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February 23, 2004
from Paul Dini
from my cyber-diary:
The annual Dini Christmas bash has come and gone. As always it was a colossal production that consumed too much time, caused too much stress, cost too much money and yes, I will be gladly doing it all again next year.
Fortunately this December I had the mystical assistance of the Amazing Ms. M. to help me pull it off. It’s great dating a magician every time I turned around, I discovered another bit of clutter had vanished or a tray of goodies had appeared from thin air. I still have no idea how M. turned some white mice and a pumpkin into a chef, a server and a bartender. She told me I was happier not knowing and I believe her. I prefer to be baffled by the illusionist’s art, and besides, even with a year of training at the Magic Castle under my belt, most card and stage tricks move too fast for me to follow, anyhow.
There were about eighty people here last night, a very strong turnout. Assembled was a diverse assortment of writers, directors, Japanese pop stars, weirdos, models, magicians and some that simply defied description. A few old friends were waylaid by the pernicious flu sweeping Hollywood, but we carried on despite the absence of sniffling cronies. I decided against entertainment this year as a poll of the guests conducted in November revealed that pretty much everyone who attends my parties prefers socializing to listening to music or dancing. So no all-girl mariachi band, no DJ, no western swing combo, and no strippers bathing in eggnog. I did however engage the services of Shelly Anne, the Wild About Balloons girl to dazzle everyone with her sculpting skills. Batman, Daffy Duck, Spider-Man; Shelly Anne rose to the occasion fashioning colorful balloon versions of each guest’s most fanciful request. And then there was the impromptu father and son duet of ?Marshmallow World? that dad and I belted out for the evening’s last hangers-on. That’s a great way to clear a house around 2 AM, I tell you what.
Earlier last evening I caught a few glimpses of Kelso up on my hill running back and forth by the mouth of his den, clearly agitated and confused by the night’s activities, but always with a watchful eye on the growing pile of discarded food in the trashcans. This morning I went out to see he had eaten not only most of the trash (and let very little to pick up, bless his mangy hide) but chewed up a good number of empty soda cans, as well. Coyotes, they are God’s garbage disposals.
DECEMBER 14th - Later
Holy crap, they got Saddam! Dragged him out of a hole all gray and growling just like the badgers I used to flush out of their dens on the old ranch in Nevada. That’s awesome. Now let’s pull our troops out and come home. Forget the weapons of mass destruction, it’s obvious Saddam never had them. Look at the way the dude lived, creating huge monuments to himself and commissioning what looks like bad D&D fantasy art. If he was serious about WMD, he’d be setting up nuclear missile sites like that mental case in North Korea, not blowing his cash like a Miami drug lord.
Holiday fun time at Lake Tahoe. Most of my family is here, along with Ms. M. who zapped herself in from Detroit on Christmas night to join the revelry. Ten days of celebration, snowboarding, sleigh rides, and sitting around doing nothing. Ah, Yuletide at its finest. And remarkably no one has yet gotten into a fight or thrown a skillet at anyone’s head. Either all of us Dini kids are becoming more loving and tolerant of each other in our adult years or we’re just gettin’ old. Probably a little of both.
Still at Tahoe. The cabin has been all but snowed in since the 23rd, and other than the occasional bald eagle skimming over our beach, we’ve had no visitors. Bliss. A few days ago I found my brother Steve cozied up by the fireplace with a copy of my JLA: Liberty & Justice book. Although I’m the only comic writer and fan in the family, the others indulge me and toss a cursory look at my output every now and then. ?Not bad.? Steve nodded upon finishing the big DC universe team-up story, ?But where was the Silver Surfer??
DECEMBER 29th LATER THAT NIGHT
New Year’s Eve looms, as does a big blackjack party back in Hollywood at Kevin Smith’s house. Looking to bone up on my laughable card playing skills, I hie myself off to the five dollar tables at Harrah’s. I am a terrible card player. This is Ms. M.’s domain but as she had to go back to Detroit early to convene with her sister sorceresses, I have no choice but to school myself in the finer points of Twenty-One. Sitting at the table with a twenty dollar bet in front of me, I peruse my cards, a ten and a seven. Should I stand or risk a hit? Conventional wisdom says to stand on sixteen, but the guy to my left just got another ten, so there could be a three or a four coming. What to do? What to do? I carefully weigh my options, then confidently nod to the dealer and tell her I’ll take another card. With some irritation she informs me she has already won with a ten and an ace, and furthermore the hand has been over for three minutes. As the laughter of ski bums and cowboys rings in my ears, I collect my Crown Royal Manhattan and what little dignity I have left and slink off toward the nickel I Dream of Jeannie slots. I fucking hate card games.
I hate January, it’s a blah month. After the glow of New Year’s fades, there isn’t much to the month except MLK Day and Alex Ross’ birthday. February is almost as bad (though thankfully shorter) and as I still harbor many bad back to school memories, I could do without September, too. In fact, they could cut the year down to nine months and it would suit me fine. Anything to get us to the Hallowthanksmas season faster.
JANUARY 29th thru FEBRUARY 2nd
Back home from my big trip to Detroit, home of the Tigers, the Lions, Faygo pop and my girlfriend, the enchanting Ms. M. I finally got to see her in full magician mode, Misty-fying a large audience with her illusions. I thought the show was awesome, and though M. pointed out a few gonks (as we later watched the replay in her crystal ball) I was unaware of them during the performance. I met M.’s family and they were all very nice. We went out for Chinese food, hung out at their house and looked at old photos, all the classic family stuff. I didn’t see too much of Detroit, though I did enjoy the new Tigers stadium. With its numerous fifteen-foot tall tiger statues atop the outside of the ball field, it looked just like a set for a Batman movie. We cruised a few record stores and I snagged some obscure Xmas CDs for Eddie G. Visited a taxidermist, a magic shop and a comic book store that was sadly going out of business (picked up a nice Scarlet Witch sculpture for M. and a Supergirl doll for her niece dirt-cheap, though). We hit the casinos at Greektown and my luck was no better there than it was at Tahoe. I guess I’m just not meant for the easy life of a career gambler.
Earlier tonight I watched Kelso eat the bowl of food I had set out for him. On the bill of fare this evening was lamb-flavored dog chow into which I had mixed a raw egg. I read in an old Peanuts comic strip that mixing an egg into a dog’s food kept their coats shiny. I wasn’t sure if it would work on a coyote’s pelt the same as a beagle’s, but I know Kelso will take a chicken any time he can get one and I presume that would apply to the chicken’s eggs as well. The kiyote ate his dinner in the usual way, which meant wolfing down a mouthful, running back a few feet then slinking forward to furtively gobble down another bite. The bowl finally licked clean, he helped himself to a hesitant drink from my pool, took a massive crap on my deck and shot back up the hill to his den.
I’m not quite sure why he craps on my deck. It could be he doesn’t care much for the food, or perhaps that’s what passes for a tip among coyotes. Most likely he is marking his territory, leaving a palpable message to the skunks, raccoons and other predators in Paul Dini’s Wild Kingdom that interlopers shall not be tolerated.
I hosted an evening at the Magic Castle a couple nights ago. Along for the fun were Ruth and Coop, Bill and Kayre Morrison and of course the visiting Ms. M. I’m a long-time MC member but it was M.’s first excursion. She liked it a lot and may in fact perform there later this year.
The ASIFA Annie awards were last night. This is the annual ceremony to honor excellence in animation, AKA, Pixar Sweep Night. I was nominated for best writing in an animated television series (for the Justice League episode ?Comfort & Joy?) and along with the Duck Dodgers crew for best children’s animated series. We didn’t win anything, but it was a generally nice evening, and Ms. M. looked stunning in her gown, which was reason enough to go.
Work, work, work. Recently finished a new Justice League script and a bunch of Krypto episodes. Gearing up for a third season of Duck Dodgers (even as we finish season two) and completing a couple of animated WB pilots that may or may not see the light of day. Beyond the Wabbit Hutch, new opportunities beckon. I will probably take some time off to work on them as they sound like lots of fun and welcome challenges from my normal duties in Cartoonland. Comic book-wise it looks to be a quiet year with no Alex Ross epic to script. I wrote a lot of new material for a Simpsons Christmas trade paperback due out in November. Jingle and the rest of my cartoon crew (Ida Red, Polly, etc.) may put in appearances this fall in some published form or another. The only other things out from me this year are the long-delayed Harley & Ivy miniseries that starts at the end of April and a short, goofy Krypto tale for the next volume of Bizarro Stories.
Big battle in the backyard tonight between Kelso and the skunk that swipes his food! It started innocently enough when Kelso came slinking down around dusk to get his usual dish of kibble and offal. No sooner had he started to nibble away when the large skunk that lives under my porch appeared on the scene with his tail held high and a brazen What are you going to do about it? attitude in his waddle. Thus commenced lots of snarling, hissing and snapping, followed by the inevitable spraying, howling and stinking. Furry bastards. I think it may be time to hose down the deck with mountain lion urine again. This is a real and remarkably useful product for those of us who live in rural or suburban areas where wild animal visitors can be a problem. Simply drizzle some of this around your back yard and smaller predators will skeedaddle, thinking a bigger one has moved in. Of course, depending on where you live, you may wind up with a mountain lion coming over to check out what it thinks is a new arrival. A few friends have asked me how one procures mountain lion urine. Well, you can buy the lion a couple of six-packs and follow it around with bucket, or, if that’s too much trouble, you can simply click here.
Back from a long weekend in Texas. Mostly work, but there was some fun, too. I got caught in a big snowstorm in Austin, which was interesting considering it’s always been about 80 degrees the other seven or eight times I’ve been there. Other than that, I spent most of time plotting a secret project with an insane genius compadre and watching a lot of old westerns. All in all, a very satisfying President’s Day.
Night of the Scene Babies, part II. Went to the premiere of my buddy David Mandel’s new movie EUROTRIP last night. As usual it was a star-studded event and as usual I recognized almost no one other than Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. Curse that spotty recall of mine! If I’ve been to someone’s house a few times I can generally recognize the host if I see him in public, but if I encounter someone I’ve only seen a couple of times in movies or on the TV, my memory shorts out. Anyway, David’s movie (which he wrote and produced with partners Alec Berg and director Jeff Schaffer ) is a lot of fun. Any flick that mixes together crude sex jokes, a catchy song about teen infidelity, a chubby absinthe fairy and a kid Hitler wannabe is okay by me. When they were filming in Prague last year, David asked me to come over and do a cameo but I didn’t have time. Good thing too, as I think he wanted me to play one of the naked ugly Americans looking for chicks on a French nude beach. The sight of me capering nekkid with a beach ball is something the world doesn’t need to see, thanks. I am running around in the background of a couple of scenes in the up-coming JERSEY GIRL but rest assured I keep my pants on in that picture.
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