RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Yeah, I stole this photo from a friend’s Instagram account, but it’s such a great captured moment I couldn’t resist.
Never in a million years would I ever have thought that I would someday buy a song from Harry Styles. But when I heard “As It Was” I fell in love with the obvious nod to 80’s pop music. And it’s a darn catchy song!
Monday the 8th – ONJ RIP – Mondays suck enough. But they suck even more when you hear the sad news that one of your all-time faves has passed away. I got the news that Olivia Newton-John succumbed to cancer after battling the disease for 30 years. I’m so glad our little group made the sojourn to Las Vegas back in 2016 to see her perform at the Flamingo. I’m even gladder our little group bought the backstage Meet-n-Greet package and got to spend some time chatting with this incredible person. When I say I’ve been a fan for a long time, I’m not joking. I still have the color, signed postcards I received after writing her many fan letters back in the early 70’s. Whether it’s actually her signature or not, who knows? I didn’t much care at the time, as I was just happy I got some sort of response to my drooling 13 year old fan letters. She was one-of-a-kind and it’s very sad the world no longer enjoys the advantage of having her on it. I recorded a quick audition and sent it to my agent, and then drove over to a local lighting place to submit my order for an “L” shaped track lighting system I needed for the Tranquility Zone. The way my Muppet replicas are displayed in my room, the track lighting configuration needed to be L-shaped, as I have puppets on the west wall and on the north wall. After I consulted with the lighting tech at the store, who was going to custom create the track for me, I headed over to In ‘N’ Out burger for lunch. There’s always a huge line in the drive-thru, so I parked and went inside to order instead. It’s rare that I eat there, but since there’s one close to the lighting place I took advantage. I took my food to my car to eat and listen to my iPod. I cranked up “Xanadu” and remembered how tickled ONJ was when she saw our “Xanadudes” t-shirts when we met her. But between bites I casually glanced across the street and noticed a restaurant I had never seen before…called…Olivia’s. Weird. I finished up my burger and fries and headed to CVS to pick up a prescription. While I was there I saw an old acquaintance of mine named April, who used to work at the gym which was one floor below Voice Trax West. Back in the days when I was going to Voice Trax on a regular basis, working on an ongoing project, I would see April often. She would always ask about getting into VO. It was good to catch up with her again, and she said she was getting ready to launch her new website to promote her VO career. I told April I had recently seen her with my friend Olivia D’Abo on Olivia’s Instagram account. Olivia and April have been friends for a long time. So April got Olivia on the phone and we had a fun three-way chat right there in the store on April’s phone. Olivia. Weird. Another Olivia reference. I hit the hardware store on the way home to get some supplies, and then I got home to do some work around the house and grab a short nap. Later I recorded my auditions (which included some more singing) and typed out Wally’s Week.
Tuesday the 9th – SUBWAY, SESSION & SKEETERS! – My dad was experiencing an interesting situation with a local motel there in the Midwest, and he needed my advice. Back in December of 2021 he made a reservation at a little motel in a small town in Iowa for an event this coming weekend. But since the time the reservation was made, his plans had changed and he no longer needed the reservation. But when he called to cancel, nobody was answering the motel’s phone, and he didn’t know any other way to cancel the reservation in a timely manner to avoid getting charged on his credit card. I got on-line and did some investigation, and the motel’s website looked like it had been designed by a 5 year old. Lots of dead links, a listing for a non-working fax number, and worst of all, no link to submit a cancellation. Real rinky dink stuff! I noticed on the map that the motel was across the street from a dental clinic. So I called the clinic and spoke with the receptionist to try and get more info about this mysterious motel. She didn’t know much about the motel either, so she was unable to give me anything other than the City Clerk’s phone number so I could investigate further with them. But when I called the first number she gave me it was the voicemail for the local police department. What? The second number she gave me just rang and rang with no answer. Honestly, it was like something out of “The Twilight Zone.” On my walk to my afternoon Voice-Over session I stopped at Subway to get a sandwich. I got to Studiopolis to do my four-hour session, but for some reason I was craving popcorn about halfway through! When I got home after the session I popped up a bag, fed the pets, and got caught up on everything. I took a short nap on the couch, but my dog Roxy was very restless so I didn’t get much rest. Later I recorded all my auditions and then walked Roxy under a gorgeous “almost” full moon for our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. After I brought her back inside, I grabbed a cold iced tea and my chair and headed out to Dead Tree Terrace, my new favorite relaxation and sky-watching spot in the neighborhood. But the moon was already on its way down and I had to deal with some nasty mosquitoes. It was still nice and warm out, even at 3 in the morning, but the next night I’m going to make sure to get out there earlier so I can try to watch the moon set. I went inside to do some work, make a salad, and watch a few more episodes of “The Muppet Show” from the fourth season before bed.
Wednesday the 10th – ROUTER RAGE! – In anticipation of a Thursday morning session in my home studio I attempted to do a test of my Source Connect program with the client. Source Connect is a subscription-based program I have (as do many other Voice Actors) that allows me to send the feed from my home studio through the internet to a remote location; usually a studio who can record the tracks and edit them for the finished product. The sound quality is really good, and this program became all the rage for Voice Actors during the time that the world melted down from the Wu Flu. When studios were all closed down, this was a great alternative to still get voice tracks cut and make a living. The engineer for the session e-mailed me and said we could do the test a few minutes before the session on Thursday morning. But something told me to do the test right then and there. I e-mailed him back and requested that we do the test now. He agreed. I fired up Source Connect, as did he, but we couldn’t get through to each other for some reason. He said he kept getting a firewall. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I hadn’t done a session on my Source Connect in a long time, since the studios in town are back open and operating (almost) normally. I called my friend Andrew at Voice Trax West (he helped me set up my Source Connect initially) and asked him what he thought the problem might be. Come to find out, it was all because of the time my internet modem and router went out several months ago. Spectrum, my cable internet provider, brought out a brand new modem and router and got me back on-line. Because I had a new router installed, a “portal” needed to be opened up so it would allow Source Connect to send and receive audio. Easy enough, right? WRONG! Andrew did some investigating and found out that the only way we could open a portal in the Spectrum-issued router was through the Spectrum app. I don’t have any interest in getting a Spectrum app, nor will my dumb phone allow such a thing anyway. And I was shocked to find out that their app was the ONLY way to affect such a change! So Spectrum put all their eggs in their app basket. What a crappy business model, considering not everybody has or wants a “smart” phone. Andrew suggested I call Spectrum’s technical assistance and see if they can do it on their end. So after waiting about 15 minutes on hold I spoke with a nice guy who said they could do it from the central office. But I didn’t have some of the numbers he needed (internet stuff) so I told him I’d call Andrew to get that info, and call back. But obviously I wasn’t going to get the same tech on the line when I called back, so he gave me the specific info I’d need to relay to the next tech I spoke with. I got back on the phone with Andrew and we ascertained all of the pertinent info and numbers I would need to get this damned portal opened. (I had been at this for about an hour, at this point.) After waiting on hold for another 15 minutes I got another tech on the line. I gave him the info Andrew gave me, but it still wasn’t working. So, with the tech on my cell phone, I called Andrew on my landline so they could talk to each other via speakerphone. Come to find out, a few sets of numbers were still missing, and once we got those the tech set about doing what needed to be done. But now his tool was having trouble talking to my router. So I said, “Let me get this straight…the Spectrum tool can’t talk to the Spectrum-issued router you gave me?” He apologized that his tool didn’t seem to be working that well, and he was having difficulty getting through. He said he’d put me on hold and talk to one of the other Spectrum engineers. While I was on hold for 45 minutes Andrew told me that I could avoid all this by simply getting my own router at Best Buy and having full admin capabilities over it. I thought that sounded like a great idea. The Spectrum tech came back on and still wasn’t having any luck. I told him thanks, but I was going to throw the Spectrum-issued router in the junk heap and I’d be getting my own equipment. I also mentioned that he should admonish his company about too much over-reliance on an “app” that people may not want. He agreed, and bemoaned the fact that the app was the only way to achieve what we wanted to do. Three hours into this debacle I’m on my way to Best Buy to pick up a router. Boy am I glad we decided to do the test today, instead of a few minutes before the session tomorrow morning! When I got to the store I saw that routers cost anywhere from $69 to $600! Which kind to get?! I spoke with Andrew again and he suggested a certain one and I grabbed it. I got home, phoned Andrew and he helped me get it all installed and ready. I figured it was just plug and play, but noooooooo! There were all sorts of hoops to jump through in order to get it going. The company who made the router wanted me to join their “club” and put in all sorts of information. Can’t I just use the equipment I paid $200 for without all this extra nonsense? Ugh! But once it all got set up I phoned the engineer for the session, connected up, and everything sounded great! Whew! FINALLY! The entire ordeal cost me 4.5 hours of my life that I’ll never get back. At that point it was 7:30 at night, and I felt bad bothering the engineer so late in the evening. Exhausted, I grabbed a short nap. I got up later to record a ton of auditions, walk Roxy, and then spent some time on Dead Tree Terrace relaxing and watching the sky. I saw a bunch of shooting stars! But as the moon began to set behind the buildings in the distance along the western horizon, it began to cloud up, unfortunately. When I went back inside I realized I had been out on the terrace for TWO HOURS! Time really flew! I did some more prep for the Thursday morning session and hit the hay!
Thursday the 11th – LANCERS, LIGHTING, AND L-200! – The session in my home studio went very well, and it ran for about an hour and a half. We got some really funny stuff and the clients were ecstatic! I cleaned up quickly and drove to Lancers to have lunch with my pal Edi. I walked across the street to pick up some more L-200 for my living room. Since my dog Roxy is older and can’t make it up the stairs any more, she’s residing in my living room on a full-time basis. Because she’s elderly, and has the bladder of an elderly dog, I’ve covered my entire living room carpet with a soft, rubbery stuff called L-200. If there’s an accident, I simply wipe it up. One of the sheets of L-200 I had on the floor was getting fairly fatigued from months of use. That’s why I wanted to pick up a new sheet. I also grabbed a few supplies for a new puppet I’m making. Back in 2013 or so I had a professional puppet builder in New York make a Mahna Mahna puppet. At the time I was very impressed with it, but now that I’ve built about 10 puppets I’ve decided to try and improve on the design with my own build. The one I bought from the puppet builder is a bit off-model, and he’s too big. He’s not really in scale with the rest of the Muppet replicas I own. So, I’m going to try my hand at making one myself! I think I’ll be able to get much closer to the original puppet. It was a very hot day, but I stopped off to get some groceries on my way home, grabbed my packages at my box, and then headed home. I put the groceries away and then hit the road again to head to the lighting place to get my custom “L” shaped track lighting system for the Tranquility Zone. Because it was so hot out I just wanted to get back home and relax. So I grabbed the track light and sped home. But when I got home I quickly realized that I should have adhered to my dad’s oldest piece of advice to his only son, “You’ve got to double check EVERYBODY!” Sure enough, the track was wrong. It was exactly backwards. I had given the lighting tech a detailed drawing of what I needed, and apparently he didn’t even look at it. So now I need to take it back and have him do it right. Luckily he can use the same materials, he just needs to move a few connectors around to configure it the way I need it. Nobody pays attention anymore, it seems. After a short nap I got up to do my nightly auditions, and then I went to enjoy a big full moon in a gorgeous clear sky on Dead Tree Terrace. I saw four shooting stars! I came back inside and made a pot pie, watched two episodes of “The Muppet Show” from the fourth season, and then did some work creating the mouth plate for my new Mahna Mahna puppet!
Friday the 12th – YA JUST CAN’T GET GOOD HELP THESE DAYS! – My first stop was to the lighting place (again!) to explain to the lighting tech that the track system he made for me was backwards. He was giving me a lot of gibberish that I wasn’t understanding, and he was frustrating me considerably. I told him to just disassemble everything, and I would lay the pieces out how I needed them assembled. I even brought him another illustration to reassert how the finished product should look. After a considerable runaround, he disappeared to his workshop and came back with it corrected. Had he just paid attention to the drawing I provided initially this wouldn’t have been necessary. Had I double checked his work before I left the other day, this wouldn’t have been necessary. I promised myself to seek out a different lighting store for all future lighting needs. I was waiting for my new computer tech to give me a call to let me know when he’d be stopping by to look at my computer system’s back-up program. But I never got a call; I never heard from him. Not sure why computer guys are so flaky, but it’s starting to get to me. It’s not like I’m asking them to do it for free…I pay real money. It’s mind boggling. Given the day’s numerous frustrations, I did something that totally relaxes me upon returning home…I worked on a puppet. I did some more work on the mouth plate, put the leather binding on the seam, and added a tongue. Later I spent a great evening with my pal Joe enjoying some wonderful food and fun at the Smoke House. I got back home and added some finger loops to the top of the puppet’s mouth plate. I grabbed a quick nap, and then got up later to feed the pets. I put down the new sheet of L-200 and it’s really nice. It’s a lot thicker than the old stuff and feels much better. I made some spaghetti and watched two more episodes of “The Muppet Show” before bed.
Saturday the 13th – PUPPET UP! – My friend Sabrina arrived around 4, and my friends Mark and Connie arrived around 5 so we could all carpool over to El Compadre in Hollywood to grab a delicious meal before we went to see “Puppet Up!” at the Jim Henson Studios. It would be my fifth time seeing the show, and it’s always a great time. While we ate, three very talented musicians entertained the restaurant with great music. Two guitars and a stand-up bass added a lot of class to the evening. I was really glad to be able to hear live music again, but I was the only one who clapped after the musicians finished a number. Everyone else seemed oblivious. Odd. I tipped the guys 10 bucks in their tip jar, and my pal Mark snapped a picture of me with the band behind me. Soon after, the bass player came to our table and asked if I’d like to get a picture with them on stage. I jumped at the chance! He even let me hold his bass, which I pretended to play for the sake of the photo. But while I was on stage posing for the photo, the guitar players started playing “Happy Birthday” to one of the patrons. Instinctively, I just joined in on the singing with harmonies. The bass player looked up at me approvingly. I gave him back his bass and went back to the table to finish my meal. FUN STUFF! We were way ahead of schedule, so we decided to head over to the Henson Studios early. We got parked and headed into the studio and got our wristbands. We got VIP tickets, which meant we’d get to go on the tour again. Sabrina was very excited, and as she’s getting into puppets, I bought her one of the Henson Alternative souvenir puppets for her very own. We met up with our friends David and Kayla and hung around for a bit. We got our tour, and when we walked into Brian Henson’s office he noticed my custom-made Rowlf the Dog hat and commented on it. On the way out of his office we were all given souvenir wiener puppets that were signed by Brian. It’s all part of the VIP package. We found our seats for the show and enjoyed the first act. My friend Grant was one of the improv puppeteers and he was standout hilarious! During intermission Sabrina, David, Kayla and I took our wiener puppets to a quiet area on the Henson lot and shot some video for the puppet project we’ve been working on. They’ll make for some nice cutaways in the finished piece. Plus, the fact that we actually got to shoot something on the Henson lot adds to the excitement! We enjoyed the second act of the show, and then caught up with my friend Grant afterwards. We were all tired so Mark and Connie drove us back to Planet Wallywood. After a brief nap, I got up to do some work on the Mahna Mahna design. Later Sabrina and I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Saint Salads and watched an episode of “The Saint.” Since she’s young I doubted that she had ever seen Roger Moore before. But I suspected that when she did see him in action, she would be as smitten as everyone else. I wasn’t wrong. Shortly into the first part of the show she said, “He’s handsome!” She was a new Roger Moore convert! When that was over we were looking for something else to watch, so I brought up the slate of “Muppet Shows” from the fourth season. Virtually half of the guest stars from the fourth season are dead, so I wanted to find one with a guest that would be relevant to Sabrina’s age. We settled on the Lynda Carter episode and we were NOT disappointed. Hilarious!
Sunday the 14th – THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM! – Craving French fries, Sabrina and I headed to Bob’s Big Boy for dinner. On our way out I spotted someone with a Fozzie Bear shirt so we started talking. Come to find out they had just returned from the Sunday matinee of “Puppet Up!” Also, one of the people in their group was a puppeteer and puppet builder! We exchanged information and promised to get together to chat at a later date! There really ARE no coincidences in life! When we got back to Planet Wallywood I recorded Sabrina reading a few lines in the voice of “Sesame Street’s” Prairie Dawn. Again, it was for a few segments for the little puppet video we’re working on. Later that night I set up my camera, got out my Prairie Dawn puppet, and mimed to the lines she recorded. I put the video in my editing program, dubbed in Sabrina’s recorded lines, and completed the segments I needed for the finished video. Within the past few weeks we hit a snag and had a few setbacks in regards to completing this video in a timely manner. But hopefully those will work themselves out soon and we’ll get this wrapped up and delivered to the person for whom the video was intended. Sorry to sound so mysterious about the whole thing, but the video will be a special gift to a very deserving young person. I spent some time on Dead Tree Terrace relaxing, but it was so relaxing I literally fell asleep! I saw some more shooting stars and it was fabulous! I’m going to miss these warm summer nights on Dead Tree Terrace when fall and winter come calling.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
I’ve seen five shows, and I’m already ready for the sixth! Soon I hope!