How to Live With a Hairless Cat

We bought her for Jack. After two weeks, his allergies to my gorgeous Persian cat triggered asthma, and a dear friend adopted her within hours of me posting the request on Facebook. So a hairless Sphynx cat came home with us in November 2014. We named her Jonesy, after Ripley’s cat in ALIEN.

Back when we still thought she was lovable…

We were so excited to love on her! The breeder told us they were an affectionate breed. The breeder also told us they loved to wear warm sweaters and tube socks to stay warm. Both of these predictions turned out to be dead wrong. I bought her an adorable red and black buffalo plaid fleece jacket. Jonesy rolled around on the floor moaning like she was having a seizure. I removed it. We tried petting her. She would contort her wrinkly, bald body into a u-shape beneath our hands to escape human touch.

Jack’s hopes for a loving pet were dashed. 

I noticed Jonesy the Cat spending more and more time with my mom and dad, who were living in our basement walk-out apartment. Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer the end of December 2014, and from that point on, Jonesy the Cat never left his side. Dad died in early February, and then Jonesy the Cat decided my mom was her new alpha. As much as her anti-social, nutty behavior drives my mom crazy, she never leaves my mom’s lap. When Mom tries to pet her, she continues perfecting her u-shaped body contortions, even for my mom. She steals pens and paint brushes from the first and second floor of the house and carries them down to my mom, plopping them at Mom’s feet as her offerings.

The most unusual part of Jonesy is her avoidance of Dave, who has always had a way with animals and small children. It’s become the running joke. Rather, Jonesy intuits which of our house guests fear her bald, alien-like appearance or simply hate cats altogether, and those are the victims on whom she foists her obnoxious, laser-focused attention. In the cat world, she is truly the Queen Asshole.

The other day, my BFF Marovich turned me on to the “My Talking Pet” app on her iPhone, which she was using on her employees at work to hilarious effect. Needless to say, I could hardly wait to make this 4-second video of Jonesy, below. I texted it to all of my friends last night and this morning. It got rave reviews. They all agreed it needed to be said. Then I played my new video for Jonesy the Cat. She watched, she sniffed my iPhone screen, and then she jumped down, non-plussed by my creativity. My advice for living with a hairless cat? If yours is as awful as ours, you will experience inordinate relief by doing something like this:

http://bit.ly/JonesieTheCat

While I normally disdain passive-aggressive behavior, this is how far this nasty cat has driven me.

I’ve realized in today’s society, only food and animals are politically correct and safe for comedians to mock anymore. Jim Gaffigan will be the last man standing. Then again, I’m expecting PETA to send me a cease and desist any moment now.

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Me vs. the Jack Fruit (Spoiler Alert: I Lost)

Yesterday Dave Dorman left for comic book convention Space City Con in Houston, which left Jack and me (a dangerous combo platter by any measure) to our own devices. We had just seen the episode of Bob’s Burgers where Teddy and Bob go to stunt man camp, and Linda Belcher made up this ridiculous song about best friends. The line I couldn’t get out of my head that made Jack and me laugh the hardest: “He helps you pee when you have that thing…” Naturally, I had to belt it out in my best Ethel Merman voice as he was exiting the vehicle to set foot on his school campus yesterday and this morning.

After school yesterday, I made the grievous error of taking Jack grocery shopping with me. We were in the produce section when I asked him to grab an English cucumber. He held it up and announced loudly, “This looks like something that rhymes with Venus!” And so it began. Mind you, this is the same kid who stood before the Christmas windows at Chicago’s Marshall Field’s State Street store  (I steadfastly refuse to call it Macy’s) this past December, thrilled that there was a planetary display so he could rifle off about 100 Uranus jokes. I was doubled over laughing so hard I couldn’t even stop him. Thankfully, so was the crowd standing around us. This may have been the tipping point that pushes him into a career someday as a standup comedian.

That glint in Jack's eye, the moment before he rifled off 100 Uranus jokes to a mostly adoring crowd. I was momentarily paralyzed by my own laughing to stop him.

That glint in Jack’s eye, the moment before he rifled off 100 Uranus jokes to a mostly adoring crowd. I was momentarily paralyzed by my own laughing, unable to stop him.

Eventually my sight line was gratified by an alien-looking produce with a weird texture, about the size of a football. “What is that?” I asked aloud, not really thinking Jack would know.

Xenomorph egg or Jack Fruit? You decide.

Xenomorph egg or Jack Fruit? You decide.

“It’s a Jack Fruit!” he piped up.

“Are you making this up?”

“I swear!”

I  approached this xenomorph egg with a little trepidation. “Where’s your queen?” I said to no one in particular, under my breath. One of the Jack Fruits was cut in half, the orangey-yellow color of papaya, which I love. It had huge seeds dotting its perimeter.

The inside of a Jack Fruit.

The inside of a Jack Fruit.

“What does it taste like?”

“I saw on Youtube it tastes like onions,” Jack replied instantly and with such confidence, I stupidly believed him.

“Hmmm…well, I like onions…maybe we should try this. I wonder how you prepare it?”

At this precise moment–as always happens to me whenever I am in the grocery store–a strange woman approached us. In her thick accent (Jack says it was Russian, I say South American) she declared “Oh, you will love this. My kids eat it like candy! It tastes like pineapple mixed with mango!”

“Really?” I biffed Jack upside the head. “Onions? Really?”

The next part of this bizarre conversation was mission critical. The part where I wish my A.D.D. hadn’t taken over. The strange woman said to me, “Are you allergic to latex?”

The last time I heard that, my new OB/Gyn was stuffing me with his hand like a Thanksgiving turkey as I writhed uncomfortably in my stirrups up the table and away from him, so I automatically replied “No….?” My mind was in another place. When I try to recall the next part of what she said, it was like Charlie Brown’s teacher in my mind, “Blah, blah, blah.” I thanked her and we parted ways.

I plopped the giant fruit into my cart. Eight dollars later, Jack and I were on our way to a new culinary adventure!

After dinner, I took the saran wrap off of the Jack Fruit and started cutting away. This was work! I took a bite and it was really sweet – like candy – almost sickeningly too sugary. After about five minutes of struggling to perform an autopsy on this beastly thick produce, I began noticing this gummy, rubbery white residue on my hands. I stopped and soaped up, trying to rinse it off. It was going nowhere. “Jack!” I screamed, panicked.”Get on YouTube! See how I get this glue off of my hands!”

“Didn’t you hear what the lady said? About the latex?”

“You mean this Jack Fruit is where latex comes from?”

“No! She said to wear gloves when you cut it open, if you’re not allergic to latex!”

“Oh! Now I get it! Well, it’s too late for that. YouTube how I get this off of me! Chip chop!” The more I soaped up and scrubbed, the more it clung to me. I cannot stand being sticky. I had an epiphany. Coconut oil, my miracle cure for everything, would probably take this off. As I was rubbing coconut oil on my hands, Jack piped up from my office, “YouTube says coconut oil works!” My skin and the rings on my hands returned to normal.

I was relaying this whole crazy story to one of my vegan friends, who further confused my reality with this advice:

Note to self: Ask a friendly vegan the next time I get a wild hair up my ass to try exotic produce.

Note to self: Ask a friendly vegan the next time I get a wild hair up my ass to try exotic produce.

So…if you were ever wondering what to prepare for a vegan while your steaks are sizzling on the grill, Jack Fruit is the answer. Apparently, with barbecue sauce. Mind you, there is not enough alcohol in the world to make me try this.

Dave Dorman Interviews Alien & Predator

That time I wrote the Alien, Predator, Dave Dorman interview for Newsarama…

The famed ALIENS TRIBES cover by Dave Dorman

The famed ALIENS TRIBES cover by Dave Dorman

Denise Dorman's Blog

Dear Friends,

I wrote this parody piece a while back, prior to AVP2 coming out with the “new” Predalien character, if you catch my drift. Dave did a “very similar” creature design as a work-for-hire project for 20th Century Fox years ago, and it became a little controversial when he noted online that the Predalien design in AVP2 was virtually identical to the one he created, and then he proceeded to post both of them for the fans to compare.  I’ve updated the interview a little, but here it is:

Dave Dorman Interviews Alien & Predator

Back Story: Renowned illustrator Dave Dorman, Alien and Predator are old friends, dating back more than 15 years ago to the days when Dorman was painting Alien v. Predator pieces to please the Dark Horse fans…today the threesome reunites for a pre-San Diego Comic-Con interview.

POV: We see the famed Eisner Award-winning  illustrator…

View original post 1,030 more words

Watching ALIEN with Jonesy the Cat

Last night I made Jack and Jonesy the Hairless Cat watch her namesake on the original ALIEN movie with me. Needless to say, Jonesy was non-plussed. She just played with the strings on my hoodie when she wasn’t outright sleeping through it, having her little kitty dreams, muscle memory movements included. When the ALIEN version of Jonesy meowed on screen, it grabbed her attention for a brief moment and her giant ears perked up.

Jonesy the Cat, My Little Chest Burster...

Jonesy the Cat, My Little Chest Burster…

The greatest “special f/x” moment in my life occurred during ALIEN. It was 1979, during a camping trip with my parents in Estes Park, CO. The movie theater back then was this metal pole barn-style building–a bad 1970s mustard yellow, as I recall. ALIEN was playing, and I begged my parents to take me to see it. My parents paid very little attention to pop culture, so they had no idea what they were in for.

On that particular night, a bad storm was headed for Estes Park. Dark, ominous clouds were gathering and speeding toward us as we raced to the theater. We barely got in before the downpour.

In the famous scene where Kane is attempting to eat his first meal after recovering from the xenomorph facial attachment, the storm outside the theater began picking up its pace. Winds were howling. The sound of the pounding rain on the tin roof was deafening.

Then, at the precise moment when the chest burster popped through Kane’s chest, lightning struck the pole barn theater, accompanied by the loudest thunderclap I’ve ever heard! It was AWESOME! I literally jumped out of my seat. We all did. It will remain the best special f/x movie-watching moment of my lifetime.

Last night I gently reminded my mom of that moment as we were watching ALIEN together. She couldn’t remember it at all. It’s always interesting to me when those moments in your life that have the greatest impact on you are so trivial to those you were with at the time. Since that was a treasured time in my life, spending quality time with my dad on a family vacation, I wish my mom could share in that memory.

Perhaps a “Spock Mind Meld” is in order…

Meet the Newest Member of Our Family: JONESY, the Hairless Cat

Jonesy, the Sphynx (Hairless) Cat

Jonesy, our new Sphynx (Hairless) Cat

This is our new male kitten, Jonesy. I know, I know, so ugly he’s cute, right? RIGHT?!? Jonesy is joining our family sometime in mid November. Yes, sci-fi fans, you’ve caught the reference. Jonesy is named for Ellen Ripley’s cat in ALIEN. Had Jonesy been a girl, Jack waffled between christening her Ripley or Lumpy Space Princess (an Adventure Time reference).

This is my first rodeo with a hairless cat. From what I’m reading online, there will be many adjustments:

  • Weekly baths (which they resist, just like any normal cat)
  • Weekly nail trimmings (this detail makes me nervous–I accidentally snipped a nail pad on my Himalayan cat years ago and my white bathroom resembled a mafia crime scene)
  • More laundry for me to do

I am told Jonesy will need some little outfits to stay warm, since Dave likes to keep our house temperature set somewhere between, say, “I-think-I-can-see-my-own-breath” and Rocky Balboa’s meat locker. One of our friends already gifted Jonesy with his very own Superman costume. If any of you following me have Sphynx cat experience, I’m open to your words of wisdom.

I’m a firm believer every child should grow up with a pet–it teaches kids empathy and responsibility. (And if there’s ever a concern over whether or not a child is a sociopath, it becomes readily apparent in how they treat animals. And no, I’m not worried about Jack, the pied piper of strays.)

I grew up with a menagerie of pets on a parcel of land from my great grandparents’ farm. Some of my stranger indoor pets included my ginger and white pet mouse Algernon, a crawdad I brought in from the creek that ran on our property, and the salamander I “rescued” one fall, which required weekly trips to the pet store for meal worms. I also had pet rabbits in a hutch outside. Given Jack’s allergies to pet hair, and my absolute phobia of snakes and birds, the Sphynx cat seemed our best starter pet for the new menagerie. Did I say menagerie aloud? Don’t tell Dave, but my close friend–another Denise–is breeding her Standard Poodle next week, so…

The Blessing and the Curse of Work-for-Hire Illustration

File this under: “The Artist is always the last to know.” One of Dave’s fans just posted on Facebook that Dave’s artwork is on a free puzzle inside of Star Wars lunch boxes now for sale at Walgreen’s:

Dave Dorman artwork on puzzle inside of Star Wars lunch boxes, now in retail stores

Dave Dorman artwork on puzzle inside of Star Wars lunch boxes, now in retail stores

And here’s the original art from that free puzzle:

Dave Dorman's Star Wars "Smugglers Moon" Original Art

Dave Dorman’s Star Wars “Smugglers Moon” Original Art 

And by the way, if you’re interested in purchasing this piece as an Artist Proof litho, it’s $75 here: http://www.davedorman.com/swprintsforsale.shtml )

Dave’s Star Wars art is also on a few graphic tees selling at your local Targets and Wal-Marts at the moment, and we’ll probably see a lot more of it on random products as the new Star Wars VII film ramps up its marketing engine. The fans are always astounded when Dave shows surprise that they’re wearing his art. What people outside of the illustration world don’t realize is, the artist is never told where or when his art will appear. (This was especially true when the “Predalien” concept art Dave did years ago for 20th Century Fox as a work-for-hire surfaced in the AVP2 film, uncredited, which totally sucked.) Licensed art is merely a work-for-hire arrangement. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but we’re not rolling in dough from Star Wars art, Alien art, or any licensed artwork, for that matter. That’s why it’s so mission critical for artists out there to develop their own creator-owned projects, also known as I.P.’s or “Intellectual Properties,” which Dave has done with THE WASTED LANDS. It’s the only way artists will ever see wealth.

Once the art is submitted to the art director, the only money we make on it other than the commission is when Dave sells the original art. In the case of Star Wars or any Lucasfilm pieces Dave does, George Lucas has automatic first right of refusal to purchase any of Dave’s art, and he owns more than 90 original Dave Dorman oil paintings. (This is why when artists paint digitally, we scratch our heads, wondering how they eke out a living, since they have no original art to sell to collectors once the piece is submitted.) Artwork that has been published–be it on packaging art or a magazine cover–is always worth more to the art collector.

So, what is the blessing, if any, of work-for-hire illustration? The only silver lining to this cloud is that if you’re an artist doing work-for-hire work, it likely means you’re a self-employed solopreneur, and you’re probably leading a much happier life than you would be working for “the man.” You can go the movies at 1 p.m. on a Thursday and not wait in line. Your dry cleaning bills are non-existent. You’re saving money on fuel, lunches out, and let’s not forget all of those glorious tax write-offs!

I recently had the epiphany that we lead weird little lives here at the Dorman household. (I know, I know…all of my inner circle of friends out there are doing the face palm and calling me Captain Obvious as they read this.) So the epiphany happened the day Jack and I were back-to-school underwear shopping in our local Target. As we stood there debating whether to buy the Batman underwear with John vanFleet’s Batman packaging art vs. another friend’s Batman underwear art, I realized it.  The rest of the world would never give this a moment’s thought. To us, the artists–and the art they create–is so precious, so important…and we behold it with such reverence. Even if it’s on a frickin’ underwear package at Target.

So smash cut to breakfast at San Diego Comic-Con with John vanFleet. I shared my Batman underwear narrative, and John was amazed to learn that his Batman art was so dangerously close to 10-year-olds’ skid marks across America. Like I told you, the Artist is always the last to know.

That Time I Wrote for Newsarama

Every once in a while, I’ll get pulled into a project for Dave, like that time he informed me at breakfast on a Monday morning that the manuscript for his autobiography IDW wanted to publish was was due by end of business day on Friday. (Good thing they were on California time!) I dropped everything and camped out in his studio with my laptop and wrote all but the Foreword and about 10 pages written by his BFF Steve Smith.

The book I wrote in technically less than 5 days. 5 lbs. of Art & Text.

The 358-page book I (mostly) wrote in 5 days… 5 lbs. of Art & Text.

But I digress. Before #SDCC one year, Newsarama was looking for a fun hook, and I’m like a heat-seeking missile for the silly and the ridiculous, so I suggested writing Dave doing an interview with Alien and Predator in an L.A. White Castle. I pitched it because Dave was renowned for painting Alien and Predator’s images over the years, and this particular summer the first AVP film was coming out, so it was timely. Dave had earned his Eisner Award for Aliens: Tribes. (The Eisner is like the Oscars of the comic book field, for the uninitiated reading this).

Alien v. Predator by Dave Dorman

Alien v. Predator by Dave Dorman

So, I wrote it. Mind you, some of my comedic pacing is thrown off by the forced promotional mentions, and some of my grosser humor got cut, but I am posting it here for you today, in all of its sick & wrong glory:

DAVE DORMAN INTERVIEWS ALIEN and PREDATOR in a WHITE CASTLE

Back Story: Renowned illustrator Dave Dorman, Alien and Predator are old friends, dating back 15 years ago to the days when Dorman was painting Alien v. Predator pieces to please the Dark Horse fans…today the threesome reunites for a pre-Comic-Con interview in this Newsarama exclusive.

POV: We see the famed illustrator and two of his favorite creatures lunching at a local White Castle.

Dave Dorman: Hi guys. Thanks for wearing pants today.

Alien & Predator (in unison): Ditto.

Dave Dorman: Let’s Q&A. How did you like being depicted as warring nemeses in your new film, Alien v. Predator?

Alien: Well, the fans have been dying to see me kick Predator’s ass in a live action piece…

Predator, interrupting: Hold on a ****in’ minute. Whose ass did they want to see getting kicked by who?

Alien, continuing: I believe the correct word is whom…but Dave, you were the first one who actually depicted us dukin’ it out 15 years ago in your painting for Dark Horse Presents #36. It was that first fight cover in the swamp, remember?

Predator: That’s right! You made us fly down to your Florida studio and pose under all of those hot lights. In the middle of summer, no less! That was the modeling job from hell. Just for that, you’re buying lunch today. And I’ll take an extra sack of sliders for the flight home.

Dave Dorman: Nada, Rasta-boy; you can afford to pay your own way! But that particular cover has been one of the most popular from my fans–and yours. You have to admit, Predator, you seemed to enjoy posing with that hot babe on the cover I did for Alien v. Predator #4.

Predator: Nah, she didn’t do it for me. Though I did like that slinky, latex costume.

POV: We see Predator struggling to fit a milkshake straw into his etiquette-unfriendly mouth.

Dave Dorman: Havin’ some trouble, Predator? Let me help.

POV: Dorman’s hand shakes nervously as he pours the vanilla milkshake into Predator’s gaping pie hole.

Dave Dorman: Hey guys, remember when I worked on those designs for that first attempt at the Alien v. Predator movie 12 years ago? Did I ever show you my hybrid Predalien character?

POV: We see Dorman revealing the Predalien illustration to an astounded Alien and Predator.

Predator (sniffs with disdain): That is sick and wrong…unnatural. Not to mention chromosomally impossible.

Alien (lighting a cigarette): Humans shouldn’t be playing God with the mother race.

POV: Predator slaps the cigarette out of Alien’s mouth and his long claws rake against Alien’s jaw. A few drops of blood drip onto White Castle’s table, hissing as they burn steaming holes through it, then the floor.

Predator: Alien, how many times do I have to tell you? There’s no smoking in California restaurants! Besides I didn’t bring my inhaler.

Alien: Thanks, pal. There goes my goddam product placement cash from the tobacco industry.

Dave Dorman: You know, Alien, I have this persistent rust stain in my toilet and I’ll bet a few drops of your blood would take it right out.

Predator: I’m bettin’ it’s not a rust stain…

Dave Dorman (indignant): Nice. And to think I painted your flattering side in that jail scene for the Predator: Race War piece!

Alien: He doesn’t have a good side. He’s a ****in’ four-toothed freak!

Predator (growling): Wrap it up, Dorman. I’m not sitting much longer with this slimed up gene pool abortion.

Dave Dorman: Right. So, guys, what do you think of my WASTED LANDS series?

Alien: I got your RAIL graphic novel, which definitely had some slick Schuiten and European influences, but my agent’s been hanging onto my complimentary copy of THE UNINVITED. He wants some cool beach reading in case Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman ever invite him over to their private Malibu sands.

Dave Dorman (offering Alien his book): Ah, well here’s an extra copy for you.

Alien: Thanks, man.

Predator: I thought the artwork and the stories kicked ass–just like I do with Alien on a regular basis–HAH!–however, I noticed you didn’t write any parts for me or Alien into your new series.

Alien: Yeah, we’re a little hurt. Remember, I helped you win that Eisner Award for your graphic story album Aliens: Tribes. Nice work with writer Steve Bissette…

Dave Dorman: I’d include you guys in a New York minute, but you have that contractual thing happenin’ with your movie studio. Since you liked the artwork, I’ll forward both of you my “Tales of the Wasted Lands” from Atomeka Press, which is a collection of three Wasted Lands stories with a color portfolio coming out in October.

Predator: Cool. Let me leave you with my home address this time so my agent doesn’t permanently borrow my copy.

Alien: What else ya’ got cookin’, paint-boy?

Dave Dorman: Promise not to get pissed?

Alien: I’m not promising anything except for some seriously stale White Castle farts in your van for the ride back to the studio.

Dave Dorman: Okay, let me reiterate, I would have written you in if I could…

Predator (nods, knowingly) to Alien: He’s stalling…

Dave Dorman: Well…it’s a new Wasted Lands sci- fi action adventure novel, featuring my popular character Iguana, called…just don’t get mad, guys… “A Thousand Angry Teeth.”

Alien hisses (dripping with slime and sarcasm): Gee, I wonder who inspired that title?

Predator to Alien: Last time I checked with the dentist, you weren’t the only one with a mouthful of sharp teeth, you cocky bastard!

Alien (revealing menacing, dripping teeth, slowly rising up from his chair): That****in’ does it!

Dave Dorman: Hey, look!!! Isn’t that Harold and Kumar at the White Castle drive thru’?!?

POV: Alien and Predator–both cursed with short attention spans–look toward the drive thru’ window, distracted just long enough for Dorman’s quick get-away. Dorman flips them some cab money as he casually exits the fine dining establishment, relishing the fact that his van will be Alien fart-free for the drive home.

Approaching sirens wail, tables overturn, plate glass windows shatter and fry jockeys quiver beneath the stainless steel counter at the White Castle as Alien and Predator stage their own private, kick-ass sequel. Were it not for the 20th Century Fox-licensed monsters, it would definitely resemble a scene from Dorman’s action-packed sci-fi series, The Wasted Lands. Don’t believe it? See for yourself: http://wastedlands.com.