RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
While going through my old photos I came across this. Riddle me this! What is this? Answer: The FAN-tom of the Opera!
I saw a very talented band named Dawes open for Jeff Lynne’s ELO at the L.A. Forum back in 2018. This was my favorite song they performed, and when it came up on my iPod this past week, it was all I was humming for a while. It’s called “Feed the Fire” and it deals with the conflicting conundrum of feeding a fire, while simultaneously hoping that it dies. A metaphor for relationships? Addiction? Who knows? It’s a fascinating song and sentiment.
Monday the 17th – MLK DAY! – My doctor called late in the afternoon for another telemedicine visit. He wanted to check on me and see how I was feeling, since I was very ill over the Christmas-to-New-Year’s week. I told him I was feeling 110%, but I needed a refill on a few prescriptions. I called my mechanic to check on my Gran Torino. They’ve had my car since a few weeks before Christmas, and I figured they had sold it, stolen it, or something even worse. It was in the shop for a very small issue (a non-functioning hazard light), but he said that he had been down with the Kung Flu for a few weeks. He also said they’re very light on staff as well, since they have a few unfulfilled positions, and the mechanics they do have also have been out with illness. Later in the day I wrote Wally’s Week.
Tuesday the 18th – LIKE DRIVING WITH A NERVOUS TEENAGER! – An enjoyable lunch with my pal, actress Tuesday Knight and her friends was the first thing on the agenda. We met at Ernie’s Taco House and had a beautiful, fun gathering. While we were eating, my mechanic called and said he discovered that there are FOUR possible switches that could rectify the hazard light situation in my Gran Torino. Firstly, he would have to buy the four possible parts, test them to see which one was the one that worked in my car, and then figure out how to get rid of the other three. Finding the parts would be, in itself, a monumental feat as parts are very difficult to find for cars these days. So I told him not to worry about it, and that I would come get the car later and stash it in my auxiliary parking spot. I’ll just have to live without a hazard light in the Torino. After lunch I drove to my mechanic’s, parked the Mustang, hopped in the Torino, and drove it to my auxiliary parking facility, all the while being followed by the owner of the shop. He wanted to check out the parking facility to see if he might like to rent some space for a few of his classic cars. After I got the Torino put away, he gave me a ride back to the shop in his 2021 Tesla model S. This baby was pretty impressive, while at the same time being pretty unimpressive. I can’t honestly say that I would ever own an electric car, but you never know. This ride left me feeling rather chilly toward the genre. Firstly, the pick-up was amazing; going from 0-60 in just under 3 seconds. I could feel the G forces. It was so amazing. Nice. Then he said he wanted to drive it to Vegas. But then he said he would have to stop halfway there, find an available charging station, and charge it up for about an hour before continuing on. Not nice. Then he showed me the driverless steering option, where the computer takes over and attempts to get you to your destination. Nice. But after seeing how inept this system is, I got a bit uneasily concerned. The program was very erratic, as it learns as it goes. For example: veering quickly into other lanes, hesitating to make turns, stopping in the middle of two lanes, and other strange maneuvers. Honestly, it was a lot like driving with a nervous teenager and it was very frustrating. Not nice. He kept his eyes firmly transfixed on the control panel as the driverless program operated. I made the observation that he was more intently focused on the car’s operation when the driverless system was in control, than he was when he was operating it manually. Then he told me the price tag. NO THANKS! It’s literally half the price of a nice house. I’ll stick with my beloved internal combustion engines. I got back in my Mustang and kissed the interior repeatedly. I drove over to my box to get my packages, which included a vintage 1974 Popeye bendy on the card! Last week I was telling you how my new obsession is to get a few of the toys I had as a kid on their display cards. The artwork on these cards is often times as charming as the toy itself. This looked pretty much just like how I remembered it being on the rack at Klein’s Big Dollar in Aberdeen, South Dakota! I was also telling you last week how the beginning of this year has been “get reacquainted with old friends” time. While at the vet’s office I ran into my old pal Cher, who in addition to being a good friend back in the day, also appeared in my “Groovie Goolies” documentary as one of the Go-go Ghouls.” She has been living out of the country the past few years, which explains why I haven’t seen her around lately. I think it’s been about 10 years! But she’s back now for a while so we hope to get together again soon. I picked up some cat fud at my vet’s office and headed home.
Last week I ran into my old pal Verno at Staples, and I hadn’t seen HIM in literally 10 years or so. Verno used to perform as the character Elfis in my live kid’s show “Uncle Wally’s Wacky World.” He and I also did some music projects together. It was good seeing him again, but like with Cher, he has been living out of the area for a while and is now back in town. I got home and did some work around the house. I did a bunch of auditions later, and got ready for the carpet cleaners to arrive on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday the 19th – BYE BYE BEANIE! – Bright and early the carpet cleaners arrived to give a nice bath to my carpet. I inquired about cleaning my dog Roxy’s beloved zebra-striped bean bag. They said they would have to take it into their office for about a week and give it to their specialist….at the cost of $125! For a $20 beanbag chair???!! I told them thanks but no thanks. The chair was full of stains and dog hair, and God knows what else. It was garbage day, and luckily the team hadn’t been by yet, so I took it outside to dispose of it. As luck would have it, there was just enough room left in my garbage bin for the beanbag chair. Once I got it outside in the light of day, I could see just how filthy this thing was. Goodbye old friend. Luckily I had another zebra-striped bean bag chair just like it that Roxy can now use as a new lounging chair. Once the cleaners left and I finished up a little work, I grabbed a short afternoon nap. I had gotten up pretty early to meet the cleaners so I wanted to grab a little more sleep. I woke up at 5:30pm to my fuzzy alarm clock that sounds a lot like the meowing of a hungry cat. I fed the kids and then did all of my auditions. After that, and a lot of other miscellaneous work, I made some hot dogs on the grill and watched a few more episodes from the third season of “The Lone Ranger.” As I’ve stated before, the guy they got to play the Ranger in the third season is fairly mundane. Clayton Moore sat out the third season over a reported contract dispute (the producers apparently didn’t want to pay this rising star the proper salary) so they got an actor who had portrayed a few minor characters in the previous seasons, to don the famous mask. One of my favorite things about the Lone Ranger is that he will transform into different characters in order to investigate his case. Clayton Moore would totally get into each character he (as the Ranger) would portray; even doing character voices to completely disappear into the disguise. It was delightful! But this guy just doesn’t quite cut it, and his disguises end up being rather embarrassing and unconvincing. Granted this guy had major boots to fill, but I only wish he would have tried a little harder to come up with little nuances that made his portrayal a different than Clayton Moore’s.
Thursday the 20th – ANOTHER…ON THE CARD! – It was a gorgeous, warm day, and Roxy actually laid out in the grass to enjoy the sunshine for a while. She hadn’t done that in a long time. I drove over to the Celebworx office in Burbank to sign a bunch of autographs that had been purchased through the Galaxy Con website during the recent “Invader Zim” on-line panel. It was fun chatting with Nery and Chris and I was proud of the fantastic office they cultivated. I drove to my box to pick up my packages, which included a Blu-ray copy of all 5 seasons of the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series. Also in the mail was an early 70’s Popeye slide puzzle still ON THE CARD! Just like it looked on the rack at Newberry’s back in the day! I went next door to Paty’s to enjoy a nice salad on the patio as the sun set. Then I drove over to CVS to pick up my prescriptions, and then back home to feed the kids. I started realizing that there are a bunch of Laurel and Hardy movies I don’t have in my collection, so I sat down and started figuring out how to fill some holes in my library. Come to find out there were 11 films I not only didn’t have in my collection, but 11 films I’ve never seen before! These films were released during the end of their career, so I’m not expecting them to be necessarily stellar, but as a completionist I need to see them and make them a part of my monthly “Laurel and Hardy Theatre” viewing. I did some more photo cataloging work at my computer, as I have close to 4,000 scanned images of photos in my photo albums. Please remember, that these scans are images of my photo album pages, and each photo album page holds about four images each, on average. So that makes about 16,000 total photographs! I have a LOT of work to do!
Friday the 21st – SPAM BEATER! – Just after noon my maids arrived to clean up Planet Wallywood, and I spent the rest of the afternoon cataloging photos. Later I did a ton of auditions that were due on Monday. I decided to call Denny’s for my usual order, but as of late Denny’s has had trouble keeping all of their items in stock. For a while, they were out of fried chicken, which makes up a major portion of my usual order. While they had lots of fried chicken when I called, they were completely out of Italian dressing, another major component in my usual order. Luckily, I still had some of their dressing left over from a previous order, so I was good to go. Since the beginning of the year, Gmail has been doing some strange reconfiguring. All of a sudden the clients of my Voice Over agency saw their audition copy going directly into their spam folder. It wasn’t the agency’s fault, but something different in Gmail’s algorithm, or some such craziness. We got a note from the agency telling us how to change our Gmail settings to defeat this, but it wasn’t very detailed. As I started digging into my Gmail with their instructions, I realized they were missing a few vital moves. I did some experimentation, and logged my steps as I went. This allowed me to create a handy document, complete with screenshots, for the other clients to use to reset their Gmail. Hopefully now the agency’s audition materials won’t go to spam any longer. And I thought Yahoo! e-mail was bad! But hopefully this will do the trick. Later I ate my Denny’s and watched a few more episodes of “The Lone Ranger.”
Saturday the 22nd – NOT DAVID BOWIE! – Though I considered going for a walk on a nice Saturday afternoon, once I took Roxy out I realized that was a very bad plan. The winds had kicked up considerably, and were blowing dust and junk all over the place. After a few blocks on foot, my allergies would have floored me. So I decided just to lounge around the house most of the day with the pets. I did manage to get out to the grocery store for a bit, and then drove to Barone’s to meet my pal Officer Mark for dinner. While we were there I recognized an actor named David Bowe. Read carefully. NOT David Bowie, David Bowe. Besides being another actor I used to see all the time at Voice Over auditions, he is best known to me for his on-camera work in the “Weird Al” Yankovic movie “UHF.” After dinner, I went over and said hi and we caught up a bit with everything that’s been going on. But once our conversation turned to nerd-comic book stuff, the rest of his dining party got restless and headed toward the door. We vowed to keep in touch and have a “nerd lunch” where we could talk about all the geeky things that keep us going. Officer Mark and I headed back to Planet Wallywood and got set up for a photo shoot. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m going to post a feature on my website called “The Muppet Replica Resource” featuring detailed photographs of all 12 (soon to be 13) of my Muppet replicas. This will be added to the wealth of internet resources other puppet builders can tap in the event they want to build their own Muppet replicas. While I received a “Cease and Desist” document from the Muppets legal team back in 1982 for making replica Muppets and performing, it seems that nobody in their legal team cares much these days. I guess there’s just no way they can possibly control the influx of builders and puppeteers who are doing their own Muppet tributes. But good ol’ Wally took the bullet for everyone else by getting a nastygram from the suits at The Muppets back in the day. Just my luck. It seems I’m always ahead of my time…but never in a good way. My pal Scott Sebring took some gorgeous high quality photos of all my replicas a few months ago, but we ran out of time to get a few extra photos I had hoped to get. So Mark came over to fill in the gaps with a few quick photos. The thing I really wanted to demonstrate, as I build this page, is the differences between the Muppet replicas I built back in the early 80’s (some 40 years ago!), and the replicas I’ve been building lately. I only have seven of my original 20 Muppet replicas still in my collection. So I wanted to juxtapose those originals with the new ones as a quick glimpse of my history. These photos turned out quite nicely. Another picture I wanted to get at the original session, but didn’t have time for, is a picture with my Rowlf replica and my dog Roxy. Why? You’ll have to read the whole page when it goes live on my website for the full history. It’s pretty fascinating and funny. After Officer Mark left I started going through all the photos we took and editing them. Then I started writing the text for my Muppet Replica Resource page. Later I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Saint Salad and watched another episode of “The Saint.” Roger Moore was quite “James Bond” in the episode I watched, brandishing a small Beretta pistol more than usual. It was great!
Sunday the 23rd – SNAPSHOT (AND SLEEPY) SUNDAY! – As is my tradition, I spent most of the day resting and relaxing. But later I set about working on the computer to do more photo cataloging. Of the 4,000 scans I have of pages of my photo albums, sometimes I’ll have to locate certain photos for something I’m working on. This requires me to sift through jpg images of all 4,000 images to find the photo I’m looking for. And since each scan is a scan of a photo album page containing about 4 photos each, this can take a while. So once and for all, I’m cataloging all of the pertinent info about each scan in a document. So if I’m looking for a photo of a particular nature, I’ll just open the document, put a specific word in the search, and locate all of the scans that contain that subject matter. Then I locate the number of the scan, go into my photo files, and VOILA! There it is! Though this is a time consuming project up front, in the long run it will save me a TON of time! Particularly if I ever decide to write a book about my many adventures someday. Hmmm…now there’s an idea!
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK