Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Secretary Files: A Dear Friend

Sometimes long days at the office can get boring, tedious, and even a little bit lonely. Other times they can be extremely stressful and aggravating. In the midst of either scenario it's important to have someone I can turn to, someone I can lean on for support, someone who willingly lets me vent my frustrations, even if it means taking out my frustrations on him. I am so glad and grateful to be able to say that I have just such a "someone" to get me through my tough times at work.

Meet Stress Ball.

He lives in the corner of my desk between my water bottle and my Kleenex box. Look at this guy!

Isn't he precious? So sweet and unassuming. I have this little friend beaming up at me all day long with his googly eye and single-toothed grin. Don't let the horns fool you. He really is a sweetheart. He's the perfect remedy for a difficult day.

Stress relief!

Phew! I feel so much better! That lady who yelled at me over the phone is nothing to me now! It's all a distant memory.

Now for those unbearably boring days. On stress ball's back is a strange little air bubble thing. When you squeeze it together it looks just like a mouth! I spend interminable afternoons making weird facial expressions or making it talk.

This one says, "Hi there! Happy to know ya!"

Bear with me. I was doing this one-handed all while trying not to get caught and questioned by my associates. Awkward!

This one says, "If that phone rings one more time, I'm gonna go postal!"

This one says, "It's not 5 o'clock yet? Awww, man!"

Now that's entertainment! I could go on for hours. I don't think I could make it through a whole day without Stress Ball. He is my constant companion and friend. I would definitely recommend a similar novel distraction to any working stiff out there. You'll never be lonely again!

Friday, March 18, 2011

OMGosh! The Karate Kid!!!

Since the announcement that Ralph Macchio would be appearing on this coming season of Dancing with the Stars, I've felt a joy and anticipation the likes of which I've never known before! I jumped off my couch and hopped around in circles, my head thrown back in blissful laughter! It's times like those I'm extra glad I live alone. Some of you may know this about me already, but I have a profound love for the original Karate Kid films. Like really and truly LOVE them. As in, if I were stranded on a desert island and could only take five movies with me, The Karate Kid parts I and II would be two of them. Many people have doubted and even questioned my regard for these remarkable movies, saying, "When you say you love the Karate Kid movies, it's a joke, right? You're just trying to sound silly and unexpected. Who honestly LOVES The Karate Kid movies?" I have to reply that honestly, those films move me. I laugh, I cry, I fear, I get goosebumps, and I always feel happy after I've watched it.

My love for these movies started when I was very young. I remember going to my grandma's house when I was a little kid and my aunt, who was a teenager at the time, watched those movies. I distinctly remember the part in Karate Kid part II when Kumiko is doing the tea ceremony with Daniel-san. The image of her beautiful, graceful hands was burned in my psyche for years to come. Jump now to my junior year of high school. I hadn't seen the movies for years. My awareness of them had all but faded away. My fellow movie-loving friend Robin and I were browsing at the video rental store. I walked past the Karate Kid movies and stopped short. Just seeing the covers brought back a flood of memories and adoration. We had to rent them! Thus we did and there was no going back. From that point, they became our constant study. They were our go-to choices for weekend movie nights. We went so far as to choreograph a short routine using Mr. Miyagi's defensive techniques (we were the coolest kids in school, too). We brought others into our obsession. I successfully dared one of my friends to come to school in Daniel garb: A baseball T-shirt layered under a small-plaid shirt, tucked into camo pants. That was one of the best days of my life to date.

For my eighteenth birthday I wanted nothing else but the trilogy on VHS and my mom obliged. I just about wore those things out over the next couple of years until it was released as a DVD box set. I went to the Wal-Marts at midnight the day it was to come out. To my shock, there was no line of eager Karate Kid fans to compete with. In fact, I had to ask the guy at the counter to bring them out of the back. He rolled them out, opened the box and handed me the top copy. I skipped through the aisles with elation! I wept the day Pat Morita died. I can quote nearly every line. I can whistle along with the music. I've seen every continuity error. I know every character. I can't even guess at this point how many times I've seen it. Not even an estimate. A billion, maybe.

Whenever I get into rough patches in my life I think about Mr. Miyagi training Daniel with hard work that seems to have no purpose but to make him suffer. I remember that I am, in fact, learning something bigger and greater that I could never learn otherwise.

I guess the point for me telling you all this is to encourage you to revisit the original movies if you haven't seen them in a while. I promise you'll enjoy them! Listen closely for hidden gem movie lines. They are alternately hilarious and profoundly wise. My love is real and I want you to throw off all constraints and preconceived notions you may have and give them a shot! You won't regret it! Annnnd... I feel like a used car salesman.

To give you a little push in the right direction, here's a little list of my favorite lines and behind-the-scenes info you might enjoy!

Mr. Miyagi: To make honey, young bee need young flower. Not old prune.

Tommy: Must be take a worm for a walk week!

Mr. Miyagi: Never put passion before principle.

Fact: The fight choreographer for the films also plays the main referee in Part I and the beginning of part II. He's also the silhouette you see doing the crane technique on the stump on the beach.

Ali's friend, Susan: She must be into fungus.

Mr. Miyagi: Walk on road right side, safe. Walk on left side, safe. Walk middle, get squished just like grape.

Tommy: Take a right! Check it out!

Fact: The music that mean nephew turns on in the car when he picks up Miyagi and Daniel from the airport in part II is the same music Ali dances with Johnny with at the country club in part I.

Someone somewhere in the stands: Johnny! You're a cream puff!

Fact: Part I features the worst first kiss in movie history brought to you by Daniel and Ali. A dead give away that they would never work out.

Mr. Miyagi: In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope hold up pants!

P.S. Vote for Ralph!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brass Knuckled in the Face!

I have this amazing friend named Jared. We've been buds since the day we met in college. Jared and I often go out seeking exciting adventures and we are never disappointed. Something about our combined energies causes the world around us to go utterly insane. I have no complaints about this because it makes for some awesome stories, even though it has placed us in some awkward, uncomfortable, and even potentially dangerous situations.

To wit, Jared and I decided to get together over Christmas break a few years ago. We met for dinner and some excellent conversation, then to go see a movie for which I had bought tickets earlier that day. The theater was inside a big mall, so thence we went. We walked across the packed parking lot full of happiness. Christmas lights were in the trees, music was in the air, and gladness was in our hearts.

As we approached the entrance, we noticed a police car parked by the curb. One officer was outside the vehicle, leaning against the passenger side talking to another officer seated in the car. The lights weren't flashing and they didn't seem distressed. I didn't give it a second thought at the time. But a strange thing happened as we walked through the doors. The mall seemed eerily abandoned for a pre-holiday evening at the mall. There were only a few people milling around a seating area outside the Sears just across from the movie theater. Again, it struck me as weird, but I didn't worry about it. We were a little early for our movie, so we started wandering. And, of course, our footsteps took us toward the very Sears Department Store outside which the few visible people were loitering.

What I saw: A couple scurrying quickly toward the exit doors, looking steadfastly forward.
What I thought: "La la la, the mall is fun! Oooh, pretty coat!"

What I saw: A group of young men wearing exceedingly baggy jeans, white t-shirts and various long, dangly necklaces and chains, nervously pacing.
What I thought: "Doo dee doo, Jared's my friend."

What I saw: Another young man sitting in a chair, his back towards me. He looked up at me as I brushed past him. I glanced down. Face. Open wounds. Blood dripping all over.
What I thought: "Whoa! What the... AHHHH!"

With no subtlety whatsoever, I grabbed Jared's arm and jogged briskly into the Sears and behind a shelf of high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Out of breath, we looked wide-eyed at each other for a second or two, then started babbling, "Oh my gosh! Did you see that guy?! Holy crap, his face was all like... and his blood was all over... and we were like... and what the heck?!?"

Once some of the adrenaline had subsided, we did the smartest thing we could possibly have done. We wanted a second look. So we oh so slowly and sneekily peeked our heads out from behind the shelf. And wouldn't you know it, we made such a scene from our first encounter that the whole group of guys were still watching the shelf behind which we had disappeared! Eye contact with the bloody guy! AHHHH! We jumped back behind the shelf, horrified.

With that we decided the best course of action would be to not exit the store the way we entered, thus making a third impression on the bloody fellow and his cohorts. We set off through the store to find another exit. We followed the labyrinth of tiled floor to an escalator going down, around small appliances and women's shoes until we finally found an exit. Several minutes had passed, and as we walked back toward the theater and, consequently, the crime scene, we noticed several police officers walking amongst the group of boys, some talking, some writing reports. There were some medical personnel on the scene tending to the bloody faced guy. Mall traffic was almost back to normal, people were going in and out of shops freely. We went to our movie and escaped any further involvement in the situation.

The next day, I went on the trusty intranets and searched to see if it could shed any light on the specifics of the night before. I came upon the story. Two opposing gangs had begun arguing in the food court. It escalated into a full-fledged gang fight. One participator had been... you guessed it... BRASS KNUCKLED IN THE FACE!

My theory is that we walked into that thing mere moments after it happened. I think those police officers we passed outside either hadn't even been notified yet or were the first on the scene and were waiting for some kind of back-up. I think the gang with the brass knuckler had already fled the scene and the guys that were still there were with face guy. I'm just glad Jared and I didn't have to see the actual violence perpetrated because I hate violence. It makes me extremely sad and uncomfortable.

Although I am kind of disappointed I didn't get to see the part where they danced around, snapping their fingers, bounding off the walls and singing their gang names back and forth at each other. That I would have liked to see.