As I’m going through all of the scans of my photo albums to catalog the contents for a searchable document, I’m coming across some real treasures. It’s one thing to look at the scanned pages as a whole, but when I start looking at each individual photo to ascertain its contents, many of these pictures really take me places! Like this one of Elvis from his final concert tour. Though I had seen him in Sioux Falls on June 22, 1977, I didn’t take this shot. But I had several penpals at the time and we would trade photos back and forth for our collection. This set of photos was in pretty bad shape; faded and green, But popping it into a photo program and futzing with the colors restored the photo to its original glory. I LOVE this shot! (Clearly the photographer who took this had MUCH better seats than the ones I had when I saw him!)
On David Soul’s debut album back in 1976, at the height of his popularity on “Starsky & Hutch,” he had a hit song called “Don’t Give Up On Us Baby.” But the album also holds a few other gems. One of those is a cute little ditty called “1927 Kansas City.” I’ve always loved this song, and when it came up on my iPod in my Gran Torino this week, it’s been stuck in my head ever since.
Monday the 14th – HAPPY V.D.! – After finishing up a few last-minute auditions, I sped off to get lunch at Burger King. The Gran Torino sure gets a lot of attention! This is not the car to drive if you’re in a hurry, because people will want to stop you and talk about the car. It’s cool, though. Since it was Valentine’s Day, and since the Torino is red and white, I thought it might be nice to get some magnetic hearts to put on my car for the day. Since I was at Hobby Lobby to buy other stuff, I looked for some. But unfortunately I didn’t find any. I did buy a large piece of foam core, though. I needed a piece large enough to mount a poster for my “Wizard of Oz” figure display. I also picked up a bundle of small, plastic storage containers. I grabbed my packages at my mailbox, and then headed home to work around the house. I had tried to get some adhesive-backed foam core, but they were out at Hobby Lobby. So when I got home I just sprayed on some Super 77 spray glue, and mounted the poster. This poster will be used as a colorful background for my display of “Wizard of Oz” figures by a company called Presents Hamilton Gifts. These figures were produced in 1987, and my collection started when my sister bought a Scarecrow figure for me as a gift. I had it for years and treasured it, and several years ago I decided to get the entire set. So off to eBay I went! I found Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, the Wicked Witch, and the Wizard! The great thing about these figures, is that they all come with stands to help the figures stand up, and the stands fit into a base. The base is the Yellow Brick Road, and they all interlock with the other bases. It’s very clever! When I cleaned up my display recently, I realized that I needed something on the wall behind them to complete the display. I found this poster on amazon and it was fantastical and colorful. The figures are all 14 inches tall, and the only problem is, the Tin Man doesn’t have an axe. So I think I may create one by sculpting a suitable axe out of Magic Sculpt; a two-part sculpting epoxy that’s nothing short of amazing! I took all the figures off the top of the cabinet, cleaned them up with a moist towel, mounted the poster on the wall, and replaced the figures. They look amazing with the background. And after some more research into this line of figures, I realized that I’m missing Glinda and three Munchkins. I don’t have room for the Munchkins, but I can definitely put Glinda in the mix between the Wizard and the Wicked Witch. Later I did some auditions. I typed out Wally’s Week, and prepped for my animation session on Tuesday.
Tuesday the 15th – ONE-QUARTER GONE! – Toward the beginning of the day I worked on the computer and laid down a couple of auditions. Then I went over to Studioopolis for another 4 hour session for this new cartoon series they’re doing. It’s especially fun because it’s a character that I’ve done many times before. But the script isn’t quite up to the standards that the Voice Director would prefer, so on the fly, we ended up tossing out about one-fourth of the scripted lines, and writing our own lines that fit better, made more sense, or were just “cooler.” It’s a lot of fun to be involved in something creative like this, where we’re allowed to collaborate on crafting something to improve it. When we finished up I headed home, ate some dinner and did a bunch of auditions. A while back, one of my favorite shower heads became unusable. The little plastic tab on the side of the head, which allowed me to cycle between different shower patterns, just snapped off. In order to cycle it around I had to press down firmly on the face of the shower head and try like heck to move it around. It wasn’t easy. So I decided to try and use Magic Sculpt moldable epoxy to try and form a new tab on the shower head’s rim. I also needed to plug a little slit on my new headlamp system. The slit needed to be there initially, so that the elastic bands that fit around my head could be attached to the unit. But after the bands are attached, the split is no longer needed. As I was stretching out the elastic to fit it around my big noodle, the bands would come off and slip through the slit, and snap in my hands. So I plugged the slit with a little Magic Sculpt so that the bands would no longer come off. But the most fun job I had ahead of me involved my life-size Mike Wyzowski figure in my living room. Back in 2000 I bought one of those giant Mike and Sulley sets on eBay. These were crafted by Gentle Giant studios to promote the “Monsters, Inc.” film when it was released, and you could find these figures in Toys ‘R’ Us stores and movie theatres. Each location had a sweepstakes drawing where you could WIN the figures at the end of the promotion. Sadly, the condition of most of these figures after having been on display for so long around kids, were fairly deplorable. Mike’s arms got pulled off, Sulley’s fur got matted with chocolate-y fingers, and they are so big that most people didn’t really know what to do with them, or where to put them in their house anyway. Luckily, on eBay, I found a set in perfect condition. This set had been on display in a Boston toy store, but they were displayed high up on a shelf where no little fingers could pull, matte, or destroy them. I remember that the shipping for these figures were almost as expensive as the figures themselves! But everyone seems to really enjoy seeing them when they come over. The final week of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” featured an appearance by Billy Crystal. So I arranged with the segment producer to have Billy sign the base of my Mike Wyzowski figure. Billy’s comment was, “Wow! This is much nicer than the one Disney gave ME!” My Sulley figure is up on a little four inch riser that used to be under my big screen TV (back when they sat on the floor, instead of being attached to the wall) so it gives him a little more height. The figure is already over 6 feet tall, but this makes him about 6’ 6” in total! Mike, on the other hand, sits on the floor beside Sulley. The nameplate on both figures features raised white lettering against a blue background. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, the bottom stem of the letter “E” in Mike got chipped off. I’m assuming that one of my housekeepers might have hit it with the vacuum cleaner or something, as it would take being hit with force to chip it off. I decided I was sick of looking at it being chipped, so I got my headlamp, some Magic Sculpt, a sculpting tool and some sandpaper and I set about repairing the broken stem on the “E.” I first started by plugging the little divot where the “E” had chipped off, and then I sculpted in the stem over that. I let it set for a while so the epoxy could cure. I turned my attention to scanning some checks for a few deposits, and working on some banking stuff and paying some bills. Then later, I sanded the letter “E” to smooth it down, and got out my paint box to look for suitable colors. I started mixing colors of enamel paint together to approximate the turquoise color of the name plate, as part of that had been chipped away too. It took me several tries (each try was either too blue or too green) but finally I found a mixture that was very close. I touched up that portion of the name plate, and then I dug out some white. Since whites can look very different, I decided just to repaint all of the letters in the word “Mike” so they all matched. I gave them a few coats and let them dry. I think this is going to work out quite well! After everything dried, it looked pretty darn good!
Wednesday the 16th – WEDNESDAY WALK! – A few auditions arrived in my inbox, so I did those. Then I put on my new Asics walking shoes and headed out the door to enjoy the day and run some errands. I walked to the bank to make some deposits, and then went over to Panera to enjoy a sandwich outside in the sun. Since my phone is full of music, I put on my headset and just enjoyed some tunes while I enjoyed the day. Most people who ate outside were looking for a shady area to eat, but I looked for the table that enjoyed the most direct sunlight. It was heavenly, and felt so good! I stopped at the grocery store to get some chicken for the kids, dropped off some bills at the post office, and stopped by my neighborhood cigar store to get a nice cigar. The walk back home in the warm sun with my cigar was euphoric, and when I got home I did some work around the house. Later I did a bunch more auditions, cleaned up a bit, and got my tax stuff organized to take to my accountant. I made some hot dogs on the grill and watched a few more episodes of “The Lone Ranger.”
Thursday the 17th – BRANDYVERSARY! – My accountant always likes to get my tax stuff in earlier rather than later. All of my corporate stuff has already been taken care of, but he never likes to wait on my personal taxes until April 15th. I drove over to his office in the Gran Torino and handed off all my stuff to him. Then I headed home to clean up for a big dinner meeting. We had an amazing dinner with a group of us who were chatting about a few merchandising ideas for the upcoming “Brandyversary” (as my pal Officer Mark calls it); the 50th anniversary this August of the song “Brandy” hitting #1 on the charts. My pal Elliot Lurie (who wrote and sang the song) and his wife Edi joined a bunch of us for a fantastic dinner! We made some MAJOR headway on a VERY cool merchandise idea. I came back home to do some work, record more auditions, and hit the hay. I was EXHAUSTED!
Friday the 18th – SHARING WITH CHER! – The maids were due to arrive early afternoon, so after a great night’s sleep I got up and waited for them to arrive. Later that evening my friend Cher came over so we could go to dinner. I hadn’t seen her in many years because she had been living out of the country. But I saw her recently at my vet’s office while I was picking up some cat fud. One of our favorite places to eat in the old days was Barone’s. She came over and it was like Roxy and Spook never forgot her. It had been about 7 or 8 years since she had been over to Planet Wallywood, but Spook never seemed to forget her. He’s always really liked her. Both animals were all over her! We stayed at Barone’s for so long that everyone had closed and gone home. There was only one guy sitting at the bar laughing loudly at “Seinfeld” on TV. As we made our way to the door we found out it was Tommy, the owner. He said he loves his alone time sitting at the bar watching “Seinfeld” every night at 11. It was fun catching up with him with nobody else around. Cher and I drove to my place in the Torino, spent some more time with the pets, and then she headed out. I told her I hoped it wouldn’t be another 8 years before she came back for another visit. I did a few auditions, and then later, I ate my leftover Barone’s pizza and watched a few episodes of “The Lone Ranger.”
