RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
One of the nicest things I’ve ever heard is when somebody said, “Wally Wingert is to the Riddler, what Mark Hamill is to the Joker.” I almost wept with humility when I read that initially. But this past week I stumbled across another wonderful post that I just wanted to share with you.
As I basked in the sunshine on the patio of Paty’s restaurant this past week, my phone played this amazing song by Boston called “We’re Ready.” I’ve been humming it all week. What an amazing, intricate song!
Monday the 28th – SHIRLEY’S 95! – It was my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley’s 95th birthday, so I gave her a call to wish her a Happy Birthday! She received my perfume gift a few days earlier, and she was absolutely elated to get it. It was a gorgeous day, so I hopped in the Mustang to run errands. But for some reason, I couldn’t get my automatic garage door to close. I had to do it by hand, and then headed to my box to get my packages. In my group of goodies, I got a set of 1989 vintage “Wizard of Oz” puppets that I bought on eBay. These babies are sweet, but need a little work before I display them. I sat on the patio at Paty’s enjoying the warm sun and my favorite salad. I went to the cleaners to pick up a comforter, and then I headed home. I engaged my garage door’s automatic function again, and it opened fine. But again, it wouldn’t close. I called Eddie my garage door guy, but nothing he had me do was working. Sometimes there will be a spider web over the sensors (it happens especially in the warm weather) so I brushed out the sensors with a broom and even blew the sensors with pressurized air. But it still wouldn’t work. I dug out the manual and did as much troubleshooting as possible, but eventually I made an appointment with Eddie to come out on Tuesday to have a look. The sensors were sensing some sort of obstruction, because both lights were on the sensors like normal. Very odd. I went inside to record an audition. I fed the kids and started working on restoring the “Wizard of Oz” puppets. I traced each puppet on to a piece of poster board to make inner support forms. That way the puppets will display fully and evenly. The Lion was a mess, so after stitching up a small tear in the fur, I brushed out the fur on his mane completely and sprayed it into place. It looked MUCH better! The Good Witch was missing a small silver star on the front of her crown so I replaced that using some silver adhesive tape and a paper punch, and I put little metal nailhead studs down the front of the Tin Man’s chest to look like the rivets on his costume. The Scarecrow’s hat was looking pretty limp, so I stuffed it with some batting. The Wicked Witch needed her corset tied up and her hat stuffed. I just needed to re-tie Dorothy’s hair ties and I was finished! They were looking really nice! Once some plastic brick sheets arrive (that are mostly used for doll houses and models) I’ll make the Yellow Brick Road platform that they’ll all live on. The platform will go on the bottom shelf of a display case in the Puppet Room. I cleared out some other items to make room, so the new display will feature the 8” Mego “Wizard of Oz” figures in the front, with these puppets in the back. It should look pretty nice, but making the Yellow Brick Road base will be interesting! I’ve already started jotting down the steps necessary to fabricate it. I sat down and typed out Wally’s Week, took Roxy on a nice long walk on a gorgeous 60 degree evening, and came back inside to make some spaghetti and watch a few more episodes of “The Lone Ranger.”
Tuesday the 1st– THE GARAGE GUY! – My garage door guy Eddie came over in the afternoon to investigate the problem with my garage door. Even though the lights were active on both sensors, apparently they were just a tiny bit out of alignment. He said the vibration of the door going up and down will eventually move them out of alignment slightly. While he was there he did a full tune-up and lube of my entire system, which was probably much-needed anyway. I came inside and did some more cataloging of the scans of my personal photos. I found some more gems! Later I did a bunch of auditions, made a salad and some popcorn, and walked Roxy on a nice, warm, clear night. It was SO amazing!
Wednesday the 2nd – BUMPER, BOB AND BIG BOY! – As the day began I was craving that shredded beef sandwich at Weinerschnitzel. I wasn’t quite sure they were still offering it, as it might have been a limited-time offer, but if they didn’t a chili cheese dog still sounded good. Sure enough, they no longer offered it, but I was good with chili cheese fries and two chili cheese dogs to go. I took my lunch to the local car wash and ate while they cleaned my car. As they pulled my car up to dry it off, the sun hit it just right and I saw the chipped paint on the front bumper (from a tiny bumper thumper I had several months ago). I had forgotten all about it, to be honest. But I needed to get that repaired. So I called my buddy Eric at Eric’s Collision (a body shop who had done some work on the Mustang in the past) to see if I could drop it by for an estimate. When the car wash finished I drove to see Eric and he said he could get me in next week, as his schedule was very light these days. He said the inability to get certain parts was cutting into his business. But if it was just a simple sand-and-paint job like mine, he could do it easily; as long as it didn’t require the need for additional parts. Next Tuesday I’ll drop it off with him for a few days and drive the Gran Torino around while it’s being repaired. I got back home and Roxy’s groomer arrived to give her a bath. It was nice to have a clean dog again! My pal Bob came over so we could grab dinner, so we drove over to Bob’s Big Boy to enjoy some food. Afterwards, I loaded him up with a ton of stuff I needed to get rid of. He’s going to handle my eBay sales going forward, and it’s a good thing too. I have so much stuff clogging my garage that I simply do not need any more. It’s all great stuff, but it’s stuff I’m no longer interested in, so Bob is going to help it all go to a good home. I recorded a bunch of auditions, and then made a reservation for my birthday weekend in Palm Springs. I can’t WAIT to get back to the desert and relax! I walked Roxy and came back inside to enjoy my nice clean dog! And on Friday, I will also enjoy a nice clean house – as the maids arrive!
Thursday the 3rd – MAGICAL MEXICAN MARIONETTE! – Since it was another gorgeous day, my pal Edi and I met at Paty’s to get lunch. We got to pet a lot of great dogs that passed by. When we finished I got my mail at my box, and then went to the store to get some supplies. I got home and fed the kids, and then did some work on the computer. I recorded my nightly auditions and took a nap in the Puppet Room. When I got up later I busied myself putting away all my Christoween stuff in a bin to store in my garage. In May of 2021, for my birthday, I was given a cool Mexican-made marionette at the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre. It had dark hair, a dark mustache and blue eyes. My friends and I joked that he kind of looked just like me! I had been wanting to customize it for a long time but just never had the time. But tonight I dug out some black fake fur and added a few layers to the back to give him long hair. I also took a Sharpie and drew on sideburns and a goatee. Now, he’s my little Mexican doppelganger! It rained a bit overnight, and I made some shredded beef barbecues and watched a few episodes of “The Lone Ranger.”
Friday the 4th – BLU RAY BIZARRITY! – Several weeks ago in Wally’s Week, I was talking about a region-free Blu ray player I had purchased back in 2016, which was no longer reading region-free discs. I sent it back to the seller to have the problem diagnosed to determine the cost to have it repaired. The technician called me and said it would cost $120 to replace the drive, but that wasn’t guaranteed to solve the problem. He said if it’s a motherboard issue, the player would be non-repairable. Come to find out it’s playing standard DVDs fine, but no longer plays Blu rays; region-free or domestic. So I did some looking around on their website and found a brand new LG unit that does everything I want it to do (3D, region-free, USB port, etc.) for $159! Only about 40 bucks more than the repair to my old unit. I told him to send the unit back to me unrepaired, and I bought the new LG unit. It’s totally bizarre that the repair on the old unit is about the same cost as a brand new one. Of course I’ll have to have my tech buy Brandon pop over to install the unit into my system and program my universal remote for the new unit, but that shouldn’t take very long. Well, one more crisis solved! The maids came by to clean Planet Wallywood, so I took a 1:12 scale plastic axe I had bought out to the garage to prime and paint it. I had done this same thing last week so my Tin Man figure would have an axe, and now I needed to make one for my Tin Man puppet. I love