RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
As you’ve most likely read in this week’s Wally’s Week, my nostalgic noodle has taken me back to my early days on Main Street in Aberdeen, South Dakota. As I’m poking around on several Facebook pages dedicated to Aberdeen nostalgia, I stumbled across this photo of a parade celebrating the famous Fischer Quints. Though it’s a little bit before my time there, it’s an amazing photo, gorgeously restored by artist Kevin Kendall. This will give you a small glimpse into what my experiences on Main Street were like. Good times!
Just as soon as I got in the Gran Torino and connected my iPod to the car’s sound system, the random selection that came up was Steve Miller Band’s “The Stake” from the incredible “Book of Dreams” album. MAN that song sounded good as I cruised through town on a warm, sunny L.A. day!
Monday the 7th – MONDAY ZZZZZZ’S! – Since I didn’t get to bed until around noon, because I was up all night cataloging photos and working on technical stuff with my electronic tablets (see last week’s Wally’s Week), I ended up sleeping most of the day. When I awoke I worked on the computer for a bit, and started craving Taco Bell. I drove over to my local location and got some food at the drive-thru, brought it home, and started in on writing Wally’s Week. Later I did some auditions. This is the kind of day that makes me glad I’m my own boss.
Tuesday the 8th – THE HEAT IS ON! – They’re saying this entire week is going to be near 90 in L.A. – and that’s A-OK by me! I’ve been looking forward to getting back to summer weather, and this week I’ll get my wish. I did a few auditions, and then drove to get my mail at my box. What a gorgeous day! I got a salad at Paty’s and enjoyed it on the patio in the gorgeous weather. On the way home I treated myself to Baskin-Robbins (Very Berry Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in a two scoop sundae covered with caramel is always my go-to!). When I got home I did some more work around the house, did a ton more auditions, and did some work on the computer.
Wednesday the 9th – LONGER HAIR AND CREATURE GURGLES!!! – Before my afternoon session I drove to my mailbox to pick up an Amazon order. It was a big patch of faux fur I ordered for my upcoming Roosevelt Franklin replica Muppet. The black fur that I had wasn’t quite long enough for his “high” hair, so I bought this fur that had a pile that was an inch higher. This will work nicely, but I still need to design the “stacked” hairpiece he has, as the hair on the original Muppet is layered to maximize the height. I dropped by Jersey Mike’s to get a sub (my go-to is the #13 giant on white!). I got home to do a little prep work, and then went over to Studiopolis to do a four hour Voice Over session. As I walked into the parking lot I saw a guy waving at me. But since he was masked I couldn’t make out who it was. Come to find out it was the legendary Jamie Simone. He said that the usual Voice Director was on another project, and that I’d be working with him that day. BONUS! I hadn’t gotten to work with Jamie in about 10 years! A bit of history: I’ve known Jamie for most of my Voice Over career; almost 25 years! He cast me in all sorts of shows he was working on in the early days, and was responsible for casting me as Sideburn in “Transformers; Robots in Disguise,” Renji in “Bleach,” Wild Tiger in “Tiger and Bunny,” Cubot in “Sonic Boom,” and others. But I’ll never forget how he went to bat for me with the guys at Marvel and got me seen as Hank Pym/Ant-Man/Yellowjacket/Modok in “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” one of my favorite jobs ever! He’s a very, VERY good guy, and the prospect of spending the afternoon working with him on this project made my day! We had a blast and a lot of laughs as we crafted scenes together, discussed certain dialogue choices, and made script changes on the fly that fit the scenes better. It was just about as good as it gets for an actor in this business. The four hour session just FLEW by! Afterwards I went home to make dinner and rested up a bit. Given the situation over the past few years, I’ve found that I’ve gotten quite “out of shape” to do four hour sessions. They used to be easy to do, but after not doing them for two years, it’ll take some adjustment to get back in the groove again. Add to this the fact that, when I perform Voice Over work, I always stand. The only time I sit is when I do home sessions, because my system at home isn’t set up for standing work. But when I’m in a studio, I never, ever sit when I perform. I always think the character sounds better, as the physicality of standing lends itself better to the overall energy and presentation of the character. In any event, standing for about four hours straight (with a few sitting breaks here and there) can be exhausting! Especially if you haven’t done it over the past two years. I opened up my e-mail to see what sort of auditions had come in during the afternoon and I had a bunch of really fun ones! One required a lot of creature sounds; gurgles, growls, slurping, etc. That was a great one! Later I ate my Jersey Mike’s leftovers and walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood and enjoyed a nice, warm night! Summer can’t come soon enough for this boy! Bring it on!
