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April 3, 2003
from Paul Dini

February 4th I went home early, parked myself at Ida Red’s Saloon (the living room/honky-tonk that makes up the top story of my house), punched up Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” on the juke box and put it on repeat play. Cracking open a fine bottle of agave that I had been saving in case of an emotional calamity, I took a deep swig and swiftly surrendered myself to the embrace of Senorita Mezcal. The strong, smoky liquid did just what it was supposed to, which was to goof me eight ways from Sunday. Within minutes any difference between mezcal the drink and Mezcal my Mutant, Texas character was indistinguishable, and in the depths of my delirium and devastation, I was grateful for the presence of both.

“Surrendered to the Embrace of Senorita Mezcal”

Not content with a gulp or two, I drained nearly the whole bottle and swallowed the worm as well, the only solid food I would eat all night. Donna Margarita Agavita Inebriata Mezcal fluttered just in and out of my vision and consciousness, whispering vaguely comforting things in that demented Spanglish of hers that Sergio Aragones’ finds so cute despite being completely wrong. At times there is nothing better than having a hyperactive imagination spurred along by alcohol. In the right moments it turns the whole world into a mid-forties Disney live-action/animated movie in the mode of “The Three Caballeros” or “Song of the South.”

That’s not to say I get drunk often, but when I do, I make a thorough job of it. I hit the dark rum when I want to celebrate completing some particularly arduous task (or an escape from a dangerous animal – I put away half a bottle of Myers after the Komodo dragon incident) and dear old whiskey, particularly Jack Daniels, has nursed me through many a heartbreak. But I save the heady, potent kiss of mezcal for those times I’m grieving and want to make myself unconscious fast. (I’ve found absinthe also works well toward that end, but the Goth girl I was seeing last year drank it all and I haven’t been able to get any since.)

Why the binge? Well, I had just learned my friend actress Lana Clarkson had been shot two nights before at Phil Spector’s house. Given those circumstances, I thought they more than warranted a night of drunken morose. Lana was a great girl and a terrific friend. Any more about our friendship I won’t go into now as her death is still too fresh and painful. Besides, if you follow the papers, you know as much about her passing as I do. I’ll simply say that I came home in a wretched mood and it didn’t improve much, even with Mezcal’s help.

That night I watched the news reports, getting progressively sadder every time Lana’s photo appeared on screen. Shortly thereafter Mez took full control of my mind and led me to bed and blessed senselessness. The only problem with Senorita Mezcal is that like many kiss and run lovers, she rarely stays the whole night. Around four AM I woke up with a roaring headache and a churning stomach. Three Tylenols and a handful of Tums later, I was forcing myself back to sleep and proceeded to have nightmares until nine.

The next day I was more or less back on track, but still in a rotten mood. Calls to find out about a service for Lana or even where to send flowers ended in frustration. Because of the air of celebrity scandal, no one was saying anything to anyone, at least, I cynically thought, not before consulting their lawyer or perhaps agent. The few numbers of Lana’s friends I had in my address book were long out of date. Even if they weren’t I’m sure the last thing her friends wanted was one more person calling them. It was the last thing I wanted for me, too. No one expects to be yanked in as a supporting character in some Dominick Dunne-style celebrity tragedy, but such is life sometimes in Los Angeles. What information I could glean from the papers or on various Internet sites told me that Lana’s family wanted to be left alone to deal with their loss. Anxious to respect their wishes, and, knowing they must be dealing with grief much deeper than my own, I stopped calling.
And now here it is, two months later. The shock of Lana’s death has abated somewhat, but it will still be a long time before I’m ready to write about her in any detail. At some point I will, but not now. In the meantime my deepest thanks go to Action Girl and Monkey Boy for their sweet remembrances and good wishes, ME for his sage advice in the face of overly bathetic despair, Ruth and Coop for being Ruth and Coop, Shelly B. for her card and calls, Bleu Finnegan for offering the shoulder I intend to cry on one of these days, Silent Bob for being vocal with the condolences, DVT for not saying what she knew I was already sick of hearing elsewhere and for sending much appreciated oxoxs instead, B.T., Lynive, Lori L., Headgeek, Father Geek, Master Bone, AJB, Agent X, Philip J. Fry and everyone else who saw me through a generally rocky time. Good friends beat the finest bottle of mezcal any day.

That’s all for introspection this time around. The next batch of columns will be more fun, I promise. Coming up, I will narrate a trip through that wacky eight hour fiesta I call my work day, guide you on a trophy hunting excursion (of sorts) involving the great Roy Rogers, regale you with more deadly animal encounters and tell a few more Hollywood horror stories. Those and many other pieces are in the works and should be posted soon. But first, grab your wands and broomsticks because in the next Deanspeak it’s time for a little witchcraft. See you in mid-April.



I never know if this guy is coming or going, so here he is to tell you in his own words where he’ll be popping up. PD?

Thanks, JB. I was going to take this entire year off from conventions, but Boss Ross is crackin’ the whip so I’m showing up at San Diego (July 17-20) and Chicago (August 8-10) to sign the DC big books with Alex. I’ll be solo at the Wizardcon in Dallas (Nov.21-23 ). Like I’m going to pass up a free trip to Texas? I don’t think so! Come on by, say howdy and I’ll sign your copies of Mutant, Texas, Zatanna: Everyday Magic, Witchblade Animated, JLA: Liberty and Justice, Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 2003, (whew! I have a lot of stuff coming out this year!) the BRAND NEW 100+ page Jingle Belle graphic novel (about which I’ll have more to say next update), and, last but not least, you’re hearing it first here folks….the first issue of a long-awaited mini-series featuring two lovely, lethal ladies very close to my heart. If I say more, I’ll have a spring-propelled boxing glove hurling toward my head. Besides, if you can’t figure it out from those clues, then, to paraphrase Tweety, “You don’t know me vewy well, do you?”

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