projects like this. Then it was time to sit down and do some math. I measured the space of the lower shelf in my display case where the Yellow Brick Road base will sit. It ended up being 30” wide by 15” deep. I shopped on-line for plastic sheets of brick walls, which are mostly used for doll houses. The sheets I had ordered from eBay hadn’t arrived yet, and according to the tracking number it looked like the shipment was stuck in Michigan, as it hadn’t moved for several days. So I made alternate plans for a different set of brick sheets. The sheets I found on Amazon were 11” by 5.5” – so I sat down with some graph paper to do the figuring of how many of these sheets I would need to cover the area. On the graph paper each cube represented an inch. So I cut out a piece that was 11 cubes by 5 and a half cubes to represent the brick sheets. Then I measured out an area on the graph paper that was 30 cubes by 15 cubes. I laid the cut-out piece over the area that represented my shelf area, and counted how many sheets I would need to cover the entire space. The total was 9 sheets! YIKES! That was considerable, and given the price of each sheet, it would end up being quite expensive. But, this has to look right, so I ordered 9 sheets on Amazon. If the previous sheet I ordered ever shows up, I’ll do a comparison of both types of sheets and see which one will work best. It will take a lot of measuring, gluing, cutting, priming and painting, but this base will look amazing when it’s finished! I chatted on the phone for quite a long time with my old buddy in South Dakota, with whom I did a lot of radio work back in the 80’s. I sent him some of the photo scans I’ve been cataloging and we had a lot of hard, HARD laughs about many of the photos. Good memories, all of them! I did some more work around the house and got ready for a VERY busy Saturday!
Saturday the 5th – THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM! – My contractor Handy Don was scheduled to come by at 11, so I set my alarm accordingly. But when I got up I saw he had texted me that he would be over closer to noon. I wish I would have known of the schedule change, as I could have used the extra hour of sleep. He discovered a kink in an air hose under my sink, which is used for ventilation in my plumbing. So he went to the hardware store to buy a new one. He fixed that and then moved his attentions to the broken light switch just outside my kitchen. After we futzed around with several lighting terminals to determine the best course of action, we decided the simplest solution was the best. Over the past few weeks I had been hearing an intermittent “dripping” sound in the wall behind my sink. I thought it was a water drip, and that’s a bad sign. I realized that it got worse when hot water was running down the drain. I tried to recreate the issue, but it only lasted for a little bit. But it was enough for Handy Don to ascertain the problem. First, there was no sign of leaking water anywhere in my house (thank God!) so he told me that sometimes copper pipes will “pop” when they heat up. If certain little fasteners aren’t attached to the pipes, that will happen. And the “dripping” sound I was hearing WAS quite a bit louder than an average drip would sound, so we decided that it must be the copper pipes heating up when I pour hot water down the drain. All the while Handy Don was working, my pal Troy (a writer on the “Ellen” show) was emailing me to get me to voice a comedy bit for him. But I couldn’t really record it while Handy Don was here because of the noise of the repairs. As soon as Don finished up, I recorded several takes of the bit and sent the audio file off to Troy. Whew! I walked over to my stylist Andie’s shop to get a touch up on my color. Since L.A. had just gotten rid of their annoying mask mandate it was great to see her face again after so many years! It was raining off and on while she did her work, and as I paid and prepared to walk home, it started pouring pretty hard. I told her I didn’t mind doing a “Gene Kelly” and walking home while singing in the rain. I got outside and saw a huge, gorgeous rainbow in the eastern sky! I walked to the store next door to get some supplies, and walked home in the rain, which had now diminished to sprinkles. I went inside and got cleaned up for “Puppet Up!,” a hilarious live show that features improv artists with puppets, acting out scenes suggested by the audience. I’d be taking my friend Michelle who had been wanting to see this for quite a while. She arrived at 6:15 to pick me up, but the traffic to Hollywood from my house was pretty light. So we would arrive there quite early. So since we were so early, we visited the only Arby’s location in a wide area (we both LOVE Arby’s) and got some food