RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
This past week social media has been all ablaze with lots of news. But when I saw this I laughed out loud…for a long time!
The impeccable musicianship of the group Toto always floored me. It’s almost as if they were TOO good to be a rock and roll band. But yet, they rocked pretty well too. One of their little-known songs was “Somewhere Tonight” that I first became familiar with when I worked as a DJ on 94.7 KTWV “The Wave” in Los Angeles. This song was a staple! It came up on my iPod this week as I was on the road, driving to Newbury Park for a shindig.
Monday the 18th – COMPUTER DAY! – Brian has been my computer tech for a long time. But since he moved to Denver it’s been a little difficult getting him to come in for a periodic cleaning and refresh. He was in town over the holidays and we had time scheduled, but I was very sick and didn’t want him to come over and catch it. But today was finally the day. He’s in town for a week and today was our day! He opened and completely cleaned out the CPU, and “blew the cobs out,” to use an antiquated Midwestern term. He installed my new curved monitor, my new illuminated keyboard, and he also installed a back-up system which will do a complete back-up of my pertinent documents once a week. Because of the nature of the new monitor, I decided I wanted to get new speakers to sit beneath them. The Altec-Lansing speakers I’ve had for 22 years are still great, but they’re very oddly shaped. Brian showed me a set that he likes and I ordered them on Amazon immediately. Brian also updated some programs in my system, and he tried to resurrect my old iPad, but he didn’t have much luck unfortunately. But the big surprise of the day was that Brian was able to grab several files from an old CD Rom that I’ve had for over 20 years. One of my first Voice Over jobs was providing the voice of Baby Kermit in a CD Rom adventure called “Muppet; Toyland Train.” When I did the job they gave me a copy, but I didn’t have a computer. By the time I got one the CD Rom tech had become outdated. Today, the tech is so old that my new system couldn’t read it anymore, but there were a few little song files on there that Brian could grab. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen myself as Baby Kermit! It was a very special moment! After Brian left I cleaned up the work area, and did a full reorganization of the various connector cables that hang on the side of my work desk. I also added another power strip to give myself some increased power options. I got a LOT of work done! The new back-up system is pretty noisy, as it sounds like coffee is percolating. It also makes some intermittent grinding noises, so having it on all the time is not going to work. I’m sure you’ll be able to hear it grinding away when I’m recording auditions. I even moved it down to the floor, but it still makes noises that are picked up on my microphone. I shut the back-up system down, and I’ll have Brian connect in remotely to reset the system to only perform a back-up once a week; preferably on a Sunday when I’m not recording anything. Once it was quiet again, I recorded a bunch of files for a regular client. I submitted the files and then spent the rest of the evening scanning checks for a deposit, and reconciling my bank statements. But my new monitor started blinking on and off, with a very static-y picture. I had already broken down all of the packaging that came with the monitor and put it in the trash. So I was dreading having to send it back to Amazon. But then I got an idea. Perhaps the HDMI cable I found in my downstairs storage was bad. I ran upstairs to grab another one (one that I travel with when I want to watch DVDs in my hotel room) and installed that. PERFECT! Luckily, it was just a bad cable. I made a few BBQs and watched another episode of “Ghost Story,” an old series from 1972 that deals with fictional paranormal stories. It only ran for one season, but is available on Blu Ray. I’m loving this show so far. The second episode (after the pilot) Guest Starred Jason Robards and Stella Stevens!!