Thursday the 10th – GRINDERS AND CUTTERS AND BANGS, OH MY! – In addition to a bunch of roofing work going on at the building next to mine, a neighbor is having her patio redone and re-tiled. I guess having the roofing work and the patio work done in the same week is pretty clever, as opposed to having the work stretched out over two weeks with the jobs done in tandem. It sure is noisy as hell! I’m glad my Tranquility Zone is kind of soundproofed, with several “white noise” things going on as I sleep. But it wasn’t the sounds that woke me up, it was my damned subconscious. Sometimes I hate how it works. Here’s the thing…I have a little headlamp that I wear on my night walks with Roxy. I call it my “turdfinder.” It helps illuminate the area when I need to go “mining for turds” and do the responsible thing of picking up after my dog. While these things are effective for a while, they’re fairly cheaply made. The solders on the interior electrical panels are cheesy, and I had to have one wire re-soldered by my pal Jim Ojala recently. I didn’t want to throw it away, when the problem was as simple as a wire that needed to be reattached. I opened up the casing, but this time the other wire had become detached too. It wasn’t worth taking it back to Jim’s studio and soldering the other wire back to the contact, so I decided just to spit-can the whole thing and use my brand new back-up unit. This all happened on Tuesday night. My garbage guys come on Wednesday morning. But Thursday afternoon I woke up with the “Eureka” moment that I should have at least saved the rechargeable battery compartment of the broken unit as a supplemental charging station, instead of throwing it all away. That way I could at least keep one set of batteries charged up and ready to go, and change them out with my new unit when the batteries started to get low. RATS! That would have been ideal! Why didn’t I think of that before?! Oh well. At least I took the rechargeable batteries out of the unit before I tossed it, so I’ll keep those charged up and ready to go when I need some fast replacements. I popped the top on the Mustang and enjoyed the beautiful “summer-y” day. I drove to McDonald’s to get some lunch (it’s a rare treat since the McDonald’s next to me closed) and headed over to an auto upholstery shop that my mechanic recommended. My Mustang is in great shape, and only has 82k miles on it, but the driver’s side seat has sections on the leather cover where it’s coming apart at the seams. I figured the replacement job would be much more expensive than the estimate I got. Come to find out, in order to preserve as much of the original work as possible, the upholstery guy would just replace the panels that were damaged, instead of putting on a whole new skin! BRILLIANT! But he’s very busy and stacked up with cars, so he told me to call him on February 21st to set up an appointment. Wonderful! I may have him fix a small hole in my carpet while he’s at it. I heard there’s a way that they can take a small piece of carpet from an unseen area (like underneath the seat) and do a seamless patch. That would be ideal. I want to keep my 2003 Mustang as “cherry” as possible, as it’s a collector’s model. Only about 1300 of these cars were made as part of the 100 Years of Ford celebration back in 2003. I drove home and decided to spend some time working in my garage. Periodically I’ll shore everything up in plastic bins, and catalog everything that’s in the bins for quick reference. But enough time had passed that it was becoming a total, unsightly mess again. I had bags and bags of puppet fur, fabric, and odds and ends from various collectibles and toys I had purchased. Since the weather was great, I spent about 45 minutes getting everything organized. But then I realized that I had to be inside and prepped for a quick session at 5. A very popular Head Writer on a show that I do Voice Over bits for contacted me about providing some tracks for a “sizzle reel” he’s pitching. A “sizzle reel” is a short video that’s used to pitch a show idea to a network. The idea he had was totally amazing, so I was happy to help out in some small way. I got to my studio, contacted him on the phone, and laid down a few tracks. He was very happy with the result and I sent him the files via the internet. Then I grabbed my little iPod dock, took it out to my garage and set it up with the sound system I have out there, so I could rock out to tunes while I worked. And I didn’t necessarily care who heard my music, either. After all, I spent the day having to listen to grinders, cutters, saws and pounding – so they can listen to a few hours of my loud music. It’s only fair, right? After about three hours of work, I got everything arranged and cataloged the way I like it, and the garage was looking sweet! Granted, I still need to do some other work out there to REALLY get things organized the way I like it, but this was a really good start! But I was filthy. I came inside and showered and relaxed on a gorgeous, warm night. Later I made some spaghetti and watched a few episodes of “The Lone Ranger” before bed. Whew! What a day full of accomplishment!
