ANOTHER TWO-FER WALLY’S WEEK!
RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
I recently came across this shot of a guy and his cat at Denny’s. I love this shot!
After eating at Miceli’s the other night, I brought home some of their delicious buns! I heated one up so the butter would melt right into it. YUM! This is the closest I’ll ever get to having “a bun in the oven.”
One of the advantages of having my cars wired for my iPod is that I hear a lot of great music I had forgotten that I downloaded onto my device. One such song is “Drive By” by Train. VERY catchy! Also, once I got to Sioux Falls for the Voices Against Cancer event and met some of the Honor Families and heard their stories about all they’ve been through, this song became very poignant to me. It’s Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up.” I was humming it all weekend.
“Drive By” – Train
“Keep Your Head Up” – Andy Grammer
On the plane trip back from Sioux Falls I heard a song on my iPod that reminded me of when I first moved back to Sioux Falls in 1978. Chicago’s “Alive Again” had a lot of great meaning for me at that time in my life. Also, now that it’s deep into summer in L.A., I love driving around with the top down and my music up! “Jaded” by Aerosmith is a great summer song to drive around to!
“Alive Again” – Chicago
Tuesday the 5th – IT’S DEAD, JIM! – My pal Sara came over to trim my cat Spooky’s nails. He was becoming Velcro cat, and was sticking to everything. In the late afternoon I had a quick Zoom call with my new animation agent so we could get acquainted. After that, I went downstairs to hop in the Gran Torino and speed off to run errands, but the battery was totally dead. Not even a flicker. I guess I must’ve left the dome light on or something. When the cutoff switch is off in the Torino, it only drains power from the battery for the dome light or the alarm. And since it was in my garage I didn’t have the alarm on. So I must’ve left the light on somehow. Anyway, I’m not going anywhere today. I put the trickle charger on the battery and I’ll let it charge for a full 24 hours. Nothing was too pressing, so I just gave myself permission to sit around the house all day and do some editing work, and do some more planning for my upcoming trip to South Dakota for the Voices Against Cancer event in Sioux Falls. I spent the rest of the evening writing Wally’s Week.
Wednesday the 6th – A DAY LIKE NO OTHER! – After charging all night on the trickle charger, the Gran Torino was ready to roar! I filled it up with gas, and then headed to the new location of my business mailbox. I needed to get paid up for another year, and find out what the new number of my box will be. Because of the reconfiguration of boxes in the new location, we have to choose new numbers. But since I need to change my address anyway, it doesn’t really matter. Just for fun I got box number 2813, because that was the address of my home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I paid up and made my way to McDonald’s to pick up some lunch before my session at 2. I drove the Torino over to my auxiliary garage and swapped it out with the Mustang. I drove to my gig at Voicecasters in Burbank, did a Voice Over session for about an hour. At the session I was spelling out the company’s website for the bit, and then as a joke I finished it up with m.o.u.s.e. like on the old “Mickey Mouse Club.” The director Matt said his older brother had that lunch box, and he had the Hulk lunchbox. We started talking about the Hulk TV show. He said he was a fan as a kid, and I told him I had recently started watching it on Blu Ray and was finding it tough to watch. We laughed about the Hulk throwing the stuffed bear across the lake. Funny how weird things like that come up. When I finished the session I drove over to Alex In Wonderland studios to pick up the Yellow Brick Road base my pal Mike McGee had been working on. The base turned out great, I paid him and made my way down Hollywood Way Boulevard to head over to a company called Celebworx to sign some photos they had sold during the recent “Invader Zim” reunion on-line. But just as I had gotten in front of the Burbank Airport, in a very busy intersection, my iPod stopped playing. Cold dead! The stereo just shut off completely. I started wondering if I had time to swing by Al & Ed’s Auto Sound to have them take a look at it. But as I sat at a red light, my Mustang started acting weird. It seemed like it wanted to die. Sure enough, it did. Great! I put on the hazard lights and tried to push it left onto a side street. But pushing and steering at the same time is very difficult. Thankfully two passers-by helped me get it pulled off on the side street. But the side street said NO PARKING ANYTIME, and people who came around the corner were in danger of hitting it. So I moved it up a little further all by myself. I accidentally got my right foot under one of the tires and the tire rolled over my foot! I panicked and called AAA. But I got an error message that said the Verizon call could not be completed at this time. WHAT?! Just when I need it? My second panicked call was to my buddy Mike at Alex in Wonderland. He’s driven Mustangs all his life and knew them very well. Plus he was just up the road. Soon he drove over with his pal Jimmy and we figured out what to do. He tried to jump it to give it enough juice to get to the Burbank Auto Doctor. It started for a bit, but then would die soon after. At this point it was getting late, and the Burbank Auto Doctor was about ready to close! I called them and told them what the situation was, and he said to get it there and leave it out front. Jimmy called AAA on my behalf, since my phone wasn’t connecting. We got them on the phone and got a tow truck dispatched. But they said it wouldn’t be there until 5:30pm. It was 4:20 currently. Mike and Jimmy had to leave, and I had to go to the bathroom. Luckily Mike, Jimmy and I got the Mustang pulled off the road to a little driveway in back of the Burbank Marriott. That way it would be completely out of the way of traffic and a lot safer. I would just have to sit there for an hour and wait. There was a young guy out back having a smoke, and we asked if it would be OK to park there for a bit. He said he wasn’t really sure, but he didn’t think there would be a problem. I believe his name was Matt. I got a text that said the driver would be there at 4:40. It was now 4:30, so I went into the Daily Grill (a restaurant adjoining the Burbank Marriott) and used the bathroom quick before the tow truck driver came. I called my pal Sara and arranged to have her meet me at the Burbank Auto Doctor so I could get a ride home. I also called Celebworx and told them I wasn’t sure when I’d be there, but my assistant Sara was on her way to get me. Add to this that my 14 year old dog Roxy hadn’t been out since 11:30 that morning, and probably had to potty very badly! The tow truck driver (Mr. Leonard) finally showed up, tested the battery with his testing equipment, tried to jump it, but the same thing happened as had happened before with Mike. It stayed running for a bit, but quit soon thereafter. As I steered Mr. Leonard pushed me back into the street to line it up with the tow truck. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally got it up on the tow truck. As he fastened the Mustang to the tow truck bed, the guy named Matt who we had seen earlier came to offer me a cigarette. I told him I was allergic. He said he had funny cigarettes inside, and he could get me one. I told him I hadn’t done that since 1981. He said, “What band are you in?” I told him I wasn’t in a band, I was a Voice Actor. He asked if I did video games, and I said yes. I told him “Call of Duty,” “Batman Arkham”…and at that point he stopped me and said, “Who do you play?” I told him I was The Riddler. He laughed and said, “I knew it!” He had recognized my voice! He asked to get a selfie video with me and I happily agreed. It goes to show that, even though you’re having a rotten day, something nice can come along when you least expect it. That was great! Mr. Leonard was loaded up and we were on our way to the Burbank Auto Doctor. Luckily Ben, the owner of Burbank Auto Doctor, was still on the premises! He came out to assist us and chat. Whew! I gave him the key to the Mustang and he said he’d work on it and let me know when it was finished. While it was in the shop, I figured I’d have him look into my “wub-wub-wub” problem with my right rear tire. He said he would have to take a little longer with it, but since I’d be going out of town on Friday to the Voices Against Cancer event in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and would be staying for several days, I told him there was no rush. I gave Mr. Leonard a $20 tip and he was on his way. I hopped in Sara’s car and headed home to walk Roxy. Amazingly, there was no potty on the floor! I fed both pets and had an idea. What if Sara and I went to dinner in Burbank, and she took me BACK to the auxiliary parking spot, and I got the Gran Torino out again. It would stay safe in my garage all the while I was away, and I’d have wheels for Thursday. With two senior pets, I don’t really like the idea of not having wheels – in case some emergency comes up. She agreed and we went to Lancer’s to grab dinner, and then she dropped me at the auxiliary parking spot. The Torino fired right up, and went downstairs to bid her farewell, and I headed to the Foster’s Freeze location in Burbank and got a giant ice cream cone. While I was there I got a call from my pal Dan Roebuck who was across the street and had seen me in the Foster’s Drive Thru! Wild! At that point, all I wanted to do was go home and take a long shower. But a guy pulled up beside me at a red light and asked if he could take a picture of my Torino. I said, “Sure!” Figuring he would take it from his car I pulled away from the red light slowly. But he wasn’t taking a photo. Odd. So I kept on driving home. I saw him beside me as I got further into Toluca Lake, and I told him to meet me at Bob’s Big Boy and he could take some photos. I pulled over and he got out to take some pictures and said he had a group of friends in 1979 who all had Starsky Torinos and they cruised all over the place. It sounded like a group of guys I could have totally hung with! I drove back home, pulled in the garage, put a few coats of yellow paint on my Yellow Brick Road platform, and went upstairs to shower and relax. SHEESH! Two cars, and both of them had power issues two days apart. What are the chances???!! I got home and took a hot shower and a nice nap in the Puppet Room. Later I got up to do a bunch of auditions, redesigned my business card with the new address, and made some buffalo mac and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk.” I was going to start packing, but after the day I had, I really needed to relax and watch some goofy show and enjoy some food. The episode was better than the first two. Maybe there’s hope.
