soda and some “Get Smart” TV episodes on DVD.

Sunday the 23rd – MORE FRIENDS AND FAMILY – I slept really late, and then got up and went to Gary’s Gun Shop to see about buying some additional clips for my Walther PPK pistol. I found three of them there (though I found out later they were 7 shot clips for the PPK-S. I only have the PPK, so I’m not sure they’ll work) and went on my way to my friend Scott’s place to see his collection of guns and Michael Myers masks. I drove to a place called Dell Rapids, just 12 miles north of Sioux Falls, and met my family at the Pizza Ranch for a buffet dinner. A few of my uncles were there, my nieces, nephews, cousins, sister Bonnie and husband Roger, and my new Uncle Bill. It was great to meet him. He’s a half brother of my mother’s whom she just recently discovered. He looked so much like my late grandpa it was startling! It was great meeting him and welcoming him to our family. Then I drove back to Sioux Falls and met up with my friend Andrea for another dinner. Though I ate light it was great to get a chance to chat with her for awhile. But then it was back to the room to start packing up for my journey home.

Monday the 24th – FINAL GOODBYES – I checked out of my room, drove to my folks’ to drop off some spare supplies I couldn’t fit in my luggage, and then they followed me out to the airport. I also met up with my son Zac there as well. Then I got on the plane and went to Minneapolis. I had a 3 hour layover there, so I settled in with some McDonald’s and some “Mission Impossible” TV episodes on my DVD player. It came time to load up for LA. The flight was pleasant and uneventful (except for some turbulence) and I got another couple of “Mission Impossible” and “Get Smart” episodes watched on DVD. TV episodes are perfect for air travel. Not too long, not too short. I got back to a balmy night in LA, got my luggage, got my car and headed back to see a couple of grateful animals waiting for me. It was a good trip and I’m glad I went.

And how was YOUR week??!!