Tuesday the 19th – STILL FINE TUNING! – It sounded like a fan in my computer is starting to go. It’s making odd noises. I phoned Brian and he knew exactly which one it was. He told me to go get a new one and he’d come over later in the week and install it. Even though I had a full day of other stuff planned, I revised those plans to get other things done. I went to the post office to mail off some autographed stuff, and got some packages at my box. I got two 12” X 12” books printed from Shutterfly of my first Christoween story “Frankie-fied!” It looks amazing. I’m keeping one for myself, and sending another one to my attorney Stephanie who did stellar work to set up the proper trademarks for our IP. I also got a package of stuff I need to sign for a Private Group Signing I agreed to. I also got a new swivel ball for my shower head assembly, but this one’s in metal. I hope it works! (See last week’s Wally’s Week about my broken shower head mount) I went to the bank to make my deposits, and there was only ONE person in line! This is MUCH better than a few months ago, when the lines were virtually out the door! Since the Best Buy I shop at is in a shopping complex that has a Wendy’s on the lot, I took advantage of the situation and got lunch at the drive thru. I also got a half dozen glazed cream-filled donuts at Krispy Kreme that also resides in the same complex. When I got into Best Buy I saw the very same speakers I ordered yesterday on Amazon. Having no idea when (if) they would arrive in the mail, I figured I’d hedge my bets and pick them up then and there. I can easily return them to Amazon when (if) they arrive. I say ‘if” because I’ve ordered electronic items from Amazon before that have never arrived (supply chain issues). So here they were, and I grabbed them! These speakers are more oblong and they will fit snugly underneath my monitor when laid on their side. I found the new fan that I needed, and I also bought a really sweet new HDMI cord. In the car I chatted with Dah Veed, who owns a store called Toyzilla in Alhambra, California. I’ll be doing an in-store signing there in a few weeks. I also chatted with my old pal Bob Japs who lives in Rochester, Minnesota. I’ve known him since fifth grade, and we used to always love to eat Lucky Charms (still do!). But with all of the news about Lucky Charms making people sick now, he and I both agreed that this is irrefutable confirmation that the world is ending! We both also love Cap’n Crunch, and he said, “If they mess with my Crunch, I’m burning this place down!” That made us laugh crazily like we were still in fifth grade. I went to CVS to get supplies, and then went home to feed the kids and do some work. I removed my old Altec-Lansing speakers and installed the new Bose speakers. But to my ear they sounded very muddy with no high or low ranges. My Altec-Lansings had separate tweeters and a woofer, and the sound quality was wonderful. The only reason I replaced them was due to their shape. But even though I tried to listen to the Bose for a while and get my ears used to them, I couldn’t take just listening to things purely in a mid-range audio scheme. I decided to remove the Bose speakers and re-install my Altec-Lansings. But since I had removed all of the cabling for the Altecs, it was a bit of a difficult task to re-install them. I had to use a length of armature wire and fish the wires up through a small hole in the bottom of my work desk. It was no easy task, but I got the speakers re-installed. So I’ll pack up these Bose speakers and return them to Best Buy. I reconfigured the placement of these speakers so they fit better into my system. It required that I build a small shelf out of ABS plastic and put it on the hand railing that sits at the right side of my desk. I rested for a bit, and then later I recorded my nightly auditions. I put the new metal swivel ball into my shower head mount assembly, but this ball is a tiny bit smaller than the plastic one that broke, and it flops around too much. There’s no tension in it at all. And you need the tension to hold the shower head handset in different positions in the mount. Since I’m tall, I need the mount to go back as far as it can on the swivel and stay put. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Maybe it needs an additional rubber washer in there to add friction and resistance. I packed up the Bose speakers to prep them for their return to Best Buy. Then I started looking for good MP3 players to buy. I just need a good player with two simple things. 1) drag and drop capability when connected to my computer, and 2) the ability to make playlists. As Apple begins to distance itself from the iPod platform, I’m going to wean myself off of my iPods and just get good old standard MP3 players. I hear SanDisk and Sony make good versions that bear closer inspection and investigation. Any good recommendations? This whole problem with an outdated iPad that is no longer useful for anything other than a paper weight has put me off of Apple products permanently. I walked Roxy, made some buffalo mac and watched another episode of “Ghost Story.” Whew! Busy day!
Wednesday the 20th – NO CALLS: GOOD AND BAD! – As I started my day I realized that my cell phone carrier was having serious problems completing my calls. Texts would go through, but calls would not. I texted a friend and he said that several other clients had told him that they were having Verizon issues as well. Luckily I didn’t have any important calls to make. But if I did, I could have always used my landline. Yup, I still have one. Why? For situations EXACTLY like this! Cell phone technology still can’t compete with the good old fashioned technology of land lines. The bad news was that I didn’t get any calls all day. The good news was that I didn’t get any calls all day. Meaning; the spam callers (which are increasing in number with each passing day) couldn’t get through to bother me. I never answer them, but they’re still a pain in the sacroiliac. I took Roxy on an extended afternoon walk. At her age (almost 14) it’s a rare occurrence, but she seemed up for it, and it was nice. Then I drove to the post office to mail some stuff, and then I went next door to Paty’s to enjoy a salad. I headed over to Rocket Sound in North Hollywood to record some more pick-up lines for a video game I’ve been working on intermittently for a few years. When I walked in the engineer said, “You’re going to have a very short day. You only have a few lines.” But somehow the session still ran for almost the full hour they had booked. Funny! The director kept throwing my lines for other characters to do while I was there. It’s one of the advantages of being a “utility player” and being able to do a lot of different voice characterizations. I got home to prep for two sessions the next day; one was for pick-ups for the foreign sitcom I’ve been working on since mid-March, and the other was for a video game session. I did my auditions, made some spaghetti and watched another episode of “Ghost Story.” I’m LOVING this show!
Thursday the 21st – RETURN TO MONKEY ISLAND! – Since I had two back-to-back sessions to do, I got up earlier than usual. These days I don’t prefer to do more than one session a day. With Roxy in her advanced age I like to have short work days so I can get home and walk her for frequent bathroom breaks. But the only availability in my schedule that I had for last-minute pick-ups for the foreign sitcom wouldn’t be until deep into next week, and they needed to get these recorded asap. So I agreed to a quick morning session before my afternoon video game session. I headed to Igloo in Burbank to do two hours on the foreign sitcom, hit McDonald’s for lunch on the way home, got home to walk Roxy, and then headed right back out to L.A. Studios to do lines on “Return to Monkey Island” as the crazy hermit Herman Toothrot. Now normally I’m not able to talk about the specifics of any project I’m working on until it’s released in the distant future. But the producers (Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman) happened to be on the line monitoring the session as we recorded. And by the time I got home they had already Tweeted out that I was in that day recording for the game. So I guess it’s not a secret, and it’s OK to publicize that I’m involved. It was a super fun two-hour session and we were all busting up like crazy; one of the most fun sessions I’ve had in a very long time! On the way home I noticed that the line at the car wash was very short so I pulled in. But they said the wait time was 45 minutes to an hour due to a labor shortage! So I pulled right back out again. I stopped by Enterprise to reserve my SUV for my upcoming birthday trip to Palm Springs, and then headed home to wait for my computer tech Brian. He was coming by to quickly install the new fan, reprogram my back-up system to once a week, and then go to dinner with friends. He got there and easily replaced one fan, but upon restart, another fan started grinding away. Uh-oh. That one will have to be replaced too, and it can’t wait until his next trip to town. So he sped off to the local Best Buy to pick one up while I called my A/V tech and postponed our scheduled appointment for later that evening. He was going to install my new region-free 3D Blu Ray player in the Tranquility Zone, but with the necessity of Brian staying later than expected, I wouldn’t be able to handle it. So we postponed it to May 2nd, and I focused on getting my computer healed and healthy. Brian returned, installed the second new fan, and said he was not available for dinner. I took that opportunity gladly and we headed out to Bob’s Big Boy. Brian’s the son of my late friend Terry, who was not only my contractor for many years, but one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. Sadly Terry passed away several years ago at a much-too-young of an age. It gave Brian and I a chance to relax, dine and chat a little bit about how much we both missed his dad. I got back home and enjoyed a nap in the Puppet Room. I went to sleep to the soothing sounds of my croaking frog out behind my house. But I woke up to the sounds of a hard rainstorm a few hours later. It was nice! I did some auditions, worked around the house to prep for the carpet cleaners (who would be arriving the next day to clean the carpet), walked Roxy, made a salad, and watched another “Ghost Story” before bed! I’m very sad there weren’t more seasons of this show!