Thursday the 7th – READY TO FLY! – The people in South Dakota sent me all of the detailed flight info for my trip on the private jet to Sioux Falls, South Dakota early Friday morning. The Voices Against Cancer Initiative was going to be amazing! The original private jet they were planning to send seated four people comfortably. The passengers were going to be Frank Welker, Peter Cullen, Emily Swallow, and myself. But apparently there was a technical snafu with the plane so it had to be taken out of service temporarily until it was repaired. So the VAC folks did some fast footwork and arranged for a replacement jet, which ended up being bigger. Since it could hold more people, some more passengers were added to the list. This included Frank and Peter’s agent and his assistant, and Voice Actor Dan Gilvezan. Dan was a last-minute replacement for George Newbern, who came down with an illness a day ago. Dan’s a real champ for subbing in at the last minute. He’s a good guy; I’ve known him for years. This was going to be AMAZING! I worked on the “Wizard of Oz” Yellow Brick Road base for my display cabinet. I wired it all up with the armature wire to support the action figures, and screwed in the threaded rods to support the puppets. I installed it in the cabinet and it looks amazing! It’s finally finished! The maids came over to clean up Planet Wallywood, and I finished packing up for my trip. Later in the evening, my house and pet sitter Emily came over with her personal effects to get set up for the next five days. She got all set up in the Puppet Room, and in the morning she’d need to drive me to the airport for the flight. I was so excited I hardly slept! I cut a 30 second radio spot to help advertise the VAC event on Spotify and Pandora, and my pal Troy McQuillen in Aberdeen at McQuillen Creative Group put video to it for our YouTube spots. Check it out!
Friday the 8th – THE VOICES AGAINST CANCER INITIATIVE: DAY 1! – I was up bright and early at 7:30, got showered, and threw all my luggage into Emily’s SUV. We were on the road to the local airport to meet the private jet. I had never flown a great distance on a private jet before, so it would be exciting! Hard to believe at my age there are still new things to experience! We got there early enough that we could scout out a local donut shop to pick up some breakfast. I took mine to go so I could eat on the plane later. Emily dropped me off at the private jet strip and I met up with Frank, Peter, Dan, and the gang. We were all VERY excited for the weekend to come! I spoke with the Captain briefly before the flight and mentioned I was a graduate of Washington High School in Sioux Falls. He said he was a graduate as well! Then I told him I spent half the day at Lincoln, the high school across town, at the vocational radio and TV class. He said he had taken that class too – 10 years before I did, and we had the same teacher; MR. DALEN! Of all the weird coincidences! (Of course as you know, I don’t believe in them!) The middle seats on the plane were facing inwards, so I was sitting directly in front of Frank Welker, and Peter Cullen and Dan Gilvezan were facing each other to my left. It was an amazing flight with tons of great stories! There were way too many to be recounted here, but suffice to say the 2.5 hour flight felt more like a half hour! I was tapping Peter’s memories about working in radio and being the announcer on “The Sonny and Cher Show” (I was never really a Transformers fan) and he had great recollections! I was talking to Frank about his origins at a local TV station in Colorado and his stand-up comedy experience. That magical flight will live in my memory forever! In the middle of some great stories we felt the plane begin to descend. NO! We were arriving too soon! Even Peter himself mentioned that it was the best flight ever! We were greeted at the Sioux Falls airport by Dr. Doom himself, along with his crew of volunteers and a long, white stretch limo! After salutations, handshakes, hugs and introductions, we all climbed into the limo and they dropped me off at the car rental area at the opposite end of the airport. Since I’d be staying extra days to see family and friends I needed to have my own wheels. My pal Officer Mark had arrived the night before with all of his camera equipment in tow. He had just purchased a great new camera and he was becoming VERY proficient with it. His photography was becoming nothing short of stellar! I called Mark and asked him if he wanted me to bring some B&G Milky Way (a legendary local chain of ice cream eateries) sloppy joes to the hotel. He had sampled them back in 2019 when we traveled to Sioux Falls to drive to the Jeff Lynne’s ELO concert in St. Paul with my pal Maguire, and he loved them. Like me, he had missed them quite badly over the past three years! I hit B&G and bought 6 sloppy joes, and sped off to downtown Sioux Falls to the Hotel on Phillips; the host hotel for the Voices Against Cancer guest actors. The hotel was amazing. It was formerly a multi-story bank, with the giant vault downstairs still intact! The vault itself had been turned into a bar and restaurant! The upper floors used to be offices, but are not functional hotel rooms! It was a glorious remodeling job! My only complaints were that there wasn’t any clock in my room, nor was there a closet to hang my clothes. Because of the way the water had to be pumped into the rooms, the only shower heads that would work were those overhead “rain shower” heads. They seem nice in concept, but functionally, they are virtually useless. They offer no pressure, and you can’t direct the spray where you need it. On the bright side, the air conditioning worked spectacularly (much needed on a hot, humid South Dakota day!) and the beds and pillows were some of the most comfortable of any hotel I’ve ever stayed in! I wish the folks at my regular haunt the Palm Springs Hyatt would take note! Mark and I got my belongings lugged up to my room and we sat down to enjoy the sloppy joes. YUM! The two foods I most missed in South Dakota were B&G sloppy joes, and Boss’ pizza – another local eatery with amazing pizza! Mark agreed to meet me downstairs at 5:15 so we could catch the bus to Dr. Doom’s castle for the big sponsor soiree. I organized my luggage, put stuff away, and got cleaned up and fancied up for the party. With