Saturday the 19th- INVADER ZOOM! – Mid-afternoon I woke up and prepped my office area to do an interview via Zoom. It only took about a half hour, and then it was my intention to meet with some friends to speak more about the “Brandyversary.” But one friend got held up at a shoot, and another friend had a last-minute change of plans, so we decided to meet another day when we would all be free. Since my lunch plans fell through, I decided to enjoy the rest of my leftover Barone’s pizza. YUM! I stayed inside and enjoyed the end of the day into the evening hours. I relaxed, did a few random things around the house, and prepped for two sessions I’d have at the beginning of next week. I also needed to call a local upholstery place on Monday to get an appointment to get some tears repaired in the leather seat in my Mustang. Lots going on this coming week! Later I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Saint Salad and watched an episode of “The Saint” before bed. MAN I love this show! It’s like watching a short James Bond movie each week!
Sunday the 20th – BREEZY BIRDS! – Roxy has good days and lazy days. Some days she’ll sleep virtually all day and seem rather lethargic, and other days she’ll be really engaged in our activities. Of course, the same could be said for her owner. Today was one of her lazy, lethargic days. I took her outside in the afternoon to enjoy the great weather, and she laid down in the grass and enjoyed the day. She stayed out there for a long time and didn’t seem at all interested in going back inside. While she enjoyed her day, I watched a bunch of birds (probably crows) high in the sky overhead, lazily coasting and soaring on the breeze. They hardly ever flapped their wings, they just seemed to be enjoying a nice, lazy glide on an updraft. It was great. Then a few Mourning Doves flew into a tree overhead and cooed for a while. This is what Sundays are truly all about! I came inside and prepped a bit for a four hour Voice Over session on Monday for a cartoon, and a two hour video game session on Tuesday. Along with getting my Mustang to the upholstery shop this week, I need to take a friend shopping for a personal protection device. My days for this coming week are filling up!
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
God truly has a sense of humor. He’ll send us little clues and foreshadowing into our lives that tell us the future, if we’re alert enough to see it. Though we may not comprehend it at the time, when you get a chance to look back on certain things and put the clues together in hindsight, it truly is amazing. For example, my dad always loved watching the Johnny Carson “Tonight Show.” One day, as part of a sales promotion at his company, he brought home a tape recorder. I immediately fell in love with it and started recording myself reading different things. In that single act, he unwittingly, and unknowingly helped to train the future announcer of his favorite TV show! Also, in 1986, a full page article appeared in the local Sioux Falls paper that was titled WINGERT HEADS WEST. It was all about my planned move to Los Angeles to explore a career in acting. I saved that article for years, and while recently remounting it in my new photo album, I looked at the back of it. I was shocked to see that the article was backed with the daily comic strips…which included Garfield! Of all the pages of the newspaper that article could have been printed on, the comic strip featuring my future animated cat was right on the back! But this shot, which I discovered this past week while cataloging my photo scans, really tweaked me! It’s me in 1984 dressed as Batman, leading a Halloween parade through the shopping complex called the Empire Mall. The photographer snapped the photo just as I crossed in front of a jewelry store called Riddle’s. And the lettering is all green too! This was 25 years before I became the Riddler in the Batman video games and related projects! Amazing!
My pal Bruce Kulick, rock guitar legend, sent me one of his new bobbleheads this week.
I promptly put it in the front row of my collection, along with all of the other important bobbleheads, including my own Wobblin’ Wally (which I released in 2001).
In case you’ve never seen the majority of my bobblehead collection, here’s a shot of the whole enchilada!
As you can see, Bobblin’ Bruce and Wobblin’ Wally became fast friends, and even started jamming!
One of the items I picked up at the store this week was a container of M&M cookies. However, Cookie Monster promptly absconded with it and he and Tony Clifton made an evening of it!
Another glorious L.A. sunrise!
This past week the internet has been aflame with all sorts of new movie news. A brand new “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie has just been released, the trailer for a new Elvis biopic dropped, and there’s all sorts of news about the new “Weird Al” Yankovic movie. As I continued to catalog my photo scans, I came across my versions of those personalities from the mid-80’s. I guess everything old is new again!
The Oz display is looking snappy with the new background!
If those conversation hearts you buy every Valentine’s Day were truly authentic and accurate, I thought they might look something like this.
Here’s another terrific photo I ran across this week! During my brief stint in country music radio from 1978 to 1979, I got to work for a guy named Rick Stewart at a station in Sioux Falls. This included getting to attend many great concerts. Here is Rick in the middle (looking very much like George Harrison!) with Barbara Mandrell and the Statler Brothers. I remember that being a fantastic concert! The Statler Brothers are as funny as they are musically gifted!
Finding this shot brought back a few great memories. As I was toddling about Sioux Falls trying to perform as much as possible, my character Klown was hired to entertain at a kid’s Back-To-School event in the mall. My act included juggling. Juggling the beanbags and apples was fun enough, but when I juggled eggs and took one on the noggin, the kids went crazy! Good times.
Here’s the whole crazy crew at the legendary Smoke House in Burbank!