Friday the 22nd – BEAR RIGHT, FROG LEFT! – I arose fairly early to wait for the carpet cleaners, but they didn’t arrive until an hour after the arrival window they promised me. It’s partially my fault though, because they were originally scheduled to clean next Thursday. I couldn’t wait until then, though, because the smell of Roxy’s age-related “accidents” was getting to me. So I was just happy that they could squeeze me in at all. They finished up just before 3, and I sped over to my church to meet some friends to plan a memorial service. As I had mentioned a while back, a good friend of mine had lost their 23 year old son earlier in the year. It’s been understandably very tough. It was complicated even further by the fact that they were unable to find a suitable location for his memorial service. But then they suggested looking into the availability of my church. I told them I would facilitate it gladly, and we all met to discuss the particulars. While they chatted with the event coordinator, I sat in the empty social hall (where I used to attend evening church for many, many years) and just quietly looked around and reflected. I hadn’t been in that facility for over two years, as the virus thing shut the service down. It still hasn’t been started up again, and most likely won’t be until a permanent head pastor is chosen. Because of the impact of the main reason we were there that day, and because of all my reflections of the “good days” when the service was rockin’ – I got very emotional. There were lots of good times had in that room. I tried to visibly keep my emotions in check for the sake of those who had lost their son, because they were staying very strong through it all, and I admired that. It’s got to be very, very tough. A last minute session for American Airlines came in, and we were lucky enough to get studio time at Voice Trax West later in the day to knock it out. When we finished the church meeting I headed home to get ready for the session and to meet my friends Scott and Vickie Sebring. They had arrived early, so I had them meet me at a restaurant called Chin Chin so we could get some dinner, while I slipped over to Voice Trax West next door to knock out my quick session. After dinner we came back to my house so Scott could try to work his magic and resurrect my iPad. A few years ago it just decided on its own to stop updated with my iTunes. One of the reasons I hate Apple products is their “planned obsolescence” directive. Some crappy company – intentionally planning for the products you pay good money for to someday not work any longer. I’m done. As hard as he tried, Scott just couldn’t get it to do what we wanted it to do. He also tried to find a suitable slideshow program for my Samsung tablet, but nothing he found was suitable for my needs. But we did find a few good options for MP3 players on Amazon. I made a note to look more deeply into the Sony Walkman 16GB MP3 player, as it seemed to do what I wanted it to do – at least according to the YouTube tutorial we saw. When I return the Bose speakers to Best Buy, I’m going to see if they have one in stock that I could buy. If I like it, I’ll most likely buy one for every room in my house. Just so each room can have their own individual source of music if needed. I was exhausted. I went to grab a nap in the Puppet Room, but as always happens after a rainstorm, my frog was no longer there croaking for me. He left. The rain washed him down stream so he could sing for somebody else. Bummer. I got up later to pre for a Zoom call I’d be doing the next day for a Private Group Signing, and I did some work around the house. I recorded the final Wally the Elf bits for the 2020 “Christmas Across the Lands” radio show and sent them over to the host/producer. As busy as I’ve been I’ve been a bit lax in getting those completed. My job was to stay awake until 6am to let my contractor Handy Don in to patch the hole in my kitchen ceiling. I have out-of-town guests coming Wednesday and I want to get all my displays moved back into my kitchen before they get here. My new blinds arrive early Tuesday morning, so the timing will work out perfectly. Tuesday evening I’ll move everything back in. Handy Don arrived bright and early, and worked for three hours patching the ceiling, and working on the shower head assembly. I had unearthed a complete shower head mount system from a drawer in the Puppet Room bathroom that I’ve had for years. Though a different color than my new shower head, it fit it PERFECTLY. And it’s made from durable PVC (not cheap plastic like the one the shower head company sent me) so it will last and last. Then, it was time to get a little sleep for another super busy day! Whew!
Saturday the 23rd – I’M ‘TIRED!’ – After just a few hours of sleep, I drove my Mustang over to the local Firestone to get three new tires installed. A while back, when I was swapping out my Gran Torino for my Mustang, I noticed that the left rear tire on my Mustang was low. Obviously it was a slow leak. When I took it to my Firestone guy he looked up the tires and found out that they were pretty old. In fact, they were outside of the time frame that would allow for a patch. He said he couldn’t patch a tire that old. So I had him put a new one on to get me going, with the promise that I’d return for the other three once my schedule allowed. Today was that day. He had even reserved those tires for me to make sure they would be there when I needed them! What a swell guy! I dropped the car off and walked home to prep for the Zoom call for the Private Group Signing. Many people had mailed in their Funko Pop boxes of my character Renji from “Bleach.” As a service to his customers, the facilitator of the signing requested that I sign them on-camera for authentication purposes. It was fun, and I’m expecting to do more of these in the future. While I waited for the call to come in that my car was finished I worked around the house and made some lunch. The Mustang got finished 45 minutes earlier than they promised originally, so I walked over to Firestone and grabbed my car. I headed home, showered up and drove it to Newbury Park to join my friends Officer Mark and Miss Connie to celebrate their recent elopement with their friends and co-workers. It was a lot of fun meeting his professional cohorts, telling stories, exchanging anecdotes, and taking pictures. It was a gorgeous night on the patio of a restaurant. I drove home to meet up with my friend Brittney, who had come over to sit with Roxy and Spook while I was gone. She took off and I decided to grab a nap and get my day off underway! Finally! A day off! And the way my schedule was looking, it would be the last day off I’d have until NEXT Sunday! So I was going to enjoy it! When I got up later I packed up all of the Funko pop boxes I had signed earlier in the day and got them ready to mail off. I did some work around the house, did some laundry, changed the sheets on my bed, walked Roxy, made my traditional Saturday Night Super Saint Salad, and watched a fabulous episode of “The Saint” before bed. AHHHHH – relaxation!
Sunday the 24th – NOISE, NOISE, NOISE! – As I walked Roxy out into the courtyard of my complex mid-afternoon, several of my neighbors had gathered around the little pool house that contains all of the machinery that services our area pool. A bearing was going out and it was torturously loud, grinding noises that had everyone going out of their minds. Add to that the screaming and yelling from some very inconsiderate people in the pool, and civil war was about to break out! Everyone seemed at a heightened emotional level. They said they had called our manager and asked that something be done about the pool house, but nothing had been rectified yet. Some of my neighbors’ bedrooms are right outside of this pool house, and lest they lose another night of sleep, I decided to call the manager myself and see what could be done immediately. I also asked the uncivil miscreants in the pool to please keep their screaming down, as several families around our area have young children and babies who were trying to nap. I always hate having to do that, but if people are going to be inconsiderate and unconscious enough about the incredible amount of noise they’re making in a living establishment, then they have to be reminded. I’d prefer to avoid confrontation at all costs, but sometimes it’s necessary. If the pool noise is out of hand I have the ability to come inside my house, turn up Van Halen to ear bleed levels and drown out the pool noise. But those families with babies don’t have the same advantage. And those parents don’t seem to want to get into any kind of potential confrontation with noisy pool users. People sometimes forget that these are houses first, and that the pools are here for mere recreational enhancement. It’s not like we decided to build a bunch of houses next to a noisy pool. A modicum of civility must be maintained at all times, but people sometimes forget and think it’s nothing more than a public pool where they can be boisterous and loud. This seems to happen at our complex every summer, but I’d be all in favor of doing an informational outreach at the start of the summer to make every homeowner aware of the noise levels. I did a little writing and work around the house, grabbed a quick nap, worked on Wally’s Week, ordered a Domino’s pizza, and continued to relax and prep for the new week. I walked Roxy, ate my leftover Domino’s pizza and watched “Ghost Story” before bed. It was a great day off, but WAY too short!
And how was YOUR week???!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
My computer guy Brian was able to extract 8 short music videos of me singing as Baby Kermit from an old CD Rom called Muppets: Toyland Train. Here’s one of them.