the exception of Frank, Peter, and “Mandalorian” actor Giancarlo Esposito, we were all on the bus and rarin’ to go! The special Friday night gathering, hosted at Castle Doom, would be a wonderful, private meet ‘n’ greet. This would allow the actors to meet the event’s sponsors, and most importantly, some local Honor Families who have had their lives touched by childhood cancer in some way. But here’s how God works. He’ll take your most menial, innocent plans and turn them into something much greater for His purposes. Back in 2018, when I first met Dr. Lou George (affectionately herein called Dr. Doom by myself and other close friends) at his castle outside of Sioux Falls, it was like meeting a soulmate of sorts. He too was a collector of all sorts of things; but mostly pop culture items in the fields of sci-fi, animation, monsters, fantasy, comic books, etc. A man after my own heart! Even the house he built was modeled after Dr. Doom’s castle, as he was BIG into the Fantastic Four comic books! (Hence the term of endearment!) As I toured his amazing home I noticed a large, and very heavy Megatron bust at the center of his collection. I thought to myself, “This would look great with Frank Welker’s signature on it.” But the bust was much too heavy to ship to Frank for his signature. Since we had already started throwing around the idea of getting top Voice Actors to Sioux Falls for a charitable event for the St. Baldrick’s children’s cancer organization, we set out for the seemingly unattainable goal of getting Frank Welker and Peter Cullen to Sioux Falls to sign autographs. Then we hatched the plan of somehow getting them to Castle Doom to sign his stuff! That simple objective, of getting his collectibles signed by his childhood heroes, was turned into something much more impactful and important by God. The resulting sponsor soiree turned into a delightful predicate for what the weekend was all about! It showed the visiting actors why we were there, and set the tone for our overall mission and purpose in Sioux Falls that weekend! The simple objective of getting a few collectibles signed bloomed into a wonderful community event that had popular actors meeting important sponsors and 20 Honor Families in a relaxed setting of food, fun and love. As Dr. Doom stood on his massive staircase introducing the actors to all of the sponsors and families, he pointed us out one by one. After the introductions and the resulting applause, Frank Welker put up his hand to say something. All attention was on Frank. In his legendary Megatron voice he shouted, “All hail, Dr. Lou!” And then, more applause. I could feel Dr. Doom’s “nerdgasm” from across the room. That must’ve been a monumental moment for the doc, as it brought to mind many similar moments I had with the legendary Adam West during the 37 years I knew him. I was SO happy for the doc. His dreams were coming true. All of the hard work he put into this event was coming back at him in a wonderful, positive, karmic way! As I said, it set the tone for the wonderful weekend to come! I spoke with one young man who said that watching “Bleach” was the thing he relied upon to keep him going during his treatment for cancer. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling you get when someone tells you something like that. A lot of us went to an area of Dr. Doom’s house where all of the auction items were stored, so we could add our signatures to them. As I was speaking with one of the guests, she told me how her friend was a massive Riddler fan, but wouldn’t be able to come to the event. I said, “Does she have a phone?” So we called her and I challenged her intellect with a riddle as The Riddler. Officer Mark got a ton of great shots, but walked a fine line of respect as he didn’t want to seem like he was intruding on the special moments between the actors and the Honor Families. But anytime there was a situation where the Honor Families were conscious of a camera’s presence and willingly posed for photos, he would snap away. Out of respect he didn’t photograph any candid moments that occurred with the families. The event was only supposed to go for two hours, but it extended well into the night because, simply…NOBODY WANTED TO LEAVE! Dr. Doom directed the remaining guests to his new guest house; complete with sliding bookcase and new collectible room! He has a replica of Al Capone’s Cadillac Fleetwood car, as well as the car from the movie “Christine.” And Officer Mark and I loved Dr. Doom’s state-of-the-art shooting range! We started to get the idea that Dr. Doom’s proficiency in the supernatural arts was only outweighed by his proficiency with a multitude of firearms! At one point I was overwhelmed with peace and joy, and as everyone mingled in the guest house, I walked out back to enjoy some quiet time. Fireflies danced around as the gentle sounds of a fountain added aquatic ambience to this enchanted evening. My two worlds had converged nicely; Voice Over and Sioux Falls. I was happy that it was a magical mixing of forces. And all against the background of emerging skies of a South Dakota summer evening, and that majestic castle! Though it had been quite humid during the day, the evening settled into a nice, comfortable midsummer groove. It was made more heavenly by a large, soon-to-be full moon overhead. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live! But we all had a very big day ahead of us, so eventually we all climbed back on the bus and headed back into town to the hotel. But I was still majorly buzzed from the majesty of the evening, so I stood at the front desk talking with the staff about the evening. As Peter Cullen emerged from the bank vault (an eatery called The Treasury) I announced his presence. I said, “Optimus F***ing Prime, everyone!” And we all applauded. Peter, being ever the jokester, said in a high, squeaky voice, “Hi everyone!” We laughed. Then he said something in another high-pitched, goofy voice. We laughed again. Then he chilled us to our very core and said, “Autobots. Transform and roll out!” as Optimus Prime. The hair stood up on our arms and we got goosebumps! It still thrills us after all those years! I called and ordered a Boss’ pizza (I hadn’t had one in about three years) and Officer Mark and I ate our pizza downstairs in the lobby and enjoyed the rest of the evening. WHAT A DAY!
