RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
Thanks to my friend Jenalyn for sending this old snapshot of me and the rest of the “Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue” at Universal Studios back in 1994. What a blast from the past!
As I was listening to oldies on AM while I worked on puppets this past week, the Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By” came on. I never really noticed this song when I used to play it on the radio 40 years ago, but now it holds a particular poignancy.
Monday the 15th – KNOCKED OUT! – Before I hit the hay I took some Advil PM for the continuing pain in my left elbow. I somehow injured one of the bones in my elbow a while back and my chiropractor said those take a while to heal. Unfortunately, whenever it starts feeling better I think I overdo it, and it ends up hurting again. But being a non-drug user, the Advil really knocked me out! I got up late in the afternoon, did a little work around the house, wrote Wally’s Week, and then headed to Bob’s Big Boy in the Gran Torino to meet my pal Sheriff John, who was visiting from Florida. I told him he couldn’t visit L.A. without a visit to the legendary Bob’s Big Boy. After that we came to Planet Wallywood for a tour, and then we delved into the box of cigars he brought with him while we walked Roxy around the neighborhood. He took off and I did my auditions. Then I made some Buffalo Mac and watched another episode of “The Invaders.”
Tuesday the 16th – MASONITE IS MASON RIGHT! – If you remember from last week, my plastic fabricator Kyle is having difficulty getting supplies in from his manufacturer to build the puppet stands I need to have made. So I decided to go over to Anawalt Lumber and see what I could dig up to make the stand on my own. I already had the wood dowel, all I really needed was a base, cut in a specific way; a 5 sided configuration in order to fit into the case I had reserved for my “Beautiful Day” replica Muppet. The kid at the cutting station loved seeing my Gran Torino, so he cut me a couple of pieces that I needed out of Masonite for free. He said it’s as sturdy as wood, and it’s a lot lighter. Since the “Beautiful Day” and “Green Grover” puppets will be displayed in a cabinet with glass shelves, lightweight was a good idea. I think they’ll work great. I stood in the parking lot talking to the kid and another guy about the Torino for a while. That car sure draws the attention. I drove over to the facility where my ‘adopted grandma’ Shirley resides to drop off some movies for her, and to take back the ones she’s already watched. Since she’s 93 and has been locked down in her room for the past 3 months due to the virus and her age, I let her borrow a new selection of 10 movies every week or so. I went over to Jerry’s Famous Deli to meet Sheriff John for lunch, and as we talked he told me he wanted to “bust Shirley out of her prison.” He totally understands the situation she’s under, but as a regular reader of Wally’s Week he said got frustrated hearing about her restrictive existence. I called Shirley and told her to be on the lookout for us, as Sheriff John and I were going to do a quick drive-by. When we got to the facility, she was masked up and standing on the other side of the front door. We went up and spoke to her through the glass and she was very glad to see us. I dropped Sheriff John back at his hotel and wished him well, as his flight back to Florida leaves first thing Wednesday morning. I came home and immediately started working on my puppet stand for “Beautiful Day.” I found 5 rubber stick-on bumpers for the bottom, and I glued them on. Then I cut a section of thick foam rubber for the top of the support rod. I measured it and cut an opening in the bottom where the rod would be inserted. Then I found my 7/8” wood dowel downstairs and measured it precisely. I have a very specific head clearance in my display cabinet, so it has to be exactly right. Given the measurement of the base and the foam topper, I cut a portion of the dowel that was just right. Like I did with the Oscar the Grouch support rod, I drilled a hole through the dowel about 1” down from the top, put the foam topper on, put some armature wire through the foam and through the dowel, and bent it around the foam topper. The ends of the wire were bent inwards into the foam with needle nose pliers. Then I drilled a hole in the bottom for the support screw and attached it to the base. It looked pretty good, but it needed something else. During a recent shipment of puppet eyes from Puppet Pelts in Las Vegas, I remembered that they included a scrap piece of flesh-colored Antron fleece for packing. That was just about the right size to cover the base! So I dug out the scrap, unscrewed the rod from the base, and Barge glued the fleece to the base and folded the fabric over the edge and glued it into place. Then I put the rod back on. But again, it needed something else. Even though “B.D.” is a big puppet, and you most likely will never see the base once he’s on it, I still wanted to make the base nice. I dug out some navy blue microsuede and cut a long piece. I measured it to the appropriate size and glued it on to the rod. It looked really sweet! Then, one last time, I screwed the rod to the base and set it aside to cure. Then I turned my attention to my Animal cap. I had been working on a standard men’s cap to turn it into Animal’s head, so I could wear it to cons (whenever they start up again). I did some work stitching rows of colored feathers (red, orange and magenta – the colors of feathers that are in Animal’s head) into little slits I had made in the base fur on the cap. It was a lot of work, but it was looking great! But I needed to get my auditions done, and prep a script for a session on Wednesday before bed.
Wednesday the 17th – BACK TO WALLY WALKIN’! – I remember when I was working on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” when he would leave his dressing room and head to the stage to start the show. The Floor Director would always radio in to the control room and say “He’s a-walkin’!” That meant that Jay was on the move and ready for the show. I always loved hearing that every day. I also loved hearing Mike the Technical Director wrap the crew at the end of every day by coming on the comm and telling everyone, “That’s a wrap to the stage, thank you.” Geez I miss those days! Anyway, I had a 3 hour session scheduled at Voice Trax West and it was a gorgeous day. Was I going to drive my car or ride my bike? Nope…he’s a-walkin! I strapped on my shoes and headed down the road. I heard the song “Don’t Look Back” from Boston on my iPod on the way over and I had forgotten how beautifully engineered that song is. On the way home I heard Queen’s “Body Language” and decided that, even though I had just done a 3 hour session while standing, I was going to walk to the beat of that song. It was no easy task because the song moves pretty fast. But I did it, and it felt good! I got home and fed the kids, showered and relaxed for a while. I did a little work around the house, recorded an audition, and then put the finishing touches on my Animal cap by getting all the strips of feathers sewn into the slits in my cap’s fur. The feathers are attached into a satin ribbon so they don’t fall out, but how they attach them is with GLUE! So as I stitched them into the cap, my needles would get FULL of sticky glue and would need to be replaced and then cleaned. Even though all the slits had the feathers attached, now it was imperative that I stitch the slits back together. UGH! My fingers were so sore from sewing the feathers I decided that I would hire Alex at Alex in Wonderland to stitch the slits back together when I saw her on Thursday for our appointment. I made some spaghetti and watched another “Invaders” episode!
Thursday the 18th – PRICKLY PREDICAMENT! – By the time I got up to take my stuff to Alex in Wonderland, I had received a text from Alex postponing our meeting until Friday because something had come up in her scheduling. Since I had the day planned out for that specific trip, along with a trip to the bank and my mailbox on the way, I just decided to sit around and do nothing. Later I decided to get busy and attempt to stitch all the slits on my Animal cap…for better or worse. It was no easy task, but I did it. It’s not a pretty job, but it sufficed and actually turned out pretty darn well! I even attached the pupils to the eye pieces! The final piece will be to sculpt the lower teeth out of Magic Sculpt, paint them and glue them on the bill of the cap. This cap was turning out amazing, but it was a LOT of work that I’ll never do again! While I worked I had a great time listening to oldies on AM and hearing a lot of gems! I made a pot pie and started in on “The Mod Squad” season 3, since I had completed “The Invaders” season 1 the night before.
Friday the 19th – PUPPET PARTY! – On my way to Alex in Wonderland in Burbank, I stopped at my mailbox to pick up my mail, and then I stopped at the bank to drop off some deposits. But I had arrived 2 minutes to late…they closed at 4! I simply don’t understand what early closures of businesses has to do with the Covid virus. Does the virus not ‘magically spread’ after 4pm? This to me seems illogical, unless somebody can adequately explain to me why closing a business early saves lives. It just seems dumb, to be honest. So, I’ll have to hit the bank next week. The branch I usually go to near my house is closed until further notice…something else I don’t understand. Banks, of all places, seem well equipped for this sort of thing because they’ve had Plexiglas barriers in place for years…because they’re a bank! And those barriers are bullet proof, so they would most likely also be virus proof, right? Ugh. I just don’t get it. But I’ll be glad when all this craziness is over. I picked up my Green Grover puppet at Alex’s (she created the fur body and also put together a fur covering for the foam head I created) so I’ll be working the next few days on that project. I stopped for some KFC for lunch on the way home and went back to Planet Wallywood to do some work. I laid out where all the teeth on my Animal cap would go by tracing out the contours of the bill on a thin piece of clear plastic. Then I could sculpt the 7 teeth on the plastic piece with Magic Sculpt and let them cure overnight. The thin plastic is a good, flat base to sculpt the teeth on, but the Magic Sculpt won’t adhere to it. So after they’re cured, I can just “snap” them off the base and glue them on the cap. The teeth got finished and then I turned my attention to padding out Green Grover’s tummy padding. I cut several panels of ½” foam rubber to size, glued them together, and then glued them to the inside of the puppet. It looked terrific! On another night I’ll glue the fur to his head and then take him back to Alex to have the next steps in his fabrication taken. I made some chili dogs on the grill and watched “Mod Squad.”
Saturday the 20th – THIS PROJECT REALLY HAS TEETH! – After it cooled down outside I took the plastic base with Animal cap’s teeth on it and gave them a coating of off-white. After that dried, I sprayed just the tips of the teeth with a lighter white; so the off-white bottoms of the teeth would look like tartar – very Animal-y! Then I sprayed them with a clear matte finish and let them dry. Then I glued the teeth to the cap with Barge glue. But I was looking at him carefully, now that all of the components are in place, and I’ve decided to have Alex make a slightly bigger nose. I think it’ll read better if I go one size larger on the Styrofoam ball that makes up his nose. Luckily Alex has just enough of the maroon fleece to cover one more ball. After looking at him with great scrutiny, I also wish I would have put the eyes closer together. But what’s done is done, and I think he looks pretty darn cool. I can’t wait to wear him to a convention, if they ever have them again. I tried to call Barone’s to get a pizza to go, but the lines were busy. And once I DID get through I got put immediately on hold. So I got frustrated and ordered a Domino’s for delivery. I ate and watched a little TV. I tried to watch a Boris Karloff movie on “Svengoolie” on MeTV but it didn’t interest me that much. Later in the evening I worked on Green Grover. I glued the fur all around the outside of his mouth, and once that was glued satisfactorily I glued the rest of the fur down on his foam head. I safety-pinned the head to the body to get a look at his dimensions, and I was very pleased. The next move is to design and cut the arms, hands, and feet. I made my traditional Saturday Night Super Salad and watched another episode of “Space 1999” before bed. Of all the second season episodes thus far, this was the most watchable (as they’ve all been pretty bad!). Except for one, uncomfortable, embarrassing scene, it was pretty good. I’m hoping they’ll get better as the series winds up.
Sunday the 21st – DOGGIE DINNER DATE! – In the evening I took Roxy in the Gran Torino over to Paty’s to get dinner on the patio. My pal Sara joined us as well. Eating outdoors seems like it has become all the rage, all of a sudden, and the restaurants that have always had outdoor seating are doing quite well. The restaurants that never had outdoor seating, are now putting chairs and tables in their parking lots and on the sidewalks to accommodate “nervous” diners who are too scared to eat inside. After a delicious salad I came home and recorded a ton of auditions, and then it was back to the puppet table to finish up the design for Green Grover. I measured, studied photos, drew and cut the fur fabric to create his tiny little feet, his long skinny arms, and his hands. Then I pinned everything together so Alex only needs to stitch them up and attach them to the puppet’s body. I had worked all night, and walked Roxy on our late night stroll through the neighborhood just before dawn. It was STUNNINGLY gorgeous out! Every June in L.A. we have what’s called “June Gloom,” which means the weather conditions are just right for an overcast morning. When the sky is completely overcast it deadens the ambient sound quite a bit. The noise from the distant freeway and streets isn’t as prevalent. It gets REALLY quiet during a June Gloom morning. So with a cool breeze blowing, a deep blue translucent sky overhead, and hardly a sound anywhere, it was very meditative, relaxing and pleasant. In fact, as the sun continued to rise (even though you couldn’t see it through the translucent overcast) I decided to sit outside on my steps and just drink in the beauty. The coo of a lone Mourning Dove was really the only thing you could hear, as I sat in serene peace watching the sky turn from a translucent blue, to a translucent white – all the while enjoying a nice, cool breeze. I started thinking that maybe I would redesign my patio to be my “outdoor” Tranquility Zone; complete with a hammock and a small table and chair for meals. I told myself I would stay there enjoying the dawn until it either got too noisy, or too bright. Completely at peace and in utter tranquility, I went inside to hit the hay.
And how was YOUR week?!!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
Once Green Grover’s head was safety-pinned to his body, he really started to come to life. LOTS more to do on him before he’s done though.
What is with cats and boxes?
Sheriff John makes fast friends with Spook, thanks to the leftover tuna sandwich he brought in from Bob’s Big Boy!