On the 75th Anniversary of BUGS BUNNY, Remembering That Time I Met Bugs’ Creator CHUCK JONES

Happy 75th, Bugs!

Happy 75th, Bugs!

I have been blessed many times in my career to be placed in some fairly oddball situations – I’m no stranger to events where there are bizarre mash-ups of iconic personalities in the entertainment and publishing world. One such event was in the early ’90s during my first year as the writer/producer on motorsports TV series THE SUPER CHARGERS. Our production team headed down to the Houston Film Festival for the awards ceremony. My second father figure and–at that time–employer, TV personality Jan Gabriel treated us to an unforgettable dinner and performance at the exclusive Magic Island in Houston. The next night, we attended the Houston Film Festival Awards, where we won a Gold Star Award. Featured guests that year were Chuck Jones, Rod Steiger, and Ginger Rogers. I know, right? What an oddball mashup of entertainment icons!

I walked into the art museum where the event was being held, and I happened to look up at the top of the stairs. There was Jan Gabriel, talking to a tall, thin man in a tuxedo. He had a tuft of white, fluffy hair that hang down on his forehead, and these oversized, too-large-for-his-face, black plastic-framed eyeglasses. In my signature silliness, I quipped to Kenny our cameraman, “Look! Jan’s talking to Bugs Bunny!” having no idea that it was actually Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones, the featured guest! D’oh! Mr. Jones really did look a lot like the cartoon character he created, and I never forgot that about him.

At the same event, Ginger Rogers was in the sunset years of her life, getting around in a wheelchair. There were no separate restroom facilities for dignitaries, and while I still feel bad about it, I was full of champagne and I raced past Ms. Rogers’ wheelchair to reach the bathroom ahead of her. I just barely made it. She didn’t have to wait too long for me, but it was a very human moment. I was once again reminded that we all put on our panties one leg at a time.

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The Short-Lived Laughter Moratorium

Throughout my life, I’ve been told by many that my laugh is infectious…and memorable. To witness, I was riding in this crowded Chicago parking garage elevator with my BFF Marovich after comedienne Kathy Griffin’s concert when Marovich–no surprise–made me laugh. A woman’s voice in the way back section of this crowded freight elevator declared, “I’d know that laugh anywhere!” I whipped around, and there was my kindergarten friend Linda, whom I’ve rarely spent time with in our teen or adult lives (I hope to correct this soon), but my laugh lived on in her memory. At my 20-year class reunion, the most frequent comment I got was, “I really miss your laugh.”

I love to laugh more than anything in the world. Well…there’s maybe one other thing, but I digress…

One of the greatest contributors to my expansive sense of humor is my closest cousin, Jeff. His dad and my dad were brothers, both gone now. His dad died in a tragic ultralight crash. We leaned on each other through that, and more recently, my dad’s death. But we’ve shared so many more good times than bad, attending the same high school together, spending our birthdays, holidays, and vacations together. At one point in our careers, we even worked on the same floor of the same company (and WTF were they thinking, hiring the two of us?!?). Prank phone calls, 90-minute lunches, and hijinks ensued. By the time I left there, quotes from Airplane, Blazing Saddles, The Simpsons, and Throw Momma from the Train were viral vernacular, confusing elderly secretaries everywhere.

My cousin Jeff, who makes me laugh to the point of pain.

My beloved cousin Jeff, who makes me laugh to the point of pain, even without surgery.

About once a week, I’ll get that 312 area code call on my mobile phone, and anyone who knows me well can read my face and realize who’s calling. I’m beaming before I even answer the phone. A low voice says, “DeDe…”–my family’s nickname for me–and then I fasten my seat belt and pray for an empty bladder. I know I’m in for some gut-buster travel story, life observation, or David Sedaris book passage.

An obscure quote from Jeff's & my 2nd favorite movie...

An obscure quote from Jeff’s & my 2nd favorite movie…

 

So I somehow forgot to forewarn Jeff, of all people, that my Wednesday surgery meant a moratorium on the comedy for at least 48 hours. I’d gotten word to BFF Marovich and the Sister Wives, but Jeff missed becoming a line item on my black list. Thursday afternoon I saw that 312 area code pop up on the phone, and I braced myself. I couldn’t even cough at that point without some pain. I had refused all pain killers. This was going to be a rough ride.

Since Jeff holds a prestigious corporate job, I won’t divulge here what he said, but it was worth every ounce of post-surgical pain. In fact, I’m still giggling about it. I would never wish surgery on Jeff, but if he has, say, an appendectomy, I’ve got him on speed dial. And I’ve already lined up a very special, belly jiggling David Sedaris quote.

 

Adventures in the Hospital: Context is…EVERYTHING.

My non-Mormon Sister Wife Ophelia always mentioned “Anime” in our conversations. One day, I could no longer take it, because the context was so odd, it prompted me to finally ask, “What does Japanese animation have to do with your father, anyway?” It was then that I learned her mother’s name was “Anna Mae.” A cacophony of Sister Wife howls of laughter erupted around the breakfast table as the realization slowly sank in. For the last 5 years, I’d been in a perpetual state of confusion whenever she mentioned her mother’s name.

So this story, which happened to me last Friday in the hospital, post-surgery, should come as no surprise to you. (Yes, I am totally fine. Thanks for wondering. The three separate celebratory parties by the Sister Wives were well worth the pain of the surgery!)

As you read this, you must take into context, I am ensconced in the world of comics, illustration, and autograph signings. I can’t even blame the pain killers, because I wasn’t on any.

So…this medical technician was in my hospital room performing an ultrasound on me Friday afternoon. In walked a man dressed like a 1950s Culligan Man with what looked like a Coleman Cooler chest:

The Sharpie Container!

The Sharpie Container!

“Here to get the Sharpies,” he announced, abruptly breaking the silence. He walked over to the area where my dry erase board was, removed something, and briskly exited my room. (This dry erase board is any hospital’s “communication” system, telling you the name & phone # of your nurse, technician, and “hospitalist” on any given shift. I never once glanced at that board, as it was placed well behind my hospital bed’s sight line where I never could see it.)

The typical Sharpie I see on a daily basis.

The typical Sharpie I see everywhere in my house, daily.

So I let this information soak in for a moment, and naturally, my journalist’s curiosity overtook me.

Me to Ultrasound Technician: “So…you have a guy whose job it is to remove the Sharpies? How often does he do that?”

Ultrasound Tech, sounding bored: “Every couple of days.”

Me: “And he has to put them in a special cooler?”

Ultrasound Tech: “Yep.”

Me: “So what kind of qualifications do you need to be a Sharpie removal technician? Perhaps I should apply for one of these easy jobs. Does it pay well? Is there a pension?”

Ultrasound Tech: “Uh, I’m not really sure.”

Me: “So there’s a truck full of Sharpies parked outside of this hospital right now?”

What I imagine a Sharpie delivery truck looks like--a blank canvas, begging to be drawn upon.

What I imagine a Sharpie delivery truck looks like–a blank canvas, begging to be drawn upon by a Sharpie illustrator.

Ultrasound Tech: “Yep.”

Me: “And they change out the Sharpies every couple of days? That seems rather wasteful.”

Ultrasound Tech: “Yep.”

Me: “So where do they take the Sharpies from here?”

Ultrasound Tech: “Well, they’re bio-hazardous material, so they dispose of them in some special way.”

Me: “Hmmm…well, I guess the Sharpies could get coated in the germs floating in the air of a hospital room, but isn’t the ‘bio-hazardous’ characterization a bit overly dramatic? And isn’t it better to use Dry Erase Markers on a Dry Erase board? Do the Sharpies even wipe off as easily?”

Ultrasound Tech: “Wait a minute…you thought I meant…markers…!?? (Starts laughing.) I’m talking about needles and razors. We call them ‘Sharpies.’ ”

Me: “It hurts to laugh. Make it stop!”

Ultrasound Tech: (Laughing uncontrollably).

Dave Dorman in the background: (Shaking his head slowly in disgust, non-plussed by my ridiculousness.)

My world has expanded.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Favorite Fourth of July Meme?

I spotted this on Facebook and had to share – the Fourth of July Lynda Carter Wonder Woman meme floating around was really great, but this one is–to quote the cray-cray Charlie SheenWINNING!”

I love how this image makes me feel.

I love how creeped out this image makes me feel.

My friend & client, comic book creator and Colorado resident Mike Baron saw me post this and commented, “Come on out – I’ll take you up there.” I’m taking Mike up on this someday – it’s on my bucket list, since I’ve only seen it from afar (As a young teen, I kept glancing at The Stanley Hotel looming in the background as I was sitting in Estes Park, CO reading THE SHINING, having no idea it was Stephen King’s inspiration for the book I was reading, and thinking to myself that it matched the story perfectly.)

My friend Phil Burnett secured this autograph for me at San Diego Comic-Con in 2003, before I was married to Dave Dorman. You know how you have that running list in the back of your mind of items you’d grab in the event of a house fire? Yeah. This is one of mine – the autograph of actor Joseph Turkel (who was also in another favorite film of mine, Blade Runner.)

This is on my Top10 List of items I'd grab in a house fire.

My house fire future rescue.

And here’s an XCU of the personalized autograph:

One of my favorites in my autograph collection. (My other favorite is Frank Darabont's autograph in  my copy of The Green Mile, where it says, "To Denise, who worships me like a God.")

One of my favorites in my autograph collection. (My other favorite autograph is Frank Darabont’s in my copy of The Green Mile, where he signed it as                                                      “To Denise, who worships me like a God.”)