Friday the 11th – NIFTY 90! – Since it was 90 degrees out, I took advantage and drove my Mustang topless (the car was topless, not me) to Burger King to get some lunch. Then I drove over to a local Foster’s Freeze to get a banana split and it took forever in the drive-thru line. Because FF is more of a mom-and-pop place, they don’t quite have the system down that Burger King or McDonald’s has. But I wasn’t in any hurry, and the weather was simply divine! Then I drove over to my auxiliary garage and decided it was time to get the Gran Torino out for a while. My parking place is about 5 floors up in a parking complex, and when I got there I saw that my car cover had been pulled up over the hood, all the way to the windshield. At first I thought somebody had been goofing around with my car. But then I noticed that some of the other classic cars that are also store there had similar issues. Some car covers were completely off of the cars! Upon closer inspection, I noticed that some of the owners had put binder clips on their covers to secure the cover to the front license plate frame. Then it hit me. Five stories up. It’s been windy the past few weeks in L.A. I’ll bet that some strong gusts blew through that floor of the parking garage and caused all the havoc. (Note to self: bring binder clips next time) There was a small two-seater convertible car that was completely uncovered, and its cover was lying next to it. I popped a note in the car letting the owner know that I had recovered his car, because the wind had completely taken it off. Because the car was open cockpit, I didn’t want more dust and dirt blowing in there. In case he comes to get his car and notices that it’s not covered the way he would normally do it, I wanted him to know that it was done with the best intentions and nothing else on his car was disturbed. The Torino was DIRTY! So I drove to the local car wash and had it hand washed and waxed. It was expensive, but worth it! This car had a mirror finish by the time they were done! I got my mail, and then went home to do some work to start the weekend. In my group of packages, I received a Blu-ray copy of Laurel and Hardy’s final film together called “Atoll K.” I had never seen it before. But I still have several films of theirs to watch in my monthly “Laurel and Hardy Theatre” viewing schedule, so by the time this film would come up in the order it would be August of 2023!!! But I was curious. The only way to buy this film is to get it from another country; something called Zone B. It’s similar to the different regions that use for DVD discs, but Zones A, B and C were completely (ahem) foreign to me. Luckily, years ago, I bought three identical Blu-ray players that were all coded to be region free. I hardly ever view any discs from other regions, but it’s nice to have if I need it. So I figured it put the disc in, pop in the proper code to change the region setting, and see a few scenes from this film. But the upstairs player wouldn’t take the disc. The player in the Puppet Room wouldn’t take the disc. The only player that accepted and played the disc was the player downstairs. Rats! I had paid for something I didn’t get. Luckily I kept all the paperwork in my file, so I dug it out and contacted the company I bought the players from. I hope they still have record of my purchase since it was so long ago. I’m sure I’ll have the “Zone B” problem figured out by August of 2023, but still it’s frustrating. (Electronics and I haven’t had a very good relationship these past few weeks!)
Saturday the 12th – NEVER EVER GO GROCERY SHOPPING THE NIGHT BEFORE THE STUPID BOWL! – The first part of the day I spent working on the computer. But later in the day I got cleaned up and drove to the Smoke House in Burbank. It was great seeing my friends James and Cynthia again and enjoying some amazing food. After dinner we went to Planet Wallywood so I could show them a few things I had acquired since I last saw them. I got a text from our pal Officer Mark and Miss Connie that they were heading to Burbank to get dinner at Bob’s Big Boy. I called my pal Sara and had her meet us there for dessert. Sometimes these last-minute things pop up, and you just have to stay loose and free and go where the wind blows you. It ended up being a very, VERY pleasant evening! I still had to get some groceries, so I hopped over to the local market. But because there was some sort of big ball game happening the next day, some of the stuff I wanted was gone. But I managed to get what I needed and headed out to gas up the Torino, which was on E already! 91 bucks later, the Torino was gassed up and good to go! As I was gassing up, a guy at the pump next to me started talking to me about the Torino. He was a very nice guy. But when he drove away I saw that the door to his fuel port was still open, and the cover to his fuel port was still on the back of his car. He began to drive off, but I whistled and ran over. I’m so glad my mom taught me to do one of those loud, shrill whistles when I was a kid. And we don’t need to use our fingers in our mouths either. It’s all done with the tongue and lips. He stopped and I ran over, grabbed the cover and told him I’d lock it back up for him. He was indeed grateful, as the cover would have most assuredly dropped on to the street and gotten lost forever. After putting the groceries away, I relaxed for a bit, worked around the house, and made my traditional Saturday Night Super Saint Salad and watched an episode of “The Saint” before bed. Ain’t life grand!!
Sunday the 13th – NOSTALIGIC NUTTINESS! – As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I hate how my subconscious works. I’m not sure if it’s due to the age I am, or due to how awful the past few years have been, but I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately. In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about the times growing up in Aberdeen, South Dakota around the ages of 11 to 13; you know, the B.G. years (before girls!). Those carefree days when I could walk downtown to enjoy an afternoon with a good friend, do silly stuff, and have fun browsing about all those classic stores like Ben Franklin, Woolworth’s and Newberry’s. What I wouldn’t give to have a full library of films and photos of those days so I could look back on them with love. So I composed a very philosophical Tweet that I thought I’d share here. “When I see kids with their phones videoing everything, I normally scoff & think they should put the phone down & enjoy life. But now that I’m at the point in my life where I’m reflecting on certain amazing past experiences, I’m kind of wishing I would have filmed more of it. I would LOVE to see video from those days. So maybe the kids who are filming everything today are actually on to something. That is, if they will someday revere the archival value of what they filmed in their younger years, and use it as a source of history and pure joy.” As I’ve said, what I wouldn’t give for just a TINY bit of Super 8 movie footage of my pal Chris Valle and I tooling down Main Street Aberdeen in the year 1973! Later I got a Domino’s pizza, did an audition, and spent the rest of the night cataloging photos in my computer.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
And what would a trip to Bob’s Big Boy in the Gran Torino be without a little impromptu “guerilla” filmmaking? These are the “Starsky & Hutch” bloopers you’ll never see!