to eat in her car while we waited. We pulled up to the Henson Studios, parked and went inside to check in. I had gone twice before, and tonight I’d be enjoying the best seats I’ve had at any of the shows so far. Michelle and I would literally be seated in the third row! I also purchased the VIP tickets for us, which included a tour of the Henson Studios. I took it back in 2019, but they’ve streamlined it for efficiency quite a bit since then. As opposed to ending in Brian Henson’s office, like last time, the tours now BEGIN with a visit to Brian Henson’s office, and an audience with Brian himself! Every time I’m fortunate to be on that lot I’m humbled and quite moved by the creative, hallowed ground upon which I’m walking. The studio was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1917, and then purchased in the 60’s by Red Skelton. Shortly after that the lot was purchased by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss and it became A&M Records; a record label that had many of my favorite musical artists on their roster! (Peter Frampton, Pablo Cruise, Captain and Tennille, Supertramp, Carpenters, Bryan Adams, Styx, the Police, etc.) The Jim Henson company then purchased the studio and it’s been theirs ever since. It’s not a big lot, but creativity oozes from every pore on that lot, and it’s palpable! It’s really quite awe-inspiring! The show was fantastic as always, and probably the best one I had seen to date. One moment was especially “tears in your eyes” funny. It involves bringing up a member of the audience with absolutely no improv or puppet experience. It’s hilarious seeing a noob on stage with puppets, juxtaposed against the professional puppetry we’ve just witnessed for the past hour. To make it even more amazing, Brian Henson comes on stage to do the scene with the audience member. It’s one of the funniest things I have ever seen! After the show I said hi to my buddy Grant Baciocco, one of the Muppet performers. He said he had just been listening to many of my parody songs as he’s rediscovering “The Dr. Demento Show.” Michelle wanted to meet the show’s host Patrick Bristow, as she remembered him from a show she watched as a kid. But as we waited to talk to Patrick, she got a bonus. Mindy Sterling was at the show too, and she came up to say hi to Patrick! Michelle had worked with Mindy as her assistant back in Florida for a film festival. So it was fun for her to see Mindy again, in addition to meeting Patrick. Patrick and Mindy go way back together in the world of improv comedy. She dropped me back home and I relaxed for a bit, fed the kids and downloaded all the photos from my camera. Since it was the first Saturday of the month, I got set up for “Laurel and Hardy Theatre” for my Saturday night viewing. In the sequence of their film history, the next offerings were two shorts, also known as “two-reelers.” These would be the last shorts they would do before delving completely into feature films for the remainder of their movie careers. I made my traditional Chef Boyardee pizza-in-a-box, had my Oliver Hardy mug filled with ice cold Diet Pepsi, dug out a banana Twinkie, and made some popcorn. All of these foods serve a nostalgic purpose, as those are the taste sensations I enjoyed as a 13 year old watching “Laurel and Hardy Theatre” on TV back in Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 1974. I still have the giant Laurel and Hardy ceramic mugs my mom made for me at her ceramics class back in the 70’s, and I use one each time I enjoy “Laurel and Hardy Theatre” on a Saturday night. I look forward to these monthly visits with The Boys. The two final shorts they filmed were called “The Fixer Uppers,” which is hilarious, and one of the oddest offerings called “Thicker Than Water.” This involves Stan having to give Ollie a blood transfusion after Ollie is injured. But something happens where the transfusion device overloads, and Ollie has to give some of his blood to Stan. At the end it’s fun to see Stan dressed up and imitating Ollie, and Ollie dressed up imitating Stan! In their career they played their own kids, each other’s wives, and now each other! Hilarious!
Sunday the 6th – FLUX WEEK! – As is usual, I spent most of the day resting. At night I went to the Smoke House to meet with a potential new assistant. As my schedule gets increasingly busier, and past assistants have themselves become busy with other things, I find it necessary to bring on new help. After a great dinner I came home to do a little work around the house, work on the computer, and prep for a crazy week. There are a lot of things that are flux, and it will take a little bit of planning to make sure everything gets done in a precise fashion.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK