RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
I got this great apron from my buddy Bruce Kulick and his wife Lisa, who are releasing their recipes for everything from pancakes to French toast! But Cookie Monster is still waiting for their delicious cookie recipes!
As I was driving around this past week a song I had almost totally forgotten about came up on my iPod. It’s by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel called “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me).” This is a great song. The background vocals are great, it’s well-written, and the guitar solos are fantastic!! The part I’m least impressed with, oddly enough, are the lead vocals. I would love to hear this song sung by a different singer. SIDEBAR: Steve Harley was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first choice to sing the Phantom role when he was working on “Phantom of the Opera,” which was going to be a rock opera. But since Phantom had already been done as a rock opera (Phantom of the Paradise) and done very well, he decided to go with a more traditional approach; especially after he heard Michael Crawford singing when he went to pick up his wife Sarah Brightman at her vocal lesson. Amazing!
Monday the 1st – D’ANTS WITH THE DEVIL! – Later in the afternoon I headed to my mailbox to pick up the new display case I bought for my dad’s 70 year old ukulele. I stopped by Paty’s to get a salad on the patio, and then headed home and worked on doing some editing for a video we’re doing with my Muppet replicas. It was a video I was asked to do a while back, but I wanted to make it special as it’s for a special family in the Midwest whose 9 year old is dealing with some serious health issues. We only need a few more shots and graphics to complete it. But it’s looking pretty good. The stuff that we shot over the weekend didn’t have location sound, so I’m redubbing all of the puppets’ voices in my home studio and putting the better audio on the video. I also decided that I needed an extra scene which utilizes a puppet we hadn’t used yet. He’s a cool looking “leather punk” with a faux leather biker jacket and a green Mohawk. It was much too late to call over another puppet performer, so I set my camera up on the tripod in the Chaney Room, put Kermit the Frog on my right hand, the Leather Punk on my left hand, and acted out the scene between the two. After the first take I got what I needed. I put it in my system, edited it, redid the voices, and cut it into the finished piece. I recorded my nightly auditions and took a short nap. But when I woke up later I noticed more ants in my kitchen! When Spook doesn’t finish all of his dinner, the reconnaissance ants send out the message, and soon I’m overwhelmed! I cleaned the whole area with a Swiffer, typed out Wally’s Week, made some barbecues and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk” while enjoying some of those retro 70’s taco flavored Doritos! I’m glad they’re back!
Tuesday the 2nd – CHEKOV IN THE CHECKOUT! – There’s a local lighting place that would be considered a “mom and pop” store that I like to visit from time to time. And since one of the track heads on the north lighting track in my living room has died (bad transformer) I decided to make the switch to LED. I wanted to see if the new LED track heads were compliant with the track I already had installed, or if I’d have to wire in a whole new track. Luckily, I bought six LED track heads that are beautiful (brushed nickel) but also completely compatible with the old halogen track heads! Plus, no transformer! They’re all direct line voltage! NICE! I can’t wait to try them out. For the first time in nearly a decade I hit the local In ‘N’ Out restaurant by the lighting place. I figured I hadn’t had one in a while, so I’d give it a try again. I’m not entirely sure why people get so addicted to these, because while they’re pretty good, they’re not GREAT. I prefer the burgers at Bob’s Big Boy much more. But hey…I was in the neighborhood so why not? I hit CVS to pick up a few things, print some photo prints of the sign for my dad’s ukulele display, and lo and behold there was Mr. Chekov from the original “Star Trek” series in the checkout with his cart! I said, “Hi Walter! Big fan!” He smiled and said hi! Cool. I got home and took a short nap. Later I placed my dad’s ukulele in the display case and it looked like it would display pretty nicely. I designed a little fact sign to display with it; what year he bought, where he got it, etc. I did a little work around the house, and I was dying to see how those new track heads worked. But digging out the tall ladder from the garage and bringing it upstairs was a huge pain in the neck. But I just couldn’t resist. I brought the ladder up, took all of the old halogen track heads out, set them aside, and put all six LED track heads in, locked them into place (it was a VERY tight fit!) and then hit the switch. I felt like Clark Griswold! Voila! The track heads looked magnificent! They were about 30% brighter than the old heads too, and best of all, NO HEAT! They run totally cool! I started thinking about other places in my house where I could replace the halogens with LEDs. But until the old halogens break down and stop working, I’m going to leave well enough alone for now. But boy are they nice! They lit up the whole area nicely! I worked around the house and planned for a “possible” session on Wednesday. I say “possible” only because I never received an official confirmation or studio location.
Wednesday the 3rd – CONFIRMATION SNAFU! – By the time I got up at noon I had an e-mail from a gal at the studio that had placed me on hold for a session, and it contained the paperwork for the session that day. What session? I never received confirmation. So I wrote back and said I didn’t get a studio location or confirmation. Soon the Casting Director called me on the phone (we’re old friends) and said he thought placing the date “on hold” was good enough for a confirmation. Until I reminded him that he never even gave me a studio location. So instead of recording 2 to 6, I asked him if I could get over to the studio by 3 and do 3 hours instead of 4. He said that would help immensely, and to go ahead and confirm the other dates he wanted me to hold initially. I told him we’re confirmed, the studio location was locked in, and we were good to go. On the way to the studio I stopped at Subway to get a sandwich, and then went to the studio and ate quickly before we started the session. Afterwards I got home, worked around the house a bit, napped, and then got up later to do my nightly auditions. I was looking carefully at the lighting array with my new LED track heads and I wasn’t happy with how they were positioned. So I got the tall ladder back up from the garage and refocused the lights on the displays. MUCH better! Sometimes, you just gotta sleep on it! I immediately started designing a small track light system for the Tranquility Zone, but it would have to be in an “L” shape, and I’m not sure they can do that. I have some battery-operated lights up there now, but they eat batteries like crazy. In fact, I’ll hardly even use the lights, and the batteries will STILL drain! So those are going into the dumper very soon. But with this new “L” shaped system I’ll be able to illuminate my Muppet replicas like Kermit, Robin, Animal, Gleep, Beautiful Day and Prairie Dawn, who are in cases against my west wall, as well as Rowlf, Gonzo, Roosevelt Franklin, Mahna Mahna and Baby Java who are in cases against my north wall. Later I spray glued the photo prints of my dad’s uke sign onto foam core, made an awesome salad, and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk.” I didn’t have great expectations for this show early on, but it’s kind of grown on me a little bit.
Thursday the 4th – MOVIN’ MOVIN’ MOVIN’! – Now that I’ve decided to display my dad’s 70 year old ukulele in The Puppet Room, I have to move some stuff around to make it happen. When you don’t have one square inch of wall space left in your house (like what’s happening in Planet Wallywood) it takes some real creativity with time and space to accommodate new exhibits. In my Puppet Room, when the door is closed, I have a long, vintage Muppet poster on the left side of the door, and on the right side of the door is a Jay Leno animated cel from the old “Dilbert” cartoon, and a framed comic book cover and letter that I wrote my grandma when I was about 10. In the letter I was describing a comic I had just bought where Batman had to help Plastic Man. That letter was given to me after my grandma passed away, as she had kept it in her things all her life. I found a copy of the same comic on eBay and framed the cover with the letter in a two-aperture matte. It’s kind of a nice little family memento. So I moved the Leno cel downstairs and hung it right next to my “Tonight Show” cast photo in the living room. I hung the grandma letter in the Chaney bathroom, as I have a lot of framed correspondence in there that people can read while they’re…ahem…doing their business. I moved the long Muppet poster to the right side of the door (where the Leno cel and grandma letter used to be), and that cleared a space on the left side of the door for my dad’s uke. I moved some other things around (animation cels, signs, etc.) in order to clear some more space. A while back my pal Brian bought me a vintage, hand-printed card that was used in a silent movie. This was one of the title cards that explained the narrative of the story. It is a line that was spoken by one of the characters that says, “I’m on a happy errand of my own.” I had it in the Tranquility Zone but it wasn’t very prominently displayed. But now I’m having it rematted and reframed so it can go directly above the door leading to my garage. So yes, every time I got to the garage to go on a happy errand, I’ll see the original silent movie card above the door! Apparently these title cards would get thrown away after the movie was completed, but legend has it that Harry Houdini loved acquiring them to use them as dividers in his filing system. So the title card has a DOUBLY important provenance! I drove to Carl’s Jr. to get some chicken strips and then drove to Michel’s crafts to put the title card in for rematting and reframing. I was looking for some contact paper to put on the wall behind the clear acrylic case that would hold my dad’s uke, because the wall itself is in pretty rough shape. After 22 years of living in Planet Wallywood there are nail holes, paint chips, etc. where I’ve had many photos and pieces of artwork hanging throughout the years. I didn’t think the shabby wall made for a very attractive background. But when I got home I dug through my garage, found a box marked ART PAPER and found a brand new roll of black contact paper! Bingo! I laid the acrylic case on the contact paper, traced it out and even put on marks where the screws would go to hold the case on to the wall. I got my little punch out and punched the screw holes out of the contact paper. Then I held the case up against the wall to mark where the screws would go. It was no easy task, as the case is rather heavy. But I used my body weight to hold it against the wall while I made my marks. Then I got my level out to make sure the case would be level based on those markings. All was good! I remember what my old pal and contractor Terry used to say (may he rest in peace), “Measure twice, cut once.” Or in this case…DRILL once! I wanted to make sure all the drill holes in the wall would match the holes in the display case perfectly. I drilled each hole carefully, and then attempted to insert the plastic wall anchor. Too small. So I pulled out the next biggest drill bit. Still too small. Then another, then another, then another, and finally I found the right one. The wall anchors went into the wall holes perfectly and seated nicely. I lined up the contact paper backing with the holes and attached the paper to the wall. I smoothed it out nicely, and 3 of the holes I had punched in the paper fit perfectly over the wall holes. The fourth one was about 1/32” of an inch off. So I took my Xacto knife, widened the hole a bit, and flattened the paper against the wall. Now I was ready to mount the case! I got the screws and washers, screwed all four screws in and the case was solid! Then it was time to put the bracket in the case that would hold the neck of the ukulele. But the manufacturer gave me bolts, instead of screws, and the bracket ended up being a little wonky. But I found longer bolts in my drawer and used those instead. They’re still a little wiggly, but they should work nicely in the long run. I cut the sign out of the foam core, put a little 1 inch spacer on the back, and mounted it to the inside back wall of the case. I put my dad’s original ukulele instruction book on the bottom and finished the display. It looked amazing! Then I took a few pictures to send to my dad. After all that, I really needed a nap! When I got up later I did my nightly auditions, went through my bank account statement to reconcile all my purchases, worked on my computer, and finished the night by doing some other work around the house. Whew! What a day!
Friday the 5th – PIZZA PIZZA…AND PRESCRIPTIONS! – The last time I spoke with my doctor on the phone for our telemedicine visit, he was unable to issue my prescription through the pharmacy’s on-line system. So he suggested that I come to his office and pick up a hand-written prescription and give that a try. The problem is, the pharmacy doesn’t ordinarily stock the medicine I use, so they have to special order it for me. But they don’t special order it until they get a prescription for it. But since the medication isn’t in stock, the store’s algorithm doesn’t allow my doctor to order the prescription, so it’s a bit of a catch 22. Since I had to drive into Burbank to go to my doctor’s office, I figured I’d drive over to Little Caesar’s and get some pizza and Crazy Bread. I drove to the medical complex and ate in my car while listening to some music. Then I went inside, grabbed the RX and was on my way. I stopped off to get my packages at my mailbox, and then I drove to CVS to drop off the RX. (No Mr. Checkov, though) I got some groceries at the store and then went home to meet up with my maids so they could clean Planet Wallywood. I worked on the computer for a bit, took a nap, and then did some work around the house later. On my walk through the complex with Roxy, I found a great location for skywatching. It’s in a darker area where I can sit and enjoy the stars and the sky. I had sat in that same area before, but on the street level. But right by that there are about a dozen stairs that take you to a little elevated area that has a few shrubs. There’s just enough room to put a chair there, and I can put my feet up on the rails and relax. It directly faces the western sky, and directly in my line of sight is an old, dead tree. It’s really rather picturesque! So I call that little area “Dead Tree Terrace.” I really like being elevated as I feel I’m that much closer to the sky! I’ll be going out there a lot more in the future, but I had gotten out too late that night. Morning was fast dawning. I finished my walk with Roxy, went inside to prep some hot dogs on the grill, and got ready to watch another episode of “The Incredible Hulk.” But when I turned on the DVD I realized I had seen the last episode of season 1. I had forgotten that season 1 of “The Incredible Hulk” was a short season as it was a mid-season replacement series. Rats. I thought and thought about what show I wanted to run instead. I didn’t really want to start another series, as it was Friday night, and Saturday night would be “Laurel and Hardy Theatre Night!” Maybe there was a one-off of some kind that I could watch just for that night. But then I had the realization that I have “The Muppet Show” season 4 and 5 on a flash drive and I haven’t seen them yet! So I made my hot dogs and watched the first two episodes with John Denver and Crystal Gayle from the fourth season. I love that show! I totally forgot I had those episodes, because I was saving to watch them on movie night. But since I haven’t had Saturday night movie night since the world melted down in early 2020, the episodes of “The Muppet Show” have just been sitting around on the flash drive.
Saturday the 6th – THE HARBINGER OF WINTER! – My pal Sabrina came over and we headed to GNC to get some vitamins, the cigar store so I could get a few nice cigars, and eventually to Ernie’s Taco House for dinner. It was so nice hearing live music at the restaurant again! We got back to Planet Wallywood and did some work. I had some complicated auditions to do on Sunday night so I did a little prep work on those. I took her outside and showed her Dead Tree Terrace and we sat out there just staring at the sky for about an hour. VERY peaceful and nice! And the weather at that time of night was perfect…around 76 degrees! And since it was the first Saturday of the month, we prepped for “Laurel and Hardy Theatre!” (The first Saturday of every month I watch a Laurel and Hardy film in Planet Wallywood.) Tonight’s movie was probably one of the funniest films of their later film career…”Blockheads!” Hilarious! So I made my usual Chef Boyardee pizza (light sauce and pepperoni on Sabrina’s half, extra sauce, pepperoni, summer sausage and sauerkraut on my half!) and got ready for the movie! As it got close to dawn, I looked out my bedroom window at the sky. Orion had returned! The Orion constellation is only visible to us here in Southern California in the fall/winter months because of the planet’s rotation and the times the sun is in the sky. But it was at that perfect time where Orion had just cleared the eastern horizon, and it was still dark enough out to see it. But in literally 30 minutes it would be too light to see it again. So we caught Orion in the sweet spot! You know what that means, right? Winter is coming!
Sunday the 7th – SUMMER…DON’T GO! – It was pretty hot out, but I like it that way. Sabrina and I headed to Paty’s in the late afternoon to eat lunch. Nobody was on the patio except us, but in the shade the heat isn’t really that bad. It was delightful! As the evening started to creep in, a nice cool breeze blew over the patio area. It was delightful! When we got back Sabrina took off, and I checked my e-mail to see that my pal Scott Sebring had sent a few clips that I needed for that Muppet video we’re doing for the little kid in South Dakota. I sat down with joy and cut them into the edit. I still have some pieces to get and edit in, but those should be coming this week and I can wrap it up and get it sent over. VERY exciting! I grabbed a short nap and then got up later to tackle the complicated auditions. One included some singing, and the others included some sound-alike voices. Afterwards I grabbed my comfy chair and headed to Dead Tree Terrace. But I caught myself falling asleep! It’s SO relaxing! I’ve got to make the most of it while the weather overnight is so perfect! It was peaceful, calm, and serene. I measured out the dimensions for the “L” shaped track light system in the Tranquility Zone and drew out my plans to show the owner of the lighting store. Based on the nice job I did installing that acrylic display case in the Puppet Room, my confidence is bolstered that I’ll have no problem mounting this new track light system in the Tranquility Zone!
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK