RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
I got this pic from my friend Christian Malmin, whom I’ve known for close to 35 years. The photo arrived in my inbox without much explanation, so I automatically assumed it was me – cosplaying Michael Myers with a homemade mask back in 1986. But later Chris told me that it was in fact HIM, and he had borrowed my costume for Halloween at school. This shot is really a glimpse into a kinder place and time.
While at Barone’s last Saturday night, Dino came up on the music system and sang “Everybody Loves Somebody.” I love this song, and Dean Martin was a fabulous singer. In fact, I walked around the grocery store later doing some shopping singing this song out loud, much to the chagrin of Michelle!
Monday the 26th – TORINO TROUBLES! – When I opened the hood of my Gran Torino I noticed that, not only was the alternator belt gone, one of the other belts in the three-pulley system was riding on the EDGE of the pulley, and not down in the groove. This did not look good. I’m glad I didn’t drive it to my mechanic’s because it would have been trouble. It most likely would have come off too. So my pal Mike said he would drop by with his toolkit and have a look. I had already made a bunch of contingency plans for what to do in different scenarios. I called a nearby electrical place and they agreed to take a look in case Mike couldn’t fix it. But I would have to drive it over there, and with the wonky belt it might have been dangerous. I would then ask Mike to drive me into Burbank to my Mustang and I would drive that to my house so I had transportation for my sessions this week. I had also arranged with a neighbor to borrow a parking pass so I could park my Mustang on the property overnight without getting a ticket, and depending upon when I got the Torino back, I would drive it back to the auxiliary garage on Tuesday. If I got it back Tuesday morning, I would walk over to the electrical place and drive the Torino to my Tuesday dentist appointment (my dentist is a HUGE “Starsky & Hutch” fan), and then park it over at the auxiliary garage. Then I would take a cab from the garage to my home. If the Torino wouldn’t be ready until later in the afternoon on Tuesday, I would drive my Mustang to the appointment and then back home again, pick up the Torino when it was ready, and drive it to the auxiliary garage and take a cab home. I had it all planned out. But thankfully Mike was on the job! I didn’t know this but Mike’s late father was a Master Mechanic. And Mike had spent a lot of time in the garage learning from him as a kid. So putting on three belts on an old car was nothing to him. But he noticed that the belts were on my pulleys INSIDE OUT! Let me explain. On cars after 1980, he said there was a serpentine belt that drove all the pulleys. On the older cars all the belts were independent. On the top of the belts it has a smooth surface. On the bottom of the belts it’s fitted with tapered “cogs” that fit into the groove of the pulleys and help drive them with the maximum amount of friction. But the cogs on the belts of my car were facing UP, not down into the groove. Mike surmised that this was the reason my belt flew off my alternator in the first place. Hard to believe I had been driving this car around like that for 10 years! WILD! He dropped all of the pulleys with a ratchet wrench, and flipped the two belts over so the cogs fitted into the groove. We looked up the part number for an alternator belt for a 1974 Gran Torino and headed to the nearby Auto Zone. But when Mike looked at the belt with the proper part number he said it was much too small. Strangely, Auto Zone had a completely different part number for a 1974 Gran Torino in their database. So they showed us the belt that matched their data, and another belt that was one size larger. Just to be sure, I bought both belts and we were on our way. Unfortunately, just like the Three Bears in the famous story, one was too long, and one was too short. So, back to Auto Zone Mike went to find one that was juuuuuuust right. Mike suggested that, at some point in my car’s restoration, an alternator was installed from a different type of car, which would be the reason the part number for a 1974 Gran Torino’s alternator didn’t match with what I had in my car. He said my alternator could have come from a Ranchero, or a Gran Torino station wagon. In any event, he came back with the right belt, he dropped the pulley, installed the belt and it was good as gold! I need to have a talk with my mechanic to see why this error wasn’t caught earlier. My pal Officer Mark picked up some VIP weekend passes to Midsummer Night’s Scream, happening in Pasadena in August. I hope to hang out all weekend, meet some people, and promote the Christoween project. I’m having some 4” X 4” promotional magnets made up to hand out at the event! I enjoyed a nice, quiet evening and later I made some lasagna and watched another episode of “Mod Squad.” The first few episodes of the final season weren’t very good, but they’ve been getting better. And tonight’s episode held several surprises! First of all, they got a really nice shot of MY CHURCH – circa 1974! A stolen car pulled over to a curb and parked in front of a vacant lot. That vacant lot is now a neighborhood market. It’s right across from my church. When the car pulls up, you get a GREAT shot of my church, and it looks virtually identical to how it looks today. I nearly wet myself! The second surprise was seeing my ol’ pal Larry D. Mann as the main villain. Larry played lots of character roles in all kinds of movies and TV shows. He also voiced Yukon Cornelius in the 1964 “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” special. He also attended one of my movie parties back in 2001 when we screened “Rudolph” and spoke and signed autographs. Larry is ALSO the father of a Voice Actor pal of mine – Danny Mann! But if that wasn’t enough, the credits revealed that the script was written by Stanley Ralph Ross – another buddy of mine! Stanley was most famous for writing many episodes of the “Batman” TV series, co-producing the “Wonder Woman” TV series, and voicing Gorilla Grodd in the old “Super Friends” cartoon. He was a good guy. I had seen Stanley in a small uncredited on-camera role on “Mod Squad” a few episodes ago and thought that was pretty cool. But now it makes total sense. While he was selling the script, he probably pitched them on doing an on-camera role, and because he had a very specific look, they cast him as a bar patron trying to pick up on the female bartender. Fabulous! I love this business! There was lots to love about that episode!
Tuesday the 27th – DENTIST, DELICIOUS, AND DENNY’S! – Since my dentist is such a huge “Starsky & Hutch” fan, I wanted to surprise him by showing him the Torino. He loved it! After my check-up and cleaning I headed over to my mailbox to get my packages, had a salad at Paty’s, and headed home to do some work. Later, my girlfriend Michelle came by to start her weekend and we went to grab a bite at the only place open at that hour – Denny’s. One of my favorite places on earth!
Wednesday the 28th – WEDNESDAY WALK AND WACKY WOMAN! – Michelle and I strapped on our walking shoes and headed out on some errands. The first stop was the hardware store to get a round file and some plastic glue for my Cookie Monster replica Muppet project. When we walked over by the local grocery store, some lady had parked her car in the entrance to the store in the ONCOMING traffic lane. When the security guard came over to tell her to move it, she just stood there blocking traffic yelling at him and complaining about some b—h that had pulled in front of her. Meanwhile the traffic trying to get IN to the parking lot was backing up on to the main street. People were honking, but the lady was not getting in her car and moving. She must’ve been out of her mind or something, because she was calling the guard all sorts of things. I think this lockdown has made people snap, personally. It actually turned out to be quite funny as a few people gathered around to watch. The guard pulled out his pepper spray and said, “Don’t make me spray you, lady!” It was funny, but actually pretty pathetic. That lady should have been in a mental institution, most likely. The guard photographed her and her license plate, she finally got in her car and left (yelling and screaming all the time) and he went to report her to the cops. Absolutely nuts! I went to Fed Ex Office to get some Certificates of Haunt-thenticity printed on a nice faux parchment paper. I sign them and send them out with every Christoween item I sell. Then I went over to CVS to get a few photos printed to mail to a friend in the UK. Michelle and I walked back to Planet Wallywood and then she took off for dinner with a friend. I realized I had forgotten to pick up Roxy’s prescription at the vet’s office, so on her way to dinner Michelle dropped me off. I got the meds, stopped at Subway to get a sandwich, and walked back home to enjoy it. I knew I had a session on Wednesday which was a follow-up to the video game session I did last week in Burbank. I just figured that I would be going back to the same studio in Burbank, and I planned on swapping out my cars at the auxiliary garage – which was literally blocks from the studio! But after reading the booking e-mail more carefully, I realized that this session was going to be all the way down in Santa Monica! WHAT? It didn’t make much sense to me to do the first half of the session in one studio, and the second half in another studio. But hey, it’s their game. So now my plans had to be completely changed. I was NOT going to drive my Gran Torino all the way down to Santa Monica! That’s the kind of news that ruins a person’s day. So at some point I’d need to swap cars BEFORE I left for the session. My mechanic asked that I drop the Torino by so he could have a look at the belts, so I figured I’d get up early, drive the Torino by the Burbank Auto Doctor, have them open the hood and take a look, swap cars back to the Mustang, and then head over to Santa Monica for the session. I did my auditions and made a Tombstone pizza.
Thursday the 29th – WHEW! THIS IS AN EXHAUSTING ONE! – In order to get everything done I needed to do, I planned the timing out meticulously. I was up at 11, out the door with Michelle and the Torino by 11:45, and over at the Burbank Auto Doctor by noon. He said the belts looked good and we chatted about why the cogs were upside down all this time. He said a certain brand of belt has the cogs pointing upwards because it aids in their flexing ability. But these belts were not that brand, so he said they looked correct. I parked the Torino in my auxiliary garage, got the Mustang out, and we headed to KFC to get some lunch. I got back home, had a little time to do some work, and then headed to Santa Monica for the session at 4. I made it a half hour early, so I sat in my car relaxing until it was time to go in. But the two hour session was actually only an hour and a half. The studio is now called Formosa, but it used to be called POP, or Pacific Ocean Post. I have a lot of great memories recording there – I did four years for Old Navy there, I did a Lord of the Rings video game there, and lots of other stuff. Good times. With a few minor architectural changes, the studio was essentially the same. It was fabulous to see it again! The traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was looking forward to going to the Smokehouse for dinner to enjoy a nice steak, but when we got there we found out that, without a reservation, the wait time was 35-45 minutes! YIKES! Michelle and I were starving so we just decided to drive over to Bob’s Big Boy instead, where we got seated right away. I got home to relax after a VERY exhausting and busy day. Later I did my nightly auditions, paid some bills, reconciled my receipts, and organized some mail that had to go out the next day. I prepped a few things for my visit to see my puppet lady at Alex in Wonderland on Friday, and I hit the hay! WHEW is right!
Friday the 30th – EYES, NOSE, MOUTH, ETC! – It was a nice day so I walked over to a local restaurant to meet up with my ol’ pal Joe Garner. We like to meet every so often to catch each other up on what’s been going on. I walked back home and grabbed a shower, drove over to a studio in North Hollywood for another 2 hour video game session, and had such a blast we finished up in 45 minutes! I took the two belts back to Auto Zone that didn’t fit on my Gran Torino, and then went to the post office to mail off some Christoween merchandise that I sold. I got a delicious strawberry shake at Del Taco, and drove over to Alex in Wonderland to discuss the head covering for my new 10% Rowlf replica Muppet that I’m making. We also talked about the mouth for the Cookie Monster I’m making as well. I gave her the mouth pieces and she’s going to build a fabric covering that includes a “throat chute” between the top and bottom mouth pieces. That way he can actually eat stuff! She also made a new nose for my Mahna Mahna replica Muppet, as I was never happy with the original one I received when I had it made. This one was magnificent looking! She stitched it on while I was there and I took him home with me. I drove home to feed the pets, do some work on-line, and I packed up a few more Christoween items to ship. I took the test eye for my Cookie Monster and decided to find the right size screw to attach the pupil. The pupil has a hole in it and a small screw goes through it and into the eyeball. When the puppet moves it causes the pupil to spin around on the screw, which gives Cookie that googly-eyed effect. I found the perfect screw in my stuff, but unfortunately only one. I need to hit the hardware store and get more of these. But they’re so small, I’m thinking the craft store might be a better option. It looked wonderful! I snapped the stem of the eyeball (a fortified Christmas ornament) into the plastic eye support plate and it looked perfect! This is going to work out great! I went to Denny’s to get some food and headed back home to eat it and watch another episode of “Mod Squad.”
Saturday the 31st – BAZOOKA JOE! – Given the intense week I had just had, I decided to take it easy most of the day. Michelle had just finished up a photo shoot, so she stopped by so we could go get dinner at Barone’s. When we walked in I saw an elderly gentleman with a World War 2 Vet cap on. I remembered him as “Bazooka Joe,” whom I had met a few years back. I spoke to the people he was with and we were seated right next to them. What a fantastic evening! We chatted a lot, and found out that Joe’s now over 100 years old! I got a picture of Joe and Michelle, and they started talking about swing dancing. So Joe and Michelle did some impromptu dancing right there in front of the table! It was fabulous! The lady in Joe’s party said she used to be a belly dancer and had done a lot of work with the band Queen. One of Michelle’s favorite bands is Queen. Then they started talking about Florida. The lady had lived in Michelle’s hometown of Stewart at one point. WILD! “Bazooka Joe” sat down at our table and told me some fantastic stories about World War 2 and his involvement. He said he would shoot his bazooka at the track of the German tanks, disabling the track on one side, and the tank would go around in circles. Then he’d call in artillery and it was “nighty night, Nazis!” I could listen to him tell stories all night. Oddly enough, he doesn’t “talk” old. His voice is very clear and he tells wonderful tales! Another strange coincidence is that he lives in the same housing complex where my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley used to live! What a fantastic night! After dinner we stopped at a grocery store to get some items, and then headed home to do some writing. Michelle had another shoot the next day so she took off to get some rest. This is the time of year that all the spiders come down from the trees and start hunting. While walking Roxy through the complex I saw a HUGE spider on a gorgeous web. I’m always careful to notice where the webs are anchored, so I don’t accidentally walk through them and ruin their beautiful work. We’ve been inundated with lots of flying insects and I’m glad to see the spiders back to thin the herd. I took Roxy on another walk as the sun was just starting to come up, and I saw the big spider devouring his web. Yup, he was done hunting for the night, and he was packing up his web and going home to nap. It was AMAZING! I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Saint Salad and watched a great episode of “The Saint” before bed.
Sunday the 1st – THE HOT IS HERE! – The summer weather arrived right on schedule, as the first day of August was pretty toasty. I rested most of the day, ate some leftover Barone’s pizza, and did my auditions that were due on Monday. A few of them were pretty labor intensive. One was for a lead in an animated pilot and it was a lot of material. It required a lot of rehearsal to get it right. Another one had very specific and complicated directions regarding the emotional levels of the lines. So it took a lot of thought and research to get it right. I decided that the Cookie Monster eyes in the eye support plate that I made were too far apart. I like them close together but not touching. Depending on which version of Cookie Monster you see, he varies in not only distance between the eyes, but fur color. I made a second eye plate, sanded it and drilled the holes in it, but the eyes ended up being right next to each other. I adjusted the measurements, moved the eye holes slightly apart on the eye support plate, and drilled the holes. I snapped in the eyeballs and the third one was perfect! Just a slight bit of room between the eyes, without it being too much! Just like the Three Bears, and the belts on the Torino, the third one was juuuuuust right! The weather report says it’s going to be very hot in L.A. at the beginning of the week, so I think I’m going to just lay low this week and work on some personal projects. If the temp dips suitably one day, I may take a walk and do some errands. Once again I walked Roxy at dawn, said hello to all my spider friends in the complex, made some chicken noodle soup and hit the hay.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
Roxy likes to stay cool in the summer months by lying in front of the fan and blowing her fur.
Here’s the scene in “Mod Squad” where you can clearly see my church as it looked in 1974.
I’m liking the spin on these Cookie Monster eyes!
This past week I got in the final mix for my stupid new comedy song “Needle In My Nuts.” If you’re looking to lose a few brain cells, check it out! I hope you enjoy it!