Saturday the 9th – THE VOICES AGAINST CANCER INITIATIVE: DAY 2! – The venue for the event was the Washington Pavilion; a wonderful, state-of-the-art arts and performance center. And yes, it was my former high school! For my senior year, I cavorted about those hallways finding my way to sociology class, composition class, et al. While it was nice being in that facility, it had the added element of nostalgia – even though the school hallways themselves barely remained amidst the new design of the facility. But the specters of the past were still present and palpable to me! By the time I arrived at the Pavilion at 11:30 the place was rockin’! It was a VERY respectable turnout for a first year event, and everyone was high on the electricity of the presentation and having fun! I got to see several old friends who found their way to my table. My old Radio and TV class pal Dana showed up with his girlfriend Patty, and one of my old radio buddies Bob showed up to hang out. I was even surprised by my pal John Q. from Wisconsin, who had driven 6 hours to get there! WILD! I signed some photos for a gal whose boyfriend was a huge Renji fan. I asked where he was, and she told me he was on a battleship somewhere in Florida. He was a lieutenant in the Air Force. I said, “Does he have a phone?” She said he did, so we called him. We got his voicemail, but in my best Renji voice I told him that I was also a lieutenant, and if anyone tried to move in on his girlfriend I would personally kick their ass. We laughed and hung up. He later called back and I was able to speak with him personally. When she and her friends met us later in the Photo Op area, I suggested she bring his picture up on her phone so he could be present with us in the photo too! As I was on the phone with my dad giving him instructions on how to make it to the show, I was approached by several people in the local Star Wars 501st. If you weren’t aware, the benevolent Star Wars fan association is called the 501st (the name is in reference to something in the “Star Wars” movies I can’t quite place) and they do a ton of charitable work all over the world – with the full cooperation of George Lucas. They approached my table and I had to cut my conversation with my dad short. It looked like they meant business! In a short ceremony they inducted ME into the 501st as an honorary member, complete with plaques, patches, etc. In recognition of my past work in the “Star Wars” universe (I did some voices in a few video games at the beginning of my Voice Over career) they made me a member. I gave a quick speech, and then told them I was signing that day in memory of little Carlos Cordoba. He was the young lad for whom I did a few Muppet videos as he was going through his battle with cancer. Unfortunately Carlos passed away just after turning three years old. Though I had never met young Carlos, it was clear that the impact of his hellish struggle had affected me. His mom would send me videos of him dancing to the Muppet greetings I sent him. Then my speech turned fairly emotional – which reminded us again of why we were all there. Boy do I know how to bring down a room! But given the main focus of the event, I wanted Carlos’ presence to be known in some small way; in his photograph at my table. My parents eventually arrived and hung out at my table. The administrative and organization prowess exhibited by the Sioux Falls crew was nothing short of miraculous! They had done a terrific job putting it all together! I can honestly say, I was never more proud of Sioux Falls in my life. My two worlds converging wonderfully, indeed! The actors were always shown nothing less than top-tier, Cadillac service. The food in the green room was top notch. And all of the Sioux Falls people were kind, considerate and loving. The actors were unanimously overwhelmed, and all 15 visiting guests had become South Dakota converts! Not ONE of the 15 visiting actors would have hesitated to come back to the state at a moment’s notice! As the monumentally successful day began to wind down, we were all ushered to the main stage for a group photo. As I walked into the theatre I was flooded with all sorts of feelings. Though the theatre looked quite different than it did when I appeared on that same stage over 40 years ago (playing Andy Kaufman and Batman) it still caused emotions to begin to well up inside me. As the Hollywood actors all assembled on the stage for the photo, I stared out into the empty theatre at the seats and was swept back to 1978; my senior year. I was a young Sioux Falls actor, on that stage, in the talent show doing my Andy Kaufman impression. In a brand new city. In a brand new school. I hardly knew anyone. All those emotions came rushing back, and I looked around at the company I was currently surrounded by and felt very, very thankful. My…how things can change over the span of 40 short years. There I was, back on that stage surrounded by actors who provided the voices of some of the most iconic characters in pop culture history! My eyes got a bit misty as I stared out into the empty theatre and whispered in my best Andy Kaufman “Latka” voice…”Dank you veddy much.” Thankful, indeed. My nostalgic spell was broken when 6 foot 7 inch Spencer Wilding came up to me and started chatting. Spencer played Darth Vader in the film “Rogue One,” and a few other “Star Wars”-related projects. I told him it was wild being back on that stage again. As we packed up and headed to the bus, and as the Voices Against Cancer Initiative for 2022 was in the history books, I was the last one of the actors to leave. With the bus packed with 15 happily exhausted actors and friends, I shouted, “Who loves Sioux Falls?” Every person on that bus cheered loudly! Converts…every one of them. We got back to the hotel and we were all given 45 minutes to decompress, clean up and get ready for a wonderful dinner at Morrie’s hosted by Dr. Doom. The magic was still present, and I referred to it as “the afterglow.” As we stood outside waiting for our private dining room to be prepared, Spencer and I chatted once again. The irony of another situation dawned on me. Back in 1980 through 1985 I had a home-made Darth Vader costume I had constructed for local appearances and events. I was an ever-present entity at charity events, shopping mall appearances, and the like. This was years before the art form of ‘cosplay’ was readily accepted, and decades before the term itself was even coined! I said, “Spencer, let’s get a photo together! I want to get a shot of the first Sioux Falls Darth Vader, with the REAL Darth Vader!” After a sumptuous dinner Giancarlo Esposito gave a very eloquent speech about just how much he was touched by the entire weekend. Everyone agreed. As the resulting applause after his speech began to subside I shouted, “Giancarlo for President!” Though there were laughs, everyone thought it might be a pretty good idea. Nobody wanted to follow that speech. But it was followed by a speech from the wife of one of the other Vice Presidents of “Voices Against Cancer.” She was a mother who had lost a son to cancer a few years ago. Officer Mark shot the speeches on video, but due to the candid, personal nature of the evening festivities I’ve decided not to post it. Again, nobody wanted to follow that touching speech. But we demanded that Dr. Doom say something, though he was hesitant. He very eloquently stated his appreciation for everyone coming to town to help launch the now annual event known as “The Voices Against Cancer Initiative.” As the applause from his speech began to subside I shouted, “Dr. Lou for VICE President!” Everyone laughed and agreed, to which Giancarlo replied, “I think we’ve got our ticket!” A father of a boy who died of cancer expressed his appreciation for everything, and explained that he and his son enjoyed the world of “Star Wars” a great deal. As he became emotional, Giancarlo stood up and went over to hug him. Later I told Giancarlo that I wasn’t really that familiar with the shows he’s been on (“Breaking Bad,” “The Mandalorian,” etc.) but I was quickly becoming a fan of his! Nobody wanted to leave, and we ended up staying two hours beyond closing. Everyone was happily tired, but yet still very charged up! We headed back to the room to end a very monumental, memorable day. Given the fact that the good word will spread amongst the Sioux Falls fan community, and the good word will spread amongst the Voice Acting community in L.A., we were already looking ahead to an amazing event in 2023! Stay tuned!
Sunday the 10th – THE AFTERGLOW! – After a very short night, I got up to meet with Mark in the lobby of the Hotel on Phillips to go to lunch with my family. Many of the departing Voice Actors were still lounging about with their travel cases waiting for their rides to the airport to head back home. Apparently numerous flight delays had complicated their timely exits, so they just were waiting around until the updated times of their return flights could be monitored and assessed accordingly. Modern problems. But the VAC team handled the issues as quickly as they could. Mark and I drove over to B&G Milky Way to grab a couple of quick sloppy joes, and then we drove over to a popular local eatery called the Fry’n Pan. Much of my South Dakota family was there, as were my friends Dana and John Q., who was just about ready to hit the road for a 6 hour drive back to Wisconsin. A lady at the table next to ours had two young kids and overheard us talking about cartoons, so we started chatting. Come to find out, her daughter was a huge fan of “The Garfield Show.” Unfortunately I hadn’t brought along any pictures of Jon (the character I voiced in the show) but I promised to send her one in the mail when I returned to Los Angeles. After lunch Mark and I drove to my old radio buddy Scott Maguire’s and visited him, his wife and two adorable doggies. Then it was time to drive Mark to the airport for his return flight to L.A. which, thankfully, hadn’t been a victim of the numerous airline delays suffered earlier in the day by the Voice Actors. I went back to my hotel room to clean up and change clothes, and I met my family for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Once I returned to the hotel I decided I was in need of a good 12 hours of sleep to catch up from the intense (but fun) weekend! It felt great!
