Thursday, October 27, 2011

hot chocolate

This afternoon I did something so crazy embarrassing at the office that I have been laughing pretty much straight for the last eight hours at my own expense.

Last week was my coworker's birthday. We'll call him "George." The two editors that own the business and manage us invited me to join the three of them for lunch. I had to work at my other place of employment that day, so sent my regrets, but assured George I would bring in some kind of desserty celebratory snack next time I was in. I asked about preferences and he said, "Anything involving chocolate would be great."

Cut to: This morning at the market where I was hastily picking up breakfast. While in line to pay, I remembered, "Oh RIGHT. George's birthday. I should bring chocolate." The check-out aisle at this tiny market is conveniently walled off by two towering shelves of chocolate that one can handily grab while in line. As there were people cued up behind me, I didn't really have time to browse. So I just scanned darkness percentages, quickly plucked one 75% dark chocolate bar, and then saw the word GINGER, in a display like this:


...and thought, "YUM. Fine." Made my purchases. Dashed to the office. Upon arrival, George was not at his desk so I plunked the two bars down in front of his keyboard and got straight to work.

The day was really hectic. George and the two partners were in a meeting for three hours. I was on an image-captioning tear. Mid-afternoon George rolls up, says, "Chocolate break?", and hands me a bar. I thanked him, pried off a chunk, and got back to business. Five minutes later I walked up and half-jokingly said, "Gimme more." He said, "Yeah, it's good, right? I also really look forward to the other bar you purchased."

"Oh me, too! I really like ging..."At which point he held up the other bar to my face, which, like a scene out of a Hitchcock film, suddenly came into all-too-sharp focus. My eyes were like saucers, and I think I went temporarily deaf from panic as I saw that below the word "Ginger" and the image of ginger that initially drew my impulse-buy paws in, was the word "SEXY" in capital letters. Plain. As. Day.


OMFG. I accidentally bought my co-worker sexy chocolate.

O.   M.   G.

Even worse? He thought it was INTENTIONAL. That it was A JOKE. That I was "being funny." So for the four hours prior, we had been in the same office, me thinking, "I gave George chocolate for his birthday. I'm nice. When is he gonna open it so I can eat some?" While George sat there saying nothing but, "Thanks for the chocolate" while thinking, "That Julia, what a card. Giving me sex chocolate right here in our open-office-plan office. Where all five occupants can see and hear every single thing."

"I thought you were being funny" felt generous. "I thought you were being mentally unwell" would have been the more fitting reaction.

To say I laughed is an understatement. I was doubled over with tears streaming down my face, in a full body sweat, breathless. Pretty much for the remaining three hours of work.

Dear Readers: Not only did the label say "SEXY" on the front, but, as George kindly went on to inform me, on the back there was a seductive paragraph essentially describing how in-the-mood this chocolate will make the consumer. I probably imagined half of what he said in my state of shock. I was beet red, convulsing, and finally made it back to my desk after choking out forty thousand "OMG obviously, I had NO IDEA what I bought" explanations though laugh-sobs. I sat at my computer hyperventilating, trying to talk down the crazy plane. I recovered just long enough to google "s-e-x-y  g-i-n-g-e-r  c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e." Research revealed that it also contained the good times ingredient Guarana. A new wave of horror hilarity washed over me. I basically gave George a bar of chocolatey Spanish Fly for his belated birthday gift.  NOOOOOoooooooo...

*thunk* 
*fainted*
*wake up to laugh again*
*faint again*

"Sorry I missed your birthday lunch, George. (wink wink) Here's something totally slutty for a co-worker with whom I usually discuss sports and music."

(Cue:"Santa Baby")
(The only song I can think of to fit this fake scene.)

Somehow I made it through the rest of the day, accomplishing a little work, doubling over for a moment, then regaining composure once more. It was like my siblings and I trying not to laugh during VERY SERIOUS CHURCH all over again. At one point I actually covered my mouth and dashed to the bathroom to privately laugh-cry.

Here's the thing, while I am obviously still dying of embarrassment, I am also one thousand percent amused. I live for this kind of humiliating hi-jinx / frazzled accident. Once upon a time during a rushed lunch break in the park, my friend dug through her backpack for anything spoon-like so she could eat her container of hummus. She found a coffee scoop and thought, "Perfect." After devouring out every last bit of hummus from the tub, she took a closer look at the fine print on the scoop handle only to realize that it actually said "MIRACLE-GRO." NOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo.

(Check for pulse)
(Laugh for ten years)

But my gaffe was not: "Oh ha ha, silly me, I was by myself and used a poison plant food scoop instead of a spoon for lunch."

Mine was: "Oh ha ha, today I accidentally sexually harassed my work buddy."

That said, while I am mortified beyond belief, I am also totally delighted with this new nomination for "One of the Dumbest, Most Embarrassing Things I Have Ever Done."

George took it all in stride. I clearly have no game. Or manners. And I need reading glasses. And to relocate.

He sent me a follow up email informing me: "Apparently pink peppercorn is also "SEXY""


I just noticed the caption on the site says: "Dark chocolate to spice up those special moments."

Dying all over again.

Monday, October 24, 2011

thinking outside the box / creature features

Will this sign ever not make me laugh? It's basically an advertisement saying: "TEENS: In case this dumb idea didn't occur to you already, you can thank us later!" It also seems like a scene someone dreamed up for Michael Jackson's Beat It video: "Here's what the rough-n-tough NYC 1980s subway looks like...to a choreographer! Where every space and surface is a STAGE!"

Speaking of Michael Jackson videos, I just found out that in November BAM is hosting a retrospective for director John Landis, the mastermind behind the Thriller video, as well as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, The Three Amigos, American Werewolf in London...

I will be attending all aforementioned screenings, thank you very much. The first and last time I saw The Blues Brothers in a theater I was six years old (my parents made some notoriously questionable theatrical choices for family fare in my youth, like Animal House two years prior), and the volume of the car chases, the music, and Carrie Fisher's machine gun and dynamite was so loud that my mom and I had to sit on a bench outside the theater and watch through the doorway from the hall. That's dedication. Maybe that outside-the-door subway rider is having a similar experience: The subway car proper is sensory overload. He just needs to keep his distance.

On the topic of movies, it's autumn in New York when the city feels like this:


On my own leafy walk the other day I saw a gathering of two joggers and two cyclists on the park road, with two TINY baby raccoons oinking and bouncing all around them. Their mom was nowhere to be found and these itty-bitty little guys looked like they were worried, asking for help, but also ready to party. Adorable doesn't even begin to describe the scene. The furry little guys were super friendly, boinging all over the place, clambering all over the joggers shoes. Anytime one of joggers tried to walk on, the raccoons got all over-excited and oinked more at them. Someone phoned the park district and a van rolled up, ready to take the babies to be fed and handled. Two burly, tough-looking park employees stepped out of the vehicle and melted, saying in very thick Brooklyn accents, "Oh man these guys are CUTE." They picked them up and (hopefully) drove them to a nice woodsy home.

And, finally, it's almost Halloween. I don't have my Tootsie outfit at all assembled. For a just-in-case costume, I have always wanted to buy a zip-up dog suit. Easy, can wear warm layers underneath, and I like dogs. No lose situation. When searching "dog costume" I came upon this image. Disturbing and hilarious, then disturbing all over again. Then hilarious once again.

The hound looks pretty unready to party. He mostly just looks resigned and humiliated. And injured. And huggableohyoucomehererightnow....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

high wire acts

After reading this article, I am really looking forward to the forthcoming Maurizio Cattelan retrospective at the Guggenheim museum. I have always had great appreciation for Mr. Cattelan's sense of reverent irreverence and the concept for this show is no exception. The notion of his works dangling from great heights, like a giant memorabilia mobile of greatest hits is, if anything, an absurdly terrific idea. Such positioning is a hysterical act of hubris, elevating his work to the highest level imaginable, but also the ultimate insult, suspending them as if prisoners in a rescue-me scene of a film, dangling over a modern abyss. The concept offers nuanced, charged commentary that is at once self-congratulatory and self-mocking, iconic and iconoclastic: This career is hanging by a thread; these works are celestial, God-like; this could all come crashing down at any moment...

Viewing these figures from the ground floor up through the center of the winding building makes me think of at least three images from film history (the last, potentially less identifiable image is from Time Bandits):


It's a dare and daring, arrogant and self-sacrificing, anti-establishment and at-the-mercy of the establishment. The whole envisioned spectacle seems to echo his marble Carrara sculpture of a middle-finger salute. I hope it translates as powerfully in the space itself as I am imagining it, anyway.

Speaking of mischief makers, I have been watching the new BBC program The Hour and was delighted to discover it stars McNulty from The Wire! The show mixes a magnetic mash-up of Mad Men makes-you-wanna-smoke nineteen fiftiesness, case-cracking Wire suspense, Mulder and Scully X Files leading man and lady chemistry, and Twin Peaks paranoia. I am really enjoying the show so far.  When I first watched The Wire, I could tell McNulty's American accent was an act. That said, McNulty's actual Irishy-British accent at use in The Hour seemed totally fake and confusing to me at first, as well. I am all settled in now and accepting his new life overseas. Intelligent people with British accents, crimes of passion, spies, romance—what's not to enjoy?

Man, that is a good looking group of people. This show is gripping and, at times, eerie. One of the nefarious characters has the similar pancake make-upped pasty countenance and thousand-yard stare of Robert Blake's chilling Boogeyman in David Lynch's Lost Highway. But, man, this guy is SO GOOD at translating and has excellent penmanship, which admittedly had me overlooking his Madame Tussaud face and stalking, stabby ways, and momentarily bad-boy crushing on this total psychopath. Just for like a second. Ahem. The program is completely engaging, and leaves me with a feeling of "Oh, to be a smart and smartly dressed, smoking, classy British reporter in the fifties" along with an urgent sense of omg-I-need-ten-people-to-sleep-over-and-protect-me-now-please after each episode. I pretty much feel this nervous when it is time to go to bed:



I am heading to London in November and will probably wear a trench coat, nice sweaters and skirts, and chase important leads on scandalous world news. Keep an eye out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

your mood is like a circus wheel

There's a play list on repeat in my household right now that rolls from comedic (A Tribe Called Quest's "Left My Wallet in El Segundo") to contemplative (Kings of Convenience "Me in You") to atmospheric (I Break Horses "Kill Your Love") to love sick (China Crisis' "Wishful Thinking."). It pretty much unintentionally covers any given daily mood range, so I've been choosing my song starting point depending on how things look when the alarm clock lights up along with the sun.

As we roll into autumn, the weather outside's been like a moody teenager—sunny, cheery, and "summer AND you are the BEST, mom" feeling one day; apocalyptic skies and "i hate you! i hate EVERYbody!!!" sobbing rain the next. And then there was today: Overcast, damp, bust-out-your-wool crisp, Brooklyn-as-Scotland day. Also a "discover the Smiths then take a walk and think about important things and probably journal about them" affair.

The main reason I am thinking about all this change of scenery and different moods business is admittedly just an excuse to talk about an illustration I recently saw:


Look at Frankenstein! What a busy, game-faced guy! He has so much to do for himself and for the community during a single day—and it's not always fun and games. He's a housekeeper, a small business man, a Toreador, a Cassanova...and through it all he applies himself equally to all he does, holding one unchanging, all-business attitude.

He just wants to fit in with humans and contribute to society. In a way, he's basically Nerd Bird Senior. Both green, both renaissance fellows, both leading extremely active lifestyles, both truly unflappable in any given context.

In my research I realize calling him Frankenstein is a misnomer. He is actually "Dr. Frankenstien's Monster." Through my reading, I also realize I want to see this movie:



The wikipedia description reads:

"The Chipmunks are performing at a theme park called Majestic Movie Studios. While taking a break from their concert, the Chipmunks get lost, and eventually get locked inside the park. They find their way to the "Frankenstein's Castle" attraction, where a real Dr. Frankenstein is working on his monster. The monster is brought to life, and the doctor sends it in pursuit of the Chipmunks. In their escape, the monster retrieves Theodore's dropped teddy bear. The monster follows the Chipmunks home and returns the bear to Theodore, who quickly befriends him. The Chipmunks learn that the monster (whom Theodore has nicknamed "Frankie") is truly good-hearted."

And that's just the beginning of the movie's emotional roller coaster ride. And the end of this entry. Because I have to go find this flick, immediately.