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five THINGS OF WHICH I AM PROUD
In no particular order. Isn't it weird that Pride is both a virtue and one of the Seven Deadly Sins? Anyway:
Chuck was an idol before I knew what idols were or where cartoons came from. The legendary Looney Tunes director behind such icons as the Road Runner and Coyote, Bugs and Daffy, Pepe le Pew, the Grinch and so many more had a gallery opening in 1998. He was only signing items people bought (which were out of my budget but fair enough, since Chuck never got residuals for the ubermillions his work generated). There was a holdup in the line and he noticed me and waved me over. I immediately
1. I CRACKED UP CHUCK JONES
gushed that I was an animator as well (which I was at the time) and he said "keep animating. You'll grow old gracefully." To which I replied "but...I haven't been young gracefully!" And he cracked up, and patted my butt and told me I'd grow old gracefully. I even got a picture of the moment, and this was years before everybody was packing a camera phone.
I made up a really funny joke, and sent it to A Prairie Home Companion, and they used it, and Garrison Keillor called me "A Master of the Knock Knock." I have gone into that story at some length here.
2. I made up a famous knock knock joke
Another childhood idol, whose macabre New Yorker cartoons inspired the (much less funny) Addams Family franchise. I ate his work up as a kid, and had a phase emulating him as a cartoonist whilst thrashing for my own style. In 1987 I was heading to New York for a weekend so I wrote a letter saying I'd love to meet him, and if he couldn't do that to tell me where some of the
3. drinks with charles addams
ground he walked on was so I could go look at that instead. To my astonishment he wrote me back, apologized for being out of town during my visit, and told me to call him if I was in town again and GAVE ME HIS PHONE NUMBER. It was a year later before I worked up the courage to call. But I did, we set up a date, and and a buddy and I roadtripped from Michigan to Manhattan. He received us in his midtown penthouse (which had an embalming table, a suit of armor and a crossbow collection in his living room). We had that drink, I gushed, he looked over my portfolio and inscribed a book to me "with admiration." siiiiiigh. Just a few months later he passed away, which was a pretty important lesson in striking while the iron is hot.
4. the craziest of first kisses
Until the moment I first kissed my wife, I thought she was gay. And at that moment she was painted blue and and I was wearing a Catwoman suit. And we actually have a picture of the moment before that kiss, which ended up on our wedding invite. It's way too convoluted a story to get into here, but I told it at Bawdy Storytelling a few years ago and you can check it out on YouTube if you're curious. Or just buy me a beer sometime and I'll dish.
5. I used to be a cartoon character
Probably more than most people, I get compared to a cartoon character. But the thing is, I really used to be one. In Taiwan. I spent a year there supervising a redesign of The China Post, and did a comic strip about the experience. A high point of the year was when I was in a bar and overheard someone saying "he looks just like that guy in 'West meets East.'"
You can see that cartoon here, by the way.
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