200 Words with Paul Dini #2 – Odd Jobs

February 21, 2008

My first job was feeding five ocelots. I’d open their cage door, throw in the meat and run. That job only lasted a week, which was fortunate as the ocelots were starting to eat faster than I could exit the cage. That said, it was interesting work and I still find myself thinking fondly of Spot, Spots, Spotty, Spotina and Spotunia. Later I worked variously as a theatre usher, sporting goods seller and bartender in a seafood restaurant. This last job consisted mainly of mixing whisky sours for Boston bluebloods and preventing crazies from swiping lobsters from our aquarium display. Sometime after that I drifted into cartooning, first on restroom walls, then on notes to girls in class who threw them away, and finally for my college newspaper. This lead to a career writing and producing cartoons in Hollywood, though I’m still not quite sure how. From there I branched into live TV and comics. Now I’m writing this column, 200 words each week talking about whatever crosses my mind at the time I sit down to write. I think we’re in for some fun. If not, well, I guess I’ll be seeing if I can still outrun those ocelots. 


Paul Dini is the Emmy and Eisner Award winning writer of Batman: The Animated Series,Superman: The Animated Series, Detective Comics, and Countdown among many, many other things. You can find him online at either kingofbreakfast.livejournal.com or http://www.jinglebelle.com/.


  1. I’ve worked dozens of different jobs and am better off for it.  My favorite was a short order cook as I got to yell at everyone and everybody thought it was charming.  My least favorite by far was roofer.  Ocelot feeder never came up, though I do feed a fat cat named Goliath once a day.  Another 200 words down Mr. Dini.

  2. My current job involves a lot of counting and scanning and all that at night time. The money is okay, nonetheless it sucks taking the inventory of huge supermarkets. The job before was even more painful, as I was responsible for the IT. That translated to: Pressing the power button on a printer every once in while. Boring stuff. 

    But that’ll all pay off eventually. I hope… 

  3. I have gad my fair share of jobs.  From Shoe sales to Dishwashing to Trial secretary at the state attorney’s office.  Feeding the ocelots sounds more interesting than anything I have done.

  4. One summer, I worked at the Indiana State Fair, selling grilled corn.  As anyone from the Midwest who’s attended a fair knows, this consists of roasting corn in an oven for awihile, shucking it, and then dunking it in a pitcher of butter for paying customers.  While some may run at the opportunity to work with pitchers of butter everyday, it was horrible, standing by melted vasts of butter or by the grill in 100 degree summer weather. 

    I would come home every night, smelling like a vat of movie theater popcorn, and in turn, everything else I touched smelled like movie theater popcorn.  And I only made like 5 bucks an hour.  Worst job ever.

  5. I’m not smart enough to know what an ocelot is.

    Damn you Dini for making me look stuff up!

  6. most of my odd jobs seem to fall into two categories: heavy lifting and carpentry, both of which I do for my dad’s office on a pretty regular basis.

     It’s fun though, ‘cuz now I just got a better job at the summer camp I work at running the woodshop! 

  7. I once did security at a healthcare facility for very sick patients. Unfortunately, the patients would occassionally fall asleep while smoking and set themselves on fire. It was my job to watch them with a thick fire blanket nearby. (There were extinguishers, but they were a few feet away.) If their clothes did catch fire, I was trained to leap on top of them with the fire blanket, (hopefully) putting out the fire. All for eight dollars an hour. 😀

  8. I like hearing what peolpe did before they hit big.And i don’t know what ocelt is too.

  9. Before I started college I used to work in an Adult Theater for six months, it was interesting at times, had to throw a guy out once for "whipping his skippy" in the theater…that was funny until I waas told that I was the one who had to throw him out…yuck!

  10. I would totally dig working as a bartender in a seafood restaurant if that’s all I had to do.

    Of course, I wouldn’t mind working at an adult theatre, either. 🙂


  11. "Before I started college I used to work in an Adult Theater for six months, it was interesting at times, had to throw a guy out once for "whipping his skippy" in the theater…that was funny until I waas told that I was the one who had to throw him out…yuck!"

    Pardon me sir, would you mind returning your missile to its silo? No. I don’t want to shake your hand. I want to disinfect my soul. 

  12. Grunt work, aren’t we all the better from doing it? I went from working a fryer, to quite a few jobs in retail, and eventually on to sales. It’s wireless sales now, but I don’t think I ever would have gotten this job without the one before it, selling car & truck batteries to garages, and dealerships out of an ugly white truck. It was a lot of heavy lifting, and clothes with holes in them, but good hard work for a young man. I however, refuse to work with ocelots.

  13. @Quentin I’ve been doing wireless sales for the past ten years, and trust me I’m ready to take the ocelots at this point. 

  14. @gene: That actually sounds kind of entertaining to me… 😉

  15. That was the tip of the iceberg on that job. Deadly steam boiler rooms, less than sane, violent patients that stabbed people with needles or threw their feces. I can’t say it all here.

  16. @Jazzlawyer, you’re right, ocelots probably have better manners than some of the clientel that walks through the door. Statistically speaking though, their’ annual income tends to be a little low, and they just don’t purchase features, and accessories.

  17. What seafood place in Boston did you work?

  18. did anyone count the number of words? i’m WAY too busy so, you know, somebody else do. now.

  19. Thanks for the great Batman stories!

  20. @gene: Ups. All of the sudden it doesn’t sound like fun anymore…

  21. I love how so many stories seem to go from "I was doing random jobs like, y’know, cleaning up messes at Adult Book Stores or Feeding Wild Bullfrogs" to writing for such and such TV show or whatever. Gives my cold dead heart some hope that maybe down the road when I can finally think of something worth a damn to write, it might actually get, well, wrote…