Monday the 11th – WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE! – My old pal Scott Maguire and I had lunch in downtown Sioux Falls with another buddy of mine from the old Radio and TV class we took in high school. Come to find out, our server Sage was a huge Riddler and Renji fan. So after lunch I walked back to my hotel room, signed a couple of pictures and returned them to him at the restaurant. During my walk I had a blast walking the downtown streets of Sioux Falls and reminiscing. Many of the stores and shops that used to be there when I was younger had now changed to different things. One of the radio stations I used to work at was now an investment firm, but the large picture window where we sat doing our radio shows was still intact. The control room was now a front office. Memories. Later I drove to a large family dinner (back at the Fry’n Pan!), but first I made a stop at the UPS store to pick up a large box so I could pack up all of the neat things I had acquired during my trip. The family dinner was great as I got to visit with many of my nieces and nephews, uncles, aunts, and of course, my folks! When I got back to the hotel I met up with my old pal “Hutch,” whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. When I was living in Aberdeen, South Dakota worshipping Starsky and Hutch, my pal Steve Hatt was the blonde “Hutch” to my “Starsky.” In fact, we still call each other “Hutch” and “Starsk.” Steve has been living in Sioux Falls for quite a while now, and is in fact the very reason I became friends with Dr. Doom. Many years ago Steve was working on a construction project for Dr. Doom and knew that he was a guy I needed to meet. Had it not been for “Hutch,” I would most likely not have been there that particular weekend, and Voices Against Cancer never would have been. Also, Hutch helped to remodel the very hotel in which we were sitting. He said he was on the crew that helped to transform (see what I did there?) the former bank into the hotel facility in which we were now sitting. What a small world indeed! He had to head back home, so I went upstairs to finish packing up to get ready for my return flight home to L.A. the next day. I was praying that I would avoid any of the multitude of airline delays suffered by my cohorts a day earlier. I ordered another Boss’ pizza, enjoyed it immensely, and turned in for the night.
Tuesday the 12th – TIME FOR ME TO FLY! – Checking out of my room was easy, as the entire thing had been handled by the Voices Against Cancer team. I drove to a restaurant called Granite City to meet up with my pals Dana, Maguire, and my folks. We had a nice lunch, and then I gassed up the SUV so I could return it, sealed up my UPS box, and checked in on my flights to see if everything was running smoothly. At that point everything was ON TIME! It was looking good! Even though the first few days in town were warm and humid, the last couple of days were quite pleasant, as the humidity had subsided considerably. The weather was lovely! I checked into my flight, checked my luggage bag and my UPS box, and settled in to wait for my flight’s departure. The flight from Sioux Falls to my connection in Minneapolis was on a small jet, and I was getting settled in the First Class section with my iPod and headphones. A very large, very obnoxious obese man was seated a few rows behind me. Even over the music in my headphones I could hear him complaining that the seats were too small for him, and he demanded to be moved to the one empty seat in First Class so he could have more room. The Flight Attendant explained that it wasn’t possible to do that, and he started going on and on about how “the almighty dollar was more important than humanity.” Apparently he thought that he was entitled to fly in a better class of seat simply because he had the inability to put the fork down, or have an occasional salad. I know that everyone was thinking the same thing…LOSE SOME WEIGHT! He then started to berate his mother with whom he was flying. I just shut down and turned my music up louder, and I feared an escalation would prevent the plane from making a timely departure. Sitting ahead of me was a severely handicapped man who boarded the plane from a wheelchair. He told the Flight Attendant he would switch with the man because he was tired of “hearing him bitch.” She thanked him, but refused the offer. I just don’t get why people like that obese man feel their own lack of self-control automatically qualifies them for service and amenities they don’t deserve. Luckily we left on time and arrived in Minneapolis on time. It was people like him that made me glad I haven’t flown in three years. I had plenty of time during my layover at the Minneapolis airport to get dinner and sit and people watch. Some people were still masked, but the majority of them were darting about with their luggage like normal, happy to be traveling. It was great seeing things back to normal again. I was even happier to see a brief rainstorm pelt the tarmac with moisture, and the beautiful double rainbow that resulted! Perhaps this was a good luck sign! I climbed on board the plane home in a timely manner, and we got back a bit earlier than expected. My driver picked me up at LAX and took me home, where I enjoyed the first really good shower I had in five days! I paid my house and pet sitter Emily and she went on her way. The animals and house were all in good shape, and I reflected upon the amazing event in which I had just participated. People are already talking about next year’s event, which will be held at the Sioux Falls Convention Center! I think we’ve really started something!
Wednesday July 13 – HEY IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME AGAIN! – Because of the time difference, and the wacky schedule I’d been keeping, I got up early for some reason. I called the office of a medical specialist to straighten out an issue. They called a few days ago to confirm an appointment I had for an upcoming screening. But the problem was, my appointment was on Thursday the 14th. But they called to confirm my appointment for Tuesday the 12th. I left a message on their system that they had the wrong date, and I needed to see if I was still coming in on the 14th or not. Come to find out, the nurse I needed to see decided she wouldn’t be coming in on Thursday, and her assistant was supposed to move all of her Thursday appointments to Tuesday. However, I was out of town Tuesday so I couldn’t have made the switch anyway. Plus, her assistant never called me to let me know of the change. I was glad to know the error wasn’t on MY end! Like my dad’s always told me, “You’ve got to double check EVERYONE!” So now I won’t be seeing the nurse for my screening until sometime in mid-August. I called my mechanic who had been working on the problems I had been having with my Mustang and he said it was ready to roll! At 3 I got in my Gran Torino (which I had put on the trickle charger overnight to make sure it was ready to roll) and drove to the mechanic’s. I had one of their guys follow me to my auxiliary parking spot, I put the Torino to bed, and he drove me back to the shop. I paid my bill and climbed back in the Mustang and headed out. Maybe a semblance of normalcy will now prevail for a while. I stopped by my mailbox to pick up my packages, and then I drove to Paty’s to wait for my pal Brittney to arrive. I had just gotten a new auction catalog in the mail from Heritage Auctions and I had fun listening to music on my headset and looking through the catalog. After lunch I got home to do some work, started compiling the enormous amount of material for Wally’s Week, looked through the enormous of fantastic photos taken by Officer Mark at the Voices Against Cancer event, and grabbed a short nap. Later I did my nightly auditions and spent some time organizing stuff on my computer.
Thursday the 14th – BAD-TTERIES! – It was great to catch up with my pal Sara again at Paty’s for lunch! After we ate I drove my Mustang to the car wash for a much-needed cleaning. I stopped by the cleaners to drop off a comforter, and scoped out the location of a studio that was right next to my cleaners. I’d be recording a video game session there later that evening, and I had never been to that studio before, so I figured I’d eyeball the location in preparation for the session. I got home and spent some time with the pets and continued to organize my Voices Against Cancer photos. I drove back to the studio I spotted earlier and checked in for the session. It was a fun, quick session. When I was finished I had time to slide by Weinerschnitzel to get a couple of chili cheese dogs with kraut. I put the top down, cranked some tunes, and enjoyed my meal in the gorgeous L.A. night. I even topped it off with a strawberry sundae! I came back home to record an audition, and then I grabbed a nap. I did a little work around the house, and then made some spaghetti and watched another episode of the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series. Now that I’ve kind of wrapped my head around the fact that it’s going to be rather goofy (this one featured a guy in a gorilla costume watching slides while they monitored his anger level) I’m enjoying it a lot more. Just as I was about to turn in shortly after dawn, I came downstairs and heard a rapid beeping sound. It was my house alarm beeping. I called the alarm company to see what the cause was, and was told that the back-up battery for my system was failing. That meant a dead battery. What’s the deal with all of the dead and dying batteries I’ve been having lately?! I needed to detach the dying battery from the leads and discard it. I’ll buy a new battery soon and replace it. Gotta have good security at Planet Wallywood, after all!
Friday the 15th – SLEEP IN! – It sure felt good to spend the day sleeping in and recuperating from the whirlwind of the past week! I worked around the house in an effort to continue my quest to restore normalcy. Later I headed to the Smoke House restaurant to meet up with my pal Joe Garner and catch up. We both had so much going on the past several weeks that it was nice to exchange stories of our happenings and get caught up. I came home with a belly full of delicious steak and napped for a bit. Later I had a nice late-night stroll through the neighborhood with Roxy and tried to enjoy a cigar. But it was old and dry and wouldn’t stay lit, so I ended up throwing most of it away.
Saturday the 16th – FABULOUS FRIENDS! – The day began with a lunch meeting with my pals Sara and Edi at Paty’s. The day was fabulous and we had a great 2 hour lunch outside on the patio. I stopped by the cleaners to pick up my freshly-cleaned comforter, and I stopped at the grocery store to get some supplies. I drove over to the hardware store to get a replacement battery for my alarm system and then headed home. My friends Sabrina and Emily came by and we took off for dinner at Miceli’s. Sabrina was craving Italian food so we settled in for a nice meal while listening to the singing waiters and waitresses. I chatted with Jeff the piano player and asked if he knew the song “Rainbow Connection.” He said he did, and I told him about my replica Kermit puppet. He said to bring it by and we’d do the song the next time I’m in! Fantastic! We dropped Emily off at the house where she was now house-sitting, enjoyed a quick dip in their hot tub, and then Sabrina and I came back to Planet Wallywood to plan the evening. I made my traditional Saturday night Super Salad, and Sabrina enjoyed some leftover Miceli’s lasagna. We enjoyed watching “Dark Crystal” from 1982. Jim Henson was such a visionary genius. It’s difficult to believe that film didn’t do well when it was first released. But all these years later, it’s nothing less than iconic.
Sunday the 17th – SLEEPY, SNOOZY SUNDAY! – Given the past few weeks I’ve had, it sure felt good to sleep in. I did a little work on the computer in the afternoon, but then napped again. I really needed to catch up on some sleep, since the trip to South Dakota was so intense (but fun!). It was a hot day out anyway, so it felt good to stay inside with the pets where it was cool. Roxy has been eating very well, and I couldn’t be happier. Granted her back leg strength isn’t quite what it used to be, but I’m so glad to still have her, and in such amazing condition. Later in the evening I drove over to Denny’s to get my usual order, and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk” before bed.
And how were YOUR two week??!!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
It was a fabulous honor to be inducted into the 501st!
Here’s that interview segment, and you MUST hear this magical moment!
Enjoying an ice cream treat outside the B&G Milky Way on a South Dakota summer night with my folks sure brought back some great memories.