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Fitness | Guest Workout

'Mutts' Creator Says Nuts to Snacks

October 12, 1998|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Actually, it's a little bit like a Norman Rockwell painting," says Patrick McDonnell about his studio when he's working on his 4-year-old cartoon strip, "Mutts." The creator of the daily comic strip, which runs in The Times and features Mooch the cat and Earl the dog, elaborated over breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena: "The dog sleeps at my feet and the cat sleeps on the desk. Her tail will move once in a while, and it'll be right on the artwork so it's a little dangerous."

The dangerous tail--which could damage the day's ink drawings--belongs to Meemow; Earl, a 9-year-old Jack Russell terrier, also provides inspiration for McDonnell. Besides taking walks with Earl about three times a day around the neighborhood--McDonnell, 42, and his wife, Karen, live in New Jersey--McDonnell also plays tennis and practices yoga.

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Question: What got you into yoga?

Answer: Cartoonists have very bad posture. You're hunched over eight hours a day. My wife's been taking yoga for a long time. Finally I said, "I'm going to give it a shot," and God, I love it.

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Q: You sound surprised.

A: I'm amazed I like it. I take a class once a week--I have a really great teacher--her name is Go-pali--and I practice at home. I really could see the improvements. I'm standing taller. I'm breathing better.

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Q: How much tennis do you play?

A: I have a high school friend, and we still get together and play at least once or twice a week, and when the weather's really nice, three times.

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Q: I want to hear about your diet, especially since you work at home.

A: Well, I'm a vegetarian. I wake up around 6:30 and have brown rice. Sometimes oatmeal. I'm not a vegan. I occasionally have eggs. And toast. No butter. I really don't do dairy. And then lunch I usually reheat the dinner from the night before or sometimes a garden [nonmeat] burger.

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Q: What was dinner?

A: Oh, usually brown rice or pasta or a potato with steamed vegetables. We try to buy mostly organic stuff. I do most of the cooking.

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Q: Patrick, that's a boring diet. Do you ever eat snack food or dessert?

A: Yeah, it really is. You know, I'm not a snack guy at all. Nuts--macadamias, cashews. That's pretty much my snacking. I'm pretty rigid. I'm not really a big sweets person. My favorite dessert is my mom's apple pie, and on holidays I eat that.

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Q: Well, is Earl's diet any livelier?

A: Boy, Earl eats. Occasionally we give him vegetarian dog food, which he actually eats, so we feel good about that. Boy, I'm a vegetarian but I actually cook meat once in a while for him. He's also a big broccoli eater.

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Q: No he isn't.

A: He loves broccoli. And he's a big Brussels sprouts man. When we're away, Karen's mother takes care of him and she'll bake him hamburgers, so at her house when the refrigerator door opens, he runs to it and hangs out. In our house he couldn't care less. But he's in great shape.

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Q: What do you drink?

A: Mostly spring water. We have a water cooler in the house, so I get to hang out by the water cooler.

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Q: With your imaginary friends.

A: Yeah, I got a few. Got a whole cast of 'em.

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Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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