RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Years before I had my own “Starsky & Hutch” Gran Torino, I posed next to the one that George Barris had up for auction. I never get sick of looking at these gorgeous cars!
I’ve loved all of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” music since I first discovered the film back in 1982. But one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack is Tim Curry’s “I’m Going Home.” Beautiful!
Monday the 25th – A BETTER BODY! – In order to get my Mustang into the body shop for front bumper repair, I had to get up very early and drive it to the shop. I dropped it off and got picked up by my pal Sara. She drove us to Lancer’s where we had breakfast, and then she dropped me off at my auxiliary garage so I could fire up my Gran Torino. I stopped by my mailbox to pick up my packages and then headed home. Later Roxy’s groomer came by to give her a bath. While she was out in the back getting bathed I recorded my daily auditions. I worked around the house to get some work done, and then drove to Taco Bell to get some dinner. I enjoyed a short nap, and then got up to pay bills and write Wally’s Week. I did a little work writing the script for a personal Muppet project I’m working on. By the time Roxy and I got outside for our nightly stroll through the neighborhood a new day was starting to dawn. But apparently we’re getting our traditional “June Gloom” in late July. It was a gorgeous overcast morning; I call it a “blue morning,” because of the gorgeous blue hue it casts in the sky. I came inside and made a salad and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk.” This time, the Hulk was on a 747 and had to land it. Bill Bixby’s former “Courtship of Eddie’s Father” costar Brandon Cruz was a guest star!
Tuesday the 26th – COUNTERFEIT! – The started with a quick trip to CVS to pick up some supplies. Then I hit the bank to deposit some money. While I was at the window, the teller next to mine had trouble with a certain 100 dollar bill in their tabulation machine. She handed the bill to my teller and asked her to run it. My teller ran it and again the machine kicked it out. COUNTERFEIT! I asked her if it was phony and she said it was. WOW! I’ve been banking for decades and have NEVER seen an actual counterfeit 100 dollar bill! When I got to my Torino I saw two older guys hanging around my car looking it over. When they spoke to me it seemed like these guys were right out of a Scorsese movie! They seemed like a couple of mob guys! Since I had just withdrawn a substantial amount of cash I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit nervous. But they were cool guys and they just wanted to chat about cars. I drove off to my mailbox to pick up my packages, mailed off some bills, and then hit Paty’s to enjoy a salad on the patio. I went to Staples to get a new micro SD card for my video camera. I picked up some meds for Roxy at her vet’s office. It was a gorgeous day, and it was a blast driving the Gran Torino around! In fact, at one point when I was driving down Ventura Boulevard, the “Starsky & Hutch” theme came on my iPod. I put the pedal to the metal and sped down the boulevard to the music. It felt great! But it was only for a short time. I didn’t want to get into trouble, but for that short amount of time it was pretty magical! I went home to relax, took a short nap, and then got up later to do my nightly auditions. A while back I bought two “What Not” Muppets at Toys ‘R’ Us. These are generic, blank Muppets that come with a variety of eyes, noses, wigs, etc. so you can turn them into any character you want. You could also buy a variety of different costumes for them. I bought a cheerleader costume and a 50’s greaser costume. I’ve had them in the Puppet Room for a long time, and recently my friend Sabrina developed an interest in learning how to operate them. She particularly liked the cheerleader puppet, considering she used to be a cheerleader in high school. But the puppets only came with one arm rod each. I decided I wanted to rig them both with two arm rods, so I found an old, vintage black hanger in my costume closet. Some of my old, original 80’s clothes were still on them! I cut them to size for new arm rods and bent the tips to be inserted into the puppets’ wrists. I was afraid I would need to put a small slice in their right wrists in which to insert the tips of the rods, but upon closer inspection, the puppets already had a small pocket in their right wrists! No doubt this was so that left-handed puppeteers could take the rod out of the puppet’s left wrist, and put the rod in the right wrist. It would have been nice if they would have included another rod, but I wasn’t complaining. The black hanger worked out very well. I put some suede leather at the bottom of the rod so the puppeteer’s hand would be able to grip them a little better. I had recently bought some pom-poms for a cheerleader doll on eBay, and the scale of these pom-poms were perfect for this little cheerleader puppet. I strapped them to her hands and they looked amazing. Sabrina named the puppet Lisa, but I call her Cheer Lita. I made some buffalo mac and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk” before bed.
Wednesday the 27th – UKULELE MEMORIES! – The body shop called to tell me my Mustang was ready (already!) but I wouldn’t be able to go get a ride to get it until Thursday. I enjoyed lunch at Paty’s with my pals Edi and Elliot Lurie, and then went to my mailbox to pick up my packages. Late last week my dad told me about how he gave my niece his old ukulele so she could start learning how to play it. He originally bought the uke when he was 17 (he’s now 87) so the uke is easily 70 years old. But my niece told him it was so old that it wasn’t able to stay in tune any longer, so she gave it back to him. I told him I’d like to have it to preserve as a family heirloom. My dad got a lot of use out of that old thing, and he even recorded a record with a pal when he was a kid. It was one of those little booths where you could go in and pop in a quarter and make a 1 minute record. Many years ago I was able to play the record and make a digital copy of it for posterity. It’s wild hearing my dad sing when he was a teenager! He and his pal Veryl recorded “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” on the A side, and on the B side they recorded “Fool Such as I.” I told my dad to take the uke to the local UPS store, have them pack it safely and ship it, and I’d cover the postage. He also said he had his original “How To Play The Ukelele” book that he was going to send as well. Neat! Well, they both arrived safely and securely and I can’t wait to start putting the display together! It will have a place of honor in my collection! I got home and took a short nap, and then got up later to do my nightly auditions. I also started making the “assembly edit” of the Muppet piece I’m doing for a friend. It’s where you don’t have all the pieces you need yet, but you start assembling the scenes you have in order to get a feel for the flow of the piece.
Thursday the 28th – PULL UP TO THE BUMPER! – Since my Mustang was ready, and warmer weather was on the way (necessitating the need for my air conditioned Mustang) I drove my Gran Torino to my auxiliary garage and put her to bed for a while. I normally don’t drive it much during August because it’s too hot, and the car doesn’t have great air conditioning. I walked over to B.J.’s restaurant and got a table and waited for my pal Edi to come eat lunch with me. When we were done she’d drive me to the body shop to get my Mustang back. After getting my car back I drove to Michael’s art store to see if they had a suitably-sized display case for my dad’s uke. But everything they had was just an inch or two too small. So I’d do what every other red-blooded American does when they can’t find something in a store… go on Amazon! I drove into the garage and took the opportunity to dig through my bins of fabrics and furs. I found the yardage of the fur I used on my Rowlf replica Muppet and dug it out. Since the Muppet video I’m putting together would be viewed by a couple of twin girls, I wanted to make Rowlf a twin! I could do this by utilizing the original Rowlf head I built back in 2017, and making a fake neck and body for him. If you recall, I replaced the original head I made with a slightly smaller version that worked better for scale. I love the Rowlf I have now, but the original head is still very nice too. It’s just too big. But now, with this extra fur, I’ll have a “second” Rowlf (essentially) that will act as his twin for this video. I got the idea that since I had all that fur left, I would have my seamstress Alex make a second Rowlf body and attach it to the old head, just to have a second Rowlf for no apparent reason. My first Rowlf was made extra-long so he could be seen sitting at a piano, with two puppeteers effectively hidden underneath. But I know they also had “bag” Rowlf for close-up shots where he didn’t need to be at a piano. These Rowlf puppets had shorter, more flexible bodies with no foam rubber understructure in them. My main Rowlf has foam pieces inside that make it look like he has forearms, shoulders, and even shoulder blades and a fat tummy! So the next time I go to Alex’s I’m going to be sure to take the Rowlf body pattern in with the fur and see if she’ll cut one out and stitch one up! Should be fairly easy! That way I’ll have a second fully functional Rowlf replica Muppet. Since I’ve also put on bigger pupils on the second Rowlf head, I’m going to probably replace the pupils on the first Rowlf head to match. But that work will have to be done very delicately so as not to ruin the paint on the eye pieces! I did it with my Oscar, so I think I can probably do it on this pretty easily. It’s always better to put bigger pupils on than smaller ones, because the glue on the original velvet pupils will leave some residue on the eye pieces that would be difficult to cover up with smaller pupils. I got on the internet after putting some stuff away and found the exact case I needed for my dad’s uke! Wild! It’s built for a violin and bow, but it will serve my purposes nicely! Proof that you really CAN find anything on the internet! I did some work around the house, took a short nap, and did my nightly auditions later. Then I drove to Denny’s to get some food to go and enjoyed it while watching another episode of “The Incredible Hulk” before bed. This one guest starred my old friend Jennifer Darling! WILD!
Friday the 29th – SHOOT STUFF! – Most of the day was spent organizing stuff for a long video shoot we’d be doing all day Saturday. I cut some fur and safety-pinned it to my first Rowlf head to create an ersatz body for him. Then I put a t-shirt on my Cookie Monster replica for the bit we’d be shooting with him. I had a call with a computer team to get their opinions about why my back-up drive wasn’t working properly. They’re going to ask some of their engineers and get back to me on Monday regarding my technical issue. After the call was completed I fully intended to drive to the local lighting store to get some advice about LED track heads, and then get some groceries. But the afternoon was getting away from me and I really didn’t feel like fighting Friday afternoon L.A. traffic. So I took a short nap. Later I organized stuff on my computer, printed some script pages we’d need for Saturday’s shoot, packed up the puppets I’d be using, made some spaghetti and watched another episode of “The Incredible Hulk.” This episode featured Julie Adams as the guest villain. She starred in the old “Creature from the Black Lagoon” film and was a fan favorite. She was delightful to meet in person and always loved meeting all the “Creature” fans. But now, here she was in 1977, once again dealing with a green creature! But this time it didn’t swim in a lagoon…it was the Hulk! Funny!
Saturday the 30th – ABSOLUTE PLEASURE! – Since I had awakened a lot earlier than I had anticipated, I decided to run over to the store quickly and get some groceries. I came back home and put them away just as my friend Sabrina arrived to help out on the shoot. The plan was to shoot in my church’s social hall from 4-6, take the crew to dinner, and then shoot from 8-10 at my house. But the guy at the church called around 3:15 and said he had just gotten there, and that I could come over earlier if I wanted. So Sabrina loaded up the car with puppet stuff and headed over. We got set up in the social hall, and soon after my friends Mark, Sara, Chris, David and Kayla arrived to help. Mark would do the camera work, David would direct, his friend Kayla would puppeteer, Sabrina and Chris would help with lighting, and Sara would provide an extra hand for Rowlf at the piano! We got all the Rowlf segments shot, so we moved to the kitchen to shoot with Cookie Monster and Beautiful Day. The segments worked out beautifully! While the rest of the gang headed to Paty’s to grab a table, I hurried home to feed the pets. Then Sabrina and I drove to Paty’s to join everyone. We got some funny Cookie Monster photos and videos at the restaurant, and even made their Instagram feed! Then we headed back to my house to finish up shooting the segments we needed. 10 puppets later, we had all the stuff we needed! Sabrina even got to perform with Lisa aka Cheer Lita for the video, and she did a darn good job! When the crew left at 10 I grabbed a nap, as I was exhausted. That puppet work is hard work! When I got up later Mark had sent me all of the footage we shot, so I started isolating it and cutting it into the “assembly edit” of the piece. What fun! Because we didn’t have a separate audio crew running audio off my headset, I would have to redub most all of the puppet’s voices. But I’ve been doing stuff like that for decades so it should be easy! Close to dawn I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad, and Sabrina and I watched “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Unbelievably she had never seen it before, but she LOVED it!
Sunday the 31st – PUPPET STUFF! – Every time I do a puppet project I forget how much work it is, and that it’s something you really need to be in shape for! All that bending down, twisting around, and odd positioning can be hard on a person’s body if they’re not used to it. So needless to say I was beat! But later Sabrina and I were able to get over to Bob’s Big Boy for dinner, as she was in the mood for a hamburger. Plus, she had never been to Bob’s before. I got her a souvenir t-shirt and even took her photo next to the Big Boy statue out front. When we got back to the house Sabrina took off and I headed back to bed to keep napping. I got up later to tweak the edit for the puppet piece and prep for a new week. What fun!
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
You just never know who you’re going to run into at Paty’s in Toluca Lake!